Dicent, Dicent Sign


Digital Companion to C. S. Peirce
Dicent, Dicent Sign
1903 | Syllabus: Nomenclature and Division of Triadic Relations, as far as they are determined | EP 2:292

A Dicent Sign is a sign, which, for its Interpretant, is a Sign of actual existence. It cannot, therefore, be an icon, which affords no ground for an interpretation of it as referring to actual existence. A Dicisign necessarily involves, as a part of it, a rheme, to describe the fact which it is interpreted as indicating. But this is a peculiar kind of rheme; and while it is essential to the dicisign, it by no means constitutes it.

[—] Or we may say […] that a Dicisign is a sign which is understood to represent its object in respect to actual existence

1903 | Syllabus: Syllabus of a course of Lectures at the Lowell Institute beginning 1903, Nov. 23. On Some Topics of Logic | EP 2:275-276

The second trichotomy of representamens is [divided] into: first, simple signs, substitutive signs, or Sumisigns; second, double signs, informational signs, quasi-propositions, or Dicisigns; third, triple signs, rationally persuasive signs, arguments, or Suadisigns.


The readiest characteristic test showing whether a sign is a Dicisign or not is that a Dicisign is either true or false, but does not directly furnish reasons for its being so. This shows that a Dicisign must profess to refer or relate to something as having a real being independently of the representation of it as such, and further that this reference or relation must not be shown as rational, but must appear as a blind Secondness. But the only kind of sign whose object is necessarily existent is the genuine Index. This Index might, indeed, be a part of a Symbol; but in that case the relation would appear as rational. Consequently a Dicisign necessarily represents itself to be a genuine Index, and to be nothing more.

1903 [c.] | P of L | MS [R] 800:5-6

A dicisign is a sign whose proper interpretant represents the object of the sign to be different from the sign itself, but ignores the distinction between the sign and its interpretant. In order that the proper interpretant may distinguish between the object and the sign itself, it is requisite that the sign should have separate parts representing the sign and its object. [—] The part representing the sign itself is, in propositions, the predicate, while the part representing the object is called the subject.

1904 [c.] | Draft of Nichols Review [C] | MS [R] 1476:6

..there are signs that both can be and have to be interpreted in an appropriate act and deed, in order that their peculiar purport may be conveyed. Let a man write his name on a scrap of paper, and it means nothing; but let him affix it to a legal instrument or affidavit, and it asserts. Such an assertive sign is technically named a dicisign.

1904-10-12 | Letters to Lady Welby | SS 33-34

In regard to its relation to its signified interpretant, a sign is either a Rheme, a Dicent, or an Argument. This corresponds to the old division Term, Proposition, & Argument, modified so as to be applicable to signs generally. [—] A proposition as I use that term, is a dicent symbol. A dicent is not an assertion, but is a sign capable of being asserted. But an assertion is a dicent. [—] I define a dicent as a sign represented in its signified interpretant as if it were in a Real Relation to its Object. (Or as being so, if it is asserted.)

1905 | Notes on Portions of Hume's "Treatise on Human Nature" | MS [R] 939:48-9

In their relations to their Triadic, i.e. intended or adaptational Interpretants, Signs may, 1st, determine those interpretants, merely in the sense that, if the Interpretants represent the Objects as the Signs themselves do they are such Interpretants as are intended. Such is an ideal statuette, and exclamation of surprise, a noun, whether common or proper. 2nd, Signs may be adapted to compelling or tending to compel the determination of their intended interpretants, such is a portrait with the name of the person represented under it, such is a weather-cock in a good breeze. 3rd, Signs may be adapted to determining a particular interpretant logically. Names: Rheme, Dicisign, Argument.