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Questioning the development of abstract concepts.

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posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 08:34 PM
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Why do we, as humans, develop abstract concepts?
Non-material or fluid concepts, such as spirituality, love, success, freedom, morality.

I realise the catagory of abstract concepts is wide and varied - however, my question is more circulating around:

Is social conditioning responsible for all these mental developments? Or is there a genetic predisposition for it? Is it a sign of sentience?

Using spirituality as an example - how do you know for sure that there is something out there? Is it your personal experiences that have led to your opinion on that subject? Is it the way you were raised, and what you have been told? Are there examples of cultures who have developed in isolation without any spiritual belief system for the afterlife, or the big questions on How and Why?

Is it the question that drives our formulation of abstract concepts to explain or theorise? The question of Why and How?

Different examples of abstract concepts are Mathematics and language. These are not physical things at all. You cannot touch these ideas, or feel them. But are used every day.




posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 09:11 PM
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Interesting topic.

As for the question of spirituality - I suppose the whole idea behind this abstract concept is that nothing can be known for certain (at least, that's how I feel) but one can usually find safety in their own intuition, many practitioners of meditation have a 'safe place' in which they go in their meditations and talk to their 'spirit guide', and everybody feels differently in this state, and there are many different spirit guides. I don't really believe that they really exist, but that if you can't trust your own mind, then what can you trust? These spirit guides, I then argue, is probably a construct of our own minds and the spirit guide is a being with which we feel most secure. When I meditate, for example, my 'spirit guide' is a tree, and trees can't talk but I can still somehow communicate with it through emotions.

Mathematics is a different kind of abstract concept because it follows pure logic rather than intuition. One can come to the conclusion that, if you have one house, then build another house next to it, there shall be 2 houses close to each other. Likewise, if you take one house down, there will be only one house, or if you build twice as many houses, there will be 4 houses. These are considered as 'universal truths' which may or may not in actuality be true. However, the deeper one delves into mathematics, especially spatial mathematics like geometry one can branch off in several ways, the geometry being taught in schools, for example, is euclidian geometry, but it's known that Einstein started practicing another type of geometry - curved-space geometry in order to refine his theorems.
Some mathematical concepts contain deep-rooted truths however, which give way to some great philosophical debates, like the distance between any 2 points in euclidian geometry can be halved an infinite number of times (although, it is unknown if this is the case in reality). How did we come to such an illogical conclusion through the meticulous use of logic is beyond me, though.



posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 10:05 PM
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Abstract thought enables the mind to explore dimensions other than the ones being immediately perceived by the five senses.

The trap is in believing that dimensions accessed with abstract thought are less real than any other dimension.

The truth is that there is no such thing as a coincidence, every effect has a cause. Randomness is an illusion. Abstract thought is used to help make sense out of perceived chaos, but it in of itself is a crutch that must eventually be put aside.

Everything is meaningless. Life just IS. Experience IS. Consciousness IS.

Put aside abstract reasoning and you will wake up to a new reality...that you are in the Matrix, it has been right in front of your face this whole time, and haven't seen it because you were too busy trying to figure out what it meant.

Peace and Love,

Namaste.



posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 10:42 PM
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Originally posted by azurecara
Why do we, as humans, develop abstract concepts?
Non-material or fluid concepts, such as spirituality, love, success, freedom, morality.

I realise the catagory of abstract concepts is wide and varied - however, my question is more circulating around:

Is social conditioning responsible for all these mental developments? Or is there a genetic predisposition for it? Is it a sign of sentience?

As far as genetic predisposition, I would say no to a certain extent. Some things would be predisposed, at least in my opinion, but major "human" concepts are shaped by society. I would say without social conditioning you would be close to brain-dead or an animal (you need someone). And since I believe animals are sentient, that would skip question 3.


Using spirituality as an example - how do you know for sure that there is something out there? Is it your personal experiences that have led to your opinion on that subject? Is it the way you were raised, and what you have been told? Are there examples of cultures who have developed in isolation without any spiritual belief system for the afterlife, or the big questions on How and Why?

How do you know for sure anything is out there? It all reflects some type of sensory experience, and all of the sensory experience will develop some values of what is good or bad for you, and then you are going to come up with a belief. So without feeling first what is good or bad for you, how could then decide how real it is? it would just be "there". I agree with you on social development. Social systems all around the world greatly influence the idea of how real what you feel is true or not, regardless of what you may have initially thought otherwise.


Is it the question that drives our formulation of abstract concepts to explain or theorise? The question of Why and How?

An explanation creates reality, but it does not mean it is reality. And what "is" reality? How can there even be an "is" as well as an "ought"? Considering the functionality of language, in an attempt to explain or define for that matter, you are trying to use words to separate the details of our experience. Insomuch as to learn from the patterns the words generate.


Different examples of abstract concepts are Mathematics and language. These are not physical things at all. You cannot touch these ideas, or feel them. But are used every day.

What is physical? Does it have to vibrate at a certain frequency and be felt by our touch senses or be able to be measured in some sense? Does that make it physical? Because the measuring itself isn't, and yet that proves its physicality. And the touching couldn't be it, because we can't even feel half of our experience (oxygen+nitrogen, sounds below 20 hertz) what is considered "there" is only considered "there" from its observable relation to something else.

All in all, the abstractions that go beyond our senses, are as real as you perceive them to be. How is it that a patient can in part cure his illness from a placebo sugar-pill that has no real chemical affect on his or her consciousness? Or that you can actually feel frightened from darkness? In speaking to spirituality, how can you gain wisdom from not thinking (that's a tough one!) How can tones affect us in pleasure or displeasure. pleasure is an abstraction, wisdom, fear, comfort - but these are all "explanations", exactly like the rest of experience trying to be explained. The only difference I would say is, the "physical reality" is our external explanation and the "abstract reality" is our internal explanation, and one is very hard to observe in its relation to everything else that is "there".









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