Friday, March 21, 2003

Peirce Pronounced; Of Abduction, Seduction, and Deduction

Having mentioned "abduction" several times, I feel obliged to mention Charles Peirce, who, it seems, first gave "abduction" its modern philosophical-epistemological-logical connotation.

Having mentioned Charles Peirce, I feel obliged to remind you, gentle readers, that "Peirce" rhymes with "purse." The reason for this counterintuitive pronunciation, it is said, is that the aforesaid CP's surname is descended from the surname "Pers." See, e.g., 1 Peirce Project Newsletter Nos. 3/4 (December 1994). But, as with all things scholarly, there is some dispute about this explanation for the pronunciation of CP's "Peirce."

Having mentioned Charles Peirce and abduction, I also feel impelled to mention that when Peirce used the word "abduction" he probably generally had "deduction" rather than "seduction" in mind; i.e., he probably was thinking that the formation of possible conclusions by deduction is one thing; and by abduction, another. This hypothesis about CP's mental states, however, might also be disputed: CP was a notorious "womanizer."

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