(A Brief Outline of a Proposed 'New Paradigm')
Table of Contents
The Need for a New Paradigm
First and most important is to confront the fact that nothing less than a most drastic shift in outlook and viewpoint will suffice; a massive reconstruction involving ontology, metaphysics and even extensions to the scope of the lex naturalis. No amount of extrapolation from, or fine tuning of, any current or past philosophical system will suffice; nor will the goal be reached by any mere eclectic convergence. In a word, the present paradigm is bankrupt, and as ever, those intellectuals who best prosper within the status quo are precisely those least able, and above, all least willing to conceive of a completely new order of things and to shoulder the burden needed bring this about.
What we need, then, is neither growth nor elaboration of the status quo but regeneration -which goes beyond an equivalent of Ecdysis in ontogeny or Paedomorphosis in phylogeny. Although it is certainly true that we are currently languishing at an ontological ebb-tide, what is needed is not the recovery of some supposed earlier -and happier- status quo, but something much more radical and far more exciting -to find out truly who we are and the direction in which we are supposed to be heading, and to discover, for the first time, what our meaning and destiny really is. The needed paradigm is to be reached by any extrapolation from the present, nor by returning to some past high water-mark from which to execute a recule pour mieux sauter:
Clearly, ideas and concepts evolved over thousands of years of philosophical speculation will need to be detachable from their origins and adaptable to our needs; to insist that we are in need of a new paradigm is not to say that we should start from a tabula rasa. In other words, the venture will be eclectic, in the broadest sense of this word. But we need to be circumspect, casting no more than a glance or two back over our shoulder, lest we suffer the fate of Lot's wife; for the most part, the past must be rediscovered in the future. Perhaps the wheel will get reinvented in the process, but don't grieve over lost time; it won't be quite the same wheel. It has been said that those who ignore history are condemned to repeating the mistakes of the past. But such proverbs and other wise sayings have a way of coming in contradictory pairs; those obsessed with history are unlikely to make any. This is the downside of a pedantic scholarship. So, in summary, we need to reinstate a proper precedence: Philosophy > Science, rather than Science > Philosophy. Further, the asymmetry must be a strong one in which philosophy engulfs rather than complements its empirical doppelganger.
An Aside on the Discipline of Philosophy and the Philosophical Method
Something has to be said at this point about the discipline of philosophy, in its traditional sense of Reality-wide system building that transcends the limitations of the realm of cosmic existence and the beings therein. It is badly in need of return from its exile imposed upon it by the positivist manifesto. It brings with it its own methodology and principles of guidance which, though lacking the crystal clarity of those exercised in the course of empirical interrogation have their own form of persuasion which -if to a limited extent- are independent of the particular system under enquiry or the metaphysical persuasions of those pursuing the particular paradigm.
After all, we may think of language as a soft formalism that runs as a pas de deux between the two logics of ψ and μ
Clearly, however, if it is to escape the existentialist reproach, it must outstrip the bounds of cognitive presentation -it must illuminate as well as inform, or as they would say in the land of the Bhagavad Gita, lead us from 'lower' to 'higher' knowledge. Philosophy, like act, is something that can be lived by rather than just with; also like art, can it withstand the test of time?. But most of all -and perhaps this is the real touchstone of its authenticity is its effect upon the lives of its creators and those readers who have contemplated the insights that it offers. If they are not moved and transformed, or experience a broadening of horizons, and including above all some sense of personal regeneration or self discovery, then it has failed in its mission. One might say (if I may steal Raymond Tallis's rhetorical thunder) that if a thing is really worth doing, then it is worth doing even badly. Philosophy is not only well worth doing; it is an absolute necessity if the culture it address is to survive, prosper and display any real vitality. Nor should we be unduly discouraged by any general lack of convergence of its many and divergent offerings during its glorious history. If we have failed in the past, then the matter is simple -we simply try again.
