Preformation theory  

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-"When ''I'' use a word," [[Humpty Dumpty]] said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."<br/> 
-"The question is," said Alice, "whether you ''can'' make words mean so many different things."<br/> 
-"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that's all." -- ''[[Alice in Wonderland]]''[['The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things'| [...]]] 
-"[[George Henry Lewes]] has observed that the only medieval debate of any philosophical value is the debate between [[nominalism]] and [[Philosophical realism|realism]]. This opinion is rather [[temerarious]], but it emphasizes the importance of the persistent controversy provoked at the beginning of the ninth century by a sentence from [[Porphyry (philosopher)|Porphyry]], which [[Boethius]] translated and annotated: a controversy that [[Anselm of Canterbury |Anselm]] and [[Roscellinus]] continued at the end of the eleventh century and that [[William of Occam]] reanimated in the fourteenth." --[[Jorge Luis Borges ]], "[[From Allegories to Novels]]" 
{{Template}} {{Template}}
-'''Nominalism''' is a [[Metaphysics|metaphysical]] view in [[philosophy]] according to which general or abstract terms and [[Predicate (grammar)|predicates]] exist, while [[Universal (metaphysics)|universals]] or [[abstract object]]s, which are sometimes thought to correspond to these terms, do not exist. There are at least two main versions of nominalism. One version denies the existence of universals – things that can be instantiated or exemplified by many particular things (e.g., strength, humanity). The other version specifically denies the existence of abstract objects – objects that do not exist in space and time. 
-Most nominalists have held that only physical particulars in space and time are real, and that universals exist only ''post res'', that is, subsequent to particular things. However, some versions of nominalism hold that some particulars are abstract entities (e.g., numbers), while others are concrete entities – entities that do exist in space and time (e.g., thrones, couches).+'''Preformation theory''' is a [[Theism|theistic]] [[epistemology|epistemological]] [[philosophical theory|theory]] that states that [[knowledge]] is possible only because [[God]] has endowed humans with certain [[Innatism|innate ideas]] along with [[disposition]]s or aptitudes in certain ways. This was recognized by [[Immanuel Kant]] as an alternative to his theory regarding the categories of understanding and their source.
-Nominalism is primarily a position on the [[problem of universals]], which dates back at least to [[Plato]], and is opposed to [[Philosophical realism|realism]] the view that universals do exist over and above particulars. However, the name "nominalism" emerged from debates in [[Philosophical realism#Universals|medieval philosophy]] with [[Roscellinus]].+==Overview==
 +According to Kant's view the aptitudes are both innate and ''[[a priori and a posteriori|a priori]]'' not given by a creator. Contrary to Kant's position, the preformation theory avoids skepticism about the nature of the noumenal world (Kant believed that the real world is unknowable). It does so by claiming that the rational structures of the human mind are similar to the rational order of the real world because both are created by God to work together, and this similarity makes the attaining of accurate knowledge about the real world possible.
-The term 'nominalism' stems from the [[Latin]] ''nomen'', "name." For example, [[John Stuart Mill]] once wrote, that "there is nothing general except names". In the philosophy of law nominalism finds its application in what is called '''constitutional nominalism'''.+Also, see [[Preformationism]].
