Appearances and Reality

All people, whether they be philosophers or sages; playwrights or physicists; Nobel Prize winners or everyday people; each has heard, read, or spoken the adage of ‘the difference between appearances and reality’, or perhaps more poignantly, some reworking of ‘we can never know reality, only appearances’.

Yet, if appearances are all we can ever know, experience and live according to, do these not constitute reality? And if ‘reality’ is something we can never really know and is something which, therefore, is purely speculative, does this not make reality itself un-real? A mere spectre, phantom or chimera?

To repeat, if we can only live in, and know of, appearances, then the appearances themselves are what constitutes reality. There ceases to be a Kantian ‘thing in of itself’ separate from our observation of it. All we know is appearances, which becomes reality through perspective. Reality itself, something above and beyond the world of appearance, is mere speculation, and therefore, not even real according to its own definition.

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