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What is REAL?

Does the scientific way of understanding the world give us the true picture of reality or is the life-world perspective more accurate? No job, no home, driving a 15 year old petrol guzzling motor vehicle that is on its last legs and barely enough food to feed the family. Surviving the present is all one can think about, not buying locally grown produce. One has no time to consider the future. As for ones future, the prospect of a job may be more important in this current climate, than that of the effects of climate change. All one needs is a hope for a future. Can one call this a practical view of the life world where scientific understanding might help contribute to the betterment of humankind through increased knowledge and awareness? The reality is that the majority of humans living on this our planet do not have a full appreciation of the scientific world and thus live in the life world.

It will be argued that to get a true picture of reality we need to understand both the life-world and the scientific way of understanding the world . To attest to these assertions it is necessary to draw on references from philosophers and physicists to balance this argument.

So what is Science to the average person? Is science a creative occupation, testing theories with an open mind, without bias, or prejudice, a quest for knowledge requisition and scientific expedition which includes performing quantifiable experiments? Is it not dependent on the content of the question explicitly contrasting the metaphysical or the epistemological? One might say science is the ability to be objective in the search for answers, to formulate the right questions, to test theories in order to obtain evidence to prove or disprove 1

your hypothesis. If your hypothesis is wrong, change your quantifiable properties to find the truth. For example, scientist are seeking a solution to the hot debateable political issue, global warming.

History shows that it was the famous late 16th and early 17th century scientist and philosopher Galileo who changed the worlds perception of the imagined true reality. Galileos work and remarkable discoveries, along with the proper distribution of his letters and books between 1613 and 1632, ultimately led to peoples curiosity towards scientific inquiry. Galileos publications altered and challenged peoples perceptions of the life world. Galileos invention of the telescope that could see the stars saw a view of a world beyond the reach of ordinary senses, and the confirmation of Copernicans theory of relativity were major watersheds in scientific theories. With the development of this new

technology, the telescope, evidence was present for the first time.

One might ask did this new scientific way of thinking challenge the life-world way of thinking? Maybe the scientific way of thinking improved the life-world way of thinking by establishing a new cultural platform of knowledge acquisition, a curiosity in science that facilitated an inquiry based approach to learning. Over the years however, scientists have lost the people in the real world. Scientists have lost the ability to translate their findings to others in a medium they can hear it and relate to it. Eddington, Arthur S. 1933 and Austin, John l. 1962 both provide relatable metaphors with different interpretations of scientific language in the context of its use to reality.

Eddington questioned the meaning of real with the analogy of two tables. The first table, he described, was Substantive hungry, a common place object of the world, something that has a physical appearance that can appeal to our 2

five senses of sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing. The second table he asserted was his scientific table, That was mainly electrons and nuclei, nothing substantial, just nearly all empty space. Eddington questioned the definition of real Should we accept what is real What is real if its visible to our eyes, tangible to our grasp? Or are things real even when in a macroscopic form and not a biased product based on what we are taught an external compound that is concomitant with inherited prejudice. Are we grasping the shadows? Or are we accepting its shadowy nature? Eddington argues that his two tables are real, so which table is real? Does this mean that he too was unable to escape pre-perceived judgement and inherited biases?

Like Eddington, Austin argues that philosophers are frivolous in their assignment of meanings to words,. He asserts that such misrepresentation is unnecessary when a fixed definition is already in existence and we should avoid the fallacy of dismissing these ordinary uses of words as unimportant. Ultimately, Austin contends that everything is real; it really is how we choose to use the word; which is determined by the questions we ask and the answers we are seeking.

Must real then accompany substantiveness? So what is real? Can we, like Austin, take the word strictly as it is defined in the dictionary? Or must we, like Eddington, contend that there is more to what is real, and to its true meaning is subjective, so much as that it is determined by our own perceptions and biasness in the physical and mental sense. Will we then, like Austin described to be fallacious and casually frivolous in the application of the word.

Austin's presents sophisticated analyses of what went wrong in the philosophical debate about perception and, more generally, the problems 3

inherent in foundationalist epistemology.

Austin argues against the position

that our experience of perception is one of experiencing "sense data", as opposed to "directly" experiencing "material things.

Conclusion So what is real in the life world? Real as we see it, is really related with what is accepted as being normal. So if a un-normality becomes accepted as normality. A change in mindset and a paradigm shift occurs. People will take to accepting this new definition as the truth as real, until it is being questioned by the dictionary or some conflicting issues. Science is required to balance our preconceived perceptions that are fostered by education, language, cultural beliefs, religion, and imaginings from our communities. Will all these ingredients we will have a clearer picture of reality.


1. Eddington, Arthur S. 1933. Introduction. In the Nature of the Physical World , xi xix. Cambridge University Press 2. Austin, John L. 1962. VII. In Sense and Sensibilia, 62 77. London Oxford University Press 3. Machemer, Peter 1998. Excerpts from Introduction to the Cambridge Companion to Galileo, 1 25. Cambridge University Press