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CHAPTER I.: CLASSIFICATION OF ENTITIES. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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CLASSIFICATION OF ENTITIES.
Division of Entities.
An entity is a denomination in the import of which every subject matter of discourse, for the designation of which the grammatical part of speech called a noun-substantive is employed, may be comprised.
Entities may be distinguished into perceptible and inferential.
An entity, whether perceptible or inferential, is either real or fictitious.
Of Perceptible Entities.
A perceptible entity is every entity the existence of which is made known to human beings by the immediate testimony of their senses, without reasoning, i. e. without reflection. A perceptible real entity is, in one word, a body.‡
The name body is the name of the genus generalissimum of that class of real entities. Under this genus generalissimum, a system of divisions which has for its limit the aggregate of all distinguishable individual bodies, may be pursued through as many stages as are found conducive to the purposes of discourse, at any such stage, and at any number of such stages, the mode of division may be bifurcate§ and exhaustive, i. e. all-comprehensive.
The division according to which bodies are spoken of as subjects of one or other of the three physical kingdoms, viz. animal, vegetable, and mineral, is a trifurcate division. By substituting to this one stage of division, two stages, each of them bifurcate, the division may be rendered, or rather shown to be, exhaustive; as thus:—
A body is either endued with life, or not endued with life.
A body endued with life, is either endued with sensitive life, or with life not sensitive.
A body endued with sensitive life, is an animal; a body endued with a life not sensitive, is a vegetable; a body not endued with life, is a mineral.
Of Inferential Entities.
An inferential entity, is an entity which, in these times at least, is not made known to human beings in general, by the testimony of sense, but of the existence of which the persuasion is produced by reflection—is inferred from a chain of reasoning.
An inferential entity is either, 1. Human; or, 2. Super-human.
1. A human inferential entity, is the soul considered as existing in a state of separation from the body.
Of a human soul, existing in a state of separation from the body, no man living will, it is believed, be found ready to aver himself to have had perception of any individual example; or, at any rate, no man who, upon due and apposite interrogation would be able to obtain credence.
Considered as existing and visiting any part of our earth in a state of separation from the body, a human soul would be a ghost: and, at this time of day, custom scarcely does, fashion certainly does not command us to believe in ghosts.
Of this description of beings, the reality not being, in any instance, attested by perception, cannot therefore be considered any otherwise than as a matter of inference.*
2. A superhuman entity is either supreme or subordinate.
The supreme, superhuman, inferential entity is God: sanctioned by revelation; sanctioned by the religion of Jesus as delivered by the apostle Paul, is the proposition that no man hath seen God at any time. If this proposition be correct, God not being consistently with the imperfection of the human senses capable of being referred to the class of perceptible real entities, cannot, in consequence of the imperfection under which human reason labours, cannot, any more than the soul of man considered as existing in a separate state, be referred by it to any other class than that of inferential real entities as above described.†
A subordinate superhuman entity is either good or bad. A good subordinate superhuman inferential entity is an angel; a bad subordinate superhuman inferential entity is a devil.
By the learner as well as by the teacher of logic, all these subjects of Ontology may, without much detriment, it is believed, to any other useful art, or any other useful science, be left in the places in which they are found.
Of real Entities.
A real entity is an entity to which, on the occasion and for the purpose of discourse, existence is really meant to be ascribed.
Under the head of perceptible real entities may be placed, without difficulty, individual perceptions of all sorts:‡ the impressions produced in groups by the application of sensible objects to the organs of sense: the ideas brought to view by the recollection of those same objects; the new ideas produced under the influence of the imagination, by the decomposition and recomposition of those groups;—to none of these can the character, the denomination, of real entities be refused.
Faculties, powers of the mind, dispositions: all these are unreal; all these are but so many fictitious entities. When a view of them comes to be given, it will be seen how perfectly distinguishable, among psychical entities, are those which are recognised in the character of real, from those which are here referred to the class of fictitious entities.
To some it may seem matter of doubt whether, to a perception of any kind, the appellation of a real entity can, with propriety, be applied.
Certain it is that it cannot, if either solidity or permanence be regarded as a quality belonging to the essence of reality.
But in neither of these instances can, it is believed, any sufficient or just reason be assigned, why the field of reality should be regarded as confined within the limits which, on that supposition, would be applied to it.
