The Commens Dictionary

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


Modern science has been builded after the model of Galileo, who founded it, on il lume naturale. That truly inspired prophet had said that, of two hypotheses, the simpler is to be preferred; but I was formerly one of those who, in our dull self conceit fancying ourselves more sly than he, twisted the maxim to mean the logically simpler, the one that adds the least to what has been observed, in spite of three obvious objections: first, that so there was no support for any hypothesis; secondly, that by the same token we ought to content ourselves with simply formulating the special observations actually made; and thirdly, that every advance of science that further opens the truth to our view discloses a world of unexpected complications. It was not until long experience forced me to realize that subsequent discoveries were every time showing I had been wrong, - while those who understood the maxim as Galileo had done, early unlocked the secret, - that the scales fell from my eyes and my mind awoke to the broad and flaming daylight that it is the simpler hypothesis in the sense of the more facile and natural, the one that instinct suggests, that must be preferred; for the reason that, unless man have a natural bent in accordance with nature’s, he has no chance of understanding nature, at all.

EP 2:444, CP 6.477
‘Il Lume Naturale’ (pub. 14.06.14-17:00). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Jun 14, 2014, 17:00 by Sami Paavola