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Abstraction isn’t real, it’s imaginary.


Abstraction isn’t real. It only exists in the mind, it only ever takes place in the mind. Abstraction never occurs in “reality.” Abstraction is the act of conceiving of something as removed from its context. It is the act of visualizing or conceiving of something “in and of itself.”

But nothing is “in and of itself.” There is no abstraction in reality, only in the mind of the abstractor. You cannot remove anything from its context, you can only move it from one context to another. There is no contextless world of forms, that is the imagination. The imagination is the part of the mind devoted to visual mental conception.

IMAG-ination. It is the realm of mental images. Abstraction is when we imagine an object or a thing or an idea as it is removed from its context. But removing a figure from its context is impossible.

When we perceive objects with our eyes we project lines around them to separate them out from everything else so that we can identify them. This act of defining the things we see and separating them out into individual objects is a helpful way of getting more, better information out of visual sense data.

That’s what abstraction is, it is a visual aid. If we believe that objects can be separated and have a reality or essence apart from their context then we can categorize and order what we see and make inferences about similar things that we see. But no two trees are the same, no two balls are the same ball.

Abstract categories are imaginary. Nothing is equivalent to anything else. Everything is its own particular occurence. The categorization and equivocation of this tree and that tree both being categorically trees is something that only occurs in the mind, it is not the fundamental reality of things.

In fact abstraction is the opposite of the fundamental reality of things. It is completely imaginary. It is a tool of the imagination but we act as though its realer than real. We think that abstraction is more real than the experience of our senses. This is the legacy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

They taught that the senses couldn’t be trusted and that the “ideal forms” of things were the key to understanding their true “nature” or “essence.” But this is nonsense.

Abstraction is the arbitrary amputation of a part of the universe from the rest of the universe that takes place in the mind of the beholder or imaginer or abstract thinker in order to try to examine the arbitrary piece of the universe so as to understand how it works. But this is silly because the thing doesn’t work without the rest of the universe working simultaneously with it. It doesn’t exist in and of itself, except for in the mind of the abstractor.

There is no being, there is only occurring. Things don’t just be. They are constantly doing something in concert and context with the entirety of everything else that’s happening around them. They are constantly in a state of dynamically occurring or happening rather than in a state of static being. Being implies that the time in which one “is” doesn’t matter, nor the place. You are never just being, removed completely from any context. You are constantly happening along with what’s happening around you, and reality is never not happening around you.

You can’t just be. There is no intrinsic essence that makes you you even if nothing else existed. You are a complete product of your context/environment. You are your environment. The separation of you from your environment only happens in your mind, it isn’t actually happening out here in reality. There is no you, without the context of everything else. You and your context are happening together, you’re the same event, you might even say the same “being” (if you must).

There is no separation only distance.

“The ten thousand things arise together;
in their arising is their return.
Now they flower,
and flowering
sink homeward,
returning to the root.

The return to the root
is peace.
Peace: to accept what must be,
to know what endures.
In that knowledge is wisdom.
Without it, ruin, disorder.”
— Lao Tzu