1:3 METAPHYSICS AND ONTOLOGY
The term “metaphysics” was first used by Andronicus of Rhodes (first century BCE) an early editor of the works of Aristotle (384-322 BCE). Andronicus created the term from the Greek words “meta,” meaning “beyond” or “after,” and “physika,” meaning “nature” or “the natural world.” This was Andronicus’ non-mystical, collective title for those works of Aristotle which came after and subsequently went beyond his earlier “Physiks;” it was also Andronicus’ identifier for the subject matter of these works, which Aristotle himself called “first philosophy:” the fundamental nature of being as being, i.e., the fundamental nature of existence itself.
Despite the original, non-mystical meaning of “metaphysics,” the term has unfortunately come into general or popular usage in ways which often denote things of a supernatural, occult, or mystical nature. The Scionics Institute, however, eschews all mystical, non-reality-based concepts, in metaphysics and in everything else, and therefore adheres to a meaning of the term “metaphysics” which is much closer to the original, non-mystical use of the term by Andronicus although a bit more narrow in scope. Scionics approaches metaphysics as the investigation of fundamental logical truths about existence itself, and about those things which do exist but in a non-physical sense.
Closely related to metaphysics is “ontology:” the study or identification of those things or classes of things which do or can exist, as distinct from those things or classes of things which do not or cannot exist. A particular focus is placed upon determining the most fundamental things which exist. Scionics Philosophy bases its ontology on (1) the axiomatic existential logic of Scionics metaphysics, and (2) the empiricorational investigation of reality itself. In effect, this means that Scionics ontology is based upon the Axioms of Metaphysics (detailed below) and informed by the findings of physics.
The Axioms of Metaphysics
Metaphysics differs from physics in that physics explores aspects of the world which can be scientifically tested, while metaphysics explores aspects of the world which are axiomatic, i.e., knowable with absolute certainty and beyond scientific verification or disproof. But what can be known with such absolute certainty?
While the answer to this question can be approached in many ways, one particularly illuminating path would be to examine the famous quote by the French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650): “I think, therefore I am.” The intent of this statement was to demonstrate that, although he could not definitively prove that the physical, external world which he seemed to perceive actually existed and was not merely a delusion of some sort, he could at least be certain of his own existence, or more specifically, the existence of his own mind.
Logically, it is true that if one thinks, then one exists. Descartes made the somewhat subtle mistake, however, in presupposing that the existence of a thought is sufficient to establish the identity of the thinker, or the origin of the thought. In other words, it remains quite possible that the contents of a thought do not accurately reflect the identity of the thinker, or the origin of the thought.
To illustrate this, let's imagine we have a computer which is capable of creating conscious simulations. It is programmed with incredibly detailed information designed to simulate the life of René Descartes, a French philosopher living in the first half of the 17th century. The computer then plays out a historically accurate and highly detailed simulation of the entire life of Descartes. This simulation is consciously experienced by the simulated Descartes as indistinguishable from reality: he never suspects that his experience is anything but that of the real world. Even more to the point, every thought which this simulated Descartes has is consciously experienced just as though it genuinely originated from a human being living in the 17th century.
Although this simulated Descartes doesn't have any idea regarding his true nature, he and his mind actually do exist, although in a much different form than he suspects. During the course of the simulation he experienced an entire life, with all of its pleasures and pains, and joys and sorrows. Within this simulation he was a philosopher, wrestling with difficult and complex issues around consciousness, belief, and epistemology, and he thought and deeply introspected about these things, over the course of his conscious existence, just like the real Descartes. In a very real sense, he thinks, and therefore he is – just like the real Descartes.
None of the above is meant to imply that our simulated Descartes is in any way identical or indistinguishable from the real Descartes. While they would certainly share certain broad characteristics (including their philosophical interests) they would also be different in many ways. The point, however, is not that the simulated Descartes is identical or indistinguishable from the real Descartes, but only that the simulated Descartes would have every reason to assert “I think, therefore I am,” and that this assertion by the simulated Descartes's would be just as valid as the same assertion by the real Descartes.
