this post claims

a ‘concept’ is an Epistemological construct and forms the foundation of human thought, communication and knowledge

A ‘Notion’ is a very broad concept that may include anything from a personal whim to (vague) impressions, to broad generalized ideas

can anyone give some concrete examples about the difference between notion concept?

is an "apple" (a kind of fruit) a ‘concept’ or a ‘Notion’?

is a "vector" (a mathematical object) a ‘concept’ or a ‘Notion’? I guess it is a notion, but I don't know why

2 Answers 2


I think the post gets the basic definitions, although its use of "epistemological" requires its own extensive definition, and so doesn't really help with a simple explanation.

Think of it this way: A "concept" is the fundamental building block of human thought. It represents an abstraction from "reality". External/Physical objects always relate to our conceptual interpretation of real-world objects, and vice-versa.

external reality ⟺ internal concept

For example you have an internal concept of "apple", based on experience. It has a certain shape, color, smell, texture, flavor, food value, etc. When you perceive an apple in your environment, through one or another of your senses, you recognize it as an "apple" by its similarity to your concept of "apple".

Concepts don't have to be related to physical objects. They can be abstractions like "love" or "health" or "independence". All of these are still related in some way to real-world experiences.

"Notion" is a subset of "concept". Notions are generally vague, meaning they are incomplete or incompletely defined. For example, a teacher might introduce the "notion" of epistemology to her students, meaning that she may explain the general definition, and some of the basic ideas, but not go into full detail about its philosophy, practice, or limitations.

So a vector -- or rather, the subject of vector-based mathematics, is a "concept" with a fairly clear definition. In the same way as the example above, a teacher might give students a "notion" about what vector mathematics is, by showing a couple of examples, but not going into any great detail.

"Notion" is also used for things like guesses, including more formal guesses like conjectures or hypotheses. For example:

Modern cosmologists have come up with a notion about what they call "dark matter" and "dark energy" to explain certain observed phenomena in the universe, but they are still unable to explain what these actually are.

Because a notion is a kind of concept, it would also be fine to say

Cosmologists have come up with the concept of dark matter/energy to explain certain observed phenomena in the universe, but they are unable to explain what these actually are.


I'm going to try and keep this simple, given that this is a site about the English language, and not a site about philosophy.

  • A "concept" is an abstract idea. That is, an idea without form.

For example, some years ago, the idea of a flying car was a concept. Someone had thought of it, but not actually thought out the details of how it might work or put it into practice.

However, even when an idea has taken form, the concept behind it still exists. Staying with the example of the flying car, prototypes of flying cars do now exist, but the concept of them may include how they work, how they might become mass-market, how their use will be governed etc. Someone could understand what a flying car is (pretty self-explanatory) but still not grasp the concept of them.

A concept cannot really be challenged by someone else's idea. Someone may have a different concept - for example, there might be two different concepts of what a flying car should be - a car with wings, or a plane with wheels? Both could be just as valid. A concept could be proved to a "bad idea" and subsequently discarded, but you can't really prove a concept to be "wrong".

  • A "notion" is an idea which is held, having been conceived, rightly or wrongly.

For example, you might say that someone has the notion that everybody will own a flying car by 2025. That is an idea that they have formed and perhaps believe. Whether it will be true or not is another matter. A notion could be challenged by somebody else and even disproved.

Philosophy and other forms of thought may well put a different spin on these definitions. For example, you mentioned an apple. An apple isn't a concept. An apple is an apple. Arguably, fruit is a concept - because fruit is a definition that we have created to group certain similar things together, such as apples, oranges and bananas. You can't argue that a tomato is not a tomato - but you could argue that isn't a fruit if your "concept" of fruit is that they should be sweet and compliment the flavours of other fruits.

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