the idea of the universe being a projection?

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I’ve read a lot about the idea that everything we experience is simply a projection or simulation. I have trouble wrapping my head around this idea though.

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Read simulacra and simulation.

Essentially, society has replaced reality with symbols and signs to the point that our reality, as we perceive it, is actually a simulation.

Think about the movie and novel American psycho.

The scene from the movie where he examines the business card admiring the stock, type, etc.

Or in the book where there’s pages of just listing things he owns.

Basically, our reality is shaped and composed of false idols, serving as imperfect placeholders of true experience. Objects and symbolism eclipsing true experience.

The media and societal constructs literally determine our realities in modern times therefore, reality is so changeable and mushy it has become meaningless and the way we live our lives is not based upon actual reality whatsoever. So it is a simulation

What you’re talking about is extremely abstract and not going to boiled down much more than that.

Have you watched the Matrix?

It’s similar to that.

The inherent idea is that everything we know, see, feel, taste, are, is just created by a computer.

The universe, everything we see, and even us are just bits of data running at a very high resolution to the point that we can’t tell the difference.

Like how Sims in the video game don’t know they’re in a game, except we’re much more complicated than that.

There are two distinct concepts here: (1) simulation, and (2) projection.

First simulation. The theory is that what we experience (actually, what you experience) is not “real” but rather takes place as a sort of Sims situation. That is a massively powerful advanced computer of some sort is running a program of some sort and that we (you) are part of and created by and entirely within that program. The main reason to think this is (or at least could be) the case is because it stands to reason that any sufficiently advanced civilization will develop enormously powerful computers capable of running extremely detailed simulations (think of it like Minecraft x 1,000,000,000,…), and that these simulations will contain simulated beings, and that these simulated beings will not be told they’re simulated by the programmers. While there can be only one fundamental “reality” there is no limit on the number of possible simulations that can exist. Given enough time, simulations will far, far, far outnumber the sole reality, and once that happens, what are the odds any individual being is in the one reality instead of the practically infinite simulations? The answer is somewhere close to zero, so the overwhelming odds are that we (you) are in a simulation.

Next, projection. The idea here is that there seems to be a mathematically complete way to represent our three spacial + 1 temporal dimension (3D+1) universe as a 2D+1 universe on a surface infinitely far away (whatever that means). In other words, if (and this is a big if) all physical laws and all interactions of any kind between any particles, forces, etc. in our 3D+1 universe can be expressed fully and completely in the mathematics describing a 2D+1 surface, which is the true “reality”? Take a hologram for example. A hologram is a 3D image constructed by passing light through/off of a 2D surface in the right way. The hologram is projected into 3D space from the 2D surface. Fundamentally, the 2D surface exists independent of the 3D projection, and in fact, would continue to exist even if the light source stopped and the 3D hologram went away. So which is more “real” then? In the hologram example, the surface is more real than the image in the sense that it exists regardless of whether the projection exists. By analogy, if we are a 3D+1 projection from a 2D+1 surface, which is more real?

Heady stuff, and check out PBS Spacetime series (especially the Holographic Universe series) on Youtube for some really nice layman-ish explanations.

The best example I’ve seen is from Rick and Morty. The game at Blipz and Chitz is called Roy: A Life Well Lived.

A spoon is a spoon because we call it a spoon. If we called a spoon a fork then it would be a different projection/simulation