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in philosophy, position taken on the problem of universalsuniversals,
in philosophy, term applied to general or abstract objects such as concepts, qualities, relations, and numbers, as opposed to particular objects. The exact nature of a universal deeply concerned thinkers in the Middle Ages.
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, initially by Peter AbelardAbelard, Peter
, Fr. Pierre Abélard , 1079–1142, French philosopher and teacher, b. Le Pallet, near Nantes. Life

Abelard went (c.1100) to Paris to study under William of Champeaux at the school of Notre Dame and soon attacked the ultrarealist
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 in the 12th cent. Like nominalism it denied that universals exist independently of the mind, but it held that universals have an existence in the mind as concept. These concepts are not arbitrary inventions but are reflections of similarities among particular things themselves, e.g., the concept male reflects a similarity between Paul and John. This similarity shows that universals are also patterns in God's mind according to which he creates particular things. Slightly modified, this view becomes the position of moderate realismrealism,
in philosophy. 1 In medieval philosophy realism represented a position taken on the problem of universals. There were two schools of realism. Extreme realism, represented by William of Champeaux, held that universals exist independently of both the human mind and
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, the classical medieval solution to the controversy. For a modern statement of conceptualism, see C. I. Lewis, Analysis of Knowledge and Valuation (1946, repr. 1962).



a term used to designate philosophical currents occupying an intermediate position between medieval realism and nominalism in solving the problem of universals.

Historically, conceptualism emerged in the 11th and 12th centuries as a tendency in early Scholasticism that endeavored to combine the basic postulates of the Neoplatonic realism prevailing at the time with the metaphysics of Aristotelianism, whose influence was growing among the exponents of theological orthodoxy. Two basic problems of universals dominated the philosophy of this period: the ontological problem, posed by Plato, concerning the real (objective) existence of the general (unitary) “before and apart from” particular objects, and the methodological problem, posed by Aristotle, concerning the general (unitary) as the basis of proof. P. Abelard’s theory of universals (which he basically took from Avicenna) is considered to be a classic example of the conceptualist solution to these problems. According to Abelard, universals exist prior to created nature in the divine mind as god’s “concepts” and as archetypes of particular objects. Universals exist in individual things as their real similarity or as their identity to the archetype (things identical to one archetype are identical to each other). Finally, universals exist after individual things in man’s mind as the result of abstracting similar properties in the form of concepts. In late Scholasticism the views of John Duns Scotus and, especially, Thomas Aquinas were close to this interpretation of universals.

Scholastic conceptualism is essentially theistic: the general is not self-existing, as in Plato, and it is not created in the “world of things,” as in Aristotle. The uniformity of nature and logos, on which proofs are based, presupposes the general in the divine mind, either as the source of this uniformity or as its form (predetermined harmony). In modern times, when interest in these problems had diminished and the psychological problem of the formation of general concepts had begun to occupy a significant place in philosophical systems, conceptualism gradually ceased to be a philosophical and theological doctrine and became one of the principles of the theory of cognition, according to which the general is viewed only as the result of abstraction.


Windelband, W. Vvedenie vfilosofiiu. Moscow, 1908. (Translated from German.)
Stöckl, A. Istoriia srednevekovoi filosofii. Moscow, 1912. (Translated from German.)
Jung, C. G. Psikhologicheskie tipy. Moscow, 1924. (Translated from German.)
Istoriia filosofii, vol. 1. Moscow, 1940.
Russell, B. Istoriia zapadnoi filosofii. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from English.)
Kotarbiński, T. “Spor ob universaliiakh v srednie veka.” Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1963. Pages 410–415. (Translated from Polish.)


References in periodicals archive ?
It seems appealing to think that in order to think of such abstract features, one needs concepts and hence conceptualists are right after all.
Conceptualists contend that it is because it is conceptually true that beliefs are truth-bound, that is, that they ought to be true.
Groys, more radically, claims that the Moscow Conceptualists were by no means professional artists in the conventional sense, but were rather amateurs pursuing their strange and asocial pastimes, often without leaving any material trace.
The exhibition also included several substantial works that Monastyrsky has produced (including realizations or reconstructions of his 1970s projects) over the past decade and which are based, to a large degree, on CA's performances or were inspired by dialogues with various Moscow Conceptualists.
HURT ME NOW GET IT OVER; TOMORROW WILL BE TOO LATE; THERE GOES my everything: Such is the sad language of classic ballads that Krista Buecking employs, with characteristic Conceptualist rigor, in the drawing series "Love Songs for a Future Generation" (all works 2009).
Developing out of his earlier experiments with Pop and Conceptualist practices, Stephen Shore's "American Surfaces" signaled a shift away from the theatrical anomie of late '60s American street photography.
Perhaps surprisingly, her more straightforward endeavor to continue the Conceptualist project of critically examining art as both idea and institution draws strength from this lack of manifest art-historical knowingness.
Though Yves Klein is most frequently recalled for his Leap into the Void, 1960, the self-proclaimed descendant of Delacroix was also a stunning colorist, prescient performance artist, cunning Conceptualist, sly sculptor, and skilled judoka--all within the course of an eight-year career cut short by his death in 1962 at thirty-four.
Before the End" is an exhibition for two voices: on the one hand, that of critic and curator Stephanie Moisdon-Tremblay, who has assembled about twenty "first" works by artists inspired by the legacy of Conceptualism, chosen by the artists themselves; and on the other hand, that of the artist Olivier Mosset, who brought together the last paintings made by several seminal Conceptualists before committing themselves to an art of ideas.
One way the Conceptualists managed to circumvent such deadlocks was to make art from art's discursive frame.
Were Mel Bochner's pieces superficial, trite, and sloppy when they were painted in the height of the minimalist and conceptualist movements?
Not only does Wilson's art reflect feminist ideas that I doubt Kosuth has ever been accused of, but it is inventive and original and on the way to something else, another body of visual thought emerging from a Conceptualist chrysalis.