The Way of Being
Anil Mitra, Copyright © October 5, 2020 – October 24, 2020
This work has four numbered divisions or chapters. This chapter is a gateway to the work. It supplements but is not part of the main development in the next two chapters, metaphysics and realization. The final chapter, into the world, is a view on living in the world from the perspective of the work.
The aims are of this gateway chapter are (i) to provide an informal introduction and overview, focusing on provision of a demonstrated and ultimate view of the universe and the individual, and a way to ultimate realization, (ii) to anticipate difficulties of understanding and tell the reader how the difficulties may be overcome, (iii) to anticipate technical issues, e.g. the nature and possibility of metaphysics, and how they are overcome, and (iv) make the conceptual development in later chapters easier to absorb by preparing for it and by avoiding the clutter of an excess of informal explanation.
1.1 What is the way of being?
The way of being is to live well in this world, inspired by and as a way of shared discovery and realization of the ultimate.
1.2 Versions of the text
There are many versions of the text on the Internet, most experimental. There is one previous print version that was not widely distributed. 5 99 193
1.3 Humans as capable of self-realization
Human beings see and seek meaning to living in the world. We, and perhaps other species, are capable of some understanding of the universe including ourselves. Though the understanding is incomplete, it enables some ability to design and negotiate the future. This gives us a sense of destiny—of have a concept of our ideal future and present and designs and actions toward that end.
Since we do not know all the possibilities of beings—of evolution, without further analysis we do not know where we lie on a continuum of possible beings possessed of design and destiny. Perhaps we are near the low end.
Our experience of the world is a source of knowledge. Though there is error and illusion, we can sharpen our observation and find patterns. This results in worldviews, e.g. the view from science. That science has truth is known from success in using it. However, while some scientists and laypersons project current science to the universe, such projection is not known to be valid. Outside the empirical region—defined in time, space, and limits of acuity of observation—the realization of all possibility that does not violate the empirical is consistent with science. Thus, there may be limitlessly many cosmoses of limitless variety beyond our empirical cosmos, and entire worlds among us but below the threshold of observation. And philosophically, our experiential worldview of selves in an environment may be in error—e.g., the universe may be an experiential being with individuals as experiential centers and what we think of as the inert environment may be a place of low to nil but not null experientiality.
Can we talk of the ‘trans-experiential’ region at all? Yes (i) we can talk of what is possible in the sense of being consistent with experience and reason and (ii) we can recognize that with sufficient conceptual omission of detail (i.e., with sufficient abstraction) there is no trans-experiential region—e.g., if we regard the universe as all that there is then there is one and only one universe.
While that conclusion appears trivial, a line of reasoning beginning with abstraction will be found potent. It will enable the conclusion that the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility. This conclusion will be named the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
It immediately follows that the universe has identity—is an experiential being that is limitless in extension, duration, peak, dissolution, and variety and that individuals inherit this power of the universe. I.e., individuals merge with or as universal identity in its peaks.
How may we visualize that conclusion? Marvel for a moment at your being. It is, in one view, made of elementary particles. An abstract mind with power of thought similar to yours would not know from the particles themselves that they can form a human being. Yet we arose in evolution—a natural process intrinsic to the material particles. Now, if we have arisen in about 13.8 billion years, the possibilities for an infinity of time, a time in which the physical elements themselves might arise in forms far more than as in our cosmos, may be far more potent than what we see in our cosmos. The possibility of peak universal identity in infinite time would seem approachable. One point to this reflection is to acknowledge human limits and death as real but not absolute. If the limits reign over the time frame of a human life or a cosmos, they may be transcended in eternity—in traversing the limitless array of cosmoses and more in extension and duration. But even in the present, we are also amid the ultimate. The real metaphysics discussed in the next paragraph, but developed later, enables seeing this conceptually. It shows the necessity of ultimates and their realization. A system such as meditation may be instrumental as an experimental approach to attempting to see this in perception.
Of what use is this knowledge? We can appreciate it, but can we use it? Does its abstract foundation make it inapplicable, except as illumination of the world? A first answer is that armed with the abstract knowledge, there is motive and reason to seek realization of the ultimate. But we can do more. We will develop a real metaphysics as a join of the fundamental principle (and consequences) with pragmatic knowledge from the history of human thought and culture including that of the present time. The abstract will illuminate and guide the pragmatic and the pragmatic will be instrumental in realizing the ideal. The result, named the real metaphysics, together with experience, reason, and experiment will be our way to the ultimate. All this is the content of the first main division on metaphysics.
The second and final main division is on realization. The first sections of this division reiterate and elaborate some aspects of the real metaphysics that are pertinent to realization. It takes up the critical issues of enjoyment and pain. It discusses and develops pathways to the ultimate with reference to major world systems, seen as experimental rather than final. The relevance of the systems, even though not final, is their insight and their synthesis into the pathways. This division also presents path templates and further resources for realization.
The final chapter is a series of reflections leading from the ideas into the world.
1.5 Origins and sources
1.5.1 Reason and intuition
The source of the way in reason and intuition is outlined in the preview, above.
The idea of search for ultimates is not new. Further, many specific ideas from the history of thought contribute to the way.
