Abstraction is falsification?

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Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 4:49 am

I am dumb and I need some things spelled out for me.

Someone on another forum once said that "Abstraction is falsification".

Can someone help me understand what that means?

I think he took it from Nietzsche.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Ecmandu » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:10 am

Magnus Anderson wrote:I am dumb and I need some things spelled out for me.

Someone on another forum once said that "Abstraction is falsification".

Can someone help me understand what that means?

I think he took it from Nietzsche.


Abstraction is any and everything. So this particular sentence is narrow but tautological.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Mowk » Wed Sep 30, 2020 5:36 am

There is no greater lie then the truth.

As a statement it sums notions of abstraction.

And I find no evidence to substantiate your claim.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:27 am

It's an odd phrasing, since falsification means the SHOWING that something is false and I am guessing that they meant 'making something false'. But my guess is that they meant that when you use abstractions to some degree this is fantasy. Of course it is an incredibly abstract statement itself. Nary a chair or stone in it at all.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:29 am

Ecmandu wrote:Abstraction is any and everything.


I don't follow. Care to elucidate?
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:30 am

Mowk wrote:There is no greater lie then the truth.


How can that be if they are defined as opposites?

And I find no evidence to substantiate your claim.


Sorry, what claim?
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:37 am

falsification means the SHOWING that something is false


Actually, that's only one of its meanings. (I think that's the meaning used in science.)

The other meaning, typically used outside of science, is that of "claiming that something is something that it is not".

To falsify a banknote, for example, is to create a fake one and then use it effectively claiming that a piece of paper that isn't proper money is proper money.

I can only guess that to falsify reality is to claim that something that isn't true is in fact true.

But how does abstraction do such a thing?
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:45 am

Magnus Anderson wrote:
falsification means the SHOWING that something is false


Actually, that's only one of its meanings. (I think that's the meaning used in science.)

The other meaning, typically used outside of science, is that of "claiming that something is something that it is not".

To falsify a banknote, for example, is to create a fake one and then use it effectively claiming that a piece of paper that isn't proper money is proper money.

I can only guess that to falsify reality is to claim that something that isn't true is in fact true.

But how does abstraction do such a thing?
Yes, you're right about the other meaning of falsification.

I think you would the idea would be that you are claiming that this abstraction exists when in fact you either have a variety of concrete examples, a bit like whether universals exist - and/or that a useful concept actually refers to something real, when in fact, for example, you just have matter swirling around.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:33 pm

Okay, so what you're saying is that "Abstraction is falsification" means "Every process of abstraction produces a false claim that an instance of some class exists".

Is that correct?

An example of a claim produced by the process of abstraction is "Cats exist."

That claim, it is argued, is false.

But I don't think it's false.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby iambiguous » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:39 pm

Magnus Anderson wrote:I am dumb and I need some things spelled out for me.

Someone on another forum once said that "Abstraction is falsification".

Can someone help me understand what that means?

I think he took it from Nietzsche.


I'll be accused by some here of "hijacking the thread", but what particular set of circumstances was involved when someone on another forum said that "abstraction is falsification"?

How about in conjunction with Nietzsche's conjectures that, "God is dead", or "the will to power" or the "Übermensch".

How are abstractions of this sort falsifications?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Silhouette » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:49 pm

Not sure if I can help here, but I'm familiar with Nietzsche.

I can't recall him writing those words from the books I've read by him, but it's been a while and there's still plenty of his books of his that I've not read.
However, the sentiment does resonate with what I understand of his general stance.

I was a bit perplexed by the thread title until you reminded us that "falsification" can also refer to the non-technical use of the term e.g. with your banknote analogy, which makes a lot more sense.
A general feel I get from Nietzsche is a grounding in the real: the concrete before the abstract.

This is heavily emphasised in his objection to Christianity, which inverts the legitimacy of more primal power structures and replaces them with a new power structure whereby the meek inherit the earth. This was regarded by him to be in line with the will to power of the oppressed: slave morality. With it, the earthly masters could be seen as evil, and the earthly slaves the good ones - as opposed to the aristocracy thinking simply in terms of what's "good or bad" for their kind. The common men were seen as dishonest due to their deviations from these traditional notions of "good or bad", when really they were simply acting in accordance with their own morality. Hence philological moral relativism that goes "beyond good and evil".

