A pertinent theme of discussion amongst fellow Bitcoiners is the ‘six properties’ test. It goes something like this… the six properties of money are as follows: durability, portability, divisibility, uniformity, limited supply, and acceptability. If something has all six properties, it can be considered sound money.
Paintings and Documents
Now, let’s take a step back. A paper document is a document, and an oil painting is a painting, right? A digital document is a document, and a digital painting is what, exactly? It wouldn’t be right to call it a painting since it’s just a digital representation of such, and after all, it doesn’t involve paint. So, what makes a painting… a painting?
Well, presumably paint, for starters, but the kind of painting you’re imagining is also art. So… is the digital one still… art? I think it would be silly to say otherwise. But although both physical and digital versions can be reasonably conceived as art, they are still very different.
Properties vs Information
So, what defining factor—present among both—can cause their sharing of this categorisation? I’ll leave that question for the art majors, but I can be sure that whatever answer they give will be a property inherent in both. So, that decides it, then? The answer must be that they both share some unknown property, and therefore they must both be considered art. But what exactly is the digital one? It’s binary information stored on a computer, so unless you have a monitor to display it, it can’t really be considered art. Hmm, curious.
Still, we haven’t actually defined precisely what a digital painting is. We know that it is just binary information, and we know that information is assigned to things and rarely exists in and of itself. So, it may be correct to say that the digital painting is an attempt at capturing and storing the properties of the original painting in digital form.
Properties of Money
Since all information is properties, and all that’s digital is information, all that is digital is properties. In this sense, it’s not that the digital painting has the properties of the original; it’s that the digital painting is the properties of the original.
If we take this same line of reasoning and apply it to the matter of Bitcoin, we will find that Bitcoin does not have all the properties of money; rather that Bitcoin is all the properties of money.
It’s just that we just found a way to transpose them into the digital realm.
Plato famously believed that the perfect circle only exists as an idea and that there are no perfect circles in reality—in other words, the perfect circle can never be seen, only described. This is called platonic realism, and it basically means that you can only ever conceptualise perfection in the intellect and that it never occurs in the material world. A sort of acknowledgement of the wobbliness of reality.
This idea was the foundation of the development of western philosophy and, by extension: the west. The perfect circle can only be explained or described with math (which happens to be the language of computers) by describing its properties. For instance, this is a perfect circle:
( x – h )^2 + ( y – k )^2 = r^2
So, it follows that ‘the perfect money’ can only exist in the intellect as a description of its properties, and if it can do that, it can exist on computers.
Bitcoin is perfect money because it is fundamentally those properties that define perfect money.