The Way of Being
Main and Portable Version
Anil Mitra © May 2018—November 2018
Updated Thursday November 22, 2018 @ 11:07:17
Main and Portable Version
This, the first of six divisions, is about the essay as a text.
The next division, introduction to the way of being, is an informal introduction to The Way of Being itself. Its functions include (1) to explain what ‘the way’ and its aims are, (2) to explain the choice and meaning of the main concepts, and (3) to sequester informal discussion and so promote visibility of the structure of the main divisions.
The two main divisions are a worldview as foundation and the way of being derived from the worldview. The worldview is economical in explanation but detailed in meaning and consequences. The way has two templates for realization; its preliminaries are sufficient to deployment and personalization.
The penultimate division is a collection of resources. A purpose is to enable readers to internalize and develop the worldview and path, rather than accept the text as prescription.
The resources are followed by a glossary.
The first version of this essay appeared on the Internet in June 2003 as Journey in Being (2003).
What is our place in the universe? What is the universe and what is it like? How do we know? What is the greatest human potential? What may I achieve and contribute? I have long reflected on and been passionate about these questions.
In 1985 I began to write and act on ideas preliminary to The Way. In the years that followed I worked through a number of paradigms, each of which manifested as one or more essays.
I wanted to move beyond paradigm for it seemed to me that, if it were possible, therein would lie the greatest knowledge and realization. I worked with ideas from science and philosophy. The final insight on how to move beyond paradigm occurred in September 2002. I had been focusing on the manifest world (‘something-ness’). The insight was to focus on the void (‘nothingness’) and its properties. Particularly, the void exists and has no entities analogous to our laws of nature (e.g., the void is not the quantum vacuum).
Consequently, in September 2002 and subsequently (refinement is ongoing), I completed conception and proof of what I now call the fundamental principle of metaphysics—the universe is the realization of logical possibility.
The importance of the move to the void is that focusing on our accounts of the world (almost) necessarily involved slants or paradigms—seeing the entire universe from particular secular or nonsecular viewpoints designed or evolved for special purposes.
Over nine months following September 2002, I explored and wrote on the meaning and consequences of the fundamental principle. I was especially concerned with (1) the consequent metaphysics, (2) its mesh with received human knowledge and culture, and (3) the place and destiny of conscious and human beings in the universe, and with the.
The essay has appeared in many versions, each incremental upon the previous. While the core remains the same the outcome has manifested as a number of essentially new essays.
Material essential to realization is black. This material de-emphasizes explanation and proof. Definitions and important terms are bold. Hyperlinks are blue.
Light blue material is important but not essential to simple realization.
Dark red paragraphs elaborate essential and important material. When indicated these paragraphs are probable or possible explanations for necessary conclusions in the main divisions (worldview and the way).
The portable version—for a sketch of the essentials of the way and a path, read only the black text in the main divisions—worldview and the way. The table of contents also presents a sketch. Light blue material is important but not essential to simple realization.
The main version—for understanding read the entire text. This will enable independent discovery, path development, and realization. Light blue material is important but not essential to simple realization. Dark red paragraphs elaborate essential and important material.
For perspective consider secular and transsecular cultures. The secular emphasizes the world of our experience and tends to deny or ignore a possible beyond; though neither necessary nor universally held, this is a common dogma of secularism. The transsecular emphasizes a true and greater world beyond experience but it tends to do so as dogma.
However, it is possible and consistent with experience that there is a beyond that is limitless in extent, duration, variety, and peak of Being; and that this is realized by the universe, the individual, and civilization. This is shown in the worldview as an essential truth or fundamental principle of metaphysics (abbreviated the fundamental principle or FP), which is foundation for a perfect metaphysics (abbreviated the metaphysics or PFM). Thus the individual and the world move between limitation and perhaps deprivation to ultimate fullness—and a path is shown in the way.
In primal culture which comes before the secular-transsecular the beyond is not seen as distinct from the known. Though explicit knowledge of the universe is limited, primal culture is implicitly open to the limitless.
Let us step back from our modern sophistication so that we can become real and then incorporate our sophistication, improved, into the real.
Origins of The Way are in (1) my exploration of possibilities of human and universal achievement, (2) my experience and reflection on the nature of—knowledge of—the universe, and (3) reading, study, and reflection on the human traditions of knowledge and exploration.
Metaphysics is conceived as knowledge of the real. The way is grounded in a perfect metaphysics (PFM), also called the metaphysics.
This is not argued to be the only meaning of metaphysics but it is shown to be substantial and powerful. The metaphysics developed—the perfect metaphysics—is shown to have ultimate power of a kind.
The possibility of metaphysics has been doubted, especially since David Hume and Immanuel Kant. Here, however, metaphysics is developed by construction.
What are the essentials to construction of the metaphysics? A first is Being, which is defined to render it definite and consistent. Definiteness and consistency are made possible by sufficient abstraction and an adequate conception of meaning, respectively. In the present conception, Being is utterly trivial but this is precisely a source of its conceptual force. A second source of its conceptual force is transparency from which it is not and need not be referred to some other ground for foundation.
Also essential is an adequate system of fundamental concepts. The system found here derives from Being and includes the universe (all Being), beings (parts of the universe), power (affecting and being affected), the void (null Being), possibility (logical and real). This empowers an ultimate abstract metaphysics, which shows that all beings realize the ultimate. In turn this shows that though pragmatic knowledge may be uncertain status as knowledge, imprecise, and incomplete, it is nonetheless a perfect instrument of ultimate realization (because there is no other and it suffices). The abstract and the pragmatic thus combine to form a metaphysics—the perfect metaphysics.
(While what logic requires is minimal and austere, conversely what it allows is ultimately rich.)
The greatest or maximal possibility must be logical possibility for the logically impossible cannot exist in any world. On the other hand, physical impossibility, for example, may obtain in some world.
The universe is limitlessly greater than our cosmos.
The way is grounded in
1. Our world and the human traditions of knowledge and exploration.
2. The position that the universe and its beings realize the greatest possibility (e.g., in variety, magnitude, extension, and value). This position is called the fundamental principle of metaphysics or just the fundamental principle and abbreviated FP.
