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Nathan Houser’s Introduction to Vol. 8 Long Version


The period from the spring of 1890 into the summer of 1892 was a time of emotional turmoil for Peirce, a time of rash ventures and dashed hopes that would culminate in a transforming experience and a new sense of purpose. In the decade following the death of his father in 1880, Peirce suffered a number of life-changing defeats, including the loss of his teaching appointment at Johns Hopkins University and the stripping away of his leadership in gravity determinations for the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey. Peirce’s marriage in 1883 to his reputed mistress, the mysterious Juliette Froissy Pourtalais, and his ill-considered attempt to introduce her openly into his social circles, brought a rude end to his way of life up to that time. In April 1887, Charles and Juliette left New York for Milford, Pennsylvania, where they hoped to find acceptance in Milford’s small but thriving French community. In the spring of 1890, as the period of the present volume was about to begin, Peirce helped organize a debate in the pages of The New York Times on the soundness of Herbert Spencer’s evolutionary philosophy and he signed his contributions with the pseudonym “Outsider,” reflecting his increasing estrangement from mainstream society. At the age of fifty, Peirce had been pushed from center stage and his native sense of entitlement had been crushed. Peirce’s feeling of exclusion and disadvantage intensified during these years so that by May 1892, writing again as the Outsider, he would rail against the “politico-economical deification of selfishness” and its anti-Christian corrupting influence on society (see sel. 52). Read More (PDF)



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