It is not to be hoped for or expected that philosophical enquiry will ever converge, in the highly focused way that exploration of the extrinsic realm enjoys. First of all, both the existential and the abstract domains that it is the mission of philosophy to address are couched in a logic and a species of formalism completely lacking the 'bottom up' coherence unlike that upon which physical reality is grounded; the Platonic Realm of Forms has two levels or layers, an upper and a lower -of which only the latter is currently recognised by logicians and mathematicians The need for a Platonic realm is never questioned: all productive mathematicians are Platonists at some level another; but they are acknowledging only the lower level -that I have termed μ-Logos. Its upper ψ-Logos counterpart has been sensed and addressed by a small minority -people, who, not surprising have monistic leanings; some have been mystics on the side. The reason why the kind of focus made possible in approaching the existential and abstract domains in that the formalism in question takes origin, not from sets of postulates and axioms from which theorems arise through upwards synthesis and elaboration. But ψ-Logos takes origin form a putatively featureless 'All' that is the ultimate source of everything. This is what neutral (and most other forms of monism) are all about. The equivalent of theorems -let's call them 'metatheorems' may be flushed out through a process of epigenesis in which poorly focused high levels of generality take on more articulate forms. These are concepts, ideas, states of mind and so on can never be definitively described; for the most part they are known intuitively.
The second reason is that ψ-Logos is trans-modal, and as such is the ultimate source of the essential being and interiority of all monads. We are all, if you like, master theorems within ψ-Logos, but unlike those of Euclid, they are epigenetic. As a consequence, the way in which any one of us embarking upon the ultimate quest of philosophical enquiry will end up with a viewpoint that partakes of his persona. This does not at all mean that we're forever awash in a sea of relatives. This is the case because of the way in which the monistic domain of ψ-Logos 'hangs together'. What this implies in turn, concerning the future prospects of the philosophical quest is that a residuum or kernel of common ground will emerge within which all viewpoints can participate. We might likewise anticipate that sets of parochial aspects will emerge amongst which any individual can make his selection in proportion at it impedance matches with his species of persona.
It is not to be expected -nor, for that matter to be wished for- that the philosophical enterprise will ever converge to an image of Reality that will be found to be congenial to all. It is of the very nature of the beast that descriptions of Reality address a domain supported by a Logos that isn't like that of Natural law in that it is top-down and not bottom-up constituted; for this reason, also the focus is subject to progressive clarification, a truly sharp resolution must inevitably elude us. This is one reason why the philosophical temperament of the philosopher enters the equation. But if he has truly fulfilled the requirements of his calling, the products of his labours should be seen to have a minimal grounding authenticity by all serious reviewers, to the point where they can see that the ideas involved may be smoothly transported into a modified world view that presents the same truth from a different -but emphatically not incompatible- point of view. In the very brief overview of my system of neutral monism that I shall be presenting to you further below, I attempt to draw a distinction between some requirements which I believe everyone must bring to the starting gate; as opposed to others which seem to me to be options with which my particular temperament is comfortable with, but which any reviewer may not care to accept, exercising other options in their stead. Creativity over this grandest all enterprises, does not, should not and cannot end with what the reviewer encounters. It is up to each individual to complete the process from his own point of view. Only thus can it truly become his own -something that he can understand and above all live by. Creative adaptations are unavoidable if the garment is to fit:
The same is also true, in its own way of aesthetics. Both the artist at the clavier and the conductor on the podium impose their own persona over matters of interpretation.
