The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Harvard Lectures on Pragmatism: Lecture III’


An index is a representamen which fulfills the function of a representamen by virtue of a character which it could not have if its object did not exist, but which it will continue to have just the same whether it be interpreted as a representamen or not. For instance, an old-fashioned hygrometer is an index. For it is so contrived as to have a physical reaction with dryness and moisture in the air, so that the little man will come out if it is wet, and this would happen just the same if the use of the instrument should be entirely forgotten, so that it ceased actually to convey any information.

CP 5.73
‘Index’ (pub. 05.05.13-10:28). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
May 05, 2013, 10:28 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 00:57 by Commens Admin