Metaphysikos To Thaumatos

Metaphysics of Wonder - Kazis Kripaitis

F) Foreword

1. In order to cover ground in philosophy, one must kick with the foot. Though we set forth together, I am now alone, perched on the stone point of a secret summit, sipping crispy thin air – I have never drawn such easy breath, have never beheld so vast a view. Below me the bony fingers of high cliffs claw the mist and a sea of clouds holds the horizon. I am alone here, certain that no one has ever seen this pristine place. On my ascent, I passed a throng of my brothers and sisters reveling at a clear they believed to be the peak, psychonauts who braved with me the early crags. But as I scrutinized that foggy bluff, I saw the path unfurl into the vapor of a new sky. So I climbed with firm steps, and so I covered ground, over the messy detritus of departed philosophers, up and into the white. Joyful to survive to my private peak but despairing that no one is at my side to share the astounding view, I wonder, are my brothers and sisters lively enough to scale the final cliffs, to breathe such rare air? My recourse is in writing – so shall my work be steeped in anabastic mountain metaphor.

2. If one thing can be said on the fellowship of life and philosophy in this future which no longer calls to us, it is that they stand as adversaries, back to back, arms folded resolutely, refusing to speak to each other. We live on the far side of two thousand years of inconclusive blather in a fresh millennium already sick with cynicism, and despite how steady our forward march, despite our embarrassing confidence in progress, we know that the truth of experience is relative, that our universe serves an expansive multitude of realities and absurdities. Lady Philosophy barks like a dog, and we ignore her. She waves her arms wildly and pants with flustered fret! She spatters and froths and needs to know that she is relevant, but she does not accord with a century of physics – can you hear her baying and howling against the natural world where we live our lives? Let us bring her new words and teach her to sing! These pages swell with a bursting, foolish bugle-blast to ye sleeper-cells of thinkers and artists compelled to think and create alone in the frowsy dark of a disappointing age. Prying open a sealed doorway shut tight by a thousand years of science and reason, I holler to the army and usher her to charge, for as philosophy, this book longs for brothers in arms. My work drives hard, spurring you, dear reader, to pull related words and art into the light of the noonday sun. Here is the brave cornerstone in the foundation of our mighty construction – the one we build with the brick and mortar of art and literature created by the free-thinkers of our time of instant information and immediated gratification, where wonder is the enemy, silenced the moment it appears by a dissonant chorus of disagreeing scientists who don’t believe their own absurd findings. These pages reach to unite those who would follow relativity through the sparking neurons all the way to the dirty soil of our actual world – holding fast against the barbs of reason to perpetuate the electricity of wonder. Exposing ideas about the universe that empower creators against the enemy, it arms us with the best weaponry, shoveling solid ground under our feet so we have a place to make our stand.

Do you hear the clarion? It blares from these pages for those who would take up arms together and smash against the unphilosophy of our human impulse to explain-away, headstrong into the affront of academic stasis against our time – and we are up against the best! They have trained and they have drilled while we have slept! Our age is anxious, desperate to revel with the wonder of our inheritance, wants to be free to destroy as we sham, wants to build while we play. And so I shamelessly conjure the nerve and fortitude of Nietzsche, who alone wrapped his courageous mind around the world and rendered all previous philosophies rubble and babble, when he described our reality as no more than a swirl of forces, devoid of ‘things’.(3) He noted that his children would not be born for a hundred years. Well, we are born and are being born, and this book is a great birth-giving, which unites his children to a common creed appropriating science into the richness of wonder, to lead the army over and through the mountain pass. We must fight even him as we will surely fight each other and ourselves. Oh, but my elevated hopes are folly! I hear you say, “naïveté will meet energetic ridicule! You will retreat in searing disappointment from the vertigo of a sick world, spinning too fast with too many ideas and too many people!”(4) But you are wrong, for this movement has already begun, and it is already a miracle against the impossible.(5) The creation of this book is already evidence of it, and was born of the selfsame movement – it is already not alone. And now it is your turn, you, who are not alone! Wet the quills and wet the clay! The dazzling sunlight of a golden midday awaits: to master the mechanisms of belief and create new gods for our temple, to lift and toil against the plague of identity draped over us and our age like a gloomy fog. In our sweat we connect our pathetic time to the honorable ages and weave it into the tapestry of history, claiming our rightful place on the time-line because it will not happen otherwise. I have finished this work, have shared my muggy intuitions, and here is what I expect from you: cement your work to this cornerstone, and build high! There are thousands of us – this work manifests and augments our might!

