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ABSTINENTS
ABTHAIN
74

such as the lungs, liver, and kidneys—is greatly to be desired in all persons, but particularly in those suffering from acute infectious and inflammatory diseases. Those who lead a physically active life, like the manual labourer, seem to need animal food more continuously and feel its temporary withdrawal more acutely than the sedentary or brain worker. Here, also, the important element is the personal equation. The history of mankind seems to show that while the meat eating nations of the earth have been the most powerful, aggressive, and sanguinary (growing, in other words, like the things they feed on), yet they have been and continue to be conservative forces in civilization, prolific and enduring contributors to the arts and sciences, and, in the final analysis, strenuous upholders of civil and religious liberty and morality. The dietetic question raised by some as the result of the late Russo-Japanese War means nothing as a basis of comparison. It is a well-known fact that battles have been fought, and lost, and won, alike by men suffering from too much, too little, or no food at all. Wars and their eventualities depend, not so much on foods as on civil, religious, and politico-economical conditions. The medical and scientific world of today seems to be well satisfied (1) that while man, by structure and development, is omnivorous, there is too much animal food consumed by the average individual, particularly in large centers of population. (2) That owing to this large consumption of food, which has an amount of waste out of proportion to its nutritive value, the vital organs are overtaxed in their excretory functions, and that consequently, human life and usefulness is very frequently curtailed. (3) That this over-ingestion of animal food is in some way—as yet undetermined—closely associated with the rapid increase of diseases like cancer. (4) That over-feeding—particularly with strong, meaty foods—together with lack of proper muscular exercise have much to do with the question of so-called "race suicide". This last suggestion arises from the well known analogy between the reproductive processes in human and brute animals. Too much and too rich food combined with physical inactivity has a tendency to replace (by a process of degeneration) the muscular fibres of the reproductive organs by fat cells, and hence render such organs either sterile or incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term.

Yarrell in Harvey, The Sea Side Book (1857), Chapter on Fish and Fish Diet; Lichtenfelt, Ueber die chemische Zusammensetzung einiger Fischarten, etc. (Archw. Physiol. de Menschen, Bonn. 1904); Latham, Milbank Penitentiary (1823); Sloane, Med. Gaz., XVII, 389; McNaughton, Am. Jour. of Med. Sci. VI, 543; French Academy, Archives génér. de médecine, XXVII, 130, s. v. Pestilence and Famine in Ireland, 1847; Human Foods (U.S. Agricultural Dep't Year Book, 1894), 547–558; (1895), 573–580; (1897), 676–682; Densmore, How Nature Cures; The Natural Food of Man (London, 1892), X, 61–413; Kalle, Nutrition Tables (1892); Thompson, Diet (London, 1902); Annales d'hygiène publique (1902); Nutrition Investigations, U.S. Gov. (1894–1904); Caspari, Physiologische Studien über Vegetarismus Archiv. f.d. gesammte Physiol, (Bonn, 1905), CIX, 475–595.

Abstinents. See Priscillianists.

Abstraction (Lat. abs, from; trahere, to draw) is a process (or a faculty) by which the mind selects for consideration some one of the attributes of a thing to the exclusion of the rest. With some writers, including the Scholastics, the attributes selected for attention are said to be abstracted; with others, as Kant and Hamilton, the term is applied to the exclusion of the attributes which are ignored; the process, however, is the same in both cases. The simplest-seeming things are complex, i.e. they have various attributes; and the process of abstraction begins with sensation, as sight perceives certain qualities; taste, others; etc. From the dawn of intelligence the activity progresses rapidly, as all of our generalizations depend upon the abstraction from different objects of some phase, or phases, which they have in common. A further and most important step is taken when the mind reaches the stage where it can handle its abstractions such as extension, motion, species, being, cause, as a basis for science and philosophy, in which, to a certain extent at least, the abstracted concepts are manipulated like the symbols in algebra, without immediate reference to the concrete. This process is not without its dangers of fallacy, but human knowledge would not progress far without it. It is, therefore, evident that methods of leading the mind from the concrete to the abstract, as well as the development of a power of handling abstract ideas, are matters of great importance in the science of education.

With this account of the place of abstraction in the process of knowledge, most philosophers—and all who base knowledge on experience—are in substantial agreement. But they differ widely concerning the nature and validity of abstract concepts themselves. A widely prevalent view, best represented by the Associationist school, is that general ideas are formed by the blending or fusing of individual impressions. The most eminent Scholastics, however, following Aristotle, ascribe to the mind in its higher aspect a power (called the Active Intellect) which abstracts from the representations of concrete things or qualities the typical, ideal, essential elements, leaving behind those that are material and particular. The concepts thus formed may be very limited in content, and they vary in number and definiteness with the knowledge of particulars; but the activity of the faculty is always spontaneous and immediate; it is never a process of blending the particular representations into a composite idea, much less a mere grouping of similar things or attributes under a common name. The concept thus obtained represents an element that is universally realized in all members of the class, but it is recognized formally as a universal only by means of further observation and comparison. The arguments for the existence of such a faculty are not drawn from a study of its actual operation, which eludes our powers of introspection, but from an analysis of its results. Its defenders rely mainly on the fact that we possess definite universal concepts, as of a triangle, which transcend the vague floating images that represent the fusion of our individual representations; and also on the element of universality and necessity in our judgments. It is in connection with this latter point that the question is of most importance, as systems of philosophy which reject this power of direct abstraction of the universal idea are naturally more or less sceptical about the objective validity of our universal judgments.

Porter, The Human Intellect (New York, 1869), 377–430; Maher, Psychology (London and New York, 1900), 294, 307, 310; Spencer, Psychology (New York, 1898), I, viii; Mill, Logic (London and New York, 1898), I, ii; IV, ii; Mivart, The Origin of Human Reason (London, 1889), ii; Van Becelaere, The Philos. Rev., Nov., 1903; Newman, Grammar of Assent (London 1898), viii; Bowne, Theory of Thought and Knowledge (New York, 1897), xi; Bain, Education as a Science (New York, 1879), vii; Sully, Teacher's Psychology (New York, 1887), xii, xiii.

Abthain (or Abthane), an English or Lowland Scotch form of the middle-Latin word abthania (Gaelic, abdhaine), meaning abbacy. The exact sense of the word being lost, it was presumed to denote some ancient dignity, the holder of which was called abthanus or abthane. Dr. W. V. Skene (Historians of Scotland, IV; Fordun, II, 413) holds that the correct meaning of abthain (or abthane) is not "abbot" or "over-thane", but "abbey" or "monastery." The word has special reference to the territories of the churches and monasteries founded by the old Celtic or Columban monks, mostly between the