The Echoes of the Mind – Objectification


We have a pronounced inclination to conceptualize existence as a diversity of objects. This world of objects may either be exploited in some fashion toward gratifying some desire or represent some potential hazard. Some objects are considered to offer both potentials. For some men women fall into this category.

The true man wants two things: danger and play. For that reason, he wants woman, as the most dangerous plaything. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, who was no ladies’ man

Beyond posing peril, the mind is geared to pay attention to objects over which some manipulation may be exercised and disregard objects beyond control.

Graspable objects grab attention. ~ American psychologist Jacqueline Snow

The nature of objects is commonly presumed to be within the realm of observation. We tend to naïvely believe that the faculties of other life forms are on display, and to view other life as only as mentally capable as can be witnessed.

From a social perspective, objectification is a process of subjugation, where other people are treated as objects: means to ends. This process begins with mind perception.


Jīva (a living being) is called so because he sees the world. A dreamer sees many jīvas in a dream, but all of them are not real. The dreamer alone exists and he sees all. So it is with the individual and the world. There is the creed of only one Self, which is also called the creed of only one jīva. It says that the jīva is the only one who sees the whole world and the jīvas therein. ~ Indian guru Ramana Maharshi (The Vedic doctrine of drishti-srishti-vada, an offshoot of Advaita Vedanta, is that the phenomenal world is a product of the mind.)

None of us has access to other minds. The only one with sure possession of a mind is oneself.

The philosophic perspective that the only mind that exists is one’s own is termed solipsism. Logically overcoming solipsism involves solving the problem of other minds, which is intractable. Yet getting past the puzzle of solipsism proves no problem, despite being irrefutable: everyone simply disbelieves it.

As against solipsism it is to be said, in the first place, that it is psychologically impossible to believe, and is rejected in fact even by those who mean to accept it. The fact that I cannot believe something does not prove that it is false, but it does prove that I am insincere and frivolous if I pretend to believe it. ~ English philosopher Bertrand Russell

Inferences about the mental states of other people – mentalizing – is the locus of social thought and behavior. Having only indirect information – communications and other behaviors – requires a leap from the observable to the imaginable: a chasm crossed so routinely that people often seem unaware that any bridge has been traversed.

Once formed, the ability to think about other minds is so proficient that other minds appear almost everywhere that people look, from pets that become loving and considerate, to technological gadgets that become obstinate and vindictive, to gods that have goals and plans for one’s life. If reasoning about other minds is a problem, it resembles an addiction more than a conundrum. ~ American psychologists Nicholas Epley & Adam Waytz

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Human nature abhors a lack of predictability and absence of meaning. ~ American psychologist Thomas Gilovich

Mind perception aims to get a handle on a body of attention, with the aspiration of lessening uncertainty about it. The first steps in currying favor, wheedling a deal, or bringing something to heel, is sensing what it wants and how it will react.

As our environment is often a social one, we seek to understand and predict the behaviors of others. Mentalizing is the basic tool to do so.

Mind perception is critical to the relational capacities of empathy, compassion, trust, cooperation, and strategic interaction. ~ Nicholas Epley & Adam Waytz

Interpreting facial expressions, inferring intentions, and detecting deception are all accomplished by projecting mental states. Mentalizing is how interpersonal relations are managed.

Communication inherently involves getting information from one person’s head to that of another to achieve shared understanding, a task that at least implicitly requires considering another person’s desires, beliefs, intentions, and knowledge. ~ Nicholas Epley & Adam Waytz

The metaphysical language of the mind provides satisfactory answers to explain the self-propulsions of others, which is why people are so readily inclined to explain others in terms of underlying mental states. Doing otherwise is practically impossible.

To try to describe people as nothing more than bags of meat with behaviors, B.F. Skinner and other behaviorists disavowed all discussion of unobservable mental states. They ultimately failed, as they never could come up with an alternative language that made meaningful sense.

People explain behavior, at least in part, on intent. Determining whether an act was accidental or intentional is an important component of apportioning responsibility and blame. Intent is an essential ingredient in criminal courts worldwide.

We are always ready to take refuge in a belief in determinism if this freedom weighs upon us or if we need an excuse. ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Beyond attributing responsibility to others, reducing the extent to which people believe that they control their own behaviors diminishes their sense of personal responsibility. Undermining belief in “free will” weakens morality.

