Quotations by Charles S Peirce


The one [the logician] studies the science of drawing conclusions, the other [the mathematician] the science which draws necessary conclusions.
Quoted in J R Newman, The World of Mathematics (New York 1956).

...mathematics is distinguished from all other sciences except only ethics, in standing in no need of ethics. Every other science, even logic, especially in its early stages in danger of evaporating into airy nothingness, degenerating, as the Germans say, into an arachnoid film, spun from the stuff that dreams are made of. There is no such danger for pure mathematics; for that is precisely what mathematics ought to be.
Quoted in J R Newman, The World of Mathematics (New York 1956).

Among the minor, yet striking characteristics of mathematics, may be mentioned the fleshless and skeletal build of its propositions; the peculiar difficulty, complication, and stress of its reasonings; the perfect exactitude of its results; their broad universality; their practical infallibility.
Quoted in J R Newman, The World of Mathematics (New York 1956).

Mathematics is purely hypothetical: it produces nothing but conditional propositions.

The pragmatist knows that doubt is an art which has to be acquired with difficulty.
Collected Papers.

The Universe ought to be presumed too vast to have any character.

This branch of mathematics [Probability] is the only one, I believe, in which good writers frequently get results which are entirely erroneous.
Quoted in C C Gaither, A E Cavazos-Gaither, Mathematically Speaking (Bristol 1998).

The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real.


JOC/EFR February 2006

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