IDEAS & ICONS
The idea of reality as an absolute is common, in particular, to the Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions, to political ideologies, and to the natural sciences in their positivist phase. For the religions and the political ideologies, the absolute lies in texts. For religions it lies in the word of God, for political ideologies it lies in the words of the ideologue. For the natural sciences, though, the absolute lies in Nature. This is a significant difference. Whereas the path of the theologies and ideologies is the way of faith, the path of science is the way of experiment.
In recent times, science has been especially successful in promoting its own version of absolute reality in the form of objectivism. In brief, the objectivist position is that our sense data correspond directly with reality and that reality exists independent of perception.
Characteristic of Absolute Reality is that the ground of reality is external to the knower. In religion and politics, the external source is in the words of the revered texts. In science, the external source is Nature. Always there is the search for a singular Truth. This is part of the tyranny of Absolute Reality. Instead of the Truth setting us free, the idea of Truth enslaves us. It underlies both the "givens" of society and of the individual. For the individual there is the assumption that our experience is, itself, a given. Experience just happens to us. Our emotions fall upon us, and we recognize no part in their production. Typically, we experience our emotions as coming from the environment, as having been caused by something outside ourselves. And it is to the environment that we often turn to change them: through a strong drink, a drug, the social whirl, a movie, etc.
If reality determines experience, then experience is immutable. Not a good basis for the full-blooded pursuit of the modeling of experience. In modeling we want to be putting our experience on the workbench and using it to explore how experiential structures give rise to abilities.