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January 7, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

Is the world of ideas just an illusion or is it real?–Our experience with reality: Real versus Imagined

I think you pose an interesting question or challenge.

Are you saying ideas and imagination are fiction? I don’t see how subjective = fiction or illusion or does not exist. Experience. Personal science dictates they do.


They don’t have a physical reality in that you couldn’t probably: 1) touch them 2) weigh them, but I don’t see why that doesn’t make them not-real.

They are representations. They are the way we filter reality. That doesn’t mean they are not real. In fact, if anything they guide or in one way or another influence 99% to 100% of activity.

They create cause and effect relationships. The alternative seems to turn them into a black box. Don’t talk about the elephant in the room or the underlying person behind the curtain because we can’t do X, Y, or Z with them–and certainly are as real as say.

• The world of imagination is real
• The world of ideas is real
• The world of emotions (even if not fully mapped neurologically) is real. In fact, until they are mapped you seem to be left with the position of saying they aren’t.

The move to put these experiences in some other realm that we label fiction—seems to miss a HUGE part of reality and the human experience.

• So Disney world is real….but the imagination that it triggers isn’t?
• Pixar movies are real, but the imagination they trigger isn’t?
• It would even seem that the ongoing filtering process would have both real & unreal interactions. Which seems a little weird to me.(this is a bit of assertion on my part–but I don’t think its that far off)

I would think that a systems theorist who was told this would have large problems with what seems to be an odd inconsistency or dissonance.

It would seem that the world is far more complex than simple: real versus unreal. Physical versus illusion bifurcation and dualism would. I don’t know what assumption one would take on to think that the world could be easily divided into these two categories without creating a category mistake based on my distinctions & the empirical and experiential experience of having actual imaginative experiences.

Not withstanding your defintion…but I think even Aristotle when pressed would have trouble admitting that the world only fit into your definitions of real versus unreal. Especially given the experiential reality of day dreaming, imagining, reflective exploration, or in general diving into the unconscious. Pretty soon…you’re going to be denying the mind and the self as fictions….perhaps you are already doing so.

I may be misunderstanding you….and for that I’m sorry. Given the medium….I assume you understand.


I’m confused. Why isn’t an imagination “constrained” if your thinking about the brainwaves is true–ie its still happening as a physical event.

That seems to be a bit of a circular definition IMHO. Defining something out of existence doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I’m not splitting hairs (see also reason given).

Specifically, I gave reasons why science should include it. I made arguments why its experiential, scientific, and empirical. It is also a source of data.

And ideas lead to physics. Just because one part of the process is unmappable on the scales or spreadsheets of science shouldn’t eliminate it.

Also, this seems to challenge a fully determinist universe–assuming thats a view you hold–which might create a double bind (assuming again that was a position you took on the nature of the universe).


So ideas & imaginations are not real.

Are all people crazy due to saying that had an event happen to them which is not in fact real? Are scientists crazy too when they come up with theories? So should doctors or others disregard meaning making & sense making entirely?

Did the imagination event happen? Why is the physical or material aspect of that event true?

Why not record the traces of events as true? It would be analogous to saying that fireworks traces as they float to the groud weren’t real that only the actual firing of them was real? Or perhaps more appropriate to the analogy would be to turn that upside down–the imagination event in this case is the people assembling the fireworks for launch (ie preparation in brain process)–to suggest that the parallel process make sense but the other one doesn’t because it occurs between 2 ear lobes seems to be odd? (I realize this is only an analogy–but its using syllogistic logic as well as it can–given that there is no perfect analogy) Why erase human experience? Why erase the subjective? Why the need to re-name something when its intuitive that it deserves a 3rd category (perhaps)?

Its a bit amusing that given your previous statements–the idea of a physician committed to these beliefs can’t carry on any meaningful conversations with psychologists, counselors, trainers, artists/creatives, and perhaps other people in the humanities. At least with regard to these events. Calling them illusions or not real is papering over a host of systemic & cause and effect interactions and is to loose the full nuance and complexity of whats going on. Carving out more nuanced distinctions help create more vital and accurate dialogs.

Its like the famous South Park episode that is echoed in the entrepreneurship literature with a big question mark in between.

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