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Passages from Peirce, chronologically ordered, on
ROLE OF ICONS IN PREDICATION

Compiled by Joseph Ransdell

Ver. 1 of 04-18-2005



NOTE

: The quotes from published resources have been checked, but not all of those from MS material have been verified for accuracy thus far and should be used with caution. The possibility of error should be taken for granted, in any case, and any found should be reported to me for correction here. Also, more passages will be added from time to time if there is occasion to do so.
      Emphasis is in the original and is shown here with underscore rather than italics since on-screen italics are sometimes difficult to discern.
      References to the Writings of Charles S. Peirce are shown by "W" followed by volume number, and page number in that volume: e.g. "W 2,323" means page 323 of volume 2 of the Writings. References to the Collected Papers of Charles S. Peirce are shown by "CP" followed by volume and paragraph (not page) number: e.g. "CP 5.435" would mean paragraph 435 of Volume 5 of the Collected Papers. MS numbers are based on the numbering in the Robin Catalog.


W 1, 172f   1865   MS 94 Harvard Lecture I

. . . we do not have to reflect upon the word as a sign but . . . it comes to affect the intellect as though it had that quality which it connotes. I call this the acquired nature of the word, because it is a power that the word comes to have, and because the word itself without any reflection of ours upon it brings the idea into our minds. . . . Now, I ask, how is it that anything can be done with a symbol, without reflecting upon the conception, much less imagining the object that belongs to it? It is simply because the symbol has acquired a nature, which may be described thus, that when it is brought before the mind certain principles of its use — whether reflected on or not — by association immediately regulate the action of the mind; and these may be regarded as laws of the symbol itself which it cannot as a symbol transgress.


W 1, 280  1865  MS 106 Harvard Lecture X

Inference in general obviously supposes symbolization; and all symbolization is inference. For every symbol as we have seen contains information. And in the last lecture we saw that all kinds of information involve inference. Inference, then, is symbolization. They are the same notions. Now we have already analyzed the notion of a symbol, and we have found that it depends upon the possibility of representations acquiring a nature, that is to say an immediate representative power. This principle is therefore the ground of inference in general.


W 1, 355   MS 115 Logic Chapter 1, Winter-Spring 1866

In the third case [that of the symbol], where the relation of the repraesentamen to its object is ideal, the ground of this relation is an attribute of the correlate attributed to the relate, and then the relate or repraesentamen represents the object or correlate on account of the quality attributed to it. This gives a general sign, a word or conception, for the repraesentamen will necessarily apply to everything which contains its attributed quality.


CP 1.558   1867  On a New List of Categories

A reference to a ground may also be such that it cannot be prescinded from a reference to an interpretant. In this case it may be termed an imputed quality. If the reference of a relate to its ground can be prescinded from reference to an interpretant, its relation to its correlate is a mere concurrence or community in the possession of a quality, and therefore the reference to a correlate can be prescinded from reference to an interpretant. It follows that there are three kinds of representations. . . .

. . . [The third kind are] those the ground of whose relation to their objects is an imputed character, which are the same as general signs, and these may be termed symbols.


CP 1.559   1867  On a New List of Categories

Logic treats of the reference of symbols in general to their objects. In this view it is one of a trivium of conceivable sciences. The first would treat of the formal conditions of symbols having meaning, that is of the reference of symbols in general to their grounds or imputed characters, and this might be called formal grammar; the second, logic, would treat of the formal conditions of the truth of symbols; and the third would treat of the force of symbols, or their power of appealing to a mind, that is, of their reference in general to interpretants, and this might be called formal rhetoric.

There would be a general division of symbols, common to all these sciences; namely, into,

1st: Symbols which directly determine only their grounds or imputed qualities; and are thus but sums of marks or terms.

2nd: Symbols which also independently determine their objects by means of other term or terms, and thus, expressing their own objective validity, become capable of truth or falsehood, that is, are propositions; and,

3rd: Symbols which also independently determine their interpretants, and thus the minds to which they appeal, by premising a proposition or propositions which such a mind is to admit. These are arguments.


CP 5.309   W 2,238   1868 Some Consequences of Four Incapacities

Everything has its subjective or emotional qualities, which are attributed either absolutely or relatively, or by conventional imputation to anything which is a sign of it. And so we reason,

The sign is such and such;
:. The sign is that thing.
This conclusion receiving, however, a modification, owing to other considerations, so as to become --
The sign is almost (is representative of) that thing.

W 2, 296  1869   Preliminary Sketch of Logic

A symbol is something to which a certain character is imputed, that is which stands for whatever object may have that character.


W 2, 439–440  1870   (Notes for Logic Lectures)

The next question is in what sense can two things as incommensurable as a meaning and a reality be said to agree.

