Hello, my question is around the nature of reality. Is it reasonable to say that our only view of reality can be via experience (which I take to mean through the physical senses that I as an individual possess)? If this is true it raises a number of questions: 1. When we have no experience of something should we deny its existence - I have never visited the Taj Mahal so do I as an individual deny its existence? 2. People with more astute senses have a view of reality that is more accurat than someone with less astute senses ? If it is false, then are we saying that reality is formed from our thoughts and ideas BUT could this mean I imagine I have won lottery and behold I have ! Thanks for any insights. David McConville

I certainly do not think that our only view of reality can be via experience by our own physical senses. Human beings are magnificently complicated cognitive beings, capable of using not just our immediate senses, but also memory, interpersonal communication, abstract reasoning, and other processes by which to form beliefs. Of course, some of these are more reliable than others: wishful thinking is highly unreliable; vision is much more reliable. But the use of expert testimony--especially when corroborated by other kinds of evidence (as for example, regarding the Taj Mahal, where you can also find photographs of it, accounts of it in narratives, etc.) can also be highly reliable--otherwise, most of us wouldn't read newspapers, right?

So, I think my answer to your (1) should be clear--I think you can have very reasonable beliefs about the existence of the Taj Mahal even though you have never actually visited it. Indeed, some of those very reasonable beliefs might lead you to decide to visit the place someday. Such a decision could hardly be reasonable, indeed, if not having already been there left you with no good reason to suppose it actually existed!

As for your (2), as my own sight and hearing have started to fade from my younger days...I'm afraid I have to agree that, on some issues and lacking any other evidence, those with sharper senses are going to have more accurate views of reality than I can have. That's one of many reasons why the other sorts of evidence are useful!

As for your final comment, as I said, wishful thinking has proven to be a highly unreliable way to generate true beliefs. On the other hand, if it works for you in the way you suggest, my college always accepts donations!

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