THE origin and name OF THE NARRATIVE
ANIL MITRA, © APRIL 2014—June 2014
In 1986-1987 I wrote Evolution and Design, a naïve attempt to found knowledge and its nature in evolutionary process (the naïvety lay in the relative nature of the foundation). The work was materialist in nature. I might add that while I am scientific in orientation and while in modern times that must entail a materialist attitude, it does not entail strict materialism in which the constitution of all things is material. The reason for this is that while science—any culture—acknowledges what it sees, it does not follow that it has found the essence of what it sees or that what it sees is the entire extent or kind of what there is. Even though I did not formulate my thoughts with this clarity, I have always, except perhaps in very early naïvety, always acknowledged a loophole to materialism in which materialism and the scientific view of the cosmos were possibly incomplete, even though possessed of impressive domains of validity.
I became dissatisfied with Evolution and Design and the scientific-materialist perspective as a foundation for all knowing and being for the reasons stated above, because I suspected and hoped there is more, and, above all, because that foundation is not a foundation in the sense of being secure in itself. There is of course such a foundation which is to accept our lives, our knowledge, and our ignorance as they are. However, I wanted more.
I sought other perspectives. In the essays Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness (1999 based on an earlier version Metaphysics and the Problems of Consciousness of 1996) and Being, mind, and the absolute (1999), I learned about mind, experimented with idealism and tinkered with the idea of ‘the absolute’ as the foundation. I eventually became dissatisfied with these approaches because they too are relative and because the approach from mind, it seemed, should converge with the approach from matter when we understand mind and matter well enough. In working with ideas while writing these essays I realized that I needed a neutral perspective and here an acquaintance with the ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Heidegger suggested that I turn to ‘being’ (I should point out that ‘being’ has meant many things and that the use / connotation at which I have arrived is quite different from the uses to which these writers have put it).
Around this time, i.e. around 2000, I decided to join two streams of my life—the stream of ideas and the general stream of my endeavors in society and especially in nature. I found the two interacting and enhancing one another and I felt it important that the endeavor in ideas should support the more general endeavor. Thus, I came upon the idea of a ‘journey in being’. It was later that I saw (or showed or discovered) the essential connection between ideas and being.
While I wanted the foundation to be neutral to substance, I realized that it should also be neutral to time and space—that is the more neutral the foundation, the securer would be its base (the problem of making a neutral foundation the basis of significance would have to be addressed simultaneously with the search for foundation and, as it turned out, the two enhanced each other). It occurred to me one day in 1999 while hiking in the Trinity Mountains of Northwest California that the ‘equivalence’ of the universe to the void (nothing) would supply or at least lever the neutral foundation I sought. I was encouraged in part by the fact that in physics the energy of a distribution of matter can be zero since the negative gravitational energy can cancel the matter-energy.
However, I was unable to demonstrate the equivalence I sought until a second inspiration that occurred in the town of Weaverville in what I call the ‘shadow of the mountains’ (again, the Trinity Mountains) in the fall of 2002. The inspiration was to focus on the void and its properties rather than the universe. Levered by the concept of being, this insight led to the universal metaphysics of the narrative in which the universe has identity in an ultimate sense and every individual realizes this identity. However, while in limited from, realization is in the form of an endless journey in being of limitless extension and variety.
I have reworked the essay countless times. Much has changed—my understanding of the concepts and which concepts are fundamental; reworking of the proof; understanding of the metaphysics and its integration with culture; growth of the perspective from intellectual to include foundation for destiny, individual and civilization; dealing with paradox; application to an array of problems in philosophy and the boundary between philosophy and culture; however, the fundamental insight and goals are unchanged.
Thus, while the scope and topics of ‘journey in being’ have advanced significantly in terms of scope, demonstration, and clarity, and while there is enough variety in material—an entire philosophy and revision of the system of human knowledge and culture—I have thus far retained the title Journey in Being.
Still, I have thought of changing and may change the work to multiple works and the title to one of a number of alternatives.