• A. J. Ayer


The distinction between individuals and properties is a commonplace of logic; but it is easier to illustrate than to define. For instance, I am an individual, so is the after-image that I saw a moment ago, so is tomorrow’s sunrise, so is the French Revolution and the British Army, so is the collection of all the sheets of paper in this room. These entities are by no means all of the same logical type, but they are all contrasted with such things as being human, being extended, being combustible, redness, generalship, preceding, father-hood, being further from a given place than two other places are from one another, which, as qualities or relations, come under the heading of properties. It may be indeed that this distinction is not exhaustive. It would appear strange, for example, to speak of the liberal tradition, or the American Constitution, or the theory of relativity either as properties or as individuals. What might be claimed is that the statements which referred to such doubtful things as these could always be reformulated in such a way that everything that they mentioned fell clearly into one or other category; but, for the present, at least, this must be treated as an open question.


English Word Definite Description Personal Pronoun Complex Predicate American Constitution 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Ayer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordUK

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