The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Some Consequences of Four Incapacities’


Attention produces effects upon the nervous system. These effects are habits, or nervous associations. A habit arises, when, having had the sensation of performing a certain act, m, on several occasions a, b, c, we come to do it upon every occurrence of the general event, l, of which a, b and c are special cases. That is to say, by the cognition that

Every case of a, b, or c, is a case of m,

is determined the cognition that

Every case of l is a case of m.

Thus the formation of a habit is an induction, and is therefore necessarily connected with attention or abstraction. Voluntary actions result from the sensations produced by habits, as instinctive actions result from our original nature.

W 2:232-3; CP 5.297
‘Habit’ (pub. 20.10.15-12:36). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 20, 2015, 12:36 by Mats Bergman