Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Martin R. Schönfeld, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Roy C. Weatherford, Ph.D.


Mind, Sign, Self, Consciousness, Pragmatism


One of the least explored areas of C.S. Peirce's wide range of work is his contributions to psychology and the philosophy of mind. This dissertation examines the corpus of this work, especially as it relates to the subjects of mind, habit, instinct, sentiment, emotion, perception, consciousness, cognition, and community. The argument is that Peirce's contributions to these areas of investigation were both highly original and heavily influenced by the main intellectual currents of his time. An effort has been made to present Peirce's philosophy without apology, within the conceptual framework and idiom of its time, and without appeal to a comprehensive view that Peirce never articulated. Nevertheless, as several noted interpreters have argued, much of this work can be viewed through the lens of Peirce's innovative theory of signs and the notion of the semiotic triad as its central unifying feature, despite the fact that the general theory was itself under continuous refinement and remained incomplete at the time of his death. Another hermeneutical device employed is William James' better known and more accessible work which, when juxtaposed with Peirce's ideas, serves to bring them into sharper relief. While general and historical in the presentation of material, this study seeks, at the same time, to engage the criticism of contemporary Peirce scholars in an attempt to account for several of the conundrums inherent in Peirce's work. Among the problems with implications for his philosophy of mind and theory of inquiry are the limitations of his theory of continuity, his negative view of the self, his somewhat ambiguous position on the relation of psychology to logic, and the metaethical puzzle arising from application of his theory of probable inference to truly fateful decisions. These problems provide an interesting perspective and lend balance to the truly insightful contributions Peirce made to the discovery of the mind.