Abstract Concrete

One of my favorite college-level logic texts is The Art of Reasoning by David Kelley. In the chapter on “Classification” he teaches on genus and species, where he reminds us that the genus of a term is more abstract than the term itself, and the species of a term is more concrete.

Kelley includes an exercise for the students to practice with these concepts. He gives sentences for the students to rewrite, replacing any boldface words with more abstract ones, and any italicized words with more concrete ones. I thought this was a creative approach to teaching the concepts, so I thought I would come up with a few sentences for you to try:

  1. She likes to chitchat on her phone.
  2. The airplane plummeted into a field and crashed .
  3. I studied the sublime planet through an optical device.
  4. The person stuck his head through the bars and got stuck.
  5. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Exercises like this can help us to understand the concepts of genus and species while developing creativity in writing. Try making up some of your own!

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