I am currently reading "Simulacres et simulation".
In this book, Baudrillard distinguishes 4 types of intellectual representations:
- images that truly represent the real world,
- images that falsely represent the real world,
- images that mask the absence of a fact taken for real,
- images that have nothing to do with any reality (simulation).
For Baudrillard, the essential shift in ideology occurs when we start to take facts that do not exist for real, and that we put in place a discourse or representations that have no benchmark in the real world, and therefore for which there is no reality test. The case study of these representations is the affirmation of the existence of God, by means of tales, legend and artistic objects marking the mythology of the deities. The speech is there to hide that there is simply no God, and not simply to tell a lie about an actual fact.
Simulation occurs when we speculate on the speech produced for nonexistent things, for example by wondering how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. Here, the product of thought is purely virtual, because not only is there no real referent of the things we are talking about, but even the thought process is devoid of any foundation.
Baudrillard's reflection is interesting in the sense that it shows that a large part of the ideology, if not its overwhelming majority, consists of simulations, or indeed of quasi-simulation with an almost nonexistent referent.
The most glaring example is the representation of terrorism. In the United States, in 2016, terrorism represented less than 0.01% of national mortality, while this cause of death accounted for 33.3 to 35.6% of the causes of death reported in the Guardian or the New York Time. In other words, a person who relies on the press to form an opinion on the danger of terrorism lives almost completely in a virtual world; his vision of the world is so distorted that it can be described as unreal, or "hyperreal" according to Baudrillard's terminology.
However, a careful analysis of the ideology reveals that a large part of our representations and beliefs are made up of such images, which have a very weak link, if not no link at all with reality.
Where Baudrillard pours into a form of solipsism is that he holds these illusions for a new reality which replaces the old one, under the name of "hyperreality".
If it is true that because of social and economic conditions, illusions and beliefs can take on unlimited expansion in society, reality is always stronger than fiction, and will sooner or later remind its presence to those who are lost in the imagination. If so, whoever denies reality to the end will be killed by it.