International Society for Philosophers

International Society for Philosophers

Wisdom begins with wonder

PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS                   ISSN 2043-0728


Issue number 80 21st March 2004


I. 'Monologue on Art' by Vikram Singh

II. 'The Rational and Trans-Rational: Response to D.R. Khashaba' by Tom Albertsson

III. 'God's Knowledge of "I": Rejoinder to Geoffrey Klempner' by Anthony Flood



As has happened so often in the past, serendipity has contrived to bring together three pieces of writing which, although coming from very different directions, share connecting themes.

Vikram Singh addresses what he terms the 'Beethoven-Newton problem'. If Newton had never been born, someone else was bound to make his epoch-making discoveries. But if Beethoven had never been born, the 7th Symphony would never have been written. What does this show us about the nature of thought, consciousness and creativity?

Tom Albertsson focuses on the downside of the Enlightenment, the excessive emphasis placed on discursive reason, with the consequences we see today in the hegemony of the scientistic view, and the downgrading of non-discursive knowledge to the category of 'mere mysticism'.

Anthony Flood takes me to task for failing to appreciate fully Whitehead's conception of the creative advance of the universe, which he believes has led me wrongly to conclude that there could be an endless succession of Geoffrey Klempners, all with identical properties from the objective standpoint. -- I am sure the readers of the newsletter will be much relieved to hear that.

The address for the Glass House Philosopher web site is closing down. For some time, the old web page will remain visible but no further changes will be possible. Fortunately, there is an alternative address. Please adjust your bookmarks to the new Glass House Philosopher site:


Geoffrey Klempner



My heart and mind longed for resolution and communication. Hence I write. I must admit that this is for the first time. I have more inclination to share than impose. Also I am on brink of a precipice, which makes it imperative that I reach out before being pushed.

For what reason DO I write? I do not know. One I have already made clear. But there should be many, with equal goals. The intensity could not be submitted but it can be subdued for purpose of forging, so I do. The mere fulfillment of goals shall not be the only aim, I hope I can win friends and fraternity. I could have expressed it in a much shorter form and could have used a more advanced (oops, ambiguous) form of language. But one of the first things I had learnt in language was not only to produce my ideas in it but also to make others understand it easily. I feel at times philosophy being plagued by people who by their language want to make an idea appear deeper than it is. That's the worst form of pedantry. I want the reader not to be mislead by my simple use of language for the ideas are deeper than they might appear at first and most of all -- enjoy! and pardon grammatical and spelling mistakes.

The problem of Reproduction. Art has travelled a long way, but I do not know the distance that is has covered. I can only calculate the time. Often, I see a painting's abstract representation of something that cannot be 'visualized'. I have always wondered about the role of consciousness. That of its projection in 'entity' and out of it. I read about the Beethoven-Newton problem. i.e. If there was no Isaac Newton then somebody else would have discovered his laws regarding mechanics. We all know Leibnitz came very close to be the first to do same for calculus before Newton. But If there were no Beethoven then no one could had written the great C minor Symphony (his 5th). If we scatter similar universes about 1770, how many times will Beethoven end up writing the same Symphony? The fact is that the time it was composed represents a unique point in not only time but objectively in the sociological environment of man. To put it in layman's terms, the time was ripe for it. But it would also be a mistake to refer Beethoven as only Beethoven. If we for the purpose of deduction imagine Beethoven at another sociological point then we are not talking about the same artist. So even if there was Beethoven still we cannot say that there would be a C minor symphony. It represents a singular state of events to end up where we are. A point in sociological phase space is not only influenced by the time before it but also time after it. Although I cannot talk about mechanics in similar terms.

To recall a thought is a meaningless proposition. Let me assume that a friend of mine is an painter. I pay a visit to him in the evening and he gleefully shows me one of his paintings that he painted in the morning. When I see it I feel lost for ideas. He tells me that it is a piece of abstract art. It represents emotional state of his mind at that time. But I wonder if any time in the future he is in similar 'emotional state' would he paint same picture down to each stroke? To see it objectively, How many times he would end up with same picture if he goes for all the changes possible in state of his chemical and quantum mind? If I calculate all possible states by applying Permutation and combination equations then I am bound to stumble upon a configuration he was in the morning. Now If I ask him to draw for all of them (remember we are in future of that point) what are the chances that one of his paintings would be similar? But also we must admit that to be 'in the future' of that point it would be impossible to circulate configurations. How? To recall an ideological state of mind is a pointless idea. There are problems of 'authentic reproduction'. As soon as I 'think' to recall an idea it gets manipulated. To put it in concrete terms, Similar sociological/ideological points could not be authentically reproduced 'in the future'. Or No two ideological points could be same if separated by measurable time. We can use this as reference for future arguments, but I would like to generalize this point further.

