Seventeenth-century atomist David Gorlaeus rejects Aristotelian forms and real universals in things while accepting components of Aristotelian accounts of knowledge including sensible species, the immateriality of the intellect and key features of realist theories of universals. To resolve two puzzles raised by his theory of knowledge I interpret Gorlaeus’ claims about universals in light of a contemporaneous Aristotelian view. Whether the puzzles are adequately resolved or not, they create a problem space within which figures like Descartes and Locke developed their views on the role of universals in scientific knowledge.

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