Short Abstract Quotes

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Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they've been spoken-and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.
Neil Gaiman (Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders)
She was good at playing abstract confusion in the same way that a midget is good at being short.
Clive James
Yet how strange a thing is the beauty of music! The brief beauty that the player brings into being transforms a given period of time into pure continuance; it is certain never to be repeated; like the existence of dayflies and other such short-lived creatures, beauty is a perfect abstraction and creation of life itself. Nothing is so similar to life as music.
Yukio Mishima (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
Friedrich Nietzsche
We live in an extremely anxious age in which the core of our beliefs has been undermined to a great extent by scientific thinking. People have a hunger for answers but an inability to formulate the questions, partly because of the short-term view of things that’s encouraged by the media and partly because there seems to be no centre to which people can turn in order to see what the heart of the discussion is. I think this is a failure of philosophy in our days – and also of the culture that our English-speaking world has generated – around the idea of an abstract question.
Roger Scruton (The Soul of the World)
Everyone knows history is written by the winners, but that cliche misses a crucial detail: Over time, the winners are always the progressives. Conservatism can only win in the short term, because society cannot stop evolving (and social evolution inevitably dovetails with the agenda of those who see change as an abstract positive). It might take seventy years, but it always happens eventually. Serious historians are, almost without exception, self-styled progressives. Radical views--even the awful ones--improve with age.
Chuck Klosterman (I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling With Villains (Real and Imagined))
The abstract intelligence produces a fatigue that's the worst of all fatigues. It doesn't weigh on us like bodily fatigue, nor disconcert like the fatigue of emotional experience. It's the weight of our consciousness of the world, a shortness of breath in our soul.
Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet)
The propensity to excessive simplification is indeed natural to the mind of man, since it is only by abstraction and generalisation, which necessarily imply the neglect of a multitude of particulars, that he can stretch his puny faculties so as to embrace a minute portion of the illimitable vastness of the universe. But if the propensity is natural and even inevitable, it is nevertheless fraught with peril, since it is apt to narrow and falsify our conception of any subject under investigation. To correct it partially - for to correct it wholly would require an infinite intelligence - we must endeavour to broaden our views by taking account of a wide range of facts and possibilities; and when we have done so to the utmost of our power, we must still remember that from the very nature of things our ideas fall immeasurably short of the reality.
James George Frazer (The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, Part 1)
In short, it is much easier to see a thing through from the point of view of abstract principle than from that of concrete responsibility.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Letters and Papers from Prison)
Life is an abstract art, and it’s up to you to make sense of it.
Talismanist Giebra (Talismanist: Fragments of the Ancient Fire. Philosophy of Fragmentism Series.)
He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order.
Arthur Conan Doyle (The Adventure of the Final Problem - a Sherlock Holmes Short Story (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, #11))
Those who are long on logic, definitions, abstractions, and formulas are frequently short on a sense of the concrete.
Flannery O'Connor (Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose (FSG Classics))
To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life. In a sense it might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike. While all melts under our feet, we may well grasp at any exquisite passion, or any contribution to knowledge that seems by a lifted horizon to set the spirit free for a moment, or any stirring of the sense, strange dyes, strange colours, and curious odours, or work of the artist’s hands, or the face of one’s friend. Not to discriminate every moment some passionate attitude in those about us, and in the very brilliancy of their gifts some tragic dividing on their ways, is, on this short day of frost and sun, to sleep before evening. With this sense of the splendour of our experience and of its awful brevity, gathering all we are into one desperate effort to see and touch, we shall hardly have time to make theories about the things we see and touch. What we have to do is to be for ever curiously testing new opinions and courting new impressions, never acquiescing in a facile orthodoxy, of Comte, or of Hegel, or of our own. Philosophical theories or ideas, as points of view, instruments of criticism, may help us to gather up what might otherwise pass unregarded by us. “Philosophy is the microscope of thought.” The theory or idea or system which requires of us the sacrifice of any part of this experience, in consideration of some interest into which we cannot enter, or some abstract theory we have not identified with ourselves, or of what is only conventional, has no real claim upon us.
Walter Pater
Like so many champions of justice, she possessed empathy in the abstract, but sometimes fell short when confronted with the flesh-and-blood reality.
Erik Valeur (The Seventh Child)
Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched. Prefer the concrete word to the abstract. Prefer the single word to the circumlocution. Prefer the short word to the long. Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance.
Henry Fowler
In other words there is something otherworldly about our existence here --something more than matter, more than the body and mind we have been discussing -- in short, something fundamentally and profoundly abstract. And I mention this aspect because it is not at all obvious, indeed scarcely notices by the great majority of us as we go about our daily lives.
Guy Murchie (The Seven Mysteries Of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy)
People are fond of spouting out the old cliché about how Van Gogh never sold a painting in his lifetime. Somehow his example serves to justify to us, decades later, that there is merit in utter failure. Perhaps, but the man did commit suicide. The market for his work took off big-time shortly after his death. Had he decided to stick around another few decades he most likely would’ve entered old age quite prosperous. And sadly for failures everywhere, the cliché would have lost a lot of its power. The fact is, the old clichés work for us in abstract terms, but they never work out in real life quite the same way. Life is messy; clichés are clean and tidy.
Hugh MacLeod (Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity)
She looked now at the drawing-room step. She saw, through William’s eyes, the shape of a woman, peaceful and silent, with downcast eyes. She sat musing, pondering (she was in grey that day, Lily thought). Her eyes were bent. She would never lift them. . . . [N]o, she thought, one could say nothing to nobody. The urgency of the moment always missed its mark. Words fluttered sideways and struck the object inches too low. Then one gave it up; then the idea sunk back again; then one became like most middle-aged people, cautious, furtive, with wrinkles between the eyes and a look of perpetual apprehension. For how could one express in words these emotions of the body? Express that emptiness there? (She was looking at the drawing-room steps; they looked extraordinarily empty.) It was one’s body feeling, not one’s mind. The physical sensations that went with the bare look of the steps had become suddenly extremely unpleasant. To want and not to have, sent all up her body a hardness, a hollowness, a strain. And then to want and not to have – to want and want – how that wrung the heart, and wrung again and again! Oh, Mrs. Ramsay! she called out silently, to that essence which sat by the boat, that abstract one made of her, that woman in grey, as if to abuse her for having gone, and then having gone, come back again. It had seemed so safe, thinking of her. Ghost, air, nothingness, a thing you could play with easily and safely at any time of day or night, she had been that, and then suddenly she put her hand out and wrung the heart thus. Suddenly, the empty drawing-room steps, the frill of the chair inside, the puppy tumbling on the terrace, the whole wave and whisper of the garden became like curves and arabesques flourishing round a centre of complete emptiness. . . . A curious notion came to her that he did after all hear the things she could not say. . . . She looked at her picture. That would have been his answer, presumably – how “you” and “I” and “she” pass and vanish; nothing stays; all changes; but not words, not paint. Yet it would be hung in the attics, she thought; it would be rolled up and flung under a sofa; yet even so, even of a picture like that, it was true. One might say, even of this scrawl, not of that actual picture, perhaps, but of what it attempted, that it “remained for ever,” she was going to say, or, for the words spoken sounded even to herself, too boastful, to hint, wordlessly; when, looking at the picture, she was surprised to find that she could not see it. Her eyes were full of a hot liquid (she did not think of tears at first) which, without disturbing the firmness of her lips, made the air thick, rolled down her cheeks. She had perfect control of herself – Oh, yes! – in every other way. Was she crying then for Mrs. Ramsay, without being aware of any unhappiness? She addressed old Mr. Carmichael again. What was it then? What did it mean? Could things thrust their hands up and grip one; could the blade cut; the fist grasp? Was there no safety? No learning by heart of the ways of the world? No guide, no shelter, but all was miracle, and leaping from the pinnacle of a tower into the air? Could it be, even for elderly people, that this was life? – startling, unexpected, unknown? For one moment she felt that if they both got up, here, now on the lawn, and demanded an explanation, why was it so short, why was it so inexplicable, said it with violence, as two fully equipped human beings from whom nothing should be hid might speak, then, beauty would roll itself up; the space would fill; those empty flourishes would form into shape; if they shouted loud enough Mrs. Ramsay would return. “Mrs. Ramsay!” she said aloud, “Mrs. Ramsay!” The tears ran down her face.
Virginia Woolf
Ideas like cosmic justice, collective hope, and national redemption had no meaning for me. The truth was in the everything that came after atheism, after the amorality of the universe is taken not as a problem but as a given. It was then that I was freed from considering my own morality away from the cosmic and the abstract. Life was short, and death undefeated. So I loved hard, since I would not love for long.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The key to entering into the Divine Exchange is never our worthiness but always God’s graciousness. Any attempt to measure or increase our worthiness will always fall short, or it will force us into the position of denial and pretend, which produces the constant perception of hypocrisy in religious people. To switch to an “economy of grace” is a switch that is very hard for humans to make. We base almost everything in human culture on achievement, performance, accomplishment, an equal exchange value, or some kind of worthiness gauge. I call it meritocracy. Unless one personally experiences a dramatic and personal breaking of the rules of merit (forgiveness or undeserved goodness), it is almost impossible to disbelieve or operate outside of its rigid logic. This cannot happen theoretically or abstractly. It cannot happen “out there” but must be known personally “in here.
Richard Rohr (A Lever and a Place to Stand: The Contemplative Stance, the Active Prayer)
It is most difficult to understand the disposition of the Bible God, it is such a confusion of contradictions; of watery instabilities and iron firmness; of goody-goody abstract morals made out of words, and concreted hell-born ones made out of acts; of fleeting kindness repented of in permanent malignities.
