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Encyclopedia > Problem of universals

The problem of universals refers to a set of problems that arise when people think about the nature and status of the properties or qualities of objects. Universals are best understood in contrast to individuals. An individual is an object, like a car or a rose. Universals are properties of objects, which, if they exist, can exist in more than one place at the same time. If the car and the rose are both yellow, then they both exhibit the same universal quality of yellowness. Moreover, the mere fact that we can call something a 'car' or a 'rose' suggests that it has a property of 'carness' or 'roseness'. The problem of universals arises when people start to consider in what sense it is possible for a property to exist in more than one place at the same time. It seems clear that there are yellow things, but is there an existing property of 'yellowness'? And if there is such a thing as 'yellowness', what kind of thing is it, and how do we think of yellowness in one object as compared to yellowness in another? The problem of universals is studied by philosophers working in the fields of philosophy of language, cognitive psychology, epistemology, and ontology. The word property, in philosophy, mathematics, and logic, refers to an attribute of an object; thus a red object is said to have the property of redness. ... This article is about quality in the philosophical sense. ... Universals (used as a noun) are either properties, relations, or types, but not classes. ... In metaphysics and statistics, the word individual, while sometimes meaning a person, more typically describes any numerically singular thing. ... Philosophy of language is the reasoned inquiry into the nature, origins, and usage of language. ... Cognitive Psychology is the school of psychology that examines internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language. ... It has been suggested that Meta-epistemology be merged into this article or section. ... This article is about ontology in philosophy. ...

Contents

Buddha's lectures

Over a period of forty years, Gautama Buddha laid the groundwork in his teachings for the exposition of nominalism, i.e. the view that universals are but arbitrary names imposed upon the sensory flux. Siddhartha and Gautama redirect here. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ...


The Greek nominalists could have been substantially influenced by the ideas arising from his lectures. [citation needed] Certainly, by the Ashokan cultural dispersion around 250 BCE, Buddhist philosophy had spread as far as Rome and the Levant. Allegiance: Magadhan Empire Rank: Emperor Succeeded by: Dasaratha Maurya Reign: 273 BC-232 BC Place of birth: Pataliputra, India Battles/Wars Kalinga War Emperor Ashoka the Great (Devanagari: अशोक(:); IAST transliteration: , pronunciation: ) (304 BC–232 BC) (Imperial Title:Devanampiya Piyadassi ie He who is the beloved of the Gods who, in... Buddhist philosophy is the branch of Eastern philosophy based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, a. ... The Levant The Levant (IPA: ) is an imprecise geographical term historically referring to a large area in the Middle East south of the Taurus Mountains, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and by the northern Arabian Desert and Upper Mesopotamia to the east. ...


The Buddhist views center on anatman - non-essentialism, but extended to 'subtle impermanence' - the basis of Heraclitus' famous assertion. In general, for Buddhism, there is no problem of universals - universals are samvrti - existing only within those conventions that accept them. The Buddhist doctrine of Anatta (Pāli) or Anātman (Sanskrit) specifies the absence of a permanent and unchanging self or soul (ātman). ... In philosophy, essentialism is the view, that, for any specific kind of entity it is at least theoretically possible to specify a finite list of characteristics —all of which any entity must have to belong to the group defined. ... Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ancient Greek - Herákleitos ho Ephésios (Herakleitos the Ephesian)) (about 535 - 475 BC), known as The Obscure (Ancient Greek - ho Skoteinós), was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor. ... A silhouette of a Buddha statue at Ayutthaya, Thailand. ... In Buddhist context, samvriti refers to the conventional, as opposed to absolute, truth or reality. ...


Greek thought

The Greek version of the debate may have begun with Heraclitus, who said that "we never step twice into the same river." In the time it takes us to move our rear foot forward for that second step, water has continued to rush forward, the banks have shifted a bit, and the river is no longer the same. A pupil of Heraclitus, Patteios, offered a strengthened version of the dictum, observing that not even once does one step into one river. Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ancient Greek - Herákleitos ho Ephésios (Herakleitos the Ephesian)) (about 535 - 475 BC), known as The Obscure (Ancient Greek - ho Skoteinós), was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor. ...


