Books & Literature

Book Review: Reality+, by David J. Chalmers

NON-FICTION: Drawing on examples from pop culture, literature and film that help bring philosophical issues to life, Reality+ is a mind-bending journey through virtual worlds, illuminating the nature of reality and our place within it.

A comprehensive review into the future of our “reality”.

Former Sydneysider and Adelaide philosopher David John Chalmers has published his sixth book, bringing virtual worlds into the “What is reality?” debate. Now teaching at New York University in the fields of Philosophy and Neural Science, with a particular interest in consciousness, he is the author of many dissertations.

The introduction in this book is essential as it lays out the instructions for reading the rest of the book. If you are a philosophy student and only interested in certain aspects of the analysis, having a breakdown of each chapter saves you time. The introduction also gives you a small insight into the author’s journey into philosophy and helps you understand the literary structure behind the chapters.

Many of the chapters have been written using different literary styles. Altogether, there are 24 chapters split between the seven main sections.  Each section relates to its theme, those being Virtual Worlds, Knowledge, Reality, Real Virtual Reality, Mind, Value, and Foundations.

In the two chapters of Part One, the author uses constant questioning to explain his ideas, bringing into the text multiple theories whose validities are then again questioned. Although the author uses everyday films such as The Matrix to relate this barrage of questions to the reader, the flitting back and forth makes for slow reading—a bit like watching a brilliant mathematician whose entire thought process (as he gets to his answer) is voiced. If you are familiar with the hypotheses, it will not feel so dense.

In Part Two, the literary style changes, providing more flow in reading. Other techniques Chalmers uses to express his ideas from then on are questions and answers, summaries, and even comics. The variation of literary styles is required as there is some repetition in his text. An example is the simulation hypothesis; this is purposeful as the author allows for one to read each section in a silo.

The book continually compares living in the virtual world to living in the real world. If you have an interest in either technology or philosophy, you will appreciate its content.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: June 2022
RRP: $55.00

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