QO offers a new approach to what, ever since Plato, has generally been considered to be the central problem of philosophy: when we observe a common characteristic of distinct objects - say, that each of them is red - in what sense, if any, does it make sense to say that this common characteristic is a distinct thing, that exists of itself independently of the objects of which it is a characteristic?
For Plato, the answer was clear: the common characteristic was a property of a Form, from which the objects in question are imperfectly derived. In our age, there are philosophers who deny that the common characteristic has any independent existence at all, and maintain that these characteristics exist only in the individual and perhaps shared vocabularies of the observers.
The QO approach is to say that although some common characteristics are indeed purely the result of coincidence and therefore insignificant, those that are the consequence of the laws of nature are part and parcel of the nature of the universe, affecting objects in the universe and having an existence independent of them. This does not, however, mean that QO is just a dressed up form of Platonism. In QO the interaction between characteristics and objects is, contrary to what Plato supposed, a two way street.
Even philosophers who deny that common characteristics have any independent existence still rely on some characteristics effectively functioning as though they did. For they use words to express their arguments, and words can only mean something if the people that use them agree, in principle if not in practice, as to which objects the words apply to and to which objects they don't. Without meaningful words there can be no meaningful arguments, not even the argument that there are no meaningful arguments. Sound philosophical arguments require meaningful words. QO helps determine which words are meaningful and which not.
Our discussion of philosophy concludes with a discussion of the age-old philosophical question as to whether God exists.
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