The Way of Being
Anil Mitra, Copyright © February 2015—August 2015
The Way of Being
This essay abbreviates the essential way of being which has details of argument and development.
Here, SMALL CAPITALS will mark significant terms, especially definitions.
The preface tells the reader briefly about the essay—the content, who it may be for, and how to read it. The introduction paves the way into the essay; it shows motivations and origins and provides background. It is efficient that there should be some overlap between preface and introduction.
As we go about our lives as human beings, communities, and the one human civilization, some of us are satisfied with the world of common experience—routine social activities and received ways of betterment. Overlapping this, others have a special emphasis on going beyond the regular and the received.
We may enquire of the highest or ultimate aim of our being and to what extent it is to be found and to what extent created. The overlap just mentioned includes that the ultimate begins in and meshes with the immediate.
A primary aim of this essay is to investigate the nature of this ultimate and how to approach it. Later this aim will translate by derivation from principles into the following form:
The aim of the way of being is to be in a process of discovery and realization of the ultimate from and in the immediate.
Received or standard worldviews
When explicit such aims may be systematized by a worldview understood as an iconic-conceptual picture of the universe. Tacit views are always present; it will enhance the process by recognizing them and merging with an explicit system forged from imagination and criticism.
The received worldviews and ways fall into two main kinds—the secular that emphasizes the immediate, the empirical and the material that, today, emphasize a scientific worldview; and the trans-secular that emphasizes the secular and more: worlds beyond, the conceptual, and the ideal; these are often but not invariably the religious cosmologies. The categories of knowing emphasized by the secular way are the sensible or material. The trans-secular uses these kinds as well but it emphasizes the ideal or spiritual.
The traditional forms of these approaches are limited (in the essay ‘tradition’ will be understood as what is valid in disciplines of knowledge and practice from ancient times to the present). There is a twentieth and twenty first century secular view that is a default in that it is widely and effectively held even where there is no explicit subscription to it. This secular default may be called naturalistic—i.e., it holds that a worldview founded in science so far shows the essential nature of the universe. However, we do not know this. It is entirely consistent with science and reason that the universe is as we see in the empirical domain but vastly greater and different beyond that domain (it is, of course, not argued that consistency with the empirical implies validity).
The trans-secular may accept the empirical side of the secular in the empirical domain but points to the greater possibility. The trans-secular approaches include the religions and philosophical metaphysics. Religious cosmologies may be regarded as literal or allegorical but the former are limited and or contradictory and the latter inadequate as cosmology. Traditional philosophical metaphysics is hypothetical but unlike science which should test its hypotheses empirically and conceptually, much of traditional rational metaphysics is overly speculative on the empirical side and often inadequately critical on the conceptual side. However, the impulse to go beyond the secular default is valid at least as exploration of an unknown of significant promise.
Except in fantasy, the secular and trans-secular have a rational side. Even in fantasy, the trans-secular interpreted non literally but as simply pointing beyond the secular has a rational aspect.
However, all these received views have limits. Desirable features of explanation are simplicity and confirmation of the explanation (or, at least, absence of non disconfirmation in face of continued experience) and completeness of what is explained. When a trans-secular view posits an uncaused cause of the universe the appeal is to an explanation that is less simple than the explained; thus the trans-secular may explain everything at the expense of the assumption of a poorly known and hypothetical first cause. Science appeals to the simple but even in simplicity it remains hypothetical and is far from being known to be complete (even on its own principles).
Essentially all received views have the limit that there foundation is not absolute. That is the foundation is non relative but hypothetical or relative in the sense of ever referring to foundation.
If there is no way out of this non absoluteness of foundation then it is a virtue to accept it in principle but not in practice until we know that we have arrived at some ultimate limit of knowledge.
We now take up the question of the possibility of absolute foundation. What we will find in the end is a simple but deep though incomplete absolute foundation. This is complemented by detailed knowledge systems whose foundations remain ever incomplete and whose precision never guaranteed to be perfect but for which the ideal, in meshing with the absolute, is that such perfection is never needed and the mesh is perfect in terms of our best relations to the ultimate and the immediate.
Going beyond: method and content
Any cosmology must agree with our empirical cosmology in its empirical domain. However, it is consistent with science and reason that the domain of what lies outside is vastly greater in extent, duration and variety. Questions that then arise are (1) Can we say and show anything valid about the greater universe and (2) How can we show such validity? That is, it possible to go validly beyond science to make definite and valid assertions about the region beyond? Traditions of metaphysics in philosophy have long attempted to do so. However, in the modern era this tradition has been criticized as going beyond experience and into a realm of mere speculation. An attempt to go beyond the secular must answer to this charge.
The answer in this essay may begin with a consideration of the success and limits of science. The limits of any science that would be universal, e.g. physics, is that the confirmable base of fact or data is small; extension just beyond the empirical is likely but extension to the universe is unjustified. So explanation (theory) that purports to the universal can be disconfirmed but not confirmed. Why then is there confidence in theories? It is because (a) science does capture local patterns and (b) the theories considered valid are just those that have so far withstood extension of the empirical boundary (experiment).
