Two Realities

Published on August 13, 2015 (↻ February 5, 2024), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

One of the most puzzling facts of our lives may be that we’re living in two realities.

One is physical reality.

The other is psychical reality.

Descartes knew, res extensa, res cogitans; others talked matter and consciousness; yet what I’m referring to here is substance dualism, even pluralism, with a trace belief in idealism (and yet then, no matter how confident at times, I’m really just a student).

Although intertwined, they’re not the same. They’re different, entirely valid realities.

Physical and psychical reality intersect through our bodies, but what other intersections, and boundaries, there are, we don’t really know. What consequences it has to live in—at least—two realities, we also don’t know. While we know a lot about physical reality, thanks to the scientific method, we may by now know less about psychical, mental reality than we ever did, also thanks to the scientific method (though also due to the Church, which, cf. Weber, “eliminated magic”).

When comparing the different models of reality that we have, the model that we live in two or more realities is the one that doesn’t only give more meaning, but that can also explain more (no matter that at the same time, it raises a great number of great new questions). For example, we’d get encouraged to look for said boundaries of physical and psychical reality that science so far misses, including ways to possibly explain phenomena like the placebo effect. We’d get an incentive to look at dreams more critically, lending force to the idea that dreams, too, represent other, and possibly just as valid, realities. And we might have more reason to believe that there is not just something to reincarnation—but also to having a soul.

Yet that may all go far for the moment. Right now we may just want to consider that we live in at least two realities, realities that are relevant for us. That should want to understand, and then include more thoroughly in our views and teachings of our reality system. For what we currently, commonly accept about our lives appears rather wildly inaccurate—to a good degree, perhaps, thanks to science.

[That the processes of consciousness themselves are in their real essence physical processes] is an assertion that directly contradicts our immediate experience, which teaches us that a human being, or any other similar living creature, is a psycho-physical and not only a physical unity.

—Wilhelm Wundt: An Introduction to Psychology (1911).

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!