THE CATEGORIES OF BEING and experience
ANIL MITRA, © APRIL 2014—February 2015
Since I wrote the document my understanding of categories has become clearer and crystallized. I should implement this improvement. This will make for a shorter document.
The function of the categories is understanding of the immediate and the ultimate.
The sources can be only experience (including action) for experience is not merely passive but also active and includes perception as well as conceiving, performing, and reflecting on experiments in thought and action.
The categories of immediate experience are our modes of understanding the empirically known universe. The ultimate categories are formed by reasoning on the immediate.
Of course, the tradition is important as a source on the nature and systems of categories.
The following represents the present state of my thought:
This introduces the immediate and the ultimate in a way that is committed to neither their distinction nor its absence.
Analysis of the ultimate.
Identity and the concepts of sameness, change, and difference are bound together and these found the concepts of the individual and the other, extensivity in general and space and time in particular, and the semi-metaphorical character of mind and matter.
Identity is the source for the being of the individual.
Particularly, it has been seen that there is experiencing and the experienced. The experienced is first order being or matter; this becomes metaphorical only when ‘matter’ is taken in a literal sense in which it is distinct from the field of experience. What then is mind? In relation to the fundamental field of experience there is no place for the term except as a redundant symbol for the term ‘field of experience’. However, given identity mind is identified as the locus of the acute experience of individuals. Thinking of mind apart from matter and as reification of the experience of the experiencer is metaphorical.
Because of the overlap of being and experience discussed below, an adequate title would be The categories of being. However, it is good to make it explicit that the categories can never escape experience understood to include active or seeking experience and, under, the concept, both perception and free concept formation.
Note that knowing is regarded to include all experience; it also emphasizes the idea of formal and systematic knowledge.
Refer to the categories.html for a division of the categories as knowledge and object.
Perhaps our most direct contact with being is in experience. We experience the world. We label the world (a) real or external by which we mean that experience has objects, and (b) experience itself. Experience (itself) is part of the real world but, apparently, not the entire real world (else there might be no point to talk of a real world). But now since part of the real world is experience itself we have the possibility of infinite regress which does not seem essential.
The difficulty of a fully systematic approach is that of arriving at a definite and unique system. This is one reason for the despair and criticism of system. However, to eschew system is system. What can we do? First, we allow system to arise as may be natural (i.e. we do not force any particular system or to what aspects of being it should apply—this allows that we may use preconception provided we are willing to revise it in light of experience and reason). Secondly, instead of insisting on any one ‘total’ system we may allow multiple systems; modern information systems are conducive to multiple systems and database technologies may be adapted to assist in translation among systems; it is important that we learn much from the translations (a) conceptually we see the equivalences and differences among different foundations and (b) the detailed translations—electronic or manual—may give us insight into relations among concepts and into the nature of system itself.
A number of thinkers have been drawn to system and from these some have despaired of it (Wittgenstein is one example: later in life he eschewed his earlier system and then when he attempted to give some order to his later approach he despaired of that as well). Others have reviled system—Nietzsche is one example. Why did he revile system? It is likely because of the at least apparent non uniqueness of system and, especially, because system may be seen as constraining on truth. The problems faced here are similar. One way out in principle is as above. This, however, does not eliminate the practical problems of system—that of fitting an entire world into system. I have decided therefore to keep system skeletal and from each part of it to refer to detailed documents. This minimizes commitment to forced structure and enhances flexibility; it also allows that it is inherent in process that there will be non-systematic elements; and it allows interaction between system and process.
Here are three ways out (1) Intuition—in which it is external objects that are real and the marshalling of psychic resources is largely intuitive but where it is explicit ‘experience’ is wrongly but practically regarded as a lesser category of the real, (2) Label the varieties of experience without regarding them as categorial, and (3) A simple approach in which we recognize when we assign special status to experience it is because we make an invalid analogy between the sensation of experience for which location is not important with perception of the world for which location is important and from the analogy conclude that experience occurs only in time but not in space. The simple approach, then, is that experience and its kinds will fall under ‘object’ while its contents will be given separate status. Further, for our purpose the important category under this special status shall be knowledge.
What are categories of being? Being is ‘that which is’. Just as the idea of matter is that it is fundamental kind or ‘substance’ that all material things are, being is the fundamental kind that all existing things are; if something has being it exists. That is, every existing thing has being. You can of course conceive of something but if your concept does not correspond to some existing thing then the alleged thing does not have being.
As such, being is too broad to depict structure or to provide detailed understanding. That two things have being does not differentiate them in any way; that one thing has being gives us no information as to its nature or behavior. Aristotle conceived the categories as more specific than being—given something that exits, the categories give us further information about it. For him the categories are what can be predicated of a being. He starts with the thought that ‘everything is itself and nothing else’ and this is the essential or independent category—the substance of the thing (entity). The other categories are not essential. Thus he divided categories as (1) One independent category, ‘substance’, and (2) Nine ‘accidental’ categories—quantity, affection, quality, relation, place, time, position, state, and action. Substance underlies all things—the idea behind substance is that it is as simple as possible—e.g. uniform, unchanging—and yet generates all things and change in ways as simple as possible. The accidental categories are those that differentiate one ‘thing’ from another; they are significantly where interest lies. In Aristotle’s conception they are like ‘elements’ of actual things.
Analysis of passive experience
How might we arrive at an adequate set of categories? Aristotle looked at the world, the ways in which things behave and are described and came up with an elementary and reasoned list that was an attempt to encode experience.
Today we would not accept Aristotle’s categories. It is interesting, however, that Plato and Aristotle regarded their philosophies as in process—that what they suggested was not final. We should think the same way, except, of course, if our conclusions bear intrinsically signs of their own finality. If, today, we were to accept science, say physical science, as describing elements that are the constitution of all things then physical science would provide at least the elementary categories. Realizing that life, mind, society, and culture, even if they are ‘nothing but matter’, cannot be described merely in terms of matter, we might advance them—or some of their fundamental constituents—as further categories.
However while physics and biology provide excellent descriptions of some essentials of our cosmos, I see no reason to think that our cosmos is anywhere near the extent of the universe or that physical science comes anywhere near to describing the contents of the entire universe. The categories of Newton’s mechanics might be point particle, position in three dimensional Euclidean Space as a function of time (therefore space and time might be among the categories), force (including gravitation), and motion. Would we include the law of inertia among the categories? That depends on the view one has of ‘law’. These categories do not include descriptions of the elements that constitute agents with consciousness, choice, will, action and so on; but they were not intended to. Today, the categories might be space and time (conceived differently that Newton did), particle-field (which interact with space-time), and, perhaps, law. Newton’s cosmos was flat, infinite and its dynamic was in the particles and the forces. Today’s cosmos is dynamic in more ways than Newton’s: matter and non-matter are mutable (in quantum theory), and space, time, and matter interact. However, although there is advance, there is no reason to think today’s physics is complete with regard to law or cosmos.
