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What Is “Fundamental”
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
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Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Aditya Dwarkesh: on 2/25/18 at 10:46am UTC, wrote Dear Brajesh, Thank you very much, and thank you for commenting. Regards,...

Brajesh Mishra: on 2/25/18 at 6:02am UTC, wrote Dear Aditya, Thanks for appreciating my essay The Mysterious...

Aditya Dwarkesh: on 2/24/18 at 16:35pm UTC, wrote Dear Silviu, Thank you so much for your kind words! An axiomatic approach...

Aditya Dwarkesh: on 2/24/18 at 16:33pm UTC, wrote Dear Steven, I will read and comment on your essay in the relevant...

Aditya Dwarkesh: on 2/24/18 at 16:31pm UTC, wrote Dear Don Limuti, That was a well-thought and encouraging response, and I...

corciovei silviu: on 2/24/18 at 11:36am UTC, wrote Very nicely written Mr. Dwarkesh! I fully enjoyed your perspective and the...

Steven Andresen: on 2/23/18 at 13:59pm UTC, wrote Dear Aditya If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

Don Limuti: on 2/19/18 at 23:53pm UTC, wrote Hello Aditya, You did make this presentation fit in the space allowed. I...


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FQXi FORUM
November 19, 2018

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: 'Fundamentality' as a Linguistic Paradigm (and Linguistics as a Fundamental Paradigm) by Aditya Dwarkesh [refresh]
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Author Aditya Dwarkesh wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 19:32 GMT
Essay Abstract

The following article is my attempt to analyze the connotations of the word ‘Fundamentality.’ I have given as much emphasis to the nature of language and linguistics as I have to our current position as far as the physical sciences are concerned. By the end of it, it is my hope that the reader knows exactly what he is talking about when he uses the aforementioned word, and that the knowledge which was made in him extremely implicit becomes explicitly known.

Author Bio

Aditya Dwarkesh is interested in and fascinated by theoretical physics and analytic philosophy with nothing by his side to guide him on these swampy, unused roads but an immense amount of intense curiosity. He is in grade eleven studying at R. N. Podar Institute.

Download Essay PDF File

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Jan. 14, 2018 @ 15:12 GMT
Dear Adytia,

I found your essay enjoyable.

My opinion is different from yours, as you might like to read in my own essay. For me, fundamentality needs to be rooted in, and discriminated by, the empirical content of theories; it should be related to what we can learn from "nature". However, semantic problems are today overlooked, and should deserve further attentions.

Congratulations for the clarity of your thoughts at such an early stage of the student career, and good luck!

Flavio

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Jan. 16, 2018 @ 11:13 GMT
Dear Flavio,

Thank you so much for your response, and your encouraging words! I have posted my own thoughts on your essay in the relevant comments section.

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Heinrich Luediger wrote on Jan. 15, 2018 @ 11:57 GMT
Dear Aditya,

“Language is what we make it” – or are we what language makes out of us? Isn’t language a widely autonomous thing giggling about our attempts to make positive sense of it?

Heinrich

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Jan. 16, 2018 @ 11:17 GMT
Dear Heinrich,

I would say that both the statements you have made are correct. I suppose one can form a (very) rough parallel and say that it is a bit like how evolution shapes society, which in turn directs evolution further down the line. Certainly language determines what we are to a large extent, but it is also true that language could not exist without people to use it: Many have even claimed it to be purely operational in nature.

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh wrote on Jan. 16, 2018 @ 11:22 GMT
Apologies for the typo made in the title, it is supposed to read:

'Fundamentality' as a Linguistic Paradigm (and Linguistics as a Fundamental Paradigm)

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a l wrote on Jan. 17, 2018 @ 18:48 GMT
Dear Aditya,

reading your essay here has been a truly refreshing experience. Just now I would like to mention that my contribution to the topic seems to share some points with yours: we both write about 'bootstrapping' and weight on linguistics. To make things clearer I could say that I have reworked the well known Semiotic Triangle into something which is dubbed in the title "A fundamental loop".

Even if I have perhaps rather strong reservations about your view of the experts' role in determining meanings, your argumentation is impressive as whole.

Best

a.losev

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Jan. 18, 2018 @ 05:05 GMT
Dear A. Losev,

Thank you for your kind words. I just read your article; I myself am a great admirer of Hofstadter's thoughts, and to see you integrating him and Penrose in the way you did in this context was a great joy indeed! I can particularly see parallels in the wonderful Hofstadarian bootstraps we both have ended up with.