Heraclitus is often interpreted as suggesting a skeptical conclusion from this observation. Since nothing ever stays the same from moment to moment, any knowledge we may think we have is obsolete before we acquire it. He might also have been suggesting that names are an artificial way to impose stability on the flux of reality -- by calling this a "river" I pretend that it is one entity. This would make of him the first nominalist. This article is about the psychological term. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ...


Much in the philosophy of Plato may be understood as an answer to Heraclitus, especially to the skeptical implications of his writings. For Plato, our intellect can contemplate the same river any number of times, for river as an idea, as a form, remains always the same. There is a sharp distinction between the world of the senses and the world of the intellect: one can only have opinions about the former, but one can have knowledge, justified true belief, about the latter. For just that reason, the intelligible world is the real world, the sensible world is only provisionally real, like the shadows on the wall of a cave. For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... PLATO was one of the first generalized Computer assisted instruction systems, originally built by the University of Illinois (U of I) and later taken over by Control Data Corporation (CDC), who provided the machines it ran on. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...


It must be noted that the Platonic notion of timeless ideas, or forms, isn't confined to universals. Particular terms, too, can be understood as the name of an intelligible form. So although river is a form, Meander is also a form, and "the Meander as it was at noon last Friday" is a form. Even the concept "Heraclitean flux" is a form, and as such fluxlessly timeless! There are paradoxes aplenty here, and Plato himself explored them in a dazzlingly dialectical dialogue, Parmenides. Parmenides is one of the dialogues of Plato. ...


But at least part of what Plato meant to convey is that River, as a universal, is a timeless idea in which the mutable rivers partially participate, as the material world is an imperfect mirror of the really real world. Plato, accordingly, took a realist position regarding universals. This Platonic realism, however, in denying full reality to the material world, differs sharply with modern forms of realism, which generally assert the reality of the external world and which in some versions deny the reality of ideas. Contemporary philosophical realism, also referred to as metaphysical realism, is the belief in a reality that is completely ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc. ... Platonic realism is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals after the Greek philosopher Plato who lived between c. ... Contemporary philosophical realism, also referred to as metaphysical realism, is the belief in a reality that is completely ontologically independent of our conceptual schemes, linguistic practices, beliefs, etc. ...


Plato's student, Aristotle, disagreed with both Plato and Heraclitus. Aristotle transformed Plato's forms into "formal causes," the blueprints implicit in material things. Where Plato idealized geometry, Aristotle practiced biology, and his thinking always returns to living beings. Aristotle (Greek: Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. ... Calabi-Yau manifold Geometry (Greek γεωμετρία; geo = earth, metria = measure) is a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, and relative position of figures and with properties of space. ... Biology studies the variety of life (clockwise from top-left) E. coli, tree fern, gazelle, Goliath beetle Biology (from Greek: βίος, bio, life; and λόγος, logos, knowledge), also referred to as the biological sciences, is the study of living organisms utilizing the scientific method. ...


Consider an oak tree. This is a member of a species, and it has much in common with all the oak trees of generations past, and all those that shall come. Its universal, its oakness, is a part of it. Accordingly, Aristotle was much more sanguine than either Heraclitus or Plato about coming to know the sensible world. A biologist can study oak trees and learn about oakness, finding the intelligible order within the sensible world. Such views made Aristotle a realist as to universals, but a new sort of realist. Some might call this view moderate realism. Species See List of Quercus species The term oak can be used as part of the common name of any of several hundred species of trees and shrubs in the genus Quercus (from Latin oak tree), and some related genera, notably Cyclobalanopsis and Lithocarpus. ... Moderate realism as a position in the debate on the metaphysics of universals holds that there is no realm in which universals exist, but rather universals are located in space and time wherever they are manifest. ...