Let us now change things a bit. Instead of simulating the entire life of Descartes, let us now imagine that our computer is capable of simulating any selected single conscious moment from his life. So, we might run a program which simulates, for example, a single conscious moment in which Descartes thinks, “I think, therefore I am.” That moment would be the shortest possible momentary flash of consciousness, preceded and followed by a complete absence of any conscious experience of Descartes at all.
During that brief flash of “I think, therefore I am,” it is certainly true that something was having that conscious thought, and that this thing, whatever it was, existed. It would not be true, however, that this “thinking thing” ever actually had the any of conscious experiences of life as Descartes, simulated or not, other than that one brief flash. Any sense that it actually had lived the life of René Descartes, or was René Descartes, would have been completely erroneous.
Since the sense of being Descartes would have been completely illusory in this case, a much more accurate statement than “I think, therefore I am” (with “I” being equated with “Descartes”) would have been, “Thought exists, therefore something exists.” Furthermore, since consciousness is required for any thought, and since existence is required for anything, an even more fitting and fundamental statement would be “Consciousness exists, therefore existence exists.”
The Three Metaphysical Axioms:
This leads directly to the Three Metaphysical Axioms of Scionics. Each axiom corresponds with a part of the statement “Consciousness exists, therefore existence exists.”
1: The Axiom of Consciousness: “Consciousness Exists”
The existence of consciousness is inarguable and self-evident in any moment of consciousness. This is not to say that the content of consciousness is always accurate; it may not be. This is also not to say that consciousness necessarily does or does not exist at every time and place, but merely that it does exist, at the very least, at some times and places.
The very word “consciousness” is used in many different ways, however, so it is important to define precisely what we mean by the term. Consciousness, or raw consciousness, will be used herein to refer to the “stuff” of awareness; in other words, consciousness is the fundamental thing which is aware, or which has awareness. Consciousness must be distinguished from mind: mind, while it certainly does entail consciousness, also entails a highly organized flow of information. Raw consciousness is not necessarily organized. Raw consciousness is to mind, as an unorganized pile of bricks is to a house.
2. The Axiom of Logic: “Mathematical and Logical Truth Exists”
The term “therefore” indicates a logical relationship, and is an implicit affirmation of the metaphysical existence of the truths of mathematics and logic. Mathematical and logical truth is not a human creation. Humans may have devised various methods for “doing” mathematics and logic, and for uncovering various mathematical and logical truths, but all mathematical and logical truths remain true even in the absence of any human or other entity being aware of these truths.
These truths are infinite, eternal, infinitely complex, immutable, and omnipresent. Not only are they not a human creation, they are uncreated by any entity at all. No entity, not even any sort of postulated “god” can add to, or detract from, these truths, or modify them in any way. No entity can make one plus one equal to anything other than two.
3. The Axiom of Existence: “Existence Exists”
If anything at all exists, such as one's own consciousness, then existence itself must exist. This is not meant to specify what kind of existence it is, or what kinds of things may or may not exist; it is merely meant to express that existence exists. The Axiom of Existence can be expressed in many ways, e.g., “Existence exists,” “Reality is real,” etc.
The Axiom Logic and the Axiom of Existence can be combined into the Theorem of Existential Logic, which states that an underlying absolute logical consistency is inherent in existence itself, i.e., in all that which exists. A thing cannot exist and be logically inconsistent with its own existence; every entity which exists must be logically consistent with its own existence. The fact that a thing exists at all may be viewed as proof positive that it is existentially logical, consistent, and non-contradictory. The Theorem of Existential Logic can be expressed in many ways, e.g., “Existence is logical,” “Reality is non-contradictory,” etc.
The Three Metaphysical Axioms are a set of absolute truths. These truths can be used in the construction of further truths which can cast greater illumination upon the nature of our existence.
The Axiom of Existence, “Existence exists,” neither says anything about why existence exists, nor what the fundamental nature of existence is – it merely asserts that existence does exist. This question cannot be resolved by recourse to an eternal creator “god” (or any such supernatural entities or forces) which is imagined to have created existence, because very the existence of such an entity (or of anything at all) would already entail existence: if anything at all exists (including a god) then existence itself must exist. Therefore, neither an imagined eternal “god,” nor anything else, can function as the cause of existence. So, we are still left with the bare axiomatic assertion that “existence exists” without knowing why existence exists.
