The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Cambridge Lectures on Reasoning and the Logic of Things: Types of Reasoning’


This probable reasoning in the second figure is, I apprehend, what Aristotle meant by {apagögé}. There are strong reasons for believing that in the chapter on the subject in the Prior Analytics, there occurred one of those many obliterations in Aristotle’s MS. due to its century long exposure to damp in a cellar, which the blundering Apellicon, the first editor, filled up with the wrong word. Let me change but one word of the text, and the meaning of the whole chapter is metamorphosed in such a way that it no longer breaks the continuity of the train of Aristotle’s thought [—] Supposing this view to be correct, {apagögé} should be translated not by the word abduction, as the custom of the translators is, but rather by reduction or retroduction. In these lectures I shall generally call this type of reasoning retroduction.

I first gave this theory in 1867, improving it slightly in 1868. In 1878 I gave a popular account of it in which I rightly insisted upon the radical distinction between Induction and Retroduction. In 1883, I made a careful restatement with considerable improvement. But I was led away by trusting to the perfect balance of logical breadth and depth into the mistake of treating Retroduction as a kind of Induction. [—] In 1892 I gave a good statement of the rationale of Retroduction but still failed to perceive the radical difference between this and Induction, although earlier it had been clear enough to my mind.

RLT 140-141
‘Retroduction’ (pub. 12.03.13-18:48). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Mar 12, 2013, 18:48 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 00:58 by Commens Admin