1:4 METAPHYSICS AND ONTOLOGY
The term “metaphysics” was first used by Andronicus of Rhodes (first century B.C.), an early editor of the works of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). 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: the fundamental nature of reality.
Despite the original, non-mystical meaning of “metaphysics,” the term has unfortunately come into general or popular usage to denote things of a supernatural, occult, or mystical nature. Scionics, however, eschews all mystical, non-reality-based concepts, in metaphysics and in everything else, and thus 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 Philosophy approaches metaphysics as the investigation of fundamental logical truths about existence itself. In other words, Scionics metaphysics may be viewed as “existential logic.”
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. Scionics Philosophy bases its ontology on (1) the existential logic of Scionics metaphysics, which is treated as axiomatic, 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 thus beyond scientific verification or disproof. But what can be known with such absolute certainty?
The answer to that question can be explored by turning to the famous quote by the French philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650), “Cogito ergo sum,” Latin for “I think, therefore I am.” He considered this to be an iron-clad argument for his own existence, or at least for the existence of his own mind, as this statement does nothing to support the existence of the physical world. (He had no way of proving that his apparent experience of the physical world was not merely a creation of his own mind, or some form of delusion, for example.) His error, however, was in surreptitiously presupposing the conclusion, “I am,” in the initial proposition, “I think.”
A thought need not contain any belief regarding the origin of its existence, such as whether it originated in a brain, a conscious computer of some sort, or something even more exotic: a thought need not know from whence it originated. Even if a thought did contain a belief about its origin, there is also no guarantee that this is a correct belief: a thought could contain the belief that it originated from a brain, when in reality it originated within a complex conscious computer simulation, for example.
Extending this line of reasoning just a bit further, a thought can contain all sorts of erroneous information. Even such things as memories can be completely false. All of the information upon which a sense of ego-identity is derived can, in fact, be completely false. The only thing which can logically be concluded by the existence of thought, other than the existence of thought itself, is that existence itself exists. This is because the existence of anything at all, including thought, can only exist if existence itself exists.
Had Descartes analyzed his own reasoning a bit further, he might have discovered this for himself. In such a case, his famous statement might have been a bit different: “Thought exists, therefore existence exists.” As consciousness is the fundamental aspect of thought, an even more fitting statement would be: “Consciousness exists, therefore existence exists.”
The Three Metaphysical Axioms:
1: The Axiom of Consciousness: “Consciousness Exists”
Consciousness is inarguable and self-evident in any moment of self-aware thought, as stated above. This is not to say that consciousness necessarily does or does not exist in any or every time and place, but merely that it exists at some time and place.
2. The Axiom of Existential Logic: “Existence is Logical, or Non-contradictory”
The term “therefore” indicates a logical relationship, and is an implicit affirmation of the underlying absolute logic of the natural world. If there were no underlying logic to the world and the things which comprise the world, then they simply could not exist. 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. For example, some object cannot be both all black and all white at the same time…it could be gray, or even striped or checkered in black and white, but not simultaneously totally black and totally white. The Axiom of Existential Logic can be expressed in many ways, e.g., “Existence is logical,” “Reality is non-contradictory,” etc.
The Axiom of Existential Logic also points to the metaphysical existence of mathematical truth itself. Mathematical and logical truth, as such, is not a human creation. Humans may have devised various methods for “doing” mathematics and logic, and for uncovering their truths, but mathematical truths remain true in the absence of humans, and even in the absence of anything physical or mental at all, and in any possible reality or any possible universe.
Not only is mathematical and logical truth 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, 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.
One could ask why existence exists at all. The Axiom of Existence does not address this question, but merely asserts that existence does, indeed, exist. The “fact” of existence does not answer the “why” of existence. This cannot be resolved by recourse to an eternal creator “god” who made everything else, because even the existence of such a god would already imply existence itself: if anything at all exists (including a god) then existence itself must exist. Therefore, neither an eternal “god,” nor anything else, can be the cause of existence. In the absence of any cause for existence, it must be that existence itself is eternal.
(Interestingly, because of the metaphysical Axiom of Existential Logic, mathematics is true even in the absence of anyone to recognize it, and even in the absence of existence itself.)
