What Everybody Needs to Know About Reality

                   (A day’s worth of food in the palm of the hand – Emily Akai (34) and her family. Photograph: Rankin – Oxfam in Kenya)

What if many of the things we take as unshakeable realities aren’t fixed in some unalterable way but rather exist not only with our assent but with our whole co-operation?  What does it mean if much of reality is within our control not outside it?

Social reality is an expression of human agreement, someone is the president of a country and has the powers of that office because a system of government is created and acknowledged by the inhabitants of that country.  When the fundamental agreements which frame belief and behaviour change, social reality will change. (1)

Mount Everest and the Atlantic Ocean belong to a type of reality that the philosopher John Searle calls ‘brute’ reality.(2) We obviously don’t create brute reality – though we do seem able to destroy it.  Social reality is something different.

What everybody needs to know about reality is that while we don’t make mountains and trees, we do make social reality – or at least we all help to make it and so, we can all help to change it.


(1) Paul Lample, Revelation and Social Reality, p. 9

(2) John Searle, The Construction of Social Reality.

One comment on “What Everybody Needs to Know About Reality

  1. jay r says:

    There are brute realities closer to our own human reality, brute realities that affect our social reality. The brute reality of a woman’s biology affects or should affect our social reality around abortion, or affects the social reality itself called abortion rights.

    Homosexuality and heterosexuality are brute realities we must conclude, for if acting heterosexual were what it meant to be heterosexual, then there was a time when there were no homosexuals in our social reality, and that might in part be true, for being in the closet was still part of social reality, or was it an alternate reality?????

    To be homosexual and perform homosexual acts are not one and the same thing, unless we are willing to say that the first and last determining factor is in the sexual conduct/behavior. If we say this, then there can be no celibat homosexuals, no gay man who can remain gay and choose a path of spiritual enlightenment that put restrictions on his sexual expression. That’s absurd. A man who is gay and a buddhist monk remains gay in spite of his celibacy.

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