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Structural realism

July 29, 2020 12:16am

Structural realism

Structural realism is often characterised as the view that scientific theories tell us only about the form or structure of the unobservable world and not about its nature. This leaves open the question as to whether the natures of things are posited to be unknowable for some reason or eliminated altogether.


I was watching What is a Theory of Everything: Livestream, and after that I came accross an article on David Bohm, Implicate Order and Holomovement. Reading about Bohm or things written by him always put me in a different state of mind, one where everything is is about "wholeness". After thinking about internal structures and wholeness, I remembered also Philipp Berghofer (Graz): Ontic structural realism and quantum field theory. Berghofer held a talk in Belgrade a few years ago, and still today, I consider it one of the biggest influences on my thinking. It was the first time that my brain thought about wholeness and interconnectedness on a level so personal and profound to myself, that I can recall it at any moment, due to its vividness and importance. Finding work by Bohm was only a natural extension of such thinking.

Mulling around these things, I again looked at all the important things that I've been either thinking about recently or have just haunted me for a while:

  • "who" is the "observer"? "who" is making a measurement?

(For some time I consider "measuring" a process of "mapping", i.e. they are one and the same basically.)

  • "Who" is doing the computation over the Universe? "Who" is evolving state of the Universe from one to the next?
  • "Who" is conscious? "Who" is having the properties of consciousness? "Who" experiences the reality (the qualia of it as well)?
  • "Who" or "what" does the mappings? Again, how does one evolve the state of the Universe?

Combining all of these into one arguably logical, correct or sensible sentence, I got this:

A conscious something experiences reality and does a computation over it, which is a measurement, a mapping itself.

So, in this case, I've considered that something is conscious and has experience of the reality, and inadvertently or not, does an action of computation, which on its own is an act of transition, of mapping, and in doing so creates an outcome that we call measurement. But of course, there's still a bunch of other questions:

  • what is "something"?
  • why does it have conscioussness?
  • why does it experience the reality?
  • why "it" exists?
  • is going through a reality then a state machine?
  • is there a free will and how do laws of physics fit in?
  • ...

It's fun to think about this, and somehow putting all of these into one sentence makes it all seem less intimidating and mysterious. Somewhere at the intersection of these questions is an answer to it all, that I am sure of.