AltanaESP Glossary

Purpose, structure and Usage of the A-Z Glossary

I am neither especially clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious. ~ Albert Einstein ~

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Approved 24 February, 2021 @ 11:37am by Jan Viljoen (version: 4)


Reality - in popular terms - implies “the state of things as they actually exist” or differently stated “what things are like and not appear to be like”. In a sense reality reflects what is real (i.e. actual, true, genuine and authentic). The term reality, in its widest sense, includes everything that is, whether or not it is observable and/or comprehensible. Reality in this sense includes beingness and sometimes is also considered to include nothingness or emptiness. Reality as related to existence, is often restricted to beingness as compare with “existing in creation”.

However, people cannot agree on what reality “really” is and their is a number of different views, perceptions and “facts” about the “truths” of reality that can be briefly be indicated as follows…

Interpretations of Reality

Reality” the concept, is often contrasted with a wide variety of other concepts, which largely depends upon the context and point of view held within in a particular discipline (e.g. the sciences, religious dogmas, a political stance, …etc.). Thus, what we say, belief or see is not real, because we see it through many different perspectives and therefore there is no “real” basis for reality… merely interpretations of reality.

But on the other hand - usually - when there are no original and related proofs (facts), it isn't regarded as reality. Reality is consistent for all people, and it would be the perceptions and interpretations of this common reality that are different. An example of this is the belief that rain is the work of gods or divine forces, rather than a natural phenomenon that has a scientific explanation. The perception and interpretation of rain is that it involves the supernatural, but this belief does not change the fact that rain is caused by water moving from a gaseous state into a liquid state. The reality is consistent, and it is the interpretation that is different… not the cause of the event.

In most people's points of view, reality is often contrasted with non-existence (penguins do exist; so they are real) and possibilities (e.g. a mountain made of gold) is merely possible, but is not known to be real… that is, actual rather than possible… unless a mountain of gold is discovered. People are inclined to treat reality as contrasted with existence itself. They have in mind the notion that there is a kind of reality - a mental or intentional reality, if you like - that imaginary objects, such as the golden mountain - for example - have. The holding that such things and ideas have so-called subsistence, and therefore represents a kind of reality… even while they do not actually exist.

However in ethics, political theory and the arts, reality is often contrasted with what is the “ideal”. One of the fundamentalplugin-autotooltip__small plugin-autotooltip_bigFundamental Principles

...~ Mark Victor Hansen.

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issues can be formulated as follows… Given our knowledge of the way the world “IS”, how can we know for sure the way the world “ought to be” like? Most ethical views hold that the world we live in (i.e. the real world) is not ideal… and - as such - not actually true (or real). Obviously, when speaking in this sense, “real” (or “realistic”) does not have the same meaning as it does when - for example - a scientist uses the REALITY to simply distinguish what exists from that what does not exist.

Furthermore, in the social sciences (especially psychiatry, psychology and education) reality - or rather the idea of “being in touch” with reality - is an integral aspect of diagnostics. Schizophrenia - for example - which has been defined as unhealthy in part by reference to being “out of touch” with reality. The schizophrenic is said to have hallucinations, illusions and delusions which concern people and events that are not “real”. However, there is much controversy over what is considered to be “out of touch” with reality, … because one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Or, differently put, today Old Testament prophets would most likely be classified as schizophrenic.

Reality does not actually exist, merely our interpretations of what we believe to be true as depended on the context of such a perceived concept of a reality.

For example: The “actuality” of a Creator Energy Force present in the universe is interpreted differently, for instance by Christians as God, Moslem’s as Allah, Hindu’s as Lord Shiva, Evolutionists as the Big Bang and Time, …etc.

What is Reality?

The “what is” of reality is a combination of two essential aspects…

  • the nature of reality itself and
  • the relationship that exists between the human mind, language, culture and reality.

Reality - particularly in discussions of objectivity that have feet in both metaphysics and epistemology - discussions often concern the ways in which reality is, or is not; in some way dependent upon (or, to use fashionable jargon, “constructed” out of) mental and cultural factors such as perceptions, beliefs and other mental states, as well as cultural artefacts, such as religions and political movements, and up to the vague notion of a common collective consciousness.

The most popular view that often prevails pertaining reality, implies that reality is independent of any beliefs, perceptions, mindsets, points of view, ideas, …etc.; which is often called realism. Generally, where one can identify any class of object, the existence or essential characteristics of which is said not to depend on perceptions, beliefs, language or any other human artefacts, one can speak of “realism about” that object and/or subject.

Reality as Prediction

Reality can also be described as the most probable outcome or prediction…

For example: When an individual asks on which side a flipped coin will land (i.e. heads or tails), the answer is different. This answer is probabilistic, in that it is given not in the form of a specific prediction, but in the form of a general claim about the results as a whole. The coin has a 50-50 chance of landing on heads (and the same chance for tails). Practically speaking, this roughly means that the more times one flips the coin, the closer the heads-tails results will get to being half of one and half of the other. However, it does not tell us, nor predict the outcome for any particular coin toss.

Phenomenological Reality

On a much broader and more subjective level; private experiences, curiosity, inquiry, previous experiences (i.e. personal history) and the selectivity involved in personal interpretation of events or circumstances; shapes reality as seen by one and only one individual and hence is differentiated as phenomenological realities. While this form of reality might be common to other people as well, it - however - is unique to a specific individual (i.e. his/her umwelt) as to be never experienced or agreed upon by anyone else. Much of this kind of experiences, that is often deemed spiritual, occurs on the level of phenomenological reality.

As a matter of fact, there is no objective realityreality is what we make of our environment and our circumstances… and what we belief to be real and true.