Abstract Entities (1963)
“I have argued in a number of papers…that abstract entities.
.are linguistic entities.
They are linguistic expressions.
, however, in a rarified sense…
Redness, as a first approximation, is the word
construed as a linguistic kind or sort
which is capable of realization or embodiment in different linguistic materials, e.g., ‘red,
‘rot’, and ‘rouge’…
Expressions in this rarified sense I have called…linguistic
“abstract entities are linguistic types” (164) “the interpretation of qualities, relations,
propositions, etc. as linguistic types.”
(165): “the thesis that universals (in the sense of
qualities, relations, classes, and the like) are linguistic kinds…”
WS confronts the problem that linguistic types seem themselves to be a kind of (but only
kind of) universal.
His solution (166) “requires us to hold that not all
over and against
are universals (i.e. qualities, relations, sorts, kinds, or classes), and consequently to
conclude that the problem of “the one and the many” is in fact broader than the problem of
universals (in the specified sense).”
His example of a one-in-many that is
a universal in
his sense is what is referred to by “the pawn”.
His analysis will be that that expression is a
distributive singular term.
In effect, he shows us how such terms are
, and want that
account to do the work that was supposed to be done by
talk of what
to (namely, the thought would be, universals).
to refer to such a
need a singular term other than the singular terms by which we refer to individual
pawns, and yet which does not refer to a universal of which they are instances
“Pawn” is a common noun.
“If, therefore, we can understand the relation of
(many) without construing
as a universal of which lions are instances; and if the
looked-for singular term pertaining to pawns can be construed by analogy with “the lion”—
indeed, as “the pawn”—then we would be in a position to understand how
a one as against a many, without being a universal of which pawns are instances. This in turn
a distinction between a generic sense of “abstract entity” in which the lion
and the pawn as well as triangularity (construed as the
) and that two plus
two equals four (construed as the
two plus two equals four
) would be abstract entities
as being ones over and against manys and a narrower sense of abstract entity in which
qualities, relations, sorts, classes, propositions and the like are abstract entities, but of
these only a proper subset, universals but not propositions, for example, would be
as over and against
This subset would include the kind
class of pawns, which must not be confused with