Featherless biped  

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Woman at her Toilet (c. 1661-65) by Jan Steen. This detail shows the legs with sock marks.
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Woman at her Toilet (c. 1661-65) by Jan Steen. This detail shows the legs with sock marks.
As "Darwinism" became widely accepted in the 1870s, good-natured caricatures of him with an ape or monkey body symbolised evolution.
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As "Darwinism" became widely accepted in the 1870s, good-natured caricatures of him with an ape or monkey body symbolised evolution.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A featherless biped was Plato's definition for a human being.

When Plato gave Socrates' definition of man as "featherless bipeds" and was much praised for the definition, Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato's Academy, saying, "Behold! I've brought you a man." After this incident, "with broad flat nails" was added to Plato's definition.

“Plato had defined Man as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, ‘Here is Plato’s man.’ In consequence of which there was added to the definition, ‘having broad nails.’” (Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers in Ten Books, Book VI, 40, page 43 of the Loeb Classics edition, vol. II)

Usage notes

  • Used throughout the history of western philosophy as an example of an unsatisfactory definition.

Etymology

Proposed by Plato (427-347 BCE) in his dialogue Statesman.


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Featherless biped" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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