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On C. S.

Peirces The Law of Mind (1892)


Author: asonosakan
Twitter: @asonosakan e-mail: asonosakan@gmail.com
The following is a draft of a presentation that I gave at a seminar on Peirces The Law of
Mind.
W8 refers to vol. 8 of the Writings of Charles S. Peirce: A Chronological Edition; CP
followed by volume number and paragraph number refers to the Collected Papers of
Charles Sander Peirce; RLT refers to Reasoning and the Logic of Things. All other page
numbers refer to The Essential Peirce vol. 1.
1.
Peirces third paper in the Monist Metaphysical Series develops his synechism, the
tendency to regard continuity as an idea of prime importance in philosophy (p.313). His
purpose in this paper is to show what continuity is, and demonstrate the importance of the
concept by applying it towards elucidating the law of mental phenomena. He will argue that
there is but one such law, for any regularity in the action of mind can be reduced to this
general law.
What we must bear in mind throughout the paper is that Peirce is not dealing only with the
human mind. The law of mind applies to the action of ideas in general, and it is a
consequence of Peirces realism that ideas are not simply in a persons head, but have an
impersonal reality. This assumption is reinforced by the law itself, for the continuity of
ideas requires that ideas can be affected only by other ideas, and hence the external thing
which stimulates the nervous system and brings about an idea must itself be of the nature
of an idea: The principle with which I set out requires me to maintain that these feelings
are communicated to the nerves by continuity, so that there must be something like them
in the excitants themselves (p.332). Otherwise there would be a discontinuity in the
process of perception, rendering extra-mental things incognizable. And this would be
inimical to logic.
As I just noted Peirce defines synechism as the tendency to regard continuity as an idea
of prime importance in philosophy. But I think Peirce gives a better definition in his 1902
entry for the Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, Vol. II: Synechism is not an ultimate
and absolute metaphysical doctrine; it is a regulative principle of logic, prescribing what
sort of hypothesis is fit to be entertained and examined (CP 6.173). In other words it is a
heuristic hypothesis without which inquiry would be in a state of stagnation, or perhaps
even impossible. Recall the first section of The Doctrine of Chances. There he says that a
science begins to be exact when it is quantitatively treated. But it is not so much from
counting as from measuring, not so much from the conception of number as from that of
continuous quantity, that the advantage of mathematical treatment comes (p.143). We
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find particular objects whose characters are unlike. But if we regard those objects as
detached things, with no inherent relation between them, our knowledge stops there. It is
by assuming that there is a real continuity, some kind of hidden relationship, even between
two things that appear to be completely distinct, that our knowledge is able to grow. Who
could have guessed that the tides are caused by the moons gravity? Or that homo sapiens
evolved from chimpanzees? The assumption that the universe is inherently continuous,
that everything can and should become welded together, allows us to build general
concepts that embrace individual cases which were hitherto thought to be detached. So far
we have been speaking of continuity in an intuitive manner. What is continuity? The first
part of this paper will be devoted to this question. But before that we must turn to Peirces
analysis of ideas.
2.
Peirce states the Law of Mind thus: Logical analysis applied to mental phenomena shows
that there is but one law of mind, namely, that ideas tend to spread continuously and to
affect certain others which stand to them in a peculiar relation of affectibility. In this
spreading they lose intensity, and especially the power of affecting others, but gain
generality and become welded with other ideas (p.313). The meaning of this statement
will become clearer as the discussion proceeds.
3.
First Peirce takes up the idea that ideas are individual things or events. An individual idea
is such that has no inherent relation with any other idea, but only an extrinsic relation. But
