more from Thomas Reid

Single Idea 23648

[catalogued under 18. Thought / E. Abstraction / 1. Abstract Thought]

Full Idea

First we resolve or analyse a subject into its known attributes, and give a name to each attribute. Then we observe one or more attributes to be common to many subjects. The first philosophers call 'abstraction', and the second is 'generalising'.

Gist of Idea

First we notice and name attributes ('abstracting'); then we notice that subjects share them ('generalising')


Thomas Reid (Essays on Intellectual Powers 5: Abstraction [1785], 3)

Book Reference

Reid,Thomas: 'Inquiry and Essays', ed/tr. Beanblossom /K.Lehrer [Hackett 1983], p.239

A Reaction

It is very unfashionable in analytic philosophy to view universals in this way, but it strikes me as obviously correct. There are not weird abstract entities awaiting a priori intuition. There are just features of the world to be observed and picked out.

Related Idea

Idea 20204 Whether the mind has parts is irrelevant, since it obviously has distinct capacities [Aristotle]