The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Truth and Falsity and Error’


All the above relates to complex truth, or the truth of propositions. This is divided into many varieties, among which may be mentioned ethical truth, or the conformity of an assertion to the speaker’s or writer’s belief, otherwise called veracity, and logical truth, that is, the concordance of a proposition with reality, in such way as is above defined.

(2) The word truth has also had great importance in philosophy in widely different senses, in which it is distinguished as simple truth, which is that truth which inheres in other subjects than propositions.

Plato in the Cratylus (385B) maintains that words have truth; and some of the scholastics admitted that an incomplex sign, such as a picture, may have truth.

But truth is also used in senses in which it is not an affection of a sign, but of things as things. Such truth is called transcendental truth. The scholastic maxim was Ens est unum, verum, bonum. Among the senses in which transcendental truth was spoken of was that in which it was said that all science has for its object the investigation of truth, that is to say, of the real characters of things. It was, in other senses, regarded as a subject of metaphysics exclusively. It is sometimes defined so as to be indistinguishable from reality, or real existence. Another common definition is that truth is the conformity, or conformability, of things to reason. Another definition is that truth is the conformity of things to their essential principles.

(3) Truth is also used in logic in a sense in which it inheres only in subjects more complex than propositions. Such is formal truth, which belongs to an argumentation which conforms to logical laws.

CP 5.570-3; DPP 2:719-20
‘Truth’ (pub. 14.04.13-11:58). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Apr 14, 2013, 11:58 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Oct 25, 2015, 12:44 by Mats Bergman