The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Phaneroscopy: Or, The Natural History of Concepts’


We experience vicissitudes, especially. We cannot experience the vicissitude without experiencing the perception which undergoes the change; but the concept of experience is broader than that of perception, and includes much that is not, strictly speaking, an object of perception. It is the compulsion, the absolute constraint upon us to think otherwise than we have been thinking that constitutes experience. Now constraint and compulsion cannot exist without resistance, and resistance is effort opposing change. Therefore there must be an element of effort in experience; and it is this which gives it its peculiar character. But we are so disposed to yield to it as soon as we can detect it, that it is extremely difficult to convince ourselves that we have exerted any resistance at all. [—]

Of course we must distinguish between knowing by experience and experiencing itself. We know all the actual facts that we do know by experience; but our experience itself is limited to that which we are irrationally immediately, and absolutely, constrained to accept.

LI 351
‘Experience’ (pub. 23.10.15-18:24). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 23, 2015, 18:24 by Mats Bergman