Letter, Peirce to W. T. Harris

L 183: W. T. Harris Collection


Cambridge 1868 Nov. 30

Dear Sir

I send to you today two proof-sheets. I should have sent the first one on some days ago but was ill when it came.

I suppose you saw that I struck out the paragraph referring to Hegelians. I intended no slur on them, or any appeal to the ignorant against them. What I meant was to protest respectfully but energetically to them against a certain tendency in their philosophy. In fact with all the disposition of this school to find every philosophical doctrine true for its time and stage of developement, yet if their categories should happen not to be true it is plain that to classify men according to them may be one of the most unfair things in the world.

I have considered your remark that you do not see the drift of my making man entirely ignorant of his own states of mind. I suppose I have not written very clearly for one thing,--and that I have tried to correct in the proof. But the real difficulty is that the article is truncated. I had intended to wind up with a long discussion about the metaphysics--the ontology of the soul. I left this off on account of the length of the article. But now I find by your criticism that it is wanted, and I have endeavored to put it into the briefest and most meagre form and send it to you, in hopes you will be able to tack it on to the end of the article.

I do not say that we are ignorant of our states of mind. What I say is that the mind is virtual, not in a series of moments, not capable of existing except in a space of time--nothing so far as it is at any one moment.

Yrs. very truly
C. S. Peirce