The belief that one determines one’s own outcomes is strong and pervasive. Yet the view from the scientific community is that behavior is caused by genes underlying personality dispositions, brain mechanisms, or features of the environment. Exposure to such deterministic messages increases the likelihood of unethical actions. ~ American psychologists Kathleen Vohs & Jonathan Schooler


Personality traits exist in nonhuman animals. ~ American social psychologist Samuel Gosling et al

Anthropomorphism is the tendency to ascribe human traits to non-humans. Mentalizing nonhuman agents is accomplished the same way as with people: based on inferred meanings of behaviors and done with the same goal in mind: to reduce uncertainty. The seeming success of this exercise renders some agents more mindful than others.

A dog’s got personality, and personality goes a long way. ~ Jules Winnfield in the movie Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Conceptualizations of God or gods are invariably anthropomorphic exercises. There are at least 10,000 distinct religions, each with its own set of supernatural beings. Yet their representations regularly take on suspiciously familiar appearances and attributes.

The default representation of God in virtually all religions is deeply anthropomorphic, complete with mental states of intentions, goals, purpose, and emotions. ~ Nicholas Epley & Adam Waytz

If God was utterly beyond ken its existence would be irrelevant to ours. Only through anthropomorphization is there any hope for understanding, and thereby reaping benefit by establishing a relationship: whence God as a comprehensible supreme being with human sensibilities and emotions.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:6, The Bible

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9, The Bible

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Deities and animals are not the only entities to receive mind-perception treatment. All manner of objects are projected to have mental states.

Key characteristics to invoke mentalizing include movements that are recognizably animate in their pattern and timing, and objects which appear to be goal oriented.

Like other kinds of causal inferences, mind perception occurs effortlessly and spontaneously. ~ American social psychologists Carey Morewedge, Jesse Preston, & Daniel Wegner

Designers take advantage of people’s inclination to mentalize by creating products that infer a mind-set. The front grills of cars are commonly configured to suggest emotive faces.

Beyond their cartoonish humanoid appearance, personal robots are engineered to mimic human behaviors, including responding to nonverbal social cues, to create a sense of comfort with what otherwise could be terrifying technology.

“You stupid computer!” is not an uncommon exclamation in office buildings. ~ American psychologists Justin Barrett & Amanda Johnson

As they are tools which appear to embody a degree of intelligence in their behaviors, users instinctively treat computers like people. Alas, the developers who create computer software often fall short. Mind perception fosters expectation, and expectation is a formula for disappointment.


Clippy is a character that people feel very strongly about. ~ Microsoft spokeswoman

In its Office suite of business products, Microsoft created a set of animated assistants to help users productively use the programs. The main character was Clippit, an emotive paper clip commonly called Clippy. (The programming team developing Clippit termed it TFC – an acronym for “The Fucking Clown”. Their pathetic results with Clippy demonstrated who TFC really was.)

Clippy first appeared in Office 97. The feature drew strongly negative responses from many users. The criticism extended to Microsoft employees, even including the programmers who implemented Clippy. The abuse became decisive. Clippy and its ilk were clipped from Office 2007.

Clippit was conceived as a software agent which encouraged user mentalizing. As an empathic agent, Clippy failed because of the way it was implemented: most tellingly, lacking empathy.

Whether a character will be annoying or not largely depends on its behavior. ~ American software analyst Luke Swartz

Clippy was insistently proactive. It reappeared after having been previously been dismissed if the program determined that the user was uncertain. By its solicitous patronization Clippy could quickly become a nagging nuisance.

Annoyance with Clippy was heightened by its manner. Clippy stared at the user and monitored progress. Relentless supervision engenders anxiety and lowers task performance.

For beginners, Clippy facilitated lowered self-esteem. In being a self-proclaimed know-it-all, Clippy reminded those struggling with a program how much they did not know. In short, Clippy’s “personality” was self-defeating for its intended purpose: fostering user productivity.

Perhaps anthropomorphic interfaces encourage people to think about computers in ways that do not reflect how they actually work, thus making using the computer more difficult because of the flawed conceptual model. ~ Luke Swartz

Software typically works on the paradigm of direct manipulation. As an agent Clippy cut against this concept by acting as a delegate for task completion.

For inexperienced users, Clippy inspired unmet expectations, and so became an object of disappointment and frustration. Via mentalizing, Clippy became the personification of dissatisfaction with the program it worked for.


