Abstract reasoning filters details. It generalizes, simplifies and forms higher concepts by ignoring particulars. Abstractions refer to ambiguous general categories and ideas that may exist only in perception. They may depend more on filtering than on sensory experience so they can be quite subjective.
Abstractions are mental realities that are distanced from objects. Often they may lack referents in external reality. For instance, the negative integers or zero exist only as ideas. Obviously the abstract reasoning is not good in determining what is real but is apt at conceptualization, idealization, categorization, moralization, symbolism, language and, of course, religion, mythology and philosophy as they utilize all of them. Conceptual reasoning creates apparitions that ascribe meanings, give interpretations and may be helpful in understanding the tendencies.
Abstraction filters information for a certain purpose. It is a dedicated selection of facts that replaces experience with ideas. It is a natural basis of bias and devotion. Abstract reasoning is unrealistic but is indispensable in directing reasoning and in forming value systems. It may appear idealistic and unpractical but it is the mightiest tool of social adaptation.
Abstract reasoning quickens the grasping and forming of ideas by disregarding particularities but impedes an all-inclusive comprehension. It enhances the faculty of thinking to ascribe and perceive meaning of facts but impedes its ability to acquire thorough knowledge. It stimulates logic and suppresses factuality. It fosters intuition and imagination but inhibits rationality. It offers wisdom but withdraws accurateness.
Abstract reasoning is forward-thinking but such that stamps the present flat. It appears non-judgmental for small things but controls them altogether by regulating their meaning. Its open-mindedness is open only to the inside. The distant horizons it gazes at are introvertive. It shows to be reformative and altruistic and at the same time it is conservative and egocentric.
Abstract reasoning creates physical inadequacy and is emotionally upsetting. It intensifies the spiritual life. It weighs down the balance of reasoning towards what is spiritual, emotional and moral. It urges introversion, subjectivity and bias.
Abstract reasoning gives insight and dulls the sight. It opens the mind’s eye for things that may not exist. It develops imagination but its bright ideas may be blinding. It combines broad-mindedness and bigotry, idealism and conservatism, liberalism and intolerance, free thought and prejudice. It is fascinating and repulsive all together. Its advantages are relative and ambiguous. For better or worse, however, it is one of the main methods of human cognition.
A chain of oversimplifications easily leads to extremely unrepresentative oversophistications, the quantum physics and theologies being perfect examples for that.
One of the most attractive traits of abstraction is the reduced effort required to achieve something. Being simplification it offers shortcuts. It promises the easy way to perfection. It allures with quick accomplishment and stupefies. If left to itself it would trade everything for an idea. Be it the omnipresent God, the class struggle, the libido, relativity or quantum probability mentioned in their order of appearance.
Another appealing aspect of abstraction is its indisputability. Abstract notions are irrefutable because they are mental realities generated by the brain. They offer a steady shelter from reality that towers above criticism. Genius and insanity, intellect and fanaticism differ from each other mainly by the amount of the abstract ingredient of reasoning. Incontestability of concepts makes them unchangeable, dogmatic and in time they become authoritarian and retrograde.
But these most alluring sides of abstract reasoning encourage inaccuracy, indiscrimination, rashness, negligence, ignorance, unresponsiveness, insensitivity, spiritual rapaciousness, voracity, unscrupulousness, dogmatism, conservatism and degradation creating an imbalanced system of values. A moral too high dulls the acuteness of judgments; godliness too righteous makes one sinner.
Abstract reasoning disturbs the mind and lulls the body’s vigilance. While uplifting the mind it enslaves the body. It must be continually corrected and renormalized by senses, facts and experience. Insofar as it is considered unquestionable it should be incessantly questioned through cross-examination. Anyone who considers it infallible must be ridiculed for the sake of sanity. Otherwise its lofty ideals turn into doctrinarism, its ample scopes collapse into dogmatism, its devotion transforms into fanaticism and its liberalism becomes totalitarianism.
Abstraction is treacherous. It is impractical. Still its simplicity mesmerizes.
Too little of it is stupidity; too much of it is extremism.
It must be used with care because it is careless to details hence to individuals.
It should be feared as it is ghostly and authoritarian.
It should never be taken seriously because this empowers it.