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Symposia. The Reception of Peirce in the World

Reception of Peirce in Poland

Agnieszka Hensoldt

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1The first mention of Charles Sanders Peirce we find in Polish philosophical literature is in the third volume of Historia filozofii (History of Philosophy) by Władysław Tatarkiewicz, edited for the first time in 1931 in Lwów. Władysław Tatarkiewicz was a Polish philosopher and historian of philosophy and his History of Philosophy has been until now the most popular history of philosophy textbook in Poland. However, in Tatarkiewicz’s History of Philosophy, there is no chapter devoted to Peirce. Peirce is mentioned in a chapter called “Pragmatism” which talks mainly about William James. Peirce is shortly introduced as James’ predecessor and friend and his philosophical views as contrasting to James’s. Summing up, Tatarkiewicz’s History of Philosophy is not a book in which you can learn much about Peirce’s doctrine, with the exception of a few hints at his life and place in the history of ideas.

2The real introduction of Peirce to Polish readers of philosophical literature occurred in 1960s thanks to Hanna Buczyńska (later Hanna Buczyńska-Garewicz) and Marian Dobrosielski. Dobrosielski is the author of three articles on Peirce published in the early 1960s in the Polish journal “Studia filozoficzne.”

3A small book titled Peirce was published in 1965 in the series “Myśli i ludzie” (“Ideas and Men”) devoted to famous philosophers. The book consists of two parts. The first one is an introduction to Peirce written by Hanna Buczyńska. Peirce’s pragmatism is presented by Buczyńska as the genuine American philosophy and is put in relation to the European philosophy of the 18th and 19th century. As for Peirce’s views, Buczyńska is concerned with empiricism, the maxim of pragmatism, and categories. The second part of the book consists in a translation of three of Peirce’s papers into Polish by Zbigniew Dyjas: The Fixation of Belief, How to Make Our Ideas Clear, The Doctrine of Chances. This is the first translation of Peirce’s papers into Polish.

4Two years later, in 1967, Dobrosielski published another book on Peirce. The book was titled Filozoficzny pragmatyzm C. S. Peirce’a (C. S. Peirce’s Philosophical Pragmatism). The book is a much longer and more detailed introduction to Peirce’s philosophy than Buczyńska’s. Besides analyzing the historical context of Peirce’s philosophy, Dobrosielski pays attention to Peirce’s theory of cognition, semiotics and theory of meaning. Dobrosielski’s book is the first work from which Polish readers could get acquainted with Peirce’s semeiotic ideas, the triadic conception of the sign and Peirce’s typology of signs.

5In 1970s and 1980s the only scholar writing on Peirce in Polish was Buczyńska-Garewicz. She published four articles on Peirce’s semiotics in “Studia filozoficzne.” She was also the author of some reviews of works on Peirce written in English, which is an important achievement, given that at that time the reviews by Buczyńska-Garewicz were for Polish scholars nearly the only source of information on what was going on in the international community of Peirce scholars.

6Buczyńska-Garewicz’s research on Peirce’s semiotics finds its culmination in her elaborate and detailed book titled Semiotyka Peirce’a (Peirce’s Semiotics) dealing with all aspects of Peirce’s semiotics including its historical development, the typology of signs, and semiosis. The book was published in 1994 in the series “Biblioteka Myśli Semiotycznej” (“The Library of Semiotic Thought”), in which three years later the translation of Peirce’s works titled just C. S. Peirce. Wybór pism (Selected Papers) was also published. This second selection of translated papers is more extensive than the first one. It is based on The Collected Papers of C. S. Peirce, mainly on Peirce’s works published in volume I, V, and VIII. The most part of translated papers is devoted to the theory of signs and Peirce’s views on the problem of categories.

7The next book which focuses on Peirce’s semiotics was issued in 1996. This is Znak i jego ciągłość: semiotyka C. S. Peirce’a między percepcją i recepcją (Sign and Its Continuity in C. S. Peirce’s System of Philosophy. Semiotics Between Perception and Reception) by Tomasz Komendziński. The three volumes issued in 1990s started a real interest in Peirce’s thought in Poland, which is visible particularly after the turn of the century. The foundation of the series “Biblioteka Myśli Semiotycznej” played also an important role in the revival of Peircean research in Poland.

8Two translations were issued also in the first decade of the 21st century. In 2005 Zaniedbany Argument i inne pisma z lat 1907-1913 (Neglected Argument and Other Papers from 1907-1913) appeared with an introduction by Stanisław Wszołek. This translation was based on The Essential Peirce. Selected Philosophical Writings, Volume 2 (1893-1913). The main aim of this selection is to show the latest Peirce’s attempts of interpretation and justification for the maxim of pragmatism. The second selection of Peirce’s translated papers was Charles Sanders Peirce o nieskończonej wspólnocie badaczy (Charles Sanders Peirce on Unlimited Community of Inquirers) with translation and introduction by Agnieszka Hensoldt, issued in 2009. The core part of this selection are Peirce’s articles usually referred to as the JSP Cognition Series from the years 1868 and 1869. Besides them the volume consists of Peirce’s late (after 1900) works focused on the conception of community of inquirers.

