Introduction to Volume 3
The US. Coast Survey-and Darwin!
There was no more intensively scientific seven-year period of Peirce's life than that of the present volume. He had no academic employment and gave no lectures at Harvard or at the Lowell Institute or elsewhere. As an Assistant in the Coast Survey his duties had so far been astronomical, and his concurrent assistantship in the Harvard College Observatory (1869-72) had been arranged with a view to those duties. But from late in 1872 onward his duties became increasingly geodetic.
The Coast Survey, with help drawn from the Hydrographic Office of the Navy, wasand was recognized asthe chief scientific agency of the United States federal government. It had been founded in 1811. Its first Superintendent was Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler; its second was Alexander Dallas Bache (1843-67); its third, Benjamin Peirce, Charles's father (1867-74); and its fourth, Carlile P. Patterson (1874-81).
Until the creation of the Bureau of Standards in 1901, the Office of Weights and Measures was part of the Washington Office of the Coast Survey, and the Assistant in Charge of the Washington Office was in charge of the Weights and Measures Office also. Throughout the period of the present volume that Assistant was Julius E. Hilgard. In the summer of 1872 there was a conference in Paris looking toward the creation of an international bureau of weights and measures there. Hilgard was given an extended leave of absence to attend that conference and for other purposes. From 15 April to 23 August, Charles Peirce was Acting Assistant in Charge of the Survey's Washington Office. The records of his "photometric researches" show that he was in Washington for several further months in that and succeeding years.
The present volume includes a number of chapter drafts of what we have called "Toward a Logic Book, 1872-73." Concerning these, he wrote to his mother from Washington on 20 April 1872: "On clear nights I observe with the photometer; on cloudy nights I write my book on logic which the world has been so long & so anxiously expecting." The book was never finished. Neither were the related "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" of 1877-78, which were advertised as a book in preparation for the International Scientific Series. The six papers he did finish and publish would not have made much more than half the intended book.
The Coast Survey was the chief scientific agency of the federal government not only in its own researches but also, especially during the superintendencies of Bache and Benjamin Peirce, in the help it gave to scientists not in its employ. The most widely known example of this began in December 1871 and continued into the fall of 1872. Peirce had named two of the Survey's new vessels after Hassler and Bache and had assigned the Bache to the Atlantic coast and the Hassler to the Pacific. To get to our Pacific coast, the Hassler had to travel around South America. Dear to the heart of Benjamin Peirce's friend, Louis Agassiz, was the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, and the Hassler's voyage would be a great opportunity to add to its collections. But Agassiz was the chief American opponent of Darwin's theory of evolution, and the voyage of the Hassler would take him, late in life, on the nearest approach to Darwin's early-in-life five-year voyage of the Beagle that could be carried out in less than a year. He gladly accepted Superintendent Peirce's invitation, as did his wife and ex-president Thomas Hill of Harvard.
The Hassler sailed on 4 December 1871. In The American Naturalist for January 1872 there appeared a letter from Agassiz to Superintendent Peirce "Concerning Deep-Sea Dredgings" dated 2 December 1871, in which he discussed the questions he hoped the voyage would help to answer, including Benjamin's own theory of "continental drift."
The Survey's own scientific representative on the voyage was Agassiz's former pupil, Assistant Louis Francois de Pourtales. The few books they took along were chiefly by Darwin, including of course his Voyage of the Beagle. Darwin was informed of the plan well in advance and sent his best wishes. The captain of the Hassler was Philip C. Johnson, and there were occasional comparisons between him and Captain FitzRoy of the Beagle. The deep- sea dredging equipment of the Hassler proved defective, and that was a great disappointment; but dredging at moderate depths resulted in numerous and important additions to the collections of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. Johnson, Agassiz, and Pourtales sent reports to Superintendent Peirce along the way. Mrs. Agassiz sent the Atlantic Monthly an article which appeared in its October 1872 issue, and she had two further articles in the January and March 1873 issues. The best day-by-day account was by Pourtales, in Appendix 11 of the 1872 Coast Survey Report.