In contrast to science and prior metaphysics, the foundation of the metaphysics of the essay begins with simple objects—experience, being, and so on. As understood here, the objects are so simple that object (fact, data) and concept are equivalent—there is no theory. Though it may seem trivial, the simple foundation results in the immensely powerful metaphysics described in subsequent paragraphs.
Some appropriately and simply conceived objects of the metaphysics are as follows. Being is crucial because it does not differentiate between kinds and therefore while it is problematic to say all is matter or that there is matter it is trivial that there is being and that all is or has being. The universe is conceived as all being (over entirety, including all space and time). This, too, is crucial. While we obviously do not know the universe in the sense of detail we do know the universe as universe—and that it exists. Some further concepts appear italicized in the following paragraph. What is remarkable is that these concepts are so simple that the perception and the conception coincide and carry with them their own foundation. Further the reasoning from them (below) is so simple and transparent that the development is at once one of content and method (when the bare approach is extended to our world of detail, an alternative and adequate criterion for knowledge will enable the extension of this foundation; though approximate, the extended foundation is perfect in that it is in the nature of being that no ultimate precision here is possible or necessary).
The worldview of the essay
Though apparently trivial, this meager beginning enables demonstration of a powerful metaphysics. It may be useful to preview the demonstration leaving careful development to the essay. It goes thus: the natural laws are patterns; so the laws have being; defined as absence of being the void exists ‘alongside’ any element of being; there are no natural laws in the void; therefore any conceptual state is realized for the contrary would be a law in the void (this is subject of course to empirical and internal consistency—the former is science and the latter is logic). That is, the void realizes all possibility in the greatest sense of possibility.
It follows that the universe is the realization of all possibility in its greatest sense. This is called the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
Consequences for ideas and knowledge
The first consequence is the development of an ultimate metaphysics that carries with it its own foundation which is possible from its grounded and simple character (extended to the practical realm as noted above).
This has immense consequences for knowledge developed in Part I of the essay.
Consequences for realization
It follows that individuals realize this possibility for the contrary would imply that the universe is not the realization of all possibility.
What is the nature of this realization? We do achieve the peak of being but while in limited form it must be a process that is without end and without limit in extent and variety.
The central view of realization is that of the individual realizing the universe: individual being (mind-heart-body) and beings merging with the universal in its process through emergence, peak, and dissolution. However, the individual is not alone; there is a context: the primitive ground or nature, the group which includes society and culture (including knowledge, practice, and method), the total movement as civilization, psyche, and the universal ground.
Everyday and universal process
This suggests a search for or journey to the ultimate. This is taken up in the part on realization under ‘universal process’.
In view of earlier comments on meshing the immediate and the ultimate it is reasonable to expect that the universal should be complemented by everyday practice. What does this term really mean?
Everyday practice has two interacting components. One is how we conduct daily lives in best relation to the ultimate and the immediate. The second is time set aside for ‘practice’ in which the mind and body undergo training for as well as contemplation on what it means and takes to approach the ultimate. The contemplation is critical for there are no ultimate experts and even if there were, contemplation would be necessary to begin to ascend to their level. Everyday practice is crucial; it begins with living well in the present; it is conducive to understanding and engaging in universal process. My experience is that in beginning and undertaking daily practice now, I begin to experience the ultimate in the everyday which also anchors the bridge to the ultimate.
The introduction is followed by two main parts. In both parts I draw from the tradition and incorporate some of its elements. Other sources for the development are cumulative experience, imagination, criticism, and experiment.
Part I of the essay, Ideas, sets up the conceptual apparatus, demonstrates the fundamental principle, develops a consequent non-speculative universal metaphysics (also called the metaphysics) and cosmology; it takes up some consequences for philosophy, science, and other traditional disciplines. Consequences include (1) resolution of a number of so far unresolved but significant issues of the disciplines and (2) a mesh of the metaphysics with tradition (the mesh is that of an ultimate metaphysical framework shown to be perfect in its representation and tradition in process which is always incomplete but as such perfect as instrument toward the ultimate).
Importantly, the first part essential preliminaries to an ideal and practical approach to realization.
Part II, The way, derives parameters of an approach to realization, organizes them as a system, and develops an approach that I have been using. I have developed the approach in sufficient detail that it may be adapted to the purposes of individuals and civilization.
It is intended that the essay be adaptable as a practical instrument. For convenience in the adaptation, the second part is followed by appendices: the first is on resources and resource development and the second is a template that readers may adapt for their own use.
Each chapter will have a summary with primary definitions and results; the summary will be followed by detailed sections to include motivation, proof, doubt, explanation, ramification and application, pertinence to the aim, sources and other material as appropriate.
Interest in the ideas
Interest in realization
Anticipating the nature of a work may save effort in understanding. It is therefore important for the reader to see that while I draw on earlier sources, the work presents material that is significantly new and that the newness is such that absorption of the material will require of most modern readers that they reeducate their view of the world and their intuition in so far as it is based in the family of received notions that constitute our modern understanding of the world.
Still, the development is not a full break with tradition. I introduce some new concepts, find some concepts from the tradition useful but discard others. It is crucial to see that the concepts from tradition are used with new meaning; this is inevitable since meanings do not occur in isolation but in relation to context or worldview. In transition from an older worldview to a newer one, old terms may be retained but their meaning necessarily changes. Further, that meanings are achieved in relation to a context implies that the system of meaning is new. Readers should anticipate that time and effort may be required to absorb the new view at both formal and intuitive levels.
