THE SCALE OF FORMS
THE philosophical concept has been hitherto discussed as if, apart from the overlap of its specific classes, it resembled other concepts in structure. But if this overlap is real it cannot be an isolated peculiarity. The differences between the species of a non-philosophical concept are of such a kind that an overlap between them is unthinkable; of what kind, then, must be the differences between the species of a philosophical concept, that an overlap between them should be possible?
1. We distinguish differences of degree from differences of kind. A beginning may be made by asking if either of these, taken separately, would explain the overlap.
It is not explained by a mere difference of degree. If all instances of a generic concept had one and the same attribute in varying degrees, and if the genus were divided into species according to these variations, there could be no overlap; for the point at which any one specific class began would be the point at which another ended. Examples are the classification of books for a librarian's purpose by size, and the classification of men by age for military service.
It seems in fact to be generally admitted that no philosophical importance attaches to mere differ
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Publication information: Book title: An Essay on Philosophical Method. Contributors: R. G. Collingwood - Author. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1933. Page number: 54.
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