P H I L O S O P H Y P A T H W A Y S ISSN 2043-0728
Issue No. 201
23rd March 2016
Edited by Peter Jones
I. 'Beyond the Quantum Collapse' by Marlon Jesspher B. De Vera
II. 'No More Soup' by Michael Levy
III. 'The Metaphysics of Nondualism and the Perennial Philosophy' by
The articles featured in this month's issue of Philosophy Pathways
make for some pretty tough reading, or so it seems to the guest
editor. There is a theme and it is about pushing philosophy beyond
its usual academic limits. We begin with an article by Marlon de Vera
discussing the implications of quantum collapse and the views held by
Emmanuel Levinas on this phenomenon, drawing on his book Otherwise
than Being or Beyond Essence. The topic is difficult and may be out
of reach for the non-physicist and even for most of us, but
philosophy will sooner or later have to face up to quantum mechanics
(QM) and this may be just the kind of discussion that will be
required. It sits well with the writings of the physicist Ulrich
Mohrhoff, one of the few physicists who venture into this contentious
area of study spanning physics, philosophy, religion and mysticism,
and also with views of Erwin Schrodinger and other pioneers of QM who
were not afraid to see that their discoveries had implications well
beyond physics and lent plausibility to the Upanishadic view of
Reality and Existence.
A lighter article follows, superficially at least, No More Soup by
Michael Levy, discussing the more practical matter of the ego, its
reification and the consequences of this for our lives. This connects
the first and highly abstract article to more personal concerns,
happiness, soteriology, ethics and so forth. It tells of a wise
master's 'mistreatment' of his pupil in the cause of the 'dropping'
of the ego and a recognition of its created and unreal nature.
The third article, by the editor, gives one possible summary of
metaphysics. It is the outcome of a decade of trying to simplify the
issues, believe it or not. It brings the two previous articles under
the common umbrella of 'mysticism', 'nondualism' or what in
metaphysics would be a 'neutral' metaphysical position. It is not
widely recognised that the perennial philosophy, which at first
glance may seem to be a fantastic journey into self-delusion, wishful
thinking and terminal woolliness, is grounded on a definite
metaphysical description of the world, one that can be defined,
analysed and discussed like any other. The master who asks for more
soup in the previous article must appeal to this description of
Reality for a philosophical justification of his actions, and in the
first Levinas may be seen to be appealing to it with his idea that
philosophy must reach beyond itself for completion.
(c) Peter Jones 2016
About the editor:
I. 'BEYOND THE QUANTUM COLLAPSE: LEVINAS' OTHERWISE THAN BEING
TOWARDS AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL CONCERNS IN QUANTUM
THEORY BY MARLON JESSPHER B. DE VERA
This paper attempts to provide an alternative view of the
philosophical concerns in quantum theory by connecting the problem of
the quantum collapse, a central philosophical concern in quantum
theory, with Levinas' philosophical search for what is otherwise than
being in his 'Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence.' A response to
the question 'What does it mean to philosophize beyond essence,
beyond being?' is first attempted by following Levinas' text. Two
important connections -- 1) between quantum theory and the otherwise
than being, and 2) between being and the quantum collapse -- are then
discussed to explicate on the underlying notions of the alternative
view that is being attempted. Finally, the connections between the
otherwise than being and the inversion of the quantum collapse are
explored, culminating in a thesis that the breakup of the quantum
arrow of time, in the inversion of the quantum collapse, could be a
locus of transcendence and of the beyond essence. An afterthought on
the connection between quantum theory and ethics is also presented to
conclude the paper.
Philosophy Beyond Essence
In attempting to respond to the question 'What does it mean to
philosophize beyond essence, beyond being?' any serious reader of
Levinas' Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence would know that a
straightforward categorical answer cannot be expected. Those who wish
to immediately abandon the question without seriously considering it
may even mockingly dismiss it with the tautology 'To philosophize
beyond essence is to philosophize beyond essence.' But the reader who
wishes to proceed further with the question is admonished early on (in
p. 8) that 'to conceive of the possibility of a break out of
essence... signifies a null-site (non-lieu)' and requires the
surrender of 'the unconditional privilege of the question 'where?''
Thus, the reader who wishes to seriously respond to the question of
what it means to philosophize beyond essence can only expect to be
completely thrown out of his/ her philosophical comfort zones and
struggle patiently with Levinas' text without holding on to any
promise of an answer.
But with enough attention and patience, by following Levinas' own
words, the reader may expect brief glimpses and flashes of what it
means for a philosopher to break out of essence. In the search for the
otherwise than being, it can be inferred from the text that
transcendence can be conceived of first as 'a refusal to allow
oneself to be tamed or domesticated by a theme' (p. 100), as
philosophy's denial to 'congeal into essence what is beyond essence,'
'holding its breath' in order to hear 'the echo of the otherwise.' (p.
44). This refusal however is not mere negativity but also has a
positive character in such a way that philosophy is likewise
compelled to reduce the betrayal of thematization and look for 'the
trace of sincerity which the words themselves bear and which they owe
to saying as a witness' (p. 152), to search for 'the trace of
infinity' (p. 117), for 'a trace of its impossible incarnation' (p.
161), in the encounter with the face of the other and in the infinite
responsibility for the other which is...
'from a 'prior to every memory,' an 'ulterior to every
accomplishment,' from the non-present par excellence, the
non-original, the anarchical, prior to or beyond essence.'
One must be comfortable with the fragility of how the otherwise than
being reveals itself in these traces, in a 'perhaps' which
'belongs to an ambiguity in which the anarchy of the Infinite resists
the univocity of an originary or a principle' (p. 156). Nonetheless,
in a rather mysterious manner, the otherwise than being can also
arise with the purity like that of an 'itch' (p. 109).
The attempt to conceive of the possibility of a philosophy beyond
essence invites the possibility of a 'silent discourse with oneself'
(p. 171), guided by 'a pre-original reason... an anarchic reason' (p.
166), with an ignorance that is beyond consciousness, 'an open-eyed
ignorance' and a 'non-erotic openness' (p. 177). It invites the
possibility of a 'skeptical saying,' a skeptical discourse in the
sense that it 'states the rupture, failure, impotence, or
impossibility of disclosure' but wherein the saying and the said are
not correlative (p. 168). It recognizes that in the traces of
skepticism already in language (p. 170), philosophy can take on...
