Sunday, May 26, 2013

Why I am a materialist

   Democritus (c. 375 BC)

'Materialist' is associated to varying degrees of identity with other identifiers: 'naturalist', 'physicalist', 'atheist', 'freethinker', 'skeptic'. I just simply call myself a materialist, and that should be enough.

Materialism has a long history, starting with Democritus ("Nothing exists except atoms and empty space, everything else is opinion." c. 400 BC), and on through Epicurus and Lucretius to the present day. Some argue there were materialists in India before Democritus.

Physicists today have other entities in their ontology — subatomic particles, strings, branes, quantum vacuum, wave function, Feynman paths, ... — but Democritus's quote is still applicable today. Some talk of fields, but "while our mathematical theories are expressed in terms of abstract fields, what we always measure is best described as particles."1

I am not only a materialist but also a codifist: Code is all that exists.2 But the code that is the fabric of nature is not completely deterministic.3 In one way to think of them, codes should be no more more surprising than fields.

I don't say one has to be a codifist to be a materialist, but I am.

1 Particles Are for Real
2 The Codifist Manifesto
3 Evolutionary code and the probabilistic lambda calculus