Abstract object


Abstract object

An abstract object is an object which does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing (as an idea, or abstraction). In philosophy, an important distinction is whether an object is considered abstract or concrete. Abstract objects are sometimes called abstracta (sing. abstractum) and concrete objects are sometimes called concreta (sing. concretum).

Contents

In philosophy

The type-token distinction identifies that physical objects are tokens of a particular type of thing. The "type" that it is a part of itself is an abstract object. The abstract-concrete distinction is often introduced and initially understood in terms of paradigmatic examples of objects of each kind:

Examples of Abstract and Concrete Objects
Abstractum Concreta
Tennis A tennis game
Redness The red coloring of an apple
Five Five cats
Justice A just action
Human Socrates

Abstract objects have often garnered the interest of philosophers because they are taken to raise problems for popular theories. In ontology, abstract objects are considered problematic for physicalism and some forms of naturalism. Historically, the most important ontological dispute about abstract objects has been the problem of universals. In epistemology, abstract objects are considered problematic for empiricism. If abstracta lack causal powers or spatial location, how do we know about them? It is hard to say how they can affect our sensory experiences, and yet we seem to agree on a wide range of claims about them. Some, such as Edward Zalta and arguably Plato (in his Theory of Forms), have held that abstract objects constitute the defining subject matter of metaphysics or philosophical inquiry more broadly. To the extent that philosophy is independent of empirical research, and to the extent that empirical questions do not inform questions about abstracta, philosophy would seem specially suited to answering these latter questions.

Abstract objects and causality

Another popular proposal for drawing the abstract-concrete distinction has it that an object is abstract if it lacks any causal powers. A causal power is an ability to affect something causally. Thus the empty set is abstract because it cannot act on other objects. One problem for this view is that it is not clear exactly what it is to have a causal power. For a more detailed exploration of the abstract-concrete distinction, follow the link below to the Stanford Encyclopedia article.[1]

Concrete and abstract thinking

Jean Piaget uses the terms "concrete" and "formal" to describe the different types of learning. Concrete thinking involves facts and descriptions about everyday, tangible objects, while abstract (formal operational) thinking involves a mental process.

Concrete idea Abstract idea
Heavy things sink It will sink if its density is greater than the density of the liquid.
You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide Gas exchange takes place between the air in the alveoli and the blood
Plants get water through their roots Water diffuses through the cell membrane of the root hair cells...

Terminology

In language, abstract and concrete objects are often synonymous with concrete nouns and abstract nouns. In English, many abstract nouns are formed by adding noun-forming suffixes ("-ness", "-ity", "-tion") to adjectives or verbs. Examples are "happiness", "circulation" and "serenity".

See also

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Object — may refer to: Object (philosophy), a thing, being or concept Entity, something that is tangible and within the grasp of the senses As used in object relations theories of psychoanalysis, that to which a subject relates. Object (grammar), a… …   Wikipedia

  • Abstract particulars — are metaphysical entities which are both abstract objects and particulars. Individual numbers are often classified as abstract particulars because they are neither concrete objects nor universals they are particular things which do not themselves …   Wikipedia

  • Abstract — may refer to: * Abstract (law) * Abstract (summary) * Abstract art * Abstract objectee also* Abstraction (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • Object theory — For the concept of objects in philosophy, see Object (philosophy). Object theory is a theory in philosophy and mathematical logic concerning objects and the statements that can be made about objects. Contents 1 An informal theory 2 Objects 3 A… …   Wikipedia

  • Object (philosophy) — Philosophy ( …   Wikipedia

  • Abstract structure — An abstract structure in mathematics is a formal object that is defined by a set of laws, properties, and relationships in a way that is logically if not always historically independent of the structure of contingent experiences, for example,… …   Wikipedia

  • Abstract — Ab stract (#; 277), a. [L. abstractus, p. p. of abstrahere to draw from, separate; ab, abs + trahere to draw. See {Trace}.] 1. Withdraw; separate. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] The more abstract . . . we are from the body. Norris. [1913 Webster] 2.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Abstract mathematics — Abstract Ab stract (#; 277), a. [L. abstractus, p. p. of abstrahere to draw from, separate; ab, abs + trahere to draw. See {Trace}.] 1. Withdraw; separate. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] The more abstract . . . we are from the body. Norris. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Abstract numbers — Abstract Ab stract (#; 277), a. [L. abstractus, p. p. of abstrahere to draw from, separate; ab, abs + trahere to draw. See {Trace}.] 1. Withdraw; separate. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] The more abstract . . . we are from the body. Norris. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Abstract terms — Abstract Ab stract (#; 277), a. [L. abstractus, p. p. of abstrahere to draw from, separate; ab, abs + trahere to draw. See {Trace}.] 1. Withdraw; separate. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] The more abstract . . . we are from the body. Norris. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.