Code theory

  • is the theory that everything is codical in terms of some (domain-specific) language;
  • is the study of the program-linguistic aspect of a domain;
  • is philosophically based on synthetism vs. platonism.
  • The doctrine (everything is codical) is called codicalism.
  • There’s a DSL for that!
  • But what DSL, or extension of general-purpose language (GPLex) for a domain?
  • And what are the formulations (programs) in a domain?
  • The chapters of the book of nature may be written better in the languages of programming vs. the language(s) of mathematics.

(The above added on May 12, 2018.)


The Babble of Languages and the Substate of Nature is a collection of my explorations of code theory. Code theory (not to be confused with coding theory) isn’t a specifically defined subject, but it’s about the code that lurks in every domain, from philosophy to biology to physics to semiotics to advertising. And on and on. And of course, it has to do with programming, too.


codicalism = linguisticism + materialism

The confluence of linguisticism (everything is [natural or formal] language) and materialism (everything is matter).

Codicalism is thus a linguistic-material dualistic monism.


codicalism — From codical: relating to a codex* or a code.

* From caudex: “book, book of laws,” literally “tree trunk,” hence, book made up of wooden tablets covered with wax for writing.


There are two aspects of our world worthy of consideration: languages (including natural and constructed) and the substrate (the underlying substance of nature).

Languages are made from the substrate. The substrate is modeled by languages. The relationship is like the yang (“soft”) and yin (“hard”) of Taoism.

Languages (“soft” code), including domain-specific ones, are all around us. They define our culture and thinking.

Substrate (“hard” code) underlies everything. It is the ineffable, the experiential, the material.

That languages can model substrate can lead to some confusion: Don’t confuse models (expressions of a language) with the reality (substrate).

A vocabulary is not the reality

A simulation is not an assembly.

We have more precise and accepted languages about the substrate (what he Greeks called hyle). But what languages are ever finally settled and fixed?


These are aspects of codicalism — a new materialism.


The pragmatist coder/codicalist endeavors to make programs/languages that work best and doesn’t worry/’reify’ (too much!) about the (“lowest level”) machine/substrate that is executing/transcending them. It just does. But the “It” is still there whether there are coders or not.

The code theorist wonders: How does the symbiosis of (physical) language and the substrate (reality) work?


Instead of ‘Nature is a book written in the language of mathematics’, we should say: ‘Nature is a book written in the syntax of mathematics, but with the semantics of physics’.

Jeremy Butterfield


There are two types of existence:

exists (linguistic): Wittgenstein (“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”), Quine, etc.

Exists (material): The totality of physical stuff makes up everything in the cosmos.

The linguistic is ultimately material, but whether there are things that exist directly in things that Exist depends on whether there are true natural kinds.


Philip Thrift

Previous writings:


This collection of Notes is a notebook — in the spirit of notebooks of Kant, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, et al.


2 thoughts on “Preface”

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