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Abstraction   /æbstrˈækʃən/   Listen
Abstraction

noun
1.
A concept or idea not associated with any specific instance.  Synonym: abstract.
2.
The act of withdrawing or removing something.
3.
The process of formulating general concepts by abstracting common properties of instances.  Synonyms: generalisation, generalization.
4.
An abstract painting.
5.
Preoccupation with something to the exclusion of all else.  Synonym: abstractedness.
6.
A general concept formed by extracting common features from specific examples.  Synonym: abstract entity.



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"Abstraction" Quotes from Famous Books



... propensities, but to the malorganization of society, has shown itself in a strange and ominous indulgence to crime. It was the old fashion, he says, upon hearing of any enormity, to level our indignation against the perpetrator; it is now the mode, to direct it against that culpable abstraction, society. Society is, indeed, the sole culprit. When the novelist has detailed some horrible assassination, or gross adultery, he exclaims, Behold what society has done! The criminal himself passes scathless; if, indeed, he may not put in a claim to our especial ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 56, Number 349, November, 1844 • Various

... form of his daughter. The April day was receding, and Eugenie de Pastourelles was sitting very still, her hands lightly clasped upon a letter which lay outspread upon her lap. These moments of pensive abstraction were characteristic of her. Her life was turned within; she lived more truly in thought than in speech ...
— Fenwick's Career • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... fool enough to wonder that, while she was most attentive and devout during the reading of the service, her face assumed, during the sermon, a far off look of abstraction, that indicated no reception of what I said, further than as an influence of soporific quality. I felt that there was re-proof in this. In fact, it roused my conscience yet more, and made me doubt whether there was anything genuine in me at all. Sometimes I felt as if I really could not go on, but ...
— Adela Cathcart - Volume II • George MacDonald

... and before I had concluded it, my ardent friend Sheringham was announced; he was waiting in the breakfast-room. At the same moment, a note from the lovely Fanny Haywood was delivered to me—from the divine girl who, in the midst of all my scientific abstraction, could "chain my worldly feelings for a moment." "Sheringham, my dear fellow," said I, as I advanced to welcome him, "what makes you so early a visiter this morning?"—"An anxiety," replied Sheringham, "to tell you that my uncle, whose interest I endeavoured to procure ...
— The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Vol. 12, - Issue 344 (Supplementary Issue) • Various

... mountains and cliffs seemed to whirl past him in a vast headlong procession. So it was in Meynell's mind with thoughts and ideas. Gradually they calmed and slackened, till at last they passed into an abstraction and ...
— The Case of Richard Meynell • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... fury of the storm having abated, they sat down to supper, but there was little conversation and a good deal of thoughtful abstraction. ...
— The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Vol. 1 (of 8) - Boule de Suif and Other Stories • Guy de Maupassant

... as of specific value; and when the same identical form is met with in two distant countries, or in two geological formations, they believe that two distinct species are hidden under the same dress. The term species thus comes to be a mere useless abstraction, implying and assuming a separate act of creation. It is certain that many forms, considered by highly competent judges to be varieties, resemble species so completely in character that they have been thus ranked by ...
— On the Origin of Species - 6th Edition • Charles Darwin

... artist.... It was a keen pleasure to her to bring him back suddenly to physical things like food and clothes and to care for him. Sometimes he would forget everything except food and clothes, and then she lived in a horror lest he should remain so and lose altogether the power of abstraction and concentration which made him so singular and forceful, and so near the man she most deeply knew him to be if only some power, some event, even some accident, could make him realise it and force him out of his imprisonment and almost entombment ...
— Mummery - A Tale of Three Idealists • Gilbert Cannan

... Carlyle, and it was another French Revolution to every one of his readers. It was dynamic, an induced current from Paris via Craigenputtock, because it was dramatic—great abstractions, playing magnificently over great concretes. Every man in Carlyle's history is a philosophy, and every abstraction in it a man's face, a beckoning to us. He always seems to me a kind of colossus of a man stalking across the dark, way out in The Past, using men as search-lights. He could not help doing his thinking in persons, and everything he touches ...
— The Lost Art of Reading • Gerald Stanley Lee

... distinct impression that, though uplifted by my aroused youth, my movements were deliberate enough. To that mixed white, brown, and yellow portion of mankind, out abroad on their own affairs, I presented the appearance of a man walking rather sedately. And nothing in the way of abstraction could have equalled my deep detachment from the forms and colours of this world. It was, as ...
— The Shadow-Line - A Confession • Joseph Conrad

... would betray me in case I was accosted. I even went so far as to buy a string of the large beads usually carried by a mollah, but unluckily I do not know the Moslem form of prayer, or I might carry out the plan under the guise of religious abstraction. This morning we succeeded in getting a nearer view of the mosque from the roof of the Governor's palace. Francois, by assuming the character of a Turkish cawass, gained us admission. The roof overlooks the entire enclosure of the Haram, and gives a complete ...
— The Lands of the Saracen - Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain • Bayard Taylor

... Barclay's abstraction. But the colonel's face cleared like a child's, and he reached for the little man and hugged him off his feet. Then the colonel broke out, "May the Lord, who heedeth the sparrow's fall and protects ...
— A Certain Rich Man • William Allen White

... enough about the capital to keep her. She allowed herself to be driven about the town, on pretence of seeing churches and galleries, but in reality she saw very little of either. She was preoccupied with her own thoughts and subject to fits of abstraction. Most things seemed to her intensely dull, and the unhappy guide who had been selected to accompany her on her excursions, wasted his learning upon her on the first morning, and subsequently exhausted the ...
— Don Orsino • F. Marion Crawford

... deep Abstraction, sure concomitant of love. Now, could I see his busy fancy's painting, How should I blush to ...
— The Love-Chase • James Sheridan Knowles

... the most mortal maid of warmest flesh and blood become an abstraction to her lover—sometimes shrink to the significance of one more flower, and sometimes expand to the significance of a microcosm, a firmament ...
— The Worshipper of the Image • Richard Le Gallienne

... really studying their habits, it is easy to see that in sketches of this order, (whether libellous amongst mob-orators, or serious in novels,) the pretended portrait has been founded on a vague romantic abstraction of what may be supposed peculiar to the condition of a patrician order under all political circumstances. Haughtiness, exclusiveness, indolence, and luxury, compose the romantic type which the delineator figures to his mind; and at length it becomes evident to any man, who has ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine—Vol. 54, No. 333, July 1843 • Various