Whatsoever title an object belonging to the class of bodies may be considered as possessing to the attribute of reality, i. e. of existence, every object belonging to the class of perceptions will be found to possess, in still higher degree, a title established by more immediate evidence: it is only by the evidence afforded by perceptions that the reality of a body of any kind can be established.
Of Ideas, our perception is still more direct and immediate than that which we have of corporeal substances: of their existence our persuasion is more necessary and irresistible than that which we have of the existence of corporeal substances.
Speaking of Entities, ideas might perhaps accordingly be spoken of as the sole perceptible ones, substances, those of the corporeal class, being, with reference, and in contradistinction to them, no other than inferential ones.
But if substances themselves be the subject of the division, and for the designation of the two branches of the division the words perceptible and inferential be employed, it is to corporeal substances that the characteristic and differential attribute, perceptible, cannot but be applied: the term inferential being thereupon employed for the designation of incorporeal ones.
The more correct and complete the consideration bestowed, the more clearly will it be perceived, that from the existence of perceptions, viz. of sensible ones, the inference whereby the existence of corporeal entities, viz. the bodies from which those perceptions are respectively derived, is much stronger, more necessary, and more irresistible, than the inference whereby the existence of incorporeal entities is inferred from the existence of perceptible entities, alias corporeal substances, alias bodies.
Suppose the non-existence of corporeal substances, of any hard corporeal substance that stands opposite to you, make this supposition, and as soon as you have made it, act upon it, pain, the perception of pain, will at once bear witness against you; and that by your punishment, your condign punishment. Suppose the non-existence of any inferential incorporeal substances, of any one of them, or of all of them, and the supposition made, act upon it accordingly,—be the supposition conformable or not conformable to the truth of the case, at any rate no such immediate counter-evidence, no such immediate punishment will follow.*
Of Fictitious Entities.
A fictitious entity is an entity to which, though by the grammatical form of the discourse employed in speaking of it, existence be ascribed, yet in truth and reality existence is not meant to be ascribed.
Every noun-substantive which is not the name of a real entity, perceptible or inferential, is the name of a fictitious entity.
Every fictitious entity bears some relation to some real entity, and can no otherwise be understood than in so far as that relation is perceived,—a conception of that relation is obtained.
Reckoning from the real entity to which it bears relation, a fictitious entity may be styled a fictitious entity of the first remove, a fictitious entity of the second remove, and so on.
A fictitious entity of the first remove is a fictitious entity, a conception of which may be obtained by the consideration of the relation borne by it to a real entity, without need of considering the relation borne by it to any other fictitious entity.
A fictitious entity of the second remove is a fictitious entity, for obtaining a conception of which it is necessary to take into consideration some fictitious entity of the first remove.
Considered at any two contiguous points of time, every real entity is either in motion or at rest.
Now, when a real entity is said to be at rest, it is said to be so with reference to some other particular real entity or aggregate of real entities; for so far as any part of the system of the universe is perceived by us, we at all times perceive it not to be at rest. Such, at least, is the case not only with the bodies called planets, but with one or more of the bodies called fixed stars; and, by analogy, we infer this to be the case with all the rest.
This premised, considered with reference to any two contiguous points of time past, every perceptible real entity was, during that time, either in motion or not in motion; if not in motion, it was at rest.
Here, then, we have two correspondent and opposite fictitious entities of the first remove, viz. a motion and a rest.
A motion is a mode of speech commonly employed; a rest is a mode of speech not so commonly employed.
To be spoken of at all, every fictitious entity must be spoken of as if it were real. This, it will be seen, is the case with the above-mentioned pair of fictitious entities of the first remove.
A body is said to be in motion. This, taken in the literal sense, is as much as to say, here is a larger body, called a motion; in this larger body, the other body, namely, the really existing body, is contained.
So in regard to rest. To say this body is at rest is as much as to say, here is a body, and it will naturally be supposed a fixed body, and here is another body, meaning the real existing body, which is at that first-mentioned body, i. e. attached to it, as if the fictitious body were a stake, and the real body a beast tied to it.
An instance of a fictitious entity of the second remove is a quality. There are qualities that are qualities of real entities; there are qualities that are qualities of the above-mentioned fictitious entities of the first remove. For example, of motion, rectilinearity, curvilinearity, slowness, quickness, and so on.†
Uses of this distinction between names of real and names of fictitious entities.
