Consciousness, Mind and Nature | Consciousness, Mind and the World | Being and the Absolute



Status June 12, 2003

Evolution of My Thought




2.1      Exploration of consciousness and mind

2.2      An individual has multiple centers of consciousness

2.3      The many consciousnesses in the world constitute a single consciousness

2.4      The world and consciousness are identical

2.5      Exploration of the world



3.1      The idea of being

3.2      Levels of being

3.3      What are the transformations and dynamics of being?

3.4      Being through time… And absolute being - beyond time

3.5      This absolute must be the one consciousness




My thought on mind and consciousness and their place in the world is at three levels. The first level is scientific. At this level I seek to understand and explain mind and its characteristics, especially consciousness, as a part of the biological and physical world that in its elemental description -i.e. physical and biological- contains no explicit reference to mind. At this level my thinking is informed by the recent work on consciousness and, more generally, by the Western Tradition

Before continuing, I want to make some comments on the biological and physical world or biophysical world. I include both biology and physics because I do not want to get into a biology vs. physics debate; that is not a topic without interest but, relative to the concerns of this essay, it is marginal. My second comment is that the biophysical world is usually thought by most academic workers in philosophy, science and related fields in the English speaking world to encompass or constitute nature. The precise definition of nature is not important but it includes the ideas of being elemental, having full and independent existence, something that is not constructed or reconstructed by man and society. Mind is usually thought to be part of nature but not possessed of fully independent existence, i.e., while mind may not be reducible to [biophysical] nature, it is caused by or explainable in terms of [biophysical] nature. Finally, I believe that there is exactly one world in the metaphysical sense and, relative to that meaning, have been using “world” in a common metaphorical way

At the second level I see mind as having an existence that is independent of the [biophysical] natural world and the questions of priority and relationship between mind and nature arise. This split is dependent on a concept of nature that is materialist in that the fundamental elements of nature are defined in physics and biology. I believe that many - though certainly not all - academic workers in science and philosophy in the English speaking world find the idea of mind as something outside of nature, even in its biophysical sense, as incorrect and incomprehensible. The expectation is that mind, like life, will yield to naturalist-materialist explanation. [This is not a one dimensional attitude in that materialism comes in a number of forms: explicit materialism - also called central state materialism or physicalism when referring to mind, behaviorism, functionalism, computer functionalism and cognitivism, and biological naturalism.]

My position at this second level, simply stated, is as follows. The establishment of any system of explanation occurs through success rather than explicit proof. There are good reasons - scientific and existential - to consider alternatives to any narrow naturalism. It is valid, while paying adequate heed to Occam’s principle of economy of hypotheses, to combine systems of explanation - but not to confuse them. It is important to be imaginative in the generation but rigorous in the [final] selection of ideas. My position here is naturalist but not materialist: it recognizes mind as a fully independent element of nature. The attitude is not essentially anti-materialist, for it leaves open the relative weights, distributions and relations to be attached to matter, life and mind. Once this general position is established, it forms the framework for further ontological specification. An example of this is considered below in the second circle, Consciousness, Mind and World

There are various problems related to the assignment of an independent ontological status to mind. These may be summed up under “tradition” but include the scientific world view or materialism and common sense. However, this tradition has not at all succeeded in explaining mind in its own terms and therefore mind stands as a very real reminder of the possibility of ontological or metaphysical incompleteness of the tradition. It is therefore reasonable to entertain an ontologically independent status for mind

The idea or possibility of an independent ontological status to mind [implied by the second level] is itself questionable in that mind itself or mind and matter together may be ontologically or explanatorily insufficient principles. Thus I entertain a third level, the level of Being, at which the nature of being is much an unknown as it is a given. As an alternate to the idea of Being, I have recently been considering the system of concepts that center on the Noumenon as described by Kant and Schopenhauer; however the development of this possibility is something that I am currently working with and is not yet ready for communication

When I stated above that the first level is scientific, I did not imply that the second and third levels are not scientific in content or are counter-scientific in attitude. Rather, I meant that -at the present stage of development- science [as usually construed] must be supplemented by philosophy and constructive imagination in order to obtain a picture of mind and world

I have been attempting to work out the relations at the three levels for a while. One of the problems that arise, especially at the second level, is that there are a number of interdependent ideas that require mutual formulation - it is not sufficient to focus on each idea and work [modify] it in isolation. Thus in the fall of 1998, while hiking in the mountains of Northern California, I conceived of a certain set of relationships, arranged in a circle, among mind, minds and world… I scribbled down the ideas on a scrap of paper and, later, wrote them up as Consciousness, Mind and World: A Circle of Relationship and Understanding Centered in Consciousness and the Phenomena - the Second of Three Circles. At the same time I also worked out a third circle… Being and the Absolute and, for completeness, the first circle… Consciousness, Mind and Nature: A Circle of Relationship and Understanding Centered in Science and Nature

The set of details of each circle is worked out in a text article. The text for the first circle is a separate document, Problems in the Science and Philosophy of Mind [Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness]. The articles for Consciousness, Mind and World and for Being and the Absolute are part of the present web document

The text article for the first circle is a structured and comprehensive review of the problems of mind and consciousness. The focus is on modern research in consciousness and considers alternatives and solution frameworks. In this first article I consider what it means to have a materialist or naturalist [in the limited sense] explanation of mind and consciousness. I suggest that our concepts of matter may be radically changed as prerequisite to establishment of such explanations

In the second article, Consciousness, Mind and the World I find an approach that some persons will label absolute idealism. Any such approach will necessarily have a basis in unifying concepts. The present approach has the following additional characteristics:

It is founded in natural observation and reflection

It requires significant reworking of the nature of the idea, and ideational relations. The work finds that our common notion of the idea lacks scope and substance

The progression from a limited to a more encompassing naturalism and, specifically, the relations within mind, among minds and among mind and world considered in the second article open up considerations on relations among world, mind, actual and absolute being. [Such considerations remain naturalistic and stand indifferent to any impressed theism.] These topics are the contents of Being and the Absolute

The question of sources and acknowledgements is complex. Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness includes some discussion of the issue and a bibliography and reference section. My thinking regarding the second and third circles does not draw as significantly from the literature. This is not to say that my ideas regarding idealism and being are pure creations even though my thinking has been fairly independent. The concepts of idealism are part of a number of cultural heritages. The idea of Being has been with us explicitly since Aristotle, and the idea of Being as a question is suggested by analogy with algebra [solve the equation f[x] = 0] or the idea of philosophy that includes the question “what is philosophy?” Thus my indebtedness to thinkers such as Husserl and Heidegger is less direct than may be thought even though I do have some acquaintance with Being and Time and with Husserl’s thought. My real debt is to the various cultures and to the great natural universe within which I live

Anil Mitra

October, 1999

Status May 13, 2004

No further action needed for Journey in Being

I have reviewed the content and the essence of those ideas and arguments with which I agree have been absorbed elsewhere, primarily to Journey in Being

Relative to the frames and the HTMLHelp formats, the present straight html version is most current [changes are minor]

Commentary: I have come quite some distance since writing this essay: my understanding of mind, consciousness, being is far advanced relative to where I was

I no longer subscribe or need to subscribe to any idealism to understand the place of mind… I used the idealism of this essay because of the difficulty of incorporating mind in a materialist framework and the point that the idea was much more concrete than imagined has become the point that matter, mental content are not the definite and separate entities we may think them to be… and the difficulty of the mind / matter question has been absorbed into an analysis of the objects and our understanding of them

My approach to understanding, especially the generalized transcendental method, which, though not new, has become much more refined, more powerful, more direct and stripped of parochial logic

Further action if and when I decide to focus on mind / consciousness: Here is what may be useful

The logic of the “graded” idealism

Some insights such as the diffusion of consciousness and identity

Suggestions for research

Note, however, that even though Journey in Being is not specialist it often goes far beyond the present essay in its own domain. Therefore, various suggestions for research / thought are resolved while others are more clearly stated… an example is the binding problem of consciousness

Evolution of My Thought

The following quotes from the foregoing

“My thought on mind and consciousness and their place in the world is at three levels; the first level is scientific

At the second level I see mind as having an existence that is independent of the [biophysical] natural world… the origin of this thought is in the deficiencies of the western scientific-materialist tradition that, despite its immense power and apparent subsumption of all categories, not at all succeeded in explaining mind in its own terms and therefore mind stands as a very real reminder of the possibility of ontological or metaphysical incompleteness of the tradition

The idea or possibility of an independent ontological status to mind [implied by the second level] is itself questionable in that mind itself or mind and matter together may be ontologically or explanatorily insufficient principles. Thus I entertain a third level of understanding, the level of Being, at which the nature of being is much an unknown as it is a given…”

It is at this point that my recent thought, Journey in Being, takes on new shape – the nature of being need not be given because being itself is not given. At the same time the seeds of the theory underlying this idea – the theory of the void or of nothingness – are contained in the third level of understanding that includes known and unknown elements… Also note that in the present document I developed a radical idealism that I now thoroughly repudiate and not because it is wrong so much as unnecessary; and it involves the introduction, not of distinction for the mind – matter distinction has been shown to be moot, but because it introduces definiteness in understanding where there is no final definiteness in the world… which is good in that the world is open and therefore lovely

It should be noted that the void or nothingness is not at all a simple object…


The following “circles of relationship” appear as circles in the HTML version


A Circle of Relationship and Understanding Centered in Science and Nature - the First Circle

1. Exploration of Consciousness and Mind

Experience of the world including experiments and exploration… The idea and concepts… The Phenomena or Phenomenology: varieties and sub-concepts, words and vocabulary

2. Psychology and Sociology of Consciousness

A general map of mind or mental phenomena… including consciousness as a province. Can consciousness be reduced to or explained by other psychological or social phenomena? Is consciousness a unity… or does an individual have many centers of consciousness? Consciousness and awareness… The binding problem, attention and memory… The society of conscious entities shows the psychology and sociology to be continuous and the distinction artificial

The sociology may also speak to the nature of consciousness - what it is or how it appears, and as a certain kind of awareness… and its origins, how it arises - whether society and culture construct it, cultivate it or alert us to it. Note… I regard subjectivity and consciousness to be part of psychology. Julian Jaynes

3. The Biology and Physics of Consciousness

Physics… the existence of consciousness may place requirements on physics. Will this entail modifications to the physics of today? To what additional extent will physics be necessary to explain consciousness… the ideas of Penrose. Issue of determinism

Biology… biological underpinnings of consciousness… Neuroscience, endocrine and immune systems… Aspects of cell biology and biochemistry… Brain, body and body image… Ecology of consciousness… Evolution of consciousness


Francis Crick, Israel Rosenfield, Roger Penrose

4. Consciousness, Computers and AI

Cognitive science and consciousness… Strong AI - information processing model of consciousness: an evaluation. Weak AI

How to get a machine to think… to be conscious… Hardware issues… Coevolution of software and hardware…Machines and biology… Machines that reproduce

Daniel Dennett, Bernard Baars

5. Philosophy of Consciousness

Aspects of the philosophy of mind… Dualism… Issue of determinism… Behaviorism and behavior… Functionalism… While clear-cut distinctions are not possible the emphasis here is practical, analytic… metaphysics is deferred to the second circle

What is consciousness? Recognizing consciousness… Fundamental problem of consciousness… Need for new “psycho-physical” principles?