- +
-==The problem of universals== <!-- This section heading is in use by other articles. Please do not alter it without also fixing the referring articles. -->+
- +
-Nominalism arose in reaction to the [[problem of universals]], specifically accounting for the fact that some things are of the same type. For example, Fluffy and Kitzler are both [[cat]]s, or, the fact that certain properties are repeatable, such as: the grass, the [[shirt]], and [[Kermit the Frog]] are green. One wants to know in virtue of ''what'' are Fluffy and Kitzler both cats, and ''what'' makes the grass, the shirt, and Kermit green.+
- +
-The [[Philosophical realism|realist]] answer is that all the green things are green in virtue of the [[existence]] of a universal; a single [[Abstraction|abstract]] thing that, in this case, is a [[part (mathematics)|part]] of all the green things. With respect to the color of the grass, the shirt and Kermit, one of their parts is identical. In this respect, the three parts are literally one. Greenness is repeatable because there is one thing that [[exemplification|manifests]] itself wherever there are green things.+
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-Nominalism denies the existence of universals. The motivation for this flows from several concerns, the first one being where they might exist. [[Plato]] famously held, on one interpretation, that there is a realm of abstract forms or universals apart from the physical world (see [[theory of the forms]]). Particular physical objects merely exemplify or instantiate the universal. But this raises the question: Where is this universal realm? One possibility is that it is outside space and time. A view sympathetic with this possibility holds that, precisely because some form is immanent in several physical objects, it must also transcend each of those physical objects; in this way, the forms are "transcendent" only insofar as they are "immanent" in many physical objects. In other words, immanence implies transcendence; they are not opposed to one another. (Nor, on this view, would there be a separate "world" or "realm" of forms that is distinct from the physical world, thus shirking much of the worry about where to locate a "universal realm".) However, [[metaphysical naturalism|naturalists]] assert that nothing is outside of space and time. Some [[Neoplatonists]], such as the pagan philosopher [[Plotinus]] and the Christian philosopher [[Augustine of Hippo|Augustine]], imply (anticipating [[conceptualism]]) that universals are contained within the [[Preformation theory|''mind'' of God]]. To complicate things, what is the nature of the [[instantiation principle|instantiation]] or [[exemplification]] [[logic of relatives|relation]]?+
- +
-[[Conceptualism|Conceptualists]] hold a position intermediate between nominalism and [[Philosophical realism|realism]], saying that universals exist only within the [[mind]] and have no external or substantial reality.+
- +
-[[Moderate realism|Moderate realists]] hold that there is no realm in which universals exist, but rather universals are located in space and time wherever they are manifest. Now, recall that a universal, like greenness, is supposed to be a single thing. Nominalists consider it unusual that there could be a single thing that exists in multiple places simultaneously. The realist maintains that all the instances of greenness are held together by the exemplification relation, but this relation cannot be explained.+
- +
-Finally, many philosophers prefer simpler [[ontology|ontologies]] populated with only the bare minimum of types of entities, or as [[W. V. Quine]] said "They have a taste for 'desert landscapes.'" They try to express everything that they want to explain without using universals such as "catness" or "chairness."+
- +
-==Varieties of nominalism==+
-There are various forms of nominalism ranging from extreme to almost-realist. One extreme is ''predicate nominalism'', which states that Fluffy and Kitzler, for example, are both cats simply because the predicate 'is a cat' applies to both of them. And this is the case for all similarity of attribute among objects. The main criticism of this view is that it does not provide a sufficient solution to the problem of universals. It fails to provide an account of what makes it the case that a group of things warrant having the same predicate applied to them.+
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-[[resemblance nominalism|Resemblance nominalists]] believe that 'cat' applies to both cats because Fluffy and Kitzler resemble an [[exemplar]] cat closely enough to be classed together with it as members of its [[natural kind|kind]], or that they differ from each other (and other cats) quite less than they differ from other things, and this warrants classing them together. Some resemblance nominalists will concede that the resemblance relation is itself a universal, but is the only universal necessary. Others argue that each resemblance relation is a particular, and is a resemblance relation simply in virtue of its resemblance to other resemblance relations. This generates an infinite regress, but many argue that it is not [[virtuous circle and vicious circle|vicious]].+
- +
-[[Class nominalism]] argues that class membership forms the metaphysical backing for property relationships: two particular red balls share a property in that they are both members of classes corresponding to their properties—that of being red and being balls. A version of class nominalism that sees some classes as "natural classes" is held by [[Anthony Quinton, Baron Quinton|Anthony Quinton]].+