So hwaet, and why should I burden you with this book – what are my demands? What does my text want of you? If I may speak for my words, I long to climb with you so we might breathe thin, high air, up and away from the threat of being subsumed in the romance of a lost era! We point toward the ages because our time disappoints; because there is little in it that knits us into the timeline of history; because intuition as necessity is rarely amplified and celebrated in the efficiency of our over-educated doldrums; because we intuit philosophy woven of music and measure, but we cannot weave popular knowledge from this intuition; because we are complacent as our acquisitive culturalists greed for markets against our revaluations; because we await the alternative to being mystical or being scientific so we can deconstruct the impediments forcing us into one identity or the other; because this text wants to provoke that which would let us be more than a species so uncoordinated that we cannot conspire effectively. Technology needed a hundred years to catch up to epistemology – o, we have arrived! Peer behind the curtain while I peel it back, enter the wonder cabinet for a spell. Depart, sate with vigor and wide eyes, resolving to climb higher and make art of which we can be proud!

3. Kant commences his morality text by categorizing philosophy into questions of physics, logic and ethics.(6) The present work identifies a fresh metaphysics emerging from an ambitious synthesis of modern physics, chaotic metaethics, and a radical logical approach. This is an eyes-wide metaphysics radiating woodstove comfort. It wants to reconcile the beauty of existence in nature with the information-century’s uncomfortable bright, for what comfort can we have as experts of paradox and nihilism? What solace in a heritage of unsatisfying alternatives to pessimism which leave us longing firm, natural ground on which Self can stand? In this ground we begin – we either carve the caves into which the monks of our time resign from the world, or we watch a golden culture’s reappropriated future take root. For we are placed squarely in nature’s god-less world and we must not mistake the crossroads. We must think and make in a culture which tells us it is “born astride of a grave” – we must somehow do more than gesture obscenely as we plummet!(7)

Our lonely century encourages us to take comfort in pure nature, Self fully in the world, soothed by the glow of technology’s industry-fires, ever forward, always warm. The metaphysics of God is dead, and the metaphysics of Idea seems beyond belief or demonstration. Belief can only be as deep or sacred as use-value and easy suspension. Torn from the serenity of oneness with God or the romantic spirit in nature, the modern Self can only take comfort in a malformed positivism even as we must ignore the dissonance. We are told, ‘all will be explained in time, for we know positively that there is no more to know than our natural observations tell us – full stop!’(Footnote 1) And this is somehow reasonable. But physics does not resolve the science of knowledge with, for example, the incomprehensible actuality of supermassive black holes or of quantum tunneling – the actual veracity of the real universe. Logic gives us two choices: concede that perception is hopelessly deficient, or ignore mathematical irrationality, build bridges, and get things done.

What then of physics, logic, and ethics in our toxic time? We apply one logic or the other and wonder that ethics is trapped, either hoping and failing to demonstrate a useless metaphysics, or reducing all description of the moral sense to psychology. Epistemology is still giddy blind from fresh parallels to the binary logic of software – it can finally describe the brain as a complex computer with logical limitations. Metaphysics, the “god of the gaps”, finds only slimmer shadows in which to hide!(8) This insight alone is comfort enough, science tells us. And the New Age alternative is worse: a lie of coexistence, personal serenity, and harmony with a world grinning and bursting with genocide, industrial slaughterhouses, money lust, nuclear advance, starvation, injustice, a ravished environment, sex traffic, homelessness, civil dysfunction, broken office slaves, opprobrious politics, and myriad sundry nightmares. Worse still, we are weak, averse to strength, philosophically complacent!(9) Have we not yet outgrown logic? A sense persists beneath the paste of irony slathered over our century that physics could resolve philosophy’s basic, fundamental problems. This sense refuses our need to ignore it, but far from meeting the challenge to synthesize logic and ethics, physics fails to synthesize itself internally – it fails to find its own ‘theory of everything’. Our Information Age is self-foiling; science educators are frustrated that students think we already know everything – they must educate that science is incomplete! They must actually teach that our internet search engines cannot reveal everything there is to know – that there is much we have not yet discovered… that there is work to be done! Do we already sense that ubiquitous information trains against wonder? Even as physics dissolves wonder with its compulsion to explain, it delivers impossibilities in conflict with its own axioms. Minds outsourced to the network, we suspend belief that all information must exist on the network. Our scurrilous social critics stoke the fire and tell us we are mere fragment-swarms of experience, incapable of focusing the discombobulation. But this does not describe what we know and what we experience. We tingle with the sense that our age is pregnant with a creative aesthetics we could almost call human, and focusing, the metaphor is inverted: the ‘science of the gaps’ surrounded by the wonder stripped from us in the reign of empiricism. So this book rides with the Don Quixotes of our time – our idiocy will improve our absurd world before we are done!