How then might we come up with a set of categories that comes close to being complete? In Aristotle’s system there is a general principle ‘substance’ and particular principles ‘accident’; substance is immutable but indiscriminate, accidents are mutable but discriminate. In today’s physics what is constant is ‘law’ while the particles, positions, and interactions (force) are accidents. But we have seen that physical science can lay no claim to completeness. However, the principle is to find the general and the particular. There is another principle—the main categories of being are those whose level of generality is just below that of being itself, i.e. they make distinctions but only the broadest of distinctions. They are the classes of being just below being itself (whether we should include sub-classes would be somewhat arbitrary but would depend on their significance). Problems with Aristotle’s system as for a system based in physical science are (1) What is the principle behind the system—are not law and substance hypothetical, and are not the ‘elements’ at least somewhat arbitrary? We might do as Kant did and refer to the structure of our experience and try to project it onto being as a necessary projection. However, the argument against physical science as foundation for the categories also applies to Kant’s scheme—even if the argument to rationally project is correct, we do not know that the rational conclusion captures all being (and further, Kant argued the necessity of the science of his day but we know that that or any science so far is not known to be complete and so the rationality of his system breaks down). In fact the argument against physical science it would apply to any scheme that we get from the entire history of human thought unless that scheme bore some sign (reasoned and empirical of course) of its own completeness.
But still, the idea to seek the general and the particular is a good idea. But we would like to know that (and how) both are founded and that the general is most general and perhaps also that the particular is most elementary but still sufficient to the general and what is revealed in observation.
Being and knowledge
This could be being and understanding or being and experience. The basis of the principle is that when experience is properly understood we see that we never get outside it.
The realms of experience
It is therefore essential that we understand experience broadly.
Comment. The following may be placed in a detail file for ‘experience’:
It is crucial that the meaning of experience be conveyed precisely. A connotation of experience not used here is that experience is of and only of external objects. Here experience goes beyond that. All conscious mental content, including thought and emotion, is part of experience as is that of the experience of external objects in perception. Later we will clarify the relation of all mental content (including the unconscious) to experience. We will find it to be part of experience but only on an extended meaning of experience. How so?
On strict substance metaphysics in which all being is a number of fundamental, immutable, and exclusive substances (in monism there is one substance while in pluralism there is more than one) there is no explaining experience on material terms: what is capable of explanation in material terms is behavior as if there is experience; and further, if there is, in addition to the substance of matter, a substance of experience—i.e. of mind—there is no explanation of the interaction of matter and mind. Thus, on strict substance metaphysics, the alternatives are an untenable monism or an untenable dualism. Therefore neither retaining nor relinquishing monism is sufficient to the phenomena. We must therefore relinquish the ‘strictness’ clause in substance metaphysics. That is matter and experience are ‘two sides of the same coin’ down to the elements of ‘matter’. However, that presumes substance metaphysics. Is substance metaphysics tenable? We will find from an adequate development of the idea of being that it is not. When freed from substance we find that mind and matter are capable of separate being but they must then be capable forging union and it seems likely that in most significant cases this union will be given.
There is a sense in which we never get outside experience. In pressing this point we would have to expand upon the first meaning of experience as subjective awareness and its varieties. Even when I project a concept on a percept, that too is ‘active’ experience. It is in the interplay between these varieties that I get a notion of being as being—as something beyond experience whereas it is not beyond experience but beyond some varieties of it. I can then analyze this situation and perhaps conclude that some aspects are essential and that may turn out to be true but that truth still remains in experience.
In the background of the previous paragraph is the thought that some aspects of experience may be perfectly faithful. We are so accustomed to the idea of distortion in perception that we criticize all experience as faulty. But that there is being, that there is experience, that there are patterns, that there is a universe—of these assertions there is no doubt. The question is how far we can take this perfect analysis. Even then however, in the background is the notion of perfect faithfulness. But do we need that value? Here a tendency is to a single value in knowledge—perfect faithfulness of a concept to an object or, on the other hand, no need for perfection at all for it is all about being-in-the-world and so on. But why should we have a single value? What we find is a perfect realm of concepts to objects and a practical realm and the former illuminates the latter which illustrates and (we find) meshes the former; and that the joint system is perfect in that that is what we are given and whatever value (of the ones considered) we choose we do and can do no better.
Local and global categories
I might begin by asking ‘should the categories be local as in physics where there are elementary particles and forces?’ However the assertion begs a question—are the categories of physics truly local or elemental? Particles seem elementary and local but should they be regarded as distinct from their forces? Are not waves distributed? Are not the laws even in the most atomic of sciences—the particle dynamics of Newton—global? And, today, in physics, is there not concern with the boundary conditions? I approach an answer to this question below.
An experimental approach
The approach should be neutral to the question of atomism versus holism, local versus global categories (except of course that there should be consistency among these). Beyond such internal consistency the approach should be experimental in that we are dedicated to finding out what kinds of explanation work—and from that as a start seeking improvement without end until the explanation itself should show itself to be complete.
The foregoing considerations do not exhaust the principles. The approach should be scientific in that we seek conceptual systems to explain what is empirical and that what is empirical is then one of the tests for the conceptual system (thus science is empirical but not merely empirical; and thus, in these terms, we may see metaphysics as science—science in which, at least in the pure case, we choose those concepts that are capable of precision and universality). The approach should follow principles of reason (e.g. logical consistency). The approach should rely on intuition. However, no one aspect of our approach should dominate. Therefore intuition should be supplemented by reason and experiment. More precisely, intuition, reason, and experiment should supplement one another. However, we do not list these principles as principles for the categories for they are in one sense prior to the question of categories. Still, in another sense all such questions—particular to the question of categories as well as the general ones—are interactive and we should not be misled by our labels.
Explicit and implicit approach
The categories began as explicit and elementary classes of being. Now we see that in order to have some principled purpose they may be other than just what they were in the beginning. When we approach such issues piecemeal, the development of every topic tends to be unto itself and so either (a) carries on in isolation or (b) depends on naïve conceptions of other essentially interactive issues. So we would like, in addition to the elementary and each-topic-unto-itself approach of much of late twentieth and early twentieth century analytic philosophy, to have a whole or at least interactive view. A perfect source for such a view would be a complete and perfect metaphysics. Such is of course not available; and given this the piecemeal approach is perhaps understandable. However, the piecemeal has two further facets—it represents a loss of nerve and it serves the modern philosopher who is close to invariably on the faculty at a university and for whom publishing copiously has been and remains an important criterion of success. What we find here is that the modern criticisms of metaphysics concern parts of it and not the entire range but have been assumed to apply wholesale. Consequently we are able to develop some metaphysics—not complete and perfect but perfect over a significant range and complete in a sense provided we allow imperfection with regard to the criterion of perfect faithfulness but perfect in the sense of best desirable.
Particularly, the principles of reason should be at least implicit in the categories. We should not have to look outside the categories for them for else the categories are essentially incomplete in a way that they do not have to be. This of course is implicit once we admit experience as essential.
Once we do that we face the question how much is or should be explicit and how much explicit. From some points of view—e.g., those of instrumentality and scholarship—we would like explicitness. However, from other points of view—especially getting it right by ever being willing to go back to the beginning and that every age and place needs begin afresh—we would like implicitness. What then are a minimal set of explicit categories?
We might specify being itself and no more. Perhaps however we might append experience to being for we see the essentiality of experience being observed across the great cultural systems. This allows discovery afresh and while this freshness is good for the vibrancy of every age, it also allows and encourages that some ages will surpass all that have come before in a particular—e.g., human—history.
A minimal system
We might specify a minimal system which has two layers—a transcendent and an immanent layer. Of course the transcendent is not un-immanent; it is just the ‘highest’ of layers of experience. A minimal system is as follows.
