"As I will try to show in this book, the virtual, strictly defined, has little relationship to that which is false, illusory, or imaginary. The virtual is by no means the opposite of the real. On the contrary, it is a fecund and powerful mode of being, that expands the process of creation, opens up the future, injects a core of meaning beneath the platitude of immediate physical presence." -- Pierre Lévy, _Becoming Virtual_, Introduction
Lévy's work made a big impression on me. It's partly in response to the tremendous interest in deep issues of Philosophy and the nature of Reality (yes, big R Reality), that were raised rather vividly into the public consciousness by "The Matrix" and other popular treatments of Virtual Reality. This work is considered difficult, but worth the effort for those, like myself, who felt a desire to reify (or live out) its implications. It's translated from its native French, and not all of its virtues, existing independent of language, may have survived the translation! ("Scattering a man's atoms all over the galaxy...!")
"Understanding Virtual" by Peter Russel, RWTH Aachen University, Germany
This seems a little more accessible, and like Russel's tactic of further abstracting the central concepts so as to allow a greater flexibility of conceptualization.
(Though he may seem a bit "flaky" to some of his more skeptical critics, the material he presents here seems rather reasonable to me. His presentations holding consciousness as existing prior to other phenomena, however, leave even a rather eager person such as myself a bit mystified. My own ideas on the subject hold that matter and information arise together, and are inseparable, but will we find out who is right anytime soon? I don't think so.)
You'll note that both authors love diagramming abstract concepts into profound and informative relationships and structures! P:D
It's coming time to explain that the concept of Phenomenal Worlds is not just fun and games.
Remember, Non-fiction and Academia is SRS BSNS!!!111!!!
"Objectivity" is Wishful Thinking
The worlds within which we all live, the narratives of our lives can be the source of a great deal of confusion. There is no person alive who decides or acts upon objective facts, data, or phenomena. We all decide, act, perceive, and live within worlds which are exclusively our own. We are the rather whimsical curators of a collection of sensations, which we relate to each other in whatever way we find most useful to our purposes; entertaining, motivating, maddening, emboldening, driving ourselves and others, psychologically, conceptually, emotionally, actively, passively, instinctively, perceptively, and intuitively through a progression of tasks, trials, tribulations, terrors, challenges, accomplishments, joys, sorrows, experiments, investments, gambles, games, romances, and wars.
If we understand all our passionate understandings to be Phenomenal rather than Objective, always in the First Person, rather than the Third Person, I believe we will have a much easier time of it.
It may be impossible to conceive of the historic context in which we as human beings arose without naturally thinking of ourselves as the goal or objective of these processes. Whether the process is covered by the academic subjects of Physics or Biology, whether we're discussing the Big Bang or evolution, the "end product", the "final cause", Humanity, is central to all our other concerns. We are the teleology of our own studies, and when we fail to eliminate teleology from our "objective" studies, should we really be surprised?
1. Did bosons condense out of the primordial Big Bang fully formed, or did they evolve from a much wider variety of particles? Did the Grand Atheist of the Universe snap his fingers and order up the bosons, just so?
2. The origin and usage of the word "objectivity"? Don't abstract concepts move further and further away from discrete objects?