Species. Perhaps no word has had
a more curious history, or run through a greater variety of meanings,
Derived from an old verb, specio,
I behold, it meant in the first instance both actively a
beholding, and passively a thing beheld, a shape, aspect. In connection
with the latter it sometimes denoted pomp or splendour, sometimes
semblance, deception. Keeping to the more general notion of shape,
aspect, we see that it exactly corresponded to the Greek
and are therefore prepared to find it passing through
corresponding phases of meaning.
Like that, it denotes in philosophy the universal, consisting of
genus and differentia, the class within a class. We are all familiar
with this now the commonest sense of the word species, a sense naturally
flowing from its original meaning, for the species is the form or aspect
under which we view the object before us, when we have a definite notion
of it. Species, however, has, or perhaps rather had, another sense in
philosophy. It was used to denote the mental representation of an object
which was supposed to intervene between the object itself and the mind's
perception of it. Of course this meaning is identical with the primary
one of species, i. e. form, aspect, appearance. I need not dwell on it
further, for I suppose the doctrine which it expressed has altogether
Species likewise meant in Roman law fruits of the earth, such as corn,
wine, oil, and indeed provisions and commodities of nearly any sort.
There are regulations for bringing on demand those various species
instead of their equivalent in money; and hence, doubtless by
with the logical sense of the word, the phrase payment in kind. In later
Greek, too, ταἔιδη mean spices, costly wares. Gold and silver also were
included among species, and it is singular that modern usage has
restricted the word in this sense to them (corrupting it into specie),
whereas the old regulations enforced the bringing the articles needed,
the species, instead of their price in money. Species in this sense by
an easy transition has taken the shape of spice, which now denotes
aromatic drugs. Spice was formerly used, however, in the logical sense
"Absten you fro all yvil spice"—1 Thess. v. 22. Wiclif.
"The spices of penance ben three."—Chaucer, 'The Parson's
"Justice, although it be but one entire virtue, yet is described in two
kinds of spices."—Sir T. Elyot, 'The Governor.'(1)
It has been conjectured that the word species as applied to the bread
and wine in the Eucharist was at first used in the sense now before us.
Bread and wine were the offerings of fruit and produce of the earth
which were presented by the faithful as materials for the holiest rite
of their religion. This may have been the case, but it is plain that in
subsequent controversy, when it was laid down that Christ was present
under the species of bread and wine, species was used in its primitive
sense of shape, aspect, or appearance.
Still, the same association with logical thought which we have observed
in the phrase payment in kind, is found here, and the phrases in one
kind, in both kinds, have perpetuated themselves in Eucharistic
controversy. "Under the forms of bread and wine" may perhaps indicate
the like association with philosophy awakened by the word species.
TRENCH'S Select Glossary, in voce.