Platonic realism

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Platonic realism is a philosophical term usually used to refer to the idea of realism regarding the existence of universals after the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 427–c. 347 BC), a student of Socrates, and the teacher of Aristotle. As universals were considered by Plato to be ideal forms, this stance is confusingly also called Platonic idealism.

Plato's own articulation of the realism regarding the existence of universals is expounded in his The Republic and elsewhere, notably in the Phaedo, the Phaedrus, the Meno, and the Parmenides.



In Platonic realism, universals do not exist in the way that ordinary physical objects exist, but were thought to have a sort of ghostly or heavenly mode of existence[citation needed]. More modern versions of the theory do not apply such potentially misleading descriptions to universals. Instead, such versions maintain that it is meaningless (or a category mistake) to apply the categories of space and time to universals.

Regardless of their description, Platonic realism holds that universals do exist in a broad, abstract sense, although not at any spatial or temporal distance from people's bodies. Thus, people cannot see or otherwise come into sensory contact with universals, but in order to conceive of universals, one must be able to conceive of these abstract forms. Most modern Platonists avoid the possible ambiguity by not attributing material existence to universals, but merely claiming that they are.

Theories of universals

Theories of universals, including Platonic realism, are challenged to satisfy the certain constraints on theories of universals.

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