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Step 79: Skipping Reality

Skipping Reality

Ryder Richards discusses the relationship between reality, truth, and superficiality/advertising. He proposes that reality acts as a “net” that can filter the excesses of two types of abstractions – transcendental truths on one side, and superficial advertising/simulacra on the other. Without reality as an anchor, these two abstractions can become intertwined and reinforce each other’s problems.

In the episode, he references Richard Rorty, Plato, Jean Baudrillard, CS Lewis, Jaques Derrida, and Jurgen Habermas.

After discussing Plato’s Cave allegory to consider exiting into reality as only a more profound simulation, Richards uses the example of Disneyland, which pretends to be fictional but actually reveals people’s desire for moral truth, to show how slipping into abstraction can lead to fanaticism.


To counter the rise of abstraction over reality, Richards suggests two methods – communicative rationality, where we agree on definitions and logic, and meditation, where we recognize our physical body to become present. This lowers the power of abstractions over us. He argues that abstraction increases anxiety and reactivity, making us vulnerable to insincere beliefs. Reality provides a way to filter this.


  • 0:00 Reality, abstractions, and their impact on society.
  • 2:18 The “net” and Plato’s Cave: Truth, reality, and abstractions.
  • 7:04 Disneyland as a symbol of truth vs. Hollywood’s fake reality.
  • 8:43 Belief is not truth, is not reality. Systems as hierarchies in society.
  • 11:40 Raise the net: Communicative Rationality.
  • 13:16 Lower the abstraction: Meditation.




Part 1: The net of reality

Part 2: Disneyland

Part 3: Communicative Rationality and Meditation

Step 79: Skipping Reality

Part 1: Reality as the net for abstractions

Richards lays out the idea of reality as a net dividing two types of abstraction. On one side is transcendental ideology or truth claims. On the other is superficial simulacra like advertising. Usually, reality forces these to grapple with concrete pragmatism. But as reality’s power fades, these abstractions intertwine dangerously.

Richards relates this to Plato’s cave – the shadows are lies, but the light of the exterior, truth itself, can also be an abstraction. Modern thinkers, like Rorty and Deridda, argued truth and reality are separate. So going from cave to light just shifts one abstraction for another.

Step 79: Skipping Reality

Part 2: Disneyland as an example

Richards uses Baudrillard’s concrete example of Disneyland as an abstraction slipping into dangerous territory. Disneyland pretends to be fiction but reveals a desire for moral truth. However, this yearning abstracted into blind faith leads to fanaticism and policing “outsiders.”

The virtues represented become ways to enforce arbitrary hierarchies. In this case, the morality play of virtuousness, combined with fictional advertising, exemplifies Hofstader‘s ‘hyper system,” or tangled hierarchy, without referencing reality.

Step 79: Skipping Reality

Part 3: Lowering Abstractions’ Power

Way 1 – Communicative Rationality

The first way is communicative rationality – agreeing on language, intent, and logic tied to consensus and correspondence reality. This raises the “net” by grounding thought in the concrete. (Jurgen Habermas)

Way 2 – Meditation

The second way is meditation, recognizing our physical body to quiet constant abstraction. This reduces reactivity and teaches us to filter manipulations.

Step 79: Skipping Reality

Thank you!

In sum, abstraction untethered from reality breeds instability and vulnerability to facile beliefs. Reality anchors us against these excesses. In future episodes, Richards will continue exploring pragmatism, AI, and the limits of language.


Simulacra and Simulation, Jean Baudrillard, 1981

Episode 142 – Richard Rorty, Philosophize This!

Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, also known as GEB, is a 1979 book by Douglas Hofstadter.

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