ANIL MITRA, © JANUARY 2014—July 2017
Comment. The intent of this table, previously called ‘fast track’ of main ideas and truths, is to provide a wide perspective that is useful in realization and in understanding and improving the metaphysics.
Comment. Edit. Especially ‘journey’ and ‘path’.
Comment. Table of main ideas.
Comment. The intent of this table, previously called ‘fast track’ of main ideas and truths, is to provide a wide perspective that is useful in realization and in understanding and improving the metaphysics.
Comment. Titles marked by an asterisk contain new material. These, with the exception of the later chapter ‘Normal worlds’ are in this division. The options for the new material in order of preference are (a) replace the old with the new, (b) integrate old and the new, and (c) leave the new and old headings and material unchanged.
Comment. In the new material development through cosmology is general. The purpose of representative topics (matter-extensivity-complexity-life, mind-identity-spirit) is to show dependence on concepts.
The narrative presents and proves a view of the universe and its consequences. The view is named the universal metaphysics. It will also be referred to as the metaphysics.
The main assertion of the new view is that the universe realizes all possibilities which I call fundamental principle of metaphysics or fundamental principle (FP). It follows that the universe has identity and an alternate statement of the principle is that the universe and its identity are limitless.
The main consequences for our being in the universe are that the individual realizes universal identity and that while in limited form realization of identity is an endless but ever fresh journey.
We can imagine violations of fact and reason (logic). That such violations do not occur are constraints on imagination for realism but are not limits on the universe. Limitlessness does not imply that our cosmos is either infinite or finite in size. It does entail that the universe is limitlessly greater than our cosmos in extensivity (e.g., space and time) and in variety. It does mean that the universe and its identity go through phases of acute, diffuse, and absent manifestation.
Since the meaning and possibility of metaphysics are questioned today, one task of the narrative will be to ‘justify’ the meaning of metaphysics used here. The justification will be to show that in the sense used here, metaphysics is possible and potent. It may encompass but will not displace other significant ancient or modern meanings of metaphysics.
That the universe realizes all possibilities is not a new idea. However, the demonstration (proof) is new. This makes the metaphysics is essentially new because (1) without proof it is merely an idea and (2) the demonstration provides confidence in and method for development of a system of insights and consequences for human endeavor and human knowledge.
Though I have given a proof I have not satisfied myself that all doubt is removed. However I have shown that the new metaphysics is consistent with all that is valid in our received knowledge and with our best sense of realism. Therefore, so far as we do not regard the metaphysics as proved we may take it to be an excellent hypothesis for action—an existential principle of knowledge and action.
The metaphysics, either as valid by demonstration or as a principle of action, results in a system of understanding and action that finds a place for but far exceeds human knowledge and endeavor so far. It forms a boundary for both possibility and necessity—which according to the metaphysics are identical—and it gives an altered significance to received knowledge. The significance is that the received is one instrument in the realization of a limitlessly larger whole and that while the received and the question of its validity do not lose significance, that significance is largely reduced to practical rather than fundamental interest.
The introduction proves and explains the continuity of the new metaphysics and the journey with history—with the inseparable human endeavors of being-in-the-present and of seeking beyond. Our history of culture and exploration is a significant motive to my experience.
Nature—the wild—has been another motive. It has been critical as ground and inspiration. As ground it is a place of—a portal to—our greatest being. Nature has been a source of inspiration—many insights of this work occurred in the wild. These include the central insights of the equivalence of the universe and the void and of how to prove this equivalence. The later chapter history of the metaphysics elaborates the development of the metaphysics.
Comment. Comment on nature scenes here, in the introduction, and at the first picture.
The universe realizes all possibilities—this assertion will be demonstrated. The demonstration will show the sense of possibility must be the most liberal that does not result in contradiction. The meaning and systematically developed consequences of the principle above constitute a worldview or metaphysics—the universal metaphysics.
We will find that the metaphysics is trivial and powerful and that the triviality or transparency and power or depth is duals.
The division metaphysics demonstrates the principle and consequences. It gives meaning to the idea of ‘the most liberal sense of possibility’ that enables using principle as an instrument of prediction. It reconciles apparent contradictions with our experience; and it shows common experience and science mesh with the universal metaphysics. While improvement is always possible and sought, this division is essentially complete.
Consequences and equivalences include the following. The universe is limitless in its variety, duration, and extent—and in terms of such measures, the measure of our empirical cosmos an infinitesimal fraction of the measure of the universe. The universe has manifestation and identity in acute, diffuse, and absent phases. The universe confers its power, identity, and manifestation on human being and civilization.
A crucial consequence for human being and civilization—shown in metaphysics—is that while in limited form realization of identity is an endless but ever fresh journey.
The process or journey is described in division journey and a path—generic and particular—and its ‘mechanics’ are described in ‘path’ which, for convenience, is divided into three parts: wide perspective, be-ing: sustaining, and becoming: transforming.
I have made some progress in the execution of a path. There has always been interaction of the ideas with my ‘being’ in nature and culture. The design in path is partly the result of intentional activity in its chapter and section areas—a way of life, sustaining, ideas, individual and identity, civilization, and artifact. The path is already in process but necessarily remains in process, for ‘in the life of realization we are always at the beginning’. This division is incomplete by intention—and by necessity.
The metaphysics is mature but inevitably open to improvement. However the path must remain in process—this is necessarily a narrative-in-process. This idea is amplified in a section on narrative mode. In the short term there will be iterative improvement as occasions for it arise.
The division field notes an open space for a record of ideas and action.
This work is designed to be accessible to a range of readers. This preface and the introduction are access inroads and should at least be skimmed by all readers.
The work has two main foci: ideas or concepts and action or realization. Readers who would be selective should know what they may be missing which can be defined as follows: the concepts are incomplete without action and efficient action requires conceptual understanding.
The information below defines the separation of the two foci and will be useful for readers who wish to be selective in their focus.
The foundation and metaphysics divisions are conceptual—they discuss metaphysics as such, the metaphysics of the narrative, and the bases of realization. Readers who would focus on realization—which includes living in the world—its nature, principles, and ways will be interested in divisions journey and path.
I have sought understanding of being and universe and ways of realization. My reading in these areas has been extensive. What I have found grew out of my reading, reflection, and experience. However, I believe it goes beyond the received literature and tradition. The work records discoveries; it builds upon but is not a compilation of familiar ideas. Many familiar systems of ideas are important to the work but where I have presented them it has often been necessary to recast them—which means that even the superficially familiar is often touched by newness. But the present development goes beyond the familiar even in its recast form. Readers may find the ideas essentially new and counter to their intuition and tacit or explicit worldviews. They should therefore expect to be on unfamiliar ground. Re-education of intuition will require patience. The reward, I hope, will be a picture of the universe and our place in it that is greater our inherited views.
Suggestions on reading the narrative may be useful.
In understanding the narrative meaning is important in that (1) the notion of meaning itself is important and (2) it is important to be aware of the specific meanings of terms used here. Though meaning and its significance are treated in the narrative some preliminary comments will be useful to the reader.
It is important to distinguish the meanings of ‘meaning’. One meaning is the one that occurs in the phrase ‘the meaning of life is not given to us but requires discovery’ and for this I will use the phrase significant meaning. The other and crucial sense of meaning is concept or linguistic meaning and for this the text will use the term ‘meaning’ without the adjective prefix ‘significant’.
These two senses of meaning are the ones employed in the text (any other uses of meaning in the text are informal) and they have overlap in that significant meaning often results from (concept) meaning.
It is crucial that while we casually think that abstract (‘contentless’) signs refer to objects, no such reference is possible without at least presence or implicit association to a concept. Absence of such reference results in empty ‘content’ and, often, confusion and paradox.
The intimate connection of concept and object is one face of the interwoven character—the duals—of being and experience (use of the word ‘dual’ emphasizes that one goes with the other and is not intended to suggest dualism). It is probably adaptive to day-to-day affairs that we should conflate concept and object or word and object. The day-to-day occurs in shared contexts that are familiar where the conflation depends for its efficacy on familiarity with the context. When we go beyond the familiar there is no as yet shared context. Here analysis—recognition of word, concept, and object—is essential to meaning. It is remarkable that in small hunter-gather communities, anthropologists have found that definition is a common element of communication. In our large modern contexts we have greater occasion and need for fixity of use but since we will and may want to face new contexts we have not lost the need for fluidity. I believe that we have just begun to fathom the nature and use of the relation between experience and being—between word-concept and object.
It is important to pay careful attention to the concepts as defined here. Many ideas (words) in the narrative are in common use but their use here depends on the definitions given which are always specific and often new. Readers who do not pay attention to the definitions may miss their actual significance and be distracted by meanings used elsewhere. The concept of being, for example, has been used in many senses and often carries a connotation of depth or essence. Here, however, the concept of being is simple. Following the narrative with this simple form of the idea in mind allows depth to emerge and avoids confusion that may result from anticipating of what depth should emerge.
It is significant that the net meaning of the system of ideas is greater than the ‘sum’ of the individual meanings. This is because the net meaning derives from the individual ideas in relation to one another.
The concepts of mathematics have origin in the world but it is a near consensus that the objects are best treated as abstract. Therefore when we attempt to specify a system of objects via specification of system concepts (definitions) there is no guarantee that there will in fact be an object system. This is perhaps the main conceptual reason that axiomatic treatment is useful (practical reasons include transparency, clarity, brevity, and conceptual ‘bookkeeping’). Given an axiomatic system we can study consistency, completeness, and realization (systems that realize the axiom system which are generally abstract models)—therefore the study of axiomatic systems in mathematics (and logic) is generally ‘relative’.
In metaphysics we are not treating abstract objects (there is a modern line of thought that metaphysics is the study of abstract objects and while this is a valid endeavor we will argue in metaphysics that metaphysics should be and is validly and consistently conceived as the study of all objects). Therefore the utility of an axiomatic system must be judged according to the purpose. It is not conceptually essential to resort to the axiomatic approach even though it may be efficient to do so (and may show up some clear inconsistencies). I have developed an axiomatic approach earlier (Journey in Being—an axiomatic approach) but have not gained much and I may do so again with greater insight and care. However the present development has some informal axiomatic elements but is not fully axiomatic (and even if it were, the bulk of the discussion would be explanation and elaboration).
The narrative has definitions. The primary definitions are of the form
Being is that which ‘is’.
This is not a statement that there are things—concrete such as entities, interactions, processes, the redness of a particular apple or abstract such as number and redness as a property—that have being. It specifies the concept of being. It is therefore necessary, if we want to claim that there are such things, to provide a proof (which may turn out to be and in the case of being is trivial). Now we might be interested in proving that there must be things that have being—i.e. there must be something rather than nothing—and in identifying what things have being. It is important that we do not confuse ‘there is being’ with ‘there must be being’; a proof of the latter is also provided and the proof is not difficult but not as trivial as the proof of ‘there is being’. Now the question of what things have being is interesting and has the difficulty that even when a concept clearly corresponds to something it is not necessarily perfectly faithful to anything. Here we will find concepts divided into a number of classes. First, there are those concepts such as being that are perfectly faithful. Second, there are other concepts that are not perfectly faithful in the sense of precision but that are practically useful or ‘good enough’ for some purposes. These include the everyday concepts and their careful extensions in science. The relationship between the perfectly and the sufficiently precise is interesting and will be developed in a way that enhances understanding and utility of both. Then there are concepts that seem reasonable but do not have known objects. In the framework of the metaphysics that will be developed these are immensely useful (it will be important to verify criteria of valid reference—i.e. to critique ‘seeming reasonable’). Finally there are concepts that cannot have reference because they contain or result in contradiction (with other concepts including percepts that we call facts). These are useful in that considering them sheds light on the nature and validity of reason, including logic and science which, in turn, is instrumental in critiquing what is ‘seemingly but not certainly reasonable’).
It is remarkable that it will be shown that there is no ultimate distinction of ‘kind’ between what we call concrete and what we call abstract. Both require concepts and both, it will be found, have objects in the one universe (readers familiar with the notion of abstract object may object to this assertion; analysis and response to the standard objections will be found in the narrative). It is a consequence that the objects of mathematics are in the universe and that this may be one approach to the question of absolute proofs of realization and so of consistency and completeness (or otherwise).
The meanings of the individual concepts are new and the system is significantly new. The worldview of metaphysics thus presented is significantly new. It goes beyond what is valid the received disciplines from myth to philosophy and metaphysics to science. Its development has been and remains a challenge to my intuition and to establishment of consistency and validity. I expect that many readers will feel a challenge in both analytic and intuitive understanding.
Thus readers face a dual problem of absorbing a system of meanings and reeducating their intuitions. This is not unusual—the problem arises wherever there is a new system of ideas to be understood. However, anticipating the problem will be useful in resolving it—i.e., in understanding the net meaning of the core system of metaphysics.
The supplement lists sources—individuals whose thought has had significant influence on the ideas in this work. This list may be helpful to readers who wish familiarity with the range of thought from which this work draws.
Readers can write to me via the contact link on the home page of my website http://www.horizons-2000.org. I welcome input and will respond as circumstances permit. I used to write with relaxed intensity. My recent writing has been with a feeling of urgency—a feeling that my energies are now best devoted to action. That is, I want to live out (and in) a path of realization as revealed in the narrative. I am open to readers who would engage in these paths of action or who would continue development of the ideas. I especially encourage such readers to write to me.
Comment. This section on destiny may function as preface and introduction.
The beautiful has many faces. I experience it in human beings, in nature, in ideas, in technology and art, in my vision and conception of the universe, in visions of past and present and future…
The prime personal origin of the ideas of this narrative is in enjoyment, especially in my experience of beauty in the world and our ideas about the world. However, I did not cultivate this motive. It was part of my being. It is indeed a part human psyche but if I differ from the norm it is with regard to degrees and kinds of the experience of beauty. However, it was later that I saw that a significant part of my general motivation was experience and cultivation of this sense of wonder.
When at home I sit on my front porch in early morning and from there I see distant hills, sunrise, shifting shapes and colors of the sky, trees and filtered light. I hear the sounds of ravens, doves, and occasionally gulls. The loveliness of it often makes me wonder why I write at all when all this is available without effort. The writing is hard and laborious—and inspiring and rewarding. I am drawn to it as I am drawn to nature. I cannot altogether explain the emphasis of my choices but I choose to emphasize ideas and nature.
Some people hold that we should not seek ultimate understanding—that it may destroy and desecrate mystery. I think that that is a claim whose knowledge requires to have already understood mystery. It is true that human understanding has created problems but the way out is not ignorance. All paths involve risk and risk, I hold and will argue, is essential to survival and mystery.
Culture which is the result of history and cumulative experience encodes and depicts what is of value and means of achievement. This situation depends on a balance between uniformity and variety (including catastrophes) in history. A need for a flexible culture arises from variety. For success—e.g. for sustained societies—there must be some uniformity to history and so concern with the future is bound together with living well in the present. We do not think that culture is perfect or that perfection has meaning but culture may recognize this and so also include explicit concern with value and means. We are always faced with choices—some of our making—and decisions.
The range of cultures includes those that adapt to the world via holism-intuition-myth and those that cultivate manipulable aspects of the world via analyticity (‘atomism’), rationality and science (which of course requires imagination). The former lives with nature; the latter tries to transform it; both are concerned with present and future but the former has greater emphasis on the present and the latter has greater explicit emphasis on the future. These poles are not an opposition but the extremes of a continuum of emphasis.
Choices and decisions are the stuff of rationality—but what is rationality? We sometimes have an ideal of rationality leading inexorably and necessarily to a best path of action. The ideal is misleading for we can only work with what we have—intelligence and the values and means of our culture addressed to choice (i.e. creating and making choices). Precisely what are the means of rationality is a question of rationality. Though we sometimes idealize concepts such as rationality the truth is that we are ever in a process of discovering and creating them. Rationality does not exclude concern with the subjective, with intuition, with imagination. In the ideal, rational means embrace but are not limited to intuition. And intuition does not exclude rationality for the fact that we can contemplate our reflective side is an adaptation of intelligence—the base of an ability to marshal our mental resources. Rationality is concern with good action (via values and means) but in the truly ideal case rationality and intuition are distinct but not separate. In encountering the truly unknown and not experienced, neither simple rationality nor simple intuition is sufficient. The perfection of rationality would require an outside perspective on itself which, it seems is not available; and an ideal of perfect rationality would be counter to living well in an incompletely predictable universe. Our recourse is risk and experiment. But this is part of rationality-intuition.
We sometimes think in a dogmatic vein that what is revealed in culture—science and religion—is the entire universe. But non dogmatic science recognizes that the universe outside what it sees as factual may be unlimited and non dogmatic religion or spirituality recognizes that the role of myth is as symbolic for what we intuit for the universe and our place in it. It is important that while we do not interpret myths of religion as fact, they are factual in pointing to a possibly vast unknown and in encoding experience of how we may relate to such an unknown. Religion and spirituality, if they are to be whole and significant, cannot be about ‘belief in another plane’ but about all dimensions of our being in understanding and realizing all being.
I am not here attempting to endorse or reject science or religion but to show what role they have in our cultures. Religion may deploy art—literature, music, drama, and the visual arts. These are sometimes seen as ‘idols’ but are perhaps better regarded as symbols for our better perception of greater being. Modern secularism tends to accept that what is materially real is seen entirely in modern science and that art is a source of meaning even if not of what is real. However, even though science and religion have immense significance, they are not known to be complete and this allows space for further development—an expansion of knowledge, consciousness, and realization.
I will use the term destiny to refer to the part of the future which it is reasonable and valuable to have expectations and designs.
In this use, destiny stems from the idea that we are neither fully free nor fully determined. Destiny refers to the part of our future over which we have influence and the question of what kind of future and influence we might or should seek. Knowledge is crucial to this endeavor.
Many great critical theories from the time of Kant to today make an error that all knowledge—or all knowledge of a certain kind—is suspect because some aspects of it are suspect. An example of such an error is to conclude from erroneous knowledge of the world that it follows that I do not know that there is a world. This example of error is perhaps too glaring to be significant but though it is glaring when pointed out it is of a kind frequently if tacitly made and correcting it will lead in the narrative to results that are non trivial.
Our knowledge of the world is incomplete. This is obvious. Our knowledge of our influence and what is worth seeking is incomplete. This, too, is obvious. But our influence and the question of worth is part of the world. The future is, at least in some sense, part of the world. So, it is sufficient to say that our knowledge of the world is incomplete.
What can we know and influence? If we try to be specific in terms of outcomes we are probably limited to short ranges of times and space. If we speak in more general terms the limits are not as severe.
It is reasonably evident that there is a connection between the short range and the long. This is probably a value as well—living in the present and in the ultimate is mutually enhancing and illuminating.
The narrative will show that the assertions above and of the next paragraph stand with the terms ‘reasonably’ and ‘probably’ omitted.
In order to negotiate and understand the universal and the local we need a concept or a system of ideas that makes a minimum of distinctions (here or there, past or future, mind or matter and so on). Of course distinctions are important—but, reasonably, to understand them we should begin at a level that does not take them for granted.
This is a base of the distinction between concern with destiny and ‘futurology’—even ‘good’ futurology is speculative while retaining sufficient realism to be useful. Concern with destiny does not reject the use of speculation but (a) it is concerned with what can be shown to be reasonably certain and (b) where certainty is not possible its approach will be via imaginative risk or experiment. In today’s futurologies, science and technology stand at center. Here we do not discount futurology—it may be useful and informative—but we seek something more general… something beyond the particulars of our common world representations.
All cultures are concerned with destiny in this sense; what varies is emphasis and manner of concern.
Engagement with destiny as connecting present and future is the central aim of this narrative.
Realism regarding destiny naturally presents challenges. It depends on our view of the universe, our place in it, and balancing specificity with duration. Some religious mythologies provide very specific views of the future and specific actions needed for a good future. If the myths are interpreted as facts—i.e. on fundamentalism—they may be too specific for realism (factuality). A standard form of secular thinking based in science provides for limited destiny: the person is extinguished at death, civilization may be quite severely limited in time, and our world is likely to be consumed in the death throes of our sun.
It was noted above that science and religion may well be immensely limited. The first part of the narrative will demonstrate, develop, and assess a worldview based in a metaphysics called the universal metaphysics or, simply, the metaphysics. The central or fundamental principle of metaphysics will be that the universe realizes all possibilities. The demonstration is a proof. The development is to a number of spheres of thought with an emphasis on destiny and realization. The assessment addresses doubts and responses which arise regarding the validity and significance of the metaphysics.
It will be important to clarify the meaning of the term ‘possibility’. That the universe realizes all possibilities suggests a violation of realism—i.e., of experience, fact, science, reason, or logic. However, there can be no such violation for it would be a misuse of the concept of possibility.
If the universe realizes all possibilities then it must be limitlessly greater than our cosmos—there would, for example, be arrays of cosmoses without end in space and time and all this would occur against a formless background; the universe would have identity and manifestation in acute, diffuse, and manifest phases without end; and these powers would be conferred on all individuals—the individual realizes all identity and possibility. Destiny would be limitless but it is probably that engagement of our powers of being would enhance efficiency and enjoyment. What we think of as the physical limits of our world would not be necessary limits; they would be contingent though difficult to negotiate. We would achieve the ultimate described in this paragraph but while our form remains limited this realization would be an endless journey in being.
How does this square with our normal experience of our selves and the world. We experience limits. The simplest form of response is that the experienced limits are real but not absolute. There is a way beyond the limits but it may be unknown so far and it will likely present challenges. I may not find such a way in this life but death—a limit—is real but not absolute. My identity will realize the ultimate. That two distinct identities can realize the same ultimate is not a paradox for in the ultimate all identity merges. This is given but it is reasonable to think that its enjoyment and efficiency will be enhanced by engagement with the aim. If all possibilities are realized the ‘ultimate’ is not final; there must be dissolution; the process repeats but is not repetitive in its particulars—it remains ever fresh.
How may we prove the fundamental principle? What is proof, what is its function, and how is a proof achieved? There are subtleties to these questions. I will begin with the more general concern regarding proof itself.
Here I will look only at ‘proof by correct argument’. Inductive proof is generalization and is never certain. Deductive proof is often regarded as certain but even here there are issues. If the deductive principle includes a law of physics we must be concerned with the certainty of the law. If the principle concerns logical deduction we must enquire of the necessity of the logical principles. Logic is said to be that part of our truths that obtain in all possible worlds. However, ‘all possible worlds’ is an immensely complex conception and except for some simple examples it is most likely that our logics have barely scratched the surface. There is a range of subtleties that I have not considered here and which include the question of the nature and role of mathematics, the nature of fact, distinctions between the ideal of logic and our readings of it, and the use of models in logic. However, the essential doubt regarding certainty and proof may be summarized in a modified quote from Einstein ‘As far as our conceptions are certain they do not refer to reality, as far as they refer to reality they are not certain’. Now there are two interesting issue about the quote. The first concerns the question certainty. Naturally, we want to trust science and reason and surely certainty would be one basis of trust. However, it is reasonable to think that there are some things regarding which we can be certain (e.g. that there is a universe) and something about which we cannot (the laws of physics are the laws of the universe). The second issue follows and concerns the importance of certainty. Where we are certain we can use this certainty to advantage. However, where we cannot be certain this lack of certainty is law-like in nature and it is perhaps something we can use, something we can celebrate in that while uncertainty may be unsettling it may also add to the wonder of our lives.
Later in the narrative I give a logical proof of the fundamental principle. The proof is a real proof in that it proves something and in this sense is better than arguments such as the ontological proof (which only proves that there is a universe) and the argument by design (which is an argument that someone’s inability to understand natural origins implies that there can be no such origins). A number of heuristic arguments are also available. Here is one. Ask what lies outside our cosmos. The ‘possibility’ space that agrees with what is determined by known facts (the base of determinism) is immense—it is without limit (except that it should be consistent with the base of determinism). What is the probable size and variety of the universe? If we think of the possibilities as each counting one unit in a probability space then the universe must be immensely greater than our cosmos in size, duration, and variety. A first question concerns whether the count is a good one. In fact since possibilities repeat it would seem to be better than good. However, while the universe on this counting would be immensely greater than our cosmos, would it be limitless in its realization of possibilities? Well, we could remove a limitless ‘number’ of possibilities and still have enough possibilities left over that every possibility could be approximated arbitrarily closely. This is thus a quite good heuristic argument that the universe effectively realizes all possibilities. The strength of this heuristic argument is enhanced by the fact that (it is thought that) a quantum mechanical world realizes all possibilities (which is sometimes somewhat inadequately stated ‘everything is possible’.)
Thus the proofs are ‘good but not certain reasons’. But what can be the value of something that is ‘good but not certain’ where we wanted certainty? Does not ‘good’ mean ‘certain’? We saw above that lack of certainty may be good, so, certainly, one kind of ‘good’ does not concern absolute certainty. There may be and we will show that there is value to accepting the fundamental principle as a hypothesis for action (which includes knowledge. I do not mean that it should be accepted as a hypothesis merely because it might improve the quality of our inner lives. Rather the value lies in the following jointly (1) It contradicts nothing in our science, logic, or (other) experience; (2) There are excellent reasons to think that it is true; (3) The value of the full outcome of ultimate outcome is immense; and (4) There is a way to approach the full outcome: it is via action and thought under light of the fact that while the metaphysics shows what will be achieved, the culture and sciences of any particular time the temporary bases of incremental steps toward the goal.
Significance is a sense of value.
Like beauty, significance occurs only in relations between sentient beings, not necessarily human beings, and the world. The place of significance is the human or other individual. Although it is clear enough that there is sentience and the world (doubt is addressed later) it does not follow sentience and world must be.
From some perspectives, sentient being is a mere accident. However sentient being—accident or essential—is uniquely the place of significance. If there were never and nowhere any sentience there would be no significance.
Although the place of significance is the individual, significance is found in the whole world—especially civilization and the universe as a whole.
Human civilization is the web of human communities over time and continents. Civilization nurtures individuals and individuals foster civilization.
‘Civilization’ has been used in ways that justify oppression. This use of the term avoids such senses.
In a universe that realizes all possibilities realized, a concept ‘civilization as such’ must be realized.
Civilization is not a state of being. It is a movement in time with many interacting and reflexive strands, branches and joins, beginnings and terminations. But the movement itself, if we consider civilization to be the matrix of human like civilizations across the universe is without necessary beginning or end. It is a journey in being and among its strands are individual lives and centers of consciousness. From the neutral vantage point of being these—the universe, civilization, and the individual—may all be limited and discrete but they may also be without limit and identical in some ultimate sense and below the bright visions of discrete consciousness. Many myths encourage such views. Our rational science does not and it is often seen as prohibiting such views but it is in fact, according to its own criteria, vocal on the empirical but silent on what may lie outside.
Individuals and civilization are mutual supports. Their support is in nature from which, in a universe of all possibilities, they occasionally enter into acute phases of universal identity.
Is there a concept to contain all this? It will be the ultimately neutral concept of being whose apparent triviality may and will be used as strength.
A preliminary aim of this narrative is to develop an adequate worldview or metaphysics—the universal metaphysics.
What perspective will enable this aim? One of the limitations of many perspectives is fixing or thinking our means are fixed in advance and another is refusal to ever set our means. We tend to think in terms of substances—e.g., materialism versus idealism or monism versus dualism; in terms of uniformity of knowledge with regard to criteria—e.g., requiring perfection or rejecting it altogether; in terms of rationality and analysis versus intuition and holism; and in terms of ideas versus action.
Rather than insisting on poles we prefer neutrality. Perhaps there are substances but perhaps there are no substances at all. However, we do not wish to remain ever neutral. If we begin in neutrality, we may come to a place that occasions or calls for commitment. But if we are open, the place of beginning is not so important. What is needed is a sufficient balance between neutrality and commitment, between perceptivity and judgment (but we must not confuse one with the other when commitment occasions deviation from neutrality). And where we can and where we find it reasonable to do so we can think both analytically and intuitively, and in terms of ideas and action.
In this account ‘being’—that which ‘is’—will provide a container for the neutrality that we seek. Being has many connotations but this is the only defining sense admitted here (we may find that other senses are allowed and that still others, though not allowed as equivalents, may be allowed as definitive of some kinds of being). We will find the idea of being empowering but we need a little care about extolling the virtues of the idea. We often read suggestions about the power of certain concepts. However, it is important to not think that the concept will do all the work. We must do the work; we must put care into the concepts; and then the concept and further care may prove enabling. However, I have found it necessary to go to the beginning and revise my conceptual systems repeatedly. What I write here is the outcome of many revisions with corrective influence coming from reflection and experience.
Being will be an adequate conceptual container for both parts. In the first part the neutrality of being together with a willingness to be careful with concepts such as ‘universe’ and ‘natural law’ will empower the metaphysics. The metaphysics is empowering to the journey. Being will be further empowering by reminding us to not accept as truth the arbitrary limitations seen in past experience and in also reminding us to not indulge in such distinctions as a material and a spiritual side to the individual and reality.
Comment. Place most of the discussion of meaning at one place.
Many of the main terms or concepts in this narrative are familiar and have been used with a range of meanings. However, the meanings in this narrative are carefully specified and are often new. The concepts form the basis of a worldview or metaphysics which is different from our standard views. This in turn reveals connotations of the terms which may or may not be among the received connotations. Thus while it is useful to know the received uses it is important to adhere to the specified meanings.
It will be useful to say a little about the concept of meaning itself. Meaning is discussed in the narrative but a few preliminary observations will be helpful in understanding the development.
Imagine you are hiking in a forest with friends. You see a squirrel and say ‘There is a squirrel.’ One of your friends did not see the squirrel and says ‘Where is it?’ Even though she did not see the squirrel she understood what you meant. This is because she is familiar with the concept of a squirrel and its association with the word ‘squirrel’. The concept of a squirrel includes some image that has likeness to an actual squirrel. Without the concept and its likeness and association of the word ‘squirrel’ with the concepts and likenesses ‘There is a squirrel’ would not have conveyed anything to your friend. The likeness or iconic aspect of the concept is essential—without it nothing is conveyed. The word ‘squirrel’ is not necessary for you could have made a stick drawing on the ground. However, the word is useful for it does not require a drawing: language is efficient in representing and conveying information (as part of meaning). But what is meaning?
It must be what is essential to conveying content. Let us think of a concept as mental content (and thus concepts in this sense include percepts as well as concepts in another sense of concept as unit of meaning). Then a concept and its objects constitute the meaning of the concept—that is, the concept meaning. Not all concepts purport to refer to an object but even when there is no clear purport there is often a tacit one. In this narrative we are concerned primarily with referential concepts, i.e. those that purport to refer to an object and we use the term ‘concept’ to refer to referential concepts. Then the concept meaning of a concept is the concept and its objects. When a word is associated with a concept, its linguistic meaning is the concept meaning.
It may seem that the meaning of the term meaning has been made more complex than need be. In fact it has been made more complex than necessary for common purposes: in common contexts it is efficient to conflate words, ideas, and things. However, the term has not been made more complex than it is and that not heeding it leads to confusion and even in paradox in both common and new contexts. This is the result of not distinguishing concept and object, of allowing tacit elements into a concept, or of thinking that arbitrary concepts do or can have objects.
Thus one resolution of the famous liar paradox ‘This sentence is false.’ lies realizing that what is really being said is that ‘This sentence is either true or false and it is in fact false.’ Many of the so called semantic and logical paradoxes have similar resolutions. We cannot assume without checking that apparently well formed concepts (e.g. those that follow prescribe grammars) are well formed with regard to meaning. An issue with this is that sometimes the problem with meaning may escape detection.
Another use of the unpacking of meaning as concept and object occurs with the concept of ‘existence’. If I say ‘Barack Obama exists.’ most adult Americans will (it is hoped) know precisely to whom I refer. However, if I say ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist.’ you may retort ‘Who is it that does not exist?’ The confusion is resolve by unpacking the meaning of the original statement. The concept of Sherlock Holmes, taken from the fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle, is that of a detective who smokes a pipe, occasionally uses morphine, lives at 221 Baker Street in London, and has a long suffering physician friend named Dr. Watson. Now, the statement ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist?’ means that there is no real person (object) fitting the description or concept. In common speech or writing we do not distinguish the concept and the object and use the same name for both: this is a convenient practice. However, to resolve the potential confusion regarding existence it is necessary to make the distinction between concept and object. This resolution is similar to Bertrand Russell’s resolution in which he said—in terms of a different example—‘Sherlock Holmes exists.’ means that there is no person (object) with the property of ‘Sherlock Holmes-ness’. Earlier, I defined being as ‘that which is’ but could have defined it as ‘that which exists’. I did not do so (1) because I wanted to emphasize the commonness of the concept (2) I did not want to introduce the term existence regarding which the now resolved ‘problem of negative existence’ is well known
In this narrative we will make a number of definitions. A definition is the specification of a concept. The previous sentence which defines definition is in the form that most definitions of the narrative will take. Now the specification of a concept does not imply that there is an object. If I define a unicorn as a common horse-like creature with a large, pointed spiraling we know that there are no unicorns. If I define a square-circle as a square circle then we know that there are and can be no square-circles. In mathematics, it has been the practice for about two thousand years to introduce concepts by definitions. The question of possible existence is then resolved by showing (or attempting to show) consistency and the question of actual existence if often resolved in terms of models. However, since mathematical ‘objects’ are typically introduced abstractly—in terms of definitions that are not guaranteed to have objects—there remains a question whether the ‘abstract objects’ truly exist (and where they exist) or whether they are merely useful fictions that approximate things in the real world. In a universe that realizes all possibilities, abstract objects must exist provided their definitions do not entail inconsistency, and they must exist in the universe.
In the sciences, especially physics, there is indeed a question whether the objects defined do exist. The real question ‘does an electron exist’ is not whether there is some object out there that has a mass of about 9.1 x 10-31 kg and negative charge of about 1.6 x 10-19 coulombs but whether there is anything that is precisely as described in a known theory of elementary particles. That is, it is not ‘approximate existence’ that is in question.
On the other hand we are concerned with ‘precise existence’ of the fundamental concepts of this narrative. Why? The answer is twofold. (1) We would like our worldview to be precise. (2) By questioning our concepts we clarify them in ways that turn out to be immensely useful.
Is the requirement that the fundamental concepts be defined precisely a limitation? Two types of limit arise. (1) Perhaps the precision entails that there is no object. This is not a limitation on the for we define our basic concepts such as being and experience in such general or abstract terms that precision is guaranteed if existence is given and it is easy enough to show that existence is in fact given. (2) Perhaps, though, the worldview or metaphysics has an object (the universe) the knowledge will be too general to have application to our situation. This potential objection has two responses—one practical and one in terms of significance. The significant response is that the worldview shows us the limits of our being and that these limits are achieved—the worldview adds meaning to our lives. The practical response is that our common knowledge, though approximate, still has application in our immediate world—however, there is more. This common knowledge—science and other—may be seen as on the way to the ultimate. When its limits are reached, further knowledge may be sought (and per the worldview will be attained). Thus practical knowledge which is imperfect in terms of precision is perfect as a tool of incremental achievement and complement to the overarching worldview.
Thus the metaphysics illuminates science and science is instrumental in achieving what the metaphysics shows. There is a further interaction. The metaphysics shows (will show) limits to every particular science but also shows not show that science, understood broadly and experimentally, overcomes these limits. Also at the boundary between metaphysics and science, the metaphysics helps resolve some philosophical questions of regarding science. Examples are the relative versus absolute nature of space and time and the nature of and relations among matter and mind. We may even ask whether the metaphysics is science. The answer is that there are commonalities and differences which are primarily in degree of generality so that empirical aspects of the metaphysics are built in at the beginning while for sciences there must be ongoing interaction between concepts and objects. On the other hand where science employs logic, the generality of the metaphysics is such that it sheds light on the nature and develops with logic.
There is another use of the word as in the phrase ‘meaning of life’. In this use ‘meaning’ is close to significance. To differentiate this use we will use the term significant meaning. When the word meaning occurs without the prefix ‘significant’ it will refer to concept or linguistic meaning.
The concept that I use to avoid prejudicial distinctions mentioned above of being, mentioned above and defined in the division foundation and a system of ideas will be developed in metaphysics. The ideas of being and metaphysics have an established place in the history of thought. They are possible approaches to universal understanding.
Although being and metaphysics are well established as ideas, they are and have been the subject of intense criticism and this is one reason that criticism will be addressed. But criticism is not addressed only to clear the way—criticism is itself an instrument clarifying and validating thought.
Imagination and criticism are essential elements in useful thought. Without either thought is sterile. Without imagination—especially concept formation and modification—there is no thought at all. Without criticism thought is disconnected from reality. What is more imagination is needed to improve criticism and an appropriate critical sense enhances imagination. Creation is much enhanced what might be called critical intuition—a facility to generate bold but not merely speculative hypotheses. We emphasize formal criticism—conceptual and experimental tests—because the criteria and their application are open to review. We will find that at the front of knowledge the boundary between imagination and criticism—‘discovery and justification’—breaks down.
It is in part because criticism and discovery interact in the process of knowing that the history of knowledge is incremental. My discoveries and attempts at realization have been incremental over a number of paths. So, along the way, I came to think of my process as a journey.
