Three of the most cogent philosophers of our era were either excluded from or had little liking for the universities. Charles Sanders Peirce was banned from Harvard by its president. Nietzsche gave up teaching to become a wandering scribe. Wittgenstein had all the access he wanted but little admiration for the institutions of higher learning.

Peirce, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein saw the spiritual decay around them as deadly.

Peirce skewered greed

Charles Sanders Peirce was critical of the 19th century American culture of greed. Wittgenstein gave up a fortune and venerated the Christianity of Tolstoy.

Nietzsche called for the revaluation of values and regarded that as his lifework.


Charles Sanders Peirce insisted that life is understood in terms of real acts and expressions. Wittgenstein saw philosophy as dealing with the ordinary life. Nietzsche went mad after admitting that the only true Christian was Jesus.

Peirce, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein were immersed in the search for truth. All three gravitated to the way Jesus honored, They had little use for the world that was emerging. All fall under the label Peirce coined to identify his version of pragmatism – pragmaticism.

Relevance now

The influence of Peirce Nietzsche and Wittgenstein is immense and grows with time. Peirce skewered nominalism and dualism and believed with the Scholastics that there were objective realities.

Peirce made triadic understanding central, creating a large number of triads such as icon, index, symbol.

Peirce’s writings emphasize the role of ethics and aesthetics in the discovery of what is reasonable and true.


Nietzsche stood out as a critic of values and an advocate of a philosophy that centered on moving the world past a slave morality to one that enabled persons to attain the highest level.

Nietzsche was early captivated by the high-flown ideas of Richard Wagner but later opposed him. Though he emerged as a thorough-going critic of institutional Christian orthodoxy, he nevertheless admired Jesus. His own ideal for the future was the protagonist of his major work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”.

Nietzsche’s writings were taken as supporting the authoritarian mentality of Hitler and he was honored as a loyal German.

He was, in fact, a stern critic of antisemitism and showed little taste for Germany and its culture. Walter Kaufmann’s writing on Nietzsche is the best source for unraveling this matter,

Tolstoy was his spiritual mentor

Ludwig Wittgenstein was almost an ascetic. Like Nietzsche, he never married. He lived at the edge of austerity by choice. His thinking is a potent assault on conventional Christianity.

Wittgenstein insisted that the most important things are unsayable. They are nonsense. What this amounts to is a post-Quaker framework where silence is an essential part of spirituality.

Potent trio

I believe of this trio Peirce is the most important because his pragmaticism opens the door to insisting that our deeds, our actions, and expressions, are the actual substance of our conscious thought.

This opens the door, in the cyber era, to increase our capacity to understand the implications of what we do and their actual effects.

If we can begin to truly admit that there is much that we simply do not know that is of ultimate importance, we may be able to see ways to prove out the spiritual in our actual conduct. That is seismic.The development is underway as we speak