Reality: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback Book
1 out of 5 (1 rating)


'What is real?' has been one of the key questions of philosophy since its beginning in antiquity.

It is a question that, due to such films as The Matrix, has also made its way into popular culture.

But it is not just a question philosophers ask. It is also asked by scientists when they investigate whether the fundamental constituents of matter are actually 'out there' or just a mere abstraction from a successful theory.

Cognitive scientists ask it when trying to find out which set of the bewildering array of data processed by our brain could constitute the basis for such supposedly fundamental entities like the free agent or the self.

This Very Short Introduction discusses what reality is by looking at a variety of arguments, theories and thought-experiments from philosophy, physics, and cognitive science.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area.

These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 136 pages, 15 black and white illustrations
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Philosophy: metaphysics & ontology
  • ISBN: 9780199594412



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(NOTE: I read the Kindle version of this book.)There are as many theories of reality as there are philosophers. That much said, one would expect from an introductory text an attempt to summarize the primary concerns and approaches to dealing with reality on which philosophers have focused. Instead, <B>Westerhoff</B> discusses some rather obtuse, esoteric mumbo-jumbo that serves, in large part, to show only that he has very little understanding of the subject himself. Of course, it is up to each individual author to decide how to approach their subject, but an introductory text ought to be accessible to even non-specialists, and particularly ought to avoid issues the relevance of which is highly controversial. And, to boot, the author had better be right, and fully understand the examples and material presented.<B>Westerhoff</B> attempts to show the issues surrounding reality claims about the external world, the self, and time, but is never completely clear as to just <B><I>why</B></I> philosophers find such issues problematic. Very little is mentioned by way of the classical treatments of the subject from which the contemporary discussions are derived. The most essential aspects of the problem of reality are fairly much ignored. This is a very disappointing treatment of a most fascinating area of philosophy. <B>Westerhoff</B> does not do justice to the scholarship that has characterized discussions of reality.