Friday, October 28, 2005

The Problem of Universals 

The Problem of Universals: "The problem of universals was first clearly recognized and dealt with by Plato. Here is one passage where he brings the problem out clearly (Euthyphro 5c9-e2, 6d9-e6). Philosophically speaking, this passage is a mess. By emphasizing different parts, this passage could be interpreted as affirming any of the four main philosophical positions taken in answer to the problem of universals. But before we look at answers, let's see what the problem is.

At 5c, Socrates asks Euthyphro what piety is, and Euthyphro's reply is say that what he is doing is piety. He was prosecuting his own father for killing one of his day-laborers. Euthyphro extends his answer to include other things relevantly similar. Piety is not only what Euthyphro is doing right now, but piety is any action like his, e.g. if someone else prosecuted a murderer, that would be piety, if someone (Euthyphro or anyone else) prosecuted a temple thief, that would be piety. In answer to the question, 'What is piety?' Euthyphro gives a list of actions.

At 6d, Socrates points out a problem with the answer. Socrates didn't ask for a list of pious actions, he asked for an eidos or an idea. Before we consider what those words could mean, begin by paying attention to the language. When Socrates asks Euthyphro at 5c what piety is, he uses a noun"

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?