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Charles Sanders Peirce / Edition 2

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Overview

"[Brent] has produced a thoughtful, sometimes moving, and entirely accessible intellectual biography which is also, under the circumstances, indispensable." —The New York Review of Books

"... a fine biography."—The New York Times Book Review

"... an extraordinary, inspiring portrait of the largely forgotten Peirce, a progenitor of modern thought who devised a realist metaphysics and attempted to achieve direct knowledge of God by applying the logic of science." —Publishers Weekly

In this expanded paperback edition of the critically acclaimed biography of a true American original, the philosopher-polymath Charles Sanders Peirce, Joseph Brent refines his interpretation of Peirce’s thought and character based on new research, and has added a glossary and a detailed chronology.

Indiana University Press

Perhaps the most important mind the United States has ever produced, Peirce lived from 1839 to 1914, and he made significant contributions as a mathematician, astronomer, chemist, engineer and inventor. He was also a psychologist, a student of medicine and, above all, a philosopher--often compared to Plato and Aristotle. Now Brent details his amazing, tormented life. 35 photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
"Peirce (1839, 1914) is America's most creative, dominant, and original philosopher. Yet the first book-length biography of the founder of pragmatism was not published until 75 years after his death: Elisabeth Walther's Charles Sanders Peirce: Leben und Werk (Baden—Baden, 1989). Now we have the first American biography, and a superb book it is. The 35 years Brent expended in making this biography have seasoned and enriched his definitive production. (The telling of Peirce's story, like his life, has been fraught with malversation. Some day the story of telling his story will be told.) Here, the facts of Peirce's life are integrated into the systematization that he hoped would for a long time to come [influence] the entire work of human reason. From fields as diverse and powerful as semiotics, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, psychology, linguistics, geology, philosophy of science, mathematics, and religion, these effects are being acknowledged. The role of Peirce's life in the chronological development of his ideas structures this narrative and gives an expositional argument for a solid interpretation of his philosophy as a single architectonic system. Five chapters of the biography cover in chronological order 75 years of Peirce's life. The sixth and last, a brilliant essay The Wasp in the Bottle, could alone make this work a masterpiece. Indiana University Press is also publishing a complete edition, Writings of Charles S. Peirce (1982— ; v.1, CH, Feb'83). Six volumes are published of 30 expected. (The project, this year, is in a struggle for continued support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.) From the published volumes, IUP has now issued the first of a projected two—volume sampler: The Essential Peirce, containing 25 well—edited, important works written by Peirce from 1867 to 1893, with an excellent introduction by Nathan Houser, associate editor of the Peirce Edition project. From Harvard University Press comes Peirce's Cambridge Conference Lectures of 1898, Reasoning and the Logic of Things. The text, taken from the Houghton Library collections for the purpose of a study edition, is without the critical editorial work of the IUP editions. The 50 pages of comment by Hilary Putnam are of interest in themselves; the 160 pages of Peirce's eight lectures are demonstrations of the authority and originality of his thought. Here is a generally accessible and complete account of Peirce's mature work constructed by Peirce himself in order to introduce his philosophy to nonspecialists. This book in an undergraduate library would make Peirce's philosophy intelligible independently of philosophy courses and philosophy teachers. Each of these books is well published and contains effective notes and an adequate index. This reviewer's highest recommendation is for Brent's biography, which should be in every college and university library in America. The next priority is Reasoning and the Logic of Things, a new and valuable addition to Peirce primary sources presently available. Libraries not subscribing to the complete Writings...should certainly order The Essential Peirce." —K. J. Dykeman, Fairfield University, Choice, September 1993

