Footnote to “Universals in Thought”

[1] The concepts of particular and universal are theoretical concepts introduced to perform an explanatory role. They are not found fully formed in our ordinary conceptual scheme. They should therefore be evaluated in terms of their theoretical utility, which may trump any feeling of metaphysical repugnance they evoke. It is notable that they pull in different directions–one towards the concrete, the other towards the abstract. This is why many philosophers have felt the need to choose between them rather than embrace them both. It is as if reality can’t make up its mind about what it prefers to be. Plato cleaved the world in two the better to explain its unity.

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