I read something many years ago, most likely in print, that I've occasionally tried to find again. It purported to be the cosmology of Objectivism or some version of it. I believe the exact wording of its first principle was:

There is a single objective reality, and we perceive it directly.

Google returns no results for this phrase. Is this statement, particularly the part about direct perception, a tenet of Objectivism or some other recognized philosophy?

  • 2
    Look into direct realism, or "naive" realism, also John Searle's "biological naturalism"
    – MmmHmm
    Sep 27, 2018 at 5:22
  • Is there any other form of objectivism except Rand's? Their names are not established then. But probably this comes from there.
    – rus9384
    Sep 27, 2018 at 5:46
  • Thats funny, Google returns 'About 68,700,000 results' when I just typed it in... Sep 27, 2018 at 6:02
  • @MoziburUllah Try it with quotes. Without quotes, you get results containing any indexed word in the phrase. Sep 27, 2018 at 6:15
  • @Mr.Kennedy Naive realism does sound very similar. Sep 27, 2018 at 6:16

2 Answers 2


Direct realism

Direct or naive realism certainly assumes in its principal versions that :

Perceptual states are belief states: To perceive an object is to acquire a certain number of true beliefs about it that are causally received from the object by using one's sense organs in a standard way. (M. S. Gram, 'Causation and Direct Realism', Philosophy of Science, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Sep., 1972), pp. 388-396 : 388.)

A more nuanced view can also be formulated :

(a) in normal cases of perception, physical or material objects are, in a sense admittedly still in need of clarification, directly or immediately perceived; and (b) that the justification for beliefs about such objects that results from perception does not depend on ... inference from the subjective character of perceptual experience ... but can be accounted for in some other way. (Laurence Bonjour, 'In Search of Direct Realism', Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. 69, No. 2 (Sep., 2004), pp. 349-367 : 351.)

By 'inference from the subjective character of perceptual experience' is meant inference from subjective sensory experience such as (if they exist) sense data or sensibilia.

A single objective reality

There is no valid inference from either characterisation of direct realism to a single objective reality of physical or material objects - or whatever else we might directly perceive. All that direct realism implies or presupposes is that we have some direct or immediate perception of the real, whatever the real might be. It is logically perfectly possible that the objects of our immediate or direct perception do not compose a single objective reality. It may be widely assumed by direct realists that they do and if direct realism is a correct theory of perception, they might be right. But this is an independent claim, not inherent in direct realism and not even guaranteed by its truth if it is true.

  • While not Objectivism, I think this is most likely to have been what I read about. Dec 28, 2018 at 3:13
  • @Geoffrey Thomas "It is logically perfectly possible that the objects of our immediate or direct perception do not compose a single objective reality" -- is it really though? I mean it might take more than intersubjectivity to create, say, an illusion of a tactical nuke landing way too close in one's immediate perception. And even if it were possible for people to actually obliterate the unlucky person with the sheer power of their beliefs, the effect would indistinguishable from that of the objective reality, leaving the latter as the only sensible assumption. Jul 9, 2020 at 16:30

Since you're capitalizing "Objectivism" and asking about other "recognized philosophies" this response is specifically about how the philosophy of Ayn Rand would actually handle such a claim.

The piece about "there is a single objective reality" wouldn't be problematic at all because this is literally the basis of Objectivist Metaphysics. The law of identity is immutable and absolute, and Objectivists would only affirm this as Axiomatic.

The second bit about "and we perceive it directly" would raise an eyebrow of any long time Objectivist because this appears at first to be a possible trap. Cautiously in the end Objectivists affirm the validity of sense perception, but this simplistic kind of statement has long been an attack vector used against pure empiricists. It is also only one piece of concept formation and though you might perceive a mirage accurately, it doesn't make the illusion of what the mirage is presenting a physical reality off in the distance. Logic and Reason play a major role in Objectivist Epistemology so while perception is "valid" it is not the end of obtaining valid knowledge about reality.

Ayn Rand called her philosophy “Objectivism” because central to it is a new conception of objectivity. Traditionally, objectivity has meant the attempt to efface the knower out of existence, so that consciousness can “mirror” or “copy” reality, “untainted” by any processing. Skeptics then bewail the possibility of man knowing reality, since any attempt to do so must make use of his senses and/or rational faculty, both of which engage in processing.

Rand challenges this whole approach. The “satisfaction of every need of a living organism,” she writes, “requires an act of processing by that organism, be it the need of air, of food or of knowledge.” Objectivity consists in a mind grasping the facts by the correct mental processes. As Peikoff formulates her view: “To be objective in one’s conceptual activities is volitionally to adhere to reality by following certain rules of method, a method based on facts and appropriate to man’s form of cognition.” Source

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .