Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Worldview in Aphorisms

I've wanted to publish a systematic exposition of my worldview for a long time, but the fear of being vain has made me hesitate. However, a friend really wants me to publish this kind of overarching philosophical perspective, and so I agreed.

What will follow is a line by line take on how I see the world at the present moment. This perspective will likely change in the future, so don't take anything I say here as definitive or authoritative. Think of it as a snapshot of my intellectual development. 

You can think of this worldview largely as a synthesis of three thinkers: Gottfried Leibniz in his Monadology, Ludwig Wittgenstein in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and the Mormon theologian Adam S. Miller (as seen in his work Rube Goldberg Machines). Moreover, this work will be written aphoristically, or rather in the style of both Wittgenstein and Leibniz (and, at times, Miller).

Also, this post could be considered very dense. Be warned.
  1. I will call the most basic constituent of reality an "intelligence".
  2. Intelligences are without number.
  3. All intelligences are simple and impenetrable.
  4. All intelligences are conscious.
  5. All intelligences exist independent of space and time (meaning that they are eternal).
  6. All intelligences exist in a field of infinite possibility.
  7. An intelligence's possibility consists in the possibilities of its relationships with other intelligences.
  8. By an intelligence, I mean the same thing as Leibniz's monad, Wittgenstein's object/entity, or even Descartes' "I am".
  9. In order for an intelligence to perceive other intelligences, it must group them.
  10. I will call these perceptual groupings of intelligences "facts".
  11. Most specifically, a fact is a way of perceiving intelligences in connection with other intelligences.
  12. My "fact" is Wittgenstein's "picture". I differ from his conception in my belief that all "grouping" occurs through perception, and not in reality.
  13. When perceived as part of a fact, intelligences lose certain possibilities.
  14. In other words, to perceive an intelligence will negate certain possibilities or connections that it has in itself.
  15. Facts can include each other.
  16. You are an intelligence
  17. The world you see around you is a fact, or the evidence of your relationship with other intelligences.
  18. The world you see through your eyes is a fact that includes all intelligences that are visible (i.e. those that become perceptual through vision)
  19. This works for the worlds of hearing, taste, touch, and smell, respectively.
  20. The spiritual world is a fact including all intelligences that are visible to your spiritual eyes.
  21. The spiritual world, as the spiritual world, cannot be perceived by the five senses. This means that intelligences cannot become perceptual through them, insofar as they become manifest spiritually.
  22. The spiritual world is perceived though emotion. Your emotions are your spiritual eyes.
  23. Your body is a fact. It includes the intelligences and facts that make up your organs, cells, molecules, etc..
  24. Your spirit is a fact. It includes the intelligences and facts that make up your emotions, desires, etc..
  25. A spirit appears to your emotions as a body.
  26. Your soul is the fact that includes both your body and your spirit.
  27. Jung's archetypes are spiritual facts that exist both within, alongside, and above your spiritual body.
  28. Swedenborg saw this spiritual world, as have countless others.
  29. The fact that our emotions, desires, etc. are visible through physical observation (say, through brain imaging) is due to the fact that certain intelligences are visible by both spiritual and physical eyes.
  30. Intelligences can arrange themselves differently for different senses (hence the dissimilarity between a brain and a spirit body).
  31. Space (or rather, extension) is a perceptual form of certain intelligences. That is to say, space is a way by which certain intelligences become manifest to other intelligences.
  32. This is also true for time.
  33. Though we see reality through facts, every fact excludes an almost infinite number of possibilities from our perception.
  34. What we see is only a small fragment of what is.
  35. In this respect Plato and Schopenhauer are correct.
  36. However, this hidden world does not lie in progressively generic abstraction. It lies in what we exclude from our picture of reality.
  37. This hidden world is greater than ours because it includes possibilities this world leaves out.
  38. The atonement is, above all else, a connecting principle.
  39. The atonement assembles facts.
  40. Thus, the atonement brings to perceptual light those possibilities that are hidden or buried.
  41. This is what is meant by repentance. Repentance is the unearthing of our excluded possibilities - our renewed ability to connect with other parts of being.
  42. These observations can explain the Book of Mormon's peculiar historicity. The Book of Mormon is a fact that depicts previously unmanifest portions of history. It is history post-repentance.
  43. To sin is to cling to a fact, and refuse to let the atonement displace it with something more comprehensive.
