Family Resemblance

“Nevertheless, an unmistakable family likeness binds together the remotest branches of Greek science. But as the countenances of men and women, old people and children, often resemble one another, though their individual features are not alike, so is it with the spiritual affinity of phenomena that are connected historically. It is not this or that particular characteristic which is the same; the similarity lies in the expression of the whole, in the formation of corresponding parts after the same model, and their combination in an analogous relation; or if this is no longer the case, in our being able to connect the later phase with the earlier, as its natural consequence, according to the law of a continuous development.” The notion of family resemblance, which plays such an important role in Wittgenstein’s thought, is nicely analyzed here by Zeller in A History of Greek Philosophy Vol. 1 (1881) 132-133.

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