Philosophy fundamentals – abstracts and abstract ideas

Philosophy fundamentals – abstracts and abstract ideas May 26, 2014

This subject is fundamental to much of philosophy. It underpins disciplines like moral philosophy, and so it provides the ontology of the building bricks of our reality. This video explains abstracts and why they are so vital:

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  • johzek

    Concepts are mental abstractions that are formed by the human mind in an objective manner. In short, by noting the similarities of some of the objects of which we are perceptually aware, to each other, these similar entities can then be isolated into a mental unit known as a concept. By isolating the essentials of this mental unit a definition can then be formed. The mental abstraction which is the concept contains within it all the particular entities whose properties satisfy the definition.
    Consider the definition of chair as given by Dictionary.com. “A seat, especially for one person, usually having four legs for support and a rest for the back and often having rests for the arms.” Although tree stumps, large rocks, and stairs, are all objects that a person can sit on they are not referred to as chairs because they are not at all similar to the objects which inform the concept of chair. In fact these other objects already have their own labels which refer to the concepts that more accurately identify them.
    In a previous post of yours you characterize concept formation as so subjective that it would seem that a usable and effective definition of a particular concept would be very hard to come by, and thus make communication all that more difficult as a result. In that post you say, “We, as humans, label the chair abstractly and it only means a chair to those who see it as a chair, it is subjective.” Objects such as chairs do not mean anything. We perceive them and then identify them. If we perceive an object and it possesses the essential characteristics of the similar objects that we have come to identify by the word chair then this newly perceived object can also be identified by the word chair. If this object we are perceiving is not similar to the objects we have come to identify by the word chair but is similar to tree stumps instead then it is proper to identify it as a tree stump. A chair is just a particular kind of object upon which a person can sit. Initial concept formation by the mind can be viewed as essentially an inductive process whereas the subsequent determination of inclusion within a concept is a deductive process.
    The objects of which we are perceptually aware exist independently of our conscious awareness of them. No amount of wishing or hoping or praying on our part can alter their identities and the actions they perform. This is what objectivism means. We human beings must necessarily as the perceiving agents, identify various properties objects might possess which may be useful in describing them, and as long as we are describing facts about the object this can hardly be characterized as subjective.

    • Hi there, this slipped my radar. Will reply later.

      JP

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Whist some objects might have universal agreement from all conceivers, others don’t. There is a continuum, I would think. But even universal consensus does not magic the label into ontic reality, just a universal subjective one. ie objective as described as mind-independent does not cohere with the idea of abstract as mind-dependent things which may or may not have universal consensus associated with them.

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