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Henry Sidgwick

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Henry Sidgwick Biography

Henry Sidgwick (May 31, 1838 – August 28, 1900) was born in Skipton, England, United Kingdom. Philosopher and economist, founder of the Psychic Research Society, of which he was also president. Sidgwick is one of the most prominent utilitarian philosophers of the 19th century. The creator of the theory of international values, which he developed in his most recognized work is Principles of political economy (1883). Throughout his professional career, he worked as a professor at Trinity College and Knightbridge. In parallel, he conducted various research on ethics, morals, and economics. He was a follower of the ideas of John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant, which are reflected in his work. Sidgwick was one of the intellectuals who promoted higher education for women through Newnham College.

Early years

Son of the Reverend William Sidgwick, who was a descendant of a family of cotton makers, which had settled in Yorkshire. Two years before Sidgwick’s birth, the Reverend was hired as the principal of Skipton Elementary School, a position he held until 1841, the year he died, at which time Henry Sidgwick was only three years old. Sidgwick was educated at home until 1848, at which time he began attending Bishop College, then left home to join his brothers in a school located Blackheath, which was under the direction of Pastor H. Dale. During the following years Sidgwick, stood out for his talent and intelligence, which is why his mother aware of his abilities decided to provide the best education, so he sent Sidgwick to Bristol, where he went to school, a short time later the family settled in Bristol.

Studies and professional career

In the mid-1850s, he left the family’s home to study at the university where his father had graduated, Trinity College, in Cambridge, where he studied Mathematics and Human Sciences. During this training stage, Sidgwick was a member of the Cambridge Apostles, a society with a great reputation in the alma mater, in which several debates are held on various topics, in which each member writes annotations, which are preserved and passed on to being part of the archives of the society. After graduating the members of the society are called Angels, and sometimes they attend meetings of the society. After standing out among the students of his course, Sidgwick obtained his degree in 1859, that same year he was elected member of Trinity College, later he was appointed professor of classics, a class that changed by Moral Philosophy in 1869.

In the course of the 1870s, he gave various conferences for women, later named the Newnham College, an institution for women which was managed in the early years by Anne Clough. Three years later, he published his first book, entitled The Methods of Ethics (1874), a book in which the influence of Mill and Kant’s work is reflected, in this he proposed a method that allowed ethical decisions to be made based on three approaches: selfishness, utilitarianism, and intuitionism.

The first refers to the theory that justifies a certain action if it produces happiness to the person who performs it, regardless of whether it can affect others. Utilitarianism tries to contribute to the happiness of all the people involved and intuitionism takes into account other purposes besides happiness. In the end, the author mentions that selfishness and intuitionism do not provide an appropriate basis for rational behavior, so he proposed a system that reconciled selfishness and altruism, without neglecting British ethical utilitarianism.

In 1875, he was elected preselector of Trinity College. The following year he married Eleanor Balfour, who became the director of Newnham College in 1892. At the beginning of the 1880s, she became a member of the Metaphysical Society and began to be interested in psychic phenomena, which led him to found the Society for Psychic Research in 1882. Edmund Gurney, and Frederic William Henry Myers participated, among others. A year later he published Principles of Political Economy (1883), his most famous work, in which the author developed a theory of international values. That same year he was appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy at Knightsbridge. In the following years, he published The scope and method of economic science (1885), followed Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers (1886).

In the last decades of his life, he published Elements of politics (1891) and Practical Ethics (1898). After his death, Philosophy: its Scope and Relations (1902) was published as well as the development of European politics (1903), Miscellaneous Essays and Addresses (1904) and Lectures on the Philosophy of Kant and Other Philosophical Lectures and Essays (1905).

Until 1900 he continued working at Trinity College, an institution in which he had a prominent position, and also actively participated in the reform of the institution. The famous philosopher and economist died on August 28, 1900, in Cambridge, England.



