The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Lessons of the History of Science’


We find some peoples drawn more toward arithmetic; others more toward geometry. But in either case, a correct method of reasoning was sure to be reached before many centuries of real inquiry had elapsed. The reasoning would be at first awkward, and one case would be needlessly split up into several. But still all influences were pressing the reasoner to make use of a diagram, and as soon as he did that he was pursuing the correct method. For mathematical reasoning consists in constructing a diagram according to a general precept, in observing certain relations between parts of that diagram not explicitly required by the precept, showing that these relations will hold for all such diagrams, and in formulating this conclusion in general terms. All valid necessary reasoning is in fact thus diagrammatic.

1896 [c.]
CP 1.54
‘Mathematical Reasoning’ (pub. 11.09.14-10:34). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Sep 01, 2014, 13:47 by Mats Bergman
Sep 11, 2014, 10:34