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Journal of Indian Philosophy and Religion

Volume 21, December 2016

Collected Works of Kisor K. Chakrabarti, Part I

Kisor Kumar Chakrabarti
Pages 72-102

The Nyaya-Vaisesika Theory of Universals

In the Nyaya-Vaisesika view universals are eternal and objectively real often perceptible common characters that are independent of the particulars and inseparably inherent in the latter in the sense that the latter as long as they exist remain related to the universal. Such common characters should not be confused with Platonic Ideas that are perfect exemplars graspable only by reason. It is argued that without objective common characters it is hard to account for the distinction between natural classes such as man, horse, etc. that are independent of human convention and conventional classes such as lawyers, cooks, etc. Universals are also needed to provide objective basis for causal connections whereby only things of a certain kind produce other things of a specific kind. There are universals for generic terms such as man or horse, for qualities such as color or smell, for relations such as spatial proximity, for motion such as contraction, etc. But no universal is admissible if any restrictive condition such as not leading to a vici11ous infinite regress is violated.

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