Metaphysics and cosmogony must exist in dynamic tension. Metaphysics constructs a picture of the nature of reality in the most general sense, while cosmogony constructs the process whereby metaphysical pictures are constructed and eroded. Metaphysics is visible, cosmogony is invisible. Metaphysics cannot stand outside of reality, but it isn’t metaphysics at all unless it tries and brings about its own failure as self-overcoming.
The charm of J.N. Findlay’s Gifford lectures lies primarily in his cheerful refusal to bow to the philosophical trends of his day. He identifies the unwarranted prephilosophical decisions made by analytic philosophy and phenomenological existentialism (respectively), gently disarms them, and goes on to develop his bizarre temporalized Neoplatonism. His frequent references to the minuscule size of his audience underscores his lack of concern for the fact that there is simply no place for his work in the cultural fabric of his day (it is easy to imagine that he himself was only able to pursue his line of reasoning because, living in South Africa, he was insulated from certain social pressures that sear core convictions into the Euro-American mind and heart - the main one of course being the rejection of theism).
Findlay’s rationalist mysticism is a perfect example of genuine Ark Work. It is engaged with the ideas and needs of modernity and western history, but it is able to fly under the radar of capitalist self-amplification by refusing to go along with social pressures to be trendy and ‘radical’. Analytic philosophy and continental philosophy are both forms of ideological mystification precisely because of their obedience to an injunction to critique and reject metaphysics (which is counterintuitive, since traditionally we think of metaphysics as amounting to ideological mystification par excellence ) . In both cases their is a white-knuckled shaming of the notion that theoretical and practical reason are rooted in a (currently) incomprehensible divine being. They both reject the one true god, and, leaving nothing in his place, allow capital to take his throne. Without knowing why they are driven to develop more and more sophisticated computational logics or present ethical visions that are more and more nihilist, transgressive and sophistic (analytic and continental, respectively) they unknowingly provide the tactics for a ‘strategy’ which is catapulting human civilization towards annihilation (ie Varizenic/capitalist sheer auto-expansion, rending ontic/normative space as such to pieces)
Findlay’s vision of a gradual but ineluctable dematerialization and unification of human culture, which he believes he can arrive at using nothing more than a mix of dialectical and phenomenological analysis, is quite beautiful, along with his notion of a divine ‘zeal’ that animates the progress of civilization. There is something so gentle in his effort to demonstrate the existence and nature of the invisible, divine world using patient reasoning alone. It is limited, however, by its refusal to acknowledge non-being, the material unconscious, the vama marg and the potential value of all things pertaining to sex, violence and transgression. Findlay would have us sit back and watch while the wheels of history guide us towards a horizon of love and joy - he does not realize that agency, experimentation and risk are required (made obvious by the contempt for Kierkegaard and the ‘monstrosity’ of Christ which he expresses in The Transcendence of the Cave). Findlay’s theism is to be lauded, but it is still too philosophical, too gentrified - it is not Christian enough.
What is the essence of transcendental philosophy? The approach posits, first, that we cannot know how the world really is, or that the question of how the world really is is badly posed. Secondly, it posits that human practice of some kind creates worlds, that the current world we know is one in a series of worlds that have different transcendental horizons and are not really comprehensible to one another. It then speculates on what the ‘mechanism’ is that churns out this cascade of worlds, and where it is ultimately headed.
Human culture is a single entity organized synchronically as the Four Alimonies and diachronically as the Seven Armistices. The human individual is in some sense a microcosm of culture as a whole - the Four Figures repeat the Four Alimonies in a way - but this is mostly insofar as the individual’s highest task is to tap into the higher alimonies and influence the course of history. The microcosm is ultimately there to ~solve~ the problem posed by the macrocosm, to ultimately do away with the macrocosm altogether
So much depends on whether one has the conviction that mind is genuinely different from matter or not
Pythagoras established the question of the nature of form. Ever since Plato set the question of form in writing, we still have not been able to answer it. A form seems to be a species, a category for particular beings, but it also seems to be a cause that generates and sustains them. Forms are immaterial and eternal, yet they are also subject to change in a way that differs from the changes we experience in the material world. Some of them, if not all, seem available for participation - one can access a form, unite with it, push it beyond its own horizon.
