Wundervölker, Monstrosität und Hässlichkeit im Mittelalter (German Edition)

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It explained how knowledge is acquired and used for the comprehension of reality. Out of all the realities, the reality of everyday life is the most important one since our consciousness requires us to be completely aware and attentive to the experience of everyday life.

Philosophy addresses two different aspects of the topic of reality: the nature of reality itself, and the relationship between the mind as well as language and culture and reality. On the one hand, ontology is the study of being, and the central topic of the field is couched, variously, in terms of being, existence, "what is", and reality. The task in ontology is to describe the most general categories of reality and how they are interrelated.

If a philosopher wanted to proffer a positive definition of the concept "reality", it would be done under this heading. As explained above, some philosophers draw a distinction between reality and existence. In fact, many analytic philosophers today tend to avoid the term "real" and "reality" in discussing ontological issues. But for those who would treat "is real" the same way they treat "exists", one of the leading questions of analytic philosophy has been whether existence or reality is a property of objects.

It has been widely held by analytic philosophers that it is not a property at all, though this view has lost some ground in recent decades. On the other hand, particularly in discussions of objectivity that have feet in both metaphysics and epistemology , philosophical discussions of "reality" often concern the ways in which reality is, or is not, in some way dependent upon or, to use fashionable jargon , "constructed" out of mental and cultural factors such as perceptions, beliefs, and other mental states, as well as cultural artifacts, such as religions and political movements , on up to the vague notion of a common cultural world view , or Weltanschauung.

The view that there is a reality independent of any beliefs, perceptions, etc. More specifically, philosophers are given to speaking about "realism about " this and that, such as realism about universals or realism about the external world. Generally, where one can identify any class of object, the existence or essential characteristics of which is said not to depend on perceptions, beliefs, language, or any other human artifact, one can speak of "realism about " that object.

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One can also speak of anti -realism about the same objects. Anti-realism is the latest in a long series of terms for views opposed to realism.


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Perhaps the first was idealism , so called because reality was said to be in the mind, or a product of our ideas. Berkeleyan idealism is the view, propounded by the Irish empiricist George Berkeley , that the objects of perception are actually ideas in the mind. In this view, one might be tempted to say that reality is a "mental construct"; this is not quite accurate, however, since, in Berkeley's view, perceptual ideas are created and coordinated by God.

By the 20th century, views similar to Berkeley's were called phenomenalism. Phenomenalism differs from Berkeleyan idealism primarily in that Berkeley believed that minds, or souls, are not merely ideas nor made up of ideas, whereas varieties of phenomenalism, such as that advocated by Russell , tended to go farther to say that the mind itself is merely a collection of perceptions, memories, etc. Finally, anti-realism became a fashionable term for any view which held that the existence of some object depends upon the mind or cultural artifacts.

The view that the so-called external world is really merely a social, or cultural, artifact, called social constructionism , is one variety of anti-realism.

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Cultural relativism is the view that social issues such as morality are not absolute, but at least partially cultural artifact. A correspondence theory of knowledge about what exists claims that "true" knowledge of reality represents accurate correspondence of statements about and images of reality with the actual reality that the statements or images are attempting to represent.

For example, the scientific method can verify that a statement is true based on the observable evidence that a thing exists. Many humans can point to the Rocky Mountains and say that this mountain range exists, and continues to exist even if no one is observing it or making statements about it. The nature of being is a perennial topic in metaphysics. For, instance Parmenides taught that reality was a single unchanging Being, whereas Heraclitus wrote that all things flow.

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The 20th century philosopher Heidegger thought previous philosophers have lost sight the question of Being qua Being in favour of the questions of beings existing things , so that a return to the Parmenidean approach was needed. An ontological catalogue is an attempt to list the fundamental constituents of reality. The question of whether or not existence is a predicate has been discussed since the Early Modern period, not least in relation to the ontological argument for the existence of God.

Existence, that something is, has been contrasted with essence , the question of what something is. Since existence without essence seems blank, it associated with nothingness by philosophers such as Hegel. Nihilism represents an extremely negative view of being, the absolute a positive one. Timothy Leary coined the influential term Reality Tunnel , by which he means a kind of representative realism.

The theory states that, with a subconscious set of mental filters formed from their beliefs and experiences, every individual interprets the same world differently, hence "Truth is in the eye of the beholder". His ideas influenced the work of his friend Robert Anton Wilson. The status of abstract entities, particularly numbers, is a topic of discussion in mathematics. In the philosophy of mathematics , the best known form of realism about numbers is Platonic realism , which grants them abstract, immaterial existence.

Other forms of realism identify mathematics with the concrete physical universe. Anti-realist stances include formalism and fictionalism. Some approaches are selectively realistic about some mathematical objects but not others. Finitism rejects infinite quantities. Ultra-finitism accepts finite quantities up to a certain amount.


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  • Constructivism and intuitionism are realistic about objects that can be explicitly constructed, but reject the use of the principle of the excluded middle to prove existence by reductio ad absurdum. The traditional debate has focused on whether an abstract immaterial, intelligible realm of numbers has existed in addition to the physical sensible, concrete world. A recent development is the mathematical universe hypothesis , the theory that only a mathematical world exists, with the finite, physical world being an illusion within it.

    An extreme form of realism about mathematics is the mathematical multiverse hypothesis advanced by Max Tegmark. Tegmark's sole postulate is: All structures that exist mathematically also exist physically.

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    That is, in the sense that "in those [worlds] complex enough to contain self-aware substructures [they] will subjectively perceive themselves as existing in a physically 'real' world". The theory can be considered a form of Platonism in that it posits the existence of mathematical entities, but can also be considered a mathematical monism in that it denies that anything exists except mathematical objects.

    The problem of universals is an ancient problem in metaphysics about whether universals exist. For example, Scott, Pat, and Chris have in common the universal quality of being human or humanity. There are various forms of realism. Two major forms are Platonic realism and Aristotelian realism. Aristotelian realism , on the other hand, is the view that universals are real entities, but their existence is dependent on the particulars that exemplify them. Nominalism and conceptualism are the main forms of anti-realism about universals. A traditional realist position in ontology is that time and space have existence apart from the human mind.

    Idealists deny or doubt the existence of objects independent of the mind. Some anti-realists whose ontological position is that objects outside the mind do exist, nevertheless doubt the independent existence of time and space. Kant , in the Critique of Pure Reason , described time as an a priori notion that, together with other a priori notions such as space , allows us to comprehend sense experience. Kant denies that either space or time are substance , entities in themselves, or learned by experience; he holds rather that both are elements of a systematic framework we use to structure our experience.

    Spatial measurements are used to quantify how far apart objects are, and temporal measurements are used to quantitatively compare the interval between or duration of events. Although space and time are held to be transcendentally ideal in this sense, they are also empirically real , i. Idealist writers such as J. McTaggart in The Unreality of Time have argued that time is an illusion.

    As well as differing about the reality of time as a whole, metaphysical theories of time can differ in their ascriptions of reality to the past , present and future separately.

    Time, and the related concepts of process and evolution are central to the system-building metaphysics of A. Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. The term " possible world " goes back to Leibniz's theory of possible worlds, used to analyse necessity, possibility , and similar modal notions. Modal realism is the view, notably propounded by David Kellogg Lewis , that all possible worlds are as real as the actual world.

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