The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Notes on Portions of Hume's "Treatise on Human Nature"’


What I call Reasoning differs from an acritical inference in that it is always accompanied by the belief that it, the special inference, is only an instance of a type, or genus of inference. I do not agree with Hume that the line should be drawn between cases where the “check or controul” actually is resorted to. It suffices that the mind should appeal to the possibility of such confirmation, just as the moral difference between lawful and lawless action consists, not in the case being carried into court, but in the agent’s confidence that a court would sustain him. In my opinion, reasoning is only a peculiar variety of action under moral self-control. As in the case of morals, the control may be of a very complex kind; but its essential features are review, critical comparison with previous decisions or with ideals, rehearsal in the imagination of future conduct on various possible occasions, and the formation or modification thereby of habits or dispositions of the occult something behind consciousness. The great stimulus to reasoning is surprise.

MS [R] 939:3-5
‘Reasoning’ (pub. 13.10.15-10:48). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 13, 2015, 10:48 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Oct 13, 2015, 11:07 by Mats Bergman