Apr 1, 2015

Wed Review (Charles Sanders Peirce - How to Make Our Ideas Clear)

Peirce places emphasis on logic, which is a sensible thing as it can teach us how to make our ideas clear and be masters of our own meaning.

His first step is to criticize the notions of 'clear' and 'distinct', saying "since it is clearness that they were defining, I wish the logicians had made their definition a little more plain". I had this same objection reading Descartes, it seems Descartes just throws the terms out there without using discretion.

Descartes was one of the first thinkers to try and replace authority for the measure of truth. He, through skeptical methods, concluded that self-consciousness decided truths based on agree-ability with reason. This makes the mistake of allowing ideas that seem to be 'clear' but are actually not to be accepted. To counter this, the ideas must be 'distinct' which is to mean tested by dialectical examination.

Perice's pragmatism comes out when he states that Leibniz missed "the most essential point of the Cartesian philosophy, which is, that to accept propositions which seem perfectly evident to us is a thing which, whether it be logical or illogical, we cannot help doing."

Belief, he states, has three properties. It is something we are aware of, it appeases doubt, and it establishes rules of action (or habits). Peirce then arrives at the notion that we conceive an object based on our conception of the effects that it has. You can't be in disagreement with someone else if you both agree in regard "to all their sensible effects".

Peirce attempts to dissect numerous philosophical debates by analyzing what we mean by certain words, and how many arguments arise over a confusion of terminology and are often just questions of the propriety of language. "There is some vague notion afloat that a question may mean something which the mind cannot conceive; and when some hair-splitting philosophers have been confronted with the absurdity of such a view, they have invented an empty distinction between positive and negative conceptions, in the attempt to give their non-idea a form not obviously nonsensical."

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