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Neutral Substance Monism - Any Modeling Potential?

  1. May 25, 2005 #1

    Les Sleeth

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    Neutral Substance Monism -- Any Modeling Potential?

    The purpose of this thread is to ask what potential, if any, monism has for helping to model the nature of the universe, and for filling in certain gaps which we have no satisfactory answers for.

    Monism is the belief that the basis of all existence is either one essence, or one type of entity which might exist in aspects or multiples. The two most influential types of monism have been substance monism and neutral monism.

    Traditionally advocates of substance monism have taken one of two sides declaring all existence is material/physical or that all existence is mental (as in all in our minds and/or all in the mind of God). Here's a quick general run down of types of monism.

    Neutral monism was the last incarnation of monism to gain popularity. Championed by William James and Bertrand Russell, it seems to have taken the form it did to accommodate their empirical commitment, and to avoid the material-mind controversy typical of substance monism. The excellent (though long) article found here is recent and gives insight into the various strategies neutral monists employed to include and avoid specific philosophical traps. (Chalmers fans may find it interesting the author, Leopold Stubenberg, acknowledges Chalmers’ assistance with his article.)

    The neutral monists were opposed to declaring any sort of substance as the basis of the monism, instead cleverly stating their position this way: A basic entity is neutral just in case it is intrinsically neither mental nor physical.. With this strategy, no claims need be made regarding what the basis of the monism is. While that might have been a good starting place for discussion, eventually and naturally it leads one to ponder just what the neutral stuff might be. Quoting from the Stubenberg article:

    “The materialist Quine, for example, has proposed to construe physical objects as ‘classes of quadruples of numbers.’ . . . One version of neutral monism finds the neutral basis in the domain of abstract objects: mind and matter are viewed as information structures. Recently Chalmers has explored this idea in his (Chalmers 1996). But the abstractness of his scheme is limited by the concession that the information states that make up the world might have to be grounded in protophenomenal properties. . . . Sayre, on the other hand, makes no such concession. He holds a pure information view according to which both mind and matter are, ultimately, mathematical structures.”

    The strength of the neutral approach for an empiricist was it allowed one to evaluate sense data in both its physical and mental aspects. As Russell explains, “Accordingly the sensation that we have when we see a patch of colour simply is that patch of colour, an actual constituent of the physical world, and part of what physics is concerned with…But it does not follow that the patch of colour is not also psychical.” On the other hand, acknowledging that doesn’t say anything about what the basis of his monism is. In the end that lack of a suitable model for the neutral stuff undermined interest in neutral monism.

    If neutral and substance monism are logically at odds, then why attempt any fusion between them? One possible reason is to refocus on substance monism, insist that the neutral “stuff” is neither material nor mental, and then see if we can imagine what the neutral substance is and if it can help explain aspects of existence.


    I’ll be a little nostalgic and use the well-worn term esse to name the most basic substance of existence (“esse” here stands for the foundational or ground state substance that is the essence of all existence).

    For this contemplation, assume that there really is one substance that composes everything, and that the reason esse (in the ground state) cannot be observed is because it is too subtle, and too finely dispersed. With that in mind we might start with a few logic points about characteristics esse must have if it is monistic:

    Esse cannot have been created. If it were created, there must have been a time when it didn’t exist, and that gives us a duality of exist and not exist (duality and monism are mutually exclusive).
    Esse cannot NOT exist. For similar reasons as above. Esse can only exist, have always existed, and will always exist.
    Esse must reside in an infinite continuum. If there were any boundary, even a zillion zillion light years away, then we again have duality.
    Esse must be absolutely homogeneous. For the same reason. Even if there were only an infinitesimally minute bubble of nothingness, then it creates the duality of esse and not-esse.
    Everything that we know to exist must be a form of esse. If there is only one absolute substance, then the different things we see, from physicalness to consciousness, must be esse in some form.

    A few more ideas follow from the above:

    Since there can be no spatial breach, the forms esse take (like a planet or ourselves) are understood to not only be composed of and within the primordial continuum of esse, but also wholly connected to (or one with) it.

    To avoid any sort of duality, esse must be seen as true absoluteness in the sense there is nothing more basic or greater than it; there is nothing before or beyond it; there can be no discontinuance of it; there is nothing that is not a manifestation of it; and there is no appearance or behavior which is not 100% (i.e., absolutely) determined by its potentials and limitations.

    Theoretical Value

    Substance monism seems to give us the means for eliminating some long standing philosophical problems, such as the first cause, infinite regress, and the silly “something from nothing” dilemma.

    For example, if we assume that some potential of esse has brought about creation, then to answer first cause we’d reason that there must be conditions present in the infinite eternal esse continuum which can result in our finite temporal universe. Are there clues in creation which might tell us anything about such conditions in the esse continuum? Logic suggests any traits which are universally present throughout creation are the best candidates for exhibiting the nature of the ground state, as well as the conditions which prevail in the esse continuum.

