The Fixation of Belief ... the locus of the control of the self (not self control, these are two different things)

In 1877 and 1878 in the Popular Science Monthly (a different periodical now than it was in the late 19th century) C. S. Peirce published a series of 6 articles collectively known as “Illustrations of the Logic of Science”. In the recent Quarterly roundup the question was again raised as to what one might do in order to “protect” against the Epistemological onslaught of “our most recent unpleasantness”. In Peirce’s series there are two pieces, “The Fixation of Belief” (November 1877) and “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” (January 1878), that I recommend might offer suggestions that might prove to be of some assistance to us in practicing “safe thought” (prevention after all is / are “safe practices” - think prophylactics on cucumbers - if you are old enough to recall a previous Faucigele connected pandemic).

In The Fixation of Belief when discussing “The Method of Authority” Peirce certainly describes the conditions under which we find ourselves in the midst of “our most recent unpleasantness”.

"… so that the problem becomes how to fix belief, not in the individual merely, but in the community.

Let an institution be created which shall have for its object to keep correct doctrines before the attention of the people, to reiterate them perpetually, and to teach them to the young; having at the same time power to prevent contrary doctrines from being taught, advocated, or expressed. Let all possible causes of a change of mind be removed from men’s apprehensions. Let them be kept ignorant, lest they should learn of some reason to think otherwise than they do. Let their passions be enlisted, so that they may regard private and unusual opinions with hatred and horror. Then, let all men who reject the established belief be terrified into silence. Let the people turn out and tar-and-feather such men, or let inquisitions be made into the manner of thinking of suspected persons, and, when they are found guilty of forbidden beliefs, let them be subjected to some signal punishment. When complete agreement could not otherwise be reached, a general massacre of all who have not thought in a certain way has proved a very effective means of settling opinion in a country. If the power to do this be wanting, let a list of opinions be drawn up, to which no man of the least independence of thought can assent, and let the faithful be required to accept all these propositions, in order to segregate them as radically as possible from the influence of the rest of the world.

This method has, from the earliest times, been one of the chief means of upholding correct theological and political doctrines, and of preserving their universal or catholic character. In Rome, especially, it has been practised from the days of Numa Pompilius to those of Pius Nonus. This is the most perfect example in history; but wherever there is a priesthood — and no religion has been without one — this method has been more or less made use of. Wherever there is an aristocracy, or a guild, or any association of a class of men whose interests depend, or are supposed to depend, on certain propositions, there will be inevitably found some traces of this natural product of social feeling. Cruelties always accompany this system; and when it is consistently carried out, they become atrocities of the most horrible kind in the eyes of any rational man. Nor should this occasion surprise, for the officer of a society does not feel justified in surrendering the interests of that society for the sake of mercy, as he might his own private interests. It is natural, therefore, that sympathy and fellowship should thus produce a most ruthless power. In judging this method of fixing belief, which may be called the method of authority, …”. - C. S. Peirce, from The Fixation of Belief, Popular Science Monthly 12 (November 1877), 1-15.


“We’re sorry you think or feel that way about the current world narrative but we can’t have you spreading a contrary view.
Off with his head!”


Well, spot on I’d say. Why try a new method when the old still works so well?
I especially appreciate the bit about drawing up a list of opinions “to which no man of the least independence of thought can assent, and let the faithful be required to accept all these propositions…”
Sadly, I am surrounded by the faithful.


Synchronicity… Just before reading this, I watched this The Big Lie - How to Enslave the World - YouTube

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Your erudite posts often make smile but this one made me bust with ironic laughter…instead of the somber reaction I should have had at the words expressing a darkness of ideology over taking us.

the locus of control of the self

Grappling with this presupposes self-awareness – a rarity and a practice in itself…

… self awareness … and more. :slight_smile:

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