The way of being as developed here has origin in my life, reflection, experience, and constructive and critical thought. While I have learned much from the history of ideas, I have also contributed. I believe that demonstration (proof) of the fundamental principle, the worldview and rational synthesis, and elaboration and application are also new. This development stands in contrast to our secular and religious paradigms. It sees the secular view of the universe (e.g. the big bang, the evolution of life on earth, and secular humanism) as having truth but only a small part of the truth (of course, when it is our truth, a view tends to loom large in our minds). It goes far beyond most religious paradigms in the magnitude of the revealed truth and in that it is neither speculative, nor dogmatic, nor final in presentation—for it is demonstrated and even though it reveals an ultimate, it shows vast scope for improvement in understanding and realizing that ultimate. Indeed, for limited beings the understanding and realization are a journey—amid the myriad cosmoses and more—without end in time, variety, magnitude, or quality. ‘Being’ is revealed as an endless adventure.
1.5.4 Sources and influences
For major sources for the way in the history of ideas, and for the influences on my thought, see the section on resources.
1.6 Understanding and using the way
This section is an aid to anticipating and overcoming what may be difficult in understanding and living the way.
1.6.1 The original nature of the work
The work is not a compilation or synthesis of established ideas. It is a new synthesis. If their worldview fits a standard mold, readers should expect disconfirmation of their view and perhaps initial disorientation. They may expect a significant broadening of horizons.
1.6.2 Relation to received paradigms
It has been discussed how the way goes beyond the standard secular-scientific paradigm or worldview. It was established that a far greater view of the universe is consistent with the truth contained in that standard view.
Thus, it is quite valid for someone who seeks meaning and truth to be interested in the spiritual side of religion for meaning and the history of metaphysics for truth. Though religion is often dogmatic and metaphysics sometimes excessively speculative, it has been established that these are not limitations of what is possible in religion and metaphysics.
The real metaphysics of this work negates the dogma and excess speculation and goes far beyond what may be true in established religion and the history of metaphysics. This ‘going beyond’ is not just in quantity of the universe revealed but also, fundamentally, in conceptual quality.
The reader should anticipate having to relinquish their preconceptions, at least temporarily (this point was made in the previous section, but it is important enough to bear repetition). If readers anticipate validation of the preconceptions, they may be unable to absorb the new content. Once the main ideas of the new content are absorbed, readers may return to a more critical mode and an analysis of detail. In fact, they ought to do so for it would correct what may be in error in this work and enhance what is true. Just as importantly, for the reader, it should result in a synthetic view of the work.
1.6.3 Concept and system meaning
Since the worldview of the work is new, it is inevitable that the concept meanings shall have newness. Mostly, the new meanings shall be attached to terms that are already in use. Readers should follow the meanings (definitions) given. They should be prepared to set aside their received and intuitive senses of meaning—at least temporarily.
It is critical to see that the meaning of a paradigm or system of thought is not the collection or some kind of sum of meanings of the individual terms. It is rather in how the terms constitute a system. In the present case, as it will be seen, the system also includes its means of reason. The aim is not just to absorb the terms, but the system; and not just the system as a structure, but also as an intuition—as a Gestalt.
Some readers may be opposed to system in thought. There are good reasons to be opposed to imposed, forced, or merely or highly speculative system. However, the present system is emergent from and with experience (and, further, its development was significantly experimental and incremental). Further, the system may be regarded as in-process rather than final. Therefore, while it may be viewed axiomatically, this aspect of the system need not be emphasized.
1.6.4 Approach to understanding
In summary, readers may temporarily set aside worldviews and meanings, and seek to absorb the view of the way as a whole. Of course, part of the way to the whole is to begin with absorption of the small parts while seeking to understand them as well as their interplay.
1.6.5 Understanding versus realizing
Understanding is not sufficient to realization. It may not even be necessary, but it is one foundation. The understanding needs to be put into practice. Two parts to this are (i) continual effort to rectify understanding in formal and intuitive terms, especially potential internal conflicts and conflicts with received understanding and (ii) putting understanding into practice and daily living, interactively—for which the chapter on realization is a guide.
As a guide, realization is not just a ‘how to’ manual. It is not just about following an ideal pathway. It is also about sharing and developing pathways. For to share and develop is not just to be on a more efficient path, it is essential to being in a state of realizing.
Community is significant in maintaining a sense of the truth of any worldview. It is important to have others with whom to share knowledge—we recognize here that it is not about belief for one either knows or does not know and here we have developed knowledge. This is especially important regarding the way since its worldview is at odds with and transcends the common worldviews.
In Buddhism, the term Sangha refers to community that maintains the Buddhist tradition as immanent in everyday life. Regarding the way, there is a paradox—while it is important to share and develop, community tends to divide into leaders and followers. We must seek community and common truth but also to maintain the originality of every member of the community. The individual ought to seek to develop courage to speak the truth.
1.7 Fundamental questions
1.7.1 Metaphysics and its possibility
What is metaphysics? Traditionally, in philosophy, a metaphysical system, in the best interpretation, over and above direct experience and the science of its pragmatic patterns, has been seen as rational but also speculative. That is, it is concerned with what is consistent with experience but does not necessarily follow from experience. It may concern the entire universe or just a part of it.
Naturally, as definite knowledge, metaphysics has come under criticism. For when it acknowledges its limits, its utility may then be questioned.
