Firstness, evolution and the absolute in Peirce's Spinoza

Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 44 (4):pp. 603-628 (2008)
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Abstract

Inspired by Peirce’s repeated claim in the final decade of his life that Spinoza was a pragmati(ci)st, this article examines whether or not Peirce also believed that Spinoza’s metaphysics leaves room for Firstness. He engaged this issue explicitly in his third “Lecture on Pragmatism” (1903), listing Spinoza’s among the metaphysics that include Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness. Moreover, over a decade earlier, in the context of his exploration of hyperbolic geometry and the evolutionary cosmology that he regarded as corresponding to it, Peirce repeatedly (if obliquely) identified Spinoza with the cosmological model that embraces all three of the categories. The article concludes by sketching the ambitious thesis that Spinoza was not only, as is usually held, a necessitarian, but also a Peircean possibilist.

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Shannon Dea
University of Regina

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