Composite reality

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Reality is complex. To understand the world we all live in, it helps to distinguish between four very different kinds of reality: External reality outside of our minds, mental realities within our minds, social realities between our minds, and experienced realities in the intersection between the other kinds of reality. Together, these four kinds of reality form a composite reality where we human interact with each other.

Language exists only in mental, social and experienced realities, not in external reality. The words you are now reading is something you see in your experienced reality and analyze in your mental reality, based on a shared social reality which gives us a shared language. In external reality, all that exists are pixels on a screen or ink-dots on a printed paper.

This model of composite reality is for most intents and purposes identical to the “Three Worlds” models by the philosopher Karl Popper (1978), the core difference being that the composite reality model makes a distinction between mental and experienced reality which in Popper's model are both “world 2”.

Everything which humans interacts with exists in all four components of composite reality, and has at least some aspect to it which is constructed by humans: Our actions contribute to physically construct physical structures in external reality, mentally construct mental structures in mental realities, socially construct social structures in social realities, and through living our lives construct neurological structures which shapes the experienced realities which our brains creates in response to our mental realities and to our encounters with the external and social realities which surrounds us.

There are at least two ways in which the composite reality model can help us understand categorism and kyriarchy. One is to help us build a nuanced understanding of how categorization works and how it is always being constructed and reconstructed by us humans. The other is to see how categorism and kuyriarchy are being done in all four kinds of reality.

External reality

The external reality is the world of matter, energy, space and time. The world which Karl Popper simply calls “world 1”.

Categories in external reality does not exist: We experience the categories as if they were a part of external reality, but this experience is our experienced realities rather than being external reality itself.

Physical construction

Through our bodies and tools, we humans physically construct our local surroundings within this external reality. External reality itself exists independently of humans, and it is no evidence for it having been constructed at all rather than having sprung into existence spontaneously.

Categorism in external reality

Discrimination can include denial of physical resources such as reasonable quality and quantity of food, water, shelter, et cetera. It can also include constructing the local milieu in such ways that it's only function for some people. For example using a overreliance on stairs which locks out (or in) people with physical disabilities.

Kyriarchy in external reality

Concentrating the power over vital resources to persons who are in the dominant groups.

Mental reality

The world of thoughts, which Karl Popper calls “World 2” and Kahneman (2012) calls “system 2”. There are many mental realities, at least one per person, as each mental reality is constructed in the brain.

Categories in mental reality are a free choice: Each person can make up any categories they like, and might even remember these categories if they make sure to write them down and/or spend a lot of energy on repeating them. Note that the free choice is about how we categorize, not that we categorize. Humans are most likely neurologically incapable of thinking without using categories to think with.

Mental construction

Each of us think, and thus construct things in our own minds. Some thoughts may be fleeting, while others may dig themselves deep into our brains even if we don't express them to others.

Categorism in mental reality

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Kyriarchy in mental reality

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Social reality

The world of shared language, social norms et cetera which we human beings build between each other through our various means of communication. This is the world which Karl Popper calls “World 3”. Social realities exist on all levels of context, from interactions between individuals to the entire culosphere.

Categories in social reality are shared conventions of varying popularity and of varying stability: One way of categorizing may stay popular for millennia, while another may die out quickly.

Social construction

Language, social norms et cetera being built between human beings.

Categorism in social reality

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Kyriarchy in social reality

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Experienced reality

The world as an actual human being experiences it: Mixing sensory input with the preconceptions needed to make sense of the sensory input. While the sensory input comes from external reality, the preconceptions rooted in our brain has been established in an iterative process involving all four kinds of reality.

Categories in experienced reality are not only real, but they are a big part of what makes all of reality seem real to us. We perceive all external, mental, social and experienced reality through these categories.

Neurological construction

To learn something is to encode it in the brain. Once a certain categorization/concept/idea is deeply integrated into the brain and a lot of neurons are nested with it, it becomes a part of the reality we experience. This process of learning can happen in many ways. Including, but not at all limited to, formal training and education in social reality. We can also teach ourselves in mental reality, as well as tacitly learning from experience in experienced reality.

Categorism in experienced reality

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Kyriarchy in experienced reality

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Video: Are planets socially constructed?