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Spiritual Philosophy

February 21, 2013

Person meditating in a serene environment

I suppose this best describes the philosophy I have come to accept in life. It did not come suddenly, and I did not start with anything like such a view. But it is what I have settled on, largely on a subconscious level. As a way not just of thinking, but of living. Here are some extracts from a couple of pieces I wrote some time ago that illustrate my spiritual philosophy quite well. I brought together a series of theorems or axioms that are at the foundation of my belief system:

The emergence of mentality in each of our personal biographical histories is as unique an event as is the course of history of humanity overall. And so is not amenable to scientific generalizations and predictions anymore than is the future of human history.

The purpose of this axiom was partly to state my belief that awareness and uniqueness in our mentality are intertwined. Such that habitual acts, and non-thinking acts are done without awareness, and in these cases we are acting out some non-unique historical pattern from human history. It was also partly to highlight the wall that scientific reasoning comes up against when it tries to explain things like consciousness. I studied so many attempts to explain consciousness, but none of them were even barely adequate.

The mind is a personal, unique and autonomous organizing principle regulating our experiences of the world.

Insofar as we are aware and are living in the moment, this is what the mind is. It is both what the mind is and what I think we should aim for the mind to be. Unique, autonomous, and living in the present moment, organising its experiences of the world. It is how we avoid reverting to habitual, or instinctual patterns of acting, where we are just a mindless vessel.

The mind is guided by sufficient reasons, while matter is determined purely by chains of necessary reasons.

The basic model of the mind is a sphere with two logical poles of thought amongst which we orientate ourselves when thinking about something. At one pole we connect things up in constitutive patterns of structural, causal or material dependence. At the other pole we connect things up in regulative or formal patterns of teleological dependence.

Not everything, however, is of the mind. We apply a different approach when dealing with matter. It is not that matter or mind is fundamental. It is just that they are two different ways of relating to the world, which we have available to us. The mind looks for purpose and meaning. Through matter we look merely for action and reaction.

The conclusion of these two modes of relating to the world being:

The two poles are not inconsistent, but merely incommensurable. There is, accordingly, no ultimate one-true rational way to pattern our experiences of the world, such would be a static closed system of thought and so would be the death of mind and mental processes, it would not be an explanation for them.

This then is the foundation of my spiritual philosophy, arrived at through argumentation and through a thorough consideration of many philosophies and approaches to understanding the world.

Our awareness isn’t just a striving to be unique, the very emergence of awareness in the first place defines us as having a unique perspective on the world. It is, I believe, why we remember little or nothing from the first years of our life. For at this stage we have yet to affirm our unique perspective on the world. The impact of this philosophy is of great significance. For it tells us that the generalisations of science are fundamentally misguided and inadequate to account for something such as consciousness. Because generalisations cannot account for unique occurrences. That then is the basis of my spiritual philosophy. Many more positive things flow from this, which I will share in the coming weeks. I will be interested to see what people think and have to say about it.

  1. This is gorgeously rich. Kudos to you for putting in the thought and effort to devise such a clear personal philosophy. Imagine if we all were able to do just that? The world would be a different place. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I agree. This is the conflict with science. A conclusion needs to be repeatable and reproducible before it can be an accepted or established scientific fact thereby putting consciousness an off-limits subject.

    But I’d like to stretch that out a little bit further if you don’t mind.

    I think we have come to a point in time where science is not only unable to support a study of our mind, but also of matter as well. Take the findings of quantum physics for example. The entire scientific method breaks down because the observer somehow influences what is being observed… or at least that’s how it seems at this point in time.

    So, I think the scientific community needs to rethink their methodologies. I grew up in the age of empirical science and I stood in amazement and childish wonder of it all these years. But like most of us, it needs to grow up.

    I think it’s going to be very challenging for science because it has proven successful with the scientific method and to come up with a new methodology basically is almost the same as coming up with an entirely new body of inquiry. Much like science branched out of philosophy, it’s almost as if something else has to branch out of science in order for us to move forward.

    They say philosophy is dead. And I think that’s only partly true. Philosophy still exists, but it has taken on other forms like teleology, logic and metaphysics. In the same way, at least to me, this time, science needs to die.

    • I don’t think a new method will allow us to get closer to the truth of quantum physics. I believe it has hit a limit here. A general limit of human comprehension. Within the limits of its methods, science gives us the best understanding of what quantum physics is. It has made great progress for instance in the discovery of new atoms and such like through particle collisions. A spiritual approach does not look to answer such questions as quantum physics poses, in my opinion. The findings of quantum physics do provide some confirmation of how spirituality is central to our existence, but it only gives us generalities, it does not give us a personal sense of spirituality. For this we need to look in other directions. My idea of the two poles of thought, with phenomena regulated and connected in two different ways, applies in all areas, I believe. We can always choose to look at something in one way or the other. It is not a case of one being right and the other wrong. It is simply a case that human comprehension is limited to only see things in one aspect at any one time. It is like the different functions in the brain between the left and right hemispheres.

      • hmmm… I’m afraid my propensity towards optimism is beyond repair.

        On the one hand, I really think we are just getting started (you must be laughing because quantum physics is at least a hundred years old). I really think we ought to give it a chance to grow before we can make assumptions as to what extent it can bring us 1) knowledge and 2) wisdom.

        On the other hand, I see some truth to what you are saying. Bear with me here for bringing up a traditional view of God, but even if quantum science actually finds a long-haired guy floating in space, I think some people are still not going to believe it. They’re going to say it’s some big cosmic joke played by fun-loving aliens. And then, humanity we’ll launch a massive search for alien civilization.

        But I really do think that a comprehensive view of reality cannot be limited to revelation, scientific method or logic. So, something else needs to happen. Maybe you’re right, it might not because of the very nature of our brains wherein our perceptions are limited. But I guess this falls down to unlocking the abilities of the mind. I think it is plausible to unlock the dormant faculties of our brains (we’re only after all using 20%). Number one, we have evolution. That’s going to take a long time, but it’s still a possibility. Number two, neurochemistry. Who says we can’t chemically induce above normal activities in a typical brain. That’s probably not a good idea, but I wouldn’t know.

        But again, this is the optimistic in me talking. I just feel that we’re really not in a position right now to speak with finality. I’ll shut up before I make everyone else vomit because of all this new age positivity,

        Sorry about that. LOL!

    • Yes, maybe you are correct to want to avoid speaking of finality, as setting up a clear-cut system of thought like I have tried to do in this post, does always limit your thinking in some ways. Maybe a future humanity could better use its brain in more of a holistic manner, rather than being reified between two, or a few, different and incomensurable ways of looking at the world. One of my main reasons though for developing this view is a counter measure to those people who go either to the idealist extreme of reading a purpose and personal meaning in all things in the world or the materialist extreme of denying any purpose even in the most personal and intimate aspects of our life, such as consciousness and emotions, by reducing them to biological instincts and such like. For now, I think, my approach here can be a good way to avoid getting caught up in those two dogmatic extremes.

      • I agree. Anything in excess is certainly in danger of being dogmatic. And I also think that your warning against generalization is a good message and one that is called for by the times… It’s an exciting time in a scientific and spiritual sense. And I think, there are people (people very much like myself) who can easily get a little over-excited.

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