According to this article copies of Frege's Begriffsschrift were both present during the early 1880s (before Peirce published his works on first-order logic) at the Johns Hopkins University, where Peirce was working as a lecturer of logic and also owned by some of his students during his time there.

Since most of the original ideas of Begriffsschrift could be easily summarized and expressed in a relatively short number of sentences and thus were easily transmissible, it seems to me likely that Peirce came into contact with these ideas, which he likely reformulated into a more conventional notation before extending them in his published works on first-order logic without mentioning Frege. The cited paper is inconclusive as to whether Peirce took anything from Frege or not.

Perhaps there is more evidence nowadays on the subject so we can give an informed estimation of the likelihood that he came into contact with Frege's ideas.

I was wondering if there is more circumstantial evidence that Peirce came into contact with these ideas before his own papers on the subject.

  • $\begingroup$ It seems that there is no evidence; see Peirce’s Deductive Logic: "In spite of the six-year interval between Frege’s Begriffsschrift (1879) and Peirce’s quantification theory in 1885, credit has been given to both logicians. We call them both the founders of modern logic, since Peirce was not aware of Frege’s work on the topic. Also, it should be noted that Frege presented a logical system equipped with axioms and rules, which was not pursued in Peirce’s work." $\endgroup$ May 30 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ @MauroALLEGRANZA certainly plato.stanford.edu promotes the view that Peirce was an independent discoverer of first-order logic. This seems to be to a great extend because later logicians seem to have accepted and perpetuated that view. As for the axioms and rules in Frege's work these could be easily discarded by pretty much anyone versed in boolean logic. $\endgroup$
    – GEP
    May 30 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ Not very clear your point of view... In the collection Charles Sanders Peirce (editor) Studies in Logic by Members of the Johns Hopkins University (1883) we have the paper of Christine Ladd, On the Algebra of Logic, where Frege's Begriffsschrift is listed in the reference but no ref in the text. So the issue is: did Peirce and "his school" were aware of Frege's work between 1879 and Peirce's “On the Algebra of Logic” (1880)? And what about “Description of a Notation for the Logic of Relatives, Resulting from an Amplification of the Conceptions of Boole’s Calculus” (1870)? $\endgroup$ May 30 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Due to the lack of evidences, the current position seems to be: the two "discoveries" were independent. $\endgroup$ May 30 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me that there may be some out-of-historical-context aspect here, too, namely, that while by this year we can see the commonalities between Frege and Peirce, in the available language and conceptual framework of the time this might have been quite hard to see. $\endgroup$ May 31 at 2:18


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