Community of Enquirers: A Methodological Framing

by Charles Sanders Peirce, 'detourned' by Rod Munday

Detourner's' note. - The term 'community of inquirers' does not appear anywhere in the collected works of Charles Sanders Peirce. What you have here is only an approximation of what he meant, but. . .

The Inquirer more or less vaguely identifies her/himself in sentiment with a Community of which he/she is a member, and which includes, for example, besides her momentary self, her self of ten years hence.

The individual speaks of the resultant cognitive compulsions of the course of life of that Community as "Our Experience" that "the Consciousness" is a sort of public spirit among the nerve-cells.

Very broadly communities consist of: cells; compound-animals; composite plants; society; nature; feeling. This is because community of feeling exist between parts of "mind" that are infinitesimally near together. Without this, it would have been impossible for minds external to one another or ever to become coordinated.

It would be equally impossible for any coordination to be established in the action of the nerve-matter of one brain, (the modes of thought of a "God", who should possess an intuitive omniscience superseding reason, are put out of the question).

Now the whole process of development among the Community of Inquirers of those formulations by abstractive observation and reasoning of the truths which must hold good of all signs used by a scientific intelligence.

This pragmatic approach is an observational science, which peirce calls Pragmatism is like any other positive science--notwithstanding its strong contrast to all the special sciences-- because it has a subject of its inquiry, which arises from its aiming to find out what feelings are.

Peirce says. "Observe that I say in itself. I am not so wild as to deny that my sensation of red today is like my sensation of red yesterday. I only say that the similarity can consist only in the physiological force behind consciousness --which leads me to say, I recognise this feeling the same as the former one"

This distinction between feeling a feeling and observing one is why the Community of Inquirers does not consist solely in a community of sensation.

We individually cannot reasonably hope to attain the ultimate philosophy which we pursue through our collective inquiry; we can only seek it, therefore, it is for the community of 'philosophers' (inquirers) to decide when we are close.

This method is powerful because, If disciplined and candid minds carefully examine a theory and refuse to accept it, this ought to create doubts in the mind of the author of the theory himself.

[Detourners' note continued.] For my purposes, the way I am using the concept of a community of inquirers is more statistical than chronological. In other words, I conceptualise a Community of Inquires, not in terms of the individual over different stages of their life, but rather in terms of members of a who are different individuals at different times of their lives, but located at the same state, or point in time, hence - statistical.

Everything is negotiable within a Community of Inquirers, but let me suggest some tentative 'rules':

Remember to keep your investigations democratic and transparent. For example, you can edit your own work, but not the work of others.

Find a virtual place to meet and discuss these issues.

Remember to show you working, discuss what you have done and the steps of your reasoning.

If you find yourselves suffering too much under 'the rules of this game' then drop it or ask for help from me - - but remember I am as much in the dark about some of this as you are. . .

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