Rudolf Carnap

Rudolf Carnap Biography
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Rudolf Carnap Biography

Rudolf Carnap (May 18, 1891 – September 14, 1970) was born in Ronsdorf, Germany. German philosopher, one of the most important exponents of the Vienna Circle, a philosophical collective formed by Moritz Schlick, in which the philosophers Kurt Gödel and Otto Neurath stood out. Throughout his career, Carnap served as a professor of philosophy in different universities (Vienna and Prague). Before World War II broke out, he moved to the United States, where he continued teaching in Chicago, Princeton, and Los Angeles. For his contributions concerning neo-positivism, the construction of logical systems and discourse analysis is considered one of the most relevant philosophers of the twentieth century.

Early years

Son of Johannes Carnap and Anna Dorpfeld. Carnap was born into a modest German-Western family, which provided him with a good education. He began his academic training at the Barmen Gymnasium. Between 1910 and 1914 he studied philosophy, mathematics and traditional logic at the universities of Jena and Freiburg. While studying at the University of Jena he was a disciple of the mathematician Gottlob Frege, who at that time was known for his studies on mathematical logic, becoming seen as one of the most prominent exponents of his time; Frege’s work profoundly influenced Carnap’s studies.

After the outbreak of the First World War, he entered the University of Berlin, where he continued his philosophical training. Later he obtained his doctorate at the University of Jena with the thesis on the concept of space, which he divided into three types: space physical, intuitive space, and formal space. Since then he began to carry out research in which he addressed topics such as time and causality, and also discussed theories of symbolic and physical logic.

Carnap and the Vienna Circle

Towards the end of the 1920s, he began to work as a professor of philosophy in Vienna, at which time he associated with the Vienna Circle.Philosophical collective founded by the empiricist logical Moritz Schlick, who invited Carnap to participate in meetings and studies of the circle. At that time the group was trying to create a scientific perspective of the world, through which the rigor of the exact sciences could be applied in philosophical theories and their studies, an idea that contrasted with the philosophical approach of the time, which was carried out Verifications based on deductions through an unofficial or strict language, which opened space for any doubts.

In 1929 the circle presented the manifesto The scientific conception of the world: the Vienna Circle, written by Otto Neurath. This showed the signatures of Carnap and Hans Hahn. In the manifesto the circle set out the principles of neo-positivism and its opposition to meaningless metaphysics, emphasizing the importance of verifiability; these approaches were inspired by the work of Wittgenstein Tractatus logico-philosophicus (logical-philosophical treatise).

During this period the philosopher delved into the philosophical problems and the language with which they are addressed. Because these problems derived from the inappropriate use of language, to test this approach he carried out various studies in which he tried to build logical systems that were capable of avoiding ambiguities and misuse of language. In parallel, he focused on analyzing scientific discourse, among the most outstanding works that addressed these themes are: The logical structure of the world (1928), the overcoming of metaphysics through the logical analysis of language (1931) and The logical syntax of the language (1934). Towards the middle of the 1930s, he moved to the United States, motivated by the rise of Nazism in Germany. When he settled down, he began working as a professor at the University of Chicago, an institution where he worked until the early 1950s.

In these years he wrote Investigations in semantics (1942-47), Meaning and necessity (1947) and Logical foundations of probability (1950). In the first two books he studied the formal and conceptual aspect of language and in Logical Foundations of the probability in which he distinguished between statistics and logic, generating important contributions in the field of statistics. Between 1952 and 1954 he taught at Princeton, followed by moving to California where he was hired as a professor at the University of California. He worked until the 1960s.

In the last years of his career, Carnap published Introduction to Symbolic Logic (1954), Philosophy Della Scienza: anthology (1964) and Philo Foundations Of Physics (1966), among others. Throughout his academic career, Carnap defended and promoted the principles of mathematical logic or symbolic logic, through which he tried to create a scientific perspective of the world.

After a long and outstanding academic career Carnap, he died on September 14, 1970, in Los Angeles, California.

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Nicolás Malebranche

Nicolás Malebranche Biography
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Nicolás Malebranche Biography

Nicolás Malebranche (August 6, 1638 – October 13, 1715) was born in Paris, France. Philosopher and theologian considered one of the most relevant thinkers of his time. Malebranche was one of the followers of the thought of Rene Descartes, whose work he read avidly. Eventually became one of the main drivers of occasionalism, a doctrine created by the followers of the French philosopher. Malebranche revitalized the doctrine by including ideas based on Augustinianism.

