According to the general principle of hierarchical logic, every link x → y between two entities necessarily becomes mediated by yet another entity, x → m → y, and the entirety of such mediations is a higher level entity representing the link itself. Applying this logic to the imagination link R  S, one obtains that there is something (let us denote it as I) that represents one's ability to reflect one's own reactions, and mediates imagination:

R ⇒ I ⇒ S

This something is a part of the subject, since it has been derived through the subjective entities; however, it must have a kind of objective existence, occupying the position of an object mediating communication between the subjects:

... → (S → C → R) → O → (S' → C' → R') → ...

In its objective form, I must be implemented in things outside the subject, even outside its non-organic body. Consequently, a part of the subject's environment is going to loose its "pure" objectivity and become subjective. The process of the subject becoming represented in the outer world, as well as its result, is called ideation. In productive activity the hierarchy of the subject grows, and every particular ideation also becomes a hierarchy. An element of this hierarchy is called an idea.

To stress the fact that the process of ideation is different from productive activity, a different type of arrows is used in the scheme R ⇒ I ⇒ S. This notation also indicates that the links R ⇒ I and I ⇒ S are more like mental acts than physical production or consumption. This type of mediation will be called ideal, in contrast to material mediation in productive activity. Of course, this terminology should be used with reserve, since "material" mediation can be effectuated by such apparently immaterial things as social tensions, personal opinions, or individual skills. Both ideal and material mediation of the subject's self-reflection inevitably combine material and ideal components, and it is only the dominance of one or another aspect, the specific unfolding of the hierarchy, that is meant.

The possibility of ideation is contained in the very opposition of the object and the subject, their mutual reflectivity. An object becomes object only when it is perceived by the subject, and hence is shaped by the subject's intentions. Due to the universal nature of subjective mediation, all the things in the world must become objects, but this universal objectivity unfolds itself differently for different subjects. The subjective aspect of such specific unfoldings is conveyed by the category of ideation.

It is important that ideas are both subjective and objective, representing the subject in the rest of the world. As an object, an idea comes to the subject from the outside, is if it were given to the subject by somebody else. As a subject, an idea can mediate relations between objects. Indeed, consider the cycle of subject-object reproduction

... S → O → S' → O' → S" ...

When an object O occupies the position between S and S', two opposite sides of O can be distinguished, namely, its relatedness to S and S' respectively:

... S(O) → O(S) ⇒ O(S') → S'(O) ...

These opposites are integrated within the object through a mediating object I:

O(S) → I → O(S')

Here, ideation I stands in the position of the subject and hence can be interpreted as a higher-level subject, joining the different aspects of the same object together. This is yet another manifestation of the subject's definition as universal mediation. Folding the mediations S(O) → O(S) → I and I → O(S') → S'(O) and recollecting that S(O) = R and S'(O) = S', one comes to the scheme of ideal mediation: R ⇒ I ⇒ S' .

Ideation explicates the qualitative difference of the link R → S from the primary links S → C and C → R, which are not ideally mediated. Ideas exist as a part of a specific culture, they do not belong to an individual. Nevertheless, they are individual ideas, representing quite definite types of subjectivity. The relations between conscious individuals are hence represented as exchange of ideas, rather than products, thus becoming social relations proper.

The cycle of ideation ... I ⇒ S ⇒ R ⇒ I ... resembles the cycle of mental acts ... C ⇒ S ⇒ R ⇒ C ..., with the social links I ⇒ S and R ⇒ I replacing the individual links C ⇒ S and R ⇒ C. This parallelism indicates that ideations can be interpreted as a kind of inner states for some social subject. Obviously, this is the state of a higher level subject, and therefore ideation describes interlevel relations in the hierarchy of consciousness. Reverting the cycle, one obtains the scheme ... S → I → R → S ... describing the influence of the society on individual reactions. That is, in the subject, the lower level mechanism of complex reflex S → C → R becomes complemented with an essentially social mechanism of ideation mediated reaction S → I → R. The "inner" and "outer" mechanisms work in parallel in every conscious act.

The seemingly subjective ideational mediation encapsulates some outer activities. Such "hidden" mediations can be easily restored, using the schemes for activity mediated by instruments and tools:

S → Pt → P → Pi → S ,

where the tool Pt and instrument Pi contain both the objective and subjective components, the natural properties and the modes of their usage by the subject:

S → (ot ↔ st) → P → (oi ↔ si) → S ,

or, in one of the possible refoldings,

S → ot → (st → P → si) → oi → S ,

which can be rewritten as

S → ot → I → oi → S .