These uses are, 1. Attaching, in the only way in which they can be attached, clear ideas to the several all-comprehensive and leading terms in question. 2. Obviating and excluding the multitudinous errors and disputes of which the want of such clear ideas has been the source: disputes which, in many instances, have not terminated in words, but through words have produced antipathy, and through antipathy war with all its miseries.
Fictitious entity says some one,—of such a locution where can be the sense or use? By the word entity cannot but be represented something that has existence,—apply to the same subject the adjunct fictitious, the effect is to give instruction that it has not any existence. This, then, is a contradiction in terms, a species of locution from which, in proportion as it has any employment, confusion, and that alone, cannot but be the effect.
Entities are either real or fictitious, what can that mean? What but that of entities there are two species or sorts: viz. one which is itself, and another which is neither itself nor anything else? Instead of fictitious entity, or as synonymous with fictitious entity, why not here say, nonentity?
Answer.—Altogether inevitable will this seeming contradiction be found. The root of it is in the nature of language: that instrument without which, though of itself it be nothing, nothing can be said, and scarcely can anything be done.
Of the nature of that instrument, of the various forms under which it has been seen to present itself among different tribes of men, of the indispensable parts (i. e. parts of speech) which may be seen to belong to it under every one of those forms, actual or possible, of the qualities desirable on the part of the collection of signs of which, under all these several forms, it is composed;—under all these several heads, sketches will be endeavoured to be given in another place.*
All this while, antecedently to the stage at which these topics will present themselves, use is however making, as it could not but be made, of this same instrument. At that future stage, it will not only be the instrument, but the subject also of inquiry: at present and until then, employing it in the character of an instrument, we must be content to take it in hand, and make use of it, in the state in which we find it.
In like manner, the several operations, which by the help of language, and under the direction of logic, are performed by human minds upon language and thereby upon minds: such as distinction, division, definition, and the several other modes of exposition, including those of methodization, must be performed at and from the very outset of a work on logic, antecedently to the stage at which the task of examining into their nature and origination will be entered upon and come to be performed.
To language, then—to language alone—it is, that fictitious entities owe their existence—their impossible, yet indispensable, existence.†
In language the words which present themselves, and are employed in the character of names, are, some of them, names of real entities,—others, names of fictitious entities; and to one or other of these classes may all words which are employed in the character of names be referred.
What will, moreover, be seen, is, that the fiction—the mode of representation by which the fictitious entities thus created, in so far as fictitious entities can be created, are dressed up in the garb, and placed upon the level, of real ones, is a contrivance but for which language, or, at any rate, language in any form superior to that of the language of the brute creation, could not have existence.
And now, perhaps, may be seen the difference between a fictitious entity and a non-entity; or, to speak more strictly, the difference between the import of the two words—a difference such, that when, with propriety and use, the one is, the other cannot be employed.
In the house designated by such a number, (naming it) in such a street, in such a town, lives a being called the Devil, having a head, body, and limbs, like a man’s—horns like a goat’s—wings like a bat’s, and a tail like a monkey’s:—Suppose this assertion made, the observation naturally might be, that the Devil, as thus described, is a non-entity. The averment made of it is, that an object of that description really exists. Of that averment, if seriously made, the object or end in view cannot but be to produce in the minds to which communication is thus made, a serious persuasion of the existence of an object conformable to the description thus expressed.
Thus much concerning a non-entity. Very different is the notion here meant to be presented by the term fictitious entity.
By this term is here meant to be designated one of those sorts of objects, which in every language must, for the purpose of discourse, be spoken of as existing,—be spoken of in the like manner as those objects which really have existence, and to which existence is seriously meant to be ascribed, are spoken of; but without any such danger as that of producing any such persuasion as that of their possessing, each for itself, any separate, or strictly speaking, any real existence.
Take, for instances, the words motion, relation, faculty, power, and the like.
Real entities being the objects for the designation of which, in the first place, at the earliest stage of human intercourse, and in virtue of the most urgent necessity, words, in the character of names, were employed,—between the idea of a name and that of the reality of the object to which it was applied, an association being thus formed, from a connexion thus intimate, sprung a very natural propensity, viz. that of attributing reality to every object thus designated;—in a word, of ascribing reality to the objects designated by words, which, upon due examination, would be found to be nothing but so many names of so many fictitious entities.
To distinguish them from those fictitious entities, which, so long as language is in use among human beings, never can be spared, fabulous may be the name employed for the designation of the other class of unreal entities.
Of fictitious entities, whatsoever is predicated is not, consistently with strict truth, predicated (it then appears) of anything but their respective names.
