Our Knowledge of Universals A Case for Sense-Perceiving Immanent Universals

Shrestha, Amjol
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2015]
In this dissertation, I argue that we can know immanent universals. I conclude that we can know immanent universals by means of sense-perception, because we can directly know concrete particulars. Whenever we know a concrete particular by way of sense-perception, we have a cognitive ability to directly recognize a universal inherent in a concrete particular. After introducing the problem of universals in chapter I, I argue in chapter two that universals actually inhere in their concrete particulars. I describe a universal as a singular, eternal entity that can wholly exist within various concrete particulars at the same time. When I say “within” a concrete particular, I mean a universal is an immanent entity that inheres within their concrete particulars via instantiation. In chapter three I argue that we have knowledge of concrete particulars by way of sense-perception as a means of knowledge. The content of our cognition must not only be directed at an external object in the world, but also our cognition must be determinate and free from accidents, errors, and doubts. In short, our sense-perception must be a reliable instrument that is faithful at tracking the truth (pramāṇa). In chapter four I argue that our sense-perceptual abilities can help us to recognize universals inherent in their particulars. Indeed, perhaps the most intuitive demonstration for recognizing immanent universals is seeing the cat on the mat as a cat. Nyāya thinkers, especially Jayanta Bhaṭṭa explains our ability to notice a universal in a later cognition while presently sense-perceiving a particular object is known as recognition. To recognize an object is to grasp that felt sense of similarity. When we look at a familiar object, not only do we recognize the particularity of the individual object (i.e., its uniqueness), but also we can recognize it as a non-particular individual (i.e., as a universal). In chapter 5, I raise three objections to my overall thesis. After raising problems with my overall thesis, I reply and explore each objection.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
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