“Brain and brain! What is brain?” – Kara, in “Spock’s Brain”
“What is reality?” – random member of Firesign Theater
Some people insist that there is no reality, and that nothing exists but what we manufacture inside our minds.
I think people who actually believe that are batshit crazy. Now, when someone typing on a padded keyboard thinks you’re nuts, you should probably have that looked into.
“A paradox! A paradox! Oh, what a lovely paradox!” – some Lewis Carroll character
(in a stunning example of the meaning of “paradox”, when I did a Google search for the above phrase, I found hundreds of examples of people quoting it, but no attribution for it as a quote!)
The beauty of the above delusion is, it can be argued that any proof you bring to bear in favor of the existence of an external reality is merely the illusion of proof. Pretty slick, huh?
You see, there’s this guy… again…
… and he makes a pretty good argument. If nothing is real, then who’s doing the imagining?
“Cogito ergo sum.”
“I think, therefore I am.”
“Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?” – E. A. Poe
Once you have embraced the belief that you do, in fact, exist, it is a slippery slope toward believing people and things outside of you really do exist as well. But, and this is where it gets tricksy… the truth is we are all prisoners, locked inside our skulls, and the Universe, no matter how real, can never be anything but what we each experience through our own remote sensors: our skin, eyes, ears, etc., combined with a rather large dose of highly subjective interpretation by that neural biochemical process that is “self”.
“Afflixerim ergo sum” thank you, Google translate
“I hurt, therefore I am.”
I include this as an adjunct to Descartes assertion. That one thinks is certainly proof of one’s own existence; that one can stub one’s toe or cut one’s finger should be sufficient proof of things which do not necessarily think, yet, most certainly exist.
In the book, On Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins and Sandra Blakeslee, there is an illustration depicting what your optic nerves actually present to your brain. If you get the chance to glance through that book, at the library or wherever, take a look; it’s pretty disturbing. Over the years, due to some hard-wiring and a lot of personal experience, we learn to interpret that blob we actually see, as a perfectly round ball. Further, we learn that the ball is a particular color. We learn that some colors are bad, while others are good. We put food in our mouths and a million chemical reactions take place. Some of those interactions allow us to digest the food, others are used to send signals to the brain so it may “taste” the food–which information we are intended to use to decide if the food is good for us or bad, but which we have a tendency to shorten to just good or bad – not necessarily, “for us”.
All of these things, we experience through chemical connections we have to the outside world. A world which most certainly exists, but which we are incapable of experiencing, if not for a sophisticated set of biochemical sensors. And that’s reality.