we habitually compare two ideas, saying that A and B are similar or different. How could
this be possible? This would be possible, Peirce says, only if an occult power from the
depths of the soul forces us to connect them in our thoughts after they are both no more
(p.314). He continues: But what can it mean to say that ideas wholly past are thought of at
all, any longer? They are utterly unknowable. What distinct meaning can attach to saying
that an idea in the past in any way affects an idea in the future, from which it is completely
detached? A phrase between the assertion and the denial of which there can in no case be
any sensible difference is mere gibberish (p.314). Here we can see Peirces principle of
pragmatism at work. The supposition that ideas are individual things or events thus gives
rise to difficulties analogous to the difficulties of nominalism.
4.
Next Peirce turns to the position that ideas form a continuum. He concludes that the only
possible answer, from a logical standpoint, is that ideas are present to the mind in an
infinitesimal duration: How can a past idea be present? Not vicariously. Then, only by
direct perception. In other words, to be present, it must be ipso facto present. That is, it
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cannot be wholly past; it can only be going, infinitesimally past, less past than any
assignable past date. We are thus brought to the conclusion that the present is connected
with the past by a series of real infinitesimal steps (p.314). Now, the notion of an
infinitesimal interval of time may, at first blush, have an air of self-contradiction. How can
there be an amount smaller than any finite amount yet not zero? But mathematical analysis
shows that there is no inconsistency involved in the notion of an infinitesimal. In the early
1960s, the mathematician Abraham Robinson proposed a theory of analysis built upon the
concept of an infinitesimal quantity. This field is today known as non-standard analysis.
Although the assumptions of non-standard analysis are different from those of Peirce,
particularly from Peirces insistence in his later years that the continuum is not a collection
of points, it is a demonstration that the infinitesimal can be treated in a rigorous manner.
Consider another example. Leibniz, the co-founder of calculus along with Newton, believed
in the reality of infinitesimals. He expressed infinitesimals using the notation dx, which you
probably are familiar with. Mathematicians today use dx only as a part of a ratio, such as
dy/dx, or in conjunction with the integral, and never by itself. This is due to the practice of
avoiding the introduction of infinitesimals, using a method known as the epsilon-delta
definition of limits. However, physicists, who are not concerned with the conceptual
foundations of mathematics, freely use dx to signify a non-zero quantity smaller than any
measurable amount. Isnt this analogous to the situation of imaginary numbers? It is an
interesting historical fact that Descartes rejected imaginary numbers because they were
not clearly and distinctly perceived. But they proved indispensable in solving higher order
equations, and were also extremely useful in mechanics, electrodynamics, statistics, etc.
Likewise, although we may be unable to clearly and distinctly perceive infinitesimal
quantities, that is no reason at all to reject their reality. On the contrary, they may prove
fruitful or even indispensable in the explication of certain phenomena. In this paper Peirce
will show that they are indispensable in the analysis of ideas.
5.
The following section is devoted to a mathematical examination of continuity. Now in order
to understand what a continuum is, it is first necessary to understand what an infinitesimal
quantity is. And in order to understand what an infinitesimal quantity is, one must first
understand what an infinite quantity is.
This section draws heavily on Cantors theory of transfinite numbers. I wont go through all
the mathematical details, since they are pretty much standard in the literature today. An
excellent introduction to Cantors theory is Chapter 1 of Stephen Cole Kleenes Introduction
to Metamathematics, although it does not deal with ordinal numbers. It is a consequence of
this theory that there are at least two grades of infinity, the numerable (or in Peirces
terminology, endless) and innumerable. (Actually, there an infinite number of grades of
infinity, as hinted by Peirce on p.319, although it is false that the set of points in an 03

