This Text Can Be Found in the Book,
The Evolution of Consent: Collected Essays (Vol. II)
My beliefs are often found to be controversial. Not the least controversial of my ideas, are my beliefs that the Universe— The All— is eternal, necessary, perfect, and absolute.
Being eternal, the Universe spans all of time, from the past to the distant future, without ever ceasing to exist there. Being necessary, it also spans the entire spectrum of reality and ideas. The perfection of the Universe, contrary to popular belief, is beyond both bad and good, and, in fact, encompasses them both. Being absolute, the Universe harnesses both subjective preference, and objective facts.
These are important concepts to my philosophy, because they allow for a dynamic that explains both how bad things happen in a Universe composed of meaningful and purposeful events, and how we can promote those things that we consider to be good within such a Universe. Such an ideology can explain why and how the Universe has allowed for atrocities, while allowing, or even commanding, progress.
Parmenides of Elea taught a very important doctrine, which many of the Eleatics, and those who would come after them, would retain. This was the doctrine of eternalism. Parmenides, in his doctrine of eternalism, suggested that the Universe— which he referred to as a monad, a sphere with nothing outside of itself— was always constant and forever unchanging, and that our recognition of change, and of time, is an illusion. The Universe, he suggested, is eternal; it never ceases to exist in any place in time or in space. We may think the past ceases to exist, and that the future is yet to be, but Parmenides refers to such an outlook as the world of doxa, or popular opinion. He does not believe it to be the fact. Recognition of an eternal and unchanging existence he refers to as recognition of the world of aletheia, or the world of fact.
How can one readily understand the position of Parmenides, who suggests that the past and the future currently, though not presently, exist? Take a good look at the words on this page. Now, look away from the page, into the room you are in. Does the page, the contents within, cease to exist, simply because you are unaware of it as you look away? Certainly not! So it is with time. We may not be aware of its entirety, but this is no reason to suggest it isn’t always there, that it isn’t eternal. In fact, it is much more illogical to suggest that the future is our creation (though it is fun to see it, in terms of doxa, unfolding from our choices); travel always entails the prior existence of one’s destination, even if unkown. The future is no exception.
In today’s physics, we are coming to find more and more that Parmenides was correct in his fundamental assertions. Indeed, the correct model of time, according to most theoretical physicists, is the B-model of time, as proposed by Michael McTaggart. The B-model of time treats past, present, and future as always currently existing, though not readily available.
Time is often determined thermodynamically in terms of entropy; as entropy is increased, time is said to move forward. As we move into the future, everything is materially likely to fall apart; nails will rust, statues will corrode, cars will break down. This happens without—and likely in spite of— direction from humanity. We cannot expect the opposite to be true; cars do not repair themselves, statues do not patch their decay, nails do not polish themselves and generate lost material. All of this requires human effort, direction of material things by consciousness.
For this reason, there appears to be two arrows of time. While most of the world is non-living and inanimate, the general tendency, and the most dominant arrow of time, is that of entropy. However, entropy leads to dissipation, chaos, disorder, destruction. This is not the full description of the reality in which we live! There is also accumulation, structure, order, and production. These are the characteristics of reality expressed in the weaving of a sorrow’s nest, the building of the beaver’s dam, the copulation of two lovers. These are the expressions of life, and its struggle for preservation! While life is not the rule, and is in fact quite exceptional, this demonstrates a second arrow of thermodynamic time. This being so, as life evolves toward complexity and order, it is teleologically determined by an already-existent future; the non-living is determined exclusively by the undisputedly-having-existed (but also still existing!) past. The past, present, and future are simply coordinates in spacetime. They are all equally “there.” Living things move toward a future of order and production, and dying things move toward a future of disorder and destruction. The material future is fatalistic, dissipating. The spiritual future is destined with hope. The spiritual future is the material past, and the material future the spiritual past. Both currently exist, as both are eternal. Our subjective experience in doxa— wherein time shifts from the past to the future—, is a matter of accessing what is already there, and leaving behind, but never eliminating, what has already been experienced.