9As for monographs, in 2006 Tomasz Michaluk published Sem(e)iotyka Charlesa S. Peirce’a jako zwinięcie systemu filozoficznego (Charles S. Peirce’s Sem(e)iotics as Enfolding of the Philosophical System). Michaluk’s book is divided into three parts in which the author studies in sequence: Peirce’s semeiotics, Peirce’s realism, and finally the formalization of semeiotics by Max Bense. In 2007 Agnieszka Hensoldt published Idee Peirce’owskiego pragmatyzmu i ich renesans w XX-wiecznej filozofii języka (Concepts of C. S. Peirce’s Pragmatism and their Revival in the 20th Century Philosophy of Language). The main thesis of the book is that Peirce’s pragmatist views on the nature and role of language are present in all 20th century philosophical theories of language. The author argues that Peirce’s linguistic ideas reappears in works of such various thinkers as: J. L. Austin, J. R. Searle, K. O. Appel, J. Habermas, L. Wittgenstein, J. Hintikka, P. Winch, and H. Putnam, and that the concepts of Peirce’s pragmatic theory of language have proven useful in solving problems, ranging from the formulation of universal ethical maxims, to the problem of the foundations of mathematics and knowledge, and the issue of the methodology of the social sciences. In 2011 Piotr Janik published Koncepcja przekonania w ujęciu semiotyczno-pragmatycznym: Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914) (The Semiotic and Pragmatic Account of the Conception of Belief: Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914)). The main subject of Janik’s book is Peirce’s conception of belief which is examined from the point of view of (1) the theory of signs, (2) the concept of fact as the result scientific discovery, (3) the classification of the methods of fixation of the belief. Janik argues that Peirce’s conception of belief plays an important role in contemporary logic, semiotics, and philosophy of science.

10Another important publication is Mateusz Oleksy’s excellent post-doctoral dissertation: Realism and Individualism. Charles S. Peirce and the Threat of Modern Nominalism (2008). Oleksy’s book provides readers with a detailed analysis of Peirce’s evolving realistic stance or stances, as Oleksy argues, introducing the distinction between “scholastic realism” and “pragmatic realism.” One of the main theses of his book is that “pragmatic realism” is incompatible with “scholastic realism” as a whole, and that it replaces the latter in Peirce’s mature thought.

11The interest in Peirce’s thought among Polish scholars has been increasing in the last fifteen years. Every year at least one article on Peirce’s doctrine is published in Polish philosophical journals. Polish scholars write on Peirce also in English and publish their papers in international journals. While originally it was only Peirce’s semiotics that attracted the attention of Polish scholars, lately also Peirce’s pragmatism has started to be considered as a rich source of philosophical insights.

12Last but not least, in June 2007 an international conference on Peirce’s Normative Thought was held in Opole, the first one in Poland devoted exclusively to Peirce.

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Buczyńska H., (1965), Peirce, Warszawa, Wiedza Powszechna.

Buczyńska H., (1994), Semiotyka Peirce’a, Warszawa, Znak – Język – Rzeczywistość, Polskie Towarzystwo Semiotyczne.

Dobrosielski M., (1967), Filozoficzny pragmatyzm C. S. Peirce’a, Warszawa, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

Hensoldt A., (2007), Idee Peirce’owskiego pragmatyzmu i ich renesans w XX-wiecznej filozofii języka, Opole, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Opolskiego.

Janik P., (2011), Koncepcja przekonania w ujęciu semiotyczno-pragmatycznym: Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914), Kraków, Wydawnictwo WAM.

Komendziński T., (1996), Znak i jego ciągłość: semiotyka C. S. Peirce’a między percepcją i recepcją, Toruń, Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika.

Michaluk T., (2006), Sem(e)iotyka Charlesa S. Peirce’a jako zwinięcie systemu filozoficznego: próba oceny formalizacji semeiotyki dokonanej przez Maxa Bense’go, Wrocław, Wydawnictwo DTSK Silesia.

Oleksy M., (2008), Realism and individualism: Charles S. Peirce and the threat of modern nominalism, Łódź, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego.

Peirce C. S., (1997), Wybór pism semiotycznych, ed. H. Buczyńska-Garewicz, Warszawa, Znak – Język – Rzeczywistość, Polskie Towarzystwo Semiotyczne.

Peirce C. S., (2005), Zaniedbany Argument i inne pisma z lat 1907-1913, tr. S. Wszołek, Kraków, Wydawnictwo Naukowe Papieskiej Akademii Teologicznej.

Peirce C. S., (2009), Charles Sanders Peirce o nieskończonej wspólnocie badaczy, tr. A. Hensoldt, Opole, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Opolskiego.

Tatarkiewicz W., (1931), Historia filozofii, Lwów, Ossolineum.

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Electronic reference

Agnieszka Hensoldt, « Reception of Peirce in Poland », European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy [Online], VI-1 | 2014, Online since 08 July 2014, connection on 23 September 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/ejpap.486

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About the author

Agnieszka Hensoldt

University of Opole, Poland

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Licence Creative Commons
Author retains copyright and grants the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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