• schopenhauer1
    2k
    I think I had a thread with a similar theme a long time ago, but I am thinking about it again as I think this is important topic as a background to everything else in human lives including motivations, aesthetics, value, etc.

    The question here is whether we are metaphysically unified in some "meaningful" way (i.e.not trivial connection points like how everything infinitely stretches out in quantum mechanics, for example) or whether we are metaphysically isolated. In other words, is there an overarching unification of all that exists or, is there simply isolated events?

    An example of a unity in metaphysics would be Schopenhauer's concept of WIll. It is noumenal and the "reality" behind the appearances of the individualized subject/object world of space/time/causality (i.e. world of appearances). However, as 21st century scientific materialists, it would be easy to dismiss this idea as naive wild 19th century speculation. The flip side would be that there is no unity. Only events of a contingent kind with not much connection other than perhaps coming out of the same material and being similar in its form through being effected by similar physical/social circumstances.

    The way I put it in the first thread was this:

    A philosophy without a metaphysical ground would say that there is no such thing as any "thing-in-itself". There is no unity, no "thing that lies behind all other things". Everything is its own internal universe and there is no "binding" of sorts on any level. Where something like a Will has necessity (this striving force that manifests into animals and suffering humans), a "nothing" behind existence has no necessity. We are isolated little solipsistic universes that have no necessity. There is no principle of any sort to reality, just collections of interactions that could have been otherwise from what it is doing right now.

    Ironically, the implication of the Schopenhauer's Will conception is that we are unified in being Will (even if that means were are suffering manifestations of Will), while the implication of the isolationist metaphysics is more nihilistic, as we are not unified. There is no connecting principle. we are metaphysically isolated, cut off, windowless monads or processes perhaps.
  • StreetlightX
    2.7k
    What about a more dynamic conception in which things that are 'metaphysically separate' become 'unified', and things that are unified become separate? What about thinking of separation and unity as results or snapshots of a more fluid field: an empiricism in which one would have to attend to things in time, as historical, in order to draw any conclusions about unity or disparateness, in a way that belies any attempt to stake it out from an armchair?
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    What about a more dynamic conception in which things that are 'metaphysically separate' become 'unified', and things that are unified become separate? What about thinking of separation and unity as results or snapshots of a more fluid field: an empiricism in which one would have to attend to things in time, as historical, in order to draw any conclusions about unity or disparateness, in a way that belies any attempt to stake it out from an armchair?StreetlightX

    Can you give an example or explain? I think you are just talking about the scientific model: Big Bang, "laws" of forces and particles happening in space and time. Particles form into molecules and break apart. Contingency plays out but in the framework of force/matter laws which create more properties through time as matter forms into more dense matter, etc. But is that unifying other than conceptual? Is that meaningfully unifying?
  • StreetlightX
    2.7k
    I most definitely do not mean the scientific model. My outlook is informed more by a Deleuzian approach than anything, where things like 'unity' and 'separation' - these terms are very vague and hard to talk about on their own - are results of processes in and of time, and not 'given' as first principles. I'm not even sure one can talk about this in the abstract without abusing grammar outright (metaphysics is largely an abuse of grammar anyway...). But as a start consider an assemblage approach as one that I'm partial to.
  • Jake
    88
    In other words, is there an overarching unification of all that exists or, is there simply isolated events?schopenhauer1

    While not claiming to know the answer to such an infinite scale question, here's one way to look at it.

    It can be argued that division (isolation, separation and things etc,) is an illusion created by the way that thought works.

    To see the divisive nature of thought at work consider the noun, a building block of language, which is in turn a key product of thought. The purpose of a noun is to conceptually divide one part of reality from everything else.

    To see how this division process may be useful, but illusory, conduct this experiment. As you drink a glass of water ask, when does this water become me? Where is the boundary line between the noun "water" and the noun "me"? You'll quickly see that you can reasonably draw that boundary at any number of places, which illustrates that the boundary is a convenient but arbitrary human invention.

    Conceptually, there are hard lines between one "thing" and another "thing". But in the real world, everything is connected to and interacting with everything else, a single unified system.

    What can make this very difficult to see is that all of us are using thought to ask these questions, thus if distortion is being introduced by thought, we'll all be experiencing that illusion, which creates a powerful group consensus in favor of division.

    What makes it even more difficult is that not only are we using thought as a tool, the "me" using this tool is actually made of thought too. Thus, our entire experience of such questions occur entirely in the medium of thought, thus any distortion which may be introduced by thought will be profoundly compelling.

    Consider the phrase "I am thinking XYZ". Our internal experience is that there is a division between the thinker and the thought. But really the entire operation is all thought. The division we experience between thinker and thought is conceptual, not real.

    Imagine that all of us were wearing pink tinted sunglasses. Everything we see all our lives appears to be pink colored. But the pink isn't a property of reality, but rather of the tool we are using to observe reality.

    I suspect it's like that with thought. Everywhere we look we see division, but that division is a property of the observer, not of the observed.

