The Essential Way of Being
Anil Mitra, Copyright © March 30, 2020—June 3, 2020
This document is in process
CONTENTS WITH SUMMARY
THE WAY OF BEING | A JOURNEY
In definitions, the defined term is bold. Except in headings, other uses of bold font will be noted.
When defined terms are used informally, a remark is made only if it is not clear from the context.
The numbered main divisions are formal and repeat some content from the prologue.
It is shown that to follow the aim is ethical; and that knowing and acting in synchrony is crucial to the way—without knowledge, there is no action; without action, knowledge is incomplete.
Discovery and positive action begin with and build upon received ways—i.e., the reservoir of knowledge from all cultures through the present time. The forward looking emerges from the received. Yet, prescriptions are often polarized (i) the received is absolute (ii) the way forward is to embrace only the new. Because the received tends to define views of the world, it often seems absolute. On the other hand, when, for efficiency, the received is defined by norms, it often seems to lack real basis. To move forward we begin with the received; but no aspect of the received is above criticism; and efficient forward is based in imagination, criticism, and experiment.
It is essential to the development (i) to learn from the received but not to be limited by any seeming finality to it (ii) to let no claim, received or hypothetical, be accepted without criticism.
The received in any culture tends to seem final since its definition of the universe is tacitly woven into the culture.
The way is centered on three demonstrated truths:
Here, history is the story of the universe from the viewpoint of and focusing on the beings concerned.
The way begins in history where direction emerges from and mixes with non-direction. Direction seeks improvement, new ways, and kinds of being, seeks direction itself. The way of being is inspired by this seeking.
This version of the way refers to my journey only as helpful to realization.
The dimensions or categories of the journey and the way are experiential—an experiential self, the relation between the experiencer, and the experienced which is the world. Experience is part of the world—experience experiences itself. These
Pragmatic dimensions of the journey are of psyche, nature, society, and culture, and the universal (which includes what is unknown so far).
I have sought to experience psyche, which includes experience itself, in perception, thought, research and creativity, will and influence, and meditation and related practices.
I have sought nature for its own sake, as inspiration, and as a gateway or portal to the real. I have learned and sought to experience nature via the ‘Beyul’ of Tibetan Buddhism—Beyul is travel in nature with an aim to open the mind via nature as a transformative influence.
What I seek in society and culture are different paradigms of the real, conceptual, and lived, as inputs into my thought, my sense of the real and its conceptual refinement, and the transformative experience of human contact.
The text establishes a metaphysics that covers all being (in the abstract) and that is given demonstration and that is seen to go beyond established paradigms of the real. In covering all being, the metaphysics must go beyond the established paradigms.
The concepts are defined in the text. The section on main concepts below lists important categories and concepts. Some terms are new; most are not.
Despite notions of rigid meaning, often due to uncritical acceptance of normative metaphysics, many terms have no consensus meaning.
The new is forward looking and cross culturally synergistic.
Two kinds of newness in meaning should be noted. Some terms such as being, universe, and possibility necessarily have new meaning on account of the new metaphysics. Others such as reason and yoga, have a plethora of traditional meanings and are here used as a receptacle for their essence as enhanced by the metaphysics and as umbrella for what may be found useful in the traditions.
There is a glossary of important terms.
In this text, we seek care but not mere appearance of sophistication.
In items 1 and 2, care has been about reliable understanding of the universe. The aim of the way is more than just understanding—it is also about action and realization. What is care relative to action and realization? The following presumes that adequate care has been taken in understanding.
In the context of care, doubt is critical doubt: doubt that aims, via criticism and imaginative reconstruction, to move from uncertainty to reliability—which may be pragmatic reliability, pragmatic certainty, or perfect certainty according to what is may be achieved and is appropriate to context.
Doubt will be taken up in detail, in the section on the real metaphysics.
The way of being is grounded in—begins with—received thought. I have absorbed ideas from study of western and eastern thought. The main ideas have precursors. However, I believe that the synthesis, demonstration, development, centered on the fundamental principle are new.
I do not claim originality because the content is universal. Further, some writers have come close to aspects of my system.
The text itself derives significantly from material I have written earlier but has not had wide circulation.
This may take re-reading, and then perhaps absorbing what is valid in the old to the new. This may be difficult, but it is critical. It will be helpful to see that the collection of concepts has meaning as a system.
It may also be useful to recognize that we are reinforced in our paradigms in their being culturally embedded. That is, the paradigms have a normative quality. Normativity does not imply untruth or merely relative truth. It means that truth and untruth are bound together and to distinguish them is at least difficult. Acknowledging this may open the reader up to being guided by the developments toward supra normativity.
The themes of experience-ideas-being and reason-yoga-logos, which thread through the text, are chosen here for explicit acknowledgement due to importance and because (i) they are developed rather than presented axiomatically (ii) their meaning grows in the development (iii) their meaning is derived and generalized from but not identical to their received meanings (iv) their mention should facilitate understanding.
Précis of the text
The aim of the way of being is living well as shared discovery and realization of the ultimate. The origin of the way is in history—in immersion in primal through modern traditions of description and exploration of the universe.
Pursuit of the ultimate grounds enjoyment of our world. An imperative to the pursuit emerges in this work.
The work inherits ideas from the traditions. Readers will judge for themselves what contribution the work makes.
Thought at the boundary of tradition requires reformulation. The terms are familiar but understanding requires absorption of new meaning of the concepts and their systematic relation.
What is the ultimate? What is living well? How shall we know? Discovery begins with the real.
The real begins with experience—subjective awareness. Experience will be seen to be, effectively and at the root of being, the place of the real.
Therefore, we begin with analysis of experience. Some important concepts that follow are possibility, metaphysics, and the means of realization.
Possibility has two aspects, the world, and its boundary. Knowledge of the world is in science and experience, which are pragmatic. We will find knowledge of the boundary of the world to be logic, which will be found perfect in a sense explained later.
Metaphysics—the metaphysics of the work—is a demonstrated synthesis of the pragmatic and the perfect; it reveals the universe as realization of all possibility (i.e., ultimate). The metaphysics is metaphysics-in-action, experimental on its pragmatic side, and embodiment of reason.
Reason is the means of realization. What is valid in tradition is implicit in reason. To be on a path is to live in reason, not just to follow. Tradition is useful on the path but ought to be regarded experimentally rather than dogmatically and finally. Some useful traditions are as follows. From the west—science, humanism, and liberal religion. From the east—meditation as experiential transformation, yoga as support for meditation, and Advaita Vedanta as intuition of the ultimate (grounded in the development below).
What follows is brief—it telescopes an entire history of philosophy and reason. What is implicit from that history, but significant in the development is reviewed later.
Experience is subjective awareness. Not a denial, this affirms the real in intrinsic and instrumental terms. To see the real in terms of experience admits subjectivity but the acknowledgment is a way beyond mere subjectivity. Experience is the place and means of being, relation, meaning, knowledge, reason, and realization.
From the aim, we ask—what is it to live well; what is the ultimate? Noting limits of understanding, a first step is to ask what is real. From the limits, we ought to proceed with critical and imaginative care.
So, then, what is real? We experience a world but perhaps the world is not real. Experience itself is real—its contents may be questioned, but experience is given. To ask further of what is real is to ask what is behind our experience of the world of self, others, the environment, and of experience itself.
Let us spell that out carefully.
What is experience? The initial meaning of experience as used here, will be conscious or subjective awareness in all their forms. Experience itself is real for even though the world may have an illusionary character, an illusion is an experience.
Experience is also important because it will emerge as a key to all that is real and as the essential place of our being and the place and means of realization. We now turn to this development. It will, along the way, address those modern attitudes that see experience as at most an epiphenomenon to the truly real.
Experience is relational for there is experience-of-the-world, experience-itself, and experience-in-action. However, even experience-itself or ‘pure experience’ is internal relation and potential external relation.
Effectively, we remain in experience—for to confirm an experience of something as real, we appeal to further experience including reflection and what others say about experiences. When a concept refers to something, both concept and referent are, at least, places in experience—so experience is effectively the place of concept meaning (a concept and its possible referents), language meaning (language: sign systems associated with concept systems), and knowledge (meaning realized). If we see an existent as a concept-referent (object), we can say it exists when there is a referent, and that when there is no referent, it is nonexistent. Experience is an effective place of existence. When something is significant, it is significant in experience—so experience is the place or medium of significant meaning (the ‘meaning of life’). Experience is an effective medium of the essence of what we are—of our being (‘being’ is used informally here, a more formal use is introduced below). Experience is the place of realization.
We are now left with the question—is experience the only real? A classic approach to the real, perhaps dominant in western thought, is to seek something simple and enduring, a substance (e.g., matter, mind, form, relation, process, and word), of which the world is made. However, there is an immediate problem—is the substance real? So, we wonder—perhaps experience itself ought to be taken as the real. If, in so doing, we do not assert that it is the only or the final real, we make no commitment and so we cannot be wrong. But we may be incomplete.
So far, experience is real, but the world of common experience is just pragmatically real. That is, so far, the real is our best description of it.
We can do more than see just experience as the real. We know that there is experience because it is the very medium of the issue of knowing and not-knowing. That is, from the welter of experiences we have made an abstraction to experience itself. This kind of abstraction is one that focuses only on what is clearly not illusion or distortion is immediate and real, unlike the abstract as abstruse. Abstraction is a doorway to the real. But what of the rest of what we hold as the world and knowledge of the world—the welter of detail where we are not entirely sure that it is true knowledge? We do know that such knowledge has some purchase for it is our means to negotiate the world. It is pragmatic. What we will find, even though it is not yet apparent, is that a synthesis of the abstract and the pragmatic constitute an ideal approach to shared discovery and realization of the ultimate. Experience is the means of realization—the place of reason seen as understanding (direct knowing and feeling), inferring (and emotion), and acting. And this allows us to treat the world as real.
But why go through the trouble finding what we commonly regard as real to be real? It is because, in doing so, we have not only confirmed the real and removed doubt, but we have laid a foundation for knowledge that exceeds common knowledge in security and range. That is the world is revealed as greater than we understood it before. Further, if one values care in thought, the ‘trouble’ is rewarding; and there is, no doubt, an adaptive reason for finding it so.
Experience is the place and means (intrinsic as being and instrumental in becoming) of being, relation, meaning, knowledge, reason, action, and realization. To ground the way in experience is effective; it is not a denial of the world.
Being as existence is an intrinsic and instrumental foundation for understanding and realization. The universe is all being, it is not created, it has no effective cause, and has no exterior. It is the place and source of all creation.
A being will be a term for an existent (anything that exists); being will mean existence.
Thus, the use of ‘being’ here is not in the tradition of ‘being’ as higher, spiritual, essential, or special (which may be taken up under ‘kinds of being’). Here, being is very ordinary, even trivial, and this is a source of its power.
That a being is a concept-referent is implicit; in a given environment, e.g. our world, it is effective to suppress the concept and think of a being as a thing-in-itself; but when we want to move beyond common context, it will be essential to remember the concept-referent nature of being. Another context in which the concept may be suppressed or ‘forgotten’ is with sufficient abstraction. The context of existence without reference to kind of existence is just such an abstract context.
Within experience, being is effectively relational. We will find that the most effective description, at the very root elements of the world, beyond the abstraction of being-as-being, is one of being as relational and in process.
Power is giving or receiving effect—i.e., power is effective cause.
The hypothetical being that has no power, self or other, does not exist.
The measure of being is power.
The universe is all being.
The universe exists—it has being.
The universe has and can have no effective cause or for a cause or creator is another being—and for the universe there is no other being. It cannot even be ‘self caused’ for that presumes it to exist to create or cause itself.
The void is the absence of (manifest) being.
Existence of the void has not yet been established.
To create would be to create from the void for to create out of something is not to truly create. Therefore, to repeat, the universe does not and cannot self-create—it has no effective cause.
Motive to consider possibility. What possibility is. Fleshing out possibility—kinds of possibility and the universe of possibility. Realization of the universe of possibility would not violate science or our experience of the world. Possibility is unsuitable as cause of the universe. Necessity. Unconditional being is necessary being.
