Re: Peirce List Discussion • Gary Richmond
When I think back to the conceptual changes my first university physics courses put me through, a single unifying theme emerges. Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics had a way of making the observer an active participant in the action observed, having a local habitation, a frame of reference, and a bounded sphere of influence within the universe, no longer an outsider looking in. As I soon discovered in my wanderings through the libraries and bookstores of my local habitation, this very theme was long ago prefigured in the corpus of C.S. Peirce’s work, most strikingly in his Logic of Relatives and Pragmatic Maxim, taken as a basis for his relational theories of information, inquiry, and signs.
It is more this level of underground conceptual revolution that comes to mind when I think of Peirce’s impact on the development of physical theory, needless to say science in general, more than any particular doctrines about continua, especially since continua posed no novelty to classical mechanics, indeed, if anything, were more catholic within its realm, while quantum mechanics introduced an irreducible aspect of discreteness to physics.