Nominalism in literary discourse

(4463 words)
  • Hugo Keiper (Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz )

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


Nominalism and realism are fundamental positions in (the) philosophy (of language), semiotics, and various other fields, relating to the nature, origin and ontological status of universals or general terms. Realists hold that universals have an existence independently of language or of thought, either as entities external to and preceding individual things (ante rem), such as Platonic ideas and the like, or else within things (in rebus), as argued by Aristotle and his followers. Nominalists, on the other hand, believe that universals do not exist independently of language or the mind and come into existence only after the experience of things. It seems that from the very beginnings of an awareness of s…

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Keiper, Hugo. "Nominalism in literary discourse". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 September 2010
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]