    One of the most ubiquitous trait in the universe is vibration, along with what could be considered oscillatory “effects” like symmetry and polarity (polarity’s relationship to oscillation can be explained as phases of oscillation which become relatively constant). An individual atom may oscillate a trillion times per second, and EM oscillates as it fills space with various vibrating frequencies of radiation. The body of a human being may contain a million trillion frenetically vibrating atoms, while the senses and brain are stimulated by, respond to, and function using oscillatory information.

    Also universally ubiquitous are two powerful forces that have shaped creation: concentration and dispersion. The universe began with the momentous dispersion of the Big Bang, and just before that our universe was somehow concentrated into a miniscule speck smaller than an atom. The universe remains in the grip of that two-phased dynamic, and overall it appears to be one of the most predominating and necessary dynamics of physical existence. Still concentrated from this proposed dynamic is the mass of our universe whose absence would obviously leave a flimsy creation. Yet if matter weren’t diverging, the universe would be static (and a bit cramped to say the least); and if energy were not able to diverge from matter, the universe would be dark, cold, and incapable of supporting life.

    What clues might vibration and concentration/dispersion give us about esse and the continuum in which it resides? Logically, for a universe to form within it, the esse continuum must contain areas that are compressing and decompressing.

    Concentration gives us a major clue about the nature of esse itself when considered together with the vibration observed in the universe. Because the oscillation rate decreases as EM stretches out, clearly concentration accentuates oscillation. We might therefore suppose that in the ground state, esse is vibrant (i.e., sort of super-finely effervescent). Since vibrancy is as quick and fine as esse can possibly get, compression causes it to “wave” at phase points.

    Instead of how we normally think of EM as oscillating faster the more energy it has, this model has EM oscillating faster the more compact it is. What if it is the degree of concentration that’s causing the oscillation rate? And if so, concentration is also what creates potential energy. In other words, potential energy is the “desire” of esse to return to it’s preconcentration relaxed state.

    Continuing a little more with the model, the overall idea is that esse’s vibrancy plus concentration offers a substance basis for the relationship between energy and mass observed in our universe. So since the Big Bang, the universe’s mass has been dispersing because that’s the natural reaction of esse after it’s concentrated; EM are “waves” of relaxation taking place at the point in the esse continuum where our universe is located; atoms are concentrated esse vibrating so fast they “differentiate” into counterbalanced phases (electron-proton), and that counterbalanced aspect is what stabilizes atoms . . .

    I could surmise more, but I’m sure individuals more expert than me could do a better job. My point has been to suggest that substance monism may have potential as a modeling concept. Instead of referring to existence only by measurements of behaviors and variables, we have “something” at the root of it all that allows or causes measurement and variation.

    What’s your opinion?
    Last edited: May 25, 2005
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  3. May 25, 2005 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    I wanted to wait until I posted this thread to answer your question (from my last thread) so that hopefully what I mean by existential “stuff” is more clear.

    Last night I had dinner with long time friends. We occasionally get together for an evening to talk philosophy. It is a diverse group with two agnostics, a devoted Christian but with an open mind, a pantheist, and me who thinks it is easier to account for all aspects of our universe if some type of consciousness is part of the equation.

    My Christian friend is generally supportive of my efforts to include consciousness in creation. However, as we talked about that last night, he became distressed to hear that I don’t think a forever-existing consciousness makes sense. As you know, that is a well-established theological concept in Christianity.

    I explained that if there is something totally “neutral” at the base of existence, then consciousness had to have developed out of that. If the existential stuff is neutral, and if consciousness developed there, then it means mechanical-type accidents (in the esse continuum) have played the primary role in bringing about consciousness. To my friend it seems a horrible thought that what he calls “God” was generated by mechanics and circumstance.

    But to get to your question, I don’t care about anything but what makes sense. I’m not trying to make the development of the universe and consciousness mechanistic and I am not trying make their development spiritual. To me, if we know that consciousness can evolve and a physical universe can develop (proven by the fact that we and it exists), and if all of it has emerged out of existential stuff . . . then the question becomes for me: “what is the most logical explanation for accounting for everything we find in creation.”

    If creation were nothing but matter, then I could most definitely see it emerging straight out of the esse continuum. But that’s not all there is.

    One strange thing we find here is a quality of organization (in biology) that surpasses any known ability of mechanics; a second strange thing is consciousness emanating out of biology. Okay, kick in pure logic. When (leaving biology out of it) you find anything ultra-organized on planet Earth, what’s done it?

    Take a house. No, take just the structure of a house and leave out electricity and any other advanced developments. Find on this planet or another place in the known universe, anything non-living that exhibits the quality of organization of a house frame, a log cabin, a straw cottage, a mud hut . . . that’s not associated with consciousness?

