Dear Robin

I have been feeling a need to write this letter for some time. The apparent delay in writing it is a result of my wanting to be sure of what I should say (this is roughly the sixth version of the letter.) I will start with a summary of content. The summary is followed by a detailed version which includes elaboration, further points and ‘arguments.’ I could have made the letter shorter but it turned out to function, in addition to communication, as a re-thinking, re-criticism and reaffirmation of my life and choices. The summary functions as a short version

You recently asserted some negative assessments of me. I do not think it is productive of a healthy relationship between us to dwell on such things even if the assessments are true (why would one want to relate to someone who one does not respect or from whom one does not receive respect? Of course you are my brother and I will always want to have a relationship with you – in fact I often wish we had more of a relationship. However, given mutual love, mutual respect can only serve to make it better. Also, if one of your reasons for the assessment is to inform me of it you should know that the possibility of the truth of the kind of assessment in question has been part of my thinking not just recently but for years. And it is not merely an issue that stands in isolation. Instead, my choices fit in with my understanding of ‘the way the world is.’) You may feel that you were answering a question that I asked but you actually answered a different question – a ‘negative’ interpretation of the one that I asked. While I wondered whether you appreciated what I have been trying to do (construct) with my life, you addressed what I have not been doing – what it may seem that I have been avoiding. It is ‘fine’ with me that you have done this explicitly on this recent occasion but it is unacceptable that this should continue whether explicitly or by suggestion except under conditions of mutual agreement, mutual disclosure, and mutual analysis (criticism. It would not be my intent to criticize you or anyone else or their values but such criticism might be entailed or appear to be entailed and I would not want to have to avoid that or even skirt around it)

I disagree with the assessment that you seem to have made. Whereas you may be seeing my ‘choices’ as a lack of choice and action in light of a lack or loss in confidence, I see those choices as positive and active. Though the clarity and depth of the choices and my understanding of them has evolved, I recognized the essential value behind the choice may years ago. To have a value and to implement it in the form of a choice in one’s life especially in that in the implementation one has to face certain consequences and related concerns (fears) regarding what might be left behind. I worked through the difficulties of the implementation in the years 1985-1987; the clarity with which I recognized what I had done came later and its ‘necessity’ even later; the necessity was addressed in a letter that I wrote to our parents in 1996

What am I doing with my life, why, and why have I chosen to continue in my specific circumstances (work and so on)?

I am following inner imperatives, my passion and my highest ideal. An ideal, in the present case, is a concept. My highest ideal is my concept of the highest ideal. My concept of the highest ideal has (necessarily) evolved and grown as my understanding of the world and my (our) place in it has grown. That there is one highest ideal may be criticized. Ancient Greece had a number of concepts of it; Medieval Europe had rather different ideals; in the Modern World doubt has been cast on all forms of objectivity and the question of ideals has floundered in the face of various forces that include nihilism, relativism and pluralism. There is an easy solution to these concerns: the search for ideals is itself an ideal. That is, ‘the highest ideal’ is no longer given as pure fact but process is adjoined to fact and therefore the category of objectivity does not (fully) apply in the case

Why am I doing this? In other words why am I following my imperatives and (highest) ideals? Why don’t I come to my senses and grow up? Then, why do others not cultivate and follow there ideals? There are those who do and those who don’t. The answers to such questions are not one-dimensional. In my case the answer factors in the relative strengths of inner vision vs. external factors (security, warmth, prestige…), the ability to forge an understanding of the world (which I believe is a significant contribution and I hope will be recognized and accepted as such and not merely for my sake but also because I believe that it will represent a significant advance,) that my belief in the success of my thought contributes to making the process (my process) rewarding and therefore self-sustaining. In addition to the determinate factors ‘chance’ has entered at a number of points, sometimes in the form of ‘crisis’ (you may have read that the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ is the same as its symbol for ‘opportunity’)

Why do I choose to continue on in my specific situation? I have addressed this in detail in what follows. Here, I will say, simply, that my position at mental health has made it possible for me to do what I have wanted to do with my life[1]. As my projects move toward (relative) completion this may change. There are additional details in what follows where I discuss in detail the push and pull between external factors (career, salary, prestige…) and the internal ones (conviction, ideals, passion, adventure, enjoyment…)