Gedanken experiments - silicon brains, zombies

The place of consciousness in nature… Evolution of consciousness… Anthropology and consciousness

Thomas Nagel, John R. Searle, David Chalmers


A Circle of Relationship and Understanding Centered in Consciousness and the Phenomena - the Second Circle

1. Exploration of Consciousness and Mind

Experience of the world including experiments and exploration… The idea and concepts…. The Phenomena or Phenomenology: varieties and sub-concepts, words and vocabulary

2. An Individual Has Multiple Centers of Consciousness

Individual consciousness that appears to be one and centralized is, in fact, many… or distributed. Therefore the world, in that it contains a distribution of individuals, has or is a distribution of consciousnesses or awarenesses


The binding problem… or is it a problem. Binding, attention and memory… Similarity and difference between binding for the individual and for the world… Is there a distinction between awareness and consciousness? Fundamentally, I think not

3. The Many Consciousnesses in the World Constitute a Single Consciousness

Although this is in analogy with item 2, this needs to be shown… Demonstration includes generalization and predictive power… and is not merely by argument or proof


In what sense are the many consciousnesses one? … Unity of consciousness does not rule out dualism: world/mind… and object/subject. A particular case of dualism: world includes mind

4. The World and Consciousness Are Identical

This is consistent with idealism and materialism… or the absence of a specification of either. In a materialist framework the problem of showing how consciousness, subjectivity arise in matter

In an idealist interpretation, the limit in which consciousness is absent is the material case. This requires a new conceptualization of the idea and re-working of the language of the idea. Idealism, when understood is an excellent approach to ontology, minimizes its hypothetical character… and integrates mind, being, matter, and empiricism

5. Exploration of the World

Exploration - completes this circle as an ongoing circle of action by placing ideas in the world… and opens up the next circle of Being and the Absolute

In general - transformation of world, ideas and symbols… in which old and new are balanced by stability and process needs… based in a dynamically complete system of common experience

In the present study the consciousness-concept is revised to cover the experience… the “trap” of established meanings and paradigms is difficult to avoid. The revision of the concept of consciousness, in turn, finds world and idea to be of the same kind and their relation to be dynamic


A Circle of Relationship and Understanding Centered in Being - the Third Circle

1. The idea of Being… what is most fundamental?

In contrast to the usual monism or dualism the idea of being starts with the question of the nature of being. Criteria - including directness and common observation - and candidates are considered and the form of being in which human being participates is chosen

2. Levels of Being

The nature of the levels - they show increasing vitality, awareness reflexivity in awareness, and completeness

The levels are matter, life, being as aware, self-aware, self-transparent, complete within itself, and that knows and is all

Modes of being were considered in the second circle, Consciousness, Mind and the World

3. What are the Transformations and Dynamics of Being?

The elements of the dynamics are being, meaning and action. Meaning is placement in the real; it is a condition of being… though not always recognized. Action includes choice

The dynamic is that through meaning, being is in relationship; relationship generates action; and action is or equates to change in being

4. Being through Time… and Absolute Being - Beyond Time

Significant durations of time for a being are the instant… and the life span

In the Absolute, eternity is an instant

5. This Absolute Must Be the One Consciousness

… of Consciousness, Mind and the World

Indeterministic-deterministic dynamics imply that “no-thing” is always in “virtual” or potential change that becomes actual by selection. In the limit No-thing is identical to the Absolute; and to the intermediate phases of the world



The text for this section is Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness

Note that this text does not follow the outline above and is significantly more comprehensive and detailed


2.1         Exploration of consciousness and mind

Considerations on the Diffusion of Consciousness

It is convenient to start the circle with consideration of a simple but sufficiently complex creature. I have been living in Northwestern California for sixteen years - the home of the redwoods. It is also home to a yellow creature ariolomax columbianus, locally known as the banana slug1 that invades local gardens and amuses me as it crosses the deck in front of my home. This slug can grow up to eight inches and weigh a quarter of a pound; a common coloration is lemon yellow. I ask: is the banana slug conscious? This question has intrinsic interest but my motivation for asking it here is an analysis of consciousness. The more “data points” that one has, the more one knows about consciousness. Knowledge of consciousness starts by our experience of it and this leads to the commonsense definition of consciousness as the state of mind in which one has subjective experience of the world… since there is a qualitative or subjective feeling to such states, they have been labeled “qualia.” However, I will argue that a reconceptualization of consciousness is necessary to be able to understand the relations between consciousness and the world. Inquiring about the consciousness of a slug, since we have minimal empathetic insight into it, requires consideration of how to recognize consciousness and, in turn, reconsideration of what consciousness is. Consideration of machine consciousness is interesting for the same reasons. Of course the question about the slug may lead to insights in biology… and consideration of the issue for the machine may lead to insights in computation and artificial intelligence

Is a banana slug conscious? A key to answering this is the reconceptualization of consciousness… or perhaps it is in the conceptualization of consciousness. I emphasize conceptualization because the idea of consciousness as qualia is somewhere in the gray area between concept and percept. Consciousness as qualia is an anthropic notion. Let us then examine another idea that started as anthropic and subsequently generalized to a concept - the idea of force in physics. The idea of force in physics is one that is scientific and of universal applicability in the realm of physics - at least in classical physics. Force is an anthropic percept that can be generalized as a concept to the universe of matter by the dual aspects of measurement and theory. Measurement of force is by its effect[s] and the theoretical aspect is Newtonian Mechanics. This generalization does not invalidate the anthropic and qualitative notion of force but provides context for it. Similarly, measurement or observation of consciousness is through behavior 2… and the theory that provides integration and generalization is the dynamics of being. The dynamics of being is the theory that explains how an individual, often considered to be subject to or given in the real, can enter into the dynamics of the real… how a being enters reality as being without necessary mediation by “theory.” Since consciousness as qualia and the generalizations as orientation to the real would be involved in such a dynamics, the dynamics of being is a strong candidate. As a theory the dynamics relates behavior and entry into the real. It has predictive power in that it complements and bridges theory [science] and the categories of reality and intuition

It is ironic that behaviorism that had an intention to rule out mind from psychology, is a measure of consciousness and will show a slug - but not a thermostat - to be conscious

What is it about the behavior of a slug that makes it conscious? The conditions of its continued existence require it to negotiate in a complex environment. It has a perceptual system that is tied into its environment. This system evolved out of or with the environment. The creature is in the dynamics of the real. Although we do not sufficiently empathize with it to intuit its consciousness… we infer its consciousness from our mutual existence in the dynamics of the real

Question: But surely, a slug is not really conscious?

Answer: We tend to assume that our form of consciousness - stark3 and reflexive - must define consciousness. There is no necessity to the requirement of starkness. But all consciousness must involve consciousness of consciousness. This follows from consideration of what it must be like to have a single qualia in isolation. The having of qualia must involve memory and comparison. When my feet are cold as I write, I feel it; to know that I am cold I must hold the idea of coldness from memory in consciousness. Thus consciousness is necessarily reflexive. Our prejudice against the slug is due to equation of qualia with starkness. But there are also diffuse modes. And it is in these modes that the awareness of a “lower” creature is reflexive - involves conscious of consciousness. Thus consciousness of consciousness is intrinsic to consciousness… it is not necessary to say “consciousness of consciousness” for that is contained in consciousness… and there is no distinction between consciousness and awareness. Both consciousness and consciousness of consciousness or self-consciousness, though they have integral aspects, include the vague and diffuse - seen and not recognized… re-cognized by some other and or central agency of consciousness. It is in the same sense and with the same meaning that it can be said that consciousness necessarily includes knowledge of consciousness. The objections and arguments are the same including the generalization of the concept of knowledge. It is only in certain discrete, stark forms that this self-consciousness deserves to be mentioned. And it is only in these forms that there appears to be a distinction between consciousness and consciousness of consciousness

It will be interesting and useful to consider a gradation of species of various stages of organic development. This will permit correlation between nervous system and degree of consciousness. It will show that a nervous system is not necessary for consciousness… though, in animals, a nervous system significantly localizes and sharpens consciousness4. The gedanken application of the considerations discussed here to alien/machine consciousness will sharpen the analysis

Consciousness, Awareness and Attention

The three words have manifold meanings and consciousness and awareness are often used interchangeably. In the simplest sense consciousness is the having of subjective experience, of qualia… and does not necessarily involve self-consciousness or reflexivity. However, I argue[d] that consciousness necessarily involves reflexivity when all degrees of consciousness are included. This argument is not essential to the main argument in the “circle” of understanding. Awareness is sometimes considered to be similar to consciousness in that there is sentience but different in that the subjectivity is absent. The possible distinctions are subtle but I argue that there is no essential categorical difference. In this view there is no need for two fundamentally different concepts - consciousness with and awareness without subjectivity. There may be a need to distinguish the clear and central from the vague or the boundary… but, based on the various associations of the words a contrast between consciousness and awareness would not be the best way to do this

Attention is the assignment of differing degrees of clarity, centrality-boundary to elements in the conscious field. There, is in general, no well-defined boundary to the conscious field - it is dynamic and “fuzzy.”

