Intro to Philosophy
The purpose of this essay is to address the problem of the ontological status of the material world and review a number of possible solutions. The term “ontological” generally refers to the idea of reality or existence. All things have an ontological status. Even if we say something does not exist, we would still say that thing has the ontological status of non-being. Even things we are prepared to say are real in our eyes are often real in different ways. For example, dreams are real in a different way than rocks. Therefore, we would say they have a different ontological status. In order to understand the problem it is important to understand the difference between ontological “dependence” and ontological “independence”.
For something to be ontologically independent you must be able to say it would still exist without anything else. And if something is said to be ontologically dependent, this means the only way it can exist is though something else. For example, we can say that the only way a sound can be in existence is by actually hearing the sound. This is the only way the sound can exists. Without it being heard, there would be no sound at all. It would not make sense to say there was an unheard-sound. There are some people that claim to be the only thing that exist, and only through a secondary sense perception of theirs does anything else exist. This view is called solipsism. And although this view seems unorthodox to most it is very hard to argue against. How can you argue with someone who believes that the only reason you are even in existence is because they perceive you because once you walk away from them were they no longer can use any sense perception to detect your existence how can they be sure you really do exist?
Another view is that of the common sense realist which say that everything the encounter is exactly how they perceive it. These people think that...
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