Abelard on Universals — страница 4

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although confused, not discrete, of animal and rational mortal, but not of the later accidents as well. For the conceptions of individuals, too, are formed by abstraction, when namely it is said: this substance, this body, this animal, this man, this whiteness, this white. For by this man I consider only the nature of man but related to a certain subject, whereas by man I consider that same nature simply in itself not related to anyone. Wherefore the understanding of universals is rightly spoken of as alone and naked and pure, that is, alone in regard to the senses, because it does not perceive the thing as sensual, and naked in regard to the abstraction of all and any forms, and pure with respect to discreteness because no thing whether it be matter or form, is designated in it;

in this latter respect we called a conception of this sort confused above (186). So, according to Abelard, we should understand universals as neither things no merely words, also he does not grant them the status of forms (which makes his position neither realistic no nominalistic!). They constitute a special class of confused but real concepts, which are also useful in our thinking of the natural world and our intellect as well. IV After having shown the nature of the universals Abelard proceeds to the resolution of the questions concerning genera and species: The first question, then, was to this effect, whether genera and species subsist, that is signify something truly existent, or are placed in understanding alone, etc., that is, are located in empty opinion without the

thing, like the following words, chimera and goat-stag which do not give rise to a rational understanding. To this it must be replied that in truth they signify by nomination things truly existent, to wit, the same things as singular nouns, and in no wise are they located in empty opinion; nevertheless, they consist in a certain sense in the understanding alone and naked and pure, as has been determined. (2) …whether subsisting they are corporeal or incorporeal, that is when they are considered to signify subsistences whether they signify subsistences which are corporeal or incorporeal. . . . I see that the existing things some are called corporeal and others incorporeal, which of these shall we say are the things signified by universals? To which the reply is made: in a

certain sense corporeal things, that is things discrete in their essence and incorporeal with respect to the designation of the universal noun because obviously universals do not name discretely and determinately, but confusedly, as we have set forth sufficiently above. Whence the universal names themselves are called both corporeal with respect to the nature of things and incorporeal with respect to the manner of signification, because although they name things which are discrete, nevertheless they do not name them discretely and determinately. (3) …whether they are placed in sensibles, etc., follows from granting that they are incorporeal, because obviously the incorporeal taken in a certain manner is divided by being and by not being in the sensible . . . . And universals

are said to subsist in sensibles, that is to signify the intrinsic substance existing in a thing which is sensible by its exterior forms, and although they signify this substance which subsists actually in the sensible thing, yet they demonstrate the same substance naturally separated from the sensible thing, as we determined above in relation to Plato. Wherefore Boethius says that genera and species are understood, but are not, outside sensible things, in that obviously the things of genera and species are considered with respect to their nature rationally in themselves even when the exterior forms by which they come to the senses have been removed. . . . obviously they do not designate the sensible things which they name in the same manner as they are perceived, that is as

discrete, and sense does not discover them by demonstration of them, it remained a question whether universals named sensible things only or whether they also signified something else; to which it is replied that they signify both sensible things and at the same time that common conception which Priscian ascribes particularly to the divine mind. And in accord with them. With respect to that which we understand here as the fourth question , as we noted above, the following is the solution, that we in no wise hold that universal nouns are, when, their things having been destroyed, they are not predicable of many things inasmuch as they are not common to any things, as for example the name of the rose when there are no longer roses, but it would still, nevertheless, be significative