Plato's joints – job talk (version 1/18/08)

Abstract
Plato’s Socrates says in the Phaedrus that we should “cut up each kind according to its species along its natural joints, and to try not to splinter any part, as a bad butcher might” (265e). In the Statesman Plato’s interlocutors make the similar suggestion that kinds should be divided from one another “limb by limb, like a sacrificial animal” (287c). This jointing metaphor is often used to illustrate the divisibility of the natural world into objective kinds or natural categories—such as into particles like electrons, species, such as Homo sapiens, or even into sociological kinds like care-giver or psychological ones like fear. It has been thought that by dividing the world at its joints, we can lay bare the natural kinds; when we fail to so divide we splinter the world’s kinds like an incompetent butcher. In accordance with the metaphor, each bone in the animal body is likened to a category of things in the natural world. The claim that there is one natural set of joints at which we can physically separate the parts of the animal parallels the claim that there is a unique set of natural categories into which we should partition objects into species. Some, such as David Hull, say that this metaphor is “apt” (Hull 1989, 153) and others, like Ian Hacking, that it is “unsavory rubbish” (Hacking 1991, 111). Philip Kitcher is equally critical, writing that: “Plato gave us a vivid metaphor, suggesting that our classificatory task is like that of carving a beast at its joints. But that is just metaphor. I find it hard to give substance to the notion that nature is a beast with joints or that it comes with neat fenceposts that our scientific language must respect.”.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,694
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
A Sharp Eye for Kinds: Plato on Collection and Division.Devin Henry - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 41:229-55.
Arthritis and Nature's Joints.Neil E. Williams - 2011 - In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph Keim Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. MIT Press.
Boundaries in Reality.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2012 - Ratio 25 (4):405-424.
From Cutting Nature at its Joints to Measuring It: New Kinds and New Kinds of People in Biology.Gordon McOuat - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 32 (4):613-645.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
2 ( #797,099 of 2,197,202 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
0

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

Sorry, there are not enough data points to plot this chart.
My notes
Sign in to use this feature