Benedetto Croce's forthright condemnation of the doctrine of artistic and literary kinds (genres), and of other supposed' errors' of aesthetic theory, inaugurated the twentieth-century debate on genre and remains a standard point of reference, if only for the extremity of its views. In this brief extract from his famous treatise on the theory and history of aesthetics, the Italian philosopher presents his reasons for abandoning the whole idea of genres, except for purely pragmatic purposes such as arranging books on shelves. Theories of genre, he claims, especially when codified into definitions and rules, impoverish artistic creation and criticism alike, inhibiting originality, setting up erroneous standards of judgement, and belying the tendency of true art to break rules and violate norms. None of these arguments is entirely new, as Croce acknowledges in a later chapter of the Aesthetic (XIX, iii) where he surveys the history of genre theory and reveals the tradition of resistance to the doctrine of kinds; and in many respects his own position is simply an extreme version of the Romantic conception of art as self-expression. But Croce gives new force to the anti-generic view by grounding it in a distinction, fundamental to his whole philosophical system, between intuitive and logical knowledge, forms of thought which he sees as independent of and irreducible to one another. Aesthetic objects belong to the former, generic categories to the latter domain; to discuss a work of art in terms of genre is thus to falsify its nature, and commit what philosophers call a 'category mistake'. A history of genre is, likewise, an empty abstraction which Croce believes can tell us nothing about the nature of the aesthetic.