dimensional Euclidean space does not have the same cardinality as the set of real numbers).
The numerable infinite is discretely infinite, since it is possible to put its members into oneto-one correspondence with the natural numbers. So it is only natural to call the set of
innumerable numbers continuously infinite. Indeed, Cantor identifies the continuum with
the set of real numbers, the first innumerable multitude. However, it should be noted that
Peirce later criticizes this identification, calling Cantors continuum a pseudo-continuum.
But at this point Peirce seems to accept Cantors identification of the continuum with the
set of real numbers, criticizing only his method of constructing this set, namely via the
conditions of concatenation and perfectness. Regarding Peirces alternative attempt to
define continuity via the properties of Kanticity and Aristotlecity, I have given an
explanation in the rsum that I have distributed (see Appendix).
We are thus in a position to understand what an infinitesimal is: Every number whose
expression in decimals requires but a finite number of places of decimals is
commensurable. Therefore, incommensurable numbers suppose an infinitieth place of
decimals. The word infinitesimal is simply the Latin form of infinitieth; that is, it is an
ordinal formed from infinitum, as centesimal from centum (p.322). And since the
continuously infinite multitude is a collection of incommensurable as well as
commensurable numbers, it follows that continuity supposes infinitesimal quantities
(p.322)
The section concludes with a consideration of the philosophical implications of the account
of continuity just given: Suppose a surface to be part red and part blue; so that every point
on it is either red or blue, and, of course, no part can be both red and blue. What, then, is the
color of the boundary line between the red and the blue? The answer is that red or blue, to
exist at all, must be spread over a surface; and the color of the surface is the color of the
surface in the immediate neighborhood of the point. I purposely use a vague form of
expression. Now, as the parts of the surface in the immediate neighborhood of any ordinary
point upon a curved boundary are half of them red and half blue, it follows that the
boundary is half red and half blue (p.322). Again, this statement has an air of counterintuitiveness to it. The reason is most likely because it violates the Law of Excluded Middle,
the principle that for any proposition P, either P or not P must be true. But here Peirce says
that the boundary line is neither red, nor not red, but a third middle state. Indeed, Peirce
will later argue that the Law of Excluded Middle does not hold on a continuum. In a note in
1903 he writes:
Now if we are to accept the common sense idea of continuity (after correcting its
vagueness and fixing it to mean something) we must either say that a continuous line
contains no points or we must say that the principle of excluded middle does not hold of
these points. The principle of excluded middle only applies to an individual (for it is not
true that "Any man is wise" nor that "Any man is not wise"). But places, being mere
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possibles without actual existence, are not individuals. Hence a point or indivisible place
really does not exist unless there actually be something there to mark it, which, if there is,
interrupts the continuity. (CP 6.168)
But in 1892, Peirce is still conceiving of continua as collections of points, giving his claim,
that the boundary is half red and half blue, an air of implausibility. In hindsight, we can say
that at this stage he is still feeling his way.
6.
In the next section Peirce briefly deals with the idea of time. He argues that it follows from
the law of mind that time is irreversible, that it has a definite direction of flow from past to
future. That is, if we denote the relation of affectability by the binary relation R, then R
must be an asymmetrical and transitive relation. This is pretty straightforward, but what
we should take notice of are Peirces underlying assumptions. First, he is assuming that
time is not some kind of substantive entity, independent of the flow of ideas. Rather, he
follows Kant in regarding time as a pure form, albeit not of intuition but of the process of
logical inference, as we shall see later. Second, he is assuming that the metric of time is not
fundamental. It is the order of ideas that define the flow of time; and at this level there is no
notion of distance that can be defined on the series. Metrical time is only a conception
introduced by the mind so that it may reduce the complexity of phenomena to a certain
order. Here we can see the rationale for Peirces criticism of Cantors definition of the
continuum as being based on metrical considerations.
7.
Next Peirce argues that the continuity of time implies the continuity of changeable qualities,
time being the universal form of all change. He suggests that the feelings we now have may
originally have been part of a continuum of feelings, although now they have become
disconnected and disparate. I will quote a passage from Peirces eighth lecture of the 1898
Cambridge Conferences Lectures, which illustrates this point beautifully:
It must be by a contraction of the vagueness of that potentiality of everything in general,
but of nothing in particular, that the world of forms comes about. We can hardly but
suppose that those sense-qualities that we now experience, colors, odors, sounds, feelings
of every description, loves, griefs, surprise, are but the relics of an ancient ruined
continuum of qualities, like a few columns standing here and there in testimony that here
some old-world forum with its basilica and temples had once made a magnificent ensemble.
And just as that forum, before it was actually built, had had a vague under-existence in the
mind of him who planned its construction, so too the cosmos of sense-qualities, which I
would have you suppose in some early stage of being was as real as your personal life is

