Charles Sanders Peirce

Charles Sanders Peirce
Charles Sanders Peirce
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Charles Sanders Peirce
Charles Sanders Peirce.
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Charles Sanders Peirce (September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American philosopher, logician, mathematician, and scientist who is sometimes known as "the father of pragmatism". He was educated as a chemist and employed as a scientist for 30 years. Today he is appreciated largely for his contributions to logic, mathematics, philosophy, scientific methodology, and semiotics, and for his founding of pragmatism.

An innovator in mathematics, statistics, philosophy, research methodology, and various sciences, Peirce considered himself, first and foremost, a logician. He made major contributions to logic, but logic for him encompassed much of that which is now called epistemology and philosophy of science. He saw logic as the formal branch of semiotics, of which he is a founder, and which foreshadowed the debate among logical positivists and proponents of philosophy of language that dominated 20th century Western philosophy; additionally, he defined the concept of abductive reasoning, as well as rigorously formulated mathematical induction and deductive reasoning. As early as 1886 he saw that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits; the same idea was used decades later to produce digital computers.

In 1934, the philosopher Paul Weiss called Peirce "the most original and versatile of American philosophers and America's greatest logician". Webster's Biographical Dictionary said in 1943 that Peirce was "now regarded as the most original thinker and greatest logician of his time." Keith Devlin similarly referred to Peirce as one of the greatest philosophers ever.

Peirce pragmatic maxim: “Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object”.
Pragmatic theory of meaning: The conceived consequences involved in an idea constitute the meaning of the idea.
Peirce regarded Pragmatism as the logical application of Jesus’s statement: “By their fruits, ye shall know them”.
William James once wrote that Peirce was "a man of genius in the purest sense of the word".


Some noted articles and lectures:
*On a New List of Categories (1868)
*JSP Cognition Series
    1.Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man (1868)
    2.Some Consequences of Four Incapacities (1868)
    3.Grounds of Validity of the Laws of Logic: Further Consequences of Four Incapacities (1869)
*Illustrations of the Logic of Science (1877–78): inquiry, pragmatism, statistics, inference
    1.The Fixation of Belief (1877)
    2.How to Make Our Ideas Clear (1878)
    3.The Doctrine of Chances (1878)
    4.The Probability of Induction (1878)
    5.The Order of Nature (1878)
    6.Deduction, Induction, and Hypothesis (1878)
*The Harvard lectures on pragmatism (1903)
*Peirce's third Monist series (On Pragmaticism):
    1.What Pragmatism Is (April 1905)
    2.Issues of Pragmaticism (July 1905)
    3.Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism (1906)
*A Survey of Pragmatism (1907 unpublished paper in CP5, 464-496) and as "Pragmatism" (in EP 2, selection 28)

Peirce's systematic philosophy, which is the focus of the present collection of writings, is difficult to characterize in a few words. For one thing, it consists of a number of distinct but inter-related theories and doctrines, any one of which could easily be the subject of whole books—as some, in fact, have been. Among the most characteristic of Peirce's theories are his pragmatism (or "pragmaticism," as he later called it), a method of sorting out conceptual confusions by relating meaning to consequences; semiotic, his theory of information, representation, communication, and the growth of knowledge; objective idealism, his monistic thesis that matter is effete mind (with the corollary that mind is inexplicable in terms of mechanics); fallibilism, the thesis that no inquirer can ever claim with full assurance to have reached the truth, for new evidence or information may arise that will reverberate throughout one's system of beliefs affecting even those most entrenched; tychism, the thesis that chance is really operative in the universe; synechism, the theory that continuity prevails and that the presumption of continuity is of enormous methodological importance for philosophy; and, finally, agapism, the thesis that love, or sympathy, has real influence in the world and, in fact, is "the great evolutionary agency of the universe." The last three doctrines are part of Peirce's comprehensive evolutionary cosmology.
Interest in Peirce has grown enormously in recent years, and estimates of his significance as a thinker continue to run high. His work in logic, algebraical and graphical, has come to be regarded as substantial both for its historical impact and its enduring importance for research. Hilary Putnam expressed his surprise upon discovering "how much that is quite familiar in modern logic actually became known to the logical world through the efforts of Peirce and his students," and W. V. Quine dates modern logic from "the emergence of general quantification theory at the hands of Frege and Peirce." More recently, John Sowa has demonstrated how Peirce's graphical system of logic (his existential graphs) improves on other logics for the representation of discourse, and the study of language generally, and he has used the existential graphs as the logical foundation for his own conceptual graphs, "which combine Peirce's logic with research on semantic networks in artificial intelligence and computational linguistics." In philosophy more generally, Peirce's work has been the focus of a considerable resurgence of interest throughout the world. This is demonstrated by the growing number of books and articles about Peirce, by increasing references to his ideas, and by the testimony of respected philosophers like Karl Popper, who regards Peirce as "one of the greatest philosophers of all time." Finally, in the rapidly growing field of study known as semiotics, Peirce is universally acknowledged as one of the founders, even the founder, and his theory of signs is among the most frequently studied and systematically examined of all foundational theories. The importance of semiotics for all disciplines that deal crucially with representation (among them epistemology, linguistics, anthropology, and cognitive science, and probably all the fine arts) is only beginning to be recognized. In his 1989 Jefferson Lecture, Walker Percy argued that modern science is radically incoherent "not when it seeks to understand things and subhuman organisms and the cosmos itself, but when it seeks to understand man, not man's physiology or neurology or his bloodstream, but man qua man, man when he is peculiarly human"—but that, with his theory of signs, Peirce laid the groundwork for a coherent science of man that is yet to be worked out.


Peirce's Pragmatism (Pragmaticism)

Pragmatism is a principle of inquiry and account of meaning first proposed by C. S. Peirce in the 1870s. The crux of Peirce’s pragmatism is that for any statement to be meaningful, it must have practical bearings. Peirce saw the pragmatic account of meaning as a method for clearing up metaphysics and aiding scientific inquiry. This has led many to take Peirce’s early statement of pragmatism as a forerunner of the verificationist account of meaning championed by logical positivists. The early pragmatism of C.S. Peirce developed through the work of James and Dewey in the U. S. A, and F. C. S. Schiller in Great Britain. Peirce, however, remained unhappy with both his early formulations and the developments made by fellow pragmatists. This lead him, in later life, to refine his own earlier account and rename it “pragmaticism” in order to distinguish it from other more “nominalistic” versions. (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Albert Atkin Charles Sanders Peirce: Pragmatism)

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1973) describes pragmatism as the proposition that “the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief”.

Thayer, in his "Pragmatic Theory of Truth", explains that “Because the emphasis is upon method, Peirce often remarked that pragmatism is not a philosophy, a metaphysic, or a theory of truth; it is not a solution or answer to anything but a technique to help us find solutions to problems of a philosophical or scientific nature”. (The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edwards, editor. The Macmillan Company & The Free Press. London. 1967.)

According to William James, the philosophical doctrine known as pragmatism was originated by Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce's how to make ideas clear contains practically everything of importance known to have written concerning Pragmatism. There is, however, a short passage in a review, written in 1871, of Frazer's edition of the Works of Berkeley, quoted below for its historical interest: A better rule [than Berkeley's] for avoiding the deceits of language is this: Do things fulfil the same function practically? Then let them be signified by the same word. Do they not? Then let them be distinguished. If I have learned a formula in gibberish which in any way jogs my memory so as to enable me in each single case to act as though I had a general idea, what possible utility is there in distinguishing between such a gibberish and formula and an idea? Why use the term a general idea in such a sense as to separate things which, for all experiential purposes, are the same? (North American Review, vol. 113, p. 469.)

Peirce’s pragmaticism:
1. The traditional philosophical view was that the abstract explains the concrete, and that the most abstract ideas are ultimate and unanalyzable. Pragmatism or pragmaticism was thus Peirce's way of insisting that abstractions must give an account of themselves, and must do it in terms of concrete experience. He held this position as early as 1868. Only simple qualities of sense or feeling, or blind reactions between these, can be indefinable; concepts are relational and definable.
2. The abstract generalities should not be defined, as older empiricisms affirmed, in terms of mere qualities of sensation or emotion. For these qualities are incommunicable and particular; whereas intellectual meanings or concepts must be public and general.
3. That which is most general and public is a habit of behavior directed towards an end. The element of generality, which is never absent from the given, reaches its maximum in purpose; that is, a value capable of being embodied in a wide variety of existents.
4. Logic is subsidiary to ethics and esthetics. The ultimate meaning of an intellectual conception is given by its conceivable bearings upon deliberate or self-controlled conduct; but conduct that is fully deliberate in this sense is ethical and the end which it realizes is esthetic. Thus pragmatism does not subordinate contemplative values to those of expediency.
5. Pragmatism is conceived to be a method in logic rather than a principle of metaphysics. It provides a maxim which determines the admissibility of explanatory hypotheses.
6. It entails scholastic realism, which in its final pragmatic interpretation means the ascription of purposive habits to nature.

Peirce’s pragmatism

Peirce’s pragmatism can be divided roughly into two periods. The first is that of its initial formulation and culminates in Peirce’s second “Illustrations of the Logic of Science” paper entitled “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” (1878). In this paper, Peirce develops a method for determining the meaning of a concept, which he summarizes in the form of a maxim. It is this maxim that William James makes famous twenty years later in his 1897 Berkeley Union address, where he called it “the principle of pragmatism”.
The second period begins around the turn of the century. Motivated by the popularity pragmatism had gained, but disappointed with the interpretation given to it by most of its proponents, Peirce sought to show how his own version of pragmatism differed from those that had become mainstream. In 1903, Peirce delivered seven lectures on pragmatism at Harvard, and two years later he published three articles on pragmaticism in the Monist outlining his views. However, his later attempts had little effect on the development of pragmatism for most of the twentieth century.

Peirce’s Early Pragmatism (Nominalism)

Peirce made his first published attempts at formulating pragmatism in the 1870s. The earliest clear statement of Peirce’s pragmatism comes from his 1878 paper “How To Make Our Ideas Clear". The maxim he developed there is often regarded as a prototype of the verification principle proposed by logical positivists in the early twentieth century.

Peirce’s main use for the pragmatic maxim is as an account of meaning. Quite simply, this enables Peirce to clearly identify useful and meaningful sentences. For instance, if we do not conceive the object of our conceptions to have any practical bearings, then it clearly does not have meaning.
This ability to identify meaningful and meaningless statements allows Peirce to make use of the maxim in two ways.

Peirce’s first use for the pragmatic maxim is to identify those propositions of metaphysics that turn out to be meaningless. For Peirce, the pragmatic maxim enables us to steer clear of metaphysical distractions. The bulk of “ontological metaphysics,” by which Peirce means metaphysics conducted by a priori reasoning alone, has no practical bearing and so will make no contribution to the final fixed state of beliefs. This renders them meaningless. It is this use of the pragmatic maxim as a filter against empty metaphysical statements that ultimately leads to a comparison between Peirce’s maxim and the verification principles of the logical positivists.

The second use for the pragmatic maxim is the role it plays in Peirce’s account of Inquiry and the accompanying notions of truth and reality. For Peirce, the attainment of truth comes from taking investigation and inquiry as far as it can go. The beliefs we find ourselves accepting at the limit of inquiry represent the truth. What is more, for Peirce, the only way to take inquiry to its limit is through the adoption of a scientific method. However, some criterion of choice is required in order to find which statements/hypotheses etc. are worth investigating. For Peirce, the pragmatic maxim is just such a criterion. Put in its simplest terms, the pragmatic maxim allows us to see what difference the truth of certain concepts would make to our lives. This knowledge further allows us to decide where the best focus for our scientific investigations and belief-settling inquiry lies. If, of two concepts, our investigating the truth of one over the other is likely to have a greater impact upon our reaching a settled state of opinion, then that is the one we should investigate. The only way we are able to see which of the two concepts is likely to have a greater impact is to use the pragmatic maxim and the final grade of clarity or understanding that it affords us.

Peirce felt that there were difficulties with this early account of the pragmatic maxim. In “How to Make Our Ideas Clear,” Peirce used the concept of “hardness” to illustrate the usefulness of his pragmatic maxim. This lead him to the conditional statement that “If something is hard, it will not be scratched by many other things” as an example, amongst many, of the practical upshot of taking our concept of “hardness” to be true. However, Peirce goes on to raise the question: what do we say about the hardness of a diamond, destroyed before we are able to test it for that quality?

In response, Peirce says that it would not be false to say that the diamond in question was soft. In “How to Make Our Ideas Clear”, he states that, “there is absolutely no difference between a hard and a soft thing so long as they are not brought to the test” (CP5-403 and The Essential Peirce, vol. II, p. 131). Peirce’s unwillingness to say that the diamond is hard is, in part, a consequence of the way he ties his pragmatic maxim to his account of inquiry. Since any belief that we form about this particular diamond will fail to meet with recalcitrant evidence (there is no longer a diamond to conduct tests upon and so no possibility of confirming or dis-confirming the statement about the hardness of the diamond) we can form any belief we like about its hardness; it is largely a matter of “verbal disagreement.”

Peirce was to return to this issue in his second major period of work on pragmatism with some regret about this counterintuitive feature of his early pragmatic maxim.

Peirce’s Later Pragmaticism (Realism)

I myself went too far in the direction of nominalism when I said that it was a mere question of the convenience of speech whether we say that a diamond is hard when it is not pressed upon, or whether we say that it is soft until it is pressed upon. I now say that experiment will prove that the diamond is hard, as a positive fact. That is, it is a real fact that it would resist pressure, which amounts to extreme scholastic realism. I deny that pragmaticism as originally defined by me made the intellectual purport of symbols to consist in our conduct. On the contrary, I was most careful to say that it consists in our concept of what our conduct would be upon conceivable occasions. (CP8-208)

Probably the most significant development in Peirce's intellectual life was the evolution of his thought from its quasi-nominalist and idealist beginnings to its broadly and strongly realist conclusion. Because there are so many variants of these doctrines, a few selections from Peirce's Century Dictionary definitions will help reveal his conceptions of these terms:
Nominalism: 1. The doctrine that nothing is general but names; more specifically, the doctrine that common nouns, as man, horse, represent in their generality nothing in the real things, but are mere conveniences for speaking of many things at once, or at most necessities of human thought; individualism.
Idealism: 1. The metaphysical doctrine that the real is of the nature of thought; the doctrine that all reality is in its nature psychical.
Realist: 1. A logician who holds that the essences of natural classes have some mode of being in the real things; in this sense distinguished as a scholastic realist; opposed to nominalist. 2. A philosopher who believes in the real existence of the external world as independent of all thought about it, or, at least, of the thought of any individual or any number of individuals. (the "Essential Peirce": Introduction to EP Volume 1)
Peirce also defined "ideal-realism" as "a metaphysical doctrine which combines the principles of idealism and realism." As a variant of this term, he defined the ideal-realism of his father as "the opinion that nature and the mind have such a community as to impart to our guesses a tendency toward the truth, while at the same time they require the confirmation of empirical science." (the "Essential Peirce": Introduction to EP Volume 1)
The life-long tension between nominalism and realism in Peirce's own intellectual life is testament to the general importance he attached to it; in fact, if any single question can be said to have been viewed by Peirce as the most important philosophical question of his time, it is that of deciding between the two doctrines. ... For Peirce, the significance of the outcome of this "battle" was not limited to technical philosophy:
"though the question of realism and nominalism has its roots in the technicalities of logic, its branches reach about our life. The question whether the genus homo has any existence except as individuals, is the question whether there is anything of any more dignity, worth, and importance than individual happiness, individual aspirations, and individual life. Whether men really have anything in common, so that the community is to be considered as an end in itself, and if so, what the relative value of the two factors is, is the most fundamental practical question in regard to every institution the constitution of which we have it in our power to influence." (item 5 "Fraser's The Works of George Berkeley")
According to Fisch, Peirce's progress toward realism began early and was gradual, but there were key steps that divide it into stages. Peirce took his first deliberate step in 1868 when, in the second paper of his cognition series (item 3 "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities"), he "declares unobtrusively for realism." Although this step marks only a small shift in Peirce's thought—the introduction of "the long run" into his theory of reality—it is an important one, for it brings to an end his period of avowed nominalism. (the "Essential Peirce": Introduction to EP Volume 1)

Peirce’s Later Pragmaticism (Realism)

After his statement of pragmatism in the 1870’s, Peirce did not fully return to it for around twenty years. Peirce had toyed, throughout the 1890’s, with his ideas on the pragmatic maxim but it was not until James’ California Union Address in 1898 that he felt spurred on to a second major effort at formulating his pragmatism. James publicly named the doctrine of pragmatism and identified Peirce as its founder. Famously, James misremembered seeing the term “pragmatism” in Peirce’s “How to Make Our Ideas Clear”. James was, however, correct in identifying this paper as the first source of pragmatism in Peirce’s work. It was from here that James and other pragmatists, like Schiller, took Peirce’s pragmatic maxim and moved it in new directions.

By the turn of the twentieth century, then, Peirce’s need to re-engage with pragmatism was paramount. First of all, it would provide him an opportunity to use James’ acknowledgment of his work to gain a toehold in the philosophical and academic arena. Also, on a less personal level, Peirce did not wholly approve of the directions in which James and Schiller were taking pragmatism. This led him to rename his own brand of pragmatism “pragmaticism,” claiming that this title was “ugly enough to be safe from kidnappers.” Throughout the first decade of the 1900’s, then, Peirce attempted, in Harvard lectures and a series of articles for The Monist, to develop the theory he had first detailed in the 1870’s.

The most notable difference between Peirce’s later accounts of pragmatism and his earlier approach is his attitude to the question of whether the destroyed diamond was hard. This had a profound affect on the way he formulated the conditional propositions that constitute the pragmatic meaning of a concept, as we shall see. Recall that in his account of the 1870’s, Peirce maintained that since the diamond was not tested, it made no difference if we said that it was hard or soft. In his later formulations of pragmatism, Peirce states that we can definitely know that the destroyed diamond was hard.

The underlying cause of this change of heart is Peirce’s adoption of a more sophisticated approach to the reality of modal notions like necessity and possibility. In the 1870’s, Peirce’s account of possibility and necessity are based on the epistemological facts about believers in relation to some statement containing modal terms. For instance, to say that something is necessary is just to say that we know it must be the case. And to say that something is possible is just to say that we do not know it not to be the case. This reduces the reality of modal notions to facts about speakers and the words they use. In his later work, Peirce took this account and his early attitude to the diamond example to be crass “nominalism” on his part: he had failed to be a realist about possibilities, or “would-bes,” as he called them.

Peirce uses “nominalism” to refer to any theory that does not take the real separate existence of laws, generalities, possibilities etc. seriously. His earlier explanation of possibilities or “would-bes” in terms of properties of knowers, then, counts, for him, as “nominalism.” As such, Peirce’s adoption of a realist position on possibility, that is a commitment to possibilities or “would-bes” as independently real, around 1896/97 provided the foundation for a significant change in his pragmatism.

In his later account of pragmatism, Peirce takes subjunctive conditionals, rather than indicative conditionals, to form the list of conditional propositions that constitute the meaning of our concepts. For instance, on the 1878 account, conditional statements generated for propositions like “vinegar is diluted acetic acid” would include, “If litmus paper is dipped into it then it will turn that paper red.” This is an indicative conditional, expressing what will happen. On this account, it does not make sense to say that a diamond will resist abrasive substances if the diamond is destroyed before testing can take place. Peirce’s later formulation, though, offers us conditionals like, “If we were to dip litmus paper into it then that paper would turn red,” for propositions like “vinegar is diluted acetic acid.” This subjunctive formulation, with regards the diamond example, sees statements like “this diamond is hard” generating a list of subjunctive conditionals like “If we were to rub this diamond with most materials then it would not be scratched.” Conditionals like this hold whether we test the diamond for hardness or not. Consequently, Peirce’s later pragmatism formulates the pragmatic meaning of concepts (or statements) in terms of subjunctive conditionals; his earlier account uses indicative conditionals.

A further development in Peirce’s later expression of pragmatism is the extent to which he places the pragmatic maxim within his wider philosophical account. In the 1870’s, Peirce’s pragmatic maxim is a part of his account of inquiry, suggesting and clarifying concepts worthy of exploration. By the turn of the twentieth century, Peirce’s architectonic vision of philosophy was in full construction and the concept of inquiry was part of a much broader structure.

Peirce also needed an account of pragmatism more sympathetic to his metaphysics. By the turn of the century, Peirce had come to realize fully the role of metaphysics in his system, and rather than dispose of it as empty theorizing, Peirce felt the need to reconstruct it as a meaningful science. His early account of the pragmatic maxim was strongly empirical and in “How To Make Our Ideas Clear,” Peirce defines “practical effects” as “sensible effects” (The Essential Peirce, vol. I, p. 132), or “effects [...] upon our senses” (ibid., p. 131). This tying of the meaningful to the observable needs careful statement if it is not to rule out all but the immediate experiences of our senses. Peirce’s earliest characterization runs close to this. However, his later accounts attempt to broaden the notion of experience beyond the directly observable in an attempt to avoid rendering all metaphysics empty.

Peirce’s mature philosophy is infused with his realism about possibility and generality. Both are important for his scientific metaphysics. What he needs is some way of explaining our experience of these things. The ability to reason, deduce, and infer allows us to use laws and habits and identify possible outcomes and, at the same time, take them seriously as real generalities and possibilities. This has an interesting effect on Peirce’s later notion of the pragmatic maxim. By 1903 and the Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism, the notion of practical effects from the earlier formulation had developed. Peirce, now sensitive to his own modal realism and more sophisticated metaphysical requirements, took the pragmatic maxim to “allow any flight of imagination provided this imagination ultimately alights upon a possible practical effect” (The Essential Peirce, vol. II, p. 235).

(Note: Peirce's later pragmaticism allows the practical effects that may be inferred from an idea, through logical conjecture, and/or the practical consequences that an idea ultimately brings forth in time.)



Theory of Inquiry - Cognition - Epistemology

Peirce described himself as a ‘Laboratory philosopher’, claiming that years of laboratory experience encouraged him like any experimentalist, to approach all issues in the distinctive manner which comprises his pragmatism. This is clearest in the approach to epistemological matters which emerges in his earliest published work, from the 1860s and 1870s – most clearly in a series of papers in the (1877-8). (Note: The Fixation of Belief and How to Make Our Ideas Clear).

In The Fixation of Belief, Peirce suggests that inquiry begins only when one of our previously settled beliefs is disturbed, and it is ended as soon as we have a new answer to the question that concerns us: the aim of inquiry is to replace doubt by settled belief.

What methods should we use if we are to carry out our inquiries well? He considers four ….. And concludes that we should adopt the ‘method of science’, which holds that “there are Real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions about them; those realities affect our senses according to regular laws, and, though our sensations are as different as our relations to the objects, yet, by taking advantage of the laws of perception, we can ascertain by reasoning how things really are”.

Peirce was one of the first philosophers to arrive at a satisfactory understanding of statistical reasoning, and this is central to his account of science. He is a ‘contrite fallibilitist’: any of our current certainties might turn out to be mistaken, but relying upon them will not prevent our making cognitive progress; any errors will emerge with time.

The ‘pragmatist principle’ forms part of this theory of inquiry, and was elaborated in How to Make Our Ideas Clear. It is a rule for clarifying the content of concepts and hypotheses, and is supposed to reveal all features of the meaning of concepts and hypotheses that are relevant to scientific investigations.

As well as showing its value in clarifying hypotheses, and arguing that it can be used to dismiss some metaphysical ‘hypotheses’ as empty, Peirce illustrates the value of his pragmatism by clarifying our conception of truth and reality. If a proposition is true, then anyone who investigated the matter long enough and well enough would eventually acknowledge its truth: truth is a matter of long-term convergence of opinion. “The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real. That is the way I would explain reality.”

In “The Fixation of Belief”, Peirce had written of doubt as a state of dissatisfaction from which we try to free ourselves, and of belief as a satisfactory state. The struggle to remove the irritation of doubt and to attain belief, a rule of action, was described as “inquiry”, and the settlement of opinion was set forth as the sole object of inquiry.

In “How to Make Our Ideas Clear”, Peirce began by speaking of doubt as a kind of irritation arising from indecisiveness in regard to action; when one does not know what to do, one is uneasy, and this uneasiness will not abate until one settles upon some mode of action. Belief is “a rule for action,” and as it is acted upon repeatedly, each time appeasing the irritation of doubt, it becomes a habit of action. Thus, Peirce concluded, “The essence of belief is the establishment of a habit, and different beliefs are distinguished by the different modes of action to which they give rise.”

Thus, the first step in learning how to make our ideas clear is to come to the realization that belief is a habit of action, the consequence of a process of inquiry undertaken to appease the irritation of indecisiveness. Since the entire purpose of thought, as Peirce conceived it, is to produce habits of action, it follows that the meaning of a thought is the collection of habits involved; or, if the question has to do with the meaning of a “thing”, its meaning is clear once we know what different the thing would make if one were to become actively, or practically, involved with it. Peirce’s conclusion was that “there is no distinction of meaning so fine as to consist in anything but a possible difference of practice”.

It was Peirce’s conviction that logic, as the art of reasoning, was needed to make progress in philosophy possible.

Descartes teaches that philosophy must begin with universal doubt and Locke considers “simple ideas” the building blocks and unshakable foundation of all our knowledge. Peirce breaks radically from both traditions and begins with the beliefs we posses when we begin our inquiry.

In Some Consequences of Four Incapacities Peirce argue that "We cannot begin with complete doubt. We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we enter upon the study of philosophy. These prejudices are not to be dispelled by a maxim, for they are things which it does not occur to us can be questioned. Hence this initial skepticism will be a mere self-deception, and not real doubt; and no one who follows the Cartesian method will ever be satisfied until he has formally recovered all those beliefs which in form he has given up. It is, therefore, as useless a preliminary as going to the North Pole would be in order to get to Constantinople by coming down regularly upon a meridian. A person may, it is true, in the course of his studies, find reason to doubt what he began by believing; but in that case he doubts because he has a positive reason for it, and not on account of the Cartesian maxim. Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts." (CP5-265)

As with Descartes, Peirce begins by contrasting doubt with belief. According to Peirce, these are two states of mind that are relatively easy to distinquish. In The Fixation of Belief Peirce observes that “Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief; while the latter is a calm and satisfactory state which we do not wish to avoid, or to change to a belief in anything else. On the contrary, we cling tenaciously, not merely to believing, but to believing just what we do believe.” (CP5-372)

There is another important different between states of doubt and belief, and this has to do with action. Doubt and belief each lead to action, but they do so differently. Doubt is a direct stimulus to inquiry, and we stop inquiring as soon as the doubt is gone. Belief, on the other hand, leads us to behave in some certain way when the occasion arises. That is to say, for Peirce, belief is the establishment of a certain habit that will determine how we will act when appropriately stimulated.

"Thus, both doubt and belief have positive effects upon us, though very different ones. Belief does not make us act at once, but puts us into such a condition that we shall behave in some certain way, when the occasion arises. Doubt has not the least such active effect, but stimulates us to inquiry until it is destroyed. This reminds us of the irritation of a nerve and the reflex action produced thereby; while for the analogue of belief, in the nervous system, we must look to what are called nervous associations --for example, to that habit of the nerves in consequence of which the smell of a peach will make the mouth water." (CP5-373)

This notion of belief as habits is crucial to Peirce’s pragmatism and marks a major difference between Peirce’s view and the pragmatism of James and Schiller, who focus on the particular consequences of a belief we should expect if the belief were true.

For Peirce, the very motive of inquiry is to rid ourselves from the discomfort of doubt and to regain a state of belief. Thus, the belief arrived at is not necessarily true belief. Any belief that satisfies us will work, no matter whether it happens to be true or false. Peirce’s theory fits nicely with the views expressed by Darwin. Inquiry, or the exercise of reason, is no longer the godlike feature that separates man from beast, but is a mechanism by which certain organisms adapt themselves to concrete changes in their environment so as to regain their homeostatic equilibrium.

Peirce had begun the criticism of Cartesian in a series of articles for the Journal of Speculative Philosophy (JSP Cognition Series in 1868-69). In these articles, Peirce had argued that we have no power of intuition, we have no power of introspection, we cannot think otherwise than in signs, and we have no conception of the absolutely incognizable ( “Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man” 1868).

Peirce’s first objection is to the claim that we possess any intuitive knowledge. The notion of intuitive knowledge goes back at least to Plato and draws heavily on a comparison with the faculty of vision, Just as we see sensory objects when light shines upon them, so do we “see” intelligible objects when they are “illuminated” by what some have called the “light of reason”. On this view, one has intuitive knowledge when one immediately “see” that something is true. Classic examples are the claim that the whole is always greater than any of its parts, that whenever we think we must also exist, etc. This notion of intuitive knowledge is intimately tied to Descartes’s conception of clear and distinct ideas, which proved to be at once a criterion of meaning and a criterion of truth. In the Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes had derived the general rule that whatever is clearly and distinctly perceived is true.

Peirce’s objections against this notion are empirical, not a priori. He points to a number of circumstances where claims of intuitive knowledge are shown to be wrong. Peirce argues, for instance, that our direct perception is seriously compromised by the ease with which magicians make us “see” things that do not happen. It also happens quite frequently that what seems absolutely clear and true at the outset later turns out to be deceptive and wrong. Peirce also argues that the thesis that the whole is always greater than any of its parts, which was believed to be a self-evident truth for over two millennia, in fact, may be false.


Euclid, some twenty-two centuries ago, laid it down as a "common notion," or axiom, evident to all men, that "a whole is greater than its part." For two millennia and more, this axiom was held to fulfill the ideal of an axiom better than any other, and when men wanted an example of an indubitable axiom, they commonly chose this. It is plain, therefore, that they could not realize in thought the truth of the contrary, try as they might. This is curious; for since Euclid's time and earlier it had never ceased to be a familiar truth that a finite magnitude added to an infinite one did not increase the latter. So, if during near 2200 years, among the millions of men who were continually declaring it inconceivable that a part should be as great as a whole, it had ever occurred to a single one to think how it would be if the part were infinite, it would have been all up with the immaculate fame of the axiom from that moment. At length, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, somebody, I think it was Dr. Georg Cantor, said: The even numbers are a part only of all the integer numbers. But every whole number has a double which is the double of no other integer number. So, for every integer number there is a separate and distinct double; and thus the doubles are as many as the integer numbers. But these doubles are all even numbers; and so, the partial collection is as great as the whole collection.(CP2-30)

For example, that the whole is greater than its part is not an axiom, as that eminently bad reasoner, Euclid, made it to be. It is a theorem readily proved by means of a syllogism of transposed quantity, but not otherwise. Of finite collections it is true, of infinite collections false. Thus, a part of the whole numbers are even numbers. Yet the even numbers are no fewer than all the numbers; an evident proposition, since if every number in the whole series of whole numbers be doubled, the result will be the series of even numbers.

      1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.       2, 4, 6, 8, 10,12, etc.

So for every number there is a distinct even number. In fact, there are as many distinct doubles of numbers as there are of distinct numbers. But the doubles of numbers are all even numbers. (CP6-115)

Peirce’s rejection of intuitive knowledge, and of the Cartesian notion of clear and distinct ideas that comes with it, forced him to develop a new criterion of meaning. The pragmatic maxim, or as James calls it, “the principle of pragmatism”, gives him such a criterion.

Peirce’s second denial is that we have no power of introspection. According to Descartes, we are much more familiar with our own mind than we are with the world in which we live. Peirce turns Descartes’s approach literally inside-out. According to Peirce, we first learn about the so-called external world, and then derive from our interaction with this external world that we have a self and what this self entails. Hence, for Peirce, our knowledge does not progress, as with Descartes, from the inside out, but from the outside in.

Peirce’s third denial is that we cannot think without signs. This third objection follows straight from the previous denial of introspection. If we have no direct access to our own thoughts, , then we can only access our own thoughts indirectly through their external aspects, that is, through how they present themselves to us, as signs. But this is as much as to say that the only thought we can cognize is thought in signs, and since it belongs to the essence of thought that it can be cognized (incognizable thoughts being a contradiction in terms), all thought must be in signs. This has important ramifications, because the meaning of a sign lies in what it points at. Consequently, if all thought is in signs, the meaning of any thought lies in the thoughts it calls up. As we will see, this future-directed aspect of thought is central to pragmatism.

Finally, Peirce argues that the absolutely incognizable is absolutely inconceivable. Peirce is here directing his criticism to those who believe that there are (or may be) certain things that are utterly beyond our reach, so that they cannot possibly be known. It is in his critique of this line of thought that Peirce first introduces his pragmatic maxim:
      "All our conceptions are obtained by abstractions and combinations of cognitions first occurring in judgments of experience. Accordingly, there can be no conception of the absolutely incognizable, since nothing of that sort occurs in experience. But the meaning of a term is the conception which it conveys. Hence, a term can have no such meaning." (CP5-255 - Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man)

Peirce's four claims concerning the limits of our thought pave the way for Peirce's own philosophy.

Pierce not only believed that inquiry would eventually lead to the right answers, he also maintained that in many cases we have already found the right answer. In this way, Peirce sought to wedge a third option between skepticism and dogmatism, which he named Fallibilism.
The skeptics insist that we can never know anything for sure and that we should therefore suspend our judgment. The dogmatists, in turn, believe that some truths are self-evident, and they found their philosophic edifices thereon. Peirce rejects the dogmatist’s claim that we know with certainty that some particular beliefs are true, while at the same time dismissing the skeptic’s conclusion that it follows from this that all our beliefs must be regarded untrustworthy. Instead, Peirce argues that overall we can trust our beliefs, but we should not cet our lives on any single one of them; a view he later referred to as critical common-sensism. In Peirce’s eyes, the skeptic makes the basic mistake of concluding from the fact each belief can be doubted, that therefore all beliefs can be doubted. But these are different things. If at an intersection you can go in any direction, this does not mean that you can go in all of them at once.
Peirce sees fixing belief as the sole purpose of inquiry, and that for a belief to be fixed it is not necessary that the belief be true (it suffices that it is believed to be true). … The purpose of inquiry is a belief which, being a disposition to act, will cause the inquirer to act when he or she is properly stimulated.



On a New List of Categories

Presented to the Academy on 14 May 1867, this paper is, according to Peirce, "perhaps the least unsatisfactory, from a logical point of view, that I ever succeeded in producing" and, with item 3 ('Some Consequences of Four Incapacities'), one of his two "strongest philosophical works." The culmination of a ten-year effort and the keystone of Peirce's system of philosophy, it argues for a new post-Kantian set of categories (or univeral conceptions) by demonstrating that they are required for the unification of experience. Peirce's argument is essentially a logical derivation, though it depends on a type of mental separation he called 'prescision,' which is also required for his later phenomenological derivation of the categories. (Head Notes for the EP 1, item 1)

Excerpt and condensation:
CP1-545. This paper is based upon the theory already established, that the function of conceptions is to reduce the manifold of sensuous impressions to unity.
546. This theory gives rise to a conception of gradation among those conceptions which are universal.
547. That universal conception which is nearest to sense is that of the present, in general. … the conception of what is present in general, which is nothing but the general recognition of what is contained in attention, has no connotation, and therefore no proper unity. This conception of the present in general, of IT in general, is rendered in philosophical language by the word "substance" in one of its meanings. Before any comparison or discrimination can be made between what is present, what is present must have been recognized as such, as it, and subsequently the metaphysical parts which are recognized by abstraction are attributed to this it, but the it cannot itself be made a predicate. This it is thus neither predicated of a subject, nor in a subject, and accordingly is identical with the conception of substance.
548. The unity to which the understanding reduces impressions is the unity of a proposition. This unity consists in the connection of the predicate with the subject; and, therefore, that which is implied in the copula, or the conception of being, is that which completes the work of conceptions of reducing the manifold to unity. The copula (or rather the verb which is copula in one of its senses) means either actually is or would be, as in the two propositions, "There is no griffin," and "A griffin is a winged quadruped." The conception of being contains only that junction of predicate to subject wherein these two verbs agree. The conception of being, therefore, plainly has no content.
If we say "The stove is black," the stove is the substance, from which its blackness has not been differentiated, and the is, while it leaves the substance just as it was seen, explains its confusedness, by the application to it of blackness as a predicate.
Though being does not affect the subject, it implies an indefinite determinability of the predicate. For if one could know the copula and predicate of any proposition, as ". . . . is a tailed-man," he would know the predicate to be applicable to something supposable, at least. Accordingly, we have propositions whose subjects are entirely indefinite, as "There is a beautiful ellipse," where the subject is merely something actual or potential; but we have no propositions whose predicate is entirely indeterminate, for it would be quite senseless to say, "A has the common characters of all things," inasmuch as there are no such common characters.
Thus substance and being are the beginning and end of all conception. Substance is inapplicable to a predicate, and being is equally so to a subject.
549. The terms "precision" and "abstraction," which were formerly applied to every kind of separation, are now limited, not merely to mental separation, but to that which arises from attention to one element and neglect of the other. Exclusive attention consists in a definite conception or supposition of one part of an object, without any supposition of the other. Abstraction or precision ought to be carefully distinguished from two other modes of mental separation, which may be termed discrimination and dissociation. Discrimination has to do merely with the senses of terms, and only draws a distinction in meaning. Dissociation is that separation which, in the absence of a constant association, is permitted by the law of association of images. It is the consciousness of one thing, without the necessary simultaneous consciousness of the other. Abstraction or precision, therefore, supposes a greater separation than discrimination, but a less separation than dissociation. Thus I can discriminate red from blue, space from color, and color from space, but not red from color. I can prescind red from blue, and space from color (as is manifest from the fact that I actually believe there is an uncolored space between my face and the wall); but I cannot prescind color from space, nor red from color. I can dissociate red from blue, but not space from color, color from space, nor red from color.
550. It may be noticed that, throughout this process, introspection is not resorted to. Nothing is assumed respecting the subjective elements of consciousness which cannot be securely inferred from the objective elements.
551. The conception of being arises upon the formation of a proposition. A proposition always has, besides a term to express the substance, another to express the quality of that substance; and the function of the conception of being is to unite the quality to the substance. Quality, therefore, in its very widest sense, is the first conception in order in passing from being to substance. … Take, for example, the proposition, "This stove is black." Here the conception of this stove is the more immediate, that of black the more mediate, which latter, to be predicated of the former, must be discriminated from it and considered in itself, not as applied to an object, but simply as embodying a quality, blackness. Now this blackness is a pure species or abstraction, and its application to this stove is entirely hypothetical. … Such a pure abstraction, reference to which constitutes a quality or general attribute, may be termed a ground.
Reference to a ground cannot be prescinded from being, but being can be prescinded from it.
552. Empirical psychology has established the fact that we can know a quality only by means of its contrast with or similarity to another. By contrast and agreement a thing is referred to a correlate, if this term may be used in a wider sense than usual. The occasion of the introduction of the conception of reference to a ground is the reference to a correlate, and this is, therefore, the next conception in order.
Reference to a correlate cannot be prescinded from reference to a ground; but reference to a ground may be prescinded from reference to a correlate.
553. Every reference to a correlate, then, conjoins to the substance the conception of a reference to an interpretant; and this is, therefore, the next conception in order in passing from being to substance.
Reference to an interpretant cannot be prescinded from reference to a correlate; but the latter can be prescinded from the former.
554. Reference to an interpretant is rendered possible and justified by that which renders possible and justifies comparison. But that is clearly the diversity of impressions. If we had but one impression, it would not require to be reduced to unity, and would therefore not need to be thought of as referred to an interpretant, and the conception of reference to an interpretant would not arise. But since there is a manifold of impressions, we have a feeling of complication or confusion, which leads us to differentiate this impression from that, and then, having been differentiated, they require to be brought to unity. Now they are not brought to unity until we conceive them together as being ours, that is, until we refer them to a conception as their interpretant. Thus, the reference to an interpretant arises upon the holding together of diverse impressions, and therefore it does not join a conception to the substance, as the other two references do, but unites directly the manifold of the substance itself. It is, therefore, the last conception in order in passing from being to substance.
555. The five conceptions thus obtained, for reasons which will be sufficiently obvious, may be termed categories. That is,
        Quality (reference to a ground)
        Relation (reference to a correlate)
        Representation (reference to an interpretant)
The three intermediate conceptions may be termed accidents.
556. This passage from the many to the one is numerical. The conception of a third is that of an object which is so related to two others, that one of these must be related to the other in the same way in which the third is related to that other. Now this coincides with the conception of an interpretant. An other is plainly equivalent to a correlate. The conception of second differs from that of other, in implying the possibility of a third. In the same way, the conception of self implies the possibility of an other. The ground is the self abstracted from the concreteness which implies the possibility of another.
557. Since no one of the categories can be prescinded from those above it, the list of supposable objects which they afford is,
What is.
        Quale (that which refers to a ground)
        Relate (that which refers to ground and correlate)
        Representamen (that which refers to ground, correlate, and interpretant)
558. … that there are three kinds of representations.
First. Those whose relation to their objects is a mere community in some quality, and these representations may be termed likenesses.
Second. Those whose relation to their objects consists in a correspondence in fact, and these may be termed indices or signs.
Third. Those the ground of whose relation to their objects is an imputed character, which are the same as general signs, and these may be termed symbols.
559. I shall now show how the three conceptions of reference to a ground, reference to an object, and reference to an interpretant are the fundamental ones of at least one universal science, that of logic. Logic is said to treat of second intentions as applied to first. It would lead me too far away from the matter in hand to discuss the truth of this statement; I shall simply adopt it as one which seems to me to afford a good definition of the subject-genus of this science. Now, second intentions are the objects of the understanding considered as representations, and the first intentions to which they apply are the objects of those representations. The objects of the understanding, considered as representations, are symbols, that is, signs which are at least potentially general. But the rules of logic hold good of any symbols, of those which are written or spoken as well as of those which are thought. They have no immediate application to likenesses or indices, because no arguments can be constructed of these alone, but do apply to all symbols. All symbols, indeed, are in one sense relative to the understanding, but only in the sense in which also all things are relative to the understanding. On this account, therefore, the relation to the understanding need not be expressed in the definition of the sphere of logic, since it determines no limitation of that sphere. But a distinction can be made between concepts which are supposed to have no existence except so far as they are actually present to the understanding, and external symbols which still retain their character of symbols so long as they are only capable of being understood. And as the rules of logic apply to these latter as much as to the former (and though only through the former, yet this character, since it belongs to all things, is no limitation), it follows that logic has for its subject-genus all symbols and not merely concepts. We come, therefore, to this, that logic treats of the reference of symbols in general to their objects. In this view it is one of a trivium of conceivable sciences. The first would treat of the formal conditions of symbols having meaning, that is of the reference of symbols in general to their grounds or imputed characters, and this might be called formal grammar; the second, logic, would treat of the formal conditions of the truth of symbols; and the third would treat of the formal conditions of the force of symbols, or their power of appealing to a mind, that is, of their reference in general to interpretants, and this might be called formal rhetoric.
There would be a general division of symbols, common to all these sciences; namely, into,
1.. Symbols which directly determine only their grounds or imputed qualities, and are thus but sums of marks or terms;
2.. Symbols which also independently determine their objects by means of other term or terms, and thus, expressing their own objective validity, become capable of truth or falsehood, that is, are propositions; and,
3.. Symbols which also independently determine their interpretants, and thus the minds to which they appeal, by premissing a proposition or propositions which such a mind is to admit. These are arguments.
In a proposition, the term which separately indicates the object of the symbol is termed the subject, and that which indicates the ground is termed the predicate. The objects indicated by the subject (which are always potentially a plurality -- at least, of phases or appearances) are therefore stated by the proposition to be related to one another on the ground of the character indicated by the predicate.
The other divisions of terms, propositions, and arguments arise from the distinction of extension and comprehension. I propose to treat this subject in a subsequent paper. But I will so far anticipate that as to say that there is, first, the direct reference of a symbol to its objects, or its denotation; second, the reference of the symbol to its ground, through its object, that is, its reference to the common characters of its objects, or its connotation; and third, its reference to its interpretants through its object, that is, its reference to all the synthetical propositions in which its objects in common are subject or predicate, and this I term the information it embodies. And as every addition to what it denotes, or to what it connotes, is effected by means of a distinct proposition of this kind, it follows that the extension and comprehension of a term are in an inverse relation, as long as the information remains the same, and that every increase of information is accompanied by an increase of one or other of these two quantities. It may be observed that extension and comprehension are very often taken in other senses in which this last proposition is not true.

Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed for Man

This is the first of three articles usually referred to as the JSP Cognition Series, in which Peirce develops some of the results and consequences of item 1 ('On a New List of Categories') and attempts "to prove and to trace the consequences of certain propositions in epistemology tending toward the recognition of the reality of continuity and of generality and going to show the absurdity of individualism and of egoism. " -- In "The Law of Mind" [item 23], he indicates that this is an early attempt at developing his doctrine of synechism.
Peirce's opposition to Cartesianism results in the following four denials: (1) we have no power of introspection, but all knowledge of the internal world is derived by hypothetical reasoning from our knowledge of external facts, (2) we have no power of intuition, but every cognition is determined logically by previous cognitions, (3) we have no power of thinking without signs, and (4) we have no conception of the absolutely incognizable. (Head Notes for the EP 1, item 2)

Excerpt and Condensation:
QUESTION 1. Whether by the simple contemplation of a cognition, independently of any previous knowledge and without reasoning from signs, we are enabled rightly to judge whether that cognition has been determined by a previous cognition or whether it refers immediately to its object.
Answer: We have no power of intuition, but every cognition is determined logically by previous cognitions.

The term intuition is taken as signifying a cognition not determined by a previous cognition of the same object, and therefore so determined by something out of the consciousness. Intuition here will be nearly the same as "premiss not itself a conclusion"; the only difference being that premisses and conclusions are judgments, whereas an intuition may, as far as its definition states, be any kind of cognition whatever. But just as a conclusion (good or bad) is determined in the mind of the reasoner by its premiss, so cognitions not judgments may be determined by previous cognitions; and a cognition not so determined, and therefore determined directly by the transcendental object, is to be termed an intuition. (CP5-213)
There is no evidence that we have this faculty, except that we seem to feel that we have it. But the weight of that testimony depends entirely on our being supposed to have the power of distinguishing in this feeling whether the feeling be the result of education, old associations, etc., or whether it is an intuitive cognition; or, in other words, it depends on presupposing the very matter testified to. Is this feeling infallible? And is this judgment concerning it infallible, and so on, ad infinitum? Supposing that a man really could shut himself up in such a faith, he would be, of course, impervious to the truth, "evidence-proof." (CP5-214)
There can be no doubt that before the publication of Berkeley's book on Vision, it had generally been believed that the third dimension of space was immediately intuited, although, at present, nearly all admit that it is known by inference. We had been contemplating the object since the very creation of man, but this discovery was not made until we began to reason about it. (CP5-219)
We have, therefore, a variety of facts, all of which are most readily explained on the supposition that we have no intuitive faculty of distinguishing intuitive from mediate cognitions. Some arbitrary hypothesis may otherwise explain any one of these facts; this is the only theory which brings them to support one another. Moreover, no facts require the supposition of the faculty in question. Whoever has studied the nature of proof will see, then, that there are here very strong reasons for disbelieving the existence of this faculty. These will become still stronger when the consequences of rejecting it have, in this paper and in a following one, been more fully traced out. become still stronger when the consequences of rejecting it have, in this paper and in a following one, been more fully traced out. (CP5-224)

QUESTION 2. Whether we have an intuitive self-consciousness.
Answer: There is no necessity of supposing an intuitive self-consciousness, since self-consciousness may easily be the result of inference. (CP5-237)

Self-consciousness, as the term is here used, is to be distinguished both from consciousness generally, from the internal sense, and from pure apperception. Any cognition is a consciousness of the object as represented; by self-consciousness is meant a knowledge of ourselves. Not a mere feeling of subjective conditions of consciousness, but of our personal selves. Pure apperception is the self-assertion of THE ego; the self-consciousness here meant is the recognition of my private self. I know that I (not merely the I) exist. The question is, how do I know it; by a special intuitive faculty, or is it determined by previous cognitions? (CP5-225)
Now, it is not self-evident that we have such an intuitive faculty, for it has just been shown that we have no intuitive power of distinguishing an intuition from a cognition determined by others. Therefore, the existence or nonexistence of this power is to be determined upon evidence, and the question is whether self-consciousness can be explained by the action of known faculties under conditions known to exist, or whether it is necessary to suppose an unknown cause for this cognition, and, in the latter case, whether an intuitive faculty of self-consciousness is the most probable cause which can be supposed. (CP5-226)

QUESTION 3. Whether we have an intuitive power of distinguishing between the subjective elements of different kinds of cognitions.
Answer: We don’t have an intuitive power of distinguishing between the subjective elements of different kinds of cognitions.

Every cognition involves something represented, or that of which we are conscious, and some action or passion of the self whereby it becomes represented. The former shall be termed the objective, the latter the subjective, element of the cognition. The cognition itself is an intuition of its objective element, which may therefore be called, also, the immediate object. The subjective element is not necessarily immediately known, but it is possible that such an intuition of the subjective element of a cognition of its character, whether that of dreaming, imagining, conceiving, believing, etc., should accompany every cognition. The question is whether this is so. (CP5-238)
It would appear, at first sight, that there is an overwhelming array of evidence in favor of the existence of such a power. The difference between seeing a color and imagining it is immense. There is a vast difference between the most vivid dream and reality. And if we had no intuitive power of distinguishing between what we believe and what we merely conceive, we never, it would seem, could in any way distinguish them; since if we did so by reasoning, the question would arise whether the argument itself was believed or conceived, and this must be answered before the conclusion could have any force. And thus there would be a regressus ad infinitum. Besides, if we do not know that we believe, then, from the nature of the case, we do not believe. (CP5-239)
But be it noted that we do not intuitively know the existence of this faculty. For it is an intuitive one, and we cannot intuitively know that a cognition is intuitive. The question is, therefore, whether it is necessary to suppose the existence of this faculty, or whether then the facts can be explained without this supposition. (CP5-240)
Thus, the arguments in favor of this peculiar power of consciousness disappear, and the presumption is again against such a hypothesis. Moreover, as the immediate objects of any two faculties must be admitted to be different, the facts do not render such a supposition in any degree necessary. (CP5-243)

QUESTION 4. Whether we have any power of introspection, or whether our whole knowledge of the internal world is derived from the observation of external facts.
Answer: We have no power of introspection, but our whole knowledge of the internal world is derived from the observation of external facts.

There is a certain set of facts which are ordinarily regarded as external, while others are regarded as internal. The question is whether the latter are known otherwise than by inference from the former. By introspection, I mean a direct perception of the internal world, but not necessarily a perception of it as internal. (CP5-244)
It appears that there is no reason for supposing a power of introspection; and, consequently, the only way of investigating a psychological question is by inference from external facts. (CP5-249)

QUESTION 5. Whether we can think without signs.
Answer: We have no power of thinking without signs.

If we seek the light of external facts, the only cases of thought which we can find are of thought in signs. Plainly, no other thought can be evidenced by external facts. But we have seen that only by external facts can thought be known at all. The only thought, then, which can possibly be cognized is thought in signs. But thought which cannot be cognized does not exist. All thought, therefore, must necessarily be in signs. (CP5-251)
From the proposition that every thought is a sign, it follows that every thought must address itself to some other, must determine some other, since that is the essence of a sign. This, after all, is but another form of the familiar axiom, that in intuition, i.e., in the immediate present, there is no thought, or, that all which is reflected upon has past. Hinc loquor inde est. That, since any thought, there must have been a thought, has its analogue in the fact that, since any past time, there must have been an infinite series of times. To say, therefore, that thought cannot happen in an instant, but requires a time, is but another way of saying that every thought must be interpreted in another, or that all thought is in signs. (CP5-253)

QUESTION 6. Whether a sign can have any meaning, if by its definition it is the sign of something absolutely incognizable.
Answer: A sign cannot have any meaning, if by its definition it is the sign of something absolutely incognizable. In other words, we have no conception of the absolutely incognizable.

It would seem that it can, and that universal and hypothetical propositions are instances of it. Thus, the universal proposition, "all ruminants are cloven-hoofed," speaks of a possible infinity of animals, and no matter how many ruminants may have been examined, the possibility must remain that there are others which have not been examined. In the case of a hypothetical proposition, the same thing is still more manifest; for such a proposition speaks not merely of the actual state of things, but of every possible state of things, all of which are not knowable, inasmuch as only one can so much as exist. (CP5-254)
On the other hand, all our conceptions are obtained by abstractions and combinations of cognitions first occurring in judgments of experience. Accordingly, there can be no conception of the absolutely incognizable, since nothing of that sort occurs in experience. But the meaning of a term is the conception which it conveys. Hence, a term can have no such meaning. (CP5-255)

QUESTION 7. Whether there is any cognition not determined by a previous cognition.
Answer: There is no cognition that is not (logically) determined by a previous cognition. (CP5. 259-263)

Some Consequences of Four Incapacities

With item 1 ("On a New List of Categories") above, one of Peirce's two "strongest philosophical works," this article develops an account of mind and reality from the ground prepared in item 2. Peirce asserts that all mental events are valid inferences, and claims that as every thought is a sign, so man himself is a sign. He also gives a fairly detailed account of his theory of signs as of 1868, and makes his first published declaration for scholastic realism. (Peirce's philosophy of mind as developed here is, according to Christopher Hookway, a type of functionalism.) (Head Notes for the EP 1, item 3)

Excerpt and Condensation:
CP5-264. Descartes is the father of modern philosophy, and the spirit of Cartesianism --that which principally distinguishes it from the scholasticism which it displaced --may be compendiously stated as follows:
  1. It teaches that philosophy must begin with universal doubt; whereas scholasticism had never questioned fundamentals.
  2. It teaches that the ultimate test of certainty is to be found in the individual consciousness; whereas scholasticism had rested on the testimony of sages and of the Catholic Church.
  3. The multiform argumentation of the middle ages is replaced by a single thread of inference depending often upon inconspicuous premisses.
  4. Scholasticism had its mysteries of faith, but undertook to explain all created things. But there are many facts which Cartesianism not only does not explain but renders absolutely inexplicable, unless to say that "God makes them so" is to be regarded as an explanation.

265. In some, or all of these respects, most modern philosophers have been, in effect, Cartesians. Now without wishing to return to scholasticism, it seems to me that modern science and modern logic require us to stand upon a very different platform from this.
1. We cannot begin with complete doubt. We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we enter upon the study of philosophy. These prejudices are not to be dispelled by a maxim, for they are things which it does not occur to us can be questioned. Hence this initial skepticism will be a mere self-deception, and not real doubt; and no one who follows the Cartesian method will ever be satisfied until he has formally recovered all those beliefs which in form he has given up. It is, therefore, as useless a preliminary as going to the North Pole would be in order to get to Constantinople by coming down regularly upon a meridian. A person may, it is true, in the course of his studies, find reason to doubt what he began by believing; but in that case he doubts because he has a positive reason for it, and not on account of the Cartesian maxim. Let us not pretend to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts.
2. The same formalism appears in the Cartesian criterion, which amounts to this: "Whatever I am clearly convinced of, is true." If I were really convinced, I should have done with reasoning and should require no test of certainty. But thus to make single individuals absolute judges of truth is most pernicious.
3. Philosophy ought to imitate the successful sciences in its methods, so far as to proceed only from tangible premisses which can be subjected to careful scrutiny, and to trust rather to the multitude and variety of its arguments than to the conclusiveness of any one.
4. Every unidealistic philosophy supposes some absolutely inexplicable, unanalyzable ultimate; in short, something resulting from mediation itself not susceptible of mediation. Now that anything is thus inexplicable can only be known by reasoning from signs. But the only justification of an inference from signs is that the conclusion explains the fact. To suppose the fact absolutely inexplicable, is not to explain it, and hence this supposition is never allowable.

In the last number of this journal will be found a piece entitled "Questions concerning certain Faculties claimed for Man," [Paper No. I] which has been written in this spirit of opposition to Cartesianism. That criticism of certain faculties resulted in four denials, which for convenience may here be repeated:
1. We have no power of Introspection, but all knowledge of the internal world is derived by hypothetical reasoning from our knowledge of external facts.
2. We have no power of Intuition, but every cognition is determined logically by previous cognitions.
3. We have no power of thinking without signs.
4. We have no conception of the absolutely incognizable.
These propositions cannot be regarded as certain; and, in order to bring them to a further test, it is now proposed to trace them out to their consequences. We may first consider the first alone; then trace the consequences of the first and second; then see what else will result from assuming the third also; and, finally, add the fourth to our hypothetical premisses.

266. In accepting the first proposition, we must put aside all prejudices derived from a philosophy which bases our knowledge of the external world on our self-consciousness. We can admit no statement concerning what passes within us except as a hypothesis necessary to explain what takes place in what we commonly call the external world. Moreover when we have upon such grounds assumed one faculty or mode of action of the mind, we cannot, of course, adopt any other hypothesis for the purpose of explaining any fact which can be explained by our first supposition, but must carry the latter as far as it will go. In other words, we must, as far as we can do so without additional hypotheses, reduce all kinds of mental action to one general type.

267. The class of modifications of consciousness with which we must commence our inquiry must be one whose existence is indubitable, and whose laws are best known, and, therefore (since this knowledge comes from the outside), which most closely follows external facts; that is, it must be some kind of cognition. Here we may hypothetically admit the second proposition of the former paper, according to which there is no absolutely first cognition of any object, but cognition arises by a continuous process. We must begin, then, with a process of cognition, and with that process whose laws are best understood and most closely follow external facts. This is no other than the process of valid inference, which proceeds from its premiss, A, to its conclusion, B, only if, as a matter of fact, such a proposition as B is always or usually true when such a proposition as A is true. It is a consequence, then, of the first two principles whose results we are to trace out, that we must, as far as we can, without any other supposition than that the mind reasons, reduce all mental action to the formula of valid reasoning.

268. But does the mind in fact go through the syllogistic process? It is certainly very doubtful whether a conclusion --as something existing in the mind independently, like an image --suddenly displaces two premisses existing in the mind in a similar way. But it is a matter of constant experience, that if a man is made to believe in the premisses, in the sense that he will act from them and will say that they are true, under favorable conditions he will also be ready to act from the conclusion and to say that that is true. Something, therefore, takes place within the organism which is equivalent to the syllogistic process.

274. All valid reasoning is either deductive, inductive, or hypothetic; or else it combines two or more of these characters. Deduction is pretty well treated in most logical textbooks; but it will be necessary to say a few words about induction and hypothesis in order to render what follows more intelligible.

275. Induction may be defined as an argument which proceeds upon the assumption that all the members of a class or aggregate have all the characters which are common to all those members of this class concerning which it is known, whether they have these characters or not; or, in other words, which assumes that that is true of a whole collection which is true of a number of instances taken from it at random. This might be called statistical argument. In the long run, it must generally afford pretty correct conclusions from true premisses. If we have a bag of beans partly black and partly white, by counting the relative proportions of the two colors in several different handfuls, we can approximate more or less to the relative proportions in the whole bag, since a sufficient number of handfuls would constitute all the beans in the bag. The central characteristic and key to induction is, that by taking the conclusion so reached as major premiss of a syllogism, and the proposition stating that such and such objects are taken from the class in question as the minor premiss, the other premiss of the induction will follow from them deductively.

276. Hypothesis may be defined as an argument which proceeds upon the assumption that a character which is known necessarily to involve a certain number of others, may be probably predicated of any object which has all the characters which this character is known to involve. Just as induction may be regarded as the inference of the major premiss of a syllogism, so hypothesis may be regarded as the inference of the minor premiss, from the other two propositions.

278. But though inference is thus of three essentially different species, it also belongs to one genus.

279. All valid reasoning, therefore, is of one general form; and in seeking to reduce all mental action to the formulæ of valid inference, we seek to reduce it to one single type.

280. An apparent obstacle to the reduction of all mental action to the type of valid inferences is the existence of fallacious reasoning. Every argument implies the truth of a general principle of inferential procedure (whether involving some matter of fact concerning the subject of argument, or merely a maxim relating to a system of signs), according to which it is a valid argument. If this principle is false, the argument is a fallacy; but neither a valid argument from false premisses, nor an exceedingly weak, but not altogether illegitimate, induction or hypothesis, however its force may be over-estimated, however false its conclusion, is a fallacy.

281. Now words, taken just as they stand, if in the form of an argument, thereby do imply whatever fact may be necessary to make the argument conclusive; so that to the formal logician, who has to do only with the meaning of the words according to the proper principles of interpretation, and not with the intention of the speaker as guessed at from other indications, the only fallacies should be such as are simply absurd and contradictory, either because their conclusions are absolutely inconsistent with their premisses, or because they connect propositions by a species of illative conjunction, by which they cannot under any circumstances be validly connected.

282. But to the psychologist an argument is valid only if the premisses from which the mental conclusion is derived would be sufficient, if true, to justify it, either by themselves, or by the aid of other propositions which had previously been held for true. But it is easy to show that all inferences made by man, which are not valid in this sense, belong to four classes, viz.: 1. Those whose premisses are false; 2. Those which have some little force, though only a little; 3. Those which result from confusion of one proposition with another; 4. Those which result from the indistinct apprehension, wrong application, or falsity, of a rule of inference.

283. The third principle whose consequences we have to deduce is, that, whenever we think, we have present to the consciousness some feeling, image, conception, or other representation, which serves as a sign. But it follows from our own existence (which is proved by the occurrence of ignorance and error) that everything which is present to us is a phenomenal manifestation of ourselves. This does not prevent its being a phenomenon of something without us, just as a rainbow is at once a manifestation both of the sun and of the rain. When we think, then, we ourselves, as we are at that moment, appear as a sign. Now a sign has, as such, three references: first, it is a sign to some thought which interprets it; second, it is a sign for some object to which in that thought it is equivalent; third, it is a sign, in some respect or quality, which brings it into connection with its object. Let us ask what the three correlates are to which a thought-sign refers.

290. Thus, we have in thought three elements: first, the representative function which makes it a representation; second, the pure denotative application, or real connection, which brings one thought into relation with another; and third, the material quality, or how it feels, which gives thought its quality.

302. It is important to remember that we have no intuitive power of distinguishing between one subjective mode of cognition and another; and hence often think that something is presented to us as a picture, while it is really constructed from slight data by the understanding.

303. I will now go so far as to say that we have no images even in actual perception.

307. The next question is whether we have any general conceptions except in judgments.
In perception, where we know a thing as existing, it is plain that there is a judgment that the thing exists, since a mere general concept of a thing is in no case a cognition of it as existing.
It has usually been said, however, that we can call up any concept without making any judgment; but it seems that in this case we only arbitrarily suppose ourselves to have an experience.
In order to conceive the number 7, I suppose, that is, I arbitrarily make the hypothesis or judgment, that there are certain points before my eyes, and I judge that these are seven. This seems to be the most simple and rational view of the matter, and I may add that it is the one which has been adopted by the best logicians.
If this be the case, what goes by the name of the association of images is in reality an association of judgments.
The association of ideas is said to proceed according to three principles --those of resemblance, of contiguity, and of causality. But it would be equally true to say that signs denote what they do on the three principles of resemblance, contiguity, and causality. There can be no question that anything is a sign of whatever is associated with it by resemblance, by contiguity, or by causality: nor can there be any doubt that any sign recalls the thing signified. So, then, the association of ideas consists in this, that a judgment occasions another judgment, of which it is the sign. Now this is nothing less nor more than inference.

308. Everything in which we take the least interest creates in us its own particular emotion, however slight this may be. This emotion is a sign and a predicate of the thing. Now, when a thing resembling this thing is presented to us, a similar emotion arises; hence, we immediately infer that the latter is like the former.
A formal logician of the old school may say, that in logic no term can enter into the conclusion which had not been contained in the premisses, and that therefore the suggestion of something new must be essentially different from inference. But I reply that that rule of logic applies only to those arguments which are technically called completed. We can and do reason --
      Elias was a man;
     .•. He was mortal.
And this argument is just as valid as the full syllogism, although it is so only because the major premiss of the latter happens to be true. If to pass from the judgment "Elias was a man" to the judgment "Elias was mortal," without actually saying to one's self that "All men are mortal," is not inference, then the term "inference" is used in so restricted a sense that inferences hardly occur outside of a logic-book.

309. What is here said of association by resemblance is true of all association. All association is by signs. Everything has its subjective or emotional qualities, which are attributed either absolutely or relatively, or by conventional imputation to anything which is a sign of it. And so we reason,
      The sign is such and such;
      .•. The sign is that thing.
This conclusion receiving, however, a modification, owing to other considerations, so as to become --
      The sign is almost (is representative of) that thing.

310. We come now to the consideration of the last of the four principles whose consequences we were to trace; namely, that the absolutely incognizable is absolutely inconceivable. … since the meaning of a word is the conception it conveys, the absolutely incognizable has no meaning because no conception attaches to it. It is, therefore, a meaningless word; and, consequently, whatever is meant by any term as "the real" is cognizable in some degree, and so is of the nature of a cognition, in the objective sense of that term.

311. At any moment we are in possession of certain information, that is, of cognitions which have been logically derived by induction and hypothesis from previous cognitions which are less general, less distinct, and of which we have a less lively consciousness. These in their turn have been derived from others still less general, less distinct, and less vivid; and so on back to the ideal first, which is quite singular, and quite out of consciousness. This ideal first is the particular thing-in-itself. It does not exist as such. That is, there is no thing which is in-itself in the sense of not being relative to the mind, though things which are relative to the mind doubtless are, apart from that relation.
The cognitions which thus reach us by this infinite series of inductions and hypotheses (which though infinite a parte ante logice, is yet as one continuous process not without a beginning in time) are of two kinds, the true and the untrue, or cognitions whose objects are real and those whose objects are unreal.
And what do we mean by the real? It is a conception which we must first have had when we discovered that there was an unreal, an illusion; that is, when we first corrected ourselves. Now the distinction for which alone this fact logically called, was between an ens relative to private inward determinations, to the negations belonging to idiosyncrasy, and an ens such as would stand in the long run.
The real, then, is that which, sooner or later, information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is therefore independent of the vagaries of me and you. Thus, the very origin of the conception of reality shows that this conception essentially involves the notion of a COMMUNITY, without definite limits, and capable of a definite increase of knowledge. And so those two series of cognition --the real and the unreal --consist of those which, at a time sufficiently future, the community will always continue to re-affirm; and of those which, under the same conditions, will ever after be denied.
Now, a proposition whose falsity can never be discovered, and the error of which therefore is absolutely incognizable, contains, upon our principle, absolutely no error. Consequently, that which is thought in these cognitions is the real, as it really is. There is nothing, then, to prevent our knowing outward things as they really are, and it is most likely that we do thus know them in numberless cases, although we can never be absolutely certain of doing so in any special case.

312. But it follows that since no cognition of ours is absolutely determinate, generals must have a real existence. Now this scholastic realism is usually set down as a belief in metaphysical fictions. But, in fact, a realist is simply one who knows no more recondite reality than that which is represented in a true representation. Since, therefore, the word "man" is true of something, that which "man" means is real. The nominalist must admit that man is truly applicable to something; but he believes that there is beneath this a thing in itself, an incognizable reality. His is the metaphysical figment. Modern nominalists are mostly superficial men, who do not know, as the more thorough Roscellinus and Occam did, that a reality which has no representation is one which has no relation and no quality. The great argument for nominalism is that there is no man unless there is some particular man. That, however, does not affect the realism of Scotus; for although there is no man of whom all further determination can be denied, yet there is a man, abstraction being made of all further determination. There is a real difference between man irrespective of what the other determinations may be, and man with this or that particular series of determinations, although undoubtedly this difference is only relative to the mind and not in re. Such is the position of Scotus. Occam's great objection is, there can be no real distinction which is not in re, in the thing-in-itself; but this begs the question for it is itself based only on the notion that reality is something independent of representative relation.

313. Such being the nature of reality in general, in what does the reality of the mind consist? We have seen that the content of consciousness, the entire phenomenal manifestation of mind, is a sign resulting from inference. Upon our principle, therefore, that the absolutely incognizable does not exist, so that the phenomenal manifestation of a substance is the substance, we must conclude that the mind is a sign developing according to the laws of inference. What distinguishes a man from a word? There is a distinction doubtless. The material qualities, the forces which constitute the pure denotative application, and the meaning of the human sign, are all exceedingly complicated in comparison with those of the word. But these differences are only relative. What other is there? It may be said that man is conscious, while a word is not. But consciousness is a very vague term. It may mean that emotion which accompanies the reflection that we have animal life. This is a consciousness which is dimmed when animal life is at its ebb in old age, or sleep, but which is not dimmed when the spiritual life is at its ebb; which is the more lively the better animal a man is, but which is not so, the better man he is. We do not attribute this sensation to words, because we have reason to believe that it is dependent upon the possession of an animal body. But this consciousness, being a mere sensation, is only a part of the material quality of the man-sign. Again, consciousness is sometimes used to signify the I think, or unity in thought; but the unity is nothing but consistency, or the recognition of it. Consistency belongs to every sign, so far as it is a sign; and therefore every sign, since it signifies primarily that it is a sign, signifies its own consistency. The man-sign acquires information, and comes to mean more than he did before. But so do words. Does not electricity mean more now than it did in the days of Franklin? Man makes the word, and the word means nothing which the man has not made it mean, and that only to some man. But since man can think only by means of words or other external symbols, these might turn round and say: "You mean nothing which we have not taught you, and then only so far as you address some word as the interpretant of your thought." In fact, therefore, men and words reciprocally educate each other; each increase of a man's information involves and is involved by, a corresponding increase of a word's information.

314. It is sufficient to say that there is no element whatever of man's consciousness which has not something corresponding to it in the word; and the reason is obvious. It is that the word or sign which man uses is the man himself. For, as the fact that every thought is a sign, taken in conjunction with the fact that life is a train of thought, proves that man is a sign; so, that every thought is an external sign, proves that man is an external sign. That is to say, the man and the external sign are identical, in the same sense in which the words homo and man are identical. Thus my language is the sum total of myself; for the man is the thought.

315. It is hard for man to understand this, because he persists in identifying himself with his will, his power over the animal organism, with brute force. Now the organism is only an instrument of thought. But the identity of a man consists in the consistency of what he does and thinks, and consistency is the intellectual character of a thing; that is, is its expressing something.

316. Finally, as what anything really is, is what it may finally come to be known to be in the ideal state of complete information, so that reality depends on the ultimate decision of the community; so thought is what it is, only by virtue of its addressing a future thought which is in its value as thought identical with it, though more developed. In this way, the existence of thought now depends on what is to be hereafter; so that it has only a potential existence, dependent on the future thought of the community.

317. The individual man, since his separate existence is manifested only by ignorance and error, so far as he is anything apart from his fellows, and from what he and they are to be, is only a negation. This is man,

      ". . . proud man,
      Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
      His glassy essence."


The Fixation of Belief

Here we find Peirce developing his theory of the function of logic, of the nature of belief, and of the scientific method.

*Few persons care to study logic, because everybody conceives himself to be proficient enough in the art of reasoning already. But I observe that this satisfaction is limited to one's own ratiocination, and does not extend to that of other men.
Our power of drawing inferences is not so much a natural gift as a long and difficult art.
We are, doubtless, in the main logical animals, but we are not perfectly so.
Logicality in regard to practical matters is the most useful quality an animal can possess, and might, therefore, result from the action of natural selection.

*The object of reasoning is to find out, from the consideration of what we already know, something else which we do not know; in other words, to acquire new beliefs (conclusions) on the basis of beliefs that we already accept (premises). Consequently, reasoning is good if it be such as to give a true conclusion from true premises.

*That which determines us, from given premises, to draw one inference rather than another, is some habit of mind, which Peirce calls guiding principles of reasoning.
The habit is good or otherwise, according as it produces true conclusions from true premises or not.
A guiding principle of reasoning is logically good if it would never (or in the case of probable inference, seldom) lead us to draw a false conclusion from true premises.

*According to Peirce, the action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought.
Beliefs are really habits of action - the rules we apply regularly to solve our habitual problems. They tell us what to expect and how to act in certain circumstances. They are useful to the degree that they eliminate surprises. If unexpected result occurs, doubt arises and thought is excited in an attempt to form more adequate beliefs.
Thus, the whole function of thought is to produce habits of action.
For example, if one does not know whether a certain person being considered is a friend or foe. It is this type of uneasy state of the mind that gives rise to inquiry, whose sole purpose is to fix belief.

*The true conclusion would remain true if we had no impulse to accept it; and the false one would remain false, though we could not resist the tendency to believe in it.

*This is the first of a series of six papers, collectively titled "Illustrations of the Logic of Science". The objective of the "Illustrations" is "to describe the method of scientific investigation," and they contain, as Peirce later recalled, "the earliest formulation of a method of logical analysis that [I] had had the habit of alluding to as [my] pragmatism,'" or "the tiny seed that under the culture of richer minds, grew into the goodly tree of that same appellation that already begins to afford a comfortable and wholesome lodge for many a soul." In the first paper, he develops his thesis that thought is a form of inquiry, and belief the cessation of doubt, and he emphasizes the self-corrective nature of the scientific method. He further discusses four methods of fixing belief (those of tenacity and of authority, the a priori method, and the method of science) and argues that only the fourth, which alone appeals to an "external permanency," can lead to success in the long run. (Head Notes for the EP 1, Chapter 7)

Excerpt and condensation from Charles S. Peirce's "The Fixation of Belief"

Few persons care to study logic, because everybody conceives himself to be proficient enough in the art of reasoning already. But I observe that this satisfaction is limited to one's own ratiocination, and does not extend to that of other men.

Our power of drawing inferences is not so much a natural gift as a long and difficult art.
The medieval schoolman made logic the earliest of a boy's studies after grammar, as being very easy. So it was as they understood it. Its fundamental principle, according to them, was, that all knowledge rests either on authority or reason; but that whatever is deduced by reason depends ultimately on a premiss derived from authority. Accordingly, as soon as a boy was perfect in the syllogistic procedure, his intellectual kit of tools was held to be complete.

To Roger Bacon, the schoolmen's conception of reasoning appeared only an obstacle to truth. He saw that experience alone teaches anything -- a proposition which to us seems easy to understand. ………..(However), a modern reader is struck by the inadequacy of his view of scientific procedure.

The early scientists, Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Harvey, and Gilbert, had methods more like those of their modern brethren. Kepler undertook to draw a curve through the places of Mars; and to state the times occupied by the planet in describing the different parts of that curve; but perhaps his greatest service to science was in impressing on men's minds that this was the thing to be done if they wished to improve astronomy; that they were not to content themselves with inquiring whether one system of epicycles was better than another but that they were to sit down to the figures and find out what the curve, in truth, was. He accomplished this by his incomparable energy and courage, blundering along in the most inconceivable way (to us), from one irrational hypothesis to another, until, after trying twenty-two of these, he fell, by the mere exhaustion of his invention, upon the orbit which a mind well furnished with the weapons of modern logic would have tried almost at the outset.

In the same way, every work of science great enough to be well remembered for a few generations affords some exemplification of the defective state of the art of reasoning of the time when it was written; and each chief step in science has been a lesson in logic. It was so when Lavoisier and his contemporaries took up the study of Chemistry. The old chemist's maxim had been, "Lege, lege, lege, labora, ora, et relege." Lavoisier's method was not to read and pray, but to dream that some long and complicated chemical process would have a certain effect, to put it into practice with dull patience, after its inevitable failure, to dream that with some modification it would have another result, and to end by publishing the last dream as a fact: his way was to carry his mind into his laboratory, and literally to make of his alembics and cucurbits instruments of thought, giving a new conception of reasoning as something which was to be done with one's eyes open, in manipulating real things instead of words and fancies.

The Darwinian controversy is, in large part, a question of logic. Mr. Darwin proposed to apply the statistical method to biology. The same thing has been done in a widely different branch of science, the theory of gases. Though unable to say what the movements of any particular molecule of gas would be on a certain hypothesis regarding the constitution of this class of bodies, Clausius and Maxwell were yet able, eight years before the publication of Darwin's immortal work, by the application of the doctrine of probabilities, to predict that in the long run such and such a proportion of the molecules would, under given circumstances, acquire such and such velocities; that there would take place, every second, such and such a relative number of collisions, etc.; and from these propositions were able to deduce certain properties of gases, especially in regard to their heat-relations. In like manner, Darwin, while unable to say what the operation of variation and natural selection in any individual case will be, demonstrates that in the long run they will, or would, adapt animals to their circumstances. Whether or not existing animal forms are due to such action, or what position the theory ought to take, forms the subject of a discussion in which questions of fact and questions of logic are curiously interlaced.

The object of reasoning is to find out, from the consideration of what we already know, something else which we do not know. Consequently, reasoning is good if it be such as to give a true conclusion from true premises, and not otherwise. … The question of validity is purely one of fact.
A being the facts stated in the premises and B being that concluded, the question is, whether these facts are really so related that if A were B would generally be. If so, the inference is valid; if not, not.
The true conclusion would remain true if we had no impulse to accept it; and the false one would remain false, though we could not resist the tendency to believe in it.

We are, doubtless, in the main logical animals, but we are not perfectly so.
Logicality in regard to practical matters is the most useful quality an animal can possess, and might, therefore, result from the action of natural selection.

That which determines us, from given premises, to draw one inference rather than another, is some habit of mind, whether it be constitutional or acquired. The habit is good or otherwise, according as it produces true conclusions from true premises or not; and an inference is regarded as valid or not, according as the habit which determines it is such as to produce true conclusions in general or not.
The particular habit of mind which governs this or that inference is called a guiding principle of inference. Suppose, for example, that we observe that a rotating disk of copper quickly comes to rest when placed between the poles of a magnet, and we infer that this will happen with every disk of copper. The guiding principle is, that what is true of one piece of copper is true of another.

A book might be written to signalize all the most important of these guiding principles of reasoning. It would probably be of no service to a person whose thought is directed wholly to practical subjects, who has learned once for all, as matters of routine, to handle his business.
But let a man venture into an unfamiliar field, or where his results are not continually checked by experience, and all history shows that the most masculine intellect will oftentimes lose his orientation and waste his efforts in directions which bring him no nearer to his goal, or even carry him entirely astray. He is like a ship in the open sea, with no one on board who understands the rules of navigation. And in such a case some general study of the guiding principles of reasoning would be sure to be found useful.

The truth is, that common-sense, or thought as it first emerges above the level of the narrowly practical, is deeply imbued with that bad logical quality to which the epithet metaphysical is commonly applied; and nothing can clear it up but a severe course of logic.

We generally know when we wish to ask a question and when we wish to pronounce a judgment, for there is a dissimilarity between the sensation of doubting and that of believing.

But this is not all which distinguishes doubt from belief. There is a practical difference. Our beliefs guide our desires and shape our actions. The Assassins, or followers of the Old Man of the Mountain, used to rush into death at his least command, because they believed that obedience to him would insure everlasting felicity. Had they doubted this, they would not have acted as they did. So it is with every belief, according to its degree. The feeling of believing is a more or less sure indication of there being established in our nature some habit which will determine our actions. Doubt never has such an effect.

Doubt is an uneasy and dissatisfied state from which we struggle to free ourselves and pass into the state of belief, a calm and satisfactory state. We cling tenaciously, not merely to believing, but to believing just what we do believe.

Thus, both doubt and belief have positive effects upon us, though very different ones. Belief does not make us act at once, but puts us into such a condition that we shall behave in some certain way, when the occasion arises. Doubt has not the least such active effect, but stimulates us to inquiry until it is destroyed. This reminds us of reflex action in the nervous system -- for example, to that habit of which the smell of a peach will make the mouth water.

The irritation of doubt causes a struggle to attain a state of belief. I shall term this struggle inquiry.

