World and Experience
World as Experience
In my essays on Being and destiny, emerging influences include world as experience. The aim of this essay is to crystallize the influences and to be a template for future writing.
The approach begins with some views of human being and the world. I attempt synthesis via imagination, doubt, and reason. World as experience aims to center human being in the world. To what extent world is experience is part of the synthesis. This neutrality is reflected in the title World and Experience.
With experience as defined in the text, the synthesis is world as experience. The synthesis is ontologically neutral—it posits no substance. The neutrality has power—it enables metaphysics with universe shown to be ultimate. Particularly, the universe and its identity are limitless in extension and duration, and cycle through peaks of limitless variety and magnitude. In the peaks all beings merge as universal identity.
In developing the synthesis I have employed skeptical doubt somewhat tacitly. I have glossed over questions on the meaning and fact of the validity of perception and reason. These issues are addressed in the documents doubt and reason and the essential concepts. In the former document, the use of metaphysical doubt begins in a fairly standard way with ‘world’ and ‘experience’ but then, as the metaphysics is new, continues in new directions.
Experience is phenomenal or subjective awareness—consciousness—in all their forms and varieties. Its meaning and scope are enhanced later.
This use is distinct from others such as experience of an external world or knowledge or mastery gained from cumulative exposure.
In this meaning, experience is not ‘experience of’ something. However, we will see that all experience, even pure experience, is in fact, experience-of.
What is the significance of experience? To see what it may be consider we have experience when we perceive, know, feel, have pleasure and pain, think, emote, see and conceive ends, choose an end, will and control psyche and action towards the end, learn from failure and success, and so fine tune achievement and ends. That is, experience is the medium of our being, without which we would be merely robotic, effectively non-existent.
Experience is the effective core of who and what we are.
However, stemming from behaviorist and materialist attitudes, its existence has been doubted. There have also been doubts about its general significance and whether it is a causal and capable of choice. There are still doubters in year 2018 CE, especially those who find experience paradoxical in the world they think of as material.
However, when we think we know something, the medium of the thinking and knowing is experience. Thus experience names a given—subjective or phenomenal awareness. Even when we doubt it we are having experience.
It is crucial to recognizing this given that there is experience of experience—experience is reflexive. Even in pure experience, experience-of is implicated for without it experience could not be reported or known. That is, an experiential world is a world in which experience is reflexive.
That there is experience is also a first example that of existence and a demonstration that something exists. Is there a real or external world over and above experience itself? This will be taken up shortly. Note that in allowing skepticism to question the obvious we may establish certainty where it should hold, non existence where there is only imagined existence, establish powerful methods of thought, and to establish a powerful philosophy and metaphysics.
As phenomenal awareness and no more, it is perfectly known for it involves no concrete detail.
It is perfect knowledge of a real and in this sense it is metaphysics. It is also an example of true and perfect psychology by inspection—which the behaviorists of the early twentieth century rejected. It continues to be rejected by a minority of thinkers. The arguments against experience were that it is not scientific or that it is in opposition to materialism. We have one clear example of the existence of experience by observation and thus that is scientific; we will continue to argue that there is a science of psychology by inspection and repeatability of reports. The issue of materialism is taken up below. Note that some thinkers who deny phenomenal consciousness refer also to a non phenomenal version that they call access consciousness—which is not phenomenal consciousness and therefore not consciousness at all.
Here strict materialism names the view that the world is only matter and matter is entirely without the kind that experience is and named mind. As the existence of experience has demonstrated, it follows that this strict materialism is untenable. A defense of such strict materialism has been that the phenomenal is emergent. However, for experience to emerge would deny the substance notion in terms of which strictness would make sense at all. While our level of phenomenal experience is not there in elementary matter, the elements of experience must be there—not as some other kind but as matter itself. But from the nature of experience as experience-of, this must be matter in interaction.
Thus what emerges is degree, elaborated later, rather than kind; this makes evolutionary sense for it is degree that is beneficial. That there is experience might be metaphysically rather than materially founded; this will be seen later—and the foundation of this ‘matter-mind’ will be found to be necessary.