Under Agassiz's direction, his wife kept a journal of scientific and personal experience which was nearly ready for publication at the time of his death in 1873. She drew upon it for the account of the expedition which she included in her Louis Agassiz His Life and Correspondence, published in 1885.
Chauncey Wright, the most vigorous defender of Darwin among the members of the Metaphysical Club in Cambridge, had had a long article on "The Genesis of Species" in the North American Review for July 1871, which had pleased Darwin so much that, with Wright's permission, he had it reprinted in pamphlet form in England. Wright visited Darwin at Down, 4 -5 September 1872, four days after the Hassler reached San Francisco.
That was the end of the Hassler's voyage. The captain and crew remained, and the passengers returned by the recently completed transcontinental railway. The Agassizs first lingered for a while, and he addressed gatherings of the California Academy of Sciences; but they were back in Cambridge by October. And by November, Chauncey Wright was back from his European travels and his visit with the Darwins.
It is quite likely, therefore, that the Metaphysical Club in Cambridge had already devoted some of its meetings to the Darwinian theory of evolution, and not altogether unlikely that Peirce at the meeting he addressed in November 1872 presented his pragmatism as the lesson in logic taught by Darwin's Origin of Species, as he certainly did in "The Fixation of Belief" in 1877 and in "Comment se fixe la croyance" in 1878.
The Coast and Geodetic Survey
The Coast and Geodetic Survey
The most decisive single step of Benjamin Peirce's superintendency of the Coast Survey had already been taken in March 1871, when he obtained an act of Congress authorizing a transcontinental geodetic connection along the 39th parallel between the Atlantic and Pacific coastal surveys, along with a small initial appropriation. The fundamental problem of geodesy was that of the figure of the earth, and the chief instruments for its determination were gravity pendulums.
The first international scientific association was geodetic. Its founding conference had been at Berlin in 1864. In the French form of its name, it was called international from the beginning. In the German form, it was called at first middle-European, then European, and only in 1886 did it begin to be called international. Conferences were held every third year, but there was a "Permanent Commission" or standing executive committee that met annually. There was also a Special Committee on the Pendulum. By 1872 the association was settling on the Repsold-Bessel reversible pendulum as the best research instrument for its principal purpose.
On 30 November 1872 Superintendent Peirce wrote Assistant Peirce a letter of instructions beginning: "You are hereby directed to take charge of the Pendulum experiments of the Coast Survey, and to direct and inspect all parties engaged in such experiments. ... In combination with the pendulum experiments you will investigate the law of the deviations of the plumb line and of the azimuths from the spheroidal theory of the earth's figure."
Since this assignment would involve spending most of his time away from Cambridge, Charles resigned his assistantship in the Harvard College Observatory on 2 December 1872.
Ten days later Charles wrote to A. & G. Repsold and Sons in Hamburg, Germany, ordering for the Coast Survey one of their reversible pendulums suitable for absolute determinations of gravity. The Repsolds replied that there would be a delay in filling the order because they had such an accumulation of still unfilled orders for other instruments to be used in observing the transits of Venus in 1874 and 1882. (The last previous transits had been in 1761 and 1769. The next would be in 2004 and 2012.) The pendulum was finally ready in the spring of 1875.
Meanwhile, in 1873 and 1874, Charles conducted parties making observations of gravity with nonreversible, invariable pendulums with conical bobs, on Hoosac Mountain and in the Hoosac Tunnel in northwestern Massachusetts, and at Northampton and Cambridge. During the same extended periods, and for the most part with the same aides, he continued the photometric researches which he had already begun in Cambridge and in Washington earlier in 1872, using a Zollner astrophotometer attached to a telescope inside a portable observatory, with an aide outside recording his observations. He had also, but under conditions too unfavorable, tried the experiment of "weighing the earth" at the top and bottom of the central shaft of the Hoosac Tunnel.
