According to my understanding of what a phenomenon and concept are, I believe that uniformity is both, a phenomenon and a concept, it is a phenomenon since it is evident in nature (numerological invariance in petal, seeds, leaves of plant species) but also a concept since it is also established sub consciously, (created uniformity), as in the interpretation of what is beautiful. I believe that since the perception of beauty is extrinsic instead of it being intrinsic, the uniformity of what is beautiful would be a conceptual element of our studies. Even though people tend to generalise beauty, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. What do you think?

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    We can talk about a phenomenon because we form a concept of it, this applies to everything including uniformity. Red is a phenomenon for which we have a concept labeled by this word, same with beauty, etc. Are you trying to ask if uniformity is objective or subjective, real or culturally relative, etc.?
    – Conifold
    Dec 13, 2017 at 21:15
  • @Conifold am confused...isn't a phenomenon something present in physical reality, whilst concepts can be abstract and not present in physical reality. ''The color red is a concept. 650nm radiation slamming in to your eye is a phenomenon'' I got this from a source, just remember which. However, yes I am trying to ask if uniformity is real or culturally relative. Dec 13, 2017 at 21:46

2 Answers 2


It is a concept, more properly a baseless assumption held up by confirmation bias alone.

As Quine points out in discussing Natural Kinds, were it a phenomenon, it could not be observed without assuming it. You cannot observe a consistency without comparing two things that are not identical and declaring them to be the same.

Two things are objectively never identical, or they would not be two things, and the difference could always be significant in any case, if we did not harbor the bias that most distinctions are not going to be significant.

Of course that bias is what allows us to sort through differences and learn categorizations. But it is not a fact, it is an assumption. Even if Kant is right in making it the basic content of a Category, meaning that it is necessarily shared by all thinking beings, we do not see the truth, we only see what aspects of reality are compatible with thought.

  • ''Two things are objectively never identical, or they would not be two things, and the difference could always be significant in any case, if we did not harbor the bias that most distinctions are not going to be significant.'' But what about uniformities in maths, e.g. when we use mathematical induction to transform conjectures into theorems, we most certainly assume that the theorem is true for all cases of n where n is an integer. Theorems are fundamentally based upon the assumption of uniformity. Dec 14, 2017 at 21:53
  • Would you say that a theorem is not true, justified knowledge since it can have counter examples. Well, an example I can come up with are the counter examples of Fermat's Little 'Theorem'. Are theorems not legitimately true despite being derived deductively, following Euclid's method. Would you doubt the truthfulness of mathematical theorems? Dec 14, 2017 at 21:53
  • I think mathematical Platonism is pretty much dead. And from an 'intuitionistic' POV, I would argue (vaguely alongside Kant's notion of space) that math is not phenomenal, it is conceptual and it is entirely assumptions. It is, in effect, the accumulation of a set of axiomatic biases embedded in human thought. Math sets the boundary that excludes things that even if they were true, we just absolutely could never understand.
    – user9166
    Dec 15, 2017 at 0:06
  • That excluded space has to be small, because we survive in the world. But it probably isn't empty. That doesn't mean that we immediately understand it and do not have to discover it, but that what we are discovering is part of us, and not of the phenomenal world.
    – user9166
    Dec 15, 2017 at 0:09
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    So theorems are true of anything we can understand, and may not be true in any more absolute sense. And saying these are biases does not make them errors, they are just questions you have difficulty asking and you may not understand answers that conflict with them. Most biases of reasoning are usually true, because they are acquired adaptations to the world. (sorry for the length in comments.)
    – user9166
    Dec 15, 2017 at 0:12

Conifold's comment stimulates this idea, which in fairness he might not share. There are two issues here.

Suppose you see a zebra. It is a phenomenon, something perceived or sensed. Now, you cannot perceive or sense anything without applying some concept or set of concepts to it. You might think you have seen a striped horse, a striped animal, a quadruped, a creature with hooves, something that canters or gallops. You cannot perceive (or think you perceive) anything without bringing it under some description : and descriptions are conceptual. If you see the zebra as a horse, you have used the concept, horse.

This, I should say, is a human universal : no perception of phenomena without concepts. But the concepts we apply are usually and almost certainly, and possibly universally, culturally specific. A particular culture may not have the concept, hoof : it may regard what I call a hoof as a horn-like decoration or the zebra as a unicorn mysteriously missing its horn. These examples are light-weight but they illustrate the important point that different cultures or language groups can 'see the same thing' - what a photograph might represent - but apply quite different concepts to it and in this sense 'not see the same thing'.

There is no paradox here. We just need to draw distinctions. Interesting question, btw.

  • Hm. So, what concepts are applied to the phenomenon of uniformity? Surely the concepts associated with uniformity would be different when taking into consideration different subjects such as uniformities in maths are more closely associated with patterns whilst those in the arts are associated with the uniformity of perception. I think your first point is in line with the idea that we see all see the world differently depending on what we want to put emphasis on, as in the arts. And your second point is in line with how cultural disposition effects what we see, also in the arts. Dec 14, 2017 at 22:03
  • But what about maths? Surely, we see numerological uniformities in nature, what concepts can we apply to these type of uniformities? Dec 14, 2017 at 22:04
  • Thank you answering! Really, an eye opener, but I am just curious as to how different concepts can be applied to uniformities when talking about different disciplines, in particular, maths and the arts. Dec 14, 2017 at 22:10
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    @Selena Carlos. Thank you for your comment. I apologise for the delay in replyig
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Dec 17, 2017 at 11:52
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    @Selena Carlos. Thank you for your comment. I apologise for the delay in replying. I said : 'But the concepts we apply are usually and almost certainly, and possibly universally, culturally specific.' I accept that mathematical concepts are less culturally specific than, say, concepts from art and religion. There is still probably a degree of cultural specificity. The ancient Greeks and Romans did not have the concept of zero, for instance, while their Indian counterparts did. Evolutionary psychology might best explain why some concepts are universal, or nearly so, and others not.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Dec 17, 2017 at 11:56

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