Reification: Reconstruction and Extension Of a Concept

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: Booth 63
Oral Presentation
Michael J. THOMPSON , William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ
This paper will seek to reconstruct the concept of reification and extend it along three different social-theoretic lines. I argue that reification needs to be seen not simply as a the reduction of human relations to relations beyween things, but that it also constitutes a deep pathology in the capacity of individuals to conceive of the pathological nature of the social relations themselves. reification constitutes, on my reading, a cognitive defect wihin the thimnking subject and therefore as a pathology of epistemic, cognitive, and evaluative capacities of subjects. This renders them unable to perceive and understand the true nature of their social being and, as a result, they come to distort the social and material world of nature around them. The depth of reification therefore leads us to an explanatory model of why indivuduals are susceptible to accepting forms of social power and domination that do not serve common public ends. There is, I suggest, a social ontology that is barred from their world-view due to the defective nature of reified thought. I take this theory to move against contemporary forms of Critical Theory such as Habermas and Honneth to bring us back to the more radical impulse of the Critical Theory tradition through a reworking of reification.