'significations that link up and implicate one another in
such a way as to lead to extreme and irreducible conceptual
possibilities, possibilities that go beyond the limits of a
dinary, to what is beyond the possible. Such conceptual
possibilities are substitution of one for another, the
immemorable past that has not crossed the present, the
positing the self as a deposing of the ego, less than
nothing as uniqueness, difference with respect to the other
as non-indifference.' (p. 58)
Given what has been said so far, philosophizing beyond being, beyond
essence, can be thought of as a constant struggle against totalizing
themes, a search for traces of the otherwise than being in language
and in the encounter with the face of the other, which calls for a
radically different sort of philosophical attitude, reasoning,
discourse, and conceptualization. However, it can be seen that
following Levinas' own words in attempting to address the question of
what it means to philosophize beyond essence does not make the
endeavour any less difficult or ambiguous. Thus, in an attempt for a
little more concretization and contextualization of the question, I
now proceed to relate it to one central philosophical concern in
quantum theory -- the quantum collapse.
Quantum Theory and the Otherwise than Being
Quantum theory is a unified account of physical reality which relies
on a model (the Schrodinger equation and its derivatives) that yields
only probabilities and not deterministic results. This apparent
ambiguity (or 'quantum weirdness') of how one of the most
revolutionary scientific theories has a probabilistic character which
seems to be in contradiction with the objective, deterministic
character of macro-reality has been the subject of serious
philosophical inquiry. The central philosophical concern has been the
interpretation of quantum theory vis-a-vis macro-reality to elucidate
the nature of the quantum collapse, which is the transition from
probabilistic quantum reality to deterministic, objective
macro-reality. From this alone, it can be seen that the efforts to
reconcile quantum theory with conventional frameworks of
understanding reality by theorizing about the nature of the quantum
collapse is motivated by an agendum to create a totalized account of
the being or essence of reality. Further discussion on this in
relation to two major interpretative accounts of the nature of the
quantum collapse shall be provided in the next section.
Given that the notion of the quantum collapse can also be thought of
as a collapse to essence or a collapse to being, then conceivably, a
notion of some sort of inversion of the quantum collapse, similar to
what Levinas refers to as 'an inversion of essence' (pp. 70, 75)
could have some merit in terms of providing perspective on the
question of what is otherwise than being. Another connection that can
be drawn between quantum theory and the question of what is to
philosophize beyond essence has something to do with 'quantum
weirdness' -- the sense of ambiguity and perplexity that arises from
the seeming contradiction between quantum theory and conventional
intuitions on macro-reality. Levinas talks about how 'obsession
traverses consciousness countercurrentwise, is inscribed in
consciousness as something foreign, a disequilibrium, a delirium' (p.
101), how 'the beyond has meaning only negatively, by its non-sense'
in the realm of consciousness (p. 137), and in the manner by which
transcendence is dissimulated by coherence...
'The interlocutor that does not yield to logic is
threatened with prison or the asylum or undergoes the
prestige of the master and the medication of the doctor.'
The notion of the otherwise than being or beyond essence is thought
about in the realm of consciousness and coherence as a mystery,
bafflement, and to some extent, a sort of madness or insanity. Thus,
consciousness is always predisposed towards reducing transcendence
into coherence, into sanity. In the same way, the whole project of
elucidating the nature of the quantum collapse can be thought of as
an effort to reduce 'quantum weirdness' into a coherent account of
reality within the realm of consciousness. Thus, conceivably, there
could be a trace of the otherwise than being in refusing this
reduction of 'quantum weirdness' into coherence, and potentially in
attempting to conceive of the possibility of transcendence beyond the
On the other hand, quantum theory has already been reconfigured in a
number of ways and presented as some kind of path towards
transcendence such as in cases where quantum theory has been linked
to certain forms of mysticism. It is not difficult to imagine how
images of the realm of uncertainty, or of parallel universes can be
integrated into certain formulations of the spiritual experience.
However, most of these conceptualizations of quantum theory as
transcendence are totalized accounts within the immanence of being.
Thus, such accounts of transcendence would be what Levinas would
refer to as artificial.
'As disclosed the other enters into the same, and the
experience of transcendence immediately becomes suspect of
artifice... the effects of some theatre machinery behind
the promise of transcendence.' (p. 182)
I would like to think that drawing a connection between quantum
theory and Levinas' notion of the otherwise than being is not purely
arbitrary and fanciful given what has been said above about some of
the parallelisms between the central philosophical concerns in
quantum theory with Levinas' search for what is beyond essence. Thus,
in this paper, I intend to employ Levinas' text as a lens towards an
alternative view of the philosophical concerns in quantum theory,
particularly towards raising the question of whether there could be
traces of transcendence in challenging the problematization of the
quantum collapse. Likewise, I think that this attempt could also
provide a small enrichment for the discussion on the question of what
it means to philosophize beyond essence.
Being and the Quantum Collapse
In response to 'quantum weirdness,' elucidating the nature of the
quantum collapse, reconciling the probabilistic character of quantum
theory with the deterministic character of macro-reality, has been
taken as a primary philosophical concern. Some efforts have been
directed towards a return to determinism, such as Einstein's position
that quantum theory is an incomplete theory with missing variables or
simply a statistical theory, much like demographic statistics, which
provides a meaningful picture for a population but is meaningless
when an individual system is considered. Another attempt towards a
return to determinism is Bohmian theory, or the pilot-wave
hypothesis, which provides an alternative to wave-particle duality, a
fundamental conception behind quantum theory. Both attempts have not
been sufficiently successful and in fact, Einstein's position on the
existence of hidden variables has been refuted experimentally. Thus,
the problem of the quantum collapse stands and 'quantum weirdness'
remains. This leads one to ask if such attempts to return to
determinism are illustrative examples of what Levinas pertains to
when he talks about how scientists could have the tendency of
'expounding an ideology as a science' (p. 58). Quantum theory has
brought significant discomfort to scientists who hold on to
determinism in science almost as some sort of salvation.
Science cannot seem to tolerate any 'refusal to be assembled into
representation' (p. 51) and so quantum theory cannot remain as
'weirdness' but must be thematized into a totalized account within
the realm of being. This is the very agendum of the problematization
of the quantum collapse, to 'cast in the mould of the known...
anything unknown' (p. 99). Such 'is the price that manifestation
demands' (p. 6). Because certainty is 'the guide and guarantee of the
whole spiritual adventure of being' (p. 99), the two major
interpretative attempts in response of the problem of the quantum
collapse are accounts of how the realm of uncertainty is reduced to
the realm of certainty, as the following discussions would show.
