Despite being a realist of sorts, I’ve never been able to shake myself of the Lacanian category of the symbolic. There are real, material things out there that are independent of mind and society, of course. I even lean towards realism where mathematical entities are concerned (maybe Whitehead does this best with his eternal objects). Nonetheless there is the mesh of the symbolic thrown over the world like the lines of longitude and latitude. There is the field of signifiers structuring how we categorize things. These signifiers are not in the things themselves. For example, between me and an undocumented migrant there is no marked material difference qua our status as human beings. She’s as smart as me, has the same anatomy and biological needs, etc. But there is a deep symbolic difference arising from the signifiers that we’re enmeshed in and that befall us: in my case, /citizen/ and in theirs /non-citizen/. The gruesome anatomist would look in vain to find this difference (though the eugenicists certainly tried as Stephen J Gould chillingly recounts). These are differences that aren’t in the things themselves. In The Logic of Sense, Deleuze describes it as a sort of mist that haunts the surface of the earth. The symbolic is incorporeal and is everywhere and nowhere. This category is indispensable to thought.