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Abstract

When Americans are morally divided, it is appropriate that our laws reflect that fact... Our popular institutions, the legislative and executive branches, were structured to provide safety to achieve compromise when we are divided, to slow change, to dilute absolutisms... They are designed, in short, to do the very things that abstract generalizations about moral principles and the just society tend to bring into contempt. - Robert Bork, fully Robert Heron Bork
We may, if we like, by our reasonings unwind things to that black and jointless continuity of space and moving clouds of swarming atoms which science calls the only real world. But all the while the world we feel and live in will be that which our ancestors and we, by slowly cumulative strokes of choice, have extricated out of this, like sculptors, by simply rejecting certain portion of the given stuff. Other sculptors, other statues from the same stone! Other minds, other worlds from the same monotonous and inexpressive chaos! My world is but one in a million alike embedded, alike real to those who may abstract them. - William James
To attack vices in the abstract, without touching persons, may be safe fighting indeed, but it is fighting with shadows. -
But it is the knowledge of necessary and eternal truths that distinguishes us from the mere animals and gives us Reason and the sciences, raising us to the knowledge of ourselves and of God. And it is this in us that is called the rational soul or mind. It is also through the knowledge of necessary truths, and through their abstract expression, that we rise to acts of reflection, which make us think of what is called I, and observe that this or that is within us: and thus, thinking of ourselves, we think of being, of substance, of the simple and the compound, of the immaterial, and of God Himself, conceiving that what is limited in us is in Him without limits. -
What is then liberty? To be born is at once to be born in the world and to the world. The world is already constituted, but never completely. Under the first rapport, we are solicited, under the second we are open to an infinity of possibilities. But this analysis is still abstract, because we exist under these two relations at once. There is therefore never determinism and never absolute choice; I am never a thing and never naked consciousness. - Maurice Merleau-Ponty
There are other similarities between poetry and children's speech. Poets tend to look for significant evocative detail --something straight out of life -- to carry their meaning, and to avoid the vaguely general or abstract terms. With young children it is not a matter of choice. Their ideas must take a concrete form of expression because they have not mastered the art of masking and handling (Sign-mind) abstraction. A five year old boy in an infants' class once said, "Oh, yes, I know Geography. Its polar bears at the top and penguins at the bottom." -
Know what your sin is and confess it; but do not imagine that you have approved yourself a penitent by confessing sin in the abstract. - Theodore Cuyler, fully Theodore Ledyard Cuyler
Old ideas give way slowly; for they are more than abstract logical forms and categories. They are habits, predispositions, deeply ingrained attitudes of aversion and preference. - John Dewey
In abstract love of humanity one almost always loves oneself. - Fyodor Dostoevsky, fully Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky or Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski
Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic. - Fyodor Dostoevsky, fully Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoevsky or Feodor Mikhailovich Dostoevski
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