Journey in Being
Anil Mitra, Copyright © JULY 2013—March 2015
This document outlines a new approach to the narrative as outlined in the introduction. Plans for the document are (1) to revise and hone the concept and outline and (2) to return to write the document after a time away from writing.
Journey in Being
Journey in Being is a search for discovery and realization of the Universe and its greatest forms.
‘Being’ signifies that which exists and no more. In contrast kinds such as matter and mind are hypothetical if they have greater specificity than Being. This neutrality of Being makes it empowering as foundation for discovery and realization.
I use the term journey because (1) I came to experience my search as a journey (2) ‘Journey’ has often been used to describe the human endeavor and (3) I demonstrated a worldview in which the Being of the universe is ultimate which implies that individuals realize the ultimate but while in limited form realization must be an endless process through variety without limit.
In approaching this endeavor we have a range of inheritances—in our ideas, our form, our society and civilization. We cannot cast this all aside for it includes our living form. Yet to enhance the process it is well to be ready to set some part of the inheritance aside. Understanding what part would be part of the endeavor but we may begin with ideas, ambitions, and experiments in possibility. I found an approach from Being and openness to the meaning of Being to be instrumental in full entry into a journey of realization and discovery.
The overarching aim is the journey.
To maximize the quality, dimensions, and significance of the process required foundation in terms of an understanding of the Universe—the worldview or metaphysics of the Universe as ultimate; I found it enhanced to develop the process as one of individual and civilization; and I found it useful to recast certain fundamental endeavors in terms of the discoveries.
Following is a set of fundamental endeavors chosen as adequate to breadth and foundation of human endeavor in itself and relation to the Universe.
(a) The nature of experience and founding of a real world that contains experience which shows signs of being essentially relational and allows pan-experientialism; (b) An understanding of meaning and analysis and synthesis of meaning as the essential process of discovery; (c) A preliminary understanding of agency—means, vehicles including individual and civilization, places, modes of transformation, and mechanics—of human being; (d) An understanding of Realism and consequently Logic and science in a new way; (e) An understanding of Being and Universe and unified understanding of concrete and abstract objects including, especially, identity, difference, extension, and duration as well their co-immanence with Being (i.e. space-time is relative to Being rather than absolute); (f) Naturally, an understanding of the ideas of ‘mind’ and ‘matter’ and their relation as constitutional rather than contingent (that the ‘relation’ is constitutional means that they are ‘cut of the same cloth’ while it allows they are not identical); and (g) An understanding of civilization and its endeavor-journey—intrinsic concerning Being and instrumental concerning artifact-technology; the place of individuals; the disciplines and ways of civilization including science, logic, and religion and their in-process aspect; and understanding of universal Civilization.
The approach has seen a number of iterations. It began with what I received from education and immersion in the cultures of our times. Even where our inheritance is incomplete it is immensely useful to master and use at least some of its contours. Later, I realized the significance of a retreat from early enthusiasm to a neutral ground in search for universal understanding. Definite positions, foundations, and ramifications emerged incrementally. A recent account begins with what our inherited knowledge definitely says and what it allows; it formulates a metaphysics in terms of the main concepts of experience, real world, being, universe, natural law, the void, which lead to the ultimate character of the universe; this forms foundation for immersion of individual and civilization in universal process; along the way there is revision of the foundation and understanding of a range of disciplines and endeavors.
In this version I experiment with an alternate form of expression. I begin with the range of disciplines and endeavors. Some of these have ‘canonical’ positions but in all cases there is a range of possibilities. The goal is to lay out the range with sufficient neutrality that the actual position must within the range. This is of course not entirely easy to do (a) because of preconception and insufficient depth and (b) may over-specify possibilities out of an ill conceived attempt at inclusivity. This is one reason that the history of thought is perhaps more useful in foundational questions in philosophy that it is in disciplines of science whose subject matter is more definite.
