8/13/12

Charles Sanders Peirce - Our thoughts naturally show a tendency to agree with the laws of nature


In man, two broad instincts common to all animals, the instinct for 

getting food, and the instinct for reproduction, are developed into some 

degree of rational insight into nature. The instincts connected with 

getting food require that every animal should have some just ideas of 

the action of mechanical forces. In man these ideas become abstract and 

general. [�] [pg. 27-28] 

The instincts connected with reproduction require that every animal 

should have some tact and judgment as to how another animal will feel 

and act under different circumstances. These ideas likewise take more 

abstract forms in man, and enable us to make our initial hypotheses 

successfully in the psychical side of science, � in such studies, for 

example, as psychology, linguistics, ethnology, history, economics, etc. 

It is evident that unless man had some inward light tending to make his 

guesses on these subjects much more often true than they would be by 

mere chance, the human race would long ago have been extirpated for its 

utter incapacity in the struggles for existence; or if some protection 

had kept it continually multiplying, the time from the tertiary epoch to 

our own would be altogether too short to expect that the human race 

could yet have made its first happy guess in any science. The mind of 

man has been formed under the action of the laws of nature, and 

therefore it is not so very surprising to find that its constitution is 

such that, when we can get rid of caprices, idiosyncrasies, and other 

perturbations, its thoughts naturally show a tendency to agree with the 

laws of nature. [pg. 28 - 30] 

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