To absorb a new view it is helpful to see its main contours. However, once the view is absorbed as a whole a raft of questions is likely to remain. Reading the work two times will be effective. The first reading would be to absorb the main ideas; this may leave questions of detail and consistency which may be addressed by re-reading. The organization of the essay—the preview, identification of topics and themes, chapter summaries, and other resources are designed to assist with understanding and absorption.
The themes are broad and significant topics whose development unfolds with the development of the main ideas. The intent is that the first treatment of a theme will be from what is required to establish the concepts. Then, as the ideas are developed, their implications for the theme are taken up. As an example, the ideas of space and time are developed from sameness and difference in experience. It is possible from the initial development to show that space and time are the only measures of extension; however it does not follow that they are universal, that they are or are not interwoven (it is seen that they may be), that they are discrete or vague, or that they are relative or absolute in nature. Later, when the concept of ‘universe’ is formulated, conclusions are drawn about their relative versus absolute character (it is found that they are relative but may behave locally as if absolute); still later when the universal metaphysics is established it is seen to trivially follow that while there must be phases of space, time, matter as described in Einstein’s theories such behavior is not and cannot be universal.
New: realization, ultimate being, experience; substance and anti-substance (no preferred explanation) and consequences for categories; doubt and certainty—and method and the a priori (this may be old).
Unlike the themes, the topics are treated at one place in the essay. They are issues that arise in relation to the main development and are worthy of separate mention.
New: add civilization; add system of human knowledge (comprehensive).
The introduction paves the way into the essay; it shows motivations and origins and provides background.
The origin and motive has always been in the beauty of the world—nature, people, ideas, and culture—and in the excitement of discovery and creation. The wonder I have felt is motive and impulse enough to cultivate and sustain the loveliness, to any ultimate beyond the immediate.
In the beginning the aim was tacit. It was expressed in reading, reflection, and writing. As my thought advanced, a worldview took on concrete form (the preface) and this enabled explicit formulation of an aim as the aim:
The AIM of the way of being is to know the range of being and to realize its highest immediate and ultimate forms.
It is effective to state the aim at outset. However, the aim did not arise as a statement ex nihilo. Rather, it follows from the worldview—the universal metaphysics—of the narrative as perhaps the greatest aim of being. Therefore the aim will be shown later in the essay to arise naturally from the worldview. Perhaps the most effective place to set the aim is between the two main parts of the essay—between the ideas and the way.
The world has been my main source. My cultural sources are reading and discussion in interaction with reflection, direct as well as cumulative experience and sharing (publishing) my thoughts.
I see the aim as a personal movement placed in a context of the movement of civilization and the universe.
The family in which I grew up professed no official faith. My father declared himself an atheist, my mother believed in a universal force. My brother and I were not inculcated into any faith. My education was in science and engineering. I was exposed to more than one system of faith but it was natural for me to begin adulthood as a secular thinker.
Thus I absorbed a tacit worldview that may be called naturalism which is the view that the universe is essentially as seen in science and is discovered as in science as a mix of creative ideas and empiricism. Within naturalism there is a range of thought on the significance and nature of human being. I came to the liberal view that we are more than the mechanism that is sometimes associated with science.
In my pre-critical period, I accepted naturalism more or less naïvely. This is the case for so many people today who are economically and intellectually privileged by the circumstances of their birth and youth. However, I think it is true to say that I always reserved some doubt regarding naturalism. Science is not a necessary deduction from observation; it projects conceptual schemes on the results of observations. It does so effectively, so it is natural that it should reveal real patterns in and just beyond the empirical boundary. However, it does not at all follow that the universe is as revealed in empirical science with regard to extent or variety.
In the beginning of the development of my thought, this possible to probable incompleteness of naturalism was but an idea, a doubt. The cultural religious-spiritual and other alternatives that spoke to our inner being barely spoke of any realistic cosmology.
In the beginning, therefore, my cosmology was scientific cosmology together with the doubt mentioned above. In my development I tried out a range of paradigms: materialism and evolutionism; idealism of substance and absolute types; process synthesis of materialism and idealism. I did not find these satisfactory; I found, as have others, that while materialism and idealism seem different they are not necessarily so and that all methods had hypothetical substances of some type. That is, while they are amenable to the process of hypothesis and deduction, none of them rose above that process. I was concerned with the questions whether it is possible to rise above the generally hypothetical approach (speculative even if empirical) of most science, religion, and metaphysics; and given the incompleteness and errors of those approaches what the universe is really like. I asked myself what is the greatest that the universe may be and what and how may I know of that? Intuition provided a hint: if the universe and the void are equivalent then we may arrive at a metaphysics without substance and a view that the universe is the greatest possible. Physics suggested that the hint may be realistic: the creation of matter with gravitation ex nihilo need not contradict conservation of energy for the positive energy of matter may be balanced by the negative energy of gravitation. Of course, neither the intuition nor the physics constituted proof but these thoughts set me on a path to search for a proof of equivalence of the universe and the void.