According to this philosophy, the body and the mind are separate entities, which are connected by the intervention of God, also, for these the cause-effect relationship is determined by divine intervention, turning the cause into an occasion for God to act. His most outstanding works are The search for truth (1674-1675) and Christian and metaphysical meditations (1683).

Early years

Son of Nicolás Malebranche and Catherine de Lauzon. His father was a prominent public official. Malebranche was the last of the couple’s twelve children. During the first years of training, he received a deep religious education from his mother, which influenced his personality, reflective and collected. At that time, he studied at the school of La Marche and years later he entered La Sorbonne, where he studied theology and philosophy between 1656 and 1659.

Subsequently became interested in the religious vocation, thus joining the congregation of the Oratory as a novice, decision it is believed that was influenced by his character and the loss of his parents in the early 1600s. During the novitiate, Malebranche, concentrated on meditation and spiritual development. After a few years of taciturn life he was ordained a priest in September 1664.

After being ordained, he devoted himself to the study of various topics. Practice that was in tune with the principles of the Oratorium, a center in which the religious, in addition to focusing on their religious work, carried out various investigations related to cultural and historical issues. The first studies of Malebranche, were on the history of the oriental languages ​​and the history of the fathers of the Church (patristic).

For this same period, he became interested in the life and work of St. Augustine, a religious on which he wrote various works. Also, he studied and interpreted the sacred texts, however, these subjects did not seem to be passionate. On the contrary, it happened with the work of René Descartes. When he read the Treaty of Man he became interested in all the work of the French philosopher, which he studied in detail, deeply analyzing each work. At that time, he studied mathematics, physics, and physiology. Based on this new knowledge, he analyzed the Cartesian and Augustinian works.

 Work by Nicolás Malebranche

The first book of the philosopher was The search for truth (1674), a work in which Malebranche delves into the spirit, his relationship with the body and God, emphasizing the importance of the relationship between the spirit and God. In this criticism of pagan and Christian philosophers, for not delving into these relationships, he also proposes as a task of philosophers to highlight the connection between God and the spirit, an idea that is linked to the occasional doctrine; a short time later he published the other two volumes of the book.

Two years later, he published Conversations chrétiennes, (1676), followed by the Treaty on Nature and Grace (1680), a treaty he wrote after discussions he had with Father Arnauld. This work delved into topics such as creation, incarnation, divine grace, and human freedom. After its publication, it was harshly criticized since it had tried to solve insoluble problems of religion by harmonizing various concepts so that the divine plan and God’s handling of all things were understood. Given the theme that he dealt with, it was quickly included in the Index. In the following years, he published the Treaty of moral and Christian and metaphysical Meditations (1683) and Entretiens sur la métaphisique (1688).

At the end of the 1690s, he wrote and published Entretiens sur la mort (1696), a book that revolved around conversations and ideas about the death of three men, one thinks that life is too short, another that it is too long and the last more spiritual and conscious about the experiences he has had raises that death only expands our minds. This work is based on the near-death experience the philosopher lived when he became seriously ill. A year later he published the Treatise on the Love of God (1697), as the name implies, this treatise speaks about the love of God, emphasizing how man is drawn to love him and how this produces happiness.

Two years later, he was appointed honorary member of the French Academy of Science, for his contributions in the field of mathematics. His last work was Conversation of a Christian philosopher and a Chinese philosopher (1708), a book in which he deals with themes such as the existence of God and the nature of it, seen from two perspectives. The work of this philosopher was criticized by various writers and religious of the time such as Father Arnauld, Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, and François Fénelon, among others. The renowned philosopher and religious died on October 13, 1715, in Paris.

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James Mill

James Mill Biography
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James Mill Biography

James Mill (April 6, 1773 – June 23, 1836) was born on Northwater Bridge, Scotland. Philosopher, a historian, and British economist considered one of the most relevant figures of the 19th century. Mill was a brilliant and influential scholar. His thinking and the ideas he promoted changed the way in which political theories on human rights and equality were understood, throughout his career, he rejected the actions of the East India Company in the colony. He was one of the main drivers of utilitarianism, a philosophical theory created by Jeremy Bentham, an economist with whom he worked for several years.