It can only be idiocy to strive against our ‘all good’ age of comparison and complacency – here we lie, stunned into smiles and stasis, and the spirit of experimentation is exchanged for data democracy. What is to be done? We can destroy or we can infiltrate, but for my purposes I would have science do the dirty work for me, to unfold itself and show us the deeps of its gutty-works. Launching our revolution from the inside, we can preserve science and maintain the mainstream, let the mainstream flaunt and expose the radical principles at its core, un-do itself, and to show these principles at play even in the existential domain of ethics. The synthesis, a metaphysics of wonder,(Footnote 2) does not want to influence the diurnal roll of physics or logic, but it can confront ethics and let us answer for ourselves the question, ‘what should we do?’ and ‘how should we live?’(10) This naive call to synthesize physics beyond Newton, logic beyond Wittgenstein, and ethics beyond Nietzsche can only fail to accomplish such a hopeless vision; let us at least share fresh air and unexpected summit views of our very big tiny little world.

Acknowledging that every point in this cursory work requires elaboration, but, in the interests of semination and saturnine surrender, this work of reasoned arguments arguing against the efficacy of reason now strides toward its misfortune; your author prefers to regard the mess an imprecise draft, only ‘good enough for jazz’.

4. But ‘good enough for jazz’ is never good enough for complete knowledge; surely, Truth’s deep validity draws from crisper hertz and less murky notes. When we build suspension bridges, surgery robots, and complicated things upon which lives or money depend, we use irrational numbers, especially the murky value pi. Pi is the measurement of the number of times a circle’s diameter can go around the circle. It cannot be calculated to a conclusion, and there is no pattern in the infinite string of numbers to the right of the decimal. If we immerse ourselves in the idea of what we are trying to calculate, the problem makes perfect sense: how far should we zoom-in on the curve of a circle until we find indivisible points that connect to form the circle, and how could those points be indivisible? Vexed that we can always zoom-in further, numbers never describe a curve precisely as long as the circle’s sides remain divisible. The practical world pretends at precision, even as the wondrous incalculability of pi foils our concept of precision with a precise defiance we can admire. Behold the subject who believes firmly that they are individual, trying to individuate the points that make up a circle while the circle giggles at the effort, endlessly, with an infinite and unrepeating string of integers, mocking the impotence of number!

Continuation and flux contradict identity and individuation: reality and existence is comprised exclusively of curved continuae, yet the consequence hamstrings us with no perfect means to measure or express anything but angles and digits. Communication individuates meaning into the geometry of words, static symbols and numbers, as data of perception fail to expose underlying reality faithfully, the actual with which we are existentially continuous. Words dream the world of the Cartesian matrix – a spider web of stasis snaring the flux of entities and force, translating the flailing dance of existence into starchy nouns. So are we in fact continual with the world, are we individual against it, or does the world demonstrate its deepest contradiction to individuation through the existence of life? We open our mouths but cannot complain, for our tools are bound to our logic – we digitize the continuum, but the conceptual starting and stopping of that which is continuous skips much of the original analogue: parts can never describe the wave, yet our most basic understanding of things is a mode of delimited individuation, a ‘parts paradigm’.(Footnote 3) Humans invented their logic as the parity of measurement and perception – saving us from zooming-in to the place where we would see that logic is defective even as it is adequate as an all-purpose cerebral operating system. And yet we greet our every day as the living representation of the material and the reality of whatever this universe ‘is’, whatever we actually are!

No one has ever known the value of pi – we could say that every attempt to calculate it has failed, and that the validity of mathematics depends on this situation. Calculating pi has us dividing and dividing into an infinity of digits to the right of the decimal, with no pattern in the result, no hope that its dance will stop at a static value. At the threshold of what passes for precision, we must stop ourselves each time we attempt to calculate pi if we wish to build anything, and call it ‘good enough for jazz’, or the process of calculating would never end, and our bridges would never be built; we must stop ourselves at adequate knowledge. In this way, pi is a value that we cannot know, though we speak of it with casual intimacy. So what of ‘knowledge’? What of epistemology? Can it only be precise in the impossible context of the abstract flatness beneath the mind’s eye? In each bridge we build, the knowledge that it will eventually fall apart forces us to confront the truth that we can never actually be precise, only ever precise enough. But we are clever sleight-of-mind experts, swapping perspective and conviction with our passion about the truth of things and our intoxicated complacency with the adequate. An awesome skyscraper does not inspire the thought, ‘now there is a great deal of irrationality’, but irrationality is baked into every brick!

