What Is Realism & Why Is It Wrong?

The fundamental premise about the nature of realty that philosophers call realism permeates almost all human belief systems, including religion, science & spirituality.

Realism is the belief that the contents of our experiences would still exist if there was nothing to experience them.

Realists believe that everything inanimate, from a grain of sand to the entire universe, exist as concrete objects that do not require minds to experience them in order to occur and prevail. 

This belief underlies almost all human thought. It is probably intrinsic to almost all living things, that is, agents of conscious experience. (ACE) Working from realist premises allows us to interact with our experiences in genuine ways. The predator and prey must commit to their roles for that experience to occur.

At some point in human history we probably asked a simple question, such as: What causes the rain? Or something similar, this is just an example. Throughout time we have found new ways of answering this question. The Gods cause the rain. The laws of nature cause the rain. In both cases the same assumption is made, that the experience of rain points toward a phenomena that would occur if no ACE were there to perceive it. In this sense ‘God’ and ‘Nature’ are the same explanation, both state that some determinant beyond ACE causes the universe that we perceive, as well as all phenomena within it.

The problem is that this is all based on an assumption that we cannot ever verify. The knowledge of any phenomena or object comes to us only through an experience. Without an experience of something, we cannot have knowledge of it. These include secondhand experiences, such as written knowledge and knowledge obtained through instruments. Without an experience of a phenomena or object, it is virtually non-existent.

Realism attempts to write experience out of the equation, but it is the one thing that cannot be written out.

Historically religion, spirituality and philosophy have attempted to teach ideas that are not based on the realist premise and its unverifiable assumptions. Most of those ideas devolved via continuous abstraction into something resembling the certainty of realism. The most recent experiments in quantum science point to a universe created and dependent on observers, which defies realism. However this undermines the basis of science, so those results are now undergoing defiant reinterpretation by persistent realists, and will likely collapse to abstraction before catching on with the general human population.

Realism enjoys an untouchable dogma in all human belief systems. To question it will invite mockery, and you will quickly be cajoled to step in front of a bus. Realism provides us with certainty. It gives us solid footing from which to maneuver. This is why it is the default belief of ACE. However those certainties can also become a prison, and that footing can be trap.

If realism is false, because from the standpoint of logic it is a completely untenable claim, and building from untenable claims is irrational, then we are the authors of our experience. By we I mean every single ACE. The shared experiences we call nature or the universe represent the aggregate of the beliefs and expectations of all ACE combined. This means that we have some power to change our experiences, so long as we do not stray too far from that aggregate.

Technology is just such a thing. It provides a framework for us to do formerly impossible things, like fly, by building a plot device consistent with the aggregate. However we might find that there are even more potent methods of creating our experiences. But in order to do so we must fundamentally believe it is possible to do so. Realism is a restraint against such a belief. In order to find out what more we may be capable of we must seek it authentically by shedding the restrictions of realism.

Realism is the training wheels of evolving ACE. It is the default setting, a starting place. To go further we must pull up that anchor and learn to float, adrift from certainty and constrictive beliefs. If we are unable to do so we will continue down our current path, which appears to end in catastrophe. Our limited thinking has forged a path that leads right to self-destruction. The reason that every belief system ever has had apocalyptic connotations is because that is where realism inexorably leads. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy, for even if the end times never come, we will continue to experience the world as though it will. And those experiences, quite frankly, fugkn sugk.

Inequality, destruction, war, disease…these are all the experiences produced by the limitations suggested by realist beliefs. In order to evolve we must go beyond them. This is the new frontier, and if we do not explore it, something else will evolve in order to do so, and we will be left smoldering in the ashes of our stubborn pride. Realism can give us the appearance of being right, but being right is far less useful than being limitlessly creative. This is the choice that will determine our future. Do we continue to act as mere observers of our reality, or do we see what happens when we try to put on the show?

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3 thoughts on “What Is Realism & Why Is It Wrong?

  1. >If realism is false, because from the standpoint of logic it is a completely untenable claim, and building from untenable claims is irrational, then we are the authors of our experience. By we I mean every single ACE. The shared experiences we call nature or the universe represent the aggregate of the beliefs and expectations of all ACE combined. This means that we have some power to change our experiences, so long as we do not stray too far from that aggregate.

    Can you elaborate on how realism is completely untenable by “logic”? I would think the opposite is true.
    You say that reality is the aggregate of the preexistent beliefs and expectations of all ACEs. From where do these expectation derive, and how do you explain the effect that genes (material, which as I realist I would say precedes your experience of it) and propaganda have on the aggregate expectations of ACEs?

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    1. Genes are knowledge which only arise within an experience. You cannot access knowledge of genetics without a personal experience of doing so. As I already explained, experience is the single common aspect of all knowing. To put the contents of experience before the one constant, experience itself, is irrational. Realism essentially comes down to being the most basic form of literalism. Fundamentalism. It provides seemingly true answers if you have enough faith that it will be true no matter how difficult the inconsistencies and outright absurdity and embarrassing lack of imagination involved.

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