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Review of The Case Against Reality: How evolution hid the truth from our eyes by Donald Hoffman

“I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on … reside in consciousness. Hence if the living creature were removed, all these qualities would be wiped away and annihiliated.” (Galileo Galilei)

Donald Hoffman’s opening quotation from Galileo pretty much sums up the argument of his book.  He argues that the language of objects in space and time is the wrong language to describe objective reality, and that the role of perception is to maximise our “fitness” and not to reveal the true nature of the world. These arguments go back to the time of the Greeks, who believed that sensations are only conventions and not reality.

Donald Hoffman discusses general perception, time and space, gravity, virtual reality, and colour and concludes that, at best, the world we perceive is a virtual model of reality with vast amounts of data compression to make it useful. This book will appeal to anyone interested in the senses and how our brain constructs our day-to-day reality. The role of perception is to help us survive and thrive, not to make things ‘real’.

 

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