What is reality?

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Last updated: February 9, 2019

There is a number of views on reality, which can be generally divided into two categories: idealism and realism; the former the co-presence of consciousness and object a source of interdependence between existence and consciousness, whereas the latter questions the very interdependence. In fact both the findings of psychological research and the very existence of existence (the justified tautology) demonstrate that reality is basically independent upon human consciousness unless the unity of apperception in phenomenological meaning is developed.The basic ontological premise of idealism is the following: human-being thinks, therefore they exist, as a result, they construct reality within their consciousness.

Therefore, logos is the foundation of reality and thus fabricates the internal human existence on the basis of specific information, received by consciousness-driven senses; in this sense, consciousness and the presence of the object are simultaneous, therefore, if the person is not aware of the fact that there is a stone behind their back, the stone actually does not exist. Realists, in turn, ground their argument on the premise that individuals are not merely conscious (as a fact0, but also conscious of something ( as a process), so the reality definitely existed before the interaction between human cognitive apparatus and the concrete object takes places. Hence the realist account of the above mentioned relationship can be formulated as “Human-being exists and therefore has objective physical substrates for thinking, so consciousness is shaped by reality”. As one knows the 20th century neuropsychological research suggests that intelligence is a faculty that relates to certain brain structures, so the process of thinking refers to the construction of new links between neurons on the basis of the information deriving from sensory input.The fallacy of idealism with inherent subjectivism can be illustrated using the situation of John Kennedy’s murder. A crowd of people observing the ceremonial arrival of the Kennedies suddenly see the President falling and dying of the wounds, definitely caused by firearm. Given that people actually do not see the murderer, they should believe firearm injuries appear by themselves, as they are not able to notice either the bullet or the assassin.

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Nevertheless, nobody of them ever faced such cases, so there are certain common traits in each person’s experiences, which are subsequently objectified. In addition, individuals have similar structure of senses and algorithm of sense perception, as they see the same picture and basically interpret it in the same way as the public assassination. If the consciousness was the foundation of existence, there should be striking differences between the internal realities, crafted by each individual observer.In this sense, it would be also useful to remember Kant’s transcendental idealism whose intrinsic goal is the explanation of the transition from consciousness to the highest form of thinking about one’s existence. In fact, the scholar positions transcendence as Quaestio Juris (Heidegger, 1997), or the basic human entitlement that results from  the inherent responsiveness to the perception of objects. In this sense, the author actually objectifies the subjective, positions human characteristic into the objective context of social norms and rights.

Therefore, the pure subjectivism, suggested by idealism, can not exist without the so-called “common ground”, or acceptance of objective rules, when speaking in phenomenological terms. In this sense, Heidegger wisely notes that unity of apperception, or existence of superstructural and universal patterns of perception and its further processing in each individual.In fact, the unity of apperception is directed towards meeting human needs for influencing the objective reality and making it dependent upon their consciousness.

For this purpose, individuals refer to the pre-existing models and frameworks in order to establish a logical connection between the past and the present and planning their intervention into the reality in the future. Unless these patterns are created and adopted by common consent, there is a single-sided influence of reality upon human consciousness rather than mutual dependence.

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