Let me state a few principles that have guided me in my efforts to read and understand Peirce for the past fifty years.
There is a long-running strain of Peirce commentary that sees radical modifications in his thinking over the years. I do not belong to that tradition. I see more continuity than radical re-thinking in his thought through the years. But seeing things that way is due to a certain perspective.
I apply the same principles of charitable and critical interpretation to Peirce that I do to any other writer.
Charity entails a search for a consistent interpretation if one is possible at all. Charity goes only so far with some writers and some styles of writing; contradictions of a sort that cannot be glossed over develop almost immediately and about all one can do is read things emotively or impressionistically after that point. In Peirce’s case I almost always find that a little extra charity repays itself in the long run. That is not to deny the apparent inconsistencies that we find in Peirce’s work, taken whole cloth, as careful readers have noted many, but it does imply a particular strategy for dealing with the wrinkles that do appear.
To be continued …