If there is one thing that really stands out about the reinstallation of the philosophical method is this. As has been made clear further above, the canon of natural law can telling us nothing whatsoever about the meaning of anything within the realm of cosmic existence. Yet again and again -usually in exercises involving the misuse of Occam's Principle, judgments are made with implications of meaning that are at variance with the intuitions of commonsense. A prime example here is over the status of the Minkowski manifold. Is it to be granted full ontic status or is it to be accepted as no more that epistemic -that is, something that puts a curb upon what can be empirically accessed as opposed to what -willy nilly- is actually 'out there'. But this choice has implications of meaning -over shat it implies about the nature and meaning of time. An epistemic Minkowski proclaims a manifold theory, or interpretation of time which is in direct collision with commonsense that declares it to be of 'process' character. Se we are dealing with matters of meaning, only the interiority of the subjective viewpoint carries any authority whatsoever; none can be asserted from the physics side of the discussion. In consequence, Occam's Principle is violated because 'other things' are emphatically not equal. What the physicist is doing is to make an axe of the razor. He is disarmingly unaware of his error because he has long ago taken it for granted that commonsense judgments are not to enter the equation anywhere in any form or at any level. It is high time that he put his house in order, and face up to the fact that accessible or not, an inertial frame must be allowed and accepted. Of course, the Michelson/Morley discoveries demands that the inertial manifold is more subtle than Newton imagined, since we are now required to determine the real effects of motion upon objects moving within a universal time. In other words, it recalls the physicist from the Olympian heights of applied mathematics, forcing him to carry it down to the Real World. Applied mathematics is about the physical realm and not just about itself. Physics isn't about mathematics but about the physical realm. To be worth his salt, the theoretical physicist needs to bear in mind that it is physical reality that he is supposed to be describing and interpreting. As a final note in this example, there are other reasons why the typical physicist finds an ontic Minkowski manifold more to his liking. Its acceptance is the first of a series of steps suggesting that time travel just might be possible, hence satisfying his wish to reshape science into the image of science fiction.. [Duck out here to glance at a complimentary essay on the Methodology of Philosophy]
Why the Times are Ripe for a Fresh Start
Now, these are fine words, but just how helpful are they in giving us the courage we need to embark upon the journey? Isn't it to commit something of an act of hubris for we plain men to attempt to improve upon the insights and accomplishments of these past giants.? I think not, because we have come into possession of new knowledge of several kinds and categories not available to these sages of yesteryear; almost all of this is of twentieth century origin. The 'New Biology' -scarce 50 years old at the moment of writing has been a revelation into the goings-on deep within matter organized as it is within living protoplasm. Again, much of it during the second half of the previous century have been the discoveries of neuroscience have told us a great deal about the cortical concomitants of the mental interior. For those who have broken free of the shackles of physicalist orthodoxy, these same studies, properly regarded, give us many of the clues we need in the formulation of extensions needed to the canon of the lex naturalis to account for the manifestations at both of these level of living substance.
At the grounding levels of Natural Law, Quantum Physics started at the beginning of the century -on the dot in the year 1900- while what has come to be known as 'Relativity' took its origin round at about the same time. Both of these initiatives have forced us to look upon the foundations of physical reality in ways completely foreign to the rather smug quotidian viewpoint of the century that had gone before. For the scientists of those days, the discoveries of physics, chemistry and the like revealed a world that could be brought into correspondence with that directly given by everyday perception. Properly regarded, it is quantum theory that offers the greatest challenge, but again one that cannot be met save by those prepared to broaden their horizons beyond those allowed to be in view today. As I have suggested within the chapters of the present WEB site, it has something to say about the ontological underpinnings of the whole of Physical Reality.
But it has been discoveries of quite a different kind that have more to say about the broader aspects of the needed New Paradigm. I am referring to developments within the a priori domain of logic and mathematics -particularly of transfinite sort. The extensions that these discoveries suggest offer us the long sought after scaffolding, or framework of ideas within which the very slippery and vertiginous concepts of time, eternity and the everlasting; of infinity and its relation to finitude, and finally to a broadening that shall include transactions between categories that lie beyond those within which mathematics up to this point has found itself to be comfortable. I am revering here to the kind of 'modal chemistry' of the type vaguely suggested by the 'symmetry breaking' so dear the hearts of present day physicists. Intuitions along these lines go back as least as far as Cusanus and were to be made much of by Hegel in his celebrated 'logic'. Yet to mention his name -save in overtones of mockery- is to invite instant dismissal from the forum of discussion.
Also of paramount importance -though of quite a different kind and field of utility- is the astonishing discovery of Kurt Gödel in 1931, in the theorem that bears his name. Such is its novelty, subtlety and consequences as to challenge that of Einstein's General Relativity as the most remarkable products of the human mind. It has, at one and the same time deep ontological implications while demanding us to rethink the limits of Natural Law -not just as we know it today, but no matter how it might come to be extended in the future- in accounting for behaviour and developments of every kind, alike within inorganic and organic domains. .
In the remaining paragraphs of this section, I can do no more than give an outline of the attempts to bring it into some kind of preliminary focus. I will start by defining what I see to be the envelope of options within which we are all constrained, if the world-view we are putting together is to qualify for serious consideration. This being done, I will then pass on to discuss the additional features that I have chosen to include in my own overview; these are expressive of my own strongly monistic philosophical temperament.
