The reality is not as obvious and simple as we like to think.

Some of the things that we accept as true and take at face value are notoriously wrong.

Scientists and philosophers have made every effort to change our common perceptions of it. The 10 examples below will show you what I mean.

1. Big Freeze.

Big Freeze is the theory of the final state that our universe is heading toward. The universe has a limited supply of energy. According to this theory, when that energy finally runs out, the universe will devolve into a frozen state. The thermal energy produced by the motion of the particles will gradually wear out, which means that eventually, this particle motion will slow down and, presumably, one day, everything will stop.

2. Solipsism.

Solipsism is a philosophical theory, which asserts that nothing exists but the individual’s consciousness. At first, it seems silly, but if you think about it, it really is impossible to verify anything but your own consciousness.

To check this out, take a moment to recall all the dreams that you have experienced in your life. Is it not possible that everything around you is nothing but an incredibly intricate dream? But, you may say, there are people and things around us that we cannot doubt because we can hear, see, smell, taste and feel them, right? Yes, and no. People who take LSD, for example, say that they can touch the most convincing hallucinations, but we do not claim that their visions are a “reality”. Your dreams can simulate sensations as well. After all, what you perceive is just a product of the information processing that takes place in different sections of your brain.

As a result, which parts of existence can we not doubt? Probably none. Each of us can only be sure of their own thoughts.

3. Idealism

George Berkeley, the father of Idealism, argued that everything exists as an idea in someone’s mind. Berkley discovered that some of his peers considered his theory to be stupid. The story goes that one of his opponents kicked a stone with his eyes closed and said, “I disprove it thus!”

The idea was that if the stone really only existed in his imagination, he could not have kicked it with his eyes closed. The way Berkeley refuted this is hard to understand, especially in these days. He argued that there was an omnipotent and omnipresent God who was able to see everything simultaneously.

4. Plato and the Logos.

Everybody has heard of Plato. He is one of the world’s most famous philosophers. Like all philosophers, he had a few things to say about the nature of reality. He argued that beyond our perceived reality, there lies a world of “perfect” forms. Everything that we see is just a shade, an imitation of how things truly are. To learn more about these ideas, read about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which is a sort of the ‘Matrix‘ in its ancient version.

Plato argued that by studying philosophy, we have a chance of catching a glimpse of how things truly are and discovering the perfect forms of everything we perceive.

In addition to this stunning statement, Plato, being a monist, said that everything is made of a single substance. This means (according to him) that everything – from stars in the sky to the dust under your bed – consists of the same basic material, but in a different form. With the discovery of atoms and molecules, it has been proven true to an extent.

5. Presentism.

Time is something that we perceive as a reality. Of course, we usually divide it into the past, present and future. Presentism argues that the past and the future are imagined concepts while only the present is real.

In other words, today’s breakfast and every word of this article will cease to exist after you finish reading it until you open it to read it again. The future is just as imaginary because the time cannot exist before and after it happened, as claimed by St. Augustine.

6. Eternalism.

Eternalism is the exact opposite of presentism. This is a philosophical theory that says that time is multi-layered. All layers of the time exist simultaneously, but the measurement is determined by the observer. What they see depends on which point they are looking at.

Thus, dinosaurs, Queen Victoria and Justin Bieber all exist simultaneously but can only be observed from a specific location. If one takes this view of reality, then the future is hopeless and the deterministic free will is illusory.

7. The Brain in a Jar

The “brain in a jar” thought experiment is a question discussed by thinkers and scientists who, like most people, believe that one’s understanding of reality depends solely on their subjective feelings.

So, what is the essence of this thought experiment? Imagine that you are just a brain in a jar that is run by aliens or mad scientists. How would you know? And can you truly deny the possibility that this is your reality?

This is a modern interpretation of Descartes’ evil demon problem. This thought experiment leads to the same conclusion: we cannot confirm the actual existence of anything except our consciousness. If this seems to sound reminiscent of the movie “The Matrix“, it is only because this idea was part of the very basis of the story. Unfortunately, in reality, we have no red pills…

8. The Multiverse Theory

multiverse reality
art by Sam del Russi – samdelrussi.artistwebsites.com

Anyone who has not spent the last ten years on a desert island has heard of “the multiverse” or parallel universes at least once. As many of us have seen, parallel words, in theory, are worlds very similar to ours, with little (or in some cases, large) changes or differences. The multiverse theory speculates that there could exist an infinite number of these alternate realities.

What’s the point? In a parallel reality, you may be living in the opposite corner of the world or may have already died in a car crash. In another one, you might have never even been born because your parents never met. The probabilities are endless.

9. Fictional realism.

This is probably the most fascinating branch of the multiverse theory. Superman is real. Yes, some of you would probably choose a different story, for argument’s sake, Harry Potter might be real too.

This branch of the theory argues that given an infinite number of universes, everything must exist somewhere. So, all of our favorite fiction and fantasy may be descriptive of an alternate universe, one where all the right pieces came into place to make it happen.

10. Phenomenalism.

Everyone is interested in what happens to things when we aren’t looking at them. Scientists have carefully studied this problem and some of them came to a simple conclusion – they disappear. Well, not quite like this.

