Ideas are considered the building blocks of
knowledge. They are constitutive elements that
make up judgments, and judgments may express
either truth or error. This being the case, ideas in all
their manifestations must be thoroughly tackled by
the philosopher-logician since no building can be
solid unless its foundation is solid.
Moreover, ideas are also the quasi-subjects of
Idea is the intellectual representation or
“image” of a thing.
It is the same as the concept in the mind
although concepts are viewed sometimes as
purified ideas. The term, idea, comes from the
original Greek word idea which
For instance, our idea of a cow is our
mental image or apprehension of an animal
called cow. This idea of a cow will apply to any
and all cows, irrespective of their individual
differences among themselves, provided they
possess the same essential qualities which
constitute the idea of a cow. Hence, a precept is
distinct from an idea.
The process of forming ideas will be of
great help to us in understanding their nature. All
knowledge starts with the senses.
Thus, man is able to produce the sensible
image of a thing called phantasm. This phantasm
of the imagination is the first step in the
formation of an idea.
Properties of Ideas:
The sum-total of all the thought-elements
contained in an idea.
The comprehension of an idea involves
understanding of its meaning, signification, and
Also known as implication or connotation of the
It is manifested by definition.
The sum-total of the individuals and classes or
groups to which an idea can be applied.
The extension of an idea expresses the
application of the thought-content to the
individuals and groups in which it is found.
Also known as application or denotation.
It is manifested by division.
We have learned that man invented language
for communication purposes. He coined words,
symbols, and terms by which to express his ideas
Thought is invisible and imperceptible to the
senses we cannot take it and put it in someone’s
mind. We won’t know what somebody has in mind
unless we understand his gestures or signs.
Speech is the primary means by which we
communicate with one another. The language we
use is a body of symbols with which we articulate
our feelings and ideas. The basic unit of a language
is the word. We call it - term, from the Latin word
Term is the verbal expression of an idea.
It is an articulate sound which serves as a
conventional sign of an idea. It may also be
understood as an idea or group of ideas expressed in
We form ideas from the things we perceive,
and then we express or manifest our ideas to others
by means of terms or words.
Not all words, however, are terms; some
words have no referents, such as if, from, by, and in.
But all terms are words, for all terms are articulate
sounds signifying things.
Kinds of Terms:
Terms may be classified according to quantity,
incompatibility, definiteness of meaning, and the
nature of referents.
1. As regards quantity:
a. Singular Term – stands for a single individual
b. Particular Term – stands for an indefinite
number of individuals of a
c. Universal Term – stands not only for a class
as a whole but also for
each member of that class.
d. Collective Term – refers to a group or
collection of objects
or individuals regarded
as a unit.
A collective term, however, may be universal
(e.g., family), particular (e.g., some family), or
singular (e.g., this family).
2. As regards incompatibility:
a. Contradictory Terms – those wherein one affirms
what the other denies.
b. Contrary Terms – represent the two extremes
among objects of a series
belonging to the same class.
c. Private Terms – those wherein one signifies a
perfection and the other denies a
perfection in a subject which
naturally ought to posses it.
d. Relative Terms – those wherein one cannot be
understood without the other.
3. As regards definiteness of meaning:
a. Univocal Term – predicated of two or more
individuals or things in exactly
the same sense; admits of only
b. Equivocal Term – predicated of many in
an entirely different sense;
admits of two or more meanings.
c. Analogous Term – predicated of two or
more things that is partly the
same and partly different sense.
4. As regards the nature of referents:
a. Concrete Term – can be perceived by the
senses; referent is tangible.
b. Abstract Term – can be understood only by
mind; referent is intangible. It may
denote the property of a thing,
which is considered an entity by itself.
It denotes being, quality, quantity, or
c. Null or Empty Term – nothing actually existing
to which it can be applied; no actual
referents but only imaginary ones.
Supposition of Terms
The exact meaning it has in relation to the
other words in a given sentence.
a. On the Basis of the Thing Signified:
1. Real Supposition – is present when the
term stands for a thing which
exists as a physical object in
the realm of realities.
2. Logical Supposition – is present when the
term expresses an aspect of a
concept itself as it exists
only in the mind.
3. Imaginary Supposition – is present when
the term signifies something which
can exist only in the imagination.
4. Metaphorical Supposition – is present
when the term signifies something
which can be true only by analogy to
5. Symbolic Supposition – is present when a
term signifies something which is true
only from agreement of a group of men.
6. Material Supposition – is present when the
term stands for itself insofar as it is a
a. On the Basis of the Extension:
1. Individual Supposition – is present when the
term stands for an individual person
2. Universal Supposition – is present when the
term stands for all the individuals
of a given whole.
3. Particular Supposition – is present when a
term stands for a portion of a given
whole or totality.
4. Indefinite Supposition – is present when a
term stands for unspecific
number of individuals.