Comparing Ideas

The occasion for this paper was the 2014 Charles S. Peirce Centennial Congress and the desire of the editors to compile a book of brief articles by Peirce scholars on specific quotations from Peirce’s writings.

The paper primarily deals with a crisis of faith Peirce suffered in his categories in 1903.  On the one hand, he thinks that qualities—such as colors—are Firsts and as such are what they are independently of anything else (see 2010a and 2012b).  On the other hand, colors are not what they are independently of anything else, for colors themselves have qualities of qualities, viz. their chroma, luminosity, and hue (see 2013b).

To solve this problem, Peirce distinguishes between kinds of analysis.  One kind of analysis is analysis by direct inspection.  For example, if you look at a red ball you can directly analyze your experience by differentiating the shape (being round or spherical) from the color (being red).  A second kind of analysis is comparational analysis by which one compares two different experiences.  For example, if you look at a dull red (say, the red of a chestnut) and a shiny red (say, the red of a fire truck), then you will notice that the former red is less luminous than the latter red.

Qualities are Firsts because they cannot be analyzed by direct inspection even though they can be analyzed by comparison.  Since phaneroscopy (Peirce’s name for the science we today call phenomenology) consists of the logical analysis of the phaneron or the analysis of the phaneron by direct inspection (rather than by comparison), qualities are Firsts when phaneroscopically considered.  (For more on phaneroscopy’s method, see 2013a.)

Also in this essay are: (a) brief comments on how Peirce tries to relate the categories as discovered in mathematics to the categories as isolated in phaneroscopy and (b) a brief statement of ideas found more fully developed in (2013b).