2014-09-07

Abstract and Concrete Humanity

Most people don't know the first thing about humanity - they only know about themselves and the people who are near them. Humanity in general? They wouldn't have a clue. Many don't even want to have things in common with many others. This is true even among those who work in the "humanities", where notions of subjectivity in perspective dominate the landscape.

But humanity in general is not about special points of view. If you talk about the things that all humans have in common, people may say that you are being abstract. But the fact of the matter is that the thoughts of the common man are abstract - the simpler forms of thought that emerge from our animal brains, in our rich (read: complex and unquantified) cultures, results in concepts which are highly localised.

The notion of a person is a vast abstraction, but to many people, their personhood is something that they view as a most concrete thing. If you actually take a person's mind apart it falls into an array of many sensations, either externally experienced, or internally imagined. But none of these sensations amounts in solitude to more than a mark on a medium. We are composed of scratches on paper, living paper, but paper none the less.

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