more from Jonathan Barnes

Single Idea 9074

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

Full Idea

Abstractions cannot account for those general terms whose instances do not have any set of features in common. The word 'game' is not ambiguous, but not all games have one thing in common; they are united by looser 'family resemblance'.

Gist of Idea

Abstraction cannot produce the concept of a 'game', as there is no one common feature


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

(This point comes from Wittgenstein, Idea 4141) English-speakers can't agree on borderline cases (avoiding cracks in pavements). Life is just a game. The objection would be refuted by discussion of higher-level abstractions to make connections.

Related Idea

Idea 4141 Various games have a 'family resemblance', as their similarities overlap and criss-cross [Wittgenstein]