This one speaks to me above all others. Thank you for writing it. I could easily write a 20 pg response to this 10 pg essay. This is not to say I agree with everything you wrote. I simply choose to believe otherwise, but that is beside the point. The point is that ultimately, the truth involves what we choose to believe. Note that this is a self-referential statement. If it is taken as fact, then it is self-contradictory. The self-referential paradox is central to the problem of the human condition. Instead we reject this and navigate around it with whatever cognitive tools we can find. There must be ultimate facts. We only believe in things that are real. The ultimate truth must be logical. The proof is out there, we're not looking hard enough. Ultimately, reality must be some sort of unique unidirectional hierarchy, or objective dualism with an equals = sign in between. Maybe we can choose to believe anything. (Another self-referential statement). How about; "Only falsifiable proposals qualify as fact" (Not a falsifiable statement). In my essay, I frame the problem in terms of realism and idealism. As far as I can tell, this approach hasn't garnered much attention. The belief in the uni-truth is pervasive. To not believe in the uni-truth, is a self-referential paradox. Consider the following multiple choice question: All reality A) originates from random behavior, B) is determined by the laws of physics, C) Is consistent and logical, D) A set of (incompatible) schools of thought, E) All of the above. I make the self-contradictory selection E). I can't prove or disprove anything about this question. This question addresses the ultimate nature by asking about "all" reality. I choose to believe that when I ask such an ultimate question, I find myself in a philosophical tailspin. I don't "understand" it in the usual sense. I simply recognize and accept it. Ideas such as free, determined, logical, and relativism, (ABC and D) are useful in particular applications, but when I ask ultimate questions i.e. "what is fundamental?" I can pretty much argue from any place on the map. BTW this is a version of Russell's paradox where choosing the whole menu is paradoxical. Typically, we posit F) none of the above, and navigate around the problem with choices we claim as fact. You quoted Hawkins; "There is no theory- or theory independent concept of reality". This is a self-referential statement. (because it is Hawkins conception). "...model dependent realism" is an oxymoron. But I believe he is right. If you have not done so, look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Münchhausen_trilemma
and realize the whole thing is a self-referential proposal. I can fool myself into thinking I've found the unequivocal answer here, but then I've just contradicted myself. I've trapped myself in the self-referential belief: Overall reality is a contradiction. If this statement is true, then then it must be a contradiction. Round and round I go. I can't expect anyone to agree. It's not logical. The only way out is to use the F word. And I don't mean facts. I avoid using the F word in my essay. Instead I use words like choice, interpretation, belief, assumption, acceptance, etc.... The word faith conjures the fraudulent and infantile religious beliefs abhorred by the prevailing materialism. We should expect to be thrown overboard. This precludes you from winning and this can only be a testament to your goodness. To find examples of the philosophical tailspin at the ultimate edge of understanding, we need look no further than cosmology; Ex-nihilo violation of conservation, time beginning at a point prior to which was not, space "in and of itself" inflating within a void of non-space, and other self-subsistent paradox. At the opposite edge of the observable Universe we have the paradoxes of QM. None of this makes sense, but I'm OK with that because I (choose) don't expect it to. This attitude is called humility. Other examples of the philosophical tailspin are freewill and determinism, spontaneous emergence of order vs intention (teleology), hidden variables, contingent Universe, measurement problem, and so on. The reproducible feature of the physically observable is what determines the laws. Using causality, we turn this around and suppose the laws determine the behavior. But what about things that only happen once? i.e. big bang? We can thank Gödel for formalizing the unavoidability of the self-referential problem. To what extent can we extrapolate predictive science to the unobservable? String and multiverse theories have the empiricists on suicide watch. For me these essays are an exposition of the human condition. A bit of introspection and humility goes a long way here. To have faith in nothing is worthless. I choose to believe my eyes that see a marvelous and intentional endeavor willing to sacrifice Himself for our blessings. I am a thinker and one day I found these thoughts do not really belong to me. What is fundamental? You nailed it. Usack@optonline.net.