Contents—for preview and definitions

Notation

Preliminary—introduction and motivation

The aim of the introduction

How to read the introduction

The way is an adventure

The Way may be difficult to understand; on the proof of the worldview

The worldview of the way is simple

Is the worldview a system of metaphysics?

The meaning of the worldview

Some consequences of the worldview

The worldview consistent with science, experience, and reason

Conceptual conclusion

Practical means or paths to the ultimate

Purpose and overview

Being and beings

Experience

The universe, the void, and the fundamental principle of metaphysics

Tradition and the perfect metaphysics

Significance of Being; on purism

Paths, enjoyment, and summary

Definitions

Notation for the preview

Main terms are in CAPITALS; secondary material is underlined or italicized.

Preliminary introduction and motivation—Understanding the way

The aim and plan of the introduction is to show how to understand the way and motivate interest and excitement (excitement’ is calm anticipation of the real and the ultimate). Why is this needed? Because view of the way is unfamiliar (to many) and its development may be difficult. The aim of the introduction, then, is to address unfamiliarity and difficulty in simple terms.

In this introduction, I will place somewhat complex ideas in small print and indented paragraphs.

How to read this preliminary. In the preliminary—as in The Way… and thought, generally—the ideas stand as a whole. However, reading is linear and so readers should not expect understanding before the entire preliminary has been read.

How is the way an adventure? What is the excitement? It is a new view of the universe; it is that the view is based in reason; that the view finds the universe to be the greatest possible, which may be seen as process; that individuals take part in that process; that the process is ever fresh and highest adventure. There is indeed pain which is unavoidable; the way addresses the problem of pain in what is argued to be the best possible way—in principle.

The Way may be difficult to understand—(1) its core is simple and true but getting to that simplicity and truth is difficult, (2) the way develops (proves) a view of the world or worldview (the new view described above) which, though simple to state, will be difficult to see in its meaning and consequences, (3) the view is consistent with and builds from but may seem to contradict science, reason, and experience. I will address these issues, which will show the excitement by grounding it.

The core of the way and its worldview is simple. The foundation of the way can be seen to be true in immediate experience—that there is experience and that the universe and its parts exist (this is unlike a science whose basic entities such as quantum fields are remote from observation). Thus the foundation is simple—so simple that it appears trivial. It is trivial and yet its consequences are profound. There are of course subtleties and difficulties that must be dealt with to prove the new view above and so to draw out the consequences (see the rest of the preview and the essays). However, the idea behind the proof is simple. It is to take from the real only those aspects that are not subject to the distortion of perception that knowledge of them is perfect; and to select those aspects that enable us to talk of the real as a whole. This is the foundation of the new view and its excitement.

It may seem that something has been pulled out of the hat—that is because I have glossed the subtleties. The entire range of subtleties involve some of the most difficult ideas at the edge of knowledge and that mountain is difficult to climb; but there is an ascent and then the world is simple again once seen from the top. There's an analogy. Think of a familiar theorem, say Gödel’s theorem (actually theorems): one can describe it as well as the idea behind the proof but to actually know that it is true one has to go through the details of the proof which are somewhat daunting because of the novelty and the detail but not difficult in principle.

Is the worldview a system of metaphysics? The question is an aside relative to the aim of the introduction and therefore formatted as a ‘complex idea’.

The worldview is indeed a system of metaphysics. Is this problematic? In the early twentieth century a deep distrust and rejection of metaphysics arose. In fact some people hold that “metaphysics is religion”. Today that distrust has resulted in new conceptions of metaphysics that are acceptable in secular thought. The original meaning had two aspects (i) metaphysics was knowledge of the real and (ii) it was not limited to the empirical. Both aspects were criticized for (i) because knowledge is subject to distortions it was thought that knowledge of the real is impossible and (ii) trans-empirical knowledge seems clearly impossible. I will address these concerns shortly but let us first talk about the place of metaphysics in culture. With metaphysics as a picture of the real, we cannot live without it. There are regularities of experience, the sun rises, the ground is there and does not vanish under foot and so on; without subconscious reliance on such elementary regularities we would not be able to attend to what is essential. In secular thought today, the sciences of physics and biology define an at least tacit metaphysics that is a foundation of secular culture. The foregoing kinds of ‘metaphysics’ may be labeled ‘pragmatic metaphysics’ and regarded as inescapable, yet they are metaphysics (and as we see below secular metaphysics of the universe as seen in the sciences so far is absolutely unfounded). So how is metaphysics as knowledge of the real possible? (i) Though knowledge is generally distorted at least somewhat, there are aspects that are undistorted (as we see below) and (ii) these aspects are not trans-empirical but rather envelopes of the empirical that are still within the empirical (also, as we see below). In consequence, what results is a metaphysical system that is (a) of all reality, (b) trivial, because of selection only of what is undistorted, (c) but nonetheless profound in depth and consequence (as we will see), (d) conceptual but not instrumental (because of #b), and (e) can (and will) be complemented by ‘pragmatic knowledge our cultures’ to constitute an effectively perfect knowledge of the real and of instrumental function within the real and toward the highest in the real.

The meaning of the worldview. What does it mean that the universe is the greatest possible? It means roughly that if one has an idea, concept, of picture of something—say a novel world—then provided it is not absurd, the ‘something’ exists (that is, all possibilities are realized).

What does ‘absurd’ mean? It means, roughly, that it should not contradict itself or fact (i.e. violate neither logic nor science—it is shown how in the paragraph after the next). Now to realize ‘all possibility’ may seem absurd for consider “it is possible that the possible is impossible” which seems to challenge the idea that there is such a thing as the greatest possibility. However the meaning of ‘possibility’ is, at least naïvely, that which can happen—so the previous assertion in double quotes becomes “it is possible that what can happen cannot happen” which is clearly due to using ‘possibility’ in violation of its meaning.