The point of contact is the living mind which is affected in a similar way by real things and by their signs. And this is the only possible point of contact.

I say "a certain thing is blue." The image of blueness this excites in the mind is not a copy of any blueness in the sentence. Therefore, even if the sensation of blue be a copy of an external blue in the blue thing, there can be no other agreement between the sentence and the thing than that they convey the same notion to the mind.

The agreement between the meaning of a sign and a reality consists in the former's exciting the same notion in the mind that the reality does.

This is obviously much too vague and shows us the necessity of beginning with a systematic analysis of the conception of a sign.


W 3,64  1873  MS 212 On Representations

The representation not only has material qualities but it also imputes certain qualities to its object. These we may call its imputed qualities. For example the word `white' printed in a book is itself black so far as its own material qualities are concerned but its imputed quality is white.


CP 2.298, 299, 302   1893  MS "The Art of Reasoning"

Any ordinary word (e.g. "give," "bird," "marriage") is an example of a symbol. It is applicable to whatever may be found to realize the idea connected with the word. It does not, in itself, identify those things. It does not show us a bird, nor enact before our eyes a giving or a marriage, but supposes we are able to imagine those things [giving, bird, marriage] and have associated the word with them.

. . . The symbol is connected with its object by virtue of the idea of the symbol-using mind, without which no such connection would exist.   . . .

Symbols grow. They come into being by development out of other signs, particularly from icons or from mixed signs partaking of the nature of icons and symbols. We think only in signs. These mental signs are of mixed nature; the symbol-parts of them are called concepts. So it is only out of symbols that a new symbol can grow. Omne sumbolum de sumbolo. A symbol, once in being, spreads among the peoples. In use and in experience, its meaning grows, e.g. such words as force, law, wealth, marriage, bear for us very different meanings from those which they bore to our barbarous ancestors. The symbol may, with Emerson's sphynx, say to man

Of thine eye I am eyebeam.


CP 2.295   circa 1893   The Short Logic

A symbol is a sign naturally fit to declare that the set of objects which is denoted by whatever set of indices may be in certain ways attached to it is represented by an icon associated with it. To show what this complicated definition means, let us take as an example of a symbol the word "loveth". Associated with this word is an idea, which is the mental icon of one person loving another. Now we are to understand that "loveth" occurs in a sentence; for what it may mean by itself, if it means anything, is not the question. Let the sentence, then, be "Ezekiel loveth Huldah." Ezekiel and Huldah must, then, be or contain indices; for without indices it is impossible to designate what one is talking about. Any mere description would leave it uncertain whether they were not mere characters in a ballad; but whether they be so or not, indices can designate them. Now the effect of the word "loveth" is that the pair of objects denoted by the pair of indices Ezekiel and Huldah is represented by the icon, or the image we have in our minds of a lover and his beloved.


CP 2.435–441  circa 1893   The Short Logic

A judgment is an act of consciousness in which we recognize a belief, and a belief is an intelligent habit from which we shall act when occasion presents itself. Of what nature is that recognition? It may come very near action. The muscles may twitch and we may restrain ourselves only by considering that the proper occasion has not arisen. But, in general, we virtually resolve upon a certain occasion to act as if certain imagined circumstances were perceived. This act which amounts to such a resolve, is a peculiar act of the will whereby we cause an image, or icon, to be associated, in a peculiarly strenuous way, with an object represented to us by an index. This act itself is represented in the proposition by a symbol, and the consciousness of it fulfills the function of a symbol in the judgment. Suppose, for example, I detect a person with whom I have to deal in an act of dishonesty. I have in my mind something like a "composite photograph" of all the persons that I have known and read of that have had that character, and at the instant I make the discovery concerning that person, who is distinguished from others for me by certain indications, upon that index at that moment down goes the stamp of RASCAL, to remain indefinitely.

A proposition asserts something. That assertion is performed by the symbol which stands for the act of consciousness. That which accounts for assertion seeming so different from other sorts of signification is its volitional character.

Every assertion is an assertion that two different signs have the same object. If we ask why it should have that dual character, the answer is that volition involves an action and reaction. The consequences of this duality are found not only in the analysis of propositions, but also in their classification.

It is impossible to find a proposition so simple as not to have reference to two signs. Take, for instance, "it rains." Here the icon is the mental composite photograph of all the rainy days the thinker has experienced. The index, is all whereby he distinguishes that day, as it is placed in his experience. The symbol is the mental act whereby [he] stamps that day as rainy . . . .

