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Philosophy Tuesday

October 23, 2018

There was this great ad for Ikea from years ago, directed by Spike Jonze:

Objects cannot make decisions.  Objects do not grow.  Objects do not make meanings in their lives.  Objects do not possess agency.  Objects lack emotion.  Objects cannot create and act and cavort and cry and all the things people (and other living things) can do.  Objects are fixed, predictable, unmalleable.  Objects are either working or broken.  Objects can be thrown away.

People are not objects, of course.

But we turn people into objects all the time.

Whenever we act like how we see, label, relate, or think of someone, and like the meaning they have for us is the right one, the true one, the one and only one, we’ve turned them into a thing.  An object.  An other.

We do this to our coworkers, management, professions, and the clerk at the store.  We do it to hobby groups, enthusiasts, and fans of a thing.  We do it to genders.  We do it to whole cities and whole countries just as readily as we do it to our siblings, parents, friends, neighbors, and lovers.

When we objectify, we exterminate.  The vital being entity that stands (metaphorically, perhaps) before us is snuffed out, and a thing is all that remains.

And the trouble is, we don’t treat things the same way as we treat people.

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