Looked at this way it becomes difficult to find the boundaries of an object. An automobile melts into subsuming and interacting ideas of steel, rubber, gasoline; ideas of friction and compression; ideas of fleets of cars, tanks, and jeeps; ideas of vacations, business trips, and visits to friends. An automobile is a system of ideas—ideas that stand in mutual relation with each other while retaining their integrity. Ideas reveal endless relations between phenomena expressed in form in a beginningless and endless flux.
The definition of a product emphasizes the importance of the idea. It should be noted that an idea can only be directly perceived, or better still, what is perceived is only perceived through the idea. Zen has a saying that admonishes one not to confuse the finger that points to the moon with the moon itself; an eye cannot see itself.
Anything that can be said about the idea is not the idea, but an expression of an idea about the idea. A point comes when undertaking a descriptive analysis of experience, where words fail and all that can be done is to shrug one’s reality, not its muscles or nerves. It must be accepted that certain concepts are almost undefinable, and among such undefinable, and among such undefinable concepts is an idea.
It may, however, be useful to say what the concept “idea” is not meant to convey. It must not be construed as in opposition to some greater reality, some more substantial like a rock, a brick, or a pile of gold. It is different from thought. A thought may be the way in which an idea finds expression, but an idea can also find expression through music, painting, dancing, gestures, symbols, and so on. It is not to be found separat from experience. In other words, it is not a “spiritual” or “mystical” thing that floats in som unworldly ether. It is not something that “one can be conscious of.” It is neither unique nor general, and th words “it” and “something” are used above only as an admission of failure. The idea is not, however, nothing. The very coherence of the world depends upon the idea that reveals to us the relationships of this world.