Throughout his career, he wrote for the Anti-Jacobin Review, the British Review, the Eclectic Review, and the Edinburgh Review. Among his most outstanding works are Principles of political economy (1822) and Analysis of the phenomena of the human spirit (1829). Mill was the father of the renowned philosopher and utilitarian economist John Stuart Mill.


Mill studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he stood out for his intelligence, becoming one of the institution’s outstanding students. In 1798 he graduated as a Presbyterian preacher, a profession he practiced on an itinerant basis. At the same time, he started teaching. While teaching, he became interested in historical and philosophical studies, areas in which he deepened the rest of his life.


Towards the beginning of the 19th century, he moved to London, where he served as a journalist. At that time, he published a booklet in which he talked about the corn trade, criticizing the reward given for the export of grain. In 1803, he was in charge of the London Literary Journal and two years later he was director of the St James ’Chronicle. The following year, he began to write History of British India (1817), a work in which he delved into the history of India based on the information collected in recent years by English-speaking writers, it consisted of three volumes divided into six books.

In the first book, he deals with the first interactions between Great Britain and India, the second book talks about religion, literature, and culture of ancient India. The third book, talks about the Islamic conquest and the government and the last three deal with the expansion and consolidation of the British government in India, emphasizing the operation of the East India Company, a company that criticized extensively.

In 1808, he came into contact with the economist and philosopher Jeremy Bentham, with whom he shared interests and ideas, becoming allies and fellow students. In the following years Mill adopted the principles of utilitarianism, which he helped spread. Between 1806 and 1818 he collaborated in several publications such as the British Review, the Anti-Jacobin Review, the Edinburgh Review, and the Eclectic Review. He was also editor and writer of the Philanthropist newspaper with William Allen, a publication in which he contributed articles on education, laws, and freedom of the press.

For this same period, he wrote articles on politics, education, and law for the Encyclopædia Britannica, which were published in the appendix of the fifth edition of 1814, among which were highlighted Prisons, Jurisprudence, and Government, articles that were reprinted on several occasions and influenced deeply in the political environment of the time, which was reflected in Parliament’s reform project in 1832.

After harshly criticizing the East India Company in his book History of British India (1817), he was appointed official at the House of India in 1819, a position he served for several years; over time it was climbing positions, becoming head of the examiner’s office in 1830. During these years he promoted various reforms that changed the way the colony was governed. At the beginning of the 1820s, he published Principles of Political Economy (1822), a book in which he presented his theory of the salary fund, which is directly related to supplying and demand. This was further developed by his son, John Stuart Mill. In this work, the influence of economist David Ricardo’s thinking can be seen.

In the following years, he participated in the discussions that led to the foundation of the University of London in 1825. Four years later, he published Analysis of the phenomena of the human spirit (1829), a work in which he applied the utilitarian premises to psychology, proposing a theory of the human mind based on the foundations of associationism.

In the last years of his career, he published Essay on the Ballot and Fragment on Mackintosh (1830) and Whether Political Economy is Useful (1836). Mill’s work profoundly influenced the country’s politics, especially in the reform of Parliament, as well as in the change in the way the colony was governed.

It is necessary to highlight that his work History of British India (1817), written without him visiting the country, created an unfavorable image of India, which was seen by readers as an extremely backward and underdeveloped country. The renowned British scholar and economist died on June 23, 1836, in Kensington, London.

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Ernst Cassirer

Ernst Cassirer Biography
Contemporary photograph [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Ernst Cassirer Biography

Ernst Cassirer (July 28, 1874 – April 13, 1945) was born in Wrocław, Poland. Philosopher considered one of the most prominent figures of the neo-Kantian current. Throughout his career he studied the works of Descartes and Kant, focusing on the latter. His studies addressed anthropological and historical themes, through which he sought to consolidate a philosophy of culture. He was a specialist in the history of thought and in the study of the Enlightenment, period over which he conducted various investigations.

After training in Berlin, Leipzig, Heidelberg, and Marburg, he began working as a professor at the University of Berlin, later taught at the universities of Hamburg, Oxford, Gothenburg, Yale, and Columbia. Due to the political context of the first part of the 20th century, Cassirer went into exile in Sweden and the United States. Among his most outstanding works are Philosophy of symbolic forms (1923-19) and philosophical Anthropology (1945).

