Thinking and Experience

Thinking and Experience

Thinking and Experience

Thinking and Experience

Excerpt

When we consider the world around us, we cannot help noticing that there is a great deal of recurrence or repetition in it. The same colour recurs over and over again in ever so many things. Shapes repeat themselves likewise. Over and over again we notice oblongshaped things, hollow things, bulgy things. Hoots, thuds, bangs, rustlings occur again and again.

There is another and very important sort of recurrence which we also notice. The same pattern or mode of arrangement is found over and over again in many sets of things, in many different pairs of things, or triads, or quartets, as the case may be. When A is above B, and C is above D, and E is above F, the above-and-below pattern or mode of arrangement recurs in three pairs of things, and in ever so many other pairs of things as well. Likewise we repeatedly notice one thing inside another, one preceding another, one thing between two others.

These recurrent features sometimes recur singly or separately. The same colour recurs in this tomato, that sunset sky, and this blushing face; there are few other features, if any, which repeat themselves in all three. But it is a noteworthy fact about the world that there are conjoint recurrences as well as separate ones. A whole group of features recurs again and again as a whole in many objects. Examine twenty dandelions, and you will find that they have many features in common; likewise fifty cats have very many features in common, or two hundred lumps of lead. In such cases as these there is conjoint recurrence of many different features. Again and again they recur together in a clump or block. This is how it comes about that many of the objects in the world group themselves together into Natural Kinds. A Natural Kind is a group of objects which have many (perhaps indefinitely many) features in common. From observing that an object has some of these features, we can infer with a good deal of probability that it has the rest.

These constant recurrences or repetitions, whether separate or . . .

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