When I took the above photo recently, I was attracted by the shapes, large and small; when I processed it, I was stunned by how solid the large shadow form was. It presented itself as an object, tangible, in front of other objects, which made me think of Plato's "Myth of the Cave". In the myth prisoners are tied up in a cave where they can only see shadows cast on a wall, so of course they think that it is reality; what we think of as reality is also only a shadow. Plato believed that there are two worlds, the world of Being, an eternal world of ideal Forms, and the world of Becoming, our everyday world of representations.
I used to find this philosophy somewhat disturbing, as it seemed to point to a world that did not truly exist, a world I loved. But my thoughts changed: when I read about Kant writing that we couldn't really know the "thing in itself", only its physical manifestation, that began to make sense; it meant there was a transcendent reality that we could only glimpse. And recently I've been reading a wonderful book by a Buddhist monk, Anam Thubten no self no problem, which is a clear exposition of Buddhist philosophy which in some ways is similar to that of Western philosophy; instead of ideal forms, there is a rich Emptiness. As time goes on, these ideas, imperfectly understood by me, are seeming more attractive. But at the same time I am more and more entranced by the sheer abundant beauty of the world, and felt incredibly happy when I read this commonsense approach to an epistemological problem in Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Nature":
In my utter impotence to test the authenticity of the report of my senses, to know whether the impressions they make on me correspond with outlying objects, what difference does it make, whether Orion is up there in heaven, or some god paints the image in the firmament of the soul? ...Whether nature enjoy a substantial existence without, or is only in the apocalypse of the mind, it is alike useful and alike venerable to me.