Book Notes

In this section we publish short descriptive notices of new books about Peirce or subjects likely to interest our readers. We cannot survey all new publications or prepare critical reviews, so we notice only those books sent by authors and publishers. When available, we reprint notices supplied with the books (often edited and supplemented with text from prefaces or introductions); otherwise we prepare our own brief announcements. Please note: we notice books only if they are sent as review copies to be deposited in the Project library.
Prices and ISBN's are given when available.



>>Charles S. Peirce and the Philosophy of Science
>>Abductive Inference: Computation, Philosophy, Technology
>>Charles Sanders Peirce: Religionsphilosophische Schriften
>>A Thief of Peirce: The Letters of Kenneth Laine Ketner and Walker Percy
>>Erkenntnis als Relationengeflecht: Kategorien bei Charles S. Peirce
>>Il reale nel linguaggio: Indicalità e realismo nella semiotica di Peirce
>>The Highroad Around Modernism
>>Philosophy of the Sign
>>Elements of Knowledge: Pragmaticism and Philosophy of Knowledge
>>The Semiotics of C. S. Peirce Applied to Music: A Matter of Belief
>>FOUNDATION: Matter the Body Itself
>>The Way Out of Agnosticism;
or, The Philosophy of Free Religion.


Charles S. Peirce and the Philosophy of Science (back to the top)
Edward C. Moore (ed.)
University of Alabama Press,
1993, xvi + 424 pp., $49.95
ISBN 0-8173-0665-X (Cloth)



This is another of the dozen or so collections of papers from the Harvard Sesquicentennial Congress. This impressive volume contains twenty-eight papers falling into three topical areas: Logic and Mathematics, The Physical Sciences, and The Life of the Mind. They were presented by scholars from Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United States. One of the themes in the work of Peirce that has been of continuing interest to students of his thought has been his view of the philosophy of science and its logic. His perspective as a working scientist makes his exploration of the philosophy of science particularly engaging for the modern philosopher or scientist. This volume includes such papers on such disparate topics as the conditions for the possibility of science, Peircean benefits for Freudian theory, Peirce and statistics and his potential for being seen as a third party in the Bohr­Einstein debate. Chapters include such abstract philosophical points as Peirce's definition of the phaneron, the valuation of the interpretant, and the question of whether one can be a Realist without being a Platonist.

Peirce scholars who are interested in the relevance of Peirce's thought for modern logic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind will find this volume an invaluable addition to their libraries.

The volume is dedicated to Arthur W. Burks.


Abductive Inference: Computation, Philosophy, Technology
John R. Josephson and Susan G. Josephson (eds.)
Cambridge University Press, 1994, viii + 306 pp.
ISBN 0-521-43461-0 (Cloth)


This book breaks new ground in the scientific, philosophical, and technological study of abduction. It presents new ideas about the inferential and information-processing foundations of knowledge and certainty. It argues that knowledge arises from experience by processes of abductive inferences, in contrast with the view that knowledge arises noninferentially, or that deduction and inductive generalization are sufficient to account for knowledge.

Abductive Inference reports key discoveries about abduction that were made as a result of designing, building, testing, and analyzing knowledge-based systems for medical diagnosis and other abductive tasks. These systems demonstrate that abductive inference can be described precisely enough to achieve good performance, even though this description lies largely outside the classical formal frameworks of mathematical logic and probability theory.

Of particular interest to Peirce readers is John Josephson's first chapter, "Conceptual analysis of abduction," in which he presents his own definition of abduction, expanded from Peirce (the term is used for the whole process of generation, criticism, and acceptance of explanatory hypotheses), and a new classification of inferences that claims to "clear up the confusion about the relationship of abduction to induction." Josephson argues that inductive generalizations can be analyzed as special cases of abductions, and that predictions are a distinctive form of inference and are not abductions. The last chapter, "Perception and language understanding," is also of great interest, since Josephson argues that perception is abduction in layers and that understanding spoken language is a special case of this process. The book also describes various abduction machines and software applications created by the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence Research (Department of Computer and Information Science, Ohio State University), among which are the PEIRCE, a programming tool for building systems (abducers) that perform abductive assembly and criticism, and the PEIRCE-IGTT (Integrated Generic-Task Toolset), which can link abducers into communities of abducers that pass off explanatory subproblems to subabducers