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-[[Conceptualism]] is a philosophical theory that explains universality of particulars as conceptualized frameworks situated within the thinking mind. The conceptualist view approaches the metaphysical concept of universals from a perspective that denies their presence in particulars outside of the mind's perception of them.+
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-Another form of nominalism is ''[[Trope (philosophy)#Trope theory in philosophy (metaphysics)|trope theory]]''. A trope is a particular instance of a property, like the specific greenness of a shirt. One might argue that there is a primitive, [[Objectivity (science)|objective]] resemblance relation that holds among like tropes. Another route is to argue that all apparent tropes are constructed out of more primitive tropes and that the most primitive tropes are the entities of complete [[physics]]. Primitive trope resemblance may thus be accounted for in terms of causal [[indiscernibility]]. Two tropes are exactly resembling if substituting one for the other would make no difference to the events in which they are taking part. Varying degrees of resemblance at the macro level can be explained by varying degrees of resemblance at the micro level, and micro-level resemblance is explained in terms of something no less robustly physical than causal power. [[David Malet Armstrong|David Armstrong]], perhaps the most prominent contemporary realist, argues that such a trope-based variant of nominalism has promise, but holds that it is unable to account for the laws of nature in the way his theory of universals can.+
- +
-[[Ian Hacking]] has also argued that much of what is called [[social constructionism]] of science in contemporary times is actually motivated by an unstated nominalist metaphysical view. For this reason, he claims, scientists and constructionists tend to "shout past each other".+
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-===Analytic philosophy and mathematics===+
-A notion that philosophy, especially [[ontology]] and the [[philosophy of mathematics]] should abstain from [[set theory]] owes much to the writings of [[Nelson Goodman]] (see especially Goodman 1977), who argued that concrete and abstract entities having no parts, called ''individuals'' exist. Collections of individuals likewise exist, but two collections having the same individuals are the same collection.+
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-The principle of [[extensionality]] in set theory assures us that any matching pair of curly braces enclosing one or more instances of the same individuals denote the same set. Hence {''a'', ''b''}, {''b'', ''a''}, {''a'', ''b'', ''a'', ''b''} are all the same set. For Goodman and other nominalists, {''a'', ''b''} is also identical to {''a'', {''b''} }, {''b'', {''a'', ''b''} }, and any combination of matching curly braces and one or more instances of ''a'' and ''b'', as long as ''a'' and ''b'' are names of individuals and not of collections of individuals. Goodman, [[Richard Milton Martin]], and [[Willard Quine]] all advocated reasoning about collectivities by means of a theory of ''virtual sets'' (see especially Quine 1969), one making possible all elementary operations on sets except that the [[universe]] of a quantified variable cannot contain any virtual sets.+
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-In the [[foundation of mathematics]], nominalism has come to mean doing mathematics without assuming that [[Set (mathematics)|sets]] in the mathematical sense exist. In practice, this means that [[Quantifier (logic)|quantified variables]] may range over [[universe]]s of [[number]]s, [[point (geometry)|points]], primitive [[ordered pair]]s, and other abstract ontological primitives, but not over sets whose members are such individuals. To date, only a small fraction of the corpus of modern mathematics can be rederived in a nominalistic fashion.+
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-[[Plato]] was perhaps the first writer in Western philosophy to clearly state a non-Nominalist position, which he plainly endorsed:+
-<blockquote> ...We customarily hypothesize a single form in connection with each of the many things to which we apply the same name. ... For example, there are many beds and tables. ... But there are only two forms of such furniture, one of the bed and one of the table. ([[The Republic (Plato)|''Republic'']] 596a-b, trans. Grube) </blockquote>+
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-<blockquote>What about someone who believes in beautiful things, but doesn't believe in the beautiful itself…? Don't you think he is living in a dream rather than a wakened state? (''Republic'' 476c)</blockquote>+
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-The Platonic universals corresponding to the names "bed" and "beautiful" were the [[Theory of Forms|Form]] of the Bed and the Form of the Beautiful, or the ''Bed Itself'' and the ''Beautiful Itself''. Platonic Forms were the first universals posited as such in philosophy.+
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-Our term "universal" is due to the English translation of [[Aristotle]]'s technical term ''katholou'' which he coined specially for the purpose of discussing the problem of universals. ''Katholou'' is a contraction of the phrase ''kata holou'', meaning "on the whole".+
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-Aristotle famously rejected certain aspects of Plato's Theory of Forms, but he clearly rejected Nominalism as well:+
