The way of being
Anil Mitra, Copyright © 2002 – February 2021
The main divisions
The way of being
The aim of the way of being is efficient shared discovery and realization of the ultimate from and as far as possible in the immediate.
It will be seen that the ultimate illuminates the immediate and that paths to the ultimate begin in the immediate.
Central to the way of being are the following demonstrated assertions—
1. The universe is the realization of the greatest or most inclusive possibility.
This principle is named ‘the fundamental principle of metaphysics’, abbreviated ‘fundamental principle’ or FP. The meaning and implications of the principle are elaborated in the text. However, it is clear from the statement of the principle, that what is ultimate for beings, is far greater than in standard secular and transsecular worldviews. It will be seen that the fundamental principle gives significance to the following aim and thus to destiny as knowledge of higher being and its possibility and realization (and of course, meaning of the term ‘higher’).
2. The individual realizes the ultimate (the most inclusive possibility) intrinsically and instrumentally via experiential awareness which are not essentially distinct—and does so as part of the universe as a field of experiential being, which at the lowest intensities of experience is ‘proto-experiential’.
Here experience is understood as conscious awareness in all its forms and ways of relation to the world (pure, knowing or ‘attitudinal’, and active or in terms of agency).
This is shown in the nature of the universe.
3. The aim of being is the aim of the way of being.
The universe realizes the greatest possibility (this assertion is ‘the fundamental principle of metaphysics’); the aim of being is realization of possibility; the place and means of realization is experiential awareness.
This work is a minimal version of the way. It is minimal with regard to proof and elaboration but sufficient with regard to the essential ideas and use and realization. There are other versions and material at the site for the way of being.
It is critical to see that compared to common secular and transsecular views, the fundamental principle and its consequences constitute a non-standard and ultimate worldview. It will present difficulties of intuition and understanding to laypersons and scholars alike.
These difficulties will be best overcome by (i) the knowledge that the material is ultimate and that it may challenge intuition and critical understanding (ii) paying attention to meanings of terms, parts, and the system as a whole (iii) careful and repeated reading and reflection while temporarily suspending judgment and received worldviews, while adjusting one’s world gestalt or intuition (it is of course difficult to suspend judgment and intuition and there is no suggestion that the attitude should be uncritical) and (iv) seeing that this version of the way is skeletal and, if a need is felt, referring to the site for the way of being.
Following are the main concepts that merit attention, repeated from the appendix on the concepts—destiny, aim, being, awareness, universe, form, formation, reason for being, law, the void, the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility (‘the fundamental principle of metaphysics’), concept, object, action, possibility (logical, real, sentient), metaphysics (the real metaphysics, pragmatism), value, doubt, certainty, reflexivity, reason, the a priori.
Difficulties in understanding in this minimal edition will be due to the new worldview and concept meanings (see the appendix on the concepts), which may be overcome by careful reading, attention to meaning, and temporary suspension of judgment while absorbing the view.
In what manner is the worldview of the way of being ultimate? It is ultimate in consequence of being (‘what-there-is’, where ‘is’ a form of the verb to be without restriction, spatiotemporal or otherwise) as fundamental, rather than common ‘substance theories’ which are invariably hypothetical or relative to a further ‘fundamental’ posit. ‘What there is’ is not relative and while it may seem trivial, it turns out to be suitable to foundation that is ultimate in not referring to any other (the power derives from i being not needing to refer to another concept for foundation, yet ii the capability of being to refer to both being and the absence of being, and iii in its non-specificity, that being is base for a ‘philosophical algebra’—i.e., a base to find rather than begin with a posit of the real). It is also ultimate in levering demonstration of the fundamental principle that the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility. Thus, it is ultimate with regard to depth and implicit breadth. On the other hand, it leaves knowledge and realization of explicit breadth or variety of being ever open to beings while in limited form.
The conceptual power of ‘being’ derives from (i) not needing to refer beyond itself for foundation and (ii) is subsumption of the immediate and the ultimate, and of being and absence of being. This power is used to develop an ultimate worldview—the ‘real metaphysics’.
The sum total of human ways of life, endeavors, and goals appear to have imperfect coherence—this questions that the above aim is meaningful.
Sources of the way are
1. History of the human endeavor and its literature, and
2. Individual search for meaning and realization, and reason
Note—as used here, reason includes understanding direct knowledge and its means, inference or indirect knowledge, and experiment.
Here, we lay out a worldview or system of metaphysics that shows high level coherence among the lower-level diversity and conflict. It shows an ultimate to be realized and gives coherence to the diversity, which does not eliminate discord and is not perfect in a traditional sense but reveals values in terms of which it is the good.