Mark Twain (The Complete Works of Mark Twain: The Novels, Short Stories, Essays and Satires, Travel Writing, Non-Fiction, the Complete Letters, the Complete Speeches, and the Autobiography of Mark Twain)
I first met Winston Churchill in the early summer of 1906 at a dinner party to which I went as a very young girl. Our hostess was Lady Wemyss and I remember that Arthur Balfour, George Wyndman, Hilaire Belloc and Charles Whibley were among the guests… I found myself sitting next to this young man who seemed to me quite different from any other young man I had ever met. For a long time he seemed sunk in abstraction. Then he appeared to become suddenly aware of my existence. He turned on me a lowering gaze and asked me abruptly how old I was. I replied that I was nineteen. “And I,” he said despairingly, “am thirty-two already. Younger than anyone else who counts, though, “he added, as if to comfort himself. Then savagely: “Curse ruthless time! Curse our mortality. How cruelly short is this allotted span for all we must cram into it!” And he burst forth into an eloquent diatribe on the shortness of human life, the immensity of possible human accomplishment—a theme so well exploited by the poets, prophets, and philosophers of all ages that it might seem difficult to invest it with new and startling significance. Yet for me he did so, in a torrent of magnificent language which appeared to be both effortless and inexhaustible and ended up with the words I shall always remember: “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow worm.” By this time I was convinced of it—and my conviction remained unshaken throughout the years that followed. Later he asked me whether I thought that words had a magic and music quite independent of their meaning. I said I certainly thought so, and I quoted as a classic though familiar instance the first lines that came into my head. Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. His eyes blazed with excitement. “Say that again,” he said, “say it again—it is marvelous!” “But I objected, “You know these lines. You know the ‘Ode to a Nightengale.’ ” He had apparently never read or heard of it before (I must, however, add that next time I met him he had not learned not merely this but all of the odes to Keats by heart—and he recited them quite mercilessly from start to finish, not sparing me a syllable). Finding that he liked poetry, I quoted to him from one of my own favorite poets, Blake. He listened avidly, repeating some lines to himself with varying emphases and stresses, then added meditatively: “I never knew that old Admiral had found so much time to write such good poetry.” I was astounded that he, with his acute susceptibility to words and power of using them, should have left such tracts of English literature entirely unexplored. But however it happened he had lost nothing by it, when he approached books it was “with a hungry, empty mind and with fairly srong jaws, and what I got I *bit*.” And his ear for the beauty of language needed no tuning fork. Until the end of dinner I listened to him spellbound. I can remember thinking: This is what people mean when they talk of seeing stars. That is what I am doing now. I do not to this day know who was on my other side. Good manners, social obligation, duty—all had gone with the wind. I was transfixed, transported into a new element. I knew only that I had seen a great light. I recognized it as the light of genius… I cannot attempt to analyze, still less transmit, the light of genius. But I will try to set down, as I remember them, some of the differences which struck me between him and all the others, young and old, whom I have known. First and foremost he was incalculable. He ran true to no form. There lurked in his every thought and world the ambush of the unexpected. I felt also that the impact of life, ideas and even words upon his mind, was not only vivid and immediate, but direct. Between him and them there was no shock absorber of vicarious thought or precedent gleaned either from books or other minds. His relationship wit
Violet Bonham Carter
In short, the majority of men "without religion" still hold to pseudo religions and degenerated mythologies, There is nothing surprising in this, for, as we saw, profane man is the descendant of homo religiosus and he cannot wipe out his own history—that is, the behavior of his religious ancestors which has made him what he is today. This is all the more true because a great part of his existence is fed by impulses that come to him from the depths of his being, from the zone that has been called the "unconscious," A purely rational man is an abstraction; he is never found in real life. Every human being is made up at once of his conscious activity and his irrational experiences.
Mircea Eliade (The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion)
Whenever Germans or Englishmen get together, they talk about the crops, the price of wool, or their personal affairs. But for some reason or other when we Russians get together we never discuss anything but women and abstract subjects--but especially women.
Anton Chekhov (The Collected Short Stories, Vol 1: 100 Short Stories)
And so when the generation, which itself desired to level and to be emancipated, to destroy authority and at the same time itself, has, through the scepticism of the principle association, started the hopeless forest fire of abstraction; when as a result of levelling with this scepticism, the generation has rid itself of the individual and of everything organic and concrete, and put in its place 'humanity' and the numerical equality of man and man: when the generation has, for a moment, delighted in this unlimited panorama of abstract infinity, unrelieved by even the smallest eminence, undisturbed by even the slightest interest, a sea of desert; then the time has come for work to begin, for every individual must work for himself, each for himself. No longer can the individual, as in former times, turn to the great for help when he grows confused. That is past; he is either lost in the dizziness of unending abstraction or saved for ever in the reality of religion. Perhaps very many will cry out in despair, but it will not help them--already it is too late...Nor shall any of the unrecognizable presume to help directly or to speak directly or to teach directly at the head of the masses, in order to direct their decisions, instead of giving his negative support and so helping the individual to make the decision which he himself has reached; any other course would be the end of him, because he would be indulging in the short-sighted compassion of man, instead of obeying the order of divinity, of an angry, yet so merciful, divinity. For the development is, in spite of everything, a progress because all the individuals who are saved will receive the specific weight of religion, its essence at first hand, from God himself. Then it will be said: 'behold, all is in readiness, see how the cruelty of abstraction makes the true form of worldliness only too evident, the abyss of eternity opens before you, the sharp scythe of the leveller makes it possible for every one individually to leap over the blade--and behold, it is God who waits. Leap, then, into the arms of God'. But the 'unrecognizable' neither can nor dares help man, not even his most faithful disciple, his mother, or the girl for whom he would gladly give his life: they must make the leap themselves, for God's love is not a second-hand gift. And yet the 'unrecognizable' neither can nor dares help man, not even his most faithful disciple, his mother, or the girl for whom he would gladly give his life: they must make the leap themselves, for God's love is not a second-hand gift. And yet the 'unrecognizable' (according to his degree) will have a double work compared with the 'outstanding' man (of the same degree), because he will not only have to work continuously, but at the same time labour to conceal his work.
Søren Kierkegaard (The Present Age)
Youngish artists have a way of being melancholy. It may be that this is merely a symptom of the distress they feel at the absence of definition. They have no very distinct outline either of themselves or of the abstractions that bedevil them. They are, in short, likely to be a bit baffled.
Wallace Stevens
Oikonomia is the science or art of efficiently producing, distributing, and maintaining concrete use values for the household and community over the long run. Chrematistics is the art of maximizing the accumulation by individuals of abstract exchange value in the form of money in the short run.
Wendell Berry (What Matters?: Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth)
zone of twilight” in which “the president acts in absence of either a congressional grant or denial of authority.” He then “can only rely upon his own independent powers,” and whether that reliance is legitimate “is likely to depend on the imperatives of events and contemporary imponderables rather than on abstract theories of law.
Linda Greenhouse (The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions))
God: The creation of a sick fantasy. Inhabitant of senile and impotent brains. Companion and comforter of rancid spirits born to slavery. A pill for constipated minds. Marxism for the faint of heart. Humanity: An abstract word with a negative connotation, long on power, short on truth. An obscene mask painted on the mean face of a shrewd vulgarian for the purpose of dominating the multitude of sentimentalist idiots and imbeciles. Country: Penal servitude for the semi-intelligent, a cowshed of imbecility. A Circe who transforms her adoring fans into dogs and pigs. A prostitute for the master, a pimp of the foreigner. Child-eater, parent-slanderer and scoffer at heroes.
Renzo Novatore (Toward the Creative Nothing and Other Writings)
There’s an immense dramatic possibility in describing that universe. The books, for me, were an enormous relief in that sense of how they were written to allow primary emotion, elemental emotion, to matter enormously but to give the thing an extraordinary flow so you don’t notice at what point that you’re actually overwhelmed by this. There’s no showiness, at all. It’s the opposite of showiness. I think, if it was a painting, it could be very grey abstract, almost, with some lines and very, very beautiful. But you wouldn’t have a notion of where the beauty was. (Talking about the short stories of Alistair MacLeod, who he discovered while working on The Modern Library.)
Colm Tóibín (The Modern Library : The Two Hundred Best Novels in English Since 1950)
she had no faith in the abstract principles according to which ‘committed intellectuals think to engineer social change’. All she could believe in, she told Jenny, ‘are short-term, practical, realisable goals. Everyone has to take responsibility for his own life and attempt to improve it, spiritually in the first instance, materially if need be.
Ian McEwan (Black Dogs)
And Schyogolev launched on a discussion of politics. Like many unpaid windbags he thought that he could combine the reports he read in the papers by paid windbags into an orderly scheme, upon following which a logical and sober mind (in this case his mind) could with no effort explain and foresee a multitude of world events. The names of countries and of their leading representatives became in his hands something in the nature of labels for more or less full but essentially identical vessels, whose contents he poured this way and that. France was AFRAID of something or other and therefore would never allow it. England was AIMING at something. This statesman CRAVED a rapprochement, while that one wanted to increase his PRESTIGE. Someone was PLOTTING and someone was STRIVING for something. In short, the world Schyogolev created came out as some kind of collection of limited, humorless, faceless and abstract bullies, and the more brains, cunning and circumspection he found in their mutual activities the more stupid, vulgar and simple his world became.
Vladimir Nabokov (The Gift)
Instead—out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need—we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travel becomes just another accessory—a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.
