I was indulging my sinful nature again this morning by listening to NPR on the way to work.
The piece in question concerned public revulsion and rejection of plans to return well-treated sewage water directly to the tap. It seems that no matter how much high-tech treatment is applied, no one will agree to drinking water that was once urine. Go figure! A psychologist was employed to get to the bottom of this. After employing "finely-tuned" questionaires she discovered that much of the resistance disappears if you tell people that the treated water has been dumped in a river and only later processed and sent to their icemaker.
The conclusion reached was that the composition of the water was not what mattered but the identity! I think this may be a fundamental insight into the workings of the mind. We filter information not by analysis of the properties of an object but by what it is. Plato's Theory of Forms was a reflection of the very real functioning of human consciousness. Perhaps we are most lucid when we view things as kinds and essential beings.
Examples? How about a change in the way we view of ourselves and how others view us when we are elevated to a position of authority? What about Coming-of-Age rites? Are these changes in our identity that changes our relationship to our culture and immediate contacts?