Since effective cause—everyday and physical or ‘scientific’ cause—is not the cause of the universe, it cannot be foundation for understanding of the universe. Since science and logic are twin elements of reason, let us therefore seek cause and understanding of the universe as a whole in logic—in the possible and the necessary. To seek causation in logic is contrary to our scientific paradigms and intuition of cause as effective cause; however, this ought not to prohibit us from considering a kind of cause as somehow located in logic. This will require to clarify the concepts of possibility, necessity, and logic.
A possible being is one whose concept does not prohibit its existence.
Let us flesh out possibility—the kinds of possibility and what is possible.
If the prohibition lies in the nature of the world(s) under consideration, the kind of possibility is real possibility. Examples of real possibility are physical (e.g., laws and theories), biological, and psychological (which includes sapient possibility). But these are not the greatest possibility, for even if the physics of our world prohibits existence here, the physics of another world may permit it.
Logical or conceptual possibility is that which is not prohibited by the concept itself. If the concept violates logic, there can be no existent (referent) in any world. Logical possibility is the greatest or most permissive of possibilities. Because our forms of expression are limited, our logics do not constitute (all) logic. Real possibility presumes and is bounded by logical possibility.
Logic is the requirement on systems of concepts as conceptual, i.e. without regard to particular reference, to have reference. That is, logic is the necessary requirement for existence.
What is the range of logical possibility? The logically possible universe is far greater than the empirical universe. Detail is spelled out in the section on metaphysics; here let us provide just a taste to show its significance. The logically possible universe has identity; it phases between manifest and nonmanifest; the manifest phases have limitless variety, and peaks; individuals merge with peak being and in so doing, inherit the power of the universe. Of course, it is not being claimed here that the logically possible obtains. However, a demonstration that it does indeed obtain is given in the section on metaphysics. Would the universe as logical possibility violate science or common experience? No—for science and its theories are empirical and are not known to obtain beyond the empirical boundary. And clearly, common experience lies within that same boundary.
Is it reasonable to think of possibility as cause and basis of understanding for the universe? If we are seeking to understand why the universe should exist, possibility is unsatisfactory, for to say the universe is merely possible is to allow that the universe might never have existed in manifest form. Since effective cause and possibility have been ruled out what remains is either (i) the universe is necessary or (ii) the universe has no cause, either effective or necessary. Let us therefore, perhaps against our intuition of cause, look at necessity as cause.
A necessary being is one whose concept requires existence—either explicitly or implicitly.
A being whose nonexistence is impossible is necessary.
An unconditional being is one whose existence has no exception. For example, if the universe were temporal, an unconditional being would necessarily be eternal.
An unconditional being is a necessary being.
Since unconditional existence makes no presumption, an unconditional being must manifest in all its possible forms (but not all forms need to co-manifest for the being to be unconditional).
Demonstration of the fundamental principle of metaphysics—i.e., that the universe is the greatest possible being. The universe and the individual. Objections and responses. The real metaphysics. The real.
The universe as the manifest universe and the nonmanifest or void is unconditional and therefore necessary.
Therefore, the universe must exist in both its possible forms—the manifest and the void.
The universe cannot exist unconditionally (e.g., eternally) as just one of manifest and nonmanifest.
The universe phases between manifest and nonmanifest.
The universe cannot exist only as one of its logically possible manifest forms, e.g. the empirical cosmos.
The universe must exist as all its logically possible forms.
Realization of an ‘illogical’ form is impossible.
The universe is the logically possible—the greatest possible being.
This is the fundamental principle of metaphysics or just ‘fundamental principle’.
Observe that the logically possible universe is far greater than the empirical universe. Let us now spell out the detail of the logically possible universe begun earlier, which we now know is the universe—
We arrive at the following system. Abstraction reveals the universe as the greatest possible, which spelled out as the possible forms is a pure metaphysics. Traditional knowledge, which is limited on traditional criteria, is an instrument of realization, and perfect from two criteria—(i) traditional perfection on a path is unnecessary (ii) it is an effective instrument in realization of the ultimate. This is or may be called a ‘pragmatic metaphysics’. The abstract and ultimate frames and illuminates the pragmatic; the pragmatic illustrates and paves the way to the ultimate. The synthesis, reason-in-action, is named the real metaphysics.
This metaphysics is a real synthesis in that it has implications for science, e.g. (i) the quantum vacuum is not the root of being (ii) spacetime, where it obtains, cannot be a framework for being but must be immanent in (part of) it (iii) the cosmos has ultimate grounding in necessity (iv) the mechanism of variation and selection from Darwinian evolution must have purchase beyond biology, for example in the formation of cosmoses, where it is not a necessary ‘mechanism’ but an efficient path to formation and a possible reason there should be preponderantly more observation of formed cosmoses in the universe than transients. Further, while this evolution is mechanistic in its initial phase, once intelligent, it may and therefore must, at least on many occasions, contribute with foresight to its own realization.
The earlier analysis of experience shows that the universe is effectively experiential. Given an initial position that understanding may be essentially limited, the concept (‘intension’) of the real begins our most effective understanding. However, we have seen that the referent (‘object’, ‘extension’) of the real is constituted of two parts (i) a perfectly faithful (and ultimate) framework for the universe and (ii) local and pragmatic knowledge. In terms of an ultimate value that emerges from this real (the object) the synthesis is perfect—therefore, it is not a corruption of this concept of the real to say, in the context of that value, that the real is that which is. In perfect faithfulness as a criterion for local knowledge we may say either (a) the real is a pragmatic notion or (b) there is no true real.
To repeat an earlier conclusion, the aim of being is the aim of the way of being.
The means of realization is reason, which is the real metaphysics, and which incorporates the ‘traditions’, which include science as well as traditional systems such as yoga, and their experimental and reflective interpretations and importations.
As noted earlier, experience (consciousness) is the place of realization in intrinsic and instrumental terms. It is intrinsic in that all realization occurs within experience—not ‘my’ experience or ‘yours’ but in experience which includes the merging of you and I in peak identity; it is instrumental in that it is within experience that, for example, scientific and technological transformation occur. From the intrinsic aspect, the means emphasize reflective reason and meditative practice; from the instrumental they emphasize science and technology as steps to physical transformation, exploration, and population of the universe.
The essentials of an every-day template are—rise early-dedication-affirmation, review, realize (reflect-write on the way and yoga-exercise-share), exploration, evening renewal and community, and sleep early.
Essentials of a universal template are—pure being and community, ideas (reflection, writing, publishing), becoming (nature with psyche; civilization, society, and community; artifact; universal and incompletely known), and Universal Being.
See the resources for detailed templates.
This work began with tacit questions on the nature of the real. There was no commitment to received ideas, but there was, effectively, an initial commitment to the thought that the most effective description of the world would be the most real. There was no commitment to an absolute real.
We found, via experience and abstraction, a system of knowledge of the real that synthesizes the absolute and the effective—pure and pragmatic knowledge that constitute the real metaphysics. The pure is absolutely faithful by abstraction and the pragmatic is ideal in its support of the pure. And, of course, the pragmatic by traditional criteria of faithfulness falls short of perfection. This suggests that though traditional criteria have their place, their relevance to our endeavors is limited—particularly, its assigned importance in modern thought is an overestimate.
As a further outcome, the universe was found much greater than usually held in secular and transsecular thought, that is, particularly in science, philosophy, and myth—even myth and other fiction interpreted symbolically. This outcome, part of the real metaphysics, may be largely credited to the choice of experience and being as fundamental and the implied rejection of foundation in substance—e.g., material, mind, or process. This is a positive outcome but, looking back, it may be seen as a lifting of the negative cloak of substance, which has obscured the real (these insights stem from the thought of Aristotle and Heidegger who, however, weighted down being with chains of their making).
It is foundation for my life and immersion in the world.
Works—this work is a summary of principles and main ideas. Conceptual and practical details are in the very in-process—the essential way of being and a journey in being-outline (longer, blueprint for the way of being to be written at a future date).
Knowledge resource—A system of human knowledge, reason, practice, and action.
Reading, influential thinkers, and web resources—the essential way of being has suggested reading, influences on the way, and the way of being website resources. The home page for the way of being is a resource for further material.
Some traditions—useful traditions are as follows. From the west—science and technology, humanism, and liberal religion. From the east—meditation as experiential transformation, yoga as support for meditation, and Advaita Vedanta as intuition of the ultimate (which has grounding in the real metaphysics).
The beings concerned shall be persons and civilizations, human or other, in this world or others.
One view of the account is history as linear.
In academic use, the study of history begins with written documents. Here, the meaning of ‘history’ is more general. It covers history as well as prehistory in their academic senses.
The way is continuous with history.
The world has patterned or formed and mere existence, stasis and change, determinism, and indeterminism. Novel form arises only when indeterministic change results in stable form.
Even where history, the path of the world in time, is blind, it may result in sapient beings, capable of design and future orientation and destiny as a degree of sapient influence on the future.
In the human world static form of tradition is balanced by valuing and seeking new form.
The aim of the way of being is living well on the way to shared discovery and realization of the ultimate.
Experience as subjective awareness is a first definition of ‘experience’; the concept of experience will subsequently be extended with regard to intension and extension. It is essential to distinguish experience in this use from the concept of non-conscious awareness and cumulative experience
An experience, a concept, idea is an instance of mental content—of experience.
In the following, ‘experience’ and ‘ideas’ or ‘an experience’ and ‘an idea’ will be used interchangeably.
There is experience for there is seeming experience and seeming is experiential. Experience cannot be entirely illusory for an illusion is an experience.
There is experience of experience for that is what seeming experience is; and it is via experience of experience that we can talk of it.
The term ‘an experience’ or ‘an idea’ is not limited to the colloquial use in which to have an idea is to have thought. Percepts, feelings, sensations, emotions, pains, thoughts, willings, and choices are all ideas.
Experiences or ideas are attitudinal (toward the world), seeming pure, and actionable (toward action in the world). However, ‘pure’ experience is internally and potentially relational. That is, experiences or ideas are relational.
In analytic philosophy, attitude, experience, and action have been regarded as distinct ‘axes’ of mind; here they all fall under experience, with attitude and action as aspects of experience.
References arise directly in perception and inference via projected patterns. While establishment of referents generally has only pragmatic reliability, with sufficient abstraction—i.e., elimination of distorted detail, referents are precisely known.
‘Referent’ is preferred because, unlike ‘object’, it is neutral.
Do experiences have references? This naïve position is that they may and often do. The naivety of the position is not in its truth but in the meaning of ‘reference’. When a proper meaning of ‘reference’ is rendered below, the truth of the naïve position will be apparent.
In greater detail—a pure object as an existent without reference to it in experience, is without meaning (this and the issue of whether there is perfect knowledge are distinct). A proper description of the real is that it is a composite of reference and referenced. Formally—
In greater detail—when an experience (concept) has a referent, we say that the experience-referent or concept-existent is real—or that it exists or, simply, that it ‘is’ or ‘is there’. Otherwise, we say that it is not real—that it is nonexistent.
But when the concept-existent is real, we often say, simply, that the referent or existent is real. This is facilitated in language when we associate a word or name with the concept. Thus if ‘tiger’ is associated with the concept of a tiger, tigers exist means that the concept of a tiger has referents.
This convenient shorthand results in an apparent paradox—what does it mean to say something is unreal? The resolution of the paradox is to see that the phrase ‘the referent is real’ is an abbreviation of ‘the experience-referent is real’. It is better, therefore, when talking of an object analytically, to think of it as the experience-referent, even though it is commonly convenient to think of it as just the referent.
This provides resolution of the question of whether existence is a predicate. In defective shorthand meaning of existence, above, since on that meaning ‘everything exists’, existence is an empty predicate but not a non-predicate. However, on the experience-referent or concept-referent meaning of existence, existence is a predicate with content.
To refer an experience must have iconic content, simple or compound. Concept meaning is an experience or concept and its possible referents. Conceptual knowledge is experience and its actual referents. If a part of the experience or idea is a simple or compound symbol (linguistic) associated with the icon, meaning and knowledge are symbolic (linguistic). The form of a compound symbol is part of the icon. The ground of formal and informal meaning is use—i.e. not external to the community of users; lexica and standard grammar are an aspect of use; the meaning of compound symbols derives from individual meaning, holist meaning, and use.
