Money, brands, and nations: Why humans believe in intersubjectivity
When it comes to believing a story, most people think there are only two kinds of truth: objective realities (such as a physical head wound) and subjective realities (such as an untraceable but observable mental illness).
But there is actually a third kind of truth: intersubjective reality, which depends on communication among many humans, rather than the observations, beliefs, or feelings of a few individuals.
Take currency, for example. Money only has value because we say it does. Is $100 bill really worth $100? Only because a lot of respected people (i.e. governments) say it is.
Similarly, the stock market is another great example of intersubjectivity, since a stock is only worth as much as a lot of people believe it is.
Same goes for alma maters, sports teams, companies, even nations. While we can physically view these institutions, they only have value because a lot of people believe in them. From an objective or pure subjective point of view, they do not exist.
Interestingly, intersubjective realities are just as influential (if not more so) than objective and subjective realities.
I’m not saying they shouldn’t be. But they are a fascinating and powerful reminder of just how social we are as a species. It’s another phenomenon that makes us uniquely human.