Atoms are the building blocks of this physical reality, and, by definition, Scientists should have, upon discovery of quarks, gluons and other ‘sub-atomic particles’, redefined those to be called Atoms, and so on as our knowledge gets refined – each time moving back ‘Atom’ to its rightful place.
In the Lisp programming language, things also called Atoms are defined. They are the ‘base unit’ of things upon which Lisp programs operate. The Atom is a Symbol. On that level, the number one “1”, is a symbol, and thus an Atom in Lisp – on par with the symbols foo, bar, bas, or any letter combination (or number combination, or letter-number combination for that matter).
This view breaks things down into two ‘sides’: Things – ‘Atoms’ – and operations – doing stuff to things. Atoms and Actions. (This, note, is very close to Patrick Jeanneret’s idea).
I’d been racking my brains trying to figure out how one could possibly define a boundary around a ‘bit of Wu’ in order to make it ‘ex-sist’, to make it stand out from everything else. How could one possibly establish that a bit of something is somehow different from Everything-else – which, after all, is ‘made from the same stuff as’ the bit you’re trying to distinguish?
But now, tentatively, it occurs to me as I write this (yes, the act of writing is my process of thinking), that the strange yin-yang-ness of physical reality (how I’d considered ‘us’ as being of ‘yin’ – arbitrarily – and that it somehow meant that there was a whole lot of ‘yang’ left-over that together made ‘Wu’) works out:
If ‘stuff’ is ‘yin’, then the boundary that separates it from ‘Wu’ (if I can even say such a thing) is ‘yang’, (I feel like yelling “Duh!!” at myself – obviously!) and that ‘yang’ is action, or “operations on ‘yin'”.
Then one has to ask: “If ‘yin’ is stuff, and ‘yang’ is action – and you’ve previously said that yin-stuff is just bits-of-Wu, then could it not just as validly be argued that yang-stuff is actually bits-of-Wu, and then that ‘yin’ is the boundary between yang-stuff? After all, you’ve well established that Wu is both yin and yang – that they arise out of Wu.”
And so the strange loop has undone me. Once again. Dammit.
So, what could possibly have both stuff-ness and do-ness at the same time? What do they both share?
A quick and lazy answer might be “They’re both Real – they are both aspects of Reality”.
But you have to stop at that answer. Reality just is, like Wu just is (on condition that I’m using ‘is’ in some sense greater than ex-sistence).
Playfully, I’m tempted to use the French expression “la boucle a été bouclée” – the loop has been looped. Which, quite beautifully, represents the very Wu-yin-yang problem I’ve been struggling with just now: A loop – a thing – has been looped – an action – which, both being the same set of symbols – L, O, and P – are both verb and object – Wu – a strange loop. Oh the joy! I’m actually chuckling to myself as I write this. The people around me must think I’m loopy!