What’s real?

Published 07/01/2012 by MoonieZ

How do I know the world is really real? I don’t. I perceive it to be real and consistent. I expect from experience it will be about the same today as it was yesterday. The sky will be up and the ground down and the sun will rise in the east and set to the south and I will have my feet on the grounds and not float around freely. There’ll be air to breathe and water to drink.

How do I know a fellow human being is really real? Sure, if they are close enough to reach out and touch, I can use my senses and see, feel, smell, taste and  hear that they are indeed as real as I am. Not that I’m always so sure of my own realness or of my perception of reality.  However, I accept the information my senses give me and conclude the human being in front of me is really real unless there’s something to make me suspect otherwise.

So far so good. Now, how do I know for sure a human being I’ve never been that close to, is really real ? Someone I’ve only seen in pictures and/or only heard speaking? I can’t be really sure about that person being really real since all I have is the information from two of my senses – sight and hearing. Both vision and sound can be manipulated though and make me believe I’m seeing and hearing someone when in fact in reality it’s someone else. Not easy to determine.

Of course, a really real human being right in front of me may also pretend to be someone else but equally real human being and I might not be able to tell in that case either.

In the end it comes down to instinct, experience and trust. So I ask myself some questions along those lines.

Do my gut instincts tell me this human being is in fact really real and really the human being I think it is? Is this human being behaving the same as yesterday, or the time of my last observation, and does this person’s behaviour match the behaviour of a typical human being? Do I trust this human being to not be trying to give a wrong impression of who he/she is?

If all of these questions can be answered with a “yes” , all is good. If not, further investigation has to take place before a decision can be made.

Why do I write this? A valid question. I happened to think about this right now, is the simple answer.

I’ve been interested in the way human perception can’t always be trusted and the way mediated reality can be manipulated and how it is distorted for a long time. I find myself intrigued by the fact that humans, myself included, so often and so willingly seek to suspend our disbelief and be seduced by mediated images of reality. Is the real world such a terrible place to be in, since we must seek to escape from it so often during the course of a lifetime?

Or is it the way the mind works, that in order to remain sane thoughts, feelings creativity and imagination must roam freely as much as possible? I do not have the answers, and I am not always looking for the scientific answers to these matters. I enjoy thinking about it anyway.

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