Charles S. Peirce

Chap. 4 (-----draft)

MS 196 (Robin 369): Writings 3, 35-37
Fall 1872

        It is the business of the logician to study the nature of the fourth method of inquiry and to discover the rules for conducting it with success. The whole subject will in the exposition of it here offered to the reader be divided into three parts. The first shall treat of the essence of investigation in general, by whatever mind it is conducted and to whatever subject it is applied. The second shall treat of those maxims of investigation which become necessary owing to the peculiar constitution of man in his senses, and his mental nature. The third shall give some slight outline of the special methods of research which are applicable in the different branches of science, and which arise from the peculiarities of the matter investigated. In this first part then we have, broadly speaking, nothing to do with the nature of the human mind. Only as there are some faculties which must belong to any mind which can investigate at all, these must come under our consideration. All inquiry, for example, presupposes a passage from a state of doubt to a state of belief; and therefore there must be a succession of time in the thoughts of any mind which is able to inquire. In the fourth method of inquiry a certain predetermined though not pre-known belief is sure to result from the process; no matter what may have been the opinion of the inquirer at the outset. It follows that during the investigation elements of thought must have sprung up in the mind which were not caused by any thought which was present at the time the investigation was commenced. Such new ideas springing up in the mind and not produced by anything in the mind, are called sensations. Every mind capable of investigation must therefore have a capacity for sensations. But were all thoughts of this kind investigation would be almost an involuntary process. We might will to investigate but we could not change the course which investigation should take. There would therefore be no distinction between a right and a wrong method of investigation. Now we have seen in the last chapter, that such a distinction is essential to the 4th method of inquiry and is, in fact, the only thing which distinguishes it from the third. There must be thoughts therefore which are determined by previous thoughts. And such a faculty of producing thoughts from others must belong to every mind which can investigate. Without a succession of ideas in time it is clear that no reasoning is possible. I shall proceed to show that without it and without the determination of one idea by another no thought in any proper sense of the word is possible. We may grant (what we shall hereafter see is only true in a limited sense) that without any succession of ideas we may have a feeling and this feeling may be peculiar and distinguishable from other feelings. Furthermore such a feeling may have a power of producing new feelings on appropriate occasions, in such a way as to give it an intellectual signification. For example we may have a feeling which may so affect subsequent feelings that when we see a cloven-hoofed animal we imagine him chewing the cud. And then there is no objection to our saying that the first feeling which had the effect of making us when we saw the animal which was cloven-hoofed think of his chewing the cud—to our calling that feeling a thought. But in itself it is not a thought. For this principle I take to be axiomatical—That a feeling is nothing but what it is felt to be at the time that it is present to the mind. Any effect which it may have upon subsequent thought, is a fact relating to our mental constitution but is not a character of the feeling in itself as it exists when it is felt. If a feeling could feel itself to have such a relation to other feelings the case would be different. But in point of fact apart from the succession of time, a feeling has no relation to any other. What is it for example to say that one feeling is like another? A feeling is nothing but what it is felt to be and unless the one feeling is felt in feeling the other its likeness to that other is not felt in feeling that other. And therefore in themselves they are not alike. Nor ??? them should they be felt to be alike. They must be brought together in some third feeling and compared. But a feeling cannot exist except in the passing moment in which it does exist. In the ??? feeling neither of the others is present but only something or other which stands for them. Apart from this succession of feelings therefore and as they exist in themselves at the moments they are felt feelings have no likeness nor unlikeness. It is the same if one feeling is said to be more intense than another, or to have any sort of relation to another. So if I say that my state of feeling at any moment, consists partly of sensations of sound and partly of sensations of color this presupposes the classifications of feelings as sound feelings and color feelings which classifications already suppose likenesses between them. And these likenesses cannot themselves exist apart from the succession of time. ???        though feelings cannot be analyzed into other feelings without introducing conceptions belonging to the production of one feeling from another. In themselves then feelings have no parts. Nor can my state of feeling at any instant be said in itself to consist of two different feelings. But every feeling in itself is unanalyzed and absolutely simple.