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Elements of reality: a dialogue

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When we start with a scientific view of the world, we are at a loss when we try to deal with notions such as value, beauty, or meaning -- or more down to earth: anger, fear, joy, colour, smell, and other ‘secondary’ qualities whose putative reduction seems today as difficult as ever. Do these qualities then have to be put in by hand, so to speak? Or could it mean that the scientific view itself fails to capture aspects of reality at least as fundamental as basic physical notions such as space, time, energy? These were some of the questions that came up in conversations between an astrophysicist (Piet) and a philosopher (Bas) that began two years ago, as they met, often by accident, usually in a cafe for breakfast. What happens if a philosopher and a scientist discuss such questions? Well, this was an experiment, and here is the outcome. We still think of it as an experiment, an exploration, without any definite conclusion.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Piet Hut, School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ 08540, U.S.A. Email: 2: Email:

Publication date: 1997-02-01

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