|Have I carried coherence too far? That is the only relevant question. I have carried it to its logical conclusion. If someone thinks that coherence should be limited, they'll have to figure out how to do that in a way that is not totally arbitrary. Good luck! I have found no such way, and I have been working this territory for at least 25 years. But don't take my word for it. Appealing to coherence puts the ball back in the skeptic's court. To what context or authority can they appeal? Their final recourse is to appeal to our conservative instincts, hoping that coherence will just go away.
I am bookmarking this section of my weblog to send to R. We then have to figure who to approach and how. I will now start working up a longer summary, following this, that could later be tailored to the given individual's situation.
In the story of coherence there is an arch villain: Rene Descartes. He tried to put asunder that which God had joined, namely the mind and body. This is the Cartesian dichotomy that made scientific materialism conceptually possible. Now, three centuries later, we seem to be stuck with this legacy. The more we struggle with the mind-body problem the more insoluble it appears to be. I am not saying that we should stop struggling, but I am saying, that after three centuries, it is time for at least some of us to consider our alternatives. What are they?
I maintain that there is only one rational alternative to Descartes. Science has only ever had one strategy for dealing with the mind: eliminate it. Consciousness is just a subjective illusion. It is our final self-centered illusion that science must overcome, the way Copernicus overcame our geo-centric illusion. Unfortunately it is more than just consciousness that is to be put on the chopping block. Reason itself is up for grabs. How can science eliminate reason? Isn't science supposed to be based on reason? Well, that was yesterday, evidently tomorrow is going to be a brave new world.
Some of us are not convinced. Some of us are willing to wager that science has finally met its match. There is even a general agreement amongst those of us on this other side of the philosophical fence that defending the mind against the predatory attentions of science will have to be more than piecemeal. Anything piecemeal could only be a rearguard action. The only logical or coherent way to defend the mind is to turn its defense into a cosmic issue. If mind is not an accident of nature, if it is not a contingent fact about a material world, then it is scientific materialism that will have to be upset, even upended.
It is one thing to come to this conclusion, it is another thing to act upon it. At this juncture our ranks rapidly thin out, seemingly to the point of oblivion. Instead we have the spectacle of postmodernism. Rather than correcting Descartes, we ape him. We just proceed to carve the world into ever smaller, incommensurable sub-domains of self-limiting methodologies and discourse. Is this not the way the world is? Or is incoherence becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy? Coherence, if it ever existed, has taken a great fall. How do we put it back together? Certainly not one piece at a time.
Before Descartes there was just theism and pantheism. With theism, there was a more or less rational Creation. With pantheism, there was no rationale for the world. The lack of rationale was due mainly to our unwitting responsibility for its creation and recreation. In clinging to the world we were actually just clinging to our own illusions. As they say, East is East and West is West. Or are they? Is there really a disconnect here?
Why can't we have the best of both these worlds? We can and we do. That is the rationale for the Best Possible World. Should this have to be rocket science or brain surgery? I say not. With all the distractions of science and now of postmodernism, not to mention the acrimonious posturing by every brand of fundamentalism, we're left with nobody tending the cosmological store. There's nobody here but us chickens, and they don't call me Chicken Little for naught.
What is right with pantheism is the fundamental unity it ascribes to the world. It is all the manifestation of a single underlying reality. We are an intimate, integral part of all that is. With theism there is a rationale, but we are here only as the invited guests. Apart from our individual moral struggles, we are mere spectators when it comes to Creation. Separately, neither of these views is coherent. On the one hand we exist only by some unfathomable necessity, on the other hand we exist only by the mysterious grace of God. May these two separate mysteries be rendered mutually coherent? Yes.
Theists do admit that we are created in the image of God, but this is much too weak. Identifying with God, however, is quite another matter. You are welcome to attend your local cinema to witness what happened to one such heretic. The pantheists don't mind if we identify with God, as long as we realize that God is an illusion. How have we managed to take one simple idea and create two incoherent distortions of it?
Can we not have our cake and eat it, too? Isn't that what the Christians are supposed to be doing on any given Sunday? Why should communion be treated as such a mystery? Isn't it the most obvious statement in the world? Why can't we all be chips off the old block? We are, so we'd better get used to it.
Why in heaven's name would God not want to create the best possible world? No reason whatsoever. She did and it is. So, are the theists then saying that in the best possible world the creatures will never be allowed to reunite with their Creator? Show me the scripture which proscribes that most basic of all creaturely desires. How did we arrive at this incoherent notion of a metaphysical dichotomy? That is the only real mystery anywhere in this environs. Perhaps Descartes knows the answer.
But don't get me wrong. I am not complaining about our state of ignorance. Technosis could not have arisen were it not for our metaphysical agnosis. Without our extended sojourn into materialism, nay, into 'matter', would there have been any history at all? History is just the story of our emergence from ignorance. That there might be this final twist in the plot should only help us to better appreciate the dramaturgic skill behind Creation. If you think you could come up with a better story, please leave your idea in the suggestion box on the way out.