    Based strictly on what we know, when you see organizational quality beyond what can be explained now by chemistry and physics alone, you also see consciousness involved.

    So, it isn’t being parsimonious to exclude the participation of consciousness in the development of creation. If we only rely on the evidence we have, it is most logical to ponder the possibility that consciousness developed first in the esse continuum, that it evolved for countless eons, and then it at least played a part in the highly advanced organizational aspects found here on Earth.
    Last edited: May 25, 2005
  4. May 26, 2005 #3
    Hi Les. Thought-provoking post. I think it's very hard to model diversity while preserving a true single-category ontology, but it is instructive to try.

    In this case the question is: So how does your "abolutely homogeneous" esse generate diversity? You proposed two qualities in esse which might foster this: vibration and concentration/dispersion. Are out of phase vibrating parts of esse still homogeneous? If I concede that, then next is: how did the esse continuum get concentrated in the first place? If it can happen spontaneously, like a large-scale vibration, isn't there a duality between the small-scale and large scale fluctuations which interact to create diversity?

    - Steve
  5. May 26, 2005 #4

    Les Sleeth

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    Hi, Steve, thanks for the comments/questions. You are right to say it is difficult to model diversity with substance monism. I know because I’ve been working on a model for almost 15 years now. I have managed to model all the BIG principles such as four forces (yep, gravity too), the structure of an atom, light speed, time, relativity (I got lots of help from PF members and mentors). To explain most of the concepts fully requires an area of the esse continuum to be in a special type of oscillatory field (which seems to have some resemblance to the proposed Higgs field), and for the universe to be situated in that field. The field is what provides the stability required for physicalness to develop within the normally chaotic esse continuum.

    I didn’t go too much into the ideas that I’ve worked out because I wanted to see what people thought of the monistic concept in general. I’ve let you know that I’ve thought extensively about how a single substance can be everything so that if anyone wants to explore modeling with it, you/they would know I might have something to offer.

    In the meantime, I’d like to tell you a couple of mental strategies I had to adopt to get anywhere with the modeling. First, I think one has to assume that a single substance really is the basis of all existence, what I’m calling esse. By assuming it is true, it helps one to think there is an answer to all the apparent inconsistencies between oneness and diversity.

    Then the next step is to get one’s brain to be obsessively inductive, because there is no other way to model esse except to look at what’s going on in creation. We know creation exists, and we’ve assumed esse is the basis of it. So the strategy becomes, what would esse have to be like to produce X and still not lose the absolute qualities of oneness?

    I’ll use that strategy to answer your questions below.

    Remember, we are going to assign to esse and its continuum whatever qualities it requires to explain what we see in creation, and also to maintain the oneness of esse.

    Because esse is one substance, and because it exists in one infinite ocean, doesn’t mean it can’t have a variety characteristics. I use water analogies a lot because water at least appears homogeneous, is fluid, and resides in oceans. With water we can see it is wet, it is clear, it flows; we can see in its ocean it has dynamics of waves, whirlpools . . .

    Similarly, we can reason that esse has traits like vibrancy and illumination, and that the esse continuum has chaotic dynamics like compression.

    Building off what I said above, you’ve referred to two different types of traits. One is a trait of esse itself (i.e., substance traits), and the other two are dynamical traits of the esse continuum.

    Actually, to get technical, I distinguished between the natural state of vibrancy of esse, which I portray is a super-fine trill almost, and then vibration, which is what happens when esse gets compressed. As you can see, a bit of diversity shows itself already since “vibration” is a combination of substance and dynamical traits. Neither separation nor change in esse’s nature needs to occur.

    You’ll notice I’m sticking to the modeling strategy when I say, the vibrating parts must be homogeneous. The issue then becomes, how do we account for it?

    The way to explain this is, the esse continuum is not compressed in general, but instead possesses compression-decompression dynamics. It seems to me the dynamics that prevail in the esse continuum overall must be chaotic, but that leaves the door open for accidental series of events which might produce an orderly dynamic on occasion. After all, there is infinite room and no time limit. So if a thousand monkeys can be imagined to type a novel by accident, it doesn’t seem so far fetched to imagine an extended run of order accidentally develops out of otherwise chaotic esse continuum dynamics.

    No duality is necessary. To explain let me give you a crude esse model of a hydrogen atom. Based on what I said earlier, this model won’t quite work because a type of polarized esse field is necessary for it to make sense, but I think you’ll see what I’m trying say about homogeneity.

    Have you observed how a stretched rubber band, when plucked, temporarily appears constantly present at the two extremes of its oscillating range? We don’t think either phase of the rubber band has actually separated from the whole during that oscillation. It’s a potential of counterbalanced oscillation to establish relative constancy at the extremes once it moves fast enough.