3. A demonstration of the fundamental principle.
4. A system of metaphysics. The system is the mesh of an abstract part founded in the fundamental principle and a pragmatic part constituted of what is valid in the knowledge, practices, ways, and explorations of human and individual culture. The mesh is called the perfect metaphysics (PFM) or simply the metaphysics (TM).
It is and will be found natural and necessary to doubt the fundamental principle and the metaphysics. What does it mean that the universe is realization of the greatest possibility? Is that not contradictory to experience and perhaps even paradoxical? Is not metaphysics thought possible?
Let us comment on such doubts and responses to doubt.
This section addresses doubt(s) regarding the fundamental principle and the related perfect metaphysics.
The critical doubts include (i) self-consistency or conceptual consistency and (ii) external consistency or consistency with fact—experience of our world and science. Possibility as logical possibility achieves self-consistency, (which also achieves maximal possibility. Fact is perceptual and consistency with fact is may be brought under conceptual consistency by seeing percepts as concepts (seeing concepts as mental contents); this broadens ‘logic’ to what is frequently called ‘argument’. It does so by finding oneness of fact and concept rather than by their mere juxtaposition.
This raises a further issue—if consistency with fact is required, how can the universe be the realization of logical possibility be greater than our cosmos at all, let alone vastly or limitlessly greater. This is addressed in the section the block universe, determinism and indeterminism where it is found that while the universe as universe is deterministic, the perspective from a relatively isolated cosmos is a join of determinism of some structures with indeterminism that allows non-sentient and conscious creative play in realization.
Doubt is essential. Therefore let us observe that
1. As noted, the fundamental principle is demonstrated.
2. Metaphysics is not just found possible—it is found possible by the construction and demonstration of the metaphysics.
3. The principle and so the metaphysics have heuristics and alternate proofs which help address doubt and questions of intuition.
4. Further doubt should arise. Some essential doubts arise and are addressed as follows. A hypothesis about the world may be in error on account two kinds of inconsistency—factual or empirical and internal or logical. The question of logic is addressed in seeing that the greatest—maximal—possibility is logical possibility (i.e., logic is the constraint on a concept for possible realization; this also shows that whereas a naïve concept of possibility may harbor contradiction, the concept employed here does not). Empirical consistency is addressed in seeing that it is entirely possible that our cosmos is embedded a far greater universe which is incompletely determined by the cosmos.
5. Remaining doubt is acknowledged. Keeping in mind the empirical and logical consistency, proofs, and heuristics, this doubt may be addressed by regarding the fundamental principle as (a) a universal principle or (b) an existential hypothesis or attitude. The purposes to #a and #b are similar. It is that to wait for certainty is paralyzing. Of course we want some justification and we do not want absurdity but those are given. Then, FP as universal principle is a theory to be explored and analyzed, motivated by its grounding and power. As existential hypothesis, its basis is similar, relieving us of crippling needs for certainty—but not the practical concern with it—and enables us to face the world – universe – and future with an effective combination of doubt and openness, of grounding and transcendence.
Doubt is critical to reason (defined in on reason). But doubt ought to be reflexively applied to itself. Then doubt and imagination are seen as complementary. Imagination is critically essential for without it there is nothing to doubt and so no knowledge at all.
Imagination and doubt are supplemented by seeking action and experience, intuition, linguistic expression, emotion and value.
To imaginative thinkers these sources were already there; and imagination itself is a source of doubt. Doubt and imagination complement one another.
Intellectual conservatism is projection to the whole universe of views derived from experience of a part, e.g. the local cosmos. In continuation of the earlier liberation from the dogma of the secular, this section further exposes the fallacy of intellectual conservatism and its retardation of the human endeavor.
A natural tendency to intellectual conservatism is the difficulty of seeing beyond what we see. But this tacit tendency is recognized and seen, even among liberal thinkers, as effective truth.
The purpose to the examination is to discover such conservatism, if it is present, in oneself and so to overcome its limiting influence.
I will examine in some detail a range of sources of intellectual conservatism. But before doing so let us look at a mechanism of how society as a block becomes conservative, even on the liberal side. A general mechanism is that of the culturally emergent belief. When a sufficient number of persons—public intellectuals, media analysts, teachers, and private individuals—think and act or even talk or write as though a certain belief is true, that belief may emerge as if it belonged to common if tacit consciousness.
Doubt is good. It helps avoid the pitfall of careless thought. It encourages imaginative thought and criticism in interaction, which promote real understanding and knowing.
We may all fall into that predicament. Therefore it is effective, if seeking truth and the ultimate, to understand the sources of intellectual conservatism. It would help as overcome and see.
What are those sources? Here is a system of sources to intellectual conservatism
1. Insistence on absolute proof. There are few realms of knowledge where there is such proof. An Einstein quote “as far as … mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality”. Our education tends to instill a trust in proof and proof alone; proof is important but insistence on action only where there is absolute proof may be crippling. If knowledge of reality is not certain, then to wait for absolute certainty is limiting. The optimal is certainty as appropriate; and in some cases that means taking a risk based on appropriate levels of certainty.
2. To take our cultural paradigms as truth is adaptive to a significant degree. However, it can be overdone. The theoretical yet empirical laws of science pertain to the observed cosmos which may be embedded in a far larger universe, yet there are strong tendencies in all historical ages of science so far to take the laws as pertaining to the entire universe. One reason for that is intellectual conservatism in science that has more than one root (it should be understood that this is not a criticism of the laws or of science, but of paradigmatic attitudes toward the laws and science). Another is that we see only what has been revealed and therefore what has been revealed is taken as the universe—especially so far as there is suspicion or prohibition of imagination, even critical imagination; the error is perhaps natural but it is undesirable. The proper conservative maxim or educational line ought to be where we have not seen we do not know; but there are common if tacit reactionary conservative maxims—where we have not seen we cannot know and where we have not seen there is nothing. A problem with even the proper conservative maxim is—as seen in this essay—that we do not perfectly know where we have and have not seen but have only an image of it. Therefore the related liberal maxim ought to be where we think we have not seen we can seek to see and explore imaginatively and critically.
