One of the most basic abilities of living creatures involves the grouping of similar objects to produce a classification. The idea of sorting similar things into categories is clearly a primitive one because early humans, for example, must have been able to realise that many individual objects shared certain properties such as being edible, or poisonous, or ferocious, and so on. And classification in its widest sense is needed for the development of language, which consists of words that help us to recognise and discuss the different types of events, objects, and people we encounter. Each noun in a language, for example, is essentially a label used to describe a class of things that have striking features in common; thus animals are called cats, dogs, horses, etc., and each name collects individuals into groups. Naming and classifying are essentially synonymous.
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