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Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


L ogic, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind Something is universal if it pertains to all members of a class or is unlimited, such as a universal law. In logic, universal statements (A and E statements in traditional logic) are contrasted with particular statements (I and O statements). A universal expresses abstract features, such as justice, beauty, wisdom, and goodness, and such universals give rise to many major and persisting problems in the history of philosophy. The concept of a universal can be traced to Plato 's conception of idea or form ( eidos ) and Aristotle 's katholou. Ideas or forms are the common characteristics which many particulars share and which are the object of knowledge. Katholou [Greek kata , belonging to + holou , the whole] is defined as being predicated of many, while a particular is predicated of nothing else. Both Plato and Aristotle contrasted universals with particulars. Plato's theory of ideas is regarded as the first and most penetrating discussion of the problems of universals, although Aristotle's treatment of the problem from the point of view of predication is currently widely followed. Since Plato and Aristotle, the debate about the nature and status of universals has run through the whole history of philosophy. Many rival theories have been proposed, the most important of which include realism, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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