I attempted without success to prove that properties of the universe make it equivalent to the void (perhaps quantum theory suggests this but does not provide proof—especially as quantum theory does not provide for a void, its closest equivalent is the quantum vacuum which is not the void at all; and, in any case, quantum theory does not rise above hypothesis). Finally, I had the insight to see that I should focus on the properties of the void. This was the turning point that enabled the universal metaphysics. The development is outlined in the preview and detailed in the body of the essay and therefore does not need to be recounted here. It should be mentioned however that the proof was accompanied by much doubt especially on its own merits and because it needed to be squared with science and cumulative experience; and that the consequences of the proof and the metaphysics are immense and varied. The main consequences relative to the aim of this essay is that, as it is claimed in the Vedanta and Bhagavad-Gita of India, the individual and the universe are ultimately identical (and that there is a way to realize this identity which, while our form remains limited, is eternal process). This is expressed in a classic western formulation of an Indian idea: Atman is equivalent to Brahman, that is, the true self and ultimate reality are identical.
The ground from which the development springs is stated in the preview. Here is a brief recapitulation.
The general motivation is a concern with the universe as a whole—with our immediate lives and its relation to and potential for the ultimate.
We are part of a civilization that has emphasized this motive. The recognition of and action toward the motive is often but not always explicit. The major views regarding the universe and our place in it fall into one of two kinds—the secular and the trans-secular. Although not intrinsically limited, the standard expressions of the kinds tends to be significantly though often tacitly limited. The secular limits arise from a convention—perhaps it is a desire—to not go beyond the empirical even though even in secular terms the empirical may be severely limited. The secular suggests that it is impossible to go realistically beyond its empirical domain but what we will find is that there is a confusion of the what constitutes the empirical. The trans-secular does talk of regions beyond the secular but its cosmology can hardly be said to be either whole or realistic.
The received secular and trans-secular views constitute a background to the ideas of the essay. The secular is limited as stated above and the trans-secular does not provide a realistic account of what lies beyond secular limits. Both secular and trans-secular are immensely imaginative and suggestive; however, there is general failure to capitalize on these strengths and there is a tendency to acquiesce in the putative limits of our worldviews.
I said above there is a confusion as to what the domain of the empirical is. Clearly we do not know the detailed nature of the universe beyond the empirical. However, we commonly think that we are inevitably saddled with a distorted view of things—this thought arises from the thought that the experience of a thing and the thing are not the same and therefore the experience may be incomplete and or inaccurate (if indeed accuracy has meaning). A problem with much critical thought is that it is uncritical with respect to its own premises: it tends to regard criticisms that are valid in some cases of knowledge claims as extending to all cases. Thus while much experience may be seen as distorted, the fact that there is being is not a distortion. And while we cannot claim to have detailed experience outside empirical realms, we can know that there is a universe defined as all being which may or may not extend near or far beyond the empirical domain. These observations may seem trivial but they constitute the beginning of a powerful and well founded metaphysics that shows the universe to be the realization of al possibility. Though the initial observations are trivial in being obvious their implications are immense in magnitude and quality.
‘EXPERIENCE’ is a name for awareness in all its forms.
As presence, experience is given: there is experience.
The essence of Descartes’ famous cogito argument is to exemplify this given character.
Experience is of a REAL WORLD that includes experience.
That which never affects experience has no significance. The real world is indifferent to its acceptance or denial. Fundamentally, the SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE merge.
Sameness versus difference is the most elementary experience.
SAMENESS is (sense of) sameness of an object.
DIFFERENCE is the most elementary pattern.
EXTENSIONALITY (different from extension) refers to modes of difference—with or without sameness.
Consequently, while the world is not necessarily marked by extension and duration, there are no further markers of extensionality. Extensionality is IMMANENT in the world and its two modes may be intertwined inasmuch as the modes of difference are not distinguished; and to the degree that identity is indefinite, space-time phases of the world may merge with phases marked by absent to minimal extensionality.
ENTIRETY is the whole world—the whole that is marked by extensionality (over all time and space) and the rest.
Alternatively, being is that which exists.
The universe has being.
A DOMAIN is a definite part of the universe (‘definite part’ means that given some situation we can tell whether it is or is not in the domain). The universe is a domain.
If CREATION is formation by another entity, the universe was not and cannot have been created. ‘Gods’ are logically possible but they are part of the universe; they may logically be implicated in creation of another part and the perfection of any part (the significance of the last assertion—including the meaning of ‘perfection’—is evaluated in the chapter on cosmology).
Generally, possibility is a LIMIT on the world and a CONSTRAINT on ideas that are realizable under the given kind of possibility. Of all kinds of possibility, the kind that is not a limit on the world but only a constraint on the realizability of ideas is the most liberal kind of possibility and is called LOGIC.
A natural law defines a kind of possibility: some states, processes, patterns do not violate it; some do.
Though such violations are hard to imagine visually, they are easy to specify in language. Examples are ‘an apple that is eternally and entirely green not green’ and ‘a square circle’. The requirement of logical possibility is not a limit on the world but a constraint on concepts for realizability (this ‘liberal’ nature of language is an aspect of the freedom of concept formation necessary for creative thought; it is not a defect but obviously it may result in invalid—unrealized and unrealizable—specifications of the world). Perhaps we could define the critical side of thought as the evaluation of validity of the products of the imaginative side (because critical and imaginative thought do not arise ex nihilo, they must originate together and interactively).
