CATEGORY (Greek, κατηγορία = ):
A term introduced by Aristotle into the philosophical vocabulary, signifying "attribute," "predicate." According to him every word containedin a proposition belongs to one of the following ten categories: substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, situation, possession, action, passion. Words being images of objects, it is obvious that every object can be predicated by one or more of these categories. For this reason, after having briefly expounded the categories in the book κατηγορίαι, placed at the head of the "Organon," Aristotle treated this doctrine at length in his "Metaphysics." In the latter book, however, the categories change their characters somewhat, and instead of substance and attributes they represent being and its accidents. Of all the categories, only the first, that of substance which represents the being, has a real existence; the others are only appended to it, describing its qualities. For Aristotle there is no being but the individual being, as perceived by the senses; it follows that the ten categories must be found in every kind of being.
There was no fundamental change in the doctrine of the categories from the time of Aristotle to that of Kant. Plotinus, after a lengthy critique on Aristotle's categories, in the first books of the sixth "Ennead," distinguishes two classes of categories: five of the intelligible sphere, and five of the sensible world. The former are substance, rest, motion, identity, and difference; the latter, substance, relation, quantity, quality, and movement. Though allusions to this classification are to be found in the writings of the Jewish Neoplatonists, the classification of Aristotle was adopted even by the latter.
The first Jew to give an account of the categories was Saadia. In demonstrating the unity of God he analyzes the ten categories and shows that none of them can be applied to God ("Emunot we-De'ot," ii., viii. et seq.). Gabirol, in dealing with the nature of matter and form, frequently refers to the categories ("Meḳor Ḥayyim," § 2, pp. 11 et seq., in Munk's "Mélanges"). Baḥya, like Saadia, mentions them in his demonstration of the unity of God ("Ḥobot ha-Lebabot," i., vii.) and in the definition of substance and accidents ("Torot ha-Nefesh," p. 6). Joseph ibn Ẓaddiḳ also points out that none of the categories can be applied to God ("Ha-'Olam ha-Ḳaṭan," ed. Jellinek, p. 53). Abraham ibn Daud devotes the first chapter of his "Emunah Rammah" to an explanation of the categories. Maimonides frequently refers to them in his "Guide of the Perplexed"; and, like Al-Farabi, he designates them under the appellation of "genus." Jacob Anatoli translated the κατηγορίαι into Hebrew, and gave a full explanation of them in his work on the philosophical terms, entitled "Ruaḥ Ḥen."
The general term adopted in Hebrew for "category" is , which, is the translation of the Arabic term "maḳalah," used by the Arabian philosophers. Hebrew designations of the several categories, also translated from the Arabic, are: (substance), (quantity), (quality), (situation), (relation), (time), (place), (possession), (action), (passion).
- Trendelenburg, Gesch. der Kategorieenlehre, 1846;
- Bonitz, in Sitzungsberichte der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, pp. 591-641, Vienna, 1853;
- Schuppe, Die Kategorien des Aristoteles, 1866.