Friday, April 22, 2016

It From Bit?

If I am serious about the possibility of reconceptualizing reality I should be willing to at least consider John Wheeler's It from Bit postulate. To do this I am reading Aguirre and Foster's It From Bit or Bit from It, Springer, 2015.

Actually, the history of a computational reality notion dates back to Konrad Zuse. Zuse called it the computing universe. See, The Computer - My Life, Springer-Verlag, 1993, pg 175.

If all we really experience is Hume's bundle of perceptions or Lewis' observational terms it might make sense to ground our ontology on information. One could stop there and call it idealism?

Thalos has attacked the idea that we should be trying to describe everything on some one single lowest level of reality (See, Without Hierarchy, M. Thalos, Oxford Univ. Press, 2013).  Others suggest there is not one single "correct" or "best" ontology. (See, The Logic of Reliable Inquiry, K. Kelly, Oxford Univ. Press, 1996 and Constructing the World, D. Chalmers, Oxford Univ. Press, 2012) This is in line with scientific pluralism.

Asa H's ontology seems to evolve over time and depend upon the order in which it receives its experiences.

What is the "best" ontology will depend on what I'm using it for.  Quantum fields might be the best description of ultimate reality but they would not be the best vocabulary with which to talk with friends in daily life.  They might not be the best basis for a private language or language of thought either. This was a reason for adopting scientific pluralism. Even in a single branch of science one might find use for several different "languages." The Heisenberg picture of quantum mechanics versus the Schrodinger picture for example. Are wave functions a function of time?  Are operators a function of time? 

It would seem that we need several different (but possibly overlapping) ontologies. And I expect these to change over time.

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