Alexander of Aphrodisias on Universals: Two Problematic Texts

in Phronesis
AutorIn: Sharples
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Two texts that raise problems for Alexander of Aphrodisias' theory of universals are examined. De anima 90.2-8 appears to suggest that universals are dependent on thought for their existence; this raises questions about the status both of universals and of forms. It is suggested that the passage is best interpreted as indicating that universals are dependent on thought only for their being recognised as universals. The last sentence of Quaestio 1.11 seems to assert that if the universal did not exist no individual would exist, thereby contradicting Alexander's position elsewhere. This seems to be a slip resulting from the fact that species with only one member are the exception rather than the rule.


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