Have you ever come across an abstract idea or seen it written down? Don’t worry; we’re not going to blow you away with the whats and the hows. Instead, we’re going to keep it simple and teach you the basics of abstract ideas.
What Are Abstract Ideas?
Abstract ideas are concepts, feelings, and qualities such as love, democracy, and freedom. They are not physical objects, and you can easily identify an abstract idea by asking yourself if you can touch it (as a physical material) or feel it in your heart.
The definition of an abstract idea, according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “things that exist as ideas, feelings, or qualities, rather than material objects. They are all fairly formal words, or words used mostly in writing.”
Below you can see a list of abstract ideas.
Examples Of Abstract Ideas
We’ll elaborate further on the list of abstract ideas you saw above. We thought we’d explain all we can about how we might interpret the ideas, as well as how someone else might. We also encourage you to interpret it in your way so you can understand how different everyone’s abstract ideas might be!
First of all, is love an abstract idea? The simple answer is yes. While love might mean one thing to you, it could easily mean something entirely different to someone else.
You can’t touch love, but it can cover an entire emotion and connection. You can love your family; you can love your friends; you can love your place of work. All of these types of love are different and are explained in different ways.
While not healthy, some people love their place of work more than they love their family. Other people love their friends and family equally. The love that you put on top of your own life and everyone (and everything) in it is an entirely personal thing to do. Nobody can tell you what love is or how you should love.
Government is another great example of an abstract idea. You need not look far to understand how complex everyone’s thoughts surrounding governments can be.
Even the fact that there are multiple parties in different countries representing different ideas is enough. You might expect your government to achieve one thing for you, while someone else might vote for them for an entirely different reason.
There’s no one reason that connects every person who votes for the government, just like how there isn’t a single way that every politician working for the government is linked. They come from varying parties with varying views and varying backgrounds in their life.
What about freedom? Many people in developed countries like the US and the UK believe that they have freedom. They also believe that their government and their country’s wealth are part of the reason they’ve got it.
However, if you look at the US, you’ll see that they treat freedom differently from the UK. Going even further than that, US citizens all treat freedom differently from each other. There isn’t one exact definition for a single person.
Someone might believe that they’re free when they’re given a choice to do whatever they want in their lives. Other people might simply think that they’re free when given just one day away from a tyrannous government (if you look towards developing countries instead). You can’t value freedom as one single entity.
Confidence is something that not everybody believes they have. However, most of that comes down to your definition of confidence.
As an abstract idea, it cannot be touched. It also cannot be valued in the same way. Somebody might think you’re confident if you’re strong and silent, while other people might see quiet people as shy. That’s how different confidence can look on the surface.
You might also believe yourself to be a confident individual. However, when you approach somebody to talk to them in your confident manner, they might see nothing more than an arrogant and self-absorbed individual. That’s where the complexity of the idea of confidence comes from.
Family falls under a similar umbrella as love. Is family an abstract idea? Well, since it’s difficult to define for one single group, it most certainly is.
Theoretically, family should be applied to anybody that you have a blood relation. Depending on your upbringing, you might extend your family to your closest friends, even though they’re not related to you.
Whether you’ve had a poor upbringing and are not close with your family, or you’re so close with your friends that you believe they are a part of your family, you might have a different idea of it than someone else does.
Happiness is a subjective thing. To make someone happy, you don’t always have to make them laugh. You only have to look at the world to see how wrong you are. Not everyone with a smiling face is as happy as you might first think they are.
Happiness to one person might be waking up in time for their alarm feeling refreshed. For someone else, they might not be happy until the end of their workweek, when they can finally get lost in the relaxation of their weekend. Happiness depends on the individual.
Since it’s an emotion we all experience, it’s also something that comes and goes without us realizing it. We might be happy one minute and then miserable the next. There isn’t much we can do about that, and we often can’t pinpoint what happened to us to lead to it.
God and Faith
Is God an abstract idea? Well, if you look at all the religions in the world, then it’s a simple yes.
Every religion treats its gods differently. Every religion believes in different teachings and follows different rules.
You can’t have the diversity of world religion without first accepting that God and faith are both abstract ideas. One man’s God could mean nothing to somebody else (like an atheist). Also, every religion believes in different teachings, meaning they all have different explanations of what God and faith mean to them.
