• Jack Cummins
    3.4k
    I have been thinking about this today. I hope that it is not a Slipknot ( to quote the name of the metal band) of a question, or impossible to discuss. I have been thinking that it is the core question which goes beyond the dichotomies of metaphysics vs empiricism, religion vs science and determinism vs free will.

    I won't try to offer any definitions of reality, simply because that would seem to defeat the purpose of my question. Of course, that doesn't mean that I am not wishing for people to look for definitions. I don't believe that the question of reality can be described in words easily, but I would not, in any way, be trying to suggest that it is ineffable. I think that this is a delicate juggling act in our thinking.

    When I raise the issue of solidity, I am speaking about foundations and strengths and, of a capacity to stand firm and not be thrown asunder.I am asking about the solidity of the concepts which we have about reality, but also about the solidity of reality itself, especially in the light of the quantum world, as it is understood.

    I hope that my question is not too vague to be seen as worth exploring, because I see it as central to all philosophical exploration.

    Edit: I have changed title, to make it more a topic for philosophy reflection, because I was a bit surprised by how the topic was being explored. Of course, it may not alter any answer because the objective idea of reality may be the way you see it anyway.

  • 180 Proof
    5k
    In sum: real(ity) [is] ineluctable resistance – much much more than being "solid" (e.g. liquids, gases & photons are real, no?) – in so far as the real radically preceeds-exceeds, or exhausts, our concepts and efforts; whatever is real, however, does not require "faith" (PK Dick) and harms or kills whenever one fails to respect (obey) it.

    — Thus Spoke 180 Proof
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    Hello, I hope that I have not gone over the top this time, but it is what I have been thinking about in the last few hours. I really see my threads as adventures in creative writing, but I am genuinely interested in the philosophy questions.I would definitely like to see the questioning of concepts, and I agree that it does not require faith, and I hope that it does not cause harm.

    -Thus Spoke Jack
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    Well, y'know, as a rodeo clown (gadfly provocateur), your thread topics :up:

    (Btw, just dropped "The White Album" ... Paul's drumming on Dear Prudence, man! :flower: )
  • Shawn
    11.4k
    Historically, there's a lot of things that incorporated into the understanding of 'reality', such as souls, the mind, spooky action at a distance, and other phenomena.

    Speaking surjectively about 'reality' leads to idling engines like "is reality solid" and some such.
  • James Riley
    1.2k
    Reality is opposition.

    "Here is sanctity which shames our religions, and reality which discredits our heroes. Here we find nature to be the circumstance which dwarfs every other circumstance, and judges like a god all men that come to her." R.E. Emerson
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I agree that there are all kinds of notions and that the subjective slants often get in the way. However, that is not to try to simply look to objective descriptions which rule out the subjective entirely.

    Anyway, I have raised the question, for better or worse, but I am about to go to bed as it's 1am and will look at any further comments in the morning.
  • Shawn
    11.4k
    I agree that there are all kinds of notions and that the subjective slants often get in the way. However, that is not to try to simply look to objective descriptions which rule out the subjective entirely.Jack Cummins

    Just pointing out when nonsense arises, and possibly as to why it does also. Wittgenstein talks a lot about this.
  • darthbarracuda
    3.2k
    Reality is just kinda like, whatever, dude
  • Pop
    934
    ↪Jack Cummins No.Wayfarer

    Lets see how cryptic we can be? :smile:

    Its not solid.
    Its mind dependent.
    What is its finest grain?
  • skyblack
    315
    There is reality and then there is truth.

    But this will be a step up.
  • Wayfarer
    13.1k
    Such a question can only be understood by framing it in terms of 'domains of discourse'. In different domains, it has different meanings, and I don't think there is an ultimate meaning independent of all domains.

    Since the advent of quantum physics, as Jack points out, the concept of 'what is real' in physics has become much more slippery. In Democritean atomism, atoms were literally a-tomos, un-cuttable or indivisible, and there were only atoms and the void. So, atoms could be thought of as completely existent, and the void as completely non-existent ('1' and '0'). But quantum physics torpedoes that idea, by showing that the answer to the question 'do sub-atomic particles' (not 'atoms') exist?' is the wave equation. They 'kind of' exist, which is a very inconvenient truth for materialism.