Logic has universal application; unless shown otherwise more restrictive possibility such as that of a natural law is at most of local application.
Perhaps the world extends to a place where the known natural laws do not apply. However, the world does not extend to a place that logic does not apply; the imagined world that extends to such a place is never realized. Natural laws define local or (better) contingent impossibility; logic defines impossibility that transcends all contingency.
We have our world. That the great world as a union of worlds each expressing and the expression of local law while the law of the great world is logic was imagined in the previous paragraph. What is the reality of the great world? Is it any greater than our world? It may be limitlessly greater without violating realism; however this does not imply that it is greater. These issues are addressed in the fundamental principle and subsequent discussion. There it is found that the great world, i.e. the universe, is the world of all possibility.
Realism defines the most liberal externally (roughly, fact including local science) and internally (roughly, logic) consistent universe. The degree of liberality of that universe is explored in what follows, especially the discussions of metaphysics and cosmology.
Why is the word ‘roughly used in the previous paragraph? It is because while the concepts of logic and science appear to be sound, there specific forms are rough and / or incomplete.
If the universe is non-manifest it is the void. If the universe is manifest a void may be considered attached to every existing part of the universe for no difference is made to the part.
Effectively, therefore, the void exists—that is:
Particularly, given a void state of the universe, manifestation must emerge; and given a manifest state of the universe it must become the void
The universe is the realization of a realism whose first approximation has a universal part that is our systems of logic and a local part that is our systems of science.
The phrase ‘all possibility’ raises concerns. One is that a more careful formulation is necessary for the notion of ‘all’ easily engenders paradox (the universe cannot itself be paradoxical; therefore paradox arises in the assumption that apparently well formed but in fact unrealistic concepts are realized). The kind of care is roughly of the same kind needed to avoid the paradoxes associated with set theory and the assumption that arbitrary statements have reference (the set of all sets with ‘set’ interpreted naïvely is unrealistic in the foregoing sense). Another concern is how all possibility may be realized. Perhaps there are domains outside the empirical cosmos where limitless variety and extension are realized. How does that change or (better) merge with our fate or destiny? Only by later or earlier connection; thus time is implicated. Imagine possibility x that is not realized in this phase of our empirical cosmos; however, as the cosmos merges with or dissolves into wider being all x within realism are realized.
With ‘perfect’ as PERFECT REPRESENTATION, metaphysical knowledge is clearly beyond possibility for all objects; from this, critical thought of the modern era in the western tradition has often concluded that metaphysics is impossible—which of course, since knowledge and knowledge claims are in the universe, is a metaphysical statement showing (a) the possibility of some metaphysics (if the claim is true it is metaphysics, if not there is some other metaphysics) and (b) the propensity of critical schools to extend criticism of some knowledge to all knowledge. But the burden of proof, if knowledge would be secure, must be placed on the claim of knowledge. From the criticism above, we clearly cannot have perfectly representational metaphysics for the entire universe. However, we have seen in previous chapters that experience as experience, real world as real world, difference as difference, extensionality as extensionality, identity as identity, entirety as entirety, being as being, universe as universe, domain as domain, law as law, void as void, and realism obtain and are known perfectly. These notions and others defined in terms of them or otherwise identified as known perfectly constitute a system of perfectly known objects. They are the beginning of a metaphysical system; the part so far, the perfectly representational, may be called pure metaphysics.
The system that began with experience defines a metaphysics that will be called the universal metaphysics and abbreviated the metaphysics. We know the perfectly represented objects both directly and indirectly. However, under the metaphysics we know of other objects, ones commonly perceived or conceived, only indirectly (assuming consistency). That is, under the metaphysics we know they exist but do not know them directly. Under the universal metaphysics many proofs of significant aspects of being are trivial and need not and will not be given (it does not follow that there are no non-trivial proofs).
That is, the universe and its identity are limitless with respect to variety and extensionality and must go through acute, diffuse, and non manifest phases. Also, from realism, this power must be conferred on individuals. The apparent contradiction of physical law is merely apparent for realism requires our physical laws but also requires that they not be universal. That is, they are transcended but it is not given that they are easily or immediately transcended. The apparent contradiction of our mortality is also but apparent for, under realism, death must be real but not absolute.
As intelligent how may we accelerate transcendence? (1) It stands to reason that ultimate realization will be enhanced by intelligent engagement (this is explained in cosmology below). (2) Our system of laws are local approximations to be discarded as civilization moves to universal civilization(s) and we move from our particular cosmos to cosmoses. (3) As instruments of realization the laws of mind and matter are essentially limited and therefore perfect in the sense of good enough to the purpose. (4) In this extended sense of perfection, the metaphysics and what is valid in tradition from ancient times to the present day mesh to form a perfect practical metaphysics (it may be seen that the join is more than a mesh with tradition complementing the ‘pure’ metaphysics and the metaphysics showing ways in which certain features of cosmology are ultimate and in resolving what would otherwise be dilemmas such as the relative versus absolute nature of space-time and the questions of relations between what we call mind and what we call mater).
