In presenting his view on the process of abstraction, St. Thomas Aquinas has pointed out arguments in a manner somewhat parallel to Aristotle’s idea of such. For them, a knowledge is established primarily by knowing a universal concept that is housed inside a form or matter, and which gives meaning to that matter. To know such concept is by way of abstraction — “process of formulating general concepts by considering (abstracting) properties of instances”1 or construction of concept by setting apart a substance of an identity from it. In essence, a man can only define or speak of a sensible matter once he is able to identify its substance.
To further expound on the thought, take as an example the “lawn mower”. Different types of lawn mower has been developed to suite a particular purpose. The design varies from the one that could be used for small residential lawns and gardens, to that design being used for golf courses.
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Nevertheless, in essence, the lawn mower’s mechanism is for the purpose of cutting down or evening out grasses, bushes, or other thriving plants of a field or lawn. It is a device made basically to mow and as a substitute to a scythe. In giving a definition to these mechanical tools, they are first defined as “a machine that is used for mowing or cutting down grasses in a lawn or open field”. The basic idea of a “mower” or “lawn mower” has then become the means or main idea or the one that caused or inspired the creation of other lawn mower’s designs.
Given such example, it could then be plausible to say that to understand a matter, one must find first its root or the form that gives its form. By abstracting the main substance of an element, may be able to further understand the mechanism of a sensible thing.
____________________. (July 12, 1991). St. Thomas Aquinas. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved April 1, 2008 from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aquinas/
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