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On 1/21/2018 at 6:51 PM, Eiuol said:

I already said I'm not saying universals don't exist. I know the usage here is non-standard (i.e. Rand's meaning), but you certainly can see what I mean. I keep going to the binding part, because it's the only way I can explain why I don't reject universals. If 1) I point to the world, 2) bind particulars, and 3) the particulars ALL share some feature, this is a universal. The only non-standard part seems to  be that I think 2 is epistemic, but that doesn't hurt it. If you don't get what I mean, just ask. Or just expand on how universals work (it might end up that there's a terminological difference but not one of meaning). Make a positive case so I can analyze an alternative.

Alright here is an example:

Suppose we have an apple which is red. Now consider the true statement, "The apple is red." This sentence identifies a fact. It is a true statement about a real thing having a real property, because the apple would still be there and would still be red even if no one was there to look at it.

The subject of the sentence is "the apple" and it refers to the apple. Furthermore, the apple is a real thing to which the subject of the sentence refers. The aspect of reality that "the apple" refers to is a particular.

And what about the predicate? Surely, if the sentence identifies a fact, then the predicate must also refer to some aspect of reality. The aspect of reality that the predicate "is red" refers to is a universal.

Take note of the differences between the particular and the universal. The particular is always the subject of a sentence. Things may be "said of" it, but it may not be "said of" other things. For example, it doesn't make sense to say that "The dog the apple".  Furthermore, it exists in exactly one place at any one time. The universal, by contrast, is always the predicate of a sentence. But it may exist identically in multiple situations. For example, it could also be true that "The fire-hydrant is red." I say "exists identically" because when I say that the fire-hydrant is red and that the apple is also red, I am not referring to different kinds of redness or different reds. I mean that both things have the same color.

Thus, reality is not a mere assortment of particulars. It is a structure consisting of particulars "connected" to each other by universals (not only properties but also relations are universals, e.g. "The apple is above the table.").

Facts are the elements of this structure, and true sentences are true by virtue of correctly representing this structure, that is, by identifying facts.

If universals did not exist in this sense, but were merely mental-objects such as concepts, then it would make no sense to say that the statement "The apple is red" is true in a mind-independent way. For if there were no minds, then there would be no "is red".

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8 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

. . . For example, it could also be true that "The fire-hydrant is red." I say "exists identically" because when I say that the fire-hydrant is red and that the apple is also red, I am not referring to different kinds of redness or different reds. I mean that both things have the same color.

This seems a fair presentation of the case for metaphysical universals.  Are these your own views?  You did use the pronoun "I" a lot.

'Redness' encompasses a small range of hues and shades, thus two things that are red do not necessarily have the same color.   

Since it is now known scientifically how color perception works,  it is in fact the case that without human minds and eyes there would be no 'redness'.  All that exists metaphysically are wavelengths and power spectrums.  'Redness' is a human experience of reality but it is subject to perceptual distortions.  Light at 700 nanometers exists but that is subject to doppler shift.   

The eye, the light, the object reflecting or emitting the light, and the environment through which the light travels are all in relation to each other and it is absurd to claim redness is universal in any sense except as an epistemological construct common to all humans except the colorblind.   The colorblind make hash of the any claim to a metaphysical universal, because a metaphysical universal ought to be known to all people in the same way.  An epistemic universal can be personal as in one mind reusing the same concept of color as it is encountered at various different times and contexts.  Rand did claim that the primary purpose of language was to enable conceptual thought, which occurs in one mind, rather than communication between minds. 

Edited by Grames
edit in BOLD

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On 1/20/2018 at 8:41 PM, intrinsicist said:

I am arguing for the metaphysical existence of universals, i.e. existents which are not concrete, physical objects extended in space.

You are asserting the opposite position that I am taking. I've made a number of arguments for my position throughout this thread, so please take a look and let me know what you think of them.

SpookyKitty seems to be the only one who has clearly understood what I'm saying so far.

If your question is how anyone can say that an entity/attribute belongs to a specific category if the criteria for belonging doesn't exist "out there", I'd say your question is wrong. The implicit assumption in your question is that similarity doesn't exist "out there" but only in your perception (and hence if classification is on the basis of similarity, not something identical which exists in objects, that is meaningless). This is wrong. Similarity has both a metaphysical and epistemological meaning. If you ask what makes things similar, in reality, that has a scientific meaning that is enough to justify your ability to state facts about them.

