The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism: Lecture I’


But before we can attack any normative science, any science which proposes to separate the sheep from the goats, it is plain that there must be a preliminary inquiry which shall justify the attempt to establish such dualism. This must be a science that does not draw any distinction of good and bad in any sense whatever, but just contemplates phenomena as they are, simply opens its eyes and describes what it sees; not what it sees in the real as distinguished from figment – not regarding any such dichotomy – but simply describing the object, as a phenomenon, and stating what it finds in all phenomena alike. This is the science which Hegel made his starting-point, under the name of the Phänomenologie des Geistes – although he considered it in a fatally narrow spirit, since he restricted himself to what actually forces itself on the mind and so colored his whole philosophy with the ignoration of the distinction of essence and existence and so gave it the nominalistic and I might say in a certain sense the pragmatoidal character in which the worst of the Hegelian errors have their origin. I will so far follow Hegel as to call this science Phenomenology although I will not restrict it to the observation and analysis of experience but extend it to describing all the features that are common to whatever is experienced or might conceivably be experienced or become an object of study in any way direct or indirect.

Hegel was quite right in holding that it was the business of this science to bring out and make clear the Categories or fundamental modes. He was also right in holding that these Categories are of two kinds; the Universal Categories all of which apply to everything, and the series of categories consisting of phases of evolution.

CP 5.37-38
‘Phenomenology’ (pub. 06.02.13-19:15). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Feb 06, 2013, 19:15 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 00:59 by Commens Admin