Further, from the metaphysics developed later, the process of discovery and realization for a limited form must be a journey which, it will be seen, is a journey without end.
What is worthwhile to us, what is important to us, what we aspire to undertake is in part the result of nature.
Our apparent freedom to create concepts and exercise choice means that even if constraining nature does not rigidly determine behavior (or thought).
So, questions of worth and so on are not fixed in our nature. Our freedom to create concepts and to test them for realism can open up or restrict worth, importance, and aspiration.
The broadest of our conceptual systems of knowledge and understanding may be called ‘worldviews’. A worldview and a metaphysics are intimately related. An informal worldview may be grounded in an intuitive metaphysics; a formal metaphysics may ground a formal worldview. And formal and informal worldviews interact.
The most recent of our worldviews is secularism. Metaphysically, this is the view that the obvious and the tangible world is the only world. Naturally secularism tends to be informed regarding its metaphysics and cosmology by science. The default secular cosmology is the big bang cosmology. Religion is not excluded but is typically regarded as a source of myth or fable and morals. Still, under secularism, living and sharing and contributing well to ‘this life’ is perhaps its most important value. The secularist often turns to the arts and humanities for significant meaning and fulfillment. Softer secularists may admit a notion of ‘spirituality’.
It was the twentieth century that displaced religion by secularism for so many people. However, religion remains significant in many parts of the world.
I think of the contrast of the religious and the secular as misleading. It tends to presume that the secular view is complete and that the religious refers to ‘another’ plane of being that the religious accept and that the strict (rational, scientific) secularists reject. The secular-scientific cosmology is empirical—what it shows is what we see. Is there anything outside it? A common answer is that in the twentieth century science revealed that there are no more niches of nature to find. The error in that thinking is pointed out by the popular figure of science as a searchlight—we see the area that the light shines on but not on what lies outside the bright area. What is outside or beyond might be small or unlimited. As Hume pointed out there is no necessity to the extrapolation of our experience to the universe.
Can we know the size of the region outside what is revealed in empirical science? Strictly, on the methods of science itself we cannot even though the history of science and the incompleteness of today’s science suggest that outside region may be large. The size of the region is somewhere between almost zero and limited only by possibility—i.e. unlimited. There are no known reasons that it should not be unlimited and if there are no apparent reasons it should not then the region would be unlimited. Therefore a good but rough estimate of the size of what is unknown to science is, on current grounds of science and reason, between large and unlimited.
Now regarding ‘apparent reasons’ we seem to know nothing but if we can find something then the estimate just made will change. If we find there are such reasons the estimate will be ‘large’; if we find such reasons are probable (or improbable) the estimate will be probably large (or probably unlimited). If we find that there are no such reasons the estimate will be ‘unlimited’. Perhaps, however, we may find that there is something in reason that suggests or shows a size directly rather than by absence of reasons. That is what we find in this narrative. Specifically we will find that the universe is unlimited in the sense that what is true of it—of the region outside science—is subject only to the requirement that its description not violate logic. This is the weakest possible limit and it is effectively not a limit. We will find that the universe realizes all possibility (and we will reconcile this finding with seeming paradox).
I will call the alternative to the secular ‘trans-secular’. The object of trans-secularism is not that there is another plane revealed in religion. It is that on its own criteria of experience and science, secular cosmology may be immensely incomplete. Therefore on its own merits and as it did in exploration of the world, it owes itself openness in further exploration. If that were all that there is to be said on the matter today the previous exhortation would be the expression of a value. We never had to stop being cave dwellers (which since we are not we must admit may have been better than modern life at least in some regards).
The aim of the narrative is to develop a universal metaphysics and to deploy it as far as it may go, together with secularism and trans-secularism, in realization of the universal.
This narrative is one vision, one path. It is personal in that it is mine. However, it aims at universality through its ideas and a path that has phases of ideas, individual realization, and the intrinsic and artifactual process of civilization. The concept of being is pivotal to the process which may be called a journey in being.
As I suggested above and as will be shown in the narrative, we do have a light with a broader, universal spread than the pencil of light shone by our standard secularism and trans-secularism. The light will be neither science nor religion as they stand today—it will be metaphysics, specifically metaphysics as developed in the narrative (the metaphysics of the narrative will show that we have misunderstood both of these endeavors). However, science will complement the metaphysics as a practical instrument. Religion, too, may be practical in showing or suggesting morals and metaphors for life. But religion has another value. While it often becomes corrupted, religion has often originated a stand against oppressive politics and cosmologies; religion has often been assertion that we may try to gain a foothold on the universal in this life.
The main divide of the narrative is between concepts and realization.
The conceptual divisions are the foundation and the metaphysics. The main statement or fundamental principle of the universal metaphysics (FP) will be that the universe realizes all possibilities. The foundation begins the development of the metaphysics, taking it up to the proof of the fundamental principle. The main reason for this division is that the principle introduces both power and doubt and this is therefore a natural break. The foundation is secure; the division on metaphysics introduces risk. Further, it is useful to develop some metaphysics unencumbered by a discussion of metaphysics.
The division foundation lays the groundwork. In the next division, metaphysics, the principle is proved. It derives alternate forms of the principle which show its meaning and render it as an instrument. It develops the metaphysics, consequences, and applications (outlined in the contents). The metaphysics is developed in phases marked by the introduction of concepts of which the main are being, experience, meaning, universe, law, the void, and realism. This is followed by applications which include values, objects, cosmology, mind, civilization, life, epistemology, and human endeavor as a journey. An alternate arrangement is to develop the applications as far as possible just after the introduction of each concept. This would be useful in showing the dependence of the applications on the concepts but I have not followed it since it is less efficient than having the applications in separate chapters. However, some examples of the alternate approach have been given as illustrations of the concepts.
Clearly the fundamental principle seems to violate our experience of limits and secular or scientific world views. This and other more specific seeming violations and paradoxes require resolution which is undertaken in the chapter normal worlds. The upshot is, roughly, that if the scientific world view defined the universe then there is no getting out of the universe. Instead in the improved view the scientific world view defines our cosmos from which ‘escape’ is not impossible but immensely difficult or improbable. However this probability estimate is conditional on (a) the time frame under consideration being limited, (b) knowledge remaining restricted to pictures roughly similar to that of the secular worldview. One of the accomplishments of the division metaphysics is to establish a system of metaphysics and cosmology breaks these bounds. The universe according to the ‘standard’ scientific view is infinitesimal in comparison to the universe revealed in the metaphysics of the narrative.
It is reasonable to expect that the consequences of such a system for our disciplines of thought should be ‘enormous’. This expectation is borne out and developed in metaphysics. The table of contents provides a synopsis of consequences.
The most important consequence for realization is that the individual realizes all being and that while in limited form realization is a journey without end, without limit to variety, freshness, peak and dissolution—individual and ultimate identity merge in peaks. In ultimate form the individual and universal identity are the same (and, if eternal, universal identity can only be so in parallel with the process of all being).
The divisions for realization and action are journey and path. The division ‘journey’ emphasizes the nature of and some essentials for realization. ‘Path’ is an open description and plans for the significant phases of realization.
The divisions journey and path develop the idea of a journey and a generic approach and individual (personal) path to realization. For limited form such an approach can not be formulaic or fully systematic for the process is one of discovering and realization what is not contained even implicitly in the individual. There may be reasoning and methods that are discovered by the individual or others and that assist but at the front of becoming risk, failure, consolidation, and increment are always essential.
For convenience the path is divided into three parts: wide perspective, be-ing: sustaining, and becoming: transforming.
The field notes are entries on progress—primarily on realization. I have attempted to write this work as an open narrative. The field notes add to the openness. I may later incorporate the notes to the main text.
The supplement and lexicon are designed to assist cross reference and understanding.
I feel that all narratives are narratives-in-the-stream-of-being. This is essential to the nature of narrative and dialog. The section narrative mode (division path) discusses some aspects of this idea. This narrative has always thus far had an in process character that is not by design—I have often thought it complete enough but even though I feel the core is well established I invariably find some new point of view that makes the insight more incisive, that makes the argument more compelling, or that extends the reach of the ideas. Further, all narratives are ‘in the stream’ but many are written as if finished. This narrative recognizes an in process character in the following ways (1) It anticipates continual refinement. (2) The divisions journey and path are simultaneously a conceptualization of the journey and a template for action. (3) The division field notes an open space for a record of ideas and action.
The world and its beauty is the essential source. Some specific sources, especially from the history of thought, are listed in the supplement.
Without the experience of being and inspiration I have found in nature it is unlikely that I would have conceived or written this narrative. Some thoughts on nature as transformative are in the chapter on individual and identity.
Comment. Titles marked by an asterisk contain new material. These, with the exception of the later chapter ‘Normal worlds’ are in this division. The options for the new material in order of preference are (a) replace the old with the new, (b) integrate old and the new, and (c) leave the new and old headings and material unchanged.
Comment. In the new material development through cosmology is general. The purpose of representative topics (matter-extensivity-complexity-life, mind-identity-spirit) is to show dependence on concepts.
It is useful to begin with preliminary comments on definition.
It will be In common speech it is often efficient to conflate our ideas or concepts with the world or objects. Sometimes this leads us into error; at other times, especially for unfamiliar subjects, we need new ideas. When we want to talk about the world with care and precision we turn to specifying the nature of our ideas—that is, we turn to defining our terms. Definitions are in terms of concepts which are clarified in the section on meaning. It will be useful to provide here at the beginning a preliminary account of the nature of definition.
A definition specifies a concept.
This definition is in the standard form of definitions in this narrative. Given a definition it does not follow that there is an object. In this narrative we study the world directly and so do not resort an approach, e.g. as in mathematics, in which a concept defines an abstract object (which entails two problems—the existence of the abstract object and its relevance to the world).
In reflecting on the idea of a concept that is faithful to its object we recognize that the concept is not the object so there is a problem of showing the faithfulness. Further, since any such ‘showing’ is unlikely to be intrinsic to the concept-object pair it is likely to be relative to other concept-objects. If we have no guarantee that any concept-object pair has faithfulness we have no guarantee that we can show faithfulness or even that faithfulness has meaning.
Here, abstraction will be focus on aspects of the world so simple that there is easily seen or shown to be a corresponding concept that is faithful to the object (it will be a goal to find aspects that are both significant and sufficiently simple). In these cases, faithfulness has direct and simple meaning.
Other aspects of the world may be studied in practical (not known to be better than rough—i.e., incompletely precise) terms. Here faithfulness will have an indirect meaning—e.g., that the concept enables negotiation in the world or that it reflects being-in-the-world; in such cases the relation to the world may be metaphorical but this makes it clear that in this situation metaphor is not devoid of at least oblique and imprecise faithfulness. The poetry of metaphor and indefiniteness of being combine in giving both significant, linguistic and at least obliquely referential meaning (the kinds of meaning are clarified later). The dual approach will be shown adequate to significant purposes or values. It will be found perfect in terms of ultimate purposes to be identified. Another way of describing this finding of perfection is that the notion of objective perfection does not have universal purchase.
We think-feel-experience a world. This cannot be entirely illusory for then there would be neither world nor illusion (this is the essence of Descartes’ argument ‘cogito ergo sum’—I think therefore I am).
Being names what ‘is’.
From the above being is given, i.e. it constitutes a trivial demonstration that there is being.
Being is that which ‘is’.
In its first occurrence just above, the word is marks definition. The second occurrence is constitutive of the definition. It does not follow from the definition that there are entities with being. However, definitions and concepts are examples of being (whether or not they have objects).
In English when the word is marks tense it is usually used as a present tense form of the verb to be. In the definition of being above, the word is in quotes refers—in what will be a frequent practice in this narrative—to some region, connected or otherwise, of extensivity—i.e. of difference that is, for example, space andor time like.
The concept of being will be found simple enough to found significant understanding of the world where materialism and other over-specific approaches flounder.
However being is not primally simple in that it distinguishes what is from what is not. What does it mean that something is not? We have a concept of a unicorn but—as far as we know—there are no unicorns: this means that there are no objects that correspond to the concept. Thus a unicorn is an example of something that is not. Sometimes ‘non being’ is used in a different way: something—defined by a concept or identified by being at some other time—that has been or will be but currently is not. The unicorn is an example of something that could be but is not—its non being is contingent. On the other hand the concept ‘square circle’ cannot have an object—its non being is necessary. Still, it would not be a contradiction to say the objects of the concepts ‘unicorn’ and ‘square circle’ are in a void world (a world with absence of being).
Conceiving metaphysics as perfect knowledge of being, this already constitutes metaphysical knowledge. In the narrative we will extend the boundary of metaphysics non-trivially to certain aspects of the universe. We will also extend the meaning of metaphysics to include practical (useful but imprecise) knowledge. The extension will enhance both the perfect and the practical and will present no problem of validity provided we are sufficiently careful to not conflate the perfect and the practical.
It is a demonstration that but not why there is being. Demonstration of why there is being cannot start from thinking-feeling-experiencing which are kinds of being. Demonstration of why there is being—that there must be being—would resolve what has been called the fundamental problem of metaphysics: the problem of why there is being at all. This problem of metaphysics is also a problem in physics which some modern physicists think is solved by an assertion that the laws of quantum theory (and the laws of gravitation) support creation of something from nothing and which I hold as mistaken because it assumes something—i.e. the laws themselves. In this narrative a proof that there must be being—that the universe must have manifest phases—will be given in the chapter ‘Universe’ without assuming any kind of being including laws as given.
The inference that there is being from definition to conclusion seems as though it is a tautology but it is not for the definition does not imply that there is being. We concluded that there is being from the fact that we have experience of world and / or illusion but both world and illusion fall under being.
The connection between being and experience is thus intimate. The text will develop the intimate connection but will stop short of saying that they are identical. However, we will be able to conclude from simple arguments that there is no significant being that is not experience or that has no affect, direct or indirect, on experience. And after developing the universal metaphysics we will be able to conclude a near or effective identity. However, it is important to see that we are not asserting that the being of something depends on being experienced or somehow on entering into experience.
That is being, unlike substances whose being is doubtful and are postulated, is trivially given—this is an aspect of the power of being.
The source of the power of being is its neutrality; this neutrality is potential but not explicit power; explicit power will emerge according to the breadth (range, imagination) and depth (foundation, criticism) of use of the idea of being.
In the history of thought being has had varied connotations such as essence or limitation to ‘entities’ that have subjectivity. To allow such connotations as part of the concept or definition would be to negate the power of the idea and therefore the power of its use in this narrative. To not allow such connotations as part of the definition is not a restriction for a special connotation are not barred from emerging as a special distinction or divisions within being (provided that the connotation entails no paradox).
A being or beings have the property of being—it is the property that distinguishes what is from what is not (there is a potential paradox in the previous statement which we pass over here but state and resolve in a later section on the problem of negative existentials). Thus there is a distinction between being and a being. However if the definition of being allows and the chapter on objects will confirm that properties have being. That is all properties including being are beings.
The power becomes clear in reflecting that any definite prescription of matter renders materialism imprecise and incomplete. The same is true for other substance such as mind.
We saw that there is a world which therefore has being. If all is illusion there is at least illusion which is then the world. That is, ‘all is illusion’ is a contradiction—it is impossible. Thus we know the world via experience for experience may be faithful or illusory but illusion is experience as we will use the term here. Because experience is significant in itself and in relation to understanding being and it is discussed in the next chapter on experience.
The relation of being and experience is in fact crucial. This will be brought in the section being and experience revisited. For practical purposes the later conclusion may be expressed here as an understanding and an agreement that whenever we talk of being—of an ‘objective’ world—it is implicit that the objective is at least indirectly in the experience (of some being). It may seem as though it is being said that being depends on being experienced—but what is actually said is that knowledge of being depends on direct or indirect experience. It may seem as though this is limiting; we will see that it is not. Other concerns will be raised and resolved and the outcome is that nothing is lost in the agreement above—that is, specifically the system of knowledge developed suffers no restriction on account of the agreement. On the other hand there is a gain in realism and clarity; and an understanding and therefore approach to resolution of well known and not so well known paradoxes and confusions.
We would like to say that the world exists. But the pair of ideas—existence and being—is the source of well known issues. We will state and address these issues so as to consolidate and clarify understanding. However, the issues intertwine with experience which is therefore taken up next.
We defined being in terms of ‘is’, a present tense form of the verb to be. Here, ‘is’ may and will be used in a sense that makes no reference any particular class of regions (defined by continuity or ‘tense’, ‘place’, or other extensivity…). This non-specificity with respect to ‘place and time’ of ‘is’ and so of ‘being’ enhances the neutrality and so the power of the concepts. The narrative will employ both uses and the particular use, when not clear from the context, will be stated.
The idea of being (‘is’) is immanent in everyday and common language. Being is often suggests ineffable depth. Here however its meaning is plain. However, the plainness or simplicity makes it general and neutral and therefore suitable as a vehicle for whatever depth should arise. The idea of being is simple and deep—simple in its sense and deep in its content and implications that may drawn from careful examination of the idea.
In this and some subsequent sections time and or space are mentioned. Later in cosmology the nature and necessity of space and time will receive a development based in the universal metaphysics. These earlier developments that mention space and time do not depend for their reasoning on the later conclusions.
We would like to say that the world exists. But the pair of ideas—existence and being—is the source of well known issues. We will state and address these issues so as to consolidate and clarify understanding. However, the issues intertwine with experience which is therefore taken up next.
Reflection suggests that change and form are necessary to each other (without form we wonder whether there is anything to change, without change we wonder about the origin and sustenance of form).
It has been suggested that change is essential to being. To a being that would have significant meaning in growth and process this makes sense and it is hard to see how significance would otherwise occur. But without form there is nothing to change.
Since we are not ‘abstract’ beings form and change seem necessary to our form of being. We are born with form and so we might perhaps think it is change is essential to significant meaning. However, change is woven into that form. Further, if we think of ourselves as essentially fixed in form (we grow but remain human) then change might exceed form in importance. But form is not essentially fixed. So change and form are both essential. To think form is less in importance is to be limiting.
In the previous paragraphs ‘time’ could be substituted for ‘change’ but the use of ‘time’ suggests something outside being; however there is nothing outside being. Further to introduce the idea of time would be to impose a concept that comes with much meaning that would be superfluous to the situation.
This suggests that time—and, similarly, space—are part of being: part of its weave for there is nothing outside being. Even if being arises from its absence, that arising is change and therefore may be called primitive time. The original arising from absence would seem to have no explanation or mechanism. However there is a sense in which everything is its own mechanism and so the meaning of ‘no explanation or mechanism’ would be ‘no explanation or mechanism that is more basic than the occurrence itself’. But if ‘no mechanism’ is a mechanism then the notion of mechanism must be foreign to the absence of being and therefore nearly foreign to what has just emerged—i.e. the first emergent will most likely have ‘changing’ built into its form. These are intuitive projections rather than necessary arguments to suggest that the first origin will be in a most primal time and what will have arisen will be a primal form-changing or being-space-time. But being is before (our) intuition.
In the narrative we will see examples from the history of thought in which thinkers attempt to understand being in its most fundamental terms. However, they seem to have nowhere to turn but their intuition. They go beyond mere intuition and analyze intuition in which they find one or other or some combination of its aspects most fundamental. But how do they know what they find fundamental is fundamental. They refer to what is most immediate (being-in-the-world) or what is most simple (the sense data of empiricism) or what is most necessary (rationalism); or, perhaps, a combination. There is then, perhaps, another step: what they have found most fundamental (which depends on a view of reality) is made real (reified) as mode of being andor of knowledge which then informs what seems to be a rational world view but what in fact refers back to ungrounded intuition (perhaps we need no such ground but then we need not deceive ourselves that we have one).
What can be done in this situation? Perhaps all we have is intuition. If that is the case, then to the extent that we want secure understanding, all we can do is seek out those aspects of being that are beyond doubt. We have seen that, given a world ‘being’ itself is beyond doubt. We will see that given our world, experience is beyond doubt. If we had nothing else we might start with these concepts. Everything else would be arrived at in analytic terms—the meaning of these concepts. Then we would have secure understanding. This is the initial plan of the metaphysics of the narrative. However, we can go beyond that in two ways. (1) We can allow that the universe may be manifest and / or non-manifest: being—or, in other terms, being or absence of being. This is the plan of what we will call the pure metaphysics (of this narrative). We can use the analytic (the meaning) of being and experience to see what, if anything, will obtain in a universe that is free to have being and / or absence of being. This we will find sufficient foundation to the metaphysics of the narrative. At outset we recognize that this metaphysics could turn out to be empty. It is a fact that it turns out to be full (the meaning of ‘full’ remains to be derived in the analysis). (2) We anticipate that the resulting analysis may omit reference to the practical and approximately and incompletely known objects of our world. We will then seek to understand the pure and the practical in terms of one another. We will find that the pure and (as it turns out) ultimate (full) metaphysics is a framework for the practical—that it reveals that some aspects of the practical are also capable of perfection while others, which are perhaps incapable of perfection, do not need ‘perfection’ for they are instruments of negotiation in the immediate world on the way to the ultimate. These other aspects of the practical are perfect (from the point of view of use) in their imperfection (from the point of view of precision).
A crucial point of this section is that as far as possible intuition must be replaced by analysis. The only points of intuition that remain are those that are secure. We must resist the impulse to confuse certain seemingly secure aspects of intuition with necessity. We lose nothing for we do not need to exclude such aspects—only to not treat them as certain at outset. On the other hand we gain much as described in the previous paragraph. This is the power of ‘analysis’. It might seem as though we are deriving results from analysis that are not even implicit in the analytic terms but this is not the case for there are two sources of synthesis—the pure elements of intuition that we know to be secure and the other elements that we do not assume secure and which therefore does not adversely affect what security we know that we have.
Thus ‘being’ is a fundamental concept at the analytic-synthetic foundation of the metaphysics of the narrative. In metaphorical terms being to metaphysics is the variable (in its many roles which include unknown and the generic) in algebra and analysis; and building a metaphysics up around being and experience is to metaphysics what the axiomatic method is to mathematics. In the previous section we intuitively saw form-change as conceptually prior to space-time. But to what extent can we found form-change in being? We take this up later in cosmology and physical cosmology.
Experience is awareness.
This is the first definition or sense of ‘experience’. Experience is a case—perhaps the most immediate case—of being.
That there is experience may be questioned but this involves experience. Even if an objective world (a world experienced) is illusory, illusion is experience. Therefore there is experience (as we will see there is much more). That is—
There is experience.
But experience is being and all being constitutes a world.
Therefore there are both being and world.
We may question whether there is more than experience.
It seems as though experience is of a real world of ‘objects’ that include experience itself; it thus seems that experience is relationship or interaction (I prefer the term ‘real world’ to the alternate ‘external world’ because the world contains experience and because the term ‘external’ suggests that experience has a location which should—and shall—be verified rather than assumed). There is a contrary position called ‘solipsism’ which is that there is nothing but experience—that there is a real world except experience itself is illusory. Few philosophers take this position seriously; however, it is worthy of response because doing so may sharpen our understanding of experience and more generally to sharpen critical and imaginative abilities. The response to the solipsist challenge is as follows. ‘There is nothing but experience’—either contradicts limitedness of sentient beings or relabels the world as experience: there is a real world, an object of experience, and experience is part of it; experience is relationship or interaction (properly, it is the mark or effect of the experienced in the experiencer).
Thus solipsism turns out to be naïve. If naïve solipsism were true, it would not change our experience and so its practical consequence would be that though we experience a robust world the robustness might be illusory. However, the robustness might be illusory regardless in any case. The universal metaphysics and its consequences will entail the robustness of our world is immensely probable but not necessary.
Introspection on experience suggests that experience is experience-ing (introspection is examination of experience and experiencing; it is a useful source of ideas whose truth or falsity generally follows only from other means). Now experience-ing is obviously in time. Is time essential to being and experience? It might seem to be but it is too early in the narrative answer this question which is deferred to cosmology and physical cosmology.
The suggestion above has led to the association of experience and experiential being with time and the world with space (and thinkers have built up arguments that are rational in form to this effect). The discussion of space-time is deferred to the chapters on cosmology but some comments on experience and time can be made now. We saw the world contains experience and is known in experience. There are coherent systems of experience that we will later label ‘person’ or ‘individual’. These are the experience but are only metaphorically having the experience for to think that a person has experience is to think that experience is experiencing. We have no reason in the introspection to think that the space-time character of experience—the thing not its content—and world are essentially different. Later argument will confirm the essence of these conclusions.
Experience seems to be a relation—it seems to be of a real world.
It is conceivable that there is no world but ‘my experience’. This position is called solipsism. I find my experience an essentially incomplete map of the world. Therefore solipsism is a contradictory conflation of ‘my experience’ with ‘all experience’ and is therefore impossible. Thus there is a real world which contains experience and of which we have knowledge in experience. Solipsism denies the reality of the world other than experience and its value is in showing us that there is a real world outside experience.
There is a real or ‘external’ world that contains and is known in experience.
Experience and being have an intimate connection.
Experience is the place of our significant relations with self and world.
A position that is similar to but related to solipsism would be to say ‘the world is experience’. This is a form of ‘idealism’. This would be a mere relabeling of the world (which we might find to require an extended meaning of ‘experience’). We later find such an extended meaning an alternate labeling. It is not a true idealism in that it truly asserts nothing except that with a sufficiently liberal interpretation of idea (or other substance), idealism (monism) is a tautology.
For an entity to have being it is not necessary for it to be experienced. We can conceive of an entity that never has an at least indirect in experience. However, to then assert existence of the conceived entity is contradictory. This sort of conflation is at the root of many paradoxes and conceptual confusions.
When its meaning is extended as relationship, experience is grounding of all being—even elementary being—in being; this may be confirmed by the universal metaphysics to be developed. If experience is relation can there be pure experience? Even when my experience seems to be not experience in relation with the world, it may be the product of internal relationship. We will see that there may be experience that is not relation but that this will occur only in forms and in worlds that are immensely primitive when compared to our form and world (further all experience that is or seems pure is in potential relation and the metaphysics will show that all potentials may be realized).
Though mind is discussed later in mind, preliminary comments may be useful. One aspect of mind is experience. Are there others? Today in analytic philosophy experience, attitude (the aspect of some mental content that it is about something), and action are often regarded as the three poles or dimensions of mind. However we will see that with in the extended sense of experience mentioned above, mind is a label for experience and its variety. Attitude and action are associated with ‘mind’ but they are aspects of experience-as-relationship. In some psychologies motivation and will have been thought of as being significant aspects of mind. Here we pass over these aspects with the observation that they may be seen as functions of the more basic aspect of experience as relation.
Thus ‘mind’ refers to experience. There seem to be non-experiential levels such as the ‘unconscious’ and ‘autonomous function’. However these fall under the extended concept of experience—experience is the marker of mind. But is there mind as the place of experience—the substance or matter that is or has experience? As far as we know from experience there is not. Accordingly use of the term ‘mind’ in this narrative will be mostly oblique and without particular significance. We will see in metaphysics that there may be substantial mind but its significance in stable worlds is minimal.
From experience, mind is a metaphor for ‘experiencing’ or ‘experience of’. Similarly, matter is a metaphor for the tangible—for the ‘experienced’ or the ‘in experience’. Until we have grounds to reify—or to refuse to reify—these metaphors precisely we will not do so. Meanwhile we maintain uncommitted and largely silent neutrality to substance.
So far we have seen some examples of perfect knowledge such as ‘there is being’ and ‘there is experience’. These are not tautologies; they are about the world (even though trivial in some sense). They could be untrue—there could be no world—and they are therefore ‘perfect synthetic a posteriori’.
This duality will continue in the development. The universal metaphysics will be perfect. Science and even our logics will be tentative.
It is remarkable that the metaphysics will frame science in such a way that science enables negotiation under the paradigm of the metaphysics and in which the approximations of science are unavoidable but not at all undesirable. In fact there is an attitude of endeavor in which approximate and incomplete knowledge is welcomed; and while we may want to overcome mere approximation for some reasons there are other reasons—larger reasons in some sense—to be content with it. We will also find a border region in which the metaphysics lends perfection to knowledge of some general aspects of the world in which we live.
Let us think of psychology as a cosmology of experience or mind. The aims to its study in this narrative are as complement to (a) metaphysics and (b) realization. The study of experience and meaning is currently sufficient to the former aim. The latter aim is so much in transition that I defer discussion to the section dimensions of mind. Another reason to defer discussion is that modern academic psychology is inadequate to the aims of this narrative. Later, if I feel that my understanding should constitute a discipline of psychology I may discuss it here or in the division on metaphysics.
This section briefly discusses conceptual, linguistic, and significant meaning.
Comment. Points I repeat—cosmology of experience.
There is more than one approach to the study of psychology. One is to study its elements or aspects—feeling, cognition and so on—directly (the psychologies of different cultures have different categories).. Another is to see what we may learn from the physiological underpinnings. And a third is to study the categories of psychology in terms of the categories of the world (again there are multiple approaches—even in a given culture). This third approach is illustrated in correspondences between (a) the sensory modalities and the variety in the physical environment, (b) freedom in concept formation with changing contexts, (c) feeling versus perception and body versus outer environment, and (d) experience of experience and a world that contains experience. We do not of course need to restrict ourselves to any one approach.
Consider the world of experiential or psychological phenomena—a ‘cosmology’ of experience or mind. There is perhaps no unique way to catalog or classify them. Some overlapping variables or dimensions in a western account might be (a) location of object—inner and outer (b) direction of intent—afferent to neutral to efferent (c) form and quality (d) simple to compound (e) bound to free and (f) integration (which is essential because the lived in world is not atomic—autism is to some extent the result of non integration) and history.
The psychology or cosmology of mind then includes experience and awareness, percepts, the higher concept—e.g. the unit of meaning, feeling, emotion, emotion, cognition, attitude and action; and personality which includes identity, integration, and memory and their arcs. All of these fall under ‘concept’.
When we experience an experience itself we can talk of it. The unconscious refers to experiences of which we are not immediately aware or to a body state—e.g. something that can be remembered—that may enter or affect experience.
Therefore concepts are essentially experiential.
A referential concept is one purports to have at least oblique reference in the world. An object is the reference of concept.
In this narrative the main concepts will be referential and so ‘concept’ will mean ‘referential concept’ unless stated otherwise.
A concept meaning is a concept and its object (or, equivalently, objects). In linguistic meaning a symbol is associated with concept meaning. The association is often tacit for this is efficient; however to abstract symbols have meaning when unmoored from concept meaning is to risk confusion and paradox. Note that Frege had this notion—his terms were sense and reference—he was perhaps the first to do so.
What is the significance of this notion of meaning? First, it flows from the nature of experience—of being in the world over time. Second, remembering that experience changes with context we see that meaning cannot be fixed—it is determined by use and, formally, by definition in transition. Use determines fluidity and fixity of meaning in balance. Meaning may seem fixed over a particular slice of history but cannot in general be fixed over all history.
Symbolic and linguistic meaning make for efficient and powerful representation, communication, and transmission of ideas. At the root of this efficiency is the symbol itself—something simple that stands for something complex. The efficiency is enhanced by (a) common or defined contexts and (b) formal representation of patterns—especially repeated or generic patterns—by symbols and arrangements of symbols.
A symbol may have intrinsic meaning by having resemblance to an object—the resemblance may be simply iconic or iconic via an arrangement of sub-symbols as in a sentence. An abstract symbol—one that has no evident or conventional or otherwise associated iconic content—has and can have no object. The phrase ‘There is a tiger’ is a contraction for ‘There is an object that corresponds iconically to the concept of a tiger’. Common speech and writing use the contracted version for its simplicity and efficiency. However, if the context does not provide meaning for the contracted form it may be without meaning and may lead to confusion and paradox.
This conception of meaning shows why so many discussions of or based in meaning are confused—we confuse concept with object; we forget that we are talking of an encoded but transitional relation.
Analysis of meaning sheds light on many issues—the nature of ‘existence’, a variety of paradoxes. It shows how the givens of being and experience follow from experience coded in their meaning.
We can press analysis of meaning too far. But if we recognize that in using meaning we are also ever synthesizing it then analysis and synthesis of meaning includes all knowledge activity.
Similarly, analysis and synthesis—break down and build up—of being will be seen to be the way of becoming.
The other sense of ‘meaning’ in this narrative is that of significant meaning. To distinguish the two senses, when meaning is not prefixed by the term ‘significant’ it will refer to concept or linguistic meaning.
Note that significant meaning inheres in experience-of-the-world (which includes self). Therefore significant meaning is not essentially distinct from concept and language meaning; the former, however, may be primarily figurative while the latter is at least conventionally thought to begin ‘literally’.
Experience and its objects constitute conceptual, linguistic, and significant meaning (and knowledge or attitude and action). Though not usual, the grouping of conceptual and linguistic meaning on one side and significant meaning on the other is convenient.
Surely we all want to live well. In particular situations we want to take good or right actions (getting knowledge is a particular case of action). We want to live a good life. The aim is the rational aim, the means are rational means or rationality.
Myths of rationality would be that there are ‘formulas’ and definite values (logic, science, optimization theory or optimal control theory) that give us the best action.
The concept of rationality here is that of what constitutes good action—and, derivatively, of what constitutes good knowledge. Does rationality have to be explicit and discrete? That human minds (not necessarily only human minds) experience their experience means experience-is-part-of-the-world. Occasionally, then, every culture will contemplate marshalling their intelligence. But this may take more than one direction. It may be noted and set aside, noted and often set aside but occasionally taken up to reflect upon reflection, and it may become an occupation or preoccupation. The decision what to do—explicit or implicit—is an element of rationality. What constitute rational means and careful understanding of the nature of rationality are themselves questions of rationality.
In some limited contexts rational action does not constitute a problem. If the goal is to buy the cheapest light bulb in the store we just look at all the bulbs and their prices.
However life is far more complex—the choices, material and other, seem limitless and they are not all given but rather we also create choices; knowledge of the choices the ability to create and compare choices, on the other hand are limited and even indefinite (the latter arises because the future and possibility is open and may be seen as a good thing); consequently we have rules and values that guide rather than determine action; and these values (which must have some openness and indeterminacy) vary from occasion to occasion (there are times to just be), person to person, gender to gender, community to community, institution to institution, society to society…
We sometimes come to the question of rationality with the thought that there is one calculable or knowable rational action (‘one’ includes ‘one range’). However, the openness of being implies that this is not always the case; and the limits of being imply that even when this is the case we may at best only approximate (and therefore no more than this should be our goal in such cases). And, further, since the different ‘interests’ (person, gender, and so on) will have different perceptions, rules, and values there will be conflicts of rationality which does not imply that there is no such thing.
In other words what is thought to be rational and whether there is a word for the ‘rational’ is very much a local affair.
Consider a society for which our science and reason are high values. Modern enlightenment and post-enlightenment society has held this value. Why? One reason is that it conforms to our notion of truth and another is that it has been instrumental in many improvements (but is also obviously associated with risks to peace and the environment). However, can we unequivocally say that our notion of science as truth and science as instrumental in progress will be assure us of the best—a good—future? It can be argued that it is the best we have, but that is not the question. Can we further unequivocally argue that our science and civilization is superior to other modes? At the intersection of modernity and hunter gatherer communities this has been often argued. We have argued the superiority of our science to their systems of myth. Clearly our science (and agriculture and industry) has given us power over the hunter gatherer. However, their system of myth is not myth as we understand it in, e.g. our religions that are displaced from their contexts. The hunter gatherer stories weave myth and truth and give them power and belonging in their land. If our civilization becomes unsustainable then where will we turn? I am not suggesting that we should then—or now—turn away from rationality. However, we might find—even if we are not forced to—that we need new, perhaps only variant, instruments of rationality.
The problem of rationality is like that of its special case the problem of knowledge. It is also like the problem of space and time. The common factor is that in order to have absolutes—perfect rationality, perfect knowledge, absolute space and time—we must assume getting outside that which has no outside. That is we must assume a perspective outside the universe. Now we may be able to conceive such a perspective but we certainly cannot stand in relation to the universe in such a way as to actually have such a perspective. Thus we might be able to learn from such perspectives but such learning has essential limits (and later in when we see the universe to be limitless we will find that even the conception of such a perspective is actually empty).
The problem of rationality includes the problem of the nature and instruments of rationality. And, though in modernity we have an ideal of rationality as standing on its own, there is no final separation of rationality from the entire organism and culture—no entire separation from being. Therefore, rationality cannot be the definite thing we sometimes think it to be. This of course does not mean that there should or can be no discussion or debate—or even conflict—when two alternate perspectives on or systems of rationality encounter one another or when one system encounters itself.
Most systems of rationality when scrupulously followed show their own limits and open a door to all modes of being in the world (the door is open anyway but we find an explicit need to act on the openness). The ultimate in rationality—perhaps—is to use the entire psyche (organism and body). Rationality does perhaps presume reflexive (self-conscious) thought but the ideal should perhaps not place thought, self-conscious or not, above all else.
In this narrative we pursue a practice of rationality to a limit that shows us some limits of that kind (even though our notion of rationality is neither dry nor sterile and includes considerations of all dimensions of psyche and being to which we have access).
