Mr. Peirce and the Realists

P 59: Nation 13(14 December 1871):386

To the Editor of the Nation:

Sir: In your far too flattering notice of my remarks upon mediæval realism and nominalism, you have attributed to me a degree of originality which is not my due. The common view that realism is a modified Platonism has already been condemned by the most thorough students, such as Prantl and Morin. The realists certainly held (as I have said) that universals really exist in external things. The only feature of the controversy which has appeared to me to need more emphasis than has hitherto been put upon it is that each party had its own peculiar ideas of what it is that is real, the realists assuming that reality belongs to what is present to us in true knowledge of any sort, the nominalists assuming that the absolutely external causes of perception are the only realities. This point of disagreement was never argued out, for the reason that the mental horizon of each party was too limited for it to comprehend what the conception of the other side was. It is a similar narrowness of thought which makes it so hard for many persons to understand one side or the other, at this day.

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 10, 1871.