Reality this, reality that. Who reality cares?
We have to care, if we are trying to understand ourselves.
Over the last few weeks we talked about the reality that never changes, matter and energy. There’s the reality that is shared by all life, things that are born, and then die. There’s the reality of people, brought to you by the same people who like to make love, and war. And there’s the reality of yourself, the stuff that only you can know, like your inner thoughts.
Is there a handy or easy way to keep these straight so that I don’t have to go muddling about trying to remember what belongs where? Let’s try this exercise.
Pretend we are studying your dreams. And someone asks you, are your dreams real? Of course they are, to you. Are your dreams real to all people? Here’s the test; make yourself disappear. It’s only a thought experiment, so you can disappear to a luxury island where there’s beautiful servants waiting upon your every whim. What happens to YOUR dreams though, relative to everyone else? Of course you don’t care, because you’re getting your feet rubbed on that pristine beach. But for the rest of us, your dreams are gone, long gone. They aren’t real to us, because they disappeared when you disappeared.
What about dreams in general, are they real? Since we’re talking about general dreams, what we’re saying is this; do dreams only exist in people? Let’s find out and send all people to that same luxury island (it’s a big island) so that all other life is now devoid of people. Now some of the animals may have dream-like stages, but since they can’t talk we won’t ever know if they are dreaming. So dreams are only “real” in the sense that people are real. Dreams in general represent a reality that is only common to people.
What about life and death? Is it real? It’s real as long as we are looking at things that live. Take away all life, and you have something that looks like the moon. There is no life on the moon, and there is no death. Life and death, then, are only as real as the living things they represent.
And this is how to determine the degree of “realness” of anything we study. Take yourself away, if it still exists, it’s more real than you. Take people away, and if it still exists, it’s even “realer.” Take all life away, and if it still exists, it’s as real as it gets.
Thanks for coming along. Now let’s get real. Let’s only study things that are real.