... of his son first touched the shore, and stand there for hours, looking out over the broad sea, his eyes shaded from the rays of the sun by his bony red hand, as if he expected the return of the lost one. During these fits of abstraction Nep would stretch himself along the beach at the fisherman's feet, his head sunk between his fore-paws, as motionless as the statue of a dog cut out of stone. The moment the old man dropped the raised hand from his face, Nep would leap to his ...
— Flora Lyndsay - or, Passages in an Eventful Life • Susan Moodie

... was perfectly correct. Hanson took his way slowly and with apparent abstraction in the direction of the Gallito home, and it was not until he was at the very gate that he paused and looked up with a start of ...
— The Black Pearl • Mrs. Wilson Woodrow

... thoughts concerning the inception and manner of operation of this project Chan Hung began to retrace his steps towards the Yamen, failing to observe in his benevolent abstraction of mind, that the unaffectedly depraved person Ming-hi was stretching out his feet towards him and indulging in every other form of low-minded ...
— The Wallet of Kai Lung • Ernest Bramah

... struggles which this chapter is forced to record. However, it could not have been all due to my health, for as my wise little notebook sententiously remarked, "In his own way each man must struggle, lest the moral law become a far-off abstraction utterly separated from his ...
— Twenty Years At Hull House • Jane Addams

... we had conferred on them, as usual, the names of savages and cannibals, they were still human beings; they were our neighbours, to be treated with mercy; and to seize their lands by force and to kill them was robbery and murder. The State is a mere abstraction, has neither body nor soul, and an abstraction cannot be sent either to heaven or hell. But each individual man will be rewarded according to his works, which will follow him. Because the State erected a flag on a bluff ...
— The Book of the Bush • George Dunderdale

... be remarked that the general laws of association prevail among these more intricate states of mind, in the same manner as among the simpler ones. A desire, an emotion, an idea of the higher order of abstraction, even our judgments and volitions, when they have become habitual, are called up by association, according to precisely the same ...
— A System Of Logic, Ratiocinative And Inductive • John Stuart Mill

... and, wishing to appear not to notice her abstraction, made some remark to Mademoiselle Bourienne and then again looked at the princess. She still sat motionless with a look of suffering on her gentle face. He suddenly felt sorry for her and was vaguely conscious that he might be ...
— War and Peace • Leo Tolstoy

... fireside, while Senta, lost in gloomy reverie, sits apart gazing at a mysterious picture on the wall, the portrait of a pale man clad in black, the hero of the mysterious legend of the Flying Dutchman. The girls rally Senta upon her abstraction, and as a reply to their idle prattle she sings them the ballad of the doomed mariner. Throughout the song her enthusiasm has been waxing, and at its close, like one inspired, she cries aloud that she will be the woman to save him, that through her the accursed wretch shall find ...
— The Opera - A Sketch of the Development of Opera. With full Descriptions - of all Works in the Modern Repertory • R.A. Streatfeild

... "The world is made up of individuals. What is called "society" is only a lot of individuals. Therefore the individual is the only real being and society a mere abstraction, a name. As an individual I know myself, but I know nothing of society; I know my own interests, but I know nothing of what you call the interests of society." On the other hand, the Socialist says that "no man liveth unto himself," to use a biblical phrase. He points out that in modern society ...
— The Common Sense of Socialism - A Series of Letters Addressed to Jonathan Edwards, of Pittsburg • John Spargo

... that might shake her faith as quickly as the physical eye closes at a threatened blow. Then, as she was of a poetic and ideal nature, entirely differing from the mass of those with whom she associated, she had formed that habit of abstraction and mental reverie which prevented her hearing or perceiving the true sense of a great deal that went on around her. The conversations that commonly were carried on in her presence had for her so little interest that she scarcely ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 9, No. 54, April, 1862 • Various

... years read his works with delight and instruction, and had the highest reverence for their author, which had grown up in my fancy into a kind of mysterious veneration, by figuring to myself a state of solemn abstraction, in which I supposed him to live in the immense metropolis of London. Mr Gentleman, a native of Ireland, who passed some years in Scotland as a player, and as an instructor in the English language, a man whose talents ...
— A Book of English Prose - Part II, Arranged for Secondary and High Schools • Percy Lubbock

... aroused from his fit of abstraction, laughed shortly, and held out to his friend the letter he had just received. It was from Mr. Taine. Enclosed was the millionaire's check. The letter was a formal business note; the check was for an amount that drew a low whistle from ...
— The Eyes of the World • Harold Bell Wright

... from his abstraction, and was listening to the dialogue, felt a new rush of the vague half-formed ideas about Tessa, which had passed through his mind the evening before: if Monna Ghita were really taken out of the way, it would be easier for him to see Tessa ...
— Romola • George Eliot

... at the interest he himself came to feel in these conversations. While endeavouring to open his son's mind he opened his own, and although when Edgar was not present he pursued his researches as assiduously as before, he was no longer lost in fits of abstraction, and would even occasionally walk down to the village when Edgar went to school in order to continue the conversation upon which they were engaged. Edgar on his part soon ceased to regard his father as a stranger, and his admiration for ...
— A March on London • G. A. Henty

... intelligence be once more subjected to his deliberate observation and intuition; by this process the external and internal world are doubled in their intrinsic ideal, and give birth to analysis and abstraction, that is, to the specification and generalization of the ...
— Myth and Science - An Essay • Tito Vignoli

... keenly from the north-east, accompanied with a violent shower of sleet and rain; yet such was the abstraction of his mind, that he hardly observed its bitterness, but walked on, careless whither his feet led him, until he stopped opposite St. ...
— Thaddeus of Warsaw • Jane Porter

... break connection with the past; I am not one of those who wish to change for the mere sake of variety. The only men who do that are the men who want to forget something, the men who filled yesterday with something they would rather not recollect to-day, and so go about seeking diversion, seeking abstraction in something that will blot out recollection, or seeking to put something into them which will blot out all recollection. Change is not worth while unless it is improvement. If I move out of my present house because ...
— The New Freedom - A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People • Woodrow Wilson