Some consequences of the worldview—i.e., that all possibility is realized. Here are some possibilities—(1) The universe has identity, (2) The universe and its identity are limitless in extension (e.g., time and space) and variety, for example there must be arrays of cosmoses like ours without limit to number or variety, (3) Inviduals merge with and realize universal identity, (4) The process is ever fresh but also involves pain, (5) There are feasible paths of realization that are creative yet critical in approach, that encounter both ecstasy and pain, that address pain in an optimal way, and that take the Buddha’s middle way of enjoyment (between opulence and asceticism, between ecstasy and pain), and (6) There is an imperative to cultivate and live in pathways, perhaps of one’s design and choosing.

Aware readers will see that some of these thoughts derive from the Indian philosophy of Vedanta and the teachings of the Buddha. What new here is the demonstration of the view and consequently the drawing out of consequences and the consistency with and learning from (what is valid in) ancient knowledge through modern science, logic, and reason.

How is this worldview consistent, particularly with reason and modern science? In simple terms, any reasonable conception of ‘possibility’ must be consistent with reason, science, and experience.

Let us flesh out the consistency of the view. The greatest possibility cannot exceed what is allowed by logic, for what is disallowed by logic cannot exist (in this or any world). An example is a square circle, whose concept can be stated in the words ‘square circle’, but since nothing can be a circle and a square, cannot exist (and which shows that though the words can be stated their combination is a contradiction for it is implicit in the concept of a circle that it is not a square and vice versa). The concept of ‘logic’ may be enhanced to include necessary fact, e.g. ‘there is experience’, ‘there is Being’ and others. This is similar to the modern notion of argument except that the latter also admits contingent fact.

How is ‘the greatest possibility’ consistent with science and experience? The essential point is that science is empirical (experience is empirical by definition). Science has theories that seem to go beyond the empirical but in truth they are models of the empirical. Therefore any claim that science has captured the essence of the universe is unfounded for there is, on the method of science itself, a possible realm beyond the empirical universe whose limit is only (the greatest) possibility. Now this does not at all imply that that realm exists but only that it is possible. Therefore to claim that what is possible is real, proof must be given. That is done in the developments in the essays.

Why do some scientists, philosophers, and lay persons hold that science has revealed the essence of the real? It is because the empirical models (theories) of the empirical data are so beautiful and so predictive that they are thought real and that, perhaps on the grounds of avoiding rank speculation, there is a prohibition on thinking of a ‘beyond’. There is perhaps also a personality and institutional investment in science that makes some scientists think of and present science as the ‘new priesthood’.

There is a further reason that science is seen as revealing the essence of the real. No one individual, even the ‘expert’ or‘authority’, has a grasp of the entire cultural system of knowledge. Rather, when a sufficient number of persons--scientists and lay persons--regard a picture of the world as real, that picture is so much 'in the air' as to become and emergent reality (more precisely, the emergent picture of reality). Thus the emegent picture is not necessarily spelled out explicity. It emerges in a manner similar to the way in which meaning in language emerges. It is held true, not because it is true, but because it has a combination of sufficient pragmatic instrumentality and because sufficient numbers of people hold it true such that it is self-reinforcing. Of course in any culture there may be more than one picure of the real and these may co-exist with or without conflict.

It remains to deal with one issue. If the facts of the universe are the facts then, even if the universe is far greater than the empirical cosmos, how can an individual in our cosmos think in terms of an unrealized and immense possibility? The answer is somewhat subtle. It depends on a block view of the universe (not one of the common block views of the physical universe). Think of the universe’s history over time. Though the universe is dynamic, that picture, since it is over time, is static (but contains the dynamic). A particle in the block is a line, perhaps with an initial and final point. Rather that is what it would be in a deterministic universe. But ‘greatest possibility’ implies that the universe is absolutely indeterministic (which, since it implies all possibilities are realized is, non-paradoxically, also absolutely deterministic). Therefore in the block universe with indeterminism, instead of a particle as a line a ‘particle’ is a myriad of converging-diverging lines. Our empirical cosmos is one more deterministic phase of the universe but relative to it the ‘facts’ are not determined; rather, relative to the cosmos, the facts external (outside as well as before and after) to the cosmos are possibilities. As a bonus, the converging-diverging lines picture shows how individuals merge with one another as universal identity—and note that this occurs outside, before, and after our cosmos but may also begin within the cosmos in ways not yet known! How? The limit of empirical observation is not only the distant in spacetime but also the small and weakness of interaction (no reference here to the weak force); and if the distant in spacetime is ‘outside’, the small is ‘within’ and the weak ‘among’ us.

In conclusion to these conceptual thoughts, we have justified the earlier thoughts of a new and exciting worldview—and more: we have seen ways in which the excitement is among and beyond us.

A practical question of means or paths to the ultimate now ariseswhat are the means of finding and living pathways to the ultimate? Perhaps it is presumptious to talk of “the means”.

Let us begin by talking of some means. Begin with classifiction. We can divide means into inner, intrinsic, or of the PSYCHE; and outer, instrumental, or of the WORLD. The world can be divided as nature (elementary and physical, complex such as living), society and civilization, and the universal (and unknown). The intrinsic and the instrumental have been and are both historical and modern. The following is a very incomplete but useful sketch.The historical ways come from religious traditions; the traditions most consonant with the present worldview and with which I am familiar are those of the Buddha and, from Indian thought, the Vedanta philosophy and the Bhagavad-Gita. Modern ways emphasize the instrumental, e.g. use of physics, biology, and computer science to model the inner. In the present development these ways are used as suggestive but not as demonstrative.

Let us appeal to the principle that this is the greatest possible universe. This is a demonstrated metaphysical principle that is the basis of a metaphysics, of which some consequences have been stated. The foundation of the world view, we saw, was in concepts not subject to distortion.  It shows that all beings are capable of the highest achievement, and that there are feasible ways or paths. It does not show the paths. It informs us about ultimate reality but does not show it to us. It is an abstract system of knowledge (‘metaphysics’) which is not abstract as remote but as abstracting the undistorted from the distortable. How shall we complement the abstract so as to have a ‘handle’ on the world. We appeal to TRADITION which we define as what is pragmatically valid in historical through modern cultural traditions. What does ‘pragmatically valid’ mean? Where as the abstract metaphysics is perfect for all purposes, the pragmatically valid is as if perfect for some purposes. And even good enough for some purposes is all we need.