An effective existent affects experience at least once—i.e., the being that never affects experience is effectively non-existent; in other terms, the hypothetical existent is effectively non existent. This is implicit in the standard and neutral views or models, below.
One materialist and standard view of the world is as object of and including experience. The explicitly experienced is direct or coded as knowledge; the rest is implicit in a material substrate. So, the world can be seen as a relational triad: self or experiencer-experience-experienced or world. But of course, the experiencer and experience are part of the world too.
A neutral view of the world is as a field of experience. Individual selves are centers—loci—of intense, organized experience, just as in the above triad (the loci are not discrete but phenomena having some permanence even in change over some period of time). This reduces to the standard view when the object with absent or indiscernible experiential intensity is named matter.
The neutral view is not substance idealism—it does not say that the world is experience; rather it emphasizes experience in saying that a hypothetical in neither direct-explicit nor indirect-implicit experience is effectively non-existent. It is sentience-centric though not particularly anthropocentric. Later, it will emerge as a kind of naturalism.
The neutral view is not strong solipsism—i.e., that solipsism which says to individuals, ‘your limited experience could be the world’. The apparent paradox arises when the word ‘limited’ is omitted, but the assumption is tacit. The paradox says ‘this solipsism is logically possible’—and it is—even as it seems absurd. However, it is metaphysically impossible (that the world exists not in itself but only in ‘my limited experience’—i.e., if we grant that ‘my’ experience is limited). Then, an aspect of this is that non existence of other minds is also metaphysically impossible—and the system of our minds as lights in a field of experience is not another reality but another interpretation of the real. Examination of the meaning of solipsism was central in how we arrived at these conclusions.
There are many situations where two or more descriptions are logically indistinguishable but may be otherwise distinguishable. In methodological skepticism we consider such situations because their analysis illuminates the real. If altogether indistinguishable—not just indistinguishable to ‘us’, the situations are identical. If distinguishable but the distinguishing features are not explicit there may be seeming paradox. If metaphysically indistinguishable but ‘physically’ distinguishable the distinction may be pertinent in our cosmos but neutral to the universe. There are a number of such skeptical considerations in this essay—it began with a pass over of the doubt that there is experience. Analysis of free will is an example considered later. Interesting examples—ones whose attempted resolution we may learn from—include whether we our world is a computer simulation, and the famous example, attributed to Bertrand Russell, that argues that we cannot logically distinguish standard accounts of evolution and history from one in which created five minutes ago, complete with our memories and knowledge and observations as though it has the standard history. What we can learn from such examples is what minimum metaphysics is required to distinguish two logically indistinguishable accounts and what metaphysics is required to select one over others. What begins as skeptical may after all be real and metaphysical.
It is logically and metaphysically possible that the field of experience has phases that are peaks of limitlessly greater being. This may seem impossible from science and common sense, but it is not for science refers to a limited—perhaps enormously limited—empirical realm and the ‘common sense’ projects it to the entire universe.
We now look at free will in detail because it is metaphysically and practically important to the aims of this essay.
Will is sustaining action toward an end, even in the presence of counter imperatives. Free will, is seeing-conceiving and/or creating choices and paths of action toward ends (elements of foresight), and deciding on a choice-path-willed action. The following asks whether there is free will and complements the definition above. The definition is critical—on some accounts action under free will is ‘unimpeded’ and this results in automatic denial that there is free will. Some experiments in simple decision making suggest they occur preconsciously which in turn suggests that there is no free will; however, regardless of the truth of the suggestion, there is, in significant action over time, communication between the subconscious and conscious awareness of choice, ends and so on; it is iterative rather than ‘one off’, it is this that shows that the experiments cannot disallow free will.
Further, just as the denial of experience has a source in an erroneous materialism, denial of free will has a source in an erroneous determinism—which error is taken up below. We know we have free will by personal observation of the phenomenon and interpersonal corroboration. What is observed is the interaction between consciousness of what the experiments suggest is post choice awareness in simple situations and conscious analysis of the entire system of experience in seeing, creating, making, and acting upon choices. This is an application and a statement of an essential aspect of a science of psychology.
