The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Pragmatism’


…it must not be inferred that I regard consciousness as a mere “epiphenomenon”; though I heartily grant that the hypothesis that it is so has done good service to science. To my apprehension, consciousness may be defined as that congeries of non-relative predicates, varying greatly in quality and in intensity, which are symptomatic of the interaction of the outer world, – the world of those causes that are exceedingly compulsive upon the modes of consciousness, with general disturbance sometimes amounting to shock, and are acted upon only slightly, and only by a special kind of effort, muscular effort, – and of the inner world, apparently derived from the outer, and amenable to direct effort of various kinds with feeble reactions, the interaction of these two worlds chiefly consisting of a direct action of the outer world upon the inner and an indirect action of the inner world upon the outer through the operation of habits. If this be a correct account of consciousness, i.e., of the congeries of feelings, it seems to me that it exercises a real function in self-control, since without it, or at least without that of which it is symptomatic, the resolves and exercises of the inner world could not affect the real determinations and habits of the outer world. I say that these belong to the outer world because they are not mere fantasies but are real agencies.

EP 2:418-9; CP 5.493
‘Consciousness’ (pub. 13.10.15-19:41). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 13, 2015, 19:41 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Oct 14, 2015, 14:43 by Mats Bergman