I have wondered whether it is good to write such a letter as this. That I should feel a need to write it is a concern – in a number of ways. That you might take the letter as a criticism of you makes me hesitate to send it. When people are different the very existence of one individual may be taken as implicit commentary on others. However, there is no (conscious) motive or intent to be critical; further, I do not feel critical of you. I hope you will see that the fact that I am writing / sending this letter means that you are important to me. The motives include stating a disagreement and indicating why I disagree. I also write because I do not want you to feel that it is all right to criticize me at will. I am not implying that you have made this a habit. In fact I have felt supported by you over the years. However, I sense a possible change and I feel it is important to put a stop to any potential change of the type in question. I cannot and do not want to control your attitudes and behavior so what I have to say is not intended in that way. Instead, if I felt that our interaction were proceeding in a direction that were undesirable or distasteful to me I would avoid those portions of the interaction. The more important motive is to share and communicate more. In terms of our relationship and in terms of my place in the world, the best situation regarding your view of me is that it would be a positive one. However, I know that I cannot change the way you see things. Here, all that I can do is to state my views. The ‘2nd’ best situation, should you continue to hold a negative view, is for me to state my disagreement. In a way it is good that you have said what you have said for it is now out in the open and can be addressed. As I often said, negative criticism may be unpleasant but it is a spur. If the criticism is valid it should be a spur to improve. If, instead, it is seen as being mistaken, it may be a spur to revaluate one’s situation. In either case, if the parties involved are not stuck in terms of ego, i.e. if the egos are fluid and adaptive, then such criticism may be an opportunity to take the relations among the parties to greater depth. This letter may be seen as a step in the direction of depth. I am not asserting that this should be of value to you. That is for you to decide. There appears to be an opportunity. Whether there is one and whether it will be taken remains to be seen


You probably remember our conversation a few months ago when I asked you, ‘Do you know what I am trying to do with my life?’ Your response was ‘this might irritate you’ but ‘I think you have lost confidence over the years.’ You did say this may be mistaken. However it seems to me that you held this view in a more than hypothetical way. I may be mistaken – of course but I have a number of reasons for thinking so. I think this in part because of the rapidity with which you asserted that the fact that I do not have American Citizenship as an example of the same thing. Another reason for thinking that it is more than a hypothesis is what appears to me to be an emergence in your spoken attitudes in such matters of a consistently negative slant. Finally, the question the you answered was a negative interpretation ‘why I was not doing what I was not doing’ which is not equivalent to the one I asked except under certain circumstances

I did not and do not feel irritated but I do feel some sense of loss because I had assumed that you had seen what I have been doing in a positive light. The feeling of loss is particularly acute because you are my brother and would not exist at all if you were not important to me

There are two issues that seem to have arisen for me in addition to the feeling of loss. The first is whether I agree with your assessments. I address this below. The second issue regards various presumptions that may lie behind making such assessments. In a mentor-student and certain other relationships between ‘unequals’ there may be the presumption that the mentor is in a position to instruct the student. In our relation the presumption from my side is that, at least nominally, we are equals. It seems to me that this presumption has been violated and this is not acceptable to me

It would be unreasonable of me to expect you to not hold the views that you think to be reasonable. However, even if you thought and continue to think that your view is correct I do not want our conversations we have to be regarded as an occasion to say something critical about me. I am not saying that you would do that but I do want to establish that that is something that I do not want. Again I cannot tell you what to say or to not say but I can tell you what my wishes are and that if my wishes were disregarded I would avoid such conversations. Similarly, I would avoid conversations in which it consistently seems that the presumption of equality is violated. I have no desire to criticize you. However, I would consider an exception if you were open to a complete consideration of issues and values and if you were to open your self up to criticism. I would not necessarily want to criticize you but I would want you to be open to such criticism. I can see that such an arrangement might have value; it would, naturally, require time and dedication. I also want to add that as a result of a habit of self-questioning it is hardly likely that I should not have registered and reflected upon negative explanations of the type in question

I can tell you what I think regarding ‘confidence.’ I do not think of my self as a supremely confident person. There is a mix of confidence and a lack of it and, when do I act with confidence I am occasionally surprised because I think of my self as a mix. However, I do not think there is a loss of confidence in my ability to find or perform in other positions (or to do good work.) What I do doubt is that I would sustain interest in work of the kind in question. I never did sustain interest in that kind of work even though I thought I might. At this time the likelihood of sustaining interest is even less because the career interest would be less and because it would suffer from comparison with the kind of thought with which I have been occupied over the last twenty or so years which has been so much more enjoyable for me

I do not agree with what seems to be your view of me. As you said, your view may be in error since our interaction has not been extensive. However, it does seem as though your interpretation is toward of the negative end of the possibilities that are consistent with limited information. I use the phrase ‘seem as though’ because I do not know precisely what your thoughts are. It also seems that (refer back to the first paragraph of this letter) that your interpretations regard to my life, have been taking a characteristically negative turn. Why might this be the case? One possibility is that the information that you lack is systematic in nature. Another not altogether independent possibility is that your interpretations may be systematically slanted by how you think you might feel if you were in (what you see as) my circumstances. Our parents were famous for this kind of interpretation regarding their children. I’m not sure why there might be such a feeling in your case but there may also be some element of competition (such competition, conscious or not, is not uncommon among siblings even in the presence of mutual affection.) Perhaps, in some ways and perhaps not altogether consciously, you are trying to distance yourself from me – this is just a thought, a guess. However, if this is true, I would like to know its truth explicitly and definitely and not through fuzzy guessing

