The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God (G)’


Retroduction and Induction face opposite ways. The function of retroduction is not unlike those fortuitous variations in reproduction which played so important a rôle in Darwin’s original theory. In point of fact, according to him every step in the long history of the development of the moner into the man was first taken in that arbitrary and lawless mode. Whatever truth or error there may be in that, it is quite indubitable, as it appears to me, that every step in the development of primitive notions into modern science was in the first instance mere guess-work, or at least mere conjecture. But the stimulus to guessing, the hint of the conjecture, was derived from experience. The order of the march of suggestion in retroduction is from experience to hypothesis.

1908 [c.]
CP 2.755
‘Retroduction’ (pub. 12.03.13-18:56). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Mar 12, 2013, 18:56 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Mar 04, 2016, 12:18 by Mats Bergman