But forasmuch as by reason of its length and compoundedness, the use of the compound denomination, name of a fictitious entity, would frequently be found attended with inconvenience; for the avoidance of this inconvenience, instead of this long denomination, the less long, though, unhappily, still compound denomination, fictitious entity, will commonly, after the above warning, be employed.
Of nothing that has place, or passes, in our minds can we give any account, any otherwise than by speaking of it as if it were a portion of space, with portions of matter, some of them at rest, others moving in it. Of nothing, therefore, that has place, or passes in our mind, can we speak, or so much as think, otherwise than in the way of fiction. To this word fiction we must not attach either those sentiments of pleasure, or those sentiments of displeasure, which, with so much propriety, attach themselves to it on the occasion in which it is most commonly in use. Very different in respect of purpose and necessity, very different is this logical species of fiction from the poetical and political;—very different the fiction of the Logician from the fictions of poets, priests, and lawyers.
For their object and effect, the fictions with which the Logician is conversant, without having been the author of them, have had neither more nor less than the carrying on of human converse; such communication and interchange of thought as is capable of having place between man and man. The fictions of the poet, whether in his character of historic fabulist or dramatic fabulist, putting or not putting the words of his discourse in metrical form, are pure of insincerity, and, neither for their object nor for their effect have anything but to amuse, unless it be in some cases to excite to action—to action in this or that particular direction for this or that particular purpose. By the priest and the lawyer, in whatsoever shape fiction has been employed, it has had for its object or effect, or both, to deceive, and, by deception, to govern, and, by governing, to promote the interest, real or supposed, of the party addressing, at the expense of the party addressed. In the mind of all, fiction, in the logical sense, has been the coin of necessity;—in that of poets of amusement—in that of the priest and the lawyer of mischievous immorality in the shape of mischievous ambition,—and too often both priest and lawyer have framed or made in part this instrument.
[‡ ] The name substance has, by the logicians of former times, been used to comprise perceptible and inferential real entities: Souls, God, Angels, Devils, have been designated by them by the appellation substance.
[§ ] The use of the exhaustive mode of division, as contradistinguished from that which is not exhaustive, i. e. all-comprehensive, is to show, that your conception and comprehension of the subject, in so far as the particulars comprehended in it are in view, is complete. Vide supra, p. 110, et seq.
[* ] Should there be any person in whose view the soul of man, considered in a state of separation from the body, should present itself as not capable of being, with propriety, aggregated to the class of real entities, to every such person, the class to which it belongs would naturally be that of fictitious entities; in which case it would probably be considered as being that whole, of which so many other psychical entities, none of which have ever been considered any otherwise than fictitious, such as the understanding, and the will, the perceptive faculty, the memory, and the imagination, are so many parts.
[† ] Should there be any person who, incapable of drawing those inferences by which the Creator and Preserver of all other entities, is referred to the class of real ones, should refuse to him a place in that class, the class to which such person would find himself, in a manner, compelled to refer that invisible and mysterious being would be, not as in the case of the human soul to that of fictitious entities, but that of non-entities.
[‡ ] Pathematic, Apathematic, to one or other of these denominations may all imaginable sorts of perceptions be referred. Pathematic, viz. such as either themselves consist of or are accompanied by pleasure or pain; Apathematic, such as have not any such accompaniment in any shape.
[* ] In the works of the authors who now (anno 1813) are in vogue, not a few are the notions of which the appearance will, at this time of day, be apt to excite a sensation of surprise in an unexperienced, and, one day perhaps, even in an experienced, mind.
Of this number are—1. The denial of the existence of bodies. 2. The denial of the existence of general or abstract ideas.
Of these kindred paradoxes,—for such, in some sort, they will be found to be,—who were the first persons by whom they were respectively broached, is more than I recollect, if so it be that I ever knew; nor, supposing it attainable, would the trouble of the search be paid for by the value of the thing found.
Of those by whom the notion of the non-existence of matter, including the several bodies that present themselves to our senses, is maintained, Bishop Berkeley, if not the first in point of time, is, at any rate, the most illustrious partisan.
[† ] The manuscript of this section finishes at this point, but the marginal note in pencil is—“Go on, bring to view the several other fictitious entities of the second remove, those of the third remove, if any, and so on.”
[* ] See Essay on Language, in this volume.
[† ] The division of entities into real and fictitious, is more properly the division of names into names of real and names of fictitious entities.