The metaphysics outlines beginnings of general cosmology. It does not explain how particular cosmologies come about.
The metaphysics implies that there is no general mechanism of formation. This means that well formed systems—cosmologies—will simply come about without mechanism. It also means that in some cases there will be mechanism. We will argue for mechanism that is and cannot be exclusive but that may be reasonably said to dominate formation and population of stable cosmologies that support intelligent life.
What is the mechanism of formation? We begin to answer the question with a very brief survey of our knowledge of mechanism.
Today’s biology has maturity at levels 2 and 3: level 2 is the various levels of physiological function; level 3 refers to the origin of life and function. Reasons that level 3 has maturity in biology are that (a) the theory of origination is explanatorily satisfactory and comprehensive and well supported by observation and (b) that levels 2 and 3 mesh: the chemical and physical mechanisms of function are of the same kind as those of origins.
What features make the theory of evolution a sound explanation of the origin and flowering of life forms? The forms are of course possible without the mechanism of evolution (variation and selection—i.e., non selective variation and selection by adaptation to environment and self) but not deterministically contained in earlier forms. Therefore an element of indeterminism is necessary. However, indeterminism is indifferent to adaptation (stability): most mutations will be maladapted but some will be equally or better adapted and it is the last that will flourish due to positive differential survival. The skeletal explanation does not refer to details of biology but extracts what is necessary to formation of novel form and function.
Today’s physical law has maturity at level 2. There is no mature theory or consensus regarding the origins of cosmoses (the big bang explains what happened after the bang). However, a mature theory (aside from metaphysical necessity) will have to satisfactorily explain cosmological structure and novelty (e.g. of physical law). We have just seen how such explanation must involve indeterminism from more primitive levels (at which there is no law or at most proto law) and selection by self adaptation. And of course the ultimate in explanation is from ultimate simplicity; no proto law. Though mechanism is not necessary we expect that the greatest population of the universe by any form (physical, biological, sentient) will be proportional to the product of fecundity and longevity. We do not need to know what the detailed mechanism is to know the kind of mechanism and that there are and must be such mechanisms (realism implies that some but not all cosmoses be formed by mechanism; considerations of probability suggest that most cosmoses be formed by semi-mechanism).
What is the nature of death under the universal metaphysics?
Before turning to means of realization in the way below it will be useful to make a few comments on religion and god (I will not address abuses of religion because I see these as the way of some men and not of religion itself).
On the cosmological side, religion attempts to address the intuition that there is more than is seen in the secular world view. Even where the expressions of such intuition are empirically improbable and logically unsound, the intuition of the trans-secular is reasonable. From realism we now see that the intuition is true (beyond the recorded imagination of religious thought). In this circumstance I suggest the definition that RELIGION be the use of all dimensions of being in the realization of ultimate being in and from the immediate.
We saw earlier that there may be gods who may be implicated in ‘perfection’, i.e. further and conscious evolution of the universe. Realism implies that this is necessary. However, perhaps the essential question concerns what the nature of such gods might be. Except that they be ‘subject’ to realism, there is no limit on gods (some may object saying that god can overcome anything but to say that is to imply that god has not given us the ability to be absurd—it is to put man above the universe).
Except the logical limits, e.g., the universe has no creator (all creation is part of the universe) what can we say of god? Referring back to the distinction between general and particular cosmologies it follows that whereas god can be as in the scriptures (except violations of logic) the most likely meaning of god is that it is an integral part of a stable cosmology and forms and dispositions in between the stable cosmologies, the transient background, and the void. Perhaps the most significant meaning is that we, in our process of an attempt at realization of the ultimate, are a prime example of the meaning of ‘god’.
The way has two meshing parts: daily practice and universal process.
In this version of the essay I provide only a brief account of derivation of the way (see developing the way). There is and was a process that is described in the essential way of being. Here the process is mentioned as part of the way.
Critical, radical, philosophical—concerning uncertainty that may be removed: to provide certainty (as is possible), to clarify.
Existential and essential—doubt that is not removed but due only to uncertainty, not absurdity: to provide principles of action, depending on estimate of probability and maximizing outcomes.
Attitude in face of doubt
Principles of action: maximizing outcome.
Action with confidence in face of existential doubt, pain, and joy; thinking with critical doubt.
The elements below follow from reflection on the world in light of the metaphysics.
The way of being
UNIVERSAL REALISM is another name for The way of being.
The MEANING OF LIFE is necessarily that of being in the way of being
Though external inspiration is significant, an ultimate resource in the way from dark to light must be within each individual.
These follow from the origin of this work, the nature of human process (as part of a universal-general and an adaptive-stable and sentient cosmology).
The elements of being
The nature of identity, space, and time.
Dimensions and places
Nature is the ground of being and a source of inspiration.
Nature is primal being and its two primal aspects of being-as-being and being-in-relationship—is primitive to higher forms.
Psyche is the place of be-ing, individual or person, identity, significance, and relationship to the world.