... the man, waking out of his abstraction with a start and resuming his working manner. "The best bitter in the market." He alluded to it in the singular. "Like to look at it? No trouble to show goods, as the fellah says," he went on ...
— Main-Travelled Roads • Hamlin Garland

... preparatory to putting the first question, like an epicure sucking a ripe fruit. And when at length he opened it, amid the general silence, it was to carry the discussion at once up to such heights of abstraction that a good number of the audience, not understanding a word of it, ...
— Serge Panine • Georges Ohnet

... the vision of an individual soul, as we see the vision of an individual countenance. We can describe both, and can let a stranger into our knowledge. But how tell in words, so pure, so fine, so ideal an abstraction as Hamlet? We can, indeed, figure to ourselves generally his princely form, that outshone all others in manly beauty, and adorn it with the consummation of all liberal accomplishment. We can behold in every look, every gesture, ...
— Characteristics of Women - Moral, Poetical, and Historical • Anna Jameson

... and, with the taxman's ink horn at his button-hole, gives at every door lessons that sink into the heart of the scholar. Public opinion, which, in the good old days "when George the Third was king," was little more than an abstraction—a thing talked of, not acknowledged—is now a tangible presence. The said public opinion is now formed of hundreds of thousands whose existence, save in the books of the Exchequer, was scarcely admitted by any reigning minister. Sir ROBERT PEEL has now to give in his reckoning ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, Complete • Various

... as an ideal type, was productive of very dead and lifeless work. No account was taken of the variety from a common type necessary in the most perfect work, if life and individual interest are not to be lost, and the thing is not to become a dead abstraction. But the danger is rather the other way at the moment. Artists revel in the oddest of individual forms, and the type idea is flouted on all hands. An anarchy of individualism is upon us, and the vitality ...
— The Practice and Science Of Drawing • Harold Speed

... were in the instance of the prince of darkness we are not told; and thus the question of the origin of evil seems to be insoluble by us. But the identification of it with the personal defection of Satan is far more intelligible and reasonable than the attempt to treat it as a metaphysical abstraction. All the representations of the Bible on the subject are instinct with the awful personality of the devil. He is our "adversary;" he is "the accuser;" he is "the God of this world;" he is "the prince of the power of the ...
— The Wesleyan Methodist Pulpit in Malvern • Knowles King

... —— was, in England. If you could but see him here! If you could only have seen him when he called on us the other day,—feigning abstraction in the dreadful pressure of affairs of state; rubbing his forehead as one who was aweary of the world; and exhibiting a sublime caricature of Lord Burleigh. He is the only thoroughly unreal man I have seen on this side the ocean. Heaven help the President! All parties are ...
— The Life of Charles Dickens, Vol. I-III, Complete • John Forster

... with me about it, and my disappointment at the performance was all the greater when I found the well-known waltz measure adopted again. When I called him to account about it he excused himself with a smile, saying that he had been seized with a fit of temporary abstraction just at the beginning of the phrase in question, which had made him forget his promise. For inaugurating these concerts, which, as a matter of fact, only lasted for two seasons, Hiller was given a banquet, which I also ...
— My Life, Volume I • Richard Wagner

... effect that communal feeling was killed and the Spanish genius forced to ingrow into the mystical realm where every ego expanded itself into the solitude of God. The eighteenth century reduced God to an abstraction, and the nineteenth brought pity and the mad hope of righting the wrongs of society. The Spaniard, like his own Don Quixote, mounted the warhorse of his idealism and set out to free the oppressed, alone. As a logical conclusion we have the anarchist who threw a bomb into the Lyceum Theatre in ...
— Rosinante to the Road Again • John Dos Passos

... after the interval of abstraction there were fine lines of harassment between his eyes, and his words came as if speech were ...
— The Taming of Red Butte Western • Francis Lynde

... fire-eaters of the land. No man could accuse him of being remiss in any duty which he owed his State or section. But all that he insisted was past. There was no longer any distinct sectional interest or principle to be maintained. The sword had decided that, whether right or wrong as an abstraction, the doctrine of secession should never be practically asserted in the government. The result of the struggle had been to establish, beyond a peradventure, what had before been an unsettled question: that ...
— Bricks Without Straw • Albion W. Tourgee

... not for an Old World ideal, not for an abstraction, not for a philosophical revolution. Broad and generous as are our sympathies, widely scattered in origin as are our people, keenly as we feel the call of kinship, the thrill of sympathy with the stricken nations across the Atlantic, ...
— The Frontier in American History • Frederick Jackson Turner

... disappointment, nor withered by satiety.' When he had uttered these reflections with the utmost vehemence and agitation, his face was again obscured by gloom and despair; his posture was again fixed; and he was falling back into his former state of silent abstraction, when he was suddenly roused by the appearance of the Genius, the sincerity of whose friendship he ...
— Almoran and Hamet • John Hawkesworth

... a trio—one, two young men in black, who skirmished on either side of a very sedate girl in white; one, two girls who shoved one another, and giggled, walking in step three yards behind another young man with his hat on one side, who gloried in being talked at and pretended to be rapt in abstraction. Then some children came; then a family—papa walking severely apart in a silk hat, and mamma, stout and scarlet-faced, in the midst of the throng. Finally there came along a very old Darby and Joan, who with many Yorkshire ejaculations helped one another over the stile, ...
— None Other Gods • Robert Hugh Benson

... his mind, that his face—(the index of that excellent part of him)—has, for the moment, undergone a complete change. Any ordinary acquaintance now entering the professor's rooms (and those acquaintances might be whittled down to quite a little few), would hardly have known him. For the abstraction that, as a rule, characterizes his features—the way he has of looking at you, as if he doesn't see you, that harasses the simple, and enrages the others—is all gone! Not a trace of it remains. It has given place to ...
— A Little Rebel - A Novel • Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

... themselves out of sight in the cavernous sockets, too dry for tears. These withdrawing fits were not uncommon, but they had become frequent this summer, and at the reception he had mechanically passed the welcome and given the hand-shake. But then the abstraction became so dense that he let an old friend stand before him without a glance, much less the usual hearty greeting expected. The newcomer, alarmed, ventured to arouse him. He shook off his absence of mind, seized the hand proffered him, and, while grasping it, exclaimed as though no others were ...
— The Lincoln Story Book • Henry L. Williams