For the abstract shows us that our cosmos is effectively infinitesimal; that we move from cosmos to cosmos on the way to the ultimate (e.g as mergings in the block universe picture), always taking advantage of local conditions and laws; failure is not meaningful except as temporary, for in the block there is no final failure but only movement backward vs forward; that we never need more than a practical instrument in that process; and, therefore, even if the pragmatic is “only good enough” it is a perfect instrument for the process.

What is the outcome, the amalgam of the abstract-perfect and concrete-pragmatic? The abstract illuminates and guides the pragmatic and the pragmatic illustrates and is perfect instrument in the abstract ideal. The two form a perfect system (traditional knowledge and epistemology remain important in their context but with modified signiricance) that is developed in the essays and named the perfect metaphysics or REASONwhere reason is not defined as an explicit system but implicitly as an in process instrument that is simultaneously (i) searching for and guiding search for the ultimate, (ii) reflexive—i.e., employs all elements of the real, i.e. the world in critical and imaginative interaction including emotion and value, which entails and includes (iii) reflexive optimality. This is the the means of realization.

Previewpurpose and overview

Human beings have a sense of purpose and DESTINY. Knowledge and action are effective in evaluating purpose and purposes.

The Way of Being is centered in a new and demonstrated worldview—the PERFECT METAPHYSICS, also called the metaphysics, whose core is the demonstrated fundamental principle of metaphysics—i.e., that the universe is the greatest possible (in the sense of logical possibility). This worldview is consistent with logic, science, and experience but goes far beyond our standard secular and transsecular worldviews.

Some consequences of the perfect metaphysics are (i) the universe—defined later—has Identity, (ii) the universe and its Identity are limitless with regard to variety and extension—which include peaks of limitless magnitude and variety followed by dissolutions, (iii) individuals merge and participate in these universal processes, (iv) there are effective paths, individual and shared, to the revealed ultimate, (v) the paths are ecstatic and ever fresh, (vI) pain, suffering, ennui, and tension between the immediate and the ultimate occur and are not to be avoided—the effective paths are those that attend to pain where possible but do not dwell on it.

The Way of Being site presents path principles and templates.

Being and beings

A being is that which is—which exists (indicated by the underlined is); and BEING (capitalized) is that which characterizes beings (here the 'is' that is not bold is indicates definition; we will say that a being has Being rather than is Being).

The use of ‘is’ above is an intransitive form indicating existence and not one of the other uses of ‘is’. The word ‘is’ is a singular form of the present tense verb ‘to be’. It frequently refers to an entity’ at some tacit location (and thus assumes spacetime). Here, however, it will designate a form of the verb ‘is’ that is neutral to all the italicized terms just above. It will not just be tenseless and neutral with regard to location but it will not assume spacetime. It will not just be neutral with regard to the distinctions of entity vs relation vs process but it will not assume the entity-relation-process description; and it will not assume the distinction of descriptor vs described (adjective, adverb, property vs noun, verb etc).  

The term 'is' in 'that which is', has the most neutral use possible (it will not assume spacetime and, particularly, will be neutral with regard to tense and location or locations; and it will be neutral with regard to the distinctions of entity vs relation vs process vs property and more, e.g. even the linguistic form of ‘trope’). Using the term extension to refer to sameness, difference, and their absence—which are precursors to spacetime—a being is that which is in some region or regions of extension. Thus a being is an existent. Further, while Being and being have distinction, at the present level of neutrality, the distinction vanishes.

In the present sense 'Being' is most neutral and general. This is an abstraction in the direct sense that eliminates distortion due to concrete detail; it is thus most direct rather than remote abstraction; and this enables perfect knowledge as in there is Being which though trivial, is also a source of depth and conceptual power. The history of thought abounds with special meanings of 'Being'; these are all eschewed here. This is a gain rather than loss for it permits re-introduction of other valid special meanings as kinds of Being which inherit the precision of the present general meaning.

The hypothetical being that affects no being does not exist. The measure of Being is POWER or interaction—the ability to affect and be affected—i.e., Being is the measure of Being. This is the source of the conceptual force of 'Being'—i.e., that it does not refer to an axiom or another kind.

Experience

EXPERIENCE is subjective awareness or phenomenal consciousness in its pure, attitudinal, and active forms. Experience is relational (even the pure form is internal relation). Experience has the property of power.

Experience is the place of all significance and meaning in the sense of what is important—e.g., of the 'meaning of life'. It is a necessary and a priori condition for meaning (this does not imply that it is the source or cause all meaning).

The hypothetical being that affects no experience at all may be taken to not exist (we may think about it but then it is the thought that affects us). It is effectively non-existent. Further, it is a consequence of the fundamental principle (proven later) that it is non-existent.

Note that above 'experience' refers to animal consciousness and 'higher'—at least to what is recognized as sentience. It will follow from the fundamental principle that the entire universe may be regarded as experiential in some primitive sense.

The universe, the void, and the fundamental principle of metaphysics

The UNIVERSE is All Being—i.e., Being over all extension.

The VOID is the absence of Being. It contains no beings, yet has Being—for its existence and non-existence are equivalent. This is crucial to the proof below; other proofs are given in the essays; but since it is fundamental and consistent with all experience it may be alternatively regarded as universal law or principle (due to its conceptual power) or, if doubt remains, as existential attitude, (action) principle, or hypothesis.

Proof of THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF METAPHYSICS. (1) A natural law or, simply a law, is a pattern that obtains in a part of the universe. Laws have Being—i.e., they are beings. Therefore there are no laws in the void. (2) If there is a logically possible state that does not emerge from the void, that would be a law. That is—all logically possible states emerge from the void. (3) That is—the universe is the greatest possible (in the sense of logical possibility). Which is the statement of and thus concludes proof of the fundamental principle of metaphysics.

