Monday, February 16, 2009

On fundamental concepts

On the subject of what is "fundamental", it seems to me that any theory of reality has to have something fundamental at the foundation that is taken as a given.

With materialism, the foundation is energy, or maybe spacetime, or quantum fields, or some combination of all three. But unless you just accept the existance of these things as fundamental brute facts, the next question is obviously "What is energy?", or "Where did spacetime come from?", or "why does it work that way?". Even if you introduce a more basic concept (e.g., strings, or spin networks, or whatever), then you can ask the exact same questions about that new fundamental concept.

With a religious view, you say that some supreme being or supernatural force is at the foundation of reality. But this introduces the question of "What is God?" or "Where did God come from?" or "What is God's motivation?" or "How did God do these things?"

In my view, the best candidate for the fundamental core of reality is: information. With the extra assumption (which is well grounded I think) that certain types of information have conscious first person subjective experience (something similar to Chalmers' "double aspect theory of information",

The idea that information exists independently of any physical substrate, and without needing a source, (as in Modal or Platonic Realism) is I think not too big a stretch. And once you take this as your fundamental basis of reality, there really are no other questions. Everything else follows.

This does lead one to conclude that most conscious observers see chaotic and nonsensical realities, because most possible information patterns are random-ish and chaotic. BUT, so be it. We have examples of such conscious observers right here in every day life. People with schizophrenia, dementia, hallucinations, etc. All of these conditions are caused by disruptions in the information represented by the brain. Which is why I think that even starting with the assumption of physicalism, you're still lead back to idealism.

And of course, you have experience of nonsensical realities yourself, when you dream. I would say the worlds we encounter in our dreams are just as real (or unreal) as the world we see when we are awake, BUT we don't spend much time there, and when we wake our memories of the dream worlds fade and lose intensity. So we give them subordinate status.

So, to summarize, I would say that every possible conscious observer exists in a reality of their own perceptions. And every perceivable reality (both hellish and heavenly) IS perceived by every observer capable of perceiving it. And the reason for this is that the information for these perceptions exists in a platonic sense.

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