The object of reasoning is to find out …

No longer wondered what I would do in life but defined my object.
— C.S. Peirce (1861), “My Life, written for the Class-Book”, (CE 1, 3)

The object of reasoning is to find out, from the consideration of what we already know, something else which we do not know.
— C.S. Peirce (1877), “The Fixation of Belief”, (CP 5.365)

If the object of an investigation is to find out something we do not know then the clues we discover along the way are the signs that determine that object.

People will continue to be confused about determination so long as they can think of no other forms of it but the analytic-behaviorist-causal-dyadic-temporal, object-as-stimulus and sign-as-response variety.  It is true that ordinary language biases us toward billiard-ball styles of dyadic determination, but there are triadic forms of constraint, determination, and interaction that are not captured by S-R chains of that order.  A pragmatic-semiotic object is anything we talk or think about, and semiosis does not conduct its transactions within the bounds of object as cue, sign as cue ball, and interpretants as solids, stripes, or pockets.


  • Peirce, C.S. (1859–1861), “My Life, written for the Class-Book”, pp. 1–3 in Writings of Charles S. Peirce : A Chronological Edition, Volume 1, 1857–1866, Peirce Edition Project, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 1982.
  • Peirce, C.S. (1877), “The Fixation Of Belief”, Popular Science Monthly 12 (Nov 1877), pp. 1–15.  Reprinted in Collected Papers, CP 5.358–387.  Online.
This entry was posted in C.S. Peirce, Determination, Discovery, Dyadic Relations, Fixation of Belief, Inference, Information, Inquiry, Intentional Objects, Intentionality, Logic, Logic of Science, Objects Objectives Objectivity, Peirce, Philosophy, Pragmata, Pragmatism, Scientific Inquiry, Semeiosis, Semiotics, Sign Relations, Triadic Relations, Triadicity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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