Does the World Exist?
Preview of book by Tom Arnold
A subscriber requested me to provide a write-up on this topic: "The Philosophical Theory of the Existence of the World." Of course, this is the all-time favorite topic of philosophy and after at first feeling somewhat stumped - after all, many great books have failed to properly cover this enormous question - it then occurred to me that this is an opportunity to introduce the subject of Hypnoetics. This is a fascinating view of existence that combines both a rational, scientific basis and also allows for spiritual existence and effects of conscious thought at the material level. It ties in well with my own philosophy and the principles described in 'Transforming the Mind.' The physical world is indeed knowable and objective, the playing field of our life games, the subject of rationality; at the same time, viewed from another perspective, it is our creation, the subject of higher intuition - what Hypnoetics calls Transrational Thinking. The following is a synopsis of some of the ideas expressed by Tom Arnold in the extensive works he has made freely available online...
What all views and beliefs have in common is that they are held and constructed by the mind. Our mind is the launching pad for our understanding of the world and each other. In my view we are not yet in a position to understand the full capacity of our mind, although most of the greatest thinkers and philosophers have always anticipated higher forms of thinking that transcend the ordinary usage of mind.
Hyponoetics intends to establish a generic framework that allows to integrate knowledge from all fields of study, such as quantum physics, mysticism, Eastern and Western religion, psychology and of course philosophy. Hyponoetics is a metaphysical philosophy insofar as it attempts to deal with the most important intellectual questions and problems by drawing on the metaphysical principles of the greatest philosophers. However, modern thinkers keep a skeptical stance towards the metaphysical systems of previous centuries and in general. Therefore I want to introduce a critical metaphysics that does not accept metaphysical assumptions and claims at face value but questions them critically and in the light of modern science and recent consciousness studies. Instead of analyzing Mind's artificial parts, Hyponoetics attempts to understand the ultimate nature and essence of the mind from within the mind itself; its ontological status within the ultimate reality.
Thinking, as we experience it, is necessarily joined with our consciousness and our mind. It is part of our being human, actually the differentiating part, which separates us from animals. If we resort to pure thinking, apriori thinking, thinking independent of outer influences and even independent of inner sensational influences, we will be able to reflect upon thinking as such and postulate a metaphysics of thinking without being exaggeratedly speculative or deviating from a course of sound rationality.
The question arises why metaphysics is necessary at all. Why can't we just dispense with speculative philosophy and stick with the accomplishments and methodology of modern science? Experience and empirical knowledge is not sufficient in explaining our world. Philosophers and scientists alike have come to understand that we do not have direct experience of the reality per se, and that we interpret the world in terms of our mental models. This is pure metaphysics, in the meaning of postulating ultimate principles that govern our reality. This raises the question of what reality is and why the world we experience is not independent of our minds.
Reality is the whole of the human affairs insofar as these are related to our world around us. Reality is never the bare physical world devoid of the human being. Reality is the totality of human experience and thought in relation to an objective world.
Is this objective world, which we encounter in our experience and thought, something that exists on its own, or is it dependent upon our mind? Most scientists concede that the subjective mode of our consciousness affects the perceptions of the objective world. These scientists assume a real and objective world - one that would even exist without a human being alive or observing it. Thus, we have two basic problems of reality: a) does reality exist independent of a mind? And b) in either case, does the structure of reality match the structure of the perceived reality in our mind?
The Concept of Exocosmos
Exocosmos is the reality-for-us; there is no reality-per-se, only for us as individual minds (Exonoesis). Our individual minds constitute the world or reality around us. This reality does not exist by itself or out of itself but only for us because it was established as reality for us through our thinking and acting. Through the act of thinking we constitute reality, however not in an arbitrary or subjective fashion but based on the objectivity of thought, which constitutes the noetic structure of the Individual Mind (Exonoesis).
There are two aspects of Exocosmos that ought to be distinguished. First, there is a core, common or shared reality that is part of the inherent structure of each Individual Mind (objective Exocosmos). This allows for a world that can be shared through experience and perception.
