The science of relations, and reality

One of Charlotte Mason’s key ideas was that education is the science of relations.

In Mortimer J. Adler’s book Ten Philosophical Mistakes, the first chapter discusses whether there is actually objective reality. Can I truly know that anything that happens outside of my own mind is real; that it has a separate, independent existence and isn’t just something my imagination has constructed?

This caught my eye towards the end of the chapter:

“When we correct the initial error that generates all these results, we find ourselves living together in the world of physical reality, a world with which we have direct acquaintance in our perceptual experiences. We not only have bodily contact with one another in this world; we also communicate with one another about it when we discuss perceptual objects we can handle together…[as well as] past events or happenings that we remember, imaginary object as well as things we imagine that may also exist or be capable of real existence, and all objects of thought.”

So reality, in that sense, is about being able to form relationships. If matter really exists, we have a relationship with real objects. (Is that what you call objective reality?) We can touch things, see things, and so on; we believe that those things actually exist, and that they go on existing even when we are no longer around.

We can have relationships with real people, individuals who matter. We can communicate with them about not only the things we see and touch, but the things we think about. We aren’t trapped inside our own minds, and we aren’t imagining each other.

We can have a relationship with the One that Francis Schaeffer called the space-time God, the God Who Is There. He is as objectively real as the material objects we touch, and as the human beings around us. We also believe that God has communicated with us.

“As important as Schaeffer viewed worldviews and religious first principles, he was, at the end of the day, most concerned with objective reality and reality of the sort knowable to all mankind. He was, thus, a realist. ”  “Francis Schaeffer’s Real Reality”, at The Calvinist International

To quote the late Robin Williams: “Reality. What a concept.”