‘REALITY’ …. What is it?



Ernst Mach, in ‘The Analysis of Sensations’ exposed how Western culture makes use of two ‘orthogonal’ impressions of ‘reality’ as associates with (a) Physics (classical/Newtonian), and (b) Psychology.  This essay explores how these two modes of ‘reality’ relate to one another in the manner of the ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’ parts of a ‘complex variable’; i.e. physics + i*psychology.  The respective ‘realities’ that form from PHYSICS and PSYCHOLOGY derive from the manner IN WHICH WE POSE QUESTIONS.

PHYSICS QUESTIONS are formulated by assuming that the reality is ‘CAUSALLY SOURCED’ by the actions of material things-in-themselves (the psychological artifact of ‘naming’ relational forms in the flow [the transforming relational continuum]).  E.g. “The rotten apple is the CAUSAL SOURCE of the corrupting of the barrel of apples.

PSYCHOLOGY QUESTIONS are formulated by assuming that reality is ‘RELATIONALLY SOURCED’ through the senses; i.e. the ‘sourcing’ is NOT dependent on notional ‘things-in-themselves’ abstractly fabricated by ‘naming’ relational forms in the flow; the sourcing is instead coming from the relational influence of the collective one is included in;  E.g. “It takes a whole community to raise a child”. That is, the child’s development is not simply inside-outwardly sources as in PHYSICS and ‘genetics’.

‘Reality’ in the Agatha Christie thriller is all about asking questions in the PHYSICS manner where unfolding developments are assumed to be CAUSALLY SOURCED.  The investigation ENDS once the ‘source’ that lies at the very beginning of a causal chain of events has been discovered.

‘Reality’ in the Victor Hugo novel ‘Les Miserables’ as also in the classic ‘Robin Hood’, are all about how the tensions of relational disparities are the INDUCTIVE SOURCE of developments, which are nevertheless explored by a line of questioning that seeks to discover the CAUSAL SOURCE to what would, INSTEAD, be more fully understood ‘RELATIONALLY’ (PSYCHOLOGICALLY)’; i.e. nature is innately balance-seeking.

THE ARCHITECTURE OF LANGUAGE plays an important role in how we formulate questions; i.e. languages that reduce relational forms to notional ‘independent things-in-themselves’ offer different forms of ‘traction’ in posing questions.  For example, indigenous aboriginal languages preserve the relational nature of reality, by employing a web of relations (naming is only an intermediate step for alluding to an inherently relational reality’.  Modern physics reaffirms this as in the ‘Surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’ (Geoffrey Chew and John Wheeler).   By the same token, Wittgenstein, in his final two propositions in Tractatus Logico Philosophicus, speaks of employing a web of relations as a ‘ladder’ to induce a relational understanding that lies innately BEYOND the explicit language instantiated ‘things-in-themselves’ animated by grammar, to imply it.

What comes out of this abstract system of language-instantiated (i.e. ‘naming-instantiated’) EXPLICIT things-in-themselves with grammar instantiated “powers of sorcery of actions and developments” is an INVENTED REALITY that serves Western culture as an OPERATIVE REALITY.   The ‘REALITY’ of our sensory experience, as Mach points out in ‘The Analysis of Sensations’ is relational and it runs deeper than the abstract ‘INVENTED REALITY’.

As Western culture language and grammar users, we are intrigued by, as in an Agatha Christie mystery, the manner in which a cleverly constructed web of questioning can ‘home in on the ‘truth’, in a PHYSICS BASED CAUSAL SENSE, where the climax and end-point of the inquiry lies in the exposing of the CAUSAL SOURCE of the EVENT whose ‘SOURCING’ is ‘IN QUESTION’.   But who says that there should be a causal ‘source’ that is ‘responsible’ for some or other emergent development?


