His Glassy Essence: An Autobiography of Charles Sanders Peirce

Front Cover
Vanderbilt University Press, 1998 - Philosophy - 416 pages
Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), the most important and influential of the classical American philosophers, is credited as the inventor of the philosophical school of pragmatism. The scope and significance of his work have had a lasting effect not only in several fields of philosophy but also in mathematics, the history and philosophy of science, and the theory of signs, as well as in literary and cultural studies. Inspired by his friendship and correspondence with the novelist Walker Percy, who himself was absorbed by the life and writings of Peirce, Ketner adopts a narrative strategy that lets Peirce tell his own early life story. He weaves the voluminous components of an intellectual biography that are scattered throughout Peirce's published and unpublished writings into a novelistic account that reads like a mystery. Ketner offers satisfying explanations and convincing hypotheses for a number of intimate and controversial aspects of Peirce's eventful yet frustrated life, including his inability to find a permanent teaching position at any university, the ancestry of Peirce's wife Juliette and the source of his family's hostility toward her, and the previously unknown fact that Peirce actually had three wives instead of two.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

HIS GLASSY ESSENCE: An Autobiography of Charles Sanders Peirce

User Review  - Kirkus

Framed as an "autobiography" full of deliberate fictional creations, this life of Pragmatism's founding genius is a breathtakingly original attempt to reinvent the dry habitudes of biography ... Read full review

His glassy essence: an autobiography of Charles Sanders Peirce

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The word autobiography in the subtitle should be in quotes, because this is an autobiography only in the sense that Ketner (philosophy, Texas Tech Univ.) uses as his primary source Peirce's own words ... Read full review


A Mystery from Boston Unfolds
For Signs and for Seasons

6 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1998)

Kenneth Laine Ketner is the Charles Sanders Peirce Professor of Philosophy at Texas Tech University and the director of its Institute for Studies in Pragmaticism. He is editor of several works by and about Peirce and was co-organizer of the Charles S. Peirce International Congress held at Harvard in 1989. He is also one of the two principals in a noteworthy volume of correspondence with Walker Percy (A Thief of Peirce: The Letters of Kenneth Laine Ketner and Walker Percy, published in 1995).

Bibliographic information