Let me assume that I have a hot iron box. I would like to measure its temperature. Thankfully I have a thermometer. So what should be the best idea? Go to the box, and touch the bulb with the surface of the box, right? So what happens when I touch the bulb? A basic understanding of thermodynamics tells us that when two bodies come in contact they tend to come in equilibrium until they both have the same temperature. So what do I get? The wrong temperature. As the box when in contact with the bulb would get little bit colder. Another device would be a nice pyrometer, for higher temperatures. Another snag comes in this time because of the time lapse, (x/c)+radiation loss. Though it is very simple.

But we shall not go into physics that soon. Come back to my friend. Assume his mind is a closed system akin to that of thermodynamics. No real ideas could get 'in' to influence. Then can I assume to reproduce configurations? Probably no. Because mind is conscious. It can manipulate itself. For such purpose I would think of it as not a body but an 'entity'. Now here I should make clear what I mean. Things are either decomposable or not (we owe much to this property of nature for advances in quantum physics. ) I will call a composite thing as an entity. I think it would not be a very wrong assumption that consciousness cannot be decomposed into simpler entities. Although the materialistic brain can be. Further nature consists of many things but we decompose it into smaller entities. For sake of ease we talk nature only at quantum level. Secondly consciousness has a property of intelligence. I must make it clear once more. In they heyday of quantum physics there was an experiment known as the ERP experiment (E=Einstein, R=Rosen, P=Podolsky, if I remember well). It showed that quantum particles could manipulate themselves to measurements of the conscious mind. Further experiments in the 80s proved it. So anything that can measure perimeters can be said to pose intelligence. I do not use its meaning in the colloquial sense. This strikes out the possibility of insects interacting with 'decomposed' nature as humans do.

So the human mind is an intelligent entity. An intelligent entity can participate in manipulating other entities as well as itself. So I have to define nature in terms of one entity to proceed. Let us assume it to be generic and call it 'N', it can be defined as discovered or undiscovered indestructible intelligent entity. And we shall call consciousness as C.

Let me assume that you want to know me. So what you can do is to come as close to me in phase space that overlaps . In non-entity universe there are many ways to accomplish this. One of them is language. You can ask as many questions to me as you would like. But remember the thermometer problem? With every question gets manipulated. So I no longer remain what I was before your question. I think it is a simple enough problem to be recognize, but somehow artists always have missed it. What should be an artistic idea? Let me assume that I am in C1 state at a given time. At this moment I want to draw a painting to represent what I would call a beautiful thought in my mind. Now remember I said that in ideological space a point is as much influenced by past as by future. It is time to show what I meant. After drawing I come to state C2 in which I think that it was not so beautiful an idea. After which I come to a state C3 and a friend of mine comes and asks me about my painting, This question instantly leads me in to manipulated C4 state.

Now it is reasonable to think that C1-C2-C3-C4 are in linear sequence. It would be absurd to introduce exponential equations in such space. Now how would I describe this painting to my friend? Should I be marred by my logical inconsistency? Or Imagine my friend was a buye... and I needed money. This throws us with a third kind of entity I shall call sociological entity. In any case it becomes impossible for me to maintain my ideas over a consistent scale. It would be quite easier if I always think same about my painting: beautiful. But will the word beautiful would have same meaning for me in entire life? Or in social ideology? There seems to be a glaring defect in our language. So I resort back to my art to find a solution. Every time I think of that painting I draw another one stating my feelings towards it. If in the end of my life all the paintings drawn upon it look similar I would think that my idea was consistently logical/ But what are the chances that all resulting paintings would look alike? I think I have answered it already.

