We Are Living in an Illusion
Truths are illusions that we have forgotten as illusions.
Are we living in a lie?
I look out my window and see two orange trees. Orange trees: one concept, two entities. In reality, they’re not the same. One has 203 leaves and the other 106. One has roots that run 6ft deep and the other 3ft. One has many branches and the other only a few, yet we call them the same tree.
We simplify the world into useful concepts and fiction. Instead of seeing 100 different trees, we see a single forest. We live in a world of illusions that allow us to survive and thrive. We never see our family, friends and loved ones as they really are, we only see illusions of them. Everyone I know is deeply complex.
The mind uses concepts to give meaningful order to the chaotic world, but the order is just a useful fantasy — a pretty lie. Whether we use science, philosophy, theology, or art, the fantasies we construct help us interact with the world. In other words, they give us more power.
Let’s return to the orange trees and experience them as separate entities they really are. Let’s notice how one smells better than the other, how the bark of one is smoother, and how the fruits of one are larger.
Reality seems more complex than our illusion. But even if we updated our illusions, if we increased the words and concepts we could use to describe the tree does being aware of the details matter? If you’re a farmer, maybe.
I think that’s what Nietzsche wanted us to think about when he said
Suppose we want truth: why not rather untruth? and uncertainty? even ignorance?
Unless you’re a farmer, ignorance might be preferable to the detailed truth. Maybe, we only care about truth in so far as it empowers us, knowing and thinking about all the details of every orange tree would just be a psychological burden. But I can’t help but ask, is it possible that the mind is accessing a deeper kind of truth? Our values.