concept 与 idea

名词 concept 与 idea 的意思非常相近,而且平常使用时往往可以互换;不过,这两个名词间仍存在显著差异,使用于学术论文时应加以区分。这两个单词间有三个主要差异。首先,一般认为 concept表达较为抽象的意义。出于这个原因,科学及数学领域对这个单词的使用相当频繁,因为抽象概念在这类领域中扮演着特别重要的角色。第二个差异是,当涉及可以明确定义及描述的事物时,会自然而然用concept来表示。相反,idea 往往用于指无法明确描述或定义、或定义有些(或非常)不清楚的事物。第三个差异是,idea 的意义较为广泛,有些定义是 concept 所没有的。

concept 的两个主要意义分别类似于 abstraction 或 construct 以及 understanding 或 comprehension。现由以下例句说明。

  1. The concept of the infinitesimal limit played a key role in the development of calculus.
  2. Scientists at that time yet had no concept of how to treat experimental uncertainty.

如果用idea取代上述的 concept,尽管这些句子仍可理解,但因为前面提到的语义差异,可能会有些不自然。

最后,我要以几个例句说明 idea 的典型用法。

  1. The idea of treating the input and the output on the same footing is quite novel.
  2. In that paper, the authors develop an idea that was first discussed in Ref. [3].
  3. I had no idea that you were coming.
  4. His idea about how to proceed is quite unconventional.
  5. I once had the idea of becoming an artist.

虽然 concept 用在例句 (3) 和 (4) 并不算错误,但 idea 用在此处更为合适。在例句 (5)-(7) 中,concept 则完全不适用。

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