Some codicalist metaphysics

In codicalism, the relationship

epistemology (E) ↔ ontology (O) is mapped to
program (P: in some language L) ↔ computing substrate (Σ).

In instrumentalism: model (M) ↔ reality (R).

One could have a bunch of candidates.

P₁:L₁ ↔ Σ₁
P₂:L₂ ↔ Σ₂

(Here using latin letters for languages, greek for substrates.)

If they can’t be differentiated based on experimental data, then they are observationally equivalent.

Science vs. philosophy:
a codicalist (programming linguistic) perspective

Given two language (L) ↔ substrate (Σ) pairs

Lˢ ↔ Σˢ
Lᵖ ↔ Σᵖ

questions are posed in terms of differences between the Ls and the Σs.

Codicalism can be viewed as a yang-yin combo of computationalist epistemology and physicalist ontology.

Philip Thrift

Simulating vs. Assembling

Given a DSL (domain-specific language) program p that models something in nature, p can be compiled into (the target object) a simulation Sml(p) or an assembly Asm(p). Sml(p) is code that runs in a conventional computer, e.g., Intel machine code. Asm(p) is the output of what was once called a matter compiler, which is now technology that assembles what is called programmable matter.

An example would be a simulation of a worm and a synthetic biological assembly of a worm (from the same source code). The latter can live in the world interacting with its chemicals, while the former can only light up pixels on a screen.

For more, see Being conscious of difference between simulating and assembling consciousness.

Philip Thrift

The Babel of Languages and the Substrate of Nature

Babel of Languages

On one side, we grow languages, for ourselves and our machines to come to grips with the world. On the other side, there’s a (possibly ultimately) ineffable substrate that appears to be some kind of gigantic, heterogeneous network of unconventional, natural computers. The specialized languages (known as DSLs) are domain-specific. Questions of reducibility are reduced to questions of translatability. The sciences are (dis)unified* by their various DSLs, each one an effort to reverse engineer some aspect of nature.

(Even using the word “substrate” puts one on the language side. It’s more like The Babel of Languages and the @!$%&^*~+ of Nature.)


* cf. Special sciences (or: The disunity of science as a working hypothesis)


Philip Thrift


There are many UMs (Universe Metaphysics) that have been proposed: MUM (Mathematical), TUM (Tegmarkian), DUM (Darwinian), SUM (Structural), CUM (Computational), PUM (Physical), … .

What I’ve proposed is a yang/yin-like UM: PLUM/CHUM (Programming Languages / Computing Hardware).

One side of PLUM/CHUM is the babel of languages that come into being to model the world; on the other side, the perhaps-ineffable substrate of the world.

I call this interplay of languages and substrate codicalism.

Philip Thrift



Codosophy — As a word, it is the merging of coding and philosophy. As a subject, it is the interplaying of the programmatical and the physical. (It can also be defined as either the coding of knowledge or the code of knowledge.)

The ‘-ism’ – – of codosophy is codicalism (from codical: relating to a codex, or a code).

languages ↔ substrate
syntax ↔ semantics
information ↔ matter & energy
epistemology ↔ ontology
source code ↔ object code
code is data ↔ code is material*

PLUM (Programming Languages Universe Model)
CHUM (Computing Hardware Universe Model)
* see Code is Material

The role of science is to reverse code engineer (RCE) some aspect of reality (AOR) into some domain-specific [programming] language (DSL).

Codicalism is pragmatism in that it chooses
• programming over theory
• substrate over meaning
• pragmas over truths

By not confusing (modeling) languages and (computing) substrate, codicalism avoids platonism:

Many physicists have uncritically adopted platonic realism (the belief that the objects within the models of theoretical physics constitute elements of reality) as their personal interpretation of the meaning of physics.
Physicists are philosophers, too

• physical space = natural space + artificial space
• artificial space includes infinitary-domain languages (IDLs)
Question: Does a platform (computing substrate) exist in natural space for running IDLs?

(I have left aside for now the possibility of nonphysical substrates: minds, platonic structures, gods and demons, … . See also The Dualism of Physicalism.)

The “It’s models almost all the way up and almost all the way down” comes originally from Ronald Giere.

The underlying substrate of nature is 100% physical/material/whatever, but our models of it are made from languages of our own construction.

One should not confuse the models (or components of the models) with the substrate (or components of the substrate). That is platonism.

An earlier version of codicalism is what I called codifism (from “codify”). Codifism could be seen though as the active aspect of codicalism (i.e., creating new languages, codifying). So one can be a codosopher, codicalist, codifist, or coder.

Philip Thrift