Do the election results make you think that some people have lost touch with reality? If it helps, many philosophers think no one has ever made contact with reality in the first place.
Beginning in the 1600s, philosophers started to say things like, “For all you know, nothing outside your head exists. All you’ve ever experienced are your own experiences. All you’ve ever sensed are your own sensations. It might all be hallucinations — all ‘images in your head’.”
This idea didn’t finally start to die until the 20th century, or thereabouts. And I’m not even sure it’s dying. You’ll still hear philosophers talk about seeing a cat as “having a representation of a cat in your brain.” (“Representations in the brain,” it seems to me, is just the fancy new way of saying “images in the head.”)
We had a great discussion of this kind of thing in Philosophy of Language yesterday. The words we use affect the way we see the world, ourselves, and other people. We “interpret” reality, in large part, based on the words that are available to us.
The question is whether we only ever experience our interpretations of reality. Do we never experience reality itself; is each of us locked inside her or his own interpretations? If I see something “in a certain way” or “from my point of view,” am I not seeing the thing itself?
As a phenomenologist, I say that interpretations, sensations, feelings, etc. are like windows. You actually see (hear, feel, experience) the thing you’re interpreting, sensing, feeling, etc. through your interpretations, sensations, feelings. The window might not be very clear in some cases, but you’re still seeing the cat through it.
But I often get the feeling that I’m all alone in this view. (And that makes me a rebel. Which makes me cool. Which makes me popular. So I’m not alone after all.)