22r | CR Book VIII, Chapter 4 - Reifications [1940]

Attachment to a multiplicity of separate objects is
greatly facilitated by our tendency to reify obj-
ective data. Reification (hypostas-ation; Ver-selbst-
ständigung) is the tendency of natural man to sup-
perimpose on the concrete flux of conditions, activi-
ties, sense data by abstraction a superstructure of
relatively independent 'things'.

It is at least threefold. (1) 'Things' are set up a-
gainst conditions (bk 2 ch 5), relations (bk 8 ch 3),
and against their appearances and perspectives. Sen-
sations are habitually and spontaneously used to
identify 'things' with, they are treated as signs of
'things'. A number of sensory, emotional, intellectual
& volitional reactions are organised round a what-
for-quality, a word, and often a point in space where
the sense data are believed to coalesce, - and thus
become the sign of a thing. (2) A 'person' is set up
against a) the complex of elements, chemical, physical,
and other (5 skandhas, 18 dhatus); b) the species (bk
2 ch 4), the specific environment (bk 9 ch 2), and li-
fe as a whole; c) society, and the relations to other
social facts which determine, and largely constitute
it. (3) A certain, not very clearly defined, number of
mental reactions is reified as a 'soul'. The 'soul'
magically conceived, is a kind of subtle thing, capa-
ble of moving about independently on its own. It is
not clearly marked off against airy spirit forms,
wind etc.

Philosophical thought partly tries to justify these
reifications, and partly it goes beyond them. A set
of abstract entities, unknown to commonsense, makes
its appearance. they either replace the popular re-
ifications, or are added on to them.

(1) Philosophers are disappointed with the kind of
support things offer to their actions, and thoughts,
and dissatisfied with the kind of actions they su-
pport. They then either make the 'thing' give up its
appearances and outposts, and certain 'substances'
(bk 8 ch 2), essences etc, or they reify their 'being'-
aspect, as Being itself. (2) The person is more strict-
ly defined as an 'individual'. (3) The 'soul' becomes
the 'Ego' or the 'Self' - historically, in India before
600 B.C.; in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries,
when the 'soul', deprived of its organic functions, was
thinned down to 'consciousness', when the change from
ontology to epistemology shifted the interest from