Virtual Places as Real Places: A Distinction of Virtual Places from Possible and Fictional Worlds

  • Tobias HolischkaEmail author
Part of the Contributions To Phenomenology book series (CTPH, volume 95)


The development and spreading of personal computers has changed our lives in many ways. One of them is the notable fact that we are confronted with virtual reality at an increasing rate. At first glance, one might think about video games and similar forms of entertainment, but meanwhile many other technology-related aspects are virtual as well, like social networks, email accounts, and even bank accounts. Some are part of our lifeworld, others are perceived to be ‘unreal’ – fictional, illusory, deceptive. A specification of the ontological status of virtual environments seems necessary. Therefore, we need to state more precisely what we’re actually speaking of by virtual reality. An interesting approach arises from thinking the virtual in terms of place: Where do video games take place? Where exactly is money in a bank account? Where are private email conversations stored? Virtual places are a suitable concept to explore computer-generated virtual reality, as it is independent from any specific content and hence allows a fundamental analysis. On this basis, we can compare virtual places with one another, with other non-material places like fictional places, and correlate them with the places of our lifeworld. This paper investigates the ontological status of virtual places by distinguishing them from fictional places and merely (logically) possible worlds. Virtual places thereby prove to be limited by consistency and human imagination, but also offer new features like interactivity and direct referencing of other users. As a spatial foundation for actual actions, they are part of our lifeworld.


Place Virtual Reality Possibility Potentiality Modal logic Fiction Video games Philosophy 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Catholic University of Eichstätt-IngolstadtEichstättGermany

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