While there are two main directions to time, there are many deviations from the path; the directions are tendencies and are not rigid. Similarly, one may move northward no matter the coordinate moved to from the South Pole. If one moves from the South Pole toward Argentina, one moves northward; from the South Pole to Japan, northward still, and, aside from trips over mountains, to the same general extent. Indeed, if one were to travel through the core of the Earth, this would be a different matter. So it is with time. Living things, struggling to get back to the Source, the singularity before the Big Bang, take many ways to get there. Some, those that deviate most from balance, take longer routes to get there. Those who focus on balance travel the core by force of virtue. The composite of our choices—each choice a (small-u) universe unto itself— is the multiverse; together one, the Universe. The Universe, God, is Eternally One. It appears to change, but such is an illusion.
Many emanationists, such as the Gnostics— inspired by teachings of surrounding neo-Platonists—, found a strong resolution for the problem of evil. As Plotinus had taught that everything comes from a single Source, and further proximity from the Source is distance also from the Good, the True, and the Beautiful; the Gnostics taught that distance from God, the One, was also distance from perfection. In some interpretations of the Gnostic mythos—those I feel most successful—the implication seems to be that perfection is a matter of completeness: To be a portion, a fraction, of the whole, is to lose sight of, and to cease participation in, this completeness. Good and bad, then, becomes a false perception; what is good to one is bad to another, and vice versa. Both are incomplete. Perfection exists beyond, and contains, this duality.
The Gnostics suggested that the existence of evil—which was simply a good misunderstood, or incomplete— is inherent to the material world, a construct of the Demiurge. The world of spirit, as it were, contains the existing good in the world. The problem is that portions of spirit (or Sophia) are trapped by the Demiurge in the fractioned bits of matter— the body—, struggling to be freed. Often, Sophia does not recognize herself in others, due to the fractured parts she is stuck within, which causes conflicting perspectives. This is why matter is associated with relativity, and thus conflicting desires and perspectives on good and bad.
Taking after the neo-Platonists, the Demiurge is not only meant to be understood as evil, but is merely incapable of perfection. In some ways, the Demiurge may be understood to be limited from a perfect rendition of Platonic form—the Good, the True, the Beautiful— in the same way a painter is limited from capturing a perfect image of a brook on his or her canvass; a striking, yet futile, attempt. That which is intrinsic can never be duplicated from outside.
The human spirit (which is good), Sophia, sees itself in the material conditions set into place by the Demiurge, and loses sight of its own value, seeing fractured portions of itself—though a portion of perfect—as bad. Each portion of Sophia finds itself in the same conflict, seeing other portions of itself in competition for resources; a carryover effect of separation and materialism.
Everyone, amidst conflict, sees their own will as good, and that of others as bad. Conflict is a matter of scarcity, a condition of material existence. For this reason, the Gnostics associate matter with the origins of evil. If left purely to spirit, mind over matter, abundance would be the rule, and conflict would cease to be. Everything would be understood to be good. Spirit and matter, as it were—one good, and the other bad, in a sense—, compose the perfect whole. Spirit is the origin of good, and matter is the origin of bad. Because all beings are composed of spirit and matter, and we only experience our own spirit, all beings see themselves as good, and others as bad. That is, they experience their spirit, and others’ bodies; they experience the good (satisfaction of spirit) from within, and the bad (limitation of spirit) from without. They are ignorant of perfection. Its acknowledgement is gnosis, the goal of the Gnostic.
Though I see the value in it, I understand that mythology should in no way take the place of facts. Regardless of what one makes of Sophia and the Demiurge, the Gnostics touch on something rationally important: Perfection is a trait of the whole, and good and bad are matters of fraction. The whole contains both good and bad, but this is perfect in that they compliment and define one another. The more we stray from an understanding of the whole, the more we get caught up in our own subjectivity, which entails conflicts of perspective. The best approximation of perfection can be found by way of compassion. In compassion one sets aside their iron will, and takes one up more malleable, in order that the will of others may be accommodated, along with one’s own.
