The Reality Trap

by Tim Jones12/7/14

Living in a Hermetically Sealed Fishbowl   •  Immanuel Kant’s theory of epistemology in describing the nature of of reality was basically broken down into two areas: first is the realm of the phenomenal and the the other is the realm of the noumenal. He said that the we can only know and understand reality through our five senses, and that which exists beyond our senses and outside of space and time, the noumenal, we can never know or understand.

This is why is why his general thesis that reason cannot explain everything, that it is limited by the human faculties and cannot explain the invisible world, he was making in a backhanded way the case for the existence of God and for faith when many interpreted his philosophy as making the case that we can only know the material or phenomenal world (the “phenomena”) that was incapable of explaining the spiritual or invisible world (the “noumena”). What he really did was to give definition to the reality of the both ‘worlds,’ that there is a reality beyond what we can only know through our senses and our daily experience.

Applying the Kantian outlook on the world today, we can see how it has evolved to the point where individuals live like they’re in a hermetically sealed fishbowl, unable to consider the possibility that there is more to the world and the universe beyond their latest Instagram picture, tweet or Facebook posting. When most of life’s creature comforts are taken care of then taken for granted, especially in the U.S. and western societies, then nothing becomes good enough. What logically follows is protest against the illusion that life is unfair.

Life then becomes one of perpetual rebellion rather than one of material and spiritual sustenance. We’re the fish in the fishbowl, raging against the water that sustains us without realizing that without it we couldn’t live. It is the ultimate in myopia. Because no one can look or consider the possibilities of what exists outside of their own little realities, they’re unable to consider that just maybe there is a bigger, more truthful reality they can’t see but is as real and as meaningful as that which exists in their minds, and it is as important as their material desires.

Consider now that the country is now $18 trillion in debt. What does this one figure have to do with Kant, living in a fishbowl and constant rebellion in the United States today. We’ve created a fishbowl that’s not just where we live but has become a reality trap. The waters we swim in are the result of 50 years of the welfare state, yet our political leaders and their supporters rage against a system they’ve created and benefit from, yet their myopia and political cynicism won’t allow stepping outside of themselves to see that everyone is a participant in the system they’ve created and now protesting against that very system, a fishbowl in which there is no escaping the realm of the material world nor consideration of greater spiritual truths. In other words, the self is rebelling against itself, a catch-22 in which there is no way out.


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3 Responses to The Reality Trap

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Life then becomes one of perpetual rebellion rather than one of material and spiritual sustenance. We’re the fish in the fishbowl, raging against the water that sustains us without realizing that without it we couldn’t live. It is the ultimate in myopia.

    Mr. Kung has a saying: “Culture is Everything.”

    I have a saying: “Yeah…mostly what he said.”

    We live in a world where many believe that ethics and beliefs themselves don’t matter. Science will solve everything…and if not science then free markets along with science. And what science and free markets can’t produce fast enough or targeted enough, socialist government will fill in the gaps.

    In this paradigm (and that is the fishbowl most are swimming in), people walk around with shit-eating grins and no souls. They are, in the words of Dennis Prager, “nice” but not good.

    Mr. Kung also has another saying: “A little suffering is good for the soul.” Okay. Maybe that saying predates him. But it’s still true. And the idea of needing to persevere through hardships is a dying concept. Integrity, character, and morals are out. In is a vapid, superficial, single-dimensional human being who gives me a headache. Literally. I was shopping at a mega-food store the other day and just the sheer presence of so much low-level rudeness left me feeling like an Organian in the presence of Kirk and the Klingons. It just literally hurts to be around the unwashed masses.

    Thus StubbornThings was born. Either that or you read about another “angry white male” whose gone Postal in the outer suburbs of some Blue State.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I recall that a conservative pundit a decade or so ago (I think it was the late Charley Reese, more or less a paleoconservative) opined that if it weren’t for his ability to use his column to express his views, there was no telling what might have happened to him. As a notorious hothead (my temper was considered volcanic half a century ago), I can understand that point. Having a soapbox is one reason I’ve mellowed so much over the past 30 years or so.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I suspect decreasing energy due to age may also have something to do with it.

        A favorite teacher’s father noted, “how we all become more virtuous as we age”, leaving it up to the listener to figure out why.

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