For example, consider the universal attribute of length. What criteria exists "out there" that qualifies objects with different lengths to be said to possess the same attribute (length)? The capacity to be measured against a metre scale (or its equivalent). What makes objects possess the universal, length? The capacity to be measured against a metre scale (or its equivalent). This is what makes the objects similar. Similarity is a metaphysical fact. However, at the end of the day, the identities of these objects are only similar, not necessarily identical. You can say that objects are similar (as a metaphysical fact) without them possessing a single identical characteristic.

In the realm of identifying colors of an object, the yardstick that you use is your perception. An object is measured by your perception and you check whether the colours are similar in the scale of your perception. Just because the yardstick that you use is your perception does not make it primarily epistemological (as you seem to think). It is as valid as a metre scale and just as scientific and metaphysical.

This is the metaphysical validity of similarity: the capacity to be measured against a standard. It doesn't matter if the yardstick is a metre scale or your perception. Your perception exists "out there" as much as a metre scale and isn't any less valid as a yardstick for linear measurements (and surely not just epistemological). The key is to reduce an attribute so that you can speak of it in degrees (linear measurements). The yardsticks may not be mixed. There is no dichotomy between the validity of yardsticks of perception and the ones used for scientific measurements (the latter maybe more precise).

The capacity to be measured against a standard is an invariant fact. It is the metaphysical fact used to judge similarity. Color perception and metre scales are two different standards that may be used. Your criticism that one cannot state facts about universals if they do not exist out there qua universals is invalid.

There are so many other considerations about the validity of Universals as Rand defined it, but would take too long to post. The only important bits are: if identical abstract universals did exist out there, that makes the problem of universals trivial. In my opinion, a good statement of the problem of universals is: "if things in reality aren't identical, how can they be considered to belong to the same category" (for eg, people may be considered to belong to the same race even if they do not possess a single identical gene that other races do not have). Also it is an absurd claim to suggest that things in reality are pre-classified for the sake of humans (which is what universals existing inside objects would amount to). Humans can classify objects without that classification already existing out there in nature. The classification would still be valid and still capture a metaphysical fact about the object.

Universals qua universals don't exist. Universals exist as instances (but not inside objects). Similarity is a metaphysical fact (which is just as valid metaphysically (as a fact "out there" about the object) even if you simply use perception).

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Actually, an accurate comparison is between length and colour. An object can possess length (has the capacity to be measured using a metre scale or its equivalent) or colour (has the capacity to be measured using color perception). Once you have determined the similarity and established the universal, you can state more specific things: you can say that the object is long or short, or that it is red or green. Here, you're talking about a range of measurements. However, just as objects don't need to be identically long (for "that object is long" to be a valid statement), red objects don't need to be identically red (they can be any shade of red. Shades of red exist [shades of red are still more precise range of values but still not identical, although they may become indistinguishable at some point]).

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Take a step back away from the intricacies of the discussion thus far.  Anyone can try to answer.

In Objectivism, and most other theories of epistemology, its theory of concept formation is normative.  Many concepts and methods of forming are possible but a particular method is advocated as best.   Are there metaphysical universals for badly formed concepts?  How could we know?

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2 hours ago, Grames said:

Are there metaphysical universals for badly formed concepts?  How could we know?

We know it (realize it) when it does not fit, does not correspond to reality when it is applied
The badly formed concept would in a sense be a badly formed definition.
A badly formed concept does not explain reality due to the contradiction(s).
It would come across as inapplicable or nonsensical.

If the concept "taste" is defined as having a length (badly formed), one cannot measure sourness (or sweetness) with a measuring stick. But anything that has length can be measured (so the contradiction).

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

It would come across as inapplicable or nonsensical.

Don't the concepts of "applicable" and "sensible" and their negations assume a certain epistemological theory?  In other words aren't you arguing in circles?

And, where did the metaphysical universal come into play in recognizing that tastes aren't measured by their lengths?

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30 minutes ago, Grames said:

Don't the concepts of "applicable" and "sensible" and their negations assume a certain epistemological theory?  In other words aren't you arguing in circles?

