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**Failure** Maybe it would be a useful exercise for you to inquire a little more deeply into how some of the currently more abstract theories, like the theory of groups, rings, and fields, vector spaces, set theoretical topology, and category theory and the like have come about. This would give you an idea of how the process of finding higher, but still useful (not sterile) abstractions over time in practice works.

For example, over time, people notice that a great many theorems of several existing theories could be proven for all those theories at once, if one happened to introduce a suitably chosen common abstraction of all of them. So that new abstraction would have to catch enough details to still allow substantial proofs to be formulated.

There are books about these developments, I just haven't got any references handy. So this would be under the rubric: history of mathematics (but not beginning with Babylonian mathematics, perhaps).