Charles S. Peirce (06.12.04)

Arisbe, Milford, Pa.
1904 Dec 6

My dear William :

Thank you very much for your paper Humanism & Truth. You have a quotation from me which greatly astonishes me. I cannot imagine when or where I can have used that language "The serious meaning of a concept lies in the concrete difference to some one which its being true will make"1. Do tell me at once where I so slipped, that I may at once declare it to be a slip.

I do not think I have often spoken of the "meaning a concept" whether "serious" or not. I have said that the concept itself "is" nothing more than the concept, not of any concrete difference that will be made to someone, but, is nothing more than the concept of the conceivable practical applications of it.

As for people who say that pragmatism means believing anything one pleases, my answer to that will be found in the Popular Science Monthly for November 1877 and is, in brief, that if one could believe what one pleased that would be true2. But the fact is that one cannot.

I wish I had Royce's text where he asks How the mere pragmatist can feel it a duty to think truly, for he was present at my lecture where I showed that pragmatism (my pragmatism) makes logic a mere special case of ethics3.

But I regret that I do not see these publications & of course cannot reply to what does not come to my notice.

Please let me know where that singular quotation from me came from.

very faithfully
C S Peirce


1. MT, 37 [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 512].

2. Charles Sanders Peirce, "The Fixation of Belief", Popular Science Monthly 12 (November 1877): 1-15 [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 512].

3. Peirce is quoting WJ and not Royce (MT, 46). In "The Eternal and the Practical" Royce speaks of "pure pragmatism", which he claims is self-contradictory and which nobody holds. WJ supplied the word 'mere' [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 512].

Fin de: "L 224: Letter to William James" (06.12.04). Fuente textual en I. Skrupskelis y E. Berkeley (eds.), The Correspondence of William James (CWJ), Charlottesvile, University of Virginia Press, 2003, XI, pp. 511-512.

Fecha del documento: 29 de agosto 2006
Última actualización: 26 de enero 2011

[Página Principal] [Sugerencias]