Transcendent: existence and possibility
Immanent: pattern—e.g., causation and law—and substance
We can think of the transcendent as generating the immanent and the immanent at least partially capturing the transcendent.
In other words what is needed is a full theory or system of knowledge of being—i.e. a full system of metaphysical knowledge (we are here conceiving metaphysics as any perfect knowledge of being-as-being). Now there is a history of argument that metaphysics in this sense is impossible. However, as ‘that which exists’ we know that there is being and that, therefore, knowledge is metaphysical knowledge and so metaphysics is most definitely possible but the question is whether we can go beyond that rather elementary piece of knowledge to a potent metaphysics—a full system of metaphysical knowledge.
In the narrative we find that we can and the universal metaphysics that we develop is shown to be complete in some directions while necessarily remaining ever incomplete—no matter how much empirical knowledge we accumulate—in the direction of variety (if we were uncertain as to the incompleteness then our metaphysics would be incomplete to that extent but since we are certain as to the incompleteness and the kind of incompleteness, that itself constitutes metaphysical knowledge). Thus this system is a framework that, it will be shown, can be filled out by our local knowledge but only so far as that local knowledge extends. That we find, despite its essential incompleteness, is quite potent but more importantly the framework found is a framework for all being and it thus constitutes a framework for the categories and not just an ad hoc system based in local knowledge. The system is not ad hoc in being based from above by an ultimate metaphysics and below by the categories of our experience. What is more and significant, the union enables elimination of significant indefiniteness of the categories of experience. However, all definitiveness is and perhaps cannot be removed (a) because our experience does not constitute perfect knowledge in all its realms and detail, and (b) because of the ever openness of the universal metaphysics regarding variety.
If a system of categories had contingent limits we could not reasonably call it ‘ultimate’. However, if there are necessary limits that all systems must have then a system that has only these limits may be called ultimate for there is no exceeding them in this regard.
Perhaps the idea to find a system of categories was to place metaphysics on a firm foundation. It would seem that a system of categories cannot found metaphysics unless the metaphysics is already built in. But given an adequate system categories they can guide further study.
Still, the universal metaphysics does nave some elements from which the system flows. These categories include the concrete: being itself, experience, the universe (all being), domain (part), the void (absence of being); and the abstract: the degrees of universality of experience which include modal and classical logics—especially predicate logic, mathematics, and science (the laws are not things or even concrete patterns but are abstract patterns that are selected / rejected as the do / do not fit observation; nonetheless laws are in the universe and therefore have being).
I noted that the system is based from above by a universal metaphysics that is ultimate in some directions. Since the void is the absence of being it contains no laws and therefore it—and so the universe—have no limits on what states it achieves (except of course limits of logic which are not limits on the universe as such but constraints of realism on concept formation). That is, the universal metaphysics is already implicit in the short list of some categories of the previous paragraph and so a carefully selected system of categories is more than a guide to further study.
Before defining the categories another problem should be noted. It is the question of cultural relativity. I believe that there are central issues addressed by our cultures that are not relative to the particular culture (even while the modes of expression are different) and other issues that are local—and still other issues that may be described as ‘decorative’ (the latter are often issues that are not particularly significant to the culture at a particular time but which may be part of a source of thought that interacts with new experience and context). A resolution to the issue of relativity is to note that there are two modes of expression—the mythic-holist and the literal-analytic; that these are not distinct: that the former already has literal elements and includes the other; that cultures are neither pure mythic nor pure literal but lie on a continuum; and that while the mythic-holist has what is effectively larger picture, the literal-analytic is perhaps more like a spear: what it hits is precise when it hits but it is otherwise off the mark. That is the resolution is that the distinction is not real for two reasons: one contains the other and the two have a common central ‘purpose’ on a past-present-future continuum. It is important that while we naturally theorize on such matters (conservative theory emphasizes the supremacy of our culture, liberal theory recognizes the equal primacy of different cultures, nihilist theory condemns our culture on the basis of its mistakes) all culture taken together is in a process of internal and external experiment and therefore action has transcendence over either relativity or judgment.
The questions ‘what is the world like’, ‘what can and do we know’, and ‘what shall we do’ have been distinguished but at the highest level they fall under the same umbrella.
At any time we inherit values (what is of worth) and means (what do we know and how). This stands against the myth of perfect rationality which has some roots in the early enlightenment ideal of a ‘clockwork universe’ in which, by analogy, rationality should determine a unique and best action. Instead the notion of rationality includes the inherited, the notion of alternatives and choice from among multiple paths of action, and rationality itself
That knowledge is an element of the active attributes already suggests that knowledge is completed only in action. The separation of knowledge and action (implementation) is an idealization.
This does not mean that knowledge for its own sake is irrelevant to the practical world for the real issue is the meaning of ‘knowledge for its own sake’. The meaning is this. When we perform any specific activity that is part of a larger whole then the activity, the individual, and the whole gain by living in the moment—i.e. regarding the activity as in inherent object of interest whose outcome is greater contribution to the world, and greater expression of individual being (in such use being is metaphorical relative to its meaning in the narrative).
If ‘category’ refers to a division within being, then being is not a category (but we could metaphorically refer to being as the category of categories). However, if a category is an ‘element of structure by which being is known and exists’ then being is a category. The necessary cutoff of ‘element’ at no higher than a subdivision is not essential but is lurking atomism. And we can understand being on its own terms and so regard it as an element (of course the further elements give further understanding but are not guaranteed to give complete understanding). Thus being is the comprehensive ‘category’. It is the category of all that exists (where an object exists if it does so in any region of extensivity—e.g., of space and time). It may be extended consistently but without special benefit to include ‘objects that do and cannot exist’ (an object that does not exist is defined by a referential concept that has no object).
Experience and its nature
The first meaning of experience is that of conscious experience. Even in pure consciousness where there is no awareness of an ‘external object’, there is potential relation; internally, however, such consciousness involves relation among the elements of the organism.
In this first meaning, experience includes all elements of conscious psyche—pure experience, experience of the world (which includes experience) or aware consciousness, and action; and the various sub categories such as cognition, emotion, and perhaps will (such categories and that the thought that there are or might be categories are culture dependent; however, that there are such categories is not). It is often thought that there is awareness without consciousness. Later it is shown that such awareness is consciousness but not consciousness that is conscious of itself (events in the body that are not associated with consciousness but that affect consciousness are not included). Thus experience in its first meaning is relation or interaction and covers all ‘dimensions’ of psyche.
Can this first meaning be consistently and significantly extended to the ‘atomic’ level? The predominant modern opinion is that it cannot—that this is not compatible with physicalism or scientific materialism; which entails that experience is an emergent phenomenon—emergent at some kind and level of organization of the physical elements. However, this view runs into severe difficulties: it may explain how organisms behave as if conscious but it has so far been unable to explain consciousness. There is a good reason for that—if materialism holds that experience is not material, then only as-if experience can follow; and experience itself cannot emerge. However, there is nothing in our understanding of matter that rules out primitive mind or experience (it is only the case that an ‘atom’ would seem to be devoid of mind and that our understanding of matter does not reveal mind). This, however, allows that the relations-interactions among ‘atoms’ are elementary experience and it is only this that can explain the appearance of higher level experience as kind and level of organization becomes sufficient (to as-if experience). Therefore experience of an elementary type must be among the elements of matter as relationship. This is the basis of a comprehensive understanding developed in the main narrative. Here, I explain one fact—the emergence of consciousness in evolution. It has been said that the emergence is adaptive. However, it is already present. So what is adaptive is the higher reflexive level at which consciousness has sufficient self-awareness (here ‘self’ refers to consciousness and only secondarily to the self of the organism or person) to self-organize and marshal itself and this is adaptive. Articulation of this awareness of itself is not necessary to initial adaptation but, later, in a cultural context the explicit recognition and cultivation of the self-awareness of consciousness becomes adaptive.
