Realism In Universals – Explaining The Importance Of Invoking Universals When Describing Two From A Realists Perspective


From a metaphysical perspective, the problem of invoking the Universals is directly related to whether or not properties do exist. In this particular case, properties are used to refer to attributes that entities share or common among both. It is these qualities that we refer to as Universals. They are mind-independent entities that differ greatly from the particulars that individuals have and endeavor to provide a clear explanation as to why a qualitative identity relationship exists between two objects or why one individual is the splitting image of another (Porter, 2014, p. 5). A practical example in explaining this phenomenon can entail the use of a green apple and grape. What these two objects have in common is the green color and that can be traced back to them sharing a Universal. Therefore, in this case, similar individuals are entities that happen to be similar in virtue. In the case of a green apple and grape, the universal green is in two places at the same time, especially if they are both in the same locality. Such a position is often viewed as being controversial in certain academic circles as Universals now seem to differ greatly when compared to these individuals. The properties, in this case, include gender (whether male or fame), human beings, attributes such as being taller than, small or big. A common question posed is whether there is need to invoke universalism in one’s quest of explaining the attributes of two objects. In this essay, the main discussion will endeavor to answer this question in positive light using reality as a conduit to its subsequent inference.

First and foremost, Realism accepts wholly that Universals are a reality and they do exist. To this effect, genuineness is present when dealing with the general which means that there is harmony in nature’s true form. While arguing from a Realist’s point of view, it is imperative to underscore the vitality of permitting Universals as a reality in the world view held by an individual (Armstrong, 2007, p.42). Failure to observe this stipulation would mean that it would prove difficult for apparent acts to be fundamentally explained even when it has already been established that authentic commonality is a reality of nature. In the course of one’s existence and experiencing what nature has to offer, properties are redistributed to those individuals that we meet. Furthermore, from a Realists vantage point, a discourse on whether the properties existent are shared is so necessary because, in reality, they do. It is for this reason that invoking Universals becomes central to explaining attributes that two objects possess in order to balance a mental Philosophical equation that could create a debacle if left hanging. It is a reality that Universal entities do exist and are contained in the properties of these two objects presented in the thesis statement. It is this precedent that gives Realists and all Philosophers that subscribe to this school of thought, the right to invoke Universals in their arguments.

Plato famously coined the term “Form” when referring to individuals first accepting the existence of an additional entity, besides those that are the spitting image of the one presently in sight. It is only after accepting such a reality that we can authoritatively elucidate the qualitative identity of particular existential individuals (Craig, 2003, p. 23). Here, we come back to the example given in the introduction of two green objects; a grapefruit and an apple. The main reason as to why both objects possess the green color is because, in Plato’s words, a Form of green is the common denominator. It is for this reason that the green color is able to be manifested in both objects simultaneously. In the example given above, three different modules are encapsulated into the argument; an individual, the particular fruits mentioned, the green color that finds its abode in both fruits and the Form of Green whose manifests itself boldly in the green of the fruits. Before delving into invoking Universals in explaining properties of two objects, we must first understand the attribute (s) of Form according to Plato’s view (Metaphysics and Scientific Realism, 2016). Plato’s position on this contentious issue was the all Forms were immaterial in nature and therefore exist in different realm that is outside time and space. A postulation made by Plato suggests that because Form is abstract its now has to depend heavily on invoking Universals to explain the properties of these two objects under scrutiny if a conclusive answer is to be provided.

It is also quite vital to invoke Universals when describing the properties of the two object because they (Universals) are essentially abstract objects. Whereas a definite green fruit can be referred to as a particular, it is important to note that its greenness is a universal construct. The main reason why it is quite imperative to invoke Universals during one’s quest to describe two objects lays in the fact that Universals directly correspond to properties! The greenness, for instance, is the fruits property of simply being green. A wide range of objects have thus particular attribute; green grass, green birds, green Liana stalks and the green ocean. In all these cases, these objects exemplify greenness. Universals should always take precedence universalia antes res (Novotny, 2013, p. 307). Universals are thus expected to always come before the particulars that an object holds. The existence of these Universals, as mentioned earlier, is in a different realm where they are autonomous and can therefore not interact with the particles. It is possible for the instantiation of particulars to come into effect, courtesy of these Universals. The suggestion here is that the in the Universals are the two particulars have in common. In explaining this further, we use a dog as a specimen. In using instantiation as our rung to the top of the explanation, it is the property of “being a dog” that makes a dog what it is. In this case, if universals are used it is beneficial as it elaborates on what is common among the two. It is also important to note that Universals are vital in our describing the properties of objects as it is a difficult task for any average human being to explain their ability to generalize, recognize or even how they categorize the properties that objects hold and their particulars.

Universals are imperative in describing the properties of objects as any classification made by a human being is often not subjective. At the same time, the properties of these objects are individual and also happen to be very particular. Resemblance does not occur singularly and from experience, we all know that it is an issue involving two particulars that typify a similar property. It is with such an explanation that we can now begin to understand why it is rather simple for human beings to be familiar with a new example once it is presented to them. If a man from Holland who had hitherto never encountered an orange fruit is able to point out its properties, i.e that it is orange in color, it is because they had come across those very properties, albeit other particulars (possibly through their official national color). Universals do not exist first in one object then another as it is clearly exemplified in the existence o both objects.  The approach used was to describe them in parts then the very notion of the Universals would be undermined. If one was to make a detailed inventory of the most important entities, in reality, individuals would certainly have to be included (Kim, Sosa, & Rosenkrantz, 2009, p. 139). The main reason is their singularity in existence. They can supersede their existence over time but this can only be done at a particular time and at one place. The properties that individuals possess are a requirement and over time, they are known to vary. It is important to first come to terms with the Universals because, over time, the qualities (properties) of these objects can change drastically. Now, let us go back to the green apple and grape example. Truth of the matter is that over time, these two fruits may ripen and change color to a scarlet red. A large majority of people agree that the two fruits do exist, but it is the entities in their properties that can change and pose a difficult Philosophical question.

In conclusion, the only feasible way to correctly describe the properties of an object is to first invoke Universals. It is also important to note that this point of view is further bolstered by realism as the argument develops a viable idea, through Science, that the Universals actually do exist. Prima facie, there is no reason why anyone should object this position and it is therefore prudent that we believe in Universals and always invoke them when describing the properties that objects possess. Holding a Universal viewpoint is not as easy as one might contend because of the rigidity of the widely held world views concerning reality. All in all, it is through the a Universal scope that we are able to see the world, nature and our environment for what they really are.

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