3. The attitude of conservatism is already built into our modern attitude to education in and correctness in language. I talk of prescriptivism in grammar and meaning (but this will lead immediately into an issue of openness vs authority in knowledge). The subjects are taught as though our languages have captured precisely the forms of the real. Now that is already metaphysics in the ad hoc sense, for the prescribed is received and while it may be good enough for common and even scientific purposes that is no guarantee that it captures the immediate real accurately, let alone the ultimate real. Do we know that the countable infinity of linguistic representation is sufficient and therefore that intuition is not essentially necessary? Do we know that the subject-predicate form of the sentence is metaphysically precise or complete? Do we know that the reality of situations captured conventionally by a subject-verb-object form is so captured completely and accurately? Do we have adequate means of overcoming these limitations, even in science? Why does one language prescribe one way and another prescribe in an at least apparently contradictory way? In English is our treatment of tense adequate (tense free verbs are often necessary but not part of the canon except by convention)? Do we know that the universe is universally tensed? These criticisms are not intended to knock language down (but are points worth pondering regarding the future of languages). What is being criticized is the absolute sense of reality we tend to ascribe to the limited linguistic forms—and how this, from the earliest education, skews our sense of reality in favor of the standard but metaphysically unfounded paradigms.
4. From consideration of issues of prescriptivism we see that language, meaning, and knowledge are not separable (this will be further confirmed later in meaning. How do we tend to intellectual conservatism in knowledge? Some ways are noted above. But there is more general issue. Are our cultural modes of knowledge and education the best for the future? Consider the modern (2000-2018) emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (the STEM fields) the best investment in the long term future? What of the modern general secular academic and knowledge divisions? We tend to think so. But in any approach to both immediate and ultimate futures what emphasis should we place on the intrinsic or inner side of persons? Is that not where ‘Being’ resides? These are important issues and the emphasis on the stem fields is not necessarily the best approach. There are alternatives (yoga) and perhaps we should emphasize a combination of material and intrinsic approaches.
5. The opposition of religion and science—of the secular and the trans-secular. On one hand the secular view of the real is limited to and by the empirical. Encourage a secular thinker to think beyond the confines of secularism (“outside the box”) and they are often unable to do so because of the limitation of paradigm pointed out above. Now, explain to the secularist that their ‘world’ may be embedded in a far larger universe and they may blink because their thought has not gone there (they may attempt to kill you with their long hard stare—a form of confidence in their ignorance). Now, further explain that we already have images of a world beyond. You will get an incredulous look because they will be thinking of such things as the dogmatic cosmology of the religions or the merely speculative metaphysics of some thinkers. The whole intellectual apparatus is ‘designed’, not just to not go there, but to prohibit it; but where the prohibition is thought to be rational, it is, as has just been seen, due to extreme and essentially and unnecessarily limiting ig-norance.
Given the fundamental principle—i.e. given that the individual and civilization realize the ultimate, the Aim of Being is realization of the ultimate from the immediate; it begins with living ethically (i.e., well and enjoyably) in the immediate which it continues into the ultimate.
The essay is not a compilation or synthesis of received thought. It is a new and ultimate system of metaphysics and action synthesized with received thought and practices.
Readers should expect to find their understanding and intuition challenged. To resolve this challenge it will be effective (a) to be prepared to find a new and perhaps counterintuitive system, (b) to be prepared to revise their formal and intuitive thought, not to deny or discard their received thought, but to incorporate it with the new, (c) therefore to follow the development in the text carefully, paying particular attention to definitions of the terms and to the emerging system, and (d) forming a practice of thinking dually in terms of their common experience and interpretation of the world and the new metaphysics and its consequent cosmology.
For understanding, it is essential to follow meanings of terms as defined—to not conflate meaning(s) in the essay with received meanings. Two suggestions to see the system as a coherent whole are (i) cursory and detailed readings and (ii) to pay careful attention to integration received thought into the system.
Once meanings are absorbed, it may be then useful to achieve richness of understanding by using the new system to interpret and mesh with received meanings. This may entail mutual critical enhancement and revision of the way and tradition.
The main divisions of this mini and portable edition are a worldview on discovery of the way and the way on a path of realization. This is followed by resources and a glossary. Print editions have an index.
To be in extension—or located in extension—is to be located in sameness and difference or their absence.
Identity is the sense of sameness of object (see existent below) or person. Duration is marked by difference for a given identity; spatial extension is marked by different contiguous identity. It follows that extension and duration are neither separate nor necessarily separable; and that spacetime, where it obtains, is immanent to the world; spacetimes may occur in different patches and do not constitute an absolute or universal framework for the world.
To exist is to be validly describable (“predicated by”) some form of the verb to be—i.e., to be located extension.
I.e. a being is that which is located in extension.
The plural of ‘a being’ is ‘beings’.
The hypothetical being that affects no being does not exist.
The foundational force of the concept of Being lies in (i) its neutrality—it predicates nothing other than location in extension (space and time or spacetime are not posited) and (ii) that it neither refers nor needs to refer to further foundation, e.g. substance or infinite regress. Thus the term ‘existent’ rather than ‘object’. Next is a brief catalog of existents or beings.
The following have Being—i.e., are beings: entities, interactions, processes, properties, the universe, power, the void, possibility, logic, and laws or patterns of nature (this is justified and the list extended below).
That power is the measure of Being and human experience seems to be an example of power suggests that foundation in experience is superior to external foundation—i.e. in posits such as substance or the ‘relative’ foundation in infinite regress (neither of which is true foundation).
Naturally we should be concerned with error and illusion. We should also be concerned with the question of whether our experience shows or is even capable of showing the entire range of Being. We will find in the subsequent sections that
1. Our experience is in fact not capable of showing the entire range (as follows this is not a true limit). However, we will show (i) and envelope to that range (i.e. logic, FP) (ii) use imagination and logic to fill in the range to a degree hitherto unseen while remaining in the bounds of reason, (iii) see that the pragmatic aspect of knowledge and experience reveal what is needed at an stage of being for ongoing realization and that according from FP, this is perfect relative to the goal of realization.
2. Given a concept that satisfies constraints of logic, it is realized in the universe (and though pragmatic concepts may not satisfy logic they are adequate and perfect in the process of realization).
(Being requires no further foundation.)
3. In elaboration of the list in the first paragraph of this section, the following have Being—i.e., are beings:
Experience, beings in general, Being (itself), entities, interactions, processes, properties, universals, tropes (e.g. the redness of yesterday’s sunset), compound beings, and, in anticipation of later concepts, the universe, power, the void, possibility, logic, laws – theories – patterns of nature, concepts and their objects, meaning and meanings, the systems of mathematics and their objects, concrete and abstract existents, matter in a pragmatic sense (the concept of matter has a rough object), thoughts, feelings, consciousness and more.