The above arguments are at least suggestive that experience and being are essentially the same category for ‘entity’ and ‘relation’ are not necessarily fundamentally different; and they are definitely two aspects of ‘atoms’ while they are also two aspects of interaction.
Because of the essential relation among being and experience, I tentatively hold experience and being, rather than being alone, as the ‘category’ of categories.
Experiencer and experienced
In metaphorical terms it is these that possess mind and matter. However, we have direct experience of experience; and indirect experience of experience in others. Thus ‘experience’ appears as experienced. Mind which ‘knows’ is also ‘known’.
The ideas of mind and matter
The ideas of mind and matter have a metaphorical quality in that the concepts are not well defined. However, in being-experience, we recognize them as two attributes.
Matter is a metaphor for being-in-itself. Mind is a metaphor for being-in-relation.
The unity of being and experience come together in meaning.
Concept and linguistic meaning
The interwoven character of experience and being can be seen as the interwoven character of concept and object in concept meaning.
The above notion of concept meaning (of which linguistic meaning is a special case where the concept-object is associated with an abstract symbol) is critical to elimination of confusions of meaning, and existence and singularity (when appropriate) of meaning—and the object, of elucidating meaning and eliminating paradox associated with meaning. It is so critical that we might consider the following hypothesis for further analysis:
The fundamental category of being is meaning.
Synthesis of meaning and being
We just saw that analysis of meaning is crucial to elimination of confusion of meaning, clarification of meaning, identification of sources and so elimination of paradox, and establishing existence and nature of the object. The analysis is so powerful that analysis of meaning has sometimes been thought of as the method of knowledge or knowing—i.e., coming to know.
However, analysis of existing meaning cannot produce new knowledge; this is in the nature of the case. Analysis give the impression of generating new knowledge but what really happens is that (a) confusions of existing knowledge are identified and eliminated and this is preliminary to (b) identification of knowledge already possessed implicitly and clarification of knowledge held unclearly and confusedly.
Therefore critics have objected to meaning as a source of knowledge. This, too, is mistaken for coming to have new meaning is shorthand for identification of new concept object relations and creation of new concepts, analysis for consistency, and finding new objects for these new concepts. I.e., synthesis of meaning (of which analysis is a part) is one and the same as knowledge creation.
Similarly, in realization we may think that break down of our being, i.e. analysis, is the—or a—source of new being. However, analysis of being is clarification and articulation of what is already encompassed. Analysis of self is clarification of self. Still, analysis of being is preliminary to realization and transformation. The completion of the process is in re-building with new elements—i.e. in synthesis. If we now regard analysis as a part or phase of synthesis then:
Synthesis of being is the way of transformation and realization.
Significance and significant meaning
Experience is of the world which includes experience.
Significance is a part of experience.
Significance is of the world but occurs only in experience.
While significance pertains to all being, significance is essentially experience of significance. While, logically, there can be being without experience, there cannot be significance without experience. Further, an entity that is not experienced by some organism (ever) and that has no affect on the experience of some organism (ever) may exist but has no significance.
Note. Significance is similar to significant meaning which is different form concept meaning. However, since significance lies in experience and is significance of an object (which may include experience) significant meaning and concept meaning are more than superficially similar.
Comment. The source for the picture below is the Word document the categories.doc.
The figure below is a dated but useful source for development of the elements.
Nature of substance
The category of being is a neutral category. It includes all but we must appeal beyond being as such to see what is included. Historically, a foundation for being has been sought in substance which does not have a single conception. The idea of substance, however, is that it is should be something simple that results or manifests as the variety of being including its kinds and extension and change. One concept of substance is that of universal substance underlying all being and its simplest version would be something uniform and unchanging (and therefore pervasive, else it would not be uniform or unchanging) which generates the varieties etc. deterministically (determinism being held simpler than the possible point-wise bifurcation of indeterminism). A second concept of substance is that every ‘kind’ (e.g. species) has its own substance. The idea began perhaps with Plato who used the term ‘form’ or ‘idea’ that exists in an ideal space behind the real world that was the cause of or stamp for the real—the horse form formed real horses; Aristotle imported this idea as particular substance which was different from form in that it did not reside in a separate world.
However, there is no reason that being is not its own universal substance and that every particular horse is not its own substance. But if everything is its own substance, then substance has neither significance nor purchase—i.e., there is no need for substance to understand and no substance to ‘generate’. Thus it is just as possible that there is no substance as it is possible that there is not. Even if there are substances, it does not follow that we need them for understanding. As far as being is concerned—it is neutral to the issue of substance. As far as understanding is concerned, it is a priori unclear that substance should provide better understanding; however, if there is substance, then, perhaps, a dual perspective (from substance and from occasion) is best.
Substance as limit
A limit is a limit on possibility.
It will turn out that there is no substance in the above senses. Being could be considered a substance but it does not satisfy the intended function of substance. It will turn out that this is also the most empowering view. However, it will also turn out that the universe is far greater than our cosmos and even than a limitless repetition of limited cosmoses of limitless variety. Locally, as-if substances may be substances so far as the local is concerned and the as-if substances may empower local understanding.
Foundation without substance
Infinite regress does not avoid substance
That there should be no universal substance (that being could be considered its own substance) correlates to the principle to be established: being realizes all possibilities. This means that with depth as foundation the depth of being is ultimate in shallowness: being is its own foundation. However, variety is without limit and it is here that there is eternal challenge and enjoyment (and of course pain).
Limited possibility does not avoid substance
What would an ultimate alternative to substance to be? Enquire, first, about the significance of substance—the significance of the case where a substance, perhaps rather general yet limited, determines all form and change. One significance is that some but not all (conceptual but logical with regard to free concept-free concept and free concept-percept—i.e. ‘realistic’) possibilities are realized. An alternative that is ultimate would therefore be the case where all possibilities are realized—that is where realism as conceived above is the only constraint on the real.
Depth and variety
This could be written ‘contingent and absolute necessity’’
Under substance, not all conceptual possibilities are realized. Only those are realized that conform to the pre-defined notion of substance. However, we will prove that all realistic conceptual possibilities are realized.
We will of course have to define ‘realistic’; it will mean that disagreement of the empirical facts of being (especially past and present) will not count as possible and conceptual or logical disagreements of the parts of a concept (system) are not allowed; in so far as a scientific theory is a projection on facts and not a fact, disagreement with theory will count as possible.
But what is possibility? This is taken up in part under modal logic (under Abstract studies). However, this is not sufficient. Consider ‘All possibilities are realized’ and ‘One possibility is that not all possibilities are realized). This apparent paradox is the result of assuming that all apparently well formed concepts (sentences) are realized. This assumption is also the source of the well known semantic, logical, and set-theoretic paradoxes. Thus the foundations of Foundations of set theory may also assist in the study of possibility for just as it is necessary to restrict ‘all possibilities’ to arrive at a consistency in enumeration of possibilities, so it is necessary to restrict what is allowable as a set (if a set is a collection and a class is a collection defined by properties then not all properties consistently define classes and therefore sets).
