I am interested in the nature of ontological classification and whether there exists some form of accepted terminology to distinguish classes that are 'positive' (matching characteristics) and classes that are 'negative' (in the sense of being essentially miscellaneous). By positive I mean: individual x reflects the characteristics that define class X. By negative: given classes X and Y with defined characteristics, individual z does not match either class and is therefore grouped in class M with others like a and b that also do not fit X or Y. Yet z otherwise shares little or nothing with a and b, so can M be said to be in some sense a negative class? Did anyone ancient and Greek carve some tablets on this stuff?

  • I know the site doesn't want us answering in the comments but I'd have to type a reply on my phone, which is kinda draining for me, mentally/emotionally, right now, so... For a partial answer/some info in that direction, see the SEP article on determinables/determinates. Some possible classes in set theory might be good examples too (e.g. if there are class-many strongly inaccessible κ, yet the first three—0, ω, and I —don't share too many positive properties otherwise). Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 4:29
  • Here's a list that might be of interest to you: red, meow, green, John, woof, cactus.
    – Hudjefa
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 5:12
  • 1
    There is a traditional distinction between realism and nominalism with respect to universals. A common view among philosophers is that some true generalisations are merely accidental, while others are nomological. The issue is related to the concept of 'natural kinds'. plato.stanford.edu/entries/natural-kinds
    – Bumble
    Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 5:50
  • Thanks all. I'll try and digest these
    – geotheory
    Commented Nov 14, 2022 at 1:06


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .