and, according to an early plan, he was expected to contribute the introduction for the edition (MS 1600).
The appearance of the Hartshorne-Weiss volumes in 1931-35 is a landmark event in American philosophy. These volumes, together with two final volumes edited by Arthur Burks which appeared in 1958, had an enormously stimulating influence on the study of Peirce's thought, and are still the standard source for Peirce's philosophical writings. Yet, as an event in editing, the Collected Papers have almost from the beginning been found wanting. After due consideration and appreciation is given to Hartshorne, Weiss, and Burks, for the awesome difficulties they had to overcome, the edition as a whole cannot be given unequivocal praise largely because of an unwise principle of organization. It was decided that Peirce's writings (except for most of his scientific and mathematical writings, which, though voluminous and important, were hardly considered at all) would be organized thematically according to Peirce's classification of the sciences, and to further that end chronological and textual considerations
were given low priority. Lecture series were broken apart and published in separate volumes, single papers were cut in two, and under a single title might appear excerpts from writings composed more than thirty years apart. As a compendium of hitherto unavailable writings of America's greatest philosopher the Collected Papers is invaluable, but as a dependable resource for the critical study of Peirce's thought as a whole it is notoriously inadequate.
After the publication of the Hartshorne
and Weiss volumes a second dark time for the Peirce papers ensued. It is rumored that there was a general feeling at Harvard that they were now "finished" with the Peirce manuscripts and that there was no longer any use for them (or, at least,
for some part of the collection). Sometime in the early '4Os (apparently in the spring of 1944) interested members and friends of the Department of Philosophy were permitted to select original Peirce manuscripts to keep as private mementos. The rumor has
it that only by chance did a librarian of the Widener Library (or, perhaps, it was the Houghton) get wind of this "give-away" and raise such a strong objection that Department Chairman C. I. Lewis felt compelled to issue a recall. Some papers
were returned, though no official records had been kept of the manuscripts taken.
That this "give-away" ever occurred at all has been denied at Harvard, and both Hartshorne and Weiss have reported that they know nothing about it. (They had long since departed Harvard by this time.) However, a close examination of the sources for the Collected Papers reveals that some of the source manuscripts are indeed missing. (Weiss was astonished to hear of this. (Bernstein 181)) And it is known
that some important manuscripts were quietly returned many years later by an eminent Harvard graduate who confirms that the "give-away" did occur and that he kept certain papers because he thought they would be safer in his care. Among the papers given to this single graduate were such important writings as Peirce's "A Guess at the Riddle" a manuscript on Darwinism and synechism, part of a manuscript on selfishness and political economy, a paper on religion and politics, and notebooks
on phaneroscopy. All of these papers have now made their way back into the Harvard collection, but there is no way of knowing what may still be in private hands. In any case it seems that by the early '40s most of the Peirce collection (sixty-one boxes plus correspondence) had been deposited in the Archives of the Widener Library and after 1960 it was transferred to the Houghton Library, which had at some time in the interim acquired a small holding of Peirce Papers (nineteen boxes), possibly the papers
that had been separated for, but which had survived, the "give-away." I have not found any indication of how the papers became separated but it must have occurred in or just before 1941 when Knight McMahan organized and catalogued the sixty-one
boxes that went to the Widener. Only much later, in 1960, were the nineteen boxes in the Houghton catalogued by John Boler. In 1969 a final substantial addition was made to the Library's holdings when an old desk was found to be stuffed full of important
original Peirce manuscripts which had somehow become separated from the collection.
In 1959, shortly after the Burks volumes appeared, Max Fisch was asked by Harvard to write an intellectual biography of Peirce. Originally it was supposed that the biography would be the capstone of a ten-volume edition of the Collected Papers. It soon became apparent to Fisch that the selection and organization of the Collected Papers and, in particular, the state of disorganization of the manuscripts, made the systematic study of Peirce's thought a nearly hopeless undertaking. Fisch, together with his wife, Ruth, and his student, Don D. Roberts, began spending summers in Cambridge to work on the Papers. Other researchers, notably Richard Robin, helped with the reorganization. Murray Murphey was probably much on hand at the beginning, for he was working hard over the manuscripts for his book, The Development of Peirce's Philosophy. After several years, Fisch's group (with help from independent scholars such as Caro1yn Eisele) finally brought enough order to the manuscripts so they could be effectively used and cited by researchers. A microfilm edition of the manuscripts was produced, and Robin (making much use of the earlier catalogues, especially McMahan's) prepared an accompanying catalogue of the entire integrated collection, giving philosophers the world over access to the bulk of Peirce's published writings. But with over eighty thousand filmed manuscript pages it is a monumental
task to do extensive microfilm research, and to make matters worse, a great many of the writings are undated and fragmentary.
