Is abstracted thinking really as good as people claim?

This writer has a negative view on abstracted thinking.

Delivering to a customer, a dog rushed out to meet me.  It seemed an enthusiastic dog, waiting expectantly, as if I had to do something.  The owner informed me the person who delivered the mail gave the dog peppermint sweets.  This dog is an example of concrete thinking, that deliverer = yummy peppermint treats. Many cats operate in similar fashion where person at door = open door, thus they wait expectantly at the door when I arrive. Concrete thinking is the normal mode of thinking amongst mammals, and so the animal trainer can relate with them in this way.

Small children start life as concrete thinkers.  A child may associate bedtime with bedroom, so they think if they keep out of the bedroom it won’t be bedtime.  Adults think in abstract terms, bedtime = time on a clock.  Modern society appears to work towards educating children out of concrete thinking in favour of abstract thinking.

Often concrete thinking is considered inferior, a disability or immature.  I ran an internet search on abstract thinking and had the impression that the writers behind those sites considered abstract thinking good, and concrete thinking as inferior.

Aspergers and Autistic types are concrete thinkers, they have trouble thinking in abstract terms, which gives rise to treating words literally.  If a “normal” person says to an Aspergic person they will kill them over a broken bottle (non literally), the Aspergic person will think that a threat to their life has been made, and an “incident” could occur.  The Aspergic person has thought in concrete ways, and the “normal” person in abstracted ways.  The problem is the “normal” person.

It could be considered the “truth” of any object in the universe is how it acts, functions, relates to us, and what our senses tell us about it; this is concrete thinking.  Abstracted thinking would separate meaning from the object, and often place a different false meaning to that object.  The following is a quote I took from a web site on abstracted thinking:

“This is abstract thinking: to see nothing in the murderer except the abstract fact that he is a murderer, and to annul all other human essence in him with this simple quality.”

In concrete terms women played the central role in society in ancient times, considered to be the personification of the mother goddess, and the provider of children to the tribe or family group.  With the progress of civilisation, and especially writing, abstracted thinking took over, and women became abstracted with new meanings applied: they were sinful evil creatures in the eyes of the Church; reduced to status of property to the Roman male. In the modern age, abstraction twists the roles of women further, with feminists giving the impression that the female-type who is master of her home and children is in some manner demeaning to womanhood.  Abstraction appears to have turned the ancient role and status of women upside down. Today, everyone is confused and fighting over the status and roles of women.

I treat abstracted thinking with increasing suspicion and negativity.  I could be wrong, but as I write I am unable to think of anything positive to say about abstracted thinking.

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5 responses to “Is abstracted thinking really as good as people claim?

  1. “I treat abstracted thinking with increasing suspicion and negativity. I could be wrong, but as I write I am unable to think of anything positive to say about abstracted thinking”

    Nietzsche, is at-least correct on some things when he writes: “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” Not to sound to trite Alex, but mankind is better off each new generation than the one before, perhaps a change of perspective would solve the problem?

    Chin up!

    • one question, what is a hypothesis, if not an abstract thought awaiting concrete evidence?

      • Thanks for replies Otove. One generation had no atomic bomb and no capability to blow up entire cities, the next generation did, now the newer generation can kill the whole world with bombs, does this make the newer generation better than the last generation in some positive manner?

        I deal with two philosophies in making my own: Greek (abstract) and Celtic (concrete). “Hypothesis” is a proposal to explain a problem, which the Greek philosopher uses abstracted ways to do. Though the Celt could use concrete thinking to explain and solve a problem too, based upon a highly sophisticated philosophy that they have stored in their heads.

        One of the challenges of the philosopher is to seek the truth of things, and they use many techniques to do that. Sometimes the answers can be depressing.

      • Alex, one generation had no shoes, the next did, one had no access to running water or fresh fruit and veg year round.

        Hasn’t philosophy/abstract thinking – accomplished a greater Good, through technology, which it’self is merely the most efficient cause?

        Got me thinking anyway,

      • Certainly technology has made it easier to live; for instance buying chicken at the supermarket as opposed to chasing it with a bow and arrow.

        The focus of my attack is the separation of the true meaning of an object from the object, then the replacement of that meaning with something else that is false, thus wiping out the integrity of the thing spoken of. If philosophy seeks the truth of things then it comes up against these false meanings, and seeks to determine what is the true meaning.

        The number of objects with false meanings (I call these pseudo-forms) are so many, I ask why should this be? My focus then turns to writing first, and then to abstract thinking, as the reasons. I then ask, what is the best way to overcome this? I consider then concrete thinking to be one answer.

        The Chinese still retain a concrete thinking approach to reality.

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