Appearance in Reality

Read a Q&A with the author here.

In Appearance in Reality, John Heil addresses a question at the heart of metaphysics: how are the appearances related to reality, how does what we find in the sciences comport with what we encounter in everyday experience and in the laboratory? Objects, for instance, appear to be colourful, noisy, self-contained, and massively interactive. Physics tells us they are dynamic swarms of colourless particles, or disturbances in fields, or something equally strange. Is what we experience illusory, present only in our minds? But then what are minds? Do minds elude physics? Or are the physicist’s depictions mere constructs with no claim to reality? Perhaps reality is hierarchical: physics encompasses the fundamental things, the less than fundamental things are dependent on, but distinct from these. Heil’s investigation advances a fourth possibility: the scientific image (what we have in physics) affords our best guide to the nature of what the appearances are appearances of.