Here, we will consider metaphysics to be knowledge of the real and to the extent it may be achieved, all the real. We have spoken to the issue of addressing all the real. But given illusion, how is it possible to know the real at all? This is the approach we shall take. (i) We have seen that there is more than interpretation of the world from experience that is consistent with experience. (ii) On the ideal side, beginning with abstraction, we demonstrate the fundamental principle and its ideal consequences. (iii) On the pragmatic side, we have appeal to the history of human knowledge, which we take pragmatically. It is an instrument of realization. It is not regarded as perfect depiction of the real, yet we know it has some purchase on whatever the real may be for it enables some negotiation of the world. (iv) While the pragmatic side may be ever at best an approximation to the nature and fact of truth, if that is so its perhaps at best approximate character cannot be an intrinsic negative, for the way things are is not a negative. But the ideal side shows it to be an instrument in realization and therefore it is in some sense perfect, even in its imperfection. In the present we see our ultimate selves and that our temporal limits will be overcome in some cosmos and some life (even this one, should we perchance to arrive at the ultimate). (v) As noted earlier, the ideal illuminates and guides the pragmatic—and shows it to be perfect in its own way; and the pragmatic is an instrument in realizing the ultimate; and the two—the ideal and the pragmatic—constitute a perfect instrument toward the ideal according to criteria of perfection revealed by the ideal (the process is not and need not be linear or free of pain). This is the system named the real metaphysics (which we now see to be open ended for it is not to be set aside as distinct from our own practice and process).
The real metaphysics is not a theory of everything. While, as seen in the next section, it is ultimate in ‘depth’ or foundation, for limited beings it is ever open to discovery and realization of variety—it is open with regard to ‘breadth’. Breadth is the realm of discovery, realization, and adventure.
1.7.2 About the real metaphysics
The metaphysics begins with the concept of experience as subjective or phenomenal experience in all its forms. There is such a thing as experience, for it is just another name for subjective awareness. It is not assumed that experience of all things is ‘objective’ but (i) as just observed there is experience (ii) there is experience of experience, which is necessary to knowing that there is experience, and so (iii) since there is experience of experience, there is a world, even if only of experience, but (iv) there is a range of interpretations of experience, e.g. world as selves in an environment and world as experiential with individuals as heightened centers of experience and environment as subdued experience to the point, sometimes, of nil but not null experience, and (v) starting with experience, the work develops the real metaphysics which enables evaluations of the interpretations—and what is found is that world as experiential is the greatest consistent interpretation while world as selves in an environment can be interpreted as a case of the larger but having restricted purchase (and there are other interpretations that also have limited purchase—and where these may be logically indistinguishable from the local standard or selves in an environment, they may be argued to be insignificant existentially and improbable numerically).
To build the metaphysics, the concept of being is introduced as ground. It plays the role that substance plays in substance metaphysics—i.e., it is foundational. However, substance is fundamentally limited as it is a posit without justification (regardless whether non neutral as in materialism and whether a single substance as in monism). Being is just existence and we have seen that there is a world, which includes experience. Beginning with being as existence, and beings which have being or existence, we take up examples of beings in the universe and the void. The universe exists, but we may doubt existence of the void and therefore a demonstration is given.
Next, the work takes up possibility. This is subtle on the following accounts (i) what possibility is—here the earlier treatment of beings as experienced is critical, (ii) the kinds of possibility—and the essential distinction of real and logical possibility and related sub-kinds and subtleties, (iii) that in considering possibility, knowledge and reason—content and method—are co-emergent (which has implications for the idea of the a priori and whether logic is a priori to experience).
We still have not said what possibility is. Consider a concept of some state of affairs. The concept may or may not be realized. If it violates the constitution of a cosmos, it is impossible for that cosmos; an example is physical impossibility for the cosmos. But the form of the concept may rule out its realization in any world—i.e., in the universe as all being. For example, since the concepts of ‘square’ and ‘circle’ are mutually exclusive, a square circle is never realized. If the concept itself does not rule out existence, i.e. without reference to the world, it is logically possible. In fact, this is one conception of logic. In some sense, logical possibility is the outer limit of possibility; if the universe had no real, e.g. physical, limits, valid conceptions of it would still be bounded by logical possibility (we could admit concepts that violate logic but would then have to recognize that the part of the universe described by them is empty). Our logics, of course, since they are defined by forms of conceptual expression (e.g. as in the predicate calculus), do not exhaust logic and may be subject to empirical correction.
Logical possibility is a notion of possibility that inheres in the concept. If the possibility inheres in the universe itself, the possibility is ‘real’. But the notion has subtleties. Suppose a state of affairs obtains on a part of earth. Is it then possible? It is not a given that the state will occur again, because for some states the necessary conditions might never occur again—even if the state on the part of earth repeats, elsewhere things may be different. It is highly improbable that we will ever have a war identical to the second world war. But if I enter a room, it is clear that to say it is possible that I can enter the room has at least pragmatic meaning. To say that something is possible in our cosmos is to say that we estimate that it could obtain, even if it never does (it might obtain in a constitutionally identical cosmos). But is that true of the universe? I.e., if a state never obtains in the entire history of the universe as all being, is it possible? No—for a limited space-time region of the universe possibility may exceed the real but for the entire universe, real possibility and the real are identical. But it is certain is that the real possibility of the universe, e.g. physical possibility, is bounded by logical possibility. What the fundamental principle says is that for the universe, the real, real possibility, and logical possibility are identical (thus making real possibility significant for a limited part of the universe but superfluous for the universe as a whole).
