Peirce and evolution: Comment on O'Hear

Inquiry 33 (4):447 – 452 (1990)
Abstract
After stressing the shortcomings of Darwinian accounts of self-consciousness and knowledge - i.e. in terms of their survival value - Anthony O'Hear presents Peirce's metaphysical hypotheses on cosmic evolution as an alternative approach that avoids those shortcomings. Although O'Hear does not straightforwardly defend Peirce's views, his argument suggests that only some teleological account of self-consciousness and knowledge is reasonable. The argument, though correct, is not enough to establish the metaphysical point O'Hear defends. Before developing his metaphysical ideas, Peirce's rejection of natural selection as an explanation for every phenomenon brought him to consider the more appropriate question of how natural selection could give rise to a different kind of evolution. This involved outlining an evolutionary account of the origin of self-consciousness and of the mechanisms of belief fixation. The point is not one about Peirce, of course, but about the relationship between, on the one hand, biological and, on the other, psychological and cultural phenomena.
Keywords Charles S. Peirce  Evolution  Consciousness
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