The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Logical Tracts. No. 2. On Existential Graphs, Euler's Diagrams, and Logical Algebra’


… in any case in which the lines of identity become too intricate to be perspicuous, it is advantageous to replace some of them by signs of a sort that in this system are called selectives. A selective is very much of the same nature as a proper name; for it denotes an individual and its outermost occurrence denotes a wholly indesignate individual of a certain category (generally a thing) existing in the universe, just as a proper name, on the first occasion of hearing it, conveys no more. But, just as on any subsequent hearing of a proper name, the hearer identifies it with that individual concerning which he has some information, so all occurrences of the selective other than the outermost must be understood to denote that identical individual. If, however, the outermost occurrence of any given selective is oddly enclosed, then, on that first occurrence the selective will refer to any individual whom the interpreter may choose, and in all other occurrences to the same individual.

1903 [c.]
CP 4.460
‘Selective’ (pub. 14.04.13-11:34). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Apr 14, 2013, 11:34 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 02, 2016, 15:52 by Mats Bergman