That is, ideation is nothing but the hierarchy of one's abilities and habits, the individual modes of operation with instruments and tools provided by the material culture. These modes are an element of the corresponding spiritual culture, and hence they exist in the whole of material production, outside the subject's body. Ideation contains the product, since habits or abilities cannot exist without application, and their separation from any activity is a mere abstraction. However, the product is hidden in ideation, it is "wrapped" by subjective attitudes and hence represented in its subjective quality. This complements the treatment of any product as an object, which is necessary to cyclically reproduce the subject-object interaction in any activity:

... → S → (P = O) → S' → (P' = O') → S" → (P" = O") → S → ...

The understanding of the product as a synthesis of the object and the subject is thus explicated.

On the higher levels of subjectivity, the subjective idea of activity may become associated with ideation as an abstraction of the world, and the scheme O → S → O' transforms into I → S → I', which looks as if activity were nothing but evolution of an idea mediated by the subject. In this abstraction, relatedness to the subject clearly felt in the ideation I can be treated in two complementary ways: either ideas are considered as a part of the subject, and hence no outer activity is possible at all (the solution suggested by subjective idealism), or one can believe in ideas existing on themselves, with the subject only mediating their development (the approach of objective idealism). The both varieties of idealism do not account for the subject's being a part of the physical world, and the subject's ability to re-create it in reality, rather than mere fantasy. The idealistic illusions are due to the highly indirect nature of most mediations in the subject, and first of all, the possibility of using the others as one's instruments or tools. The so called civilized society is based on exploitation of one individual by another, and those who do not produce their living conditions themselves merely appropriating the work of the numerous slaves, are apt to believe that it is their ideas that make the world change, and not the real actions of real men and women (or possibly some other conscious beings).

Language as the universal mediation of communication was often considered as a unique carrier of ideation, and only verbally expressible ideas were taken into account. However, any ideation is hierarchical, containing both verbal and non-verbal components. One can name anything, but it must first shape itself in the culture as clearly recognizable entity (ideation), to become labeled with a word. Language represents, therefore, the stable core of ideation, its cultural determination. Any creative transformation of the world implies action first of all, and the words follow it. This does not contradict to the common observation that ideas can drive people to certain acts. Indeed, before an idea can form, one has to act, and one's ideas are products of that preparatory activity, along with other products that arrange the cultural environment in a way allowing to "follow" one's ideas. No ideas can be developed by those who don't act and behave. Ideation is a cultural representation of an already existing activity, its public expression rather than cause. It is only in superficial reflection that the cause and the effect can change their places.

The subjective side of any activity thus joins two complementary spheres: inner activity represented by mental processes and outer activity represented by ideation. Conscious actions is always on the boundary between these two areas, requiring both of them. Neither mental nor cultural processes are not directly represented in a conscious act, they are not immediately given to the subject. This is why they are generally referred to as the unconscious. However, the unconscious is not uniform, being a unity of the subconscious (common operations folded in mental processes) and the superconscious (cultural predispositions and conditional preferences). While the subconscious encapsulates the subject's past, the already assimilated cultural achievements, the superconscious refers to the subject future, the modes of behavior that are still to come to awareness and to become conscious actions, and that will then be folded into subconscious structures. That is why the superconscious is said to determine the zone of imminent development (L. Vygotsky) for the subject, the range of possibilities for further growth of subjectivity. The simple scheme of the material side of activity

picturing a chain of the physical transformations of one object into another, becomes, for a conscious subject, a rather complicated scheme of ideal motion:

Though this motion occurs inside the subject, it cannot be associated with any particular inner structure, and, in particular, it cannot be confined to the biological body of an individual. Like any collective effect, subjectivity requires a coherent motion of many material bodies, and neither of them is enough for consciousness.

The main role of ideas is to organize conscious behavior concentrating individual activities in the socially important areas. The outer existence of the subject as a hierarchy of ideations makes it susceptible to social influences, since the activity of the others can change the structure of one's ideations and thus induce a change in individual attitudes. Subjectively it looks like a sudden turn in the stream of thoughts, an insight. Depending on the ideation structure, some people can become more sensitive to the social trends that the others; in the most eminent cases, we speak of a genius. However, the very possibility of geniality is due to the cultural dependence of ideation, its formation according to the needs of social development. When the society needs a genius, it will make the genius come.