    So I think science has actually retreated from trying to answer the 'Big Question'. I was reading an interview with Carlo Rovelli today, and he says:

    I’m not the person who thinks that science is a fundamental explanation of everything. As a scientist, especially one who looks at one side of things, I should not make the mistake of thinking that that’s the overall picture. And so I’m a little mechanic. I think scientists should be humble and not think they’re the masters of today’s knowledge.

    :clap:

    Anyway - if atoms aren't real, does that mean that 'nothing exists'? Most certainly not. All manner of things exist - why, just look at the encyclopedia. But ask what they are all grounded in, how they come to be - now that's a big question. Apropos of which, there are now literally thousands of hours of recorded videos on Robert Lawrence Kuhn's PBS site, Closer to Truth, investigating just this question.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    It's all waves man... with discrete blobs of energy surfing them... shit... my cat's dead...
  • Wayfarer
    13.1k
    'What did you do to the cat, Erwin? It looks half dead' ~ Ms Schrodinger.
  • skyblack
    315
    @Jack Cummins

    To clarify my post above, if the inquirer wants to understand the nature of reality then he or she will ultimately come to the distinction mentioned above. They will be faced with all kinds of questions like:

    What's the distinction between the two? Is it possible to understand both using the same set of tools and the same approach? What methods will one use and what are the limitations of such methods? Can that which is true be ever captured by 'the known'? What are the frontiers of knowledge? So on and so forth.
  • Pop
    934
    They 'kind of' exist, which is a very inconvenient truth for materialism.Wayfarer

    Yes we can safely rule out materials, imo.

    Mind will always be in the picture, we are not going to conceive it mindlessly. :lol:

    CERN were supposed to answer this for us, but they are still smashing particles.

    It's all waves man.Tom Storm

    :up: Self organized waves man. Made of energy and information - Wavicles, Quantum fields, strings?
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I woke up in the night and looked at the answers and I am choosing yours to answer because it suggested that the understanding of reality depends on discourse. So, I am left wondering if apart from your point about physics showing that reality is 'slippery', the whole concept is indeed very slippery too.

    I am not saying that the other answers apart from yours are not useful, but I am a bit disappointed by them. Okay, my question was trying to strip down philosophy to looking at what is at the core. However, the answers are so reductive, and none of them seem to be how I see reality at all. But, in some ways, perhaps what I am talking about is subjective construction of reality, and what the various people here are doing is an attempt to break it down to the objective, raw basics.

    But, I do believe that it is a question which I should have never asked, because I don't think it is likely to result in any depth discussion. It may be because the question is too big, or because the answers here reflect the way reality is viewed now, although I did notice that at least @Pops post says, 'Mind will always be in the picture.'
  • DingoJones
    2.4k


    I’m having trouble with what exactly you are asking...are you basically asking if there is a commonality between all the different definitions of reality? Or am I getting that wrong?
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I suppose that I am partly asking what it all comes down to, but I am also wondering how different people see it, or whether it is commonly negotiabled or agreed upon. I am not asking if there is a God, although I would imagine that those who do believe in God would see it very differently from those who don't. However, I think that it is likely that some people believe in speak of an energy and others speak of God. I know that is a big issue on some levels, but, in some ways perhaps it does not really matter.

