Where in the Jewish scriptures and law can praise for abstract thinking be found? Presumably this has something to do with why so many Nobel prize winners are Jewish. Thanks.
anyone who has studied Talmud in a serious yeshiva knows that the intricatelaws cannot be understood without tremendous amount and depth of analytical thought so it's kind of built into the system. It is a duty from scripture and also from reason to study torah deeply. Here's a source on the latter from the chovos halevavos gate 8 ch.3
To bring oneself to an accounting for delaying coming to understand the book of G-d's torah, and his being contented not to grasp its matters.
And one would not do this for a book that was sent to him from a king. If he had a doubt as to its meaning due to its unclear handwriting or words, or due to the depth of its matter, or its subtlety, or confusing mix of subjects or its enigmatic words. Rather, he would apply his whole heart and mind to understand its meaning, and would greatly pain himself until he understood its intent.
If he does this to understand the words of a weak, mortal man like himself, how much is it his duty to do many times more than this until he understands the book of G-d, which is his life and his salvation (from eternal death - Pas Lechem), as written "For it is your life and the length of your days" (Devarim 30:20). How did you permit yourself, my brother, to hide from it, and to content yourself from it with that which is readily familiar of its matter and revealed of its surface meaning, and you were lenient with (knowing) the rest.
Advancing the frontiers of human knowledge is not necessarily a function of domain abstraction but may relate to the ability to self-identify with the dischord caused by seemingly insurmountable problems.
If your perceived life is dependent on determining why the universe disagrees with you, you are more likely to achieve a breakthrough than if you are a scientist with a day job.