It may be asked, why may not an assertion identify the objects of any two signs whatever, as two indices? Why should it be limited to declaring the object of an index to be represented by an icon? The answer is that an assertion may identify the objects of any two signs whatever; yet that in every case this will amount to declaring that an index, or set of indices, is represented by an icon. For instance, let the proposition be, that William Lamare, the author of the book Correctorium fratris Thomae is really the William Ware who was the teacher of Duns Scotus. Here the objects of two indices are identified. But this is logically equivalent to the assertion that the icon of identity, that is, the mental composite image of two aspects of one and the same thing, represents the objects of the set of indices William Mare and William Ware. We are not, indeed, absolutely forced to regard one of the signs as an icon in any case; but this is a very convenient way of taking account of certain properties of inferences. It happens, too, to have some secondary advantages, such as that of agreeing with our natural metaphysics, and with our feeling in regard to subject and predicate.

As the index may be complex, so also may the icon. For instance, taking the universal selective index, everything, we may have an icon which is composed alternatively of two, a sort of composite of two icons, in the same way that any image is a "composite photograph" of innumerable particulars. Even what is called an "instantaneous photograph," taken with a camera, is a composite of the effects of intervals of exposure more numerous by far than the sands of the sea. Take an absolute instant during the exposure and the composite represents this among other conditions. Now, the two alternative icons are combined like that. We have an icon of this alternation, a composite of all the alternative cases we have thought of. The symbol asserts that one or other of those icons represents the universally selected index. Let one of the alternative icons be the idea of what is not a man, the other the idea of what is mortal. Then, the proposition will be: "Take anything you please, and it will either not be a man or will be mortal." Two signs so conjoined are said to be aggregated, or disjunctively connected, or alternatively conjoined. Take another example. Let the index be particularly selective. Let an icon be so compounded of two icons that in each variation of it both those icons are conjoined. For instance, let one be an icon of a Chinese, the other of a woman. Then, the combined icon will be an icon of a Chinese woman. Thus, the proposition will be: "Something can be so selected as to be at once a Chinese and a woman." Two signs so conjoined are said to be combined, or conjunctively connected, or simultaneously conjoined. . . .


CP 2.341   circa 1895  MS on categorical and hypothetical propositions

Every symbol, as involving an assertion, or rudimentary assertion, is general, in the sense in which we speak of a general sign. That is, the predicate is general. Even when we say "Boz was Charles Dickens," what we mean is that "Boz was the same as Charles Dickens," and sameness is a general, even a hemilogical , relation. For a predicate is of an ideal nature, and as such cannot be a mere hecceity. In fact, in the proposition "Boz is Charles Dickens," the Subjects are Boz and Charles Dickens and the predicate is "identical with." On the other hand, every general sign, even a "term," involves, at least, a rudimentary assertion. For what is a "term", or "class-name", supposed to be? It is something which signifies, or, to use J. S. Millsí objectionable terminology, "connotes" certain characters, and thereby denotes whatever possesses those characters. That is, it draws the attention to an idea, or mental construction, or diagram, of something possessing those characters, and the possession of those characters is kept in the foreground of consciousness. What does that mean unless that the listener says to himself, "that which is here (before the attention) possesses such and such characters"? That may not be quite a proposition, or fully an assertion, because the object of attention being in this case nothing but a mental creation, the listener does not tell himself what it is that is "here." It is, at least, not an assertion about the real world. But none the less it contains the assertoric element, the mental copula. When a listener hears the term "light", he proceeds to create in his mind an image thereof, and goes through the very same process of thought which is attributed to the Elohim in the first chapter of Genesis. "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good," — that is, that the light was, in fact, what was intended to be created. It amounted to saying "that is light"! Until this process is performed, the name excites no meaning in the mind of the listener.


CP 2.278  circa 1895   MS on categorical and hypothetical propositions

The only way of directly communicating an idea is by means of an icon; and every indirect method of communicating an idea must depend for its establishment upon the use of an icon. Hence, every assertion must contain an icon or set of icons, or else must contain signs whose meaning is only explicable by icons. The idea which the set of icons (or the equivalent of a set of icons) contained in an assertion signifies may be termed the predicate of the assertion.


