The Big Questions: What is reality?
点击量： 时间：2019-03-15 01:20:00
By Roger Penrose New Scientist tackles eight of the deepest challenges faced by science – from reality and consciousness, to free will and death, in The Big Questions special features. WHAT do we understand by “reality”? For those of us who consider ourselves hard-headed realists, there is a kind of common-sense answer: “Reality consists of those things – tables, chairs, trees, houses, planets, animals, people and so on – which are actual things made of matter.” We might tend to include some more abstract-seeming notions such as space and time, and the totality of all such “real” things would be referred to as “the universe”. Some might well consider that this is not the whole of reality, however. In particular, there is the question of the reality of our minds. Should we not include a conscious experience as something real? And what about concepts, such as truth, virtue or beauty? Of course, some hard-headed people might adopt a doggedly materialist point of view and take mentality and all its attributes to be secondary to what is materially real. Our mental states, after all (so it would be argued), are simply emergent features of the construction and behaviour of our physical brains. We behave in certain ways merely because our brains act according to physical laws – the same laws as those that are strictly obeyed by all other pieces of physical material. Conscious mental experience, accordingly, has no further reality than that of the material underlying its existence; though not yet properly understood, it is merely an “epiphenomenon”,