What is reality?

I consider reality to be like an entelechy, partly in potential and partly actualised.

I have read several blogs today asking the age old question: what is reality?

A common idea amongst some East and West philosophies is to reject the sensory world as illusion in favour of an invisible world.  The Matrix films played on the idea of two realities, one illusion and one real.  In the film Matrix the planet was in “reality” a desolate wasteland, and the illusion people existed in was a machine constructed fiction.  The “reality” in the Matrix could be revealed by means of swallowing a red pill.

The Matrix borrows its ideas from the philosophies of Plato, one who similarly held the view that the sensory world was illusion, a shadow of a world of Plato’s Theory of Forms.  Plato constructed his theories on the nature of reality as a response to the Eleatic school of Parmenides and Zeno, who considered reality was an unchanging whole, the sensory world an illusion.  The equivalent of the Matrix “red pill” for Plato was approaching the Forms through reason rather than the senses.

In my opinion Plato is wrong, for if a Form is beyond testing or sensory awareness, how can I be sure these are mere fantasies of Plato? If a bus ran over me, the messy fatal reality of my situation in the world of the senses is self evident.

Aristotle, student of Plato, also had issues against the Theory of Forms of Plato.  Aristotle introduced the idea of entelechy, where through the internal motion in an object it moves from invisible potentiality into being as an actuality visible to the senses, but exists in a paradox of being complete, yet working to completion.

Building on the work of Aristotle I consider reality to be a type of entelechy.  My life depends upon the beat of my heart, should my heart stop beating I die.  In a given moment I exist between a number of states of reality: I hope that my heart will beat again in the next moment, but since this is yet to happen, that moment is in potentiality, it is not real.  In similar fashion, once my heart beats again, this moment passes into the past as a memory, a fully actualised moment of potentiality, it is no longer real.  I am stuck in a constant moment of change between a heart that is about to beat, and has beaten, an entelechy.

The world of entelechy is an interesting world, since it only exists in the moment between the invisible potential, and actualised memory.  The entelechy is a dynamic middle state of paradox that is both real and unreal, complete and working to completion, where the future state, the past state and both future and past state run together in a given moment of reality.


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