This is a nice story, but how could it ever be proven? That is not my job. My job is only to render it sufficiently plausible so that some small but adequate number of early adopters would feel empowered to move the story forward from the point at which I am able to turn it over to them. The proof will ultimately be in that pudding.
I was off-line for most of the day with a power outage. A small twister touched down at my in-laws last evening. They have the adjoining property. It traveled for about a mile uprooting trees but leaving no structural damage. We were watching '10.5' at the time.
OK, here is where things get a little sticky. In the best of all worlds, one might have thought that Google by itself could have led enough people to this BPW website so as to get the ball rolling toward this greater coherence for which the world seems to have so great a need. Well, when the website first showed up on Google a few months ago there were a few nibbles, and then nothing. It appears that I am being forced back into the Aquarium mode, a mode which seemed to have been foreclosed several years ago. So here I am, coming back to Pelican with hat in hand. Beggars can't be choosy.
This puts P back in a difficult spot. If he were to act upon my request, he would call up someone in his phenomenology network with academic connections and set up a meeting for me. So far, so good. This person would know the ropes and some of the Aviary history, but then what? What is this person going to say to one of his naive academic colleagues who has not had this exposure? There would be a lot of explaining to do. Perhaps too much. Most sane people would throw their hands in the air and walk away.
OK, Plan B2: P talks to Jack S., fringe physics type, and suggest that he get me plugged back into that network. Jack might balk, but would relent. That fringe network could then serve as a buffer between P and the real world: academic, religious or otherwise. This would probably be a more effective buffer than anything as serious or as official as the phenomenology network. It should make things easier for P. Hopefully this would be sufficient to prime the Internet pump. Should I be confident that this is not too much to ask? It depends on how much arm twisting would be necessary to get Jack & Co to take notice. Too much twisting might set off someone's alarm. Some of these folks might start overreacting. Well, better sooner than later. These folks have set themselves up to be guinea pigs for just this kind of eventuality. Were they not asking for it? Would this not be the best possible teapot for experimenting with tempest control? [5/7 - I would hold off on this scenario until there has been at least one preliminary critique. Jack tends to be a loose cannon.]
And even if Google alone had been sufficient, this ball would very quickly have come back to P's court anyway, just based on my public record. One might then ask, why the Aquarium in the first place? It was either a bureaucratic fluke, or it was something more serious and more cosmic. Maybe we'll begin to find out.
Like I say, the ball is in your court, Mr. P. Now where did he go?
Yes, we still have no response. Later today I go back to DC to see about arranging for a second picnic. I am reluctant to let this matter drop completely, once having had my chain pulled. It may be that this is all just another distraction, or it is a door that is meant to be difficult to open. In either case I have to be prepared to move on. It is not as if I do not have my work cut out for me here in this metaphysical salt mine. It would be nice to have a coworker or two, but that may not be in the cards. It is a very slow slog through this uncharted territory. It is about the cosmic psyche bootstrapping itself into the BPW. What is the path of least metaphysical resistance?
I remain convinced that there is potentially an issue here of global security. Most any thoughtful person would have to admit that there is a great uncertainty with regard to the universal validity of scientific materialism. There are very few who devote themselves to its global defense, and those few recognize they continue to have a decidedly uphill battle. Still, this would not be a crucial problem if we could be confident that some form of spirit-matter dualism prevailed. Modern secularism is well conditioned to continue to put the best face on that cosmic schism, on that otherwise disturbing piece of cosmic incoherence.
However, and this is a big however, reality may not necessarily respect the cultural preferences or conveniences of modern secularism. If modernity is vulnerable to being blindsided by a non-conforming reality, then we moderns are vulnerable indeed. If modernity is built upon a false premise, and that is the whole issue here, then we could be in for some nasty surprises.
It could well be that 9/11 is just one of those surprises. I'm not accusing our camel-driving Al Qaeda brothers and sisters of metaphysical sophistication, but I'm also not confident that 9/11 was just a cosmic accident. Certainly brother Ron, not to mention sister D., did his darndest to disabuse me of that comforting notion. Modernism is all about the avoidance of cosmic paranoia. The avoidance of paranoia is the prime component of our slumber of materialism. If 9/11 was not our millennial wake-up call, then let's just roll over and hit the ol' snooze button. Or not.
A democratic society will be compatible with a theocratic cosmos, only if the electorate is much better informed about the facts of life. If my hunch is correct, we are playing with very much less than a full deck in this game of life.
