The discussion in the prologue draws on material from Journey in Being and the Foundation

The Metaphysics    |    Journey in Being and its Goal    |    Nature of The Journey    |    Form of the Journey In Being    |    An Individual Journey    |    What is Being    |    A Journey into Being Itself    |    Two Pillars    |    Knowledge    |    A Revolution    |    Nothingness: the Void    |    The Ultimate or the Absolute    |    To the Reader    |    Relations Between Our World and the Absolute    |    Local / Universal    |    Knowledge and Significance    |    Experiments in the Transformation of Being    |    My Inspiration    |    Mileposts… and Horizons    |    Characterizing Being    |    The Stumbling    |    The Journey Continues…    |    Recent Developments    |    Contents: The Paths of the Journey    |    Journey in Being Website

The Metaphysics

This article stands as an independent essay on metaphysics and incorporates the entire text of the division on Metaphysics from Journey in Being. However, one of the motivations for my study of metaphysics was the Journey in Being. Additionally, each topic benefits from the other. Therefore, the prologue to Metaphysics includes an account of the Journey

The prologues to both articles are essentially identical. The treatment of metaphysics has been broken up and rearranged into Theory [Knowledge and Action | Metaphysics;] Topics [Mind | Cosmology | and Ethics, Being, Knowledge;] and Applications which extracts the metaphysical considerations from the remaining divisions of Journey in Being [Experiments in the Transformation of Being | The Variety of Being | Action and Influence]

Journey in Being and its Goal

Journey in Being refers to a journey and to its story[1]

The Journey begins with an individual life[2] and through confluence[3] it seeks to become the universal journey of ultimate being. It is a Journey of Being for explicit transformation of being is sought in addition to knowledge and learning

The broad purposes are two: realization of ultimate being –of ultimates– and being in the present

…and of relations –interaction, distinctions, identities– between the ultimate and the present

Nature of The Journey

The ideas of Being and Journey are both important. Being refers to the true nature and ultimate possibility of individual beings or entities and of all being and of the universe or cosmos. It also signifies that the being of the individual is important: thought and knowledge are not sufficient to the Journey. Realization of true nature and ultimate possibility do not occur in a moment or as a phase of a life but are, and require[4], the Journey of a life. Journey in Being is not merely a process of discovery of what is given: it is a construction, through experiment, action and reflection, of what is potential or possible

The journey is one into –as far as possible– all being and knowledge, all objects and ideas that do and could exist: ultimate being and knowledge

The nature of being: the actuality of being or being as it is and as we know or experience it; and the possibilities of being

The history of being: being in time – origins, life and death of the forms of being and of the entire universe

Journey in Being is the becoming, being and dissolution of Being within All Being and of All Being i.e. within and of the entire UNIVERSE. The essence of Being is that of the Journey…

In the previous paragraph, ‘being’ is used primarily to refer to a thing but also to a process as in ‘the becoming, being and…’ it is only in a concrete cosmology that these distinctions are ultimate

Dissolution or un-becoming is also becoming. Becoming, being and dissolution are similar to creation, preservation and destruction. A distinction is that while the latter terms are suggestive of the power of an external agent the former terms are used here to emphasize that that the becoming, the being and the dissolution are intrinsic to Being. Since there is nothing ‘outside’ All Being, the intrinsic character of ‘creation’ and so on is essential

Journey in Being, is the Universe in its journeys of being and becoming, its knowing and coming to know. These, together, are the Journey in Being which includes all knowing, understanding, discovery, creation, all narratives and stories

…for, properly understood, Mind [Knowing] is coeval and coextensive with being; Mind is being-in-its-relations or, MIND IS BEING

Journey in Being is, also, the confluence of individual journeys –especially the author’s and those surrounding and interacting with the author’s; and the author’s efforts to engage with others, with this world, with All Being, with the One Universe– in the universal journey that is the being of the entire uni-verse. ‘Journey in Being’ is this journey but refers, also, to this WEBSITE which includes the narratives for the journey

There is an opportunity, through networking, for the narrative, the history of philosophy, to become, not only cumulative though otherwise static, but dynamic in that single narratives may evolve through multiple and ongoing authorship

Form of the Journey In Being

The Form of the Journey is a binding among knowing, acting and being… including the unbound or symbolic forms; JOURNEY IN BEING refers also to my journey, its narrative, and WEBSITE

The form of ‘Journey in Being’ is a binding –interaction– between understanding and becoming. Becoming includes action and essential transformation of being. That understanding has degrees of separation from becoming as in a traditional concept of knowledge is given; however, at root, there is no final separation and the assumption that there is leads to error –including delusions of unbounded rationality– and incomplete fulfillment. The ultimate commitment of this Journey is realization and essential transformation and, except for the dictates of LOGIC, employs but does not wait for the progress of knowledge in any limited concept

Journey in Being is not a new form –of becoming and knowing– but a reversion to an original form that includes and employs but is not restricted to newer forms made possible by the symbolic capabilities and their various enhancements as in e.g. poetry, art, philosophy, analysis and science

An Individual Journey

Journey in Being, it was noted, is also my journey, the story of my coming into the ideas and paths that make up The Journey. My life is a part of the journey – but this document is not a vehicle to tell an intimate story of my life. What is significant is how I came to undertake and continue the journey, especially to the extent that the origins are essential in understanding and founding the journey

These purposes are consistent with the nature of the Journey

My motivation in undertaking the journey and its narrative include, of course, expression, realization and enjoyment. Contribution and sharing are also motives. There is also a mixture of confidence and doubt, of intuition and reason. Many of the central propositions of the present essay have origin in intuition and hope – suggested by my own reflections and the thoughts of others. Without confidence in the intuition, I would not sustain the propositions as beliefs. Without doubt, the beliefs would not have made the transition to the status of propositional thought. Without some confidence in the originality of the ideas, I would not write; without doubt, I could not create

What is Being

…and what is the purpose of the focus on being?

Here, being is used in two apparently distinct senses. In the first, being is that which exists. This leads to a problem ‘How is it known that any alleged being actually exists?’ In turn, analysis of ‘existence’ is required which leads to classic difficulties and therefore to the postulation of categories of being. Thus we may say, a rock exists as matter, an individual mind as mind, a relationship as relationship, a number as number and so on but what does it mean that something has unqualified existence? ‘Existence,’ ‘matter,’ ‘mind,’ ‘relationship,’ ‘number’ and other mathematical objects and related concepts are analyzed in the essay and the foundation where common ground is established for the varieties or categories of being – eliminating the need for the categories. There, the characters of mind, matter, laws, and concepts such as number… are clarified and their root identities are shown in the common ground of e.g. power i.e. the capacity for effect. In consequence, it is possible to assert, simply, that having being is existing. It is now possible to ask, with hope of an ontologically sound answer, ‘What is the character of some compound entity?’ Having placed mind, matter, relationship, idea on a common plane it is possible to say, simply, that its character is its set of constituents [or elements – where specification of what are allowed as elements is intentionally left open.] This leads into the second sense of being: the being of an entity is what it truly is; the admission of this sense of ‘being’ is equivalent to the questions ‘What is the nature of being?’ ‘What is the science or study of being as being?’ i.e. not as any particular kind of being…

As used here, the being of an individual –of an entity– is what it truly is and that includes its possibilities and potentials or likely possibilities

It includes what is tangible or sensible and what is real – and what is potentially real. The sensible includes the body. The real includes the sensible, and the possible; and mind, and all concepts that correspond to what is real: examples that could be considered are spirit, soul and substance. However, while consideration of a wide range of possible forms and kinds of being from the history of thought is useful in developing an understanding of the fullness of being – of its nature and possibilities, it is unnecessary to  attempt a review of all forms and kinds

The nature of being, the real, has been approached in many ways: conceptually, through knowledge and understanding as in the sciences and the tradition of philosophy; through exploration whose counterpart in science is experiment; through exploration and construction in of the possibilities of the form of being, for example the human body and human experience and in art and technology; through exploration in the world; and, not the least, by interactions among these modes. Interaction is necessary for the understanding might start with a concept of being, then an exploration in science or in the world or in ideas… and then the original concept may be modified and so on in the approach to improved understanding; and while an individual or a culture builds on what has come before, the question of being must be lived in order to have fullness of meaning

While there can be no entity that has no effect i.e. since all being may enter in some way or manner into awareness there is also a sense in which all being comes before any particular awareness or study of being. Fullness of being is lived and not merely thought. This is fundamental

That the being of an entity is ‘what it truly is’ begins as an implicit characterization. The value of an implicit characterization is its generality and openness; however, an explicit characterization –taken up later in the prologue– is also valuable even if we do not know that it will apply to all being. [It is part of the power of the metaphysics of being developed in the essay and the foundation that what would often be thought of as an implicit characterization is also, as noted above, an explicit characterization]

Being and knowledge of being have both definite [actual] and indefinite [possible] or unrealized aspects. It would be absurd to claim that human being has realized or knows all possible kinds or aspects of being or to claim that there is no knowledge or realization at all

The meaning of the being of an individual  or entity –what it truly is– defines the first purpose of the focus on being. A related, purpose to the focus on being is that the concept of being includes the indefinite: what is unknown and unrealized but what is possible; the question of the nature of being is an invitation to adventure – an ultimate adventure… the ultimate adventure

Because of the indefiniteness, coming into knowledge and realization is and must be a Journey into Being

A Journey into Being Itself

… a journey in understanding of the possibilities or potentials of being; of knowledge and traditions of knowledge – for all being and understanding

… and in transformations in being – experiments in realization of possibilities; of traditions of experiment with being

Knowledge or understanding and experiment are the main paths of the journey. There are two further areas of study and experiment:  the variety of being, intelligent and conscious artifacts or machines; and action and influence including social action, that round out the Journey. These four phases or areas of activity are described in and constitute four main sections of the essay. Each phase is a part of the journey; additionally the phases complement one another through the following functions. The approach through knowledge shows what is possible and moral and, as far as is possible, seeks to provide foundation for all phases and areas of the journey. The experiments constitute the core of the journey; additionally knowledge and experiment are mutually interactive in discovery and in providing confirmation and justification. The studies in the variety of being round out both knowledge and experiment through investigation of different kinds of being – there is a specific emphasis on the being of machines as agents and as additional “data” points in the study of being. The phase of social action and influence may be seen as sharing of the journey with others and, through, mutual action a further dimension to understanding and experiment in being

Reflection will show that the complete journey will encompass more than a personal story, more than the history of thought, action and transformation; more than the history of civilization and of life or even of the present phase and epoch of the physical universe. Journey in Being encompasses all being, that entire universe whose a priori nature belongs to no physical or other category and of which there is no before or after, no inside or outside or in between, no foundation in another element or substance more permanent or more basic. Journey in Being will be a journey into ultimate or absolute being – and so, it must be the journey into ultimate being

Two Pillars

The two pillars, already mentioned, are knowledge of and experiment with being


I first sought knowledge and understanding of knowledge. Knowledge would show what is possible, what is desirable – and moral, and how to achieve what is possible; this statement appears to imply a separation of knowledge and action and the possibility of an independent foundation of knowledge. However, knowledge is not ultimately distinct from action and, so, while knowledge and action remain in interaction i.e. there is no a priori guarantee of a final external foundation of being, I sought what foundation there may be… this is taken up in the main essay. An understanding of the nature of knowledge would provide foundations by showing conditions for the reliability of knowledge and thought. The problems are stated simply but the task is complex and difficult. Knowledge as metaphysics, the sciences and the practical arts and foundations or epistemology are part of the tradition of civilization and have attracted many minds in an ongoing dialog. My journey traced the same path, art and beyond

I came to seek to found my understanding of being, of the universe, upon nothingness. At that depth, deeper than the vacuum of quantum physics, before –or conceptually prior to– substance, before law and causation, before space and time and matter, before the existence of actual objects, before manifest mind and experience, the distinction between entities and qualities disappears and so one may equivalently say nothing, nothingness or void. I sought, for example, a foundation in modern physics where the universe could come into existence from nothing without violation of the principle of conservation of energy: the positive energy of matter would be balanced by the negative energy of gravitation. But possibility is not actuality or necessity. Further, the foundation in physics would yield little about the range and modes of being even as we know them; and would tell us little about mind or about our presence in the universe. And to complete the story from physics and even biology would require speculation

A Revolution

A revolution in my thought came when I turned away from a restriction to only this world –and knowledge of this world– or even possible worlds as the source of understanding and made an expansion to include the idea of nothingness itself

Nothingness: the Void

In a state of nothingness there will be no law, no causation, and no limits –except limits of logic– for if there were causation or law or limits there would not be nothingness: nothingness is not merely the absence of things but also of laws or patterns [a pattern may be seen as a complex thing.] Within nothingness even the limits of logic may be questioned since a contradiction when applied to nothingness involves no material paradox; and, while this point is minor, the extent and nature of logical limits –including limits on limits– will be taken up later. Therefore, at once, there are no limits on nothingness. I.e. nothingness is equivalent to every possible state of being and therefore every state of being is equivalent to all states of being. Within our universe or, more accurately, within the domain that may be labeled our phase-epoch of the one universe and subject to its quantum mechanical laws, the transition from one state of being to another state of being will, unless the two states are connected by the patterns or laws of the phase-epoch, be associated with colossally small probabilities

However, if laws, patterns and objects alien to our phase-epoch are allowed then the probabilities are no longer small. Instead, the transitions are certain. This follows since the void or nothingness is a possible intermediate phase in the transition if there is no restriction to our phase-epoch. Further, as noted below in the discussion on experiments in transformation and since it is constitutive of being to want to enter into local transformations, approaches are sought to find what transformations normally thought to be infeasible while remaining in the present phase-epoch can be made feasible. Modern science provides many examples of such transformation such as mechanized flight and nuclear power and transformations

These conclusions are extremely robust and depend very little on the foundations in knowledge that I initially sought – the concept of nothingness is further elaborated in the text where nothingness is found to exist, to be omni-present and eternal. There are also a number of issues and problems, some not even alluded to, that I have not addressed in this brief beginning. One problem concerns the idea of nothingness which –although I can have an idea and speak of it– might be a fertile ground for paradox since nothing is, in a sense, the complement of everything and since, as is known from philosophical logic, an unrestricted use of predicates –descriptive phrases– allows construction of paradoxes. Since nothingness may be thought of as the absence of all things, an approach to avoiding paradox may be based in asking what shall be allowed to count as a “thing.” There is also the problem of the smallness of the probabilities which is briefly addressed in this prologue, below. These and other problems and questions are further addressed in the main text

The general conclusions regarding nothingness and the transformations of being are also true for any phase-epoch with sufficient form and structure

The Ultimate or the Absolute

Foundation of being and understanding in nothingness is an end to the search for substance whose concept is that unchanging, undifferentiated object from which the universe is made i.e. that constitutes the universe… and an end to the search for spirit as the substance of the individual

The foundation is, in a sense, an absolute foundation – requiring and needing no further foundation or infinite regress

To the Reader

The journey described in this essay, a story of being and of my travels in being, covers a vast territory. I now see that only some parts of the journey were logically necessary to where I have arrived. However, in the beginning and during the process I did not know what was necessary and I could not have fully articulated the nature of the result. Therefore, in a sense the entire journey was necessary. Throughout, I was sustained by a sense of wonder and of trust in the being of the universe

I always seek responses from readers. I am encouraged by and appreciate kind words and praise but I have learned most by responding to challenges that have ranged from careful criticism to total and sometimes hurtful if careless negation of my thought and being. You may learn something by tracing the path described here. However, the spirit of my journey includes the following. In addition to wonder, I have also been sustained –especially when the sacrifices seemed to be a burden– by the thought that I may make a contribution to our journey. I have always thought that while the particulars of an individual journey may be erratic or quixotic, the universal journey is necessary and is built upon individual effort. In that sense, at least, the distinction between failure and success is thin; to fail is to have not sought and followed your vision, to have not undertaken your highest mission – which is already latent within you and which is your greatest joy and pain

Relations Between Our World and the Absolute

It may seem to some individuals that this is an invitation to reject our immediate world. That is not true. It is sometimes necessary –effective– to turn away from the details to achieve understanding. However, that understanding is an understanding of the details and how they stand together. The understanding binds together our common world and the absolute or infinite and illuminates both i.e. understanding of what is seen is [vastly] enhanced by the admission of existence of the unseen

From the essay: There are two great sources of meaning: first, experience and enjoyment of and action in the immediate world – the life and relationships of the individual and, second, in the process, in arching from individual being to universal Being

It may sometimes seem that I am asking readers to give up their most firm and sound beliefs – the system of common belief that is the foundation of our unspoken concept of the world. That, too, is not true. What I ask is for an extension of the common system of belief. The normal concept of the world undoubtedly has validity within a certain domain and we do not appear to be in a position to extrapolate beyond that domain. How then can I say anything about all being or the one universe? My response is in the foregoing discussion. Sustained by wonder and intuition, my search started in the world-as-I-experience-it and continued there through many avenues and over many years. Yet, despite many attempts including analysis of belief and knowledge, I could not give to my intuition the label of knowledge. Finally, I turned away from extrapolation and examined the concept of nothingness where I found, as stated above and as detailed in the body of this essay, that nothingness contains, in a sense, all being the entire one universe. The journey is a travel through human knowledge and through our world to this ultimate point that is a foundation to and meshes smoothly with all being and the system of common belief

In some systems of thought, the world as we experience it is all illusion. Here, we find that the world of experience, the forms of intuition and the system of common belief are practical guides to our world, essential to living in that world, that do not constitute an illusion when not held as absolute. The world of intuition where we experience time, space and the distinctness of individuals is embedded in the most inclusive perspective in which nothingness is the womb of being. Thus it is valid to experience space, time, individuation, pleasure and pain and the other forms of intuition such as causation; and it is also valid to know a world that e.g. contains but is not in time and in which the individual –you or I– is identical to all being that stands with the ability to be distant from the individual and his or her singular attributes and experience

Local / Universal

The universal is the absolute or the basis in the void. The local is the basis in the understanding of an actual phase. Thus reference to the quantum theory is local and, for any actual phase, may be replaced by reference to the best understanding of that phase. However, the universal understanding and basis do not change

Knowledge and Significance

If nothingness is equivalent to every state of being, then nothingness is equivalent to the entire universe. Starting with this point as a primary point of information, a foundation for cosmology is derived in the main text

This foundation has consequences for the nature of concepts, matter, mind, knowledge, logic. Of especial significance is the consequence for the nature of the idea of substance and, consequently, an –approach to– resolution of the great divides between the understandings of mind and of matter

That every state of being is equivalent to all states of being implies that, in contrast to appearances: individuals are not distinct, that there is a sense in which the history of the one universe repeats itself, that individuals –in that sense– transcend death and approach the absolute; and that individuals participate in being whose awareness transcends individual boundaries. The existence of such being and related arguments in the text resolve the problem that there appears to be no continuity of identity between identical but separate individuals or between distinct instances of the same individual e.g. in another life

What can be said of the practical issue that, in our being in the present phase and epoch of the universe, the transition between states of being has, generally, an extremely small likelihood?

In the first place, knowledge of our true nature affects the quality of our existence in this life. It shows to be mistaken the conclusion made from science by some writers that we are a lonely accident at the edge of the universe. Significantly, while the conclusions are mistaken, science itself, as it applies within the present phase and epoch of the universe is not discredited: the foundation developed here connects law and what causation there is in the present phase to the void, it requires stable existence to be founded in law and pattern. In any case, nihilist conclusions from science derive their human impact from considerations that are not the province of science but are, for example, expressions of the emotional tenor or personality of the individual or of perception of conflict between science and personal belief. Thus, for example, the idea that we are a lonely accident is not a factual conclusion since “lonely” as used here is an emotional quality; further any objective component to the conclusion is a projection of the science of this world to the ultimate

Secondly, I seek to connect our immediate presence to the absolute in two detailed ways. One way, already described, is through knowledge and understanding. Another way that complements and interacts with the way of understanding is through experiment. Being is founded in being rather than thought alone

Experiments in the Transformation of Being

The processes of knowledge, science and technology are experiments in transformation. However, focus is especially on the transformation of being itself. Examples from the traditions include western mysticism, Yoga, psychotherapy, meditation, the Shamanic vision-quest, the classic Heroic Journey-Quest. As described in the body of this essay I have considered these traditions critically, constructively and experimentally and have often adapted the traditions to my purposes

While I have taken up and continue to experiment with a number of classical approaches in transformation of awareness and being, the foundations of my experiments are in what I call the dynamics of being. A detailed discussion of the dynamics of being and its use is taken up later

The central and fundamental idea of the dynamics is that an individual can experiment with, learn about and often overcome what are seen as limits to his or her own being. The process may be seen as a variation or generalization of the scientific method or of the Socratic approach to criticism and ideas. What are the final limits to an individual being? The argument from nothingness shows that there are no limits except logical limits e.g. one cannot have property X and not X or be object A and not A at the same time. However, even this restriction does not have the force that it is often thought to have. For different objects A and B, it is usually thought that being A implies being not B. However, there may exist compound objects C whose state of being is a compounding [in quantum theory the term is superposition] of A and B. In general, all objects partake of a compound character similar to that of C. This follows from the fact that every state of being is equivalent to all states of being and is not at all dependent on quantum ideas

[Further, the universe of logical paradoxes is seen as smaller than originally thought when it is recognized that not every meaningful statement must be either true or false]

The question of low probabilities is approached by seeking an analog to catalysis in chemical transformations – the agent of catalysis in the case of being is mind or intelligence. Two approaches are possible [a] local or short-term – by discovering the laws and patterns of our phase and [b] global – by discovering how to go outside our phase-epoch… or, simply, by waiting which guarantees success.  Moral considerations are significant in justifying a search for perceiving and realizing states with limited likelihood

My Inspiration

My development has many influences and inspirations. Most of all perhaps are the influence of my mother who listened to my thoughts – even those most incomprehensible and absurd; and my journeys in nature where I receive inspiration in ideas and passion and resolve, and experience contact with The Source

Mileposts… and Horizons

The Journey continues but has come a long way and some Mileposts are:

Human Knowledge is without necessary limits. Already, we have seen an example in the use of the idea of nothingness

Knowledge can be seen as having biological and symbolic bases. As an example, spatial perception is based in neurophysiology; thus the perceived properties of space are a joint function of the world and the perceptual system i.e. space is one of Kant’s forms of intuition. However, space can be described symbolically e.g. through co-ordinate systems and, in that case, discovery of space and its properties is a scientific enterprise in which the form of intuition may suggest the symbolic form but the result is subject to criticism and experimental comparison with the reality of the world. As we now know, space is not an independent object; rather, a better description is obtained when space, time and matter are regarded as the object being described. The symbolic approach allows for description of curved space-times which means that the simplest description of the world is obtained when space-time is curved. This is not accessible in human intuition which appears to be limited to visualizing two-dimensional curved surfaces in three-dimensional space – this is not an absolute e.g. partial intuition of higher dimensional spaces may result from consideration of their projection onto two- or three-dimensional spaces. Additionally, space may turn out to have more than three dimensions [in some recent theories, space has ten dimensions of which all but three are so tightly curled up as to be smaller in extent than is accessible to the finest of direct measurements.] The geometry or physics of an eleven dimensional space-time is accessible to symbolic description but not to the forms of intuition

Thus it is possible to know and understand being-as-it-is [Kant’s thing-in-itself] through the use of symbolic representation as just described. This may be supplemented by taking individual and object to be a single entity

Whereas limits to intuition were just considered, according to previous discussion there should be no limits to the forms of intuition. Since there are no limits to the forms of being accessible to a given being, that conclusion is true but there is a practical limit – that of finding a catalyst to overcome extremely small probabilities in the this phase-epoch of the universe. However, transcendence of the intuition by the symbolic approach is available and actual here and now

Although a variety of general conclusions from the identity of the world and the void are robust, detailed and precise description of phenomena within our phase-epoch is exacting and the questions of its science and its foundations are real. The quantum theory is one step –or rung in a ladder– toward a connection between our world and the void. The symbolic way provides one approach to foundations where, in a spirit of openness, infinite regress of substance or ideas is replaced by revisability of the intermediate theories. However, although we learn from the history science and reflection upon its “method” that the central theories may be subject to revision it does not follow that the fundamental theory of our phase-epoch is infinitely revisable. There are excellent though not absolute reasons to think that modern theoretical physics has already provided the scaffolding of such a final theory. Some important limitations of such a theory should be noted. It will not, as discussed in the essay, imply that mind does not exist or is reducible to matter; rather, as is seen, the mental and the physical are alternate modes of description… and that the mental is as deep as the physical or other, hypothetical, modes. The numerous human or animal modes of experience and description –economics, culture and so on– will not be rendered trivial, empty or unnecessary. And, finally it does not follow, automatically, that the trajectory of the physical universe will be computable

A Characterization of Being: given below

A Resolution of the Issue of Substance Ontology

As noted earlier foundation in nothingness is an end to the search for substance, there is no need for further foundation or infinite regress: the ontology based in the void is not an ontology of substance i.e. it is neither a monism nor a dualism. Alternatively it may be seen as a substance ontology with the number of substances equal to zero. Locally, with respect to a given phase-epoch of the universe, and with respect to a system of understanding, there are practical issues of adequacy of understanding and description that may be formulated as substance issues. These, however, are not fundamental

A study of mind with new understanding of the concept and nature of mind; consequently, resolution of mind-matter questions and a foundation of a mapping [elements and functions] of mind and treatment of classic problems such as those of binding problem and of object constancy

The possibility of metaphysics; relation between metaphysics and the possibility of knowledge and logic

Cosmology as a topic in logic; and origin of causation, time and physical law… and an explanation of the paradox of the idea of an origin to time

Foundation of physics and physical cosmology; and of evolution and indeterministic process as applied to the physical universe and to life

Determinism and causation: our phase-epoch of the universe is neither deterministic nor causal but there are realms of deterministic and causal behavior e.g. as described in [large but not all] parts of classical physics. In the main text it is shown that [and how] law or pattern, structure, deterministic-like and quasi-causal behavior may arise out of nothingness and, also, in theory such as quantum mechanics that is indeterministic at its core and does not support full causation

Time: the text has a discussion of the origin of multiple times from the void and how, in a phase-epoch of the one universe, the multiple times may coalesce into a single dominant and dynamic but local time i.e. every particle in the phase-epoch may be thought of as having its own time but the times are more or less in coordination within the phase-epoch. The animal primitive intuition [experience] of time is that of a limited domain within our phase-epoch of the one universe and may be modified in various ways. Theoretically, there are modifications to the idea of universal time that arise within e.g. relativistic physics. Conceptually, starting from the void it is possible to understand the origin and end [without end] of times and of local time. The human experience or psychology of time is fluid in that the passing of time may appear real in the moment-to-moment, in the days [except in the far North or South] and in the seasons [except at the equator.] However, individuals may have the experience of eternity i.e. the suspension of time that may coexist with the experience of moments. The precise experience of time and timelessness is an individual phenomenon that is also influenced by context and culture; the experience [and mythology] of living in a timeless world is common within “hunter-gatherer” communities

Detailed discussion is in the main text. There it will be seen that although I have drawn inspiration from ideas from modern science, the reasoning is not dependent on or founded in science

Transcendental logic, which is the use of logic to make real conclusions. This sounds paradoxical. However, a brief explanation has already been given and is elaborated in the main text

The concept of logic receives re-vision; this is spelt out in recent developments which provide background and detail for the following generalizations of the traditional idea of logic: first, logic is the understanding of what is possible; here, logic continues to be understood as mental or symbolic operation; however, in further generalization, second, logic is the realization of the possible. In the second generalization logic is no longer a knowledge or mental operation [as narrowly understood]

Fundamental principles include

The Principle of Identity that the void is equivalent to all being which follows from logic as follows. The concept of the void is introduced as that of contingent nothingness; it could not be necessary or eternal nothingness for that would imply the presence of law which would not be nothing. Similarly, void cannot be barred from transformation into any or all being. It is necessary to understand that the void and its equivalents include ‘our’ coherent phase-epoch of the universe as a ‘speck’ and the equivalences in question do not hold if transformations are required to remain within our phase-epoch. However, absolute restriction to the phase-epoch is not possible even though once there, there is a practical sense in which ‘escape’ is unlikely [in the absolute sense it is certain]

The Principle of Being that all being is open to every being – practically, the likelihood from within our phase-epoch is colossally small though transformation to every / all being is absolutely certain in the absolute sense

There is Exactly One Universe. This follows from the fact that All Entities May Interact with Every Other Entity which in turn follows from the fact that the void may interact with every entity

What is Actual is Possible [important even though trivial] and what is possible must, on account of recurrence as discussed in foundation, be actual

What is Conceivable –thinkable, describable and so on– is Possible if its existence does not involve contradiction

What is Possible is Necessary in the sense that it must occur in some phase of the universe. For the possible to be ruled out would be a law. This is The Law of Contradiction that in the entire one-universe only the impossible i.e. what involves contradiction will not occur. From these considerations:

What is possible –thinkable, non-contradictory etc– obtains over and over without limit –beginning or end or boundary– in space-time. This is eternal recurrence in time and infinite repetition in extension

There are entities whose beings span the distinct repetitions of a localized individual; this gives meaning or significance to the recurrence. The individual is equivalent to all being – the Vedantic Principle; from a practical perspective from with of a phase-epoch realization of this equivalence is colossally unlikely but from the actual perspective it is necessary

What has been called The Fundamental Problem of Metaphysics –Why is there something rather than nothing?– is extended to Why is there presence or sentience rather than nothing? and rendered trivial

Original identity of being, knowledge and ethics or, more accurately, the ethical nature of being

…and analysis of ethics in relation to origin from nothingness and the elements of being

Dynamics of being and its foundations in the metaphysics

Foundation of transformations of being

A set of complete but minimal experiments in the transformations of being

Philosophy and the academic disciplines: in a culture in which there is an academic establishment with a number of academic divisions or disciplines [and sub-disciplines] there are likely to be problematic relations including self-relations among the disciplines regardless whether the divisions are convenient or essential. In modern and recent philosophy c. 2000 there has been ongoing discussion of the nature of philosophy and its relations to the other disciplines. Does philosophy say anything about the world and can it instruct the other disciplines – or is its role more humble, indeed can it say anything at all? These questions have been asked and discussed by philosophers and others including individuals from science. The discussions range from the illuminating to the merely contentious. I have written on this subject in greater detail in another essay, the History of Western Philosophy. Here, I will limit my discussion to two comments. [1] What is illuminating in the ‘conversation’ often appears to be limiting but such the rationally basis is necessarily in an underlying world view or metaphysics – even when strong claims about absence of or impossibility of metaphysics are made: ‘impossibility of metaphysics’ contains a concealed metaphysics; and the spread of such philosophy is usually the result of success of some categorically limited but extremely powerful venture such as ‘science’ or the persuasive power of a ‘master.’ The origins of crisis and contention include cultural factors: the nihilism of an era, the insularity of the disciplines which is a negative aspect of specialization, the professionalization of ‘knowledge’ with its attendant and fragile premature if implicit claims to completeness – and claims to ignorance which may be distinguished from doubt as an approach to understanding, should be viewed with as much suspicion as claims to knowledge. While education in philosophy does not typically involve exposure to science, the scientists are often limited in their awareness of the depth of philosophical concerns. However, it is clear that regardless of the lines of demarcation, philosophical thought is often enhanced by a broad understanding that includes academics, science and its foundations; and scientists do, when occasioned, engage in philosophical thought. [2] The concept of the void is a topic in transcendental logic rather than in science –as narrowly understood– and it is clear that an analysis of the void and of becoming are informative and in some ways foundational to modern physics which, in turn, informs more complete thought on the nature of the void and of becoming. This provides a stark and deep example of the potential for modern and current interaction between philosophy and science

Experiments in the Transformation of Being: the discussion here covers the general experiments of Experiments in the Transformation of Being and the more particular experiments of The Variety of Being and of Action, Charisma, and History

In Foundation, the dynamics and logic are integrated as part of Logic. This unifies the foundation of the ‘experiments’ and of ‘metaphysics.’ The general foundation of ‘A Complete, Minimal Set’ of experiments is completed. The experiment in ‘Universal Knowledge’ is essentially complete; and the remaining experiments are in varying stages of progress which is substantial for all experiments except ‘social influence’ and the full ‘transformation of being’

In the Journey-Quest, Ideas and Experiments are Integrated

Other developments are described in what follows

Characterizing Being

It is now possible to give a brief explicit characterization of being. For a more complete justification of the following account, the reader is referred to the main essay

That the being of an entity is “what it truly is” is an implicit characterization. The value of an implicit characterization is its generality and openness; however, an explicit characterization is also valuable even if we do not know that it will apply to all being

In the main essay, I take up the idea of concepts and discuss the notion of a slack concept. A slack concept is one that is not completely definite –its properties are not specified with complete precision– and for which, given an object, it is not always possible to tell whether the object falls under the concept. However, that a concept is slack does not necessarily imply ignorance in the case that the object of application itself is not [and need not be] definite. Thus the recognition of conceptual slack is, in some cases, the recognition of a virtue. An example: if an autonomic nervous process is intermediate between two clearly mental states or processes, is the autonomic process itself mental? An adequate response is that, generally, it is not necessary to label the autonomic process as mental or not mental for nothing is gained either way… The relevance here is that the following brief characterization may turn out to be parochial rather than universal

Journey: The coming into realization is a [cumulative] journey. Of course, not every event or phase adds to the cumulation; and some that are thought to add are later dropped

Mind: Being is characterized by mind which is the instrument of being and becoming. Mind has been said to be too high level a concept to be characteristic of being. The basic facts of mind as far as “higher” being is concerned are experience and presence. Bound and free aspects of mind, discussed in the main essay, are essential in the process of becoming. For entities that are sufficiently “low,” the free aspects are not internalized. There is a “high level” mind that animal being recognizes as such but, as discussed in Journey in Being, mind also occurs at lowest of levels. It is necessary to refer the reader to the relevant parts of Journey in Being to understand precisely what is being said and its foundation and explanation

Action: Action is conceived as an aspect of mind

The Principle of Being: As developed in this prologue and elaborated in the main essay, all being is open to every being or all states of being are equivalent to every state of being [it is necessary to allow states outside any given phase-epoch of the universe for this to be a logical principle]

Dynamics of Being: The use of mind, experiment and action in recognizing and overcoming limits – explained more thoroughly below and in the main division of the essay on Experiments in the Transformation of Being. The rational base of the dynamics is the principle of being; a practical basis in the laws of a phase-epoch of the universe is discussed below

The Principle of Meaning: There are two great sources of meaning: first, experience and enjoyment of and action in the immediate world – the life and relationships of the individual and, second, in the process of arching from individual being to universal Being. It seems to me that this is trivially obvious

Cosmology: Cosmology is not limited to physical cosmology. Cosmology is the study of entire existence, the one universe as a whole. The italicized phrase would be a better title for this point but I use cosmology because it is the title of a section in Journey in Being. Cosmology includes the following: the equivalence of the one universe and nothingness and the principle of identity; the necessity and sufficiency of indeterminism to explain the origin of the actual universe and its structure from nothing; and physics and physical cosmology. Matter has been held to be a high level concept but the concept of matter is understood, here, in a more basic way than the physical stuff of the present phase-epoch of the universe and not as something distinct from mind – rather mind and matter are different modes of description

Ethics: Being is ethical in nature. This does not mean that every individual “does the right thing” at all times. Ethics is possible only when there is choice and the existence of choice implies that the right thing will not always be done and hence a need for ethics. Ethics, like mind and matter, occurs at various levels. And there is an ethics of the human context and an ethics of being-in-the-one-universe which do not necessarily mesh smoothly; there is no need or sense to a perfectly smooth mesh

Recent developments: the following aspects of characteristics of being are developed. Selection and Proof for the Characteristics. Kinds of Characteristics – primary, derivative, existential, possible, and fundamental. Characteristics of being: existence, absence, accessibility and identity, extension-duration, indeterminacy, community and interactivity, meaning, mind, experience, presence, matter or material nature and other properties, actuality, soul, an infinite number of attributes – rejection of the ‘attribute theory’, recurrence, fecundity, good and evil

Common Ground for All Being: while a variety of kinds and aspects to being has been listed above in the fashion of categories the variety has not been presented as a system of categories which is unnecessary due to the common ground in What is Being

The Stumbling

In the system that follows, those ideas that are original build upon the ideas of others. Sometimes, as in the developments in cosmology, my ideas have been suggested by existing theories even when the dependence on those theories is not logical or formal

Especially when the ideas are original, and even though I have devoted much study and thought and sought much inspiration, I sometimes feel that I have accidentally stumbled upon the ideas rather than developed them or found them as a result of a careful or systematic search. As an example, I have been thinking about the role of concepts of nothingness for a number of years. However, the final insight on how to view the relationship between nothingness and the world occurred without intimation one morning when I stopped for coffee at a bakery at the foot of the Trinity Mountains, Trinity County, Northern California

The first intent in this final part of the prologue is to make statements about the nature of the processes of my discoveries and perhaps about all discovery. Dependence on the ideas of others is simply a fact. When my ideas have external influence, the dependence is often unconscious since I am immersed in a culture of ideas. The feeling of stumbling is this: where I sought concepts, insight and understanding, I did not expect the actual ideas or their final form and, and the certainty, magnitude, depth, breadth of application, and beauty of the ideas significantly exceeded my expectations in their breadth and in the logic of the foundation. Even what I hoped for was exceeded: for what is not conceived there cannot be explicit hope. Thus, the form of the foundation in nothingness –the elucidation of nothingness, the certainty of the conclusions, and the release from infinite regress and substance ontology– were, despite earlier hopes and glimmers of the result, surprising and, of course, exhilarating as a result of the breadth and crystal clarity. However, even if my discoveries are accidental or serendipitous in any objective way, that being should make the essence of the discoveries is necessary

The idea of ‘endless vistas of discovery and knowledge’ has been an ideal, in Western Civilization, since the end of Medieval Scholarship. Here, in the equivalence of nothingness –the void– and all being a closure to ‘endless vistas’ has been realized. Simultaneously, nothingness is the ‘womb of all being’ and in that infinitude contains our –local– universe as a mere speck not only in size but in variety and possibilities: closure has not eliminated gazing out upon distant horizons

The Journey Continues…

The next phase is a return to the focus on the experiments described in the second section of the main essay

As far as knowledge and ideas are concerned, I must again turn away from what clarity of vision I have experienced and toward intuition and diffuse light to sense and seek what further truth there may be

Recent Developments

Since completion of this essay in July 2003, greater clarity has been obtained in foundation and concepts

In foundation, the underlying logic –the nature of the void or nothingness, its use in understanding the nature of possibility and logic, its use in understanding being and the relationship between the our cosmological system and the entire uni-verse– is brought into sharp relief. The new formulation of the concept of logic, which includes the traditional concept, is an extraction of the essential logic of the void and is the single law of the entire uni-verse. In consequence, greater unity, depth and breadth is obtained in the resulting metaphysics and the topics in Journey in Being. A summary of the improved and the new results follows

General metaphysics and cosmology; includes physical cosmology and MIND. The theory of the VOID and the LOGIC result in a metaphysics without substance, a foundation without regress i.e. that ‘terminates in the void.’ The system of metaphysical problems is resolved into real and artifactual problems – those that have origin e.g. in a limited world view. The underlying LOGIC enhances the distinction, the resolution of the real and illumination of all problems and concepts

Symbol; language, knowledge, logic, mathematics… the free symbolic capability makes possible, as distinct from the root, human knowledge, logic, choice, value… Some thinkers hold that the range from the root and up but prior to the fully free symbol does not constitute e.g. knowledge. There is an analogy to the question whether the earth rotates around the sun or vice versa; either position can be validly held but it, in classical mechanics, it is the latter that makes for the simplest description [in fact rotation about the center of mass of the solar system provides the ‘simplest’ description.] Similarly, what is important for knowledge is the distinction marked by the free symbol. Given the distinction, allowing the pre-free symbolic adaptation to count as a kind of knowledge is to acknowledge the fact of continuity of the human with the universal. Epistemology is defined by the following limits. As the part is less than the whole, epistemology is secondary to logic and metaphysics; this follows from the LOGIC of the VOID. It is inherent in the nature of the free symbol that there is no a priori justification of symbolic knowledge; at the same time, allowing for a transitional field of concepts opens up the possibility of an end to transition

Value: the free symbol makes for the possibility of creation and recognition of possibilities for action; the concept of value addresses the resulting freedom and guides action under freedom… and this implies the underlying unity of all value. Complete rationality in value is contradictory to the concept of freedom and, while there are guides and rationality, there is also an essential freedom of choice that cannot be eliminated

In CONCEPTS, I have recorded new ideas, modifications, elaborations and plans

WHAT IS ‘JOURNEY IN BEING’ is a brief review of the foundation for understanding of being and the nature of the journey that further improves the results from the document, foundation. The individual concepts of LOGIC, VOID, UNIVERSE, MIND, BEING, INDETERMINISM, COSMOLOGY, knowledge, process, relationship, universal, form, fundamental divide, symbol, logics, physical cosmology, determinism, causation, STRUCTURE OF MIND, nature and history of PHILOSOPHY and METAPHYSICS, PROBLEMS OF METAPHYSICS, THEORY OF VALUE AND CHOICE or ETHICS, and the RELATIONSHIPS among them are clarified. A greater economy, breadth and depth of thought and approach to action is obtained. These enhancements together with the synthesis of disciplines of JOURNEY IN BEING and METAPHYSICS, result in a further enhancement of the system of thought

The working out of the details is planned and it is anticipated that the result will be a significant improvement in DEPTH, BREADTH and ECONOMY of presentation… and, I hope, a contribution to the IDEA and the HISTORY OF THOUGHT

Contents: The Paths of the Journey

The essay is in four parts: an Introduction which contains a description of ‘my journey’

The interest of this personal part for the universal and the nature of discovery includes the following. The significance of belief and intuition in discovery. The nature of belief. The importance of breadth and of continued contemplation and refinement over years as complement to –though not a replacement for– specialization, rigor, immediate publication and judgment in the process of discovery and understanding. The importance of, having achieved a peak in understanding, seeking a fresh viewpoint, of starting again at the ground. The value of assuming a variety of paths or ‘careers.’ The values of non-academic work as a complement to work in a research establishment, or a university: exposure to what is real in the being of the individual, loss of occasion to indulge in niceties of detail and sophistication at the expense of real vision and action, freedom from academic politics – the pressure to near slave-like adherence to the standard view of the world but simultaneous freedom to use and be immersed in that view

The Introduction is followed by Theory of being and knowledge; Topics – cosmology, mind, theory of value, and a discussion of the problems of metaphysics; and Applications and experiments. Together, these divisions constitute understanding and transformation in the ‘Journey in Being’

For the core essays, secondary, supporting and other documents that include design and planning see the Site-Map

Journey in Being Website

The electronic version is updated at all revisions and is, therefore, more current than print versions

Anil Mitra

June 16, 2004



Prologue - above    |    Introduction

Theory:    Metaphysics and the Theory of Being    |    Knowledge and Action

Topics:    Cosmology    |    Mind    |    Theory and Approaches to Group Action and Value    |    Problems of Metaphysics

Applications:    Experiments in the Transformation Of Being    |    The Variety of Being    |    Action, Charisma, and History

Latest Revision And Copyright    |    Sources    |    Footnotes




An Individual Journey


The Significance of the Individual Journey

Origins of the Dynamics of Being

The Present


Journey into Ultimate Being

Fundamental Principles

The Principle of Being

The Principle of Meaning

Reflections on the Principles of Being and of Meaning

There is Exactly One Universe

The Principle of Identity

The origin of the Principle of Identity

The Four Paths or Ways



Experiments with the Variety of Being


The Stumbling

The Journey Continues…



1.1        What is Metaphysics?

1.1.1        The Possibility of Metaphysics

1.2        Importance of Metaphysics for the Journey in Being

1.2.1        As a Foundational aspect of the Experiments in the Transformation of Being

1.2.2        Every Organism has an Intrinsic Metaphysics

1.2.3        Metaphysics and Science

1.2.4        Using the Tradition

1.3        Being

1.3.1        Existence

1.3.2        [Materialism]

1.3.3        Existence and Concepts

1.3.4        Nothingness

1.3.5        Possibility

1.3.6        Nature of Being

1.3.7        Characterizing Being

1.3.8        Being, Process, Cause, Time and Dynamics

1.4        The Principle of Being

1.5        Ultimate Being

1.5.1        What is Ultimate Being?

1.5.2        The Possibilities of Actual Beings

1.5.3        What Possibilities are Good?

1.5.4        Omniscience

1.6        Systematic Metaphysics

1.7        Language, Words and Metaphysics

1.8        Metaphysics / Action

1.9        Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge and Logic


2.1        Knowledge

2.1.1        Two Roles for Knowledge

2.1.2        What is Knowledge?

2.1.3        Intuition and Formal Knowledge        Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description        Journey in Being is an Adventure in the Forms of Being and Thought        Alien world view of Knowledge; Presentationism and Representationism

2.1.4        How is Knowledge Possible        The Functions of Knowledge        Kinds of Knowledge

2.1.5        Knowledge, Belief and Truth

2.1.6        Knowledge, Meaning and Reference

2.1.7        Criteria of Validity

2.1.8        Security

2.1.9        Criticism, Skepticism and their Radical Forms        What is the Depth of Knowledge in the Organism?

2.1.10       Justification and Action

2.1.11       Knowledge and Action

2.2        Processes of Knowledge

2.2.1        Discovery        Concepts        Articulation of Concepts        Field of Concepts        Conception or Concept Formation        Definiteness of Concepts

2.2.2        Justification

2.2.3        Science

2.2.4        Direct Knowledge

2.3        Knowledge Used in the Journey in Being

2.3.1        Topics

2.3.2        Range of Human Knowledge


3        COSMOLOGY

3.1        Reflections on the Number of Universes

3.2        There is Exactly One Universe

3.3        Regarding “Something from Nothing”

3.4        Regarding the Existence of Consciousness and Presence

3.5        Principle of Connection

3.6        Becoming

3.7        Kinds of Process and Cause

3.8        Co-origins of Being, Causation, Dynamics and Time

3.9        Reflections on the Approach to Co-Origins

3.10      Structure

3.11      Anthropic Principles as Examples of the Transcendental Method

4        MIND

4.1        Mind and Metaphysics

4.1.1        What is Mind?

4.1.2        The Fundamental Role of Experience or Feeling

4.1.3        Unconscious Mental Processes

4.1.4        Unconscious Mental Processes and the Body

4.1.5        Mind / language

4.1.6        Mind / body

4.1.7        Mind / body: summary and consolidation of philosophical conclusions

4.1.8        Mind / body in science

4.1.9        Noumenon and Phenomenon

4.1.10       Origins of Ideas

4.2        Characterization of Mind

4.2.1        Purpose of this Section

4.2.2        A Set of Mental Axes

4.2.3        Mind / Being

4.2.4        Key Characterizations

4.2.5        Relation to Environment

4.2.6        Creation

4.2.7        A Unified Theory of the Functions of Mind

4.3        Dimensions of Mind / Being: Introduction

4.3.1        Indefiniteness of Concepts

4.3.2        Example: Humor and Emotion

4.3.3        Dimensions of Mind / Being: Outline

4.4        Dimensions of Mind / Being: Foundations

4.4.1        Objectives

4.4.2        Criticisms of the Classical Functions of Mind

4.4.3        Explanatory / Organizing Principles

4.5        A System of the Dimensions of Mind, Being and Action

4.5.1        Character of Mind / Being

4.5.2        Functions: States and Processes        Memory        Attitude – and Concepts        Action        The Body

4.5.3        Extension in Time        Learning and growth; development of the functions        Personality and its Development        Commitments        The dynamics of being; becoming; local / non-local        Arching from the Individual / Here-Now to the Universal

4.6        Symbol and Language

4.6.1        The importance of language

4.6.2        Analytic or Linguistic Philosophy        Solipsism        The Concepts, “Everything” and “Nothing” or “Nothingness”

4.6.3        Meaning and Communication

4.6.4        Kinds of Linguistic Meaning

4.6.5        Formal Systems and Formal Meaning

4.7        Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge and Logic

4.7.1        Knowledge and Inference

4.7.2        Knowledge and Inference in an Organism

4.7.3        Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge

4.7.4        The Possibility of Logic

4.7.5        Analytic and Synthetic Propositions

4.7.6        Metaphysics and the Possibility of Implication / Inference

4.7.7        Not Every Idea is a Form

4.7.8        The Variety of Logical Structures

4.7.9        Mathematics

4.8        Theories of Action


A Purpose: Constructive, Aesthetic and Global dimensions of Ethics

5.1        Nature of Moral Conduct

5.1.1        The Possibility of Moral Conduct

5.1.2        What is good is not laid out in advance

5.2        Free Will

5.3        Ethics and Morals

5.4        Philosophical and Reflective Ethics

5.4.1        Constructive vs. Passive and Prescriptive Ethics

5.4.2        Ethical Traditions

5.4.3        Applied Ethics

5.5        Analysis of Judgment

5.5.1        The tension among imperatives

5.5.2        Ethics, Metaphysics and other concerns

5.6        Meta-ethics

5.7        Ethics, Being, Knowledge

5.8        Ethics and Journey in Being


6.1        The Problems of Metaphysics

6.2        Modern Problems in Metaphysics

6.3        Types of Metaphysical Theory

6.4        Criticisms

6.5        Argument and Construction in Metaphysics. Meta-questions

6.6        Recent Metaphysics



Purpose and Nature of the Experiments

What is a Transformation of Being?


