Journal of the History of Ideas Morris D. Forkosch Prize for Best Book in Intellectual History A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1993
“[Brent] has produced a thoughtful, sometimes moving, and entirely accessible intellectual biography which is also, under the circumstances, indispensable.” —The New York Review of Books
“ . . . a fine biography.” —The New York Times Book Review
“. . . an extraordinary, inspiring portrait of the largely forgotten Peirce, a progenitor of modern thought who devised a realist metaphysics and attempted to achieve direct knowledge of God by applying the logic of science.” —Publishers Weekly
In this expanded paperback edition of the critically acclaimed biography of a true American original, the philosopher-polymath Charles Sanders Peirce, Joseph Brent refines his interpretation of Peirce’s thought and character based on new research, and has added a glossary and a detailed chronology.
|"Peirce (1839, 1914) is America's most creative, dominant, and original philosopher. Yet the first book-length biography of the founder of pragmatism was not published until 75 years after his death: Elisabeth Walther's Charles Sanders Peirce: Leben und Werk (Baden—Baden, 1989). Now we have the first American biography, and a superb book it is. The 35 years Brent expended in making this biography have seasoned and enriched his definitive production. (The telling of Peirce's story, like his life, has been fraught with malversation. Some day the story of telling his story will be told.) Here, the facts of Peirce's life are integrated into the systematization that he hoped would for a long time to come [influence] the entire work of human reason. From fields as diverse and powerful as semiotics, metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, psychology, linguistics, geology, philosophy of science, mathematics, and religion, these effects are being acknowledged. The role of Peirce's life in the chronological development of his ideas structures this narrative and gives an expositional argument for a solid interpretation of his philosophy as a single architectonic system. Five chapters of the biography cover in chronological order 75 years of Peirce's life. The sixth and last, a brilliant essay The Wasp in the Bottle, could alone make this work a masterpiece. Indiana University Press is also publishing a complete edition, Writings of Charles S. Peirce (1982— ; v.1, CH, Feb'83). Six volumes are published of 30 expected. (The project, this year, is in a struggle for continued support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.) From the published volumes, IUP has now issued the first of a projected two—volume sampler: The Essential Peirce, containing 25 well—edited, important works written by Peirce from 1867 to 1893, with an excellent introduction by Nathan Houser, associate editor of the Peirce Edition project. From Harvard University Press comes Peirce's Cambridge Conference Lectures of 1898, Reasoning and the Logic of Things. The text, taken from the Houghton Library collections for the purpose of a study edition, is without the critical editorial work of the IUP editions. The 50 pages of comment by Hilary Putnam are of interest in themselves; the 160 pages of Peirce's eight lectures are demonstrations of the authority and originality of his thought. Here is a generally accessible and complete account of Peirce's mature work constructed by Peirce himself in order to introduce his philosophy to nonspecialists. This book in an undergraduate library would make Peirce's philosophy intelligible independently of philosophy courses and philosophy teachers. Each of these books is well published and contains effective notes and an adequate index. This reviewer's highest recommendation is for Brent's biography, which should be in every college and university library in America. The next priority is Reasoning and the Logic of Things, a new and valuable addition to Peirce primary sources presently available. Libraries not subscribing to the complete Writings. . .should certainly order The Essential Peirce." —K. J. Dykeman, Fairfield University , Choice , September 1993
"This title has been reviewed jointly with The essential Peirce: selected philosophical writings. v.1: 186" —1893," by Charles Sanders Peirce; and "Reasoning and the Logic of things: the Cambridge conferences lectures of 1898," by Charles Sanders Peirce.
"[P]eirce himself displayed both logical brilliance and serious moral weaknesses, as Brent's narrative so vividly illustrates. This is one of the central, tragic paradoxes of Peirce's life and thought, and Joseph Brent has done a superb job of exposing and exploring it." —American Journal of Theology and Philosophy
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