The connotation, here, of ‘experience’ over and above consciousness, is that it refers not particularly to pure consciousness but also to attitudinal and active (agentive) consciousness.
From the Cartesian argument, there is experience. A standard worldview may be built in which there are centers of consciousness—minds possessed by individual persons and other animals—in a neutral or ‘material’ medium. In a slight variation of this view, the medium is also possessed of experientiality but of low intensity. This variation has interpretation as a the view that the world is a field of experience; it includes the standard view as a special case and is especially illuminating of the nature of the real in view of the fundamental principle.
The individual never gets outside experience. The being that affects no experience is effectively non-existent. Being and experience are bound as one. Experience is the medium of our being, existential connection to and place in the world. It is the place of existential or significant meaning. All exploration takes place in experience; however, as the world is in experience, it also takes place in the world; this is elaborated in the next paragraph.
From FP, the being that eternally affects no experience, even indirectly, does not exist.
Referential meaning is a system of concepts and their objects. This is shown necessary (in details below) for meaning and sufficient to significant precision of language and significant elimination of paradox due to assumption of meaning in arbitrary syntactic or semantic constructs.
There is no knowledge of being-in-itself not because experience creates Being but because there is no being-in-itself. However, with sufficient abstraction knowledge is as if precisely of a being-in-itself and this obtains for Being-as-Being and experience-as-experience. Otherwise the as-if knowledge of beings is pragmatic, provided appropriate pragmatic criteria are satisfied—e.g., the scientific. Since the individual never gets outside experience, ‘concepts’ and ‘referents’ or ‘objects’ (as-if beings) are not distinct; the concept is partial and flexible and may be include ad hoc or compound linguistic signs; the object is the total concept possessed of ‘object constancy’ in virtue of its relative constancy and mental integration. That the concept may refer is due to its iconic character which may be essentially iconic or linguistic by convention. Without this iconic character, reference is impossible. Meaning is the join of the concept and object (of course the concept is also an object). Insofar as ‘floating’ concepts may be counter-empirical and illogical, this concept of meaning is necessary. Insofar it gives precision to language and eliminates paradoxes of fact and logic, it is sufficient. An immediate example is that without iconic association the word ‘tiger’ has no meaning for it would raise fear in a jungle only for those who know English. Another example is in direct resolution of the paradox of negative existentials—e.g., if one says that unicorns do not exist, then, since there are no unicorns, what is it that is being said to not exist? The problem of negative existentials, then, is that the claim of non-existence seems to lack meaning. The resolution from the present concept of meaning is that ‘unicorns do not exist’ means ‘there is no object corresponding to the concept of the unicorn’.
Experience is the place of linguistic and referential conceptual meaning and what foundation of knowledge there is.
Though Being is not a being, with sufficient abstraction the distinction is null.
The universe has no creator.
If FP, the universe is dynamically one (there are no eternally non interacting beings).
The universe is either accidental or (logically) necessary. Its ultimate cause is either accident or necessary.
The terms natural law and theory are generally reserved for patterns that attain significant generality, typically by being expressed in abstract terms. A natural law of theory is a fact over the observed data that it abstracts; alternatively if it aspires to go beyond those facts it is hypothetical. Even when, by its success, it is regarded as a theory it still partakes of the hypothetical (until the whole universe should be known to be subsumed under it).
We will write this as ‘laws have Being’ with the understanding that it is talking of Laws or patterns (it so happens that natural laws—the readings—also have Being).
Whereas there are experience, Being, beings, power, and the universe, it is not clear that the void exists.
To prove existence of the void, we first prove a preliminary.
Proof that there must be something rather than nothing. The universe must be either in a manifest or a void state. Suppose it is in a void state. Since laws have Being, the void must then have no laws. If, then, from the void, there is a logically possible state that does not emerge, that would be a law of the void. That is, the assumption of non emergence of some logically possible state from the void leads to a contradiction. That is, not just something but all logically possible states must emerge from the void. In particular, given nothing, something must always emerge. What has been proven is that neither the void nor the manifest are eternal.
Heuristic probability argument for something rather than nothing. The number of possible states of something far exceeds the number of void sates (one). Something is therefore vastly more probable. This heuristic is due to Robert Nozick’s Philosophical Explanations, 1981. It is heuristic because the assignment of equal probability to concepts of states is arbitrary in this case. Equivalently we could count the number of nonmanifest states and manifest states as one each; in that case the probability of manifest being is one half.
Observation. This—i.e. the proof—resolves what Martin Heidegger called the fundamental question of metaphysics. A better fundamental question of metaphysics is the issue of what has Being. Since Being includes all kinds, even laws, this is the only question of metaphysics.
We now prove existence of the void. The same argument also suggests that the realizations of the universe are far greater than the empirical.
Let us comment on this heuristic argument. First, it is an ontological heuristic since it appeals only to existence. Second, it strikes at the heart of the question of the nature of Being and meaning—a meaning is a concept and its objects; the void has no manifest beings, yet it is (recognized as) a being. If we accept this extreme neutrality, this heuristic counts as a proof (conditional upon the neutrality).
The number of voids is irrelevant except that there is at least one.
The fundamental principle of metaphysics has been identified as assertion that the universe is the realization of logical possibility. The principle is abbreviated the fundamental principle and FP.
Note that this also implies that the universe cannot be in a state of eternal manifest Being—and therefore, since it cannot be eternal nothingness, it must alternate between something and nothing—it is everything that is logically possible.
Here are two heuristic arguments for the fundamental principle.
First heuristic argument for the fundamental principle. Think of the issue of the next development in fundamental physics—say, integration of the four fundamental forces perhaps in a quantum theory of gravity. There are tentative approaches—quantum loop gravity, string theory—but we do not know what approach will be successful let alone its precise form. But what would the subsequent physics be like? We have little idea. But we do know for certain that the ultimate boundary will be at or inside the limit of logic.
Let us comment on the first heuristic as an argument regarding unification and universality in metaphysics. The first argument shows that just as the fundamental theories progress toward unification and universality, so the fundamental principle and associated metaphysics are ultimate in unification and universality.
