Charles S

Charles S. Pierce discusses how logic should be our guide to making our ideas clear. He starts by defining the differences between clear and obscure conceptions a clear conception being once that will not be mistaken for another and an obscure one being one that fails to provide such clearness. He also touches on distinct and confused ideas. A distinct idea would be that which contains nothing obscure or as Pierce calls it clearness in the first grade. Pierce leads us to analyze the value of clarity he is referring to mentioning how in some cases it may be too strong or too weak. Descartes, through his work on self-consciousness was led to understand that since not all ideas are true they must then be clear but never noticed if they only seemed clear or actually were. Leibniz had a different position on this focusing on how “nothing new can be learned by analyzing definitions” to which Pierce calls giving an “abstract definition” and clearness on the second grade. It is important for us to realize that when an idea is not clear it impedes our ability to grow intellectually. We must always search for ways in order to bring our ideas to some degree of clarity.

Leading from the importance of logic to making our ideas clear, Pierce introduces the basis of doubt and belief. He calls on how doubt incites action, which leads to belief. In his example of how he would decide how to pay for his horse-car fare referring to how his doubt arises from momentary indecision and his decision in the end will become a belief he will later use. He uses another example of him waiting in the railway and analyzing the different routes he could take as how doubt can sometimes be intentional as well but nevertheless it always leads to belief. Belief is a very strong weapon, which Pierce, certainly attains much power to in making our ideas clear. Even as he mentions it may take years to achieve, once achieved it will stick with us. He also brings into attention consciousness, which can be immediate or mediate. He relates this to music and how we are immediately conscious of the notes while mediately conscious of the melody just like sensations are like notes and our thoughts like the melody. We must be aware of the difference between sensations and thoughts in order to fully understand the concept of belief. He states belief has three properties, it is something we are aware of, something that settles doubt and it results in a habit.

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As Pierce makes this connection between belief and habit he speaks about the definitions of path, which involves force and acceleration or deceleration. Through this he is showing us the importance of the process is equal to that of the result. He reaches a conclusion of how we attribute a quality through the conceived effects and uses as an example how something may be hard and soft until put to the test. He deems this the rule for reaching the third grade of clarity. He uses this to introduce us to reality using an example of dreams and how even though they might seem real we may never be sure we are dreaming giving dreams a real existence in our minds. He attributes realness to something that is independent to what anybody else thinks of it. He mentions the only effect of reality is to cause belief but we need to separate true belief from false belief or belief on something fictitious. We can not only rely on our senses for belief, just as he shows us with dreams our senses may sometimes fool us into false belief. In conclusion, through logic and thought we incite belief, which leads us to have the proper tools to provide each degree of clarity onto our ideas and shows us how to use them appropriately but always keeping in mind that even though our ideas are clear they may not be true.


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