idealization(redirected from idealize)
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idealizationsee IDEAL TYPE.
the mental formulation of concepts of objects that do not exist and are not realizable in reality, but ones for which prototypes exist in the real world.
The process of idealization is characterized by abstraction from properties and relations necessarily inherent in objects of concrete reality and by the introduction of attributes that cannot in principle belong to their real prototypes into the content of the concepts being formed. A point may serve as an example of a concept that is the result of idealization. It is impossible to find in the real world an object which is a point, that is, an object having no dimensions. The concepts “straight line,” “circumference,” “an absolutely black body,” and “inertia” are of an analogous nature. It is said of concepts that are a result of idealization (frequently they are simply referred to as idealizations) that in them idealized (or ideal) objects are conceived. Having formed a concept of a given object by means of idealization, it is possible henceforth to operate with it in discourse as with an object that really exists. Idealization makes it possible to formulate exact laws and to construct abstract schemata of concrete processes in order to understand them more thoroughly; in this sense the method of modeling is inseparable from idealization.
It is a characteristic of scientific idealization, distinguishing it from sterile fantasy, that idealized objects produced through it are under certain circumstances interpreted in terms of nonideal-ized (real) objects. It is practice (including that of systematic scientific observations and experiments) that confirms the correctness of the process of abstraction giving rise to concepts of idealized abstract objects and that serves as a criterion of the fruitfulness of idealization in cognition.
REFERENCEGorskii, D. P. Voprosy abstraktsii i obrazovanie poniatii. Moscow, 1961.
B. V. BIRIUKOV