Does objective reality exist?

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It seems a majority of people assume that there exists an objective reality in which all of us exist, with facts that are universally true and are more than just matters of opinion. However, a growing minority of people argue that there is no such thing as objective reality and that everything is subjective, and that anything can be questioned or legitimately disagreed with, even facts that used to have near-universal agreement.

This raises the question about who is right about the nature of reality, if reality even exists. Is there an objective reality that we are all a part of? Does objective reality truly exist?

Definitions[edit | edit source]

  • Subjective reality means that something is actual depending on the mind. For example: someone walks by a flower and experiences the beauty of the flower. Would you say that the experience of beauty is dependent or independent of the mind? Would the experience of the form in general of the flower be dependent on the mind?
  • Objective reality means that something is actual (so it exists) independent of the mind. For example: while no one is nearby, a meteor crashes into a car, putting it on flames, leaving only a pile of ashes. Are any of these events depending on some mind? It is actually hard to state a purely objective reality example, as one needs to describe it in concepts that are interpreted by the mind. You see the difficulty? Anything related to experience, like form, weight, heat, color, beauty, etc, etc is dependent on a mind. So we could say, that objective reality is formless. Only when observed by a mind, there is form. This has lots of similarities with a computer rendered game. The scenario is there, but unless it is rendered on the screen, it is formless. So objective reality is here, but unless it is 'rendered' on consciousness, it is formless.

Objective reality exists[edit | edit source]

  • Argument Argument We humans share a physical brain structure and neural receptors which give rise to a shared interpretation of a physical existence, which does indeed exist independently but is a subset of a larger reality of which we are unaware. This is verified through hallucinations, mental illness, cognitive diseases in which reality of those under such conditions differs from a 'normal' cognitive process. When returned to 'healthy' state, the re-emergence of the shared 'everyday' reality returns as well. We humans interpret reality in a similar fashion which is why we all agree, for the most part, as to the physical world around us. We are not, however, experiencing the 'whole' of reality as we have no capacity for measuring it (light frequencies beyond our visual limits, etc.).
  • Argument Argument There is no evidence to the contrary regarding the existence of objective reality and Occam's razor suggests we ought to accept it because it is the simplest possible explanation for reality.
    • Objection Objection If a particle or set of particles in quantum physics can be in 2 different contradictory states at the same time, as in the Schrödinger's cat paradox, that could be considered evidence to the contrary.
      • Objection Objection Quantum physics might seem contradictory, and in fact it is with traditional logic, but if one uses non-commutative quantum logic, which theoretical physicists have developed and which is the same as traditional logic other than abandoning the law of commutativity, there are not any contradictions in it at all.
    • Objection Objection Occam's Razor is not necessarily true, it is just a general guideline to help people guess the most likely answer to a question. It is still wrong sometimes.
      • Objection Objection Yes, but Occam's Razor is true more often than not, and there is no evidence of Occam's Razor being incorrect in this specific instance regarding objective reality being true.
  • Argument Argument The theory that we all exist in an objective reality is the best theory anyone has ever come up with to describe the conditions in which we appear to exist, so unless anyone comes up with a better theory we should stick with it.
    • Objection Objection We don't necessarily need to assume anything at all regarding reality and whether or not an objective reality exists... we can remain agnostic on the subject until there is sufficient evidence to prove things one way or the other.
      • Objection Objection Being agnostic on the subject is not a position against the existence of objective reality, but instead a neutral position that doesn't take either side in the argument. I have not entirely made up my mind 100% sure either way on objective reality myself, but I am about 99% sure that objective reality exists. I could call myself agnostic on the subject too, but those of us who are agnostic on the subject ought to lean in favor of whatever seems to be the most probable explanation.
  • Argument Argument All realities exist, including both objective and subjective realities, which exist as parallel realities as a kind of multiverse. In other words, the philosophy of modal realism is correct.
    • Objection Objection Modal realism is too radical of a multiverse theory to take seriously. It proposes that all proposed fictional worlds (not just proposed real worlds) actually exist.
      • Objection Objection This is an attempt to shame people into not believing the argument. Sometimes radical viewpoints turn out to be true.
  • Argument Argument If objective truth doesn’t exist, that fact would be in and of itself an objective truth, disproving itself.
    • Objection Objection Why is it important that an objective truth exists? In what way is this related to the definition of an objective reality? I shall assume for the time being, that an objective reality is a reality such that it is only composed of objective truths. Why is this definition of objective reality objective? Sure, it makes sense, but there's no reason for me to believe that such a definition is objective. Then, the definition could be subjective, and thus an objective statement was used to prove the existence of a subjective statement, which isn't very helpful to proving the existence of an objective reality.

