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I was thinking about the general, common understanding of the difference between S types and N types. Is it true that N types are more abstract than S types, on average? But even before we could ask that question, what does even being abstract actually mean?

Let's say i made the following discourse:

If a question brings the validity of X into question, then you would not try to address the question by making use of what is asked about, because that would be logically impossible. I mean, if some response to this question has to make use of X (i.e. accept it as reliable), then that response could not serve as an answer to a question where the reliability of X is the subject matter, which means that it couldn't possibly serve as an answer to any question where X is brought into question. You can't use X to justify X.
Would you regard that as abstract thinking, because it is not making use of empirical examples? Or would you regard it as concrete thinking, since the concept is well defined, precise, and non vacuous?

It seems to me that most people would regard that as abstract thinking. I could already see someone stopping the discourse mid way to ask "could you make an example?"

So, if by abstract thinking we mean something which is not based on empirical examples, something with general validity, what does this imply for the difference between S types and N types? I would say that S types are inclined to reason in an inductive manner (from the particular to the general) while N types are inclined to reason in a deductive manner (from the general to the particular).

Instead, if we define abstract thinking as making use of nuance, avoiding hard definitions, then the above discourse would be concrete thinking. So this would somewhat mean that S types are more inclined to bring everyone to the same page through the use of common ideas while N types are more inclined to let the message free from constrictions and capable of multiple interpretations.

Or is it a combination of the two?
I'm also thinking this could actually be more a matter of Si vs Se vs Ni vs Ne than S vs N.

I think this makes sense, but to what degree do you think that's true?
 

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There's a pretty solid wiki page on abstract thinking but yes, that's definitely one form of abstraction. For whatever reason, when I think of abstractions I visualize a frame work that has empty spaces where concrete examples would fit in.

But read this. I read it but did not retain any information.. lol:

Abstraction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

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i guess it could be called abstract thinking, but it's logical to why you can't justify X with X. It is otherwise known as circular reasoning.
 

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It means to talk of concepts of concepts that are linked via reason in a hierarchy.

The following is a detailed discussion of what I mean.

Abstraction (process of)

The act of isolation involved [in concept-formation] is a process of abstraction: i.e., a selective mental focus that takes out or separates a certain aspect of reality from all others (e.g., isolates a certain attribute from the entities possessing it, or a certain action from the entities performing it, etc.).

“Concept Formation,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 10
The higher animals are able to perceive entities, motions, attributes, and certain numbers of entities. But what an animal cannot perform is the process of abstraction—of mentally separating attributes, motions or numbers from entities. It has been said that an animal can perceive two oranges or two potatoes, but cannot grasp the concept “two.”

“Concept Formation,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 16
Abstractions and Concretes

Abstractions as such do not exist: they are merely man’s epistemological method of perceiving that which exists—and that which exists is concrete.

The Romantic Manifesto “The Psycho-Epistemology of Art,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 23
Concepts

A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated by a process of abstraction and united by a specific definition. By organizing his perceptual material into concepts, and his concepts into wider and still wider concepts, man is able to grasp and retain, to identify and integrate an unlimited amount of knowledge, a knowledge extending beyond the immediate concretes of any given, immediate moment.

In any given moment, concepts enable man to hold in the focus of his conscious awareness much more than his purely perceptual capacity would permit. The range of man’s perceptual awareness—the number of percepts he can deal with at any one time—is limited. He may be able to visualize four or five units—as, for instance, five trees. He cannot visualize a hundred trees or a distance of ten light-years. It is only his conceptual faculty that makes it possible for him to deal with knowledge of that kind.

Man retains his concepts by means of language. With the exception of proper names, every word we use is a concept that stands for an unlimited number of concretes of a certain kind. A concept is like a mathematical series of specifically defined units, going off in both directions, open at both ends and including all units of that particular kind. For instance, the concept “man” includes all men who live at present, who have ever lived or will ever live—a number of men so great that one would not be able to perceive them all visually, let alone to study them or discover anything about them.

