On Phenomenology
Eleventh Selection, pp. 145-159.

MSS 305 and 306. [Published with omissions in CP 5.41-56 and 5.59-65 and in Turrisi's HL (1997): 150-165.]

Origin of the Text

The second lecture was delivered on Thursday, 2 April 1903, under the Harvard Crimson-advertised title of "Phenomenology or the Doctrine of Categories." What document Peirce read at the lecture is not entirely clear. His first plan had been to discuss mathematics and to show how an analysis of the mathematical reasoning could lend support to pragmatism. He wrote two different versions of a lecture to that end (MSS 302-303, published in Turrisi's HL 123-138) but then realized he could not afford the time needed to do justice to such a formidable subject. He thus abandoned it and turned his efforts to an explanation of his phenomenology. Three documents relating to that effort have survived. The first is MS 304, "On Phenomenology," (published in HL 139-150), but Peirce rejected it with the self-injunction "To be rewritten and compressed." This leaves us, on the one hand, with MS 305, the second draft, also titled "On Phenomenology," which Peirce at some point seems to have wanted to reject, as he wrote "This won't do it will have to be rewritten" at the top of the first page, and, on the other hand, with MS 306, labeled "3rd Draught" and titled "On Phenomenology, or the Categories"—a title closer to the Crimson advertisement. A red-inked note at the beginning of MS 306 explains Peirce's intention to begin by making a first draft about the third category, and then to compress what he wanted to say about the first two categories according to the amount of time he might be left with. Obviously Peirce was getting distressed (he quotes Polonius's "Tis true 'tis pity | and pity 'tis 'tis true" in Hamlet II.II. 97-98). MS 306 is incomplete, as the 12 pages it contains barely touch the matter of the third category, and this leaves us with the possibility either that Peirce used both MSS 305 and 306 for his lecture, or that there was another, final version that did not survive. The text in EP2 conflates the two manuscripts.