The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Answers to Questions about my Belief in God’


The word “reality” […] is used in ordinary parlance in its correct philosophical sense. It is curious that its legal meaning, in which we speak of “real estate,” is the earliest, occurring early in the twelfth century. Albertus Magnus, who, as a high ecclesiastic, must have had to do with such matters, imported it into philosophy. But it did not become at all common until Duns Scotus, in the latter part of the thirteenth century began to use it freely. I define the real as that which holds its characters on such a tenure that it makes not the slightest difference what any man or men may have thought them to be, or ever will have thought them to be, here using thought to include, imagining, opining, and willing (as long as forcible means are not used); but the real thing’s characters will remain absolutely untouched.

1906 [c.]
CP 6.495
‘Real’ (pub. 29.05.14-18:54). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
May 29, 2014, 18:54 by Mats Bergman