The Onion Theory
Reality can be viewed as like an onion. There is an outside layer, the reality of everyday life, common sense reality so to speak, but as you look beyond that outer layer you find first, not just one "reality", but many as the common sense reality of different cultures is considered. In addition, close examination of reality leads to ever more sophisticated definitions of reality as one moves from everyday reality to sophisticated theories of philosophy. The notion that there is another reality which lies behind everyday reality was classicaly expressed by Plato a philosopher of ancient Greece in Plato's allegory of the cave where everyday reality is compared to shadows and echos of a deeper truer reality.
1. All that has been; is; or can be. The ultimate nature of things. All Noumena.
3. The nature of things as established by authority or social norms. The world view internalized from one's parents and peers. One's reality includes one's culture, social status and sense of what is right and wrong.
Reality in sense No. 3 is socially constructed. An individual does not sui generis internalize the external world from experience and analysis but in large part absorbs from others the social constructs which make up a culture. One's sense of what is "real" may at times differ from what acually is which is sure to make life interesting. In some mental states such as psychosis or delirium, the subject's perception of the world may be strikingly at odds with the social consensus. In some surrealist, idealist and other theoretical writing this is called "consensus reality". The phrase "social construction of reality" is ambiguous by nature as it may refer to either the worldview acquired by a person during socialization (really knowledge) or that portion of reality which is a social or cultural product, social reality as developed by John R. Searles in his book The Construction of Social Reality.
The physiological creation of reality
It is arguable that none of us directly perceives reality (even if a single physical reality can be demonstrated to exist). (Direct realism, however, questions this assertion.) The following account represents the current beliefs of cognitive scientists.
The brain receives information from a variety of channels, all of which are more limited that they appear, as is demonstrated by the existence of optical and other sensory illusions. Standard models of human perception estimate our information-processing capacity for the external world at a few hundred bits per second of conscious information.
Vision: an example of the creation of reality
In spite of this, we live with an illusion of a hi-fi 360-degree full-colour full-motion sharp-focus external visual reality (that would take several gigabits per second to represent) that is assembled from a series of gazes and fixations of a very limited foveal visual field, combined with blurry low-resolution surrounding vision and peripheral motion-detection.
The rest, as many experiments in human vision have shown, is supplied by the imagination. Indeed, it is reasonable to describe the whole human visual field as a hallucination -- albeit an active hallucination that is kept up-to-date and consistent with reality wherever information is available. When this checking mechanism fails, the phenomenon of unreal hallucinations is generated by the same mechanism that generates the "real" ones as optical illusions.
Illusionists manipulate these mechanisms to generate their illusions, by generating misleading and distracting stimuli designed to spoof the visual and perceptual systems into generating the impression of unreal events.
All cultures admit of alternate realities, some quite esoteric
Listening to the disputes of groups with widely separated points of view, it is clear that they actually have different points of view about what is self-evident -- that is, "real". Often, they reveal their biases by describing their viewpoint as the "real world" or their views as those of "real people" or "ordinary people", showing that they consider the beliefs of their opponents to be disordered and unreal.
Some commonplace examples are Israeli reality versus Palestinian reality; Democratic Party reality versus Republican Party reality; and male reality versus female reality. Surrealist beliefs about the nature of reality are radically different from those of most people. There are also semi-real virtual realities such as within a MUD.
- more is needed on this topic, including the social dimensions of acceptable behavior and manifestations of
Psychoactive drugs and the perception of reality
- stuff to go here on the effect of psychoactive drugs on perception of reality
Reality, sanity, and mental illness
- to be written
Religious views of reality
Platonic forms and the philosophy of reality
Reality and quantum physics
- stuff to be written on the Copenhagen interpretation and Everett many-worlds interpretations of quantum physics, including the concept of the Multiverse (science)
Reality in fiction
- stuff to be written on Philip K. Dick, Jorge Luis Borges and other authors whose work involves themes of reality and perception
- "Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality," Pierre Jules Theophile Gautier.
- "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in all of your philosophy", Shakespeare, speaking as Hamlet.
- 3 views of reality
- Quantum Reality
- Bertrand Russell on Appearance and Reality
- A Marxist perspective
- The Philosophy of George Berkeley
- The cognitive studies program at Tufts University
- New York Times article "The Universe Seems So Simple, Until You Have to Explain It"
- The Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch, published March 1997, Publisher Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, ISBN 014027541X
- Telling the Truth, Lyne V. Cheney, Simon & Schuster, 1995, hardcover, 256 pages, ISBN 0-684-81101-4 A strong case for a conventional commonsense reality.
- The Language WarRobin Tolmach Lakoff, University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2000, hardcover, 322 pages, ISBN 0-520-21666-0 A sociolinguistic approach which contrasts sharply with Lyne Cheney's Telling the Truth
- The Construction of Social Reality, John R. Searle, The Free Press, 1995, hardcover: ISBN 0-02-928045-1 trade paperback: ISBN 0-684-83179-1 The nature of that part of external reality which is a social or cultural product, e.g. money, marriage, government, hula hoops, etc. Also contains few chapters on realism.
- Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Carl G. Jung, edited by Aneila Jaffe, translated by Richard and Clara Winston, Vintage Books, 1989, trade paperback, 430 pages, ISBN 0679723951, hardback ISBN 1199538892 An autobiography of the psyche which illustrates the role of internal experience.