Philip K. Dick was (mostly) wrong. With one hundred percent more gratuitous English!

Philip K. Dick once stated, in his “How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” speech in 1978, that: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” I beg to differ, at least partially. I’m going to try and demonstrate, with some examples taken from your everyday life, that there are multiple realities inside us, that they are mutually exclusive, yet they influence each-other.

Let’s start with the simplest of things: madmen! Some of them hallucinate, and believe their hallucinations to be real, and by no means they can be made to stop believing that. And what is this if not a supreme act of creation? Does it matter if the monster is visible only to one person? For that person it will be real, and he could spend all his life keeping it alive by sheer willpower. Reality for him will be different, and he will carry on according to reality as he perceives it, thus rendering every other reality null. He could stop believing, and the monster would go away, but the scars left by its claws would remain. Thus collective reality is influenced by individual realities.

You want more? Think about wars! In war, we have enemies killing each-other, based on enmity between them. They believe in their enmity and act accordingly. If one of them stopped believing the other an enemy, it would immediately stop being an enemy, yet nobody could say their past enmity wasn’t real. Think of the Christmas truce of 1914. Thus we can safely say reality is not only a matter of how we perceive something, but also a matter of when we perceive something: what is real now can be unreal later, and vice versa.

Last example, then you can go to bed. Lawmen. Judges, advocates, even simple laypersons can shape reality everyday, using only their mind. Think of a judge passing judgement on someone: reality will change for a man, depending on it. The same will happen to two men drafting a contract: their reality will invariably change, for better or worse. Thus we see how reality, the kind of reality that doesn’t go away if we stop believing it, is sometimes formed by a simple act of will.

I hope my mad ravings didn’t confuse you, not at least as much as they confused me. To conclude I’d like to furthermore point out how there’s no objective reality whatsoever, or that if there indeed is one, there’s no way for us to know. We can easily enough find that there’s at least a subjective reality for every single human being, and that the sum of every coincidence between subjective realities equals to a collective reality that most people can agree on, at least pertaining to such coincidences, but given our flawed position, one that is at the same time of observer and agent, there’s no way to asses the presence of an objective reality underlying our collective and subjective realities.

Where does this leave us? I don’t know. More likely, I don’t want to know. Goodnight folks!