    Instead of back and forth oscillation, let’s imagine convergent-divergent oscillation of some quantity of esse. Let’s designate a sphere of esse in the esse continuum that’s one mile in diameter. The normally chaotic compression dynamics of the esse continuum have accidentally lined up around our sphere equally on all sides to exert a convergent force. The sphere starts to compress, first to a half mile diameter, then to a quarter mile diameter. The esse continuum surrounding the sphere, being infinite and flexible, simply stretches and fills in to accommodate the action.

    The convergent force continues, and the sphere starts violently oscillating as it first yields to compression, and then naturally tries to expand back to normal. As the sphere compresses more, it oscillates faster and faster until like that rubber band, one can see two phases simultaneously: a compressed phase, and a divergent phase surrounding that.

    Now, once the formerly mile-in-diameter sphere is compressed to the size of a neutron, a strange thing happens. The two phases enter into a self-sustaining counterbalanced arrangement, with a powerfully converged core surrounded by a much, much larger filmy divergent cloud.

    No real separation has happened between the differentiated phases, and no real separation has happened between the compressed sphere and the esse continuum. Also, no change in the nature of esse has occurred. Everything has stayed connected, everything is still esse.

    What’s happened is that certain traits of esse and continuum dynamics have rearranged themselves. It’s sort of like how a long, skinny balloon can be fashioned into the shape of a horse. The new arrangement of the balloon’s traits (e.g., flexibility, air pressure, three dimensionality, etc.) doesn’t alter the substance of the balloon, or fully separate one part from the other . . . it’s all done by differentiation and accentuation of particular traits.
  6. May 26, 2005 #5
    Les, great, thought provoking post. Its up to your best standards if not your best yet. You've done a wonderful job of making the subject and your thought understandable.

    Enough a** kissing. Some thoughts just of the top of my head (I'll have to think about this for a while)

    At its ground state esse would have no time, direction nor limit (size). It would be eternal, without beginning or end, temporally and spatially.

    My first thought when I began reading this was that esse could be energy itself and you were describing a string theory.

    My second thought was this goes hand in hand with my one reality position. All is one reality, all is esse.

    If esse is eternal and consciousness developed within esse (where else could it develop) then consciousness must too be eternal. Are we talking about the Judeo-Christian concept of God the Creator here, who created the universe out of himself, esse? Off hand I see no logical or conceptual conflict.

    All that would be needed would be a conscious act of will to create energy by causing a local contraction or compaction of esse of itself. As I have said before; "God said let there be light. Big Bang."
  7. May 26, 2005 #6

    Les Sleeth

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    Thanks Royce, I had a feeling you might find the subject interesting.

    When I first arrived at PF, I made the mistake of posting a few monistic concepts in the physics area. I used the term “energy” loosely to describe the perpetually vibrant nature I’ve proposed for esse. You can probably guess Integral gave me a hard time. But I have to say I’m glad he did because it made me realize I needed to more fully and carefully embrace what physics really does explain quite well.

    So I only use energy as defined by physics. However, since the idea here is to model monistically, there is a monistic explanation for energy. I’ve posted it a few times at PF, so I’ll just run through it quickly here.

    If we accept the physics definition of energy, it cannot be esse because energy is not a “substance,” while esse is defined as the absolute base substance of all existence. Energy is the concept used to keep track of work done in physical settings. You burn some wood, the kettle and water get hotter, and steam makes the whistle blow. Those are physical events, and energy is one way they are measured and kept track of.

    But monistic theory takes things deeper by trying to figure out what physicalness is to begin with. Regarding energy, according to monistic theory the fact that certain physical actions cause things to change/move must be due to some potential of esse or esse continuum dynamics. If you read toward the end of my opening post, I explained energy as due to esse being concentrated.

    Analogously, imagine compressing a piece of foam rubber, tying a piece of thread around it, pulling it tight, and then setting a piece of paper on top of the foam. When you cut the thread, and the foam re-expands, won’t it move the paper?

    Let’s say you are an observer who has a rare disease that makes you unable to detect the presence of foam. All you know is that the tighter you pull the thread, the more it causes paper to move when the thread is cut. Since you can’t see the foam, you develop equations to describe the relationship between thread tightness and paper movement, and scales to measure how much movement takes place in relation to tightness. Energy is your concept for how much movement some degree of tightness can cause.

    In that analogy, no substance component is needed because you can measure thread tightness, and measure how much the paper moves in relation to that, which is all you are trying to do. Energy isn’t describing anything substantial, its describing degree of or potential to cause change.

    But according to substance monism, while a substance concept isn’t needed to measure physical change, it is needed to explain what is causing the movement (and in the case of mass, what is amassing). For our monist exercise, we could propose that energy results when compressed/concentrated esse undergoes decompression/dispersion; that is, movement is caused by decompression, which really isn’t a substance; nevertheless, what’s decompressing IS a substance.