So it means that every piece of art, whatever field it may belong to, occupies a unique point in in Sociological order which could not be replicated. What this tells me is that creation of art is a singular process and it is not even in hands of the artist to remanipulate an authentic reproduction. The only testimony of his state C at the point of creation is his creation but we should not get into error by thinking that it is a proof too. If the artist tells that a certain creation is an image of his emotional state he may as well lie and there exist no method to verify him or to falsify him. The fact that I am trying to state is that it is easier to take a piece of art for purpose of analysis as an image, shadow or reduction at any point S rather than where it should exist only as an image. And secondly and more importantly, A piece of art is a statement and its value lies only in itself; although we can not deny that consciousness of the creator plays a very vital role in its creation but it should not be taken as an elevating factor, for neither he himself nor others could prove the piece to be mirror image of his consciousness or otherwise. It remains a metaphysical curiosity and not something which can readily used for analytical purpose.

Let me give an example. Assume I have two very good friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Wessels. Mr. Smith is a fine painter and Mr. Wessels a very good composer. On the same day Mr. Smith invites me to display his new painting and Mr. Wessels to listen his new piano sonata. On contemplating both, I feel that the painting and sonata induces in myself similar feelings. Here I should caution reader about that there is not proper way to establish the contrariness of a feeling. I would rather be more satisfied with saying in terms of similarity or dissimilarity. Certainly both of them should be having their own meaning in musical and artistic terms respectively. These two cannot be superimposed. That is their angle lies in 90 degrees to each other. This I call a dimensional factor. So what I mean is that their shadows are similar. Not necessarily their images.

Let me go to another point. Let me describe the happiness induced by a piece of art in terms of endorphins secreted by the brain of an audience. Certainly effect would be different. Certainly of interest to a neurologist. But the idea is the same. every time I comprehend (or at least try to) a piece of endorphin secretion would be different. It is as much a mathematical preposition. So how could I ever pass a verdict over it. One abstract solution could be to comprehend it infinite time and pull out a mathematical mean of the endorphin secretion. It is a pure mathematical solution, as I have tried to prove this is enough to go in opposite direction in philosophical sense. To pass a judgement over anything we need to know it as much as we can but the moment we try to know it our judgement gets contaminated.

Now I try another thing. I try to explain Mozart's G minor symphony to my dog. What does it means for someone who has read the aforesaid sentence. One can say 'impossible', 'I am a fool.' But then you missed the whole point of consciousness and its dimensions as I have spoken of before. In pure philosophical sense why is it impossible. There is a matter of intelligence of course but in what sense? Both me and my dog are conscious enough. Let me put it this way. I am a cube and I have a friend who is a square. I try one day to tell him all about something called 'volume'. I wonder why I was unable to do it as he always talked in terms of area. Now you get my point about arts. The measurement of intelligence is actually order of sociological dimensions which is not a property of consciousness. So what should be consciousness objectively? What should be non-consciousness?

We all know that the natural tendency of things are disorder i.e. I talk of entropy. And thought process comprises of intake of energy which means it is a non-spontaneous process in thermodynamical terms. I understand that is how philosophers would feel when someone talks of conscious mind as bunch of molecules. But there is more to it. It follows that the natural tendency of thoughts should be disorganization. I again want to iterate that thought is used in deeper sense of the word. Something which could not be broken into simpler entities. So I take thought as the smallest entity and first order of consciousness. An Idea is an organisation of thought. Again thought is a property of consciousness but an Idea shouldn't necessarily be so. If I take thought as smallest entity logic demands, I should begin to describe a non-conscious state with this parameter only. I take a non-conscious state to be an infinite disorganization of thoughts. It should follow from the second law of thermodynamics that this should be the natural order.

An Idea can be expressed in many forms. Art form is one of the fundamental. Language has many problems as I have discussed. But I must say that one of the objectives of art should be to attain a more proper order of thoughts and a finer organisation of the same. I should state that the motion of music towards a more dissonant form actually is more natural then a consonant form and similarly natural to achieve, that's why Mozart was great.

(c) Vikram Singh 2004




Dear Geoffrey,

Units 1 of both programs A and F arrived a week or so ago in good order, as did Philosophy Pathways Issue 79. It was the latter that led me to writing this letter which, as you suggest, I write as if I'm addressing a good friend who knows even less about academic philosophy then I do. Furthermore, and also in accord with your suggestion, I'm to write with an attitude of "bloody mindedness."

