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From reading the notes and comparing all of the philosophers that we have studied, it became evident to me that all of their works in some way attempted to explain the nature of reality and all of their writing dealt with the relationship between subjective and objective reality. The contrast between objective and subjective can be exemplified by the contrast between the theories of Berkeley and the Buddha. Though they have some similarities and a similar conclusion, they strike me as very different.
Berkeley says all reality is subjective, while Buddha says reality is objective. While the Buddha believes that truth and reality exist regardless of our perception of it, Berkeley believes that reality exists only in our perception because there is no way to prove that it exists outside of it. To me, it seems as though the Buddha views reality and perception as more separate, while Berkeley views them as inseparable. As for the aforementioned similarities between Buddha and Berkeley, they both would agree that our perception of reality shapes reality for us. It is impossible for us to not see reality subjectively, therefore our perception of reality is the only reality we know.
My own opinion on this topic is not aligned with either of the two. I believe that just because it is impossible to prove the existence of reality outside of one’s perception does not mean that an objective reality does not exist. It simply means that we have not found a way to prove it. But at the same time, I believe that to us, reality only exists because of our perception of it. As was mentioned in many of the readings, we are limited to our point of view and it is our only source of reality, therefore it constitutes our reality.
Another philosopher view on reality that I feel compelled to discuss is Descartes’. Regarding his argument, I personally found it to be problematic because in order to be convinced by it, it is necessary to believe in God or an Evil Genius or some sort of a higher power. I understand that he is just using this Evil Genius argument as a way of creating doubt and stripping away his past convictions, but this argument does not make sense with his idea that in order for things to exist, they must be perceived. He would say that we know all the places and objects which we have not yet perceived exist because God is there to perceive all of them. But in order to be convinced by this, it is necessary to believe in God or a higher power that perceives everything. Because there is no way to prove such a higher power, how do we know his theory is right? How do we know that the physical world is not made up of only the things which we have perceived?
The objective physical world was a significant topic in all the readings, which is ironic, because we cannot experience objectivity. Philosophers like Berkeley would even go as far as to say objectivity may not exist. What I am curious about is why most people believe that it does exist. We see others and we are able to read their actions and recognize their feelings and empathize with them. That is how we know that there must be some objective truths out there because there are things that everybody experiences. If you asked someone to describe a physical object to you, their description would most likely be similar to your own, and that is how you would know that there must be some objective thing that you are both perceiving. Berkeley, of course, would argue that it is impossible to be certain that the other person is not merely another one of your perceptions. What piques my curiosity is the fact most of us chose to firmly believe in the existence of other people while simultaneously recognizing the fact that we cannot prove this.
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