Open Court – 2

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

Open Court Publishing Company published affordable copies of the classics of philosophy, along with original scholarly books in philosophy, science and religion.  Some of which were vague presentations of newfangled ideas.  One of the newfangled ideas was Pragmatism, which reconciled logic as a system of symbols.  In other words, logic was not a rational system of correct reasoning based on cause and effect.  Rather it was symbolic, that is, correct reasoning is inferred from signs or symbols.  Which means that, like a disease in the human body, logic can only be diagnosed by means of symptoms.  Thus, understanding the symbols of logic is not intuitive, but very businesslike – the systematic recognition of known facts.

Pragmatism was the offspring of Charles Sanders Pierce.

And if you recall, I discussed Charles Sanders Pierce’s rather dismal life when I wrote about Margery Williams and the Velveteen Rabbit.  Pierce was a prime example of someone who is Unreal, someone who lives according to the logical and practical, someone who is, in a word, boring – beyond belief.  Carus was intrigued by Pierce’s scientific philosophy and published a number of Pierce’s articles.   

The articles appeared in his publishing company’s two magazines, The Open Court and The Monist.  Carus was the chief editor of both. 

Carus was not, though, a nutcase.  He was a true liberal in the full, energetic etymology of the word.  Fascinated by anything new and unparalleled, anything not chained by blind conviction, he carried on voluminous correspondence with some of the finest intellects of his day:  John Dewey, Ernst Haeckel, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Edison, Ernst Mach, Elizabeth Stanton, Nichola Tesla, and Booker T. Washington.

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Open Court

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy

There’s a dark green bench near the tombstone, one of the old ones with the wooden slats and iron legs, like the ones city governments placed at bus stops.  It’s as if he’s inviting you stay for a while.  Sit, relax and let us converse. 

His name is on the back of the bench, along with his birth date and his death date.  Of course that got me to thinking that maybe the bench isn’t for sitting and relaxing.  Maybe it’s part of the tombstone, kind of a double display effect:  the actual stone tombstone and the bench forming two sides, like bookends for the dead.

The actual tombstone has his name and dates too.  Two feet wide by eight inches high, it’s a three-layered affair, like a cake, but each layer is smaller than the one beneath it.  The bottom layer is just cement, with the next two higher layers being black granite, which, as usual, isn’t really black.  More of a dark gray.

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