Nothing is what is real?by Jason Dulle
New Scientist has a short video discussing the proper understanding of reality. It’s a 2:30 philosophical mess! It’s almost as bad as their video on how the universe came from nothing, but I won’t go there.
They present two definitions of reality. Their first definition is that “reality is everything that would still be here if there was no one around to experience it.” But they find this view problematic because “as far as we know, we humans actually do exist, and a lot of the things that we can all agree are real, like language, or war, or consciousness, wouldn’t exist without us.” What?
This objection is irrelevant. Yes, humans exist, but how does that count against this definition of reality? The definition doesn’t assume or require that people do not exist. It merely holds that some X is real if and only if X would still obtain in the absence of a mind to think about it. While it goes without saying that those things germane to humans would not exist if humans did not exist, what does that have to do with everything else non-human? The question is whether anything else would exist if we didn’t exist, not whether things unique to humans would exist if humans did not exist.
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What’s the other definition of reality? It’s that reality is nothing. How do they arrive at this bizarre conclusion? By even more bizarre logic. Their approach to the question is reductionistic: The feature of reality that gives rise to all other features of reality is true reality. So what is this fundamental reality? It can’t be matter because matter is constituted by (>) molecules > atoms > electrons > quarks > fields, and who knows what else. No matter how many times we subdivide physical reality into constituent parts, the smallest part we arrive at still cannot constitute fundamental reality because what these things exist in is even more fundamental: space-time…
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