The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Logic. Chap. 5th’


a thing which stands for another thing is a representation or sign. So that it appears that every species of actual cognition is of the nature of a sign. [—]

Let us examine some of the characters of signs in general. A sign must in the first place have some qualities in itself which serve to distinguish it, a word must have a peculiar sound different from the sound of another word; but it makes no difference what the sound is, so long as it is something distinguishable. In the next place, a sign must have a real physical connection with the thing it signifies so as to be affected by that thing. A weather-cock, which is a sign of the direction of the wind, must really turn with the wind. This word in this connection is an indirect one; but unless there be some way or other which shall connect words with the things they signify, and shall ensure their correspondence with them, they have no value as signs of those things. Whatever has these two characters is fit to become a sign. It is at least a symptom, but it is not actually a sign unless it is used as such; that is unless it is interpreted to thought and addresses itself to some mind.

W 3:76; CP 7.355-6
‘Sign’ (pub. 20.10.15-15:28). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 20, 2015, 15:28 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Oct 21, 2015, 11:21 by Mats Bergman