We can resolve this, however, via the Axiom of Logic: “Logic exists.” In this case, we are asserting the existence of the truths of logic and mathematics. These truths are not dependent upon anything outside themselves for their existence. They are not created, and cannot be destroyed or changed in any way. They exist eternally, and will continue to exist eternally, regardless of any other things which may or may not exist at any time. They are infinite, and infinitely complex. They are omnipresent, i.e., they exist everywhere.
It is easy to recognize that these aspects of logical and mathematical truth (eternal, infinite, omnipresent) are among some of the aspects traditionally attributed to an imagined god, and that it is just such qualities which are necessary for something to serve as the ultimate foundation and cause of existence. Note that the term cause, as used here, does not refer to something which created existence from non-existence, but as the reason that existence exists eternally, rather than nothing existing eternally. In other words, existence is infinite and eternal because mathematical and logical truth is infinite and eternal.
Whereas we experience a tangible physical existence which changes over time, however, mathematical and logical truth are intangible and unchanging over time. How can it be that this tangible and changing existence can rest upon an intangible and unchanging foundation of logical and mathematical truth?
The resolution of this question, in turn, involves the Axiom of Consciousness: “Consciousness exists.” This axiom merely asserts that consciousness exists, but says nothing about the nature or origin of consciousness; furthermore, other than the simple fact of its existence, and regardless of all of the philosophical and scientific inquiry into it, much about consciousness has remained a mystery.
There are some facts about consciousness, however, which we do know. Consciousness appears to be irreducible; in other words, it does not seem to be the case that consciousness can be reduced to other more fundamental processes. There has been speculation that consciousness somehow emerges from certain physical processes, but all such conjectures have been fruitless. It would be correct, however, to say that mind emerges from certain physical processes: biological evolution, under the survival pressures of natural selection, has produced all sorts of means whereby organisms process all sorts of information. The culmination of this seems to be the human brain, which can process all sorts of complex conceptual information. While we can understand how information is processed within a brain as it flows from neuron to neuron, we still have no scientific explanation for how consciousness inheres in this information. Again, consciousness appears to be irreducible.
The long-standing traditional materialist/physicalist approach of science has heretofore been very successful through its approach of reducing all phenomena to their fundamental physical processes. This approach, however, has proved inadequate for providing a fundamental explanation of conscious phenomena. This is because consciousness is not a physical phenomenon at its most fundamental level. That being said, while physical phenomena cannot generate consciousness, there is an undeniable correlation between physical phenomena and the informational content of consciousness.
All of this is begging for explanation – but since well before the time of Descartes, no viable explanation has ever been presented. The Scionics Institute, however, has developed a unique and ingenious hypothesis which:
answers the why of existence, i.e., explains why existence exists eternally, instead of nothing existing eternally;
explains how intangible and unchanging logical and mathematical truth ultimately gives rise to our experience of a tangible, changing reality;
explains the both the physically irreducible origin of consciousness and the correlation between physical phenomena and the informational content of consciousness;
provides the underlying explanation for all aspects of our physical universe, including causality, relativity, and quantum mechanics; and,
illuminates the fundamental nature of existence itself.
The hypothesis which answers and ties together these various issues is called mathematical psychogenesis. This hypothesis holds that, due to the mathematical nature of raw consciousness itself, raw consciousness arises at all times and places where the truths of logic and mathematics are true. Since these truths are true everywhere (and can't not be true at any time or place) and since these truths have been true eternally into the past, and will be true eternally into the future, so too does raw consciousness exist as a gapless infinite and eternal plenum. To give this infinite and eternal plenum of consciousness a name, it can be called the psychonic plenum.
It is important to stress that the psychonic plenum is a plenum of raw unorganized consciousness, and not an organized mind. It does not plan, think, or have goals, but merely acts in the immediate moment to that which it is immediately conscious of, in accordance with its own mathematical and hedonic nature. This, as will now be explained, is the foundation and cause of all existence.
