Substitutes for things

There is no name for the error that we commit when, say, while we are considering universals, we think that we can let the true, sensual world recede from consciousness and be replaced by a sort of “idea blackboard” on which we can let various ghosts fight with each other or be placed in various labeled bins. Generally, we can let the actual world recede from consciousness and consider the substitutes for the world (words, symbols) in a way that involves a forgetfulness of what they substitute for. This is always a danger since we cannot think without some substitute world (words and symbols are not the things themselves, nor are they equal to them). The danger of our thought is always this substitution that it must make for the things themselves; the virtue of our thought is in whatever the virtue of substitution is.

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1 Comment

  1. PatrickH said,

    August 23, 2010 at 5:01 am

    The “map is the territory” fallacy? (With apologies both to Korzybski and to you, James.)


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