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Single Idea 9072

[catalogued under 18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 8. Abstractionism Critique]

Full Idea

If we create abstractions by collection of attributes common to groups of entities, we will collect far too many attributes, and wrongly put them into the definition (such as 'having hairless palms' when identifying 'men').

Gist of Idea

Defining concepts by abstractions will collect together far too many attributes from entities


Jonathan Barnes (Commentary on 'Posterior Analytics [1993], n to 97b7)

Book Reference

Aristotle: 'Posterior Analytics (2nd ed)', ed/tr. Barnes,Jonathan [OUP 1993], p.249

A Reaction

[compressed] Defining 'man' is a hugely complex business (see Idea 1763!), unlike defining 'hair' or 'red'. Some attributes will strike perceivers immediately, but absence of an attribute is not actually 'perceived' at all.

Related Idea

Idea 1763 Diogenes said a plucked chicken fits Plato's definition of man [Diogenes of Sin., by Diog. Laertius]