Views of Reality
What is the source of our existence? Is there a reason for us being here? Did God or some other divine power start and maybe still influence it? Are we just one of many universes or realities, maybe the result of extraterrestrial beings? Is what science knows about our universe all it is, nothing more? These perennial questions have dominated history and driven the development of civilization and culture forming the bases for religions and ideologies that continue today. Because of the success of these religions and ideologies, comforts, entertainment, and technologies, it is no longer popular to think about the questions of source—just use it. But civilization is now in turmoil. Crime, violence, terrorism, mental illness, possibility of global destruction are increasing, while sense of satisfaction and well-being are decreasing. We need to once again think about the source of our existence, the nature of reality, and what important is going on.
The first part of the book Climbing Higher (Wheeler, 2019) presents explanation of reality as an innate human need. Then four categories of reality views are developed. The most common view, “personal reality” is our personal accepted opinion and belief that varies among societies and individuals. It is usually a personal interpretation of a view learned in childhood. Since personal reality is known to be variable and subject to controversy, the question of a universal or ultimate reality is raised. The possibility of a “universal reality” that may have a divine type of power is the basis of most religions and has been important in the advance of civilization. Recent scientific findings and modern personal experiences have created big questions about a universal reality that has shaken the foundations of traditional religions. A third view of reality grew out of the need to account for the occurrence of bad things such as World War I and II and how they can be prevented. This is “existential reality” which faces the good and bad experiences in everyday life for which we must take responsibility and actively manage. A fourth view is “pragmatic reality” which is how we deal with immediate daily situations here and now despite personal views, beliefs, and difficulties. This is recognition that effectively managing daily activities may be more important than theorizing about reality.
All views may be valid. We do not really know. There may be a mysterious realm with a transcendent intelligence that empowers our existence, but despite the comfort of faith, it is helpful to shoulder responsibility for the outcome of our activities without depending on help from such a transcendent power. We best live in the world as it presents itself to us here and now and strive for sustenance while also pursuing advancement and explanation of existence. Living in the here and now while also pursuing deep concerns would insure a constructive meaning and sense of purpose to our activities.
How to know reality has been a perennial issue that developed the philosophy of epistemology, study of the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge and how we know what we know. There is a question of whether it is possible to know reality or even if there is such a thing. The respected contemporary philosopher David Chalmers insists in Reality+ (2022) that we may exist in a virtual reality that may be a simulation created by an unknown force that would be called God. In any case, though, for day-to-day functioning we all need to have a feeling that there is a consistency in our environment that enables continuing management of needs and activities.