A Consensual Hallucination

Below is one of my favorite excerpts from the book “The Happiness Hypothesis.”

I’ve always been a fan of the red pill/blue pill dilemma, as well as the interesting thought experiment of if this world is a simulation. I think Jonathan Haidt does a good job of articulating one perspective on the subject.

“In philosophy classes, I often came across the idea that the world is an illusion. I never really knew what that meant, although it sounded deep. But after two decades studying moral psychology, I think I finally get it. The anthropologist Clifford Geertz wrote that “man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun.”

That is, the world we live in is not really one made of rocks, trees, and physical objects; it is a world of insults, opportunities, status symbols, betrayals, saints, and sinners. All of these are human creations which, though real in their own way, are not real in the way that rocks and trees are real.

These human creations are like fairies in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan: They exist only if you believe in them. They are the Matrix; a consensual hallucination.”

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash.

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