— K. J. Dykeman, Fairfield University

Choice - K. J. Dykeman

"Peirce (1839, 1914) is America's most creative, dominant, and original philosopher. Yet the first book-length biography of the founder of pragmatism was not published until 75 years after his death: Elisabeth Walther's Charles Sanders Peirce: Leben und Werk (Baden—Baden, 1989). Now we have the first American biography, and a superb book it is. The 35 years Brent expended in making this biography have seasoned and enriched his definitive production. (The telling of Peirce's story, like his life, has been fraught with malversation. Some day the story of telling his story will be told.) Here, the facts of Peirce's life are integrated into the systematization that he hoped would for a long time to come [influence] the entire work of human reason. From fields as diverse and powerful as semiotics, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, psychology, linguistics, geology, philosophy of science, mathematics, and religion, these effects are being acknowledged. The role of Peirce's life in the chronological development of his ideas structures this narrative and gives an expositional argument for a solid interpretation of his philosophy as a single architectonic system. Five chapters of the biography cover in chronological order 75 years of Peirce's life. The sixth and last, a brilliant essay The Wasp in the Bottle, could alone make this work a masterpiece. Indiana University Press is also publishing a complete edition, Writings of Charles S. Peirce (1982— ; v.1, CH, Feb'83). Six volumes are published of 30 expected. (The project, this year, is in a struggle for continued support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.) From the published volumes, IUP has now issued the first of a projected two—volume sampler: The Essential Peirce, containing 25 well—edited, important works written by Peirce from 1867 to 1893, with an excellent introduction by Nathan Houser, associate editor of the Peirce Edition project. From Harvard University Press comes Peirce's Cambridge Conference Lectures of 1898, Reasoning and the Logic of Things. The text, taken from the Houghton Library collections for the purpose of a study edition, is without the critical editorial work of the IUP editions. The 50 pages of comment by Hilary Putnam are of interest in themselves; the 160 pages of Peirce's eight lectures are demonstrations of the authority and originality of his thought. Here is a generally accessible and complete account of Peirce's mature work constructed by Peirce himself in order to introduce his philosophy to nonspecialists. This book in an undergraduate library would make Peirce's philosophy intelligible independently of philosophy courses and philosophy teachers. Each of these books is well published and contains effective notes and an adequate index. This reviewer's highest recommendation is for Brent's biography, which should be in every college and university library in America. The next priority is Reasoning and the Logic of Things, a new and valuable addition to Peirce primary sources presently available. Libraries not subscribing to the complete Writings...should certainly order The Essential Peirce." —K. J. Dykeman, Fairfield University, Choice, September 1993

From the Publisher
"This title has been reviewed jointly with The essential Peirce: selected philosophical writings. v.1: 186" —1893," by Charles Sanders Peirce; and "Reasoning and the Logic of things: the Cambridge conferences lectures of 1898," by Charles Sanders Peirce.

Indiana University Press

"Peirce (1839, 1914) is America's most creative, dominant, and original philosopher. Yet the first book-length biography of the founder of pragmatism was not published until 75 years after his death: Elisabeth Walther's Charles Sanders Peirce: Leben und Werk (Baden—Baden, 1989). Now we have the first American biography, and a superb book it is. The 35 years Brent expended in making this biography have seasoned and enriched his definitive production. (The telling of Peirce's story, like his life, has been fraught with malversation. Some day the story of telling his story will be told.) Here, the facts of Peirce's life are integrated into the systematization that he hoped would for a long time to come [influence] the entire work of human reason. From fields as diverse and powerful as semiotics, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, psychology, linguistics, geology, philosophy of science, mathematics, and religion, these effects are being acknowledged. The role of Peirce's life in the chronological development of his ideas structures this narrative and gives an expositional argument for a solid interpretation of his philosophy as a single architectonic system. Five chapters of the biography cover in chronological order 75 years of Peirce's life. The sixth and last, a brilliant essay The Wasp in the Bottle, could alone make this work a masterpiece. Indiana University Press is also publishing a complete edition, Writings of Charles S. Peirce (1982— ; v.1, CH, Feb'83). Six volumes are published of 30 expected. (The project, this year, is in a struggle for continued support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.) From the published volumes, IUP has now issued the first of a projected two—volume sampler: The Essential Peirce, containing 25 well—edited, important works written by Peirce from 1867 to 1893, with an excellent introduction by Nathan Houser, associate editor of the Peirce Edition project. From Harvard University Press comes Peirce's Cambridge Conference Lectures of 1898, Reasoning and the Logic of Things. The text, taken from the Houghton Library collections for the purpose of a study edition, is without the critical editorial work of the IUP editions. The 50 pages of comment by Hilary Putnam are of interest in themselves; the 160 pages of Peirce's eight lectures are demonstrations of the authority and originality of his thought. Here is a generally accessible and complete account of Peirce's mature work constructed by Peirce himself in order to introduce his philosophy to nonspecialists. This book in an undergraduate library would make Peirce's philosophy intelligible independently of philosophy courses and philosophy teachers. Each of these books is well published and contains effective notes and an adequate index. This reviewer's highest recommendation is for Brent's biography, which should be in every college and university library in America. The next priority is Reasoning and the Logic of Things, a new and valuable addition to Peirce primary sources presently available. Libraries not subscribing to the complete Writings...should certainly order The Essential Peirce." —K. J. Dykeman, Fairfield University, Choice, September 1993