The essential concept that enables the system is ‘being’—that which is. There are and will be objections to this concept of being. However it is made real and potent (i) by an abstraction which omits distortable detail and so renders perfect knowledge (thus the abstract in this sense is not different from the concrete in kind) (ii) by regarding ‘what has being’, not as given, but to be discovered (and so rendering being as a key variable in a philosophical algebra) (iii) once the structure of the algebra is found (and it is a process of critical imagination and discovery) concrete realism is introduced by using the algebra as a framework for human knowledge regarded pragmatically rather than in terms of correspondence criteria. We will see that being straddles and unifies the immediate and the ultimate, the subjective and the objective, the universe and the void.
The sources of the way are in the history of the human endeavor, individual search for meaning and realization, and reason. Being is the primary concept that leverages the way.
Let us repeat the introductory observation—
The system is based in the demonstrated assertion that the universe is the realization of the most inclusive possibility. This assertion is named ‘the fundamental principle of metaphysics’, abbreviated ‘fundamental principle’ or FP.
Though the statement of the principle is plain, its meaning, truth, and demonstrability are not. It will elicit reaction including concern about its meaning, truth, and demonstration.
The fundamental principle is the assertion that the universe is the realization of the most inclusive possibility.
Likely questions include—
1. Is the principle new?
2. Is the principle self-consistent and is it consistent with science and experience?
3. How could it be demonstrated?
4. Ought it not to be doubted?
5. How may the possible be realized?
6. What is the meaning of the principle (i) the intrinsic or conceptual meaning and (ii) the instrumental meaning in terms of implications, especially for the human endeavor, knowledge (especially worldview or metaphysics), and for the aim of being?
The issues include newness (whether the essential ideas have been established in human history), consistency (the possibility of truth of the principle), demonstration (truth), doubt (i.e., doubting the principle).
It is also important to consider the utility of the principle in terms of realization, meaning and other implications.
Let us now address these issues.
Is the principle new? That all possibilities are realized is an idea dating back at least to Greek thinkers. This idea has been named ‘the principle of plenitude’. Immanuel Kant held that given eternity, all possibilities would be realized (the reasoning would be probabilistic). Though the idea of the principle is not new, its demonstration, meaning, and implications developed here are new and potent. What is new is significant and discussed next in implications of the principle.
Though the idea of the principle is not new, its demonstration, meaning, and implications are new and potent.
Is the principle internally or self-consistent? Yes, provided ‘most inclusive possibility’ means logical possibility. Since what is not logical is contradictory, this is the most inclusive possibility. It is understood, of course, that since our modes of expression may be incomplete, so the collection of known logics may also be incomplete (it is understood that ‘known’ means known to known beings).
Is it consistent with science? This concern is pertinent since FP seems to be inconsistent with science, especially physics. However, it is not inconsistent with physics, for the physics of our world is one possible physics (this response is elaborated later).
Is it consistent with our experience of limited possibility? No, for we do not experience all possibilities while in limited form. But the principle implies that there are greater worlds and forms, of which we are a part, and in which all possibilities are realized.
The fundamental principle is fully consistent—i.e., its consistency is internal (logical) and external (factual-scientific-experiential).
How could the fundamental principle be proved? The essence of the demonstration is (i) since existence and non-existence of the void (true nothingness) are equivalent, the void may be taken to exist (ii) there are no real things in the void (iii) laws of nature are (readings of) real patterns (iv) the void is subject to no law (v) for the void to never manifest an object, for a logically consistent concept would be a law for the void, (vi) therefore all logical possibility emerges from the void.
Ought not the principle ought to be doubted, surely and severely, especially from the nature of the demonstration and the magnitude of the conclusions?
The general issue of doubt and reasons to doubt the principle are taken up in the appendix > doubt, certainty, and ethics.
Note again that the fundamental principle is fully consistent—i.e., that the principle entails no contradiction of reason (logic, fact, science, or experience).
Though the idea of the principle is not new, its demonstration, meaning, and implications are new and potent.
While the principle shows what is possible, even if it is granted, how is the possible to be realized? This is addressed below, in principle in the real metaphysics, practically in implications of the real metaphysics—particularly in implications for human being and realization, and in detail in pathways—templates, dedication, and affirmation.
The following implications are new, touched upon here, and elaborated and treated with detail at the site for the way of being—
Though related ideas (David Lewis’ many worlds theory, the principle of plenitude, the idea that there is no law in nothingness), the full demonstration of the fundamental principle and taking it seriously enough to develop meaning and consequences appears to be new.
While Immanuel Kant held that given enough time all possibilities would be realized, here eternity is not assumed. Further the development is necessary, rather than probabilistic (and so it is significant that it is not generally true that given enough time, all probabilities will be realized).
Though the idea of the principle is not new, its demonstration, meaning, and implications are new and potent.
The elaboration of possibility and its kinds is potent (i) in developing the meaning and consequences of the fundamental principle (ii) in integrating (human) knowledge under a single kind and (iii) as a contribution to understanding the nature of possibility.
The intensional (intrinsic) meaning of the principle in terms of the concept of logical possibility and its development and the extensional meaning of the principle in terms of the (limitless) variety of being it implies.