From an evolutionary perspective, a keen mind-reading ability improves the prospects for both survival and sex (reproductive possibility). There would be a greater risk in ignoring an intentional agent than in identifying something as intentional that is not: hence the heuristic tendency to attribute agency when it does not exist.

Childhood development of theory of mind shows that mind perception has a strong innate base, as the ability naturally develops. Around 3 months, infants begin to distinguish between people, objects that may be biological, and moving inanimate objects. This preferential attention shows a sensitivity to agency: mentalizing.

At 2 years children are aware of a distinction between thoughts in the mind and things in the world. They also understand emotional contexts: that they, and others, are happy when they get what they want, and sad if not. 2-year-olds also appreciate that there may be a difference between what they want and someone else wants.

By 3 years a child is apt to speak of what people think and know. These observations are of course limited to what the 3-year-old knows.

By 4 or 5, children realize that people talk or act on the basis of how they think the world is, even though their thoughts may not reflect actuality. This follows on the heels of realizing that thoughts in the mind may be false.

Humans are not alone in mentalizing. Its evolutionary value means that other creatures with social interdependence practice judging intentions. A leading edge for animal survival is anticipation, which is the actionable form of mind perception.

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The ability to examine alternative mind-view scenarios is a powerful tool for both social interaction and technology, as it allows one to imagine various ways to employ an implement or approach a situation.

Upbringing and culture affect mentalizing skill. Having siblings augments a child’s need to consider the minds of others.

Collectivist cultures – in which interdependent self-concept dominates – produce individuals more attuned to mentalizing than individualist ones. When interpreting spoken instructions, for instance, those in collectivist cultures tend to consider the speaker’s intentions more readily than those in individualist cultures.

Like other behaviors, mind perception is more habitual in environments which reward people for practicing it.

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Perceiving others as having mental experiences is the foundation for empathy and compassion. Morality is grounded in mind perception.

The connection between mentalizing and morality has profound consequences. Cultures prone to perceive minds in other life forms should be more environmentally conscious. Some are. But others have lost that connection.

The indigenous Japanese religion is Shinto, which finds kami (spirits) throughout Nature: in rocks, rivers, locations, plants, and animals, including people. Such animism should foster a respect for Nature, and perhaps at one time it perhaps did. But whatever demonstrable love of Nature the Japanese had was largely lost in their rush to industrialization. Besides ignoring sound ecologically sustainable practices and generating massive pollution, the Japanese people are themselves inveterate litter bugs.

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While serving as the basis for empathy, human mind perception is alloyed in its beneficence. In assessing the quality of other minds, mentalizing produces prejudices which are not always consistent in their attributions.

People have a pervasive tendency to assign intention where it does not exist. The common assumption is that an actor’s intent is consistent with the consequences of an act, especially if the outcome is negative. This occurs even when the result appears accidental.

Automatic assignment of intention intensifies value judgments about others’ behaviors. Something upsetting when it is accidental becomes an outrage when considered intentional.

Even if two harmful events are physically identical, the one delivered with the intention to hurt actually hurts more. ~ American psychologist Kurt Gray

The default projection of intentionality is the origination of many disputes, and the basis for finding defendants guilty where a purely logical analysis of responsibility would raise doubt.

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Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone faster than you is a maniac? ~ American comedian George Carlin

People generally believe that they have more subtle mental processes, greater emotional stature, and more nuanced moral sentiments than others. (Beyond self-reported capacities, evidence that people think others have “lesser minds” emerges from explanations of behavior.) People generally consider themselves better at mentalizing, with more insight into others’ “true selves” than others have of themselves. People think they are better able to reason objectively and are less biased in their judgments. The reasoning of others is simplistic in comparison to one’s own.

The tendency to see others as having “lesser minds” owes to the difficulty people have in sussing others’ mental states compared to their own. Whereas the myriad of one’s own thoughts is instantly available, all that is apparent of others is their behaviors, which is a shallow pool by comparison.

When others seem to see the world differently from oneself, one tends to see one’s own views as objective and correct, and theirs as irrational and wrong. ~ American psychologist Emily Pronin et al

Introspection enables observing subtle relationships between one’s inner workings and behaviors. In contrast, its absence in viewing others leaves relatively simple links between attributed mental states and behaviors, which leads to the conclusion of others’ having inferior minds.