Your considerations may also have been affected by the fact that I have been talking about getting an engineering or similar job for years. It is also true that my intentions in that direction have been real. It is something I have wanted in some ways – the desire ebbs and flows. Each ebb and flow seems real to me at the time. However, a more accurate reflection of my intentions and motives is as follows. My reasons for wanting to get such work lie in the extrinsic aspects (and in wanting to avoid some of the unpleasant aspects of my present work) such as money and prestige but not in the work itself. I am not immune from such considerations or to being affected by the opinions of others but I am, I think, driven by internal and intrinsic factors to an extent that is more than typical. There is a balance between the extrinsic appeal of that engineering or similar work and the intrinsic appeal of what I currently do which is not the work at mental health but the fact that it allows me to pursue my interests, my real passion, in a way that was not possible when I was teaching (I work eight hours a day, I do not take work home.) The situation is not altogether simple, however, and my perception of the balance is not static. The balance has been quite delicate and I have often been tempted to capitulate. However, when I picture myself in what might have been regarded as the normal career path and imagine how I might feel in having given up my ‘highest ideal and passion’ (see later) I see myself then, in that career mode, as a ‘loser,’ as having had the opportunity to encounter truth but having turned my back on it

Over recent years our conversations have been fairly casual. It seems to me that you may have taken what is said casually and in casual conversation as a whole picture. The chances of the conversations being more than casual are low. This is because almost always, after some ‘brief words,’ you want to end the conversation. Sometimes when I call you, you prefer to call me back at a later time. Perhaps what I said above about ‘you are trying to distance yourself…’ is not altogether accurate. Perhaps the distancing is already in place. I am not objecting to the kind of communication that we have. I am simply saying that, in general, what we say has little chance of being more than casual. Therefore, it is unlikely to be sure that a whole and accurate picture has been revealed in our talks. This is compounded by the (possible) fact that, given the differences in our lives and what is important to us; your framework of perception is oblique to the object of perception. If you have read that there are such things as animals and are looking for an animal but the only animal you are able to recognize is a mouse, then you will not see any animals even if you are in Serengeti and in the midst of elephants, lions, wildebeest, crocodile, vultures, leopards, and men. Then, when you do see some mice and photographed mice in their habitat and have documented their statistics, you may think, ‘Ah, I have seen the animals of the Serengeti,’ and ‘I am stronger and more powerful than all the animals in the Serengeti.’ The little metaphor suppresses numerous subtleties that are complex enough that complete analysis was beginning to get out of hand (for the purposes of this letter) and so I leave you with the metaphor. In 1954 famous psychiatrist, Harry Stack Sullivan published The Psychiatric Interview, a book of about two hundred pages. In the introduction he writes words to the following effect (I can’t quote because I gave my copy of the book away.) ‘There are stories of famous analysts who were able to perceive the total picture regarding a client at a glance. Such stories may be apocryphal but there are analysts who pride themselves on being able to evaluate clients based on cursory and superficial information. This practice is very poor and invariably serves to feed the ego of the analyst.’ I suppose that the ‘ego’ is not the only factor that may promote cursory evaluation; other factors may be economic and lack of interest. I think that the general estimation of others is at least as difficult as it is for the psychiatrist evaluating a client. In the first place, people who are ‘well’ may be at least as complex as those who are ill, i.e. wellness is more complex than disturbance, and, secondly, analysts (should) receive training in correcting (or compensating for and even using) the distortions and contortions of perception. In this connection I may add that, regardless of the nature of our original relationship, I think you have been the beneficiary, in our current relationship, of not being subject to evaluation and while I do not proclaim that this is proper or ideal it does approach my ideal

I have been feeling the need to write this letter for a while and have in fact written a number of versions that are not satisfactory to me. One reason for writing this letter is self-respect. Another is I do not want a negative slant to enter into our relationship. I do not want the fact that you have expressed your views to become a precedent for negativism. In my opinion this should be true regardless of the truth of your views. However, the letter would not be worth the effort if I did not think it was worthwhile sharing my thoughts with you and if I did not think that there was something worth sharing

What you have said has had a positive outcome. It is that I confronted some issues and re-worked other ones. I addressed the issue of confidence. Such issues are obviously not altogether simple but the simple version of my response is the one just stated – I have doubts that I would sustain interest in technical work despite its pull (I should have learnt this many years ago at IIT.) Additionally, I would have to forego (fruition of) what I have achieved (below.) So, despite the pull and occasional intent, my net motive cannot have been toward technical work. As my projects become more complete, this may change but the outcome remains to be seen and, although you seem to think otherwise, I do not doubt that, if I desire it enough, I will, as long as health lasts, be able to find such work. I am not thinking that the concerns that make you think that finding such work will be impossible (or difficult) do not exist but that I can compensate for them. The reworked issue is thinking through the choices of my life (you may think otherwise but I hold them to be choices)