The lack of concrete answers at the end of your analysis does leave one wanting, but this lack of concreteness may well be what things are actually like-I suppose this is how the physics community felt back when the superposition was being discovered. Having read both Penrose and Hofstadter previously has made it a lot more palatable to me.

As for your comment regarding experts determining meaning-I highly recommend you read Hilary Putnam's paper "The meaning of 'meaning'" (which I have mentioned in my article) to get a more explicit and infinitely better description of what I am talking about.

Regards,

Aditya

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 17, 2018 @ 22:50 GMT
Dear Aditya Dwarkesh,

Language is your friend; you wield it like a sword. Normally I tend to judge on physical concepts and physical content, but I believe this contest has broader aims. In physics, formal models are supreme, but the question for this essay is more semantic, and beautiful prose is very appropriate.

Nevertheless, my own essay contains formal analysis. Specifically it analyzes the literary invention of additional time dimensions and shows how this essentially semantic action ricochets through physics for a century or more. Thus words are powerful, especially when called 'axioms'. I hope you will read and appreciate my essay, and I welcome your comments.

Korzybski reminded us "the map is not the territory." The word is not the reality, but it is the best map we have, particularly when buttressed with logic and math. When words such as "the relativity of simultaneity" are taken as gospel, the integral universe of time as universal simultaneity is fractured, and the effect of this on our consensus worldview is enormous. It is no exaggeration to state that such a fracture is difficult, almost impossible to overcome, and the result is a more schizophrenic worldview, "fundamentally" askew.

You discuss differences in worldview. Some, as your difference in 'string' and 'fields', are secondary in significance. Others, like our innate sense of time are first-order fundamentals. That is the focus of my essay analyzing the historical evolution of this fractured time and its non-intuitive consequences that come to be considered appropriate. Like many authors have stated in this contest, 'non-intuitive' is unlikely to be appropriate. It is more likely a serious sign that things have gone off the tracks. You imply something similar with

"...back when quantum mechanics was young and busy clobbering physicists over their heads with the shocks."

Ninety years would seem to be time to get the train back on the tracks, and enormous effort has been expended toward this goal, but we cannot yet get up a head of steam. Even today respected scholars do not know whether the wave function is ontological or epistemological.

I very much appreciate your essay and your skill with words, and I hope you will appreciate the ideas in my essay.

My very best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Jan. 18, 2018 @ 05:17 GMT
Dear Edwin,

Thank you for your comment; I'm glad you think so highly of language and my article!

Meditations on the nature of time have become some of the most important streams of post-Kantian thought. I must say, however, that I do feel a sense of reluctance towards committing myself to time in any ontological manner. Who knows what our perception of it will be after a few more million years of evolution? How different the world (mathematics, science, etc.) and its fundamental constituents must have been when we were all fishes! Certainly I may be wrong and time may be important in a sense that goes beyond evolution and other such things, but I do not think we have any answer to that question yet.

At any rate, in our current degree of evolved-ness, we can say very definitely that very little holds a position as important as time. With that in mind, I can say with complete honesty that you have made an exemplary analysis in your essay.

Regards,

Aditya

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Francesco D'Isa wrote on Jan. 23, 2018 @ 10:36 GMT
Dear Aditya,

being interested in philosophy of language, I found your essay very pleasurable, interesting and well written – it deserves my high vote. I found many interesting points in common with my essay as well, specially when you argument about the relative nature of languages and theories.

You write that "With respect to a given theory at a time T, its fundamental entities are the elements of a set which is both necessary and sufficient for the construction and explication of the theory in its entirety and does not contain any non-necessary elements.".

It's an interesting point, but since the properties of "construction and explication" are related to the speakers, it changes depending on them.

i.e: in a quote like "give me that apple", "give" and "apple" looks more fundamental. But if I've never seen an apple, "apple" is useless and I would require "red thing". If my listener doesn't speak English, I would need different words etc.

Good luck!

Francesco D'Isa

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Jan. 23, 2018 @ 16:02 GMT
Dear Francesco,

Thank you for your kind words.

I too found what you pointed out to be of interest! In fact, I have given this a mention in section 3: "Something to note here is that it is only the proponent himself who is in a position to decide which entities are required and which ones are not."

Regards,

Aditya

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 17:24 GMT
Dear Aditya,

For an 11th grader (16 year old?) you write extraordinarily well! Excellent writing and scholarship. I appreciated your linguistic take on `fundamental' and its association with `indispensable'.

I will come back with another post if I have something more to say.

What would you regard as fundamental, from the point of view of physical theories about the universe?

I do hope your essay will do well in this contest.

Tejinder

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Jan. 29, 2018 @ 10:31 GMT
Dear Tejinder,

Thank you so much for offering such encouraging words!

