The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Pragmatism’


[The energetic interpretant] never can be the meaning of an intellectual concept, since it is a single act, [while] such a concept is of a general nature. But what further kind of effect can there be?

In advance of ascertaining the nature of this effect, it will be convenient to adopt a designation for it, and I will call it the logical interpretant, without as yet determining whether this term shall extend to anything beside the meaning of a general concept, though certainly closely related to that, or not. Shall we say that this effect may be a thought, that is to say, a mental sign? No doubt, it may be so; only, if this sign be of an intellectual kind - as it would have to be - it must itself have a logical interpretant; so that it cannot be the ultimate logical interpretant of the concept. It can be proved that the only mental effect that can be so produced and that is not a sign but is of a general application is a habit-change; meaning by a habit-change a modification of a person’s tendencies toward action, resulting from previous experiences or from previous exertions of his will or acts, or from a complexus of both kinds of cause. It excludes natural dispositions, as the term “habit” does, when it is accurately used; but it includes beside associations, what may be called “transsociations,” or alterations of association, and even includes dissociation, which has usually been looked upon by psychologists (I believe mistakenly), as of deeply contrary nature to association.

CP 5.475
‘Logical Interpretant’ (pub. 15.08.13-18:29). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Aug 15, 2013, 18:29 by Sami Paavola
Last revised: 
Oct 15, 2015, 11:12 by Mats Bergman