a maze of words leading to …?

Posts tagged ‘the abstract’



‘Abstract’, from the Latin abstractus, meaning “drawn away, detached”.

In some concepts, god is seen as immanent – meaning inside and permeating through everything. This god would agree with the saying “don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” … because an immanent god is a part of – rather than apart from – the person walking that mile. And more, an immanent god is part of everyone met on that road, part of the shoes in which the mile is walked and part of the road itself.

This is very different from Christian, Judaic and Islamic theology for example, where God is an abstraction, largely removed from the world. ‘He’ sits outside of his creation, the divine separated out from the mundane. And when we die this detached god will apparently judge us, deciding whether or not we have met his externally set standards.

Yet beyond abstract concepts of god, our world is currently dominated by the abstract in many other ways – the scientific world-view for instance. This values detachment and ‘objectivity’ … thus (for instance) deeming experimentation on animals to be acceptable, even for trivial purposes like the testing of cosmetics.

Our world is also dominated by centralised systems of government … detached systems in which the regions and localities (and individual people) become largely abstractions that can thus be herded about and socially engineered with little regard for their actual well-being or best interests.

Vice-versa,  each central government becomes largely a remote abstraction to most of the people that live under it, not least because they have little or no power over that government (nor any real connection to it) aside from – if they are lucky – a single vote once every 4 or 5 years to choose one mass-scale party over another of similar flavour.


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