The signicance of Being
What is Being and how and why is it an extremely powerful idea?
ANIL MITRA © April 25, 2013. REVISED August 05, 2014
The signicance of Being
Understanding is effective when the variety of phenomena is given in simple terms. It is well founded when the simple terms are secure.
Many systems of understanding are practically secure but not perfectly so—e.g. materialism (and physicalism which is the view that the elements of physics are the elements of the world). When we posit the kinds of matter which we infer from a range of experience that the representation is perfect (for perfect representation, the gap between 10-40 and zero is essentially infinite for perfect representation) or that it extends to the entire universe.
Being does not posit kinds in the way of materialism and idealism—and this was its initial appeal. However the extant philosophies of Being are with other kinds of commitments that cloud the concept and make it no better as foundation than matter, idea, process and so on.
My thought worked its way back to the original meaning of Being.
The concept of Being is that it is or refers to ‘that which is’.
Thus it does not posit a special kind. It marks only what is in the world and not what is fiction. Its scope is therefore real and inclusive. This is the first source of the power of the concept of Being.
Because it is so neutral and inclusive we might expect that it might not be as powerful as the notions of matter and idea. We might in fact expect that Being gives us no instrumental power at all.
It has turned out that Being is the source of an ultimate metaphysics—a universal metaphysics that captures or represents the entire universe and shows that the universe is the ‘greatest’ possible.
It does not follow that Being and its power are conceptually exclusive of matter and mind and their power. The situation is not ‘either / or’. Whatever is in the world is in Being. The power of Being may combine with the power of other specifically instrumental forms to constitute a system of understanding that is aesthetically satisfying and instrumentally powerful. The metaphysics is container for all valid science—past, present, and future. The union of the metaphysics and science is far more powerful instrumentally than science alone.
However, as noted above the term ‘Being’ has undesirable connotations. Nonetheless etymology of Being as formed from the verb ‘to be’ is precisely suited to the use of Being here.
In this section I want to show the power of Being and work and so show why such kinds as matter and mind do not possess this power.
Define the Universe as All Being.
Already this concept of Universe has a power that is not possessed by an alternate definition as all matter (or all matter and energy). There is nothing outside the Universe; this is not certainly true for the material universe. There can be many material universes—even an indeterminate number of them (e.g. if there are kinds of matter that are different from ours and not in communication with ours) but only one Universe. Is an idea in the Universe? Yes (if ideas are real) but it is not clear whether ideas are in the material universe.
What is the status of a natural law? Its objects are in the material universe but where is the law itself? Perhaps in some ideal universe; but perhaps a law is a mere description; but where is a description? However, all laws are in the Universe.
Define the Void as the absence of Being.
The Void so defined is absolute emptiness but this is not true if we define the void as the absence of matter and energy and even physical laws.
If there is a state the Void cannot attain that would be a law in the Void and so a contradiction. I.e. the Void attains every state and is therefore without limit to its power. Further since the Void can be seen as part of any element of Being (and Universe) every element of Being inherits the power of the Void. Nothing like this can be derived from the notion of a material universe and its void.