The physical universe does not exist as a continuous plenum. A core feature of quantum mechanics is that matter, energy, space, time, and essentially all physical quantities are not continuous, but discrete, at the smallest scale. This is roughly analogous to a digital image: from a distance it appears to be continuous, but upon magnification it is revealed to be composed of individual discrete pixels. The smallest meaningful units (the “pixels”) of space-time, known as “Planck units,” are unimaginably smaller than the already unimaginably small atoms which comprise all the matter around us.
Another core feature of quantum mechanics is that particles which are physically separate and distant are connected or correlated non-locally, with the most well-known type of this non-local connection being quantum entanglement. This non-local connection causes the state of one particle to instantly affect state of another, even over great distances. Of course, in addition to this non-locality, the physical universe also exhibits the normal conventional locality whereby things have a particular location relative to one another, and propagate through space from location to neighboring location, and the like. The question naturally arises, then, as to how the continuous psychonic plenum serves as the basis for the discontinuous, “pixelated” physical universe, with features of both locality and non-locality.
Raw consciousness, acting in accordance with its own mathematical and hedonic nature, simultaneously has awareness and reacts to that which it is aware of. (The only thing it is aware of is itself.) From the fact that space-time is comprised of individuated Planck units, it may be surmised that, in accordance with its own mathematical and hedonic nature, the otherwise continuous plenum of consciousness simply “feels better” when it creates divisions within itself. Each such division can be thought of as a psychon, an individuated distinct cell or node of consciousness. Each psychon manifests as an individual Planck unit of spacetime. The totality of all psychons, or Planck units, form an infinite, eternal psychonic network – and it is this network which serves as the matrix from which the physical universe emerges, along with all the laws of physics which characterize the physical universe.
To understand the spontaneous hedonic division of the psychonic plenum into individuated psychons, one must start by understanding that information flows within consciousness. Because it is flowing within a field of consciousness, this flow is associated with hedonic experience. If the psychonic plenum were not individuated into psychons (Planck units) then this information would flow in an undirected, chaotic manner, which we may surmise would be experienced as a negative hedonic value, i.e., as “unpleasant” or “painful” to the psychonic plenum. We can further surmise that the psychonic plenum reacts by restricting this information flow in ways which effectively manifest as an individuation of the plenum into distinct nodes which serve to direct and organize the information flow somewhat, reducing its undirected and chaotic nature. Each of these nodes is, of course, what we are referring to as a psychon.
One of the characteristics of consciousness is that it always experiences itself unitarily, i.e., as a single unitary entity, or as a oneness; with quantization via separation into individual psychons (Planck nodes) however, it would seem that such oneness is eliminated. However, these nodes are not really completely separated, but form a sort of two-tier psychonic network, which we could interpret physically as a local network and a non-local network. In the local network, each psychon (Planck unit) is connected to, and information is thereby transmitted to, only specific other nodes, which would be physically interpreted as being adjacent to it in spacetime. In the non-local network, however, every node is connected to every other node, and information can thus be transmitted to every other node. The local network serves to dampen the flow of specifically local information which is transmitted or flows through individual nodes, while still allowing all nodes to be connected unitarily via the non-local network.
It can be assumed that the transmission of information from one psychon to another is instantaneous. Depending upon the hedonic effect of the information being handled by any particular psychon, however, the psychon may process it relatively slowly or more quickly, before sending it along to the next psychon in the network. The fastest speed with which any psychon may re-transmit any information it receives is a Planck-instant, i.e., the length of time it would take for light to traverse the length of a Planck unit.
This can explain both non-local quantum phenomena as well as relativistic causality; it would also explain the speed of light as the maximum speed of propagation of information through spacetime. Non-local quantum effects are the result of information being processed at maximum speed, and transmitted through the non-local network, which means it gets to all other nodes simultaneously, in the absolute minimum time, i.e., within a single Planck instant or perhaps faster. When information is transmitted through the local network, however, it must traverse from one psychon to the next, sequentially, as it propagates. If such local information is of a type which is processed at the maximum speed, it propagates at the speed of light. If it is processed at some slower speed, then of course it travels slower than light. Relativistic effects such as the “bending” of spacetime would be explained as modifications to the “local connections” between nodes, such that the number of these connections with other nodes increases, decreases, or merely changes from one set of nodes to another.