Facts are simple in that they do not present as patterns. Laws are patterns (this will be further explained later). Facts and laws have being.
Regard a science of any world or cosmos as concept that encodes lower concepts (laws, facts, a science over a less extensive region of phenomena) of the world. In talking of science I think primarily of the fundamental sciences of matter, energy, and the cosmos and I do so because I am looking to compare, contrast, and perhaps to integrate science and metaphysics; however the consideration here does not exclude the other sciences of nature or society. Then science is the system of sciences of the universe. Similarly logic encodes relations among concepts that they may apply to all conceivable configurations of the world (including ones that do not obey the laws of nature and society). Therefore science and logic combine as requirements on concepts to properly refer, which we label Logic or realism. Now we are used today to seeing the following distinction: deduction in logic is necessary but we arrive at science by induction or generalization which is not necessary because there may different explanations that are identical over the data so far. However, this standard comparison is off the mark. The true comparison is that under system of science as under a particular logic (e.g. propositional or first order logic) reasoning is deductive; but arriving at a system of logic is inductive as it is for a system of science.
Some further distinctions are possible. What we call logic is true in all possible worlds and so in the universe; but in the sequel we will see that all possible worlds are realized and therefore logic will be what is true in all worlds. Then the patterns (‘theories’) of science are neither simple facts nor logic. When readers have read through this book they may find that perhaps there are no truths regarding all worlds. That would not mean that there is no such thing as logic but that the divide between logic and science is not as sharp as we think it to be. Precisely how will these distinctions be resolved? Having thought the thoughts that follow one conclusion is that I do not have an answer that is more precise than the idea that the distinctions may not be as clear as we normally think. For example the idea of ‘identity’ has more than one sense. In the main sense below identity will be the thing-ness of a thing (the statement will be more precise; and it includes the sense of identity or self of a person). But we will see that there are phases of being where identity is vague or does not even obtain. What happens to identity in those situations? Is it as simple as the thought ‘well, here, identity simply has no purchase’? And if there are no ‘things’ can logic have purchase?
The development began with being. I could have written a skeletal development that would not refer to experience, meaning, science, logic, and—below—existence, or knowledge. We could even omit the distinction between perfect and practical knowledge for once the perfect side is developed it is easily seen to be a container and a measure for the practical which is then an instrument within the perfect and as such is perfect in its imperfection. Explicitly and as developed later, since the practical is a necessary instrument within and on the way to the ultimate and since imprecision cannot generally overcome it is perfect in that instrumental function. Perfection of precision in the practical disciplines—science and logic—is impossible and therefore cannot be necessary and should and need not be desirable; and seeking it is an impediment (perfection of the practical disciplines is possible on certain broad issues where there is overlap with the perfect).
The inclusion of more than a skeleton development is enriching (1) in showing explicitly, e.g. via experience, our grounding in the world, (2) in addressing issues that have been considered problematic which clarifies and deepens understanding and gives us confidence in the development, and (3) in showing some aspects of the historical context of development.
This work has been written many times. When being is the first introduced concept there is invariably a point where an essential connection between being and experience becomes manifest and I then think that it would perhaps be effective to introduce experience before being. When experience is placed first it is apparent that development would be more efficient when it begins with being.
In this version I will resolve this issue by now explicitly addressing a fundamental aspect of the connection between experience and being. This aspect has already been touched obliquely and what we now investigate somewhat tentatively will later be clearly seen as essential in the ideas of being and experience.
Reconsider the demonstrated assertion there is being. Experience is crucial to the demonstration but of course that is not to say that the ‘being of being’ is contingent on being experienced (later we will see that being and experience are essentially interwoven).
Now consider whether there would any significance to the assertion there is being if it were absolutely disconnected from experience. That is consider whether the assertion there is being that is eternally outside and alien to experience. Say there is ‘a universe’ without experience; what is the meaning of the assertion there is being (in that universe). We are thinking of the universe as all being but allowing for purposes of discussion that there is ‘a universe’ as just stated. It might be true but who would care? We would care of course but if we do there can only be significance if that ‘universe’ is part of the total universe (disconnects must be partial). ‘There is being’ may be true but we are logically interested only in the situation where ‘there is being’ or ‘an entity has being’ when those statements can be the result of experience (if an entity is so disconnected from everything else that it cannot enter into experience even as an recognized effect of an non explicitly recognized origin then ‘an entity has being’ has no significance in the universe). The universe is all being; so to say that there is an entity that has no affect on experience is essentially to say that there is ‘another universe’ that is disconnected from ours which is without meaning (and later we will see that it is also impossible—it would perhaps be imaginable but not real and the imagination might have an effect but the imagination would be a part of our universe and not of the alleged imagined universe). Thus, even if it were possible, the other universe would be without significant meaning to us. What of concept meaning? Here we have an at least apparent degree of freedom in concept meaning but we gain nothing from assigning ‘non effectual universe’ non empty meaning that we do not gain from imagination; so we lose nothing by assigning empty meaning to the phrase in quotes.
Is a different ‘universe’ that has no effect on ours imaginable? If it is in the same space and time it is imaginable but not truly a different universe (this is true regardless whether space and time are or are not regarded as absolute). If it is not in the same space and time it is hard to imagine. This does not prove that there cannot be such a ‘universe’—the proof will come later—but the difficulty in imagination suggests a difficulty in fact.
Unless it refers to something like ‘multiple cosmoses’ the term ‘multiple universes’ must be metaphorical for there is no significance to never interacting but different universes and where there is interaction the ‘universes’ are not different.
We lose nothing by insisting that whenever we say ‘there is being’ we mean ‘there is direct or indirect experience of being’. We must not of course make the mistake that being depends on being experienced or that the experience creates the being—that would be something like a causal interaction. The ‘interaction’ that obtains is constitutive or, roughly, logical. And it is constitutive in that a universe in which ‘there is being’ did not mean ‘there is experience of being’ has no significance (and we will later see that such universes do not exist).
It is for reasons such as these that in his Sophist, Plato said
“My notion would be, that anything which possesses any sort of power to affect another, or to be affected by another, if only for a single moment, however trifling the cause and however slight the effect, has real existence; and I hold that the definition of being is simply power.”
Now it is important that experience should be interpreted as liberally as possible (subject of course to the meaning given earlier). If we have a range of experience and we attempt to extend it by hypotheses then the extension is certain only so far as the extension is necessary and probable only so far as the extension is probable. When is the extension necessary? One situation is when we recognize that we already have the ‘extension’ but have not recognized it. It does not seem as though there are other necessities but we shall be open to the possibility (unless we can necessarily demonstrate that there are no such necessities).
When are extensions probable? We should remember that probability is always conditional (there are idealized cases such as a perfect dice and we omit considerations of conditionality for real dices when we think that they are made so well that deviations from perfect are ignorable). In science we regard the extension as probable when further experience is in agreement with the hypothesis. However, the size of the universe outside the empirical one, even when extrapolated by theory, is unknown and therefore there is no measure of the probable truth of a scientific theory that purports to refer to the entire universe. All that we can say is that for practical purposes our confidence in the theory is increased (as confidence grows and the theory helps build up a world picture we often forget this and we then tend to think that we finally have a grasp of the entire universe). But this limitation on science will not affect the perfection of the metaphysics to be developed for that metaphysics falls under the kind of ‘extension’ described in the previous paragraph. Further we will recognize that the function of practical knowledge (e.g. our sciences and logics) , as we saw above, is that as a practical instrument it is perfect in its imperfection.
Thus to think of being or beings as being-experienced is not a loss in any way. Further, we will see in the following discussion of objects that to think of something in abstract apart from our knowledge or descriptions often leads to confusion and paradox. So in referring being and experience to one another in the manner suggested above nothing is lost but there a gain in realism and clarity; and an understanding and therefore approach to resolution of well known and not so well known paradoxes and confusions.
Consider two worlds or two individuals that have the same system of experience. They are not necessarily identical but they seem to be identical in some effective sense that is not full identity but that is not merely identity of experience.
Now if there is a being—an entity, entity, interaction, process and so on—that was neither recorded in nor otherwise directly or indirectly affected experience the being would have no effective existence. Why? The existence is not effective in that it never enters not affects experience there is no reason to hypothesize it and further in that it can never can enter or affect experience hypothesizing versus not hypothesizing it makes no difference to experiential life. We might think—but it might affect my body! But this would be neither known nor knowable nor felt nor sensible. It—the never experienced being—would have no significance. Why? It is because significance occurs in experience and is like experience in that while it is of the world it is in experience.
Therefore two worlds that have the same system of experience are identical with regard to significance. Two individuals with the same system of experience have the same system of significance. Therefore
Identity of experience is effective identity of being in the sense of significance,
Two worlds or individuals that have identical experience are effectively identical.
A being that never had an affect on experience would have no significance.
Does identity of significance imply identity of being? Here significance is used in a neutral sense that is ‘enters or affects experience’; it is not used in the sense of ‘meaningful in life’. But is there any experience that has no ‘meaning in life’ however trivial? If we allow that there is no such experience then the meaning of the question does not depend on which of the two meanings we attach to ‘significance’. So the question is, really, whether identity of experience implies identity of being. Since experience is an aspect of being, identity of being implies identity of experience but identity of experience does not imply identity of being. However, developments in the division on metaphysics and particularly in its chapter on mind suggest that experience is at least strongly determinative of being in stable cosmoses and always potentially determinative of being in the universal context.
A related question is whether two individuals or worlds that have the same significance (experience) are the same individuals or worlds. Suppose that two individuals are identical in all their intensive properties—mass, height, color and so on—i.e., they are alike in every way (e.g. they are atomic beings and their atomic constitution and configuration are identical). The seemingly identical individuals could however exist at different times and places. What, however, if every atom of one individual occupied the same place as the corresponding atom of the other at all times? The laws of physics of our cosmos do not seem to permit this. Therefore they would have to be identical—if the laws held. However, we are asking the question of two individuals and not necessarily of individuals subject to our laws. Obviously under some laws the individuals could be identical in every way including times and positions (as described above) and still be different individuals. Incidentally this disproves Leibniz law of indiscernible is that individuals that cannot be distinguished in any way (all properties and not just the intensive ones are the same) ‘are’ the same individual (it shows that the law would perhaps be true under assumption of a notion law such as ‘impenetrability of matter’ or deeper law which had the same effect).
Thus identical individuals would be the same individual (a) if some necessary mechanism, e.g. physics, required sameness (e.g. via physics) (b) when some contingent mechanism allowed sameness (e.g. necessary universal metaphysics to be developed allowed contingent and sufficient interchange of or appropriate communication among the elements of the distinct but identical individuals in such a way that distinction became contingently impossible, even to omniscience).
I noted above that further analysis of being and existence will be useful. Existing and having being are identical except as will be seen in the section existence versus being. Further, certain issues have been associated with the term ‘existence’ and so, though they are relevant to being, I will take them up here. These issues are important to a careful understanding of being but they are also technical and so it is effective to discuss them in a separate chapter which is placed here because it benefits from the discussions of experience and meaning.
A concept (perhaps designated by a linguistic form such as a word or sentence) and its objects were seen to constitute meaning. We will consider some aspects of the idea of objects as objects in linguistic reference as preliminary to discussing existence.
If I say the word ‘tiger’ out loud it will evoke an image for many adults. It does so because the word ‘tiger’ refers to something in our common contexts. Similarly the sentence ‘A tiger is walking.’ will also evoke an image. Dictionaries, grammars, and logics help define our common context and therefore communication about the context.
Now consider ‘xyutil’ and ‘Xyutil bargo moseto gerum.’ They are not part of the context. They convey nothing except perhaps that they have some gross linguistic form. The word ‘xyutil’ is unlikely to evoke an image and even if it does, it will most likely be quite different from person to person.
The idea that a language form conveys something definite is the source of many errors. Examples of paradox stem from the sentence ‘This sentence is false.’ and the concept of ‘the set of all sets’.
The idea of an object is roughly the notion of a thing, e.g. tiger but the notion has been generalized to more than just things but to all existents including ‘A tiger is walking.’
However, if we abstract the notion of object from particular objects and then think that an ‘object’ will convey something definite andor consistent then this will result in error. This is a problem that may a little grandly be called ‘The problem of the object’.
We will agree that the word object shall refer only to those ‘things’ in our context defined in use and corrected and extended by dictionaries, grammars, and logics. Then except that use, dictionaries, etc. are neither complete nor perfect we will have solved the problem of the object. But since we cannot do better today than our best so far this is good enough.
Now consider the sentence ‘There are unicorns in New Zealand’. What does this mean? First consider ‘There are xyutils in New Zealand’ or, simply, ‘xyutils’. The latter conveys nothing because ‘xyutil’ is not part of the context. However, ‘unicorn’ is part of the context—though there are no unicorns we have stories and pictures of them. The statement ‘There are unicorns in New Zealand’ then means that there are objects in New Zealand that correspond roughly to our stories and pictures of unicorns. That is why ‘There are xyutils in New Zealand’ conveys nothing about what is in New Zealand.
From the same considerations ‘A tiger is walking’ conveys something about what is walking if and only if the world ‘tiger’ is associated with some concept of a tiger.
We begin by tentatively thinking of existence and being as the same. We say of something that it exists if it ‘is’.
‘Xiutls exist’ conveys nothing about what exists. ‘Tigers exist’ says that tigers exist. However from the conditions for the assertion to convey something about what exists there must be a concept of tiger; and then ‘Tigers exist’ means that there are things corresponding to the concept.
Consider the statements ‘there are tigers in India’ and ‘tigers exist’. The latter is redundant because it says nothing about tigers that is not already part of the former. ‘Existence’ is redundant because ‘everything exists’.
Also consider ‘Bill Gates lives in Washington’ and ‘Bill Gates exists’. Surely this is trivial. In other words while existence is not trivial for classes or species it surely seems trivial for individuals. Regarding individuals, existence says nothing that the particular statement does not say.
However, triviality and depth—as we have begun to see—are not exclusive. Also we doubt, from depth, that existence is altogether redundant.
Therefore, the argument goes, we do not need the notion of ‘existence’ and, even, existence is not a property. And if it is not a property then what is it? We take this up further below.
Now consider ‘Tasmanian tigers exist’ (where ‘exist’ is used in its present tense sense rather than a tenseless sense). This is not trivial or redundant because it is believed that Tasmanian tigers are extinct.
If I say ‘Unicorns do not exist’ then what is it that does not exist? This is the problem of ‘negative existentials’ or ‘negative existence’.
This problem has been anticipated in the discussion of objects—‘Unicorns do not exist’ has meaning only if we have a concept of ‘unicorn’ and then the assertion ‘Unicorns do not exist’ means that there is no object in the universe that corresponds to (satisfies) the concept of ‘unicorn’.
This problem also occurs in asserting existence. ‘Tigers exist’ has no meaning unless we have a concept of ‘tiger’. Since we commonly and conveniently conflate concept and object we think we are getting around this problem without referring to concepts. However, even in the presence of an object ‘Xiutls exist’ has no meaning; if I assert it I will receive blank stares until I point and say ‘See, that is a Xiutl’ and then the listener will say something like ‘Yes I see, I had never even heard of Xiutls before’.
We have rejected the triviality argument against existence on the grounds that it was relevant to the importance but not the fact of existence.
We also rejected the redundancy argument. The redundancy argument has similarity to the triviality ‘argument’ but is more subtle. The triviality argument said ‘everything exists’ so ‘x exists’ says nothing. The redundancy argument said what ‘x exists’ says is already said in ‘x is in California’ and so not only is existence trivial but whatever it does is already done by something else (that is informative). That is existence is empty and therefore not a concept at all. However existence is not empty. In conceptual terms it distinguishes those concepts that do refer to something in the world from those that do not (but could). In objective terms it divides objects into two classes—the actual or existing objects and those that do not but could exist (it is understood that this is subject to the problem of negative existence but now that a resolution has been given we allow it to stand as a shorthand for the conceptual terms of its expression).
However the existence of individuals has been objected to on further ground. Consider ‘Tasmanian tigers do not exist’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’. These are both subject to the problem of negative existentials which has already been addressed. However, the fist statement has another resolution in that Tasmanian tigers define a class and the statement asserts that the class is empty. The second statement does not have this resolution because ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is (or would be) and individual. Consequently the existence of individuals was regarded as especially problematic and it will be interesting to consider Bertrand Russell’s solution.
From this problem Bertrand Russell argued that existence is a second order property (a second order property is a property of properties). The line of Russell’s argument is, roughly, that Sherlock Holmes is not meant to denote an individual but rather a property ‘Sherlock Holmes-ness’ (one has that property if one lives at 221 Baker Street, London, etc). Then ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’ really means ‘Sherlock Holmes-ness is not instantiated’ and thus existence is treated as a property of the property of Sherlock Holmes-ness. The parallel to the Tasmanian tiger (class) work-around the problem of negative existentials is obvious. However, it is an argument whose need for sophistication stems from an inadequate account of meaning. With an adequate account of meaning an individual (or class) cannot be designated by name alone—a concept is required but we commonly and conveniently conflate name and concept. In effect Russell’s argument accomplishes what was more simply accomplished in the previous section. In Russell’s account Sherlock Holmes is not a name but a disguised description (but that is precisely what is being said in saying that nothing can be designated by a name alone). And this has been taken as supporting the idea that existence is not a property of individuals. However, as we have seen, on a true account of meaning, the problem vanishes and this solution is unnecessary.
Yet another argument that existence is not a property of individuals is that individuals do not exist.
Various kinds of thing have been said to not exist. Does a process exist? Why? Why not? Why would a mountain exist and the process of its geologic formation not exist? We might accept the existence of a mountain because it fits the paradigm of what we think of as existing—the mountain is there, of course, but it is also rather permanent and solid. Its process is there but it is transient and is neither solid nor not solid—it does not have the property of ‘degree of solidity’. However, we began with the idea that being and existing refer to what ‘is’, i.e. what is there and, now, we are reacting according to our intuition of what it might mean to exist and so stepping outside our agreed conception of being and existence.
An argument of Hume was that all we know is properties and that individuals are bundles of properties and therefore individuals do not exist. Why might we say this? We might do so on subscription to an empiricism according to which we know properties which are therefore real (we do not object to the conclusion) but they are the only reals and knowable things. Hume saying that (perhaps) only properties are real but that since individuals are bundles of properties they are not real. Here there are two errors—that collections of known things are not known and collections of real things are not real. It is also arbitrary because it assumes that because unanalyzed percepts are not analyzable. It is to prejudge being before we have understood it. It is to make our final theory dependent on ad hoc notions. I repeat that if we follow this line of reasoning we are prejudicing our agreed upon notions of being and existing by requiring them to conform to intuitions and reasons extraneous to our concepts. Hume’s argument might—or might not—apply to the idea of ‘existing as a material thing’ but it would then apply—or not apply—to being and existence if they were material in nature; but we do not know that there is such a thing as material nature in precise terms; and even if there were we do not know that (all) being and existence would reduce to it. Again this is prejudice and the way to overcome the prejudice (or a counter prejudice) is to not adhere to either and allow our final position to emerge as it may (which includes their emergence according to reasons and principles which too shall be in emergence). An argument of the type of Hume is a substance theory in the guise of an epistemology. It is a type of argument that slips in something ‘x’ as a criterion of the real before the real has been understood and then says that things that are (or possess) x and only such things are real. I conclude this paragraph with the observation that an experience is an individual (but am a pole apart from suggesting that experiences are the only individuals).
Hume rejected the necessity of cause, and space, and time for precisely the reasons that he ignored in arguing that individuals do not exist.
Further, precisely the opposite position is possible according to another intuition that the kind that contains all other kinds as special cases is the most real of kinds. In any case we go back to being. If it is ‘there’ it has being, if it has being it exists. Of course, perhaps existence is practically trivial but this would only mean that we have no need for it. That kind of thinking in turn would mean that since everything is ‘in the universe’ we have no need for the universe. In any case we have already seen that being and so existence are trivial—at least in a sense specified earlier. But triviality does not in the least exclude significance and we will find that being and existence are of immense practical and conceptual significance.
The later discussion of objects will show that the distinction between property and individual as far as being is concerned is empty. There we will see that the only unrealized concept from the universe of concepts is the one ruled out by facts which are always local and by logic.
The answer is ‘back to being’ or ‘back to existence’. That is, we must go back to definitions.
There is of course a problem with ad hoc definitions. This is one reason that we are arguing for the given definition. And while the argument resumes in the next section the entire foundation and metaphysics divisions develop and provide a more complete argument.
When we see an entity we may say ‘that entity has being’. Thus we may say ‘that tree has being’. This is allowed by the definition of being except of course that we know that the being of the tree is limited in time (on the other hand it is always true that the tree had being over a certain period of time). We may ask, however, what is the being of the tree? Our definition of being does not give us an answer beyond the tree itself. However, if we may think, tentatively, that the being of the tree is in its atoms and their arrangements. But the thought that led us to ask about the being of the tree now leads us to ask about the being of the atoms. If atoms were ultimate we would be entitled to say that the being of the tree is in its atoms and that the being of each atom is in itself.
Now even from a practical point of view the tree does not sustain itself. It is part of a more or less self-sustaining environment (which if we do our accounting correctly we may find to be the universe). We will later define the universe as all being (over all extensivity such as space-time). The universe has being in itself but we may wonder whether the tree has being in itself or only in relation. Keep in mind during this discussion that we are going outside the definition of being and giving regard to some intuition or preconception of ‘entity’ or ‘process’ and so on. With this in mind, we continue to ask what it is that sustains the being of the tree. Perhaps the tree has being but how will I know this? If the tree had some substance of its own that would be its being.
Practically therefore we are entitled to distinguish being (being in itself) from being in relation and being in another. The latter have been called existence (the etymological root is the Latin existere: to emerge). Now I might think but ‘the tree’ satisfies my definition of being so it has being. But if I naïvely assume, along with being itself, experience, and the real world that the being of the tree is eternal and non transactional then I will run into error. This is the practical point to the distinction between being and existence. It is as much an epistemic issue as it is metaphysical (but this reminds us that any absolute distinction between knowledge and being is false). We are not saying that there is nothing that perhaps could be perfectly known behind the tree as known but simply that we do not know it with perfection (someone might retort—in fact you do not know it at all but I am allowing that in a pure sense while insisting that I do in fact have some knowledge-for-practical-purposes). And, indeed, if my knowledge were perfect the problem would not arise. We have seen that our knowledge is perfect in some cases (being itself…) but we know well that it is not invariably perfect.
There are a number of approaches to this issue. One is to think of ‘the tree as I know it’ or the ‘tree as in relation’ or ‘the tree in relation as I know it’ to be the object. This may be conceptually satisfying but leaves us with entanglements that we do not know that we can disentangle even though we behave as though there is no entanglement. The solution is perfect on the conceptual side but not known, except on further and particular analysis, to be more than practical on the instrumental side.
A second solution is in terms of the relation between perfect and practical (imperfect but useful for some purposes) knowledge. Knowledge of the facts of being, experience, and the real world that contains experience is perfect. It is also general in nature. In its general nature it encompasses the more particular imperfect but practical knowledge. Now there are reasons to think that there is significant practical knowledge that can never become perfect. If that is the case then certainly we would not want perfection in those cases. Therefore we may be satisfied with the imperfect as a practical instrument within the perfect. After development of the universal metaphysics we will find this to be the case—and more. We will find that the perfect knowledge developed here so far is extended to knowledge of the universe which is limitless. The metaphysics will imply that while we are in limited form our sciences will remain ever incomplete and imprecise. Therefore there is no reason to be dissatisfied with the epistemic status of the sciences. We will further find that the individual realizes the universe and its greatest form and identity but, while in limited form, this realization is an endless journey of ever fresh experience (of course not excluding pain). In that journey which must remain ever experimental, the sciences are among the instruments of realization. That situation is reality itself in that it is not to be outdone and it is therefore perfect—there is perfection in ‘imperfection’. Meanwhile we remain living it this world for this now; we do not lose the need for our sciences and other disciplines to be improved; but the significance of the situation has changed. The secular now is no longer the world; it is an infinitesimal fraction of it.
The distinction between being and existence has duality to distinction of the pure and the practical.
The universe is all being.
The definition is simple but crucial in the following respects. (1) The is defined in terms of being. This is important. Are matter, mind, space, time, laws, interactions, concepts, ideas, morals, and so on part of the universe? Yes, in so far as they are real. What is matter? That may be puzzling. Is all matter in the universe? Yes! Are ideas in the universe? Yes! Is the universe defined in terms of time and space or are they parts of the universe? First, we do not yet know that time and space have purchase over the entire universe. However, the notions of sameness and difference and thus of extensivity have purchase over the entire universe—they constitute part of the meaning of ‘entire’. Where time has purchase, e.g. in some cosmological systems, we may think of that part of the universe in terms of slices in time. However, we cannot do this in general. In general however, the idea of ‘all being’ (over all extensivity) has definiteness. This point will become clearer below in discussing identity, space and time and in subsequent discussions. (2) The definition uses the phrase ‘all being’—that there is no thing of any kind regardless of the nature of the concept that is not in the universe (if abstract objects exist they are in the universe).
What is crucial about the definition is that it gives us a definite notion. On the other hand such notions as ‘all matter’ or ‘all matter and energy’ or ‘empirical universe’ are vague with regard to what is in the universe, what kinds of things are allowed, and the role of extensivity in the universe. The definiteness and completeness of the conception of universe here is critical.
Particularly, that the universe is ‘all being’ means that the void which will be defined as the absence of being or ‘no being’ is absolutely void (unlike the quantum vacuum).
Thus there is precisely one universe (in this meaning).
Since the universe is all being—all that is there—it is not located in space-time. Rather what space and time there are must be immanent in the universe. It does not follow that the entire universe is marked by space and time (this stem of an idea is developed later in chapters on cosmology and physical cosmology). We can think of the universe as all being over all measures such as space and time.
If creation is external to the created, the universe has and can have no creator or creation (or destruction).
In so far as creation and destruction are causation and causation is external to what is created, the universe has no creation or destruction.
The universe may exist (temporally, for example) in manifest and non-manifest states. The transition is not an act of creation or destruction. It may be called an act of emergence.
That the universe is not created does not rule out creation of one part by another. One part of the universe may create-destroy or be involved in the creation-destruction of another.
It is reasonable, however, that most structure results from longevity due to greater stability or mutual adaptation of its parts (again, due to greater symmetry), usually arrived at by incremental variation and selection. This point will be elaborated later.
A possible state (or event or process) of a system or context is one that satisfies its constitution or definition.
Some contexts are defined by more than one state. One example is a single role of a dice in which there are six possible outcome states (but one actual outcome). With two dice the number of outcomes depends on how we count; we ‘normally’ count thirty six but can still count six—a one occurred, a two occurred, and so on; and in a given outcome at most two possibilities will be actual. With six or more dice all (six) possibilities may be actual and he setup may be designed so that all possibilities will occur with certainty or with probability one which is effective certainty.
The concept of logical possibility is satisfaction of (the laws of) logic.
Note that a law of logic is not a law of nature but a constraint on the freedom of concept formation (which includes indicating, as for the predicate calculus, rules for well formed concepts). Thus is appears that logical possibility must be expressed in terms of concepts. However we may express it in apparently objective terms—logical possibility is the absence of limits. A simple concept of physical possibility is satisfaction of the laws of physics. Physical possibility might then come in two kinds according to whether non-physical entities are admitted (if the laws of physics are regarded as pertaining only to physical entities non-physical entities do not violate the laws).
Logical possibility is the most liberal meaning of possibility for if a concept violates logic it is unrealizable by definition (one notion of logic is that it is the system of truths that obtain in all possible worlds). In the following section, possibility is logical possibility.
Since the universe is all being there is no other context. Relative to the universe possibility and actuality are identical.
If we had complete knowledge of the universe the idea of possibility would have no significance to us. Because our knowledge is incomplete the idea does have significance. This significance will turn out to be immense.
A limitless universe is one in which all possibility obtains.
In a limitless universe there will and must be (acute and diffuse) phases of manifestation—of extension and duration—and identity including identity of self; as well as phases of un-manifestation; however, there must also be continuities of identity among the manifest.
In a limitless universe there is no universal substance but there must be ‘worlds’ in which have substance-like kinds.
In a limitless universe there must be matter-like aspects of being as well as mind-like aspects of being: experience (required for identity of self). There must also be cases of intimate relation between ‘mind’ and ‘matter’—cases where they are two sides of one kind—i.e., matter as being-in-itself and mind as being-in-relation. But is this conjunction invariable? Not necessarily but we will see (a) that in what we call normal worlds (at least hose of our type) it must be and (b) that in other cases where it does not occur, and seems to be the stable case. However, it is in the nature of mind and matter thus conceived that there cannot be a third kind and this is in the nature of these conceptions of mind and matter (perhaps there can be other kinds of kinds). Similarly there must be extension and duration (space and time) but it is in the nature of difference and identity that there cannot be further modes of extensivity.
There can be no invariable formula for the formation of a normal world. However a normal formula or model is that of incremental self-adaptation from formlessness. This is a normal model for the origin of form—and of the population of the universe by form for form is near symmetry and therefore relative stability and population is a function of occasions of origin multiplied by stability-measured-by-durability. What is the origin of experience? It is not necessary to every stable normal form but is necessary in some stable normal forms in which stability is substance-like and primitive matter and primitive mind or experience are two sides of primal being. When matter is substance-like, this duality in unitary-ness must obtain. Then higher mind is the result of adaptation (the variation and selection of evolution). What is the origin of reflexive mind—experience of experience? With experience of experience, mind can marshal its resources and this is adaptive; but mistake of rationality is to think that all adaptive thought must be of this type. The origin of language would also be adaptive and perhaps interwoven with reflexivity (experience of experience) but even if not so in the origins, reflexivity would promote language and language would promote reflexivity.
Given the ‘empirical universe’—currently the roughly 13.8 billion year old and 92 billion light years across cosmos of big-bang origin—what can we say of the entire universe?
Comment. Points I repeat—(a) variety of being and (b) consistency with science and experience.
We can say that the universe may be the limitless universe except that the above has truth—the empirical cosmos is a partially determining basis for the universe. This is clearly consistent with logic because here limitlessness is defined as occurrence of what is logically possible. Further it is consistent with—does not contradict—science or experience since science and experiences show some parts of what is there but what is not there (there is a contradiction with any positivist view of science that asserts that what is not seen in science does not exist which very few hold explicitly but many hold tacitly). The following would not contradict neither science or logic. There is an unlimited array of formed structures (‘cosmoses’), some passing through ours at present. These occur against a background universe of void to barely formed structure; the universe has identity and being in acute, diffuse, and absent phases; the universe confers these powers on all individuals (within possibility).
Where in this vast realm of possibility does the universe lie? If we consider imaginable possibilities as constituting a probability space (it is not clear that this is valid), then the vastness of the space suggests that the universe must be near limitless. What limits this conclusion to a ‘suggestion’? First, that there is a base—the empirical universe. However, ‘far’ from this base its significance tends to zero. Secondly, if we count ‘all states’ once it is probable that almost all of the states be realized. Finally, the states to be counted should be defined adequately; it is not clear how to do this but it is clear, for example, that the universe should not be a state. However, to retrieve probability from possibility every state must be counted according to the number or measure of its occurrences—which under possibility has no limit. That the probability that every state occurs is certainty has been given a robust argument.
If each state occurs with certainty what is different is the density of distribution of the states. This is affected not only by frequency of occurrence but ‘lifetime’ of the states; we expect that both factors will be greater for those self-adapted states that originate by increment (variation and selection) through a sequence of self-adapted states. If we then recognize that the constraint of the given is not in fact a limit, the universe must be near limitless. But even if possibility imagined does not constitute probability space it is reasonable to think that the probability space is immense.
Simply, a robust ‘possibilist’ argument has been given that the universe is limitless (a proof will be given in the universal metaphysics). And if the universe is limitless, chosen empirical base has almost no effect on the entire universe. Alternatively, any part of the universe is equally a base for the entire universe.
The assertion that the universe is limitless can be developed into a worldview that is clearly ultimate in the sense of possibility. It would be interesting to do so here but the development is deferred till the universal metaphysics following a preliminary introduction to metaphysics. The main reason for this deferment is that the argument given in the universal metaphysics includes a proof of limitlessness and that the proof introduces the confidence of necessity and analytic tools for the development.
It is clear that the universe, since it is limitless, must be indeterministic.
In pre-relativistic physics the universe was thought to have a present state that determined all future states. However, it is conceivable that the future would include all possible states. One way that could happen is if the laws of physics were different so that the future evolved sequentially—linearly or in some sort of repetition—through all possible states (quantum physics, on some accounts, appears to allow at least some freedom in this direction). But now, since we have relaxed the laws of physics, the context is not defined. What does or could ‘all possible states’ mean?
We could ask of the universe, what it would mean for it to realize all possibilities of any kind. We saw above that this kind of possibility would be logical possibility. This poses a number of problems. In the fist place logic applies to concepts. We could therefore draw some simple consequences. However, what are the consequences for the universe as a whole. Would our logics under or over specify the nature of a ‘limitless universe’. In the second place it is most probable that our modern logics have not exhausted logic itself. This suggests that the idea of a limitless universe requires re-conceptualization of logic and a computational ability whose surface we barely scratch. This is further complicated by the fact that while our categories—e.g. the physical ones of space, time, and cause and aesthetic ones of value and beauty—must apply to parts of the limitless universe they cannot (in all probability) obtain of that universe at large and the question then arises as to what does obtain. We can imagine a void in transaction with near formlessness in transaction with creation and destruction of form and structure. It is hard, however, to imagine the nature of that creation (except adaptation) and hard to imagine the categories but the ones we know (space, time, cause…) in varying degrees of definiteness.
A final concern is that while we do have some knowledge of the universe, this ‘empirical universe’ must be immensely limited if the universe is limitless. What part of our knowledge should be best regarded as determining the rest of the universe? We may call that part of our knowledge the determining basis or base that determines the entire universe (above we saw that in classical physics the present state of ‘a universe’ is an appropriate base). The question pertains to a deterministic ‘normal world’ where the examples of base are initial or boundary conditions. If the classical concepts of time obtained a good candidate would be the present. However, in a limitless universe as we consider greater and greater removes from such a base, what the base determines diminishes into utter insignificance.
In a limitless universe all (possible) states occur. In this sense it is absolutely deterministic. An omniscient being would see the universe as determined. In a limitless universe there would be an occasional omniscient being—in moments of acute manifestation. However, omniscience would not extend to the entire universe. From the point of view of determination or prediction of the whole from a limited part a limitless universe is absolutely indeterministic.
Comment. Need a version for main truths
A fairly pervasive view of science is that its theories explain so much that they seem universal until shown inadequate by new information—theories and data—when a newer theory may replace the old. The old theory remains valid (accurate) in some domain while the new theory is valid in the old as well as newly revealed domains. The conceptual structure of the new theory and its predictions in new domains are vastly different from those of the old. However, if the universe is immensely different than the part that we know this view of science may be limited. An alternative and perhaps more prosaic view is that every good scientific theory is a fact in a limited domain. This view holds up regardless of what is revealed by new information and is therefore more robust. Further, if—as argued above and proved later—the universe is limitless then of the two views of science it is the second that will survive and obtain. Therefore in the following I take the second view.
If we consider all our truths, logic is the system of truths for all possible worlds while the sciences are true only of some worlds. This synthesis is now reinforced.
In the first place science has been regarded as inductive but logic deductive. However this contrast is inappropriate for consequences of the logics and the sciences are both deductive while arriving at sciences and logics is inductive in both cases. And both inductions are ‘empirical’—science over facts of the world and logic over facts of symbolic expression. These reinforcements does not depend on limitlessness.
The distinction that science is concerned with facts and logic with concepts (propositions) but this distinction not as sharp as it may seem. For a fact is a percept—a kind of concept and logic is concerned if only at the extreme points of its deductive process: premises and conclusions. Further, science is concerned not only with facts it gains its power from patterns expressed in conceptual terms called ‘laws’ and ‘theories’. What we call facts seem atomic and what we call laws seem to have structure. Perhaps, however, facts are complex entities that we (usually) see or interact with as atomic; and perhaps laws and theories are elements of even more compound structures relative to which the theories are elementary.
Another reinforcement is as follows. In the previous paragraph science and logic are seen to share in their experimental and conceptual character. It is likely that the complexities of possibility will shape the logic of the future in such ways that the truths of logic and science become indistinguishable. They will merge in a single entity that may be called logical realism, realism, or Logic. The distinction between science and logic will not become void a gradation—if not a continuum—rather than a sharp distinction. This may well be made necessary by limitlessness. The relative character of fact and compound will be seen necessary by limitlessness.
A law-of-nature is our reading of a pattern; the manifest pattern is the law.
As a pattern, a law has being and therefore the universe contains all laws. Here, the power of being continues to be revealed.
It is commonly recognized that perhaps the most elementary experience or percept is that of change or difference. Extensivity obtains precisely where there is difference. Only where there is difference can there be perception of difference and then there can be sameness and perception of sameness. These are of course the constituents of manifest being. Being and universe, are it seems, forms of manifestation.
