The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘The Bed-Rock Beneath Pragmaticism’


…in speaking […] of a “generalized” icon, I used the qualification in a sense of “generalize” common among designers, especially among cartographers, as well as in vernacular talk, though it is not the proper logical sense of the verb, since it does not signify the removal of any constituent of logical depth from a condition, nor confers any liberty on the interpreter, but implies some almost microscopic items that are, really falsifications committed in the interest of simplification. Thus, a map “generalizes” its image of a river in representing the latter as not making sundry small windings that it really does make. So recollection may be said to “generalize” the remembered perception in representing this to be without many insignificant details that really did belong to it; and although an icon is not, properly speaking, general, so far as it is a pure icon, yet every icon must “generalize,” more or less, in this peculiar sense. Even a photograph does so.

MS [R] 300:50-1; LI 388
‘Generalized Icon’ (pub. 28.11.15-11:25). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Nov 28, 2015, 11:25 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Dec 14, 2015, 17:32 by Mats Bergman