Sometimes I like to describe fundamental concepts with visual examples. What I provide below, via a flow diagram, is a very high level view of what life is and how individuals do it, a few very well and most not so well. I suggest that you take a brief look to capture the process and then proceed to the definitions.
Reality is: The necessity to draw attention to reality comes from the fact that almost all philosophers from ancient history to the 20th century were too feebleminded to accept the obvious, or liars promoting slavery in disguise. One most notable exception was Aristotle. We owe him a major debt of gratitude for getting humanity headed down a sensible path of evolution. We are Ö period. Existence exists. "A" cannot be "~A" and these understandings are a primary essential to underpin all human progress.
Subjectivism, mysticism and associated altruism are destructive idiocies. None of them lead to human progress. Objectivism is the only formal sensible philosophy today in a world of weaker intellects pandering to or cruelly using humans, by vox populi, the massively ignorant herd mentality and behavior. Egoism, the individual value, the life lived by and for the individual, executed by exchanging productive value for value by mutual choice unconstrained with other productive individuals stands alone as the only moral path. You may choose to use your earned resources to help those in need who cannot exchange value for value, but there is no fundamental responsibility to do so, except for your nuclear family, the origin of responsibility being of your own choice.
Sense: Your physical senses donít lie. Too many of us have knowledge in common to dismiss or demean the critical value of our sensory input to living successfully. We learn that our biological sensory input is incomplete, through hard physical science, not mysticism. Beyond that the quality or acuteness of sensory input is less for humans than many animals around us, but what we have is valid, and not subject to philosophical conjuring or denial on any basis.
Perceive: When you put enough sensory data together in patterns of repetition you grasp meaning within a context. You do this as an infant, without rationalizing. For example, you learn to nourish yourself efficiently at your motherís breast. Also, you know nothing fundamental at all about crying or how/why you do it, but you do learn that crying gets maternal attention, and you capitalize on that knowledge.
Learn: Assemble enough variety of perceptual understandings and you begin to categorize them, to see interrelationships across categories and to act upon your sensory inputs to meet your goals. Most learning is storage and use of perceptual understandings based on your real life events. It is unbounded except by your environment, your motivation and your inherited aptitudes. We are not equal.
Apply: The act of living demands successful use of sufficient learnings. Otherwise, you die, or your quality of life is degraded to subhuman compared to those who can and do learn effectively. For the fortunate, as you experience life you recognize that other classes of learnings must be external to your experience, for things exist and things happen that you do not fully understand. You ponder, then you perform research to expand your knowledge. You learn at a gut level through negative experiences with some humans that ignorance is immoral if they have the ability and the option to eliminate it and fail to do so, particularly when their self-inflicted ignorance results in them being needy.
Conceptualize: That you reflect on your experiences is a good sign. That you search beyond your actual experiences and integrate actual and learned experience, through research and experimenting, is critical, and a sign of higher intelligence. If you are successful you make the connection that you can plan, indeed engineer the present and the future. You proceed to do so. But first you must personalize your learnings with active experiences using them and readiness to modify your understandings based on efficacy of results. Thinking alone without a plan of action is of little or no value to you or potentially to anyone else.
Create: When you plan you have goals. You conceive, design and implement steps to reach those goals. You create the new, or you learn that you need more knowledge or better ways of using the knowledge you have obtained and/or developed. Your goals may expand or in different ways be modified based on your experiences. Your methods improve if you follow the feedback loop and avoid analysis paralysis.
FEEDBACK LOOP: Now, follow the diagram: Iterate. Grasp that progress requires many individual cycles by and for and only for creative individuals.
From what you have read so far you should easily have picked up on two themes: 1) All normally healthy humans share the same type of learning process, and 2) Only the fortunate few who have and are able to use sufficient inherited ability to create progress for humanity do so via the learning process.
You should also have absorbed after reading the description of Reality that a lot of our so-called intellectuals from non-scientific areas, the Humanities, wail in distress and make wildly negative assertions about human limits. They presume the necessity of and insist on social structures that are characterized by powerful control systems that unfortunately put non-productive people in positions of political power, allowing them to steal the fruits of the productive.
These "intellectuals" have done damage for the past four hundred years as part of Western Civilization, and even earlier elsewhere. This turns out to reflect primarily their frustration at being unable to mold humans into a form that allows non-material based societal evolution. They have typically failed to realize that the material they are working with, the human, must itself be improved at the most fundamental levels before the non-scientific types can produce progress via their own chosen fields of endeavor. So instead they invent theories about society and human depravity that are utterly nonsensical and destructive to the enjoyment of life, consistent with their individual levels of irrationality in their theories. They were and they are the antithesis of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in which one prospers from one's own efforts and is not robbed of his production.