WHAT IS INTENDED BY ‘PHYSICS’ IS ‘NEWTONIAN PHYSICS’ since modern physics understands emerging phenomena as innately relational in origin; e.g;

PSYCHOLOGY, on the other hand, as in Mach’s ‘Analysis of Sensations’, understands ‘reality’ in IMPLICIT terms of relational influence.  INQUIRY IN THIS PSYCHOLOGY ORIENTED VIEW opens the way into an infinite web of relations, as in the case of moving deeper into the question of ‘sourcing’ of the child’s behaviour. Meanwhile, in PHYSICS, by having ‘named the child’ (i.e. by having named the relational form in the transforming relational continuum) and thus having notionally imputed ‘thing-in-itself existence to him, there now exists a notional EXPLICIT, locally anchored JUMPSTART SOURCE for actions and developments; … at least this is so in the language and grammar interpreting mind.  How do we reconcile these very different understandings of ‘reality’; i.e. the EXPLICIT reality of PHYSICS and IMPLICIT reality of PSYCHOLOGY?

 “In the book ‘Causality and Chance in Modern Physics’ Bohm argued that the way science viewed causality was also much too limited. Most effects were thought of as having only one or several causes. However, Bohm felt that an effect could have an infinite number of causes. For example, if you asked someone what caused Abraham Lincoln’s death, they might answer that it was the bullet in John Wilkes Booth’s gun. But a complete list of all the causes that contributed to Lincoln’s death would have to include all of the events that led to the development of the gun, all of the factors that caused Booth to want to kill Lincoln, all of the steps in the evolution of the human race that allowed for the development of a hand capable of holding a gun, and so on, and so on. Bohm conceded that most of the time one could ignore the vast cascade of causes that had led to any given effect, but he still felt it was important for scientists to remember that no single cause-and-effect relationship was ever really separate from the universe as a whole.”  –The Holographic Universe: The Revolutionary Theory of Reality: Michael Talbot:


As it turns out, WHICH type of understanding of reality we get, is determined by the type of questions we pose.

Both the physicist and the psychologist, therefore, have to work with ‘two worlds’ that are ‘heterogeneous’, the physical and the psychological because of this ‘mutual dependence’ of each one on the other, … but this situation is not inevitable, it is an artefact of the splitting of inquiry into these two realms – Mach

In the Agatha Christie ‘Whodunnit’, our ‘detective inquiry’ aims to ‘detect’ and ‘unveil’ the wellspring or ‘jumpstart SOURCE’ of a notable action or development.  The excitement and tensions build as the reader follows the ‘detective’ in his quest to ‘detect the SOURCE’ of an action or development in question. This is the REALITY OF PHYSICS and it is just ONE WAY OF POSING QUESTIONS, where the reader/listener tends to ‘lock-in’ to the trail of investigation and discovery that aims to ‘dis-cover’ the SOURCE of the ACTION OR DEVELOPMENT ‘IN QUESTION’.

The quest of discovering the ultimate EXPLICIT JUMPSTART SOURCE of an event or development is central to the investigations of PHYSICS.  It is like searching for ‘the source of the Nile’.  English is one of those languages that captures relational reality in the abstract terms of name-instantiated ‘things-in-themselves’ and their grammar-imputed ‘actions and developments’.   Such language and grammar delivers an ‘INVENTED REALITY’ that does not arise in relational languages wherein ‘reality’ is purely relational.  ‘Dances with Wolves’ is exemplary of linguistic portrayals of reality that ‘bottom out’ in webs of relations as in the ‘Surprise version of the game of Twenty Questions’.  In this approach, one employs language for articulating a purely relational reality based on IMPLICIT SOURCING.

The reality arising from the QUESTIONS POSED BY PHYSICS assumes the reality of ‘material things-in-themselves’ with the notional powers of ‘sourcing actions and developments’ as in the Agatha Christie thriller.  The reality arising from the QUESTIONS POSED BY PSYCHOLOGY assumes the inherent primacy of RELATIONS over the notional existence of ‘THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES’ WITH THE NOTIONAL (GRAMMAR-GIVEN) POWERS OF SOURCING ACTIONS AND DEVELOPMENTS.  The suggestion of ‘sourcing’ is operative in the ‘reality’ formulations of both PHYSICS and PSYCHOLOGY, however, the SOURCING is EXPLICIT IN PHYSICS AND IMPLICIT IN PSYCHOLOGY,

Agatha Christie’s way of posing questions induced us to follow her in a PHYSICS like quest to discover an EXPLICIT SOURCE.  Victor Hugo’s way of posing questions took our inquiry into a deeper level; i.e. it did not stop with PHYSICS’ EXPLICIT SOURCE as a response to the question ‘who stole the loaf of bread’ (Jean Valjean), … but without even considering such abstraction (based on notional things-in-themselves with notional powers of sourcing actions and developments), but homed in on the deeper level of understanding in terms of relational imbalances; i.e. the IMPLICIT SOURCE.

