The nature of reality (Philosophy Fridays #4)

Oh boy. Today we are tackling a huge topic; not only is it our first look into real philosophy, it’s also a very important topic. We are about to dive into the world of metaphysics (the study of reality). Get ready because it is going to be one wild trip. If everything goes according to plan, you will question all of your life and your own existence; maybe even reach meaningful answers. Slap that ‘continue reading’ button to, well, continue reading.

You might want to read these 3 posts first, in them, we explore the basics of philosophy:
Philosophy Fridays #1
Philosophy Fridays #2
Philosophy Fridays #3

With that out of the way, let us get started.
One of the most discussed topics in philosophy is what constitutes reality, and how you can tell the difference between what you think is real and what actually is real. Let’s look at one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s most well-known movies to better understand this concept: Inception. One of the themes the movie most heavily explores is questioning if your reality is just a dream; the further you go into the movie, the more confused the characters become regarding this specific situation. So, one of the questions for this week (yes, we will have more than one)2 is: Is it possible that your current reality isn’t real at all?

This leads us to our second topic of the day, epiphanies. For the purpose of this post we will be dealing with this definition of epiphany: “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.” (dictionary.com). Many of the thought experiments related to basic metaphysics involve some kind of epiphany. Let me present you with an example, let’s say that you have a teddy bear; this is the only version of a bear you have ever seen in your life. Considering you know no better, you would think that all bears are cute, cuddly, have buttons for eyes and will always be the shoulder you can cry on. Now, let’s say you go to a national park or a zoo and you see a real bear, everything you thought you knew about bears was wrong. Bears are big, they aren’t exactly cute, they have big teeth, big claws and, even if it doesn’t look like that, cuddling with them is a bad idea. Those ‘Aha!’ moments you get when you discover a new aspect of reality are what we call epiphanies, and the point of metaphysics is that you are never safe from them; your world can always be turned upside down, there is always that chance that everything you know is a lie. To paraphrase Plato, the physical world which we assume to be the most real is nothing but the shadow of a higher truth.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Think again; and think about everything that was once held as fact and that has now been disproven. The shape of the earth, the earth being the centre of the universe, the belief that heroin, tobacco and lobotomies were good for you, etc. Those all turned out to be completely and utterly wrong, so why should our current beliefs be regarded as fact? Aren’t they also at risk of being as wrong as the thought that the earth is flat? 

Walking to a bright light after being exposed to darkness can be both very confusing and very rewarding; for Plato, philosophy is just like that. Yes, it may confuse you at first, maybe it makes you uncomfortable that maybe everything is fake, but once you learn to accept these things and start thinking about meaningful answers, philosophy can be quite enlightening.

That’s it for today’s post, let’s discuss the three questions that I have conveniently bolded on the comment section below. I hope you all liked our first trip into metaphysics, and I’ll see you next week.

Pizza Ninja

Pizza Ninja

Amazing guy. Communist. Friend.

4 Comments:

  1. I believe that there is a chance that our reality isn’t actually real. Additionally, there is a chance our current beliefs are incorrect. However, as science advances, it is easier to prove things true from a scientific standpoint.

    This whole idea of reality, and the possibility that it might not actually be real, I believe is part of the reason why people are religion. We seek answers and knowledge in a world that is confusing and, scary. I say scary because no matter how fearless, no matter how daring you may be, all humans have a natural fear of death, because no one knows for sure what happens after you take your last breath.

    Nice post, Pizza! I would write more but I’m in class.

    • The world could be a simulation. Your points about religion march up with mine,(I am atheist),though mythology interests me more than philosophy.

  2. That is trippy. My opinion on this matter is that i just see life simply and my role in life is waking up early each day and going to school haha. when i think of this stuff i get so confused; i think it is interesting, but i believe in what i see and what i know from experience.

    (even though this post is saying that my whole life could be a lie lol)

    🙂

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