What is ‘real’?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been attempting to verify what ‘real’ is. The seeds of this drive started years ago teaching modals and trying to clearly explain what they are, especially as opposed to the future tense.
For example, I will go shopping tomorrow vs I would go shopping tomorrow if I had the money. The first sentence is future tense indicating actual intention, the second an unrealisable future action.
Another example may be, I fly in my dreams vs If I could fly, I’d flap off. The first is a statement of fact, the second a fantasy. But what is ‘real’, here?
Historically and socially, and now globally as we enter the anthropocene, I get the impression that most people tend to place humans as the most superior in power on this planet. However, I must disagree.
When I analyse people psychologically and socially, and until we capitulate to climate management necessities, our ideas are superior to us. The things we believe determine our actions. What we know and do not know proscribe our thoughts and behaviour. Bigotry steers the ship.
But ideas are not real! I hear you, my constructed straw man, proclaim.
Are they not?
Let’s take capitalism as an idea which is real but does not exist. If there were no humans, there would be no capitalism. Therefore, capitalism does not exist in reality. However, it exists in the reality of our thoughts and the proof of its existence is in the exploitation of workers by capitalists and landowners.
Another idea which is real but does not exist are gods, spirits and other deities. If there were no humans, there would be no deities or religions and, therefore, they do not exist in reality. However, the proof of their existence is in the buildings, tax exemptions, habits and abuse they manifest.
Where a large group of people subscribe to the same point of view, we have a culture. Where a small group of people subscribe to the same point of view, we have a fringe group. However, both groups function identically in that they both function subservient to a specific idea.
Ideas are superior to humans.
Homo sapiens exists within a realm of ideas and we manifest those ideas through our actions. Happily, we are capable of changing our ideas but, sadly, identifying with a different idea such as moving from capitalism to sustainability, or from eternal torture avoidance to cosmopolitanism, is quite terrifying.
What is ‘real’?
We are now entering the biggest war in our species’ history: the battle between the reality of our Western ideas, and the limitations of this planet to support them. Perhaps we will mature, as a species, as we orient our ideas based on the superiority of healthy ecosystems.