I would like, now, to express my view of my life. If it is true that your view is based on incomplete information then this may make provision towards a more complete and more accurate picture; or, if the objective were to be in an understanding relationship then the information may provide toward that end. You may have noticed that some people are ‘always’ talking about what is happening in their lives. I am not like that. So, in addition to the fact that we have not spent much time together, the little time we have spent together has probably not been informative. As far as I can remember, the only time that we have had an extensive sharing of information was on the occasion when you drove us to the ‘Bangladeshi’ part of London in 1995

My present situation is and continues to be the best actual solution to my highest ideal in life and to my sense of adventure

I believe that my thought has potential for a huge contribution to human thought. I believe that, in some significant ways, my thought has gone beyond anything that I have read and that includes some of the great thinkers – Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Kant, Russell and Wittgenstein. I have not seen anything in recent analytic philosophy, the dominant mode of philosophy in the English speaking countries and Scandinavia) that compares to what I have done. Although the previous two sentences are superficial, you may find extensive descriptions and analyses of the philosophers and schools of philosophy. Something that you may not recognize is how far I (my thought) has come, how much the ideas have evolved (especially in the sense of the outcome not being contained in the beginning,) how much effort it has taken, how much time this has required, what I have sacrificed, how much passion it has involved, and how greatly I have felt rewarded and exhilarated and how much there have been trials mixed in with the feelings of reward… My interest does not end with ‘thought’ but extends to ‘action’ and it remains to be seen what I may do in that regard (as described in the booklet I sent you there are some beginnings regarding ‘action,’ ‘experiment,’ and ‘transformation’)

I said earlier that there is a balance between the pull of the external factors (prestige, salary…) of some kinds of work and the reward of my present situation. In this paragraph the only reward that I refer to is that this situation permits to work on my projects – my thought, writing and so on. When I look at all the factors, it seems unlikely that I could achieve what I have done in an alternative situation. My present job does not require any commitment outside the fixed work hours. This would not be true in just about professional job, including a ‘licensed’ position (nurse, doctor, social worker) at mental health (and that does not include the amount of time required to get the license.) A teaching or research position in philosophy would also be unlikely to have permitted the achievement. In the first place, getting the required degree would have taken at least six years on the assumption that I would not have to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree before a doctorate. I would, of course, learn some valuable things in a degree program in philosophy. However, there are a number of problems with this option. In a teaching / research position, one has to teach and prepare to teach, papers require to be graded, office hours are maintained, one must be on committees, one should do community service, and, finally, one must do research. There is a huge amount of pressure to think along established lines; and one is expected to publish early and frequently. There is a reason that, even with numerous brilliant minds going into philosophy, analytic philosophy has done little to address the fundamental problems – the dominant thought since Wittgenstein is that the fundamental problems are not problems even though Wittgenstein did not say this. What he did say is that it is impossible to talk about them. However, Russell disagreed with Wittgenstein and the upshot is (in my opinion) that one cannot say anything about those problems on two assumptions (1) that one is using concrete language and (2) one’s world picture is a rigid caricature (I omit details) drawn from science and reason. (If I were writing an essay I should have to think through what I have just said carefully.) However, it seems as though almost all work subscribes to these assumptions and their hold is so strong that the thought of those who stray from the narrow path engage in either stunted or magical thought. This is because they have no experience outside that path, no guide and, instead of taking the time (years) to build up the necessary larger picture, they (perhaps due to pressure to say something, to publish) grab at something, e.g., mysticism or Hegel-like logic. I choose the example of the mystic because there was a rash of papers in the 90’s on the mystic approach; and as typical of one alternative to the narrow path. Now mysticism avows that mystic insight is intuitive insight into the ultimate. As a result, there is no connection to everyday thought. (In contrast, what I have done – this has taken years, is to find a way to talk in connecting the everyday to the ultimate in concrete terms whose meanings, of course, must be extended.) One may describe the psychology or neuro-physiology of the mystic but this cannot prove the truth of the content of the mystic’s mind (even though there are huge amounts of people who think that it can; incidentally, I am not in anyway criticizing or arguing against mystic insight itself. The mystic appears in many societies under different names. One function of the mystic is to see truth where reason has not yet gone; this is a necessary function if the objective is to navigate reality and not to be a professor of philosophy. Another function of the mystic is ‘keeper of the truth.’ I am a little bit of a mystic myself. One of my accomplishments is to have first ‘seen’ certain fundamental truths, lived with them, and then, after years, to have found a way to express the insight in concrete terms, some of them new, that permit ‘proof.’ This was the approach to the fundamental discoveries of 2002 that I discuss below.) I use my phrase, ‘Hegel-like logic’ to refer to anything that sounds intelligent, uses technical language, cloaks its key assumptions in language that sounds reasonable and that the reader might want to believe but is actually rubbish. An example of this is provided by the thought of Alvin Plantinga, a professor of philosophy and Christian Apologist at the University of Notre Dame. I will not provide examples because you can do a Google Search on “Alvin Plantinga” and see for yourself. One of the interesting things about the hold of religious beliefs (especially dogma) is that the content of the belief appears to partake of the absurd (I could say ‘is absurd’ but I think that ‘partake of’ is better.) My favorite example in the last two years has been that ‘Jesus Christ rose from the dead.’ Some people argue that such ‘stories’ are not to be taken literally; such stories, they argue, are telling us something. That someone rose from the dead, they say, tells us about death. I agree with that regardless of the original point, if there was one, behind this story. It seems to me that the rational view of death in the modern scientific-materialist paradigm, is that we know nothing about ‘the other side of death.’ Yet, modern scientific-realists (most university professors in the English speaking countries) cheerily assert that there is nothing on the other side of death or are cheerily acquiescent in the face of the existence of the assertion. Stories such as the rising from the dead question commons sense reality by making what appear to be absurd claims. There is another side to the apparent absurdity of dogma. If you can get someone to believe the absurd in literal terms, then, surely, you have quite a hold on his or her mind. Thus, as an apology, Plantinga’s arguments are doubly appealing. He doesn’t really get rid of the absurd but he does provide a pseudo-rational apology for Christian Dogma. If one were to provide a clear demonstration of the absolute falsity or absolute truth of dogma that would tend to undermine faith or the hold of faith. This is one of the things I have done. Except when I was an impressionable sixteen years old, I have always kept my attitude toward ultimate aspects of reality open. That is, even though my training and experience were quite consistent with ‘scientific-materialism’ I did think that the paradigm had described all of reality. Surely, it does describe a significant chunk of local reality but, in the absence of demonstration, the assertion that all of reality has been described is absurd. (This, however, is what scientific-materialists such as Steven Hawking believe. The argument amounts to ‘if it is not described in science, it does not exist.’) I had not original intent to say much about religion but I have found that my central discoveries have implications for faith and dogma. So, the new version of ‘Journey in Being’ will have a one section of about eleven devoted to the subject. I am meandering. I will return to the original point of this paragraph. There are reasons that academic philosophy (I am generalizing from analytic philosophy) does little to address the fundamental problems. The primary reasons are: huge pressure –both subtle in terms of sophistry and strong arm in terms of job security– to think in the accepted mode and little time to map the huge territory outside that mode. There are reasons that so much fundamental work has been done outside the academic environment. (I am not arguing that there is no fundamental work in academia.) Further, I am not trying to suggest that since I am currently outside academia, my work is fundamental. My point is that it seems to me that it would have been a mistake to have sought an academic position in philosophy. These thoughts are not something that I have invented recently; I recorded similar thoughts –their expression was perhaps less clear and complete– in the long letter that I wrote to our parents about ten years ago. This has been a rather long ‘justification’ of some of my choices. The balance among the factors that determine the choices may change as my thought proceeds toward completeness (relative to its aims)