CP 3.433–435   1896   The Regenerated Logic (Review of Schröder vol 3)

. . . When an assertion is made, there really is some speaker, writer, or other signmaker who delivers it; and he supposes there is, or will be, some hearer, reader, or other interpreter who will receive it. It may be a stranger upon a different planet, an 'on later; or it may be that very same man as he will be a second after. In any case, the deliverer makes signals to the receiver. Some of these signs (or at least one of them) are supposed to excite in the mind of the receiver familiar images, pictures, or, we might almost say, dreams — that is, reminiscences of sights, sounds, feelings, tastes, smells, or other sensations, now quite detached from the original circumstances of their first occurrence, so that they are free to be attached to new occasions. The deliverer is able to call up these images at will (with more or less effort) in his own mind; and he supposes the receiver can do the same. For instance, tramps have the habit of carrying bits of chalk and making marks on the fences to indicate the habits of the people that live there for the benefit of other tramps who may come on later. If in this way a tramp leaves an assertion that the people are stingy, he supposes the reader of the signal will have met stingy people before, and will be able to call up an image of such a person attachable to a person whose acquaintance he has not yet made. Not only is the outward significant word or mark a sign, but the image which it is expected to excite in the mind of the receiver will likewise be a sign — a sign by resemblance, or, as we say, an icon — of the similar image in the mind of the deliverer, and through that also a sign of the real quality of the thing. This icon is called the predicate of the assertion. But instead of a single icon, or sign by resemblance of a familiar image or "dream," evocable at will, there may be a complexus of such icons, forming a composite image of which the whole is not familiar. But though the whole is not familiar, yet not only are the parts familiar images, but there will also be a familiar image of its mode of composition. In fact, two types of complication will be sufficient. For example, one may be conjunctive and the other disjunctive combination. Conjunctive combination is when two images are both to be used at once; and disjunctive when one or other is to be used. (This is not the most scientific selection of types; but it will answer the present purpose.) The sort of idea which an icon embodies, if it be such that it can convey any positive information, being applicable to some things but not to others, is called a first intention. The idea embodied by an icon which cannot of itself convey any information, being applicable to everything or to nothing, but which may, nevertheless, be useful in modifying other icons, is called a second intention.

The assertion which the deliverer seeks to convey to the mind of the receiver relates to some object or objects which have forced themselves upon his attention; and he will miss his mark altogether unless he can succeed in forcing those very same objects upon the attention of the receiver. No icon can accomplish this, because an icon does not relate to any particular thing; nor does its idea strenuously forced itself upon the mind, but often requjires an effort to call it up. Some such sign as the word this, or that, or hullo, or hi, which awakens and directs attention must be employed. A sign which denotes a thing by forcing it upon the attention is called an index. And index does not describe the qualities of its object. An object, in so far as it is denoted by an indexz having thisness, and distinguishing it from other things by its continuous identity and forcefulness, but not by any distinguishing characters, may be called a hecceity. A hecceity in its relation to the assertion is a subject thereof. An assertion may have a multitude of subjects; but to that we shall return presently.

Neither the predicate, nor the subjects, nor both together, can make an assertion. The assertion represents a compulsion which experience, meaning the course of life, brings upon the deliverer to attach the predicate to the subjects as a sign of them taken in a particular way. This compulsion strikes him at a certain instant; and he remains under it forever after. It is, therefore, different from the temporary force which the hecceities exert upon his attention. This new compulsion may pass out of mind for the time being; but it continues just the same, and will act whenever the occasion arises, that is, whenever those particular hecceities and that first intention are called to mind together. It is, therefore, a permanent conditional force, or law. The deliverer thus requires a kind of sign which shall signify a law that to objects of indices an icon appertains as sign of them in a given way. Such a sign has been called a symbol. It is the copula of the assertion.


CP 3.438  1896  The Regenerated Logic (Review of Schröder vol 3)

It will be observed that [the foregoing] explanation of logical certitude depends upon the fact of speculative grammar that the predicate of a proposition, being essentially of an ideal nature, can be called into the only kind of existence of which it is capable, at will.


CP 3.459–460   l897   The Logic of Relatives (On Schröder's vol 3)

A verb by itself signifies a mere dream, an imagination unattached to any particular occasion. It calls up in the mind an icon. A relative is just that, an icon, or image, without attachments to experience, without "a local habitation and a name," but with indications of the need of such attachments. . . .

. . . [The signification of a verb] is sometimes in my thought, sometimes in yours, and . . . has no other identity than the agreement between its several manifestations. This is what we call an abstraction or an idea.


MS 142.3–6   circa 1899-1900  Notes on Topical Geometry

A sign is a thing which is the representative, or deputy, of another thing for the purpose of affecting mind. Signs are of three kinds,

1st, the icon, which represents its object by virtue of a character which it would equally possess did the object and the interpreting mind not exist;

2nd, the index, which represents its object by virtue of a character which it would not possess did the object not exist, but which it would equally possess did the interpreting mind not operate;

3rd, the symbol, which represents its object by virtue of a character which is conferred upon it by an operation of the mind.

. . .

A symbol is a sign which represents an object by virtue of having a character imputed to it by an operation of the interpreting mind. Symbols are of three classes; terms, which call attention to things or quasi-things; propositions, which declare facts; and arguments, which profess to enlighten us as to the rational connections of facts or possible facts.