Then I would argue that we "know"/recognize sameness and we "know"/recognize difference as self-evident/direct/perceptual. A concept is not required at that basic stage. I believe that we have a negative reaction to something that is the same and different (nonsensical). That is where questioning starts.

Perceptually speaking, isn't identicalness self-evident?

30 minutes ago, Grames said:

And, where did the metaphysical universal come into play in recognizing that tastes aren't measured by their lengths?

 

I didn't have "metaphysical universal" in mind, I was only trying to illustrate a "malformed concept" and how you could know it is malformed.

All I can say about the existence of a "metaphysical universal" is that the fundamental objection is that it would have to have some sensory impact. People in this thread making the case for it, don't say "how we can sense" an abstraction. 

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On 1/23/2018 at 4:02 PM, SpookyKitty said:

The subject of the sentence is "the apple" and it refers to the apple. Furthermore, the apple is a real thing to which the subject of the sentence refers. The aspect of reality that "the apple" refers to is a particular.

And what about the predicate? Surely, if the sentence identifies a fact, then the predicate must also refer to some aspect of reality. The aspect of reality that the predicate "is red" refers to is a universal.

1

If one uses the definition of universals as you use it (a predicate), then I would agree. Without a proper predicate, a sentence would not refer to the right thing.

But a predicate is not necessarily a universal/commonality. Instead of the apple is red, it could be the apple is this one, the apple is Adam, the apple is California. 

One can take any sentence and say that if this word does not exist, the rest would not refer to what it should be referring to. You acknowledge that the whole sentence refers to a particular "out there". So the sentence is a thought (mental entity) that refers to something out there. (or tries to)

The problem of omissions in a thought/sentence not allowing it to correspond to metaphysical reality does not indicate ANYthing about metaphysical reality. The problem you are indicating is about the sentences and the words, an epistemological aspect of reality. But your take these necessities and superimpose them in a metaphysical context, in the real world out there. The real world out there does not go by these necessities.

You are using epistemological necessity in a metaphysical sense.

Quote

As far as metaphysical reality is concerned (omitting human actions from consideration, for the moment), there are no “facts which happen to be but could have been otherwise” as against “facts which must be.” There are only: facts which are. . . . Since things are what they are, since everything that exists possesses a specific identity, nothing in reality can occur causelessly or by chance. The nature of an entity determines what it can do and, in any given set of circumstances, dictates what it will do. The Law of Causality is entailed by the Law of Identity. Entities follow certain laws of action in consequence of their identity, and have no alternative to doing so. Metaphysically, all facts are inherent in the identities of the entities that exist; i.e., all facts are “necessary.” In this sense, to be is to be “necessary.” The concept of “necessity,” in a metaphysical context, is superfluous.

 

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology    Leonard Peikoff, “The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 108–109

A red apple is a red apple, an apple does not require red nor does red require an apple.
 

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54 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

If one uses the definition of universals as you use it (a predicate), then I would agree. Without a proper predicate, a sentence would not refer to the right thing.

But a predicate is not necessarily a universal/commonality. Instead of the apple is red, it could be the apple is this one, the apple is Adam, the apple is California.

Aristotle was the first to deal with this problem. He pointed out that ancient Greek (and also modern English) do not distinguish between the "is" of predication and the "is" of identity. When this distinction is made, the sentence "The apple is red" is understood as

red(apple),

while the sentence "the apple is California" becomes

identity(apple, California).

When understood properly, every predication expresses a universal.

Quote

One can take any sentence and say that if this word does not exist, the rest would not refer to what it should be referring to. You acknowledge that the whole sentence refers to a particular "out there". So the sentence is a thought (mental entity) that refers to something out there. (or tries to)

The problem of omissions in a thought/sentence not allowing it to correspond to metaphysical reality does not indicate ANYthing about metaphysical reality. The problem you are indicating is about the sentences and the words, an epistemological aspect of reality. But your take these necessities and superimpose them in a metaphysical context, in the real world out there. The real world out there does not go by these necessities.

Supposing that it is true that predicate clauses do not refer to any aspect of reality "out there", why can't the exact same argument be made for subject clauses? In that case, reality would consist of neither particulars nor universals. And unless you can somehow provide a coherent account of it without using either of these things, it seems we're doomed to a sort of extreme skepticism.

I think you are putting the cart before the horse. It's not that universals exist because human languages have predicates, but that human languages have predicates because universals exist.

