Practical Fetishism (HUM415)

By way of analogy, an illustration of practical fetishism:

Possibly you know someone who is a touch neurotic. Let’s say that person is germophobic. Rather than grasp a door handle with his naked hand he uses his sleeve. If someone coughs on the bus he immediately takes an Airborne tablet. That sort of thing. Quite possibly this person knows full well that there is no real danger to his health. True, we sometimes get sick but it’s not as if the world is a miasma of circulating germs waiting to enter our bodies. In other words, the germophobe understands that his germophobia is illegitimate, an overreaction. Yet he continues to consume whole bottles of hand sanitizer and to take extraordinary precautions against infection. In this sense the germophobe knows he’ll be fine but he does not believe it. He may say in a self-deprecating way, “It’s ridiculous, this obsession of mine with germs.” Yet he acts as if his obsession were true.

In the same way we all know that money is an empty representation, an illusion without substance. But our behavior indicates that we don’t really believe it.

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