it is not because something does not exist
that someone might not act as if it did

Empty concepts


Nature is a meaningless concept, there is no "nature" and even less a "Nature", only an idealized view of physics and the organisms that are able to sustain themselves thanks to, until now, an appropriate usage of the available resources. There is no "good" or "bad" nature or even attack against it since what the concept represents itself does not exist. The concept of nature, despite being empty of any real content, can still be used to push for an agenda. As long as people are willing to believe in the concept then it can be used as a tool. The concept of nature thus is useful if one want to rally people to a certain cause.


Is society similarly an empty concept? Society is usually defined as an abstraction and also often idealized...

Any political theorist ideal, or counter-ideal, can actually be seen as a way to rally people but it does not in any way mean that society will act that way or even that society itself exist, only that the abstraction ideally should. Political theorist gain great power, financial or not, by having others fuel their work or the application of their work.

One is most likely to give most of his energy in order to reach an ideal, including a societal ideal. Consequently, the concept can sustain itself without having any tangible reality.


Is the self similarly an empty concept? It can be defined as a practical tool for self-reference, leading to a way to measure one self against others. Does it actually exist though? if the concept of "self" is not just a tool by our "society" to make us even more productive...

There seem to be an instinctive impulse in many people to improve themselves for one sake only, like through knowledge. It could also be that they are improving themselves according to the ideal of the self promoted by that very society. The "person you want to be" is a model provided by society too, in the same way that the "ideal women in 90 60 90". It doesn't stop at the physical, why would it?, so the intellectual self is also shaped by society criteria of beauty, or efficiency in that case, hence the usefulness of making members of the society believe in the actual reality of the "self".

I mean that with a "self" always promoted as having to be better and better you get a strong motivation to give your best in the capitalist rat race : a local idealogical engine "even if you don't believe in our capitalistic society (or whatever other model), at least improve your self in it and try to get higher in the ladder" and as side effect gently make it run.


Are those 3 concepts pure abstraction that have no actual physical reality? They are all very loosely defined, have anthropomorphic traits and appear to be emergent. Yet one must ponder if overall are they more costly to entertain (as it costs energy to maintain a concept) than useful tools? In memetic terminology, are those memes hijacking precious survival resources in order to sustain themselves? Note that there is no need to give intentionality to any meme, as long as it can be leveraged as political tool, someone has potential gain in sustaining it.


In the western culture, one can build the metaphor around Nature as an idealized mother, society as a strong middle age man, God as a wise old man and finally ourself as a little pawns aspiring to be knights and kings, bravely serving those higher ideals.

Back to feudalism.


Overall, every "empty concept" (nature, self, society or even God) is most likely to be a political (in the sense of rallying people to a cause) conceptual tool. When one is not able to clearly define the concepts he discusses, the other should at least ask himself or herself "Who does this concept serve?", more precisely "Who does this loosely defined anthropomorphic concept serve?".


  • Everybody is a politicians, it's not because you are not a professional that you do not try to convince other to rally to your cause in order to gather more energy for yourself. A research lab director is doing politics at his level
  • It could be in your and my interests to entertain those ideals and Im sure we already did but does it mean they are real?
  • clear delimitation abstractions and not-abstractions
    • one can be authoritative on tangibles objects since they have a reality that anybody can test
    • on non-tangible object, "expertize" in the domain is actually a reflection of one own's worldview which can not be considered authoritative
  • overall the anthropomorphic bias, giving intentionality or moral ideals, is most likely used in such situations since everybody can precisely relate to it
  • the concepts of nature, society and self are most of the time intertwined, one is supposed to serve the other.
  • to invocate the notion of "greater good" should probably fall into the same category, it is basically representing society.
  • authority (any person or organization that exerts power) and thus means to reach it, politics, is pervasive. Consequently it is perpetually trying to transform any single thing, object or process, to a tool to get higher in the imagined hierarchy. Any science is most likely to become a tool of authority, why would it even be funded if it were not?
  • meritocracy, karma, fairness, carrying Nature, ... are very attractive concepts because they provide a form of moral causality. If you do something good, good will come back to you. What sounds fair is not necessarily real, a pleasant wish is not automatically transformed to a physical law.

See also