Rolf Potts (Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel)
Show your reader what you mean by those abstractions by giving specific examples, details, or statistics. Practice: Use Abstract Language Pick out an abstraction or two from the list you made earlier and write a sentence using it. Start with a short, simple sentence; then rewrite this sentence as many times as you need to, adding more sentences, if you like, and making clear to your readers how you want them to understand the abstraction in this particular situation. What did you notice in doing this? Here’s something else to try: Bring an abstraction to mind, then try to write some sentences that will convey that abstraction to the mind of your reader without including the abstraction itself in your sentences. To do these practices, you had to dig into your word hoard
Barbara Baig (Spellbinding Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Achieving Excellence and Captivating Readers)
We know, however, that the mind is capable of understanding these matters in all their complexity and in all their simplicity. A ball flying through the air is responding to the force and direction with which it was thrown, the action of gravity, the friction of the air which it must expend its energy on overcoming, the turbulence of the air around its surface, and the rate and direction of the ball's spin. And yet, someone who might have difficulty consciously trying to work out what 3 x 4 x 5 comes to would have no trouble in doing differential calculus and a whole host of related calculations so astoundingly fast that they can actually catch a flying ball. People who call this "instinct" are merely giving the phenomenon a name, not explaining anything. I think that the closest that human beings come to expressing our understanding of these natural complexities is in music. It is the most abstract of the arts - it has no meaning or purpose other than to be itself. Every single aspect of a piece of music can be represented by numbers. From the organization of movements in a whole symphony, down through the patterns of pitch and rhythm that make up the melodies and harmonies, the dynamics that shape the performance, all the way down to the timbres of the notes themselves, their harmonics, the way they change over time, in short, all the elements of a noise that distinguish between the sound of one person piping on a piccolo and another one thumping a drum - all of these things can be expressed by patterns and hierarchies of numbers. And in my experience the more internal relationships there are between the patterns of numbers at different levels of the hierarchy, however complex and subtle those relationships may be, the more satisfying and, well, whole, the music will seem to be. In fact the more subtle and complex those relationships, and the further they are beyond the grasp of the conscious mind, the more the instinctive part of your mind - by which I mean that part of your mind that can do differential calculus so astoundingly fast that it will put your hand in the right place to catch a flying ball- the more that part of your brain revels in it. Music of any complexity (and even "Three Blind Mice" is complex in its way by the time someone has actually performed it on an instrument with its own individual timbre and articulation) passes beyond your conscious mind into the arms of your own private mathematical genius who dwells in your unconscious responding to all the inner complexities and relationships and proportions that we think we know nothing about. Some people object to such a view of music, saying that if you reduce music to mathematics, where does the emotion come into it? I would say that it's never been out of it.
Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (Dirk Gently, #1))
PERIODIC MOOD-CHANGES We have already spoken of the affective concomitants of common migraines—elated and irritable prodromal states, states of dread and depression associated with the main phase of the attack, and states of euphoric rebound. Any or all of these may be abstracted as isolated periodic symptoms of relatively short duration—some hours, or at most two or three days, and as such may present themselves as primary emotional disorders. The most acute of these mood-changes, generally no more than an hour in duration, usually represents concomitants or equivalents of migraine aura. We may confine our attention at this stage to attacks of depression, or truncated manic-depressive cycles, occurring at intervals in patients who have previously suffered from attacks of undoubted (classical, common, abdominal, etc.) migraine.
Oliver Sacks (Migraine)
Is a mind a complicated kind of abstract pattern that develops in an underlying physical substrate, such as a vast network of nerve cells? If so, could something else be substituted for the nerve cells – something such as ants, giving rise to an ant colony that thinks as a whole and has an identity – that is to say, a self? Or could something else be substituted for the tiny nerve cells, such as millions of small computational units made of arrays of transistors, giving rise to an artificial neural network with a conscious mind? Or could software simulating such richly interconnected computational units be substituted, giving rise to a conventional computer (necessarily a far faster and more capacious one than we have ever seen) endowed with a mind and a soul and free will? In short, can thinking and feeling emerge from patterns
Andrew Hodges (Alan Turing: The Enigma)
The mind is at every stage a theater of simultaneous possibilities. Consciousness consists in the comparison of these with each other, the selection of some, and the suppression of the rest by the reinforcing and inhibiting agency of attention. The highest and most elaborated mental products are filtered from the data chosen by the faculty next beneath, out of the mass offered by the faculty below that, which mass in turn was sifted from a still larger amount of yet simpler material, and so on. The mind, in short, works on the data it receives very much as a sculptor works on his block of stone. In a sense the statue stood there from eternity. But there were a thousand different ones beside it, and the sculptor alone is to thank for having extricated this one from the rest. Just so the world of each of us, how so ever different our several views of it may be, all lay embedded in the primordial chaos of sensations, which gave the mere matter to the thought of all of us indifferently. We may, if we like, by our reasonings unwind things back 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 removing portions of the given stuff. Other sculptors, other statues from the same stone! Other minds, other worlds from the same monotonous and inexpressive chaos! Your world is but one in a million alike embedded, alike real to those who may abstract them. How different must be the worlds in the consciousness of ant, cuttlefish, or crab!
William James (The Principles of Psychology)
He let himself surrender for a moment to a visceral sense of identity which drowned out all his pale mental images of optical processors, all his abstract reflections on the software’s approximations and short-cuts. This body didn’t want to evaporate. This body didn’t want to bail out. It didn’t much care that there was another – “more real” – version of itself, elsewhere. It wanted to retain its wholeness. It wanted to endure.
Greg Egan (Permutation City)
At a higher level of abstraction, the behavioral correlates of life history strategies can be framed within the five-factor model of personality. Among the Big Five, agreeableness and conscientiousness show the most consistent pattern of associations with slow traits such as restricted sociosexuality, long-term mating orientation, couple stability, secure attachment to parents in infancy and romantic partners in adulthood, reduced sex drive, low impulsivity, and risk aversion across domains. Conscientiousness and (to a smaller extent) agreeableness are also the most reliable personality predictors of physical health and longevity; the contribution of neuroticism is mixed and may depend on the specific facets considered. The life history correlates of neuroticism are much less straightforward; for example, high neuroticism tends to predict increased short-term mating in women but reduced short-term mating in men, with much cross-cultural variation. There is also evidence that slow life history–related traits can be associated with social anxiety and insecurity, which is consistent with a general profile of risk aversion and behavioral inhibition. As a first approximation, then, metatrait alpha can be treated as a broadband correlate of slow strategies, with the caveat that neuroticism may be elevated at both ends of the continuum.
Marco del Giudice (Evolutionary Psychopathology: A Unified Approach)
Paul closed his eyes and turned his face to the sun. In spite of everything, it was hard not to take solace from the warmth flooding onto his skin. He stretched the muscles in his arms, his shoulders, his back -- and it felt like he was reaching out from the "self" in his virtual skull to all his mathematical flesh, imprinting the nebulous data with meaning; binding it all together, staking some kind of claim. He felt the stirrings of an erection. Existence was beginning to seduce him. He let himself surrender for a moment to a visceral sense of identity which drowned out all his pale mental images of optical processors, all his abstract reflections on the software's approximations and short-cuts. This body didn't want to evaporate. This body didn't want to bale out. It didn't much care that there was another -- "more real" -- version of itself elsewhere. It wanted to retain its wholeness. It wanted to endure.
Greg Egan (Permutation City)
A crucial point here is that understanding is not only a matter of reflection, using finitary propositions, on some preexistent, already determinate experience. Rather, understanding is the way we "have a world," the way we experience our world as a comprehensible reality. Such understanding, therefore, involves our whole being - our bodily capacities and skills, our values, our moods and attitudes, our entire cultural tradition, the way in which we are bound up with a linguistic community, our aesthetic sensibilities, and so forth. I short, our understanding is our mode of "being in the world." It is the way we are meaningfully situated in our world through our bodily interactions, our cultural institutions , our linguistic tradition, and our historical context. Our more abstract reflective acts of understanding (which may involve grasping of finitary propositions) are simply an extension of our understanding in this more basic sense of "having a world.
Mark Johnson (The Body in the Mind: The Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination, and Reason)
Jorge Luis Borges understood this. In a fantasy short story published in 1942, “Funes the Memorious,” he described a man, Ireneo Funes, who found after an accident that he could remember absolutely everything. He could reconstruct every day in the smallest detail, and he could even later reconstruct the reconstruction, but he was incapable of understanding. Borges wrote, “To think is to forget details, generalize, make abstractions. In the teeming world of Funes there were only details.
Stephen M. Stigler (The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom)
For some reason, we see long-term travel to faraway lands as a recurring dream or an exotic temptation, but not something that applies to the here and now. Instead - out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don't really need - we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called "lifestyle," travel becomes just another accessory - a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.
Rolf Potts
Moreover, the human brain which supposedly does our thinking is as terrestrial, earthbound, as any other part of the human body. It was precisely by abstracting from these terrestrial conditions, by appealing to a power of imagination and abstraction that would, as it were, lift the human mind out of the gravitational field of the earth and look down upon it from some point in the universe, that modern science reached its most glorious and, at the same time, most baffling achievements. In 1929, shortly before the arrival of the
Hannah Arendt (Between Past and Future)
A woman's ability to achieve depends on childlessness or childcare. In America, where we don't believe in an underclass to do 'women's work', women themselves become the underclass. For love. Nobody doubts the love is real. It's for our children. But we are supposed to do it invisibly and never mention it. Alfred North Whitehead, who wasn't a woman after all, said that the truth of a society is what cannot be said. And women's work still cannot be said. It's called whining -- even by other women. It's called self-indulgence -- even by other women. Perhaps women writer are hated because abstraction makes oppression possible and we refuse to be abstract. How can we be? Our struggles are concrete: food, fire, babies, a room of one's own. These basics are rare -- even for the privileged. It is nothing short of a miracle every time a woman with a child finishes a book. Our lives -- from the baby to the writing desk -- are the lives of the majority of humanity: never enough time to think, eternal exhaustion. The cared-for male elite, with female slaves to tend their bodily needs, can hardly credit our difficulties as 'real'. 'Real' is the deficit, oil wars in the Middle East, or how much of our children's milk the Pentagon shall get. This is the true division in the world today: between those who carelessly say 'Third World' believing themselves part of the '¨First', and those who know they are the Third World -- wherever they live. Women everywhere are the 'Third World', In my country, where most women do not feel part of what matters, they are thirdly third, trapped in the myth of being 'first'.