Charles Sanders Peirce: Religionsphilosophische Schriften
Hermann Deuser (tr., ed., introd. and comment.)
in collaboration with Helmut Maaßen
Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg, 1995, xii + 602 pp.,
DM 148 (in German)
ISBN 3-7873-1202-1 (Cloth)


This book is a remarkable scholarly achievement. It provides the German reader with a rich selection of texts, directly or indirectly related to Peirce's philosophy of religion. The texts are organized chronologically and divided into three parts. The first part, "Early Drafts on Religion and Metaphysics (1859-1870)," is the shortest and includes a few texts published in volumes 1 and 2 of the Writings, such as "The Place of Our Age in the History of Civilization" and excerpts from the Lowell Lectures, plus short extracts of unpublished texts. It does not include everything Peirce wrote in his early years that may have a bearing on religion (relevant parts of the "Treatise on Metaphysics" and of Lowell Lecture XI were either not included or relegated partially into the endnotes, for instance), but it gives a good sense of the direction Peirce's thought was taking, namely toward a reflection on the usefulness and fruitfulness of the scientific method when applied to religious matters. The second part, "Science and Religion (1877-1901)," leads the reader straight into the heart of that reflection, with texts such as "The Order of Nature," "A Guess at the Riddle," "Evolution in the Light of Synechism," "The Marriage of Religion and Science," "The Logic of Events," and "The Idea of a Law of Nature among the contemporaries of David Hume." The third part, quite naturally, is entitled "The God Argument (1905-1911)," and offers a translation of "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God" and of several other closely related texts. Hermann Deuser has written an enlightening introduction showing how relevant Peirce's philosophy is for religious and theological studies. Detailed editorial and textual notes take up about 130 pages of the book, which also comes with an excellent bibliography.


A Thief of Peirce: The Letters of Kenneth Laine Ketner and Walker Percy
Patrick H. Samway (ed.)
University of Mississippi Press, 1995, xx + 328
pp., $45.00
ISBN 0-87805-810-9 (Cloth)


Throughout his literary career Walker Percy read and studied the philosophical thought of Peirce in an attempt to "re-present" in language the world as Percy knew it. Beginning in 1984 and ending in 1990, the year of his death, Percy corresponded with Kenneth Laine Ketner about the semiotic of Peirce. These lettershonest, instructive, and often filled with down-home humorrecord an epistolary friendship of two men both passionately interested in Peirce's theory of signs. Ketner's replies to Percy reveal both a deep understanding of the complexities of Peirce's philosophy and a genial willingness to comment on various aspects of that philosophy. Above all, Ketner wanted to provide Percy with sufficient information about Peirce's thought so that Percy could proceed constructively with his criticism of the medical-scientific community and his interpretation of its agenda. ALIGN="JUSTIFY">This volume of letters provides a rich philosophical perspective for better understanding the fiction and nonfiction of Percy. It will be of special interest to readers who are acquainted with Peirce's work. There is a brief letter exchange between Percy and other semioticians and Peirce scholars (Appendix I). The volume closes with reprints of a number of Ketner 's papers to which the correspondence refers (Appendix II).

Erkenntnis als Relationengeflecht: Kategorien bei Charles S. Peirce
Ulrich Baltzer
Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1994.
238 pp. (in German)
ISBN 3-506-70559-8 (Paper)


This German-language Ph.D. thesis (University of Munich, 1992/93) examines Peirce's doctrine of categories, mainly as developed in On a New List of Categories (1867), Lectures on Pragmatism (1903), and the Monist series on pragmaticism (1905/06). The author opposes the view held by some scholars that Peirce's categories are founded on semiotics and serve only the classification of signs. Instead, he argues that the categories are to be understood at once as a necessary and sufficient basic pattern for the characterization of external relations governing all reality and that it is the categoriesnot the sign-triad which supply the fundamental structures for phenomenology, logic, and ontology/metaphysics. As the title Cognition as a Network of Relations suggests,the author's main concern is to clarify the "clusters of concepts" ("Begriffstrauben") which are connected with each category and which represent them in different respects (e.g. "possibility," "chance," "quality of feeling," "icon," "abduction," "esthetics," etc. as modifications of firstness). A second focus is on using the doctrine of categories to establish a theory of cognition. The author especially considers the indefiniteness of the object, and the perceptual judgment as the in itself uncontrollable starting-point of the cognitive process.