Quote

As far as metaphysical reality is concerned (omitting human actions from consideration, for the moment), there are no “facts which happen to be but could have been otherwise” as against “facts which must be.” There are only: facts which are. . . . Since things are what they are, since everything that exists possesses a specific identity, nothing in reality can occur causelessly or by chance. The nature of an entity determines what it can do and, in any given set of circumstances, dictates what it will do. The Law of Causality is entailed by the Law of Identity. Entities follow certain laws of action in consequence of their identity, and have no alternative to doing so. Metaphysically, all facts are inherent in the identities of the entities that exist; i.e., all facts are “necessary.” In this sense, to be is to be “necessary.” The concept of “necessity,” in a metaphysical context, is superfluous.

This passage is, in my opinion, unrelated to the discussion. Nonetheless, this is an opportunity to put into writing what I think is wrong with it.

Peikoff fails to distinguish between events and facts (specifically the fact of the occurrence of an event with the event itself). Notice that he switches from talking about what is the case to what occurs. Facts do not "occur" nor are they "caused". These are aspects of events.

Furthermore, facts are not limited to being merely about events or particulars. Facts can also be about universals (that is, about properties of and relations among particulars).

Here's an interesting example of this sort of fact: "The number five is prime". This sentence does not refer to anything that happens. Nor does it refer to any ordinary thing. The number five is a universal. The predicate "is prime" is a higher-order universal.

Note that this fact cannot be reduced to facts about ordinary objects. If we have five apples, it would be absurd to say that it is some property of the individual apples that makes their number prime.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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14 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

It's not that universals exist because human languages have predicates, but that human languages have predicates because universals exist.

 

I doubt if anyone on this thread would disagree with you that universals do exist.

The question before us is if they are epistemological, or metaphysical, or both simultaneously.

When you say they exist can you indicate in what way? I think you already agree that they exist as mental entities (at least partially). I would like you to say it so we can be sure.

If they are metaphysical, how can we confirm it? It goes at the heart of the question of what "knowing" is. If a universal is all packaged up metaphysically, why can't we just observe and know them.. Or can we?

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5 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

I doubt if anyone on this thread would disagree with you that universals do exist.

The question before us is if they are epistemological, or metaphysical, or both simultaneously.

When you say they exist can you indicate in what way? I think you already agree that they exist as mental entities (at least partially). I would like you to say it so we can be sure.

Universals exist "out there" and they are decidedly not mental entities.

Quote

If they are metaphysical, how can we confirm it? It goes at the heart of the question of what "knowing" is. If a universal is all packaged up metaphysically, why can't we just observe and know them.. Or can we?

If your question is how can we use our senses to detect the existence of universals, then your question is how can we use our senses to detect the existence of things which are not sensible. The question of the existence of universals is a philosophical one, not a scientific one. Observation cannot decide it one way or the other.

The only way to know about them is to use reason.

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2 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

Universals exist "out there" and they are decidedly not mental entities.

So when you say "the apple" refers to a real apple out there, the sentence "the apple" is as real as the real apple out there?  In other words, a sentence is not epistemological?

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5 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

then your question is how can we use our senses to detect the existence of things which are not sensible. The question of the existence of universals is a philosophical one, not a scientific one. Observation cannot decide it one way or the other.

The only way to know about them is to use reason.

This is another thing that you think there is disagreement but there is none. In fact, I think what you said here is very important, a key issue, unless I understood it wrong, you are saying that the only way to "know" a universal is by the use of reason.

We agree that a universal is not "sensible" as you say.

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7 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

So when you say "the apple" refers to a real apple out there, the sentence "the apple" is as real as the real apple out there?  In other words, a sentence is not epistemological?

I don't know what led you to believe that I believe that, but no.

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2 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

I don't know what led you to believe that I believe that, but no.

The following is what confuses me

15 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

Universals exist "out there" and they are decidedly not mental entities.

When you say that we use reason to come up with them, once you are successful, once you find the universal using reason, doesn't it go in your mind, as a mental entity?

Doesn't knowing, mean, there is a mental entity that corresponds to what is out there?

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Just now, Easy Truth said:

The following is what confuses me

When you say that we use reason to come up with them, once you are successful, once you find the universal using reason, doesn't it go in your mind, as a mental entity?

