Ideas, Stray or Stolen, about Scientific Writing

Twenty-third Selection, pp. 325330.

MS 774. [First published by J. M. Krois in Philosophy and Rhetoric 11 (1978): 147155.]

Origin of the Text

At the end of July 1904 Peirce published in The Nation (CN 3:17981) a negative review of T. Clifford Allbutt's Notes on the Composition of Scientific Papers. The book's ineptitude set Peirce into thinking about the rhetoric of scientific communications (MS 776), a topic about which he decided to write a two-part essay, the first part to be general, the other, special (MS 777). Peirce apparently wrote only the first of the two papers, whose complete title ended with the indication "No. 1" omitted in EP2. A complete draft of MS 774 is in MS 775, with the alternative title "Jottings on the Language of Science. No. 1". It is unclear in which journal Peirce intended to publish the essay; it could have been the Popular Science Monthly, whose editor asked Peirce in September 1904 to contribute an article--something Peirce had to forgo when he realized that the journal could not afford to pay him.