We also know the fact of free will from the creation of explicit conceptual knowledge. In the beginning, there were no concepts. Concepts are created. But to correspond to an object, the created concept must be compared to objects, and a choice be made. This is free will in the action that is creation of explicit knowledge. If the deniers are true, they do not know that they are deniers. In claiming that they deny, they claim knowledge and implicitly deny their denial.
It has also been argued against free will that neither determinism nor indeterminism in nature can support it; it is also argued that because psychopaths seem to lack freedom from will, all people do. However, free will occurs by truly indeterminist thoughts and intelligent elaboration and selection for effective action—this is creativity in process; it occurs at the intersection of determinism and indeterminism. But how can we know that such a process can and does take place in the universe and that human creativity is a case of it? This is taken up later, under the section A perfect metaphysics. The argument against free will from determinism versus indeterminism, invokes a false either / or: either determinism or indeterminism—but discounts the possibility of both in interaction. Here it is psychology that informs deficient models of nature and person of their deficiency. The argument that some psychopaths to lack freedom of will therefore all people do ignores (a) that the psychopaths could be choosing to not employ their freedom of will and/or lying to their interviewers, and (b) perhaps the pathology is or includes precisely deficient will or ability to conceive choices.
The significance of free will here is that it allows elaboration of the experiencing selves-experiences-experienced world and objects. It adds the elements of creativity, freedom, foresight, learning and more. Where it is argued against free will that it is insertion of psyche and will in the deterministically causal chain of nature, what is really happening is that (a) natural causation is not completely deterministic and (b) there is no insertion of psyche but rather nature has two ‘sides’—the experienced or ‘material’ and the active experiencer. This is taken up in the sequel.
The idea of ‘insertion’ of psyche into the causal chain has been thought problematic and so some thinkers argued for epiphenomenalism—the idea that there is phenomenal consciousness but that it is acausal, ‘along for the ride’ like a passenger in a car. Our argument above has dismissed epiphenomenalism. Psyche is fully part of causal nature.
Observe now the following aspects of elementary psychology in the experience of a self or person in a template for review, revision, and development.
1. It is pure, attitudinal, or active: attitude and action (concept identification repeated) are not other than or in addition to experience. This contrasts some views that experience, attitude, and action—for example—are three distinct aspects of mind. In other words, experience is one but its dimensions are, for example, pure, attitudinal, and effectual.
2. It is always experience-of some existent—in the pure case, as seen earlier, the ‘of’ is internal—reaffirming an earlier suggestion that experience is interaction over mere phenomenon.
3. It is inner, referring to ‘self’ or outer, referring to external world or holist, referring to world or universe which includes both inner and external ‘worlds’.
4. Self may refer to the experiential self (psyche) andor to the material substrate or ‘body’
5. It is bound to an object as in a percept or simple feeling or pain versus free to bind versus remain unbound as in higher concepts (the general concept is content of psyche or mind). These may be co-present in experience.
6. Conceptual experience, for which memory is critical, is iconic versus symbolic versus symbolic-iconic or linguistic. In referential linguistic meaning, symbol, icon, and object come together as symbol-icon-object or concept-object.
7. The iconic is form versus quality versus form-quality.
8. It is focal andor intense versus background.
9. It is imperative, ‘commanding’ focus andor action versus neutral e.g. ‘mere’ observation or contemplative; extremes of the latter are contemplative and empty meditation
10. The imperative may be externally driven as in fear, of psyche as in will, or of body as in pain.
11. The foregoing come together in psyche—free iconic-symbolic and so on making for a ‘mapping’ of function.
12. The foregoing distinctions enable the mapping of sensation, perception, conception, cognition, will, feeling, and emotion and their compounds.
13. There are typical, atypical, ‘healthy’ or adaptive versus non healthy organizations and patterns of function which constitute personality that varies over time via growth and learning.
