Conceptual Blindness

The lack of necessary concepts and the language to describe them, hypocognition, might explain so many of the problems and conflicts in our society. It might at least partly explain why people are ignorant of their ignorance, why people simultaneously know and don’t know so much that seems obvious once you see it.

So many can’t see the racism, the environmental destruction, the cronyism, all the problems all around us. They can’t see because they don’t know how to see, how to think about, understand, and put into words what they see and yet can’t see. Color blind ideology leads to a blindness of concepts and perception. We lose the capacity to speak about suffering, to give voice to injustice.

But, once you see something, really see it with both the body’s eye and the mind’s eye, it can be hard to not see it everywhere. You wonder how you didn’t see it before. A personal framework of understanding begins to form, the seeds of hypercognition planted.

A picture of patterned squiggly lines suddenly becomes a 3D image. Nothing changed in external reality. It was your perception that shifted. Now, any time you come across a similar pattern of squiggly lines, you remember how to make that shift and so see what is revealed, no matter what is the specific image.

However, with many things, we are already perceiving what is there before our consciousness recognizes it, if our consciousness ever recognizes it. Researchers have found that some color blind people aren’t actually color blind. Their eyes take in the information of color, their brains process and perceive the color, but it somehow doesn’t get translated into consciousness. That is similar to how racial color blindness operates in our society.

The signal gets interrupted when the pathways of communication are broken or blocked, dysfunctional or ineffective. Signaling is a concept often used in economics. A signal only works if there is a functioning system in place, and that requires an infrastructure.

We need an infrastructure of an actual ‘free’ market. The signal has to be freed and so communication of information has to be freed. This requires not just the physical infrastructure of roads, but also the conceptual infrastructure and media infrastructure. All of this is dependent on the infrastructure of natural resources, especially air and water, and the infrastructure of a healthy biosphere and ecosystems.

We need the infrastructure for the signal to pass through the system. And we need signaling to give us information about the infrastructure itself. What results when signaling fails or is intentionally disrupted is the externalization of costs such as pollution and poverty along with moral hazards such as cronyism and corporatism.

As social animals, the most important infrastructure is the social infrastructure and that is dependent on social capital. Ultimately, social capital is about human relationships, human connections. In a human system, it is only through humans that a signal can pass, that a signal can be communicated and comprehended. Hypocognition is not just a lack of concepts, but a lack of the social capital that those concepts represent.

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