I think the same sentiment comes up in his problem with Socrates, who he saw as the first ancient Greek to abstract the head from the heart - but without resorting to those somewhat lame terms. I believe this is what he was trying to mend with his "Gay Science", to realign the head with the heart. He had the same objection to artists who produced "art for the sake of art", and to scientists who were too objective and "disinterested", and to other philosophers whose approach to philosophy was too much like a mental game. His famous objection to Schopenhauer was in part due to his judgment of him as too pessimistic with his head turned against his heart. Apparently Foucault was highly influenced with this Nietzschean approach to philosophy.

Nietszsche's philosophy is highly attuned to the physiological. Too much abstraction, or the wrong kind of abstraction can detract from this. It can serve to take one away from the more visceral reality of the world, and it was those who were doing this either intentionally or unintentionally that Nietzsche was against. I imagine that might be why Nietzsche could have regarded abstraction as falsification.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:54 pm

iambiguous wrote:what particular set of circumstances was involved when someone on another forum said that "abstraction is falsification"?


I can provide a link to that post, if you want. I'll be able to do that at a later point in time as I'm currently typing on my mobile -- I am in transit. (Fun fact: an immigrant is sitting next to me and he's smelling like shit.)
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:02 pm

Magnus Anderson wrote:Okay, so what you're saying is that "Abstraction is falsification" means "Every process of abstraction produces a false claim that an instance of some class exists".
That would be one possibility. Another might be that it is a kind of reification.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reification_(fallacy)

This might also be useful...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_universals
Is that correct?

An example of a claim produced by the process of abstraction is "Cats exist."

That claim, it is argued, is false.

But I don't think it's false.
The various things we call cats pretty obviously exist, at least in the various realisms. But are they just a bunch of different concrete things that WE batch in our minds or does the category exist out there also?

But i neither agree or disagree with the statement you asked about, so perhaps someone who holds that position can come and defend it. I'm happy if abstractions are mere heuristics or are real in some Platonic or other way. I have no skin in the game and I think that makes for a better discussion.

I think in some sense any abstraction is an approximation. And further oversimplifies. Or simplifies which is not pejorative. IOW to some degree a falsification. But I mean even metaphors can be extremely useful and they are clearly not true in a literal sense.

I think there is way, way, way too much thinking that thoughts are verbal representations of the world that are right or wrong. I think what happens is often more important. Of course these are not binary. People want the right assertion in their heads as if this is knowledge. I think knowledge is really the tip of the iceberg of action one can repeat and one desires. Is it a perfect mirror of reality? Does it refer correctly with no falsehood to something in reality?

Or does it work well?
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:22 pm

KT wrote:The various things we call cats pretty obviously exist, at least in the various realisms. But are they just a bunch of different concrete things that WE batch in our minds or does the category exist out there also?


You just spoke of a category -- i.e. a concept -- and those typically exist within minds. There are other ways they can exist. For example, they can manifest through behavior. But in each case, they exist within a conscious subject.

But how does abstraction lead to the belief that concepts exist in ways they actually don't?
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Dan~ » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:23 pm

Magnus Anderson wrote:I am dumb and I need some things spelled out for me.

Someone on another forum once said that "Abstraction is falsification".

Can someone help me understand what that means?

I think he took it from Nietzsche.


Abstraction means turning sensations into ideas.

Falsification has to do with discovering low qualities on a scale of high to low.
The purpose of discovering the low, is to find fault and to perfect the point of the object.

As far as i see it.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby iambiguous » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:25 pm

Magnus Anderson wrote:
iambiguous wrote:what particular set of circumstances was involved when someone on another forum said that "abstraction is falsification"?


I can provide a link to that post, if you want. I'll be able to do that at a later point in time as I'm currently typing on my mobile -- I am in transit. (Fun fact: an immigrant is sitting next to me and he's smelling like shit.)


Okay, provide the link. Or focus instead on any particular abstraction from Nietzsche. What always matters to me is the extent to which what someone like Nietzsche believed in his head that words as abstractions mean are or are not able to be demonstrated given a particular situation relating to things like God or will to power or Übermensch.

Why his definitions and meaning and not others when the words become entangled in conflicting goods such that actual rules of behaviors are enacted resulting in behaviors that are rewarded or punished.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:40 pm

KT wrote:I think in some sense any abstraction is an approximation. And further oversimplifies. Or simplifies which is not pejorative. IOW to some degree a falsification. But I mean even metaphors can be extremely useful and they are clearly not true in a literal sense.


