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Dandansson
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24 Jun 2021, 12:10 pm

What does abstract thinking refer to?
Abstraction has to do with categorization. If you see one dog and then think of that particular dog all the time tou heqr the word dog you have difficulties with abstraction.
So abstract thinking refers to thinking about eg dogs in general instead of a particular specific dog?
But this doesn't seem to be what people refer to when they mention the term abstract thinking.
Do people even know what this term mean at all?
Abstract is often used as a synonym to unclear in daily life.
Some say that concepts such as justice are abstract concept. I say that people often don't even know what justice refers to, ie we have no definition. Abstract is often the same as unclear in daily life.
People say that if you have ASD then you suck at understanding abstract concept but I say that clear well-defined concepts are no issie for most people with ASD.
Some say that playing with a rock and imagine it being a turtle is abstract thinking. To me it is more like imagination.

What are your experiences with this term?



Joe90
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24 Jun 2021, 1:19 pm

Some of my thinking is illogical and doesn't make sense, I don't know if that means abstract thinking or not. Everyone has odd thoughts sometimes but when I express my way of looking at some things, usually people (autistic or allistic) think it's weird. So it makes me feel alone with some of my thoughts as nobody can relate, not even others on the spectrum.


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Last edited by Joe90 on 24 Jun 2021, 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kraftiekortie
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24 Jun 2021, 1:21 pm

When you think about something like "love," it's abstract thought.

When you think about something like "railroad train," it's concrete thought.



timf
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24 Jun 2021, 1:42 pm

I have always thought about abstraction in developmental terms. For example if you are ten years old and someone says to you, "You stink", it kind of rolls off your back. If you are 13 and someone says the same thing many more thoughts arise like "do I", "Why does this person want to say something hurtful?", or "I thought they were my friend".

Abstraction leads to the broader world of metaphor, allegory, and sarcasm, and irony. It also leads to the deeper world of identity, values, relationships, and beliefs.

An analogy I have used is that the transition to the world of abstract thinking usually happens around age 13. It is similar to waking up one day and being telepathic. It can be overwhelming to be bombarded by everyone's thoughts. However, in a few years you will have gotten used to it and learned to filter out what isn't useful. This illustration can sometimes help to be a little more tolerant of the 13 year old.



kraftiekortie
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24 Jun 2021, 1:49 pm

When I was 10, I was told that I "stunk"---that stuck with me for the rest of my life.



Joe90
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24 Jun 2021, 2:00 pm

Sounds to me like abstract thinking is normal in humans.

So what are these weird thoughts I get that don't make sense? I can't think of a term for it.


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Shadow1888
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24 Jun 2021, 2:14 pm

Joe90 wrote:
Sounds to me like abstract thinking is normal in humans.

So what are these weird thoughts I get that don't make sense? I can't think of a term for it.


Would it be intrusive thoughts?



naturalplastic
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24 Jun 2021, 7:26 pm

Joe90 wrote:
Some of my thinking is illogical and doesn't make sense, I don't know if that means abstract thinking or not. Everyone has odd thoughts sometimes but when I express my way of looking at some things, usually people (autistic or allistic) think it's weird. So it makes me feel alone with some of my thoughts as nobody can relate, not even others on the spectrum.


you would have to give examples.

I make odd associations that others dont relate to- such as one sense triggers associations of other senses. Like food to music. Fruit tastes like brass music. And pecan pie tastes like Bach's Brandenburg Concerto (dark dense and sweet)and the piece of music sounds like pecan pie. Synthenesia (however its spelled).



ToughDiamond
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24 Jun 2021, 9:22 pm

This link might be helpful in figuring out what abstract thinking is, if there's still any doubt:

https://www.learning-mind.com/abstract-thinking/

I like the idea in there that to understand what abstract thinking is, it's useful to understand first what concrete thinking is.