By 1875, the greater part of the photometric researches was completed, but he wanted still to make a more thorough study of earlier star catalogues. During his second Coast Survey assignment in Europe (1875-76), he examined medieval and renaissance manuscripts of Ptolemy's star catalogue in several libraries. He also made inquiries as to the methods used in the preparation of the most recent star catalogue, the Durchmusterung of Argelander and SchOnfeld at the Bonn Observatory. Peirce's hook, Photometric Re-searches (1878), included his own edition of Ptolemy's catalogue, as well as a long letter from Schonfeld concerning the methods of the Durchmusterung
The chief purpose of this second sojourn, however, was to accept delivery from A. & G. Repsold and Sons in Hamburg of the reversible pendulum, and to make such determinations at so-called "initial stations" in Europe; namely, those at Berlin, Geneva, Paris, and Kew. In April 1875 at the new Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England, he consulted Maxwell about the theory of the pendulum. At Hamburg in late May and early June, he took possession of the Repsold pendulum and made preliminary tests of it. He then conferred in Berlin with General Baeyer, founder and president of the Royal Prussian Geodetic Institute, who questioned the stability of the Repsold stand. Peirce went next to Geneva. By arrangement with Professor Plantamour, Director of the Observatory, he swung his new pendulum there, and detected and measured the flexure of the stand that General Baeyer had suspected.
In September 1875, the Permanent Commission of the International Geodetic Association met for ten days in Paris. On one of those days there was also a meeting of the Special Committee on the Pendulum, at which Peirce reported his Geneva findings. The Special Committee reported to the Permanent Commission. Peirce took part in the discussion of its report. He thus became the first invited American participant in the committee meetings of an international scientific association.
Later in 1875 and in 1876, Peirce swung his new pendulum for extended periods in Paris, in Berlin, and at Kew; and after his return to the United States, at the Stevens Institute in Hoboken. The Coast Survey Report for the year 1876 (not published until 1879) contained 145 pages by Peirce on "Measurements of Gravity at Initial Stations in America and Europe," on the second page of which he said: "The value of gravity-determinations depends upon their being bound together, each with all the others which have been made anywhere upon the earth.... Geodesy is the one science the successful prosecution of which absolutely depends upon international solidarity."
(Making the Stevens Institute at Hoboken the "initial station" for the United States involved months of pendulum swinging there and, for that purpose as well as for readier access to Washington and other sites, Peirce took up residence in New York City. His wife Zina had her own commitments in Cambridge and Boston, and declined to accompany him. They were never reunited. By far the fullest and best account of her, and of Charles in his relations with her and with other members of her family, is Norma P. Atkinson's 1983 doctoral dissertation, "An Examination of the Life and Thought of Zina Fay Peirce, an American Reformer and Feminist.")
The next general conference of the International Geodetic Association was held at Stuttgart in late September and early October of 1877. By invitation, Peirce had sent well in advance a memoir in French on the effect of flexure of the Repsold stand on the oscillations of the reversible pendulum. This memoir, lithograph copies of which had been distributed in advance of the conference, and papers by Plantamour and his colleague Cellerier confirming Peirce's findings were published as appendixes to the proceedings of the conference. Peirce attended the conference as accredited representative of the United States Coast Survey. That was the first formal representation of an American scientific agency in the sessions of an international scientific association. During the discussions, Herve' Faye, president of the Bureau of Longitudes in Paris, suggested that swaying of the stand could be prevented by swinging from the same stand two pendulums with equal amplitudes but in opposite phases. Peirce later made an analytic mechanical investigation of Faye's proposal, concluding that it was as sound as it was brilliant. Copies of this investigation were distributed at the 1879 meeting of the Permanent Commission.
Peirce was active in still other fields that called for international cooperation. One of these was metrology. In 1872 when Peirce was Acting Assistant in Charge of the Coast Survey's Washington Office, he had control of the United States Office of Weights and Measures, a department of the Coast Survey until 1901. The American Metro-logical Society had been founded in 1873, and two years later, Peirce had become a member of its Committee on Units of Force and Energy. When he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in April 1877, he was immediately made a member of its Committee on Weights, Measures, and Coinage.
Before his election to membership, he had received grants from the Bache Fund of the National Academy for the experiments reported in his "Note on the Sensation of Color," which was published in 1877 both in this country and in England, and which made him the first modern experimental psychologist on the American continent.
Of the thirty-four papers that Peirce presented to the National Academy of Sciences in the thirty-three years from November 1878 to November 1911, the first was geodetic: "On the Acceleration of Gravity at Initial Stations."
