Sunday, October 13, 2013

What are Concepts and why are they Important?

As the French philosopher Deleuze articulates, the output of the scientist is quantitative characterization, the output of the artist is subjective experience, and the output of the philosopher is concepts. Far from being a dusty old topic of the past, philosophy is as vibrant as ever as there are many possibilities in concept innovation that can facilitate a heightened understanding of the world.

What is a Concept?
We can start by asking what is a concept? The dictionary definition of a concept is an abstract idea, a general notion. However bringing specific concepts to mind might not be something we are familiar with doing on a day-to-day basis. Starting to brainstorm some concepts, there seem to be different kinds...

Concepts: Applying to the Self
Some concepts seem practically applicable to the domain of personal experience, how individuals might understand themselves in relation to the world, concepts like karma, flexibility, acceptance, empowerment, self-actualization, extensibility, justice, self-identity, payback, barriers, rules, deferred gratification, and creating community.

Concepts: Phenomena greater than the Self
Another class of concepts seems applicable to phenomena greater than the self, ideas that model what is going on in the world like sustainability, globalization, digital divide, the bottom of the pyramid, the last mile, plasticity, the occupy movement, wearable electronics, the wireless Internet of things, augmented reality, healthspan, quality of life, and crowdfunding.

Concepts: Philosophical Concepts beyond Self and World to Configure a Range of Thinking
For Deleuze, there is another class of concepts, of philosophical concepts that are more extensive than personal and global concepts - a philosophical concept is not an identity condition or proposition, but a metaphysical construction that defines a range of thinking. Some examples of philosophical concepts are Plato's ideal forms of things, Kant's doctrine of our cognitive faculties, and Descartes’s cogito - the philosophic principle that one's existence is demonstrated by the fact that one thinks. As a branch of philosophy, in technology philosophy too, concepts too are defined in this Deleuzian metaphysical construction that defines and invites a range of thinking, some examples are articulated in A Conceptology of Technology Philosophy - Top 20 Technology Philosophy Concepts.

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