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Psychosocial Reality

Functioning in an Environment

We use personal functioning to consciously and unconsciously create a reality that is part subjective and part shared with others. It is a reality rather different from physical reality.

Philosophers call it a metaphysical reality. Popper refers to this reality as World-2 and World-3, leaving physical reality in World-1: download Popper's short account.

Terry Pratchett:Closed "Take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet ... you act as if there is some ideal order in the world, as if there is some… some rightness in the universe by which it may be judged."

This non-physical and non-material but utterly real reality is constituted by meanings, intentions, feelings and such like. It is termed here the psychosocial world or psychosocial reality. Because this world emerges from our own functioning and the functioning of others around us:

● We can «know» it.
● We can «create» it.
● We can «call it our own».

Indeed we must do so in order to function as a human being, be our own person and live in communities.

Psychosocial reality is the medium of our existence. We cannot step outside it or look at it from a non-personal vantage point—because we cannot become non-persons. Even our best scientific theories are simply a manifestation of its operation.

It is evident that there can be alien impersonal psychosocial realities e.g. in other cultures or in local institutions that we cannot accept. Such social realities combine with physical constraints to form a socio-physical environment for our endeavours.

The Nexus

We all find ourselves thrust bodily into a physical and social world which we did not create or choose. Yet this is the environment within which we must live as persons.

Although driven by our biological make-up and constrained by a given culture, we discover that there is a sphere within which we can be creative. It is up to us then to design our personal life and social world, often with others in the same frame of mind.

So we find ourselves reshaping, for better or worse, impersonal socio-physical surroundings in accord with our psychosocial capabilities.

  Environmental World   Psychosocial World
  The-World-as-It-Is   The World-as-We-Create-It
  Physico-chemico-biological forces and interactions   Psychological forces and interpersonal interactions
  Impersonal/given social situations   Personal/meaningful situations
  Empirical-physical   Experiential-reflective
  Instrumental mechanical, reflex activity   Deliberate, aspirational, identity-defining activity

The idea of psychosocial reality largely under my control can become confusing because it gets mixed up with an environment not at all under my control.

Primal Nexus is the name that I give to that strange place where personal functioning and socio-physical reality interact. Until we are at the Primal Nexus, we can assert and create all sorts of fantastical things. Then socio-physical reality brings us to our senses.

Nonsense Exists:Closed  Even if our convictions are unconfirmed, we may still wish to deny external reality. We often distort our awareness in order to feel better. Spouting nonsense that everyone agrees with looks like evidence of sound judgement. In the past, religions organised agreement on what was to be taken as true, while the media and scientists fulfil this role nowadays. Idiosyncratic nonsense is labeled eccentricity or mental illness.

Key Features

Originally posted: May 2010; Last updated: 22-May-2015.

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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