Hegel and Schopenhauer offered opposing views on what a form is and how it can be accessed. For Hegel, formal temporality proceeds via the concept (Catharsis) whereas for Schopenhauer it proceeds via aesthetic experience (Fervor). A survey of the philosophical tradition leads ineluctably to the conclusion that the term 'form' is used to refer to more than one thing, or that the reality to which it refers resists being designated as a unity.
Transcendental Qabala employs the term GEND to refer to form and posits that each of the Four Alimonies is constituted by a different 'type' of Gend.
OIOIONIC Gends are known as PORTS. These are effectively eternal, pointing the way to the Good as such. They cannot be altered
ANANONIC Gends are called SHELLS. These require conceptual labor to access and alter, and they reconfigure the collective horizon of meaning
YLYLCYNIC Gends are called GATES. These pertain to collective desire and power, and their temporality pertains to real dynamics and immediate decision. Their logic resembles that of the Shells, but their temporality does not partake in eternity.
SHEYMNIAN Gends are called VALVES. These are corrosive / critical rather than constructive. They free individuals or collectives from the illusions dominating their desire and actions
Matter has no telos, or more precisely our understanding of matter is obfuscated if we think it as teleological. But matter as such cannot be rationally explained without reference to a non-material telos in the name of which it appears. We cannot make sense of the antinomies of matter without situating them within a wider realm of values - collective social ends. These ends seem to be causally posterior to a material world from which they emerged - but our understanding of this material world, which continues to evolve, depends absolutely on these values. In other words, our understanding of values as having emerged from matter is provisional. It could change, and the values themselves would remain.
The world is made of will, mind and a being/nothingness that dynamically draws will and mind towards it as it withdraws.
Because the world is essentially trinitarian, it requires three logics to be understood - and these three logics exist in a dynamic tension as a ‘greater logic’ of Perichoresis. Simone Weil articulated the outline of this greater logic: a downward movement of gravity, an upward movement of grace, a downward movement of grace. These correspond to a materialist logic of complexity, a representational logic of revelation and an aesthethical logic of love
Metaphysics is the practice of pure thought. By means of thought alone we are able to establish that there are four worlds, not one. The Four Alimonies: OIOION, ANANON, YLYLCYN, SHEYMN. It is because of the glimmering of the Genesis Caul - a melted golden protective helm - that we are able to traverse the four worlds. From the seeming necessity and natural obviousness of SHEYMN we arrive at OIOION, a weeping light yearning to unite with the fallen creation whom she herself has blinded. This account is a matter of logical necessity, not wild speculation. If OIOION is not weeping and yearning, then nothing makes sense.
There are three levels to the soul, respectively characterized by Passion, Glory and Majesty. Passion is essentially musical and cybernetic being, Glory is essentially coded response to social interpellation, and Majesty is a higher coordination between Passion and Glory in communion with the energy of HAQQ
The flow of time is a subjective illusion, according to the most popular philosophical interpretation of the equations that describe spacetime. We experience time subjectively and intersubjectively, but in the actual physical universe it it just one of four dimensions of space. This tends to be disappointing to theists and continental philosophers, who suppose that time really does flow. But this philosophical interpretation - even though it is near-universal - is nevertheless merely an interpretation: it is possible to interpret the data in alternate ways.
There are two basic approaches to maintaining that time is not an illusion while still accepting general relativity. One is to interpret its results differently - to posit that the "block time" interpretation doesn't necessarily follow from the equations, and then offer an alternate, durational interpretation. There are Christian philosophers (like William Craig and Robert Russell) who have attempted this.
Another approach - perhaps a more interesting and useful one - is to suppose that spacetime is itself epiphenomenal, and that the equations of general relativity can be derived from something else that is more fundamental (and for which time is a reality). Stephen Wolfram claims to have been able to derive both general and special relativity from graph theory, and is optimistic about the possibility of accounting for quantum mechanics as well. If he's right, then there would be a sort of fundamental code/rule/network that is non-topological and accounts for the physical world as it is known by science - and in this sub-spatial field, time would in fact be meaningful: time would essentially be the order of steps taken by a given universe among all possible choices it could make.