This issue, as you will recall, contained an essay by D.R. Khashaba titled 'Kant and the Enlightenment Promise'. Now the word "enlightenment" (in coming from a rational-scientific philosopher and not a spiritual sage) triggered my interest and unleashed a mini-quest of my own. I love to work like this, following external stimuli to internal hunches to bookshelves to an Internet search of Kant's original German essay to thoughts, jottings and conclusions that often surprise me. In this case, however, the consequences of my mini-search are rather drastic [...]. I trust we will still be friends at the end of the day, though. So, off I go, with your permission, fully prepared to be picked apart, yet fearless in searching for and expressing what I believe are glimpses of noble albeit partial truths.

1. Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklaerung? is of course the title of Kant's original essay published in December 1784, as the Pathways essay quoted, and as I dug up on http:--- . It is my good fortune to be a native Dutch speaker and have a decent reading ability in German. My spoken and written German shall remain unexamined, however, but my life is still worth living. So, my first task was to check the meaning of "Aufklaerung", because to my mind it smacked more of "resolution" or "explanation" than "enlightenment" as such. The German-Icelandic dictionary I consulted (and I had no other, so now we're up to four languages, what an extravaganza) indeed translated "Aufklaerung" (ueber etwas) as "explanation", and then listed the phrase das Zeitalter der Aufklaerung, which of course is nothing other than our classic Age of Enlightenment. Further, in verb form, aufklaeren was "explain something (to someone)", "shed light upon" (a-ha), educate. And aufgeklaert as an adjective was, roughly, "learned", or "educated."

2. Enlightenment from what? was the next question. Out with the next dictionary, this time an English-English one, The Wordsworth Concise. Enlighten: to impart knowledge to or information; to elevate by knowledge, to free from prejudice and superstition. A-ha again, and therefore my emphasis. Enlightenment [the spiritual kind goes unmentioned]: belief in reason and human progress and a questioning of [myths,] traditions and authority. Enlightenment from what? As we all know, it was away with the myths! out with mythical absolutisms, superstitions and the stranglehold of church and dogma! Hail the new god of science and the all-supreme power of the human mind and its ability to reason! For the first time in human history, the three main spheres of human endeavour, art, morals, and science, were able to differentiate from God's Absolute Authority and develop under their own steam (thank you, Mr Watt). Soon, of course, and because science deals with the principles of nature so fundamental to basic life itself, science would turn into scientism, materialism, reductionism, and start to dominate and oppress the other spheres...but that's another discussion.

3. Which leads us to reason and rational. I consulted the Wordsworth again. Reason: the mind's power of drawing conclusions and determining right and truth; the exercise of this power; to deduce inferences from premises. Then, rational: of the reason; endowed with reason; agreeable to reason. Also, seeking reasonable reasons for one's decisions and views. Here reasonable is both adjective and verb. That one is from US philosopher-sage Ken Wilber, a scholar and visionary some people call the long-awaited "Einstein of consciousness studies". Wilber is an all-inclusive integrator of East and West, North and South, Heaven and Earth, man's body, mind and spirit. We'll hear more from Wilber later.

4. Vernunft transcends and includes Verstand. Just as the Inuit have many words for snow but the English language only one, so the German language somewhat more modestly has two words for reason against again the English language only one. Kant uses both words in his essay: Vernunft and Verstand. English texts reduce this to reason only, and so reduce a richer stereo sound to mere mono. The Dutch language has the same word for Verstand, verstand! In Dutch, we might say: "Man, gebruik toch je verstand -- come on, use your common sense, get real!" So, Verstand in this sense would be your everyday, logical thinking ability, to deliver you from Unmuendigkeit, which is the same in Dutch, onmondigheit. In Dutch, we refer to a child as being onmondig, literally, unable to use its mouth to stand up for itself, without the guidance of an adult. Which is exactly what Kant describes with his opening sentences: Aufklaerung ist der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbst verschuldeten Unmuendigkeit. Unmuendigkeit ist das Unvermoegen, sich seines Verstandes ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen. Later in the essay, Kant variously uses the words Verstand or Vernunft, apparently without distinguishing between the two.