Consistency of the fundamental principle. There is no contradiction of fact, experience, or science—even though there may seem to be, for (i) a fact and its negation are not possible but (ii) possibilities other than our empirical cosmos may be realized elsewhere in the universe (and from the the fundamental principle they are realized).

Tradition and the perfect metaphysics

The fundamental principle reveals an ultimate universe with the properties and consequences stated earlier. It is powerful in showing this ultimate—in illuminating the real. But it does not show how to connect to the real. For this we turn to what is valid in cumulative knowledge (see, e.g., system of human knowledge, reason, and action.html) or tradition to complement the fundamental principle.

TRADITION—because largely detailed, concrete, and hypothetical—cannot be ultimate, perfect, or complete; it is pragmatic. However, the fundamental principle reveals perfect knowledge, in light of which there is no need for perfection of the pragmatic—for the pragmatic provides the best and therefore pragmatically perfect instrument toward the ideal ultimate. The ideal illuminates the universe and the pragmatic while the latter illustrates the ideal and is instrumental toward it. The two combine to form a system that is perfect in its knowledge of the ultimate and in its pragmatic instrumentalism toward the ultimate. This system is the PERFECT METAPHYSICS—I also call it, simply, the metaphysics for brevity and to not be over presumptive of the judgment of readers.

Significance of Being, on purism

Perfect metaphysicscontinued. Its epistemology is not that of a single criterion—it has dual criteria which, as seen, are perfect; this gives some validation to traditional purist epistemologies but also limits their significance as well as the significance of 'purism'. Importantly, note that we have shown that many traditional critiques of metaphysics stem from a naive single valued epistemology—that of correspondence perfection. Instead we have a two pronged metaphysics, an abstract side from the fundamental principle which is perfect in the old way and the concrete which is perfect according to criteria revealed by the abstract. This further shows the conceptual significance of Being—it is inclusive (from neutrality) and perfect (where sufficiently abstract). Note: this is not abstraction of remoteness but of direct knowledge made possible by omitting distortion and projection due to concrete detail.

The issue of purism was also seen to arise in the tension between the immediate and the ultimate and between 'ectasy and pain'. It arises in many contexts (i) for, though we often think it base, there is essential connection among economic, political, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and other valuational issues, (ii) in the insistence on certainty for all purposes, (iii) in the insistence of substance, monism, and some specific susbstance, and (iv) more.

Paths, enjoyment, summary

The (perfect) metaphysics implies that there are feasible paths to the ultimate (a lesson from the history of modern physics is that 'feasible' and 'easy' are not the same). The home page discusses means. Some suggestions toward paths are in the sources. Further information is here; and greater detail is here.

In any path pain, suffering, ecstacy, diversion, and ENJOYMENT arise as among essential human issues. Pain cannot be avoided. Where possible it must be addressed as part of the path to the ultimate. There seems to be meaningless pain—e.g., the pain of an infant, the pain of cancer—where this can be alleviated it must be. The pain of parents may be alleviated by addressing the infant's pain, by caring, and by understanding that the capacity for pain is essential in the movement from negative to positive—locally from adaptation, and universally from the perfect metaphysics—and that from the perspective of human being pain has meaning as part of the net movement on a path. Ecstacy, too, is not to be avoided, it is to be enjoyed but not over-cultivated. Focus only on pain or ecstacy, where it is avoidable, is diversionary; where it is unavoidable it is known to be temporal. But enjoyment is not to be avoided. Without feeling, there is no meaning, no real path. Being on a path in this world and to the ultimate, sharing the path, then, are the places of enjoyment.

Summary of the way (i) the one universe is the greatest possible, (ii) all beings participate in this greatness, (iii) there are ways of realization for what we think of as limited individuals.

Definitions

 

ABOUT THE DEFINITIONS—the definitions are naturally short; some are accompanied by an explanation just below the definition. Main concepts are in capitals, secondary concepts are underlined. The concepts contitute a coherent system from the essays, especially The Way of Being (comprehensive version in process). While definite in that context, the context itself, though mature, is and must be evolving. Though informed by received conceptions, the definitions are neither the received nor intended to capture received: growth of meaning (and knowledge) is a search in “a triple space of words, concepts, and objects” (this thought is derived from the ideas of Herbert Simon, Nobel Laureate in economics, 1978). The definitions begin with ‘Being’.

BEING (capitalized) is existence; beings are existents.

That is, ‘Being’ implies no distinction other than that of existence—no other descriptor is more neutral while having reference. This neutrality has led to Being described as trivial, designating nothing at all. We find that Being is foundational; which derives precisely from the neutrality—no assumption is made in a foundation in Being (which we develop) as in the case of ‘substance’ such as matter, mind, or other proximate candidate for foundation, for example process or interaction (this neutrality may be emphasized by referring to ‘existents’ rather than ‘objects’: that which has existence is an existent; and then ‘object’ is a synonym for ‘existent’). Of course, distinctions are crucially important too and are considered under “kinds of Being’’, below.

The neutrality can be elaborated. ‘Being’ derives from the verb to be, of which an example is ‘is’. The verb to be usually refers to some specific tense while place is implicit. Here, ‘Being’ is understood as at least neutral with regard to tense and place, i.e. to spacetime. However, we shall not even assume space and time; this will be seen below in discussing “difference, sameness, and their absence”.

Herein lies a deficiency of many languages—they are over specific or under-specific with regard to the real. Their specificity obtains at a limited though practical set of levels. For exploration beyond the “empirical or immediate experiential’’ what is needed is a hierarchy of levels of specificity; then a subset of that hierarchy could be designated as ‘standard’.

Being does not make distinctions of substance or substance vs non substance; of lower or higher; of self or other; these distinctions may be found within Being (or not according to the case)

The hypothetical being that affects not and is unaffected by any other being is non existent (except of course for the universe, defined below). Being is relational.

KIND OF BEING refers to distinctions within Being, beginning at a level of generality just under that of Being.

The idea of a highest level of kinds describes the concept of the categories.

EXPERIENCE is consciousness, i.e. subjective awareness.