The first major interpretative attempt is the Copenhagen
interpretation, usually attributed to Niels Bohr, which posits that
what drives the transition from probabilistic quantum reality to
deterministic reality is the conscious mind of the human observer. In
other words, quantum theory defines the set of probable outcomes of
the physical interactions among particles and forces but it is the
mind of the human observer which would ultimately determine the final
outcome. From this description alone, it is not difficult to
immediately draw parallelisms with Levinas' text. Levinas states
early on that the subjectivity in transcendence, as opposed to the
subjectivity in the realm of being, is 'no longer in the element of
consciousness' (p. 13) because 'the subjective movement of cognition
thus belongs to being's very essence' (p. 61). In his discussions
on intentionality as a modality of being 'in which intentionality
'constitutes' the universe' (p. 33, referring to Husserl), Levinas
likewise talks about the observer -- 'who looks' (pp. 23, 27) -- and
speculates that 'looking amounts to being.' Levinas conceives of
self-consciousness as arche (p. 78) and thus contrasts between the
subjectivity of a perceiver and the subjectivity in proximity (p.
82). In the role of 'the subject in the manifestation of being... the
subject also manifests itself' (p.134) and so in consciousness, the
observer also shows itself forth in being.
I think that it is no accident that the proponents of the Copenhagen
interpretation, which has been characterized as a positivist or
subjective idealist interpretation, elected the mind of the
observer (or intentionality, consciousness), a modality of being, as
the lead actor in their conception of the quantum collapse. In doing
so, the quantum collapse becomes almost congruent with the showing
forth or manifestation of being. If quantum theory is to be a fully
meaningful scientific theory, it has to be assimilated into a
totalizable account within the realm of being, and what better manner
of totalization than to integrate quantum theory into the account of
being's manifestation in intentionality and consciousness.
The Copenhagen interpretation can be criticized as motivated by the
agendum of reintroducing the role of free will into science,
something that deterministic science precludes. This is perhaps to
present an argument of how the human free will 'transcends'
scientific materialism. Levinas, however, contrasts freedom of choice
against freedom in responsibility (p. 76) as the freedom in
transcendence at the 'hither side of freedom and non-freedom' (p.
86), neither freedom of choice nor slavery (p. 105), a freedom that
is anchored to the infinite responsibility for the other (pp.
115-116). Thus, the effort to reintroduce the role of free will as
some sort of transcendence beyond deterministic science is still a
movement within the immanence of being and does not point towards the
transcendence that Levinas refers to. The Copenhagen interpretation
can be criticized as another example of 'expounding an ideology as a
science' and can likewise be problematic as a scientific
interpretation because it invokes a dualism wherein the human mind
resides in some extra-physical reality.
The Copenhagen interpretation, however, fits well with a conception
of the quantum arrow of time, which reduces the flow of time as a
function of the quantum collapse, of the transition from uncertainty
to certainty. It also fits well with Levinas' notion of
temporalization as a modality of essence. Levinas states -- 'Time is
reminiscence and reminiscence is time, the unity of consciousness and
essence' (p. 29) as opposed to diachrony which is a modality of
transcendence (p. 38).
The second major interpretative attempt is the many worlds
interpretation, which posits that the probable outcomes defined by
quantum theory are all equally real in deterministic reality, and
thus the many worlds interpretation is usually visualized in terms of
the image of parallel universes. Part of the visualization is the
notion that there are infinitely many parallel universes. In spite of
its references to infinity, it is not difficult to see that the many
worlds interpretation, as an attempt to elucidate the nature of the
quantum collapse, is still an account within the sphere of being. The
many worlds interpretation is a thematized account of infinity, while
Levinas states early on in his text that 'the Infinite is
non-thematizable' (p. 12). Levinas further elaborates that the
Infinite 'is not elaborated according to the scenario of being and
consciousness... is not an extrapolation of the finite' (p. 154), but
instead it should be conceived of as 'an infinition of the infinite,
as glory' (p. 93), an infinity 'in the begininglessness of an anarchy
and in the endlessness of obligation' (p. 140), in 'a life outside of
essence of nothingness' (p. 142). The notion of parallel universes in
the many worlds interpretation, on the other hand, can be thought of
as a conception of infinity that is 'an extrapolation of the finite,'
or as 'synchronized alterity' (in reference to p. 90, in the
discussion of alterity that cannot be assembled 'into a synthesis in
the synchrony of the correlative'), or simply as an effort to reduce
disorder into order (p. 101). Thus, the account of the many worlds
interpretation never really breaks out of essence but instead
provides an image of parallel universes, within the realm of being,
which can be romanticized towards an artificial account of
It has been shown in the discussions in this section that the
problematization of the nature of the quantum collapse ultimately
drives the philosophical discourse on quantum theory towards a
thematized, totalizable account within the realm of being, of
essence. This then begs the question of whether there could be a
trace or a glimpse of transcendence in attempting to philosophize
beyond the quantum collapse, a question which shall be explored in
the next section.
Beyond the Quantum Collapse
Going beyond the quantum collapse, in a manner inspired by what
Levinas refers to as the inversion of essence (pp. 70, 75), the
'turning inside out' of intentionality and consciousness (p. 48), is
not a simple reversal from the realm of certainty, of deterministic
and objective macro-reality, towards the realm of uncertainty in
quantum reality. This movement would still remain within the
immanence of being, within the totalizability of essence.
Levinas talks of an ambiguity which 'is the condition of
vulnerability itself, that is, of sensibility as signification' (p.
80). However, in his discussions of 'the very inordinateness of
infinity,' Levinas refers to this ambiguity as not mere uncertainty,
'not an indetermination of a noema' (p. 94). Levinas elaborates
further in his discussion of skepticism and reason to stress the
distinction between uncertainty and transcendence.
'This danger will appear to knowing as uncertainty, but it
is transcendence itself, before certainty and uncertainty,
which arise only in knowledge.' (p. 167)
Thus, in order to break out of essence, the quantum collapse cannot
simply be reversed into a realm of uncertainty, to the realm of the
set of possible outcomes, which is reducible to determinism either by
the freedom of choice of intentionality and consciousness or by the an
artificial infinity that is the extrapolation of the finite.
Transcendence is not merely a break out of determinism towards
uncertainty, but towards ambiguity, towards a restlessness that is
'not a dialectical scission, nor a process of equalizing difference'
(p. 107), towards a passivity that is 'the reverse of certainty that
falls back on itself' (p. 56), a passivity that is 'the way opposed
to the imperialism of consciousness' (p. 92).