Let us begin by considering terms. If I hear the inhabitants of a newly discovered island called red, this word is not an icon. For it is neither a copy of anything nor does it act upon my mind by merely calling up a mental copy of anything. Nor is it an index; for it does not make me think that any men with which I am already acquainted are meant. But there surge up toward the surface of my consciousness memories of men I have seen who were called red. I think that something like these is meant, and reasoning by analogy I vaguely picture what the newly discovered men are like. That this is what happens is shown by the fact that if I were to ask for a red pencil, and I were to be given a pencil making a mark of the color of an Indian's skin, I should instantly exclaim "This pencil is not red but brown." It is not necessary for the present purpose that this account should be satisfactory to the psychologist. It is sufficient that every time I understand I term I should have virtually, and as far as the purpose of logic is concerned, to construct a conception by an operation of the mind, to impute to it a character which it probably does not possess in itself and which does not consist in its being connected with any object of my previous experience. But the term certainly approaches the icon in merely representing its object without supplying any information.


CP 7.203   1901  MS On the Logic of Drawing History from Ancient Documents

. . . I may be asked what I should say to the proposition that

The warranted genuine Snark has a taste
Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp;
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavor of Will-o-the-wisp.

I reply that it is not a metaphysical proposition, because it is no proposition at all, but only an imitation proposition. For a proposition is a sign separately indicating what it is a sign of; and analysis shows that this amounts to saying that it represents that an image is similar to something to which actual experience forces the attention. Consequently a proposition cannot predicate a character not capable of sensuous presentation; nor can it refer to anything with which experience does not connect us. A metaphysical proposition in Comte's sense would, therefore, be a grammatical arrangement of words simulating a proposition, but in fact, not a proposition, because destitute of meaning.


CP 2.360   1901   Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology

.

. . . It is a question under dispute today whether predication is the essential function of the proposition. Some maintain that the proposition "It rains" involves no predication. But if it is an assertion, it does not mean that it rains in fairyland, but the very act of saying anything with an appearance of seriously meaning it is an Index that forces the person addressed to look about to see what it is to which what is being said refers. The "rains" recalls to his mind an image of fine up-and-down lines over the field of view; and he looks sharply out of the window, fully understanding that that visible environment is indicated as the subject where the lines of falling drops will be seen. In like manner, there is a predication in a conditional or other hypothetical proposition, in the same sense that some recognized range of experience or thought is referred to.


MS 599  circa 1902   Reason's Rules

A proposition is not a single thing and cannot be properly said to have any existence. Its mode of being consists in its possibility. A proposition which might be expressed has all the being that belongs to propositions although nobody ever expresses it or thinks of it. It is the same proposition every time it is thought, spoken, or written, whether in English, German, Spanish, or Tagalog, or how. A proposition consists in a meaning, whether adopted or not, and however expressed. That meaning is the meaning of any sign which should signify that a certain iconic representation, or image, (or any equivalent of it), is a sign of something indicated by a certain indexical sign, or any equivalent thereof. A proposition never prescribes any particular mode of iconization, although the form of expression may suggest some mode. Every proposition is capable of expression either by means of a photograph, or composite photograph, with or without stereoscopic and cinetoscopic elaborations, together with some sign which shall show the connection of these images with the object of some index, or sign of experience forcing the attention or bringing some information or indicating some possible source of information, or else by means of some analogous icon appealing to other sense than that of sight, together with analogous forcible indications, and a sign connecting the icon with these indices. A proposition is the signification of a sign which represents that an icon is applicable to that which an index indicates.


CP 5.542   circa 1902   Reason's Rules

. . . A proposition, then, has one predicate and any number of subjects. The subjects are either names of objects well known to the utterer and to the interpreter of the proposition (otherwise he could not interpret it) or they are virtually almost directions how to proceed to gain acquaintance with what is referred to. Thus, in the sentence "Every man dies," "Every man" implies that the interpreter is at liberty to pick out a man and consider the proposition as applying to him. In the proposition "Anthony gave a ring to Cleopatra," if the interpreter asks, What ring? the answer is that the indefinite article shows that it is a ring which might have been pointed out to the interpreter if he had been on the spot; and that the proposition is only asserted of the suitably chosen ring. The predicate on the other hand is a word or phrase which will call up in the memory or imagination of the interpreter images of things such as he has seen or imagined and may see again. Thus, "gave" is the predicate of the last proposition; and it conveys its meaning because the interpreter has had many experiences in which gifts were made; and a sort of composite photograph of them appears in his imagination. I am told that "Saccharin is 500 times as sweet as cane-sugar." But I never heard of saccharin. On inquiry, I find it is the sulphimide of orthosulphobenzoic acid; that is, it is phthalimide in which one CO group is replaced by SO2. I can see on paper that there might be such a body. That it is "500 times sweeter than sugar" produces a rather confused idea of a very familiar general kind. What I am to expect is expressed by the predicate, while the subjects inform me on what occasion I am to expect it. Diogenes Laertius, Suidas, Plutarch, and an anonymous biographer tell us that Aristotle was unable to pronounce the letter R. I place Aristotle perfectly, of course. He is the author of works I often read and profoundly admire and whose fame far surpasses that of any other logician — The Prince of Philosophers. I have also met people who could not pronounce R; but in other respects they did not seem to be much like Aristotle — not even Dundreary. Should I meet him in the Elysian Fields, I shall know what to expect. That is an impossible supposition; but should I ever meet a great logician, spindle-shanked and pig-eyed, who cannot pronounce R, I shall be interested to see whether he has other characteristics of Aristotle.