“The Psycho-Epistemology of Art,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 17
A concept is a mental integration of two or more units possessing the same distinguishing characteristic(s), with their particular measurements omitted.

“Concept-Formation,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 13
Abstract ideas are conceptual integrations which subsume an incalculable number of concretes—and . . . without abstract ideas you would not be able to deal with concrete, particular, real-life problems. You would be in the position of a newborn infant, to whom every object is a unique, unprecedented phenomenon. The difference between his mental state and yours lies in the number of conceptual integrations your mind has performed.

“Philosophy: Who Needs It,”
Philosophy: Who Needs It, 5
There are many special or “cross-filed” chains of abstractions (of interconnected concepts) in man’s mind. Cognitive abstractions are the fundamental chain, on which all the others depend. Such chains are mental integrations, serving a special purpose and formed accordingly by a special criterion.

Cognitive abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is essential? (epistemologically essential to distinguish one class of existents from all others). Normative abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is good? Esthetic abstractions are formed by the criterion of: what is important?

“Art and Sense of Life,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 36
Consider the long conceptual chain that starts from simple, ostensive definitions and rises to higher and still higher concepts, forming a hierarchical structure of knowledge so complex that no electronic computer could approach it. It is by means of such chains that man has to acquire and retain his knowledge of reality.

Yet this is the simpler part of his psycho-epistemological task. There is another part which is still more complex.

The other part consists of applying his knowledge—i.e., evaluating the facts of reality, choosing his goals and guiding his actions accordingly. To do that, man needs another chain of concepts, derived from and dependent on the first, yet separate and, in a sense, more complex: a chain of normative abstractions.

While cognitive abstractions identify the facts of reality, normative abstractions evaluate the facts, thus prescribing a choice of values and a course of action. Cognitive abstractions deal with that which is; normative abstractions deal with that which ought to be (in the realms open to man’s choice).

“The Psycho-Epistemology of Art,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 18
The process of a child’s development consists of acquiring knowledge, which requires the development of his capacity to grasp and deal with an ever-widening range of abstractions. This involves the growth of two interrelated but different chains of abstractions, two hierarchical structures of concepts, which should be integrated, but seldom are: the cognitive and the normative. The first deals with knowledge of the facts of reality—the second, with the evaluation of these facts. The first forms the epistemological foundation of science—the second, of morality and of art.

In today’s culture, the development of a child’s cognitive abstractions is assisted to some minimal extent, even if ineptly, half-heartedly, with many hampering, crippling obstacles (such as anti-rational doctrines and influences which, today, are growing worse). But the development of a child’s normative abstractions is not merely left unaided, it is all but stifled and destroyed. The child whose valuing capacity survives the moral barbarism of his upbringing has to find his own way to preserve and develop his sense of values.

“Art and Moral Treason,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 145
Hierarchy of Knowledge

Concepts have a hierarchical structure, i.e., . . . the higher, more complex abstractions are derived from the simpler, basic ones (starting with the concepts of perceptually given concretes).

“Concepts of Consciousness,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 32
[There is a] long conceptual chain that starts from simple, ostensive definitions and rises to higher and still higher concepts, forming a hierarchical structure of knowledge so complex that no electronic computer could approach it. It is by means of such chains that man has to acquire and retain his knowledge of reality.

“The Psycho-Epistemology of Art,”
The Romantic Manifesto, 18
Starting from the base of conceptual development—from the concepts that identify perceptual concretes—the process of cognition moves in two interacting directions: toward more extensive and more intensive knowledge, toward wider integrations and more precise differentiations. Following the process and in accordance with cognitive evidence, earlier-formed concepts are integrated into wider ones or subdivided into narrower ones.