Il reale nel linguaggio: Indicalità e realismo nella semiotica di Peirce
Armando Fumagalli Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni
dell'Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, 1995,
x+ 412 pp., 64,000 Lire (in Italian)
ISBN 88-343-0453-5 (Paper)


An important contribution to the understanding of Peirce's semiotic, this thick book, replete with hundreds of scholarly notes, has as its major focus the question of the nature of indexicality. In the first part, "La semiotica nel sistema di Peirce," Fumagalli delineates part of the history of Peirce's semiotic system, from the earlier writings ("Upon a New List of Categories") to the first pragmatic papers, and from the 1885-1890 reformulation of the categories to the critical common-sensist papers of later years. Emphasis is put on the relation between the conception of the index and logical quantification, on the question of the nature of individuality and the idea of haecceity, on the theory of the perceptual judgment, and on the nominalism-realism debate. The second part of the work, "Articolazioni della semiotica," discusses in detail, among others, Peirce's definition and classification of the signs, the question of infinite semiosis in relation with the definition of the interpretant, the sign-object-interpretant triad, and the nature of semiotic as a science. The third part of the book, "Valenze dell'indice," explores the notion of indexicality, its relation with the act of nomination, its connection with the structure of a proposition, and with the notions of referent and the signified. A very good bibliography closes the book, but no index, unfortunately.


The Highroad Around Modernism
Robert Cummings Neville
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1992, xvi + 339 pp.
ISBN 0-7914-1151-6 (Cloth)
ISBN 0-7914-1152-4 (Paper)


This book is an attempt to rescue speculative philosophy from the blind attacks of postmodernism. "Even in its best moments," says Neville, "what postmodernism does with philosophy is to attempt to shut down its speculative, visionary, synoptic, and systematic impulses." The irony is that there exists within American philosophy itself a deep-seated tradition that offers all the theories and conceptions needed to produce a viable alternative, if not a successful counteroffensive. Neville contends that Peirce is the late modern/non-modernist philosopher to be listened to, much more carefully than postmodernists have done, if we want to reaffirm that philosophy is a highly reflective part of intellectual life, responsive to curiosity and opportunity for inquiry. The first chapter, "Charles S. Peirce as a non-modernist thinker," offers an interpretive exposition of Peirce which puts much emphasis on his rejection of transcendental foundations in favor of a semiotic pragmatism, and on the Scotistic realism that led Peirce to develop the view that nature is not simply a collection of atoms, but a creature of habit. Neville gives particular importance to Peirce's speculative metaphysics, which he (certainly contrary to Rorty and others) views as one of Peirce's most interesting contributions, on account of the place it gives to an evolutionary explanation of the universe. Not neglected is Peirce's contribution to the study of religion, one that combines "the speculative adventure of hypothesis-expanding philosophy and theology with the need to flesh that out in concrete empirical studies." Other chapters in the first part of the book discuss the works of Whitehead (extensively), Weiss, and other contemporary American metaphysicians. The second part of the book, "Politics around modernism," is not about philosophy as much as it is an exercise in philosophy of culture: Neville presents his alternative to postmodernism's own philosophy of culture. The arguments set forth show what are the limits to the moral critique of power often made by postmodernists, criticize the modernist polarity of capitalism and Marxism, reject the liberal idea of the priority of freedom in favor of the priority of responsibility, discuss the problem of leadership, and finally attempt to recapture technology as a theological problem relative to divine creation.