The icon is essential to concept and linguistic meaning. A symbol without an icon cannot refer. Thus, if traveling in a forest, in India, a guide exclaims ‘Sher’, Hindi speakers will feel fear, while others will be at most puzzled. For while ‘Sher’ translates to ‘tiger’, only the Hindi speakers associate ‘Sher’ with the visual image of a tiger.
That is true for in confirming an experience as bearing knowledge, one relies on further experiences (vision on touch, perception on conception, individual experience on signs and reports of experience of others).
Thus, ultimately, the world or real world seems to be the world of experience, which includes experience itself as referring and referent (the ‘subjective’ and the ‘objective’). This seeming will be seen to be the case—i.e., the world will be seen to be essentially relational. The phrase ‘external world’ connotes the referent side, and may, on the thought that there is an objective world, even exclude experience altogether.
Without the experiential side of knowledge, there is no knowledge, and effectively no object. Immanuel Kant’s ‘Copernican revolution’ that knowledge is generated from experience and the forms of experience but also limited by experience (and inference from experience) may be further enhanced—no experience, no effective object. That is, effectively, for sentient beings, objects are experienced objects, and the universe is the experienced universe. This will be still further enhanced (i) to drop the term ‘effectively’, there are no objects in the abstract, objects are experienced (and inferred) objects and (ii) even further, the essential entities of the world are experiences which are constituted of an experiencer or experiencing ‘side’, an experiential relation, and a content of experience (the ‘experienced object’).
That the essential kind of entities of the world is root experience in relation is foundational to Alfred North Whitehead’s Process and Reality (1929).
Significant meaning lies in a good balance between acceptance of and seeking to complete one’s self and world. That balance may lie at a single point on the seeking-acceptance continuum or over a distribution over it.
It is of course not being said that experience is the source of all meaning; that experience creates the world, or that there is no world; or that there is no object or objectivity. But these thoughts on experience question the nature of experience, world, and their relation, and of the meaning of objectivity and its possibility.
An objection to experience as the place of meaning—Are not intuition and the unconscious part of the place of meaning? Yes but intuition concerns the shape of experience and the unconscious is some combination of (i) part of experience yet not part of what Kant called the unity of experience and (ii) potential experience.
A description, interpretation of experience, or hypothetical metaphysics is a view of the world—of the real—that is self-consistent and consistent with experience.
I prefer ‘hypothetical metaphysics’ to ‘speculative metaphysics’ because the latter suggests suspension of criticism.
To be a description or interpretation is a necessary condition to be real—i.e. a necessary condition to be a valid and correct description.
A sufficient condition for reality of a description is perfect faithfulness, which, given limits, is not immediately forthcoming for human being. Therefore, a possible approach to sufficiency, is to rationally show perfect faithfulness for a description that meets necessity, above. Though it may seem unlikely, it seems more likely than to show faithfulness object by object. Indeed, we will find a rational approach to demonstrating the metaphysics of the way of being.
The following descriptions of the world are consistent with the non-transcendence of experience—
Are there spirits and spirit worlds? The analysis above allows and the view from being, below, will confirm that the issue of spirit is not of fact but of meaning. The conclusion is that there but one category of existence and the terms ‘matter’, ‘spirit’, and so on have definite meaning only from limited experience (including inferential experience).
That a description is consistent internally and with experience does not imply its truth, the question of truth of the descriptions is taken up in metaphysics of experience. Here we focus on what may be reasonable for our world.
Except, strict materialism all the descriptions are possible; strict materialism in our world with infusion of mind from another world is possible but it is ‘our world materialism’ not ‘universal materialism’. Solipsism and strict-materialism-with-infusion-of-mind-from-another-world are unlikely (such a materialism would be strict in mind not being associated with original matter but permissive in allowing interaction between substances).
The extended secular view seems to be the most parsimonious in relation to our common experience. In that sense it is the most reasonable; it is grounded and does not stretch the imagination with what might seem fantastic. From experience, this view seems the most reasonable.
World as field of being is consistent with experience; and the extended secular view is a special case. However, while the extra-secular scenarios painted are not ruled out by experience, to think them true seems a bizarre stretch from a secular perspective. It would also seem a stretch from religious perspectives except Advaita Vedanta of Indian Philosophy. If it were true, the greater part of the universe would seem to be inaccessible from the perspective of the local or empirical cosmos. To assert truth of world-as-field-of-being in a manner significantly more inclusive than the extended secular view, though it is possibly true, does not seem reasonable.
But what is reasonable depends on what we know. The issue of the nature of the universe will be treated in Metaphysics. There we will find an ultimate metaphysics constituted of a join of (i) a pure part that transcends any putative universal limitation of knowledge and (ii) a pragmatic part that is unquestionably colored by limit and perspective but is yet essential in realization of the ultimate (and which is perfect relative to being on a path to the ultimate and in being in some sense the best that we need).
The pictures in the descriptions consistent with experience are metaphysical. Except strict materialism, they are rational—which, here, means that they are consistent internally and with experience but not that they are required by reason—i.e. experience and inference from experience. Even our common-sense ordinary materialism is metaphysical. It is common sense because it does not posit more than is needed to be explanatory and consistent. What, then, is the point to world as field of being in the full sense described above? As far as ordinary experience and modern cosmology go, the universe may be for more than the empirical universe in extent, duration, and variety. But if we cannot ever know that what is the point to it? How could we have experience at any time beyond cumulative experience of that time? First, future experience may go beyond present experience and world as field of being encourages and prepares for it. Second, and more important, we see in the following sections that ordinary experience is greater than commonly thought. We will establish that we know being (existence) and the entire universe (all being), not in detail but in abstract and this abstraction is enough to establish world as field of being in the fullest sense. Though abstract, this knowledge illuminates our lives, our potential, and the universe. Further, this abstract but non instrumental knowledge, may be complemented by common experience, science, and reason to provide an instrument of exploration and realization of the ultimate. We now turn to that endeavor.
This section continues to employ concept-referent as existent. However, the concept is implicit. The concepts chosen for treatment are abstracted forms. Thus ‘being’ does not refer to the welter of detail in the world but refers only to what is in the world—i.e. whatever exists. From this abstraction, the content of the section is ontologically precise and inclusive. This is possible on account of the neutrality of being over substance. The neutrality is critical in seeing power as the measure of being.
An existent is that which is (i.e., is there); existence is the property of all existents.
Since it would specify nothing, the notion of a being without any concept (experience) of it whatsoever, is without meaning. It is the ubiquity of experience that erroneously leads to the notion of a being existing in pure isolation.
Therefore, to have an effect is necessary to being. For a being to be known, the effect must be in experience.
A nonexistent being is one for which there is no referent—i.e., for which the referent is null.
This is a trivial resolution of the problem of negative existentials.
To abstract shall be to remove from a concept, some elements that are distorted or capable of distortion.
With sufficient abstraction, a concept may be perfectly faithful to the referent. It may then be said that the concept-referent is perfect or that the referent is perfectly known. It is significant that the abstract in this sense is not unreal or remote but most real and most immediate. Later, it will be seen how concrete and not-so-perfectly-known ‘referents’ may be synthesized with the abstract in a metaphysical system.
From abstraction, being or existence, are perfectly known. Though being is a concept-referent, it functions as if objective. This property of being will be inherited by the concepts of power, universe, the void, and logic.
‘A being’ and ‘beings’ have the grammatical form of nouns; being has the form of a descriptor.
It is in the nature of being that such distinctions do not mark distinctions of existence. Rather, the distinction between ‘being’ and ‘beings’ (or ‘a being’) is one of concretion.
The term ‘being’ has been used for special kinds—e.g. ‘essence’, ‘higher being’, and the ‘Dasein’ of Heidegger. Here, it is used in a most inclusive sense. This use has been criticized as trivial and non-predicative. However, it is predicative in distinguishing nonbeing (nonexistence) from being. And the triviality is a source of its conceptual power.
Since, unlike matter or mind, being is not a special kind and since, unlike substance, it is not a posit, it has the potential as foundation of knowledge and the world. And we shall show how this foundation is to be developed.
The capitalized form, ‘Being’, will refer to a special being or beings depending on context.
The hypothetical being that affects no experience is effectively nonexistent
As an experience-reference, being is not just about the world as distinct from experience of the world (if such objectivity should obtain); it also makes explicit the deep unity of experiential beings and the world.
Other apparently different measures, e.g. knowing and experiencing, are cases of power.
The plural of ‘a being’ is ‘beings’; as a descriptor, ‘being’ does not signify number.
Given a being, all is the being itself; a part is any being contained by the given being; a proper part is a part that is not the being; the null part, or empty part, is the part that contains no beings.
There is a default, tacit, and widespread secular view or memeplex—the empirical cosmos is the universe. That this is known to be the case or that it follows from science or common sense is false. That it is held true is encouraged (i) by scientific and paradigmatic conservatism, (ii) in that paradigm is emergent normative reality, and (iii) in that the alternatives, especially under the paradigm, are the literal but literally false myths of religion and superstition. That the universe is limitlessly greater than the empirical cosmos is consistent with science and rationality. That it is limitlessly greater will be demonstrated in what follows.
There is one universe.
The universe is a being. For the universe, there is no other being. Therefore—
The universe has no creator.
Perhaps, it might be argued, self-cause is the effective cause of God. But that must be ruled out on the logical count that it presumes a self which is part of which is to be causally explained and the contingent count that it leads to endless regress (in this case the logical and the contingent are not distinct).
The universe contains all beings.
The definition does not imply that the void exists; we will see that there is precisely one existent void.
Later, when the concept of ‘law’ is defined, it will be seen that there are no laws in the void.
The void is not the quantum vacuum.
If or when the universe—or any being—is not the void, it is manifest. Otherwise it is nonmanifest.
Though it does not follow from the definition that the manifest universe should necessarily exist, the universe is either manifest or the void and as the join of the manifest and the void, it necessarily exists.
A being has nonbeing—does not exist—if the conception does not have a referent.
If what allows or prohibits a referent has to do with the nature of the world, the kind of possibility is real possibility.
The main commonly identified kinds of real possibility are sentient (primitive to sapient), natural (e.g. physical, living, and sentient), social, and ultimate. The ultimate includes the incompletely known.
If the allowing or prohibition has to do with the conception and only the conception, the possibility is logical possibility, i.e. realizability not subject to the constraints of real possibility. Logic is the constraint on concepts for logical possibility.
Whereas a natural impossibility cannot obtain only where the natural patterns in question obtain, a logical impossibility is universal.
Universal possibility, that which obtains in the universe, does not exceed logical possibility (for the universe, that which can and that which does obtain are identical).
A logic is an instance of logic.
A logic derives from a form of expression—examples are the propositional and predicate logics. Since our standard forms of expression are not known to exhaust the possible forms, our logics are not known to exhaust the ‘universe’ of logic. Richness may lie beyond the standard forms. Further, given that a symbolic calculus has countable formulas, extension to intuition may be needed for greater expressivity. What of emotion and feeling? Perhaps they have no place in formal logic, but this is not altogether clear. Even if not, emotion should influence reason and have some influence over the deployment of logic. The influence would not be part of the form of inference, but it may be among the objects of inference, and it may help determine where inference is pertinent and what to do about the inference.
Real possibility as described above presumes and is bounded by logical possibility.
A fact is a state of affairs that obtains (existence of a being is a prime example). A pattern obtains when the data to specify a being, e.g. a cosmos, is less than the raw data. Facts can be stated simply or in compound terms. Patterns are compound facts. Facts that are tendered as true are hypotheses. A law or theory is (our reading of) pattern Laws and theories are facts when restricted to the empirical but hypotheses when projected beyond.
In science, facts and patterns are found.
Examples of patterns are laws and theories; strictly, of course, laws and theories are our readings of patterns.
That a theory extends beyond the empirical boundary is hypothetical; within the boundary, it is factual.
The scientific method is what has been established so far as reliable in determining the facts and patterns of science; it is formal, informal, and institutional.
The patterns of nature we see, i.e. in our empirical cosmos, are the patterns of science for our empirical cosmos.
Whereas logics are universal, our sciences are known only to be local and not universal (strictly, while logic may be universal, the particular logics may have limits). It is consistent with our knowledge of science for whatever is logically possible to obtain (so far as consistent with that knowledge).