Identity is sameness sustained.
The sustaining is not necessarily absolute (I use the term absolute because the term ‘eternal’ has no meaning so far).
Perception of identity is sustained sense of identity.
Personal identity is sustained sense of self.
Duration is marked by change in the same identity.
Extension is marked by different identities.
Space and time are measures of extension and duration.
Extension, duration, space, and time are aspects of being and have being. There is no meaning to these terms as being other than or outside being (or the universe).
The universe is not invariably marked by identity, extension and duration. Where it is so marked they are not absolute in their nature—that is they are immanent among or, equivalently, of being: they are relative (to being). It may however be the case that one part of the universe sets up an as if space and time for another part.
The definitions show why identity or manifest being is and must be marked by extensivity and why the necessary and only extensivities are those of extension and duration. However, it does not follow that there must be manifestation (manifest being).
Comment. Points I repeat—relative versus absolute nature of space-time (here, ‘relative’ means not forming an external frame for being).
Where there is difficulty in marking identity—e.g., as in communication by only finite signal speeds in non rigid systems (and it is difficult to see how rigidity can occur where the only manifestation is of being itself) differentiation between changing versus different identity might lack significance; thus the ‘system relative characters of space and time’. Where identity is diffuse, space and time may be diffuse. In the near void background space and time may be nebulous; in the void there is no such thing—no difference between an instant and an eternity, no difference between a zero and a limitless distance. As space and time are but immanent self-markers of identity and not laid out grids, so their measures are generally not independent and, so, they warp with being.
The void is the absence of being.
When (if) the universe goes from non manifest to manifest the term ‘creation’ is inapplicable we may say that the manifest form emerges.
The void contains no laws. There is no extensivity in the void. Thee is no difference between un-manifestation and the void. A void may be said to be associated with every ‘particle’ of being.
Under limitlessness a void is equivalent to every state and the number of voids has no significance. This argument depends on limitlessness. Later we will not take limitlessness for granted but argue from elementary properties of the void to limitlessness.
The value of knowledge includes negotiation and appreciation of the world. It is important to destiny. Therefore the nature of knowledge—what it is—and criteria for validity are important.
We recognize a variety of kinds of knowledge. One is knowledge about or of the world, another is ‘know how’. Perhaps we could consider the adaptation of organisms a kind of knowledge; if the formation of our cosmos was the result of some sort of selection of more stable or self-adapted systems we could perhaps consider its form knowledge. Our main interest here is knowledge of or about the world.
A conception of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’ occurs in the writings of Plato and has dominated western philosophical thought on knowledge. This idea has recently been shown problematic via counterexamples due to Bertrand Russell and Edmund Gettier. These counterexamples are open to criticism and therefore not definitive. However, it should be noted that ‘justified true belief’ is at least as much criterion for as it is the nature or concept of knowledge. And the fact that it has been held and has reasonability is not an absolute reason to hold or accept it as definition andor criterion.
What, then, is knowledge? On a simple account knowledge is a map or picture of the thing known. The problem with this notion is that the concept is not the object and the idea begs the question of veracity or validity—how do we know that the alleged map is true or even that the idea of map is more than a metaphor? Consequently there are other notions of knowledge—it is relationship, an aspect of our being in the world; this notion was emphasized by certain existentialists and it has in its favor that it appears natural and non instrumental. Another notion of knowledge comes from its function—knowledge is that which purports (and proves) to being useful in negotiating the world and its criterion is success in negotiation.
We have seen above that there are cases of knowledge as perfect map! That it is perfect means that (a) the idea of mapping is not just metaphorical and (b) the ‘map’ is perfect. It is important that we have not shown this to be universal. But it is also important that we have given more than trivial examples of it. The examples are of course more than mere examples which include that there is being, regarding experience—there is experience and the experience that there is a real world that contains experience is true, there is a universe, that—trivially—the universe that contains all laws, and that the void contains no law. Some simple assertions regarding identity, space and time, and that ‘it is possible that the universe is limitless’ are also true. The assertion that knowledge breaks down into the perfect and the practical (and that some knowledge claims are simply wrong or illusory) is also true.
In the development so far—except some discussions in the section on—we established cases of perfect knowledge in that the concept perfectly matches the object (and that the matching has meaning). Clearly not all claims to knowledge are perfect. Remaining knowledge claims are those of practical knowledge in that (though they are not known to be better rough and in that metaphor of representation in such cases is not known to be better than rough) they may be useful (instrumental) and they may be perfect from the being-in-the-world point of view (in which of course ‘frustration’ is also perfect).
Knowledge is either perfect or practical matching of concept to object.
Note that I am not using ‘representation’ (matching) in Descartes’ sense that we do not know objects directly but only via ideas that mediate the objects. I am not using the notion that there is an ‘idea’ that is over and above perception or conception. However, I do use the term ‘representation’ to emphasize that there is no sense in which cognition—perception and conception—are essentially or necessarily faithful. It is important and so I repeat that whereas ‘the concept is not the object’ is often at least tacitly assumed to mean that there is no perfection in knowledge the implication is not valid and even though buttressed by some obvious cases of imperfection.
Later, especially in interaction with the perfect, some aspects of the what is known as practical will be revealed or improved to the perfect while some will remain obviously or not known to be better than practical. A divide between the perfect and the practical will remain even as understanding improves.
Since the perfect knowledge so far concerns being and the universe it may constitute a boundary or container for all knowledge and the interaction between the perfect and the practical. This will turn out to be the case. The perfect will be seen to bound and illuminate the practical and the practical will ground and show the way to the perfect. From the point of view of perfect faithfulness, the distinction will remain. However, it will vanish according to instrumental criteria (especially there will be no limit to cosmoses where local knowledge cannot become perfect but need not do so because it functions positively as an instrument on the way). Finally all knowing is and remains perfect in the sense of being-in-the-world.
We now provide some elaborations.
But what is knowledge of the world? It is, figuratively, a picture or partial picture of the world. Knowledge is experience with some experience faithfulness to its objects.
However experience and objects experienced are not the same. We know that there can be illusion and error. Because the measure of experience is always experience it seems impossible to guarantee perfect faithfulness; it even difficult to specify precisely what faithfulness is. Therefore some thinkers doubt the possibility of knowledge at all.
Because of issues with faithfulness—its meaning, verifying it, its significance—other senses of knowledge have been suggested.
One alternate sense of knowledge is pragmatism according to which the function of knowledge is usefulness rather than faithfulness. Of course faithfulness may have some purchase but in pragmatism it is not known directly.
According to another sense ‘knowledge’ is not primarily functional. It is about being-in-the-world, not about mirroring the world or being instrumental. Alternatively, knowledge and function are not separable. So faithfulness and instrumentality are the not essence of knowledge but may be aspects of some knowledge.
The idea of ‘knowledge’ as about being-in-the-world—rather than representing the world—has motivated many thinkers and schools of thought. An early objector to mechanism was William Blake. Heidegger famously writes of Dasein as a unitary phenomenon being-in-the-world—not a tripartite of being, in-ness, and the world. Post modernists object to a metaphysics of presence—the idea that we are privileged to know and re-present things—that has informed two thousand years of philosophy and it is on this and other accounts that there is objection to the idea of a ‘grand narrative’ such as a metaphysics of Hegel or a political-economic philosophy of Marx. These activities are not wrong but wrong-headed—i.e. meaningless or impossible.
Later, in metaphysics, we find a perfect system of knowledge. This system and the practical knowledge of science and everyday experience will be most useful when they complement each other. The perfect system shows what is possible, the practical provides a means. The objections to metaphysics of presence, the objections to the ‘grand narrative’ are too sweeping (too grand—of course I am not the first to say this); the actual situation is that there is a realm of perfect metaphysics—for example in the fact of a sense of awareness alone—which complements and contains the practical and being-in-the-world. Further, the perfect shows that the practical must ever remain incomplete and imprecise (it is not implied that completeness or precision is the necessary or only criterion of the validity of the practical). This means that we overrate the significance of our standard epistemologies.
That we negotiate everyday affairs with some success shows that there is some faithfulness to common knowledge or experience.
We can think of science as an extension of ordinary experience in which ways have been arrived at to eliminate error, to improve precision.
But we are always improving precision and there is no guarantee of an end to it.
Can we guarantee the completeness and precision of our sciences of nature? Because it seems that ‘science has made excellent inroads to all niches of nature’ many thinkers hold that the scientific picture of the universe is essentially complete. However we are reasonably certain of that only when the only niches we see are the ones so far revealed. There is a tendency to think that what we have seen in experience and culture is all there is. There may well be immense domains untouched by science—large scale and distant and microscopic and immediate.
We often think that our physical science is close to universal; however this is by no means known to be true; science is a system of concepts hypothesized to agree with experience and data; as first pointed out by Hume there is no necessity to the conceptual system; the realm shown in science may have exhausted most of reality or may be an infinitesimal fraction of it.
It might seem that perfect knowledge (in the sense of perfect precision) is very improbable—perhaps impossible.
However in showing the facts that there is being, that there is experience, that there is a real world known in experience, and that the real world contains experience we have already found examples of perfect knowledge—i.e. knowledge that is perfectly faithful to its objects.
Such knowledge is possible on account of the fact that the ‘objects’ contain little in the way of fine grained distinction. In fact the only distinction recognized in the idea of being is ‘is’ versus ‘is not’.
Perhaps the only perfect knowledge is trivial. Still, an exception has been shown to the thought that there is and can be no perfect knowledge. Perhaps there is more. Further triviality and depth are not exclusive.
In the next division, metaphysics, we will find a ‘universe’ of perfect knowledge of ultimate depth and breadth (the sense of ‘depth’ and ‘breadth’ will be specified).
As already noted this perfect knowledge complements practical knowledge—i.e. knowledge that is imperfectly precise but useful. If such knowledge were incapable of full precision we might be tempted to call it perfect with regard to practical ends (instrumental perfection). The metaphysics of the next section will show that the sciences are generally not capable of perfect precision. However this is not the only reason to call practical knowledge instrumentally perfect. The perfect metaphysics reveals what will necessarily be achieved but does not show how to achieve it; practical knowledge (sciences such as those of matter, life, and mind) is the means up to the boundary of current science when some new advance becomes necessary. This shows the sense in which the sciences are perfect as they are even though not precise. The perfect metaphysics and the sciences complement one another.
If we define metaphysics as perfect knowledge of being then these ‘facts’ are metaphysical knowledge.
The knowledge of being so far is not trivial in that it establishes the possibility of some metaphysics. It is not trivial and satisfying in its care (it is established in experience) and its breadth (‘everything has being’). However, it is so far trivial in its description of the world for it makes few distinctions and it is trivial in what it empowers.
The aim in this division is to develop metaphysical understanding of the universe.
What we have found so far seems trivial—perhaps that is as far as perfect metaphysical knowledge can go. If so there is little point to metaphysics. However subsequently, in the universal metaphysics, we will find a ‘universe’ of perfect knowledge of ultimate depth and breadth. Ultimate ‘depth’ will mean that the knowledge is shown perfectly faithful and ultimate breadth will mean that it reveals a universe in which all possibility is realized.
There remain some issues regarding metaphysics. One is the question of what metaphysics is—the adequacy of metaphysics as study of being for this notion has been criticized especially in the twentieth century and more recently. Another is the criticism regarding the possibility of metaphysics stemming roughly since the time of Kant; we have seen that a trivial portion of metaphysics is possible but can we take metaphysics beyond that point (as we saw in the previous paragraph we will have immense success in this).
The question of precision is related to the question of possibility. If we are concerned with destiny, some sort of precision is essential. One of the ‘drawbacks’ of physical science is that despite great precision in some areas the precision is not perfect and so prediction to the distant future is not possible (except on assumption that the laws are perfect and universal). So there is a need for precision in our metaphysics. From its foundation in precise (perfect) knowledge of the aspects of being and experience mentioned above, a perfect (precise) metaphysics will emerge.
Thus the first meaning of metaphysics will be perfect knowledge of being.
However, once this is established it may be joined with practical knowledge (e.g. science and common experience). The join will be immensely powerful. The precise and perfect will show what is possible—the contours of destiny. The practical will show immediate detailed knowledge and though not precise it will be an instrument of negotiation. Further, the perfect and the practical will combine in many important contexts (e.g., space and time, mind and body) to give perfect answers to general questions that have so far eluded our philosophies and sciences.
In this division the aim is to develop metaphysical knowledge and to apply it to some ‘important’ realms of being.
In addition to the question of precision there is a more general question of significance. Is metaphysics significant—is it of value? One of its criticisms has been that it overlooks more immediate local issues. A response to this question has already been noted—metaphysics or the universal combines with the practical and the immediate. But this needs elaboration.
Value is not the only concern of significance. Validity (realism) is also important. We have seen above that the metaphysics of the narrative is valid in this way. But is it necessary for all metaphysics (e.g. the metaphysics of the past or possible systems of the future) to be valid in this sense? A brief answer is ‘no’ for even where in error a metaphysics may be suggestive to other endeavors or pave the way for improvement. Again this needs elaboration.
So, I first take up the concerns of specifying my use of the term ‘metaphysics’ and of showing that metaphysics in this sense has significance (validity and value). It is effective to do this in the context of a general discussion of metaphysics as practiced in philosophy.
This is taken up beginning in the following introduction to metaphysics.
Metaphysics has a number of quite different senses.
The aim of this introduction to metaphysics is to clarify significance the specific sense of metaphysics in this narrative—and to show it to be significant.
In its origin metaphysics as a part of philosophy was very broad—perhaps the broadest of the studies of the world. One original characterization of metaphysics by Aristotle was as the ‘study of being as being’ and another was ‘first philosophy’; yet another characterization was ‘whatever is permanent and uniform’. Now in metaphysics these alternate characterizations have passed as specifying metaphysics and this suggests an unprincipled discipline. Yet the characterizations are not at all equivalent. Since knowledge is part of being, the second of these characterizations falls implicitly under the first; and the third characterization does not obviously specify anything at all. These different ideas are therefore a stab at what metaphysics might be; we might think this way: Thales, Parmenides, Aristotle, Plato and others—even Heidegger and the modern metaphysicians—were experimenting with the idea of the best way to define the most general of all studies. However it is pertinent that all notions regarding the nature of metaphysics are contained as or within ‘study of being as being’. There is a modern objection to the idea of metaphysics as study of being—rejection of the being of first causes and unchanging things is a metaphysical statement. However, the ideas that there are or are not first causes has being and that we regard it as metaphysical does not take it outside the realm of study of being. As will emerge logic, science, and even aesthetics and ethics are—may be properly treated as—parts of metaphysics.
But how can knowing fall under being? We—ancients and moderns alike—tend to regard ideas either has having no being or as having a different or lesser order of being than the tangibles; later we will see that in the universal there is but one order of being that includes ideas and—concrete and abstract—things.
Today, there is little agreement on the nature of metaphysics because
Now from our earlier considerations on meaning it would be a violation of the notion of meaning to say ‘study of being as being’ is the one and only meaning of metaphysics. However it would not be a violation to argue that ‘being as being’ is one very reasonable meaning. And it is a very reasonable meaning but for the above problems with it. I therefore provide responses to the concerns.
A more careful response to the question of method is that being includes knowledge and therefore study of being includes study of method. Therefore there can be no truly a priori method for study of being. The method or methods must emerge. Metaphysics (as study of being) includes the study of metaphysics. This of course has overtones of paradox; however in reflecting how we have knowledge of experience we see that it is contained in experience. This beginning of method is further developed in what follows and there is no paradox (there might be paradox if we thought of the study as a static product of a limited form of mind but the study need not and does not have this restriction).
It was suggested above that metaphysics could have more methods than one. But what could these other methods be? The power of science requires that it have empirical roots. Is the suggestion that the ‘other’ methods are not empirical? To answer this question it is good to see science and the rest of metaphysics—contents and methods—as on a continuum rather than in opposition. All of metaphysics (knowledge) involves free concept formation over data. In science the data is complex so hypotheses are (intelligent) guesses that must remain open to test. At another extreme ‘bare’ metaphysics, e.g. knowledge of being as being and experience as experienced, is simple data over which concepts do no more than capture the data which is open to being filled in (e.g. with science) but which needs no confirmation since it invokes no hypothesis.
Now if ‘freedom of concept formation is guided by the real’, as it is in science and common knowledge, how is it that the metaphysics here is not subject to the imprecision and revisability of science? The answer has already been noted—the imprecision of science is due to its attention to detail; the metaphysics avoids imprecision by being founded only in features so undifferentiated as to be capable of and result in precision. The metaphysics is therefore true.
As true, it cannot but have relevance but it is a project to show and further develop its relevance and grounding. This will require developing the idea of being with sufficient elaboration (system) as to include the notions of universe (all being) and void (absence of being); and it will be enhanced by showing affinity to—rather than remove from—practical knowledge including science and will further involve integration of the metaphysics to be developed and practical knowledge.
Therefore we are justified in considering ‘study of being as being’ to be one important notion metaphysics. It has no conflict with other philosophical senses of the term but what we have shown is that those senses fall under ‘study of being as being’.
Must metaphysics be perfectly precise, must its method be perfectly secure? This is a value that we have attached to metaphysics and other knowledge even science (but we know science is not perfectly precise and its method is one that involves test and correction—it produces in process and not final accounts). There is in fact no reason to require perfect precision and security. What we do wish to exclude is the confusion of the perfect and the imperfect. Therefore with every piece or range of metaphysical knowledge we should provide what estimate of security we can. However, this is already in the nature of metaphysics as ‘study of being as being’ for, as neutral, the power of being is that the more specific natures of things shall emerge from study and not be imposed; but since knowledge and metaphysics are also part of being their more specific nature and degrees of security will emerge—there will be no a priori knowledge (perhaps the only a priori is what is coded in the structure of organisms but this too will be seen to not be an absolute a priori).
Thus the notion of metaphysics as study of being as being has been given justification. In the following we will occasionally be more liberal and allow parallel status to other meanings, not out of some principle of ‘democracy’ but so as to encourage reflection, refinement and an occasion for correction. However, for formal purposes metaphysics will be the study of being.
In this section I focused on the issue of what metaphysics is (or should be). I touched on some criticisms of metaphysics as study of being. But the criticisms of the concept require further attention. This will be taken up below.
It will emerge that metaphysics as study of being is a comprehensive, consistent, and potent use of the term.
Because the older metaphysics have been called in question and because it is not clear what activities are metaphysical, it is regarded not entirely clear today what metaphysics is. That is both sense and reference of the term ‘metaphysics’ are in question. However, this contains confusion. We can retain the sense while arguing that the activities of metaphysics change due to changing insight (and to a lesser degree due to changing convention).
Thus there is no need to change the sense of ‘metaphysics’ as knowledge of being unless we think that what modern metaphysics studies does not have being.
Here I wish to make the following points. (1) Contrary to doubt and as shown in what follows, the original meaning of metaphysics continues to define valid and significant activity—a metaphysics, as noted above, of ultimate depth and breadth. (2) There need be no conflict with variant meaning—sense or reference—uses of ‘metaphysics’. (3) Perhaps all uses can and should be covered by the sense of metaphysics as knowledge or study of being. (4) The present metaphysics tends to diminish the primality if not significance of the more recent activities but of course not to negate them carte blanch. Such activities are useful in themselves and in the development of the metaphysics of this narrative.
The method (of the metaphysics) will be seen empirical in a sense and manner that has already begun to emerge. As we saw, being and experience are already given in experience. This does not involve speculation.
However, as we will see, the method that has begun to emerge here applies only where the objects (elements and method) are given in experience—i.e. where the elements and method are so basic that, as in the present metaphysics, the experience is manifestly perfect in being faithful.
Comment. Catalog criticisms of validity and significance of metaphysics and specific styles and systems.
Much traditional metaphysics arose as speculative knowledge of being. In early western thought metaphysics was frankly speculative. Modern systems, especially the idealist ones of Hegel and others, are also speculative but have been presented as necessary. These systems have often gone far beyond science in their claims.
This is the source of the main criticisms of metaphysics in the modern era, especially since Kant.
The main historical criticisms concern validity and value.
The concern with validity is that the metaphysical systems have incomplete base in and speculative going beyond experience. But what is validity? This must of course depend on what we understand by metaphysics. As knowledge of being, validity is faithfulness. But if metaphysics goes beyond the domain of imprecise empirical science, perhaps we should expect perfect faithfulness. The concern with value is that while the speculative systems are overweening—they make grand claims but show nothing and therefore their value is less than nothing for they are misleading as to the nature of the world and our place in it.
Another concern is whether ‘knowledge of being’ should be considered metaphysics; we saw above that even in light of new activity there is no reason to not consider it definitive.
Other concerns are whether imprecise knowledge should be admitted as metaphysics, and whether science is metaphysics.
If a speculative system is presented as necessary it is immediately open to criticism.
However, we need not regard the speculative systems as necessary. One value of metaphysics, then, is that they have provided suggestive material for scientific advance. An example is the atomism of Democritus. Further, given that science is far from complete speculation may continue to contribute to science. Generally, if we regard ourselves and our institutions as being in process, metaphysics may shed light on ourselves and our universe even when validity is not guaranteed.
Do the speculative systems have no value beyond suggestion? There are excellent examples of careful metaphysics such as Space, Time, and Deity (1929) of Samuel Alexander and Process and Reality (1929) of A.N. Whitehead; this is not an endorsement of conclusions but of suggestive power and of careful approach. The value is that once made, speculation and its approach may be improved upon.
The general criticisms of metaphysics have been addressed above. We have not argued that the criticisms have no validity. What we have shown is that while the criticisms are characteristically valid for some systems—for certain styles of metaphysical thought—the criticism does not necessarily extend to all metaphysics. The use of the criticisms, then, is that they show the potential pitfalls of metaphysics. It is a testament to the power of criticism that while my main intention in addressing the criticisms was to show the metaphysics of this narrative valid, a ‘side’ effect was to help enhance the power and scope of the metaphysics.
It is important to add that we already and obviously have valid (perfectly faithful) metaphysical knowledge of being and experience. The questions of value are whether this knowledge is non trivial and whether it can be the basis of comprehensive knowledge. As noted above the answer is that it is the basis of a metaphysical system of ultimate breadth and depth. Further this system and the practical systems of science and everyday experience complement one another; the metaphysics shows possibility and combines with the practical in showing some means of realization.
Thus the metaphysics of the present narrative is valid (perfectly faithful) and immensely significant.
I now address the concern whether imprecise knowledge should be admitted as metaphysics.
There is no general reason to not admit imprecise knowledge provided we do not confuse it with precise knowledge. Similarly, there is no reason to not admit science as metaphysics (but for convention and the distaste that some thinkers and many scientists will have at this thought).
It is interesting that we will find that the metaphysics enables perfect (precise) answers to a number of very general questions concerning the nature of the universe—creation, the status of mind and matter, the extent and variety of being, the nature of space and time and others. At the same time there are questions of variety of being and experience that must remain ever open and that can only considered closed when continued in process and in action.
That metaphysics is significant in its older interpretation is now clear.
The main significance is that it gives us necessary knowledge of the depth and variety of being. As seen the metaphysics of the narrative will combine with science and common experience in showing what may be achieved and in beginning to show how it may be achieved.
The system gives us a road map of being. Today the main to scientific cosmology are the religious ones; the religious cosmologies, however, vary widely in the pictures revealed—some are clearly stories, others are speculatively metaphysical in nature; the metaphysics of this narrative sheds light, not only on these, but on the universe as a whole.
Now when we undertake to create a new system of ideas or knowledge we can give some rough estimates of what it might do for us but we cannot generally say what the entire product might be. In attempting to explain the quantum nature of electron orbits in atoms, Heisenberg arrived at a system whose scope far exceeded its original purpose.
The thoughts above are an outline of some contributions that a metaphysics might make.
There is no guarantee that an attempt to arrive at a metaphysics will in fact make such contribution; there is a ‘risk’ in any such endeavor.
Herein lies the risk of not taking risk—i.e. of those kinds of positivism that attach significance only to observation and regard models as nothing more than interpolations over data.
Logical empiricism was an earnest twentieth century attempt to found knowledge in sense experience or data and logic. Only such knowledge would be scientific; other knowledge claims were, at best, metaphysics in an at least somewhat pejorative sense—it did not have the certainty of science. Logical positivism went further asserting that other knowledge claims did not even have meaning. Logical empiricism and therefore logical positivism are regarded as failed because it was not able to rid science of hypotheses. Science was itself metaphysical according to logical empiricism.
However, I am not primarily talking of philosophical positions. Rather I talk of informal attitudes that are informed by positivism and regard ‘only the mathematics’ or ‘only science so far’ as real. For some scientists and philosophers positivism lives on in this informal sense.
The harm of certain informal positivist attitudes is that in a search for security they avoid the fact that risk (entertaining hypotheses) is essential.
It remains quite easy to fall into an informal positivist mode that does not reveal itself but affects our thought. This is not the result of perversion of thought but of a definite need to balance and integrate progress with care.
Thus a multi-pronged case has been made—in terms of validity and value—for openness beyond the borders of science in terms of method (the hypothetico-deductive approach) and content. That is, as we are seeing here, the hypothesis and test approach of science is not the only way to knowledge. However, as we will see, the method that has begun to emerge here applies only where the objects (elements and method) are given in experience—i.e. where the elements and method are so basic that, as in the present metaphysics, the experience is manifestly perfect in being faithful. This case, already begun, will be solidified and the ‘beyond’ regarding content will be shown to be limitless in what follows. But we have also seen that science and metaphysics lie on a continuum. This will permit an integration of practical knowledge (science and common experience) and metaphysics as a powerful instrument of understanding and realization.
Two approaches to presentation of the metaphysics of the narrative already noted are (1) to develop the essentials of the metaphysics and then draw conclusions and (2) to draw conclusions as each concept is introduced. The former is emphasized in the narrative for its efficiency; the latter would be effective in showing the dependencies of the conclusions on the concepts. Because of its effectiveness I have given some examples of the second approach in f foundation and this division so far (but most of the discussion is definition, explanation, and elaboration).
Since the next section introduces and demonstrates the main assertion of the metaphysics it will be useful to summarize some main conclusions that do not depend on that assertion. One good reason for this is that even though it is reasonable, demonstrated, and free of paradox or contraction the main assertion is significant and as significant it is open to some doubt as are all significant propositions.
There is being. The givenness of being does not imply that there must be being; the givenness has a datum the givenness of experience. The power of the concept of being includes that it neither asserts nor denies the significance of intuition and substance.
There is experience. There is a real world which contains experience and which is at least partially and approximately known in experience (the fact that there is a real world is perfectly known). Experience and being are interwoven but the ‘being of being’ is not dependent on being experienced. Experience which is relationship is our grounding in the world. There is no significance to being that never has an effect on experience (being experience counts as having an effect).
We experience the world in terms that include form and change. It seems that these are essential to being. However it is not clear, even if there is being, that contains or is framed in terms of form (or space) and change (or time).
A concept is mental content and includes percepts and higher concepts. We use ‘concept’ primarily in the sense of ‘referential concept’, i.e. a concept that purports to refer to an object. The concept of concept and linguistic meaning is crucial to clear understanding of concepts and to avoidance of paradoxes that arise due to the idea of language and concepts as having meaning even when unmoored from objects. Concepts have being but this is not the same as saying that the purported reference of a concept has being. If a referential concept indeed refers—perfectly or not—then there is a corresponding object with being (or which knowledge is perfect or not depending on the perfection of reference).
Analysis of meaning yields more than clarity; it reveals as explicit knowledge that is already implicit. Analysis of meaning alone cannot reveal knowledge that is not even implicit. However, analysis and synthesis of meaning covers the entire knowledge process.
Knowledge occurs as facts and patterns. What we call facts may be patterns but we perceive or otherwise regard them as non compound. Patterns may be treated as facts. The laws of nature are our reading of patterns (usually comprehensive patterns). We use the term ‘law’ also to refer to the immanent pattern. Facts, patterns, and laws have being. A science is a system of empirical facts and laws that pertain to the known cosmos (more generally to domain not known to be all being). The truths of logic are those that are true in all possible worlds. Thus there is a unity among science and logic. There is further unity in that the logic-deduction versus science-induction is inappropriate for it compares derivation under logic with derivation of science. The appropriate comparisons are derivation of a system of logic with derivation of a science (both inductive) and derivation under logic with derivation under science (both deductive).
The universe is all being. The universe has no creator (it has no external creator because nothing is external to it; it does not self-create because right at the ‘beginning’ there is no self or cause; a manifest cosmos may emerge from the void but this is simple emergence without cause as we understand it or creation as causation). One part of the universe may create another (but the most natural origin of a part or whole of manifestation seems to be increment by variation and selection or simple perpetuation of what is self-adapted or relatively stable).
Now we know that we cannot conclude that the universe must have manifest form or that there must be space and time (or space-time). We have definite experience of being from which we conclude that the universe has manifest form; the form of our experience (Kant called it ‘intuition’) includes (the Kantian categories of) space and time from which we conclude that space and time are practical measures of description (Kant concluded more but we now know that his conclusion was faulty for he based it on assumed necessity of Euclidean Geometry and Newtonian Mechanics). Surely, to be manifest, the universe must have extensivity (measures such as space and time) but we have thus far seen no necessary reason that the universe must be manifest or that if it is manifest then space and time must be measures or the only measures (form seems necessary to manifestation and form and change seem to expedite explanation of one another but the argument is not necessary). Let us see what we can conclude about space and time if they are given. Are they a grid that is independent of being? First, there could be no significance to their extension ‘outside’ the universe. To extend outside, therefore, they would have to have being but then they would be part of the universe and not (truly) outside. What would it mean that they are a grid within the universe but are not being itself? They would have an effect but not be being. But being is that which is, therefore they have and are (part of) being. In other words, the careful conception of being and universe leads to the conclusion that where space and time exist they are ‘relative’ i.e. immanent in and part of being and not absolute or standing outside and forming an affecting but unaffected grid.
It is interesting to speculate what might obtain if we admitted parts of the possible but so far unknown into the real. What definition of possibility shall we use? If we are interested in science we might use the notion of physical possibility but generalize it to other (reasonable) laws. We might consider different forms of life or of mind. Here we are primarily interested in metaphysics. This does not mean we are not interested in physics, life, or mind. However, metaphysics frames all less general forms. Therefore our interest in metaphysics is both intrinsic and derivative. Further it will be immensely potent to our understanding of the less general forms.
Metaphysical possibility must concern the most general—i.e. the most liberal concept of possibility. We have seen that this is logical possibility (but we cannot regard logic as given—the received logics are but examples and perhaps primitive if important examples; and this point of view would change not only the range of logic but the notion of logic and our understanding of how we arrive at logics).
Now what is the range of metaphysical possibility as logical possibility. It must be vast—limitless: all possibilities are to be admitted.
It would be an interesting exercise to make the following hypothesis: metaphysical possibility as conceived above is reality. The universe would be limitless—all logical possibilities (facts, patterns, kinds of being) would be realized. We could then study the implications of the hypothesis which would be nothing other than the study of possibility.
However, this is unnecessary for we are about to demonstrate the above ‘hypothesis’. We do not need to engage in the study of fantasy or fiction for the study of the real certainly no less but is in fact more in so far as our imagination is limited in its ability or its energy. What we might have thought to study as hypothetical and possibly useful we now study as real and significant.
Comment. A temporary section.
The universe has no limit to being and identity. If power is a measure of what is realized, there is no limit to the power of being—of the universe.
That is, the single constraint on realization of concepts is realism—over all extensivity (e.g. duration and spatial extension) the actual and the possible are identical. Our best and approximate direct knowledge of realism is in logic and the science (data and laws) of our cosmos.
I.e., the universe has identity and manifestation in acute, diffuse, and absent phases; there is no limit on the variety, peaks and their magnitudes and dissolution (e.g., of cosmological systems), and extensivity of being. Peaks are transient but peaking and self are eternal (more generally limitless in kind, quality and extensivity).
This power is conferred on individuals—the contrary would be a limit on being. Realization of the ultimate is given; individuals participate in self as universal identity. While in limited form realization is an endless journey in being.
From the void state, non-emergence of any manifest state is a law; therefore all possible states emerge from the void. But this meaning of ‘possible’ is not just some actual states as implied in the use above; it must now mean, not just what is, but what could be; figuratively, whereas the meaning of possible may have demoted it to the actual, we now see that the actual is promoted to the possible. But the void is present with all being and every particle of being; it is demonstrated therefore that the universe realizes all possibilities. Now, as revealed in what follows, the ultimate power of being and reason is revealed.
Already there is immediately above a solution to what has been called the fundamental problem of metaphysics—why is there something rather than rather than nothing—i.e., why is there being at all?
The universal metaphysics—‘the metaphysics’—is the metaphysics that flows from the conclusion that the universe realizes all possible states. This and its equivalent italicized forms that follow are called the fundamental principle of metaphysics (FP). That is: given realism (Logic) the entire system of concepts is realized. This Logic, however, is—can only be—approximated in range and precision by our sciences and logics: while we have good initial foothold on it, the system of Logic is immensely open to discovery: we understand its depth or concept but its variety is open. Again, fact and logic are the only constraints on concepts in order to have reference (this is not a limit on the universe but the constraint on the useful freedom of concept formation that permits violation of realism—i.e., of fact or logic). Thus further forms of the principle are the universe has no limits and the one universe is the greatest possible.
The above italicized forms constitute explicit meaning of the metaphysics. Equivalent forms are: The universe which is all being contains all natural law, and The void which is the absence of being exists and contains no natural law.
And while the foundation of being is ever closed by the metaphysics, the same metaphysics guarantees that variety is ever open.
This explicit meaning begins to show the significance of the metaphysics.
The significance of the metaphysics is further revealed in the discussions ‘Existential stance” and ‘Is the metaphysics science?’ above.
A proof of the fundamental principle was given in the universe realizes all possibilities. Doubt is taken up below but it is crucial to note that the principle contradicts no part of what is valid in our knowledge including logic and science. Proof is important because of significance of the principle and so I have considered supporting heuristic arguments—e.g., the one in the earlier section on proof. Doubt remains and is taken up in the section crucial doubt which, though it means the proof is not absolutely certain, is seen in the section existential stance to be ‘existentially positive’.
In the earlier section , we saw that proof in significant situations increases our confidence but is (generally) not certain. Up to the point of proof of the fundamental principle the metaphysics is certain but after that point we entertain some doubt (though not concern about consistency). That is, the greater significance comes with doubt. We have found no reason to change this attitude to the certainty of our conclusions.
It will be useful to discuss the role and nature of proof.
What is proof? The fundamental idea is to have confidence knowledge claims that is based in examination of the claims (which excludes other sources of confidence such as ad hominem arguments even when they have some weight). A single fact may be verified by examination. Thus a 3, 4, 5 triangle is a right triangle that exemplifies Pythagoras’ Theorem; and the time taken for a lead weight from a height of 16 ft can be verified by experiment to be about 1 second. But there are more efficient approaches—deduction in light of the axioms of Euclidean Geometry in one case and in light of Newtonian Mechanics in the second. Proof is now analyzed in terms (a) of the nature of the deduction and (b) the basis of the axioms of geometry in the first case and the basis of mechanics in the second.
Here we see a greater parallel between mathematics and natural science than the traditional recognition of mathematics as deductive and science as inductive. In both cases derivation or inference under the system is deductive. In both cases arriving at the system is ‘inductive’. It is important that while we can increase confidence in induction and while there are particular cases (elementary finitary mathematics, elementary metaphysics) where achieve certainty there is no absolute certainty in general.
We have not discussed the nature of deduction in this section so far. However, the status of logic relative to certainty is similar to that of mathematics and metaphysics: there are elementary though important cases of certainty but certainty is not to be had in general.
The universal metaphysics complicates this discussion for it questions as well as illuminates the meaning of the terms ‘logic’ and ‘science’. However, it does not alter our perspective on proof and confidence even though it shifts the points of focus.
For the significant propositions about the world, it remains true that the function of proof is to increase confidence.
It is remarkable that the whole discussion so far concerns those aspects of reality about which we can be sufficiently discriminating to have analytic symbolic representation. Is this possible in general? Even without the revelations of the universal metaphysics we cannot say this is an achievable goal even though some of our scientific theories suggest it might be but only if the entire universe falls under them (which seems to be the case only in the circular vision in which the scientific theories are taken to more or less define the universe).
What do we do when we live in a world that is not discrete in the above sense, e.g. in the agricultural-industrial world where we are interested significantly in manipulable elements of the environment susceptible to discrete representation? In such worlds we resort to a system of story, fact, and generalization. We have done no better (in those worlds). But the divide between the worlds is porous; we are still in that world—the manipulated world shows vast signs of being incompletely manipulable even though we have grown a vision in which we do not see this.
Now in the universal, and in our limited form we cannot hope for more—a mix of literal and mythic symbol. The universal metaphysics is perhaps our greatest system of symbol (in the sense of breadth of scope). Within that breadth there is room and necessity the literal and the mythic. We now see that the essential meaning of the literal must be nothing more than a one to one correspondence between symbols and things.
