Talk:Charles Sanders Peirce

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Notes & Queries


Many thanks for starting the ball rolling. This is a start that I find impressive. For all that it is a densely written piece, it has some pleasing moments which lighten the reading experience. Picking one at random, "During the 1880s, Peirce's indifference to bureaucratic detail waxed while the quality and timeliness of his Survey work waned." My knowledge of Peirce's life and work outside semiotics was always somewhat limited — it is more comprehensive now.

So that we can begin a general discussion of the audience, what level of reading sophistication do you think would be required to get the most benefit from this article? In the forum, Pashley proposed that ". . .the basic criterion for encyclopedia articles is that they should be accessible to the "intelligent layman"." Now, I'm not sure who this mythical creature might be, but I have a sense that such a person might have an "average" level of educational attainment. The majority of the population in any country might not progress from school to a further or higher level (whether that be termed college or university).

I therefore invite you to benchmark this article. What reading age/level of educational attainment is it aimed at? And is that the right level for all articles to aim for in this project? David Marshall 13:35, 21 October 2006 (PDT)

JA: David, one note of caution, a large part of the biographical section was written by another editor at Wikipedia who was not especially careful about references. I was in the process of going back through that section and citing what appeared to be the original sources, but I was interrupted in that work, so it remains to be done. Jon Awbrey 20:00, 21 October 2006 (PDT)


Jon, expect Jaime Nubiola, a leading expert on Peirce, to work on this article.  :-) As to "acknowledgments," the section is too vaguely titled. Perhaps "Open content sources" or "Source Acknowledgments" or something else. I do not see that we need to cite Wikinfo at all, and I would prefer not to, if you were the only person who worked on the article at Wikinfo. Also, we will want to use the template WP. Finally, I don't propose that you place "Notes & Queries" at the top of discussion pages of articles you work on. That is tantamount to signing the article and taking sole responsibility for it, or creating a list of people who must be consulted about it. Like WP, CZ will not have any such list.

Thanks, Jon! --Larry Sanger 14:08, 21 October 2006 (PDT)

JA: Well, gosh, I should hope so! It would be wonderful to get some other Peirce scholars working on this article.

JA: I didn't know what to use for the heading of the import manifest, or even whether it needed a separate heading. At Wikipedia, these notices used to just get stuck at the bottom somewhere, often falling under External Links by default. But I was trying to keep the work that I did on Peirce for the Textop project at the bottom of the page, and it would be improper to give the appearance of attributing that work to those other sources. I was assuming that the use of this site was temporary? Jon Awbrey 20:10, 21 October 2006 (PDT)

JA: I will say this once. I follow a policy of "Credit Where Credit Is Due". I credit Wikinfo because credit is due Wikinfo. Jon Awbrey 20:22, 21 October 2006 (PDT)

JA: I had previously posted a message bearing on this subject at the Citizendium List. In case you missed it, here is the link:

JA: I noticed some problems with the current version of the WP template that I mentioned off-handedly on the Citizendium list, and was about to discuss them more fully there. I tried to write a version of the credit line that would cover the situation where material is exchanged in both directions, as I know will happen quite soon in the case of Wikinfo, and possibly eventually in the case of Wikipedia. Jon Awbrey 20:22, 21 October 2006 (PDT)

Update. Discussion of these generic points continues at Accessibility and Editorial Policy. Jon Awbrey 07:24, 23 October 2006 (PDT)

Generic remarks

JA: I was really looking forward to getting back to work on the activities that brought me to this Waki Wiki World in the first place, to wit, writing articles on the subjects that I have spent a lifetime studying, instead of all that fuss and hot air about policies. I never would have gone anywhere near the policy pages of Wikipedia except for the recurring circumstance that some Putative And Usually Self-Deputized Deputy Of Management would periodically inject a blockade in the way of writing, forcing me to waste the time that it took to read some utterly inane and obtuse policy page or another -- and 90% of the time the self-appointed nuncio in question had simply made up the whole papal bull out of personal preferences. I breathed such a sigh of relief when I thought you folks were finally ready to get down to work on the main business at hand. Alas, it is not to be.

JA: I will respond to your specific points later. Jon Awbrey 19:46, 21 October 2006 (PDT)

Accessibility, Audience Levels, Reader Models

JA: As this is a generic issue that continues to come up, and the discussion at the Citizendium Forum has become way too ephemeral and fleeting to keep up with, I will create a more permanent place for collecting and organizing thoughts on this subject at Accessibility, Audience Levels, Reader Models. Jon Awbrey 21:42, 21 October 2006 (PDT)


As the (Acting) Managing Editor, I have a number of problems to contend with during the initial stages of this project. To help solve one of those problems, I would like to be in a position to refer the appointed editors, authors and other interested persons to a file of indicative articles. These articles would illustrate broad guidance as to the criteria for editorial acceptability, not prescriptive rules. By adopting this strategy, I hope to steer through the scaling problem as we move from a small number of pages with sufficient quality for acceptance towards a preponderance of acceptable articles.

