Concept formation is rare. A concept is not an opinion that is arrived at by the mind on receipt of fresh information based on past experience. Nor is it a thought which is the result of a mental endeavour to coordinate two or more facts. It is not even ideas which emerge out of several thoughts merging in a context. Of course, mental habits, constructions, preferences, prejudices do not constitute concepts either.
A concept emerges in the speculative thinking Mind Level 1, when the organised ideas of one’s Mind are impersonally organised to arrive at a universal Truth.
- Karl Marx arrived at such a concept about the means of production and the rights of labourers.
- The idea that Americans achieve social success because they have developed individuality is a concept.
Concept formation is not possible for all. It is possible only for the thinker who is capable of separating the facts from his sense impressions, new views from old opinions, emotions from his old understandings. Having exercised his intellect in this manner, his mind must be able to coordinate all the known facts, ideas, and understandings around a new situation. Then, if he is successful, a CONCEPT arises.
None of the following examples qualify as a concept:
- Mount Everest is a high mountain -- observed fact.
- The Japanese are reliable -- opinion.
- Democracy has become established in India – personal view.
- One needs capital to start an industry -- widely shared belief.
- After a sustained training, if one involuntarily resorts to an old phrase -- habit.
- On the basis of an existing true situation, one imposes his own assumption -- mental construction.
- Preference is simple, based on liking.
- Prejudice is equally simple, based on a good or bad prejudgment.
Examples of concepts:
- Mahatma Gandhi conceived that non-violent resistance, which he called Satyagraha, would bring out the spiritual strength of India to win independence. His concept may be right or wrong, but it is a concept.
- The concept of Englishmen is the good opinion of the world is more important than material gain or even being right.
- That a good education is necessary for a good career is more than a belief, a belief upgraded into a CONCEPT.