Today’s Book of the Day is Reality + written by David Chalmers in 2022 and published by Norton & Company.

David Chalmers is a professor of philosophy and neural science and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness at New York University. He wrote The Conscious MindThe Character of Consciousness, and Constructing the World, and lives in New York.

Reality +, by David J. Chalmers

I have chosen this book as it is one of the best available introductions to many philosophical questions and topics meant for readers who are not experts on the matter.

David Chalmers is very well known for coining the term the hard problem of consciousness, meaning with it that, as philosophers, scientists, and researchers, we have to understand how our neurons, who are physical entities, can have a part in experiencing consciousness?

The core point of the book lies in the analysis of virtual worlds as genuine realities. Chalmers, in this excellent book, argues that virtual worlds are not to be considered second-class worlds, but worlds that have a specific reality, so real that we could be living in one right now.

Chalmers makes an amazing tour into the classic philosophical questions: How do we know/how can we be sure that an external world exists? Is there a god? What is reality, for real? How can we understand the deep connection between mind and body? How can we build a just society?

The author starts by asking how we can be sure we are not living in a simulation, like in Matrix? Technology today has shown that our brains can be brought into immersive simulations and can be tricked into believing that what we feel in this simulation is real. According to Chalmers, yes, these simulations are real. They are real as we live experiences in them that come from our senses, so they have to be real. Yet, how can we differentiate one simulation from the other?

This book is a sort of answer to the classical problem that Descartes introduced in the Meditations: whenever I think, I must exist, Cogito ergo sum.

Chalmers shows the readers that the reality we experience in every simulation is real: it’s not an illusion in that simulation. That of course is a radical, opposite stance against the Cartesian way of seeing those imaginary or created worlds.

I really enjoyed this book as, even if it’s not a classic philosophical work, it brilliantly poses some interesting questions about topics that are almost daily debated even on social media. The book is thought-provoking and brilliantly written. Chalmers is well into the stream of those philosophers able to disclose some deep thoughts to a broad public, such as Daniel Dennett.

I suggest this book to everyone curious about philosophy.


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