The truly terrible thing about the war spirit, about the fear and hate hysteria it generates, is that it forces us to think and talk and feel in terms of abstractions-those "communists" this time, those "fascists" last time. But those we are fighting and killing are people-men, women and children-not political, geographic or economic abstractions. They are, in the main, as decent and fearful and confused as we are. And they regard us as abstractions as much as we do them.
Sydney J. Harris
If people would stop objectifying abstractions (which they probably never will), or if they would stop objectifying the abstractions they make consciously (which they might learn to do), at least half the pseudo-questions befuddling the world today - as they have befuddled it since time immemorial - would vanish. And that would be a very, very great gain.
Cassius Jackson Keyser
The world of physics is essentially the real world construed by mathematical abstractions, and the world of sense is the real world construed by the abstractions which the sense-organs immediately furnish. To suppose that the "material mode" is a primitive and groping attempt at physical conception is a fatal error in epistemology.
Susanne Katherina Langer
I am glad that the country world...retains a power to use our English tongue. It is a part of its sense of reality, of its vocabulary of definite terms, and of its habit of earthly common sense. I find this country writing an excellent corrective of the urban vocabulary of abstractions and of the emotion disguised as thinking which abstractions and humbug have loosed upon the world. May there always be such things as a door, a milk pail, and a loaf of bread, and words to do them honor.
If you have had your attention directed to the novelties in thought in your own lifetime, you will have observed that almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are first produced, and almost any idea which jogs you out of your current abstractions may be better than nothing.
Alfred North Whitehead
It seems to me that this whole alone is worthy of the deeper sort of love; and that there is peace, freedom, I might say a kind of salvation, in turning one's affections outward toward this one God, rather than inwards on one's self, or on humanity, or on human imaginations and abstractions - the world of the spirits.
On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarrelling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
There are no steps to self-realization. There is nothing gradual about it. It happens suddenly and is irreversible. You rotate into a new dimension, seen from which the previous ones are mere abstractions. Just like on sunrise you see things as they are, so on self-realization you see everything as it is. The world of illusions is left behind.
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
I will say without reservations that from my point of view there can be no abstractions. Any shape or area that has not the pulsating concreteness of real flesh and bones, its vulnerability to pleasure or pain is nothing at all. Any picture that does not provide the environment in which the breath of life can be drawn does not interest me.
For what reason then do the realists show themselves so unfriendly toward philosophy? Because they misunderstand their own calling and with all their might want to remain restricted instead of becoming unrestricted! Why do they hate abstractions? Because they themselves are abstract since they abstract from the perfection of themselves, from the elevation of redeeming truth!
Perhaps the efforts of the true poets, founders, religions, literatures, all ages, have been, and ever will be, our time and times to come, essentially the same - to bring people back from their present strayings and sickly abstractions, to the costless, average, divine, original concrete.
As Enlightenment philosophers and scholars consciously adopted the methods of science to establish such abstract concepts as rights, liberty, and justice, successive generations have become schooled in thinking of these abstractions as applied to others in matrices-like mental rotations.
We are concerned with similar states of consciousness and relationship to the world.. ..If previous abstractions paralleled the scientific and objective preoccupations of our times, ours are finding a pictoral equivalent for man's new knowledge and consciousness of his more complex inner self.
Most people traffic in abstractions and generalizations because they are grossly incompetent at culturing their intuition or powers of evidency, refining it to grasp the Thisness (Haecceitas) of what is before them. Thinking is like a Stradivarius that has more potential variations in how it is played than any human can finitely perform or capture.
Modern art, in particular, seems especially vulnerable to fraud. Its abstractions are sometimes difficult to understand or grasp, and a modern painting is often loved less because of its intrinsic quality - its beauty, as conventionally understood - than because of the identity of the painter, its mark of social status.
My forms are not abstractions of things in the real world. They're also not symbols. I would say that my job is to invent these forms and to put them together in a way that keeps your interest, to give the forms a quirky identity so you can engage with them, so you realize there's an inner intelligence or logic.