Now, two approaches to demonstration of the fundamental principle can be given (various heuristic arguments can also be given). One is to show existence of the void, which in turn implies the principle. A second is via possibility and showing necessity of the fundamental principle. The former implies necessity and necessity implies existence of the void. However, even though multiple proofs and heuristics enhance confidence and understanding, both proofs may be doubted in that they do not and cannot stem from an examination of all experience. Rather, they stem from necessary reason applied to an abstract of experience. But existence of the void and the necessity argument are not absurd since they are (found) consistent with reason (and science). Therefore, if we insist on doubting necessity of the demonstration, which we ought to do (for it may result in epistemological, ontological, and existential soundness of being), we may regard existence of the void as (a) an ontological axiom and (b) as an existential principle.
We have observed that we will see that the fundamental principle is the principle that the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility. We can now see that this means that the universe is the realization of logical possibility. As seen above this includes but is greater than possibility in terms of our limited systems of logic.
From this point on the flow of proof is ‘downhill’. That is the significant machinery of proof is in the demonstration of the fundamental principle. As far as fundamentals are concerned, the remaining consequences are easy.
1.7.3 The greatest possible universe
If the universe is the greatest possible, why do we not see all possibilities in this world? That we do not, would seem to contradict the universe as the greatest possible. Well—what we observe so far, is one possibility and the observed history can only be one. That we see only some possibilities in the known world, present and past, does not imply that all possibilities do not occur in the entire universe—past, present, and future. Now, it is possible that our standard view of history (the big bang and evolution) is illusory for (as Bertrand Russell pointed out) it is logically consistent with our experience in the present moment that the world, complete with evidence and memory of what we think is past, may have come into existence five minutes ago. Further, it may cease five minutes from now. Can we rule these possibilities out? No, they may indeed obtain. But (i) they do not alter the large picture that flows from the real metaphysics, (ii) arguments can be given that in the universe with its realization of limitless possibility, the five minute universe is so infrequent as to be irrelevant to our eternal being, and (iii) it is pragmatic to take the stable and meaningful view of our history, even without appeal to the real metaphysics which reveals the necessity of meaning (though not necessarily of our interpretations of meaning).
But what does ‘greatest possibility’ imply? It does, as pointed out earlier, imply the greatest variety and adventure. However, it does not mean ‘best’ (even if our notions of the good have universal meaning)—but it includes the best. Thus, we do not expect a pain free universe. There is a problem of pain (and its dual, which is enjoyment) and it is addressed later; in fact, at the ‘lower rungs’ of experiential being, pain is essential.
A referent of experience is that of which experience is possible.
However, experience may be illusory.
A being that that which is a valid referent of experience or, equivalently, that to which some form of the verb to be validly applies.
Being is the characteristic of beings as beings.
Being specifies no particular set of times or locations; particularly, it does not distinguish past, present, and future; nor does its use imply the existence (or structure) of time, for its use allows that there may be being outside time.
Some alternate terms—for referent or a being: object, existent; for being—existence.
A cause of existence or a state of being is a reason inherent in being for existence of or state of being.
Power or effective cause is interaction, i.e. the giving and receiving of effect.
Effective cause may be between beings or within a being. That is, beings may be self-causal.
The hypothetical being that has no power, self or other, does not exist.
In the following, cause without qualification will refer to effective cause.
In talking of being, ‘experience’ was used in the phrase ‘experience of’. The real world is the world of being—the world that may be experienced; it includes experience itself and not just conventional objects, for we have experience of experience; and it is seen as the sum of internal or private objects and external or public objects, but the distinction, internal vs external, is neither clear nor universal among experiencers and we shall not make much of it.
But experience is not always of something. There may, at least seemingly, be pure experience—i.e. experience without an object or ‘of the nil or null object’. However, even pure experience is likely the result of interaction of an experiential center with internal data, and even apparently pure experience may be seen as having sources in and consequences for the real world. Thus experience, and consequently, being are relational.
Let us now begin to employ a more inclusive concept of experience.
Experience is subjective or phenomenal awareness in all its forms: perceiving, thinking (conceiving), feeling, emoting, pure experience, willing, intending, experience of causing, experience in acting, and more.
Other uses of ‘experience’ include the earlier ‘experience of’, which is a kind of experience; and cumulative experience which is not experience but the result of experience.
2.2.1 Concept meaning and knowledge
When there is experience of a referent, actual or potential, the experience of is the concept and the referent is the object.
Of course, the object is a further set of experiences which, may, in the case of sufficient faithfulness by abstraction or any other adequate means, be taken as objective.
An iconic concept is one that refers in virtue of sufficient faithfulness to the object.
A linguistic concept is one in which a sign, simple or compound, is associated with icons, sufficient to identify a referent. The reference is the result of the icon, and, if it is compound, the form of the sign as well.
Concept meaning is a concept and its possible objects.
Knowledge is meaning realized.
A language is a system of signs, grammar (rules for forms of compound signs designed so as to refer with degrees of specificity adequate to contexts), and meanings of relatively simple signs (such that compound signs also have meanings with specificity adequate to contexts).
