Organon F

Volume 30, May 2023, Issue 2, Pages 182–220

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article

What Is Real?

Lajos L. Brons


Two of the most fundamental distinctions in metaphysics are (1) that between reality (or things in themselves) and appearance, the R/A distinction, and (2) that between entities that are fundamental (or real, etcetera) and entities that are ontologically or existentially dependent, the F/D distinction. While these appear to be two very different distinctions, in Buddhist metaphysics they are combined, raising questions about how they are related. In this paper I argue that plausible versions of the R/A distinction are essentially a special kind of F/D distinction, and conversely, that many F/D distinctions imply an R/A distinction. Nevertheless, while this does suggest that the F/D distinction is more basic than the R/A distinction, it does not favor a particular understanding of the F/D distinction. There are many kinds of existential or ontological dependence that cannot be meaningfully combined into a single notion, and reality does not force us to accept any specific kind of dependence as more fundamental. Consequently, what we consider to be ‘real’, ‘fundamental’, or ‘really existing’ is not entirely given by reality, but partially up to us.


Meta-ontology; Metaphysics; Ontological dependence; Phenomenal appearances; Reality; Svabhāva.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Lajos L. Brons


Sado, Niigata, Japan


About this article


26 July 2022


4 April 2023


24 April 2023


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Brons, L. L. (2023). What Is Real? Organon F30(2), 182–220.


Brons, Lajos L. 2023. "What Is Real?" Organon F 30 (2): 182–220.


Brons, L. L. (2023). What Is Real? Organon F, 30(2), pp. 182–220.

Copyright information

© Lajos L. Brons

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