5. Wilber, however, has this to say about Vernunft and Verstand in his blockbuster work Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (Collected Works, volume six, second, revised edition, Shambhala, 2000). SES is the first volume in a series of three in Wilber's Kosmos Trilogy, a first attempt at formulating a truly integral world philosophy. Integral in this context means "inclusive, balanced, comprehensive". See http:--- for a quick overview of the integral approach, which describes some of exciting contours of humanity's next Renaissance. Volumes two and three of the Trilogy are still to be published. Discussing the Idealist system (p. 533 of SES), Wilber suggests: "As vision-logic, it was a developmental evolution beyond simple formal operational rationality (Verstand) into dialogical, dialectical, intersubjective reason (Vernunft), carrying with it a unifying of opposites and a reconciliation of fragments" (my emphasis). Thus we have, Verstand = ordinary reason, and Vernunft = Mature Reason.

6. This developmental evolution points to man's (men's and women's) growth process in terms of levels of consciousness, from something like noble but ignorant savage to magic nature animator to mythic Unmuendigkeit to rational Aufklaerung (modernism) to pluralistic sensitivity (postmodernism) to integral big-picture thinking (the coming Integral Age) and beyond to levels of spiritual awakening (in an uncertain future). Wilber explains all of this in exquisite detail in his many books. What we here can say, is that man contains at the very least, and as all the world's major religions and spiritual traditions agree, body, mind and spirit, in that order, in a hierarchical growth process that "transcends and includes."

Let me illustrate the hierarchical, developmental, "transcend and include" nature of man's growth with an example we have all struggled through. First we crawl. Then we learn how to walk. Then some of us continue to develop this physical faculty into dancing a masterful tango. Walking transcends yet includes crawling, but not vice-versa. Having gained the ability to walk, when we look for our diamond ring on the floor, we get down on knees and still know how to crawl (but not vice-versa). Similarly, dancing the tango embraces walking (and crawling), but not vice versa: it is an expanded capacity that transcends yet includes its necessary predecessors. Let us now take standing up straight, erecting our spine and walking with dignity as the equivalent of rational thought and the use of reason. After all, we must make good our promise as homo erectus who becomes home sapiens, and delivers himself from throwing bones to launching spacecraft (remember Stanley Kubrick's famous scene in his rendition of 2001: A Space Odyssey). Then, crawling is pre-walking, and dancing is trans-walking. Thus, crawling to walking is as Unmuendigkeit (belief in Myths and surrender to Outer Authority) is to Verstand.

7. Which delivers us straight into an extremely important insight: Wilber's pre/trans fallacy. Now the Age of Enlightenment did away with the stranglehold of myths, and rightly so. But it was not a "transcend and include", healthy growth process, it was "transcend and repress" unhealthy process. Mind transcends body (because mind can behold body as an object of attention), became mind is all-supreme and represses body, and as an extension exploits the common body (and hated ancestral goddess): Mother Earth. All of this under the new supreme authority of the god of science. "And so it goes", as our friend Kurt Vonnegut, is apt to say, with a glint in his weary eye. Our ancestors lived more in and from their bodies (the body-self, or body-ego) and from that level of consciousness produced first magical thinking then myths and absolutisms. Small wonder the era of rational science, and scientific-rationalism, wanted to do away with all that absolutistic nonsense and replace it with another absolutistic power, that of human reason.

Along comes Kant, using his powers of mind, and deals a death-blow to "mere metaphysics", and rightly so, as we shall see. Rational scientism killed the mythical. Kant attempted to kill the mystical. But whereas the mythical is pre-rational, mystical is trans-rational, just as orthodox, exoteric religion is pre-rational, and authentic, esoteric spiritual transformation (not spiritualism or psychic abilities) is trans-rational. In its double-whammy up-down death blow, human reason wins the match, or so it thinks (because that's all it can do). Only walking is left. No crawling, no tango. And right there Kant, and thousands of followers since, in spite of their constructive impact, made (and to this day perpetuate), a serious mistake. What mistake? Well, since both mythical and mystical are non-rational, they are both rejected as irrational, and therefore anathema to the supreme power of human reason.

