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Prolegomena to a Science of Reasoning

Phaneroscopy, Semeiotic, Logic

Charles S. Peirce

Edited By Elize Bisanz

Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), American Scientist, Mathematician, and Logician, developed much of the logic widely used today. Using copies of his unpublished manuscripts, this book provides a comprehensive collection of Peirce’s writings on Phaneroscopy and the outlines of his project to develop a Science of Reasoning. The collection is focused on three main fields: Phaneroscopy, the science of observation, Semeiotic, the science of sign relations, and Logic, the science of inferences. Peirce understands all thought to be mediated in and through signs and its essence to be diagrammatic. The book serves as a timely contribution for the introduction of Peirce’s Phaneroscopy to the emerging research field of Image Sciences.
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Phaneroscopy: Or, the Natural History of Concepts



Every undertaking begins,—its purpose being determined beforehand,—with a review of the materials and other means at one’s command. Now science, in the sense in which I have defined that word,—namely, as the cooperative business, or life-occupation, of finding out and making sure of the truth by the speediest methods known,—is an undertaking. Whence, etc.

We have to consider that the great body of truth can only be discovered and ascertained by specially devised observations made by specially trained senses with specially informed intelligences behind them. I follow Jeremy Bentham in calling all that business by the name of Idioscopy. But in its entirety and in every part, Idioscopy presupposes a considerable body of other truth, which may be roughly described as instinctive, that is, traditionally hereditary, but familiarized by the everyday experience of everybody. As it first comes to us, this fundamental and unscientific knowledge is immeasurably more trustworthy than any scientific results ever can be; for the scientist rests his whole procedure upon propositions that form parts of it, and that hardly anything can drive him even to correct a little, and that nothing at all can induce him to deny. But that fundamental knowledge as we first find ourselves possessed of it is exceedingly vague. It answers well as a guide in everyday life; but when we come to scientific theory, it is insufficient and must be subjected to criticism. That criticism has, however, unfortunately hitherto yielded only doubtful...

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