Means or Ways

Meaning and Value

The Value of Transformations of Being

Dynamics of Being


Perception and Vision-Quest

Dreams and Hypnosis

What Will a Theory of Dreams Do?

The Nature of Dreams


The Meaning and Function of Dreams




Intuition and Mysticism


God / religion



Computational Models of Mind / Cognitivism

Theoretical and Conceptual Background: Ontology and Knowledge


Significance of History

Kinds of Change

Charisma and Patriarchalism: Two Kinds of Influence

The Problem of Significance

The Place of Social and Political Theory

Social Theory

Theories of Social Structure

Social Change and Dynamics

The History of Influence

Concepts in Politics

What is Politics?


The Origin of Theory and Possibility of its Application

What is Theory?


Origin and Possibility of Action

Political and Moral Theory

Justification of Theory

Political Systems

Theatres Influence








This introduction is a short story of my journey. The account is not an autobiography – its purpose is to show what aspects of my life have been important to my journey. For a short account of the main ideas, aims and arguments, see the Prologue

An Individual Journey[5]

Journey in Being began as my journey – is also my journey, the story of my coming into the ideas and paths that make up the journey. The story of my life is a part of the journey – but this document is not intended to be a vehicle to tell an intimate story of my life. What is significant is how I came to undertake the journey, especially to the extent that the origins are significant in understanding and founding the journey

In the beginning, my life –as for all lives– had joy and pain. I enjoyed love, beauty in the world, the sense of adventure, places, ideas… the world was full of wonderful potential and, perhaps, if that was all there was, my journey might have been quite different. It was the beauty and the emptiness[6] – from a desire for beauty – that sparked my journey. Beauty was my light, emptiness my flame…

I spent twenty years in the academic world of study, research and teaching. I found understanding more satisfying than performance, breadth as important as specialization and depth. There were low points but it was largely exciting and enjoyed. Always, I sought life that was broader than the academic confines[7]. There remained an incompleteness. I thought, and felt – and still feel – that knowledge was a path to the center of being but, still, incomplete. I expressed this later: at the end of knowledge and insight, the being of the individual is little changed. Therefore, I sought other experiences in the world and although this was deliberate the process was also spontaneous; I lived independently for four years; I lived with many people and families. There was no rejection of knowledge - I immersed myself in many disciplines[8]… learning so much from my formal and my self-education, I traveled, lived in nature – in the wildernesses of North America and Mexico where I experience connection with nature… with being and where I received my best inspiration, designed and operated a restaurant, did work for pay – especially psychiatric care where much was learned and experienced especially about personality and its mutations and about the dimensions of mind from some of its extreme manifestations, I lived and loved, felt and gave much love and much tragedy, became a parent, I experimented with the transformations and transmutations of personality, the use and development of my charisma, I wrote and thought much about the nature of being – evolution, science, philosophy, maintain[ed] a website as a record of all these experiences and as a presentation the Journey in Being, I felt success and failure. One meaning, for me, of living in the moment is working out the details of my vision every day. In that mode of living though not only in that mode I am in the present. Sometimes I break from that mode and look back; I sometimes cherish the variety of my experience. It has been essential to my journey

Living in the academic world has been important – there I learnt much in the way of ideas and discipline. Living outside that world has also been significant. I have been kept ‘honest’ for the very pressure of day-to-day living has meant that I cannot rest upon mere sophistication. More importantly, there is a truth to everyday living; contact with that truth has informed my thought and journey… and I have been required to and enjoyed contact with the world and with real people with real lives. There is here no comparison or judgment of the two ways of life; I say, simply, that both have contributed and that there is something vital about each, something lovely… and, sometimes, something artificial


What is it about myself that has made me open to the two ways and to perception?

Opportunity: I was fortunate to have had an excellent education and to have lived in a family that had some appreciation of ideas, beauty, art and education. Whatever intelligence I have, too, was a gift

Openness: I learned to enjoy life in all its ways, to be tolerant of and to love others, to perceive, to appreciate beauty. All this is in large measure due to my mother

Discipline: from my father I learned to doubt myself; and from this doubt came, in some measure, self-discipline and the desire to be better – sublimated as a desire for the universal

Seize the moment: a combination of the foregoing, a gift from the universe, a sense of the infinite, tenacity in following my passion

The Significance of the Individual Journey

Often, the academic disciplines emphasize, not without reason or value, impersonal narrative. However, for the Journey in Being, the personal is crucial – the universal journey is confluence of individual journeys. Simultaneously, there is a perspective from which – a place where – the individual recedes and there is one being, one vision. The individual journey also has significance in showing where it may meet the universal – in sharing one’s life, in being part of the great stream – and as an example and in avoiding self-deception. In an endeavor which is purely scientific personal accounts, when interesting, may be published in non-scientific literature, and are appropriately kept separate from formal science. However, the personal approach is essential to the Experiments in the Transformation of Being where there is, ultimately, no method. There, there is a role for the impersonal but the approach to transformation, in the absence of method, will include idiosyncratic and personal aspects. Since my journey began with immersion in a science oriented career, the continuous path from science to the Journey to the Edge of Being – also a journey to the center – is significant to the question of whether there may be some methodological elements to the Journey

A significant discovery, relevant to the Dynamics of Being, has been the way in which the formal and the intuitive interact. Repeatedly, in the academic sphere, I learned formal approaches and used them until I would be able to reduce the formal to intuition… and then build further formal, then intuitive understanding upon the earlier foundation

Origins of the Dynamics of Being

The origin of the Dynamics of Being was in my experience and reflection upon how my being and experience became and become modified. My experiences just described – ambitions, hopes, love, charisma, academic work, travels, living in nature, restaurant development, psychiatric work, being a father – above were essential regardless of degree of success in this development. Some of these paths, rather labyrinthine, were recounted in a letter that I wrote to my parents in 1996; it was in that letter, in the process of subjecting my life to review, I first recognized and named the Dynamics of Being

The development of the dynamics, initially unplanned, was the product of numerous elements in interaction. The first element is my experience described above. I will not labor over details or a comprehensive list of the elements but give some examples:

Dynamics of Being – in this and related sections I have described some of the classic disciplines [academic thought, science, yoga, meditation, journey-quest] as being examples of the dynamics; the dynamics also incorporates the development of an individual over time, as an element of history and as participating in society

Metaphysics – this section includes discussions of Being | Mind | Cosmology | Ethics, Being, Knowledge; the developments are interactive with one another and in each case I have sought to bring out the aspects that are dynamic in the sense used here e.g. for mind in the section Extension in Time

The Present

In Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action I have used reason to verify a concept of the cosmos and ultimate being… and to analyze the possible transformations of being. Principles and details from Natural Philosophy [9] may be used to fill in the picture

In Experiments in the Transformation of Being, I outline an approach to transformation – the Dynamics of Being; and the dynamics is used to weave together some classical and some personal ways of transformation. Some applications are described in Experiments in the Transformation of Being. I plan further experiment into transformation – for the intrinsic interest and as a test for The Principle of Being. A complete, minimal set of experiments is formulated and described in Experiments in the Transformation of Being

The Variety of Being and Action and Influence describe further phases of the Journey and additional experiments. Further elaboration of the status of the Journey is in The Four Paths or Ways, in the corresponding sections and secondary essays


Although I have ambitions, hopes and plans, I do not know my ultimate destination… or, in my very[10] present form, where my journey will take me until I get there

I do not intend or hope that my ambitions and projects will have continuity even in this life. That is, there may – and I intend that there will – come a time where I will turn away from my present path and to another or come to a place where I will end all designs and be, simply, open

Journey into Ultimate Being

Journey in Being began as my journey – a personal and unstructured search, a seduction by the world that, over time, acquired structure, logic, direction and universality. In the beginning, I found, in the story of cosmos, life, humankind and its cultures, civilization: friendship and light, a passage to the edge. Journey in Being is – and became – the universal adventure into ultimate possibility and being…

Journey in Being began as mine but, of course, it began much before…

Fundamental Principles

Although I state a number of principles, all follow from The Principle of Identity which follows from logic

The Principle of Being

Consider the assertion: All Being is open to every being! This is the Principle of Being

The Principle of Being includes an idea that individual being becomes all being in the same sense that a fertilized ovum “becomes” the individual

We will consider, later, the meaning of “being” and potential paradoxes contained in the assertion… especially those associated with “all” and “all Being”; and ways out of paradox – how to restore meaning

Even if paradoxical or simply untrue, consideration of the assertion will be extremely useful

Is the Principle of Being true? The following questions arise:

What is all being – ultimate being, the ultimate in being? Is there an ultimate in being?

Is there a meaning to “ultimate being” outside of the projection of a “finite individual.” Would not such meaning have to await the arrival of ultimate being [assuming that the ultimate is not already arrived]

To what range of being[s] is that ultimate accessible? This is the question of truth

How is that possible? What is the likelihood or probability? Are there “catalysts” – that bring with reach what is otherwise colossally improbable – to transformation

Becoming the ultimate… is that desirable – good?

What is accessible to any given being or class of beings, specifically to human being?

Focus on the Principle of Being might seem to imply that the immediate –the here and now– and the enjoyment of an individual life are unimportant. Similarly, focus on high ambition might seem to imply not accepting one’s condition. Such implications are not intended. I said above that the individual and the universal are interdependent for existence and meaning. This is:

The Principle of Meaning

There are two great sources of meaning: first, experience and enjoyment of and action in the immediate world – the life and relationships of the individual and, second, in the process, in arching from individual being to universal Being

Here, of course, meaning refers to significance and not to linguistic meaning

A fundamental choice facing every individual the balance of the two sources of meaning

Further, what is acceptance? If it is in human nature to have ambition then a merely passive life is acquiescence but not true acceptance. Consider the imperative “Do not change the order of the world!” If the nature of being includes changing, then, to be only passive or to exalt flow above active endeavor is to change the order of the world

The principle of meaning is a foundation of the Hero-Quest

Reflections on the Principles of Being and of Meaning

The discussion below is interesting because it was written before I had completed the logical derivation of The Principle of Identity

The Principle of Meaning has a degree of self-evidence: the individual – the atomic[11] – and the universal are mutually dependent in fact – this may be interpreted in the context of life: the concern of the individual and the concern of the environment; the desire for wholeness and the enjoyment of the particular; the experiences and insights of leaders in the world of the sacred and psychology. This is not offered as “proof” and it may be doubted that a universal principle of this magnitude, though possessed of truth, could be proven as a theorem – this question of validity and the next are elaborated later. What is not evident is the balance and way to the wholeness implied by the Principle of Meaning. The lack of evidence is evident from the complexity of individual life, the variety of individuals and inclinations and the needs of the group, of society, for such a variety

The Principle of Being does not have the self-evidence associated with the Principle of Meaning but now consider it to be true, that All Being, the ultimate is open to every being – and, specifically to human being! Temporarily, regard it as true

Why would one believe that? There is, of course, delusion, defense against impotence, and the fact that an unjustified or even untrue belief may make an individual or group stronger. In one way this raises the question of the meaning of the assertion – of any assertion: that the meaning is not always the content whether literal or metaphorical. However to argue from this kind of meaning – the assertion as a sign – is to undermine my intent: I do want to consider the meaning of the content. I will take up questions of meaning and the specific question of the validity of the Principle of Being later

An initial commonsense reaction might be that the Principle of Being is false but reflection would call that into question so a reflective commonsense might hold that the Principle could be true but, perhaps, it cannot be known whether it is true or false. The next reflection might hold not that it cannot be known but that it is unknown; then that it may be known or have been known but is unknown to the individual in question; then that it is highly if not staggeringly improbable; and then, perhaps that any estimate of probabilities is only an estimate. Assume, therefore, that the Principle of Being has a truth value, that it is either true or false, but that we do not know whether it is true or false. In that case, what reason is there to believe it – to act as though it is true? Such a belief is rather counter to science and philosophy, especially analytic philosophy, or, at least, to received or putative views of science and philosophy. There the valuable received and tested paradigm is one of incremental though not infinitesimal steps of understanding and experiment which is rather analogous to the evolution of life

Here is a rationale for belief in something that we do not know to be true but that could be true – or something that is true but extremely unlikely. If the outcome is of great value then there may be good reasons to hold belief despite ignorance or to act on belief despite improbability. So, we would not waste time considering all manner of unlikely possibilities such may be shown in magic for entertainment

There would be a rational way to hold such a belief. It would not lead one to irrational acts, to defying clear and simple common sense. It would not lead one to disregard science and valued institutions. It would not ignore ignorance and improbability. Oftentimes it would be held as a possibility. This would be balanced by the thought that belief can affect outcome. I said above that I will show the truth of the Principle of Being. Thus, the kind of belief in question would be needed, not to address impossibility or ignorance but only to address improbability. This approach to belief is developed, below

It may be thought that I am saying that something may or should be believed, not because it is true, but because of the value of the belief or the value of the potential object of belief. Certainly, if a belief has a truth value but the value is thought to be unknown or unknowable, there may be value to holding it to be true – to thinking and behaving as though it is true. Further, there is the question of the meaning of the belief; although the belief may be taken quite literally its connotation may be something else. There may be a range of literal and other meanings. And, perhaps, believing may result in realization; this is clearly true, even on a literal meaning of realization, for social reality; the possibilities for physical – for the most basic level – reality are a part of the agenda for discussion in this essay especially the sections Analytic Philosophy | Nothingness | Mind / body | and Cosmology. These are real issues, often discounted by modern secular materialism. However, as I will show, there is a way to demonstrate the truth of a number of interwoven principles including the Principle of Being from logical first principles

I will show that the Principle of Being is meaningful and true and in what ways it may lead to ethical action. I will also consider probability – even if the Principle of Being is true, would not action based on such an unlikely outcome be wasteful? That is not true but, as I show below, it depends on the way in which the belief is held and on the way in which action is carried out. Full reflections on the role of probability are, currently, deferred. However, the following can be said. Talk of probability can be guided by common sense and by science. Science often appears to contradict common sense but only when the latter is unreflective. An unreflective common sense will usually find the Principle of Being to be untrue. But science, especially the quantum theory and physical cosmology, would appear find realization of ultimate being by an individual being to be, not untrue, but improbable

In order to question such probability considerations, consider the following. Based in the best theoretical considerations and empirical evidence, the universe is thought to be uniform with regard to direction [isotropic] and place [homogeneous.] Based on this it has been argued that if the universe is populated by life then human being and technology are unlikely to be the most advanced; and, therefore, given the age of the universe, if we are going to be visited by “aliens” that would have already occurred. However, the estimate is not unassailable. Consider the question of whether the universe is uniform; we are completely ignorant of the edge of the universe: it is entirely possible that the homogeneous solutions of the theory of gravitation are approximations with wildly non-uniform edge behavior

What are the transformations of being that may result from sources at the edge?

Return to the transformation of being in itself. From quantum mechanics we know that spontaneous transformation of being is possible but unlikely. The smallness of the probabilities staggers the imagination. However, such estimates are not unassailable. It is entirely possible that mind and being may be able to colossally magnify probabilities, that common creativity is – in, perhaps, a small way, just such a process; it is entirely possible that the boundaries of mind and being are not their putative boundaries; and, further, even though quantum theory penetrates nature closer to the heart of nature further than previous physics, there remains a gap between the quantum theory and the nothingness that generates all possibilities… In Co-origins of Being, Causation, Dynamics and Time, the quantum theory is seen to stand between the determinism of classical physics and nothingness; The Origin of a New Idea develops one way in something like quantum mechanics is necessary for mind

One of the developments of Metaphysics is a way to talk of absolutes, of the heart of being, in a way that circumvents any dependence on hard science where I use “hard,” not derogatorily, but positively, in the sense of being the best development, theoretically sound, penetrating further to the heart of nature than anything before, in agreement with experiment to the best available accuracy in all known conditions, in all applications, and the basis of numerous successful technologies…

There is Exactly One Universe

This is a definition but also more than a definition. See Cosmology

The Principle of Identity

All being, the universe is equivalent to nothingness

The principle of identity is derived from logic. The first discussion is in the Prologue and then in later sections and other core essays

Explanation of the significance of the principle of identity. See The Principle of Being

Elaboration and definition of the concept of nothingness and problems and resolutions of contradictions that are potentially inherent in the concept. See The Principle of Being | The Concepts, “Everything” and “Nothing” or “Nothingness” | Nothingness

The origin of the Principle of Identity

I held some version of this principle in my mind for many years – often in irrational form. Factors that contributed were: my desire to believe yet my need for rationality – for the mere desire to believe in itself would be no guarantee; my learning and my abilities; and patience or tenacity. The final insights that led to rational formulation of this principle came without expectation or warning. It is thus that I feel that I have been a discoverer rather than a creator

The Four Paths or Ways

The following illuminates the origin of the paths


The first path is Knowledge. Knowing is about the way the world is, shows what is possible and how that may occur. The core essay for this path is Metaphysics whose content has been placed in the section Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action starting at the section Metaphysics. Ways to prove or validate knowledge are important for, if validated, there is confidence in what is claimed to be possible. Ultimately, however, there is and cannot be a foundation to knowledge outside of the process. Therefore, knowledge is tied into action. This is similar to the idea that meaning is tied into use. The ultimate action or transformation must proceed in the shadows or in the dark. This is the way it was in the beginning

The study of knowledge shows what is possible and begins to address the questions of value, actualization [how] and realization [probability]: what transformations are worthwhile, how may they be realized and what approaches are there to catalyzing, to magnifying the probabilities of transformation. The study of: knowledge – its nature, processes and range, concepts, symbols and language, science; of metaphysics: its nature and possibility, the role of formal knowledge, being, mind / physiology, action, cosmology and ethics provide the first approach to these questions

The central approach to transformation, value and realization is in Experiments in the Transformation of Being from the core essay of the same name which considers, in interaction with knowledge / metaphysics, the theory and practice of transformation and draws from but goes beyond the classical foundations and modes. The Transformations of Being is a design for and narrative of action. Two further approaches, each of individual value as contributing to knowledge and understanding of being, to transformation, value and realization are The Variety of Being and Action and Influence

The Bibliographies record some details of my travels in the dimension of knowledge


The second path is the Transformation of Being itself. The process of knowing is a transformation of being but, as intrinsically transformational, it is limited. What are the limits of transformation? The Dynamics of Being, developed in the core essay Experiments in the Transformation of Being whose content has been absorbed into the present document in the section of the same name, is a way of understanding and entering transformational possibilities and questions all actual limits and the nature of limits as absolute

Experiments with the Variety of Being

The Variety of Being is the third way. The focus is experiment with other forms or modes of being. Three objectives are [1] construction, and transformation of being, and this includes the transformations of technology [2] understanding of being that may result from additional modes or data points – see The Variety of Being, and [3] application. The Variety of Being includes a focus on machine intelligence and being starting at Machine or Computational Intelligence. The current core essay for this path The Variety of Being has the same name and content as the section in this essay which includes the material on machine intelligence that is also the content of a secondary essay, Computers Beings Minds


The fourth way is Action and Influence in which the emphasis is on action in society. Some objectives are [1] sharing for its own sake and as enhancing the endeavor, [2] as an example of a mode of being – the objectives of the previous paragraph are relevant here, [3] a definite group endeavor – Horizons, dedicated to the Journey in Being and provision of services, and [4] transformation and influence in the human world. The core essay is Action, Influence, Charisma and Change whose content is identical to that of the section Action and Influence

The Stumbling

In the system that follows, those ideas that are original build upon the ideas of others. Sometimes, as in the developments in cosmology, my ideas have been suggested by existing theories even when the dependence on those theories is not logical or formal

Especially when the ideas are original, and even though I have devoted much study and thought and sought much inspiration, I sometimes feel that I have accidentally stumbled upon the ideas rather than developed them or found them as a result of a careful or systematic search. As an example, I have been thinking about the role of concepts of nothingness for a number of years. However, the final insight on how to view the relationship between nothingness and the world occurred without intimation one morning when I stopped for coffee at a bakery at the foot of the Trinity Mountains, Trinity County, Northern California

Here, I want to say something about the nature of the processes of my discoveries and perhaps about all discovery. Dependence on the ideas of others is simply a fact. When my ideas have external influence, the dependence is often unconscious since I am immersed in a culture of ideas. The feeling of stumbling is this: [1] where I sought concepts, insight and understanding, I did not expect the actual ideas or their final form and, [2] their certainty, magnitude, depth, breadth of application and even beauty often significantly exceeded my hopes and expectations. Thus, the form of the foundation in nothingness – the elucidation of nothingness, the certainty of the conclusions, and the release from infinite regress and substance ontology were – despite earlier hopes and glimmers of the result – surprising and, of course, exhilarating as a result of the breadth and crystal clarity. However, even if my discoveries are accidental or serendipitous in any objective way, that being should make the essence of the discoveries is necessary

The Journey Continues…

I wrote the following after understanding the nature of the void and the absolute. What is pertinent is the understanding of incompletion, imperfection

The next phase is a return to the focus on the experiments described in the second section of the main essay. I turn away from knowledge to action and transformation

As far as knowledge and ideas are concerned, I must again turn away from what clarity of vision I have experienced and toward intuition and diffuse light to sense and seek what further truth there may be



1.1         What is Metaphysics?

In specifying what is meant, here, by metaphysics, the received concepts and practices are acknowledged. The meaning should have continuities with the received meaning but not be governed by it

“Metaphysics” originally referred to the books that came after the books on nature [ta physica] in the arrangement given by the editors of Aristotle’s works. The name later came to refer to what is beyond [meta] physical or sensible nature. Aristotle defined the tasks of metaphysics in three ways: the science of first principles and causes, the science of being as being, and theology. Metaphysics is concerned with ultimates; and therefore with ultimates in knowledge. Though the cultural setting is human, it is valid to ask “What are the ultimates in knowledge for any being and for all being?” It is clear that the intention was that metaphysics would be the most basic or fundamental and most general of disciplines but it is not precisely clear how this study should be carried out or what topics and objects would fall within its province

In virtue of the considerations on knowledge above, should metaphysics be a discipline or action in interaction with a discipline [study]; there is realm of action that is metaphysics and knowledge in interaction with action that may be abbreviated metaphysics-action and labeled metaphysics. Then “metaphysics” has two connotations, metaphysics-action and the discipline and study. Both connotations are used here; the more inclusive connotation is taken up specifically in Metaphysics / Action

It stands to reason, in the fundamental nature of the study, that “What is metaphysics?” is a valid question that is worthy of study – see, also, Concepts and the subsequent sections. Further, should the province of metaphysics be specified by enumeration e.g. traditionally, or conceptually and by reason. We will find, below, that the latter is necessary and comes after and as part of doing some preliminary metaphysics. Thus, the nature of metaphysics is not independent of the study

One of the received disciplines of metaphysics is ontology – the study of being as being, the study of the conditions of existence: of what is common to all beings or the characteristics of all beings as a result of their existence; see Being. The specialized sciences such as the sciences of matter [physics…] and of life [biology…] are not concerned with all aspects of being; ontology is concerned with being itself

Originally, metaphysics [ontology] considered all actual beings as its objects; this was subsequently expanded to all possible beings [beings whose concept entailed no contradiction] and later to impossible beings

Reflections on Cosmology suggest that there is no distinction between the possible and the actual

The study of impossible objects, even though such objects do not exist, may [1] shed light on the nature of the possible, [2] make the study of ontology simpler, [3] have implications for logic, and [4] make way for understanding of beings not yet conceived by a reorganization of the underlying constituents / logic in which what was impossible becomes possible

A primary division in metaphysics as practiced c. 2000 is general ontology or the theory of objects; and metaphysics as practiced is ontology and a variety of Classical and Modern Problems of Metaphysics

A second traditional division within metaphysics has been Cosmology – the study of what kind of things there are. Cosmology includes the study of first principles and causes. The absence of ultimate distinction between what is possible and what is, demonstrated in Cosmology, opposes a logical division between ontology and cosmology even if the topics are somewhat different

As noted in Two Roles for Knowledge and subsequent sections, understanding of the scope and limits of knowledge is essential to the study of metaphysical possibility and so, from the previous paragraphs, of metaphysical actuality. In this essay I have taken up, among other issues, questions of the nature and possibility of knowledge. Additionally, one of the roles for knowledge is as a metaphysical object itself. Language and logic are important as instruments of knowledge. Logic and LOGOS as the science of the possible are particularly important to the actual world, its form and origin through their connection to the possible

Additionally we will see, in Ethics, Being, Knowledge that ethics is essentially connected to metaphysics / knowledge; more generally, axiology, the theory of value whether in action or art or other activity, has essential connection to metaphysics

It is clear from the foregoing that instruments of ontology and of cosmology include the study of meaning, logics, modality and modal logics; the rational and conceptual aspects of the sciences, especially mechanics, the quantum theory, relativity, biology and evolution, anthropology, and psychology [as the study of mind and not merely of behavior] as studied, especially, in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of nature

Metaphysics: an endeavor whose goal is to enumerate whether by description or from first principles, describe and understand all being in the world; the study the real nature of things which entails the study of all reality by all means and at all levels of depth; in view of arguments made below, metaphysics might be viewed as the science, art and practice of being

In reviewing this discussion I note [1] the reflections say more about metaphysics than a set of traditional enumerations of the topics of metaphysics, [2] we might think of metaphysics as “reality as studied according to first principles” and allow whatever special or general topic that comes into logical play, [3] the considerations of Cosmology provide a tighter picture of reality than might be anticipated at the outset, and [4] although, in relation to the Journey in Being, I prefer the title Knowledge and Action for the present division, it might have been called Metaphysics [note: the title has been changed to Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action]

The answer to questions such as “what is metaphysics?” is always an unfolding – see Concepts. It is essentially unfolding because the nature of metaphysics itself changes character; it is necessarily unfolding as understanding of its character goes through changes that include both advance and change in the “spirit of the time.” There is also an unfolding as the various elements in the total field of understanding trade components and shift in their roles. Further, in the section on Metaphysics and Action the concept of metaphysics is generalized – even to the point where it may be said that metaphysics is beyond concepts. In the foregoing, result of metaphysical study is knowledge or knowing. In this further meaning of metaphysics implied by an ultimate way of acting and being; this meaning includes the former – at least as an approximation that is good for a restricted human context – and it is originally motivated by the idea that knowledge and action are not ultimately separable

1.1.1        The Possibility of Metaphysics

The radical skepticism of Hume applied equally across all knowledge as it did to ontology

Kant’s resolution was to limit the scope of metaphysics to what is knowable or what can be experienced. However, some of Hume’s arguments apply to Kant’s resolution. The problem with any inductive generalization is that it is always one of many possible generalizations. We do not know that what is now the knowable world will continue to conform to the forms of intuition. Much of modern science does not conform to the perceptual forms even though it does to the formal ones. Of course, Hume’s argument could be applied to being itself; being is not the rock of definiteness that it appears to be. Hume’s criticism assumes an ideal of knowledge that is not possible; but that ideal is neither desirable nor necessary and, if the mind / brain were built to conform to that ideal and if it were in a universe in which that was possible there would be no knowledge at all except knowledge that was built in to the organism: discovery would be impossible. The ideal of knowledge is not only unattainable, not only not worth attaining, it is not ideal at all – as an ideal it is a deception

A more traditional response to Hume is as follows. It is a skeptic’s response to the skeptic Hume. The argument is associated with Karl Popper but similar arguments have been given by others. The argument occurs as a natural consequence to anyone who thinks carefully about the so-called hypothetico-deductive method. The argument proceeds as follows. True, laws and theories are generalizations. However, at any time an accepted and useful scientific theory explains a wide array of phenomena and is not contradicted by any known experiment. When a scientific theory is contradicted by an experiment, there is, in one standard version, a search for a new theory. However, the situation can be viewed as follows. Many theories stand in for not just many observations but many kinds of phenomena. Therefore, the single contradiction must be rechecked, analyzed to see if the contradiction is indeed a contradiction, other contradictory experiments of a variety of kinds may occur or be sought. The greater the bulk of contradictory evidence the greater is the pressure to seek alternative theories; at the same time the new data are also useful in formulation of new theories. Of course, the formulation of new theories is often a largely conceptual process and based in modifications of older concepts. Meanwhile, in the gap between the old and new theories, or in the absence of a new theory the old continues to be useful. Older theories continue to be useful in their domains of validity because they are conceptually and computationally simpler and because they help understand and implement newer theories. However, it remains true that the current theories of an era appear to be, rather than full and positive knowledge, nothing more than the best of a series of theories. This is somewhat dismal to anyone who would like to hold a positivist view of knowledge. However, as noted in the previous paragraph: why would we want science to be more definite than being itself? Thus the tentativeness of science can be seen as positive. It does not mean that there is no end to tentativeness. In the present essay there are a number of positive though general conclusions from a basis of being in nothingness. Focusing on the here and now, is there anything to be said about the theories of an era beyond being the no more than the best available? Yes, for there is a degree of uncertainty and perhaps confusion associated with the search for new concepts and new theories; and when the concepts and theories come together as a unified system there is an order and a clarity that replaces the uncertainty. A form of nature has been discovered; and this is often experienced as beautiful. True, the discovered form of nature may not be universal but it significantly expands the domain of what is understood; there are new predictions, verifications of predictions and, in some cases, prolific application. The quantum theory is such a theory. However, the quantum theory has been associated with paradox and incompleteness from its beginnings. A major incompleteness is the allegedly essential role of the observer and the fact that the process of observation is not subsumed under the formalism of the theory. Recently, however, there have been excellent developments that argue to unify the evolution of systems and the process of observation, eliminate the observer dependence of the theory and provide a foundation for nature and knowledge. I have long found the quantum theory suggestive in understanding the nature of existence – the origin of the known universe from nothing is not a violation of quantum theory; it is a violation of classical physics in the sense that creation / destruction is not a classical phenomenon. However, conservation of energy is not necessarily violated when mass and gravitational energy are balanced. In the present essay, I have shown that, in general terms, based in an analysis of the concept of nothingness, that the origin of the entire, one universe as well as an outline of modern physics [the quantum theory and Einstein’s theories of matter, process and gravitation] may be understood

In other words, nothingness can be seen as a universal ground. The approach from nothingness will show that being and knowledge are not definite objects. However, indeterminateness or indeterminism in a universal context at a microscopic level may [and does] result in determinateness, form, structure in another context or at a macroscopic level. The criticism of Hume is turned around in more than one way. First, the criticism itself is based on certain assumptions. As Europe awoke from its era of dogma, to visions that were fresh and progressive it may have been natural to think that there could be no end to that process; and the view of the process was modeled on a concept of being as an infinite realm of ultimately unfounded facts that were occasionally found to be in grand patterns understood as theories. The view from nothingness turns this attitude around; in our phase-epoch of being there may in fact be an end to understanding [in a general way; of variety though not of every detail of the variety.] However, that is not an end to the possibilities of being and its creation and construction. A partial response to this way of thinking is that the assumption of essential ignorance is the safest or most secure; this careful assuming of ignorance will not lead being into error. The critical attitude is one half of the story of science and, in consequence, rather though not universally pervasive; further, the cultivation of the attitude is fostered by the fact that criticism is always easier than construction [creation,] that criticism simulates profundity. In fact, it is not known that the critical / security based “paradigm” is the way to ultimates in knowledge or being. The arguments from nothingness, in fact, show the need for action without foundation. A second, positive way in which Hume’s attitude is turned around is that what was viewed as essential and endless ignorance is, in fact, essential opportunity for endless creation and construction

Metaphysics was hailed as meaningless and impossible in Logical Positivism; however, the program of scientific positivism failed by its own standards

Much of physics is metaphysics. This is true of classical physics and not just of the quantum and relativity theories. In the short term, physics may be independent of metaphysics. In the long term there is no absolute separation

Formalism, and perhaps the education / evolution of the intuition make metaphysics possible; except according to a false ideal of knowledge

The metaphysics of these essays, of Journey in Being, are testament to the possibility – the actuality – of metaphysics

1.2         Importance of Metaphysics for the Journey in Being

1.2.1        As a Foundational aspect of the Experiments in the Transformation of Being

As understood here, metaphysics encompasses all knowledge of being and possibility

Specifically, so far as knowledge can found all transformation of being, metaphysics is foundational for Experiments in the Transformation of Being

1.2.2        Every Organism has an Intrinsic Metaphysics

Every organism has an intrinsic metaphysics – a representation or a being in its own world, its own environment; every context and society, every science assumes some metaphysics which may be unspoken and loosely definite; thus, ask not “whether or why” – as though there is a choice – but “how?” and “what?” It may be that the metaphysics of an individual human being should be left unspoken – perhaps this is true for some individuals and there may be others who choose to leave their metaphysics unspoken but it is also true that there are others whose lives are bettered and changed by making explicit and explicitly re-working their metaphysics… and there are phases in the development of a science – especially the main sciences, the natural sciences, the study of society and of man – when it is important to review and, perhaps, to rework the metaphysical ground of that discipline

1.2.3        Metaphysics and Science

The 20th century was a time when philosophy turned inward and it was thought that general metaphysics – i.e. pure metaphysics, not the metaphysics that results from consideration of the general features and assumptions of a science – had nothing original to contribute to science. At the beginning of the 21st century, we still live in that shadow. There is however a renewed interest in metaphysics. I believe, and demonstrate that general metaphysics is alive and may contribute to science and the other specialized disciplines

1.2.4        Using the Tradition

Using the tradition is essential because of [a] its suggestive power, [b] to use and build upon established ideas and ways – constructive and critical

1.3         Being

1.3.1        Existence [12]

1.3.2           [Materialism]

The purpose of this section is to show that “existence” cannot be fully elucidated without a complete metaphysics or world view. A complete metaphysics is one that covers “all the fundamental aspects of reality and nothing but reality.” Consider, for example, a material object in relation to a materialist metaphysics and ask, “Does this material object exist?” The response is, “Yes,” for the existence of matter is constitutive of materialism. In the same framework, ideas exist if ideas are reducible to matter; and numbers exist if they are reducible to matter either directly or indirectly as ideas. As a result, it is possible for a materialist to doubt the existence of ideas and numbers. We may disagree or find it myopic but, except for self-doubt, the strict materialist experiences clarity of vision. For a dualist, matter, ideas and numbers can have existence; however, for a strict dualist, there is no comparing the different modes of existence. In the absence of any metaphysics whatsoever, the existence status of all categories is unclear; however the “anti-metaphysician” can say that matter exists-as-matter, ideas exist-as-ideas, numbers exist-as-number…

“Existence” is important: [1] as clarifying the nature of the presence of beings in the world, [2] in clarifying what exists, i.e. given a concept such as mind, matter, God, is there some actual being to which that concept refers? And [3] as a necessary part of metaphysics

We understand “God exists” differently than “Mt. Everest exists.” We would normally ask “Does Mt. Everest exist?” only when being philosophical but “Does God exist?” could be either philosophical or, simply, factual. “God” is a concept, Mt. Everest is an object or, more accurately, “Mt. Everest” is a concept for which the existence of a corresponding object is not controversial in a factual sense. The question “Does God exist?” means, “Is there an actual being to which the concept of God refers?”

In light of what has just been said, the meaning of a question “Does X exist?” is that there is a concept X, and the question asks whether there is an object that corresponds to the concept. When X is relatively concrete we ask “Does X exist?” only when being philosophical i.e. the question is “Does X really exist?” That question breaks down into two parts – the first a factual part [immediately upon the discovery of Mt. Everest by Europeans, it may have made sense for a European to ask whether the discovery was some kind of mistake or illusion.] The second part is “Does Mt. Everest really exist?” which, given the fact, is really asking whether anything – or anything material – really exists. As we will see below, this question is relatively empty. If X is strongly conceptual e.g. if X is time or nothingness, then the meaning of question of the existence of X depends on whether it is speculative or established. In the case of a speculative concept such as nothingness the question is whether there is anything that corresponds to the concept [in the present essay, nothingness is raised from the realm of the speculative to that of the established.] In the case of an established concept such as time the question is whether there is something that corresponds precisely to the concept of time [of which the intuition or perception of time is a special case.] Thus, if we insist that time is universal we may conclude that time does not exist. On the other hand if we allow time a less grandiose role or if we allow some vagueness in the concept or degree of approximation in the correspondence between concept and object, then we will conclude that time does exist. As is seen in Definiteness of Concepts | Indefiniteness of Concepts and related discussions, most concepts – especially high level concepts – have or should be allowed a degree of slack in precision and this is a virtue rather than a deficiency

I want to first clear up some confusions that I have come across in writings analyzing existence. An apparent paradox arises from the idea that “everything exists.” The paradox is that fictional objects do not exist yet “existence is true of everything” implies that fictional objects do exist. Subtlety can then be applied in an attempt to resolve the apparent paradox. One approach is to treat “exists” as a predicate of concepts rather than of objects; another approach is to allow “non-existent” objects. Such sophistications are interesting and have useful applications; but, let us not introduce sophistication where it is not necessary

Instead, focus on the word “everything.” I noted in The importance of language, the potential for difficulties with the use of quantifiers “exists,” “all,” “nothing,” “everything…” Note, especially, that “everything” and “every thing” are not at all the same. Every thing has the meaning every actual or existing thing. Without qualification, everything, includes things that exist and things that do not exist and therefore it is not true that, using the term unreflectively, everything exists

However, “every thing exists” does not tell us anything for it says, essentially, that “every thing that exists does exist;” or, “every thing exists” is, as a consequence of the nature of thing-hood, tautological; a purpose to considering existence, as pointed out above, is to evaluate what it is to count as a thing… The purpose to considering “everything exists” was to reflect on existence as a predicate as true of everything. We just showed that that is paradoxical; further, this idea would reduce existence to insignificance for the significance of the concept of existence is that since we can have ideas that do not refer to any actual thing we want to mark those ideas that do refer to some actual thing or class of things

In the paradoxical but simple and common language, some things exist and some things do not

Often, etymology is not helpful. The Latin existere is: to emerge. In Greece and Rome the uses of words may have been closer to their origins. In English the meanings of words, so many of them imported, have often become unmoored from their origins. Here, I bypass the classical and phenomenological uses of the concept of existence and note that in English, “exist” has a use that is similar to “is” in “Mt. Everest is there” but not in “Mt. Everest is a mountain.” However, the use of “exist” is not identical to the use of “is” in “Mt. Everest is there.” The distinction is that “is” focuses on the fact while “exist” focuses on the very “is-ness,” i.e. to exist is to be: existence is related to being. In other words, “Mt. Everest exists” is closer to “Mt. Everest is” than it is to “Mt. Everest is there.” Although somewhat circular, this is also illuminating; some of the unnecessary mystery is taken out of existence and the scene is set for further reflection and analysis

Here is another confusion. There are materialists who hold that mind does not exist because the concept of mind does not refer to anything that can be reduced to or has the form of matter, i.e. mind is not real. Here is what appears to be the content of a typical materialist argument including unstated aspects. Vast domains of science point to the reality of matter; it is then assumed but not proven that matter is the only real. It is often thought that a proof has been given but the assumption is based in the success of the science of matter and the professional rule against talking of things that are held to be non-scientific. Mind and mental phenomena have not yielded to description in the usual materialist terms; and, therefore, talk of mind is a mistake

What response can be given? Is mind reducible to matter or is it a form of matter? It is first necessary to specify what is meant by matter. If “matter” is what is tangible, then surely some future and transformed understanding of matter may show that mind is matter. However, that future specification may not be recognizable as matter from given perspectives. Is mind reducible to matter as currently described by modern physics? The answer is not known but may well be “no.” There is, however, no absolute reason to doubt that some physics could be complete. Explanations in terms of matter could be given, at least in principle; these would not be reductions or eliminations; rather, the physical and mental modes of description would be seen as complementary[13]

Absolute metaphysical dualism, the co-existence of non-interacting substances is incoherent. All dualisms are dualisms of understanding; therefore, relative to finite beings, there may appear to be or effectively be dualisms. A variety of arguments in this essay show that apparent and effective dualisms of understanding are, relative to human understanding, unnecessary

A tacit attitude underlying materialism, even when an explicit specification is given, is that matter is matter-as-I-experience-it. As a result, materialism is, in its treatment, often an indeterminate idea even in the presence of apparent precision. If the tacit attitude is combined with a dislike of the unseen, there often results the incoherent and also tacit attitude that the universe is reducible to what the individual has experienced

Some materialists are driven, by an unnecessary and unjustified reduction of the entire universe to science to doubt what they do not doubt in their everyday activities – that they have minds, that they are conscious

Does the one universe – see Cosmology – exist? We see, below that the universe does not exist in time so we would not say “the universe is” even though we might say that, with caution due to the nature of time revealed in the theories of relativity, our [local or present] phase-epoch of the universe exists in time

I have an idea of a unicorn. Does the idea exist? Yes, the idea of the unicorn exists even though “unicorns do not exist.” Not all ideas are intended to refer to something; and, of those that are intended to refer to something, only some do so actually refer. However, all actual ideas exist regardless of the intention to refer or, in the case of an intention to refer, whether there is a referent. Simply, ideas exist. But, do ideas exist as material objects – as matter? That depends, as we have seen, on what is specified by the word “matter.” However, it can be said that:

An idea exists-as an idea; matter exists-as, roughly speaking, something tangible; the universe exists – not in the time but in the sense of being without tense

From the point of view of use, everything that has qualified existence may be said, roughly, to exist. However, from the point of view of metaphysics, the qualification of existence cannot be avoided unless the metaphysics is complete. There is a sense in which analysis of thought, ideas, language through use provides a metaphysics. In the extended view of use-analysis described in Symbol and Language, this would not be restricted to a merely local metaphysics but when such analysis proceeds piecewise and iteratively, concept by concept, the analysis of existence would be in-process or case by case and qualified

1.3.3        Existence and Concepts

Does a tree exist? Above, I answered this kind of question in the affirmative because I considered things such as mountains and trees to be objects. I want to now analyze this a little more

I have an idea of a tree, perhaps a theory or theories regarding trees – how they thrive and grow, how trees evolved. I have no doubt that my idea or concept refers quite well, at least for many purposes, to “something out there.” But how do I know that the idea refers exactly? I cannot know that except on account of some other idea or theory. I conclude [1] except by coincidence, my idea of the tree never corresponds precisely to what is out there. On the usual idea of the world being an infinite manifold, the probability of precise correspondence is zero. [2] Since every attempt to evaluate the idea, at any level, is another idea, it follows that the idea of the tree-in-itself has no meaning. This is not because there is “nothing out there” but because “tree-hood” is not something that is in itself. To negotiate the world, however, it is not necessary to have a precise concept of a tree. Theoretically, the idea of tree-in-itself does not specify anything that is truly in-itself and is therefore, not a concept that refers to anything

This, of course, is not against realism and does not say or imply that there is nothing “out there,” i.e., it does not imply that the world depends on our minds for its existence; it does imply that the forms of the world as seen are dependent on the interplay between what is seen [world] and what sees [individuals through the function of mind.] Does this, however, mean that there is no thing-in-itself? No, for there is a difference between “thing-in-itself” and “tree-in-itself.” Here, I am thinking that a “thing” is a true object while “tree” is a concept. I allow myself to think of “thing” as an object because I am not being specific as I am in the way that I am when I think or say “tree.” Thus, it seems, that there may be that there are things that are absolutely in-themselves

Can the thing-in-itself be known as such? For anything that is known as a form of intuition what is known is the concept instantiated in the mind and therefore there is no thing-in-itself. Note that this assumes a representational [see Nature of Being for presentationism] theory of knowledge. In formal terms, however, the object-in-itself is treated as an abstract object and we would not say that the object is known; however, there appears to be no a priori reason that the predictions of theories based in formal concepts should have any inherent limits to precision and accuracy. Further, there is no a priori limitation to having a formal theory of a world which has cognitive beings that have both intuitive and formal knowledge of the world

When the being of every entity in the universe depends, for its form and being on the universe as a whole, then the entities would not be in-themselves. In that case, except for objects taking a temporary holiday from the world, the only absolute object, the only thing-in-itself would be the one universe

This is a good place to develop the concept of:

1.3.4        Nothingness

In the first place note the potential contradictions in the idea of “nothingness.” If nothingness is the absence of everything then is it also the absence of absence?

