Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The term Consensus reality has two usages. To those who adhere to the materialist philosophy, it references the overall space-time reality believed to exist irrespective of anyone's perceptions. For those who don't adhere to the materialist philosophy, it refers to the predominent agreed-upon version of reality.
Some idealists hold the view that there isn't one particular way things are, but rather that each person's personal reality is unique. Such idealists have the worldview which says that we each create our own reality, and while most people may be in general agreement (consensus) about what reality is like, they live in a different (or nonconsensus) reality.
Materialists, however, may not accept the idea of there being different possible realities for different people, so for them only the first usage of the term consensus reality would make sense. To them, someone believing otherwise might be considered delusional.
Consensus reality may be understood by studying socially constructed reality, an obscure subject within the sociology of knowledge. (Read page three of The Social Construction of Reality by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann.)
Consider this example: reality is different for people who believe in God than for those who believe that science and mathematics are sufficient for explaining life, the universe and everything. In societies where God-centered religions are dominant, that understanding would be the consensus reality, while the religious worldview would remain the nonconsensus (or alternative) reality in a predominently secular society where the consensus reality is grounded in science.
Functions of consensus reality
The connotation of the term "consensus reality" is, with few exceptions, disparaging: it is usually employed by idealist, surrealist and other anti-realist theorists with the implication that this consensus reality is, to a greater or lesser extent, created by those who experience it. (The phrase "consensus reality" may be used more loosely to refer to any generally accepted set of beliefs.)
The theory of reality enforcement holds that belief in consensus reality (the "reality" of "reality enforcement" is used in this sense) -- on which the apparent persistence of consensus reality's existence may depend -- is "enforced" or promoted through various means including sanctions applied against those who challenge it.
The theory of reality enforcement is opposed by those called "reality enforcers." (It should be noted Alan C. Walter uses the phrase "reality enforcers" in a highly idiosyncratic way having nothing to do with the theory of reality enforcement.) These "reality enforcers" appeal to an objectivist theory of reality, rejecting multiple subjective realities which could diverge considerably; this makes nonsensical the theory of "reality enforcement".
Believers in reality enforcement are typically sympathetic to anti-psychiatry and would describe involuntary commitment as often being a form of reality enforcement (as in the course of treatment the patient may be encouraged to abandon beliefs the psychiatrist considers to be delusions and thus to have his beliefs come into line with consenus reality). Mental health codes in some United States states even specify that a diminished "capacity to recognize reality" is part of the standard for mental illness, something to which believers in the theory of reality enforcement would obviously object.
"Reality enforcement" is also used in a more general sense to mean an (often violent or forceful) ending of a "fantasy" in the person, persons or group on whom it is enacted. Thus it was used as a term by David Pryce-Jones to describe the actions of American troops who captured Saddam Hussein and thus caused his "fantasy" of greatness to collapse after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Consensus reality and reality enforcement in fiction and literature
- Various dystopian novels, such as Nineteen Eighty-Four, feature a highly controlled consensus reality.
- The works of Philip K. Dick often involve shifts in or deviations from consensus reality
- The works of Robert Anton Wilson usually discuss consensus reality
- The film The Matrix shows something similar to reality enforcement; Agent Smith could be called a "reality enforcer."
- Reality Enforcement Commission is a comic by Neilson Nguyen, with artwork by Nora Summers.
- The Mage: The Ascension RPG takes place in a cosmology where, in modern times, mages must work against the consensus reality which dictates that magic cannot work and must cope with the results of the paradox which results if they do. They must contend with the sinister reality enforcers known as the Technocracy.
- Nancy Kress's short story The Flowers of Aulit Prison and the related Probability Space series deal with a species in which the consensus reality is propagated and enforced biologically.
- Karl Schroeder's novel Lady of Mazes posits a society with technologically-enforced separate realities; the protagonist can switch between them, and rebuilds a shared consensus reality.
- Norman O. Brown's book, Love's Body dicusses reality enforcement
- "Goth's Dinner"
- Rewriting Reality - How worldviews are created
- "Playfully Perverting Consensus Reality: A Critical Chronology of Paul Di Filippo's Fiction" By Claude Lalumière
- Free -- Magic of Agreeing
- "UFO Abduction Phenomenon's Challenge to Consensus Reality" by John E. Mack, M.D.
Consensus Reality is a record label.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details