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Charles Sanders Peirce (/ˈpɜrs/, like "purse", September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist, sometimes known as "the father of pragmatism". He was educated as a chemist and employed as a scientist for 30 years. Today he is appreciated largely for his contributions to logic, mathematics, philosophy, scientific methodology, and semiotics, and for his founding of pragmatism.

In 1934, the philosopher Paul Weiss called Peirce "the most original and versatile of American philosophers and America's greatest logician". Webster's Biographical Dictionary said in 1943 that Peirce was "now regarded as the most original thinker and greatest logician of his time."

An innovator in mathematics, statistics, philosophy, research methodology, and various sciences, Peirce considered himself, first and foremost, a logician. He made major contributions to logic, but logic for him encompassed much of that which is now called epistemology and philosophy of science. He saw logic as the formal branch of semiotics, of which he is a founder. As early as 1886 he saw that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits; the same idea was used decades later to produce digital computers.

Bertrand Russell (1959) wrote, "Beyond doubt [...] he was one of the most original minds of the later nineteenth century, and certainly the greatest American thinker ever." Alfred North Whitehead, while reading some of Peirce's unpublished manuscripts soon after arriving at Harvard in 1924, was struck by how Peirce had anticipated his own "process" thinking. Karl Popper viewed Peirce as "one of the greatest philosophers of all times". Yet Peirce's achievements were not immediately recognized. His imposing contemporaries William James and Josiah Royce admired him, and Cassius Jackson Keyser at Columbia and C. K. Ogden wrote about Peirce with respect, but to no immediate effect.

The first scholar to give Peirce his considered professional attention was Royce's student Morris Raphael Cohen, the editor of an anthology of Peirce's writings titled Chance, Love, and Logic (1923) and the author of the first bibliography of Peirce's scattered writings. John Dewey studied under Peirce at Johns Hopkins and, from 1916 onwards, Dewey's writings repeatedly mention Peirce with deference. His 1938 Logic: The Theory of Inquiry is much influenced by Peirce. The publication of the first six volumes of the Collected Papers (1931–35), the most important event to date in Peirce studies and one that Cohen made possible by raising the needed funds, did not prompt an outpouring of secondary studies. The editors of those volumes, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, did not become Peirce specialists. Early landmarks of the secondary literature include the monographs by Buchler (1939), Feibleman (1946), and Goudge (1950), the 1941 Ph.D. thesis by Arthur W. Burks (who went on to edit volumes 7 and 8), and the studies edited by Wiener and Young (1952). The Charles S. Peirce Society was founded in 1946. Its Transactions, an academic quarterly specializing in Peirce, pragmatism, and American philosophy, has appeared since 1965.

Peirce has gained a significant international following, marked by university research centers devoted to Peirce studies and pragmatism in Brazil (CeneP/CIEP), Finland (HPRC, including Commens), Germany (Wirth's group, Hoffman's and Otte's group, and Deuser's and Härle's group), France (L'I.R.S.C.E.), Spain (GEP), and Italy (CSP). His writings have been translated into several languages, including German, French, Finnish, Spanish, and Swedish. Since 1950, there have been French, Italian, Spanish, British, and Brazilian Peirceans of note.

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