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  1. This thread is devoted to the nature and problem of universals, particularly in relation to the Objectivist theory of concept-formation. What are universals? What is the problem related to them? I'll begin with the Wikipedia entry--to present the issue as neutrally as possible. A universal is something that particular things have in common. This common something can be a kind of thing, a property of a thing, or a relation of a thing. Beyond that, there are theories about the further identification of universals, because it is not obvious how we have knowledge of them or where they even come from. This leads into the essential problem of universals. The problem arises from the fact that we observe similarity, yet every kind, property, or relation of a thing is a unique, particular kind, property, or relation. Thus, how do we get from awareness of particulars to awareness of similarities? From knowledge of specifics to knowledge of universals? The problem begins simply with the recognition of similarity, or commonality. It doesn't begin with an explanation or location for universals. It doesn't say that universals exist in this way or that way, or that they're located in here or over there. But it does acknowledge the existence of particular things which can be similar in some respect. And it also acknowledges a consciousness capable of identifying similarity. Where anyone's theory goes from there is not the problem of universals, but an attempt at solving it. If anyone disagrees so far, please present the problem as you see it. Otherwise, in a day or two, I'll move on and address the argument presented by Intrinsicist elsewhere.
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