If only we knew that our approximation and interpretation reflects the physical nature of the actual – climb with me and see! This book presents the reader with a metaphorical mountaineering expedition, a long trail, taking us from a sea-level view of reality, high into the mountains to a place where we behold that which is beyond what we have presumed is the end of the trail. When we arrive at the terminus and break through the thunderhead concealing the final heights, we will stand with a fresh fire in our eyes, basking in the radiance of early sunlight, at a new sea-level in the foamy sky, beholding a previously invisible massif. Departing on our first adventure then, we sprint uphill with light feet, into the high mountains of philosophy to a desolate peak, scaling the icy face to a lonely and infrequently visited summit: the lowly, foundational topic of individuation, the basic ontological idea that individual things exist.(Footnote 4) Let us pause here, half-way up our climb, and hoist ourselves onto the slippery perch from which we grapple with the gospel that we can perceive individual things – we behold vast problems. With the grand vista before us, we are saturated with confidence in our certainty that we have a clear view of the world’s bounty of the discrete and the individual. Only half-way up the mountain, this is no time to stop climbing! At the extreme of this work, I argue that the traditional theoretical apparatus of philosophy squats precariously at this perch, crouched on simple errors in the first principles of logic and our expectations of language; both are related to the error of individuation. I expect that massaging these errors will deliver fresh questions from new summits that were hidden to our view by the dense and creamy clouds of our convictions.

We are in old company in our ambitious climb, for Heraclitus wrestled with similar problems at the genesis of Western thought – my musings assume his flux physics axiom that “all things move and nothing remains still”.(11) This is good company, encouraging the intoxication of wonder inspired by our golden age of physics, especially evidence that the behavior of what we call individual particles suggests impertinent questions by introducing ambiguity about the existence of ‘one’ things. Be sure, before deigning to write, your author ransacked the libraries of literature, philosophy, and science, seeking some reflection of my intuitions, some indication that my insights had been seen already by others. Anxious to learn that there was no need to write, nothing to contribute, that my brothers and sisters were many – this was in vain! And so I scribble, evoking Heraclitus and the turbulent physics of our time.

Yet in these thoughts I find neither Heraclitus nor modern physics satisfy my questions on individuation. I demand a tour of the world from which logic derives its funny first principles, a fantasy place devoid of chaos and entropy, where time can be paused and Relativity ignored. Particle physics renders the material, individuated substance of fundamental particles ambiguous at best, and some theorists are even certain that particles as such do not exist at all, rather that unindividuated fields account for quantum mechanics; in this book, I agree with them.(12) But what kind of reality is this which contains no particles, where quantum physics is about something other than quantities, where perhaps the entire cosmos is naught but a dance of natural forces, where our most advanced science cannot identify individual things at the foundation of the actual world? My central claim is heretical: our conviction in the very parts paradigm that defines modern, scientific understanding of the world is the cause of our cancerous irrealism. If physics cannot identify ‘one’ things, where are the things that math pretends to count? We need nothing more than our inability to calculate pi to a conclusion to see that mathematics ignores the existential consequences of knowing that the world contains no countable things, that reality bears nothing which corresponds to the poetics of counting.

5. One point of physical correspondence is all we need to kick-start the confident march of the chain of reason. Otherwise, logic and reason are tautological – logic self-validates by asserting that it is sound because it is reasonable, while reason asserts that it is reasonable because it is logically sound. Hear the mountainside echo of our confused battle-cry, our roaring confidence with contradiction: ‘space and time are relative!’, ‘matter can phase in and out of existence!’, ‘one plus one always equals two!’. It is nice that we can imagine ‘one’ things in the abstract, but we can, with equal effort, imagine all manner of abstract fantasy; if physics does not demonstrate fundamental unities, logic asks us to subscribe to the fantastic. With no physical correspondence between the number ‘one’ and a thing we can use that number to count, we must reject the idea that logic and mathematics corresponds to nature – we must conclude that nature is illogical, or that our logic is unnatural, or both. Quantum physics and Relativity have revealed a reality so strange that physics fails in its goal to produce a simple, regular expression of the world; it grimaces with the defeated visage of irrealism because it is dependent on the truth and solidity of mathematics – because it is based on a mathematics it knows it cannot trust.(Footnote 5) While the conclusions of physics expose the erroneous nature of the very logic that physics uses to reach its conclusions, showing that reality is that kind of reality, we unearth a surprising correlation between reality and the underlying tautology of abstract logic. Individuation is the intrinsic error, but let us chuckle at the irony while we sigh at the results: it took a physics of individuation (quantum physics, a physics of individuated quantities), to conclude that the error is built into reality as much as it is built into the nature of perception. Whether it is humans perceiving nature, or reality perceiving itself, the central error shows us that reality is, by nature, built on principles that are incongruous, erroneous to human perception and logic – real principles of absurdity. Deriving its universal reasoned order from unreasonable foundations, our error is born in not seeing that the actual is an error, and the exception tells us something about the actual.

