Mathematical Method • Discussion 5

Re: Ontolog ForumPaul Tyson

Dear Paul,

“How We Think” is a topic for the descriptive science of psychology, and its ways are legion beyond definitive or exhaustive description.

“How We Ought To Think” if we wish to succeed at specified purposes is a topic for the normative science of logic, lumping together for the moment the evolving varieties of informal, formal, mathematical, and technologically augmented methods.

They’re all good questions and I see no reason not to pursue them all, aside from the limitations of our brief lives, but we have to keep the spectrum of different aims sorted.

John Dewey wrote the book How We Think in 1910.  Peirce had earlier summed up his “non-psychological conception of logic” in the pithy motto “Logic has nothing to do with how we think” and this led some scholars to suspect Dewey’s title was aimed as a poke in Peirce’s ribs.  But the book itself is a How-To guide devoted to improving our capacity for learning and reasoning, what we’d call today instruction in critical thinking.

All that is prologue to Vannevar Bush’s 1945 article, “As We May Think”, projecting the ways technology may amplify our capacity for inquiry going forward into the future.  I think this is where we came in …


  • Eisele, C. (1982), “Mathematical Methodology in the Thought of Charles S. Peirce”, Historia Mathematica 9, pp. 333–341.  OnlinePDF.

cc: CyberneticsOntolog • Peirce List (1) (2) (3)Structural ModelingSystems Science

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