The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Minute Logic: Chapter I. Intended Characters of this Treatise’


A Sign degenerate in the greater degree is an Originalian Sign, or Icon, which is a Sign whose significant virtue is due simply to its Quality. Such, for example, are imaginations of how I would act under certain circumstances, as showing me how another man would be likely to act. We say that the portrait of a person we have not seen is convincing. So far as, on the ground merely of what I see in it, I am led to form an idea of the person it represents, it is an Icon. But, in fact, it is not a pure Icon, because I am greatly influenced by knowing that it is an effect, through the artist, caused by the original’s appearance, and is thus in a genuine Obsistent relation to that original. Besides, I know that portraits have but the slightest resemblance to their originals, except in certain conventional respects, and after a conventional scale of values, etc.

CP 2.92
‘Icon’ (pub. 28.04.13-19:05). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Apr 28, 2013, 19:05 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 00:57 by Commens Admin