The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Syllabus: Nomenclature and Division of Triadic Relations, as far as they are determined’


A Symbol is a sign which refers to the Object that it denotes by virtue of a law, usually an association of general ideas, which operates to cause the Symbol to be interpreted as referring to that Object. It is thus itself a general type or law, that is, is a legisign. As such it acts through a replica. Not only is it general itself, but the Object to which it refers is of a general nature. Now that which is general has its being in the instances which it will determine. There must, therefore, be existent instances of what the symbol denotes, although we must here understand by “existent,” existent in the possibly imaginary universe to which the symbol refers. The symbol will indirectly, through the association or other law, be affected by those instances; and thus the symbol will involve a sort of index, although an index of a peculiar kind. It will not, however, be by any means true that the slight effect upon the symbol of those instances accounts for the significant character of the symbol.

EP 2:292
‘Symbol’ (pub. 05.05.13-11:52). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
May 05, 2013, 11:52 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 00:57 by Commens Admin