more from William of Ockham

Single Idea 9102

[catalogued under 15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 3. Abstraction by mind]

Full Idea

It seems possible that the concept of a genus could be abstracted from one individual, let us say, the concept 'animal', as in the case of one approaching from a distance, when I see enough to judge that I am seeing an animal.

Gist of Idea

If an animal approached from a distance, we might abstract 'animal' from one instance


William of Ockham (Seven Quodlibets [1332], I Q xiii)

Book Reference

Ockham,William of: 'Ockham's Philosophical Writings', ed/tr. Boehner,P [Hackett 1990], p.30

A Reaction

This is a rather individualistic view of abstraction, ignoring the shared language and culture. It is hard to imagine a truly virgin mind coming up with the concept after one encounter. The concept 'mind-boggling' seems more likely.