It seems now that the discussion has been led towards the same
perplexity inherent to when the question on what it means to
philosophize beyond essence was first invoked. It has been shown that
philosophizing to elucidate the nature of the quantum collapse is an
endeavour within the realm of being and essence. An initial attempt
has been made to conceive of the possibility of breaking out of
essence by going beyond the quantum collapse but it has also been
shown that the trace of transcendence cannot be glimpsed in simply
reversing the quantum collapse towards uncertainty. Could there be a
trace of transcendence in the attempt to go beyond the quantum
I now proceed to state an initial thesis on how a trace of
transcendence can be glimpsed in the attempt to go beyond the quantum
collapse. I think the trace is potentially revealed in the breakup of
the quantum arrow of time, in the inversion of the quantum collapse.
If the notion of the quantum arrow of time, wherein the incarnation
and flow of time is reduced as equivalent to the quantum collapse, to
the transition from uncertainty to certainty, then the inversion of
the quantum collapse cannot be the mere reversal of time, but
instead, it is the breakup of time, which can be initially thought of
as a breakup of time towards uncertainty. When the reversal of the
quantum collapse is thought about in the case of the interaction
among particles and forces, or in other words, in the case of quantum
states, then the reversal towards uncertainty can be thought of as
simply a transition towards a set of possible outcomes, a set of
possible quantum states. However, when the reversal of the quantum
collapse is thought about in the case of time, then the resulting
thought is ambiguous -- a mix-up of the elements of time, a breakup
of time. Could this simply be a breakup into a quantitative infinity
of finite temporal parts? This cannot be a reversal into the set of
possible temporal parts, which is a recuperation into the realm of
being, instead, this is the breakup of the very dimensional axis of
time. Conceivably, there could be many other ways of thematizing this
ambiguous breakup of time but I sense that at this juncture, the
tension and the resistance is already coming from the side of
thematization against the apparent ambiguity, instead of the usual
scenario wherein the attempt to articulate an ambiguity needs to
exert an effort against thematization.
An attempt can then be made to conceive of the possibility of
pointing this ambiguous notion of the breakup of time in the
inversion of the quantum collapse towards Levinas' conception of
anarchy and infinity, 'a time that does not enter into the unity of
transcendental apperception' (p. 140), an infinity that refuses the
'assembling by reminiscence... an irreversible divergency from the
present like that of a past that was never present' (p. 154), an
infinity that 'no theme, no present has a capacity for' (p. 146).
This initial thesis can be restated as such -- to philosophize beyond
essence, beyond being, in relation to quantum theory, is to
philosophize about the breakup of the quantum arrow of time in the
inversion of the quantum collapse.
I recognize that this thesis is highly conjectural and might be very
easily demolished by an expert theoretical physicist or a philosopher
who has extensively studied Levinas. Nonetheless, I think there is at
least a small merit in articulating it through this paper and my only
hope is that this paper could provide at least a little enrichment in
the discussion on the search for what is otherwise than being and
could raise the faintest voice questioning the preoccupation with the
elucidation of the quantum collapse as the central philosophical
problem in quantum theory.
An Afterthought: Quantum Theory and Ethics
I am reminded of quantum entanglement, a related concept within
quantum theory which has been somewhat linked to ethics in a manner
that might be judged as fanciful but which I think is somehow
sensible. The illustration of quantum entanglement that I usually
recall is the image of two particles with opposite spins within a
system wherein there is a law for the conservation of total spin.
Even if the two particles are separated by great distance, if one
particle changes spin, then the other particle also changes spin in
order to conserve the original total spin of the system, as if the
two particles are entangled. The following ethical statement is an
example of how quantum entanglement can be interpreted in relation to
ethics -- everyone is responsible for everyone else because whatever
everyone does affects everyone else even though one's actions may
seem detached. Such an account of ethical responsibility that is
related to quantum entanglement, although it conceives of ethical
responsibility as something beyond the freedom of choice, is still
tied down to a totalized account of the being of the entanglement
Conceivably, the thesis articulated above on the possibility of
philosophizing beyond essence in the breakup of the quantum arrow of
time in the inversion of the quantum collapse could also point
towards a different sort of ethical responsibility related to quantum
theory, in line with Levinas' thrust of finding 'for man another
kinship than that which ties him to being' (p. 177) -- the infinite
responsibility for the other as the locus of transcendence.
Barr, Stephen M. 'Faith and Quantum Theory.' Reprinted in The Best
American Spiritual Writing 2008, ed. Philip Zaleski, 1-10. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008.
Camilleri, Kristian. 'Constructing the Myth of the Copenhagen
Interpretation.' Perspectives on Science 17, no. 1 (2009): 26-57.
Everett, Hugh III. ' 'Relative State' Formulation of Quantum
Mechanics.' Reviews of Modern Physics 29, no. 3 (1957):454-462.
Kleppner, Daniel and Roman Jackiw. 'One Hundred Years of Quantum
Physics.' Science, New Series 289, no. 5481 (2000): 893.
Lessl, Thomas M. 'Gnostic Scientism and the Prohibition of
Questions.' Rhetoric and Public Affairs 5, no. 1 (2002): 133-157.
Levinas, Emmanuel, translated by Alphonso Lingis. Otherwise than
Being or Beyond Essence. Seventh printing. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
Duquesne University Press, 2008.
Tegmark, Max and John Archibald Wheeler. '100 Years of Quantum
Mysteries.' Scientific American, February 2001, 72-29.
Wallace, David. 'The Arrow of Time in Physics.' in A Companion to the
Philosophy of Time, eds. Adrian Bardon and Heather Dyke.
1. All page references and quotations from the text of Levinas'
Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence that are made in this paper
are based on -- Levinas, Emmanuel, translated by Alphonso Lingis.
Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. Seventh printing. Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania: Duquesne University Press, 2008.
2. With the assumption that the translation is sufficiently faithful
to the original.
3. This paradox -- 'the otherwise than being reveals itself' -- is
resorted to given the current inability to think of a better
4. This paper provides first a brief general discussion on the
question of what it means to philosophize beyond essence, and then
proceeds to relate this question to the philosophical concerns in
quantum theory. Thus, it is not the intent of this paper to provide
an extensive discussion of the conception of the infinite
responsibility for the other and of the traces of the otherwise than
being in the encounter with the face of the other, but it might be
touched on in appropriate junctures in this paper.
5. The explications of quantum theory used in the discussions in this
paper are primarily based on the following introductory articles on
quantum theory -- Daniel Kleppner and Roman Jackiw, 'One Hundred
Years of Quantum Physics,' Science, New Series 289, no. 5481 (2000):
893-898 ; Stephen M. Barr, 'Faith and Quantum Theory,' reprinted in
The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008, ed. Philip Zaleski (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008), 1-10; and Max Tegmark and John
Archibald Wheeler, '100 Years of Quantum Mysteries,' Scientific
American, February 2001, 72-29.