More on conscious awareness

Assume that awareness includes but is not identical to conscious, i.e., that an organism may be aware but not conscious

I have already argued that “boundary” states are not non-conscious awareness. States of awareness on the boundary involve consciousness

Consider this point further. Consider bringing something in from the periphery of awareness into central consciousness. Someone says I was not conscious of it but I became conscious of it. Some argue that this means that there was awareness but not consciousness. Does not this imply a distinction between consciousness and awareness? No. It is my argument that there is no distinction in character. Insofar as peripheral awareness is not conscious it is not in the consciousness of a central system but it is in the consciousness - as re-conceptualized here - of a peripheral system

What then differentiates consciousness from the idea of awareness without consciousness? It must be the reflexive character of consciousness, of looping. Talking about consciousness… That the having of qualia necessarily involves these reflexive characteristics… That in the stark “advanced” case, the reflexivity involves explicit looping that may be seen as such; and that in the diffuse and elementary case the reflexivity is intrinsic in the fact of awareness/consciousness being in the character of a relation or binding

What then of non-consciousness awareness? Is there such a thing? Thermostats as thermostats do not qualify. The material components of the thermostat have relations: physical relations. I will be arguing that this is the singular and material case within the ontology that results from universalization of the concept of consciousness. The singular case may be regarded as “conscious” in the algebraic sense where zero is regarded as a quantity because of the algebraic simplicity that results. And from theoretical physics such algebraic conveniences may well turn out to have material significance. However _s among the components of the thermostat as thermostat are named rather than basically physical. As such there is no consciousness or awareness. This is not the final word on this particular issue and even if we allow a thermostat as thermostat to partake of the physical its consciousness, if any, is of the character of zero consciousness. What about the possible argument that just as living organisms are built out of elements of the environment and this is the source of their consciousness, so there is a parallel argument for mechanisms… I will ignore the ontologically laden character of the words and phrases such as “built”, “environment”, and “built out of”. Organisms are layered or hierarchical; each layer evolved in intimate relation with an environment; they are thus keyed in at all levels or their being; the environment is intimately and deeply interwoven; they are the expression of the world. Now we see thermostats, in this view, very cheap and degraded versions of expression. But on reflection the thermostat is not at all intrinsically tied in but is an expression of the tying in of the maker of the thermostat. I admit that this is not a knock out argument - these are not to be found in the world of the synthetic in a culture where we cultivate the glory of the analytic. But a synthetic being in a synthetic culture would leave alone the notion of a thermostat having consciousness, excepting the magical case, until the consciousness of the thermostat forced recognition

What of our friend the slug? What is the looping awareness when slugs meet? It is diffuse consciousness

So the difference between awareness that is not thought to be conscious and what is clearly conscious is not after all a lack of consciousness in the case of awareness. It is starkness, starkness of looping, degree of reflexivity, language, culture

There is no difference of kind among awareness and consciousness as reflexive awareness

But I already argued for essential but not stark reflexivity of all awareness-consciousness

There is no difference of kind among consciousness and awareness

There is a difference in degree which we may label consciousness vs. awareness but then consciousness loses its fundamental nature as qualia and awareness is fundamental

What about the unconscious? This is not a part of awareness but of potential awareness. Reconsider this

Criticisms of the Idea of Diffusion

… from the sense of separateness of the self

In psychoanalytic theory projection is a defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person. This is of course a very special case of knowledge by metaphor. Originally, at the start of individuation, distinction between a self and the world is not clear. In individuation the sense of one is replaced by a reflexive and many faceted looping from self to world to self… this idea does not require that self not be or not be seen as part of the world. A mistake that may arise in this process is “confusion” of elements or properties of self and world. This may be seen as projection

Thus in attributing consciousness to a slug or other creature, despite attempts at reconceptualization of consciousness and conceptualization of the position of a creature in the world, I may still be guilty of projection. Of course projection is not necessarily mere projection. Therefore the work of criticism is to show that such projection is mere projection

That this is the work of the critic - including the internal critic - does not relieve me of an obligation to show that such projection is not mere projection, that it has reality. At the same time I recognize that projection is also a source of knowledge… especially as part of dialog. So the real task is to embrace projection as part of the dialog of creation, criticism and experience. That is a phase of this work

This same analysis can be applied to all positions including materialism… which appears to be the opposite of projection. Materialism itself may be a projection… a power paradigm… but this neither validates nor invalidates materialism. Relative to this my program should include rather than reject materialism… and to find its place and appropriate interpretation within a larger scheme. That larger scheme may find its place through dialog and in history

Awareness and Consciousness: Summary

There is a meaning of consciousness that is identical to awareness… and another in which conscious is a kind of awareness. There is no awareness that is not consciousness in its general sense. What defines the special meaning of consciousness? Some considerations are given here: reflexive awareness, heightened awareness, awareness informed and cultivated by a sense of self, by social groups through language and culture… which are in turn nurtured through the sense of being that includes awareness…

Diffusion of Consciousness in the Individual

… some Explorations, Objections and Responses

In analogy between the components or organs of a compound organism, and simpler organisms… the components are themselves conscious

Objection: Individuals note no consciousness to their fingers or organs. Response: no consciousness is expected to be noted. There are levels of clarity or starkness to consciousness… and degrees of connection… and a second individual or one’s organs may be intrinsically “on” but “off” to the individual - to the “I” or the “me.” So “other” consciousness is on and off - in an approximate or metaphorical sense. The yogi can feel the consciousness of the organs and the saint can feel the consciousness of the other. I can look and feel, too, but the yogi and the saint see deeper… Other ways of seeing that these centers of consciousness are distant from the central, stark “I” are [i] in the seen but not recognized - which follows from the conditions of development of the individual and the association of the stark discrete forms with language and spatio-temporal perception… what the yogi and the saint see and recognize through training, initiation and empathy is also seen but not recognized by others - by the “uninitiated”… and [ii] in the unconscious or potentially conscious which too may be - or have an aspect of - the seen and not recognized

Objection: consciousness is either on or off. Response: consciousness is either present or not present. On off means there is a threshold below which there is awareness but not consciousness. If consciousness is present at all levels of intensity of awareness… then it is not on off but merely present or not present. The generalization of consciousness considered here includes awareness [by the behavior in organic context argument]. All cases can be considered under one category of consciousness with the limiting case assigned the value “zero.” Threshold is not negated; nor is this contradictory of the present arguments for in introduction of a reconceptualization there are going to be some points of difference between the old and the new versions of the concept… and, as argued above, the new system is to be judged by other criteria such as prediction and test… This is recognized in science but the ideas are not at all limited to science

Objections: but these arguments are not at all rigorous… are plausibility and heuristic arguments

Plausibility proof: introspection

Material proof: the reflex arc. Review and modify the argument for consciousness of simpler organisms

The issue of proof considered. The plausibility and heuristic considerations of the circle of issues has a number of functions: [i] plausibility and motivation, [ii] creation of a conceptual framework in which the issues can be seen in a new, generalized or universalized way… so that discussion may be held, explanations given, predictions made and tested, and ideas sharpened. The final criterion of proof in the world cannot be deduction alone but must also involve hypothesis [speculation] prediction and testing. There are, of course, other criteria of various types. Universalization, understanding, generalization, consistency and simplicity are all guiding “criteria”… consistency is also required. The discussion here and below shows the reconceptualization to have universalization, understanding, and generalization. It has simplicity in the following senses: the actual number of categories is reduced, the field of application is universalized, dualism is eliminated, and dynamics is introduced thereby to a degree eliminating description in favor of prediction. It points the way to development of the concepts, to application for utility and testing and rigor and consistency

An individual is conscious but a finger and viscera are also conscious. The violation of the “brain image” of the body is only apparent - consider the reflex arc and the vestiges of communication in organisms without nervous systems

The consciousness of the individual is discrete and central… and there is also a non-stark form of central consciousness. However, the consciousness of components is non-central or diffuse and non-stark

These considerations lead to the idea that an individual has multiple centers of consciousness. This is formalized in the following section

2.2         An individual has multiple centers of consciousness

Issues… the binding problem… or is it a problem. Binding, attention and memory… not everything in the conscious field needs to be bound… the universe is not a single object [for many purposes]; and an individual needs to have different modes of control: a scanning control that is part of the central, discrete mode… and a mode that is on “idle” [sleep] but arousable in relation to a different category of data that suddenly requires attention

Individual consciousness that appears to be one is, in fact, many… or distributed

Therefore the world has in it a distribution of consciousnesses or awarenesses

We would next like to show that the diffusion of consciousness is a unity: the Many Consciousnesses in the World Constitute a Single Consciousness. This is taken up next

2.3         The many consciousnesses in the world constitute a single consciousness

How can we show that the distribution is one?

First, they are one in the same way but to different degree that the many of the individual though in fact many are effectively one. Just as the distribution in the individual partake of the individual but are only occasionally in communication or in unity… similarly the agents of consciousness the individuals of the universe are also often in qualitative isolation but may also on occasion and in phases partake of the unity - of the one. Second, through the mutation of being[s] over the history of the universe… This is the integration over being and process which is the absolute that is nothing. Nothing? The combination of indeterminism [required by the process of creation] and determinism [the stable phase of indeterminism required or implied by being in the world that is not mere virtual being] show that the universe and the absolute have a phase of and are equivalent to non-being

We now see the unity of consciousness. This leaves our concept of the world inorganic even if dynamic in that consciousness and the world have not been shown to be integral. The question of the identity of consciousness and the world is taken up next

2.4         The world and consciousness are identical 5

Idealism: Unification of the Concepts of the Idea and the Object

At this stage of the present exploration there are still the notions of the one consciousness - mind/idea… and the object of consciousness: “matter?”

How shall we introduce organicity into this conceptual state of affairs? The answer is as follows: the concept of consciousness has been reviewed and revised. The same must be done for the concept of the idea itself

It is usual to think, in the standard material paradigm of the modern world, of consciousness as consciousness of an object. The content of consciousness is the idea. On this view, the world has matter and ideas. This is not necessarily a dualism for the idea may be a manifestation or reduction of matter without having been explained or even being explainable in material terms

However if everything is a form or manifestation of idea - if ideas are real and the original substance - then we have a clear and simple monism. This is the form of idealism. It is simpler than materialism in that since, by our existence, we have ideas and thus idealism does not require any further substance or hypothesis with ontological content… and even if the having of ideas is said to be delusion or illusion then what are delusions or illusions if not ideas? It is an error to think that idealism is in opposition or in contrast to materialism. It materialism is symbolized by the mountain, then idealism is symbolized by the mountain, the wind, the clouds and mist that surround the peak… and the valleys below… and the ground of the mountain: the earth. Idealism requires no hypothesis. It need not be a philosophy or a metaphysics or an ontology. It is or can be seen as the name for experience; or one really wants it to be something more than the intrinsic state of our existence then we could call idealism the acknowledgement of our existence

Idealism: Objections and Responses: a somewhat lengthy catalog

Some basic objections to idealism

1. Idealism and Power

The challenge to the paradigm of practicality and power… It is tempting to call this the material and or the prevailing paradigm of politics and commerce of everyday life of the Western World… but the material paradigm is much more than a scientific paradigm based in, say, physics and is of much broader prevalence than the “West.” It is the paradigm of power, politics, survival, the ego and the given. Scientific or philosophical materialism is a special case of this paradigm

2. The notion of the Idea as Ethereal and non-material

… and

3. The Challenge of Materialism

The existence of matter and the need to satisfy the requirements of practical or everyday materialism… and scientific and philosophical materialism6

Responses to the objections 1 - 3. 1. Universalization, reality and simplicity, 2. There are grades of idea… from vision, to feeling to hardness to thing-object-matter. The idea or notion of object as not-idea is incomplete. “Objects” have very much an ideal existence… that is fundamental, existential and experiential. Their existence also as material objects requires an additional hypothesis or position beyond that of the reality of experience: that of the external world. The external world is thought - whether practically and in effect or analytically and in fact - to be necessitated by the equation of idealism and solipsism. The equation of solipsism and idealism follows from the isolation of consciousness as discrete, monadic and isolated entities. Solipsism is in contradiction to the existence of a real world with distinct individuals and distinct ideas. However, a world of distributed and unitized - by occasional rather than continual communication - consciousness, idealism does not imply or equate to solipsism. The ideal world is one of individuals that are also a unity. 3. Idealism is thus consistent with “the existence of matter and the need to satisfy the requirements of practical or everyday materialism… and scientific and philosophical materialism”… but is also simpler and requires fewer hypotheses. The absence of awareness is the material case

… there are too many posited categories that are and should be grades or shades in the continuum of a single category. This means that the world is actually simpler… but in no way loses its variety of forms and phenomena, in no way reduces the variety and richness of [human] experience… and further, to be explained below, eliminates or gives meaning to alienation - connects humankind and world. This latter result is similar to the action principle of the Gita. Alienation is the result of the stark aspect of reflexivity. A positive aspect is freedom and agency in transformation of self, culture and world

… the sources of the posited categories, in addition but also in some relation to the power principle, are the disciplinary or specialization of modern institutions and academics… and egoism

… what categories? Mind/matter, egoism/altruism, real/nominal, rational/empirical, hidden/visible, inner/outer or external world, subject/object, ultimate/proximate, pragmatism-utilitarianism/objectivism, consciousness-subjective/behavioral-psychological… Regarding the latter it is true that we recognize the mental in others through empathy and by behavior: action, expression and affect… but why are we asserting that a smile is “just behavior” and not mind? So mind is recognized by mind and this generalizes to the formal and the conceptual, the recognition of mental process or their absence in alien mind, in computers

Reformulation of some of the objections: But, common sense, science and philosophy teach that there’s an objective world out there… outside of consciousness

Response: the objection refers to the stark, discrete, central form of consciousness. There is also the less defined, the felt, and the hard where the idea of distinction between subject and object breaks down - where subject and object are in fusion… where the world is in the essential nature of consciousness to the point that the statement is not necessary, and reveals doubts of being and alienation fostered by analysis and power - which, good or bad, is the case. What has been called consciousness is the discrete, vivid very self-conscious form cultivated in a culture in isolation from the conditions of its existence. What the objection labels “the world out there” is the diffuse, dim… the outpost of the stark. The external world is also an “idea” or concept that needs, in the process of reconceptualization, be relabeled “hypothesis” rather than “fact” or “established.” the external world is the range of forms called matter, nature, society, and universe. We have discovered the world “it is us.” the label “external world” is the label for the outpost and the boundary of consciousness that is also imbued by the material paradigm with the character of the central and the stark element of consciousness

Further reformulation of objection 1. In the twentieth century the reign of science overtly by its overwhelming success and covertly by its power and dazzling of the collective conscious, the democracy of numbers, and the subjection of all institutions including that of learning to economic criteria resulted in a minimization of philosophy. Philosophy, in the eyes of many, assumes a lesser, auxiliary role. We contemplate the end of philosophy

Response: the situation described in the objection is a symptom of capitulation in the face of the forces listed; it is a collective loss of faith in reality fostered by alienation, by the same forces, from the world and the real being of humankind. At the same time as the forces described operate there is also a certain disenchantment with the professionalization of the disciplines and the practical arts… a disenchantment based in realism over method and also in the aging of a certain energy and internal contradictions of the socialization of what was once magic

The dazzle of the science and technology of the twentieth century, in the context of this response, is like the fascination with the “siddhis” in the practice of yoga. The siddhis are supernatural powers experienced on the way to yoga. As such they are “dangerous” in that they detract from the final goal of union with the real which may be translated into knowledge of the real in the present context

Note that to say that science as practiced by a Newton or a Heisenberg is magic is not a criticism of the subject matter or the uses but points to the singular aspects of the disciplines and the main actors. The institution of science substitutes instances of success for the real, ideas for being, method for action, and social progress for natural evolution

Exploration of being - see Being and the Absolute - goes beyond the limitations apparently imposed by the dominant paradigms of second half of the twentieth century

Further objections, criticisms and debate:

4. Idealism as Tautological

But idealism, even with reconceptualization, universalization and gradation of the idea says nothing - it is almost tautological - the concept of the idea is merely redefined to include matter. Materialism at least shows something - that, for example, ideas are manifestations or aspects of matter

Response: Materialism - scientific or other- does not show that ideas “reduce” to matter although that demonstration may be part of a materialist program. I have discussed the issues of idealism and materialism at length elsewhere. The simplest refutation of strict materialism is that it does not and cannot explain experience. The form of idealism considered here is not an exclusive idealism; it does not exclude matter; it does not claim that matter is an illusion or a fiction; it does not require or force a choice. It asserts that matter is a form of idea

Idealism is most definitely saying something. One thing it is saying is that a materialist system - based, for example, in physics and biology - will not and cannot explain experience i.e., it will not explain the subjective aspect of awareness and consciousness. The system of idealism that I am considering shows why such materialist explanations cannot be given but it may also show that the explanatory gap, though it is infinite in one sense, is transparent and easily bridged in another. As more and more is known about matter - physics and biology - more and more mental phenomena will be explained and understood and consciousness - the fact but not the subjectivity of it - may well be explained. That will be impressive and scientifically significant with further implications and consequences in general and for physics and biology in particular… but the materialist mode of description will not and need not explain the subjective side of consciousness7: the explanation will be in an “as if” mode

The gap between the “as if” and the subjective modes of awareness or consciousness - sometimes called the third and first person modes - may be paper thin. I expect, however, that this will require reworking and broadening of the concept of consciousness and the idea so that in the subjective limit the concepts will reduce to the normal stark and very present form of consciousness that we know well… and in the objective limit the concepts will reduce to matter

In this view, then, the scientific explanation of consciousness itself - the subjective part… “the hard problem” may well be a non-problem - an artifact of our cultural paradigms and institutions

Thus idealism is not without content

The idea is not redefined - rather it is re-conceptualized

Materialist explanation does indeed have power but this is neither a refutation of idealism nor a proof of materialism

Idealism does not refute the existence of material being. There should not be any need or desire to do this from an idealist perspective. Idealism gives meaning to matter

Idealism conflates subject and object but also gives special meaning to the object

Materialism denies the subject as a category but may seek to explain it as an aspect of matter

There is a framework within which, practically, there is no reason to choose between idealism and materialism because in a specific practical sense there are no consequences to that choice. Even though idealism is simpler, more inclusive and more direct it is only when broader frameworks are considered that the choice is significant

5. Consciousness as Biological

The obsolete dualistic Cartesian categories of mind and matter should be discarded and consciousness should be recognized as a material or biological phenomenon

Response: At issue here are [1] the more basic divide between subject and object, between internal and external. These practical dualisms are the foundation of the metaphysical Cartesian dualism. Treating consciousness as a biological phenomenon elevates the practical divide to a metaphysics or ontology. The present idealism bridges the divide and implies no change for the use and utility of material explanation which goes through in the “as if” mode. [2] In the immediate realm the introduction of idealism as described here introduces conceptual consistency but no practical advantage, [3] In the global or long term the idealism provides the consistency described above, maintains the practicality of biological and material explanation in their known domains of validity, shows a way to completed understanding and integration of the disparate and incomplete of our modern cosmologies

6. An Idealist Metaphysics cannot be established

Response: It should not be in the nature of idealism to be scientific or provable empirically. The claims of idealism are not empirical - not verified by looking at the world. Rather the claims are about the place of “looking.” Idealism is therefore not to be proven inductively. Nor is the assertion of idealism - that the character of the world is that of the idea - analytic

Idealism is not a fact in a universe of facts

Idealism addresses the nature of the world. It is about the whole of being and the distinctions within being. It addresses a distinction of convenience: world and being, the object and the idea

The idea behind idealism is the integral nature of world and experience

It is a statement regarding the whole of being and therefore neither empirical nor rational

A statement or view regarding the whole of being is not empirical in the sense of being known through experience nor would one expect to prove an assertion of this type for proof is relative - to primitives and so on. Rather, such an assertion would be one of integration, recognition, economy

It is a-hypothetical. It is the nature of the world that follows from making no assertion

When that is spoken it is idealism

However, idealism is not without content. We walk in the world and live in it without projection without assertion and therefore without distortion. It is the final economy. Materialism, pragmatism… say something about the world… And, valuable though this may from various points of view to say something is to distort. The silence of idealism is positive. It is the ultimate mental discipline… to leave the world as it is

But in a world where there are many voices it is necessary for that which needs no voice to be spoken

Idealism is not without content as noted, also, in the foregoing discussion. Further its intrinsic content is the self-recognition of being. It is very close to being saying “I Am” and saying no more. It provides context, clarity, simplicity but not reduction. To what will we reduce the whole of being?

