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A Beginner's Guide to Reality: Exploring Our Everyday Adventures in Wonderland

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  154 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Have you ever wondered if the world is really there when you’re not looking? We tend to take the reality of our world very much for granted. This book will lead you down the rabbit hole in search of something we can point to, hang our hats on, and say this is real. Along the way Jim Baggott presents the important arguments concerning the nature reality as examined by the w ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 17th 2009 by Pegasus (first published November 1st 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 369)
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La pointe de la sauce
Does colour exist in the dark?

A couple of weeks ago I started discussion with Greg about our perception of reality. At the end of the discussion I had the distinct impression that I wasn't putting my point across effectively due to, I don't know, let's say pure ignorance on the subject, whereas Greg effectively used a number of arguments to show that my view of the intrinsic nature of colour is problematic.

Hmmm, after reading this book I still disagree. Below I have made up a jumbled up summary
...more
Tyler Dykema
18 year old me would've thought this was the best book ever, but having been removed from constant challenging philosophical thought for so long I think I've lost the thrill it used to give me. Don't get me wrong, I still love philosophy but questioning the truth of every aspect of reality doesn't really seem productive to me anymore. This book is broken up into 3 parts and the first 2 are excellent. I love the ideas that were explored mainly the ones questioning why and how we perceive things. ...more
Nicole
Feb 02, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, non-fiction
Brilliant intro to what "reality" actually means.
The book is split into three main chapters discussing Money (social reality and the societal systems we have built for ourselves), Colours (reality as we perceive it via our senses) and Light (what is actually there in a particle physics sense regardless of what we can perceive).
It is all written simply enough for anyone to understand, but not condescendingly. I still have trouble with the physics part - I have never been a physics buff - and find
...more
Marc Nash
An accessible summary of the history of thought on just what the nature of reality might be. It uses every day examples of money & marriage to explain socially constructed consensus reality. It talks of Plato's cave of shadow perception rather than direct sight as still being relevant today. The author uses films such as "The Matrix" and "Terminator" and Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide..." to entertaining effect. It's only in the penultimate 2 chapters that it gets a bit science heavy as i ...more
Todd
May 22, 2014 Todd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epistime, phil-sci
A very good overview. I wish he had spent more time examining social reality rather than physical though. While the "rabbit hole" of physical reality is of great interest to academics and science geeks, it is the social reality that has the greatest effect on our daily, lived experiences, and it is the social reality that is ultimately what humanity is actually capable of changing. He did manage to point out a number of myths and fallacies about our perceived social reality but it felt like the ...more
M. Patrick
Jul 30, 2014 M. Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In last five or so years that I have been listening to audio books, I have chosen to listen to several nonfiction books on philosopy and even more on science, learning from all and enjoying most. Today I finished A Beginner's Guide to Reality by Jim Baggott and have decided that it is the best of those listens in which the author tried to reconcile science and philosophy as methods of determing what is real and what is not. Baggott develops his discussion chronologically by beginning with Sccra ...more
Jasen Tenney
Jun 19, 2014 Jasen Tenney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haven’t enjoyed a philosophy book this much in a long time. A thought provoking and highly accessible guide to metaphysics.
Jeremy
Jul 18, 2010 Jeremy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat charming, if smugly so, and trite overview of the philosophical history of the concept of reality. Baggot relies on too many references to The Matrix and pop-culture, while never really establishing his own stance. It didn't quite do it for me.
Suellen Rubira
Mar 01, 2016 Suellen Rubira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was almost leaving Lisbon, my advisor gave me a big list of further readings I was supposed to finish along my career as a researcher. Like most of the books he tols me to read, this one questions the idea of absolute and independent reality and which scientific theories are out there to help us - or to confuse us. Baggott, we must say, does a brilliant history of man and world relationship, but his flaw is to forget about the power and importance of myths and legends. He dedicates about ...more
Nick
Jul 12, 2011 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What started out as an extremely interesting philosophical read with a pop culture twist devolved into a highly repetitive lesson straight out of a textbook. Probably should have given it 2 stars, but I did really appreciate the initial approached
Amanda
Jun 19, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I made a mistake with this one and listened to the audio book. There was just way too much information to take in while attempting to commute to and from work. Read the book.

