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Classification of Arts and Early Modern Sciences - Aristotelian Background, Medieval Academia, Early Modern Context, Early Modern Classification In The Arts, Early Modern Classification In The Sciences

world altered kinds natural

The concept of classification seems obvious and benign. To classify is to arrange or distribute according to a system or method, a sense of the word that has not altered since its inception in antiquity. The significance of classification lies not in what it means, but in how it is applied. How people classify—according to what principles—has evolved and altered over time as their understanding of the world has altered. How people classify also bears directly on important issues in metaphysics. Does the world come "pre-carved" into natural kinds, or is classification merely an arbitrary exercise of human volition? If natural kinds exist, then classification reveals truths about the external world. The development of ideas about classification (and the things classified) has paralleled both scientific and artistic developments in the early modern period.

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