A minor objection relates to the issue of simplicity. The content of the objection appears to be about the unfamiliarity of the content. However, it is simple in relation to the degree of assumption or hypothesis being made, the number of categories required or even categoriality itself, the closeness to experience and the synthesis of the content of experience with the content of the material mode of description. Although idealism is made to stand in opposition to materialism and sometimes to empiricism it is not so

7. The Separateness of Experience

My experiences are mine and are separate from the experiences of others

A related distinction: death and birth are absolute

Response: the response will be aphoristic… and by pointing to exception

The atomic elements are elemental and transmutation is impossible

The world does not disappear at night

Sight is sight and sound is sound. This is violated by synesthesia

Shared delusions





The social taboo against bonding

The cult of individuality

An experiment… Connect or graft the eyes of one organism to that of another of the same species

A question: In enculturation, culture conditions what is perceived. A perception is made. Whose perception is it?

8. But consciousness is localized

This objection has been addressed in the discussions above. I revisit it because I want to point to an old analogy

Response: We notice the air [usually] only in its perturbations - the breeze, our breath… but not in its pervasion of the atmosphere

It is certain forms of consciousness that are localized

This analogy to the form of matter… Matter is localized in particles. But particles are not points. And the fields of interaction among “particles” also partake of the form of matter. Some of the confusion in modern quantum mechanics - though certainly not all - is due to applying old distinctions and models

9. The Reconceptualization of Consciousness

… is Another Name for Matter Could it be that in “re-conceptualizing consciousness” I am merely renaming matter?

Response: Perhaps the motivation for this objection is the trap of the old terminology and viewpoints

In the re-conceptualization the realm of consciousness expanded. Perhaps awareness or some other perception-relation word would be better with consciousness, as discussed above, as a special case

Note that relation is another word that refers to something grounded but is made tepid by projection of alienation-detachment and anti-grounding onto the world by the politics of power and symbols

Matter remains a special case. It is materialism, not matter, that is rejected… and not because it is “inferior” but because it is more hypothetical and is contained by idealism

The Issue of Materialism in the Form of Atomism

If I say “everything, each particle, is awareness” that immediately raises the question “What is a particle?” This is considered in the essay Being and the Absolute

Idealism vs. Neutral Monism

A motive to idealism is in the following dual: 1. The inadequacies of materialism in explaining experience, and 2. Revision of the concept of the idea. One may argue, however, that materialism will grow to include experience - in primal form and that the revision of the concept of the idea is too far from the natural meaning of the idea. It may be replied that the generic concept of materialism excludes experience and that the revision of the concept of the idea is faithful to its grounding in experience, in the mental and is also sufficiently broad to provide foundation for a metaphysics. And so, the debate, the dialog, the conversation may continue

An alternative that cuts through the dialog, permits founding in the given categories, is non-dogmatic, allows for discovery, includes the fullness and mystery of being and the imperatives of materialism is a suitably interpreted neutral monism. One approach to this is the theory of being of the third circle

2.5         Exploration of the world

Exploration as Ongoing Discovery of the Variety and Extent of the World

The world is one… but exploration is compound8, involving the world itself - the real, ideas or the ideal, and words as symbols - of significance and convenience - for ideas and, in a community, for communication. This includes definition, specification, delineation or mapping of variety. Among other things ideas - and concepts - correspond to patterns, unities whether transitory or otherwise

Exploration is a process with relations and interactions among real, idea, word. Ideas, including ideas of nature, change rapidly relative to the slower changes of the natural realm. This is a partial [and provisional] characterization of the natural realm. In contrast, in the socio-cultural realm, ideas and objects may change at comparable rates and have dynamic interactions

This, too, involves conceptualization: world divided into real/idea… as constituted of something like an ideal-conceptual/perceptual-mental realm, a social or socio-cultural realm - the community of individuals and a natural realm… that words refer directly to ideas and indirectly to elements of the world. I can come back and review and modify. However, I am using the distinctions for convenience rather than as categories

I particularly do not want to imply any categorical distinction between real and idea. An aspect of idealism and the dynamics of the real is that of a strong interaction - if not identity - between real and idea

The present application of these considerations is to consciousness though the origins as far as my own thought is concerned are in reflection and, of course, the tradition. The example of consciousness forces us into a larger or whole realm - structured, of course - and the analysis then, it turns out, has implications for the foregoing conceptualizations

Exploration and Science

Introduction: This is a broad topic and I have written on it many times. It would keep coming up in many ways. “Science” is used in many ways and to many purposes… some so far from any ideal or unitary meaning that it becomes clear that it is an umbrella term without, in its manifold use, any specific designation. I should first specify what I mean by science. This is many faceted and could be approached in many ways: the idea, the disciplines, the culture, the myth - science as it is perceived outside the culture, the institution, the ideal and the operational. The idea could be very simple: knowledge that through repeated criticism and test has become established in our culture as secure… and so on. I want to emphasize, however, that the other ways to look at and understand science are significant. These various ways or modes are not, in essence, in opposition but are complementary. Within the modes there may be opposition such as verification vs. selectionism or science as an independent institution vs. science as a transactional institution. The institution of science includes the ways in which science is built into the fabric of society. I may say that science is multifaceted, and transactional rather than unitary and concrete… and despite this it has a unitary character. But my purpose here is to avoid repetition of the issue of exploration and science over and over. So I ask what is it about the idea of science that I find limited? It is the idea of knowledge that, though it interacts with action, is separate from human action. As such there are two criticisms. The first is the lack of real action and therefore the lack of groundedness. But at the same time there is another criticism that is the over caution of science that detracts from its contact with the real… These criticisms also apply to the idea of knowledge that is separate from action. For the separation from action leads to empty action if not apathy of action

The issue of respecting science arises. Science is important in the world today as a primary approach to knowledge and as a fundamental source of basic and applied knowledge, provides significant understanding of our world and universe; science is a world-wide institution and as such is very well funded and has numerous practitioners. In some senses there are too many practitioners… the sheer numbers, while a source of a wide variety of information, also result in a dilution of the significance and standards. My position is this: I believe that use and practice of the ideas and principles of science is true respect; that respect of science is consistent with work in which the tenets of science such as materialism, the atomic hypothesis to name two are suspended and alternatives explored as long as this is stated and the two modes are not confused; that proper questioning is as agreement and sometimes more so. The idea of authority has various meanings but, given limited or bounded rationality “rigid acceptance without question” is not one of them; and for the same reason arbitrary and ad hoc rejection of received ideas is not true openness

Knowledge and science may be contrasted with belief. There is an underlying assumption of a separation from the world in which we can have a science, a knowledge of it. However, there is not an infinity of time in which to leisurely seek objective, secure and timeless knowledge. Practically there are separations between knowledge and action. The idea of knowledge as separate from the loop of action is without final foundation. It is the projection of a phase of culture. What is that knowledge that is the part of [human] thought while engaged in action, in the world? Do I have to wait till knowledge is completed before action? Yet this is part of an implicit model of knowledge and science, cultivated in part due to its power in many places and academies. It includes a denial. It is though the hearth of action without final knowledge is a fake. That is not the case. Action is the essence of being. That temporal form of knowledge called belief is not mere belief… it lies halfway between the ideal of final knowledge and the faith of devotion… it is rejected by both extremes in their escapes from the world… but it real - it is our engagement with the world straddling the polarized quests for certainty -- and therefore may be called the ethical action principle of belief

Exploration and Science: Exploration is the fundamental action of being in search of Being… i.e. in search of the whole in the areas of extent in process, modes, and monads. The modes include the elements of the “chain of being” but also subject-object and interior-exterior. Thus for exploration and being: embedding in the real is also freedom. This follows, as discussed in the present circle of essays, from the nature of genesis. Exploration sees being as an integral question and answer… but question and answer that are not separated and are part of being in its depths rather than merely symbolic. Exploration includes science and the idea of ideas separate from action. Again, by the nature of genesis and growth of the world groundedness requires real action and separation. The world contains separation and distinction and variety: these are the richness of the world. Exploration seeks to experience the whole in itself, the richness in itself and the relations among and between these. Exploration is contact with the real

On Common Experience

The question arises as to the relations between esoteric/academic disciplines such as the fields of science, academic philosophy, revealed religion… and common experience

What do I mean by common experience? Is it not related to the esoterica… are the esoterica not extensions of common experience. Is it what remains if the esoteric disciplines are lost? Is it related to our evolutionary situation… these are some considerations

What is not accessible to common experience is not basic truth

On Words and Meanings 9

I think of a word and have numerous associations… other words, ideas, things, relationships… I enter the realm of meaning

Some points of view argue that meaning is determined by use10. Here I argue that this is a valid idea but that “use” is not a simple concept… and that this valid idea is nested in a larger view that is a dialog between “use” and understanding placed in a context of the world and its processes. A reason is that the world is in a process - in a number and variety of processes. If, in the beginning, there was nothing then at which point is “use” determined? When were words coined? What was the occasion and intention at the coinage? Did the originator - I do not mean to imply that origination was a discrete occasion or the work of a singular individual - have an intent? Can an individual experience the meaning of words? There is a dialog between use based in the world and meaning seated in the mind without either actually dominating the other

Ideas and words have an ordinary, day-to-day, practical realm [within the real, or otherwise] and so have an ordinary, day-to-day, practical meaning. Of course, the idea of an ordinary, day-to-day, practical realm is not definite… for it varies among individuals, communities, cultures and societies and over time… even the significance of the ordinary vary and change… and these changes are clearly “nonlinear” in that there are interactions among the elements and factors of change and so changes of meaning may be sudden, discontinuous and even show inversion at times

If we think of words and concepts as relations to the real then, as adaptations, they have no immediate need to be precise or exact and nor is there an immediate meaning for precision or exactness to be derived from adaptation. Exactness is revealed as a projection from the stark aspects of experience rather than as a universal experience or desiderata. From this, perhaps initial, perspective the relations need only to be “sufficiently” good. In cases of bounty idea-concepts from all realms - natural, social, ideal, universal - can be pure fiction. Clearly, there is a pragmatic factor at play but that does not imply - or deny - any pragmatism. Concepts of truth are not ruled out; they may derive from some refinement or higher order adaptation; and they may derive from an individual or a culture facing the questions of choice in making their language in to an instrument fashioned according to select imperatives. At the same time, these freedoms may also be subject to forces of the real

