Special Issue: “Pragmatism and Psychologism” Feat. Charles Sanders Peirce on Experimental Psychology

The most recent issue of the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy is devoted to “Pragmatism and Psychologism.” Edited by Rosa M. Calcaterra and Roberta Dreon the issue includes a number of articles that may be of interest to AHP readers, including a piece on Charles Sanders Peirce (right) and experimental psychology. Full details below.

“Introduction to Pragmatism and Psychologism,” by Rosa M. Calcaterra and Roberta Dreon. No Abstract.

“Anti-Psychologism and Neutrality: The Radical Empiricism of Husserl and James,” by Roberta Lanfredini. Abstract:

Both the phenomenology of Husserl and the pragmatist phenomenology of James can be categorized by the formula “radical empiricism,” which is explicit in James and implicit, but no less pervasive, in Husserl. For both of them, radical empiricism is additionally conjoined with an equally radical anti-psychologism. The problem is that the two terms “radical empiricism” and “anti-psychologism” take on a radically different meaning in the two authors. This essay aims to investigate the structural differences between two perspectives that, while following completely different courses, seem to share the same objective: to elaborate a philosophy which at no point moves away from the experiential plane.

“Psychologism and the Self,” by Vincente Sanfelix Vidarte. Abstract:

Although it is not documentarily proven, it is not unlikely that the young Wittgenstein read at least part of William James’s psychological work. In this paper we have compared their respective points of view about psychologism and the conception of the self. The result is a complex pattern of similarities and differences. If James and the early Wittgenstein coincide in their opposition to psychologism and the Cartesian conception of the subject, they do so from very different philosophical positions: that of a naturalist focus in the case of the American thinker; that of a transcendental focus in the Austrian thinker.

“Was Peirce a Genuine Anti-Psychologist in Logic?” by Claudine Tiercelin. Abstract:

The aim of the paper is to try and make one’s ideas clearer about such concepts as “logic,” “psychology,” “mind,” “normativity,” rationality,” as they were conceived by Peirce, in order to elucidate his genuine position as far as the relationship between logic and pychology is concerned, whether he was or was not a straightforward “anti psychologist” in logic, and from such analyses, to make some suggestions about the contemporary relevance of Peirce’s original views on such issues.

“Jung and Peirce: Towards a Psychosynthesis?” by Giovanni Maddalena. Abstract:

As correctly noticed by Vincent Colapietro, one of the few authors who have approached the topic, pragmatism and psychoanalysis followed parallel paths. The most obvious comparison between James and Freud did not seem to cast new light neither on the understanding of psyche nor on the two movements of thought. However, a different and less obvious comparison between Peirce and Jung might be more fruitful, notwithstanding the progressive antipsychologism of Peirce’s approach to logic. As we are going to see, this unusual comparison is due to the strong epistemic and philosophical import of Jung’s mature theories as well as to Peirce’s tendency to provide a general theory of the mind, both conscious and unconscious. Therefore, this paper will try to understand the attitude that Peirce had towards psychology (I), to recall the part of Jung’s theory that has to do with Peirce’s pragmatism (II), to assess the relationship between the two authors and the reciprocal advantage in mutually integrating their theories (III).

“Experimental Psychology and the Practice of Logic: Charles S. Peirce and the Charge of Psychologism, 1869-1885,” by Claudia Cristalli. Abstract:

Charles Sanders Peirce was acknowledged by William James as the founder of pragmatism; however, while James’ appreciation for psychology is well taken into account in his philosophy, the role that psychological inquiry played in Peirce’s thought remains largely unexplored. Few excellent studies indicate Peirce as the first American experimental psychologist (Cadwallader 1974, 1975; Fisch 1986) and as the first to perform a truly modern experiment in psycho-physics (Hacking 1988). Nonetheless, Peirce’s commitment to psycho-physics fails to be fully integrated with the broader project of his philosophy. This integration is crucial to gain a better understanding of the complexity of Peirce’s system of thought and of his position in the psychologistic-antipsychologistic divide. On the logical side, making Peirce’s position on psychology explicit leads to investigating his material logic; on the psychological side, Peirce’s scientific approach to psychology has its theoretical foundation in Kant and further marks the distinction between Peirce’s pragmatism and James’.

“Habit Beyond Psychology: The Evolution Of The Concept,” by Aleksandar Feodorov. Abstract:

In the following text I reexamine the connotations of the term habit from the perspective of Peirce’s pragmatism. I start by tracing back the roots of the term in the Metaphysical Club’s discussions of Alexander Bain’s theory of belief. By stressing the relative overlap between belief and habit I am also proposing that the latter term transcends the boundaries of empirical psychology. Peirce’s well-known antipathy to psychologism in logic raised the status of habit to a universal concept that participates in the unlimited process of interpretation. Habit, therefore, falls into a new lineage of meaning that can be traced back to antiquity and turns into a generative notion with extensive connotations. As a result it becomes an inseparable part of Peirce architectonic philosophy, capable to shed new light on his evolutionary cosmology and metaphysics. Conceiving of habit as an operative element in the evolution of all phenomena in the universe is the main objective of this article.

“Security as Completeness: A Peircean Semiotic Reading of the Psychology of Attachment,” by Matteo Santarelli. Abstract:

Peirce’s anti-psychologism hinges on two main assumptions. First, logic and psychology belong to two separate disciplines – respectively, the normative sciences and the experimental sciences. Second, externalism must be understood as a crucial and inescapable epistemological criterion. The introspectionist illusion, according to which individuals have direct and epistemologically flawless access to their own internal states, should be dismissed. As Colapietro (2003) and Calcaterra (2006) observe, Peirce’s standpoint is far different from the Kantian classical account of anti-psychologism. This original take on anti-psychologism leaves room for a functional distinction between logic and psychology, emerging from a semiotic and communicative continuity. This means that psychology, unlike logic as a formal doctrine of signs, will be epistemologically appropriate for dealing with internal psychological states, on the condition that this inquiry be focused on the communicative processes through which these internal states are expressed and conveyed.
Such a Peircean account of anti-psychologism forms the epistemological background of this paper. My goal is to show how Peirce’s approach to communication and semiosis can be applied in order to discuss a specific psychological theory, in this case, attachment theory. Specifically, I propose employing Giovanni Maddalena’s Peircean distinction between complete and incomplete gestures (Maddalena 2015) to account for the distinction between secure, dismissing and preoccupied attachment patterns. To this end, I will be discussing three different measurements of attachment: the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI, George, Kaplan & Main 1985), the Adult Attachment Projection (AAP, George & West 2006), and the Patient Attachment Coding System (PACS, Talia, Miller-Bottome & Daniel 2015). Throughout this discussion, I will examine the connection between the semiotic and phenomenological category of completeness, and the psychological category of security. This connection involves an interesting normative import, which I briefly discuss in the conclusions.


About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.