“Abstraction from Abstractions,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 19
Observe that the concept “furniture” is an abstraction one step further removed from perceptual reality than any of its constituent concepts. “Table” is an abstraction, since it designates any table, but its meaning can be conveyed simply by pointing to one or two perceptual objects. There is no such perceptual object as “furniture”; there are only tables, chairs, beds, etc. The meaning of “furniture” cannot be grasped unless one has first grasped the meaning of its constituent concepts; these are its link to reality. (On the lower levels of an unlimited conceptual chain, this is an illustration of the hierarchical structure of concepts.)

“Abstraction from Abstractions,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 22
The first concepts man forms are concepts of entities—since entities are the only primary existents. (Attributes cannot exist by themselves, they are merely the characteristics of entities; motions are motions of entities; relationships are relationships among entities.)

“Concept-Formation,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 15
Since the definition of a concept is formulated in terms of other concepts, it enables man, not only to identify and retain a concept, but also to establish the relationships, the hierarchy, the integration of all his concepts and thus the integration of his knowledge. Definitions preserve, not the chronological order in which a given man may have learned concepts, but the logical order of their hierarchical interdependence.

“Definitions,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 40
To know the exact meaning of the concepts one is using, one must know their correct definitions, one must be able to retrace the specific (logical, not chronological) steps by which they were formed, and one must be able to demonstrate their connection to their base in perceptual reality.

“Definitions,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 51
 
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This may be over-simplifying, but I think abstract vs. concrete is an issue of language. Our human language (I mean all spoken languages from English to Chinese) has many concepts that don't have any concrete equivalents. The word "squirrel" refers to an actual animal while the word "beautiful" refers to an idea of something that will never be fully defined. Mathematics is the same: everyone knows what number 1 means, but it doesn't exist the same way a squirrel does. It's the problem that has bugged philosophers since ancient times.

In the light of the above I'd say abstract talking is concentrating more on abstract concepts rather than real-life matters such as what happened in a football game. But drawing a line between abstract and concrete is by no means simple since most conversations are a combination of both. I mean, you can argue there are abstract aspects to a football game, such as the rules. To me abstract discussion is also about talking matters in a generalizing, pattern-seeking way, and involves analyzing; "that lake is beautiful" vs. "lakes are beautiful because ---", but this could be how I personally understand the issue in everyday life. Actually, I'm not sure there is such thing as abstract discussion per sé, but only discussions on abstract topics.
 

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What she said. ^^^

Intuiting is a crossed eyed, but definitive, way of thinking that shows itself in the language of the person. Intuiting is like focusing on the water the hippo is flipping in and sensing is focusing on the hippo.
 

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@lightbox
Perfectly said my dear! I completely agree.
 
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imo, both S and N types use conscious and unconscious perception at the same time, it's just a matter of emphasis. I've thought about inductive and deductive before, but I tend to not arrive at much of a conclusion for either one. Especially because the use of those terms imply a kind of judgement taking place. Sometimes the perception can get obscured in the communication. That said, I've found NP types have a talent for communicating directly from their own thoughts; EP types the most INTP least of all. Perhaps it may be the case certain perceiving functions are related more to language or spatial thinking. Using the terms abstract and concrete can be misleading for the reasons I will lay out below on how I think these preceiving functions operate.

The 4 modes of perceiving:

Si dom - familiarity/recognizing
Se dom - objective/concrete
Ne dom - novel/idea-play
Ni dom - abstract familiar/conclusive

Si/Ne users are somewhere in the middle of being comparitively abstract.

Take the example involving the variables you just gave, Si users will immediately apprehend the familiarity of the statement. This could make it easier for them to attach it to what it resembles from their experience, while Ne in the background will work to bring all of these things it resembles in the immediate environment to bare on its familiarity. All of this is done for the sake of recognizing - which with what I described has abstract and concrete elements. Depending on the familiarity it can be either faster or slower than Ne dominant users.

Ne users will immediately apprehend what the statement (or parts of the statement) resembles while not restricted by past experience, coming up with novel relationships. Si will work in the background and bridge these novel relationships by way of familiarity and experience. But the result is towards something new. It's idea-play oriented, which has abstract and concrete elements. But here the term "new" could misused for the term abstract.

