What is the actual process of realization? What are the factors that must coexist at the same time in order to set the brain's state of realizing something?

I found that In probability and statistics, a realization, or observed value, of a random variable is the value that is actually observed (what actually happened). The random variable itself should be thought of as the process how the observation comes about. Statistical quantities computed from realizations without deploying a statistical model are often called "empirical", as in empirical distribution function or empirical probability.


Was this derived by the actual process of the brain?

  • I think you'll have to make reference to some work of a philosopher that makes these kinds of distinctions to help orientate answers. At the moment it appears that the only distinctions to go on is the one an english language dictionary provides; and in many situations these can be used as synonyms. Perhaps the most basic distinction there is between passive & active. To realise something is always active. To know and understand is passive. Commented May 13, 2013 at 15:29
  • I haven't found any yet. I am just thinking on my own in order to improve my life. I need to know when I realize something and distinguish it from when I know something. As I think more into it, understanding must be the act of "I see what you see in your mind" but Is this also realization that I know what you have in your mind while we are chatting?
    – themhz
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 15:37
  • Well, Avita Ronell, a philosopher said - if one could communicate then it wouldn't be neccessary to communicate. It looks like you want to look at ideas of intersubjectivity to quote - '[its used to ] conceptualize the psychological relation between people. It is usually used in contrast to solipsistic individual experience, emphasizing our inherently social being' Commented May 13, 2013 at 15:47
  • But I think also there is a difference between practical and Theoretical reason that Kant makes. That is one form of reasoning to help theorize, and the other to help solve practical problems, that is problems we have in or with the world including ourselves and others. Commented May 13, 2013 at 15:50
  • Intersubjectivity Interesting topic it is. But I initially whant to focus on the word Realize. Looking at the Dictionary I find thefreedictionary.com/Realizing 1. To comprehend completely or correctly. 2. To bring into reality; make real.
    – themhz
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 16:21

3 Answers 3


Most words are ambiguous. "Realize" is no exception. Merriam-Webster suggests the definition "to understand or become aware of [something]", which I think is the sense that you use the word in several of your examples, Themis.

To become aware of something in the real world, you have to observe it. So realizing that the mountain is far away is based on looking and understanding what what you see.

Whatever the process is in the brain that we call realization, it can happen about something unreal, for example, in a dream or hallucination. So actual realization can't just be the process in the brain. It has to include the process in the brain AND ALSO be about something true, something verifiable in the real world. Otherwise it's a false realization.


I think Tom Barron is correct. But I thought I would add a comment about statistical realisation and the brain. Even in this sense there are two meanings (the first more common):

  1. A sample that is taken that conforms to a probability model. For example, number of photons reaching my retina would realise a Poisson distributed variable.
  2. In neuroscience, there is a question concerning how we perform probabilistic reasoning: Where in the brain do we find the probability distributions that we use for this (the answer is we don't have them explicitly as that would need far too much brain). This has been a highly debated topic in recent years. In this case "realised" can be used to mean "represented by neurons or neural activation" (representation is itself is a highly overloaded term).

In pretty much all senses "realised" means "made real", but there is little connection beyond that.


The brain is a very complex metaphor machine.

When you come to understand something, it is your brain recognizing that something is 'like' something else it already understands.

If you were to explain what an airplane was to an indigenous tribe of people who have never seen one before, to help them understand what an 'airplane' is you could tell them.

"An airplane is like a giant bird. But it is not an animal. It is man made, just like the straw hut you live in is man made. So its like a flying house in the shape of a bird"

All our realizations come to us in a similar way. The complexity of the metaphors may vary but essentially this is our brains process of understanding or realizing something.

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