According to the Dictionary (2)

I would like to discuss “abstract” and “concrete” concepts a bit more thoroughly, since that seems to be the cause of confusion as some people oppose “concept” to “concrete”.
However, the opposite of “concrete” is “abstract” and a concept is just one form of abstract.

Concrete objects are objects we can touch, see or otherwise observe and that tend to be agreed upon by all (human) observers as being the same. Thus, a dog is a dog and not a cat.
The word “dog” or the word “cat” is not an object, but it is a descriptive concept of a tangible object.
A concept is by definition not tangible – it is abstract – but if it describes something tangible it can be taken literally and becomes a literal concept. But “cat” is a different word than “gato” and different than “chat” and yet they all indicate the same object, so that word-concepts are dependent on a pre-agreed language.
The same applies to other descriptive symbols, like musical notes or mathematical concepts – we have agreed to use “+” to indicate addition, but that doesn’t make it a tangible object. It is an abstract object that nonetheless indicates a precisely described meaning.
The same applies to “bachelor” – the always preferred example of philosophers. “Bachelor” is a word, no more, but it describes a male in a very specific social role and therefore can be objectively agreed about. Yet in a society that doesn’t accept marriage as an institution, it would be meaningless. Words are subject to change: Unmarried men will still exist even if we start using the word “bachelor” for unmarried women and assign unmarried men the title “available”.
A typical English example of such a word is “ceiling” that used to mean the floor you stood on, was later used for wall covering and is today meant to indicate the top of a room.

The above are all examples of what I called “concrete concepts”.
But there are also “abstract concepts”, which are concepts that refer to something that is neither a tangible object nor an exact descriptive or literal expression of a pre-agreed meaning. Everybody thinks they know what these words mean, but there is nothing we can compare them to and we cannot draw or describe them in any manner exactly, because the reason we ‘know’ what they mean is that it ‘feels’ correct. We are often astounded when we are confronted with somebody who gives a completely different meaning to an abstract concept than what we always took for granted. These are the words I am describing in this series – words like “truth”, “just”, “good”, “beauty”, “real”, “possible”, “reasonable”, “fair” and so on. These abstracts are not conceptual abstract (words or symbols based on a pre-agreed meaning), but perceptual abstracts that go deeper than verbal or written communication.

So, what I have called “concrete concepts” is possible better labelled as “conceptual abstracts”, and what I called “abstract concepts” are better termed “perceptual abstracts”, because they completely depend on your intuitions, senses and feelings (perceptions) and are therefore subjective.

Let me emphasize again that there is no right or wrong in interpreting these abstract words, exactly because we do not all do it in the same way and cannot compare to any objective standard. I accept that there could be some cultural influence, but I believe that the greatest common differences in how we interpret these words comes from the personality type we are born with – and thus the way we have dealt with our environment from birth.
Of course, after some contemplation, we may acknowledge one of the other interpretations, but we all tend to have one ‘gut’ feeling about their meaning.

Remember when you read the following three words that have been the object of endless debates and disagreements for as long as two millennia at least, that our personality type is a complex dynamic of the four aspects.

justification: an explanation, motivation or reason to support a belief or action:
o an objective motivation (E, S, T and J)
o a personal motivation (I, N, F and P)
o reasons can be found in the laws of nature: a truth (T)
o reasons can be found in human nature: a value (F)

true: a principle of knowledge considered accurate:
o in accord with objective (empirical) facts (E)
o truthful to one’s inner perspective or inner judge (I)
o in accord with tangible reality (S)
o in accord with reality as perceived beyond the observable (N)
o in accord with logical truth-tests (logically valid) (T)
o in accord with sincere motivation or care (F)

o an opinion about the world that needs justification and that may be false (T)
o a conviction; something that motivates one’s existence (F)
o accepting something that cannot be observed and may therefore not be real (E)
o accepting something on the basis of one’s personal perspective or inner perceptions (I)

Again, I would be happy with your responses and grateful if you can also give me your typename.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. syentumi
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 00:25:32

    Dear Mirjam, Once again, I am intrigued with your study! Here are my responses:

    justification: … an objective motivation.
    true: …in accord with reality as perceived beyond the observable.
    belief: a conviction; something that motivates one’s existence.

    I am an ENFJ personality type.


  2. nonentiti
    Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:17:45

    Thanks Shari Jo
    It is always great to get positive responses and confirmation. I’m really happy you like it.


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