The second heuristic is based on the following preliminaries. An explanation of a phenomenon—e.g., an event or the existence of a being—is an account that enhances understanding of the phenomenon. It is not a proof but suggests why or how the phenomenon occurs. Thus we might attempt to explain why a being exists. The second heuristic is based on the idea of an (ontologically) satisfactory explanation. What is a satisfactory explanation—i.e., how ought it be defined? Let us explore the idea. A possible explanation—i.e., that the phenomenon is possible—is not ontologically satisfactory because it allows that the phenomenon might be accidental. However, even a probable explanation allows that the phenomenon might be accidental. If the probability is very high, we may accept it as pragmatically satisfactory; however, the possibility that the phenomenon may be accidental rules out that it could be entirely ontologically satisfactory. Therefore a satisfactory explanation will be necessary—it will not only enhance understanding but it will show why the phenomenon must occur… why the being must exist. A satisfactory explanation must be necessary, i.e. not contingent for to be contingent means that it could be otherwise (and that the phenomenon may be accidental). Now, what if the explanation is based on a premise, e.g. that some other being exists and its existence entails the phenomenon? Such an explanation is conditional. If there is no premise (as in a theorem of pure and certain logic which has no extra-logical premise) or if the premise is a certain or given truth (e.g., there is Being) then the explanation is unconditional. The degree to which a conditional explanation is satisfactory cannot exceed the degree to which the best explanation of the premise is satisfactory. If the premise is contingent, so is the phenomenon even if, given the premise, the explanation necessitates the conclusion. Therefore conditional explanations are not ontologically satisfactory (examples are substance and axiomatic explanations or relative explanations, e.g. infinite regress).
Therefore an ontologically satisfactory explanation must be necessary and unconditional. The converse is also true, for if the explanation is necessary and conditional it makes no posited premise (any premises are certain) and the explanation necessitates the phenomenon.
Second heuristic argument. Assume that there is a satisfactory explanation for the existence of the empirical cosmos (or of anything). The explanation must be that the empirical cosmos is necessary. That is, it is required by logic alone (equivalently, the ‘cause’ is the void). This by the way shows that logic is not a ‘thing’ or a ‘limit’ (but is, rather, a minimal constraint on thought and perception for realism—the inclusion of perception joins fact and logic). Now, from symmetry if the empirical cosmos is necessary then all logically possible states are necessary which is the fundamental principle. And it would follow that the void exists.
Let us comment on the second heuristic as a transcendental argument. The argument that a satisfactory explanation of anything manifest entails the fundamental principle is a transcendental argument. Since existence of our cosmos is given, this transcendental argument may be regarded to be a proof of the fundamental principle.
Two heuristic arguments are (i) that the boundary of all scientific law must be logic and (ii) that if there is a satisfactory explanation of the existence of our cosmos, it must be necessary and then by symmetry it must also necessitate all possibility.
The fundamental principle provides a meaning of the term ‘logic’ from which logic can be explored as logic—over and above prescribing logic from experience and analysis of examples of deductive inference.
The foundation or cause of existence may be seen to be logic rather than contingency or infinite regress. This is a form of a principle of sufficient reason (PSR) and meaning of cause that is inclusive of but not limited to Leibniz’ conception of the principle and received meanings of causation—except that it is a realization of ‘causeless cause’.
Let us now state some mostly obvious consequences of the fundamental principle.
1. The metaphysics as knowledge of the real developed so far derives its truth from abstraction, for it is in abstraction that we have perfect knowledge of experience, Being, beings, power, the universe, Law, and the void, and the implied perfections of the nature of the empirical and logic (and the possibility of metaphysics has been shown by construction). The metaphysics thus far is abstract.
2. The universe has identity; its form and identity have no limits in emergence, extension, variety of beings, kinds of being including cosmos and law, peak and dissolution and magnitude of peak, and value. That is, the only limits on concepts for realization are those of logic. The individual inherits this power. In the formulation of Advaita Vedanta, Atman or the individual self is identical to Brahman or the identity of the universe.
The abstract metaphysics implies (i) there are paths to the ultimate,
(ii) these never finally dull in freshness and exquisiteness of Being, (iii)
however, there is pain and suffering, and (iv) it is unavoidable and not to
4. While the abstract metaphysics shows the existence of the path, it does not show the way. For that the entire human tradition, ancient and modern, is available; of course subject to review for validity. But just as we ought not to tarry to long over suffering, we ought not to be too much detained by the imperfection of tradition. Given the fact of realization, what is needed is a pragmatic approach to tradition as pragmatic. We could call it a pragmatic metaphysics by pragmatic criteria (extended by our own faculties of reason which include imagination and exploration). The abstract and the pragmatic mesh as follows. The abstract illuminates, the pragmatic illustrates. The abstract shows the ultimate; the pragmatic shows an approach; the abstract is perfect and therefore guides the pragmatic; the pragmatic is imperfect according to the criterion of perfection for the abstract but as an instrument and given that there is no better, it is perfect in its own pragmatic way. Together they constitute a dual metaphysics with perfect dual criteria. This integrated and seamless dual is named, as noted earlier, the perfect metaphysics (PFM) or, simply, the metaphysics (TM).
5. Since the universe is the realization of logic, all concepts are realized subject to the concepts satisfying logic. This provides a new interpretation for both concrete objects and abstract objects, for they are now both seen as ‘equally’ real. The distinction is one that is ‘relative’ to our cognitive system; the concrete are generally perceptual and the abstract are conceptual in the higher sense; the concrete are observed as being in our spacetime and causal but the abstract are not so observed because the features of concreteness are more or less abstracted out in the definition; and the abstract and the concrete form a continuum rather a polarity.
The metaphysics so far derives from abstraction. It implies the Vedantic identity of Atman and Brahman. It implies there are paths to the ultimate. Merged with experience and valid knowledge from human cultures and traditions it constitutes a perfect metaphysics (PFM) that shows paths. It shows a new realistic interpretation of concrete objects and abstract objects in which the distinction is not ontological but epistemological in that it lies in how we know them.
The next section elaborates on the merging of identities and shows their limitless even in view of the facts of our cosmos.
The block picture developed in this section is crucial to (i) seeing how the universe is not determined by the state or facts of our cosmos and that it is limitlessly greater despite those facts and (ii) one way of seeing how individual identities merge in ultimate identity (Brahman).
