From the sea to the sky, from tables to chairs, light to dark, before to after, we see the world as differentiated into countless bits, qualities and relations. But from the outset of Western thought some have maintained this is a dangerous illusion.  One of the first philosophers, Parmenides, claimed 'what exists is whole and unchanging, one and continuous'. While today, there are sociologists and linguists, neuroscientists and philosophers who argue that the distinctions we make are a function not of reality but of language.  

Do we need to give up the idea that the world is differentiated and take Parmenides and Spinoza's idea that the world is one seriously?  Or, should we see differences and distinctions as a product of language and the human mind?  Would this make us more open to different ways of seeing the world or fatally undermine knowledge and our ability to communicate?

Renowned philosopher Michael Della Rocca, leading philosopher of physics Tim Maudlin, and continental philosopher Kathleen Higgins debate reality, language, and human perception. Maria Balaska hosts.

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