A reflection on (or rather, a reification of) the relationship between our higher and our lower natures.

My thesis topic was reification and reflection in a multi-level representational and procedural system, and this has naturally affected my religious and philosophical thought. Recently I have been pondering some ideas concerning what are sometimes called our higher and lower natures, or our spiritual and carnal selves. I have observed that the carnal self is simple and greedy (in the algorithmic sense, rather than the moral one, although it is that also) and attempts to direct things to satisfy its immediate wants or needs; whereas the spiritual self has the option of self-restraint. It seems that these two parts of the person combine to make up the whole person, and in different people they mix differently. It seems also that this mixing effect may be regarded as one `self' pulling, and perhaps modifying the other; in a disciplined life the spirit tames the bodily appetites while in a dissipated one the body weakens the spirit.

It could be that these apparent mutual modifications occur only at the point the two are combined, or it could be that they really do affect each other; or it could be that this model (dangerously close to dualism, and yet built around the words of Paul) is too inaccurate to be useful for rigourous thought -- after all, are we divided up like that?

And yet this model holds for some simpler discussion, I think, on how the two sides communicate with each other, and this is where the reification and reflection come in, and at last I write down an explanation of (part of) my thesis work in terms outside computer science.

Reification is the action by which information is transferred (read; copied) from the internal mechanism of a procedural, representational or rational system into the domain within which it may proceed, represent or reason -- it is the making of something internal into a ``thing'' (Latin res).

Reflection is the action by which information is transferred from the domain of such a system to its internals -- the internalization of information.

In a being of more than one nature, when information (or whatever it is that a being handles -- desires, motives?) it could be seen as being reified from one nature and reflected into another... which is also a possible description of what happens in communication between two beings.

[John's essay index]
Contact me

For other essays, see the index to this collection; and for some other thoughts, my thoughts index.

[John's home] Last modified: Sun Jun 10 22:28:51 GMT Daylight Time 2007