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Single Idea 19761

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / B. Natural Kinds / 2. Defining Kinds]

Full Idea

Men at first unduly multiplied the names of individual things, owing to their failure to know the genera and species, but later made too few genera and species, owing to their failure to have considered beings in all their differences.

Gist of Idea

Men started with too few particular names, but later had too few natural kind names


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1754], Part I)

A Reaction

The fact that two leopards differ is not a good enough reason to assign them to two different general terms. Adjectives can do all the necessary modification. The single general term acknowledges something important.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.51