Here lies the challenge in both performing and presenting an analysis.
Origins[ edit ] Thinking in abstractions is considered by anthropologistsarchaeologistsand sociologists to be one of the key traits in modern human behaviourwhich is believed to have developed between 50, andyears ago. Its development is likely to have been closely connected with the development of human languagewhich whether spoken or written appears to both involve and facilitate abstract thinking.
History[ edit ] Abstraction involves induction of ideas or the synthesis of particular facts into one general theory about something.
It is the opposite of specification, which is the analysis or breaking-down of a general idea or abstraction into concrete facts. Abstraction can be illustrated with Francis Bacon 's Novum Organuma book of modern scientific philosophy written in the late Elizabethan era  of England to encourage modern thinkers to collect specific facts before making any generalizations.
Bacon used and promoted induction as an abstraction tool, and it countered the ancient deductive -thinking approach that had dominated the intellectual world since the times of Greek philosophers like ThalesAnaximanderand Aristotle.
He deduced or specified from a general idea, "everything is water", to the specific forms of water such as ice, snow, fog, and rivers. Modern scientists can also use the opposite approach of abstraction, or going from particular facts collected into one general idea, such as the motion of the planets Newton — When determining that the sun is the center of our solar system Copernicus —scientists had to utilize thousands of measurements to finally conclude that Mars moves in an elliptical orbit about the sun Kepler —or to assemble multiple specific facts into the law of falling bodies Galileo — Compression[ edit ] An abstraction can be seen as a compression process,  mapping multiple different pieces of constituent data to a single piece of abstract data;  based on similarities in the constituent data, for example, many different physical cats map to the abstraction "CAT".
This conceptual scheme emphasizes the inherent equality of both constituent and abstract data, thus avoiding problems arising from the distinction between "abstract" and " concrete ".
In this sense the process of abstraction entails the identification of similarities between objects, and the process of associating these objects with an abstraction which is itself an object. For example, picture 1 below illustrates the concrete relationship "Cat sits on Mat".
Chains of abstractions can be construed moving from neural impulses arising from sensory perception to basic abstractions such as color or shapeto experiential abstractions such as a specific cat, to semantic abstractions such as the "idea" of a CAT, to classes of objects such as "mammals" and even categories such as " object " as opposed to "action".
For example, graph 1 below expresses the abstraction "agent sits on location". This conceptual scheme entails no specific hierarchical taxonomy such as the one mentioned involving cats and mammalsonly a progressive exclusion of detail.
Instantiation[ edit ] Non-existent things in any particular place and time are often seen as abstract. By contrast, instances, or members, of such an abstract thing might exist in many different places and times.
Those abstract things are then said to be multiply instantiated, in the sense of picture 1, picture 2, etc. It is not sufficient, however, to define abstract ideas as those that can be instantiated and to define abstraction as the movement in the opposite direction to instantiation.
Doing so would make the concepts "cat" and "telephone" abstract ideas since despite their varying appearances, a particular cat or a particular telephone is an instance of the concept "cat" or the concept "telephone".
Although the concepts "cat" and "telephone" are abstractions, they are not abstract in the sense of the objects in graph 1 below.
We might look at other graphs, in a progression from cat to mammal to animal, and see that animal is more abstract than mammal; but on the other hand mammal is a harder idea to express, certainly in relation to marsupial or monotreme.
Perhaps confusingly, some philosophies refer to tropes instances of properties as abstract particulars —e. This is similar to qualia and sumbebekos. Material process[ edit ] Still retaining the primary meaning of 'abstrere' or 'to draw away from', the abstraction of money, for example, works by drawing away from the particular value of things allowing completely incommensurate objects to be compared see the section on 'Physicality' below.
Karl Marx 's writing on the commodity abstraction recognizes a parallel process. The state polity as both concept and material practice exemplifies the two sides of this process of abstraction. Conceptually, 'the current concept of the state is an abstraction from the much more concrete early-modern use as the standing or status of the prince, his visible estates'.
At the same time, materially, the 'practice of statehood is now constitutively and materially more abstract than at the time when princes ruled as the embodiment of extended power'.
That difference accounts for the ontological usefulness of the word "abstract".HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT: Tips and Samples Leah Carroll, Ph.D., Director, Office of Undergraduate Research An abstract is a short summary of your completed research.
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Your abstract is simply a short, stand-alone summary of the work or paper that others can use as an overview. An abstract describes what you do in your essay.
HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT: Tips and Samples Leah Carroll, Ph.D., Director, Office of Undergraduate Research An abstract is a short summary of your completed research.
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