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(also known as: abstraction, concretism, fallacy of misplaced concreteness, hypostatisation)

Definition: When an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event or physical entity -- when an idea is treated as if had a real existence.

Example #1:

How can you not want to go jogging?  Look at that street -- it’s calling your name.  It wants your feet pounding on it. “Jog on me!”

Explanation: By reifying the street, we are attempting to establish a greater emotional connection, thus attempting to get the person to act more on emotion than reason.

Example #2:

If you are open to it, love will find you.

Explanation:  Love is an abstraction, not a little fat flying baby with a bow and arrow that searches for victims.  Cute sayings such as this one can serve as bad advice for people who would otherwise make an effort to find a romantic partner, but choose not to, believing that this "love entity" is busy searching for his or her ideal mate.

Exception: If used as a rhetorical device, when the reification is deliberate and harmless, and not used as evidence to support a claim or conclusion, then it should be acceptable. 

My stomach is telling me it is time to eat!

Variation: The pathetic fallacy is the treatment of inanimate objects as if they had human feelings, thought, or sensations.  Think of cursing at your computer when it does not give you the results you expect.


reification | literature | Britannica.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/reification

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