We saw in Existence that contradiction may arise in the use of “everything.” [Also see the related discussion in The Concepts, “Everything” and “Nothing” or “Nothingness.”] Therefore, definition of nothingness as absence of everything will lead to contradiction. That would not be true if we were to use “everything” carefully. However, instead, I take an alternate approach to “nothingness”

Before beginning the positive account, consider the idea that “nothingness is not merely absences in the world but is an absence of the world.” In Cosmology, it is concluded that there is exactly one universe and that this includes the phase of nothingness. Thus, “absence of the world” is also somewhat contradictory. Nothingness is not other than the world, see There is Exactly One Universe

In the phase of nothingness, there “are” [the tensed verb is somewhat problematic, as noted elsewhere in this essay, because reference is being made to a situation that is not in time] no things. However, what constitutes “thing.” A pattern, a law of nature, causation, deterministic behavior require things. Therefore, in the absence of things there is also absence of patterns, laws, causation, and determinism. In some sense, patterns, laws, causation, determinism are things but this thought is not used here. However, indeterminism would not be a thing. Or, in another way of looking at indeterminism it is a kind of absence and therefore absence of indeterminism is absence of absence and, therefore, incompatible with nothingness. A positive way of looking at this point is that indeterminism does not require things: nothing to something is indeterministic. Therefore, nothingness does not mean absence of indeterminism. Alternatively, absence of indeterminism would imply presence of determinism and in that case nothingness, the absence of things, would be eternal; but that would be causal, would have the character of a law of nature and would, therefore, not be true nothingness

Simply, law, cause, determinism are instances of “something,” and therefore absent from nothingness. Indeterminism is not something

It is, therefore, inherent in the concept of nothingness that “it will” become something

If there is any possible thing that nothingness cannot become that circumstance, too, would be something, would be a law. Therefore, nothing will become every possible thing

Note, again that the one universe and that includes the “phase” of nothingness are not in time [at least in any simple sense.] Therefore, saying that “nothing will become something” and so on is improper use of the tensed language. Therefore, I say simply, “Nothingness is equivalent to all – possible – being.” This is The Principle of Being – again

We will see, in Cosmology, how use of the continuation of these considerations will lead to a pre-quantum and pre-relativistic framework. Naturally, as far as the quantum and relativistic theories apply to the local phase-epoch of the universe and not to the entire universe, the frameworks will be prefixed by “pre.” Consideration will also be given to ways or circumstances in which the “pre” frameworks, of which the quantum and relativity theories are instances, may be more specific. There will also be discussion of how the considerations may unify relativity and quantum theory; understanding of the nature of phenomena such as the existence and constancy of the speed of interactions [light speed] may occur in a phase-epoch of the universe

The present development does not rely on the concept of the given. However, as an ultimate ground for being, nothingness may assume the role of the given in a philosophy of the real and the given

1.3.5        Possibility

Because the concept is useful to the discussion, brief reference to possibility and related modal concepts will be useful; a more complete treatment is deferred to future developments. Consider, “It is possible that the sun will shine here at 10 AM tomorrow.” The speaker might be thinking that, for example, “It has been cloudy for a few days but there is no reason to rule out sunshine tomorrow at 10 AM.” However, perhaps unknown to the speaker, astronomers have predicted a total eclipse of the sun here tomorrow at 10 AM… but, perhaps the laws of physics upon which the prediction of the eclipse is based will take a vacation… Possibility is contingent upon what is known or assumed and this can be made definite by proscribing what is and is not allowed, that is, by specifying a world or a “universe of discourse”

Consider X = “The sun will shine…” and Y = “2 + 2 = 4.” X is possibly or contingently true while Y is necessarily true; alternately, X is true in some world and Y is true in all possible worlds. Possibly true, contingently true and necessarily true can be abbreviated to possible, contingent, and necessary. An impossible proposition is one whose negation is necessary; it is false in all possible worlds

In the w-universe defined as the sum or collection of all possible worlds, not only Y but X, too, is necessary – in the way, “All things shall come to pass.” I.e., in the w-universe, so understood, possibility becomes necessity and so there is only necessity and impossibility

In the one universe, what is possible is necessary. Relative to nothingness, as we have seen, nothing is impossible except contradictory states; see Cosmology

What is truly impossible? Is a logical contradiction such as “2 + 2 = 5” true in an empty w-universe, the w-universe that is the union of no worlds? It is true in the sense that it applies to all situations that come under its scope in that w-universe because there are no situations in it

Consider the apparently impossible proposition “The sun will and will not shine here tomorrow at 10AM.” However, consider a mist that is dense enough that there is no sunshine. The mist moves in at 9:50 AM; it then begins to clear somewhat starting at 9:58 AM; at 10 AM a hint of a glimmer is seen and immediately the mist thickens. At 10 AM, some people judge that the sun is shining, some that it is not and some are not sure. One person wrote on a piece of paper “The sun shone,” crossed it out and then wrote, “The sun did not shine at 10 AM.” Another person was ambivalent and found herself in a state of mixed belief as described in Knowledge, Belief and Truth. It is realized that “the sun is shining” is not an objective fact but is the statement of a perception. However, every judgment about the world is tinged with the ideal, including reviewed or considered judgments which involve judgment about judgment. There is no a priori getting out of the ambivalence. Therefore, the idea of an objective world is also tinged with the ideal even if it is real. What then, is the value of a definite realistic universe of discourse that does not correspond to anything that can be experienced? The response is perhaps, even though it is not directly experienced, the world is always in a definite state and this affects and constrains experience. Is this known? Yes, but at each level of “knowing” it is relative to some canvas and we are left with doubt as to whether anything is absolutely necessary or absolutely impossible

1.3.6        Nature of Being

What is the nature of things – entities – that exist? In our phase-epoch of the universe, things exist in time. From atoms to individuals there is “birth, life, and death.” This is not true in all phase-epochs of the universe where / when the question of time is more complex. The universe itself does not exist in time. What is the nature of the approximate boundaries of beings and of their relations in the universe?

The nature of a being is the totality of its possibilities; see The Principle of Being

Approaches to the question of the nature of being:


An approach from intuition – see Intuition and Formal Knowledge; presence to the world – the nature of an entity as defined by its system of relations – before talk of mind, matter, time

Construction of ontology from the present, from being-in-the world; what is the same / different for all things

Meaning as integral with being; action springs from meaning

Temporality of being; life as historical and as goal oriented

Presentational theory of understanding and knowledge [mind is in perception, at least, directly aware of its object; in some forms the kinds of knowing may include memory or other types of cognition]

Embedding of human being in civilization, animal being, all being


Nothingness as the ground to being; universal metaphysics or Cosmology

Individuals as elements of this universe

Approximate nature of boundaries – conceptual, spatial and temporal diffusion; death; groups as being [in a phase of becoming]


Interpretation: the universal metaphysics provides an understanding of the approach from intuition or embedding

Experiments in the Transformation of Being, The Variety of Being, and Action and Influence

1.3.7        Characterizing Being

It is possible to give a brief explicit characterization of being. The characterization given here depends on various developments in the present document and in Journey in Being

That the being of an entity is “what it truly is” is an implicit characterization. The value of an implicit characterization is its generality and openness; however, an explicit characterization is also valuable even if we do not know that it will apply to all being

In the main essay, I take up the idea of concepts and discuss the notion of a slack concept. A slack concept is one that is not completely definite – its properties are not specified with complete precision – and for which, given an object, it is not always possible to tell whether the object falls under the concept. However, that a concept is slack does not necessarily imply ignorance in the case that the object of application itself is not [and need not be] definite. Thus the recognition of slackness is, in some cases, the recognition of a virtue. An example: if an autonomic nervous process is intermediate between two clearly mental states or processes, is the autonomic process itself mental? The answer is that it is not necessary to label the autonomic process as mental or not mental for nothing is gained either way… The relevance here is that the following brief characterization may turn out to be parochial rather than universal

Journey: The coming into realization is a [cumulative] journey. Of course, not every event or phase adds to the cumulation; and some that are thought to add are later dropped

Mind: Being is characterized by mind which is the instrument of being and becoming. Mind has been said to be too high level a concept to be characteristic of being. The basic facts of mind as far as “higher” being is concerned are experience and presence. Bound and free aspects of mind, discussed in the main essay, are essential in the process of becoming. For entities that are sufficiently “low,” the free aspects are not internalized. There is a “high level” mind that animal being recognizes as such but, as discussed in Journey in Being, mind also occurs at lowest of levels. It is necessary to refer the reader to the relevant parts of Journey in Being to understand precisely what is being said and its foundation and explanation

Action: Action is conceived as an aspect of mind

The Principle of Being: As developed in this prologue and elaborated in the main essay, all being is open to every being or all states of being are equivalent to every state of being [it is necessary to allow states outside any given phase-epoch of the universe for this to be a logical principle]

Dynamics of Being: The use of mind, experiment and action in recognizing and overcoming limits – explained more thoroughly below and in the main division of the essay on Experiments in the Transformation of Being. The rational base of the dynamics is the principle of being; a practical basis in the laws of a phase-epoch of the universe is discussed below

The Principle of Meaning: There are two great sources of meaning: first, experience and enjoyment of and action in the immediate world – the life and relationships of the individual and, second, in the process of arching from individual being to universal Being. It seems to me that this is trivially obvious

Cosmology: Cosmology is not limited to physical cosmology. Cosmology is the study of entire existence, the one universe as a whole. The italicized phrase would be a better title for this point but I use cosmology because it is the title of a section in Journey in Being. Cosmology includes the following: the equivalence of the one universe and nothingness and the principle of identity; the necessity and sufficiency of indeterminism to explain the origin of the actual universe and its structure from nothing; and physics and physical cosmology. Matter has been held to be a high level concept but the concept of matter is understood, here, in a more basic way than the physical stuff of the present phase-epoch of the universe and not as something distinct from mind – rather mind and matter are different modes of description

Ethics: Being is ethical in nature. This does not mean that every individual “does the right thing” at all times. Ethics is possible only when there is choice and the existence of choice implies that the right thing will not always be done and hence a need for ethics. Ethics, like mind and matter, occurs at various levels. And there is an ethics of the human context and an ethics of being-in-the-one-universe which do not necessarily mesh smoothly; there is no need or sense to a perfectly smooth mesh

1.3.8        Being, Process, Cause, Time and Dynamics

See Co-origins of Being, Causation, Dynamics and Time

1.4         The Principle of Being

Also see

The Principle of Being, and

The Principle of Meaning

The Principle of Being follows from considerations of the foregoing type. The question arises of the equivalence of being –and therefore the being of the universe– and of nothingness. How can it be shown that being is equivalent to nothingness? The original argument from science, from quantum theory, requires subtle considerations and is limited by known and unknown limits to the quantum theory – assessing the limits of the fundamental science of an era is always insecure since there is no successor or containing science. Therefore, turn the question around: to what is nothingness equivalent? First, in that most primitive state, the adjectival form, nothingness, is equivalent to the noun: nothing. However, nothing is not simply no-thing, the absence of things. Nothing or nothingness also require the absence of condition: the absence of determinism [indeterminism is not a condition for it allows deterministic process], of causation, of law. Nothingness is beyond the pale of causation and determinism. In reference to quantum physics, nothingness comes before the vacuum. It is not in anyway being said that there is no science, no concepts of time, space – or space-time, of causality… but that these are always contextual

Therefore, at once, and without the need for intervening logic, nothing is equivalent to all possible things and states of affairs. That is The Principle of Being, All Being is open to every being!

It is in the nature of nothingness to have no restriction in its range of possibility; therefore, nothingness is equivalent to the universe. The epistemic and the metaphysical coalesce as one in an absolute ontology – an ontology founded in nothingness. This absolute ontology contains, through the concept of nothingness, the foundations of all true local ontologies and the variety of being – of all things

1.5         Ultimate Being

The Principle of Being shows that consideration of ultimate being is not merely an intellectual exercise

1.5.1        What is Ultimate Being?

What being is possible relative to nothingness?

What being is possible relative to an actual being? …human being?

Also see LOGOS, the concept of the possible

1.5.2        The Possibilities of Actual Beings

…of human individuals

Is there a distinction between these two “possible degrees of being?” As far as possibility is concerned, from the Principle of Being, i.e. from the equivalence of nothingness to all things and possibilities, there is no distinction. However, there is or seems to be a difference in probabilities of occurrence!

Any statement of probability is an estimate based on knowledge of context. In the question of transformations of being one may estimate probabilities based on common sense and on science. In a basic commonsense view, people do not observe or experience or include in their world view, spontaneous transformations of being of the type considered in the section What is a Transformation of Being? Perhaps, however, common sense would say that most but not all people do not observe such transformations and that most but not all exceptions are crackpots or wishful thinkers. The source of the thought not all is common sense itself for common sense recognizes that it pertains to common observation and not to universal fact. Where does common sense turn in order to get an improved estimate? First, to itself; since the types of transformations in question are rarely reported, the probability would seem to be small. Here, however, the estimate of common sense is likely to be an underestimate of the degree of smallness for, turning to science – quantum theory, spontaneous transformations, e.g. tunneling, of macroscopic bodies – the probability would be staggeringly small. Now consider how the following, and their combinations, modify probability estimates

Innate ability of cognition to magnify probabilities as in Characterization of Mind. This is the source of a vague analogy with catalytic process in chemistry. What other “catalytic” processes of transformation are there?

The relative nature of boundaries in being in time and space; boundaries between minds; and so, continuity between “separate” beings – beings at different times and places by, e.g., participation in “higher” being or awareness that transcends the physical modes of perception. Further, what is the nature of the separation that is required for immediate existence but that dissolves in the equivalence of nothingness to all being?

1.5.3        What Possibilities are Good?

And what would be good? How can human beings project from this world to the ultimate without that projection being mere reflection?

1.5.4        Omniscience

What is the status of ultimate being regarding omniscience? It would not seem even desirable…

Ultimate being would know its own condition of ultimacy. Is it possible that there is a being that cannot be known by any being, even itself?

Ultimate being would experience significance or meaning

1.6         Systematic Metaphysics

The nature and possibility of systematic metaphysics

Different concepts of systematic metaphysics; the classical concept that culminated with Hegel; analytic / iterative approach; ground to all being: foundation in nothingness – see Argument in metaphysics

The metaphysics of presence and the generation of all possibilities from nothingness

Minimal metaphysics; construction and equivalence of systems; specifications that imply and specifications that may be required by non-equivalence of alternate systems; families of metaphysics

Metaphysics is not itself the realization of being. A complete metaphysics would not be the realization of ultimate being. Metaphysics shows what is possible and illuminates the way. The way itself is taken up in detail and actuality in Experiments in the Transformation of Being

1.7         Language, Words and Metaphysics

The meaning of any word depends on the context. The total context is specified by the metaphysical world view that may be fully implicit but will usually contain both explicit and implicit elements in interaction. Metaphysics, on a standard view of progress, is never complete. In general, therefore, on that view, the meaning of words is never finally given regardless of rigor and precision

These themes are elaborated, especially, in Language, Words and Metaphysics which also includes a system of words

1.8         Metaphysics / Action

The connection between metaphysics and action intended here is as follows

It is not that there is an epistemic need to act in order to test the claims of metaphysics or an ethical imperative to act upon one’s beliefs or knowledge so as to act properly i.e. in the right way. There is value to the idea of a discipline “pure metaphysics.” Further, while action may be a part of evaluation – useful or essential – and while action may be right, even imperative, this is not what is at issue in this discussion of metaphysics and action

In origins thought / knowledge and action are fundamentally connected. There is a ground level of becoming [evolution] at which thought and action are action – in analogy to there being a level at which gene and organism are identical or, at least, of the same stuff. The precursor of thought is a simple change in the structure of the organism. Much later, primitive thought is dream or hallucination-like[14]; originally, it is likely that there was no distinction between ‘dreaming’ and ‘thinking.’ Later, still the organism gained control over “recalled” images; though proper began. However, like pure action all thought is hypothetical. It is efficient for thought and action to separate for a period of time; this is the point to planning and to the institution of knowledge. Thus is built the universe of knowledge and the, in some ways illusory, notion of a realm of pure thought and knowledge… but the open loop is always poised for closure; and under the bright light is the diffuse continuum where awareness and being merge. At ground level, knowledge and action are inseparable in their nature; it is the organism or society that dies for the idea

The “loop” is never cut. Metaphysics can be done but not completed without action. Completing metaphysics, as far as that is possible – and by the Principle of Being it is possible, requires action. [In a hypothetical realm in which being is pure thought, all is thought but, equally, all is action]

A formal [post-intuitive] approach may allow a universal metaphysics

How universal? If there is a ground to all being, there is then the possibility to an end to all explanation. In Cosmology, I argue for a ground for all being and thus a metaphysics that is unconditionally universal

This union of knowledge and action thus far considered is in concept but not in fact; the metaphysics remains formal; it is not embodied, as is metaphysics such as Kant’s that is based in intuition. The metaphysics, though true, lacks full significance for the organism; the being is not fully satisfied, emotional satisfaction, for example, is derivative. The being is little changed by the metaphysics

Is there an ultimate way of being and acting that is open to the individual? This is the content of a metaphysics through being and action. It is not just metaphysics of the ultimate – the phrase is redundant but allowable – but ultimate metaphysics. It begins through knowledge, but it takes over the whole being. What are its ways? This is the content of the current division on Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action, and Experiments in Transformation of the Being. It includes experiment with the being of the individual – the absence of ultimate criteria for knowledge implies that actions and assertions and may and sometimes must be simply imperative; this is based in the lack of ontological alternatives, is not an epistemological limit. What are the limits of being? Is realization of the ultimate possible – it must be for it is not any theoretical ultimate of which we talk but of the ultimate real; and therefore the nature of this ultimate if a question is an open one; and is it open to the individual or will it require some evolution of some species?

Being does not live by the products of culture alone

The distinction between the concept of knowledge / metaphysics as pure discipline and as action-discipline or action-cognition is fundamental to the future of [human] evolution. However, irrevocable choice among alternatives is not necessary since metaphysics as pure discipline is a part of metaphysics / action

1.9         Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge and Logic

…is deferred till after treatment of mind / being: Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge and Logic


As explained below, knowledge and ethics are metaphysical objects. Therefore, title of the section could equally well be “Metaphysics,” but the given title is preferred in relation to the Journey in Being. Knowledge and language are considered in preliminary sections because of their importance in evaluating metaphysical content – including what is possible – and the possibility of metaphysics. Ethics has a role in showing, out of all possibilities, what endeavors are good. Ethics, being and knowledge are considered in the final section so as to emphasize their unity

My present concern with metaphysics began in the essay Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness where the focus was on consciousness. Subsequently, my concern shifted to mind in general and then to metaphysics as a framework of understanding. Here, metaphysics stands on its own and as a coherent framework for understanding a variety of problems including the concept of existence; the nature of being and knowledge; through modal concepts as a foundation for cosmology and the nature of the [one] universe, the necessity of being [why is there something rather than nothing,] and a general framework for theoretical physics c. 2000; and mind-matter questions

2.1         Knowledge

2.1.1        Two Roles for Knowledge

The treatment of knowledge in this essay is motivated by the desire to have a concept of knowledge that enables a full concept of being. Further, Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge and Logic works out some consequences of a full concept of being for knowledge

1.       Knowledge as showing the way through understanding[15]: what is possible… and how can the possible be achieved

2.       Knowledge as Being

The two roles show the significance of knowledge as the way of understanding and as a general object. The roles are related: that knowledge is a form of being means that understanding is an essential part of individual and not something alien or pasted on; and that knowledge is understanding goes to the core of the individual being. The use of understanding and its particularly human connotation does not mean that the two roles and their relation pertains only to humans; the discussion can be applied to any organism with understanding replaced by “animal modes of knowing”

In [2] validity or correctness of knowledge is important; and then, knowledge is also viewed as having a process of discovery. Essential error has been associated with this view

The following will be justified in what follows:

As far as knowledge having essential error is regarded as ultimate or all pervading, this based in a mistaken understanding of the definiteness of being; the way out of this abyss from within itself is to accept and use the indefiniteness of being; even if foundation is important there is and need be no ultimate foundation

The concept of foundation is not empty but the desire to ultimate foundation in a progressive view is misplaced because it is self-contradictory; and, there is a ground to being that is outside the progressive view and this also provides an ultimate foundation though not directly of all variety in the world


2.1.2        What is Knowledge?

The previous section is relevant to the question. Full reflection is deferred to Metaphysics. Important considerations are as follows

There is a distinction between the concept of knowledge and criteria of validity or acceptance

There is a subjective or mental side to knowledge – belief, holding something as true, the experience of knowledge… and meaning i.e. that the mental could refer to something in the world. There is an objective[16] side to knowledge – that it refers to something in the world, the verification or validation of the reference. The union of the subjective and objective sides specifies the concept of knowledge

One essential connection between the two sides is that a knowledge claim is meaningful if it is capable of being either true or false, i.e. if it is capable of having a truth value

There are tendencies to regard knowledge as separate from the world. There are philosophies in which knowledge constitutes a separate world. It is therefore important to state that there is one actual world. It is permissible to consider the possible to be a world but that would not be an actual world

It follows that acquisition of knowledge is associated with a change in the body of the organism. This is true regardless of whether the world is material in nature. Knowledge is not separate from the organism; knowledge has being. As adaptation, the distinction between knowledge and structure of the organism body is not one of fundamental kind

2.1.3        Intuition and Formal Knowledge

This is a significant distinction. Here, intuition does not refer to sub-conscious awareness, to heuristic analysis or to feeling one’s way to the solution of a problem. Rather, the structure of awareness is such that one perceives certain fundamental forms of the world or underlying the world: space, time, causality, objecthood and so on. These are the forms of intuition i.e. in-tuition. Formal knowledge is knowledge that is expressed in terms of abstract symbols and does not a priori include the forms of intuition. Intuitive knowledge is held by the individual organism; formal knowledge may be held by both organism and community and is, therefore, also the form of communication. Various merits of formal and intuitive knowledge are discussed below and it is not necessary to pre-view that information here

Intuition is closely related to perception, to what has been called knowledge by acquaintance, iconic representation, to direct, immediate knowledge, to the body; it is related to what is called knowledge by immersion in Kinds of Knowledge. Formal knowledge tends to be conceptual, to be what has been called knowledge by description, symbolic representation, to inferred knowledge, to thought, especially to thought in terms of language

The main points here are [1] that the intuitionism / formalism[17] distinction is fundamental in this work and [2] both intuition and formal knowledge hold promise, each in its own way, for ultimate knowledge. Since the form of intuition is, in part, a priori to the organism the intuitive approach to ultimate knowledge will require transformation of the organism. Although all possible Experiments in the Transformation of Being are considered below, development and the acquisition of knowledge involves material transformation and the question “What are the limits to transformation?” arises. This question is considered below and the issue whether there are absolute limits is considered. The formal approach may also result in ultimate knowledge and possible approaches are through science and various renderings of the transcendental analytic. The latter includes showing that the condition referred to as nothingness is equivalent, since nothingness is beyond determinism, causality and law, to all possible worlds; and if what was possible did not manifest there would be “law,” i.e. what is possible is also necessary. To claim that the science or thought of today can capture the ultimate is an unnecessary and unjustified reductionism; but to say that future thought is limited by the present understanding of thought is, equally, a reduction. Therefore, formal science or, more generally, formal thought may capture the ultimate. An issue of formal knowledge is that it lacks deep embodiment and that, apparently, it does not function in real time. However, intuition may, also, lag behind the processes of the world; and the formal approach may appear to promise knowledge that is timeless. Further, even the most abstract and elementary symbol is a form of intuition and it is a valid question as to what the limits of formal knowledge are from this viewpoint

It follows from the foregoing that there are no demonstrable or actual absolute limits to knowledge including human knowledge. It does not follow that overcoming the practical limits is easy or likely in a given epoch

See Characterization of Mind for further discussion of intuitionism and formalism in the theory of knowledge         Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description

The purpose of this section is to include brief discussion what has become a conventional distinction – that of knowledge by acquaintance vs. knowledge by description

Intuition is closely related to perception, to what has been called knowledge by acquaintance, iconic representation, to direct, immediate knowledge, to the body; it is related to what is called knowledge by immersion in Kinds of Knowledge which also has references to the literature. Formal knowledge tends to be conceptual, to be what has been called knowledge by description, symbolic representation, to inferred knowledge, to thought, especially to thought in terms of language[18]

Knowledge by description may be regarded as being built up from the objects of acquaintance; and the symbols of description from the icons of acquaintance. The objects of acquaintance need not be simple and do not constitute a set of elements of for descriptive knowledge. In an attempt to construct symbolic description from elements, such elements might be chosen from among the objects of acquaintance. The word “object,” here, as elsewhere requires some discussion. Objects need be neither elementary nor simple. A pattern is an object. Thus patterns that are perceived allow inference. What is the form of such inference? It can be viewed as inductive if the inference is directly from the pattern. Alternatively, it may be viewed as deductive starting from the premise of the pattern and, perhaps, some actual circumstance. Thus, logic is not the exclusive province of symbolic knowledge         Journey in Being is an Adventure in the Forms of Being and Thought

Thought or Knowledge: being – the concept, role of time, of construction and goals, of sentience i.e. what would be the significance of an existing phase-epoch of the one cosmos, bounded by non-existence and that was not known or knowable… and would not such a phase-epoch rightly be called a separate universe [see Reflections on the Number of Universes]… and is sentience an integral or an atomic function? Objecthood, process or changing, space-time, causality and action upon, continuity, prediction and determinism

Being: the possibilities of being, realization; the paths         Alien world view of Knowledge; Presentationism and Representationism [19]

The terms presentationism and representationism have been used in describing the nature of knowledge have affinities to intuition and formal knowledge. Additionally, the meanings of the terms as used in the literature are not uniform and some clarification will be useful. However, even though the ideas are present, this essay is not dependent on a significant use of the terms and this section may be regarded as outside the main development. The purpose of this section is to provide clarification and to relate the terms to the ideas of intuition and formal knowledge that are central in this essay

The alien world notion of knowledge is a caricature of some approaches to knowledge: we are placed in an alien universe, we have no intrinsic knowledge or instruments of knowledge that are in tune with or of the universe; everything, therefore, requires justification but even justification does not produce real knowledge for that is not possible to an alien being… mirage is all that there is and it is by chance that knowledge is useful

The presentational view: there is an epistemological version in which direct knowledge possible and, in a more ambitious version, all knowledge is direct knowledge or can be based on it; in the metaphysical version, the objects in knowledge in the mind are objects of the world… a species of the view that being and knowing are continuous. There is a secondary non-uniformity that may arise on account of the dual use of “object” to refer to the physical object and, e.g. in Kant, to refer to the concept

Representation is in between presentationism and the alien world view: in an epistemological version knowledge, is a construction of the mind even if it conforms to the real; in the metaphysical version, the objects of knowledge in the mind are “copies” of objects in the world. The metaphysical version is caricatured, above, as the alien world view

2.1.4        How is Knowledge Possible

The obvious meaning is [a] How is knowledge possible at all? This question is theoretical but reflections on it are useful. A second, derivative, but important and practical meaning is [b] how is it that human beings, on the basis of limited contact with the world, come to know as much as they do? Of course, these questions beg the negative skeptical questions which require some answer but not to obsession. In part, the answer to skepticism is the answer to the questions. The answers to questions [a] and [b] are similar and here are four approaches. First, what is the constitution of knowledge – of what elements is it constructed? This is addressed by the discussion of empiricism, rationalism and foundations that follows. This, however, does not explain how the individual acquires the biological and psychological constitution to receive information – in the empirical mode – and form concepts – in the rational mode. Second, then, is the constitution of the individual; this constitution is acquired in evolution and in development. Thus the individual is rooted in the world. Sensation, perception and the so called a priori forms of intuition – objecthood, causality, space, and time and so on – have origin in evolution and development. Of course, this explanation, like the others here is in principle. Discussion of details and constructions and their history is deferred. Of course, the individual is not on his or her own and also learns from the community. Third, human knowledge is a cumulation of the knowledge of its communities and civilizations over time; even in the absence of a formal system or separate institutions of education the development, the individual learns through example, ritual, stories, myth, and instruction. Communal learning is through communication: ritual acting out, graphic depiction, drama and art, all of which have a symbolic aspect. An especially human mode of communication is through abstract symbols, especially natural language. Language is, of course, not purely abstract since it has elements of iconic representation even if the iconic significance is long forgotten. Further, sound, tone, rhythm and so on have significance. Language may be formalized and the formal symbolic systems may be regarded as a fourth mode of knowledge. The formal mode may go where intuition – the innate modes of knowing – does not go and there are hopes for a formal foundation of knowledge that I discuss elsewhere in the present essay and in Journey in Being. One way in which the formal mode may go beyond the intuitive is through building concepts – these may start with formalization of intuition or found the intuition… and through logic or implication. Concepts, theory and implication also provide for summary representation of the behavior of large phases of being and amounts of information. A seeming lack of formal knowledge is that it is not personal or intimate knowledge – it lacks embodiment. A degree of intimacy and intuition regarding may be developed regarding formal knowledge; even the most abstract symbol is also a form of intuition. Yet, formal knowledge is lacking in satisfaction; but beyond that, the individual is little changed by vast systems of formal knowledge[20]. Further, formal knowledge does not process in real time. Thus, even the development and growth of knowledge lead, for their completion, to interest in the Experiments in the Transformation of Being

Classical views of the constitution of knowledge are empiricism and rationalism. In the following, we refer to [the] two sides of knowledge: meaning and reference. Empiricism refers to two related views. The first is an empiricist theory of meaning or of concepts: words can be understood or concepts be possible only if they are connected [reduced] to experience, i.e. to things experienced. The second, an empiricist theory of knowledge, is that justification of knowledge [hypotheses, beliefs] depends, ultimately, on experience. Empiricism is opposed to authority, intuition, imaginative conjecture, and rational thought as sources of belief and justification. The fundamental opposition is with rationalism: in a rationalist theory of knowledge reasoning is a source of justification; and in a rationalist theory of meaning concepts are derived from intuition or posited formally, i.e. in terms of abstract symbols. A strict or strong rationalism would exclude empiricism while a liberal rationalism would conjoin empirical with rational meaning and justification

Empiricism and rationalism are in opposition in their radical forms; radical empiricism as the idea that, ultimately, the modes of expression and of justification of knowledge are only empirical. Radicalization has the virtue of simplicity but is unnecessary. Experience is one source, but not the only one, of the capacity for rational thought. In the individual, the developing brain is conditioned by experience upon the forming neural connections resulting in a mature brain. However, it is not experience that produces the capacity of the individual to have a brain. If we regard the capacities of the brain which include the ability to develop into an organ that includes the rational capacity and some degree of innate knowledge as constituting some degree of original occurrent and dispositional knowledge then neither experience nor thought nor their combination is the source of all organismic knowledge. However, experience [experiment] and reason are required in the standard accounts of the justification of scientific knowledge as practiced c. 2000

There is a form of idealism according to which the form of the world – the universe – is the form of human knowledge. The motive for this is, perhaps, that human beings can do no better [than they can do.] The converse of this form of idealism is that skepticism that, starting from the same point, holds that knowledge cannot exceed its innate bounds. This is not a radical skepticism: it allows a degree of knowledge. The position held here avoids a typology of knowledge. Motivations for a typology of knowledge include simplicity – or, more generally, an aesthetic – and foundation of knowledge. The position regarding the aesthetic is that it is a valuable guide that develops as knowledge and understanding of knowledge develop. The position regarding foundations or foundationalism is that the ideal of a foundation is a firm anchor that is outside knowledge as a whole – outside what is being founded; and that there is no such absolute anchor. This is limiting if a foundation is seen as securing knowledge and if such security is seen as desirable. However, it is freeing if the knowledge agent is then seen as being in the world and, if without an absolute anchor, also without absolute limits. The position is, then, that there are modes of knowledge – including the empirical, the ideal and the formal – and that knowledge is a process. This position is itself not absolute for there is no saying that the process must continue without end – if being itself were without end, and there is no saying that the process will not end; and if it will not end there is no saying that that end will be limited or will be absolute

These assertions may be modified later and the expansion of knowledge and its modes be found in kind and content to cover all being         The Functions of Knowledge

This section was originally titled The Faculties of Knowledge but was changed because “faculties” has the connotation of special, distinct, hermetic compartments or special organs for each faculty or function such as emotion, perception and so on; there is no reference to any such connotations of “faculty.” The functions are broad areas that have a variety of sub-kinds and instances, indistinct boundaries and overlap, and, may have primitive elements in common

Details of the functions are omitted since they parallel those in A System of the Dimensions of Mind, Being and Action. Here, the functions, are presented somewhat ad hoc; in the parallel treatment, some foundation is given, the treatment is broadened in scope and detail added

The functions


Iconic: the elements of thought are percepts. I.e., the form of iconic thought is that of intuition

Symbolic: Natural language / formal systems; symbols are elementary forms of intuition whose structure has no significance in formal systems

The following considerations arise: relation of concepts and percepts; iconic-intuitive and symbolic-formal character of concepts; question of ultimate distinction between iconic-intuitive thought and thought in language or symbolic-formal thought. The latter is considered in a number of places, especially Intuition and Formal Knowledge

Drives; continuity with emotion

Emotion as complexes of feeling-thought

Perception; the following distinction brings out the variety of perception but is not fundamental

Sense perception

Proprioception – perception of internal state… and feeling including pleasure and pain, and the feeling components of emotion

The following questions arise

What is the range of perception i.e. what are the perceivable objects or elements of the world?

What is the range of thought i.e. what is the range of being covered by the thinkable… are there modes or kinds of being that are not thinkable?

What is the range of thought in language?

Formal processes may be questioned on the ground that they do not operate in real time. Does intuition operate in real time?

If an object is in the range of the perceivable or the thinkable… is the validity of the reference capable of being established? Is all “verification” merely a survival of criticism? Or is knowledge capable of being positive due e.g. to the organism’s being-in-the-world… including evolution? If positive knowledge is possible, would that not imply that knowledge comes before foundation?

It appears from the foregoing that limits to knowing are limits to being. What is the significance of the Experiments in the Transformation of Being to limits of experience, to what can be experienced and to knowledge?         Kinds of Knowledge

The following occur above:

Fact / pattern… related to percept / concept

Theory, understanding, explanation

Acquaintance / description

Logic and implication

Intuition / formal knowledge

Intuition includes the body modes

2.1.5        Knowledge, Belief and Truth

Knowledge is related to belief. If I hold something to be true then, firstly, I believe it and then I think – or feel – I know it. But belief is not restricted to holding something to be true. First, distinguish what I believe what I think I believe, what I write I believe and what I say I believe; these are in a complex interaction. Belief has been defined as a predisposition to act in a certain way; thinking I believe something, writing, saying that I believe something are, also, forms of action. However, belief is related to, partially determinative of but distinct from the actions and the predisposition. On the way to saying what I hold to be definitive, here are some preliminary comments. Regarding some particular issue, I may have held [thought] different beliefs along the way; each such belief is a result of a complex set of factors – what I have held before, new information, rational processing, the influence of others and of the predominant belief system, irrational and chance factors. At a particular time I may hold [think] some specific belief. Thus my actual belief is a “superposition” of the memory traces, some so recessed that they are far from conscious light, of my past held [thought] beliefs; due to genetic predisposition, to interactivity of beliefs, random factors, the actual belief may be a more complex combination or superposition. When I know something, one condition, then would be that the superposition is so nearly a sharply defined position that my held [consciously thought] belief is [or is very close to being] fixed. Belief is a state of being; knowledge is true belief

So far, belief has been thought of in two ways – as related to truth and as related to action; and these two ways are related. I would not believe something that I know is untrue. But, apart from the absurd or contradictory, there appears to be little absolute knowledge; as far as facts are concerned there always appears to be the possibility of correction. Therefore, all knowledge remains tinged with belief: there is no anchor for knowledge outside the world. It seems to me, then, that when I know something, I have a high degree of belief in it – as a result of various validations. In other words, I have a shade of doubt. When it comes to action, I would usually be foolish to act on what is more doubtful. Regarding belief, I can restate this as follows. Consider the strong belief that a fact is true. I call this |true> and I usually think, simply, that fact is true. However, there is also a weak belief, the doubt, that usually does not occur to me that the fact is not true and I call this |not true>. As I said, I usually think, simply, that fact is true. However, belief is more complex than that. There is a distinction between what I believe and what I think I believe… and what I say I believe; and this does not involve explicit dishonesty. Then my actual belief is something like: a |true> + b |not true> where, usually, either a or b will be small and in the conventional attitude toward belief one of a and b is zero. The actual resolution of belief into a thought or an action occurs in an actual situation. In a more complex situation where there are possibilities a, b, c… my belief is |a> + |b> + |c> + …[21]

In general the possibilities a, b, c… include all possible belief states

2.1.6        Knowledge, Meaning and Reference

There is an intuitive side to knowledge that refers to the fact that the forms of understanding of which the organism is capable are forms of the world[22]; this intuitive side is part of the idea of meaning and is a necessary prerequisite for meaning as explained above. This is, of course, somewhat circular because what are the forms of the world outside understanding. The circularity is cut by recognizing that there are stages in the development of the understanding. The intuition often seems as though it is a priori to the experience of the individual but this a priori resolves to analysis of experience, to development of the individual from conception which in turn has resolution in evolution. The analysis of intuition is a large and incompletely resolved area of epistemology. However, there is a formal side to the development of knowledge that supplements and complements intuition that may bypass its specific deficiencies. There is also the problem of embodiment discussed above / below. However, the formal approach is symbolic in that it uses language and related symbolic systems. It is not clear that there could not be a formal system based on an iconic system but this does not change the point that the formal may bypass the deficiencies to intuition. The basic symbols are intuitive although at a more primitive level than the categories of understanding – and this appears to return to embodiment. The most basic symbol system [0,1] may generate more complex systems and can be seen to be symbolically basic and also to correspond to the most fundamental distinction [that of distinction] in nature; thus, at root, intuition, formalism and world intersect

The intuitive side of knowledge involves embodiment of knowledge. This raises the question whether, in general, embodiment of the conditions of the environment involves knowledge. For example, that the digestive tract clearly corresponds to conditions in the environment has been cited as an example of knowledge. Mythology and folklore, also, have been claimed as knowledge. All such claims have and can be denied. A simple resolution is as follows. We can distinguish kinds of knowledge. There is then no transgression of reason whether forms of embodiment and culture are called, each, some kind of knowledge or not. There may, however, be a gain in unity and understanding by admitting the variety of forms to be kinds of knowledge

It has been argued that the formal approach may lead to absolute knowledge though this is not clear – problems of verification, at least, would seem to remain. The idea of being fundamental over a specified universe of discourse is more reasonable; but this depends, also, on degree of abstraction and we will consider, later, an approach to an unconditional absolute

The ideal of knowledge is that it is belief that is true. However there are often problems with verification; then we may say that we have knowledge when we believe something and the belief has passed all best efforts at verification. In some cases, if not all, the concept of verification does not apply and we then replace “has passed our best efforts at verification” by “has passed – or has not failed – our best efforts at critical testing”

When we know something, we have knowledge. That would be trivial except for its connection to consciousness; and as a beginning. Knowledge is a trace of the world in the organism. Knowledge is a representation of the world. Knowledge is an adaptation. Knowledge is not static, is in process, is dynamic in that, in practice, is subject to modification and filling in of detail; knowledge is subject to correction

Meaning is further discussed in Analytic Philosophy

2.1.7        Criteria of Validity

If knowledge, its “methods” and processes, show what is possible and how that may be achieved, then, we would like to have confidence in the applicability and validity of the claims of knowledge. The problem of applicability is harder than that of validity. Application requires, first, development of the knowledge and, then, knowledge that it is applicable in the given context. In the Western tradition, development includes the process of creation for which there are ways but no sure ways, i.e. no method. In the same tradition, one approach to validity is the Socratic Method or approach which may be interpreted as analysis or criticism from as many perspectives and in as many ways as possible. If it is allowed that creation of new knowledge is also criticism of established knowledge and that experiment and action are forms of criticism then the Socratic approach is not other than the scientific, the philosophical and a host of other approaches to method

That is, what are criteria for validity?

One basis from which to discuss criteria is the notion, from close to the dawn of philosophy, of knowledge as justified, true, belief. Note that though this is sometimes referred to as the “standard analysis of propositional knowledge,” since – or insofar as – propositions are context / theory dependent, it applies equally to all knowledge. The standard analysis corresponds, roughly, to the specification, above, of knowledge in terms of subjective and objective sides: belief as subjective, truth as objective and justification as relating the subjective and objective

A number of criticisms of the idea of justified, true, belief arise. First, as an interpretation of the two sided face of knowledge, it is a suggestion or hypothesis – for where has the interpretation been proved? In this realm, there is no absolute proof and all that there is hypothesis, application, analysis… and improvement. This criticism is negative. A positive criticism must rest on analysis of the concepts involved

The notion of justification may arise as follows. In an established context, we often accept certain core beliefs as true. However, in a dynamic state, one in which we seek to improve or expand the state of knowledge, “established truth” is necessarily called in to question. The process of establishing, or more correctly, of improving upon the “established” is justification. Since there is no getting out of the world, justification – pending some greater insight – is always relative and never absolute; justification a process. Later efforts at assertion and justification may require assertions that were best justified earlier or elsewhere to be relinquished. Similarly, although there is an ideal of truth, for beings that are not omniscient there is no effective truth that is better than the best established or best justified truth

There is a modern criticism, the basis of an entire industry of argument and publication, of knowledge as justified, true, belief that allows for a claim to knowledge be untrue yet justified. This criticism ignores the entanglement, for finite or non-omniscient beings, of justification and [effective] truth. This point invalidates the criticism and the literature in question because it shows up the notion of justified, true, belief as containing the contradiction that has just been pointed out

The following principle may be introduced: no argument shall be called a [valid] justification if the kind of argument could be a justification of an untrue proposition. All examples of which I am aware in which justified, true, belief does not constitute possession of knowledge use a justification schema that would allow a justified, untrue belief to also constitute knowledge

There is a practical problem with the analysis of the previous paragraph. It is that all knowledge, whether propositional or theoretical, is subject to correction and therefore any justification is the best available, the best to date and so on. This problem is addressed in the next paragraph

An improvement over justified, true, belief would be, simply, true belief because, effectively, truth requires justification. Alternatively, we could say that knowledge is the best justified belief. Practically, according to this notion, claims to knowledge will always be contentious because, in a given situation, the available justification will not be the best, different groups will have different notions, interpretations and applications of the idea of best justification. However, these contentions will not be contradictions and, the ideal of true belief remains free of contradiction

2.1.8        Security

Established and secure knowledge is useful in application and is also reassuring

The reassurance is due to the tacit inclusion of safety and security [certainty] in formulating concepts and criteria for knowledge. As pointed out above, safety is not always possible and is not always desirable even when that is what is desired

Security is one motive for skepticism

2.1.9        Criticism, Skepticism and their Radical Forms

Skepticism may be described as the position that certain knowledge is not possible; and radical skepticism may be described as the position that knowledge is not possible at all

Skepticism is not in contradiction with the existence of contexts that from a human perspective are extended and vast, in which knowledge is extremely reliable

Criticism is an attitude or study of the nature and limits of knowledge or a discipline, carried out in a way to avoid both skepticism and dogmatism

A critical attitude shows and helps remove error; radical or thoroughgoing criticism is similarly useful in showing what foundation a discipline – or knowledge as a whole – may have

Without hypotheses – imagination, what has been regarded or treated as knowledge – there is nothing to criticize

Therefore, radical criticism is especially useful when applied to knowledge in its phases of growth

As an attitude skepticism may lead to useful criticism but, especially in its radical form may be debilitating by discouraging thought

In addition to the motive of security, radical skepticism may also be based in an exalted ideal of knowledge based in contexts in which the frailty of knowledge can be avoided. Such contexts include society and life

Criteria for the validity of knowledge are context dependent and related to the concept or idea of knowledge that is explicitly or tacit; however, the concept of knowledge is capable of expansion as the context and understanding of knowledge grow         What is the Depth of Knowledge in the Organism?

