Even the way I described cause-seeking as an "inherent tendency" is part of this pattern. I have no direct access to what causes the results of experiments that have made me think this, just as I would have no direct access to what caused the man to wake as the leaf fell. I assume a thing, hidden, somehow, underneath the experiments – an inherent tendency for humans to identify each other as causes – which I then rely on to tell you what I'm thinking.
That thing might not exist, or might have a reality very different from how I describe it, but we are forced to rely on assumptions to make sense of the world, and these assumptions create a reality of causes and essences that seems solid, despite its uncertain foundation.
This all might sound overly philosophical, but once you are switched on to this tendency to invent essences you'll hear them everywhere. Generalisations or stereotypes such as "women can't do maths" or "Americans don't have a sense of humour" also rely on an invented essence of a sex, or of a nationality, a term that some psychologists have called ultimate attribution error. These views don't have a concrete existence. They are based in imagination, and are subject to all the psychological forces that are at play there.
In more prosaic domestic moments, when it feels like such bad luck that I can't find my keys, yet my wife seems so careless when she can't find hers, I know I’m performing psychological magic. I’m observing the myriad events in the world and imagining things – my bad luck, her carelessness – which I use to explain the world with.
With the knowledge that these explanations can only ever be built on sand, I know to be a bit more careful about how I use them.