Seeing is Believing

In sum, there is an important distinction to be made between appearance and form on one hand, and essence and reality on the other hand. Knowing the distinction between these two things is at the crux of differentiating truth from falsehood and differentiating right from wrong. But unfortunately, it is a distinction which many people cannot make.

One of the first lessons I had in my adult life about the very real distinction between appearance and form on one hand and essence and reality on the other hand was almost eight years ago in a parking lot in Northwest Washington. I went to get a sandwich for lunch at Wagshal’s, which is a deli chain in Washington that I am sure a number of Washington insiders are familiar with. When I stepped out of the Wagshal’s that afternoon, I came across Chris Wallace, who is a very famous news anchorman in the American mainstream media. Wallace passed by me, and was presumably heading towards Wagshal’s. But as Wallace passed by me, I noticed that he was mumbling and talking to himself incessantly, like a madman.

The sight of a very famous news anchorman in the United States mumbling and talking loudly to himself like a madman was one of the first lessons I had about what is perhaps the most important philosophical question of all time, which in turn had been picked up by the likes of Aristotle and Bertrand Russell. This questions pertains to appearance and form on one hand, and essence and reality on the other hand. Appearance-wise and in regards to form, one would assume that Wallace is a very coherent and authoritative figure if one were to see him on television. But in essence and in reality, Wallace is something totally different based on what I witnessed first-hand. Thus, when someone says “seeing is believing,” what also matters is context.

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