In the ultimate, the distinction between knowledge and being breaks down; knowledge and action are inseparable, knowledge remains intertwined with its organic base; the existence of final and ultimate criteria is not given

2.1.10    Justification and Action

Action was allowed as a way of criticism or justification, above. The meaning is that action is the test of a hypothesis: the hypothesis is used as the basis of action and the action fails or succeeds. In practice, there would be a combination of action and other approaches including analysis and controlled experiment. Why would one use the approach of action? Action may be imperative and there may be no alternative approach to criticism; or the combination of action and other approaches may be optimal in some sense. What sense? Various formulations could be given but, note, this is the same issue of criticism taken to a higher [meta] level. The approach of action without otherwise justified hypotheses could also be taken by choice because of the promise or possibility of a valuable outcome

Why consider action, for its own sake, in a discussion of knowledge? It is because knowledge and action are only approximately separable and there is a level at which and there are domains where knowledge and action are inseparable

2.1.11    Knowledge and Action

Recall the intent from Two Roles for Knowledge “The treatment of knowledge in this essay is motivated by the desire to have a concept of knowledge that enables a full concept of being”

What might be a final foundation to knowledge? Knowledge is a relation between knower and known – the universe or a part of it. If by foundation I mean a means of absolute verification of truth and an actual verification, then a foundation will require getting outside the system of knower and known for mooring, rock or anchor. For a final foundation, that would require getting outside the universe itself and that is impossible. Therefore, in the present sense, a final foundation of knowledge is impossible

This line of thought is one of the motivations for developing a pragmatic theory of the foundations of knowledge or a pragmatic theory of truth. However, it is implicit, ultimately, pragmatism is not a foundation but a tacit statement that there is no final foundation of knowledge in verification – owing to the ultimate lack of a Platonic world against which to compare in order to verify

It is recognized, therefore, that knowledge remains in interaction with action and, in a sense – though not in any sense of verification, this is a final “foundation.” It would be a foundation in the sense that it is recognized, not only that no anchor or rock is necessary, but, also, that the search for an anchor is counter to the nature of being and is, in the end, at least, a serious block to realization

It is desirable to have a concept of knowledge that is not dependent on human experience of knowledge. It might seem that this is impossible but the symbolic method complemented by intuition is one approach, as has been noted, to transcending the limitations of and anchoring the intuition. The concept of knowledge would be a theory of the mutual adaptation of the elements of the being of the universe

Development of the more general concept of knowledge in a process or action framework and related concepts is deferred to:


Theories of Action and, especially,

Metaphysics / Action | Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge and Logic

2.2         Processes of Knowledge

The intent here is to give brief mention, showing how the processes of conceptual knowledge tie into criteria

2.2.1        Discovery

As noted above, without hypotheses there is nothing to criticize and therefore, one phase is discovery. Criticism or justification is not the primary concern in this phase but may be present, for example, in eliminating from consideration clearly untenable ideas. This heuristic element is efficient because, often it is not the hypotheses themselves that are tested but conclusions based on them and the derivation of conclusions may be laborious         Concepts [23]

I use concept in two related senses. In the first, a concept is an experience of or mental content corresponding to something real. “Experience of” is more general and allows for real, approximate and hypothetical concepts. A percept is a concept. I do not, here, enter into a discussion whether any concepts are innate. However, a concept can be constructed and, later, appear to be a priori. Much of the human conceptual system is constructed from language. Actual concepts are usually layered in the sense that there are perceptual and linguistic components

The first sense of concept is [similar to] the one used in analytic philosophy in which a concept is capable of being the constituent of mental or linguistic content and a related, more specific sense, used also in cognitive science c.2000, in which a concept is an element of propositional thought. A primary significance of the analytic sense, discussed by example in Being, is that it avoids errors that may result from confusing object and concept

The second and classical sense of concept, here, is that of generic idea. In this meaning, a concept is useful in providing – efficient – general understanding that has application in particular cases

The two senses of concept are related. A percept, the content of a perception, is a mental content and therefore a concept in the analytic sense. But all actual perceptions are organizations of raw data [whether particles or sensations] and therefore, also, generic ideas; and higher order concepts are generic over lower order concepts which may include percepts

The classical sense of generic idea defines a family of meaning; elucidation and elaboration would come from application to a variety of cases         Articulation of Concepts

One concern of philosophy, especially philosophy of the analytic variety, is the establishment of the existence, nature and articulation of various fundamental concepts; the activity is useful

In the absence of a systematic metaphysics this activity may be seen in rough analogy to astronomy. Astronomy is the cataloging and mapping of the heavens; and, in analogy, there is a phase of philosophy that is the cataloging and mapping of ideas. Later, it may be possible to have theories such as physical cosmology for astronomy and systematic metaphysics for the analysis of concepts that allow understanding of the “universes” as dynamic wholes in self-interaction

Relative to the goal of global understanding, any requirement of precision and detailed articulation of concepts may be an impediment. This arises in two ways. First, and fundamentally, not all concepts-object pairs are given or necessarily possessed of or to be possessed of precise articulation and, therefore, the requirement of precision is anti-realistic; examples of this are seen in the discussions, below, in the following and other locations: matter and Indefiniteness of Concepts in the section on Dimensions of Mind / Being: Introduction. Second, even when possible, whether in general or in a restricted context, precision and detailed articulation may not be necessary to an abstract or general over-view

Although precise articulation is useful in a number of ways, insistence on it may retard understanding, may give the impression that we know more [about the context] and less [in general] than we actually do         Field of Concepts

The simple objects and phenomena are interrelated and any system general understanding must, in order to be effective, usually consider the interacting field of phenomena which includes objects and phenomena from a variety of classes. The understanding therefore requires a field of concepts and descriptions of behaviors. The word “field” signifies that the concepts are interactive through their constitution or definition or the behaviors and, therefore, do not form a mere collection         Conception or Concept Formation

I am not referring, primarily, to concept formation in the development of an individual but to the original establishment or modification of concepts for understanding

The key ideas are:

The motive to introducing a concept arises when similar or repetitive phenomena are noted

Concepts evolve and this evolution includes original motivation, patterns among other concepts; and there are points of similarity with development in that sufficient preparation is necessary; the process is iterative as described in Justification

It is often necessary to consider a field of concepts rather than single concepts in isolation; this, too, may require iteration. Considered from the point of origin of concept formation each stage of development builds upon earlier stages in a “bootstrap” or self-generating process, an iteration that is, metaphorically, both circular and linear and may, therefore be called helical. Although the process does not follow a rational path, when a system of concepts comes together in enhanced understanding the situation is recognized by the elimination of loose ends and unanswered questions and there is often rapid and revolutionary change in the quality of the understanding or theory         Definiteness of Concepts

A variety of ways in which concepts may be indefinite have been shown in this document. One way arises from the idea of a field of concepts where the field is definite but there is play in the individual concepts. A second kind of indefiniteness arises from indefiniteness of reference; which, in turn is inherent in the fact that reference is always in a process of creation, stabilization and evolution in use in an environment [which, also, may be changing.] Finally, objects may be indefinite as discussed in the sections starting with Mind

Social objects are those that are “created” by individuals [in communication.] Such objects, including language, may become quite definite as a result of adaptation and the possibilities of form; however, there remains an underlying arbitrariness and therefore indefiniteness to many social objects

Natural objects are not thought to have the indefiniteness just associated with social objects. There are, however, philosophies in which natural are social artifacts. That natural objects are social artifacts is not held here in any essential way, i.e. it is not held that the “fictional” character of natural concepts is essential. However, natural objects such as the elementary particles were, it is assumed, created and, the definiteness of created objects is not an essential condition of creation

2.2.2        Justification

Is the process of subjecting the hypotheses to various kinds of test that include logical consistency, agreement with existing data, and making and evaluating predictions

Discovery and justification is not a linear process. As noted, elements of criticism are present in discovery; similarly imagination is required to develop predictions and tests. Additionally, the overall process is iterative in that hypotheses may need to be adjusted as a result of disagreement with data and this occur at a number of levels of detail

2.2.3        Science

The processes of science have been elaborated as four phases: experimentation, conception, development and verification. These are elaborations of discovery and justification

We often speak of science as though it were one thing. That is not the case. Often, science is thought of as its rules and institutional norms… or thought of as its products; in these senses science is an instrument of a phase of history. The rules or norms are related to but distinct from the essence which are imagination and correction. The essence of [1] idea or hypothesis and [2] test and correction conforms to the variation and selection of universal evolution – see Nothingness. In this sense, science is eternal

2.2.4        Direct Knowledge

Conceptual knowledge is based, in part on tests, and experimental tests are ultimately reducible to simple observations or perception which has no further foundation in practice

For the organism, perception is effectively direct knowledge

There are disciplines such as mysticism that make claims to direct knowledge of what might normally be thought to be conceptual. The present discussion is not based on this kind of direct knowledge and its treatment is deferred

2.3         Knowledge Used in the Journey in Being

For a details and preliminary definition of needs see Design for a Journey in Being

Also see the Bibliographies

2.3.1        Topics

Life; the body

All cultures and civilizations

Self knowledge; introspection

Meditation and Yoga

Extent, conceptual organization, divisions of human knowledge

Science, humanities, the practical arts, institutions

2.3.2        Range of Human Knowledge

What is the possible range of human knowledge?

How may this question be approached?

The [Human] Knowledge Project – see Design for a Journey in Being


3           COSMOLOGY

Cosmology is not restricted to physical cosmology. This section emphasizes both physical and general cosmology

Physical cosmology works out features of the origin and large scale characteristics of the universe from observation and the fundamental theories of physics; philosophical cosmology is not essentially different except that the universe is not assumed a priori to be physical in nature and the basis of the cosmology is in logical necessity rather than in contingent physical truth

One of the objectives here is to work out an outline of physical cosmology from logical necessity rather than physics. Of course, the ideas from modern physics and physical cosmology are in the background as a guide and a source of ideas

Sources of foundation and understanding for philosophical cosmology: the concepts of nothingness and presence; logic including the use of modality; analogy with physical cosmology and origin of the physical universe in no-thing; and analogy with evolution and indeterminism for the variety in the world

There is one universe… we speak of many universes – of multiverses, of universes of discourse, of “bubble” universes but these, together, constitute the one universe

Worlds on worlds are rolling ever From creation to decay

Like the bubbles on a river Sparkling, bursting, borne away [24]

3.1         Reflections on the Number of Universes

Consider the following: What does it mean that an object is a universe? It is the whole body of things and phenomena – seen and unseen, known and unknown… therefore, there is one and only one

However, consider the possibility: there are two or more bodies of things. Within each body there are interactions but the bodies are separate in that there is and can be no interaction between one of the bodies of things and another; there has been and will be no interaction. Each such body will be called an s-universe; this use, in which “s” refers to “sub,” is restricted to this section on Reflections on the Number of Universes. In the present use, a s-universe is not a “bubble universe,” one of many more or less self-contained causal domains that are causally interconnected in some way but only weakly so in some phase-epochs of the universe. For a cognitive being in any of the s-universes, the other s-universes are unknown and unknowable; and, further, would seem to have no significance. From the point of view of any cognitive being, what difference does it make which of the following is held?

There is one universe and it is this interacting body of things in which I live; if there are other “universes” they have no significance to me and therefore I hold that they do not exist

There is one universe and it is this s-universe in which I live together with all s-universes with which there is no interaction; since there is no interaction among s-universes, I cannot know them through observation or inference from observation. However, the Principle of Equivalence of nothingness to all possibilities implies that other s-universes must exist. Use of “exist” in the previous sentence is somewhat equivocal since there are no common times or spaces which the idea of existence might imply. I recognize that, although in some practical sense, the existence of other s-universes has no significance to me, the concept of other s-universes does, in fact, have significance because I can imagine and theorize about such possibilities and thereby learn about my s-universe, about possibility and necessity. Additionally, I question the possibility s-universes that not only do not interact, but have not, will not interact; I would even say they can not interact except that “can not” seems to have no meaning beyond do not, have not and will not because there is no other manifold in which they could have interacted. The sub-universes are, in a sense, all bound in nothingness which is [and is equivalent to] the one universe… thus I have justification in referring to the “collection” of s-universes as the universe

It is, however, possible to go beyond this. Consider any collection, U, of s-universes. Then the equivalence of nothingness to all possibilities implies the following. There is another U’, that is similar to U but in which the “s-universes” interact. In this sense, the other s-universes are knowable by a cognitive being in some of that being’s “manifestations.” This gives meaning and significance to the possibility of s-universes and shows how, practically and not just theoretically, they are bound into one: in some manifestations, they are absolutely distinct, but in others they are causally connected and inter-cognitive

Consider beings whose cognition or being-hood is bounded by birth and death. These include individuals and s-universes. Such beings will have eternal return that initially appears to be without significance. There is, however, a collection U’ that gives significance to the eternal return or to return in a variety of forms

The collection U’ also provides an approach some issues regarding the identity of individuals e.g. two identical but distinct individuals, the return of an individual in the same or altered form, or even altogether distinct individuals. These identities are connected by the existence in some U’, of a being whose awareness transcends the apparently restricted awareness of the individuals

The interval from death to birth is without significance to the individual as an individual. It is within thought that this insignificance may be and often is mistakenly seen as an absolute boundary

Conclude from the foregoing that:

3.2         There is Exactly One Universe

“There is exactly one universe” does not mean “there is now one universe.” It means something like there was, is, and will be exactly one universe. That, too, is limited because I am using a tensed language to refer to something that “contains” time but is not “in” time – although, of course, phase-epochs of the universe may be in time

The one universe includes the phase of nothingness

Since nothingness is equivalent to all being; since what is possible will, according to that equivalence, manifest; the one universe includes all possibilities. That inclusion is not in temporal sequence but is outside of time, i.e. it is outside of the kind of linear universal-like time of our phase-epoch. Again, since the universe includes all possibilities, it includes nothingness. One of the reasons for stressing this is that the idea that the universe includes all possibilities which equals all actual phase-epochs [again not in time] is not an idea of a mere collection but one with logical coherence and with positive implications some of which are derived or explained and used in the conceptual system of Journey in Being

A generic argument concerns what would otherwise be a case of inductive generalization. If, from the presence of mind in this universe, we were to extrapolate the presence of mind either in all universes or some other universes, that would be only a possibility; if we could then argue that mind is unlikely it would then follow that mind would be likely in some other universes; or if there were an infinity of universes we might argue that it is certain that there will be mind in some other universes – in an infinite number of trials a small probability amounts to certainty. However, this approach is unnecessary and in that it misunderstands the nature of the universe it is less than illuminating. Since there is mind in the one universe, mind is necessary – this argument was originally made in Regarding the Existence of Consciousness and Presence

3.3         Regarding “Something from Nothing”

“Why is there something rather than nothing?” has been called the fundamental problem of metaphysics. The conclusions of Metaphysics show that this should not be the fundamental problem – that it is trivial. Rather, the fundamental problem should be “Why is there presence?” meaning why is there sentience, i.e. “Why is the universe present to itself?” Or, “Why, through the existence of sentient beings, is the universe aware of itself?” or, simply, “Why is there awareness or consciousness?”

Consider, then, that there is “something” and that there is exactly one universe. Suppose we want to build a theory regarding the necessity of “something.” The theory regards the one universe and the data point regards one universe. So the theory says every universe has something – except in the phase of nothingness. However, we have seen that since nothingness is not just the absence of things but also of space-time-cause-law, what is possible is also necessary. Therefore, if there “is” nothingness: there “will be” something. Conclude: there always “is” or “will be” something. In a sense, the question “why is there something rather than nothing” had meaning when it was first asked but our reflections and arguments have rendered it meaningless

3.4         Regarding the Existence of Consciousness and Presence

The argument to the necessity of consciousness or presence is exactly the same as that of the previous section with “something” replaced by “consciousness” or by “presence.” And, similarly, the questions “Why is there consciousness?” or “Why is there presence?” have been rendered meaningless

3.5         Principle of Connection

The foregoing arguments are of the following form:

The local is present in the universal; this connects the universal and the local

3.6         Becoming

Although genesis occurs over time, the understanding that comes from the history and principles of genesis includes timeless elements

The following principles provide understanding

Nothingness is Equivalent to All Being - see The Principle of Being

Variation and selection; “usually” but not restrictively incremental


Symmetry and the breaking of symmetry, especially near symmetry

Quantum theory

And, for life as we know it

Evolution: the history of evolution and the theory of evolution including the roles of variation and selection

Reproduction; combination and recombination including sex

For thought – used in a generalized sense to include all functioning of mind



3.7         Kinds of Process and Cause

Indeterminism – absence of universal determinism, universal causation, universal mechanism or universal design. The following exist in phases

Deterministic process




3.8         Co-origins of Being, Causation, Dynamics and Time

Time and process are inherent in “origins” but not necessarily the coordinated time of our phase-epoch of the universe

One way for being and dynamics to have co-origin is – noting the co-origin of structure and change i.e. of being-form and being-process – is if:

The Process of Dynamics º the Processes of Creation

This might occur in the following way:

Some spontaneous eruptions from nothingness are stable or near stable; stability requires a structure and thus those eruptions that are candidates for stability are those where there are elementary eruptions in relationship or the eruption is non-elementary

Those eruptions that are far from stable go back to nothingness

Those that are absolutely stable are “frozen.” Absolute stability is extremely less likely [probability = 0] than the near stable; further the absolutely stable eruptions would not be regenerating

Therefore, original creation from nothingness effectively occurs when near-stable arrangements of primitive “elements” are created

The near-stable structures are, from considerations of equilibrium, near-symmetric

Absolutely stable structures are perfectly symmetric while the unstable structures are far from symmetric

Group-theory is one algebraic structure that lends itself to the study and descriptive elaboration of stability. What other algebras yield similar study? What perturbations of these algebras are suited to the description of near-symmetry? Would these algebras be discrete, continuous or both? In what dynamics may the algebraic structures be embedded?

Each non-elementary eruption has a time associated with it; here, time is used in reference to being-in or being-with time and not an assigned value such as 12 AM, January 1, 2000 or a linear continuum of such values, i.e. here, time is the concept. The times of different eruptions “are” different except by chance; without common origin or common dynamics there is no meaning to common time. The “time” is essentially due to the process within the eruption that is a continuation of the occurrence of the eruption. Process, therefore time, is not possible without structure; and the origin and sustenance of structure is not possible without process or time. Therefore, for process and form, there are – can be – no elementary particles: each particle must be constituted of sub-particles. One seeming way out of this infinity is if the eruptions occur “in” or as a continuum. Every parcel of the continuum has variation within it and this variation is the structure. In this case a particle is a concentration or a singularity – a discontinuity or infinity; and it is possible that the description based on singularities is approximate but computationally simpler than that based on the full continuum description

The eruptions of item 1 above may be the eruptions of a non-uniform continuum

As we normally perceive things, objects exist in space; however the idea that objects exist in space is a metaphor based on intuition. In fact space is a mode of description of the separation and distinctness among particles. At the stage of spontaneous eruption and dissolution, “space” is fragmented as is “time.” Such fragmentation may exist beyond the creation and be always present; if present at a microscopic level they may, for some purposes, be invisible at macroscopic levels

The existence of a continuum or manifold will explain that interactions have some “speed of propagation.” The coordination of clock times is not automatically given; any coordination of process requires dynamic interaction among separate parts of matter; therefore, common time, space and speed of propagation is not possible among different transient eruptions

Initially, at least, there would be inherent “mechanisms” for seeding – generating large numbers of basic structures or elementary particles – and variety sufficient to the universe or a phase-epoch thereof

By the processes described above, and by seeding there would be large numbers of each of a number of elementary particles; the “efficiency” of seeding, once begun, explains the presence of large numbers of identical particles from among a few basic types… and homogeneity of a phase-epoch of the universe

The “process rate” of these structures would be identical or sufficiently close to be practically identical; this would result in universal time and the possibility of clocks

The presence of large numbers of singularities and the presence of “shear” [motion] in the continuum would result in different processing rates. However, since the shift in rate would be a function of the density of singularities and shear, the actual process rate would be the universal rate “multiplied by a shift factor.” This is a kind of universal time which applies only after seeding and not in infinitely larger case of nothingness in spontaneous eruption / dissolution

Relative to the situation before the seeding, we can see how the phrases “origin of time” and “origin of space” make sense. Before the seed, there are many times and spaces all transient; after the seed there is or may be, at least in a phase-epoch of the universe, “one time and space” and this is in a state of coordination

The interaction of process and structure may explain the dynamic relation among matter, space and time. After the seed, there may be a single, universal [local to an phase-epoch] space-time-matter

This universal time and space [limited of course to the phase-epoch] does not continue down to the microscopic level since, by the arguments, it depends on that level; thus at the micro-level space and time remain fragmented. “Universal” time does not imply numerical identity of the intrinsic process of the elements of matter or simple 1:1 correlation among clocks

After the seeding, it is still possible for other phase-epochs to evolve in the vicinity of a given phase-epoch. This is improbable though not impossible…

In the previous paragraph, nothing is implied about the genesis and trajectories of other phase-epochs. Our phase-epoch, what we sometimes call The Universe, is a speck compared to the universe – what is sometimes called the multiverse. In the universe – in the encompassing sense of my use – there are always phase-epochs – we might call them miniverses – originating, dying and there must be an infinity of them

The present phase-epoch – any given phase-epoch – may evolve; or there may be multiple seeds

In this way, even in the semi-causal phase-epochs of the universe, there may be multiple times, multiple spaces, multiple speeds of propagation of interaction

But, in a given phase-epoch, there may be one macroscopic time, one macroscopic space and one macroscopic speed of propagation of interactions – the “speed of light”

In that nothingness is equivalent to all being and all possibilities are realized it follows, that from any state, nothingness will be realized and all states will be realized[25]. What, then, is the point to talking of specific processes and states? Once the trajectory of history has begun, except for staggeringly improbable fluctuations of various kinds and the not so improbable possibility of intersection with other phase-epochs, it continues within certain confines that beings within that trajectory experience as their history, as causality [quasi], determinism [macro-level, partially], as the necessities of their world, their [phase-epoch of the] universe

From the previous paragraphs we may say, metaphorically, that time closes upon itself, returns to zero. What is the significance? Can history be changed? No, history is not changed. It is not clear that history has significance from the perspective of the one infinite universe. However, at least metaphorically, we may say history begins again or, from indeterminism, history begins afresh… In virtue of the infinite historical possibility “starting from nothingness,” the metaphor of thinking that [the same] history begins again is limited. Consider the extremes: a world in which finite beings live and die without a memory before birth or that continues beyond death; and extinction of all being, knowledge and memory in the phase of nothingness. Between the two memory-less extremes, there is the following possibility: the emergence of being that encompasses more than one individual – e.g. as experienced by individuals limited by birth, death and their immediate existence – and so contains awareness from one being to another or from one life to another; since this is possible, it is also necessary

These considerations show the identity of two identical individuals in different places and times to be connected since the identities of all individuals are connected

Certain dynamics would be selected out. Zero order “dynamics” would be static and therefore absolutely stable – there would be no becoming or evolution at all! Second order dynamics seems adequate to the variety of everyday – e.g. deterministic and causal phase-epochs; force and mass – processes of this world; first order dynamics is inadequate. Why, when or how would second order dynamics be generated and selected. Reflection on the origin of force and mass and other aspects phase-epochs of the universe similar to ours is needed; reflection on other / higher order dynamics is needed

In this way it can be seen how the following originate:

Quasi-causal and quasi-deterministic dynamics; these are continuations of the original myriad ever present eruptions from nothingness to beyond the seeding of a phase-epoch of the universe

Quantum type dynamics. The word “type” is used because, clearly, the foregoing will not necessarily set quantum mechanics; and, certainly, it will not set our universe as it is. However, since there is only one universe and by equivalence to nothingness it is equivalent – must contain – all possible universes, the foregoing may set the universal mechanics which will reduce in special circumstances to quantum mechanics. Note that quantum theory is neither deterministic nor fully causal but is capable of yielding phase-epochs of structure, determinism and causation

Additionally, the discussion provides for the original interaction between the basic processes [indeterministic, a-causal] and relationships [process, structure or space-time] and, thus, in an phase-epoch of the universe of integration of quantum, space-time-matter phenomena

Mind: considerations on the origin of “subjective experience.” Given the argument on the equivalence of nothingness to [all] being, there is no necessity for subjective experience or even the elements of subjective experience to be present at the same time as the origin of “matter.” In principle, of course, from the equivalence, the primitive elements of experience are present; but this is not dynamic or explanatory; the primitive elements of experience need not be present[26]. However, practically, given that the original elements rapidly form and stabilize in explanation of the origin of our phase-epoch, it follows that the primitive elements of experience are likely present near origins. Rationally and practically, however, it is not impossible that further elements necessary for experience originate and are selected later. Similar comments apply to life and this puts me in the uncomfortable position of seeming that I am a vitalist. However, I am not an essential vitalist or an essential “mentalist” or, as I reflect, an essential materialist. However, I am not an anti-essentialist with regard to vitalism, mentalism or materialism. While I agree that the modern science relegates vitalism to the scrap books of history, I am not against the possibility that some new evidence or conceptual analysis should resuscitate vital elements. If that happens, I expect that it will occur in the following way: the understanding of mind or of life will not require some new substance but, rather, will shed light on the nature of matter

Time / mind: above, I discussed fundamental time. A variety of conceptual times [physical and psychological] may be introduced with application that is local in terms of place, kind of phenomenon, and kind of understanding. However, all such times are founded in fundamental time. As noted, fundamental time is not effectively a single time; but in some phase-epochs of the universe [that may, in everyday use, be referred to as a universe or the universe] there may be, effectively for some purposes, a single time. In the latter case, all specialized times are based in, measured or driven by fundamental time; and thus, in the given case of a specific phase-epoch and the restricted purposes, there is effectively one time

Note: I have long maintained and written elsewhere that materialism or physicalism, for example, is not a definite philosophical position. To be a definite position, the elements of being would have to be reducible to the physics of the current era. This but this would mean that the materialism of today is quite a different position than the materialism of the era of classical physics or of antiquity. Further, it is quite possible that at some future point there will be no distinction between materialism and mentalism

3.9         Reflections on the Approach to Co-Origins

The purpose, here, is to provide a set of descriptive principles adequate to explain the origin, evolution and variety of the universe; repeated application will show deficiencies, redundancies and hone the set of principles

The paradigm, variation and selection, may be applied to the origin of the present phase-epoch of the universe from nothingness, to evolution of physical sub-universes, to the phase-epoch of the universe as we know it, to planetary systems, to life… Further, we have seen that in the one universe, all possibilities “are” actualized; all forms within LOGOS are realized; further, variation and selection is the efficient but not necessary “mechanism” of selection – mechanism is not necessary. This could be called The Principle of Becoming

So, the essential elements of the approach are The Principles of Identity and of Becoming. The actual execution was guided by the quantum and the relativity theories and an understanding of mind

Thought and action follow the universal paradigm – variation and selection – for change and with elaboration include hypothesis and test, the scientific method or approach, the Socratic Method or approach

3.10     Structure

The following additional principles provide understanding

Symmetry and Equilibrium

3.11     Anthropic Principles as Examples of the Transcendental Method

The anthropic principles are made trivial by the transcendental method applied to the void or nothingness… to something

Quoting from Barrow and Tipler[27]

“The Weak Anthropic Principle: The observed values of all physical and cosmological qualities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon­-based life can evolve and that the Universe be old enough for it to have already done so”

I.e. there are many phase-epochs in which the relative probability of supporting life of our kind would be very small

“The Strong Anthropic Principle: The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history”

In these quotations, Universe is used in the sense of phase-epoch

The Universe does have those properties and, since there is only one universe, to say that it must allow life to develop has no meaning. However, it is false that every phase-epoch has those properties. And, by the logic developed earlier, there must be other phase-epochs where our kind of life develops. The foregoing statement is imprecise in that the universe is not in time; if we view the universe as a space-time manifold – it will not be connected and though phase-epochs may have a single dominant time, the universe itself will not – we could say of that manifold that there are infinitely many phase-epochs that have, not only our kind of life, but also circumstances infinitesimally close to if not exactly the same as ours. What is the fraction of phase epochs that have life at some point in their history? The answer is not known – rather, I should say that I do not know and not because someone else does but because I do not know of anyone who is thinking along the present lines of thought. I would speculate that the fraction is small but all that I can currently say with any degree of confidence is that it is not 0 or 1

4           MIND

This section and the next two on cosmology and ethics are classic topics in metaphysics

4.1         Mind and Metaphysics

4.1.1        What is Mind?

What is mind and what is its essence or essential characteristic – and is there such a characteristic[28]? Mind appears to be intangible; mind is often spoken of as though it is something definite even if / though we do not know precisely what it is. However, is mind given a priori as concept or object; and is there any gain in a restriction to or aiming toward a specific concept [characteristic or set of characteristics] and object?

There is, for example, a point of view in which mind is distributed throughout the body and the common experience of mind that is located, at least primarily, in the brain is the dominant aspect of mind, the most immediate in virtue of the brightness of its consciousness; and there is an extension of this point of view in which mind is everywhere [this is not the same as saying that it is everything.] Such points of view will not be adopted here a priori – see Unconscious Mental Processes for a hypothetical point of view. However, there will be no a priori specification of what mind is, of an essential characteristic or a set of characteristics. Given the history of the study of mind, it appears that mind is a slack concept; i.e. there may be no gain in reality or in function from a precise specification – and this is precisely because there may be no reality to a precise specification. I.e., there is no reality in a precise boundary between mind and not-mind; and there is no real clarity to having a single precise characteristic or set of characteristics that define mind. This ties in with the considerations in Mind / body

The claim that mind is a slack concept will be further elaborated and justified in what follows. The concepts of the functions – the classical functions are cognition, emotion and drive – also have slack; this, too, will be justified even though, in principle, whereas mind is not limited to the known forms i.e. life[29] on earth, the classical functions, especially emotion and drive, may be much more specific in the range of their occurrence. However, it appears probable that any sufficiently complex life form that is adapted to a limited environment will have some kind of cognition and something like emotion; a justification of this claim may be based in the concept of bound and free functions or elements defined in what follows

As discussed in Existence, matter is also a slack concept despite the seeming definiteness and concreteness

However, discussion of mind must start at some place; and the discussion itself, if it is to be as fruitful as possible, should be as precise as the circumstances permit

4.1.2        The Fundamental Role of Experience or Feeling

“Experience” has more than one meaning but it is being used, here, to refer to subjectivity, to being aware, to consciousness, to phenomenality, to having feeling. A rose would reflect light of a certain wavelength and an organism might receive and react to the light but it is in experience that the rose is red. Without experience there might be reference but not sense – if reference and sense could be separate e.g. if the relation between sense and reference is unlike the relation between the effect of an electron on a proton and perturbation of the electron whose manifestation is the emanation of the effect. An individual would only behave as though his or her life mattered. It is in experience that one has the feeling of being alive, that life has meaning or is absurd. Through experience we are present to the universe and, through life, at least, the universe is present to itself. It is through feeling that I can be in love, enjoy a sunset, thrill to a storm and not merely behave as though I am in love or having enjoyment or thrill. Without experience, it would not have mattered whether I had lived; and it is the experience of anticipation of and hope for later experience that is constitutive of wanting to live

Without experience, there is no presence to, no significance – the universe “might as well as have not been.” As discussed in Mind / body, this is not reductionist, not centered on the being of humankind or of life but is a manifestation at a high level of the relatedness at the root of being, of those entities that we think of as most material. Being conscious is: being embedded in – separate from yet one with, part of the fabric of – a universe of presence

[Here, I am pointing to the fundamental role of experience; further elaboration and foundation will be given later e.g. in Mind / body]

It would be myopic to say that experience is definitive of mind or that it is the essential characteristic but, from the section What is Mind? that is not necessary or helpful. However, experience is essentially mental and fundamental to life having quality

Self-consciousness or awareness of awareness is sometimes has been thought to be necessary for true consciousness[30]. The absolute character of such claims or their refutations is not clear. However, consciousness of consciousness – when consciousness became self-conscious was a significant turning point in the growth of intelligence, of design, of acuity of awareness, of presence. Self-consciousness marked the origin of meaning or – at least – new levels and sharpness to meaning, the ability to deploy mind and intelligence in new ways; ways that include improved function and ways, in the human case, that are especially human[31]

Awareness of awareness [consciousness of consciousness] is, on some accounts, necessary for language for higher / abstract concepts and makes it possible, therefore, to have conceptual knowledge that is expressed in language. Additionally, awareness of awareness is at least a large part of what makes it possible to have a concept of and talk about mind. And, through use of language and communication in heightening understanding and awareness of consciousness, it may contribute indirectly to the fact that consciousness may seem [to some writers] as though it is a function of language or of society. Tautologically, awareness of awareness is necessary to be aware of awareness; and this may be what makes it seem as though consciousness is an on-off phenomenon. In elaboration, note that for consciousness to be on-off it is not sufficient that it be either “zero” or “not zero” but “zero” or “one.” However, it is possible for consciousness to be “zero” or “not-zero” and for consciousness of consciousness to be “zero” or “one.” The presence or possibility of awareness of awareness may be one way to distinguish simulation of awareness from awareness. Resolution of these issues may require a unified or analytic theory of experience

The dimensions of the mental have been characterized as experience, attitude and action. However, real attitude and real action are characterized by the ability to be conscious about those activities. There is another concept of consciousness, a-consciousness that is contrasted with phenomenal consciousness. A-consciousness is awareness – whether phenomenal or not – that is available for action. It is not clear that the two “concepts of consciousness” are equivalent but there are arguments to that effect. My view regarding a-consciousness should be clear from what I have written: a-consciousness is or may be a useful idea but it is not – and should not be referred to as – consciousness at all

Thus, while it is not taken as defining mind, experience is at the core of what is considered to be mental; furthermore, it is a good starting place for an exploration of mind. For example, it has been said that something that is mental is unconscious only if it could become conscious. There is merit to this idea and its appeal is enhanced when it is allowed that, in addition to content, forms of perception – for example the intuition of space and time – are also in consciousness

In the materialist paradigm – materialism and its various manifestations such as physicalism and behaviorism – the difficulty of reducing mind to matter i.e. to showing how mind is a manifestation of material processes makes it difficult to see how a commonsense belief that mind has effects in the material world could be true. It has therefore been said that consciousness is epiphenomenal i.e. it is present along with the phenomena but it has no effect on in the [material] world. This view called epiphenomenalism. The arguments in Mind / body void the kind of radical materialism that is the basis of epiphenomenalism. There it is shown that mind and body are not distinct objects but different and complementary ways of talking about the same object

As a consequence, it is somewhat inaccurate to talk of the role of consciousness or experience. In the material mode of description, it may indeed be felt that mind or awareness are – as in the popular analogy, like the foam at the crest of the wave – carried along with but without any effect on matter and its processes. In the other mode of description, the mental, consciousness is both cause and effect in relation to the world

4.1.3        Unconscious Mental Processes [32]

It has been claimed that all mental processes are either conscious or potentially conscious. If true, this would make consciousness truly central. Here are some reflections that lend credence to the thought that all unconscious mental processes are accessible in consciousness even if not actually accessed

The structure of consciousness includes this: multiple objects of experience with some at the center and others at the edge or periphery. Alternate metaphors to center / edge are fore / background and bright / dim

Something from the edge may come to central focus in at least two characteristic ways: change in mindset that is a part of scanning and heightened stimulus from the periphery. When something from the periphery enters central focus, I often notice that I had been aware of it. Events at the periphery stay only in volatile memory and unless they enter into central focus they are, mostly, never accessed again by consciousness – with the result there is much actually conscious processing that is effectively unconscious. This raises a point about the nature of short term memory – whether it is the weakness of recording of events or whether, instead, it is the weakness of the associations that make conscious access improbable; in the latter case, though not accessed they are not inaccessible and some appropriate stimulus to the associative complex – an event, a heightened state of awareness e.g. associative flow, a micro-probe – may bring the weakly associated but not necessarily weakly recorded event into conscious recollection. And example might be having a dream, recollecting the details upon awakening, later experiencing the details as ‘forgotten’ because one remembers the contour of the dream and the fact that there were details but not the details themselves and then, even later – perhaps much later, recalling the dream and some of its ‘forgotten’ details in a dream-like reverie… in a state of relaxed attention in which stream of awareness is allowed to flow… on the border between dream-sleep and wakening

A second reflection arises in the case of blindsight which is [may be] a result of brain damage and in which individuals are able to respond to phenomena in the visual field even though they report being unaware of the phenomena. Visual stimuli are apparently transmitted by a second pathway which remains available when the primary pathway is damaged. A question that arises is whether the result of the stimulus is truly unconscious or whether the subjective phenomena that result from the second pathway are not in recognizable form – and therefore not easily reportable form even if conscious. This argument also has relevance for the way in which an event at the edge of consciousness enters the center. To what extent is this due to the event becoming more recognizable rather than, as it may appear in commonsense, due to entering the center?

Finally, on account of the slack character of the concept of mind, as discussed above, there is arbitrariness regarding the boundaries between mind and not-mind. Thus, although certain autonomic processes are commonly thought of as mental even when not conscious, it is not necessary – even though it is permissible – to consider these processes to be mental. Which body processes are mental? Literally, none are; the mental and material are different modes of description: body process X is mental is a metaphor for “there is a mental process that is the necessary descriptive correlate of body process X

In considering unconscious processes, the idea that experience is fundamental to the concept of mind has been tightened. Experience is mental and anything that can be accessed in experience is mental. A material description that the is material side of an experience or potential experience is mental [the use is metaphorical but that is not a problem.] Consider a non-conscious process that it is tempting to call mental. An example would be: reflecting on a problem, setting aside the problem and, later, after a period of “incubation,” having the sketch of a solution appear in consciousness. Are all of the processes involved in the incubation mental? It is certainly tempting to say that they are. However, that cannot be positivelly asserted because there is no criterion to do so. It is because, even though the idea of what is mental has been tightened, the boundaries have become clearer, they are not yet perfectly clear. Theoretically, this may be uncomfortable but, as pointed out, there is no reason for discomfort because the idea of mind as an object with a precise boundary that is waiting to be discovered is an illusion. Practically, also, there is no issue because the practical side of the theoretical statement is that the tools to deal with mind are also limited in precision to a degree that corresponds to the lack of precision to object boundaries. In an attempt to achieve clarity, other notions are introduced or have been in the picture from the beginning of even informal thought about mind – an example is intensionality. Such ideas are practically useful – at least potentially – as further clarifying boundaries and providing further understanding but a lack of final precision regarding boundaries and in the mesh of the different notions remains and, as noted, this is, from the proper perspective, a good thing

It could be said that the brain and the mental processes are causally connected but the use of cause here would be somewhat different than in the sense “the force caused the motion.” In the latter sense the cause causes the effect. But, in the relation between brain and mind neither is cause[33] and neither is effect; therefore, this variant use of cause might be confusing. The relation sought is close to identity and identity is thought to be distinct from cause; but it would just be a variant meaning of cause. This paragraph might be thought to be an unnecessary diversion; the reason for its inclusion is that cause has been used in just the sense of brain and mind as mutually causal [actually, the sense used is of brain causing mind but I think that mutual causation is more rational] but I am not going to use cause in this sense [I might do so later] because of the possibility of confusion

Consider the question, “Are there mental processes in the body?” According to the metaphorical use, the answer is yes for perception and thought are necessarily connected to certain brain processes. But, now consider an extremity and ask, “Are there mental processes in a limb?” Well, there are nerves in limbs so would the transmission of nerve impulses count as mental? The answer has already been given, “Affirmation or denial is not significant, but if there are necessary and identifiable mental correlates of nerve transmission it may be said that there are mental processes in the limb.” But what of the bodily processes going on in the limb that are not primarily nerve transmission? In order to reflect on this consider a lower organism. In anticipation of the discussion in Mind / body, note that there are processes in all organisms that are about the environment. If not acutely mental in the way bright human consciousness has it, the aboutness of the lower organism is a primitive of experience; just in the way that particle interactions are primitives of experience. The assumption behind this is stated in Mind / body; it is that the particle description or suitable generalization is complete from the material side of description. The light of the “consciousness” in the limbs pales in comparison to bright human consciousness. This “light” is separate from nerve transmission and is not in contradiction of the fact that the brain maps the entire body; it is a separate and local occurrence. Thus the body can be seen as a distribution of mind in various levels of partial integration. This entire paragraph may be regarded as metaphorical or as fantasy but it has a purpose. First, the assertions cannot be logically ruled out; further, the language is sufficiently general to not be un-real. Second, the idea of separate centers of mind distributed in the body is not different from the idea of mind in a lower organism. And, finally, these thoughts are preliminary to the possible development of a theory, or variants of a theory, to be taken up as an experiment in Experiments in the Transformation of Being, which shows how to see and / or obtain the state of being in which, as an individual is an integration of centers of experience, all centers of experience in the universe are constituent of single being

4.1.4        Unconscious Mental Processes and the Body

From the previous section it is concluded that:

The interaction or relation between the [conscious] mind and the body is unconscious to a significant degree. Further, for many body process that do not correspond to conscious activity the [metaphorical] label mental is optional. There is a sense, developed below, in which all body processes may be labeled mental without loss or gain

4.1.5        Mind / language

How are we to talk about mind? In Symbol and Language, especially the section Analytic or Linguistic Philosophy, it was noted that the choice of language is important. There, it was shown how use of the word “mind” encourages thinking about mind as an object that is distinct from matter; perhaps we should not talk of mind but only of experience, the functions, and the processes of mind

Talk of mind as an object also encourages the idea of separateness and private experience. See the sections cited for further discussion. The arguments there do not imply that one can read another’s mind; rather, it is not necessary to read the minds of others’ – there is a phase of common experience that requires no further analysis. Thus there are inroads into the idea of absolute boundaries between minds – just as, below, it is seen that the concept of “object” is an approximation

4.1.6        Mind / body

If the fundamental science of matter – physics – were sufficiently complete that a description of objects / bodies as physical objects would determine all mental aspects of the object in question, an explanation of the manifestation of mind in matter might go as in the following

It would not be necessary to explain the phenomenon of behavior which is the description of the organism as a material entity. This is not to say that the details of behavior would not be part of a scientific enterprise; the explanation would likely not be directly from the atomic level but indirectly through intermediate levels of detail

What is necessary is an explanation of conscious experience. The explanation is, in principle, simple. From the assumption of the sufficient completeness of physics, experience must follow from the particle level. Experience has the characteristic of being about something– the about-ness is also called intensionality; in the case of attitude it is about the world and for action it is about the action of the organism; and in the case of pure experience which does not seem to necessarily be about anything we can say, metaphorically, that the mind is idling while being potentially about something, ready to be about something, processing in a way that gives it the potential to be about something. Particles have interactions. The interaction emanates [literally in the quantum theory] from the particle. In the complex organization of the organism the combination of the many interactions, including feedback, results in the about-ness just discussed. Arguing in the reverse direction from mind to particle, the interaction is the low level phenomenon that at the high level is experience. It is quite possible that although I am taking the particle-field literally, the application to the discussion of mind should be metaphorical

Thus the elements of mind are present at the particle level. This is not pan-psychism which says that mind itself pervades all being. It is not being said that the particles do or do not have experience; rather it may be said that they have the precursors to experience

The position may be put in another way. The distinction mind / body or mind / matter as a distinction between distinct objects or substances is a false distinction. The distinction does not exist. Rather mind / matter are different modes of description of the same object; in the material mode one describes a trajectory, in the subjective mental mode one is describing interaction at a high level of organization. Mind / matter are complementary modes of description of the same object which is the being-in-the-world

If / when physics is sufficiently complete it will be a science of mind as much as of matter; not because mind is reduced to matter but because the elements of mind and of matter are not ultimately distinct

Is current physics sufficiently complete in the sense used above? Here are some ways in which physics may be incomplete. Referring forward to Cosmology, the universe may be irreducible to elementary particles and fields; it may be that as a result of the seeding process described there, that the present phase-epoch of the universe is atomistic whereas the entire universe is not. In that case, mind may be fundamentally something that is, though contained in ultimate physics, not reducible to atomistic terms. However, it appears reasonable though not certain that mind as it is known to us [human mind, animal mind] is an expression of atomistic physics – even if current physics is not quite up to the task perhaps some modification of it that retains the particle / field description will complete the task. In that case we could talk of mind at two levels, the higher level as manifested and as experienced by animals and the elementary level as the elementary material interactions. This is not problematic so long as the two levels are not confused. Especially, the low level interactions should not be thought to have high level properties – it should not be thought that electrons are conscious in the way that animals experience consciousness and so on. It is convenient to talk of mind; however, such talk is metaphorical for it is not known that there is anything better than the mental mode and the material modes of description. The metaphor may be used as long as it does not lead to error. Consider some material phenomenon that appears to be a borderline case of animal mind; by this I mean high level mind and this is the sense in use for the remainder of this paragraph. An example is the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. Another example is the process of perception; light from an object strikes the retina and nerve impulses travel the optic nerve and are then processed and the animal “sees” the object. The seeing is clearly mental; but at what stage of the processing, starting with the photochemical processes in the retina does the material processing become [also] mental? Well, literally, the material processing is never mental because the mental is a way of description as is the material. Where – at what stage, in the metaphorical language, does the material processing become mental? Or, literally at what stage is a mental description possible? We have seen that there is an indefiniteness to the answer and that, theoretically, the indefiniteness is good while, practically it reflects that even if the instruments of understanding are capable of precision, actual practice does not exceed the actual precision. This, too, is a good thing: to the extent that the world is not “tight” as in fantasies of precision, the acknowledged lack of precision is most realistic; and to the extent that practice falls short of reality, the path of understanding remains and is acknowledged as open

The discussion of this section is a resolution of the mind-body problem which does not explain away the idea of mind and which, in a c. 2000 version is sometimes referred to the explanatory gap between mind and body and in one specialized version “the hard problem of consciousness.” The other mind-body problem, that of the relationships between the structure and function of mind and the structure and function of the body, remains as a project in psychology and science. Psychology, the study of the structure and function of mind in itself, a project in its own right, is a prerequisite to the scientific aspect of the mind-body problem; see Mind and subsequent sections.        There is a common distinction, approximately c. 1800 – c. 2000, between the phenomenal or experiential and the psychological concepts of mind; the latter concept is variously described as the study of behavior and is about mind, if at all, only in so far as there is an internal basis of behavior; and as the study of the representation and processing of information by the organism. Here, while there are clearly two sides to psychology, I do not make, use or need the distinction or think that there is any value to a rigid compartmentalization; and, further, I do not use the term “psychology” much

4.1.7        Mind / body: summary and consolidation of philosophical conclusions

As concepts, mind and matter are not definite

This is true, and the learning that follows from it, next, and intertransformability and inversion of meaning of ontologies by, e.g., minor change in wording or shift in emphasis or interpretation from, e.g., the objective to subjective side of experience applies, generally speaking, to all of categorial ontology

Essentially “mind,” “matter” refer to distinct modes of description of the same object that become reified; such reification is permissible when it does not result in error, primarily – as in Cartesianism – thinking that reference is always to distinct objects

This leads to resolution of the mind-body problem: mind-as-we-experience-it and matter [the latest version] do not refer to distinct objects; and at root, elementary mind and elementary matter are the same mode of description… with a distinction at that level encouraged by thinking, for example, of matter as essentially comprised of particles and omitting interactions as essential

Lingering doubt may remain about the mind-body problem. How can matter that has no mental properties manifest as mind? It has been shown that matter does not have no mental properties since, at the elementary level, the two modes of description are the same mode. The problem may sometimes be posed, “there is nothing in physics that refers to mind so I do not see how physics could give rise to my consciousness.” There are a number of errors in this formulation. First, matter does not give rise to consciousness in the sense of consciousness being something over and above matter. Second, this statement of the problem includes the problem as stated in the second sentence of this paragraph and has the same resolution as the earlier statement. Finally, physics does not give rise to or manifest as anything mental: it is matter that plays that role while physical theories may result in mental explanation. This point is not part of the resolution of the mind-body problem; rather I bring it up as one way in which the mind-body gap may appear to be inflated: it seems to me that sometimes the transition between description in material terms and description in mental terms is sometimes inflated to a gap between material description and mental actuality as in, “How can physical explanation give rise to my consciousness.” This is analogous to the fact that while water molecules in interaction manifest in the wetness of water while physics provides an explanation of wetness but not the wetness itself

In consequence of these arguments, it appears that the terms “mind” and “matter” are sufficient to the issues at hand and introduction of some additional concept or substance is unnecessary [the possibility of a third substance was entertained in the Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness; the present considerations, consolidated in Journey in Being: Foundation, show a new substance to be unnecessary]

4.1.8        Mind / body in science

The study of mind as such and of its functions is intrinsically important and is not supplanted by the material level. Generally, all levels and modes of study are independently significant and mutually informing

The following are valid objects of study: mind and its elements and functions; brain anatomy at various levels of detail including biochemistry, cellular and the organs and their integration; various matter levels – molecular and quantum theoretic… the co-existence of structure and indeterminism in quantum theory is one reason for its significance in study of mind

4.1.9        Noumenon and Phenomenon

The argument provides one approach to the issue of the divide between the appearance and the thing-in-itself

The phenomena are [manifestations of] relationships

But, the relationships are things-in-themselves

It is true that the perceived object is not the thing-in-itself but it is so close as to suggest that a reconceptualization of the noumenon can render it in perception. An argument along the lines, “Perception is a phase of the mutually sustaining elements of world,” is conceivable

4.1.10    Origins of Ideas

What is the origin of a new idea? How does that come about? It will be useful to give an outline explanation based on the mind / body discussion

The explanation follows the general pattern of the origin of what is essentially new in Becoming

Perhaps most ideas are combinations of old ideas. However, on account of the large number of simple ideas, mechanical recombination would be an impossible approach to novel combinations. Additionally, there must be essentially new ideas. This follows since at the time of the origin of the earth there were no ideas – on earth – at all. The mechanism of essentially new ideas is similar to the mechanism of novel combinations. The fundamental particle processes are not deterministic. It is possible that mind has evolved so that its processes include capture and magnification of primitive indeterministic events and / or indeterministic events at higher, say cellular, levels and / or perhaps even levels up to that of the body [brain] as a whole. Such events enter the general processing of mind and generate elements of new ideas which are then selected for in various ways and at various levels

The discussion requires elaboration but is correct in principle

The discussion shows the one reason for the attractiveness of quantum over classical physics in the understanding of mental processes; and by the same reasoning the attractiveness of quantum physics in understanding the origins of, at least, the present phase-epoch of the universe and of life. Of course, the quantum or similar theory will be one element in the understanding and will not replace cosmology and biology

