Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concepts are derived from the usage and classification of specific examples, literal (“real” or “concrete”) signifiers, first principles, or other methods.
“An abstraction” is the outcome of this process—a concept that acts as a super-categorical noun for all subordinate concepts, and connects any related concepts as a group, field, or category.
Conceptual abstractions may be formed by filtering the information content of a concept or an observable phenomenon, selecting only the aspects which are relevant for a particular subjectively valued purpose. For example, abstracting a leather soccer ball to the more general idea of a ball selects only the information on general ball attributes and behavior, excluding, but not eliminating, the other phenomenal and cognitive characteristics of that particular ball. In a type–token distinction, a type (e.g., a ‘ball’) is more abstract than its tokens (e.g., ‘that leather soccer ball’). Abstraction in its secondary use is a material process, discussed in the themes below.