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Francis Garden - 1878 - Table of contents

Diccionario filosófico
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden

Vocabulary of Philosophy, Psychological, Ethical, Metaphysical
William Fleming

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt


A Short History of Philosophy





Definition. Marking out something from everything else, the primary meaning of the Latin verb definio being to trace out a boundary.

Distinctions have been drawn between nominal and real definition, and the latter has been divided into essential and accidental. But with such distinctions pure logic has nothing to do.


All that it looks to is the definition of a concept, or, coming to the same thing, of a term which is the expression of a concept. And this is procured by assigning to it the genus and the difference. Given the genus to which that denoted by a term belongs, and the difference between it and the other species of the genus, and we have its definition. The notion is presented to us definite and circumscribed, and all that we know or can discover about it will come within this enclosure.

As the differentia is itself a generic notion, it might be viewed as the genus, and the other elements of the definition as the species, e. g. red-flowering currant. Here we should ordinarily think and speak of currant as the genus and red-flowering as the species. But it is plainly possible, if we happen to be thinking of the effect of colour in flowers, to view red-flowering as the genus, having for its species roses and many others, amongst which will be currant. And this consideration will bring us to the simple and ultimate view of definition, which shows it to consist of the coincidence of two genera at a given place, thus producing depth as well as breadth in our notion, giving it solidity and determinate character.

It is plain that only species is definable. The genus to which we refer it may no doubt be defined also, but only by calling in the aid of a higher genus in which it is contained, and so viewing it as a species. The summum genus obviously cannot be defined, for want at once of a differentia and of a genus higher than itself; nor can the individual, as that presents us with no adequate differentia.

Definitions have, exclusively of those called nominal, with which science has nothing to do, been divided into real and genetic. The real definition is of the thing viewed as already existing, e.g. "A circle is a line returning upon itself, of which all the parts are equidistant from a given point." The genetic definition is of the process by which the thing comes into being, e. g. " A circle is formed when we draw around, and always at the same distance from, a fixed point, a movable point which leaves its trace, until the termination of the movement coincides with the commencement." (1)


(1) HAMILTON, Logic, vol. II. pp. 12, 13.



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