It seems obvious to me that categories exist only within the operations of my brain. And even more of a problem is that every word I speak is a category of something or other at some level, and thus everything I, and by projection we, talk about is a fabrication of our unconscious brains and is observed by our conscious minds.
The problem is that an apple doesn’t physically exist as a category. These things do exist as physical things that are made up of discrete and definable bits of matter, and obviously the apple does exist as a characteristic arrangement of matter, but as an entity that can be spoken of and transmitted via a comprehensible language, the apple exists only in our minds. The physical apple has been transformed into a physical arrangement of stuff in my brain, but it isn’t an apple, and it does become observable to my consciousness in my mind, but its identity as data in my brain would be difficult to distinguish from a baseball. Or would it?
Perhaps the difference between an apple and a baseball would be quite apparent in our brain response, because our relationship with these two categories is vastly different. We may hold each of these similarly sized objects in our hands, but we never bite into a baseball. We might throw an apple, as I have done with rotten apples in my family’s apple orchard, but I wouldn’t expect my uncle to hit it over my head with a baseball bat. This is about as far as the overlap between these seemingly similar objects can be expected to go, and then they diverge. So, an MRI brain scan should show very different responses to these similar items.
I bring this up because people I talk with sometimes speak of reality, and categories of the mind, in divergent ways. One seemingly normal man I know speaks reasonably on most subjects except the spaceship that resides in his back yard. I can’t see it because it is in a different dimension, but for him it is sufficiently real that he can talk about it in considerable detail. I know others who claim to have an eternal spiritual essence, and their physical body is only a temporary meat covering for this eternal essence. They insist that their real self is eternal. They treat me with some disdain when I speak of my conscious self as being dependent on the operation of my living meaty body. They believe they can claim a superiority over me, because they exist on a higher plane, and thus they reside in a more significant reality than I do.
I have been exploring a wider range of humanity since I departed from Berkeley, four years ago. That city is known for tolerating people who are living on the periphery of human thought and behavior. Bend, Oregon, is considered to be a center of ordinary people, and is a center for outdoor recreation, and not very intellectually inclined, but the periphery of people here is just as wild as in Berkeley.