Broadening Peirce’s Phaneroscopy: Part One

In 1902, Peirce first identifies a science he calls phenomenology.  However, he would later reject that name for the science, instead favoring phaneroscopy.  For, on Peirce’s conception, the science does not study phenomena but whatsoever is manifest (phaneron, in Greek).  Also, the science is not a discursive science (-logos) but a descriptive, observational science (-scopy).

According to Peirce, phaneroscopy is truly first philosophy.  However, it is not the first science.  Rather, the first science is mathematics, and phaneroscopy makes recourse to mathematics as a guide for ascertaining the most general elements or parts of the phaneron, i.e. the categories (see 2006, 2010a, and 2014b).

Like all other sciences, phaneroscopy has an object of study (the phaneron), an aim, and a method.  This essay argues against the narrow conception of phaneroscopy’s aim.  According to the narrow conception, the sole aim of phaneroscopy is to isolate the formal categories (see the explanation in 2010a).  But that is false.  First, the narrow conception is found in none of Peirce’s writings.  Second, Peirce thought there is a second set of categories—what I call the material categories—which phaneroscopy isolates (see 2010a and 2012b).  Third, phaneroscopy is also supposed to ascertain the specifications of the formal and material categories with respect to both the “internal” (or noetic) and “external” (or noematic) moments of the phaneron.  Fourth, phaneroscopic analysis is used to frame scientific definitions.

Also included in this essay are: (a) a brief account of who endorses and who rejects the narrow conception; (b) a consideration of passages in Peirce’s writings that suggest in favor of the narrow conception if they are misread; (c) a summary of the argument in (2010a) and (2012b); (d) comments on why Peirce’s view is not subject to the sort of criticism Davidson raises in “On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme”; (e) a discussion of the distinction between the feeling of a quality and the quality of a feeling; and (f) an account of phaneroscopic analysis and how it is distinct from abductive reasoning.