Perhaps the phrase ‘so far as consistent with that knowledge’ ought to be appended to the previous statement. However, that is not necessary if we recognize violation of known facts as logically impossible (note that this recognition does not imply that what obtains in one situation cannot obtain in another).
A scientific theory is hypothetical if projected beyond the empirical; otherwise it is factual in nature—i.e., correct or incorrect.
Regarding logic and science, there may appear to be facts and patterns. But what is a fact may harbor patterns and patterns may be seen as facts. There is a distinction, but it is relative to perspective.
An observation such as ‘the sun rose at 6:32:00 am’ may be questioned on account of (i) the meaning of ‘the sun rose at a certain time’ and (ii) the precision of the particular time ‘6:32:00 am’. A pattern ‘every day is 24:00:00 hours long’ may be questioned on account of (i) the pattern ‘every day’ and (ii) precision ‘24:00:00 hours’.
Some observations (facts) and patterns (theories) may be imprecise as well as uncertain.
On the other hand, some facts and theories are certain (e.g., there is a universe and, as will be shown later, the universe is the greatest possible being).
While science is about facts and theories that lack absolute certainty (but which have pragmatic validity), the term argument has been used recently to refer to facts and inferences from facts. Where the inference certain, the argument is called valid and where both fact and inference are certain the argument is sound.
Science can be brought under the umbrella of argument by extending the scope of the term to include pragmatic establishment of fact and pragmatic inference.
A special case of certain argument is necessary argument—where the fact is necessarily true, and the inference is certain.
With regard to the final observation in Science and logic, argument can be seen as just establishment of fact (i.e. facts, simple and compound).
A being is impossible if it is not possible (i.e., if the conception cannot have a referent)
A being is necessary if the concept must have a referent.
A being is contingent if it exists but is not necessary—i.e. if it could have not existed.
Kinds of impossibility and necessity correspond to kinds of possibility.
A being is necessary if and only if its nonbeing is impossible.
The existence of a being is unconditional if it obtains in all circumstances under which existence is possible in virtue of the meaning or defining terms of the being (and if such circumstances necessarily obtain).
If the existence of a being is unconditional, the being is necessary.
Since such necessity makes no presumption, it is and may be called unconditional necessity.
But unconditional necessity makes no presumption and there must therefore be symmetry of outcome.
For the universe to be only manifest or only void would be an asymmetrical outcome.
Necessity can only be satisfied if the universe phases between the void and manifestation.
A void exists.
We will see that there is one void.
The void is a being.
In terms of the definition of metaphysics below, we will see that we have already been doing metaphysics and therefore, that metaphysics is possible. In this division we will continue the development and render metaphysics potent.
Metaphysics is knowledge and means of acquisition of knowledge of the real.
This definition may be questioned on account of (1) possibility of such knowledge, (2) potency of this conception of metaphysics, and (3) a range of other conceptions of metaphysics, historical and recent. Let us respond to these issues.
Thus far, little has been said about what beings and kinds of being there are—whether entities, relationships, processes, qualities, tropes and so on are beings; or whether matter, mind, values, vital force, and spirit are kinds of being. In contrast, it has been seen, as an aspect of the power of ‘being’ over ‘substance’ that there is being and that there are beings.
However, for the concept of being to be useful, to be able to say something about being and its kinds is necessary and desirable. This suggests the power of substance over being. But this is a mirage. For substance is weighted with the fact that it is a projection of useful but limited, incompletely established, and almost certainly distorted ideas on the world (and note that the limits are not merely conceptual but also limit use). On the other hand, being allows (concepts of) the real to emerge—and for this purpose the projections are available for refinement and for pragmatic use.
The aim of metaphysics, now that some foundational concepts have been established, is to establish definite conclusions about being, kinds of being, and beings.
In this section, the aim is to demonstrate the fundamental principle of metaphysics—the assertion that the universe is the greatest possible being.
Abbreviations, ‘fundamental principle’ and FP will also be used.
It was seen in discussion of the universe that it cannot have an effective cause.
It is desirable to establish a sense of ‘cause’ in which the universe has a cause because it would (i) resolve the problem of why there is being at all (Martin Heidegger called this the fundamental question of metaphysics) and (ii) (likely) leverage establishment, clarification and resolution of significant problems of being.
At the end of the discussion of possibility, we saw that “If the existence of a being is unconditional, the being is necessary.”.
This suggests looking to possibility, necessity, and logic for another kind of cause. While this may seem alien to our intuitions and common and scientific notions of cause, let us not rule it out without further investigation.
Clearly, the universe is possible. Perhaps possibility may be seen as its cause. However, that is not satisfactory for mere possibility of existence is equivalent existence as accidental.
Recollect that (i) If the existence of a being is unconditional, the being is necessary and (ii) since the universe is the manifest universe and the void, its existence is unconditional and therefore necessary.
But unconditional necessity makes no presumption and there must therefore be symmetry of outcome. That is, if a being that manifests in more than one form is necessary, all its forms are necessary (but not all at once).
Unconditional necessity makes no presumption and therefore there must be symmetry of outcome. That is, if a being that manifests in one form is necessary, all its forms are necessary (but not all at once).
But the logically impossible is never realized.
Therefore, the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility, which is logical possibility.
However, since the realization of logical impossibility would be the void, it may be said that the universe is the realization of all possibility, logical and illogical.
It is a point of logic and not just of definition that there is one universe for if there were more, not one of the ‘universes’ would be the greatest.
Note that ‘greatest’ does not mean ‘best’. However, it includes best in any realizable or logically possible sense of the term.
The abbreviations, ‘the fundamental principle’ and FP, will also be used.
An alternative statement is—The universe is the greatest possible being.
Is there a greatest being? If not in an actual sense, then there is one in a process sense.
The greatest being is the greatest in either an actual or process sense, which is logically possible.
If the universe is in a void state, it will then realize all possible states including the void. Any one void may be seen as generating the universe and all voids. Effectively, there is one void.
There is one void.
Given a hypothetical state, the fundamental principle implies it exists if (and only if) the state is consistent in the sense of logic, i.e. it is not logically inconsistent.
The general method, then, is generation of hypotheses and testing by logic.
Does this mean we can entirely describe the universe? Here are some possible limits—
The fundamental principle is a focal point for the way of being—we have been building toward it and it is now a foundation of what is to follow: what may be realized by (human) being and the means of realization.
The consequences of the principle are conceptual—over the range of knowledge, and real—concerning living in the world and exploration of possibility and destiny. Consequences are developed in the remainder of the text. Here, as a ‘taste’ of the nature and power of the principle is a central set of implications—
That the universe is the realization of logic, shows it to be limitless. However, our understanding of this limitlessness is limited (it does not follow that it will remain limited). One limit noted above is that our forms of logic are limited in range—great and ultimate though the revelation of the fundamental principle may be in concept, what it reveals in our hands is limited and perhaps extremely so because of (i) the stated limits of the range of our logics and (ii) limits to our computational ability in terms of received logics.
The universe has identity (‘identity’ will be defined later); the universe and its identity are limitless—it is the greatest possible; there is one universe which cycles in loops of limitless duration, extension, variety, peak of being with identity, and dissolution. This power is inherited by all beings, including individuals; not separately from one another but in merging with it, especially in its peaks as that single identity; further, from the perspective of limited individuals, the process of merging, peak, and dissolution is ever fresh.
Thus, ultimate realization is given. However, efficiency and enjoyment are enhanced by intelligent, committed, and passionate engagement—this is the value or imperative engaging in realization. Effective realization is Apollonian and Dionysian (ordered and with abandon). Paths of realization have been worked out in our traditions. However, to be on a path is not to just follow a prescription but to also be involved (intelligently etc) with the development of pathways and negotiation of the particular trajectory. Pain is unavoidable; however, the best address of pain is a dual, so far as possible, of its address in the moment with resources at hand and engagement in a path of realization.
A source for the Apollonian and Dionysian is Friedrich Nietzsche, reissued from the German edition of 1872, The Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism, 1886.
Note that ‘Dionysian’ does not mean ‘destructive’; and that in terms of both enjoyment and achievement, each individual may find their own optimum balance.
We are developing metaphysics as knowledge and means of acquisition of knowledge of the real.
A distinction may be made as follows. With ontology as the study of being and existence as such, metaphysics is the study of the range of being and includes ontology.
The possibility of metaphysics has been questioned since Immanuel Kant showed that knowledge must begin in experience. However, we have not just shown metaphysics to be possible—we have developed and demonstrated a metaphysics. It might seem that this metaphysics goes beyond experience, but it does not for it is based in abstracts—being, logic and so on—from experience which are still experience. As it is based in sufficient abstraction, it is pure metaphysics in the sense that it is perfectly faithful to its referents but also seemingly removed from the concrete.
In this section we extend the pure to incorporate a pragmatic metaphysics—one of concreteness as the result of insufficient abstraction for perfect faithfulness—and, in doing so, we will analyze and partly reform the notion of knowledge.
We have shown metaphysics to be possible, actual (the fundamental principle and its use), and practical even though not concrete. Via the metaphysics we have shown the universe to be the greatest possible and that we—all beings—inherit and realize this greatest possibility.
The fundamental principle implies that the universe is the universe of logic. While the entire universe is empirical (in its abstract description in terms of being, universe, and possibility), only the empirical cosmos is concretely empirical (when the abstract is complemented by concrete sciences and so on). How may we, beings in a limited and perhaps temporarily causally isolated cosmos, negotiate the entire universe? First, we do not expect to accomplish this in an instant, even if possible, per FP, negotiation is a process. Second, received human knowledge, which includes development and method, partially perfect, is an instrument of local negotiation. Second, we have seen, in Experience > The world, two possible ways of realization of the ultimate: the intrinsic and the instrumental. But now, per FP, these possible ways become real ways. And we have knowledge of these ways—the intrinsic in this life is exemplified by meditation, contemplation, Christian Mysticism, yoga (and perhaps by modern western psychology); the instrumental is exemplified by modern science, medicine and medical technology (including psychiatry), and perhaps by humanism and modern theology. But, one asks, are these not limited? Indeed, they are limited relative to local concepts of perfection. However—
The concrete is what we have relative to ultimate realization. There is no better (regarding received knowledge and technology as in process). While the fundamental principle and its consequences are perfect in the sense of faithfulness, our local knowledge is pragmatically perfect relative to realization.
The fundamental principle and its consequences, which was named pure metaphysics, and local pragmatic knowledge, which may be called pragmatic metaphysics, join as a single system, which will be called the real metaphysics or just the metaphysics, and which is perfect in its intrinsic sense which is relative to ultimate realization.
What of the problems and issues of living in this world? They are not overcome in the sense that there are and will be conflict, pain and so on. However, the real metaphysics illuminates our world with its conflicts—and its good—and gives it greater meaning. The problem of pain was addressed in Significance and consequences of the fundamental principle. Problems of this world are addressed in The Way > Templates > Every-day template and Universal template. Being on a path to the ultimate is living well in this world.
Subject to stated limits, the real metaphysics is a perfect, dual yet unitary system of knowledge; and it is associated, subject to the same limits, with perfect, dual yet unitary, epistemology and values.
Though experience is not transcended—the universe is experiential—there is objectivity in individuals transcending their limited selves and merging with the universe in its ultimate phases; and there is local objectivity in given individuals and cultures transcending particular states of knowledge and culture. Objectivity, seen locally, is a process. In the ultimate, objectivity is an object (of essence, neither entity nor relation nor process).
The method of application is twofold. The two aspects below are used interactively.
The aim, here, of critical doubt is to move via criticism and imaginative reconstruction, from uncertainty to reliability—which may be pragmatic reliability, pragmatic certainty, or perfect certainty according to what is may be achieved and is appropriate to context.
In our world we experience identity of objects and selves (we continue to defer definition of identity). This is a fact even if what constitutes identity is not clear. Further, from FP, identity needs no explanation to be founded. However, in Cosmology > Identity, extension, duration, and mechanism, identity will be given some foundation.
Here, we recapitulate some conclusions about identity and name some modes of identity.
In Advaita Vedanta, the individual self is named ‘Atman’; the universal self ‘Brahman’ may refer both to the universe as a block (A block universe and indeterminism) or its peak. According to Vedanta, Atman is Brahman. This has been shown as part of the real metaphysics.
