Arisbe is established to provide a gathering place — a place where people can gather and resources can be gathered — for those around the world who are interested in the sorts of things that interested the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce and make Peirce himself an especially interesting person. The aim is to start a process of accumulation, organization, and interaction that will actualize and strengthen a world-wide communicational community that has existed potentially for many years but was unable to realize itself effectively before the new world of the internet web was created, which provides a common space of public places where such forms of life can flourish by establishing roots in nurturant environments.
People form intellectual communities of this sort not because of identical concerns and beliefs but in the way we acquire our special patterns of relationship and association with our friends and close acquaintances: ranges of overlap in our interests, otherwise quite various, lead us to shared places (environments, contexts) of communication and interaction in spite of — indeed, in part because of — our differences. The motivation and the type of communication is quite different from that of clubs, cults, and action-defined organizations and is more like that characteristic of a city. Thus Arisbe is a place, not a project — an organization of conceptual space, not of activity — and will be only one of many such places on-line, in due time, as the more profound potentialities of the web for intellectual life become better appreciated.
It is the unusually broad range of his interests as well as the quality of his thought and the peculiar charm of his personality that makes Peirce a natural attractor for what is, in effect, a loosely-knit and informal "community of scholars", philosophically oriented with diverse but overlapping special interests that range from poetry to physics. Peirce himself was extraordinarily gifted and accomplished both as a philosopher and scientist — he made his living as a physical scientist (astronomy, geodesy, metrology) — and was a devotee of the arts and humanities as well, and the range of interests and vocations among Peirce aficionados the world over covers a correspondingly broad intellectual spectrum. What binds these many special interests together is, typically, association of them with a common interest in the nature of representation, meaning, interpretation, and dialogical communication, usually within a context of concern about the nature of inquiry and discovery, which Peirce regarded as essentially collaborative activities.
Born 1839 and died 1914, Peirce's adult life spanned the period from the American Civil War to the beginning of the First World War, but he is of special and growing interest at present, both internationally and to people in many fields and disciplines, not because of his historical influence — still largely unappreciated by most historians of the period — but rather because of his remarkable and unparalleled anticipation of the emerging themes of the 21st Century:
Taking this together with Peirce's trenchant expressive style, which is intellectually challenging but always crackling with intellectual energy, and with his confident appeal to the future as the place to look for the stabilizing power of reality — which is what must ultimately be meant in speaking of reality as something "virtual" — Arisbe could turn out to be one of the major intellectual attractor sites in the New World of the Web during the next decade or so, provided its caretakers do not confuse themselves with gatekeepers or with idol polishers.
Peirce is the daimon or guiding spirit of Arisbe, and his presence in his works here makes him available at any time as a guide in permanent residence to those things about which he was particularly knowledgeable or suggestive. But the virtual Arisbe is not devoted to the study of Peirce's work or life: Peirce himself would have been vehemently opposed to such idolatry. The remarkable character of his life as an individual and as a major contributor both to the development of intellectual life generally and to a distinctively American style of intelligence make it important to encourage a far more adequate understanding of him as a person than presently exists, and that is certainly to be supported at the virtual Arisbe; but the website is not devoted to Peirce but rather to the things to which Peirce was himself devoted and to whatever those who find the site attractive are themselves attracted.
Peirce is a major resource here, and an astonishingly rich one, but then all who are willing to communicate with others here on matters of shared interest are resources as well, and in the same sense. There is no defining agenda of Arisbe other than to accommodate and encourage these interests and provide a place for communication about them.
Some of the "FAQs" listed in the index panel to your left, about Peirce, Arisbe, and the Peirce Telecommunity Project, may be of interest to you: they explain the rationale of the website in some detail.
|This page contributed by: Joseph Ransdell