Erica Jong (Fear of Fifty: A Midlife Memoir)
A big practice in chaos magic is the use of sigils, which are abstract words or symbols you create and embed with your wishes. To create a sigil, start by writing out your desire in a single word, a couple of words, or a short sentence. Then remove all the duplicate letters, then all the vowels—basically, you can do whatever you want here—until you’re left with a bunch of lines that you can combine into one symbol. Then you put the piece of paper in a book, in your wallet, or some other place where it won’t get lost, and just forget about it.
Sophia Amoruso (#GIRLBOSS)
When Maggie laid down her work at night, it was her habit to get a low stool and sit by her father’s knee, leaning her cheek against it. How she wished he would stroke her head, or give some sign that he was soothed by the sense that he had a daughter who loved him! But now she got no answer to her little caresses, either from her father or from Tom,–the two idols of her life. Tom was weary and abstracted in the short intervals when he was at home, and her father was bitterly preoccupied with the thought that the girl was growing up, was shooting up into a woman; and how was she to do well in life?
George Eliot (Complete Works of George Eliot)
In contexts of colonial oppression, intellectuals, especially those who advocate and work for justice, cannot be just-or mere- intellectuals, in the abstract sense; they cannot but be immersed in some form or another of activism, to learn from fellow activists through real-life experiences, to widen the horizons of their sources of inspiration, and to organically engage in effective, collective emancipatory processes, without the self-indulgence, complacency, or ivory-towerness that might otherwise blur their moral vision. In short, to be just intellectuals, committed to justice as the most ethical and durable foundation of peace.
Omar Barghouti (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (Ultimate Series))
So far from a political ideology being the quasi-divine parent of political activity, it turns out to be its earthly stepchild. Instead of an independently premeditated scheme of ends to be pursued, it is a system of ideas abstracted from the manner in which people have been accustomed to go about the business of attending to the arrangements of their societies. The pedigree of every political ideology shows it to be the creature, not of premeditation in advance of political activity, but of meditation upon a manner of politics. In short, political activity comes first and a political ideology follows after; and the understanding of politics we are investigating has the disadvantage of being, in the strict sense, preposterous. Let us consider the matter first in relation to scientific hypothesis, which I have taken to play a role in scientific activity in some respects similar to that of an ideology in politics. If a scientific hypothesis were a self-generated bright idea which owed nothing to scientific activity, then empiricism governed by hypothesis could be considered to compose a self-contained manner of activity; but this certainly is not its character. The truth is that only a man who is already a scientist can formulate a scientific hypothesis; that is, an hypothesis is not an independent invention capable of guiding scientific inquiry, but a dependent supposition which arises as an abstraction from within already existing scientific activity. Moreover, even when the specific hypothesis has in this manner been formulated, it is inoperative as a guide to research without constant reference to the traditions of scientific inquiry from which it was abstracted. The concrete situation does not appear until the specific hypothesis, which is the occasion of empiricism being set to work, is recognized as itself the creature of owing how to conduct a scientific inquiry. Or consider the example of cookery. It might be supposed that an ignorant man, some edible materials, and a cookery book compose together the necessities of a self-moved (or concrete) activity called cooking. But nothing is further from the truth. The cookery book is not an independently generated beginning from which cooking can spring; it is nothing more than an abstract of somebody's knowledge of how to cook: it is the stepchild, not the parent of the activity. The book, in its tum, may help to set a man on to dressing a dinner, but if it were his sole guide he could never, in fact, begin: the book speaks only to those who know already the kind of thing to expect from it and consequently bow to interpret it. Now, just as a cookery book presupposes somebody who knows how to cook, and its use presupposes somebody who already knows how to use it, and just as a scientific hypothesis springs from a knowledge of how to conduct a scientific investigation and separated from that knowledge is powerless to set empiricism profitably to work, so a political ideology must be understood, not as an independently premeditated beginning for political activity, but as knowledge (abstract and generalized) of a concrete manner of attending to the arrangements of a society. The catechism which sets out the purposes to be pursued merely abridges a concrete manner of behaviour in which those purposes are already hidden. It does not exist in advance of political activity, and by itself it is always an insufficient guide. Political enterprises, the ends to be pursued, the arrangements to be established (all the normal ingredients of a political ideology), cannot be premeditated in advance of a manner of attending to the arrangements of a society; what we do, and moreover what we want to do, is the creature of how we are accustomed to conduct our affairs. Indeed, it often reflects no more than a dis­covered ability to do something which is then translated into an authority to do it.
Michael Oakeshott (Rationalism in Politics and other essays)
As countless myths and children’s stories recount, however, childlike playfulness, something we uniquely crave among primates, is eventually lost. We relish some banter with the hot dog vendor, but keep it short because we’re late for work. As adults, the childish drive to meander, examine boogers, and play becomes subordinated to productive routine. Get up, dress, commute, work, eat, sleep, repeat. This is the realm of the PFC, that center of executive control, and it is no accident that its maturation corresponds to an increased ability to stay on task, delay gratification, and subordinate emotions and desires to abstract reason and the achievement of practical goals.
Edward Slingerland (Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization)
Considered in the abstract the boxing ring is an altar of sorts, one of those legendary spaces where the laws of a nation are suspended: inside the ropes, during an officially regulated three-minute round, a man may be killed at his opponents hands but he cannot be legally murdered. Boxing inhabits a sacred space predating civilization; or, to use D.H. Lawrence's phrase, before God was love. If it suggests a savage ceremony or a rite of atonement it also suggests the futility of such gestures. For what possible atonement is the fight waged if it must shortly be waged again... and again? The boxing match is the very image, the more terrifying for being so stylized, of mankind's collective aggression; its ongoing historical madness.
Joyce Carol Oates (On Boxing)
We should expect artists to be more sensitive and more open to abstract thoughts and ideas. If they are more open, they should be capable of tapping into the mystical static that is bouncing around the collective ether. True inspiration is a mystery, and any artist can describe how getting lost in this zone can create a sort of timeless trance where things just flow magically. An artist’s best work comes from a mindless place, unhindered by logic and intellect. This could be the concert violinist standing on stage, or the illustrator hunched over in the corner with a sketchbook. Although it almost always falls short, the Hollywood machine is continually trying to come up with the next UFO-themed product. But where do these ideas come from?
Mike Clelland (The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity and the UFO Abductee)
Recall Marx’s fundamental insight about the “bourgeois” limitation of the logic of equality: capitalist inequalities (“exploitation”) are not the “unprincipled violations of the principle of equality,” but are absolutely inherent to the logic of equality, they are the paradoxical result of its consistent realization. What we have in mind here is not only the wearisome old motif of how market exchange presupposes formally/legally equal subjects who meet and interact in the market; the crucial moment of Marx’s critique of “bourgeois” socialists is that capitalist exploitation does not involve any kind of “unequal” exchange between the worker and the capitalist—this exchange is fully equal and “just,” ideally (in principle), the worker gets paid the full value of the commodity he is selling (his labor-power). Of course, radical bourgeois revolutionaries are aware of this limitation; however, the way they try to counteract it is through a direct “terroristic imposition of more and more de facto equality (equal salaries, equal access to health services…), which can only be imposed through new forms of formal inequality (different sorts of preferential treatments for the underprivileged). In short, the axiom of equality” means either not enough (it remains the abstract form of actual inequality) or too much (enforce “terroristic” equality)— it is a formalistic notion in a strict dialectical sense, that is, its limitation is precisely that its form is not concrete enough, but a mere neutral container of some content that eludes this form.
Slavoj Žižek (In Defense of Lost Causes)
Recall that the collapse of complexity that accompanies 5 percent [i.e. intractable] conflicts happens along many dimensions: - A very complication situation becomes very simple. - A focus on concrete details in the conflict shifts to matters of general abstract principle. - Concerns over obtaining accurate information regarding substantive issues transform into concerns over defending one's identity, ideology, and values. - The out-group, which was seen as made up of many different types of individuals, now are all alike. - The in-group, which was seen as made up of many different types of individuals, now are all similar. - Whereas I once held many contradictions within myself in terms of what I valued, thought, and did; now I am always consistent in this conflict. - Whereas I used to feel different things about this conflict - good, bad, and ambivalent; now I feel only an overwhelming sense of enmity and hate. - I've shifted from long-term thinking and planning toward short-term reactions and concerns. - Where I once had many action options available to me, I now have one: attack. This is the bad news about the 5 percent, but it's also the good news. The collapse of complexity occurs on so many levels, all leading to a similar state of 'us versus them' thinking, that reintroducing a sense of complexity and agency can also be achieved in a wide variety of ways. There are therefore many places to find points of leverage to rupture the certainty and oversimplification that rules in these situations. The question is how to find them.