Lately I feel films are more and more like music. Music deals with abstractions and, like film, it involves time. It has many different movements, it has much contrast. And through music you learn that, in order to get a particular beautiful feeling, you have to have started far back, arranging certain things in a certain way. You can't just cut to it.
You cannot devote your life to an abstraction. Indeed, life shatters all abstractions in one way or another, including words such as "faith" or "belief". If God is not in the very fabric of existence for you, if you do not find Him (or miss Him!) in the details of your daily life, then religion is just one more way to commit spiritual suicide.
Historically and politically, the petit-bourgeois is the key to the century. The bourgeois and proletariat classes have become abstractions: the petite-bourgeoisie, in contrast, is everywhere, you can see it everywhere, even in the areas of the bourgeois and the proletariat, what's left of them.
The most refined abstractions of logic conduct to a view of life, which, though startling to the apprehension, is, in fact, that which the habitual sense of its repeated combinations has extinguished in us. It strips, as it were, the painted curtain from this scene of things. I confess that I am one of those who are unable to refuse my assent to the conclusions of those philosophers who assert that nothing exists but as it is perceived.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
What a wonderful word, future. Of all the abstractions we can articulate to ourselves, of all the concepts we have that other animals do not, how extraordinary the ability to consider a time that's never been experienced. And how tragic not to consider it. It galls us, we with such a limited future, to see someone brush it aside as meaningless, when it has an endless capacity for meaning, and an endless number of meanings that can be found within it.
What a powerful word, future. Of all the abstractions we can articulate to ourselves, of all the concepts we have that other animals do not, how extraordinary the ability to consider a time that's never been experienced. And how tragic not to consider it. It galls us, we with such a limited future, to see someone brush it aside as meaningless, when it has an endless capacity for meaning, and an endless number of meanings that can be found within it.
The most intelligent hearers are those who enjoy most heartily the simplest preaching. It is not they who clamor for superlatively intellectual or aesthetic sermons. Daniel Webster used to complain of some of the preaching to which he listened. "In the house of God" he wanted to meditate "upon the simple varieties, and the undoubted facts of religion;" not upon mysteries and abstractions.
One of the things anxiety educates you in is how deeply physical thought can be, how concrete. In anxiety, there is no time to luxuriate in abstractions. It's just you and your mind, which has fists and is using them. It may be dualistic and logically untenable to posit the situation as You v. Head; it may not make sense philosophically. But in the throes of anxiety? In the cognitive shit? There's really no other way to think about what's going on.
And silence. She liked the silence most of all. The silence in which the body, senses, the instincts, are more alert, more powerful, more sensitized, live a more richly perfumed and intoxication life, instead of transmuting into thoughts, words, into exquisite abstractions, mathematics of emotion in place of violent impact, the volcanic eruptions of fever, lust and delight.
The reader must come armed , in a serious state of intellectual readiness. This is not easy because he comes to the text alone. In reading, one's responses are isolated, one'sintellect thrown back on its own resourses. To be confronted by the cold abstractions of printed sentences is to look upon language bare, without the assistance of either beauty or community. Thus, reading is by its nature a serious business. It is also, of course, an essentially rational activity.
First, it is a commitment to particularism, to giving priority to the specificity of particulars, not to abstractions and generalities that divert our attention away from concrete realities. Idealizations tend to be partial and distorting, obscuring the heterogeneity and complexity of actual experiences and concrete practices, which is why they do not provide an adequate standpoint for the diagnosis of social problems and injustices.
There is absolutely no such thing as reading but by a candle. We have tried the affectation of a book at noon-day in gardens, and in sultry arbours, but it was labor thrown away. Those gay motes in the beam come about you, hovering and teasing, like so many coquets, that will have you all to their self, and are jealous of your abstractions. By the midnight taper, the writers digests his meditations. By the same light we must approach to their perusal, if we would catch the flame, the odour.
But the nature of our civilized minds is so detached from the senses, even in the vulgar, by abstractions corresponding to all theabstract terms our languages abound in, and so refined by the art of writing, and as it were spiritualized by the use of numbers, because even the vulgar know how to count and reckon, that it is naturally beyond our power to form the vast image of this mistress called "Sympathetic Nature.
