Now and then, I here this:

From the conceptual point of view ...

However, I still can't get its meaning. I think it is somehow related to the way to think about a particular subject, but I'm not sure.

What does it mean?

3 Answers 3


Looking at is in an abstract way, without dealing with the details.

From a conceptual point of view the Golden Gate bridge is a simple machine.

From a conceptual point of view climbing a mountain is easy: you just have to put one foot after the next until you reach the top. In reality it can be quite challenging to climb mountains as you have to worry about frost bit and altitude sickness and a myriad of of other problems from blisters to avalanches.

See: conceptually1

  • Hi, thanks for the reply. Can you elaborate a little more on looking at it in an abstract way ?
    – utxeee
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 21:59

In general, there are two major ways to analyze or consider a particular subject: factually and conceptually. To fully comprehend the meaning of "conceptual point of view" as it is often used in English, it is important to understand this contrast.

A factual point of view is one that perceives characteristics that can be directly analyzed, measured, and observed. As an example:

Nuclear fission is a remarkable discovery in science. Since the development of the atomic theory in the early 19th century, scientists have been fascinated by the vast amounts of energy contained within a tiny atom. Indeed, one nuclear fission event releases approximately 200 million electron volts, and from it we have seen such wonders as the clean, efficient energy produced by nuclear reactors, to the destructive power of nuclear weapons.

By contrast, a conceptual point of view is one that perceives characteristics that cannot be truly observed, and instead only exist as concepts.

Nuclear fission involves the splitting of an atom. Atoms are held together tightly by the electromagnetic and the strong force--the two strongest forces in the known universe. Breaking such a strong bond is very difficult, but likewise the yield is staggering. Modern atomic theory is a very diverse study which involves many concepts from differential equations, positive feedback, chain reactions, and graph theory. As a concept and theory, nuclear fission is one of man's crowning intellectual achievements.

Do you see the difference? The first example focuses on the observed effects and applications of the phenomenon. Whereas the second example discusses the concepts and theory behind it.

So in general, when describing something from a "conceptual point of view", it's a good idea to stick with qualitative properties (i.e. qualities).


also known as the notional view here I hear it a lot in meetings with high level managers...

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