Doesn't knowing, mean, there is a mental entity that corresponds to what is out there?

I would agree that knowing means that there is a mental entity that corresponds to what is out there, but not that there is a mental entity which is literally identical to what is out there. My mind contains representations of apples, but not literal apples.

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1 minute ago, SpookyKitty said:

I would agree that knowing means that there is a mental entity that corresponds to what is out there, but not that there is a mental entity which is literally identical to what is out there. My mind contains representations of apples, but not literal apples.

Okay, so a mental entity is not identical to what it refers to, agreed. I think we are getting somewhere. I will say more tomorrow.

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(I will go back to my original train of thought but the following is another angle)

A universal, an abstraction, (or a predicate) acts like an open question: "One of this finite set" (based on a context). "The apple is a fruit" means "out of this set of things that it could be, it is a fruit".
"The car is a Toyota" means "out of all brands, it is the Toyota brand".
So it is like picking out of a list of things, what something corresponds to (specifically).

So one question is: Can an open question be real? (Granted, when it is answered, the answer could be real).
A question has a potential to be answered, to become real, but does that make it metaphysically real?
The universal, the question, (the algebraic variable) is a potential particular, but it is no particular.

The question becomes: Is a potential particular, as real as a particular?
Does a potential particular have the same characteristics as a particular?
I suspect you will say NO.

Perhaps you are arguing that for something to exist, the potential has to exist (then a universal is a potentiality).

If so, I am arguing that a universal as a potential is not "metaphysically real" but epistemologically corresponds to something "metaphysically real" (when solved).
It is of a different category of realness. (otherwise, it would be real AND not real, a contradiction)
This (different) category of realness is "epistemologically real". It is a subspecies of real, a type of real. Anything that is "epistemologically real" is also real.
 

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23 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

(I will go back to my original train of thought but the following is another angle)

A universal, an abstraction, (or a predicate) acts like an open question: "One of this finite set" (based on a context). "The apple is a fruit" means "out of this set of things that it could be, it is a fruit".
"The car is a Toyota" means "out of all brands, it is the Toyota brand".
So it is like picking out of a list of things, what something corresponds to (specifically).

So one question is: Can an open question be real? (Granted, when it is answered, the answer could be real).
A question has a potential to be answered, to become real, but does that make it metaphysically real?
The universal, the question, (the algebraic variable) is a potential particular, but it is no particular.

The question becomes: Is a potential particular, as real as a particular?
Does a potential particular have the same characteristics as a particular?
I suspect you will say NO.

Perhaps you are arguing that for something to exist, the potential has to exist (then a universal is a potentiality).

If so, I am arguing that a universal as a potential is not "metaphysically real" but epistemologically corresponds to something "metaphysically real" (when solved).
It is of a different category of realness. (otherwise, it would be real AND not real, a contradiction)
This (different) category of realness is "epistemologically real". It is a subspecies of real, a type of real. Anything that is "epistemologically real" is also real.
 

A seed is a potential tree, and once it becomes an actual tree, it is no longer a potential tree. A universal which was not instantiated but then later becomes instantiated does not cease to be a universal. Therefore, a universal cannot be a potential particular.

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18 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

If your question is how can we use our senses to detect the existence of universals, then your question is how can we use our senses to detect the existence of things which are not sensible. The question of the existence of universals is a philosophical one, not a scientific one. Observation cannot decide it one way or the other.

The only way to know about them is to use reason.

 

If abstracta lack causal powers or spatial location, how do we know about them?

By reason. (I think we agreed on that)
And as a product of reason, they end up as mental entities that refer to something in the physical world. (I think we agreed on that too)

Would you agree that universals/concepts are the set of existents that don't have causal powers or spatial location?
Doesn't that mean that the rest of existents DO have causal powers and/or spatial location?

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14 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

If abstracta lack causal powers or spatial location, how do we know about them?

By reason. (I think we agreed on that)
And as a product of reason, they end up as mental entities that refer to something in the physical world. (I think we agreed on that too)

Would you agree that universals/concepts are the set of existents that don't have causal powers or spatial location?
Doesn't that mean that the rest of existents DO have causal powers and/or spatial location?

I believe that universals do not have causal powers or spatial location. I don't know if the set of universals is identical to the set of things which don't have cause powers or spatial location.