Now, let us suppose that I include this article (which, incidentally, I found interesting and informative), and CZ scales up using it as one of its touchstones. Will a compendium with the majority of articles written in this style and with this attention to detail, match CZ's goal which is to produce a compendium of information that is portable across cultures? I am genuinely interested in the answer. Or have I asked the wrong question? Rather than aspire towards a universality of standard, should we produce different standards depending on the nature of the content? Thus, I would include this article as a template for articles in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, a different article as a template for Math and the Sciences, a different article for ephemera, etc. I sympathise with the notion of discussing this as an abstract question, but for now, I would prefer to relate directly to this and other articles in the Call To Arms section of the Wiki. David Marshall 02:01, 22 October 2006 (PDT)

Tasks toward improving the Peirce article

JA: Here are some of the more obvious things that need to be done right away to improve the current state of the WI/WP article on Peirce.

  1. The biography section needs to be sourced. This is very critical on account of the fact that a lot of the biographical material that got added to the germinal Nubiola article was added by a particular Wikipedia editor who was not always very careful about sourcing his contributions. I have tried to do some of this work but I continue to be more focused on the other sections. Before this article ends up on Brandt's WikiPlagiarism list, someone needs to go through Brent's biography of Peirce and source the statements from the current Peirce article that appear to be derived from it. Jon Awbrey 07:08, 23 October 2006 (PDT)
  2. Supplying the redlinks. No wiki article is an island unto itself, much less an article as complex as this. I will work on importing the more critical articles that are related by links to this one. Jon Awbrey 07:15, 23 October 2006 (PDT)
  3. It goes without saying that the clarity of presentation can always be improved by readers who can function as constructive critics and editors. I will try to enlist some. Jon Awbrey 07:22, 23 October 2006 (PDT)


Jon, I want to take this opportunity to thank you publicly for this work. It is inspirational.

And a more general point to the readership of these Talk pages to emphasise what Jon has written above. I have written on a number of relatively obscure areas where the only source material resides in academic libraries (in one case, some of the content was on the reserve list and had to be liberated into the light by a librarian—wonderful people, couldn't work without them). Now I am meticulous when it comes to citation, but not everyone is so careful. I need to make a key distinction here. Where the source books are out of copyright, large scale copying without attribution will not be unlawful (in the technical sense of the word). It will be dishonest and unethical, but there will be no breach of the law. But where we have unfair use copying from a source within copyright protection, this will obviously be an infringement. Where the source is on-line, there are packages available to detect plagiarism and I am investigating whether CZ can instal one or more of these packages. But this will not solve the problem of those endless rows of older books in libraries. Although the Google project will be scanning an increasing body of material, the project is controversial and long term. In the short term, therefore, editors will have to rely on their in-built radar. If someone is claiming a citation but it feels "wrong", it should be verified. If it cannot be verified, safety first says that it should be removed. If there is no attribution given for a paragraph or set of sentences but the words sound familiar, try to track them down. If you cannot verify the words, please either exclude the relevant text or substantially rewrite it so that, by adding your own labour, you produce a different work. David Marshall 11:48, 24 October 2006 (PDT)

JA: Thanks, →C|Z|?→ Jon Awbrey 13:52, 25 October 2006 (PDT)

Putnam's appreciation of Peirce's contributions

JA: I am moving the following large blocks of secondary source quotations here for reconsideration and possible paraphrase or summarization. Jon Awbrey 10:30, 30 October 2006 (PST)

On Peirce and his contemporaries Ernst Schröder and Frege, Hilary Putnam (1982) wrote:

When I started to trace the later development of logic, the first thing I did was to look at Schröder's Vorlesungen ?ie Algebra der Logik. This book ? has a third volume on the logic of relations (Algebra und Logik der Relative, 1895). [These] three volumes were the best-known logic text in the world among advanced students, and they can safely be taken to represent what any mathematician interested in the study of logic would have had to know, or at least become acquainted with in the 1890s.
While, to my knowledge, no one except Frege ever published a single paper in Frege's notation, many famous logicians adopted Peirce-Schröder notation, and famous results and systems were published in it. L?heim stated and proved the L?heim-Skolem theorem ? in Peirce's notation. In fact, there is no reference in L?heim's paper to any logic other than Peirce's. To cite another example, Zermelo presented his axioms for set theory in Peirce-Schröder notation, and not, as one might have expected, in Russell?Whitehead notation.
One can sum up these simple facts (which anyone can quickly verify) as follows: Frege certainly discovered the quantifier first (four years before O. H. Mitchell did so, going by publication dates, which are all we have as far as I know). But Leif Ericson probably discovered America 'first' (forgive me for not counting the native Americans, who of course really discovered it 'first'). If the effective discoverer, from a European point of view, is Christopher Columbus, that is because he discovered it so that it stayed discovered (by Europeans, that is), so that the discovery became known (by Europeans). Frege did 'discover' the quantifier in the sense of having the rightful claim to priority; but Peirce and his students discovered it in the effective sense. The fact is that until Russell appreciated what he had done, Frege was relatively obscure, and it was Peirce who seems to have been known to the entire world logical community. How many of the people who think that 'Frege invented [formal] logic' are aware of these facts?

The main evidence for Putnam's claims is Peirce (1885), published in the premier American mathematical journal of the day. Peano, Ernst Schröder, among others, cited this article. Peirce was apparently ignorant of Frege's work, despite their rival achievements in logic, philosophy of language, and the foundations of mathematics.

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