In contrast to some ways, alienation is not central. Psyche reflects the ultimate. Process acknowledges the essential significance of but does not wait for perfection in this life. Perfection is understood as finding balance of process and enjoyment. The process and its aim give meaning to the mosaic of pain and joy. Enjoyment and effectiveness are enhanced by intelligence and commitment; emotion and care.
Psyche is the significant aspect of the higher forms: embodied sentient intelligence (it may be thought that there is such a thing as pure not embodied psyche; however, consider that any intelligent psyche must have form and feeling: that form and its support are the body).
Civilization—local and or universal, is the shared endeavor of being.
Civilization is the matrix of civilizations across and populating the universe; (2) Civilization nurtures the individual and the individual fosters civilization; and (3) Thus far, civilization is not consciously intelligent in itself but part of its functioning is to multiply intelligence.
Artifact and technology
Artifact and technology are the instrumental or extrinsic aspects of psyche and civilization.
The inner aspect is control and flow of self, the outer of the real world.
The ultimate in the immediate
We seek pure being. It is self as mirroring the ultimate.
In the ‘dimensions’ and their process we seek the ultimate. It is a process beginning in the immediate and aims at the ultimate.
The means are ideas and action.
The means follow from the nature of sentient being—(a) representation and change, i.e. (b) intelligence and form, i.e. (c) ‘mind’ and ‘body’.
The mechanics constitute efficient means and may be explained as part of adaptive process versus possible but improbable one step process and improbable sustained unstable states.
Reflexive thought and action
Reflexive thought reflects on itself; it is self-conscious and attempts to be self-enhancing and self-correcting. The process can be extended to include action.
Since the universe has no other, all organization is eternal or self-organization resulting from self-organizing (adaptive) process. Reflexivity of thought is an aspect of self-organization in an intelligent phase.
Ways and catalysts
A mechanics has two special elements—ways of living, and particular catalytic activities such as meditation, fasting, and exposure.
The ways and catalysts correspond roughly to a division of change or transformation as: (a) continuous / rational-feeling / attitude versus (b) discrete / risk-chance-consolidation / deep-embodied. The ‘versus’ is conceptual—obviously their efficient occurrence is interactive and parallel.
Disciplines and practices
The tradition offers disciplines or received knowledge and practice. The disciplines are intrinsic (for the being of individual or civilization) and external (for the environment or support).
Culture includes the discipline of disciplines in transition.
Disciplines and practices are the ways and catalysts as inherited from tradition.
Change is either intrinsic or in external circumstances.
The two combine in artifactual being (supported, independent, assistive, and interactive).
The modes refer to the dimensions of change, especially psyche versus civilization and artifact.
In universal process these dimensions are practiced as immersive and objective.
The metaphysics shows the achievability of the goal as objective but not by rational-mental (therefore instrumental or control) means alone.
Since we begin without full consciousness of our living process it is natural to begin with our propensities. Later, we see more and fill out our process. The process is reflexive. This is reflected in the times frames of the table in universal process.
These follow from the elements and dimensions arranged according to the present phase of my process.
This routine is not intended as rigid. The order is alterable, elements may be combined, and details may be collapsed. This may be done on a small scale in response to daily need or on a larger scale for the variety of contexts.
Table for being and becoming
A TEMPLATE for the phases of realization is (1) Pure being—the ultimate in the present: the ground of all realization, (2) Ideas—knowledge, design, ideas for the phases of becoming, (3) Becoming—everyday practice, nature, civilization, and artifact.
Comment. This document does not currently have a resources section.
Following are some resources, primarily knowledge for study and development. Details are in a detailed plan for study and action.
Destiny is that part of the future over which we have reasonable effect. Obviously we do not control ‘everything’—nor do we want to for openness and uncertainty are sources of significant meaning. However, broad engagement, as we have seen is good, and the broad aim is also to find what we may rather than have specific outcomes.
The attitude of this essay is that our process is a mix of arrival, transience, and destiny. We would live in the immediate and the ultimate—each is incomplete without the other—and both are processes.
Since we do not know what will be helpful breadth of knowledge and experience are important; it has been and continues to be a part of this endeavor.
Comment. Knowledge for development. Publication and sharing.
METAPHYSICS—especially process and symbolic; SCIENCES—science as such; concrete and abstract sciences including mathematics and logic; CIVILIZATION, WAYS AND CATALYSTS (note placement of ways… near civilization), ARTIFACT and ART; INSTITUTIONS, PERSONS, PLACES.
THE METAPHYSICS, metaphysics, foundation and development, language, logic, mereology, adequacy and minimal arrangement of the dimensions, processes, and phases of being and becoming. Some DETAILS: begin with some case studies—e.g., Process and Reality (1929), A.N. Whitehead; Space, Time, and Deity (1920), S. Alexander; the Symbolic Metaphysics of Edward N. Zalta, e.g. at The Metaphysics Research Lab (Zalta’s interesting conception of abstract objects may be useful and suggestive even though it is quite different from the concept of the abstract object in this essay). The metaphysics of natural law is a useful topic that might well go under science below.
Narrative mode and philosophy
Design and planning
Science and the sciences
SCIENCE and the SCIENCES—abstract and concrete in relation to realism and possibility: logics as a first approximation. SCIENCE AS SCIENCE, as defined by principles—descriptive, elementary, and adaptive with focus on origins, form, and adaptive systems.