Mentalizing is often biased. One spin stems from motivation to bolster self-esteem: believing oneself to have greater stature than merited. But mentalizing distortions can be a double-edged sword, by engendering social misjudgments or even paranoia.

People feel that their minds are stronger than others: less influenced by mass media and better able to resist appeals at biasing their judgment. Whereas others respond to situations rather mindlessly – on the basis of enduring biases – oneself is more psychologically responsive and fluid to the demands of the moment.

People tend to overestimate the extent that others are solely motivated by self-interest. This cynicism can operate as a social norm, increasing people’s tendency to behave selfishly. Mercantilism engenders this dynamic.

God, I thank thee that I am not like other men: extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. ~ Luke 18:11, The Bible

While others’ actions are attributed as arising from wants and desires, people tend to explain their own behaviors by referencing more complex mental states of knowledge and beliefs.

Pluralistic ignorance occurs when individuals infer that the identical actions of the self and others reflect different internal states. ~ American social psychologist Dale Miller & Canadian psychologist Cathy McFarland

The qualitative asymmetry between introspection and mind perception creates a state of pluralistic ignorance, where people assume their own mental states (beliefs, attitudes, intentions, or goals) differ from others, despite identical overt behaviors. For instance, people may privately feel that certain norms are misguided, but follow them anyway for conformity’s sake. Meantime, they interpret others’ selfsame behavior as indicating their approval of those norms.

People perceive themselves to be more essentially human than others. ~ Australian psychologist Nick Haslam et al

The first and single greatest step to sustained violence is dementalizing: considering the minds of others inferior. Tribal and cultural conflicts cannot be justified if the out-group is as worthy of respect as the in-group.

At root, the slippery slope of social solipsism is the basis for exploitation of other people: that they are less deserving objects. The accepted inequality that arises from social systems such as capitalism is a powerful testament to the ubiquitous bias of human mind perception.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? ~ Matthew 7:3, The Bible

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People are more likely to perceive minds in targets that are similar to the self. ~ Carey Morewedge, Jesse Preston, & Daniel Wegner

The simplistic paradigm engendered by mind perception explains our thinking that sessile plants, which do not move at a pace amenable to human observation, are stupid. This is a supreme irony, as flowering plants are arguably the most intelligent life on Earth. As people are favorably impressed by size, arthropods are similarly viewed as dim-witted, despite their nimble endeavors and clever constructions. This mental debasement of other life has facilitated the rape of Nature without any consideration of it having moral implications.

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People often wish to conceal their internal states, such as projecting confidence when feeling uncertain or anxious. This concern is amplified by the illusion of transparency: the belief that one’s mental state is more apparent to others than it is.

People are typically quite aware of their own internal states and tend to focus on them rather intently when they are strong. At such times, they often mistakenly believe that their internal states “leak out” more than they really do. Liars overestimate the detectability of their lies. ~ Thomas Gilovich et al

The illusion of transparency is related to the spotlight effect, which is the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others notice how one looks or behaves. A related, egocentric distortion is the belief that oneself is the cause and target of others’ behaviors.

Such biases arise from inapt adjustment from one’s own self-focus compared to the degree that others perceive oneself. They tend to occur when a person is especially self-conscious.

Self-awareness impairs perspective-taking on the self. ~ Canadian psychologists Jacquie Vorauer & Michael Ross

Hyper attentiveness to others’ impressions diminishes cognitive functioning. Overactive mentalizing may be a core mechanism underlying schizophrenia.


Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. ~ Greek philosopher Epictetus

Many animals use tools. Spiders know their webs as their own. Birds that build nests or cache seeds clearly demonstrate ownership. Bowerbirds collect very specific objects for their nests. Some bowerbirds spend considerable time and energy stealing precious bits from conspecifics. All organisms which exhibit territorial behaviors, such as plants, possess a sense of possession.

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A nomadic lifestyle limits what may be owned. But materialism became apparent as soon as handicrafts were made by hominids. Clothing, jewelry, and tools became possessions.

Spears and arrows were made to specific designs that vary from group to group. They took time and effort to make, and were probably the property of a single hunter. ~ American archeologist Sally McBrearty

Art objects dating to at least 70,000 years ago have been found. Besides handicrafts, object attachment may have also evolved by coveting scarce food items.

