- アメリカ太平洋研究 = Pacific and American studies (ISSN:13462989)
- vol.20, pp.57-73, 2020-03
In marked contrast to his father Benjamin Peirce, a leading scientist in the nineteenth-century US, and his younger brother Charles Sanders Peirce, one of the greatest American philosophers, James Mills Peirce has seldom received substantial treatment in historical research, though he succeeded to his father's chair, Perkins Professor of Astronomy and Mathematics, at Harvard in 1885. Thus little attention has been paid to the fact that his 1893–94 lectures on quaternions were attended by a Japanese graduate student, Shunkichi Kimura. This paper sheds a new light on the achievements of J. M. Peirce through a close reading of Kimura's letter dated October 7, 1894, which described his life at Harvard to Aikitsu Tanakadate, professor of Imperial University, Japan.\n From his promotion to professor in 1869 until his death in 1906, particularly for the 1872–95 period when he was in charge of the incipient graduate education, Peirce had cooperated closely with President Charles William Eliot in the reform of Harvard aiming for its enlargement and professionalization. In the 1894 letter, however, Kimura suggested to Tanakadate that three Harvard professors of mathematical physics were of poor quality as professional scholars, whereas Peirce wrote in the following year an official report boasting the development of graduate education at Harvard. On the other hand, Kimura greatly admired Peirce's dedication to quaternions, in which latter-day Harvard mathematicians had little interest. Kimura's letter provides a valuable point of view for fully appreciating the administrative and academic career of Peirce.