Language is efficient in thought and communication in virtue of the fact (and when) that signs are simpler than objects and icons. Finitary systems of signs lend themselves to precision and necessary inference in virtue of being linear and completely accessible to inspection. This is also a weakness of language but only so, relative to the erroneous thought that language ought to be adequate to all thought and communication regarding the real. Thus, while science derives precision from expression in terms of sign systems, significant meaning, feeling, and emotion are conveyed as metaphor, poetry, and art. Further, there is a wide-open region between the sciences and the arts where there is room for non-finitary thought to complement the finitary thought of sign systems.
2.2.2 The significance of experience
The epistemic and ontological significance are bound together in experience as measure of being and place of being and knowledge of being, respectively.
The existential significance of experience begins in its ontological and epistemic significance. There is a sense in which the individual does not transcend their experience (except in, say, becoming a more inclusive being, which, in turn, subject to the same exception, does not transcend its experience).
Thus, the world is the world of experience and its interpretations (which, though it begs the question of what is real, does not entail that the question has no answer). The measure of the real in experience, is further experience.
Experience is not just the place of knowledge but also of concept, linguistic, and significant meaning. Though not all that is significant for an individual, it is the place that the individual experiences significance.
The hypothetical being that is not experienced by self or other has no significance—is effectively nonexistent (that is, the concept of such a being has no significant object).
It is the place of intrinsic realization and the essential place of action toward instrumental realization.
The discussion of beings anticipates the discussion of possibility. Care has been taken to avoid circularity.
2.3.1 Form and change
The most elementary experience is that of sameness or difference.
The identity of a being or self is sense of sameness across change, whose measure is named time. The measure of difference without change is labeled space. In that identity is indefinite, so are space and time; in that different perspectives may differentiate space and time differently, the two are not entirely separable. Are time and space universal? Beings require space, experience requires time. An ideal point and the absence of being, if they are beings, are the only beings not marked by space and time (though, if they exist, they may exist within space and time).
That beings have form, implies the existence of space. Given beings, the existence of space is necessary. Given that experience is always an experience, the existence of time is necessary. Time is necessary to significance. A dynamic being is one whose change is a function of its form.
Given a being, all and part are beings. The null part or void will be seen to be a being.
Laws and theories will be seen to have being.
Sameness, difference, time, space, form, and change have being.
Experience has being.
We—humans—are experiential beings with a sense of identity. The forms of experience include the range from perception and thought, to meaning and knowing, to feeling and emotion, to will and choice in action. We are capable of enquiring into our nature and the nature of the universe, and we have some ability to design and know destiny. We are perhaps the lowest rung of such being, possibly along with other species, for we do not have appear to have native knowledge of the full nature and reason for being.
Kinds of being are further taken up in kinds of being, below.
2.3.3 The universe
The universe is all being—over all form and change, i.e. over all space, time, and their absence.
The universe exists—i.e. it is a being.
The universe contains dynamic beings but is not known to be a dynamic being (it will turn out that it is not a dynamic being).
The universe is not caused or created by another being, for there are no other beings.
So far as there is cause, the universe is self-causal.
No being is self-created in that self-creation presumes simultaneous existence and non-existence.
The universe is not created, either by another being or by itself.
If the existence of the universe is caused, the kind of cause must be other than effective cause.
If we consider logic as cause, possibility without necessity is mere accident and therefore not a good candidate as logical cause. Necessity, where it obtains, is a reason (logical) inherent in being, and therefore a kind of cause.
Necessity is an effective candidate for the cause of the existence of the universe.
2.3.4 The void
The void is the absence of being.
The void contains no beings (except perhaps itself).
Given experience, the definition of the universe implies its existence. However, the definition of the void does not imply its existence.
However, for the void, existence and non-existence are equivalent. Therefore, the void may be taken to exist.
The void is a being.
2.4.1 Possibility and its kinds
A naïve concept of possibility is that which can happen (obtain) or exist. The naïvety is due to the vagueness of the term ‘can’. There need to be specific criteria regarding ‘can happen or obtain’.
Given a concept, it has possibility if it can obtain according to certain criteria, if the criteria allow existence of referent. Otherwise, it is impossible.
Thus, there are kinds of possibility.
2.4.2 Real possibility and its sub-kinds
Real possibility obtains where the form of the universe allows existent of the referent. Scientific possibility is an estimate of possibility in terms of science—i.e., usually our sciences. Physical possibility and economic possibility are examples of scientific possibility. Sentient possibility is what is possible for sentient organisms and their designs and technologies.
A pattern obtains for a part of the universe when the data to specify the state of the part is less than the raw data.
A law or theory of science is our reading of patterns in a part or region (in space, time, or both) of the universe.
Our readings may have error. In science, method refers to ways we have found to be effective eliminating error or, alternately, moving out the boundary or part or region. This what is meant in calling science empirical.
However, the pattern itself is immanent in the part. The law, though an approximate reading, corresponds to something real—the pattern or law.
Laws, patterns, and theories have being—i.e., they are beings.
Real possibility is identical to universal possibility, the possibilities of the universe.
The possibilities of our world are a subset of the real or universal possibilities.
2.4.3 Logical possibility, its empirical character, and logics
Logical possibility obtains when the form of the concept itself does not rule out existence of the referent (this is one way to define logic).
Whereas science is empirical over the world, logic is empirical over the relations between concepts and the world. This is the way to discovery and improvement of logics.
Thus defined, logical possibility is not of the world as an object but of the relationship of concepts and objects, i.e. of experience of and experienced, i.e. of knowledge of the world.
There is, therefore, a tentative definition of logic in terms of the world. It is that to be logical, a concept must have at least one instance in the universe.
