New research on the philosopher Charles Peirce

“In the United States, the relationship between science and religion remains an issue of perennial importance,” wrote Douglas Anderson, professor of philosophy and religion at the University of North Texas, commenting on the release of a new book by Roger Ward, professor of philosophy at Georgetown College.

In November, the results of Dr. Ward’s research on Charles Sanders Peirce over the past two decades or so will be featured in a 184-page Lexington Books volume titled Peirce and religion: knowledge, transformation and reality of God.

Ward describes Peirce as one of the most original voices in American philosophy. Peirce’s scientific career and his goal of proving scientific logic provide rich material for philosophical development. Peirce was also a longtime Christian and a member of the Episcopal Church.

Professor Ward traces the impact of Peirce’s religion and Christianity on the development of Peirce’s philosophy. Peirce’s religious setting is the key to his development of pragmatism and normative science in terms of knowledge and moral transformation. Peirce’s argument for the reality of God is a culmination of both his religious devotion and his lifelong philosophical development.

Robert Cummings Neville, professor of philosophy, religion and theology at Boston University, wrote in his journal: “Working primarily with well-known materials, Roger Ward has given us a surprisingly new view of Peirce as religious philosopher, a philosopher who is religious. The long term meaning of pragmatism is to live life in obedience to the “thirdness of thirdness” as characteristic of reality, then of the long duration of community, and only very fragmentarily of a person at individual will. .

Neville continued, “Ward makes his point in terms of Peirce’s logic over the years. But he relates this to Peirce’s explicit relationship with religion, his abandonment of his father’s Unitarianism for episcopalism, his abandonment with the end of his first marriage, and finally the reestablishment of his Trinitarian faith and his life in the church until his death. It is a very deep vision of Peirce.

Dr Ward wrote most of the book, he says, while on sabbatical in the spring of 2016. He thanks his students and colleagues who listened to various drafts for helping him publish the volume.

This is the second book in Ward’s “Conversion” series. The first one, Conversion to American Philosophy (Fordham, 2004), presents the landscape of engaging philosophy, explained Dr. Ward, “especially among American thinkers such as Edwards, Peirce, James and Dewey, as a challenge to our thinking that leads to change or a profound transformation of our thinking and our action.

Dr Ward, who chairs the Department of Philosophy, directs the Christian Scholars Program at Georgetown College as well as its Center for Christian Discernment and Academic Leadership (CDAL). He was also a guiding force for the young researchers of the Baptist Academy. The professor is a 2016 recipient of the Curry Award for Faculty Excellence.

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