Second, the core reality is extended or modified by various sections (sometimes overlapping with each other) that represent the constitutive ideas of individuals or more often of a collective of individuals (subjective Exocosmos). These ideas manifest themselves as extensions of the core reality. In other words, these extensions are only real for those whose thinking participates constitutively in the creation or sustenance of one or more particular sections. If, for example, a collective of individuals believes in the existence of God, God is constituted as a reality with all those qualities attributed to Him by those individuals. That means that God is an absolute reality for those who participate in that extended 'God' section, but not for those who don't. God would then exist only as part of an extended reality-for-us, he would not exist independent of that Exocosmos or of the community of believers. Therefore the question of God is the question of man's Mind.
The question is not whether God exists or not, but whether what we mean by God is a reality for us, and whether this reality is as real as everything else we denote with that term, such as the everyday world. Thinking constitutes the reality for us (Exocosmos), but only through acting do we confirm the world as reality as established a priori by thought. This acting upon the thought-world realizes this world as a seemingly independent reality, external to us.
People from different cultures have different views on reality, or different forms of reality. The theory of amorphism, on the other hand, states that ultimate reality has no forms whatsoever. It is pure potentiality, Hyponoesis. This also means that we cannot experience or conceive this reality because it has no manifested or intelligible forms. It is formless and not yet actualized. This view of reality as amorphous is similar to the Buddhistic concept of "sunyata" or emptiness or void. However, this emptiness does not mean nothingness and does not imply nihilism of any kind. Things and beings don't have a substantial and permanent nature. All things are just appearances, and that includes our consciousness and mind. Therefore, everything is "empty," without fixed substantial form. This emptiness permeates all phenomena and is the ground of their being, arising and development. Sunyata or emptiness is the absolute reality, without duality and individual empirical forms. In more Western terms, Sunyata may be called "undifferentiated continuum," although this should not be interpreted as being an objectively existing reality. The "continuum" is undifferentiated because there is no duality of subject and object in it.
The idea of an undifferentiated reality of infinite possibilities is akin to my concept of Hyponoesis as pure potentiality. Hyponoesis is formless, undifferentiated, "empty". But it is not nothing. It can be considered a "vacuum" that differentiates itself into infinite individual forms or phenomena, in what I call the process of actualization. Since the plurality of phenomena are not independent substances with intrinsic existence, but are just appearances, or what I call, aspects or Noemes, individuated out of Hyponoesis, the ultimate reality is both self-identity and plurality, or as Buddhist philosophy phrases it: "Emptiness is form, and form is emptiness." It is interesting that the philosophical concept of pure potentiality (Hyponoesis), the Buddhist concept of Sunyata, and the quantum- physical concept of "quantum vacuum" all refer to the ultimate reality. This congruence of ideas from different cultures and fields of knowledge is, in my view, a sign that all human knowledge and experience can be placed within a common framework of integration. Also, since science starts to expand its frontiers, it will eventually come to agree with the deepest philosophical ideas, such as Hyponoesis and Sunyata.
Psychology and science tells us that what we perceive and experience is not the world as it is but a world modified and interpreted by the brain and the mind. Hyponoetics considers the mind's interaction with the world not as a one-way street. The mind is actively shaping and determining the structure of the world at each moment. It is not reality that is determined but our model of it. Our mind is infinite in so far as the objects of thought are abstract concepts - not particular or concrete things. The ability to abstract from particulars constitutes the intrinsic relationship and connection between the Individual Mind and the Universal Mind. Abstraction is the formal structure of our Individual Mind. Abstraction transcends the concrete realm of empirical experience.