The understanding phase of JOURNEY IN BEING is drawing to a close. What remains of this phase is working out details – applications of the central scheme to particular domains such as society, religion and faith; writing out the scheme. The next phase, the phase of ‘transformation’ or of experiment and application and so on, after having flown at a low level for many years is, I hope, beginning to take off. The essential questions are these. (1) What is the limit of possibility for BEING? (2) What is the limit of possibility for HUMAN being? That the phase is one of transformation means that I do not want the answers to be merely theoretical. What does all this mean? I am not particularly happy with the booklet that I sent you but it does contain an explanation. We are quite different in who we are and in our choices. However, I am with you in spirit in your life. I am glad for your success and participate in it vicariously. I hope that you participate similarly in my adventure

What follows is a description of what I have been occupied with since 2002

In that year I made what was, in effect, a system of discoveries with the following characteristics (1) It provides a foundation for metaphysics (the study of all BEING) that contains the seeds of a proof or demonstration that no deeper foundation is possible; (2) It permits resolution of many fundamental questions or problems such as the problems of substance and related ontologies including the mind-matter problem, the status of ‘process’ and ‘relational’ metaphysics, the problem that has been called the ‘fundamental problem of metaphysics,’ i.e. the question of why there is BEING at all instead of an absence of BEING; (3) It allows demonstration that any other coherent system of metaphysics is equivalent to it or is a sub-theory; (4) It sets in place a revision of any system of knowledge that is founded in any lesser metaphysics or is ad hoc; and there is a ‘ripple effect’ into the major disciplines of philosophy such as logic (the implications include revaluation of the nature of logic and the identities among logic and metaphysics,) ethics and cosmology (including consequences for the nature of the universe of all BEING as a whole, the nature of space and time,) and into a number of ‘specialized’ disciplines such as physics including foundations for quantum mechanics, biology, psychology and social theory; and, particularly, it has suggested and required rethinking of my own system of thought. An example of a development in psychology (the study of mind but not necessarily as practiced in the conservative university departments of the same name) is an enhanced system of the categories of intuition. The effect is not merely ‘top®down’ for the studies of the particular disciplines have provided both example and analogy that is the basis of or inspiration for the formal theory of BEING; and (5) The system of metaphysics or theory of BEING that I have developed provides answers to the questions, ‘What are the possibilities and limits of BEING?’ and ‘What are the possibilities and limits of HUMAN BEING?’ The theory, in combination of other considerations such of the categories of intuition, provides a framework for the conceptual and experimental ‘investigation’ of the questions – for exploration and experience of being and its varieties (the word investigation is in quotes because, while I do not de-emphasize a relatively detached and scientific approach, I feel –and have written extensively in justification of this feeling– that that approach is inadequate and the questions must be answered in the life of the individual and that fully living constitutes an answering of the questions even if it was not the intent to answer them…)