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), whom Brent considers ``the greatest philosopher the United States has ever seen,'' was an experimental psychologist, mathematical economist, chemist, astronomer and engineer, the inventor of semiotics and the founder of pragmatism. But this genius also lived extravagantly beyond his means, recklessly pursued get-rich-quick schemes and sank into poverty. A well-born Bostonian, Peirce married his mistress Juliette Froissy, who falsely claimed to be a Hapsburg princess, and established a 2000-acre estate in the Delaware River Valley, where he entertained patrons who he hoped would fund his inventions. Impulsive and given to outbursts of rage, he abused Froissy as well as his first wife, Harriet Fay, a feminist educator. In this first full-length biography of Peirce, Brent, a historian at the University of the District of Columbia, presents an extraordinary, inspiring portrait of the largely forgotten Peirce, a progenitor of modern thought who devised a realist metaphysics and attempted to achieve direct knowledge of God by applying the logic of science. Photos. (Jan.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Having published eight books on C.S. Peirce, the founder of American pragmatism, Ketner is an acknowledged authority on the man as well as a true believer. The collected papers of Peirce (pronounced Purse) were published in multivolume editions, but Peirce never wrote an autobiography. To make up for this omission, Ketner has begun to write one for him in the first of three planned volumes. To produce this work of literary nonfiction, Ketner has inserted imagined speeches by Peirce and passages from Peirce's letters and philosophic writings where he "waxed autobiographical." To move the story along, Ketner introduces a narrator and two other fictional characters who function as intellectual detectives, separating genuine revelations from bogus ones. Their sleuthing may be helped or hindered by the fact that the narrator believes he is possessed by the spirit of Peirce. The reader is therefore confronted by a real author (Ketner), a dead subject (Peirce), fictional characters and reconstructed and imagined events. Using this convention, Ketner is able to make Peirce more immediate, and he weaves together an impressive amount of research on Peirce's early life, connecting thoughts to the thinker. However, the device of fictional scholarship becomes very complicated, awkward and, ultimately, impossible to sustain. If, as pragmatism claims, truth is whatever works, then this book cannot be called true. (Aug.) FYI: Indiana University is releasing Joseph Brent's Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life in a revised and enlarged edition. ($35 ISBN 0-253-33350-4; paper $18.95 -21161-1)
Library Journal
Volume 5 of the Writings of Charles S. Peirce brings the editors of the Peirce Project one step closer to their momentous goal: a complete edition of the philosopher's works. The present volume included both an important paper on logic that introduces quantification theory and the ``Study of Great Men,'' notes gathered by Peirce for a statistical study of human achievement. Though some of the material, e.g., ``The Reciprocity Treaty with Spain,'' is of purely antiquarian value, the editors should be congratulated for their pursuit of one of the great scholarly endeavors of our time. Recommended for academic collections. Brent's biography of Peirce, also a considerable scholarly achievement, will have a much wider popular appeal. As Brent (history, Univ. of the District of Columbia) stresses, Peirce had a volatile nature. He was often carried away by enthusiasm, and his philosophy bears the mark of his wild temperament. The author notes Peirce's constant academic and personal feuds and the powerful influence of his father, Benjamin. This outstanding book, the first full-scale biography of Peirce, illuminates both Peirce's life and his philosophy.-- David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., Ohio
NY Review of Books
"[Brent] hs produced a thoughtful, sometimes moving, and entirely accessible intellectual biography which is also, under the cumstances, indispensable."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253211613
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1998
  • Edition description: Revised and Enlarged Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Brent, an intellectual historian, was formerly on the faculty at the University of the District of Columbia.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Facets of the Puzzle 1
1 Father, Son, and Melusina: 1839-1871 26
2 "Our Hour of Triumph is What Brings the Void": 1871-1882 82
3 Expulsion from the Academy and the Search for a New Eden: 1883-1891 136
4 Paradise Lost: 1890-1900 203
5 Endgame: 1900-1914 269
6 The Wasp in the Bottle 322
Notes 348
Bibliography 370
Index 378
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