CP 4.447   circa 1903   from an MS "Logical Tracts, No. 2

. . . A symbol is a representamen whose special significance or fitness to represent just what it does represent lies in nothing but the very fact of there being a habit, disposition, or other effective general rule that it will be so interpreted. Take, for example, the word "man." These three letters are not in the least like a man; nor is the sound with which they are associated. Neither is the word existentially connected with any man as an index. It cannot be so, since the word is not an existence at all. The word does not consist of three films of ink. If the word "man" occurs hundreds of times in a book of which myriads of copies are printed, all those millions of triplets of patches of ink are embodiments of one and the same word. I call each of those embodiments a replica of the symbol. This shows that the word is not a thing. What is its nature? It consists in the really working general rule that three such patches seen by a person who knows English will effect his conduct and thoughts according to a rule. Thus the mode of being of the symbol is different from that of the icon and from that of the index. An icon has such being as belongs to past experience. It exists only as an image in the mind. An index has the being of present experience. The being of a symbol consists in the real fact that something surely will be experienced if certain conditions be satisfied. Namely, it will influence the thought and conduct of its interpreter. Every word is a symbol. Every sentence is a symbol. Every book is a symbol. Every representamen depending upon conventions is a symbol. Just as a photograph is an index having an icon incorporated into it, that is, excited in the mind by its force, so a symbol may have an icon or an index incorporated into it, that is, the active law that it is may require its interpretation to involve the calling up of an image, or a composite photograph of many images of past experiences, as ordinary common nouns and verbs do; or it may require its interpretation to refer to the actual surrounding circumstances of the occasion of its embodiment, like such words as that, this, I, you, which, here, now, yonder, etc. Or it may be pure symbol, neither iconic nor indicative, like the words and, or, of, etc.


CP 2.261   1903   Syllabus

. . . A Rhematic Symbol or Symbolic Rheme [e.g., a common noun] is a sign connected with its Object by an association of general ideas in such a way that its Replica calls up an image in the mind which image, owing to certain habits or dispositions of that mind, tends to produce a general concept, and the Replica is interpreted as a Sign of an Object that is an instance of that concept. Thus, the Rhematic Symbol either is, or is very like, what the logicians call a General Term. The Rhematic Symbol, like any Symbol, is necessarily itself of the nature of a general type, and is thus a Legisign. Its Replica, however, is a Rhematic Indexical Sinsign of a peculiar kind, in that the image it suggests to the mind acts upon a Symbol already in that mind to give rise to a General Concept. In this it differs from other Rhematic Indexical Sinsigns, including those which are Replicas of Rhematic Indexical Legisigns. Thus, the demonstrative pronoun "that" is a Legisign, being a general type; but it is not a Symbol, since it does not signify a general concept. Its Replica draws attention to a single Object, and is a Rhematic Indexical Sinsign. A Replica of the word "camel" is likewise a Rhematic Indexical Sinsign, being really affected, through the knowledge of camels, common to the speaker and auditor, by the real camel it denotes, even if this one is not individually known to the auditor; and it is through such real connection that the word "camel" calls up the idea of a camel. The same thing is true of the word "phoenix." For although no phoenix really exists, real descriptions of the phoenix are well known to the speaker and his auditor; and thus the word is really affected by the Object denoted. But not only are the Replicas of Rhematic Symbols very different from ordinary Rhematic Indexical Sinsigns, but so likewise are Replicas of Rhematic Indexical Legisigns. For the thing denoted by "that" has not affected the replica of the word in any such direct and simple manner as that in which, for example, the ring of a telephone-bell is affected by the person at the other end who wants to make a communication. The Interpretant of the Rhematic Symbol often represents it as a Rhematic Indexical Legisign; at other times as an Iconic Legisign; and it does in a small measure partake of the nature of both.


