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What is

Who are we? Why are we here? What is this place? These questions cry our over the centuries. They cannot be approached as we address other issues because there is no context in which to answer them. They are questions about the ultimate context of existence.

A similar situation exists with the fundamental laws of physics. We can explain why a chemical reaction occurs using quantum mechanics and the properties of fundamental particles. Some day we may able to explain the properties of fundamental particles by a deeper, yet to be discovered theory, but for now we simply take them as given as we do the laws of quantum mechanics. We discover these laws by looking for the simplest explanation that accounts for as wide a range of experimental results as possible.

We do this because it works. Much of the world, including some extraordinarily complex things, can be explained by simple laws. Once we understand such laws we often gain power to control the phenomena the laws describe. There are also esthetic reasons. Simple laws can be profoundly beautiful. But in the end it is utility that carries the day. That which works is adopted. Those that refuse to do so are less effective and over time their influence and power diminish.

The same approach can be applied to the fundamental philosophical questions. We can search for the simplest description of what we know to be true. The starting point in this search for simplicity is unifying internal experience with external `objective' reality.



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