Understanding reality is analogous to visual focus.  Greater understanding corresponds to sharper focus.  Sharper focus means more distinctions are visible.  It also means false distinctions are exposed as false, and irrelevant distinctions are exposed as irrelevant, and false is kept distinct from irrelevant.
But understanding reality costs time and other resources.  Most people only want to understand enough reality to get to a satisfactory level of happiness.  After that, they have no motivation to go for more.  And indeed, why strive to understand reality if not to make you happy?  Some people figure that even if they are sufficiently happy now, it may not last unless they have sufficient understanding of reality to keep it going.  So the question is…

Do you want to understand reality better?

Yes         No



Congratulations on your contentment.  May you never have any reason to question your present level of understanding (unless you’re ethically challenged).  Not wanting to bore you any further, may I suggest a website more likely to your taste?


You have already figured out that objective reality exists, but you may not be sure if any of it is knowable.

Do you think that at least some reality is knowable?

Yes       No      back


Hey!  Even if you're dreaming, or even if you're the figment of someone else's dreaming, someone real is dreaming.  And even if you exist only in someone else's dream, you still exist there. Come back when you at least know you exist.



You must have figured out by now that you know you exist.

Do you also know that you think, emote, perceive, and will?

Yes       No      back


How can you possibly think something, feel an emotion, perceive something, or will to do something and not know it?

My subconscious might perceive something without my knowing it.

Oh.  Right.  But when your conscious mind perceives something, then you necessarily know you perceive it.



Good.  So far, you're sane.

Do you also know that statements which correspond to reality are called true statements, and that the truth or falsity of some statements can be known?

Yes       No      back


I said SOME statements, dude!  You can't say you don't know any statement is true, because you know you exist, and that's a statement.  Come on!



Good again.  This may seem elementary, but some people actually can't get this far.

Of all the statements which you know to be true, what test is reliable for knowing all of them?

authority       experience
perception       reason
none of above      back


Apparently there are very few statements which you know to be true, because you know nothing that your authority didn't tell you.  Or more likely you just didn't understand the question.



Experience is reliable enough for those things testable by it, (unless you want to do all that David Hume stuff).  But do you know 2 + 2 = 4 because you experienced 2 apples and 2 more apples being 4 apples?  A bit backwards, huh?



Come on!  Any competent stage magician can fool your perception - or what you think you perceive - which may not be what you're actually perceiving.  So even if you're absolutely certain that you're perceiving a particular sensation, the cause of that sensation may not be what you think it is.



Even this is wrong.  There are some statements which you know to be true prior to reason.  e.g. You knew you existed prior to your ability to reason out how you knew you existed.



Right.  No single criterion is reliable to test all the statements which you know to be true.  So let’s rephrase the question.

Of all true statements which are knowably true, what test is usually most reliable for knowing at least the most important ones?

authority       experience
reason      back


You have either been beaten into submission, frightened into submission, or you've bought one hell of a sales pitch.  Well... okay, let's say your authority is God.

How do you know what God tells you?  Another authority?  If so, what?

a person or set of persons
a book or set of books
a voice in your head
some kind of spiritual thing
some combination of the above

Or if something else, then go back.


Then why are you even reading this?  If you trust somebody to speak for God, go do what they tell you.  Surely they will not approve of your reading this, which is telling you that either your authority is a liar, or you're so dense that you actually need a spiritual dictator.

On the other hand, if you're reconsidering your authority, go back.


Most likely you have well rehearsed reasons for having chosen whatever book(s) you've chosen, so I won't even go there.  My question is:

Do you interpret your book(s)(i.e. Scriptures) rationally?  If you do, then reason is your ultimate authority. Go back and choose reason.

If you interpret them by some other authority, what?

a person or set of persons
by themselves
by anything else
I don't interpret them; I just believe them.


You are either a prophet or you're crazy.  Test the voice and see if it's consistently right.  If it is, do what it says.  If it's not, get help.  If you want to figure out an alternative, go back.


If it works for you, go girl.  If it doesn't, admit it.  This is often hard for you spiritual types.  Are you trying to understand reality, or manufacture it?  If you are trying to create a comfort zone, you will get no help here.  If you are trying to figure out objective reality, go back.