The form of the original discovery (the system of discoveries) has undergone a number of transformations and has become clearer in its nature and its implications since 2002. I was extremely pleased at the original discovery because it immediately resolved some fundamental questions that I had been pondering and immediately provided a foundation for some positions that were necessary to my thought but whose previous foundation had been through intuition and analogy. I doubt that I would have had the original insight without pondering BEING vs. absence of BEING for a number of years and I am certain that I would not have realized the breadth of the implications without many years of study in the variety of disciplines. Anyway, these developments acquired their own life and force and even now, while I see the ideas as more or less complete in their broad implications, the problem of how to best express them remains

This letter was originally four or five short sentences. The letter grew as I thought about my life and as I attempted to anticipate your reactions and questions. It is not the first version. This version has been revised a number of times over the last few days. Today is Wednesday, December 28, 2005. There has been a Pacific Storm for the last three days. Last night, I drove out to the Mad River Bottoms (flood plain.) That is where I used to live – you may recall the ‘945 Mad River Road’ address. Almost every winter there were floods and the threat of the levee breaking or of the water level surging over it. That is where you could sit on the front porch and ‘gaze out into infinity;’ where the sky manifested infinitely many (so it seemed) brilliant shades, and then just as many softer pastel shades arranged in ever changing mosaics. That is where cows were neighbors; where in winter storms the cows would group together for mutual warmth and protection against the element; where, on a spring or summer day one could watch gulls, crows, vultures, hawks, and occasional eagles circle the skies; where, after a storm, egret would be seen in the fields amid the cows; where, occasionally, a solitary blue heron would appear. As I drove out there tonight I was thinking of my ambitions and I thought a thought before but that appeared fresh tonight. It is ‘my ambition is to do the greatest thing.’ I have not always recognized this or where it came from. Perhaps from within, perhaps from parental exultations. Once recognized a question arose, ‘What is the greatest thing?’ ‘Does it not depend on the individual?’ Or, despite individual variations on the greatest thing, perhaps there is a universal rendering of it. That would have to follow from a world view (a metaphysics) and it would have to be a logical consequence of primitive data. I continued driving on often flooded and ill maintained county roads. The skies changed from sunlit to a mosaic of light pink and grey with orange-silver borders to blue-grey dusk. As day turned to night, infinity asserted itself. I stopped at the Hammond bridge over the Mad River. It was in full spate. It was angry and dynamic with swells, ripples, opaque milk-brown flow, and fallen trees and trunks undulating with the heave and swell carried down toward the ocean. I felt awe but not smallness; I felt beauty, peace and yet violent oneness with the rough edges of things, the swelling power of the accumulated deluge of rain upon the mountains to the east. A friend of mine once said that he had very little sense of taste; food, therefore, did not excite or interest him. Eating was necessary for survival. Relative to my rational capacities, I feel, sometimes, that my appetite for things, for ‘being’ over ‘reason’ is opposite to my friends relation to food. I have ‘too much’ appetite for nature – in the sense that it displaces or tends to displace the Appolinian (rational, serene) mode of living in favor of the Dyonisian (enjoyment, but perhaps subject to fluctuations of mood; there is a view of this kind of person enjoying everything to excess and with a vengeance but that is not what I mean except that I think I do include some enjoyment with abandon.) But that is who I am. It is too much in one way; in another it is just what it is. And yet, without Dyonisius, Appollo would be flat; without Appollo, Dyonisius would fall into the chaos of non-being. Thought returned to the the greatest thing. I wondered, is not the impulse to do the greatest thing, to think that one might do it, that one might have had some small success in that direction an unhumble thought? Is humility not in order? But then, ‘In what way does humility help;’ ‘to prevent the fall that comes after pride?’ and then ‘is not that an assertion of mere ego; I am so afraid of a fall that I will not risk pride in the service of the infinite.’ Or, because I want to avoid personal failure, the approbation of men, I will avoid the ultimate possibility. It is true that one must acknowledge one’s finitude; but, in order to avoid shame and ridicule, one is led to acknowledge so much more: that one has elements of the finite becomes interpreted as ‘I am infinitesimal in all my ways.’ I asked, ‘How can one not want to do the greatest thing?’

