Of Reasoning in General

Third Selection, pp. 11-26.
MS 595. [Partially published in CP 2.282, 2.286-291, 2.295-296, 2.435-444, and 7.555-558.]

Origin of the Text

Soon after Ginn & Co. rejected Peirce's "How to Reason" (see previous selection), George A. Plimpton, a publisher in that company, encouraged Peirce to write "a logic after the plan of Jevons, not any larger than that," adding that, "as a text-book, pure and simple, it would have a good sale" (Plimpton to Peirce, 20 September 1894). About a year later, probably in the summer of 1895, Peirce began composing the smaller book, which he titled "Short Logic." "Of Reasoning in General" is the first and only chapter he wrote for that book. He sent it for comments to William James, Josiah Royce, and Francis E. Abbot. The latter responded that it was a "masterly piece of work," an opinion Peirce echoed later to his friend Francis Russell by saying it was his "best statement" of his division of signs into Icons, Indices, and Symbols, "other things in this paper [being] slurred over in order to bring this point into prominence" (L387:192, c. 10 March 1896).

Peirce may have abandoned the book for lack of actual publishing support. In July 1895 he told William James that he was "going to send Royce a chapter of a logic—a short one—which I dont quite dispair yet of publishing. I dont expect any returns, but it is possible it may be printed" [sic] (30 July 1895). A few weeks later he wrote his friend Russell that "I expect in a few days to sign a contract for the publication of a schoolbook which is expected to bring in some income for a good many years" (L387:145, 20 September 1895). But Ginn & Co. turned Peirce's down.

The chapter is divided into 13 articles. Of Article 9, which presents a long discussion of certain logico-grammatical features of the Egyptian and other languages, only the first and last paragraphs are presented in the EP2 text.