The word ‘experience’ emphasizes consciousness in its pure, attitudinal, and agent forms. Thus experience is relational for even the pure form has internal relation and ‘potential’ external relation, which by the metaphysics of the way is realized as actual.

Experience is the place of significant, concept, and linguistic meaning; it is the place of Being-human (though not limited to the human). It is the place of personal and object (or existent) identity (defined later).

A substance is an irreducible kind, usually introduced in conceptual terms with the intent to found all existence; more than one substance may be allowed but irreducibility rules out interaction between substances and therefore the universe, if founded in substance, must be founded in precisely one substance—i.e. the universe would be monistic. It is not known on scientific grounds that the universe is a substance universe. However, if the universe is monistic, it cannot be strictly materialist (all matter and mind no part of matter) for then experience would be impossible. If the universe is monistic, the one substance must manifest as material and experiential phenomena.

From its relational character, experience is of something (i.e. some object or existent). At the highest level that something is the entire ‘world’ or universe (defined below). Experience itself is part of the world—experience is of the world which contains experience (the longer version from the essays founds experience and establishes the world from it in an analysis that has commonalities with Descartes' ‘cogito’ analysis). The first categorial level of the way, then, divides as Psyche and Universe. Then, in the essays, universe is analyzed as (Psyche), Nature, Society (and civilization), and the (unknown aspect of the) Universe. These dimensions of Being, with the acronym PNSU, are inclusive of other categorial systems. I.e., categorial systems are not unique. However PNSU is sufficient to the way and its perfect metaphysics (below); it is not exclusive of other or sub-categories.

A CONCEPT is a mental content.

(This is a primitive meaning of ‘concept’; distinctions within this conception are introduced below.)

As experiential beings we do not get outside our experience (even if we ‘refer outside’). However, within experience there is the experienced and the experience.

By agreement among senses and experiencers, some aspects of the experienced are ‘existentive’ (objective) which identifies ‘existents’ (objects); which may be pragmatic or perfect (as seen in the essays). Thus there are concepts and objects. A concept is any mental content or experience (experience is two sided—concept on one side, object on the other—but both are existents).

The hypothetical being that ‘affects’ no experience, i.e. that manifests in no way in any experience at all, is effectively non-existent.

A percept is a concept intended as and actually bound to an object.

A free concept (‘concept’ in a more common sense) is not bound to an object but may be intended to be bound or bound by hypothesis or identification. Pure concepts are free concepts that are not intended to be bound but of course may be bound. Thus pure concepts and hypothetically bound concepts are different only by intention. A concept binding is hypothetical when the intended extent of binding exceeds the known extent; thus theories have two aspects—hypothetical when intended to be extrapolated but factual in the restricted domain of verification. Concepts may be simple or compound. Simple concepts bound to (simple) objects are usually regarded as factual. Compound concepts bound to compound objects are usually regarded as theoretical—verified or hypothetical.

Referential CONCEPT MEANING is a concept and its actual and possible objects.

Referential linguistic meaning is the triad of sign-concept-object and is adequate for the metaphysics developed here (other kinds of meaning can be described in referential terms).

Concept meaning is distinct from significant meaning—meaning as in “the meaning of life” (yet these denotations are related).

The sign-concept is a symbol. The concept is necessary for a bare sign (when you are told that ‘sher’ is the Hindi word for ‘tiger’ the visual concept arises in one's mind and acquires open ended meaning and closed meaning once it acquires or intends an existent). Signs are simple or compound; compound signs have further meaning in virtue of their structure; such structure has conventional and metaphysical aspects (i.e. the structure of the sign has at least some purchase on the structure of the real). The signs themselves are existents but their significance is that they signify. Language makes for effective representation and communication but at the cost of losing some specificity and richness. On the other hand, the symbolic nature of language makes for precision where precision is needed; see the definition of mathematics later; such precision is symbolic rather than referential precision.

Dictionaries are sources of primitive meaning. But some words in a dictionary must be undefined; their meaning arises from use in the historical community of language users. Ordinary use does not have the apparent precision of formal use. But formal use often lacks the precision it appears to have; this is especially true at the forefront of knowledge, e.g. in philosophy, and in branches of mathematics and physics that are currently only tentatively developed.

KNOWLEDGE is meaning realized.

The nature of knowledge is covered by the nature of meaning as defined above. But this does not address the question of the validity of knowledge claims. For the purposes of the development in this site, this question is addressed below via the concepts of abstraction, tradition, and the perfect metaphysics.

Derived as it is from Being and experience, the concept of knowledge makes no reference to means or criterion. Is knowledge of the object; and if so, is it empirical or rational? Or is knowledge instrumental? We will find that both objective and instrumental knowledge play role in the metaphysics to be developed. We will also find that the rational and the empirical are not essentially distinct and that the rational includes the sense data.

ABSTRACTION from a concept-object is a filter on the concept that omits detail.

With sufficient abstraction, the residual concept may be faithful to the object. Faithfulness will be understood unless otherwise stated. Thus abstraction in the present sense is direct and empirical, not remote. Is abstraction an empty conception? Being and experience without further qualification, are abstract. Abstraction from (and of) experience is a way of perfect knowledge—and so the perfect abstract metaphysics defined below.

Some essential perfect concept-objects (below) of the abstract metaphysics are sameness-difference-identity, universe, void, natural law, possibility (and necessity), and logic (and mathematics, science, and reason).

The distinction between the empirical and the rational is not absolute; they constitute a continuum; the rational may be seen as inclusive of the empirical; this is because it is concerned with concepts and percepts (the empirical) are concepts.

RELIGION is exploration of the trans-secular but not trans-empirical region in all dimensions of Being.

The common forms of religion are often stagnant and often corrupted. In demonstrating the perfect metaphysics it is shown that in this conception, religion is definite activity with deep significance (the abstract metaphysics; the perfect is grounding. This is neither justification for the cosmologies or other aspects of the traditional religions nor intended as justification. Yet, the perfect metaphysics implies is shown that even the most unlikely cosmologies must be realized subject only to consistency. Their actual realization is most probably unstable and insignificant; yet they may have symbolic significance, even under explicit literal interpretation. Further some religious cosmologies are and will be shown stable and of deep significance.

