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Universals and Induction

Universals and Induction

Dr. David Kelley

June 1, 1998

David Kelley objectivism epistemology

Unlike other species, man has the ability to re-organize his perceptual world in such a way as to discover new relationships. The essence of this ability is his capacity to generalize and to extract universal truths that are applicable to things that he does not perceive.

The two cognitive processes that are fundamental to this capacity are concept formation and induction.

In Part 1 of this talk Dr. Kelley applies Ayn Rand's theory of concepts, set forth in her "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology," to the important philosophical problem of universals. Since all of our knowledge depends on our reasoning, and all of our reasoning depends on our concepts, philosophers must consider what concepts stand for in reality.

Conceptually, how do we take things apart, into their component attributes, and by what process of integration do we put them together again, into categories?

The two important conceptual features that define this process are the universality and abstractness of concepts.

Part 2 concerns itself with justifying inductive inference, specifically, the type of cognitive operation known as inductive generalization.

The Foundations of Knowledge
> Lecture 1: The Primacy of Existence
> Lecture 2: The Epistemology of Perception

> Lectures 3 and 4: Universals and Induction
> Lecture 5: Skepticism
> Lecture 6: The Nature of Free Will

David Kelley


David Kelley

David Kelley is the founder of The Atlas Society. A professional philosopher, teacher, and best-selling author, he has been a leading proponent of Objectivism for more than 25 years.

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