Good to talk to you again.
***Paul, how can you be so confident that we are dealing with any portion of 'ultimate reality'? ... what is your premise? ***
I will give you the long answer and the short answer. First, the long answer:
I wrote out a long answer to your question in an old post which never got a response from anyone, including you. More recently, I posted a note to you at
which contains a link to that old, unanswered, post. You didn't respond to the recent one either. So, for the long answer, I ask you to go back and look at that original long answer to your question.
Now, the short answer:
I "can...be so confident that we are dealing with [a] portion of 'ultimate reality'" by making sure I keep straight what I know and what I don't know.
What I "so confidently" know about 'ultimate reality' is that it contains thought. Thus, it is not vacuous, and there is something. What I also "so confidently" know, is that "I" can, to some extent, control "my" thoughts, and I have excercised that control in many and various ways. ("I" and "my" are in quotes to indicate that I claim to know virtually nothing about what they are or mean.) In particular, I have thought about how to interact with what seem to be other people, and have discovered that I am able to communicate some of my thoughts to some of them, and likewise they to me. So, I have learned to talk, read, write, study, etc. I learned that mathematics is the development of consistent conceptual structures. I learned that I am in posession of a lot of information that I did not consciously dream up and which has a lot of seemingly consistent patterns (people call this 'sense data' putatively coming from the "outside world".)
I have also learned that some of the patterns which result from mathematics (pure thought), can be put into correspondence with patterns which come from "sense data". If we suppose that there is some connection between some of these "sense data" and some "ultimate reality", and if we can make a correspondence between the "sense data" and some theorems of mathematics, then I think we can be "confident that we are dealing with a portion of 'ultimate reality'".
Now, Harv, you know how I am with "isms". And I am no better with "ologies". But in spite of that, I think you need to do more separation of epistomological notions from ontlogical notions. I think that mathematics has nothing to do with any external or real world. And, I think that we have virtually no access to anything true about any "ultimate reality", or at best, if we do, we don't (or even can't) know that we do.
But we have discovered, to our great benefit, that we can make correlations between mathematical structures, and patterns of this "sense data", to make useful predictions about the behavior of our world.
What Dick has done, is to discover a very fundamental theorem which can be put into correspondence with any set of "sense data" conceivable. And the correspondence of that theorem with anything that might be "ultimate reality" makes predictions that yield a priori most of the laws of physics.
I think it is astounding!