Even in our scientifically empowered century, we lack the bravery to confront this tautology: when we ask the physicist to demonstrate the validity of the numbers used to produce their results, they direct us to the mathematician; and when we ask the mathematician to demonstrate the correspondence that they surmise between the first number and the idea of an individual, physical thing in the world, they direct us to the physicist. Both believe or pretend that the other has the answer, but neither can give physical validity or a correlation between the first number and an individual thing. It makes little difference in our everyday lives – the idea of individual things, and the assumption of a correlation between atoms, particles, and the actual world, is adequate, matching our perception and grounding sufficient reason. Should it surprise us that reason has its roots in assumption and interpretation, in an epistemology of adequacy, an epistemology we import into all we do, a theory preceding all theory? We outsource the more ancient, recondite questions to our scientists and presume that they have good answers to the orphaned questions – better answers than those given by Heraclitus or Parmenides two thousand years ago. In the end, no answers satisfy. Our best answers are engineered to explain-away, to wiggle from the discomfort by taking refuge in epistemological irrealism – holding that observations reflect observations, never a deeper correspondence to the actual world. At the scale of human perception from our high perch half-way up the mountain, we never doubt that there are individual things, and even if we agree hypothetically that there are no individual things, we can still imagine how we would need to invent logic and assume the axiom that there are individual things, just to go about our lives and make sense of our perspective and what we seem to sense.

Consider the mathematician and the physicist, the contrasting ontologies which inform their belief in what is real, and the degree to which they believe that their study is related to the actual world. The mathematician believes that the universe is ontologically and existentially compatible with the logical reality of abstraction – the raw logic of the world that abstraction abstracts – that the absurdities of mathematics are in some way real. While logic wants to be immune from the unsterile mulch of reality, while its axioms are carefully constructed to refer exclusively to an internal consensus on the rules of reason, even still it is dependent on physics through its dependency on the principle of individuation; logic assumes that physics will back up its assumption that individual things exist, to save it from being no more than sophistic fancy. In this way, mathematics is a realist position, energized by a free-flowing wonder that it is all real, no matter how absurd it seems. Physics, on the other hand, cannot reconcile the impossible ontology of its findings, following instead an ontology of rational irrealism, forever skirting wonder by trying to force the square peg of quantum physics into the round hole of Newtonian ontology, and defaulting, in the end, to a wonderless irrealism in the face of manifest absurdity.

Wonder dissolves in the acid of irrealist exegesis, an out of control and never-ending cycle! Perhaps we would never have suspected, but academic specialization has divorced the philosophies of physics and mathematics, despite the expectations of a correlation between the two that we inherited from the strong Enlightenment era foundations of both. These were reasonable expectations, based on how far down we could physically individuate at that particular time in scientific history. With an ever-expanding view of the universe, we once believed that atoms were the smallest things, even before we could demonstrate their actual physical existence, that deeper cuts were conceptually impossible. ‘One’ thing could easily be counted with the number ‘one’, and the correlation between the two concepts was clear. Reason thrives on this species of reduction, and it worked because the atom was a reasonable mythology, theoretical and completely out of the scope of our ability to see, direct, or demonstrate – we intentionally left ourselves no option but to suspend belief in the theory; the concept made sense to reason, which is all we needed to ignore our lack of concrete understanding – it made sense that if atoms were bigger, we could interact with them and gain the understanding we lack, so we proceeded with that assumption. This is that species of common knowledge that “makes us feel at home”, as Nietzsche described it, knowledge that tastes like a home-cooked meal.(13) Not yet knowing the subatomic realm, we believed that the ghostly atom gave us a reasonable basis for the number ‘one’. Physics requires this threshold of adequacy; physical axioms must be unverifiable, just beyond the capability of experiment, a specter of pure theory as a functional mythology, something we have no means to prove – indeed, metaphysics. And as our sciences develop, we must constantly move the goal posts to ensure that axiom is beyond observation, so that axioms replace and reflect metaphysics.

