The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Grand Logic 1893: Division II. Methodology. Chapter XV. Breadth and Depth’


…even in the very first passage in which abstraction occurs as a term of logic, two distinct meanings of it are given, the one the contemplation of a form apart from matter, as when we think of whiteness, and the other the thinking of a nature indifferenter, or without regard to the differences of its individuals, as when we think of a white thing, generally. The latter process is called, also, precision (or better, prescission): and it would greatly contribute to perspicuity of thought and expression if we were to return to the usage of the best scholastic doctors and designate it by that name exclusively, restricting abstraction to the former process by which we obtain notions corresponding to the “abstract nouns.” [—] …prescission, if accurately analyzed, will be found not to be an affair of attention. We cannot prescind, but can only distinguish, color from figure. But we can prescind the geometrical figure from color; and the operation consists in imagining it to be so illuminated that its hue cannot be made out (which we easily can imagine, by an exaggeration of the familiar experience of the indistinctness of hues in the dusk of twilight). In general, prescission is always accomplished by imagining ourselves in situations in which certain elements of fact cannot be ascertained. This is a different and more complicated operation than merely attending to one element and neglecting the rest.

CP 2.428
‘Prescission’ (pub. 18.07.15-18:58). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Jul 18, 2015, 18:58 by Mats Bergman