There was in Washington, besides the National Academy of Sciences, what called itself "The Philosophical Society of Washington." In its name, as in that of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia (established in 1743), "Philosophical" meant "Scientific." Benjamin Peirce had been one of the founders of both the Academy and the Society. Charles was elected a member of the latter on 1 March 1873. From 1871 to 1874 he presented the following papers:
16 December 1871: On the Appearance of Encke's Comet as Seen at Harvard College Observatory
19 October 1872: On Stellar Photometry
21 December 1872: On the Coincidence of the Geographical Distribution of Rainfall and of Illiteracy, as shown by the Statistical Maps of the Ninth Census Reports
17 May 1873: On Logical Algebra
3 January 1874: On Quaternions, as Developed from the General Theory of the Logic of Relatives
14 March 1874: On Various Hypotheses in Reference to Space.
Charles continued to make presentations to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston (some of which were published in its Proceedings), but they were now predominantly scientific:
12 March 1872: On Stellar Photometry (exhibiting the Zollner astrophotometer)
9 March 1875: Photometric Measurements of the Stars
11 May 1875: On the Application of Logical Analysis to Multiple Algebra [At this meeting his father presented a paper "On the Uses and Transformations of Linear Algebra."]
11 October 1876: On a new edition of Ptolemy's Catalogue of Stars
10 October 1877: Note on Grassmann's Calculus of Extension
13 March 1878: On the Influence of Internal Friction upon the Correction of the Length of the Second's Pendulum for the Flexibility of the Support
11 June 1879: On the Reference of the Unit of Length to the Wave-Lengths of Light.
We return now to the theme of this section of the present introduction. What opened the way to the breadth and intensity of Peirce's scientific work in the period of the present volume? His father's initiative in beginning the transcontinental geodetic survey, and that of Superintendent Patterson in continuing it. Patterson in 1878 obtained an act of Congress changing the Survey's name to: The Coast and Geodetic Survey. The transcontinental survey was finally completed in the late 1890s. Meanwhile, the survey of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts had gradually been transformed by connecting it with a geodetic survey along the "eastern oblique arc" from Calais in Maine to New Orleans. (Peirce's own first year with the Survey, 1859-60, had taken him to both ends of this arc.)
Both surveys were finally completed in the late 1890s, were edited by Assistant Charles A. Schott, and were published in 1900 (871 quarto pages) and 1902 (394 quarto pages) under the titles The Trans-continental Triangulation and the American Arc of the Parallel and The Eastern Oblique Arc of the United States and Osculating Spheroid. These are two classics of the science of geodesy. Peirce's own connection with the Survey had ceased at the end of 1891, but he drafted a review of them, with emphasis on the latter. If that review had been carefully revised and published, it would itself rank as a milepost in the history of geodesy. (It should be added that, at the time Peirce drafted this review, work was beginning on the geodetic survey of the 98th meridian, which runs from eastern North Dakota through South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, to a point not far from the southernmost tip of Texas. Obviously this was chosen as the longest nearly central meridian.)
Peirce was not merely a philosopher or a logician who had read up on science. He was a full-fledged professional scientist, who carried into all his work the concerns of the philosopher and logician. So when, for example, he wrote his "Illustrations of the Logic of Science," which moved rapidly to questions of statistics and probability, he had already made professional contributions to precisely those fields. At almost the same time, it was as a professional statistician that he reviewed his Italian friend Ferrero's book on the method of least squares in the first issue of the American Journal of Mathematics.
The Metaphysical Club and the Birth of Pragmatism
In the first part of the introduction to volume 2 of this edition we presented evidence for concluding that Peirce was a nominalist at first, and that his first steps toward realism were taken in his Journal of Speculative Philosophy articles of 1868-69 and in his Berkeley review of 1871. The essential element in these steps was giving 'real' and 'reality' a forward rather than a backward reference. The natural and logical next step, we said, was the pragmatism that, according to James and Peirce in recollections of a quarter of a century later, was born in the Metaphysical Club in the early 1870s.