Thus the meaning of proof includes the power of myth but, given the analysis into myth and symbol, this does not detract from the significance of proof in the symbolic case provided we do not overstate the significance.
From the previous paragraph many proofs from FP are trivial—most proofs here are of this type and where this is the case the results are stated without comment on proof; while immensely many shall range from difficult to impossible for a given limited form (intelligence). In both cases interpretation will be important. Already, we see that the proof of FP is trivial but its interpretation is not easy.
Is the universal metaphysics certain?
A number of doubts may have occurred to readers and of these many have been addressed, some explicitly. An example of this is the solipsist doubt regarding the existence of the real (external) world. Above we showed the ‘reality’ of the real world. The solipsist doubt is not a serious doubt in itself but consideration helps clarification of the nature of experience, especially to show that as being it is as robust as anything else—this is not an assertion that the content of experience is always reliable. The reliability of experience is a pertinent and important doubt and this has been addressed above and in what follows (it is found that some experience is perfectly reliable, some is but practical and this combination is perfect in a sense specified in the discussion of epistemology). We have removed certain traditional and not unreasonable doubts regarding the possibility and significance of metaphysics. Some doubts have been implicitly addressed. For example, the reader may question my definitions—being is that which is, the universe is all being and so on. How can I say that these are the proper conceptions? I do not say that. I say that they are valid conceptions, that other conceptions are not invalid, but these are the ones I use. It is a case of one sign, many referents. Another doubt is the problem of the non-existent object whose resolution followed trivially from the conception of meaning of the narrative.
But there is a crucial doubt regarding the proof of the fundamental principle (FP). The critical point is that of the existence of the void. I could have written the proof ‘If the universe is in a void state all states would emerge but when the universe is not in a void state the void is ever present with every particle of being and so the consequence follows.’ That would have suppressed but not eliminated the doubt; it would have made the argument perhaps more secure but not perfectly secure. Alternate arguments may be given but doubt remains. How can I address this doubt? Note that the proof and the consequence entail no internal or external consistency or absurdity. There may be a sense of the absurd but this has been resolved. Remember that the essence of the metaphysics is a response to the question ‘What would the universe be like if logic were the only constraint on what is true of it?’ Note also that the arguments are strong.
What I can say is that there is no significant proposition that is above al doubt and this applies even in large areas of logic and mathematics. Doubt is the price we pay for significance: the return is the potential outcome. And in the present case the potential outcome is immense. When we weigh the likelihood of success under the metaphysics versus the cost, the doubt is but an extra cost. But doubt is good in that certainty is stultifying. Of course the metaphysics gives no certainty of realization of possibility while our form is limited. Thus doubt adds to the challenge. The doubt may be seen as adding to the existential character of our stance in relation to being. Here of course the argument is personal (but not ‘subjective’).
We can take the attitude that either the universe does or does not realize all possibilities. There is no inconsistency with either position.
We have given an excellent argument that all possibilities are realized. Can we estimate probabilities? We cannot, for that would require specification of some space of states which is not available. However realization of all possibilities has symmetry; it is aesthetic. We usually apply Ockham’s Razor to what is in the universe. That is rather a violation of the principle for why should we apply it only to what there is? If we apply the principle to the question what is not in the universe the answer is ‘nothing’.
However, if we are not persuaded by the arguments there is still much value in considering realization of all possibilities as a principle of action. Even if regard the likelihood as low the value is so great that optimizing resource use suggests allocation of some resources to this principle of action. Further, as noted, such action opens up our existential stance to challenge, risk, possibility… an aesthetic attitude to being.
We see that doubt is clarifying. Where doubt is resolved it clarifies understanding. Where it is not resolved, especially after effort, it clarifies options and what stance we may take.
Thus doubt is important. It is not at all the same as ‘neurotic worry’ even though it may first present as fear or worry. It is essential to being. We live in doubt and confidence.
Therefore essential doubt is especially important. However, contrived doubt is also clarifying.
Is the universal metaphysics science? I emphasize that in this question my concern is not with other activities that are or have been called metaphysics. Here, in referring to our modern sciences, I have primarily though not only physics and physical cosmology in mind because they come closer than the other sciences to being a ‘science of the universe’. The question I just asked then ‘is the metaphysics science or a science in the way that our modern sciences are scientific?’ I prefer to make a case rather than a claim and the case must, it will be seen, be more than a simple affirmation or denial of the scientific character; the important question is whether metaphysics is valid and significant and what is the relation between its validity and significance and other disciplines. The metaphysics is an experiential construction on experience (concepts on facts). In this it is like science. But prediction is far removed from being tested directly (we may consider the closeness to some features of physical and life science discussed below to be confirmatory but they are not tests). In this it is unlike science. On the other hand its proof from experience is more secure than the hypotheses of science—and in this it is unlike but more secure than science. How is this greater security for metaphysics possible? It results from a another difference between the metaphysics of the narrative and science—the latter is practical, must be detailed, and must tolerate imprecision and incompleteness (in terms of knowledge of all being). On the other hand the metaphysics concerns generalities and it is by focusing on the most general features of being (being itself, experience itself, all being, and absence of being) that it is able to be perfectly faithful. So, it does not really matter whether the metaphysics is science. There are similarities and differences. But that does not imply that either the metaphysics or science are absurd, paradoxical, or insecure. Further the generality of the metaphysics—its non-particularity—does mean that it is not useful. It is useful (1) in what it reveals about the nature of being and the universe—especially what it is possible to and given that we will realize and (2) it combines with science (and logic) in a way in which science—and technology and other aspects of culture—are practical instruments of local knowledge and instrumental realization and, further, in which the metaphysics reveals the nature of science and the beauty of its approximations and also shows regions where the sciences are andor may be exact (such regions concern general features such as the nature of mind and the nature of space and time). Therefore this is true: science and logic unite in the metaphysics. And there is a clear sense in which the metaphysics is the boundary of all science. This is true because all predictions of science are predictions of the metaphysics and also in that it is the logical side of the metaphysics that is more significant and this side is what must be true in all possible cosmoses or worlds.
What we show here is that there is metaphysical knowledge that follows from or in experience; that it is demonstrated and therefore not speculative even in the sense that the hypotheses of science are speculative; and that the metaphysical system emerges from experience and is not imposed—i.e., what system there is may be called ‘natural’; and that the system that emerges here is immensely powerful. This addresses the issues of experience and system; and since the metaphysics and its system are thus valid, so whatever its status the adjective ‘overweening’ does not apply. I have addressed the question of validity (the details continue in what follows) but it may also be asked whether metaphysics is significant and whether the metaphysics of this piece is significant. The very power of the system will speak to its significance; the development will show deep significance to the present metaphysics.
In this section I want to talk about a central consequence of the universal metaphysics for ethics.
Roughly, ethics concerns conduct—e.g., given a situation what should we do. The word ethics often evokes moral contexts—e.g. should I lie if it makes my friends life better. However, ‘situation’ may be interpreted broadly. The most general context concerns the action of individuals and civilization in relation to the open ended future. In this context the distinctions between ends and means, between norms and principles, and between action and virtue is blurred. Philosophical ethics is vast but against the broad open future much detail becomes incalculable and to that extent loses relevance.
The concern of moral behavior in this broadest frame is then a context free ‘what should we do’ and its special cases such as ‘what should I do’ and ‘what should nations do’.
It is best of course to give a broad answer that may frame specific choices and actions.
The calculus of local ethics (our world) cannot be that of philosophical ethics; the institutions of ethics are ‘players’. It must be multi-dimensional (the range of issues and opportunities), transactional (consensus base is a special case) and experimental; it will of course be informed by our various cultural and individual senses of value; and it may be informed by philosophical ethics (normative ethics and meta-ethics). There is a vast source of information in the literatures and institutions of the world. Here there is neither need nor present motive to nor personal familiarity to permit a detailed discussion of this system.
My interest in this section is to provide what is perhaps the broadest of answers and implications of the universal metaphysics for this answer.
Think of the world as the present and the future. What we should do is then a balance between these two aspects of the world. We would balance living well in the present with forging a future—to the extent possible—in which we will also be able to live well. But with our view on present and future, what is living well? Now if we look at the past we may find that we appreciate the efforts of previous generations in making the world better ‘for us’. We then find that what we should do is a balance between living well and making the world a better place. When this continues without end the limit is the world that is in some sense ‘best’.
The universal metaphysics has the following consequences for this aim of improvement. First, it immensely widens its scope—the range of the possible. However, second—as we will see—there will be peaks of achievement followed by dissolutions; but these will be followed by further peaks of which some will be lesser and some greater. That is, the aim is the highest or best and while this is given the process is not linear—the path is not direct.
The metaphysics is expressed in more complete form in chapter objects, the general features of the universe shown in cosmology (physical cosmology is deferred to a later chapter), and the nature of stable domains or cosmological systems with symmetries that suggest incremental and adaptive-selective origins is the subject of the chapter on normal worlds (the term ‘suggests’ is used because such origins are probably most common by far; however the metaphysics shows that single step origin must also occur). The nature of realism (Logic) was addressed in the universal metaphysics; it is convenient to revisit realism in a chapter on realism, just after the discussion of object.
Some metaphysical systems of the past develop further topics according to some system—e.g. as higher order being emerging from lower order by some mechanism of emergence (‘organization’, ‘evolution’ and so on). A typical order for the remaining chapters might be epistemology (some principles would already have been established but since metaphysics has implications for epistemology this would be a good place for general treatment of epistemology), physical cosmology, life, mind, society and civilization.
The order here is different. It is not based in ‘emergence’ or ‘degree of organization or complexity’. It may be different because the metaphysics neither imposes nor requires this kind of ‘logic’ to the emergence of ‘orders’ of being (the different orders are practically but not fundamentally distinct). As objects the different orders may but need not have the relations seen in different metaphysical systems—materialist-scientific and other (the meaning and significance of this assertion will become clearer in what follows). That the chapter order is unusual emphasizes the decoupling of what we normally think as essentially coupled. The actual order and its reasons are explained in the paragraphs that conclude this section.
The discussion begins with mind because of its importance and because it can be treated at a high level of generality (and is independent of the discussions life and physical cosmology). Mind could have been treated before objects but the present sequence completes the general aspects of metaphysics before special ones. This is followed by society and civilization which enhance or multiply the power of individual minds in realization. The discussion of life does not depend on but is suggestive of mechanisms of origin of local cosmology and so the next two chapters—life and physical cosmology respectively.—are in an order that is the reverse of what might expect on systematic metaphysics based in observation of ‘level of organization’ or ‘emergence’ (here we see that there is no necessity to such system even though it is reasonable in the context of our cosmos).
These discussions are followed by a chapter on epistemology, which, as noted above, could have been placed earlier. However its present placement provides a convenient summary of the method that encompasses metaphysics and science and that has been illustrated in principle and in examples.
The final chapter of the division on metaphysics is knowledge for a normal world. The aim of this chapter is to see how the developments (objects, logic, cosmology, mind, life, and epistemology itself) might be developed in light of but without presuming the universal metaphysics. Another way of saying this is that we may learn much about the form and content of our knowledge from the vantage point of possible worlds. However, regardless of the status of the universal metaphysics, the latter vantage point is available. Therefore the developments of knowledge for a normal world hold regardless of the status of the universal metaphysics.
The universal metaphysics has a number of linked elements centered on the concept of being. However we saw above, and it will be further confirmed in what follows, that the subsequent developments are significantly independent. Yet the ‘independent’ objects may interact.
We may express this as follows. The ‘logic’ of the metaphysics permits relatively independent objects but no independence at root.
What is a ‘thing’ and what kinds of thing are there? This may be treated as the question of objects. Except that a concept should not lack realism it is realized. This makes objects and understanding objects trivial from a universal point of view (though not trivial locally—but see the discussion on epistemology below). Here we speak in the universal. If a concept does not violate realism (‘science’, valid experience, and ‘logic’) it has actual reference.
Thus continuous entities, discrete systems of entities, processes, interactions, tropes, the color red of a red ball are all concrete objects. Similarly, number, universals, and values are objects but since not concrete we think of them as abstract; but we have not yet said precisely what that means. We now proceed to do so.
Commonly the abstract objects are thought to not reside in space or time, said to be not causal, are not locatable and so it is asked—what and where are they?
Perhaps they are ‘mental objects’, perhaps they reside in some ideal (Platonic) world. But now we see there is one universe, no Platonic world. But the abstract objects are guaranteed reality so the spurious ‘mental object’ explanation is also unnecessary (incidentally mental objects exist as mental objects, e.g. ideas, concepts, and feelings but they are not proxies for abstract objects; and even if we allowed proxies the mental object proxy would be a poor one).
The objection above is to a mental object as abstract object but not to mental objects as such. An experience may be regarded as an object but it is not abstract. Further experiences must reside in the one universe and if they occur in regions whose character is that of space and time then experiences reside essentially in space and time even if or though we do not experience them as spatiotemporal.
We now know that the abstract objects exist but have yet to reason out where they are. Since they are objects they must be in the one universe. They must be in space and time and causality insofar as the universe has these. This can be squared with the apparent non spatiality and non causality of number by observing that a concept can have spatiality etc. not in it inherently or have it removed from it by derivation from a less abstract concept. That is, abstract objects are not inherently abstract but have had only their abstract features retained in abstraction.
The significance of the metaphysics continues to emerge—it empowers perfect understanding of objects (in the universal).
For example, consider number. What is the number two? How can I say it is somewhere? But if it is not an illogical concept then the metaphysics guarantees that it refers to something in the universe. What? We can define it to be the collection of all collections of two objects—Peano and Russell did something like this (a collection of zero objects would be defined as a collection of no objects, a collection of n+1 objects as a collection of n objects and one object). Where is that collection? It is everywhere and nowhere in particular, it is at any time and at all times; thus though nominally spatiotemporal it is effectively not so.
Thus there is no essential distinction between concrete and abstract objects. The apparent distinction concerns what we focus on—whether we focus on all or some sensible aspects and whether we focus on what present as single entities or on collections and so on.
As in the case of number, our concept of an object may vary over history being now treated as concrete, now as abstract, now as mixed.
Thus we have unified knowledge of objects—the distinction between the concrete and the abstract is practical but not fundamental. Incidentally this implies that identity in its conceptual sense is just an object even while the detailed questions of identity of things and persons may remain difficult. Incidentally this implies that form and substance can be considered objects except that as eternal they would violate FP and so form and substance may be locally useful concepts but universally impossible. Incidentally this means that concrete objects are as abstract as abstract objects are concrete.
We have seen that there is one universe.
However we now see that there is but one kind of universe—the universe of being—not two or three (such as physical, mental, and logos) or more such as multiple universes invented or hypothesized to give consistency or realism to quantum theory (the one universe can of course have multiple ‘branches’).
The metaphysics shows that there is can be but one kind of object, one dynamic universe (all objects interact) and one kind of universe.
We may take any reasonable approach to defining morality, civil right, and value. For each it is given from the metaphysics that there is an object.
The objects may be named ethics, justice, and value. We could capitalize the terms ‘Ethics’, ‘Justice’, and ‘Aesthetics’ (Value).
However, the metaphysics requires these objects to interact. Therein lies a solution of the conflict among ‘reified’ values.
The fundamental principle of metaphysics may now be understood in terms of objects. We have already noted the form: subject to realism the entire system of concepts is realized. What our unified system of concrete and abstract objects shows is already implicit in this form. However, it is now explicitly seen that the realization of concepts that define ‘abstract’ objects is as real as the realization of those that define ‘concrete’ objects—i.e., whereas we have thought of the abstract and the concrete as fundamentally different in some imperfectly understood ways, we now see that the distinction is not fundamental.
From the universal metaphysics the fundamental principle of metaphysics is that ‘given realism (Logic) the entire system of concepts is realized’.
Realism includes facts, patterns (in experience, science), and the truths of what is today called logic (including the standard systems of logic such as the propositional and first order logics). We repeat the distinction between facts, science, and logic. They all have interpretation in terms of meaning—i.e., concept and object (sense and reference). The study of science is the study of patterns (the law for the black body spectrum, the motion of the solar system, and the possibilities under the equations of general relativity are patterns; in our cosmos only one global pattern or solution under the latter obtains but we may restrict considerations to parts of the cosmos such as black holes and so study the cosmos in terms of more than one solution to the equations). A fact is so simple that it has no details—there are no constituent percepts (which may be because we see or because we choose a description in which there are none). What we call logic is what obtains for any world—any and every fact or pattern within the universe.
Under the universal metaphysics I can make a statement ‘there are limitlessly many systems that are identical to our cosmos’ (or similar statements with ‘New York’, or ‘The Queen of England’ substituted for ‘our cosmos’). But the statement of the fundamental principle referred to ‘the entire system of concepts’.
If we collect all particular statements (e.g. ‘there are limitlessly many systems…’ and all imaginable but reasonable variations) then will not the collection have contradictions? Undoubtedly yes but this is why the form of the statement of the fundamental principle referred to ‘the entire system of concepts’—contradiction is implicitly avoided.
What, explicitly, is the ‘entire system of concepts’? We expect that it includes limitlessness except where our representations (concepts) of the universe harbor factual, scientific, or logical difficulty.
The problem of realism of this section, then, is working out the ‘entire system of concepts’. While it allows much, the problem is to find precisely what is and what is not allowed. This problem is almost certainly harbors immense richness and immense challenge.
What is there in the universe (the ‘what’ of this question concerns not only entities but also processes, interactions, distributions for we have seen that these are all objects)? This is the question of cosmology.
From the universal metaphysics sets must be in the universe. In terms of meaning—concept and object—the phrase in italics may be written: all and only those specifications of sets that have objects are—to be admitted as—sets.
The question of what sets there are is a question of realism. In other words it is a question of fact-science-logic. Since we do not have access to ‘the universe of facts and sciences’ our practical means to deal with the problems of what are, of what are not, and of their explanation and understanding must be experiments with concepts which includes our logics.
What is there in the universe? This is the question of cosmology.
The ‘what’ of this question concerns not only entities but also processes, interactions, distributions—all objects. Typically it concerns concrete objects and today concrete is often taken to mean ‘physical’ or ‘material’. Here do not exclude even the abstract but emphasize the concrete for the abstract have been treated in objects.
The cosmology of this section will be ‘general’. Physical cosmology is considered later. The distinction is somewhat arbitrary: general cosmology emphasizes general features of the universe; physical cosmology concerns physical features of our cosmos.
From FP, cosmology—the universe—limitless: physical law and cosmoses abound without limit against a void, diffuse, and transient background; being is without limit on variety and extensivity (time and space-like). Cosmological systems must and do—occasionally—interact. One cosmos may create another (a more ‘natural’ mechanism is discussed in normal worlds).
But what is the nature of space and time?
The universe contains all being. There is nothing outside the universe. Therefore, whatever space and time there is must be immanent: from the point of view of the universe there can be no absolute space and time; however it is open that one part of the universe may set up an at least as-if space time grid for another—it is commonly thought that our cosmos as a whole may do so for its parts. But what are space and time? Reflection suggests that in the absence of substantial objects there can be no space and time; and in the absence of perception of substantial objects there can be no perception of space and time. Identity is therefore the likely key to space and time. We saw that identity is an object. Clearly there is no object without difference (and no perception of objects without perception of difference); also there is no difference without sameness but sameness and difference are not logically distinct notions.
We can now see that duration or time would be change or difference associated with the same identity; while extension or space would be marked by different identities. We can generalize the notion of extensivity to include both duration and extension. Perhaps there are other variables of extensivity; however, that they measure change in identity versus different identity suggests that there are no other such variables. Thus the notion of identity explains not only the nature of space and time (extension and duration) but why the only extensive variables are space and time (this does not imply that a region of being can have only one measure of time or that space must have a particular or fixed number of dimensions or dimensionality at all). Where there is difficulty in marking identity—e.g., as in communication by only finite signal speeds in non rigid systems (and it is difficult to see how rigidity can occur where the only manifestation is of being itself) differentiation between changing versus different identity might lack significance; thus the ‘system relative characters of space and time’. Where identity is diffuse, space and time may be diffuse. In the near void background space and time may be nebulous; in the void there is no such thing—no difference between an instant and an eternity, no difference between a zero and a limitless distance. As space and time are but immanent self-markers of identity and not laid out grids, so their measures are generally not independent and, so, they warp with being.
Motion is change in spatial relations among objects (and within an object when the object may be regarded as a collection of smaller objects).
Other changes in time are changes in properties.
The necessity of being was established in the foundation division; but this was established relative to our being and not absolutely. Must there be being?
From the universal metaphysics being (objects) must emerge from absence of being. I.e., there must be being.
Must there be space and time? Perhaps there is no space and time in undifferentiated near void states. However the universal metaphysics requires the being of objects (therefore there must be space) which cannot be eternal (therefore there must be time).
Thus being, space, and time are necessary. However, they are and cannot be universal.
There is no element of being that is non-interactive with any other element: the oneness of the universe is not that of a mere definition.
The universe has identity (self) and manifestation in acute, diffuse, and absent phases. It confers this power on individuals (that two individuals have ultimate power is not a contradiction because in becoming ultimate they become the universe). In this process individual and universe see limitless variety, peak and dissolution of limitless magnitude, and acute phases of all being and moment in an instant; the peaks however cannot be eternal.
There is continuity through the dissolutions—‘soul’.
The history of all individuals is an endless journey in being that remains ever fresh. Cosmology constitutes implicit meaning of the metaphysics. Significant meaning lies in the endless journey, the variety that includes the present, and not in foundations.
The endeavor has obvious relations to science and religion but is neither. Science is a method—an approach—and an in process body of knowledge. The endeavor may use science but religion with its dogma seems to be at least diversionary. However, we should ask what religion is.
The ideals of religion include integration of immediate and ultimate; a stand against stagnant order of cosmology and morals; to find what approximate ultimates in this life that we may.
Religions decay and become corrupt. But even without corruption it is difficult for an established communal religion to sustain the ideal.
However, to talk this way is confused—we have begun to talk of religion without a clear concept. We are using an implicit notion based on example and practice which may well be barely related to the ideal. We are in fact violating the essential notion of meaning established earlier.
A definition—religion is use of all dimensions of being in the realization of all being—particularly in being on the way to ‘highest’ being. The religions may be approximations and become corrupt but the religions do not define religion. The earlier discussion on meaning informs us that culture does not define its concepts which are always on the way—often interaction between concepts-ideals and objects-instances. Science is happy with its approximate representation of the empirical world. But the empirical world as commonly understood is not the world or universe. Even in its limited forms the religions stand as stating (a) the empirical is not all there is and (b) we can and should stake claims on ‘all there is’—knowledge of the universe—in this lifetime (which may be speculative but need not be even though it so often is dogmatic).
So, if we maintain common distinctions, religion is not science but it is close to metaphysics continued in action.
The metaphysics has obvious implications—there are gods but there is no God of the Universe other than the universe itself which is not a ‘god of’. However, we have not seen such gods and the support from the metaphysics probably concerns improbable worlds—worlds whose population of the universe is so thin as to most likely be ignorable.
The question regarding god is not ‘is there god’ but ‘what is god’ or ‘what are gods’.
The greatest intelligence in our environment comes closest to empirical god. That intelligence is ‘on the way’. In Space, Time, and Deity (1929) Samuel Alexander said that a practical definition is ‘What we worship, that is God’. A paraphrase of his metaphysical definition is ‘God is the being or beings, if any, that possess the quality of deity that we worship’. Alexander’s metaphysical system is quite different from the one developed here. I find it not unreasonable but neither complete nor necessarily true. From his system he concluded that ‘Within the all-embracing stuff of Space-Time, the universe exhibits an emergence in Time of successive levels of finite existence, each with its characteristic empirical quality. The highest of these empirical qualities known to us is mind or consciousness. Deity is the next higher empirical quality we know; and as shall presently be observed, at any level of existence there is a next higher empirical quality as deity stands toward mind.’ He concludes his book ‘In the hierarchy of qualities the next higher quality to the highest attained is deity. God is the whole universe engaged in process towards the emergence of this new quality, and religion is the sentiment in which we are drawn to him, and caught in the movement of the world to a higher level of existence.’
My agreement with Alexander cannot be complete. The universe of the universal metaphysics is not in a linear movement. Nor is it teleological. But there are within the whole linear and teleological (or teleological like) movements. Thus certainly Alexander’s vision characterizes some movements. However, lacking the logic of the metaphysics the most that can be claimed for the actual movements is suggestive and must fall short—even in linearity—of what is shown by the reasoning of the metaphysics. The actual metaphysical situation is the one of limitless peaks, dissolutions, extensions, durations, and ever fresh variety; one in which we participate; one whose peaks we may wish to call gods but these are not our gods—we are part of them. And religion is sentiment (in a good sense) but it is much more; it is also reason, risk, civilization, and action. Still, Alexander is admirable in moving away from the received to a hypothetical god.
Whatever we may call god, it is in becoming and we are part of it. Whatever we may call god, it is entity and process; it is acute and diffuse. There is nothing here about which to have dogma; there is no concrete object in which to believe. God is an open experiment and we may or may not wish to call it ‘god’.
The metaphysics enables development of cosmology.
This development is of course informed by our practical knowledge in cosmology.
There is an apparent contradiction between these results and experience including experience encoded in science. In fact there is not because we have already accounted for science and logic under realism. However, an explanation is called for. Clearly though, the metaphysics requires cosmoses such as ours—ones in which we experience limits. But how does this mesh with limitlessness? It does so as follows. From the metaphysics the laws of our cosmos cannot be universal or eternal. When we experience those natural laws as eternal and universal we are therefore experiencing what is locally highly probable as necessary and what is improbable as impossible.
We may call this experience normal. We may then call the picture of our world under this normal experience the picture of a normal world. It seems that getting out of the normal is immensely likely. That is inaccurate. Probability is conditional on what we know. Tell someone two hundred years ago of airplanes, radio, and nuclear transmutation and they might well retort ‘Impossible!’
It is the problem of a normal world to find a way into the universal. This is not an avoidance; it is ‘the problem’ in that our worlds and the universal are necessary to one another. See the discussion on realization below.
The metaphysics guarantees the existence of normal worlds (without limit to variety and number). It further guarantees that not all normal worlds have origin in a ‘mechanism’—i.e., there need be no explanation other than ‘the world emerged’ (the situation from which this happens need have no structure or form or law such as conservation of energy).
The most that can be done in the way of explanation is to suggest probable mechanisms and explanations.
How may we explain the origin of a normal world or cosmos? The general form of the question is ‘How does essential novelty originate?’ An attempt at an answer should be prefaced by pointing out that from an atemporal perspective—the universe over all extensivity—there is no novelty. Essential newness occurs in time. How does that happen? To address this it is necessary to ask what ‘essential newness’ is. It is not contained in what came before. In other words it is not possible to predict what is essentially new for the outcome could have been otherwise. The origin must be the result of an indeterministic event or process.
The explanation has a well known problem of explaining structure from indeterministic process. The general response (above) is that no explanation is necessary—it is required in from FP. But that is not the kind of explanation we seek. We want to understand the origin in other terms. Indeterminism is in fact the key. Determinism cannot produce novelty—that fact is implied by the concept of determinism. Under indeterminism while there may be no preference for structured outcomes there is no bar against them; under indeterminism there may be many trials and when a stable-structure results it is perpetuated on account of its stability (selection). The entire process of emergence of newness is a sequence of such increments. Generally the origin is that of self-adapted systems by variation and selection. We have an idea of what the detailed mechanism is for life; the details remain to be discovered for worlds (there are suggestions in the physics literature).
The principle behind thoughts is reinforced later in discussing life.
It has been seen that substance has no purchase with regard to the universe. However, the creation of normal worlds is the result of specific conditions of near stability and symmetry that gives some uniformity and durability. This uniformity and durability is as-if substance or as-if substantiality.
The metaphysics shows the necessity of our normal cosmos. It helps eliminate the apparent contradiction of the metaphysics and the form of our cosmos. It helps show the mesh of the normal and the universal.
Regarding the normal versus the universal we can now see that death is real but not absolute. Awareness of death may be given these functions. It sits as reminder that this life and death is a gate to the ultimate. It also reminds us that this life is limited (most probably finite) and that we have only so much time to complete our business—to not assume that we are limitless in this form and in addition to enjoying this life to seek to see and realize and prepare for the ultimate in this life as best we can: this is practical, our approach may be idealistic but conditioned by realism. It is appropriate to comment on pain. Obviously pain is functional—but not all pain: that is the price of pain as an instrument whose function requires that it be broad and difficult to avoid. But what is its significance in the universal? It is of course another reminder and we can use it as such. But perhaps we can view the question conversely: what does the metaphysics tell us about pain? It implies that it is unavoidable; that, certainly, palliative efforts are sometimes good—but that pain should not be avoided at all cost; that there are times and ways to seek it; it is on the way to the ultimate; the metaphysics gives significant meaning to pain. We can thus understand pain for the innocent. But what can pain mean for an infant? It is hard to answer, especially to a grieving parent, but the answer might be the same as the significant meaning of intolerable pain for a mature adult—pain that displaces all reflection and reason and so reduces the mature and strong to a state of childhood or infancy. The significant meaning from a dispassionate and compassionate view can only be that it is on the way; and that it is a price of living in the light of the ultimate.
Pain has significant meaning but there is no easy solution to the problems of pain. But unavoidable pain cannot have a solution. The ‘problem’ must be one of suffering where suffering is conceived as pain that could be avoided by making good choices, having a proper attitude. Obviously the problem of suffering is moral—some suffering can be avoided by immoral means and at the same time immoral behavior can cause suffering. I am not going to develop this thought because pain is on the way and because there are good ideas on the subject in eastern and western religion, philosophy, and psychology.
Most people face issues of suffering. At times it must be lived through. At times accepting and living through suffering and fire is the only salvation.
I watched the movie Shadowlands last night, January 13, 2014. In it Joy Gresham (Debra Winger) who is dying of cancer exhorts C. S. Lewis (Anthony Hopkins) to enjoy a present moment of love, to not give into the fear of future pain of loss; she says ‘the joy now is part of the pain then’. Our emotions, positive and negative, our perceptions, sensations, and thoughts are all part of experience; we may be misguided by an idea of an always merciful god or guided by some universal metaphysics; but what we are in the moment is what we are in the moment. It is a package ‘deal’. We are fortunate to have found some significant meaning via the metaphysics but it does not displace the significance of moments.
In the moment—in the normal—the moment and the universal are distinct. This is true—it is a true perspective.
In the universal the moment and the universal (Aeternitas) merge.
The metaphysics shows the necessity of our normal cosmos. It helps eliminate the apparent contradiction of the metaphysics and the form of our cosmos. It helps show the mesh of the normal and the universal.
This discussion in ‘western’ terms is basis for an account of the universe starting with the on nature. It is preliminary to, so far as may be possible, a version in neutral terms (which will likely draw from experience, reason, and other cultures).
Psyche—experience—is taken as reference because it is the place of the beginning and end of knowing and not because it is (or is not) ontologically fundamental.
This is the background. The only constraint on the universe is possibility, of which there is a vast Unknown.
The base, in our world, of and primitive to our being. Includes matter, life, and—on the western hierarchy of modes—psyche.
Place of our significant being and realization (becoming).
In our world psyche is invariably found in association with matter (bodies).
Place of cooperative endeavor and realization, especially of human beings.
Civilization nurtures the individual, the individual fosters civilization.
Support to individual realization (instrumental aspect). Place of convergence of individual identity in large scale identity (intrinsic aspect).
The significance of the levels for realization is that while there is cross transformation (action at one level affecting another) it is essential to address all levels.
The void is primitive to nature.
Thus some very general levels are: the void, the normal, and the apex of the universal.
In secular thought: nature (including psyche) and civilization.
Trans-secular thought also recognizes the primitive and higher and apex forms and identity.
The following levels are from ‘high’ to ‘low’:
Religion and spirituality talk of higher levels—especially spirit and god.
Science and common material experience seem to find no spirit and god but from their incompleteness they do not rule these out; it is only the thought that ‘what we have seen is what there is’ that makes us think that science rules out being beyond its domain.
The metaphysics asserts that there must be spirit and gods and, perhaps above these, soul understood as that which bridges divides normally considered absolute—e.g. death and unmanifest phases of the universe. However, the metaphysics is not explicit as to their nature; in fact it is wide open on the issue—it allows an immense range. Can we say more?
Some philosophies find the idea of ‘god’ to refer to a process. Scholastic and some modern theology regard god as substance (divine simplicity with no parts) but the metaphysics shows this conception of substance and therefore of god as untenable. In Samuel Alexander’s thought divinity for any level is the next higher level of being; prior levels, however, do not conceive their divinity even though they have it; ours is the first level at which divinity is conceived. Without espousing Alexander’s view, we can use it as a source of insight.
We can talk of mind—it is an aside to the main development. When we talk of mind we are talking of experience—and its varieties. Some writers regard action and attitudes such as belief and knowledge as further markers of mind. We saw in discussing experience that these are among the dimensions of experience: attitude and action are kinds of experience, not something other than experience.
We can talk of mind as the system of experience which includes experience of the world as world and as containing experience. However, if we talk of mind as something over and above this system we are talking figuratively.
Now what is experience? We saw it is relationship. If the universe is the expression of immutable matter (materialism) and matter has no part that is mind (this makes materialism strict) then there may be explanation of behavior-as-if-there-is-experience but no explanation of experience. Therefore materialism might be tenable in relation to the givenness of experience but strict materialism cannot be. This means that elementary experience (nothing like ours) must be among the immutable elements, known or not, of matter. What kind of elements? Since experience is relation (interaction) it must be the interactions—the forces. Experience is relation and that relation is among the interactions of the ‘immutable elements’ (remember also that the elements are immutable on materialism but not necessarily so otherwise). Thus, on materialism and an extended meaning of experience to the primitive, experience is at least primal awareness and the grounding of being in being (the experiential interaction must be among the elements of material interaction but it is not clear that all primitive material interaction is primitive interaction; in the next section we will see that this is always potential and a good possibility for general consideration and further all interaction is a candidate to be primitive experience).
However the metaphysics shows us that materialism is untenable. Still, the above conclusions from materialism suggest that ‘being in itself’ or ‘first order being’ is analogous to matter and being in interaction or ‘second order being’ is analogous to mind (experience). But this is only a suggestion. However, from the universal metaphysics the suggestion must obtain sometimes though not always. It is therefore reasonable to think that the suggestion from materialism is valid in some normal worlds. Perhaps in the general case there is disembodied experience. But again, the universal metaphysics shows that even if there is matter without mind and mind without matter in some phases of the universe then these can and will reach out and find one another. Thus it is always potential that ‘on an extended meaning of experience to the primitive, experience is at least primal awareness and the grounding of being in being’. This is a good possibility for general consideration because the disembodiments would likely be unstable, perhaps even lacking the significance imparted by extensivity (e.g. space and time—see discussion of physical cosmology below), and the normal case most populous.
However, let us revisit the question of what the meaning of disembodied experience might be. It is as we saw earlier in the nature of experience that it is experience of. Thus it is essential to experience that it is an aspect of experience. Experience may be ‘tenuously’ bodied but is never disembodied. Now consider what the meaning of matter (being in itself) without relation might be. Is there a being without connection to the ‘rest’ of the universe? That of course would violate the universal metaphysics but it does not prevent us from asking and learning from the question. An answer is that there is no significance from the point of view of the being or the rest of the universe of the complement under permanent non-interaction. Therefore that there is such interaction is in the meaning of being (and the metaphysics reveals an aspect of its dynamic). Now it does not seem possible on grounds of meaning alone that every interaction must be experiential but it is essential that an eternally non experiential universe would have no significance. The significance of ‘universe’ from the point of view of a being with the capacity for experience seems to be that every part of it must be capable of direct or indirect entry into experience. These thoughts constitute a somewhat tenuous argument that experience and being are duals in the constitution of significant being and further that all being is significant. This is of course confirmed and solidified by the metaphysics.
We can talk, if we wish, of first and second order being as matter and mind.
To talk of matter and mind it is necessary to analyze experience.
The earlier analysis was empowered by the elementary analysis of being.
Extending the analysis of matter and mind to the universal is empowered by the metaphysics.
It is pertinent to ask whether the series matter, experience… or body, mind… has a continuation; Spinoza asked this question and answered it affirmatively: on some interpretations he thinks that there are a numerical infinity of ‘attributes’ or substances—a sequence whose first two terms are thought and extension (matter or body).
Reflect that matter and mind can be seen as first and second order being defined above. What might the next item in the sequence be? If it is third order being, what is that—interaction among entities-in-themselves and interactions-of-entities? That is just interaction. This suggests that there are no further attributes (further, as noted earlier, a substance base of being is impossible). This of course does not at all imply that complexity does not have infinite or unlimited degree or that quality does not have unlimited variety.
The metaphysics shows the equivalence of the universe and the void—of every element of being with every other. Thus the being of the universe has and can have no substance foundation.
We now see this in greater detail.
The issue of attributes and substance dominates much of metaphysics. The metaphysics resolves the issue as noted above.
Discussing mind (and matter, later) after discussing objects suggests that mind is an object. Mind and matter can be treated as objects. However, on the metaphysics there are no non-interacting objects and thus these cannot be substances. There is therefore no particular point to noting that they are objects except the following thought.
