# Thread: Type and Learning Abstract Concepts

1. ## Type and Learning Abstract Concepts

I was talking to a Fi-user who mentioned she tried to feel abstract concepts when she studied physics, math, and other subjects replete with abstractions. So, for example, in Newton's 2nd Law, which can be stated as

F=ma=mdv/dt=dp/dt

where m is mass
a is acceleration
v is velocity
p=mv is momentum, and
d/dt is the derivative wrt time

she said she tried to feel momentum. How do you go about understanding abstract concepts? Do you use your primary cognitive functions, like my friend does, and try to feel, sense, or intuit the concepts? What is that process like?

2. Originally Posted by doppelganger
I was talking to a Fi-user who mentioned that she tried to feel abstract concepts when she studied physics, math, and other subjects with abstract ideas. So, for example, in Newton's 2nd Law, which can be stated as

F=ma=mdv/dt=dp/dt

where m is mass
v is velocity
p=mv is momentum, and
d/dt is the derivative wrt time

she said she tried to feel momentum. How do you go about understanding abstract concepts? Do you use your primary cognitive functions, like my friend does, and try to feel, sense, or intuit the concepts? What is that process like?

When I was learning physics in high school I would write the formulas over and over until I memorized and I understood them by thought. That being said, I've noticed as I get older I tend to try and feel things out but that's not my default mode of thought.

3. I am a conceptualizer.

It's my primary mode of thinking. If I have to learn something were I don't do it well, or you simply can't do that to learn difficult material, I will have a very hard time learning it. What I attempt to do is figure out the patterns and rules that govern things, and come up with systems to deal with them. I don't think in a straight line (I always describe it as going from a to q to fish, instead of a to b to c), and it can make learning hard logic difficult. Learning calculus was a struggle for me (passed with C's). My field though (organic chemistry) works very well with my thought processes. It's all about making informed assumptions; knowing what principals will govern what's at hand, knowing what can be ignored, what is important, and being able to focus on what is important while not forgetting the long term goal. It's very web-like. Individual bits of information will simply come to me though. As my adviser puts it I have "very good instincts". I frequently know an answer and have to work backwards to articulate why.

4. I like to draw diagrams.

5. If it's a short and simple formula I have no problem understanding it, I usually draw it (when possible) which makes it a lot easier for me to remember it.
If it's simple but long I learn it bit by bit.
If it looks too complex I give up before trying.

Philosophy (does it count as an abstract concept?) on the other hand is much easier, I don't even need to study it.

6. I need to imagine what the equations are supposed to represent in reality or they don't make any sense to me.

7. I have attempted to answer this thread three times, but had to really think about how I actually do learn abstract concepts.

At first, I was like, "I don't know how I come to understand abstract concepts. I just do." But then I realize that I also take concepts apart, attempt to understand how components relate to one another. I think my primary and tertiary functions work in unison to help me first to grasp an idea, to just "get it" and then secondly, to analyze it. I imagine that it is very similar to what @Hard was describing.

8. Originally Posted by GarrotTheThief
When I was learning physics in high school I would write the formulas over and over until I memorized and I understood them by thought. That being said, I've noticed as I get older I tend to try and feel things out but that's not my default mode of thought.
So you memorized formulas? What do you mean by "feel things out"?

9. Originally Posted by doppelganger
So you memorized formulas? What do you mean by "feel things out"?
i memorize the formulas and then abstract off the objects (formulas) after I internalize. I wrote each one five times and memorized and then pretty much could analyze ratio's and anticipate what plugging different numbers would do.

The thought never occurred to me but one could think of physics as being physical object his or herself but when I was young this sort of thinking would never do. I had to imagine the objects in space moving for themselves and then relate it to the formulas.

Now I can feel momentum. I can start running and try to stop and feel the force moving through me and I can even transfer it to one hand. If you move your body at a constant speed whilst keeping it unified and then eject the hand the force transfers through your body...but if your hand moves slower than your body the force is lost at a hinge, hence you feel stress on your joints.

When I was young the connection between thinking and sensing wasn't present - everything was abstracted, in other words, and my body and sensory perceptions were different worlds. I was entirely inside my head.

10. Originally Posted by Hard
I am a conceptualizer.

It's my primary mode of thinking. If I have to learn something were I don't do it well, or you simply can't do that to learn difficult material, I will have a very hard time learning it. What I attempt to do is figure out the patterns and rules that govern things, and come up with systems to deal with them. I don't think in a straight line (I always describe it as going from a to q to fish, instead of a to b to c), and it can make learning hard logic difficult. Learning calculus was a struggle for me (passed with C's). My field though (organic chemistry) works very well with my thought processes. It's all about making informed assumptions; knowing what principals will govern what's at hand, knowing what can be ignored, what is important, and being able to focus on what is important while not forgetting the long term goal. It's very web-like. Individual bits of information will simply come to me though. As my adviser puts it I have "very good instincts". I frequently know an answer and have to work backwards to articulate why.
When you study something, the facts and rules are given to you and understanding is a matter of knowing the facts and learning the rules that govern their relations. Newton's 2nd Law is an example. What "system" would you devise to understand it? How would you understand it? What does "understanding it" mean to you? And I don't understand why organic chemistry would require making "informed assumptions"? "Informed assumptions" about what? Can you give an example of what you mean?

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Originally Posted by Little_Sticks
I need to imagine what the equations are supposed to represent in reality or they don't make any sense to me.
So for Newton's 2nd Law, how would you do this? Btw, what type are you?

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