Of all the papers in the present volume, the one so far most often referred to has been that of January 1878, "How to Make Our Ideas Clear," and its oftenest quoted paragraph is: "It appears, then, that the rule for attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, which might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object."
It was over twenty years later, in September 1898, in William James's "Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results," that "pragmatism" first appeared in print as the name for this rule; but James said there that Peirce had called it "the principle of . . . pragmatism... when I first heard him enunciate it at Cambridge in the early '70's." James says nothing of the occasion for its enunciation, but we shall find reason below to conclude, at least tentatively, that it was a meeting of the Metaphysical Club not later than November 1872.
As late as 1909 Peirce was revising the "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" to reappear at last in book form, with revisions of the first two papers presented as two parts of a single paper to be entitled "My Pragmatism." Drafts of the preface to the projected volume, which never reached publication, contain the fullest surviving comparison between the Metaphysical Club paper of 1872 and the first two "Illustrations" of 1877-78.
We cannot identify the Club paper with any known surviving manuscript, but, on the hypothesis that there was such a paper, we may turn to what we have called "Toward a Logic Book, 1872-73" and ask ourselves how much of it anticipates the first two "Illustrations." Item 9 in our table of contents, written between 11 and 14 May 1872, will then give us some idea how close the correspondence between the Club paper and the first two "Illustrations" might have been. It may next strike us that the applications of the maxim in "How to Make Our Ideas Clear" to the ideas of hardness, weight, and force are there for the sake of its application to the idea of reality; and we may then reread the different versions of a chapter on "Reality" in "Toward a Logic Book" with heightened interest. We should then be ready to interpret and evaluate the remark at the end of the first part of the introduction to volume 2, that pragmatism was the natural and logical next step from the forward reference of the idea of reality in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy articles and the Berkeley review.
Our earliest evidence of the Metaphysical Club's existence is in two letters of Henry James, William's younger brother, in January and February 1872, to friends then living in Europe. From these letters alone we might guess that the Club had been founded after Peirce's return from Washington in January. Peirce himself often assigns it an earlier beginning, soon after his return from Europe in the spring of 1871. Perhaps the founding had been preceded by informal gatherings of some of the same people. Henry James mentions Chauncey Wright, Peirce, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., William James, and "various other long-headed youths" who "wrangle grimly & stick to the question."1
To the four members named by Henry James, Peirce in later recollections adds Nicholas St. John Green, Francis Ellingwood Abbot, John Fiske, Henry Ware Putnam, Francis Greenwood Peabody, William Pepperell Montague, and Joseph Bangs Warner. (Within the year 1872 Green and Wright reached the age of 42, Abbot 36, Peirce 33, Holmes 31, James and Fiske 30, Putnam and Peabody 25, Montague and Warner 24.) Peabody and Warner had attended Peirce's lectures on British Logicians in 1869-70 and had studied Kant with him privately. They had also attended Fiske's lectures, which had immediately preceded Peirce's Abbot had been a Harvard classmate of Peirce's With the possible exception of Putnam, all ten were important figures in Peirce's life. From his under-graduate years he had known Wright, a bit less than nine years older than he. His acquaintance with James had begun when they were in the Lawrence Scientific School together. James's family had moved to Cambridge in the fall of 1866. Their home was on Quincy Street, across from the Harvard Yard, about where the Faculty Club now stands. Peirce's review of The Secret of Sweden Swendenborg, by James's father, was included in our second volume. James and Holmes had attended some of Peirce's Lowell Lectures (included in our first volume) together in the fall of 1866. Holmes's father had been a Harvard classmate of Peirce's father, and they were fellow members of the Saturday Club. When Peirce's father died in 1880, Holmes's father wrote the poem in his honor that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly.
The most striking fact about the eleven members named by Peirce is that more than half of them were lawyers. (Only three were scientists-Wright, Peirce, and James, who was then teaching anatomy and physiology; two were theologians-Abbot and Peabody; the remaining six were lawyers, and of these all but Fiske were lifelong lawyers.) And the most striking remark that Peirce later makes about the birth of pragmatism in the Club is that, while acknowledging the paternity that James had already ascribed to him, he calls lawyer Green its grandfather, because Green had so often urged the importance of applying Alexander Bain's definition of belief as "that upon which a man is prepared to act," from which "pragmatism is scarce more than a corollary."
