Chicken or egg?
The argument of universal and particular remains unresolved for almost three millennia. Yet, every standard and principle is reflected through this prism, which unites or refracts our understanding of nature and articulates what we claim to “know”. Both concepts have been worshipped and denied, depending on prevalent ideology, leaving them to mercy of speculations. Firstly, particular and universal are permanently entangled, inseparable and depended on each other. Their relationship fluctuates, but bond cannot be broken. As parts of the whole, particulars float within universal, affecting its nature and behaviour.
Since Socrates, thinkers embrace clarity and analysis, promoting individual and neglecting the universal. In fact, this particular assumption costed Socrates a life. In his saying “universal is predicated of thing less universal”, Socrates gives primacy to particular, which constructs the universal. His disciples adopted the strategy which Aristoteles expanded into a doctrine of categories. The rest of philosophy referenced only a variation on a theme, rarely shifting the focus. Particular became an essential ingredient of civilizations, favouring analysis to synthesis, individual to public and rational to metaphysical.
On the other side, as the catalyst and prevalent condition, universal remains attached to notion of culture. Culture recognizes only collectively determined values, leaving the individual at the bottom of every hierarchy. When universalism prevails, particular is suppressed and enslaved to serve the universal. This shift of values has been exploited through religion, politics and public affairs, which use dogma to alter and control judgement. In short, uncertainty has always been intimate with speculation and no wonder, this puzzle remained unsolved for so long.