The Meaning of Structure: The Structural Approach to Understanding Nature

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Scientific Paper
Title The Meaning of Structure: The Structural Approach to Understanding Nature
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Author(s) Don Briddell
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Published 2010
Journal Proceedings of the NPA
Volume 7
No. of pages 9
Pages 53-61

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Premise: The origin of our difficulties is that we assume we understand what structure means. Three physics dictionaries in my library have not considered structure worth defining. Evidently, the ubiquitous term is considered too obvious to be worthy of a definition. From my research into the meaning of structure, even the Oxford Dictionary's definition of structure is misleading. It gives three meanings, (1) the arrangement of and relations between the parts of something complex. (2) a building or other object constructed from several parts. (3) the quality of being well organized.

In Field Structure Theory, only the last definition (3) vaguely applies. This paper looks at the question of structure and determines that structure is not the arrangement or relations of the parts to the whole, but rather the ability of the whole to define, generate and give cause to parts. As a culture, we think about structure as a product of parts. This misconception carries forward into our thinking about physics. So much of physics is trying to establish form and structure of the whole by looking at the parts. That is like trying to understand a string by considering the knot. That which defines a knot does not define, in the least, the nature of the string. The string defines the knot, not the other way around. When the knot is untied, its arrangement and relations disappear. Not so with the string. Nothing can remove stringness. What happens when we consider structure as the string and matter/energy as a being knots, is the discovery of what structure means. Example and models will be used throughout this exposition.