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Hermann Lotze an Abstraction and Platonic Ideas

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While Hermann Lotze's philosophy was widely received all over the world, his views on abstraction and Platonic ideas are of particular interest because they were to a large extent adopted by one of the most eminent philosophers of the twentieth century, namely Edmund Husserl. In this paper these views are examined in three distinct aspects. The first of these aspects is to be found in Lotze's thesis that there is a mental process, prior to abstraction, whereby "first universals" are apprehended. The second one lies in his view that there is yet a higher level of apprehension, as found in the process of abstraction itself. According to Lotze, abstraction is not to be identified with the mere removal of particular features, but rather the replacement of these with first universals, resulting in "general images" and ultimately concepts. In addition to Lotze's analysis of the cognition of universals, there is finally a third thesis (an ontological one) which is examined in this paper, namely that the universals are Platonic Ideas in the sense that they have "validity" (Geltung) independently of their corresponding particulars and also of the mind which grasps them. The three claims in question are examined here in detail. Also, an attempt is made to point out some of the connections between Lotze and Husserl on the topic under discussion.

Document Type: Case Report

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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