Is A Single Definition of Reality Too Much To Ask For?

Reality: if regarded from the empirical perspective, this refers to the ordinary world of nature; if regarded from the transcendental perspective, it refers to the transcendent realm of the noumenon.

I just found this definition of "Reality" and it's just about as helpful as it could possibly be. Did I say helpful? Of course I meant unhelpful. I don't mean this as a criticism of whoever was the anonymous lexicographer who wrote it. Only that it is not one definition, but two masquerading as one. It seems ironic that this should be so. We associate the world reality with solidness, lack of ambiguity, and all those other straightforward qualities - and yet it seems we are not to have the luxury of a single cosy definition.

Which one to choose? Most people I guess would choose the first. Naturally I would choose the second, and more especially because of that very reason. If most people choose a particular way of viewing reality, that seems an excellent reason to reject it. After all, if you look around, it hasn't done them much good, has it?

The real world is the world that exists beyond appearances. The observer is the creator of the universe. That is an axiomatic statement. If I had to climb down from that position, I would only descend as far as to say that the observer is the co-creator of the universe.

Who is the partner in this co-creation? This is difficult to answer, not because there is any difficulty in  formulating the notion, but because most of the words used to describe it are so heavily loaded with historical accretions of meaning as to render them almost useless for rational debate. Many of my readers will remember the ruckus that ensued after I used the word "God" in this context. For this reason I always avoid using the word whenever possible, unless my interlocutor demonstrates a clear understanding of its use in a Berkeleyan sense.

Well, not exactly a Berkeleyan sense, although not far away.

But such a situation is all too rare.


nothing profound said...

I prefer poetic definitions of reality. Like Wallace Stevens: "Reality is a cliche by which we escape from metaphor." Or Jean Anouilh: "I like reality. It tastes of bread." I don't know how true they are, but they're lots of fun.

Aimee said...

Yes, they are a lot of fun.

For example, T. S. Eliot: Human kind cannot bear very much reality.

Or Vladimir Nabokov: "Reality" is a word that should never be written without quotation marks.