Reality Essay, Research Paper
Reality is . . . something that is neither derivative nor dependent, but exists necessarily, as stated in Webster s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. What this means is that reality does not exist because of something; there is nothing existing because of it; yet, still it exists throughout everything. The way that this is possible is because reality exists solely in the mind. By saying that, it implies since everyone has an individualized mind, reality can differ from person to person. In essence, reality is exclusively what we perceive. Primarily, it is these shared perceptions of individuals that form a society. Although people in society share common perceptions, there are always exceptions to the rule. One must ask, can something that someone distinguishes as real be a complete fabrication to someone else?
There are two short written works and a movie that really force one to contemplate about what reality is, and how it can possibly be interpreted in more than one way. As the works unfold, questions begin to arise. Is it really beneficial to know the truth or remain ignorant? Should a person be able to unlock another s door and release them out of their darkness, into the light, even if they don t want to see it? Yet, still there is the question, is there a true Reality? These are the questions that need to be answered so the whole picture can be understood, the picture of why things are the way they are.
In the movie Awakenings, Leonard was a normal kid with a normal life. He perceived things the way everyone else did. He had friends that were much like he was, as most of us do. People tend to be closer with others that are much like they are, people that see or perceive things the way that they do. When a group of people with the same perceptions live in a certain area they form a society. This society, as with all, maintains a norm throughout it. Leonard fit this standard most of his childhood until he was overcome by the darkness.
When Leonard s perception began to change, so did his whole social life. He didn t fit in with anyone. Then, when the darkness fell upon Leonard, his perception was not within the norm of society. That caused him to be pushed aside by almost everyone until he was put someplace where he fit in, a mental institution. When Leonard finally saw the light, he was once again allowed to perceive things the same way as others . . . fitting in with the rest of society.
Unlike Leonard, the prisoner in Allegory of the Cave, grew up in the dark and then he was let into the light. The prisoner s perception of reality was the same as the other captives. He fit in the standard that was within the cave. After being brought out into the light and realizing that his whole idea of reality in the cave was fabricated, he was then pushed out of the societal norm of the cave. The prisoner s new perception of reality now didn t fit with the others. His reality matched those who were living in the light, outside of the cave. He was then forced back into the cave, always to know the truth; there is something else out there . . . something much greater than he could have ever imagined.
Can society accept only a certain type of person? It is true that people, in general, limit whom they associate themselves with. There is a range in which this acceptance occurs. It is directly correlated with the societal norm or standard. In the story Flowers for Algernon, Charlie was unable to conform himself to this standard. He was an ignoramus his whole life, always trying to fit in. People frowned on him because of his ignorance. He felt as though by increasing his intelligence, he would reach the threshold of this norm and be accepted.
When Leonard finally thought he had found something to help him fit in, all it did was send him beyond the other end of this norm. Once again he was unaccepted by society. Charlie had bounced between two realities, as did Leonard and the prisoner. He was never being able to see what it was like to perceive something the same way as others did. Neither reality that he existed in matched with the rest of the society. He was never able to fit in.
Societies limit their openness only to certain people. People, as a whole, tend to push away others who seem strange or different. We don t seem to connect with them. The reason is because mankind forms walls at the edge of the norm, only allowing people that share the same perceptions to pass through.
Everyone perceives things differently. We find others with similar views to exist with and form our own societies though. That is what makes up social classes, people with similar beliefs. Such as the smart tend to associate themselves mainly with the smart, and the dumb with the dumb. Beliefs and perceptions are what keep societies together.
Most people assume that their reality is the truth. But just in three sited examples, there were many different realities. All over the world people see things differently, many not even realizing it. There is not one true reality out there. The world is made up of many different perceptions. In fact, every person has a different reality; they believe one thing that is contradictory to someone else s perception. The actor playing the director in The Truman Show, said it best, We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. This has never been so true.
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