this minute, had in an antecedent stage of development a vaguer being, before the relations
of its dimensions became definite and contracted. (RLT pp.258-259)
He continues:
Yet we must not assume that the qualities arose separate and came into relation afterward.
It was just the reverse. The general indefinite potentiality became limited and
heterogeneous. Those who express the idea to themselves by saying that the Divine Creator
determined so and so may be incautiously clothing the idea in a garb that is open to
criticism, but it is, after all, substantially the only philosophical answer to the problem.
Namely, they represent the ideas as springing into a preliminary stage of being by their
own inherent firstness. But so springing up, they do not spring up isolated; for if they did,
nothing could unite them. (RLT p.259)
Let me repeat the last sentence: They do not spring up isolated; for if they did, nothing
could unite themhere we see the logic of continuity at work. No extrinsic force can bring
into relation two elements that are completely detached. An extrinsic force, by an act of
determination, can only separate. Thus there must be an intrinsic relation between all
elements capable of being related. It follows that when any particular kind of feeling is
present, an infinitesimal continuum of all feelings differing infinitesimally from that is
present (p.324).
8.
I will have to do injustice to Peirce and skip the section on the spatial extension of feelings.
The section that follows develops the second part of Peirces law of mind, namely that as
ideas spread, they lose intensity, and especially the power of affecting others, but gain
generality and become welded with other ideas. He distinguishes three elements that
constitute an idea: first, its intrinsic quality as a feeling; second, the energy with which it
affects other ideas; and third, the tendency of an idea to bring along other ideas with it.
That the intrinsic quality of a feeling can be distinguished from its intensity is clear from
the fact that the same feeling will have a different force on the mind depending on the
situation. The sound of a pin dropping will solicit attention in a silent room, but not at a
party.
Peirce gives the example of his memory of the color of the cardinals robe to demonstrate
that the second element, the intensity of the feeling, dims over time, while its tendency to
bring along other feelings strengthens. The intrinsic quality has changed little. Now the
tendency to bring along other ideas is none other than the tendency towards
generalization: A finite interval of time generally contains an innumerable series of
feelings; and when these become welded together in association the result is a general idea
(p.325) The idea is general because it calls up so many others, and asserts itself so feebly,
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that the mind is no longer able to isolate it. Peirce discusses three characters of general
ideas, but here I want to take up his third point:
The insistency of a past idea with reference to the present is a quantity which is less, the
further back that past idea is, and rises to infinity as the past idea is brought up into
coincidence with the present. Here we must make one of those inductive applications of the
law of continuity which have produced such great results in all of the positive sciences. We
must extend the law of insistency into the future. Plainly, the insistency of a future idea
with reference to the present is a quantity affected by the minus sign; for it is the present
that affects the future, if there be any effect, not the future that affects the present.
Accordingly, the curve of insistency is a sort of equilateral hyporbola (p.326)
And he draws a diagram of an equilateral hyperbola.
Now consider the induction which we have here been led into. This curve says that feeling
which has not yet emerged into immediate consciousness is already affectible and already
affected. In fact, this is habit, by virtue of which an idea is brought up into present
consciousness by a bond that had already been established between it, and another idea
while it was still in futuro (p.326)
The implication of this statement is that future ideas, ideas which have not yet emerged
into consciousness, although not actual, are nonetheless real, insofar as they possess a real
tendency towards actualization. Recall Peirces discussion of the realism of Duns Scotus in
his review of Frasers The Works of George Berkeley: There are two ways in which a thing
may be in the mind, habitualiter and actualiter. A notion is in the mind actualiter when it
is actually conceived; it is in the mind habitualiter when it can directly produce a
conception (p.92). An idea does not have to be in the mind actualiter in order to be real.
On the contrary, if the existence of universal were dependent upon what we happened to
be thinking, science would not relate to anything real (p.92). An idea can be real only if it
is in the mind habitualiter. Conversely, if an idea is in the mind habitualiter then it must be
real, for otherwise nothing in the mind would be real. Thus the continuity of ideas, which
implies the reality of habits, further implies the reality of universals. Here we can see the
intimate connection between synechism and realism.
Next Peirce says something that the reader is not prepared for: We can now see what the
affection of one idea by another consists in. It is that the affected idea is attached as a
logical predicate to the affecting idea as subject (p.326). But what is a subject with a
logical predicate attached to it? It is a proposition. Here Peirce is assuming the theory set
forth in his On a New List of Categories, that the function of an idea is to reduce a
manifold of impressions to the unity of a proposition. The affection of ideas thus consists in
the continuous formation of propositions, which of course do not have to be formulated in