Possibility and reason
Possibility, experience (active, passive or, better, ‘free’ vs. ‘in binding to its objects’; includes reason which includes logic)
Kinds of category
Analysis of the categories of our world; their nature in the universal case
Practical metaphysics—integration of the concepts ‘our world’ and ‘ideal world’
Lower or empirical
Higher or rational
The higher, abstract, or free concept
The whole is all being or the universe; a part of being or some being is a domain, and the null case is the absence of being or the void. These are important concepts in developing the metaphysics. They may be considered concrete or taken up abstractly as in the later section on Mereology.
If something—anything—e.g., an idea, exists is it in the universe? If we define the universe as all physical being then the answer would not be clear. However, if something is not in the universe as all being, it does not have being in any sense. Thus if the idea is not in the universe it is not an idea (because it is not anything). Therefore ideas exist and have being. Being and universe as all being are pivotal in clarifying and establishing the existence of ideas and much else that may be considered non material. This is an example of the power of the idea of being.
Although ‘object’ may seem particular in what it defines, it is not and even substance and being can be seen as objects. In this section, however, we focus on more particular matters. A further specialization is that we will be concerned with concrete objects. It is more convenient to consider abstract objects under Knowledge.
Objects have structure (without structure there is no discernible; and without substance the universe is uniform and unchanging). The elements of structure are:
Abstract versus concrete objects
Some things are known empirically which here means via the senses—rocks, trees, stars, and elephants. These are concrete. On the other hand some things seem to be defined only by concepts—numbers and other mathematical objects, concepts (themselves), Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The former seem concrete, the latter abstract. What are the meanings of ‘concrete’ and ‘abstract’ in this context and what is the difference? Could it be the common sense case that the concrete are things available to the senses but the abstract are not available to the senses and therefore must be defined only in terms of concepts?
A problem with the problem is that it is not given precisely what these kinds are—or whether they are although this seems at least likely—yet we have a sense of them. We are seeking to find and to define what they are at the same time: discovery is not like proving a given theorem: it is more like having to simultaneously formulate what it is to be discovered and to find a proof (for in looking for the proof we may find that we need to reformulate the tentative theorem).
There are various notions and assigned attributes of the concrete versus the abstract. One is the empirical divide noted above. Another is that the concrete are found in time and space (that is, the same kind of world that our bodies live in) while the abstract do not. If not, then where do they reside? The main theories of where the mathematical abstracta reside are that they are defined symbolically or formally (formalism), that they are logical constructs (Logicism which tends to be discounted today), and that they live in another kind of world—a world of ideas or pure forms, i.e. a Platonic world (Platonism).
What is a concrete object?
We think we know the concrete but conceive or have concepts of the abstract. But even the concrete are known via concepts of the perceptual type (it is not being said that there is nothing but the percept). If, then the abstracta are real and live in a real world that is other than our real and concrete world, and both are know via concepts, the abstract and the concrete are not so different after all.
From the universal metaphysics it has been shown that there is one world—the world in which all possibility is realized; that if a concept violates no logical principle or fact, then it must be in the one world (for that is entailed by the meaning of ‘possibility’).
Therefore the difference between the concrete and the abstract is not as profound as it seem. If the concrete are particular things, the abstract are idealized properties or properties of classes of things. If the abstract are not found in space and time, it is not because they are logically not spatiotemporal but because in idealization space and time are not retained or in classification, the properties do not pertain to space and time.
Treatment of abstract objects
Practically, of course the concrete are studied empirically. The laws regarding the concrete—the laws of physics for example—are not studied empirically: they are conceived but tested empirically and if they pass they are tentatively accepted but if they fail they are rejected (in principle). Thus the study of the concrete straddles the empirical and the conceptual; and the abstract have concrete realizations (and historically began as concrete—arithmetic, for example, was likely first concrete and empirical: ‘two apples’ and ‘two elephants’ probably came before the number ‘two’ and ‘two apples’ and ‘two apples’ make ‘four apples’ probably came before ‘2 + 2 = 4’ as an abstract operation; and, today, we find that in complex cases numerical study on a computer may be the only way to go (even though, when computer study cannot be exhaustive, it cannot be certain). But the study of the abstract is primarily conceptual and we associate such studies with the perfection of mathematics and logic. However, we are discovering today and this is emphasized by the universal metaphysics, that even these idea studies are ‘empirical’ even though the kind of empiricism is different than it is for the concrete. In the case of the abstract the experiments are with symbols and concepts.
Because the primary study of abstract objects is conceptual, they will be taken up in discussing Knowledge.
Anticipating concrete-abstract unity
Unity in experience
From sameness-difference the ideas of space and time are developed in Identity and change below.
Limitless possibility would seem to imply a strong form of indeterminism. However, limitlessness requires form as well. That is, limitless possibility implies a balance between form and indeterminism. Novel form must arise but it cannot arise deterministically because it would then not be novel. But indeterministic process is one in which the outcome is not contained in the present—not given. Therefore it arrives at all kinds of states—formed and stable and unformed and unstable but the latter by definition spontaneously un-form while the former endure.
Value and knowledge
What does this imply for the experiential side that includes cognition, emotion, and will? We do not have perfect knowledge or rationality and we cannot for a perfect rationality that determined unique action would be a determinist one.
The idea of perfect rationality derives from the early modern period in which the Newtonian world system formed a paradigm for all being. However, the Newtonian system was determinist—given the beginning, the outcome was inevitable; and it was perfect in that systems could be specified with perfection and then the prediction of the outcome was a matter of ‘calculation’. The world, especially the world of beings with choice and limited ability of knowledge and prediction, is different on two counts (a) the outcome is not given—at a material level, multiple outcomes are possible and at the level of human and similar beings outcomes are influenced by choice and (b) given a choice the outcome is still, in general, neither given nor predictable.
We find that we have arrived at a situation where we have inherited values (what is of worth) and means (knowledge and know how). Of course knowledge pertains to values as well but inasmuch as the future is not determined we do not know what will then be of worth and so, generally, our values apply only insofar as ‘history’ has continuity. This does not mean that there are no universal values for history may and must have continuities amid the general discontinuity. Why? These arise from indeterminacy itself: when form arises, preservation of form must to some extent become and be an intrinsic value.
Thus the situation is that we inherit knowledge and value; some of this applies to the future; some does not; but it does not because of indeterminacy which is also a source of new knowledge and value (via reason and risk); and therefore the situation is inherently imperfect on the old notion of perfect rationality but is inherently perfect (a) abstractly as the way of being (b) concretely in being the only way that a cognitive being can be in process (or history) and (c) as the way of maximal challenge, risk, engagement, and enjoyment.
The idea of the categories began as ‘fundamental kinds’ but it is more effective to take the categories to be the kinds that enable—as far as is possible—description of the entire universe and further, again as far as is possible, prescription of a fundamental system of kinds that make explanation and prediction maximal.
The kind in relation to being is implicit in the word ‘being’ which is defined by the verb ‘to be’ of which an example is ‘is’ (in one of its senses). Something ‘is’ if and only if it exists. Therefore the ‘kind’ for being is existence.
Note that the phrase ‘entire universe’ is intended to refer to what is significant (which is also open to discovery) rather than all detail.