Thus there would be an ordinal time, perhaps the very same "pure and empty form" of time that Deleuze describes in Difference and Repetition, at the heart of nature - not merely human or epiphenomenal but in fact more fundamental than spacetime itself. This would require a radically free and powerful being to choose one sequence rather than another. We could call this being HAQQ
The basic ontological unit is the GEND. A GEND is a burning star, disturbed and disturbing, generating solutions to the problem it names
Can intensive quantity be experienced? Or, to put the question in the opposite mode, can our experience of intensity give us information about intensive quantities that we cannot experience? (In other words, is Schopenhauer’s thesis about epistemology of the will valid)
Following Delanda's reconstruction of Deleuze - intensive quantities are ones that are able to drive fluxes of matter. Speed, temperature, pressure, and density are examples. They are always differential - rates of change between two or more variables. These govern all types of systems - machinic, social, ecological, geometric.
What is affection? Following Spinoza, an affect is an experience that corresponds to an increase or decrease in power (i.e. in "degree", which is an intensive quantity). Thus a body inherently experiences joy when it enters into a relationship that allows it to grow closer to its essence. To some degree this feels intuitive in the human realm, but does it really extend to the non-human biological and inorganic realms?
It is worth noting that there is no consensus on the function of affect in humans. We can follow Dan Siegel, however, in supposing that affection is actually the crucial "driver" of any and all information processing. Affect is what awakens attention, memory recall and problem solving.
If this is the case, though, then all information processing - whether human, artificial or natural - is driven by affect. Some of the philosophers I am most interested in have an extremely dismissive stance towards the notion that "everything feels", but, in fact, if affect drives cognition in human beings (rather than being merely epiphenomenal, which is not very plausible) then it is hard to see how it wouldn't drive other systems.
That doesn't necessarily mean that the affect needs to be consciously experienced in other systems (as shown by the fact that some layers of human affect are not consciously experienced but nevertheless drive cognitive processes).
Bergson believed in a spectrum between quality and quantity, the unit of which is repetition. Quality lives in the space between two repetitions, and quantity amounts to many of them all together. It is a question of zooming in or out.
Lacan postulates something similar: between two signifiers is an enigmatic fusional world of total meaning - at one extreme - and at the other extreme we find many signifiers battering us with the inane repetition of nonsense.
Ordinary meaning lives between these two extremes
Systems thinking suggests than optimal information flow and flexibility is possible between two extremes - chaos on one end, rigidity on the other.
Is there a metaphysical continuum between one and many? Would that be a metaphysical topic?
Lets accept the basic hypothesis of structural realism: our physical universe is a mathematical structure, and it is a special case among many different other mathematical structures. All of them exist, and most of them do not have the type of space-time-causality that ours does. "The Infinite" is inherently mathematizable, and our world emerges from it.
The value of developing a quantification-oriented metaphysics, rather than a Whiteheadian-Deleuzean-Bergsonian one that seeks a secret soul in nature that is continuous with our own, is that it presents a space of possibility for eschatology.
Human culture is a very specific region of of an incredibly vast universe that is logical, physical and determined in other unknown ways. Our psychogenesis is shared by all of us, but is not also shared by God and the world. Affirming Bergson's maxim that metaphysic is the science that dispenses with symbols, we need to be able to truly have an intuition of the radical possibility afforded to us given the vast complexity of the world. The intuition of being is an intuition that we can transform ourselves into whatever we want
Both of these philosophical orientations are possible today - and probably any position, if taken to its limit, has to reduce to one of these two, if it is sincerely metaphysical. Transcendental realism supposes that in principle we cannot, at least not at our current level of rationality, think absolute reality, but that the sciences get closer and closer. And whatever the absolute is, it is utterly prior to human kind and does not care about us. It is not a mind, and it is not inside our minds: it is really out there, it is value-neutral, we cannot know it absolutely but we can acquire relative true knowledge about it.
Absolute idealism posits that in some sense reality is a mind or a will - that physical and biological articulations, just like social and psychological ones, have a mental, emotive, normative character. Many philosophers who think of themselves as materialist are actually absolute idealists in an expanded sense of the term. We are able to directly know and even unite with this mental/volitional substrate, which is why this idealism is absolute rather than transcendental (a transcendental idealism, like Kant's, would ultimately resign itself to skepticism about the nature of the absolute in itself).
