This paper focuses on the reflection of reality in human mind as it was seen and reflected upon by numerous philosophers, starting with Plato, through Rene Descartes and to modern philosophers, including Hilary Putnam. The works of the latter are recognizable by a modern person through a movie, called “Matrix. But what do these approaches to human comprehension of reality have had in common? Certainly all the philosophers would have agreed that reality is a subjective concept. It is impossible to register some reality, which would be objective and entirely and fully recognized and realized by a human being and all human beings in general. For Hilary Putnam, and this is clearly understood, reality is something which we, humans, are entirely unable to realize, to understand and recognize. We cannot recognize reality, we are unable to tell reality from our fantasy or from the things, which are programmed into our minds. This is why, a human being is unable to tell for sure, whether what they experience actually is reality or their comprehension, and how much do their imaginary reality has got in common with actual reality.
The position of Hilary Putnam is very well illustrated by outstandingly famous film “Matrix”. In this version of the view of philosophical view of reality the philosopher makes a point saying, that our sensory comprehension can easily be faked. It is, basically, a matter of technical progress. If so, it is obvious, that we are unable to tell reality from the world of our imagination.
Quite different is the position of Descartes. He recognizes the multiplicity and diversity of truths and various comprehensions of reality. However, as Descartes believes, there are interconnections between all of these truths, between all these realities. He, who knows the fundamental truth, in which Descartes believed, would have an opportunity to understand other truths and realities. (Durant & Durant, P. 637).
Meanwhile, for Plato things are somewhat different too. In his allegory of a cave he refers to the limited knowledge of reality which we, humans possess. What we know is only a hint, a shaddow of reality. The reality does exist, but we are in no position to know it or entirely register with our limited abilities of mind (Watt, pp. xiv–xvi).
Our senses can hardly be reliable, simply because, as it has been said before, their nature is very much limited. Besides, it is easy to deceive our feelings. This is why it is nearly impossible for a person to logically arrive at a conclusion that whatever they experience or, rather, comprehend in their lives, is actually reality. It is impossible to say, that some knowledge or some reality certainly exists, there is no point, with which to start the count, there is no unified criterion as for what truth is fundamental. It is important to operate on some criterion when trying to prove that one or another situation actually represents reality. When proving anything, we are referring to our feelings and the feelings of other people. But we have already come to a conclusion that such a reference is impossible, as no reality is for real, and our comprehension of reality is subject to the limits, which are, so to speak, set to our sensory tools and our processing tools. There is only a certain capacity each of the humans has got in terms of processing the data received. This is the capacity of their brain, and this information is also filtered through the experience of this person. And considering this experience the brain comes to a conclusion as for what they have experienced and how close it is to actual reality, and whether or not it is possible to comprehend what they have concluded as a reality.
- Durant, Will; Durant, Ariel. “The Story of Civilization: Part VII, the Age of Reason Begins”. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1961.
- Watt, Stephen. “Introduction: The Theory of Forms (Books 5–7)”, Plato: Republic, London: Wordsworth Editions. 1997.