How is the reality of feelings, beliefs and values different from the reality of things we can see and touch?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think the best way to discriminate the difference between feelings, values, and beliefs from things which we can see and touch is by identifying them as concrete and abstract "things."

Given that it is harder to argue about the reality of an object which one can touch, people tend to readily agree what something is when they can see it and manipulate it. The reality of what the object is can be based upon definitive descriptions of the object itself and how it has been defined throughout time.

On the other hand, it is very easy for people to argue about things which they cannot see (feelings, beliefs, and values). These abstract ideas are ones which are not as definitively defined. Instead, the reality of these abstract concepts are defined in different ways for most people. Given that one may not agree with another person about what love is, it would be very hard (if not impossible) to define love for everyone. Therefore, when people disagree with the definition provided by another regarding an abstract concept, it fails to be a reality for them.

Therefore, given that people cannot universally agree on the definitions of feelings, beliefs and values, the reality of each fails to exist as a universal idea (cannot be seen as a reality for all).

wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It’s valuable to remember Donald Hall’s admonition:  “The definition of a word is another word.”  The term “reality” implies measurability, sharing of space, part of the physical world, objective.  This is not to negate the other parts of the world – emotional responses, abstractions, “feelings,” – the so-called subjective responses of cogent beings; it simply means that somewhere humanity has divided “experience” into two kinds.  (No taxonomies are innocent.)  Eastern philosophies put much less importance on “maya,” the illusion that things are real.  When we use the word “reality,” we are asking our listener to divide the world, somewhat arbitrarily, it turns out.  For example, a table “appears” to be in “reality,” but even a physicist will tell you that it is vibrating, full of space between atoms, etc., and only seems to be solid.  Conversely, a cynic would say that mother-love is not “reality,” but would have trouble defending the difference.  The short answer, then, is “semantics”; so-called “reality” is an accidental and arbitrary division invented by Western cultures to satisfy someone’s need for the stability of a concrete world.