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WILLIAM FLEMING - 1890 - Table of contents

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H- I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W  

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





CATEGORY (κατηγορέω, to predicate), a class to which things or thoughts may be referred.

The categories are the highest classes under which objects of knowledge can be arranged in subordination and system. Philosophy, in seeking to know all things, finds it is impossible to know all things individually. Things and thoughts are, therefore, arranged in classes, according to common properties. When we know the definition of a class, we attain a formal knowledge of the individual objects of knowledge contained in that class.

This attempt to render knowledge in some sense universal has been made in all ages of philosophy, and has given rise to the categories which have appeared in various forms.


The earliest table of categories known is that of the Pythagoreans, preserved by Aristotle in the First Book of his Metaphysics, ch. V. p. 3. It consists in a series of opposites or contraries, as Odd, Even, &c. Aristotle makes them ten in number, viz., οὐσία, substance; πόσον, quantity; ποῑον, quality; πρὸς τί, relation; ποῡ, place; πότε, time; κεῑσθαι, situation; ἔχειν, possession, or manner of holding; ποιεῑν, action; and πάσχειν, suffering.

The categories of Aristotle are both logical and metaphysical, and apply to things as well as to words. Regarded logically, they are reducible to two, substance and attribute. Regarded metaphysically, they are reducible to being and accident. The Stoics reduced them to four, viz., substance, quality, manner of being, and relation. The categories of Aristotle were generally acquiesced in till the time of Bacon, who recommended observation rather than classification, and regarded "the distribution of things into certain tribes, which we call categories or predicaments," as "but cautions against the confusion of definitions and divisions" (Adv. of Learning, bk. II.).

The Cartesians arranged all things under three categories— Substance, Attribute, and Mode; Locke also under three— Substance, Mode, and Relation; Leibnitz under five—Substance Quantity, Quality, Action or Passion, and Relation.

The categories of Kant are quantity, quality, relation, and modality. According to Kant, the manifold is arranged by us in accordance with the logical functions of our judgment. "The categories are nothing else than these functions of judgment, so far as the manifold in a given intuition is determined in relation to them" (Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Meiklejohn, p. 88; Werke, Kosenkranz, II., supplement 14, sec. 20, p. 740).

Kant professes to give a complete and systematic table of categories (deducing all from the unity of a single conception), in place of the incomplete and haphazard table of Aristotle.

According to Ueberweg and Hamilton, however, the difference between the Kantian and Aristotelian categories is more fundamental, the former being merely subjective or bearing reference to knowledge, the latter objective or bearing reference to things. No doubt the primary reference of Kant's categories is to knowledge, of which they are the elementary constituents; but the result of his critical analysis of knowledge being this, that objects owe their essential constitution to the knowing subject, it will follow that for him the categories of Knowledge are at the same time the categories of Reality.

Hegel signalised this result of the Kantian criticism, and proclaimed the identity of Thought and Being. He also sought to remedy the defects of Kant's table by adding higher categories to which Kant had not advanced, and by exhibiting the dialectic evolution of the categories of thought, as at the same time the evolution of actual existence.

Hamilton (Reid's Works, p. 687) gives the following simplification of the categories of Aristotle:—(1) Being by itself; (2) Being by accident, the last including Quantity, Quality, and Relation (see also Discussions, pp. 26, 27, 2nd ed.; Logic, I. 199).

Mill (Logic, bk I. ch. III. sec 3) gives the following classification of all nameable things:—(1) Feelings or state of consciousness; (2) the minds which experience these feelings; (3) the bodies or external objects which excite certain of these feelings, together with the power or properties whereby they excite them; (4) the successions and co-existences, the likenesses and unlikenesses, between feelings or states of consciousness (see Ueberweg's Logic, Lindsay's transl, 114).



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