When I look upon my day to day behavior the pattern that pops out is that of abstracted sets of ideas interchanging one another or making connection to other entities, bringing them in the foreground, into my field of subjectivity.
We try to to make perception ours thus abstracting it away in nicely grouped entities that can relate to one another. I'm doing this daily e.g when I open my browser and visit a webpage, what I'm actually doing is accessing an abstracted entity from my memory : a browser, a webpage, the Internet.
The issue here is that a subjective quotient comes into play that creates leaky abstractions. Reductionist views in which details dissolve without a trace, one could argue that by themselves abstractions can be viewed as a reductionist view of perception or better yet : semantic compression of streaming information.
We must draw a line between what a “good” abstraction would involve and
a leaky one would dissolve. Seems like we have more questions than facts.
Looking from another angle and replacing the "good" with the standard
definition of utilitarianism :
Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, specifically defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering.
From this perspective a proper abstraction is one that maximizes utility (happiness could be a far product of this). Utility in the sense that while keeping semantic compression close to an ideal ratio our abstraction preserves its most important details; by contrast a leaky one would miss them which in relationship with other entities this would cause wrong interpretations and thus unhappiness.
Getting back to reality: all abstractions are leaky, the important thing is not to miss those capital details that could blur everything up. Our perception is by definition subjective but we also apply a semantic compression to different chunks of it to be able to easily work with them.
This leads to another layer of subjectivity, the key is that we should be eternally vigilant.
- Utilitarianism 1 - a much better description
- Utilitarianism 2 - quote source