Abstract Ideas and Universals

J. L. Mackie

in Problems from Locke

Published in print May 1976 | ISBN: 9780198750369
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597947 | DOI:
 Abstract Ideas and Universals

Show Summary Details


In this chapter, Mackie presents a defence of Locke against Berkeley's attack on abstraction. It is argued that Locke's theory of ideas primarily concerns our ability to employ words and statements. Locke's theory concerning ideas of numbers is criticized. Three theories of universals are considered: realism, nominalism, and conceptualism; it is concluded, however, that the notion of there being distinct things with which we connect general words with particular things is mistaken. Mackie instead proposes a theory of general words being ‘annexed’ to features of things.

Keywords: abstract ideas; abstraction; Berkeley; conceptualism; nominalism; realism; universals

Chapter.  13676 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.