The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘A Brief Intellectual Autobiography by Charles Sanders Peirce’


Ethics studies in the controllable phenomenon the act and process of controlling it. This study is the very heart of normative science, and emphasizes more strongly than the others that dichotomy which is the constitutive characteristic of normative science. For it is the study of the controlled and the uncontrolled as they appear in effort and resistance. This abstract ethics which can derive no principle from metaphysics or from psychology can plainly have little in common with ordinary ethics.

Peirce, 1983, p. 71; MS [R] L107:20
Editorial Annotations: 

This quote has been taken from Kenneth Laine Ketner's 1983 reconstruction of Peirce's 'Autobiography'

‘Ethics’ (pub. 15.03.18-09:45). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Mar 15, 2018, 09:45 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Mar 15, 2018, 13:21 by Mats Bergman