An example is the nature of experience as subjective awareness which is the same as or closely related to consciousness. The positions include questions ‘Is there such a thing as experience?’ (some doubt it), ‘Is there anything else?’ (it may seem absurd to contemplate this possibility but showing the obvious—that there is a real world—is immensely useful), ‘Is experience a substance or an interaction?’, ‘Is experience founded in matter as we know it?’ and others. And of course the final question can receive no careful answer unless we simultaneously ask whether matter-as-we-know-it is also well founded (and one way to proceed positively and yet without assuming matter is to proceed in terms of Being). The delineation of positions will of course not be limited to ‘experience’ but will consider other issues such as those defined above.
The approach to narrative will then be as follows. An early goal is to see what specificity reflections from the concept of Being may introduce. Since Being is ‘neutral’ we might expect that it will not narrow down the range of possibilities. However that is not the case because in an attempt to be comprehensive we may have introduced some impossibilities that we thought of as possibilities.
Now since ‘Being’ is a concept we might wonder how its contemplation can introduce ‘realism’ (the term has a variety of uses but here realism will obtain to the extent that our understanding of the world matches the world and will of course include questions of the meaning and possibility of such matching). We wonder this because surely realism requires experience. The response is that many of our concepts already have experience tacitly built in and it may be possible to tease out this experience, to assess it and to derive implications (we will not assume that all possible experience is already built into our concepts and therefore this does not entail the position that analysis of meaning is a means of discovery but rather that it is a means of making explicit what is already ‘known’ but not explicit; we will find however that analysis and synthesis of meaning can be so conceived to include all discovery and that analysis and synthesis of Being can be so conceived to include all realization—all process).
Therefore there is a prior to the early goal of learning from Being. It is what is done in the early emergence of thought from its pre-reflective stage. In this stage we are self-conscious about our thought but this self-consciousness is partial and piece meal. We proceed as though we have mooring but we do not have complete mooring; but we proceed so sometimes from unawareness but other times in awareness of incomplete mooring but also knowing that to think at all we must accept this incompleteness. Our approach to science is sometimes like this: we are effective positivists because we trust only science (various reductionist positivisms go beyond this and the extreme case not always fully conscious is that the universe is what is revealed so far). The first stage of delineation of the issues will be this except of course that there will be an attempt to lay out the range of possibilities with the benefit of hindsight and imagination. The consideration from Being will be a second stage.
The remaining stages will consider the Universe as All Being (over all coordinate extensions such as time and space and non-extension under appropriate meanings of the term ‘non-extension’), domains within the Universe, the Void as containing no Being (and therefore no natural laws) but as having Being. This latter stage results in a universal metaphysics—the universe as ultimate. At this final stage many possibilities will have been eliminated yet a range of possibilities will remain. Some will concern the Universe as a whole and where the range of possibilities is singular we will arrive at an absolute which may be pan-temporal or trans-temporal; more than one possibility will mean, for example, occurrence at one time or other. Other possibilities will be local—‘here’ or ‘there’ but not everywhere; these concern varieties of local conditions and experience; all will be experienced ‘sometime’ and ‘somewhere’ and, if it is not a violation of realism, will be experienced will limitless repetition (and yet from ultimacy the universe will have but transcend ‘eternal return’.)
Enhancements of these ideas—June 20, 2013
1. The form of essays. The ideas below in items 2, 3… suggest modifications of form.
Here is a consideration conceived some years ago but did not implement. Rather than ‘beginning at the beginning’ the beginning might be at the kernel—the fundamental principle and its main consequences—and build outward. This approach would be intrinsically motivational. And since development is inherently ‘spiral’ it would avoid the illusion of the foundational text (even of canonical texts such as the works of Euclid in mathematics) for even when such texts stand as monuments in themselves they remain part of a process (thus Euclid does not apparently conceive the alternative to the axiom of parallels and even though Euclidean Geometry is—unlike Arithmetic—has been shown consistent, complete, and decidable, it is not clear that even this story is un-revisable).
