Philosophy Word of the Day – Category

Predicate; hence, a fundamental class of things in our conceptual framework. In Aristotle‘s logic specifically, the categories are the ten general modes of being (substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, possession, doing, and undergoing) by reference to which any individual thing may be described.

Following the lead of stoic thought, medieval logicians commonly employed only the first four of these ten, but allowed for additional, syncategorematic terms that belonged to none of them.

Kant employed a schematized table of a dozen categories as the basis for our understanding of the phenomenal realm.

Gilbert Ryle used the term much more broadly, warning of the category mistakes that occur when we fail to respect the unique features of kinds of things.

Recommended Reading: F. E. Peters, Greek Philosophical Terms: A Historical Lexicon (NYU, 1967) {at Amazon.com} and Aristotle, Categories, ed. by Hugh Tredennick (Harvard, 1938) {at Amazon.com}.

Also see IEP, SEP, ColE, and PP.

(Via A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names)

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