The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Pragmatism’


…many signs bring about actual events. The infantry officer’s word of command “Ground arms!” produces as its existential interpretant, (the sign having first been apprehended in an “emotional interpretant,”) the slamming down of the musket-butts. The less thought intervenes between the apprehension and this act, the better the sign fulfills its function. All signs that are not to evaporate in mere feelings must have such an existential interpretant, or as I might better have called it, such an energetic interpretant. [—] The existential, or energetic, interpretant […] corresponds to the real object whose action is obscurely […] the active cause of the sign.

MS [R] 318:16-7
‘Energetic Interpretant’ (pub. 15.10.15-11:02). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
Oct 15, 2015, 11:02 by Mats Bergman
Last revised: 
Oct 15, 2015, 11:03 by Mats Bergman