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a. that which exists, independent of human awareness
b. the totality of facts as they are independent of human awareness of them
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



objective reality, as the concretely developed totality of natural and sociohistorical phenomena. The concept of reality is also used in the sense of genuine reality, in contrast to appearance. In this ontological sense, the concept of reality was used in ancient philosophy (for example, Democritus’ juxtaposition of the “world of opinion” (doxa) to the true, that is, the real world, and the world of the senses and the real world—the world of ideal essences—in Plato’s works). By contrast, for Aristotle the synonym of reality was the world perceived by the senses, which was the realization of eternal and unchanging forms. This interpretation was adopted by the medieval Catholic thinker Thomas Aquinas.

In the philosophy of the new age of the 16th through the 18th century, reality was interpreted as available reality, existing in space and time in the form of the totality of material substances. In the interpretations of philosophers such as Hobbes and Descartes, reality acquired an abstract mechanical and geometrical character. Kant considered the problem of reality to be theoretical and cognitive, and for him, the criterion of reality was perception by the senses. According to Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, reality—the objective world—was the product of the activity of the mind. Objecting to the Hegelian idealistic interpretation of reality as one of the stages in the self-knowledge of the absolute mind, Feuer-bach considered reality as sensuous objectivity in space and time which, far from requiring thought for its existence, provides it with truth.

Contemporary neo-Thomism has revived the medieval interpretation of reality, connecting it with the concepts of actuality and potentiality. Reality is the becoming of the being, realization of its “pure” forms. In the existentialist personalist school of philosophical thought, the examination of the real is shifted from the sphere of that which is reasoned and universal to the sphere of that which is volitional and individual. The concept of reality is used in the sense of the immediate, vital sphere of human experiences, choice, and decisions. Reality is authentic being, understood not ontologically, but anthropologically, in connection with the self-expression of the personality. Thus, sociohistorical, human reality is interpreted subjectively.

In Marxist philosophy, the concept of reality, in the sense of genuine reality, coincides with the concept of matter. Marxism regards sociohistorical reality as the objective world that realizes its tendencies, laws, and potentialities—that is, as being, in its self-transformation and self-development—and also as the object and result of human activity and practice. Practice—the specifically human relation to reality—is the criterion distinguishing reality and appearance, the criterion of the validity of the thought: “Practice is higher than (theoretical) knowledge, for it not only has the value of universality, but also of immediate reality” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29, p. 195).




that which actually exists. In dialectical materialism the term “reality” designates both objective reality and everything that exists. Objective reality is matter in the totality of its forms. In this sense, reality is contrasted with subjective reality, or the phenomena of the consciousness. The phrase “everything that exists” refers to the entire material world, including all of its products in the form of ideas.

In dialectical materialism the criterion for the reality of objects, processes, events, facts, characteristics, and so forth is the social practice of humanity, including scientific and technological experimentation.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Attempts to create an immersive, large-scale reproduction of the external world in this period, such as the panoramas of London and of scenes from classical history, accompanied and intensified what Otto calls a Kantian "crisis in representation characteristic of modernity" (42).
BEIRUT: Renowned mathematician Michael Atiyah touted the practical benefits of his field during a lecture at the American University of Beirut (AUB) on Monday, arguing that it is more useful than philosophy in terms of explaining the relationship between the external world and the human mind.
"One of the risks of being CEO is that you can get consumed with everything going on inside and lose touch with the external world. External connections are important."
Thom Mayne, the architect, is remarkable for his invention of forms that challenge preconceptions yet establish some fundamental bonds between the individual (the viewer, the person walking or driving), the architectural object and the external world.
What makes Butler's work so impressive is the range of styles and approaches that he employs, and the ways in which his representations of the external world are enhanced through a Waldenesque internalization of nature.
Rounding out Dec's internal struggle is the external world of his friends Ezra and Vivien, and his plans for a summer internship and a future beyond the House of Memory.
From rajas comes the false idea that the external world is real, which makes us lose track of the world within and seek happiness outside of ourselves.
But if we hark back along a different type of chronology (remaining sensitive to the risks of transposing a developmental paradigm onto historical progression), we also find ourselves arriving at "a time when the ego had not yet marked itself off sharply from the external world and from other people." Early modern England was a place of competing and often contradictory models of subjectivity.
The concept of "spiritual progress" yields to early modern concerns for the concrete realities of the external world. It may be so, but this teaches us little about the specificity of the great literary texts under study.
The emergence of the Worker's Party of Brazil in the world stage shows how internal change can have a great impact on the external world. If we didn't have Lula come to power in Brazil, we wouldn't have the Group of 21 that plays a major role in stopping the U.S.
"All companies recognize the importance of doing the right thing, and trying to regain some trust and confidence from the external world, from customers in the markets and, by and large, companies are marching along shoulder to shoulder on this."
Possibly, indeed probably, for some readers Romantic literature is the origin of their 'strong interest' in descriptions of the external world and even perhaps their 'environmentalist thought', but let us not make the mistake of thinking such interest sprang into being in the Romantic period.