Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Our Reading & Reification Fallacy


The delusion is extraordinary by which we exalt language above nature:-
making language the expositor of nature,
instead of making nature the expositor of language. ― Alexander B Johnson

Since l stumbled upon a perception shifting book in 2007, this quote has been a guiding mantra. While a visceral grasp of Johnson's aphoristic ― short pithy comment full of meaning ― has involved a struggle with my human nature. As I wrestled with how language creates a perennial problem of experiential blindness, and why reading compounds a reification-fallacy inherent in language.

Right up to February this year, it felt like l was banging my head against the wall of what reification actually means, a bit like an orthodox Jew reading a famous book before a wall in Jerusalem. Which Freud and Jung may have described as the word formulations of a belief system providing hope in the present and for the future.

Yet, does this picture speak a thousand words about an anti-Semitism and religious dogma? Or does it portray the paradox of perception Jewish prophets warned against in their attempts to usher in a messianic age of peace and prosperity for all humanity?

The hopeful future that has recently compelled me to ask people what they believe they are witnessing during the birth of each new day. And when one or more people engage in conversation about how the word sunrise compliments our visual experience, we often agree, upon reflection, that the word has an outdated flat-earth context.

Sometimes we chat about the meaning of this word reification and how difficult it is to kick the subconscious habit of believing words are true definitions of reality. And other times people tell me not to take existential truths so seriously, because l should be old enough to realize that life is just a game. “No wonder you’re alone,” people say.

Yet, right now, are you recognizing these words so quickly and easily that you take your reading skill completely for granted? How fast are you reading them? Are you reading on a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone and how quickly are you satisfying your well adapted skill with a quick recognition of signifying words?

Questions that take us into the existential meaning of reification and whether we suffer from a reading and reification fallacy that manifests a form of experiential blindness? Bringing us face to face with the reality of what the word day means, for example. Is the reality of any day defined by words like Tuesday or Friday?

Does this feel like a too obvious and silly question? An insult to your intellect and literacy skills? The ego insult and injury in such questions have been part my own wrestle with my human nature and the psychological sense that I am my mind. And with all due respect this post is an attempt to pause the automatic behavior of your mind.

A mind that sits atop the very summit of mother nature’s adaptive fitness agenda and the miracle of life within our Milky Way galaxy and this unique Solar system. A mind capable, as the metaphorical history of wisdom suggests, of turning its capacity for attention + awareness towards discerning how our own consciousness creates an existential prison, as an experiential form of imaginary-blindness. 

A problem explored in a video titled, Our Reading Reification Sin Against Reality:

This video examines consciousness and the peculiarly human form of blindness created by the reification fallacy inherent in thought, spoken and written language. Examining the way our adaptive capacity to learn behaviors functions as humanity’s unique gift and curse. With a focus on the way reading compounds the reification fallacy inherent in language.

For example, wherever you are right now, turn your attention to the objects around you and notice the first thing that comes to mind as your eyes catch sight of each object. How long does your sight take to comprehend each object? Are you dwelling on the sight of one particular object? Is your attention shifting between objects?

Are there technology devices within sight? A flat-screen television or a DVD player that you might meditate on from the outside-inside, seen and unseen nature of perception discussed in the previous post? Does it feel boring or wasteful to look at an object longer than it takes to name it? 

And where does the name of any object come from within the experience of reality we call our mind? Is it created by your imagination and memory? Do you think about what’s inside technology devices or how they create images on a screen?

And are you thinking, “how do these questions relate to a reading and reification fallacy or imaginary-blindness?” How do these images of technology relate to how people create an existential prison? 

They relate to our adaptive social nature and learning to internalize the names that enable us to communicate within family groups and society. With these images meant to suggest that as creatures of habit we pay attention to the surface impression names because we don’t need to be aware of the wholeness of any form of reality? 

Just as we do with ourselves and each other? Hence, in the context of how a 2D paper map can only symbolize the 3 dimensional nature of objective reality. The reification question is, do our literacy skills reify reality by diminishing our innate capacity for three and 4 dimensional perception?

And as the one most adaptive creatures on the planet, can you imagine the way your reading & reification fallacy began early in your life? As we contemplate how the image below conveys a universal sense of how of young children learn book reading all over the world. Remembering how this process compliments the ideas and words our parents teach us to form our surface impressions of reality?

While asking ourselves whether our ideas and the names we use to identify things developed our minds-eye view of the world around us? And do we take a 2 dimensional form of perception for granted because it enables us to communicate? Do we, as Alexander B Johnson suggests, learn to adapt to our social world by unwittingly exalting language above nature? And does our adaptation to the consensus-reality of our social world manifest a form of experiential blindness and an existential prison for each of us?

Or does the consensus-reality created by language form a cocoon-like perception we can transcend? Do the conventions of language create boundaries to a real-time perception of the 4 dimensional nature of reality? And as David Mitchell suggests in his popular book CLOUD ATLAS, can we transcend the conventional perceptions of language by conceiving a way to do so?

Can we learn how to escape the reading and reification fallacy of a cocoon-like form of consciousness? As we explore the flow-state nature of our conscious attention + awareness in the next chapter/post.

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