Charles S. Peirce (08.01.09)

Arisbe, Milford, Pa.
1909 Jan 8

Dear William:

Nothing would gratify me more than to take up the cudgels in your defence though controversy is not, generally speaking, to my taste. The January Monist, which I have received, appears to open with an article (that I don't desire to read unless with the purpose of saying what I think of it) that at a hasty glance seems to be an indecent attack upon you1.

Now different people take indecent attacks so differently! I remember being at Garrison's house in E. Orange one day when Chas. E. Dana had printed one of his scurrilities against my friend2. To me it was an absolutely incomprehensible that he should care for what all decent people despised; just as it was to note old Sylvester's delight when the Royal Society conferred upon him the Copley medal (as if he were not himself a far better judge of his place on the roll of mathematicians than that mixed company could be!)3 But poor Garrison was cut to the heart. You are made of sterner stuff & I know not how you will be moved. But since I have of late (I mean in the last year) repeatedly expressed my dissent from some of your positions, it would do me good, much good, to write my sincere estimate of your force as a discerner of philosophic truth and practician of logic. But perhaps you would prefer I should not soil my fingers with the assault (if it really be such)4.

Carus has elements of good in him. He is doing a good deal of good. But a letter I got the other day from a common friend of him & me in Chicago analyzing him very accurately (except that the writer forgot to mention that the instincts of a gentlemen had been omitted from C's natural make-up) and he told me that Carus, not content with his accidental opulence, fretted because he hadn't attracted as much attentio from philosophic world as he thinks he merits, and that my correspondent feared from certain indications that Carus was casting about for something to give him prominence and to exhibit his power in controversy (of which he is proud, though in my opinion it consists mainly in so mixing up different objections that it is difficult to seize upon any one,) and that he would,—perhaps had already resolved to—make a violent attack on Pragmatism. That, of course, can do no harm. It will be, at most, a bone for Schiller. Only Carus would be sure to introduce so much personalities that it would be very disagreeable for me & very likely make me break off my defence of Pragmatism just as I am reaching the heart of it & am gathering together all my strings. My next article, which I have been holding back for years in orden to be sure of its being quite ripe, is intended to apply my Existential Graphs in a way nobody has suspected, I will ventured to say, to show in what logical analysis, i.e. definition, really consists, and then how the operation must be conducted, emphasizing the absolute need of an Icon, or simulacrum, in order to bring the analysis out right, and showing that the definition of definition is at bottom just what the maxim of pragmaticism expresses5. And, by the way, there will be a delicate reagent to test whether a concept be simple or not. Then it will only remain in the last of the papers of the series by drawing up a summary of all the arguments.

I have been horribly overworked for over a month due to sundry causes; but it would be a refreshment of strength to enter upon your defence.

Ever yours
C. S. Peirce


1. Edwin Tausch, "William James, the Pragmatist—A Psychological Analysis", Monist 19 (January 1909): 1-26 [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 145].

2. Wendell Phillips Garrison (1840-1907), editor of the Nation, living in Orange. N. J. Correspondence is known from 1875 to 1906. Dana was not identified. There was Charles Edmund Dana (1843-1924), American printer and critic, but he had no obvious motive. More likely was Charles Anderson Dana (1819-1897), American journalist, best known as editor of the New York Sun. He was given to attacks on mugwumps and liberals and thus could have attacked Garrison [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 145].

3. James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897), English-born mathematician. Sylvester taught at several institutions, including Johns Hopkins, where he was Peirce's colleague and where the two clashed occasionally [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 145].

4. A defense of WJ by Peirce is not known [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 145].

5. No evidence that Peirce published such an article was found [Nota de CWJ, XI, p. 145].

Fin de: "L 224: Letter to William James" (08.01.09). Fuente textual en I. Skrupskelis y E. Berkeley (eds.), The Correspondence of William James (CWJ), Charlottesvile, University of Virginia Press, 2003, XI, pp. 144-145.

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

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