A standard argument against the generation of new structure by indeterministic processes: randomness can not lead to structure. The response is that randomness does not lead to structure by itself. Indeterministic process is change and those changes that lead to stable structures are selected

In the case of biological evolution, large scale change is brought about incrementally and it is this that makes change possible. It might still be argued that the outcome of evolution is unlikely; however, the outcome is not given in advance and it is only from the original perspective that the outcome is unlikely. However, given incremental process of variation and selection, while any particular structure is unlikely the outcome of some structure is not unlikely

In the case of knowledge the outcome is not unlikely because the process of knowledge is guided by reality

4.2         Characterization of Mind[34]

This is a continuation of Mind and is in a separate section to allow elaboration

4.2.1        Purpose of this Section

It is not the initial purpose, in writing down a set of characteristics, to be definitive or final. The description of each characteristic and the related analysis and observation are part of an exploration and the set of characteristics are part of an in-process and, therefore, indefinite and incomplete geography[35] of mind. The process is an interaction between the individual characteristics, the geography and the in-process conceptualizations of mind

4.2.2        A Set of Mental Axes

As noted earlier, the dimensions of the mental have been characterized as a set of mental axes: experience, attitude – which includes intensionality – and action. This set of axes is fundamental in that [1] it includes subjective and objective aspects – see What is Knowledge; experience is the subjective side and [2] the objective side is rationally divided as the perceptive, knowing aspect or attitude and the aspect of affecting the world i.e. action or agency. These two aspects of the objective side are bound together in the [helical] interaction that constitutes intelligent being and intelligent action. The fundamental nature of experience was seen above where it was noted that experience / attitude-action are not distinct but are different modes of description of the same object which is the being-in-the-world

4.2.3        Mind / Being

From the discussion of mental axes, a fundamental description of mind can be given by understanding its place in being or, more accurately, in being-in-the-world. We might imagine a separation into being / in-the-world. The being “side” then corresponds to experience and the “in-the-world” side to presence and participation i.e. attitude and action. As we have seen, presence and participation are bound together – in fact, my use of presence elsewhere implicitly includes participation; and the “being” and “in-the-world” sides are distinct modes of description of the same “object.” Experience colors presence and participation; and experience by itself – pure experience – is an aspect of being at rest, only immediately separated but not potentially separate from the world. Further, as noted earlier, although not all cases of pure experience are immediately or actually functional the ability to have pure experience is materially functional – apart from its role in regeneration and making possible or, at least enriching an inner life. The source of material or in-the-world functionality is the role in creation and imagination that is also enriching

4.2.4        Key Characterizations

Subjectivity – having experience, conscious awareness, being present

Intensionality – being about the world – this follows from function i.e. adaptation

Adaptability – this may be called an internalization of the processes of evolution

Intelligence, especially formal-symbolic and intuitive intelligence i.e. mind is a priori / through evolution and a posteriori / through learning, attuned to certain forms of the world: causality, continuity, objecthood, time-space, identity of the self

Does the world imprint the mind or does the mind project structure to the world? Both – the intuition has a priori and a posteriori aspects. Importantly, both aspects are incomplete, approximate; this is to be expected since both aspects are based in a limited environment and system of phenomena. Thus intuition embeds the organism in the world; but not perfectly – just adequately. The formal or symbolic is able to overcome the limits of intuition – the degree to which this is possible is open – but, apparently, at a cost: loss of embedding in the world… it is the story of the forbidden fruit. However, the symbol is, also, an intuitive capability though at a simpler level

4.2.5        Relation to Environment

This topic occurs earlier through various discussions and through the words: attitude / intensionality and action, subject / object, adaptation

Here, I want to point out that evolution may be thought of as internalization of the environment in the organism; replication is a key element in the origin and the expression of this internalization. Mind, intelligence may be seen as the internalization of presence and adaptability itself i.e. mind includes adaptability which is the internalization or adaptation of adaptation. The process is variation and selection; however, the presence of levels of mind above the most primitive also conditions the direction of evolution; and makes it possible for the intelligence of the organism – with anticipation of experience constituting motivation – to affect its own evolution. It would be an overstatement to say, in the case of human beings and human society, that the organism designs its evolution but it is true to say that design becomes an element in the processes of variation and selection

4.2.6        Creation

The creation of new knowledge: internalization and elaboration of the creative element of evolution [see Becoming]… and, consequently, creation and construction of being… through the classic process of variation from given structure [including the indeterministic, unpredictable element] and selection and, through repetition, building structure upon structure, and, so, knowledge upon knowledge and being upon being

4.2.7        A Unified Theory of the Functions of Mind

This section was originally titled A Unified Theory of the Faculties of Mind but was changed because “faculties” has the connotation of hermetic compartments or special organs for each faculty or function such as emotion, perception and so on

The topic is generalized and taken up next

4.3         Dimensions of Mind / Being: Introduction

4.3.1        Indefiniteness of Concepts

In the forward motion of understanding, many ideas may require revision. When focusing on one idea, it is easy to revert to old habits in relation to others. Therefore, it will be useful to remember the earlier discussions regarding concepts in general and, especially, concepts regarding mind

This discussion on the indefiniteness of concepts does not imply that definiteness and precision does not exist in specific contexts; and the existence of that precision is not an a priori sign of completeness or of definiteness as the context opens up as a result of discovery

It is taken as given, from the discussion of form and process, that there are no absolute elementary objects [particles.] Therefore, there is an essential indefiniteness to all objects and, consequently, to concepts. Examples of such indefiniteness noted earlier include mind and matter. I noted that the boundary mind / not-mind is indefinite and that this was not [merely] a case of ignorance but of essential – even desirable, from the point of view of understanding – indefiniteness

Further indefiniteness arises, especially for compound objects or systems, since object and concept are mutually defining. This includes the case of an object-concept system where shared boundaries of the constituents are indefinite. An example that will be used in the development of the dimensions of mind / being concerns mental functions such as emotion, cognition and drive[36]. All that is said in the rest of this paragraph is approximate but that is inherent in the generic concept of object-concept; at the same time it is treated, here, as a “toy” theory that is used primarily to illustrate indefiniteness in concept and object; the theory is chosen as an example but also because it will be used later as an approach to a full theory in which, so far as it is possible, foundation is of concern. An approach to clarification of the mental functions is to ask whether the functions are interactive combinations of simpler mental processes and states such as “feeling” which I will use as follows. I feel simple sadness or joy. Here, simple refers to the root feeling: even if this is a simplification, the outcome of this discussion is not affected. I also feel something brush against my skin. Thus, I am using “feel” to refer to internal and external sensations. I do not usually say that I feel the color red but, here, I expand the use of feeling to include all simple sensations – so as to have a single word that refers to cover all simple internal feelings and external feelings and sensations; this includes, in their simple form, the emotional feelings – simple sadness and so on, sensations of body processes and states, kinesthesia, the “five” senses [five + the senses of heat, cold, pressure, pain, and equilibrium…] and this implies an extended use for “sensory / perceptual modalities.” The visual perception of an object is an integrated combination of a number of primitive feelings: color, extent [size], shape; and the perception of an object is an integrated combination of the various perceptual modalities of vision, sound and so on. Simple imagination is feeling in the absence of an object. The capacity for imagination is the capacity to have imagination. Imagination occurs through construction and association [memory.] Thought is imagination – perhaps directed imagination. Thought is both iconic and symbolic, and includes language that was originally communicative of simple feeling – probably of more than one kind e.g. expression, urge to action and so on – but is also capable of being imagined and thought and thereby gains in power as an expressive, communicative and constructive instrument. I.e. expressive of experience; communicative of experience, query, urge to action and so on; and constructive of representation of the ‘natural’ world and creation of a cultural world; and then to greater power of experience itself. Language is, probably, originally contextual; and it is from its contextual nature that language can be linear and yet powerful; but, in abstraction from context language derives another power. Thought in language is sometimes experienced, simply, as language even though it is more accurate to say it is experienced as an aspect of language. Emotion is a simple feeling such as joy or thrill or simple sadness whose trajectory continues in interaction with perception and thought, for which intensity is a significant dimension, and whose quality is affected by association through memory or through thought with other emotion [feeling;] thus, emotions can be much more complex than simple feeling; and even though the formal properties of thought may be considered in isolation, thought and intensity of feeling do not occur in isolation. A drive is a feeling or sensation that has a positive / negative polarity and is associated with knowledge, explicit or tacit, of conditions that alter the feeling in the direction from negative to positive. Perhaps the definition of drive could be modified: a continuum of feeling with tacit or explicit knowledge of the conditions that result in feeling at any point on the continuum. The object of the drive is normally the presence / absence of a negative / positive object. Example: for hunger, the positive feeling is satiation and the positive object is food. Is a drive innate? In so far as the feeling is not conditioned and the knowledge is not explicit. The natures of drive and emotion are not perfectly clear – but see the next paragraph. Is a drive an emotion – is hunger an emotion? No, but there is overlap. What is the role of concepts in perception? Is thought as characterized, the integrated combination of simple elements or is it holistic? Is the boundary between emotion and thought sharp or defined? No; further, knowledge of underlying physiology helps type and clarify issues but not to the point of perfect sharpness

In view of the dual indefiniteness of concept and object, how can anything ever be truly known? This goes back to the observation that knowing has no final or absolute anchor because that would have to be outside the world – but there is nothing outside the world. The answer to the question, here, is not a foundation of knowledge in simpler things such as empirical knowledge – the purpose here is understanding and not foundation. The answer is in the use of knowledge, concepts [which necessarily involve how the concepts are used even if only implicitly; and note that this how is nothing other than, perhaps informal and implicit, theory] which necessarily involves prediction, comparison of prediction with actuality, and correction. Indefiniteness is welcomed in view of the fact that it is essential. However, since the extent of the indefiniteness itself is not known and since real knowledge is useful and centering, there is a healthy anxiety for or drive toward clarification, knowing and understanding

4.3.2        Example: Humor and Emotion

This discussion of humor and emotion further illustrates the indefiniteness of concepts – especially mental concepts. Additionally, the example will be useful later. Along the way we encounter a limit to the idea of endless horizons of knowledge. This supplements the ethical limits, considered later, to what constitutes knowledge

What is humor? Here are some preliminary observations. Mirth and laughter are expressions of humor. Laughter and crying are – physiologically – similar. Intense laughter sometimes merges into crying. Crying may result from sadness, pain; and from beauty – perhaps beauty is a reminder of what is absent. Physiologically and conceptually emotions overlap; are not hermetic compartments. Explanations and kinds of explanation of humor include, superiority theory, incongruity theory, release theory, machine theory, biological / evolutionary explanations, psychodynamic theories [as expression of taboo wishes etc.,] typological theories [is humor an emotion?] and anecdotal explanation [by example; and to test the theories…] I have given these examples without citation of sources as a kind of explanation from which I intend to move away: the idea that a function has a specific reference or kind of reference or that some specific biological activity associated with a function defines the function; I want to avoid the modern academic tendency to call a correlate or partial mechanism a ‘theory,’ to be impatient in formulating explanations, to serve the explainer and not the explanation, the interminable and recursive cataloging of recorded explanations destined to collapse under its own weight unless checked – I want to match precision of concept with definitiveness of object and it is easy, under the impetus of the particular explanation to mistake apparent precision of concept for definitiveness of object

In seeking a single explanation or theory, it is not necessary to incorporate everything that has been said. This is not necessary for some suggestions or associations may be eliminated as unnecessary others incorporated with another concept in the field of relevant concepts e.g. about mind. Applying this thought to the history of ideas and knowledge, we see an example of the non-cumulative nature of knowledge; not every knowledge claim is, even, information

How might the explanatory system be given unity? The diversity of explanation is characterized by attempts to be definite. This is a difficulty, given the variety of situations in which humor is a response. Consider, instead, the human drive to meaning and coherence; the anticipation and achievement of meaning is associated with positive emotion – beauty, centeredness. However the drive is often frustrated – by human limits, by unanticipated events including accidents, by unrealistic expectations. Responses to this frustration include anger, grieving and humor. Anger may result in acceptance by first escalating the tension; grieving may result in acceptance by living with the tension [sadness.] Anger and grieving may be counterproductive when in excess or when relief is not obtained. Humor, in concept, is acceptance by direct de-escalation of tension; laughter, a physical expression of, e.g. mirth, de-escalates tension; and, perhaps after cultivation, involves the enjoyment of de-escalation. Humor, too, may be inappropriate if the original drive is prematurely aborted. Humor may be cultivated; this is the origin of differences in humor among different cultures; and it is a source of a variety of situations experienced and considered to be humorous including jokes and comedy – these are derivative, are cultured variants and more to be explained by than as contributing to an understanding of humor

4.3.3        Dimensions of Mind / Being: Outline

Character of mind / being; unconscious processes and the body

Functions: states and processes: memory; attitude, action

Extension in time: learning and growth; development of the functions; personality and its development; commitments; the dynamics of being; becoming; local / non-local; arching from the individual / here-now to the universal

4.4         Dimensions of Mind / Being: Foundations

4.4.1        Objectives

Provide a structured [the dimensions] list of the elements – a map – of mind / being

As far as possible, provide a rationale or foundation for the map rather than give, merely, a restatement of the classical functions of mind – cognition, emotion and conation – or a modern version

A convenient place to start is with the classical functions as in the Indefiniteness of Concepts. The approach to foundations will be through criticism of the classical functions. To this end it is useful that the functions in Indefiniteness of Concepts are not particularly structured. Of course, what structure there is to the system of functions – it will be convenient to start with the classical system; note however, that even though the classical terms are being used, here, there is significant re-conceptualization of the ideas – will be considered in the criticism

Before proceeding with actual criticisms, I will mention the common though not universal criticism that – at least some of – the classical functions are based in what is sometimes derisively called “folk psychology,” which is the everyday language – including but not limited to “belief,” “idea,” “hope,” “know,” “see;” and the idea of a connection between mind and behavior – that is used to talk about mind. The point of the critics of this common language is that it has no scientific – neurological or information / computation theoretic – basis, is without foundation, is often wrong and should be abandoned in favor of scientific description. The issue has been debated at much length and, here, I will simply state my view and support it with brief arguments. A first observation is that it is primarily the states and processes of mind that affect behavior rather than the language that is used to describe those states; the primary use of language is in understanding rather than in affecting behavior although there is some effect as when the language channels mental processes and when the language is used to supplement or instead of the mental processes. It is true that the common language that is used to describe mind and the role of mind is often wrong.  However, when it counts, the folk language is as at least as right as necessary for survival. An analogy can be made with physics. The names of many concepts, even in the theoretical physics as practiced today, have origin in common language and these include particle, field, and force. In scientific use, however, the meaning of the words is often significantly different from the common use – this includes shedding of much anthropomorphic content; additionally there are new words that correspond to new concepts. The continuity of language corresponds to a continuity of reality: what is right about common intuitive physics is included in theoretical physics as well as much more; and the continuity of language assists in interpretation and understanding of theoretical physics. The critics of the use of common language have often used examples of discarded concepts from other areas of science. A much repeated example is that of phlogiston [a hypothetical fluid that entered a body as it became warmer] as a discarded concept from physics. However, phlogiston was not a folk concept; rather, it was a scientific concept introduced by scientists that had some degree of explanatory success and was discarded when its limitations were shown up. The implication for psychology is that eliminating common language in its entirety would be a mistake and would result in muteness or incoherence – either there would be nothing to say or what would be said would have no relation to the object of discussion; rather, words and concepts will be retained or discarded on a case by case basis based on merit; the words that are retained may have new meanings and new words and concepts may be introduced. Neurobiology and information / computation theory will not replace psychology but inform and be informed by psychology

Another possible criticism is that the functions as described in Indefiniteness of Concepts are particularly human and therefore not the basis of a system of dimensions of mind. This criticism requires a number of responses. Firstly, the general concept of mind as presented in the present essay is not at all restricted to human mind and is as deep and as extensive as existence. Secondly, Indefiniteness of Concepts did not provide an especially structured view and the elements contained there could be modified according to organism; by varying “parameters” descriptions of classes of organisms could be obtained. Finally, it is the purpose of this part of the development to provide at least some focus on mind as it occurs in animals and human beings; with this end in view, the treatment includes but is not dependent on language. In the discussion that follows, various general distinctions are introduced e.g. bound and free elements of mind; all organisms should have bound elements and higher organisms will have both; in human and similar animals the free elements will have overlap e.g. the basic emotions will be similar but there will be differences due to different social relations and special developments. Thus we expect that basic emotion and cognition will be integrated in all higher organisms – these assertions anticipate arguments that follow – while the variety of subtle emotions will be specific to the species or even, within humankind, to the culture; and, for humans, the variety of emotions will depend upon factors that include culture and language

The criticisms in what follows arose in non-linear fashion but also with consideration given to rationality, universality and mind as an aspect of being

4.4.2        Criticisms of the Classical Functions of Mind

Note that three kinds of explanation are given in response to the criticisms: neurological or biological [including developmental;] evolutionary or adaptive; and intuitive i.e. explanation based in the forms of – e.g. Kantian – intuition i.e. in the forms of feeling-cognition which include emotion, are expressions of the adaptation of the organism to the world that are ‘written’ in the biology of the organism and arise, so far as the organism is concerned, in growth and development and, so far as the species is concerned in selection in the natural and cultural ‘worlds.’ In summary the kinds of explanation are of the body and its environment or bio-ecological; of experience [mind] and its forms [intuition;] and of origins or genesis i.e. of evolution and adaptation which applies to both ecology and experience

Additionally, the following principles of explanation are manifest:

The organism is the result of development; therefore, what is whole in the world must, normally, be whole in experience; this is supplemented by the fact that laying down of memory and processing are not separate operations and remembering is re-creation of previous processing

The kinds of explanation are different aspects of being and becoming

The development of functionality that is later, complex and possessed of a degree of independence of the environment – adaptability of the organism including thought as adaptive or creative – is based in functionality that is earlier, simple and relatively determined; or, simply, free function is based in determined or bound function…

…integration of experience [mind]

The following linearly stated criticisms arose in non-linear fashion and an attempt should be made to view them as an organic whole

1.       Explanation of the variety of kinds of feeling was not given. The discussion in Indefiniteness of Concepts provided some foundation in a unified treatment of feeling and a list of different kinds of feeling but no explanation of the variety of kinds or of differences among the kinds was given. Three explanations [kinds of explanation] will be given

A generic neurological explanation of the variety of feeling is that each kind is associated with different sensors and a different part of the brain

An evolutionary explanation is that the different kinds of feeling correspond to [a subset of] the variety of stimuli in the world which includes the environment and the organism; thus the kinds of feeling correspond to external and internal stimuli

An explanation based in intuition is that the elementary feelings are elementary intuitions

The integration of the perceptual attributes of an object into a whole was left unexplained; this is the classic binding problem. It was stated that “The visual perception of an object is an integrated combination of a number of primitive feelings…; and the perception of an object is an integrated combination of the various perceptual modalities.” However, no explanation of how the integration occurs was given. This problem is known as the binding problem for perception. The outline of a solution is as follows

A neurological explanation is based in the observation that laying down of memory and processing are not separate operations in the brain; and remembering is largely re-creation of previous processing. This entails a solution to the binding problem since the individual sensations from an object come in integrated modules and therefore are bound in memory as modules, not as monadic objects but through association. Study of the neurological details of binding in various cases is an interesting research endeavor in science. Other phenomena are also entailed: recognition and the associative nature of memory. Note that these considerations apply not only to simple objects such as a car but complex objects such as a scene or a journey. The same approach illuminates the problem of object constancy which is that, within limits and excepting illusion, an object is not experienced as changing in size or shape when its distance from or orientation relative to an observer changes. Consider distance: although the apparent size becomes less with increasing as the object moves away, distance estimation is partially intrinsic and partially by proximity – and since systems of objects also come in modules, all objects are similarly altered in apparent size. Next, consider orientation: the different views of the object come in modules of views; this explanation also applies to distance and to conditions of lighting, and may be extended to color constancy; the explanation applies to normalization of perception in cases where perception is distorted, for example, by wearing prisms and / or inverting lenses in front of the eyes. Also note that abilities are generalized and, therefore, memory is not overloaded; that abilities are generalized is a form of adaptability that is an aspect of adaptation

Object perception is one of the forms of intuition. Adaptation – in evolution and in development – explains the origin of the underlying neurology and the forms of intuition: the forms of intuition and therefore of the underlying neurology correspond to [a subset of] the forms in the environment

Note that evolutionary explanation is no more circular than any scientific explanation. Some facts lead to generalizations which explain or predict further facts… and enable understanding of the entire relevant system of facts

The kinds of explanation: from physiology or neurology, from adaptation or evolution and development, and from intuition are complementary. A pattern to the kinds of explanation has emerged

Understanding of the applicability and adequacy of the functions was not given. The functions specified were the classical ones: cognition [with perception,] emotion and conation or drive. However, no understanding of the nature and choice of the [human] functions was given

Specifically, understanding and explanations of the following were lacking

The nature and role of the functions:  no understanding of each function was given in itself – as an actual function, i.e. what is the role of each function

No understanding was provided of the differences and relations among the functions: the differences among their qualities and intensities – the feelings when seeing a mountain, when seeing an old friend are both positive but different: is this difference refractory to analysis or is there any explanation, not only of intensities but also of qualities in a total ecology of mind; are the functions distinct entities or are they the poles of a continuum; are the elements that constitute each function different from the elements that constitute another or are the functions constituted from a common set of elements with different ranges of weights corresponding to each function; are the functions hermetic compartments or is there overlap; and what is the interaction among the functions and elements in the total functioning of mind

No explanation was given whether the system is complete

Additionally, motor activity and action were omitted; inclusion of motor activity and action is in keeping with c. 2000 approaches to mind

The response to these criticisms is given in the present and subsequent numbered items

One source of information is awareness of and in mental states and processes. This awareness provides data but not understanding. However, the following information is motivated by subsequent considerations: emotions and drives have degrees of intensity that are not associated with cognition and a behavioral correlate of high intensity is an imperative to immediate action… and one dimension of intensity is on a pleasure-pain continuum; cognition, the process of knowing, involves perception and thought [judgment] and the awareness associated with perception is, in a visual metaphor, brighter than that associated with thought. The data just considered will be used in understanding

How may the following be understood: the nature of the functions, their relationships and how or whether the system of functions is complete?

One general approach to understanding is to view mind in its total context: in terms of being-in-the-world. In the first place, understanding derives from being-in-the-world as such, before any conceptual / metaphorical [not actual] split into being and world and this point will be taken up later. In the second place, understanding derives from examination of the two sides to being-in-the-world. Note that the results of the split might better be written as [being-] and [-world] so that the relationship [-in-] is not suppressed:

[Being-]… experience, the subjective side of being-in-the-world, and

[-in-]… the relationship

[-the-world]… the objective side

It is important that the subjective and objective sides or the experiential and material sides do not refer to different objects but are different modes of description of the same object – even though the degree of completeness of the description is greater according to the mode of description and what aspect of the object is concerned

In the material description the organism has inside / outside that correspond only roughly to being / world or mind / world. Stuff [information, matter] flows two ways across the boundary: input / output. Although the idea of a boundary is not devoid of reality it is not absolute except as a concept. “Input” is not passive: first, there is a continuum of seeking / perceiving and the individual may be seeking with respect to some object of actual interest but receiving with respect to objects of potential interest; second, the actual perception is a construction and not “raw data;” and, third the content of the perception is about the world. Other word pairs similar to input / output are afferent / efferent and attitude / action. As implied by the observation that input is not mere reception, attitude is not passive… attitude involves reception but, as a result of the active aspect of perception / cognition, attitude is about the world. Is feeling or emotion about the world? In contrast with a conventional response, the answer given here is, yes emotion – or drive – is about the world and is therefore characterized as attitude. This response requires explanation but first note that it is not the cognitive component of emotion [see earlier discussion] that entails its attitudinal characterization. The first point in the explanation is that the primary feeling involved in emotion is a perception of an “internal state” of the organism [in subjective terms the feeling is a state that the organism as its own.] Note, however, that in this context, in objective terms, “internal” means “inside the physical boundary of the organism” and does not refer to mind or state of mind. The organism is as much part of the world as is the world outside of the organism’s physical boundary. Thus the feeling component of emotion is a perception of the world as much as is seeing a tree. An argument against this is that, whereas in perception there is a period of recognition – for common objects the period goes unnoticed – and the fact that there is recognition implies that perception is about the object of perception; on the other hand, for emotion there is no period of recognition and there is no object which it is about. However, the counterargument is not valid: when there is a sudden change in emotion-feeling, there is often a period of recognition where the organism is not yet aware of what the changed status is; additionally, emotion has an object, it is the body of the organism but the body is not recognized in cognitive terms which tend to be taken as the absolute standard but are not [to take cognition as an absolute standard of recognition is to say that cognition has a foundation that lies outside the world or to say, paradoxically, that, in cognition the noumenon is recognized as such.] Because the emotive-feeling states of the organism are pertinent to the organism in a way that they are not to another organism it would not be functional for another organism to be privy to them in the way that the owner of those states is. But this is not much different from the fact that organisms are not privy to all states of the world and different kinds of organisms are not perceptually privy to the same states or kinds of states. One consequence for emotion, since it involves perception of the physiological state of the observer – it could not be otherwise – is the possibility of feed back in a perceptual loop; obviously this does not happen in the case of perception of the external world. However, it is true that emotion is about the world; but the way in which it is about the world is not identical to the case of cognition. As noted, in contrast to cognition, emotion-feeling occurs in an intensity [pleasure-pain] continuum that does not occur for cognition [note the blurring of conventional distinctions emotion/pain but note again the essential fluidity of the concepts that arises not – only – because of essential fluidity of the objects but because of fluidity of the boundaries.] On the other hand, perception has an immediacy that matches the immediacy of emotion without the intensity that is imperative to action. Thought may be and visual perception is associated with a vividness [contrasted to intensity] and clarity of detail that emotion does not have. Simple feeling and emotion merge with cognition to make for complex emotion with shades of quality and the possibility of experience of emotion detached from its intensity: an emotional life is largely possible for this reason and the fact that the degree of intensity can be mild like a faint morning breeze rather than a gale force storm; the subtlety and complexity of emotion is further enhanced by “feedback.” Perception and cognition do not directly result in imperatives to action but do so secondarily as the occasion for emotion-feeling. As noted earlier, the imagery associated with cognition is not as bright as that associated with perception; therefore, the path from perception to action is stronger than that from thought and this appears to be adaptive

The point regarding fluidity of the boundaries of the various functions fits with in the slack nature of mental concepts and is important to proper understanding. When emotion is understood as an “essence” it is thought of as something distinct from cognition and then questions of the relation between cognition and emotion may be entertained in an artificial way: the results of cognition produce emotion produce action; emotion stimulates and centers cognition. The relation between emotion and cognition, since they have distinction, is one of cause-effect but since they also have overlap the relationship is also one in which the nature of the activities is characterized: that emotion “colors” cognition, so the view of cognition as detached is inaccurate and, as noted earlier, that complex / subtle emotion is made possible, in part, through the inclusion of cognition. The point was made somewhat inaccurately: emotion colors cognition; due to the essential overlap, cognition is intrinsically colored and individuals with a deficit on the “color” side, experience cognitive pathology including the cognitive deficits associated with autism and mood disorders. In the case of autism with high functioning, pure cognition may be enhanced by being disengaged from emotional “chatter” and binding. This suggests that there are optimal degrees of binding / overlap between emotion and cognition [as traditionally understood] but not that there is one optimum for all occasions and all individuals; different situations call for different emphases and differences among individuals make for function and variety

These observations mesh with neurology. There are different centers for different functions; but at the same time, in a complex organism there is co-adaptation of and interaction among the centers and, so, integration of the functions

Additionally, the observations confirm the assertion made earlier that the concepts of the mental functions are slack

There is also a significance for language. Natural language is not a collection of meaningless signs; the so-called literal meaning is not the meaning. And “literal” is not being contrasted to “metaphor” [the literal/metaphorical distinction being merely conventional in at least some aspects] but, as an example, to “poetic.” That literal meaning is apparently fixed by convention does not distinguish it from poetic meaning, for one reason, because literal meaning is not fixed and, also, in so far as literal meaning is given and constant that is not merely the result of convention: use and function among communities of users in the world give meaning and determine constancy and change. Poetic meaning combines sound, metaphor, feeling and suggestion… But these elements are not absent altogether from literal meaning. There are distinctions – as there are occasions that are appropriate for applications of the distinctions. But these distinctions are not absolute

The “output” side to being-in-the-world corresponds to motor activity and action. Action is not mechanical, not simply an interaction across a boundary but remains in interaction with function [attitude]; thus, in reality, being / world are not essentially split; further, through attitude, action springs from the depth of the organism which, at that depth, is attuned to the environment. Of course, absolute and moment to moment binding of being-world does not obtain and is not adaptive; there are degrees of binding according to function and, at one extreme of cognition, there appears to be freedom of mental function. There are two kinds of freedom: freedom of play in relation to an objective [e.g., problem solving] and open play of imagination and thought. The latter is not absolutely open for imagination and thought are based in function-in-the-world and, implicitly in the experience of the thinker if not explicitly in experiment; and the openness, such as it is, corresponds to the openness of the world [indeterminism] and of the relationship of the individual to the world [new environments, new contexts, and growth in the being of the individual.] What is the relation among the kinds of action and the classical kinds of mental function? Roughly, motor activity correlates with sensation, need directed behavior with perception, emotion and drive and [higher] action or choice based goal directed behavior with cognition. And, just as there is overlap among sensation, perception and cognition so with motor action, drive behavior and higher action

The different qualities of experience, especially perception, remain unexplained. It should be obvious that there is a level below which there is no explaining: the redness of red, the odor of a pure chemical, the sound of middle C, “pure” pleasure and pain and so on [; criticisms of this would be of what is elementary rather than the existence of a ground to explanation.] However what of some of the distinctions: the brightness of perception in contrast to the images in thought – whether images of objects or of symbols and whether visual or auditory and so on; the intensity of the feeling side of emotions and drives in contrast to the relative neutrality of cognition… is there an explanation of these distinctions?

Thought has a number of functions and may be subject to distinctions such as imagination vs. thought but those distinctions are not made in this paragraph; they are not relevant to the point that follows. One characteristic of thought is that it is relatively detached from the immediate context. Sometimes the detachment is cultivated but even when there is an immediate and pressing problem and thought is directed to a solution of the problem, the thought must be sufficiently detached to permit creation of the solution that is not apparent in the problem and that may not have actually existed before. This is true even though when the process of thought is about the actual world. Perception, on the other hand, is of the actual world as it is [even though the phrase “as-it-is” is somewhat metaphorical, use of the metaphor is valid in the present discussion.] Therefore, perception is “brighter” than the remembered/reconstructed images of thought. It would not do, nor should it be physiologically normal for thought to be as bright as perception; for then there would be difficulty in attending to what is actually real. It can be said that perception is bound to the world or object and that the images of thought are free; or, more precisely, the degree of bind-ing is greater for perception. The degree of binding of perception should, for function, normally be greater than that of thought. This explains the brightness of perception as a function of immediacy that is, in turn, a function of binding. Thought / imagination is not always less bright than perception; this occurs in dreaming where the brightness of mental images is not non-functional and in hallucination which is regarded as pathological. Care is needed in asserting that “hallucinations” are always non-functional for there are situations in which the brightness of remembered / reconstructed images may be functional – dreaming is obviously one, see Experiments in the Transformation of Being for discussion of possible functions of dreaming; other functions of “bright thought” are in some applications of remembering, in creative thought, and in some cases of imperatives to action. The existence of an intensity continuum for emotion-feeling has a similar explanation in binding; further, it is often functional for such feeling, e.g. pain, to be more intense than perception or thought. But, there are also situations involving conflict. Consider, for example, an individual who has been attacked and is feeling pain from a wound and fear; normally, the pain might result in favoring the wound and fear might result in running but the attack continues. Therefore, although strong, fear and pain are not absolute imperatives and the full response is a result of the interaction and integration of the functions

Bound functions or elements:

Perception under normal circumstances, drive, primary emotion

Perception that “should” be bound to the environment may become free as in hallucination; this is does not imply that hallucinatory type experience is dysfunctional. Functional experience that is hallucinatory in nature occurs in dreams and visions. Freeing of primary emotion from its object [directly to body / endocrine states and so on, indirectly to place…] may result in drive and actualization if the emotion is channeled or counterproductive emotional lability if it is unbridled

Free functions or elements:

Thought under normal circumstances, secondary and cultivated emotion

Thought that “should” be free may be bound as in delusions; and secondary emotion may be bound as in depression; however, such binding is not always non-functional; bound thought may protect individual and community and bound emotion may be functional when diminished activity is functional – according to the season or circumstance

Interactions and variations:

In complex organisms, the “binding binds the freedom.” This is another way to say that freedom of play in mental process is bound or, in this case, related to need; or that cognition essentially overlaps emotion. When rationality “shuns” emotion, it shuns the immediate passions. This is not always functional and, while it characterizes some individuals, it is not and should not be characteristic of all. However, the word “shun” is rather inappropriate and when used appropriately it may refer to pathology. Rather, in functional contexts, the immediate and intense passions are replaced by an emotion that is in balance with thought and that stands for a commitment to “being-in-the-world” through understanding; and even, when understanding takes leave of the immediate as part of its proper function, it is the emotional component that binds the individual and the understanding to the world. This picture is somewhat idealistic in that the process of understanding what has not been understood before may occur in detachment or rejection of the world; however, it is probable that the emotional component of understanding must have some degree of integrity for the understanding to continue

Seeing and thinking interact, perception and conception are not essentially distinct and much perception – especially perception in the normal environment – is also conceptual. One sees a table; that it is seen is perception, that it is a table is the concept. In contrast, in an unfamiliar physical environment, perceptions reign and concepts are held back or flounder – and feeling may be intense in response to the unfamiliar which may contain unknown hostile elements

Further sources in [explanation of] the variety of experience occur in the distinctions: nature, society, self; and known / actual vs. unknown / potential. Some discussion of the distinctions is explicit above: the freedom of cognition in relation to the unknown, e.g. adaptation to and creation of new environments. Further discussion is implicit: the pain of human loss [loss of family] may exceed fear of physical harm in intensity even though human loss does not result in physical injury or immediate harm to the individual

There is no discussion of homeostasis [equilibrium]

What keeps the different functions in equilibrium? This point has already been addressed; it is the integration of the functions. A neurological explanation is based in the integration of the systems; and an explanation in adaptation is the need for some degree of unity of function and integrity of the organism; these thoughts are satisfying since they indicate unity among modes of explanation – utility occurs in meshing the details of the different modes

Appeal to equilibrium is another way of seeing that: perception is brighter than thought; emotion is more intense than cognition; primary emotion is more intense than secondary or cultivated emotion; the integration of emotion and cognition is binding of the organism to the world

Breakdown in homeostasis results in aberration: hallucinations as “bright thoughts,” delusions as thoughts that acquire the intensity of emotion, variations from the normal range of emotional intensity are aberrations of mood i.e. depression and mania. As noted earlier, these “aberrations” are sometimes functional; and there is a question whether it is always an aberration that is functional or whether the aberrations are relatives or exaggerations of functional variations

There is no explicit discussion of dynamics or time

Dynamics occurs at various levels and various ways. There is no single dynamics because of the complexity of organisms, their organization at various levels and complexity at each level. However, the following dynamics have been noted:

Memory / processing

Variations from equilibrium: such variations have two dynamics – inner and in relation to the environment. The inner dynamics includes compensations and adaptations among the functions and the disrupting effect of variations of one function on others such as psychosis that occurs in depression. Environmental dynamics are responsive [exogenous depression including seasonal depression] and active where the variation from equilibrium affects the experience and behavior of the individual

The functions operate at an instant of time; they are elements of a moment to moment interaction among being-world. Other dynamics include

Learning and growth including development of the functions [and corresponding physiological growth]

Development of personality

Personality as patterns of cognitive-emotional response to others – to work [contribution] and relationships, problems, life’s issues and opportunities, to self-expression including definition / evaluation of the opportunities

Disruption of this system may lead to distortion of the individual’s sense of place, especially of the sense of social reality

The question of opportunities and their definition leads to:

Commitment: the commitments of the individual and their sustenance and expression

The dynamics of being: see Experiments in the Transformation of Being and subsequent sections. The dynamics of being includes an approach to passing limits to being. This includes a similar dynamics of mind, traces of which are found in a number of theories of mind: psychoanalysis [the unconscious,] western folk psychology [“creativity,”] shamanism [travel in other worlds, insight, vision, healing,] and Yoga [in the reversal of the stages of evolution identified in Samkhya]

Problem of identity

Theoretically, the problem of identity is that of solipsism

Practically, knowledge that one is the same individual arises in the structure of memory – of one’s own life – in combination with recognition – one recognizes the same individual in others or self despite changes. Such recognition is necessary due to changes in various circumstances; this is not a philosophical or neurological but a functional explanation that must underlie neurology

The discussion was local but not universal in time and extension

The following considerations arise. The Principle of Being according to which all being is accessible to every individual was introduced early in this essay. Yet, the discussion of dimensions of mind shows the human individual to be rather determinate in a number of ways. Why is consideration of the determinate / limited aspect of being important in relation to the Journey in Being and how can the Principle of Being be compatible with the limits of the organism?

A beginning to an answer to the question of compatibility has already been given. The individual is not completely determinate: the functions show considerable freedom. The completion of this answer has also been given earlier in various discussions: the limits are only essential on a view of the organism as having absolute boundaries in extension and time. Further, there is a pending investigation, suggested by western mysticism and eastern disciplines such as Yoga, into realization through the agency of awareness itself

The question of the possibilities for mind and consciousness has been taken up at a number of places including experimental consideration in

Why is consideration of individual being in its local manifestation important? First, that is how our presence immediately manifests; perhaps the discussion of the functions is only an approximation / slanted; but the functions of any system or culture will be initially slanted. Second, the enjoyment of being in its “limited” form is significant [the Principle of Meaning] in itself and as part of the infinite. Finally, the Principle of Being talks only of possibility / necessity; actual paths, probabilities and ways start from the being as manifest

There was no discussion of the body

See What is Mind? And subsequent sections, especially Unconscious Mental Processes and the Body

The body has been introduced in the foregoing systems of explanation in the appeal to biology

Integration of body functions – food, sleep, relationship – implies further considerations for experience [mind]

4.4.3        Explanatory / Organizing Principles

The piecewise analysis of the criticisms suggests universal explanatory principles for founding the functions and so of generating a more complete and more rational system. The word “universal” includes the meaning that the principles will be applicable to any organism, especially adapted organisms; to get specific results for specific organisms will require information specific to that organism. In other words, the principles, when applied to any postulated set of functions – whether from experiment, experience or reflection – will help to yield a more complete, a more coherent and better founded set

The principles are as follows

1.       View the individual as Being-in-the-World

This view is ontologically prior to the being / world split and is thus relatively ontologically neutral. In other words, assuming the validity of the splits, those ontologies are specializations of Being-in-the-World. Note that the mind / world and the related subject / object splits are specializations on the classical account of mind and body as distinct substances rather than different descriptive or conceptual modalities. The labels solipsism, idealism may be applied to the Being-in-the-World ontology only if the possibility splitting is denied. Thus conclusions based on the unrealism of the subject / object split, e.g. Hegelian and related idealisms, may be seen as false but, in fact, have no implications in the realm of more specific ontologies [or, perhaps, more specific modes of being

The primary distinctions that lead to detailed understanding are the local / universal distinctions; on the other hand the subject / object split is introduced to identify what has been mistakenly recognized as an essential split so as to identify associated errors

Locality in extension: the being of individuals or objects

Locality in extension leads to the subject / object and distinction; and to input / output analysis

Experience is characteristic of the subject mode

Causation is a characteristic of the object mode and includes interactions: individual-environment

Locality in time

Leads to the distinctions: function / learning / development and change including personality / commitment: self and influence / dynamics of being

[To be non-local in extension and in time require one another]

Being-over-time; becoming

Learning, development and change including personality, commitment, dynamics of being

Locality in context

Leads to the bound / free distinction

Modes of explanation

The following are elaborated at the beginning of the previous section Criticisms of the Classical Functions of Mind:

Psychology: the forms of intuition; the following provide foundation and suggestion. The modes are mutually informing

Biology: physiology; for mind / body relations see What is Mind? And subsequent sections, especially Unconscious Mental Processes and the Body

Origins / place in the world: evolution / adaptation

Comparison: similarities and differences among cultures, species and modes of being

4.5         A System of the Dimensions of Mind, Being and Action [37]

The “principles of explanation” were applied informally in Criticisms of the Classical Functions of Mind to the originally [relatively] ad hoc functions of The Functions of Knowledge; the ad hoc character was eliminated to a significant degree and the nature of the aspects of mind illuminated; and in so doing, concepts of the functions – emotion, cognition, drive – were modified and, in keeping with c. 2000 approaches, action was included. A set of Explanatory / Organizing Principles for the study of the dimensions of mind / being emerged. Even though incomplete, the map of mind provided here is integrated and dynamic

The application of these considerations results in the following

4.5.1        Character of Mind / Being

The fundamental character of mind and of being is derived from the idea of being as being-in-the-world or being-present-to-the world. Presence is not so much a character or characteristic as the condition of being-in-the-world. Earlier, while I noted that no particular character could be called the characteristic of mind, I argued for the central character of experience. Therefore, while experience is close to presence, I will not claim that the concepts are identical. Presence partakes of the known and the unknown; on account of the slackness in specification of mind this is not problematic – rather it has virtue and it may be said, in improvement of the formulation at the beginning of this sentence, that presence partakes of the known and the potential. The existence of unconscious mental influences on and connections between conscious processes has been noted. Reasonable arguments were given that unconscious mental processes were those that did not appear in consciousness but could so appear. It is clear that some unconscious processes should count as mental processes and some might not but this appears to leave a grey area. Again, on account of the slack character of the concept of mind it is not important whether the grey area of the unconscious is counted; nothing of consequence is altered by the choice and when, later, consequence is found an adjustment of the grey area results. Thus unconscious is a somewhat metaphorical term and the unconscious mental processes fall within presence

What is it that makes an individual present to the world? Examples of possibilities include awareness, consciousness, intensionality, representation and processing [intelligence] and so on. A case has been made that experience [awareness, consciousness…] is fundamental; being present to the world entails intensionality and representation; and since without action there is and can be no presence, intelligence is also entailed. Since mind [if mind is thought of as a thing or substance then such use is metaphorical; mind refers to whatever it is that is involved in presence] is not definite with regard to concept or object the fact that only a strong but not an absolute case has been made regarding characteristics does not present a theoretical problem. Further, there is no practical problem. In any actual situation there will be some things that are clearly mental and there may be others that are not; and there may be borderline cases where it is not clear whether the object is mind or otherwise; this is not a practical difficulty for the classification of the object will not prevent the study of all objects of interest and their interactions regardless of their ontological status

In summary, the character of mind is presence which partakes of the known in being close to experience and in entailing intensionality, representation and intelligence and which enjoys the virtue of conceptual openness and thus avoids over-specification of the concept. Presence includes unconscious mental processes

If mind is “presence” what shall we say of one elementary particle in interaction with another? Is the presence of the one particle to the other “mind?” As we have seen earlier the answer is “Yes!” This, however, might lead to actual and ontological confusion. The resolution is in distinguishing a higher level of mind or mind-as-we-experience-it and other, lower, levels. Here, different levels do not refer to the idea of higher and lower being but to levels, say of organization, that occur in a given being. There is a parallel with the concept of matter [material concepts and description.] The first experience of matter is with macroscopic objects; later we recognize that matter is made up of elementary particles [and fields.] There should be some, at least minute doubt regarding the phrase “made up of” because knowledge and therefore the character of the existence of “elementary particles” cannot be better than the latest physics; however, I pass over this doubt. The point being made regarding the parallel is as follows. Although we call water matter and the elementary particles matter, the elementary particles do not have all the properties of water even though those properties are a result of the properties of the elementary particles. For example, water is wet but an elementary particle cannot have the property of wetness; yet wetness arises from the elementary particles and their interactions. Similarly, the low level mental properties will not include those of mind-as-we-know-it. Perhaps it should always be specified what level of mind is under consideration; however as long the context is kept in sight, confusion will not arise. We have seen that talk of mind [as-we-know-it] is one mode of talk; material description is another mode of talk about the same object. At the particle level the two modes of description are identical

For additional discussion see Mind / body: summary and consolidation of conclusions

4.5.2        Functions: States and Processes         Memory         Attitude – and Concepts


Construction of percepts in experience, from sensations and intuition; conceptual character of percepts. The following distinction brings out the variety of perception but is not fundamental

Sense perception

Proprioception – perception of internal state of the organism including posture, equilibrium, muscular effort… and feeling including pleasure and pain, and the feeling components of emotion

Drives; continuity with emotion


Iconic: the elements of iconic thought are remembered percepts or fragments of percepts; i.e. the form of iconic thought is that of intuition

Symbolic: Natural language / formal systems; symbols are elementary forms of intuition whose structure has no significance in formal systems

A formal system is made of pure symbols and rules; a pure symbol is devoid of intrinsic meaning – reference is assigned

Natural language is semi-formal in that the symbols have a formal character and a degree of intrinsic meaning; there are formal rules but these are, to a degree, a superstructure built upon language; natural language rules have a degree of innateness and, also, a degree to which they are determined by context

The following considerations arise: relation of concepts and percepts; iconic-intuitive and symbolic-formal character of concepts; question of ultimate distinction between iconic-intuitive thought and thought in language or symbolic-formal thought. The latter is considered in a number of places, especially Intuition and Formal Knowledge

Mixed iconic / symbolic

Emotions as complexes of feeling-cognition

Earlier I distinguished between the feel of a sensation or perception and the feel of an emotion. I said that there was something common to the two kinds of feeling – they are both perception [or sensation,] one of the external world and one of states of the perceiver’s body. That there is so much detail and articulation in visual perception compared to the feeling side of emotion might leave the impression that there is a fundamental distinction; but much of this distinction is not intrinsic but, rather, due to visual and auditory perception being models for thought and analysis. Both [external] perception and the feeling side of emotion are bound functions; perception is bound to the environment and feeling to the body. It is natural, therefore, that perception has greater variety and articulation but emotion has a more imperative for behavior; the greater articulation of external perception together its indirect connection to behavior through feeling / drive results in its being material for reflection; the simplicity and intensity of basic emotions / drives results in the immediate connection to [an urge to] action

While external perception can be thought of as a map of the world, internal perception-feeling is the real time sensation of place. Disruption of feeling-emotion is a disruption of sense of place and belonging – to one’s self and environment, to the natural environment but especially to the social environment

The view of emotion adopted here goes beyond any view of emotion as a class of atomic / monadic entities – joy, sadness, anger and so on; or even as a continuum of subtly shaded qualities. First, emotion, as viewed here, includes all the classical qualities. However, there is a need to address a number of issues in relation to emotion. Emotion comes in stark, simple forms as well as subtle ones; is the subtlety merely a matter of compounding of different classical emotions or their shades? How shall we account for the essential role of emotion, not only in living but also in learning and thought? One response is that thought and emotion condition and drive one another. However, it is better to recognize that the classical emotions, perception and thought are bound together in a complex entity that, in study and analysis, is seen atomically as the system of functions. However, the binding is essential; that bound entity, I label emotion. Thus emotion may be used in two senses: the elementary one of system of discrete emotions; and the complex one in which the functions are bound together as a compound and dynamic entity of discretely described elements in interaction

For detailed listing of elements see the document words, language, metaphysics

Humor is the integration of the functions in the overall potential and limits of the individual. Laughter is a mechanism of humor. When an individual has attempted to overcome or find the extremes of all limits and has first hand experience of the extremes, humor accommodates the individual to the reality that limits are relative. Humor includes accommodation to existence in an indefinite world

Some issues: the following questions arise

What is the range of perception i.e. what are the perceivable objects or elements of the world?

