Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Universals

  • Andrew W. Arlig
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_510-2

Abstract

Medieval discussions of universals are some of the most sophisticated and sustained discussions in the history of this topic. This article focuses on medieval discussions of the ontological status of universals. Speculations about the existence of universal things were prompted by what was said (and what was not said) in ancient Greek treatises on logic and metaphysics. Throughout the medieval period, philosophers divided roughly into those who believed that there was some mind-independent reality that was common to many particulars (i.e., realism) and those who believed that universality was a mind-dependent property (i.e., anti-realism or nominalism). Anti-realists critiqued contemporary versions of realism. Realists responded to the anti-realists with ever more sophisticated accounts of the real basis for predication and classification.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew W. Arlig
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBrooklyn College of The City University of New YorkBrooklynUSA