Medieval times

Medieval realism

The problem of universals reemerged in medieval Western philosophy, but initially in a truncated, confused form. Before the twelfth century, Christian philosophers of the West had no direct access to the epistemology and metaphysics of either Plato or Aristotle.[1] Plato's ideas were available only in their neo-Platonic form, as further filtered primarily through the interpretations of St. Augustine (354-430) and the writer known as Dionysius the Areopagite (late fifth century, also referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius).[2] Some of Aristotle's logical works were translated into Latin by the Roman philosopher Boëthius (480-524), and with Boethius' commentaries became required reading in early medieval curricula.[3] Boethius, however, died before finishing more than a fraction of his grand project of translating the complete works of both Plato and Aristotle.[4] As a result, it was not until the translations and commentaries of Islamic scholars, especially Averroes, became available in the thirteenth century, that the Greeks' treatment of universals became fully accessible and could be reintegrated into Western philosophy. Philosophy seated between the seven liberal arts – Picture from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad von Landsberg (12th century) Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Europe and the Middle East in the era now known as medieval or the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Roman... For the first Archbishop of Canterbury, see Saint Augustine of Canterbury. ... Boethius teaching his students (initial in a 1385 Italian manuscript of the Consolation of Philosophy). ... For people named Islam, see Islam (name). ... Ibn Rushd, known as Averroes (1126 – December 10, 1198), was an Andalusian-Arab philosopher and physician, a master of philosophy and Islamic law, mathematics, and medicine. ...


Nonetheless, the two extremes of ultra-realism and nominalism reemerged in embryonic form, as early as the ninth century.[5]


Thomas Aquinas made it his personal mission to reconcile Aristotle's philosophy with Roman Catholic faith. As part of this task, in De Ente et Essentia he restated Aristotle's views on essence, or universals. Saint Thomas Aquinas, O.P.(also Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino; c. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ...


"This nature" he said, meaning a universal, "has a dual being: one in singular things, another in the soul, and both draw accidents to that nature just mentioned. In singular things it has, after all, a multiple being through the diversity of those singular things. But nevertheless is the being of those things not compulsive for that nature, according to its first consideration, namely the absolute."


In other words, oakness exists in the particular trees, as well as in the soul of the biologist studying them. The "being in the things is not compulsive" in that the form itself, oakness, doesn't change though particular oaks die.


Medieval nominalism

As the Middle Ages waned and the Renaissance approached, some European intellectuals switched their allegiance to nominalism. The new Heraclitus of this period was William of Ockham. "I maintain", he wrote, "that a universal is not something real that exists in a subject ... but that it has a being only as a thought-object in the mind [objectivum in anima]." As a general rule, Ockham disbelieved in any entities that were not necessary for explanations. Accordingly, he wrote, there is no reason to believe that there is an entity called "humanity" that resides inside Socrates. Nothing further is explained by saying that. This is in accord with the analytical method which has since come to be called Ockham's razor, the principle that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible. The Renaissance (French for rebirth, or Rinascimento in Italian), was a cultural movement in Italy (and in Europe in general) that began in the late Middle Ages, and spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century. ... William of Ockham (also Occam or any of several other spellings, IPA: ) (c. ... Occams Razor (also Ockhams Razor or any of several other spellings), is a principle attributed to the 14th century English logician and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham that forms the basis of methodological reductionism, also called the principle of parsimony or law of economy. ...


Conceptualism, a third way

A position subsequently identified as conceptualism was formulated by Pierre Abelard. This advertises itself as a middle way between nominalism and realism. There is something in common between like individuals, but it is a concept in the mind, not an objective reality. Conceptualism is a doctrine in philosophy intermediate between nominalism and realism, that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality. ... Pierre Abélard (in English, Peter Abelard) or Abailard (1079 - April 21, 1142) was a French scholastic philosopher. ...


