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kevbo's avatar

Do you think much about how malleable reality is? Does it freak you out or blow your mind?

Asked by kevbo (23392 points ) January 10th, 2010

If so, how do you deal, and what do you do, especially if your understanding is uncommon?

What I’m getting at is that we obviously understand reality from our own perspective. Collectively, we might have a mostly common understanding of greater reality, but whether it’s personal baggage that has given us ideas of how things should go or religious or political ideology or human rights issues or the influence of addiction or even the difference between what we believed in the past versus what we believe or understand now is reality not essentially chimerical?

We may say that others are wrong in their ideas or that we were wrong in our own ideas from the past (or that our elders who carry ideas from the past were wrong or misled), but our impulse in the moment is to treat whatever ideas or perceptions we have in the present as reality. Collectively, that which is most commonly agreed upon (plus what has the benefit of being enforced by collectively ceded power) is truth and reality. (I also want to squeeze in here somewhere the idea that one man’s truth is another man’s propaganda.) For example, unequal rights for women and minorities in the U.S. was truth and reality for an entire and substantial segment of society up until a few decades ago. It’s still true in some (many?) parts of the world. I would venture to assume that on Fluther, most of us believe this is wrong, but it doesn’t change it’s very real nature for millions or billions of people around the world.

Do you get what I’m saying?

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11 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

No, but I do think it is far out, dude.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Well no, because it’s not reality at all.

Reality is what is. What we commonly accept as reality is our perception of what is, as you explained in your comment.

What freaks me out is that collectively we could change our global perception of the world to benefit everyone, yet we firmly embrace our own individual perceptions and allow ourselves to be influenced by those among us who have vested interests in everyone perceiving “reality” a certain way.

Spinel's avatar

Are you real, or a figment of someone else’s imagination? Am I real?

The truth is, you lost me at the second sentence. That’s a reality.

nope's avatar

It neither freaks me out, nor blows my mind, but you have asked a great question. As @SABOTEUR says, reality is what is…but that is just his/her perception, lol. What “is”? Is it like he thinks? Or like I think? Maybe we think and perceive the same things, but more likely, not. What color is orange, really? Does it look orange to you? Put another way, if I could see how your mind perceives that color, would it look green to me? And our perception of what’s right & wrong, what is moral or immoral, or even amoral, differs from person to person, and culture to culture, just as our perception of information brought in by our senses may (and probably does) differ between individuals.

I do think about this a lot, and take every opportunity to discuss peoples’ perceptions when I feel that their “reality” doesn’t serve humanity well. Other aspects of their reality, however, often aid in amazing discourse. Again, great question.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@nope: lol…what color is orange? The answer, of course is, whatever color orange is. The trick is, as soon as you start talking about, thinking about, analyzing, contemplating, debating, hypothesizing, etc. etc., you step away from what is.

It is what it is.

“What is needs no discussion and it defies analysis. You’re correct when you ask

”...is (that) just his/her perception?”

Of course it’s just my perception! Unfortunately, we must resort to the inefficiency of using words to attempt communicating such ideas.

Using words to discuss reality is like a finger pointing to the moon.

We must be wary, as you inferred, not to mistake the finger for the moon.

iphigeneia's avatar

I think it’s a beautiful thing, that everybody perceives reality differently. Not freaky or mind-blowing. Sort of like looking into outer space.

kevbo's avatar

Not that we’re lacking examples, but another, say, is how some of us are taught not to “waste” food. So, maybe we have a depression era parent or grandparent who didn’t waste out of necessity and that got drilled into us or our parent and so on. But food isn’t the same as it used to be nor is our level of physical activity nor our level of scarcity (depending, of course, on how you measure nutrition), and even portion sizes are different, etc and yet some of us continue to act as if we are “wasting” food if we don’t clean our plates (or finish leftovers or whatever). What’s more true now (probably) is that “we” actually waste the food twice because we eat food we don’t need, and then we have to expend extra energy to lose the weight. It’s silly, but how deeply-ingrained-as-truth is that behavior for those who have sort of inherited that idea? Evolutionary arguments nonwithstanding, isn’t it weird how much power that once serious and now seemingly silly idea still has over many people?

jackm's avatar

Well all we have is perception, so all we have is our minds best guess as to what is real. It is a scary thought.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@kevbo It’s silly in comparison to those of us who don’t have enough food and would appreciate the leftovers most of us casually throw away. It’s even sillier when foreign aid is diverted to god-knows-who while the people the food is intended for never see it.

kevbo's avatar

@SABOTEUR, That is true, and it doesn’t change the fact that I am a fat ass because I clean my plate of factory food frequently.

Of course, my version of reality says that “we” through our collectively ceded power (and through the illusion of “aid,” which is basically a mechanism for giving Treasury dollars to multinational corporations) allow imperialists to starve those people on purpose so we can control their populations and steal their resources.

SABOTEUR's avatar

Indeed.

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