Philosophy 1020 Lecture 4: Lecture 14/01/2016 (Winter)

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Philosophy 1020
Universals
General
we navigate the world with the use of universals: ideas that go beyond particulars, in
terms of which particulars are described, identified, and related
particulars include colours, shapes (Hume); equality, uprightness, justness, health
(Plato)
but, though we encounter particulars through experience, experience cannot be the
source of our knowledge of universals
this is because:
1. the sense cannot be trusted (Plato)
2. our sensations are only of concrete particulars (Hume)
so our knowledge of universals must come from something other than sense perception
Plato:
from non-sensory access to “Forms”—abstract entities that exist outside of time and
space
Hume:
from an “operation of reason” through which we distinguish and sort the qualities of
particular all we have are particular things
particulars are all we have
bottom up
Russell:
Hume can perhaps account for some universals but not others: qualities (such as
whiteness), but not relations, such as “resembles” and “is north of”
theses are not in the mind
If X is north of Y, it would be so even if there were no minds
the relation “is north of” is neither is space nor in time, neither material; yet it is
something
Plato’s examples, recall, include both qualities (uprightness, goodness) and relations
(equality)
(at least there are) things like equality have relations, which cannot be explained, but the
colour blue is independent
has Russell identified a difference here?
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