... first part of Barker's speech completely, in her fit of abstraction, had some vague idea that he was asking her advice about ...
— Doctor Claudius, A True Story • F. Marion Crawford

... his hands behind his back, and his head inclining downward. Every one he met made way for him, as a matter of course. In that mood, he moved among the throng of a ship of war as a man tabooed. Even Winchester respected his commander's abstraction, although he had a serious request to make, which it is time ...
— The Wing-and-Wing - Le Feu-Follet • J. Fenimore Cooper

... spirit of evil justifying an eternal antagonism to the Creator from the standpoint of a superior morality, may, perhaps, be traced to a Manichean source, but it has been touched with a new emotion. Milton's devil is an abstraction ...
— The Works of Lord Byron - Poetry, Volume V. • Lord Byron

... Marcia found herself alone with strange thoughts and wishes; unheard-of yearnings which floated out of the spacious twentieth-century drawing-room, up the misty deeps of the air, and Eastward to far olive-groves in Arcady which she had seen only in her dreams. She had entered the room in abstraction, turned off the glaring chandeliers, and now reclined on a soft divan by a solitary lamp which shed over the reading table a green glow as soothing and delicious as moonlight through the foliage about an antique shrine. Attired simply, in a low-cut ...
— Writings in the United Amateur, 1915-1922 • Howard Phillips Lovecraft

... ever-present jealousy and apprehension rising, was carried from her moorings. She recalled the evidences of "duty" in Northrup's attitude toward her since his return from King's Forest; his abstraction and periods of ...
— At the Crossroads • Harriet T. Comstock

... cool," he said to himself, and he thrust his arm down farther, when his fingers came in contact with something rough, which started away, making the water swirl in a tremendous eddy, and caused the sudden abstraction of the lad's arm, but not so quickly that he did not feel a sharp pang, and a tiny fish dropped from the skin on to the ...
— Rob Harlow's Adventures - A Story of the Grand Chaco • George Manville Fenn

... his ladylove and in a fit of abstraction, looking about for a utensil to push the tobacco down in his pipe, chanced upon the lady's little finger, the law of gravitation was abrogated at once, and Newton and his pipe were sent, like ...
— Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great, Volume 5 (of 14) • Elbert Hubbard

... I believe I rather like abstruse questions. You know Putney and I have discussed a great many. But just what do you mean by this particular abstraction?" ...
— Annie Kilburn - A Novel • W. D. Howells

... equation, yet they are subject to it. They cannot conceive of that equation, because of course it has no existence save as a law of their being. It exists only for them; they, only by it. But there it is—a perfect, potent, divine abstraction. ...
— Where the Blue Begins • Christopher Morley

... on my mind than the thrusting of an advertisement upon me. Indeed, I supposed it was an advertisement, and I only wonder that I retained it in my hand at all. But that I did do so, and that, in a moment of abstraction, I went so far as to pin it to my cushion, is evident from the fact that a vague memory remains in my mind of having read this recipe which you see printed on the reverse ...
— Room Number 3 - and Other Detective Stories • Anna Katharine Green

... reflections, he scarcely heard the enthusiastic praises Lorimer was diplomatically bestowing on the bonde's wine. He hardly felt its mellow flavor on his own palate, though it was in truth delicious, and fit for the table of a monarch. Gueldmar noticed the young baronet's abstraction, and ...
— Thelma • Marie Corelli

... As the firelight fell on his ingenuous countenance the broker observed with some concern that this queue was formed entirely of a kind of tobacco known as pigtail or twist. Its effect, the broker remarked, was much heightened when in a moment of thoughtful abstraction the apparition bit off a portion of it and rolled it as a quid into the ...
— The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Tales • Bret Harte

... look of abstraction in her eyes, her fingers busy with the crumbs on the cloth, "all ...
— The Bondboy • George W. (George Washington) Ogden

... Tacitus, sup on a phrase of Thucydides, spend their life in brushing the dust from library shelves, in keeping guard over a commonplace book, or a papyrus, are all predestined. So great is their abstraction or their ecstasy, that nothing that goes on around them strikes their attention. Their unhappiness is consummated; in full light of noon they scarcely even perceive it. Oh happy men! a thousand ...
— The Physiology of Marriage, Part I. • Honore de Balzac

... shop door and pushed in his grey, gaunt face, he looked around as though wondering in a half-dreamy, half-detached abstraction where some object he had expected to see had gone. At length his eyes wandered to the Burman, who sat on the ground eyeing him with a curiously intent and ...
— The Pointing Man - A Burmese Mystery • Marjorie Douie

... only a flash in the pan. After its flare the party dragged. Curiosity preoccupied some; uneasiness communicated itself to others. And the frank abstraction of Ruth and Bob had a depressing effect upon ...
— The Innocent Adventuress • Mary Hastings Bradley

... a man who, by abstraction of all sensuous influences, and by child-like submission to the will of God, has made himself a partaker of the heavenly intelligence, becomes thereby possessed of the philosopher's stone. He is never at a loss. All creatures on earth and powers in heaven are submissive to ...
— Primitive Psycho-Therapy and Quackery • Robert Means Lawrence

... about hampered with a doubt; yet, were one to know, (as one has often known,—too often, alas!) that the arrow was rankling in a friend's heart,—who by consequence shunned the society of his fellows, and walked in moody abstraction,—looking as if life had lost its charm, and as if nothing on the earth's surface were any longer to him a joy;—would one not be the first to go after such a sufferer; and seek whether a firm hand and steady eye might not avail to extract the poisoned shaft? If that might not be, ...
— Inspiration and Interpretation - Seven Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford • John Burgon

... influence which in spite of the stubborn understanding masters the mind,—sending it back to days long past, when care was but a dream, and its most serious business a childish frolic? But we no longer think of childhood as the past, still less as an abstraction; we see it embodied before us, in all its mirth and fun and glee; and the grave man becomes again a child, to feel as a child, and to follow the little enchanter through all his wiles and never-ending ...
— Lectures on Art • Washington Allston