Objective reality does not exist[edit | edit source]

  • Argument Argument The existence of an objective reality has never been proven, and all of what we think of reality could just be something similar to the Matrix or a computer simulation or we could all just be characters in someone's dream.
    • Objection Objection Those are all unlikely scenarios which are similarly unproven, and the most likely scenario that makes the most sense is that there is an objective reality.
      • Objection Objection There are multiple possible scenarios in which objective reality is wrong, and only one in which it is correct. If we assign an equal level of probability to each one, objective reality is actually highly unlikely.
        • Objection Objection There is no rational basis for assigning an equal level of probability to the idea that we are all living in the Matrix just like in that movie and the idea that we all actually exist in one single objective reality. Furthermore, in the Matrix, the Matrix itself exists within a larger reality that actually is objective, and in that reality, the people who exist in the Matrix all have physical bodies hooked up to the Matrix, so even if the Matrix turned out to be real, we would still be living in an objective reality.
          • Objection Objection Yes but the Matrix is a work of fiction, so actually, people living in the Matrix, even if they have physical bodies outside of the Matrix, have those in a fictional world, not the real world.
  • Argument Argument Reality nowadays is just too ridiculous to be true. Too many practically unbelievable things keep being reported as factual.
    • Objection Objection This reflects a failure of imagination on the part of the human mind to understand and accept objective reality. It does not disprove objective reality. As the saying goes, "Truth is stranger than fiction." This would seem to indicate that, if reality seems incredibly ridiculous and weird, it probably really is real, since it is many times weirder than anything the limited capacity of the human imagination could possibly think up using only the creativity of a single finite mortal human mind.
      • Objection Objection Multiple people can work together to create a very intricate and detailed narrative that runs counter to reality. Who is to say that the most popular narrative used to describe what people call "objective reality" is not similarly false, with its elaborate complexity and absurdity the result of the cooperation of many people?
        • Objection Objection There is a major qualitative difference between double-blind peer-reviewed scientific studies with reproducible results and conspiracy theories or tall tales that are simply made up. Your argument deliberately ignores this in order to equate the two and dismiss both of them.
  • Argument Argument We all live in our own subjective realities. The human mind is not capable of being truly objective. Therefore, the entire idea of a single objective reality is purely speculative, an assumption that, while popular, is not necessary.
    • Objection Objection Since our realities all interact and we are able to independently observe the same things and do experiments that have reproducible results, clearly we are all part of the same reality.
      • Objection Objection Not necessarily, you could be a figment of my imagination, or we could both be figments of somebody else's imagination, or maybe nobody exists at all and everything is imaginary.
        • Objection Objection The human mind is not creative enough to imagine the reality we find ourselves in. Furthermore, as far as everything being imaginary, as Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am."
          • Objection Objection "I think, therefore I am" is a logical fallacy because fictional characters in a story can say that, but it doesn't turn them into real people.
            • Objection Objection That a fictional character can "say" "I think, therefore I am" while ostensibly being not part of an underlying physical existence it does not render the dictum a logical fallacy. In the context of the literary reality in which the work of fiction exists, the character represents a human in our shared reality, in which Descartes assertion still stands: Simply because a fictional representation of an actual phenomena is presented to the reader does not negate it as a logical paradigm.
  • Argument Argument Postmodernism is one of many philosophies that does not believe in any objective reality and successfully undermines the idea of objective reality.
    • Objection Objection Postmodernism is rather absurd, either sheer nihilism or some form of relativism, disbelieving in things that are obvious facts.
    • Objection Objection Postmodernism has not been proven.
      • Objection Objection Postmodernism doesn't have to be 'proven'.
  • Argument Argument Again one must consider using which parameters is objective reality to be understood. How is it perceived or measured. To be truly objective, objective reality must be perceived and measured without any limits or filters. Because any such limitations arise from a subjective viewpoint. For example, humans perceive 0.0035% of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. But the entire electromagnetic spectrum must be included in an understanding of objective reality. Any scientific instrument is likewise circumscribed in its ability to measure everything. Therefore what is objective must be unlimited - everything that is possible. And that means the whole universe without limits. All of it including dark matter, dark energy etc. And such an understanding is only theoretically possible for the whole universe itself to have. We humans are permanently in subjective reality, as are all conscious life forms.
    • Objection Objection Objective reality must exist independent of subjective reality. Just because we do not or cannot perceive it, does not mean it does not exist.
  • Argument Argument As it is impossible to see the world, that is the eyes are like cameras only receiving light, they supposedly get two images, somehow these images get merged as one and then projected as "the world around us". The same can be said of all the senses. And, this sense of world includes the body which is external to that which sees it.
  • Argument Argument The fact that objective reality is a debatable concept makes objective reality subjective.
    • Objection Objection What exactly is being debated here? If it is about the existence/nonexistence of an objective reality, unless there is a formal proof provided by either side, there is no reason to believe that debating something proves an argument. A scenario similar to the argument is that the interpretation of a piece of art for two different people can be different, but recognize that includes perspective, which has the property of being inherently subjective. Thus, us debating about whether or not an objective reality exists concerns with our own perspectives, which is exactly what an objective reality (by definition) cannot be influenced by. Thus, the argument proves the existence of subjective reality, but does not prove the nonexistence of objective reality.

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]