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Video transcript

you'll hear me use the word abstract a lot so I thought I would actually give you an attempt at an at a definition or maybe more even more important an intuition of what abstract means an abstract it can be an adjective you could have an abstract idea you can you can have abstract art or it can be a verb you can abstract something abstract the idea from some other idea and you can even have it as a noun you can have an abstract and it tends to when you use it as a noun the one that I tend to associate is the abstract of a research paper which is kind of distills the essence of the research paper is kind of a summary of that paper and the one thing you're going to see regardless of how you what context you you use the word abstract there's this kind of notion of taking the essence of a real world of of a real world object whether you use it as a noun and adjective or a verb so over here we have our real world we have our real world and then over here you have your world of you have ideas ideas and concepts and the general idea behind abstraction or abstracting something is you're taking it away from the particular concrete real world and you're going more in the direction of ideas and concepts and probably for me one of the the most tangible ways of thinking about abstraction which is kind of a you know a contradiction in itself to think of abstraction in a tangible way is things is things like geometric shapes so if we were if I were so if I were to tell you find me some cubes you might point to a Borg vessel right over there a Borg vessel you might point to you might point to maybe a pair of dice so let me draw the pair of dice if you are looking for cubes so you might point to a pair of dice that looks something like that you might point to a rubik's cube anything that you could find there might be a building that looks like a cube there might be a building that looks like a cube or maybe there's a box in your house that is a cube but in your mind you have a general idea of what a cube is you're like well I know a cube when I see one and that general idea is essentially distilling the concept the idea what a cube is all of these things are very different this is some plastic thing that I can hold in my hand these are these little white things and they're not even you know geometrically even close to being perfect they have these little divots on the side right over there this is a large Borg vessel that you know it's it doesn't even exist yet it's not you know obviously it's a fictional thing but they they all have this cube nough stew them and this is one of the fun things of geometries to really distill the essence of these these these real world shapes and we do have a definition in geometry which is an object like this you guy guess you could have an object like this where every side has the exact same length so this if this is length one then that would be length one that is length one but doesn't have to be whatever that length this side is in this dimension that in this dimension is going to be that length and in that dimension is going to be in that length and I'm not giving you the rigorous geometric definition but I'm just trying to highlight that there is a pure idea of what a cube is of what a cube is and in the real world there is nothing that is actually a perfect cube if you were to get really really close to these die if you were to really try to measure exactly their measurements they won't be exactly the same measurement but in it the the abstract idea of a cube this is idaite is completely the same length as this and this and actually this and all of the edges are going to have the exact same length so this is going from the concrete the specific from the real world if you consider the 24th or 25th century the real world to going to going to the idea behind it the general idea and you've probably also heard the word abstract in terms of art like abstract art so this is abstract art and it's the same general idea if you look it up on a dictionary or going to find 20 definitions of the word abstract but it's all essentially trying to say the same thing abstract art is art that is not focused on trying to paint reality the exact way that reality exists if you look at kind of a lot of you know Renaissance art they're skilled at painting figures exactly how they look in the real world but the abstract artists sometimes they're not even trying to even represent anything that's in the real world they're trying to represent a raw idea or they're trying to represent a raw expression of color and form and texture and this is a Jackson Pollock painting right over here and I pronounced many many things wrong this was taken by our own Steven Zucker art historian and as you can see it's not clear Jackson Pollock is not trying to paint up you know a bog or a horse or anything like that he is painting something that is devoid it's completely independent of anything that we actually see in physical reality and the word abstraction you know I'm you know it doesn't just apply to no pure geometry and art it applies to almost everything that we do on a daily basis when we even talk about things when we even use words or use symbols we're essentially abstracting away we're abstracting the essence of of something that actually exists in physical reality so if I use the word if I use the word dog it's a set of symbols the set of symbols represents something in our minds that we associate with dog we have in our mind kind of the qualities of what a dog actually is you know as it has four legs and floppy ears and you enjoy petting it and they're they're Mane's or I guess people's best friend you imagine this thing called a dog and and it has the essence of dogness even though when you actually look at dogs in the real world they look very very very different types of animals whether you're looking at a Great Dane or or or kind of a super small poodle but we we recognize there's an essence of those particulars that we can abstract away and say this is a dog and then we abstract it even more by representing these letter symbols that tend to conjure up this image even when we write something as simple as a number so if I write if I write the number five we use it so frequently that we just to us a number five seems kind of like a concrete thing but it's so abstract it's just a quantity a quantity of things I could have symbolized it like that I could have symbolized five like that I could have symbolized five in Roman numerals like that I can symbolize it like that and in all of these cases they are it's the idea of a quantity of five things five you know if we were you know you could say point me to a five someone would probably draw a point you to something like that but they're still pointing you to the symbol of five but it's still a very very abstract idea so hopefully this gives you an appreciation for what abstract means as you can tell you know it's kind of a for lack of a better word it's kind of a an abstract idea not to make be too cute about that