As for whether I'm good at abstract thinking or not, well I'm certainly well capable of some aspects of it, but according to the 7 signs of a developed abstract thinker they give there, I'm a mixture:

I'm constantly wondering "why," I tend not to like doing things without seeing a good reason, I tend to link new thoughts to old ones (in fact I've often noticed that I have a lot of trouble learning new ideas if they don't readily map onto what I already know), and I think I'm quite good (though perhaps not great) at finding metaphors and analogies and linking things together in new ways.

But I have very little interest in pondering the meaning of life or the nature of consciousness (I see that as useless philosobabble), I often strongly prefer clear step-by-step instructions to just being told the principles (though I'm likely to try to improve the instructions as soon as I know how, and would rather use my own than those that others have set down, which always seem to have flaws in them). I seem to want a lot of routine in my life, but I also often get bored with them.

So I guess I'm somewhere between being lousy at abstract thought and great at it, i.e. I'm normal. I seem to know what abstract thought is, though I'd probably not be able to define it quickly and succinctly. Perhaps that's because it's a somewhat woolly concept.

Strange how my results are "all over the place" like they are with some other tests I've taken, such as IQ - 100% for one question, 0% for the next. Maybe standard tests just don't work in the expected way with Aspies.



Dandansson
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25 Jun 2021, 5:49 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
When you think about something like "love," it's abstract thought.

When you think about something like "railroad train," it's concrete thought.

I depends. If you think of railroad trains in gerenal you have an abstraction.
Love can be a concrete thought if you make it more concrete.
Right?



Dandansson
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25 Jun 2021, 6:06 am

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstraction
Abstraction in philosophy is the process (or, to some, the alleged process) in concept formation of recognizing some set of common features in individuals, and on that basis forming a concept of that feature.


This is how I use the term!
Many of us have difficultied with this in some way or another.
I guess psychology take terms I learned in philosophy and change the meaning a little bit.



QuantumChemist
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25 Jun 2021, 7:59 am

I use abstract thought processes when I am working on certain projects, yet concrete thought processes on others. Which one I may use greatly depends upon what the subject matter is. Quantum physics/chemistry concepts require quite a bit of abstract reasoning to solve problems.



kraftiekortie
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25 Jun 2021, 8:05 am

Railroad trains are tangible, physical objects. One usually doesn't think about the "concept" of railroad trains in everyday life. Though they might in something like poetry and other arts.

"Love" is never a tangible, physical object. Obviously, a tangible, physical object, or actions, can represent "love." But one is not able to see "love" as one physical object like a "railroad train" is a physical object.



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25 Jun 2021, 8:06 am

Joe90 wrote:
Some of my thinking is illogical and doesn't make sense, I don't know if that means abstract thinking or not. Everyone has odd thoughts sometimes but when I express my way of looking at some things, usually people (autistic or allistic) think it's weird. So it makes me feel alone with some of my thoughts as nobody can relate, not even others on the spectrum.


My daughter is a lot like that, she has the nickname "random" because she'll associate things in a way that nobody else does. Completely out of the box.
She is not autistic but she is highly dyslexic with possible undiagnosed ADHD.
So I suspect it's a trait more common in some types of neurodivergence than others, and perhaps not very common in pure autism, as we tend to be more concrete thinkers.



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25 Jun 2021, 8:13 am

I believe some of us (autistics) become quite good at assessing multiple data and picking out patterns and trends, which is extremely useful in various fields. So although people say autistics look at the details instead of the whole picture, I believe some of us actually get quite good at taking all the little details and piecing them together to make a picture that is actually a much better representation of the whole than the neurotypical might have produced.
This is often referred to as abstract thinking but I think that is a misnomer.

I believe my daughter's way of thinking, by making obscure connections between things, is more abstract in truth.



MrsPeel
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25 Jun 2021, 8:19 am

On the other hand, my dyslexic daughter is hopeless with numbers and still counts on her fingers, whereas my autistic son has a fantastic grasp of mathematics. So maybe that does make autistics better at abstract thought?

Gah, I'm confused.
Maybe when we talk about abstract thought we're all talking about different things.