ABSTRACT SCIENCES and sciences of symbolic systems—logic, mathematics and set theory and its foundations, linguistics and grammar, topics such as self-representation, computation and finite mathematics. Some DETAILS. LOGIC: (a) concepts of logic and realism (b) formalism for maximal capture realism and possibilism without paradox, (c) specific topics—propositional and first order predicate calculus, and (d) mathematical logic—proof theory and constructive mathematics, model theory, set theory, and recursion theory (and relations to theory of computation and category theory); (e) reading: W.V. Quine [Philosophy of Logic, 1986; Methods of Logic, 1982; Mathematical Logic, 1981; Set Theory and its Logic, 1969]. Related topics: the AXIOMATIC THEORIES OF SETS and MEREOLOGY. Further TOPICS IN MATHEMATICS for the metaphysics: ARITHMETIC: number theory, number systems, transfinite numbers, analysis; ALGEBRA and algebraic structures; geometries—including non-Euclidean, convex, discrete, topology, homotopy—origins in numbers and structure of number systems, solutions of equations, and linear algebra; fields of algebra: order theory, algebraic systems, number theory, field theory and polynomials, commutative rings and algebras; ANALYSIS—study of change in the small and in the large—sequences, limits, and metric spaces… real, complex, and functional analysis… calculus of variations, harmonic analysis, Clifford analysis, and non-standard analysis… differential equations, measure theory, and numerical analysis; COMBINATORICS approach are enumerative and analytic, topics include partition and graph theory, finite geometry… algebraic, geometric, arithmetic, and infinitary combinatorics; GEOMETRY: convex, discrete, and combinatorial geometry… differential (including non-Euclidean) and algebraic geometry… topology, algebraic topology including homology and cohomology… manifolds including complex manifolds and Morse theory; STATISTICS AND DECISION SCIENCES; THEORETICAL COMPUTER SCIENCE.
CONCRETE SCIENCES. PHYSICAL SCIENCES and the interface of metaphysics, quantum theory and relativity; physical and evolutionary-adaptive cosmology; chemistry—especially chemistry for functional and evolutionary biology; earth sciences. BIOLOGY, function, genetics and epigenetics, evolution, and ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS—general theory and application in biology and cosmology. PSYCHOLOGY and social sciences with focus on immersion.
Foundations of ethics and value
Foundations of ETHICS and VALUE with special focus on implications of the metaphysics and the way of being.
Ways and catalysts
Select focus on trans-secular and INTRINSIC MODES of being and transformation—principles of special metaphysics and religion, yoga, Tantra… PRINCIPLES, DISCIPLINES, and PRACTICE (select and focus). It is CRITICAL that the goal for ways and catalysts is experiment with incremental and step-wise realization. STUDY EMPHASIS is therefore supportive rather than definitive and multi-fold—(1) The MEANING OF RELIGION (understood in terms of the theory of meaning); (2) The CLASSICAL ways and catalysts emphasizing practice and use-in-action—some TOPICS: life ways of Buddhism (especially Tibetan) and Hinduism (especially the Gita and Kashmir Saivism); catalysts of physical, isolation (vision quest), death awareness, sacred places, and acting; and (3) UNCONVENTIONAL AND HETERODOX ways and sources. Later—perhaps rewrite the Gita (sources currently not available on the Internet 1, 2, 3). Special focus on CATALYSTS—dreams, hypnosis, meditative states; altered states and CATALYTIC FACTORS.
CIVILIZATION. (1) Concepts of civilization (understood in terms of the theory of meaning); civilization as process and nurture—the concepts of human and universal civilization and history; physics, cosmology, sociology, psychology, for universal civilization; immersion in natural, social and cultural, psychic and universal process; shared endeavor; see TRANSCOMMUNITYDESIGN; artifactual and technological enhancement—support, synthetic, and stand alone. (2) IMMERSION CULTURE—knowledge, sciences of matter, life, society, mind, politics and economics; (3) In relation to the section cosmology > cosmology of life and identity > civilization what is the dynamic of process, realization, problem, opportunity; and (4) Items below—artifact, ways and catalysts, institutions, places, contacts.
ARTIFACT. Review (1) The AIMS—support in realization and creation of AWARE AND AUTONOMOUS systems (and why, in terms of the metaphysics the latter is one sufficient approach), (2) The concept of ARTIFICIAL BEING (understood in terms of the theory of meaning), (3) Concepts of the same (e.g. SCENARIOS), (4) Theoretical and computational approaches, (5) Practical approaches. ART including literature and drama and its relevance to metaphysics and realization.
Other topics in a SYSTEM OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE, selected for significance to the aims and ways; art.
INSTITUTIONS, PERSONS, AND PLACES. (1) For the above, (2) Support and sharing, (3) Contacts, (4) Place—nature and culture.
Table for a system of pure being, ideas, and action
Template for the phases of realization
Following are some resources, primarily knowledge for study and development. Details are in a detailed plan for study and action.
Narrative mode and philosophy
Design and planning
Science and the sciences
Foundations of ethics and value
Ways and catalysts
Artifact and art
Institutions, persons, and places
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