Peirce's Pragmatism

The Design for Thinking


This book cuts through the complex writing style of the seminal philosopher, Charles Sanders Peirce. It disentangles his ideas, explains them one by one, and then puts the pieces back together for application to educational issues. Accessible to a general readership, this study provides useful insights into Peirce's pragmatism for educators and philosophers.

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Biographical Note

Phyllis Chiasson completed her bachelor’s degree in speech and theater education, and her master’s degree in secondary education, at the University of Arizona. She taught speech, directed plays, and coached the forensics team at Salpointe High School in Tucson before joining the Tucson Unified School District in 1970. There, Chiasson taught speech and English classes, first at Pueblo and then at Palo Verde High School, until 1980. In January of 1980 she became co-director of Educational Consultations, also in Tucson. While with this agency she assisted parents, teachers, foster parents, social workers, and counselors in helping students improve their reasoning capabilities. She also provided workshops and wrote for professional journals. In the fall of 1983, Chiasson relocated to the Seattle area where, after a brief stint as a corporate writer, she co-founded the Davis-Nelson consulting group. This agency addresses learning and performance issues within the business community. Chiasson and her husband, Hal Leskinen, raised a blended family of five unique children: natural, adopted, step, gifted, average, learning-disabled, and biracial. They applied the Engaged Intelligence methods and the non-verbal model referenced in this book while raising their children. Most significant was the usefulness of this information for determining how to parent two of their adopted children, both drug affected and learning disabled. In May of 1997, due in great part to the successful raising of these children, Chiasson was featured as one of four “Moms of a Lifetime” in a nationally televised program. In addition to her work with the Relational Thinking Styles (RTS) model, the Davis Non-verbal Assessment, and Engaged Intelligence training, Chiasson is also author of the Chiasson Temperament Indicator (CTI), a computer-ized temperament test based upon Carl Jung’s typology. In 1996 she and her husband moved to Port Townsend, Washington, where Chiasson is affiliated with Peninsula College. Her first contact with other pragmatism scholars came in the spring of 1998 when she joined the Peirce and Dewey discussion groups on the Internet. Although she occasionally teaches for Peninsula College and provides workshops for interested groups, her primary efforts continue to be focused upon the explication and application of the Relational Thinking Styles model of non-verbal reasoning habits and its accompanying non-verbal assessment tool.

Review Quotes

”Chiasson’s comments … provide a delightful sense of freshness—as if reading real philosophy done anew from scratch. This freshness is not rare in Peirce’s texts, but it is very uncommon in most of the secondary bibliography. My experience is that the reader of this long and well-written dialogue will experience a lot of fun and a renewal of his or her interest around the real philosophical problems often hidden below mountains of heavy scholarly books.” in: Transactions of the C.S. Peirce Society (Fall 2002)
“One of the primary strengths of this work is its ability to bring clarity to Peirce’s pragmatism. … Chiasson goes to great length to clarify his ideas and language and use illustrative examples to bring out the force of Peirce’s pragmatism. Recognizing the background readers need to understand Peirce’s philosophy, she explains his references to Darwin, Comte, Ockham, and Hegel… , Chiasson’s work should not be overlooked as an introduction to Peirce’s Pragmatism… Chiasson’s work also represents a significant contribution to the philosophy of education … Understanding Peirce’s role as a forerunner of educational theory represents an important step toward improving our educational models and practices. … In sum, this book is composed of two parts that effectively compliment each other. Chiasson’s ability to offer an overview of Peirce’s pragmatism and make a valuable contribution to educational practice and theory is partly a result of her years of experience applying the very educational methods she discusses. But it also derives from her obvious dedication to understanding how pragmatism can influence practical affairs, something all philosophers can learn from.” in: Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, October 2001

Table of contents

Editorial Foreword Preface Acknowledgements Prologue ONE Setting the Stage TWO The Name Game THREE The Name Game - Day Two FOUR The Name Game - Day Three FIVE Before Belief and Doubt SIX Belief, Doubt, Critical Self, and Signs SEVEN Exposition of Pragmaticism EIGHT Components of an Experiment NINE Propositions TEN Experimental Phenomena ELEVEN Generality TWELVE Regularity THIRTEEN Evolution and Thought FOURTEEN Constructing a Conditional Purpose FIFTEEN Continuing into Continuity SIXTEEN Cosmology SEVENTEEN Hegel EIGHTEEN Engaged Intelligence Epilogue Notes Bibliography Appendix About the Author C. S. Peirce: “What Pragmatism Is” Index

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