words. But these propositions do not simply arise in an absolutely arbitrary manner,
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though they cannot be subject to necessary law either. They must follow the forms of
logical inference. This is why Peirce discusses the three forms of inference, Deduction,
Induction, and Hypothesis in the section following the next.
9.
However due to time restrictions I have to skip this and the other sections, and jump to the
section on Personality. What can the doctrine of synechism say about personality? Firstly,
observations of double and multiple personality show that personality is some kind of
coordination or connection of ideas (p.331). But according to the law of mind, a
connection between ideas is itself a general idea. And just as a general idea is not
something that can be apprehended in an instant, so a personality has to be lived in time.
He continues:
But the word coordination implies somewhat more than this; it implies a teleological
harmony in ideas, and in the case of personality this teleology is more than a mere
purposive pursuit of a predeterminate end; it is a developmental teleology. This is personal
character. A general idea, living and conscious now, it is already determinative of acts in the
future to an extent to which it is not now conscious. This reference to the future is an
essential element of personality. Were the ends of a person already explicit, there would be
no room for development, for growth, for life; and consequently there would be no
personality. The mere carrying out of predetermined purposes is mechanical. This remark
has an application to the philosophy of religion. It is that a genuine evolutionary philosophy,
that is, one that makes the principle of growth a primordial element of the universe, is so
far from being antagonistic to the idea of a personal creator, that it is really inseparable
from that idea; while a necessitarian religion is in an altogether false position and is
destined to become disintegrated. But a pseudo-evolutionism which enthrones mechanical
law above the principle of growth, is at once scientifically unsatisfactory, as giving no
possible hint of how the universe has come about, and hostile to all hopes of personal
relations to God (p.331).
Those with materialist inclinations, the self-avowed scientific menI mean the kind of
men who delight in reading books by Richard Dawkinswill probably be shocked at this
kind of statement. But we have probably left that kind of reader behind long ago. Here I
would like to quote the opening paragraph of an early version of The Law of Mind, which
throws some light on Peirces motivation behind this article. This early draft is included in
vol. 8 of the Chronological Edition:
I propose next to show, by the study of the soul, that, if my previous conclusions are
accepted, we shall be naturally led to the belief that the universe is governed by a father,
with whom we can be in real relations of communion, and who may be expected to listen to
prayer, and answer it. In short, necessitarianism once out of the way, which puts nature
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under the rule of blind and inexorable law, that leaves no room for any other influence, we
find no other serious objection to a return to the principle of Christianity (W8, p.126)
But the question arises: is this really the God of Christianity? Synechism requires that God
be continuous with the universe, whether He be outside of it, inside of it, or identical with it.
It cannot be transcendent, in the sense of being utterly detached from created beings. Now
God cannot be inside of the universe, since that would imply that the universe as a whole is
greater than God. Nor can He be outside, since then the question would arise as to how
there could be any relation between Him and us. To say that God is outside of the universe
is only another way of saying that He is transcendent. Thus the only option is to say that
God is identical to the universe as a whole.
Insofar as we are a part of the universe, it is more precise to say that the universe is
thinking through us, rather than that we are thinking. Indeed, we should say that the
universe evolves by deducting, inducting, and abducting itself. Now given that there is a
tendency for thought to converge towards a final state, that is, given that the development
of the universe is not blind but directed by a purpose, it follows that the universe itself is a
sort of Person. Et hoc dicimus Deum. Whether this is the God of Christianity I leave to the
decision of the reader.
There is one last point I want to take up, and this is in the section on Communication. There
he says that since an idea can be affected only by another idea in continuous connection
with it, we must suppose that matter is not completely dead, but is merely mind hidebound with habits (p.330). The reasoning here is that which I quoted at the outset, that
since feelings are communicated to the nerves by continuity, there must be something like
them in the excitants themselves. This is Peirces famous enunciation of the doctrine which
he calls objective idealism: The one intelligible theory of the universe is that of objective
idealism, that matter is effete mind, inveterate habits becoming physical laws (p.293).
Mind is the primordial stuff of the universe; matter is derived and special. Thus the law of
mind developed in this paper is the most fundamental law of the universeor at least a
broad outline of what the fundamental law should look like, physical laws being special
manifestations of this fundamental law. Or perhaps we should say that the law of mind is a
sort of meta-law that governs the evolution of all other laws. How the known physical laws
evolved under this general law is a question which it is the task of the coming generation of
inquirers to answer.

