Ab*strac"tion (?), n. [Cf. F.
abstraction. See Abstract, a.]
1. The act of abstracting, separating, or withdrawing,
or the state of being withdrawn; withdrawal.
A wrongful abstraction of wealth from certain members
of the community.
J. S. Mill.
2. (Metaph.) The act process of leaving out
of consideration one or more properties of a complex object so as to attend
to others; analysis. Thus, when the mind considers the form of a tree by
itself, or the color of the leaves as separate from their size or figure,
the act is called abstraction. So, also, when it considers
whiteness, softness, virtue, existence, as
separate from any particular objects.
☞ Abstraction is necessary to classification, by which
things are arranged in genera and species. We separate in idea the
qualities of certain objects, which are of the same kind, from others which
are different, in each, and arrange the objects having the same properties
in a class, or collected body.
Abstraction is no positive act: it is simply the
negative of attention.
Sir W. Hamilton.
3. An idea or notion of an abstract, or theoretical
nature; as, to fight for mere abstractions.
4. A separation from worldly objects; a recluse
life; as, a hermit's abstraction.
5. Absence or absorption of mind; inattention to
6. The taking surreptitiously for one's own use
part of the property of another; purloining. [Modern]
7. (Chem.) A separation of volatile parts by
the act of distillation. Nicholson.