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Benjamin Meyer-Krahmer

E-Mail: mail [at] benjaminmeyer-krahmer.de


Ph.D. Project

"The Graphic Practice of Charles S. Peirce"



The following statement taken from a renowned handbook can be read as one way to phrase a general agreement: "It is a very intimate relation between writing and philosophy. [...] Philosophical reasoning is deeply connected to its [sic] written medium. Every philsophical text appears as an epiphany of philosphy itself." The claimed "intimate" relation is obviously based on the assupmption that language is the medium of reasoning, and that a text is the corresponding written expression of this mental process. On the other hand, there is a lot of material documenting reasoning processes containing all sorts of non-linguistic notations, which makes it obvious that the "philosophical text" is not necessarily the place where the actual reasoning happens. This is the reason why I would like to investigate the assumption of the primacy of the linguistic dimension of reasoning. I propose to do this with a study of the manuscripts of the philosopher Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914). This outstanding scholar produced an œuvre of nearly 100,000 manuscript pages, which contain an impressive proportion of graphics. These graphics vary widely, from neatly written text to seemingly abstract drawings, from figurative drawings to logical graphs, from computation sheets to comparitive synopses of alphabets, and from chirography to caricatures and doodles. In my project I refer to the action of producing these diverse inscriptions—by using pen and ink on paper—with the term "graphic practice." Graphic practice, as I will argue, is crucial for Peirce's reasoning and writing in three respects: first, as a method of knowledge production; second, as an explicit and implicit topic of his writings; and third, as a method of moving from mental reasoning to writing. The goal of my project is to develop an understanding of the interdependence of these three aspects in Peirce's papers and as a more abstract model of reasoning.


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