International Studies in Phenomenology and Philosophy

Journal | Volume | Article


Reification as an ontological concept

Michael J. Thompson

pp. 417-446


In this paper, I outline the ways that reification as a pathology of what I call “cybernetic society” shapes the fundamental structures of the self and our shared social reality. Whereas the classical theory of reification was a diagnostic attempt to understand the failure of class consciousness, I believe we must push this thesis further to show how it is fundamentally an ontological and not a merely cognitive or epistemic concern. By this I mean that it is a pathology of consciousness as well as social praxis and, as such, infects the ontological substrates of social reality. In effect, reification is a collective rather than merely subjective phenomenon. I explore this dialectic between our subjective and social dimensions of being to show how reification actively shapes both self and world. I end with a discussion of how this theory of reification as an ontological concept can be used to overcome it via what I term “ontological coherence,” or the capacity of the self to refect dialectically on the shapes of sociality that one inhabits, opening it up to evaluative refection and critique.

Publication details

Published in:

Jurga Saulius, Kavoulakos Konstantinos (2021) Reification. Metodo 9 (2).

Pages: 417-446

DOI: 10.19079/metodo.9.2.417

Full citation:

Thompson Michael J. (2021) „Reification as an ontological concept“. Metodo 9 (2), 417–446.