CP 2.312   1903   Syllabus

[The Dicisign] must, in order to be understood, be considered as containing two parts. Of these, the one, which may be called the Subject, is or represents an Index of a Second existing independently of its being represented, while the other, which may be called the Predicate, is or represents an Icon of a Firstness [or quality or essence]. Second: These two parts must be represented as connected; and that in such a way that if the Dicisign has any Object, it [the Dicisign] must be an Index of a Secondness subsisting between the Real Object represented in one represented part of the Dicisign to be indicated and a Firstness represented in the other represented part of the Dicisign to be Iconized. [Bracketed phrases above are in the CP version, presumably provided by the editors on the basis of something in the MS text.]


CP 2.317   1903   Syllabus

Passing now to the consideration of the predicate, it is plain enough that the last proposition, or any at all like it, only conveys its signification by exciting in the mind some image or, as it were, a composite photograph of images, like the Firstness meant. This, however, does not squarely meet the question, which is not what our mental constitution causes to happen, but how the predicate represents the Firstness that it signifies.* The predicate is necessarily an Iconic Sumisign [Rheme] (which is not always true of the subject) and as such, as we should find by a full analysis of the Sumisign, essentially signifies what it does by representing itself to represent an Icon of it. Without an analysis of the Sumisign this point must remain a little obscure.
— — — — — — —
*Millís term connote is not very accurate. Connote properly means to denote along with in a secondary way. Thus "killer" connotes a living thing killed. When the scholastics said that an adjective connoted, they meant it connoted the abstraction named by the corresponding abstract noun. But the ordinary use of an adjective involves no reference to any abstraction. The word signify has been the regular technical term since the twelfth century, when John of Salisbury (Metalogicus, II,xx) spoke of "quod fere in omnium ore celebre est, aliud scilicet esse quod apellativa (i.e. adjectives) significant, et aliud esse quod nominant. Nominantur singularia (i.e. existent individual things and facts), sed universalia (i.e. Firstnesses) significantur." See my paper of Nov. 13, 1867, to which I might now add a multitude of instances in support of what is here said concerning connote and signify.


CP 2.317  1903   Syllabus

This definition of the Dicisign will naturally lead one to guess that a Sumisign [i.e. rheme] is any Representamen of which the Interpretant represents it as an Icon; and that the Argument or Suadisign is a Representamen of which the interpretant represents it as a Symbol.


MS 517  (Eisele IV, p. 238)  1904

A diagram is an icon or schematic image embodying the meaning of a general predicate; and from the observation of this icon we are supposed to construct a new general predicate.


MS 693b.100–102  1904   MS "Reason's Conscience, etc."

That which meaning prompts is the appearance of an image. An image may be regarded as a sign, but it carries no meaning. It simply exhibits itself and in doing that represents anything that it resembles . . . . This element of meaning is called signification. But many of our ideas, which considered in what they immediately exhibit are merely images, are in reality much more, because they are connected with other ideas by association, and either suggest or are suggested by those other ideas. If such suggestion fulfills certain conditions, chiefly that of invariable regularity, such ideas are signs of another kind. The images which they suggest are then called up by a habit which makes the general character of the suggested images the significations of the suggesting ideas while the ideas which suggest them, representing the regular occasions of their arising . . . will correspond to the second element of meaning, which is the designation or the intended application of a sign.


MS 280   circa 1905   The Basis of Pragmaticism

A [propositional symbol] consists of two parts, the predicate, which excites something like an image or dream in the mind of its interpreter, and the subject, or subjects, each of which serves to identify something which the predicate represents.


MS 293, pp. 11f   circa 1906   MS of Prolegomena to an Apology for Pragmaticism

. . . the Iconic Diagram and its Initial Symbolic Interpretant taken together constitute what we shall not too much wrench terms in calling a schema, which is on the one side an object capable of being observed while on the other side it is general.


MS 339.544  1906  Logic Notebook

The purpose of a Diagram is to represent certain relations in such a form that it can be transformed into another form representing other relations involved in those first represented and this transformed icon can be interpreted in a symbolic statement.

It is necessary that the Diagram should be an Icon in which the inferred relation should be perceived. And it is necessary that it should be insofar general that one sees that accompaniments are no part of the Object.

The Diagram is an Interpretant of a Symbol in which the signification of the Symbol becomes a part of the object of the Icon.

No other kind of sign can make a Truth evident for the evident is that which is presented in an image, leaving for the work of the understanding merely the Interpretation of the Image in a Symbol

The Dynamic Interpretant is the Action of transforming the Diagram

The Eventual Interpretant is that Symbol interpreting the transformed Diagram. Or is it the transformed Diagram? The latter is the Eventual Interpretant.