Since it is in letters from Henry James to friends in Europe that we first hear of the Metaphysical Club, it is a matter of interest that it was in a letter to Henry after Henry's own return to Europe that William James wrote on 24 November 1872: "Chas. Peirce . . . read us an admirable introductory chapter to his book on logic the other day."2 Thomas Sergeant Perry wanted it for the North American Review, in which Peirce's Berkeley review had appeared in the previous year; but Peirce thought it not suitable for the Review, perhaps because it was too technical or assumed too much that had been argued out in the Club. This was probably the occasion recalled by James in 1898 as that on which Peirce enunciated the principle of pragmatism and called it by that name.
Fiske died in 1901. Perry was working on a short biography of him in 1905. James wrote Perry on 24 August: "If you want an extra anecdote, you might tell how, when Chauncey Wright, Chas. Peirce, St. John Green, Warner and I appointed an evening to discuss the 'Cosmic Philosophy,' just out, J. F. went to sleep under our noses."3 That would have been in November 1874. Wright died 12 September 1875. Peirce was in Europe then. James wrote the obituary for The Nation. On 10 February 1876, James wrote to his brother Robertson James: .... . we have reorganized a metaphysical club here."4 The other members of the original Metaphysical Club it included were Green, Holmes, Fiske, Warner, and Abbot. Peirce was still in Europe, and he never resumed residence in Cambridge. Green died 8 September 1876, less than a year after Wright. Without Wright and Green, and without Peirce, the reorganized metaphysical club may not have borne much resemblance to the one in which pragmatism was born.
But, whether for the original or for the reorganized club, why the name "Metaphysical" rather than "Philosophical?" Negatively, because "philosophical" still meant scientific, as in the old American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia or in the new Philosophical Society of Washington. Positively, because the most famous club in the world that was philosophical in our sense was the Metaphysical Society in London, which had been founded in 1869. Many papers presented to that Society had already appeared in the Contemporary Review in 1870 and 1871. Peirce had spent several weeks in London in July 1870 and in February 1871, and his father had been there in October 1870 and in January 1871. They can scarcely have failed to hear of the Society.5
Back now to Holmes and the law-dominated Metaphysical Club in Cambridge. In the spring of 1872 Holmes gave a course of twelve University Lectures on Jurisprudence, with Austin's Lectures on Jurisprudence as text. Though we have so far no evidence of such a meeting, it seems likely that at least one meeting of the Metaphysical Club that spring was devoted to discussion of the main argument of Holmes's lectures. Holmes became the sole editor of the American Law Review beginning with the July 1872 issue. In that issue, in a notice of an article by Frederick Pollock criticizing Austin in the April number of Law Magazine and Review, Holmes included a summary of his own lectures. Taking a different tack from Pollock's, he pushed to its logical conclusion Austin's view that custom only becomes law by the tacit consent of the sovereign manifested by its adoption by the courts, and that before its adoption it is only a motive for decision. What more, Holmes asked, is the decision itself in relation to any future decision?
What more indeed is a statute; and in what other sense law, than that we believe that the motive which we think that it offers to the judges will prevail, and will induce them to decide a certain case in a certain way, and so shape our conduct on that anticipation? A precedent may not be followed; a statute may be emptied of its contents by construction, or may be repealed without a saving clause after we have acted on it; but we expect the reverse, and if our expectations come true, we say that we have been subject to law in the matter in hand.
It must be remembered . . . that in a civilized state it is not the will of the sovereign that makes lawyers' law, even when that is its source, but what a body of subjects, namely, the judges, by whom it is enforced, say is his will. The judges have other motives for decision, outside their own arbitrary will, beside the commands of their sovereign. And whether those other motives are, or are not, equally compulsory, is immaterial, if they are sufficiently likely to prevail to afford a ground for prediction. The only question for the lawyer is, how will the judges act? Any motive for their action, be it constitution, statute, custom, or precedent, which can be relied upon as likely in the generality of cases to prevail, is worthy of consideration as one of the sources of law, in a treatise on jurisprudence. Singular motives . . . are not a ground of prediction, and are therefore not considered.6
This predictive theory remained the most prominent feature of Holmes's philosophy of law. His fullest and best exposition of it was in "The Path of the Law" in 1897. It has since come to be called "legal pragmatism." Accepting that name for it, we remark that legal pragmatism was in print five and a half years before logical pragmatism. And even if Peirce had permitted Perry to publish his Metaphysical Club paper in the North American Review, logical pragmatism would have been, at the very least, six months behind legal pragmatism in reaching print.