Although there can be no further attributes in the sense of there being ‘third order being’ there may perhaps be another way that I have not and perhaps am not able to imagine. The reasoning of the recent sections suggests that that is not so but it is a good idea to remain open. We prefer a true metaphysics to a neat one.
It is an even further aside to talk of the problems of mind and consciousness for human being. I do so only briefly.
‘Mapping mind’ is considered in an earlier section on psychology. The fundamental problem of mind has been the relation between mind and body. How does a material body manifest mind? This problem has long been regarded as metaphysically difficult. How do the details of physiology manifest a map of mind? There is a history of interest in this problem but it became possible to address it realistically only after modern developments of neurophysiology. Before these developments explanation was simple (e.g. phrenology) but superficial. Modern physiology has given us an appreciation of the difficulties. However, the difficulties are not physiological alone; nor are they difficulties of correlating psychology and physiology; there are fundamental questions on both sides as to what the essential processes and their interactions may be. Yet this study is not metaphysically difficult. Here, I consider only the metaphysically difficult problem of how matter manifests mind.
The problem is difficult when we think that matter and mind (experience) are distinct categories. On materialism we may think (1) the entire universe is matter, (2) matter is mind and, so, (3) how can mind manifest at all (let alone in mind). To some thinkers the problem is easy: mind is a property or correlate of certain organizations of matter—those organizations seen in brains (our main example). However, as pointed out above this explanation is able to explain behavior as if there is mind but not mind-experience itself.
The earlier consideration of materialism applies in our normal situation. It is important to remember that in this paragraph I will be focusing on the normal in which matter behaves as an as-if substance.. On that consideration the mind body problem is a non-problem. Elements of experience and matter are aspects of the same ‘stuff’. Therefore higher experience-brain arises out of organization of the lower level experience-matter. The alternative above suffers from internal contradiction; the apparent objection to this explanation ‘pan-psychism’ is not an objection for the lower level experience is nothing like our experience of experience. Experiments that purport to show awareness without experience show only absence of awareness of the awareness; explanation of the on-off character of consciousness is similar (it is the awareness of awareness that is on-off; deep sleep does not contradict for it is or seems to be an absence of awareness altogether). In human being, language helps develop acute social consciousness of consciousness; however there is experience of experience does not require convention or language: it is biological. Adaptation does not cause consciousness to emerge; elementary consciousness is always there as primitive experience; evolution results in focused, self-aware, and reflexive consciousness as instruments of an efficient mind. A final comment on creativity is possible. Insofar as creativity is the creation of an essentially new idea (one that is essentially new to the body of the creator) it must depend on indeterministic processes; these must be common but significant events may be uncommon; the event is not the sole place of creativity; the ‘creative’ mind must likely be self observant and follow up on the ‘original event’ events in ways of creativity of which some are well catalogued in the literature.
Outside the normal the situation may be quite different. We have no evidence of un-embodied mind but our evidence is that of the normal. We expect mind without matter and matter without mind. However, we also expect such situations to be unstable. Still it is not certain that all such situations are or will be unstable. It is possible, though that reason or ‘logic’ rule out these possibilities. It seems reasonable to argue that extension and duration are both necessary for experience. In that case however it seems likely that extensionality exists ‘in itself’ (first order and to which the label matter should apply except of course that the matter might be quite different than the matter of our cosmos) and in relation (second order or mind). When I pursue this line of imagination I do not find a way out but more complex loops within the main line. But I do not know this thus-far limit to have necessity.
The metaphysics assists in clarifying the problems of mind and consciousness. It does so intrinsically in helping clarifying the concepts and further in helping extend the analysis to the universal.
It will be useful to consider society which I will place under the heading of civilization.
It will be useful to first consider the nature of ideas such as society and, especially, civilization to which we sometimes attach fixed meaning.
As preliminary I note that this is an effective place to make some further comments on some attitudes to ‘meaning’. In a group discussion someone mentions a concept, e.g. ‘justice’ and makes a case, say, that justice is the supreme good. Someone else objects that the first speaker has misunderstood both justice and the good. There are a number of things going on here but first note that notions such as justice and the good are not given objects in the universe. The metaphysics shows that there are few absolute objects (being, universe, void…). Even the physical objects are not absolute but we may often take them as absolute relative to the values that are partly of our creation and that include justice. The point that emerges is that when we debate and define and use notions such as justice we are as much creating the objects as discovering what they are. This is common in regard to ‘social constructs’. That noted we may also note that the metaphysics and the uniform nature of all objects show that there are objects such as ‘Justice’ and the ‘Good’ that stand above our constructs but that are still, perhaps, not absolute but are further on the way to universal realization than in our day to day, millennium to millennium process.
Similar remarks apply to the idea of civilization. If we look at, say, Wikipedia we find some definition that is intended to distinguish civilization from hunter-gathering societies ‘civilization generally refers to state polities which combine these basic institutions: a ceremonial centre (a formal gathering place for social and cultural activities), a system of writing, and a city’ which continues ‘The emergence of civilization is generally associated with the final stages of the Neolithic Revolution, a slow cumulative process occurring independently over many locations between 10,000 and 3,000 BCE’ (Civilization - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, on January 14, 2014). We cite Wikipedia as example, not authority. Wikipedia has an air of and the presentation of instruments of authority but in such matters there can be reference to scholarship but no authority. However the result is that we often think that there is such authority but there is authority, if not Wikipedia then somewhere in our universities and other institutions. But there is not. While I am not criticizing our ideas and institutions I do note that education and other output from our academic institutions often suggest authority where all that is there is quality which may range from the best available to work that is poor and irrelevant.
It is not being said that what we have ‘learned by the time we are six’ (or in the universities or at the feet of a teacher) has no relevance. I am saying that we cannot be slaves to such authority. This is and ought to be commonplace but even as we recognize this point we often find ourselves implicate in our own slavery. Vigilance is a good thing.
The metaphysics then permits the following: civilization is the web of human societies, cultures, and other accomplishments over time and continents. This use makes no distinction between cultures—modern versus hunter-gatherer and so on and thus does not carry the pejorative connotation sometimes intended with some uses of ‘civilization’. Then: civilization nurtures the individual, the individual fosters civilization. Individual, community, and civilization move forward in realization. Perhaps human civilization as such will have a limited tenure. However, as for the individual, so for civilization: there is continuity of identity in some form and its merging with the universal. But there is more. The metaphysics also permits the following: Civilization is the matrix of civilizations across the universe—Individual and Civilization are vehicles of realization. There are science writers who join this notion of Civilization to the future evolution of the universe as possibly seen according to modern physical cosmology, general relativity, and quantum theory. Such writing is often regarded as speculative, bordering on science fiction. Yet we can regard it as suggestive or even figurative. The metaphysics shows the reality of the idea; and perhaps in the future we can channel the forces of our cosmos to join Civilization. Perhaps not; but we want to be open to all possibilities so as to be ready for opportunity when it arises.
The metaphysics assists in clarifying the meanings of civilization and, especially, the possible meanings.
It shows the places of civilization in realization. It shows, in particular, that one approach to realization is via universal civilization.
We introduced civilization as a vehicle. However, it is also an end in itself. The importance of the ultimate does not at all displace the significance of our world in any way but the metaphysics specifically has them of the same cloth.
Discussion so far has included consideration of the elements of being such as ‘matter’ and ‘mind’. In talking of adapted systems there is implicit reference to life. I am not suggesting that the metaphysics suggests the variation and selection mechanism of evolution of life. Rather, the reverse, the mechanism of evolution of life finds potential application in the origin of any structured system. However, consider an origin from the void. What could such an origin be like? It could not be deterministic for determinism produces only what is already there but in rearranged form. The origin must be indeterministic. The standard criticism of this is that indeterminism cannot produce structure. However, we now face the problem that neither determinism nor indeterminism produces new structure. What is the resolution?
The thought regarding indeterminism is not correct. For it is precisely absolute indeterminism (no outcome ruled out) that must produce all structure. The question is ‘how?’ and the answer is that there does not have to be a how? The idea of ‘how’ refers to mechanism and mechanism and cause are what we see in our cosmos but cannot be there in the void. Still, even though there does not have to be a ‘how’ there may be one. How can there be a how in the void? It has to begin with pure indeterminism; in the ‘beginning’ there is no how; but once there is something, it may then be subject to variation and selection.
It is reasonable to think that though that variation and selection are not necessary to produce structure they are the most probable origin of more stable, rather symmetric, relatively enduring forms—i.e. of self-adapted systems, environments, or ecologies. No further treatment of life is needed for this brief account.
It is a research project to show how and where encoding in microstructure (genetics) results in complexity and variety (and whatever else may be measures of ‘advanced’ adaptation).
That the universe is absolutely indeterministic implies that there can be no universal substance.
A system that is absolutely indeterministic attains ‘every state’ and is thus absolutely deterministic though not in the sense of temporal determinism.
It is absolutely deterministic in that the universe is equivalent to every part of it. However, using this absolute determinism is beyond the computational capability of limited form.
Particular areas of science show how origins that suggest design may occur without design.
In the universal this suggests that such origins are far more frequently result in relatively stable systems than do spontaneous origins.
Yet from limitlessness, there must be spontaneous as well as designed origins of the stable adaptations.
Here we see the mesh of the metaphysics and science; and why we expect the variation and selection of science to be the dominant but not universal mechanism of ‘becoming’.
The sense in which I use it is roughly ‘the ground of our being’. It is what is given to or in us—the worlds of matter, of life, and of at least some aspects of mind. It is not society and culture for we are in part their architects. It is interesting however that if we were (much) more powerful than we are we could be architects of nature. From a conceptual standpoint ‘nature’ is not as important as it is in some philosophies.
However, it is critically significant in realization—especially as our ‘support’ and ‘ground’, what we experience of as beyond our power to change (although we can ‘divert’ it). But it is most important as portal and inspiration (see journey and path).
In this chapter the focus is on material or physical things in our cosmos. However we are not asserting that the cosmos is or is not material.
We have spoken on cosmology above. It was in fact general cosmology. We just spoke on a particular aspect of cosmology—on mind, generally, and on human mind.
I will now venture some reflections on physical cosmology.
The indented paragraphs repeat some material from general cosmology.
The universe contains all being. There is nothing outside the universe. Therefore, whatever space and time there is must be immanent: from the point of view of the universe there can be no absolute space and time; however it is open that one part of the universe may set up an at least as-if space time grid for another—it is commonly thought that our cosmos as a whole may do so for its parts. But what are space and time? Reflection suggests that in the absence of substantial objects there can be no space and time; and in the absence of perception of substantial objects there can be no space and time. Identity is therefore the likely key to space and time. We saw that identity is an object. Clearly there is no object without difference (and no perception of objects without perception of difference); also there is no difference without sameness but sameness and difference are not logically distinct notions.
We can now see that duration or time would be change or difference associated with the same identity; while extension or space would be marked by different identities. We can generalize the notion of extensivity to include both duration and extension. Perhaps there are other variables of extensivity; however, that they measure changing versus different identity suggests that there are no other such variables. Thus the notion of identity explains not only the nature of space and time (extension and duration) but why the only extensive variables are space and time (this does not imply that a region of being can have only one measure of time). Where there is difficulty in marking identity (e.g., as in communication by only finite signal speeds in non rigid systems) differentiation between changing versus different identity might lack significance; thus the ‘system relative characters of space and time’. Where identity is diffuse, space and time may be diffuse. In the near void background space and time may be nebulous; in the void there is no such thing‘—no difference between an instant and an eternity, no difference between a zero and a limitless distance. As space and time are but immanent self-markers of identity, so they warp with being.
Motion is change in spatial relations among objects (and within an object when the object may be regarded as a collection of smaller objects). Other changes in time are changes in properties.
Dimensionality and signal speed are not fixed and some cosmoses may have multiple signal speeds. There are no indivisible particles. There are interesting parallels between quantum mechanics and the metaphysics and it is conceivable that the possibility of the metaphysics parallels the probabilities of quantum theory; and certainly the parallels between the void and the quantum vacuum are remarkable. The metaphysics allows and requires ‘ghost cosmoses’ to be coincident and passing through and or in parallel with ours and all cosmoses must interact but the interactions may be occasional and minimal. In this connection there is brief discussion of ‘multiple universes’ in the earlier section one universe and one kind of universe; significance for and interaction with the multiple universe or multiple histories interpretation of quantum mechanics may be fruitful. I end with a philosophical remark—while unification in physics leads to identification of things previously thought different, the metaphysics reveals that every element of being is equivalent to every other. These remarks, along with those on the openness of realism, suggest immensely fruitful directions of study (‘research’).
A complete answer would have to explain the origin of all fundamental laws and entities—of the cosmos itself. We saw in normal worlds cosmoses must originate—no mechanism is necessary. However, natural mechanisms are far more probable. What is a natural mechanism? The laws cannot be the source of their own origin. We saw that it is reasonable that it must occur incrementally from more or less stable state to more or less stable state. This is central to a discussion of the origin of the laws.
Here, I guess only at the laws of energy and entropy and a few related concerns.
The foundation of the guess is that the laws have to do with degree of symmetry and therefore of stability and longevity. Even though such systems do not emerge most often those that do not possess stability are very transient.
But what is the source of the energy law? The answer should lie in a comparison of conservative versus non-conservative systems. What would happen to our cosmos if energy were not conserved at a fundamental level? If energy were to consistently decrease the cosmos would ‘die’. If it were to consistently increase the cosmos might be unstable. This is of course speculative since the nature of energy has not been specified except implicitly as that whose conservation results in stability. Arguing intuitively, since the square of velocity is always positive, having an upper and lower bound for kinetic energy is needed for stability. Under energy conservation such bounds are given. Then the laws of motion or energy exchange should be second order, i.e. they should involve accelerations but no higher derivatives of position.
What is the origin of mass, gravity, and the other fundamental forces? Recall that there is difficulty ‘unifying’ gravity with the other three forces. Perhaps, therefore, the source of gravity and mass is in collective action over the cosmos (whether this thought and the explanation of mass from the Higgs particle can be fit into a mutual framework is reasonable but open). Then the other three forces—electromagnetism, weak, and strong—are local: they are mediated locally by certain particles (the ‘gauge bosons’).
Now consider entropy. Begin by enquiring of the essence of the entropy law. According to the law the entropy of an isolated system (the universe or an isolated cosmos) must increase. However, the universe as understood here—all possibilities are realized—is too vast for an entropy or energy law to have purchase. What is the origin of the entropy law for our cosmos? First ask how the entropy law ‘functions’. The cosmos began with low entropy (high degree of order). According to the entropy law the net entropy of the cosmos increases (disorder increases). However there may be local flows of entropy so that local order or structure may emerge even though on the largest cosmic scale there is increase in disorder (while the law holds).
What might be the origin of such a system? From the metaphysics emergence is given and then, once emerged, such systems allow structure, life, and intelligence which permit observation and concept formation about such structures but bar observation of the vast universal (not cosmic) background. However the foregoing is not a mechanism in any strict sense. Could there be a mechanism—i.e., an origin in terms of what we know of the cosmos? Recall that the entropy law depends on probable behavior of large numbers of particles. The increase of entropy (disorder) is immensely probable rather than necessary. However, decrease in entropy is possible. Is there a situation in which decrease in entropy becomes probable? If at the end of a dissipative history in which entropy increases there is some state of extreme condensation in which a large range force would reorder the structure of the cosmos that would fit the object of our search. This might also be statistical over many cosmoses and it would likely involve some aspect of physics—e.g. force—not well understood. And though understanding is obviously incomplete, there is such a force—gravity—and there is thus a mesh in the foregoing explanations of energy, dynamics, elementary particle physics, and entropy.
It appears that many properties of the universe are fine tuned to support intelligent life. Here we attempt to explain this—to provide at least a framework of explanation.
The discussion is intended to be suggestive and not intended to approach completeness. The discussion begins without dependence on the universal metaphysics—consequences of the metaphysics are introduced later.
I think it is safe to say that science—the laws and empirical evidence so far—has not yielded a definite answer. In the first place reference to fine tuning of the constants is reference to the empirically known universe—which, in this narrative, is called the cosmos or our cosmos (and which, even from science, is not known to be the universe and whose existence is consistent with it being a part of a just larger and more varied to limitlessly larger and more varied universe). Secondly, even if the cosmos is the universe it is not clear that the laws and constants are fine tuned to support intelligent life: perhaps many ranges of laws and for each set of laws many ranges of the constants would support some kind cosmological form that could support some form of intelligent life. Thus is not clear what conditions are required for intelligent life. If the laws and constants appear to be fine tuned it is perhaps because they are fine tuned to the particular stabilities and forms that we observe.
However two questions remain. (1) What, if any, is the significance of the fact that it appears that many properties of the universe are fine tuned so support intelligent life? (2) Why do the laws and constants have their particular forms and values?
There is in the literature a range of approaches to these issues. The approach taken may depend on how the cosmos began. It could have existed forever but the current scientific consensus is that there was an early very dense and hot state about 13 billion years ago. Was this an initial state? Today’s physics cannot be extrapolated further back so in terms of physics the answer is that we do not know. But we can make hypotheses about what ‘obtained’ before—e.g. that there is ongoing creation (and perhaps destruction) which takes place in a region much larger than our cosmos and contains many bubble cosmoses; Lee Smolin proposed birth of cosmoses from the death of others in black holes and a mechanism to explain why cosmoses of our type would dominate the population of cosmoses after a sufficient number of deaths and births. Perhaps the simplest theory of origins is that it occurred in one time singularity but this does not explain the form of the cosmos. It would seem paradoxical to explain the origin of the laws in the laws so, if there is an explanation, it would be in terms other than the laws. On a one time occurrence and if the beginning is in nothing the ‘other’ laws would probably not be ‘physical’; perhaps they would be logical.
Much of the discussion is in terms of the anthropic principle that everything about the universe, particularly our cosmos, especially its physical laws and their constants, must be consistent with intelligent life on earth. However, the cosmos could be an accident and so there is no a priori necessity to the principle; as a principle it seems ad hoc and while it is predictive it does not seem explanatory. However, there could be some necessity to at least some aspect or form of the principle. Therefore there is a range of ‘anthropic principles’.
In order to see what prior principle might explain the form and origin of the cosmos and or an anthropic principle we consider some ‘paradigmatic parameters of explanation’ that describe the universe and explanation of the universe and its structure.
Common parameters and their ranges are:
Now let us see what we can conclude from the preferred mode of explanation regarding origins of the cosmos under the range from scarcity to plenty (we have seen the range from necessity to possibility to not be fundamental).
Under scarcity, there is just our cosmos. If it has no origin there would seem to be no explanation but accident. If it has origin it must be in the void—it would be no more than an origin ‘an origin event but not a creation event’ for there is no creator. There is no space of possibilities except perhaps origin versus non origin. The origin would seem to be either accident or necessary. If there is an explanation it would lie in necessity—unless we think of ‘accident’ as explanation—known or yet unknown ‘logic’ (it is imaginable that some level or degree of physics is necessary even though we know of no such physics). It seems reasonable that ‘intelligence’ (but not our type of intelligence or life) should be part of the necessary reasons.
Under fecundity but not absolute fecundity, the origin of the manifest universe—if there is only one origin—has the same system of explanation as the cosmos of the previous paragraph. The role of life and intelligence would be somewhat different depending on whether the system was a one time origin, many time, or ongoing origin. The origin of our cosmos could still be ‘pure accident’ but an explanation other than necessity is also possible and might involve some dynamic of death and birth of cosmoses such as the one due to Lee Smolin.
Absolute fecundity is the universal metaphysics. In this case our cosmos is necessary.
Clearly there is no necessity to anthropic reasoning. Therefore the anthropic component of the following reasoning is merely plausible.
Not only do the laws seem fine tuned. It seems that the dimensionality of space and time (three + one) is optimal and perhaps even (close to) necessary to support intelligent life in a universe (cosmos) that is stable and predictable enough to permit intelligence to operate (it is probably only in such a cosmos that intelligent life could evolve by natural selection, i.e. by the evolutionary mechanisms of variation of molecular form and selection of adapted forms).
It seems clear that where there is space it must have some at least primitive measure that is simply that there are at least two distinct objects. Less than that and there is nothing deserving of the label ‘space’—it is perhaps the most primitive spatiality possible. There is a significant range of possibility between that primitive spatiality and a space of fixed dimensions with a metric. All possibilities in the range obtain somewhere in the universe.
Is there any reason to think any of the following are necessary—dimensionality, a metric, three dimensions, a metric that is Euclidian? None of these is necessary. What is worthy of investigation is to what extent a stable cosmos must have dimensionality and a metric. Obviously (from general relativity) non Euclidean metrics obtain. Is there any reason that the dimensionality must be effectively three (it is conceivable that our cosmos has more than three dimensions but all but three are wrapped upon themselves)? There are ‘reasons’ that the dimensionality of our cosmos is three. The possibilities of form for spaces of two dimensions or less are possibly too primitive to permit the richness of our cosmos (think, for example, of the spatial form of DNA or of the spatial complexity of organisms). Now this kind of reason is suggestive. If there is but our cosmos there is no reason it should have begun with or so as to end with any particular dimensionality. However, I will follow this suggestive line and tie it up into an improved and acceptable package at the end. Continuing on, it is an interesting fact that the geometry and topology of spaces of dimension three and four are the richest and most difficult (for example the last case of generalized Poincaré conjecture that any n-dimensional homotopy sphere is homeomorphic to the n-sphere was proved in 2005 for n = 3 by Grigori Perelman—it was proved for dimension 5 and greater in 1961 by Steven Smale and for dimension 4 by Michael Freedman in 1982). In four dimensions the orbit of a planet around a sun would be unstable; other phenomena such as wave propagation would lose the orderly character it has in three dimensions. This suggests that a ‘rich and stable enough’ cosmos will have three (effective) spatial dimensions. Of course any dimensionality and measure from the primitive (two object) form above on up is possible and therefore obtains (from the universal metaphysics) but it is dimension three that is rich and stable.
Similarly, from the universal metaphysics, any form of temporality (including the non temporal case) may obtain in some ‘cosmos’ and in the temporal case any number of times may obtain. Some of these may be wrapped up in some manner. Is there any reason that the number of times should be one? The universal metaphysics requires that all numbers of time dimensions will obtain. However, it seems that differences between time and space include the following: (1) Time marks change in a given object while space differentiates objects (it is this that defines time and space and the conceptual difference between them) (2) Time is unidirectional while space is bidirectional (this is rather obvious and well known but it is not clear that it is universally true) (3) Even where there are multiple times it is not clear that we should think of these as ‘dimensions’; it seems that the different times should be parameters of different aspects of change for objects or that there are classes of object of which each class has its own time (perhaps with loose coupling among the classes). There are two apparent problems with multiple times. In the case of time as parameter for different aspects of change there is a problem of consistency—if the parameters are coupled is there not just one effective time but if they are not coupled what is the significance two distinct time parameters? A second problem is that many phenomena that are discrete and stable with one time become diffuse and unstable with more than one time dimension.
The literature suggests that in a cosmos with two times prediction according to physical laws as in our cosmos is not possible, that elementary particles would be unstable, and that ‘life’ would not be able to manipulate cosmology (source Spacetime - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
A summary of this section so far is as follows. The universal metaphysics allows and requires an immense variety of space-time manifolds. Here we have given suggestive reasons that three spatial and one time dimension is privileged. We have discussed space and time but not space-time. I will now refine the suggestive reasons which are after all not reasons at all relative to our cosmos for there is no reason at all that it should have started or continued in such fashion as to support life or even to be stable.
The anthropic principle is the principle everything about the universe, particularly our cosmos, especially its physical structure, must be consistent with the existence of conscious life. An anthropic argument argues from the presence of consciousness andor life to the nature of the cosmos, especially its physical form, laws, and constants. The usual direction of prediction in science is from general principles to particular facts. An anthropic argument reverses the direction of argument and is an example of argument from the particular to the general. An example was given above—given the complexity and stability of our cosmos its dimensionality must (likely) be three plus one (space, time). One objection to anthropic arguments is that they reverse the ‘preferred’ direction of prediction. In fact they do not for science is bi-directional: from data to theories (via hypotheses) and then from theories to specific predictions. Still, an anthropic argument often seems contrived for it does not proceed from ‘raw physical data’. However, the main objection seems to be that what we are now can hardly affect what the cosmos was in the beginning.
An anthropic type argument can only be predictive in a situation where multiple cosmoses are produced, perhaps with random variation of parameters, and then life will occur in some fraction of them—and we live in one of those cosmoses. Now if a cosmos must be fine tuned to permit life the range of cosmoses in which life occurs will be very small because the volume of an n cube of size 0.9a is very small compared to an n cube of size a for large n. This has been taken as an argument against anthropic arguments. However, in limitless time it has no purchase; and it assumes that all cosmos ensembles must be parameterized rather like ours. It is not clear the universe allows all possibilities (we are not assuming the universal metaphysics) and even if it did not clear that there are general probability estimates (which require some structure to a ‘sample space’).
In this section I have emphasized discussion in terms of modern physical science. On the universal metaphysics the universe does and must allow all possibilities but it is not clear what these possibilities are. Certainly it seems as though there is limitless variety and there are regions with infinite time but perhaps the regions must merge with others over infinite time unless what is infinite for one region is finite for another (e.g. an observer in a cosmos of physically finite duration whose process speeded up in such a way that individuals ‘lived’ and experienced infinite duration).
Integration of science and the metaphysics is powerful. It resolves many open questions. It shows the universe far more open than we commonly think. It points to the possibility of vast fields of study (research).
As we have seen, the universal metaphysics carries with it its own epistemology or nature (in this case of being) and validity (in this case in and from experience) of its knowledge.
But we can go further. It is now revealed that the local sciences (e.g. our physics, physical cosmology, mathematics, and logics) are and must be in their own ways empirical. There is nothing in the void—not even abstract objects. Therefore there is no absolute a priori. Either the sciences and logics were found entirely empirically or some parts of them were built into our organism. This ‘built in’ a priori is not absolute—it is the result of interaction and from the considerations on mind above we can see that it is a kind of empiric that predates our conscious empiric. It is significant however that the empirical character of logic and science is different: science is empirical over facts, logic over concepts—and if parts of logic are built into language that is just one further remove for language itself is not a priori. Now our inherited epistemology—roughly from Locke to the present has emphasized the issues of validity and precision. These remain important but in light of the universal metaphysics universal validity and precision unattainable for limited form but also unnecessary. For in the quest for the universal we are informed by the metaphysics that it is a given (but deserves and inspires effort) and that therefore our disciplines are temporary instruments to this end. The disciplines are limited but that is all we need of them in this ultimate quest. In this sense they are perfect and in this regard no further epistemological considerations are required of them. These comments also apply to the concerns raised regarding any local ontology of objects—it is important and interesting but precision is impossible and unnecessary.
That action is necessary for the completion of knowledge have already been noted.
The metaphysics carries with it its own epistemology.
It empowers and immensely simplifies the nature and task of modern epistemology with regard to universal issues.
The content of division foundation was written in a form that benefited from and was natural to the universal metaphysics but did not presume the metaphysics. Insight derived from the metaphysics informed but did not found the chosen conceptions of being, experience, meaning and knowledge.
In the chapters that followed the universal metaphysics much development presumed the metaphysics.
It is now possible to look at the chapters that come after the universal metaphysics and ask ‘how can this material be expressed in the same form to the extent that it is possible to do so without assuming the universal metaphysics?’ The motivation for this is that we have benefited significant insight and results from application of the metaphysics and we would like to see what part of that benefit is true when we do not assume the metaphysics—for that part may well be significant.
The universal metaphysics is roughly that the universe is the possible collection of worlds (‘possible collection of worlds’ is similar to ‘collection of possible worlds’ but the former avoids contradictions that may arise under the latter).
In a normal world—one in which we have knowledge of that world but do not presume knowledge of ‘other worlds’—we can define an object as a concept that has reference in the universe of possible worlds. Then a concrete object is one that exists in the normal world or cosmos. All other objects have reference entirely or partially in ‘other worlds’. I.e., most abstract objects straddle the normal and the possible.
Normally, science and fact refer to this world; logic obtains in all possible worlds (here the possible includes the actual).
The possible cosmologies form a context for understanding physical cosmology including its form and origins (from a vantage point in which we consider our—empirical—cosmos as the universe there is no understanding it). The understanding would be that at least some possible cosmologies would turn out to be real.
There is no clear reason that a normal cosmos should have any particular dimensionality. The universal metaphysics requires all possibilities. However we saw in fine tuning; dimensionality and measure of space and time that there are suggestive (anthropic) reasons that a rich (i.e. sufficiently rich to permit complexity as in our cosmos) and stable cosmos will have effectively three space and one time dimension.
The discussion of space and time in terms of identity showed that there are no extensive variables except space and time; this demonstration did not require reference to the universal metaphysics?
Are there any reasons that there must be space and time? None is forthcoming from the universal metaphysics. The earlier anthropic arguments suggested that a stable cosmos with life will have three plus one dimensions (three of space, one of time).
There is an argument that given experience (perception) there must be space and time. The argument is simple: percepts are of extended objects—they require space, but perception is in time (the argument does not go over for objects generally—a point object is an object and its being does not clearly require time).
It has been argued that this implies that the character of the experienced is spatiality or extension and that of experience is temporality. However, this only occurs on the reification of the experienced as a static object and of the reification of the obvious temporal aspect of experiencing as the character of experiencing.
The argument that when experience is given, there must be space and time is an anthropic argument and not an argument from general principles (an argument from general principles cannot presume our physics of three effective and one effective space dimension for that is what is to be proved). Earlier in cosmology we saw another anthropic argument (from complexity and stability). However, every argument that is not based in some general universal principle such as the universal metaphysics must have an anthropic element (an argument from general but local principles is said to be non anthropic but the general principles must come from local reasons).
The normal understanding is that life is an adapted system (evolutionary) with specific features. There are ‘fringe’ questions such as ‘is my legacy life’ (perhaps but the answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ sheds no light on the question ‘what happens to me’). Other fringe questions are ‘are our technologies alive’ and ‘is society a form of life’. The problem of a ‘no’ answer is that perhaps we do not know the final answer or destiny of technology and societies; and an issue with ‘yes’ is whether we learn anything substantial—in other words these questions are best considered as having speculative but not definitive answers. A related issue is that, given these fringe concerns, we may doubt that the re is a reliable concept of life. A response is that many concepts are clearly defined by ostension or example but when we wish to define in terms so as to analyze or generalize then of course there will be doubt at the boundaries.
A non fringe question concerns the nature of life beyond the pale of the empirical cosmos. Must all life involve replicating and controlling molecules (RNA, DNA and so on)? Must all life be evolutionary as is life on earth (simple origins, incremental process by variation and selection leading to complexity and variety—which may include sexual forms of reproduction and the variety that that brings)? It is reasonable that some, perhaps most, life forms may be follow these formulas. But suppose that our cosmos has a large but finite number of possible configurations and suppose that it will visit all those configurations. Must all visits to forms that include life be by the incremental variation and selection route? In terms of classical physics the answer may well be yes. The reason for this is that classical physics allows only certain routes to form. In quantum physics the classical routes are merely most probable. The routes that have zero probability in classical physics have small but non-zero probability in quantum physics. In an infinite amount of time all possibilities will be visited and life will be visited infinitely often by non incremental (e.g. single step) process—but the frequency of incremental origins and process will probably be much more.
The reason this discussion has depended so much on ideas from physics is that we are considering life in a normal context. All that is possible in the normal occurs in the universal. However it would seem that the universal is much more varied. Is that true? Perhaps quantum physics allows all possible states but restricts the probabilities of their access and the ways of access. In any case the universal is more open. ‘How much more open?’ is an open question.
The chapter on mind developed the normal framework for mind and then took up how it might generalize in the universal case which in turn suggests how to think about the normal case. It is noteworthy that the ‘normal development’ was informed for insight by my knowledge of the universal metaphysics but did not presume the universal metaphysics.
From the universal metaphysics the universe realizes all possibilities—it has identity and manifestation in acute, diffuse, and absent phases; there is no limit on the variety, peaks and their magnitudes and dissolution, and extensivity of being. This power is conferred on individuals—realization is given; individuals participate in self as universal identity. While in limited form realization is an endless journey in being. Peaks are transient but peaking and self are eternal.
Effectiveness and enjoyment of process is enhanced by engagement, experiment and commitment.
There is goodness in enjoying the present—the here and now—as though eternal. Realization is given. The present is always a beginning. Effectiveness of universal life is enhanced by engagement, experiment, and commitment. We can regard the situation in both ways, for the present is within the ultimate. The individual has a choice in which to emphasize but the fullest choice is to regard the situation in both ways. There is no universally sub-optimal choice for the opportunity will always arise again for those who choose a restricted life (and most of do so to at least some extent) and for those whose circumstance does not give them choice. I believe that in every present moment the choice to live the dual life has the greatest potential for enjoyment, give the greatest meaning to suffering (when it occurs).
Realizing the ultimate is always experienced as a beginning—the way in and from the ‘here and now’, from a ‘normal world’. The normal is a picture so the way a mix of experience of the world and experience itself.
The universal metaphysics shows ultimates and that there are ways. Normal experience suggests the importance of engagement.
Where else can we turn? To the world, to the ‘disciplines’ (nature, society, mind, being) and to the fundamental approach of transformation—analysis and synthesis of being (and meaning): risk, consolidation of incremental gain in mind-being-civilization or failure, learning, and return to risk. Risk should be intelligent; when there is no other option ‘pure risk’ is intelligent.
The following amplifies this analysis.
The universal metaphysics is essential in showing the possibilities and necessity of realization (as for the metaphysics, ‘being’ is an effective and potent container for the endeavor).
The metaphysics combines with practical knowledge (defined earlier) to provide foundation and efficient ways (instrumentality).
But at the front there is no final discipline or master—tradition is suggestive, the teacher begins as guide and remains support. We have only the resources of ourselves and the world.
The movement of civilization has this aspect—preservation and cultivation of our world and realization of greater things.
It seems that every culture has some picture—worldview, cosmology, metaphysics, myth—that paints a picture of human being, of community and civilization, of the world and universe, and of their relations.
Since foresight, choice, and action are part of human nature the painted picture includes ideals for individual life, living in this world, and the ultimate.
The picture is often presented in a conceptual part and a consequent part that prescribes action (e.g., Samkhya and Yoga).
It might be useful to provide a catalog of systems from the cultures of the world. At present I think it more useful to describe and experiment with what emerges eclectically as instrumental—this is done in the divisions journey and path. Since what I find useful changes with experience, it does not serve my purpose at present to write a comprehensive account. Such accounts are available anyway but often provide a misleading sense of completeness and authority.
Later, there may later be occasion to write a comprehensive review of the essential elements of the systems woven together with my experience in realization, my learning, and the universal metaphysics. This has already begun in this narrative.
Engagement of individual and civilization in process is the essence of approach to realization.
We have seen that the notion of ‘nature’ is relative. However I use it practically to mean the immediate ground of our being. Now, the following ‘bald’ statements and the reasons behind them will be elaborated and explained in the next chapter on the essentials.
Nature and community are places of realization, individual and civilization are vehicles, and ideas and action are the means.
Nature, the individual and civilization are vehicles and instruments.
There is no formula, no sequence of steps, that deliver realization; and there is no eternal salvation but being in process—in openness to risk and consolidation. The Church and Temple of the universe is always open.
The disciplines—the sciences, humanities, arts, technology, religion—may provide aids; but without engagement there is nothing.
The metaphysics shows the possibilities and necessity of realization.
In combination with practical knowledge it suggests efficient ways.
The aim of this section is to list some essentials of realization. It is inevitable that contextual elements will enter and so I will restrict the treatment to an outline.
It is important to explain the reasoning behind the outline and that the reasoning and differentiate universal, contextual (cultural and personal) reason.
Being-experience-process is an absolute minimum. We are interested in identity, its manifestations, and transactional or interactive transformations.
Specifying more is essential to engage the limits that define our being and its near possibilities. Specification is limiting except that we can come back and specify again in light of experience and transformation.
We look for descriptive elements of being suitable to intrinsic and instrumental aspects of realization. The elements may include traditional (including scientific) notions such as individual, substance, atom but these will be regarded as ‘absolute’ only when grounded in the metaphysics. Any chosen collection of elements is experimental—it may be revised.
We have seen that duration and extension are essential to being. A static world is impossible on the metaphysics and provides no reasons for experiential (or ‘material’) forms of being.
There is a tradition in which duration or time marks being and extension or space marks the world. The tradition is using referring to being as experience-ing and world as experience-ed; obviously, then, the tradition will see being (experiencing) as temporal and world as spatial. But this is a metaphor for it says ‘experience experiences’ rather than ‘experience is experience of the world which includes experience’. Since experience is part of the world (universe) of which time and space are essential in manifest form, both experience and world are spatiotemporal.
A framework of duration and extension is not one in which being resides. The framework is part of being while it arises in and frames manifest being.
In the following the scaffold is duration and extension.