As Mach has pointed out, even though, in Western culture, people are DIVIDED in their conceptualizing of ‘reality’ in terms of …. ‘nature’ (explicit sourcing) of PHYSICS, or, …. ‘nurture’ (implicit sourcing) of PSYCHOLOGY, there is no need to employ the EITHER/OR logic of the excluded third.  Instead, we can employ the AND/AND logic of the included third which is also referred to as ‘quantum logic’ by Stéphane Lupasco;

“To every phenomenon or element or logical event whatsoever, and accordingly to the judgment which thinks of it, the proposition which expresses it, to the sign which symbolizes it must always be associated, structurally and functionally, a logical antiphenomenon, or anti-element or anti-event and therefore a contradictory judgment, proposition or sign in such a fashion that the former can only be potentialized by the actualization of the latter, but not disappear such that either could be self-sufficient in an independent and therefore rigorous non-contradiction – as in all logic, classical or otherwise, that is based on an absoluteness of the principle of non-contradiction.”

The point half-way between actualization and potentialization is a point of maximum antagonism or ‘contradiction’ from which, in the case of complex phenomena, a T-state (T for “tiers inclus”, included third term) emerges, which is capable of resolving the contradiction (or ‘counter-action‘), at another, higher level of reality. “  – Lupasco, Stéphane., Le principe d’antagonisme et la logique de l’énergie, 1951.

[see also; ‘Stéphane Lupasco et le tiers inclus. De la physique quantique à l’ontologie’, by Basarab Nicolescu]

Thus, in Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’, THE DIVIDED SELF associates with the optional BELIEF in these two different levels of reality, where the IMPLICIT (RELATIONAL) REALITY OF PSYCHOLOGY AND THE EXPLICIT (RATIONAL) REALITY OF PHYSICS seem to be on a collision course.  As Mach points out, the conflict arises by way of posing this question to ourselves, as regards the true nature of the sourcing of actions and developments [whether EXPLICITLY AS IN PHYSICS, or whether IMPLICITLY as in PSYCHOLOGY]. Mach, in ‘The Analysis of Sensation’ points to the false premise underlying both.  The false premises are termed the ‘double error’ by Nietzsche, … (1) the name-instantiating of notional ‘independent beings with (2) the notional powers of sourcing actions and developments’.  These errors are resolved by ‘going beyond language and grammar’ and understanding the dynamics of ‘reality’ in terms of the transforming relational continuum we share inclusion in.





Here’s a ‘simple representation’ of the understanding of ‘reality’ [a representation common to Mach, Bohm, Nietzsche et al] that I have been working on.   It is ‘simple’ to present, but maybe ‘not so simple’ to open oneself up to accepting as ‘a reality’ that is more ‘real’ than our current ‘operative version’ of reality.


Ernst Mach’s ‘Analysis of sensations’ is ‘right on target, in my view, and supports a whole raft of philosophical investigations, such as those by Nietzsche, Bohm, Wittgenstein


Philosophers of ‘physics’ such as Erich Jantsch have a very similar understanding of ‘reality’ as Ernst Mach (as in Mach’s ‘Analysis of Sensations’), and have described ‘reality’ in term of ‘three levels’.  Later philosophers such as Jantsch have an advantage in the means of expressing the same thing as Mach, since Mach’s writings preceded holography (theory in 1948 by Dennis Gabor, demonstration with lasers in mid 1960’s, Nobel prize for Gabor in 1971).  That is, the concept of reality of images being included within an energized space (not as separate entities’ but as flow-features or ‘appearances’ within a transforming relational continuum was not easily conceivable by Western culture adherents who use vision of ‘naming-reified relational forms out there in front of us’ as the basis for our ‘Invented Reality’.