I may think of adaptation as a name for mutual conditioning of the elements in the processes of the world

These and the following issues speak to the difficulties of any naïve philosophy of ordinary experience, or any naïve ordinary language philosophy, or naïve pragmatism. For the total system of uses of words and language involve origins before antiquity and the multivalencies and interactions of uses that vary from necessity to freedom… this includes the thought that in the origin and mint of language use and coinage of words are inspired in one function or one individual - a shaman or a priestess - but in a complex society somewhat removed from the original forge of its language, in which the institution of language is “established” the “functions” of use, meaning and analysis have differentiation among the public-at-large, the practitioners, and the specialists… but this differentiation is not at all split according to the class - nor need it be. Although establishment is in the past, there is an ongoing origination in a relation between “natural” language and “constructed” or artificial language with incomplete separation among use/meaning, public/specialist, and natural/artificial. It may be the mystique or the hubris of the specialist that permits a clean separation in imagination, perhaps only outside of consciousness, that results in the idea of construction as artificial. The difficulties, then, of the idea of an ordinary language philosophy, or a pragmatism, or any kind of ontological or epistemic utilitarianism is more that the distinctions they imply are temporary and partial, not absolute, rather than incorrect and they become artificial only when turned into an ontology, an epistemology, or a theory of semantics

Going Beyond Ordinary Meaning… Fiction and Reality

The above shows that going beyond the ordinary is somewhat artificial for it is ordinary to go beyond the ordinary. There is a significant realm of meaning defined by use but this remains in relation to other institutions of meaning11 and in transition in mutuality with the world and relations to the world. This historical mutuality means that individuals, groups, “public-at-large,” societies and cultures, civilizations are agents of ideas, words, meanings and their changes12… but that these elements and their changes are subject to the forces of the world, of the real

In saying this it is, of course, a mistake to view the agents and bearers of cultural change to be outside the real. This error at once substitutes a barren and stern epistemic stranglehold on what are the exuberance and variety of truth and the real

At other times I may use “truth” with hallowed tones. Sometimes the “barren and stern stranglehold” becomes, in the hands of a magician, an ice-mountain of pristine beauty. That, too, is proper

What ways and motives are there in establishment and change in words, meanings and concepts? The drive to relate idea-word-meaning-concept to the world comes under the umbrella labeled truth. This sounds like the correspondence theory but when we remember that the system is also in the world it also implies coherence. I might as well drop these two C-words… There are motives to “improve” the day-to-day and the common [shared by the public and the “keepers” of meaning]… there is the motive to go beyond - the motive to adventure - in realms of mind and nature: humankind stepping ahead, metaphorically, of the known dimensions and territories of real… the motivations to love… the motive to survival, of keeping up, metaphorically, with the real and its varieties and changes

Old Meanings and New

There is, of course, value to established words, ideas, concepts and meanings. Old word associations, however, are also found to be blocks… especially as the ideal elements [words, concepts, meanings… ] are successful and form circles, systems or conglomerates - tightly woven or otherwise: we are ever a mix of old and new and subject to old associations even as we attempt to overcome them in the enterprise or phase of transition. This points to a value in new words and other ideal elements

On the Real

Clearly, words partake of a nominal and a real character. These are not exclusive. The nominal aspect is obvious… The primary ultimate limitation on the real character of ideal elements is the existence of the real

On simplicity

The ideal elements - ideas, concepts, meanings, words… - are layered, compound and complex. Simplicity and minimality consistent with reality is a value, has elegance and is conducive of incisive understanding. What is elegance and realism in one realm of use may be error and confusion in another

However, this is not an apology for relativism. In going from the ordinary to the universal it may be necessary to discard the comfort of familiar ideas. But, since the realms are interwoven, the enterprise is of value even in the realm of the ordinary



The development is not yet fully explicit for individual beings, being as a whole, and being-over-time. This and various other details need to be filled in

A fundamental difference between the present exploration and many others is as follows. Here, the fundamental category of being is openly acknowledged as partaking in the unknown and therefore its determination is also part of the discussion or problem. This is in contrast to an explicit monism such as materialism or a dualism where the fundamental category [or categories] is specified at the beginning of the analysis and the fundamental problem is to demonstrate the fundamental character of the fundamental category. Thus the problem of the nature of being is part of the “science of being” and may turn out to reveal a monism or a pluralism. But in its necessary neutrality, this science goes beyond being non-specific with regard to number of fundamental categories or substances. It does not specify whether there are or are not fundamental categories at all - it is neither categorial nor non-categorial. It will not be specific with regard to subject-object or inner-outer issues. But this is not the place to specify what ontological issues touch the question of being. These are also part of the question - to be discovered in the search for being and the nature of being. Further, although I am emphasizing the mode of question here I should not rule out the mode of answer. In my attempt to be neutral I should not avoid pretend that the universe is something to be viewed from an armchair on a placid Sunday afternoon. Truth and reality may themselves be demanding a commitment. In the beginning, however, so as to enhance acuity and accuracy of vision I may allow myself the luxury of neutrality - with one exception: I am committed to the exploration13… the exploration, the mode of question and answer… these are all elements of being. Thus the science of being is regarded as an implicit and neutral ontology. I emphasized the openness of the acknowledgement in the present case because the fact of incompleteness is always present and may be acknowledged in various ways and at various levels

3.1         The idea of being

The idea of being starts with that which is most fundamental, most full, and most complete. Other considerations are what is most grounded, most centered in our living. This is especially in relation to the intricacies of analysis and what sometimes appears to be the straining of idealism and consciousness as fundamental and what looms as the emptiness of materialism. In development of the idea of being there will be occasion to reflect on and perhaps to modify it

Criteria to decide “what is being?”

Is it observed or “seen”… and is therefore directly known rather than by inference alone

Extent or pervasiveness… to what extent does it pervade, underlie or constitute the existent and the real - in terms of spatial and temporal extension or spatio-temporal extension [one could say being-process] and modality

Quality or variety, richness, self-sufficiency, self awareness, completeness

Criteria to guide selection candidates for consideration

The criteria to decide “what is being?”

Common14 observation and experience, the elements of culture such as science, myth and religion


It is barely necessary to list the following sources - they are so obvious and general

Experience and reason 15

The tradition… includes the literature. It is important for me to remember that the tradition is not one dimensional - even the “Western Tradition” is pluralistic. The histories of the traditions are important in that they add to understanding and in that they provide “trajectories16.”

Four Candidate Concepts

I choose to consider matter, idea, human being - or, rather, the sentient form of being in which human being participates, and God as creator and supreme power

I could include consideration of a pantheistic idea of God - in some senses the opposite of God as creator and supreme power. However, that is so general that it would not be much of a hypothesis… and is consistent with just about everything. In any case my final conclusions seem to be rather pantheistic as must be any monism17 that equates God with ultimate power


Matter: Matter appears to be most pervasive18 and, in the material paradigm, it underlies all creation. Both of these characterizations are inferential and have a hypothetical character. Matter is, therefore, at least initially ruled out

Idea: There are alternative cosmologies in which the idea plays the role that matter has in the material paradigm. The objections to idea as being are the same as the objections to matter

God: God as creator and supreme power - the qualities are inferences and not observed. God - or the idea of God - is supreme with regard to extent and quality but is ruled out because it is not seen. It is the superlative characterization of that makes “God” unsuitable as the fundamental form of being. We want being to be more elemental… this gives more power, more capability for explanation, understanding, prediction, placement19 to being which is, after all, the most fundamental.

The [sentient] form of Being in which human being participates: Despite metaphysics, human being - and this includes animal being with and without “language” - is the form of being that most clearly exists. It exists by observation so direct that one may question whether it observed to exist or whether its being specifies, defines, models, prototypes, or generates existence and the conditions of existence. Also as a matter of direct observation the quality of this form equals or exceeds that of both matter and idea - since matter and idea are part of the form. Since the form includes idea, matter… indeed the elements of any metaphysics or cosmology… it pervades all being and time. This form satisfies the criteria whereas the other candidates do not

An objection to the use of human being or the [sentient] form in which human being participates is the specific nature of human being and its isolation to a small corner of the known physical universe. A response to this objection is as follows. Reference to human, animal or sentient being is not meant in an exclusive sense. Exclusive thinking dominates our common view of ourselves. Human being in human society appears, to human beings, to be a very specialized development. It is probably intrinsic to biology to be perceptually sensitive to differences among individuals, species, living and non-living forms of matter. Additionally, the sense of separateness is enhanced by language, culture and science. I do not wish to argue against this perception - as perception or as fact. However exclusivity that originates in a focus on differences does not exclude from our understanding the common ground that may be normally taken as the invisible background. This background is the common ground in which all being participates. Seen in this sense human being is not at all specialized: it participates in the common ground and it has its own special character. Thus human being can be seen as being less the common ground or as the special character of human being joined to the common ground. The former is the usual or normal biologically and culturally based view. The latter is the very real view adopted here; however the need for a study of being arises from the limitations of the normal20 biological and cultural perception


Practically and since we know it most directly we may take human being as the initial form of being. This is not meant to imply superiority of humans to other animals or to make any comparison at all in the present concern. Nor is it to say that humans as individuals or as species are - or are not - infinite. Nor does this conclusion rule out the alternate candidates - matter, idea, God - as further analysis may show them to be identical to being. Indeed, in Consciousness, Mind and the World, it is shown - after suitable generalization of consciousness as a concept that consciousness is the world. The approach to the world through consciousness or the idea emphasizes concepts in its formulation… and experience - and observation and experiment - in its development. In the approach through being the roles of concept and experience are interchanged

What lies ahead?

The final objective is a determination of the character of being… at least of significant motion in that direction. We may ask, what is the nature of human being and being in which human being participates. An objective is to remove the confusions that may surround the question due to the ongoing cultural burden21 that includes religion and philosophy… to make clear and direct statements… without removing the mystery of being

First, of course, I need to work through my own questions of being

A first step toward these goals is to lay out a framework

3.2         Levels of being

The levels show increasing vitality, awareness, reflexivity in awareness, and completeness… each level includes the previous:

The form of matter [consciousness or sentience appears to be absent]


Being as aware

Being that is self-aware… that asks “what am I?”, “what is being?”… Heidegger’s ideas - but, also, obvious and clearly implied by others including Socrates. Being that explores - in terms of ideas, experience and transformation22 - the modes and levels of being… 23

Being that is transparent to itself… that transcends or is beyond birth and death

Being that is complete within itself

Being that knows and is all

The hypothesis of being… and the principle of ontological psychology

The hypothesis of being is that the individual may know and become Absolute Being. There exist very material senses in which this is true. See Consciousness, Mind and the World for additional considerations. The possibility is no guarantee and the realization in any lifetime - to the degree that it is possible - must require trial and effort. The principle of ontological psychology is that the attempt at realization - to the degree that it is possible - is a form of ultimate meaning

3.3         What are the transformations and dynamics of being?

What is the Dynamics of Being?

