The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘New Elements (Kaina stoiceia)’


…the most characteristic aspect of a symbol is its aspect as related to its interpretant; because a symbol is distinguished as a sign which becomes such by virtue of determining its interpretant. An interpretant of a symbol is an outgrowth of the symbol.


A symbol is essentially a purpose, that is to say, is a representation that seeks to make itself definite, or seeks to produce an interpretant more definite than itself. For its whole signification consists in its determining an interpretant; so that it is from its interpretant that it derives the actuality of its signification.


A symbol is an embryonic reality endowed with power of growth into the very truth, the very entelechy of reality. This appears mystical and mysterious simply because we insist on remaining blind to what is plain, that there can be no reality which has not the life of a symbol.

1904 [c.]
EP 2:322-4
‘Symbol’ (pub. 16.11.15-21:43). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Nov 16, 2015, 21:43 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Nov 16, 2015, 21:52 by Mats Bergman