The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘The Branches of Geometry; Existential Graphs [R]’


Abstraction names two wholly different operations. One of them consists in supposing some feature of the fact to be absent, or at least leaving it out of account. I call that prescissive abstraction. The other changes ‘This man is shy’ to ‘This man is affected with shyness’. [—] In non-prosaic language it changes a predicate into a subject (extending the term subject beyond the subject nominative to the subject accusative and subject dative, – in short, to what are called the direct and indirect objects of the verb). “The rose smells very sweetly” is by hypostatic abstraction converted into “The rose possesses a delightful perfume.” So “Cain killed Abel” is changed to “Cain caused the death of Abel.” Perfume and death are hypostatical abstractions. They denote entia rationis, whatever that may mean.

1905 [c.]
MS [R] 96
‘Hypostatic Abstraction’ (pub. 24.11.15-16:43). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Nov 24, 2015, 16:43 by Mats Bergman