from *The Notebooks of Samuel Butler*
from "Truth and Convenience"
...The arrangement of our ideas is as much a matter
of convenience as the packing of goods in a druggist's or
draper's store and leads to exactly the same kind of difficulties
in the matter of classifying them. We all admit the arbitrarinesss of
classifications in a languid way, but we do not think of it more
than we can help- I suppose because it is so incovenient to
do so. The great advantage of classification is to conceal the
fact that subdivisions are as arbitrary as they are.
There can be no perfect way, for classification presupposes
that a thing has absolute limits whereas there is nothing that
does not partake of the universal infinity- something whose
boundaries do not vary. Everything is one thing at one time
and to some respects, and another at other times and in other
respects. We want a new mode of measurement altogether; at
present we take what gaps we can find, sent up milestones and
declare them irremoveable. We want a measure which shall express,
or at any rate recognize, the harmonics and resemblance that lurk
even in the most absolute differences and vice-versa.
"Attempts at Classification"
are like nailing battens of our own flesh, and blood upon ourselves
as an inclined plane that we may walk up ourselves more easily; and
yet it answers very sufficiently.