ersatz_read (ersatz_read) wrote in 1word1day,


reify (r-f, r-f), verb.  To regard or treat an abstraction as if it had concrete or material existence.

For example, a frightened child might reify darkness as a tangible menace.

Stephen Jay Gould has described the intelligence quotient (IQ) as a reification of the abstract concept of intelligence.
Models and metaphors can be sources of reification, and this can lead to logical fallacies. 
"The price of metaphor is eternal vigilance." (Arturo Rosenblueth and Norbert Wiener)

The term 'reification' is used in linguistics, Marxist theory, and computer science.  For example (showing my age), in the C programming language, the memory address can be reified and then manipulated.

Etymology:  About 1850, from Latin res, thing.  Probably from res facere (roughly, "thing making").

"As we have now seen, once intangibles like 'religion' become reified, our experience is that the concepts have taken on 'lives of their own.'  In the minds of many, 'religion' has become an independent actor that makes choices and governs our lives; we seem to be helpless in the face of it."
 - from More Moral than God:  Taking Responsibility for Religious Violence, by Charlene P. E. Burns
Tags: latin, r, verb, wordsmith: ersatz_read

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