I also believe F types will be more influenced by the Si than T types.

Se dominant users will probably have the most difficulty apprehending the statement, but they'll also be the most objective. They will probably rely on their Ni to slowly piece the statement together into something they can "see". It will probably take the form of resembling a simple and unambiguous object. Or objective scenario. Like Si, Ni will work with familiarity. The difference here is that the very sense of familiar is unconscious and is being used to derive something new. All the while subjugated by what the Se insists on experiencing. This has abstract and concrete elements, but it seems the most geared towards something concrete.

Ni dominant users are more interested in deriving something new via the unconscious familiar. The immediate surroundings won't be as influential as their past experiences. Nevertheless, Se will provide them with fodder - a focal point - by which to derive these conclusions. For this reason Ni dominant users will probably rely on their other perception function the least for its operation. Especially in regard to this question. If this question or something related to it (which isn't hard for Ni to see it as) is familiar in any sense, it will be apprehended the fastest. This has abstract and concrete elements, and it seems to be the most abstract. Although it's conclusion oriented, which can set limits on its connective ability.

Here I believe F will be more influenced by the Ni than T types.
 

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So, if by abstract thinking we mean something which is not based on empirical examples, something with general validity, what does this imply for the difference between S types and N types?
I don't think S types need to be spoon-fed examples all the time to understand how things work. Do they?

"I would say that S types are inclined to reason in an inductive manner (from the particular to the general) while N types are inclined to reason in a deductive manner (from the general to the particular)."
-I get what you mean, but this could also be the difference between a judger and perceiver, and this point of difference could easily get lost in a conversation between an N and an S.

I see N types as going "What if.." and "Why..?" where S types go "What?" "How..?"

I think it's a bit of a generalization to say we're hyperopic (is that a word?) and S types are myopic, but sometimes I wonder if S types treat hypothesis like we treat emotions, as a luxury instead of a necessity. They treat the future as "alright, it's just there" and focus on the present. We treat the present as "alright, it's just there" and focus on the future and patterns.

*sigh* Was I helpful at all or did I just ramble?
 

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I don't think S types need to be spoon-fed examples all the time to understand how things work. Do they?

"I would say that S types are inclined to reason in an inductive manner (from the particular to the general) while N types are inclined to reason in a deductive manner (from the general to the particular)."
-I get what you mean, but this could also be the difference between a judger and perceiver, and this point of difference could easily get lost in a conversation between an N and an S.

I see N types as going "What if.." and "Why..?" where S types go "What?" "How..?"

I think it's a bit of a generalization to say we're hyperopic (is that a word?) and S types are myopic, but sometimes I wonder if S types treat hypothesis like we treat emotions, as a luxury instead of a necessity. They treat the future as "alright, it's just there" and focus on the present. We treat the present as "alright, it's just there" and focus on the future and patterns.

*sigh* Was I helpful at all or did I just ramble?
Never thought to describe N vs S in this way. +1 for accuracy.

I have that exact feeling towards the future, mostly because it just seems boringly obvious to me. Yeah I can guess whats going to happen or even scientifically reason what could/might/will happen but the future is not now and I have no reason to believe that circumstances will be exactly as they were. I wonder what its like to have that notion towards the present. Hmm. How do you guys even get stuff done, lol?

One saying I have a lot is "future me and present me never get along and never agree"
 

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Never thought to describe N vs S in this way. +1 for accuracy.

I have that exact feeling towards the future, mostly because it just seems boringly obvious to me. Yeah I can guess whats going to happen or even scientifically reason what could/might/will happen but the future is not now and I have no reason to believe that circumstances will be exactly as they were. I wonder what its like to have that notion towards the present. Hmm. How do you guys even get stuff done, lol?

One saying I have a lot is "future me and present me never get along and never agree"
How is the future boringly obvious? The future is full of possibilities, but the present has only one possibility- the present, i.e, what's happening. The future is what makes it possible that there are infinite universes with you doing infinite number of things. The present is just there, bleh. But I guess that proves my original point about our differences.. just having some trouble seeing your perspective.