Ontology: Materialism, Immaterialism and Dualism
The Axioms of Metaphysics state that both existence and consciousness exist. They do not say anything, however, regarding whether consciousness is or is not the only thing which exists; in particular, the Axioms of Metaphysics do not directly address the existential nature, or ontological status, of the physical world. The physical world does have the appearance of having and independent existence outside of consciousness, but it is entirely possible that the physical world actually has no such independent existence, and merely exists within the mind itself, sort of like an extremely well-constructed and entirely logical and consistent dream. It should also be noted that while the existence of consciousness is axiomatic, the Axioms of Metaphysics do not say whether consciousness has an independent existence of its own, or whether its existence is somehow dependent upon certain aspects of physical reality.
Closely tied to these issues are questions regarding fundamental “ontological substances,” i.e., what type of “stuff” reality is “made of” on the most fundamental level. Many answers to such questions have been put forth:
Only “mental substance” exists, and the physical world is only a product of the mind. This position is variously known as “ontological immaterialism” or “ontological idealism.” Scionics philosophy uses the former term, “immaterialism,” as a direct contrast with the term “materialism,” defined just below.
Only “physical substance” exists, and mental states and consciousness are ultimately reducible to physical states. This position is referred to as “ontological materialism.”
Both mental and physical substance exists. This is referred to as “ontological dualism,” or “substance dualism.” If dualism is the correct position, then the question arises as to how these two different substances may interact or be correlated.
It is also possible that there is some other substance, even more fundamental than either the mental or physical substances, which can exist in a physical or mental state, somewhat like water can exist in a solid, liquid, or gaseous state. This single fundamental substance may be conceptualized and referred to as the “ontological substrate” of existence.
It may be impossible to resolve these issues with absolute certainty. It is, however, possible to use reason and empirical evidence to formulate an explanation which completely accounts for all of the observed phenomena regarding the physical and mental aspects of reality, and which can even make predictions regarding as yet unobserved phenomena. To put this another way, it is possible to develop a solid scientific explanation, and then put it through rigorous testing. If the explanation passes all tests, this does not necessarily conclusively prove its validity, but it does serve to increase its explanatory value, which may well be the highest form of validation which can honestly be applied to these issues.
It should be noted that there are others who attempt to circumvent or negate this highest possible standard of validation, either through ignorance or actual dishonesty. Scionics, however, fully adheres to the highest standard of validation which is available in any circumstance, to create the most complete, widest scope, and ultimately most all-encompassing and powerful scientific model of reality possible.
It is axiomatic that mind or consciousness exists; furthermore, while it is not axiomatic that the physical world exists, every bit of our experience supports the assertion that the physical world also does exist, independently and outside of the mind. To deny the independent existence of the physical world, despite the massive amount of experiential support for its existence, requires a rather complex argument – so complex, in fact, that it would need to subsume the entire scientific model of the world, while further explaining why this scientific model would emerge from a reality of pure consciousness alone, in a way which is truly more logical and compelling than the simple explanation that the physical world does indeed exist.
It is possible to go even further than that, and assert that not only do the mental and physical aspects of reality each have an actual existence of their own, but that they demonstrably have mutual influence upon each other. One can demonstrate the influence of the mental upon the physical to oneself, by such simple means as telling oneself, “If I am conscious, I will raise my arm,” and then proceeding to raise one's arm in response. One's consciousness, in fact, is the key component which is at the heart of the “free will” which is so often discussed by philosophers – and this free will is often used to determine one's physical activities in the physical world.
One can also demonstrate that the physical world effects the mental world for oneself. One can simply touch, see, smell, taste and listen to things in one's world. The input from one's physical senses are registered by one's consciousness. One can ingest a physical substance, such as alcohol or certain drugs, and subsequently observe the changes which take place in one's consciousness.
To deny the reality of either the physical or mental aspects of existence, or to deny their mutual influence upon one another, in light of the absolutely enormous body of evidence for the existence of these things, and in light of the absence of any evidence to the contrary, is simply absurd. One could argue that it could be the case that the physical world has no independent existence outside of the mental world, for example, but that is very far from actually proving such a thing, especially when every bit of the evidence points to their existence and mutual influence.
It is precisely the mystery of the mechanism of their mutual influence, however, which has been so problematic for philosophers for so long, which has prompted some to assert that the physical world is merely a product of the mind, without an independent existence of its own. They have essentially asserted that there is “no way” that “mental stuff” and “physical stuff” could interact, and that the only possible explanation for this apparent interaction was that the physical is merely a product of the mental. A more honest and truly enlightened answer, however, would have been to simply admit the rather obvious fact: because the mental and physical do interact, some mechanism for this interaction must exist, but it is a subtle mechanism which has thus far remained undiscovered, but may be uncovered at some point in the future.