Once people chose to live in one place possessions became to accumulate.

When people settled down, they became more susceptible to environmental disaster. ~ American anthropologist Gary Feinman

One way to insure survival was to store surplus food and supplies. Another was through a web of social relations that involved an understanding of reciprocity and cooperation during times of need.

Sedentariness not only settled a new lifestyle, it shaped a new societal order, as status and prestige took an even stronger material form.

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A neonate regards its mother as special and will seek out her smell and face over those of other women. By 2 months babies begin to understand that they have ownership of their bodies. At 8 months, infants start to grasp the concept of loss. By 12 months they start to form attachments to comfort-objects like blankets, which provide a temporary substitute for their caregiver.

Also around 1 year, children start to speak their first words. By 21 months a word surfaces that becomes part of life’s regular playlist: “mine.”

Children include ownership as an attribute of their object representations. ~ American psychologists Peter Blake & Paul Harris

Not for nothing are they called the terrible twos: when young ones are gyres of squalls and squabbles. Along with an oversized sense of self-importance come the early pangs of frustration, along with an already well-developed propensity toward possessions: 2-year-olds fight harder for toys they own.

Disputes over property are among the earliest, most frequent, and most intense conflicts in childhood. ~ American psychologists Charles Kalish & Craig Anderson

By 3 years children protest if someone tries to take away someone else’s toy, which indicates understanding of ownership even when it does not involve self-interest.

The development of a moral sense in children finds a particularly rich soil in the early inclination to possess and appropriate things to the self. The reason is that possession, more often than not, leads to conflicts that need to be resolved to sustain social life. ~ Swiss psychologist Philippe Rochat

From 3 years on ownership becomes a compelling force. 60% of Western children become inseparable from favored objects. These anointed possessions are considered unique and irreplaceable: children refuse to swap them, and bonding with more than a single item is rare. 20% of British traveling salesmen sleep with their childhood teddy bear.

Strong object attachment in Western infants stems from their separation from their parents during sleep. Blankets and stuffed animals substitute for the intimacy they need. Clinging to possessions among Japanese infants is rare, as infants sleep with their mothers into middle childhood.

At its core, materialism is a value-based response to insecurity in one’s life. ~ American marketing professor Aric Rindfleisch

Regardless of age, valuing possessions is one way people substitute for want of feeling secure. This unconscious emotional logic also applies to hoarding.

Materialism fosters social isolation which in turn reinforces materialism. But loneliness contributes more to materialism than the other way around. ~ Dutch marketing academic Rik Pieters

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Our possessions are a major contributor to and reflection of our identities. ~ Canadian business academic Russell Belk

People use objects to express their identity. Westerners especially treat objects as extensions of themselves. This too begins in childhood.

Some of the most harrowing images from the Nazi concentration camps are the piles of personal possessions taken away from victims in an attempt to strip them of their sense of identity.

Hollow hands clasp ludicrous possessions because they are links in the chain of life. If it breaks, they are truly lost. ~ American psychologist Ernest Dichter

Objects as symbols of identity is the basis for brand-name products. Corporations lucratively rely upon such attachment.

A man’s self is the sum total of all that he can call his. ~ William James

Simply selecting an object endows it with more worth that an identical one that went unpicked. People with $1 lottery ticket they selected would only sell it back for $8, on average, compared to the $2 demanded for returning a ticket handed to them. This bias is termed the endowment effect. The endowment effect may be innate, as it has been observed in infants. Experiments indicate that other primates may also feel the sentimental pull of ownership.

There is a cultural aspect of the endowment effect. Compared to native southwestern Americans, Nigerian villagers place relatively less value on their own possessions, and more esteem gifts from others and culturally meaningful objects shared among community members.

The idea that we make things a part of self by creating or altering them appears to be a universal human belief. The maker of an object, the user of land, and the cultivator of a plant are regarded as being entitled to the product of their labor. ~ Russell Belk

Reverence for the possession of objects is the emotional basis for materialism, which is founded upon private property as a basic right. In attributing fairness to apportionment morality is an economic construct.

There is no image, no painting, no visible trait, which can express the relation that constitutes property. It is not material, it is metaphysical; it is merely a conception of the mind. ~ English philosopher Jeremy Bentham

Cherished ownership is what American philosopher John Searle termed a status function. Status functions establish an identity and provide a reason to act in a certain way. A status function is a mental attachment to an object by ascribing meaning, purpose, or function.