You don’t even have to be religious to believe in faith. You can have faith in other people, like your children, if they’re about to take part in an important event and you want them to do well. Nothing is telling you that faith is tied to religion and that it isn’t an abstract idea in itself.
Some people believe that knowledge is power, while others believe knowledge is nothing more than experience and research. Everybody has a different idea of what might make them powerful, and to some, knowledge doesn’t even come into play.
While knowledge is applied to people throughout life, you only need to look at school students to see how widely the definition of knowledge varies.
A knowledgeable kindergartner might be smart for their age. However, they don’t have a complex understanding of real-life situations or many critical thinking skills. In contrast, a knowledgeable university student has gone through life preparing themselves for all the information and exams they could need. That’s how widely knowledge varies from one person to another.
Getting to the truth of a situation is dependent on the people involved in it. You might think that something is the truth, while someone else expects to hear more from you before accepting anything you’re saying.
Truth is a complicated thing to convey. Some people believe that as long as you’re honest, then you’ll always tell the truth. Other people think that your truth lies in your actions and how you treat people, even if sometimes that means lying to them to protect them.
Defining truth is a lot more complicated than it first seems. Even if you went through a dictionary to look for a definition, you still might argue with what it says if it’s not the truth that you believe in.
Anger is another emotion that we thought we’d include in this article. It’s a great way to show you how abstract ideas can plague our minds, even when we least expect them.
There’s a range of emotions that you go through when you’re angry and a range of ways that people deal with it. Some people scream and shout; others get violent. Some even keep it bottled down deep and avoid their feelings.
Anger can look different on different people, which is what makes it impossible to pinpoint it. That’s how we determine it as an abstract idea. Only a therapist will be able to get to the bottom of deep-rooted anger, and even they will have a hard time with it!
The final one we thought we’d touch on is duty. Everyone believes in something as their duty, but no two people are exactly the same. Even if you go to the same workplace, nobody believes that their duty is the same.
That’s because duty isn’t a concept that’s reserved for your working life. You can have a duty in your daily life, too. Whether that’s to provide for your family, to make sure you stay happy, or to find ways to further your career later in life. Everyone has a different idea of what their duty is, making it a great way to show you what an abstract idea is.
Synonyms For Abstract Ideas
We’ve covered all the basics so far about abstract ideas. Now it’s time to go a little further and look at some synonyms for it. We’ll look at alternatives to “abstract ideas” as a word, rather than focusing on each individual ideas. Use one of these alternatives if you’d rather not use “abstract ideas,” they might be more beneficial to you!
- Complex ideas
Which Abstract Ideas Are Good To Write About In An Essay?
When you’re writing an essay, it’s good to show you have a firm understanding of a topic. If you can include an abstract idea in your writing (and critically analyze it while you’re at it), then your teacher or examiner will grade you higher than you could ever imagine.
Any abstract idea is great to write about in an essay, as long as it relates to the topic of the essay. You don’t want to talk about an unrelated idea if you want high marks. Make sure you’ve read up on abstract ideas and what they mean before writing about them.
The best part about using abstract ideas in an essay is that they show a breadth of knowledge to your teacher that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to convey. Because abstracts are so hard to define, if you can come close to doing so in an essay, you’ll be sure to get commended for it.
What To Do If You Have A Hard Time Understanding Abstract Ideas
If you’re struggling with understanding abstract ideas, we encourage you to read up on them.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with them, though. There are so many out there that it can be hard to know where to begin! Start small. Maybe pick one or two that you’re interested in, like love and family. Then try to define those words for yourself and ask people you know how they might define them.
Those contrasting definitions will be a great way for you to understand abstract ideas a little better. The more contrasting ones you get, the more likely you’ll start to understanding the ideas better.
Are Abstract Ideas The Same As Abstract Concepts?
Concept is a synonym of idea, which means that both abstract ideas and abstract concepts are the same. You can use either one when you’re writing about them, and people will understand what you’re talking about.
As we’ve said, they’re really good if you can include them in your writing. They will take your essay writing to the next level, as long as the concepts are worked in correctly. Make sure you study up on your idea, as it could be the difference between top marks and average marks!
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.