In terminology, real (TR:106), as compared to unreal, from Medieval Latin realis “relating to things” (in law), from Latin res thing, fact, as contrasted with unreal, refers to something existing as a physical entity or process; is the root of the terms such as: reality, realism, real world, real science, and literary realism.

In 1743, Jean d’Alembert, in his Treatise on Dynamics, amid the vis viva dispute, supposedly, rejected the concept of “force” altogether, in his mechanics, arguing that the only mechanical phenomena observed in the world (or real world) are matter and its motion, and that forces are “obscure and metaphysical” inventions of philosophers. [2]

In 1847, James Maxwell stated that the only thing we perceive as real, via the sense, is force: [2]

“The only thing which can be directly perceived by the senses is force, to which may be reduced to light, heat, electricity, sound and all the other things which can be perceived by the senses.”


The following are noted quotes:

“The law of conservation [of energy] applies to some things and not to others, and the things which it does not apply are unreal.”
James Johnstone (1914), The Philosophy of Biology

“To a materialist no thing is real but atoms in a void and we are but molecular people controlled by the actions of natural [see: natural law] physicochemical law .”
George Scott (1985), Atoms of the Living Flame

“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel; what you can taste; what you can smell and see; then real is simply electrical signals being interpreted by your brain.”
— Morpheus (1999), The Matrix

See also
‚óŹ Chemical Thermodynamics in the Real World

1. (a) Real – Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
(b) Real –
2. Hankins, Thomas L. (1965). “Eighteenth-Century Attempts to Resolve the Vis Viva Controversy” (abs) (pgs. 283-84), Isis, 56(3):281-97.

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