Abstract

To be free from everything is to be - nothing. Only nothing is quite free, and freedom is abstract nothingness.

Poetry creates an abstract world using concrete materials – just like life itself.

The fact of our being able to form abstract or universal ideas is, in itself, a proof of the immateriality, or, as it is technically called, the spirituality of the soul, a proof that the soul is, in its essence, independent of matter.

A soldier is a man whose business it is to kill those who never offended him, and who are the innocent martyrs of other men’s iniquities. Whatever may become of the abstract question of the justifiableness of war, it seems impossible that the soldier should not be a depraved and unnatural thing.

Faith is sensitiveness to what transcends nature, knowledge and will, awareness of the ultimate, alertness to the holy dimension of all reality. Faith is a force in man, lying deeper than the stratum of reason and its nature cannot be defined in abstract, static terms. To have faith is not to infer the beyond from the wretched here, but to perceive the wonder that is here and to be stirred by the desire to integrate the self into the holy order of living. It is not a deduction but an intuition, not a form of knowledge, of being convinced without proof, but the attitude of mind toward ideas whose scope is wider than its own capacity to grasp.

God is not an abstract reality, an absolute Alone, at the far end of Bethel-ladders and Babel-towers. He is central in the stream of Life and Love and Truth and Beauty. The reason we can hope to find God is that He is here, engaged all the time in finding us.

The present is always unique, never a mere exemplification of general formulas. It carries an irreducible preciousness, a freight of meaning greater than the general essence which later on knowledge can abstract from it.

The knowledge that mankind needs is not the way or principle which has an absolute existence, but the particular truths for here and now and for particular individuals. Absolute truth is imaginary, abstract, vague, without evidence, and cannot be demonstrated.

To speak of the love for humanity is meaningless. There is no such thing as humanity. What we call humanity has a name, was born, lives on a street, gets hungry, needs all the particular things we need. As an abstract, it has no reality whatsoever.

Computational irreducibility tends to make infinite questions undecidable. The presence of universality implies that there must at some level be computational irreducibility… This means that today’s mathematics will be viewed as small and surprisingly uncharacteristic sample of what is possible. If a system is computationally irreducible this means that there is in effect a tangible separation between the underlying rules for the system and its overall behavior associated with the irreducible amount of computational work needed to go from one to the other. And it is this separation that the basic origin of the apparent freedom we see in all sorts of system lie – whether those systems are abstract cellular automata or actual living brains.

When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.

In a state of war each sincere citizen feels responsibility to society in the abstract, and none to the people he kills.

A philosopher of imposing stature doesn’t think in a vacuum. Even his most abstract ideas are, to some extent, conditioned by what is or what is not known in the time when he lives.

Once you permit those who are convinced of their own superior rightness to censor and silence and suppress those who hold contrary opinions, just at that moment the citadel has been surrendered. For the American citadel is a man. Not man in general. Not man in the abstract. Not the majority of men. But man. That man. His worth. His uniqueness.

Lack of experience diminishes our power of taking a comprehensive view of the admitted facts. Hence those who dwell in intimate association with nature and its phenomena grow more and more able to formulate, as the foundation of their theories, principles such as to admit of a wide and coherent development: while those whom devotion to abstract discussions has rendered unobservant of the facts are too ready to dogmatize on the basis of a few observations.

Music... stand quite alone. It is cut off from all the other arts... It does not express a particular and definite joy, sorrow, anguish, horror, delight, or mood of peace, but joy, sorrow, anguish, horror, delight, peace of mind themselves, in the abstract, in their essential nature, without accessories, and therefore without their customary motives. Yet it enables us to grasp and share them fully in this quintessence.

"The world is my idea" - this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract thought.

Money is human happiness in the abstract: he, then, who is no longer capable of enjoying human happiness in the concrete, devotes his heart entirely to money.

Our principle, that the abstract is the unreal, moves us steadily upward. It forces us first to rejection of bare primary qualities, and it compels us in the end to credit Nature with our higher emotions. That process can cease only where Nature is quite absorbed into spirit, and at ever stage of the process we find increase in reality.

In every step of the inquiry we are compelled to feel and acknowledge the immeasurable disproportion between the size of the object and the capacity of the human mind. We may strive to abstract the notions of time, of space, and of matter, which so closely adhere to all the perceptions of our experimental knowledge. But as soon as we presume to reason of infinite substance, of spiritual generation, as often as we deduce any positive conclusions from a negative idea, we are involved in darkness, perplexity, and inevitable contradiction.