Appendix

Syllogism of Transposed Quantity (pp.316-317)


Let x, y, and z be members of a set S, and let R be a binary relation defined on S. The
syllogism of transposed quantity can then expressed by the following inference:
Premise (i): for every x there exists a y such that R(x, y).
Premise (ii): for every x, every y, and every z, if R(x, y) and R(z, y), then x = z.
Conclusion: for every y there exists an x such that R(x, y). Or equivalently, for every x there
exists a y such that R(y, x).
x and y have thus been transposed. This inference is valid if and only if S is a finite set.
Peirces example in the text, that of the Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, involves two sets
instead of one, and so requires the additional premise that the two sets are equivalent (i.e.
have the same cardinality). The example of the insurance company can likewise be
understood as involving two sets whose members are a unit of money, one representing
the amount paid by the company and one representing the amount received. Peirces
example in The Law of Mind [Excursus on the Idea of Time] (W8, p.133), although
politically incorrect, is a better example of the syllogism since it only involves one set:
Every Hottentot kills a Hottentot; No Hottentot is killed by more than one person: Hence,
every Hottentot is killed by a Hottentot.
As a special case of the syllogism of transposed quantity, let R be a function f(x) = y from S
onto itself. Then premise (ii) says that f is a one-to-one (injective) mapping, since x1x2y
[[f(x1) = y f(x2) = y] x1 = x2] is equivalent to x1x2 [f(x1) = f(x2) x1 = x2]. The
conclusion says that every member of S is the image of f under some member of S, which is
equivalent to saying that no one-to-one function can map S onto a proper subset of S. Again,
this proposition holds if and only if S is a finite set. This is the standard definition of
finitude used today, due to Richard Dedekind, and is thus called Dedekind-finitude. Peirces
characterization of finitude in terms of the applicability of the syllogism of transposed
quantity can be understood as a generalized form of Dedekind-finitude.