The irritation of doubt is the only immediate motive for the struggle to attain belief. With the doubt, therefore, the struggle begins, and with the cessation of doubt it ends. Hence, the sole object of inquiry is the settlement of opinion. We may fancy that this is not enough for us, and that we seek, not merely an opinion, but a true opinion. But put this fancy to the test, and it proves groundless; for as soon as a firm belief is reached we are entirely satisfied, whether the belief be true or false.

If the settlement of opinion is the sole object of inquiry, and if belief is of the nature of a habit, why should we not attain the desired end?

The method of tenacity
A man may go through life, systematically keeping out of view all that might cause a change in his opinions. I do not see what can be said against his doing so and it would be an egotistical impertinence to object that his procedure is irrational.
But this method of fixing belief, which may be called the method of tenacity, will be unable to hold its ground in practice. The social impulse is against it. The man who adopts it will find that other men think differently from him, and it will be apt to occur to him, in some saner moment, that their opinions are quite as good as his own, and this will shake his confidence in his belief. This conception, that another man's thought or sentiment may be equivalent to one's own, is a distinctly new step, and a highly important one. It arises from an impulse too strong in man to be suppressed. Unless we make ourselves hermits, we shall necessarily influence each other's opinions; so that the problem becomes how to fix belief, not in the individual merely, but in the community.

The method of authority
This method has, from the earliest times, been one of the chief means of upholding correct theological and political doctrines.
But no institution can undertake to regulate opinions upon every subject.

The a priori method
Systems of this sort have not usually rested upon any observed facts, at least not in any great degree. They have been chiefly adopted because their fundamental propositions seemed "agreeable to reason." This is an apt expression; it does not mean that which agrees with experience, but that which we find ourselves inclined to believe. Plato, for example, finds it agreeable to reason that the distances of the celestial spheres from one another should be proportional to the different lengths of strings which produce harmonious chords. Many philosophers have been led to their main conclusions by considerations like this; but this is the lowest and least developed form which the method takes, for it is clear that another man might find Kepler's theory, that the celestial spheres are proportional to the inscribed and circumscribed spheres of the different regular solids, more agreeable to his reason.
This method is far more intellectual and respectable from the point of view of reason than either of the others which we have noticed. But its failure has been the most manifest. It makes of inquiry something similar to the development of taste; but taste, unfortunately, is always more or less a matter of fashion, and accordingly metaphysicians have never come to any fixed agreement, but the pendulum has swung backward and forward between a more material and a more spiritual philosophy, from the earliest times to the latest.

The method of science
To satisfy our doubts, therefore, it is necessary that a method should be found by which our beliefs may be determined by nothing human, but by some external permanency -- by something upon which our thinking has no effect. Our external permanency would not be external, in our sense, if it was restricted in its influence to one individual. It must be something which affects, or might affect, every man. And, though these affections are necessarily as various as are individual conditions, yet the method must be such that the ultimate conclusion of every man shall be the same. Such is the method of science. Its fundamental hypothesis, restated in more familiar language, is this: There are Real things, whose characters are entirely independent of our opinions about them; those Reals affect our senses according to regular laws, and, though our sensations are as different as are our relations to the objects, yet, by taking advantage of the laws of perception, we can ascertain by reasoning how things really and truly are; and any man, if he have sufficient experience and he reason enough about it, will be led to the one True conclusion. … This is the only one of the four methods which presents any distinction of a right and a wrong way.
(Note: Changes of opinion are brought about by events beyond human control. All mankind were so firmly of opinion that heavy bodies must fall faster than light ones, that any other view was scouted as absurd, eccentric, and probably insincere. Yet as soon as some of the absurd and eccentric men could succeed in inducing some of the adherents of common sense to look at their experiments --no easy task --it became apparent that nature would not follow human opinion, however unanimous. So there was nothing for it but human opinion must move to nature's position.)

If I adopt the method of tenacity, and shut myself out from all influences, whatever I think necessary to doing this, is necessary according to that method.
So with the method of authority: the state may try to put down heresy by means which, from a scientific point of view, seem very ill-calculated to accomplish its purposes; but the only test on that method is what the state thinks; so that it cannot pursue the method wrongly.
So with the a priori method. The very essence of it is to think as one is inclined to think. All metaphysicians will be sure to do that, however they may be inclined to judge each other to be perversely wrong.

But with the scientific method the case is different. I may start with known and observed facts to proceed to the unknown; and yet the rules which I follow in doing so may not be such as investigation would approve. The test of whether I am truly following the method is not an immediate appeal to my feelings and purposes, but, on the contrary, itself involves the application of the method. Hence it is that bad reasoning as well as good reasoning is possible; and this fact is the foundation of the practical side of logic.

It is not to be supposed that the first three methods of settling opinion present no advantage whatever over the scientific method. On the contrary, each has some peculiar convenience of its own.

The a priori method is distinguished for its comfortable conclusions. It is the nature of the process to adopt whatever belief we are inclined to, and there are certain flatteries to the vanity of man which we all believe by nature, until we are awakened from our pleasing dream by rough facts.

The method of authority will always govern the mass of mankind; and those who wield the various forms of organized force in the state will never be convinced that dangerous reasoning ought not to be suppressed in some way. If liberty of speech is to be untrammeled from the grosser forms of constraint, then uniformity of opinion will be secured by a moral terrorism to which the respectability of society will give its thorough approval. Following the method of authority is the path of peace. Certain non-conformities are permitted; certain others (considered unsafe) are forbidden. These are different in different countries and in different ages; but, wherever you are, let it be known that you seriously hold a tabooed belief, and you may be perfectly sure of being treated with a cruelty less brutal but more refined than hunting you like a wolf. Thus, the greatest intellectual benefactors of mankind have never dared, and dare not now, to utter the whole of their thought; and thus a shade of prima facie doubt is cast upon every proposition which is considered essential to the security of society. Singularly enough, the persecution does not all come from without; but a man torments himself and is oftentimes most distressed at finding himself believing propositions which he has been brought up to regard with aversion. The peaceful and sympathetic man will, therefore, find it hard to resist the temptation to submit his opinions to authority.

But most of all I admire the method of tenacity for its strength, simplicity, and directness. Men who pursue it are distinguished for their decision of character, which becomes very easy with such a mental rule. They do not waste time in trying to make up their minds what they want, but, fastening like lightning upon whatever alternative comes first, they hold to it to the end, whatever happens, without an instant's irresolution. This is one of the splendid qualities which generally accompany brilliant, unlasting success. It is impossible not to envy the man who can dismiss reason, although we know how it must turn out at last.

Such are the advantages which the other methods of settling opinion have over scientific investigation. A man should consider well of them; and then he should consider that, after all, he wishes his opinions to coincide with the fact, and that there is no reason why the results of those three first methods should do so. However, to bring about this effect is the prerogative of the method of science.

Yes, the other methods do have their merits: a clear logical conscience does cost something -- just as any virtue, just as all that we cherish, costs us dear. But we should not desire it to be otherwise. The genuis of a man's logical method should be loved and reverenced as his bride; and he will work and fight for her.



Comments on Charles S. Peirce's "The Fixation of Belief"

There are a number of ways to fix a belief and Peirce mentions four: the method of tenacity, the method of authority, the a priori method, and the scientific method.

One is following the method of tenacity if one refuses to change one’s habit; that is, one always acts the same way, given the same conditions, that one has in the past.
One is following the method of authority if a person acts a certain way under certain conditions because some given authority tells him or her to act that way under those conditions.
One is following the a priori method when a person acts a certain way under certain conditions because he or she is inclined so to act under those conditions, or feels it is reasonable so to act.
One is following the scientific method when a person takes all beliefs as hypotheses to be spelled out pragmatically in terms of future expectations and to be tested by future experiences of the community of scientific inquirers.

We all use all four of these methods for fixing our beliefs, and all four have positive value and should not be ruled out indiscriminately. If one wants consistency and decisiveness of action, then one should use the method of tenacity. If one wants a social group to have internal stability, then, as every totalitarian leader knows, the method of authority should be used. If one wishes to feel good about one’s beliefs or to be in style, then the a prior method should be used. If one wishes the truth, then that person should be a member of a community that uses the scientific method.

The point Peirce wished to make here is that a person’s goals determine the choice of method. However, scientific method is the only one that guarantees truth.

How can we fix our beliefs in such a way that we are unlikely to fall back to a state of doubt?
In “The Fixation of Belief” Peirce discussed four methods:
1. The method of tenacity. On this method, opinion is settled purely by obstinately holding on to one’s beliefs with all one’s might; one develops a habit of despising and offhandedly rejecting everything that challenges one’s own beliefs.
In Peirce’s view this method only works up to a point. Our confidence in our own beliefs is too easily shaken when interacting with others, or when we are confronted with brute facts.
2. The method of authority. On this method, belief is not fixed by the individual itself, but is enforced by a social institution, such as the church or state.
The method of authority has a far better chance of success than the method of tenacity. The history of organized religion testifies to this. However, as no institution can undertake to regulate opinion on every subject, this method too is unlikely to fix belief in the long run.
3. The a priori method. On this method, belief is fixed by seeking out beliefs that are agreeable to reason. With this Peirce is not thinking of beliefs that agree with empirical facts, but beliefs that we find ourselves inclined to believe because they, so to say, “sound good”.
Although Peirce found this method superior to the first two, he still denied that this method is likely to result in stable belief. He observes, “The opinions which today seem most unshakable are found tomorrow to be out of fashion”. This means that a prior method is unlikely to result in a stable belief.
This third method differs from the first two in an important respect. a prior method determines what is to be believed, namely, one should believe what is agreeable to reason. Consequently, this time there is an intrinsic relation between the belief and how adherence to the belief is secured. Such a relation is absent in the previous two methods, where the content of the belief is wholly immaterial to how the belief is attained.
4. The scientific method. This method differs from the first three in that the fixation of the belief is no longer a purely human endeavor, in the sense that what ideas are fixed is ultimately determined by what we wish to believe. In its stead our beliefs are determined “by something upon which our thinking has no effect”.
As opposed to the first three methods, where human understanding sets the terms, the scientific method proceeds from the recognition that nature does not accommodate itself to our beliefs, but that our beliefs must accommodate themselves to nature. Hence, we fix our beliefs by having external realities guide our thoughts, as opposed to having our thoughts guide themselves.


How to Make Our Ideas Clear

This paper criticizes Descartes' doctrine of the clearness of ideas and goes on to develop Peirce's own theory, according to which there are three levels or grades of clearness. The theory of meaning associated with the third grade of clearness is represented in the pragmatic maxim (and is sometimes thought of as an operationalist theory). Peirce ends the paper by applying the pragmatic maxim in his examination of the meaning of several conceptions, including 'realism'. (He later thought that his early pragmatism was too nominalistic.) (Head Notes for the EP 1, Chapter 8)

According to Descartes and Leibnitz, a proposition is “true and certain” insofar as it is clear and distinct to the mind. A clear and distinct idea contains nothing which is not clear. It is so clear and so distinct that it is recognized unmistakably without the possibility of confusing it with any other idea; and we can give a precise definition of it.
Peirce set out to clarify and to improve the conception of Descartes’ and Leibnitz's writings. He believes that in order to make our ideas clear we need to know what we think, in other word, to understand the logic of the mind. The very first lesson that we have a right to demand that logic shall teach us is, how to make our ideas clear.
Peirce pragmatic maxim for clarifying ideas derives from this account of mind. His most famous statement of this is: “Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object”.
In other words, the meaning of a concept derives from its conceivable “practical consequences”.
This view is that we clarify an idea by considering its “practical consequences”.
Peirce argued that his maxim provides a higher degree of clearness than Descartes’s and Leibnitz's notions of clarity and distinctness since it provides a rule for testing whether the concept applies.
According to Peirce, the whole function of thought is to produce habits of action. Habits are rules that determine how we act in certain circumstances. Thus, the meaning of the word “chair” is related, not to certain sense-data, but to the circumstances that the conception of chair invokes in us the habit to sit on it.

Peirce developed his theory of truth by applying the pragmatic maxim to the concept of reality. He held that the truth is “the opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate … and the object represented in this opinion is the real.” The real is “that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be” and that which the community of observers will agree in the long run.

Summary and commentary of Peirce's "How to Make Our Ideas Clear"

Peirce argues that there are three different grades of clearness that our ideas can reach.
The first and lowest grade of clearness that Peirce distinguishes is obtained when an idea is “so apprehended that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it”. Our idea of “chair” is of this kind. We recognize a chair the moment we see one. Similarly, the pawnbroker who can see instantly whether a piece of jewelry is made of gold has a clear idea of gold. (ON PRAGMATISM 18)
      A clear idea is defined as one which is so apprehended that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it. If it fails of this clearness, it is said to be obscure. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-389)

For many of our conceptions, the clearness with which we apprehend them does not extent beyond this first level. In Peirce’s view, however, this first grade of clearness is not substantial enough to act as a criterion of meaning. (ON PRAGMATISM 18)
      On the other hand, merely to have such an acquaintance with the idea as to have become familiar with it, and to have lost all hesitancy in recognizing it in ordinary cases, hardly seems to deserve the name of clearness of apprehension, since after all it only amounts to a subjective feeling of mastery which may be entirely mistaken. I take it, however, that when the logicians speak of "clearness," they mean nothing more than such a familiarity with an idea, since they regard the quality as but a small merit, which needs to be supplemented by another, which they call distinctness. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-389)

The second grade of clearness is obtained when the idea does not merely seem clear at the outset, as with the first method, but can also be demarcated with enough precision to sustain the test of dialectical examination, meaning that subsequent discussions will not bring to light any points of obscurity connected with it. This second grade of clearness is traditionally obtained by developing abstract criteria that unambiguously determine what falls under the conception and what does not. The scientific definition of gold is an example of an idea that has reached this second grade of clearness. By this definition, gold is defined as the element that has atomic number 79, meaning that it has exactly 79 protons in its nucleus. This definition uniquely determines gold, since no other element has this atomic number. Peirce’s second grade of clearness comes close to the traditional notion of clear and distinct ideas that is found in Descartes, Leibniz and others. (ON PRAGMATISM 18)
      A distinct idea is defined as one which contains nothing which is not clear. This is technical language; by the contents of an idea logicians understand whatever is contained in its definition. So that an idea is distinctly apprehended, according to them, when we can give a precise definition of it, in abstract terms. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-390)

A problem with definition like these is that they are made entirely in the abstract. Consequently, they do not provide any guidelines on how to determine whether an object we encounter actually falls under it; they do not even reveal whether they apply to anything to begin with. There are excellent definitions of centaurs, but that does not mean that centaurs exist. (ON PRAGMATISM 18)
      Descartes sought a more natural fountain of true principles, and thought he found it in the human mind; thus passing, in the directest way, from the method of authority to that of apriority, as described in my first paper. Self-consciousness was to furnish us with our fundamental truths, and to decide what was agreeable to reason. But since, evidently, not all ideas are true, he was led to note, as the first condition of infallibility, that they must be clear. The distinction between an idea seeming clear and really being so, never occurred to him. Trusting to introspection, as he did, even for a knowledge of external things, why should he question its testimony in respect to the contents of our own minds? But then, I suppose, seeing men, who seemed to be quite clear and positive, holding opposite opinions upon fundamental principles, he was further led to say that clearness of ideas is not sufficient, but that they need also to be distinct, i.e., to have nothing unclear about them. What he probably meant by this (for he did not explain himself with precision) was, that they must sustain the test of dialectical examination; that they must not only seem clear at the outset, but that discussion must never be able to bring to light points of obscurity connected with them. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-391)
Leibnitz, in adopting the distinction of clear and distinct notions, described the latter quality as the clear apprehension of everything contained in the definition; and the books have ever since copied his words. There is no danger that his chimerical scheme will ever again be over-valued. Nothing new can ever be learned by analyzing definitions. Nevertheless, our existing beliefs can be set in order by this process, and order is an essential element of intellectual economy, as of every other. It may be acknowledged, therefore, that the books are right in making familiarity with a notion the first step toward clearness of apprehension, and the defining of it the second. But in omitting all mention of any higher perspicuity of thought, they simply mirror a philosophy which was exploded a hundred years ago. That much-admired "ornament of logic" -- the doctrine of clearness and distinctness -- may be pretty enough, but it is high time to relegate to our cabinet of curiosities the antique bijou, and to wear about us something better adapted to modern uses. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-392)

The very first lesson that we have a right to demand that logic shall teach us is, how to make our ideas clear. ... To know what we think, to be masters of our own meaning, will make a solid foundation for great and weighty thought. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-393)

Peirce’s conception of meaning follows directly from the doubt-belief theory of inquiry he developed in “The fixation of Belief”. If the sole purpose of inquiry is to establish belief, and if belief is a habit or a disposition to act, then the meaning of a word, sentence, or road sign must naturally be understood in terms of the habits connected with it; that is to say, in terms of how it leads us to act. I know what words such as “chair” and “cauliflower” mean when I associate with them certain reasonably well-defined habitual response or attitudes. Peirce goes even further. For him, those responses or attitudes actually determine what those words mean: they constitute their entire meaning. … As Peirce puts it concisely, “What a thing means is simply what habits it involves”. (ON PRAGMATISM 17-18)

      And what, then, is belief? … We have seen that it has just three properties: First, it is something that we are aware of; second, it appeases the irritation of doubt; and, third, it involves the establishment in our nature of a rule of action, or, say for short, a habit. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-397)
      From all these sophisms we shall be perfectly safe so long as we reflect that the whole function of thought is to produce habits of action. ..,,, To develop its meaning, we have, therefore, simply to determine what habits it produces, for what a thing means is simply what habits it involves. .... What the habit is depends on when and how it causes us to act. As for the when, every stimulus to action is derived from perception; as for the how, every purpose of action is to produce some sensible result. Thus, we come down to what is tangible and conceivably practical, as the root of every real distinction of thought, no matter how subtile it may be; and there is no distinction of meaning so fine as to consist in anything but a possible difference of practice. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-400)

      It appears, then, that the rule for attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-402)

Application of this maxim to a conception of the second grade of clearness gives us what Peirce calls the third grade of clearness. A crucial advantage of this third grade of clearness is that it relates meaning directly to the process of inquiry, instead of imposing it upon inquiry from without as an abstract definition. (ON PRAGMATISM 19)

In short, pragmatism is, for Peirce, a method for ascertaining the meaning of concepts, ideas, beliefs, claims, propositions, etc., of anything that can act a sign. This view Peirce would maintain his whole life. As he told the audience of his “Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism” in 1903, “One of the faults that I think [the new pragmatists] might find with me is that I make pragmatism to be a mere maxim of logic instead of a sublime principle of speculative philosophy”. What pragmatism boils down to, Peirce explains not much later in the same lecture, is the ability to say “here is a definition and it does not differ at all from your confusedly apprehended conception because there is no practical difference”. (ON PRAGMATISM 19)

1) Let us ask what we mean by calling a thing hard. Evidently that it will not be scratched by many other substances. The whole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceived effects. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-403)

However, Peirce also stated that “There is absolutely no difference between a hard thing and a soft thing so long as they are not brought to the test. ….. Suppose, then, that a diamond could be crystallized in the midst of a cushion of soft cotton, and should remain there until it was finally burned up. Would it be false to say that that diamond was soft? …. We may, in the present case, modify our question, and ask what prevents us from saying that all hard bodies remain perfectly soft until they are touched, when their hardness increases with the pressure until they are scratched. Reflection will show that the reply is this: there would be no falsity in such modes of speech.” (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-403)

Comment: This is Peirce’s nominalist view in 1878. In his later years, he would return to his view in 1873 and held a realist position.

      “I myself went too far in the direction of nominalism when I said that it was a mere question of the convenience of speech whether we say that a diamond is hard when it is not pressed upon, or whether we say that it is soft until it is pressed upon. I now say that experiment will prove that the diamond is hard, as a positive fact. That is, it is a real fact that it would resist pressure, which amounts to extreme scholastic realism. I deny that pragmaticism as originally defined by me made the intellectual purport of symbols to consist in our conduct. On the contrary, I was most careful to say that it consists in our concept of what our conduct would be upon conceivable occasions.” (CP8-208)
      Peirce uses “nominalism” to refer to any theory that does not take the real separate existence of laws, generalities, possibilities etc. seriously. His earlier explanation of possibilities or “would-bes” in terms of properties of knowers, then, counts, for him, as “nominalism.” As such, Peirce’s adoption of a realist position on possibility, that is a commitment to possibilities or “would-bes” as independently real, around 1896/97 provided the foundation for a significant change in his pragmatism. (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy/Albert Atkin: Charles Sanders Peirce: Pragmatism)

I must show that the will be's, the actually is's, and the have beens are not the sum of the reals. They only cover actuality. There are besides would be's and can be's that are real. The distinction is that the actual is subject both to the principles of contradiction and of excluded middle; and in one way so are the would be's and can be's. In that way a would be is but the negation of a can be and conversely. But in another way a would be is not subject to the principle of excluded middle; both would be X and would be not X may be false. (Peirce's CORRESPONDENCE TO PAUL CARUS, ON "ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE LOGIC OF SCIENCE" - CP8-216)
It certainly can be proved very clearly that the Universe does contain both would be's and can be's. (CP8-217)

2) Applying the pragmatic maxim to scientific conceptions, such as weight or force, results in more-defined conceptions than we would have otherwise. (ON PRAGMATISM 20)

Let us next seek a clear idea of Weight. … To say that a body is heavy means simply that, in the absence of opposing force, it will fall. This … is evidently the whole conception of weight. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-403)

This leads us to undertake an account of the idea of Force in general. ….. According to our rule, we must begin by asking what is the immediate use of thinking about force; and the answer is, that we thus account for changes of motion. If bodies were left to themselves, without the intervention of forces, every motion would continue unchanged both in velocity and in direction. (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-404)
This is the only fact which the idea of force represents, and whoever will take the trouble clearly to apprehend what this fact is, perfectly comprehends what force is. Whether we ought to say that a force is an acceleration, or that it causes an acceleration, is a mere question of propriety of language, which has no more to do with our real meaning than the difference between the French idiom "Il fait froid" and its English equivalent "It is cold." (How to Make Our Ideas Clear CP5-404)

3) In contrast, the notion of transubstantiation – the change of bread and wind into the body and blood of Christ during the Eucharist – fails the pragmatic test. According to Catholic dogma, the bread and wine literally change into the body and blood of Christ but do so without changing any of their perceptible qualities. That is to say, after the transubstantiation, the two still look, taste, and smell like ordinary bread and wine. ……. However, when we apply Peirce’s pragmatic maxim to the concept of transubstantiation, the idea is directly shown to be devoid of meaning because, by its very definition, transubstantiation can have no conceivable practical bearings. (ON PRAGMATISM 20)


Excerpt and condensation from Charles S. Peirce's "How to Make Our Ideas Clear"

Whoever has looked into a modern treatise on logic of the common sort, will doubtless remember the two distinctions between clear and obscure conceptions, and between distinct and confused conceptions. A clear idea is defined as one which is so apprehended that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it. If it fails of this clearness, it is said to be obscure.

Since it is clearness that they were defining, I wish the logicians had made their definition a little more plain; never to fail to recognize an idea, and under no circumstances to mistake another for it. On the other hand, merely to have such an acquaintance with the idea as to have become familiar with it, and to have lost all hesitancy in recognizing it in ordinary cases, hardly seems to deserve the name of clearness of apprehension, since after all it only amounts to a subjective feeling of mastery which may be entirely mistaken. I take it, however, that when the logicians speak of "clearness," they mean nothing more than such a familiarity with an idea, since they regard the quality as but a small merit, which needs to be supplemented by another, which they call distinctness.

A distinct idea is defined as one which contains nothing which is not clear. This is technical language; by the contents of an idea logicians understand whatever is contained in its definition. So, an idea is distinctly apprehended when we can give a precise definition of it, in abstract terms.

When Descartes set about the reconstruction of philosophy, his first step was to (theoretically) permit scepticism and to discard the practice of the schoolmen of looking to authority as the ultimate source of truth. That done, he sought a more natural fountain of true principles, and thought he found it in the human mind; thus passing, in the directest way, from the method of authority to that of apriority, as described in my first paper. Self-consciousness was to furnish us with our fundamental truths, and to decide what was agreeable to reason. But since, evidently, not all ideas are true, he was led to note, as the first condition of infallibility, that they must be clear. The distinction between an idea seeming clear and really being so, never occurred to him. Trusting to introspection, as he did, even for a knowledge of external things, why should he question its testimony in respect to the contents of our own minds? But then, I suppose, seeing men, who seemed to be quite clear and positive, holding opposite opinions upon fundamental principles, he was further led to say that clearness of ideas is not sufficient, but that they need also to be distinct, i.e., to have nothing unclear about them. What he probably meant by this (for he did not explain himself with precision) was, that they must sustain the test of dialectical examination; that they must not only seem clear at the outset, but that discussion must never be able to bring to light points of obscurity connected with them.

Such was the distinction of Descartes, and one sees that it was precisely on the level of his philosophy. It was somewhat developed by Leibnitz. Leibnitz missed the most essential point of the Cartesian philosophy, which is, that we cannot help but to accept propositions which seem perfectly evident to us, whether it be logical or illogical. Instead, he sought to reduce the first principles of science to two classes, those which cannot be denied without self-contradiction, and those which result from the principle of sufficient reason, and was apparently unaware of the great difference between his position and that of Descartes. So he reverted to the old trivialities of logic; and, above all, abstract definitions played a great part in his philosophy. It was quite natural, therefore, that on observing that the method of Descartes labored under the difficulty that we may seem to ourselves to have clear apprehensions of ideas which in truth are very hazy, no better remedy occurred to him than to require an abstract definition of every important term. Accordingly, in adopting the distinction of clear and distinct notions, he described the latter quality as the clear apprehension of everything contained in the definition; and the books have ever since copied his words. There is no danger that his chimerical scheme will ever again be over-valued. Nothing new can ever be learned by analyzing definitions. Nevertheless, our existing beliefs can be set in order by this process, and order is an essential element of intellectual economy, as of every other. It may be acknowledged, therefore, that the books are right in making familiarity with a notion the first step toward clearness of apprehension, and the defining of it the second. But in omitting all mention of any higher perspicuity of thought, they simply mirror a philosophy which was exploded a hundred years ago. That much-admired "ornament of logic" -- the doctrine of clearness and distinctness -- may be pretty enough, but it is high time to relegate to our cabinet of curiosities the antique bijou, and to wear about us something better adapted to modern uses.

[Sumary note: A clear and distinct idea is defined as one which contains nothing which is not clear; that it will be recognized wherever it is met with, and so that no other will be mistaken for it; and that it is distinctly apprehended, that we can give a precise definition of it..]

The doctrine of clearness and distinctness -- may be pretty enough, but it is high time to relegate to our cabinet of curiosities the antique bijou, and to wear about us something better adapted to modern uses.

The very first lesson that we have a right to demand that logic shall teach us is, how to make our ideas clear; and a most important one it is, depreciated only by minds who stand in need of it. To know what we think, to be masters of our own meaning, will make a solid foundation for great and weighty thought.

The principles set forth in the first part of this essay lead, at once, to a method of reaching a clearness of thought of higher grade than the "distinctness" of the logicians. It was there noticed that the action of thought is excited by the irritation of doubt, and ceases when belief is attained; so that the production of belief is the sole function of thought.

Doubt and Belief, here I use them to designate the starting of any question, no matter how small or how great, and the resolution of it. If, for instance, in a horse-car, I pull out my purse and find a five-cent nickel and five coppers, I decide, while my hand is going to the purse, in which way I will pay my fare. To call such a question Doubt, and my decision Belief, is certainly to use words very disproportionate to the occasion. To speak of such a doubt as causing an irritation which needs to be appeased, suggests a temper which is uncomfortable to the verge of insanity. Yet, looking at the matter minutely, it must be admitted that, if there is the least hesitation as to whether I shall pay the five coppers or the nickel (as there will be sure to be, unless I act from some previously contracted habit in the matter), though irritation is too strong a word, yet I am excited to such small mental activity as may be necessary to deciding how I shall act. Most frequently doubts arise from some indecision, however momentary, in our action. Sometimes it is not so. I have, for example, to wait in a railway-station, and to pass the time I read the advertisements on the walls. I compare the advantages of different trains and different routes which I never expect to take, merely fancying myself to be in a state of hesitancy, because I am bored with having nothing to trouble me. Feigned hesitancy, whether feigned for mere amusement or with a lofty purpose, plays a great part in the production of scientific inquiry. However the doubt may originate, it stimulates the mind to an activity which may be slight or energetic, calm or turbulent. Images pass rapidly through consciousness, one incessantly melting into another, until at last, when all is over -- it may be in a fraction of a second, in an hour, or after long years -- we find ourselves decided as to how we should act under such circumstances as those which occasioned our hesitation. In other words, we have attained belief.

And what, then, is belief? We have seen that it has just three properties: First, it is something that we are aware of; second, it appeases the irritation of doubt; and, third, it involves the establishment in our nature of a rule of action, or, say for short, a habit. As it appeases the irritation of doubt, which is the motive for thinking, thought relaxes, and comes to rest for a moment when belief is reached. But, since belief is a rule for action, the application of which involves further doubt and further thought, at the same time that it is a stopping-place, it is also a new starting-place for thought. That is why I have permitted myself to call it thought at rest, although thought is essentially an action.

The essence of belief is the establishment of a habit; and different beliefs are distinguished by the different modes of action to which they give rise. If beliefs do not differ in this respect, if they appease the same doubt by producing the same rule of action, then no mere differences in the manner of consciousness of them can make them different beliefs, any more than playing a tune in different keys is playing different tunes.

Imaginary distinctions are often drawn between beliefs which differ only in their mode of expression; yet it is conceivable that a man should assert one proposition and deny the other. Such false distinctions do as much harm as the confusion of beliefs really different, and are among the pitfalls of which we ought constantly to beware, especially when we are upon metaphysical ground. One singular deception of this sort, which often occurs, is to mistake the sensation produced by our own unclearness of thought for a character of the object we are thinking. Instead of perceiving that the obscurity is purely subjective, we fancy that we contemplate a quality of the object which is essentially mysterious; and if our conception be afterward presented to us in a clear form we do not recognize it as the same, owing to the absence of the feeling of unintelligibility. So long as this deception lasts, it obviously puts an impassable barrier in the way of perspicuous thinking; so that it equally interests the opponents of rational thought to perpetuate it, and its adherents to guard against it.

Another such deception is to mistake a mere difference in the grammatical construction of two words for a distinction between the ideas they express.

The whole function of thought is to produce habits of action.
To develop its meaning, we have, therefore, simply to determine what habits it produces, for what a thing means is simply what habits it involves. Now, the identity of a habit depends on how it might lead us to act.
What the habit is depends on when and how it causes us to act. As for the when, every stimulus to action is derived from perception; as for the how, every purpose of action is to produce some sensible result. Thus, we come down to what is tangible and conceivably practical, as the root of every real distinction of thought, no matter how subtile it may be; and there is no distinction of meaning so fine as to consist in anything but a possible difference of practice.

It appears, then, that the rule for attaining the third grade of clearness of apprehension is as follows: Consider what effects, that might conceivably have practical bearings, we conceive the object of our conception to have. Then, our conception of these effects is the whole of our conception of the object.

Let us illustrate this rule by some examples; and, to begin with the simplest one possible, let us ask what we mean by calling a thing hard. Evidently that it will not be scratched by many other substances. The whole conception of this quality, as of every other, lies in its conceived effects. There is absolutely no difference between a hard thing and a soft thing so long as they are not brought to the test.
Suppose, then, that a diamond could be crystallized in the midst of a cushion of soft cotton, and should remain there until it was finally burned up. Would it be false to say that that diamond was soft? This seems a foolish question, and would be so, in fact, except in the realm of logic. There such questions are often of the greatest utility as serving to bring logical principles into sharper relief than real discussions ever could. In studying logic we must not put them aside with hasty answers, but must consider them with attentive care, in order to make out the principles involved. We may, in the present case, modify our question, and ask what prevents us from saying that all hard bodies remain perfectly soft until they are touched, when their hardness increases with the pressure until they are scratched. Reflection will show that the reply is this: there would be no falsity in such modes of speech. They would involve a modification of our present usage of speech with regard to the words hard and soft, but not of their meanings. For they represent no fact to be different from what it is; only they involve arrangements of facts which would be exceedingly maladroit. This leads us to remark that the question of what would occur under circumstances which do not actually arise is not a question of fact, but only of the most perspicuous arrangement of them.

Let us next seek a clear idea of Weight. This is another very easy case. To say that a body is heavy means simply that, in the absence of opposing force, it will fall. This … is evidently the whole conception of weight.

This leads us to undertake an account of the idea of Force in general. …. According to our rule, we must begin by asking what is the immediate use of thinking about force; and the answer is, that we thus account for changes of motion. If bodies were left to themselves, without the intervention of forces, every motion would continue unchanged both in velocity and in direction .
This is the only fact which the idea of force represents, and whoever will take the trouble clearly to apprehend what this fact is, perfectly comprehends what force is. Whether we ought to say that a force is an acceleration, or that it causes an acceleration, is a mere question of propriety of language, which has no more to do with our real meaning than the difference between the French idiom "Il fait froid" and its English equivalent "It is cold."

Let us now approach the subject of logic, and consider a conception which particularly concerns it, that of reality. No idea could be clearer than this. Every child uses it with perfect confidence, never dreaming that he does not understand it. However, to give an abstract definition of the real would probably puzzle most men, even among those of a reflective turn of mind. Yet such a definition may perhaps be reached by considering the points of difference between reality and its opposite, fiction. A figment is a product of somebody's imagination; it has such characters as his thought impresses upon it. There are phenomena within our own minds, dependent upon our thought. Thus we may define the real as that whose characters are independent of what anybody may think them to be.

But, however satisfactory such a definition may be found, it would be a great mistake to suppose that it makes the idea of reality perfectly clear. Here, then, let us apply our rules. According to them, reality, like every other quality, consists in the peculiar sensible effects which things partaking of it produce. The only effect which real things have is to cause belief, for all the sensations which they excite emerge into consciousness in the form of beliefs. The question therefore is, how is true belief (or belief in the real) distinguished from false belief (or belief in fiction). Now, as we have seen in the former paper (“The Fixation of Belief"), the ideas of truth and falsehood, in their full development, appertain exclusively to the experiential method of settling opinion. A person who arbitrarily chooses the propositions which he will adopt can use the word truth only to emphasize the expression of his determination to hold on to his choice. Of course, the method of tenacity never prevailed exclusively; reason is too natural to men for that. But in the literature of the dark ages we find some fine examples of it. When the method of authority prevailed, the truth meant little more than the Catholic faith. All the efforts of the scholastic doctors are directed toward harmonizing their faith in Aristotle and their faith in the Church. It will sometimes strike a scientific man that the philosophers have been less intent on finding out what the facts are, than on inquiring what belief is most in harmony with their system. It is hard to convince a follower of the a priori method by adducing facts; but show him that an opinion he is defending is inconsistent with what he has laid down elsewhere, and he will be very apt to retract it. These minds do not seem to believe that disputation is ever to cease; they seem to think that the opinion which is natural for one man is not so for another, and that belief will, consequently, never be settled. In contenting themselves with fixing their own opinions by a method which would lead another man to a different result, they betray their feeble hold of the conception of what truth is.

On the other hand, all the followers of science are animated by a cheerful hope that the processes of investigation, if only pushed far enough, will give one certain solution to each question to which they apply it. … So with all scientific research. Different minds may set out with the most antagonistic views, but the progress of investigation carries them by a force outside of themselves to one and the same conclusion. This activity of thought by which we are carried, not where we wish, but to a fore-ordained goal, is like the operation of destiny. No modification of the point of view taken, no selection of other facts for study, no natural bent of mind even, can enable a man to escape the predestinate opinion. This great hope is embodied in the conception of truth and reality. The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate, is what we mean by the truth, and the object represented in this opinion is the real. That is the way I would explain reality.

(Note: Thus, Peirce holds the view that truth value of a belief depends solely on whether it depicts reality,)

But it may be said that this view is directly opposed to the abstract definition which we have given of reality, inasmuch as it makes the characters of the real depend on what is ultimately thought about them. But the answer to this is that, on the one hand, reality is independent, not necessarily of thought in general, but only of what you or I or any finite number of men may think about it; and that, on the other hand, though the object of the final opinion depends on what that opinion is, yet what that opinion is does not depend on what you or I or any man thinks. Our perversity and that of others may indefinitely postpone the settlement of opinion; it might even conceivably cause an arbitrary proposition to be universally accepted as long as the human race should last. Yet even that would not change the nature of the belief, which alone could be the result of investigation carried sufficiently far; and if, after the extinction of our race, another should arise with faculties and disposition for investigation, that true opinion must be the one which they would ultimately come to. "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again," and the opinion which would finally result from investigation does not depend on how anybody may actually think. But the reality of that which is real does depend on the real fact that investigation is destined to lead, at last, if continued long enough, to a belief in it.

It seems to me, however, that we have, by the application of our rule, reached so clear an apprehension of what we mean by reality, and of the fact which the idea rests on, that we should not, perhaps, be making a pretension so presumptuous as it would be singular, if we were to offer a metaphysical theory of existence for universal acceptance among those who employ the scientific method of fixing belief. However, as metaphysics is a subject much more curious than useful, the knowledge of which, like that of a sunken reef, serves chiefly to enable us to keep clear of it.

We have, hitherto, not crossed the threshold of scientific logic. It is certainly important to know how to make our ideas clear, but they may be ever so clear without being true. How to make them so, we have next to study. How to give birth to those vital and procreative ideas which multiply into a thousand forms and diffuse themselves everywhere, advancing civilization and making the dignity of man, is an art not yet reduced to rules, but of the secret of which the history of science affords some hints.

But I may be asked what I have to say to all the minute facts of history, forgotten never to be recovered, to the lost books of the ancients, to the buried secrets.

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
        The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
        And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

Do these things not really exist because they are hopelessly beyond the reach of our knowledge? And then, after the universe is dead (according to the prediction of some scientists), and all life has ceased forever, will not the shock of atoms continue though there will be no mind to know it? To this I reply that, though in no possible state of knowledge can any number be great enough to express the relation between the amount of what rests unknown to the amount of the known, yet it is unphilosophical to suppose that, with regard to any given question (which has any clear meaning), investigation would not bring forth a solution of it, if it were carried far enough. Who would have said, a few years ago, that we could ever know of what substances stars are made whose light may have been longer in reaching us than the human race has existed? Who can be sure of what we shall not know in a few hundred years? Who can guess what would be the result of continuing the pursuit of science for ten thousand years, with the activity of the last hundred? And if it were to go on for a million, or a billion, or any number of years you please, how is it possible to say that there is any question which might not ultimately be solved?

But it may be objected, "Why make so much of these remote considerations, especially when it is your principle that only practical distinctions have a meaning?" Well, I must confess that it makes very little difference whether we say that a stone on the bottom of the ocean, in complete darkness, is brilliant or not -- that is to say, that it probably makes no difference, remembering always that that stone may be fished up tomorrow. But that there are gems at the bottom of the sea, flowers in the untraveled desert, etc., are propositions which, like that about a diamond being hard when it is not pressed, concern much more the arrangement of our language than they do the meaning of our ideas.



Peirce's Later Years -The 1903 Harvard Lectures

The seven Harvard Lectures that Charles S. Peirce presented in 1903 on pragmatism.
Peirce is known as the founder of the philosophy of pragmatism and these lectures, given near the end of his life, represent his mature thoughts on the philosophy. Peirce’s decomposition of thinking into abduction,deduction, and induction is among the important points in the lectures.

1 Lecture One: Introduction
2 Lecture Two: Phenomenology or the Doctrine of Categories
3 Lecture Three: The Categories Defended
4 Lecture Four: The Reality of Thirdness
5 Lecture Five: The Normative Sciences
6 Lecture Six: The Nature of Meaning
7 Lecture Seven: Three Cotary Propositions of Pragmatism
Read the 1903 Peirce's Harvard Lectures and the commentaries.