Given the fundamental principle, potency implications for the human endeavor, particularly the realization of the ultimate, is evident. Implications are developed below.
Implications for major branches of philosophy, science, and religion may be encapsulated—as pragmatic knowledge of the universe, science is potent and true but what it reveals is immensely limited; as search beyond the revelations of science, the role of religion is valid but traditional religions are revealing but dogmatic (this is true even Buddhism in its relative neutrality to dogma); the real metaphysics transcends science and religion and returns philosophy to a role of self-reflective study of the real.
The fundamental principle is one foundation for the development of a system—the ‘real metaphysics’, which will be considered next. It is noteworthy that the system is demonstrated and emergent rather than hypothesized or imposed.
This section continues implications of the fundamental principle—joined ideally to pragmatic knowledge.
Development of a system of metaphysics with basis in the fundamental principle and the concepts of for the way; the fundamental principle reveals the ideal ultimate while our traditions of knowledge, though imperfect on their own grounds, form a perfect complement to the ideal—for the ideal does not require that its accomplishment be ideal-according-to-received-criteria, and the join of the two may be seen as a perfect metaphysics named the real metaphysics (and the perfection is according to its own revealed value of realization of the ultimate).
The meaning of perfection is emergent rather than imposed.
1. The join of ideal knowledge from the fundamental principle with what is valid in received tradition through today, constitute a ‘real metaphysics’, which illuminates tradition, and is a perfect instrument of realization.
2. The real metaphysics—knowledge, reason, and value—emerge simultaneously in interaction without import of an a priori, except in the details.
3. In this short work, no further remark will be made on value theory, axiology, ethics, or aesthetics, except to say that the real metaphysics provides a source of (some) foundation for these endeavors.
Let us flesh out some details of meaning of the principle, implications for the human endeavor, the real metaphysics, leaving further the other developments to more complete treatment—a précis treatment, an in-process detailed version of the way, all at the site for the way of being.
The universe has identity. The universe and its identity are limitless in duration, extension (‘space’), variety, peak, and dissolution of its being. There are limitless arrays of cosmoses of limitless variety in form, forms, and physical law, without limit on degree and indeterminism of isolation except that isolation is never complete, all in formative and transient occasional contact with the void and transients emergent from the void. The status of the sciences of our cosmos is that they have truth but cannot be universally and eternally true. There are layers of the real below that of our cosmos whose contact is minimal at present but not eternally. Our cosmos is an atom in larger beings.
The universe and its identity are limitless with regard to variety, extension, duration, and peak (within which our cosmos is a speck in terms of variety, if not of significance)
The following expands upon implications for the human endeavor.
Human beings partake of the identity of the universe in the present but, though we can conceive of it, tend to not sense it well. In eternity, realization of the ultimate identity of the universe is given. However, if enjoyment (of joy and pain) is a value, it is efficient to engage in development of pathways from the immediate to the ultimate (everyday, universal). That is, while received pathways are useful, to follow is far less effective than to engage. The way begins in this life. It is occasionally completed in ‘this life’ but usually completed beyond. Death is real but not absolute. Death is a gate to the ultimate. The when is not given, but the individual realizes the ultimate and, as already said, engaging in ways and their development is effective. Sharing is effective as there is communal enhancement and realization. The process is ‘intrinsic’ or ‘awareness of’ and ‘instrumental’ or ‘the objects of awareness’. The intrinsic is about states of mind and their transformation by meditation, feeling, thought, and action. The instrumental concerns the effect of action in the world—e.g., science, economics, politics, and technology (the science and technology of mind and civilization pervading the universe is an open endeavor). It is via action that the intrinsic and instrumental are interactive and ultimately one. Pain and suffering are part of the process. There is no promise of eternal release from pain and responsibility. The best address of the problem of pain and suffering is twofold (i) to the best of one’s ability to be engaged in paths and their shared development (ii) judicious employment of the medical and psychological therapies of society.
Human beings partake of the ultimate, which is given. It is efficient enjoyment to engage in developing and negotiation intelligent paths to the ultimate. There is no eternal release from pain, but its best address is in being on a path and in therapy.
The aim of being and the aim of the way of being are the same.
The essence of the aim of being is efficient shared discovery and realization of the ultimate from and as far as possible in the immediate.
The following expands upon the real metaphysics.
A common secular view of the world is one of relating and self-aware selves immersed in an environment with material and living aspects—mind is thought to be associated only with animals and persons but not with the environment (i.e., the environment less the living). This view is consistent with the universe as a field of experiential being having form (includes relation) and formation (merges with change of form) where (i) there are concentrated and articulated centers of experientiality—animals, persons and (ii) the environment is zero to low in experientiality but not null. The common view is consistent with the field view as being experientially indistinguishable from some local and carved out part of the field. The field view is suggested (not proved) by the secular account being impossible on strict materialism in which the universe is material and mind is no part of matter. But the field view is most general as it includes substance views (idealism, materialism, neutral) as special cases and can further accommodate the FP-universe—i.e., universe revealed by the fundamental principle. Solipsist and strictly materialist sub-universes are also allowed by the FP-universe. The universe as a field of experiential being accommodates the (FP-)universe. The universe is a field of experiential being of greatest possibility. This grounds and justifies realization as experiential (but does not suppress material like aspects of form with relation and formation with change).