That which is specifies existence. This kind transcends all special kinds.
There are problems concerning existence—since it applies to ‘everything’ it is trivial; however what, apparently, is occasionally not recognized is that ‘trivial’ and ‘deep; are not exclusive.
A major issue is that of the non existent object. If, for example, Sherlock Holmes does not exist, then what is it that does not exist? This, I argue, is best resolved in terms of meaning. The concept of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is defined in the writing of Arthur Conan Doyle. Then ‘Sherlock Holmes does not exist’ means that there is (was) no object corresponding to the concept. Similarly ‘Barack Obama exists’ means that there is an object corresponding to the concept ‘Barack Obama’. Why do we need to specify an existing object in such abstract terms? Consider your reaction to ‘Barack Obama exists’. You most likely had an image of a black man in a suit, saw in your imagination certain characteristic features, certain locations such as the White House, and certain personality traits and attitudes: these constitute the concept that is associated with the abstract symbol ‘Barrack Obama’. The association is immediate and required no effort (for anyone aware of current American politics, c. 2014). However the symbol alone would give you no clue (what, for example, does the hypothetical name ‘Xiutl’ conjure?) That is, the concept side of meaning is essential in the existing and the non-existing.
Thus it would be convenient to study being under abstract objects. Every object, even the concrete, has an abstract side.
World and experience
Possibility and substance
Select objects as foundational versus all objects on par
Question and nature of foundation
Does all explanation and being have fundamental terminus in a single object or kind?
Case 1: a foundational terminus is posited
If so, is the foundation of the foundation in question?
Case 2: no terminus posited
A: there is a foundation. Secure but existentially unsatisfying
Terminus is mistakenly thought necessary to secure foundation. There is foundation but the security is existentially unsatisfying.
B: there is no foundation. May be existentially satisfying
There is no foundation at all and perhaps there is just the world in which objects have more or less equal ontological status but none has foundational status.
This is occasion for (i) an existential attitude toward the issue of ontological security, (ii) nihilism, or (iii) a combination of the foregoing in which nihilism is at most temporary and is spur to the existential attitude.
C: combination of A and B. Maximal existential challenge and satisfaction
This is a combination of the previous sub-cases A and B in which A holds in some directions and B in others and in which there is perhaps interaction among the founded and the unfounded? What we will find is the latter which, though not fully founded in an ontological sense, is founded in practical and existential senses (specifically an incomplete ontological foundation is existentially maximal in being open and challenging and therefore satisfying).
A possibilist universe
What is the being status of a law of physics? A law is our reading of an abstract pattern. As a reading the law as such exists (e.g. in physics books). But the question is whether the pattern (the Law) exists. If the Law (i.e. the pattern corresponding to a proposed law) is not in the universe, it does not exist—it is not a Law. Therefore, Laws have being. That is, all Laws are in the universe; and, there are no Laws in the void; and every non void domain that is not the universe has some Law (e.g. it includes some but not all being).
Law and possibility
We have seen that under substance, not all conceptual possibilities are realized. That is, some patterns are realized and not others. That is, under substance there are universal laws. On the other hand if all possibilities are realized there are no universal patterns or Laws. ‘All possibilities are realized’ is equivalent to ‘logic is the only constraint on concepts for realization’; it is important that this is not a law of being (but a constraint on concepts for realism).
What is the universe like if all possibilities are realized?
A possibilist universe
Comment. See possibilist universe.doc in order to redevelop the following picture.
Possibilist universe: all possibilities are realized.
Void: the void is realized.
Transients: there are ever innumerable transients from the void.
Most transients are unstable; though there are immense numbers their significance for durable and experiential forms is low in population.
Rarely, there may be one step origins of significant form and experience.
Some transients achieve near stability—this is the primary origin of significant form and experiential status: from stability these transient variations achieve durability; therefore their population—especially the significant population—is high. This population exhibits significant form (causation, law) and experiential status.
These causal forms are non-deterministic (e.g. probabilistic); here ‘novelty’ may emerge; the population of essentially non-deterministic causal forms is relatively high.
Of these some, while in stable states, exhibit temporary and as-if determinist behavior for some phenomena. The population is low and under determinism no novelty is possible.
The foregoing is a scheme. It requires details of formation for our cosmos (a mesh with ideas such as those of Lee Smolin). In a possibilist universe explanation (mechanism) is guaranteed to occur but is also guaranteed to be absent even in cases deemed significant; however the population of non mechanist significant form is likely negligible. In the figure, I show only the mechanist case for significant form.
Some filters are omitted, e.g. the formation of our conservative dynamics. See conservation laws and symmetry and related documents.
Sameness and difference (and for knowing, the perception and understanding of sameness and difference) are fundamental.
Identity of object, person, or self is sameness with difference.
Note. This sense of identity is different from logical and mathematical identity.
Difference or change in given identity marks duration or sense of duration—generic for time and its varieties.
Difference without sameness (or identity) defines the idea of the ‘other object’—of different identity.
Different identities not marked by difference in measure of duration mark extension—or sense of extension—which is generic for space and its varieties.
This continues the introduction to extension and duration above
The concept of extensivity
The idea of extensivity generalizes duration and extension. Duration and extension refer to associations or kinds of difference. Extensivity refers to these and any other kinds.
Are there other kinds?
Modes of extensivity
There is difference with or without sameness. There is no other kind.
Two and only two measures of extensivity
Extension and duration—space and time—are the two and only two essential modes of extensivity.
This is a consequence of identity being expression of sameness and difference.
It is not implied that extensivity is universal. However, where it obtains it has two and only two measures.
Motion is change in spatial relations among objects… or within an extended object.
Being contains experience and is experienced. Experience is relationship.
Matter is metaphor for being-in-itself—for ‘first order’ being.
Mind is metaphor for being-in-relation –for second order being.
Thus mind is not other than matter. From the discussion of experience, mind may be the ‘other side of the coin’—it may be immanent in all being and coextensive with matter. A consequence is that we do not talk of matter as a substance (as, e.g. inert regarding other substances—especially mind), but as an inert or passive attribute—it is the inert side but this does not exclude mind; it is simply that the attributes of mind are not carried over in the abstraction to the inert. This is confirmed by the universal metaphysics to be developed.
In some locales the metaphors render with precision and acuity.
Since there is no significance to a third order, and since there is no substance, matter and mind are the two and only two attributes of being.
This does not limit the varieties or levels of potency of being.
Psyche is the place of experience and its forms and structures; and of these identity or self is central. It is noted here because it is an object. It is inseparable from the organism—at least on our level and for immediate purposes. It is taken up below because we should also investigate psyche as the place of experience.
The ‘dimensions’ of psyche are manifold. Because of the importance of knowledge we classify it as ‘knowledge’ and ‘structure’.
I say ‘attributes’ where I could say ‘categories’ because these define aspects of being rather than distinct kinds.
Being and extensivity
The concept of extensivity was introduced above as an aspect of identity.
Space and time
Extension and duration—space and time—are the two and only two essential modes of extensivity.
This is a consequence of identity being expression of sameness and difference.
It is not implied that extensivity is universal. However, where it obtains it has two and only two measures.
It is not implied that where there are space and time that simple metrizability is always possible, that space has dimensionality or any particular number of dimensions, or that there is a single time.
Absolute versus relative space and time
From the conception of space and time they do not constitute frameworks independent of being. They are immanent in being—they are of being.
