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The Problem of Universals

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Zenoplata
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Posted 03/13/11 - 1:31 AM:
Subject: The Problem of Universals
One of the biggest questions within metaphysics is whether or not, and if they do, on what level do universals exist?

That is to say, is there a "redness" that exists independent from a stop sign which all items which are said to possess the quality of red draw upon?

Or do qualities of particular objects exist as "tropes"? Particular qualities assigned to each object. That is to say, a leaf possesses greenness, but that greenness is different than any other greenness which a particular thing possess.

Do qualities exist at all? Or are they just a product of human imagination. Can abstract things really exist? If so, is it different than the existence of particular objects?
Thinker13
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Posted 03/13/11 - 2:37 PM:

Zenoplata wrote:
One of the biggest questions within metaphysics is whether or not, and if they do, on what level do universals exist?

That is to say, is there a "redness" that exists independent from a stop sign which all items which are said to possess the quality of red draw upon?

Or do qualities of particular objects exist as "tropes"? Particular qualities assigned to each object. That is to say, a leaf possesses greenness, but that greenness is different than any other greenness which a particular thing possess.

Do qualities exist at all? Or are they just a product of human imagination. Can abstract things really exist? If so, is it different than the existence of particular objects?



There has been much discussion, on this very board, about these very subjects; but I find that my stance has not undergone much change in last few days. I doubt whether I have actually understood 'universals' but still, if I am pardoned for trying to attempt with a reply, without having understood it all fully; it is my assertion that there exists no way of accessing an 'objective' reality independent of the 'subject'. For me, there is no objective reality independent of 'me' , simply because whatever 'is' , is solely because 'I am'. There is no possible way to think of an existence independent of me because no matter how well described, it will always be an imaginary existence. So: I am the gateway, the alpha, the omega, the beta and gamma of all that exists.
libertygrl
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Posted 03/16/11 - 1:46 PM:

Z wrote:
Do qualities exist at all? Or are they just a product of human imagination

came across the following article today, and it reminded me of this topic:

caffertyfile.blogs.cnn.com/...there-no-looting-in-japan/

i'd say this is a fine testament to existence of certain qualities. short of attributing them as qualities of the people themselves, what other explanations could be suggested for such behavior?
libertygrl
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Posted 03/16/11 - 3:24 PM:

also, if it's to be assumed that such qualities are a product of human imagination, are we to believe then, that they're being projected upon objects which don't actually have those traits - collectively being imagined, as it were, in unison?
Monk2400
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Posted 03/17/11 - 11:04 AM:

Nothing inheres in the object because there is no object.

All appearances are phenomenal. All qualities are phenomenal. All phenomena exist in and through consciousness. There is no phenomena without a conscious observer.

We might ask therefore whether the qualities observed in appearances are repeatable patterns or whether they are indeed all tropes, that is, non-identical, totally unique qualities.

In the latter case the number of qualities contained in the phenomenal manifold is infinite. In this case there can be no universal truths; all statements that range over more than one single immediate condition are mere approximations.

In the former case the number and nature of qualities is limited, and appearances will be defined through repetition and combination of a small subset of essential qualities. This allows that certain relationships of quality can produce enduring or perennial appearances, and hence, that some statements can be universally true.

Now, even if we allow for an 'external world' as a source of data that informs the content of the phenomenal manifold, it stands that such a world will exist only as data, that is, in a very simple form, perhaps, for example, as a binary code. Even still it is problematic how such a code is received and processed and by what means. The relationship of consciousness to the external world is mysterious, if not inscrutable.

However, if we understand that all appearances are phenomenal, and only exist in the form that they are experienced in by consciousness, then there is no reason we shouldn't also suppose that there is a mechanism within consciousness that can generate patterns of quality.

The question of universals is a question of reductionism. Are there qualities that cannot be reduced? Or can everything be reduced to a simple form, e.g. to a mathematical code?

8)
henry quirk
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Posted 03/17/11 - 1:45 PM:

I think you're wrong on most of what you post above, Monk, but this conversation, this thread, is too much like a few others ('solipsism', for one) for me to fight this particular fight again so soon.

Thinker, in another thread, asked about or commented on his current lack of interest in in-forum debates.

For myself: while I thunder a bit here and there, mostly, I'm just plumb tired of the 'sound of my own voice'.

*shrug*
Monk2400
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Posted 03/17/11 - 3:57 PM:

well henry, you beat the drum of 'things are what they appear to be' but the arguments of modern philosophers are still as valid as ever viz. the idea of qualities and their reduction to simples.

The fact is that the world we perceive is a world we perceive not a world that is. Or, it is as it is in our mind's eye. To speak of what the world is 'really like' in and of itself is pretty much impossible. We can't transcend our subjectivity to even conclusively know that objects exist independently of our perceiving them let alone what sort of qualities they might possess in themselves outside of our peculiar form of perception of them.

At best you can say that some philosophical inquires aren't worth making for the practical man. Which is why real philosophers are rare indeed.

8)
henry quirk
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Posted 03/17/11 - 5:22 PM:

"At best you can say that some philosophical inquires aren't worth making for the practical man.'

No. What I can and already have said is that the world outside me is real and independent of me. What I can and already have said is that while my senses only offer me a portion of the world, the portion I discern is adequate and accurate enough for me to successfully navigate through and in the world.

*shrug*

Philosophical inquiry is fine; weighing angel farts is absurd.

#

"real philosophers are rare indeed"

Thank goodness for small miracles... wink
Monk2400
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Posted 03/18/11 - 1:26 AM:

What you can say is that [your belief is that] the world outside [you] is real and independent of [you]. And because the portion [of the world you] discern is adequate and accurate enough for [you] to [perceive that you] successfully navigate through and in the world, you don't need to think about it any further.

Nothing wrong with a practical attitude.

wink

It could well be that the simplest explanation is the right one anyway, only that philosophers like to find out the hard way, if possible.

8)
Thinker13
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Posted 03/18/11 - 4:52 AM:

Henry wrote:
Philosophical inquiry is fine; weighing angel farts is absurd.


I still recall that Mephiboseth ( am I spelling it correctly? ) used to have one of the sentences in his signature, by Henry, which was similar to it, in MPG. Do you recall that? laughing
henry quirk
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#11 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 03/18/11 - 8:44 AM:

To Monk: AAARRRGGH!

Your diplomacy and sensible curiosity irk me... wink

Good thing I like you, or, I'd have to kill you.

#

To Thinker: yeah, it was something about 'angel farts and ghost whispers'...sometimes, I turn a clever phrase... wink
libertygrl
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Posted 03/18/11 - 1:01 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
To Monk: AAARRRGGH!

Your diplomacy and sensible curiosity irk me... wink

Good thing I like you, or, I'd have to kill you.

oh my - whether liking or no liking, no killing please hug
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