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-<blockquote>...'Man', and indeed every general predicate, signifies not an individual, but some quality, or quantity or relation, or something of that sort. (''[[Sophistical Refutations]]'' xxii, 178b37, trans. Pickard-Cambridge)</blockquote>+
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-Applied Nominalism redirects the thesis of nominalism to the highest level of self actualism whereby all individuals are equal and collectively creates community actualism where everyone is without hierarchy. Nominalism is thus categorical but without hierarchy and leads us in directing thought towards the general idea of the community rather than the individual (Porter, 2006).+
- +
-In ''[[Alice in Wonderland]]'', the problem of nominalism is presented in an [[anecdote|anecdotal]] example:+
- +
-<blockquote>"When ''I'' use a word," [[Humpty Dumpty]] said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."<br/>+
-"The question is," said Alice, "whether you ''can'' make words mean so many different things."<br/>+
-"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that's all."+
- +
-'''Critique of the historical origins of the term:'''+
-As a category of late medieval thought, the concept of 'nominalism' has been increasingly queried. Traditionally, the fourteenth century has been regarded as the heyday of nominalism, with figures such as [[John Buridan]] and [[William of Ockham]] viewed as founding figures. However, the concept of 'nominalism' as a movement (generally contrasted with 'realism'), first emerged only in the late fourteenth century, and only gradually became widespread during the fifteenth century. The notion of two distinct ways, a ''via antiqua'', associated with realism, and a ''via moderna'', associated with nominalism, became widespread only in the later fifteenth century – a dispute which eventually dried up in the sixteenth century.+
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-Aware that explicit thinking in terms of a divide between 'nominalism' and 'realism' only emerged in the fifteenth century, scholars have increasingly questioned whether a fourteenth-century school of nominalism can really be said to have existed. While one might speak of family resemblances between Ockham, Buridan, Marsilius and others, there are also striking differences. More fundamentally, Robert Pasnau has questioned whether any kind of coherent body of thought that could be called 'nominalism' can be discerned in fourteenth century writing. This makes it difficult, it has been argued, to follow the twentieth century narrative which portrayed late scholastic philosophy as a dispute which emerged in the fourteenth century between the ''via moderna'', nominalism, and the ''via antiqua'', realism, with the nominalist ideas of [[William of Ockham]] foreshadowing the eventual rejection of scholasticism in the seventeenth century.+
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-'''Critique of nominalist reconstructions in mathematics:'''+
-A critique of nominalist reconstructions in mathematics was undertaken by Burgess (1983) and Burgess and Rosen (1997). Burgess distinguished two types of nominalist reconstructions. Thus, ''hermeneutic nominalism'' is the hypothesis that science, properly interpreted, already dispenses with mathematical objects+
-(entities) such as numbers and sets. Meanwhile, ''revolutionary nominalism'' is the project of replacing current scientific theories by alternatives dispensing with mathematical objects, see (Burgess, 1983, p.&nbsp;96). A recent study extends the Burgessian critique to three nominalistic reconstructions: the reconstruction of analysis by [[Georg Cantor]], [[Richard Dedekind]], and [[Karl Weierstrass]] that dispensed with [[infinitesimal]]s; the [[constructivism (mathematics)|constructivist]] re-reconstruction of Weiertrassian analysis by [[Errett Bishop]] that dispensed with the [[law of excluded middle]]; and the hermeneutic reconstruction, by [[Carl Boyer]], [[Judith Grabiner]], and others, of [[Cauchy]]'s foundational contribution to analysis that dispensed with Cauchy's infinitesimals.+
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-== See also ==+
-* [[Abstraction]]+
-* [[Abstract object]]+
-* [[Conceptualism]]+
-* [[Concrete (philosophy)]]+
-* [[Idea]]+
-* ''[[Ideas Have Consequences]]''+
-* [[Object (philosophy)|Object]]+
-* [[Problem of universals]]+
-* [[Psychological nominalism]]+
-* [[Realism (philosophy)]]+
-* [[Substantial form]]+
-* [[Universal (metaphysics)]]+
-* [[William of Ockham]]+
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Preformation theory is a theistic epistemological theory that states that knowledge is possible only because God has endowed humans with certain innate ideas along with dispositions or aptitudes in certain ways. This was recognized by Immanuel Kant as an alternative to his theory regarding the categories of understanding and their source.


According to Kant's view the aptitudes are both innate and a priori not given by a creator. Contrary to Kant's position, the preformation theory avoids skepticism about the nature of the noumenal world (Kant believed that the real world is unknowable). It does so by claiming that the rational structures of the human mind are similar to the rational order of the real world because both are created by God to work together, and this similarity makes the attaining of accurate knowledge about the real world possible.

Also, see Preformationism.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Preformation theory" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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