    Thus, I cast my vote for unity. A single unified reality, divided conceptually by thought.
  • 0 thru 9
    585

    :up: :up: :up: Don’t think I’ve ever given a post three thumbs up. Maybe because usually I only have two of them. But I borrowed an extra one for your insightful answer, and I agree with every word. I may later elaborate on your points, and respond to the OP, but it would simply and mostly be an elaboration, addendum, and footnote to your thoughts. Thanks for the effort, and saving me the same. :smile:
  • Jake
    88
    Thank you. If you wish, you may call me His Flatuence Sri Baba Bozo, the founder of Bozoism, the next great world religion. Or, if that's a few too many words, I also answer to Bozo.

    And no, I'm not going to comment on the kinds of intimate personal problems which can arise when somebody borrows a thumb and forgets to give it back.
  • 0 thru 9
    585


    And I’d like to add that this is NOT to say the OP presents a simple problem at all , or even a situation that has easy (or any) answers. The question goes all the way down. The issue of unity, the whole individual/universe or part/whole paradox is hidden at the very heart of many of our triumphs and tragedies. It very well might be THE philosophical question, as far as far as I’m concerned.
  • 0 thru 9
    585
    The question here is whether we are metaphysically unified in some "meaningful" way (i.e.not trivial connection points like how everything infinitely stretches out in quantum mechanics, for example) or whether we are metaphysically isolated. In other words, is there an overarching unification of all that exists or, is there simply isolated events?schopenhauer1

    The “whole” is the invisible half of reality. It is the larger half in fact, like the unseen bottom half of an iceberg. Being unseen, it is all too easily ignored. But invisible most empatheticly does not equal nonexistent. It is the matrix out of which every thing arises. (Matrix having the same root as “maternal”). To see or account for both sides of reality (the whole and the parts) is to have a model of the universe. The universe in microcosm of course, but still an accurate model out of which patterns could be discerned. (Pattern sharing a root with the word “paternal”).

    I think that most would agree on at least some interconnectedness. It would be difficult for example to disagree with the observed phenomenon of the food chain. The unity is all around us, even providing something to resist or to push against for the sake of maturation, like a child eventually separating and becoming distinct from their mother. But this is not a one directional arrow. Individuality is not the finish line despite appearances, I would argue. The concept of yin and yang conveys it more accurately: a round and round or back and forth motion. From the general to the specific. From the specific to the general.

    How meaningful or even noticeable these things are mostly depends on the observer. The waking consciousness usually sees things as separate. Look at a comb. Is it one thing (the comb?) or many (the teeth)? Both? Neither? Neither both nor neither? Can you repeat the question? :blush:

    An example of a unity in metaphysics would be Schopenhauer's concept of WIll. It is noumenal and the "reality" behind the appearances of the individualized subject/object world of space/time/causality (i.e. world of appearances). However, as 21st century scientific materialists, it would be easy to dismiss this idea as naive wild 19th century speculation. The flip side would be that there is no unity. Only events of a contingent kind with not much connection other than perhaps coming out of the same material and being similar in its form through being effected by similar physical/social circumstances.schopenhauer1

    You are doubtless familiar with nondualism. Not one, not two: the essence of reality, according to the concept. Eastern cosmologies (almost to a T) incorporated such concepts into their core. Western scientism (which I believe is the dominant current belief system, or mythology if you will. But that veers off-topic) starts from the 10,000 things, from the multiplicity, and builds toward a “theory of everything”. The East does the opposite. I think both approaches have their strengths, and both are needed. There are difficulties too. How does one “name the unnameable”? The Tao Te Ching tackles that thorny issue right off the bat. The difficulty of the West is like solving a Rubiks cube. If one starts from the beginning point of a cube with all same colored sides, it is easy to achieve “scrambledness”. However, starting from the scrambled point going towards a solved cube is distinctly different and difficult. Maybe the Rubiks cube is an illustration of the archetypal “the uncarved block”.
  • schopenhauer1
    2k
    You are doubtless familiar with nondualism. Not one, not two: the essence of reality, according to the concept. Eastern cosmologies (almost to a T) incorporated such concepts into their core. Western scientism (which I believe is the dominant current belief system, or mythology if you will. But that veers off-topic) starts from the 10,000 things, from the multiplicity, and builds toward a “theory of everything”. The East does the opposite. I think both approaches have their strengths, and both are needed. There are difficulties too. How does one “name the unnameable”? The Tao Te Ching tackles that thorny issue right off the bat. The difficulty of the West is like solving a Rubiks cube. If one starts from the beginning point of a cube with all same colored sides, it is easy to achieve “scrambledness”. However, starting from the scrambled point going towards a solved cube is distinctly different and difficult. Maybe the Rubiks cube is an illustration of the archetypal “the uncarved block”.0 thru 9

    It is comforting to have nice stories.. I've said before, "We are manifestations of the principles of Entropy" .. Schop has said, "We are manifestations of Will".. this is almost certainly not right though, metaphysically. Maybe we are just tangentially meeting via communications (that work enough to survive).. We are but isolated beings never crossing
  • gurugeorge
    436
    The only connective tissue we know is causality. If a thing has an effect on something else, then they're together in the same universe, that's your metaphysical unity.

    It's possible to imagine other kinds of unification factor, but that's the only one we actually know.

    Schopenhauer himself ofc was big on this (his Fourfold Root is actually a brilliant work, I think); but I don't think the idea of the "in itself" of causality being the Will really makes much sense. The whole idea of appearance vs. thing in itself is misconceived, part of the baggage carried over from Descartes' investigations, British Empiricism, etc.
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