The Aquarium has been doing its best to represent our one and only metaphysically coherent alternative, namely the BPW hypothesis. This is the only hypothesis that stands a chance of appealing to humanity's sense of reason. Our powers of reason may not be all that we could desire, but they are the only thing standing between us and totalitarianism. There is a window of opportunity for exercising these powers in the service of something more than materialism. Once this window shuts, we could be in for a very long, very dark spell. Let us not render ourselves spell-bound.
Materialism alone, and faith alone are not going to extricate us from the predicaments of modernity. There is very good evidence that our mental powers transcend the material dimension. If we continue to keep our mental powers chained to the Procrustean bed that is scientific materialism, we will have no chance of coping with what is almost certainly a larger reality.
Perhaps the world is only partly coherent. Even if that were the case, that would not relieve us from the burden of pushing that envelope as far as our human powers allow. To not be true to ourselves cannot be acceptable on any premise. But as we better understand the nature of coherence, we will likely come to realize that being partially coherent is rather like being partially pregnant. It is simply not in the nature of that beast.
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Now where were we, before our fish tank got rattled? Here we go, back to the metaphysical salt mine, on the lookout for the occasional flakes of gold.
The premise was that our pantheonic denizens of Mt. Olympus have an essential need for an Olympic venue. Agoraphilia is obviously a natural state of mind that is unlikely to remain eternally unfulfilled. Our world is quite probably an example of its fulfillment. The Big Bang would certainly be one means of producing an awesome agora, but it is also a rather cumbersome, even awkward form of Creation.
If the idea is just to generate a plaza, a Cafe de la Paix, then the Big bang would be using a sledge hammer to swat a fly. There are just two logical courses to follow, relative to Creation: monist or dualist. No, sorry, I can see nothing logical in dualism. How we in the prophetic tradition ever got suckered into this incoherent mode of thinking is quite beyond me. Only God could have so successfully engineered this red herring. Clearly Descartes did not manage it all by himself.
If you're going to have a Cafe, you've got to have some coffee. Unbeknownst to us, this coffee was decaffeinated. It was just intended to put us to sleep. Asleep that is to our own creation. If the gods go to all the trouble of putting on an Olympiad, they are going to want us to keep focused on the Games. They don't want us to keep being distracted by ulterior questions. There is only room for so many mystics on so many mountains. The rest of us keep our nose to the nearest grindstone.
But if the gods aren't crazy, can't they be lazy? Trying to save all the appearances of a natural, uncreated world ought to keep them all a lot busier than a bunch of one-armed paper hangers. Instead, all they would need to do is listen to Steven Weinberg for the First Three Minutes, then sit back for next 12,000,000,000 years and enjoy the show. It sounds like a good deal to me.
It may sound good on paper, but I'm suggesting that God is much more of a hands-on type of Gal. The only caveat is that we are her hands,...and eyes, ears, etc. More importantly, we are her Imagineers. Yes, God takes more than one page out of Tom Sawyer, but not because she is lazy. It's because we and she are all just chips off the same Matrix.
The struggle continues. Clearly we're not quite ready for prime time, but I maintain that I am ready for the sort of limited engagement that could be greatly facilitated by Ron. I am operating in a vacuum here. Part of that vacuum has been created by my public association with Dr. P. In those pre-Internet days, Ron's phenomenology network represented the only possible outlet for my radical cosmology. And, yes, I was strung along with that possibility dangling in front of me for several years, before reaching the glass ceiling by about 1998. I can understand the historical necessity of 9/11, especially in the context of Y2K and Y2C (and ref. X2). It is a psychological bench mark. And I can understand the hiatus in the Aquarium initiative before and after. The dust has to be allowed to settle. But there is window of opportunity here, which cannot be neglected. There must be a sunset provision for the R & D show, and I surely would not envy the person who had to reinvent it. Redundancy is not built into the BPW hypothesis. I recognize that breaking the glass ceiling of the Aquarium by Ron would likely be irreversible and be fraught with uncertainty, but it is not clear that continued inaction is a reasonable alternative. So be it, and now back to the agora.
What I am struggling with are the psychological origins of space and time. This is the critical piece of any immaterialist cosmogony. Somehow we transform semantic into spatial relations. The Matrix is the singular, indivisible cosmic potentiality. It is the ground of being. To be is to relate. The most related thing we know is the self. The self is the primordial being. The only selves we know are essentially social in nature. There could not exist a singular self. The primordial being is a pantheon. The Matrix has undergone a spontaneous multiple personality breaking of its symmetry. The Matrix has become a Mt. Olympus, or a Zodiacal pantheon. This is the logical and inevitable pretext of any and all relational being. However, any Creational progress beyond this bare beginning is going to require a quasi-conspiratorial, deliberate transformation of Mt. Olympus into an Olympiad, or, more precisely, a spin-off of the former. The Olympiad is a Zodiacal folie a douze (12), if you will. It is a Cafe de la Paix, a la Star Wars.