These are the beginnings of an outline of a philosophy and science of agency—and psychology. Such an outline, unless shown otherwise, should be seen as tentative touched by the hypothetical.
Reflection to this point refers to the world in terms of objects, interactions, and processes. Let us found this world triad rather than assume it by analogy with the sciences and experience.
Sameness and difference are fundamental and primitive givens in experience. Identity is sense of sameness of object which includes self or person. Under some metaphysical presumptions, identity is associated with proximity but this is not required by logic. Continued difference is extension. Difference with sameness marks change of given identity over duration or temporal extension; difference without sameness marks spatial extension; insofar the two modes of difference are not distinct, there is spacetime; of which, metaphysically, there may be absence but no further modes of difference of identity (but there may be varieties of space, time, and dimensionality including, perhaps, multiple weakly interacting times).
We now derive a dynamic of identity—change in identity depends on interaction, which is a function of identities and their relations; at the level of physics ‘change in state is dependent force which is a function of particles and positions’. This dynamic founds the triple-e triad of experiencer-experience-experienced and experience as experience-of.
Because experience is experience-of, it is interaction (perhaps relation). With world as experiencing and experienced we can see it as interaction (psyche, mind) and object (matter, world). The series does not continue—there is no infinite number of attributes as hypothesized by Spinoza (there may be infinitely many qualities, forms, feelings, and so on). In fact there is a single attribute, experience, within which psyche and object find a place as one.
What has been developed so far is not a substance metaphysics. Derived from the neutral view of the world, it can be seen as a naturalism. Beginning in the immediate, with experience, we see putative substances—psyche, matter, in natural, not artificial or conceptually imposed, world-process-interaction.
This naturalism is not a substance approach but is still substance like and yet close to a neutral account of Being. Insofar it does not get into detail, e.g. in talking of world as experiencer-experience-experienced, it is perfect by abstraction (when it gets into details, e.g. of psychology and agency, it becomes imperfect). This encourages the following developments.
Let us develop a metaphysics that is perfect and universal in a sense to become clear. We will show metaphysics as knowledge of the real to be possible by constructing such a metaphysics. This begins, first, with elementary concepts.
Being is the quality of that which is (somewhere in sameness, difference, and their absence).
As a result of abstraction that ‘Being’ is already perfect by eliminating concreteness where the concept may be an imperfect image of the object. This perfection carries through the narrative except where stated otherwise. The abstraction may seem to make ‘Being’ flat and empty. In fact it is empowering; in avoiding commitment to kind, e.g. matter, it allows the varieties of Being to emerge via analysis and synthesis; and it allows for the rich variety of Being. By excluding only the non-existent, no alternative can allow for greater variety.
To have Being is to have existence, to exist, or to be an existent. The word ‘existent’, introduced earlier, is convenient because it does not differentiate kinds of any type, either substance-like such as psyche, matter, or spirit; or object-like such as entity, interaction, process, quality, trope or other.
A being is that which has Being. ‘Being’ has no plural but the plural of ‘a being’ is ‘beings’.
Power, the ability to have and receive an effect, is a measure of Being. The hypothetical object that does not have power is effectively non existent.
Can we say that the hypothetical power-less being (or the being that never affects experience) is truly non-existent? We can say that to assert its existence or non-existence has no meaning in the symbol-concept-object sense of ‘meaning’. In the section on perfect metaphysics, below, we will show that it is in fact non-existent.
The universe is all Being or all beings (spanning all immanent sameness, difference, and absence, or spacetime and its absence).
There is exactly one universe.
There is nothing outside the universe. The universe cannot be a simulation even though it may contain simulators.
An epoch is a domain (‘being’) that is temporarily isolated from the rest of the universe. A cosmos is a domain that at least seems to be an epoch.
The void is the absence of Being.
As the complement of the universe—or of every being relative to itself, the void exists. Its existence can also be seen from the observation that its existence and non existence are indistinguishable, or the same.