From FP, all beings are equivalent in that any one being can transform to any other (which may be difficult to see from the perspective in our cosmos and to achieve with only the resources of the cosmos). There are no ultimate and fundamental ‘elements’ of being.
Paths to Brahman, their imperative, problems of pain and ecstasy, and enjoyment were discussed in Significance and consequences of the fundamental principle. Elaboration will be given in The Way.
Sources for this topic—experience in this document, ..\topic essays\experience and the dimensions of the world.html (doc).
Metaphysics of experience is (i) literally, metaphysics (ontology) of experience and (ii) existence as experience and its range.
Experience > The world developed metaphysical pictures of our world and the universe consistent with our experience of it. The development was based in the nature and content of experience. We therefore call that development part of a metaphysics of experience.
From that foundation, the concepts of being, universe, and so on were developed and shown to be real in that they had objects; implications were developed—the fundamental principle and the real metaphysics.
It is neither restrictive nor merely hypothetical (or merely speculative) to assert—metaphysics is metaphysics of experience.
In Newton’s dynamics force (interaction, relation) generates motion (change) of particles (things). This suggests an object – relation – change view of the world.
However, from analysis of experience there are no objects in isolation; rather what always presents is the experience and the experienced. That is, experience as relation is effectively both relation and related as one. The field of being paradigm, which is the most general, and therefore, from the real metaphysics, most complete description of the universe (and therefore most real) as changing, is a relation – change description. This is supported though of course not proved by quantum field theory.
Experience and process and its root, relation-process, are a better description of the real than object-interaction-process. They are simultaneously an ultimate ontological and ultimate significant-experiential real.
However, another description of the real, ultimate in that it covers all being in abstract, frames the entire real, and is without error, is the real as the greatest possible. Within that framework, the pragmatic or concrete achieves the real by being open rather than rigid. Relation-process as real is a current concrete ultimate—it is pragmatically certain that exceptional worlds are without significance. The block universe is another concrete ultimate; and if it suppresses explicit and universal measures of sameness-difference it is ultimate.
Our world is embedded in a universe that is—has valid interpretation as—a field of being. It is the greatest possible field of being.
The field of being is effectively experiential in the limited sense of experience as sentient; it is experiential in the sense in which experience is extended to the root of being.
The hypothetical being that affects no experience does not exist.
Given that strict materialism cannot obtain, the possibilities for our world are (a) The world is just ‘my’ experience (solipsism) (b) the extended secular view.
Now since solipsism is logically possible it does obtain for some worlds. Note, of course, that world as field could be seen as the world of a mega-intellect; but that is not what solipsism says—it says that the world is the world of the experience of a very ordinary intellect. Still, the best we can say for our world from the metaphysics, is that extended secularism is most likely and therefore it is practical to behave as though it obtains (with a slight reservation on the account that it does not obtain). Are there ways to prove solipsism false—and not just improbable—or not just false but incoherent in assuming what it denies? It seems that there are, but they would need to assume some condition about the nature of the world or the self. That is an interesting and philosophically interesting project, see Solipsism and the Problem of Other Minds, but it is not sufficiently pertinent to the way to take up here. We can assert however, that while we have learned about the world from the solipsist challenge, there is, as discussed above, little reason to consider it a serious description of our world.
The second concern regarding our world is whether it is described by a limited extended secular view or whether what obtains is the full world as field view. The answer, justified by the metaphysics, is that it is a matter of time frame and perspective. For secular purposes on ordinary time frames, the limited view may be taken to obtain. However, on an extended time frame the full field view is the true one. But even in a secular world the full field view is essential (i) in knowing our place in the universe (ii) if we want to realize or just begin to realize the ultimate starting in this life in this world, especially if we want to undertake a project of realization.
From analysis of experience and the real metaphysics, the universe is a field of being, which may seem bizarre if our world is taken as paradigmatic for the universe. However, our world is not paradigmatic for the universe and the universe is a field of being—provided, of course, that the experiential aspect may be zero to minimal in some phases. In the universal field of being there will be (i) the bizarre and effectively infrequent solipsist and pure strict materialist phases, (ii) phases such as our world which, per common experience and understanding, seem materialist in nature and in that we are essentially finite organisms delimited by body, birth and death, (iii) greater worlds in which we find our individual selves part of greater organisms that transcend individual death and are able to see over multiple lives, (iv) universe as field of being that contains the previous items and for which there is a phase of Brahman that is the aggregate and more of all individuals from all worlds over the entire block universe.
From the real metaphysics and the discussion of experience, we may make conclusions about categories and elements of being.
The categories of being are high-level descriptions or kinds that, from their realism, enable and encourage negotiation of the world and, so, of realization of Being. We will also use the word ‘dimensions’ for categories.
That the universe is experiential has been suggested in Experience > The world where persuasive yet not conclusive arguments were given. That the universe is experiential follows from the real metaphysics as explained above in Implications for experience > Metaphysics of experience and Conclusions for our world. Experience is the single essential dimension or pure category of being. Since the void is equivalent to the manifest, we might say that nothingness is the category or that there are no categories at all. However, since experience is the essential place of being and significance, it is a convenient reminder of the nature of the essence of our being to name experience (Brahman) as the one pure category.
The category of experience may be approximated as experiencer (self, Atman), experience as experiential relation (e.g., perceptions, feelings, conceptions…), and experienced (objects, the world) and change. Experience as category is world as field; correspondingly, the division is approximate and corresponds to the approximation of world as beings whose interactions are fields.
In the (our) empirical cosmos, the basic entities of physics may be taken as elements of the physical world. Are there elements of being? From FP, any simple is divisible and equivalent to other simples and to all being and beings. There are no ultimate elements.
The pragmatic categories will be useful rather than perfect in the sense of faithfulness (but perfect in the sense in The real metaphysics).
Such categories will have a cultural stamp. This is not an impediment to realization and living well as noted earlier and subject to conditions noted.
Experience has form; form has extension and is (part of) body; frozen form is possible and occurs (temporarily) but is without significance except as transitional; but significance requires understanding which, even understanding as given, is process which occurs in duration; but from FP, process is necessary (perhaps there is being without extension and duration but at best its significance is infinitesimal); from FP, process requires mechanism; however, where there is mechanism, a paradigm of it is relation or interaction mediating or relating form and change.
We state the categories with minimal explanation.
Natural (relatively unconstructed); the natural contains the universal category of experience. Here are the natural kinds. Physical (elementary). Living (complex, built of the physical in that no further elements seem necessary). Experiential (mind, psyche as object, perhaps always in association with life—at least in its known advanced forms; the physical and the elementary experiential are two aspects of the natural). Psyche may be seen as a separate category.
Social (group, relatively constructed), civilization. Here are some aspects of the social. Culture (knowledge, value; neutrality to distinction between knowledge and value) … language and communication, generation, transmission. Structural or organizational (groups)—small and naturally formed (the individual, family, community) and large and institutional grouping (political, economic, technological, military, academic or research and education, artistic and religious).
‘Incompletely known’ is preferable to ‘unknown’ for given a self-consistent predicate, there is a corresponding referent.
Since the experiential appears among the natural, the category of psyche functions as concept and object.
The pragmatic categories and elements of experience are defined along three axes. (1) Attitude-pure-action. Modern philosophy of mind recognizes these as aspects of mind. Here we see that attitude and action are relational aspects of experience. The pure is not truly pure for it involves internal relation and is potential relation. Thus, philosophy of mind recognizes what we have already seen—i.e., that experience is relational. (2) Inner-outer. (3) Free-bound continuum. (4) Intensity continuum.
The pragmatic categories are—
Relatively bound (to world as object). Spatial (form)—inner (primitive feeling, primitive motor action without autonomy; and aggregate feeling and action) and outer (sense, action on the world); distinction between the inner and the outer is pragmatic but categorially artificial. Temporal (change)—intuition of time, recall (memory). Quality—marked by mode of relation or interaction, which identifies the kinds of quality; quality is marked by sense of being like something; it lies on a negative-neutral-positive continuum; and an intensity continuum. Primary properties are those qualities that can be associated strictly with the object, at least for pragmatic purposes.
Note—perception is the result of perceptual intuition (i.e. in the sense of Immanuel Kant: capacity for formed experience of the world, informed by concept formation), action is the result of intuition of action (capacity for forming action, informed also by concept formation). Thus thought-emotion (concept formation) partakes of or is in a continuum with sense and action, with the inner and the outer.
Relatively free (including concept formation). Body—inner—feeling with degrees of freedom. World—outer—iconic and symbolic concepts; and conceptual intuition or capacity for concept formation (emotion is a join of conception and free and primitive feeling). Spatiotemporal—concept of space; concept of time, past – present – future and will and sense of purpose; concepts of science, philosophy, and the transcendent. Aesthetic—syntheses of the ‘elements’ that speak to the ‘being’ of the individual or person. Synthesis—‘mind’ in an expansive sense—perception, thought, concept formation, and feeling (emotion) come together in realism regarding the world.
In the complete version of the way, explicit development of the metaphysics is extensive and placed in a dedicated section.
Here, the development is as useful in realization and occurs where in sections where appropriate.
Development of metaphysics is
The method of development is the method of the metaphysics, formal and informal, developed and developing.
Sources for the topics are the content of the way so far and as it emerges.
The topics are (i) as developed in this text without a view to system (ii) systematically enumerated and developed in the longer version of the text—the way of being.
Experience and the sense of the real do not seem to determine the real. That is, the real seems to be underdetermined by experience and so there are, at least seemingly, multiple descriptions of the real—interpretations of experience—that are self-consistent and consistent with experience. Thus, there is doubt about which, if any, description, or class of descriptions is true. Resolution of such ambiguity is an approach to the real.
Some apparently different descriptions are mutually consistent while others are not; and since the real is ultimately a function of experience and its range, mutual consistency includes empirical consistency. Attempting to resolve the situation so that one description or class is revealed as true is a way to investigate the real. It is doubt as a method. Let us develop it, attempting to do so systematically.
Rene Descartes is the main modern western philosopher associated with doubt as a method (certainly there was philosophy of doubt in ancient Greece). We can formulate doubt as a method as follows—given phenomena, there may be multiple interpretations of the underlying real (including that the phenomena are the real). Typically, there is a common, seemingly reasonable interpretation. The other interpretations may be ‘bizarre’ in being, say, logically possible but at least seemingly unreasonable on other counts, e.g. the common view of the world or conflict with physics.
A first example, related to Descartes’ cogito, is one we have already considered—perhaps the world is just my experience as an interpretation of the phenomenal view of the world as selves in an environment. What we found is that there are a number of seemingly possible interpretations which include the phenomenal view; that of these all but strict materialism were logically possible; that the most likely situation was that our world is the extended secular world (which is an initial resolution of the question of solipsism) situated in a larger world as field. The real metaphysics confirms that that is probable with open questions being the means or mechanism by which and the time scale on which the extended secular opens up into the field. But why is it only probable? It is because it is logically possible that my phenomenal world is just the world of my experience. Such seemingly unlikely worlds must exist in consequence of the real metaphysics. But what is the degree of probability? To answer this fully, we anticipate the cosmological argument that ‘normal’ worlds preponderantly populate the universe while ‘bizarre’ worlds are rare, perhaps to the extent of that the probability of a given world being bizarre is zero (in infinite populations, probability zero does not imply impossibility).
The argument above did not leave us with a single possibility. There are arguments that purport to eliminate the solipsist interpretation—for example, as seen earlier, showing solipsism to be incoherent. Such arguments do not proceed from logical necessity but presume something about the world. For example, Wittgenstein argued that ‘experience cannot be private’, which is entirely reasonable but presumes already the way in which experience is normative and not just emergent by accident (which is improbable but logically possible).
Note however, that ‘the world is my experience’, does not eliminate, the body, for the experience has form and part of that form may be called and is effectively the body. ‘Environment’ and ‘other minds’ may, similarly, be called and are effectively what they are commonly what they are thought to be. What is different, in the bizarre world of solipsism, is the reality but not the effective reality.
