Charles S. Peirce from Illustrations of the Logic of Science:

. . . we may define the real as that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be. . . . The only effect that real things have is to cause belief, for all the sensations that they excite emerge into consciousness in the form of beliefs. . . . Our beliefs guide our desires and shape our actions. . . . The feeling of believing is a more or less sure indication of their being established in our nature some habit that will determine our actions. . . . thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought. . . .

Thought is a thread of melody running through the succession of our sensations. . . . And what, then, is belief? It is the demicadence that closes a musical phrase in the symphony of our intellectual life. We have seen that it has just three properties:

First, it is something that we are aware of;

second, it appeases the irritation of doubt; and,

third, it involves the establishment in our nature of a rule of action, or, say for short, a habit.

As it appeases the irritation of doubt, which is the motive for thinking, thought relaxes, and comes to rest for a moment when belief is reached. But, since belief is a rule for action, the application of which involves further doubt and further thought, at the same time that it is a stopping place, it is also a new starting place for thought.

Aesthetics Philosophy Science Fiction None of the Above Home Page