6. This reminds me of what Thomas M. Lessl calls 'gnostic scientism.'
7. Consciousness is likewise contrasted against subjectivity in p. 25.
8. Kristian Camilleri, 'Constructing the Myth of the Copenhagen
Interpretation,' Perspectives on Science 17, no. 1 (2009): 26-57.
9. David Wallace, 'The Arrow of Time in Physics,' in A Companion to
the Philosophy of Time, eds. Adrian Bardon and Heather Dyke
(c) Marlon Jesspher B. De Vera 2016
II. 'NO MORE SOUP' BY MICHAEL LEVY
There is an old folklore story that goes something like this...
One day a student heard of a great wise master. After many trials and
tribulations on his journey he located the wise sage. He went down on
his hands and knees and begged.
'Master please teach me enlightenment.' The master relied, 'Go into
the kitchen where you will find angry cooks and fetch me a bowl of
He went into the kitchen and was badly beaten for asking for soup but
he persisted and fetched the master the soup. The student continued to
ask the master for enlightenment and the master would only ask for
more soup. This practice went on every day for ten years. Then on the
tenth anniversary the student, all battered and bruised, brought the
master a bowl of soup. The master stood up, took off one of his shoes
and slapped the student in the face with it and walked out the room...
At last the student became enlightened.
This may seem like a cruel story on the surface and when we look a
little deeper we find how cruel it really is, but in the cruelty an
awareness of wisdom's light shines through the gloom.
We can view the story in a simple way of following a demanding boss
who we work for or a demanding close relative or friend. However,
there is a deeper significance to the story... You see, we all have
an ego that we believe to be the master of our domain. This is our
'real identity.'... This is who we think we are.
The ego-master holds many negative emotions in its memory banks. It
sends us out in the world with anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, worry,
anxiety. When it asks for new possessions and we do not obtain them,
we may experience disappointment and resentment. Perhaps we have a
belief system we live by, and if we induce the wrong reaction from
people who do not believe the way we do then we may feel rejected.
Sometimes contradictory beliefs can turn a small difference of
principles into a major war.
We beat ourselves up with the negative emotions from other people and
our own response. We keep going back in our memory to the person we
think we are and that identity builds more power and demands more
things. It wants these demands satisfied. Unfortunately, they can
never be satisfied. Then one day as we fetch and carry for our master
to meet its continuous undermining demands, it slaps us in the face
with a debilitating illness.
If we do not wake up and become aware of the monster we have
innocently created it will not stop its commands. It will still
persist with its requirements with no mercy, even though we have a
disease, until we get the final slap in the face, which is a
premature death, before our actual life-span was due to expire.
Human beings cannot live outside Universal laws. Mortal beings cannot
live independently of the laws of nature. Everyone on earth is
dependent on Earth's food, water and air. Every person on earth knows
that, but most people have forgotten their dependence on the inner
spirit that created/evolved them and thus suffer a life filled with
disappointments and torments.
Much of humanity today is allowing ego's will power to take over from
the soul's silent wisdom. More and more people are becoming distant
and independent of spirit's will. Not only in the scientific world,
media or academia but also many religions have distanced themselves
from an authentic spirit and replaced it with a macho God that
demands we follow 'Him' or else all hell will break loose.
When they do follow 'him' many fear living in Hell's kitchen asking
for more soup. If religions are so cool, why are most followers still
beaten up by their own guilt complex? Maybe it is because a life that
is viewed from a predisposed yesteryear script and an expectant
joyful arrival once they get to Heaven only leads to an
unsatisfactory, untruthful, present day existence.
We are all particles of vibrational strings that sail around the
universe humming de-lightful melodies. If we live as happy musical
notes we will sing our songs wherever we go. All the birds and bees
will be delighted to join in the chorus. Now take a pen and write
these words and practice them as your Mantra...
Joy... Joy... Joy
Silent... Silent... Silent
Vacant... Vacant... Vacant
After a while, you may desire to keep a journal of daily events. It
is great fun to enjoy observing... de-pen-dance in-spirit.
(c) Michael Levy 2016
III. 'THE METAPHYSICS OF NONDUALISM AND THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY' BY
My involvement with Dr. Klempner and the Pathways school began when I
signed up as an amateur enthusiast to write a dissertation. I had
stumbled upon what seemed to be the only possible solution for
metaphysics and wanted to get my ideas organised and on paper in
order that mistakes would become clear to make it possible for others
to examine my solution and offer objections that might lead to its
modification or reveal it as a failure. I needed a reality-check. I
also needed to learn how to communicate, an ongoing process.
The dissertation took five years to research and write. The help and
advice I received along the way was invaluable and exactly what was
required. The version archived by Pathways turned out to be a draft
for a much-improved version now readable elsewhere. This essay more
or less summarises its contents. At this length, (perhaps at any
length), it cannot deal with all possible objections but I know of
none that cannot be met.
Metaphysics is usually considered to be an immensely complex area of
study, as well as being dull and pointless. Yet it is the study of
first principles, and first principles cannot be complicated. It is
not even clear that there can be more than one of them. Metaphysics
is the study of the world by 'reduction' or at the most general
level, and 'reduction' clearly implies a progressive shedding of
complexity. Accordingly, we would not expect metaphysics to be
complicated, just conceptually and psychologically difficult.
Metaphysical questions are usually capable of being understood by
anyone over the age of twelve, and if the professionals make the
subject impossibly complex then this cannot be because they are on
the right track.
The proposal here would be that metaphysics is profoundly simple when
examined at the level of first principles, the level at which it must
be examined, just as we would expect, and, further, that at this
level it can be solved with a single sword-stroke. The problem is
only that making sense of the solution would be a very different
matter and could take a lifetime or more. Worse, if it is correct
then to understand it fully would be to understand Reality and
Existence fully, and this could never be done by studying a map. This
difficulty need not be an obstacle to us in formal metaphysics,
however, since once we have defined our terms we are concerned only
with analysis. Few people understand E=Mc2 and fewer still the
phenomena to which these letters refer, but we do not doubt that it
is a correct theory and safe prediction. Comprehension and
plausibility could ever only follow from an unpacking of the simple
global view presented here into a more complex and developed theory
capable of addressing the details and of showing itself to be capable
of dealing with them. The details, however, are not where any solution
to metaphysics will lie. A solution must be general, global, resting
on principles that can be applied wherever and whenever we meet a
metaphysical problem, and it must be very simple.
