The great empirical philosopher, George Berkeley (1685-1753), believed that matter cannot exist independent of perception, thus reality only exists in the mind, Sydney. He argued, however, that God organises sensations to give the impression of a real world. Bishop Berkeley's theory, summed up in his dictum, "Esse est percipi" (To be is to be perceived), contends that individuals can only directly know sensations and ideas of objects, not abstractions such as "matter".
René Descartes (1596-1650) declared "Cogito ergo sum" (I think therefore I am) as the only proposition not open to doubt. A dualist, he separated mind and matter as incompatible substances. Was Berkeley therefore saying, in contrast, "I perceive therefore I am"? Yes and no. Jean-Jacques Rousseau came up with the more romantic idea that "I feel therefore I am", to which Karl Marx might have responded "I act therefore I am". The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it?
So "Tony" Blair only exists in my mind, Sydney, and perhaps even in your mind, too! We cannot but agree! But that does not mean that "Tony" Blair is not real. According to Immanuel Kant, "Tony" Blair is possible and actual, although whether he is necessary is a matter of some debate. He is certainly necessary for this very discussion to take place. So "Tony" Blair is real!
The scientific method is based upon the idea that we state a null hypothesis, for example, that there is no difference between "Tony" Blair and a unicorn, and then set up an experiment to demonstrate whether or not there is a difference. The world is not necessarily a kind of hypothesis, however. This is simply how we choose to explore it scientifically.
Immanuel Kant argued that the world is possible, actual and necessary. The world's existence is clearly necessary to our existence, Sydney. The world is therefore no hypothesis; the world is real!
Well the one thing that we know for certain about any hypothesis is that it is untrue! No truth will ever be revealed through following the way of hypotheses.
Here is how they work: a very very kleines c when two years old observed a vaguely moving blob with arms, legs, and a deep voice. "Dada!" exclaimed the infant. That was kleines c's hypothesis, and the word "Dada" gained a vague definition. But some time later it eventuated that that working hypothesis had been false; the blob had in fact been one of the uncles. The word "Dada" was thus redefined in the infant mind to signify thenceforth one rather more specific moving blob, and the other blobs - similar but different - were assembled into a separate category. And so it goes on throughout life - a great and growing edifice of falsehood! Not so much Kant as Hegel. "Tony" and Eric are those blobs ten thousand times refined.
And be it noted that an utterance (spoken or expressed) does not in essence differ from any observation or perception or thought (unspoken).
So, may our membership delight in a year to come, ever further stuffed with falsehood as it may be!