We constantly evaluate and reevaluate our perceptions and our views of reality. Although there is a core reality that remains constant to a certain degree and appears as an independent and objective structure to us, the relationship and interaction we have and continuously develop with the world or reality are determined by our individual cognitive and psychological patterns. This is mostly a subconscious process, a process that is part of the structure of our mind and is therefore objective. I usually don't use the term 'illusion' to denote the impermanence or mutability of reality because it implies that reality as we perceive it does not exist. My point, however, is that reality is actualized through our minds and therefore is real and not illusional. Even the mediating process of interpretation does not make reality illusory or unreal. Reality is what we make or think of it, the projection of our mind's mental patterns and processes, including those of interpretative layers. We exteriorize our patterns and this process of differentiating the subject from the object actualizes reality as we know and experience it.
The question now is: how do we - as conscious minds - shape the reality we perceive? We can establish that it is not the thinking process of an individual mind that creates and sustains the forms of reality, but the structure and organization of the individual mind in concert and unison with a community of individual minds, or what I call Synnoesis. A plurality of individual minds forms a Synnoesis or synergetic collective mind that shapes reality for those individuals.
It's a natural and logical conclusion from my philosophy that every human being is capable of tapping into the totality of reality, or what I call Hyponoesis. We are not separated from Reality. We are connected and interrelated with everything else in the universe. In the light of these assumptions, doesn't it make sense to claim that our mind and in particular thinking is potentially capable of accessing any information in the universe?
I call this non-conceptual thinking that allows access to any information in the universe Transrational Thinking. This higher form of thinking exists latently in us because it shines through from time to time in the greatest thinkers of mankind. There is also some more down-to-earth evidence of its existence in the latest results of psychic research that demonstrates the existence of a faculty in our mind that is capable of accessing information that is not locally stored (in memory) or acquired by any traditional means (learning, experience, etc.). This faculty is commonly referred to as telepathy, remote viewing, clairvoyance, etc.
The concept of Transrational Thinking, as I developed it, ought not to be confused with intuition as generally understood (hunch, premonition, "gut" feeling, etc.). This is what could be called "emotional" intuition. The one I'm interested in is known in philosophy as "intellectual intuition" (see Spinoza, Schelling, Hegel, and others). It is a way of thinking (not feeling), on a higher level and usually leads to insights, understanding, and a more comprehensive, holistic knowledge. I'm actually taking the concept of intellectual intuition a step further by claiming that Paranoesis is able to access any information in the universe without the need to acquire knowledge through traditional means, such as learning or reading. However, Transrational Thinking is not a tool of our mind that we naturally possess in fully-fledged form. It is latent and needs to be developed.
There are basically two ways to get to an understanding of the ultimate nature of reality: a) through meditative techniques or mystical experience (this is the way of experience) or b) through Transrational Thinking (this is the way of thought). Psychics and mystics tap reality only when in a certain state of consciousness, such as trance or meditation, and even then they cannot control what kind of information they access. Their rational thinking power cannot control the access to reality. It happens to them, it's a passive experience. They open up to reality.
Transrational Thinking is a combination of the rational-analytical power of thinking most of us have and the intuitive-creative side of our mind that is not analytical but rather synthetical in character. The arbitrariness of intuition is eliminated in Transrational Thinking by extending the scope of rational thinking beyond its conceptual limitations.
The first step is to transcend rational thinking and start thinking from a higher level. The next higher level is a more holistic way of thinking. Instead of seeing things as isolated entities that interact with each other, and instead of seeing only the parts, holistic thinking attempts to envision things as interrelated and interconnected, as being part of a whole, i.e. not as separated from each other but as aspects of one and the same underlying reality. The first step to Transrational Thinking is the realization that there is ultimately one unitary reality and that we all are this reality (not just parts of it). Each existing entity expresses or manifests this reality in its own distinctive way, giving us the idea of a plurality of distinct phenomena. Based on this idea, we can understand now that information or knowledge is not something that we have to acquire in some way (by reading, learning, etc.), but is an intrinsic part of our mind, because our mind is just the actualization of Hyponoesis (or an aspect of reality if you will) that contains all information and all knowledge. It has always been there, at our fingertips, we just didn't know or didn't have the capacity to tap into it - at least not voluntarily.