Belief systems do not have a one-to-one correspondence with reality

Belief systems are never complete in themselves. People that assume their belief systems reflect reality in a coherent manner are delusional. They may be useful tools (e.g., using an architecture to help build a house), but the map is never the same thing as the territory. Reality is too dynamic, multifaceted, holistic, and complex to be confined to human constructs. People who cannot awaken to this fact are lost in fantasy.

This does not mean our belief systems are worthless, but that they shouldn’t be treated as having an existent-in-themselves. Thus, all religions that posit an end are inadequate. It makes assumptions unaccounted for. One must maintain awareness of both the limitations and practicalities of constructed systems. Outside a system that constructs this issue, and thus is led by and produces valuations thereof, nothing else can be said of the matter.

Nuh uh.

I’ve always heard that reality is 99% perception. :smiley:

I agree with the OP, but I’m curious what the impetus was to post this.

That sure is a pretty pile of assertions. Care to back any of them up with evidence or argument?

You can search PubMed for Cognitive Neuroscience articles on the nature of perception, but it is evident we are not experiencing the world directly but rather constructs of it.

For example, in the case of visual representations, light bounces off an object and hits our eyes. Lots of neural activity happens, to amacrine & bipolar (cells which I will not cover), and finally to the retina, then to the optic nerve and to the Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN) of Thalamus. You then have axonal projections from the optic radiations reaching the Brodmann’s Area (BA) 17.

In the case of blindsight one can have impaired vision and no awareness of such vision. Patients “exhibiting blindsight deny having seen a visual stimulus even though their behavior implies that the stimulus was in fact seen” (Ward, 2010, p. 109). One viable hypothesis is that lesions in the optic radiations can prevent axonal projections from reaching the cortical level. So basically, once it reaches BA 17, you have more processing occurring in BA 18 and BA 19, but I do not want to off on a tangent.

The point is, the brain is what constructs the image or what permits for sensations. ‘What’ exactly are these mental representations and how do they causally relate to the brain activity is called “The Hard Problem of Consciousness” and something we will not answer for a long time.


Thank you for your well-thought out input. I am greatly in your debt for the rest of my life.


I’ll think of some ways you can make it up to me before the weekend.

Consider “Reality” and (my word) “Realality”

Reality is that which the mind presents to the consciousness based on current sensory inputs and past experiences.

Realality is that which is, in terms of measurable quantity and quality. That which is even when there is no mind to see it.

The The correlation between Realty and Realality is what we call Sanity.

Hey, some of us just want to enjoy our shadows on the cave wall in peace and quiet without you philosophers trying to tell us there’s more to life.

An end to what? Consciousness?

So, then, no. You would not care to back up your assertions. You would prefer that we do the work for you.


I just spent the rest of the post explaining. I gave the example of visual representations.

Moreover, theories do not directly reference reality, but they have good utility in certain settings.

Do you really believe that?

Ever hear of Plato and his cave? Your insights are not exactly new or earth shattering.

You’re talking about perception and reality (and not using the correct word for either) . We don’t need an additional word.

“One-to-one correspondence” has a specific meaning. How does it apply here?

I don’t see how this backs up your assertions at all. I am quite familiar with blindsight, and the science behind human sight in general, it is directly related to one of the major topics in my PhD studies, computer vision.

Yes, there are a lot of processes in human sight that we don’t understand, and in fact a lot of what we see is our brains filling in with memory, probability, context, and history. So, sure, it is reasonable to say that human sight isn’t an accurate or particularly dependable. These are the sorts of flaws in human sight that optical illusions and magicians/illusionists manipulate. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t take these flaws into account to create a more accurate and more complete mental models of what we’re seeing. For instance, if I know how an particular magic trick is done, one will usually be able to account for it.

Belief systems work in much the same way. We have observations, and we have questions that those observations can’t directly answer. For instance, using the sight as an example, if I look at a car, see that it is blue, then look somewhere else so it is only in my peripheral vision where color vision is much weaker, my brain will remember that it is blue and fill in that information in my mental construction. It’s theoretically possible that it has some kind of color changing properties, like an LED covering and it changes to another color with the same luminosity and thus tricks my brain into thinking it’s still blue when it’s now some shade of green. It seems to me that arguing that that is technically an incomplete construction and could be wrong is a waste of energy.

So I don’t see how generalizing this to say that a believe system that posit an end are inadequate. We have no observations of the future. We certainly have some that give us some good evidence about what will probably happen, but anyone that says anything about something that hasn’t been directly observed has some chance of being wrong. But we can account for this, like with the scientific method, doing repeated experiments and calculating confidence in our results. Even then, with hundreds or thousands of trials, we eventually reach a point where we decide to accept some tiny chance of being incorrect and you’re not going to see scientists getting unusual results and going back and questioning a well accepted theory before questioning something less accepted.

Moreso, not all belief systems need the same level of certainty or have the ability to really have any level of certainty about them. For example, the existence of the soul, it is generally considered to not have any physical manifestation so it is unobservable and thus impossible to prove or disprove with any reasonable level of certainty. But why do we have a need to hold it to the same standard?

It’s just asking that the map closely resemble the territory.

As far as I can tell, this is all about the trivial truth that we, as humans, have blind-spots in our reasoning. We rationalize our decisions; we mis-assess risks and rewards; we suffer from prejudices; we make a lot of mistakes. No belief-system has ever yet been developed that is free from these flaws.

So it goes. We muddle through, apparently, as we have managed to shove together a global civilization, good enough to produce an internet, over which we are happily debating these ideas. Sounds like the map is close enough to the territory. The “consensus” is close enough to “reality.”