In modern physics, we have come to understand that the material Universe is currently governed by a tendency toward dissipation, understood to be entropy. This tendency is an increase in separation. Biology, on the other hand, demonstrates that, while not breaking the law of entropy, living organisms are systems of local entropy-reduction. This is demonstrated by living systems’ collection and use of free energy. In this way—though living beings are the exception in the Universe rather than the rule, and therefor do not constitute a general tendency—, living beings express the opposite tendency of entropy, though on a smaller scale. If living beings were to become the rule, rather than the exception, and if the Universe were to awaken, this local reduction in entropy would become a general reduction in entropy; the law of entropy would cease to be a general law of cosmology, and would instead be relegated to a law of inanimate matter alone, in the same way the laws of economics, while still laws, apply to economy, but not to literature. One must only remember that life seemingly sprang from a dead Universe, and continues to spread exponentially, to understand that this is not so implausible or outlandish of a view. While entropy is a tendency toward dissipation, exemplified in the material world of physical processes, syntropy, its opposite, is a tendency toward unification, exemplified in the ideal world of mental constructs.
In our ideal world, everyone gets along and has everything they need; in the real world, this is not the case. Living beings have both a material existence, and give us a glimpse into the world of spirit; while we may know of things more material than spiritual, we do not know much of those that are more spiritual than material. We may be sure about the past in the same way as we are of matter, and we must leave the future open for interpretation in a manner similar with spirit.
The Universe, past, present, and future is eternally perfect. The materiality of the Universe tends toward separation, and increased regard for existence as being bad. The spirituality of the Universe tends toward unification, and increased regard for existence as being good. Both of these are elements of perfection.
In many ways, the resolution to the problem of good and evil, of conflicting goods, is a matter of working for the good of the whole, working toward the balance of interests. The greatest good, if one may take from Aristotle, is a matter of consensus; a good that none other sees as bad. Even still, the greatest good is merely a portion of perfection. The greatest good requires the greatest bad for recognition. Without contrast, good and bad don’t exist at all. The contrast, itself, which allows for experience, is perfect. The greatest good is the temporary recognition of perfection, but perfection always is. The Universe is Eternally Perfect.
Perfection is the synthesis of good and bad, but how are we to perceive it as such? There are a number of ways.
Everything is perfect within itself. No one else can fit the perfect description of you. You are unique, and uniqueness is perfection. As an individual, in every moment in time within that moment, you are perfectly you. It is in comparison to others, when one is regarded not as an individual unto themselves, but a member of a species, that this perfection is lost sight of. You are perfectly you, but you are not perfectly human. No one is. When the fractured portions are set into contrast amongst one another, their deficiencies and imbalances are made apparent.
Unlike fractured portions of the whole, the monad contains everything within itself. Nothing exists outside of its bounds. It is, in fact, the thing in itself. There is nothing outside of it to challenge its perfection, nothing with which to contrast it. It is a fraction of nothing, and the totality of everything. All notions of good and bad exist within its perfection. The Universe is perfect. “I just don’t like it,” one might retort. “How can something I don’t like be perfect?” Like pain, it is necessary.
Is pain good or bad? On the surface, if we answer purely emotionally and subjectively, pain is bad! Everyone knows pain is to be avoided. Objectively, however, we can see that pain performs an important service to the body. We do not feel pain until our barriers have been broken. This can be by way of forceful tearing or puncturing, by burn, or another invasion of one’s physical perimeter. If we are feeling pain, we know to get away from the source of the pain, the thing that is causing us physical harm. A burn tells us that we are too close to a fire or a hot surface. As we feel the sharp edge of a metal surface we are cleaning slice into our palm, we know to discontinue the pursuit, so as not to encourage unnecessary entropy. Pain is subjectively bad and objectively good; a relationship of higher perfection. Can you think of an act that is subjectively good and objectively bad? If you were to pursue such an act, would you last long? This is why it is rare to find such things.
Reality and ideality— often counterparts of bad and good— do not always match. Oftentimes those things we feel are ideal are never realized; reality hardly ever seems to fit the model of ideality. However, there are those rare times that reality seems to shift to approximate ideality, as if part of a continuum. Indeed, the continuum of real and ideal is the necessary.
There are many beautiful and highly ideal situations that can come to mind. We can envision all of our friends having everything they want, a world without war, a society without poverty. These wonderfully pleasant ideas, though grand and sweet, are not always the reality. In fact, reality seems to step in the way of this every chance it gets: Entropy is not one to produce our friends’ wants, to bring warring nations to peace, or to produce wealth for the needy. These things take effort, but effort is less than ideal.
