In the first part of this study C. S. Peirce´s epistemology is analysed in relation to the philosophy of René Descartes. In Peirce´s view Cartesian scepticism results in mere self-deception as we are not able to start our quest for knowledge with complete doubt. Indeed we cannot avoid beginning our epistemological procedures in the company of all our prejudices. Peirce´s conception of the doubt-belief theory of inquiry is also analysed. Doubt is an uneasy state of dissatisfaction from which we struggle to free ourselves so as to pass into the state of belief. According to Peirce belief does not make us act at once, but puts us into the kind of condition that means we shall behave in a certain way. In the second part of this study, the author reflects, from an ontological point of view, on Peirce´s panpsychistic conceptions which are combined with synechism. Synechism means the tendency to regard everything as continuous. In this connection, according to Peirce, the most fundamental moving principle of the evolutionary process is not struggle and competition but the principle of chance (tychism), based on nurturing love. In Peirce´s view tychism gives birth to an evolutionary cosmology in which all the regularities of nature and of mind are regarded as products of growth. As far as Peirce´s socioeconomic ideas are concerned, he argues against the popular social Darwinism, which advocated egoism in an ever-expanding sway of rugged capitalism. At the end of the article Peirce´s conception of the historical, psychological and ethical significance of Christianity is analysed. We pay attention to Peirce´s opinion that St. John’s gospel states an evolutionary philosophy which teaches that growth comes only from love. In opposition to rugged individualism and social Darwinism, Peirce rejects the notion of human selfishness and greed as the moving principle of social progress. In this historical context his sociopolitical views precede the social liberalism and communitarianism of John Dewey.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.