The universe is a field of aware or experiential being, with individual sentient beings as bright centers of experientiality in an environment, not material, but of low to nil experientiality. This is not in contradiction to the ordinary view of the cosmos as individuals—selves and others—in an environment with material and living aspects. The field of being and greatest possible universe views are mutually accommodating.
The templates are intended to cover most activities and dimensions of being. They are intended as flexible and adaptable to a variety of personal orientations and circumstances and to group endeavor.
Meditative-contemplative review, priorities and plans—the way, life, the day. Reflect on realization, priorities, and means; employ simple reflection, (calming—Shamatha—for re-orientation of purpose and energy, contemplative or analytical meditation—Vipasana—to see what is essential now and in other time frames; see the discussion of experimental yoga and related systems).
Realization—(a) work, (b) care and relationships—networking, (c) ideas and action, (c) experimental and structured yoga-exercise-meditation-share in practice and in action, (d) other activities or ‘engagement in the world’—e.g., languages, art.
Tasks—daily and long term; midday meal. Attitude—in tasks and toward others and the world—an element of realization; light; yoga in action. May merge with realization.
Physical activity—exercise and exploration of the worlds of nature and culture for experience and inspiration.
Evening rest, renewal, review, meditation and realization, network, community, tasks, supper, preparation-dedication for the next day and future. Sleep early.
Rise before the sun > review and plan the way, life, the day > realization—work, relationships, yoga, engage the world > tasks, meals, yoga in action > physical activity, exploration of culture and nature > evening rest, renewal, meditation, realization, networking, tasks, supper, preparation for the next day and future > sleep early.
Ideas—Dimensions (a) relation, knowing (as relation to the world); reason and art (b) acting (effectively, creating the real). Means—reason, yoga with meditation, and the real metaphysics in the essential way of being.
Becoming—Dimension: nature as catalyst to the real. Animal being and devolution—observation, situational empathy, defocus, reason.
Becoming—Dimension: society. Civilization as vehicle and path to the real. Transformation via psyche—by immersion in social groups as place of being and catalyst to the real.
Becoming—Dimension: artifact. Civilizing the universe (especially technology as enhancing being in the universe)— universe as peak consciousness via spread of sapient being.
Becoming—Dimensions: universal, incompletely known. The common way from self to Being (Atman to Brahman), via the block universe and extended secular worlds consistent with experience of and in the world.
Being in the universe—Dimension: universal. Realizing Peak Being (Brahman) in the present. Apparently, rarely achieved in ‘this life’ which is a beginning that is continued beyond death. Outcome of the previous items, being in the world through becoming. The means are in the previous dimensions, the everyday template, and open.
Being-in-the-world—pure, community, retreat. | Ideas—reason, metaphysics, action. | Becoming—nature, society, artifact, and beyond (the incompletely known universe) as catalysts and path to the real. | Being-in-the-universe—realizing Peak Being in the present or beyond death—means: the previous items (being, ideas, becoming) the everyday template, and open.
For details, see dedication.
I dedicate my life to The Way of Being,
(or we dedicate our lives to…),
To shared discovery and realization of The Way to the ultimate—
To shedding bonds of limited self so that I can see the way so clearly that even in difficulty life is flow over force.
(To the intrinsic experience of the eternal—and so moving toward positive being).
(To seeing and realizing the identity of individual and universal being or self).
And, so, coming full circle to always being at the beginning of a journey of discovery (living in the immediate present and the ultimate as one).
For details, see affirmation.
“That pure unlimited consciousness—transcending all principles of form… that is supreme reality. That is the ground for the establishment of all things—and that is the essence of the universe. By That the universe lives and breathes, and That alone am I. Thus, I embody and am the universe in its ordinary and most transcendent form.”
Source—paraphrase of Abhinava Gupta (950 – 1016 CE, a philosopher-theologian of Kashmir) from Christopher Wallis, Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition, 2nd ed., Mattamayūra Press, 2013, p.370.
The following definitions constitute a reference and springboard for further reflection and development. The material is not essential to understanding and employing the way of being.
Small capitals mark definitions.
A concept marked by stars is the main of two or more occurrences. The number of stars shows the number of other occurrences. A dagger† marks a significant concept that, even if noted, is not yet defined in this appendix. Brackets mark (i) explanations (ii) related terms (which are not necessarily less important than the ‘parent’ term).