Peter T. Coleman (The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts)
MY FIRST ASSIGNMENT AFTER BEING ORDAINED as a pastor almost finished me. I was called to be the assistant pastor in a large and affluent suburban church. I was glad to be part of such an obviously winning organization. After I had been there a short time, a few people came to me and asked that I lead them in a Bible study. “Of course,” I said, “there is nothing I would rather do.” We met on Monday evenings. There weren’t many—eight or nine men and women—but even so that was triple the two or three that Jesus defined as a quorum. They were eager and attentive; I was full of enthusiasm. After a few weeks the senior pastor, my boss, asked me what I was doing on Monday evenings. I told him. He asked me how many people were there. I told him. He told me that I would have to stop. “Why?” I asked. “It is not cost-effective. That is too few people to spend your time on.” I was told then how I should spend my time. I was introduced to the principles of successful church administration: crowds are important, individuals are expendable; the positive must always be accented, the negative must be suppressed. Don’t expect too much of people—your job is to make them feel good about themselves and about the church. Don’t talk too much about abstractions like God and sin—deal with practical issues. We had an elaborate music program, expensively and brilliantly executed. The sermons were seven minutes long and of the sort that Father Taylor (the sailor-preacher in Boston who was the model for Father Mapple in Melville’s Moby Dick) complained of in the transcendentalists of the last century: that a person could no more be converted listening to sermons like that than get intoxicated drinking skim milk.[2] It was soon apparent that I didn’t fit. I had supposed that I was there to be a pastor: to proclaim and interpret Scripture, to guide people into a life of prayer, to encourage faith, to represent the mercy and forgiveness of Christ at special times of need, to train people to live as disciples in their families, in their communities and in their work. In fact I had been hired to help run a church and do it as efficiently as possible: to be a cheerleader to this dynamic organization, to recruit members, to lend the dignity of my office to certain ceremonial occasions, to promote the image of a prestigious religious institution. I got out of there as quickly as I could decently manage it. At the time I thought I had just been unlucky. Later I came to realize that what I experienced was not at all uncommon.
Eugene H. Peterson (Run with the Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best)
The life of man is a story; an adventure story; and in our vision the same is true even of the story of God. The Catholic faith is the reconciliation because it is the realisation both of mythology and philosophy. It is a story and in that sense one of a hundred stories; only it is a true story. It is a philosophy and in that sense one of a hundred philosophies; only it is a philosophy that is like life. But above all, it is a reconciliation because it is something that can only be called the philosophy of stories. That normal narrative instinct which produced all the fairy tales is something that is neglected by all the philosophies—except one. The Faith is the justification of that popular instinct; the finding of a philosophy for it or the analysis of the philosophy in it. Exactly as a man in an adventure story has to pass various tests to save his life, so the man in this philosophy has to pass several tests and save his soul. In both there is an idea of free will operating under conditions of design; in other words, there is an aim and it is the business of a man to aim at it; we therefore watch to see whether he will hit it. Now this deep and democratic and dramatic instinct is derided and dismissed in all the other philosophies. For all the other philosophies avowedly end where they begin; and it is the definition of a story that it ends differently; that it begins in one place and ends in another. From Buddha and his wheel to Akhen Aten and his disc, from Pythagoras with his abstraction of number to Confucius with his religion of routine, there is not one of them that does not in some way sin against the soul of a story. There is none of them that really grasps this human notion of the tale, the test, the adventure; the ordeal of the free man. Each of them starves the story-telling instinct, so to speak, and does something to spoil human life considered as a romance; either by fatalism (pessimist or optimist) and that destiny that is the death of adventure; or by indifference and that detachment that is the death of drama; or by a fundamental scepticism that dissolves the actors into atoms; or by a materialistic limitation blocking the vista of moral consequences; or a mechanical recurrence making even moral tests monotonous; or a bottomless relativity making even practical tests insecure. There is such a thing as a human story; and there is such a thing as the divine story which is also a human story; but there is no such thing as a Hegelian story or a Monist story or a relativist story or a determinist story; for every story, yes, even a penny dreadful or a cheap novelette, has something in it that belongs to our universe and not theirs. Every short story does truly begin with creation and end with a last judgement.
G.K. Chesterton (The Everlasting Man)
(T)he true enemy of humanity was not Evil, an abstract idea personified by some sort of crimson-faced creature dancing in flames, but Chance, that smoky million-handed monster forever fitting its tiny fingers into the fissures of your life, working tear it apart, loosening the fatal screw, turning that first cell cancerous, sending lightning to strike the tree that you chose for shelter from the storm. The version of Satan that embodied every ill of human life had been patched onto the Judeo-Christian tradition because the early God that Moses knew was too tough and terrible for worshippers to want to deal with. The fear that Moses had of Yahweh was as much of His caprice as of His power --He was just as likely to force the Hebrews to wander in the wilderness as He was to rescue them from the Egyptians. In short, He was not the embodiment of good, but of chance: neither good nor evil, but inscrutable and unavoidable.
Dexter Palmer
The usual short story cannot have a complex plot, but it often has a simple one resembling a chain with two or three links. The short short, however, doesn't as a rule have even that much - you don't speak of a chain when there's only one link. ... Sometimes ... the short short appears to rest on nothing more than a fragile anecdote which the writer has managed to drape with a quantity of suggestion. A single incident, a mere anecdote - these form the spine of the short short. Everything depends on intensity, one sweeping blow of perception. In the short short the writer gets no second chance. Either he strikes through at once or he's lost. And because it depends so heavily on this one sweeping blow, the short short often approaches the condition of a fable. When you read the two pieces by Tolstoy in this book, or I.L. Peretz's 'If Not Higher,' or Franz Kafka's 'The Hunter Gracchus,' you feel these writers are intent upon 'making a point' - but obliquely, not through mere statement. What they project is not the sort of impression of life we expect in most fiction, but something else: an impression of an idea of life. Or: a flicker in darkness, a slight cut of being. The shorter the piece of writing, the more abstract it may seem to us. In reading Paz's brilliant short short we feel we have brushed dangerously against the sheer arbitrariness of existence; in reading Peretz's, that we have been brought up against a moral reflection on the nature of goodness, though a reflection hard merely to state. Could we say that the short short is to other kinds of fiction somewhat as the lyric is to other kinds of poetry? The lyric does not seek meaning through extension, it accepts the enigmas of confinement. It strives for a rapid unity of impression, an experience rendered in its wink of immediacy. And so too with the short short. ... Writers who do short shorts need to be especially bold. They stake everything on a stroke of inventiveness. Sometimes they have to be prepared to speak out directly, not so much in order to state a theme as to provide a jarring or complicating commentary. The voice of the writer brushes, so to say, against his flash of invention. And then, almost before it begins, the fiction is brought to a stark conclusion - abrupt, bleeding, exhausting. This conclusion need not complete the action; it has only to break it off decisively. Here are a few examples of the writer speaking out directly. Paz: 'The universe is a vast system of signs.' Kafka in 'First Sorrow': The trapeze artist's 'social life was somewhat limited.' Paula Fox: 'We are starving here in our village. At last, we are at the center.' Babel's cossack cries out, 'You guys in specs have about as much pity for chaps like us as a cat for a mouse.' Such sentences serve as devices of economy, oblique cues. Cryptic and enigmatic, they sometimes replace action, dialogue and commentary, for none of which, as it happens, the short short has much room. There's often a brilliant overfocussing. ("Introduction")
Irving Howe (Short Shorts)
Back in Russia, where they’re still getting acclimated to the whole capitalism thing, most TV advertising took a straightforward approach to persuasion. Thus, even though I don’t speak Russian, I had no trouble understanding Russian ads. They were all along the lines o: “Oh, no, there’s a stain on the tablecloth! What will Mom do? Thank goodness for this effective detergent!” Not so in Japan, where sophisticated consumers have grown bored with simple persuasion, forcing advertisers to get wildly inventive. Japanese TV ads have at this point evolved into an abstract mishmash of symbols and sounds. Your average thirty-second Japanese commercial is something like: Here’s a man holding a giraffe. Now the giraffe morphs into a rainbow. The rainbow is friends with a talking pencil, and they live together on a spaceship. A few seconds of laughter! A snippet of loud reggae music! Fad out. At least half the time, I have no idea what the product being advertised is or what it does. And yet I very much enjoy the ads. They’re like short-acting hallucinogens.
Seth Stevenson (Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World)
In Jesus, God deals with our bastardisations. The incarnation was the Creator's means of giving us a multisensory, no-holds-barred, tangible experience of the divine nature. God condescended to the limits of our means of knowing reality and truth. We struggle to put our flesh into words, but God's word--God's self-expression--became flesh and dwelled with us, for us. This is nothing short of an act of love, an act of revelation, and act of transferring the fullness of one's self into a vulnerable form so that it can be felt by another. God chooses to step into the range of our grasp, allowing our awareness of the divine to move from abstract imagination to relational discovery. Such a step certainly doesn't remove the mystery of who or what God is. Questions remain. But it does allow us to enter into that mystery with the whole of our beings. We don't have to stop being human to embrace the mystery of God. By God's invitation, we can poke our doubting and enquiring digits into the opened side of the incomprehensible made manifest. As we do so, we can know what God is like; God is like Jesus, and, to use Pastor Brian Zahnd's oft-quoted summary, God has *always* been like Jesus.
Tristan Sherwin (Living the Dream?: The Problem with Escapist, Exhibitionist, Empire-Building Christianity)
But from the Parthenon and the Timaeus a specious logic leads to the tyranny which, in the Republic, is held up as the ideal form of government. In the field of politics the equivalent of a theorem is a perfectly disciplined army; of a sonnet or picture, a police state under a dictatorship. The Marxist calls himself scientific and to this claim the Fascist adds another: he is the poet - the scientific poet - of a new mythology. Both are justified in their pretentions; for each applies to human situations the procedures which have proved effective in the laboratory and the ivory tower. They simplify, they abstract, they eliminate all that, for their purposes, is irrelevant and ignore whatever they choose to regard as inessential; they impose a style, they compel the facts to verify a favorite hypothesis, they consign to the waste paper basket all that, to their mind, falls short of perfection. And because they thus act like good artists, sound thinkers and tried experimenters, the prisons are full, political heretics are worked to death as slaves, the rights and preferences of mere individuals are ignored, the Gandhis are murdered and from morning till night a million schoolteachers and broadcasters proclaim the infallibility of the bosses who happen at the moment to be in power.