Philosophy of the Sign
Josef Simon (tr. George Heffernan, Philosophie des
Zeichens
, Walter de Gruyter, 1989)
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, ix + 291 pp., $19.95 (Paper)
ISBN 0-7914-2453-7 (Cloth) ISBN 0-7914-2454-5 (Paper)


A major work in the history of semiotics, this book contributes significantly to philosophy, theory of science, and literary and cultural criticism. German philosopher Josef Simon argues that there can be a coherent philosophy of the sign as such, and that it is possible both to define signs and to explain their understanding without positing the existence either of meanings which they express or of things to which they refer. Drawing on a vast range of sources, from Plato to Kant, from Hegel to Husserl, from Peirce to Wittgenstein, Simon establishes a wholly new context in which to do philosophy of the sign. For Simon, a sign is that which we understand; in fact everything that we understand is a sign, but not everything is a sign. It is not meanings that make an understanding of signs possible, but on the contrary the failure to understand signs that causes meanings to emerge. So long as one understands signs, one does so without meanings; it is when we don't understand signs that we ask about their meanings, and then only can we understand meanings, which are nothing less, and nothing more, than other, elucidating, signs. "A sign that we understand without asking about its meaning is a meaning." Explicit references to Peirce in the book are sparse, the largest occurring in section 47, "Sign Interpretation and Truth," where Simon offers an interesting discussion of the relation between signs and reality. The book begins with an able introduction by the translator, Heffernan, who makes penetrating remarks about his underlying philosophy of translation.


Elements of Knowledge: Pragmaticism and Philosophy of Knowledge
2nd ed. Arthur Franklin Stewart
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Dubuque (IA),
Lamar Philosophical Studies, No.
2, 1994, xvi + 135 pp.
ISBN 0-8403-9465-9 (Paper)


This is an outstanding little book. Grown from Stewart's "Philosophy of Knowledge" core curriculum course at Lamar University, Elements of Knowledge should be useful both in introductory philosophy and reasoning classes, and for the general reader interested in an introduction to pragmatism. It makes the case that each department of human knowledge, however commonplace or advanced, is driven by pragmaticistic principles, and that such departments function on a continuum of knowledge within which selections of subsidiary methods for acquiring and developing human knowledge are also guided by pragmaticistic principles. All the major themes of Peirce's pragmaticism are explored and literally put into ingenious practice.

Chapter 1 explains what pragmati(ci)sm is and what makes it the "method of methods." Chapter 2, "Common Sense and Learning," explains the different degrees of knowledge, how knowledge is acquired, and the role of habits. Chapter 3, "Rationality and Arguments," shows the various benefits of a pragmatistic recourse to reason through an exposition of a number of common logical fallacies. Chapter 4 introduces the reader to logic and makes the point that learning cannot be purely mechanical but involves creativity at every turn. The next chapter examines different kinds of reasonings and expounds the limits of deduction and the benefits of induction. The last chapter, "Pragmaticism and Choice," discusses how pragmaticism understood as the experimental method par excellence can be applied to various core curriculum courses, and how it involves an ethics of knowledge. Each chapter ends with a list of terms for the students to learn, plus a few questions for review.


The Semiotics of C. S. Peirce Applied to Music: A Matter of Belief
Arjan van Baest and Hans van Driel
Tilburg University Press, 1995, 118 pp.
ISBN 90-361-9865-8 (Paper)


This book is based upon van Baest's master's thesis (1994) which was in turn based upon van Driel's dissertation (De Semiosis, noted here in volume 1, # 3/4, 1993). As the title says, the goal of the work is the application of Peircean semiotic to music. The authors' Preface indicates that A Matter of Belief is "the tentative conclusion of a process of signification regarding the process of signification in music. ...[I]n other words: this is a book about music and meaning." They begin with a recognition that a "semiotics of music which does justice to Peirce's philosophy does not exist yet, although things are changing...." Van Baest and van Driel point to the work of William Dougherty as a theoretic approach to the nature of musical signs and an attempt to show how icon, index and symbol can appear in a musical context. Their objective is what they see as a more practical application of Peirce's semiotic to music. The authors want "to show that Peirce's semiotics, and especially his method of science, provides a solid basis for a semiotic analysis of music." Chapter 1 describes, explains, and analyzes music as sign, object and interpretant. Chapter 2 describes in Peircean terms the dyadic relationships between pairs of the elements considered in Chapter 1. Chapter 3 begins with a presentation of logical argumentation then goes on to a description of the triadic relations among sign, object and interpretant. The authors conclude (in Chapter 4) with an application of a semiosis performed upon Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem.