Thus space and time are not absolute in the sense of constituting independent frameworks. They are relative which, in the pertinent sense of relative, means, simply, that they are immanent in being.
In so far as identity is diffuse andor localized, space and time are diffuse andor localized measures. There is no necessity to any particular number of time measures or spatial dimensions—or discreteness of measure or dimension.
A repetition from above—motion is change in spatial relations among objects… or within an extended object.
Patterns of behavior: causation, law, and determinism
Causality, law-like behavior, determinism versus indeterminism are special kinds of behavior; they typically pertain to state-interaction-process models.
Law-like behavior is very general: some states do not occur. We may be led by the laws of our cosmos into thinking that law-like behavior is special.
A note on relativity in Einstein’s sense
In the theory of relativity, ‘relativity’ refers to the principle that the laws of physics should have the same form in all frames of reference.
In that theory, measures of space, time, and simultaneity are frame dependent and it is this that (along with the other postulate—that of constancy of the speed of light) that is required for invariance of form of the laws.
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.
Extensivity and the abstract objects
The abstract objects are not other than the concrete but rather aspects of the concrete; more precisely the distinction between the abstract and the concrete is one of perspective and thus neither is fundamental—it is the object that is fundamental; this is contrary to much received modern thought; however it is consistent with what is valid in that thought; and it follows from the universal metaphysics and, particularly, from the fact that there is one world and that all realistic concepts (i.e. those that suffer no inconsistency in their definition or with other concepts or facts) have objects (in the one world).
These are not other than the passive but the passive may be seen as aspects of the active.
That action is associated with ‘mind’ reveals already that action is not mere passive (‘material’) process but is only such process (whether of body or psyche viewed as object) when driven by experience (perception and creation of options, choice, implementation, learning, and repetition).
Many cultures recognize cognition and emotion. Recent western psychology is remarkable—despite recent attempts at integration—for its treatment of the dimensions of psyche as discrete. Particular to this discreteness is that one or other is regarded as privileged. In the west, we are now all about cognition and now all about feeling. However, they are essentially interwoven. Where we talk about pure reason, emotion is not absent; what is absent is intense and particulate emotion; at every moment of intellect, feeling is present in a number of ways, particularly in that it gives potency to the operation of intellect and direction to its focus (otherwise intellect is free-wheeling as, for example, in autism). Where we think of emotion standing by itself we are thinking of emotion in its particulate or more intense forms; where it does not appear to be hand-in-hand with cognition, where we think of it as being its own ruler, not just unrulable by cognition but unaffected by it. However, that too, is untrue. It is adaptive that emotion and feeling but even perception should have independence of thought and desire. However, perception and thought (stories—Sanskrit: vikalpa) significantly affect emotion and often, as in mis-perception and especially in stories, do so without regard to reality. Generally, cognition and emotion are interwoven; in the healthy mature human they are adaptively interwoven.
In some other cultures the discreteness of the aspects of psyche and the privilege of one aspect over others is not recognized.
The following is taken from Journey in Being-detail.html and constitutes a start.
From the section ‘On psychology’
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.
From the section ‘Dimensions of mind (psychology)’
This section continues the discussion of psychology from the earlier section on psychology.
The material is previewed in the section psychology and the range of concepts.
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.
Analogs in psyche of the elements of extensivity and pattern in matter-like aspects of being
Mentioned above, these include afference—experience of the world and efference—attitude to the world and action in and on the world
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 acknowledge feelings of impotence. This mixes with confidence. Here sustained but seeing commitment to a goal is essential. Neutrality does not imply neutrality to goals or a goal but it includes stepping back / revaluation—occasionally and when a need arises. The goal evolves—perhaps the idea, perhaps the way in which a goal is held in ones psyche but almost certainly the expression and formulation of the goal. Commitment can be to a position or a goal. We saw that neutrality is important in relation, not so much to ontology, but to developing one. We must be neutral at times so as to not rule out good in process hypotheses. On the other had we must be willing at times to commit so we can confirm a good hypothesis. Commitment with neutrality and both in interaction is important to realization. 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.
India and other
To be developed later.
Some categories of psyche
The following dimensions are a beginning toward a structure of psyche.
Inner / outer (awareness)
Bound / free
Percept / concept
Concrete / abstract
Quantity / form
Intensity / quality and its modes
Pure / directed
Purity exists only on a molar or macroscopic level and even there it is pure only on a limited time scale and without regard to the unconscious; all pure forms are potentially directed.
The directed forms are afferent / efferent or attitude / action.
Choice / biological determinism
Identity (unity-interactivity of the elements) / particulate-privileged
Patterns and propensities (personality) / time (sameness and change)
Active analogues of the passive attributes
Analogues of space and time
We often think that while the content of experience includes spatiality and temporality, its nature is only temporal. All experience is experiencing, therefore its nature is temporal. Experience threads throughout our lives and is therefore temporally threaded. But this experience is constructed of the spatiotemporality and motion of our sense organs and therefore spatiality is essential to having experience. The motion maps spatiality but seems to occur in time, so we feel a difference in the way time characterizes experience from the way in which space does so. While we experience space, the experience seems to occur at a fixed location in relation to our ‘selves’. We are obviously limited in space in a way that we are not obviously limited in time. But this is illusory for we are not distributed in time. Our thought changes in time: this is thinking. But if our brains were a single point we would not have thinking. Experience is spatial in nature but we do not experience it as such. But why? It is because we identify experience with what is ‘out there’. But it is not out there; it is a map of what is out there. It is in fact ‘in here’ where it is spatial.
Analogs of motion, causation, and effect
The analogs of motion are process in thought, intention, and action.
The analogs of cause and effect are active and receptive experience and the analog of motion is action.
Analogs of determinism and indeterminism: freedom of will
The universal metaphysics shows that the universe and psyche must be strongly indeterministic. It is important to note that the absolute indeterminism (all states are achieved) does not, as is sometimes thought, stand against form and structure. In fact absolute indeterminism requires form and structure—and of course much more and the achievement of such form and structure may be ‘single step’ (against our evolutionary views) but perhaps most likely incremental via variation and selection so that the truth of evolutionary mechanism is not its absolute but rather its population character (i.e., it is perhaps or probably the case that the evolutionary mechanism has temporal dominance but it may also be the case that in the eternal the probabilistic significance of such temporal dominance is negated).
Still, there are realms where we find significant degrees of determinism. Even if I dream of absolute freedom I find that I cannot become perfectly spiritual—there seem to be some limitations; I do not find myself being the universe—or even a field mouse. On the other hand I can by diligence make some changes and of these some may be at least relatively novel. Thus the normal reality is a balance between determinism and indeterminism. I am a balance between determinism and freedom (of will). The real issue is to see what freedoms I have, what is worthwhile, and how to proceed (both insight and effort may be required). As accomplishment, this may be seen as positive.
On the other hand I live in and as part of the universe as seen in the universal metaphysics. On that view I am the universe and have absolute freedom. The truth is that my actual life is some ideal and some real balance of the two ‘poles’ of determinism. If this were not the case there would be no point to spiritual systems and there would be no point to proclamations of spiritual realization (by the realized or their followers).
This might come under the active attributes but it is convenient, because of its detail, to place it separately.
Epistemology is study of knowledge as an object. It could fall under psyche or object but it is given a separate section.
