The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Letters to William James’


…suppose I awake in the morning before my wife, and that afterwards she wakes up and inquires, “What sort of a day is it?” This is a sign, whose Object, as expressed, is the weather at that time, but whose Dynamical Object is the impression which I have presumably derived from peeping between the window-curtains. Whose Interpretant, as expressed, is the quality of the weather, but whose Dynamical Interpretant, is my answering her question. But beyond that, there is a third Interpretant. The Immediate Interpretant is what the Question expresses, all that it immediately expresses, which I have imperfectly restated above. The Dynamical Interpretant is the actual effect that it has upon me, its interpreter. But the Significance of it, the Ultimate, or Final, Interpretant is her purpose in asking it, what effect its answer will have as to her plans for the ensuing day. I reply, let us suppose: “It is a stormy day.” Here is another sign. Its Immediate Object is the notion of the present weather so far as this is common to her mind and mine - not the character of it, but the identity of it. The Dynamical Object is the identity of the actual or Real meteorological conditions at the moment. The Immediate Interpretant is the schema in her imagination, i.e. the vague Image or what there is in common to the different Images of a stormy day. The Dynamical Interpretant is the disappointment or whatever actual effect it at once has upon her. The Final Interpretant is the sum of the Lessons of the reply, Moral, Scientific, etc. Now it is easy to see that my attempt to draw this three-way, “trivialis” distinction, relates to a real and important three-way distinction, and yet that it is quite hazy and needs a vast deal of study before it is rendered perfect.

CP 8.314
‘Immediate Interpretant’ (pub. 16.08.13-17:09). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Aug 16, 2013, 17:09 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 00:55 by Commens Admin