The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism’


… a selective cannot be used without being attached to a Ligature, and Ligatures without Selectives will express all that Selectives with Ligatures express. The second aim, to make the representations as iconical as possible, is likewise missed; since Ligatures are far more iconic than Selectives. For the comparison of the above figures shows that a Selective can only serve its purpose through a special habit of interpretation that is otherwise needless in the system, and that makes the Selective a Symbol and not an Icon; while a Ligature expresses the same thing as a necessary consequence regarding each sizeable dot as an Icon of what we call an “individual object”; and it must be such an Icon if we are to regard an invisible mathematical point as an Icon of the strict individual, absolutely determinate in all respects, which imagination cannot realize. Meantime, the fact that a special convention (a clause of the fourth) is required to distinguish a Selective from an ordinary univalent Spot constitutes a second infraction of the purpose of simplicity.

CP 4.561n1
‘Selective’ (pub. 14.04.13-11:38). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Apr 14, 2013, 11:38 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 00:58 by Commens Admin