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Abstractions as such do not exist?

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Abstractions as such do not exist: they are merely man’s epistemological method of perceiving that which exists—and that which exists is concrete.

How can this be the case? 

 "they are merely man's epistemological method of perceiving that which exists." Seems to be saying that man's epistemological method of perceiving that which exists, doesn't exist.

 

This is so strange that feel like I'm missing something. 

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31 minutes ago, Kenny Davis said:

Seems to be saying that man's epistemological method of perceiving that which exists, doesn't exist.

Abstractions point to things in reality, but they are not the things that they point out to. For example, the concept 'cat' is not a cat - it is a mental entity.

The concept 'abstraction' is an abstraction of the process of abstraction. It points to the method, but it is not the method itself. The concept and the process it refers to are separate. 

Abstractions exist - as mental entities. Outside of your head, there are only the concretes that your abstractions are meant to classify. For example, you cannot point your finger to 'mammal' or 'art', only to specific instances - such as a cow or a painting.

Edited by KyaryPamyu

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36 minutes ago, KyaryPamyu said:

Abstractions exist - as mental entities.

Then, they exist ... as mental entities. Not as metaphysical entities.

Do mental entities exist? In the mind of someone, yes. Not out there for all of us to perceive.

So isn't the answer to the question "Do abstractions exist?" ... depends on what you mean by it? or Depends on how you are looking at it?
 

 

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

Then, they exist ... as mental entities. Not as metaphysical entities.

Do mental entities exist? In the mind of someone, yes. Not out there for all of us to perceive.

So isn't the answer to the question "Do abstractions exist?" ... depends on what you mean by it? or Depends on how you are looking at it?
 

 

I think if you looked at it literally it's more complicated than the bare question "do they exist".

Consider by analogy the processes and functions of your perceptual apparatus which gives rise to a perception.  Consider also there are two viewpoints generally by which one could hope to analyze it.  A third person viewpoint sees sensory stimuli in reality impinginging upon the physical parts of the perceptual apparatus, processes are set into operation and a conversion is made into chemical and electrical signalling and activation which are carried and propagated through the nervous system and to various centres of the brain.  By all rights, from the third person perspective the perception is the process and the complex system carrying it out and undergoing the process. The other viewpoint is the first person view of the conscious entity who is experiencing the perceiving.  This is in quality quite different from the third person view but it is also a true identification of the "what" of reality that is the act of perception.  

I think all mental activity is just that, a process (a static brain is dead... only an active electrical and chemical signalling brain is alive).  So does a process which corresponds to the act of thinking with use of abstractions exist?  Can some aspect of the complex system and the processes involved be identified as giving rise to that part of the thought which is the abstraction? I see no reason why not.  If those systems and processes responsible for abstraction exist then in that way abstractions exist.  Certainly in the sense that they happen and in fact have causal consequences by virtue of man's use of them in volitional action they exist,  in a complex way, but not in a child's view of thoughts rattling around in ones head like so many literal tiny little toy replicas of things to which the thoughts refer.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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Using the scholastic approach that I do within this subject (Objectivism, in general) here's what I found on "abstractions as such do not exist":

From Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology
Appendix—The Role of Words

the fact that Aristotle is right and not Plato is very relevant here: abstractions, as such, do not exist. Only concretes exist. We could not deal with a sum of concrete objects constantly without losing our grasp of them. But what do we do conceptually? We substitute a concrete—a visual or auditory concrete—for the unlimited, open-ended number of concretes which that new concrete subsumes.

Objectivism:The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
Chapter 12—Art

By converting abstractions into percepts, art performs another crucial (and inseparable) function. It not only integrates metaphysics, but also objectifies it. This means: it enables man to contemplate his view of the world in the form of an existential object—to contemplate it not as a content of his consciousness, but "out there," as an external fact. Since abstractions as such do not exist, there is no other way to make one's metaphysical abstractions fully real to oneself (or, therefore, fully operative as one's guide). "To acquire the full, persuasive, irresistible power of reality," Miss Rand writes, "man's metaphysical abstractions have to confront him in the form of concretes—i.e., in the form of art."

The Objectivist Newsletter: Vol. 4 No. 4   April, 1965
Check Your Premises: The Psycho-Epistemology of Art
By Ayn Rand

and/or
The Romanic Manifesto
1. The Psycho-Epistemology of Art

The existential consequences, of course, will differ. Amidst the incalculable number and complexity of choices that confront a man in his day—by-day existence, with the frequently bewildering torrent of events, with the alternation of successes and failures, of joys that seem too rare and suffering that lasts too long-he is often in danger of losing his perspective and the reality of his own convictions.  Remember that abstractions as such do not exist: they are merely man's epistemological method of perceiving that which exists-and that which exists is concrete. To acquire the full, persuasive, irresistible power of reality, man's metaphysical abstractions have to confront him in the form of concretes-i.e., in the form of art.

The Objectivist—March 1966
Art And Sense Of Life
By Ayn Rand

"Abstractions as such do not exist: they are merely man's epistemological method of perceiving that which exists—and that which exists is concrete. To acquire the full, persuasive, irresistible power of reality, man's metaphysical abstractions have to confront him in the form of concretes—i.e., in the form of art." ("The Psycho-Epistemology of Art.")