The word atom means ‘uncuttable’. The idea of an uncuttable thing exposes the hidden requirement of all science and logic: a standard, indivisible base unit, an exclusive, explicit, unquestioned, foundational unity upon which the reasoned, abstract concepts of logic and math draw their universal validity and a priori assumptions. Science eventually showed us that the atom could indeed be cut, that the number one does not apply to atoms beyond the blurry lines of language. In reality, an atom is composite, a compound thing made-up of sub-atomic parts such that the ‘part’ that we call an atom can never represent that which we want and need the concept of a part to represent: something conclusively small enough to use the number ‘one’ to count. Epistemology and logic are built atop this conclusion in the same way that physics is built on metaphysics, built upon what could be called a principle of adequacy, the epistemological model I support in this book. One could hold that there are no atoms, and it is only by grouping the basics of reality together in a way that is congruous with perception that we are comfortable inventing the word ‘atom’ to describe the grouping, but an atom never attains actual thingness or partness as a consequence of our grammatical decisions – it is only a noun in our language, never an actual, cohesive thing in reality. Consequently, to call an atom a ‘one’ thing is to speak with a shaky metaphor, a physics of poetry that can never identify a truly indivisible unit corresponding to the number ‘one’. So we agree and concede to speak only in metaphor, for we love the convenience of adequacy and we are most comfortable pretending at the absolute – we love to believe that science can be translated into language and that language can aspire beyond metaphor. Are we brave enough to realize that not just the atom, but all things shoulder this irony, that all things are actually like this?

Newton’s Principia tried to put solid ground under humanity’s feet in 1687 with a systematic explanation of nature and math in a non-mystical correlation. The 20th Century still presumed this correlation as science uncovered Relativity and Quantum Theory and began wrestling with their irreconcilability.(Footnote 6) The more advanced, precise, accurate, and rigorous science became, the more it showed us that Newton was naive to pause at the elegance of simple dynamics and calculus. But out of necessity, quantum physics imports the same tradition of naïveté by interpreting reality with statistics, proposing that light and other sub-atomic phenomena exist as quantities that can be counted clearly and discretely – as parts. And this is the crux of the problem: parts and probability are not soluble in logic – the combination breaks reason even as it adheres to the laws of reasoned science. The essential unverifiability requirement of science and mathematics is again exposed, but this time, the foundational ‘one’ is suppressed even further down the scale of perspective from the atomic to the sub-atomic, and again entirely beyond the scope of any means to confirm the theory – with reason satisfied theory is forever safe from epistemology by the principle of adequacy. And though we now have the means to photograph ‘individual atoms’, no one has ever observed sub-atomic particles directly.(14) At the sub-atomic scale, we can no longer observe anything – direct experience is replaced by the indirect observation of statistical extrapolation, so we must rely on belief: belief in the truth of our mathematical tools, a mythology framed in the legitimacy of logic, to give us confidence that there is something in the physical world, the world that corresponds to the physical, human experience, that we can use our invented number ‘one’ to count.

Quantum physics uses the Newtonian paradigm to demonstrate that the Newtonian model does not correlate to nature – it assumes mechanism, atomism, and a statistical framework to propose an ontology of probability. It wants a correlation between Newton’s math and the idea of individual things, then obscures the errors in mist, referring to individual things as ‘clouds of probability’. Indeed, clouds are an appropriate symbol of the ontologically insubstantial, what I call entitation in contrast to being or becoming – the inexorable brute force and swirling change that water embodies in a form so ephemeral that it floats and dissolves in the sky.(15) The correlation of reason to the actual fails fundamentally, falling flat at the cornerstone of counting, the original individuating one. Theory resists interpretation, and as long as we keep things correlated to math, we achieve the observational goals of the theory.(Footnote 7) But observation for observation’s sake is a perversion of science’s original purpose to understand deep reality – meanwhile our academies leech from the same spirit of wonder that burns in the hearts of all candle-side scientists! Under all of it is a theory of knowledge establishing the logical tautology, hard-coded in the language of individuation, ensuring we import ontological expectations into our new scientific models by way of language. It is only reasonable to default to irrealism, prodded further down the path toward observation for observation’s sake.

And why should we not import these expectations? Physics has become so strange that it leaves us bamboozled – we confront new rules but struggle to adjust logic such that language works against us when we try to interpret quantum theory and turn laboratory statistics into meaningful knowledge. With our antiquated epistemological axioms we stand no chance against a new ontology that introduces a principle of individuation rooted in probability. The models proposed in quantum physics, and in this work, identify real objects in precisely such an observer constricted mode of real, manifest probability. The very science that provides a new model forces an irreconcilable contradiction – quantum physics delivers an ontology of real things that are only probably real, realism built from irrealism, the actual from the probable.

