Habit as a law of mind: A Peircean approach to habit in cultural and mental phenomena

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksChapterpeer-review


In The Architecture of Theories and The Law of Mind, Charles S. Peirce declares the categories of Chance and Continuity as determinant for the emergence and evolution of ideas on their way from individuality to generality. Ideas, as the emergence of mental activity, spread continuously affecting other ideas and establish patterns of activities. In this process of spreading they lose energy intensity and by merging into other ideas gain generality. Hence, ideas embody both individuality in the sense of occurring once, and continuity as the bonding law of cultural unity, through the force of habit. For Peirce, all thought, including the manifestation of ideas, is performed by means of signs (Peirce 1868: 103-114) anchored in sign-systems. Accordingly, general ideas are performed by general signs called symbols. Symbols are the most fundamental sign-category used to develop and establish cultural “evolution” (Cassirer 1953). Being general ideas, symbols also follow the laws of individuality and continuity. This paper will compare the function of patterns and regularities in mind activity with the function of symbol activity in the establishment of cultural patterns and will argue that both phenomena can be understood as the result of the law of habit.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConsensus on Peirce’s Concept of Habit : Before and Beyond Consciousness
EditorsDonna E. West, Myrdene Anderson
Number of pages19
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-45918-9, 978-3-319-83399-6
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-45920-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Bonding (weld), Energy, Individuality, Reason (reasoning), Symbolic form
  • Science of art