Cognitive Science

Cognitive Science

Thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures


Hyperreality is a concept that is defined by the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality. It describes how the line between real and fake is blurred, particularly in post modern societies where technology is highly advanced. As such, what our mind defines as ‘real’ in this world can be ‘hyperreal’ due to the various types of multimedia that can radically alter or fabricate an original event or experience.

In semiotics and postmodern philosophy, hyperreality describes inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. This confusion is common among technologically advanced postmodern cultures. Hyperreality is a means to characterize the way consciousness defines what is actually "real" in a world where media can radically shape and filter an original event or experience. Some famous theorists of hyperreality include Jean Baudrillard, Albert Borgmann, Daniel Boorstin, and Umberto Eco.

Baudrillard's idea of hyperreality was heavily influenced by phenomenology, semiotics, and Marshall McLuhan.

To me, my thing is, a video image is much more powerful and useful than an actual event. Like back when I used to go out, when I was last out, I was walking down the street and this guy, that came barreling out of a bar, fell right in front of me, and he had a knife right in his back, landed right on the ground and... Well, I have no reference to it now. I can't put it on pause. I can't put it on "slow mo" and see all the little details. And the blood, it was all wrong. It didn't look like blood. The hue was off. I couldn't adjust the hue. I was seeing it for real, but it just wasn't right. And I didn't even see the knife impact on the body. I missed that part. - Slacker (1991)


Simulation, rather than representation, has become the defining characteristic of our current cultural conditions. The objects of simulation (simulacra) transcend the binary opposition of "real" and "unreal", "original" and "copy" etc. They become part of the hyperreality. Hyperreality is significant as a paradigm to explain current cultural conditions. Consumerism could be seen as a contributing factor in the creation of hyperreality or the hyperreal condition. This is because the reliance on sign exchange value (e.g. brand X shows that one is fashionable, car Y indicates one's wealth). Hyperreality tricks consciousness into detaching from any real emotional engagement. Instead opting for artificial simulation, and endless reproductions of fundamentally empty appearance. Essentially, (although Baudrillard himself may balk at the use of this word) fulfilment or happiness is found through simulation and imitation of a transient simulacrum of reality, rather than any interaction with any "real" reality.

Interacting in a place, like a casino, gives the impression that one is walking through a fantasy world where everyone is playing along. The casino is hyperreal. The decor isn't authentic, everything is a copy, and the whole thing feels like a dream. What isn't a dream, of course, is that the casino takes your money in exchange for chips. You are more apt to give you're money to them when your consciousness doesn't really understand what's going on. In other words, although you may intellectually understand what happens at a casino, your consciousness thinks that gambling money in the casino is part of the "not real" world. It is in the interest of the decorators to emphasize that everything is fake, to make the entire experience seem fake. The casino succeeds in turning money itself into an object with no inherent value or inherent reality.

We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning. - Jean Baudrillard

Various Definitions

  • "The virtual irreality" - Pater Sparrow
  • "The simulation of something which never really existed." - Jean Baudrillard
  • "The authentic fake." - Umberto Eco


  • A magazine photo of a model that has been touched up with a computer.
  • Films in which characters and settings are either digitally enhanced or created entirely from CGI (e.g.: '300', was shot in front of a blue/green screen, entirely, with all settings super-imposed).
  • TV and film in general (especially "reality" TV), due to its creation of a world of fantasy and its dependence that the viewer will engage with these fantasy worlds. The current trend is to glamorize the mundane using histrionics.
  • A well manicured garden (nature as hyperreal).
  • Any massively promoted versions of historical or present "facts" (e.g. "General Ignorance" from QI, where the questions have seemingly obvious answers, which are actually wrong).
  • Professional sports athletes as super, invincible versions of the human beings.
  • Many world cities and places which did not evolve as functional places with some basis in reality, as if they were creatio ex nihilo (literally 'creation out of nothing'): Disney World; Dubai; Celebration, Florida; and Las Vegas.
  • Constructed languages (such as E-Prime) or "reconstructed" extinct dialects.
  • A retail store that looks completely stocked and perfect due to facing, creating a world of endless identical products.
  • A life which cannot be (e.g. the perfect facsimile of a celebrity's invented persona).
  • A high end sex doll used as a simulacrum of a bodily or psychologically unattainable partner.
  • A newly made building or item designed to look old, or to recreate or reproduce an older artifact, by simulating the feel of age or aging.
  • Second Life. The distinction becomes blurred when it becomes the platform for RL (Real Life) courses and conferences, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or leads to real world interactions behind the scenes.
  • Weak virtual reality which is greater than any possible simulation of physical reality. [Andreas Martin Lisewski (2006), "The concept of strong and weak virtual reality", Minds and Machines, 16(2), 201-219.]

Hyper-Reality presents a provocative and kaleidoscopic new vision of the future, where physical and virtual realities have merged, and the city is saturated in media