... blonde? The sensuous face of George IV. and the tragic one of Charles I., in the ever recurring Vandyke, with Sheridan's confident, handsome and genial physiognomy, seem grouped to make more elevated, by comparison, the noble abstraction of Flaxman. Talleyrand resembles a keen, selfish, humorous and gentlemanly man of the world, in an unexceptionable white wig. Richelieu is piquant and Madame de Stael impassioned and Amazonian. What decadence even in the warlike notabilities is ...
— Gifts of Genius - A Miscellany of Prose and Poetry by American Authors • Various

... young and inexperienced, it was impossible to know Andrew Henderson and not to feel that some strange peculiarity set him apart from other men. In his ascetic face, in his large, light-blue eyes, in his extraordinary air of abstraction and aloofness from mundane things, there was something that fascinated and repelled; and with a wondering interest the boy studied these things, trying in his unformed way to reconcile them with his ...
— The Mystics - A Novel • Katherine Cecil Thurston

... and don't care," said Jeekie; "no more good to us. Can go and see how Big Bonsa feel, if he like," and stretching out his big hand as though in a moment of abstraction, he removed the costly necklaces from their guide's neck and thrust them into the pouch he wore. Also he picked up the gilded linen mask which Alan had removed from his head and placed it in the same receptacle, remarking, that he "always taught that it wicked to waste anything when so many ...
— The Yellow God - An Idol of Africa • H. Rider Haggard

... character, excel in graphic and dramatic effect applied to narrative and to rhetorical exhibition, and beyond any other mode of description give the force of reality. Speech, when highly cultivated, is better adapted to generalization and abstraction; therefore to logic and metaphysics. The latter must ever henceforth, be the superior in formulating thoughts. Some of the enthusiasts in signs have contended that this unfavorable distinction is not from any inherent incapability, but because their employment ...
— Sign Language Among North American Indians Compared With That Among Other Peoples And Deaf-Mutes • Garrick Mallery

... occurred in a fortnight, perhaps never. But he had done it with an assurance almost, if not quite, hypnotic, and he had removed his hand—a move, she recognized, which offered more opportunities for bungling than the initial venture—with the exact degree of insouciance, of abstraction, but at the same time not without a slight lighting of the eyes expressive alike of humility and gratitude. Lurking in her mind was an irritation over the position in which she had been placed, and her only solace was the ...
— Prince or Chauffeur? - A Story of Newport • Lawrence Perry

... the scene. Never had a prisoner been more self-contained, or rejected more completely all those ministrations of humanity which relieve the horrible isolation of the condemned cell. Grassette's isolation was complete. He lived in a dream, did what little there was to do in a dark abstraction, and sat hour after hour, as he was sitting now, piercing, with a brain at once benumbed to all outer things and afire with inward things, those realms of memory which are infinite in a life ...
— Northern Lights • Gilbert Parker

... acquaintance by a motive of unusual urgency. The notion, however, did but flash and flicker out. He had no mental picture of the girl to fix her within his view; he knew not, in fact, whether she was girl or woman. She was to him just an abstraction, and Drake was seldom inclined for the study of abstractions. His curiosity might, perhaps, have been stronger had Mallinson related to him the way in which he had been received at the house of the Le Mesuriers after his dinner with Drake. When he arrived ...
— The Philanderers • A.E.W. Mason

... of the divinity of the heavenly bodies which was common to the Academics, Peripatetics, and Stoics is really in principle an acknowledgement of the popular faith, whose conception of the gods was actually borrowed and applied, not to some philosophical abstraction, but to individual and concrete natural objects. The anthropomorphic gods of the Epicureans point in the same direction. In spite of their profound difference from the beings that were worshipped and believed in by ...
— Atheism in Pagan Antiquity • A. B. Drachmann

... long gallery of Browning's women—a gallery of superbly-drawn portraits, of noble and striking and always intensely human women, unparalleled except in Shakspere. Pauline, of course, exists only as an abstraction, and Porphyria is in no exact sense a portrait from the life. Yet Michal can be revealed only to the sympathetic eye, for she is not drawn, but again and again suddenly silhouetted. We see her in profile always: but when she exclaims at the last, "I ever did believe," ...
— Life of Robert Browning • William Sharp

... phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be shadowed forth, although feebly, in words. A small picture presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without interruption or device. Certain accessory points of ...
— The Works of Edgar Allan Poe - Volume 2 (of 5) of the Raven Edition • Edgar Allan Poe

... vacantly at that relic of the Past, and that people were noting my abstraction, I hastily gathered myself together and crossing the street to our beautiful Union Station, I started on my journey. In a magnificent chair car, luxuriously furnished and upholstered, a liveried ...
— A Pioneer Railway of the West • Maude Ward Lafferty

... was jammed with old furniture, stripped from the lower floor to make room for the crowd. He had to get down on his knees and crawl under a table to reach his pipe. But he achieved it finally, still with an air of abstraction, and lighted it. Then, as there was no place to sit down, he stood in the center of the little room ...
— Dangerous Days • Mary Roberts Rinehart

... of our intellect is such that ideas are said to spring by abstraction from observations, so that the latter are in existence before the former. If this is really what takes place, as is the case with a man who has merely his own experience as his teacher and book, he knows quite well which ...
— Essays of Schopenhauer • Arthur Schopenhauer

... employed by these apologists is, that the 'Proviso,' or a law prohibiting slavery in these Territories, is unnecessary; that it is an abstraction—a 'firebrand' employed by demagogues and factionists to kindle strife in the Democratic party; that the Territories are now free, and that they will so continue, unless an act of Congress is passed establishing slavery. It is impossible to avoid asking ourselves why, ...
— Cleveland Past and Present - Its Representative Men, etc. • Maurice Joblin

... fulfilling, as it were, the function of Matter, it would be unreasonable not to recognize within us the existence of a gigantic power, the effects of which are so incommensurable that the known generations of men have never yet been able to classify them. I do not speak of man's faculty of abstraction, of constraining Nature to confine itself within the Word,—a gigantic act on which the common mind reflects as little as it does on the nature of Motion, but which, nevertheless, has led the Indian theosophists to explain creation by a word to which they give an inverse power. The smallest ...
— Seraphita • Honore de Balzac