The approach we are taking here avoids the chaos into which
metaphysics descends when it begins by examining particular
philosophical problems prior to gaining a clear overview of the
field. The biggest mistake that can be made in metaphysics, it seems
to me, is to attempt to solve its problems one at a time. It would be
miss the whole point of the game. Metaphysics is the board-room of
knowledge, where a total breadth of vision is not optional. To deal
with the details of the puzzle we must be able to see the picture on
the box, and cutting the picture up into fragments before studying it
as a whole would be an odd thing to do. Metaphysics is the search for
a general theory or 'theory of everything', and for this we must fly
high above the landscape of knowledge looking down at the grand
Anyone who has spent half an hour wrestling with a few metaphysical
dilemmas will have gone some way towards verifying the situation in
which metaphysicians invariably find themselves. The situation is
this. If we were to make a list of metaphysical problems it could be
arranged in the binary form of two columns, where every theory in the
left-hand column would be paired with its counter-theory in the
right-hand column. Note that none of these would be 'theories' in a
scientific sense of this word, just isolated conjectures on local
problems or 'positions'. These contradictory and complementary pairs
would include all the famous 'isms' such as Materialism-Idealism,
Internalism-Externalism, Theism-Atheism, Freewill-Determinism,
Dualism-Monism and so forth, and then One-Many, Mind-Matter and so on
and any other contrasted pairs of metaphysical views, such as the view
by which space-time must be either a continuum or a series of points,
the view by which the space-time world must be real or unreal, the
view by which the 'self' is either real or unreal, the view by which
ethics are either subjective of objective and so forth. These would
be the well-known horns of the many ancient and venerable
metaphysical dilemmas that we want to resolve.
This list of paired metaphysical conjectures would be a long one but
we would not need to examine it closely for a global solution. It is
well-known that that none of these pairs of counterposed conjectures
work. This would be the motive for logical positivism, mysterianism,
dialethism and various other arguments for abandoning metaphysics as
hopeless. It would be the reason why our dogmatically anti-esoteric
academic philosophy makes no progress from century to century and why
nobody expects it to do so, for the undecidability of all these pairs
of selective conclusions is the entire excuse for it. Anyone who
pursues a metaphysical question with a little perseverance is certain
to end up facing an impossible choice between two demonstrably absurd
theories. For many questions this problem would arise almost as soon
as we ask it and is easy to verify.
Let us not ignore this well-known fact, as is the inexplicable
practice in professional philosophy, but take it on board. By doing
so we can massively simplify the issues. Here are four propositions
which are global, truly metaphysical and that condense a great many
issues and claims into very few words. They take us from the
beginning to the end of metaphysics. The end of metaphysics would be
mysticism, where analysis and theory turns to experiment and
practice, but we need not go beyond formal or speculative metaphysics
in order to judge the plausibility and significance of all of these
statements or to judge whether they would work as a solution for
metaphysics, subject to an investigation of their wider implications.
1. The Universe is reasonable
2. All positive metaphysical positions are logically indefensible
3. A neutral metaphysical position is logically defensible
4. The Universe is a Unity
Proposition 1: The Universe is reasonable.
Definitions: As this is a metaphysical discussion the term 'Universe'
would mean 'Reality', 'Cosmos' or 'Everything' such that there would
be no plural. The term 'reasonable' here would mean that a true
explanation of the universe would be consistent with Aristotle's
'laws of thought' and rules for the dialectic, thus with the way
human beings usually think.
Comments: This proposition states that a true description of the
universe would not require a modification to the laws of the
dialectical logic described by Aristotle nor ask us to abandon our
usual way of thinking. There would be no true contradictions. The
universe would not be paradoxical, logically absurd or terminally
incomprehensible. Omniscience, were we ever to achieve it, would not
cause us cognitive dissonance. The universe would make sense in
principle, even if it might be extremely difficult to make sense of
We can read P1 as an axiom or a factual claim. Usually philosophers
adopt this 'reasonableness' proposition as a necessary starting
assumption and then go on to assume, in addition, that it must
forever remain no more than an assumption. We must start in the same
way but we need not go on to make the second assumption. We can
interpret P1 as a theoretical axiom, a basis for a methodology and a
statement of intent, but it is on our list of factual propositions
because it can be withdrawn as an axiom and established as an
analytical result from a study of the other three propositions.
One reason for beginning with P1 would be to make it clear that the
approach we are taking to metaphysics here is essentially rational
and grounded in reason. It leads us to the view of the Upanishads and
the Buddha, Lao Tsu and Erwin Schrodinger, admittedly, this cannot be
helped, but it makes no 'appeal to mysticism', miracles or necessary
ignorance along the way, or to any privileged knowledge. Our four
propositions are strictly metaphysical. The common idea that there is
some fatal inconsistency between logic and mysticism such that any
'rational' philosophy must exclude the possibility that the perennial
philosophy is true is a hang-over from the past and cannot be
justified by any evidence or sound argument and in this internet age,
with so many fabulous explanatory texts available on demand, it can
reasonably be called a beginner's mistake. The correct approach would
be to logically prove that a rational thinker must reject the
perennial philosophy. To succeed in this project we would have to
falsify one or more of the propositions listed here. There would be
no other way to do it. The idea that mysticism presents a woolly
doctrine that is not a clear target for analysis is sustainable only
if we do not do the analysis.
Proving that Buddhism, Taoism and so forth are a lot of nonsense is
just the sort of thing I used to assume professional philosophers got
paid for doing. After all, they usually express strong views on these
matters. I was very naive. It turns out that they very rarely think
about these issues, preferring to endorse a communal fantasy as to
what lies beyond the walls of the Academy. Colin McGinn's book The
Making of a Philosopher, in which he charts his intellectual
development from teenager to tenured professor, offers us a useful
and entertaining introduction to philosophy and I often recommend it,
especially to young people. I do so sincerely here. I envy his
communication skills and organised mind. It is also a very good
illustration of what happens when we buy into the modern philosophy
department's idea of what constitutes intellectual development. The
tenured professor can no more solve a problem than the teenager, lost
in a world where everybody believes that metaphysics is
incomprehensible and that mysticism is nonsense. It does not seem to
occur to the inhabitants that these two beliefs might be causally
connected. For the sake of human society and what remains of life on
Earth, and hopefully before it is too late, professional philosophy
should stop relying on entrenched opinions and do the sums. This
would put paid to materialism and other socially corrosive fantasies.