    The lack of a base substance in physics is why I was teasing in my previous thread, and why I said in the first post of this thread, “the overall idea is that esse’s . . . concentration offers a substance basis for the relationship between energy and mass . . . the universe’s mass [is] dispersing because that’s the natural reaction of esse after it’s concentrated; EM are “waves” of relaxation . . .”

    Yes, that is the primary principle of this type of substance monism. However . . .

    . . . that statement is not “neutral” monism. Esse is not conscious overall, but quite dumb. It just has the potential to become conscious under the right conditions. So we’d say, from what we know, that in one particular place (at least) in the esse continuum, consciousness has developed (since we humans are conscious). But I say there is a more important question (more below).

    No, I don’t think so even though I am sympathetic to trying to be inclusive to all the ideas of consciousness.

    If esse is neutral, then it means consciousness developed accidentally in the esse continuum, and that means the nature of esse and continuum dynamics must possess the potential to produce consciousness.

    Now here’s where it gets interesting because neutral substance monism does not eliminate the possibility that physicalness is necessary for consciousness. Were the physical universe and biology necessary for consciousness to develop? Or did consciousness develop first in the esse continuum and help with the development of the universe? Does either theory better explain creation?

    If you read my answer to Math is Hard, I suggested that the quality of organization found in life is much more akin to how consciousness behaves than it is to the dumb repetitive action of mechanics. So I think it makes more sense to say consciousness developed first in the esse continuum, and then it helped with the development of the universe. (BTW, with that model, there could be conscious entities, and maybe associated universes, scattered all over the infinite esse continuum.)

    That’s not unreasonable since concentration is a trait of our own consciousness. What if we’d evolved for zillion to the zillionth power eons? Might we learn how to concentrate esse so much it actually amasses into physicalness?
  8. May 26, 2005 #7
    Your welcome and yes this is interesting the implications are endless and speculation can lead virtually anywhere.

    Yes, I read it. We don't know what energy is or how it came about. it remains undefined and we only know it by its effects on physical matter.
    Is this what you meant in your other thread that photons are made of something, not pure energy as I stated? We also don't know how energy as EM waves can travel through a vacuum. Again esse? This is beginning to sound like the old ether (aether?). Not that that is bad or makes it wrong. It could explain a lot of thing that are left unanswered when ether we disproved.

    Some time ago I posted the idea in the theory development and then cosmology forum that The Universal Constant (Einsteins worse mistake) that was being reconsidered to explain why the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down might be cause by space time tending to be flat and as it was curved by the mass of the universe it created a force causing the universe to expand at a faster rate and become flatter. (I too got beat up and slink ed away with my tail between my legs. I haven't posted anything there since.) This could be yous esse returning to its ground state.

    But here you are introducing dualism again. There was a moment of esse and no consciousness and then (later) a moment with esse and consciousness. IMHO if consciousness is in esse prior to physicalness then consciousness too must be eternal. With no time there could not be two different states one arising from the other. Without time there is only one eternal moment and all the is, was, and will be, has to be eternal also. Unless you say that the was esse and time but there goes your neutral state. (I'm thinking about this as I write so its a bit disjointed I know. Please bear with me.)
    Even with the potential there but no consciousness what could cause the accident that made consciousness develop out of or in esse. Your back to first cause, accidental creation and dualism or at least two different states of esse which contradicts the neutrality of the esse continuum.

    I'm not pushing my cause here but trying to help your theory to be more consistent. I like the idea of a universal eternal consciousness in a monistic substance continuum.

    I think I see the tie in here. Consciousness began to develop in esse but required physicalness to continue development and existence Walla - Big Bang and the birth of physicalness.
    This scenario does not require consciousness to not be eternal and be an accidental development. In the eternal moment the potential for consciousness is the same as consciousness i.e. there would not be a time of potential and then a time of that potential realized They would both be of the same eternal moment. The potential for consciousness is consciousness.
    The potential realized is the creation of physicalness the Big Bang

    I agree with all of this; but, I would say consciousness required rather than helped with the development of the universe.
    Esse = Potential = Consciousness = Development of the Physical Universe.
    And of course your (BTW...) would follow, even be implied.

    Whoa, easy there Les, You saw what happen to Caligula and Tiberius when they started thinking god like thoughts.
  9. May 26, 2005 #8

    Les Sleeth

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    Before answering your questions, I'd like to make it clear that I've intended this contemplation to be something that's strictly logic and evidence. It's not that I don't believe what some of us intuit and deeply feel isn't personally relevant, because actually I think that's how one discovers the deeper things.