Pragmatism is a practical approach. The value of an idea is its "cash-value", a term coined by William James. In philosophical terms, pragmatism states that practicality precedes dogma.
As Peirce puts it, in several places, pragmatism is the doctrine that every conception is a conception of conceivable practical effects. (Lecture VII, page 250)

Pragmatism allows any flight of imagination, provided this imagination ultimately alights upon a possible practical effect. (Lecture VII, page 249 (page 57 herein))

Any hypothesis, therefore, may be admissible, in the absence of any special reasons to the contrary, provided it be capable of experimental verification and only in so far as it is capable of such verification. This is approximately the doctrine of pragmatism. (Lecture VII, page 250 (page 58 herein))

Burch explains Peirce’s pragmatism as follows: “When [Peirce] said that the whole meaning of a (clear) conception consists in the entire set of its practical consequences, he had in mind that a meaningful conception must have some experiential ‘cash value’, capable of being specified as some sort of collection of possible empirical observations under specifiable conditions”.

Atkins notes that pragmatism is intended to enable us to “see what difference the truth of certain concepts would make to our lives”.

Webster’s Dictionary describes pragmatism as the proposition that “the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief”.

Thayer explains that “Because the emphasis is upon method, Peirce often remarked that pragmatism is not a philosophy, a metaphysic, or a theory of truth; it is not a solution or answer to anything but a technique to help us find solutions to problems of a philosophical or scientific nature”.

I save for last in this section what I believe to be the most abstruse of Peirce’s definitions of pragmatism. I believe it is also the most famous. It is often referred to as the Maxim (i.e., principle) of Pragmatism:
"Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings we conceive the object of our conception to have; then, our conception of those effects is the whole of our conception of the object". (Lecture VI, page 231 (page 50 herein))

With all due respect, I believe that the nuts and bolts of pragmatism is the admonition to cultivate the use of abduction -an unconscious process -and the conscious application of deduction and induction. I believe that Peirce would agree that this is the “right way of thinking”.

Pragmatism is the proposal that the value and meaning of any concept is the set of its possible effects (Lecture VI, page 231 (page 50 herein)). If a concept has no possible effects, then it has no value and no meaning. If two concepts have the same set of possible effects, then the two concepts are the same. Pragmatism is utilitarianism with long-range goals (Lecture VI, page 224 (page 49 herein)).


Peirce's Architectonic Structure of Philosophy

Philosophy has three grand divisions.
The first is Phenomenology, which simply contemplates the Universal Phenomenon and discerns its ubiquitous elements, Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness, together perhaps with other series of categories.
The second grand division is Normative Science, which investigates the universal and necessary laws of the relation of Phenomena to Ends, that is, perhaps, to Truth, Right, and Beauty.
The third grand division is Metaphysics, which endeavors to comprehend the Reality of Phenomena.
Now Reality is an affair of Thirdness as Thirdness, that is, in its mediation between Secondness and Firstness.
Metaphysics is the science of Reality. Reality consists in regularity. Real regularity is active law. Active law is efficient reasonableness, or in other words is truly reasonable reasonableness. Reasonable reasonableness is Thirdness as Thirdness. (CP5-121)

So then the division of Philosophy into these three grand departments, turns out to be a division according to Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness.
Phenomenology treats of the universal Qualities of Phenomena in their immediate phenomenal character, in themselves as phenomena. It, thus, treats of Phenomena in their Firstness.
Normative Science treats of the laws of the relation of phenomena to ends; that is, it treats of Phenomena in their Secondness.
Metaphysics treats of Phenomena in their Thirdness. (CP5. 122-124)

Firstness, secondness, and thirdness are the three "categories" or "modes of being" that give meaning to all phenomena and all objects of thought. All phenomena may be regarded as manifestations of one or more of these three categories of being.

I should define Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness thus:
Firstness is the mode of being of that which is such as it is, positively and without reference to anything else.
Secondness is the mode of being of that which is such as it is, with respect to a second but regardless of any third.
Thirdness is the mode of being of that which is such as it is, in bringing a second and third into relation to each other. (CP8-328)

In “The Architecture of Theories”, he defined the terms as follows: ”First is the conception of being or existing independent of anything else. Second is the conception of being relative to, the conception of reaction with, something else. Third is the conception of mediation, whereby a first and second are brought into relation.

Philosophy is divided into 1. Phenomenology; 2. Normative Science; 3. Metaphysics.
Phenomenology ascertains and studies the kinds of elements universally present in the phenomenon; meaning by the phenomenon, whatever is present at any time to the mind in any way.
Normative science distinguishes what ought to be from what ought not to be, and makes many other divisions and arrangements subservient to its primary dualistic distinction.
Metaphysics seeks to give an account of the universe of mind and matter.
Normative science rests largely on phenomenology and on mathematics; metaphysics on phenomenology and on normative science. (CP1-186)

Metaphysics may be divided into,
i, General Metaphysics, or Ontology;
ii, Psychical, or Religious, Metaphysics, concerned chiefly with the questions of 1, God, 2, Freedom, 3, Immortality;
iii, Physical Metaphysics, which discusses the real nature of time, space, laws of nature, matter, etc. (CP1-192)


Peirce's Architectonic Structure

Peirce believed in an architectonic arrangement of science, namely, mathematics supports phenomenology, and phenomenology supports esthetics, and esthetics supports ethics, and ethics supports logic, and so on.
Logic is where pragmatism fits. This hierarchical notion is similar to the notion that physics supports chemistry, and chemistry supports biology.
Peirce intended to establish pragmatism by first establishing phenomenology, then building on that to establish esthetics, and then building on that to establish ethics, and finally building on that to establish logic.
Peirce wanted to convince us that pragmatism was a principle of logic. The significance of this is that we can then describe pragmatism as at least one of the possible inference forms, namely what Peirce calls abduction. We are then in a position to understand better pragmatism and apply it.

Peirce's Architectonic Structure
Peirce's Architectonic Structure
Table source: Sandia Report/Philip L. Campbell Peirce, Pragmatism, and The Right Way of Thinking. (p 14)  

What Is Peirce’s Architectonic View Of Science?

Peirce believed the sciences could be organized hierarchically, a view he shared with Kant.
For example, it is customary to consider that biology is based on chemistry which, in turn, is based on physics. Peirce considered mathematics to be the foundation; philosophy is built on mathematics, and the other sciences are built on philosophy.
Within philosophy, phenomenology is at the base, with the “normative sciences” (namely esthetics, ethics, and logic) successively built up from there.
Pragmatism is an element of logic, so in order to understand it, we need to understand its foundation, at least down to and including phenomenology. Peirce’s structure of the sciences is shown in Table 2.

Pragmatism’s Efficacy versus Pragmatism’s Truth

Pragmatism “works”, as evidenced by people who use it.
There is an association between “successful” and “efficient” people and those who use pragmatism. Pragmatism solves many questions. But this does not mean that pragmatism is “true”: it might need embellishment.
Peirce argued that just because something has practical value does not imply that it is “true”, hence the need for a proof of pragmatism. Also, like other scientific theories, pragmatism is simple and may need adjustment over time to fit in practice. Peirce thinks that we humans want to be consistent, so we want to act according to what we reason out. We humans want to reduce what Peirce called “doubt”.
Peirce placed pragmatism within logic. He thought that humans were disposed to think pragmatically. Perhaps this was no more than the result of evolution, which could include logical forces.

The Role of Pragmatism in Logic and the Role of Logic in the Architectonic of Science

James thought that activity is how we evaluate an idea: we see how it works when we apply it. Pragmatism -an idea itself -is valuable to the extent that it helps us get along in life.
Peirce, on the other hand, thought that pragmatism helps us with logic, with thinking correctly. In fact, he went so far as to argue that you have to use pragmatism to think anything.

Peirce considered logic to be a way to determine how to reason.
If pragmatism is part of logic, then it should help further the goal of logic. A proof should rely upon the sciences below logic in the hierarchy.
Logic corresponds to thought; ethics corresponds to reactions; and esthetics corresponds to feeling. These are the three “normative” sciences: they describe what ought to be. These rest on phenomenology, the intent of which is to consider things “as they are”.
Of course we are unable to determine if we ever see things as they are. “Out of the great cake of life, each species cuts a slice”, as Üexkull puts it, meaning that each species has sensors for only a limited range of input. Dogs, for example, hear more frequencies than humans, but humans see more frequencies -color vs. only black & white -than dogs. What we do know is that if we are able to survive, our perception has some correspondence to reality.

Meanwhile, we “see” things (i.e., we perceive meaning) only within a context. It is the context that provides the meaning. In the split-second occasions when we are without context -when we are awoken from a deep sleep, sometimes -we work frantically to establish context.

Peirce uses mathematical examples in these lectures because of his belief in the architectonic nature of science.
Peirce considered these lectures to present a complete arrangement in support of pragmatism and that he was the only one to have provided such a complete arrangement.

Pragmatism is a fundamental principle of logic. That is, it is a rule of how we should think. It is valuable in practical terms, but there are objections to it. There are many definitions of pragmatism, all moderately acceptable, but none of them describe pragmatism with a satisfying precision.

Because pragmatism is valuable, we should determine if it will always lead us aright. Logic describes what we should think and is dependent upon ethics, which describes what we should do and is dependent upon esthetics, which describes what we should admire.
Esthetics is dependent upon phenomenology, which describes what is. The goal of phenomenology is to describe the “categories” or “fundamental modes” by which we describe a phenomenon.
Phenomenology is based on mathematics. Mathematics is concerned with how things could be, not how they are.



Phenomenology (Phaneroscopy)

According to the scheme of classification, Philosophy is divided into a. Phenomenology; b. Normative Science; c. Metaphysics.
Phenomenology ascertains and studies the kinds of elements universally present in the phenomenon; meaning by the phenomenon, whatever is present at any time to the mind in any way. Normative science distinguishes what ought to be from what ought not to be, and makes many other divisions and arrangements subservient to its primary dualistic distinction. Metaphysics seeks to give an account of the universe of mind and matter. (CP1-186)

Phenomenology is the first division of philosophy. Phaneroscopy is the description of the phaneron (phenomenon); and by the phaneron I mean the collective total of all that is in any way or in any sense present to the mind, quite regardless of whether it corresponds to any real thing or not. … Those features of the phaneron that I have found in my mind are present at all times and to all minds. (CP1-284)

What I term phaneroscopy is that study which, supported by the direct observation of phanerons and generalizing its observations, signalizes several very broad classes of phanerons; describes the features of each; shows that although they are so inextricably mixed together that no one can be isolated, yet it is manifest that their characters are quite disparate; then proves, beyond question, that a certain very short list comprises all of these broadest categories of phanerons there are; and finally proceeds to the laborious and difficult task of enumerating the principal subdivisions of those categories. (CP1-286)

I believe in inventing new philosophical words in order to avoid the ambiguities of the familiar words. I use the word phaneron to mean all that is present to the mind in any sense or in any way whatsoever, regardless of whether it be fact or figment. I examine the phaneron and I endeavor to sort out its elements according to the complexity of their structure. I thus reach my three categories.(CP8-213)

It will be plain from what has been said that phaneroscopy has nothing at all to do with the question of how far the phanerons it studies correspond to any realities. It religiously abstains from all speculation as to any relations between its categories and physiological facts, cerebral or other. It does not undertake, but sedulously avoids, hypothetical explanations of any sort. It simply scrutinizes the direct appearances, and endeavors to combine minute accuracy with the broadest possible generalization. The student's great effort is not to be influenced by any tradition, any authority, any reasons for supposing that such and such ought to be the facts, or any fancies of any kind, and to confine himself to honest, single-minded observation of the appearances. The reader, upon his side, must repeat the author's observations for himself, and decide from his own observations whether the author's account of the appearances is correct or not. (CP1-287)

The list of categories, or as Harris, the author of Hermes, called them, the "philosophical arrangements," is a table of conceptions drawn from the logical analysis of thought and regarded as applicable to being. This description applies not merely to the list published by me in 1867, and which I here endeavor to amplify, but also to the categories of Aristotle and to those of Kant. The latter have been more or less modified by different critics, as Renouvier, and still more profoundly by Hegel. My own list grew originally out of the study of the table of Kant. (CP1-300)
Aristotle listed ten categories and Kant twelve; Peirce simply listed three: Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness.

Peirce’s phenomenological categories and his architectonic view of science are important to understand but are presented in a scattered fashion in the lectures. Sandia Report/Philip L. Campbell has collated this material here (Table 1) for ease of comparison and reference.

Peirce's Three Phenomenological Categories

Peirce's three phenomenological categories
Notes of Peirce's three phenomenological categories
Peirce's three phenomenological categories
Table source: Sandia Report/Philip L. Campbell Peirce, Pragmatism, and The Right Way of Thinking. (pp 13-14)  

Aesthetics and ethics

Peirce did not write extensively in aesthetics and ethics, but came by 1902 to hold that aesthetics, ethics, and logic, in that order, comprise the normative sciences. He characterized aesthetics as the study of the good (grasped as the admirable), and thus of the ends governing all conduct and thought. (Wikipedia: Charles Sanders Peirce)

What Are Peirce's Three Phenomenological Categories?

Peirce argued that there were three phenomenological categories, which he called “Firstness”, “Secondness”, and “Thirdness”.
1. A Firstness experience involves a perception without a perceptual judgment, like seeing the color red.
2. A Secondness experience is a reaction. There are always two parties to a Second, hence the name.
3. A Thirdness experience involves an object, a symbol, and someone to connect the two. There are always three parties to a Thirdness, hence the name.

Peirce describes these categories in various ways in various places in these lectures. For ease of understanding, I have collated some of these varieties and they are shown in Table 1.

Peirce’s system of categories is most easily understood from the perspective of his logic of relations.
Properties and relations can be classified according to the number of relata they have :
‘…… is blue’ is a one-place predicate,
‘…… respects ……” is a dyadic, two--place relation, and
‘…… gives …… to ……” is a triadic, three-place relation.
Peirce argued that a language adequate for scientific or descriptive purposes must contain terms of all these three kinds, but there are no phenomena which can only be described in a language which contains expressions for four-place relations.
Thus he classified phenomena and elements of reality numerically: according to whether they are forms of firstness, secondness, or (like giving) thirdness.
In early work, his defense of his categories was largely found in his work on formal logic, but later he turned to phenomenology: reflection on experience of all kinds was to convince us that triadicity was ineliminable but no more complex phenomena were involved in experience.



Perhaps I might begin by noticing how different numbers have found their champions. Two was extolled by Peter Ramus, Four by Pythagoras, Five by Sir Thomas Browne, and so on. For my part, I am a determined foe of no innocent number; I respect and esteem them all in their several ways; but I am forced to confess to a leaning to the number Three in philosophy. In fact, I make so much use of threefold divisions in my speculations, that it seems best to commence by making a slight preliminary study of the conceptions upon which all such divisions must rest. I mean no more than the ideas of first, second, third -- ideas so broad that they may be looked upon rather as moods or tones of thought, than as definite notions, but which have great significance for all that. Viewed as numerals, to be applied to what objects we like, they are indeed thin skeletons of thought, if not mere words. If we only wanted to make enumerations, it would be out of place to ask for the significations of the numbers we should have to use; but then the distinctions of philosophy are supposed to attempt something far more than that; they are intended to go down to the very essence of things, and if we are to make one single threefold philosophical distinction, it behooves us to ask beforehand what are the kinds of objects that are first, second, and third, not as being so counted, but in their own true characters. That there are such ideas of the really first, second, and third, we shall presently find reason to admit. (CP1-355)


The first is that whose being is simply in itself, not referring to anything nor lying behind anything. The second is that which is what it is by force of something to which it is second. The third is that which is what it is owing to things between which it mediates and which it brings into relation to each other. (CP1-356)

The idea of the absolutely first must be entirely separated from all conception of or reference to anything else; for what involves a second is itself a second to that second. The first must therefore be present and immediate, so as not to be second to a representation. It must be fresh and new, for if old it is second to its former state. It must be initiative, original, spontaneous, and free; otherwise it is second to a determining cause. It is also something vivid and conscious; so only it avoids being the object of some sensation. It precedes all synthesis and all differentiation; it has no unity and no parts. It cannot be articulately thought: assert it, and it has already lost its characteristic innocence; for assertion always implies a denial of something else. Stop to think of it, and it has flown! What the world was to Adam on the day he opened his eyes to it, before he had drawn any distinctions, or had become conscious of his own existence -- that is first, present, immediate, fresh, new, initiative, original, spontaneous, free, vivid, conscious, and evanescent. Only, remember that every description of it must be false to it. (CP1-357)

Just as the first is not absolutely first if thought along with a second, so likewise to think the second in its perfection we must banish every third. The second is therefore the absolute last. But we need not, and must not, banish the idea of the first from the second; on the contrary, the second is precisely that which cannot be without the first. It meets us in such facts as another, relation, compulsion, effect, dependence, independence, negation, occurrence, reality, result. A thing cannot be other, negative, or independent, without a first to or of which it shall be other, negative, or independent. Still, this is not a very deep kind of secondness; for the first might in these cases be destroyed yet leave the real character of the second absolutely unchanged. When the second suffers some change from the action of the first, and is dependent upon it, the secondness is more genuine. But the dependence must not go so far that the second is a mere accident or incident of the first; otherwise the secondness again degenerates. The genuine second suffers and yet resists, like dead matter, whose existence consists in its inertia. Note, too, that for the second to have the finality that we have seen belongs to it, it must be determined by the first immovably, and thenceforth be fixed; so that unalterable fixity becomes one of its attributes. We find secondness in occurrence, because an occurrence is something whose existence consists in our knocking up against it. A hard fact is of the same sort; that is to say, it is something which is there, and which I cannot think away, but am forced to acknowledge as an object or second beside myself, the subject or number one, and which forms material for the exercise of my will.
The idea of second must be reckoned as an easy one to comprehend. That of first is so tender that you cannot touch it without spoiling it; but that of second is eminently hard and tangible. It is very familiar, too; it is forced upon us daily; it is the main lesson of life. In youth, the world is fresh and we seem free; but limitation, conflict, constraint, and secondness generally, make up the teaching of experience. With what firstness "The scarfed bark puts from her native bay;" with what secondness "doth she return, With overweathered ribs and ragged sails."
But familiar as the notion is, and compelled as we are to acknowledge it at every turn, still we never can realize it; we never can be immediately conscious of finiteness, or of anything but a divine freedom that in its own original firstness knows no bounds. (CP1-358)

First and second, agent and patient, yes and no, are categories which enable us roughly to describe the facts of experience, and they satisfy the mind for a very long time. But at last they are found inadequate, and the third is the conception which is then called for. The third is that which bridges over the chasm between the absolute first and last, and brings them into relationship. We are told that every science has its qualitative and its quantitative stage; now its qualitative stage is when dual distinctions -- whether a given subject has a given predicate or not --suffice; the quantitative stage comes when, no longer content with such rough distinctions, we require to insert a possible halfway between every two possible conditions of the subject in regard to its possession of the quality indicated by the predicate. Ancient mechanics recognized forces as causes which produced motions as their immediate effects, looking no further than the essentially dual relation of cause and effect. That was why it could make no progress with dynamics. The work of Galileo and his successors lay in showing that forces are accelerations by which [a] state of velocity is gradually brought about. The words "cause" and "effect" still linger, but the old conceptions have been dropped from mechanical philosophy; for the fact now known is that in certain relative positions bodies undergo certain accelerations. Now an acceleration, instead of being like a velocity a relation between two successive positions, is a relation between three; so that the new doctrine has consisted in the suitable introduction of the conception of threeness. On this idea, the whole of modern physics is built. The superiority of modern geometry, too, has certainly been due to nothing so much as to the bridging over of the innumerable distinct cases with which the ancient science was encumbered; and we may go so far as to say that all the great steps in the method of science in every department have consisted in bringing into relation cases previously discrete. (CP1-359)

We have seen that it is the immediate consciousness that is preeminently first, the external dead thing that is preeminently second. In like manner, it is evidently the representation mediating between these two that is preëminently third. Other examples, however, should not be neglected. The first is agent, the second patient, the third is the action by which the former influences the latter. Between the beginning as first, and the end as last, comes the process which leads from first to last. (CP1-361)

But it will be asked, why stop at three? Why not go on to find a new conception in four, five, and so on indefinitely? The reason is that while it is impossible to form a genuine three by any modification of the pair, without introducing something of a different nature from the unit and the pair, four, five, and every higher number can be formed by mere complications of threes. To make this clear, I will first show it in an example. The fact that A presents B with a gift C, is a triple relation, and as such cannot possibly be resolved into any combination of dual relations. Indeed, the very idea of a combination involves that of thirdness, for a combination is something which is what it is owing to the parts which it brings into mutual relationship. But we may waive that consideration, and still we cannot build up the fact that A presents C to B by any aggregate of dual relations between A and B, B and C, and C and A. A may enrich B, B may receive C, and A may part with C, and yet A need not necessarily give C to B. For that, it would be necessary that these three dual relations should not only coexist, but be welded into one fact.
Thus we see that a triad cannot be analyzed into dyads.
But now I will show by an example that a four can be analyzed into threes. Take the quadruple fact that A sells C to B for the price D. This is a compound of two facts:
*first, that A makes with C a certain transaction, which we may name E; and
*second, that this transaction E is a sale of B for the price D.
Each of these two facts is a triple fact, and their combination makes up [as] genuine [a] quadruple fact as can be found.
The explanation of this striking difference is not far to seek. A dual relative term, such as "lover" or "servant," is a sort of blank form, where there are two places left blank.
I mean that in building a sentence round "lover," as the principal word of the predicate, we are at liberty to make anything we see fit the subject, and then, besides that, anything we please the object of the action of loving.
But a triple relative term such as "giver" has two correlates, and is thus a blank form with three places left blank. Consequently, we can take two of these triple relatives and fill up one blank place in each with the same letter, X, which has only the force of a pronoun or identifying index, and then the two taken together will form a whole having four blank places; and from that we can go on in a similar way to any higher number. But when we attempt to imitate this proceeding with dual relatives, and combine two of them by means of an X, we find we only have two blank places in the combination, just as we had in either of the relatives taken by itself. A road with only three-way forkings may have any number of termini, but no number of straight roads put end on end will give more than two termini. Thus any number, however large, can be built out of triads; and consequently no idea can be involved in such a number, radically different from the idea of three. I do not mean to deny that the higher numbers may present interesting special configurations from which notions may be derived of more or less general applicability; but these cannot rise to the height of philosophical categories so fundamental as those that have been considered. (CP 1-363)

"Peirce's Trichotomy"

Peirce's Trichotomy
Peirce's Trichotomy

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Peirce's Categories
Peirce's Categories

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Firstness, Secondness and Thirdness

Our experiences have raw qualitative characters which do not directly involve relation with other things: they exhibit firstness.
They also stand in relations to each other, interacting against one another and so on: this involves secondness, as when fire immediately follows our dropping the sodium in hot water.
But we are aware that this interaction is intelligible, it is ‘mediated’: we can bring it down into a continuous spread of small changes which go together to make up the big one; and we are aware that it conforms to a law. Finding it intelligible introduces thirdness: we understand the two elements of the interaction by reference to a third mediating fact.

The aim of inquiry, for Peirce, is to find the thirdness (law and pattern) in the manifold of sensory experiences that we undergo.
The norms employed by the scientific method are to be vindicated by showing how they provide means for finding more and more pattern and mediation (more and more thirdness) in the world of our experience.



The first is predominant in feeling, as distinct from objective perception, will, and thought. (CP1-302)

There are certain qualities of feeling, such as the color of magenta, the odor of attar, the sound of a railway whistle, the taste of quinine, the quality of the emotion upon contemplating a fine mathematical demonstration, the quality of feeling of love, etc. I do not mean the sense of actually experiencing these feelings, whether primarily or in any memory or imagination. That is something that involves these qualities as an element of it. But I mean the qualities themselves which, in themselves, are mere may-bes, not necessarily realized. … it means just what it means when I say that aniline red is red. That mere quality, or suchness, is not in itself an occurrence, as seeing a red object is; it is a mere may-be. (CP1-304)

Suppose I begin by inquiring of you, Reader, in what particulars a feeling of redness or of purple without beginning, end, or change; or an eternally sounding and unvarying railway whistle; or a sempiterne thrill of joyous delight …. I suppose you will tell me that no such thing could be alone in the universe because,
firstly, it would require a mind to feel it, which would not be the feeling itself;
secondly, the color or sound and probably also the thrill of delight would consist of vibrations;
thirdly, none of them could last forever without a flow of time;
fourthly, each would have a quality, which would be a determination in several respects, the color in hue, luminosity, chroma, and vividness; the sound in pitch, timbre (itself highly complex), loudness, and vividness; the delight more or less sensual, more or less emotional, more or less elevated, etc.;
fifthly, each would require a physical substratum altogether disparate to the feeling itself. (CP1-305)

By a feeling, I mean an instance of that kind of consciousness which involves no analysis, comparison or any process whatsoever, nor consists in whole or in part of any act by which one stretch of consciousness is distinguished from another, which has its own positive quality which consists in nothing else, and which is of itself all that it is, however it may have been brought about; so that if this feeling is present during a lapse of time, it is wholly and equally present at every moment of that time. To reduce this description to a simple definition, I will say that by a feeling I mean an instance of that sort of element of consciousness which is all that it is positively, in itself, regardless of anything else. (CP1-306)

A feeling, then, is not an event, a happening, a coming to pass, since a coming to pass cannot be such unless there was a time when it had not come to pass; and so it is not in itself all that it is, but is relative to a previous state. A feeling is a state, which is in its entirety in every moment of time as long as it endures. But a feeling is not a single state which is other than an exact reproduction of itself. For if that reproduction is in the same mind, it must be at a different time, and then the being of the feeling would be relative to the particular time in which it occurred, which would be something different from the feeling itself, violating the definition which makes the feeling to be all that it is regardless of anything else. Or, if the reproduction were simultaneous with the feeling, it must be in another mind, and thus the identity of the feeling would depend upon the mind in which it was, which is other than the feeling; and again the definition would be violated in the same way. Thus, any feeling must be identical with any exact duplicate of it, which is as much as to say that the feeling is simply a quality of immediate consciousness. (CP1-307)

But it must be admitted that a feeling experienced in an outward sensation may be reproduced in memory. ... For instance, you experience a certain color sensation due to red-lead. It has a definite hue, luminosity, and chroma. These [are] three elements -- which are not separate in the feeling, it is true, and are not, therefore, in the feeling at all, but are said to be in it, as a way of expressing the results which would follow, according to the principles of chromatics, from certain experiments with a color disk, color-box, or other similar apparatus. In that sense, the color sensation which you derive from looking at the red-lead has a certain hue, luminosity, and chroma which completely define the quality of the color. The vividness, however, is independent of all three of these elements; and it is very different in the memory of the color a quarter of a second after the actual sensation from what it is in the sensation itself, although this memory is conceivably perfectly true as to hue, luminosity, and chroma, which truth constitutes it an exact reproduction of the entire quality of the feeling. (CP1-308)

It follows that since the vividness of a feeling -- which would be more accurately described as the vividness of a consciousness of the feeling -- is independent of every component of the quality of that consciousness, and consequently is independent of the resultant of those components, which resultant quality is the feeling itself. We thus learn what vividness is not; and it only remains to ascertain what else it is. (CP1-309)

To this end two remarks will be useful.
1. The first is that of whatever is in the mind in any mode of consciousness there is necessarily an immediate consciousness and consequently a feeling.
All that is immediately present to a man is what is in his mind in the present instant. His whole life is in the present. If he asks what is the content of the present instant, his question always comes too late. The present has gone by. (CP1-310)
2. Every operation of the mind, however complex, has its absolutely simple feeling. This is a secondary feeling or sensation excited from within the mind, just as the qualities of outward sense are excited by something psychic without us. (CP1-311)

Philosophers, who very properly call all things into question, have asked whether we have any reason to suppose that red looks to one eye as it does to another. I answer that slight differences there may be, but [consider the blind man imagining] red to resemble the blare of a trumpet. He had collected that notion from hearing ordinary people converse together about colors, and since I was not born to be one of those whom he had heard converse, the fact that I can see a certain analogy, shows me not only that my feeling of redness is something like the feelings of the persons whom he had heard talk, but also his feeling of a trumpet's blare was very much like mine. I am confident that a bull and I feel much alike at the sight of a red rag. As for the senses of my dog, I must confess that they seem very unlike my own, but when I reflect to how small a degree he thinks of visual images, and of how smells play a part in his thoughts and imaginations analogous to the part played by sights in mine, I cease to be surprised that the perfume of roses or of orange flowers does not attract his attention at all and that the effluvia that interest him so much, when at all perceptible to me, are simply unpleasant. He does not think of smells as sources of pleasure and disgust but as sources of information, just as I do not think of blue as a nauseating color, nor of red as a maddening one. I know very well that my dog's musical feelings are quite similar to mine though they agitate him more than they do me. He has the same emotions of affection as I, though they are far more moving in his case. You would never persuade me that my horse and I do not sympathize, or that the canary bird that takes such delight in joking with me does not feel with me and I with him; and this instinctive confidence of mine that it is so, is to my mind evidence that it really is so. My metaphysical friend who asks whether we can ever enter into one another's feelings -- and one particular sceptic whom I have in mind is a most exceptionally sympathetic person, whose doubts are born of her intense interest in her friends -- might just as well ask me whether I am sure that red looked to me yesterday as it does today and that memory is not playing me false. I know experimentally that sensations do vary slightly even from hour to hour; but in the main the evidence is ample that they are common to all beings whose senses are sufficiently developed. (CP1-314)

The whole content of consciousness is made up of qualities of feeling, as truly as the whole of space is made up of points or the whole of time of instants. (CP1-317)

Contemplate anything by itself -- anything whatever that can be so contemplated. Attend to the whole and drop the parts out of attention altogether. One can approximate nearly enough to the accomplishment of that to see that the result of its perfect accomplishment would be that one would have in his consciousness at the moment nothing but a quality of feeling. This quality of feeling would in itself, as so contemplated, have no parts. It would be unlike any other such quality of feeling. In itself, it would not even resemble any other; for resemblance has its being only in comparison. It would be a pure priman. Since this is true of whatever we contemplate, however complex may be the object, it follows that there is nothing else in immediate consciousness. To be conscious is nothing else than to feel.(CP1-318)


The second category that I find, the next simplest feature common to all that comes before the mind, is the element of struggle. By struggle I mean mutual action between two things regardless of any sort of third or medium, and in particular regardless of any law of action. (CP1-322)

Action and Perception:
When you put your shoulder against a door and try to force it open, you have a sense of resistance and at the same time a sense of effort. There can be no resistance without effort; there can be no effort without resistance. They are only two ways of describing the same experience. It is a double consciousness. We become aware of ourself in becoming aware of the not-self. The waking state is a consciousness of reaction; and as the consciousness itself is two-sided, so it has also two varieties; namely, action, where our modification of other things is more prominent than their reaction on us, and perception, where their effect on us is overwhelmingly greater than our effect on them. And this notion, of being such as other things make us, is such a prominent part of our life that we conceive other things also to exist by virtue of their reactions against each other. The idea of other, of not, becomes a very pivot of thought. To this element I give the name of Secondness. (CP1-324)

The Varieties of Secondness:
The idea of second is predominant in the ideas of causation and of statical force. For cause and effect are two; and statical forces always occur between pairs. Constraint is a Secondness. In the flow of time in the mind, the past appears to act directly upon the future, its effect being called memory, while the future only acts upon the past through the medium of thirds. Phenomena of this sort in the outward world shall be considered below. In sense and will, there are reactions of Secondness between the ego and the non-ego (which non-ego may be an object of direct consciousness). In will, the events leading up to the act are internal, and we say that we are agents more than patients. In sense, the antecedent events are not within us; and besides, the object of which we form a perception (though not that which immediately acts upon the nerves) remains unaffected. Consequently, we say that we are patients, not agents. In the idea of reality, Secondness is predominant; for the real is that which insists upon forcing its way to recognition as something other than the mind's creation. (Remember that before the French word, second, was adopted into our language, other was merely the ordinal numeral corresponding to two.) The real is active; we acknowledge it, in calling it the actual. (This word is due to Aristotle's use of {energeia}, action, to mean existence, as opposed to a mere germinal state.) Again, the kind of thought of those dualistic philosophers who are fond of laying down propositions as if there were only two alternatives, and no gradual shading off between them, as when they say that in trying to find a law in a phenomenon I commit myself to the proposition that law bears absolute sway in nature, such thought is marked by Secondness. (CP1-325)

Polar Distinctions and Volition:
Polar Distinctions
Any distinction between two equally decided characters to which no third seems to be coördinate (although a neutrality separates them). Examples are that of past and future, with the resulting two ways of passing over a line (and consequent right-and left-handed spirals and helices, whence probably the magnetic and possibly the electric poles -- supposing the latter to be truly "polar" in our sense), with the right and left sides of our bodies, and the two sexes, seems pretty much to exhaust the list of them.
In psychology, polar distinctions abound, most of them referring to volition. Thus, pleasure is any kind of sensation that one immediately seeks, pain any that one immediately shuns. Right and wrong are expressly volitional. (CP1-330)

Ego and Non-Ego:
The triad, feeling, volition, cognition
Feeling is a quality, but so far as there is mere feeling, the quality is not limited to any definite subject. We hear of a man whose mind is jaundiced. That phrase well expresses feeling without reason. Feeling also as such is unanalyzed.
Volition is through and through dual. There is the duality of agent and patient, of effort and resistance, of active effort and inhibition, of acting on self and on external objects. Moreover, there is active volition and passive volition, or inertia, the volition of reform and the volition of conservatism.
That shock which we experience when anything particularly unexpected forces itself upon our recognition (which has a cognitive utility as being a call for explanation of the presentment), is simply the sense of the volitional inertia of expectation, which strikes a blow like a water-hammer when it is checked; and the force of this blow, if one could measure it, would be the measure of the energy of the conservative volition that gets checked.
Low grades of this shock doubtless accompany all unexpected perceptions; and every perception is more or less unexpected. Its lower grades are, as I opine, not without experimental tests of the hypothesis, that sense of externality, of the presence of a non-ego, which accompanies perception generally and helps to distinguish it from dreaming. This is present in all sensation, meaning by sensation the initiation of a state of feeling; -- for by feeling I mean nothing but sensation minus the attribution of it to any particular subject. In my use of words, when an ear-splitting, soul-bursting locomotive whistle starts, there is a sensation, which ceases when the screech has been going on for any considerable fraction of a minute; and at the instant it stops there is a second sensation. Between them there is a state of feeling. (CP1-332)

As for volition, I would limit the term in one way and extend it in another. I would limit it to the momentary direct dyadic consciousness of an ego and a non-ego then and there present and reacting each upon the other. In one, the action is generally more active, in the other more passive; but precisely what this difference consists in I do not feel sure. I think, however, that the will to produce a change is active, the will to resist a change is passive. All sensation is essentially, by its very definition, active. The objection to this is that, according to it, the voluntary inhibition of a reflex should not give a sense of effort; and probably the definition of the distinction between the sense of externality in willing and in requires a supplement or other slight modification on this account. But the important point [is] that the sense of externality in perception consists in a sense of powerlessness before the overwhelming force of perception. Now the only way in which any force can be learned is by something like trying to oppose it. That we do something like this is shown by the shock we receive from any unexpected experience. It is the inertia of the mind, which tends to remain in the state in which it is. No doubt there is a marked difference between the active and intentional volition of muscular contraction and the passive and unintentional volition that gives the shock of surprise and the sense of externality. But the two are to be classed together as alike modes of double consciousness, that is, of awareness, at once and in the same awareness, of an ego and a non-ego. . . .(CP1-334)

We perceive objects brought before us; but that which we especially experience -- the kind of thing to which the word "experience" is more particularly applied -- is an event. We cannot accurately be said to perceive events; for this requires what Kant called the "synthesis of apprehension," not however, by any means, making the needful discriminations. A whistling locomotive passes at high speed close beside me. As it passes the note of the whistle is suddenly lowered from a well-understood cause. I perceive the whistle, if you will. I have, at any rate, a sensation of it. But I cannot be said to have a sensation of the change of note. I have a sensation of the lower note. But the cognition of the change is of a more intellectual kind. That I experience rather than perceive. It is [the] special field of experience to acquaint us with events, with changes of perception. Now that which particularly characterizes sudden changes of perception is a shock. A shock is a volitional phenomenon. The long whistle of the approaching locomotive, however disagreeable it may be, has set up in me a certain inertia, so that the sudden lowering of the note meets with a certain resistance. That must be the fact; because if there were no such resistance there could be no shock when the change of note occurs. Now this shock is quite unmistakable. It is more particularly to changes and of perception that we apply the word "experience." We experience vicissitudes, especially. We cannot experience the vicissitude without experiencing the perception which undergoes the change; but the concept of experience is broader than that of perception, and includes much that is not, strictly speaking, an object of perception. It is the compulsion, the absolute constraint upon us to think otherwise than we have been thinking that constitutes experience. Now constraint and compulsion cannot exist without resistance, and resistance is effort opposing change. Therefore there must be an element of effort in experience; and it is this which gives it its peculiar character. But we are so disposed to yield to it as soon as we can detect it, that it is extremely difficult to convince ourselves that we have exerted any resistance at all. It may be said that we hardly know it except through the axiom that there can be no force where there is no resistance or inertia. Whoever may be dissatisfied with my statement will do well to sit down and cipher out the matter for himself. He may be able to formulate the nature of the oppositional element in experience, and its relation to ordinary volition better than I have done; but that there is an oppositional element in it, logically not easily distinguished from volition, will, I make no doubt at all, be his ultimate conclusion.(CP1-336)



Examples of Thirdness
By the third, I mean the medium or connecting bond between the absolute first and last. The beginning is first, the end second, the middle third. The end is second, the means third. The thread of life is a third; the fate that snips it, its second. A fork in a road is a third, it supposes three ways; a straight road, considered merely as a connection between two places is second, but so far as it implies passing through intermediate places it is third. Position is first, velocity or the relation of two successive positions second, acceleration or the relation of three successive positions third. But velocity in so far as it is continuous also involves a third. Continuity represents Thirdness almost to perfection. Every process comes under that head. Moderation is a kind of Thirdness. The positive degree of an adjective is first, the superlative second, the comparative third. All exaggerated language, "supreme," "utter," "matchless," "root and branch," is the furniture of minds which think of seconds and forget thirds. Action is second, but conduct is third. Law as an active force is second, but order and legislation are third. Sympathy, flesh and blood, that by which I feel my neighbor's feelings, is third. (CP1-337)

Representation and Generality
The ideas in which Thirdness is predominant are, as might be expected, more complicated, and mostly require careful analysis to be clearly apprehended. (CP1-338)

The easiest of those which are of philosophical interest is the idea of a sign, or representation. A sign stands for something to the idea which it produces, or modifies. Or, it is a vehicle conveying into the mind something from without. That for which it stands is called its object; that which it conveys, its meaning; and the idea to which it gives rise, its interpretant. The object of representation can be nothing but a representation of which the first representation is the interpretant. But an endless series of representations, each representing the one behind it, may be conceived to have an absolute object at its limit. The meaning of a representation can be nothing but a representation. In fact, it is nothing but the representation itself conceived as stripped of irrelevant clothing. But this clothing never can be completely stripped off; it is only changed for something more diaphanous. So there is an infinite regression here. Finally, the interpretant is nothing but another representation to which the torch of truth is handed along; and as representation, it has its interpretant again. Lo, another infinite series. (CP1-339)

Some of the ideas of prominent Thirdness which, owing to their great importance in philosophy and in science, require attentive study are generality, infinity, continuity, diffusion, growth, and intelligence. (CP1-340)

