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What does reality look like?

  1. Jul 5, 2012 #1
    What is the scientific understanding, and what are peoples' personal opinions about the nature of "reality"

    Are we living in a reality where everything is basically solid, real, and for the the most part definable by the classical laws of physics, with the quantum world of entangled particles and probabilities existing only at the extreme fringes of reality? But in essence all that exists, is the universe that we see around us with some small artifacts of an underlying world, but nothing more?

    Or is reality some multidimensional, ethereal quantum world where probability rules and what we perceive to be "real" is merely one possible manifestation of it, with countless other universes and realities existing outside of our ability to perceive them? Does what we perceive to be real "emerge" from a much larger underlying reality? We used to think of the universe as being inconceivably massive, but now we have to consider the possibility that the universe itself may be an insignificant speck in a yet more massive reality.

    What really is "reality"? Just how "real" is what we perceive to be reality? Is our universe all there is? Does our universe emerge from some underlying quantum "universe"?

    There are so many unanswered questions, but they begin with, what is "reality"?

    So what is reality?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 6, 2012 #2
    Ever hear the joke phrase, "Reality; what a concept!"?

    But it is true; "reality" is always a concept within the framework of a mind. A mind emerges from what... nobody knows. Current thinking is that the mind is subject to the brain and the brain subject to its inputs and internal processes... and that the outer most functioning boundary of the brain is its neural signals - both incoming and out going. Everything else is conceptual.
    Have you heard the story of the three monks looking at a flag? The novice says the flag is moving, his teacher says the wind is moving, the master says the mind is moving...

    We conceive of reality as the basis for this whole thing but have only indirect evidence of that. The most direct evidence seems to be the peculiar and surprising correspondence between the mind's sense of "logos" (the operations of logic and math) and the apparently well behaved pieces of reality that seem to operate in accord with this "logos" and may be described and predicted by it...

    As far as good guesses for what reality "looks like", there have been some good ones... you might compare Pythagoras, Lucretius, Berkeley, Newton, Leibniz, Kant, Wittgenstein, and Einstein for example, to get a sense of a few different approaches to conceiving reality that seem to have made some progress...
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  4. Jul 6, 2012 #3
    everything (including definitions) is relative. of course its solid, real as defined by human (mind).

    the universe could be (and is) much more than we can see.

    we don't see magnetic waves (some birds might feel it though), EM waves, gravity waves, Higgs (hmm....this word is not in the ie spell checker yet) field etc.

    could be...but it does not matter.....we have to face our realities here

    could be (and probably is).

    like dark matter, for example?

    let's say there are two kinds:

    1. human defined, per the human experience -- >self coined definition - that (part of human imagination) which is verifiable via various means for example experiments, testing, maths, statistics etc

    2. the real reality -- now this concept is tricky. what does it mean? you need a conscious entity to define the reality.
    which the human mind may, or may not ever, comprehend with advancement in knowledge

    reality is also defined by the human mind and keeps changing as human knowledge progresses.

    for example: newtons laws have been upgraded with the discovery (of the concept) of relativity and perhaps, one day, we will upgrade relativity (time-space) with better understanding of quantum mechanics
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  5. Jul 6, 2012 #4
    This is a philosophical question? Having said that, I don't think we will ever know. Two strong arguments (in my opinion) taking this skeptical position that I've come across are the two arguments offered by Fodor and Chomsky respectively, as quoted below. Kinda depressing at times:
    Skepticism and Naturalism: Can Philosophical Skepticism be Scientifically Tested?
    http://www.nmsu.edu/~philos/documents/naturalism-and-skepticism.pdf [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Jul 6, 2012 #5
    Based on experimental evidence, there exists that which is outside of you. However, all observations are not of reality, they are of electrical impulses, so reality is sort of half a hologram.
  7. Jul 6, 2012 #6
    Thanks to everyone for the answers so far. I suppose that I was looking for an answer that was more scientific and less philosophical, but I suppose that the question doesn't lend itself very well to scientific definition. But perhaps I should set it as a task to figure it out. Should be a good way to kill some free time. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and I do love a good puzzle.
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