    But the process of modeling creation in a public forum is a different animal altogether because we have such a huge variety of opinions and beliefs insisting creation must be a certain way.

    If you understand what I mean, then I think my somewhat passionless comments will make more sense to you.

    I was pointing out it seems logical that if something is "pure" energy (i.e., nothing but energy), then as its energy is lost, all its traits should become less dynamic (since energy is what animates). But in the case of EM, it makes no difference to c what a photon's energy is. As far as we know, c always remains c despite the quanta's energy. How can a photon be "pure" energy and yet have some trait be utterly oblivious to the depletion of what's proposed is 100% of it's make up?

    So it seems there is something about a photon that has nothing to do with its energy.

    I can't see the dualism. I am saying esse is neutral and is so mutable, under one set of conditions it can manifest as consciousness, and under another set of conditions it can manifest as physicalness. That's the definition of neutral . . . esse is not inherently conscious or physical. It is a formless substance.

    Why? "Prior" just means before something in order . . . it doesn't imply eternity. This Earth existed long before me, but you wouldn't say I should conclude the Earth is eternal.

    The problem with consciousness being eternal is that it seems impossible to explain how learning takes place. ETERNAL . . . that's never-ending existence. For a neutral, dumb substance, eternity isn't a problem because it can just stay dumb forever doing nothing but existing and submitting to its continuum's dynamics.

    But the very definition of consciousness includes learning, and learning implies continual evolution, growth, etc. If consciousness has existed forever, then everything possible to know and be should already be known and be, yet here we dumbsh*t humans are struggling to survive and understand! :redface:

    Time is tricky because we intuitively understand that physicalness is what gives us time, and so then we think that time in some infinite, eternal plane is meaningless.

    But there are two aspects to physical time: change and entropy. There could be another sort of time which involves change, but no entropy. In other words, something could exist which from this moment forward will always exist, and will always change by evolving. In terms of a creator consciousness that itself was accidentally created out of "neutral" esse, time is meaningless as far as running out of time (unlike physical time), but it is meaningful in terms of describing change.

    Not so. There is no dualism as long as everything which exists is of the exact same substance. And that is exactly what neutral substance monism proposes; that is, consciousness and physicalness share the same substance.

    But sharing the same base substance doesn't have to mean that aside from that, consciousness and physicalness have all that much in common. I'd say physicalness is esse developed dumb, and consciousness is esse developed smart.

    You are right to say we still need to figure out a first cause for consciousness and physicalness, but it isn't nearly the problem as we have with an esse-less model. Now at least we have something that has existed forever, and we can imagine it has ongoing natural traits that will produce both physicalness and consciousness.

    There is nothing contradictory about different states of the same thing. Is it contradictory to say steam and ice are both H2O? No, it is one substance manifesting different characteristics under different conditions. That's the challenge of modeling monistically . . . we have to stick to the constant of esse, and then try to figure out what sort of conditions might become consciousness here, and the other set of conditions that might become physicalness there.

    Well, I am not saying esse-born consciousness, if it exists, needs physicalness. Just considering what we know, the only thing we can say is that humans might require physicalness to help them develop. :wink:
    Last edited: May 26, 2005
  10. May 27, 2005 #9
    But we know energy equates to mass, and what is mass but the prime index
    of substantiallity in physics ? As I was saying in the other thread this
    whole "energy is just a concept" thing is deeply flawed.

    But as soon as you talk about moving and changing, you are back
    in the realm of strucure and function.

    If the "right conditions" are structural and functional this differs in no way from materialism. If they are not (eg non-S+F qualia are involved), you have a dualism at least of properties .

    So within your monism, there is a dualism between consciousness and
    physicalness ?
  11. May 27, 2005 #10
    c has nothing at all to do with the energy of a photon, whic is only realted to its frequency. It has to do with the geometery of space time.

    Then why can't it mutate out of existence altogether ? Substance monism
    requires that there is not more than one substance. It doesn't require
    that one substance has to exist eternally. You argued that point on
    the basis of non-duality in general.

    There is no substance dualism. There could be other dualities.
  12. May 27, 2005 #11

    Les Sleeth

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    You are right, I keep forgetting I can't argue that idea about c from the esse model side. But if I were to, my point was that space time is really an esse field that maintains a certain tension, and a photon is a wave of relaxation emanating from more condensed esse (mass) within that field. Once the photon enters the field its part of space time geometry and therefore something more than pure energy.

    However, I can argue that a photon is not "pure" energy another way. Though you can slow a photon's frequency, there is no known way to stop it from oscillating. What is oscillation? Energy might affect it, but energy itself isn't oscillation, and therefore there is a quality of a photon which isn't "pure" energy. We might say, a photon carries energy, but a photon isn't only energy.

    I didn't say it mutates, I said it was highly mutable. That is, it can exist in a huge variety of conditions without losing its basic nature. As pure existence, it is esse's nature to exist . . . not to not-exist.