A system of concepts for the way is—destiny, knowledge, aims, aim, action, being** (the other occurrences are as ‘beings’ and ‘kind of being’; related terms are substance, the immediate†, the ultimate†, becoming†, process†, relation*, reasons), abstraction* (the other occurrence of ‘abstract’ has a rather different meaning), beings, awareness, universe, form (relation*), formation (change), determinism, indeterminism, cause, material cause, reason (necessary reason), creator, god, law (pattern), the void, the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility (‘the fundamental principle of metaphysics’), concept (object, linguistic concept, meaning, knowledge*, action*), possibility* (kind of being and possibility, the following kinds of possibility—logical, theoretical, real, sentient, scientific, mathematical, and metaphysical), metaphysics (the abstract, the concrete*, the real metaphysics, pragmatism, perfection, logic, mathematics, the concrete sciences), value (ethics, pathways, realization, aesthetics, enjoyment), doubt (certainty, criticism, conceptual creativity, reflexivity, knowability, metaphysical postulate, existential principle), reason*** (this is main in the sense of being primitive rather than important; related terms are understanding, inference, induction, deduction, certainty, the a priori, negation of the a priori).
The main concepts are—destiny, aim, being, awareness, universe, form, formation, reason for being, law, the void, the universe is the realization of the greatest possibility (‘the fundamental principle of metaphysics’), concept, object, action, possibility (logical, real, sentient), metaphysics (the real metaphysics, pragmatism), value, doubt, certainty, reflexivity, reason, the a priori.
Destiny is knowledge of being higher than the knowing beings and of its possibility and realization (and of course, meaning of the term ‘higher’).
The real metaphysics shows that destiny is real (but not that its realization is given to beings while in limited form or that it is ‘linear’) and that the term ‘high’ has definite if abstract meaning. It allows the variety of aims, coherent and otherwise, of beings including societies to be subsumed under one cohesive aim.
Realization requires knowledge in interaction with action or knowledge-action.
Being is ‘what-there-is’, where ‘is’ is a form of the verb to be without restriction, spatiotemporal or otherwise.
Thus, being is a property (with sufficient abstraction, distinctions between entities, properties, relations, processes, and even reasons are vanishing; the outcome of such abstraction is not abstract in the sense of remoteness—rather it is most immediate, perfectly knowable and known, and immanent in or part of the concrete).
A being is whatever has being. The plural of ‘a being’ is ‘beings’.
To talk of beings without qualification lacks meaning and invites (i) absence of true reference or (ii) paradoxes of reference. Therefore, with reference to the discussion below in concept, object, meaning, and knowledge, a being is the knowledge object or referent of a concept.
In its least inclusive meaning, awareness is conscious awareness, attitudinal or active (in other essays on the site for the way of being, ‘experience’ is used instead of ‘awareness’).
It includes pure awareness, which is the case where the attitudinal or active object is nil.
Since pure awareness is internally and potentially relational, all awareness is relational.
In its most inclusive meaning, awareness will stand for proto awareness, which may be nil in magnitude, which is the property of all being, necessary that there be awareness in the universe at all.
The universe is all being over all form (includes relation) and formation (merges with change of form) (i.e., over extension-duration-being).
Form and formation lie on a continuum of determinism with poles of absolute determinism and absolute indeterminism.
The universe does exist. This does not entail that it must exist.
The universe is a being. It is the being for which there is no other (external) being.
The reason for the being of the manifest universe cannot be a cause in the sense of interaction with another being (i.e., material cause of the manifestation is logically impossible—where the sense of the term ‘material’ includes any god or purportedly supernatural entity).
The cause, if any, must therefore appeal to a reason in a sense other than material cause. It could be an argument of the form “if the universe did not exist, there would be no meaning in the sense of significance”—which would be deficient primarily in presuming that there must be meaning. But the form of the argument is more interesting than its truth. A reason is a reasoning for a fact or a being—it may be a material cause but the emphasis here is on an argument, which may be relative or absolute (in the absolute case there is no premise—i.e., the premise is null), deductive or inductive (in the deductive case the inference is certainly true if the premise is true; and the inference may but need not be material cause). An argument that is absolute and deductive is a necessary reason.
But we have seen that the void must exist, and so FP holds, from which the universe must exist (and be the greatest possible).
In other work at the site for the way of being, necessity of the universe and that it is the greatest possible are shown from an analysis of necessity.
A creator is a sole material cause of the being (existence) of a being.
A being cannot create itself, for to do so would presume it is, at least for an instant, at once manifest and non-manifest.
All creators are external creators.
Since the universe is all being, relative to the universe there is no other being.
The universe cannot have a creator, for an external creator would be another being, and no being can self-create.
There is no god, the creator of the universe (this does not rule out gods).
The god that is the creator of the universe and has other characteristics of higher being, e.g., intelligence and compassion, does not exist.
A natural law is a reading of a pattern immanent in being or beings.
A law is a being.