There are a whole lot of extremely speculative fringe physical theories out there that purport to explain it all; excluding those and looking only at the well-established ones, I suppose one could reasonably say that the quantum state (vector) and the procedure for deterministic Schrodinger evolution coupled with the procedure for the (decidedly non-deterministic) collapse of the wavefunction form a powerful trio.

Many (Roger Penrose and David Z. Albert most prominently) have also spoken of intimate connections between these and thermodynamics (particularly the second law)-but we are now once again inching into the land of speculation.

Then there also exists the behemoth that is Einstein's relativity.

Furthermore, calling the state-vector, etc. fundamental itself is a bit of a jump-we do not yet have a satisfactory explanation of how the quantum world gives rise to the classical world, although postulated phenomenon such as decoherence are getting to said explanation.

My technical knowledge is sadly lacking, so I cannot go into much further detail, but I think we can fairly say that this is a reasonably good approximation (given by a layman) of where our best physical theories stand.

Regards,

Aditya

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Narendra Nath wrote on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 03:46 GMT
Aditya, i really commrnd you for your boldness in expressing your thoughts in a public plateform. My first author too Anil Shanker was just a 15 year old boy without formal education when he gave a lecture on Physics to the faculty at Kurukshetra University. I am sure your talent too will see the light of the day soon. May i request you to look up our essay and comment on the same. I will do the same on your Essay too.

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Narendra Nath wrote on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 04:24 GMT
We all play with words and then say that we have expressed our opinion. Persons holding the same opinion in essaence may well use different words than i do. Thus, may i say that Silence has given rise all the words we use today. Words go on increasing with time as we find more things to say. In essence we mostly say what others have said or written about, give refrences to them but what is the net result. We add nothing to everything that already exists. Personally i feel expressing oneself with least use of words is a better communication. Comprehending proper understanding does not require long essays, the essence lies in few words therein. Again, my very best wishes for your future in the comity of humanity that exists in the world today!

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 06:28 GMT
Dear Narendra,

Thank you so much for these kind and encouraging words of yours! I like what you have to say about communication, and I shall be sure to read your essay.

Regards,

Aditya

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Don Limuti wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 23:53 GMT
Hello Aditya,

You did make this presentation fit in the space allowed. I do not think it was one gigantic cheat, but was this "fitting" indispensable?

1. I read the whole thing (really). Your writing was good enough to keep me going. The sprinkle of humor helped.

2. I liked the Wittgenstein quote: "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world". We are model makers (theory makers) and language is an important part in making and reading our models. This fits with: That which we cannot describe, we cannot comprehend.

4. You made you point: Language is fundamental! Nice job!

Don Limuti

PS: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

ATTRIBUTION: LEWIS CARROLL (Charles L. Dodgson), Through the Looking-Glass, chapter 6, p. 205 (1934). First published in 1872.

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 16:31 GMT
Dear Don Limuti,

That was a well-thought and encouraging response, and I thank you for it.

I like the piece from Carroll! Astonishingly relevant.

Regards,

Aditya

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 13:59 GMT
Dear Aditya

If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the final days of the contest, will you consider mine please?

A couple of days in and semblance of my essay taking form, however the house bound inactivity was wearing me. I had just the remedy, so took off for a solo sail across the bay. In the lea of cove, I had underestimated the open water wind strengths. My...

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 16:33 GMT
Dear Steven,

I will read and comment on your essay in the relevant comments section. Thank you for commenting!

Regards,

Aditya

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corciovei silviu wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 11:36 GMT
Very nicely written Mr. Dwarkesh!

I fully enjoyed your perspective and the way you put things together.

Rate it accordingly. Further words are useless.

If you would have the pleasure for a short axiomatic approach of the subject, I will appreciate your opinion.

Silviu

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 16:35 GMT
Dear Silviu,

Thank you so much for your kind words! An axiomatic approach would be a handsome contrast to my own approach; I shall certainly be looking at your essay.

Regards,

Aditya

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Brajesh Mishra wrote on Feb. 25, 2018 @ 06:02 GMT
Dear Aditya,

Thanks for appreciating my essay The Mysterious “Fundamental” ( https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2998 ).

Let me also congratulate you for successfully expressing yourself in a very lucid manner. I can't agree with you more. Your essay is very well establishing the limitations we human being face while attempting to demystify the mysteries of the Nature.

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Author Aditya Dwarkesh replied on Feb. 25, 2018 @ 10:46 GMT
Dear Brajesh,

Thank you very much, and thank you for commenting.

Regards,

Aditya

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