    You are incorrect. If it ceases to exist somewhere, the absence of esse in that spot creates an immediate duality of esse and not-esse. Also, we reintroduce the problem of infinite regress since if something ends, logically we ask what began it, and what began that, etc.

    Nope. One substance in one continuum which through substance qualities and continuum dynamics account for all forms of existence. If something cannot be explained in those terms, then it's just a polarity, biphase, symetry yin yang, or some other type of differentiation of esse's traits/dynamics which merely appears dualistic. Remove the particular type of differentiation from the setting and it will all snap back to pure esse.

    However, if you believe you can come with a true duality in substance monism, I challenge you to produce one.

    As I said in the opening post: "To avoid any sort of duality, esse must be seen as true absoluteness in the sense there is nothing more basic or greater than it; there is nothing before or beyond it; there can be no discontinuance of it; there is nothing that is not a manifestation of it; and there is no appearance or behavior which is not 100% (i.e., absolutely) determined by its potentials and limitations."
    Last edited: May 27, 2005
  13. May 27, 2005 #12
    True, but that still does not mean there is no concept of pure energy,
    or bare substance in physics. The question is: is it a neutral concept ?
    What characterises the physical and the mental.

    Surely a "pure" neutral substrate has no basic nature.

    I was making the distinction between duality in general and substance
    dualism in particular. The non-existence of Esse would not be the
    existence of some other substance so SUBSTANCWEdualism is not violated.
    Moreover, your arguemnt seems to need *some* form(s) of dualism.

    Making assumptions about time, causality, etc.

    So there are acceptable and unacceptables dualisms. What is the difference?
  14. May 27, 2005 #13

    Les Sleeth

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    Pure means the same stuff, it doesn't mean the stuff can't have several traits. Water is wet, it flows, it's clear, etc. One stuff, several traits. Plus, we get to add those traits created by existing in an "ocean," what I've called continuum dynamics.

    I disagree, I'll explain when I answer your last comment below.

    What would that be?

    I put the bottom line at 1) exist and not exist, and 2) any substance/thing or condition which is not a "form" of esse or a manifestation of its qualities.

    I can't imagine anything more contrary to esse than nonexistence, so I say that is the most powerful duality possible.

    The idea of esse is that it is the most basic condition of all forms of existence, it's the ground state. So something built up from layers of complexities and differentiation of esse's base qualities, oscillating so fast they appear as distinct and polar traits (say, the electron-proton relationship) then it appears they are dual, when according to this model they are exactly the same once they return to their ground state (which they eventually will).
    Last edited: May 27, 2005
  15. May 30, 2005 #14

    Math Is Hard

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    Hi Les,
    Thank you for responding to my question.
    By this (above) I thought you were suggesting that consciousness is purely epiphenomenal, but I am not sure.
    It seems that we are talking about some rudimentary pre-cursor to consciousness, the property of self-organization of matter, that has existed for as long as matter has existed. Is this correct? I have to take baby steps here. Also, I am not clear about the esse continuum. Where does it begin? The moment after the Big Bang?
  16. May 31, 2005 #15

    Les Sleeth

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    The esse continuum never “began.” The substance monism concept states that esse has always existed. It is uncreated, and cannot cease to exist. Esse is an infinite ocean of pure essence. It is the “essence” of all we know, including the physical universe and consciousness. The universe is a finite form of esse within the infinite esse continuum. We are in it now, but can’t see it because esse is too subtle.

    It is before self-organization, and before matter since matter had a beginning and will likely have an end. Esse is uncreated and eternal. But let me explain a little more how to get from the raw condition of esse to the advanced “forms” of esse like the universe and consciousness.

    I think I know what you mean, but since epiphenomenalism already has a specific meaning I don't think it really applies here.

    Did you understand the idea of an esse continuum as an infinite ocean of pure "stuff" that has eternally existed, and which everything is within and created out of? Let's say that as a “substance” esse is a kind of superfine, vibrant light or illumination. Modeling creation and its contents using esse involves several logic steps.

    The first thing logic tells us is that the esse continuum can’t be static because then nothing could develop. The esse would just sit there being, but not becoming. Since the esse continuum is envisioned as being like an ocean, we might surmise that esse chaotically moves around in the continuum sort of like water does in the ocean, with constant waves and compressions and whirlpools, etc.

    The second logic step begins with understanding that described in the above paragraph is the “ground state” of esse. It exists, but not in any stable “form.” We can say that the conditions of the ground state have to have the potential to become all the forms of things we know. What have we postulated the ground state conditions to be? The vibrant, eternally existent, and illuminative qualities of esse, and the chaotic dynamics of the esse continuum . . . so that’s the “raw” materials/conditions we have to work with.

