Aristotle's Concept of the Universal

G. Olms (1988)
Some years ago Edward Regis, Jr. pointed to a serious gap in Aristotelian studies: "The centrality of the . . . 'problem of universals' to epistemology and metaphysics is hardly an issue for argument. Questions regarding the metaphysical status of universals and their relation to individuals, the process of 'concept formation,' and the epistemological function of universals in predication are classic ones in philosophy . . . In view of the contemporary interest in these problems as well as the numerous studies of other topics treated of by Aristotle, it is a matter for at least initial surprise that there exists no systematic account of his views on universals." This essay attempts to fill this gap in Aristotelian studies partially. ;Aristotle's view of the universal went through three phases, and the essay attempts to give a systematic account of his early concept of it, as well as briefer accounts of his middle and late views. His early concept may be defined as 'an existent by nature asserted of several existents'. The essay attempts to explain this concept by explicating the two major terms of its definition, 'an existent' and 'is asserted of'. 'An existent' is explained on the basis of his doctrine of the categories and 'is asserted of' on the basis of some fundamentals of his early theory of the simple statement. His middle view of the universal may be defined as 'an existent which by nature belongs to several existents'. According to his late view, however, the universal is a mere potency, no longer an actually existing thing. ;After its account of Aristotle's three views, the essay reconsiders the commonly-held view that he is a moderate realist, arguing that, although moderate realism can be truly ascribed to him, it gives us neither an accurate nor an adequate statement of the nature of his universal. It concludes by briefly tracing the movement of thought on universals in Socrates, Plato and Aristotle
Keywords Universals (Philosophy History
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Call number B485.B67 1988
ISBN(s) 3487079968  
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