From the Holographic Principle to the Simulation Argument: Metamorphosis of an Idea at the Edge of the Scientific Thought

Variant title

Dal principio olografico all’ipotesi della simulazione. Metamorfosi di un’idea ai confini del pensiero scientifico 


In recent years, the so-called simulation argument – the idea that the reality we perceive could be a computer-generated simulation – has gained great popularity, no matter how implausible it may appear. This paper argues that its success, both in popular culture and in some areas of theoretical physics, depends on the consolidation of two ideas that emerged in the second half of the 20th century: the so-called “holographic principle”, born in the context of quantum mechanics and applied on a cosmological scale, which suggests the existence of a more fundamental plan of reality than the one we experience, so as to obtain a complete theory of quantum gravity; and information physics, which is rewriting the main paradigms of theoretical physics in light of the principles of information theory. The paper shows that these two concepts have undergone a continuous metamorphosis during the process of production-reception through mass culture, particularly in the American New Age culture. In accepting D. Kaiser’s programmatic thesis (2012; 2016) on the importance of reconstructing the genealogy of scientific ideas considering their reception in mass culture, the paper suggests that the simulation argument could be the result of a penetration into the collective imaginary of the two ideas discussed here.




Italian (it)


Roberto PauraUniversità degli Studi di Perugia


Orbis Idearum Volume 5, Issue 2 (2017), pp. 25-52
Regular Issue