Chapter

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198750366.003.0005
 Abstract Ideas and Universals

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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

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