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Reification [ ˌʀeːʔifikaʦjoːn ] (also reification , from Latin res "thing" and facere "make") means "objectification", d. H. the treatment of an idea, a metaphorical term or an expression for a complex context as if a concrete fact or object were being described. Example: "His conscience prevented him from getting on that train."


Scientific theories use concept classes which can be distinguished according to their function, e.g. B. descriptive expressions, constructs , indicators , intervening variables , etc., whereby it can come to the error of confusing the functions. If z. B. Freud introduces the term super-ego as a “notation aid” in order to speak about inhibitions, this super-ego must not be assigned any causal effect (“The super-ego is to blame for X.'s acting so inhibited”).

“Reification is more than a metaphysical sin, it is a logical sin. It is the mistake of treating a notation aid as if it were a substantive term , what I have called a construct, as if it were observable, a theoretical expression, as if it were a construct or indirectly observable. "

- Abraham Kaplan : The Conduct of Inquiry, Chandler 1964


In sociology abstract concepts such as are the reification identity or setting individual using indicators so operationalized that you can refer to them and they measured can make. However, this often results in a false assumption or a fallacy, which is also understood as reification: Reified concepts often themselves represent something that they should actually only describe abstractly. The abstracted term then appears as reality (see Thomas theorem ).

The problem arises when hypothetical models are believed to be real. Terms like "Islam" or "democracy" fall under it. If these terms are adopted into common language and thought over time, they create a reality that does not actually exist. In this example it would be: a typical argument of the criticism of ideology .

Berger and Luckmann define reification as follows:

"Reification is to understand the products of human activity as if they were something other than human products - such as the facts of nature, effects of cosmic laws or manifestations of a divine will."

- Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann

Computer science

In the IT ontology creation , “reification” describes the transformation of relations into ontology classes . In RDF , for example, there is the possibility that the subject of a subject-predicate-object triple is in turn such a triple (“a statement about a statement”).

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A. Kaplan (1964): The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science , Chandler, p. 61
  2. ^ Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann: The Social Construction of Reality . Doubleday, 1966, p. 82 ( source ).