What is reality?

The purpose of this collegium is to establish a group for those interested in ancient philosophy and a place where philosophical discussion and study may take place. Join at: http://romanrepublic.org/civitas/joint_ ... sophiae/42

Moderators: Gaius Flavius Aetius, Marca Marcia, Aula Flavia Philippa, Paullus Aemilius Gallus

What is reality?

Postby Mania Aurelia Apollonia » Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:55 am


I've pondered this for many years. What is reality?

Is it our everyday waking experience, where we can quantify by what we touch, see, taste, etc.?

Or is it a dream world?

I've had many dreams that have been more real than my every day life. Where I could feel pain, sickness, die. I also have the ability to go to certain dream areas again, and go lucid and explore. Almost like an astral projection, but while asleep. I can't always do this. But this brings me to this point, I also suffer from night terrors and nightmares at times. Even going lucid doesn't stop them.

So, guys and gals,

What is reality? What really is real? What is realness?

Know thyself - Γνῶθι σεαυτόν - Nosce te ipsum
User avatar
Mania Aurelia Apollonia
Apollinis Sacerdos
Apollinis Sacerdos
Posts: 41
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:21 am
Location: Eria

Re: What is reality?

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Thu Jun 29, 2017 9:55 am

Salve, Aurelia Apollonia!

Now that is a pretty difficult question.
I remember a saying of the Taoist philosopher Chuang-Tse, where he said something like: "Last night I dreamed I was a butterfly. Now I do not know if I am a man who dreamed that he was a butterfly or a butterfly who dreams that he is a man."

My answer to this question goes along with quantum mechanics. I would define "real" as everything that can have a direct or indirect causal relationship with us. This excludes everything in the universe which is beyond our event horizon, i.e. too far away to ever have a causal connection with us.
A dream is in so far "real" as its memory or experience affects us.

What we have to consider is that the world itself is infinite (even it the universe may be not). The number of possible things is finite. Therefore everything that is possible must necessarily exist and in an infinite number, but it is beyond our perception. This is as Epicurus correctly described the world.
This means that every possible creature as well all fictitious stories written and imagined by humans, as long as they are possible, do indeed exist somewhere in the infinite world. What makes them "not real" is the fact that they are beyond our horizon of causality.
Even things that are close to us may not be real, as long as they are not observed, i.e. before we make a causal connection with them.
The classical example is the Double Slit Experiment, which proves that photons (or electrons) are not real before we observe them and can pass through both slits of the experiment at the same time. They only become real when we observe them.
Or Schroedinger's Cat is another example, which remains half dead and half alive before it is observed. Indeed the cat is not real for the observer before he observed it.
In physical terms "reality" is a web of quantum entanglements. The world exists just as possibility, parts of it become real for us, when they are quantum entangled with us. For another consciousness other things can be real that are not real for us.
It may be noted that I make a distinction between "real" and "existing" here. Everything that is possible necessarily exists due to the infinity of the world. But not all of it is real for us.

So in short words, Reality is everything that is causally connected with us either directly or indirectly.

Optime valete!
C. Florius Lupus

P.S.: It should also be mentioned that other philosophers gave different answers. For Plato only ideas were real ("Allegory of the Cave" in his Politeia), for Aristotle it was form and matter and all abstract ideas only derived from it. However modern science supports Epicurus' view.
User avatar
Gaius Florius Lupus
Posts: 583
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:33 am
Location: Regnum Siamum

Return to Collegium Philosophicum