Critics argue that conceptualist approaches like Abelard's only answer the psychological question of universals. If the same concept is correctly[6] and non-arbitrarily applied to two individuals, there must be some resemblance or shared property between the two individuals that justifies their falling under the same concept, and that is just the metaphysical problem that universals were brought in to address, the starting-point of the whole problem. If resemblances between individuals are asserted, conceptualism becomes moderate realism; if they are denied, it collapses into nominalism.[7] Moderate realism as a position in the debate on the metaphysics of universals holds that there is no realm in which universals exist, but rather universals are located in space and time wherever they are manifest. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ...


Modern times

George Berkeley, best known for his empiricism, was also an advocate of an extreme nominalism. Indeed, he disbelieved even in the possibility of a general thought as a psychological fact. It is impossible to imagine a man, the argument goes, unless one has in mind a very specific picture of one who is either tall or short, European or Asian, blue-eyed or brown-eyed, etc. When one thinks of a triangle, likewise, it is always obtuse, or right-angled, or acute. There is no mental image of a triangle in general. Not only, then, do general terms fail to correspond to extra-mental realities, they don't correspond to thoughts either. George Berkeley (IPA: , Bark-Lee) (12 March 1685 – 14 January 1753), also known as Bishop Berkeley, was an influential Irish philosopher whose primary philosophical achievement is the advancement of a theory he called immaterialism (later referred to as subjective idealism by others). ... In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ... A triangle. ...


Berkeleyan nominalism contributed to the same thinker's critique of the possibility of matter. In the climate of English thought in the period following Isaac Newton's great contributions to physics, there was much discussion of a distinction between primary qualities and secondary qualities. The primary qualities were supposed to be true of material objects in themselves (size, position, momentum) whereas the secondary qualities were supposed to be more subjective (color and sound). But on Berkeley's view, just as it is meaningless to speak of triangularity in general aside from specific figures, so it is meaningless to speak of mass in motion without knowing the color. If the color is in the eye of the beholder, so is the mass. Sir Isaac Newton FRS (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) [ OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727][1] was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist. ... The primary/secondary quality distinction is a conceptual distinction in epistemology and metaphysics, concerning the nature of reality. ... Look up position in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about momentum in physics. ... Color is an important part of the visual arts. ... Sound is a disturbance of mechanical energy that propagates through matter as a wave. ...


John Stuart Mill discussed the problem of universals in the course of a book that eviscerated the philosophy of Sir William Hamilton. Mill wrote, "The formation of a Concept does not consist in separating the attributes which are said to compose it from all other attributes of the same object, and enabling us to conceive those attributes, disjoined from any others. We neither conceive them, nor think them, nor cognize them in any way, as a thing apart, but solely as forming, in combination with numerous other attributes, the idea of an individual object." John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 8 May 1873), British philosopher, political economist civil servant, and Member of Parliament, was an influential liberal thinker of the 19th century. ... Sir William Hamilton, Bart (March 8, 1788 - May 6, 1856) was a Scottish metaphysician. ...


At this point in his discussion he seems to be siding with Berkeley. But he proceeds to concede under some verbal camouflage, that Berkeley's position is impossible, and that every human mind performs the trick Berkeley thought impossible.


"But, though meaning them only as part of a larger agglomeration, we have the power of fixing our attention on them, to the neglect of the other attributes with which we think them combined. While the concentration of attention lasts, if it is sufficiently intense, we may be temporarily unconscious of any of the other attributes, and may really, for a brief interval, have nothing present to our mind but the attributes constituent of the concept."


In other words, we may be "temporarily unconscious" of whether an image is white, black, or yellow and concentrate our attention on the fact that it is a man, and on just those attributes necessary to identify it as a man (but not as any particular one). It may, then, have the significance of a universal of manhood.