What is the range of thought i.e. what is the range of being covered by the thinkable… are there modes or kinds of being that are not thinkable?

What is the range of thought in language?

Formal processes may be questioned on the ground that they do not operate in real time. Does intuition operate in real time?

If an object is in the range of the perceivable or the thinkable… is the validity of the reference capable of being established? Is all “verification” merely a survival of criticism? Or is knowledge capable of being positive, which does not entail certainty, due e.g. to the organism’s being-in-the-world… including evolution, i.e. is real knowledge possible? If positive knowledge is possible, would that not imply that knowledge comes before foundation?

It appears from the foregoing that limits to knowing are limits to being. What is the significance of the Experiments in the Transformation of Being to limits of experience, to what can be experienced and to knowledge?         Action

Roughly, motor activity correlates with sensation, need directed behavior with perception, emotion and drive and [higher] action or choice based goal directed behavior with cognition. And, just as there is overlap among sensation, perception and cognition so with motor action, drive behavior and higher action

Action includes: any motor activity such as reaching and walking toward or away from. Mental activities such as choosing, inferring and deciding have a strong action component; generally, action is any process that is at least partially controlled by the organism – and may have as objective, changes in the world including the organism itself

The topic of action and those that follow have been discussed above; further elaboration will be undertaken later. Some aspects of personality, commitment and the dynamics of being will be taken up experimentally in Experiments in the Transformation of Being         The Body

See What is Mind? And subsequent sections, especially Unconscious Mental Processes and the Body

The following is taken from the latter section:

The interaction or relation between the [conscious] mind and the body is unconscious to a significant degree. Further, for many body process that do not correspond to conscious activity the [metaphorical] label mental is optional. There is a sense, developed below, in which all body processes may be labeled mental without loss or gain

4.5.3        Extension in Time         Learning and growth; development of the functions         Personality and its Development         Commitments         The dynamics of being; becoming; local / non-local

See Dynamics of Being         Arching from the Individual / Here-Now to the Universal

4.6         Symbol and Language

Kinds of Knowledge has some thoughts on the origin of language and symbols

4.6.1        The importance of language

Language is important, simply, as a medium of thought and communication, and as a mode of expression of states of mind and of knowledge

Language is important as forming a framework or being the prototype of a framework for logic, mathematics, science

Use of words relating to general and high level concepts such as “mind” and “matter,” when taken from use and posited as the fundamental concepts of theory or philosophical analysis may lead to distorted views of reality and nature and to confusion. Use of the word “matter” encourages the incorrect view that all levels of being or existence have the concrete character of experience. Use of “mind” encourages the view of mind as separate from matter which view is further encouraged by the foregoing concretization of all being. Unlimited use of “cause” encourages views that all cause is of the same type and pervades all process e.g. every event has a cause; this is a universalization of experience and also encourages the view that causes are unique or singular

What is the scope of what can be expressed in language i.e. thought in terms of language? Above and below, find various approaches to and estimates of the question of limits. An outer limit to intuition and to thought based in the intuition is the limit to experience i.e. of what experiences is the organism capable. If intuition is the sole way to knowledge – a strong tradition in Western Philosophy – then this must also form an outer limit to what knowledge may be expressed in language

There are problems associated with indiscriminate use of the concepts such as “exist,” “all” or “universal,” “nothing” or “nothingness,” and “everything.” What kind of care is needed to retain use of the concepts while avoiding the problems? Concretization or reification of language, the projection of experience is, in general, problematic. Improper use of words [concepts] leads to error; and to effort on topics whose existence is based on error

4.6.2        Analytic or Linguistic Philosophy

It is not the objective here to define or completely characterize this school or movement but to make brief commentary that is pertinent, here, to its contributions to “what may be known”

In an earlier phase, linguistic philosophy held that concepts and their valid use could be clarified by an examination of language alone, that by this approach every problem of philosophy would be solved or shown to be a non-problem. The exclusive dependence on examination of language is objectionable and has been abandoned by most analytic philosophers. Clearly, examination of language is important in considering the possibilities of language and potential errors of indiscriminate use

One approach to the examination of language has been to focus on use rather than meaning[38]. The connotation of meaning used here is that of a fixed and specifiable meaning for each word, that each word corresponds to some definite thing as, e.g. in a dictionary. Note that this is not the question of shades and families of meaning and that one word may correspond to more than one symbol i.e. the same sound or letter combination may have multiple unrelated meanings – or uses. There are various reasons why the “dictionary theory of meaning” is untenable. Among these the fact that a word does not always refer, the evolution of language, and the dependence of meaning or use on context are primary

A question that arises is “what arena constitutes valid use?” One response was “ordinary language analysis” or examination of non-technical every day use. The primary problem with ordinary language analysis is that every day use is an unnatural restriction. In some smaller communities the every day and experimental uses of language are clearly not distinct. In times that are removed from rapid linguistic change – including origins – and in larger societies, e.g. modern society, the idea of correctness of form and authority that is distinct from use becomes established and is maintained by various mechanisms including specialization and standardization. There is, however, no absolute distinction except as a myth that has origin – in part – in educational institutions and, subsequently, remains unquestioned

There is no question that analysis of use has led to valuable insights. The insight that meaning has no anchor outside the environment of use [which I distinguish from use alone] may seem limiting but is freeing. It is limiting if the goal is purely objective meaning; however, one of the motivations of analysis of use is that objective meaning – let alone final meaning – does not always obtain. It is freeing – in addition to the sense in which the shedding of delusions, even cherished ones, is always freeing – in that it shows that we are essentially connected to the world and that the lack of final and objective meaning systems permits further evolution of language, concepts and discovery: it has been said that standardization of language – grammar, spelling, style – comes after the golden age of any language. One example of illumination is in the problem of the inverted spectrum which, in one form, may be posed “how can one know that different individuals have the same subjective experience of the color red?” A primary problem with the problem character is that it is a form of criticism of meaning that does not go far enough. For example, how does a given individual know that he or she is having the same experience of red now as on an earlier occasion? The linguistic solution to the problem is that “red” arises in a community of stable meaning [use] and the question of identity of meaning can have no further rational analysis. A similar argument applies to the successive experiences of the individual. Of course there is a simple reality based analysis. It is that the similar structures of organisms imply similarity of experience – when the organs are not defective as in color blindness. Identity of experience is not expected; an individual can verify that the experience of the left and the right eyes in looking at the same red object are slightly different but are both, except in cases of pathology, a sufficiently similar red. But, this analysis is not necessary; regarding the possibility of perceptual experiences that were so idiosyncratic that there was no constancy at all for a given object, there would arise no system of stable use. Here are two valuable insights from this example: in some cases words are thought to have meaning where there is none and the assumption that there is a meaning leads to confusion and erroneous conclusions; and, the experiences of individuals is not as private in the way that it is often thought to be simply because conditions for private experience do not exist. To clarify the point, note that there is no claim that individuals can read others’ minds but that, in cases of effective communication, there is no need to read minds

Although analysis of use is a valuable source of insight and understanding of error, exclusive restriction of analysis to use and restriction of use to what the analysis of use suggests is unnecessarily limiting. It is also self-contradictory in that the experimental, imaginative use of words by thinkers and recourse to definition are not something distinct from use; or that analysis of meaning, although sometimes rather artificial, is something that only thinkers – but not users – do. In fact, normal and creative use, reflection on meaning is something that happens not only in formal settings but also casually – and the distinction between the formal and the casual, though ritualized, is not at all absolute. This is most easily seen by recalling the lack of compartmentalization of the different language activities in some smaller communities and, also, in larger societies at times of transition

The experimental use of language, the discussion of meaning as reference – and of use – are part of the evolution of understanding and language         Solipsism

The kind of argument of the previous section has been used consider the problem of solipsism which can be seen as asserting that experience is essentially private; the inverted spectrum is a special case of this position

The purpose of this section is neither criticism nor defense of solipsism but to consider and use what may be motives for it

The British idealist F.H. Bradley, in Appearance and Reality, 1897, characterized the solipsistic view as follows:

“I cannot transcend experience, and experience is my experience. From this it follows that nothing beyond myself exists; for what is experience is its [the self’s] states”

This statement could be used as a basis for both epistemological and metaphysical solipsism. The former holds that the ideas of the individual form the only basis for construction of knowledge; the latter, a form of subjective idealism, is a position that the ideas of the individual constitute the whole of reality

A motive for solipsism appears to be to place knowledge on the firmest possible ground by eliminating as much in the way of assumption as possible. The epistemological solipsist may think that, in solipsism, no assumptions are being made at all. In epistemological solipsism, it is not being said that there is no external world or that there are no other individuals but that the basis for knowing their existence is the subjective side of the individual’s experience. The kind criticism of the previous section, due to Wittgenstein, addresses epistemological solipsism

There are a number of other, related ways of approaching criticisms of epistemological solipsism. In so far as the urge to it is based in a desire for secure and certain knowledge its motive is mistaken because the fabric of being is not so definite as to allow both secure and certain knowledge except in our ideas. Importantly, it is based in the idea that less is less. In other words, the supposed foundation is that by stripping away assumption after assumption the thinker progressively approaches a state in no conditions are being placed on the possibility of knowledge. However, to the extent that experience is not private, taking it to be private is an additional assumption and, perhaps, even one that implies contradictions

Metaphysical solipsism may be motivated by epistemological solipsism “since all that I know is my experience that is all that I can validly assume to exist.” As we have seen, that statement is in error. However, as a foundation for metaphysical solipsism the error is compounded for it is the basis of the jump to “since all that I know is my experience, that is all that I will use in a theoretical construction of reality.” Naturally, any such theoretical construction will be and remain anemic as long as it receives no tacit infusions. However, in an egoistic jump the metaphysician may be led to think or conclude “since all I know is my experience, that is all that exists.” This may be seen as assuming more in an attempt to assume less         The Concepts, “Everything” and “Nothing” or “Nothingness”

This is one place that these concepts could be properly discussed. However, it was suggested in the previous section that analysis of use is not merely a process of language analysis. Further, since these concepts are employed in the development of the themes of this essay, reference is made to the development: see Existence and Nothingness

A brief comment will be useful here. In the previous section it was seen that an attempt to assume less may result in assuming more. Similarly, when viewing nothing as the absence of all things, if “all things” is considered to be not only all actual objects but also all concepts, contradictions result. This point, which has received extensive formal consideration in the foundations of logic in the twentieth century, is used later to avoid error and to make maximal use of the concept of nothingness

4.6.3        Meaning and Communication

Here, “meaning” is linguistic meaning and is not used as similar to “significance” as in the “meaning of life.” As noted in the previous paragraph, linguistic meaning

Language is used to express understanding and knowledge which are changing and therefore the system of meaning must change. There is no getting outside of this system and viewing it from a high point: we are always immersed in it. Therefore any description of meaning is always an approximation to the system of meaning in application. Further, even if we somehow came into a possession of a system of meaning it would have to be continually renewed for language is used to express the system of knowledge which is changing. Meaning and application are significantly co-determinate and co-evolutionary

Oftentimes, such true claims are the base of a hidden agenda. Rejection rather than criticism of metaphysics often reveals such an agenda; and may even contradict the claims regarding meaning

4.6.4        Kinds of Linguistic Meaning

Kinds of linguistic meaning include literal and metaphorical meaning. However, the idea of literal meaning is subject to all the conditions on meaning in the previous section, i.e., the meaning of that section was literal meaning. Perhaps literal meaning is nothing more than “first” or “standardized” meaning; and this consideration applies to words and to sentences. As an association of or way of associating meaning, metaphor does not imply something other than “intrinsic” meaning which is a common though untenable idea of literal meaning

Other forms of linguistic meaning include what is implied by or what may be inferred from what is said. The speaker may imply something quite unrelated to what is said. For example, “Jesus rose from the dead” has according to those who are faithful its literal meaning, according to critics may be a way of mind and behavior control; but the “original” meaning may be a reminder that any system of determinate beliefs is suspect. Texts may be used in many ways and, therefore, the assigned meaning may be, at any time or over time, any combination of types of meaning. It is in human nature and therefore in the nature of the use of human language to find politics, abuse, dogma, aesthetics and the representation of the ultimate in the same endeavor

4.6.5        Formal Systems and Formal Meaning

An approach that complements the intuitive – and holds promise that it will overcome the limits of intuition. See Intuition and Formal Knowledge and related sections

4.7         Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge and Logic

The purpose of this section is to discuss what the universe must be like – metaphysical prerequisites for – the possibilities of knowledge and of logic

Except when noted, “logic” refers to deductive logic

It will be useful to first briefly consider the possibility of knowledge in an organism

4.7.1        Knowledge and Inference

In deductive inference, conclusions follow by the process of deduction, from premises. If the premises are true and the process or rules of deduction guarantee “conservation of truth,” then the conclusions are also true

That the “rules” of deduction conserve truth does not strain credulity for, as noted below, the one essential rule is that inference is transitive: if A implies B and B implies C, then A implies C

In some systems of logic, the interpretation of this rule may be questioned; this is not, however, to question the rule itself

Thus logic may be seen in the following light. Logic is an instrument for generating new knowledge from given knowledge. In a sense the derived knowledge is not new for deduction may be seen as tautologous. However, although the conclusions follow tautologically or algorithmically the fact that they so follow is often extremely far from obvious [to finite minds] and, therefore, the conclusions effectively constitute new knowledge

4.7.2        Knowledge and Inference in an Organism

From the side of the organism, the requirements for knowledge include the following: first, sufficient structure and stability so that some effects of the world upon it are more than transient i.e. the organism will have memory; and that those effects condition the behavior of the organism to be in some conformity with the world. No distinction is made, here, between human knowledge and the knowledge of other animals; in fact the stated requirements for knowledge do not require the “organism” to be living

The discussion of the previous paragraph serves to remind us that, first, knowledge need not be mental. Secondly, the distinction of occurrent[39] vs. dispositional knowledge is not absolute – at the primitive level discussed there is no distinction between occurrent and dispositional knowledge

What is the root of logic or inference? The following discussion is preliminary and will be clarified in what follows. Inference is the use of a known fact and a pattern to extract knowledge, without perception, of a further fact. [In the abstract it may be the extraction of a conclusion from a hypothetical fact and a hypothetical pattern.] There is no requirement that the process should be conscious, representational or mental. In the simplest case, the pattern is that of a uniform environment and conformity to the world at one place and time entails conformity at other places and times. Perhaps the most elementary case of inference occurs when the organism is able to perceive and respond differentially and appropriately in a gradient

Logic does not require language or symbols – where a symbol is understood as a reference whose meaning is assigned rather than [partially] intrinsic to the literal form. Thus, in perception, deduction occurs, for example, when an element that is always part of a picture is inferred from the presence of the picture. Induction occurs, for example, when the universal presence of an element is inferred from its presence in all experienced occurrences of the picture. Communication of symbolic inference is much easier than communication of iconic inference

4.7.3        Metaphysics and the Possibility of Knowledge

From the foregoing discussion, the following are required for the possibility of knowledge:

Cause and effect with sufficient stability for more than transience of some effects

Sufficient uniformity or patterning including that similar causes result in similar effects

The following may be distinguished:

Knowledge of the world [the world includes patterning and symbols] – first order knowledge

Knowledge of form, originally intuited from patterning – second order knowledge

That the world conforms to forms is prerequisite to knowledge

Just as mind was found to be a symbol whose concept could not be specified for all being, so for knowledge

4.7.4        The Possibility of Logic

The possibility of logic rests upon existence of truth and the possibility of inference

Formal logic may be developed without actual truth but only a symbol for truth. However, for truth to have actual significance there needs to be knowledge of states of affairs

Further, the development of systematic logic depends on laws of inference

There is one essential law of inference, that inference is transitive: if A implies B and B implies C, then A implies C

Here, omit I consideration of the laws of logic, the law of contradiction, the law of the excluded middle, and the principle of identity – except to note that the law of the excluded middle has been questioned [in Intuitionism] in its application to infinite sets

What is the nature of the difficulty with infinite chains of derivation?

See Mathematics and its Foundations for some comments on infinities in mathematics

Further “laws” required to implement logical systems are in Kinds of Knowledge

What is the rationale behind the laws of logic?

A knowledge domain provides information as to what forms obtain and, until shown otherwise, it is hoped [in general it is not proven] that there are no fundamental contradictions

In a sense, logic is vacuous. From the symbolic expression of knowledge, inferences are almost obvious i.e. they are essentially analytic. The rationale for the formulation of laws of logic is that all valid inferences must be allowed but the laws themselves should introduce no contradictions

Formal symbolic logic may be developed without explicit reference to a knowledge context

4.7.5        Analytic and Synthetic Propositions [40]

The statement “All ravens are birds,” is called an analytic proposition because the meaning of raven includes being a bird. On the other hand “All ravens are black,” is synthetic because blackness [in this account] is not part of the meaning of being a raven and the statement, if true, is based on experience. I.e. a synthetic proposition appears to be a generalization from experience that could be invalidated by observation of an exception

4.7.6        Metaphysics and the Possibility of Implication / Inference

The inference “Jack is a bird,” follows analytically or tautologically from “Jack is a raven.” The conclusion follows from the form of the premise

The inference “Jack is black,” from “Jack is a raven,” follows in two stages. In the first stage it is noted that every raven seen so far is black and from this the generalization “All ravens are black,” may be made. The inference is synthetic and not necessary for it may be invalidated. However, given the inference, the conclusion “Jack is black,” follows analytically from “Jack is a raven”

What is required for synthetic inference or generalization? It is the existence of patterns i.e. the manifestation of form. If the specific pattern obtains, then the synthetic conclusion is analytic

Thus, form or the manifestation of form makes inference possible. This is because form includes the elimination of possibility

The fact that every universe is the manifestation of some form – from nothingness – also makes certain kinds of inference possible; a number of arguments in this essay are based on this idea

4.7.7        Not Every Idea is a Form

More precisely, not every idea of a form corresponds to or represents a form

Some two dimensional drawings of MC Escher correspond to or represent no possible three dimensional object

Similarly, not every idea, or sentence in the form of a proposition represents a possible object. This is a source of logical paradox

4.7.8        The Variety of Logical Structures

The following extremely brief sketch receives some elaboration in Kinds of Knowledge

Standard logic concerns propositions that are true in some world

In standard logics the possible truth values are true and false

Examples of standard logic are immediate inference, the syllogism, the propositional and predicate calculi

Various non-standard logics correspond to generalizations from or are variants of standard logic

Many valued logics introduce at least one truth value in addition to true and false

Modal logics concern propositions that are true in all worlds; modal logic is concerned about necessary truth or necessity

In fuzzy logic, the distinction between truth and falsity is not sharp

Some logics concern sentence forms [speech acts] other than the proposition

4.7.9        Mathematics

Mathematics is the science of form; abstract relations show up all systems that have common form

4.8         Theories of Action

A theory of action is a theory of the relation between attitude or mental state / function and action. It is clear that a broad and rough idea of the connections may be had. However, it seems that a detailed and precise but general theory is impossible in practice and a deterministic theory impossible in principle. The practical difficulty involves not just “computation” but getting a complete description; e.g. one could write down all the general influences that affect whether I will spend the rest of the evening thinking and writing about the dimensions of mind / being but it would be impossible to foresee every possibility such as a sudden urge to go out and buy some ice cream. The theoretical difficulty regarding a deterministic theory is that the connection between attitude and action is not deterministic

Elaboration will be taken up as needed. There is some treatment of action below, in Action and Influence


The previous title to this section was ‘Ethics, Being and Knowledge.’ The new title implies an expanded scope that will include the political philosophy of Action, Charisma and Influence, and History

It is not the intent, in this section, to do justice to the literature and history of thought on ethics. Rather, the purposes include, as far as I can in a brief treatment:

Characterizing ethics, especially in light of the treatment of knowledge, being, mind and cosmology of the previous sections: this will involve two levels – the as-we-experience-it level, i.e. what is it for a human being to conduct him or herself morally and what are the associated mental states and processes… and the elementary level, the level of fundamental entities. The latter begs the question, what, if anything, could be or correspond at the elementary level to ethical behavior as-we-experience-it

Characterizing the relationships between ethics and being and the role of ethics in Journey in Being

Toward achieving these purposes, the discussion of this section include discussion of:

Brief characterization of the nature of morals and ethics

Nature of moral conduct

Relationship between morals and ethics

Some problems in the concepts of ethics and its relation to conduct

Relationship between ethics and being

A Purpose: Constructive, Aesthetic and Global dimensions of Ethics

In asking ‘How should I live my life?’ I necessarily come to ask ‘What should I do with my life?’

Ethics is necessarily constructive and not merely prohibitive [Thou shalt not]

‘What should I do?’ has, clearly, ethical and aesthetic dimensions

If ethics concerns choices of action, aesthetics concerns values and choices in expression, representation and inspiration – there is essentially no difference

In the modern world – and in modern thought – the social and global dimensions of morals and politics are significant

5.1         Nature of Moral Conduct

5.1.1        The Possibility of Moral Conduct

The possibility of moral conduct is founded on:

The existence or possibility of moral value or the good. The good may take on a number of forms e.g. good ends, right actions, right thought, right will, right intention; and have a number of meanings e.g. desirability, happiness, virtue and so on

The existence of moral alternatives and the ability to choose from among these alternatives

In moral conduct, there must be more than one possibility of conduct, some possibilities must be more moral than others, and the actor must know this and be able to choose from among the possibilities

5.1.2        What is good is not laid out in advance

Moral value evolves – this may be disputed by Platonic idealists but, at least, knowledge of morals evolves – and one factor in that evolution is the creation and modification of moral value. If the reader is disposed to dispute this point he or she may review the history of morals and human rights or may consider that before the dawn of life on earth there were no morals or moral values on earth

Additionally, choices in conduct evolve – primarily by creation of new ways of behavior and living and, secondarily, from new knowledge, new technology…

The above does not imply that all moral conduct is associated with a high degree of self-awareness, creativity and consciousness of choices. Feeling [emotion,] communication, and shared conduct are among the bases of behavior, especially moral behavior that come before reflection and must remain important in morals. Even the sharpest intellect is inadequate to the valuational and creative tasks for “rational moral conduct” in many actual situations where there are multiple moral values that have some degree of conflict. In such situations choice must be supplemented by [ongoing] judgment and experiment

Moral contexts may be narrow, e.g. is it wrong for a starving person to take food from a shop without permission or payment – and should such behavior be considered to be “stealing?” Even in narrow contexts, judgment is necessary in determining behavior. Judgment is, naturally, essential in determining moral conduct in the [ongoing] choices in the building of an individual life or a civilization. To what extent do ethics determine the conduct of the life of an individual or group e.g. a family, a workplace, a nation? It could be argued that except for observing moral principles, everything else is open. But, what else is there? This point is valid because of the following question “What are the moral principles?”

5.2         Free Will

Determinism has a long history and there have been many motives behind it. These include predetermination by God, fatalism, and the deterministic science from the time of Isaac Newton until the advent of the quantum theory in the 1920s

Determinism seems to be incompatible with the ability to make choices; this was the problem of free will. Therefore, as long as determinism ruled, it was imperative to resolve this problem

In the earlier sections, especially Nothingness and Cosmology, I have shown that being – the universe – cannot be deterministic and that indeterminism is necessary for being; the problem of free will has lost its importance

The conclusion is no longer novel either in philosophy or in science. There are, however, novel elements to the arguments – especially in the arguments about the relation between nothingness and being

The philosophy of indeterminism is not without problems. It is required to explain how the structure and form of the world is compatible with indeterminism. The earlier sections provided the required arguments

There is thus no especial problem with the idea that an individual has a free will. It should be remembered that free will does not mean an ability to do anything desired. It means, simply, that sometimes options for choice in action or outcome exist or may be created. It was specifically argued earlier that the individual has the ability to create novel choices

5.3         Ethics and Morals

We might say that morals are the actual determinants of behavior and ethics are the descriptions of the determinants and the process of choice and judgment. However, since choice and knowledge are necessary for moral behavior, representation already enters into morals. Therefore, I will not distinguish ethics from morals

5.4         Philosophical and Reflective Ethics

The conditions for the possibility of ethics are the same as those for The Possibility of Moral Conduct

5.4.1        Constructive vs. Passive and Prescriptive Ethics

There is, however, an additional contribution to the growth of morals and of ethics for any being that has an ability to reflect and to create ideas. As will be elaborated below, the ability to distinguish moral acts from physical acts combined with the ability to create ideas results in the creation of moral value. It is not being said that moral value is fully the creation of intellect for it is always and remains with foundation in simple and shared feeling. However, intellect is responsible for creating, communicating – especially in language – new possibilities for moral action – especially constructive possibilities – and subtlety and shades for established areas of moral action. Of course, this kind of development is not limited to moral value but occurs also in aesthetics[42] and in the creation or elaboration of social reality and cultural artifacts

In constructive ethics, the entire [life of the] being is taken as a constructive possibility for moral action

Individual concern with constructive ethics is not the same as constant or obsessive preoccupation

5.4.2        Ethical Traditions

It is possible to think about how conduct is determined and there are many traditions of reflective ethics. In the Western tradition, reflective ethics dates back at least to the major religions of that tradition and includes Greek, Scholastic and Modern philosophy

What follows are some examples of reflective systems in ethics. There is no intent at completeness relative to the traditions

Kantian ethics is an example of reflective ethics. In its barest version Kant’s ethics is the Categorical Imperative “Act only on the principle through which you can at the same time will that it be a universal law.” Kantian ethics is a philosophical version of the reflective moral principle of Christianity, the Golden Rule, as in Mathew [7:12]: “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”

Another example is deontological ethics which is the ethics of action i.e. certain acts or kinds of act have intrinsic moral value that is regardless of consequences whether actual or intended. Examples of acts that are close to universally regarded as having moral value – positive or negative – are caring for a dying person, making a sacrifice for another e.g. saving a life, killing, lying, stealing. A problem arises in that the concepts are not always clear. For example, should stealing be taking what is not mine or should it be taking what is not mine when it causes harm; and if the taking does no harm and I need what is taken to live should that be called stealing? It will be argued that I am failing to distinguish the act [taking what is not mine without permission] and the result [no harm, surviving] and that stealing is the act and the act excludes the consequence. However, the consequence can be brought back into the act indirectly by asking what constitutes possession. Or, I can ask, “What is killing?” Some cases are clear: if I directly cause someone’s death, I have killed him. But, should lack of action be equivalent to action? Causing the death of a tree is – excepting some ethical systems – usually not described as “killing the tree.” Taking life requires that the object be living; but what is the boundary between life and non-life? If a robot appeared to have the entire range of feeling, thought, hopes of a human, would it be possible to kill the robot? The burden of right in relation to killing can be transferred to murder but this does not eliminate actual indefiniteness despite the possible theoretical promise e.g. if murder is unjustified and premeditated killing of another human being, does declaration of war constitute justification? Is an omission of a fact lying? If I tell a trivial non-truth to avoid the death of a friend, is that lying? I.e. is lying the telling of a non-truth or is it the telling of a non-truth in violation of a trust relationship?

These questions can be posed in another way: are moral values and concepts pre-defined [or should they be] in any sense e.g. Platonically or by being received or are they in a state of evolution i.e. is lying what I understood it to be the first time I had some grasp of the concept or may my concept of lying evolve? There is a related question, should my concept of lying evolve in the context of conflict between the moral imperative and personal consequences? The relevance of the question relates to the possibility of compromise of morality due to the conflict. However, it is a measure of my moral vision that I can make the distinction and of my moral fiber that my moral concepts can positively evolve [or, at least, not devolve] in the midst of action

The ethics of action is related to the ethics of thought – right thought, the ethics of intention and of will

Consequentialism, or teleologic ethics, is the ethics of consequences or ends, i.e. we ought to do whatever has the best consequences. As noted above there is a vagueness about the concept of consequence. A further issue is that there is a distinction between physical and moral consequence. The physical consequence of murder is a dead person; the moral consequence is a murdered person, the abbreviation of a life, the resulting pain and loss to others. The difference between the physical consequences of a murder and an attempted murder is significant; however the moral difference is not so significant even though the responses of others may be significantly different. The lack of distinction is due to the presence of the intent to harm

In classic utilitarianism, the sole good is pleasure and the sole evil is pain and the best consequences are the ones with the greatest [net] amount of pleasure

The imperatives of consequentialism and deontology appear to be in conflict but need not always be, e.g. when the consequences of different acts are of equal moral value [good] or when two actions have the same moral value [right] but the consequences are not equally good

While the ethics of actions and ends may appear to be constraints on actions or designs, ethics as constraint is narrow. Thus, the living of a life whose aim is the construction of or contribution to a better world is a moral virtue and has been argued to be a high virtue

Emotion and feeling do not appear to play a central role in the various ethical systems beyond such simple statements as pleasure is good or love an ultimate value. It should be remembered, however, that simple feeling is a driving force in the imperative to moral conduct. There may be a way, based in the theory of emotion developed earlier, to an integration of emotion with reflective ethics[43]

There may be relations between the various systems of reflective ethics. For example, it has been argued that a reflective ethics must have a theory of the good [ends or outcomes] and a theory of right action or conduct; however, it is not clear that this is true. Thus, natural law may show that consequences can be determined only up to a certain degree at a certain time and that at some point in time differences in actions have no effect in differences in outcome. Then, Kantian ethics could be invoked to choose between consequentialism and deontology

Even if Kantian ethics did make such a determination, choice would not necessarily result in the most moral reflective ethics for what would be the foundation that set the Kantian system as arbiter?

5.4.3        Applied Ethics

The origin of ethics must include moral concerns in actual situations. In the modern era there is an explicit concern with the application of ethics in various areas[44] of action and choice

Rather than thinking of applied ethics, I view the field as ethics-in-use. In this field, concrete situations or kinds of situation and moral concerns come together as one in the mind of the actor and both morals and action evolve as a result of the interaction. However, as a result of the development of ethics as a discipline this activity may be seen as the application of ethics – and this view is not without merit

5.5         Analysis of Judgment

The various ethical systems above are refinements of actual determinants of moral conduct that may be seen in practice and may be regarded as different aspects of the moral sense. While different individuals and societies may emphasize different aspects of moral sense, it is reasonable to suppose that a number of aspects are present and the actual determination of conduct requires judgment

Emotion and feeling do not play a central role in the process of determination of ethical or moral conduct. Of course, in some reflective ethics emotion defines what is of value, e.g. pleasure, but that does not determine conduct

Can there be a rational approach to judgment? That would seem to require some way to compare the different systems which would involve including emotion at least implicitly. Before entering such a discussion it will be good to recall the discussion of mind and matter as slack concepts. It is possible that in the attempt to be rational in ethics we may be attempting to specify a concept of ethics or morals that is over-determined with respect to what is, may and ought to be. This caution should not prevent attempts at clarifying and rationalizing moral judgment and may even aid that endeavor by reminding us that, at times, we may be asking to much of theory – not in the sense that theory would be inadequate or too difficult but, rather, that, beyond a certain point, the refinement of theory would correspond to no moral reality. This brings us back to the difficulty, above, with moral concepts such as killing, murder, stealing, lying: moral reality is not predetermined for all time and situations and not because of a limitation in the ability to apprehend that reality but, rather, because it is always to some extent in a state of coming to be. The thought that moral reality is laid out in advance for all situations and times is an appeal to a fictitious and determinate system that is and cannot be part of this or any world

That thought about the incompleteness of moral reality in relation to concepts and judgments, too, may enter into the reflections in a way that is liberating just as the same idea was found to liberate reflection on a variety of topics including mind, matter, being, space, time and existence

5.5.1        The tension among imperatives

While ethics may be univalent in theory or concept or in reflection, in an actual situation the choice is not always between good and evil [or between right and wrong.] There may be a number of good options which may be mutually exclusive or, alternatively, some constraint such as real economics may limit the full realization of all options. By real economics I mean e.g. limited resources and not an abstract economic principle such as “free market” and so on

A theorist may choose between the ethics of actions and the ethics of consequences; however, both theories are the formal expression of imperatives that predate the formulation of ethical theory or, perhaps, even the explicit recognition ethics and its distinction from other modes of valuation and judgment. Thus concerns about ends and about actions are present in any actual circumstance and not only because the distinction between actions and consequences is not absolute. Actions are important but insistence on action alone may preclude the constructive aspect of human society altogether; insistence on a minor action principle may lead to disastrous consequences. Consequences, too, are important; action towards ends or design is not merely something we undertake but is part of the fabric of being human. It is probably impossible to not make at least minor sacrifices toward major ends. Additionally, every point in the future is a consequence but when we talk of consequences in ethics we are usually talking of designated consequences at some point in the future – a point that is not so distant that we have no influence over it but sufficiently removed from the present that there is time and scope for designing and building; thus the choice is not only from among ends and actions but from among actions and ends on an axis of time from the present up to some point in the future where present and planned action would have no predictable effect

5.5.2        Ethics, Metaphysics and other concerns

Here, then, is one place that ethics and metaphysics interact for it is the province of metaphysics – which in the sense used here includes physics and the other sciences – to address the residue of the present

Further, the possibility of ethics, the status of the good, and the possibility of choice are metaphysical questions. The issue of free will is interesting and showing the compatibility of freedom of will, i.e. the ability to choose from alternatives, and determinism may be a useful exercise; however except from that interest I hold the exercise to be useless since the world is not deterministic. Showing the possibility of construction, action and choice in an indeterministic world is also an exercise that is taken up in Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action

Just as the ethics of actions and of consequences are the formal expressions of actual cognitive-emotional forces, so too are the disciplines of metaphysics, of ethics, of aesthetics and various pragmatic concerns such as the economic and the political

The complete and absolute, i.e. for all purposes and situations, distinction of the various considerations has not been accomplished and there is no reason to believe that the distinction exists in principle. Even if a distinction could be made and each concern formulated precisely the concerns would still compete; and it would then appear to be beyond the human powers of rationality to compare the concerns and compute courses of action

Therefore, judgment is necessary in the absence of complete knowledge and unbounded rationality

But judgment is not something that comes after the fact but was there from the beginning together with the various concerns all as part of being-in-the-midst-of-life and is the shared inner life of humankind

5.6         Meta-ethics

What is the nature of moral judgment and conduct? What is being done in reflective ethics – in determining moral conduct or engaging in ethical argument? Are ethical judgments facts, are they [capable of being] true or false, are they expressions of feeling, are they prescriptions of conduct?

Such questions which are not part of a system of reflective [normative] ethics but are about ethics are part of meta-ethics

Related issues concern the origin of ethics; relation between ethics and science and other parts of philosophy – especially evolution, process vs. state metaphysics e.g. in the question of consequentialism vs. deontology, determinism and choice, prima facie non-moral values such as beauty; relation between ethics and religion

What is the nature of ethical imperatives? Are they absolute i.e. binding? Is there a hierarchy of relative imperatives, and how would it be determined?

What is proper conduct when two imperatives or two concepts of the good are in conflict? Practically, there appear to be imperatives – at least there is some need for the appearance of imperatives or, else, anarchy and so on. But despite this, practically there are always ways in which the imperatives break down

5.7         Ethics, Being, Knowledge

Here are some relations that show that, at root, ethical action, being and knowledge are identical

Necessity of sentience, awareness, consciousness for significance and significance for ethics [values]

Ethics has a role in determining what knowledge is. Due to limited resources, choices are made about what knowledge endeavors to support. This is related but not identical to my meaning which is that there is a distinction between knowledge that is fundamental in the growth of being and knowledge that is merely factual or accumulative. This principle is one to guide choices rather than to impose constraints. It may be said, somewhat simplistically, that an individual may possess complete knowledge without having all information. In this sense, the “total amount of knowledge” is not limitless. Thus, knowledge and ethics are intimately connected

Further limits to the extent of knowledge that are not intrinsically ethical in nature but that also limit the cumulative aspect of acquisition, in this case from epistemology, were seen above in Mind

The mechanism of the origin and growth of being, of the acquisition of knowledge and of ethical action are, at root, identical. The origin of being from nothingness requires the spontaneous manifestation of structure; only stable or self-sustaining structures have more than transient being. The spontaneous manifestation is both possible and necessary since nothingness implies the absence, not only of objects, but also of determinism, causation and law. Growth of knowledge requires hypothesis and selection. Ethical action is not merely a selection from given alternatives but, fundamentally, requires the creation of alternatives before selection. It would seem that ethical action and growth of knowledge are guided by the being of the organism and, so, are distinct from the origin of being. This is true only for the instant of origin and beyond that the further growth is conditioned by what has come before

5.8         Ethics and Journey in Being

The Principle of Being implies that the individual can realize all possibilities. Not all possibilities are equally feasible or equally valuable. Choosing the path for the journey is a function, first, of, creation of the concepts of possible paths, judging effort and time to be devoted to that creation and to the actual travel, and, then, in comparing and combining paths, a function of effort / feasibility and value

The final sections correspond to the “paths” or divisions of the Journey in Being. The material that is retained from the divisions are extensions of or useful to the metaphysics


A review of the problems is useful in Journey in Being – for ideas and methods, and to avoid unnecessary labor of rediscovery and error

A number of problems are considered “along the way” in this and other essays. Formal treatment is deferred to a subsequent edition of the present essay

6.1         The Problems of Metaphysics

The fundamental problem of metaphysics – often cast as “why is there something rather than nothing?” but recast in the present metaphysics as “why is there presence, sentience, awareness or consciousness?” The relation between existence and sentience touches on the nature of being. The present and other core essays include a resolution of the fundamental problem and include discussion of the nature of being

What is the meaning of “exist” – what is predicated of something that is said to exist and what kind of concept is existence?

The existence of forms, categories and universals, and particulars; the existence and nature [“the most perfect being” and “the most real of all things” in classical metaphysics] of God; the soul, mind and body: soul-body, mind-body relationships; determinism, cause and action, freedom, choice, will, fatalism; truth, reason and value; nature and the external world: the reality of material things, the organizing principles of nature; space and time; the conception of spirit…

Additional issues of substance ontology: monism… anomalous monism, dualism; Heidegger’s being-in-the-world-before-I-theorize-about-it, and Wittgenstein’s ambivalent shying away from ontology and metaphysics and later shunning of system altogether. The pragmatic invariance of substance ontologies:  ontological idealism as equivalent to ontological materialism. Substance and process metaphysics

Knowledge is at the heart of metaphysical possibility: what is knowledge, what are its kinds [e.g. fact which is analyzed as acquaintance and description and relationship which includes explanation, theory, and science], how are they “justified” [quotes to remind that both the term and its meaning are problematic]… and how does this lead to the possibility of metaphysics. Knowledge is an ontological object

6.2         Modern Problems in Metaphysics

The theory of objects, the study of possibility and necessity – and the study of possible worlds, the interaction between general metaphysics and the special problems such as free will, the interaction between metaphysics [philosophy] and the sciences

6.3         Types of Metaphysical Theory

Platonism, Aristotelianism, Thomism; Cartesianism; idealism; materialism

6.4         Criticisms

The divorce of metaphysics and the empirical; Hume, Kant, Logical Positivism, Moore, Wittgenstein 

6.5         Argument and Construction in Metaphysics. Meta-questions

A priori foundations – the nature of an a priori science; Kantian transcendental analytic; empirical foundations; logical character of metaphysical statements and logical form of metaphysical arguments

“If there is a ground to all being, there is an end to explanation,” see Metaphysics / Action, and arguments that nothingness is equivalent to all being in, e.g., Nothingness

Facts and theories as data points; multiple traditions; disciplines [including sciences] and activities as metaphor and analogy; language, logic, knowledge and their analyses; essential relationship between the possibility of metaphysics and the nature of knowledge

The result of a whole life; living at center / edge of knowledge, being, and the real; transformation, experiment, construction

A simple concept of method: [1] ad hoc mapping of knowledge and being; sources include experience, imagination, myth, religion, science, literature, life, world / mind / depth, criticism; [2] necessity of action in knowing and becoming – experience, transform, construct, learn; and, [3] repeat

Metaphysics develops through analysis of and action in relation to real problems; nothingness, origins, existence, presence, mind / life / matter, nature and possibility of knowledge, the concept and use of metaphysics and philosophy… and the specialized disciplines


A number of questions of the type, “What is X?” where the nature of “X” is not clear have been asked. Examples for X are: mind, matter, metaphysics, being, knowledge, language, concepts, universe, existence, and so on

The approach here has not been to provide an exhaustive analysis of the questions for that would take up much more space than I have used or want to use. Nonetheless, there are some themes to the process of attempting to answer such questions that include:

Questions about the object: what thing or things come under the topic being discussed?

Conceptual questions: what kind of thing or things are under discussion, or what is the concept [that is the mental construct or content] that corresponds to the object?

Analytic and synthetic questions: of what components and relations can the object be considered to be made; what more inclusive objects contain the given object as a component [or relation?] Just as in the case of the original object, all elements in the hierarchy have an objective and a conceptual side. By allowing the range of concept / object to be sufficiently general in nature e.g. relations [force in physics, knowledge in the case of being] whole systems of theory / metaphysics may result

What are the sources of information and knowledge regarding the topic of discussion: use and experiment, conceptualization, variety of examples, the [traditions of] experience and conceptualization of others – through verbal communication and the literature?

How can the assertions made in responding to the previous questions especially object and concept questions be justified? Note that, from earlier discussion, unless shown otherwise, all justification is provisional or in-process

Such questions that are not an immediate and simple answer to the original question but are about that question may be called meta-questions. Although meta-questions skirt around the original question they do so in order to be able to understand it better and to provide a better, more grounded answer without excessive reification or judgment. Additionally, the same meta-question arises repeatedly: what is the concept of mind, what is the concept of existence, what is the concept of concept and so on. Therefore, while the additional attention to care and detail is useful in understanding the individual topics, there also results an approach to analysis that is useful in analyzing many other topics. The application never becomes mechanical for, with each application, there is potential to create or have further understanding of both the topic and the approach and to expand and integrate the tools that constitute it

6.6         Recent Metaphysics

… and recent metaphysicians

John Dewey and William James, US; Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, the Continent; Alfred North Whitehead 

Donald Davidson, Saul Kripke



The conceptual approaches through knowledge are also experiments – with ideas; and, since knowledge is a form of being, understanding is also transformation of being

However, the Experiments emphasize transformation and construction of being itself in all aspects – physical, mental and potential

Purpose and Nature of the Experiments

Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action introduced the Principle of Being that all being is accessible to every being. This is the principle that the self is the ultimate or, from Vedanta philosophy, the true self i.e. the ultimate discovered subjectively or Atman is Brahman, the ultimate discovered objectively. The Principle of Being was demonstrated conceptually. It is the purpose of this section to demonstrate the truth of the Principle of Being through actual transformation

What is a Transformation of Being?