As Fisch continued his efforts to improve the organization of the manuscripts, and to collect Peirce papers from other collections—perhaps as many as ten thousand pages are in the National Archives alone—the need for a comprehensive chronological edition became widely recognized and in October 1973 a group of scholars met at Peirce's Milford, Pennsylvania home, Arisbe, to
discuss prospects for a new edition. Fisch presented "A Plan for a New Edition of the Writings of Charles S. Peirce" which evolved into the Arisbe Plan. The first stage of the adopted plan called for an agreement with Harvard University
to use the Peirce Papers. This arrangement was reached and an electroprint copy of the entire Harvard collection was obtained by Texas Tech University's Institute for Studies in Pragmaticism. In the summer of 1974 the Institute sent a group of scholars
to Harvard to compare the electroprint copies with the original manuscripts in the Houghton Library and to record any information concerning paper size and type, watermarks, ink colors, faint markings or notations, or anything else that might help in the
dating, organization, and transcription from the electroprint copy. In 1975, newly under the direction of Edward C. Moore, the developing project moved to Indiana University at Indianapolis with a copy of the microfilm edition of the Papers and two clear photocopied sets of the Institute's electroprint, one to be kept in the Harvard arrangement and the other to be rearranged and renumbered in chronological order. Max Fisch was installed as general editor and by July 1976, with the support of Indiana University, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation, the Peirce Edition Project, with a staff of four, got under way.
The task of the Peirce Project is to provide a definitive critical edition, in chronological arrangement, of a wide selection of Peirce's writings. While the important collections of Eisele and Ketner, as well as the Collected Papers, must not be
undervalued, it has to be acknowledged that these can not be said to be definitive, for each fails to meet that standard in the identification and organization of their texts or in their editorial methods. To insure that the desired scholarly standard is achieved, the Peirce Project has developed its policies in accordance with the stipulations of the Modern Language Association's Committee on Scholarly Editions. In this way the Project hopes to produce an edition of about thirty volumes which will include numerous previously unpublished writings, exhibit the development and coherence of Peirce's thought, provide a context that will give new meaning and, perhaps, importance to previously known works, and, overall, provide the authoritative Peirce text for years to come.
In many respects the Peirce Project faces editorial problems similar to those of any other critical edition, at least any other project that undertakes to edit the work of a polymathic figure. At a conference devoted to the problems of editing the works
of polymaths, George Whalley characterized the difficulty:
I have called our polymaths "geniuses" to distinguish them from mere scholars of redoubtable learning and talent. Genius being unaccountable in its scope, force, elegance and rapidity, and obviously beyond the normal reach of mundane learning and imagination, the attempt to edit the work of a genius is an act of presumption or folly made possible only by some act of grace that supervenes upon the limitations of the inquirer to redeem the poverty of his resources. (Whalley 1963: 25)
That Charles Peirce was a polymath can hardly be doubted. For more than thirty years Peirce was a professional scientist employed by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. For many of these years he was in charge of measuring gravity, but he also made notable advances in the theory of pendulum research and in methodology. But during all of his Coast Survey years, and for the nearly quarter of a century that followed his resignation from the Survey, he carried on a full philosophical and literary life. Peirce contributed
to a surprisingly wide range of subject areas including mathematics, the natural and social sciences, and the humanities. He made original contributions in all of these general fields; and in several disciplines, from geodesy to formal logic, he made fundamental discoveries that helped shape the current forms of those subjects. In logic Peirce was one of the pioneers of the modern mathematical approach and was toward the end of the 19th Century regarded by the English mathematician, William Clifford, to
be the second man since Aristotle to contribute materially to that subject; the other man was George Boole. (Fisch 1986: 129) In philosophy Peirce was the originator of the important doctrine called "Pragmatism" that was made so much of by William James and John Dewey and which is today experiencing a resurgence of vigor. More profound and intractable in the difficulty they pose for editors are the areas in which Peirce appears to have been a precursor, often areas of thought only in their infancy during Peirce's day. Such areas include modal logic, topology, lattice theory, hydrodynamics, comparative biography, artificial intelligence (at least the graphical modelling of intelligence), and semiotics.
