A common theme in our philosophy and art is the question about whether or not our reality is “real”?
Could we be objects of artificial intelligence within a simulation? Or maybe we’re all plugged in to a greater network like the Matrix. Many religions and faiths have tackled the issue of a realm beyond this one — supposedly part of a greater reality — only accessible to those who are enlightened. On the other hand, many skeptics argue that this world is all there is, and that we can only uncover the deeper truth with rigorous observation and scrutiny.
Not all those who are skeptical have believed in a cold, lonely universe where luck is the only reason for our existence. Famous philosopher Rene Descartes — I think, therefore I am — was both highly critical of established knowledge, as well as believing in a greater god responsible for the existence of all things.
Regardless of his fundamental beliefs, his famous quote piques the curiosity of what can be defined as existing. In his argument, the fact that he is thinking means that at the very least, his thoughts exist, and since he is the sum of his thoughts, he must exist. From this point on, we can at least prove that we exist, but what about proving everything else exists? Nick Bostrom claims that if humans are capable of creating realistic simulation, we’re likely already living in it.
It is a mystery that we can contemplate such a scenario, but somehow never prove it, which means that whether or not we are living in a simulation the outcome is the same, we still don’t know if the reality outside of our thoughts exists. When someone is having a mental disturbance and their view of the world disagrees with the consensus on reality, are they necessarily wrong for feeling the way they do, or is it a matter of how they interpret situations.
One final idea: if your thoughts are intimately tied to the stimuli from external sources, would that mean that the external stimuli and your thoughts have a necessary link? Isn’t that evidence that there is something outside of yourself that your mind is trying to understand, though rarely with any perfection?
Maybe someone who stumbles upon these questions will pick them up and solve these them.