What you reviewed in the flow diagram illustrated process steps that when executed are unique in the life of each individual, though common in structure to most of us but not all of us, for the mentally handicapped cannot participate. That we experience mutual existence in a physical sense with other humans on this planet is an incidental. That we build on knowledge developed by others and ourselves is not incidental, but the primary is the individual, not the group.
There is no such thing as a group conceiving anything. Each iterative loop that expands your knowledge is an entirely individual process that typically makes use of the surrounding environment and at times other people, but it is not a group process. Productive individuals can choose to work with other productive individuals in a group setting and create, and be the genesis of, powerful human progress.
The implication is that activities that develop the individual and fully compensate the individual for essential contributions to progress can yield useful results for the individual and the group, indeed for the entire society. This is contrasted to activities and ideologies that respect primarily the needs of the larger mass of humanity that diminish or undervalue the essentiality of the creative individual. Those socialistic activities/structures weaken the realization of the creative individualís potential by limiting his necessary environment and thus his results, so progress in an altruistic environment is in turn necessarily limited and very slow. When it does occur it is accomplished at great cost, primarily because of backward thinking and ancient and often cruel methods of using people as work animals instead of using modern machinery. Simply look at the history of the massive human toil and suffering and death of interned Gulag prisoners in the hundreds of thousands, many of the people being shot, to create the 191 kilometer long Moscow Canal serving Moscow that connects the Moskva and Volga rivers. Collectivism, the first (and nasty) cousin of altruism, resulted in a stifled society, the Soviet Union, that ultimately failed in the 1980's. At the root, the problem with collectivism/communism is lack of respect for the primacy of the individual, and thus no real respect for human rights or the potential contributions that might have been made by creative people.
Pulling the train for the unimaginative or the incompetent crushes progress, for they expand in number continuously and consume massive resources without making any useful contribution to human progress. Socialism, thanks to the efforts of the misdirected and frustrated Humanities type of intellectual, is the present governmental destroyer of progress in Western Civilization, since the mass of humanity and their misguided representatives can vote to consume more than they produce. Socialism is highly destructive to human progress.
Similarly, and of equally high danger, is the millennia old work of the religionists, who attempt at every turn to stifle progress from scientific research and subsequent development and societal change. They too use the ignorance of the masses to support and enforce, sometimes indirectly, the holding back of human progress. For example, any activity that threatens to produce something entirely new to human society, like genetic engineering, is received with total negativity, with the accusation that people are "Trying to play God," which in itís very concept is idiotic. They have accomplished their power plays by misdirecting the masses to believe an afterlife fairy tale containing a demanding God that somehow never shows up for us to see, that is supposed to be the ultimate power. It is the ultimate scam used to defraud and control billions of people.
Put the combined idiocies of the "intellectual" socialists and the religionists together and you have a recipe for disaster, one that is finally producing global environmental and economic/political disaster now. This has been accomplished, thanks to the inappropriate use of the fruits of science and industry, particularly in feeding the mass of humanity with no sensible progress goal in mind and with poorly thought out purpose, creating ever more incompetent consumptive people.
Apart from the weak and absurd posturing of different anti-rational Humanities "intellectuals" over many centuries, you can, for example, also thank Judaism, Islam and Christianity for this combination of disasters because of such absurd things as 1) Original sin, and 2) Gender suppression, and 3) Altruism. You can thank the official church structures, especially the Catholic Church, for creating a hierarchy of rulers of mensí minds, and thus making any acts subject to their sanction and this results in avoidance of progress, e.g. the church stance regarding birth control and also genetic engineering. Religionists have down through the centuries viciously fought the truths discovered by hard physical science that debunk the religious myths, and thus rightfully undermine the scam.
Note how you would react if you were told you had to pay a heavy tax forever based on the crimes of your grandfather. That is the product of the whole idea of Original Sin, in which the gaining of actual knowledge in itself was the sin, based on violating a directive from a most demanding, unreasoning God that humans were to forever remain ignorant. The symbolic significance of that absurdity alone underpins undeserved assignment of guilt for the acts of being born and living.
What kind of sickness creates a societal structure where half the people, the women, are severely suppressed? Islam, of course, and you will also find a similar form of unreasoning gender suppression among certain fundamentalist Christians. And finally, the preaching of altruism within Christianity is a strong contributor to the very poor political decisions that have resulted in rampant, out of control Socialism in the USA and elsewhere. We appear to be in the business of breeding losers, and in that effort we are very successful, to our own destruction.
Ponder what I have written. See if your actual life experiences support my points and if the evolution of humanity is leading to anything great instead of only consumptive actions, to the detriment of our environment and to each other. See if you can place the mass destruction of human life, via war and famine, into the context of addressing overpopulation, the net result of mindless socialism. This is not a new story in the history of man. But it is one that belongs in the dustbin of history, with us understanding the abominable ignorance of our ancestors and their far from perfect institutions, but not accepting the influence and destructiveness of that ignorance in the present.