Our logics, where valid, provide examples of logical possibility. They do not exhaust the ‘possibilities’ of logical possibility (this is because our forms of expression do not exhaust the forms of expression). Logical possibility is the greatest possibility, but our logics provide only examples of logical possibility.
Real possibility presumes logical possibility.
Real possibility is bounded by logical possibility; real possibility, which includes scientific and sentient possibility, cannot be greater than logical possibility.
In the following, possibility without qualification will refer to logical possibility.
2.4.4 Metaphysical possibility
Metaphysical possibility is a condition of existence due to a necessary characteristic of a kind of being. Metaphysical possibility is a useful concept when we want to consider general questions and questions about general kinds of being without being tied to the specifics of a particular world.
Because it concerns kinds of being, metaphysical possibility is a class of possibilities. Of course, every being is a kind of being, so all possibilities are metaphysical. Physical possibility is metaphysical. But the interest is, as stated above, in general kinds. While we might be interested in physical possibility as metaphysical, we would be more interested in the possibilities of form as metaphysical. While the possibilities of human mind are interesting, we would be inclined to consider the possibilities of sentience or experience as metaphysical. Definitely, logical possibility as the boundary of all being, is a kind of metaphysical possibility.
There is a powerful use of the concept of metaphysical possibility, with examples, in universe as field.
If a concept must have a referent, it has necessity (i.e., it is necessary).
Necessity implies possibility, possibility allows but does not imply necessity.
If a concept is possible but not necessary, existence of the object is contingent or contingently possible.
Various kinds of necessity correspond to the kinds of possibility.
Logical necessity obtains when the concept itself requires existence of the object.
In the following, necessity without qualification will refer to logical necessity.
A being is unconditional if it is instantiated without exceptions allowed by its concept.
A being is absolutely unconditional if it is instantiated without exception. For example, if the universe were temporal, an absolutely unconditional being would exist for all time.
In the following, unconditionality without qualification will refer to absolute unconditionality.
Unconditionality is a measure, relative to the universe, of necessity.
Necessity and unconditionality are identical.
Since necessity makes no presumption—has no premise—from symmetry, a necessary being must manifest in all its forms.
If an unconditional being has more than one possible form, it must exist in all its forms.
2.4.6 Alternate demonstration of the existence of the void
The nothingness that the universe would be, if it were to be nonmanifest, is there beside—and amid and immanent to—the universe when manifest. That is, the void is unconditionally (e.g. eternally and ubiquitously) existent.
2.5 Universe as field
An interpretation of experience is a picture or description of a part of the world or universe, at some level of generality with regard to features, that is consistent with a range of experience. The interpretations here concern not just a part but the whole world or universe and the range of experience will be the entire range, but not in all its detail.
Given two interpretations, they may be consistent with each other—or not. However, if two interpretations seem inconsistent it may be because of tacit presumptions. Often, an interpretation is regarded as standard because it agrees with a received paradigm, also an interpretation, e.g. materialism. Alternate interpretations may then seem absurd. Attempts to determine which interpretation is true are useful because (i) the standard interpretation may be reinforced, found to have limited purchase, or discredited (ii) the ‘absurd’ interpretation may be found to have purchase and to not be absurd after (iii) a better interpretation or interpretations may be found (iv) if there are two consistent interpretations the less inclusive one may pertain to a particular world, e.g. ours, and the more inclusive one to a more inclusive world or to the universe, and (iv) we may learn about the real and about reason.
A common and standard view—and interpretation—of the world is that it is constituted of experiential individuals, selves, and others, in an experientially inert environment or universe. Now this view is true of some possible worlds. However, it is not possibly true of a strictly materialist world—a world made of a single substance, matter, which has no mental characteristic at all. Such a world would be experientially inert. Therefore, this standard view enhanced by strict materialism cannot be a description of our world—cosmos. However, our world may, for limited purposes, be a single or monist substance world—have a substance interpretation, if we allow the substance to be experiential (the monism is not ‘neutral’). Individuals would be bright centers of experience, the environment would be dim to nil but not null, experientially. This may seem absurd from a materialist perspective but (a) not only does it resolve the problem of strict materialism in allowing for experience but (b) it allows a material side in that the form of experience would manifest as matter like. It is an extended version of the standard and materialist view. Though its conceptual distinction from the standard and materialist view is significant, the phenomenal difference is small. Why is it an interpretation for limited purposes only? It is because substance theory cannot be a theory of origins or of inherent reasons for existence.
A larger interpretation is one where the substance requirement is relaxed. In this description the universe is a field of experience and being, with form (space), and change (time), and possible regions of absence of space and time. Such a world may be the greatest possible universe in terms of categories, for experience is relation but has no categories beyond the matter like and experience, as imagined by Spinoza, for experience is relation and therefore relation of relation is just relation and therefore also experience (but there may an infinite number of qualities). Categorially, the universe as a field of experience (and being) is the most inclusive possible and therefore bounds the actual universe.
But does the actual universe realize this categorial boundary? What possibilities does the actual universe realize? How does our world fit in the actual universe? What is the significance of other interpretations of the world and universe—e.g. a strictly material world and a solipsist world, i.e. one that is nothing but the experience of what we think of as a single individual?