A world defined by space and time is deterministic if the present state determines the past and the future. If we trace the trajectory of each element, we get a block picture of the universe.
Now relax the block picture by (a) relaxing spatiotemporality to the more primitive sameness, difference, and their absence and (b) relaxing determinism to the greatest extent possible. From FP, the block is absolutely indeterministic in that from any given part, no particular contiguous state emerges; yet it is absolutely deterministic in that all states emerge. At a given point—cosmos, locale, person—there are many convergent and divergent histories.
The resulting block universe is a description that may suppress time by seeing it as similar to space but there is no implication that time and change are not real.
An excellent definition of determinism is that of a part—not necessarily a slice in time—determining the whole. This definition is inclusive of others and, as seen below, a source of insight into the presence of local indeterminism, given the determinism of the block picture.
A cosmos is connected in a partially deterministic way. However, the remainder of the universe is at most very partially determined by the cosmos. Relative to beings in the cosmos, the universe is near totally indeterministic.
What is the place of the individual in the block? Let us enquire of the relation among identical persons. FP implies that there are limitless copies of a given person or individual; and that in some ultimate sense they are one. But are they truly the same person—and how? Common material sense suggests that they are not the same person. Yet the question is a good one in that the common sense answer is not obviously correct. However, we can say that if the identical copies of a person are the same person, then in some sense or way different persons must be same person. individual. How would or might it occur? The following is one explanation and mechanism.
It may occur in the absolutely indeterminist / absolutely determinist block picture. Many precise copies of an individual merge and emerge at the ‘location’ of any copy. Neighboring submergents and emergents are similar (or identical). They merge with and emerge from the block; especially in the peak phases of or in the block. The different identities are one within the occasional peak identities or Brahmans and approach to Brahman.
Given the constructive arguments and consistency for FP and doubt, treating it as universal law provides an ultimate explanatory and predictive principle to explored, analyzed, and deployed pending confirmation. This relieves us of crippling attitude toward certainty and may move us optimally toward our greatest future.
As existential hypothesis, its basis is similar, but its effect is existential and emotional—and therefore also motivational. It enables ‘Being’ with an effective or existentially grounding attitudinal mix of doubt and openness, of grounding and transcendence. Facing the limitless, it grounds us in the present
Reason is means of analyzing and executing activities well; reason is in the world and so both part and object of (the) metaphysics.
In this version of the essay, reason is implicit in (i) abstraction, from which is derived an abstract metaphysics-epistemology and logic, (ii) mesh with and interpretation of tradition, science (seen as inclusive of mathematics), exploration, and experience as perfect in their pragmatism.
An important issue of reason is that of foundation. Can we be sure of our claims about knowledge and the outcome of intentional action? If so how and to what extent?
Generally, there is no absolute foundation (we have seen, of course, that there may be—and is—(1) in the abstract case for Being and related concepts there is perfect capture of an object (existent) by concepts and (2) which implies that the pragmatic case is perfect according to criteria set up relative to the perfect abstract. However, this does not entail knowledge of the concrete is perfect according to common criteria.
There is no general absolute foundation.
The best that can be done is (1) to recognize that foundation, such as it may be, must begin where we are, with our knowledge measured according to our best criteria which may be imperfect and (2) then work downward toward foundation and upward to application.
The document now takes up The Way of Being.
The Aim of Being, as already noted, is realization of the ultimate (from the immediate); it begins with living ethically (i.e., well and enjoyably) in the immediate which it continues into the ultimate.
The approach must be a reflective balance of living in the immediate and the ultimate. It may begin as naïve but it should grow to consider how to achieve effective and perhaps optimal integration.
The initial approach ought to be wide angled and generic. This avoids being pinned down to false commitment. It learns from the secular to integrate cognition-emotion-value and thought-perception-action but not to be bound by secular paradigm. It learns from religion—the spiritual and the communal side—to see and seek beyond the secular but not to be bound by dogma.
The preliminary sections of this part are a sketch of ideas that serve as a guide to principle.
These sketches lead to two detailed generic templates—local and universal—which are adjustable and customizable to particular situations and points of view for individual and civilization.
The templates are customizable to a range of approaches.
We begin in the immediate—our world—which is already in contact with the ultimate.
The Aim of Being, as already noted, is realization of the ultimate (from the immediate); it begins with living ethically (i.e., well and enjoyably) in the immediate which it continues into the ultimate.
It is living in terms of magnitudes and emerging values, in the immediate and ultimate as one.
General cosmology has been considered earlier, especially in
In this version of the way, cosmology is now developed briefly as a system of consequences of the fundamental principle.
A cosmology of form and formation may be developed, based in analogy with the variation and selection from evolution, rendered generically as a process with elements of indeterminism and determinism. For emergence of form from the void, or new form that is novel relative to the old, indeterminism is essential. One step emergence is possible and, consistently with the fundamental principle, it will occur. However, for efficiency—and enjoyment—it is reasonable to expect incremental emergence with variation to more and less stable states but in which the stable are long lived and therefore preponderantly populate the universe. It is a process in which two individually non-creative modes of process, the indeterminist and the determined, join as creative. It has more than one phase: in elementary phases it is mechanistic—what determines the increments is local; there is no influence of the global. One early phase is the emergence from sameness and difference, via identity, of space and time or spacetime-like cosmologies. Initially there is neither holographic nor teleologic determinism. However, when sentient form emerges—and from FP it must—it may and sometimes will become a factor in further evolution which may and sometimes will become global in design and process. From FP, then, given any state or sub-state of the universe, a greater state of sentience-sapience and sentient-sapient design will emerge.
Earlier it was seen that the universe must have phases of manifestation and absence of manifestation—i.e. of something (‘everything’) and nothingness, of Being and the void. Why, however, is there sentience-sapience? From FP, there must be phases of it. Further, as beings that have no effect on experience are nonexistent, the universe is essentially experiential.
The variables of Being are first, of Being—experiential vs material.
The experiential and material are detailed as: psyche – culture, nature – society – civilization, and universal – unknown. This is captured in an acronym ‘PNSU’ which is now detailed and explained.
1. Of psyche-mind and culture—characteristics: identity-inner, mode of being-intrinsic, process-transforming, necessity-essential, and ultimacy-ultimate.
