One time, I was thinking of all the different attempts to explain all of reality in terms of a small set of principles and I realized there were three different categories of them. I call them the matter-energy approach, the space-time approach, and the mind-spirit approach. Because they approach reality from completely different perspectives, they do not contradict each other and so might be equally true.
Matter-Energy: In this approach matter and energy are all that exist. Matter is convertible into energy through annihilation. Mass (resistance to change in velocity) is caused by the Higgs energy field. All energy fields come in discrete quanta and all fundamental particles come with quantum-mechanical wave functions. All fields are expressible in terms of a single, unified field that manifests itself differently in different situations. The mind and spirit are actually just manifestations of material interaction, such as a network of firing neurons. Space and time are actually just manifestations of material interaction too, creating imaginary phase-spaces. For example, suppose a set of particles existing on top of one another in a point of zero dimension were able to take on different values of some property existing along a spectrum, such as color. Suppose that particles were able to interact strongly with other particles of the same color but weakly with particles of the next color on the spectrum and very weakly with particles of a color further along the spectrum. Should any sentient citizens inhabit this zero-dimensional realm, they would interpret color as a spatial dimension. In the same way, all dimensions are illusions in this approach. Models tending to focus on matter and energy include Newtonian gravity, quantum electrodynamics, quantum chromodynamics, super-symmetry, and the idea that we might be living in a holographic simulation running on a computer of fewer spatial dimensions than we observe inside our simulation. It is the most popular approach of thinkers in this age.
Space-Time: In this approach space and time are all that exist, forming a cohesive “spacetime,” the only difference between them being that objects extend along the temporal dimension forever, even when they are spatially small. Each particle experiences time in a different direction depending on its velocity. Particles themselves are merely tiny regions of highly curved space, affecting the way other particles move around them. These effects are “fictitious forces.” Matter is an illusion. The topology and geometry of all the dimensions of spacetime (including some that may be tightly curved to be very small in extent) are what give rise to everything we interpret as forces. Models tending to focus on space and time include special relativity, general relativity, and the Kaluza-Klein theory. This approach was popular in the first half of the twentieth century but has since stalled.
Mind-Spirit: In this approach only information exists. Starting with the sure knowledge that the mind exists (without which we could not know anything), students of this school of thought break the mind down into its fundamental building blocks (e.g. perceptions, sensations) to understand it. These are measured and classified. In the same way that characters in a script or dream are mere manifestations of a higher consciousness (the writer or dreamer), we and our universe are a manifestation of some higher mind. By our minds being extensions of this same supermind we are all connected. The only reason we believe that minds require brains and therefore matter to exist is because those are the current rules inside this dream. Matter, energy, space, and time are nothing but illusions created by the mind. Physics is a result of bits of information copying and destroying each other. The mind-body problem is solved by not having bodies. This approach has been hinted at in limited ways by philosophers and religious leaders throughout history. Cellular automata is a related idea. It came closest to being true science in the work of Descartes and Locke, but has since stalled.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.