The problem of universals and its perceptual correlates

Synthese 35 (4):447 - 456 (1977)
Abstract
This paper deals with the philosophical questions which gave rise to the traditional realist theories of universals. The main thesis is that these same questions may also be interpreted as scientific-empirical questions. The study of these problems has begun only very recently and the relevance of the results for the traditional problem of intensional entities has only been remarked by few workers aware of the philosophical problem. The approach adopted here is that of regarding man as a perceptual system situated in an environment and showing certain capacities like perception of universals. The possible ways of access to these entities is discussed on the basis of some recent empirical findings related to perception. One conclusion is that in order to answer the basic philosophical question of how properties, particulars and propositions are perceived may be answered within the domains of science, accepting only the usual presuppositions used in it. Basically, such an approach sees the root of the problem in the great complexity of information processing involved in the actual perception of properties, particulars and propositions.
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