Approaching the New Paradigm -Some Steps that Everyone Must Take
From this point on, I can give only a very brief outline of spectrum of options open to us in approaching the task, and then of the particular course that my own speculations have followed. A book-length treatment will be presented in another website under construction, entitled The New Monadology.
I think that an important distinction may be drawn concerning conditions and constraints that all must accept if there is to be any hope of meaningful progress. This has always been the case, so is not peculiar to the situation in which we currently find ourselves. Let me present a representative listing of the kind of thing I have in mind. First of all, obviously, is that there is indeed meaning to be sought after or the venture is still-born. There are many ways of dealing with this prime piece of scepticism. First is that of averring that it commits a fallacy within intermodal logic, namely that a negative cannot exist in isolation but only from the higher ground of its positive quasi-enantiomorph. But one really should not need to get that technical, since one has but to enquire how the skeptic came by the notion of positive meaning in the first place, whence to hurl the negative epithet into the teeth of the larger Reality -of which, after all, he is a part. Here is how Torrance deals with the matter
As often as not however, nothing more is afoot than piece of Byronic attitudinization -'pub' philosophy, as it were. (It is somewhat the same over the issue of "free will' In order to deny it you have to know what it is, and you cannot know what it is without having it). .
As to some of the other things that need to be taken for granted, Melvin Rader gives the following excellent overview
To me, it is the need to affirm a robust commonsense that stands above everything else; it is this faculty and this alone which can provide us with truly firm ground upon which to stand; a form of wisdom, William Blake assures us- even idiots possess. Along with a few others, I would claim that it should for ever stand as the final court of appeal in testing the values of our beliefs against their conflicting claims. It must, of course, forever be open to critical reevaluation on those occasions when it is seriously challenged. But this being done, and it remains unsatisfied, then it is essential that it stand its ground. To put it differently, the philosopher who is true to his calling must be a plain man first and an intellectual second. and emphatically not the other way around. He has little hesitation in abandoning its ministrations, dismissing its promptings as 'folk' hold-overs from early days of ignorance and superstition. Perhaps at this point the reader will begin to guess why I speak of the 'intellectual' with much the same disdain as did longshoreman Eric Hoffer. [To read more on Blake's neglected virtue, duck out here to view an extended essay on the subject]
These primitives aside, there are certain common principles and features that contending candidate for the New paradigm must include, if they are to qualify for serious consideration. Standing foursquare at the head of this list is an insistence that the larger Reality be grounded upon a Monism of some -upon Being itself that is so abstract that nothing whatever can be said about it at all -not even that it exists at all, without running into ambiguities. In proportion as one regards it in logical-mathematical terms, it must be thought of as an invariant -an invariant beyond all invariants. The richness that, willy nilly must be hidden within it hangs from its apex rather than stand upon its foundations. Everything that shall ever emerge from this watershed of Being -from which the rich structure that, willy nilly, must surely be hidden within it, hangs from it. It is in absolutely no sense a system standing upon any platform of primitives, axioms and postulates, Insofar, then, as we can speak of it in formal terms at all, it is the inverse or anamorphic enantiomorph of how we mostly think about mathematics.
What any founding principle of the larger Reality must support is that of logical necessity or self-sufficiency. It is intolerable that there might have been nothing rather than something. There is only one way that the necessary certainty can be vouchsafed is by insisting that Positive Being contains Nonbeing tightly embraced within itself. Nonbeing so regarded is something a great deal more mysterious than the mere absence of Being. I accept the claim that has been made, that Being has the status of a mathematical theorem that brings Logic to completion. In Logic broadly regarded, there are contradictory entities that cannot exist, others which are contingent -they might or could exist. Absolutely everything -the ultimate All- is something that by its nature must exist. In this way logic is brought to completion. This, I am persuaded, is the deeper truth behind St Anselm's 'Ontological Argument' which, as normally miscarries because of the way it presupposes that Reality takes origin from a divine person. This is not possible because any such living Person would imply contingency -because his life trajectory must have taken one form rather than another, so it would lack the higher, ultimate invariance that Being must be grounded upon, if it is to be guaranteed that there be something rather than nothing.