How do we know our world is not a metaphysically solipsist world, e.g. just the world of my experience? Logically, I do not. However, there is an interesting dichotomy on this solipsist account—either the world or universe is reduced to my (the solipsist’s) capacity or I am raised to the capacity of the universe (or somewhere in between). The first case is an interpretation alternative to the standard view on monism; the second is universe as field of experience, which, since it relaxes the substance requirement altogether, includes the first as a particular and restricted example.
Some common arguments against solipsism are (i) from analogy—like causes (we are similar material organisms) must have like effects (we must be experiential) (ii) the standard approach (without strict materialism) is the best explanation and (iii) behavior (or some other criteria) is the criterion of mind. But all these approaches presume some metaphysical background. Therefore, while they may be considered good arguments, they are not necessary arguments.
The resolution of these issues and further considerations are deferred to universe as field, revisited.
2.6 The fundamental principle of metaphysics
The assertion that the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility is named the fundamental principle of metaphysics.
All possibilities must emerge from the void, for non-existence of a possibility would be a law in the void.
Therefore, the universe is the greatest possible.
The power of the void is without limit. The void may be regarded as playing the role of substance. However, it is not a classical substance and requires no posit or foundation in another being or reason. There is effectively one void.
It follows that the universe has identity and is limitless in extension, duration, variety, peaking, and dissolution of being. Particularly, there is a limitless number of physical laws, of which each manifest in a limitless array of cosmoses, all in communication with a sublayer which is a near void in transient communication with the void. Individuals—all beings—inherit the power of the void and the universe and merge with and as the universe in its peaks. Death and limits of individuals and cosmoses are real but not absolute.
Now, a set of meta-conclusions. First, the power of the fundamental principle is great, yet the demonstration near trivial; further it is rational and ontological; further, if we accept the argument that the void cannot be observed, it cannot be empirical (but the argument is not obviously true). Therefore, it ought to be doubted—and doubt is addressed below; part of that address is an alternate demonstration (and this is also a reason for having given two demonstrations of the existence of the void, earlier). However, there is no doubt that the principle is consistent with experience (which includes science and logic). Second, many implications of the principle are trivial and will be made below, without remark.
2.6.3 Alternate demonstration
Consider the system constituted of the void and all manifest being (the system is in fact the universe). This system has unconditional being. Its existence is therefore necessary and therefore it must exist in both its forms—the void or non-manifest and the manifest. Similarly, the manifest has many possible forms; and therefore, all possible forms must manifest—which concludes the demonstration.
Also note that neither the void nor the manifest is necessary. The universe can therefore be neither void nor manifest eternally. It must phase between void and manifestation.
2.6.4 Doubt and response to doubt
Since (i) the fundamental principle is consistent with experience, including science and logic, and its demonstrations are at least good reasons to think of it as true and (ii) it promises power and illumination of being, therefore it is appropriate to maintain doubt but also to have the following positive attitudes toward it—(a) as a postulate to found an ultimate metaphysics and (b) as an existential principle for foundation of attitude and action.
Metaphysics is study of the real. It has been thought impossible on two related counts (i) we do not know that the phenomena—the world as experienced—are faithful to the world (ii) there may be parts of the universe beyond the empirical boundary. There is a third count, (iii) it is a characteristic of many metaphysical studies that they are based on only some of the phenomena and the conclusions are consistent with the phenomena but only likely but not necessary.
The answer to (i) is that we have in fact been developing a metaphysical system beginning with experience and concluding via necessary inference with the fundamental principle and its immediate consequences. Regarding (ii) the abstract treatment of being permits necessary consequences for all being, which includes the entire universe as part of experience even though it is currently beyond detailed instrumental investigation. Regarding (iii) the conclusions concern all possible being and experience and are necessary. In summary of this paragraph, we may say that the metaphysical development so far is well founded—is complete with regard to depth.
However, it is open with regard to breadth. That is, we do not know the range of being in detail—it is the object of logic, but we do not know all possible logics and we do not have a specification of the possibilities even of our logics. Which, however, is not a deficiency. It is true that there is a variety currently unknown to us, but perhaps that is a source of adventure. The fundamental principle illuminates the universe as a place of ultimate realization and of our given lives as potentially ground for adventure. Can we undertake the venture? How?
We have access to tradition—what is valid up to the present time in human knowledge and exploration.
2.7.2 The real metaphysics
We can form a system of the abstract metaphysics so far and tradition. The metaphysics illuminates and guides tradition. Tradition is instrumental in finding ways to approach the ultimate. The two together illuminate the meaning of ‘living well in this life’. Of course, even so far as valid, tradition seems to get us only so far. But what we have learned from the fundamental principle is that our beings will merge with the peak being of the universe. It is possible that individuals could realize this in this life on this earth. It seems perhaps more likely that realization would be a multi-life, multi-cosmos process—across deaths and limits of individuals and cosmoses. In some manifestations, a pragmatic knowledge illuminated by metaphysics of the ultimate comes into play (other manifestations are still born). What of the various limits of our pragmatic knowledge? We recognize them and acknowledge that the problems of epistemology and metaphysics in our world are valid interests. However, the new abstract metaphysics shows them in a new light. The standard epistemic and metaphysical concerns pertain to a limited world (the subsequent section shows how some concerns are overcome); they do not pertain to the ultimate. If the local limits of knowledge and transformation are not overcome in our cosmos, it is not a limit on ultimate realization. If they cannot be overcome in our cosmos, it is not a negative, for the truth is not a negative. But all limits are overcome in the ultimate (it is not being said that all pain and all negatives are overcome; these are inevitably on the way). And in this process the abstract metaphysics illuminates pragmatic knowledge, while the latter is instrumental toward the ideal shown by the former. The two sides, each with its own epistemology, combine as one metaphysics under one epistemology (our pragmatic epistemologies being shown by the ideal value as perfect as they are, relative to the goal of the ultimate). This one system with dual constitution is named the real metaphysics.