From the metaphysics there must be a mix of determinism and indeterminism. In articulated systems entities are not self-contained—the changes or transformations of entities are intertwined—in interaction. Thus a partially deterministic entity-interaction-process model is essential to articulation (but the particular entities etc. are not). Even incremental origins, except the first emergent from the void, have articulation. We will not insist on the model and leave it and its elements open to revision. Openness (to experiment and revision) in transformation requires openness in explanations.
It is significant that the entity, interaction, process model is not as limited as it may seem—although classical physics is deterministic, quantum theory is close to allowing all possibilities.
In the following the fundamental entity is identity—individual and collective or civilization. Individual identity ranges from primal to animal and person … to universal.
The means are kinds of experience—ideas and action. This is an expression of what we have established as our relations with the world which includes ourselves. Experience—even ‘pure’ experience—is relation and its relations are relations of attitude (ideas) and relations of action. Action includes physical change as an elementary and non-typical case (the notion of action is that it is mediated by ideas including choice and then physical change is action in which the high level experiential content is zero).
Places are contexts of interaction which have varying ranges of extension and duration.
The external places are nature or ground and civilization as matrix of individuals, culture as collective and codified and transmissible experience.
The intrinsic place is psyche or mind or coherent system of experience (psyche, self, mind, and body overlap).
These intersect the entities or vehicles.
From the differentiation of experiencing versus experienced being flows the intrinsic and instrumental (extrinsic) modes or sciences. It is probably accurate to say that the most developed of the extrinsic modes are the western sciences and that the most developed intrinsic modes are eastern. Both are essential; distinction is at least porous; there are tendencies to minimization that are points of view though sometimes expressed as prejudice. The distinction between intrinsic and instrumental is not absolute especially because the body lies in the experienced but also ‘contains’ a main center of experiencing.
The disciplines are the ‘sciences’ of a particular culture or of multi-culture. The places of transformation above reflect the levels of (perhaps evolutionary) complexity of being—nature, culture, and higher levels of experiencing (mind).
There is also a ‘discipline of the disciplines’ which includes ongoing learning, reflection, free concept formation, use, success or failure and emergence (or not) and repetition. This ‘discipline of disciplines’ is culture in process—the place that nurtures the growth of knowledge, experience-being, and the particular disciplines. It is perhaps as far as can be gone with regard to method in general and has been seen in more general form as synthesis and analysis of being (mechanics, below). The received disciplines are defined though not closed and the discipline of disciplines is emerging.
It is a principle that follows from our limited form that all disciplines are experimental, of the entire organism and culture, open, and experimental.
The elements are vehicles, framework, durations and extensions, means, places, modes, and disciplines. This ‘system’ is elaborated just below.
The fundamental vehicles are those of identity—are the individual and group or civilization and community.
A framework of realization is duration and extension (which in terms of identity range from individual to universal).
The durations are from process to ends—transience and arrival—the path ever begins in the present. The ultimate and the immediate are not merely complementary, they are essential to one another. The universe and its identity have acute, diffuse, and absent phases. The extensions or magnitudes are from (points to) ‘our’ world to the universe—from ground to the ultimate. Our world is ground and beginning; the universe is ‘end’ and illumination (from which it is clear that the distinctions end-process and extension-duration are partial).
The means are ideas and action.
The places are the ground and fabric—nature, culture, civilization, self, and mind.
The modes or ‘sciences’ of transformation are intrinsic and instrumental—of experiencing versus experienced being… of individual versus environment.
The disciplines are the ‘received’ sciences. The yoga systems of India and the sciences of the west are paradigmatically comprehensive intrinsic and instrumental examples, respectively. These defined disciplines may be contrasted to the open ‘discipline’ culture. Culture in process may be seen as the discipline of disciplines—the place that nurtures the growth of knowledge, experience, and the particular disciplines.
The essential mechanics is of risk, reflection, and incremental consolidation.
The word ‘increment’ suggests small steps which appear most likely. However, relatively large steps are not ruled out of either possibility or consideration (reflection). It is possible that we could conceive a number of small increments, a liner sequence, whose result is large. Alternately the small increments may have a ‘synergistic’ outcome—one in which ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ (in literal terms the magnitude of the net increment is greater than the sum of the magnitudes of the increments). Finally there may be occasion to risk the failure of a large leap in some anticipation of significant change.
The mechanics falls under the earlier analysis of what is necessary for emergence of new forms and, particularly, of any form at all from a formless background. As seen in the analysis indeterminism is necessary but contrary to apparently widespread opinion (‘structure cannot come from random process’) sufficient indeterminism is also sufficient (indeterminism and mere randomness are not the same).
This may be described as synthesis and analysis of being and meaning. We have seen that this derives from the nature of being and experience.
The disciplines include ways such as those of Buddhism and psychoanalysis that suggest a disciplined approach to realization. The ways include catalysts of transformation. Catalysts disrupt fixed ways and so open the space of mind and being. Some examples are meditation, reflexive cognition, exposure to fear, and fast.
The disciplines and their catalysts are not the way but examples.
The selection of ways (see path below), here, has been extremely and intentionally eclectic. I have selected for what I think may be useful. However, all ‘ways’ are on the way—instruments for experiment but there is no final discipline. We do not want to attempt to be authoritative for, relative to our goal there is no such object as ‘final authority’; there is nothing close to it; the suggestion would be illusory. The goal of designing is to experiment with and integrate some of these elements with the mechanics of risk, reflection, and consolidation.
From discussion of modes and levels of being, catalysts operate at the following levels:
A catalyst should be appropriate to the object of change and the end in view. This depends on the external aim (the end) and the depth of freedom of the individual. There are cross interactions but for some outcomes, the lower or most fundamental levels may be most effective, even necessary. At the highest level there is freedom but the highest tends to be superficial. At the lowest level transformation may be most difficult (but not impossible and an aim would be to find pathways to such levels). The degree of focus on the in between range is rather culture dependent. Modern society tends to focus on the explicit and the superficial. Real transformation may need the lower levels (even in ‘health’). For effectiveness we may want to work at more than one level, e.g. cognitive and cultural interpretation of dreams and vision. There is a range that we think of as ‘disturbed’ that in other cultures are transformative (and we benefit by dealing primarily by what is open to public view but lose in terms of depth which we tent to think of as disturbance or illness). Of course the lower levels are most difficult to access and it is important to note that there is probably a culture independent layer of what is regarded as disturbance or mental illness.
The title should perhaps be ‘Some dimensions’.
Being is all encompassing; its concept, range, and elements have been treated adequately above.
The universe—all being—has been likewise been treated adequately. Further revelation is inevitable but is part of realization broadly conceived.
In the ultimate the transient and the universal merge.
So being-in-the-world and the ultimate are to be in interactive balance.
We do not reject either the immediate-pragmatic or the meta-narrative.
To reject either is to diminish both.
To live well is simple—except when one does not have well-being.
Issue 1—global climate change—climate scientists claim significant warming with likely disastrous consequences and that this is 90 – 95% certainly the result of human activity. Should we act on this?
Principle 1—action should not be deferred till a problem is certain.
Issue 2—but there are many competing problems.
Principle 2—we need rational allocation of choice.
Issue 3—but perfect rationality is not possible.
Principle 3—we need good enough rationality (‘perfection’ does not have definite meaning).
Issue 4—we have differing views and politics.
Principle 4—we need realism, holism, experiment, learning, and dialog.
Issue 5—w e do not know the range of challenges, opportunities, problems, and ways to address these.
Principle 5—We must work toward enumerating, evaluating, and synthesizing them—and toward action. Synthesis includes seeing the interactions among issues and seeking optimum or good enough allocation of resources among problems and opportunities
There are various lists. Following combines and modifies the most recent 2004 UN High Level Threat Panel’s and Richard Smalley’s around 2005 ‘Top Ten Problems of Humanity for the Next 50 years’. I have made some additions—enfranchisement (Smalley listed democracy and education separately), environment and resources (were listed separately), culture (emphases opportunities, includes knowledge of the world, an appreciation for what is of worth, and the understanding of conservation and planning—which makes the list reflexively complete), and geopolitics. The list below begins with ‘problems’ but beginning with the environment and resources the items present problem and opportunity.
War, terrorism, and transnational organized crime.
Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, and biological).
Genocide, sex trade, body part kidnapping, and other atrocities.
Environment—climate, land, air, and water.
Resources—water, food, energy, land, plant, animal, and materials.
Approaches—science and technology; see culture, population, and geopolitics below.
Democracy, education, quality of life.
Women, men, children.
Knowledge—systematic and general, secularism-religion and (versus) realism (see the document ‘system of human knowledge’ in which the main divisions are universe, artifact, and symbol).
Morals and trust.
Art and human expression.
Population is a root issue. Intervention is possible. Moral concerns make moral action difficult to conceive and there is a tendency to therefore neglect the issue. This should not prevent reflection and search for solutions. Better education, improved economic status, and perhaps political enfranchisement result in lower birth rate (as low as 1.4 children per couple in some places). Education and opportunity for women and minorities is recognized important. I think, however, it is important to not exclude any segment of populations with the thought that they are the power or wealthy class. Men are as critical as women. It is critical to reach across borders. Exclusion reinforces negative practices. Inclusion is at least an invitation to the positive.
The future of nations and national boundaries.
Modern community—‘developing’ and ‘developed’.
Root issues. Political and economic principles of transformation and action. Regarding these issues this includes their ongoing enumeration and evaluation of the individual and system of issues for allocation of resources; particular attention should be given to root issues, material and other, that spawn many others and for which intervention is possible and moral.
Problem of action. When, an individual, look at our world I may become frustrated. Why? It is in part that there is so much opportunity yet so much waste. However, I know of no law of the universe that says that this is avoidable. This does not remove my dissatisfaction with waste but it does suggest what I might do about it. In a material sense all I can do is begin with myself here and now in the present. But I can do more. I can reflect I can communicate and I can act. The point then is the spirit of action. I can act but not control. Therefore the spiritual advice to not be attached to the fruits of action is not only spiritually empowering but practical as well—in (a) that I avoid useless frustration and (b) in empowering my action.
Imagining scenarios—problems, challenges, opportunities—can be useful in anticipation and in setting up policies and institutions.
This list is a beginning.
The universal metaphysics implies that science, politics, economics of the future should be more than ‘republican’ i.e. entrusted to designated (elected and other) persons but one of participation and immersion.
To think critically about the political economy is not only to make choices from known options but to also construct new ones.
It’s a tall order and one might want to begin small but this is not a text book. The subject and its facets are a main reason to consider the political economy.
Politics is important to economics as the arena of decisions. But it is important for other reasons as well—social, international, military and more.
Forms of government with a view to human ideals, cultural, economic, technological, and military power.
Nations and trade blocks
Influence of politics
Redistribution of wealth (competition for resources)
Global competition for resources
Pockets of stagnation and poverty
Theory: macroeconomics and money
GDP, PPP, and national debt
Ideology: liberal, conservative; neoliberal and neoconservative
Finance and banking
Commerce and industry
Education, creativity, and entrepreneurship
Government: World through local
Consumer: markets and individuals
E.g., the religious right
Post 2016 election America and World
Reasons for reform rather than elimination
This section continues the discussion of psychology from the earlier section on psychology.
There is more than one approach to the study of psychology. One is to study its elements or aspects—feeling, cognition and so on—directly (the psychologies of different cultures have different categories).. Another is to see what we may learn from the physiological underpinnings. And a third is to study the categories of psychology in terms of the categories of the world (again there are multiple approaches—even in a given culture). This third approach is illustrated in correspondences between (a) the sensory modalities and the variety in the physical environment, (b) freedom in concept formation with changing contexts, (c) feeling versus perception and body versus outer environment, and (d) experience of experience and a world that contains experience. We do not of course need to restrict ourselves to any one approach.
Consider the world of experiential or psychological phenomena—a ‘cosmology’ of experience or mind. There is perhaps no unique way to catalog or classify them. Some overlapping variables or dimensions in a western account might be (a) location of object—inner and outer (b) direction of intent—afferent to neutral to efferent (c) form and quality (d) simple to compound (e) bound to free and (f) integration (which is essential because the lived in world is not atomic—autism is to some extent the result of non integration) and history.
The psychology or cosmology of mind then includes experience and awareness, percepts, the higher concept—e.g. the unit of meaning, feeling, emotion, emotion, cognition, attitude and action; and personality which includes identity, integration, and memory and their arcs. All of these fall under ‘concept’.
When we experience an experience itself we can talk of it. The unconscious refers to experiences of which we are not immediately aware or to a body state—e.g. something that can be remembered—that may enter or affect experience.
Therefore concepts are essentially experiential.
This subject matter of psychology for this world is intrinsically the study of particular being—animal psychology in the case of animal being which includes the special case of human being.
When I began work toward universalizing my metaphysical understanding I had not even the concept of the core idea—its possibility or impossibility was therefore impossible to contemplate. It is important to begin with admission of ignorance and even feelings of impotence. Naturally this mixes with confidence. That is all I will say explicitly on the psychology of the endeavor.
However, psychology as the understanding of the dimensions and details of identity is crucial. It is implicit even in talking of being and then explicit in talking of experience. It is implicit in the elements above and the psychology of the endeavor is implicit in the discussion of individual and identity below.
In the widest frame, psychology is the psychology of adaptation to the universe according to the universal metaphysics. It is implicit in the universal metaphysics as seen in the section values. It is implicit in the essentials of realization above.
In the ‘local’ frame it is the psychology of adaptation to our world—nature, self, other, culture (and the disciplines), and time (personality and its arc)—the psychologies of the range of human cultures.
However, the explicit psychologies of today and the implicit ones of myth, religion, and early philosophy are at the very beginning of the way to the ultimate. Even where these psychologies are deep, even where they are practical, they are at the beginning.
Therefore, at present, I prefer to let the discussion be brief and eclectic—and in process—for civilization has not arrived as yet at an adequate psychology.
A design is a more or less concrete conceptual and experimental solution to a problem specified in terms of criteria (tasks or values to be achieved). Planning would then be a design for how to build the solution—but obviously there is overlap.
Obviously there is overlap; if we consider time as just another dimension a plan is a design. Further, there is overlap among knowledge, planning, and design.
The value in realization is living well in the moment and being on the way to realization. Here there are layers of implicitness—what is ‘living well’ and what means and objects shall we employ?
In design and planning we come up with a big picture and a way to achieve it. In realization of course the picture is open.
Knowledge and design overlap. Knowledge may be seen as a solution to our open ended being; and one of its purposes is use in design.
Solution may require iteration—just as in evolution and knowledge, we do not arrive at ends in a single step. Another reason for iteration is that criteria or ends change with experience and knowledge.
We may summarize—a design is a big picture, planning is how to arrive at the design, and review undertakes to examine and change the total process or any part of it (at regular intervals or when the need arises).
Realism—design and planning is part of the process of realization. The path is lit by knowledge, design, and planning, but on the way we see needs and possibilities for improvement.
Efficiency—considerations include (1) Balance between explicit-analytic versus intuitive-synthetic planning—particularly between explicit recognition of elements of realization and mechanics and their intuitive-holistic accommodation; and between design and action. The balance itself may be determined (again explicitly or intuitively) and (2) Risk has the following significances (a) when action is at most partially determined by our knowledge, risk may be the only way of action (b) risk precipitates solutions and activates emotional energy. Risk may be partial—positive outcome is likely. Some risk is total—we do not know the outcome but know that there will be no outcome without action. Action is sometimes valuable in itself.
Review—of the total process at (flexibly) determined intervals andor as needed.
Living in transience and arrival is not intended as a formula or panacea. There is varying balance of transience and arrival—of reflexivity and rest, of engagement and realization—that conforming to the real. To think a fixed end has been gotten is not in conformity to the real.
Realization is always in the present, it requires risk—splitting and consolidation secured in body, recollection, artifact, and reason.
Living in transience, its joy and anxiety, is on the way—is essential to realization, ever a flux of transience and arrival. While in limited form realization is endless process and ever freshness in variety—a journey in being.
In limitless form the present encompasses the universe.
Transience is arrival.
The metaphysics is instrumental in suggesting some aspects of path and path design.
We have seen that it is effective to integrate the universal metaphysics with practical knowledge including the traditional and modern disciplines (if we call the universal as ‘pure’ metaphysics the integration may be casually called metaphysics).
Time frames are highlighted
There is no way but being: be-ing-sustaining and becoming-transforming interacting in varying cycles, phases, and emphases—that is, the way is:
sustaining « transforming.
There is no action without vision and choice—design and planning—which link sustaining and transforming:
sustaining « planning-designing « transforming.
Transformation intertwines ideas and action. The system of ideas approach are sufficiently mature for the present but action and thought may reveal more. Hence the scheme:
ideas ® action ® return to ideas.
Communication and publishing are essential to ideas. Action emphasizes transformation of being.
From the development of the metaphysics and the elements above it is effective to conceive action in three stages:
individual ® civilization ® artifact
or, with more detail:
individual-identity ® civilization-community endeavor ® artifact-technology.
A ground is in sustaining or be-ing, continues with transformation or becoming (ideas, individual, civilization, and artifact), and aims after return to arrive at pure being at a boundary between death and living.
Follow and repeat in any combination and any order:
Process. Discipline (received: modern, tradition) | Plan of action and preparation | Immersion and experiment (place) | Observe change | Consolidate (ideas, self, mind, body) | Review (learning, opportunity for action).
Place. All | Culture | Self | Mind | Nature | Civilization.
Sustaining has a single chapter.
Transformation is conceived as ideas and action. The ideas have one chapter. Action has three chapters—individual and identity, civilization, and artifact.
A final chapter ‘after’ anticipates a phase of pure being after the experimental phases and in which I live in the present—in which I live in the presence of death as closure and gateway. ‘After’ straddles be-ing and becoming.
Be-ing is sustaining. It is parallel to transformation—i.e., ideas and action.
1. Routine—rise and sleep early. Review planning (below), plans and tasks.
2. Dedicate. Meditate—review, practice: focus, spaciousness of being… Meditation in-action: pro-act—values, goals, others, death as spur and transition.
I dedicate my life to the way of being— / To its discovery and revelation; / To shedding the bonds of limited self / (In meditation and action / And not in avoidance of or waiting for perfection / As incremental action—inner and outer / Illuminated and contained by the ultimate) / That I may see the way so clearly / That living it, especially in difficulty, / (And by knowledge of difficulty) / Will merge force and flow… / And reveal The Way and its / Truth and power. / May I always live and share the way.
3. Transition. Experiment… Ideas, write, art, music…
4. Exercise. Aerobic, flexibility, posture, hiking fitness.
1. Place and transportation—aims, nature spirit, community… university… a life of feeling.
2. Skills—for aims, money. Work: web, workplace—online, for community, aims, finance.
4. Routine—week to multiple years; and occasional or as needed.
Daily to long term review of the entire process being becoming, its elements, soundness, completeness and needs. This chapter constitutes the plan; therefore review is re-vision of the chapter.
See design principles and planning for discussion of planning.
Since the ideas are relatively complete the immediate emphasis will be on transformation with support from ideas.
Parallel to action—i.e., individual, civilization, and artifact.
The following arrangement is effective: this section focuses on metaphysics in the broad sense that includes practical knowledge. Each remaining ‘action’ section has at least one subsection on ideas pertinent to it.
Foundation—metaphysics, practical knowledge, completion in action, and method—this is complete but will benefit from review. Process—analysis and synthesis of being and meaning. Ways to characterize the metaphysics—see the section explicit meaning of the metaphysics; consider: (a) limitlessness, (b) greatest universe—plenitude, (c) logic, (d) possibility, (e) realization of concepts (therefore no truly abstract objects), (f) boundary of all science and logic, (g) new: the identity of all elements of being (therefore the ultimate in unification); keep in mind that some of these are partial characterizations and that not all the differences in perspective are ‘total’. Proof—consolidate proofs and arguments for the metaphysics. Logic—carefully think through demonstration that the metaphysics and logical realism (Logic) are identical.
Logic—(1) Studies in literature of logic to see if my conceptions stand up and to see if the extension to realism (Logic) as science-logic stands up (2) Understanding of and facility with first order logic which includes the simpler sentence logic, perhaps more, for use in development; consider what completeness and consistency proofs there are and whether they are absolute or relative (3) Modal logic and foundations of set theory (e.g. Russell’s theory of types, ZFC, NBG, and Quine’s ‘new foundations’) in relation to possibility (below). (4) Development of the new idea of logical realism and its latest conception and analysis-synthesis of the realms harbored in realism. (5) The notion of ‘realism’ suggests a search for formalization—for example, theory of abstract objects (https://mally.stanford.edu/index.html). It is important that a central purpose to the study of the abstract—in contrast to the abstract in the page linked just above—its embedding in and so learning regarding the concrete (regarding which a paradigm case is the question of memory across death).
A science of possibility or possibility theory—(note that the modern literature refers to a ‘possibility theory’ in a sense quite different from sense that is defined in what follows) the fundamental principle leads immediately to conclusions of enormous magnitude which are trivial in their proof but not trivial in realization. Beyond this pale there would seem to be another enormous realm which in their conception and proof are not trivial. Consider the following concerns—they are but glimmerings. Given the immense variety of cosmologies against a void-transient background what structures are ruled out by ‘logic’—i.e. what ‘impossible objects’ might we allow to slip in via hidden paradox? What is the significance for possibility of the fact that what we know seems to be a subset of the given in a supra-temporal description of the universe? What is the range of the extensivity, variety, complexity and intricacy left over? From the void something emerges—is that emergence in time or of time or both? Is that emergence of object, time, and space; and must time and space be space-time? Are there regions where space and time are truly separate (would these be difficult in some sense—e.g. support rich structure and process—or impossible?) Is the reasoning of the narrative regarding mind and matter being the necessary and only forms of as if universal attributes open to criticism, to improvement; is the reasoning that extension and duration are the necessary and only forms of extensivity open to criticism, to improvement. How can we begin to specify the kinds of complexity possible? What complexities are there in spaces of different dimension? What can we say regarding spaces of high and very high and even infinite dimension? Is there meaning to dimension that is non-denumerable? What kind and degree of intelligence is possible? What is the status under the metaphysics of the other issues of this chapter on plans for ideas? These issues suggest a science of possibility which is one that unlike our other sciences would be ‘top-down’. Of course logic is already top-down except that we do not know that our logics are right at the top. If we make the transitions from logics to Logic as in the narrative then the science of possibility is Logic. However, ‘science of possibility’ is suggestive in a way that ‘logic’ is not.
Mereology—the study of parts and wholes and their relations—may also illuminate being, universe, domain, and void.
Comment. On studying the literature regarding complexity and logic
Comment. On the issues of complexity and the origin of logic above, it is essential to study the literature.
The abstract and concrete sciences—as studies and studied (subject and object). As object this includes formal study, models, self-representation, and the methods of development of logics-grammars-mathematical systems and of the concrete sciences. Topics: from grammar to language, logic, set theory, mathematics—much done; implications for realism; and the concrete sciences.
Knowledge database (and system of human knowledge)—(1) Refine (2) Study, obtain, and develop knowledge database software (3) Plan, implement.
Programming and applications for text (narrative), database, general computation—especially computational metaphysics emphasizing concept and symbol ‘calculus’.
Physical sciences, especially quantum theory (1) For comparison to the universal metaphysics (2) To find whether quantum theory (QM) contains the universal metaphysics—if it does at all, I expect quantum theory and FP will be identical for possibilities but not for probabilities (3) To consider laws as objects—is there a hierarchy of laws, e.g. from QM to FP. (4) To consider the relevance of other physical theory (especially relativity) to such questions and the universal metaphysics; particularly to consider the interwoven character of space-time-being from derivation of space and time from identity. (5) For information on the elements, dynamics, and structure of our cosmos. (6) Conservation laws and symmetry (see, for example, conservation laws and symmetry); Noether’s theorem. (7) Standard, alternative, and extreme physics. (8) Relation to logic of the void.
Note—sciences of life (and mind) and social sciences are entered under Symbolic and experimental being and World studies, respectively.
Examples morality, civil law and value and their immanent (local…) forms of Ethics, Justice, and Value.
Social concepts, politics, economics, and reason for and applied to world issues—practical and ideal (‘for citizens and group decisions and action’).
The following are some systems from . They are to be expanded and studied as time permits. It may also be worthwhile to read the works of anthropologists focusing on culture, mythic-holism, ecology of belief… Some writers to consider are Mircea Eliade and Weston La Barre.
Modern West, Christian Mystic, Russian Orthodox. / India, Tibet, Japan, China, Middle East (Sufi). / Amazonia., North America., Siberia., Australia (Dream Time), New Zealand. / Personal.
This study will investigate the nature and methods of design and planning.
Is design and planning something other than what is in the study of knowing and being (which includes their method of analysis and synthesis of being and meaning)?
Are not design and planning part of formulation and review of the ‘big picture’—i.e., of metaphysics? That is, are they not part of that picture with special focus on the future of individual and universe? And, conversely, should not the formulation of metaphysics be an in process endeavor?
What are some principles of and disciplined approaches to design and planning and allocation of time, effort and other resources to design and planning?
The history and development of philosophy are different in nature than the history and development of science. From its beginning, philosophy has had concern with the border between definite and indefinite knowledge and definite and indefinite method. In the modern period when an area of philosophy has become a definite body of knowledge with clear application in the world it has often broken off from philosophy as a separate discipline or science. The new discipline is then treated as separate from philosophy. However, separation and distinct treatment do not imply essential distinction even though there is a variety of practical reasons for the distinction. Philosophy remains concerned with areas in which knowledge is not yet definite. So the usual approach in philosophy is different from the methods of science (a practical but not necessary reason for distinctions). Today almost all study of the world has broken off from philosophy so that to a significant degree philosophy as practiced is no longer concerned with direct investigation of the world. The question ‘what is philosophy’ has taken on new meaning—and we can learn from the new directions of the answers. Still, however, I think it is a mistake to see philosophy as essentially different from science or any other knowledge. There is an over discipline, call it ‘x’, whose function is the study of the world which includes all ‘things’ which includes definite things, things indefinitely known, knowledge of things, and values. Now ‘thing’ typically refers to material entities. However, we have seen that this restriction—when we are thinking metaphysically or philosophically, i.e. analytically—is artificial. The material world and its material objects and processes and interactions and pasts and futures are things are ‘things’ (they have being). Knowledge, ideas, feelings, knowledge of knowledge, values, the value and nature of knowledge and ideas and thinking—these are all ‘things’, i.e. these all have being. So the recently mentioned ‘x’ includes all our sciences and philosophies as-such-and-as-practiced and more. What will we name x? I name it philosophy and there should no problem with that except that it should not be confused with other uses of the term ‘philosophy’. But is this labeling a potent use of the term? Given (a) its vast possibilities explored in this narrative and (b) the variety of ways in which the disciplines must interact in their forward motion (in disregard for our practical academic divisions) I think it fair to assert that the use is potent.
Now the relation of philosophy to its history is and must be different from the relation of science to its history. The history of science not necessary to practicing scientists even though it may be useful especially in developing new theories, in understanding how science should be practiced. However, as long as philosophy does not become a body of definite knowledge it must have an intimate relation to its history for it is only by understanding the problems of the past that we can move forward with the same and new issues and it is only by awareness the history of mistakes in philosophy that we can avoid them and proceed if only to make new mistakes on the way to new improvement. Of course this does not imply that a philosopher who ignores or is unaware of the history of philosophy cannot make excellent contributions but even such contributions (e.g. that of Wittgenstein) build upon some earlier developments.
I have often had the following thought about philosophical works. Every significant philosopher has a variety of styles—of thought, of insight, of writing, of evolving, of interacting and probably more. This makes it difficult for another individual to continue in the mode of an earlier philosopher. The difficulty is increased by much writing which is as if closure of thought has been attained (history shows that there is no closure of thought even though there may be closure of artificial systems). However, it seems that for thinkers who have written fruitfully but whose writing is not closed (with regard to imagination and or criticism) it would be valuable to continue on in that tradition. Of course we do this but my thought is that perhaps philosophy could also be written that way—as an explicitly open system. That is, if I had the ability and time, it would be valuable to rethink and rewrite Plato’s works as preliminary to continuing. There is an argument against this. It is that we have learned from Plato but we now continue on. In response to this counter I say that when I ‘rewrite’ Plato I may summarize. If there is value to my summary I may elaborate but otherwise not. In either case I will often enough be in a better position to continue development. Naturally the procedure would not be followed by all thinkers. That might be counter productive to process. It would be valuable however to have a mix of approaches.
I suggest a narrative mode that is open in just this sense and that is also open in the sense of being continuous with action.
My writing is explicitly open to continuation in action; the metaphysics requires this. The reworking of other writers may not—or may—be apparent in this narrative. However, I have learned and benefited much from occasional and significant informal rethinking and rewriting of the ideas of others (usually with some specific learning goal in mind).
Now in some areas where I hold my thoughts to be definitive I have not written so as to be open to continuation of the process; but the ideas of course remain open to improvement and evolution. In other areas, especially my approaches to and descriptions of action and programs of action, my writing is open. I believe that a narrative form that encourages continuity of writing is valuable.
I do not presume the value of my work but I would not write it if I did not think it valuable. It is in this spirit that my writing is offered as an invitation to others.
Givenness, beginning in the present. Learning, experiment, iteration are essential; tradition is a beginning.
Catalysts act on the organism, e.g. via shock or resonance. Their aim is to unlock innate (e.g. savant-like) capacities. They act indirectly on the person.
Ways, e.g. the eightfold way and psychoanalysis, act on the person and indirectly on the organism.
The distinction is of course blurred as is the organism-person distinction. Ways may include catalysts; catalytic change is integrated via healing and personal-cultural interpretation.
Means (ideas, action)-vehicles (individual, civilization)-places (nature, culture)-modes (intrinsic—especially immersive: ways, catalysts, art and religion; instrumental—science, philosophy, technology)-disciplines (established interacting with experiment and selection / criticism).
Core mechanics of risk (experiment, splitting) and consolidation (rebuilding, increment in reason, recollection, and artifact)—i.e., analysis and synthesis of being and meaning.
Tradition and experiment.
To organism by iteration upon small change… To person and culture by synthesis-reason, record, transformation, iteration… To process (including evolution) by entry into to transience-permanence.
Comment. This is a good place to study the psychologies of a variety of cultures. The aim would be integration into a ‘psychology for realization’.
Introduction: it is important that the meanings of the systems, while presented as systems, are not at all fixed and should not be; there is experience but not expertise.
Shamanic systems—(1) Communally guided tradition of plant use (a. plant chemicals, b. preparation) (2) Communally guided and interpreted vision quest.
2. Mysticism—Greek, Jewish, Christian, Islamic; and mythic cosmology as map of world and psyche.
3. ‘Indian’ (Veda, Upanishad, Vedanta and other ‘non orthodox’)—Yoga (transformation, connection), meditation (openness; meditation—not available on the Internet; instead see yoga), Tantra (embrace; and the also existential: death as horizon and spur to closure in this life and gateway to universal life), Death—its understanding as horizon and spur to closure to this life and gateway to universal life.
The way of the Buddha—an example. Four truths—there is suffering; it has a cause; there is a permanent end to suffering; there is a way to this end. Eightfold way—eight ‘rights’—Wisdom or prajna (1) View (2) Intention; Ethical conduct or sila (3) Speech (4) Action (5) Livelihood; Concentration or Samadhi—(6) Effort (7) Mindfulness (8) Concentration. The eightfold way has been analyzed as cognitive-emotional-behavioral. Shamanism includes a way of psychic transformation—ways of transformation neurology to receptive states, especially vision seeking without and with psychoactive substances.
Tibetan Buddhism offers the idea of Beyul. When I first encountered the idea I realized that I had given it a name but that it has been immensely inspirational in my path. Beyul refers to hidden lands but ‘the goal of pilgrimage is not so much to reach a particular destination so much as to awaken within oneself the qualities and energies of the sacred site, which ultimately lie within our own minds’ (from the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet’s introduction to Ian Baker’s The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise (2004). I paraphrase what I said earlier: nature is ground, inspiration, and portal (to ultimate self and universe).
5. Modern—hypnosis, EMDR, psychoanalysis (Freud, Jung, object relations, self psychology…), psycho-behavioral re-education (REBT), 12-step logic.
6. Integration—I seek fundamental insights that enable seeing the world systems on a range of continuum. I should not seek to show that there is no discreteness. Rather I seek to see and define what continuity and discreteness there are and to understand this as a distribution. That is, while there may be linear ranges, there may also be gaps in the range. What is the insight? It is perhaps the range from holism-intuition-myth to atomism (analyticity)-rationalism-science.
Approaches to transformation are evolutionary, systematic (ways, ideas) and catalytic.
Dream, hypnosis, meditative—focal and open space, unconscious access, object free but vivid perception and thought (‘hallucination, delusion’), enhanced vision, receptivity, feeling-emotion, ideation, kinetics and kinesthetics.
What are dreams? There are many theories of what dreams are and what are their functions and these are often taken to be the same though they are not even though they are related. We give a different status to the question ‘what are dreams’ than we do to ‘what are thoughts’ as though the latter is perspicuous while the former is not. However, though we question ‘the function’ of dreams (as though there must a function but don’t know what it is) while there is a certain if misleading obviousness to the function of thought. However, a clue to functions of dreams is provided by ‘what they are’ and a clue to the latter is to see all thought and imagery on a continuum whether waking or not and whether perception or imagination. There are of course differences and the most obvious ones seem to be that (a) dreams occur without external stimuli, (b) dreams occur while sleeping, (c) dreams seem real but are not, and (d) we do not directly act on dreams. These are tendencies rather than necessities for (a) some dreams are clearly stimulus driven, (b) visions and hallucinations have similarities to dreams and occur while awake, and (c) visions and hallucinations and vivid imagination may seem real when they are not, and (d) we may act directly on dreams and we do not always act on the outcome of a thought even when it indicates action.
A theory of dream constitution is a theory of what dreams are and may be expressed in physiological terms or in terms of dream content. Many theories of dream—or vision—constitution focus on differences between dreams and waking mental content. There are obvious content related and physiological differences but there are also obvious similarities. Particularly, even tautologically, they are all experiential and all physiological. Yes, this is obvious, but it is often clarifying to begin with what seems too obvious to state. There may also be commonality in origins which may be coeval or sequential and date to a time when waking thought had not evolved to a point where it some of it was under control as much as it is at the present stage of evolution. The simplest approach to understanding (to begin with call it a hypothesis) is that of common origin and that while there are obvious differences dream and waking content lies on a continuum. The latter (the continuum) is almost tautologous but making the distinctions on that continuum will not be. The approach starts with a necessary logic that is container for the real differences and therefore natures of dream and waking content.
Waking mental processes and other physiological activity is wearing; for example it requires attention to environment and to itself for focus—and thus adaptivity of awareness of awareness; and thus waking mental processes and perhaps all mental processes occasion rest. Sleep is rest; deep sleep is the deepest rest. In deep sleep the brain is so at rest that there may be insufficient activity to stimulate imagery (or its recording). Dreams (as is known) occur between wake and deep sleep. Dreams therefore, according to the hypothesis, are a transitional phenomena between waking mind and deep sleep mind. Naturally their topography is different with ‘functions’ being shut on or off or enhanced or attenuated at different stages and rates (and the shutting off of one ‘function’ may liberate another). Attention to reality is undoubtedly shut off early (thus a sometimes sense of freedom just after waking); and such shut-off is naturally parallel to the usual shut-off of motor control. However, it is not necessary to explain the differences. It is enough to understand that this explanation / hypothesis (in addition to being parsimonious) explains that and why there should be differences (and the origins of the different differences can be investigated experimentally and ‘theoretically’ in terms of the understood functions of the different parts of the brains). Of course there is some evolutionary origin. But is there a separate origin of dreams? Perhaps in the beginning some aspects of waking thought were dream-like. Then, later, control (e.g. to focus on the real) emerged so that there may have been no explicit origin to dreaming. In this scenario dreams are neither by product nor, nor of separate origin, nor vestige. Mind evolved. But the transition between wake and sleep is more like original mind than the evolved mind awake.
Thus dreams as dreams may have no particular origin or original or even essential function.
Given this understanding of dreams, there is no one thing that dreams are (repressed desires etc.) and no one function (lessons for action, sources of creativity, discharge of excess information). The ‘thing that they are and their function’ can be manifold and can even be chosen. Animals dream, humans dream. But if dreams do confer something to conscious life and if this confers some advantage which may then be selected for as an adaptation and further adaptively selected and which we may then recognize—or hypothesize—and describe as a significant function. And the selection may be physiologically based via adaptive changes; andor it may have been found to be a source of imaginative creation and realism in some cultures (which may perhaps be the base of cultural selection).
Thus dreams and visions (including the culture of the vision quest) and their use and power. For the ‘rationally minded’ it may be recognized that since we have dreams we can always subject what they suggest or what we interpret to rational criteria just as in rational action imagination is necessary but may also be subjected to rational (and experimental) criteria.
