What is Reality?

EVERY age in history has its own ideas about what makes up the universe. “Questions about what kinds of things exist go all the way back to the earliest philosophical texts,” says Jan Westerhoff, a philosopher at the University of Oxford.

For many ancient peoples, basic elements such as earth, air, wind and fire formed the essence of the cosmos. In the past century or so, we have concluded that matter is built from atoms, that atoms are constructed from a small set of elementary particles, and that those particles are fluctuations in a melee of quantum fields pervading empty space (see “Why is there something rather than nothing“).

So, job done – reality explained? Not so fast, says Westerhoff. “You need to be absolutely clear about the sense of the word ‘reality’ – otherwise the discussion is going to be all over the place.” For a start, do only physical objects like earth or atoms count towards reality – or things like minds and consciousness, too?

Although the scope of our definition determines the complexity of the puzzle, physics should still supply the solution, says philosopher Tim Maudlin of New York University. Physics is about just two questions, he says: “what exists?” and “what does it do?”. “If you answer both of those questions, then I think you have answered the question ‘what is reality?’.”

From New Scientist Magazine

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23130890-800-metaphysics-special-what-is-reality-made-of/#ixzz7SQCAqGwT

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