The following processes count as transformations of being:

The following actual processes are examples: conception and development of the organism / death / acquisition of knowledge / development or change of personality / origin of the universe / origin and evolution of social groups

All known or actual processes. Transformations of the very being itself are emphasized – it is essential that transformations of being are not restricted to normal growth

All hypothetical changes or processes that are possible will count as transformations of being. It follows trivially from the Principle of Being that all hypothetical transformations with possible initial and end states are possible. What states are possible? A state is possible, i.e. it may exist if its concept does not involve contradiction. It is not necessary, for a transformation of being to be possible, for the being itself to recognize its own identity through the transformation; it is sufficient that some sentient being could. Therefore, as examples, the following hypothetical transformations are possible transformations of being:

Water into wine / creation of the universe from nothing / a bacterium spontaneously transmutes into a zebra / Jesus rising from the dead / a man simply ceases to be, becomes nothingness. The issue that these transformations appear to contradict common sense / physics is addressed subsequently

…and all imagined and unimagined transformations where the initial and end points may exist

If A -> B is possible, i.e. a possible transformation, then B -> A is possible; if A -> B and B -> C are possible, then A -> C is a possible

As noted above, it follows from the Principle of Being, that all transformations with possible initial and end states are possible. That is trivial

The following considerations arise: what is possibility and what is possible; what transformations are likely, probable or feasible and what are the backgrounds against which probability and feasibility are or may be evaluated; how may an organism or being change -magnify- the probability of a transformation from its value when measured against a background of inert physics or change feasibility based on a normal view of limits; what transformations are meaningful and desirable – and are there ways in which transformations that seem to lack meaning actually have meaning or transformations that actually lack meaning may be given meaning? The considerations are treated and elaborated in what follows


Earlier, especially in Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action, I introduced and elaborated the concepts of the possible [45] and of nothingness. I noted that anything that is possible is necessary; i.e. will obtain in some phase-epoch of the universe. This is equivalent to what I called the Principle of Being, that all being is accessible to every being; in particular, it was seen that the universe is equivalent to nothingness

The Principle of Being is equivalent to the statement that there are no limits on beings; more precisely, the only limits are logical e.g. it is not possible for a being to be a spider and not a spider at the same time[46]. In other words, everything that is not logically impossible is possible or, simply, provided the logical condition is kept in mind, “everything is possible”

The requirement of possibility eliminates logical contradictions such as a state in which an object is, for example, both black and not-black. Note that although in traditional logic that corresponds to the traditional view of reality [objects that are black and not-black are not possible objects] such logical contradictions are avoided and although the introduction of any contradiction implies that all assertions are true, there are reasons to consider non-traditional objects of the kind in question. One reason is that “impossible” objects lead to conceptual completeness and true contradiction is avoided by tracking the consequences of hypothesizing or positing impossible objects. A realistic reason is that at some level reality may be constituted of such objects; it is then an exercise to see how traditional being and logic result from the indefinite level. Such considerations were also taken up in Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action

Means or Ways

However, possibility and feasibility are not identical. Thus, what is possible in general may be impossible in a phase-epoch of the universe in which certain laws of physics hold – whether exactly or even approximately. “The” laws of physics always pertain to a phase-epoch of the universe but are not universal in any absolute sense; this is not the point that the laws are approximate but, rather, that they have genesis and end that are co-extensive with a phase-epoch. Further, something that is physically possible may be extremely difficult. In terms of probabilities, some physical possibilities are colossally improbable relative to a phase-epoch of the universe and its laws – but, against the entire universe as background the physical improbability is replaced by universal necessity

Therefore, practically, physical probability – i.e. for the physics of a phase-epoch of the universe – is significant though not absolute concern

A first practical issue concerns the question of what possibilities are likely and, when possibilities are unlikely relative to the physics of an inert universe, how may probabilities be magnified? The first general answer is that life is a magnification of probabilities. First, given appropriate conditions, life has its origin in the magnifying effect of time. In other words, the probability of an occurrence is a definite quantity when a context and a period of time are specified. Over many such intervals of time the probability is magnified. It may be argued that the probability of the origin of life on earth relative to the original inert planet was small; however, clearly, relative to the universe – especially in its equivalence to nothingness as shown in the metaphysics of Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action – the probability is not small; rather the origin of life over and over becomes necessary. In our world, once life began it served to magnify probabilities; perhaps catalyze is a better term than magnification of probability; life served to catalyze the path from material to new living forms through the mechanisms of evolution. Thus, the origin of life takes probability out of its raw physical realm; this kind of transition is repeated at various turning points. This is not the whole story; the seeming improbability of the outcome, given even the origin and evolution of life and of turning points, can be explained away: the actual outcome was not determined from the outset and is one of a large number of physical possibilities that were no longer colossally improbable once life began. Each possibility would still have a small probability but the likelihood of occurrence of one the possibilities opened up by the origin of life was no longer microscopic[47]

A second, general, answer to magnification of probabilities – of catalysis – is in the origin of intelligence and mind [as we know it.] The ability of mind to catalyze change is – at least one aspect of – intelligence. The origin of mind and intelligence as we know them constitute an evolutionary transition that takes probability out of one realm and into another; in the case of conscious intelligence, the organism acquires meaning – as we know it – and participates in evolution

The role of knowledge and action in interaction is essential:

Knowledge or knowing is a form of being; so the ways of knowledge are ways of transformation of being. Even the most rational growth involves experiment and hypothesis for, otherwise, there would be no new knowledge. In the field of knowledge and knowing, the extreme contrast to rational process there is the direct in-tuition of mysticism

Knowledge also shows some possibilities and ways of transformation. Thus, knowledge and action, separately and in interaction are involved in the transformations. A rational transformation would be one in which action proceeded from knowledge; the extreme contrast to rational transformation is direct action which may be either chosen or, in some situations, necessary. Actual transformations, in which knowledge and action are iterative but not binding interaction, lie to the interior of the continuum whose extreme points are rational transformation and direct action

Given the equivalence of nothingness and all being and the lack of clear boundaries between knowledge and being, between mind and mind, between individual and individual – there is no absolute distinction between transformation by knowing and transformation by becoming

Meaning and Value

First, consider meaning or significance

That a transformation is possible does not make it significant or meaningful. For example, consider transformation of a being A to a being B. How can that be meaningful if there is no being C [which could be A or B] which is aware of and into whose life the transformation enters in some constructive way? The existence of meaning is guaranteed as follows from Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action: if the transformation occurs in a phase-epoch U of the universe, there is a phase-epoch U’ in which beings A’, B’, and C’ exist that are similar to A, B, C of U and for which C’ has the “desired” awareness and construction. How is significance introduced? The first step is the introduction of meaning as just described; there is a variety of examples in Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action. Beyond this the construction of significance requires imagination and experiment and this is one of the objectives of considering Transformations of Being. A transformation is significant to the extent that it is a realization of the ultimate possibilities of being or a construction or pathway to that realization. Initially, significance is founded in the actual being as described, for example, in Mind and subsequent sections on mind and being

Meaning and significance are related to ethics and aesthetics. Human ethics and aesthetics are not insignificant but it is not assumed that received value is ultimate value or that being and value are separate realms; see Ethics, Being, Knowledge

Now consider value

Not all possibilities are desirable; and of those that might be desirable some are intrinsically more desirable. I use the word “intrinsically” in the following way. One outcome or an endeavor may be intrinsically more valuable than another but may require so much more in the way of effort and resources as to be practically less desirable

What is desirability or value? Ethics or morals are one way of representing value. Here, ethics is not understood in a limited way of judging outcomes [the good] or actions [the right] but includes the moral value of, for example, a way of living or an endeavor. Ethics can be discussed in terms of the good [and the right] or comparatively in terms of “better” or “worse.” If an outcome is good it is desirable. However how to compare alternative outcomes – some way of deciding or seeing what is the better of any two of the alternatives is needed

The title of this section includes value but not morals or ethics. That is because morality is not the only way in which value is seen; beauty and truth are other important examples of value. Although truth, beauty and morality intersect they are independent concepts. It is not the purpose here to provide a full account of value [axiology] but to point out the kinds of value and the possibility of relationships. In fact, relationships are necessary since all forms of value must enter into making choices

There may be an objection to the use of the word “value” due to its supposed economic origin. However, as we have seen in the discussion of language, there is no necessary relation among the historical uses of a word – not even a family relation; for, when the use of a word has diverged sufficiently from its original use the one word becomes two distinct symbols

The questions of significance, meaning and probability are not independent. If two outcomes have equal significance then, all other things being equal, an attempt at construction of the more probable outcome will be chosen more often. However, a less likely but more significant outcome may be chosen over a less significant but assured outcome. There are situations in which choice can be reduced to a calculus but there does not appear to be any universal calculus of choice. Rather, risk is involved; the risk cannot be fully calculated and involves a real component of danger and potential loss; the whole being is involved; and, to the extent that choices are not exclusive, a distribution of effort and other resources is possible; the organism is alive

In choosing paths of action, there is a commonsense relation between effort, likelihood and value: an outcome may be sought or a path may be undertaken when the likelihood is low and the effort is high provided that the value is sufficiently high. This approach may also be used, intuitively or in a formal way based on some kind of measure, to compare alternative paths or outcomes. Actual efforts, likelihoods are not known in advance and it is not clear that values can be made quantitative. Therefore, in general, comparisons are rough and intuitive and conflictual; as noted above, the organism is alive. In limited contexts, quantitative assignments and comparisons may be possible; however, in general, judgment is required in determining actions or desired outcomes. Imperative values are not exceptions to this description since the value is then infinitely positive or negative. There is, however, a problem with imperative values of the form “X is imperative.” Roughly, the imperative form is rigid: if imperatives are allowed then there may be an imperative Y that, together with X, results in a contradiction. Further, the concept of the imperative is undermined by the fact that the meaning of a value cannot be given for all situations

What makes an endeavor worthwhile, then, is a function of estimates of effort, likelihood and value

The Value of Transformations of Being

Transformation is of intrinsic value. The following are secondary reasons

Incompleteness of knowledge as a mode of transformation. We saw earlier that knowledge and the use of technology are incomplete transformations of being. That is, even if an individual knew everything that could be known, his or her being would still incomplete relative to what is possible – except that, perhaps, only the ultimate being can “know everything”

The result of meditation. Meditation reveals layers of mind; this suggests the arbitrariness of boundaries and the possibility of transformations

The question “What is Metaphysics?” shows that it cannot be restricted to activity of the mind; action and being [becoming] are essential to a full nature of metaphysics and to the process of metaphysics

There is a role for direct experiment where failure – including death – is loss… but see discussion of the nature of death below

 Dynamics of Being

The Dynamics of Being is an approach to transformation of being. The problem of transformation may be stated by saying that there appear to be limits to the possibilities of being. However, it was seen in the Introduction that there are no absolute limits. Limits are relative in that certain transformations are improbable or infeasible. It was also seen that being is in possession of the means to magnify raw probabilities, to find ways to enhance feasibility. The dynamics of being is that means; it uses the faculties of being and is an approach based in the nature and origin of being

Dynamics of Being defines a class of experiments and the concept of experiment

The Principle of Being

The principle of being is that all being is accessible to every being. This follows from the dynamics but, when recognized, motivates and guides it. The principle is discussed in the section Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action

Introduction to the Dynamics

Being has a sense of the real; this includes limits to individual being

Distinctions between the one real and the many senses of the real are not ultimate

In some settings a disruption of the sense of the real is pathological; but an excessively firm sense of reality, too, can be pathological: rigidity, extreme conservatism… often the sense of the real appears firm but, usually, if the individual examines his or her history the sense of the real is found to be fluid. In the absence of ultimate realizations, this is as it should be…

That a limit is part of the sense of the real does not make it real; the only a priori certain limits on any given being are those that are limits on all being; this was shown to be true in the section Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action; and the only limits on all being are logical limits; a limit is a logical limit if the concept of its transcendence involves a contradiction

An approach to discovery of the nature of limits is through experiment; one becomes aware of the sense of limits as real limits; there are various experiments with limits including physical experiment with one’s being and concepts from the history of culture including science; limits are overcome in individual life and in evolution

The distinction between individual life and evolution – all being – is apparent but not real

Individual being is not the finite sense of the self; even though that sense is tied in with survival and the sense of the real

The dynamics of being is an approach to transformation – from the everyday to realization of the ultimate


While the Dynamics of Being outlines an approach, Becoming defines the modes of transformation

What is retained from the Journey in Being shows how the modes of becoming correspond to the dimensions of Mind


Includes perception, vision-quest; dreams and use of hypnotic and meditative states, aspects of yoga; systems of knowledge

In an enhance meaning, perception, is sometimes used to refer to the entire range of cognition-emotion; this emphasizes the opening up of mind and being to full potential

The principle of perception is to liberate the normalizing function of the ego in perception[48]


Includes direct transformation of physical states and indirect effect of action on physical and mental states; aspects of yoga

Construction of being and society

Transformations Involving Extension in Time


Learning and growth; development of the functions

Personality and its Development

Communication, charisma, choice, will

Personality and its transformations


Development of the dynamics of being and becoming

Arching from the Individual to the Universal

Perception and Vision-Quest

I once wrote, “Regardless of material outcome or pain, quality of life is related to the quality of its vision - eidetic, hallucinatory, conceptual, or otherwise - and to living the truth of the vision”


…and vision – is not limited to the sensory perceptions, to seeing: what is called direct knowledge and is related to mystic awareness, insight or knowledge is also included here. The further expanded meaning in which perception includes all of cognition, especially thought, when used as an instrument of knowledge – rather than judgment – is not used in this section of this essay except, however, for the important role of interpretation in perception


Various systems including the Shamanic vision quest and the mystic systems of Europe and the Middle East, modern approaches to vision an example of which is Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception

Also included is the kind of knowledge, awareness and vision that occurs in the vision-quest

The Nature of Being

The basic concept for this article is the identity of [human] being with the ultimate. This is the Principle of Being of Journey in Being, and the idea Atman = Brahman of Vedanta and the goal of Mysticism. Mysticism is found in all religions, in Shamanic and other Ecstatic practices, and in secular experience

On Mind

The following supplements the discussion in Mind

There is a context within which, certainly, some hallucination is dysfunction

However, the idea that all hallucination is aberration is based on a limited, value laden metaphysics that is itself – if projected to the whole of human reality – an aberration. Dreams and Hypnosis, taken up below, are hallucinations but are not aberrations on any view. An individual may choose to seek hallucinatory visions as a means of releasing the normally quite strictly channeled perceptual faculties into the full content of mental space including the unconscious. Then, hallucination has meaning and significance in a number of ways. First, there is the intensity, vividness, and intrusive character of the hallucination; the quality of the content may suggest its own meaning apart from any possible source or object; and the intensity etc. may intrude a separate sense of reality that loosens or dislodges the normal sense with its own possible set of aberrations. The content of the hallucination may have significance in the following ways: as an actual symbol of unconscious content that may or may not require interpretation; and an open symbol seeking an object e.g. the content may be a representation of an idea that has been sought or may be, with interpretation, indicate a path of action

Since the body / brain is an expression of individual and evolutionary past, visions / hallucinations and dreams are, as expressions of the organism, expressions of those dimensions of the past including the human, animal and material and pre-material levels which may be in remote unconscious places. There are depths of evolutionary contact between psyche and the ultimate. These “contacts” are forgotten, re-perceived and may then be become

Just as there is a conventional function – it is an actual function, the convention is that it is the only valid function – of perceptual faculties, it is commonly implied that the function of thought is conception in its limited meaning; and that direct and immediate knowledge through thought as in contemplation is not possible through. Again, this is based in limited metaphysics. Such limited schemes of understanding are not so much mistaken as adapted to a limited physical and mental context. An issue is the absolute distinction: perception vs. conception

Vision, Dream and Hallucination

The so-called hypnagogic and hypnopompic dreams may be considered to be borderline cases of both dreaming and of hallucination; these also merge into lucid dreaming i.e. being aware that one is dreaming but continuing to dream and affecting the dream. The idea of auto-hallucination is similar to that of lucid dreaming

Experiments in the Transformation of Being

There is a class of Experiments in the Transformation of Being in which vision experiments enhanced by discovery of limits, their relative nature, overcoming, and discovery of the nature and a sequence of limits that arch from human being to the ultimate. Alternatively, the path through depth to the unconscious to all reality Brahman = Atman

Dreams and Hypnosis

What Will a Theory of Dreams Do?

Although there is no one objective for a theory of dreams, a central objective of such a theory will be to show what role dreams do and may have in the life of the individual. This will include

The place of dreaming in the day to day activity and the life of the individual and the community – especially psychologically but also physiologically. This issue can be approached in terms of the psychologically and physiology of the individual and ecologically or evolutionarily in terms of the mutual adaptation of organism and environment

Although place or role can be interpreted narrowly as the effects of dreams, the relations / integrations among dream, sleep, wake, hallucination, vision-quest, various mental states – meditative / mystic / oceanic / stress or drug induced… are also important

The question of the distinction among the states is reflected in the saying attributed to Chuang Tzu c. 500 BC “I dreamt I was a butterfly, and didn’t know when I awoke if I was a man who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who now dreamt he was a man” or in the following quotes from Bertrand Russell “It is obviously possible that what we call waking life may be only an unusual and persistent nightmare,” and further, “I do not believe that I am now dreaming but I cannot prove I am not.” Although there are clear differences between waking consciousness and dreaming – waking consciousness is generally coherent, vivid, and more easily remembered this does not imply an absolute distinction. As organisms adapted to a certain environment, a general coherence to awareness to the environment is expected. But as far as adaptation is incomplete or, on the other hand, as far as adaptation remains unspecific and therefore to entire being, lack of coherence is also adaptive. Therefore, the question whether I am a butterfly or a man is somewhat incoherent since reality itself does not have the solidity of a rock…

How dreams affect and may be used by the individual and the community – how dreams affect the state / behavior [mental and physical] of the individual and of the community; and how the individual and community may use dream content. To talk about content first note that there are formal parallels between waking and dream contents. In the first place dream content may have a direct effect upon the state / behavior of the individual e.g. waking up in a cognitive-emotional / behavioral state that is a direct result of the dream i.e. the connection between the dream and the state / behavior does not occur at a conscious level; this occurs within the individual whose state / behavior may then affect the community. Indirect effect may involve reflection upon the content and, then, an effect based on the conclusion to the reflection – this occurs within the individual or within the community if the dreamer shares the dream content. To ask in what ways this may occur, first note that contents may present as depictions of reality or fact [assertive / depictive, or, in the case that the depiction is clearly hypothetical as implied question] as instruction or command [directive,] as dedication or promise [commissive,] as free content [expressive,] or as creating – usually social – reality [declarative.] When the dream is pictorial / sensory content is restricted to expressive and, perhaps, assertive-hypothetical. Each kind in its own manner has a kind of literal meaning and thus the dream content may be taken literally. In the case of assertive or depictive content the literal meaning is that the dream depicts or reflects reality. In the other cases the command, promise or declaration may be taken literally. Expression may be regarded as literal expression of mental content. However, just as in the case of waking content, there is more than literal content: dreams have been taken as a source of divination i.e. as predicting the future; as healing; as extensions of the waking state or as, together with the waking state, constituting the constituting the complete mental life of the individual; or as only indirectly reflecting actual or real content e.g. as evidence of or reflecting unconscious activity and, so, as source of real meaning [through interpretation] or, since it is in the unconscious that mind and body / universe merge, of creative knowledge of all being

A theory of dreams would show what combination of the foregoing is true; this might depend on the kind of dream. Note, though, that dream content may is also creative and therefore, rather than regard the dream content be taken as given, the individual / community may use dream contents to ends of their own design and choosing; on this account any interpretation of content has validity i.e. dreams may be taken as divination, as healing, as reflecting reality, as command / promise / dedicative… Further, when the dream content is taken given, there is the further dual task of finding the real content [in the real case the real content is the actual content] and demonstrating that that content is in fact the real content

In practice, as far as content is [taken as] given, the content may not yield, fully or at all, to rational theory and therefore the realization of the content is open to creative judgment. When the content is taken as an element of the creative life of the individual, the use of the dream content is an open and creative process in which the rational and judgmental evaluation may be used

The Nature of Dreams

A dream is a perception that has no external source and that occurs during sleep. Is this specification adequate? The following considerations arise:

Since perception is usually of an object, it would be more correct to replace “perception” by “experience,” “perceptual experience,” or “experience as of a perception”

Of course, dreams do have external sources but these are relatively remote or indirect. Therefore it would be better to say that “A dream is a perceptual experience with no immediate external source…”

It follows that, in one meaning of “hallucination” a dream is a hallucination[49]. It would be correct to say that a dream is a hallucination except that “hallucination” often has the connotation of aberration or dysfunction; however, even while awake, not all hallucinations are considered to lie on an axis of dysfunction. It could be argued that although not all hallucinatory contexts are dysfunctional they all lie on an axis of dysfunction; however, while such use may be appropriate in a clinical setting, the concept of dysfunction has no connection to phenomenon of hallucination. Insistence that all hallucination is dysfunction involves an at least implicit implication that the function of perception is to perceive external [physical] data and not mental states such as memories and memory associations including the unconscious. This thought gives some rational basis to and a meaning of the idea that dreams, hallucinations and reality are not completely different “worlds”

Do dreams occur only in sleep? If dreams are defined as imagery – usually vivid – that occurs in sleep then, of course dreams occur only in sleep. However, although dreams normally occur in sleep it is not useful to insist that dreams occur only in sleep. In the first place there are dreamlike experiences that occur on the boundary between sleep and wake – hypnopompic [awakening] and hypnagogic [sleep onset] dreams that lie on the borderline between normal dreaming and normal hallucination. Further, while sleeping and waking cognition and their physiologies are normally distinct there is cross over: waking cognition enters into dreaming in lucid dreaming and relaxation [meditation] can be used in inducing dreamlike states while awake

Dreams, Hallucinations, Imagery and Thought

Dreams, hallucinations and images are produced by the same system under different circumstances. Whereas the phenomena and experience of dreams and imagery are produced by the balance of engrams and sensory perception, hallucinations are often the result of nervous excitation due to e.g. an excess of or heightened sensitivity to the neurotransmitter dopamine at certain receptor sites in the brain

It does not follow that there are no normal hallucinations in waking states

Thought is the occurrence of images – either iconic or symbolic – that are constructed from memory in relation to ongoing experience and immersion in the world. How is it possible that thought patterns can correspond to reality? Firstly, physical sequence and relationship affect neural association. Secondly, thought involves trial and error or hypothesis, comparison and correction

This shows a number of ways in which realistic thought can break down

When the images have an intensity that matches or exceeds that of sensory perception

When immersion in the world is disrupted as in isolation – social and or physical – and deprivation

Neural damage or sensitivity affects the system of neural associations

The system of normal trial and error breaks down as a result of pressure from heightened affective states [e.g. mania;] or breakdown is part of an ego-defense… or is underdeveloped for various reasons including underdevelopment of the ego

The system of normal trial and error is volitionally or semi-volitionally suspended in the face of threats / opportunities to the individual

Since compensation is possible, the presence of one or more of these factors implies a tendency but not necessity to the break down of realistic thought

Almost every factor can be precipitated by the various factors in psychosis: deprivation, isolation and exposure; drugs; brain injury and mental disorders

The factors in breakdown of realistic thought provide an explanation of delusional thinking. It does not follow that delusion-like thought is invariably non-functional and can be both protective and creative

The Dream Mechanism

Here is a simple theory. The brain / mind constantly receives and processes a much larger amount of data, both external and internal, than reaches consciousness; what reaches consciousness is screened and integrated. Integration is the perception of whole objects as whole: the different shapes and colors of an object are seen – experienced without reflection being necessary to the experience – as cohesively constituting the object; screening is the suppression from consciousness of less important information. What is of lesser importance is affected by integration and interpretation – a stimulus that does not fit as part of a whole object or of external reality is suppressed for that reason. There is also a scanning function so that what has been suppressed may – slowly or suddenly – come into conscious focus. In hallucinations, and in dreaming the screening, integration and scanning functions are suppressed or disrupted. In dreaming the disruption is correlated with certain brain states; in waking hallucination the disruption is correlated with [altered] brain structure or chemistry [drugs, mental disorders and disorganization, brain damage, heightened perception]

Physiological Correlates of Dreams

Here are some primary physiological correlates of dreams:

In humans, the most vivid, visual dreams occur during rapid eye movement [REM] sleep during which the brain is very active as shown by an EEG [electroencephalogram], and the large muscles are relaxed. REM or D-state [desynchronized or dreaming] sleep occurs every 90 - 100 minutes, 3 to 4 times a night, and lasts longer as the night progresses; the final REM period is up to 45 minutes. Less vivid dreams occur during non-REM sleep; these are like thought and waking experience

Something about sleep makes it difficult to remember dreams

Sleep and dreams are affected by a variety of drugs and medications, including alcohol. Stopping certain drugs suddenly may cause nightmares

D-state sleep has been seen in all mammals studied, for example in monkeys, dogs, cats, rats, elephants, shrews, and opossums, and in some birds and reptiles

The D-state depends on the pontine tegmentum, a part of the brain stem; and appears to be associated with norepinephrine in the brain. Other stages of sleep appear to be associated with serotonin. The D-state is associated with increased variability in breathing and heart rate, relaxation of skeletal muscles and increased physiological sexual activity such as blood flow in sex organs

Various related phenomena – lucid dreaming, waking dreams, dreams on the border of sleep, sleep walking have simple explanations based in the physiology. Lucid dreaming requires further explanation that is given later


The purpose of this section on sleep is to provide some information on sleep that may be useful [1] in thinking about dreams, and [2] for later developments

Neural Theories of Sleep

In some older theories, sleep-wake alternation was thought to be a function of differences in individual neurons. Later it was found that the ascending reticular activating system [ARAS, a group of nerves in the brain] maintains [waking] cortical arousal and that the action of the ARAS was modulated by sensory input. Injuries to the ARAS produced sleep thus supporting a passive view of sleep i.e. that there is no specific organ or center of sleep. However, there remains the question as to how sensory input affects the function of the ARAS

It was found that electrical stimulation of certain areas of the hypothalamus and other areas of the brain can induce sleep. Secondly, the discovery of REM sleep which is active in its nature also supports an active view of sleep. REM sleep can be eliminated in experimental animals by surgical destruction of a group of nerve cells in the pons. However, there is an additional question whether REM and NREM or non rapid eye movement sleep are produced by the same mechanisms. Sleep may have both active and passive aspects with the active / passive elements distributed differently according to the different phases of sleep

Serotonin and norepinephrine are associated, respectively, with NREM and REM sleep. Additionally, REM sleep is eliminated but NREM sleep unaffected, by injuries to the pontine tegmentum; and NREM sleep is suppressed when the brain stem has been severed at the midpoint of the pons, indicating a possible NREM mechanism behind the midpoint of the pons that suppresses the arousal effect of the ARAS

REM Sleep

REM involves continuous low voltage, mixed frequency EEG that is faster than in stages 2 through 4 NREM sleep; intermittent rapid eye movements; continuous relaxation of the continuous slight waking tension of facial muscles, suppression of spinal reflexes and motor inhibition; relatively high rates of autonomic activity and variability; and high rates of firing of cerebral neurons that are often comparable to or greater than the rates while awake. The locus ceruleus, in the pons, has been identified as the likely source of the inhibition: when it is surgically destroyed in animals, there results period active, apparently goal-directed behavior in REM sleep while continuing to have the characteristic REM sleep lack of response to external stimulation

Sequences of NREM and REM sleep

Stages of NREM sleep are ordered 1-2-3-4-3-2

In adult humans, sleep typically progresses as follows: first, 70 – 90 minutes of NREM sleep; followed by 5 – 15 minutes of [first period of] REM sleep. This is followed by NREM–REM cycles each of approximately the same length with the length of the NREM phases shrinking while the REM phases lengthen. There is approximately three times as much NREM sleep as there is REM sleep. After the first two or three cycles, stages 3 and 4 NREM sleep are lost and most of the NREM is stage 2

NREM Sleep

Four conventional stages have been identified according to EEG patterns

The stage 1 EEG tracing is a low-voltage mixed-frequency tracing with significant θ-wave [4 – 7 Hz] activity

Stage 2: relatively low-voltage EEG tracing with intermittent, short sequences of 12–14 Hz waves [“sleep spindles”] and K-complexes – biphase wave forms that can be induced by stimulation and are spontaneous in sleep

Stages 3 and 4: relatively high-voltage [> 50 μv] EEG tracings primarily δ-wave [1 – 2 Hz] activity. Stage 4 is associated with greater amounts of δ-wave [1 – 2 Hz] activity

Light and Deep Sleep

On the basis of EEG patterns – by comparison with he EEG patterns of NREM sleep are those associated in other circumstances with decreased vigilance – and from the observation that in NREM sleep that follows being awake most ANS functions decrease activity and variability, NREM sleep, especially stage 4 and to some extent stage 3, appears to support the healing / regenerative function that is associated with sleep. Observations that support this function of stage 4 NREM sleep are: its increase after physical exercise; its concentration in early sleep; and its predominance in sleep after extended periods of sleep deprivation

In some measures, REM sleep is lighter while in other measures it is deeper than NREM sleep. Muscle tone is lowest in REM sleep but ANS and CNS activity in REM are higher than in NREM sleep and compare with such activity in the waking state. For meaningful stimuli the arousal threshold from REM sleep compares to the threshold for light NREM sleep of stages 1 and 2 while for stimuli without significance the REM threshold is high – perhaps due to shutting out of non-significant stimuli in REM. Awakened sleepers describe REM as deep and NREM as light but this may be due the low muscle tone or to the subjective involvement with dreaming in REM sleep

The various data in this and other sections are consistent with REM sleep being associated with neural reorganization and repair and association of NREM sleep with general / body healing and repair

Dreams as Transitional Between Deep Sleep and the Waking State

It is reasonable to conclude that dreams may be seen as transitional between deep sleep and the waking state. However, it cannot be concluded from this that dreaming has no function. Perhaps, earlier in evolution, all perception and experience had the character of a primitive form of dreaming – as perception it would have been haphazard but still adaptive – and consciousness then bifurcated into the waking and dreaming modes that continued to evolve. Or, perhaps at some point in evolution, dreaming had no intrinsic function – perhaps dreaming was merely transitional between the waking states that included alertness and the resting state of deep sleep; however, the evolution of an ability to have rich and varied dream content may have been of adaptive advantage. On the latter account, it is conceivable that any meaning and function of dreams is specific to the species

The following possibilities arise:

Dreams are the modification of an earlier mode of symbolic / iconic processing – as is waking consciousness; or

Dreams are transitional between waking states and deep sleep but, nonetheless, have an independent function

Further, since reality control [ego] is not needed in deep sleep, the ego is absent or partially in place during dreaming

Why Do Animals Dream?

It was noted above that D-state sleep has been seen in all mammals studied and in some birds and reptiles. It follows that answers to the question, “Why do human beings dream?” are embedded in answers to, “Why do animals dream?”

What does it mean to ask, “Why do we dream?” We saw above that this is not the same as asking what are the functions, uses or adaptations of dreams. Dreaming may have functions that developed after their origin and that may partially explain the character of our dreams but not that we have dreams

There are two common approaches to explaining the characters of an organism: proximate and ecological / evolutionary. Proximate explanations are found in the organism as it is e.g. in its anatomy, physiology and psychology; evolutionary explanations are found, for in example, in showing how the character is or may be adaptive or is related to adaptive developments. Actual explanation may combine the two approaches and may have causal, correlative and / or idiosyncratic features. There are various constraints on valid ecological / evolutionary explanation that I omit here

Evolution need not give a full answer but may provide clues. If dreams are transitional, there need be no original function. But, there may be – an earlier mode – and, additionally, given the fact of dreaming, the nature of dreaming may have been subsequently adapted

There are objections to evolutionary explanations. Such explanations may be regarded as shorthand for explanation based in adaptation – the relation between the organism and the environment. The “shorthand,” like many other good theories, makes for explanations of such efficiency that it is practically essential

The Meaning and Function of Dreams

It will be useful to discuss the concepts of function and meaning

On Function and Meaning

It will be useful to clarify my use of the words function, meaning and significance; further, since those words are associated with contention I note that here, in this section on dreams, I use the following meanings and no other

It will first be useful to consider the word effect which is used here in the following way. If a dream resulted in the individual waking up afraid it would be said that, “fear was an effect of the dream.” Dreams – in general and / or particular dreams or particular kinds of dreams – have effects e.g. primarily on the mental or physiological state or the personality or life of the dreamer and secondarily upon others and the world. An effect may be routine or idiosyncratic. An effect is routine if similar circumstances result in similar effects. The source of routine-ness may be some identifiable causal factor or, more generally, a correlation. If an effect is not routine it is idiosyncratic. The source of idiosyncrasy may be either ignorance or complexity. Ignorance may be of the causes or of the cause relationships and may involve some factor that is unique to the situation e.g. a novel or merely idiosyncratic deployment of dreams or dreaming. In the case of complexity the causal factors and cause-effect relationships are known but their consequences have proven impossible to estimate

It is now possible to explain function – a function is an identified effect that plays a role in the being of the organism; note that not all effects are functions. This specification is intentionally open. Thus, in this use, there is no unique set of functions i.e. it is not correct to talk of the function, and a function is not necessarily a desirable or intended effect or deployment. A “use” is a deployment or a desirable or desired effect. All uses are functions but not all functions are uses

In talking of the meaning of a psychological phenomenon, I am asking “What is its place in the total psychological life of the individual?” In the sense used here, meaning is identical to psychological function. The significance is the function assigned [or ascribed; in what follows, in this section on Function and Meaning, ascription will be understood when I use the word assigned] to the phenomenon – either by the dreamer or others; and the assignment could be casual or formal / theoretical. It would appear to be paradoxical to talk of intrinsic significance however we can talk of intrinsic significance as follows: the significance is intrinsic if it is also a function that does not result from the assignment of the significance

Thus, meaning, as used here, includes any psychological significance and function includes all significance. There are more specific senses in which meaning is equivalent to psychological significance or use

Significance can be generic or specific. In the generic case significance is assigned to dreaming in general or to specific kinds of dreams. Specific significance is the significance of a specific dream. The assignment is and need not be fixed; multiple assignments are possible; and any meaning or function may or may not include the significance

Meaning and Significance of Dreams

In talking of the meaning or psychological functions of dreams or of a particular dream I am asking, “What is the place of dreams or of the particular dream in the total psychological life of the individual?”

It is very clear that dreams, dreaming have meaning and function. Psychologically, just as physiologically, dreams can be seen as a transition between waking and deep sleep. Regarding the significance of dreams, there is a an idea – claimed to be a theory – that dreams are a trash can of waking mental activity thoughts, emotions and perceptions. The intent of this claim is to assert that dreams can have no intrinsic significance; clearly this is an assignment and not a theory as such. However, it is absurd in the sense of being contradictory since the impossibility of intrinsic significance implies the impossibility of function and meaning in their general senses. Further, even if dreams have no intrinsic significance may still have assigned function and so may be effectual. [Additionally, the trash can theory is not only a statement about dreams it is also an assignment of function / value to trash and trash cans. At least some of the contents of trash cans are useful to some individuals and, through re-cycling, what was trash in one context is a commodity in a new context.] Of course, even if dreaming and some dreams do have significance, it does not follow that every dream does. Some dreams could be the cleansing of the mind / brain of excess images and associations in memory – or, perhaps, the strengthening of memories and associations. Dreams are multivalent in their effectuality: cleansing / strengthening as well as significant at the same time – each in varied degrees; reality is multivalent relative to our assignments and understanding. The significance could be intrinsic – dreams have definite meaning that does not depend on reflection on the dream; and / or dreams could have significance such as an interpretation or a significance that is invented. Significance becomes meaning and there could be an evolutionary interaction between dreams, dreaming and invented meaning

The psychological function of dreams and dreaming are what dreams do for us – routinely, accidentally, necessarily, intentionally and unintentionally, how are they useful psychologically and adaptively. In a neutral language, the function of dreams is “Their place in the total psychological life of the individual.” Therefore, “trash can” and meaning theories are not exclusive. Just as for meaning, there can be an intrinsic and assigned functions; both can occur at the same time; that something is assigned does not mean it is not at all intrinsic. There is a school of thought that all function is assigned. However – and this is not so much a fact as a particular meaning of function, when it comes to function and evolution and the relation of the organism to the environment, the intrinsic properties of the organism may be regarded as given and the functions may be thought of as the relation to the environment; thus function is not purely assigned. At the level of organisms what is a property of organism and environment may be thought of as a function of the organism. At the same time, since the individual may influence itself, properties are not purely given – just as functions are not purely assigned. There is no absolute boundary between properties and functions

What kind of functions can dreams have? There can be functions that are properties of organism and environment – these are adaptive functions. At the physiological level, dreams may be a cleaning out of memory or a strengthening of memory, i.e., memories and associations. At the psychological level, dreams have, also, correlates of the physiological – clearing and strengthening. Then there can be assigned functions: over and above the intrinsic functions, an individual or a culture can choose, decide or simply come to use dreams in some way. The divide between intrinsic and assigned function is not absolute; the faculties used to make and process the assignment may have intrinsic basis and a pure assignment may evolve into an adaptive function. An example of psychological function that is on the border between intrinsic and assigned are the relation to action; in this way dream is similar to waking thought; and intrinsic psychological function may be the exercise of the shadow faculties and, specifically, access to savant ability – see, for example, Musical Perfection [in Journey in Being]

Significance and its Nature

Let us suppose that dreams lie between fact and fiction. Dreams have basis in memory [fact] but there is significant distortion and spontaneous association or “fiction.” Further, the result of the association may be remembered but what was being associated forgotten. If the “reality grid” is partially asleep [dreams as the transition state] distortion and spontaneous association are imagination. Some schemes of interpretation are rigid; a snake [penis like] means sex and so on. A snake may have many associations: fear, or for someone who loves the wild the association may be adventure on one occasion and fear on another… or gliding through life or experience. Since associations are multiple and fluid no given [by some system of interpretation] or fixed [always the same] system of interpretation is possible. That a dream is a multi-dimensional flow of imagery makes interpretation even more fluid. Not all images need have an association or given meaning. How can one then come up with an interpretation? Systems of interpretation are suggestive; and one can analyze one’s waking memory for associations [the unconscious]. Further, since dreams are transitional states, all kinds of play are possible: cultivation of dreams by “messages” to oneself – reminders – maintaining a dream record [when did I have this kind of dream, repeated dreams…] and lucid dreaming on the boundary between waking control of imagery [thought] and absence of control. Interpretation is often thought of as a conscious activity or resulting in a conscious meaning; however, in addition to fluidity, meaning may occur altogether at an unconscious level; and, interpretation is not merely read or given but may be written or creative. The creation may be in the act of interpretation and / or assignment

This does not mean that there are no archetypal dreams or symbols. It does not mean that a system of interpretation cannot be powerfully suggestive. Such symbols, when they exist, may be identified by flexible interpretation, from repeated dreams, and from common dream and story [myth…] themes among groups of peoples. The symbols will not be rigid; and individual variations will be imposed upon the group symbols

The “unconscious” need not be understood literally; it can be understood as remote. Dreams are useful in learning about one’s feelings, thoughts, behavior, motives, and values. Dreams can be sources of creative ideas. This is due to the relation to the unconscious place where reflections, e.g. on a problem, are stored and the novel elements and combinations of dreams

That different sensory modalities “go to sleep” or “wake up” earlier or later [hearing wakes up before vision] makes for additional variations. On the border between wake and sleep the individual is or may be more receptive to suggestion as in hypnosis. Different aspects of cognition go to sleep / wake up earlier or later… an aspect of cognition is not necessarily in a dream or waking state of mental imagery but may lie in between; this is responsible for a number of phenomena – lucid dreaming or dreaming in which one is aware that one is dreaming

So far we have more or less been discussing interpretation. But, dreams have intrinsic meaning. Some dreams have direct meaning: the dream is clearly about one’s life, hopes and so on. Or, the result of the dream upon waking may be a particular emotional state [“good” or “bad” and so on] or a cognitive state [heightened or dulled] and these states may have definite consequences regardless of interpretation or assignment of meaning

A particular case of intrinsic meaning is when the dream is about the future or possible futures. This then may lead to action with or without further reflection. The same may be accomplished by thought; whereas thought may be more rational, dreams may be more true [and more imaginative] since there is a connection to the unconscious – the real psychological state of the individual before defenses and interpretation…


In hypnosis, awareness is heightened and inner experience is given as much significance as is generally given to external reality while awake. Hypnosis is also marked by increased receptiveness and responsiveness

Self-hypnosis, also called autohypnosis, is possible but often sterile since the effort to produce hypnosis nullifies the intended result. A form of self-hypnosis occurs when individuals are deeply absorbed to the point where orientation to the environment is lost; individuals susceptible to this experience are also susceptible to hypnosis. Self-hypnosis may be effective if the individual makes a prerecording on tape


The details of Yoga from the original document on the experiments are omitted. The following is interesting as metaphysics

Samkhya: enumerating knowledge, one of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy, a dualistic theory of human nature describing the theoretical dynamics of bandha [bondage] and release while Yoga describes and prescribes the practical dynamics of release

Prakriti, the orders of matter and purusha, the self constitute the universe [and, so, God is not hypothesized.] Purusha is pure consciousness, pervasive, unchangeable, immaterial, and ego-less or without desire. Prakriti is the universal and un-manifest matter in time and space

Materialization begins when purusha, which is pure consciousness, manifests as prakriti. Out of this is evolved buddhi or spiritual awareness and then, as the condition of existence, the ego consciousness [ahankara, “I-maker”] and so purusha mistakenly thinks that ego is the foundation of its existence

Ahankara further divides into five gross elements – space, air, fire, water, earth; and five fine elements – sound, touch, sight, taste, smell; five organs of perception – corresponding to the five senses; five organs of activity – for speaking, grasping, moving, procreation, evacuation and thinking. The universe results from combination and recombination of purusha together with these elements


What is Meditation?

The material is retained from Journey in Being | Experiments in the Transformation of Being is some factual information that may supplement Mind

Meditation is mental exercise, to achieve heightened awareness or somatic calm. There are many techniques of concentration, contemplation, and abstraction

Neuro-physiological Correlates of Meditation

β waves – 13-40 Hz: peak concentration, visual acuity; 40 Hz = cognition / visual consciousness – Francis Crick

α waves – 7-12 Hz: deep relaxation, the gateway to deeper consciousness, meditation

δ waves – 4-7 Hz: “twilight” between θ and α / β; waking dreams, creativity, learning, memory, meditation. Rest for the tired brain

θ waves – 0-4 Hz: deep sleep; release of growth hormone for healing, regeneration

Meditation is somatically effective as in the control of heart and breathing rates, symptoms of migraine, hypertension, hemophilia… meditation [and Yoga] brings awareness and control of the autonomous nervous system

Intuition and Mysticism

The use here is similar to the Kantian concept of intuition; the assumption is that there is an intuition of ultimates

…and spirituality

Direct awareness of, the sense of being and identity with all things; direct intuitive knowledge and identity with of ultimate reality – the ground of being


The material that is retained from The Variety of Being | Journey in Being is selected as supplement to this essay

The original essay began with an account of actual, possible and hypothetical being

God / religion

The subject “God” although not dead, e.g. in Christian theology, is taboo in some circles and passé in others; it is something to be avoided. Here are some possible reasons. The discussion focuses on general and academic sentiments c. 2000 in the English speaking world. The first is the idea of separation of Church and State and its practical interpretation of the separation of religious and secular life; this is founded in the idea of freedom of religious practice from politics but also in freedom from rational constraint. The actual social, political and academic scene is complex with a variety of emotions, reasons and sentiments and, here, I do not want to undertake an analysis of the variety. However, as a result of the context there are circles where publicly subjecting “God” to rational scrutiny is improper; and there circles where the very mention of God creates discomfort

On the other hand, God / religion is influential in politics everywhere in the world especially in America where politicians have to recognize large blocks of Christian voters; and this influence has a significant effect upon the quality of life and freedoms of many. Whereas there is, in the United States, a constitutional separation of Church and State, there is in fact a significant effect of the religion upon politics. The position, here, is not constitutional; were it so, it would be pointed out that, in the United States, the First Amendment, guarantees both freedom of religious practice and of speech. Rather, I hold that despite the common respect that is due to issues of faith, the influence of faith upon common life opens it up to public discussion

I cannot avoid mentioning academic fashion and norms; these are powerful institutions and to break the norms is to risk ruining one’s reputation. However, even the fashion is loosely based in substance – even if there is no solid basis. The concept or idea of God inherited from religion – Supreme Being, creator of the universe… – runs counter to the prevailing scientific and analytic spirit. There has developed a tradition that there is no room in this spirit or world view for religious sentiment. The concept of God inherited from religion is so invested, on the one hand with institution, sentiment and tradition and, on the other with Scholastic Philosophy as to make the neutral and piecewise discussion favored in analytic circles difficult

However, the study of being, of the real requires consideration of all being. That which we have not seen, and that which we do not know clearly cannot be studied by empirical means alone; a concept is required to be investigated rationally and held in open view without prejudice. Many general concepts of thought have evolved especially those of matter, being, and mind – there is no reason based in analysis to adhere to a concept as received. Further, the foregoing inherited idea was from Christianity; ideas from other cultures or religions are much more capable of rational or analytic treatment. Such topics cannot be adequately discussed without a field of concepts; and that entails system. Further, while science and analysis chart large territories of our world, the arguments of this essay show those territories to be a fragment of the universe [this observation is not new or unobvious.] The metaphysics of this essay is or includes a language, significantly by abstraction, for description of the vast areas not accessed so far by science and reason – or by religion. As for the fact that the idea of God is significant to and cherished by so many believers, I believe that that is good reason to take up the idea of God and subject it to the scrutiny of reason, to find what place there may be for it – in evolved or transformed form – in the universal metaphysics which may well show what transformation of the idea may be necessary for realism

Does God exist? Is there – or will there be, or has there been – an actual being corresponding to the concept of God; or may God exist in our phase-epoch of the universe? The latter question regarding the possibility of God arises due to the indeterminacy of process – evolution. The restriction to an phase-epoch of the universe is because in the one universe, without restriction, what is not simply a contradiction is possible and what is possible is necessary. The real questions concern the nature of God and the concepts of God; this approach allows for a “conversation” between ideas, tradition and reality. The question of the existence of God is one of the possibilities of being and our place within and relationship to those possibilities

What is the meaning of “God” in the context of use? There is no one such meaning; however, one use is in reference to the highest potential of being. Is there an actual referent corresponding to this use? Just as the concepts of natural philosophy are allowed to evolve so should the concepts of theology

One approach is as follows. Think of the relation of the individual to the one universe. From the Principle of Being, the individual is the universe; this is ultimately true though not immediately within experience. This is a principle of the Vedanta i.e. Atman = Brahman or Self = Ultimate Being. God, as being, is part of the one universe and, the interpretation of the idea of God from the traditions is that of a being that is intermediate between the individual and Brahman, the universe. From the ultimate perspective there is good and evil but these are neither sought nor avoided. From the immediate human perspective, immediate good and evil are moral issues but there are also occasions to take a neutral attitude toward good and evil. The ultimate and individual meanings are related but not identical. At the ultimate level good and evil are forces e.g. of creation and destruction and morality is applicable only in so far as there is an agency involved. For the human individual they relate to human values. Actions and outcomes are right, good and so on; the terms are not properly applied to individuals. The foregoing defines a field within which the great variation in traditions and theologies find interpretation and placement. The purpose of this paragraph has been to show a direction of understanding from the perspective developed in the present essay but not to elaborate the reality, the symbols or the human psychology

I take it up as a sign to future evolution – without final commitment to preservation or rejection of the idea

… as the potential of being

… as ultimate Being: the ultimate in all beings

…as the creative principle from nothingness… none other than LOGOS

In surveying religion, it is possible to be turned away by the arrest. Traditional religion holds to the past – for which liberal religion substitutes denial, agnosticism, and atheism and, in modern times, activism

Much of religion, especially of the texts and rituals, even where meaningful to adherents i.e. locally meaningful, is of accidental origin – does not furnish universal or “large” ideas worthy of consideration as metaphysics, as part of the entire human tradition. There is however a core of significant ideas and oppositions. These include the ultimate – God, origins vs. eternal being or return, human ethics and meaning and their relations to the total cosmos, the nature of death and the destiny of the individual, continuation of the chain of being beyond the visible world…


LOGOS, simply, is the concept of the possible. This simple formulation hides the infinite complexity of the idea; the universe – our phase-epoch of it – is only a small phase of the possible. LOGOS may be referred to as the world of the possible but this is metaphorical even though the LOGOS “world” is sometimes thought to be an actual but distinct world and sometimes thought to be an actual part of this world. LOGOS is, however, contained in the womb of nothingness

The sum of all forms

The form of form

Second and higher order form

We saw that symmetry or form is required for more than transient existence

LOGOS includes chaos and randomness

Does LOGOS exist? In view of the discussion of existence, LOGOS exists. Is LOGOS part of the real? In view of the same discussion LOGOS may be considered to be real


The following models of computation are described in greater detail in The Variety of Being

Formal symbol manipulation

Computation theory based on Alan Turing’s construction of the Turing machine and the related Church-Turing Thesis

Information processing

Classic symbolic architectures: serial, fixed, symbolic, explicit, discrete, high level representations, exemplified by axiomatic inference systems

Connectionist architectures

Practical computation and architecture

Computational Models of Mind / Cognitivism

From the Church-Turing Thesis the following hypothesis seemed to be a small thought exciting leap: human cognition could be emulated by computers

A variety of views have been held

Cognitivism: the brain is a digital computer. On account of the thesis of cognitivism there is, in cognitivism, a parallel between models of mind and concepts or models of computation

Strong Artificial Intelligence: the mind is a computer program

Weak Artificial Intelligence: the operations of the brain can be simulated on a digital computer

These views have been criticized e.g. John Searle, The Rediscovery of Mind, 1992. Searle held that Weak Artificial Intelligence is trivial and argued against Cognitivism and Strong Artificial Intelligence on the ground that digital computation is syntactic: it is symbol manipulation which is assigned but not intrinsic to the physics. It follows that digital computers, in so far as they are digital computers but not on account of their intrinsic physics, do not have minds and are not conscious

 The view, here, is that a computer can be interpreted as a symbol manipulating system but also, especially on the connectionist model, as a physical machine. Or, a posteriori interpretations are at least as significant as a priori ones. Insofar as a computer manipulates symbols, reference, intensionality, meaning, truth are assigned; therefore, as a physical object, without further physical properties, the assignment of semantic properties makes for mind not significantly more than the minimal [if any] mental qualities possessed by a rock. Here, talk of mind refers to high-level mind and not to the mental properties, whatever they may be, possessed by matter merely in virtue of being matter. Therefore, associative machines, on account of their physical properties may come closer to being mental than do serial machines. However, without further development such as low level integration and high level interpretation, the mental properties of associative machines must be small

In so far as machine mind and consciousness is concerned the symbolic view may yet have some promise; however the view of a computer as a co-evolving machine with a posteriori interpretation holds more promise; probably, both the source and recognition of machine mind and consciousness will occur by transference / empathy though Theory of Mind [the theory of how individuals recognize mind in other entities] may also have a contribution

Theoretical and Conceptual Background: Ontology and Knowledge

A significant degree of useful theory has been covered in the present and other divisions. Therefore, the following treatment will be brief; it will primarily make reference to the locations of the developments. The primary locations are the discussions of knowledge, concepts, language, metaphysics, mind, mind / body and cosmology, especially the theory of origins and evolution in the division Metaphysics or Knowledge and Action; and the discussions of being and of technology and machines of the present division


The following topics are useful:

Can a machine have life, mind or being? Here, it is implicit that life, mind or being refers to life, mind and being as we know them and not “primal” mental elements or being. The primary reason for this specification is that due to the nature of life, mind, and being as slack concepts the answer without such specification must be “yes.” It is further implicit that a machine is something that is built from any natural elements and is not restricted to the classical idea of a deterministic machine. One answer to the restricted question is that, since the brain or body is a machine, it is obvious that a machine can have mind, life, being! However, if by machine we mean something designed and built by agents that have mind, life and being to perform a specified function, the answer is not clear. Specifically, it is not clear that the performance of the function is the equivalent of having mind and so on

What is it about living beings that makes for possession of mind? Note the following possibilities: multiple layers of organization from atoms / particles up; deep grounding and adaptation of all layers; every cell in an organism is a variation of a single cell; every cell, with exceptions, contains the entire genetic code

What is the nature of tools and machines; tools and machines as dynamic extensions vs. independent agents

The question of how to recognize mind is important

One approach is theoretical: to use the nature of mind and its characteristics to determine whether a machine, in virtue of its function, possesses the specified characteristics. Note, that since there is mental content input-output replication does note make for mind; therefore, function must be interpreted to include description of internal elements and processes. Problems with this approach include that mind is not a definite concept as noted in Dimensions of Mind / Being: Introduction; this, however, enhance recognition

Another, related, theoretical approach is what is called Theory of Mind i.e. understanding of how individuals recognize the presence of mind, life or being in other individuals. The so-called Turing test is a sort of primitive test; there is no reason that the “machine” should be hidden from the “observer” who only sees output from the machine; at the same time the observer need not be exposed to all internal details. The Turing test may be interpreted to rely on perceptual similarity: comparison, empathy and intuition. It may be argued, with some validity, that recognition of mental phenomena in others is automatic; however, this is not true for all mental phenomena: some mental phenomena are invisible and some may be purposely concealed. Thus, a machine that had the qualities and degree of human mind ought to be able to deceive individuals and machines into thinking that the machine does not have those qualities. There is also the issue of recognition in the case of other kinds of organism and in machines. When the idea of recognition is extended to conceptual similarity, the test may be interpreted as the theoretical approaches mentioned earlier

When organisms and machines co-evolve, recognition will probably be automatic and not require theory. At the same time, theory will be useful

Knowledge: Concepts [50]

In concepts, the idea of concept was introduced. It was noted there that concepts may receive over-articulation; however, it was also noted that the proper degree of articulation is relative to the purpose. Here, it is appropriate to further analyze the idea of concept. The purpose of the analysis is for use in machine intelligence and, since machine intelligence occurs in interaction with and is modeled on organic intelligence, the study of concepts as they occur in both organisms and machine / computational systems is important

Concepts have narrow content in an individual’s representation of the world and broad content as a symbolic element of interaction among individuals and the world

The intension of a concept is its meaning and the extension is the set of objects to which the concept may refer. These are rough definitions that may be improved along a number of dimensions. I say that intension and extension are mutually determining over time; as a result a specific intension and extension is, in general, never arrived despite the feeling that concepts are innate. Concepts are constructed; use becomes automatic; the origins of a linguistic concept may be in the phase of pre-language; what is a construct functions, within limits, as and feels as though it is a priori

In machine intelligence, one use of concepts is as symbolic elements from which representations of knowledge or an area of expertise is constructed; in a connectionist machine a concept would be identified [rather than defined] as an internal pattern that frequently arises in a variety of situations

In psychology, three main traditions of research are cognitive development originating with Piaget, classifying the world into categories in behaviorism, and lexical semantics the study of concepts through words that are commonly used in their expression. For further information see the references cited in the footnotes. Further information will be included in the present document dynamically as need arises in connection with development of research tools and other applications [in the essays The Variety of Being | Journey in Being]


The emphasis is action and influence in society or societies

The connotation of “action,” here, is somewhat different than earlier in discussing mind [see A Set of Mental Axes.] The use here is rather like “agency” in the sense of sustained action toward a purpose, advocating values and objectives, action and fostering action at the level of a being in a world of beings…

Significance of History

The inclusion of historical concerns is in process. These concerns include:

What can be learned from history? This raises the theoretical question ‘What is History?’ which is significant in addressing the former question and is also important in Journey in Being.

