Category. The word
κατηγορια originally meant accusation. Aristotle,
however, used the verb κατηγορέω to denote the art of predicating affirmatively. Hence with him
το κατηγούμενον means the predicate,
and as all predication must fall under some one of the necessary
conditions and relations of things, he calls these latter the
Categories, and for the same reason the Latins entitled them
Aristotle makes them ten in number.
1. Substance. 6. Passion.
2. Quantity. 7. Place.
3. Quality. 8. Time.
4. Relation. 9. Posture.
5. Action. 10. Habit.
These are summa genera of conception under which all nations, judgments,
and classifications must be ranged. There are, however, ideas behind and
beyond them, such as existence, good, and the like, which in the
language of the schools are called transcendents and
transcendentals—terms which Kant used in quite different senses (see
Transcendental). Indeed he also used the word
in a sense different from the old one.
Aristotle's division has long
been objected to as a cross one. Relation obviously includes posture,
place, and time, if indeed it does not comprehend every category except
substance. Habit too, as is acknowledged in the treatise on the
categories, comes under quality. There have been many classifications of
categories from the Stoics down to Sir W. Hamilton, which the reader may
find and consider for himself. Meanwhile, let it be said that if the Aristotelian division be formally defective, it
would be difficult to convict it of being other than exhaustive. The
word category, as I have said, is employed by Kant in a sense different
from the Aristotelian. He bestows the title on what he deems necessary
and à priori forms of the understanding, whereas the categories of
Aristotle are classifications of à posteriori notions and knowledge
quite as much as, if not rather more than, of à priori.
If Kant has thus changed the philosophical sense of the word category,
modern language has equally done so in another way. It is now
continually used for class of any kind. When one considers how many
words we have synonymous with class, it is difficult to account for men
going out of their way and getting hold of category, except by a sickly
preference for a long and grand word, over a short and familiar one,
especially if the former have a philosophical air. The impropriety of
entitling any class whatever a category will appear if we substitute the
Latin predicament. Common as this misuse of the word category has
become, I think it may still be avoided with advantage. The benefit of
technical terms is impaired by using them in various senses.