What is fundamental?

April 7, 2015 by Joshua
in Awareness, Nature, Perception

What can you not define in terms of other things?

I can define most things in terms of more fundamental things. Music is a bunch of sounds. Trees are kinds of plants. Books are assemblies of paper with writing on them.

Some things feel harder to define in terms of more fundamental things.

How do you define the color blue in terms of something more fundamental? You can describe photons and wavelengths, but I don’t think they capture the sensory perception. Same with sour, hot, or other perceptions.

What about emotions? How can you define happiness?

Maybe the issue is that some things are non-verbal concepts, implying they aren’t more fundamental, just that we can’t describe them. Colors and feelings seem to happen in another part of the brain than words. That explanation doesn’t feel adequate to me.

My science background suggests everything material breaks down to fundamental particles and a few measurable things like charge, mass, distance, and time.

I feel like our experience of them breaks down to our fundamental experiences of those things, like our perceptions, emotions, and so on.

I’m not sure where this line of questions will go, but I’m curious. I expect I’ll find out things I don’t know but suspect it will be along the lines that most concepts reduce to two fundamental sources nature and perception. Nature because as far as we know it has fundamental parts and perception because our experience enters our understanding in fundamental ways.

If anyone has thought about this or knows others who have, I’d love to learn more.

What do you think is fundamental and why? Does it make a difference?

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