To the above list of areas to which Peirce contributed I must add the important, if somewhat less creative, areas of lexicography, review, and pedagogy. He contributed hundreds of definitions to the Century Dictionary, over three hundred book reviews to the Nation, and wrote text
books in elementary mathematics (unpublished in his lifetime). And, finally, Peirce left numerous "non-verbal documents" which have rarely been considered at all, and are of as yet undetermined significance. The selection and editing difficulties faced by the editors because of the tremendous range and depth of Peirce's thought are at least matched by corresponding difficulties in reorganizing the papers themselves. Working through this material has been an enormous undertaking and has occupied
many hands including those of most of the persons named in this paper but many others besides. The disorganization of the papers, partly due to Peirce himself, who frequently drew pages from one paper to modify and incorporate into another, and who even
more frequently rewrote a section of a work several times without any indication of his final choice, but due also to the incompetence and astonishing disdain of some individuals who have had access to Peirce's papers after his death, has been the chief
obstacle; but the accurate chronological arrangement of pages, necessary for our edition, has also been hampered by our dependence on photocopies of the Harvard and National Archive collections. While we have access to those collections for the purpose of comparing typescripts and recording technical features, we cannot lay out pages from different manuscript folders to compare and rearrange. Yet easily over a fourth of the so-called manuscripts in the Harvard collection are misarranged, often consisting of pages from separate drafts, not infrequently from different papers. We are left to labor over nearly one hundred thousand pages (including a fairly large number of pages from Harvard that were not microfilmed and perhaps as many as ten thousand pages from other collections) rendered colorless and uniform by a photocopier, but with the words and markings of one of the world's greatest minds. It is hoped that after the Peirce Project finally succeeds in rearranging the Peirce Papers in their chronological order, Harvard's Houghton Library will permit us to rearrange the original manuscripts chronologically and assign to them the new Project numbers.
As I draw to a close, I feel bound to say a word to those who may have doubts about the value of such devotion to the entire corpus, including even the scraps, of a single writer, even one of Peirce's stature. It is inevitable, perhaps, that editors of long-lived editions will come to regard their authors as having a special place in literature or the history of thought. Certainly the editors at the Project have such a regard for Peirce. Yet for us, as for all editors, it may be therapeutic to ponder the point of view unequivocally expressed by the American philosopher Horace M. Kallen in response to a question about why he thought that anybody's place in the history of philosophy is a matter of accident. This is Kallen's reply:
Somebody gets picked up; he has vocal and persuasive disciples; a school gets set up; reports are written—they may be for
gotten and lost altogether, or they may be carried on by organizations of power, the way Shakespeare is carried on, the way the Bible used to be carried on. Who reads the Bible now since the Church has lost control of education? And who would be reading Shakespeare now if there were not entrance examinations for college requiring the reading of two or three of Shakespeare's plays? The vehicles of communication and the relevancy of selected material are what make the difference. What was Peirce's place in the history of philosophy? What was it in 1910? And then along came these kids who were sure that they knew more about Peirce than Dewey and James did, and provided the correct view of Peirce, having edited his works; and Peirce now has a vogue. Well, why does he have a vogue? Why Plato or Aristotle or anybody? Somebody chooses to push the damn thing. The Madison Avenues of the world keep working. (Lamont 1959: 89-90)
As an antidote to Kallen's interesting but rather irreverent view, I will close with an extract from a memorial notice of Peirce's death, written by Francis C. Russell for The Monist.