Actually, a very promising candidate for this mechanism has been put forth by the physicist Roger Penrose, and further developed by Stuart Hameroff. Penrose had long felt that the prevailing ideas about consciousness possibly being an “emergent property” of matter were completely inadequate, and has put forth very compelling arguments to support this. (These arguments won't be explored here. Concepts from quantum mechanics, some of which are referred to in the following sentences, also will not be explored here. These subjects will be dealt with in a later, however, in 1:9 ATHEOLOGY.) Instead, he began speculating that consciousness is directly related to certain quantum phenomena. In particular, he hypothesized that every instance of the “quantum collapse” of any physical system is associated with a “blip” of consciousness, or “proto-consciousness,” which corresponds to the physical state of the system at the moment of quantum collapse. Furthermore, that same “blip” also represents a moment of “choice” or “free will” regarding the particular outcome of the quantum collapse. He thus identified, for the first time, a truly promising candidate for the basis of both consciousness and free-will, and also identified them as essentially two aspects of a single phenomenon.
Penrose further speculated that there must be some physical structure in the brain which was able to undergo the requisite quantum collapse to produce human consciousness, and which could “orchestrate” the “objective reduction” of this quantum collapse; thus his hypothesis regarding human consciousness is called “Orchestrated Objective Reduction.” Penrose did not have sufficient knowledge of the human brain, however, to actually identify the structure in question. Professor and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, however, was aware of a microscopic structural element of all neurons, and in fact of all eukaryotic cells, called “tubulin microtubules,” which seemed to perfectly fit these requirements. Over time, more and more evidence was amassed in favor of the role of tubulin microtubules as the quantum computational structure which provides for human consciousness, through the mechanism of Orchestrated Objective Reduction.
While much about quantum mechanics is understood with an extraordinarily high degree of accuracy, it also remains a rather mysterious part of science. It is possible to speculate, however, that the fundamental substance of reality, the “ontological substrate” of existence, actually has a psycho-physical nature, and that quantum mechanics describes the observable and measurable physical aspect of this psycho-physical nature. The mental aspects of quantum mechanics, however, are not objectively observable, but can only be subjectively experienced by oneself. In other words, one could possibly observe the Objective Reduction of all sorts of physical states in the external physical world, but can never objectively observe the mental states to which they correspond; when such Objective Reduction takes place in the physical structures which contribute to one's own mind, however, these mental states are subjectively apparent to oneself.
Metaphysical Assumptions of Scionics Philosophy
The Three Metaphysical Axioms are propositions which are knowable with absolute certainty. They are thus beyond scientific verification or disproof. It is also possible, however, to construct other propositions about reality which also seem to be necessarily true in that no exceptions to them have ever been found, although it may be possible that such exceptions may be found in the future; these may be called “metaphysical assumptions.” All such metaphysical assumptions are metaphysical propositions which may be refuted by some future physics, although this seems highly unlikely.
Different individuals, and thus different philosophers and different philosophies, will often hold different metaphysical assumptions. These differing metaphysical assumptions will typically have different metaphysical (and sometimes even physical) implications. If one chooses some mistaken metaphysical assumptions, this can lead to various sorts of contradictions. Therefore, it is important that one's metaphysical assumptions are very carefully grounded in both reason and reality. This will serve, at minimum, to ensure that such contradictions are avoided; at best, this will serve to guide one's further speculations, assumptions, and investigations in the direction of truth rather than falsity.
There is an old joke: “When you assume, you make an ASS of U and ME.” It is to be hoped that one's metaphysical assumptions are so well-founded and grounded in both logic and reality that such a risk is minimized! It is also to be hoped, in all seriousness, that due to the inherently uncertain nature of even the most well-chosen metaphysical assumptions, one would be willing to abandon or switch such assumptions if contradictory evidence comes to light.
Scionics Philosophy, like any philosophy, holds a number of metaphysical assumptions. It would be impractical to list all of these here; some, for example, are so commonly held or “commonsensical” in nature as not worth mentioning. There are certain metaphysical assumptions, however, which are so particularly characteristic of Scionics Philosophy, and which serve as cornerstones to the development of other aspects thereof, that an explicit statement of such metaphysical assumptions would be illuminating to the reader. It should be noted, however, that even while these are considered to be “assumptions,” and even while these assumptions are considered to be “metaphysical” in nature, it is also true that their validity (or at least, refutations of any claims as to their falsity) can be argued from a deep and well-integrated scientific understanding of reality. (It should also be noted that if these metaphysical assumptions do prove to be false, then Scionics will honestly acknowledge this, and make any necessary modifications in order to be in accord with the facts of reality. This is the way of science, and this is the way of Scionics.)