What have we learned from the example? We have learned about (i) our world—it is most certainly normal, (ii) it is not strictly material even if it is for many purposes, (iii) it is essentially experiential (with a material side), (iv) it is embedded in a much larger and variegated field of being universe (with identity). Note that of course the reasoning involved more than just the doubt that perhaps the world is just my experience.
We can formulate the method in positive and systematic terms.
The dilemmas are defined in terms of the least or most pessimistic option.
The question is one of Immanuel Kant’s three questions “What can I know? What should I do? What may I hope?” that, according to Kant, all philosophy ultimately aims at answering. But “What shall I do?” necessitates the others, at least pragmatically. Here are three related dilemmas.
Cosmology is study of the extension, variety, duration, and history of being and beings in the universe. We consider three divisions of cosmology (i) general cosmology is the object of the fundamental principle—i.e. of general hypotheses subject to logic, (ii) cosmology of form and formation, which appeals to the three paradigms of the pragmatic metaphysics below, and (iii) modern physical cosmology.
Cosmology is essentially metaphysics but the focus in cosmology is application and further development of the principles established under ‘metaphysics’.
The method of cosmology is that of the real metaphysics, rendered explicit for cosmology. Here is an elaboration of the method in Method for the metaphysics:
The most general application to general cosmology is found in The fundamental principle of metaphysics > Significance and consequences of the fundamental principle; Pure and pragmatic categories or dimensions of being; Development of metaphysics; and Doubt as a method—does experience determine the real?. Except for some developments in The Way, below, this essential version of the way of being will not further develop general cosmology.
Identity is sense of sameness of self or object.
The most elementary experience is sameness-difference. Identity is sense of sameness (of beings including self). Duration marks difference in but not of identity (sameness with difference). Extension is marked by difference of identity.
The distinction between the difference that marks extension and the difference that marks duration is not always definite. Form requires extension; experience requires duration; thus, there are extension and duration; FP requires them. Quality is marked by mode of interaction. Though form can be constant—as if eternal—in some worlds, from FP there can be no form without formation. FP implies that change need no interactive dynamics. Where there is dynamics, relations or interactions among forms are correlated with change in form (which may be interpreted and perhaps assigned as causal); dynamics may arise spontaneously, per FP; however, in Adaptive systems it is seen that it is likely to arise from and inherit parts of its nature from adaptive formation. Dynamics, mechanics, or mechanism is change in form, mediated by relation (while classical dynamics in physics is deterministic, the concept of dynamics here is not restricted to the physical and not essentially deterministic).
FP implies that from a given state, it is not necessarily the case that any particular other state should arise (e.g. as specified in a mechanics). The world is essentially indeterministic. But ‘essential indeterminism’ is not the same as ‘random’. If no structure arose, some states would be ruled out and the world would not be entirely indeterminist. For newness in a formed world there must be some indeterminism which is responsible for transition between stable forms; and between one state of knowledge and a higher state—via hypotheses whose formation have an indeterminist element (this is what creativity is and how it is possible).
Space and time are measures of extension over identity or form and duration over change; space and time, extension and duration, are part of and immanent in large scale identity or being.
Because, as noted above, the distinction between the difference that marks extension and the difference that marks duration is not always definite, extension and duration—i.e., space, time, and being are interwoven. While the void is absolutely indeterministic, form has residual indeterminism. These are, tentatively, sources of mechanism—the relativistic and quantum—in modern physics.
While the fundamental principle implies limitless variety of formed systems (beings including cosmoses), it does not tell us about mechanism of formation, or populations of kinds of form. The fundamental principle implies that no mechanism is necessary but also that there will be mechanisms of formation. Mechanisms will have implication about kinds, stability, and populations of form.
Let us begin with an alternate demonstration of the fundamental principle—one that will enhance understanding of cosmology (and confidence in and understanding of the principle itself).
To motivate the demonstration let us ask what will happen if the manifest universe enters into a void state. Would there be laws of nature? First ask what laws are. We think of the laws, e.g. Newton’s, as symbolic formulations that describe patterns that are universal over the so far empirical cosmos. In fact, though, the laws are our descriptions, perhaps approximate, of patterns (a pattern, by the way, obtains when the information to specify the state of a system is less than the raw information). The real thing behind the law is the pattern and the pattern is part of the being of the cosmos and so the universe. That is the patterns have being—are beings. Derivatively, the laws have being (in the sense that a law is the concept for which the pattern is the referent). Now the void is the being that has or contains no beings. Therefore, there are no laws in or of the void. Now, if there is a possible being that does not emerge from the void that would be a law of the void (for it is a constraint, and a constraint is a law and pattern). Therefore, all possible beings emerge from the void and the universe would be the greatest possible (if it ever entered a void state). But we do not know that the universe enters a void state. So, let us take another look at what the void state is. It is exemplified by the universe in a nonmanifest state—but what is it?
The nothingness that is the universe, 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.
Demonstration—and now the property of the void that it has no laws implies that the universe is the greatest possible.
Every possible cosmos emerges from the void.
But FP applies not only to the forms, it applies also to processes (which in the abstract are forms)—every possible cosmos emerges in every possible way.
Thus, there are one step processes; processes with mechanism; and processes that take ‘tortuous’ paths.
Picture the void in give and take equilibrium with the manifest universe. Cosmoses emerge and collapse. Particles and fields emerge and collapse. But when the emergent is, by chance, stable it exists for a greater duration that the unstable whose being is transient.
FP, implies this picture obtains
But is there a mechanism?
An adaptive process is one that is incremental in small steps rather than saltational (in a single step or large steps where a step is ‘large’ if it involves a significant proportion of the form of the formed structure—i.e. the saltation or jump does not trace out a path where each step is a recognizable variation upon the previous).
There is more to an adaptive process than above. When the incremental step does not result in a stable (or near stable) form, it is transient—it decays. What determines near stability? It is near symmetry. Therefore, stable increments are uncommon. But because they are stable, they persist and (i) are pathways of emergence of complex forms and (ii) are or may be more numerous than the transients.
What is the mechanism of emergence? In life it involves genetic and phylogenetic form in relation, reproduction with inheritance and variation of genetic form, and selection of adaptive phylogenetic form. There is no corresponding established account for the mechanism at the level of cosmological systems. But in the literature, there are some tentative mechanisms such as Lee Smolin’s tentative probably currently not testable ideas on emergence of the cosmos.
There is another reason that formed cosmoses should be more populous from a perspective of intelligent life—intelligence is far more likely as embedded in formed systems than in random occurrence.
What are the competitors to adaptive systems? Random origins and creation. Random origins are far less likely, and creation has been ruled out earlier (a) entirely for the universe (b) most likely for cosmoses.
Is adaptive systems theory necessary or probable or just another mechanism? As seen, it is not necessary, and we have seen it more probable than randomness, but could there be other also probable mechanisms? The critical issue is how novel form arises. If form is to be novel change must include indeterministic change, for in deterministic change the new form is already given in the old. But if it is change is merely indeterministic (a) the outcome is not generally formed and (b) there is no tracing of form with each increment clearly derivative of the previous but the final not clearly derivative of the initial. What is the process described in #b? It is the process of form traveling through what are called fitness landscapes. It is analogous to using valleys, contours, and open areas when traveling in an undeveloped area; while merely indeterminist process is analogous to random walk through dense forests, across hills, down deep ravines without regard to how the contours determine a traversable path. Given a requirement of novel formation and that the path of formation should be traversable, adaptive systems emerge as probabilistically necessary.
What has been learned from this qualitative account? (1) An adaptive systems mechanism is the likely origin of most formed systems in the universe (2) That intelligent life be in and see otherwise formed or non-formed is a lower order of probability than in #1 (3) Formation is most efficient when a mix of indeterminism and selection determined by near symmetry and stability.
The fundamental principle implies one state of one being, for example an individual—a person or a cosmos—or the universe, does not determine any other state (of any being). That is, all experience of determinism is contingent. In this sense the universe is absolutely indeterministic (it is also absolutely deterministic in that all logically possible states manifest).
In current physics and philosophy, the block universe is the universe and its history up to the present time. Every bit of physical reality—particles, fields—has a state at some time; the block view is the collection of trajectories of those bits in time viewed in whole over time, up to the present; the complication that there may not be a single correlated universal time is ignored. A related view called eternalism is like the block view but is over all time, past, present, and future. What distinguishes those views from ordinary views of the universe traversing time and from one another is that each of these views is thought by its proponents to define the real.
The block universe here will be the eternal universe without claiming or rejecting candidacy for the real.
It is regarded as one possible description and, as far as its definition is concerned, no more than one possible description. My view is that assigning realism at outset is misguided even if meaningful, and that generally, given alternatives consistent with experience, what is posited as real is more about (a) perspectives determined by the nature of the perceiver or (b) ideology or (c) simplicity (assuming that posits or descriptions that contradict experience or are internally inconsistent have been eliminated); and not that the issue of the real is without significance, but that it should be allowed to flow from experience rather than to be imposed on it.
The block universe will have two further differences from eternalism—(i) it is absolutely indeterministic (ii) universal time is not assumed. However, change is ‘real’ and time emerges as a measure of change.
Under absolute determinism some determinism and some causation will occur, but it is not universal (causation may be both classical as well as action at a distance). Further beings are not just the ‘material elements’, which are included, but include sentient and sapient beings and cosmoses which, as such, generally have beginnings and endings—births and deaths. The cosmoses have degrees of temporary isolation from the rest of the universe (on time scales comparable to the life span of the cosmos). Thus, relative to a sentient being in a cosmos, while the state of the cosmos is or may be a fact, there is no fact that is the state of the universe. It is thus that a being in a cosmos has the possibility of true evolution into the universe (and in their own cosmos as the result of its residual indeterminism). On the other hand, for ultimate being, Brahman, the universe is a fact which from its perspective may be experienced as simple but from our perspective is compound).
How does a limited being in a limited cosmos connect experientially to being across the universe; and how does it merge with ultimate being? If the universe were deterministic the histories of different beings in time would generally be distinct—they would not intersect; a given being would have one history. In the indeterministic universe, for a given being at a given time there are multiple histories merging with it and multiple histories emanating from it. These multiple histories of what are experienced as different beings merge with and separate from one another; and it is thus that apparently different beings are not different from the perspective of the block. Limited beings emerge from a background which may be said to have disposition or potential for such emergence; and they, the limited beings, diffused back into that background in death—death of the individual or of the cosmos. That background contains the dispositions or potentials which constitute potential memory across repeated realizations, and which are actual memory in higher beings, e.g. beings that are in effect collections of beings such as human beings. The peak is Brahman which knows and is all beings; and it knows all in part because it is all.
The block universe is a valid description in which multiple histories converge to and diverge from a being, e.g. an individual, over a lifetime. Via these histories, beings merge with others into higher forms and the one highest form, Brahman; from which there is dissolution; and again, peaking; regarding which there is endless variety.
It is often argued by modern philosophers and scientists that modern physics and cosmology are near to a final physics and cosmology.
However, both physics and cosmology are empirical. In physics the theories are summary descriptions of almost all known phenomena, but it is not known by physics that the known phenomena are at all close to all the phenomena. Similarly, modern cosmology is a projection from observation in the present back in time according to modern physics of observation and is there is thus no reason to doubt its purchase over the empirical cosmos (except of course that some doubt is always good). But it is not known that the empirical cosmos is at all close to the universe.
It is often argued on two counts that the empirical cosmos is essentially the universe. First, we have explored close to all niches of the universe. But this argument is flawed for we do not know that there are no other niches and the reason that we think there is none is that our tacit default view of the universe is strongly influenced by what we have seen and our theories which are based on what we have seen. A second argument is more particular. It says that the big bang cosmology is a solution of field equations of physics (the quasi-classical combination of general relativity and quantum field theory) and on that solution there is no time before the initial singularity. The mistake in the argument is twofold. (1) The solution is a model and almost certainly does not go back to time ‘zero’. (2) Even if the solution is numerically precise and conceptually captures the reality of the cosmos, it does not follow that it is not embedded in a larger reality for which there is a before and an outside.
So, we should doubt the arguments of the philosophers and science even if the science is all that we know. Our position, then, would be that perhaps may be the big bang is all there is, but it is quite possible, i.e. consistent with what we know, that the universe is far greater.
And we have demonstrated the fundamental principle—the universe is the greatest possible.
