Reality: Influenced by an Individual’s Perception and Interpretation
When the term reality is mentioned, many questions arise regarding what reality is and what is real originate also. Unfortunately, many of these questions are yet to be answered since determining reality and what is real are left to each individual’s imagination - for one to determine reality as he or she sees fit. A dictionary may provide a definition for the word reality, but things that constitute reality may never be entirely defined because it is one of those things that is almost completely based on an individual’s perception and interpretation. A dictionary may also provide a definition for the word perception and the word interpretation, but many individuals perceive and interpret many things very differently. With the vast variation of people, thoughts, and beliefs in our world, how should society determine the boundaries of reality? On the other hand, is it even possible to set specific limits when considering reality?
The movie chosen, as a springboard into the forthcoming philosophical discussion, was “Dark City”, A Mystery Clock Production by New Line Cinema directed by Alex Proyas. The movie raised many interesting questions and produced many engaging comments. At the very beginning of the movie, you hear the voice of Dr. Schreber, played by Kieffer Sutherland. He begins by saying, “They [the “Strangers”] had mastered the ultimate technology, the ability to alter physical reality by will alone.”i If the “Strangers” are altering reality, the people of the city will never truly know what is real and what is artificial. Consequently, the city in which they live is all artificial and made up. We as viewers can see this, but the people of the city are none the wiser. At one point throughout the movie, Detective Walenski said, “None of it seems real, it’s like I’ve just been dreaming this life and when I finally wake up I’ll be somebody else, somebody totally different.”ii Walenski had an idea that something was going on and the city was not right, but was never entirely sure what was wrong.
For many years, people have tried to determine reality and what is real. “For centuries, the issue of what does and does not count as real has been a matter of philosophy… [W]hat is real? Is there a reality behind appearance?”iii There are many types of reality such as virtual reality, artificial reality, internal and external reality, etc. The list goes on; there are too many to list and with the exception of virtual reality, are more directly related to psychology rather than to philosophy. “[T]here is a reality, and…the virtual form of it…can help us recover it… Take away reality, and all that is left is relativism, a belief that truth can be established simply by asserting it, that the self is all that exists…”iv Although the many types of reality are interesting, they are irrelevant to this specific paper.