... innumerable Instances of this nature in several Authors, both Antient and Modern, Sacred and Profane. Whether such dark Presages, such Visions of the Night proceed from any latent Power in the Soul, during this her state of Abstraction, or from any Communication with the Supreme Being, or from any operation of Subordinate Spirits, has been a great Dispute among the Learned; the matter of Fact is, I think, incontestable, and has been looked upon as such by the greatest Writers, who have been never suspected ...
— The Spectator, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 - With Translations and Index for the Series • Joseph Addison and Richard Steele

... question was thinking thoughts as widely diverse from these attributed to him as one could easily imagine. Of himself, and his position, scarcely at all. And when he thought, he smiled; but the gravity, the abstraction into which he repeatedly lapsed, seemed to say for him that freedom was to him more than he knew what to do with. No volubility of joy, no laughter, no manifested exultation in deliverance from bondage: 't was a rare case; must ...
— The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 13, No. 77, March, 1864 • Various

... hardly make out what had become of it, in such utter confusion were all the accounts, both personal and official. Mr. Johnson was hardly restrained by his compassion for the orphan from throwing up the executorship in disgust. Mr. Ness roused himself from his scholarlike abstraction to labour at the examination of books, parchments, and papers, for Ellinor's sake. Sir Frank Holster professed himself only a ...
— A Dark Night's Work • Elizabeth Gaskell

... and the monks of the Oriental Church," says the complacent philosopher of Lausanne, "were alike persuaded that in total abstraction of the mind and body, the purer spirit may ascend to the enjoyment and vision of the Deity. The opinions and practices of the monasteries of Mount Athos will be best represented in the words of an abbot who flourished in the eleventh century. 'When thou art alone in thy ...
— The International Monthly Magazine - Volume V - No II • Various

... tenure-contract. Fitch, and the two men from the Institute of Psionics and Parapsychology were interested in him as a source of study-material. Dacre resented a slur upon his son; he and the others were interested in Blanley College as an institution, almost an abstraction. And the major in mufti was probably worrying about the consequences to military security of having a prophet at large. Then a hand gripped his shoulder, and a voice ...
— The Edge of the Knife • Henry Beam Piper

... who seemed to have forgotten her in his other abstraction of adventure, now turned quickly, with devoted eyes and ...
— Openings in the Old Trail • Bret Harte

... pleased, to this learned dissertation. For he is rejoiced to perceive, that the thoughts of his young companion are beginning to find some abstraction and forgetfulness, of that upon which they have been so long sadly dwelling. Cypriano, too, appears to take an interest in the subject of discourse; and to encourage it the gaucho ...
— Gaspar the Gaucho - A Story of the Gran Chaco • Mayne Reid

... faint, crags wound me, from crag unto crag re- Bounding, or, wide in the void, I die ten deaths ere the end, I Yet shall plant firm foot on the broad lofty spaces I quit, shall Feel underneath me again the great massy strengths of abstraction, Look yet abroad from the height o'er the sea whose ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 4, February, 1858 • Various

... creation of railways, so journalism tends more and more to divert information from the channel of conversation into the channel of the Press; no one is satisfied with a more circumscribed audience than that very indeterminate abstraction "the public," and men find a vent for their opinions not in talk, but in "copy." We read the Athenaeum askance at the tea-table, and take notes from the Philosophical Journal at a soiree; we invite our friends that we may thrust a book into their hands, and presuppose an exclusive desire ...
— The Essays of "George Eliot" - Complete • George Eliot

... suddenly, as if arrested by an invisible arm. Herself and those around her were motionless. The music ceased. The assembly was silent. Not a breath was to be heard, and the queen stood with her eyes fixed on the ground in deep abstraction. On a sudden she started from her reverie with the fury of one inspired, and looked wildly around her. "A king is among us," she exclaimed, taking her crown from her head, and laying it at the feet of the prince. Every one present cast their eyes upon him, and doubted for ...
— The Works of Frederich Schiller in English • Frederich Schiller

... her aunt slyly exchanged smiles, which Darrell in his momentary abstraction failed to observe. They chatted pleasantly for a few moments, but underneath the light words and manner was a sadness that could not be disguised, and it was with a still heavier heart that Darrell returned to his work after Kate and her aunt ...
— At the Time Appointed • A. Maynard Barbour

... Sally's, however, was a vague abstraction of an indistinct future. Perhaps we should say had been, and admit that since her own marriage Mrs. Fenwick had begun to be more distinctly aware that her little daughter was now within a negligible period of the age when her own tree of happiness ...
— Somehow Good • William de Morgan

... neighbor, so surely did his prediction imply a change in the material organization of society which should fit it to be the container of this heavenly spirit. Did he think to "put new wine into old bottles"? Must not the spirit of Christianity create unto itself a body? It is a fruitless abstraction until it does. And this, if we read the signs aright, is the demand of this age. This is the tendency of all social movements. The material basis of our life, our social and industrial system, is entirely incompatible with the ...
— Brook Farm • John Thomas Codman

... believed himself to be under the influence of magic charms. He was haunted by a sprite, who stole his books and flung his MSS. about the room. A good genius, in the form of a handsome youth, appeared and conversed with him. He lost himself for hours together in abstraction, talking aloud, staring into vacancy, and expressing surprise that other people could not see the phantoms which surrounded him. He complained that his melancholy passed at moments into delirium (which he called frenesia), after which he suffered from loss of memory ...
— Renaissance in Italy, Volumes 1 and 2 - The Catholic Reaction • John Addington Symonds

... attended that night at the Ellistons', with Uncle Dan and Aunt Constance Elliston at the head and foot of the table, and across from him the smiling face of Agnes. He was so good to look at that Agnes was content just to watch him, but Aunt Constance noted his abstraction ...
— The Making of Bobby Burnit - Being a Record of the Adventures of a Live American Young Man • George Randolph Chester

... was happy in her way. His dark, mysterious face with its background of abstraction, his unusual life, distinguished presence, and the fact that people of great note sought his conversation, all strengthened the bonds, and deepened her imagination; and imagination is at the root of much that passes for love. Gaston was approached at Lord Dargan's house by ...
— The Judgment House • Gilbert Parker

... of one who knows that his words are of interest, the driver began to look around him with an air of abstraction and ...
— The Cabman's Story - The Mysteries of a London 'Growler' • Arthur Conan Doyle