So when you ask,

3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

depends on what you mean by it? or Depends on how you are looking at it?

shouldn't the answer be: "As objectively as can be mustered."?

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5 hours ago, Kenny Davis said:

Abstractions as such do not exist: they are merely man’s epistemological method of perceiving that which exists—and that which exists is concrete.

How can this be the case? 

 "they are merely man's epistemological method of perceiving that which exists." Seems to be saying that man's epistemological method of perceiving that which exists, doesn't exist.

 

This is so strange that feel like I'm missing something. 

Could you explain why you think this is strange: by providing a couple of examples where you think abstractions exist. That will give others something to work with.

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59 minutes ago, dream_weaver said:

shouldn't the answer be: "As objectively as can be mustered."?

You asked it identifying the context and perspective, so the answer is "abstractions don't exist".

But without any context, a person could say yes they do. They are in some people's subjective reality. (Only some, since some people may not have generated the abstraction).

I see an abstraction is like a blueprint of a house that does not exist, it is not the house. The blueprint itself can exist.

 

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9 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

"Man" is an abstraction.

Does Man exist?

Which man?

Isn't the "abstraction man" all men that have ever lived, or live or will live?

Man, "as an abstraction" does not exist.

Man, the mental picture of man, does not exist in the real world.

Edited by Easy Truth

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Wait, so it's accurate to say "Man does not exist."?

1 minute ago, Easy Truth said:

Which man?

Isn't the "abstraction man" all men that have ever lived, or live or will live?

Man, "as an abstraction" does not exist.

Man, the mental picture of man, does not exist.

I didn't say anything about mental pictures nor man "as an abstraction".

It's a simple question. Does Man exist? Yes or no.

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1 minute ago, SpookyKitty said:

Wait, so it's accurate to say "Man does not exist."?

I didn't say anything about mental pictures nor man "as an abstraction".

It's a simple question. Does Man exist? Yes or no.

But it's not a simple question.

The way you ask it, the answer is yes and no.

Without a context, a person has to answer it in all contexts. I answered it in one of them.

If I said yes and no, you would have asked me, in what sense? (at least that is what I would do)

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Just now, Easy Truth said:

But it's not a simple question.

Yes it is a simple question!

It doesn't get any simpler!

Spoiler

The way you ask it, the answer is yes and no.

Without a context, a person has to answer it in all contexts. I answered it in one of them.

If I said yes and no, you would have asked me, in what sense? (at least that is what I would do)

The context is absolutely clear. In fact, I've made it clearer by pointing out that I wasn't asking about mental pictures and suchlike.

Does Man exist? Does justice exist? Does art exist? Does existence exist?

How are these not simple questions?

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4 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

I see, okay, based on the context you give, which I interpret as man as a concrete, not an abstraction

Yes, Man does exist.

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. You are "interpreting" an abstraction as a concrete? How did you do that? Do you have magical transmutation powers that can turn a thing from one metaphysical type to another? Because you are now saying that Man, an abstraction, is something that it is not, namely a concrete.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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9 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. You are "interpreting" an abstraction as a concrete? How did you do that? Do you have magical transmutation powers that can turn a thing from one metaphysical type to another?

Epistemologically speaking, I would have to say yes. And you have that power too. But it's not magic.

I was sitting in my chair watching the computer monitor and you transmuted my activity into something called "interpreting". How did that happen? Wow! Looks like magic!

Edited by Easy Truth

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6 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

Epistemologically speaking, I would have to say yes. And you have that power too. But it's not magic.

On what conceivable rational epistemological basis could you possibly be justified in saying that an abstraction is something that it is not?

PS: I'm pretty sure I don't have any such mystical power, and you don't either.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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3 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

Indeed. And that can only be if it is an abstraction?

No, for instance, someone who has never met another human would not generate that abstraction.

You have to see more than one to generate the abstraction.

Things exist, even if there are no abstractions that refer to them.

Edited by Easy Truth

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6 minutes ago, Easy Truth said:

No, for instance, someone who has never met another human would not generate that abstraction.

You have to see more than one to generate the abstraction.

That is completely irrelevant. The concept Man still refers to all humans regardless of whether or not this or that person has realized it or not.

Quote

Things exist, even if there are no abstractions.

But "things" is itself an abstraction. How can things exist if the totality of all those things doesn't?

Edited by SpookyKitty

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2 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

That is completely irrelevant. The concept Man still refers to all humans regardless of whether or not this or that person has realized it or not.

How can things exist if the totality of all those things doesn't?

 

You are right. "The concept Man still refers to all humans regardless of whether or not this or that person has realized it or not". My bad.

3 minutes ago, SpookyKitty said:

How can things exist if the totality of all those things doesn't?

They would not. That would be a contradiction if they did.

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Just now, Easy Truth said:

You are right. "The concept Man still refers to all humans regardless of whether or not this or that person has realized it or not". My bad.

They would not. That would be a contradiction if they did.

So, again, it is correct to say that Man exists and that Man is an abstraction?

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