Aldous Huxley (Ape and Essence)
The 1950s and 1960s: philosophy, psychology, myth There was considerable critical interest in Woolf ’s life and work in this period, fuelled by the publication of selected extracts from her diaries, in A Writer’s Diary (1953), and in part by J. K. Johnstone’s The Bloomsbury Group (1954). The main critical impetus was to establish a sense of a unifying aesthetic mode in Woolf ’s writing, and in her works as a whole, whether through philosophy, psychoanalysis, formal aesthetics, or mythopoeisis. James Hafley identified a cosmic philosophy in his detailed analysis of her fiction, The Glass Roof: Virginia Woolf as Novelist (1954), and offered a complex account of her symbolism. Woolf featured in the influential The English Novel: A Short Critical History (1954) by Walter Allen who, with antique chauvinism, describes the Woolfian ‘moment’ in terms of ‘short, sharp female gasps of ecstasy, an impression intensified by Mrs Woolf ’s use of the semi-colon where the comma is ordinarily enough’. Psychological and Freudian interpretations were also emerging at this time, such as Joseph Blotner’s 1956 study of mythic patterns in To the Lighthouse, an essay that draws on Freud, Jung and the myth of Persephone.4 And there were studies of Bergsonian writing that made much of Woolf, such as Shiv Kumar’s Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel (1962). The most important work of this period was by the French critic Jean Guiguet. His Virginia Woolf and Her Works (1962); translated by Jean Stewart, 1965) was the first full-length study ofWoolf ’s oeuvre, and it stood for a long time as the standard work of critical reference in Woolf studies. Guiguet draws on the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre to put forward a philosophical reading of Woolf; and he also introduces a psychobiographical dimension in the non-self.’ This existentialist approach did not foreground Woolf ’s feminism, either. his heavy use of extracts from A Writer’s Diary. He lays great emphasis on subjectivism in Woolf ’s writing, and draws attention to her interest in the subjective experience of ‘the moment.’ Despite his philosophical apparatus, Guiguet refuses to categorise Woolf in terms of any one school, and insists that Woolf has indeed ‘no pretensions to abstract thought: her domain is life, not ideology’. Her avoidance of conventional character makes Woolf for him a ‘purely psychological’ writer.5 Guiguet set a trend against materialist and historicist readings ofWoolf by his insistence on the primacy of the subjective and the psychological: ‘To exist, for Virginia Woolf, meant experiencing that dizziness on the ridge between two abysses of the unknown, the self and
Jane Goldman (The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf)
True law necessarily is rooted in ethical assumptions or norms; and those ethical principles are derived, in the beginning at least, from religious convictions. When the religious understanding, from which a concept of law arose in a culture, has been discarded or denied, the laws may endure for some time, through what sociologists call "cultural lag"; but in the long run, the laws also will be discarded or denied. With this hard truth in mind, I venture to suggest that the corpus of English and American laws--for the two arise for the most part from a common root of belief and experience--cannot endure forever unless it is animated by the spirit that moved it in the beginning: that is, by religion, and specifically by the Christian people. Certain moral postulates of Christian teaching have been taken for granted, in the past, as the ground of justice. When courts of law ignore those postulates, we grope in judicial darkness. . . . We suffer from a strong movement to exclude such religious beliefs from the operation of courts of law, and to discriminate against those unenlightened who cling fondly to the superstitions of the childhood of the race. Many moral beliefs, however, though sustained by religious convictions, may not be readily susceptible of "scientific" demonstration. After all, our abhorrence of murder, rape, and other crimes may be traced back to the Decalogue and other religious injunctions. If it can be shown that our opposition to such offenses is rooted in religion, then are restraints upon murder and rape unconstitutional? We arrive at such absurdities if we attempt to erect a wall of separation between the operation of the laws and those Christian moral convictions that move most Americans. If we are to try to sustain some connection between Christian teaching and the laws of this land of ours, we must understand the character of that link. We must claim neither too much nor too little for the influence of Christian belief upon our structure of law. . . . I am suggesting that Christian faith and reason have been underestimated in an age bestridden, successively, by the vulgarized notions of the rationalists, the Darwinians, and the Freudians. Yet I am not contending that the laws ever have been the Christian word made flesh nor that they can ever be. . . . What Christianity (or any other religion) confers is not a code of positive laws, but instead some general understanding of justice, the human condition being what it is. . . . In short, judges cannot well be metaphysicians--not in the execution of their duties upon the bench, at any rate, even though the majority upon the Supreme Court of this land, and judges in inferior courts, seem often to have mistaken themselves for original moral philosophers during the past quarter century. The law that judges mete out is the product of statute, convention, and precedent. Yet behind statute, convention, and precedent may be discerned, if mistily, the forms of Christian doctrines, by which statute and convention and precedent are much influenced--or once were so influenced. And the more judges ignore Christian assumptions about human nature and justice, the more they are thrown back upon their private resources as abstract metaphysicians--and the more the laws of the land fall into confusion and inconsistency. Prophets and theologians and ministers and priests are not legislators, ordinarily; yet their pronouncements may be incorporated, if sometimes almost unrecognizably, in statute and convention and precedent. The Christian doctrine of natural law cannot be made to do duty for "the law of the land"; were this tried, positive justice would be delayed to the end of time. Nevertheless, if the Christian doctrine of natural law is cast aside utterly by magistrates, flouted and mocked, then positive law becomes patternless and arbitrary.
Russell Kirk (Rights and Duties: Reflections on Our Conservative Constitution)
Political philosophers of the Enlightenment, from Hobbes and Locke, reaching down to John Rawls and his followers today, have found the roots of political order and the motive of political obligation in a social contract – an agreement, overt or implied, to be bound by principles to which all reasonable citizens can assent. Although the social contract exists in many forms, its ruling principle was announced by Hobbes with the assertion that there can be ‘no obligation on any man which ariseth not from some act of his own’.1 My obligations are my own creation, binding because freely chosen. When you and I exchange promises, the resulting contract is freely undertaken, and any breach does violence not merely to the other but also to the self, since it is a repudiation of a well-grounded rational choice. If we could construe our obligation to the state on the model of a contract, therefore, we would have justified it in terms that all rational beings must accept. Contracts are the paradigms of self-chosen obligations – obligations that are not imposed, commanded or coerced but freely undertaken. When law is founded in a social contract, therefore, obedience to the law is simply the other side of free choice. Freedom and obedience are one and the same. Such a contract is addressed to the abstract and universal Homo oeconomicus who comes into the world without attachments, without, as Rawls puts it, a ‘conception of the good’, and with nothing save his rational self-interest to guide him. But human societies are by their nature exclusive, establishing privileges and benefits that are offered only to the insider, and which cannot be freely bestowed on all-comers without sacrificing the trust on which social harmony depends. The social contract begins from a thought-experiment, in which a group of people gather together to decide on their common future. But if they are in a position to decide on their common future, it is because they already have one: because they recognize their mutual togetherness and reciprocal dependence, which makes it incumbent upon them to settle how they might be governed under a common jurisdiction in a common territory. In short, the social contract requires a relation of membership. Theorists of the social contract write as though it presupposes only the first-person singular of free rational choice. In fact, it presupposes a first-person plural, in which the burdens of belonging have already been assumed.
Roger Scruton (How to Be a Conservative)
In short, the interaction between science and religion in the Middle Ages was not an abstract encounter between bodies of fixed ideas but part of the human quest for understanding. As such, it was characterized by the same vicissitudes and the same rich variety that mark all human endeavor.
Gary B. Ferngren (Science and Religion: A Historical Introduction)
Mary’s new motherhood is not some vague or abstract sort of thing. It’s concrete and personal. And even though it’s universal, it’s also intensely particular. Mary is your mother. She is my mother. In this light, John Paul thinks it’s significant that Mary’s new motherhood on Calvary is expressed in the singular, “Behold, your son” not “Behold, your billions of spiritual children.” The Pope gets to the heart of it when he says, “Even when the same woman is the mother of many children, her personal relationship with each one of them is of the very essence of motherhood.”98 In short: Mary is uniquely, particularly, personally your mother and my mother, and she doesn’t lose us in the crowd.
Michael E. Gaitley (33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration)
Eno again: “I know he liked Another Green World a lot, and he must have realised that there were these two parallel streams of working going on in what I was doing, and when you find someone with the same problems you tend to become friendly with them.” Another Green World (1975) has a different feel to Low, but it deploys some of the same strategies. It mixes songs that have recognisable pop structures with other, short, abstract pieces that Eno called “ambient”—with the emphasis not on melody or beat, but on atmosphere and texture. These intensely beautiful fragments fade in then out, as if they were merely the visible part of a vast submarine creation; they are like tiny glimpses into another world. On the more conventional tracks, different genres juxtapose, sometimes smoothly, sometimes not—jazzy sounds cohering with pop hooks but struggling against intrusive synthetic sound effects. The end result is a moodily enigmatic album of real power and ingenuity. One structural difference between the two albums, though, is that while Eno interspersed the “textural” pieces across Another Green World, Bowie separated them out and put them on another side, which provides Low with a sort of metanarrative.
Hugo Wilcken (Low)
Names A name is a letter optionally followed by one or more letters, digits, or underbars. A name cannot be one of these reserved words: abstract boolean break byte case catch char class const continue debugger default delete do double else enum export extends false final finally float for function goto if implements import in instanceof int interface long native new null package private protected public return short static super switch synchronized this throw throws transient true try typeof var volatile void while with Most of the reserved words in this list are not used in the language. The list does not include some words that should have been reserved but were not, such as undefined, NaN, and Infinity. It is not permitted to name a variable or parameter with a reserved word. Worse, it is not permitted to use a reserved word as the name of an object property in an object literal or following a dot in a refinement. Names are used for statements, variables, parameters, property names, operators, and labels.