Readers interested in Peirce, in semiotics, in music, or in combinations among the three should find this a useful and interesting example of the application of Peirce's thought.


FOUNDATION: Matter the Body Itself
D. G. Leahy
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1996, xvi + 696 pp., $24.95
ISBN 0-7914-2021-3 (Cloth)
ISBN 0-7914-2022-1 (Paper)


In this very dense, intricate, and provoking book, Leahy attempts to construct a new kind of ternary logic, one which shows why and how reason is today exploding "to fit the form of faith." Assuming that a new world order has begun to establish itself since 1989, Leahy claims that the new existence now beginning is "an absolute consciousness absolutely without self." Leahy claims that his "new way of thinking" is the beginning of a selfless foundation that goes beyond both modern thought and post-modern forms of self-consciousness. Among items of special interest to Peirce readers are section III.1, "The Law of Absolute Unity," which sets forth the logic of the new thinking, meant to replace the binary system of Boole and Peirce, and section IV.1, "American Thought and the New World Order." In that section Leahy answers three questions: what is the essence of the new world order, what is the essence of American thought, and what is the essence of the relationship of American thought and the new world order. Leahy considers, in answering the second question, that Peirce's pragmatism is the "transcendental and logical locus of the essence of American thought," and that it is possible to understand this essence as the inversion of the transcendental unity of self-consciousness in Kant, as the reversal of absolute self-consciousness in Hegel, and thus as the pure relativity of consciousness. Leahy claims that the essence of American thought is absolute ideology, the three categories of which are 'freedom', 'force', and 'mediation'. But in the new world order something new is occurring. The new world order categorically subsumes American thought by adding to it a fourth category: fourthness, the immediate existence of the other, or the fact of identity. No doubt Peirce readers will find a great deal to argue about in this highly challenging book.


The Way Out of Agnosticism; or, The Philosophy of Free Religion.
By Francis Ellingwood
Abbot, Ph.D. Pp.75. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. l890


Dr. Abbot, in this little volume, sounds the tocsin much as an orthodox theologian would do, and it is a very interesting spectacle to see liberalism taking alarm at its own progress. Still, the present case may only be one of those very common occurrences in which the individual has either not seen the consequences of his original doctrine, or has taken fright at them and beats a retreat. Certainly the spirit of the book is reactionary and conservative to an extent not expected of a man who has all his life clamored for a "free religion." Dr. Abbot is disturbed by the progress of agnosticism, and writes this summary of his lectures at Harvard to help the student out of this presumably unpromising philosophy. The "way out," when sifted down to its real meaning, is simply "feeling," which is to stick to certain time-honored beliefsno matter what facts, science, and the limits of human knowledge may say about our inability to take a rational attitude towards them one way or the other. It is a true instinct which leads the author to single out 'Robert Elsmere' and 'John Ward, Preacher' as representatives of the great struggle going on between reason and emotion, whenever religious problems are discussed; but he fails to remark that if religion is a "feeling," an emotion, or an intuition, a philosophy can never supply it where it is wanting. Those who are in agnosticism generally remain there, and those who come out of it generally defy the philosophy which tries to hold them in doubt, and so decide their convictions by sheer force of will. They think they have found a rational basis for their beliefs; but if their reasoning were examined, it would be found either to contain a material fallacy, or to have been adopted as the only way to satisfy the feelings. The book is commendable for its earnestness and for the moral ideals in which it springs and which it fosters. But this apology does not require us to recognize the assumption that the only way into religion and out of existing agnosticism is the adoption of a philosophy. There are two fundamental truths here which the author does not perceive. The first is, that religion comes by insight, if it ever comes at all; and the second is, that philosophy does less to supply new truth than to supervene upon knowledge already acquired. These prevent it from ever being a condition of the beliefs which Dr. Abbot labors so strenuously to defend.