This is the pre/trans fallacy, which shows up in many, many other guises, as Wilber never ceases to teach. The seemingly irrational and paradoxical utterings of a Zen master and the cute gurglings of a baby are both non-rational, but they do not belong to the same category. Tango and crawling are both non-walking, but we would hardly confuse the two. We could ask a tango master to show us how to crawl, but we couldn't ask a baby to show us a few cool tango moves. Similarly, the baby just gurgles when we ask him about world peace, but the Zen master, or Christian mystic, or Hindu sage, or Tao sage, or Plato, or Plotinus..., might have something worthwhile to contribute. These sages all "experienced" the trans-rational domains of the Kosmos, and attempted to reconstruct it for us mortals in rational terms. But merely words are not enough, thanks Mr Kant, just as the actual experience of walking on the moon (rather than doing the moonwalk) cannot be captured in words. Neither can making love. You must do the actual walking, and you must do the actual love-making, to know. Just as you must complete the necessary contemplative or meditative practice to open your eye of spirit and so know for yourself whereof philosopher-sages like Plotinus for the West or Nagarjuna for the East speak. So, again, the time-honoured way to experience the trans-rational domains sages and saints have spoken so eloquently of for thousands of years, is of course nothing other than meditation or contemplation. What does Western scientism make of this? Easy! Trans-rational doesn't fit into its world-model, so all sages are deluded, and must immediately check into Western psychiatric wards and receive a proper Western diagnosis and medication. Under the brutal diagnostic gaze of Western reductionism, meditation is thus summarily reduced to medication. At worst all sages as well as millions of meditators are paranoid, deluded, schizophrenic, psychotic, or perhaps just mildly neurotic like Woody Allen, and should phone their analyst.

8. So, is man "all mind," as Hegel would have it? Is that true or false? True, but partial, and therefore less comprehensive, inclusive and balanced than it could be (cf. the integral approach above). Man is also body and spirit, not just mind. That, at the very least, is a more inclusive possibility the integral approach keeps in mind! Therefore, it is a serious limitation, which leads to partial and warped interpretations of the Kosmos (the Pythagorean term), to claim that all truth is the ultimate domain of mind. Where that same mind just happens to be the tool of preference the rational philosopher uses to express this "truth." Just as life is more than mind grown out of selfish genes, so the Kosmos is something intangibly more than the mere "wrigglings and jigglings of atoms" of physicist Richard Feynman. Any qualified quantum physicist will tell you that subatomic particles behave in strange, non-logical, non-rational ways. Any qualified Zen master will tell you that absolute truth cannot either be explained in neat, rational sentences. Which is why their utterings are often as strange as the jumpings-around of quantum particles. But that doesn't imply that you can explain Zen in terms of quantum physics, or God or free will in terms of quantum uncertainty, as many popular New Age books would have it. Claiming such is one of the most horrible, dreadful, confused reductionisms one can possibly make. From dust to deity, it's all about the wrigglings and jigglings of atoms! Yikes, what a nightmare! As if quantum physics will ever explain the meaning of Shakespeare, compose a divine poem, or explain the magic of dancing the tango.

Fortunately, that will never happen, just as HAL will never take over a mission to Jupiter. HAL is ultimately about atomic wriggling and jiggling, but HAL doesn't have a sense of humor, and so will never become human. Man's growth trajectory has been succinctly summarised as proceeding from "identification with the self, to Realisation of the Self." In this vision, evolving, developing and using our rational mind is half way up the mountain, not the mountain top. Paraphrasing Plotinus, (I think it was Plotinus), we can say that: "Evolving from beast to god, man with his rational-egoic mind has come half way." To claim that mind is the ultimate human potential, thus claiming a full stop for human evolution at precisely the half-way resting place of philosophers, is just another absolutism. As an absolutism, it is just as partial as those myths the same philosophers dismissed as pre-rational. By the way, these myths still have a valid and necessary element in overall human development, as the integral approach reminds us.

9. Our three eyes. St. Bonaventure, the thirteenth Century theologian and scholar, taught that we have three modes of attaining knowledge, or "three eyes" of knowledge, corresponding to our body, mind and spirit. As explained on  http:---, the "eye of flesh" is the objective perception of the external world. The second is the "eye of reason" or "eye of mind", which uses reason, logic, philosophy and the mind itself to know. The third is the "eye of contemplation" or "eye of spirit" and refers to knowledge of transcendent realities which cannot be known empirically and which defies logic and rational analysis (emphasis again mine). We know we have a body. We know we have a mind. And the yearning as well as realisation of men and women of all ages and all times toward "something higher", hints at a truth that resides beyond the grasp of mind. For practical purposes, we call the corresponding human potential the "eye of spirit." Now Kant was correct in dismissing as "mere metaphysics" the construction of mental truths about the higher. For he correctly intuited that we must not confuse categories. We cannot theorise about a higher domain and posit its existence based on the explanatory premises of a lower category! But this doesn't mean the higher doesn't exist! Only that it doesn't exist for the rational mind!!