Dynamics involves the idea of cause, or the interactions that are essential in change. The dynamics of being is the involvement or character of involvement of being in its own change. The keys are knowledge, choice based in knowledge and action stemming from choice

Criteria and selection for the elements and the dynamics

Criteria: From the foregoing considerations the elements should satisfy at least the following. 1. Derive from experience with being human… and with the sub-form of matter. They should therefore reflect the fundamental ontological character of animal and human being. Demonstrate from origins in “no-thing” the phenomenology of the world and mind… including the origin or primality of awareness and the phenomenology of world and mind including the apparent dualisms of subject-object, mind-mater, process-being or action-being. 2. Be sufficient to provide and generate both process and path of discovery human being in search of itself - and of Being… be sufficient to requirements for discovery and exploration in the levels of being

Selection: I have experimented with various elements. I started with being and process. I may even have started with matter and process but matter is clearly too restrictive. Relationship seemed to be necessary in terms of the interactions among being and among process and between being and process. In a sense being includes process but it is convenient to start without this as an explicit position… and to allow a reinterpretation as being-process. Humans are in process but not merely in process - we make choices and act. I know this is a loaded assertion and there are times when I may think as I might on a Sunday afternoon picnic [non-aggressive thinking] but what if I24 have a destiny? I also want to sometimes think as though there is a raging river to be crossed without the luxury of an eternity for the crossing. As though I am at the edge of reality… So I incorporated action which includes process. Similarly, meaning includes and is in a way generic for relationship. In a number of ways relationship is included in being but its explicit inclusion in the elements enables the presentation of an explicit dynamics. I regarded - and regard - knowledge as an important but it can be seen as part of being or alternately as a form of relationship

The elements of the dynamics are:

B… Being

M… Meaning… including relationship

A… Action… change… or process - the process of change

Some basic modes:

Being… Natural, Social, Universal… and Mind or Spirit or Consciousness or Awareness or Psyche

Action… Indeterministic – Being in transition, Evolution, Choice, Design, Quantum Phenomena… I am developing a notion of the exploration which would be a most fundamental form of action including creation, discovery, experiments in being, geographical discovery and migration… and

Deterministic - all of the foregoing non-deterministic processes have deterministic phases we could call those phases “Being stays at home”, the stable phase in the rise and fall… Classical Phenomena

Real Action: It is important to note that for action to be creative it is necessary for there to be interaction between indeterminate and determinate phases. For example indeterminism has been criticized as the basis of ethical choice since it is “completely random.” But when indeterminism acts upon a structured base choice is possible in ethics that while not completely rational is not completely a-rational… and creation is possible in evolution, knowledge and discovery that also include elements of intuition and inspiration and of rationality. It is interesting that evolution by variation by selection and quantum mechanics provide models at different levels and in different ways of determinate-indeterminate process that make for the growth of structure. Variation and selection - the distinction, when one recognizes the underlying dynamics, may be approximations of description - may be a trial prototype for action. Thus these disciplines may provide some elements of a “foundation” of mind and creativity… and of concept and elaboration of action. However, as noted in Consciousness, Mind and the World I prefer to have foundation in the common25… and believe that such foundation of the fundamental truths are possible and desirable as more robust and more accessible

Primary action or exploration is the relation b « B or individual being in search of - or in relation with - Being. This defines exploration. All sub-actions [and sub-objectives… and this may be seen as a dual problem] are found in exploration

Relation… Or Meaning… Knowledge26, Communication, Force… Relate to Heidegger’s idea of care

Logic of Meaning

Life codes the conditions of its ongoing existence. Humankind further codes and creates through symbols and language in culture. These codings or ability to code, are evolutionary adaptations. This is true even in alienation and “deconstruction.” This is placement in the elements of universal process which, as matter of course, contains “stabs” of creation and results that are occasionally more than transient. Yet these are the processes of the Absolute. Meaning, even with its stable-unstable character, is placement in the Absolute, participation in the Real

The dynamics is

Being is in relationship… individual beings relate to one another

Relationship - meaning - generates action

Action results in, is, or equates to change in being

Analogical sources for the dynamics

In physical science: I mean such theories as Newtonian Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics and the Dynamics of Matter and Gravitation as formulated in the General Theory of Relativity

In biology and philosophy: the dynamics of evolution - variation and selection; in metaphysics or ontology - the balance between indeterminism and determinism in the generation of structure

I am not thinking of immediately applying these dynamics to the present case. Rather, they have a certain precision and a certain developed form expressed in the process language of calculus that may be a good metaphor for clarity and accuracy in the dynamics of being

There is a need to be careful that the clarity of the analytical and physical theories should not lead to erroneous analogical thinking

The use of dynamics

One must first know structure. Physical description is too basic and incomplete despite its possible metaphorical use. Consciousness as conceived in Consciousness, Mind and the World is a beginning. From Consciousness and from observation of nature: being is constituted of beings… and the aggregate of such beings constitute Being

Using the analogies - examples

The following are intended as examples and as analogical… systematic, comprehensive and derived treatment - as far as it is a good thing - is being developed in ongoing explorations. The conclusions also follow from common experience

1. Relativity and Gravitation. In phases of existence, the universe is constituted of local beings [b] that explore, learn, remember, correct, transform and grow. Relationship, communication and dialog are prior to rigid coordination or knowledge… and the “sum” of [b] in relation and process [meaning, action] is Being B

2. Quantum Theory. Superposed on the determinate phase above: [1] In a universal sense F = B. [2] There is a basis for local growth, evolution of [b]. [3] Accepting quantum realism as fundamental, i.e. quantum dynamics Þ geometry Þ gravitation; additionally, hypothesizing unification of the known forces [gravitation, electro-weak and strong]: there is one force, the force of some grand unified theory whose geometrodynamics includes all physical being. Translate this metaphorically: B, the one principle, is universally and locally creative… creation requires asymmetry and this Þ decay, destruction; a perfectly symmetric universe would last forever but would have lasted forever - it would not evolve and could not have come into being; since the conditions of existence includes “laws” these must also include asymmetry; less asymmetry Þ slower creation and evolution but richer and longer lasting [more stable] existence Þ near symmetry in a universe that is rich in structure

3. Neurology. Memory and processing are in the same place / are dynamically interactive - at the neuro-physiological level and functionally: processing includes laying down of memory; memory conditions and gives context and so on to processing. This is a case of B = B-M-A. More generally this implies the integration of organism, of organisms [society] and organism. Metaphorically: this reminds us of the physical integration of the elements through the conditions of genesis and, generally, of the integration of [b], M, A to constitute B

4. Evolutionary biology. In life the “function” of relationship becomes specialized as the functions of coding [genetics] and function [soma, body.] In mind the conditions of evolution become internalized: mind - or an aspect of mind - is adaptability - being adapted to adapt

5. Philosophy. Despite the various differentiations - internal/external, subject/object, mode and monad/whole, B = B-M-A… before all else comes presence or being in Being

The following is an expression of what has been said on derivation from common experience

The essential truths are few simple

The path may be difficult, detailed, rich… and recreated again and again at many places and throughout history

The truths are accessible to and best known from common experience

… with trial and persistence… and support from specialized disciplines or study. This naturally brings into question the nature of these disciplines and whether they are not common after all and if so how to render them as such

This raises the question of the nature of special intuition e.g. the intuition of an Einstein in theoretical physics or a Ramanujan in number theory. The etiology of such intuition is a complex issue - the questions of nature, nurture including self-nurture, circumstance, cultivation, receptivity, memory and imagination… However, to raise the question of etiology and to suggest its importance and utility, or to suggest the centrality of common experience is not to deny the singularity or brilliance of special intuition, ability and accomplishment. Further, the existence of special intuition, rather than casting a shadow on common experience, shows or exemplifies the intimate connection of human being with Being

These truths… and the present principles follow from the nature of being, of who we are

The most important relation is with all being

This does not deny the particulars… each day, disappointments, sunsets, ambitions, jobs, family, mountains… which, after all, are among the elements that constitute ‘ultimate being.’

3.4         Being through time… And absolute being - beyond time


The Instant27… the shortest duration of significance to the being

The Life Span… from birth to death… or from creation to destruction or decay

Beyond Birth and Death

Being beyond time… the Absolute28

This refers to being as Being for which eternity is an instant


B = time [t] and being [B’]… are never not but become manifest in transformation from the virtual to the actual. B = F 29F..corresponds metaphorically to “A time before or after time”… which means literally “a time when time has no significance.” Time can have “no significance” in the following way: consider two levels of “phenomena” in which level 2 [e.g. a gross level] is constituted of the elements at level 1 [a fine level]; then, dynamics and change at level 1 can correspond in equilibrium, stasis, absence of dynamical phenomena, no measurable, phenomenal or observable time at level 2. The familiar example, from physics, is the case of macroscopic thermodynamic phenomena as level 2 and molecular phenomena as level 1. In this example, the lack of a phenomenal time at level 2 does not correspond to absence of time at all but to the absence of temporal phenomena at that level. However, referring back to the fundamental case of time [t] and being [B’], level 2 corresponds to the actual universe and level 1 to virtual or potential existence. The foundation of the basis of an actual world with structure and under ongoing evolution in a virtual or potential world is developed in detail in my writing; see, for example, the elements of the dynamics and using the analogies for the dynamics [both in AREA 3]. In this case there is no actual or manifest time. Individuation from B results in actual time [t], in being B’ and beings, b

Each monad or real point has its own time which, through the conditions of origination, remains in relation to the time or times of all being. Each mode of being has its own time scale that is a function of the universal time of all being

3.5         This absolute must be the one consciousness 30

… of Consciousness, Mind and the World

Indeterministic-deterministic dynamics imply that “nothing” is always in “virtual” or potential change that becomes actual by selection. In the limit No-thing is identical to the Absolute; and to the intermediate phases of the world. Being in its diversity is also integral over extent and process, over modes and monads31 and this integral being B is the Absolute