We come to our second proposition. This is the big one. It
encapsulates the whole of metaphysics. For me it would be the most
important statement that can be made in formal metaphysics and the
most helpful for any understanding of it.
Proposition 2: All positive metaphysical positions are logically
Definitions: The word 'All' here makes this a global proposition. It
is an unequivocal statement about one entire class of metaphysical
positions and it takes no prisoners. A 'positive' position would be
any one of the two extreme position we might take up on any
metaphysical question, thus all of the 'theories' in the two columns
we spoke of earlier. Synonyms would be 'partial', 'extreme' or
'selective'. A metaphysical 'position' would be our position on any
metaphysical question. 'Logically indefensible' would mean capable of
being reduced to absurdity in the Aristotelian dialectic by a
demonstration that it would give rise to a self-contradiction.
Synonyms would be 'unreasonable' and 'logically absurd'. In ordinary
conversation just 'absurd'.
Comments: Kant states equivalently, with no proviso, 'All selective
conclusions about the world as a whole are undecidable'. Why is this?
It could only be because P2 stands up to analysis and must be true,
unfalsifiable or both. Kant considers it to be demonstrably true. It
follows that metaphysical dilemmas must always take the form of the
question, 'Would two plus two equal three or five'. All we can say is
'no' and this solves the problem. Francis Bradley states, 'Metaphysics
does not endorse a positive result' and feels no need to equivocate.
As an Absolute Idealist this would be his solution and explanation
for philosophy and not in any sense a problem. If he is correct then
as formulated by the philosophy department metaphysical problems are
intractable and will remain so forever. The only approach it never
adopts is that of taking the Buddha and Lao Tsu seriously, and so it
condemns itself for all eternity to the Sisyphusian task of trying to
decide whether 3 or 5 is the best solution for 2+2. After two
millennia of trying it ought to be obvious that it is not. There
would be another option to this category-error.
P2 was logically proved by the Buddhist monk Noble Nagarjuna in the
second century CE for his exegesis of the Buddha's cosmological
scheme, placing Buddhist metaphysics on an explicable and unshakeable
logical foundation. It is proved less formally by Bradley in his 1897
essay Appearance and Reality.
With P2 we have identified the problem of metaphysics and can now
Proposition 3: A neutral metaphysical position is logically defensible.
Definitions: A 'neutral' metaphysical position would be a rejection
of all positive positions. It represents a 'Middle Way' solution for
the countless undecidable questions that arise when we do not reject
all such positions. The phrases 'doctrine of the mean' and
'nondualism' would be synonyms but with a wider meaning. 'Logically
defensible' would mean irrefutable in the dialectic or in accordance
with the 'laws of thought'. 'Reasonable' would be a synonym and
'rational' another. It would be important to note that a neutral
metaphysical position is defined here as a logical phenomenon and
that as such it would belong fully in metaphysics as a testable
theory, for this would be the whole point of it. The terms 'Middle
Way', 'nondualism' and 'mysticism' would refer to a doctrine that
encompasses a great deal more than formal metaphysics and that lies
largely outside the scope of a metaphysical essay.
Comments: This idea of calling the metaphysical scheme of nondualism
'neutral' may be the only novelty in this discussion. The only other
philosophical use of it I have noticed is by Charles Peirce, and he
uses it to mean something quite different. Here it indicates that
wherever a metaphysical theory or conjecture has a contradictory and
complementary counter-theory we would reject both for a neutral
position. It would be a global application of compatibilism, a
reconciliation of opposites and an un-breaking of symmetries. We
would follow Lao Tsu, for whom the universe cannot be described as
this or that in any respect.
A neutral position has an explanatory reach that extends beyond
properties and attributes, divisions and distinctions, describing a
world that would extend not just beyond our physical senses but
beyond the reach of our intellect. Kant, exploring this idea in
respect of psychology, concludes that that basis for our intellect
must be a phenomenon that is 'not an instance of a category', thus a
unity free of division and distinction. Plotinus calls this a
'Simplex'. Charles Peirce calls it the 'First'. Kant proposes that
this phenomena would be the 'proper subject for a rational
psychology'. Mysticism claims that it would be the proper subject for
a rational psychology, ontology, epistemology and theoretical physics.
P3 is perhaps the most complex on the list because establishing its
truth would require a study of Aristotle's logic, about which there
is much confusion in philosophy. There is insufficient space here to
discuss this. The crucial point for now would be that a neutral
metaphysical position would state there is no such thing as a true
contradiction and no formal contradictions would arise for a true
description of the world. They would certainly seem to arise, and
this would be why metaphysics must look beyond appearances in order
to see past them.
Metaphysics is the attempt to construct a systematic fundamental
theory, and anyone who examines the foundations of mathematics,
psychology, physics, consciousness or indeed anything at all will
sooner or later end up facing the same set of metaphysical problems.
In the professional academic world, where the solution we are
exploring here would normally be off-limits, there is as yet no
fundamental theory of anything at all. There never can be one unless
it is the one presented here since problems of self-reference will
prevent the success of any competing theory. It would be these
ancient and perennial problems of self-reference that a neutral
metaphysical position uniquely allows us to overcome.
A systematic theory requires an initial axiom on which the structure
can rest and from which the truth and falsity of the theorems in the
system can be derived. The axiom I would choose is Proposition 4.
Proposition 4: The Universe is a Unity.
Definitions: We run into a problem here. It would not be possible to
define the term 'unity' in a positive way since any such definition
would have to be a denial of unity. Any such definition would have to
identify attributes and properties that this unity either has or does
not have in order to speak of it at all, while a unity must be
defined as having all properties and no properties, a perfect balance
of opposites. It would be for this reason that for Lao Tsu the Tao
'that is eternal' cannot be spoken. This would be a definition, not
an appeal to ignorance. There would be two ways of conceiving or
speaking of this phenomenon in respect of each potential attribute,
and also globally in respect having or not-having attributes, neither
of which would ever be strictly correct. A 'Necker cube' may be a
rough sort of analogy, or perhaps an electron, albeit there can be no
accurate analogy. This would be an implication of the Yin-Yang symbol
-- the two faces of a mountain, one in light and one in shadow,
neither of which is the mountain -- and this implication would extend
to all attributes we might try to assign this unity such as
temporality, freewill, extension, personality, existence or being.
This problem emerges in western philosophy as the 'problem of
attributes': a phenomenon that has attributes obviously does not have
them. A unity would be a fabulously subtle phenomenon in discursive
philosophy, inconceivable and unspeakable. It would not even be
correct to call it an undefined term since negatively it can be
defined with great precision. It would not be this as opposed to that
in any case. It would be the phenomenon that Kant believed to be the
proper subject for rational psychology, a phenomenon that is not and
cannot be an instance of a category of thought. Here we see that
while metaphysics may be simplified at a certain point its simplicity
becomes its principle difficulty. We are asked to look beyond
intellect and analysis to being and identity.
