Volume 38, Issue 3, 2011/2012
Intellectual Passions, Heuristic Virtues, and Shared Practices
Charles Peirce and Michael Polanyi on Experimental Inquiry
The central preoccupation of Peirce and Polanyi was to undertake (in the words of the former) an inquiry into inquiry, one in which the defining features of our heuristic practices stood out in bold relief. But both thinkers were also concerned to bring into sharp focus the deep affinities between our theoretical pursuits and other shared practices. They were in effect sketching a portrait of the responsible inquirer and, by implication, that of the responsible agent more generally. This essay is, in structure, a series of études for how we might reconstruct that portrait, since there is no extended treatment in the writings of either author of these central figures (the agent and, in particular, the responsible inquirer). It is accordingly a preliminary study, though in some particulars a detailed one. Its ultimate aim is to join—and thereby to invite others to join—Peirce and Polanyi as inquirers into the very nature of inquiry itself.