Consider the following scenario.

There is a physical cat in front you and right next to it there is a piece of paper with "CAT" written on it.

That piece of paper is a symbol that completely accurately -- witg zero error -- represents the cat.

This is despite the fact that 1) the piece of paper looks nothing like the cat, 2) the piece of paper is simpler than the actual cat in the sense thst it conveys less information than the cat itself, and 3) the piece of paper can be used to represent other cats.

There is no falsification here.

(An example of falsification would be using the word "dog" to represent a cat.)
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby obsrvr524 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:03 pm

Isn't an abstraction just a classification reduction? I think it would be a false claim to state that a classification or a category is itself a real entity. In that use an abstraction would be a false claim. I don't know anyone who actually intends it that way. When someone says "that thing is a tree" ("tree" being a classification abstract idea) they are not saying "a tree is that thing". They are not making the claim that the abstraction is a thing. They are saying that there are things that fit into the abstract category or order of namings.

Why is it that so much of what passes as philosophy is actually just a confused or conflated word usage?
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:43 pm

observer wrote:Isn't an abstraction just a classification reduction? I think it would be a false claim to state that a classification or a category is itself a real entity. In that use an abstraction would be a false claim. I don't know anyone who actually intends it that way. When someone says "that thing is a tree" ("tree" being a classification abstract idea) they are not saying "a tree is that thing". They are not making the claim that the abstraction is a thing. They are saying that there are things that fit into the abstract category or order of namings.


My point exactly.

When someone points at a physical tree and says "This is a tree" they are merely saying "This thing I am pointing at with my finger can be represented by the word tree i.e. it belongs to the category represented by the word tree". They are NOT saying -- unless they are aliens -- that the physical thing is the concept itself.

Also -- and this seems to be even more important -- they aren't saying that the symbolized (physical tree) and the symbol (word "tree") look exactly the same nor are they saying that the word can ONLY represent that particular tree.

I think that people have trouble understanding what it means for a symbol to accurately represent some portion of reality.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby obsrvr524 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:58 pm

Magnus Anderson wrote:I think that people have trouble understanding what it means for a symbol to accurately represent some portion of reality.

I haven't payed a great deal of attention to philosophy until very recently (my wife forbids philosophy in our house) but I have observed that kind of confusion stirring many arguments. I have always just taken it as sign of the extreme abundance of poor and misguided education creating idiots.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Dan~ » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:39 pm

Magnus Anderson wrote:
observer wrote:Isn't an abstraction just a classification reduction? I think it would be a false claim to state that a classification or a category is itself a real entity. In that use an abstraction would be a false claim. I don't know anyone who actually intends it that way. When someone says "that thing is a tree" ("tree" being a classification abstract idea) they are not saying "a tree is that thing". They are not making the claim that the abstraction is a thing. They are saying that there are things that fit into the abstract category or order of namings.


My point exactly.

When someone points at a physical tree and says "This is a tree" they are merely saying "This thing I am pointing at with my finger can be represented by the word tree i.e. it belongs to the category represented by the word tree". They are NOT saying -- unless they are aliens -- that the physical thing is the concept itself.

Also -- and this seems to be even more important -- they aren't saying that the symbolized (physical tree) and the symbol (word "tree") look exactly the same nor are they saying that the word can ONLY represent that particular tree.

I think that people have trouble understanding what it means for a symbol to accurately represent some portion of reality.


Many people miss this important point about abstraction.
It is a common error among the self-called philosophers.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby WendyDarling » Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:09 am

Magnus Anderson wrote:
falsification means the SHOWING that something is false


Actually, that's only one of its meanings. (I think that's the meaning used in science.)

The other meaning, typically used outside of science, is that of "claiming that something is something that it is not".

To falsify a banknote, for example, is to create a fake one and then use it effectively claiming that a piece of paper that isn't proper money is proper money.

I can only guess that to falsify reality is to claim that something that isn't true is in fact true.

But how does abstraction do such a thing?