The Reality of Thirdness
It is impossible to resolve everything in our thoughts into those two elements [of Firstness and Secondness]. We may say that the bulk of what is actually done consists of Secondness -- or better, Secondness is the predominant character of what has been done. The immediate present, could we seize it, would have no character but its Firstness. Not that I mean to say that immediate consciousness (a pure fiction, by the way), would be Firstness, but that the quality of what we are immediately conscious of, which is no fiction, is Firstness. But we constantly predict what is to be. Now what is to be, according to our conception of it, can never become wholly past. In general, we may say that meanings are inexhaustible. We are too apt to think that what one means to do and the meaning of a word are quite unrelated meanings of the word "meaning," or that they are only connected by both referring to some actual operation of the mind. Professor Royce especially in his great work The World and the Individual has done much to break up this mistake. In truth the only difference is that when a person means to do anything he is in some state in consequence of which the brute reactions between things will be moulded [in] to conformity to the form to which the man's mind is itself moulded, while the meaning of a word really lies in the way in which it might, in a proper position in a proposition believed, tend to mould the conduct of a person into conformity to that to which it is itself moulded. Not only will meaning always, more or less, in the long run, mould reactions to itself, but it is only in doing so that its own being consists. For this reason I call this element of the phenomenon or object of thought the element of Thirdness. It is that which is what it is by virtue of imparting a quality to reactions in the future. (CP1-343)

Three Modes of Being (Possibility, Actuality and Predictable Law)

My view is that there are three modes of being. I hold that we can directly observe them in elements of whatever is at any time before the mind in any way. They are the being of positive qualitative possibility, the being of actual fact, and the being of law that will govern facts in the future. (CP1-23)

Let us begin with considering actuality, and try to make out just what it consists in. If I ask you what the actuality of an event consists in, you will tell me that it consists in its happening then and there. The specifications then and there involve all its relations to other existents. The actuality of the event seems to lie in its relations to the universe of existents. A court may issue injunctions and judgments against me and I not care a snap of my finger for them. I may think them idle vapor. But when I feel the sheriff's hand on my shoulder, I shall begin to have a sense of actuality. Actuality is something brute. There is no reason in it. I instance putting your shoulder against a door and trying to force it open against an unseen, silent, and unknown resistance. We have a two-sided consciousness of effort and resistance, which seems to me to come tolerably near to a pure sense of actuality. On the whole, I think we have here a mode of being of one thing which consists in how a second object is. I call that Secondness. (CP1-24)

Besides this, there are two modes of being that I call Firstness and Thirdness. Firstness is the mode of being which consists in its subject's being positively such as it is regardless of aught else. That can only be a possibility. For as long as things do not act upon one another there is no sense or meaning in saying that they have any being, unless it be that they are such in themselves that they may perhaps come into relation with others. The mode of being a redness, before anything in the universe was yet red, was nevertheless a positive qualitative possibility. And redness in itself, even if it be embodied, is something positive and sui generis. That I call Firstness. We naturally attribute Firstness to outward objects, that is we suppose they have capacities in themselves which may or may not be already actualized, which may or may not ever be actualized, although we can know nothing of such possibilities [except] so far as they are actualized. (CP1-25)

Now for Thirdness. Five minutes of our waking life will hardly pass without our making some kind of prediction; and in the majority of cases these predictions are fulfilled in the event. Yet a prediction is essentially of a general nature, and cannot ever be completely fulfilled. To say that a prediction has a decided tendency to be fulfilled, is to say that the future events are in a measure really governed by a law. If a pair of dice turns up sixes five times running, that is a mere uniformity. The dice might happen fortuitously to turn up sixes a thousand times running. But that would not afford the slightest security for a prediction that they would turn up sixes the next time. If the prediction has a tendency to be fulfilled, it must be that future events have a tendency to conform to a general rule.
"Oh," but say the nominalists, "this general rule is nothing but a mere word or couple of words!" I reply, "Nobody ever dreamed of denying that what is general is of the nature of a general sign; but the question is whether future events will conform to it or not. If they will, your adjective 'mere' seems to be ill-placed." A rule to which future events have a tendency to conform is ipso facto an important thing, an important element in the happening of those events. This mode of being which consists, mind my word if you please, the mode of being which consists in the fact that future facts of Secondness will take on a determinate general character, I call a Thirdness. (CP1-26)



THE MONAD:The pure idea of a monad is not that of an object. For an object is over against me. But it is much nearer an object than it is to a conception of self, which is still more complex. There must be some determination, or suchness, otherwise we shall think nothing at all. But it must not be an abstract suchness, for that has reference to a special suchness. It must be a special suchness with some degree of determination, not, however, thought as more or less. There is to be no comparison. So that it is a suchness sui generis. Imagine me to make and in a slumberous condition to have a vague, unobjectified, still less unsubjectified, sense of redness, or of salt taste, or of an ache, or of grief or joy, or of a prolonged musical note. That would be, as nearly as possible, a purely monadic state of feeling. Now in order to convert that psychological or logical conception into a metaphysical one, we must think of a metaphysical monad as a pure nature, or quality, in itself without parts or features, and without embodiment. Such is a pure monad. The meanings of names of "secondary" qualities are as good approximations to examples of monads as can be given. (CP1-303)

THE DYAD: A dyad consists of two subjects brought into oneness. These subjects have their modes of being in themselves, and they also have their modes of being, as first and second, etc., in connection with each other. They are two, if not really, at least in aspect. There is also some sort of union of them. The dyad is not the subjects; it has the subjects as one element of it. It has, besides, a suchness of monoidal character; and it has suchness, or suchnesses, peculiar to it as a dyad. The dyad brings the subjects together, and in doing so imparts a character to each of them. Those characters are, in some sense, two. The dyad has also two sides according to which subject is considered as first. These two sides of the dyad form a second pair of subjects attached to the dyad; and they have their mode of union. Each of them also has a special character as a subject of the dyad.
This description shows that the dyad, in contrast to the monad, has a variety of features; and all these features present dyadic relations. (CP1-326)

As an example of a dyad take this: God said, Let there be light, and there was light. We must not think of this as a verse of Genesis, for Genesis would be a third thing. Neither must we think of it as proposed for our acceptance, or as held for true; for we are third parties. We must simply think of God creating light by fiat. Not that the fiat and the coming into being of the light were two facts; but that it is in one indivisible fact. God and light are the subjects. The act of creation is to be regarded, not as any third object, but merely as the suchness of connection of God and light. The dyad is the fact. It determines the existence of the light, and the creatorship of God. The two aspects of the dyad are, first, that of God compelling the existence of the light, and that of the light as, by its coming into existence, making God a creator. This last is in the present example merely a mere point of view, without any reality corresponding to it. That is one of the special features of the particular example chosen. Of the two aspects of the dyad, then, one is in this instance, fundamental, real, and primary, while the other is merely derivative, formal, and secondary. (CP1-327)

I chose this instance because it is represented as instantaneous. Had there been any process intervening between the causal act and the effect, this would have been a medial, or third, element. Thirdness, in the sense of the category, is the same as mediation. For that reason, pure dyadism is an act of arbitrary will or of blind force; for if there is any reason, or law, governing it, that mediates between the two subjects and brings about their connection. The dyad is an individual fact, as it existentially is; and it has no generality in it. The being of a monadic quality is a mere potentiality, without existence. Existence is purely dyadic. (CP1-328)

It is to be noted that existence is an affair of blind force. "The very hyssop that grows on the wall exists in that chink because the whole universe could not prevent it." No law determines any atom to exist. Existence is presence in some experiential universe -- whether the universe of material things now existing, or that of laws, or that of phenomena, or that of feelings -- and this presence implies that each existing thing is in dynamical reaction with every other in that universe. Existence, therefore, is dyadic; though Being is monadic. (CP1-329)

THE TRIAD: I will sketch a proof that the idea of meaning is irreducible to those of quality and reaction. It depends on two main premisses. The first is that every genuine triadic relation involves meaning, as meaning is obviously a triadic relation. The second is that a triadic relation is inexpressible by means of dyadic relations alone. Considerable reflexion may be required to convince yourself of the first of these premisses, that every triadic relation involves meaning. There will be two lines of inquiry. First, all physical forces appear to subsist between pairs of particles. This was assumed by Helmholtz in his original paper, On the Conservation of Forces. Take any fact in physics of the triadic kind, by which I mean a fact which can only be defined by simultaneous reference to three things, and you will find there is ample evidence that it never was produced by the action of forces on mere dyadic conditions. Thus, your right hand is that hand which is toward the east, when you face the north with your head toward the zenith. Three things, east, west, and up, are required to define the difference between right and left. Consequently chemists find that those substances which rotate the plane of polarization to the right or left can only be produced from such [similar] active substances. They are all of such complex constitution that they cannot have existed when the earth was very hot, and how the first one was produced is a puzzle. It cannot have been by the action of brute forces. For the second branch of the inquiry, you must train yourself to the analysis of relations, beginning with such as are very markedly triadic, gradually going on to others. In that way, you will convince yourself thoroughly that every genuine triadic relation involves thought or meaning.
Take, for example, the relation of giving. A gives B to C. This does not consist in A's throwing B away and its accidentally hitting C, like the date-stone, which hit the Jinnee in the eye. If that were all, it would not be a genuine triadic relation, but merely one dyadic relation followed by another. There need be no motion of the thing given. Giving is a transfer of the right of property. Now right is a matter of law, and law is a matter of thought and meaning. I there leave the matter to your own reflection, merely adding that, though I have inserted the word "genuine," yet I do not really think that necessary. I think even degenerate triadic relations involve something like thought. (CP1-345)

And analysis will show that every relation which is tetradic, pentadic, or of any greater number of correlates is nothing but a compound of triadic relations. It is therefore not surprising to find that beyond the three elements of Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness, there is nothing else to be found in the phenomenon. (CP1-347)

The triad in reasoning

It was Kant who first remarked the frequency in logical analytics of trichotomics or threefold distinctions.
Take any ordinary syllogism:
All men are mortal,
Elijah was a man;
Therefore, Elijah was mortal.
There are here three propositions, namely, two premisses and a conclusion; there are also three terms, man, mortal, and Elijah. If we transpose one of the premisses with the conclusion, denying both, we obtain what are called the indirect figures of syllogism; for example
All men are mortal,
But Elijah was not mortal;
Therefore, Elijah was not a man.

Elijah was not mortal,
But Elijah was a man;
Therefore, some men are not mortal.

Thus, there are three figures of ordinary syllogism. It is true there are other modes of inference which do not come under any of these heads; but that does not annul the fact that we have here a trichotomy.

The probable and approximate inferences of science must be classified on the very same principles, being either Deductions, Inductions, or Hypotheses.
Other examples of threes in logic are statements of what is actual, what is possible, and what is necessary; the three kinds of forms, Names, Propositions, and Inferences;. affirmative, negative, and uncertain answers to a question.
One very important triad is this: it has been found that there are three kinds of signs which are all indispensable in all reasoning; the first is the diagrammatic sign or icon, which exhibits a similarity or analogy to the subject of discourse; the second is the index, which like a pronoun demonstrative or relative, forces the attention to the particular object intended without describing it; the third [or symbol] is the general name or description which signifies its object by means of an association of ideas or habitual connection between the name and the character signified. (CP1-369)

The triad in reasoning
1. Three kinds of signs; as best shown in my last paper in the Am. Jour. Math.
2. Term, proposition, and argument, mentioned in my paper on a new list of categories.
3. Three kinds of argument, deduction, induction, hypothesis, as shown in my paper in Studies in Logic. Also three figures of syllogism, as shown there and in my paper on the Classification of Arguments.
4. Three kinds of terms, absolute, relative, and conjugative, as shown in my first paper on Logic of Relatives.
There are various other triads which may be alluded to.
The dual divisions of logic result from a false way of looking at things absolutely. Thus, besides affirmative and negative, there are really probable enunciations, which are intermediate. So besides universal and particular there are all sorts of propositions of numerical quantity.
For example, the particular proposition: Some A is B, means "At least one A is B." But we can also say: At least 2 A's are B's. Also, All the A's but one are B's, etc., etc., ad infinitum. We pass from dual quantity, or a system of quantity such as that of Boolian algebra, where there are only two values, to plural quantity. (CP1-354)

But there is one triad in particular which throws a strong light on the nature of all the others. Namely, we find it necessary to recognize in logic three kinds of characters, three kinds of facts. First there are singular characters which are predicable of single objects, as when we say that anything is white, large, etc. Secondly, there are dual characters which appertain to pairs of objects; these are implied by all relative terms as "lover," "similar," "other," etc. Thirdly, there are plural characters, which can all be reduced to triple characters but not to dual characters. Thus, we cannot express the fact that A is a benefactor of B by any descriptions of A and B separately; we must introduce a relative term. This is requisite, not merely in English, but in every language which might be invented. This is true even of such a fact as A is taller than B. If we say, "A is tall, but B is short," the conjugation "but" has a relative force, and if we omit this word the mere collocation of the two sentences is a relative or dual mode of signifying. . . . (CP1-370)

Let us now consider a triple character, say that A gives B to C. This is not a mere congeries of dual characters. It is not enough to say that A parts with C, and that B receives C. A synthesis of these two facts must be made to bring them into a single fact; we must express that C, in being parted with by A, is received by B. If, on the other hand, we take a quadruple fact, it is easy to express as a compound of two triple facts. . . . We are here able to express the synthesis of the two facts into one, because a triple character involves the conception of synthesis. Analysis involves the same relations as synthesis; so that we may explain the fact that all plural facts can be reduced to triple facts in this way.(CP1-371)



Semiotic and Logic

Peirce's settled opinion was that logic in the broadest sense is to be equated with semeiotic (the general theory of signs), and that logic in a much narrower sense (which he typically called “logical critic”) is one of three major divisions or parts of semeiotic. Thus, in his later writings, he divided semeiotic into speculative grammar, logical critic, and speculative rhetoric (also called “methodeutic”).

1) Speculative Grammar is a theoretical explanation and exploration of the nature of signs. This is the area within the Peirce's Theory of Signs.
It is located within logic because Peirce takes all thought, and so all reasoning, to occur through the use of signs.
Speculative Grammar, then, studies the nature of the basic phenomena of reasoning: signs.
According to Peirce, signs are essentially triadic structure consisting of the sign itself, an object and an interpretant. Division of Signs.

2) What Peirce meant by “logical critic” is pretty much logic in the ordinary, accepted sense of “logic” from Aristotle's logic to present-day mathematical logic.
As might be expected, a crucial concern of logical critic is to characterize the difference between correct and incorrect reasoning. Peirce achieved extraordinarily extensive and deep results in this area. Peirce discusses more than just deductive reasoning. He also includes discussion of inductive and abductive reasoning. Abduction .

3) Methodeutic or “speculative rhetoric” is home to Peirce's theory of inquiry and his pragmatism. It concerns the use of signs and reasoning to achieve a settled state of belief.
Methodeutic studies the methods that researchers should use in investigating, giving expositions of, and creating applications of the truth. Peirce also understood, under the heading of speculative rhetoric, the analysis of communicational interactions and strategies, and their bearing on the evaluation of inferences.
The idea of methodeutic may overlap to some small extent with Morris's notion of “pragmatics,” but the spirit of Peirce's notion is much more extensive than that of Morris's notion.
There clearly exist connections between Peirce's speculative rhetoric, on the one hand, and the attention paid by twentieth-century philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and J. L. Austin to matters having to do with language as a set of various social practices.
Speculative rhetoric has attracted considerable philosophical attention in recent years, especially among Finnish Peirce scholars centering about the University of Helsinki. These have noted that there are extensive affiliations between Peirce's discussions of the communicational and dialogical aspects of semeiotic, on the one hand, and the many and varied “game-theoretical” approaches to logic that have been for some time of interest to Finnish philosophers (as well as many others), on the other hand. Various proposals for game-theoretic semantical approaches to logic have been developed and applied to Peirce's logic, as well as being used to understand Peircean points.

Logic, in its general sense, is only another name for semiotic, the quasi-necessary, or formal, doctrine of signs.
By describing the doctrine as "quasi-necessary," or formal, I mean that we observe the characters of such signs as we know, and from such an observation, by a process of Abstraction, we are led to statements, eminently fallible, and therefore in one sense by no means necessary, as to what must be the characters of all signs used by a "scientific" intelligence, that is to say, by an intelligence capable of learning by experience. (Condensed CP2-227)

The truth of pragmaticism may be proved in various ways. I would conduct the argument somewhat as follows. In the first place, there are but three elementary kinds of reasoning. The first, which I call abduction, consists in examining a mass of facts and in allowing these facts to suggest a theory. In this way we gain new ideas; but there is no force in the reasoning. The second kind of reasoning is deduction, or necessary reasoning. It is applicable only to an ideal state of things, or to a state of things in so far as it may conform to an ideal. It merely gives a new aspect to the premisses. It consists in constructing an image or diagram in accordance with a general precept, in observing in that image certain relations of parts not explicitly laid down in the precept, and in convincing oneself that the same relations will always occur when that precept is followed out. For example, having convinced ourselves of the truth of the pons asinorum with the aid of a diagram drawn with a common lead pencil, we are quite sure it would be the same with a diagram drawn in red; and a form of syllogism which is certain in black is equally so in red. A phenomenon having been observed in a laboratory, though we may not know on what conditions it depends, yet we are quite sure that it would make no difference whether the number of degrees of the longitude of the planet Eros just one week previous were a prime or composite number. The third way of reasoning is induction, or experimental research. Its procedure is this. Abduction having suggested a theory, we employ deduction to deduce from that ideal theory a promiscuous variety of consequences to the effect that if we perform certain acts, we shall find ourselves confronted with certain experiences. We then proceed to try these experiments, and if the predictions of the theory are verified, we have a proportionate confidence that the experiments that remain to be tried will confirm the theory. I say that these three are the only elementary modes of reasoning there are. I am convinced of it both a priori and a posteriori. The a priori reasoning is contained in my paper in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for April 9, 1867. I will not repeat it. But I will mention that it turns in part upon the fact that induction is, as Aristotle says, the inference of the truth of the major premiss of a syllogism of which the minor premiss is made to be true and the conclusion is found to be true, while abduction is the inference of the truth of the minor premiss of a syllogism of which the major premiss is selected as known already to be true while the conclusion is found to be true. Abduction furnishes all our ideas concerning real things, beyond what are given in perception, but is mere conjecture, without probative force. Deduction is certain but relates only to ideal objects. Induction gives us the only approach to certainty concerning the real that we can have. In forty years diligent study of arguments, I have never found one which did not consist of those elements. The successes of modern science ought to convince us that induction is the only capable imperator of truth-seeking. Now pragmaticism is simply the doctrine that the inductive method is the only essential to the ascertainment of the intellectual purport of any symbol. (CP8-209)

Charles Sanders Peirce's Harvard Lecture Three: The Categories Defended (The Categories Continued)

Peirce argued that there were three phenomenological categories, which he called ‘Firstness’, ‘Secondness’, and ‘Thirdness’. A Firstness experience involves a perception without a perceptual judgment, like seeing the color red. A Secondness experience is a reaction. There are always two parties to a Second, hence the name. A Thirdness experience involves an object, a symbol, and someone to connect the two. There are always three parties to a Thirdness, hence the name.

In Lecture Three, Peirce argues that his three categories - Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness - are both necessary and sufficient. Peirce explains the meaning of “icon”, “index”, and “symbol”, each an element of the three categories, respectively.
Read Peirce's Harvard Lecture Three: The Categories Defended.




Peirce's Theory of Signs

Peirce’s theory of signs is a theory of language and reasoning, which holds that all modes of thinking depend on the use of signs.
According to Peirce, every thought is a sign, and every act of reasoning consists of the interpretation of signs.
Signs function as mediators between the external world of objects and the internal world of ideas. Signs may be mental representations of objects, and objects may be known by means of perception of their signs.
"Semiosis" is the process by which representations of objects function as signs. It is a process of cooperation between signs, their objects, and their "interpretants" (mental representations).
"Semiotic" (the science of signs) is the study of semiosis, and it is an inquiry into the conditions that are necessary in order for representations of objects to function as signs. Logic is described by Peirce as the science of the laws of signs.
(Alex Scott: Peirce’s Theory of Signs)

According to Peirce, the most important forms of thirdness involve meaning and representation, and all of his work is underpinned by a sophisticated theory of meaning: his semiotics. He probably believed that everything was a sign, but the signs of most interest to him were thoughts and ‘the assertions of a scientific intelligence’. This theory of meaning (‘speculative grammar’) was to provide foundations for his writings in logic.

The key to the thirdness involved in signs was Peirce’s notion of interpretation. A sign denotes an object only by being understood or interpreted as standing for an object: and this interpretation will always be another sign with the same object. Semiotics is thus primarily a theory of understanding, an account of how we are guided and constrained in arriving at interpretations of signs. Interpretation often involves inference, developing our understanding of the object in question.

Peirce was famous for his classifications of signs, and some of his terminology has acquired wide currency. For example, signs can be distinguished according to the features of them exploited in arriving at an interpretation.
A symbol denotes a particular object because there exists a practice of interpreting it as denoting that object.
An index denotes an object to which it stands in direct existential relation.
Iconic signs share some features with their object which each could possess if the other did not exist: Maps are straightforward examples, the conventions governing their use fixing how we are to interpret them as icons. Mathematical and logical symbolisms are iconic representations, and it was important for Peirce that sentences of natural languages have iconic elements too: formal inference exploits the fact that sentences exhibit a form which is shared with their subject-matter.
Much of Peirce’s later work attempted to use this systemic theory of meaning to provide a proof of pragmatist principle.

In conjunction with his Lowell Lectures, Peirce prepared a "Syllabus" to be distributed to his auditors. The first part is "An Outline Classification of the Sciences" (sel. 18), showing the normative sciences—esthetics, ethics, and logic—as constituting the central part of philosophy, and giving the order of epistemic and data—support relationships among the sciences that will guide his subsequent research. In "The Ethics of Terminology" (sel. 19), Peirce paused from his central task to elaborate on an issue that had been troubling him since he began working on logic entries in 1900 for Baldwin's Dictionary (and perhaps earlier with his work for the Century Dictionary): the unscientific terminology that prevailed in philosophy. Peirce recognized that philosophy could never abandon ordinary language altogether, for it is essential to understanding common conceptions, but philosophical analysis and progress calls for a specialized vocabulary. That was Peirce's strong conviction, and it explains his frequent resort to neologisms.

It may be that the attention Peirce gave to his classification of the sciences, along with his new-found conviction that logic is coextensive with semiotics, provided the impetus for the remaining two parts of the "Syllabus" that are included in EP2. They introduced a shift to an intensive development of his theory of signs along taxonomic lines motivated by his categories.
In "Sundry Logical Conceptions" (sel. 20), Peirce introduced the semiotic trichotomy that divides signs according to whether they are interpreted as signs of possibility, fact, or law: rhemes (here called sumisigns), dicisigns, and arguments.
That trichotomy was additional to his long-held division of signs according to whether they represent their objects by virtue of similarity, existential connection, or law: icons, indices, or symbols.
In "Nomenclature and Divisions of Triadic Relations" (sel. 21), Peirce introduced another trichotomy that distinguishes signs according to whether, in and of themselves, they are qualities, existents, or laws: qualisigns, sinsigns, and legisigns.
With these three trichotomies in place, Peirce was able to identify ten distinct classes of signs. This was the beginning of a rapid development of his formal semiotic theory. There were two other parts of the "Syllabus" that are not included in EP2, one on Peirce's system of Existential Graphs, which Peirce would later choose as the preferred medium for the presentation of his proof of pragmatism, and the other an in-depth treatment of dyadic relations parallel to the treatment of triadic relations found in selection 21.

In the next two selections Peirce shifted his attention from pragmatism and its proof to concentrate more fully on the theory of signs. In "New Elements" (sel. 22), he focused on the abstract mathematical structures necessarily exhibited by sign relations and argued, as he had in "On Science and Natural Classes," that "representations have power to cause real facts" and that "there can be no reality which has not the life of a symbol." And in "Ideas, Stray or Stolen, about Scientific Writing" (sel. 23) Peirce gave one of his most focused accounts of speculative rhetoric, the third branch of his semiotic trivium, which has as its aim to find out "the general secret of rendering signs effective." Peirce made it clear that the range of legitimate semiotic effects (interpretants) includes feelings and physical results, as well as thoughts and other signs. Peirce reiterated a point he had made at least as early as his Harvard Lectures, that nothing can be represented unless it is of the nature of a sign, and he stressed that ideas can only be communicated through their physical effects.


A sign, or representamen, is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign. That sign which it creates I call the interpretant of the first sign.
The sign stands for something, its object. It stands for that object, not in all respects, but in reference to a sort of idea, which I have sometimes called the ground of the representamen.
(Condensed CP2-228)

Every representamen is thus connected with three things, the ground, the object, and the interpretant. (Condensed CP2-229)

The word Sign will be used to denote an Object perceptible, or only imaginable, or even unimaginable in one sense--for the word "fast," which is a Sign, is not imaginable, since it is not this word itself that can be set down on paper or pronounced, but only an instance of it, and since it is the very same word when it is written as it is when it is pronounced, but is one word when it means "rapidly" and quite another when it means "immovable," and a third when it refers to abstinence.
But in order that anything should be a Sign, it must "represent," as we say, something else, called its Object. (Condensed CP2-230)


In the case of triadic relations, no part of this work has, as yet, been satisfactorily performed, except in some measure for the most important class of triadic relations, those of signs, or representamens, to their objects and interpretants. (CP2-233)

Provisionally, we may make a rude division of triadic relations into-Triadic relations of comparison, Triadic relations of performance, and Triadic relations of thought.
Triadic relations of Comparison are those which are of the nature of logical possibilities.
Triadic relations of Performance are those which are of the nature of actual facts.
Triadic relations of Thought are those which are of the nature of a law.

A Representamen is the First Correlate of a triadic relation, the Second Correlate being termed its Object, and the possible Third Correlate being termed its Interpretant, by which triadic relation the possible Interpretant is determined to be the First Correlate of the same triadic relation to the same Object, and for some possible Interpretant. (CP2-242)

A Sign is a representamen of which some interpretant is a cognition of a mind.
Signs are the only representamens that have been much studied. (CP2-242)

Signs are divisible by three trichotomies: FIRST - according as the sign in itself is a mere quality, is an actual existent, or is a general law; SECOND -according as the relation of the sign to its object consists in the sign's having some character in itself, or in some existential relation to that object, or in its relation to an interpretant; THIRD -according as its Interpretant represents it as a sign of possibility or as a sign of fact or a sign of reason. (Condensed CP2-243)

§4. FIRST TRICHOTOMY OF SIGNS - according as the sign in itself is a mere quality, is an actual existent, or is a general law: 1)a Qualisign, 2) a Sinsign, or 3) a Legisign.

1) A Qualisign is a quality which is a Sign. It cannot actually act as a sign until it is embodied; but the embodiment has nothing to do with its character as a sign. (CP2-244)

2) A Sinsign (where the syllable sin is taken as meaning "being only once," as in single, simple.) is an actual existent thing or event which is a sign. It can only be so through its qualities; so that it involves a qualisign, or rather, several qualisigns. But these qualisigns are of a peculiar kind and only form a sign through being actually embodied. (CP2-245)

3) A Legisign is a law that is a Sign. This law is usually established by men. Every conventional sign is a legisign [but not conversely]. It is not a single object, but a general type which, it has been agreed, shall be significant. Every legisign signifies through an instance of its application, which may be termed a Replica of it. Thus, the word "the" will usually occur from fifteen to twenty-five times on a page. It is in all these occurrences one and the same word, the same legisign. Each single instance of it is a Replica. The Replica is a Sinsign. Thus, every Legisign requires Sinsigns. But these are not ordinary Sinsigns, such as are peculiar occurrences that are regarded as significant. Nor would the Replica be significant if it were not for the law which renders it so. (CP2-246)

§5. SECOND TRICHOTOMY OF SIGNS -according as the relation of the sign to its object consists 1) in the sign's having some character in itself, or 2) in some existential relation to that object, or 3) in its relation to an interpretant; A Sign may be termed 1) an Icon, 2) an Index, or3) a Symbol

1) An Icon is a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes merely by virtue of characters of its own, and which it possesses, just the same, whether any such Object actually exists or not. It is true that unless there really is such an Object, the Icon does not act as a sign; but this has nothing to do with its character as a sign. Anything whatever, be it quality, existent individual, or law, is an Icon of anything, in so far as it is like that thing and used as a sign of it. (CP2-247)

2) An Index is a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes by virtue of being really affected by that Object. It cannot, therefore, be a Qualisign, because qualities are whatever they are independently of anything else. In so far as the Index is affected by the Object, it necessarily has some Quality in common with the Object, and it is in respect to these that it refers to the Object. It does, therefore, involve a sort of Icon, although an Icon of a peculiar kind; and it is not the mere resemblance of its Object, even in these respects which makes it a sign, but it is the actual modification of it by the Object. the mere resemblance of its Object, even in these respects which makes it a sign, but it is the actual modification of it by the Object. (CP2-248)

3) A Symbol is a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes by virtue of a law, usually an association of general ideas, which operates to cause the Symbol to be interpreted as referring to that Object. It is thus itself a general type or law, that is, is a Legisign. As such it acts through a Replica. Not only is it general itself, but the Object to which it refers is of a general nature. Now that which is general has its being in the instances which it will determine. There must, therefore, be existent instances of what the Symbol denotes, although we must here understand by "existent," existent in the possibly imaginary universe to which the Symbol refers. The Symbol will indirectly, through the association or other law, be affected by those instances; and thus the Symbol will involve a sort of Index, although an Index of a peculiar kind. It will not, however, be by any means true that the slight effect upon the Symbol of those instances accounts for the significant character of the Symbol. (CP2-249)

§6. THIRD TRICHOTOMY OF SIGNS - according as its Interpretant represents it as a sign of possibility or as a sign of fact or as a sign of reason.
A Sign may be termed 1) a Rheme, 2) a Dicisign or a Dicent Sign (that is, a proposition or quasi-proposition), or 3) an Argument. (CP2-250)
(Note: A rheme is interpreted as a sign of possibility, a dicisign (or "dicent sign") is interpreted as a sign of actual existence, and an argument is interpreted as a sign of a law (or of a necessary truth).

2) A Dicent Sign is a Sign, which, for its Interpretant, is a Sign of actual existence. It cannot, therefore, be an Icon, which affords no ground for an interpretation of it as referring to actual existence.
1) Rheme is essential to the Dicisign, it by no means constitutes it. A Dicisign necessarily involves, as a part of it, a Rheme, to describe the fact which it is interpreted as indicating.
3) An Argument is a Sign which, for its Interpretant, is a Sign of law. (CP2-251-252)

1) A Rheme is a sign which is understood to represent its object in its characters merely; that 2) a Dicisign is a sign which is understood to represent its object in respect to actual existence; and that 3) an Argument is a Sign which is understood to represent its Object in its character as Sign. (CP2-252)

What is the essence of a Judgment?
A judgment is the mental act by which the judger seeks to impress upon himself the truth of a proposition. It is much the same as an act of asserting the proposition, or going before a notary and assuming formal responsibility for its truth, except that those acts are intended to affect others, while the judgment is only intended to affect oneself.
However, the logician, as such, cares not what the psychological nature of the act of judging may be. The question for him is: What is the nature of the sort of sign of which a principal variety is called a proposition, which is the matter upon which the act of judging is exercised?
The proposition need not be asserted or judged. It may be contemplated as a sign capable of being asserted or denied. This sign itself retains its full meaning whether it be actually asserted or not. The peculiarity of it, therefore, lies in its mode of meaning; and to say this is to say that its peculiarity lies in its relation to its interpretant.
The proposition professes to be really affected by the actual existent or real law to which it refers. The argument makes the same pretension, but that is not the principal pretension of the argument. The rheme makes no such pretension.

The Interpretant of the Argument represents it as an instance of a general class of Arguments, which class on the whole will always tend to the truth. It is this law, in some shape, which the argument urges; and this "urging" is the mode of representation proper to Arguments.
The Argument must, therefore, be a Symbol, or Sign whose Object is a General Law or Type.
It must involve a Dicent Symbol, or Proposition, which is termed its Premiss; for the Argument can only urge the law by urging it in an instance. (CP2-253)

The three trichotomies of Signs result together in dividing Signs into TEN CLASSES OF SIGNS, of which numerous subdivisions have to be considered. (CP2 -254-263)

Ten classes of signs, according to Peirce, are produced by triads of simple signs. Each of the ten classes of signs corresponds to a distinct triadic relation between the categories of firstness, secondness, and thirdness. Thus, the classification table shows that: (1) "qualisigns" correspond to the relation of firstness-firstness-firstness, (2) "iconic sinsigns" correpond to the relation of firstness-firstness-secondness, (3) "rhematic indexical sinsigns" correspond to the relation of firstness-secondness-secondness, (4) "dicent sinsigns" correspond to the relation of secondness-secondness-secondness, (5) "iconic legisigns" correspond to the relation of firstness-firstness-thirdness, (6) "rhematic indexical legisigns" correspond to the relation of firstness-secondness-thirdness, " (7) "dicent indexical legisigns" correspond to the relation of secondness-secondness-thirdness, (8) "rhematic symbols" correspond to the relation of firstness-thirdness-thirdness, (9) "dicent symbols" correspond to the relation of secondness-thirdness-thirdness, and (10) "arguments" correspond to the relation of thirdness-thirdness-thirdness. (Alex Scott: Peirce’s Theory of Signs)

An Argument is always understood by its Interpretant to belong to a general class of analogous arguments, which class, as a whole, tends toward the truth. This may happen in three ways, giving rise to a trichotomy of all simple arguments into Deductions, Inductions, and Abductions. (Condensed CP2-266)

Firstness, Secondness, and Thirdness

A sign is something that evokes something in some respect for someone. The sign stands for an object and, at the same time, it creates in the mind of that person another sign (called the “interpretant”) that interprets and translates the original sign into a meaningful idea.

Firstness is a condition of unmediated, unreflexive experience. It is an action without reaction, cause without effect, and sensation without perception. It is a possibility but not yet an event.
Secondness is a condition of mediated but not reflexive experience. It is an action and the reaction it evokes, cause and the effect, but not yet reflection on the experience. It is a perception but not a conceptual idea. It is an actual event but unreflective.
Thirdness is a condition of mediated, reflexive experience. It is an action and reaction, cause and effect, and the reflection of that experience resulting in the formation of habit or conceptual law.

Peirce’s semiotic follows this triadic structure. The sign is the first, the object it evokes is the second, and the interpretant which mediates the meaning of sign-object relation is the third.

Where signs are concerned, they are characterized by:
I. their presentative condition (the ground, or the quality that makes them a sign), a condition of firstness;
II. their representative condition (the relation in which they stand to their object), a condition of secondness;
III. their interpretative power (their ability to direct attention to an object in such a way as to evoke an interpretant), a condition of thirdness.

Each of these conditions is also follows a triadic structure.

I. Peirce identifies three types of signs as a function of their presentative condition.
Firstness: qualisigns, or qualities that act as signs (the color red),
Secondness: sinsigns, or actual instantiations of signs (a light that turns red), and
Thirdness: legisigns, or signs that have a meaning deriving from convention, habit, or law (a red traffic light that signals to drivers to stop).

II. He also identifies three types of signs as a function of their representative condition.
Firstness: icons, or signs that resemble their object (an image of fire),
Secondness: indices, or signs that are contiguous with, are caused by, or somehow point to their objects (smoke coming from a fire), and
Thirdness: symbols, or signs whose meanings are a function of convention, habit, or law (fire as knowledge in the story of Prometheus).

III. The same is true of signs as a function of their interpretive condition.
Firstness: rhemes identify a sign but do not reveal whether it exists or can be judged true or false (“a dog”),
Secondness: dicents are propositions that can be judged true or false (“a dog is an animal”), and
Thirdness: arguments are signs whose interpretation relates to convention, habit, or law (“a dog is a man’s best friend”).

One implication of these typologies is that we can identify ten types of signs ranging from the barely elaborated (rhematic iconic qualisigns such as “a nebulous patch of color, seeing a blotch of red in an afterimage, hearing the wind blow through an old house, the musty smell while walking in a forest, the aftertaste from a deliciously exotic meal”) to the complex (argumentative symbolic legisigns, where the “paradigm case is that of an inference of an argument, which shows the connection between one set of propositions [the premises] and another [the conclusion]”.

Why only ten types, rather than twenty-seven, as three sets of triads would suggest? Peirce argues the interpretive condition of a sign cannot be of a higher order than its representative condition, which in turn cannot be of a higher order than its presentative condition. That is, a qualisign (a first) cannot be a dicent (a second) or an argument (a third), nor can it be an index (a second) or a symbol (a third). As a result, the only type of qualisign conceivable is a rhematic iconic qualisign, but many types of legisigns are conceivable.

Peirce's Theory of Signs

The development of genuine thirdness, or Representation is by an elaborate process founded upon experience and reason combined.
There are three subclasses or genera of Thirdness:
1. a relatively qualitative thirdness or thirdness of the last degeneracy.
2. a relatively reactional thirdness or thirdness of the lesser degree of degeneracy,
3. a relatively genuine thirdness,

1. This last last degeneracy, the qualitatively degenerate genus, may subdivide, and its species may even be governed by the three categories, but it will not subdivide, in the manner which we are considering, by the essential determinations of its conception.
2. The genus corresponding to the lesser degree of degeneracy, the reactionally degenerate genus, will subdivide after the manner of the Second category, forming a catena.
3. The genus of relatively genuine Thirdness will subdivide by Trichotomy just like that from which it resulted. Only as the division proceeds, the subdivisions become harder and harder to discern.

Of these three genera of representamens, the Icon is the Qualitatively degenerate, the Index the Reactionally degenerate, while the Symbol is the relatively genuine genus.
(Reference: CP 5-72)

The most degenerate Thirdness is where we conceive a mere Quality of Feeling, or Firstness, to represent itself to itself as Representation. Such, for example, would be Pure Self-Consciousness, which might be roughly described as a mere feeling that has a dark instinct of being a germ of thought.(CP 5-71)

The representamen, for example, divides by trichotomy into the general sign or symbol, the index, and the icon.
1. An icon is a representamen which fulfills the function of a representamen by virtue of a character which it possesses in itself, and would possess just the same though its object did not exist. Thus, the statue of a centaur is not, it is true, a representamen if there be no such thing as a centaur. Still, if it represents a centaur, it is by virtue of its shape; and this shape it will have, just as much, whether there be a centaur or not.
2. An index is a representamen which fulfills the function of a representamen by virtue of a character which it could not have if its object did not exist, but which it will continue to have just the same whether it be interpreted as a representamen or not. For instance, an old-fashioned hygrometer is an index. For it is so contrived as to have a physical reaction with dryness and moisture in the air, so that the little man will come out if it is wet, and this would happen just the same if the use of the instrument should be entirely forgotten, so that it ceased actually to convey any information.
3. A symbol is a representamen which fulfills its function regardless of any similarity or analogy with its object and equally regardless of any factual connection therewith, but solely and simply because it will be interpreted to be a representamen. Such for example is any general word, sentence, or book.
(CP 5-73)


What Is a Sign?

§1. This is a most necessary question, since all reasoning is an interpretation of signs of some kind. But it is also a very difficult question, calling for deep reflection.

It is necessary to recognize three different states of mind. First, imagine a person in a dreamy state. Let us suppose he is thinking of nothing but a red color. Not thinking about it, either, that is, not asking nor answering any questions about it, not even saying to himself that it pleases him, but just contemplating it, as his fancy brings it up. Perhaps, when he gets tired of the red, he will change it to some other color,—say a turquoise blue,—or a rose-color;—but if he does so, it will be in the play of fancy without any reason and without any compulsion. This is about as near as may be to a state of mind in which something is present, without compulsion and without reason; it is called Feeling. Except in a half-waking hour, nobody really is in a state of feeling, pure and simple. But whenever we are awake, something is present to the mind, and what is present, without reference to any compulsion or reason, is feeling.