Under the questions of what knowledge is, how it joins to action and feeling, what are its elements (e.g. perception, thought, inference), what are its criteria and justification, there is an entire history, sophistication, a multiplicity and multiplying of terms which include understanding, reason, argument, logic, observation and measurement (establishment of fact), and more.
Two broad conceptions employed by Immanuel Kant were understanding and reason.
For Kant, understanding, was direct knowing, its means, and justification; reason was inference from understanding to further knowledge.
Kant held understanding to be fundamental. With this we do not disagree.
However, we will use one term to refer to the entire field in question, to the multiplicity of valid ideas, to Kant’s two important divisions. We will use the term reason. Seeing process and result as one, reason shall include developed valid knowledge as well as the means of development.
How shall we delineate reason? It is delineated as the real metaphysics and its continuing development. It calls upon all elements of established reason and moves forward by critiquing and improving upon all elements. It is reflexive in applying to itself as a whole as well as reflexively in the interaction of its elements. Reflexivity requires intuitive, descriptive, and analytical phases. It includes determining effective use of reason in both delimited and open issues is part of reason.
It is understood, of course, that via experience as relation, the metaphysics already has its umbrella over action, feeling, and emotion. For limited beings, the context of action is incompletely known; this is a limit from a perspective that values ‘precise rational action’; however, it is not a limit from the perspective of the pure-pragmatic real metaphysics.
How shall we determine contexts of action?
Efficient reason necessarily employs multiple frameworks, from the abstract-broad to the concrete-detailed (as in the real metaphysics), from the universal to the local, from the group to the individual. According to phase of reason, the concern of the individual both includes and suppresses their role in the process. It is both neutral and sensitive to the issues of control, error, and persuasion. To specify further is unnecessary except to work reflexively with cases (examples) and what is learned from them. The dimensions of the world are relevant as well as their modern sciences—i.e., logic, mathematics, dimensions of the world (psyche, nature, society, and the universe—i.e., metaphysics), and systems may be employed as adjuncts.
If we accept quality of life as an ultimate value then (i) living well in this world is of high value, (ii) from the real metaphysics, being on committed path to the ultimate, approached with the whole being—inclusive of cognition and emotion—is of high value, and (iii) therefore, it is of ultimate value to live well on the way to shared discovery and realization of the ultimate.
Note that (i) and (ii) above are not tautological in that the questions of what constitutes living well and effective and enjoyed paths are open to discovery.
The following quotation with some paraphrase of earlier content is relevant—
The imperative of the aim flows from the real metaphysics. Knowledge and action are both crucial to the way, for mere knowledge is not full transformation; transformation requires action. It is a consequence of the real metaphysics that limited beings can realize the ultimate only by transformation.”
I posed a question—What is the greatest thing I can do, the greatest being I can attain? The real metaphysics provided an ultimate answer, an imperative—the aim described just. However, it was not just revelation—the force of the conclusion revealed its necessity, not just in thought but also in feeling and passion.
How shall we identify constituent aims and the means of accomplishment? We appeal to the Pure and pragmatic categories of being. In the subsection on Pure categories, the one pure category, experience, was seen as experiencer or self, experiential relation, and object or world.
It is intrinsic means in that it is the place of being and may be shaped or transformed directly to Being (Brahman); the accomplishment is rare in ‘this life’ but progress can be made and the transformative effect continue beyond death. It is instrumental means in ‘technological’ transformation of the body and civilization, again with rare accomplishment of Being in this life and more frequent continuance beyond this life (of individuals and civilizations). As mind and body are one, the intrinsic and instrumental mesh.
This is reason or yoga under which meditation is an instrument of direct transformation; another name is ‘logos’ in a sense close to usage in ancient Greek Philosophy. Pragmatic means arise within thought and action for the pragmatic dimensions. These are the natural (physical, living, experiential), social, and universal.
The means are developed in the following.
In this section, where content has been placed earlier and will be subsequently further tailored to the need, information will be brief.
From § Reason, reason is spelled out as the real metaphysics. We shall find reason and yoga identical.
The traditional ways employ experience and its dimensions.
The ways are traditional and evolving ways, personal and societal, of knowledge and realization of the ultimate (from and in the immediate).
The ways include science and technology as well as the ways, so far as reasonable and pragmatic, of religions. The literal content of religions is included so far as true or symbolically valuable. The ways of the religions may also be valuable—e.g. the eightfold way of Buddhism and Yoga; and the way of Christian Mysticism, and the Christian life of worship and morality.
Catalysts are efficient active and other experiences that transform beings, identities, and world views (and recognized and other means for the same).
The following are some catalysts—vision quest, retreat, fast, meditation, yoga, Beyul (Tibetan nature quest with parallel quest to see truth beyond the secular), and so on; and individual—risk, crisis, physical exhaustion, exposure, and more. Critical imagination applied to human knowledge, culture, and action is catalytic.
However, the traditional ways are in no sense final or authoritative even though sometimes taken so. This is shown by reason, i.e. the real metaphysics. But even under the metaphysics, the process of realization is always experimental with regard to conception and implementation. Further, every civilization, culture, and individual rediscovers the way; even where informed by received ways, first because of their noted incompleteness and, second, because it is essential that the way should become embodied (‘emminded’) rather than just followed.
The traditional ways are useful in themselves, but their power is enhanced by reason (the metaphysics, yoga).
The pragmatic ways are instruments of negotiation of a world. From Pure and pragmatic categories of being > Pragmatic and sequelae, some dimensions of the pragmatic, with a small change in emphasis are of Psyche, Natural, Social (and civilization), and Universal.
On approach, Yoga presents as many traditions. Here is the eightfold way of Yoga described by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore in A Sourcebook of Indian Philosophy, 1957—
“The special feature of the Yoga system, as distinguished from Samkhya, is its practical discipline, by which the suppression of mental states is brought about through the practices of spiritual exercises and the conquest of desire. The Yoga gives us the eightfold method of abstention, observance, posture, breath control, withdrawal of the senses, fixed attention, contemplation, and concentration. The first two of these refer to the ethical prerequisites for the practice of yoga. We should practice non-violence, truthfulness, honesty, continence, and non-acceptance of gifts. We should observe purification (internal and external), contentment, austerity, and devotion to God. Posture is a physical aid to concentration. Breath control aids serenity of mind. Abstraction of the senses from their natural function helps still the mind. These five steps are indirect or external means to yoga. In fixed attention we get the mind focused on a subject. Contemplation or mediation leads to concentration. Yoga is identified with concentration (samādhi), where the self regains its eternal and pure free status. This is the meaning of freedom or release or salvation in the Yoga system.”
The eightfold way of yoga is similar to the eightfold way of Buddhism—right views, intention or resolve, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and right concentration or samadhi (‘meditative absorption or union’).
‘Yoga’ refers to more than one system. However, it is used here in an expanded sense—an emergent system of realization. Why ‘yoga’? Because (i) in its best normative sense, yoga is a store of ideas and techniques for the realization of the real metaphysics (ii) it is therefore an effective term to use for an emergent system under the real metaphysics. It becomes synonymous with reason, logos, in their deepest sense, which include action and feeling, under the real metaphysics. To not broaden our meanings thus is to be trapped in a straitjacket of tradition and its illusions of authority.
Yoga began as an orthodox Indian philosophical tradition as an orthodox Indian philosophical tradition with physical, mental, and spiritual practices. There are many schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. There is no one answer to the questions—What precisely is yoga, what are its goals, and on what authority or reasons is it founded? The Sanskrit term for yoke is the source for ‘yoga’. One use, the one of interest here, is the join of individual selves with Being (Atman with Brahman).
The real metaphysics reveals the universe to be the greatest possible being which we identify as Being. The merging of beings with Being is given by the metaphysics. However, the means of merging is not. Though the traditions are powerful, yoga must always be regarded as incomplete and experimental.
The physical—of the body, mental—meditative and metaphysical, and spiritual practices support one another in seeking to further the aim of the way of being (living well as realization). The spiritual does not refer to another plane but is concerned with means to embody or emmind the greater truth of the one world or universe.
“Experientiality or mind can be seen as target and means of realization. As target because it is the place of being. As means (i) intrinsically in its ability to work on itself as reason and meta-reason, (ii) instrumentally as in technological transformation of mind, body, and civilization.”
When the statement above was made, ‘realization’ referred to whatever it is possible to realize; the real metaphysics had not been established. But now the real metaphysics shows that it is Being or Brahman, the greatest possible being that it is realized.
Practices are laid out in the templates that follow.
Normal habits may inadequately conduce to the aim of the way—to live well on the way to shared discovery and realization of the ultimate. The aim of practice is to develop habits and frames of mind that do so conduce. Contemplation of the way and the real metaphysics and its use, and an experimental attitude to ideas and the practices themselves are aspects of the frames of mind.
Practice, especially ritual, can become an aim in itself. This is contrary to the purpose of practice. Practice must merge with action. The attitude of merging and a ‘vigilant’ attitude toward it is part of practice. Of course, as mind is body, practice will merge with action; but this should be just unconscious, but also conscious. Translation between the unconscious-embedded-intuitive and the conscious-imaginative-critical-iconic-symbolic ought to be practiced.
The dimensions of practice are Pure and pragmatic categories of being; a review shows them to be broader than in tradition. The dimensions are woven into the templates.
The physical and ritual side of the spiritual are woven into the templates; readers and gurus may prefer other approaches—they may use others, e.g. hatha yoga, and the spiritual practices of Christopher Wallis, Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition, 2nd ed., 2013.
However, meditation is crucial for—
“…experientiality or mind can be seen as target and means of realization. As target because it is the place of being. As means (i) intrinsically in its ability to work on itself as reason and meta-reason, (ii) instrumentally as in technological transformation of mind, body, and civilization.”
Traditions names an array of kinds and goals of meditation. Kinds—Shamatha (e.g., focus on a single object such as breath to obtain stillness of mind or a state of ‘no mind’), Vipasana (insight, analytic), and interactions; Gñana yoga (true knowledge); and many others. Goals—‘no mind’, focus, insight; “meditation has no goal”; transcendence of ‘this life’—(a) in this life (b) entering the process of; review of (a) daily activities, (b) one’s life (as finite vs as eternal); review and improvement of relations with others (from others as distraction or interference to neutralization to members of Sangha where possible); Gñana as true knowledge of beings and Being… of ‘true’ process of realization.
However, to arrive at one (not the), essential meditative way it is necessary to have a model of mind and the real, i.e. of experientiality. We have such a within the real metaphysics, which is a complete model of being, at least in outline. We use the terms Shamatha and Vipasana in outlining a meditative practice—which will consider (i) emotion and cognition (ii) experientiality as being—i.e. the continuity of mind-body-the real.
Before laying out an essential way it is important to note that if perfection is tranquil realization or realization now, then the way does not offer perfection. It is critical that if one is negatively impacted by one’s situation or psychological profile then one should attend to the difficulties but the issues should, except where debilitating (in which case the modern world does offer a variety of ways to help), one should continue with the practice. And perhaps we can view perfection as being on “the best way one knows” (in Sangha, and with help if desired or indicated).
Shamatha begins with one pointed meditation. A good reference is Pema Chödrön, How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, 2013. It explains the difficulty of one pointedness and how to approach it by allowing natural deviations from it and bringing mind back to it. It provides other means and tools, e.g. working on difficult emotions that distract from focus. Some end results are focus and the meditative state of calmness entering daily life (not easy to achieve but yet a process). Occasionally, states of ‘no mind’ and of ‘transcendent oneness’ may occur but are not important according to Chödrön; however, they may be seen as pointers to the real.
Shamatha is a road to Vipasana and Gñana which are intrinsic to and instrumental in realization (a) rarely in this life (b) on the way to realization beyond death.
These are over and above the general meditations.
Path templates for realization satisfy the principles specified in the principles below.
The templates shall (1) Synthesize of reason and tradition (as in the real metaphysics); (2) Cover practice, action, and the dimensions of being; (3) Be grounded in the immediate, pointed at the ultimate; (4) Be flexible, adaptable to a range of individual and cultural types, and circumstances; (5) Have a generic, flexible, alterable, and adaptable every-day routine (specific activities and times are generic or for example); (6) Have a generic universal program for periods up to a life and beyond (individuals and cultures may select activities according to inclination, values, and needs). The core principles are—
Reason and yoga shall be embodied in generic, adaptable, and experimental templates of action; the templates shall cover the categories or dimensions of being; there shall be every-day and universal templates.