The 19th century American logician Charles Peirce developed his own views on the problem of universals in the course of a review of an edition of the writings of George Berkeley. Peirce begins with the observation that "Berkeley's metaphysical theories have at first sight an air of paradox and levity very unbecoming to a bishop." He includes among these paradoxical doctrines Berkeley's denial of "the possibility of forming the simplest general conception." Peirce responded to this paradox in the way that one might expect from a man known as the father of pragmatism. He wrote that if there is some mental fact that works in practice the way that a universal would, that fact is a universal. "If I have learned a formula in gibberish which in any way jogs my memory so as to enable me in each single case to act as though I had a general idea, what possible utility is there in distinguishing between such a gibberish ... and an idea?" Peirce also held as a matter of ontology that what he called "thirdness," the more general facts about the world, are extra-mental realities. Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Charles Sanders Peirce (IPA: /pɝs/), (September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American polymath, physicist, and philosopher, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ... Plato (Left) and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome) Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world. ... Pragmatism is a philosophic school that originated in the late nineteenth century with Charles Sanders Peirce, who first stated the pragmatic maxim. ...


William James learned pragmatism, this way of understanding an idea by its practical effects, from his friend Peirce, but he gave it new significance. (Too new for Peirce's taste -- he came to complain that James had "kidnapped" the term, and to call himself a "pragmaticist" instead.) Although James certainly agreed with Peirce and against Berkeley that general ideas exist as a psychological fact, he was a nominalist in his ontology. "From every point of view," he wrote, "the overwhelming and portentous character ascribed to universal conceptions is surprising. Why, from Plato and Aristotle, philosophers should have vied with each other in scorn of the knowledge of the particular, and in adoration of that of the general, is hard to understand, seeing that the more adorable knowledge ought to be that of the more adorable things, and that the things of worth are all concretes and singulars. The only value of universal characters is that they help us, by reasoning, to know new truths about individual things." This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Time Saving Truth from Falsehood and Envy, François Lemoyne, 1737 For other uses, see Truth (disambiguation). ...


Contemporary realists' answers

There are at least three ways in which a realist might try to answer James' challenge of explaining the reason why universal conceptions are more lofty than those of particulars -- there is the moral/political answer, the mathematical/scientific answer, and the anti-paradoxical answer. Each has contemporary or near contemporary advocates.


In 1948 Richard M. Weaver, a conservative political philosopher, wrote Ideas Have Consequences, a book in which he diagnosed what he believed had gone wrong with the modern world, leading indeed to the two world wars that dominated the first half of the 20th century. The problem was, in his words, "the fateful doctrine of nominalism." Year 1948 (MCMXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display the 1948 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Richard Malcolm Weaver, Jr (March 3, 1910, Asheville, North Carolina – April 9, 1963, Chicago) was an American scholar who taught English at the University of Chicago. ... Ideas Have Consequences (1948), a book by Richard M. Weaver, had a good deal of influence stating a nostalgic, agrarian variant of political conservatism. ...


Western civilization, Weaver wrote, succumbed to a powerful temptation in the 14th century, the time of William of Ockham, and has paid dearly for it since. "The defeat of logical realism in the great medieval debate was the crucial event in the history of Western culture; from this flowed those acts which issue now in modern decadence."


Roger Penrose contends that the foundations of mathematics can't be understood absent the Platonic view that "mathematical truth is absolute, external, and eternal, and not based on man-made criteria ... mathematical objects have a timeless existence of their own...." Sir Roger Penrose, OM, FRS (born 8 August 1931) is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. ... // Philosophy of mathematics is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of mathematics. ...


Nino Cocchiarella, professor emeritus of philosophy at Indiana University, has maintained that realism is the best response to certain logical paradoxes to which nominalism leads. This is the argument, for example, of his paper "Logical Atomism, Nominalism, and Modal Logic," Synthese (June 1975). Note that in a sense Professor Cocchiarella has adopted platonism for anti-platonic reasons. Plato, as one sees in the dialogue Parmenides, was willing to accept a certain amount of paradox with his forms. Cocchiarella adopts the forms to avoid paradox. Nino Cocchiarella (1933 - ), long a professor at Indiana University, developed a reputation in logical philosophy. ... Indiana University is the principal campus of the Indiana University system. ... Year 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...


