The Mysteries of the Unconscious Mind: Reification

I'll be making a special segment of my blog into "The Mysteries of the Unconscious Mind." Enjoy!

In common parlance the terms unconscious and subconscious are used as if they expressed some kind of scientific or even religious certainty. This may be convenient. We wouldn't get too far if we were forever stopping to analyze every word we use. Tacit conceptual agreements make conversations smooth and newspaper articles easier to read. Obviously there's some benefit to this kind of collective unthinking.

But there's a shortcoming too. All too often our socially accepted terms become more than mere tropes and catch phrases. The repeated use of a concept in everyday life can lead to reification. Reification occurs when ideas are assumed to represent some real entity or thing—for instance, the sociological idea of the state. Reified concepts may even point to detailed legal entities. But the question remains: Does the thing written and talked about exist as described?

Dissident1's picture

Controlling human behaviour

It has long been the case that people have sought to use law to control the behaviours of other people.

Take alcohol prohibition, for instance. There was a mass appeal, particularly by religious zealots, to deter people from drinking alcohol. "I don't drink, so you can't drink either" was the line of thought. In order to get legislators to listen and enact the probationary laws, consumption of alcoholic beverages was presented as being the cause of crime and corruption.

Of course, such feeble connections rarely hold true. After the enaction of probationary laws, however, anyone who obtained and consumed alcoholic beverages were committing "criminal" activities. Thus, the connection between alcohol and criminal activity became standard.

StMichael's picture

Just for reference...

Here they are, straight outa 'da Summa Theologica of the Angelic Doctor:

I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

Dissident1's picture

The Medical Establishment

I have noticed that every hospital I ever see is invariably linked in some way to a christian church organisation. In a community of hospitals here, there are like two or three methodist hospitals, a baptist hospital, a lutheran hospital, and several "St." hospitals.

Does that mean that medicine and medical technology is being controlled by religious organisations? Is the medical establishment invariably a religious entity?

I understand that the early beginnings of what came to be hospitals were religious establishments where priests would pray to the gods (hellenistic) and perform rituals that were supposed to bring healing to the sick. But, in our postenlightenment era, you would think that there would be more hospitals built by scientific establishments instead of having all of them built by religious organisations.

I just found out what an Ontological arguement was...

I faked being sick from work today because I didn't feel like going, so I decided to learn some philosophy!! Yay! And I finally figured out what this "ontological argument" was, and boy, is it ridiculous! Mind games, delusional mind games. It's sad to know that people were so delusional as to come up with an idea like that. You could create any number of imagined things! Even Thomas Aquinas knew this argument was bunk! An ontological argument seems to be the loophole of all loopholes. Kinda like saying that "since in the Bible it says God is real, and the Bible is never wrong, then God is real! ZOMG so easy."

StMichael's picture

Ahh, wonderful...

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing make you afraid. All things pass away. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone is enough.

Saint Teresa of Avila

Also, the Carthusian motto:

"Stat Crux Dum Volvitur Orbis"

The Cross Stands While The World Turns

StMichael's picture

Theist spotting

Apparently, my true nature as a theist was spotted. Oh, darn, my game is up...

skeptic griggsy's picture

The definitive refutation of the free will argument

Iruko makes the Meslier-Martin-Lamberth argument that if Heaven is so good , why not Heaven on Earth? Nelson Pike adumbrates that we would be robots if we could not do wrong and therefore, we would not be moral beings.But the same would have to true in Heaven! So, theists special plead that God has to have epistemic distance from us, the hidden god and we have to pass horrendous tests. No rational being cares for worship , so the epistemic distance argument is wrongheaded.The tests are excrutiating at times .Parents put thier children into as safe and good as places as possible without tests.So God is less than a good father .A loving god would not have tempted mankind with the tree.If being a moral being is right , then moral beings should have a knowledge of right and wrong.

WolfinWolfsClothing's picture


Anybody know when the last day will be? I heared from a lot of fundamentalist preachers that it was supposed to be Jan 1st, 2001 (new millenium and all, although I also heared 1/1/2000) and that clearly didn't happen. Is there a date in the bible? Are there any hints/clues to the last day? I want to make sure I stock up on batteries and soap, and that my rations don't go out of date. I am not a christian, so Jesus is going to judge me, and earth will (apparently) be a pretty bad place to be, so I want to try and provide my family with a comfortable few last days before we burn for eternity. My nephew, Johnny, is as smart as a whip (he's 11 now) and suggested that I convert so we can all go to heaven, but unfortunately I refuse to, as I work on Sundays, enjoy wine and cigarrettes, have tattoos, and I had a vasectomy so I wouldn't pass my genes on (psychological problems run in my family, and I don't want my kids to suffer.) to any children. If anyone has some good information about the scheduling of the Rapture, I would be interested. Are there any signs to look for? Is the Almighty waiting for humanity to do something in particular? Also, after me and my family have been doomed to the lake of fire, can we 'cut loose' at that point, or should we try to keep it together? We are all decent people -- we are polite, we vote, we volunteer (I work for the YMCA), and we obey the laws of our government and community. I just want to know when and how bad this thing is gonna be for us -- the Loma Prieata earthquake was about a 6 on a 'scary' scale of 1 to 10.

WolfinWolfsClothing's picture

Webster, not Robertson

This undertaking of the onus of definition is a common tactic amongst the evangelical crowd. Simply put, they would much rather the world hear their message than the truth, so they co-opt legitimate, cogent disciplines (ie evolution, philosophy, skepticism, life, history, sciences of all kinds, et cetra) and terms, redifining them to suit their desires. Evolution becomes "Man from Monkeys", History is liberalized and granted irrefutability through any text, and Biological Life apparently neccesitates a non-physical component called a "Soul

This is, of course, completely rediculous. Rediculousness is expected of theists --those who simultaneously entertain contradicting truths; this is one of the corner-stones of any theistic religion. However, this practice of hijacking arguments has a far more dangerous implication of hypocracy for the superstitious community; that is, while they quote any number of versions of biblical scripture as indesputable and supremely authoritative on the definitions applied to the faith, they fail to recognize the legitimacy of far more concrete refference material -- namely, the dictionary. The theistic religious community has been renowned for taking liberties with definitions in order to facilitate their manipulation of thought and propagandizing. By undermining the authority of the dictionary, and controlling the implications of specific language, they have created an economy of the dichotomy of meaning, and rendered confusing and doubtful the specific and lucid meanings of important terms.

Syndicate content