In Charles S. Peirce: On Norms and Ideals, Potter argues that Peirce's doctrine of the normative sciences is essential to his pragmatism. No part of Peirce's philosophy is bolder than his attempt to establish esthetics, ethics, and logic as the three normative sciences and to argue for the priority of esthetics among the trio. Logic, Potter cites, is normative because it governs thought and aims at truth; ethics is normative because it analyzes the ends to which thought should be directed; esthetics is normative and fundamental because it considers what it means to be an end of something good in itself. This study shows that pierce took seriously the trinity of normative sciences and demonstrates that these categories apply both to the conduct of man and to the workings of the cosmos.
Professor Potter combines sympathetic and informed exposition with straightforward criticism and he deals in a sensible manner with the gaps and inconsistencies in Peirce's thought. His study shows that Peirce was above all a cosmological and ontological thinker, one who combined science both as a method and as result with a conception of reasonable actions to form a comprehensive theory of reality. Peirce's pragmatism, although it has to do with "action and the achievement of results, is not a glorification of action but rather a theory of the dynamic nature of things in which the "ideal" dimension of reality - laws, nature of things, tendencies, and ends - has genuine power for directing the cosmic order, including man, toward reasonable goals.
While Doctrine and Experience will be of particular interest to specialists in American Philosophy, there is also much to offer anyone interested in the intellectual and cultural history of the United States.
In order of appearance, the essays are:
"Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening" by John E. Smith
"Heart and Head: The Mind of Thomas Jefferson" by Andrew J. Reck
"Emerson and the American Future" by Robert C. Pollock
"Chauncey Wright and the Pragmatists" by Edward Madden
"Charles S. Peirce: Action Through Thought - The Ethics of Experience" by Vincent G. Potter
"Life Is in the Transitions': Radical Empiricism and Contemporary Concerns" by John J. McDermott
"John Dewey and the Metaphysics of American Democracy" by Ralph W. Sleeper
"Individualization and Unification in Sartre and Dewey" by Thelma Z. Levine
"Josiah Royce: Anticipator of European Existentialism and Phenomenology" by Jacqueline Ann K. Kegley
"The Transcendence of Materialism and Idealism in American Thought" by John Lachs
"C. I. Lewis and the Pragmatic Tradition in American Philosophy" by Sandra Rosenthal
"The Social Philosophy of George Herbert Mead" by David Miller
"Existence as Transaction: A Whiteheadian Study of Causality" by Elizabeth Kraus.