Charles Sanders (C.S.) Peirce - Philosophy and Learning
Charles Sanders (C.S.) Peirce (1839-1914)
American philosopher (pictured right) and founder of pragmatism, the belief that something is
good if it’s useful (see point 1).
He died in poverty, largely forgotten except by his close friend, William James (pictured right below), who also
What did he say about learning?
1. Be pragmatic
Knowledge, beliefs and ideas must be useful and
So, knowledge must be used to:
2. Your knowledge won’t always be true
Learning aims to find better solutions and explanations of what happens in the world around us.
Knowledge is always improving with new and better ideas, replacing obsolete ones.
So enquiry is vital i.e. constantly:
- questioning your beliefs and ideas
- evaluating them through observation, experience and
3. Learning by doing
The best way to learn something is to do it.
4. Learn from your mistakes
When you make a mistake:
- make sure it doesn’t happen again.
5. You learn because you want to
You are motivated to want to know about something, because it may:
- satisfy your curiosity about its truth.
Key quote on learning and
There is one thing even more vital to science than intelligent methods; and that is the sincere desire to find
out the truth, whatever it may be.