See also

Philosophy Portal

As used in philosophy, in general, an object is something that can have properties and relations. ... Conceptualism is a doctrine in philosophy intermediate between nominalism and realism, that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality. ... In philosophy, nominalism is the theory that abstract terms, general terms, or universals do not represent objective real existents, but are merely names, words, or vocal utterances (flatus vocis). ... In philosophy, an object is a thing, an entity, or a being. ... Objectivisms epistemology, like the other branches of Objectivism, was present in some form ever since the publication of Atlas Shrugged. ... // Philosophy of mathematics is the branch of philosophy that studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implications of mathematics. ... According to Platonic realism, universals exist in a realm (often so called) that is separate from space and time; one might say that universals have a sort of ghostly or heavenly mode of existence, but, at least in more modern versions of Platonism, such a description is probably more misleading... Realism is the modern philosophical doctrine, opposed to nominalism, that universals exist independently of their being thought. ... Universals (used as a noun) are either properties, relations, or types, but not classes. ... Image File history File links Socrates. ...

References

  1. ^ David Knowles, The Evolution of Medieval Thought, Vintage, New York, 1962, pp. 109-10.
  2. ^ F. C. Copleston, A History of Medieval Philosophy, Harper & Row, New York, 1972, pp. 27-54.
  3. ^ Knowles, pp. 53, 74.
  4. ^ Ibid., p. 52; Copleston, p. 54.
  5. ^ Copleston, pp. 69-70.
  6. ^ 'As tidy as [conceptualism] seems, it too suffers from obvious problems. To see this, we need simply realize that concepts can be misapplied in some cases, such as when we say of a cat that it is a dog. And of course, misapplied concepts explain nothing deep about generality. Conceptualism's appeal to concept application must concern only correct concept application. As such, it is fair to ask, "What makes it the case that the concept red is rightly applied to both a and b, but not of some third individual, c?" To treat this fact as brute and inexplicable is to revert to problematic Predicate Nominalism. So it seems the Conceptualist must say that the concept red applies to a and b, but not c, because a and b share a common feature, a feature c lacks. Otherwise, the application of red is unconstrained by the individuals to which it applies. But simply noting that a and b resemble each other isn't going to help, because that just is the fact we originally sought to explain, put differently. The Conceptualist might now say that a and b share a property. But if this isn't to amount to a restatement of the original datum, it must now be interpreted as the claim that some entity is in both a and b. That, of course, turns our supposed Conceptualist strategy back into Realism.'Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  7. ^ 'With a Kantian alternative rejected, people like Rand, Hicks, and Kelley are left with a Conceptualism that logically reduces to Nominalism and a kind of metaphysical realism that will generate all the usual Cartesian paradoxes.The Friesian School'

David Knowles (Studley, Warwickshire 1896-1974) was an English Benedictine monk of Downside Abbey and historian. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Medieval Problem of Universals (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) (14734 words)
But then, all universals in the understanding would have to be false representations of their things; therefore, no universal knowledge would be possible, whereas our considerations started out precisely from the existence of such knowledge, as seems to be clear, e.g., in the case of geometrical knowledge.
Nevertheless, placing universal ideas in the divine mind as the archetypes of creation, this conception can still do justice to the Platonic intuition that what accounts for the necessary, universal features of the ephemeral particulars of the visible world is the presence of some universal exemplars in the source of their being.
In fact, the famous problem of the plurality vs. unity of substantial forms may also be regarded as a dispute over whether the common natures signified by the substantial predicates on the Porphyrian tree in the category of substance are distinct or the same in the same individual.
Aristotle's theory of universals - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (660 words)
Aristotle thought—to put it in a not-very-enlightening way—that universals are simply types, properties, or relations that are common to their various instances.
To further flesh out Aristotle's theory of universals, it is useful to consider how the theory might satisfy the constraints on theories of universals listed in the problem of universals article.
Universals must be awfully strange entities if exactly the same universal can exist in many places and times at once, or so one might think.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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