"The Architecture of Theories"

CSP letter to Carus, Aug 30, 1890.pdf

Letter by Charles S. Peirce to Paul Carus, August 30, 1890

"The Architecture of Theories" - manuscript - page 1

First page of Peirce's manuscript "The Architecture of Theories"

Monist 1.2

First edition of The Monist containing "The Architecture of Theories"

On 30 August 1890, six weeks after agreeing to contribute to The Monist, Peirce sent to Carus the manuscript “The Architecture of Theories.” It would be too late to appear in the inaugural issue of the journal in October, however it would become the lead article of the second issue in January 1891. The Open Court paid him $140.

In his letter, Peirce explains his delay is due to being busy caring for his wife Juliette, who had been diagnosed with tuberculosis. She returned home this summer to Milford, PA after traveling abroad to the Mediterranean in order to escape the cold winter. Her condition was just one of several serious matters that would distract Peirce while publishing with the Open Court.

Peirce had told Russell that he planned to write “in a general way about the ways in which great ideas become developed,” which involved “the laws which have been found to govern the evolution of the leading ideas of mathematics and physics.” In “Architecture” Peirce pursues that task by surveying the history and current leading ideas of several disciplines of science—physics, evolutionary theory, psychology, physiology, and mathematics. Following upon his “A Guess at the Riddle,” he also identifies his three fundamental categories in the subject-matter of these sciences. Most generally speaking, firstness is “the conception of being or existing independent of anything else”; secondness is “the conception of being relative to, the conception of reaction with, something else”; and thirdness is “the conception of mediation, whereby a first and second are brought into relation.” These, he concludes are “the materials out of which chiefly a philosophical theory ought to be built, in order to represent the state of knowledge to which the nineteenth century has brought us.”

Peirce also previews his systematic metaphysics forthcoming in the later Monist articles. He briefly mentions his theories that the laws of nature are results of an evolutionary process; there is an element of pure spontaneity inherently existing in nature; and "the one intelligible theory of the universe is that of objective idealism," that is, a monism whereby matter is a form of “effete mind."