2015 Reading: Reality: A Very Short Introduction by Jan Westerhoff

RealityReality: A Very Short Introduction by Jan Westerhoff

At least the book’s title isn’t “Reality for Dummies.” I frequently dig into books on philosophical questions–comes from being a philosophy major in college, maybe–but this one I read because I’m working on a novel that deals with theories of knowledge, and getting a handle on reality is part of that larger topic.

The chapters of this short book give a sense of what it covers: “Dreams and simulations”; “Is matter real?”; “Are persons real?”; “Is time real?”; and “Concluding remarks.” These questions about the reality of matter, persons, and time aren’t really answered, but various theories that do offer answers are presented.

The concluding chapter offers an extremely helpful summary of the range of positions the various theories take, from universalism, to solipsism, to anti-solipsism, to selective realism, to something the author calls irrealism (which would say that nothing is real).

For anyone who wants to dig deeply into the subject, this might be a good place to start. It was just right for my purposes, I think, and helps shape one of the themes of my novel.

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