Having established the fundamental principle and the real metaphysics we can talk with definitiveness on universe as field.
Since the universe realizes the greatest possibility, it realizes the greatest categorial possibility. Categorially, therefore, the universe is a field of experience and being (with form and space, and change and time, and their absence). The universe is the greatest possible, a field of experience and being, subject to no limit but that descriptions or concepts of the universe are subject to logic. Sub-worlds include the experiential substance and material substance worlds above as well as solipsist worlds.
The universe is not a solipsist universe equivalent to ‘my experience’ but it does have the real interpretation of universe as experience of the greatest possible being.
But can we rule out that our world is a local solipsist world?
Because every logical possibility is realized, some presumption must be made to then necessarily conclude that the standard interpretation (with experience as substance) captures our world. Of course, even if the standard interpretation does hold, it does not rule out the universe as field interpretation, which, being the greatest possibility, must hold. For pragmatic purposes, of course, we hold to the standard interpretation (while we also ought to acknowledge the more inclusive universe as field). It seems that to think otherwise is foolhardy. But we would like to go beyond seeming and argue that it is probably foolhardy. That would require us to argue that among all worlds, the standard one is most probable regarding our world.
I will argue not just that it is most probable but that it is overwhelmingly probable. Because solipsism is possible and not logically distinguishable from the standard views (substance, field), that is (probably) the best that can be done.
We must appeal to the real metaphysics. Three paradigms arise out of tradition—the material and physical paradigm of physical law, which is a dynamical paradigm of form and change; an evolutionary paradigm—i.e., the paradigm of origins via variation and selection; and the paradigm of being as essentially experiential, to which we have already made appeal as a necessary paradigm. The evolutionary paradigm suggests that formation of cosmoses from the void is ‘superior’ with regard to stability and number, when it occurs via incremental adaptation. That is ad hoc worlds—interpretations—such as the solipsist, Bertrand Russell’s five-minute world, world as simulation, and so on, are possible, therefore real, but unlikely. We think that our world is not a solipsist world or another ad hoc world by appeal to a paradigm of the real (over and above pragmatic reasons to hold it non solipsist). That we think the standard world overwhelmingly probable is to say we think it is the result of incremental formation, that the ‘absurd’ worlds are more or less randomly thrown together (e.g., from the void), and that incremental formation is overwhelmingly more likely than random throwing together.
There is another approach to the question of solipsism and ad hoc worlds. We will begin with an example. Consider whether a mind is possible without a body. Thought without a body is not logically contradictory. However, thought has form and form is an essential characteristic of matter. Thus, thought must be associated with some kind of body, even if it is not a body of grey matter etc. Though logically possible, thought without a body is an example of what we shall call metaphysically impossible. Metaphysical possibility shall be a condition for being that reflects some essential (and argued) aspect of things; it need not reflect the particular constitution of beings in our world. Let us now define the concept of metaphysical possibility.
We introduced metaphysical possibility as a condition of existence due to a necessary characteristic of a kind of being. If we are the kind of being whose knowledge of their world is far less than full knowledge of it, then my personal solipsism is metaphysically impossible; further, other people, roughly, are my epistemic equals. Therefore, they have minds. But do they really have phenomenal minds or are they just automatons that are functionally but not phenomenally my equal? This is not an easy problem—indeed the nature of the problem itself and whether it is a problem are debated today. Here’s a rather weak argument—the weakness lies in the conditional premise ‘if’—if an epistemic equal is a roughly metaphysical equal, there are other minds; and, if I am not the metaphysical center of the universe, there must be other minds. In other words, if the world is sufficiently uniform, there are other minds (and, if it is formed incrementally, we expect uniformity—but the argument here is metaphysical rather than based in process or formation). Let us ask whether my physical equal is my phenomenal or experiential equal. In a non-substance world, the answer would be—not necessarily. In a substance world—yes. So—there must be worlds in which some beings have minds but other, seemingly like beings do not. In our world there are other minds if it is pragmatically and locally substance. If it is a ‘metaphysically ordinary’ world, there are other minds; this does not say much because ‘ordinary’ is anthropic.
Why have we taken this detour through solipsism? Such alternate interpretations, logically possible, but seemingly absurd on standard paradigms, are challenges to our knowledge of the real and, if overcome, they teach us about the real. The purpose to the detour has been that the real metaphysics teaches us powerfully about the real.
2.9.1 Some kinds of being
2.9.2 Categories, classes, or dimensions of being
2.9.3 The abstract and the concrete
3.1 Givenness of realization
3.3 Enjoyment, effective realization, and the issue of pain
3.6.1 Sources and influences
4.1 The way as engaging and sharing over following
4.2 Intrinsic and instrumental change
4.3 Limits are real and temporal but not absolute or eternal
4.4 Text, ideas, and being
4.5 Past, present, and future as one
4.6 Perceiving and acting
4.7 Into the world