Philosophy: Universals and concrete objects co-exist

Topic: The world contains not only concrete individuals but the properties of those individuals and various abstract objects as well. Clarification: The world contains universals in addition to concrete objects/individuals.

-Universal: An abstract relation, type, property or associated idea.

-Abstract: an object is abstract if it lacks a spatial location / lacks causal powers.

-Concrete: an object/individual is concrete if it has a spatial location.

-Plato’s theory of forms: There is an abstract form for every object or quality in reality. Under the condition that the form for an object must exist, that object that exists is called a particular. The form could be considered a type of universal, the particular is concrete.

-Aristotle’s causation: formal cause, blueprints implicit in all things material. Material cause: that out of what an object is made of. Efficient cause: how that object came to be. Final cause: The purpose of that object’s existence.

-Realism vs. Nominalism – realism is a philosophical belief that universals do exist and that what we are experiencing is an approximation of reality. Nominalism is the belief that universals do not exist, only as names. The universal realm, that exists outside of space and time is hard to believe. Conceptualism asserts that universals exist only in the mind and do not exist in external reality.

Thoughts: The idea of universals is a very abstract concept because universals do not seem to have an existence in space-time. They exist only in ideas, but these ideas are shared and common throughout reality. The idea of a human is a universal, but an actual human being such as me is a particular, an instantiated version of the universal. Universals could be considered a set of properties specific to an object or individual. How does a child know that both his father and his mother are both humans? Because they share specific qualities that make them human (ie. Emotions, senses, bipedal, free will). Likewise a scientist can tell one breed of birds from another because they share a common set of properties: a blue jay and a penguin look nothing alike but they are both birds because they possess wings, lay eggs, and etc. universals seem to transcend space/time. The idea of numbers and mathematics are universals, they have no spatial qualities, but once we write 2+2=4, the universal is instantiated. They exist in reality even though they cannot be perceived through of the transference of ideas. Universals exist in the thoughts and minds of human beings, and come into existence through knowledge. This knowledge is learned a posteriori or a priori. An example of the first being basic knowledge such as types of animals, colors, musical instruments, geometric shapes, etc. These basic ideas are commonly taught to children early on so they can associate with them throughout their life. It can also be learnt a priori, though not as specifically as being taught them. A child will know the difference between a dog and a human even if they don’t know what a dog or human is. There are very distinguishing characteristics. Even on a children’s TV show, a talking dog that stands on his hind legs for example, is still distinguished from a human, despite being anthropomorphized. Once a universal is established in the mind, it becomes a part of the knowledge, which is a part of reality because it is instantiated in the form of books, gossip, shows, internet, etc. This is how a universal comes into existence in reality. If reality is defined as everything that is perceived, then universals would not exist. However, if we redefine reality as everything that we know, then universals certainly do have a place in the world. Certainly the world is more than just what we perceive and certainly my own thinking and intuition is real and should be thusly be part of the world as should universals be.





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