6. Mathematics and physics are allies unaware that they are at war with each other, each the necessary tautology of the other; physics relies on the world described by mathematics, and math requires the ontology assumed by classical physics. Of course, we should expect science to correspond with the world of mathematics if math is a faithful translation of the actual world into the one we perceive, for math proceeds on the presumption that the actual world is complimentary to logic we perceive. In this way the faculty of abstraction and the axioms of mathematics are obviously physics-dependent, that is, they depend upon the idea that we have a rational grasp of the physical reality we are counting and calculating; the abstract is in some fundamental way always dependent on the most basic limits of our unshakable trust in the empirical actual. So we ask: does physics correspond to our world or solely to its own abstract models? The tautology reciprocates as congestion of scientia – science as knowledge of the actual, clashing with knowledge that the actual is absurd: physics and logic protect each other from epistemology in an exchange of friendly-fire. Philosophy succumbs in the melee, for science has learned to refuse to make the ‘correspondence claim’: it will never claim that observations correspond to the actual nature of the world, only that observations explain observations, and that further inquiry never transcends blind speculation. Science is strategically buttressed for combat with philosophy, armored in an epistemological framework based on a principle of individuation that it negates by its own discoveries.

And what becomes of metaphysics in the cowardice? When science is afraid of the shadow of epistemology that it casts, neither will commit to a statement on what is really ‘out there’, only that science has made this or that reasonable observation under repeatable conditions. Can science be proud of such a legacy in the 21st Century? On the other hand, Lady Philosophy is bored and has retreated from a rich history of speculative metaphysics to her ivory towers, exasperated, refusing to speak on that which she does not know outside of academic journals that no one reads.(16) She has pivoted from exploring the vital face of reality toward unsatisfying scholastic social criticism born in the steamworks of our charming ‘publish-or-perish’ culture. Math, physics, and philosophy delimit each other in an anemic fugue and give us thin milk on the essence of the actual, even then only in the journals of specialists or the popularized drivel of entertainment and spectacle.(17) We expect too much – a gift beyond the limited specifications we have imposed since Einstein’s annum mirabilis. Theories of knowledge are stalled in an impotent debate between realists and irrealists: the former want to demonstrate that their theories really correlate to the real world ‘out there’, while the latter believe evidence of correlation is categorically impossible and that the realist’s only evidence is to pound a fist percussively on the table and declare, ‘really!’ We are mired in the mess for two reasons: because the only people engaging the issue are solely focused on the promise of self-advancement, and because we have not been clever or agile enough to leap the pitfalls of epistemology. Inheritors of Heraclitus, great job!

While mathematicians maintain a safe, quasi-mystical realism, physicists are resolutely irrealist, and who can blame them? What brave soul would argue realism for either of the two flagship theories of modern physics, Quantum Theory and Relativity? Quantum Theory declares, among other inconceivable things that matter steps in-and-out of existence, travels through barriers, and exists at more than one place at a time, and Relativity implies that basic concepts like space, time, and motion do not exist. The irreconcilability of these two theories is as natural as lightning striking water; quantum physics shows that reality does not concord with logic when we analyze the world of the very small, and Relativity defends a surreal ontology to resolve the errors of our studies of the very big. Our two most advanced modern scientific theories bear no resemblance to traditional science, disturbing our sense that we understand reality at all – we retreat to the safety of adequacy and irrealism to keep logic intact. To their credit, scientists move with an impressive, confident stride, even as they exculpate themselves from responsibility to resolve the disparity, denying speculation and metaphysics with a seasoned, hostile posture. Let us marvel at the fact that we were more courageous and confident in our grasp of reality in the science-deprived dark-ages than we are in our scientific modern era, an era in which we have made ourselves sick on an overplus of science and reason! So while our two best theories refuse each other, they continue unimpeded by each other or themselves because neither is courageous enough to have anything to do with the world outside of the laboratory – to defend the idea that the theoretical model corresponds to any real world ‘out there’; cowering before logic, neither will stand their ground.(18) But we cannot let go, and we soldier on as irrealists, grabbing at the water with the mindless grasp of a newborn’s fingers. Science is not hampered by its inadequacy to unveil the nature of the world – its blind priority is to maintain reason’s Apolline laws and advance ambitious researchers.(19)

Einstein himself was an exception, whose brave theoretical creativity gave us, singlehandedly, the foundations of both theories, and who believed that beyond being a useful model for explaining scientific observation, Relativity describes the ontologically real world ‘out there’. My argument supports Einstein’s realism, while declining his rejection of a probability-based ontology.

