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May 17, 2015

Ontology, Epistemology, Methodology, Whatonology? Part A: Reality itself

When you are asked questions along the lines of, “what is reality? What does reality mean to you?” What kind of images of reality comes to you? What is your idea of reality? For some people, reality is getting the children ready for school before a certain time whilst rushing about trying get themselves ready for work, getting the children belted up in the car and rushing them off to school before travelling to the place of work. It must be realised however that all those with children are not in the same reality, so to speak, as others, as there are married couples with children, single parents, parents dealing with an assortment of behavioural, emotional and psychological problems, and their work context might differ: they might work at home, they might not currently have a job, and so on. It can be taken that whilst each of these scenarios have the common feature of people having children, the way that people interact with reality and perceive reality is different, and one of the biggest challenges facing any society is being able to understand that reality is not the same for each person.

Reality therefore is something that we interact with on a daily occurrence. We might have a sense of reality, but do we really think about it to any great lengths or great extents? Reality itself and interactions with reality needs to be considered greatly among Ph.D. researchers and researchers in general, simply because whatever way a researcher perceives reality influences their interactions with and behaviours within reality and therefore can influence greatly the type of research, and the methods used within their research, that is used to understand the reality that they perceive. This can get even more complicated when you abstract from this and start realising that objective reality is perhaps an illusion as each person, each researcher, could perceive reality a little differently and those who share the same perspective of reality could investigate that perspective of reality a little differently.

You then start really asking the questions about what method or methods of investigating reality really brings out the true and correct knowledge about reality, made even more complicated by the fact that knowledge itself can be perceived in many different ways, therefore making it impossible to really decide for sure. But should there be a right or wrong method? Why would a researcher perceive a particular method as a poor method just because they perceive reality and knowledge a little differently from researchers who find that method effective? What is knowledge? What does it consist of? Where does knowledge come from? Is there such a thing as objective knowledge and objective reality? What does it all mean and why is it so important for Ph.D. researchers to consider carefully?

All these questions, and more, must be considered carefully by any researcher. Welcome to Ontology, Epistemology and Methodology!

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