The bitter debate that took place between Graham Harman and Peter Wolfendale a few years ago perhaps demonstrates that the antagonism between these two positions is the philosophical deadlock of our era. Again (much like the post on the antagonism internal to accelerationism that I just wrote in the Eschatology section), for Transcendental Qabala, it is a question of stepping out of the deadlock somehow - pushing it to its limit so as to yield a new position.
It would be easy to point to a potential category mistake involved in the antagonism - to say that the two are not really asking the same questions or seeking the same kind of knowledge. But to do that is basically to fall in line with the tradition of ascribing different territories to faith and reason, respectively, so that they don't interfere with each other. But there seems something conservative about that approach - it is not the work of participatory renihilation that I'm so interested in.
These three terms refer to concepts developed respectively by Deleuze, Badiou and Meillassioux to describe the absolute productive principle of nature hidden underneath the world we can see and articulate. It is important to grasp that they are basically talking about what Lao Tzu called Dao (and to resist the obscurantist asceticism that inspires many contemporary philosophers to foreclose the ancient/religious roots of these things). Whatever it is - whether it is capable of contradiction or not, whether it it can be detected via inner intuition or not, whether concepts can capture it or whether they can onl be thought 'according to' it - it is basically a kind of monstrous and yet subtle creating and sustaining force that works underneath the laws of nature. A thinker has to make a decision, it seems, about its relationship to mathematics, empirical science, and art - and then go from there. Or is there a way to know? In any case, it is hard enough to even clearly recognize the nature of the question and establish its validity.
Maybe metaphysic is fundamentally the question of the relationship between the infinite (defined potentially in terms of contemporary mathematics, but not necessarily) and the finite, the unlimited and the limit, the apeiron and the peras, the unseen and the seen.
Beyond metaphysics there is still always the question of cosmogony: the question of the one/real/wound that accounts for the apeiron/peras distinction in the first place.
One problem with developing a transcendental logic, even if it is explicitly understood to be speculative and provisional, is that it puts limits on the possible. As soon as we arrive at a universal law, we have to posit that it has always been and will always be thus
Probably the least controversial or 'speculative' sounding approach to metaphysics is the one that conceives of it basically as investigating the relationship between thought, mathematics and reality. Mathematics is so interesting because its boundaries (the boundary between mathematics and thought and the boundary between mathematics and reality, respectively) are so mysterious.
Consider first the boundary between mathematics and reality. Here we'll take reality to be simply the physical, objective world as physics understands it. On the one hand, we want to say that mathematics is a way of merely describing reality, as opposed to being really intrinsic to it. Human beings, with their power of cognition, come up with mathematical formulas in order to master nature. On the other hand, it seems we are required to think that in some meaningful sense mathematics really structures reality (rather than merely describing it). Our formulas would not work if they were not, in some way, basically isomorphic with the actual world that they are being applied to. Mathematical laws are discovered - they are part of reality itself - not simply made up.
Now on the other end, consider the boundary between mathematics and thought. On the one hand, we are tempted to say that mathematics simply is thought, or the highest form of thought. It is minds that do mathematics. On the other hand, math has quite a lot of synthetic content that seems to be arbitrary in a sense - it is not content that is merely true because of laws of thought, nor is it necessarily related to something physical.
Mathematics, then, is a sort of 'cognition' that can't easily be located inside minds nor outside in the world.
Structural Realism is the position (or constellation of somewhat differing positions, rather) that the physical universe is simply a special case of a mathematical structure. One could imagine subsuming both the world and the mind in a kind of mathematical infinity. This position is attractive and seems more and more likely the more we learn about computation. But can it amount to a complete explanation with no gaps?
It isn't so hard to imagine that human experience is at a certain level an illusion, and that we are wrong to feel that our ineffable and mysterious experiences cannot be quantized. What is much harder, though, is to describe the mathematical totality in a way that doesn't require further cosmogonical explanation. Even if there is an equation that could be unpacked to yield all of time and space, it must either have specificity (be one of multiple options) or not. It if does have specificity, we can wonder why this equation was chosen and not others. If it does not (if it is a sort of primordial A = A or Om), we are justified in wondering why it has produced the world at all.