Tag Archives: Charles Sanders Peirce

American Common Sense – or – How to Change the Truth

The American mind has been constructed on a few obvious attitudes and assumptions about life. One is a pronounced idealistic streak. The Europeans that settled in this land believed that they were creating a new world and – for better or worse – they became infused with an almost unshakeable belief in the assumption that progress […]

To be or not to be: What is Ontology?

What does it mean ‘to be’? When I say “I am…” or “It is…” what am I saying? What does it mean to exist – or to not exist, to be or not to be? That is the question of ontology? Ontology is the discipline of philosophy that deals with the fundamental essences of existence. […]

Alfred North Whitehead: And the Three Components of Knowledge

This week I wanted to share a quote from the English philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Whitehead is the originator of what is commonly known as Process Theology. And many of his ideas follow closely in a line that was drawn earlier by William James and Charles Sanders Peirce.  Whitehead in a series of lectures collectively […]

The Essence of Being First

What is the quality of being first? This was a question that Charles Sanders Peirce thought deeply about because he felt that the quality of being first, or ‘firstness’ as he called it, was an essential element of the universe. Peirce’s conception of firstness is abstract, penetrating, profound and well worth giving yourself some time […]

Where has all the novelty gone?

Is spontaneity real? Is novelty possible? These are profound philosophical questions for all of us to think about. Does anything really new happen? A determinist might say no. The doctrine of determinism is often interpreted to mean that everything is caused. The state of everything is predetermined by its past state and the next state […]

Scientific Evidence for Indeterminism

The advantage of being a materialist is that so much of our experience seems to point to a material basis for reality. Idealists usually have to appeal to some inner knowing as the justification of their faith that mind, not matter, is the foundation of reality. Unfortunately the appeal to inner knowing is exactly what […]

A Field of Pure Knowing

What is the human soul? Is it some phantom-like part of us or is it a living dimension of the universe from which all life flows? The later is what Samuel Taylor Coleridge taught and his brilliant description of this living soul was so powerful that it ignited a vision that entranced the American Transcendentalists […]

Breaking the Bonds of Language

Have you ever tried to have an original thought – or worse – had a truly original thought that you tried to put into language? That is when you realize that you are trapped in a prison constructed of words and sentences and syntax and grammar. You know something, in the recesses of your perceptual […]

The Bible, Poetry and Mental Sensations

By the early part of the nineteenth century the Age of Reason  had made it increasingly difficult for progressive religious thinkers to accept a literal interpretation of the Bible. It was clear that many passages of that sacred text could no longer be accepted at face value. There was a rush of interest in biblical criticism […]

Vicious Intellectualism and the Reality of the Unknown

There are things that we know. And there are things that we know that we don’t know. And there are things that we don’t know that we don’t know. These last are the “unknown unknowns” made famous in a comment by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The two originators of the philosophy of […]