Monday, June 24, 2013

Wrong Part of the New Testament, Ian

Advocating not only altruism as a logical foundation for science, Peirce invoked John the Evangelist's three cardinal virtues of faith, hope, and charity. 'Charity' here not the charitable donations to the poor that Peirce mocked, but the classic rendering of caritas, often translated as disinterested love. I used John's and Peirce's very profound trio as early as 1965 (p. 47), and in 2001 used the same passages to end my introductory text on probability and induction (pp. 265 f.). In a forthcoming book, 'The Tradition of Natural Kinds', I spend a little time explicating Peirce's use of the words of the Evangelist, as understood by Peirce and as understood by St John, in a way that might discomfit your average twenty-first century pragmatist, but not, I hope, Putnam.

[Ian Hacking, "On Not Being a Pragmatist: Eight Reasons and a Cause", in New Pragmatists, Misak, ed. Clarendon (New York: 2007) p. 43.]

I can't find the reference in the 1965 book (Logic of Statistical Inference), although the passage on p. 47 can be read as vaguely allusive, but his 2001 book, Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic, does correctly attribute the trio to St Paul rather than St John, so I'm not sure what's going on here. The only thing I can think of is that his brain got stuck on 'charity', which is indeed discussed throughout the Johannine Corpus, and more extensively than in the Pauline. It happens; I've caught myself, or been caught, doing something similar a few times recently. I've no doubt at all, however, that St John's understanding of charity would discomfit your average twenty-first century pragmatist.

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