2. Of nature and society-civilization—characteristics: identity-outer, mode of being-instrumental and technological, process-sustaining, necessity-contingent, and ultimacy-immediate. The natural is sub-typed into the elementary or physical and the emergent complexity of the living and associated psyche.
3. Of the universal-unknown—join of the characterizations and beyond—the realm of the concrete to abstract metaphysics.
Reason is the general means. The nature of reason and dynamics of agency are developed in other documents—see document and database design.html for some sources.
The ways are the ways of sustaining and transformation from the religions, spiritual practices, and therapeutic techniques, viewed rationally—i.e. critically and imaginatively and in terms of metaphysics (with cosmology and value).
Our adaptation is (i) non-dogmatic, (ii) experiential, learning, and eclectic according to reason, and (iii) not exclusively transsecular; includes material transformation where efficient.
An example—Buddhism: the four truths and the eightfold path. I mention Buddhism, not as a prescription but because it has at its core a psychology and a healthy but incomplete detachment from dogma.
Impediments are blocks to effective reason.
Examples of impediments or blocks are resentment, attachment and desire, anger and aversion, ignorance including mass opinion and its emergence, suffering due to ignorance, inadequate appreciation of as well as over concern with impediments.
Pain and suffering are unavoidable and so should be sufficiently alleviated to promote process which in turn helps alleviate suffering.
Efficient realization must be a balance between resolution of blocks and engagement in realization—for meaning and efficiency. That is, resolution is important for living well and efficiency of realization but it is important for it not to not become a sole focus.
The resource is reason which includes ways, catalysts, instrumental means, and programming.
The catalysts are similar to the ways but more focused and emphasize the cathartic.
Examples—Meditation: (1) emptying, (2) exploration of inner realms, (3) contemplation of the ultimate and understanding death as catalyst, (4) in action. Also see the templates for further examples such as Beyul.
Physical exploration—aims: Civilizing the universe; universe as identity.
The means include metaphysics and physics of eternity.
Theory and technology of minds in machines or machines as minds—(1) the essential conditions for embodied mind, (2) theory, (3) evolution, (4) self-design.
The individual is the ‘locus’ of realization.
Where we live, place and home may be conducive or counter-conducive to realization.
The conducive is important. However, it is also important to spend time in the world at large.
Sangha and building sangha—community of shared aspiration, ways, and action.
Are the teacher, leader, and exemplar necessary? They are useful and efficient as focal point, organizer, inspiration, and organization.
The original exemplar is essential. The individual aims at independence in the way.
Place, community, and leadership. Is leadership essential? Yes as inspiration, channel, and focus; but authority is institution for its own sake rather than realization.
For the open world, see the world at large above, in the section Place.
The purpose this section is to note some ideal and practical issues. It summarizes some of the foregoing points but it is also an open record of the result of experience and reflection. It is therefore subject to review and improvement.
1. The ideal and the real,
2. The spiritual and science,
3. Reflection on death and implications for the immediate and the ultimate,
5. Beyul—the real in the natural world.
One may learn from religion and ways of spirituality even where one has areas of disagreement.
In continuation of or contra the worldview of this essay.
There is no one kind, one purpose, or one final authority for meditation. The individual may experiment and that is also part of discovery of both the way, form, and content of meditation.
1. One place to begin is with a book or a teacher. Though one wants to experience the fullness of what a good book or teacher have to offer, it is also a good idea to find at least a small number of sources over time for each good source may offer new insights. Two books I have used are Pema Chödrön’s How to Meditate which emphasizes shamatha, and Chagdud Tulku’s Gates to Buddhist Practice, which comes from Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism and is wider ranging.
2. Meditation may be thought of as mindful control of mind—i.e., control over and above just mental processing.
3. One form of meditation is emptying—shamatha. The purpose may just to experience emptiness; to empty so as to stem chatter and the ongoing narrative; and so as to open up to more. The latter may be intellectual; it may also be an attempt at direct intuition (in the sense of Kant) of the real, perhaps informed by previous experience and thought but especially via openness to what may arise without bidding. Then, of course, we may work with what has arisen. Another purpose to emptying is to relax from stress—just as relaxation; but also in order to better plan for and focus on matters from everyday life to the ultimate.
4. Notice that shamatha above merged into analytical or insight meditation—vipasana.
5. Meditation can be use toward many ends. In addition to the above (relaxation, vision, insight): to rest, to induce sleep, to plan, to see and overcome limitations that result from lack of awareness or insight.
1. Beyul is travel in nature with the aim of nature experience as catalyzing insight. It is more than just that for nature is connection to and ultimate. It is of course present in amid the social world but civilization may be obscuring.
2. One may cultivate Beyul over the years with frequent nature travels. Hardship is not essential but may be catalyzing. Insight may be incremental or large; the latter is often cathartic and the result of extreme travel and conditions. Vision quest and meditation in nature may be part of Beyul.
3. Being in nature is or as Being in the ultimate.
4. Everyday practice of nature at or near to home.
1. Impediments are various in kind. Absence of insight. Resentments. Infirmity.
2. Overcoming impediments is an end in itself—for a better life; however, there is a proper balance between overcoming and realization. Meditate on this.
3. As an example, suffering and its address are important. However, in the present view they ought not to be central. They may however be co-central with positive realization.
Yoga is yoking to the ultimate. All of the foregoing may fall under yoga. Yoga is (i) any yoking way, (ii) preparing for the main connection, (iii) in action—everyday mindfulness.
The path is presented as two templates that constitute a program that is adaptable to individuals and situations—e.g. at home and in the world, in the choice of routine, in the affirmation and dedication of the everyday template; and, e.g., in the choice of intrinsic and instrumental foci in the universal template. The universal template may guide the foci of individuals, society, and civilization.
A brief adaptable everyday template for home and world.
Dedication (W Wilson). I dedicate my life to The Way of Being—to shared discovery (ideas) and realization (action and choice); to shedding the bonds of limited self and culture and so to see The Way so clearly that even in difficulty life is flow over force (opening to the real in individuals and the world); to realizing the ultimate in this world and beyond (inner and intrinsic ways in the dimensions and elements of the real).
Shared affirmation (A Gupta). That pure unlimited consciousness that is all Being alone is supreme reality. That is the universe—its life and breath—that am I. So I am and embody the self-transcending universe that is all Being and has no other.
