June 18, 2020

Analyzing Charles Sanders Peirce's unpublished experiments in triadic logic

In his MA thesis, Brent Odland delves into the American pragmatist's handwritten notes and manuscripts

On June 11, 2020 Brent Odland presented his master’s thesis research in the public seminar “Peirce's Triadic Logic: Continuity, Modality, and L.” He successfully defended on June 18, 2020 to supervisor Dr. Mark Migotti, and committee members Dr. Nicole Wyatt, Dr. Richard Zach (internal examiner) and Dr. Ann Levey (neutral chair).

In his 1909 Logic Notebook, Charles Sanders Peirce conducted experiments with many-valued post-Aristotelian logic. To Brent’s knowledge, these appear to be the first instance of such experiments: “His work on the subject predates the more well-known systems developed independently by Emil Post and Jan Lukasiewicz by about ten years.” Peirce’s experiments were not published or discussed by other authors during his lifetime, and as such “little is known about his reasons for conducting this research.” In his thesis, Brent shows how Peirce’s motivations lie within his views on modality, continuity, and his hypothetical cosmology.

Brent’s work on Peirce, with the supervision of Dr. Mark Migotti, is a continuation of his undergraduate honours thesis in the Department of Philosophy. As Brent states: “I had no idea what I wanted to write about. Peirce is good for this because he has an opinion on basically everything in philosophy, so I could keep my options open.” It was Dr. Richard Zach who directed Brent’s attention to the topic of Peirce’s triadic logic. A significant part of the project was trying to understand Peirce’s handwritten notes and manuscripts.

In Fall 2020, Brent will be moving out of province for the first time to begin his PhD at McMaster University. We will miss him here at UCalgary, and wish him all the best in these next steps.

Brent Odland MA Thesis Defence

(pictured clockwise from top left): Mark Migotti, Nicole Wyatt, Brent Odland, Richard Zach