The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Issues of Pragmaticism’


…to say that an operation of the mind is controlled is to say that it is, in a special sense, a conscious operation; and this no doubt is the consciousness of reasoning. For this theory requires that in reasoning we should be conscious, not only of the conclusion, and of our deliberate approval of it, but also of its being the result of the premiss from which it does result, and furthermore that the inference is one of a possible class of inferences which conform to one guiding principle. Now in fact we find a well-marked class of mental operations, clearly of a different nature from any others which do possess just these properties. They alone deserve to be called reasonings; and if the reasoner is conscious, even vaguely, of what his guiding principle is, his reasoning should be called a logical argumentation. There are, however, cases in which we are conscious that a belief has been determined by another given belief, but are not conscious that it proceeds on any general principle. Such is St. Augustine’s “cogito, ergo sum.” Such a process should be called, not a reasoning, but an acritical inference.

EP 2:348; CP 5.441
‘Acritical Inference’ (pub. 20.10.15-16:04). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 20, 2015, 16:04 by Mats Bergman