2. Review and meditate on realization, priorities, and means.
3. Realization. Work; relationships; ideas.
Develop The Way (see document and database design: current plans); network; shared action; days for engagement, days for renewal.
4. Tasks. Daily, long term.
5. Experimental yoga (with meditation), in nature; posture.
Experimental meditation—part of yoga: analytic / contemplative, for daily action, and the ultimate. Meditation as Being and vision (see dreams in item 7).
6. Exercise (aerobic: in nature; and photography)–explore.
7. Evening. Rest, renewal, realization, and community.
Tasks, preparation and dedication of the next day and the future. Sleep early. Dreams as Being, vision, and inspiration.
A brief adaptable universal template.
Template format: ACTION – dimension – detail (hyperlinks are italicized).
In printed versions see the resources for links:
Developing The Way—in the world, as part of The Way; vision retreat.
Instrumental transformation—politics and cultural economics, populating the universe.
5. BECOMING – artifact – artifactual being as realization and adjunct.
See artifactual being.
6. BECOMING – universal, unknown – transformation aimed at the universal.
Includes elements of items 1 – 5.
Influences and sources—main influences.html.
Knowledge: human cultural traditions, modified in view of the metaphysics (PFM)—system of human knowledge and action.html.
Resources and plans—document and database design.html.
The glossary terms are in order of their appearance.
explanation an explanation shows how or why the explained state or phenomenon obtains; it is not a proof; however, to be fully satisfactory and explanation may include proof
Way of Being a way of discovery and realization of the ultimate; derives from the fundamental principle of metaphysics, below, experience and what is valid in human cultures
discovery refers to discovery of—knowledge of—the universe, including and over and above knowledge of our world and cosmos; refers particularly to the fundamental principle and the perfect metaphysics (both below)
realization refers to realization of the ultimate in light of discovery
ultimate refers to the ultimate character of the universe revealed by the fundamental principle and the perfect metaphysics
immediate refers to our experience and delimitation of what human culture may call ‘our world’
metaphysics knowledge of the real; though the possibility of metaphysics in this sense is often criticized, especially since David Hume and Immanuel Kant, a potent metaphysics is constructed in the essay
fundamental principle of metaphysics the demonstrated assertion that the universe is the greatest possible which is identified as the realization of logic
logic the minimal requirement on concepts for realization; over and above conventional approaches by analysis of special logics, it may be studied via interpretation realizations of the universe
doubt refers to critical doubt which is not only to doubt ordinary and extraordinary claims of fact but to doubt all positions on the nature of the real; together with imagination, doubt is essential to construction of knowledge of the real; many systems of doubt neglect to question doubt itself—to question doubt is not to deny but to refine it
intellectual conservatism the views and tendencies, tacit or explicit, that hold that our experience of our world and paradigms derived from experience are true of the entire universe; a practical position but fundamentally limiting
aim of Being as revealed by the perfect metaphysics, the aim is to live well in the immediate on the way to seeing, knowing, experiencing, and realizing the ultimate
being a being is that which exists, i.e. that to which some form of the verb to be may be applied; grounded in the fact of experience, the concept is thus not circularly conceived
Being the property common to all existents or beings and only those; distinct from beings in the concrete but not in the abstract
power affecting and being affected; the measure of Being; thus Being is the measure of Being; eliminates need for substance or infinite regress in foundation; therefore revealing of the conceptual force of Being over general foundationalism
experience subjective awareness or consciousness; connotes more than just pure experience but emphasizes attitudinal and active experience as well; essentially bound with Being; the place of referential (linguistic-iconic-conceptual) and significant (existential) meaning
referential meaning a concept and its objects; the concept is necessarily iconic and may have associated simple and compound signs which may also be iconic via their arrangement; the iconic component is necessary to meaning at all; signs are aids in thought and communication but also limiting if discrete; the association of concept and object is necessary and significantly sufficient to adequate definiteness of meaning and avoidance of paradox arising from assumption arbitrary concepts have objects; all of which indicates that merely empirical study of meaning of sign systems (language) is inadequate
universe all Being or all beings; along with Being and the related concepts of experience, power, the void, and possibility, this conception of ‘universe’ is essential to construction of a potent metaphysics for it avoids the unfounded, limited, and almost certainly inaccurate materialism that is near universal in western academic philosophy today
natural law descriptive reading, usually in abstract terms, of general patterns in nature; factual if regarded as pertaining only to observation; hypothetical if projected beyond; the elements of theories when relatively successful; is not the pattern but may be identified with it for some local purposes
the void absence of Being; apparently powerless; really limitlessly powerful; consequently all beings are limitlessly powerful (even though limited relative to a limited cosmos)
principle of sufficient reason reinterpretation of Leibniz’ principle of sufficient reason; Leibniz thought in terms of ordinary or material cause and thus his principle is questionable and limited; here, from the fundamental principle, logic or the void may be seen as the original causeless cause of the universe; but every being may be seen as this causeless cause
cause see principle of sufficient reason above for general interpretation which exceeds the common interpretation as material or physical cause which is temporally sequential and spatially contiguous
abstraction omission of detail such that the existent-as-known is as if just the existent; the basis of the perfection of the abstract metaphysics and of logic; the basis of the ontological identity of concrete and abstract objects whose distinction therefore lies in how they are known by particular and special beings—e.g., human beings
Atman individual self; ultimately identical to Brahman
Brahman universal self in its peak forms or approach to peaks
perfect metaphysics the join of the abstract metaphysics above to pragmatic to form a metaphysics that is also perfect since the pragmatics are the ‘best and only’ instrument in the realization of the ultimate; this does not negate the value of our common epistemologies but places them and revaluates their significance (they cannot pretend to ultimacy)
yoga means of connection to the ultimate
meditation the psychic side of yoga
vision retreat retreats devoted to yoga, meditation, insight, discovery; made effective by isolation and their extended duration and therefore the efficacy of immersion in Being
art forms that reveal
Beyul travels to remote places for purposes, primarily of connection to Atman and world; but also for nature connection and cognitive-emotive insight and inspiration
shared immersion a shared immersive approach to being-in-the-world is via action in the world, parallel to the psychic side—similar to meditation in action
instrumental transformation instrumental technological, economic, political transformation and exploration; the aim: as realization or instrument in realization; applies to civilization and artificial Being as individual or adjunct to individuals