Charles S. Peirce

On Reality

MS 197 (Robin 375): Writings 3, 37
Fall 1872

        I term that nothing, concerning which no predication can have any meaning. You can therefore predicate what you please of it in form, and the sentence will not be false because it will be meaningless. Now there are two cases of nothing.

        1st If contradictories enter into the definition of a term, it is necessarily nothing. This case is called absurdity.

        2nd A term may be nothing independently of any logical maxim. This is a case of simple unreality.

        We have then some terms determined to be nothing by their essence or the ideal starting-point of information, others determined to be nothing in the progress of information. And finally we assign an ideal goal of information and we may suppose others to be determined to be nothing only then, and not before.