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Cognizability of the world and its patternsK. Y. Andreev
Abstract thinking is the highest stage of the process of cognition
However, the process of cognition cannot be limited only to the sensory level. In order to cognize the objects and phenomena of the world around us in a deeper, fuller, more versatile way, it is necessary to move from the first, sensual stage to the second, most important stage of cognition - to abstract thinking.
By means of sensations, single things are mainly reflected, what lies on the surface of phenomena is clarified. But dialectical materialism is not satisfied with the knowledge of some external aspects, but seeks to penetrate into the essence of the real world, to know more deeply the patterns of development of nature, society, and human thinking, which is completely impossible without theoretical scientific-abstract thinking. Adequate (i.e., identical, mostly accurate), complete reflection of reality occurs in scientific concepts in the process of dialectical thinking on the basis of social practice.
“Knowledge,” Lenin teaches, “is man’s reflection of nature. But this is not a simple, direct, integral reflection, but a process of a series of abstractions, the formation, formation of concepts, laws, etc...”. (V. I. Lenin. Philosophical Notebooks, p. 156.)
Science is not a simple summary of observations and experiments. Observations and experiments themselves make sense only when they are not done blindly, but are combined with deep scientific and theoretical thinking, when a person, through comparisons, comparisons of things and phenomena, through generalizations, etc., draws conclusions not only about what is directly perceived, but also about what cannot be directly perceived (for example, the process of formation of heavenly bodies, the process of development of life on earth, etc.).
Logical processing, generalization of facts, results of observations makes it possible to reflect common features, essential properties of objects and phenomena, to penetrate into the depth of the content of facts, to reveal the general, main, essential in a single one.
By the power of sensations alone, a person would not be able to measure the distances between the stars, “weigh” the planets, stars, the Sun, determine their chemical composition, temperature, etc. This became possible thanks to the human mind, thinking.
With our eyes we can see colors, shapes, the external state of an object, with our ears we can hear the sounds emitted by it, with the organs of smell we can smell, etc., but neither with our eyes, nor with our ears, nor with the organs of smell can we directly know the general connections and relationships between things and phenomena of the objective world, because they cannot be perceived sensually. And only ascending to the stage of abstract thinking, we can cognize the real essence of the phenomena around us.
The process of abstract thinking is carried out in three main forms: in the form of concepts, judgments, and conclusions.
A concept is a form of thinking that reflects the most general, most essential, decisive, and necessary properties, signs of real things and phenomena. The concepts do not reflect all the features of objects that are perceived by our senses, but only the main, essential features. So, for example, in the concept of "man" everything that is common, essential that belongs to all people (for example, the ability to make tools of production) is fixed. Therefore, the concept is devoid of clarity. In the process of forming a concept, we abstract from individual, random, insignificant features of individual objects, and generalize the perceptions, representations of a large number of homogeneous objects, highlight in them what is necessary inherent in them, what constitutes their specificity.
Abstracting from the random, insignificant, individual, we sort of move away from specific things and phenomena, but we make this departure in order to better know. The content of the concept is the material that gives a person perceptions, ideas, that is, in the final analysis, objective reality, human practice. Concepts, says Engels, are "results in which the data of experience are generalized...". (Friedrich Engels. Anti-Dühring, p. 14. Gospolitizdat. 1951)
Therefore, the most general concepts are not divorced from reality, from real individual things and phenomena (as the idealists assert), but are most closely connected with them, contain a wealth of special, personal, individual.
Thinking bypasses, omits the unimportant, particular, which belongs to individual objects, but by abstracting (i.e., being distracted) from details, we get the opportunity to know specific objects more fully, deeper, and more versatile. “Thinking,” writes V. I. Lenin, “ascending from the concrete to the abstract, does not deviate – if it is correct ... from the truth, but approaches it ... all scientific (correct, serious, not absurd) abstractions reflect nature deeper, or rather, fuller. (V. I. Lenin. Philosophical Notebooks, p. 146.)
Concepts enable us to orientate ourselves correctly in specific conditions, to correctly understand and evaluate individual events, to generalize concrete facts, the experience of people, the practice of the revolutionary activity of the masses, and allow us to build scientific foresight.
Therefore, concepts play a huge role in scientific research. Each science develops a certain system of concepts in which all the richness of our knowledge is generalized and concentrated.
But before composing a scientific concept about a particular subject, people go a long way in studying this subject. First, people learn about the most simple, superficial properties of an object. But in the process of further study, more and more profound, hidden, internal properties, features of the subject being studied are comprehended. As individual properties and features of an object are revealed, we make a judgment about this object.