The universe may exist (metaphysically, if not in terms of classical causation) in manifest and/or non-manifest phases (the void). However, if creation and sustaining are part of an external cause or force, the universe is not created. If the manifest emerges from the non manifest, or one manifest cosmos from a completely different one, that would lie outside classical causation but is neither logically nor metaphysically possible—for the void to create is not metaphysically impossible, but the void is not outside the universe. This is metaphysically significant.
A natural law is a pattern. Patterns themselves are immanent and have Being; it is our readings of the laws that may seem imposed and therefore artificial. Since it is the absence of Being, the void contains no law. Therefore:
If from the void there is a logically possible state that does not emerge, that would be a law of the void. Therefore:
The universe is the realization of all logical possibility. This assertion is named the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
It implies that the universe is not just infinite but limitless—limitless not only in extension, but also in variety, kind, and peak of Being, physical-psychic.
While the universe cannot be a simulation, it must contain simulators of limitless capacity.
Our minds do not comprehend this limitlessness and its necessity in geometrical or physical terms, even as we symbolize it; and we seems to lack an intuition of it. But the fundamental principle implies that there are some psyches that comprehend it and that one of those psyches is the limitless universe in some of its phases.
However analytic comprehension is possible. The universe is what is logically possible. Therefore, logic is the analytic. Our logics may be incompletely inadequate but they are but approximations to an ideal that may be labeled Logic. As with the algebraic approach to geometry, here the approach from Logic begins analytically but then provides an avenue for intuition to develop. The next section on the perfect metaphysics develops the worldview from Logic.
A humanist may respond that logic is sterile. However, while what logic requires may be sterile, what it allows is the richest possible universe. The fundamental principle is that the universe is the realization of what logic allows.
Let us now briefly develop an intuition for the fundamental principle. Start with a question—How can we explain the existence of our world? Our explanations seems invariably to be in terms of something else—e.g., a substance or a basic principle. We may like this if the substance or principle are simple and seemingly evident. However, this is no final explanation for now the substance or principle are unexplained. It follows that a satisfactory explanation must be in terms of nothing. However, from symmetry there is no reason that nothing should ‘explain’ just our world; if it does explain our world it should explain all possible worlds. Should such explanations be merely probable—i.e. should they say that Given no datum at all, the emergence of the worlds has certain probability less than certainty? That too would be incompletely satisfactory. We conclude that the ideal explanation would have to be that the emergence of all possible worlds is necessary. That is, the ideal explanation is the fundamental principle.
If you now say that is no proof then reflect that (a) proof was given earlier, (b) what we have just sought—and found—is intuition for the earlier proof.
It will be useful to summarize here as an appendix to the development so far, what we have learned about metaphysical possibility and metaphysical argument. See possibility for further discussion.
The existence of phenomenal experience was argued by direct inspection of a given—that is a metaphysical fact. In considering solipsism we saw that the paradoxical version of it is logically possible though not metaphysically possible when my experience is really my limited experience. That is, the constraint placed on ‘my’ experience is weaker than in the standard materialist view but simply says that the capacity of a part is limited relative to the whole.
Similarly, let consider the question—Does experience necessitates a body? Thought must have form and even if there is no further body, if form is regarded as body, then the form of experience is body. Metaphysically, then, where there is thought there must be body. Is this logically necessary too? If logic is pure inference, then the metaphysically necessary identification of form of thought with body is a fact; the question of logical necessity does not arise because it does not apply. On the other hand, as in ‘argument’, it is sometimes useful to not separate necessary fact and necessary inference and in that useful but non-standard case, logical necessity also follows. But if experience might originate from nothing, it might seem that experience does not need a body. The error would be that not coming from something is not the same as not being something.
In general metaphysical possibility the constraint lies in the range from logical possibility on down perhaps to the physical or psychological level or even more. But the useful range is somewhat more restrictive than that of logic but less restrictive than a detailed psychology or physics. General metaphysical possibility is not definite but chosen according to situation. If we wanted definiteness we might identify the metaphysical with the logical—i.e. the deepest level—or the categorial but we already have this utility and to impose it would eliminate other utility. Note that the metaphysical as deepest would be a different use of ‘metaphysical possibility’.