The term ‘law’ may be used to refer to the pattern.
Though the terms ‘law’ and ‘theory’ have the above use, but in a more specific form, the given definition is sufficient to the use of ‘law’ in this text.
The void is the absence of being.
That it may be taken to exist follows from the equivalence of its existence and non-existence.
The void has no laws.
The FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF METAPHYSICS, fundamental principle, or FP follows from the existence of the void.
A possible being is a concept that may be realized (as a referent or object of the concept).
The criteria of realizability define the kind of possibility or being.
Before considering kinds of possibility, let us discuss a preliminary—concept, object, meaning, and knowledge, which is important in itself.
A concept is ‘experience of’ and an object is ‘the experienced’.
It is presumed that the concept has the intended kind of possibility.
As in awareness or experience of awareness, a concept may also be an object (and this is essential to Descartes’ cogito argument).
A linguistic concept is a (otherwise association free or meaning-devoid) sign-concept association (the sign and concept may be compound).
Meaning is a concept and its possible objects. Knowledge is meaning realized.
The criterion of logical possibility is that realizability is inherent only in the concept.
Given a form of expression, the requirement for realization of the concept falls under logic.
Our standard logics are but some logics.
All possibility presumes logical possibility
In theoretical possibility, presumed realization is restricted by a theory, hypothesis, or law.
In real possibility, realization is restricted by a being or kind of being.
In a final analysis there is no effective distinction between real and theoretical possibility.
Logical, sentient, scientific, and mathematical possibility fall under real possibility.
Sentient possibility is what is realizable for sentient beings and their designs.
Under FP, either (i) there is a highest possibility, which is sentient, or (ii) given a form, there is a higher sentient form. If form includes process or if there is a highest form, the foregoing can be interpreted—the highest form is sentient.
Scientific possibility is possibility according to the known theories of science (and perhaps their paradigms tentative but reasonable extensions).
Physical, cosmological, chemical, geological, biological, psychological, social, economic, and political sciences are examples of scientific possibility.
A mathematical system is a system of undefined terms, axioms, rules of definition and inference, and definitions and inferences.
Mathematical possibility is the property of consistent mathematical systems.
Knowledge of possibility (consistency) of a mathematical is either demonstrated or relative. For systems so large that they cannot be directly examined, proof of consistency, it seems, is invariably relative.
The object of a mathematical system may be seen as (i) its syntactical system (i.e., the system itself without interpretation) (ii) interpretation in terms of mathematical models (iii) real, on FP (the real metaphysics). Item ii is questionable as a measure of consistency where the semantic definition of consistency is that a model should exist.
In a general sense, all consistent systems are realizable. In this sense, logical and metaphysical possibility are identical, and all the foregoing kinds fall under metaphysical possibility.
However, there is a more restrictive use of the term ‘metaphysical possibility’, which is appropriate when it is desired to model some real or conceptual aspect(s) of the world without being quite as concrete as to be scientific or entirely empirical.
Metaphysical possibility is a restriction of logical possibility to modeling of real, hypothetical, or conceptual aspects of the world.
The concept of metaphysical possibility is useful in building special and general-purpose metaphysical systems and ontologies.
An example of metaphysical possibility occurs in considering whether ‘mind’ is possibility without ‘body’. Insofar as mind requires form, and form requires body, mind is (a part of) body. This is a consideration of metaphysical possibility in that it was not necessary to invoke science.
Metaphysics is study of the real.
Examples in the text are sufficient to show that metaphysics in this sense is possible—i.e., it is not ruled out in saying ‘all knowledge is tinged with possible error’.
How is that so? In the first place, the ideal side of metaphysics was possible by abstraction—i.e., by conceptually filtering out distortable detail, leaving only the undistorted (and thus the abstract in this sense is concrete and definitely known). The concept of being is sufficiently abstract, that no error occurs in saying ‘there is being’.
On the other hand, the sciences of nature, society, and mind have at least pragmatic or merely concrete truth, which, we saw fell under the real metaphysics (the concept of pragmatic knowledge—of pragmatism—is that which enables success according to an accepted value without reference to the meaning of the concept). This invoked an extension of the concept of metaphysics occasioned by the value of ultimate realization revealed from the ideal side. This in turn is entirely rational (with best or optimal realization as the criterion), provided it is not thought that perfect representation is entailed (note that it is entailed on the ideal side).
The meaning of perfection is emergent rather than imposed.
The Kantian and post-Kantian objections to metaphysics have been removed, not by saying that the absolutely non-empirical (i.e., what cannot be sensed by any conceivable being) can be known, but by an analysis that has broadened the range of the empirical.