Here is Ken Wilber, writing about the fall of the Idealists (who had a solid intuition about the higher, the something more, but lacked a sustained contemplative practice to sufficiently open their eye of spirit and so pass their insights on to others):

     "Particularly with Hegel, the transpersonal and
     transrational Spirit becomes wholly identified with
     vision-logic or mature Reason, which condemns Reason to
     collapsing under a weight it could never carry. In 1796,
     Hegel wrote a poem for Holderlin, which says in part: 'For
     thought cannot grasp the soul which forgetting itself
     plunges out of space and time into a presentiment of
     infinity, and now reawakens. Whoever wanted to speak of
     this to others, though he spoke with the tongues of angels,
     would feel the poverty of words.' Would that Hegel had
     remained in poverty (with Plato: 'No treatise by me
     concerning it exists or ever will exist'). But Hegel
     decided...that Reason could and should develop the tongues
     of angels. [...] Their insights, not easily reproducible
     [they had no methodology like meditation or contemplation
     to open the eye of spirit], and thus not fallibilistic,
     were dismissed as 'mere metaphysics', and gone was a
     priceless opportunity..."

     SES, pp. 536-537

10. Integral post-metaphysics. Just as physics has progressed irreversibly from a Newtonian to an Einsteinian framework, so metaphysics is now moving on to integral post-metaphysics, as pioneered by Ken Wilber. In his formulations, Wilber avoids the Kant knock-out, whilst honouring the best of premodern, modern and postmodern (partial) truths. This is once again the inclusive, balanced and comprehensive integral approach. Excerpts of this approach, which has no historical precedents, are available at  http:--- and Excerpts A, B, C and D given at http:--- .

Now, browsing your book, Naive Metaphysics, I found this sentence in the introduction: "At such a moment, the very attitude of certainty seems a distortion of reality; the world is and will always remain something absolutely other than I, it is not mine to take for granted." To rational man, this statement indeed appears absolutely true. To spiritual man, it does not. This gap between subjective worlds "in here" and objective worlds "out there", can it be resolved? Again, at the level of mind, and with the eye of mind, NO. At the level of spirit, using the eye of spirit, YES. The solution cannot be found, analysed, or logically deduced at the level of mind, period. The solution can be experienced (not quite the right word) at the level of spirit, it is called the nondual worldview, where apparent distinctions between self and other are dissolved and resolved. According to Wilber, Western geniuses like William James and Bertrand Russell dabbled in the nondual, but failed to follow through.

11. The futile search. To look for absolute transcendent truths at the level of mind is therefore a futile activity. At the very least, it is partial. And Truth demands an Integral Approach. It will not settle for less. Metaphysics is moving on, and the human mind must move on to its higher potentials. But right there is the sticking point. Most philosophers (thus in fact refusing to follow the lead of such giants as Plotinus) refuse to acknowledge let alone open their "eye of spirit". That would be hard work [...].

Be blessed, as we say in Iceland,

Tom Albertsson

(c) Tom Albertsson 2004




Geoffrey Klempner entitled his recent notebook entry a "reply" to something I had written. The latter may have occasioned further reflections on God's knowledge, but I fail to see their roots in what I was commenting on. My careless reading, which Dr. Klempner was too gracious to note, is perhaps to blame for that failure. I appreciate his sharpening of my focus.

     It follows [he writes]... that what an omniscient deity
     knows, in knowing the actual subject GK [Geoffrey Klempner]
     that exists now, is what GK has in common with any GK that
     has appeared or will appear in the endless creative advance
     of the universe.


To the extent that I understand this sentence, I disagree with it. God knows more about Geoffrey Klempner than an abstract common denominator of the personal series we name "Geoffrey Klempner." God rather knows each concrete member of the series.

To be actual is to act, to exercise causal power. Actuality differs according to temporal mode. In the present, to exercise causal power is to decide among concrete alternatives; in the past, it is to influence the present[1]; and in the future (if Lewis Ford is correct), it is to provide creativity and aim to the present. Only to the extent that discrete members of the series can exercise causal power, depending on temporal mode, are they actual.