    The third logic step starts with jumping ahead (developmentally) from the ground state to now/here with us and our universe, and recognizing that we and the universe endure (time). If the universe and ourselves are all forms of esse, have developed from the ground state of esse, and if chaotic dynamics normally prevail in the ground state, then we can logically infer that some arrangement of the dynamics accidentally occurred which resulted in stable conditions within the chaotic continuum.

    The next step is figuring out how stability could be established. I do have a model for that, but it wasn’t my intention to actually lay out the model here, but rather just to examine the modeling potential of substance monism.

    Getting back to your original question, I was suggesting my Christian friend consider which was more likely to have developed first in the ground state, a physical universe or consciousness? Consciousness is subtle and unobservable just like esse is proposed to be, so it seems that it would be easier for consciousness to develop first in the ground state.

    Now, since esse is eternally existing stuff, a consciousness that develops in the continuum has forever to evolve. Since the esse continuum is infinite, it has infinite space in which to grow.

    Then, looking at the developmental path from the Big Bang to planet Earth, on to life, and finally to consciousness, the development along that corridor is extraordinarily organized. Yet when we look at raw physicalness, it seems merely repetitive at best.

    Since consciousness is the only ultra-organizing force we’ve observed in the universe, and since it seems it would be simpler for consciousness to evolve first in the esse continuum, then isn’t it logical to hypothesize that the order of development of creation was: consciousness developed first in the esse continuum, evolved and grew for eons, it participated in the advent and development of the physical universe (e.g., concentrating a bunch of esse for the Big Bang?), its involvement was particularly focused along the path that led from the Big Bang to human consciousness, and that’s what explains the remarkable organizational quality found along BB-to-humanity corridor?

    (If you are interested in the monistic concept, you might want reread my opening post. There’s a lot of information packed into that post :bugeye:, almost every bit of it necessary to understand the modeling potential of substance monism, so I know how easy it can be to miss important concepts.)
  17. Jun 2, 2005 #16
    Well, it weakens the argument, if you are arguing, to say that the primordial
    thingywhatsitness has this nature as opposed to that nature -- there is
    a question about why that is, which cannot be answered by an appeal
    to the primordial
    thingywhatsitness itself.

    e.g mind and matter. The existence of a perceivable bofy in space, or not.

    OK, but note that you are stipulating or assuming the non-existence of Esse
    is impossible, not deriving it rationalistically from some self-evident axiom.

    I can't imagine anything more contrary to esse than nonexistence, so I say that is the most powerful duality possible.

    How does that differ from a physicist saying that all forms of energy/mass are
    interconvertible ?
  18. Jun 2, 2005 #17
    Or rather, nothing could have developed, although evidently it did.
    This is empirical and a posteriori.

    I notice that space, time, motion and causality have crept into the picture, although esse is supposed to be the only thing that exists.

    It isn't at all clear or generally accepted that consc. is "organising" , let
    alone , ultra. It is only clear that is associated with complex organisms.
  19. Oct 3, 2005 #18
    I'm a little late coming to this thread, and I must say I haven't read it all. Forgive me if I ask a question that has already been answered.

    Could you elaborate on this? One substance that composes everything? To finely dispersed?

    The substance has parts? If so - as opposed to what? Is it like the ole lady said ... Turtles stacked upon turtles all the way down? Is there space between these parts? If not how is it possible to move? If so - whats this new ingredient called space made of?
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2005
  20. Oct 3, 2005 #19

    Les Sleeth

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    When I first read Plotinus, Spinoza, Russell, et al views on monism, it was like a duck finding his first pond. It was so easy for me to dive in because I intuitively felt like I already knew it.

    I've tried to communicate monisitic ideas several times here, and I have always been surprised monism isn't easy for most people. I think it's because most of the thinkers here are reductionist thinkers, while monism requires one to contemplate the absolute most general level of existence. So don't feel alone if monism seems weird to you.

    Before explaining more at this time, let me refer you to how a discussion on "omnipotence" went at one point where I offered an analogy to help explain substance monism. It starts the third post down on the page found here, and continues for several posts.

    Then if you reread my opening post for this thread carefully, it might all make more sense. If you have more questions, and are still interested, I'll be happy to answer them.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2005
  21. Oct 3, 2005 #20
    Oh it's easy. It just gets a little tough when I realize that I can't move in this model. It is here where the model dies on the vine. There is no place to go that isn't already taken. The model tries to skirt this issue by giving this Wawa properties of greased up rubber pigs if you will. I consider this to be a cop out....no question about it. An all wawa universe is an exercise in gridlock (ain't nothing goin nowhere forever and ever).

    Apparently this Wawa is infinitely composed. I.E. There is no finite fundamental entity to compose the Wawa. We may as well call the Wawa nothing, for the infinitely small is just that.
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