Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Positive Reality and Duality Part I: Beyond Heraclitus

“If the mighty fravaṧis of the just had not given me aid . . . to the Druj would have been the power, to the Druj the rule, to the Druj corporeal life; of the two spirits the Druj would have sat down between earth and heaven” 

The science which takes as its subject a field of issues concerning "existence as such", Metaphysics, as many aspects and topics within it.  It has been in existence itself for quite a long time, as long as anyone ever wondered and tried to understand why one thing seemed, and perhaps even did, lead to another (causation, one of the topics of Metaphysics).

In this science, which is also performed by the philosopher himself or herself as an art (as are all sciences by those who specialize in doing them rather than just teaching or learning about them), there are methods and techniques which aid the Metaphysicist (or Metaphysician, depending on the sub-specialty), examples from which have been seen here and there throughout the world down through the ages.

One that is often heard in modern circles is a "deep question", really a "meta-question", which "probes backwards" from the issue of consideration, asking a rather pointed question in the form such as follows:

  "In the consideration of the notion 'x', how would the world be any different right now if 'x' didn't exist"

Of course, this is trying to suggest to us that if 'x' were in fact real, then the world would have been affected by this fact so that, if 'x' suddenly were not real, then something in the world would be 'un'affected by 'x', and so would be different right now.  This is an important question to ask because it implies that assumption, namely that there is a way to detect the effects of 'x' being real.  It puts the person on the spot who presents the notion of something 'x' but cannot assure us of any reason to believe it is real.  As will later become important for our particular consideration, this presupposes that 'x' is a cause whose effects bear markers in their appearance which are distinctly peculiar to any truth of the assertin that 'x' was their cause, i.e., the usefulness of this question is restricted to cases where phenomena are the effects of causes only if those effects bear evidence peculiar to that causal origin.  Those phenomena being present or not should not, per se, be judged sufficent evidence of the existence of the hypothetical cause 'x' unless it can be shown that their presence would not be possible otherwise, and also that their abcense is not due simply to the muting of the effects of 'x' (since perhaps 'x' exists as an interrupted cause!).  This will be elaborated later below.  But let's first take a broad look at this sort of question and how it might be practically applied in some forms of scientific thinking.

For instance, if people didn't commit crimes, prisons would not exist, since the purpose of prisons is to incarcerate convicted criminals.  So we can be assured that, whenever we see a prison, that criminals must have also existed.  This might be useful in archaeology since we might not be able to find evidence of criminals directly, but perhaps we can have an idea that they existed by finding evidence of the existence of prisons in the structures still in the physical record.  We might even be able to discover a lot of things about the prisoners, and hence the criminals of those days, and therefore what the nature of law and crime were, some aspects of that people's culture, including how they treated their criminals.

All those ideas can be explored because in supposing that 'x', in this case "criminals" existed, we should be able to find 'y', which is some logical result of 'x', whether an effect of it (in this case) or a cause of it.  In this case we would suppose the existence of 'x' from the evidence of 'y', since we think that where there are prisons, surely there were already criminals to put in them, because prisons are the effect of a cause, criminals who societies desire to imprison! In related fashion, if we wanted to be sure that such a society had no laws, we would expect to find no criminals, and so we would expect to find no prisons (for some criminals may become prisoners).  

So if someone wanted to be assured that such a society had no laws, he should certainly be able to answer a question put to him which ran like this "how would that society be different than ours if it had no laws of any kind, formal or informal".  The answer would be that "It would have no prisons for the incarceration of criminals, since there are no laws to break, no criminals, hence no sentences of imprisonment for such, and so no such places for the fulfillment of those sentences".  

Of course this is not a perfect course of argument for either side, since in fact "prison-like" structures may exist with no relations to any notions of propriety and recourses to its infringement, such as places to hold dangerous animals who were never a member of society, broke no laws.  Laws may have existed, and perhaps people never broke them, or perhaps they had no punitive imprisonment.  Yet, this prison-like structure exists.  We'd have to differentiate punitive prisons from prisons which withhold natural forces, such as cages for animals, and dams for water.

Moreover, it may be the case that prisons did exist, but took forms much different than we'd expect, or else were destroyed before we could find them later, so perhaps laws existed though evidence for them does not.

So it is not a perfect "magic bullet" sort of approach to interrogating ideas, whether those in our own minds or those presented by others, but it at least enlarges the means by which we can explore them productively.  Neither of the above two situations prevents us from taking a useful approach by asking "Did this ancient society have laws?  If not, then surely punitive prisons did not exist.  Is there evidence that any did exist?"  Then, if no "Can it be shown that it is for other reasons than the non-existence of laws?"  For example, is it because they had no concept of crime, but did have laws which everyone obeyed, and because disobedience didn't occur, crime was not defined for them?  Did they have laws, and criminals, but no punishments?  Did they have punishments, but imprisonment not being among them?  Did they imprison criminals, but not in ways which we'd expect or understand? Did they imprison in the ways we'd understand and expect, but has all evidence of such since vanished from the physical record?  If the answer to the question about whether these structures existed is yes, then:  Are these really punitive prisons?  Were the "laws" broken really just informal prejudices common to the whole society but not formally codified into strictures, rules, and positive laws?  Are these really "prisons", or something else entirely?

