The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Minute Logic: Chapter III. The Simplest Mathematics’


How it can be that, although the reasoning is based upon the study of an individual schema, it is nevertheless necessary, that is, applicable, to all possible cases, is one of the questions we shall have to consider. Just now, I wish to point out that after the schema has been constructed according to the precept virtually contained in the thesis, the assertion of the theorem is not evidently true, even for the individual schema; nor will any amount of hard thinking of the philosophers’ corollarial kind ever render it evident. Thinking in general terms is not enough. It is necessary that something should be DONE. In geometry, subsidiary lines are drawn. In algebra permissible transformations are made. Thereupon, the faculty of observation is called into play. Some relation between the parts of the schema is remarked. But would this relation subsist in every possible case? Mere corollarial reasoning will sometimes assure us of this. But, generally speaking, it may be necessary to draw distinct schemata to represent alternative possibilities. Theorematic reasoning invariably depends upon experimentation with individual schemata. We shall find that, in the last analysis, the same thing is true of the corollarial reasoning, too; even the Aristotelian “demonstration why.” Only in this case, the very words serve as schemata. Accordingly, we may say that corollarial, or “philosophical” reasoning is reasoning with words; while theorematic, or mathematical reasoning proper, is reasoning with specially constructed schemata.

CP 4.233
‘Theorematic Reasoning’ (pub. 06.01.13-13:07). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Jan 06, 2013, 13:07 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Jan 07, 2014, 01:01 by Commens Admin