This chapter opens with a question arising from sensory biology: How might we conceive of a “real world” or “common environment” shared by organisms with vastly different perceptual systems? Two ways of conceiving of “the real world” or “existence” are discussed: inherent existence and contingent existence; and the significant differences between them are detailed. Two concluding sections, “What contingentism is not” and “Encouragement to stick with a challenging topic,” address common misconceptions and anxieties that may arise in these considerations of alternative ways of conceiving existence. Major misconceptions include the conflation of contingentism with nihilism, solipsism, idealism, quietism, or, simply, some kind of world- or reality-denial. Anxieties include the sense that contingentist views (or the views with which they are, sometimes mistakenly, grouped) are dangerous, mystical, obscure, or impractical. In addressing the potential worries of readers early on, the chapter may allow them to be more open to engaging these views fully.
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