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Harald Jezek

Owner, Nuada beauty+wellness

TEDCRED 50+

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What is reality ?

Did you ever think about what it is that makes reality real ?
How is our reality created ? Isn't it the perceptions our brain creates based on our sensory inputs ?
But what if we lack a sense ? How does reality change for somebody who cannot hear or see ?
Or take it even a step further, assume you are deprived of all your senses, What would reality mean in such a case ?
And last but not least, let's assume you are born without any senses. What would that mean to your reality ?
So what is reality and what are we as part of this reality ?

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Closing Statement from Harald Jezek

Thanks everybody for participating in this conversation.
After 900+ comments did we solve the question of what reality actually is ? Probably not, however it was a good exercise in contemplating what it actually means when we say this or this is "real".
What most of us agreed upon is that there are different aspects to reality.

One is the reality we deal with on a daily basis and which we share to a large degree. For example we agree upon common things, such as when we see a car we all agree it's a car, a tree is a tree and a house if a house.
Although we know that this reality is created by our mind based on sensory inputs which is not only incomplete but often also faulty, it still is "real" because we share the same benchmarking (same sensory inputs, generally same mechanism how our brain interprets those sensory inputs.

Beside this shared reality we all have our own reality. This can be something simple like the perception of a taste, odor or a color.
Although we might agree that a given color is read or an odor is that of a pine, we never can know how another person actually perceives this sensory input.
Individual reality also becomes visible in our beliefs. For a religious person the existence of a God is a fact and hence part of reality while for an atheist reality is free of such a God.
Differences in this aspect of reality can also be observed in how different people get different perceptions of the same situation.

Last but not least there must be an underlying objective reality which includes the laws of nature (whether those are the ones we believe are valid today or perhaps something even deeper which we don't have discovered yet) and which exists regardless of us being here to contemplate it and regardless of our beliefs.

Next time we insist something is real, let's think whether it's real for me, for all(most) of us or real in an absolute sense.

To finish with Albert Einstein:
"“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

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    Nov 2 2013: Wow, thats a hell of question. Ok, I am trying to wrap my brain around this whole reality concept...mind you that's like trying to wrap a skyscraper in a bubblegum wrapper, but here goes: I remember watching a show that explained what happens when the brain experiences an emotion or more accurately how the brain creates emotion. Please don't jump on me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember that emotions spur the production of peptides. Peptides are released through the body and find receptors on cells. The cells, having no idea the what the peptide represents, just know that they want to experience it again, bad or good. So, when the cells request the same peptide again the brain says...hmm how can I get this to happen. So is it that the brain receives millions maybe billions of inputs and filters and chooses the ones most likely to put you in a position to experience a certain emotion? I have a headache now lol,
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      Nov 2 2013: Yes, Glenn, chemical processes, emotions and physiological functions are related. This is easy to prove. Just close your eyes and think about something beautiful and you'll feel how your body/mind responds. Obviously the same works for negative stimulus (most likely the source of many health problems)
      There were some experiments done where scientist stimulated a certain brain region, inducing religious experiences in those people.
      • Nov 2 2013: Obviously some stimulus massacred as the beautiful to get individuals into a bait and switch scheme... consider that next time you get the urge to share something... especially observe what it cultivates...

        I once heard that there is more good going on in the world its just that what gets mostly reported be something else creating the distorted conception ... for some reason individuals get to focus on what they don't want rather than focus on what they do want ... just an example : lets focus on the problem to find a solution... Rather than lets focus on what we are going to do and what we are going to cultivate...
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          Nov 4 2013: You are right. We can be sure that every flight that crashes somewhere in the world gets reported. However, there are millions of flights that do not crash and nobody says a word about them.
          That's true for everything I guess.
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        Nov 2 2013: So Harald, is there a reality created in our brains in an attempt to make us "feel" a certain way(in order to appease our peptide hungry cells)? If so, it would seem that out of the seven billion (or so) realities being experienced on earth, my reality my could be more accurately viewed by someone else. Someone not leashed to the emotion I am trying to achieve. Is it as though the brain is a clandestine spy using every trick at its disposal to get the information (stimulus for a desired response) it was requested to provide?
        Also, what happens when people share a reality? For instance, if one culture looks at another with certain stereotypes in place, they may have a common social reality regarding the other cultures people. Is reality more "firm" the more people share it?
        I really appreciate you posting the question by the way, thank you for the contribution.
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          Nov 4 2013: I think as humans we share a large part of our subjective reality because our sensory input is basically the same. However, there are differences in the details and we can't even compare and verify.
          For example colors. You see an apple and say it's read and I agree. However, how is the red you see compared to my red ? We can't really know if the representation of "red" for both of us is exactly the same.
          As to your example of different culture, I probably wouldn't call that different realities. I think the term bias would be more appropriate.

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