Second, imagine our dreamer suddenly to hear a loud and prolonged steam whistle. At the instant it begins, he is startled. He instinctively tries to get away; his hands go to his ears. It is not so much that it is unpleasing, but it forces itself so upon him. The instinctive resistance is a necessary part of it: the man would not be sensible his will was borne down, if he had no self-assertion to be borne down. It is the same when we exert ourselves against outer resistance; except for that resistance we should not have anything upon which to exercise strength. This sense of acting and of being acted upon, which is our sense of the reality of things,—both of outward things and of ourselves,—may be called the sense of Reaction. It does not reside in any one Feeling; it comes upon the breaking of one feeling by another feeling. It essentially involves two things acting upon one another

. Third, let us imagine that our now-awakened dreamer, unable to shut out the piercing sound, jumps up and seeks to make his escape by the door, which we will suppose had been blown to with a bang just as the whistle commenced. But the instant our man opens the door let us say the whistle ceases. Much relieved, he thinks he will return to his seat, and so shuts the door, again. No sooner, however, has he done so than the whistle recommences. He asks himself whether the shutting of the door had anything to do with it; and once more opens the mysterious portal. As he opens it, the sound ceases. He is now in a third state of mind: he is Thinking. That is, he is aware of learning, or of going through a process by which a phenomenon is found to be governed by a rule, or has a general knowable way of behaving. He finds that one action is the means, or middle, for bringing about another result. This third state of mind is entirely different from the other two. In the second there was only a sense of brute force; now there is a sense of government by a general rule. In Reaction only two things are involved; but in government there is a third thing which is a means to an end. The very word means signifies something which is in the middle between two others. Moreover, this third state of mind, or Thought, is a sense of learning, and learning is the means by which we pass from ignorance to knowledge. As the most rudimentary sense of Reaction involves two states of Feeling, so it will be found that the most rudimentary Thought involves three states of Feeling.

As we advance into the subject, these ideas, which seem hazy at our first glimpse of them, will come to stand out more and more distinctly; and their great importance will also force itself upon our minds.

§2. There are three kinds of interest we may take in a thing. First, we may have a primary interest in it for itself. Second, we may have a secondary interest in it, on account of its reactions with other things. Third, we may have a mediatory interest in it, in so far as it conveys to a mind an idea about a thing. In so far as it does this, it is a sign, or representation.

§3. There are three kinds of signs. Firstly, there are likenesses, or icons; which serve to convey ideas of the things they represent simply by imitating them. Secondly, there are indications, or indices; which show something about things, on account of their being physically connected with them. Such is a guidepost, which points down the road to be taken, or a relative pronoun, which is placed just after the name of the thing intended to be denoted, or a vocative exclamation, as "Hi! there," which acts upon the nerves of the person addressed and forces his attention. Thirdly, there are symbols, or general signs, which have become associated with their meanings by usage. Such are most words, and phrases, and speeches, and books, and libraries.

Let us consider the various uses of these three kinds of signs more closely.

§4. Likenesses. Photographs, especially instantaneous photographs, are very instructive, because we know that they are in certain respects exactly like the objects they represent. But this resemblance is due to the photographs having been produced under such circumstances that they were physically forced to correspond point by point to nature. In that aspect, then, they belong to the second class of signs, those by physical connection. The case is different, if I surmise that zebras are likely to be obstinate, or otherwise disagreeable animals, because they seem to have a general resemblance to donkeys, and donkeys are self-willed. Here the donkey serves precisely as a probable likeness of the zebra. It is true we suppose that resemblance has a physical cause in heredity; but then, this hereditary affinity is itself only an inference from the likeness between the two animals, and we have not (as in the case of the photograph) any independent knowledge of the circumstances of the production of the two species. Another example of the use of a likeness is the design an artist draws of a statue, pictorial composition, architectural elevation, or piece of decoration, by the contemplation of which he can ascertain whether what he proposes will be beautiful and satisfactory. The question asked is thus answered almost with certainty because it relates to how the artist will himself be affected. The reasoning of mathematicians will be found to turn chiefly upon the use of likenesses, which are the very hinges of the gates of their science. The utility of likenesses to mathematicians consists in their suggesting, in a very precise way, new aspects of supposed states of things. For example, suppose we have a winding curve, with continual points where the curvature changes from clockwise to counter-clockwise and conversely as in figure 1. Let us further suppose that this curve is continued so that it crosses itself at every such point of reversed bending in another such point. The result appears in figure 2. It may be described as a number of ovals flattened together, as if by pressure. One would not perceive that the first description and the second were equivalent, without the figures. We shall find, when we get further into the subject, that all these different uses of likeness may be brought under one general formula.

In intercommunication, too, likenesses are quite indispensable. Imagine two men who know no common speech, thrown together remote from the rest of the race. They must communicate; but how are they to do so? By imitative sounds, by imitative gestures, and by pictures. These are three kinds of likenesses. It is true that they will also use other signs, finger-pointings, and the like. But, after all, the likenesses will be the only means of describing the qualities of the things and actions which they have in mind. Rudimentary language, when men first began to talk together, must have largely consisted either in directly imitative words, or in conventional names which they attached to pictures. The Egyptian language is an excessively rude one. It was, as far as we know, the earliest to be written; and the writing is all in pictures. Some of these pictures came to stand for sounds,—letters and syllables. But others stand directly for ideas. They are not nouns; they are not verbs; they are just pictorial ideas.

§5. Indications. But pictures alone,—pure likenesses,—can never convey the slightest information. Thus, figure 3 suggests a wheel. But it leaves the spectator uncertain whether it is a copy of something actually existing or a mere play of fancy. The same thing is true of general language and of all symbols. No combination of words (excluding proper nouns, and in the absence of gestures or other indicative concomitants of speech) can ever convey the slightest information. This may sound paradoxical; but the following imaginary little dialogue will show how true it is:

Two men, A and B, meet on a country road, when the following conversation ensues.
B. The owner of that house is the richest man in these parts.
A. What house?
B. Why do you not see a house to your right about seven kilometres distant, on a hill?
A. Yes, I think I can descry it.
B. Very well; that is the house.

Thus, A has acquired information. But if he walks to a distant village and says "the owner of a house is the richest man in those parts," the remark will refer to nothing, unless he explains to his interlocutor how to proceed from where he is in order to find that district and that house. Without that, he does not indicate what he is talking about. To identify an object, we generally state its place at a stated time; and in every case must show how an experience of it can be connected with the previous experience of the hearer. To state a time, we must reckon from a known epoch,—either the present moment, or the assumed birth of Christ, or something of the sort. When we say the epoch must be known, we mean it must be connected with the hearer's experience. We also have to reckon in units of time; and there is no way of making known what unit we propose to use except by appealing to the hearer's experience. So no place can be described, except relatively to some known place; and the unit of distance used must be defined by reference to some bar or other object which people can actually use directly or indirectly in measurement. It is true that a map is very useful in designating a place; and a map is a sort of picture. But unless the map carries a mark of a known locality, and the scale of miles, and the points of the compass, it no more shows where a place is than the map in Gulliver's Travels shows the location of Brobdingnag. It is true that if a new island were found, say, in the Arctic Seas, its location could be approximately shown on a map which should have no lettering, meridians, nor parallels; for the familiar outlines of Iceland, Nova Zemla, Greenland, etc., serve to indicate the position. In such a case, we should avail ourselves of our knowledge that there is no second place that any being on this earth is likely to make a map of which has outlines like those of the Arctic shores. This experience of the world we live in renders the map something more than a mere icon and confers upon it the added characters of an index. Thus, it is true that one and the same sign may be at once a likeness and an indication. Still, the offices of these orders of signs are totally different. It may be objected that likenesses as much as indices are founded on experience, that an image of red is meaningless to the color blind, as is that of erotic passion to the child. But these are truly objections which help the distinction; for it is not experience, but the capacity for experience, which they show is requisite for a likeness; and this is requisite, not in order that the likeness should be interpreted, but in order that it should at all be presented to the sense. Very different is the case of the inexperienced and the experienced person meeting the same man and noticing the same peculiarities, which to the experienced man indicate a whole history, but to the inexperienced reveal nothing.

Let us examine some examples of indications. I see a man with a rolling gait. This is a probable indication that he is a sailor. I see a bowlegged man in corduroys, gaiters, and a jacket. These are probable indications that he is a jockey or something of the sort. A weathercock indicates the direction of the wind. A sun-dial or a clock indicates the time of day. Geometricians mark letters against the different parts of their diagrams and then use those letters to indicate those parts. Letters are similarly used by lawyers and others. Thus, we may say: If A and B are married to one another and C is their child while D is brother of A, then D is uncle of C. Here A, B, C, and D fulfill the office of relative pronouns, but are more convenient since they require no special collocation of words. A rap on the door is an indication. Anything which focuses the attention is an indication. Anything which startles us is an indication, in so far as it marks the junction between two portions of experience. Thus a tremendous thunderbolt indicates that something considerable happened, though we may not know precisely what the event was. But it may be expected to connect itself with some other experience.

§6. Symbols. The word symbol has so many meanings that it would be an injury to the language to add a new one. I do not think that the signification I attach to it, that of a conventional sign, or one depending upon habit (acquired or inborn), is so much a new meaning as a return to the original meaning. Etymologically, it should mean a thing thrown together, just as embolon (embolum) is a thing thrown into something, a bolt, and parabolon (parabolum) is a thing thrown besides, collateral security, and upobolon (hypobolum) is a thing thrown underneath, an antenuptial gift. It is usually said that in the word symbol, the throwing together is to be understood in the sense of to conjecture; but were that the case, we ought to find that sometimes, at least, it meant a conjecture, a meaning for which literature may be searched in vain. But the Greeks used "throw together" (sumballein) very frequently to signify the making of a contract or convention. Now, we do find symbol (sumbolon) early and often used to mean a convention or contract. Aristotle calls a noun a "symbol," that is, a conventional sign. In Greek, a watch-fire is a "symbol," that is, a signal agreed upon; a standard or ensign is a "symbol," a watch-word is a "symbol," a badge is a "symbol"; a church creed is called a symbol, because it serves as a badge or shibboleth; a theatre-ticket is called a "symbol"; any ticket or check entitling one to receive anything is a "symbol." Moreover, any expression of sentiment was called a "symbol." Such were the principal meanings of the word in the original language. The reader will judge whether they suffice to establish my claim that I am not seriously wrenching the word in employing it as I propose to do.

Any ordinary word, as "give," "bird," "marriage," is an example of a symbol. It is applicable to whatever may be found to realize the idea connected with the word; it does not, in itself, identify those things. It does not show us a bird, nor enact before our eyes a giving or a marriage, but supposes that we are able to imagine those things, and have associated the word with them.

§7. A regular progression of one, two, three may be remarked in the three orders of signs, Likeness, Index, Symbol. The likeness has no dynamical connection with the object it represents; it simply happens that its qualities resemble those of that object, and excite analogous sensations in the mind for which it is a likeness. But it really stands unconnected with them. The index is physically connected with its object; they make an organic pair. But the interpreting mind has nothing to do with this connection, except remarking it, after it is established. The symbol is connected with its object by virtue of the idea of the symbol-using mind, without which no such connection would exist.

Every physical force reacts between a pair of particles, either of which may serve as an index of the other. On the other hand, we shall find that every intellectual operation involves a triad of symbols.

§8. A symbol, as we have seen, cannot indicate any particular thing; it denotes a kind of thing. Not only that, but it is itself a kind and not a single thing. You can write down the word "star"; but that does not make you the creator of the word, nor if you erase it have you destroyed the word. The word lives in the minds of those who use it. Even if they are all asleep, it exists in their memory. So we may admit, if there be reason to do so, that generals are mere words without at all saying, as Ockham supposed, that they are really individuals.

Symbols grow. They come into being by development out of other signs, particularly from likenesses or from mixed signs partaking of the nature of likenesses and symbols. We think only in signs. These mental signs are of mixed nature; the symbol-parts of them are called concepts. If a man makes a new symbol, it is by thoughts involving concepts. So it is only out of symbols that a new symbol can grow. Omne symbolum de symbolo. A symbol, once in being, spreads among the peoples. In use and in experience, its meaning grows. Such words as force, law, wealth, marriage, bear for us very different meanings from those they bore to our barbarous ancestors. The symbol may, with Emerson's sphynx, say to man,

Of thine eye I am eyebeam.

§9. In all reasoning, we have to use a mixture of likenesses, indices, and symbols. We cannot dispense with any of them. The complex whole may be called a symbol; for its symbolic, living character is the prevailing one. A metaphor is not always to be despised: though a man may be said to be composed of living tissues, yet portions of his nails, teeth, hair, and bones, which are most necessary to him, have ceased to undergo the metabolic processes which constitute life, and there are liquids in his body which are not alive. Now, we may liken the indices we use in reasoning to the hard parts of the body, and the likenesses we use to the blood: the one holds us stiffly up to the realities, the other with its swift changes supplies the nutriment for the main body of thought.

Suppose a man to reason as follows: The Bible says that Enoch and Elijah were caught up into heaven; then, either the Bible errs, or else it is not strictly true that all men are mortal. What the Bible is, and what the historic world of men is, to which this reasoning relates, must be shown by indices. The reasoner makes some sort of mental diagram by which he sees that his alternative conclusion must be true, if the premise is so; and this diagram is an icon or likeness. The rest is symbols; and the whole may be considered as a modified symbol. It is not a dead thing, but carries the mind from one point to another. The art of reasoning is the art of marshalling such signs, and of finding out the truth.




Abduction is one of the three forms of logical argument. The other two are deduction and induction.

Deduction is the familar form of syllogistic reasoning in which from true premises one can derive necessarily true conclusions by following the rules of deductive logic. If all M are P, and S is M, then S is P.

Induction draws conclusions which are not certain from multiple examples. For example, if all observed swans are white, an inductive conclusion is "all swans are white." Or if two-thirds of observed cows are brown, the probability of another cow being brown is assumed to be two-thirds. This is the frequentist definition of probability.

If a jar contains 100 balls, 60 black and 40 white, then the probability of drawing a black ball is .6. This is a priori probability and is related to enumerative or exhaustive induction. If you know all the instances of swans in the pond are white, the conclusion "all swans in this pond are white" is true.

Abduction as a form of reasoning is relatively new. Charles Sanders Peirce called it abduction to infer a premise from a conclusion. For example, since if it rains, the grass gets wet, one can abduce (hypothesize) that it probably rained.

Strictly speaking, abductive reasoning is fallacious, a logical error. But Peirce argued that this kind of reasoning has evolved in humans, who have become adept at selecting the best hypothesis to explain the condition.

Peirce identified his abduction with the scientific method of hypothesis-deduction-observation-experiment. In this case, the scientist makes various guesses (hypotheses) to explain some observations. Once the hypothesis is formed, deduction is used to predict other logical consequences. Experiments then establish the truth or falsity of these consequences.

Notice that if the deductions predict phenomena not previously known, the confirmed consequences are not a part of the original phenomena that led to the hypothesis (usually inductively). Newly predicted (discovered) phenomena carry more weight than those originally known.

Peirce knew that hypotheses need not be arrived at by induction. They could be just intuitions or lucky guesses or, as Einstein later called them, "free creations of the human mind." Their origin does not matter (genetic fallacy). The "truth" of a hypothesis lies in its experimental verification and explanatory power.

Peirce's Logic
Peirce's Logic

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The Logic of Abduction

Peirce presents three logical forms: abduction, deduction, and induction. Abduction generates hypotheses; deduction makes predictions based on those hypotheses; induction winnows the hypotheses by testing the predictions generated by deduction. This process “approximates” experience. It is, at the same time, an “explanation” of experience. It is close to the way that we get an increasingly better handle on life. (Lecture VII, Turrisi page 97 (page 54 herein)).
(Sandia page 12)

Pragmatism, Peirce wrote, is .nothing else than the logic of abduction. (Lecture VII, footnote 4, Turrisi page 282 (page 57 herein)).
For example, suppose we are in the midst of our work, considering a number of facts but not able to see any general principles. However, it suddenly comes to us that if a certain principle were true, then it would explain these facts. This process is abduction. Mendeleev’s development of the Periodic Table is an example of abduction. He sought the general principle that would explain the facts of inorganic chemistry. He noticed that if atomic weights were the general principle, then it would explain the facts.

Abduction is the process that generates hypotheses and has the following logical form:
    “The surprising fact, C, is observed;
    “But if A were true, C would be a matter of course.
    “Hence, there is reason to suspect that A is true.. (Lecture VII, Turrisi page 245 (page 56 herein))

Each of us has an “abduction engine” in the “uncontrollable” parts of our minds (i.e., our subconscious) which provides for us a stream of hypotheses about the world around us.

Peirce’s three propositions of pragmatism, from which much of the above material can be derived, are as follows:
1. Everything in our minds is based on something generated by our senses.
2. Perceptual judgments include generality, which enables us to produce general statements based on them.
3. The subconscious uses abduction to produce perceptual judgments; the conscious mind does not criticize those perceptual judgments. (Lecture VII, Turrisi pages 241-2 (page 54 herein))
(Sandia page 8)

The logic of abduction is a logic of discovery: it studies how we are guided in constructing new hypotheses from the ruins of defeated ones; and it examines the norms guiding us in deciding which hypotheses are worth testing. All scientific activity is grounded in the hope that the universe is intelligible, and intelligible to us. And we are to take seriously no hypothesis that ‘blocks the road of inquiry’, forcing us to accept regularities as brute or inexplicable. It is connected to this that Peirce espouses ‘synechism’, the doctrine that we are to expect the universe to display continuities rather than discontinuities.
Peirce contributed to the mathematical analysis of continuity, exploiting his ideas about the logic of relations and trying to use it as the basis of his realism about natural necessity: continuity is ‘ultimate mediation’. The logic of abduction advises us to favour theories that posit continuities over those that allow for brute unmediated discontinuities.



Perception and Perceptual Judgment

619. Let us say that, as I sit here writing, I see on the other side of my table, a yellow chair with a green cushion. That will be what psychologists term a "percept" (res percepta). They also frequently call it an "image." With this term I shall pick no quarrel. Only one must be on one's guard against a false impression that it might insinuate. Namely, an "image" usually means something intended to represent, --virtually professing to represent, --something else, real or ideal. So understood, the word "image" would be a misnomer for a percept. The chair I appear to see makes no professions of any kind, essentially embodies no intentions of any kind, does not stand for anything. It obtrudes itself upon my gaze; but not as a deputy for anything else, not "as" anything. It simply knocks at the portal of my soul and stands there in the doorway.
620. I am forced to confess that it appears. Not only does it appear, but it disturbs me, more or less. I cannot think the appearance is not there, nor dismiss it as I would a fancy.
621. It is a forceful thing. Yet it offers no reason, defence, nor excuse for its presence. It does not pretend to any right to be there. It silently forces itself upon me.

622. Such is the percept. Now what is its logical bearing upon knowledge and belief. This may be summed up in three items, as follows:
1st, it contributes something positive. (Thus, the chair has its four legs, seat, and back, its yellow color, its green cushion, etc. To learn this is a contribution to knowledge.)
2nd, it compels the perceiver to acknowledge it.
3rd, it neither offers any reason for such acknowledgment nor makes any pretension to reasonableness. This last point distinguishes the percept from an axiom. I am a total disbeliever in axioms; but so far as the proposition, say, that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points even so much as seems to be self-evident, it seems to be reasonable. It is as founded in reason or in the nature of things, or as founded in something, that it recommends itself. The percept, on the contrary, is absolutely dumb. It acts upon us, it forces itself upon us; but it does not address the reason, nor appeal to anything for support.

625. Thus, two utterly different kinds of elements go to compose any percept. In the first place, there are the qualities of feeling or sensation, each of which is something positive and sui generis, being such as it is quite regardless of how or what anything else is. On account of this self-sufficiency, it is convenient to call these the elements of "Firstness."
In the percept, these elements of Firstness are perceived to be connected in definite ways. A visual percept of a chair has a definite shape. If it is yellow with a green cushion, that is quite different from being green with a yellow cushion. These connectives are directly perceived, and the perception of each of them is a perception at once of two opposed objects, --a double awareness. In respect to each of these connections, one part of the percept appears as it does relatively to a second part. Hence, it is convenient to call them elements of "Secondness."
The vividness with which a percept stands out is an element of secondness; because the percept is vivid in proportion to the intensity of its effect upon the perceiver. These elements of secondness bring with them the peculiar singleness of the percept.
This singleness consists in a double definiteness. For on the one hand, the percept contains no blank gaps which, in representing it, we are free to fill as we like. What I mean will be seen if we consider any knowledge we can have of the future. I heard somebody say that the Brooklyn bridge would fall some day. The only way in which he could even think he knew that would be by knowing that any bridge I might select that should be constructed in a certain way would fall. There is no such universality about the percept. It is quite individual. On the other hand, the definiteness of the percept is of a perfectly explicit kind. In any knowledge of the past something is, as it were, held in reserve. There is an indicated gap which we are not free to fill but which further information may fill. We know that the Sphinx was made by some king of Egypt. But what one? The percept, however, exhibits itself in full. These two kinds of definiteness, first, that the percept offers no range of freedom to anybody who may undertake to represent it, and secondly, that it reserves no freedom to itself to be one way or another way, taken together, constitute that utter absence of "range" which is called the singularity, or singleness, of the percept, the one making it individual and the other positive. The percept is, besides, whole and undivided. It has parts, in the sense that in thought it can be separated; but it does not represent itself to have parts. In its mode of being as a percept it is one single and undivided whole.

626. The percept is not the only thing that we ordinarily say we "perceive"; and when I professed to believe only what I perceived, of course I did not mean percepts, since percepts are not subjects of belief or disbelief. I meant perceptual judgments. Given a percept, this percept does not describe itself; for description involves analysis, while the percept is whole and undivided. But once having a percept, I may contemplate it, and say to myself, 'That appears to be a yellow chair'; and our usual language is that we "perceive" it to be a yellow chair, although this is not a percept, but a judgment about a present percept.

627. The perceptual judgment is all but in the same relation to knowledge and belief as is the percept. It is true that I may, by an effort of will, abstain from thinking about the color of the chair, so that the judgment 'the chair appears yellow' is not unconditionally forced upon me, and thus might seem not quite fully to partake of the character of perception. One can, however, escape the percept itself by shutting one's eyes. If one sees, one cannot avoid the percept; and if one looks, one cannot avoid the perceptual judgment. Once apprehended, it absolutely compels assent. Its defect in forcefulness is thus excessively slight and of no logical importance.

628. To about the same degree its forcefulness falls short of the utter irrationality of that of the percept. The perceptual judgment professes to represent the percept. A logical defence of it would therefore have to be founded either on the percept as a premiss of that logical defence, or else on the percept as a fact represented by such premiss. But the percept cannot be a premiss, since it is not a proposition; and a statement of the character of the percept would have to rest on the perceptual judgment, instead of this on that. Thus, the perceptual judgment does not represent the percept logically. In what intelligible manner, then, does it represent the percept? It cannot be a copy of it; for, as will presently appear, it does not resemble the percept at all. There remains but one way in which it can represent the percept; namely, as an index, or true symptom, just as a weathercock indicates the direction of the wind or a thermometer the temperature. There is no warrant for saying that the perceptual judgment actually is such an index of the percept, other than the ipse dixit of the perceptual judgment itself. And even if it be so, what is an index, or true symptom? It is something which, without any rational necessitation, is forced by blind fact to correspond to its object. To say, then, that the perceptual judgment is an infallible symptom of the character of the percept means only that in some unaccountable manner we find ourselves impotent to refuse our assent to it in the presence of the percept, and that there is no appeal from it. Thus, the forcefulness of the perceptual judgment falls short of the pure unreasonableness of the percept only to this extent, that it does profess to represent the percept, while the perfection of the percept's surdity consists in its not so much as professing anything.

629. The perceptual judgment, then, does not quite accurately fulfill the condition of forcefulness nor that of irrationality, as it should do to be strictly entitled to be considered a product of perception. But the differences are so minute and so unimportant logically that it will be convenient to neglect them. Perhaps I might be permitted to invent the term percipuum to include both percept and perceptual judgment.

630. I promised to show that a perceptual judgment is entirely unlike a percept. If it be true, as my analysis makes it to be, that a percept contains only two kinds of elements, those of firstness and those of secondness, then the great overshadowing point of difference is that the perceptual judgment professes to represent something, and thereby does represent something, whether truly or falsely. This is a very important difference, since the idea of representation is essentially what may be termed an element of "Thirdness," that is, involves the idea of determining one thing to refer to another. The element of secondness in the percept consists in one part being relative to another. But the percept presents itself ready made, and contains no idea of any state of things being brought about.
The idea of Firstness, or that of a positive suchness, and the idea of Secondness, or that of one thing's referring to another, can in no way be combined so as to produce the idea of one thing A, referring to a second, B, in the very act of referring to a third, C. This is the element of Thirdness, or mediation, which the conception of the representation of something to somebody obviously involves. In a perceptual judgment the mind professes to tell the mind's future self what the character of the present percept is. The percept, on the contrary, stands on its own legs and makes no professions of any kind.

631. There are several other points of contrast between the perceptual judgment and the percept that are calculated to exhibit their disparateness. The judgment, "This chair appears yellow," separates the color from the chair, making the one predicate and the other subject. The percept, on the other hand, presents the chair in its entirety and makes no analysis whatever.

634. It may be objected that the terms of the judgment resemble the percept. Let us consider, first, the predicate, 'yellow' in the judgment that 'this chair appears yellow.' This predicate is not the sensation involved in the percept, because it is general. It does not even refer particularly to this percept but to a sort of composite photograph of all the yellows that have been seen. If it resembles the sensational element of the percept, this resemblance consists only in the fact that a new judgment will predicate it of the percept, just as this judgment does. It also awakens in the mind an imagination involving a sensational element. But taking all these facts together, we find that there is no relation between the predicate of the perceptual judgment and the sensational element of the percept, except forceful connections.

635. The perceptual judgment is not a copy, icon, or diagram of the percept. It may be reckoned as a higher grade of the operation of perception.

643. We know nothing about the percept otherwise than by testimony of the perceptual judgment, excepting that we feel the blow of it, the reaction of it against us, and we see the contents of it arranged into an object, in its totality, -excepting also, of course, what the psychologists are able to make out inferentially. But the moment we fix our minds upon it and think the least thing about the percept, it is the perceptual judgment that tells us what we so perceive." For this and other reasons, I propose to consider the percept as it is immediately interpreted in the perceptual judgment, under the name of the "percipuum." The percipuum, then, is what forces itself upon your acknowledgment, without any why or wherefore, so that if anybody asks you why you should regard it as appearing so and so, all you can say is, 'I can't help it. That is how I see it.' For example, one of the foolish questions with which treatises on physics used to abound was why things look right side up, when the images on the two retinas are upside down; and sundry sapient reasons more or less abstruse were given for their looking as they do. Now such arguments might have proved that things really are right side up, or perhaps they might have shown what physiological and psychical agencies cause us to regard them as right side up; but if anybody were to ask you why you should regard the visual images as right side up like the things themselves, rather than upside down like the optical images on the retinae, how you were justified in doing so, your only possible answer would be "They do look so, and I cannot make them look otherwise," whether it is reasonable for them to look so or not. Sometimes when I have been seated in a railway-car that was stationary and another train has been slowly passing by, I have been vexed at the unreasonableness of its appearing to me that our train was moving and the other train was at rest. I have reasoned with my perception. I have asked, "Is there jarring such as there is when one is in a moving car?" No. "Is there any noise of the wheels?" No. "Is there anything at all in the looks of either train that is more as if we were moving rather than they?" Quite the reverse. "Then why do I have the idea that that train is at rest and that we are moving?" There is no answer except that such is the percipuum, and I cannot help it.

Perceptual Judgment

*Perception is, for the logician, simply what experience is, that is, the succession of what happens to him, forces him to admit immediately and without any reason.
*Now the real world is the world of percepts, concerning which perceptual judgments are our only witnesses.
*All that I can mean by a perceptual judgment is a judgment absolutely forced upon my acceptance and that by a process which I am utterly unable to control and consequently am unable to criticize.
*For reaction is existence and the perceptual judgment is the cognitive product of a reaction.
*Perceptual Judgment is conclusion, provided by the subconscious, that arises from experience.
(Lecture VI, Turrisi pages 238 and 223 (Sandia page 67)).

First a precept is formed, then, sometime later in the process, a judgment about the precept is formed, and then, sometime later, cognition begins. The activity prior to cognition is subconscious and uncontrollable. Thus there is no sense in criticizing the goodness or badness of this part of that activity but only in judging its consistency. Precept formation and perceptual judgment generate the premises of our reasoning.
The process of inference is a conscious activity and thus subject to the critique of logic which weeds the good from the bad. The subconscious uses a similar process but it is not "inference" because it is outside of conscious control: it does not make sense to judge whether this process is good or bad.
Philip L. Campbell presents his understanding of the relationship between "precept formation", "perceptual judgment", and "cognition", i.e., the Steps to Cognition, as Peirce describes them:
precept formation → perceptual judgment → cognition
(Sandia page 38)

We do not derive generality. Rather, generality comes to our consciousness as part of perceptual judgments.(Sandia page 45)

Generality in Perceptual Judgments
A general concept or proposition is one that describes a class and is in this sense universal. On the other hand, a singular concept or proposition is one that describes an individual. All singular concepts or propositions depend upon general concepts or propositions for their meaning. For example, the proposition "Tully is Cicero", which is a singular, depends upon the general concept of identity.
The same parallelism applies to perceptual judgments: they are based on generalities, which are Thirdness. So Peirce says, "Thirdness pours in upon us through every avenue of sense" (Lecture VI, Turrisi page 224 (page 49 herein)). That is, perceptual judgment is Thirdness.
(Sandia page 46)

Perceptual judgments can only assert existence because perceptual judgments are developed in reaction to the world (and they are outside the control of consciousness). Perceptual judgments have the capacity to reveal facts but they do not do so necessarily. If I perceive (by perceptual judgment) that event A precedes event C because (1) event A precedes event B and (2) event B precedes event C, then from this I can infer a universal proposition, labeled "transitivity", namely "If A precedes B, and B precedes C, then A precedes C".
(Sandia page 49)

By a perceptual judgment, I mean a judgment asserting in propositional form what a character of a percept directly present to the mind is. The percept of course is not itself a judgment, nor can a judgment in any degree resemble a percept. It is as unlike it as the printed letters in a book, where a Madonna of Murillo is described, are unlike the picture itself. (CP 5-54)

Where then in the process of cognition does the possibility of controlling it begin?
Even after the percept is formed there is an operation which seems to me to be quite uncontrollable. It is that of judging what it is that the person perceives. A judgment is an act of formation of a mental proposition with an adoption of it or act of assent to it. A percept on the other hand is an image or moving picture or other exhibition. The perceptual judgment, that is, the first judgment of a person as to what is before his senses, bears no more resemblance to the percept than this figure, ||-||, is like a man. ... Consequently, until I am better advised, I shall consider the perceptual judgment to be utterly beyond control. Should I be wrong in this, the Percept, at all events, would seem to be so. (CP 5-115)

It follows, then, that our perceptual judgments are the first premisses of all our reasonings and that they cannot be called in question. (CP 5-116)

All our knowledge rests upon perceptual judgments. These are necessarily veracious in greater or less degree according to the effort made, but there is no meaning in saying that they have any other truth than veracity, since a perceptual judgment can never be repeated. At most we can say of a perceptual judgment that its relation to other perceptual judgments is such as to permit a simple theory of the facts. Thus I may judge that I see a clean white surface. But a moment later I may question whether the surface really was clean, and may look again more sharply. If this second more veracious judgment still asserts that I see a clean surface, the theory of the facts will be simpler than if, at my second look, I discern that the surface is soiled. Still, even in this last case, I have no right to say that my first percept was that of a soiled surface. I absolutely have no testimony concerning it, except my perceptual judgment, and although that was careless and had no high degree of veracity, still I have to accept the only evidence in my possession. Now consider any other judgment I may make. That is a conclusion of inferences ultimately based on perceptual judgments, and since these are indisputable, all the truth which my judgment can have must consist in the logical correctness of those inferences. (CP 5-142)

Perceptual Judgment and Abduction

A “perceptual judgment” is the recognition of a type in some perceptual field. For example, when we recognize a table, we have made a perceptual judgment. In this example, the perceptual field is our visual field and a table is a type of object. Perceptual judgments are made by the subconscious mind. The process whereby perceptual judgments are made is abduction. We may understand the logical form of abduction but we do not understand how the process is performed. Our own minds provide us with a working model from which we can learn. As we pragmatically apply Peirce’s three logical forms to the perceptual judgments that our own subconscious serves up to us, we will be better able to refine our conscious minds and make better decisions.

Peirce argued that there were three phenomenological categories, which he called “Firstness”, “Secondness”, and “Thirdness”. A Firstness experience involves a perception without a perceptual judgment, like seeing the color red. A Secondness experience is a reaction. There are always two parties to a Second, hence the name. A Thirdness experience involves an object, a symbol, and someone to connect the two. There are always three parties to a Thirdness, hence the name.
(Sandia page 12-13)

Pragmatism is based on three truths:
(a) our conceptions are based on perceptual judgments;
(b) perceptual judgments contain generality, implying that we perceive Thirdness;
(c) abduction is similar to perception. Perceptual judgments serve cognition by populating propositions.

The process (beyond conscious control) by which perceptions generate perceptual judgments is abductive. Pragmatism appears to be a similar abductive process, based on concepts. Thus the logic of abduction is the basis of pragmatism.
(Sandia page 52)

Our conceptions are based on perceptual judgments. Perceptual judgments serve cognition by populating propositions.
Abduction is similar to perception. The process (beyond conscious control) by which perceptions generate perceptual judgments is abductive.
Pragmatism is based on concepts. Pragmatism appears to be a similar abductive process.
Thus the logic of abduction is the basis of pragmatism.

In Lecture Seven, Peirce argues that pragmatism uses abduction. The process by which perceptual judgments are generated is also abductive.

The Cotary Propositions of Pragmatism:
Peirce"s three "cotary" propositions describe aspects of the mind.
1: Everything in our minds is based on something generated by our senses.
2: Perceptual judgments include generality, which enables us to generate general statements based on them.
3: The subconscious uses abduction to generate perceptual judgments; the conscious mind does not criticize those perceptual judgments.
(Sandia page 53)

Perception and abduction are both inferences in that they find out something we do not know, based on something that we do. They both explain something by generating perceptual judgments and hypotheses, respectively.
Perceptual judgments are the basis for abduction. An abduction, like a perceptual judgment, is an explanation. However, the explanation is already in the premises.
An abduction is unlike a perceptual judgment in that it can be questioned and denied.
(Sandia page 54)

The unquestioned nature of perceptual judgment is the "test of inconceivability". if it appears to us inconceivable that a concept could be questioned, then the concept is the result of perceptual judgment; otherwise, it is the result of abductive judgment. (Sandia page 56)



Issues of Pragmatism

In 1905, in "Issues of Pragmaticism" (sel. 25), Peirce restated his pragmatic maxim in semiotic terms, along lines suggested in his sixth Harvard Lecture (sel. 15). He identified the meaning that pragmaticism seeks to enunciate as that of symbols rather than of simple conceptions. The thrust of this article was to articulate his forms of critical common-sensism and scholastic realism, which he regarded as consequences (or "issues") of pragmaticism. He extended his realism to include the acceptance of "real vagues" and "real possibilities," and he pointed out that "it is the reality of some possibilities that pragmaticism is most concerned to insist upon." According to Fisch, pragmaticism had now become pragmatism "purged of the nominalistic dross of its original exposition". (Introduction to EP Volume 2)

Initially titled "The Consequences of Pragmaticism" as were several other earlier documents, Peirce changed the title in its last draft (MS 290). Peirce begins by restating his pragmatic maxim in semiotic terms, by identifying the meaning that pragmaticism seeks to enunciate as that of symbols rather than of conceptions. He devotes most of this article to a consideration of two long-held doctrines, now seen to be consequences of pragmaticism: critical common-sensism and scholastic realism. Peirce enumerates and discusses "six distinctive characters" of critical common-sensism, among them the important doctrine of vague ideas. He extends his realism to include the acceptance of "real vagues" and "real possibilities," and he points out that "it is the reality of some possibilities that pragmaticism is most concerned to insist upon." Because of this, Max Fisch has claimed that pragmaticism is pragmatism "purged of the nominalistic dross of its original exposition." (Head Notes for the EP 2, Chapter 25)

Pragmaticism is not a system of philosophy. It is only a method of thinking. … Of those who have used this way of thinking Berkeley is the clearest example, though Locke (especially in the fourth book of his Essay), Spinoza, and Kant may be claimed as adherents of it. (CP8-206)

Although pragmaticism is not a philosophy, it best comports with the English philosophy, and more particularly with the Scotch doctrine of common sense. (CP8-207)

In an article ("Issues of Pragmaticism") which should have appeared in the July 1905 Monist,…I specify six errors which I find in the Scotch doctrine of common sense, of which the most important is that those philosophers failed to remark the extreme vagueness of our indubitable beliefs. For example, everybody's actions show that it is impossible to doubt that there is an element of order in the world; but the moment we attempt to define that orderliness we find room for doubt. There is, besides, another respect in which pragmaticism is at issue not only with English philosophy more particularly, but with all modern philosophy more or less, even with Hegel; and that is that it involves a complete rupture with nominalism. Even Duns Scotus is too nominalistic when he says that universals are contracted to the mode of individuality in singulars, meaning, as he does, by singulars, ordinary existing things. The pragmaticist cannot admit that. I myself went too far in the direction of nominalism when I said that it was a mere question of the convenience of speech whether we say that a diamond is hard when it is not pressed upon, or whether we say that it is soft until it is pressed upon. I now say that experiment will prove that the diamond is hard, as a positive fact. That is, it is a real fact that it would resist pressure, which amounts to extreme scholastic realism. I deny that pragmaticism as originally defined by me made the intellectual purport of symbols to consist in our conduct. On the contrary, I was most careful to say that it consists in our concept of what our conduct would be upon conceivable occasions. (CP8-208)

Excerpt and condensation from Charles S. Peirce’s “Issues of Pragmatism”

Pragmatic maxim is restated in the indicative mood, as follows: The entire intellectual purport of any symbol consists in the total of all general modes of rational conduct which, conditionally upon all the possible different circumstances and desires, would ensue upon the acceptance of the symbol.

Six Characters of Critical Common-sensism
1. That there not only are indubitable propositions but also that there are indubitable inferences.
2. Indubitable propositions changed with a thinking man.
3. The Scotch philosophers recognized that the original beliefs were of the general nature of instincts. The great facts have always been known; such as that instinct seldom errs, while reason goes wrong nearly half the time, if not more frequently.
4. The most distinctive character of the Critical Common-sensist, in contrast to the old Scotch philosopher, lies in his insistence that the acritically indubitable is invariably vague.
5. The Critical Common-sensist will be further distinguished from the old Scotch philosopher by the great value he attaches to doubt.
6. Critical Common-sensism may fairly lay claim to this title for two sorts of reasons; namely, that on the one hand it subjects to rigid criticism; while on the other hand it has besides some claim to be called Critical from the fact that it is but a modification of Kantism.

Another doctrine which is involved in Pragmaticism is the scholastic doctrine of realism.
He extended his realism to include the acceptance of "real vagues" and "real possibilities,"

438. Pragmaticism was originally enounced in the form of a maxim, as follows: Consider what effects that might conceivably have practical bearings you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object.
I will restate this in other words. … This time it shall be in the indicative mood, as follows: The entire intellectual purport of any symbol consists in the total of all general modes of rational conduct which, conditionally upon all the possible different circumstances and desires, would ensue upon the acceptance of the symbol.

439. Two doctrines that were defended by the writer about nine years before the formulation of pragmaticism may be treated as consequences of the latter belief. One of these may be called Critical Common-sensism. It is a variety of the Philosophy of Common Sense, but is marked by six distinctive characters, which had better be enumerated at once.