In contrast, few things in reality are ideal. Our friends have unending needs, the world is at war, and society is poverty-stricken. These terrible situations are not always the outcomes of the agency of those who suffer their costs. One may make reasonable choices, only to face a bout of bad luck. Bad luck, as it were, has proper designation: Murphy’s Law. It is a well-known corollary of entropy. Reality of this sort, governed by loss, is seldom wanted.
The synthesis of the real and the ideal is the necessary. The necessary includes all that exists. All that exists in the present is the ideal of the past and the reality of the future. That is, the present reality is composed of the choices directed by preferences from those long past and still living; the future reality will be composed likewise. The present contains the outcomes of prior ideals, and the seed from which will spring future reality.
As pain is perfect for the individual, and as it is composed of subjective bads and objective goods, struggle is necessary, and exists between reality and ideality. Failure— due to unrealistic ideals or exhaustive practice of a less than ideal reality— plays the same role in the struggle between the real and ideal as between good and bad. Less than ideal realities do not persist, and less than realistic ideals do not come into fruition. Goods that see each other as bads do not better approximate perfection. All that exists was seen by the past as ideal, and all that will exist will be seen in the future as a constraint of reality. Together, this relationship composes necessity.
We may hold wonderfully grand visions, golden ideals, but they mean nothing if they do not come into fruition. Bringing them into fruition is an act requiring effort, action in the world of reality, which, again, is less than ideal. In contrast, we may master the world of reality and positive application, but as a new idea, a normative model, comes into play, and finds success, reality will change around us, forcing us to adapt or to perish. Ideals take effort to set into action, and notions of reality become obsolete if they do not adapt to new ideas.
Those ideas that are not materially successful, or are not materially set into action by way of effort; and that reality which is not fit for ideality, or is not dreamt of; are not found to be necessary. Everything that existed in the past, but does not exist in the present, was necessary in the past and not in the present; all that will exist in the future, but does not exist in the present, will be necessary in the future, but is not for the present. Thus it was with horticulture, which many see as progress from hunting and gathering, but which was set underway only after climatic changes that left humanity with no other option than to labor for their food. Before this, we took freely from nature as we needed it, with no need to concern ourselves of future conditions. The change marked the transition from immediate-return to delayed-return societies. This was a necessary transition— a relation between our ideal outcomes and the conditions of reality—, and one which has given us our current conditions. Those ideas that can be had, but which do not come into fruition, likely have a material coordinate somewhere, though they are not readily accessed from our position. They are necessary in the Universe, and for some universe in its multiversal modality, but not for our own experience (universe).
In terms of modern physics, necessity is probably best understood through the interaction of quantum and classical physics. Because a complete Theory of Everything is yet to be established, at least in the rigidly mathematical sense, this means that necessity is difficult to understand! What we know, however, is that classical and relativity physics as well as quantum physics play a role in the governing of our Universe. A complete Theory of Everything will reconcile these two approaches in some way, likely through some understanding of quantum gravity. In the meantime, it may be reasonably conjectured that reality, the world of matter and physical processes, as we understand them on the macro scale, can be described quite well using classical and relativity physics; however, matters of life and psychology, and micro-processes are best described through quantum methods. In the quantum world, strange things happen; things that are hard to wrap one’s head around, such as retro-causality, states of superposition, quantum entanglement. Classical physics, and especially relativity physics, can also be accompanied by strange effects, but, for the most part, classical physics seem a lot more common-sense oriented. For this reason, ideality— the world of ideas and mind over matter— can be attributed to quantum processes, and reality—the world of objects and matter— to more classical physics. Necessity is the outcome of these processes.
The necessitarian outlook, long before quantum dynamics, was perhaps best championed by the Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza’s pantheism was a strict understanding of necessity, partially influenced by the Gnostics and the Eleatics (such as Parmenides). Spinoza saw no room for truly free will on behalf of the individual, believing all to be determined by God. God, Substance, or Nature, alone, is free, as God is the thing in itself, unhindered by none. Spinoza understood God, Substance, to express itself to us through two attributes (of which we are aware, among infinity), which are further expressed in a series of tiered modes. The two attributes are extension and thought, or body and mind, and their associated modalities are width and height, happiness and sorrow, etc. Each attribute is ascribed a place in existence, as an expression of Substance. Spinoza suggested that whatever God wills, is, and that all that is, like Substance from which it is expressed, is necessarily so. There is no other way for it to be.
