Peirce and politics

Philosophy and Social Criticism 27 (3):67-90 (2001)
Abstract
Charles Sanders Peirce, a profound philosopher and logician, mortgaged the result of his enquiry on the future possibility of a community of inquirers. Peirce was not a democrat, nor a believer in the trustworthiness of common opinion, yet his agapistic metaphysics makes the incorporation of individual inquirers into the scientific community a pragmatic necessity. In this paper I attempt to bring out Peirce's political dimension, which is embedded in his logic and his treatment of time. I suggest that at the core of Peirce's community is a polis dependent on pragmatic temporality, a time within time that is not ordered by the facticity of the past, the immediacy of the present, or the 'would be' of the future. I conclude that politics is a philosophical limit for Peirce's semiotic metaphysic, revealing the depth of his existential and philosophical problem of the freedom of the self in light of secondness, or brute experience. I suggest that this kind of treatment is necessary for a recovery of American idealism in the ongoing discussion of politics and democracy. Key Words: community • logic • Peirce • politics • time.
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