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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





Species. Perhaps no word has had a more curious history, or run through a greater variety of meanings, than this.


Derived from an old verb, specio, I behold, it meant in the first instance both actively a beholding, and passively a thing beheld, a shape, aspect. In connection with the latter it sometimes denoted pomp or splendour, sometimes show, semblance, deception. Keeping to the more general notion of shape, aspect, we see that it exactly corresponded to the Greek εἶδος, and are therefore prepared to find it passing through corresponding phases of meaning.

Like that, it denotes in philosophy the universal, consisting of genus and differentia, the class within a class. We are all familiar with this now the commonest sense of the word species, a sense naturally flowing from its original meaning, for the species is the form or aspect under which we view the object before us, when we have a definite notion of it. Species, however, has, or perhaps rather had, another sense in philosophy. It was used to denote the mental representation of an object which was supposed to intervene between the object itself and the mind's perception of it. Of course this meaning is identical with the primary one of species, i. e. form, aspect, appearance. I need not dwell on it further, for I suppose the doctrine which it expressed has altogether disappeared.

Species likewise meant in Roman law fruits of the earth, such as corn, wine, oil, and indeed provisions and commodities of nearly any sort. There are regulations for bringing on demand those various species instead of their equivalent in money; and hence, doubtless by association with the logical sense of the word, the phrase payment in kind. In later Greek, too, ταἔιδη mean spices, costly wares. Gold and silver also were included among species, and it is singular that modern usage has restricted the word in this sense to them (corrupting it into specie), whereas the old regulations enforced the bringing the articles needed, the species, instead of their price in money. Species in this sense by an easy transition has taken the shape of spice, which now denotes aromatic drugs. Spice was formerly used, however, in the logical sense of species.

"Absten you fro all yvil spice"—1 Thess. v. 22. Wiclif.

"The spices of penance ben three."—Chaucer, 'The Parson's Tale'

"Justice, although it be but one entire virtue, yet is described in two kinds of spices."—Sir T. Elyot, 'The Governor.'(1)

It has been conjectured that the word species as applied to the bread and wine in the Eucharist was at first used in the sense now before us. Bread and wine were the offerings of fruit and produce of the earth which were presented by the faithful as materials for the holiest rite of their religion. This may have been the case, but it is plain that in subsequent controversy, when it was laid down that Christ was present under the species of bread and wine, species was used in its primitive sense of shape, aspect, or appearance. Still, the same association with logical thought which we have observed in the phrase payment in kind, is found here, and the phrases in one kind, in both kinds, have perpetuated themselves in Eucharistic controversy. "Under the forms of bread and wine" may perhaps indicate the like association with philosophy awakened by the word species.


(1) See TRENCH'S Select Glossary, in voce.



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