Some Thoughts on the Nature of Reality

Summary The following few pages contain few thoughts on reality in general, Kantian view of it, whether mathematics captures it and why reality is an interconnected phenomenon. This is not a comprehensive essay on reality but some personal views that may be useful in understanding our grasp of reality.

What does my reality means? On one wintry night I reversed my car out of a parking space and was about to move forward. Then I noticed another car reversing out of the parking space next to where I had parked. I froze in time and was wishing my car would not be hit. But the little thud happened. Later when I recalled the incident, I only could think of a rear of a black car softly bumping the front bumper bar of my car. But the photos showed a dark maroon coloured car instead of a black car. The image my mind built was taking into account the darkness of the surrounds. My perceptions are not always the reality. The world I perceive can be coloured by many things including the ambient light. Unless we are unconscious or asleep, we live in the world of our minds rather than in our bodies. With every passing second, our existence becomes one of the mind rather than one of the body. Our life before this exact second is a series of memories, at times, jumbled up. Aptly, as Plato wrote about teachings of Heraclitus, “nothing ever is, everything is becoming” (Russell, 1961). In a book review I wrote previously I talked about three types of human existence based on memories, namely biographical, autobiographical and historical . Cartesian “Cogito ergo sum” becomes more complicated. Descartes asks “How could one deny that these hands and that my whole body exist?” (Cahn,1990). Do I have a continuous existence, even in the constant flux, as I am a ‘thinking being’? Am I the ‘thinking being’ as perceived by myself and as remembered by others? The person who remembered the colour of the car as black in my previous anecdote is the same person who experienced the accident as my memories link me back to the accident. But my memory failed me and I am now months older. Can a memory of a past dream get spliced with my other memories and create a new reality? Thus, the reality of our existence possibly is subjective at best and Descartes’ body in front of the fireplace feeling his hands is simply a continuum of momentary proprioception and thought. Our biographical existence together with our autobiographical and historical exitance make us feel real. Basically, our existence or reality in general is not an isolated phenomenon but a whole consisting of collection of frames of reference .

This article in full is available at Humanities Commons

Related Article:
Visual Intelligence; How We Create What We See by Donald D. Hoffman, W. W. Norton, New York, 2000

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The website aims to show the possible origin of religion through a ‘uniquely’ human process which has links to the seclusion of girls at puberty. It also advocates the view that the Paleolithic Venus figurines are related to these puberty rites and hence, the prehistoric Venus figurines may carry a much larger meaning. Thus, Religion is something more than a throwback from our animal past.
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