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American PragmatismA Religious Genealogy$
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M. Gail Hamner

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195155471

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195155475.001.0001

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Charles Sanders Peirce

Charles Sanders Peirce

(p.91) 5 Charles Sanders Peirce
American Pragmatism

M. Gail Hamner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Charles Sanders Peirce was an American pragmatist whose notions of, and about community, inform not only his reformulation of ‘science’ and ontology but also the complex theory of continuity (synechism) that structures his pragmatism. Peirce's realism is examined through his theorizing of community and synechism, and an assessment of his attempt to reconcile Kant's idealism with British empiricism. One consequence of this reconciliation is a theory of truth that posits both the singleness of truth (a characteristic presumed by Hermann von Helmholtz and William Hamilton), and truth's infinite deferral in the light of the fallible modes of human perception and reasoning. Envisioning fallibilism as occurring always within and between communities of inquiry, Peirce develops the famous pragmatic supposition that truth is that which no one has a reason to disbelieve. The discussion of Peirce's realism includes his theory of generals and its resonance with Helmholtz's theory of the reality of natural laws; for both thinkers, the reality of a law (or general) differs from individual (and equally real) instances of that law, with the difference residing in Peirce's synechism, where Helmholtz attributes the reality of natural laws to the overarching action of causality.

Keywords:   belief, causality, community, empiricism, fallibilism, William Hamilton, Hermann von Helmholtz, idealism, Kant, natural laws, Charles Sanders Peirce, pragmatism, psychology, realism, synechism, theory of continuity, theory of generals, truth, U.S.A

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