The Great Chain of Progress is nothing more than the Great Chain of Necessity, the struggle between, and reconciliation of, reality and ideal existence.
The necessitarian outlook has much to offer. In reconciling the needs of practicality and good intentions, necessity explains the challenges faced both by realists and idealists. It encourages the realist to take up change, and the idealist to slow down and settle a bit for reality, and to enjoy the present, at least a little bit! It encourages the realist to concern themselves with ethics, and the idealist to take practicality into thought. Grand ideas, if impractical, never come to be; they are unnecessary (for our universe). Old practices, if no longer ideal, cease to exist, and will not extend into the future. While eternally necessary for their moment in time, this moment of necessity has ceased to be. Only God is beyond this, as God extends the full span of eternity, and has no restriction to a momentary existence, but is all moments in one.
The absolute, as Hegel suggested, contains within itself both the objective and the subjective. That is, the absolute contains all qualitative and quantitative data, all constructs of truth. In epistemology, debate centers around matters of empirical fact and rational insight; the absolute resolves each into itself.
Scientists, or empiricists— and those of their ideology, scientism, or empiricism—, are of the belief that truth can only be derived through the empirical method of analyzing the objective world of matter. They only accept quantitative data as facts available for consideration, lacking all, or at least most, concern for a priori prediction.
Alternatively, spiritualists, or rationalists— and those of their ideology, spiritualism, or rationalism—, are of the belief that truth can only be derived through the rational, subjective, world of mind. They accept qualitative data as facts available for consideration, feeling unrestricted to purely a posteriori outcomes.
Objective, empirical, understanding applies well in regard to the material world. However, spirit is a matter of subjectivity, rationality. We can determine quite well with the laws of physics where a material object will fly when we hit it. However, we cannot tell quite so quickly the flight path of the bird who has been disturbed into action. The path of the object is a mere matter of calculation, while the path of the bird is a matter of rationally-constructed goals on its behalf. When a mind enters the picture, complications follow, but the laws of physics describe quite well the conditions of, and truths associated with, inanimacy.
If left to empirical data alone, we retain many possibilities. Building upon itself, empirical data can provide all of the necessities intrinsic to mechanization and engineering. Upon studying the “accidents” of nature, it may even duplicate “new” forms. Empirical data, however, is incapable of telling us about the exact subjective experiences of those around us. It can hint to actions which will be taken in response to stimuli, usually due to bodily limitations, but it cannot determine them exactly. Empiricism can suggest likely outcomes of a situation in which a number of emotive states may be experienced, but not of the emotive states themselves; not to any extent noteworthy in terms of hard science.
If left to rational constructs alone, we still retain many possibilities. Building upon itself, rational data can provide all of the necessities intrinsic to social binding and cultural expression. Rational constructs, however, are incapable of telling us about the objective conditions of the environment around us. It can hint toward hypotheses, but left untested, hypotheses regarding the future-outside-of-our-control find great limitation. Rationalism can make general predictions, and can make useful assumptions, but it is incapable of specifics and actual outcomes.
Regardless of how one feels about it, both objective reality and subjective ideality must be factored into existence, and truth derived from each. One cannot ignore the rational and ideal for the sake of the empirical and the real, or vice versa. In so doing, one submits themselves to a grave mistake. Existence is a matter of each. Existence is absolute.
The absolute is only understood through metaphorically stepping outside of oneself. That is, the absolute is only comprehended by detaching oneself from their own ideals, and physical conditions, and taking a more “objective” (in the sense of unbiased, not regarding objects) look at their role in living. Is one’s condition less than ideal? Are one’s ideals unrealistic? How do the failures and successes of one ‘s ideology play into their prosperity? Those subjective ideals that cannot be reconciled with objective reality, and that objective reality which cannot be reconciled with subjective ideals, are not absolute. The Absolute describes that combination of rational and empirical occurrences that feed into the same event. We may try to explain a classroom setting in terms of empiricism, or we may rationalize an occurrence before it happens, but organic systems are matters of both past existence and future possibility.