Comments: A unity would not be a numerical 'one' although it would in
a sense be 'One'. The term advaita (not-two) as used for nondual
interpretation of the Upanishads can be seen to deliberately avoid
endorsing a numerical property. A unity may be defined negatively by
denying it partial properties or divisions but even this approach can
lead to misunderstandings. When we are told that a phenomenon is not
'A' we might assume that in this case it must be 'not-A' instead.
This is how our minds work. Yet the assumption that the two horns of
a metaphysical dilemma would exhaust the possibilities is a
demonstrable misuse of logic leading to the stagnation of academic
philosophy and to the amazing sight of otherwise reasonable and
intelligent scientists arguing at length for ex nihilo creation on
the grounds that if there was not originally 'Something' then.... We
have nowhere else to go but chaos and confusion once we reject the
unity of the universe and take up extreme positions on this kind of
question. Unless we assume that the universe is a unity the problems
of metaphysics cannot make sense and must remain intractable. The
evidence is there in the writings of every published philosopher. If
there is only one truth then there is only way to solve metaphysics.
A neutral metaphysical position, which denies the ultimate or
metaphysical reality of all division, distinction and differentiation
at the very final level of reduction, would depend on an axiom of
unity. From this axiom we can derive the principle of nonduality, the
principle on which rests the philosophical structure of Middle Way
Buddhism and the entire philosophical plausibility of the phenomenon
we call 'mysticism'. If the universe is not a unity then the
knowledge claimed by the mystics would be demonstrably impossible.
How could Lao Tsu learn of the origin of the universe from looking
inside himself otherwise? If metaphysics is the study of first
principles then it must surely be the study of this one. If, as
philosophers, we are not able to falsify this axiom and accompanying
principle then we are not able to make a serious objection to the
perennial philosophy and can have little reason to suppose it is
false, for this axiom encapsulates the entire doctrine by implication
insofar as it pertains to formal metaphysics.
We arrived at P4 by a process of inference but we could have started
with it. Such is the coherence and logical integration of a neutral
metaphysical theory -- the close and ineluctable inter-connectedness
of its theorems by logical implication -- that many and possibly all
of its true theorems can do duty as axioms. When Heraclitus states,
'We are and are not' he unambiguously denies the truth of either of
these extreme views and proposes the unity of the universe. When Lao
Tsu states, 'True words seem paradoxical' he denies the ultimate
truth of any positive or partial statement about the world as a whole
and endorses its unity. When Nicolas de Cusa writes, 'He lies beyond
the coincidence of contradictories' he is explaining the Unity of All
that he has realised in his vision. When the Sufi sage Al Halaj tells
us that it would not be rigorous to state 'God is One' he is
endorsing a doctrine of unity for which there can be no testifier set
apart from God. And so on. The authentic literature of mysticism never
varies on this point. It appears that people who follow the Delphic
Oracles' advice to know themselves and who persevere consistently
discover the same thing, just as we all discover the same thing when
we study metaphysics.
There can be no possibility of making much sense of the term 'unity'
here but it can be treated as a theoretical term yet to be fleshed
out. It can be defined negatively by listing all the things that it
is not and so it works as a logical term for an investigation of its
usefulness. Spencer Brown, whose book Laws of Form explains this
nondual solution for metaphysics by way of a formal calculus,
elsewhere likens this phenomenon to a blank piece of paper before the
first 'mark' or conceptual distinction is made on it. This is where
the world of opposites in which we live would originate, an emanation
from, encompassed within, or whatever the correct description would
be, a phenomenon prior to number and form. This would be, in
Schrodinger's metaphor, the 'canvas on which they are painted'.
We could add to the list but just these four propositions carry us
from scholastic philosophy, which would normally assume P1 and have
P2 as a result, to mysticism, which depends on P3 for its external
intellectual plausibility and for which P4 would be both an
'empirical' or experimental finding and logical result of analysis.
These propositions therefore transcend the philosophy of our western
universities and enable us to solve problems that baffle professors.
Logic and experience would coincide.
A neutral metaphysical position can be defined so closely, like the
state of a pencil balanced on its tip, that there can be no
prevarication on metaphysical problems. The danger of adopting this
position, therefore, or the price, would be that one tends to becomes
rather dogmatic about what is right and wrong when speaking about
fundamental issues. One pulls out the principle of nonduality and
this enchanted sword just chops through the problems. Nobody else
will have a competing solution that works since there would not be
one. Yet there would always be two ways to look at this. Neutrality
means that no view would be entirely wrong, so it would usually be
possible to half-agree with any opposing view as capturing something
of the truth.
Hang on, I hear you say, this is all much too simple. Not long ago I
would have agreed. When I can across this simple solution, at which
time I knew approximately nothing about philosophy and truly nothing
whatsoever about mysticism, and thus thought I had invented my idea,
I was immediately amazed that it had not yet become the orthodox
solution for many problems in academia over time and that it is,
rather, derided for being nonsense. It seemed so obviously correct.
Hence the reality-check of the dissertation. Surely there had to be a
mistake in there somewhere. A decade and a half later and I am still
amazed. Kant calls Scepticism the 'scandal of philosophy' but it is
surely the symptom of a much wider scandal. The problem seems to be
simply a lack of interest. It appears that professional philosophy
has given up on metaphysics and thus on the whole of philosophy.
Over the years I have come to believe that the average professional
philosopher cares little for the study of philosophy. He or she will
study the philosophy of this or that, trying to build the roof before
the foundations. A million books have been published yet it is rare to
meet a paid-up member of the profession who has properly examined the
claims made by the perennial philosophy. How is this possible? It
cannot be because it is somehow not part of philosophy. It is called
'philosophy' because it gives an explanation of philosophy. It cannot
be because this philosophy has been tested as a formal metaphysical
theory and found wanting. It is called 'perennial' because it cannot
be improved upon or falsified. It is, after all, supposed to be true.
It may be explained in ever renewed ways, as here, and must be, and as
an explanatory theory it must be extended in all sorts of directions
by examining its ramifications beyond metaphysics, but the
metaphysical underpinning never changes. Surely it is about time that
the academic community explained to the rest of us what exactly is
wrong with this description of the world. A summary such as this
ought to provide a clear enough target for a refutation.
(c) Peter Jones 2016
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