I do not know if it's the one you have in mind but there is
a similar thought in a passage we discussed much in olden days
on the List.  I saved it through various sites over the years
and now find a copy here:

Logic As Semiotic

Excerpt 4. Peirce (CE 1, 173)


How often do we think of the thing in algebra? When we use the symbol of multiplication we do not even think out the conception of multiplication, we think merely of the laws of that symbol, which coincide with the laws of the conception, and what is more to the purpose, coincide with the laws of multiplication in the object. 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.

(C.S. Peirce, Chronological Edition, CE 1, 173)




On 2/13/2018 4:45 AM, Neal Bruss wrote:
On Gary’s first point, cf. Peirce,  "matter is effete mind, inveterate habits 
becoming physical laws", discussed by
Lucia Santella, in Sign System Studies, the reference at

I recall, and cannot find, Peirce saying somewhere something like that the 
purpose of signs for inquiry is the reduction of thinking, that is, that when 
habits are formed and deployed, they leave consciousness (my term, not 
Peirce’s) free to observe new objects (again, my terms).  Do any of you have 
the source for Peirce on this, or something like it?


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