In Middle Age, Sain Thomas of Aquin postulated five transcendentals, ie, five universal ideas or objective qualities which are present in everything: res, unum, aliquid, bonum, verum. For example: everything (a rose, a castel, a room, a country, a person, a philosophy, etc) is a one (unum), constitutes an unity. The transcendentals are universals but not all universals are transcendentals. In his book "The Problems of Philosophy", Bertrand Russell considers whitness as an universal. He wrote:
«We can think of an universal and our thinking then exists in a perfectly ordinary sense, like any other mental act. Suppose, for example, that we are thinking about whiteness. (...) In the strict sense, it is not whiteness that is in our mind, but the act of thinking of whiteness. (...)»
«We shall find it convenient only to speak of things existing when they are in time, that is to say, when we can point to some time at which they exist (not excluding the possibility of existing at all times), Thus thoughts and feelings, minds and physical objects exist. But universals do not exist in this sense; we shall say that they subsist or have being, where "being" is opposed to "existence" as being timeless. The world of universals, therefore, may be also described as the world of being. The world of being is unchangeable, rigid, exact, delightful for mathematicien, the logicien, the builder of metaphysical sistems, and all who love perfection more than life. The world of existence is fleeting, vague, without sharp boundaries, without any clear plan or arrangement, but it contains all thoughts and feelings, all the data of sense, all the physical objects, everything than can do good or harm, everything that makes any difference to the value of life and the world» (Bertrand Russell, «The problems of philosophy», page 56-57, Oxford University Press; the bold is put by me).
Russell clearly adopts the position of Plato: the universals are placed as essences in a supersensible world, out of the time. The position of Russell is contrary to dialectical thinking whereby one divides into two, ie, in this case, the universal exists simultaneously in the world of static being and in the world of mental and material becoming. Russell argues that the universal property exists only in the world of static being. It is a misconception. Whiteness is an universal because it is present in every white physical objects and not because of being an archetype out of time and space. This criticism is from Aristotle.
© (Direitos de autor para Francisco Limpo de Faria Queiroz)