Oh, quite a big topic, this one! Not really, as I shall attempt to explain.
There are some philosophical schools of thought which postulate that with our thoughts, we create the universe as presented by various mystical religions and theories. Other schools state that only power matters, exemplified by authoritarian regimes and neoliberalism. Another school is the determinists who assert that there is no free will and choice is merely an outcome of prior states resulting in an outcome. Yet another school, represented by most Indigenous cultures, is that of interconnection.
So. Is reality only conjured in our own minds? Is the only reality power or lack thereof? Do we actually have consciousness? Or is the nature of reality slightly more nuanced than all those three put together?
My personal rejection of our thoughts creating the world is a simple argument: anthropocentrism. For one species to assume that the entire universe is predicated on how we think about it reeks of narcissism. Egomania, one might say. However, if we apply a context to this theory, psychological investigation in the form of Symbolic Modelling and Clean Language reveals that we do indeed inhabit an entire universe within our own psychologies. How we perceive the universe is an intrinsically personal and personally defined phenomenon. Each awareness possesses its own inner universe.
I reject power as the definition of reality as capitalism is predicated on suffering and exploitation. Capitalism and its socio-political authoritarian evolution into neoliberalism makes no account of the destruction of the support systems of, not just our, species. The accumulation of power allows some advancements for the few but which require slavery, marginalisation, and wholesale environmental destruction. There is always a better way than this immorality.
I also reject determinism simply because extrapolating from one system, squarely defined by physics, cannot be assumed to result in emergent properties. I’ve not come across any determinist’s argument which actually defines ‘free will’ in specific terms. Were consciousness and agentic power to be reverse-engineered into the argument for determinism, I’d only cry foul play: the creative use of hindsight to validate assumptions is blatant bias. Chaotic systems giving rise to emergent properties is the basis of my argument against determinism.
There is no such thing as a true dichotomy: night and day has dawn and dusk; male and female has intersex and transgender; old and young has middle age and attitude. There are always degrees and spectrums between extremes.
And this is the basis of my argument against any philosophy based on a dichotomy. The clarity of an hypothetical argument can benefit greatly from imposing a this-or-that structure but, until the elements of that argument are parsed back into a practicable understanding of reality, the argument remains merely hypothetical.
I prefer nuanced philosophies which encompass paradoxes and contradictions. Such approaches to reality result in usefully applicable social structures and personal attitudes to surviving and living. A nuanced approach to understanding reality and our places in it avails us with a range of clear positions to adopt.
Cooperation, not competition, ensures long-term survival. Competition is best restricted to games.
Imbuing the natural world with personifications allows us to relate, anthropocentrically, to the world around us. There are no gods or spirits, perhaps, but engaging in this approach to reality is a valid approach considering our psychology: we are prone to project our needs onto the outside world. This is a natural phenomenon for us. Assuming the world around us is connected to us allows our psychology to connect to the world more deeply. Doing this ensures we protect that world consciously.
Social roles for everyone in the community ensures each person has a role to play, a clearly defined way to contribute and belong. Industrialisation requires disconnection from community and results in very high stress levels. We are social creatures. We require a society within which to function in a healthy way.
Population control based on naturally renewable resources results in people aware of limitations. Community education, communal support, and group awareness reinforce knowledge of the surrounding environment. Each member of the community is actively and passively focussed on survival and in the most comfortable way.
And this clarifies what I believe to be the basis of all reality: survival.
Once we detach ourselves from the day to day needs of living and adventure into hypotheticals, I believe we have also simultaneously detached our concepts from reality. Busily arguing for or against a particular theory explicitly is a detachment from discussing about actual needs.
> Our thoughts are our universe but in flood and drought, our thoughts are not the driving force of reality: the availability of food and shelter is.
> Perhaps the most powerful control enough resources to protect themselves from glacial periods and climate change but what about us? Deeply immoral and completely unnecessary.
> Assuming that whatever we do is pre-determined is neither here nor there: was it determined that I write this essay? Was it determined that I not write this essay? A truly pointless dichotomy as far as I can tell.
Is the application of morality to socio-economics determinable? Pffft. Can you perceive the fundamental disconnect, yet? I theorise that Western thought’s greatest achievement is word salad.
The basis of all reality is ‘can we survive’. Once sustainability is addressed, then we can extend our philosophy with ‘how we survive’. We. As in all of us.