- May 25, 2020
WHAT IS REALITY?
The field of philosophy seeks to give explanations to fundamentaland general issues in the lives of humans like knowledge, values,existence, language, the mind among others. Therefore, it is avital field in defining human problems. As a result, thephilosophical question “What is reality?”attracts much attention in this research paper. Moreover, the films,The Matrix by the Wachowskis and Walking life byRickard Linklater are selected to explain the philosophical question.Three philosophical points of view and apersonal analysis are to be explored forfurther understanding of the question.
Reality refers to the state in which things actuallyexist, as opposed to the way they may be imaginedor appear (Yacobi, 2013, p.201). Therefore, reality has to becomprehensible and observable. The first viewpoint is that of BenYacobi (Yacobi, 2013, p.201). He acknowledges that there is no clearanswer to the philosophical question but instead narrows down toindividual perceptions. As a result, Yacobiexplains that there is a need todistinguish between ultimate and apparent reality as well as betweenhuman-independent or physical reality and human-constructed or mentalreality (Yacobi, 2013, p.202). Therefore, physical reality extends inspace with properties that are physical like mass. However, mentalreality only exists in the minds of the observer. In this regard, onedefines his/her own reality (Yacobi, 2013,p.202). Considering all these forms, Yacobi says that one’s realityappears to observers as only a partially represented section of thereality that is ultimate (Yacobi, 2013, p.203). The ultimate realityis not defined by words or concepts but can be thought to beunchangeable. However, anything existing in the universe has noguarantee of being permanent. Even constants and the physicallaw could change.
Therefore, ultimate reality cannot be realizedbecause an explanation as to how much truth humans know andhow much of it is inaccessible is not available. Ultimately, thefinal truth may not even be in existence(Yacobi, 2013, p.203).
Ludwig Boltzmann, an Austrian physicist,had a different point of view of reality as recorded by Marcelo andAntonio (Ribeiro & Videira, 2013). His viewwas that the existence of an external matter or world mustbe seen in the light of another problem (Ribeiro &Videira, 2013, p.3). We have to identify whether the answer of theproblem simplifies or complicates our view of reality and the world.Boltzmann evades discussions with philosophers as he deems themuseless (Ribeiro & Videira, 2013, p.3). However, he seemed toacknowledge that no proof is definitiveagainst or for the existenceof reality (Ribeiro & Videira, 2013, p.4). Ultimately, hesays realism and idealism are just ideologies,and no one could proof the allegations. He further implies that onecan just choose between realism andidealism because it is personally dependent(Ribeiro & Videira, 2013, p.4).
Bertrand Russel proposes a good analogy of reality and appearance(Russell, 2013, p.1). He has a table in his room that is brown incolor but reflects different colors when the lightis shone upon it (Russell, 2013, p.1). Moreover, the colors change ashe shifts the table position. Therefore, tothe sense of sight, touch, and smell, thetable remains the same, which is appearance, however, he askshimself, what are those colors and where do they comefrom? The painter only knows what the colors seem to be but aphilosopher needs to understand what the colors are (Russell, 2013,p.2). Ultimately, Russel lacks an exact answer to the questions andfinalizes that reality is hard to prove butphilosophy has asked questions thatactivate human thinking. He summarizes that philosophy answers fewerquestions that we ask (Russell, 2013, p.2).