In the year of this writing, 2019, Western culture (as it continues to be ‘popularized’) has still not accepted the ‘holographic’ reality, although modern physics supports it and as physicists such as David Bohm have pointed out, indigenous aboriginal cultures traditionally embrace this ‘inclusional’ view of realty.


Ok, here is my ‘interpretation’ of Mach’s understanding or reality as he shares it in ‘Analysis of Sensations’.  And, don’t forget, the terminology of holography (space as an all-including relational transformation wherein ‘forms’ are NOT ‘things-in-themselves’ but ‘appearances’ within the all-inclusive energy flow) wasn’t popularly available until 1970.


Ok, I would like to highlight that this ‘interpretation’ is Mach’s but it is one which people did not seem to ‘pick up on’ otherwise he would be understood for much more than Mach’s principle, Mach numbers and being Einstein’s mentor.

‘Reality’ or in other words, the dynamic physical realm all things share inclusion in (as in the understanding of Heraclitus et al) is something we model in two very different ways (PHYSICS AND PSYCHOLOGY), which we keep separate; i.e.


PHYSICS: ‘classical physics’, a reality based on ‘material things-in-themselves’ and their actions and interactions.


PSYCHOLOGY: a reality based on relational sensations.


Mach’s understanding of ‘realty’ digs into the ‘interdependence’ of ‘physics’ and ‘psychology’.  Mach makes the key point that this ‘splitting’ does not derive from ‘nature’ but derives from our two different approaches to inquiry;


Both the physicist and the psychologist, therefore, have to work with ‘two worlds’ that are ‘heterogeneous’, the physical and the psychological because of this ‘mutual dependence’ of each one on the other, … but this situation is not inevitable, it is an artefact of the splitting of inquiry into these two realms – Mach

In other words, this split into two separate realities, as in ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ (‘nature’ = world of ‘things-in-themselves’ and what things do [“one rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel”], … and, ‘nurture’ = world of in which we must understand the behaviour of things as deriving from the matrix of relations they are included in [“it takes a whole community to raise a child”].


Western culture is divided on the question of whether we should look at animate forms as if their actions and development is inside-outward asserting (‘nature’) as in PHYSICS, or outside-inward induced (‘nurture’) as in PSYCHOLOGY.


Mach’s point is that this division is merely the result of the manner in which we [Western culture adherents] are posing questions; i.e. if we question a man’s physical development and his actions on the premise of his internal sourcing of actions and developments, we get one impression of him (‘NATURE’ OR ‘PHYSICS’), … and if we question a man’s physical development and actions on the premise of their being induced by influences he is relationally-situationally included in, we get another impression of him (‘NURTURE’ OR ‘PSYCHOLOGY’).




it is an artefact of the splitting of inquiry into these two realms  I.E. the physical and the psychological


In other words;


‘nature’ arises from questions of the form; ‘which apple is the source of all the rot in this barrel of apples’?  [the PHYSICS question].


‘nurture’ arises from questions of the form; ‘what sort of community dynamic is inductively sourcing dissonance in the behaviour of this community member that is uniquely, situationally included within it? [the PSYCHOLOGY question]


The first question implies PHYSICS in terms of ‘things-in-themselves’ and the ‘actions’ of things-in-themselves seen as ‘sourcing’ unfolding actions and developments.


The second question implies PSYCHOLOGY in terms of sensory influence that is the deeper source of ‘physical’ actions and developments




Both the physicist and the psychologist, therefore, have to work with ‘two worlds’ that are ‘heterogeneous’, the physical and the psychological because of this ‘mutual dependence’ of each one on the other, … but this situation is not inevitable, it is an artefact of the splitting of inquiry into these two realms – Mach


It is not hard to see how this situation relates to the ‘holographic’ understanding of reality; i.e. PHYSICS corresponds to the REAL component of complex reality while PSYCHOLOGY corresponds to the IMAGINARY component of complex reality.


