Where exactly do we find the IT of painting, poem, program or a person? An intrinsic, contained whole? an experienced essessence?
These are the biggest questions of all, the questions that inform the whole of politics, religion, science, humanities, culture, family, education and identity itself.
Consider an alien from a far away galaxy arrived here or near earth wondering what exactly is at hand. Suppose the alien doesn't have eyes or ears or fingers or anything like humans or humanlike animals. This alien lacks computers like ours, meaning none of this alien's computers/perceptive tools run our biology nor our operating systems. What exactly would earth and humans and our artifacts be? What would our poems and our programs and our paintings and our people seem "like" to an alien?
There would be no decoder key overtly explaining or making sense of any of the human experience for any such decoder would be written / described within the very objects the decoder decodes. Our natural language, color theories, agile programming methodologies, data types, frames, etc would not make any sense at any level standing alone. An alien would literally need to learn humanity from the ground up. And it's not even clear whether learning natural language, human behavior patterns, visual systems or bits and bytes would be "the ground" from whence to go up.
Why is alien ignorance the case? Is there a conceivable reality in which this ignorance isn't the case? The only possible case to be made is that of ideal or universal or at least beyond human forms/ideas/information. While it is impossible to rule out completely the possibility of ideal forms/universals it seems incredibly improbable consider the fact that no two humans will ever agree on what exactly we mean by a painting, a poem, a program nor even a person is. In fact, that's exactly why we have these expressions and their, well, expressions. Whatever the existence of a poem is it is more than it's commonly stated rules and favorite examples. Paintings have battled their own existence since ancient hominids traced pigment and scratched rocks on rocks. Programs, while wholly invented by humans mostly in our lifetimes, have no full expression of their behavior. A person who does all these other ill-defined things cannot possibly be defined by the infinitude of its ill-defined activities.
The situation for exact knowledge and clear definitions is worse though. Even formulations/simply ideas/systems we've created entirely are not free of unlimited ignorance of their essense. The halting program and incompleteness theorem in mathematics and computer science, our most exacting disciplines of creation, thwart, beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt, any idea that we can know to the full extent all things, except the most simplistic.
This entire essay is probably not convincing. The human apparatus isn't set up well for ignorance and the unknown. Our biology seems to gravitate to pattern recognition and this, in turn, leads our institutations to peddle in the same. We all teach each other that We Can Know, We Must Know, We Will Know, despite the fact never has this actually be proven nor empirically been shown nor even lasted with the most fundamental faith ideals. It makes sense, to some extent, that we wish to know and even believe we can know considering what it seems the value of knowing would be - if we knew, we could control or at least come to grips. Even that is a bizarre baseless notion once we dig into it. Anything within the limits of knowing is so simple it's uninteresting and in almost every case is fading or short lived. Find a case and surface it, please!
Yet, it is still interesting or motive to try to explore and identify these things, as aren't we all doing these activities? or being these things? any and all?
My own response to these questions is simply... I don't know but I'd like to keep finding out what it is. And I even reject the idea of I. I take it as a given that I'm exploring paintings, poems and programs not for the person that is me, but for the persons I am and am connected to. I don't paint my paintings or write my poems or create my programs. What tinkles from these fingers someone else's DNA made and someone else's skill trained is a shared activity of connectivity.
There remains only inquiry and more inquiry. That is what all is not.
Until the aliens tell all myselves otherwise.