The foregoing concerns are significant in attempting change toward objectives: in what ways and degrees is this possible and desirable e.g. what kind of objectives – material, political, ethical and so on; and what manner of change – incremental or otherwise…?

For a history of influence, see Thinkers and Actors, History of Western Philosophy, and History

Kinds of Change

What kind of change? I am thinking mainly of social change and, then, of other kinds of change that affect society – how conditions of living are felt and perceived from within a society. What kind of social change? Political structure and responsivity, social conditions…? Far reaching change or incremental change in the “right” direction? A complete answer to the question about kinds of social change requires a complete description of social structure… and that is the subject of sociological narrative. It is relevant but not my main interest of this essay

Charisma and Patriarchalism: Two Kinds of Influence

I am referring to the following meanings and not to any other. Charisma is influence or authority based in the person – and may include intelligence, individual magnetism, energy, ruthlessness and other characteristics. Patriarchalism and the related bureaucracy are influence or authority based in established institutions and norms

The Problem of Significance

The problem is feeling of insignificance felt by individuals and groups – and consequent lack or impotence of action – regarding their self-concept including lack of influence in the world, especially society

Many feel insignificant – “I am so small, have so little influence.” In a system where power resides or seems to reside in established seats of power, the individual may well feel insignificant – especially in the face of actual / felt injustice

Realism is an internal approach to this problem:

Realize that placement in a seat of power is significantly based in external factors. Determine to use one’s own charisma and abilities; and remember that an effective measure of significance is measured by individual potential – that include circumstances – rather by than comparison with others. This by itself will not remedy the actual or seen lack of effect in bringing about desired external change. But the objective was to change the attitude to oneself in face of the lack of guarantees. One does not demand individual success; the efforts of many lead to the success of the few. This is an importance of attitude and individual effort in the face of insignificance

These issues are addressed in Metaphysics and Power

The Place of Social and Political Theory

The use of theory faces difficulties due to the social “atoms” [individuals, groups, institutions] being complex and experiments not repeatable in isolation. Difficulty does not mean impossibility. I am interested in social theory and its uses but that is not the motive here. In this essay I seek to balance a tendency to understanding and to define theatres of action. I note here my attitude that all theory has a corresponding theatre of real action where institutions and individuals – rather than ideas – live and die in the process of transformation

…and information… information is extremely useful and important in gaining and using influence effectively. Over and above social theory, social geography and history are of extreme importance… as is the geography of natural resources

Social Theory

Theories of Social Structure

Structural functionalism – the individual social structures are not individually but mutually sustaining; the sustaining relations being the functions

Theories of class and power – the former in which importance is attached to power, wealth… In Marxism, economics is the engine that determines other cultural structures

Structuralism – the word refers to “deep structure” which is explanatory but, casually, invisible

Detail of elements and institutions of society in Concepts and Categories [section in Action, Influence, Charisma and Change | Journey in Being] and other articles

Social Change and Dynamics

Social change is ever present, more specifically it refers to change of structure…

Ideologies of change: decline, progress, cyclic

Patterns of change: linear, nonlinear – cyclic or combined cyclic and linear

Kinds of cause: conflict, competition, and cooperation; tension and adaptation; diffusion of innovations; planning and institutionalization of change; for linear change – accumulation, selection, and differentiation; for nonlinear change – saturation and exhaustion

Examples of causes: nature or environment, demographic pressure, established and new technology, economics, ideas, social movements, politics

The History of Influence

Thinkers and Actors

History of Western Philosophy

Concepts in Politics

This section could be titled Political Theory or Political Science

The purpose of the section is to state some issues that need address regarding the application and applicability of concepts in politics

The philosophical development should not shun the most esoteric development, intuition, reason, or the most minute and practical details. Note, first that my work is philosophical and uses philosophy but its primary focus is the Journey in Being and not any particular discipline or set of disciplines. Also, the esoteric and the mundane should be essential to the development and, so far as possible, be part of the glue that binds thought and action to reality[51]

What is Politics?

Within society, consider that there is a common sphere of activity or interest and a private sphere…

Determining the boundary between the two spheres is part of the common

The process of determining the state of and path of action in the common sphere is politics

There may be institutions that are directly concerned with or explicitly dedicated to politics – such institutions are political

Institutions that are not designated as political or not primarily political may have a political component

Institutions designated as political may have other than political components

Politics and other social functions e.g. economics are not categorically exclusive

Regardless of formal and other designation, institutions cannot be forced to be categorically and usually will not be actually mono-functional in social kind; however, an institution may have its actual function as close to its formal or designated function

A group or institution may be considered in itself and we may speak of the politics of that group; such special politics will, in general, have areas of intersection without being fully contained in the general politics

However, the general politics may be considered to contain not only the general communal process of determination but also the sum of the more particular processes regardless of the degree of isolation – which is, in general, not constant


Regarding the description of political systems – what is the purpose?

Intrinsic interest e.g. as in the case of natural science; however can interest said to be intrinsic – what is the origin of interest and curiosity


Meta-description: e.g., the label democracy does not define actuality because of [1] the problem of accuracy and deception including delusion and self-deception, [2] axes of variation and variation within the concept of democracy, [3] co-existence of more than one political structure despite the applied label, and [4] the application of a label is an exercise in mutual influence that includes influence of others, self-influence and synergy. Items [1] and [4] are related. As another example, consider republicanism: the issue of whom and what [corporations etc.] participate in public affairs – and who / what should participate and to what extent. A version of republicanism, one that is considered to be a response to the issue, is that not all agents should be equal in politics. Regardless of values and theory, democratic and republican [special kind] forms co-exist in many societies lacking the explicit designations if not in all societies and social structures

An implication of the foregoing considerations is that despite the depth and appeal of ideas, political actuality has a life of its own. However, ideas and their influence are a part of political actuality – more at some times than at others – and a source of novelty and influence

The difficulties of application include perception, description and computation

Some issues of power are taken up in Metaphysics and Power

What comes first, theory or practice? When is theory possible and actual? What ways are there to justify theory given that a major component of the scientific method is missing?

A [political] state of being might be possible, desirable, good and desired and yet not achievable – a lesson from complexity and chaos theory

Is there significance to power and choice in politics without ethics? What? And, what is the relation between ethics and power and choice in politics?

The Origin of Theory and Possibility of its Application

What is Theory?

Theory concerns the description and evaluation of political arrangements, systems and institutions


Meta-theory concerns the nature of theory:

The statement of the previous section is a meta-theoretical statement

The relationships between theory or ideas and practice: ideas and actuality influenced one another before the recognition of ideas or theory as an independent enterprise; therefore, it is a given that there is an interaction. What is the interaction and what should it be?

Under what circumstances should decision makers operating under some system of values modify – drastically or otherwise – existing political systems? In referring to decision makers, I am not thinking exclusively of situations where there are formally designated decision makers; and if there are formally designated decision makers then I am not referring exclusively to them. For example, a the idea of power includes that the decisions of a powerful individual is a significant factor in political process in any society; that individual’s values may be entirely self-centered and he or she may consider what arrangements further their personal goals and ambitions. In general, however, some political arrangements may be held to be intrinsically, morally or practically superior – according, of course, to intrinsic political values or to moral or practical concerns. Even the in the case of the self-centered, powerful individual value concerns are present: they may be implicit and unconscious rather than explicit. Decision makers face two concerns: what arrangements further their values and what arrangements are practical in that they can be actually implemented and will function

Origin and Possibility of Action

Circumstances of origin have been described above

Once theory or ideas have originated, they may always be – and often are – applied

Such application does not necessarily have justification

Societies originate, live and die. Among the causal factors in this process are the interactions of each society with the world and among societies

These factors result in an overall selection that favors growth / decline

This selection acts not only upon actual social arrangements but also upon the ideas – especially those that define and affect social arrangement – extant in societies

Political and Moral Theory

Moral and political theory do not appear to a priori determine one another

A political arrangement does not intrinsically determine all actions of a moral agent

And, a number of political arrangements may be consistent with a moral system

Justification of Theory

Given the deficit of social theory mentioned above, what justification other than selection may be possible?

The question appears to imply that justification is necessary but that is not the case. It is necessary only in ideas or according to some system of value

Justification may occur in the following way

Just as in the more primitive sciences where there is repeatability and therefore repetition among instances, in the social sphere there is a possible extrapolation over levels of social autonomy as described above… and over other variables such as social arrangement measured with respect to e.g. moral and economic factors

Social Theory, Foundations, Knowledge

Clearly there is a role for foundational questions

We have just seen how extrapolation may be possible in the absence of “laboratory repeatability”

There are also issues of practical application

Some issues are discussed elsewhere in this section on political theory; they include the degree of relationship between theory and practice

Further, the question of extrapolation is also practical

Acknowledged success / failure of a political system is a point of information. However, a single instance – or a few instances – is not an argument for / against such a system: since other factors are invariably involved and since the actuality of a system is not identical to its designation; however, learning from even single cases, in general, confers selectational advantage. Generally, theory of institutions and theory of application may supplement instances

Application to Other Fields of Endeavor

The approach to analysis and application outlined above may be applied to other spheres of social action

There are also various ways in which application to the more primitive sciences is possible with profit. The present essay includes examples of which the primary paradigm is the transcendental method

Political Systems

The history of human ideas includes identification of actual systems and description of a number of possible political systems

Purposes of this section

To consider accurate description of such systems and the relation of description to actuality

To review the purpose to description… Is there an intrinsic value? What is the function? Intrinsic value has an obvious meaning: the object has value to an agent or subject with reference to the agent but without reference to anything else. An object has a function in relation to a third object – an object other than the agent or the primary object

The possibility and nature of application of theory: In the stages of human society – we could call it evolution – there comes a point of development and of awareness when it becomes possible to describe political systems. What is this point? And when that point has arrived, is theory applicable, what is the relation to the actual i.e. what are the relations between theory and politics? And, are there justifications of the application of theory? What are they? How are the justifications justified? And how is theory applied or how do ideas and systems interact… and how may that interaction be enhanced?

The parameters that affect the possibility of description include – as noted – the possibility of awareness and the development of autonomy. The two factors evolve together. Additionally there is a co-evolution with application

One factor of awareness is distinction. Distinction arises when there has come about a variety of social / political arrangements. Dimensions of arrangement are numerous but fundamental are tradition / individual autonomy, generalism / specialism, and small-closed / large-open

Political Systems

For actual political systems, see Journey in Being | Action, Influence, Charisma and Change

Optimal Systems

An example of the idea of optimal systems is that, under appropriate conditions, democratic determination of the good is self-stabilizing and in the common interest. Another analysis is that of Karl Popper[52] of a superiority of democracy in that the distribution of decision making is a source of new ideas and solutions to problems that is absent in other forms of government

Another application of optimal analysis concerns size of societies that act as single political entities. Size allows for specialization and therefore strength that is more than the direct result of size itself. This results in ability to solve arrays problems that were otherwise insoluble, and to ensure unprecedented standards and quality of living – in general and according to some measures. It also results in destruction – environmental degradation – and the ability to destroy – the military and frightful weapons of destruction; further, the process of expansion is in some ways self-perpetuating. Optimal analysis sheds light on the values of size e.g. upon economies of scale and the stability and values of nations; however, computation alone – even if there were no limitations – does not enable or empower change

Another area where optimal analysis has application and that also has application to social systems is Sociobiology[53]. The latter exists in more than one variety. In one variant it is held that biology determines society at least in principle. In others, biological systems may be used as an analogy or the information from biology may be used to inform social understanding and decision making

I have included a brief discussion of optimal systems for completeness and not, e.g., as endorsement for application or applicability of optimization or optimal control theory or, specifically, of sociobiology. However, the ideas concerned have potential utility – conceptually and practically; and, I may elaborate on them in other essays or future versions of the present essay

For details on the literature on optimal analysis see one of the references immediately above

Theatres Influence

… are broad arenas of influence such as politics, trade and so on; these correspond, mainly, to the institutions of society

Social institutions and groups – family [or, more generally, kinship[54] groups through alliance and descent,] and other groups; morals, [ethics,] religion; knowledge – symbols, language and ideas, sciences, humanities and art, professions, education, research [knowledge production]. Politics and law, government – legislation, executive and judicial elements and other arrangements; media and journalism; legal institutions and law enforcement; jails and prisons; military – role of force. Economics, enterprise, trade; technology and natural resources – industry and agriculture; service – transportation, medicine. Theatre of the self – the individual carries his or her own charisma and influence; the work of the individual is to enter and understand these theatres, to approach with charisma, to act – and to learn from action


Evolution and Design and related documents have a variety of design and planning topics including education and social planning

Engineering Education


ANIL MITRA PHD, © Wednesday, June 16, 2004 12:28:41 AM


As of June 2004, this document stands complete with regard to thought and concept until the next cycle of reflection and revision

The essay realizes the search for the timeless and the real behind the temporal and material emphasis of Evolution and Design

Numerous technical, conceptual and stylistic improvements are no doubt possible. Such revisions become evident upon reading the document and therefore no list of revisions is necessary

I do want to make the choice of personal versus impersonal language appropriate to the various parts of the document


When I study the works of others, I often make notes which vary in form from comments, to paraphrase to simply copying ideas; the purpose is usually to learn – there is no other immediate purpose and so I may forget my sources. I am immersed in a culture of ideas that I absorb without complete awareness. I did not create the ability to have ideas, or the notion of idea at the foundation of the tradition. I did not create the language in which I write. Similarly there is a general system of thought that we do not cite even though we are dependent on it. Thus I am not always aware of my sources

If anyone would like to have a source cited, please write to me at

One may want to be original yet, given the foundation upon which one builds – the culture of ideas, the ability to have ideas – the originality of an individual is not much. And compared to others, my originality may be modest. And, in my view of the equivalence of being and the void there is no originality at all. Yet I would like to be thought of as original and it would be a form of denial to not be aware of that. However, my claims to originality are small; I feel I have been a discoverer rather than creator


[2] In this case, the author’s life. There is, of course, one way in which every individual is special i.e. in the singular concern with his or her own being. However, I do not intend to promote my experience over the experiences of others – a Journey in Being is open to all and my story serves, also, as an invitation. My story is necessarily personal until, through experience, it acquires universality in scope. At this stage the story is the story of every individual – in the join or identity of the individual with the universal even while the details are different. Similarly, although I appeal to humankind, the Journey is not founded on a special status of the species

Of course, I depend on others, upon the world in many ways – especially, for this journey, upon the accumulated knowledge and experience of civilization. However, I do not passively use that knowledge: I must make it mine in the sense of absorption and immersion though not of possession

[3] Of a personal journey – the individual journey – with the universal. Every individual is necessarily ‘on a Journey’ and there is also necessarily confluence with the universal even when this is not sought. However, I explicitly seek both journey and confluence and the confluence includes sharing with others

[4] Occur incrementally in breadth and depth over the exploration and searching of a life… and of life…

[5] Why the personal? As I state below, the universal is a confluence, a meshing of individual journeys. Although there is definitely and absolutely a role for the impersonal, the personal is the individual’s path to the universal, to the impersonal or super-personal, to sharing, and, through acknowledgment, to overcoming neurotic defenses and expression of individual and group power

The personal and the universal, the immediate and the ultimate, the part and the whole do not exist without one another. The fundamental values in the life of an individual are the experience of the immediate – the individual, the present, the details of a life, of love and work – and the experience of the ultimate; these “opposites” give significance to each other. In this way the union that is wholeness in fact also makes for wholeness in meaning and significance

When I talk of the personal aspects of my journey I do not mean to compare myself with others; rather, I am interested in the way in which my inner life led to my specific path of action

Following is a personal value. Often, I have noted the simple beauty of a green field and the blue sky as an example of the elegance of perception over thought

[6] I might use “shame” but I would be referring to the feeling of a difference between actual and potential and not to guilt over actions. It seems important, for me, to state this feeling as acknowledgement and so as to avoid covering up i.e. to be open to expression and development

[7] Travel, different people and cultures, nature, love, group psychology that was loosely connected to the human potential movement, parties, clubs, friends, being a father, consulting work in engineering

[8] Especially philosophy, literature and poetry, language, logic and mathematics, the sciences of matter, cosmos, earth and of life, design, machine intelligence and computation, psychology, history, anthropology including shamanism, ethnobiology and human institutions. For some details and information see the Bibliographies for my studies

[9] Natural Philosophy is a phrase that has fallen out of use; historically it referred to disciplines that were precursors to science as practiced today and to science itself. The latter use declined over the period c.1700 – c.1900. I use the term to include science and what results when science is used – though not exclusively – to guide careful thought about the world; and to include the conceptual foundations of science and an understanding of nature. This way of thought achieves precision through various means, especially criticism, abstraction, interpretation, and the concepts of possibility and necessity

In this sense, natural philosophy is an amalgam of science, especially, the concepts of science, the philosophy of science and philosophy of nature

Review of the history of science and civilization shows that the general features of the scientific paradigms cannot, in virtue of being most current, validly be taken as the “way of all being,” i.e. as the foundation or core idea of metaphysics. However, science can be used, e.g., in the following ways

Critically; examination of detail, of argument and of interpretation – in addition to conclusions – is necessary. As examples consider the immediate reaction that indeterminism cannot lead to structure and chance cannot explain the phenomenon of life. I have given explanations of the origin of structure and even phases of causation and apparent determinism in indeterminism; it is interesting that it is indeterminism that makes structure possible while determinism is sterile: these conclusions may be counter-intuitive. It is not true that chance alone is the mechanism of evolution and explanation of evolution is a standard topic in evolutionary biology on which I have made some comments in the core essays of the Journey in Being and extensive discussion elsewhere e.g. Evolution and Design

Metaphorically and suggestively: the more inclusive paradigms provide better metaphors; the history of paradigms is also instructive in showing the need to use the paradigms critically and for critical extrapolation from the historical trajectory

[10] I mean not only my human form but my mixture of knowledge and ignorance, realization and non-realization

[11] There is a mistaken view with a long tradition that sets atomism and holism as standing in opposition. In this view, atoms are conceived rather as Leibnizian Monads that have no interactions with one another but are harmonized by God. However, as understood today the atoms of physics are not Monads at all: they have structure, internal dynamics and interact with one another. Through the interactions, collections of atoms have properties that are not manifestly the properties of individual atoms. However, this is not a holism that stands in opposition to atomism since the manifest properties of the collections are the expression of the properties of the atoms. This does not prove that atomism and holism are equivalent for there may be properties of collections that are not in any way the result or expression of the atoms. How can one even approach this issue, given that the ultimate structure and properties of the elementary particles is not known? It is not even known whether the elementary particles are in fact elementary. One approach is to look at the kinds of properties possessed by “wholes.” Organisms possess mind; could mind be the expression of myriad elementary particles in interaction in the organ called the brain? In the present essay, with caveats and interpretation, the answer to this question is found to be “yes.” But, the case is not proven by listing examples – even if the examples are of the most general categories known: the argument could also be applied to the foundation of being-as-we-know-it. Another approach is through consideration of origins. Such an approach has also been considered in this essay in Cosmology; in this approach the manifest universe and its particles come out of nothingness. In our phase-epoch, there is the known universe and the known particles; and, despite the success of science, consideration of this success as proof of equivalence of atomism and holism is subject to the criticism given earlier; physically, the question is open. However, nothingness is equivalent to all being and at this level of consideration there can be no ultimate distinction between representations that are not regarded as closed

[12] Existence: The purpose of this section is to discuss existence. A second heading is due to the inclusion of discussion of materialism. It is shown that materialism is not a definite concept and has no definite use. The discussion in this and other sections shows that if [when] physics is complete it will in-principle explain the processes of mind but will not replace the idea of mind. Rather the physical and experiential modes of description will be complementary; and should it be thought that physics is more fundamental because it is physics that explains… there are two responses: a fundamental one in which it is seen that mental and physical elements are bound together at the most fundamental level and a value-laden one – materialism itself is at least covertly value-laden – the observation that if physics explains, it is mind that created physics and executes the explanation

[13] See previous footnote on existence

[14] This thought is superficially similar to Julian Jaynes’ idea in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976. However Jaynes posits a time a few thousand years ago when hallucinatory experience gave way to consciousness; obviously Jaynes concept of ‘consciousness’ must be other than that of experience. Here, in contrast, I am identifying a stage in the development of thought in the remote past when consciousness was already present

[15] One of the original motivations for the study of the concept and nature of knowledge was to justify the principle of being. I felt that the principle of being was true and had many good reasons to believe in its plausibility. I also took the position that belief in the principle could be partially justified on the ground that the belief might result in an extremely valuable and ultimate outcome. That position motivated the treatment of belief in later sections. However, the position was not unequivocal and I continued to seek a foundation even while I used the principle of being in a variety of instrumental ways. Thus I proceeded in various directions some of which were subject to the equivocation mentioned

I therefore continued to seek foundation for the principle of being in a theory of knowledge and in specific disciplines such as physics where it is known, for example, that origin of the universe from nothing need not violate the principle of conservation of energy. This is the case since the positive energy of matter and the negative energy of gravitation can balance each other. This did not satisfy me since possibility does not imply actuality or necessity and because any foundation in physics would apply only if the universe is physical in the sense of satisfying the current fundamental laws of physics

The development in the present essay is independent of physics and relatively independent of a theory of knowledge and the turn came when I stopped looking only at the universe and began to focus on the concept and properties of nothingness

However, knowledge – its concept, nature and theory – remains of fundamental interest as an object in itself and, for later, in elaboration and possible defense of the present developments

[16] Here, “objective” means, simply, that there is reference to an object

[17] These ideas are related but not identical to or derived from formalism and intuitionism as foundations of mathematics

[18] This paragraphs is a repetition of a paragraph of the previous section

[19] This section is not part of the main development of the essay

[20] There is the possibility that formal knowledge may lead directly or indirectly through technology to a changed organism – through design or through co-evolution. There is also the possibility, held by mystics and others, of transformation through insight

[21] The use of Dirac’s quantum mechanical <bra| and |ket> notation is intentional. However, the use of the notation to discuss belief is, at present, an analogy and not a correspondence or an example of the quantum mechanics

[22] This, and no other, is the concept of intuition being used here

[23] Some concepts used in this document are: concept itself, knowledge, value / ethics, object, noumenon, percept, intuition, formal representation, communication, symbol, language, meaning, science, metaphor, metaphysics, being, existence, nothingness, possibility, necessity, matter, process, extension, cause, ultimate being / God, mind, experience / consciousness, attitude, action, will and choice, function, dynamics, memory, the unconscious, cognition, feeling-sensation, humor, emotion, drive, idea-creation, personality, commitments, dynamics of being, cosmology, universe, phase-epoch, origins, symmetry, stability, monad / elementary particle, continuum / anti-monadism, mechanism, teleology, determinism / indeterminism, space-time, metaphysics – again, argument, method, presence, forms, categories, universals and particulars

[24] P. B. Shelley

[25] It has been suggested that experiments in high energy physics may result in catastrophes including, for example, a transition of space-time that could annihilate the entire universe. In reality it seems that such annihilation would be restricted to phase-epochs of the universe. The probabilities of such events are thought to be extremely small. Given the considerations on nothingness in this essay, the possibility exists that the present phase-epoch of the universe might spontaneously transform into an inhospitable state or self-annihilate. There is [a universe of] nothingness associated with every element of being that may annihilate, at the least, entire phase-epochs of the universe. The probabilities of such events are, again, staggeringly small. An ecological disaster is much more likely in the near future and, as far as life on earth is concerned, may be just as disastrous as the physical catastrophes described. In a recent book, The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change, 2002, Vaclav Smil writes that so little is understood about the various ecological and climatic factors and balances that it is impossible to estimate whether the effect of human technology is pushing the planet toward or away from disaster

[26] Note made January 14, 2003: this section was conceived and written today and is contrary to what I have been thinking since about September, 2001

[27] John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, 1986

[28] The question of whether there is or can be an essential characteristic is taken up in what follows. The more general question of what it means to ask whether there are or can be essences or characteristics for concepts or ideas such as mind, being, existence – and what are essences is taken up below

[29] I am not claiming that machines do not or cannot have mind

[30] Reference to and discussion of the ‘representational theory of consciousness’ is appropriate here; see the development of this topic in Journey in Being - New Ideas, Forms and Developments

[31] I wish to say that inclusion of a focus on the human aspects arises from the special interest of the subject. However, it is not implied that this focus is a priori definitive of or essential to mind. Further, there is no implication at all that to be human is to be superior to what is not human; or even that superiority has any ontological meaning. I suspect but am not sure that such claims are ontologically meaningless. Naturally, human beings are most intelligent in the human ways of intelligence but the other animal species are most intelligent in their own ways

[32] Meanings and modes of the unconscious: distant memory; repressed consciousness; seen but not recognized; pre-communication or pre-language; phylogenetic; the form of awareness or consciousness; a metaphor for a mode or form of consciousness; dim, vague, boundary consciousness…in contrast to the bright, the clear, and the focus of attention; the body's own experience; the intrinsic content of art; the condition of knowledge; the condition of language; latent consciousness; dimensions of cognition and feeling; universal consciousness; window into reality, the whole being and the whole universe; the idea that nothing in the unconscious is inaccessible to consciousness… there are arguments to this effect and some are given in this document… there is also the point, made here, that if something is not accessible to consciousness then there is no experiential description of it and therefore nothing is lost by not labeling it “mental;” the deep unconscious – what is not accessible in consciousness… if the previous point is correct there is no deep unconscious… even if the deep unconscious does not exist in principle it may exist in practice as the seen but not recognized and its various manifestations; seen but not recognized because: what is seen does not connect with every-day experience; not among the normal modes of subject-object; fostered by the delusions and illusions of culture… not among the normally accepted and approved instruments of perception; related to the conditions of existence and survival; lack of education; pre-linguistic; poetry; the esoteric and the mystic; body, family, race…being and existence – the unconscious and the boundaries of the individual; fluidity of personality; examples of unconscious processing – telling time accurate to the minute, learning by transference, the origin of ideas, becoming aware of the fact and content of what someone said a few seconds after the fact; post-recognition; defenses; incompleteness of conscious control. On the difficulty of knowing oneself: in addition to defenses, there is only one self but many others

The nature of dreams: dreams as a mode of processing corresponding to an earlier stage in evolution; or an earlier stage in the development of the individual; the previous statement as metaphorical; and as a partial factor; access to the unconscious in dreams as due to the turning off of conscious control – of thought and action. Relationship to the thesis of Julian Jaynes

[33] The relation between brain and mind being discussed here is different from the causal relation involved in “his intention to go was the cause of his leaving.” The latter relation, often referred to as the causal efficacy of mind, is causal in just the sense that force causes motion

[34] The following have been suggested as characteristics, correlates or identities; inclusion here is not endorsement. For mind: mental content; adaptability; choice; action; will; behavior; consciousness; meaning or significance; information processing; intensionality; locomotion; originality, the ability to create; design; knowledge; mind as presence to the universe; society; power; mind as the incarnation of evolution or nature; life. For consciousness: awareness; phenomenal experience; availability for action; awareness of awareness; competitive advantage; indeterminism; plenitude; being; presence; intelligence; language; self-reference; self-awareness; first person perspective; on-off vs. continuum; having a definite vs. dynamic / distributed location or locus; distribution in the brain / body / not limited to the body; specific to vs. shared among individuals; consciousness and the self; social self; evolutionary adaptation; ineffable; mystery; ontologically objective / epistemically subjective; the condition or essential mode of being / existence

[35] Since geology is both deep and dynamic it might provide a better metaphor; other metaphor-terms are map, atlas, model, picture, theory

[36] Since the discussion is preliminary nothing final is being said about the nature of these functions, whether they will be among the actual functions, whether they constitute a complete set of functions and so on; further, nothing final is being said about function and its nature

[37] Here are some additional details that I did not feel necessary to currently incorporate in the main text. A much greater variety and level of detail is in words, language, metaphysics

Elementary experiences and their physical location or seat... modularity of mind and brain; localization and distributed functions; variety of states, conscious and otherwise, awake, altered, sleep and dreaming... ; α, β, δ, θ states; mapping the unconscious, psychoanalytic theory, Searle's connection principle; innateness of language, Fodor, Chomsky and poverty of stimulus; spirit, vision; belief, reasoning; writing, speaking; acting; design, motivation, choice, will; attention, arousal, sleep; representation; associative and indexed aspects of memory; neural, endocrine, immune and other biological bases of psychology; mind, reality, aberrations – in physical and social realities and in meaning, tone and mood… disease; human abilities and their complex – fractal – nature, exceptional abilities and performances – exceptional processes, states, acts and lives… see Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness for details on exceptional abilities and disease

[38] The sense of meaning here is what is the reference or, where there is no reference, what is the use i.e. what is the intention of the speaker / writer and what is the effect upon the listener / reader. Issues in meaning that I list as a guide to possible further analysis include:

Meaning in small versus large / complex communities, closed versus open communities, evolving versus stagnant communities

Sentence versus speaker meaning

Sense and reference or sense, connotation, intension versus reference, denotation, extension

Sense and family resemblance

Kinds of resemblance: coincidental i.e. one sign for two symbols,

Meaning or reference and use i.e. dictionary theory of meaning versus open meaning whose ultimate determination is in use

The role of leaders, specialists and authorities

Meaning,  knowing / cognition, language

Meaning, metaphysics and potential meaning

Interpretation and assignment of meaning or hermeneutic analysis of spoken messages and written texts

[39] Occurrent knowledge is knowledge that is currently “in mind,” of which the organism is conscious – in the case of an organism capable of consciousness – and to which the organism is attending. Dispositional knowledge is knowledge of which the organism need not be consciously aware or represented in images or symbols but which affects behavior. Dispositional knowledge includes knowing how to do something at e.g. an instinctive level that does not require explicit knowledge of how to perform the task or even that the task is being performed. Dispositional knowledge includes but is not at all limited to knowledge of a fact – or a theory or anything that has symbolic or iconic representation – when the fact is in memory but not currently a mental content. Occurrent knowledge is close if not identical to knowledge of facts, theories i.e. to knowing that something is true and is often also dispositional

[40] A number of related distinctions are important but out of the main line of development:

A priori versus a posteriori knowledge: Consider “All ravens are birds” and “All ravens are black” the first is a priori to empirical study and requires none while the truth of the second would require empirical study and is, therefore, a posteriori

Analytic versus synthetic propositions: A proposition is analytic if the meaning of the predicate is contained in the meaning of the subject. “All ravens are birds” is analytic because “raven” includes as part of its meaning “being a bird.” A proposition is synthetic when the analyticity condition is not satisfied i.e. the predicate is not contained in the subject. Therefore, “All ravens are black” is synthetic since “blackness” is not included in the meaning of “Raven.” Some analytic propositions such as “All ravens are black” are a priori, and most synthetic propositions are a posteriori. These concepts were used by Kant in one of the most significant issues in the development of epistemology – whether a priori synthetic judgments are possible. Some synthetic propositions are simply matters of empirical fact e.g. “it is raining.” However, “4 + 4 = 8” is synthetic since “4 + 4” is not part of the meaning of “8” but it is a priori

Necessary versus contingent propositions: A proposition is necessary if it is true in all possible worlds e.g. “All ravens are birds.” In contrast, “All ravens are black” is contingent holds in some circumstances [a world in which all ravens are black], but it is easy to imagine circumstances in which it would not be true e.g. in case of a mutation. A contingent proposition is one that is not true in all possible worlds i.e. its truth is contingent upon the world under consideration. Some necessary propositions, such as “All ravens are birds” are a priori [though not all are] and most contingent propositions are a posteriori

Tautological versus significant propositions: A proposition is tautological if its constituent terms repeat themselves or if they can be reduced to such terms. Thus “a = a” is tautological; not all tautological propositions are trivial since the reduction to tautological form might be not at all transparent. A proposition is significant if it does provide new information about the world. It is generally agreed that no significant propositions can be derived from tautologies. Tautologies are to be true a priori, are necessary, and are analytic; and significant statements are generally a posteriori, contingent, and synthetic

Logical versus factual propositions: A proposition is logical if analysis of its terms can reduce it to a logical truth, e.g., to A and B implies A. If A = x is black, and B = x is a bird with certain additional characteristics then x is a raven is equivalent to A and B which implies A i.e. x is black; thus “All ravens are birds” is logical. In contrast “All ravens are black” is not logical but, rather, factual. The theorems of logic are often, though not always, a priori, are always necessary, and are typically analytic. Factual propositions are generally a posteriori, contingent, and synthetic

Kripke, Naming and Necessity, 1972, used these concepts to analyze the problem of how a true identity sentence, which says of some object that it is identical to itself, could be non-trivial. The significance of the problem may be seen from “Scott is Scott” and “Scott is the author of Waverley,” which are both true identity sentences but only the latter is non-trivial. Kripke’s analysis is that all true identity sentences are necessary but that the trivial ones are a priori while others such as “Scott is the author of Waverley” are a posteriori and it is the investigation that is required to establish the truth of an a posteriori proposition that makes such propositions non-trivial

[41] This section is in preliminary form. It is not meant to be a comprehensive treatment of ethics or ethical systems. Rather, it emphasizes [1] the role of ethics in the Journey – of course this is not distinct from the role of ethics in general, [2] some distinctive and foundational views of ethics including the root unity of ethics, being and knowledge, [3] that ethics is not something that is imposed upon something that came before but is organic with origins; this follows from the previous point, [4] that the study of ethics which is sometimes conflated with ethics – morals – is distinct from ethics and may be used to understand or for application, and [5] there is a distinction between ethics-as-we-know-it [actual ethics] and what is at the root and whereas a text on ethics would be incomplete without actual ethics, in this section it is the root that is emphasized

The following is needed: [1] an in principle treatment of actual ethics and its principles, [2] perhaps an integration into the foregoing section on metaphysics, [3] integration into the Journey – the integration of actual ethics exists, it is the integration of the treatment of ethics that is to be integrated, [4] links to the places that ethics arises, and [5] perhaps later, a comprehensive and foundational though brief treatment of ethics; the way ethics is woven into life – intrinsically and reflexively – will be treated but what is sought, rather than an extensive examination of meta-ethics, normative ethics and the fabric of life and ethics – application, is the crux of ethics and its living presence

[42] … and more generally in the general field of value. The theory of value is sometimes called axiology, the study of the good in its widest sense and may include ethics, aesthetics, economic, political, and even logical value. See further comments, in the main text, in Ethics, Metaphysics and other concerns and in Meaning and Value

[43] I want to emphasize that this is an idea for possible later development as is the idea below, of using Kantian ethics to choose between consequentialism and deontology

[45] It is not being claimed that the ideas are novel; any claim to novelty pertains to their distinction and use

[46] The following is an interesting aside – can a being be a spider and a hippopotamus at the same time? If being a spider entails not being a hippopotamus then the answer is “no.” I.e. we usually think that there are no hippopotami in the set of entities that corresponds to the concept “spider.” But, what of the possibility of an actual being that is both spider and hippopotamus e.g. a quantum state that is a superposition of spider and hippopotamus? If such a being is possible in quantum theory, then it must also be possible in a universe that is equivalent to or “generated from” nothingness i.e. in our universe. This approach allows for an entity to be possessed of spider-hood and hippopotamus-hood but without contradiction since it is not either pure spider or pure hippopotamus. I.e., at root, being does not have the classical qualities of definiteness and exclusivity of kind and therefore there is no contradiction, at that level, of a being that has both spider- and hippopotamus-hood

[47] Of the responses to various criticisms of evolution, I mention a few. The alleged improbability of the origin of life has already been addressed in principle; it may be further noted that of all the places in our phase-epoch of the universe that may have been hospitable to the origin of life, actual origins may have occurred only in one and, further, that of all phase-epochs of the universe – there is an infinity of them – hospitability to origins of life must occur infinitely often and so actual origin is necessary not once but over and over. The question of the alleged improbability the history of life has been addressed. Another conceptual difficulty is the origin of complex organs for which it is alleged that intermediate stages would have had no function. The response to this is, in general, that there is a co-evolution of structure and function. A classic example is the eye which evolves through various stages that are originally very simple in structure where each stage is functional and there is evidence of the existence now or in the past of a number and variety of stages such that interpolation is at least reasonable. A further alleged difficulty is the paucity of the fossil record; the response is first, that invertebrates are not generally likely to leave fossil evidence and even when the likelihood of fossil evidence is strong, e.g. for vertebrates, preservation of the record requires appropriate geological circumstances; second, that the geological record, though incomplete, is quite rich; and, third, that there are numerous other forms of evidence that may be used to support and do support the fact and theories of evolution

[48] There are various forces that tend to limit or normalize perception that can be thought of as keeping perception on track; these forces include the reality of an individual’s immediate environment and social world, the distinction between bound and free perception, normal defense mechanisms. These can be functional or, as in excessive rigidity or neuroses, non-functional; however, the functional / non-functional distinction is somewhat relative to context or objective – neurosis may be associated with creativity, what is functional in activity, profession or way of life may be non-functional in another e.g. the charisma vs. patriarchy. Roughly, with liberal interpretation, the normalizing of perception is the function of the ego; the reference to psychoanalytic meaning is loose and suggestive rather than essential: here, ego refers to the goal oriented but constructive aspect of being. The principle of perception, then, is to modify and liberate the function of the ego while avoiding descent into mere license or permanent chaos. The following characterizations are rough: in meditation, the ego is suspended; in dreams it is turned off; in stress it is weakened; in the vision-quest, as in meditation, it is suspended but the means and the locus of suspension is somewhat different than in dreams and, perhaps, culturally / genetically conditioned; in the case of exceptional talent there may be, in addition to the positive factors of talent, an exceptionally flexible or, in some cases, an underdeveloped ego and, perhaps, combined with opportunity and motivation; while talent appears to be real, the underdeveloped ego may be the primary factor in some cases such as the savant phenomena. This gives rise to the interesting question to what extent latent talent exists and can be tapped by modulation of the ego

[49] It is useful to ask whether the neurophysiologies of dreaming and of hallucinating are related. A theory of hallucinations depends on two assumptions. First, that experience is associated with physiological processes that leave enduring physical changes [variously called neural traces, templates, or engrams in complex circuits] in the brain; ideas and images derive from activation of these engrams. Such circuits in the cortex underlie the neurophysiology of memory, thought, imagination, and fantasy; and the associated emotions are mediated through cortex connections with the deeper parts of the brain, thus resulting in dynamic interaction between perception and emotion through neural interactions largely at unconscious levels. Conscious awareness is regulated through an arousal process the influence of which is mediated by the ascending midbrain reticular activating system. Analyses of hallucinations have shown an important role of the temporal lobes in auditory hallucinations, for example, and of other parts of the brain in hallucinations in general. The second assumption is that experience and personality are products of constant interplay of causes continually emanating from inside [physiological activity] and outside the [sensory stimuli.] These transactions exert an integrating and organizing influence upon the engrams underlying the activation of experiences – images and hallucinations – and the associated emotions; as a result, physiological, cultural, and experiential factors are among determinants of the content and meaning of the experiences

Sensory impulses are constantly received, but most do not achieve the level of conscious experience in dynamic [scanning] and selective [screening] way in which integrative mechanisms that survey stored information and adaptively select parts of potential experience for awareness and, then, clear focus. These mechanisms simultaneously survey previously stored information within the brain and select samples that give adaptive significance to incoming information from the environment, and bring a few items for actual recall from memory. The content of awareness is an ongoing combination of perceptions of objects and associated interpretive imagery and emotion that are normally in a state of integration; and normally, sensory input maintains both the awareness functions and a balance in the relative vividness of object perception and imagination. Some information can be brought deliberately into awareness and many children and some adults can screen memory traces with eidetic clarity. Normally, however, sensory input inhibits quiescent perceptual traces

When sensory input is diminished, the functions of awareness [screening, scanning] and, as a rule, stimulation the ascending midbrain reticular activating system diminish and, as a result, arousal and awareness diminish. Sensory input no longer inhibits ordinarily quiescent perceptual traces. Such released perceptions may become conscious with hallucinatory vividness if there must be a sufficient general level of arousal of awareness and of perception-engrams; this happens in dreaming. Alternately, hallucinations may occur even in the presence of sensory input if the brain is stimulated directly by mechanical or chemical means or if the mechanism of inhibition is disrupted or damaged

[50] Concepts by James A. Hampton in the MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences, 2nd edition, 1999, Robert A. Wilson and Frank C. Keil, eds.

[51] Thus neither the esoteric nor the practical are cultivated for their intrinsic value as esoteric or as minute and practical. I do not want to be exclusively soaring or crawling

[52] Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, 1945

[53] E. O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, 1975 is a classic work in defining the doctrine of sociobiology

Although the focus of this essay is on the universal, I do not seek to avoid the particular. While sociobiology, especially in its doctrinaire forms, may be parochial, I include it out of interest and as a link to future research and written work. I want to repeat that inclusion, here, of a body of thought is not endorsement and to add that I have no a priori position – pro or con – regarding optimal analysis and sociobiology. However, it seems eminently reasonable to seek to connect the study of society with that of biology

[54] Kinship groups have been considered to be groups related by blood or marriage or other alliance; various theories exist regarding the origin and nature of such groups which, for humankind, have a degree of variability that appears to be unusual in the animal world. Groups may be “defined” by what they share and, thus a definition of kinship could be given that is continuous with all other kinds of group. The idea that the notion of kinship is to be preserved at all cost is a kind of reification even though it is clear that there is something to the idea of a kinship bond that is special, if not unique, to human groups. An improved approach would be to use the kind of definition suggested and to see what kinds of group fell out of that definition – it is inherent in the definition that all actual groups would be included since the concept of a group is that of something being shared – and what continuities and conceptual relationships there are among the kinds of group and how they might vary from one society to another


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