Note that there is no essential distinction between the abstract and the concrete—rather, they lie on a continuum. This stands in contrast to most modern conceptions of abstract objects—see Abstract Objects (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Without FP, all abstract concepts are potentially realizable (as are all concrete concepts). With FP, the abstract and the concrete are equally realized. What is different may be that since the abstract and concrete lie toward ‘opposite’ ends of a continuum, they would be studied or known differently. The abstract generally tend to (non-perceptual) conceptualization, the concrete to perception. In any final analysis, however, it may be noted that the distinction between non-perceptual conceptualization and perception break down.
Thus metaphysics may be seen as a collection of abstract and concrete sciences—particularly, logic, mathematics, and the ‘concrete’ sciences (see the system of human knowledge).
As seen above, the real metaphysics has an emergent system of ethics (i) in showing an ultimate value that is interwoven with the immediate (in part via pathways of realization (ii) in showing that there is an aesthetics of enjoyment in balancing being on a path, joy, pain, and their appreciation (ii) which is interactive with knowledge in contributing to determination of criteria of validity.
In this short work, no further remark will be made on value theory, axiology, ethics, or aesthetics, except to say that the real metaphysics provides a source of (some) foundation for these endeavors.
We will look at certainty, its significance, where it is significant, where it is not, and what approaches and attitudes may emerge where absolute certainty is less than certain. We will find that doubt is essential to the establishment and critique of certainty. Though traditional epistemic criteria are not seen as value related, here we show that ethical and aesthetic concerns are important. We take up approaches to constructive creativity, using the concept of reflexivity.
If doubt is central to certainty—to truth, why was it not taken up earlier and in the main text? The response is that it is implicitly present in the early sections of the main text where we considered questions such as what might order the diversity of human ways of life. It is implicitly present in the introduction of being and awareness as fundamental concepts, for in the history of thought both of those concepts have been part of a response to the question What is fundamental or foundational to knowledge, rational action, and our place in and relation to the world?
We saw that knowledge is meaning realized. The claim of certainty is not just that the concept relates to the object but (i) in some sense there is an object and (ii) the concept is faithful to the object. Of course, this raises questions of epistemology—e.g., what does this faithfulness mean (what it is), and what are or may be its criteria. And it also touches upon ethics for the choice of criteria and perhaps, therefore, of the meaning of faithfulness, might depend on what we value.
1. We sometimes want certainty in knowledge, but not always. Regardless, analysis of certainty may inform us—
2. Where certainty is possible and where it is not, where it is trivial, and where it is significant,
3. How to attain it where it is possible and significant,
What criteria may be employed where certainty seems difficult, impossible, and not relevant or fundamental.
And analysis of certainty where it is trivial may inform us—
4. How to attain it where it is not trivial.
Appreciate that these issues touch on epistemology (obviously), metaphysics (because analysis of the world may show its knowability—or even be inseparable from knowability), ethics or value, religion and lifeways (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, especially point 3), and reason (as intersecting epistemology and as tying the issues together). Note that point 4 exemplifies the significance of philosophical focus on what may ordinarily seem obvious—as informing us (i) as to the nature of our being-in-the world (ii) how to move beyond the immediate and the ‘obvious’ to the ultimate and not so obvious.
Because we sometimes fail to know correctly, we come to doubt knowledge (perhaps we are ‘essential doubters’ in that doubt is natural rather than consequent on failure)—we doubt that the concept is faithful to the object.
So, when I doubt my knowledge or when someone else asks me “How do you know?”, I might indeed reflect on how I know, and to then seek to know how I know and implement it. Of all the things we think we know, there are various reasons to doubt them (the main one being that concept and object are not identical and that consequently any knowledge may be uncertain until established otherwise). This is roughly the line of reasoning that led Descartes to his method of doubt and his resolution that began with the cogito argument. While that argument, especially if refined to tie up some loose ends, is widely accepted as convincing, we may find disagreement with parts of the remainder of his argument (e.g., is there a need to find bodies with extension, over and above the establishment, for does not any form, even a concept require extension, and if so, then, if the concept is spatially extensional, the existence of the object would imply its extensionality). But regardless of what we think of his entire argument, one thing seems established—doubt is a potent approach to establishing truth and (degree of) certainty.
But to leverage doubt, it is not enough to just have doubt—it is not enough to stop at doubt. One has to do something with it. What? Not just to think “this may be wrong” but to question “how or why it is wrong”, i.e., to criticize, and then to ponder (creatively), how to establish it right or wrong, and if wrong, how to find what may be right. That is, criticism ought not to stop there (as is often imparted in education) but to move on to creative thought—essentially new thought, not arising out of method or what came before. And once having had creative thoughts, again to criticize… and so on and so on.
Doubt and certainty are dual.
Criticism and creativity are dual.
In the history of thought, established approaches to criticism have arisen. A modern stand out example is Wittgenstein’s critiques of philosophy (this is not intended as endorsement).
Criticism and creativity are sources of logic and arrival at logical systems, scientific method and sciences, mathematical systematics and mathematical systems, moral criticism and ethics.
But criticism and schools may overreach their own validity. Generations may accept a critical school, e.g., logical positivism, only to find it wanting.
