I am trying to understand the abstraction that is provided by computer software. Below is my understanding. Do I have a correct understanding?

Suppose my computer has this data:

Hello, world

The data is stored inside my computer in a series of memory cells, each cell is at either +1 voltage or 0 voltage. For discussion purposes, I will denote the +1 voltage using the symbol 1 and the 0 voltage using the symbol 0. Each letter of the data is encoded using a scheme such as ASCII, which encodes the letter H using 8 memory cells with the following values:

0000 0100 0000 1000

Software tools residing on my computer provide me the ability to view the data in memory as text. These tools are referred to as text editors. Text editor software decodes the memory cells and then displays symbols on my screen that I recognize as letters of the alphabet (i.e., as text). For example, here is a snapshot of my screen, showing the Notepad++ text editor displaying the data as text:

The data (Hello, world) displayed in Notepad++

Other software tools -- known as hex editors -- provide me the ability to view the data as hexadecimal symbols. Here is a snapshot of my screen showing the HxD hex editor displaying the data as hex values:

The data (Hello, world) displayed in HxD

There are no words or sentences in the computer. There's only memory cells and voltages. Software tools such as Notepad++ and HxD interpret and visualize the memory cells and voltages in various ways. So what is reality?

closed as too broad by christo183, Frank Hubeny, Jishin Noben, Swami Vishwananda, Eliran Feb 11 at 17:18

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Its a little hard to understand what exactly you are asking. If you are wondering how the hex values can change into something you can read, then it seems more like a science & engineering question. If you want to know how it is you can understand, it is likely a linguistic question. "what is reality" may refer to (English, binary, hex), or to Reality; either way it is simply too broad a question to answer here. Welcome to Philosophy SE! – christo183 Feb 10 at 18:04
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    At least explain what connection you see between what you wrote and the question at the end. – Eliran Feb 10 at 18:12
  • "reality" is a word people use that word to refer to MANY different phenomena – Heron Stone Feb 11 at 16:40

As I read it, you're taking a classic philosophical conundrum, the difference between the noumenal and phenomenal worlds, and applying it to computers. The classic question is what is the difference between the phenomenal world of things we can actually experience, and the noumenal world of things as they "actually are" in some hypothetical base level of reality.

There's one big difference here: By definition, we can't ever know the noumenal nature of our universe, but we can know how a computer is generating what we see and experience --and see firsthand that it is VERY very different from the end result.

If this causes you to have similar doubts about the actual underlying nature of what we generally call "reality" and how it relates to our perceptions, you are not alone.

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