Perceptual Judgment   

Perceptual Judgment

Digital Companion to C. S. Peirce
Perceptual Judgment
1903 | Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism: Lecture II | EP 2:155; CP 5.54

By a perceptual judgment, I mean a judgment asserting in propositional form what a character of a percept directly present to the mind is.

1903 | Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism: Lecture IV. The Seven Systems of Metaphysics | EP 2:191; CP 5.115

Even after the percept is formed there is an operation which seems to me to be quite uncontrollable. It is that of judging what it is that the person perceives. A judgment is an act of formation of a mental proposition combined with an adoption of it or act of assent to it. A percept on the other hand is an image or moving picture or other exhibition. The perceptual judgment, that is, the first judgment of a person as to what is before his senses, bears no more resemblance to the percept than the figure I am going to draw is like a man.

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I do not see that it is possible to exercize any control over that operation or to subject it to criticism.

1903 | Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism: Lecture VI | EP 2:209-10; CP 5.153-6

It is a characteristic of perceptual judgments that each of them relates to some singular to which no other proposition relates directly, but, if it relates to it at all, [it] does so by relating to that perceptual judgment.


Had I […] asserted that a perceptual judgment could be a universal proposition, I should have fallen into rank absurdity. For reaction is existence and the perceptual judgment is the cognitive product of a reaction.

1903 | Telepathy | CP 7.630

I promised to show that a perceptual judgment is entirely unlike a percept. If it be true, as my analysis makes it to be, that a percept contains only two kinds of elements, those of firstness and those of secondness, then the great overshadowing point of difference is that the perceptual judgment professes to represent something, and thereby does represent something, whether truly or falsely. This is a very important difference, since the idea of representation is essentially what may be termed an element of “Thirdness,” that is, involves the idea of determining one thing to refer to another. [—] In a perceptual judgment the mind professes to tell the mind’s future self what the character of the present percept is. The percept, on the contrary, stands on its own legs and makes no professions of any kind.

1905 | Notes on Portions of Hume's "Treatise on Human Nature" | MS [R] 939:25-6

…I note a great difference between a “percept” and a “perceptual judgment”. The latter is a mental description of a percept, in language or other symbols. [—] But the elements of the perceptual judgments correspond to no separate elements of the percepts. The judgments “represent” the percepts only in the sense that the future self will interpret them as representing the percepts.That is why I call them symbols; for by a symbol I mean a sign which represents its object only by virtue of the fact that it will be interpreted as doing so.

1906 | Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism | CP 4.539

A fact of Immediate Perception is not a Percept, nor any part of a Percept; a Percept is a Seme, while a fact of Immediate Perception or rather the Perceptual Judgment of which such fact is the Immediate Interpretant, is a Pheme that is the direct Dynamical Interpretant of the Percept, and of which the Percept is the Dynamical Object, and is with some considerable difficulty (as the history of psychology shows), distinguished from the Immediate Object, though the distinction is highly significant.