The Map Is Not the Territory, But Is There Really Even A Territory?

While we should not confuse our experience as the totality of reality, neither should we make unverifiable assumptions that a totality of reality exists outside of our experiences.

Ten people stare at a blank surface

Half of them are wearing blue-tinted glasses.

Half of them are wearing red-tinted glasses.

The first half insist that the surface is blue, while the other half insist that it is red.

Finally they combine their perceptions and come to an agreement that the surface is purple.

But the surface is blank, it has no color. The alleged color of the surface was dependent on the perceptions and interpretations of people who were looking for color through a colored lens.

The hypothesis is not the hypothetical.

Your perception of the world is much the same. Everything you observe and interpret has been filtered through the lens of your beliefs, expectations and limitations. When you discuss a world that is alleged to exist outside of your beliefs, expectations and limitations you are assigning color to a blank surface.

The most prevalent modern belief systems, or lenses, exist as such that everything seen through them appears to ‘out there’.

Territory is the color of the lens we look through. Our beliefs, expectations and limitations are territory-tinted. An inescapable consequence is that things appear to be territory, not because we know they are, but because this is our way of seeing things.

To say that the map is not the territory is not enough. If there is territory outside of our territory-tinted view of it, we could not know, because we are unable to see anything that is not territory-tinted.

Like the blank surface that looks blue or red, or can be interpreted as purple, reality outside of our experience cannot be interacted with outside of our experience. There is no non-experience way of knowing reality; which makes the assumption in a reality outside of our experience entirely unverifiable.

The assumption that a territory exists outside of our maps is like saying that when nobody is looking at it with colored lenses, the blank surface is still either red, blue or purple.

Maybe there is a territory, but unless we figure out a way to transcend experience and interact with it in some currently unknown way, it is not a rational assumption to make. And yet all of our modern premises, scientific materialism, objectivism, etc. begin with just such an irrational assumption.

Imagine the things we might learn when our foundational premises correlate to our actual experiences!

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4 thoughts on “The Map Is Not the Territory, But Is There Really Even A Territory?

  1. But we have a way to transcend experience and engage with the Territory: in our interactions with the Other. In fact, if I remember my Sartre correctly, it is only through the Other that we become aware of ‘self’. Territory therefore proves our existence, especially when outside of our awareness. Perception of the Other leads to perception of self. Trying to prove that which proves self is pointless. From that perspective, I mean…

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    1. There are a lot of abstractions going on there. Lets start from here.

      When I discuss myself, I am referencing myself as a point of awareness. When I discuss anything outside of myself, I am referencing an experience within my awareness. I am awareness. What I am aware of are experiences.

      An interaction with a thing is an experience happening in our awareness. “The Other” is also an experience in our awareness.

      We do not step outside of our awareness or experience during transcendent experiences. We step outside of the constructs of our usual experiences. The truth in that transcendent place is that all constructs are equally real and true, and equally unreal and false.

      But at no point to we ever cease to be an awareness having experiences.

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  2. The reason I’m pretty convinced there is a reality out there, is that sometimes I make mistakes. In other words, I fully expect things to happen in a certain way, and I’m wrong. What happens is something else. In short, I obviously don’t know everything. Because I don’t know everything, I assume there must be something “out there”.

    Of course, what’s “out there” could be a lot more than what I currently see. Like, I currently see an essay about a philosophical point. But I may have failed to see that you are really talking about ancient Egyptian wisdom given to them by their god Thoth, encoded in the Giza pyramid before it got its cladding and it was still a stepped mound. Or other more obscure things that I’ve never even heard about.

    I probably should work on trying to understand more stuff, but I have to choose what to dedicate my time to, and currently, I find I’d like to know a lot more about the stars.

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