440. Character I. Critical Common-sensism admits that there not only are indubitable propositions but also that there are indubitable inferences.
In one sense, anything evident is indubitable; but the propositions and inferences which Critical Common-sensism holds to be original, in the sense one cannot "go behind" them (as the lawyers say), are indubitable in the sense of being acritical.
The term "reasoning" ought to be confined to such fixation of one belief by another as is reasonable, deliberate, self-controlled.
A reasoning must be conscious; and this consciousness is not mere "immediate consciousness," which (as I argued in 1868) is simple Feeling viewed from another side, but is in its ultimate nature, a sense of taking a habit, or disposition to respond to a given kind of stimulus in a given kind of way.
The machinery of logical self-control works on the same plan as does moral self-control, in multiform detail. … The formation of habits under imaginary action is one of the most essential ingredients of both; but in the logical process the imagination takes far wider flights, proportioned to the generality of the field of inquiry, being bounded in pure mathematics solely by the limits of its own powers, while in the moral process we consider only situations that may be apprehended or anticipated. For in moral life we are chiefly solicitous about our conduct and its inner springs, and the approval of conscience, while in intellectual life there is a tendency to value existence as the vehicle of forms.
Certain obvious features of the phenomena of self-control (and especially of habit) can be expressed compactly and without any hypothetical addition, except what we distinctly rate as imagery, by saying that we have an occult nature of which and of its contents we can only judge by the conduct that it determines, and by phenomena of that conduct.
All will assent to that (or all but the extreme nominalist), as it were, a skin, a separate tissue, overlying an unconscious region of the occult nature, mind, soul, or physiological basis. It appears to me that in the present state of our knowledge a sound methodeutic prescribes that, in adhesion to the appearances, the difference is only relative and the demarcation not precise.

441. According to the maxim of Pragmaticism, to say that determination affects our occult nature is to say that it is capable of affecting deliberate conduct; and since we are conscious of what we do deliberately, we are conscious habitualiter of whatever hides in the depths of our nature; and it is presumable that a sufficiently energetic effort of attention would bring it out. Consequently, to say that an operation of the mind is controlled is to say that it is, in a special sense, a conscious operation; and this no doubt is the consciousness of reasoning.
For this theory requires that in reasoning we should be conscious, not only of the conclusion, and of our deliberate approval of it, but also of its being the result of the premiss from which it does result, and furthermore that the inference is one of a possible class of inferences which conform to one guiding principle.
Now in fact we find a well-marked class of mental operations, clearly of a different nature from any others which do possess just these properties. They alone deserve to be called reasonings; and if the reasoner is conscious, even vaguely, of what his guiding principle is, his reasoning should be called a logical argumentation.
There are, however, cases in which we are conscious that a belief has been determined by another given belief, but are not conscious that it proceeds on any general principle. Such is St. Augustine's "cogito, ergo sum." Such a process should be called, not a reasoning, but an acritical inference.
Again, there are cases in which one belief is determined by another, without our being at all aware of it. These should be called associational suggestions of belief.

442. Now the theory of Pragmaticism was originally based, as anybody will see who examines the papers of November 1877 and January 1878, upon a study of that experience of the phenomena of self-control which is common to all grown men and women; and it seems evident that to some extent, it must always be so based. For it is to conceptions of deliberate conduct that Pragmaticism would trace the intellectual purport of symbols; and deliberate conduct is self-controlled conduct.

443. It is important for the reader to satisfy himself that genuine doubt always has an external origin, usually from surprise; and that it is as impossible for a man to create in himself a genuine doubt by such an act of the will as would suffice to imagine the condition of a mathematical theorem, as it would be for him to give himself a genuine surprise by a simple act of the will.

444. Character II. Indubitable propositions changed with a thinking man.
I do not remember that any of the old Scotch philosophers ever undertook to draw up a complete list of the original beliefs, but they certainly thought it a feasible thing, and that the list would hold good for the minds of all men from Adam down. For in those days Adam was an undoubted historical personage. Before any waft of the air of evolution had reached those coasts how could they think otherwise? When I first wrote, we were hardly orientated in the new ideas, and my impression was that the indubitable propositions changed with a thinking man from year to year. I made some studies preparatory to an investigation of the rapidity of these changes, but the matter was neglected, and it has been only during the last two years that I have completed a provisional inquiry which shows me that the changes are so slight from generation to generation, though not imperceptible even in that short period, that I thought to own my adhesion, under inevitable modification, to the opinion of that subtle but well-balanced intellect, Thomas Reid, in the matter of Common Sense (as well as in regard to immediate perception, along with Kant). well-balanced intellect, Thomas Reid, in the matter of Common Sense (as well as in regard to immediate perception, along with Kant).

445. Character III. The Scotch philosophers recognized that the original beliefs, and the same thing is at least equally true of the acritical inferences, were of the general nature of instincts. But we know little about instincts, even now. We know, for example, that they can be somewhat modified in a very short time. The great facts have always been known; such as that instinct seldom errs, while reason goes wrong nearly half the time, if not more frequently. But one thing the Scotch failed to recognize is that the original beliefs only remain indubitable in their application to affairs that resemble those of a primitive mode of life. It is, for example, quite open to reasonable doubt whether the motions of electrons are confined to three dimensions, although it is good methodeutic to presume that they are until some evidence to the contrary is forthcoming. On the other hand, as soon as we find that a belief shows symptoms of being instinctive, although it may seem to be dubitable, we must suspect that experiment would show that it is not really so; for in our artificial life, especially in that of a student, no mistake is more likely than that of taking a paper-doubt for the genuine metal. Take, for example, the belief in the criminality of incest. Biology will doubtless testify that the practice is inadvisable; but surely nothing that it has to say could warrant the intensity of our sentiment about it.

In contrast to this may be placed the belief that suicide is to be classed as murder. There are two pretty sure signs that this is not an instinctive belief. One is that it is substantially confined to the Christian world. The other is that when it comes to the point of actual self-debate, this belief seems to be completely expunged and ex-sponged from the mind. In reply to these powerful arguments, the main points urged are the authority of the fathers of the church and the undoubtedly intense instinctive clinging to life. The latter phenomenon is, however, entirely irrelevant. For though it is a wrench to part with life, which has its charms at the very worst, just as it is to part with a tooth, yet there is no moral element in it whatever. As to the Christian tradition, it may be explained by the circumstances of the early Church. For Christianity, the most terribly earnest and most intolerant of religions (see The Book of Revelations of St. John the Divine) --and it remained so until diluted with civilization --recognized no morality as worthy of an instant's consideration except Christian morality. Now the early Church had need of martyrs, i.e., witnesses, and if any man had done with life, it was abominable infidelity to leave it otherwise than as a witness to its power. This belief, then, should be set down as dubitable; and it will no sooner have been pronounced dubitable, than Reason will stamp it as false.

The Scotch School appears to have no such distinction concerning the limitations of indubitability and the consequent limitations of the jurisdiction of original belief.

446. Character IV. The most distinctive character of the Critical Common-sensist, in contrast to the old Scotch philosopher, lies in his insistence that the acritically indubitable is invariably vague.

Logicians have been at fault in giving Vagueness the go-by, so far as not even to analyze it. The present writer has done his best to work out the Stechiology (or Stoicheiology), Critic, and Methodeutic of the subject, but can here only give a definition or two with some proposals respecting terminology.


447. Accurate writers have apparently made a distinction between the definite and the determinate. A subject is determinate in respect to any character which inheres in it or is (universally and affirmatively) predicated of it, as well as in respect to the negative of such character, these being the very same respect. In all other respects it is indeterminate. The definite shall be defined presently. A sign (under which designation I place every kind of thought, and not alone external signs), that is in any respect objectively indeterminate (i.e., whose object is undetermined by the sign itself) is objectively general in so far as it extends to the interpreter the privilege of carrying its determination further. Example: "Man is mortal." To the question, What man? the reply is that the proposition explicitly leaves it to you to apply its assertion to what man or men you will. A sign that is objectively indeterminate in any respect is objectively vague in so far as it reserves further determination to be made in some other conceivable sign, or at least does not appoint the interpreter as its deputy in this office. Example: "A man whom I could mention seems to be a little conceited." The suggestion here is that the man in view is the person addressed; but the utterer does not authorize such an interpretation or any other application of what she says. She can still say, if she likes, that she does not mean the person addressed. Every utterance naturally leaves the right of further exposition in the utterer; and therefore, in so far as a sign is indeterminate, it is vague, unless it is expressly or by a well-understood convention rendered general. Usually, an affirmative predication covers generally every essential character of the predicate, while a negative predication vaguely denies some essential character. In another sense, honest people, when not joking, intend to make the meaning of their words determinate, so that there shall be no latitude of interpretation at all. That is to say, the character of their meaning consists in the implications and non-implications of their words; and they intend to fix what is implied and what is not implied. They believe that they succeed in doing so, and if their chat is about the theory of numbers, perhaps they may. But the further their topics are from such presciss, or "abstract," subjects, the less possibility is there of such precision of speech. In so far as the implication is not determinate, it is usually left vague; but there are cases where an unwillingness to dwell on disagreeable subjects causes the utterer to leave the determination of the implication to the interpreter; as if one says, "That creature is filthy, in every sense of the term."

448. Perhaps a more scientific pair of definitions would be that anything is general in so far as the principle of excluded middle does not apply to it and is vague in so far as the principle of contradiction does not apply to it. Thus, although it is true that "Any proposition you please, once you have determined its identity, is either true or false"; yet so long as it remains indeterminate and so without identity, it need neither be true that any proposition you please is true, nor that any proposition you please is false. So likewise, while it is false that "A proposition whose identity I have determined is both true and false," yet until it is determinate, it may be true that a proposition is true and that a proposition is false.

449. In those respects in which a sign is not vague, it is said to be definite, and also with a slightly different mode of application, to be precise, a meaning probably due to præecisus having been applied to curt denials and refusals..1 It has been the well-established, ordinary sense of precise since the Plantagenets; and it were much to be desired that this word, with its derivatives precision, precisive, etc., should, in the dialect of philosophy, be restricted to this sense. To express the act of rendering precise (though usually only in reference to numbers, dates, and the like), the French have the verb préciser, which, after the analogy of décider, should have been précider. Would it not be a useful addition to our English terminology of logic, to adopt the verb to precide, to express the general sense, to render precise? Our older logicians with salutary boldness seem to have created for their service the verb to prescind, the corresponding Latin word meaning only to "cut off at the end," while the English word means to suppose without supposing some more or less determinately indicated accompaniment. In geometry, for example, we "prescind" shape from color, which is precisely the same thing as to "abstract" color from shape, although very many writers employ the verb "to abstract" so as to make it the equivalent of "prescind." But whether it was the invention or the courage of our philosophical ancestors which exhausted itself in the manufacture of the verb "prescind," the curious fact is that instead of forming from it the noun prescission, they took pattern from the French logicians in putting the word precision to this second use. About the same time . (see Watts, Logick, 1725, I, vi, 9 ad fin.) the adjective precisive was introduced to signify what prescissive would have more unmistakably conveyed. If we desire to rescue the good ship Philosophy for the service of Science from the hands of lawless rovers of the sea of literature, we shall do well to keep prescind, presciss, prescission, and prescissive on the one hand, to refer to dissection in hypothesis, while precide, precise, precision, and precisive are used so as to refer exclusively to an expression of determination which is made either full or free for the interpreter. We shall thus do much to relieve the stem "abstract" from staggering under the double burden of conveying the idea of prescission as well as the unrelated and very important idea of the creation of ens rationis out of an {epos pteroen} --to filch the phrase to furnish a name for an expression of non-substantive thought --an operation that has been treated as a subject of ridicule -this hypostatic abstraction --but which gives mathematics half its power.

450. The purely formal conception that the three affections of terms, determination, generality, and vagueness, form a group dividing a category of what Kant calls "functions of judgment" will be passed by as unimportant by those who have yet to learn how important a part purely formal conceptions may play in philosophy. Without stopping to discuss this, it may be pointed out that the "quantity" of propositions in logic, that is, the distribution of the first subject, is either singular (that is, determinate, which renders it substantially negligible in formal logic), or universal (that is, general), or particular (as the mediaeval logicians say, that is, vague or indefinite). It is a curious fact that in the logic of relations it is the first and last quantifiers of a proposition that are of chief importance. To affirm of anything that it is a horse is to yield to it every essential character of a horse; to deny of anything that it is a horse is vaguely to refuse to it some one or more of those essential characters of the horse. There are, however, predicates that are unanalyzable in a given state of intelligence and experience. These are, therefore, determinately affirmed or denied. Thus, this same group of concepts reappears. Affirmation and denial are in themselves unaffected by these concepts, but it is to be remarked that there are cases in which we can have an apparently definite idea of a border line between affirmation and negation. Thus, a point of a surface may be in a region of that surface, or out of it, or on its boundary. This gives us an indirect and vague conception of an intermediary between affirmation and denial in general, and consequently of an intermediate, or nascent state, between determination and indetermination. There must be a similar intermediacy between generality and vagueness. Indeed, in an article in the seventh volume of The Monist there lies just beneath the surface of what is explicitly said, the idea of an endless series of such intermediacies. We shall find below some application for these reflections.

451. Character V. The Critical Common-sensist will be further distinguished from the old Scotch philosopher by the great value he attaches to doubt, provided only that it be the weighty and noble metal itself, and no counterfeit nor paper substitute. He is not content to ask himself whether he does doubt, but he invents a plan for attaining to doubt, elaborates it in detail, and then puts it into practice, although this may involve a solid month of hard work; and it is only after having gone through such an examination that he will pronounce a belief to be indubitable. Moreover, he fully acknowledges that even then it may be that some of his indubitable beliefs may be proved false.

The Critical Common-sensist holds that there is less danger to heuretic science in believing too little than in believing too much. Yet for all that, the consequences to heuretics of believing too little may be no less than disaster.

452. Character VI. Critical Common-sensism may fairly lay claim to this title for two sorts of reasons; namely, that on the one hand it subjects four opinions to rigid criticism: its own; that of the Scotch school; that of those who would base logic or metaphysics on psychology or any other special science, the least tenable of all the philosophical opinions that have any vogue; and that of Kant; while on the other hand it has besides some claim to be called Critical from the fact that it is but a modification of Kantism. The present writer was a pure Kantist until he was forced by successive steps into Pragmaticism. The Kantist has only to abjure from the bottom of his heart the proposition that a thing-initself can, however indirectly, be conceived; and then correct the details of Kant's doctrine accordingly, and he will find himself to have become a Critical Common-sensist.

453. Another doctrine which is involved in Pragmaticism as an essential consequence of it, is the scholastic doctrine of realism. This is usually defined as the opinion that there are real objects that are general, among the number being the modes of determination of existent singulars, if, indeed, these be not the only such objects. But the belief in this can hardly escape being accompanied by the acknowledgment that there are, besides, real vagues, and especially real possibilities. For possibility being the denial of a necessity, which is a kind of generality, is vague like any other contradiction of a general. Indeed, it is the reality of some possibilities that pragmaticism is most concerned to insist upon.
The article of January 1878 endeavored to gloze over this point as unsuited to the exoteric public addressed; or perhaps the writer wavered in his own mind. He said that if a diamond were to be formed in a bed of cotton-wool, and were to be consumed there without ever having been pressed upon by any hard edge or point, it would be merely a question of nomenclature whether that diamond should be said to have been hard or not. No doubt this is true, except for the abominable falsehood in the word MERELY, implying that symbols are unreal. Nomenclature involves classification; and classification is true or false, and the generals to which it refers are either reals in the one case, or figments in the other. For if the reader will turn to the original maxim of pragmaticism at the beginning of this article, he will see that the question is, not what did happen, but whether it would have been well to engage in any line of conduct whose successful issue depended upon whether that diamond would resist an attempt to scratch it, or whether all other logical means of determining how it ought to be classed would lead to the conclusion which, to quote the very words of that article, would be "the belief which alone could be the result of investigation carried sufficiently far." Pragmaticism makes the ultimate intellectual purport of what you please to consist in conceived conditional resolutions, or their substance; and therefore, the conditional propositions, with their hypothetical antecedents, in which such resolutions consist, being of the ultimate nature of meaning, must be capable of being true, that is, of expressing whatever there be which is such as the proposition expresses, independently of being thought to be so in any judgment, or being represented to be so in any other symbol of any man or men. But that amounts to saying that possibility is sometimes of a real kind.

454. Fully to understand this, it will be needful to analyze modality, and ascertain in what it consists. In the simplest case, the most subjective meaning, if a person does not know that a proposition is false, he calls it possible. If,however, he knows that it is true, it is much more than possible. Restricting the word to its characteristic applicability, a state of things has the Modality of the possible --that is, of the merely possible --only in case the contradictory state of things is likewise possible, which proves possibility to be the vague modality. One who knows that Harvard University has an office in State Street, Boston, and has impression that it is at No. 30, but yet suspects that 50 is the number, would say "I think it is at No. 30, but it may be at No. 50," or "it is possibly at No. 50." Thereupon, another, who does not doubt his recollection, might chime in, "It actually is at No. 50," or simply "it is at No. 50," or "it is at No. 50, de inesse." Thereupon, the person who had first asked, what the number was might say, "Since you are so positive, it must be at No. 50," for "I know the first figure is 5. So, since you are both certain the second is a 0, why 50 it necessarily is." That is to say, in this most subjective kind of Modality, that which is known by direct recollection is in the Mode of Actuality, the determinate mode. But when knowledge is indeterminate among alternatives, either there is one state of things which alone accords with them all, when this is in the Mode of Necessity, or there is more than one state of things that no knowledge excludes, when each of these is in the Mode of Possibility.

455. Other kinds of subjective Modality refer to a Sign or Representamen which is assumed to be true, but which does not include the Utterer's (i.e. the speaker's, writer's, thinker's or other symbolizer's) total knowledge, the different Modes being distinguished very much as above. There are other cases, however, in which, justifiably or not, we certainly think of Modality as objective. A man says, "I can go to the seashore if I like." Here is implied, to be sure, his ignorance of how he will decide to act. But this is not the point of the assertion. It is that the complete determination of conduct in the act not yet having taken place, the further determination of it belongs to the subject of the action regardless of external circumstances. If he had said, "I must go where my employers may send me," it would imply that the function of such further determination lay elsewhere. In "You may do so and so," and "You must do so," the "may" has the same force as "can," except that in the one case freedom from particular circumstances is in question, and in the other freedom from a law or edict. Hence the phrase, "You may if you can." I must say that it is difficult for me to preserve my respect for the competence of a philosopher whose dull logic, not penetrating beneath the surface, leaves him to regard such phrases as misrepresentations of the truth. So an act of hypostatic abstraction which in itself is no violation of logic, however it may lend itself to a dress of superstition, may regard the collective tendencies to variableness in the world, under the name of Chance, as at one time having their way, and at another time overcome by the element of order; so that, for example, a superstitious cashier, impressed by a bad dream, may say to himself of a Monday morning, "May be, the bank has been robbed." No doubt, he recognizes his total ignorance in the matter. But besides that, he has in mind the absence of any particular cause which should protect his bank more than others that are robbed from time to time. He thinks of the variety in the universe as vaguely analogous to the indecision of a person, and borrows from that analogy the garb of his thought. At the other extreme stand those who declare as inspired (for they have no rational proof of what they allege), that an actuary's advice to an insurance company is based on nothing at all but ignorance.

456. There is another example of objective possibility: "A pair of intersecting rays, i.e., unlimited straight lines conceived as movable objects, can (or may) move, without ceasing to intersect, so that one and the same hyperboloid shall be completely covered by the track of each of them." How shall we interpret this, remembering that the object spoken of, the pair of rays, is a pure creation of the Utterer's imagination, although it is required (and, indeed, forced) to conform to the laws of space? Some minds will be better satisfied with a more subjective, or nominalistic, others with a more objective, realistic interpretation. But it must be confessed on all hands that whatever degree or kind of reality belongs to pure space belongs to the substance of that proposition, which merely expresses a property of space.

457. Let us now take up the case of that diamond which, having been crystallized upon a cushion of jeweler's cotton, was accidentally consumed by fire before the crystal of corundum that had been sent for had had time to arrive, and indeed without being subjected to any other pressure than that of the atmosphere and its own weight. The question is, was that diamond really hard? It is certain that no discernible actual fact determined it to be so. But is its hardness not, nevertheless, a real fact? To say, as the article of January 1878 seems to intend, that it is just as an arbitrary "usage of speech" chooses to arrange its thoughts, is as much as to decide against the reality of the property, since the real is that which is such as it is regardless of how it is, at any time, thought to be. Remember that this diamond's condition is not an isolated fact. There is no such thing; and an isolated fact could hardly be real. It is an unsevered, though presciss part of the unitary fact of nature. Being a diamond, it was a mass of pure carbon, in the form of a more or less transparent crystal (brittle, and of facile octahedral cleavage, unless it was of an unheard-of variety), which, if not trimmed after one of the fashions in which diamonds may be trimmed, took the shape of an octahedron, apparently regular (I need not go into minutiæ), with grooved edges, and probably with some curved faces. Without being subjected to any considerable pressure, it could be found to be insoluble, very highly refractive, showing under radium rays (and perhaps under "dark light" and X-rays) a peculiar bluish phosphorescence, having as high a specific gravity as realgar or orpiment, and giving off during its combustion less heat than any other form of carbon would have done. From some of these properties hardness is believed to be inseparable. For like it they bespeak the high polemerization of the molecule. But however this may be, how can the hardness of all other diamonds fail to bespeak some real relation among the diamonds without which a piece of carbon would not be a diamond? Is it not a monstrous perversion of the word and concept real to say that the accident of the non-arrival of the corundum prevented the hardness of the diamond from having the reality which it otherwise, with little doubt, would have had?

At the same time, we must dismiss the idea that the occult state of things (be it a relation among atoms or something else), which constitutes the reality of a diamond's hardness can possibly consist in anything but in the truth of a general conditional proposition. For to what else does the entire teaching of chemistry relate except to the "behavior" of different possible kinds of material substance? And in what does that behavior consist except that if a substance of a certain kind should be exposed to an agency of a certain kind, a certain kind of sensible result would ensue, according to our experiences hitherto. As for the pragmaticist, it is precisely his position that nothing else than this can be so much as meant by saying that an object possesses a character. He is therefore obliged to subscribe to the doctrine of a real Modality, including real Necessity and real Possibility.

458. A good question, for the purpose of illustrating the nature of Pragmaticism, is, What is Time? It is not proposed to attack those most difficult problems connected with the psychology, the epistemology, or the metaphysics of Time, although it will be taken for granted, as it must be according to what has been said, that Time is real. The reader is only invited to the humbler question of what we mean by Time, and not of every kind of meaning attached to Past, Present, and Future either. Certain peculiar feelings are associated with the three general determinations of Time; but those are to be sedulously put out of view. That the reference of events to Time is irresistible will be recognized; but as to how it may differ from other kinds of irresistibility is a question not here to be considered. The question to be considered is simply, What is the intellectual purport of the Past, Present, and Future? It can only be treated with the utmost brevity.

459. That Time is a particular variety of objective Modality is too obvious for argumentation. The Past consists of the sum of faits accomplis, and this Accomplishment is the Existential Mode of Time. For the Past really acts upon us, and that it does, not at all in the way in which a Law or Principle influences us, but precisely as an Existent object acts. For instance, when a Nova Stella bursts out in the heavens, it acts upon one's eyes just as a light struck in the dark by one's own hands would; and yet it is an event which happened before the Pyramids were built. A neophyte may remark that its reaching the eyes, which is all we know, happens but a fraction of a second before we know it. But a moment's consideration will show him that he is losing sight of the question, which is not whether the distant Past can act upon us immediately, but whether it acts upon us just as any Existent does. The instance adduced (certainly a commonplace enough fact), proves conclusively that the mode of the Past is that of Actuality. Nothing of the sort is true of the Future, to compass the understanding of which it is indispensable that the reader should divest himself of his Necessitarianism --at best, but a scientific theory --and return to the Common-sense State of Nature. Do you never say to yourself, "I can do this or that as well tomorrow as today"? Your Necessitarianism is a theoretical pseudo-belief --a make-believe belief --that such a sentence does not express the real truth. That is only to stick to proclaiming the unreality of that Time, of which you are invited, be it reality or figment, to consider the meaning. You need not fear to compromise your darling theory by looking out at its windows. Be it true in theory or not, the unsophisticated conception is that everything in the Future is either destined, i.e., necessitated already, or is undecided, the contingent future of Aristotle. In other words, it is not Actual, since it does not act except through the idea of it, that is, as a law acts; but is either Necessary or Possible, which are of the same mode since (as remarked above Negation being outside the category of modality cannot produce a variation in Modality. As for the Present instant, it is so inscrutable that I wonder whether no sceptic has ever attacked its reality. I can fancy one of them dipping his pen in his blackest ink to commence the assault, and then suddenly reflecting that his entire life is in the Present --the "living present," as we say, this instant when all hopes and fears concerning it come to their end, this Living Death in which we are born anew. It is plainly that Nascent State between the Determinate and the Indeterminate that was noticed above.

460. Pragmaticism consists in holding that the purport of any concept is its conceived bearing upon our conduct. How, then, does the Past bear upon conduct? The answer is self-evident: whenever we set out to do anything, we "go upon," we base our conduct on facts already known, and for these we can only draw upon our memory. It is true that we may institute a new investigation for the purpose; but its discoveries will only become applicable to conduct after they have been made and reduced to a memorial maxim. In short, the Past is the storehouse of all our knowledge.

When we say that we know that some state of things exists, we mean that it used to exist, whether just long enough for the news to reach the brain and be retransmitted to tongue or pen, or longer ago. Thus, from whatever point of view we contemplate the Past, it appears as the Existential Mode of Time.

461. How does the Future bear upon conduct? The answer is that future facts are the only facts that we can, in a measure, control; and whatever there may be in the Future that is not amenable to control are the things that we shall be able to infer, or should be able to infer under favorable circumstances. There may be questions concerning which the pendulum of opinion never would cease to oscillate, however favorable circumstances may be. But if so, those questions are ipso facto not real questions, that is to say, are questions to which there is no true answer to be given. It is natural to use the future tense (and the conditional mood is but a mollified future) in drawing a conclusion or in stating a consequence. "If two unlimited straight lines in one plane and crossed by a third making the sum . . . then these straight lines will meet on the side, etc." It cannot be denied that acritical inferences may refer to the Past in its capacity as past; but according to Pragmaticism, the conclusion of a Reasoning power must refer to the Future. For its meaning refers to conduct, and since it is a reasoned conclusion must refer to deliberate conduct, which is controllable conduct. But the only controllable conduct is Future conduct. As for that part of the Past that lies beyond memory, the Pragmaticist doctrine is that the meaning of its being believed to be in connection with the Past consists in the acceptance as truth of the conception that we ought to conduct ourselves according to it (like the meaning of any other belief). Thus, a belief that Christopher Columbus discovered America really refers to the future. It is more difficult, it must be confessed, to account for beliefs that rest upon the double evidence of feeble but direct memory and upon rational inference. The difficulty does not seem insuperable; but it must be passed by.

462. What is the bearing of the Present instant upon conduct?
Introspection is wholly a matter of inference. One is immediately conscious of his Feelings, no doubt; but not that they are feelings of an ego. The self is only inferred. There is no time in the Present for any inference at all, least of all for inference concerning that very instant. Consequently the present object must be an external object, if there be any objective reference in it. The attitude of the Present is either conative or perceptive. Supposing it to be perceptive, the perception must be immediately known as external --not indeed in the sense in which a hallucination is not external, but in the sense of being present regardless of the perceiver's will or wish. Now this kind of externality is conative externality. Consequently, the attitude of the present instant (according to the testimony of Common Sense, which is plainly adopted throughout) can only be a Conative attitude. The consciousness of the present is then that of a struggle over what shall be; and thus we emerge from the study with a confirmed belief that it is the Nascent State of the Actual.

463. But how is Temporal Modality distinguished from other Objective Modality? Not by any general character since Time is unique and sui generis. In other words there is only one Time. Sufficient attention has hardly been called to the surpassing truth of this for Time as compared with its truth for Space. Time, therefore, can only be identified by brute compulsion. But we must not go further.



Among the more entangled and confounding sets of manuscripts in the Harvard collection (the manuscripts acquired by the Harvard Philosophy Department after Peirce's death) is one from 1906-7 in which Peirce attempted to compose a more or less popular account of pragmaticism—but again called "pragmatism"—and to give at least a summary proof (MSS 316-22). In the two variants combined in selection 28, Peirce delivered a proof that is probably the one he was intending to give in the Monist before he decided on a more formal approach using his Existential Graphs. The proof in selection 28 is based on Peirce's theory of signs, beginning with the premiss that every concept and every thought beyond immediate perception is a sign, and concluding with the proposition that a final logical interpretant must be of the nature of a habit. This selection provides an illuminating integration of Peirce's theory of signs, including his mature theories of propositions and inference, with his pragmaticism.

Peirce shifted the burden of his proof (of pragmatism) to his theory of signs. … First he characterized pragmatism as a method of ascertaining the meaning of "intellectual concepts" and he noted that "triadic predicates" are the principal examples (although, in passing, he considered whether there might be non-intellectual triadic relations). He noted that while signs can convey any of three forms of predicates (monadic, dyadic, or triadic), only triadic predicates are properly called "intellectual concepts." Only intellectual concepts convey more than feeling or existential fact, namely the "would-acts" of habitual behavior; and no agglomeration of actual happenings can ever completely fill up the meaning of a "would-be." This line of thought (with many steps left out) led Peirce to his thesis, what he called "the kernel of pragmatism": "The total meaning of the predication of an intellectual concept consists in affirming that, under all conceivable circumstances of a given kind, the subject of the predication would (or would not) behave in a certain way,—that is, that it either would, or would not, be true that under given experiential circumstances (or under a given proportion of them, taken as they would occur in experience) certain facts would exist." He also expressed his thesis in a simpler form: "The whole meaning of an intellectual predicate is that certain kinds of events would happen, once in so often, in the course of experience, under certain kinds of existential circumstances." This is what Peirce set out to prove in 1907.

Peirce's proof, much abbreviated, ran something like this:
1. "Every concept and every thought beyond immediate perception is a sign."
2. The object of a sign is necessarily unexpressed in the sign.
3. The interpretant is the "total proper effect of the sign" and this effect may be emotional, energetic, or logical, but it is the logical interpretant alone that constitutes "the intellectual apprehension of the meaning of a sign."
4. "A sign is anything, of whatsoever mode of being, which mediates between an object and an interpretant; since it is both determined by the object relatively to the interpretant, and determines the interpretant in reference to the object, in such wise as to cause the interpretant to be determined by the object through the mediation of this 'sign.'"
5. The logical interpretant does not correspond to any kind of object, but is essentially in a relatively future tense, what Peirce calls a "would-be." Thus the logical interpretant must be "general in its possibilities of reference."
6. Therefore, the logical interpretant is of the nature of habit.
7. A concept, proposition, or argument may be a logical interpretant, but not a final logical interpretant. The habit alone, though it may be a sign in some other way, does not call for further interpretation. It calls for action.
8. "The deliberately formed, self-analyzing habit . . . is the living definition, the veritable and final logical interpretant."
9. "Consequently, the most perfect account of a concept that words can convey will consist in a description of that habit which that concept is calculated to produce. But how otherwise can a habit be described than by a description of the kind of action to which it gives rise, with the specification of the conditions and of the motive?"

This conclusion is virtually a paraphrase of Peirce's thesis, the "kernel of pragmatism," so it completes his proof. We might think of this as the proof from Peirce's theory of signs. On 10 April 1907, Peirce sent Giovanni Papini a similar, though somewhat fuller, outline and explained that "among all scientific proofs with which I am acquainted [this is] the one that seems to me to come nearest to popular apprehension."
(Introduction to EP Volume 2)

A highly complex and multi-layered manuscript, MS 318 contains five intermingled versions of an article initially conceived as a long "letter to the editor." The article was rejected by both the Nation and the Atlantic Monthly.
All versions share the same beginning--the "introduction" below, also found in CP 5.11-13 and 464-466. Other portions are published in CP 1.560-562 and 5.467-496. In this selection, Peirce comes closer than in any other to fully expressing his brand of pragmatism and to giving a clearly articulated proof. He begins by reaffirming that pragmatism (pragmaticism) is not a doctrine of metaphysics, nor an attempt to determine the truth of things, but is only a method of ascertaining the meanings of hard words and abstract concepts. By this time, Peirce has thoroughly integrated his pragmatism with his semiotics, and he bases his proof in his theory of signs (rather than in his theory of perception as he had for the 1903 proof in his Harvard Lectures). His semiotic proof begins with the premiss that every concept and every thought beyond immediate perception is a sign, and works its way to the proposition that a logical interpretant must be of the nature of a habit. "Consequently," Peirce concludes, "the most perfect account of a concept that words can convey will consist in a description of that habit which [it] is calculated to produce. But how else can a habit be described than by a description of the kind of action to which it gives rise." Since Peirce's conclusion amounts to a paraphrase of his definition of pragmatism, his proof is complete. (Head Notes for the EP 2, Chapter 28)

Excerpt and condensation from Charles S. Peirce’s unpublished paper (1907) “A SURVEY OF PRAGMATICISM” (CP5 464-496)

464. It is now high time to explain what pragmatism is.
Pragmatism is, in itself, no doctrine of metaphysics, no attempt to determine any truth of things.
It is merely a method of ascertaining the meanings of hard words and of abstract concepts.
As to the ulterior and indirect effects of practising the pragmatistic method, that is quite another affair.

465. All pragmatists will further agree that their method of ascertaining the meanings of words and concepts is no other than that experimental method by which all the successful sciences have reached the degrees of certainty; this experimental method being itself nothing but a particular application of an older logical rule, "By their fruits ye shall know them."

466. Beyond these two propositions to which pragmatists assent nem. con., we find such slight discrepancies between the views of one and another declared adherent as are to be found in every healthy and vigorous school of thought in every department of inquiry. The most prominent of all our school and the most respected, William James, defines pragmatism as the doctrine that the whole "meaning" of a concept expresses itself either in the shape of conduct to be recommended or of experience to be expected. Between this definition and mine there certainly appears to be no slight theoretical divergence, which, for the most part, becomes evanescent in practice; and though we may differ on important questions of philosophy --especially as regards the infinite and the absolute --I am inclined to think that the discrepancies reside in other than the pragmatistic ingredients of our thought. If pragmatism had never been heard of, I believe the opinion of James on one side, of me on the other would have developed substantially as they have; notwithstanding our respective connecting them at present with our conception of that method. The brilliant and marvellously human thinker, Mr. F.C.S. Schiller, who extends to the philosophic world a cup of nectar stimulant in his beautiful Humanism, seems to occupy ground of his own, intermediate, as to this question, between those of James and mine.

467. I understand pragmatism to be a method of ascertaining the meanings, not of all ideas, but only of what I call "intellectual concepts," that is to say, of those upon the structure of which, arguments concerning objective fact may hinge. Had the light which, as things are, excites in us the sensation of blue, always excited the sensation of red, and vice versa, however great a difference that might have made in our feelings, it could have made none in the force of any argument. In this respect, the qualities of hard and soft strikingly contrast with those of red and blue; because while red and blue name mere subjective feelings only, hard and soft express the factual behaviour of the thing under the pressure of a knife-edge. (I use the word "hard" in its strict mineralogical sense, "would resist a knife-edge.") My pragmatism, having nothing to do with qualities of feeling, permits me to hold that the predication of such a quality is just what it seems, and has nothing to do with anything else. Hence, could two qualities of feeling everywhere be interchanged, nothing but feelings could be affected. Those qualities have no intrinsic significations beyond themselves. Intellectual concepts, however --the only sign-burdens that are properly denominated "concepts" -essentially carry some implication concerning the general behaviour either of some conscious being or of some inanimate object, and so convey more, not merely than any feeling, but more, too, than any existential fact, namely, the "would-acts," "would-dos" of habitual behaviour; and no agglomeration of actual happenings can ever completely fill up the meaning of a "would-be." But [Pragmatism asserts], that the total meaning of the predication of an intellectual concept is contained in an affirmation that, under all conceivable circumstances of a given kind (or under this or that more or less indefinite part of the cases of their fulfillment, should the predication be modal) the subject of the predication would behave in a certain general way --that is, it would be true under given experiential circumstances (or under a more or less definitely stated proportion of them, taken as they would occur, that is in the same order of succession, in experience), a given kind (or under this or that more or less indefinite part of the cases of their fulfillment, should the predication be modal) the subject of the predication would behave in a certain general way --that is, it would be true under given experiential circumstances (or under a more or less definitely stated proportion of them, taken as they would occur, that is in the same order of succession, in experience).

468. A most pregnant principle, quite undeniably, will this "kernel of pragmatism" prove to be, that the whole meaning of an intellectual predicate is that certain kinds of events would happen, once in so often, in the course of experience, under certain kinds of existential conditions --provided it can be proved to be true. But how is this to be done in the teeth of Messrs. Bradley, Taylor, and other high metaphysicians, on the one hand, and of the entire nominalistic nation, with its Wundts, its Haeckels, its Karl Pearsons, and many other regiments, in their divers uniforms, on the other?

At this difficulty I have halted for weeks and weeks. It has not been that I could not furnish forth an ample supply of seductive persuasions to pragmatism, or even two or three scientific proofs of its truth. Without a recognition of the chief moments, or points, of these latter it is quite impossible that the power and heart's blood of any variety of doctrine or tendency that ought to be classed among the different species of pragmatism should be really comprehended. A man may very well feel advantages in applications of pragmatism without anything of that. He may even make new applications of the method, himself -with much risk of blundering, however; but it appears very plain, both to reason and to observation of experience, that he cannot know in what interior eye, what pineal gland its soul and power reside, unless he clearly understands the chief conditions of its truth. Unfortunately, however, all the real proofs of pragmatism that I know --and, I hardly doubt, all there are to be known --require just as close and laborious exertion of attention as any but the very most difficult of mathematical theorems, while they add to that all those difficulties of logical analysis which force the mathematician to creep with exceeding caution, if not timorously. But mature consideration has brought me to see that, while those circumstances would render a task quite hopeless that I had never dreamed of undertaking, that of convincing the readers of a literary journal by any honest argument, of the truth of pragmatism, and consequently must prevent communicating to them quite the idea of this method that an accomplished pragmatist has, yet an idea perfectly fulfilling the reader's desire, that of enabling him to place pragmatism and its concepts in the area of his own thought, and of showing roughly how its concepts are related to familiar concepts [may be given].

469. I begin, then, with the first idea that it seems desirable to call to your attention. Everybody is familiar with the useful, though fluctuating and relative distinction of matter and form; and it is strikingly true that distinctions and classifications founded upon form are, with very rare exceptions, more important to the scientific comprehension of the behaviour of things than distinctions and classifications founded upon matter. Mendeléeff's classification of the chemical elements, with which all educated men are, by this time, familiar, affords neat illustrations of this, since the distinctions between what he calls "groups," that is to say, the different vertical columns of his table, consists in the elements of one such "group" entering into different forms of combination with hydrogen and with oxygen from those of another group; or as we usually say, their valencies differ; while the distinctions between what he calls the "series," that is, the different horizontal rows of the table, consist in the less formal, more material circumstance that their atoms have, the elements of one "series," greater masses than those of the other. Now everybody who has the least acquaintance with chemistry knows that, while elements in different horizontal rows but the same vertical column always exhibit certain marked physical differences, their chemical behaviours at corresponding temperatures are quite similar; and all the major distinctions of chemical behaviour between different elements are due to their belonging to different vertical columns of the table.

This illustration has much more pertinence to pragmatism than appears at first sight; since my researches into the logic of relatives have shown beyond all sane doubt that in one respect combinations of concepts exhibit a remarkable analogy with chemical combinations; every concept having a strict valency. (This must be taken to mean that of several forms of expression that are logically equivalent, that one or ones whose analytical accuracy is least open to question, owing to the introduction of the relation of joint identity, follows the law of valency.) Thus, the predicate "is blue" is univalent, the predicate "kills" is bivalent (for the direct and indirect objects are, grammar aside, as much subjects as is the subject nominative); the predicate "gives" is trivalent, since A gives B to C, etc. Just as the valency of chemistry is an atomic character, so indecomposable concepts may be bivalent or trivalent. Indeed, definitions being scrupulously observed, it will be seen to be a truism to assert that no compound of univalent and bivalent concepts alone can be trivalent, although a compound of any concept with a trivalent concept can have at pleasure, a valency higher or lower by one than that of the former concept. Less obvious, yet demonstrable, is the fact that no indecomposable concept has a higher valency. Among my papers are actual analyses of a number greater than I care to state. They are mostly more complex than would be supposed. Thus, the relation between the four bonds of an unsymmetrical carbon atom consists of twenty-four triadic relations. Careful analysis shows that to the three grades of valency of indecomposable concepts correspond three classes of characters or predicates. Firstly come "firstnesses," or positive internal characters of the subject in itself; secondly come "secondnesses," or brute actions of one subject or substance on another, regardless of law or of any third subject; thirdly comes "thirdnesses," or the mental or quasi-mental influence of one subject on another relatively to a third. Since the demonstration of this proposition is too stiff for the infantile logic of our time (which is rapidly awakening, however), I have preferred to state it problematically, as a surmise to be verified by observation. The little that I have contributed to pragmatism (or, for that matter, to any other department of philosophy), has been entirely the fruit of this outgrowth from formal logic, and is worth much more than the small sum total of the rest of my work, as time will show.

