Abstract critique

Jump to navigation Jump to search This article is about the abstract critique of abstraction in general.

An abstraction» is the outcome of this process—a concept that acts as a super-categorical noun for all subordinate concepts, and connects any related concepts as a group, field, or category. Conceptual abstractions may be formed by filtering the information content of a concept or an observable phenomenon, selecting only the aspects which are relevant for a particular subjectively valued purpose. Abstraction in its secondary use is a material process, discussed in the themes below. Abstraction involves induction of ideas or the synthesis of particular facts into one general theory about something. It is the opposite of specification, which is the analysis or breaking-down of a general idea or abstraction into concrete facts. For example, picture 1 below illustrates the concrete relationship «Cat sits on Mat». For example, graph 1 below expresses the abstraction «agent sits on location».

Non-existent things in any particular place and time are often seen as abstract. By contrast, instances, or members, of such an abstract thing might exist in many different places and times. Abstract critique abstract things are then said to be multiply instantiated, in the sense of picture 1, picture 2, etc. It is not sufficient, however, to define abstract ideas as those that can be instantiated and to define abstraction as the movement in the opposite direction to instantiation. Karl Marx’s writing on the commodity abstraction recognizes a parallel process. Conceptually, ‘the current concept of the state is an abstraction from the much more concrete early-modern use as the standing or status of the prince, his visible estates’.

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However, in the secondary sense of the term ‘abstraction’, this physical object can carry materially abstracting processes. Abstract things are sometimes defined as those things that do not exist in reality or exist only as sensory experiences, like the color red. For example, it is difficult to agree to whether concepts like God, the number three, and goodness are real, abstract, or both. Questions about the properties of things are then propositions about predicates, which propositions remain to be evaluated by the investigator. For example, many different things can be red. The property of redness and the relation sitting-on are therefore abstractions of those objects.

Graph 1 details some explicit relationships between the objects of the diagram. For example, the arrow between the agent and CAT:Elsie depicts an example of an is-a relationship, as does the arrow between the location and the MAT. In philosophical terminology, abstraction is the thought process wherein ideas are distanced from objects. Typically, abstraction is used in the arts as a synonym for abstract art in general. Strictly speaking, it refers to art unconcerned with the literal depiction of things from the visible world—it can, however, refer to an object or image which has been distilled from the real world, or indeed, another work of art.

Computer scientists use abstraction to make models that can be used and re-used without having to re-write all the program code for each new application on every different type of computer. Abstractions and levels of abstraction play an important role in the theory of general semantics originated by Alfred Korzybski. Francis Fukuyama defines history as «a deliberate attempt of abstraction in which we separate out important from unimportant events». Researchers in linguistics frequently apply abstraction so as to allow analysis of the phenomena of language at the desired level of detail. A commonly used abstraction, the phoneme, abstracts speech sounds in such a way as to neglect details that cannot serve to differentiate meaning.

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