This example shows us that many considerations enjoin even a simple exercise of hypothetical thinking about a rather empirical, and seemingly simple, issue, so imagine if things get "metaphysical"...

In philosophy it is often the case that "intangible" or "insubstantial" or "abstract" or "religious" ideas, concepts, entities, etc are sometimes asserted to exist, and those who wish to present arguments against such will sometimes ask why they should believe such a thing.  They ask, basically, "if such a notion were not real, how would the world be any different now?" If there cannot be presented a convincing reason to suppose that it would be any different, then the critic feels fine remaining in his default position of keeping his mind unchanged on the matter, of not accepting this new idea or belief about it.  After all, nothing would change in his life if it were not true, and so for all he knows he lives in a world where it isn't, and this wouldn't seem any different from the world he is in right now, which is the one he was in as an unbeliever, and so why change?  The world remains the same either way, as far as he can tell.

That's a sort of defense for those who feel put upon by the profferings of proselytizers, and one can understand their unwillingness to "play along" and invest meaning in ideas which didn't belong to them when that rather should be the burden of the one presenting those ideas.

Of course sometimes it may be the case that the world wouldn't seem any different if the phenomenon in question didn't exist, but not because the beings which are supposed to exist don't have any causal power when they don't exist, but because if they didn't exist then the world would have invented them, because in fact the world has a causal power of its own which is in a feedback loop with the entities/forces/beings in question.   It is like this:  if they didn't exist then the world would have found a way to ensure that some simulacrum of them did exist, because the world is an agent of a common principle with those forces, and not merely an effect of them.

So that means we think in this case that the metaphysical beings in question exist along with our apparent, as we say "physical" world of phenomena, as co-causal agents in how this world behaves, as a sort of reinforcing cause which is also an effect of the world's ongoing activities.  As it stand in this case, we might ask a new question:

"If the beings would have been invented if they didn't exist, then how do we know if they in fact are in existence as inventions or as naturally, already existing?"  In other words, "What if they did already exist?  How would the world be different?"

These and many other interesting metaphysical questions and considerations can be raised and explored, even without entering substantive content into the formulas here used.  Indeed, these considerations kept in the abstract, purely metaphysical form in which they are here presented can be the source of reams of theoretical exercises in thought, and would be worthwhile to conduct on their own merits for those of us with such a proclivity.  But what happens when we add certain kinds of contents into them?  That's when things get interesting, and far more interesting than just the question of what crime and punishment were like 8,000 years ago in China.

What if the issue were to know an answer to the question of what would be the difference between a world were evil existed beyond the domain of "what evil men do", and the world where no such causes of evil existed, and to make it very strict, the only evils which ever exist are those which are performed by men who are in fact evil.  What is the difference between these two worlds?

In other words, would it matter to our perceptions of our observable world whether or not men like Dr. Ewen Cameron were performing their evil experiments merely under their own inclinations, or does it make a difference if they are funded as part of a project in a group which secretively redistributes public money in order to create a de facto justification for what they do in the midst of those upon whom they do them?  Surely there is some difference, if in the first case he were simply doing his deeds of his own accord and were not legitimized by some relationship to a government agency working with his expertise as a resource, then he'd quite possibly be considered a criminal, if not an outright evil man by those in his profession as well as the public at large.  In fact this is still the case as lawsuits have been filed and won on behalf of some of Dr. Cameron's victims.  It is just that it would perhaps be more obviously, more blatantly the case if he were not semi-legitimized by the agencies involved in his research.

But even right here we have an abundant enough set of elements to call "evil", and the consequences they have wrought are sufficiently odious so as seemingly not to require any further, more remote causes, even if such were to be in themselves perhaps more sinister in their own natures, motives, intentions, goals, etc.  But what if such did exist, would we be able to detect a difference in the phenomena which concentrate around the dreaded subproject of Mk-Ultra in which Dr. Cameron partook?

If not, it may be argued by those who want to dismiss conspiracy investigators as misguided crackpots that their theories or suspicions, etc, are all unnecessary, possibly delusional excesses of thought which are worthy to be shaved off by Occam's Razor which states that whenever we are trying to account for the "why" of a thing, we should hypothesize no more entities to be involved then are necessary, so that if there are two possibilities for such an account, even if both may be true, we should prefer the simpler one.

That may be a fine point to make, but it would be foolish to assert that such a method of epistemological simplification is an iron-clad rule about how to think, research, or understand what is "truer" in the investigation of the why's and how's of phenomena.  After all, what if the simpler explanation is simply not true, and the less simple one happens to be the case?  What someone handy with Occam's Razor would suggest is that the burden of proof is upon the one in favor of the less simple explanation, and therefore let him scrounge up the evidence, and let his evidence satisfy stringent standards of evaluation.

