nLab Charles Sanders Peirce



Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), a philosopher, logician and scientist, was one of the founders of modern symbolic logic. In particular, he developed a form of predicate logic. Peirce is seen as the father of pragmatism, although he later distanced himself from other American philosophers who identified them as pragmatists, by adopting the term pragmaticism.

Peirce was a prolific thinker who left behind an enormous corpus of work, much unpublished. Where his Collected Papers run to 8 volumes, an ongoing edition aims to publish 30 volumes.

Peirce’s philosophy may be seen as Schellingism transformed in light of (in Peirce’s time) modern physics, as Peirce himself notes in an 1894 letter to William James:

My views were probably influenced by Schelling - by all stages of Schelling, but especially the Philosophie der Natur. I consider Schelling as enormous, and one thing I admire about him is his freedom from the trammels of system, and his holding himself uncommitted to any previous utterance. in that, he is like a scientific man. If you were to call my philosophy Schellingism transformed in the light of modern physics, I should not take it hard.

Existential graphs

Peirce devised a graphical notation, known as existential graphs, to represent logical calculi. There were three systems of such graphs: the system alpha, to represent propositional logic, the system beta, to represent predicate logic, and the system gamma, to represent modal logic (MaPiet 18).

Geraldine Brady and Todd Trimble have given a category theoretic interpretation of the alpha and beta systems. The latter, a form of string diagrammatic notation, was developed (PontoShul) into a string diagram notation for indexed monoidal categories. A development also appears in MellZeil, see also BSS18.


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entries:

Charles S. Peirce studies

Other references

  • Fernando Zalamea (2012), Peirce’s Logic of Continuity: A Conceptual and Mathematical Approach

  • Frederik Stjernfelt (2014), Natural Propositions: The Actuality of Peirce’s Doctrine of Dicisigns

  • Rosa Maria Perez-Teran Mayorga (2008), From Realism to ‘Realicism’: The Metaphysics of Charles Sanders Peirce

  • Andrew Reynolds (2002), Peirce’s Scientific Metaphysics: The Philosophy of Chance, Law, and Evolution

  • Matthew Moore (ed) (2010), New Essays on Peirce’s Mathematical Philosophy

  • Louis Kauffman (2001), The Mathematics of Charles Sanders Peirce

  • C.S. Peirce & Matthew Moore (ed) (2010), Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Writings

  • Paul-André Melliès and Noam Zeilberger (2016) A bifibrational reconstruction of Lawvere’s presheaf hyperdoctrine, (arXiv:1601.06098, cs.LO)

  • Fernando Zalamea, Peirce’s logic of continuity, a conceptual and mathematical approach, link

  • Minghui Ma, Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen (2018), Gamma graph calculi for modal logics, Synthese 195: 3621, (doi)

  • Filippo Bonchi, Jens Seeber, Pawel Sobocinski, Graphical Conjunctive Queries, (arXiv:1804.07626)

category: people, philosophy

Last revised on August 17, 2019 at 18:36:44. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.