Now the document might have multiple formats that can be computer automated and so the strengths of the alternatives are preserved and the weaknesses (at least partially) compensated.
2. Introduction and prologue.
This will include motivation of ‘journey’, ‘being’ in their own terms, jointly, and in terms of the endeavor of human being. It will critique the standard paradigms—secular and trans-secular—and the idea of systematic metaphysics.
The above is standard in the written work. The following might also be addressed. ‘How to’ questions such as ‘How to do philosophy? Metaphysics?’ and the idea of spiral development.
3. The first main enhancement is formalization of stages and issues of development.
Preliminary. Note that the members and order of introduction of stages and issues and whether a member belongs exclusively to one or other are open. Though general reasons for this should be fairly obvious, specific reasons are given below. Note also that members might be joined; for example, experience and Being which are define separate stages below might be joined (likely as a result of careful reflection).
The stages will be (a) Naïve in which we proceed as might be ‘normal’ in a temporally first philosophy—somewhere between unquestioning and naïve questioning. Since it is ‘first’ there are likely to be unasked questions—although the approach is critical, criticism can only criticize what imagination or experience reveals as explicit. Since it is, roughly, a first questioning the process of questioning has not been refined into a rationality that follows initial and therefore naïve rationality. Note, as is now obvious, that ‘naïve’ does not mean unaware, non-rational, and non-critical. There is of course an exception to this disclaimer—in group interaction, e.g. professionalism, there seem inevitably to be questions that are known but not asked as a matter of induction into the group. (b) Introduction of experience and meaning (and issue of representation versus interest which includes feeling, value, and morals). There is a question of whether to introduce experience here or below under issues. It may be good to introduce experience under both stages and experience. (c) Being. (d) Universe. (e) Fact, Law, science, and logic. (f) Domain. (e) Void—concept, properties, and existence. (f) Metaphysics. (g) Doubt (the ‘four’ canonical doubts). The canonical responses. (h) Residual doubt, certainty, significance, and faith. (j) Applied metaphysics (interaction of the metaphysics and disciplines).
Issues. (a) Experience, meaning, and agency. (b) Realism, Logic, and science. and meaning. (c) Metaphysics. Objects. (d) Cosmology. Will include physical and psychical cosmology where psychical cosmology includes questions of the nature and extent of ‘mind’. (e) Civilization. (f) The way. Includes means, modes, vehicles, place, mechanics, canonical ways (disciplines and endeavors). (g) Closure—e.g. transience and arrival, limited and ultimate form.
The stages and issues may be written as a matrix:
Development of the narrative over time recognizes that what is learned at each pass, no matter how definitive, is incremental. The increment may be of this particular narrative or seen as part of a larger process of ‘all narratives and all authors’.
General discussion—secular and trans-secular forms…
A significant class of issues—these are the ones that are neutrally specified; get these from outline.html.
The idea of ‘open world’ is not at all new—but its explicit mention is relatively new.
It refers to the typical way we proceed—e.g. in day to day affairs and much of philosophy where concepts are deployed without regard to context leaving an immense amount of vagueness.
This approach is natural in day to day affairs which are still emerging from ‘origins’ and in analytic philosophy the ‘piece meal’ and ‘surface’ approach has been a programmatic reaction of some thinkers to the problems of system and depth foundation.
However, the analyses of this site (see outline.html for example) show that the Universe is a closed system (and understanding for a limited form is closed in some directions but must remain open in others).
Generalities; for the class of issues this develops with the narrative; knowledge is an important enough special case (explain) to deserve a separate section
Criticism and its significance
Mind and matter
Science and Logic
Destiny—are we special
Alternate title: Universe
Will narrow down the possibilities for the significant class of issues
Demonstration and elementary consequences
Meaning of the metaphysics
Rationalism and modernism
Doubt and its function
Alternate proof and plausibility
Significance of plausibility
Ground issues revisited in terms of the universal metaphysics
Journey and its envelope
These are elements of realization
Why the section begins with progress