7. While physics requires that a mathematics of reality must speak the language of probability, mathematics requires that physics speak with precision about the concept that there are discrete things to count; they both make demands on each other that neither can honor. In this way, science and mathematics are tautological to each other – they are each others’ necessary contradiction. Consequently, epistemologers will never have the tools they need to demonstrate that they can never derive a useful resolution, because they must individuate meaning with words, observation with number, natural ratio with formula, utilizing the selfsame erroneous principle of individuation resourced by mathematics. But this does not quell our yearning toward what is ultimately possible in science or philosophy, and both skip along the fool’s merry path, ignoring the fact that we have pinned ourselves to conclusions before we even begin to experiment or make observations. Individuation, quantifaction, and analysis can only parody precision, delivering only adequacy.

The existentialist chimes-in: ‘and what of Self? In this, I know I am speaking conclusively about a one thing – a simplex, which I know intimately and with first-hand, a priori evidence. Am I, in-myself and at rest, not a ‘one’ thing, as I most certainly know myself to be?’ In this work, I argue that Self is an illusory complex, an entity corresponding to my argument on individuation. As a sensing thing interpreting sensory data, Self confuses and complicates the correlation of qualities of existence to nature; our recourse is to interpret psychology as neurology, such that we can remain consistent with physics. So the complication only aids my argument about Self: that this ‘one’ thing to which we ourselves can refer, which we think we experience clearly and distinctly as a real, individual thing, is real, but not individual. Existentially, we know Self is real because we know and sense we are here – we know we are succeeding against non-existence, and we can use this certain knowledge as the basis of our understanding and definition of what is ‘real’ and what is required to have a ‘reality’ about which we might philosophize. We witness ourselves thinking, and we experience the way our will acts on our body – through this we gain direct knowledge of the physics of force on material, and concrete understanding of what we call the ‘real’; if we say anything is real, only existence of Self can serve as a dependable basis of how we cast this definition. But this is conditional realism, and this work rejects surprising epistemologies as readily as it accepts startling ontologies: I assume we are not dreamers dreaming the universe, disembodied minds living within a computer simulation, side effects of the Matrix, etc. The basic experience of Self suggests that existence is definitively real, and in this work I presume that the real world manifests to us individually, by extension of the material reality in which we are embedded, of which we ourselves are a physical, neurological extension regardless of our standard of substance and material. Reality itself appears to be dreaming the dreamer that dreams reality into existence, so we must analyze Self as force of nature if we declare that the actual consists of forces and nothing more besides. Not, “I think therefore I am” as a basis for realism, but rather, ‘I exist, and whatever I experience as real is as close to the actual as I can ever get, or need to get, to speak definitively on reality’; not ‘I am that I am’, but, ‘I do that I am what does’: here is the crucial overlap of perceived reality and deep reality, of the real and the actual. Beyond that, our hope can only be to find a correlation between reality and the actual.
The final argument of this work dissolves individual Self in a paradigm informed by the intuition that Self is that part of us by which we are continuous with the actual, physical world, even as Self is a fractal reflection of the fractured world we know through particle physics. With evidence that Self fluctuates, revolts against itself, modulates, reforms, and, like all things, is not individual, we can see Self as a protean entity requiring no individuation outside of how we interpret perception. So we arrive at the first cornerstone of my metaphysics: an irrealist realism rooted in a realist existentialism, that would refer to the irrealism of quantum physics to support Relativity’s inherent realism.


1. Physicists know that we only know what we can discover through abstract math and duplicable experiments. For the non-scientist, this translates to: here is what we know, and we know no more.(back)

2. Metaphysikos to Thaumatos.(back)

3. Cf. Appendix F: “Digital vs. Analogue Audio Waves”.(back)

4. Principium Individuationis. Cf. Suarez, Schopenhauer, Jung, Deleuze, Bohm, et al.; cf. Section G: “Physics”.(back)

5. Irrealism is the belief that knowledge does not correspond to the actual and is a complex topic with many forms. Realism is the belief that we can have knowledge of what the world is really like. As an example, a realist might say, a stone is hard, while an irrealist might say that the mind thinks that a stone is hard but has no proof beyond the mind.(back)

6. Relativity and Quantum Theory disagree with each other on a fundamental level, and we have not been able to reconcile the disparity. (back)

7. There are at least a half-dozen conflicting interpretations of the findings of quantum theory (cf. Section G: “Physics”), including Many Worlds, Ensemble, Transactional, Copenhagen, and others. There is no consensus among scientists on these interpretations, and excellent arguments for and against each.(back)

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