PRIMITIVE EXPERIENCE of the world is in terms of sameness-difference as immanent in Being.

Sameness and difference are primitives, and as immanent in Being; they are precursors to and inclusive of space-time-substance.

Extension is extended sameness-difference. It may be coordination but the concept itself does not imply coordination or measure. It is primitive to and includes spatial or spatiotemporal extension. Note that ‘extension’ has a different meaning in relation to concepts and their objects

Self is sense of locus of control and awareness as distinct from the remainder of experience. IDENTITY is sense of sameness of existent, including self.

Change—time—is marked by sameness of identity with difference. Space is marked by differing identity without sameness. Space and time thus defined are not absolute, eternal, or distinct; they are immanent, coeval with Being, and interwoven.

TRADITION is what is at least pragmatically valid in the knowledge and practice of all (human) cultures.

Tradition includes modern culture with its academic disciplines and professions.

PERFECT METAPHYSICS (1)—is the join, as follows, of the abstract and tradition.

The abstract is perfect as faithful to its objects, which includes the universe as the greatest possible object and identity in which all identities merge, it illuminates and guides tradition.

Tradition illustrates the abstract and is the perfect (even though ‘only’ pragmatic—because it is the only instrument… and because it is suited to the task) instrument toward the ideal revealed by the abstract. The perfect metaphysics is both metaphysics and epistemology; it is an epistemology with dual criteria: faithfulness for the abstract, pragmatic for tradition. It revises but does not displace the significance of traditional epistemology.

It has been seen in discussing Being that there is some perfect metaphysics. Perfect metaphysics is taken up again later.

The UNIVERSE is all Being over all sameness-difference of Being…

…and absence of sameness-difference.

There is one and only one universe. The universe is not created by another being (there is no other being). If the universe has a cause, it is not and cannot be another being. If the universe has a cause, it must be distinct from cause as understood as the contiguous being-being cause of common experience and refined in physical science. One candidate cause is possibility. However, mere possibility allows that the existence or manifest Being of the universe could be otherwise—it is accidental. That leaves one case of possibility—i.e., necessity. Necessity would be a valid (kind of) cause—but does it obtain? The perfect metaphysics demonstrates it. This can be understood heuristically by assuming that the existence of the universe has an explanation. As seen, it cannot be explained as the effect of another being. Also as seen, the explanation cannot be in terms of possibility, except its special case of necessity. Leibniz held that everything in existence has a cause in the sense of the causation of common experience and named this the principle of sufficient reason. It is now evident that Leibniz principle does not hold; however it does hold if cause is interpreted as necessity.

The VOID is the absence of Being.

Does the void exist? Perhaps the simplest demonstration is that its existence and nonexistence are equivalent. While existence of the void is self-consistent and not contradicted by science or experience, the demonstration may be questioned. When the magnitude of its consequences is encountered, there will be an imperative to doubt. Therefore, from its significance and consistency, existence of the void may be regarded as a universal law (initially to be regarded as hypothetical), necessary fact, or existential principle of action.

A PART of the universe is either the universe itself or a sub-part.

Except perhaps for the void, the parts are clearly beings.

There is no significance other than existence to the appellation ‘being’. What, then, may we make of the ‘profound’ analyses of Martin Heidegger and other existential philosophers? We have seen that Being as Being is ‘profound’. The analysis of Being is significant—distinction and sameness are both important—and is taken up under kinds of Being.

A naive idea of POSSIBILITY is something that can obtain.

This requires clarification for precision and elaboration.

Knowledge may err (1) in internal inconsistency among its concepts, (2) in inconsistency between concepts and percepts or facts. The first defines logical possibility (incompletely) and the second defines empirical and scientific possibility. The definition of (deductive) logical possibility is completed as follows—it is the condition on concepts without which realization is possible under no circumstance. Logical possibility is a precondition, often unstated because built in, for scientific possibility. Scientific possibility, e.g. possibility according to the laws of physics, is a subset of the logically possible. Logical possibility is the greatest possibility—i.e. it cannot be ruled out without contrary evidence and it cannot be exceeded.

Scientific possibility is expressed in terms of conceptual systems called theories. Theories begin as hypothetical predictive or explanatory systems for data, observations, and phenomena (some of which may be expressed as lower level theories, already established). Thus theories are essentially empirical.

Theories are hypothetical when extended to the entire universe but factual in their domain of validity (the fact in question is compound). They are often thought to describe the entire universe but this is because the latest theory is not just valid over the entire empirical domain but also our best way of understanding the universe so far. Thus we can see how Newtonian Mechanics is limited because we have later theories (e.g. quantum field theory and general relativity) that show its domain of validity and are realistic outside that domain. However we have no current guide to similarly illuminate the latest theories.

On other hand we often think of our logics, and therefore logic itself, as necessary and a priori. But logic too can be seen as empirical in the following ways.

First, as defined above, logic is not just a set of necessary truths of inference, but a certain relation between concepts (usually expressed symbolically) and objects; this is empirical (understood as including the experiential) even though the apparent necessity of logic tends to hide the source. Thus while the law of non contradiction seems necessary, the law of the excluded middle may be contingent.

A second way in which logic is empirical, at least not a priori, is as follows. Perhaps the most basic system of logic is the propositional calculus. Here the structure of sentences is irrelevant; sentences are treated as wholes. The logical values of sentences lie in the ‘space’ {True, False}; and the calculus deals with “truth preserving relations between sentences”, particularly the if-then form. But it is appropriate to as Is even part of reality defined thus—i.e., does the propositional calculus have application? It certainly seems so but note that at least the question may be raised. But clearly, also, even if part of reality is so defined, does that extend to all reality (even understood as captured by the referential form)? This is a source of multi-valued logics.

There is also the extension of the propositional calculus that takes up “necessary truth” and “strict implication”; this is the source of modal logics.

