Imagination’s role in all of this

The question: Is “reality” is limited to “all things that are actual” or does it include “all things that are possible”?

As in a previous fine entry on the topic, full of pith and wit, I choose the more inclusive definition.

If all possible futures were not part of the fabric of reality, imagination itself would not be possible.

It is, so they are.

An analogy: Microorganisms in the human body outnumber human cells 10-to-1; without those microorganisms, the human body’s ecosystem would collapse, or more accurately, would never have existed. It may be the same with possibilities folded into the world of actuality.

Here’s an article that looks at the topic from the point of view of quantum physics:

Quantum mysteries dissolve if possibilities are realities

Thanks to Wayne.



14 thoughts on “Imagination’s role in all of this

  1. What exists that isn’t real? Even unicorns exist as thought-forms. And the human sensory system understands nothing as it exists in actuality — nothing as the thing in itself. I don’t think ‘reality’ is a very helpful word. 🙂

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    • If everyone defined reality as you and I do, I’d agree that “reality” would be an unhelpful word here. But many hard-nosed materialist friends of mine would exclude the phantasms of imagination from “reality”; thus, in this context, I think it marks a point of dispute that might push the dialectic forward. So if you’ll grant me “locally helpful,” I’ll grant you “globally unhelpful.” Then, like Hume after pulling away our entire ground of knowledge, we can smugly, you and I, go off to the pub for a pint and a game of backgammon.

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  2. After reading the article I don’t think it resolves the spooky action at a distance. They still have the “res potentia” making an instantaneous communication about new possibilities when a change occurs between two entangled particles. Also the idea of having all these possibilities actually being real reminds me of the many worlds interpretation. One way around that, and the Copenhagen collapse of the wave function, is to assume these quantum realities are agents. They make choices and hence they are conscious enough to do so. This would support panpsychism. Generally what I see most of the quantum interpretations I have heard of attempt to do is *not* have quantum realities making choices of any sort even though it looks like that is what they are doing when we make a measurement.

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    • Thanks for those fine comments on the physics side, Frank. The article for me was just a trigger to ponder the role of imagination (and its subject matter, unactualized possibilities) in the fabric or reality. I guess I’m thinking more like a poet reacting to his materialist scientist friends and less like a true metaphysician 🙂

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  3. Even if one considers that there is an absolute reality, coming from a monotheistic sense with a Supreme Being in control of the entire reality, it would still account for possibilities; because that Deity would know and be able to control every possible outcome of willful creative choice. So from the standpoint of a Primary Creator, things that in our limited perspective seem only “possible” are just as actual as that which we perceive as real. I think this view is supported in Plato’s Theory of the Forms (correct me if I’m wrong), as well as in some of the Pauline epistles.

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  4. I was a philosophy major for a while, and it’s something I picked up somewhere along the line. By the way, if you get a chance to look at my home page, I adjusted the text of “The Story” to include a more accurate plot line. The first one was written before I’d actually finished the play, and things changed in the process of writing. It *might* change the nature of your comment, so I though it best I let you know.

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    • “Eden in Babylon” sounds great, A.P. – interesting story for world it creates and timely message for the world it addresses (that’s us). It may be because of my “Hippies” novel, which does some of the same visionary work, but my bias is to see it in part as a bridge from the’67 Haight to something new. And desperately needed. I agree with you that there has never been “more division in America than I see today. Whatever happened to the koans of morale? … ‘United we stand; divided we fall.’” That slogan is now anathema to both Trump conservatives and identity politics liberals. The moral ground has been ceded by all parties. Maybe with “Eden in Babylon” and “Hippies,” we can start a movement in the arts – outside of the political spectrum, left and right – and save the day 😊 It’s a nice dream anyway.

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  5. Absolutely in accord, Gary. The Left-Right chasm appears to have been consumed in a much more critical rift having to do with socio-economic class. Also, historically, the Arts have thrived at times of political turmoil. I suspect you and I are not alone in this vision, but we might as well network the movement while the iron we strike is hot. The national morale has sunken to such a new low, I actually encounter intelligent people these days who don’t even know what the word “morale” means. And as far as dreams are concerned, this nation was founded on one. What have we got to lose? Nothing, as near as I can tell. And we might just gain our country back.

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