    I am aware that when I was in discussion with @180 Proof in the thread which I have on whether science and religion are in opposition, he pointed to the way the numinous can be appreciated without belief in God. I think that is extremely interesting, although he was talking about appreciation in the arts. Of course, art is another slant on reality. I realise that my question may not work very well, because asking it in the abstract form may mean trying to pin reality down in a scientific way.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I have only just noticed your comment, and the good little quotation from Emerson. Generally, I do think that opposition is at the centre of reality, because without conflict between opposites everything would be stagnant, but, here, I am interpreting the idea on a metaphysical principle, although it probably works on many levels.
  • 180 Proof
    5k
    Art is a cipher for, or way of pointing to, the numinous there in the ordinary and mundane. (Thales, Laozi, Blake, Jaspers) From art we can learn to pay better attention to the negligible and insignificant (J. Miller) occasions with which the numinous shows itself. Look and ye shall be found! (gnosis) The encompassing horizon, unbounded immanence, everyday ecstasies. :fire:
  • Manuel
    1.2k
    Reality is, whatever there is.
  • Seditious
    16
    My perception of physical reality is little more than just that, a perception. Has it not been well established that physical matter is mostly empty space? Or, that no physical objects actually touch one other (outside of particle accelerators, for example), but rather that the charge of their constituent electrons repel one another in such a way that we perceive the objects as having contacted one another?

    If science is to be believed, then we live more in a world of perceptual illusion than physical matter. Although, while I have had some acutely strange experiences with reality, I am not immune to willfully forgetting about the nature of reality as I have come to understand it. Why wrestle with such worrying implications when it's so much easier to just get high and act as though everything is as it should be?

    I don't contemplate whether or not the things that I perceive have any basis in an objective reality, to me, it doesn't matter. There is only my perception available to me, and when my perceptions prove unreliable, I adjust my perspective and move on.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I really like your reply because it is honest, about your own view. Of course, my question was rather abstract, but I do believe that an important part of thinking reality probably needs to include the personal components.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    Really, I think that your understanding of the numinous may be part of what I was trying to discuss in my thread on transformation. Perhaps, my discussion of Colin Wilson's ideas, especially his book on 'The Outsider' got in the way.
  • counterpunch
    1.6k
    I really like your reply because it is honest, about your own view. Of course, my question was rather abstract, but I do believe that an important part of thinking reality probably needs to include the personal components.Jack Cummins

    When I speak of reality, I mean to say the object world, existing independently of subjective experience. The nature of reality is almost a separate question. The fact that atoms are mostly empty space is not relevant to the existence, or reality of reality. I think this is a subjectivist canard - among many.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k
    I
    After reading the various responses I got I have realised that I am asking the question wrongly, and should be asking about personal view reality. I became aware of that when I just read a more personal response. It is probably stupid of me to have asked it so abstractly, because I was not really looking for a scientific kind of definition or explanation. I was raising the topic for some kind of philosophical reflection. So, I am about to add the word 'your' to the title. But, I do apologise for making changes, to you or anyone else who has replied to the thread already.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k
    I am going to try to move this to the lounge because if it seen more as personal reflection that may be more appropriate really.
  • TheMadFool
    10.8k
    real(ity) [is] ineluctable resistance180 Proof

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away — Philip K. Dick

    @Jack Cummins

    X is real IFF X exists independent of our perceptions. What does that mean? It means that X exists even when no one perceives X. For instance, if the moon exists only when at least one person perceives it, the moon isn't real.

    However, there's a catch. To know if a certain X is real by the above definition of real, we need to fulfill the condition that

    1. X must exist when no one is perceiving X

    The condition 1 is impossible to meet because to know that "1. X must exist when no one is perceiving X", there must be at least one person (say A) who perceives X as existing when no one is perceiving X but then this person (A) is perceiving X and that means it's false that no one is perceiving X.

    Do you see the problem?

    1. What must be known for X to be real: X exists even when no one is perceiving X.
    2. How 1(above) can be known: Someone must perceive X exists even when no one is perceiving X.

    2 (above) is impossible as if someone is perceiving X is true, no one is perceiving X is false.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.4k

    I think that your answer is extremely interesting and was the kind of discussion which I was hoping for, but I will not attempt to answer it just now because I didn't manage to sleep. After your reply, I am tempted to put the thread back in the main discussion chamber. I partly moved it because I am creating too many. It can be a bit addictive, but I do enjoy inventing them as I don't have many creative outlets at the moment.
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