... uniform to the effect that literary men, and special scholars, as well as the collectors of rare books, are among those who watch the opportunity to purloin what they wish to save themselves the cost of buying. Sometimes, you may find your most valuable work on coins mutilated by the abstraction of a plate, carried off by some student of numismatics. Sometimes, you may discover a fine picture or portrait abstracted from a book by some lover of art or collector of portraits. Again, you may be horrified by finding ...
— A Book for All Readers • Ainsworth Rand Spofford

... destructible and thou art indestructible. Thou art without beginning and thou art without end. Thou art the first and the foremost of Beings. O foremost of righteous persons, tell me the cause of this (Yoga) abstraction. I solicit thy favour, and am thy devoted worshipper, and bow to thee, bending my head." Thus addressed, the illustrious younger brother of Vasava, recalling his mind, understanding, and the senses to their usual sphere, said these ...
— The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, Volume 3 - Books 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 • Unknown

... chattels personal?" Can all this force you to put the cap upon the climax—to clinch the nail by doing that, without which nothing in the work of slave-making would be attempted? The slaveholder is the soul of the whole system. Without him, the chattel principle is a lifeless abstraction. Without him, charters, and markets, and laws, and testaments, are empty names. And does he think to escape responsibility? Why, kidnappers, and soul-drivers, and law-makers, are nothing but his agents. He is the guilty principal. Let him look ...
— The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus • American Anti-Slavery Society

... the whole thing was a pre-arranged episode, intended to dazzle me, though what earthly object he could have in taking me in was past my comprehension. When I looked at him he had finished reading the note, and his eyes had assumed the vacant, lack-lustre expression which showed mental abstraction. ...
— A Study In Scarlet • Arthur Conan Doyle

... said that the negation of the supernatural is a dogma with every cultivated intelligence. God, in short, has faded into a metaphysical abstraction. The little ghosts vanished long ago, and now the Great Ghost is melting into thin air. Thousands of people have lost all belief in his existence. They use his name, and take it in vain; for when questioned, they merely stand up for "a sort of a something." The ...
— Flowers of Freethought - (Second Series) • George W. Foote

... deny them as we can deny the existence of a God. Where is it? Where is it not? Whence comes it? What is its source? What is its end? It surrounds us, it intrudes upon us, and yet escapes us. It is evident as a fact, obscure as an abstraction; it is at once effect and cause. It requires space, even as we, and what is space? Movement alone recalls it to us; without movement, space is but an empty meaningless word. Like space, like creation, like the infinite, ...
— The Magic Skin • Honore de Balzac

... imperfectly appreciated by the British student. See also Walter Bagehot's Economic Studies.] and in this Utopia deserves perhaps a word or so more. I write with the utmost diffidence, because upon earth economic science has been raised to a very high level of tortuous abstraction by the industry of its professors, and I can claim neither a patient student's intimacy with their productions nor—what is more serious—anything but the most generalised knowledge of what their Utopian equivalents have achieved. The ...
— A Modern Utopia • H. G. Wells

... absurd villa, and the former has taken to smoking. Otherwise he is unchanged—except, perhaps, there are moments when, alert and full of feminine unselfishness as the Major is by nature, he falls into a trance of abstraction. Then his wife recognizes with a concealed smile, by the blind look in his blue eyes, that he is wondering what were the title-deeds, and why he was not allowed to mention jackals. But, like so many old soldiers, Brown is religious, and believes that he will realize ...
— The Club of Queer Trades • G. K. Chesterton

... leaned forward, fixing his eyes on her, but she did not meet them. She replaced her watch in her belt with a successful assumption of abstraction, but she was full of doubt as to how he would take this first proposition. The next instant the bench trembled under the force with which he had dropped back ...
— Many Kingdoms • Elizabeth Jordan

... cheerfully of his new power-boat, Bannerman attending to the inconsequent details with an air of abstraction. Once or twice he appeared about to interrupt, but changed his mind: but because his features were so wholly infantile and open and candid, the time came when Maitland could no longer ignore his ...
— The Brass Bowl • Louis Joseph Vance

... himself by a fig tree, lays his left leg across his right thigh, turns the sole of his foot outwards and assumes one of the postures in which abstraction is practised. As he meditates he appears lovelier than ever. His eyes flash. The four arms of Vishnu spring from his body. He wears his crown, his sacred thread and garland of flowers. As he sits, glorious ...
— The Loves of Krishna in Indian Painting and Poetry • W. G. Archer

... but consider that green of a moderate brightness corresponds less with a green of less brightness than with a blue of the same brightness. In order to bring all greens together the Chukches thus require to learn a new abstraction". Of 300 persons who were examined, 273 had a fully developed colour-sense, nine were completely colour-blind, and eighteen incompletely colour-blind, or ...
— The Voyage of the Vega round Asia and Europe, Volume I and Volume II • A.E. Nordenskieold

... true business of literature is with narrative; in reasoned narrative, and there alone, that art enjoys all its advantages, and suffers least from its defects. Dry precept and disembodied disquisition, as they can only be read with an effort of abstraction, can never convey a perfectly complete or a perfectly natural impression. Truth, even in literature, must be clothed with flesh and blood, or it cannot tell its whole story to the reader. Hence the effect of anecdote on simple minds; and hence good biographies and works of high, ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 3 (of 25) • Robert Louis Stevenson

... end of the bar near the door, his liquor in his hand, lounging in his careless attitude of abstraction. But there was not a lax fiber in his body; every faculty was alert, every nerve set for any sudden development. The scene before him was disgusting, rather than diverting, in its squalid imitation ...
— The Duke Of Chimney Butte • G. W. Ogden

... his limbs shook; he sank once more on his seat, and closed his eyes: muttering, for the first time, perhaps, since his childhood, words of penitence and prayer. He was roused from this bitter self-abstraction by a deep groan. It seemed to come from the bed. Did his ears deceive him? Had the dead found a voice? He started up in an agony of dread, and saw opposite to him the livid countenance of Philip Morton: the ...
— Night and Morning, Complete • Edward Bulwer-Lytton

... do in these short, dismal days, and long, shivering nights? Books? Newspapers? We had both, and tired of them. The power of abstraction necessary for the enjoyment of books was no longer at our command. We could not abstract ourselves from our own thoughts to enter into the political controversies of history, or the fictitious sorrows of the novel or romance. The newspaper had some attraction at first. We looked out for ...
— Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 3, July, 1851 • Various

