The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘New Elements (Kaina stoiceia)’


…a geometrical figure drawn on paper may be an icon of a triangle or other geometrical form. If one meets a man whose language one does not know and resorts to imitative sounds and gestures, these approach the charac­ter of an icon. The reason they are not pure icons is that the purpose of them is emphasized. A pure icon is independent of any purpose. It serves as a sign solely and simply by exhibiting the quality it serves to signify. The relation to its object is a degenerate relation. It asserts nothing. If it conveys informa­tion, it is only in the sense in which the object that it is used to represent may be said to convey information. An icon can only be a fragment of a completer sign.

1904 [c.]
EP 2:306
‘Pure Icon’ (pub. 12.11.15-17:51). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Nov 12, 2015, 17:51 by Mats Bergman