这位着名的天文学家完成了他的演讲，并询问是否有人有任何问题。一个小男孩举起手来。 “我有点了解天文学家如何计算出恒星有多远，它们有多大，它们有多热，以及所有这些东西，”他说。但我仍然没有看到他们如何知道他们的名字是什么。 [形而上学现实主义认为，我们对世界的表现 – 特别是事物如何的科学模型 – 反映了世界独立于我们的经验的方式。我们最好的模型被称为“在关节处雕刻自然。”这种观点的反现实主义批评者认为，它没有认识到世界的任何描述被我们独特的人类认知形式所染色的程度。这些反现实主义者认为现实主义者就像故事中的孩子一样，他们认为人类惯例的产物（星星的名称）是自然界固有的。]亚伯拉罕林肯应该曾经问过他的一个助手：“如果你把它的尾巴算作一条腿，驴子有多少条腿？“ “五，”助手回答。 “不，”林肯说。 “简单地将尾巴称为一条腿并不能使它成为一条腿。” [这个众所周知的轶事说明了所有现实主义者认为任何形式的理想主义的基本缺陷，他们会说，这包括反现实主义的现代版本。我们可以说和想想我们喜欢什么;但是，坚硬，客观的现实对我们可以合理地宣称的东西施加了严格的限制。]“有一种理论认为，如果有人发现宇宙究竟是什么以及为什么它在这里，它会立即消失并被某种东西取代更奇怪和莫名其妙。还有另一种理论认为这已经发生了。“ （道格拉斯亚当斯，“银河系漫游指南”一书的作者）“在回答它为何发生的问题时，我提出了一个温和的建议，即我们的宇宙只是不时发生的事情之一。” （Edward Tryon）Bertrand Russell曾经遇到过一位女性，她接受了印度教的神话，认为世界是在一头巨大的大象背上休息的。他礼貌地询问是什么支持大象，并被告知它搁在一只巨龟的背上。耐心地，拉塞尔然后询问支持乌龟的是什么。 “哦，不，教授”，故意对这个女人微笑。 “你不会那样抓住我的。它一直都是乌龟！“在一个烟雾缭绕的巴黎咖啡馆里，存在主义哲学家让·保罗·萨特（Jean Paul Sartre）点了一杯加糖的咖啡，但没有奶油。一分钟后，服务员回来看起来很抱歉。 “我很抱歉萨特先生”，他说，“我们没有奶油。你想要你的咖啡没有牛奶吗？“[一些逻辑实证主义者嘲笑海德格尔和萨特之类的大陆哲学家为了实现虚无（将其视为一件事），并且谈论”无所谓“就好像它是某种东西。他们有他们的理由，但是，他们说话的方式却有些奇怪。]唯我论是一种学说，除了我的自我和我自己的主观状态之外，宇宙中没有任何东西存在：世界完全包含在我的脑海里。出于显而易见的原因，这不是一个广泛持有的观点已经有几次尝试为solipsists组织会议，但从未取得过多成功 – 只有一个人出现过。
The famous astronomer finishes his lecture and asks if anyone has any questions. A little boy puts his hand up. “I sort of understand how you astronomers can work out how far away the stars are, how big they, how hot they are, and all those kinds of things,” he says. But I still don’t see how they find out what their names are. [Metaphysical realism holds that our representation of the world—particularly the scientific model of how things are—reflects the way the world is independent of our experience of it. Our best models are said to “carve nature at the joints.” Anti-realist critics of this view argue that it fails to recognize the extent to which any description of the world is colored by our distinctively human forms of cognition. These anti-realists see the realists as like the child in the story who assume that a product of human convention (the names of the stars) is intrinsic to nature.] Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have once asked one of his aides: “If you count its tail as a leg, how many legs does a donkey have?” “Five,” replied the aide. “No,” said Lincoln. “Simply calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” [This well-known anecdote illustrates what all realists regard as the basic flaw in any form of idealism, which, they would say, includes fancy modern versions of anti-realism. We can say and think what we please; but hard, objective reality imposes severe constraints on what we can plausibly claim.] “There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” (Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) ” In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our universe is simply one of those things that happen from time to time.” (Edward Tryon) Bertrand Russell was once confronted with a woman who accepted the Hindu myth that the world rested on the back of a giant elephant. He politely enquired what supported the elephant, and was told that it rested on the back of a giant turtle. Patiently, Russell then asked what supported the turtle. “Oh no, Professor”, smiled the woman knowingly. “You won’t catch me out that way. It’s turtles all the way down!”. In a smoky Parisian café, the existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre orders a coffee with sugar but without cream. A minute later the waiter returns looking apologetic. “I’m sorry Monsieur Sartre”, he says, “we’re out of cream. Would you like your coffee without milk instead?” [Some logical positivists ridiculed continental philosophers like Heidegger and Sartre for reifying nothingness (treating it like a thing), and talking about “the Nothing” as if it were something. They had their reasons, but there is, nevertheless, something odd about their way of speaking.] Solipsism is the doctrine that nothing in the universe exists except my self and my own subjective states: the world is contained entirely inside my mind. It is not a widely held view for obvious reasons. There have been several attempts to organize conventions for solipsists, but never with much success—only one person ever shows up.