Each of the Planck units in the cosmic network functions essentially as a cellular automaton composed of raw consciousness, functioning according to its own hedonic and mathematical nature. The dimensionality of the “worlds” created by computer-based cellular automata is typically identical to the dimensionality of the grid or network of which they are a part. (In the case of Conway's Game of Life, for example, this is a 2-dimensional space, with one implied dimension of time in which the 2-d space evolves.) The dimensionality of the intangible cosmic network of Planck units, however, need not be identical with the 3+1 space-time tangible reality that we experience. It is quite possible, for example, that the cosmic network could be of infinite (or any other arbitrary) dimensionality, while the nodes themselves are connected (in the local network) in a way which “represents” the type of 3+1 dimensional physical universe we inhabit.
From all of the above, it can be seen that consciousness does not emerge from anything physical; to the contrary, it is the physical universe which emerges from the psychonic network, i.e., the infinite, eternal network of cellular automata of raw consciousness, which itself ultimately emerges from the infinite, eternal, immutable, and omnipresent truths of logic and mathematics. Existence is therefore both panpsychic and panmathematical in nature.
It is the activity of raw consciousness (the psychonic network) which generates the physical universe and all phenomena in it: all physical things are manifestation of the activity of consciousness. It is because of this that there is always a correlation between conscious information and physical phenomena.
This correlation between conscious information and physical phenomena exists even in inanimate things which are conventionally considered to be to be non-conscious; a rock would be a good example of this. While a rock does not possess any sort of cohesive, unified consciousness of itself as a distinct, unified entity, the constituent psychons which comprise a rock do each possess their own small discrete bits of consciousness. The consciousnesses of a number of psychons only merge into a unified conscious experience when they are processing quantum-entangled information. Such quantum-entangled information processing simply does not exist within an inanimate object like a rock. Biological organisms, on the other hand, often do process quantum-entangled information; furthermore, this information is often used to represent the organism to itself as (and is consciously experienced as a sense of being) a distinct unified entity. This sense of self arose via biological evolution, through natural selection, due to the distinct survival advantages which such self-representation affords to an organism.
One Reality, Many Possible Realms
There is one reality, one existence, one set of things which exist. If something exists, it is real, and therefore is part of existence and part of reality. Reality, or existence, can certainly be divided into different parts, however, and depending upon the nature of these parts, they may be considered to be different realms of existence. In the discussion below, a realm may be considered to be parts of existence which are either (1) physically inaccessible to one another, or which (2) have separate computational substrates in which their physics plays out. Since these are two very different concepts, we will look at each separately.
Physically Inaccessible Realms
Scientists often refer to the observable universe. This is simply the part of the universe which is visible from Earth; in other words, this is the part of the universe which is within our cosmic horizon. Cosmic horizons arises because the universe is expanding in all directions, and the further away some part of the universe is from an observer, the faster the space between it and the observer is expanding. This effectively means that things which are sufficiently far away from an observer are moving away from it faster than the speed of light. This also means that all observers, anywhere in our universe, will always find themselves at the center of a sphere which they will never be able to see or travel beyond, and into which nothing from the outside will ever be able to enter or be observed; this sphere, from the point of view of any observer, is that observer's observable universe.
The cosmic horizon of the observable universe is somewhat similar to the more familiar horizon we experience between the Earth and sky. If one is on a ship in the middle of the ocean, for example, and one looks around in every direction, there is a point beyond which one cannot see the ocean, due to the curvature of the Earth; this could be thought of as the “observable ocean.” While we know that the ocean does not end at the horizon, it remains the case that this observable ocean is as far as we can observe the ocean. Unlike the observable universe, however, we can move out of our current observable ocean, and into a different area of observable ocean. If we did this, we would then be able to see and interact with things which were formerly outside the scope of our previously observable ocean; similarly, things which are currently outside of our observable ocean can likewise enter it from outside. Because the cosmic horizon is caused due to the impossibility of exceeding the speed of light, however, it is not a horizon which we can ever cross beyond, or which anything from beyond can ever cross into.