Without the benefit of the symmetries and translational invariances of space and time, the number of beings that might be accommodated by the Matrix will be severely limited. Upwards of hundreds of fragmentary personalities have been reported in extreme MPD/DID cases, but you can see the logistical problem of attempting to socialize such a menagerie without taking advantage of spatial relations and combinatorics.
If space is a social illusion, the main problem will be its sustenance. The simple solution is the ritualization of the sacred space. This would involve astrology, sacred geometry and choreography, and these elements would optimally occur in a megalithic type of context. All we have to do is fit these pieces into a mythic or cosmogonic narrative. There ought to be considerable flexibility at this point.
The choreography would likely involve sacred processions and team games particularly using a ball court, as is evidenced in the Mayan culture (Pokatok). In some such manner do we manage to routinize the illusional charism of the sacred primordial space. The next biggest conceptual hurdle is from a sacred space to a metabolic space, or from 'mythology' to zoology and ecology. Biological reproduction would be the major sticking point. The phenomenology of seeds would be crucial. How might this be routinized? Might fertility rituals provide any clues?
Or perhaps we reconsider the MPD. In this case it is usually a trauma that produces the cloning of the persona. Then consider the myth of the sacrificial god or king often associated with fertility rituals. There is the associated complex of sadomasochism. The dialectic process of cloning, the mark of distinction, the Zim-zum, etc., may all be relevant.
Numbers are relevant to all of the above. Pi, phi and 'e' seem particularly so, along with e^i*pi. Sequences and functions all have seeds or generators. Pi & phi and syzygys of them are involved in the delimitation of sacred spaces. Fractal geometries inhabit the interface between algebra and geometry, and they usually involve the seemingly androgynous iota. The imaginary iota is a seed, par excellence. Symmetry groups are intimately involved in space, cloning and combinatorics. Most of mathematics and physics is directly related to the structure of symmetry groups. The Anthropic Principle of physics and the organicity of mathematics both manifest the vital force that animates all being.
It may be fair to say that spatial and metabolic inflation are both just the logically inevitable outgrowths of the vital or dialectical principle that is inherent to the Matrix. The Matrix is that potency. The only countervailing force to this promiscuous inflation is the relational restriction inherent in coherence and narrational semantics. The cosmic mind cannot expand beyond the relational limit of self-coherence. Creation will surely push that envelope, but it cannot be broken without abrogating the relational essence of all being. That would be tantamount to the logically impossible cloning of the Matrix itself.
The deliberative process of Creation is the subtle interplay between pure potency and teleological coherence. It is this process that necessarily results in the BPW. Rogue forces can only be self-defeating in the teleological context.
Atoms are the coin of any metabolic realm. They, along with their cipher cousins, are the necessary limit of all combinatorial and recombinatorial processes. Atoms are the spatial analogs of the dimensionless ciphers. Coins, atoms and ciphers are all materialized in the rituals of the green eye-shaded, pocket-protecting technocratic cult. Our passage through this analytico-reductive fire is how our souls are ritually purified for the rapture of the hierogamos. These are the scales of Ma-at, the Egyptian god of measures. This is the singular cosmic regeneration.
The relational robustness of atoms is sufficient for their substance to spill over into the substantiality of our technological enterprise, which is the cosmic pivot of our sojourn into 'matter'. It is the esoteric logic of the quantum that also enables the same substantiality. It is the perpetual interplay of the projective Q and shape-shifting iota which plays out this analytic limit of the vital dialectic.
We seem to be approaching a mnemonic of sorts:
vital potency (M) + relational coherency (Dia-logos) -> AZO/X/QRP = BPW.
This is the BPW cosmology in one sentence. M + D -> AZO/X/QRP = BPW.
All of this has been fleshed out to a degree. Each time around this horn, I stop to reflect on what seem to be the largest remaining logical and narrational gaps, and then proceed to fill them in, connecting the various dots. Our skeleton remains reasonably robust, and reasonably accessible given some personal assistance on my part. At some point I will need to recompile a topical index to afford an unassisted accessibility to the stout of heart. All said and done, the BPW is reasonably prepared for its first round of criticism, IMHO.
From still another perspective, the irresistible force meets the immovable object, yielding, after due diligence, the BPW. Each interested reader should feel encouraged to produce their own paraphrase.
In the meantime: the immediate opacity and seeming intransigence of the world is just one aspect or condition of its teleological transparency and amenability. All is well that ends well.
I have been living with these radical, speculative ideas for more than a quarter century. I am constructing from scratch an alternative worldview. The last known person to make such an attempt was G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831). I do not wish to compare these efforts with his. He was a ponderous scholar with that peculiarly German style of philosophical exposition. In contrast I am just a gadfly. I am the Yankee Doodle taking pot shots at the 'German mercenaries', i.e. professional scholars, from behind the trees.