6 Jun 2016

Peirce (CP1.300–1.301) Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Vol1/Bk3/Ch2/A/§1, “The Source of the Categories"


by Corry Shores

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[The following is summary. Boldface and bracketed commentary are mine. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my typos.]



Summary of


Charles Sanders Peirce


Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce


Volume 1: Principles of Philosophy


Book 3: Phenomenology


Chapter 2: The Categories in Detail


A: Firstness


§1: The Source of the Categories [1.300–1.301]




Brief summary:

Peirce will detail his logical categories of thought, but he will not deal with the question of their applicability in metaphysics.






[Peirce will detail his categories of thought.]


Peirce will give a list of categories of thought, which are supposedly applicable to being. They are similar to the categories of Aristotle, Kant, Renouvier, and Hegel.

The list of categories, or as Harris, the author of Hermes, called them, the “philosophical arrangements,” is a table of conceptions drawn from the logical analysis of thought and regarded as applicable to being. This description applies not merely to the list published by me in 1867, and which I here endeavor to amplify, but also to the categories of Aristotle and to those of Kant. The latter have been more or less modified by different critics, as Renouvier, and still more profoundly by Hegel. My own list grew originally out of the study of the table of Kant.




[Peirce will not deal with the question of these categories application in metaphysics.]


However Peirce will not deal with the question of whether these categories of logic also apply to metaphysics. More important is the question of what these categories are in the first place. Peirce also thinks that the categories should justify themselves inductively, thereby giving them just a limited or approximate validity.

I shall not here inquire how far it is justifiable to apply the conceptions of logic to metaphysics. For I hold the importance of that question, great as it is, to be perhaps secondary, and at any rate not paramount to that of the question what such conceptions would be. I may say, however, that in my own opinion, each category has to justify itself by an inductive examination which will result in assigning to it only a limited or approximate validity.





Peirce, C.S. Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Vol 1: Principles of Philosophy.  In Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce [Two Volumes in One], Vols. 1 and 2. Edited by Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss. Cambridge, Massachusetts: 1965 [1931].



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