By removing specifics/details, an abstraction can be presented as many various 'things' which it is not once the specifics and details are reintroduced. An abstraction is a partially defined entity, not a completely defined anything. Abstraction is more akin to obscurantism.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby obsrvr524 » Thu Oct 01, 2020 1:40 am

WendyDarling wrote:By removing specifics/details, an abstraction can be presented as many various 'things' which it is not once the specifics and details are reintroduced. An abstraction is a partially defined entity, not a completely defined anything. Abstraction is more akin to obscurantism.

I thought abstraction meant taking what is common among the individuals within a group to assemble an overall picture. That is not the same as a definition of the group or of any individual member.

An abstraction of the US Democrat party is a party of big government, high taxes, centralized government, and citizen behavior control (socialism). That is almost the opposite of the definition of "democrat" and doesn't necessarily portray any one member. The abstraction of the group reflects the behavior of the group as a whole even if no one in the group is exactly described, just like with the idea of a tree.

But I'm just guessing at this stuff so don't take me too seriously.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:42 am

Magnus Anderson wrote:
KT wrote:I think in some sense any abstraction is an approximation. And further oversimplifies. Or simplifies which is not pejorative. IOW to some degree a falsification. But I mean even metaphors can be extremely useful and they are clearly not true in a literal sense.


Consider the following scenario.

There is a physical cat in front you and right next to it there is a piece of paper with "CAT" written on it.

That piece of paper is a symbol that completely accurately -- witg zero error -- represents the cat.

This is despite the fact that 1) the piece of paper looks nothing like the cat, 2) the piece of paper is simpler than the actual cat in the sense thst it conveys less information than the cat itself, and 3) the piece of paper can be used to represent other cats.

There is no falsification here.

(An example of falsification would be using the word "dog" to represent a cat.)
To me it is not a binary falsification. Like it is utterly true or false. But I think most of us can notice how thinking of things via abstraction can be coupled with not noticing specific concrete examples in their full complexity often being surprised later. And I think people are much more Platonic than you realize. It's not just a symbol to most people. How many people, for example, carry their abstractions about the opposite sex into their interactions without even realizing how this distorts their interactions with them.

Wendy also gave a different but similar take.

I am not suggesting, nor are the strong advocates of those skeptical positions, that one stop using words or categories. And, again, the person who said that quote was using abstractions. In fact the quote is only abstractions. I do think it introduces something useful. That doesn't mean it has to erase all other positions. For me it is a healthy warning. Others might make it more of a metaphysical position. My experience is most people actually interact with categories and abstractions and live in a partial dream world. They have trouble noticing how their beliefs simplify their experiences and lead to them missing things and much of this depends on seeing their abstactions instead of noticing what is actually happening. Now, again, this is not binary, like one can flip a switch and turn off ones abstractions and have a pure raw experience of the world. But I think most of us can see extremely pathological versions, where people only interact with categories and abstractions. I think the pathology is present in more average cases. And right now this is really coming out in the open and not just in politics.

But, now I will bow out. I think it's better if a real advocate of the position takes over, perhaps they already have.
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Re: Abstraction is falsification?

Postby Magnus Anderson » Thu Oct 01, 2020 3:58 pm

Wendy Darling wrote:By removing specifics/details, an abstraction can be presented as many various 'things' which it is not once the specifics and details are reintroduced. An abstraction is a partially defined entity, not a completely defined anything. Abstraction is more akin to obscurantism.


I have two questions:

1) What does "partially defined" mean?
(I can only interpret it in one of the following two ways: 1) that it refers to a verbal description that does not fully describe the concept that it is supposed to describe, and 2) that the meaning of a symbol is not fully determined i.e. that there are things for which it is not established whether they can be represented by that symbol or not.)

2) Why is abstraction more akin to obscurantism?
(When you say "obscurantism" I assume you are referring to the practice of deliberately presenting information in a manner that is difficult to understand. I get it that people often say "That is too abstract!" when presented with a concept they have difficulty understanding. But the word "abstract" does not mean "difficult to understand".)

Also, I don't understand this statement:

"An abstraction can be presented as many various "things" which it is not once the specifics and details are reintroduced"

What do you mean when you say "An abstraction can be presented as many various things"?

Of course, there are symbols that can be used to represent more than one thing. Indeed, the greater the number of things it can represent, the more abstract it is. Is that what you're saying? That any given abstraction can be used to represent more than one thing?

And what do you mean when you say "which it is not once the specifics and details are reintroduced"?
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