When we are mired in the relative world, never lifting our gaze to the mystery, our life is stunted, incomplete; we are filled with yearning for that paradise that is lost when, as young children, we replace it with words and ideas and abstractions - such as merit, such as past, present, and future - our direct, spontaneous experience of the thing itself, in the beauty and precision of this present moment.
Hence the sterile, uninspiring futility of a great many theoretical discussions of ethics, and the resentment which many people feel towards such discussions: moral principles remain in their minds as floating abstractions, offering them a goal they cannot grasp and demanding that they reshape their souls in its image, thus leaving them with a burden of undefinable moral guilt.
Soon the child's clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers.
When a mother comes home with her new baby, she will find her abstractions are all concrete now. 'Freedom' now means being able to take a shower. 'Mobility' means being able to reach the glass of water on the dresser while not breaking the baby's suction on the breast. 'Flexibility' means being able to push the Record function on the VCR without dropping the baby.
Media is an assemblage of tools with which to expand an audience's conception of what "the world" is to such and extent that their own lives and capabilities seem utterly insignificant; a means of psychological warfare by which people are overloaded with information and desensitized to their own and others' suffering; the sum of all means by which human beings reduce the infinite complexity of reality to a dead-end maze of abstractions.
A sad truth of human nature is that it is hard to care for people when they are abstractions, hard to care when it is not you or somebody close to you. Unless the world community can stop finding ways to dither in the face of this monstrous threat to humanity those words Never Again will persist in being one of the most abused phrases in the English language and one of the greatest lies of our time.
... I have developed, over the years, some sense of the difference between real horseshit that you can step in and Ideal Platonic Horseshit that exists, evidently, only in the contemplation of those who worship such abstractions; and I continue to notice that Natural Law bears an uncanny resemblance to ideal Platonic Horseshit.
Robert Anton Wilson
It's no wonder we don't defend the land where we live. We don't live here. We live in television programs and movies and books and with celebrities and in heaven and by rules and laws and abstractions created by people far away and we live anywhere and everywhere except in our particular bodies on this particular land at this particular moment in these particular circumstances.
For such will be our ruin if you, in the immensity of your public abstractions, forget the private figure, or if we in the intensity of our private emotions forget the public world. Both houses will be ruined, the public and the private, the material and the spiritual, for they are inseparably connected.
No one made a decision to militarize the police in America. The change has come slowly, the result of a generation of politicians and public officials fanning and exploiting public fears by declaring war on abstractions like crime, drug use, and terrorism. The resulting policies have made those war metaphors increasingly real.
To be well used, creatures and places must be used sympathetically, just as they must be known sympathetically to be well known...The "animal scientist" to whom it is of no concern whether or not animals suffer will almost inevitably aid and abet the destruction of the decent old ideal of animal husbandry and, as a consequence, increase the suffering of animals. I hope that my country may be delivered from the remote, cold abstractions of university science.
We can tell people abstract rules of thumb which we have derived from prior experiences, but it is very difficult for other people to learn from these. We have difficulty remembering such abstractions, but we can more easily remember a good story. Stories give life to past experience. Stories make the events in memory memorable to others and to ourselves. This is one of the reasons why people like to tell stories.
Roger C. Shank
People who blame the Bible for the modern destruction of nature have failed to see its delight in the variety and individuality of creatures and its insistence upon their holiness. But that delight-in, say, the final chapters of Job or the 104th Psalm-is far more useful to the cause of conservation than the undifferentiating abstractions of science... Reverence gives standing to creatures, and to our perception of them, just as the law gives standing to a citizen.
It is this subtle dimension of understanding that marks the southwestern Indian peoples from other religions and separates tribal peoples from the world's religions. Somewhere in the planetary history religious expression changed from participation in the sound, color and rhythm of nature to the abstractions of man outside this context pleading for temporary respite and hoping in the next life to return to the Garden.
Vine Deloria Jr.
I write nothing for publication, and last of all things should it be on the subject of religion. On the dogmas of religion as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarrelling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Were I to enter on that arena, I should only add an unit to the number of Bedlamites. [Letter to Mathew Carey, 11 November 1816]