With a Foreword by Richard J. Bernstein and an Afterword by John Durham Peters
17 Charles S. Peirce: Signs of Inquiry MATS BERGMAN 409
17 Charles S. Peirce Signs of Inquiry MATS BERGMAN _____________________________________ Life and Development Charles Sanders Peirce was born on September 10, 1839, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His father Benjamin was a prominent mathematician and astronomer; his mother Sarah was the daughter of Senator Elijah Hunt Mills. From an early age, Charles exhibited an unusual aptitude for philosophical and scientific reflection. Indulged and educated by his father, he acquired an original and inquiring mindset, but also an intellectual arrogance and a disregard for the mores of polite society, which would eventually contribute to the tragic turns of his life. Young Peirce, who was soon to denounce individualism as a “nominalis- tic” abomination, developed into a headstrong individualist, pursuing his own interests while largely ignoring the standard academic curriculum. After a less than stellar performance at Harvard University, Peirce graduated ranked 79th out of 90 in 1859. In the same year, he was employed by the US Coast Survey, which would turn out to be his most enduring—but often intel- lectually and economically insufficient—professional engagement. Encour- aged by his father to pursue a career in science, Peirce entered the Lawrence Scientific School in Harvard, completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1863. Later in life, he liked to emphasize this natural scientific background; in a self-biographical sketch, he stated that he had been “brought up in a cir- cle of physicists and naturalists, and specially educated as a chemist.”1 How- ever, while the list of Peirce’s concrete scientific achievements is impressive...
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