Fermatian Inference (pp.317-318)


Fermatian Inference, or mathematical induction, is an inference whereby a predicate P(n)
is proved to hold for every n of a set S, where n is a natural number or corresponds to a
natural number. The inference proceeds by proving the following two propositions:
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(i) P(1) holds


(ii) for every n, if P(n) then P(n + 1)
The conclusion thus follows that P(n) holds for every n. This inference is valid if and only if
the members of S can be numbered so that to every member is assigned a definite natural
number (Peirce says integral number); i.e. there exists a one-to-one mapping from S to
the set of natural numbers . Finitude and enumerability are thus each characterized by
the applicability of a certain inference: finitude by the syllogism of transposed quantity, and
enumerability by Fermatian Inference.

Cantors Definition of Continuity (p.320)


concatenated
A property of a sequence S such that for every t S, every t S, and every > 0, there
exists a finite number of ts of S, t1, t2, , tn (ti S; i, n ), such that | t1 t | < , | t2 t1 | <
, , | t tn | < .
perfect
A property of a sequence S such that it contains every element t such that for every > 0,
there exist an infinite number of points within distance of t; i.e., there exists an infinite
sub-sequence S S such that for every ti S, | t ti | < .
Cantor defines a continuous series as one that is both concatenated and perfect. One
problem with this definition, according to Peirce, is that it turns upon metrical
considerations; while the distinction between a continuous and discontinuous series is
manifestly non-metrical (p.320). That is, it assumes that a distance metric is defined on
the series, whereas it is possible for a series to be continuous without having such a metric.
Another problem is that Cantors definition of a perfect series involves reference to
every point of a certain description. But no positive idea is conveyed of what all the
points are: that is definition by negation, and cannot be admitted (p.320). By definition by
negation, Peirce means that Cantor defines a perfect series by excluding those points
which do not meet the characterization, without giving a positive idea of what the points
that are not excluded are.

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Aristotlecity (p.321)
Kants definition expresses one simple property of a continuum; but it allows of gaps in
the series. To mend the definition, it is only necessary to notice how these gaps can occur.
Let us suppose, then, a linear series of points extending from a point, A, to a point, B, having
a gap from B to a third point, C, and thence extending to a final limit, D; and let us suppose
this series conforms to Kants definition. Then, of the two points, B and C, one or both must
be excluded from the series; for otherwise, by the definition, there would be points
between them. That is, if the series contains C, though it contains all the points up to B, it
cannot contain B. What is required, therefore, is to state in non-metrical terms that if a
series of points up to a limit is included in a continuum the limit is included. (p.321)
The structure of this argument can be rendered thus: if there is a gap in a sequence S, then
there is at least one sub-sequence of S which does not contain its limit (i.e., least upper
bound or greatest lower bound). The problem with Kants definition of continuity is that it
is consistent with the existence of such gaps. Therefore, in order to mend this definition, we
take the contrapositive of the aforementioned conditional, viz. if every sub-sequence of S
contains its limit (i.e., least upper bound or greatest lower bound), then sequence S does
not have any gaps. Peirce calls the property stated in the antecedent of this conditional
Aristotlecity. By combining Kants definition with Aristotlecity, we get an adequate
definition of continuity. Note that Aristotlecity alone is not sufficient to define a continuum,
since e.g. the sequence of integral numbers satisfies the condition although it is manifestly
not continuous. Peirces definition of continuity is equivalent to Dedekinds construction of
the real numbers by Dedekind cuts on the sequence of rational numbers.

References

Peirce, Charles S. 1992. Reasoning and the Logic of Things: The Cambridge Conferences
Lectures of 1898, eds. Kenneth Laine Ketner & Hilary Putnam. Cambridge: Harvard
University Press.
. 2009. Writings of Charles Sanders Peirce: A Chronological Edition vol. 8, ed.
Peirce Edition Project. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
(Abbreviated as W8)
. 2010. Philosophy of Mathematics: Selected Writings, ed. Matthew E. Moore.
Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. (Contains annotations on The
Law of Mind by the editor)

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Stephen Cole Kleene. 1952. Introduction to Metamathematics. New York: Van Nostrand.

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