I have always been fascinated by the human ability to make what we imagine seem real. And then to take that reality and imagine something else built on it, and so on.
Eventually, we build a ‘reality’ that is built not on physical evidence, but on our chain of imagined concepts – which society picks up and runs with, as if it were real. Recursive thought of this kind infuses itself into all walks of everyday life, often without our even considering we’re treating as physically ‘real’ something that is in fact a product of our thoughts.
I’m not just talking about fiction – be it books, movies, plays or whatever – but about other outcomes of this style of thinking. You know – where somebody starts from a premise and builds a structure atop it, and where that structure gains social traction, whether real or not.
That’s how a lot of our social systems and structures work. Sometimes that can lead us down curious paths, as the Dutch found out in the early 1600s when they thought they could build wealth from tulip bulbs.
If we delve down to the basic causes of this sort of adventure, it flows from the way we imagine things, and with the way that imagined concept is then shared – in this case, with the social concept of value placed on tulip bulbs. For a while, Dutch society was gripped by it.
There are all sorts of other ways our recursive imagination, and our ability to apply that to societies, affects the human world.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015