As a final example, free will is logically possible on simple indeterminism. If we regard the immense improbability of one step creation as metaphysical impossibility and any creation as logically impossible on determinism, then free will must play out incrementally at the boundary between determinism and rank indeterminism. This argument applies also to creation of a cosmos from the void, and to the origins and evolution of life.
The fundamental principle
1. May seem to violate science and cumulative experience. In fact it necessitates their valid content. However, the fundamental principle assists in showing dogma. Consider the common claims (i) The trans-empirical is like the empirical and does not go far beyond (ii) Religion reveals the trans-empirical. These are dogma because they are not supported by reason: science is limited to the empirical and perhaps just beyond; religion could be open but often chooses belief. Reason puts the positive claims in doubt even where not absurd. The fundamental principle contradicts the dogmas—it shows the universe limitlessly greater in variety and extension than shown or revealed so far in science, religion, and even prior metaphysics.
2. Implies that there are no non interacting beings. Therefore, the hypothetical being that does not have power or affect on experience does not exist—i.e., that it should exist is not just without meaning. Effectively, power and experience are equivalent. The oneness of the universe is not just nominal but a dynamic unity.
3. Implies that the universe is a field of experience and identity with phases that are peaks of limitlessly great being. That is, the universe has no ultimate stasis; given a peak, there is a greater one; and all peaks and manifest forms ultimately dissolve.
4. Implies that individuals are eternal beyond death which is real but not absolute and that in the peaks they merge as one (seeing the true reality of death is catalyst to meaning and realization in this life and the ultimate).
5. Implies limitless cosmology of cosmoses with limitless varieties of physical law and more. Each cosmos will have its mode of identity-sameness-difference and psyche. Psyche has form and therefore cannot be devoid of body. Perhaps there are forms of matter without mind. Cosmoses can interact; identity and psyche may interact; one cosmos may create another. If these interactions are probably destructive, limitlessly many are creative.
6. Implies that the journey of realization cannot avoid pain and feelings of nihilism and ennui; it cannot—I think—avoid sickness; but neither can it avoid beauty, pleasure and joy; which are enhanced by and in acting with agency. And there is the further implication that every state is exceeded by the creation of agents (this is a repeated statement). From a limited perspective, at least, the limitlessness of cosmology-identity-agent is in process: given a state, there is a greater one.
7. Implies that the universe must have phases of manifest existence: given a non manifest phase there will be manifestation (and vice versa). Self-creation-sustenance-dissolution as causal in the sense of antecedence and contiguity is a notion without meaning.
8. Explains why ‘something must come from nothing’; which is a ‘how’ only on non classical causation—it is the fundamental principle as a fundamental explanatory principle.
9. Requires the being of our cosmos (as noted); but specifies no mechanism while it requires all possible mechanisms of origins. And further implies that our cosmos is ‘infinitesimal’ in comparison to the universe. The evolutionary paradigm of variation and selection (due to Darwin), i.e. a paradigm of the essentially new emerging at the intersection of determinism and indeterminism, suggests a similar ‘mechanism’ as most probable for origins from the void or any state.
Let us elaborate on this paradigm. If we argue that the sustenance (including any origins) of manifest Being is ‘accidental’ then accident must be a feature of the universe—i.e. ‘accidental’ means ‘indeterministic’. But true sustenance—which requires no further sustaining entity—must be sustenance by nothing (and we know that there is such sustenance from the fundamental principle). Therefore its character cannot be entirely deterministic. It is therefore indeterministic. But note that such indeterminism must be radical in giving rise to form that may contain residual indeterminism. Now the sustenance may be saltational—of one or a few steps and improbable; or incremental as in the paradigm above with higher probability of emergence of form. The paradigm applies to sustenance (origin) of manifest epochs—as if universes—from nothing; and to ‘higher’ form from lower form with its residual indeterminism—the cosmological forms including stars and elements, life, and creative being with free will. The details of the paradigm may be distinct from one application to another. In evolution, the application has gone beyond speculation to significant if not absolute confirmation. In cosmology, the details of the application would be speculative.