That may be okay as well, but even if he doesn't have evidence, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and that means anyone has the right to suppose it does and to search for it.  It also doesn't mean that being unable to find such evidence is an indication that it for sure doesn't exist.  It also doesn't mean that the simpler explanation is true.  It just means that the person who wants to sit pat on it has found a nice excuse for ignoring the testimony of others, or even their evidence, if it doesn't meet his own standards, which themselves may be adjusted perhaps to ludicrous degrees of insensitivity to even blatant manifestations of the phenomena which his "simpler" account does not recognize as real.

These "Skeptics a la Mode" do exist, and they clog up the works in discussions about anything whatsoever.  This same sort of rock-headed mentality which mistakes sullen and stubborn ignorance for epistemic sobriety (or dogmatic loyalty), is found in every aspect of human knowledge and belief. In the end, it is most a form of rationalization about whether or not to be open to new evidence.  The specialist in epistemic razor blades just happens to be the someone who prefers to keep his mind a certain way and seems to prefer the evidence for thing to come to him rather than to seek it out himself, and he'd prefer that you get the memo on what he is willing to accept (we'll assume he doesn't have gut feelings, intuitions, psychic powers, heightened perceptions of probability fields, moral inspiration, and certainly not a Nous, so we'll assume he won't be interested in any such evidence on our part, indeed he often finds these attributes can even be considered as having the power to taint even solid evidence which is found by their inspiration or means).

Really, in the world of knowledge and the seeking of it, who cares about this toad on a rock in a swamp in the middle of nowhere?  Let him be.

As for us, what can we make of such a question, even if not taken to such a silly extreme of improbable investigative utility as the pseudo-skeptic finds normal for himself?  Well, we might ask ourselves that question and consider various possibilities.

1) What if we lived in a universe where the existence of such metaphysical causes of evil have special means of hiding their presences?

2) What if they had a methodology to reinforce evils which exist in man already, but prefer to do so in such a way that man thinks he is doing them himself, so they can keep man in a special state of ultimate culpability, manipulability, and ignorance?

3) What if their non-existence would be impossible (in this universe) because man's existence in his current form in this universe is directly owing to their existence as a partial cause, and so it is a moot question in fact?                                                                                                                                  

4) What if the point made in 3) is so strong that even if the metaphysical evil beings didn't exist now there would be enough inertial force in the effects formerly special to their involvement that man would coast along just as if it were unaffected except perhaps by a brief disorientation and then pernicious (and radically more culpable) resumption of the evil paths we see in the phenomenal world? (That would be an effect of their sudden non-existence, it could be argued, but it would be a hard one to detect as such an effect, being that the cause is so obscure, occult, and opaque so that even (at least?) most of those involved in the ongoing evil on the surface wouldn't have understood it).

5) What if the "machine" of human evil is run so efficiently that 4) happens from time to time in order to "kick start" and/or "upsurge" the outpouring of some energetic benefit which accrues to the meta-evil beings who thrive on this arrangement, and that this could only be possible in this particular way (with this particular level of efficiency), if they kept it a secret even from those who are involved on the "upper layers" of such conspiracies of evil as we see extant and pervasive in the world?

Then in fact, we may have, from our perspective, a world "no different than" the world in which "meta-evil" doesn't exist, and yet it would be just as evil overall, if we had a case where 5) were true. Yet it would be a very different world in fact than a world where such meta-evil didn't exist, and it seems to make a great bit of difference to the question of defining and labeling such people as to whether or not they are sane, so at least it directly affects them if their Love of  Truth pits them against such meta-evils (as well as their lower-rung evil hegemonies), since for something in their very essence, their very spirits, it matters what this Truth is, but for almost all involved in the circumstances, the world appears just as if there were not such "evil forces" behind the evil forces already "taken for granted" in the world today.

Sadly for those in this scenario, they are not only likely to be called various names and given various labels, in other words ostracized, or at least marginalized, if not outright persecuted and massacred (although it apparently has happened in the past!), but they are, in case of 5), in possession of a world-view which is The Truth, and it is everyone else which is delusional about these matters which they disingenuously deem "controversial" and "fringe".

That said, simply stating the possibility of conceiving of such a world does not in itself demonstrate its existence, or that we are here living in such a world.  How, then, could someone convinced of such a state of affairs discover the existence of such a world (in general), that he is living in one (in particular), and WHY, OH WHY would he burden himself with such a demonstration, knowing that most others would be immune even to the most powerful evidence he could present, even to the point of dismissing piles of documented facts, strung together with logic so forceful that even to understand it is to agree with it, and to disagree with it is to contradict one's own self?

That will be the topic of Part II of this epistemic foray into the realms of occult metaphysics.

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