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That Damned Table

November 24, 2012



     You know the one.  That piece of furniture that so often turns up in philosophical discussions about how real reality really is.  We see a table, but does it actually exist as an entity outside of our own imagination?  Is it a real independent object made of wood, nails and glue or is it just another aspect of this dream we’re having.  I suppose a quantum physicist would call it a collection of waves of energy doing their table routine.

     Of course, dreamed or not, we are left with that table squatting there and real as far as we can tell.  If we run into it we will suffer an injury.  Perhaps just pain, maybe a bruise or even a laceration.  If you’re really traveling you could break a bone and these injuries, improperly treated, could go septic and kill you.  If there really is death, or life or anything else.  

     Should we worry about all of this?  Does the true reality of the table concern us?  Yes and no.  There are some who cannot avoid thinking about this sort of thing.  It’s there in the way if you’re trying to figure out the truth of reality, a drive that can’t be ignored by the inflicted.

     On the other hand we must deal with the reality we perceive, that, imaginary or not, affects our personal dream with sensations of pain and joy.  As far as we can tell the table will hold our coffee cup and newspaper and creates an obstacle in the room.  Call this the perceived reality and this is the one in which we live and feel, suffer and enjoy.  Studying the essence of this table is, I think, a vital human endeavor on the road to knowing, but, for the moment in this perception of the world, we still have to step around the table.


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