The scheme of ideation mediated communication

... → (S' ⇒ I1 ⇒ S') → P1 → (S ⇒ I ⇒ S) → P2 → (S' ⇒ I2 ⇒ S') → ...

is obviously folded into

... → S' ⇒ (I1 ⇒ I ⇒ I2) ⇒ S' → ... ,

which is easily interpreted as inner development of one's ideations. Communicating with other subjects, the subject combines their ideations in an individualized way, constructing a unique hierarchy of ideas. On the other hand, the actual existence of subject S is no longer needed in the folded scheme, provided the ideation I is somehow reproduced.

Since ideations are realized as cultural processes, their components (ideas) can, under certain social conditions, become relatively independent of the individual. Different individuals can reflect the same cultural processes and build them into their own ideations. Thus ideas become shared by many people, and eventually form a part of the culture. This shared content of individual ideations is, however, different from material culture, an ensemble of things produced for definite use. This ideal side of culture is called spirituality.

An ideation could be considered as individualized spirituality, and spirituality exists through numerous ideations, like any whole exists through its parts. However, like a whole can never be reduced to its parts, no collection of ideations can represent spirituality as such. And, like development of a part results in development of the whole, individual ideations become shared and thus extend the domain of spirituality.

Now, the development of ideas as self-contained entities, I1 ⇒ I ⇒  I2 can be understood as sublimation of individual ideations, with the formation of shared ideas. As soon as an ideation has become an element of spirituality, it can continue to exist even after the original combination of material bodies actualizing the corresponding individual has long since decayed. With conscious beings, the disappearance of a particular implementation does not mean the death of the subject, who continues to exist through other subjects, incorporated in their ideations. Since shared ideas can be reproduced in numerous material forms, they do not depend on the biological life and death, regulating the activity of many individuals for centuries, which adds to the illusion of the ideas existing prior to material things. Once formed, ideas never die, they only develop and show their different facets. The subjects, unlike material bodies and living creatures, are virtually eternal.

This, however, does not mean that any particular individual is bound to live for ever. People are not "pure" subjects, their organic bodies can only represent some individualized subjectivity. The majority of one's actions is directed to self-reproduction and adapting to the changing environment; such behavior (conscious or not) is not too different from animal existence, and it does not leave any lasting traces in the world. Only the universal content of one's actions is truly subjective, and it is this universal core that is kept in millennia.

For collective subjects, ideations are built of shared ideas, and such ideation is essentially an inner process in spirituality. Such processes are different from spirituality itself, even for the humanity as a whole taken as a subject. Collective ideations are the specific unfoldings of the hierarchy of spirituality, and each such unfolding only represents the hierarchy, never coinciding with it.

The hierarchy of an individual ideation mirrors the hierarchy of the underlying activity. Different kinds of ideas are distinguished by the types of activity organization. They are always ideas of something and never ideas on themselves, in no respect to any material things. The most abstract ideas are necessarily implemented in appropriate material formations, at least on the level of expression. In most cases, however, ideas require complex coordination of many activities, rather than mere verbalization, and the formation of ideas goes far beyond simply naming them. Sometimes, the name comes before the idea can form, and this means that there is a clear cultural tendency, which can be felt, but does not yet have found a practical implementation. Much more often, an idea exists without any name at all until somebody happens to put it on the topmost level of an ideation and thus socially represent it.

In general, any idea first appears in the syncretic form, inside a hierarchy of activities and the corresponding ideations; after the activities become common enough, the idea can be abstracted from the underlying activities and ideally reproduced in a special activity (social self-reflection); finally, this analytical existence of idea is resolved in a new ideation, compiling all the analytical aspects of the idea into a synthetic whole. The cultural representation of these three stages (or levels of hierarchy) is provided by the levels of spirituality, the ideal aspect of the culture. Thus, the syncretic level of spirituality is represented by both dogmatic forms (beliefs, prejudice, superstition, religion etc.) and their dialectical complements (e. g. skepticism, nihilism, intuition or fantasy). The analytical level of spirituality includes the three principal forms: art, science and philosophy, which complement each other without being reducible to neither of them. On the synthetic level of spirituality, which is known as ideology, one finds such ideological forms as tradition, originality, method, or conviction.

[Philosophy of consciousness] [Philosophy] [Unism]