My studies (fairly comprehensive over the range of human knowledge,) research, reflection and other experience over the years is good preparation for the claims of the previous paragraphs. However the only way to evaluate those claims is to evaluate what I have written. To that end I might recommend the booklet that I sent you but sometimes treatments are well buried in the text. The next version that I expect to be complete within a year should be more explicit in its treatment

In this paragraph I will discuss an aspect of myself that you may not know. My ambition is such that nothing short of achieving the greatest thing will do. Some might say that this is foolish or absurd or self-defeating; others may think that in extreme ambition lies the destruction of our world. However, I argue otherwise. Of course I am not saying and will not attempt to argue that everyone should do the same; in this regard I make no judgment of others. That is not quite true; I think it is a good thing for people to lead lives of simple contentment; that people do that gives me happiness. What I mean is that I make no negative judgment of such lives. My argument that my ambition is not ‘foolish’ and is a good thing is as follows. It begins with the thought that the ‘highest ideal,’ the ‘greatest thing’ are valuable. This is not really an assumption but its truth is a priori. An argument against that claim may be mounted but that argument must depend on the concept of ‘ideal’ and ‘highest ideal.’ My concept of the ‘highest ideal’ is that it is not altogether given but is itself part of what is sought; and that, further, the ‘highest ideal’ is multivalent; the life of simple contentment is included; the enthusiastic criticism of excessive idealism is included. However to argue against the ‘highest ideal’ after consideration of my concept of it, except for counter-conception that would, at minimum, have to show my conception to be empty, would be perverse. Now, even though I may be a complete failure in my achievement of the ideal, given that I may have some talent or ability, given that I am aware of the potential for failure and success, my ‘mission’ is still valuable, for it should be in the fact that there are individuals who have such ambitions that some individuals may achieve it. Here is something to which I might object. I begin with an analogy. My objection to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and similar fundamentalists is not that they are wrong but that their presence is a dilution of the truth. Yet I cannot object altogether if I believe in individual freedom, if I believe that the path to truth is not through reason alone, and, perhaps, when I remember that faith has a social function and when I remember the good that the Witnesses have done (harboring the persecuted in WWII at risk of their own safety.) I think that summary criticism of fundamentalism seeks, often, to shore up the ego of the critic; and it tends to widen and make entrenched the gulf between faith and ‘reason.’ I might object to those who do not use their talents in service of the highest ideal and my reasons for and hesitations regarding such objection are similar to my reasons and objections in the case of fundamentalist faith

You mentioned happiness as one of my possible motives. I bring this up in order to clear what may be a misperception. Happiness itself has not been a primary driving force. The primary forces have (included) been passion, adventure, and discovery. The whole concern with happiness arose when our parents decided on a number of occasions, sometimes from 10,000 miles away, always without asking me a single question, that I was unhappy over this or that thing. Not only did they make such decisions but they appeared to attach to them an emotional intensity comparable to the grief phase of a Bollywood melodrama. If they were still alive they would probably still thinking of me as rather bereft of happiness and accomplishment. Dad especially seemed to think in this vein. Perhaps you have inherited dad’s perspective. If I was not happy they would not let it go. If I was happy, nothing I said could persuade them of it. They were unhappy (at least obsessed) by their thought that I was unhappy. I did not like their obsession and it was an issue of contention. This is how ‘happiness’ became perceived as a central concern

The following point is somewhat tangential to my reasons for writing this letter but it may answer questions that you have had. While on the topic I may say that I think that I am reasonably happy. I enjoy my work even though there are negative factors. Any job that takes me away from what I truly want to do would be a source of resentment. There are additional negative factors to my work at mental health that I have mentioned from time to time. At the same time, it can be a huge amount of fun at times. It is sometimes so ‘entertaining’ that I joke that we should have to pay to work there. Working with the clients, having good interactions, keeping someone warm and safe, seeing someone get well, and contributing to that are rewarding – and on the human level, more rewarding than any other work I have done (except the brief stint at the convalescent hospital in 1990.) I have enjoyed working on the document automation and have learnt much from it. In working on it I have learnt where some of my programming deficiencies lie and have some interest in putting in the requisite effort to eliminate them. If I were to do that, I would be able to automate the entire (quite complex) documentation system. Yet, I know I would not enjoy the fact that that would detract a huge amount from my primary ‘mission’ in life. Also, even as technical work, it would not be basic or intrinsically exciting (except) for some technical challenges. It might, however, be a preliminary to more exciting work but it would still detract from ‘Journey etc.’ Working on my projects, ideas and so on and ideas makes me happy; but more than happy, I feel that I am doing something vital. I suppose that having a girl friend and enjoying the relationship, would add to my happiness. I enjoy friends but have been ‘sacrificing’ friendship for my ‘passions.’ I like being in ‘nature’ the woods, under the stars… I think if I were employed in a position where I worked only on my projects and according to a schedule of my choosing I would be in bliss. This is a relatively complete account of my ‘happiness’ system except for one thing. I have had a share of unhappiness (this is not a lament;) and there are stupid things that make me brood at times (one does not have total choice in one’s original propensities;) yet, I think I have a talent (and have cultivated this talent) for enjoying situations small and large and for enjoying life itself

