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


Philip Thrift

Previous writings:


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


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