Oh, and we perform abstraction to get stuff done. If that doesn't work, we don't get stuff done.
 

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I don't think S types need to be spoon-fed examples all the time to understand how things work. Do they?

"I would say that S types are inclined to reason in an inductive manner (from the particular to the general) while N types are inclined to reason in a deductive manner (from the general to the particular)."
-I get what you mean, but this could also be the difference between a judger and perceiver, and this point of difference could easily get lost in a conversation between an N and an S.
Our Ti-Ne-Si-Fe stack leads INTPs to tend toward inductive reasoning. INTJs, on the other hand, tend toward deductive. That is not to say INTPs do not use deductive reasoning or INTJs are incapable of inductive. The preference of one over the other is a result of the sum of all the functions and their introverted/extroverted orientation-- it can't be neatly reduced to a single piece.


The above is also an example of talking in an abstract way, FYI.
 

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How is the future boringly obvious? The future is full of possibilities, but the present has only one possibility- the present, i.e, what's happening. The future is what makes it possible that there are infinite universes with you doing infinite number of things. The present is just there, bleh. But I guess that proves my original point about our differences.. just having some trouble seeing your perspective.

Oh, and we perform abstraction to get stuff done. If that doesn't work, we don't get stuff done.
Well, possibilities to me are just what ifs. "I could walk outside and a meteor could hit me or I could get a million bucks or blah blah blah" but none of that will happen.

Think about how little you care about the present, just imagine that but with the future. Imagine you still know all the possibilities just like you know everything you could do in the present, you just have nothing but apathy towards the future. I could write you a list of everything that I could do next week but until I get to next week I don't really care and I'm inclined to just go with the flow when that time comes.

Its hard for me to grasp "abstractions to get things done" because to get things done you just do them, lol.
 

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Its hard for me to grasp "abstractions to get things done" because to get things done you just do them, lol.
Possibilities don't have to be anything grandiose like flying cars, winning the lottery, or whatever... it can be something a lot more grounded, like progressing in a hobby or attaining a goal. Abstraction is useful both in solving problems and in creative endeavors. Abstraction is how we have language, computers, art, science... basically anything more sophisticated than a stick or a rock.
 

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Possibilities don't have to be anything grandiose like flying cars, winning the lottery, or whatever... it can be something a lot more grounded, like progressing in a hobby or attaining a goal. Abstraction is useful both in solving problems and in creative endeavors. Abstraction is how we have language, computers, art, science... basically anything more sophisticated than a stick or a rock.
Yeah I get that. I have guidelines of what I could do instead of plans or ambitions. Anything more than that and I just lose interest when it comes time to do the thing.
 

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Well, possibilities to me are just what ifs. "I could walk outside and a meteor could hit me or I could get a million bucks or blah blah blah" but none of that will happen.

Think about how little you care about the present, just imagine that but with the future. Imagine you still know all the possibilities just like you know everything you could do in the present, you just have nothing but apathy towards the future. I could write you a list of everything that I could do next week but until I get to next week I don't really care and I'm inclined to just go with the flow when that time comes.

Its hard for me to grasp "abstractions to get things done" because to get things done you just do them, lol.
Abstraction is basically simplifying things to their core logic, and doing the bare minimum. That's what most of us do, I believe. And I'm not talking about meteors.. we don't always think about irrational, vague possibilities. Most of them are sensible ones, things that could actually happen. We just live in the future- no other way to describe it.
 

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Abstraction is helpful because being too specific is making too many assumptions. Throw in a couple "usually"s and "from what I've seen so far"s to come up with some theory so vague and malleable that it can be applied to nearly everything.
 

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Our Ti-Ne-Si-Fe stack leads INTPs to tend toward inductive reasoning. INTJs, on the other hand, tend toward deductive.
By this do you mean Ti will look for the one solution that will explain as much as possible, while Te will leap-frog its way to a solution?
 
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