Pearson's Grammar of Science

Sixth Selection, pp. 57-66.

P 802: Popular Science Monthly 58 (January 1901): 296-306. [Published in CP 8.132-152.]

Origin of the Text

Peirce thought this book review was the best written text in all of his work (L378:5). Its complete title includes the subtitle "Annotations on the First Three Chapters" (but some remarks are made on the fourth chapter as well). Peirce's review (P 501) of the first edition of Pearson's book appeared in The Nation in July 1892 (Contributions to The Nation 1:160-161). Of the second edition of The Grammar of Science (London: Adams & Charles Black, 1900) Peirce published a short, negative notice (P 725) in The Nation on 15 March 1900 (Contributions 2:237). On 10 March 1900, J. McKeen Cattell, the editor at the time of the two journals Science and The Psychological Review (and, two months later, of the Popular Science Monthly) asked Peirce to write a review of Pearson's book for the Psychological Review. Peirce agreed immediately and began to collect reading notes for the purpose (they survive in MS S76). On April 2 he asked Cattell what should be the length of the review, given that it "will be important since the book is much used and I shall be able to show that its doctrine is in important respects altogether untenable." Cattell answered promptly that Peirce could have all the space he wanted, a long and thorough review being expected. Peirce, however, was unable to write the review before October, too late for the November issue. Cattell suggested then that "in view of the general interest of the review, it might be printed to advantage in the Popular Science Monthly"—albeit for a lesser pay. Peirce agreed, thinking that it would provide better publicity, and added that he wanted to write a second article to deal with some of the other chapters (he never did). A complete draft with important variations (some published in CP 8.136n3 and 8.153-156) is found in MS 1434.