Isolation-deprivation, inaction, exposure—extreme environments, shock, trauma, pain, exhaustion… Fear—presence, crisis and opportunistic sense, dissociation and reintegration via exposure to anxiety (Chöd)—volitional or not—and purpose… Repetition, rhythm, dance, point focus (e.g. breath), and engagement as sources of experiential space and concentration; ritual… Immersion in new perspectives—handedness, new languages, travel—cultures and emote environments (receptivity in Churches, Beyul), sacred texts and poetic expression, acting as stepping outside the bonds of self… Fast, diet, psychoactive substances… Charismatic transformation via purpose, preparation, risk-exposure to people and places, and insight into motives… Brain state technologies…
1. Experiment, increment, consolidation toward greater being.
2. Immersion in civilizing.
3. Build at every stage upon what has come so far so that the outcome is far removed from the beginning and what may have been conceived in the beginning.
4. Reflect on the means (experiment, immersion) and ends (build); to concretize (making notes will help)—so as to see progress, strength, weakness, need; and so to conceive and implement ideas for improvement.
1. For planning, see the goals above. Also, at some point—‘just do it’.
2. Transition requires openness to essential newness and therefore to ignorance, searching, and inspiration… and places of inspiration.
3. Preliminary trips and experiments.
What is it to be another being? This is one approach to transformation.
A preliminary question ‘What is it like to be another person?’ This is of course difficult to answer. How can I experience the varieties and subtleties of another’s experience? Of course we can begin with empathy but can we go beyond that to identity? It seems not.
Instead consider the question ‘What is it like to be a human being?’ Of course, I have an answer for I am an answer.
The approach I want to consider here is one already established: analysis and synthesis of being and meaning.
Starting with self knowledge I can attempt to ‘get inside’ another person.
I can do the same for animals, matter, being, and universe and so on. This is a tentative but promising approach.
Get out of comfort zone. Do good work—civilization.
Experiments and ideas toward knowing and realizing the ultimate emphasizing Civilization.
The primary mode of transformation is intrinsic: individual—identity, participation, and immersion—and civilization as such: individual-group synthesis.
Topics for the section ‘world’—values, laws (e.g. constitution), ecology, politics (immersion / grass roots), exchange values (international and local), and economics.
Analysis and role of civilization in realization—the idea—civilization is the web of human culture across time and continents. Greater civilization is the matrix ‘civilizations’ across the universe. Individuals foster civilization; civilization nurtures the individual. (2) Concepts—the universal metaphysics reveals a limitless universe open to individuals and civilizations.
Disciplines including the discipline of discipline are progressive.
Significant topics for study (from individual and identity, civilization, and artifact) are: Catalysts of transformation; Ways and means of transformation and realization; World studies; Civilization and realization.
Approach—integrate with individual transformation; participation and immersion; this world and the universe.
I would like to share the remainder of my endeavor who, regardless of their views, would contribute positively and significantly to the journey.
Perhaps the most important contribution would be mutual endeavor and this would probably be enhanced by some similarity of outlook.
The areas and disciplines in which I want sharing and assistance are defined generally by the content of the narrative and more specifically by this division on the path, especially the chapters and sections labeled ideas.
This world—participation, immersion; problem and opportunity; politics, economics, technology, and the trans-secular.
Civilization of the universe—shared endeavor; metaphysics and transformation; retreat and return; exploration, artifact, and technology.
Artificial being including life and experiential being (including study of life and mind); concepts; computation; modeling, symbiosis; design; experiment; evolution. Technology for Civilization. Theoretical (and experimental) study of transformations with organisms, individuals, selves, and dissolution of self—psycho-biology.
The primary mode of transformation is extrinsic or instrumental: science, technology, and artifact—artifactual aids and symbiosis and constructed being—including life, mind, and intelligence.
The approach is defined above in plans for symbolic and experimental being in realization.
See immediately above for TransCommunity.
Technology as adjunct to civilization.
Return to ideas; analysis again, integration, open attitude.
Living in the present.
The now as eternal.
My desire to live can be expressed as a criterion. I should have at least the prospect of being useful or of enjoying my life. But I should say more. My enjoyment should not have a negative impact. And mere usefulness is empty for consider a situation where everyone is ‘useful’ but no one has any enjoyment.
Two approaches to the problem of mere usefulness are (1) How I live my life now, and (2) Mutual action toward a greater being—i.e., being on the way.
‘Date with death’
Death and its significance.
Comment. This space is for notes from the field. The emphasis will be realization or becoming—the way and, especially, actual realization. Write in the field and on return. Integrate later.
Comment. This chapter has been
It will be useful to recapitulate the history of the universal metaphysics. Its history is ancient. Equivalence of individual and universal identity occurs in the Upanishads and in the Vedanta of Indian Philosophy; these thoughts were taken up in the west by such thinkers as Max Muller and Erwin Schrödinger. The idea of Aeternitas, all knowing and being as an entity, occurs in the writing of Thomas Aquinas. The idea of the universe as all that there is and all that there is over all space and time is found in the thought of Eriugena. The connection between logic and necessity (and possibility) is very well known. The idea that every possibility must be realized in an infinite time is also well known and has been called the ‘principle of plenitude’ (but is not true for mathematically something can be possible but have probability zero—it is possible that a random sequence will generate π but the probability is zero). Early philosophy emphasized and Heidegger re-emphasized the importance of being to metaphysics. The sciences and the metaphysical systems abound with suggestion. Quantum theory suggests that almost every possible event has some probability of occurrence. If ‘possibility’ has definite meaning then it seems that it is either true or false that every possibility is realized. Thus thought must be pregnant with the idea that all possibility is realized. The main ideas of the narrative and its developments draw from many sources.
The history of ideas is an obvious source of inspiration. Enjoyment of the world was and is, for me, an obvious motive and inspiration.
Wilderness has been a source of inspiration. It is more than beauty for the beauty suggests that there is something deep about nature—especially in modernity where we are often cut off from nature. The beauty suggests that here is one gateway—one portal to the real.
One of my earliest memories of nature is traveling with my parents and their friends to hot springs in Bihar, India. We were then living in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata). I was six and I thrilled to the spring and its setting in a valley skirted by hills—and then to the early morning lorry (truck) ride home beginning in the dark on country roads. When I was eight we moved to a small town. Our house was on the outskirts of the forest. I was in heaven.
From 1975—1986 I backpacked in the Adirondacks of New York, Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, The Gila Wilderness in New Mexico, Weminuche in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. In that period I hiked about ten times in Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), Chihuahua, Mexico and many times in the Trinity Alps of Northwestern California. Over this time I developed—realized—what I feel to be a deep connection with nature itself and what I feel to be nature as gateway to self and the universal—I understand that this might be projection but when we count what ground we may have in the real and the ultimate where can we go but to nature, culture, self, civilization, reflection, and body? There are of course many traditions that emphasize the connection in and via nature. The philosophy of India is often said to be the philosophy of the forest sages. And it is quite true that for many thinkers nature has been the place of insight.
I have cultivated nature as source; as place of renewal; and as place of insight.
My discoveries—the process—have had a number of motives. From the beauty I experienced in the world I wanted to know the extent of the beauty (and so the extent of the world) and the extent of our relations to the world. Science, which has its own beauty, has a picture that is often taken to be the whole world. However, science and common experience are neither perfectly precise nor complete and it is consistent with science that the universe is limitless. I wanted to see whether what we experience as limits, particularly death as an end to all experience, were in fact limits. But I did not want a system of belief—such systems are already available. I wanted something that could be trusted. The something must be our connection to the world which includes our selves. It must be in experience.
A number of literary traditions exult the role of nature. Romanticism in Europe began as a reaction against the prevailing rational ideals; the romantic poets preferred intuition and emotion over reason and the pastoral over the urban. To exalt these themes however is not necessarily to diminish reason. The forest sage is a tradition in India. In Tibetan Buddhism the term ‘Beyul’ refers to a hidden, difficult to reach, and beautiful place or land to which search opens up depth in one’s being that mirrors depth of place. Culture in the form of literature, philosophy, and science have been sources of inspiration and understanding.
Nature has been a source of inspiration for me. It has been a ground of being, portal to the ultimate in emotion and cognition, and a source of explicit inspiration in thought.
I sought to discover the extent of being (use of the word ‘being’ came later). I sought this, first, in science and science based world views and then in what lies beyond. A vehicle for this seemed to lie in the idea of metaphysics. I engaged in materialism, evolutionism, process philosophy, and idealism but found them all wanting especially in that the systems posit substance.
In 1986 I spent two weeks in the Trinity Alps in Trinity County, California. I had been reflecting on the power of evolutionary thinking. Over the two weeks I was inspired to see how I could develop these ideas systematically to develop and understanding of the world and knowledge.
I was aware of and felt that I should address of the criticisms of metaphysics. I recognized that if substance is understood with sufficient generality to be able to provide foundation for all knowledge the different substances would be identical. This motivated the non substance approach from being.
I use ‘being’ in a formal and specific sense in this narrative. In nature I felt that I was in being. One stormy night in the Trinity Alps in 1988 I was inspired to see and elaborate the universe as a conscious organism. I cut my time in the mountains short, came home and wrote my inspiration as an articulated and reasoned piece. I know that my thought was largely an intuition but the work was useful in giving me a framework for and an inroad to a rational and holist understanding of being.
In 1999 I had been thinking of the relation between ‘something and nothing’. That there is something has been a long standing issue in philosophy and science. After abandoning the substance approach (it is essentially incomplete) to understanding being and the universe I had the thought that perhaps completion of understanding might obtain if I could show that the universe is equivalent to the void (and today I know from the universal metaphysics that understanding is complete for depth but ever open in breadth).
One day in the autumn of 1999 I was hiking uphill but around mid-afternoon began to experience the climb as effortless. Amid trees, sunlight, shadows, and brown earth I felt unity with earth, universe, and emptiness of being. This insight was perhaps the result of my thoughts of equivalence (above). This heightened my interest in showing the equivalence of universe and the void.
A suggestion from physics (that matter and its gravitational field can have zero energy) reinforced and may have been at the root of the intuition of the equivalence and gave me the thought that I could prove the equivalence. But I was unable to prove that the universe was equivalent to the void over the period 1998-2002.
However, the present proof is the first instance of a proof.
It is quite different in its manner and object from ‘traditional proofs of God’. Therefore the limitations of those proofs are not limitations of the present proof. It is remarkable that the metaphysics delivers not only proof but also its apparatus. Thus there is no a priori. This shows that the proof is, figuratively, dynamic rather than static and that is precisely the best we expect in an open universe.
The proof and the fact of the proof are immensely empowering in that (1) we know rather than speculate the truth (2) it shows the universe to be ultimate and the metaphysics to be ‘container’ for all knowing and (3) it gives us a ‘computational tool’—the universe is the object of realism.
Then in 2002, I had the insight to focus on the void and its properties. I had again been hiking in the Trinity Alps. I had the insight as, fresh from a two week trip in the mountains, I entered the town of Weaverville at about 6 am one morning. This was the pivotal insight that led to the universal metaphysics.
Having arrived at this insight I began to develop the system. I saw immediately the connection to logic and this led quickly to the main ideas of general cosmology and the relation between personal and universal identity. Development of a secure relation to logic, science and development of the epistemology were slower. Suggestions from science and current philosophy enabled development of the connection to physical cosmology and mind.
The essential incompleteness of the metaphysics for a limited form led from the personal experience of journey to the universality of the idea of journey and to the conclusion that metaphysics will be and can only be completed in action.
In parallel with these developments I realized that there could be no secure basis of the metaphysics in substance (mind, matter, process and so on) and that it remained for the metaphysics to be grounded. I was already familiar with the importance of the idea of being from Greek thought and Heidegger and the significance of experience from personal reflection and reading in the study of mind in modern philosophy including the recent work on ‘consciousness studies’.
Thus motivated I refined my thought on the concepts of being and experience and tailored them to my purpose.
The process has been incremental and is no doubt capable of improvement and further development. No matter my level and clarity of insight there is, it seems, a not yet ending process of insight and clarification.
Yet some shell of the fundamental truths appears to have been attained.
However, as occasioned by the achievement and the desire for its completion, and as outlined in talking of a path, I now turn to action.
I know that nature must be one place to search into being.
My idea of action is that it is bound to ideas. Without ideas, action reduces to ‘mere’ physical process. On the other hand, action is not mere ‘doing’. Action completes ideas, ideas validate action and its meaning. Ideation is action.
I have taken the universal metaphysics to the apparent limit of obvious development. It is given that this is just a beginning for the metaphysics harbors all forms. I have glimmerings and hints from various directions of vast and perhaps difficult depth.
I occasionally reflect on these matters as I prepare for action.
I realize that I should return to nature where I may have inspiration and that is good for nature is also one place that I seek a path of action.
The site above also mentions sources which I have not mentioned here. There are bibliographies that catalog extensive reading and study. I omit all citation but it is clear that I have benefited immensely from exposure to the literature of science, philosophy, and more. I will mention authors who have been significant and whom I am aware of having had explicit influence on the thought of this narrative. I have not and cannot list every influence for I most certainly cannot remember all useful ideas or their authors. I list the authors in chronological order. I have not cited specific references because (1) my reading has been vast and over a long period of time and I have not always maintained a record of particular ideas that have been useful and (2) the main influences are the way in which the authors have conceived their subject, and (3) my aim is the limit of understanding and realization. Thus the following is a list of influences rather than specific citations.
Even though there is value in doing so, I have not provided a detailed list of sources. It may therefore be difficult to distinguish what is original in this narrative. However, it should be clear that even though the fundamental principle has been seen before (the ‘principle of plenitude’), the proof, depth of interpretation, and immensity of consequences are new.
However, I am not concerned to prove originality; my main aim regarding sources is to assist in the forward motion of ideas and being. I leave the question of originality to readers.
The reader may look up original works and encyclopedias in print or on the Internet for further information on the authors and their writing. Discerning what may have had influence on my thought and what may be useful will assist the reader’s process of understanding.
The philosophers include Veda Vyasa (date and authenticity unclear), Thales of Miletus (624-525 BC), Parmenides (dates uncertain, born about 530 BC), Plato (424/423 BC-348/347 BC), Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC), Adi Samkara (788-820), Johannes Scotus Eriugena (815-877), Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), René Descartes (1596-1650), Baruch Spinoza, Baruch (1632-1677), Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716), David Hume (1711-1776), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), Hans Vaihinger (1852-1933), Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), Karl Popper (1902-1994), Ernst Mayr (1904-2005), Carl G. Hempel (1905-1997), Kurt Friedrich Gödel (1906-1978), Willard Van Orman Quine (1908-2000), Herbert A. Simon (1916-2001), John Searle (1932-), Hugh Brody (1943-).
Note that some of the individuals just named are not primarily philosophers but are included because they have written on or are important to philosophy. Perhaps the most influential have been Plato, Samkara, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Popper and, most recently, Hugh Brody. Brody is not a philosopher but his writing has been most useful to me in broadening my understanding of the truth in storytelling—especially in hunter-gatherer societies but also in our modern culture—in a way that does not require retreat to cultural relativism and that has broadened my understanding of thriving ‘ways of being’.
The scientists include Isaac Newton (1642-1727), Charles Darwin (1809-1882), James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Ernst Mayr (1904-2005), and the creators and developers of quantum mechanics and modern physical cosmology.
definition A definition specifies a concept. It does not guarantee an object. Thus the existence of the object must be shown. The means of showing depends on the field.
In mathematics which—in the modern understanding—introduces abstract concepts a preliminary step is to establish or argue or at least hope for consistency; a second step concerns completeness which cannot invariably obtain and this is one way in which mathematics must remain open. What are the objects of mathematics? There are various views but a dominant one is that they are abstract and some thinkers hold that they reside in an ideal world. The present development shows that there is only one universe and mathematical objects reside there (if and only if the concepts are consistent).
In science—in application to a normal world (see ‘normal world’) below the concept must be identified with a normal object which almost invariably entails incomplete precision. What then is the value or point to precise proof? It is of course not clear that proof is universally certain across mathematics despite modern standards of rigor but this is perhaps the field of greatest certainty. What is the value of proof? The first value is the in the integrity (and beauty) of the mathematical systems themselves. A second value is that in application error may arise and it is useful to narrow down its source—particularly that it does not arise in the mathematics.
In the universal metaphysics we have shown that for the basic concepts the level of abstraction is such that the object is given. One exception is the void regarding whose existence we have doubt (which we have seen to be a good thing—at least in an existential sense). However, if the void exists our knowledge of it is perfect and the ultimate universal metaphysics that follows is also perfect. What seems surprising is that the metaphysics—with and without the void—is significant. Reflection removes some of the surprise of the conceptual system but not of the freshness, the wonder, the surprise, and the existential and instrumental challenge of the universe itself
significant meaning When prefixed by the adjective ‘significant’, the sense of ‘meaning’ is the one that occurs in the phrase ‘our search for meaning in life is a lifelong endeavor’. This use of the word meaning important to the journey in being. For the other use of meaning in the narrative, see meaning.
destiny Refers to the part of the future that may be controlled; and conceiving and designing for this future. In standard secular thought the remote future is not in control except perhaps as speculative ‘futurology’. Under the universal metaphysics, the seeming remote but given future is sought in the broadest of strokes. However we can enjoy what is necessary on the way: limitless variety of the journey, an ever changing vision of the universe, and engagement in the endeavor of realization.
rationality Rational action is the best action. That there is one best action—a single path that is the outcome of pure reason is a fiction. Cumulative experience encoded in culture reveals value (what is seen as worthwhile) and means (of achievement). Value is not determinative—it is guiding for there is always choice—which in terms of freshness and power of being is a good thing. Further, imagination is essential to conceiving and charting action and this too is good and is another element in the non determinative character of value and reflection. Values and means are—at least in some directions—not final and so the nature of rational action is also a question of rationality. Further, we do not want to devote too much of our resources to thinking about action and so we are often concerned with ‘good enough’ action. Rationality also applies to knowledge which is a link in the spiral of action. All this presupposes explicit reflection. However, some cultures encode value and means in myth and intuition. The dichotomy of intuition versus reason however is false. Cultures and individuals lie on a continuum. All cultures have some implicit understanding or tradition and all have experiment and reflection. What varies is the emphasis.
knowledge A simple notion of knowledge is that it involves concepts—pictures—of the world. This comes under obvious criticism because not only is much knowledge not perfectly faithful, it is not clear what ‘faithfulness’ would be. Still we have seen that there is a ultimate and perfect universal metaphysics. Other notions of knowledge are practical—that which enables negotiation of the world; and the notion inherent in the idea of being-in-the-world. What we have shown is that the perfect illuminates and frames the rough; that the rough is always tentative and in process (for limited forms); but that the rough is perfect in its own way—it is the essential though always changing instrument of negotiation in the ultimate universe revealed by the perfect.
being That which ‘is’. The word ‘is’ is used in a sense that any range or ranges of time (or, more generally of extensivity). The non esoteric origin of the term is a source of its potential power. Realization of the power is dependent on careful and imaginative use of the concept of being in which it is important to not admit other meanings as constituents of the concept but to allow or reject them as components of being as dictated by critical thought. See pure being.
manifest All being is manifest. We could use ‘being’ to refer also to the absence of being—and even to ‘impossible’ being—and in that case manifest being would be the mark of a non void universe.
experience Introduced as subjective awareness, it’s meaning is extended to the root element that builds up as the varieties of our experience—pure, attitudinal, active, feeling, emotive, conceptual (which includes the perceptual). In any realm where matter is an effective substance, elementary experience is interaction—an effect of one element of matter in the experiencing element. In the universal where there is no substance, experience may be instanced without a material base.
unconscious The unconscious refers to experiences of which we are not immediately aware or to a body state—e.g. something that can be remembered—that may enter or affect experience. In the extended meaning of experience, there is no unconscious.
action Intentional action which requires seeing, envisioning, and reasoned selection from among options. Risk is action.
psychology, the concept The field of psychology is the field of experience—its ranges and unities (see on psychology for details of the ranges). A psychology is a particular theory, representation, or description. See practical psychology.
real world The world which is there regardless of being experienced but which contains experience and is known in experience. The real world is sometimes called the external world.
concept In its main meaning here a concept is any mental content. Primarily used to talk of concepts that refer to objects. Occasionally used informally to talk of a concept as a unit of meaning or ‘higher concept’. Includes percepts, feeling and emotion, and will or choice and knowledge driven action (the phrase is redundant since action is of its nature choice and knowledge driven). The entire range of psychological phenomena including personality fall under ‘concept’.
object What is designated by a purportedly referential concept. If abstracted from this use either by talk of an object in itself or by assuming that a purported reference must refer, paradox may result. An object is not necessarily what we think of as an entity (it may be a process, a property, an interaction, a number of such things regarded as a whole) and it may be concrete or abstract. Under the universal metaphysics these distinctions break down (but do not lose their proximate or practical uses).
meaning When not prefixed ‘significant’, meaning is conceptual or linguistic meaning. This use is crucial to the analyses of the narrative. The use of conceptual or concept meaning here consists in a concept and its object. In linguistic meaning a word or other language form such as a sentence is associated with the concept. If the language form is abstract—i.e. if it has no resemblance to the object, there can be no meaning without association to a concept that is or enables recognition of the object. Language is possible when such association is possible and it derives power (of expression and communication and, in written form, remote communication and transmission) from common contexts of use. An object is not always evident but it seems rare that there is no implied reference in the real or an experiential world. Analysis of meaning is crucial in uncovering paradoxes in language use and in knowledge that we already have. Analysis and synthesis of meaning (being) is the process of developing knowledge (being).
perfectly known objects An object that is perfectly known via its elementary form or by or by abstraction of features that are perfectly known (or by reason including deduction). Examples of the former are being, experience, the real world, and universe; immanent law and logic are examples of the latter. Knowledge of the void is the result of reason.
existence Commonly identical to being. In some uses a distinction arises between being as being-in-itself and existence as being-in-relation. The distinction breaks down in case of perfectly known objects. For other objects what we know is the existing form. If we keep the distinction in mind it does not have quite the significance it might otherwise have for under the universal metaphysics the practical objects are transients within the permanent—practical knowledge is an instrument of ultimate realization.
metaphysics knowledge of being. Metaphysics has been criticized as outside experience and therefore impossible and as too removed from the world to have significance..
universe The universe is all being over all extensivity (extension and duration).
creation A creator is external to the created. Emergence from nothing (regardless whether there is nothing) is not creation. Thus creation is cause in some at least primitive sense. The universe is not created (or destroyed—it may become non-manifest). One region of the universe may create another; or, once created, be involved in creation of its own future.
possibility A context may be defined by its possible states of which only some are realized at a specific time. A state that is possible but not realized in a context only in reference to other but identical contexts (identical in terms of the possible states). For physical possibility the allowed states are defined by physics. The most liberal notion of possibility is logical possibility. For a cosmos, unrealized states are possible if they follow the laws of the cosmos. For the universe, there is no other but identical context; therefore what is not realized is not called possible. For the universe the realized (the actual) and the possible are identical. According to the universal metaphysics possibility is logical possibility.
law Our written laws of nature are what we read or see as patterns (often expressed in abstract terms). The law itself is the immanent version of our reading. In previous versions I have distinguished the immanent versions by calling them ‘Laws’; however, while the distinction is significant it is not necessary to mark it by capitalization. The laws (immanent) have being.
void The void is the absence of being. The void contains no (immanent) law. The void may be regarded as present with every element of being.
fundamental principle The fundamental principle of metaphysics is the demonstrated assertion that the universe realizes all possibilities. It show the universe to be far greater than in the standard cosmologies. Another form of the principle is that the universe is limitless—i.e. that subject to realism (fact—science—and logic provided these are understood to be in process) all conceptual systems are realized.
limit A limit is a possibility that is never realized. According to the fundamental principle the universe has no limits. Therefore every element of being is limitless for if the universe did not confer limitlessness on the element that would be a limit on the universe. It seems that for two distinct elements to be limitless would be a contradiction; however, limitlessness is realized in unification with all being.
limitless universe According to the fundamental principle the universe has no limits; stated in instrumental terms—the only constraints on realization of the system of concepts is realism or logic.
possibilistic universe The universe realizes all possibilities. The meaning is the same as that of ‘limitless universe’.
emergence The term ‘emergent’ has a range of common connotations. Thus on some views of materialism, mind is not present in elementary matter but emerges at some level of organization of matter. Here, in a not unrelated sense, the void does not cause manifest being; rather manifest being (necessarily) emerges from the void.
determinism A world is temporally deterministic when its present state at any time determines its state at all future times. A more general sense of determinism appropriate to a context that is not entirely temporal is when a part of the universe determines the entire universe. The universe is absolutely indeterministic in that from any state, any other state may emerge. However, it is also absolutely deterministic in that all states will emerge.
deterministic basis Classical physics is deterministic and the deterministic basis for prediction is the state of the world at any given time—a ‘slice in time’. Although our normal description of the world may not be deterministic there is some predictability to it. The deterministic basis is the base data for prediction. What is it? Perhaps, again, a slice in time. However, we are interested in projection from the normal to the entire universe. Sufficiently far from our world in extension—‘space and time’—the information in our world is entirely lost (if all possibilities are realized). A deterministic basis occurs in and pertains to normal worlds. The situation is more complex than that for there must be continuity of identity. The way in which this obtains is not clear even though quantum mechanics has suggestions regarding physical identity of indistinguishable systems of particles. The question of identity despite information loss is important and likely difficult. It is likely that there must be some balance between loss and growth; that the universe is perhaps never an isolated point even in the void state (how remains a problem to conceptualize); and that information gain (self adaptation, intelligence) balance loss—but how?
universal metaphysics A perfect metaphysics of universal scope that is founded in and deduced via perfect objects. This metaphysics is a container—conceptual and practical—for the practical or approximately known but significant objects of our world. The practical are instruments of living in the world and of realization of and toward the ultimate. In a number of significant situations, the metaphysics permits perfect knowledge of some practical features; in all cases the metaphysics adds an ultimate color to their significance.
abstract object From the fundamental principle all conceptual systems are realized subject to minimal realism. Therefore all objects are in the universe; there is no conceptual divide between abstract and concrete objects. There are practical differences in how we experience and how we study them. This already shows that logic and mathematics are empirical.
logic We have seen that the truths of logic pertain to all worlds while the truths of science pertain to some worlds. This is one way in which logic and science have unity. However the method of science is said to be induction while that of logic is deduction. This is based on improper analogy for arriving at a scientific theory or logic is inductive while arriving at consequences under science and logic is deductive. This unity of science and logic may be called Logic.
realism Possibility cannot violate facts which includes the theories of science interpreted as facts for a fixed domain (where their truth is that they precisely specify a small range within which events occur). Possibility cannot violate the valid principles of logic. These constraints are not limits. Together they constitute realism or ‘logical realism’.
logical realism See logic and realism.
empirical The term is not used in the sense of knowledge by sense perception alone. It means that all knowledge, even symbolic forms such as logic and mathematics, must and do refer to the world (even when we do not see the object). However the symbolic forms are not empirical in the way that science is. We can see that they must be experimental because they did not spring into culture fully formed—they may seem that way on account of remote (even evolutionary) origin. But we do see that the origin of new systems of mathematics and logic depends on indirect contact with the real—e.g. by checking for consistency and by direct contact in their application to objects that we experience as concrete. Logic and mathematics do not have precise purchase that they seem to when we recognize that their conclusions apply to precisely to concrete objects only insofar as those objects are precisely as idealized. Even the perfect objects are perfect only in their perfect empirical knowledge.
normal world The metaphysics seems to violate the facts of our world which, in secular thought, confines us in various ways. In fact the metaphysics requires such normal worlds. What is changed is that the limits of the world (which are not the constraints of logic on concepts) that may have seemed necessary are in fact contingent and that they will be overcome but the overcoming is a function of knowledge and process.
science and logic Science and logic are not of the universe but of knowledge of the universe. The truths of logic are universal, those of science are local. The constraints of logic are on the freedom of concept formation; they are not limits on being. The limits of science are local, not universal. The universal metaphysics shows that for a finite being, science must always be in process; it strongly suggests the same for logic and mathematics.
science of possibility Another term for Logic (to which our logic is an approximation). The purpose to the alternate term is that it suggests limitless complexity, intricacy, subtlety and perhaps also reduction of the same by insight.
death A very real but not absolute limit. One gate to the ultimate. A spur to realization in this life. See reckoning with death.
pain May be seen as part of the condition of realization. Complement to enjoyment. We may learn from pain. Not to be recklessly cultivated but certainly not to be avoided at all cost.
suffering That part of pain that is may be removed by correct knowledge.
identity Sense of sameness or self (sense of sameness of self is personal identity). The universal metaphysics implies that the universe has identity.
personality Includes identity, integration, and memory and their arcs.
cosmology General cosmology concerns the variety, extension, and duration of being and identity in the universe. The fundamental facts of cosmology are its limitlessness and that the universe has acute, diffuse, and absent phases of being and identity.
civilization The web of human cultures across time and continents is civilization; Civilization is the matrix of human and other civilizations across the Universe. Universal Civilization is one part of an approach to ultimate identity.
sameness Difference and sameness are fundamental duals—i.e. they are irreducible to anything simpler and each concept entails the other.
difference See sameness.
extensivity Characteristic of a region in which there are differences in identity. The narrative argues that extension and duration are the only extensivities. However dimensionality, fixed or fluid of form or number, is not required except that when it obtains it would seem to be greater than zero.
extension Marked by different identities.
duration Marked by differences for a given identity.
space and time Measures of extension and duration, respectively. The general incomplete distinction between space and time (so space-time) is shown in the narrative.
time See space and time.
mind Experience of the ranges and unities of experience give rise to the idea of mind. However, it is not part of the concept that mind has or gives rise to experience (such use is metaphorical). Mind is experience—in its ranges, varieties, and unities. See psyche.
psychology See psychology under experience.
substance What makes an entity the entity that it is: in the history of metaphysics it is the substance or essence of the entity. The substance of all being has been thought to be that unchanging and ultimately simple (uniform) stuff that is the generator of all being and change. The universal metaphysics shows that the universe has no stuff—all its states are fundamental though some are more remarkable (regions of the universe may have as if substance). The metaphysics also shows that an entity has no need for substance—it is best understood as its own substance or form (there are however practical candidates for substance such as atoms or molecules for crystals and DNA for living forms).
attribute Spinoza remarked that our being is characterized by thought and extension and argued (on some interpretations) that these are the first two terms of an infinite series of attributes of God. ‘Attribute’ is close to substance in meaning. The narrative shows that there are no such attributes (but each of the given two may have varieties and qualities without limit).
physical cosmology The cosmology of our cosmos has often been equated in ancient and modern times to the cosmology of the universe. Today’s secular and scientific cosmology is physical cosmology for which there is consensus on the big bang origin and sequel but no consensus on its origin down to or before ‘time zero’ or on what lies outside empirical borders on large and small scales. The conceptual bases of cosmology—general relativity, quantum theory, and elementary particle theory—are not known to be complete with regard to the elements or their laws (in particular they do not extrapolate down to time zero where they predict a singularity in the form of an infinity).
power Degree of limitlessness. There universe has absolute power—there are no limits to its power.
individual It is a consequence of the universal metaphysics that the power of the universe is conferred on the individual. The ‘task’ of the individual is to live well in two worlds—the immediate and the ultimate.
journey in being While in limited form realization is an endless journey that is ever fresh and limitless in variety.
realization Realizing of a possible outcome. Refers here to realization of the ultimate; and to the process of being along the way.
elements The elements of realization are those whose consideration is effective to realization.
discipline A discipline is a received body of knowledge or transforming activity. There are no ultimate disciplines. However the disciplines are useful alongside the elements under a mechanics of realization.
psyche Another term for mind that emphasizes its integration. Therefore while it includes the variety of mental phenomena, it emphasizes the self or person and is not separated from the unconscious or body. See mind.
mechanics The essential mechanics is of risk, reflection, and incremental consolidation.
religion An ideal—religion is use of all dimensions of being in the realization of all being—particularly in being on the way to ‘highest’ being. Actual religions are approximations and, as social institutions, have other characteristics. However it is a perhaps unrealistic ideal that the ideal should not involve economics and politics and perhaps the non political front of religion (remember that realization is a material endeavor) is simply a façade to guile us. If religions are corrupt it is well to remember that all institutions need renewal and religion may be particularly susceptible to corruption on account of the façade it ‘must’ maintain.
psychology, practical A good psychology, formal or informal, is effective in living in the present and in realization. Practical psychology for this purpose in this narrative is guided by discussions of the meaning of the metaphysics, values, the concept of psychology, eclectic selection from psychologies from a range of cultures, reflection, and experiment with concepts and action.
way Disciplined approach to transformation—the received integrated with the experimental (the mechanics).
catalyst Precipitant of real change. Often but not necessarily acute, shocking, and cathartic. If not integrative in itself integration may be the outcome of healing, ways, and the mechanics.
path Particular journey and sequence on the way to realization. Experimental, reflective, and revisable.
design Conceiving, planning, a path. Revision after experiment is part of most design. Principles are as always a mix of the foregoing (elements, disciplines, mechanics, ways, catalysts) and (to repeat even though it is implicit in the elements etc.) and reflection, imagination, criticism, experiment, and repetition with increment.
sustaining Be-ing; living in the present which is of course connected to the ultimate; daily activities; needs for life and living well; and design and planning.
transformation Becoming via ideas and action. The emphases in my path are ideas, individual, civilization, and artifact.
civilizing Populating the universe so that it becomes a web of acutely experiential being. The web may be very thin population; a dense population is not necessary for significance and ‘thinness’ may well be most significant when there is some balance between preservation and communication. Civilization nurtures individuals, individuals foster civilization and realization. Civilization is not used in an exclusive sense that emphasizes development (agriculture and industry) over—or under—use and preservation (hunting and gathering). Civilizing is a shared activity that overlaps individual transformation.
world, this Ground of being and becoming—nature and civilization. “Not important in itself only in the way that the ultimate is not important in itself: the immediate and the ultimate are inseparable—without the horizon there is no sky.”
artifact Artifactual transformation is change physical and body level; the means of artifact are called technology. Symbolic and experiment; adjunct to living well in this world and civilizing the universe.
return Coming back to live in the world. Sharing in the world. Sharing the world and the outcome of the journey.
pure being Now as eternal. In process if to be more than an ideal. Criteria for being—enjoyment of the world and usefulness toward shared goals.
reckoning with death Living in awareness, not avoidance. Living in awareness of finitude as an opportunity to real accomplishment in this world and toward the ultimate. Living in awareness death as a real end to what we have loved but also as gate to the ultimate.
Internet editions do not have an index.
My father was Bengali, my mother British. I was born and grew up in India. I spent two years as a child in Britain. I have lived in the United States (Delaware, New York, Texas, and California) since 1970. I have traveled in India and Britain, and—extensively in the wild places and cultures—of the United States of America and Mexico. I have had interests and careers in many and varied fields. I value my multi-cultural heritage and range of experience.
My parents were quite different—to me my father, a professor of naval architecture, was a serious and stern disciplinarian; my mother loved literature and the arts and encouraged enjoyment and liberal thought. Who I am now initially developed against this background.
One of my earliest recollections is a visit with my parents to hot springs in Bihar. I thrilled to the primitive setting of the pool and its surrounding of distant hills. For me, nature has been and remains ground and inspiration.
In school my interests and abilities emerged in literature, history, evolutionary biology, mathematics, physics and chemistry. I went to university in India and the United States where I got a PhD in engineering. I maintained technical proficiency but my interests were in physics, mathematics, and the main branches of philosophy. I developed the habit of independent thought even though its early expression is not memorable.
My careers (university research and teaching, restaurant business, mental health) spanned thirty one years till 2009 when independent income made work no longer necessary.
I now live in Northwest California. My home is a mile from the Pacific Ocean. I have lived here for thirty years. I might move inland to be nearer to the mountains.
I began my present mode of thought and writing in 1985. In 2002 I entered my present constructive—imaginative and critical—phase. My ideas dictate that they are essentially incomplete without being continued in action. This is the juncture at which I am today.
My hope is to make explicit progress in realization (over what is already implicit in living—even living well).
In youth we often feel infinite. This may be encouraged by wonder and made possible by the distance of the reality of death. Somewhere around sixty I became finite. That is a good thing because it channeled my effort. Death is real. The thought of death has been a focusing influence. But death is also a gateway. In being engaged in my work and through its discoveries I have regained a new sense of infinitude—an aware one that recognizes death.
My desire to live can be expressed as a criterion. I should have at least the prospect of being useful or of enjoying my life. But I should say more. My enjoyment should not have a negative impact. And mere usefulness is empty for consider a situation where everyone is ‘useful’ but no one has any enjoyment. Two approaches to the ‘problem’ of mere usefulness are (1) How I live my life now, and (2) Mutual action toward a greater being—i.e., being on the way.
Comment. Note—invitation to preface, introduction, andor back cover?
I would like end with an invitation. Psyche and sharing (community) are both essential to my journey—to realization. I wish to share—but my wish is more than functional: I desire to share. My invitation to others is to share the journey of realization. I would like to share my endeavor with those who, regardless of their views, would contribute positively, significantly, and supportively to the journey.
Sunday, July 09, 2017