The Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism
Tenth to Sixteenth Selections, pp. 133-241.

General Historical Note

For a detailed account of how the Harvard lectures came about, the reader will profitably read Patricia Turrisi's introduction to her study edition of the lectures (Pragmatism as a Principle of Right Thinking: The 1903 Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism, SUNY Press, 1997, pp. 1-20) as well as her commentary (ibid.: 23-105). While Peirce's application to the Carnegie Institution for a substantial grant was following its unsuccessful course, William James came to his rescue by persuading the Harvard Corporation to let Peirce deliver a course of six lectures and to pay him with privately raised money. Peirce was notified of the corporation's acceptance on March 16, 1903, ten days before the start of the course, and he immediately set out to write the lectures, of which he eventually gave seven, the last delivered on May 14, 1903 (all were given at 8 o'clock, in Sever Hall, room 11). Peirce gave an eighth lecture on May 15 on "Multitude and Continuity," but this was a separate lecture, sponsored probably jointly by the departments of philosophy and of mathematics (the matter is unclear), which Peirce had no time to write in full ((MS 316a contains only what may have been the first third of it, and the rest was presumably improvised). In eight weeks of prodigious philosophical activity Peirce managed to compose fifteen lectures filling seventeen notebooks, as some of the lectures were drafted and redrafted up to five times. The reader will find in EP2 the text of the seven lectures, as reconstituted from the notebooks that appear to contain the last available version of each. Since each lecture was limited to one hour and some of them were much too long, Peirce took the habit, shortly before each delivery, to shorten his text either by noting paragraphs and page ranges he wanted to skip, or by rewriting condensed versions of certain passages on their corresponding facing pages in the notebooks. Since the time constraints that forced Peirce to such self-editing do not apply to this edition, most skipped passages have been restored into the text. Whenever Peirce's condensed rewriting of some passages was deemed to be an improvement over the text it replaced, it was preserved in the body of the lecture, the alternate version being relegated to the endnotes when it was not merely repetitive.




The Maxim of Pragmatism
Tenth Selection, pp. 133-144.

MS 301 [Published in CP 5.14-40 and in Turrisi's HL (1997): 104-121.]

Origin of the Text

The first lecture, left untitled by Peirce, and composed some time after March 16, 1903, was delivered on Thursday, March 26, 1903. Advertised in the Harvard University Calendar as the "Introduction" to the series of lectures, MS 301 discusses the advantages of pragmatism as a logical method of inquiry—hence the title here given to it. Apparently Peirce wrote no draft of the first lecture.