Let us start by assuming that physicists are doing a pretty good job of describing the fundamental nature of matter/energy in time/space. Their equations are entirely removed from the world of personal experience. The equations describe what I will choose to call the Rworld. In a sense, it is reality. It is what absolutely is. It is probably continuous in nature, but we are not entirely sure. The question of particulate vs continuous has plagued us for years, and it will raise its head here again. Its best description is as a set of equations, and it will remain forever unknowable. In contrast to the Rworld is the Pworld. This is the world we experience. It contains identifiable macroscopic objects. We can extend our senses somewhat with microscopes and telescopes, but to all intents and purposes, we live in a human-sized world, populated with the kind of thing that it makes sense for humans to see. Ants and trees will serve as examples. If we were ant sized, we would not see the world as populated with buildings and streets. At our scale, those would not be sensible categories. The categories we have evolved to see are those which by happenstance proved useful to an evolving population in a specific environmental situation. We sample the ambient energy to allow us to move in the world, but we are blind, literally and figuratively, to the patterned energy which we did not evolve sensitivities to. This is the perceptual world. Its categories have no ontological validity in the Rworld. They are probably not rigorously definable in the Rworld, for atoms fly off any body, and aggregate anew. The macroscopic objects of the Pworld have discrete identities. These may be two trees, but I can tell them apart, and there is no sense in which one can stand in for the other without a transformation of identity. The players in the Rworld are different in that each can substitute for another of the same molecular structure. Two electrons may differ in state, but not in identity. Alter the state of one (change its location and momentum) and it becomes formally identical to the other. This is a curious state of affairs. The constituents of the Rworld are unlike anything in the Pworld in a very deep way.
The Pworld is entirely contingent. Had evolution taken a different stochastic path, all would be different in detail. The objects, the categorical distinctions we draw in the world around us, the things we can name, are themselves a function of our evolutionary past. Run evolution differently, and you create a different set of needs in a different environment, and the categories which make sense to that parallel organism would differ from our own. The Pworld is thus a function of the Rworld. It arose because of the exact state and state derivative which describes the Rworld in exact detail. But we can unpack this relationship a little further. We, the macroscopic beings we call humans, are more obviously a function of the Rworld, and the form of the Pworld, as I have argued, is dictated or defined by the contingent beings we are. Thus we have P=f(human) and human = f(R), giving the satisfying claim: P=f(f(R)). We are the intermediaries in the chain. The things in our world (Pworld) relate to the things in Rworld by virtue of the kind of being we happen to be.
Now consider the things we have words for, that we talk about when we talk about things. These are akin to theories. They represent our way of understanding the world. The understanding I mean is not of propositional form, but an understanding expressed by interacting with the world, or swimming in it. Many of these theories are well-founded, and have stood the test of time. Tables are tables, ants are ants and trees are trees. But wait a sec,