The fact that Reality is necessarily grounded upon a faceless and nameless invariance excludes any question of personhood, let alone a living, conscious Being. Yet it must be asserted with equal force that eternal, living Personhood is Reality's raison d'être. To a prior eternity of potentiality –that of the watershed of Being itself- must be added that of a future eternity of life for all beings. Only thus can be death be given meaning. In a secular ontology, death is an absurd event –as many among the Existentialists are never tired of insisting. It is absurd because it entails a permanent and total loss of value with which each passing conscious moment is imbued. Even though it were the destiny of the universe to converge to a perfect living being –a finalistic Omega- this would not mitigate the loss caused by death. This is doubly true, given the awfulness of human suffering -at all of its levels of spiritual, mental and physical- to which living beings are subject. The burden, admittedly, is unevenly distributed, but too many have been burned at the stake nailed to the cross, broken on the wheel or hung drawn and quartered; most awful of all are the abuses and sufferings which have been heaped upon the delicate, growing psyches of children too young to defend themselves or even to understand what is being done to them. If there is to be any justice, they cannot be allowed to lie where they have fallen, on the scrapheap of history. In the absence of such rescue, any underlying Reality is simply not to be justified. Should the notion of immortality be rejected, not much point remains in pursuing the philosophical quest. Any such enterprise, by failing to come to terms with the main issue, condemns itself to triviality; why bother? Nothing that might issue from such an enquiry can bring compensation for such omission. Only a heroic Promethean defiance could motivate any further enquiry. I would suggest also that perhaps any denial of justice could be dismissed as one reductio ad adsurdum; one cannot start from a negative but only contemplate it from the higher ground of a positive.
Optimism runs counter to the fashionable nihilism of the times. Those who adopt this posture quickly find themselves dismissed as 'wishful thinkers', that is to say people who have suffered a failure of nerve depriving them of the courage needed to look reality squarely in the face.
I cannot think of anything more calculated to provoke a gale of laughter from the mainstream intellectual than the voicing of any such affirmation. Those who hold such notions are, in his view, captives to an outmoded mind-set of superstition; our yearning after immortality is but wishful thinking, hung onto by those who lack the courage to face up to the unpleasant truth. All of this is not at all to deny that the concept is beset by the most formidable of difficulties of every kind, including the enclosure of evolution within an acceptable eschatology, a seamless integration with natural law, and of the conceiving of a life in eternity which is even tolerable; many which have been proposed come through as something closer to definitions of hell. As I shall enlarge upon further below, the need to bring such into meaningful focus is what has chiefly driven me to propose a novel form of ontology that may be termed ‘evolutionary monism’ or ‘dynamic monism’.
Might it be that the affirmation of eternal life as Reality's raison d'être also draws its force from the weaker form of Saint Anselm's argument -that reality which lacked perfection would be logically flawed. Value can only be manifest within the living moment, and this same value can only reach its apotheosis within the flow of consciousness of eternal being.
In conclusion, I think that as direct consequences of all of the above, certain features about the processing of reality are brought into a soft focus that hold for us all, regardless of individual differences and preferences. They mostly follow from the demand that the Watershed of Being must contain non-being if it is not to comprise and undermine its own self-necessity. But eternal life cannot exist while positive Being's hands are tied by the Nonbeing within. It must be creatively transcended. Both the will and the intelligence and the effort to do this can only come from whatever margin Positive being has over its negative counterpart must be vanishingly small, for if it were not, Being would have the blatant property of positivity. It is this which makes of evolution such a step-by-step burden which must start with asymptotically noting. Here, clearly, the Big Bang really comes into its own.
This lays the burden of the necessity of transcending non-being upon cosmic, organic and personal evolution, and that this odyssey must take origin from the very humblest of beginnings. Clearly, the entire drama can only be grasped within a metaformal framework that can bring the cornucopia of existence out of formless Being, and manage all of the staging of evolution and eschatology. This would have to include something of the kind that Hegel had in mind in his dialectical process.
There can be no monism without pluralism; but once more monism's advantage must be small, for if it were not, Being would pick the property of a one-ness that, so to speak, stood out, hence making Being one thing rather than another.
