ETYM Cf. French abstraction. Related to Abstract.
1. The process of formulating general concepts by abstracting common properties of instances; SYN. generalization.
2. A general concept formed by extracting common features from specific examples.
3. An abstract painting.
4. The act of extracting something; SYN. extraction.
5. A concept or idea not associated with any specific instance; SYN. abstract.
In philosophy, the process by which universals and concepts are formed in our minds or by which we acquire general words. Many modern philosophers, following Ludwig Wittgenstein, hold that no concepts are acquired by abstraction, because the meaning of a word is its public use, not a private idea.
Aristotle held that circularity does not exist apart from circular things, and that we acquire the abstraction of circularity by induction—that is, by generalizing from coins, hoops, and wheels. English philosopher John Locke thought that the meaning of a general word, such as “triangle”, was an abstract idea in the mind.