Selected Metaphysical Assumptions of Scionics Philosophy
Reality is composed of both objectively unobservable quantum aspects and objectively observable physical aspects.
Consciousness and free will are essentially two inseparable aspects of a single phenomenon.
Consciousness and free will have an effect upon the physical world, and the physical world has an effect upon consciousness and free will.
Consciousness and free will occur at each moment when objectively unobservable quantum aspects of reality “collapse” and manifest as physical reality. This process of quantum collapse is accompanied by the immediate and subjective experience of “what it is like to be in” (or “what it is like to have chosen”) the manifested physical state.
The only logical way for physical reality to exist at all, is for physical reality as a whole to be infinitely extended in both space and time. This removes any logical inconsistencies of a first or last moment, or an “edge” or “outside” of reality.
In contrast to the above, no finitely-bound subset of physical reality can contain any sort of infinities. (In other words, no infinities of speed, density, energy, or divisibility of space or time.) Various sorts of infinity may exist, however, within purely quantum aspects of reality.
One Reality, Many Possible Realms
There is only one reality. Everything which exists is part of that one reality. There may be (and almost certainly are) different “realms” within the one reality. This leads to the following questions:
Is one's universe the one-and-only universe, or is it perhaps one of a (possibly infinite) number of universes within a greater “multiverse”?
Is one's world perhaps a “meta-dream” being dreamed by some sort of higher being or even by some sort of higher version of oneself?
Is one's world actually a simulated or virtual realm being played out within some type of sophisticated computer?
One is directly aware of one's own mind only. Is one's mind the only real conscious mind in the world, with all others being non-conscious dream or virtual characters with no actual minds of their own, or is the world as it appears, such that one's mind is one of many other similar minds?
While these and other such questions may be of philosophical interest, it is important to recognize a few key facts:
Whether the realm in which one finds oneself is the one-and-only universe or one-of-many, or whether or not this realm is some sort of meta-dream or simulation, then the realm of that universe, dream or simulation must exist within a greater realm of some sort; ultimately some sort of “foundational” realm must exist which is not itself contained within some greater realm. This foundational realm is the very “ground of existence,” the very foundation of the totality of reality within which all other realms exist. The foundational realm must be “made of” the ontological substrate of existence, from which all other things are made. The foundational realm and the things within it must be logically consistent with their own existence or they could not exist: a thing cannot exist and be logically inconsistent with its own existence.
The realm in which one finds oneself is a realm where one can feel pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, hope and fear; in other words, hedonic value. This is true whether this realm is the foundational realm of existence or not, and it is true whether one's mind is the only truly conscious mind in one's realm or not. Thus it is necessary for one to understand how best to operate in the realm in which one finds oneself and how best to interact with others in that realm (whether these others are only seemingly conscious or actually conscious) if one is to best pursue and attain hedonic value.
Metaphysical and Philosophical Naturalism
The term “natural world” as used in common speech is used to refer to those aspects of the world which were not created or modified by human beings; in this sense the term “natural” is used as an antonym for, and to distinguish from, the terms “artificial” or “man-made.” The traditional use of “natural world” as a technical term in philosophy is much broader: the traditional philosophical usage refers to the entirety of the universe, and includes the works of human beings. The purpose of the “natural” part of the term is as a means for differentiating between the very real realm in which we exist and some postulated “supernatural” realm.
Scionics recognizes that reality consists of the totality of all that exists: this includes the foundational realm and any other possible realms. Thus Scionics expands the definition of “natural world” beyond its traditional philosophical use: in Scionics, the natural world is equivalent with reality itself. The technical philosophical sense of the “natural world” in Scionics therefore consists of all of reality, i.e., the foundational realm and any and all universes and realms which it contains. The view that only “natural” things exist (in the sense that they are part of the “natural world,” i.e., reality or existence itself) is called “metaphysical naturalism.”
Scionics obviously affirms and accepts metaphysical naturalism; in fact, it is directly and solidly founded upon it.
Continuing this line of thought, any so-called “supernatural” realm is not truly “supernatural” (that is, located outside of existence, which would logically mean not to exist at all) but would merely be another realm of existence, would still be subject to the Three Metaphysical Axioms, and would still be able to be investigated and mathematically described in principle. Any realm of existence, whether it be called “natural” or “supernatural” must either be identical with the foundational realm of reality or must be located within this foundational realm, and must have the foundational realm as the ultimate substrate or “ground” of its existence.