Next in the classical logics regarded as about bare truth and falsity, after the propositional, is the predicate calculus (calculi) with quantification (the syllogism is a special case); it deals with sentences in the “subject-predicate form”. That there may be other sentence forms of interest renders logic as potentially empirical in just that way.

The first form of the FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF METAPHYSICS is the assertion that the void is a being.

That is, the void exists.

This is demonstrated from the properties of the void. Naturally, doubt arises. See The Way of Being for discussion of doubt and alternative ways to look at the fundamental principle. These alternates start with the observations that there are alternative proofs and heuristics for the principle; that the principle is self (logically) consistent and consistent with experience (science); and that it is of fundamental significance. The alternatives are to look at the principle as a universal law-hypothesis open to experiment with as an existential action principle (the second alternative).

A natural LAW is a pattern in a part of the universe.

A law is really a concept (the reading of the pattern) and an object (the pattern). Laws are found empirically and are therefore local.

The laws have Being—i.e., they are beings: as immanent in Being, the patterns are abstractions from Being; they are concept-objects, which specify beings (consistency is regarded as given).

The second form of the fundamental principle of metaphysics is the assertion that the one universe is the greatest possible.

This form is demonstrated from the first form and the Being of the laws.

From this form of the principle, it follows that the universe is the realization of the logically consistent or possible. Thus the greatest possibility and logical possibility are identical.

It now follows that all beings interact and an earlier statement may be modified—The hypothetical being that ‘affects’ no experience, i.e. that manifests in no way in any experience at all, is non-existent. It is not being said that experience ‘creates’ the object; rather, the universe is effectively experiential and essentially relational.

An IDEAL ABSTRACT OBJECT is the concept-object pair for a concept that is sufficiently abstracted for perfect faithfulness to be meaningful and fulfilled.

From the fundamental principle the system of logical concepts is realized. This defines an abstract metaphysics—the abstract metaphysics (of the way).

This enables (vast) extension of the perfect metaphysics.

Perfect metaphysics (2)—light font indicates repetition of earlier content—is the join, as follows, of the abstract and tradition.

The abstract is perfect as faithful to its objects, which includes the universe as the greatest possible object and identity in which all identities merge, it illuminates and guides tradition.

Tradition illustrates the abstract and is the perfect (even though ‘only’ pragmatic—because it is the only instrument… and because it is suited to the task) instrument toward the ideal revealed by the abstract. The perfect metaphysics is both metaphysics and epistemology; it is an epistemology with dual criteria: faithfulness for the abstract, pragmatic for tradition. It revises but does not displace the significance of traditional epistemology.

Now, the metaphysics shows the universe to be the greatest possible; it is ultimate in that sense but also in the implicit sense that it captures that ultimate universe. This ultimate character is revealed by the abstract analysis of Being. Now tradition is revealed as a perfect instrument of realization. Though pragmatic, no more is necessary and no more possible in relation to the concrete; it is the instrument of movement from cosmos to cosmos in approaching the ultimate.

An ABSTRACT OBJECT is one which abstracted sufficiently that it is not seen as concrete.

But his now shows that ‘abstract’ - ‘concrete’ distinction is not absolute but one of a continuum (it may seem absolute to human beings because their perceptual system is attuned to a level of abstraction that they naturally find ‘concrete’). However the distinction is not of kind, but of (most convenient) way of knowing—it is convenient to know the concrete empirically, i.e. by the senses, and the abstract symbolically or conceptually, which when subject to logic, is rational.

MATHEMATICS—a preliminary and incomplete definition of mathematics is that it is a collection of consistent axiomatic systems.

This is rather similar to Bertrand Russell’s definition (it begins—mathematics is the class of propositions of the form if p, then q…) but it has the same problem as Russell's definition—it gives us no clue as to what identifies a set of primitive terms, definitions, and axioms as mathematics, e.g. why are pieces, board, and rules of chess not seen as mathematics? And intuitionists and constructivists would reject this definition outright—but to begin, let us accept it as a framework for definition of mathematics.

From the fundamental principle, all mathematical systems are realized (since they are consistent). Mathematics is about the real, as are the sciences of physics, biology, mind, and society. We may say that sciences are abstract or concrete. Mathematics is an example of the abstract; the just mentioned sciences are concrete. But the abstract and the concrete fall under one umbrella as the concept side of the real.

All mathematical systems are realized. But what is mathematics? Clearly, it is a subset of the logically consistent system of concepts (usually linguistically or symbolically expressed). But what subset?

This is of course the critical question—elusive, and only incompletely answered to the satisfaction of mathematicians and philosophers. It has to do with form, structure, and change in the world (geometry and dynamics); it has to with number and order (e.g. arithmetic and number systems); it has to do with abstraction of and from the foregoing (algebra). The characterization remains very partial. Let us leave the definition of mathematics at that because it is as much a question of practice as it is of defining.

But there is a residual question. Is symbolic expression, which implies that the results of a definite system are countable, adequate to the task? First, it is admirable in being suitable to formalization, discrete inspection, and proof and provability, and therefore to a greater degree of certainty (all characteristics of mathematics) than in the concrete sciences. On the other hand it may be incomplete because of the limitation to countability. This is more problematic than often realized for it casts a shadow over all systematic symbolic knowledge that has not been demonstrated complete. One resolution is to realize that though the results of a given system are countable, the number of such systems is not; given an incomplete system, a related one may be found that patches up some of its gaps. Another is to recognize the importance of intuition, particularly since it is not necessarily limited to the countable (and since it is part of the world, it is possible that it may measure the world). This may be one way of future mathematics and knowledge. It may be a way forward for Being-in-the-universe. It is important to note that we ought not to oppose intuition and the formal but to see that they may and do complement each other.

Mathematics begins (historically: began as) empirical; by generalization and systematization it became axiomatic, perhaps originally with Euclidean Geometry. Though originally regarded as the science (study) of space, it was already at least implicitly abstract with Euclid. Then, over two and a half millennia, mathematics emerged as abstract. But now with intuition and computation the empirical side rises again and perhaps axiomatization and proof and empirical study are finally poised to become equals.