470. The next moment of the argument for pragmatism is the view that every thought is a sign.

471. In the case of a proposition, it is the distinction between that which its subject denotes and that which its predicate asserts. In the case of an argument, it is the distinction between the state of things in which its premisses are true and the state of things which is defined by the truth of its conclusion.

472. The action of a sign calls for a little closer attention. Let me remind you of the distinction referred to above between dynamical, or dyadic, action; and intelligent, or triadic action. An event, A, may, by brute force, produce an event, B; and then the event, B, may in its turn produce a third event, C. The fact that the event, C, is about to be produced by B has no influence at all upon the production of B by A. It is impossible that it should, since the action of B in producing C is a contingent future event at the time B is produced. Such is dyadic action, which is so called because each step of it concerns a pair of objects.

473. But now when a microscopist is in doubt whether a motion of an animalcule is guided by intelligence, of however low an order, the test he always used to apply when I went to school, and I suppose he does so still, is to ascertain whether event, A, produces a second event, B, as a means to the production of a third event, C, or not. That is, he asks whether B will be produced if it will produce or is likely to produce C in its turn, but will not be produced if it will not produce C in its turn nor is likely to do so. Suppose, for example, an officer of a squad or company of infantry gives the word of command, "Ground arms!" This order is, of course, a sign. That thing which causes a sign as such is called the object (according to the usage of speech, the "real," but more accurately, the existent object) represented by the sign: the sign is determined to some species of correspondence with that object. In the present case, the object the command represents is the will of the officer that the butts of the muskets be brought down to the ground. Nevertheless, the action of his will upon the sign is not simply dyadic; for if he thought the soldiers were deaf mutes, or did not know a word of English, or were raw recruits utterly undrilled, or were indisposed to obedience, his will probably would not produce the word of command. However, although this condition is most usually fulfilled, it is not essential to the action of a sign. For the acceleration of the pulse is a probable symptom of fever and the rise of the mercury in an ordinary thermometer or the bending of the double strip of metal in a metallic thermometer is an indication, or, to use the technical term, is an index, of an increase of atmospheric temperature, which, nevertheless, acts upon it in a purely brute and dyadic way. In these cases, however, a mental representation of the index is produced, which mental representation is called the immediate object of the sign; and this object does triadically produce the intended, or proper, effect of the sign strictly by means of another mental sign; and that this triadic character of the action is regarded as essential is shown by the fact that if the thermometer is dynamically connected with the heating and cooling apparatus, so as to check either effect, we do not, in ordinary parlance speak of there being any semeiosy, or action of a sign, but, on the contrary, say that there is an "automatic regulation," an idea opposed, in our minds, to that of semeiosy. For the proper significate outcome of a sign, I propose the name, the interpretant of the sign. The example of the imperative command shows that it need not be of a mental mode of being. Whether the interpretant be necessarily a triadic result is a question of words, that is, of how we limit the extension of the term "sign"; but it seems to me convenient to make the triadic production of the interpretant essential to a "sign," calling the wider concept like a Jacquard loom, for example, a "quasisign." On these terms, it is very easy (not descending to niceties with which I will not annoy your readers) to see what the interpretant of a sign is: it is all that is explicit in the sign itself apart from its context and circumstances of utterance. Still, there is a possible doubt as to where the line should be drawn between the interpretant and the object. It will be convenient to give the mere glance, which is all that can be afforded, to this question as it applies to propositions. The interpretant of a proposition is its predicate; its object is the things denoted by its subject or subjects (including its grammatical objects, direct and indirect, etc.). Take the proposition "Burnt child shuns fire." Its predicate might be regarded as all that is expressed, or as "has either not been burned or shuns fire" or "has not been burned," or "shuns fire" or "shuns" or "is true"; nor is this enumeration exhaustive. But where shall the line be most truly drawn? I reply that the purpose of this sentence being understood to be to communicate information, anything belongs to the interpretant that describes the quality or character of the fact, anything to the object that, without doing that, distinguishes this fact from others like it; while a third part of the proposition, perhaps, must be appropriated to information about the manner in which the assertion is made, what warrant is offered for its truth, etc. But I rather incline to think that all this goes to the subject. On this view, the predicate is, "is either not a child or has not been burned, or has no opportunity of shunning fire or does shun fire"; while the subject is "any individual object the interpreter may select from the universe of ordinary everyday experience

474. Every man inhabits two worlds. One of these two worlds, the Inner World, exerts a comparatively slight compulsion upon us, though we can by direct efforts so slight as to be hardly noticeable, change it greatly, creating and destroying existent objects in it; while the other world, the Outer World, is full of irresistible compulsions for us, and we cannot modify it in the least, except by one peculiar kind of effort, muscular effort, and but very slightly even in that way.

475. Now the problem of what the "meaning" of an intellectual concept is can only be solved by the study of the interpretants, or proper significate effects, of signs.
These we find to be of three general classes with some important subdivisions.
1) The first proper significate effect of a sign is a feeling produced by it. There is almost always a feeling which we come to interpret as evidence that we comprehend the proper effect of the sign, although the foundation of truth in this is frequently very slight. This "emotional interpretant," as I call it, may amount to much more than that feeling of recognition; and in some cases, it is the only proper significate effect that the sign produces. Thus, the performance of a piece of concerted music is a sign. It conveys, and is intended to convey, the composer's musical ideas; but these usually consist merely in a series of feelings.
2) If a sign produces any further proper significate effect, it will do so through the mediation of the emotional interpretant, and such further effect will always involve an effort. I call it the “energetic interpretant”. The effort may be a muscular one, as it is in the case of the command to ground arms; but it is much more usually an exertion upon the Inner World, a mental effort. It never can be the meaning of an intellectual concept, since it is a single act, [while] such a concept is of a general nature.

3) In advance of ascertaining the nature of this effect, it will be convenient to adopt a designation for it, and I will call it the “logical interpretant”. Shall we say that this effect may be a thought, that is to say, a mental sign? No doubt, it may be so; only, if this sign be of an intellectual kind --as it would have to be --it must itself have a logical interpretant; so that it cannot be the ultimate logical interpretant of the concept. It can be proved that the only mental effect that can be so produced and that is not a sign but is of a general application is a habit-change; meaning by a habit-change a modification of a person's tendencies toward action, resulting from previous experiences or from previous exertions of his will or acts, or from a complexus of both kinds of cause. It excludes natural dispositions, as the term "habit" does, when it is accurately used; but it includes beside associations, what may be called "transsociations," or alterations of association, and even includes dissociation, which has usually been looked upon by psychologists (I believe mistakenly), as of deeply contrary nature to association.

477. Habits have grades of strength varying from complete dissociation to inseparable association. These grades are mixtures of promptitude of action, say excitability and other ingredients not calling for separate examination here. The habit-change often consists in raising or lowering the strength of a habit. Habits also differ in their endurance (which is likewise a composite quality). But generally speaking, it may be said that the effects of habit-change last until time or some more definite cause produces new habit-changes.

478. We may distinguish three classes of events causative of habit-change. Such events may, in the first place, not be acts of the mind in which the habit-change is brought about, but experiences forced upon [it]. Thus, “surprise” is very efficient in breaking up associations of ideas. On the other hand, each new instance that is brought to the experience that supports an induction goes to strengthen that association of ideas --that inward habit --in which the tendency to believe in the inductive conclusion consists. But careful examination has pretty thoroughly satisfied me that no new association, no entirely new habit, can be created by involuntary experiences.

479. In the second place, the event that causes a habit-change may be a “muscular effort”, apparently. If I wish to acquire the habit of speaking of "speaking, writing, thinking," etc., instead of "speakin', writin', thinkin'," as I suspect I now do (though I am not sure) --all I have to do is to make the desired enunciations a good many times; and to do this as thoughtlessly as possible, since it is an inattentive habit that I am trying to create. Everybody knows the facility with which habits may thus be acquired, even quite unintentionally. But I am persuaded that nothing like a concept can be acquired by muscular practice alone. When we seem to do that, it is not the muscular action but the accompanying inward efforts, the acts of “imagination”, that produce the habit. If a person who has never tried such a thing before undertakes to stand on one foot and to move the other round a horizontal circle, say, as being the easier way, clockwise if he is standing on the left foot, or counter-clockwise if he is standing on the right foot, and at the same time to move the fist of the same side as the moving foot round a horizontal circle in the opposite direction, that is, clockwise if the foot is moved counter-clockwise, and vice versa, he will, at first, find he cannot do it. The difficulty is that he lacks a unitary concept of the series of efforts that success requires. By practising the different parts of the movement, while attentively observing the kind of effort requisite in each part, he will, in a few minutes, catch the idea, and will then be able to perform the movements with perfect facility. But the proof that it is in no degree the muscular efforts, but only the efforts of the imagination that have been his teachers, is that if he does not perform the actual motions, but only imagines them vividly, he will acquire the same trick with only so much additional practice as is accounted for by the difficulty of imagining all the efforts that will have to be made in a movement one has not actually executed. There is an obvious difficulty of determining just how much allowance should be made for this, in the fact [that] when the feat is learned in either way, it cannot be unlearned, so as to compare that way with the other. The only resort is to learn a considerable number of feats which depend upon acquiring a unitary conception of a series of efforts, learning some with actual muscular exercise and others by unaided imagination, and then forming one's judgment of whether the greater facility afforded by the actual muscular contractions is, or is not, greater than the support this gives the imagination. Saying the verse about "Peter Piper"; spelling without an instant's hesitation, in the old way, the name Aldibirontifoscoforniocrononhotontothologes (that is, thus: A-l, al, and here's my al; d-i, di, and here's my di, and here's my aldi; b-i, bi, and here's my bi, and here's my dibi, and here's my aldibi, etc.); making the pass with one hand upon a pack of cards, playing the thimbles and ball, and other turns of legerdemain all largely depend for their success upon a unitary conception of all that has to be done and just when it must be done. It is from such experiments that I have been led to estimate as nil the power of mere muscular effort in contributing to the acquisition of ideas.

480. Every concept, doubtless, first arises when upon a strong, but more or less vague, sense of need is superinduced some involuntary experience of a suggestive nature; that being suggestive which has a certain occult relation to the build of the mind. We may assume that it is the same with the instinctive ideas of animals; and man's ideas are quite as miraculous as those of the bird, the beaver, and the ant. For a not insignificant percentage of them have turned out to be the keys of great secrets. With beasts, however, conditions are comparatively unchanging, and there is no further progress. With man these first concepts (first in the order of development, but emerging at all stages of mental life) take the form of conjectures, though they are by no means always recognized as such. Every concept, every general proposition of the great edifice of science, first came to us as a conjecture. These ideas are the first logical interpretants of the phenomena that suggest them, and which, as suggesting them, are signs, of which they are the (really conjectural) interpretants. But that they are no more than that is evidently an after-thought, the dash of cold doubt that awakens the sane judgment of the muser. Meantime, do not forget that every conjecture is equivalent to, or is expressive of, such a habit that having a certain desire one might accomplish it if one could perform a certain act. Thus, the primitive man must have been sometimes asked by his son whether the sun that rose in the morning was the same as the one that set the previous evening; and he may have replied, "I do not know, my boy; but I think that if I could put my brand on the evening sun, I should be able to see it on the morning sun again; and I once knew an old man who could look at the sun though he could hardly see anything else; and he told me that he had once seen a peculiarly shaped spot on the sun; and that it was to be recognized quite unmistakably for several days." [Readiness] to act in a certain way under given circumstances and when actuated by a given motive is a habit; and a deliberate, or self-controlled, habit is precisely a belief.

481. In the next step of thought, those first logical interpretants stimulate us to various voluntary performances in the inner world. We imagine ourselves in various situations and animated by various motives; and we proceed to trace out the alternative lines of conduct which the conjectures would leave open to us. We are, moreover, led, by the same inward activity, to remark different ways in which our conjectures could be slightly modified. The logical interpretant must, therefore, be in a relatively future tense.

482. To this may be added the consideration that it is not all signs that have logical interpretants, but only intellectual concepts and the like; and these are all either general or intimately connected with generals, as it seems to me. This shows that the species of future tense of the logical interpretant is that of the conditional mood, the "would-be."

483. At the time I was originally puzzling over the enigma of the nature of the logical interpretant, and had reached about the stage where the discussion now is, being in a quandary, it occurred to me that if I only could find a moderate number of concepts which should be at once highly abstract and abstruse, and yet the whole nature of whose meanings should be quite unquestionable, a study of them would go far toward showing me how and why the logical interpretant should in all cases be a conditional future. I had no sooner framed a definite wish for such concepts, than I perceived that in mathematics they are as plenty as blackberries. I at once began running through the explications of them, which I found all took the following form: Proceed according to such and such a general rule. Then, if such and such a concept is applicable to such and such an object, the operation will have such and such a general result; and conversely. Thus, to take an extremely simple case, if two geometrical figures of dimensionality N should be equal in all their parts, an easy rule of construction would determine, in a space of dimensionality N containing both figures, an axis of rotation, such that a rigid body that should fill not only that space but also a space of dimensionality N + 1, containing the former space, turning about that axis, and carrying one of the figures along with it while the other figure remained at rest, the rotation would bring the movable figure back into its original space of dimensionality, N, and when that event occurred, the movable figure would be in exact coincidence with the unmoved one, in all its parts; while if the two figures were not so equal, this would never happen.

Here was certainly a stride toward the solution of the enigma.

For the treatment of a score of intellectual concepts on that model, only a few of them being mathematical, seemed to me to be so refulgently successful as fully to convince me that to predicate any such concept of a real or imaginary object is equivalent to declaring that a certain operation, corresponding to the concept, if performed upon that object, would (certainly, or probably, or possibly, according to the mode of predication), be followed by a result of a definite general description.

The rest of this section is long and hard, you can read it by    

484. Yet this does not quite tell us just what the nature is of the essential effect upon the interpreter, brought about by the semio'sis [Click here to view] of the sign, which constitutes the logical interpretant. (It is important to understand what I mean by semiosis. All dynamical action, or action of brute force, physical or psychical, either takes place between two subjects [whether they react equally upon each other, or one is agent and the other patient, entirely or partially] or at any rate is a resultant of such actions between pairs. But by "semiosis" I mean, on the contrary, an action, or influence, which is, or involves, a coöperation of three subjects, such as a sign, its object, and its interpretant, this tri-relative influence not being in any way resolvable into actions between pairs. {Sémeiösis} in Greek of the Roman period, as early as Cicero's time, if I remember rightly, meant the action of almost any kind of sign; and my definition confers on anything that so acts the title of a "sign.") acts the title of a "sign.")

485. Although the definition does not require the logical interpretant (or, for that matter, either of the other two interpretants) to be a modification of consciousness, yet our lack of experience of any semiosis in which this is not the case, leaves us no alternative to beginning our inquiry into its general nature with a provisional assumption that the interpretant is, at least, in all cases, a sufficiently close analogue of a modification of consciousness to keep our conclusion pretty near to the general truth. We can only hope that, once that conclusion is reached, it may be susceptible of such a generalization as will eliminate any possible error due to the falsity of that assumption. The reader may well wonder why I do not simply confine my inquiry to psychical semiosis, since no other seems to be of much importance. My reason is that the too frequent practice, by those logicians who do not go to work [with] any method at all [or who follow] the method of basing propositions in the science of logic upon results of the science of psychology --as contradistinguished from common-sense observations concerning the workings of the mind, observations well-known even if little noticed, to all grown men and women, that are of sound minds --that practice is to my apprehension as unsound and insecure as was that bridge in the novel of "Kenilworth" that, being utterly without any sort of support, sent the poor Countess Amy to her destruction; seeing that, for the firm establishment of the truths of the science of psychology, almost incessant appeals to the results of the science of logic --as contradistinguished from natural perceptions that one relation evidently involves another --are peculiarly indispensable. Those logicians continually confound psychical truths with psychological truths, although the distinction between them is of that kind that takes precedence over all others as calling for the respect of anyone who would tread the strait and narrow road that leadeth unto exact truth.

486. Making that provisional assumption, then, I ask myself, since we have already seen that the logical interpretant is general in its possibilities of reference (i.e., refers or is related to whatever there may be of a certain description), what categories of mental facts there be that are of general reference. I can find only these four: conceptions, desires (including hopes, fears, etc.), expectations, and habits. I trust I have made no important omission. Now it is no explanation of the nature of the logical interpretant (which, we already know, is a concept) to say that it is a concept. This objection applies also to desire and expectation, as explanations of the same interpretant; since neither of these is general otherwise than through connection with a concept. Besides, as to desire, it would be easy to show (were it worth the space), that the logical interpretant is an effect of the energetic interpretant, in the sense in which the latter is an effect of the emotional interpretant. Desire, however, is cause, not effect, of effort. As to expectation, it is excluded by the fact that it is not conditional. For that which might be mistaken for a conditional expectation is nothing but a judgment that, under certain conditions, there would be an expectation: there is no conditionality in the expectation itself, such as there is in the logical interpretant after it is actually produced. Therefore, there remains only habit, as the essence of the logical interpretant. in the expectation itself, such as there is in the logical interpretant after it is actually produced. Therefore, there remains only habit, as the essence of the logical interpretant.

487. Let us see, then, just how, according to the rule derived from mathematical concepts (and confirmed by others), this habit is produced; and what sort of a habit it is. In order that this deduction may be rightly made, the following remark will be needed. It is not a result of scientific psychology, but is simply a bit of the catholic and undeniable common sense of mankind, with no other modification than a slight accentuation of certain features.

Every sane person lives in a double world, the outer and the inner world, the world of percepts and the world of fancies. What chiefly keeps these from being mixed up together is (besides certain marks they bear) everybody's well knowing that fancies can be greatly modified by a certain non-muscular effort, while it is muscular effort alone (whether this be "voluntary," that is, pre-intended, or whether all the intended endeavour is to inhibit muscular action, as when one blushes, or when peristaltic action is set up on experience of danger to one's person) that can to any noticeable degree modify percepts. A man can be durably affected by his percepts and by his fancies. The way in which they affect him will be apt to depend upon his personal inborn disposition and upon his habits. Habits differ from dispositions in having been acquired as consequences of the principle, virtually well-known even to those whose powers of reflexion are insufficient to its formulation, that multiple reiterated behaviour of the same kind, under similar combinations of percepts and fancies, produces a tendency --the habit--actually to behave in a similar way under similar circumstances in the future. Moreover --here is the point --every man exercises more or less control over himself by means of modifying his own habits; and the way in which he goes to work to bring this effect about in those cases in which circumstances will not permit him to practice reiterations of the desired kind of conduct in the outer world shows that he is virtually well-acquainted with the important principle that reiterations in the inner world --fancied reiterations --if well-intensified by direct effort, produce habits, just as do reiterations in the outer world; and these habits will have power to influence actual behaviour in the outer world; especially, if each reiteration be accompanied by a peculiar strong effort that is usually likened to issuing a command to one's future self.

488. I here owe my patient reader a confession. It is that when I said that those signs that have a logical interpretant are either general or closely connected with generals, this was not a scientific result, but only a strong impression due to a life-long study of the nature of signs. My excuse for not answering the question scientifically is that I am, as far as I know, a pioneer, or rather a backwoodsman, in the work of clearing and opening up what I call semiotic, that is, the doctrine of the essential nature and fundamental varieties of possible semiosis; and I find the field too vast, the labor too great, for a first-comer. I am, accordingly, obliged to confine myself to the most important questions. The questions of the same particular type as the one I answer on the basis of an impression, which are of about the same importance, exceed four hundred in number; and they are all delicate and difficult, each requiring much search and much caution. At the same time, they are very far from being among the most important of the questions of semiotic. Even if my answer is not exactly correct, it can lead to no great misconception as to the nature of the logical interpretant. There is my apology, such as it may be deemed.

489. It is not to be supposed that upon every presentation of a sign capable of producing a logical interpretant, such interpretant is actually produced. The occasion may either be too early or too late. If it is too early, the semiosis will not be carried so far, the other interpretants sufficing for the rude functions for which the sign is used. On the other hand, the occasion will come too late if the interpreter be already familiar with the logical interpretant, since then it will be recalled to his mind by a process which affords no hint of how it was originally produced. Moreover, the great majority of instances in which formations of logical interpretants do take place are very unsuitable to serve as illustrations of the process, because in them the essentials of this semiosis are buried in masses of accidental and hardly relevant semioses that are mixed with the former. The best way that I have been able to hit upon for simplifying the illustrative example which is to serve as our matter upon which to experiment and observe is to suppose a man already skillful in handling a given sign (that has a logical interpretant) to begin now before our inner gaze for the first time, seriously to inquire what that interpretant is. It will be necessary to amplify this hypothesis by a specification of what his interest in the question is supposed to be. In doing this, I, by no means, follow Mr. Schiller's brilliant and seductive humanistic logic, according to which it is proper to take account of the whole personal situation in logical inquiries. For I hold it to be very evil and harmful procedure to introduce into scientific investigation an unfounded hypothesis, without any definite prospect of its hastening our discovery of the truth. Now such a hypothesis Mr. Schiller's rule seems to me, with my present lights, to be. He has given a number of reasons for it; but, to my estimate, they seem to be of that quality that is well calculated to give rise to interesting discussions, and is consequently to be recommended to those who intend to pursue the study of philosophy as an entertaining exercise of the intellect, but is negligible [to] one whose earnest purpose is to do what in him lies toward bringing about a metamorphosis of philosophy into a genuine science. I cannot turn aside into Mr. Schiller's charming lane. When I ask what the interest is in seeking to discover a logical interpretant, it is not my fondness for strolling in paths where I can study the varieties of humanity that moves me, but the definite reflection that unless our hypothesis be rendered specific as to that interest, it will be impossible to trace out its logical consequences, since the way the interpreter will conduct the inquiry will greatly depend upon the nature of his interest in it.

490. I shall suppose, then, that the interpreter is not particularly interested in the theory of logic, which he may judge by examples to be profitless; but I shall suppose that he has embarked a great part of the treasures of his life in the enterprise of perfecting a certain invention; and that, for this end, it seems to him extremely desirable that he should acquire a demonstrative knowledge of the solution of a certain problem of reasoning. As to this problem itself, I shall suppose that it does not fall within any class for which any general method of handling is known, and that indeed it is indefinite in every respect which might afford any familiar kind of handle by which any image fairly representing it could be held firmly before the mind and examined; so that, in short, it seems to elude reason's application or to slip from its grasp.

Various problems answering this description might be instanced; but to fix our ideas, I will specify one of them, and will suppose that this is the very one which our imaginary inventor wishes to solve. It shall be the following "mapcoloring problem": Let a globular body be bored through in two wide holes; and, though it is unnecessary, the edge at each end of each tunnel shall be smoothly rounded off. Then the problem is, supposing its utterer is free to divide the whole surface of this body --including the surfaces of the bores --into regions in any way he likes (no region consisting of separated pieces), and supposing that it will then fall to the interpreter to color the whole area of each region in one color, but never giving to two regions that abut along a common boundary-line the same color; required to ascertain what will be the least number of different colors that will always suffice, no matter how the surface may have been divided.

Under the high stimulus of his interest in this problem, and with that practical knack that we have supposed him to possess in coloring maps without too frequently being obliged to go back and alter the colors he had assigned to given regions, we need not doubt that our inquirer will be thrown into a state of high activity in the world of fancies, in experimenting upon coloring maps, while trying to make out what subconscious rule guides him, and renders him as successful as he usually is; and in trying, too, to discover what rule he had violated in each case where his first coloration has to be changed. This activity is, logically, an energetic interpretant of the interrogatory he puts to himself. Should he in this way succeed in working out a determinate rule for coloring every map on the two-tunnelled (or, what is the same thing, the two-bridged) everywhere unbounded surface with the fewest possible colors, there will be good hope that a demonstration may tread upon the heels of that rule, in which case, the problem will be solved in the most convenient form.

But while he may very likely manage to formulate his own usually successful way of coloring the regions, it is very unlikely that he will obtain an unfailing rule for doing so. For after some of the first mathematicians in Europe had found themselves baffled by the far simpler problem, to prove that every map upon an ordinary sheet can be colored with four colors, one of the very first logico-mathematicians of our age, Mr. Alfred B. Kempe,.1 proposed a proof of it, somewhat, though not exactly, of the kind we are supposing our imaginary inventor to be aiming at. Yet I am informed that many years later a fatal flaw was discovered in Mr. Kempe's proof. I do not remember that I ever knew what the fallacy was. We may assume with confidence, then, that our imaginary interpreter will, at length, come to despair of solving the problem in that way. What way shall I imagine him to try next? logico-mathematicians of our age, Mr. Alfred B. Kempe, proposed a proof of it, somewhat, though not exactly, of the kind we are supposing our imaginary inventor to be aiming at. Yet I am informed that many years later a fatal flaw was discovered in Mr. Kempe's proof. I do not remember that I ever knew what the fallacy was. We may assume with confidence, then, that our imaginary interpreter will, at length, come to despair of solving the problem in that way. What way shall I imagine him to try next?

It will be very natural for him to pass from endeavouring to define a uniformly successful rule of procedure, to endeavouring either; first, to define the topical conditions under which two different regions must be colored alike, if the colors are not to exceed a given number, whence he will deduce the conditions under which two regions that do not abut must be colored differently; or else, first to define the conditions under which two regions cannot, by being stretched out, be brought into abuttal along a boundary, and thence to define the conditions under which two regions must be colored alike. Either of these methods is more promising than the one with which he began; and yet were either capable of being perfected without some very peculiar aperçu, the easier task of demonstrating that four colors suffice for every map on an ordinary limited sheet or globular surface must long ago have been brought to completion, which never has been accomplished, I believe, in print. We may assume, then, that he will, at length, come to abandon every such method. Meantime, he cannot fail to have noticed several obvious propositions that will be useful in his further inquiries. One of these will be that by minute alterations of the boundaries between regions, which alterations can neither diminish nor increase the number of colors that will in all cases just suffice, he can get rid of all points where four or more regions concur, and thus render the number of points of concurrence two-thirds as many as the number of boundaries, so that the latter number will be divisible by three, and the former by two, unless fewer colors are required than are generally necessary. He will also have remarked that there must for each color be at least one region of that color which abuts upon regions of all the other colors, that for each of these other colors there must be at least one region that besides abutting upon the first region abuts upon regions of all the remaining colors, etc.

I shall suppose that it now occurs to him that it not only makes no difference what the proportionate dimensions either of the whole surface or of any of the regions are, but that it is equally indifferent whether any part of the whole surface be flat, convex, concave, curved, or broken by angles, or whether any boundaries are straight, curved, or broken by angles, and are convex or concave to either of the regions it bounds; whence it will follow that the problem belongs neither to Metrical, nor to Graphical (or Projective) Geometry, but to Topical Geometry, or Geometrical Topics. This is the most fundamental, and no doubt, in its own nature, much the easiest of the three departments of geometry. For just as Cayley showed, metrics is but a special problem in the easier graphics; so quite obviously graphics is a special problem in the easier topics. For there is no other possible way of defining unlimited planes and rays, than by the topical statement (which does not fully define them) that the unbounded planes are a family of surfaces in 3-dimensional space of which any two contain one common line, only, which is a ray, and of which any three that do not all contain one common ray, have one point and only one in common; and further, any two points are both contained in one and in only one ray, while any three points not all in one ray are contained in one and only one unbounded plane..P1 possible way of defining unlimited planes and rays, than by the topical statement (which does not fully define them) that the unbounded planes are a family of surfaces in 3-dimensional space of which any two contain one common line, only, which is a ray, and of which any three that do not all contain one common ray, have one point and only one in common; and further, any two points are both contained in one and in only one ray, while any three points not all in one ray are contained in one and only one unbounded plane.

But though Topics must be the easiest kind of geometry, yet geometers were so accustomed to rely on considerations of measure and of flatness, that when they were deprived of these, they did not know how to handle problems; so that, apart from mere enumerations of forms, such as knots, we are still in possession of only one general theorem of Topics, Listing's census-theorem..1 Consequently, our imagined investigator, as soon as he remarks that he has a problem in topical geometry before him, will infer that he must utilize that sole known theorem of topics; albeit it is sufficiently obvious that that theorem of itself is not adequate to furnishing a solution of his problem. I will state the census-theorem of Listing with some sacrifice of exactitude to perspicuity, insofar as it applies to the map-coloring problem. The surface which is divided into regions may be bounded by a line or unbounded. If it be unbounded and separates [a] solid into two parts, I call it artiad; if it does not, I call it perissid. The Cyclosy, or ringiness, of the surface of a body unpierced by any tunnel (i.e., not bridged over by an unbounded bridge), is zero; and every tunnel through the body adds two to the cyclosy of its surface. The cyclosy of the simplest perissid surface, such as an unbounded plane, is one, and every tunnel connecting two parts of it in an additional way (or every cylindrical bridge, which will be a tunnel on the other side of the surface) adds two to the cyclosy. A region, or an uninterrupted boundary that does not return into itself (as I will assume is the case with all regions and boundaries between two regions), has zero cyclosy. I will further assume that there is more than one region on the surface. Under these circumstances, the Census theorem takes this form, supposing all points of concurrence of regions are points where three regions and no more run together; one third of the number of boundaries from one point of concurrence to the next diminished by the number of regions is equal to one less than the cyclosy of the whole surface, if this be bounded, or to two less than the cyclosy, if the surface be unbounded. In the case of the surface of the body pierced by two tunnels, the surface is unbounded, and its cyclosy is 4. The investigator will see at once that the number of colors must be at least 7, and is likely to be more. For were the body pierced by but one tunnel, let the number of regions each abutting upon all the rest be x. Then, the number of boundaries would be 1/2x (x-1); and the census-theorem applied to this case would be 1/6 x (x-1)-x = 2-2. That is x2 -7x = 0, or x = 7. Since, then, even with but one tunnel seven colors might be required, at least that number will be required for the case of two tunnels. On the other hand, were 2 tunnels made in a projective plane, where the cyclosy would be 5, instead of 4, only 9 regions could touch one another; so that it is likely that for a surface of cyclosy 4, the requisite number of colors is less than 9. The investigator will, therefore, only have to ascertain whether 8, and if so whether 9, colors can be required. He is still not very near his solution, but he is not hopelessly removed from it. will, therefore, only have to ascertain whether 8, and if so whether 9, colors can be required. He is still not very near his solution, but he is not hopelessly removed from it.

491. In every case, after some preliminaries, the activity takes the form of experimentation in the inner world; and the conclusion (if it comes to a definite conclusion), is that under given conditions, the interpreter will have formed the habit of acting in a given way whenever he may desire a given kind of result. The real and living logical conclusion is that habit; the verbal formulation merely expresses it. I do not deny that a concept, proposition, or argument may be a logical interpretant. I only insist that it cannot be the final logical interpretant, for the reason that it is itself a sign of that very kind that has itself a logical interpretant. The habit alone, which though it may be a sign in some other way, is not a sign in that way in which that sign of which it is the logical interpretant is the sign. The habit conjoined with the motive and the conditions has the action for its energetic interpretant; but action cannot be a logical interpretant, because it lacks generality. The concept which is a logical interpretant is only imperfectly so. It somewhat partakes of the nature of a verbal definition, and is as inferior to the habit, and much in the same way, as a verbal definition is inferior to the real definition. The deliberately formed, self-analyzing habit --self-analyzing because formed by the aid of analysis of the exercises that nourished it --is the living definition, the veritable and final logical interpretant. Consequently, the most perfect account of a concept that words can convey will consist in a description of the habit which that concept is calculated to produce. But how otherwise can a habit be described than by a description of the kind of action to which it gives rise, with the specification of the conditions and of the motive?

492. If we now revert to the psychological assumption originally made, we shall see that it is already largely eliminated by the consideration that habit is by no means exclusively a mental fact. Empirically, we find that some plants take habits. The stream of water that wears a bed for itself is forming a habit. Every ditcher so thinks of it. Turning to the rational side of the question, the excellent current definition of habit, due, I suppose, to some physiologist (if I can remember my bye-reading for nearly half a century unglanced at, Brown-Sequard much insisted on it in his book on the spinal cord), says not one word about the mind. Why should it, when habits in themselves are entirely unconscious, though feelings may be symptoms of them, and when consciousness alone --i.e., feeling -is the only distinctive attribute of mind?

What further is needed to clear the sign of its mental associations is furnished by generalizations too facile to arrest attention here, since nothing but feeling is exclusively mental.

493. But while I say this, it must not be inferred that I regard consciousness as a mere "epiphenomenon"; though I heartily grant that the hypothesis that it is so has done good service to science. To my apprehension, consciousness may be defined as that congeries of non-relative predicates, varying greatly in quality and in intensity, which are symptomatic of the interaction of the outer world --the world of those causes that are exceedingly compulsive upon the modes of consciousness, with general disturbance sometimes amounting to shock, and are acted upon only slightly, and only by a special kind of effort, muscular effort --and of the inner world, apparently derived from the outer, and amenable to direct effort of various kinds with feeble reactions; the interaction of these two worlds chiefly consisting of a direct action of the outer world upon the inner and an indirect action of the inner world upon the outer through the operation of habits. If this be a correct account of consciousness, i.e., of the congeries of feelings, it seems to me that it exercises a real function in self-control, since without it, or at least without that of which it is symptomatic, the resolves and exercises of the inner world could not affect the real determinations and habits of the outer world. I say that these belong to the outer world because they are not mere fantasies but are real agencies.

Or, if you prefer, here is a Polish joke supposedly told by Steve Wozniak, a Polish-American, Apple co-founder, and a star in Season 8 of 'Dancing With the Stars':
"What does a Polish bride get on her wedding night that is long and hard?"   

"A new last name".

You may protest that last name of the joke teller, Steve Wozniak, may be hard but not long.
Well, 'Wozniak' is actually an Americanized short version of original Polish name which is 'Wozniakianjikolenxymirudimentoraxupoqasjawetychovetski'

Q: Do Polish names always end in "ski" ?
A: No, "ski" is actually a modern day Polish invention, a shorthand for szohenghulmanzhukjelhavqodsufaxhi..

494. I have now outlined my own form of pragmatism; but there are other slightly different ways of regarding what is practically the same method of attaining vitally distinct conceptions, from which I should protest from the depths of my soul against being separated.
## In the first place, there is the pragmatism of James, whose definition differs from mine only in that he does not restrict the "meaning," that is, the ultimate logical interpretant, as I do, to a habit, but allows percepts, that is, complex feelings endowed with compulsiveness, to be such. If he is willing to do this, I do not quite see how he need give any room at all to habit. But practically, his view and mine must, I think, coincide, except where he allows considerations not at all pragmatic to have weight.
## Then there is Schiller, who offers no less than seven alternative definitions of pragmatism.
*The first is that pragmatism is the Doctrine that "truths are logical values." At first blush, this seems far too broad; for who, be he pragmatist or absolutist, can fail to prefer truth to fiction? But no doubt what is meant is that the objectivity of truth really consists in the fact that, in the end, every sincere inquirer will be led to embrace it --and if he be not sincere, the irresistible effect of inquiry in the light of experience will be to make him so. This doctrine appears to me, after one subtraction, to be a corollary of pragmatism. I set it in a strong light in my original presentation of the method. I call my form of it "conditional idealism." That is to say, I hold that truth's independence of individual opinions is due (so far as there is any "truth") to its being the predestined result to which sufficient inquiry would ultimately lead. I only object that, as Mr. Schiller himself seems sometimes to say, there is not the smallest scintilla of logical justification for any assertion that a given sort of result will, as a matter of fact, either always or never come to pass; and consequently we cannot know that there is any truth concerning any given question; and this, I believe, agrees with the opinion of M. Henri Poincaré, except that he seems to insist upon the non-existence of any absolute truth for all questions, which is simply to fall into the very same error on the opposite side. But practically, we know that questions do generally get settled in time, when they come to be scientifically investigated; and that is practically and pragmatically enough.
*Mr. Schiller's second definition is Captain Bunsby's that "the 'truth' of an assertion depends on its application," which seems to me the result of a weak analysis.
*His third definition is that pragmatism is the doctrine that "the meaning of a rule lies in its application," which would make the "meaning" consist in the energetic interpretant and would ignore the logical interpretant; another feeble analysis.
*His fourth definition is that pragmatism is the doctrine that "all meaning depends on purpose." I think there is much to be said in favor of this, which would, however, make pragmatists of many thinkers who do not consider themselves as belonging to our school of thought. Their affiliations with us are, however, undeniable.
*His fifth definition is that pragmatism is the doctrine that "all mental life is purposive."
*His sixth definition is that pragmatism is "a systematic protest against all ignoring of the purposiveness of actual knowing." Mr. Schiller seems habitually to use the word "actual" in some peculiar sense.
*His seventh definition is that pragmatism is "a conscious application to epistemology (or logic) of a teleological psychology, which implies, ultimately, a voluntaristic metaphysics." Supposing by "psychology" he means not the science so called, but a critical acceptance of a sifted common-sense of mankind regarding mental phenomena, I might subscribe to this. I have myself called pragmatism "critical common-sensism"; but, of course, I do not mean this for a strict definition.

## Signor Giovanni Papini goes a step beyond Mr. Schiller in maintaining [that] pragmatism is indefinable. But that seems to me to be a literary phrase. In the main, I much admire Papini's presentation of the subject.

496. There are certain questions commonly reckoned as metaphysical, and which certainly are so, if by metaphysics we mean ontology, which as soon as pragmatism is once sincerely accepted, cannot logically resist settlement. These are for example, What is reality? Are necessity and contingency real modes of being? Are the laws of nature real? Can they be assumed to be immutable or are they presumably results of evolution? Is there any real chance, or departure from real law? But on examination, if by metaphysics we mean the broadest positive truths of the psycho-physical universe --positive in the sense of not being reducible to logical formulæ --then the very fact that these problems can be solved by a logical maxim is proof enough that they do not belong to metaphysics but to "epistemology," an atrocious translation of Erkenntnislehre. When we pass to consider the nature of Time, it seems that pragmatism is of aid, but does not of itself yield a solution. When we go on to the nature of Space, I boldly declare that Newton's view that it is a real entity is alone logically tenable; and that leaves such further questions as, Why should Space have three dimensions? quite unanswerable for the present. This, however, is a purely speculative question without much human interest. (It would, of course, be absurd to say that tridimensionality is without practical consequences.) For those metaphysical questions that have such interest, the question of a future life and especially that of One Incomprehensible but Personal God, not immanent in but creating the universe, I, for one, heartily admit that a Humanism, that does not pretend to be a science but only an instinct, like a bird's power of flight, but purified by meditation, is the most precious contribution that has been made to philosophy for ages.




"Peirce's Theory of Sign"

Peirce's Theory of Sign
Peirce's Theory of Sign.

"Peirce's Trichotomy"

Peirce's Trichotomy
Peirce's Trichotomy

Image sources:



"It is easy to be certain"

It is easy to be certain
It is easy to be certain ... One has only to be sufficiently vague.

"The public prefer the cheap and nasty."

The public prefer the cheap and nasty.
In the matter of ideas the public prefer the cheap and nasty..


"Pragmatism Theory of Mind"

Pragmatism = Psychology + Logic
Pragmatism Theory of Mind.

"Pragmatism = Logical Psychology"

Pragmatism = Psychology + Logic
Pragmatism = Psychology + Logic.