The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Letters to Lady Welby’


There is the Intentional Interpretant, which is a determination of the mind of the utterer; the Effectual Interpretant, which is a determination of the mind of the interpreter; and the Communicational Interpretant, or say the Cominterpretant, which is a determination of that mind into which the minds of utterer and interpreter have to be fused in order that any communication should take place. This mind may be called the commens. It consists of all that is, and must be, well understood between utterer and interpreter, at the outset, in order that the sign in question should fulfill its function. This I proceed to explain.

No object can be denoted unless it be put into relation to the object of the commens. A man, tramping along a weary and solitary road, meets an individual of strange mien, who says, “There was a fire in Megara.” If this should happen in the Middle United States, there might very likely be some village in the neighborhood called Megara. Or it may refer to one of the ancient cities of Megara, or to some romance. And the time is wholly indefinite. In short, nothing at all is conveyed, until the person addressed asks, “Where?” – “Oh about half a mile along there” pointing to whence he came. “And when?” “As I passed.” Now an item of information has been conveyed, because it has been stated relatively to a well-understood common experience. Thus the Form conveyed is always a determination of the dynamical object of the commind.

EP 2:478
‘Commens’ (pub. 15.10.12-16:31). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 15, 2012, 16:31 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Oct 12, 2014, 16:38 by Mats Bergman