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Deictic Abstractions:On the Occasional References to Ideal Objectivities Producible with the Words “This” and “Thus”*

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This essay introduces the concept of deictic abstraction (deictic ideation), taking as a point of departure Husserl’s prototypical but insufficient description of the act of ideation in which a shade of color comes to givenness as an ideal object, i.e., a non-individual or abstract object, on the basis of a perceived individual object. This concept comprises not only color-ideation and ideations (abstractions) of universalities of the sensuous sphere (species infima of certain sounds, noises, smells, tastes), but all acts founded in perceptions in which ideal objects are directly referred to by means of demonstrative expressions (“this,” “like this,” “such,” etc.). This allows various types of deictic ideations or abstractions, corresponding to the degree of universality and the kind of ideal object concerned, to be brought to light through the analysis of particular cases of everyday acts of deictic abstraction, including deictic abstractions of predicative universals of the lowest level of universality (e.g., “this smell of perfume,” “a bug like this”); deictic abstractions of non-predicative universals, especially of universal ways (manners, schemata) of doing something (e.g., of tying a shoelace); and deictic abstractions of individual styles of doing something (e.g., of playing a musical composition in a typical individual way). Deictic abstractions not only turn out to be constitutive for the formation of perceptual concepts of the lower and lowest levels, but also prove to be foundational for all kinds of learning in which schemata of actions are acquired from a model (observational learning).

Affiliations: 1: Catholic University Leuven (Husserl Archives)


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