D. R. Khashaba
Sympathetic readers of my writings have been put off by my use of the terms ‘real’ and ‘reality’ and though I have repeatedly stated that my choice of term may have been unfortunate and though I have repeatedly explained my special usage of the term and insisted that readers take the term in the special sense I give it, all that has not removed the misunderstandings and difficulties. So here once more I will try to clarify my position.
In ordinary usage what is ‘real’ is what is out there, what exists, what is actual, what is physical, what is objective, what can be empirically verified. I do not question the existence, the actuality, the objectivity, etc., of all that. But you have a plethora of words for that one thing. I need one special word to apply uniquely to what is opposed to that: what is in here, what is subjective, what is meaningful in itself without depending on or having reference to anything outside the mind. So give me the one word ‘real’ and I leave you all the others, primarily ‘exist’ and ‘existence’. And I do not deny you the use of the term ‘real’ in the common connotation. But when we are discussing metaphysics, and particularly in connection with my philosophy, let us be clear which ‘real’ we are referring to.
What I term ‘real’ is, in Platonic language, the intelligible as opposed to the perceptible, and I hasten to assure you that when I say that the intelligible is real I definitely do not mean that it is out there or that it exists in the ordinary sense of the word. I scrupulously avoid the use of the terms ‘exist’ and ‘existence’ in relation to metaphysical reality. With Socrates-Plato I assert that Justice, Loyalty, and even mathematical Equality are nowhere in the natural world.
Why, you may ask, insist on the word ‘real’? Why not simply speak of the subject and subjectivity? I have two reasons why I insist on using the term in this special sense which is causing me so much trouble.
The first reason is axiological. We need to emphasize that all life and all value are in the intelligible realm. The natural world, apart from our ideals and values and dreams is as nothing. The galaxies are not more worthy of the title ‘real’ than my joy or grief or a baby’s glee. However I will not amplify on this thought here.
The second reason is metaphysical. When we come to consider our notion of ultimate Reality, I find that what is ultimately real cannot be a thing or an object or even an agent or creator. To my mind, all that exists is necessarily determined by what it is not, depends on what is other than it, and is necessarily transient, evanescent. What is real I conceive as the activity, the creativity, that brings about all the perpetually vanishing existents. This ultimate Reality I say does not exist since it is never a determinate something. It is the Act, not something that acts, but the sheer activity. All the determinate things it brings forth, in the very act of coming into being are passing away; what is lasting, eternal, is the creativity, not a substantive creator.
Kierkegaard says: Truth is subjectivity. I say, the real is the subjective; it is real inasmuch as it does not exist; and the subject is the unique reality we have cognizance of.
I have been expounding these thoughts in many books and papers, particularly in Quest of Reality, Metaphysical Reality, and Creative Eternity: A Metaphysical Myth. Here I am merely clarifying a terminological confusion.
D. R. Khashaba
April 19, 2017