From the free dictionary on line: abstraction: the process of formulating generalized ideas or concepts by extracting common qualities from specific examples
Suppose we have it backwards. Suppose the ancient Greeks, Plato on the ground, and the gods on Olympus were closer to the truth, but like us, constrained in our imagination by the limits of our language. Suppose all those little concrete specific examples, those things and experiences that we connect to different abstractions are not examples of some abstraction, but function in this realm as manifestations of the abstractions.
The seven deadly sins illuminated in the Western Middle Ages walk our city streets sheathed in our fleshy personhood. And so do the virtues of Love and Justice. they make themselves known via our behaviors with each other. That is to say, they come to life in us.
Perhaps they are restless roaming the ether and long to engage each other, long for the vitality available only through the physicality of life. The other animals are too simple in their construction. Only us humans are complex enough to carry them all in each of us.
When we feel the tensions of conflicting desires, the temptations offered by a momentary lustful affair vs. the creative construction of a faithful relationship, are these abstractions wrestling within us for the opportunity to come alive in action. Are abstractions like players in a game, some on the field, others eager to be in it, to be stars?
So, is that it? Is that what we are, vehicles for all the virtues and vices that we learn about in our philosophies, and religions, among our family and friends, our colleagues and our competitors? Is that why we learn about them? Are we simply being used to give life to abstractions? And if there is “truth” in all of this, some sort of “truth”, isn’t there also then some sort of “opportunity” for some kind of “glory” in living fully into what we may be?