Douglas Crockford (JavaScript: The Good Parts: The Good Parts)
Yet if we are to judge by the analogy of the past, when our science once becomes old-fashioned, it will be more for its omissions of fact, for its ignorance of whole ranges and orders of complexity in the phenomena to be explained, than for any fatal lack in its spirit and principles. The spirit and principles of science are mere affairs of method; there is nothing in them that need hinder science from dealing successfully with a world in which personal forces are the starting-point of new effects. The only form of thing that we directly encounter, the only experience that we concretely have, is our own personal life. The only complete category of our thinking, our professors of philosophy tell us, is the category of personality, every other category being one of the abstract elements of that. And this systematic denial on science's part of personality as a condition of events, this rigorous belief that in its own essential and innermost nature our world is a strictly impersonal world, may, conceivably, as the whirligig of time goes round, prove to be the very defect that our descendants will be most surprised at in our own boasted science, the omission that to their eyes will most tend to make it look perspectiveless and short.
William James (The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy)
Existentialism is commonly associated with Left-Bank Parisian cafes and the ‘family’ of philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir who gathered there in the years immediately following the liberation of Paris at the end of World War II. One imagines offbeat, avant-garde intellectuals, attached to their cigarettes, listening to jazz as they hotly debate the implications of their new-found political and artistic liberty. The mood is one of enthusiasm, creativity, anguished self-analysis, and freedom – always freedom. Though this reflects the image projected by the media of the day and doubtless captures the spirit of the time, it glosses over the philosophical significance of existentialist thought, packaging it as a cultural phenomenon of a certain historical period. That is perhaps the price paid by a manner of thinking so bent on doing philosophy concretely rather than in some abstract and timeless manner. The existentialists’ urge for contemporary relevance fired their social and political commitment. But it also linked them with the problems of their day and invited subsequent generations to view them as having the currency of yesterday’s news. Such is the misreading of existentialist thought that I hope to correct in this short volume. If it bears the marks of its post-war appearance, existentialism as a manner of doing philosophy and a way of addressing the issues that matter in people’s lives is at least as old as philosophy itself. It is as current as the human condition which it examines.
Thomas R. Flynn (Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction)
Parents wonder if dissociation feels negative, since children describe themselves as numb. In fact, the numb feeling of dissociation is among the most common symptoms for which sufferers seek medication. It causes people to feel awful within their own being. It leaves people expressing that they are robotic, without normal feelings for others. While children cannot express the feeling in adult abstracts, children whom I have treated want to be rid of the “nothing feeling.” They say that it feels “weird” or “not good.” They also notice that they are angry shortly after the “nothing feeling” goes away.
Deborah D. Gray (Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents)
How useful is it to describe the world as it should be when efforts to achieve that world are bound to fall short? Was Václav Havel correct in suggesting that by raising expectations, I was doomed to disappoint them? Was it possible that abstract principles and high-minded ideals were and always would be nothing more than a pretense, a palliative, a way to beat back despair, but no match for the more primal urges that really moved us, so that no matter what we said or did, history was sure to run along its predetermined course, an endless cycle of fear, hunger and conflict, dominance and weakness?
Barack Obama (A Promised Land)
It did not fear any god the people constructed from marble and stone. It thrived on demoralizing the frightened prayers of the weak that clung to sanctuary walls. Its intoxication found in the terror, the superstition, and worship that fed its merciless existence. The night sky provided the nocturnal shelter where it walked freely. The festivals of the changing seasons, reminding the mere mortals their time upon its fields were short. Brief in comparison to the thousands of years that it casually passed. It ruled the Earth, long before the human animals learned to conquer shelter and formulate abstract thoughts. In the cave paintings of the most primitive, they feared to paint its imagery on stone.
Jaime Allison Parker (Storms In the Distant North)
Hammersley (2014) suggests that qualitative researchers aim to describe causation in one of two ways: 1. Create plausible models of causation using imaginative tools like metaphors literary devices, and thought experiments to explain how a thing might work in many different contexts, in abstract language 2. Conduct a deep analysis of observed, empirical data to generate
Sam Ladner (Mixed Methods: A short guide to applied mixed methods research)
The next day, she flew back to Moscow. If anyone loved long-distance flights, it was Nora. She loved it when you found yourself nowhere at all—in a sort of abstract space and an indeterminate, vacillating time, when, all of a sudden, all obligations, all promises cease. Everything is put on hold—telephone calls, the mail, requests, offers, complaints—they all stop short, and you hover, you fly, you soar between heaven and earth, between earth and the moon, between the earth and the sun. You fall out of your ordinary system of coordinates. You fly … as Tengiz, my soulmate, had; the only one I knew who had burst through all the boundaries of this world alive, and had learned to inhabit another world—the world of shadows … Tengiz … Love beyond touch, love outside of time.
Lyudmila Ulitskaya (Лестница Якова)
So it’s reasonable to ask, “Is there actually any reason to use abstract classes?” The short answer is “No.” Abstract classes in an API are suspicious and often indicate an unwillingness to invest more time in the proper API design. The longer answer is, “Well, there might be reasons to use abstract classes in APIs after all.
Jaroslav Tulach (Practical API Design: Confessions of a Java Framework Architect)
In short, Zweigen and Kotz summarise the differences between the Common Law and the Civil Law succinctly: To the lawyers from the Continent of Europe, English law has always been something rich and strange. At every step he comes across legal institutions, procedures, and traditions which have no counterpart in the Continental legal world with which he is familiar. Contrariwise, he scans the English legal scene in vain for much that seemed to him to be an absolute necessity in any functioning system, such as a civil code, a commercial code, a code of civil procedure, and an integrated structure of legal concepts rationally ordered. He finds that legal technique, instead of being directed primarily in interpreting statutory texts or analysing concrete problems so as to `fit them into the system` conceptually, is principally interested in precedents and types of case; it is devoted to the careful and realistic discussion of live problems and readier to deal in concrete and historical terms than think systematically or in the abstract.
Deborah Cao
Over the past thirty years the orthodox view that the maximisation of shareholder value would lead to the strongest economic performance has come to dominate business theory and practice, in the US and UK in particular.42 But for most of capitalism’s history, and in many other countries, firms have not been organised primarily as vehicles for the short-term profit maximisation of footloose shareholders and the remuneration of their senior executives. Companies in Germany, Scandinavia and Japan, for example, are structured both in company law and corporate culture as institutions accountable to a wider set of stakeholders, including their employees, with long-term production and profitability their primary mission. They are equally capitalist, but their behaviour is different. Firms with this kind of model typically invest more in innovation than their counterparts focused on short-term shareholder value maximisation; their executives are paid smaller multiples of their average employees’ salaries; they tend to retain for investment a greater share of earnings relative to the payment of dividends; and their shares are held on average for longer by their owners. And the evidence suggests that while their short-term profitability may (in some cases) be lower, over the long term they tend to generate stronger growth.43 For public policy, this makes attention to corporate ownership, governance and managerial incentive structures a crucial field for the improvement of economic performance. In short, markets are not idealised abstractions, but concrete and differentiated outcomes arising from different circumstances.
Michael Jacobs (Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth (Political Quarterly Monograph Series))
Whereas myth aims at an ultra-signification, at the amplification of a first system, poetry, on the contrary, attempts to regain an infra-signification, a pre-semiological state of language; in short, it tries to transform the sign back into meaning: its ideal, ultimately, would be to reach not the meaning of words, but the meaning of things themselves. This is why it clouds the language, increases as much as it can the abstractness of the concept and the arbitrariness of the sign and stretches to the limit the link between signifier and signified.
Roland Barthes (Mythologies)
We are becoming too solemn about downtown. The architects, planners—and businessmen—are seized with dreams of order, and they have become fascinated with scale models and bird’s-eye views. This is a vicarious way to deal with reality, and it is, unhappily, symptomatic of a design philosophy now dominant: buildings come first, for the goal is to remake the city to fit an abstract concept of what, logically, it should be. But whose logic? The logic of the projects is the logic of egocentric children, playing with pretty blocks and shouting “See what I made!”—a viewpoint much cultivated in our schools of architecture and design. And citizens who should know better are so fascinated by the sheer process of rebuilding that the end results are secondary to them.
Jane Jacobs (Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs)
May we not think of the two friends together in a College chamber, Addison of slender frame, with features wanting neither in dignity nor in refinement, Steele of robust make, with the radiant 'short face' of the 'Spectator', by right of which he claimed for that worthy his admission to the Ugly Club. Addison reads Dryden, in praise of whom he wrote his earliest known verse; or reads endeavours of his own, which his friend Steele warmly applauds. They dream together of the future; Addison sage, but speculative, and Steele practical, if rash. Each is disposed to find God in the ways of life, and both avoid that outward show of irreligion, which, after the recent Civil Wars, remains yet common in the country, as reaction from an ostentatious piety which laid on burdens of restraint; a natural reaction which had been intensified by the base influence of a profligate King. Addison, bred among the preachers, has a little of the preacher's abstract tone, when talk between the friends draws them at times into direct expression of the sacred sense of life which made them one.
Joseph Addison (The Spectator, Volume 1 Eighteenth-Century Periodical Essays)
when told that someone is painting a room, people who had just walked down a flight of stairs were more likely to think about the specific actions involved (“applying brushstrokes”), while people who had just walked up the stairs were more likely to think about the broader purpose behind the actions (“making the room look fresh”). This ability to think abstractly has been shown to promote creative thinking and help people adhere to their values when making complex decisions and resist short-term temptations that might sabotage long-term goals.
