Date of Award

Summer 1950

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




Little is known about the life of Charles Sanders Peirce and perhaps even less about his system and place in the history of American philosophical thought. Somewhat superficially we recognize that he influenced the pragmatism of William James, but even here, were the facts known, the influence would be exceedingly remote, owing to James's own misinterpretation of' Peirce's leading ideas. Prof. Perry says that: "Perhaps it would be correct, and just to all parties, to say that the modern movement known as pragmatism is largely the result of James's misunderstanding of Peirce." James himself at one time stated that Peirce 's lectures were pleasant to listen to but practically impossible for him to understand. The fact that James and others, notably Papini and F. C. S. Schiller, radically transformed Peirce 's "mere maxim of' logic" into a "sublime principle of speculative philosophy" need not here concern us, except that we recognize that Peirce is still a figure very much clothed in the garb of mystery and misunderstanding.

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