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Aristotelian Universals and Platonic Universals - Essay Example

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Aristotelian Universals and Platonic Universals

Conflict of Universals: Conflict of universals or problem of universals is quite a long debated issue among the philosophers. The basic point of argument remains the same whether the universals exist or not. There has always been an attempt to ' "account for the phenomenon of similarity or attribute agreement among things." Whether a table made of rock or a stone both are similar or both have attributive agreement, having the common characteristic of hardness. This problem has given birth to two different disciplines in philosophy, namely, Realism and Nominalism. The realists are of opinion that universals exist on account of attributive agreement and Nominnalists opine that universals are non existent because they cannot explain attributive agreement among particulars.
Platonic Universals: The idea of Platonic universals sometimes appears to be obscure or fruitless but his theory is one of the major foundations for epistemology and metaphysics. According to Plato, a universal is independent, non temporal and non spatial. A universal is something that cannot be perceived by senses and its knowledge comes through thought. The objects of thought that independently exist, establish the foundation for Platonic universals. ...
But this very attribute of greenness is not something tangible and it cannot be experienced through senses. But at the same time Plato also specified that the green color of grass is not the only virtue that distinguishes it from other green colored in the world. Grass is never a leaf of a tree. In addition to its greenness, the grass is grass due to its unique attributes. Thus, by adopting the theory of Platonic universals, an individual can make clear distinction between all particulars in the world.

Aristotelian Universals: Plato's disciple Aristotle came up with a very different idea about universals and the theory of Aristotelian universals produces a landmark solution to the problem of universals and conflict between realists and nominalists. According to Aristotle, universals can simply be classified into three categories, Relations, Types and Properties. The great philosopher further stated that universals exist in those places only where they are exemplified or instantiated and they only exist in things, never apart from things. Aristotle clearly stated that a universal is "'identical in each of its instances." So, in simple terms, Aristotle's theory says all green things in this universe are similar as there is a same universal or attribute, i.e greenness. This unique approach of Aristotelian theory removes several puzzles from the theories of universals in the metaphysical context.

First, according to Aristotle, universals can be exemplified several times. He repeatedly emphasizes over the conception of "'one and the same universal" that, according to him, can be witnessed in every particulars. Now at this point common perception experiences a problem. It is hard to believe for an ...Show more


A universal, according to metaphysics, is the common aspects among particular things in the world. With our common rationality, we term these aspects as features, characteristics or qualities. Philosophically, if we attempt to define a universal or universals, they can said to be recurrent or repeatable entities, which can be exemplified by different types of particular aspects…
Author : mhagenes
Aristotelian Universals and Platonic Universals
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