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Types of Reality

Thus far we have been developing a framework that supports the organization of personal and cultural development. In a nutshell, we should seek to use Lamarckian methods to achieve the conversion of magical thinking into understanding through respectful rational inquiry.

The thoughtful reader will note that there is no moral content to this statement. My goal, however, is to present a convincing argument that moral conduct has concrete physical advantages. Morality is a defensible philosophical abstraction that follows from the physics of spirituality.

To clarify the structure of that analysis, we should first consider the nature of our interaction with reality. I will make a simple distinction, that eventually will be seen to be a matter of personal discipline. I distinguish objective reality and subjective reality.

This distinction between objective and subjective is critical to establishing a framework for organizing our thoughts about reality.

Objective Reality

Objective reality consists of those phenomena that we believe, in principle, we can present to another person to establish a shared basis of experience.

This appears to be a slippery definition. Objective reality consists of things such as our car, Yosemite Falls, a fire, and a kiss. But are those things constant? Do we mean our car in the hour before or after we had take-out at the burger stand? Do we mean Yosemite Falls in Autumn, or in Spring?

The supposition of objective reality is that some component of those experiences is consistent when time and place is varied – enough that we can recognize when a similar or related experience occurs. For example, the experience of Yosemite Falls during any season is a basis for relating the experience of Victoria Falls. In fact, it may be a key element in relating the experience of Victoria Falls to someone who has never been there.

At some level, the supposition of objective reality is simply the supposition that objects and events exist independently of our awareness (conscious or otherwise).

Subjective Reality

Subjective reality, conversely, consists of those phenomena that we believe we cannot present to another person as a basis for shared experience.

Subjective reality consists largely of our emotional and intellectual response to experience. It includes the feelings that we have when we kiss, the apprehension we have of the geology of Yosemite Falls, and the memories that are evoked by a fire.

Why do we believe that we cannot share these phenomena? I am going to assert later that we can come to share many subjective experiences. However, there are two things that make them unreliable as a basis for shared experience. First, we change. The first kiss of youth cannot be re-experienced with our later lovers. Our awakening to the apprehension of intimacy can never be repeated. Secondly, even identical twins will spend some time apart, having independent experiences. Those independent experiences establish a store of associations that affect our subjective responses. While there is conditions under which another’s subjective responses can dominate our own (such as when we allow ourselves to be intimidated by anger), under most conditions our neural encoding will dominate the sympathetic response to our partner’s.

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