The Matrix is a movie that involves Neo, a hacker during thenight and a developer of software during the day (The Matrix,2016). Morpheus tells Neo that everyone else, including him,have been living an illusionary life created by Matrix, a massivecomputer. Ultimately, Neo manages to escape the Matrix and togetherwith Morpheus, re-enters and manages to fight the Matrix’s agents(The Matrix, 2016). The movie elicits questions like how do weknow whether our perceptions are just illusions or real? Moreover, itquestions the reality of life as eitherbeing just a dream or not. Furthermore, we are unable to explainwhether our thoughts are being manipulatedor our knowledge of reality is real. The film entails manipulation ofthe soul and the mind where actions of humans have no trueconsequences in an existent world independent of their mind.Therefore, Neo experiences some lucid and vivid dreams that he is notsure whether it is reality or just a dream (The Matrix, 2016).The same happens in real life for other people. Noclear test distinguishes lucid/vivid dreams from real worldperceptions under circumstances that are normal. On the other hand,we are able to understand that Neo has adream quality that makes him distinguish between reality andillusions, the reason he re-enters the Matrix (The Matrix,2016). The film is predictable in handling perceptual and sensorymanipulations. However, it suggests that neurological research couldbe helpful in unearthing illusionary relations of the brain andreality. The film throws us into a conclusion that indeed what weexperience could be under the manipulationof some unknown controllers.
Walking life is a movie thatinvolves a young man who is not named and participatesin a series of dreams (The Walking life, 2001). Henavigates in different scenes as he listens to variousphilosophers’ theories and intellectuals. WileyWiggins played the unnamed guy, and he isdropped in Austin from an unknown trip of illusions. In thesecond scene, he realizes that he is in a trap of lucid dreams andtries to wake up. After the efforts of waking up fail, heconcludes that he is in the afterlife following his death and issuffering a condition of illusions in the other world (The Walkinglife, 2001). He can see whatphilosophers and other scholars explain about human existence. Inthis regard, the movie unearths a given point about reality, thatdreams do exist and the difference between them and reality isthat we can realize afterward that we arein a dream. This is the reason Wiley triesto wake up but fails (The Walking life, 2001). RichardLinklater, the creator of the film, saysthat it was intentionally philosophical about his ideas of realismand dreaming (The Walking life, 2001). Therefore, he succeedsin demarcating between reality and dreaming.
My answer to the question “What is reality?”is that the absolute truths remain hangingin the balance. There is no clear evidence that the life we areleading is either a dream or reality because the ultimate realityis hard to get. We can break an issue down,and all that remains to explain further are theories. For instance,we know the sun exists, but how did it get there? Why do planetsrevolve in different ways? Who initiated the revolutions and whocreated us? I would say it is God, butscientists and philosophers have no proof. This isproven by the three points of view by Yacobi, Russel, and Boltzmann.The three conclude their pieces by saying there is a lackof evidence. The Matrix and The Walking life allend in unclear explanation of reality. One is ableto realize that the characters in the films have anunderstanding of their reality, but they donot substantiate the real reality.
Conclusively, reality is hard tounderstand because the evidence that has beenestablished over time is inconclusive. Three points of vieware considered to explain the matter. Yacobi(2013) acknowledges that there is no clear explanation but says thatindividual perceptions are what defines reality. Ludwig Boltzmann hasa view that the existence of reality has to bescrutinized in the light of anotherproblem. Therefore, if it handles the problem, then aspects ofreality could be seen, but if not, thenthere is no reality. Bertrand Russel proposed an analogy of the tabledistinguishing between reality and appearance. Ultimately, he saysthat a philosopher questions the origin of the color changes when thelight is shone on the table but finds noanswers. The films Matrix and Walking life entailcharacters who undergo lucid dreams but later realize that they aredreaming. On a personal basis, reality is hard todefine considering the lack of clear evidence.
Ribeiro, M. & Videira,A. (2013). Boltzmann`s Concept of Reality. JournalOf The Community Development Society,3-4. Retrieved fromhttp://cds.cern.ch/record/1013890/files/0701308.pdf
Russell, B. (2013). TheProblems of Philosophy. PhilosophyEast And West, 49(1),1-2. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1400126
The Matrix.(2016). American-Australian.
The Walking life.(2001). USA.
Yacobi, B. (2013). The HumanDilemma Life Between Illusion and Reality. JournalOf Philosophy Of Life, 3(3),202-203. Retrieved from http://www.philosophyoflife.org/jpl201312.pdf