Empiricism is used in the hard sciences, especially physics. In purely physical processes— when placed in a controlled setting without unkown determinants entering the picture, and when the matter regards an object rather than a subject—, one can predict, beyond reasonable doubt, what will occur before it happens. Of course, this is not a true prediction, except for possibly in the case of the first experiment, in which a hypothesis may have been predicted before having occurred. A hypothesis, alone, does not constitute empirical fact, but is instead a rational construct. Predictions, then, are rational and not empirical. The “predictions” one makes when using empirical data— regarding the speed and direction a ball will fly when it is struck, for instance— have already been demonstrated in the past, have already been predicted by rational constructs. Nevertheless, when it comes to non-living objects, they have few choices to make! The same prediction can be used over and over, again and again, with little error. This is the empirical, or scientific, method. It suggests one constructs a rational hypothesis, and rigidly tests it over and over again, perpetually. While change does not occur, after enough tests, it is considered a theory or a fact. The soft sciences make use of quite a bit of rationalism. The soft sciences include those dealing with living organisms and those which regard matters immeasurable, qualitative, or seemingly indetermined. Mathematics, while not a science, are also considered to be a form of rationalism.
Clearly, there exist forces relating to the world of the subject, matters relating to choice. Living beings express—by way of the hydrogen bridge, which bridges quantum and classical scales— degrees of seeming indeterminism, more properly accorded to the retrocausality of the quantum scale. We refer to these properties as freedom of will. Still, the world is highly classically determined, not by ideas, but by force. Existence is composed of both living and dead, spiritual and material, forces. The truths behind these forces can be derived empirically or rationally, depending on the nature of the truth in question. To ignore the importance of the objective, or that of the subjective, is to ignore the fundamental workings of reality. The absolute—the ground of all being— contains the interactions of these forces. Any ideology which fails to understand this—that scientism which ignores the truth of the subjective, and that spiritualism which ignores the truth of the objective— will fail to grasp the ground of all being.
The Universe— God, Nature, the One, the Source, the Monad, the All, the Alpha and Omega, the Thing in Itself, and its many renderings— is eternally perfect, necessary, and absolute. It is eternal, ceasing to exist in no place or time. Our own past, present, and future is contained within its eternal presence. It is perfect, having nothing outside of its bounds. Entirely whole, lacking nothing, there is not a thing which compares. It is necessary; being the sole cause for all events, it spans and includes all that can be had, real and ideal. The Universe is absolute, and contains all perspectives within itself. Within is catalogued all reason, rational and empirical.
 Two people, neither of whom know the other, enter a busy coffee house, book in hand, ready to take a seat and read for a few hours. There is one seat open. The first-one-in sees the seat, but assuming the first in line will also be the first to sit, she moves forward to the line. The second person, knowing if they stand in line they will lose the seat, anxiously skips the line to set their book in its location, preserving it for post-acquisition of their drink. They then stand behind the first. The first person is understandably annoyed; they wanted the seat, but didn’t think of the necessity of saving it, having a preconceived notion of fairness. The second is happy to have thought ahead; they get exactly what they came for. Fairness may come into dispute, but even if the second customer stood in line, one of the customers (themselves) would have lost out on a place to sit, and felt the situation to be a bad one. What we have come to is a matter of dispute, and the origins of this dispute have to do with the playing out of preferences. Even if the employees of the coffee house step in, and say that the second customer was acting unfairly, this is not so much a matter of fact, but a preference for behavior on behalf of the employees (and one which may previously not have existed at all). This preference, which the first customer and the employees would agree is good, would be understood to be bad to the second customer. After all, there was no sign posted regulating the order in which one orders drinks and claims a seat. As far as they are concerned, such a dictate is unfair, and lacks in even-handedness. Surely, they think, they cannot be the first to have chosen a seat before ordering a drink (they may have, in fact, found themselves in the position of the first customer in a prior scenario, having lost out on a seat in the past in the same way, feeling such an act then to be “fair game”). The dispute, claims of good and bad, stems from the reality of the situation, not the ideality of it. That is, the customers would probably agree that the ideal situation is for everyone to have a seat and to feel satisfied; the conditions of reality are such that these ideals are unfeasible, and so material existence leads to conflict. In this way, good and bad are both relative and absolute. Unity is absolutely good, and separation is absolutely bad; but within the separation are notions of good and bad. The existence of good and bad is absolutely perfect. Such is the fractal Universe in which we exist.