The series exercises no such power and is therefore not actual. It is an abstraction. The phrase "the actual subject GK" applies neither to only one entity nor to the series. It applies to every concrete member of the series. God knows them individually and exhaustively (perceiving the perfect "snapshot" of each upon its completion, as I had put it), but only up to the one just past.

An answer to the question, "What is it to be knowable?," helps determine an answer to, "What is something that God cannot know?" In my emerging, imperfectly Whiteheadian philosophy, the actual things that comprise a personal series are "drops of experience," more formally called "occasions." They are not continuously enduring substances. As I see it, the common presupposition that they are fatally blocks understanding how one entity can know another. And to entertain the notion that a continuum can be actual is to disturb Zeno's ghost.

Occasions of experience are momentary subjects. Subjects that have self-consciousness and self-referential linguistic power may use the first person singular pronoun, i.e., "I" or its equivalents in other languages. As occasions succeed one another, so do the referents of that pronoun.

(If anything other than the standpoint of such a subject-coming-to-be can determine the meaning of now, I have no idea what that might be. Since I regard temporal passage as a function of subjective succession, "eternal now" makes no sense to me.)

These subjects, these occasions of experience, these "feelers," feel the entire, preceding universe of occasions. Whitehead's technical term for that feeling that characterizes becoming is "prehension." It denotes the becoming occasion's taking into account of past actualities before deciding how it will issue in a new, concrete actuality, object, or being (or, as I had phrased it, "a new denizen of the past, a complete, objective fact, available for integration by later subjects").

Whitehead also availed himself of the term "concrescing" (concrescere, "to grow together") to denote this feeling-process. The present, concrescing subject is a discrete event of prehension. Now, events are unrepeatable. I can eat a steak again, for example, but not that first steak again. Eating the latter was a once-and-for-all event.

The non-substantial subject is identical with prehension, not a substance that "performs" it. The subject is therefore, strictly speaking, an unrepeatable event, numerically distinct from every other, even as it receives and re-enacts its predecessors' characters (notes of definiteness) into itself.

While this process is underway and has not yet issued in a concretum, there is nothing yet to prehend, and therefore nothing yet to know. Therefore, since the still-indeterminate concrescing subject is not complete, it falls outside the range of the knowable.

Knowledge is a high-grade species of prehension in this universe. Prehension is a causal process, and contemporary events are mutually causally independent. Since prehension, the heart of a concrescing subject, is not a possible object of prehension, it is not a possible object of knowledge. It may be on its way to being one, but it will not be one until it is past. Again, subjects concresce, what is concrescing is imprehensible, and what is imprehensible is unknowable. The ever-concrescing God, who is contemporary with every other concrescing subject, can no more prehend the imprehensible than God can square a circle.

"Geoffrey Klempner" refers to each nonrepeatable member of a certain, personal series of events bound to each other by internal relations of memory and anticipation. The characters of definiteness of an earlier member are repeated in later members, which are later events. The event itself, however, is not repeated.[2] God exhaustively knows every concrete Geoffrey Klempner, that is, every past member of the series, including the just past. God can anticipate, but cannot know, any contemporary subject that is about to be (but not yet) added to the "Geoffrey Klempner" series. That is, God does not know "the actual subject GK that exists now," for it is now simply unknowable.

As I suspect that Dr. Klempner's point still eluded me, I hope he can show me my error, whether or not in doing so he chooses to subject his readers to more of my confusion.


[1] In Dr. Klempner's fair citation of me I do not make it clear that I hold that the past is the realm of efficient and not just material causation. The creative presence of Aristotle's taxonomy of causes in Whitehead's thought appears to be cogent evidence of that.

[2] Commenting on Nietzsche's notion of "eternal recurrence," Dr. Klempner asks: "But will it be me next time around, or only someone exactly like me?" The answer is that it won't even be the same you, i.e., the same member of the series, even a second from now. What will be is a future member of a series of selves succeeding one another along a personal route of character-inheritance and self-determination. "Eternal recurrence" seems to me simply incoherent: it implies that for any two nonsimultaneous events, x and y, x is both before and after y.

(c) Anthony Flood 2004


© Geoffrey Klempner 2002–2020