Most God believers fall into this category.  It's not a bad place to be; it's just nebulous.  And it's an intellectual dead end.  To learn stuff, you have to test things - explore categories.  And you can't do that when it's all mixed together.  So if you want to understand reality better, back up and explore some paths.


Okay. Scripture is difficult.  We all have to start by listening to other people tell us what it means.  If you still need that, then by all means stick with it.  But try to listen to a variety of different authorities, or you're a candidate for Jonestown.  Does not your own Scripture tell you that many past religious authorities have been wrong?  Even if your authority is the pope or the imam, they may be flat out wrong.  So either go test them, or go back.


Okay.  Your scripture says it's reliable, therefore it is.  If scripture tells you to test all things, it means test them by Scripture.  Reason might be reliable if Scripture says it is, but scripture tells you not to lean to your own understanding.  Therefore reason is not reliable.  Or is it just your understanding that's not reliable?  If your understanding is not reliable, go back and fix it.

If reason itself is not reliable, how do you even know what Scripture is telling you?

Because it's inspired by God.


How do you know it's inspired by God?

Because it says so.


How do you know it's telling the truth?

Because it's inspired by God.


Go creative if you like, but if Scripture is your authority, then whatever you interpret Scripture by is your ultimate authority.




Kid, you really don't belong on this site.

How about something more spiritually uplifting?



This answer may be true for children.  They know when they are hungry, therefore they make the noises likely to get them food.  And they know from experience what those noises are.  But the actions required to get you what you want soon become complex, and need to be ordered.  And that requires something other than experience.



Finally we can talk.  First to define the term... Don't even bother with dictionaries.  They just rake a bunch of popular usages together.  Reason (or rationality) is a mental faculty which makes you able and willing to identify those statements which accurately describe reality in general or parts of reality in particular.

For the sake of exercise, which of the concepts below are parts or subsets of reason?

logic      probability judgment
intelligence      knowledge
all of above      back.

After you're done, go here.


Correct.  Logic is the most essential part or subset of reason.

But which is it?

part       subset      back


Right.  Often no distinction is made between part & subset.  When a distinction is made, here's how it goes.  Parts are parts; subsets are types.
e.g.  Engines, tires, & transmissions are parts of cars.
Fords, Chevys, & Hondas are subsets of cars.  Each one is a complete car.
Logic is part of reason because it takes more than logic to be rational, and logic is not a type of reason.



Wrong.  Often no distinction is made between part & subset.  When a distinction is made, here's how it goes.  Parts are parts; subsets are types.
e.g.  Engines, tires, & transmissions are parts of cars.
Fords, Chevys, & Hondas are subsets of cars.  Each one is a complete car.
Logic is part of reason because it takes more than logic to be rational, and logic is not a type of reason.



Correct.  Even when you don't have sufficient statistics to compute exact odds, you must make probability judgments often based on nothing more than vague recollections of past events.  Inability to do this diminishes your rationality.
e.g.  If you can't drive through a neighborhood and judge how safe it is to live there, you're not very rational.



Wrong.  Though a certain degree of intelligence is necessary to be rational, the concepts are only vaguely related.  Rationality includes not only the ability to comprehend logic & probability, but also the willingness to accept it.  An unintelligent person who admits the obvious is being more rational than an intelligent person who denies the obvious.



Wrong.  Knowledge is the data on your hard drive.  Reason is your ability & willingness to process it.



WRONG!  Thought you found a pattern, didn't you?



This may sound like a dumb question, but...

Do you know that logic is reliable for determining the truth or falsity of some statements?

Yes       No      back


Thank you.  Some people actually don't know that.

Do you have a working knowledge of logic?

Yes       No      back


How did you ever get this far?  Not only on this page, but how did you even learn to operate a computer?
Never mind.
Here's a back button for those of you who got here out of curiosity.



Logic is Reality 1a.
You are now ready to proceed to Reality 1b:



Learning logic has to be your next step. Here are some links.  I haven't checked them all out, but it's at least a start.