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Nominalism

(Lat. nominalis, “belonging to a name”). The theory of knowledge which insists that universals are created by reason. Essences have no independent reality of their own, but are only names or mere vocal utterances. Reality attributed only to particulars or individual things. This epistemological position is in opposition to Platonic realism, which insisted that universal essences existed. The nominalistic pattern of thought was first introduced by Porphyry* (233-304) who attributed it to Aristotle.