The cosmic horizon of the observable universe defines a well-established boundary, everything beyond which lies in a physically inaccessible realm. The space outside of our observable universe, it should be noted, is still part of the same universe we live in, even though it is a realm which we will never have access to. Two regions of space-time are formally determined to be part of the same universe if both regions have the same spacetime dimensionality and if a path connecting the two regions remains fully within that dimensionality. In our observable ocean analogy, two regions of the surface of the ocean would formally be determined to be part of the same ocean surface if a path connecting the two regions never leaves the surface of the ocean.
There are various ideas in physics which postulate distinctly separate universes. In other words, these would be universes which would not be connected by a path which remains within the dimensionality of each universe. Such distinctly separate universes are postulated by, for example, certain interpretations of string theory and quantum mechanics, and other speculative ideas in physics. In this case, however, these universes would be embedded within a space of a higher dimensionality, and a path connecting the two universes would exist within that higher-dimensional space. This (possibly infinite) collection of universes, and the higher-dimensional space they are embedded within, would be called the multiverse.
Computationally Separate Realms
Aside from the multiple mutually inaccessible realms which definitely do exist due to the finite scope of the observable universe, and those which may exist within the posited multiverse, it is also possible for realms to exist within separate computational substrates. This refers to worlds or universes which are simulated within computers, or any other sort of computational construct, particularly when that computer or computational construct can generate actual conscious minds.
The psychonic network is itself a infinite, eternal network of conscious cellular automata (psychons) which generates everything in existence, including conscious minds. The psychonic network is therefore the foundational computational substrate, and the universe (or multiverse) it creates is the foundational realm; all other computational substrates are built on top of the psychonic network and the foundational realm.
There is speculation that this universe in which we find ourselves may actually be a simulation. One of the main ideas behind this is that, while there is only one foundational computational substrate, there can be an essentially unlimited number of computer simulations built on top of that substrate. It is even possible to nest any number of simulations within simulations. This would statistically make it almost certain that we would not be living directly within the foundational realm, but in one of the (most likely nested) computer simulations built on top of it.
The Significance of Existence within the Various Realms
It may be that there exists one universe alone, or that there exists possibly infinite universes embedded within a higher-dimensional multiverse. It may be that this is the foundational computational realm or some computational simulation. It may even be the case that this reality is simply be some sort of very realistic dream (which itself is a type of simulation) or that one's own consciousness is actually the only real consciousness in the realm in which one finds oneself, with all others having only the appearance of being conscious beings.
In all of these cases, however, the Three Axioms of Metaphysics are still true: consciousness exists, logic exists, and existence exists. The Theorem of Existential Logic would also be true: everything which exists must be consistent with its own existence. Furthermore, whatever the case may be, this realm is a realm where one can feel pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, hope and fear; in other words, hedonic value exists within this realm, and one's thoughts and actions have a very real impact upon ones hedonic value. Therefore, whatever the specific nature of this realm may be, it is highly beneficial for one to optimize one's thinking and actions (including one's interactions with others) if one is to optimize one's pursuit and attainment of hedonic value. The necessity for philosophical understanding remains, in all of these cases.
Metaphysical and Philosophical Naturalism
The term “natural” can be used in at least two very distinct ways: (1) as an antonym for, and to distinguish from, that which is “artificial” or “man-made;” and (2) that which is “supernatural.” In Scionics metaphysics, the term “natural” is used in the second sense.
One of the great achievements of science has been its ability to explain more and more aspects of the world in terms of natural causes, entities, and phenomena, and the eschewing of supernatural explanations. The Scionics Institute’s formulation of mathematical psychogenesis, with its explanation of the ultimate foundation and cause of all existence in completely natural terms, marks the logical conclusion of this trend, finally removing any need (or even any room) for the supernatural.
The supernatural can now be definitely and unmistakably exposed for what it is: imaginary, illogical, and unreal mysticisms. The supernatural simply does not exist, except as fiction. The natural world, however, is reality itself. The supernatural is nothing. Reality, the natural, is everything.
The view that only “natural” (as opposed to “supernatural”) things exist is called “metaphysical naturalism.” Scionics affirms and accepts metaphysical naturalism. It is directly and solidly founded upon this reality: all existence is metaphysically natural.