Porphyrian tree  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



The Porphyrian tree, Tree of Porphyry or Arbor Porphyriana is a classic classification of a "Scale of being", invented by one of the earliest Greek logicians Porphyry. It is also known as scala praedicamentalis.

The Greek Neoplatonist Porphyry introduced the Porphyrian tree in his introduction to Aristotle's Categories. Porphyry presented the basis of Aristotle's thought as a tree-like scheme of dichotomous divisions, which indicates that a species is defined by genus-differentia and that the process continues until the lowest species is reached.

This work was translated into Latin by Boethius and became the standard philosophical textbook in the Middle Ages. Until the late 19th century, it was still being taught to students of logic.


This Porphyrian tree consists of three rows or columns of words; the middlemost whereof contains the series of genus and species, and bears some analogy to the trunk. The extremes, containing the differences, are analogous to the branches of a tree. An example is

Thinking Extended
Inanimate Animate
Irrational Rational
This That

Further reading

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

Personal tools