Student or Learner
In Richard Dawkins' book The Greatest Show on Earth, I found these phrases: "the perfect idea of rabbit", "the ideal essence of rabbit". Here are the full sentences:
"The rabbits that we see are wan shadows of the perfect 'idea' of rabbit, the ideal, essential, Platonic rabbit..."
"Flesh-and-blood rabbits may vary, but their variations are always to be seen as flawed derivations from the ideal essence of rabbit."
Would these expressions still be grammatical with "a" or "the" added before rabbit in them? If so, would the meaning be any different?
Maybe you could say "the perfect idea of a rabbit", with the same meaning, however, as I said, I still prefer by far the author's choice.
Which one of the rabbit ocurrences precisely would you like to analyse?
Do not forget that the article "a" cannot be used in front of plural nouns.
PS Not a native speaker