Charles Sanders Peirce's Concept of Inquiry

Pages: 3 (937 words) Published: December 15, 2010
The human mind is arguably Mother Nature’s greatest creation. It is through our minds that humans explore and experiment, trying to understand the concepts behind life and answer the many questions that come with. Charles Sanders Peirce, an American philosopher, explores the philosophical significance of human Belief and Doubt that demonstrate his concept of inquiry.

Before understanding what Pierce’s concept of inquiry is, we must first understand his philosophy on Belief and Doubt. According to Pierce, “beliefs guide [human] desires and shape [human] actions” (232). Beliefs are natural habits that determine, not only one’s actions, but also one’s identity as a human being. A person’s behavior, actions, and interactions with others are all results of one’s beliefs. Pierce then states, “Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state for which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief” (233). Doubt builds such uneasiness in ones mind that the irritation motivates them to fulfill, or destroy, that doubt by any means. Even the biggest doubts could be destroyed with the simplest of answers and techniques as long as the person “believes” that their doubt is gone.

Although Belief and Doubt both affect human actions, the two have very different affects. Pierce differentiates belief as a habit that “does not make us act at once, but puts us into such a condition that we shall behave in a certain way, when the occasion arises” (233). Doubt also does not make us act at once but the irritation of doubt itself could be a great enough motivation to destroy it in order to obtain belief. Doubt could be rooted from the simplest of ideas but the affects it may cause are endless. This struggle to attain a state of belief from doubt is what Pierce terms as inquiry.

In Pierce’s concept of inquiry, doubt cannot prosper without belief but belief can live independently from doubt. This ignorance would actually make a person living without doubt much happier than...
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