Jul 14, 2020
Not sure how this could relate to anything for anyone, but just felt like posting this.

First, David Tong wrote a Silver Prize winning essay about the non-discrete, pre-integer nature of reality here.

The most fundamental scientific disciplines point to base reality (as far as we can probe it) being a continuous process, not a space of discrete countable parts, but fields of fluid events spread through space.
Particles are not fundamental because there are no fundamental particles at a certain base level, but small ripple effects within bigger continuous energy fields.

Particles emerge as a higher level property from those lower-level fields, and the integers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc) seem to emerge along with particles, so discrete mathematics cannot be part of the basis of reality either. We create mathematics (or perhaps we both create and discover it, since much of observable reality seems describable and analyzable in terms of it) and computers, and then make the mistake of thinking that all of reality must in itself (objectively) obey the rules of those creations, or be somehow just a bigger version of those things (the universe is just a big computer, isn't it?). This is in fact a fallacy of composition.
In the same way, modern neuroscience has become hostage to the idea that the human brain must somehow operate analogously to the computers and algorithms it has itself invented.
If that were the case, computers would never have been created.

But if reality is not digital or discrete, then hypotheses like the simulation theory are mistaken. Unless computers in an asymptotic future do not function computationally, but have somehow harnessed the processing power of pre-particle continuous fields.

Also, reality at the base level appears to be intrinsically indeterministic, the energy waves embody probability distributions which seem to get filtered down and narrowed according to observer effects, which initiate a wave function collapse of the quantum system. Perhaps discrete particles with definite velocities or definite positions, and numbers, are only functions of the interactions of observers with the primary energy fields. Even our description of the energy fields in terms of probability matrices could be an effect of our interaction with those fields. Pure pre-quantum particle energy may go beyond dichotomies like deterministic/indeterministic, probabilistic/certain, causal/acausal.

What I'm trying to get at is that I find it strange that determinism is still the standard view in pop culture about how reality operates, and that the idea that the universe is just one big machine made of tiny interacting parts playing out according to iron-clad laws is such a pervasive trope even in some popular physics.

The only thing we can actually be certain about epistemologically is that experience/consciousness is a part of reality, and that it is felt to be continuous and not discrete. Experience-events in the present overlap with indefinitely many immediate past experience events, converging to possible future experience-events, all in a time-movement, what Whitehead called 'prehension', or what Bohm might have called a 'holomovement'. We experience this prehension as possessing a degree of freedom, we don't experience ourselves as being compelled to an inevitable future, except in extreme circumstances involving coercion or threats, when under the influence of certain drugs, etc. This feeling of freedom introduces the possibility of creativity and novelty.

Perhaps the fact that the energy fields at base reality resulted in higher-level relations of differentiation and alterity, complexity and life, implies that some type of freedom exists even at that fundamental level, in the form of a creative impulse which is not compelled deterministically (since it's not a mechanical discrete system operating according to an algorithm) but somehow 'chooses' routes along a garden of innumerable forking metaphysical paths according to some unknown principle.

We don't know how far down consciousness goes. Perhaps there are degrees of it which gradually reach a minimum level but never completely extinguishing, that level going below even organic life. There is a case for supposing that it is logically prior to brains at a minimum, and at a maximum that is must tunnel down to the fields of fluid events mentioned at the beginning. As W. James said: "we ought ourselves to try every mode of conceiving the dawn of consciousness that it may not appear equivalent to the irruption into the universe of a new nature, non-existent until then..consciousness, however little, is an illegitimate birth in any philosophy that starts without it, and yet professes to explain all facts by continuous evolution."

So it could be degrees of subjective experiences all the way down in a network of relations of fluid events, in a process of continuous becoming, underpinned by the metaphysical impetus of some creative principle. The universe is not a machine or a computer.

But who knows why or wherefore.
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