  44. This is the essence of the Buddha's teachings on desire,
  45. All sin is idolatry.
  46. To sin is to negate possibility.
  47. To sin is to refuse connection.
  48. The result of sin is death. Death is negated possibility or connection.
  49. Spiritual death is the negation of our soul's connection with God.
  50. Physical death (the result of Adam's sin) is the negation of our body's connection with our spirit. Or rather, it is the negation of the fact that is the soul.
  51. Resurrection is how the atonement reconnects the body and the spirit as a fact.
  52. When we are resurrected, the facts of our spirit and our body are reunited in a new, greater, fact.
  53. Resurrection makes the spiritual and the physical indistinguishable.
  54. Every human relationship is a fact.
  55. A relationship is a resurrection for both members. It participates both members in a new way of being.
  56. It reveals new possibilities and connections for both people.
  57. This resurrection, like all others,  is powerful to the extent that that there are differences to connect.
  58. A homogeneous connection is weak to the extent that it is homogeneous.
  59. Gay marriage is objectionable in this way: namely, that it tries to connect what is already identical.
  60. For it is not primarily the man and the woman that connect in a marriage, but the fact that he is a man  and the fact that she is a woman.
  61. Marriage should not thought of as a way to achieve satisfaction, but as a way by which a new fact can be manufactured.
  62. A marriage is a way by which unique possibilities can be actualized.
  63. Marriage as a fact can only occur through tension (i.e. incommensurable difference) between the sexes.
  64. Eternal marriage respects all that is different without subjecting it to homogeneity.
  65. This subjection is the problem that feminism objects to, and unfortunately, often perpetuates.
  66. The only way to respect both sexes is to regard them as different. All else is chauvinism.
  67. The homogenization of society is nothing more than a way by which people can see others as objects, or as tools for their own preferences.
  68. Eternal marriage respects the most fundamental difference between people, and thus helps us refuse to subject each other to our own preferences and needs.
  69. Eternal marriage is the only way we can respect the other sex as individuals, and not as objects to be desired or shunned.
  70. In an eternal marriage, the partners do not lose their identity, but like the sealing room mirrors, reciprocally contain each other to infinity.
  71. This reflection can only occur with enough distance to see clearly.
  72. The family is a fact.
  73. Humanity is a fact, but only insofar as it is composed of the facts made up by individual families.
  74. The family is the perceptual form of humanity as a whole, much like a tree is the perceptual form of the tree's parts.
  75. I will define God as that intelligence that organized the world's intelligences in a way that they appear consistently to each other.
  76. Without God, the facts made by intelligences would be unpredictable (i.e. unorganized).
  77. This is the essence of George Berkeley's theology.
  78. This principle of organizing intelligences is, in principle, no different from creating a work of art. We differ only in power.
  79. God is human insofar as he appears human to our senses. He is to a human body what a fruit is to a seed.
  80. God is omnipotent in the respect that he dwells in a space of infinite possibility.
  81. God is in one place at one time in the respect that he can appear to us in person. His infinite possibility precludes the limits of absolute space and time.
  82. The priesthood is the potency of God's possibility.
  83. When we overcome sin by means of the atonement, we perceive more and more of reality's possibilities and connections.
  84. This happens to the extent that we live in the present, for the present moment is the point where finite facts dissolve into infinity.
  85. The present is where the light of God's possibility shines through into facts.
  86. Sin wishes to remain in the past or the future. No unclean thing can dwell in the present.
  87. The Celestial Kingdom is a fact that includes all intelligences.
  88. The lesser kingdoms include a smaller number of intelligences. 
  89. A person can be so depraved to be a kingdom (or a fact) only unto himself.
  90. In this respect, being in the Celestial Kingdom is a way of perceiving infinite possibility and infinite connection.
  91. This is what is meant by the ability to create worlds: namely, the ability to perceive any number of facts within the sea of infinite possibility.
  92. We exist eternally and unconditionally in connection with all things. God's work and glory is to have us see this.
  93. Our existence is a journey from "being" to "seeing".
  94. The celestial earth mentioned in D&C 130 is the universe as it appears to a celestial being - one where all things contain each other.
  95. Our destiny is to see ourselves in all people, places, events, ideas, and works of art. 
  96. Similarly, our destiny is to see all of those things in us.
  97. This is eternal life: to be eternally connected to all things. We should settle for nothing less.

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