It is often asserted or assumed that Peirce had little or no interest in law, in the philosophy of law, or even in political or social philosophy; but we know that, at least by the end of 1871, he was intensely interested in mathematical economics; we have his wife Zina's reports of his advocacy of proportional representation; she was president of the first Woman's Parliament in 1869; his mother's father had been a lawyer, founder of one of the earliest law schools in the country and U.S. Senator from Massachusetts; his father's mother would have married lawyer Joseph Story, later Justice of the Supreme Court, if her parents had not dissuaded her; his own father was a leading member of the American Social Science Association (which antedated the more specialized social science associations) and was chairman of its Department of Education from 1869 to 1872; Charles and his father had been expert witnesses in the famous Howland will case in 1867; his older brother "Jem" J. M.) had spent a year in the Harvard Law School; his younger brother Herbert went into diplomacy and became our Minister to Norway; and his own vividest recollections of the Metaphysical Club are of its oldest member, lawyer Green.
To Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, in 1902, Peirce contributed the article "Proximate," the principal section of which is on "proximate cause and effect" and derives from Green's "Proximate and Remote Cause," the leading article in the January 1870 American Law Review, of which Holmes was already co-editor. Thirty-one years later, this article was the first in the collection of Green's papers edited by his lawyer son under the title Essays and Notes on the Law of Tort and Crime (1933). Twenty-one years still later, it appeared a third time as an appendix to Jerome Frank's "A Conflict with Oblivion" as evidence that Holmes's philosophy of law derived from Green's, and hence that "Green was the grandfather not only of Pragmatism in general but of legal Pragmatism as well."7
In 1958 the Journal of Public Law published a symposium of three papers on Peirce, followed by a reprinting of his 1892 article "Dmesis," introduced as "one of the very few writings in which this philosopher deals directly with law."8 It was also the article in which he had come closest to the words he put into Green's mouth seventeen years later, in those vividest recollections of the Metaphysical Club mentioned above.
Our purpose in looking so far beyond the present volume's years is only to encourage readers interested in the philosophy of law and in social philosophy more generally to be on the lookout for them and to expect to find them in this and in preceding and later volumes. (For brief examples in our two preceding volumes, see 1:339 and 399, and 2:464 and 465.)
One last bit of evidence: When Peirce was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1867, he was assigned to Class III, Moral and Political Sciences, Section I, Philosophy and Jurisprudence. When Green was elected at the end of November 1872, shortly after Peirce's Metaphysical Club paper was presented, he was assigned to the same class and section; and so was Holmes when he was elected in 1877. Wright had long been a member of Class I, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Section I, Mathematics. When James was elected in 1875, he was assigned to still another class and section.
One of the striking differences between the 1872-73 chapter drafts toward a logic book and the 1877-78 "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" is the prominence of the theory of signs in the former and its absence from the latter. An obvious though not a conclusive explanation is (1) that none of the chapter drafts on representations or signs seems to have been intended as the first, or even as a very early, chapter in the logic book, and (2) that the "Illustrations" were never completed.
What are the evidences of the incompleteness? (a) The forward references to topics that the six papers do not reach. (b) The last words of the third paper: "at this early stage of our studies of the logic of science." Half way through a series of six papers is not an "early stage." (c) The readers of the Popular Science Monthly were given no hint that the sixth paper was to be, or had been, the last. (d) The publishers of the Monthly were also the publishers of the International Scientific Series, and among the volumes they advertised as in preparation was Illustrations of the Logic of Science by Charles S. Peirce; but the six papers would not have made much more than half a volume. (e) Early in 1881 Peirce wrote to his mother: "I am thinking of undertaking some more papers for the Popular Science Monthly though I can hardly screw myself up to that point yet."
