The Unmet Challenge of Peirce’s Work

NB. I am posting these incipient thoughts as a promissory note, in hopes of nudging myself to develop the theme as time goes by.

The Unrealized Potential of Peirce’s Thought

One of my main philosophical and practical concerns for many years now has rested, in its restless way, with the potential contribution of Charles Sanders Peirce to our understanding of inquiry. If I were starting a new project today, instead of trying to dig my way out from under a mountain of unfinished business, it would get a title like “The Unmet Challenge of Peirce’s Work” or “The Unrealized Potential of Peirce’s Thought”. My feeling is that only a small fraction of Peirce’s potential contribution to our understanding has yet been realized and that something critical has been lost in the years since he lived. Consequently, my concern is less with the thinkers who came after him than with the clues their work provides to what was found and what was lost.

It has long been my experience that we cannot grasp the full import of Peirce’s work from the shadows that are cast on the analytic, atomistic, logistic, reductive, syntactic plane. I prefer looking at the work of the intervening years from Peirce’s conceptual perspective, instead of the other way around. I think that affords a much clearer view of things.

This entry was posted in Anthem, Inquiry, Peirce and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The Unmet Challenge of Peirce’s Work

  1. I totally agree. Peirce’s concept of science as an open and communicative activity of inquiry has not yet been acknowledged in its consequences. Borders are porous and the deductivism of most analytic, atomistic etc. reductionisms cannot cope with this. I hope we come to realize what it means sooner than later. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Simple enough to say that Peirce makes a Socratic worldview scientifically more valid than one derived from Descartes, or something like that.

    • Jon Awbrey says:

      That’s a true but subtle way of putting it. Developing the implications of that thought rather one-ups the gauntlet cast down here. I would be content with extending the line of inquiry that passes from Aristotle through Peirce.

  3. I also think that the unrealized potential of Peirce’s thought in actual Educational Philosophy is enormous. A lot of his concepts about the way of understanding could be applied in the field of Learning Theory.

    • Jon Awbrey says:

      There is so much to say about this that I don’t know where to begin. Dewey applied pragmatic ways of thinking to the practice of teaching and spearheaded the advance of progressive education. But the history of education in the United Sates is one of great leaps forward taking their turns with great leaps backward. As we speak, a retreat into regressive education is now the prominent trend, being pushed by a horde of self-serving interests that may indeed destroy all the progress, however halting, that was made over the last century. So the picture on the U.S. scene is currently rather gloomy.

    • Jon Awbrey says:

      On the sunnier side of the street, here are several papers that Susan Awbrey and I wrote at a time when the future of education looked much brighter —

      Awbrey and Awbrey • Presentations and Publications

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