After many years of contemplation I have a simple, logical proof that all physical phenomena are illusions.

Assuming we can agree that things in the past no longer exhibit the properties associated with existence I take as given. Also by the same logical argument things in the future are yet to exist and are therefore not admissible as existing phenomena.

Now, that is it. Simplicity. Nothing exists in space and time and is only observable in the illusory, no time long, medium of now. With our thoughts we create the world..... Apologies I appear to have omitted the question how should I proceed with this idea from my original post!

EDIT 2019-10-11

Has this argument been made in philosophy before me? Does this argument have a name or is associated with a school of philosophy? Are there rebuttals of this?

  • Nothing exists in space and time… With our thoughts we create the world. Thus we (that are reading your post) are your own creation. So, what benefit form our (i.e. yours) opinion ? Oct 11, 2019 at 12:54
  • It is not clear to me what your question is. Oct 11, 2019 at 12:57
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    This is a well-rehearsed and common argument. It seems like good thinking to me. But there doesn't seem to be a question here. ... .
    – user20253
    Oct 11, 2019 at 13:46
  • This reminds me of an old SNL quip: "As I sit here, watching this lights turn from green to yellow to red and back again, I find myself wondering... Is life only screaming, honking, and cursing? Sometimes I think it is." now is not a disconnected, zero-length point; now is our contact point with an ongoing stream of events that are beyond out ken. Ignore that stream of events and it will smack you in the face, no matter how much you assert it is illusory. Oct 11, 2019 at 13:50
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    You have Gorgias with a famous proof that nothing exists. Augustine in the Confessions similarly argues that the past and future are psychological constructs, but maintains a present. Those are the first things that come to mind. Oct 11, 2019 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


Welcome, Joedean7.

You ask a a question about other philosophers in the heading, then switch to your own argument. I have made a choice and addressed the latter.

I offer a counter-argument. If physical phenomena are illusory than presumably the relevant illusions occur to a non-physical phenomenon, whatever that might be. Something has to have - to experience - the illusion and ex hypothesi it cannot be a physical phenomenon.

Now, perceptual experience cannot be described without using the language of physical phenomena - if I can't say that in formulating this answer I seem to see a three-dimensional object, a laptop, on which my body is making movements, I don't know how to describe my experience. This doesn't prove that such objects exist but since we plainly have the concepts of them, isn't it the simplest or at least a reasonable explanation of our having such concepts that they are causally related to physical phenomena as (at least in part) their source ?

The relation of physical phenomena to time is a tough question. But why shouldn't it be the case that physical phenomena are real while time is unreal ? Is that possibility logically unsound ?


Descartes implies all this, broadly speaking, with his "unlimited doubt." The question of what illusion means is crucial here. Illusion implies something false or less real. A face in a shadowy reflection rather than in direct light is less real if reality is the directly observed thing. The discussion in Plato's Theaetetus is the classical statement of the preference for Metaphysical truths, truth available to the intellect alone, to all others. Aquinas speaks of evil as a deprivation of full being or good. Illusion must be said in contradistinction to some notion of what is most real. In our time experimental science tends to give the impression that what is most real is the subject matter of physics. And this tacitly supposes a sequence of events caused by objects which resist one another and force one another to change (the time sequence is intuitively assumed by the practitioner and laymen, while logically unnecessary and theories like "bloc time" result "According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass.").

The question of the exact assertion regarding the non-existence of past and future has a logical character which is not convincing Phenomenologically. The question that comes in phenomenologically is how to account for the reality of our experience of the reality of time over and against the sterile logical notion of a discrete past, present and future. Simmel treats this question superlatively. These kinds of issues play a large role in the German philosophers surrounding Husserl.

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