The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism: Lecture VII’


The third cotary proposition is that abductive inference shades into perceptual judgment without any sharp line of demarcation between them; or, in other words, our first premisses, the perceptual judgments, are to be regarded as an extreme case of abductive inferences, from which they differ in being absolutely beyond criticism. The abductive suggestion comes to us like a flash. It is an act of insight, although of extremely fallible insight. It is true that the different elements of the hypothesis were in our minds before; but it is the idea of putting together what we had never before dreamed of putting together which flashes the new suggestion before our contemplation.

CP 5.181
‘Abduction’ (pub. 03.01.13-17:09). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Jan 03, 2013, 17:09 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 01:01 by Commens Admin