‘REALITY’ in a ‘holographic’ understanding, is “complex” as in z = a + i*b.  We can thus understand the relationship between the ‘PHYSICS’ based view of reality and the ‘PSYCHOLOGY’ based view of reality in terms of complex (holographic) reality;




Now, as we know, the ‘nature’ over-‘nurture’ or ‘nurture-over-‘nature’ argument (re the source of action and development) divides Western culture into ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’.  But what is ‘missed’ in both viewpoints is that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘SOURCING’ (there is only relational transformation).


That is, the argument is over whether ‘nature’ prevails over ‘nurture’ or vice versa in SOURCING THE ACTIONS AND DEVELOPMENTS OF NAME-INSTANTIATED THINGS-IN-THEMSELVES is a NULL argument since ‘name-instantiated things-in-themselves’ are artefacts of language and grammar and are not ‘real’ in an experiential (relational) sense.  Since there no ‘things-in-themselves’, there are no ‘things-in-themselves with the powers of sourcing actions and developments.  Such abstractions (the artifact of language and grammar) may be helpful as Wittgenstein ladders’, but to employ them ‘literally’ as in ‘Inventing Reality’ is a recipe for confusion and psychological aberrance.  ‘Things-in-themselves’ and ‘their actions and developments’, are an expedient ‘WIttgenstein ladders’ for developing mental impressions that are purely relational in essence, just like our natural experience;


6.54 My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)

He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.


7.0 Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.


Ok, that’s about it, in a nutshell.  Experience-grounded relational reality is ‘holographic’.



Furthermore, it is not hard to ‘get to’ [by way of experience, before we start ‘talking about it’] since it is our natural way of understanding.  Language has given us, Western culture, the ability to inquire into reality in two different ways (PHYSICS AND PSYCHOLOGY) and Western culture comes up with two different understandings of ‘reality’ on that basis that divides the social collective.


The resolution of this difference can come if one understands that the difference derives from two different ways of posing questions.


Both the physicist and the psychologist, therefore, have to work with ‘two worlds’ that are ‘heterogeneous’, the physical and the psychological because of this ‘mutual dependence’ of each one on the other, … but this situation is not inevitable, it is an artefact of the splitting of inquiry into these two realms – Mach


The reality of our actual relational experience; i.e. the reality of the transforming relational continuum we are all included in, is NOT ‘OUT THERE’, but includes us within it, and while it is experientially knowable in a limited sense, it is not picturable since it is a transforming relational continuum.  We are asking two types of questions in developing an understanding of ‘reality’ and it makes no sense to opt for ‘one or the other’ of these ‘question-dependent-realities’ but it makes sense, instead, to understand ‘reality’ in an overall context, whereby we have to reach for an understanding that composites both of these ‘question-dependent realities’; i.e.




This is essentially what Mach has been saying, but his meaning is being ‘missed’ because Western culture adherents are too busy squabbling over whether ‘nature prevails over nurture’ (conservatives) or whether ‘nurture’ prevails over nature’ (liberals).


Western culture adherents are stuck in this standoff because of a mistaken belief in the ‘reality’ of the ‘existence’ of ‘name-instantiated’ things-in-themselves’ (error 1 – of the ‘double error’ identified by Nietzsche), notionally ‘with the power of sourcing actions and developments’ (error 2 -of the ‘double error’ identified by Nietzsche).


Mach has clarified how these mis-impressions have come about; i.e. by the nature of the questions we formulate and ask.


Ok, indigenous aboriginal culture adherents did not use language-based questioning that led to this synthetic division into ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ since their languages were based in the understanding ‘mitakuye oyasin’ (everything is related).  Thus, they made no such assumptions as have led to the Western culture ‘double error’, …i.e;


Error 1: the ‘existence’ of ‘name-instantiated’ things-in-themselves’ …

Error 2: – ‘with the power of sourcing actions and developments’


As discussed earlier, Western culture is ‘locked in’ to this aberrant ‘Divided Self’ reality’ due to ‘high switching costs’.


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