I regularly use the concept of reification, and often get back confusion as to what I mean, even from friends who are rather literate
The OED entry for ‘reify’:
transitive. To make (something abstract) more concrete or real; to regard or treat (an idea, concept, etc.) as if having material existence.
Here’s an attempt at a definition for my usage:
To make a perception, feeling, belief, or conception more real, solid, or salient, by any means.
The map is not the territory. Furthermore, our attempts at apprehension of the territory are refracted through our ontological stack. The perception of patterns occurs on our end, regardless of the correctness of that perception. Perceptions are substantially flexible and subject to influence culturally and socially.
The definition from the OED describes one of the grossest forms of reification but there are gradations and subtleties. In general the tendency is for the grandest and grossest reifications to rely on constructing a pattern from the territory as ontologically or metaphysically real. Plato’s theory of forms is the epitome of this kind of reification. Other obvious examples are God, heaven/hell, and karma/rebirth.
One form of reification that’s relatively malleable for most people is perception of visual patterns. If you look at a square grid, you can also tilt your head and perceive the 45 degree subgrid overlaid, or other subgrids at smaller angles. We can choose to reify latent possible perceptions of the same object. I don’t believe it’s appropriate to say that any of these are the “true” perception, indeed they’re all viable and consistent perceptions, which may naturally flit back and forth anyway, and which can be made more salient with some play of intention and attention.
I would say here that a view can exaggerate certain features or properties of perceptions, or just make them more salient etc.
One marvelous kind of reification is the standard “because I said so”, said by a parent to a child. Certainly because one said it is no more evidence about the truth of the claim, but this move brings more oomph to the emotional/relational dynamic, carrying (or at least emphasizing) real power. This is actually a barer kind of reification: it carries no justification, it simply makes a command more real, as in, carrying more emotional weight. It’s easy enough to see justifications like “because God said so” in the same light.
A lot of political discourse involving the negotiation between views amounts to a volley of reifications, with no settlement or coordination around the terms on the basis of which they can construct correct reifications.
To be clear: none of this is to say that reification per se is wrong, though many wrong moves I think do stem from inappropriate reification. Any view has to make some kinds of reifications in order to make features salient to point out real distinctions.
Upvoted for the cool concept; I reckon Reification is a great word to play around with and have in your conceptual toolkit. Interestingly, it comes up a lot in Marxist theory as a common mistake made whilst analyzing society. Reification occur when social systems are defined in terms, or attributed to, facts of nature, manifestations of Divine Will or the supposedly inherent traits of the individuals within them, in contrast to something that arises from specific material conditions and relations to production. For example, attributing the prevalence of the Church in medieval Europe to an inherent Godfearing property of the peasant, or attributing the dominance of markets today to a competitive streak in 'human nature' would file under reification in the Marxist sense.
Upvoted for the explanation, but I'm not convinced that this usage matches the common definition well enough that it's helpful to continue using it.
I note that "more real" is extremely different from "more salient". Also "by any means" is a hint that your concept is too general to be particularly useful.
I don't see enough similarity between your examples (alternate angle of geometry viewing vs a parent's declaration of authority) that it helps communication to call both of them "reify".
So part of the point is that "real" is phenomenologically very similar to "salient", and maybe actually the same. I'm sort of on the far end in this respect but this extended usage is actually relatively common in meditation circles I'm in. I maybe could emphasize this point more...
I have a somewhat more specific idea in mind when I write about reification in posts.
I treat reification as the process of taking experience and turning it into concept. That is to say, reification is the process that happens when we carve the world up into boxes to distinguish one part from another. Otherwise stated, it's the process by which we draw a map of the territory.
This reflects the etymology: to reify is to make into a thing. Things exist only in the map once we've drawn the line to build an abstraction over a pattern.
This seems subtly different from your definition, which implies to me a possibility of reifying something by degrees (this thing is "more reified" than that thing), whereas I see reification as a binary, but the reification may be more or less precise and thus feel "more reified" because it's more precise than other things.