In the late sixties the distinguished Professor Benjamin Peirce of Harvard, lecturing before the Boston Radical Club on "The Impossible in Mathematics," spoke of his son Charles and of his expectations that the latter would develop and fertilize the vistas he had been able only to glimpse. On April 19, 1914, after at least a half century of assiduous probings into the most recondite and the most consequential of all human concerns, in a mountain hut overlooking the serene Delaware, in privation and obscurity, in pain and forsakenness, that son, Charles S. Peirce, left this world and left also a volume of product the eminent value of which will sooner or later be discovered, perhaps only after it has been rediscovered. For his issues have so far anticipated the ordinary scope of even professional intellectual exercise that most of them are still only in manuscript. Publishers want "best sellers." At least they want sellers that will pay the expenses of publication, and buyers of printing that calls for laborious mental application are scarce. Let me here with the utmost solicitude beg all to whom it falls to handle his books and papers to beware how they venture to cast away any script left by him. (Russell 1914: 469-72)
Unfortunately, not everyone who has worked with the Peirce Papers has shared Russell's reverence for Peirce and his work. We at the Project try to adhere to Russell's admonition while pondering the sobering remarks of Horace Kallen.
Note 1: The information for this paper was obtained from several sources, chiefly from the following: Royce and Kernan 1916; the introduction to the Collected Papers (vol. I) 1931; Kernan 1965; Lenzen 1965; the preface to Robin 1967; Lieb 1970; Bernstein 1970; Robin 1971; from Max H. Fisch in conversation and from his extensive files on Peirce which I have been permitted to examine; and from conversations with Arthur Burks. The reader is well advised to read what follows with a degree of caution, taking note that the account I give is a reconstruction from numerous sources of various degrees of dependability, that I have engaged in some cautious speculation, and, in particular, that I do not pretend to give the whole story. I know that parts of the account remain to be filled in as more information turns up. I apologize forthwith to anyone who may have played a role in the drama of the Peirce Papers which should have been related, and would be pleased to receive additional intelligence about these matters.
All references to Peirce manuscripts are given with their Robin numbers (Robin 1967). The manuscripts are located in the Houghton Library of Harvard University and are used with the generous permission of the Harvard Department of Philosophy.
Note 2: The following statement appears in the introduction to the Collected Papers (Vol. 1): "Nearly all the members of the Department during the last fifteen years, as well as many others who were interested in Peirce, have devoted much time to the often very intractable material of the manuscripts." Perhaps Henry S. Leonard deserves special mention for his
Note 3: That Whitehead gave advice was reported by Hartshorne at the recent Peirce Sesquicentennial Congress (Harvard, Sept. 1989).
Bernstein, Richard, ed. (1970). Paul Weiss's Recollections of Editing the Peirce Papers (an interview by Richard Bernstein). Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 6: 161-80.
Fisch, Max H. (1986). Peirce, Semeiotic, and Pragmatism, Kenneth Laine Ketner and Christian J. W. Kloesel (eds.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Kernan, in F. (1965). The Peirce Manuscripts and Josiah Royce—A Memoir; Harvard 1915-1916. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 1: 90-95.
Lamont, Corliss, ed (1959). Dialogue on George Santayana. New York: Horizon Press.
Lenzen, Victor F. (1965). Reminiscences of a Mission to Milford, Pennsylvania. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 1: 3-11.
Irwin C., ed. (1970). Charles Hartshorne's Recollections of Editing the Peirce Papers (an interview by Irwin C. Lieb). Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 6, 149-59.
Robin, Richard S. (1967). Annotated Catalogue of the Papers of Charles S. Peirce. Worcester, MA: The University of Massachusetts Press.
Robin, Richard 5. (1971). The Peirce papers: A Supplementary Catalogue. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 7: 37-57.
Royce, Josiah, and Fergus Kernan (1916). Charles Sanders Peirce. The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods 13: 701-09.
Russell, Francis C. (1914). In Memoriam Charles S. Peirce. The Monist 24: 469-72.
Whalley, George (1983). Coleridge and the Self-unravelling Clue. Editing Polymaths: Erasmus to Russell, ed. H. J. Jackson. Toronto: The Committee for the Conference on Editorial Problems, pp. 17-40.