Judgment is a reflection in the mind of a person of any sign, property, feature of an object. In Dialectics of Nature, Engels vividly showed how, in the process of deepening knowledge, there is a process of improvement, a deepening of our judgments about the objects of the objective world. Even prehistoric people knew, Engels points out, that friction produces heat, but many millennia passed before people could express the judgment: "friction is a source of heat." New millennia passed, and people in the process of further studying the essence of movement formulated a new, deeper judgment: "any mechanical movement is capable of turning into heat through friction." And only in the middle of XIX century, when science and social practice took a step forward in their development, people got the opportunity to formulate a judgment that is a universal law of motion: "any form of motion is capable of transforming into any other form of motion."
So the change, the deepening of our knowledge is accompanied by the improvement and deepening of people's judgments about objects, phenomena of the material world.
Judgment is one of the basic and most important forms of thinking. Judgments reflect the objective connection of objects and phenomena, their internal content, and patterns of development. Every law of the objective world, every scientific proposition is expressed in the form of a definite judgment.
Inference plays a particularly important role in the process of logical thinking.
Inference is such a mental act in which a new judgment about things and phenomena of the objective world is derived from true judgments. Without the help of inferences, people cannot cognize phenomena and processes that are not directly perceived by the senses. People, for example, cannot directly see the shape of the Earth, but they know that it is approximately spherical. People came to this conclusion due to the correct connection, for example, such true judgments: "all spherical bodies always cast a shadow in the form of a disk" and "The Earth during lunar eclipses always casts a shadow in the form of a disk." Hence the conclusion follows: "The earth has the shape of a ball."
Correct inferences must satisfy two basic conditions: firstly, the judgments (premisses) from which the inference is derived must be true, i.e., correspond to reality, and, secondly, the connection of these judgments (premises) in the inference must be logical correct in form. Elementary laws and forms of the correct construction of judgments in inference are studied by formal logic.
Thus, abstract thinking in the form of concepts, judgments and conclusions gives us the opportunity to cognize the objective world more fully and deeply, to reveal the most important, essential aspects, connections, and patterns of reality, which is why it represents the most important, highest stage of human cognition of the objective world.
The socio-historical activity of people can be strengthened, deepened, and expanded thanks to theoretical thinking, thanks to the strengthening, deepening and development of scientific thought, and the theory, in turn, is verified and supplemented in the process of socio-historical practice of people.
“... When analyzing economic forms,” Marx wrote, “neither a microscope nor chemical reagents can be used. Both must be replaced by the power of abstraction. (K. Marx, F. Engels. Selected works, vol. I, p. 409.)
V. I. Lenin wrote on this issue:"Representation ... does not grasp movement at a speed of 300,000 km per second, but thinking grasps and must grasp." (V. I. Lenin. Philosophical Notebooks, p. 199.)
The idea is powerless to reflect the process of transformation of a seed into a plant, the process of plant growth, the process of evolutionary development of animals and plants that took place over many millennia, etc. This can encompass and reflect human thinking.
In the process of thinking, a person compares and synthesizes the theoretical and practical experience of past generations (reflected and enshrined in the laws of science, concepts, logical categories) and the practice of people of the present. By illuminating practice with the help of theory and taking into account its new data, advanced scientists develop the theory itself further. This, in turn, allows theoretical thinking to anticipate the facts, to get ahead of practice, and on this basis to put forward scientific hypotheses, to build scientific foresight.
Engels said that ants have more perfect vision than humans - they can even see chemical light rays. But man, not seeing these rays, managed to detect and cognize them. The very fact that it is possible to prove that ants see rays that are invisible to us is a clear indication that a certain device of our vision is not an absolute limit for human knowledge. Other sense organs join our eye, and most importantly, thinking.
Substantiating the inextricable link between thinking and language and revealing the enormous role of language in the practical and cognitive activity of people, I. V. Stalin in his work “Marxism and questions of linguistics” deeply revealed the abstracting activity of human thinking, vividly showed the greatest importance of scientific abstractions. “Grammar,” teaches Comrade Stalin, “is the result of a long, abstract work of human thinking, an indicator of the enormous success of thinking.” (I. Stalin. Marxism and questions of linguistics, p. 24.)
Characterizing the specific features of grammar and exposing the Marrovites, who belittled the abstracting activity of human thinking, I. V. Stalin deeply reveals the enormous role of scientific abstractions, shows the decisive importance of the ability of human thought to abstract from the particular and the concrete in order to cognize the general, essential, fundamental in material phenomena. peace.
These provisions of Comrade Stalin make a new contribution to the substantiation and development of the Marxist position on the significance of abstract thinking in the cognitive and practical activities of people.