SCIENCE is critical and imaginative study of the real, based in and keeping close empirical contact to the real..

This is an evolution relative to the earlier preliminary definition.

The critical is understood as experimental and rational.

The sciences are abstract and concrete. Examples of the concrete were given above. The abstract includes mathematics, linguistics, computer science, and (deductive) logic. But via the perfect metaphysics, deductive logic can be extended to an earlier meaning of general effective but not only certain inference. Then the sciences and logics are structures within logic.

REASON is the entire effective system of relations between concepts and existents.

That is, reason is the system of effective relations between thought and the world (with thought seen as including perception and feeling—and therefore value and values).

Thus reason includes the perfect and the pragmatic; and attitude and action; it is the perfect metaphysics (in action but the perfect metaphysics in action is imaged in the perfect metaphysics).

An appropriate term for reason is logos (roughly as understood, not in the Christian representation of Christ, but in the philosophy of ancient Greece, but extended as the perfect metaphysics). In the extended sense just above under science, logic and logos are the same.

The BRAHMAN of the Vedanta and Aeternitas of Thomas Aquinas are the logos.

Atman is the true experiential self of individuals. From the perfect metaphysics, Atman realizes Brahman; there are effective paths to individual and collective—civilization—realization (essays.html, particularly The Way of Being).

An essential problem of realization is pain; in reflecting on pain, note that it has function and therefore cannot be ‘turned off’ even where non-functional as in pain while dying or the pain of the innocent. How should real pain be addressed? It should be addressed where possible, in the immediate; the afflicted must be supported; but the goal of focus, except when pain makes it impossible, is realization; without which pain is unnecessary suffering.

COSMOLOGY is the study of the variety and extension of Being. General cosmology is study of cosmology under the most general principles—i.e. the abstract metaphysics which sees the universe as the realization of logic.

Every fiction of the world, even the religious texts, is realized in a phase of the universe (subject of course to logical constraint). The significance of this is discussed below.

Under general cosmology the universe has identity; the universe and its identity are limitless with regard to variety, extension, peaks of Being (and their variety, quality, and magnitude) and dissolutions; particularly, the universe and its identity have manifestation as limitless arrays of cosmos over extension—which have limitless varieties in ‘physical law’ the individual is limited in this form, but the limitation is the result of ‘natural’ but not absolute limits to perception and conception; the individual has no absolute limits—i.e. the individual inherits the limitlessness of the universe; that is, death is real but not absolute.

Given a being, there is a greater sentient being.

Under general cosmology the universe is absolutely indeterministic in that given a being, e.g. a cosmos, its contiguous evolution is not at all predictable or given (even though there is predictability and givenness if it follows its nature or laws). It is also absolutely deterministic in that given a being in some state, it will assume all states.

Let us define the block universe—or a block view of the universe (putting aside contemporary conceptions of the total vs unfolding block universe). We might define it as the universe over all extension. However, that is just the earlier definition. The block universe is just the universe (but the phrase reminds us of the block view). Given absolute indeterminism, the region—trajectory—of a being in the block intersects multiple versions of the being… and other beings as well. The merging and separation of identities and the peaking and dissolution of phases of the universe occur within the block and this is one way of understanding them.

Consider an individual in a cosmos. What we have said above is that the individual has limitless freedom (though limited in this world as discussed earlier). But if the block is given, how can the individual be free? To discuss this, the concept of determinism must be re-viewed and carefully defined. If a being is determined by a part, the being is deterministic with respect to the part. Thus if the universe were spatial and temporal and a temporal slice determined the entire future, the universe would be temporally deterministic. Given a cosmos, it has a degree of determinism but also indeterminism (under the perfect metaphysics). The block is in no way determined by the cosmos; thus individuals finding themselves limited in the cosmic perspective have limitless freedom (except that illogical conceptions are not realized; but this is not a true limit) in the block perspective. Thus individuals have freedom of will—the ability to make and create and execute choice—and determination. Is freedom of will possible under either determinism or indeterminism? We take this up below.

The COSMOLOGY OF FORM AND FORMATION is the study of formed beings and their formation against the background of general cosmology.

How is form and formation possible? The perfect metaphysics requires it. Why then do we not see every possible kind of form, from the small to the large, intersect our cosmos? The perfect metaphysics requires that too. But we would like to understand form in more traditional terms (the reader may want to review the concept of ‘tradition’). Where may we find mechanisms of form and formation other than the necessity of the general abstract necessity of the pure metaphysics? We look to our scientific theories. Theoretical physics provides descriptions of form—the dynamical systems of quantum field theory and general relativity—QFT and GR; but they do not speak to reasons and origins of those forms (the perfect metaphysics requires them but provides no explanation beyond necessity). Evolutionary biology gives us an account of the history of life; it does not go back to the origins of life from non-living matter but it does explain of some forms from others. The mechanism is interesting. Cutting to the essentials there are indeterministic variations that are selected by and when they have stability (adaptation within an environment). Must the variations be indeterministic—yes if there is to be true novelty. Can they be indeterministic given determinism? We are not given determinism for even if QFT is, for QFT is not the final theory (while the conclusion is likely from science, it is necessary from the perfect metaphysics). That is, while indeterminism and determinism are not individually adequate to formation, their intersection is. Darwinian evolution provides a model for formation. The general model may turn out to be extended to abiogenesis; and to creativity in thought; expression of free will occurs at the intersection of determinism and indeterminism, which removes the objections of pure indeterminism and indeterminism; it also clarifies that ‘freedom’ does not mean absolute or unimpeded freedom as may be seen from relative limits in the local perspective (that the freedom should be unimpeded results from focus only on the term ‘free’ and not ‘will’). It may also provide a model for formation of cosmoses from the void; and from one another. But the perfect metaphysics requires that it be a model though not a universal one. A major point to the model is that it is an explanation of the stability and numerical preponderance of systems formed according to it. Thus fictions may be realized but may also be insignificant relative to the ‘stable formation’ under the extended Darwinian model that has been named self-adaptive systems theory.