From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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 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
SUBSTANCE Thinking Extended BODY Inanimate Animate ANIMAL Irrational Rational MAN This That PLATO.
- William Stanley Jevons (1870). Elementary Lessons in Logic. London.
- Paul Richard Blum (1999). Dio e gli individui: L' Arbor Porphyriana nei secoli XVII e XVIII. Rivista di filosofia neo-scolastica 91: 18-49.