He was born into a wealthy family of Jewish origin, his father was a renowned merchant who gave him the best education. He studied in Berlin, Leipzig, Heidelberg, and Marburg, during his stay in the latter he met Hermann Cohen, a German philosopher of Jewish origin who at that time was studying the work of Kant, is considered one of the founders of the Marburg School, in which scholars like Paul Natorp, Karl Vorländer, and Cassirer stood out. While doing his studies, Cohen became his teacher, which profoundly influenced Cassirer’s philosophical thinking, which since then was part of the Marburg School.

As a member of this school he studied and commented on Kant’s work. At the end of the 1890s, he presented his doctoral thesis entitled, The criticism of Descartes to mathematical and scientific knowledge (1899). Three years later he married Toni Bondy, with whom he had three children: Heinz, Georg, and Anne. After marrying, he lived for a short time in Munich, the city in which he published his first book, The Leibniz System (1902). The following year he moved to Berlin, where he began to practice as a teacher.

Professional career

Four years after settling in Berlin he was named Privatdozent at the University of Berlin. While carrying out his duties as an independent professor, he continued working on his academic production, editing and researching the work of Kant and Leibniz, at the same time he began to write his work The problem of knowledge in philosophy and modern science (1906 -1957), this consisted of four volumes in which Cassirer, analyzed the development of the theory of knowledge, beginning with the thinker Nicolás de Cusa, followed deeply on the humanists and skeptics such as Michel de Montaigne and Francisco Sánchez. Then he studied the work of physicists and mathematicians such as Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler, he continued this study analyzing the thinking of Giordano Bruno and Tommaso Campanella, as well as the work of Kant. The book ended with the analysis of the work of Hegel and the current thinkers.

In 1910, he published Substance and Function, a book in which Cassirer, developed his theory of knowledge. Years later, he published i, in which he presented the humanistic ideals of German culture. The following year, he released: Kant: life and doctrine (1918), biography of Kant in which Cassirer, delved into the circumstances and aspects that shaped Kant’s thinking, a short time later he began to write the third volume of The problem of knowledge in philosophy and modern science, in which he analyzed the works of Kant and other thinkers until he reached Hegel.

During his stay in Berlin, Cassirer focused on the study of the field of scientific epistemology, analyzing the works of important thinkers focusing on how they delved into the problem of knowledge. In 1919, he moved to Hamburg, where he served as professor of the Philosophy chair at the University of Hamburg; as an outstanding professor, he became the rector of this in 1929; the famous debates between Heidegger and Cassirer, in Davos, Switzerland. In these, the two of them presented their ideas on the philosophical questions and the thought of Kant.

After settling in Hamburg, he visited the Warburg Institute, an event that marked his academic career, when he came into contact with this institute and its extensive library, he began to devise his Philosophy of symbolic forms, a work he began writing shortly thereafter. At the beginning of the 1920s, he published Idea and form (1921) and the first volume of Philosophy of symbolic forms (1923-1929), which focused on language analysis, followed by publishing the second volume in which he delved into mythical thinking and the third volume. This was published in 1929 and was dedicated to the study of the phenomenology of knowledge.

In this same period, he wrote Language and myth (1925) and Individual and cosmos in the philosophy of the Renaissance (1927); Five years later he published The Platonic Revival in England (1932) and Goethe and the Historical World (1932), a short time later The Philosophy of Enlightenment (1933) came out. That same year he decided to go into exile, due to the tension and danger brought by the rise of Nazism and the rise to power of Hitler. He first traveled to the United States where he held a position as a visiting professor at Oxford.

Two years later he moved to Göteborg, where he remained until 1941. In those years he wrote Determinism and Indeterminism in Modern Physics (1937) and the Sciences of Culture (1940), he also began to write the fourth volume of The Problem of Knowledge in Philosophy and in Modern Science, the which begins in Hegel and ends with the current figures. In 1941, he settled in the United States and began working at Yale University, an institution where he remained until 1944, the year in which he was hired by Columbia University in New York, during his stay in this published Philosophical Anthropology (1945 ), that same year he died suddenly due to a heart attack, on April 13, 1945.