Its major aspects include nature, expressive mode, and criteria. Perception and know how are important but what is important here is conceptual and factual knowledge of the world.
Depiction vs. instrument.
In the case of depiction, may be metaphorical. Instrumental knowledge may of course be metaphorical, but this is not so pertinent to its criteria.
Metaphor not pertinent where there is no literal interpretation or intent.
Strictly, since myth and literality define a continuum, literality is de-emphasized rather than absent.
May be metaphorical; examples show approximation and therefore no universality to perfect depiction (this is often taken as impossibility of prefect depiction).
Pure metaphysical knowledge—depictive perfection—not ruled out.
Because the literal tends to the analytic, when emphasized it is enhanced by supplement from and partial containment by the mythic.
Criteria for depiction
Perfection is possible for being and experience though not their details; for the concepts of ‘universe’, ‘part’, and ‘void’ and consequently for the universal metaphysics.
Criteria for instrumental knowledge
The mythic case
Implicit—from adequacy to perfection.
De-emphasizes but does not suppress explicit criteria.
Perfection as depiction
The goal of the instrumental is not depiction per se. Therefore perfection is not essential to the instrumental; perfection or close to perfection of instrumental knowledge may, however, be useful when it obtains.
Generally, perfection in this sense lacks meaning.
There may be cases where it has meaning and obtains.
This, too, could come under object or psyche.
I give pertinent examples.
Meaning of tradition
A systematic treatment, based in the universal metaphysics and received systems, is in system of human knowledge.html.
The non literal in modern culture
Religion—on some interpretations religion is non literal. The universal metaphysics shows that the mythic has literal significance meaning when it is referential and does not violate ‘logic’ but its objects, rather than non-existent, are thin and unstable in being and experience. This is not to say that there is no moral or allegorical significance however such significance is not literal in its significance. This narrative provides that some aspects of religion are and should be literal while the non literal expressive mode must remain intensely significant.
The humanities are about human culture—included are languages, literature, the arts, philosophy, aspects of religion and social studies (including history, social science, anthropology, communication, law, and linguistics). Many of these straddle the literal-non literal divide.
Art and literature—derive significance from mythic and non-literal content. I mention these separately even though they may be included among the humanities because they are among the secular replacements for religion.
Primarily mythic but not devoid of literal meaning. Primarily, depictive perfection not pertinent.
Instrumental adequacy woven into myth which is also psychically significant. Instrumental adequacy and psychic significance, though not devoid of ‘error’ and ‘pain’, have intrinsic perfection.
Perfect, universal in scope, demonstrated, remote from objects (known in higher concept).
Shows ultimate knowledge of a universe which is ultimate in that there is no greater identity or manifestation.
Individual identity achieves ultimate identity-manifestation but, while in limited form, this is an endless ‘journey in being’.
The universal metaphysics shows a breakdown of the concrete-abstract and the science-logic divide. The idea is not entirely novel. WVO Quine saw logic and science as continuous. His approach was from the details: to distinguish universal from local truth. The metaphysics expands the scope of the universe so that every logical concept must have an object.
Reasons for consideration under knowledge are given earlier.
Study of logics, mathematics, and science
Applications include know how and technology.
Relative to literal depictive perfection, these are metaphorical-approximate-incomplete even though seen as perfect in many instances.
However, the appropriate criterion is adequacy.
May be perfect relative to this criterion.
Universal metaphysics shows perfection relative to this criterion when science and the logics remain in process.
Logic and mathematics are obviously abstract in that the primary modern study of them is symbolic (which is of course augmented by intuition and empirical study to which, for example, we may appeal as a source of significant results or theorems and ways to prove theorems). But why is science placed among the abstract? It will be convenient to consider the trio of logic, mathematics and science.
The nature and abstractness of logic, mathematics, and science
This trio does not exhaust the classes of abstract object but it is most significant for our purpose.
Logic and science
WVO Quine argued as follows (the expression of the argument is mine). A significant part of language or symbolic form is the intent and ability to refer to objects. One aspect of grammar is conceived as a set of rules (syntax) that make language not only referential (semantics) but also faithful (truth functional) in its reference. Then, logic pertains to universality (true in all possible worlds) and science to what not universal (true in this world—our science, or in some but not all possible worlds—‘universal’ sciences). Science is abstract in that, as observed earlier, it is not merely empirical: the laws are not concrete ‘things’ or even concrete patterns but are abstract patterns that are selected / rejected as the do / do not fit observation.
Modality and modal logic
Modal logics are, of course, logics but are given a separate section here because of the significance of the concept of possibility in the development of the metaphysics.
In a strict sense, modal logic is the logic of the concepts of necessity and possibility. The logics of belief and temporality are often included under modal logic but here we need primarily the strict sense.
Where does mathematics fit into this scheme? The patterns or structures that a mathematical system attempts to fit is not found in the concrete world—even if that is the first inspiration—but in an idealized form in intuition andor formal specification (while Bertrand Russell’s Logicism attempted to found mathematics in logic and logic alone, the conception of logic above rules this out).
Foundations of set theory
Introduction to practical metaphysics
Practical metaphysic is an ideal union of the universal metaphysics and tradition.
The system of practical metaphysics
The universal metaphysics frames and illuminates the practical knowledge of our literal cultures. The practical knowledge is essentially imperfect as literal but, for limited form, the imperfection is not and cannot be transcended. However, in process it is instrumental to realization as the journey in being. The practical illustrates the universal for which purpose it is effective. This constitutes a practical metaphysics which is the best possible and therefore perfect instrument of understanding and realization for limited form.
The practical metaphysics illuminates the ultimate and helps show pathways to it.
Where the cultures—literal to mythic—already have explicit or implicit recognition of the ultimate the practical metaphysics enhances the process.
The practical metaphysics adds to certainty and the magnitude of the ultimate. In showing the magnitude of the ultimate and the necessarily in process aspect of the path for limited forms, challenge and trial are not eliminated and attitude—existential and affirmative of ultimate knowledge and ends—is expressive of the ultimate in the present while instrumental to the ultimate as concrete.
The idea of rationality
Rationality is deciding ‘good’ actions. It is however not just about ‘external’ action—deciding on conceptual knowledge alternatives is also a question of rationality. Rationality has been idealized as deciding best actions but ‘best’ and even ‘good’ are far from given notions.
Enlightenment illusions regarding rationality and its nature
The idea of rationality has been emphasized especially since the enlightenment. Early under this period science and philosophy came under the sway of the Newtonian paradigm—the paradigm of the ‘clockwork universe’ inexorably unfolding according to given and immutable law. Under this paradigm it was thought or idealized that there is always one single best path of action that can be ‘rationally’ determined.
Rationality, values, and means
In fact there are multiple paths and we conceive and create some of them. There is no inexorable decision. As adapted organisms in an adapted society (it is not of course given or assumed that the adaptations are in any sense pan-causal or complete) we always arrive at a point where we inherit values or notions of what is of value—ends and processes—and means of achievement. Of course, though inherited, the values and means are neither given nor absolute. On the other hand they are accessible to rationality itself—i.e. to conceptual understanding or projection and conceptual and experimental criticism.
Rationality as an adaptation
Ends and value
Process and destination
Knowledge and know how
Reflexive experimental and conceptual method
Subjects or topics
Universe, world, identity of self, value, and means.
See the pertinent sections of the part ‘Journey’ in Journey in Being-detail.