ANIL MITRA PHD, COPYRIGHT © 1999, REVISED May 13, 2004 9:09:44 AM


1. Visit the Banana Slug Home Page at…

2. Consider alternatives to behavior… except, note, I argue below that behavior is not non-mental

3. Words relating to the stark aspect: central, multiple, recollection, reference, comparison, symbol, language, social, cultural

4. The concept of a nervous system in this paragraph is simply what is recognized as nervous system in biology. Communication and coordination among cells in a multi-cellular organism may be [and is] accomplished by other means that in terms of discreteness and speed are more elementary. These other modes of communication - simple mechanical interaction among cells that respond to mechanical stimulus, endocrine and immune action… - also show elements of mind and, therefore potentially, of consciousness at least in any revised universal sense

5. The discussion here is open to the accusation “this is an absurd view called panpsychism”. Of course the accusation itself is open to the criticism of being based in an anthropomorphic -or zoomorphic - view of mind. The argument here is not that the universe is or is filled in every last crevice by consciousness as I experience it. This is analogous to the point that a scientific world view does not make any claim that the material nature of the world is constituted of matter as I know it through my direct experience. However there is an extension of the immediate percept of matter, based in conceptual and perceptual [empirical] extension that is the foundation of the material side of nature. Similarly, I am arguing for a conceptual-perceptual extension of the idea of mind and consciousness beyond the immediate perceptual apprehension as “qualia”. I am further arguing that such an extension does not so much pervade matter but is a more general and inclusive idea than the idea of matter and the inclusivity is such that matter appears as a special case. This argument is distributed through the present system of essays - the “three circles”

6. As instanced, for example, by Atomism and by the evolutionary paradigm - and theory - in biology

7. It will not because the materialist mode excludes experience as a fact although it may allow a language by means of which one may refer to experience. It need not since an efficient alternative described here is available

8. The scheme that follows implicitly includes process/action

9. Used here in the semantic rather than the existential sense. I may use the word in an existential sense - which may have analogies to the semantic meaning of meaning - and may then need to be careful. I do not want to get into the notion of literal meaning here. Clearly meaning is an element of language and thought; actual systems of language cannot be asserted to have final adequacy according to any criterion of significance; therefore the idea of literal is something of an illusion

10. “One cannot guess how a word functions. One has to look at its use and learn from that. But the difficulty is to remove the prejudice which stands in the way of doing this. It is not a stupid prejudice.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 340

11. Including art and the existential sense of meaning for witness the history of the use of esthetic criteria in mathematics and science - not only the classical period, but also in the Medieval Era, in India and Arabia, and in Modern Science - especially modern theoretical high energy and particle physics and cosmology

12. Dictionaries and associations for language and language/linguistic standards are conveniences

13. … and, of course, the possibility that the exploration may yield a nihilistic universe in which exploration is meaningless, or a lazy one… or one in which a commitment - perhaps one with sufficient detachment from ends - is truth and wonder

14. Note: Elevate the following from its status as a footnote. The idea is that the most fundamental of truths can be known from “common experience.” Although this is not a perfectly well defined idea here is an example - a reflection the popular “why is there something rather than nothing?” Here is a brief answer - that ignores the problematic meaning of nothing and nothingness as distinct from no-thing and no-thingness. If there were nothing, there would be nothing not even laws or determinism. Indeterminism in the case of nothing existing can only mean that something will come into existence… along with the conditions of its existence - laws, patterns. The existence would have to have some kind of stability… otherwise it would be a mere virtual or potential existence. There may have been phases of non-existence. The universe can only be observed in a state of existence… we are around to observe the present incarnation. There are related comments on indeterminism-determinism in section 5, below. Objection: But is not a real “State of Nothingness” necessarily and inexorably nothing without even the potential for something? This objection to something from nothing is absurd in that it violates the idea of nothing. Resolution idea: necessarily and inexorably is a law. Next question… why is it us who are around… who or what are we? It is your turn to answer a question. Yes, you, the reader. Participate! This line of thinking is seductively simple. The Zero = All = Zero… of indeterminism, also necessary on grounds of creation in the world - species, ideas - also implies a neutral monism “zero,” that being = becoming… the logic of “common experience” is more powerful than ironic reductions from modern science. [I came across the phrase “Ironic Science” in John Horgan’s pretty neat 1996 book the End of Science. I might add that this is an entertaining and well written book even though I am ambivalent about its hypothesis that science as we know it is winding down I was persuaded to pay attention to both the narrative and the argument. The accounts of interviews with the major intellectual figures have intrinsic interest apart from the thesis of the book itself.] The idea of derivation from common experience means looking to what is accessible to every reasonably completely developed human being as the basic data. The idea of “reasonably completely developed” is somewhat vague but that does not diminish the workability of the idea. I think the idea is an important one and can be developed into a philosophy of exploration and discovery. However, I definitely am not contending that concepts from science are not useful… or intrinsically devoid of common content. I am arguing that the more immediate the experience that is the basis of an argument, the more powerful is its appeal. For example, one could argue from evolutionary biology or from quantum mechanics to an emergentism. However it would be more powerful to argue the same conclusion from a few basic facts - for example, the power of organism to recreate seen every day in childbirth - observable on a day to day basis. These facts would not, of course be essentially distinct from evolutionary theory or quantum mechanics - it does not make sense to make too much of the distinctions… but such facts are not toward the esoteric ends of the disciplines. Corroboration by the disciplines would then be additional vindication. The process does not end at any predefined point. The broader the base, the more “real” the conclusions… Input from various cultures - modern and other - would not invalidate without reflection and sufficient incorporation but corroboration would also be a validation. Tradition would similarly be included - just as in the esoterica where the system is not recreated by each generation of practitioners. Criteria would also be generated by the same process and included dynamically. That is the systems and accepted criteria are subject to review… In this way the base of the real is made more secure. If, as now appears natural, the philosophy of common experience is related to the question of being then there is the dual question as to the nature of being and common experience. This can be generalized to a multiple question about the nature of philosophy, common experience, being, exploration, and criteria discussed here… and the question is “what are these”? The various criteria related to being can be generalized to the critical function in philosophy. There is no meaningful equation f [CE, B, EXP, PHIL, CRIT] = 0 to be solved. The process is one of iteration. The concepts of philosophy, common experience, being, exploration, and criteria as encountered are taken as the “starting” point

15. The experience vs. reason dualism is an epistemic dualism that mirrors the dualism of matter and mind. Is there not a place where experience merges into reason? Also note: by reason I mean the use of the agencies of the mind so long as they are not completely determinate; emotion is not at all excluded

16. This is not to imply that any trajectory is free of interpretation or that any trajectory can - or cannot - provide definite conclusions

17. This is not a claim that those conclusions include monism

18. Others, especially those in cultures with non Western cosmologies have other views

19. Placement in context, in the world… the antithesis of alienation

20. I emphasize “normal” in no particular sense except to suggest that it is neither necessary nor absolute… and that the inclusive view is not necessarily foreign to either biology or culture

21. This is always the task. Heidegger viewed metaphysics as an obstacle, introduced insights, clarifications for his time… and further “confusion.”

22. Or “becoming.”

23. Further elaboration: Being that lies in the continuum of question and answer… questions that are not only asked and explicitly with the intellect and answers that are not only given [with thought, reason, intellect… ] but are the fabric of its existence, grounded in its heart, sealed in its soul. Question and answer that are one and the same when on the beach silently gazing out at the deep blue… or amid the multiple currents and transactions of everyday life

24. I do not feel that I am different from others in this regard. I may of course have different ideas and make different choices

25. See Consciousness, Mind and the World for elaboration and specification of what I mean by common

26. Knowledge has an aspect as relationship… and another aspect as being

27. We do not perceive zero durations of time and therefore zero duration is not a good meaning of an instant. Nor do we know from physics that a zero duration is a meaningful quantity even though it is used as a concept just as points of space are also used. An instant is the shortest duration of time that a being can experience or perceive. This may not be the final concept but it is in the right direction. An instant for a human being may be a significant period for a bacterium. Thus there may be being for which infinity is an “instant.” This means that an infinity could be perceived or experienced at a glance, “at once.” This does not mean that finite instants could not be seen - perhaps Absolute Being or some relative could perceive zero duration

28. The thrill of the ultimate is a specific and real emotion. Thrill could be replaced by a neutral feeling. By giving it a specific name, I intend a use that is not derivative of something else. It is not awe or mystery although it is related to or includes these feelings. It does not carry the implications of the, perhaps modern senses of awe and mystery related as they are to humility; while humility is not excluded or negated, the feeling of the ultimate is not essentially one in which the individual is shading one’s eyes from some greater or superior presence. It is real in that it is not related only to the psychological side, it is not just a feeling… it is a feeling of. It is the feeling of placement within, of knowledge of the map of reality… of simplicity, assertion, clarity, perhaps aggression [oh no!] and real power

29. Nothing

30. Further notes on being and consciousness: [1] Being is the thing that I have been trying to strain consciousness - the idea - to be. The sense in which being is the thing includes the idea of question and answer of feeling, experimenting a way toward recognition of self and world… a way in which strict and steely inexorable logic may be a tool but not a religion. Question: is it straining… or am I just somewhat trapped in the old ways of thought. And if it is straining then is it straining of the concept or of the imagination… or both? Either way, even though being is or may be “the thing,” a new word may be needed owing to the baggage associated with “being.” Therefore the circles of Being and the Absolute, of Consciousness, Mind and the World, and of Consciousness and Nature need to be reworked with these thoughts in view. [2] The route to being through consciousness is still valuable: it shows some structural details and approaches to being; we learn about being and consciousness. [3] The scientific and common explanation of consciousness therefore remains of primary - but not unique - importance. This explanation may or may not be much affected by idealism according to whether our immediate human experience does or does not specify the final concept of consciousness. However, idealism does show that the scientific and common explanation will be in an “as if” mode and that the hard problem of consciousness is fallacious i.e. not a problem at all. This problem has its origin in a material paradigm and, as such, is artifactual in nature and therefore will have no resolution within this framework

31. … or atoms. Monads are not seen as existing in isolation but in relation. Monads in relation is a special case of distribution

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