MS318 pp. 37–40   1907   MS Pragmatism

. . . the Immediate Object is not the Object Proper to which the collateral operation is directed, but is the consequent apprehension of the Real Object, or intelligential cause of the sign, which that collateral observation brings about. For example, suppose the sign to consist in some remark about "the Shakespearean diction." What is meant by this can only be known through collateral observation, which like all observation, must be exercised upon single experiences. But a generalization from such observations results in a sort of schema in the imagination which in the guise of a singular, really presents a general — a sort of imaginary presentment of Shakespearean diction that preserves in its entirety and undefaced the feelings that are excited in the naive reader by the diction of Shakespeare. This is an example of an Immediate Object; and it is evident that it may present a type, as in this very example, or a circumstance or thing thought as actual, or a possible array of qualities of feeling.


CP 6.338   1908   Some Amazing Mazes, fourth curiousity

All thinking is dialogic in form. Your self of one instant appeals to your deeper self for his assent. Consequently, all thinking is conducted in signs that are mainly of the same general structure as words; those which are not so, being of the nature of those signs of which we have need now and then in our converse with one another to eke out the defects of words, or symbols. These non-symbolic thought-signs are of two classes: first, pictures or diagrams or other images (I call them Icons) such as have to be used to explain the significations of words; and secondly, signs more or less analogous to symptoms (I call them Indices) of which the collateral observations, by which we know what a man is talking about, are examples. The Icons chiefly illustrate the significations of predicate-thoughts, the Indices the denotations of subject-thoughts. The substance of thoughts consists of these three species of ingredients.


CP 6.340   1908   Some Amazing Mazes, fourth curiousity

Aristotle . . . failed to strike the nail squarely on the head when he said that generals are known by reason and singulars by sense. General are predicates. Now while the structure, not only of predicates, but of all kinds of thought, is known by reason, that is, by symbols like words, the matter of predicates, simple predicates, is not known by reason, but by the senses and by other feelings.


CP 8.342   1908   (Letter to Welby)

The publishers of the Britannica have given an unequivocal earnest of their determination to make every edition of their encyclopaedia maintain its supereminence in employing editors who would enlist you for an epitome of your exploration of "significs." It greatly encourages me in my endeavours, since, as well as I can make out, what you call "significs" is equivalent to the study that I entitle logic. In my paper of 1867 May 14 (Proc. Am. Acad. of Arts & Sci., Vol. VII, p. 295) I said, "We come to this, that logic treats of the reference of symbols in general to their objects. In this view it is one of a trivium of conceivable sciences. The first would treat of the formal conditions of symbols having meaning, that is of the reference of symbols in general to their grounds, or imputed characters; and this might be called Formal Grammar [the grammatica speculativa of Duns]. The second, logic, would treat of the formal conditions of the truth of symbols. The third would treat of the formal conditions of the force of symbols, or their power of appealing to a mind, that is, of their reference in general to interpretants, and this might be called formal rhetoric." I should still opine that in the future there probably will be three such sciences. But I have learned that the only natural lines of demarcation between nearly related sciences are the divisions between the social groups of devotees of those sciences; and for the present the cenoscopic studies (i.e., those studies which do not depend upon new special observations) of all signs remain one undivided science, — a conclusion I had come to before I made your acquaintance, but which the warm interest that you and I have in each other's researches in spite of the difference in their lines, decidedly confirms.


CP 8.314   1909  Letter ot 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. Lady Welby has got hold of the same real distinction in her "Sense, Meaning, Significance," but conceives it as imperfectly as I do, but imperfectly in other ways. Her Sense is the Impression made or normally to be made. Her meaning is what is intended, its purpose. Her Significance is the real upshot.


MS 670.33–34   1911   MS Assurance Through Reasoning

A sign, then, is anything whatsoever — whether an Actual or a May-be or a would be --which affects a mind, its Interpreter, and draws that interpreter's attention to some Object (whether Actual, May-be, or would-be) which has already come within the sphere of his experience; and besides this purely selective action of a sign, it has a power of exciting the mind (whether directly, by the image or sound[,] or indirectly) to some kind of feeling, or to effort of some kind or to thought; and so far as it has any such effect qua sign — for besides being a sign, it may also be a music — but so far as it excites feeling, will, or thought in the mind of the Interpreter with its Object as due to it, as the interpretation of it. The writer is not altogether satisfied with this attempt to analyze the nature of a sign; but he believes that the sign calls up its Object or Objects, for there may be several, and besides that excites the mind as if it were the Object that has that effect. If a person reads an item of news in a newspaper, its first effect on his mind will probably be to cause something that may conveniently be called an "image" of the object, without any judgment as to its reality.

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