In common with other sciences, economics makes use of " abstractions"; but if for some problems we employ symbolic processes of reasoning, we must keep clearly in view the limits of their significance, and neither endow the symbols with attributes they can never possess, nor lose sight of the realities behind them.
"the highest purest light, the gentle wind, the harmony of sounds, the voice of all the aeons, and the beauty of their forms," all these being treated as abstractions and personified.
When nominalism was revived in the 14th century by the English Franciscan, William of Occam, it gave evidence of a new tendency in thought, a distrust of abstractions and an impulse towards direct observation and inductive research, a tendency which had its fulfilment in the scientific movement of the Renaissance.
Seneca even made the discussion of such problems into a regular discipline, claiming that their concrete character gave an interest in morality to those who had no love for abstractions; while they prevented those who had from losing themselves in the clouds.
But this is precisely an instance of the hypostatization of abstractions in exposing which the chief strength and value of Nominalism lie.
The hypostatizing of abstractions is the error against which Occam is continually fighting.
It is a spirit which distrusts abstractions, which makes for direct observation, for inductive research.
In the course of his inquiries he also noticed that different bodies in equal masses require different amounts of heat to raise them to the same temperature, and so founded the doctrine of specific heats; he also showed that equal additions or abstractions of heat produced equal variations of bulk in the liquid of his thermometers.
As little is idealism responsible for any attempt to pass off logical abstractions for concrete reality.
The motive of some of the substitutions was to avoid the confusion which must have ensued from the duplication of previously existing native asterisms; thus, the Egyptian and Greek Lions were composed of totally different stars.: Abstractions in other cases replaced concrete objects, with the general result of effacing the distinctive character of the Greek zodiac as a " circle of living things."
He quickly became the acknowledged leader of the Romantic school whose impetuous litterateurs had begun to tire of the cold abstractions of Fichte.
He supposes first, that we falsely conclude from the sun being independent of each to being independent of all; secondly, that by " introjection " we falsely conclude that another's experience is in him and therefore one's own in oneself, while the sun remains outside; and thirdly, that by " reification " of abstractions, natural science having abstracted the object and psychology the subject, each falsely believes that its own abstract, the sun or the subject, is an independent thing.
Like Schleiermacher he combined with the keenest logical faculty an intensely religious spirit, while his philosophical tendencies were in sympathy rather with Hegel than with Schleiermacher, and theosophic mysticism was more congenial to him than the abstractions of Spinoza, to whom Schleiermacher owed so much.
A peculiarity of his thought was the realistic nature of his spiritualism: his abstractions are all real existences; his spiritual entities are real and corporeal; his truth is actual being.
We define essences of course in a sense, but the essences of which men talk are abstractions, " creatures of the understanding."
We are too apt to take for granted that the men of the middle ages were immersed in meditations on the other world, and that their = intellectual exercises were confined to abstractions of the / schools, hallucinations of the fancy, allegories, visions.
Man and the actual universe kept on reasserting their rights and claims, announcing their goodliness and delightfulness, in one way or another; but they were always being thrust back again into Cimmerian regions of abstractions, fictions, visions, spectral hopes and fears, in the midst of which the intellect somnambulistically moved upon an unknown way.
Depicting feudalism in the vivid colours of an age at war with feudal institutions, breathing into antique histories the breath of actual life, embracing the romance of Italy and Spain, the mysteries of German legend, the fictions of poetic fancy and the facts of daily life, humours of the moment and abstractions of philosophical speculation, in one homogeneous amalgam instinct with intense vitality, this extraordinary birth of time, with Shakespeare for the master of all ages, left a monument of the Re- naissance unrivalled for pure creative power by any other product of that epoch.
In the first place, it is evident that Bacon, like the Atomical school, of whom he highly approved, had a clear perception and a firm grasp of the physical character of natural principles; his forms are no ideas or abstractions, but highly general physical properties.
The new gods created by Iran are ethical powers; those of India, abstractions of worship (brahman) or of philosophy (atman).
The abstractions which it preaches are not products of metaphysical speculation, as in India, but rather the ethical forces which dominate human life.
For the masses can make little of abstractions and an omnipotent, omnipresent deity; they need concrete divine powers, standing nearer to themselves and their lot.
Be this as it may, we now see that the only basis on which these doctrines could be allowed to stand as a permanent part of economic science is that on which they are placed by Roscher, namely, as a stage in the preparatory work of the economist, who, beginning with such abstractions, afterwards turns from them, not in practice merely, but in the completed theory, to real life and men as they actually are or have been.
We find ourselves on the verge of a system of abstractions, or " attributes turned into entities," as barren as any excogitated in medieval times.
Among these hypothetical beings, the creations of a sickly scholasticism, hollow abstractions without life or reality, the particular trinity in which the historical Gotama was assigned a subordinate place naturally occupied the most exalted rank.
The apprehension never died out in his mind; and when he knew that the principles and abstractions, the un-English dialect and destructive dialectic, of his former acquaintances were predominant in the National Assembly, his suspicion that the movement would end in disastrous miscarriage waxed into certainty.
The same disgust for abstractions and naked doctrines of right that had stirred him against the pretensions of the British parliament in 1774 and 1776, was revived in as lively a degree by political conceptions which he judged to be identical in the French assembly of 1789.
The Thames at Teddington, fed largely from cretaceous areas, fell during ten days in September 1898 (the artificial abstractions for the supply of London being added) to about one-sixth of a cubic foot, and since 1880 the discharge has occasionally fallen, in each of six other cases, to about one-fifth of a cubic foot per second per woo acres.
Philosophy corrects in this way the abstractions which are inevitably made by the scientific specialist, and may claim, therefore, to be the only "concrete" science, that is to say, the only science which takes account of all the elements in the problem, and the only science whose results can claim to be true in more than a provisional sense.
The " determinants " or ideas; secondly, mat hematical numbers, the abstractions of mathematics; and thirdly sensible numbers, numbers embodied in things - Speusippus rejected the ideal numbers, and consequently the ideas; (3) Speusippus traced number, magnitude and soul each to a distinct principle of its own.
The individual is prior to the universal, he says, not only "for us," but also in itself, and universals are abstractions which have merely a subjective existence in the intelligence which abstracts them.
The figures are no longer abstractions; they are concrete examples of the folly of the bibliophile who collects books but learns nothing from them, of the evil judge who takes bribes to favour the guilty, of the old fool whom time merely strengthens in his folly, of those who are eager to follow the fashions, of the priests who spend their time in church telling "gestes" of Robin Hood and so forth.