 

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12 hours ago, SpookyKitty said:

I believe that universals do not have causal powers or spatial location.

Consciousness, discoveres commonalities in entities.
And the interaction between consciousness and entities is a necessary process for a commonality to be discovered.
Looking outward at the universe, these commonalities don't advertise themselves without the entities being present, (in that sense not being causal).
The entities are somehow compared, and commonalities are found.

In other words, one can't see a relationship unless one sees what the relationship is "with". A connection is a relationship between two things. If the two things don't exist, then the relationship does not exist.

When the two things exist (and are observed), then the relationship (connection) is concluded/perceived as a mental entity.

Are you arguing for a universe that can have connections without entities? (independent connection)
Or that all connections are in fact physical/material?

Or that a connection/relationship is something in particular without the entities involved?
Wouldn't a "metaphysical universal" (or to make it easier a physical commonality) be a relationship/commonality without the entities (that have that commonality)?

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1 hour ago, Easy Truth said:

Consciousness, discoveres commonalities in entities.
And the interaction between consciousness and entities is a necessary process for a commonality to be discovered.
Looking outward at the universe, these commonalities don't advertise themselves without the entities being present, (in that sense not being causal).
The entities are somehow compared, and commonalities are found.

In other words, one can't see a relationship unless one sees what the relationship is "with". A connection is a relationship between two things. If the two things don't exist, then the relationship does not exist.

When the two things exist (and are observed), then the relationship (connection) is concluded/perceived as a mental entity.

Are you arguing for a universe that can have connections without entities? (independent connection)
Or that all connections are in fact physical/material?

Or that a connection/relationship is something in particular without the entities involved?
Wouldn't a "metaphysical universal" (or to make it easier a physical commonality) be a relationship/commonality without the entities (that have that commonality)?

Yes, I would say that universals exist even if they are not instantiated.

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@Eiuol I'm not sure you've addressed my argument. Your position is that even without metaphysical universals you can define a category in your mind, and accumulate instances which fit that category, but my argument is that without a metaphysical universal, there's no way to infer anything about future instances of that category, besides merely the criteria on which you've grouped them (which is simply tautologically true).

You know in analytic synthetic dichotomy, Peikoff talks about how a nominalist forms categories that are merely tautologically true, as in you can't get anything out of them that you haven't already defined? It seems like you're backed into a corner: either there is something both metaphysical and universal and thus it's justifiable to infer more than a tautology about instances that you haven't already seen, or else if there is nothing both metaphysical and universal, and then you cannot possibly be justified in inferring anything but tautology about things which you haven't already seen.

The thing is, I'm unclear which side of the dichotomy I'm presenting that you are trying to take. You do believe that you can infer non-tautological things about future instances from your epistemic categories, correct? Do you agree that there are things that hold universally in reality (by "universally" I mean in all cases / at all times, i.e. it's possible to identify some things that are always true in reality outside of tautologies)? If so, then these things, whatever they are, are both metaphysically real and universal. It's not a mere epistemic category or a tautology, but rather it's true in reality.

Doesn't this amount to a realist/intrinsicist answer to the problem of universals? Because I mean, if you believe things can be metaphysical and universal, and you believe that you can justifiably infer things about instances you haven't yet observed, then that sounds consistent between metaphysics and epistemology - and contrary to the strong statements Rand made in ITOE against universals, like, "...“manness” in man and “roseness” in roses. I was arguing with him that there is no such thing".

Or is the amount of metaphysical universality that you believe in not sufficient to cover cases like "manness" or "roseness"?Because it's like, if you say you believe in things that are metaphysical and universal, and you are thus justified in making inferences, but then you deny such things as "man" or "rose", etc., have any metaphysical universal grounding, then you aren't justified in making inferences on those things or things like them. Which would really impoverish your position back down again.

So it's really a question of, well what's left that is universal? Because that's the limit of what you're going to be justified in making inferences about. And if you are taking out "man" or "rose", that really doesn't bode well for you philosophically, I mean the entire realm of ethics and politics deals with the nature of man and what you can infer about man universally. So you basically eliminate any justifiable theory of ethics or politics applicable to all men.

I'm not hung up on calling it "a universal" or "manness", what I'm stuck on is the issue of, "is there actually anything that's universally true in reality?". That's the important sense of "manness" that's at issue here.

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