This has not primarily been a letter of complaint. I do not think of it as ‘complaining’ but have used the word because it might be seen as such. Were the letter merely one of complaint, I would be embarrassed to send it to you. I will say once again, that you are important to me in more ways than that I care for you. I have often felt that, though our outlooks are different, we share, at least in empathy, ‘the adventure.’ The letter may be seen as an invitation. I demand nothing. I do not know whether you will agree what I have been arguing in the letter. An important reason to explain ‘my life’ (over and above ego concerns: mine that I do not like being seen in negative light, and yours that as long as you see me in such light you may be blind to what is there) is to open to you the possibility of sharing such adventure at least vicariously, in spirit and in principle

What I said in my recent response to Susan’s email remains true. I have always loved you and continue to do so. I also want to say, and should have said so long ago, that I am and will always be grateful to you and Susan for all that you did for mum and dad


[1] Here are some additional thoughts. There is no job in this county (and probably in the neighboring counties) where I would work fixed hours, not take work home (and so have time to work on my own projects at home) and get paid as much (the pay is higher than in all other hospitals and my pay is 2.5 times as much as that of nursing assistants in some local hospitals; additionally county benefits are among the best locally.) Therefore, my position is one of relative comfort (I would be more comfortable if I were earning 1.5 times as much and twice as much would approach luxury.) As my projects proceed toward completion, the balance between the external and internal factors may shift (ideally without compromising the internal.) You seem to have and our parents seemed to have had a gloomy picture of the work that I do at Mental Health. I am not altogether sure why. You wondered whether I might be irritated by your remarks and my response is that I was not irritated. However, this gloomy picture (that I perceive you as having and our parents as having had) has been a source of annoyance and also of puzzlement. At core, such perception assumes the superiority of the perceiver (even though such superiority might not be consciously felt) and the annoyance has origin in the possible perception of inferiority even though no intrinsic inferiority is felt. The source of the puzzlement is as follows. Why are other intelligent people so entrenched in their views? It should not be a puzzle of course, to the extent that hierarchy is ingrained and ‘necessary…’ And, should not an intelligent person be able to overcome the effect of his perception of the perception of others and his annoyance? The ‘Mental Health Worker’ role was originally created as distinct from the ‘Nursing Assistant.’ Although there is some overlap in function there is a separate ‘Mental Health Assistant’ position. Original purposes of the Mental Health Worker included: to fulfill a need for an expertise function in the face of shortage of nurses and social workers; and to create a position that would attract individuals with both abilities and education. When I started work at Mental Health in 1990, the program contracted by the county to Kingsview – a private corporation that runs a number of psychiatric hospitals in California. In 1991, the county resumed control of mental health. At that time, the position, previously ‘Program Assistant,’ was upgraded, with corresponding upgrade in pay, to Mental Health Worker and we were invited to and I made contribution to the upgrade. Specifically, I described in detail the work and the contribution made in the role – in terms of interaction with and assessment of clients and in documentation. There are certain things that I do not like about the work and I have shared these with you. However the following is true. The work is often enjoyable and rewarding. The first seven years may be described as wonderful. After the seven years a number of factors began to change. The pull of the external factors began to reassert themselves (since I don’t take work home, it continued and continues to remain true that the position enables work on my projects in a way that no other job has allowed.) In 1987, I had written Evolution and Design in which I attempted to understand the world and our position in it from an evolutionary perspective. I was very pleased with the work. By 1992, I began to feel a need for some alternative perspective and began to have ideas for such perspectives. By 1998, I had concrete ideas and wrote some essays from new perspectives that I now find inadequate (the inadequacies and much more are addressed in my latest work.) At that time my thought and writing became imperative and I began to resent any time and energy spent on something else (even when I enjoyed the time.) The following is still true. I enjoy my coworkers more than I have done in any other job and likely more than I would in any professional (requiring extensive training…) situation. Many workers in my position and the one just below it (Mental Health Worker I) have college degrees – mostly in psychology and social work. My abilities are respected. The quality of the work that we (people in my position) do significantly affects the quality of the work environment. Finally, in slow times I can work on projects. I say these things for you. Except for the facts that I am able to ‘get along’ and that I am able to follow inner imperatives and passion I do not, in general, seek further justification or think that such justification is needed or applicable