X-Message-Number: 21688
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 00:04:17 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Symbolic Reality

Thomas Donaldson writes:

>You claim that the world is fundamentally symbolic. What are
>your reasons for this claim? Please don't cite some philosopher:
>give your own reasons.

I think the discreteness of events, as implied by quantum mechanics, and 
the laws of physics add up to the property that, in effect, history is 
fundamentally computational in nature. A good piece of evidence favoring 
this is the possibility of a universal quantum computer, or its refinement, 
what is referred to as a universal quantum simulator.

>  In what way is the warmth of a fire
>symbolic? Or the beauty of a sunset, or the horror of a car

Well, you'd have to consider carefully just what is going on in a brain 
when these things are experienced. Everything that goes on, whatever it may 
feel like, is reducible to the interactions of fundamental particles, 
mainly electrons, photons, and atomic nuclei made of protons and neutrons. 
To give the details would be a rather long story, of course, but the level 
of fundamental particles is relatively easy to view as "symbolic" or 
computational, for the reasons I've given. Once again I'll say that the 
appearance of non-symbolicality in what happens is, in my view, an illusion 
comparable to the apparent infinite divisibility of matter.

Mike Perry

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