The book is basically an attempt to take a look at what we perceive our reality to be. The Matrix is actually referenced quite a bit. The first section, Money, really focuses on the reality that society has set up and the reality that everyone buys in to. That rectangle with Andrew Jackson on it that you exchange for goods?
...more
Matt
Aug 02, 2011 Matt rated it it was ok
Since my local Borders store is having a going out of business sale, I decided to see if I could get any good deals on books. I browsed the under stocked philosophy section, and I found Jim Baggott's book titled A Beginner's Guide to Reality. I read the first chapter in the store; it seemed to be a very promising read. The first eight chapters of the book are interesting, and it really demonstrates a lot about our perception of reality. Starting with chapter 9 until the end of the book is like r ...more
Michael
რა არის რეალობა? არის კი ყველაფერი რეალური რასაც ვხედავთ ვეხებით და ვგრძნობთ? ეს წიგნი, საგნები თქვენს ირგვლივ, მთები, მდელოები, მდინარეები? რა არის საერთოდ რეალობა? ასეთ ფუნდამენტურ თემას ეხება წიგნი. შეიძლება ერთი შეხედვით ეს ყველაფერი ნათელია, "რეალურია!" - იტყვით, მაგრამ სანამ ერთმნიშვნელოვან დასკვნას გამოიტანთ ჯერ ეს წიგნი წაიკითხეთ. პირველი ნაწილი ეხება სოციალურ რეალობას რომელიც მხოლოდ ჩვენს გონებაში შეიძლება არსებობდეს, (სხვა ადგილი მისთვის არ არსებობს) მეორე ნაწილში ვმოგზაურობთ ფილოსოფიუ ...more
TheIron Paw
May 30, 2013 TheIron Paw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science and/or philosophy fans
Shelves: science, philosophy
What a great book, combining philosophy and science to explore the reality of "reality". Baggott ranges from Plato's caves, to Descartes and Kant, to Schrodinger's Cat. He discusses reality from 3 perspectives: socially constructed reality (so you thought money was real?), physical reality (all this time I thought my "red" was the same as yours), and finally how science deals with, or fails to deal with reality (to think that the universe may only be a collapsed wave function in a conscious mind ...more
Bart
Apr 19, 2015 Bart rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing that elevates the contents of this book above the level of someone's rambling blog about The Matrix is that it goes on a lot longer and is less focused. There's definitely an idea or two worth thinking about here, but the back cover has those covered. That the author decided they were worth around 200 more pages is something I wholeheartedly disagree with. I'd go as far as to say that the only redeeming quality of this book is its faintly interesting title.
Stephen
Apr 06, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since a kid I've always wondered what is reality, how do we perceive it and what does science tells us about universe we are a part of.

This is a great trip down the rabbit hole on the different schools of thought, which I found utterly fascinating.

At the end of the day, we couldn't put our finger on school of thought and say this is real and I don't think that we will know for sure in my life time, but I find it very interesting to think about.

I think the book is well laid out and a must read f
...more
Jackie Johnson
May 16, 2014 Jackie Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book, so great.
Alan
Jun 29, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative, intriguing and mind boggling.
Elfdart
Jul 28, 2010 Elfdart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i really enjoyed reading this book. its a great metaphysical book for beginners and makes you question what reality really is. for the most part, the author goes about this using reason, but in the last part he goes a bit into quantam physics, not to put you off it of course!!! its a great read, even if your not a philosophy major, it written in a very readable way. i would strongly recommend this!!
Matt
Aug 06, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in philosophy, but isn't interested in plowing through 10 books. lol
A fascinating book that overviews 3 styles of philosophy. The author is careful to not let his own views taint his presentation of the methods, until he reveals his own feelings towards the end of the book. While it's not exactly 'light' reading, it's not too complex or hard to get though, and the author has an approachable style of writing with good humor injected into it. A fine book, indeed!
ron newman
This book was divided into three parts. The first two were entertaining on the reality of money and social conventions like marriage and countries. The biggest kicker was the Ancestor Simulation thoery. But it bogged down for me on the Quantum Physics and became more of a chore than an entertaining or thought provoking read. So thumbs up for the lighter half and thumbs down to quantum thoeries.
carynn
Apr 01, 2007 carynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
So I loved this book, well all of it until the bits that I didn’t understand, I got a bit confused with the quantum particles. I was going so well up until then...

Otherwise it’s written really clearly, all the philosophy sections were really easy to follow, and Baggott has a great sense of humour.

But will definitely read it again, when I’m feeling slightly more intellectual.


Sam
Oct 03, 2010 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, philosophy
"Baggot guides the reader on an interesting journey trying to discover reality, from ancient philosophy up through quantum physics. Although, he does a really good job of describing the issues in laymen terms, the nature of the topics can be a bit hard to follow. It might be a bit of a stretch to claim this as a ""Beginner's Guide."""
Melanie
Feb 16, 2008 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was a good general overview of the development of philosophical ideas from Plato to quantum mechanics. Although some of the scientific ideas seemed unnecessarily complicated, I found this book to be very well thought out and organized, with a good flow of ideas.
Stu
Mar 25, 2013 Stu rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I rarely leave a book unfinished but wasn't able to finish it. If you're a total science geek then maybe you'll enjoy it :)
Castorp02
Jul 14, 2013 Castorp02 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well readable and comprehensive introduction into some of the most important topics of philosophy.
Robbie Fitzgerald
Feb 10, 2013 Robbie Fitzgerald rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
Extremely boring and repetitive. Dude makes the same points over and over.
H Wesselius
Jul 26, 2011 H Wesselius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
well written, interesting and makes you think.
Anna
Anna marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2016
Joe
Joe marked it as to-read
Jul 28, 2016
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Jim Baggott completed his doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Oxford and his postgraduate research at Stanford University.
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“Just remember that money cannot buy you happiness (although it might make misery more tolerable).” 2 likes
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