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?

Examples of Reification:

The idea of "capital"

The idea of the "market"

The idea of "commodity fetishism"


The idea of "God"

The Enlightenment wounded the beast, but the killing blow has yet to land...