Ingrid Fetell Lee (Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness)
That sort of calculus is easy enough if the potential good is to unidentified people. It’s easy to dismiss a faceless abstraction. It’s much harder to look a real person in the eye and say: ‘For my belief in the inviolability of the eight-cell embryo you must die.’ That’s often what the ‘saviour sibling’ cases boil down to.
Charles Foster (Medical Law: A Very Short Introduction)
Ideas like cosmic justice, collective hope, and national redemption had no meaning for me. The truth was in the everything that came after atheism, after the amorality of the universe is taken not as a problem but as a given. It was then that I was freed from considering my own morality away from the cosmic and the abstract. Life was short, and death undefeated. So I loved hard, since I would not love for long.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
abstract boolean break byte case catch char class const continue debugger default do else enum export extends false final finally float for function goto if implements import in instanceof int interface let long native new null package private protected public return short super switch synchronized this throws transient true try typeof var void volatile while with Comments
Michael B. White (Mastering JavaScript: A Complete Programming Guide Including jQuery, AJAX, Web Design, Scripting and Mobile Application Development)
So from morning onward I’m kept company by pictures of weather fronts, lovely abstract lines on maps, blue ones and red ones, relentlessly approaching from the west, from over the Czech Republic and Germany. They carry the air that Prague was breathing a short while ago, maybe Berlin too. It flew in from the Atlantic and crept across the whole of Europe, so one could say we have sea air up here, in the mountains. I particularly love it when they show maps of pressure, which explain a sudden resistance to getting out of bed or an ache in the knees, or something else again—an inexplicable sorrow that has just the same character as an atmospheric front, a moody figura serpentinata within the Earth’s atmosphere.
Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead)
out of our insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need—we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travel becomes just another accessory—a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase in the same way we buy clothing and furniture. Not
Timothy Ferriss (Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers)
Whenever a noise exceeds our processing abilities—we can’t decipher all the different sound waves hitting our hair cells— the mind . . . stops trying to understand the individual notes and seeks instead to understand the relationships between the notes. The human auditory cortex pulls off this feat by using it's short- term memory for sound (in the left posterior hemisphere) to uncover patterns at the large level of the phrase, motif, and movement. This new approximation lets us extract order from all those notes haphazardly ͒flying through space, and the brain is obsessed with order . . . It is this psychological instinct—this desperate neuronal search for a pattern, any pattern, that is the source of music . . . We continually abstract on our own inputs, inventing patterns in order to keep pace with the onrush of noise. And once the brain ͒finds a pattern, it immediately starts to make predictions . . . It projects imaginary order into the future . . . The structure of music reflects the human brain’s penchant for patterns . . . But before a pattern can be desired by the brain, that pattern must play hard to get
Brian Boyd (On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction)
It is the impulse of science to understand nature, and the impulse of technology to try to manipulate it. Recombinant DNA had pushed genetics from the realm of science into the realm of technology. Genes were not abstractions anymore. They could be liberated from the genomes of organisms where they had been trapped for millennia, shuttled between species, amplified, purified, extended, shortened, altered, remixed, mutated, mixed, matched, cut, pasted, edited; they were infinitely malleable to human intervention. Genes were no longer just the subjects of study, but the instruments of study. There is an illuminated moment in the development of a child when she grasps the recursiveness of language: just as thoughts can be used to generate words, she realizes, words can be used to generate thoughts. Recombinant DNA had made the language of genetics recursive. Biologists had spent decades trying to interrogate the nature of the gene-but now it was the gene that could be used to interrogate biology. We had graduated, in short, from thinking about genes, to thinking in genes.
Siddhartha Mukherjee
Even though De Magnete was a technical treatise which dealt with rather abstract concepts, Gilbert’s work became a runaway bestseller and succeeded in confirming magnetism as a fashionable topic of conversation in the early 17th century.
Stephen J. Blundell (Magnetism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions, #317))
The development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s motivated physicists to tackle all the unsolved problems of physics with the new methods and see if they worked (they mostly did). But what was the evidence for any of this new way of thinking? The evidence that was persuasive at the time was a number of rather abstract physics experiments concerning the nature of atomic spectra or the interaction between light and metal surfaces. Each was important in its own way, but what ought to have played an important role in retrospect was something far, far simpler: the observation that magnets work. The crucial step was made by an unknown Dutch scientist called Hendreka van Leeuwen, and what she showed was that magnets couldn’t exist if you just use classical (i.e. pre-quantum) physics. Hendreka van Leeuwen’s doctoral work in Leiden was done under the supervision of Lenz and the work was published in the Journal de Physique et le Radium in 1921. Unfortunately, it subsequently transpired that her main result had been anticipated by Niels Bohr, the father of quantum mechanics, but as it had only appeared in his 1911 diploma thesis, written in Danish, it was unsurprising she hadn’t known about it. Their contribution, though conceived independently, is now known as the Bohr–van Leeuwen theorem, which states that if you assume nothing more than classical physics, and then go on to model a material as a system of electrical charges, then you can show that the system can have no net magnetization; in other words, it will not be magnetic. Simply put, there are no lodestones in a purely classical Universe.
Stephen J. Blundell (Magnetism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions, #317))
1940s in The Tiger’s Eye—a short-lived, adventuresome magazine that also featured work by Pollock, Rothko, and Still
Jed Perl (Art in America 1945-1970: Writings from the Age of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism)
At the present time, it is of course still impossible to foresee to any precise degree just what sections of the field of history will be illuminated and just how much light will be cast by a materialist investigation which would proceed from a more concrete study of the capitalist curve and the interrelationship between the latter and all the aspects of social life. Conquests that may be attained on this road can be determined only as the result of such an investigation itself, which must be more systematic, more orderly than those historical materialist excursions hitherto undertaken. In any case, such an approach to modern history promises to enrich the theory of historical materialism with conquests far more precious than the extremely dubious speculative juggling with the concepts and terms of the materialist method that has, under the pens of some of our Marxists, transplanted the methods of formalism into the domain of the materialist dialectic, and has led to reducing the task to rendering definitions and classifications more precise and to splitting empty abstractions into four equally empty parts; it has, in short, adulterated Marxism by means of the indecently elegant mannerisms of Kantian epigones. It is a silly thing indeed endlessly to sharpen and resharpen an instrument to chip away Marxist steel, when the task is to apply the instrument in working over the raw material!
Leon Trotsky
It seems therefore that our best attempts at explaining the beauty of works of abstract art like music and architecture involve linking them by chains of metaphor to human action, life and emotion. If we are to understand the nature of artistic meaning, therefore, we must first understand the logic of figurative language.
Roger Scruton (Beauty: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions))
A fair, sweet, and honest country face was revealed, reposing in a nest of wavy chestnut hair. It was between pretty and beautiful. Though her eyes were closed, one could easily imagine the light necessarily shining in them as the culmination of the luminous workmanship around. The groundwork of the face was hopefulness; but over it now I ay like a foreign substance a film of anxiety and grief. The grief had been there so shortly as to have abstracted nothing of the bloom, and had as yet but given a dignity to what it might eventually undermine. The scarlet of her lips had not had time to abate, and just now it appeared still more intense by the absence of the neighbouring and more transient colour of her cheek. The lips frequently parted, with a murmur of words. She seemed to belong rightly to a madrigal - to require viewing through rhyme and harmony.
Thomas Hardy (The Return of the Native)
Why, Neph, do they live on? Isn’t it better to be dead, to die quickly and with some honour than to be worked and beaten to death like a beast?” “No,” Neph answered shortly. “I don’t understand. I would die and welcome the dark lord Osiris.” “No, you wouldn’t,” Neph said. “But I tell you I would!” “Ah, yes, you tell me that. When life is full and sweet and young, as it is with a prince of the Great House, then the thought of surrendering it becomes an easy abstraction. You have so much life that you can be prodigal with it, Moses. But when life hangs by a thread, then by all the gods that be, it is nothing you give up easily! Life is the reason for life, as you will some day learn, and reason enough, you may be sure.
Howard Fast (Moses The Epic Story of His Rebellion in the Court of Egypt)
Many Native American traditions use the word "medicine" to refer to anything that has spiritual power and that keeps us walking in beauty. Each poem, short story and prose in this book is a remedy to the things that cause us to forget what walking in beauty feels like and empowers us to re-story our limiting and repetitive narrative into multi-dimensional abstracts of art from which we can heal ourselves and our collective through. These stories have been wildcrafted from the wilderness: the one within and without - the one above and below – the one we live in now and the one our ancestors call us back to through the eaves. They seam the two worlds together to make medicine for deep and restorative healing.
Sez Kristiansen (Story Medicine: symbolic remedy for every soul-sickness (Symbolic Sight Series Book 1))
The scenery that opened before me was composed of shades of black and white, and of trees woven together in lines along the boundaries between the fields. In places where the grass had not been cut, the snow had failed to blanket the fields in a uniform plane of white. Blades of grass were poking through its cover; from a distance it looked as if a large hand had begun to sketch an abstract pattern, by practicing some short strokes, fine and subtle. I could see the beautiful geometric shapes of fields, strips and rectangles, each with a different texture, each with its own shade, sloping at different angles toward the rapid winter Dusk. And our houses, all seven, were scattered here like a part of nature, as if they had sprung up with the field boundaries, and so had the stream and little bridge across it—it all seemed carefully designed and positioned, perhaps by the very same hand that had been sketching.
Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead)
While humans lack AI’s ability to analyze huge numbers of data points at the same time, people have a unique ability to draw on experience, abstract concepts, and common sense to make decisions. By contrast, in order for deep learning to function well, the following are required: massive amounts of relevant data, a narrow domain, and a concrete objective function to optimize. If you’re short on any one of these, things may fall apart.
Kai-Fu Lee (AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future)