That further "Illustrations" would still have been welcomed and published was assured by the fact that their importance had been recognized by G. Stanley Hall in his article in Mind for January 1879 on "Philosophy in the United States." He gave greatest space to them, assumed there were more to come, and said they promised to be "one of the most important of American contributions to philosophy."
The incompleteness of the "Illustrations" is the obvious answer to the question: "If pragmatism is the lesson in logic taught by Darwin's Origin of Species, why does Peirce never get back to Darwin and the Origin?" We may ask ourselves, "If he had got back, what would he have said?" And we may remind ourselves that in his published opening lecture at The Johns Hopkins University in September 1882 he said, among other things: "The scientific specialistspendulum swingers and the likeare doing a great and useful work; each one very little, but altogether something vast. But the higher places in science in the coming years are for those who succeed in adapting the methods of one science to the investigation of another. That is what the greatest progress of the passing generation has consisted in. Darwin adapted to biology the methods of Malthus and the economists."
And in 1909, five years from the end of his life, in revising the third and fourth "Illustrations," he wrote that when the Origin reached Cambridge early in the winter of 1859, he was with a Survey party on the east coast of Louisiana. A letter from his mother told him what a sensation the book had made; and thereupon "I wrote to my friend Mr. Chauncey Wright that I felt confident that Darwin had received a hint of his idea from Malthus On Population."
A better answer would be the paper on "Design and Chance" that he presented to the Metaphysical Club at The Johns Hopkins University in 1884, and thus got back to the Origin at greatest length, by way of honoring its twenty-fifth anniversary.
But, even without their intended continuation, the six "Illustrations" that were published in 1877-78 have gradually come to be recognized as the nineteenth century Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Searching for the Truth in the Sciences; and so far no twentieth century Discourse has superseded it.9
MAX H. FISCH
1. Henry James Letters, edited by Leon Edel (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974), I:273. Cf. p.269.
2. Ralph Barton Perry, The Thought and Character of William James (Boston:
Little, Brown, and Co., 1935), I:332.3. Henry James, The Letters of William James (London: Longmans, Green, and Co.,
4. Perry, Thought and Character, I:713.
5. See Alan Willard Brown, The Metaphysical Society: Victorian Minds in Crisis,
1869-1880 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1947).
6. American Law Review 6 (1872): 724. (Reprinted in Frederic Rogers Kellogg, The Formative Essays of Justice Holmes: The Making of an American Legal Philosophy [Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1984], p.92.)
7. Jerome Frank, "A Conflict with Oblivion: Some Observations on the Founders of Legal Pragmatism," Rutgers Law Review 9 (1954): 425-63.
8. Journal of Public Law 7 (1958): 30-36. Cf. CP 2.164 (1902).
9. For more detailed discussions and further evidence regarding several of the points made in the third part of this introduction, see the following essays: "Justice Holmes, the Prediction Theory of Law, and Pragmatism," Journal of Philosophy 39 (1942): 85-97; "Alexander Bain and the Genealogy of Pragmatism," Journal of the History of Ideas 15 (1954): 41344; "Philosophical Clubs in Cambridge and Boston," Coranto 2 (1964): 12-23; "Was There a Metaphysical Club in Cambridge?" in Studies in the Philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce Second Series, edited by Edward C. Moore and Richard S. Robin (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1964), pp. 3-32, and "Was There a Metaphysical Club in Cambridge?-A Postscript," Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 17 (1981): 128-30; and "American Pragmatism Before and After 1898," in American Philosophy from Edwards to Quine," edited by Robert W. Shahan and Kenneth R. Merrill (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977), pp. 78-110. See also Philip P. Wiener, Evolution and the Founders of Pragmatism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1949); and James D. Miller, "Holmes, Peirce and Legal Pragmatism," Yale Law Journal 84 (1975): 1123-40. (Donald R. Koehn, our contributing editor for the "Illustrations" and "Toward a Logic Book, 1872-73," has contributed also to this introduction and to other parts of the present volume.)
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