Abstract and concrete, Analogy, Modeling - Philosophy

Abstract and concrete

The concrete as directly given, the sensually perceived whole is the starting point of knowledge. The thought separates certain properties and connections, for example, the form, the number of objects. In this distraction, visual perception and representation "evaporates" to the degree of abstraction, poor in content, because it is one-sided, incompletely reflects the object. We call knowledge abstract in the sense that it reflects, as it were, a purified, refined and already thus depleted fragment of reality. Abstractions are a kind of splinters holistic objects. And our thinking works with this kind of "fragments". From individual abstractions, thought constantly returns to the restoration of concreteness, but on a new, higher basis. Concrete now appears before the thought of man not as directly given to the senses, but as knowledge of the essential properties and connections of the object, the regular tendencies of its development, its intrinsic contradictions inherent in it. This is the concreteness of concepts, categories, theories, reflecting unity in the manifold, common in the individual. Thus, the thought moves from an abstract, poorly contented concept to a concrete, richer concept.


In the nature of the very understanding of the facts lies the analogy connecting the threads of the unknown with the known. The new can be understood, understood only through the images and concepts of the old, known. The first planes were created by analogy with how birds, kites and gliders behave in flight. An analogy is a plausible probable conclusion about the similarity of two objects in some attribute on the basis of their established similarity in other characters. In this case the conclusion will be all the more believable, the more similar features in the compared objects and than these signs more important. Despite the fact that analogies allow making only probable conclusions, they play a huge role in cognition, since they lead to the formation of hypotheses, i.e. scientific guesses and assumptions, which in the course of additional research and proof can turn into scientific theories. The analogy with what is already known helps to understand what is unknown. An analogy with what is relatively simple, helps to know what is more complex. Thus, by analogy with the artificial selection of the best breeds of domestic animals, Charles Darwin discovered the law of natural selection in the animal and vegetable world. The analogy with the flow of liquid in the tube played an important role in the appearance of the theory of electric current. Observations of the action of muscles served as a heuristic technique when creating an excavator. The most developed area where the analogy is often used as a method is the so-called similarity theory, which is widely used in modeling.


The increasing role of the modeling method is one of the characteristic features of modern scientific knowledge. Modeling is the practical or theoretical operation of an object, in which the studied object is replaced by some natural or artificial analogue, through the study of which we penetrate the object of knowledge. For example, by studying the properties of the airplane model, we thereby learn the properties the aircraft itself. Modeling is based on similarity, anthology, commonality of properties of various objects, on the relative independence of the form. Thus, the interaction of electrostatic charges (Coulomb's law) and the interaction of gravitational masses (the law of universal gravitation of Newton) are described by expressions identical in their mathematical structure, differing only in the proportionality coefficient (the constant of the Coulomb interaction and the gravitational constant). Flows of liquid, heat, etc. can be described by identical formulas. These formally common, identical features and relationships of two or more objects, with their difference in other relationships and attributes, are reflected in the concept of similarity or analogy, phenomena of reality.

A model is a means and a way of expressing the features and relationships of an object taken as the original. A model is an imitation of one or a number of properties of an object with the help of some other objects and phenomena, so the model can be any object that reproduces the required features of the original. If the model and the original are of the same physical nature, then we are dealing with physical modeling. Physical modeling is used as a method of experimental research on models of properties of building structures, buildings, aircraft, ships as a way to identify shortcomings in the work of the corresponding systems and find ways to eliminate them. When a phenomenon is described by the same system of equations as the modeled object, then such a simulation is called mathematical. If some sides of the modeled object are represented as a formal system with the help of signs, which is then studied in order to transfer the received information to the modeled object itself, then we are dealing with a logically signed simulation.

Simulation is always and inevitably associated with some simplification of the modeled object. At the same time, it plays a huge heuristic role, being a prerequisite for a new theory. Modeling is widely used because it makes it possible to study the processes characteristic of the original, in the absence of the original. This is often necessary because of the inconvenience of researching the object itself and for many other reasons: high prices, inaccessibility, immeasurability, etc. The cognitive functions of the model consist in the fact that it is much easier to produce, it is easier to carry out experiments with it than with the original, etc. Simulation is used to calculate the trajectories of ballistic missiles, when studying the mode of operation of machines and entire enterprises, as well as in the management of enterprises, in the distribution of material resources, in the study of life processes in the body, in society.

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