A practical illustration of how close to or how far from reality are things that possess Similarity, "Certain Sameness," and Resemblance is to pick up in one hand five long crooked sticks in their middle. Now note how all the sticks touch each other in ones palm (like a Simile), meaning they are like-kind ("tied in bundles"). Outside the palm, where two of the five crooked sticks touch at one or both ends represents a “common point” (like a Synonym)--and otherwise there are separations (representing what Antonyms are about). Becoming familiar with the intricacies of each of these illustrations is a way to improve ones Critical Thinking (CT). "Thought" is a term loosely used to cover a wide range of mental processes that are roughly divided into Memory, Imagination, and Reasoning. Thinking is only able to grasp a tiny portion of a given Event at any particular moment and even that has to be done as fast as possible to keep up with what is seen. Of course, these thoughts lack the vitality present in seeing an Event. Thus, Thoughts can only be about, at best, a partial reality which, when symbolized by their coding words, further divorces them from reality. A way to overcome these problems is to expand ones Imagination, Understanding, Creativity, and ability to Classify "Like-Kind" things--each essential to CT, and particularly for Classification.
A Class refers to "Like-Kind" things "tied in bundles" and consisting of members having the same sorts of things or some characteristic(s) in common. Each Class (e.g. sparrows) is important since it opens channels able to provide insights into one or more things about it and also in its Bird Classification. Members are chosen from Options that form Classes into harmonious and synthesized groups of "Like-Kind" thoughts of a kinship family member type. An analogy for separated bundles of "Like-Kind" Thoughts is individually potted aromatic flower plants. For me the gardenia potted plant will be selected to satisfy my desire for a pleasant home surrounding; for another it will be the Wild Thyme for use in cosmetics; and the Hemlock is taken by those desiring its medical anesthetic powers. In order to discern the common distinct or defining features of things with a "Like-Kind" nature, it is essential to leave out all the differences--as is true of determining the Abstract or an Abstraction. Understanding is the recognition of the "Like-Kind" in dissimilar things which work interdependently to generate order. A powerful tool of such recognition is Imagination which identifies those "Like-Kinds" permitting streams of thought to proceed in large numbers of directions. Imagination is creative when it enables the qualities of many topics or things to lead to a common whole. But, in the process, it has the power to deceive. Examples: (1) Similar refers to close resemblance, which yet leaves room for question or denial of complete likeness or identity (and thus differs from Identical--i.e. the very same). In addition, the things compared need to be on the same plane of existence--and keep in mind their meanings differ on each of those planes. (2) Plato founded a system on the great similarity between the world of particular things and the Supersensible, superior world of ideas, where the real forms are perfect and unchanging. Then he deduced all the other facts that the system presupposed. This is a common way to lead people off the "Truth-Track" while giving reasonable arguments in support of ones "off-track" position. (3) The 15th century word "Synonymous" (Greek, 'same name'; later having the same or nearly the same meaning) eventually wound up referring to likeness of name or meaning; equivalent; identical; and same in meaning--with much room for deception.
So, to consider the meanings of the words "Like-Kind," "Alike," "Similar," "Analogous," and "Synonymous" to be identical is fatal to accuracy; to forget they are in the same "family" and to some extent equivalent and sometimes interchangeable is destructive of freedom and variety. Untangling processes start with the above stick illustrations--e.g. Synonyms coincide or nearly coincide in some part of their meaning and within that limited point of togetherness may be used interchangeably, but not outside those limits. Still, because the definition of each word is confusing and often conflicting, CT must "Approximate" (not guesswork) as near an approach to accuracy and certainty as the conditions of human thought or action in any given case make possible. This enables one to get close to a definite and stable sense of the "What it is" of each.
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