Open universal metaphysics
Anil Mitra © June 28, 2015
This new worldview is centered on an open universal metaphysics (or ontology). What is such a metaphysics? Metaphysics is knowledge of things that is perfect according to appropriate criteria (which will be perfect faithfulness for the ultimate, best or good enough for realization for the immediate). To explain the terms ‘open’ and ‘universal’ let us look at some common worldviews.
Many of our worldviews—scientific, religious, metaphysical—take the immediate world to be as seen in common experience and specify the world outside the immediate arbitrarily. The default scientific and pragmatic view is that there is no world outside common experience (it is default in that for many it is how the world is seen on a day to day basis except when questioned). The common religious view is to specify how the world is outside and even interspersed among common experience—and is frequently divine, supernatural, and mythic or dogmatic (Buddhism tends to deny or minimize the supernatural). The tradition of metaphysics is to choose some prominent features of common experience as characteristic, to build a scheme or view that would explain them, and to project the view to the universe.
An open view is one that agrees with common experience where it is valid and in doing so accounts for the fact that common experience and our understanding of it may change. However, it is non-committal outside common experience (and is thus automatically universal). Can anything be said about the outside? It is commonly thought that nothing can be said (but ‘nothing can be said’ so far is frequently confused with ‘there is nothing’). The view to be developed here accepts that nothing can be said outside common experience but diverges from the reductionist, dogmatic, and speculative views (respectively of the default scientific view, religion, and earlier systematic metaphysics) in beginning with an analysis of what is experience and what counts as experience.
Here, it is appropriate to give a preliminary analysis of whether ‘anything can be said of the outside’. This will take the form of specifying the range of possible views or positions. The minimal view is that there is nothing or little outside or that the outside has essentially the same character as what we already know. The maximal view is that the total content of the world is all possibility that is consistent with what is determined by what we already know (the focus on ‘what is determined’ accounts for changing common experience and interpretation of it). The actual view must lie in the range defined by these extremes. Naturally, two candidates for the actual view stand out—(1) there is little outside, and (2) what is outside is infinite. The first option is favored by conservatism, by Ockham’s principle (minimizing hypotheses). The second option is suggested by the maximal view that the outside is all possibility—i.e. limitless—so, although counting states is baseless, a limitless collection of states is greater than any given infinity and so what is outside should be infinite if not limitless (which is favored by Ockham’s principle applied to what is not in the universe). The view to be demonstrated will be the maximal open universal metaphysics: the universe is the realization of all possibility.