Sunday, April 17, 2005

Base tables

Create a relational database describing the universe. There are people: John, Mary, and Susan. And there are planets: Earth, Mars, and Venus. We start out with two base tables containing the entities of people and planets respectively. Then we create queries on these tables and what we end up with is John's Earth, Mary's Earth, and Susan's Earth; John's Mars, Mary's Mars, and Susan's Mars; and John's Venus, Mary's Venus, and Susan's Venus. If we try to resolve the multiplicity of experienced planets, we can say that they derive from the base tables. Objective reality simplifies to the essential entities such as people and planets.

Except for one thing. Those essential entities were derived in the first place. And what were they derived from? The experiences that were supposedly derived from them. In other words, because an experience happened, we objectify it by deriving an experiencer and an experience. These objects are identified and categorized in base tables. Then retroactively the experiences from which they are derived are categorized as derived from them.

Before there was Susan or Earth, there was Susan's Earth. Mary's Venus preexisted either the planet or the person. After the entities were rationalized out, it was determined that there was a subject and object of that experience. The existence of those categories, and their population in base tables, "proves" that a complex reality is based on simple identies and categories. You can't fill out the scorecard unless you know who the players are. But who's keeping score? We are. We paper the walls of our world with printouts. But what are the databases based on? Where did the data come from? And how real are these entities it presumes to describe?

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