The template is adaptable to a range of (1) Life stages and situations, (2) Orientations to the nature of self and universe, (3) Everyday circumstances, (4) Individual vs shared activity, and (5) Special activities and explorations.
The adaptation can be made by selecting or altering (1) The elements, (2) The order, (3) The emphasis, (4) The timing, explicit or not, and (5) Balance between structure and abandon to cultivate a fresh outlook and approach.
The essentials of the every-day template are—rise early-dedication-affirmation, review, realize (reflect-write on the way and yoga-exercise-share), exploration, evening renewal and community, and sleep early.
The template is tailored to a regular at home schedule for individuals and groups; it can be modified to an away or special schedule. For print and editable versions, follow—everyday template.pdf (compact version with endnotes) everyday template.docm (compact version with endnotes).
The universal template addresses the dimensions of being. Summarizing § Pure and pragmatic categories of being, the categories are—
Here are some details of the pragmatic—world as psyche (experience), maps as:
Nature—relatively unconstructed: physical (elementary), living (complex), and experiential (of psyche)
Society and civilization—group, relatively constructed. Cultural—knowledge, value, neutrality to their distinction… language and communication, generation, and transmission. Structural or organizational—small and naturally formed groups (individual, family, community), and large and institutional grouping (political, economic, technological, military, academic or research and education, artistic and religious).
Universal and incompletely known—the field view self to Being (Atman to Brahman), nests extended secular worlds.
Essentials of a universal template are—pure being and community, ideas (reflection, writing, publishing), becoming (nature with psyche; civilization, society, and community; artifact; universal and incompletely known), and Universal Being.
The template covers the categories or dimensions of being. Most individuals and groups whose emphasis is realization, will follow items 1, 6, and 7; they will make selections from the others; they may make additions of their own choosing. For print and editable versions, follow—universal template.docm, universal template.pdf.
The way and its text have origins in personal, world, and universal history. I have sought to keep contact with history while developing, writing, and living the way.
It is now time to complete this cycle and to move into focus on being in the world.
This involves sharing, Sangha, and living that way of life that is living well and also being—realizing—Brahman.
The universe is the greatest possible being. It may be seen as cosmoses—and more—in transient contact with the void; cosmoses that are limitless in identity of object and self, extent, duration, variety, peak, and dissolution; that are one as Brahman; which is the inheritance and being of all beings; and which, while limited, we experience as ever fresh.
From the perspective of the one, it is transhistorical. Limited beings experience linear or cyclic history. While limited but at greater realization, beings cycle without limit to extent, duration, variety, and number of cycles. The one, Being, Brahman, is trans-cyclic; it has a description as a limitless block universe.
A view of history as linear is—may be—embedded in a view of history as the block universe.
Practice, knowing, knowledge, and action have distinctions and are yet one.
Individuals share their ideas, their learning, in speech and text. Moving forward is grounded in the communal pool of ideas.
There is a premium on individuals and specific texts and so the process is historical (except in some established disciplines). The attempt to move forward requires interpretation of the texts and thus the process is sometimes moving forward and sometimes, when history is suppressed or weakly interpreted, moving back.
The historical emphasis on individuals and their texts becomes a burden.
The idea of continuous text begins with the thought that the stream of text is one text. Though authorship is not denied, the focus is on ideas, and an aim is explicit refinement of ideas over or at least in balance with ideas as cumulative.
A process of continuous text is that authors shall or may choose to study previous texts as they develop their own ideas and weave history into their own texts. Some ancient texts will have only indirect influence. This may seem to be a loss when it comes to the greatest texts of the past. However, exceptions may perhaps be made, but the gain is a balance between the value and burden of history in the process of moving forward rather than moving into stasis.
One approach is to define an evolving system of canonical ideas and develop, correspondingly, a system of canonical texts. If multi-authoring coordinated by editors is cumbersome and limiting on true originality, a balance can be maintained between multi and single authoring.
Continuous text is likely to be enhanced by software implemented on electronic information processing, communication, and networking systems. This may overcome limitations of perspective by facilitating translation among multiple perspectives. Perhaps artificial intelligence will have a role in the creative side of the process.
I will live my life in the way and in sharing.
It is time to pass the torch.
Here, my journey of discovery of and living the way is a resource.
See a journey in being-outline for sources.
I share some informal principles learned in discovery of the real metaphysics and the way.
My earliest passion was nature. It is in nature that I feel most alive and real. I have spent about 700 days walking in the mountains with tent and food in my pack, sleeping under stars and stormy skies. Nature is a portal to the real, and an inspiration for ideas.
A second passion is ideas. When immersed in ideas, in imagination and criticism, I feel real. The passion is to understand the universe, and the ideas and intricacies of philosophy, mathematics, logic, and the sciences. To experience the world through poets’ eyes and words. I read widely.
I found truth in our views of the universe and our place in it. Yet I found our views limited: models from limited experience are taken as the whole. I saw that that is because we let the models define the whole. To attempt to overcome the limits, I experimented with some of our well-known paradigms—materialism and idealism. They see the universe as a limited kind and so I was led to being which is not a kind at all. I looked at empiricism and rationalism, found the distinction empty, each based in one aspect of being posited fundamental. I read in pragmatism and the philosophy of relation and process—e.g., that of A.N. Whitehead, in which nature is not bifurcated into things and interactions (like in quantum field theory) or the mental and the material. I searched through physics, physical cosmology, and evolutionary biology. I thought the nature of the universe could be found in that cosmology but that led to a blind end. It then occurred to me that if the universe were equivalent to the void, it would reveal origins and nature of the universe. So, it occurred to me to analyze the void and its properties for understanding, rather than to look at the manifest universe. This led to the universe as all being and the greatest possible being, the universe as deterministic and indeterministic, and the limited reach of our laws of physics. But physics did suggest the paradigm of mechanism; and biology suggested a paradigm of adaptive systems origins and evolution via indeterminist process or variation and selection for near stability and symmetry. From my interest in philosophical thought I understood that I had constructed an ideal metaphysical framework, the pure metaphysics. That metaphysics showed the ultimate identity of the universe and that individuals realize that identity. Further, our pragmatic knowledge, especially the sciences, are, even as pragmatic, perfect toward realization. It was so that I saw that I had arrived at the real metaphysics, for which logic is a framework, mathematics and the sciences are tools, and the arts and philosophical thought are guides. It is understood that logic, metaphysics, and philosophy are not just taken as received but are also emergent with the process.
A third interest is culture. Ideas are not just intellectual but are the products of culture. I am fortunate to be bi-cultural—or multi-cultural depending on what is counted, and I have also attempted and continue to attempt to experience and learn from other cultures by reading and travel. Travel is a way to experience culture and nature at the same time, e.g. as in solo travels in Barranca del Cobre, Chihuahua, Mexico. Reading is another approach to absorbing culture and one of my great reading experiences is Richard Nelson’s account of the northern Athabaskan culture in his Make Prayers to the Raven, 1983. In another cultural direction, in this work I attempt to integrate some pinnacle concepts of integration in expansive notions of reason and yoga and cultural integration in attempting a synergy of reason and yoga.
Fourth, consequent to my explorations, I became and am dedicated to the way—to realization of the ultimate—to the aim of the way of being, that is to living well on the way to shared discovery and realization of the ultimate. While I have always found ideas inspiring and beautiful in themselves, I began, early on, to want to translate my thought into my living. I posed the question “What is the greatest thing I can do, the greatest being I can attain?” The real metaphysics provided an answer, an ultimate answer, which revealed an imperative—the aim described just above. But it was not just a revelation—the force of the conclusion of the aim revealed its necessity, not just in abstraction but also in feeling. The way is emergent, neither forced nor posited.
This edition of the way is an introduction to its topics, particularly (i) historical and personal search for meaning, (ii) being, experience, and their essential relation (iii) possibility—its meaning and kinds, logic and science, metaphysics, doubt as a method, cosmology, reason, and (iv) realization of the ultimate as seen in the real metaphysics.
The extended version the way of being is a more complete subject resource for the topics above and (i) classical through modern problems of metaphysics, (ii) a system of knowledge centered on the real metaphysics, based in the universe as the greatest possible being.
Some useful links
A set of bibliographies.
The system of human knowledge, reason, practice, and action is a guide to secular and transsecular elements of local through global action. Meditation is (self) guide to shedding bonds of self and to action. For instrumental transformation of society see politics and cultural economics
Printable templates—the docm versions are editable with Word 365—everyday template.docm, everyday template.pdf, everyday template, compact, with endnotes.docm (without the endnotes, only one 8½" x 11" page needs to be printed).
Here are some influences on my thought.
Thales, Democritus, Plato (Sophist—the definition of being is power), Aristotle, Adi Samkara, Johannes Scotus Eriugena, René Descartes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Karl Popper, Kurt Gödel, WVO Quine, and John Searle.
Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Alvin Plantinga, and John Hick.
Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and Ernst Mayr.
The way in history and the modern world
Published and online works.
Friedrich Nietzsche, reissued from the German edition of 1872, The Birth of Tragedy, Or: Hellenism and Pessimism, 1886.
Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, 1929.
Richard K. Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven: A Koyukon View of the Northern Forest, 1983.
Ian Baker, The Heart of the World: A Journey to Tibet’s Lost Paradise, 2004.
Chagdud Tulku, Gates To Buddhist Practice: Essential Teachings of a Tibetan Master, 1993, Rev. 2001.
Christopher Wallis, Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition, 2nd ed., 2013.
Pema Chödrön, How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, 2013.
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Charles A. Moore, eds., A Sourcebook in Indian Philosophy, 1957.
Eknath Easwaran, trs., The Bhagavad Gita, 1985.
John Hick, The Fifth Dimension: An Exploration of the Spiritual Realm, 1999.
Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos, 1997.
Ernst Mayr, Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist, 1988.
Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, 2001.
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1859.
Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, 1839.
Charles Darwin’s account of the Beagle’s travel around the world is more than natural history: it is geology, anthropology, literature, and adventure travel.
The terms are arranged in classes; a few terms are repeated (e.g., interpretation of experience, object, abstract, block universe). The leading term for each class is italicized.
care, doubt, critical doubt
history, history as linear, sapient being, destiny
idea, concept, experience, relation, referent (object), existence, nonexistent, existent, meaning, knowledge, significant meaning, place of meaning
interpretation of experience, hypothetical metaphysics, real, field of experiential being (world as)
being, a being (beings), all, part, null part, abstraction, power (effective cause), interaction, universe, the void, nonmanifest, manifest
possibility (possible being), nonbeing, real possibility, logical possibility, logic, a logic (logics), fact, pattern, hypothesis, theory, science, scientific method, argument, necessity (necessary being), contingency (contingent being), unconditional necessity, unconditional being
fundamental principle of metaphysics, greatest being (need), the good (the good is addressed in the text but developed in the way of being.html), imperative, path, metaphysics, ontology, pure metaphysics, pragmatic metaphysics, real metaphysics, Atman, Brahman (see Being below)
category (dimension), pure category (i.e., one pure category, experience or, in compound form, experiencer–experiential relation–experienced), pragmatic category (the pragmatic categories are chosen to be natural with psyche, social, universal)
primitive feeling, relatively bound, form, change, relatively free, imagination, concept formation, development of metaphysics
metaphysics of experience, interpretation of experience, Cartesian Skepticism, Pyrrhonian Skepticism
object, abstract object (the connotation of ‘abstract’ here is not quite the same as in ‘abstraction’, above), concrete object, cosmology, identity, sameness-difference, duration, extension, block universe
Being (capitalized, see Atman, Brahman above)
aim of being, intrinsic means (especially meditative), Being, instrumental means (especially yogic preparation for meditation), meditation, way (ways), catalyst, yoga, practice, Shamatha, Vipasana, Gñana Yoga, death, ritual symbol, cutting
path template, Beyul, travel
history as the block universe; past, present, and future as one
continuous text (as a way to focus on the ideas), canonical system of ideas, limitations of perspective (overcoming)
The glossary presents the main ideas.