Predicable is a term of scholastic logic, and connected with the scheme of classification. There were five designations employed in classifying objects on a systematic plan: genus, species, difference (differentia), property (proprium), and accident (accidens). The first two-genus and species-name the higher and lower classes of the things classified; a genus comprehends several species. The other three designations — difference, property, accident — express the attributes that the classification turns upon. The difference is what distinguishes one species from the other species of the same genus; as, for example, the peculiarities wherein the cat differs from the tiger, lion, and other species of the genus felis. The property expresses a distinction that is not ultimate, but a consequence of some other peculiarity. Thus "the use of tools" is a property of man, and not a difference, for it flows from other assignable attributes of his bodily and mental organization, or from the specific differences that characterize him. The accident is something not bound up with the nature of the species, but chancing to be present in it. For instance, the high value of gold is an accident; gold would still be gold though it were plenty and cheap. It was by an arbitrary and confusing employment of the notion of predication that these various items of the first attempt at a process of systematic classification were called predicables, or attributes that might be "predicated," that is, affirmed, of things. All that is needful to affirm is that a certain thing belongs to a given species or genus; and that to belong to the species is to possess the specific differences; and to belong to the genus is to possess the generic differences. We may also, if we please, affirm (or predicate) that the thing does belong to the species, or does possess the specific difference; but this power of affirming has no need to be formally proclaimed, or made the basis of the whole scheme. The allied term "'predicament" is another case where an abusive prominence is given to the idea of predication. The predicaments, or categories, were the most comprehensive classes of all existing things — under such heads as substance, attribute, quantity, quality, etc.; and it could be predicated of anything falling under any one head that it does so fall under. Thus, "virtue" is an attribute: and therefore we might say that "attribute" can be predicated of "virtue." But the notion of predicating does not indicate the main fact of the process in this case, any more than "predicable" in the foregoing. Classification, and not predication, is the ruling idea in each.

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