Phenomenalist philosophers believe that objects only exist as a phenomenon of consciousness. So, your laptop is only here while you are aware of it and believe in its existence, but when you turn away from it, it ceases to exist until you or someone else interacts with it. There is no existence without perception. This is the root of phenomenalism.

Which of these mind-blowing theories about the nature of reality appeal to you most of all? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

H/T listverse.com
art by Victoria Audouard

Anna LeMind, B.A.

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This Post Has 425 Comments

  1. Avatar
    DIANA

    I recently had experience some really weird and amazing dreams, wich had let me with the question what is dead? what is life? and how do we know wich thing is real and what not.

    I can tell you about one dream. I was in a very dark room with two strange spirits that seemed to me like parents but more like Gods, they had a candle in front to me and it was the only light. They told me to not be afraid of death and for the count to three they would blow the candle and I would die.

    1

    2

    3

    DARKNESS

    I woke up in my bed.

    1. Avatar
      Amani

      that’s interesting

  2. Avatar
    Nina Taylor

    It’s amazing to me that on a website called “Learning Mind,” under an article called “10 Mind-Blowing Theories,” the discussion for the most part dissolved into a treatise on the existence of the Judeo-Christian God and simplistic interpretations of Biblical quotations. The entire Bible contains allegory upon allegory. The story of Jesus, himself, is in itself an allegory. .”In the beginning, was the Word,” i.e., in the beginning, there was language, and those who spoke the “word” were “as gods.” The use of language allowed man to “create” all things, including God–a thing cannot be jointly perceived by two without agreeing upon a name. Most likely primitive humans learned to use sticks or rocks to make markings in the dirt, then these markings were assigned sounds, etc., thus the development of language. As for the Jesus mythology–each of us is Jesus. We are attached to the body of our mother (women are the tree of life) by the umbilicus. At the ninth hour (the ninth month), living water flows from the mother and we are born into hell or heaven, depending on how you perceive it. We come into our families and our families do not know us, but they learn us as they shape us and as we grow. Primitive humans worshiped the Sun, the stars, the moon, and the planets, and those were worshipped in the order in which they were revealed in the heavens. What we’ve been playing ever since is a very long game of “telephone” in which one whispers the mysteries to the next generation, and each generation plays with those mysteries and edits them at will, till now we have no idea of what it was we were originally worshipping. However, it is the Sun, moon, planet, and stars that are our heavenly bodies, and the original deities worshipped by man.

    1. Avatar
      Chip

      Nina,
      I am very glad you are out there.
      There is compassionate intelligence.

  3. Avatar
    Loralei

    I must say that while the article has left me with something to be desired, the comments are more than satisfying! Kudos to all of you! Including the one that takes the bible as God’s literal word, even though it has been touched and rewritten by the hands of man numerous times (God is infallible, man is not). While I do believe in what I call a higher power (it’s actually more like an energy that connects all life, although not quite that simplistic) and my body is just a vessel, I consider myself an agnostic of sorts. With the things I have seen and experienced during my part of life, the blessings I have received, the trials I have endured, the simple beauty and wonder of life, I cannot deny the existence of a being, force, SOMETHING greater than us. However, I am not one to just follow blindly. Without irrefutable proof, I cannot fully accept the existence of one either. I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of God or whatever it is you want to call him, it, them, whatever. Whether it is a primitive desire to understand the unknown or answer questions that we cannot possibly know the answers to, in my heart of hearts, I want to believe in something greater than myself. I want to believe in an existential purpose for us greater than what it appears to be at this time. So, I do. Sort of.

  4. Avatar
    steven holder

    Keeping in mind its all in your mind ! The only indication of reality comes to us via our senses. Without any senses how would we gauge reality? We would be 100% left to our thoughts to determine our reality. Isn’t that really what we’re doing anyway with a little sensory perception to bolster our belief that it’s all real? It’s an interesting thought , but sheer folly.

  5. Avatar
    james sherman

    who am i

  6. Avatar
    Subhranshu

    Well first of all this is not a the first time I have thought of them. I might be sounding a bit rude but I don’t mean to be.
    I highly doubt the first theory as we all know that energy is eternal or in other words can’t be created nor be destroyed . So, what I think is that energy in our universe will finish up is a little childish according to my opinion.
    I am a true believer of eternalism. According to my opinion, reality is a synthesized version of the theories mentioned above. Once i a saw a movie I can’t remember the name that movie was about the friendship of a boy of 2nd dimensions and a boy of 3rd dimensions. You know the mathematical dimensions. Since the boy of the 2.nd dimension was unable to experience the depth or what you call the height was thus unable to see the boy of the 3rd dimension and thought of him as the voice of god. Easy way to understand- close one eye and try to connect the tips of pencils with one in each hand with a medium pace. What do you observe… ? Yes you guess it right ( if you did not then please don’t hesitate to read) . The existence of two eyes in our body and the distance between them is the reason we are able to experience depth. So, can it be not be possible that the gods might be more developed higher beings that might be able to to access the fourth dimension that may be of perfect forms.

  7. Avatar
    Iulian Marcel Ghita

    I like presentism much more than the others.

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