Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 9, No 1 (2013)

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An Incomplete Definition of Reality

Boris DeWiel


A reality may be defined incompletely as a perpetuating pattern of relations. This definition denies the name of reality to an utter and totalistic patternlessness, like a primal patternless stuff, because a patternless all-ness would be indistinguishable from a patternless nothingness. If reality began from a chaos or patternless stuff, it became a reality only when it became patterned. If there are orders of reality with perpetuating relations between them, as in Cartesian interactive substance dualism, the definition allows us to say that these orders belong to a common reality by virtue of those relations. However, the definition is silent on the question of whether reality is ultimately pluralistic. Some suggestions are made about the possibility of stuffless patterns, including those of the physical world, but the definition is not dependent on the possibility of stufflessness.

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