What is Real?


We see the world and  we are convinced that what we see is Real. We think and we believe that our thoughts can capture reality. We are in love and we feel our love is real. We pray and we believe our faith is real. We meditate and we take our mental state for reality.

For some people reality is the perception of the outside world, for others the sensations coming from their own body. Some people take their ideas or their feelings for reality and for fervent religious believers the only reality is the „presence” of the spiritual world.

Throughout history there were many attempts of defining the real by reducing it to one fundamental aspect. Few examples:

-The Real is God (monotheist religions).

-The Real inside (Atman) and the Real outside (Brahman) are the same. (Upanishads).

-The Real is the unnamed, eternal Dao (Lao Zi).

-The Real is love (St Paul, Tagore).

-The Real is Brahman (Sankara).

-The Real is water (Thales).

-The Real is fire (Heraclit).

-The Real is air (Anaximene).

- The Real is the combination of dry and humid, earth and water (Xenophan)

-The Real is what does not change (Parmenide).

-The Real is what changes (Heraclit).

- The Real is the mind (Anaxagoras, then the Yogacara school of buddhism.).

-The Real is apeiron, the infinity (Anaximander).

-The Real is the world of ideas (Platon).

-The Real is hilomorphic, a combination of mater and form (Aristotel).

-The Real is grammatical (Bhartrhari).

-The Real is what you perceive (Berkeley).

-The phenomenal world is an illusion. The reality of things in themselves, of the noumen is transcendental (Kant).

-The Real is rational. Ration is real (Hegel).

-The real is mathematical (Kroneker). Ultimate Reality is a mathematical structure (Max Tegmark).

-The Real is nothing. Nothing is Real (Nagarjuna).

After all these definitions, if it could talk, The Real, would probably say like Rimabud: Je est un autre!

real  à Real  à reality. Reality as a notion appears by extending the idea of real to the whole world. We postulate all the manifestations of the universe as being real. We name this group of manifestations the real or reality. Evidently, this is a supposition and not a demonstration. We generalize the interpretation of isolated experiences without realizing that it is an act of faith to believe that all that exists is automatically real. The adjective real becomes the noun real and we are thrilled to notice that the real does not have a plural. Luckily for us, we have a closed word, reality, which has a plural and we immediately suppose that reality too, is as real as the real. But this real hidden in reality has lost all hidden meaning. When we talk casually about reality, we don`t make any reference to its quality of being or not real. In day to day language, the word reality is an overused coin without any metaphysical connotations. Reality is the medium in which we wake up every morning without questioning what is to be real.

What is Real? How we define Reality? What is the most direct way to access it: philosophy, science, religion, visual art, mysticism, literature, day to day life? How do we connect to it?

The current issue of Respiro attacks these questions from different angles. The approach is multidisciplinary and in our investigations we included different materials: poems, short stories, philosophical essays, interviews with visual artists and filmmakers, short movies, photos, etc.

Please send us your impressions after finding out/defining what is Real for you at editor@respiro.org!