The Use and Abuse Of Classification

Geoffrey Lloyd

in Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780199270163
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602276 | DOI:
The Use and Abuse Of Classification

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Are natural kinds cross-cultural universals or the products of culture? An analysis of the assumptions that generally underlie these two points of view reveals the weak points of both. There is, for instance, no one correct taxonomy of animals or of plants to which all classifications should be thought to be aiming. Rather, reality is multi-dimensional. Classifications will vary according to the criteria selected, but given a particular criterion, there can be more, or less, accurate classifications. An examination of Greek and Chinese taxonomies illustrates the different perspectives adopted and throws light on the origins of doubts on the nature of species.

Keywords: animals; classification; cross-cultural universals; plants; relativism; species problem; taxonomy

Chapter.  10896 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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