of a concept or idea not associated with any specific instance
or more rarely:
describing someone as distracted -- thinking about something outside of the immediate conversation or circumstances
As he touched it, he realized suddenly that he had thought of an abstraction called "his wife"-not of the woman to whom he was married.
"Friendships," said Taggart in the tone of an idle abstraction, "are more valuable than gold."
A circle, she thought, is the movement proper to physical nature, they say that there’s nothing but circular motion in the inanimate universe around us, but the straight line is the badge of man, the straight line of a geometrical abstraction that makes roads, rails and bridges, the straight line that cuts the curving aimlessness of nature by a purposeful motion from a start to an end.
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We all agree that we want what’s "best for the country", but that is an abstract concept and we cannot agree on which specific laws should be passed.
Miss Taggart, you are using an abstract term, when we are dealing with a matter of practical reality.
They are incapable of conceiving of such a thing as abstract science.
Do you realize what a feat of pure, abstract science he had to perform before he could make his motor?
Miss Taggart, don’t you think that this is a case where one cannot afford to indulge in abstract theory, but must consider practical reality?
If you want to see an abstract principle, such as moral action, in material form-there it is.
I was only discussing the general political picture from an abstract sociological viewpoint which-
An abstract, theoretical, academic, cloistered, ivory-tower philosopher…… Yes, Robert Stadler loved them.
He does not seek to …. What’s the matter?" he asked, seeing the look on Rearden’s face, a look of intensity much beyond mere interest in an abstract discussion.
As if refusing to believe that the formulas could fail, Philip burst out with: "Since when did you take to abstract philosophy?
"Did it ever occur to you, Miss Taggart," said Galt, in the casual tone of an abstract discussion, but as if he had known her thoughts, "that there is no conflict of interests among men, neither in business nor in trade nor in their most personal desires-if they omit the irrational from their view of the possible and destruction from their view of the practical?
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Dr. Ferris was astonished to hear him say slowly, in the dispassionate tone of an abstract statement that did not seem to be addressed to his listener, "But all your calculations rest on the fact that Miss Taggart is a virtuous woman, not the slut you’re going to call her.