The paradigm sheds light on logical versus metaphysical possibility. In a universe of logically possible worlds, the metaphysically impossible would be far less frequent than the metaphysically possible and so ‘not count’ is some sense.
10. Is consistent with a block universe concept that appears block-determinate while the trajectory of any being in duration may be temporally indeterministic.
11. Implies that for any state of the universe, there is a higher state that is the creation of free agency (a repeated statement). The ultimate is without limit—a process; and the limitlessness refers to extension, kind, variety, and peak and dissolution of Being and Identity. It is a process named Brahman in the Vedas to which, in monist Advaita Vedanta, Atman or individual self is identical. Brahman has similarities to the Aeternitas of Scholasticism and the Absolute Spirit of Absolute Idealism. Brahman, Aeternitas, and Absolute Spirit, are seen as the ultimate real in their respective systems.
This is a good place to discuss simulation hypotheses—hypotheses that we are simulations. Of course we may be simulations, but this does not make our reality unreal. It means that there is a lower or deeper level of reality. However, as we have seen the lowest / deepest level is the void or, equivalently, any state of Being. That we are simulations emerges not only as skeptical but that it may be real. While this is a serious consideration it cannot be ultimate. In an ultimate sense, we are not simulations even if we have proximate simulators. In summary we are real regardless of simulation status and simulation status is at most proximate, and not ultimate.
Interesting questions—ones that are useful to ask—concern the number of simulation layers, whether simulations can climb out of their reality, how much computing power and energy it would take to simulate our world (and, given that the ‘original’ physics need not be ours, in what way the question is relevant), what kind of simulations we might be, and how we might discover that we are simulations. Here, the earlier statement is pertinent—for any state of the universe, there is a greater sentient state. Here, the earlier statement is pertinent—for any state of the universe, there is a greater sentient state.
It will be useful to think about what a simulation is or may be. For example, if one cosmos influences the creation of another, to what extent is the latter a simulation? Are our computing devices in any way ultimate? What would make a computer conscious and/or be autonomous? Would it be a device in which the bit processes are not (only) symbols for our ideas but invoked the primitive interaction that is elementary experience? Would it necessarily be digital? Is nature digital—quite obviously from the fundamental principle it is not, but what about proximate nature: the nature of our cosmos. It is pertinent to ask whether we are in a position to make conscious simulations—and what the criteria for that possibility might be,
Are we / may we be simulations made by a God? Possibly / certainly, if we wish to name the simulators ‘God’. However, from its religious use, God is too burdened a notion for philosophical use. In any case, a more interesting question is whether and why we have conscious autonomy (there would seem to be no adaptivity to high level consciousness and autonomy without their going together). That we have consciousness means that we are alive-to-the-world—that we are not robots—that we have essential and effective Being. That we have autonomy is just that we have free will. But why would our simulators give us consciousness and free will? In a sense we are the best possible kind of simulation. We are not robots and we are free to fail which is also a condition of success and autonomy, just as most likely are any simulators. Perfection with imperfection would seem to be a condition of alive-to-the-world beings capable of progress which would seem to rule out the notion of perfect gods—to show the perfect god of some religions to be disconnected from the rea.
We can also contemplate whether we were created five minutes ago. It is of course logically possible that we were and that we will be destroyed in five minutes. However, this would seem metaphysically less likely than simulation. But note—if we think the simulator or randomness may ‘pull the plug’ then so may the standard nature of the universe.
12. And so further implies, that the nascent science of agency outlined above, along with all valid human tradition, culture, and knowledge, though not perfect as the fundamental principle, are available as instruments in ultimate realization. And that in that sense they are perfect (which alters but does not negate the significance of local epistemological ideals).
