Monday, March 28, 2011

Is Reality Just Number?

It should be apparent in the first instance that number is essential in quantitative terms.

The very notion of quantity implies some form of numerical ordering! What is not however so obvious is the realisation that number is equally essential from a qualitative perspective where it plays a holistic role complementary to what is accepted in conventional (quantitative) terms.

To appreciate this important point we can initially confine ourselves to the two most fundamental numbers 1 and 0. As we know these two digits can be used - as in modern computers - to successfully encode all information (in quantitative terms). However what is not commonly appreciated is that the same two digits can be potentially used to encode all transformation processes when used with respect to their holistic qualitative meaning.

So, as I have repeatedly stated, 1 in this context relates to the linear use of logic in the analysis of form and 0 to its corresponding circular use (as an indirect expression of the holistic awareness of emptiness).

Some appreciation of this latter holistic use of number can be obtained with reference to the mystical traditions.

In Western tradition the linear notion of form tends to dominate understanding. Not surprisingly, ultimate spiritual meaning is generally expressed as union with reality, which relates directly to the holistic appreciation of 1. In the more intuitively based Eastern spiritual traditions, by contrast ultimate reality is often referred to as "a void" or "emptiness" (i.e. nothingness) which represents the corresponding holistic appreciation of 0.

So all information and transformation processes can ultimately be encoded in terms of number. The next giant leap is then to appreciate that the phenomenal characteristics of reality that we observe are of a secondary nature representing dynamic number configurations (that combine both quantitative and qualitative characteristics).

Therefore at the most fundamental level of appreciation we cannot hope to interpret reality with respect to these mere phenomenal characteristics. This has important implications for physics as it implies that ultimate explanations cannot be obtained from the behaviour of phenomena but rather from the mathematical structure inherent in such phenomena. And this behaviour must combine both conventional analytic and the - as yet - (unrecognised) holistic aspects of interpretation.

Stating it again directly, reality as phenomenally observed represents the dynamic configuration of numbers with respect to both their quantitative and qualitative characteristics. And at the most general level this can be understood merely in terms of 1 and 0 (which is sufficient to provide a basic encoding for all information and transformation processes).

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