For all of its featurelessness, Being must have some kind of organization buried deep within it, for if it did not, it could never have brought forth the cornucopia of frank existence -at all of its levels of conscious interiority and the extrinsics of material configurations. It is therefore legitimate to ponder the matter of marginal inequalities which might underlie this productivity. Here is a representative listing:
These generalities accepted, there remains quite a bit of room within which to maneuver, in putting together the New Paradigm of which we are in need. Some of these are:
In the course of my own pursuit, I have staked a personal claim within the more general landscape of possibilities as allowed in the above paragraphs. These are an expression of my particular temperament with which I was endowed, so that the world view which results is one within which I feel 'at home'. But additionally, it seems to me to be trimmer, i.e. more formally compact and coherent than other Neighbouring philosophical viewpoints with which I am in sympathy. Whether this judgment be justified is something the reader must decide for himself. I will start with a brief biographical sketch insofar as this impacts upon the way in which my Weltanschauung came into being, not for reasons of vanity but because of the light that it reflects upon the nature of the finished product.
Brief Biographical Sketch
The following are the steps I took, in historical sequence;
I was professionally involved in the 'Artificial Intelligence' movement almost from the beginning (in my case 1959) Those were heady days indeed; we tried all kinds of approaches -and everything worked! Hereon out all we needed was progress in the development in computer hardware and operating systems both of which were confidently anticipated (though on nothing like the grand scale that was actually to evolve). These burgeoning resources, we felt assured, would enable us to move from 'toy' examples to their Real World equivalents; from hereon out, it was merely a matter of scaling. What we were to find out, sadly, over the decades which followed, was just how discouraging the functional dependence of computing demands upon problem size. Far from being polynomial in nature (which so many of us hoped, lay at the end of the road) it turned out to be something floating between the exponential and the double exponential (as in many types of pattern recognition problems, for example). As problem size x got larger, computing demands grew by something between 2x to 22^x. Those sequestered polynomial shortcuts we prayed for just never turned up -save in an odd special case or two. For me, Artificial Intelligence -as was communism for Arthur Köstler- 'The God that Failed". I would be embarrassed, were any of the euphoric memoranda submitted to some of my clients to resurface today.
This chastening experience was to provoke me to embark upon a journey into the nature of the mind/brain relationship, terminating in the publication of a two-volume work in 1979 (updated in 1986). The leit motiv of this work was a search for extensions needed to the canon of the lex naturalis in support of the phenomena of life and mind. As such it was, I claim, following in the best traditions of science; when the ambient gamut of laws fail to prove in adequate or insufficient explanation, you search for extensions. So confronted, I started by considering what kind of extensions would be needed to make good the manifest insufficiency. This way the a priori prolegomenon -the exercise of an informed gumption. This was followed by a second a priori step; what are those properties of the molecular nature of protoplasm that might be offering themselves as the needed interface between ordinary matter and the exotic extensions called for. Clearly implied here is that there must be a continuum between ordinary and exotic matter; it is inconsistent with any monistic ontology that there be two sets of mutually disjunct set of natural law. The two branches must necessarily be connected by some analogue of the phase changes exhibited by classical matter. What seemed clearly to be called for was an exotic extension Then, and only then does one have something to work with, in passing on to the acid test of empirical confirmation. I have both produced a tentative theory plus a description of steps which might be taken by way of empirical interrogation. A dozen pages describing my speculations will be found in chapter 6 of the present website.
Quite apart from all of this was my increasing dissatisfaction with the Secular physicalism -with its glibness, superficiality and inadequate treatment of solid values; most of the 'Great Questions' crying out for answers were either being ignored, trivialized or otherwise explained away. Its Weltanschauung seemed to me to be at a dead end; there was no way the path forward could take origin from its premises. I felt the need for something altogether different, in both respect of the point of departure and the direction of the heading. My monist temperament demanded no less. At this point (in middle age) I was to happen upon an extraordinary book which set me on the path I have followed ever since. It was Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy I was soon to be deep into Eckhart, the Bhagavad Gita, Plotinus and the like -to all of the variations upon the Neoplatonic theme. It was at this point that I felt myself to be standing on ground sufficiently firm to provide a point of embarkation for the greatest of all adventures -the pursuit of a vision of Truth.