When a status function is shared it becomes a social fact as contrasted to personal facts which require no consensus. The value of money is an exemplary status function as a social fact.

Object ownership is a social fact, at least until ownership is contested. Conflict may be viewed as a disagreement over supposed social facts. Hence, social facts are mind-dependent: they only become factual by consensus.

Not all status functions are social facts. People intuit some statuses as natural.

Even young children see morals as objective: independent of mind, beliefs, or decisions. This mind-set instills the belief in a moral universe: a cosmic order that offers immanent justice, as exemplified by the clichés “what goes around comes around,” and “we reap what we sow.”

The intuition of immanent justice derives from our evolved sense of fairness. This intuition contributes to the cultural success of beliefs in immanent justice. Even people who do not believe in immanent justice are nonetheless implicitly influenced by its intuition. ~ French anthropologist Nicolas Baumard & French social psychologist Coralie Chevallier

Deep-rooted in many religions is the belief that there is an inherent, ineluctable justice.

Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruits of their deeds. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have done shall be done to him. ~ Isaiah 3:10–11, The Bible

The Hindu and Buddhist conceptions of karma as an adhesive moral ledger embrace belief in immanent justice.

Young children believe that there is some objective state of the world that determines the truth or falsity of every claim. Facts are discovered, not made. That something could be true just because people say or decide it is violates intuitive ideas about direction of fit. Beliefs are supposed to fit the world, not the other way around. ~ Charles Kalish & Craig Anderson

Young children learn to distinguish moral norms from conventional (social) ones through objects. The foundation of morality is fairness, which directly relates to the rightful possession, use, and consumption of objects. Analogously, kindness is a judgment about the treatment of an animate object.

3-year-olds generally fail to appreciate that people could hold false beliefs. Truth is considered self-evident. Nobody could fail to recognize facts. The one exception is ownership.

One of life’s early and everlasting object lessons is that property is a social fact. Adults explicitly teach young children that ownership is mind-dependent: people have to know that something is yours. It is a message punctuated by disputes, something which all children repeatedly witness and are subject to.

Ownership involves a mix of conventionality and morality. We have the strong intuition that people have a moral right to some things. ~ Charles Kalish & Craig Anderson

Objects Versus Processes

In contrast to objects, processes and forces are given cognitive short shrift. This owes to their intangibility.

Biology favors object orientation. Episodic memory is of objects, albeit oftentimes in action.

Declarative memories are of objects moving through space at subjective speeds and are easily recalled. In contrast, memories of learned skills are implicit, and take conscious effort to recall and describe. Procedural memories do not form the vivid mental images that characterize memories of objects and the events in which they participate.

Language reflects object bias. Nouns outnumber verbs by several orders of magnitude in all vocabularies. The mind-brain processes object words (nouns) differently than action words (verbs).

Sentences are of things acting or being acted upon. Infants learn new nouns more rapidly and more easily than new verbs.

Innate bias toward objectification has numerous consequences. When wed with the acceptance of property as a natural right, objectification becomes an oppressive force.

It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. ~ Bertrand Russell

The most powerful effect of objectification is a proclivity toward violence. Objectification harnessed to desire is a surefire formula for exploitation at will, without due consideration of others.

Degradation of the environment is another defining characteristic of human existence. Rather than perceive ecosystems as entangled gyres with frailties, humans view Nature as something to be conquered, to yield desired objects, beginning with a domicile that excludes all elements of Nature except those desired. Home stomping ground is far too apt a description for human settlements.

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Inborn object bias comes at considerable cognitive cost. Planning is mentally taxing, as it extensively involves reasoning regarding interactive ecologies, not objects per se.

The human mind simply does not easily think in terms of multi-step processes, particularly when they involve multiple actors, and especially accounting for the vicissitudes of communication and coordination.

These innate mental limitations, including considering contingencies, explains why managing large-scale endeavors and organizations is so problematic. The engineering of modern societies has been an overly ambitious exercise of humanity biting off more than it can chew, which is one reason why the concept of “freedom” is appealing: because delivering order justly is daunting to the point of fantastic. Governments are plutocratic owing to objectification. The only prospect for actualizing social justice is by outlawing economic property (though not personal possessions).