There needs to be—it is effective for there to be—criticism of criticism.
Criticism of criticism is an example of reflexivity—a discipline reflecting itself, a ‘meta’ discipline.
The notion of reflexivity may be extended to potentially every element of reason, critical and creative, interacting with every other (of course with attempt at and practice of good judgment, formal and intuitive).
I leave general ‘reflexivity’ at that—a potential and powerful element of ‘method’.
We saw that the possibility of metaphysics arises not because we somehow transcend the empirical but in questioning (i) what it is to be empirical and (ii)what things are or may be empirically known. The response was, effectively, not to jettison the empirical but (i) to expand to knowability and its elements, of which one is the empirical and (ii) to see that while certain objects are not known and perhaps hardly knowable in detail, yet they are knowable with sufficient abstraction and / or with appropriate criteria. Abstraction led to the ideal side of the real metaphysics, pragmatism even of a rough sort leads to the pragmatic side, and while the pragmatic is imperfect by, say, correspondence criteria, the join of the ideal and the pragmatic, the real metaphysics, was perfect by criteria that emerged with the metaphysics.
Its significant to see this simultaneous and reflexive emergence of knowledge (metaphysics), method (epistemology, criteria), and ethics (value)—in fact, to see their inseparability.
A proof of the metaphysics was given in the main text. Another proof was noted in this appendix > universe. Heuristic arguments can be given which though they are not proof, support the reasonableness of FP (see the site for the way of being).
However, doubt remains (i) because of the appeal and significance of tangible (strictly empirical) demonstration (ii) regarding the necessity of the given proofs (iii) from the magnitude of FP and its consequences and (iv) because I present the real metaphysics as a contribution not just to knowledge but also to destiny and the consequent (a) responsibility to society and (b) ego burden (with regard to which I ought perhaps to be neutral but am not).
What can we do about this residual doubt?
It is critical to note that while we doubt the proof of FP and may doubt some interpretations and consequences, it remains that FP is logically, experientially, and scientifically consistent. That is, there is and can be no rational disproof of its validity, and an empirical disproof is hardly at hand.
Further, consider the value suggested by the real metaphysics, e.g., the magnitude and realization of the ultimate which is ‘real realization’ and not just knowledge of the ultimate (I say ‘suggested’ because we are contemplating doubt of the metaphysics, but if the metaphysics is true, the value is real).
This value may lead us to consider the principle as valid so as to maximize the expected value of the outcome, should we choose to base our knowledge and action on the principle.
Concerning the value of knowledge, we propose—
To regard the fundamental principle of metaphysics as a metaphysical postulate on which to base knowledge, particularly metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and reason.
Concerning the value of the outcome of action, we propose—
To regard the fundamental principle as an existential principle of attitude and action, which will maximize the expected value of the outcome.
Reason is the means of knowing, whether of knowledge or value or effective action, and includes understanding or direct knowing, indirect knowing or inference as arriving at conclusions from premises, and experiment (Immanuel Kant conceived of reason as indirect knowing or inference).
While we sometimes think of reason as associated with the critical side of knowing, the creative side is essential to knowing; it is essential for the critical and creative sides to interact at more than one level—in regard to knowing the world, and in regard to reason itself (which in principle need not be mentioned since reason is part of the world. That the critical and creative sides ought to interact is an aspect of reflexivity.
Under the real metaphysics, induction or inductive inference (e.g., generalization) and deduction or deductive inference (to what is implicit in premises), are (of course) different with regard to degree of certainty (ability to predict without error), but not fundamentally different with regard to value and realization. Similarly, certain direct knowledge (by abstraction) and uncertain concrete direct knowledge are not fundamentally different with regard to value and realization. Thus, it is seen again, how logic, mathematics, and science are brought under the umbrella of metaphysics (note the parallels: arriving at a concrete scientific theory as well as a mathematical system is an inductive process of trial and error, while inference under the theory or system is as certain as given by the nature of the system and in this sense is ‘deductive’).
Knowledge is a priori if its ground or foundation is independent of experience of the world (which is sometimes specified to exclude experience of learning the language in which the knowledge is expressed). In a more inclusive meaning, the a priori is also independent of reason.
Thus the a priori is that which is received without foundation, partial or total.
The development of the real metaphysics has shown regarding the ideal side of the metaphysics that results from abstraction has no a priori. There is an a priori in contexts where certainty is a value. However, from the point of view of the value of ultimate realization revealed by the ideal side of the metaphysics, the a priori to concrete knowledge has no significance. Thus, for the join of the ideal and the pragmatic in the real metaphysics, knowledge and its ground emerge together. Further, regarding the individual or society as part of the universe of experiential, given the fundamental principle, there is and can be no a priori—the meaning of ‘the a priori’ is nil in that there is nothing underlying experiential being in terms of cause or reason.
There is no ultimate a priori.