Posthumously, part of his work was published as The Myth of the State (1946); some of his manuscripts and articles are kept in the Yale Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

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Charles Sanders Peirce

Charles Sanders Peirce Biography
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Charles Sanders Peirce Biography

Charles Sanders Peirce (September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Philosopher, logician, and scientist, considered the father of semiotics and founder of pragmatism.

Peirce was one of the most prominent scientists and philosophers of the 19th century, he collaborated extensively in the development of the philosophical movement that he named. Throughout his academic career, he taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Bryn Mawr. By the end of the 1880s, he retired to Milford, where he continued to publish various articles in academic journals. In the last years of his life, Peirce faced serious problems associated with his health and money.

He was born into a prominent family that had great influence in the intellectual and political sphere of Boston, which is why his home was frequently visited by famous figures of the time. His father was the renowned astronomer and mathematician Benjamin Peirce, who served as a professor at Harvard University for several years. Thanks to this, he received a careful scientific training, focused on the exact and natural sciences, at that time he studied mathematics, physics, and astronomy, later he began to study chemistry with his father, an area in which he excelled in a short time. Towards the middle of the 1850s, he studied Chemistry at Harvard University, from which he graduated in 1863.


After graduating he taught philosophy for two years at Harvard University, followed by joining the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey as a research assistant, a position he held for about three decades. While carrying out his duties at the institution, he carried out various investigations related to astronomy, focusing on the intensity of starlight and pendular measurements of gravity, being the first scientist to use the wavelength of light as a unit of measure. For that same period of time, he made several trips around Europe, the continent in which he gained fame, becoming one of the most prominent scientists of his time. However, his talent and intelligence were overshadowed by his temper and the various conflicts in which he was involved.

Towards the end of the 1860s, he returned to Harvard as an assistant to the observatory, where he served between 1869 and 1875. Shortly after starting his work at the observatory he conducted a series of experiments with the pendulum which were aimed at specifying the density and shape of the planet. That year, he began his studies on the wavelength of light with the famous astronomer Lewis Morris Rutherfurd. One year after the end of his activity at the observatory he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In the course of the following years he published numerous articles on physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, and astronomy, among these are: photometric (1878) and How to make our ideas clear, article that was published in Popular Science Monthly of 1878, subsequently was translated into French and published in Revue philosophique of 1879.

Between 1879 and 1884 he taught Logic at Johns Hopkins University and conducted various courses at Bryn Mawr College. During this period, he continued his academic activity actively collaborating in various academic publications and later published Studies of Logic (1883), one of his most outstanding works. In 1884, he was fired from Johns Hopkins since in the past he had been involved in various conflicts. These experiences prevented him from getting a permanent position in other educational institutions, situation worsened when his activity in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, began to decrease to the point where he did not receive any compensation for this, which is why he decided to retire to Milford with his second wife Juliette, a native of France and 20 years younger than him. It is worth mentioning that this marriage caused a stir, as it was made shortly after his divorce with Harriet Melusina Fay in 1876.

By the end of the 1880s, he was a member of the drafting committee of the Century Dictionary, an activity he carried out between 1889 and 1891, for this same period he published The Architecture of Theories (1890). Between 1901 and 1905 he worked on the drafting committee of the Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, where he published several articles on phonetics, bibliography, cartography, physics, and psychology, among other areas. In the course of these years, he began to write several articles related to pragmatism which were published in the early years of the twentieth century, such as: What is pragmatism (1905) and the birth of pragmatism (1905), books that were the basis of the philosophical movement founded by the author with John Dewey and William James, who argued that scientific and philosophical knowledge can only be considered true if it has practical value.

In the last years of life, the author faced various economic problems, derived from the mismanagement of his income, which worsened due to the cancer he suffered at that time. He spent much of these years alone in poverty, yet he continued writing and researching. After several years of suffering, Charles Sanders Peirce died on April 19, 1914, in Milford.

Most of his writings remained unpublished until in the 1930s Harvard University published a compilation of all his manuscripts, entitled Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce.

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