13. Implies that our natural and social and abstract (e.g. logic and mathematics) sciences and technology, seen as instrumental, may and should be complemented though not replaced or displaced by immersion (at least experimentally); art, literature, and historical narrative; religious symbol-narrative-ritual, both modern and primal, where it illuminates; and philosophy with philosophical logic, metaphysics (with epistemology), and axiology.
14. And so further implies that since the instruments would be discarded or modified in travel of identity among cosmoses, the mesh of the fundamental principle and its implications, and the above pragmatic instruments constitute a perfect metaphysics of understanding of and realization in the universe (it is worth noting that the perfect objects are sufficiently abstract while the pragmatic are concrete in being not so; this founds metaphysics of the abstract, while the fundamental principle implies that all logically consistent concepts, abstract or concrete, have objects). Since the broad features of this metaphysics are a unique capture of the one ultimate universe, it may be called the perfect metaphysics. The epistemic perfection is a dual of truth by correspondence—the abstract—and pragmatic. The development of the metaphysics here has been fundamental but not systematic (except the section on elementary metaphysics) or complete. A systematic treatment would be based in a system of abstract and concrete categories emerging via reason.
15. Shows that ultimate realization is an essential value—and so there are two values to living well in the immediate—in itself as part of the ultimate and as instrument on the way to realization. That is, while health of body and psyche, and enjoyment in and contribution to this world are important, the ultimate value can—should—not be deferred till this life is perfect. The perfection has an ethical character.
There are resources for a commitment to ultimate realization. Here, derived from cumulative experience and the perfect metaphysics, are source, templates, a system of knowledge, and further resources for realization.
To see the world as experience is the first aim of the essay. While it is not a goal of realization it places the agent at the center of realization and enhances the quality and efficiency of realization. The following summarizes and augments world as experience and its logic.
There is experience. The naming of the given shows the significance of experience and a kind of demonstration that is fundamental and primitive to the material order.
The solipsist version of experience as the world is metaphysically impossible. However, the neutral metaphysics of world as experience with focal experiential centers or organisms is metaphysically possible—and as interpretation it is true. A special case is the substance like weak materialism of experiential organisms in an inert world, e.g. the material or physical account of our cosmos.
Where the effect interaction on another body is ‘force’ the effect state of the body itself is primitive to high level experience. Thus primitive experience may be receptive (‘passive’) or affective versus active or effective. We used the label ‘experience-of’ though ‘experience-on’ might also be appropriate.
High level experience is known in experience—this is experience of experience, experience become reflexive (and a possible though not necessary primitive source is that of transitivity on par with the affective and the effective). Thus even ‘pure’ experience—even stream of consciousness—is interaction or ‘experience of’. In being reflexive, and perhaps this is enhanced by language, we may become explicitly self aware and explicitly world aware (self awareness is part of world awareness). This awareness of awareness enables efficiency and adaptive advantage in various ways but particularly in being able to direct and focus thought. Language further enhances this by enabling symbolic, communicative, and cultural efficiency (and so, for example, traditions of reason).
The being that has no power in our world is effectively non existent in our universe. The being that does not have an explicit or implicit effect on at least dimly world aware experience is effectively non-existent in our world.
The perfect metaphysics enables the following modification of the above statement.
The being that has no power or that has no world affect is non-existent.
In this sense, then, the world is experience.
What are the implications for idealism and materialism? Idealism is a broad umbrella under which we can begin by identifying ontological idealism—the world is or is like experience, epistemological / ethical idealism—knowledge / the good are determined by experience and its structure. We saw support for these idealisms, especially the ontological. Strong materialism was ruled out but weak materialism is a special case of ontological idealism, on appropriate interpretation. However, what has emerged is essentially a neutral, substance free ontology and associated dual perfect epistemology.
Our individual journeys are ongoing. The journey of being is eternal process.
In the immediate world, their ordinary instruments allow individuals perfect abstract knowledge of the ultimate. The same pragmatic means are the only and ideal instruments in realization of the ultimate.
The perfect metaphysics shows the ultimate real: realization by universal and real individual experiential identity, merging in peaks of Being without limit to magnitude, variety, or extension.