Freedom, good and evil, love, feminism, success, morality, and chauvinism are all abstract concepts. Concrete notions have tangible referents, but abstract concepts have no physical referents.
Abstract notions pique the interest of philosophers because they confront concerns of ontology and sensory experience. Since Plato, some philosophers have maintained that abstract notions are the most important subject to study in philosophy or metaphysics.
When researching children’s mental and psychological development, the question of abstract vs concrete thinking comes up. Young children are incapable of abstract thought. As the Brain Injury Association of New York State points out, a 2- or 3-year-old child reading Dr. Seuss’ book “Green Eggs and Ham” will typically only be able to understand the story as one about someone who does not want to eat green eggs and ham, and may understand that it is about someone changing his mind. On a more abstract level, the novel explores the concept that people can change their minds and feelings even when they don’t believe they can. An adult can help a youngster understand this abstract thinking by discussing it with him, bringing the child closer to understanding abstract concepts.
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