If I could get rid of ONE thing in the world…

The human habit of using the logical fallacy of reification. Let’s stop doing it!

Reification, in short, is mistaking the map for the territory, that is, mistaking a concept for a real-world thing. Hallucination is the most extreme practical example of the fallacy of reification.

The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness or Reification

The fallacy of misplaced concreteness is a fallacy formulated by Alfred Whitehead in his book Process and Reality (1929), and refers to the error of mistaking the abstract for the concrete. Whitehead explains the fallacy in a discussion on the spacial location of objects. He states that a concrete physical object in the universe does not possess the character of simple location without reference to its relations to other objects, and to think of a spatial point as being anything other than an abstraction is a mistake. In other words, people tend to mistake abstract concepts for accurate descriptions of reality.

Whitehead, A.N. (1929) “Process and reality”, New York: Harper

Most ideologies are based on this fallacy, and depend on concepts such as (but certainly not limited to)

  • “Morality”.
  • “Values”
  • In-group /  out-group distinctions

Consider: if the human race based all of its thinking on that which was observable and testable, and refused to mistake the ideas in our minds for external realities, we’d have many fewer ideologies, no religions, far, far fewer psychological problems.

Yep. That’d be my choice.


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