abstractionism

Discipline: Philosophy

View that the mind gets some or all of its concepts by abstracting them from concepts it already has or from experience.

For example, one might abstract 'red' from a set of experiences, each involving red along with other properties; or (differently) abstract the generic concept 'animal' from the already possessed concepts of its species (cow, horse, and so on); or (differently again) abstract a determinable concept like 'color' from the concepts of its determinate forms (red, blue, and so on).

Abstractionism has been criticized on such grounds as that the resulting concepts or ideas would be impossibly empty or indeterminate (George Berkeley (1685-1753)), or that it could not produce concepts that play the roles our concepts actually do play (Geach).

Also See:

· P T Geach, Mental Acts (1957), 18-44

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