This paragraph from SEP under the sub-heading Peirce on Reality and Truth:

We can then think of the real only as the cause of the (singular) sensations which, in turn, provide our sole evidence for beliefs about the external world, and this naturally leads to both nominalism about universals and skepticism about empirical knowledge. Peirce's pragmatist clarification of truth offers an alternative conceptualization of ‘being constrained by reality’. It is explained in terms of this fated agreement of convergence through the process of inquiry rather than in terms of an independent cause of our sensations. Although the nominalist theory is not clearly worked out here, it is clearly related to the ‘intellectualist’ or ‘copy’ theory of truth attacked by other pragmatists. It articulates a metaphysical picture that all pragmatists tried to combat. See (Misak 2007, 69f) where Cheryl Misak emphasises that Peirce does not offer a traditional analysis of truth. Rather, he provides an account of some of the relations between the concepts of truth, belief, and inquiry, She describes this as a naturalistic understanding of truth, and calls it an anthropological account of how the concept is used.

I get he is trying to compare Pragmatism with Idealism, but how exactly?

1 Answer 1


Peirce (note spelling) is not arguing for anything there. Rather, others are presenting an interpretation of Peirce's project. They are suggesting that while Peirce discusses "truth," he does not do what many other philosophers do who discuss truth. They try to define it, for instance as "correspondence to the way things are." This paragraph suggests that Peirce does not try to define truth, and instead merely places the concept of truth in relation to his understanding of the concept of belief.

To understand what it means to assert such a relationship without defining terms, consider someone saying that a rectangle is what you get if you add one side to a triangle and make the sides parallel. One can say that kind of thing without ever defining "triangle" or "rectangle" explicitly.

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