How can one start to live until the 'Great Questions' have been confronted and answers obtained -to a degree sufficient to meet one's immediate and very personal and individualistic needs?.
Ironically, the final stage of my task was to be that of the incorporation of modern physics. Ironic for the way in which it runs precisely counter to Mainstream's attempts to expand science into a broader world view. The outcome of this initiative has been not philosophy but the 'philosophy of science'. However, a supporting reason for my delay was my insufficient grasp of physics as it has now become -at the three levels of particle cosmology, relativity and quantum physics. I started life as a biochemist; all that I knew of physics was a solid high school grounding (including calculus). Since that time, principally in the course of my years as consultant at NASA and related institutions, I was to learn a lot more. But the completion of my opus called for further reinforcements; acquiring them were to end up burning many hours of midnight oil. I fancy that what I ended up with, was just sufficient to meet my needs. It is for the reader, however, to judge whether or not I'm kidding myself in this regard.
An Overview of Neutral Monism
A full account will be given in a forthcoming website, under the title of The new Monadology. No more than a brief overview will be offered in the remainder of this page and that which follows.
While a follower of no school (or so it seemed at eh time), I have exercised a free and eclectic hand in helping myself to the broad gamut of wisdom that has filtered down to us through the ages. If I am to be placed anywhere within the historical spectrum of philosophical schema, I have come to regard myself, in retrospect, as one seeking to carry Jacob Böhme into the twenty first century. If I have managed to bring him into better focus, it is entirely because of the availability of new knowledge –quintessentially developments within the formalisms of logic and .mathematics. It may be thought of as a latter day extension of a narrow path taking its origin –shall we say- in the contemplations of Plotinus, and advancing successively through the speculations of Meister Eckhart, Cusanus, Bruno, Böhme and finally Hegel –where, it seems to me, the movement came to a temporary halt. Nowadays, students are invited to vilify him as a prime example of the sterility of ‘philosophy’ as normally understood; Bertrand Russell had added his imprimatur by dismissing him as the great disaster of the European movement of system-philosophy. Regardless, he was known in his day as the philosopher, with, I believe good reason. What is of prime value -and something of his upon which I have principally drawn- has been his so-called ‘dialectical process’. W.T.Stace speaks of this as “..one of the most striking pieces of speculative audacity in the history of philosophy.” This makes of him the founder of ‘symmetry breaking’, though conceived and executed at metaphysical and ontological levels unknown to cosmologists and physicists of the present day. But Hegel was to miss his footing, causing his swollen and cognitively top-heavy system to come crashing down in ruins; it must be freely conceded that he deserved this come-uppance delivered by Kierkegaard and the whole of the Existential movement that was to follow. After all, it should be the goal of philosophy to illuminate as well as to inform, and equally, bring about a degree of personal regeneration. In Eastern parlance, it must step up from 'lower' to 'higher' knowledge.
During the middle and latter part of the twentieth century, Böhmian concepts were taken up by such formidable figures as the Lutheran Paul Tillich and the Eastern Orthodox Nicholas Berdyaev. It is hard for me to over-emphasize my debt to both; without the insights they have contributed, my own efforts would have been still-born. It was only comparatively recently that I learned that they themselves had both fallen under heavy Böhmian influences. I have also gleaned much from what has come to be known as 'Process Theology' -a form of theism leaning towards monism -in a way that escapes many of the contradictions and paradoxes that plague conventional theism. I am particularly indebted here to Charles Hartshorne. All of these theologians share a commitment to what has come to be called 'panentheism' -theisms that incline to monism. But this has not been the path I have chosen to follow. What I'm proposing takes a further step towards classical theism -with consequences that set it apart from these other initiatives
As a parting word, I hope it is clear that the ontology of 'Neutral Monism' has been has been subject to other definitions and interpretations. In fact, some among the Positivists have adopted the term, but so far as I'm able to tell, what they have in mind is no Böhmian/Hegelian Master Invariant which can be modally productive through epigenetic expansion, but something more like a two-sided wafer-thin coin.
Below are the portraits of some of some of those to whom I 'm particularly indebted.