The case against reality - Donald D. Hoffman

Does an apple exist when no one watches it? Donald D. Hoffman thinks it doesn’t, and his book explains why.

A must-read if you are interested in consciousness and its relationship with the physical world in the context of natural evolution.


The book explains that what we see and feel is not the physical world. For instance, we see colors, not wavelength.

The book's main argument is that natural selection made senses and perception valuable for an agent to survive, not made for describing the “True” physical world.

It explains that what we usually call reality is like the icons on our computer screens. A helpful user interface that presents the right amount of abstraction to maximize efficiency.

It shows that the concept of space-time is also likely a construction by natural evolution to make sense of our surroundings. They don't exist if no one perceives them like a color that exists only in the mind of an observer. All this theory matches the latest founding in quantum mechanics.

Finally, the end of the book depicts a theory about consciousness and the universe. You don't have to believe in it to find it enriching, poetic and beautiful.

I recommend this book 100% even if it didn’t explain some side effects of its theory: while space-time may be only a construction favored by evolution, these abstractions make sense at the scale of our body. Our senses and our capacity to move co-evolved. So even if space-time does not exist, navigating along its abstract dimensions is still the only practical way to escape a predator. If there were other ways, evolution would have found it. So even if space-time does not exist, our body and mind are still stuck inside it. Can we call something nonexistent if we can’t escape it?

Again, I 100% recommend this book.