... is not something which subsists of itself, or which inheres in things as an objective determination, and therefore, remains, when abstraction is made of the subjective conditions of the intuition of things. For in the former case it would be something real, yet without presenting to any power of perception any real object. In the latter case, as an order of determination ...
— The End of Time • Wallace West

... that K'ung K'ung, the Taoist, in consequence of his perception, (in his state of) abstraction, of passion, the generation, from this passion, of voluptuousness, the transmission of this voluptuousness into passion, and the apprehension, by means of passion, of its unreality, forthwith altered his name for that of "Ch'ing Tseng" ...
— Hung Lou Meng, Book I • Cao Xueqin

... spring from a wrong conception of the nature of the human mind. We are too apt to believe in a kind of abstraction called "general ability," which is expected to exhibit itself under any and every condition. According to this doctrine, if a man is clever at one thing or successful under one set of circumstances, he must be equally clever at everything and equally successful under ...
— Success (Second Edition) • Max Aitken Beaverbrook

... substance but one the ocean continually gives up again more or less of the salts supplied to it by the rivers. The one exception is the element sodium. The great solubility of its salts has protected it from abstraction, and it has gone on collecting during geological time, practically in its entirety. This gives us the clue to the denudative history of ...
— The Birth-Time of the World and Other Scientific Essays • J. (John) Joly

... up at us from his momentary abstraction, "for the first part of General Clinton's letter I must be brief with you and very frank. There are no recruits to be had in this vicinity for Colonel Morgan's Rifles. Riflemen are of the elite; and our best characters and best shots are all enlisted—or dead or in prison——" He made a ...
— The Hidden Children • Robert W. Chambers

... flow came the ebb. Why had he chosen her? Was it merely as an abstraction—the embodiment of an ideal, a survival from a host of pleasant memories, and as a mother for his child, who needed care which no one else could give, and as a helpmate in carrying out his schemes of benevolence? Were these his only ...
— The Colonel's Dream • Charles W. Chesnutt

... absent between each trip—which period was necessarily spent by those in the wreck in a state of fearful inactivity—abundant opportunity was afforded for collecting the sentiments of many of the unhappy men around me; some of whom, after remaining perhaps for a while in silent abstraction, would suddenly burst forth, as if awakened from some terrible dream to a still more frightful reality, into a long train of loud and desponding lamentation, that gradually ...
— The Loss of the Kent, East Indiaman, in the Bay of Biscay - Narrated in a Letter to a Friend • Duncan McGregor

... beginning to admire the friend. He was too small for dignity, and Nadie's inspired comparison of his long black hair to "serpents noirs" left her unimpressed. Moreover she thought she detected about him a personal odor which was neither that of sanctity nor any other abstraction. It took time and conversation and some acquaintance with values as they obtain at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and the knowledge of what it meant to be "selling," to lift Monsieur Vambery to his proper ...
— A Daughter of To-Day • Sara Jeannette Duncan (aka Mrs. Everard Cotes)

... mentally exclaim, 'Is that my Patron! THAT distinguished man!' and would be covered with confusion. Ah! never was the Frenchman so deceived. As our friend the Cappuccino advanced, with folded arms, he looked straight into the visage of the little Frenchman, with a bland, serene, composed abstraction, not to be described. There was not the faintest trace of recognition or amusement on his features; not the smallest consciousness of bread and meat, wine, snuff, or cigars. 'C'est lui-meme,' I heard the little Frenchman say, in some doubt. Oh yes, it was ...
— Pictures from Italy • Charles Dickens

... In his amused abstraction—at the root of which lay the appetite of eighteen—he suddenly ran into a passer-by, who stumbled against a shop window with an exclamation of pain. The youth's attention was attracted ...
— The History of David Grieve • Mrs. Humphry Ward

... cold frosty air there is an immediate action of the visceral organs from pressure of blood on them, and not unfrequently a tendency to diarrhoea from temporary congestion of the digestive tract. Three factors are at work, in fact, whenever the low wave of temperature affects the animal body; abstraction of heat from the body, beyond what is natural; arrest of chemical action and of combustion; paralysis of the minute vessels exposed ...
— Scientific American Supplement, No. 829, November 21, 1891 • Various

... Persons sank into abstraction again. Gatewood waited, hoping that his case might be declined, yet ready to face any music started at his ...
— The Tracer of Lost Persons • Robert W. Chambers

... very pale, and she was most unusually quiet all that day, falling into fits of abstraction as if her thoughts were far away. She was more tender than ever with Lena, knowing now too well the trouble which was weighing upon the heart and spirits of the sensitive young sister, and secretly sharing it with her. Hour after hour she pondered upon ways and means for relieving ...
— Bessie Bradford's Prize • Joanna H. Mathews

... and is not a practically material one, and that any discussion of it could have no effect other than the mischievous one of dividing friends. As yet, whatever it may become, the question is bad as the basis of a controversy—a merely pernicious abstraction. We all agree that the seceded States, so called, are out of their proper practical relation with the Union, and that the sole object of the Government is to get them back into their proper practical relation. I believe it is easier to do this without deciding or even considering ...
— Twenty Years of Congress, Volume 2 (of 2) • James Gillespie Blaine

... hid in darkness, gloom in gloom, Next all was water, chaos indiscreet In which the One lay void, shrouded in nothingness, Then turning inward by self-developed force Of inner fervor and intense abstraction grew." ...
— Oriental Religions and Christianity • Frank F. Ellinwood

... provided by Christ himself in the establishment of a visible Church. And to make the Bible, apart from the truths, doctrines, and spiritual experiences contained therein, the subject of a special article of faith, I hold an unnecessary and useless abstraction, which in too many instances has the effect of substituting a barren acquiescence in the letter for the lively FAITH THAT COMETH BY HEARING; even as the hearing is productive of this faith, because ...
— Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit etc. • by Samuel Taylor Coleridge



Words linked to "Abstraction" :   right, quantity, preoccupancy, revery, group, psychological feature, otherworld, remotion, concept, painting, abstract, set, preoccupation, amount, communication, abstract entity, removal, generalisation, thing, absorption, theorization, absolute, teacher, relation, picture, conception, grouping, theorisation, construct, attribute, entity, measure, reverie, engrossment



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