Is there duality between reality and appearance? This is pretty much philosophy 101, but no matter how many times I come back to the question it remains one of the most provoking issues haunting me at 3am.
So my problem with appearance is twofold, firstly, how can we prove that appearance is an accurate reflection of reality and not a mere simulacrum? We have no way of knowing or proving if what we perceive is real or a veil of appearances (yes it all sounds a bit matrixy but bear with me). Secondly, appearance also presupposes the existence of a perceiver. A perceiver is flawed by both their subjectivity and their flawed mechanisms of perception (we are susceptible to visual illusions, hallucinations, and dreams etc.). So if both the perceived and the perceiver are potentially inconsistent with reality, a duality surely exists right?
Before getting too hung up over how deceived we might be (and deciding if you would really take the red pill) let me ramble on a little further.
The way I look at it, appearance is an aspect or representation of reality; much in the same way that fluffiness is an aspect of a chip’s existence but not the entirety of its being. The chip’s fluffiness is not distinct from the chip and cannot be considered in absence of the chip’s existence, but rather as an extension of the chip’s reality. Thus appearance is a partial reality, an instance where the sum of all the parts does not equal the whole — parts that are highly tenuous at best.
This in no way solves the issue of duality however. I have simply danced around the abyss for fear of its infinite depth; and as my sanity is, shall we say, temperamental, I decided not to dive into the abyss alone and to drag a few friends with me (I’m thoughtful like that). It then surprised me that, when faced with the same issue, they had no fear of an inaccessible reality. Instead, they suggested that as perception and appearance are all we have in this life, it is the only reality, and in fact the idea of a reality is itself an illusion. Alas, it seems I have unknowingly befriended empiricists, but they do have a point; if reality is truly inaccessible does the duality matter?
As an ardent rationalist I say yes, I refuse to accept that what you see is what you get. I also cannot use the veil of illusion as a snuggly blanket against better judgment (I prefer my reality a bit more naked). However this leaves me open to an infinite pool of skepticism, I cannot prove anything exists beyond my own mind (if that)… Ah there it is, free falling in the abyss.
So which do you choose; a lonely truth or a shared lie?
(The feature image is the Veil Nebula as observed by the Hubble telescope)