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Metaphysics of Spirit

PostPosted: June 22nd, 2017, 7:38 pm
by mitchellmckain
This thread is to explore the implications and possibilities of this metaphysics I have introduced in another thread for spiritual things. I shall begin with a summary of this.

1. First it is presumed that everything is a form of the same basic universal stuff which can be refered to as pre-energy or the substance/poteniality of being itself. The reason for this is two things which we have learned from science. The first is that this has more explanatory power by providing a better basis for rationally explaining the difference between things. The second is the way that energy dissolves the difference between thing and action since both matter and motion are forms of energy. However, we refrain from presuming that what science calls energy and this universal substance of all things are the same, but suppose instead that physical energy is a particular form of this substance of being itself.

2. Spiritual things differ from physical things in the following manner. Physical things are all a part of a single space-time mathematical structure. They have their existence and nature by their mathematical relationship to the whole, and because of this they are confined to the laws of nature which are an effect of this mathematical structure. Spiritual things are not a part of this structure and are thus not bound by these laws of nature.

3. The objective evidence suggests the relationship between a person's mind/body and their spirit is epiphenomenal for the most part. In other words, the interaction is going almost entirely one way from the choices we make as physical living organisms to the creation of the form of the spirit. The time when we could believe in spirits operating physical bodies like puppets is long past. Interaction the other way is not ruled out entirely but it must be something far more rare and subtle than what many religious people have often implied.

4. Spiritual things are not a part of any structure of laws by necessity. They have their existence from their own nature alone and thus they can only be effected by their own nature and not by any external force. Relationship with other spirits is only possible when such relationship have become part of their own nature, and only to the extent to which it has become a part of them. Each spirit can thus be said to be like universe of its own. Or equivalently, it can be said that the physical universe is itself like a singular spirit.

5. The spirits of living things are a product of the choices these living things make in the living of their lives. Anything we have by nature and which are given to us through no choice of our own is not who we truly are but only circumstances in which our choices are made. Only the actual choices we make ourselves form the spirit which is our truest self. This origin for the spirit of physical living things does not exclude the possibility of other types of spirit such as God, a self-existing infinite spirit, and other spirits created for a purpose or perhaps even some created by human imagination.

6. One of the principle ways in which people define themselves by their own choices and thus create their spiritual form, is by how they treat others like themselves. What does it take for them to see a common ground and have regard for others? If it is only some triviality like race, gender, or belief then all the other things such as intelligence, creativity and love which they also have in common with them are by their own choices excluded from importance in their own identity and thus diminished in their spiritual existence. But you might suggest that they could value only their own intelligence, creativity and love. But that means they do not value these things in general but only to the extent in which these things benefit them -- so they have no more value than such things as food, warmth, or a convenient rock to bash over the head of victims to acquire food.


Now what I would like to explore in this context is some of the ideas I have encountered in fiction and religion.

1. In Mercedes Lackey's book "Children of the Night" we encounter a type of japanese vampire or ghaki who devours souls. Setting aside the possible differences between the meaning of soul and spirit, how does this idea fit within the above metaphysics? My first impulse is to say this is impossible, for the spirit is governed by its own nature alone and thus cannot be affected by any external forces. But the truth is that all things are technically possible for we only have to consider that since spirits are governed by their own nature then what is possible depends entirely upon the nature and the choices which created it. What choices by a living being could create a spirit which could be eaten by the creatures of this book? Well what if they would choose, even if it is in their own fantasies, to eat the souls of others -- thus seeing nothing in others of more significance than food to devour? Then by such a choice they would define their own spiritual nature as something which can be consumed. In this way, perhaps it would be possible for there to be a spirit eating ghaki. But in general, it is not possible for such to eat the spirit of just anyone. As a separate universe, generally, the spirit of a person could not even be seen or touched by such a creature, unless they have somehow bound themselves to it by their own choices.

2. In Amber Kizer's book "Meridian" we encounter half angelic humans called fenestra who make a passage in themselves for the spirits of the dead to cross over into a tailor-made heaven-like existence. There are also beings called Aternocti who do the opposite and drag whatever spirts they incounter into a hell-like counterpart. It all seems rather random, doesn't it? Again this would seem impossible in the above metaphysics, not without an alteration. I do believe that everyone has the seeds of both creation and destruction of self within them. It is always a matter of which we nourish and thus what portions of each we become. And it is not as if other people are without influence in such choices. Thus it is well within possibility for such a battle to be going on between those seek our degridation in our most self-destructive habits and those who seek the elevation of our spirit by the promotion of our highest ideals. Even in the books by Kizer, entrance into the doorway of heaven is a matter of choice. Furthermore the Nocti in Kizer's book do work largely by seeking to influence our choices rather than forcing people, though perhaps some people if not most are more vulnerable than we would like to believe and can be simply pounced upon by one or the other.

I am reminded of this film I just watched recently, "Day of the Triffids" (new version), where nearly everyone was blinded. The surprising bit, for me, is that the result was much like a zombie apocalypse where most people simply wanted to grab and force the few sighted people to serve their own needs. Since I would do nothing of the sort, I found it difficult to believe that people would really be like that, though my eldest sought to convince me otherwise. Both of us agreed that we would simply work on learning to survive without sight, knowing that other people learn to do so all the time. But my son felt the film was not wrong in thinking that most would make no such effort but simply expect someone to help them.

3. Many Xtians seem to believe in a self-glorifying jealous sadistical spirit calling itself God sending souls to either heaven or hell according to whether they believe in a set of dogmas. Like with the soul eating vampires such things remain possible if a bit unlikely. Once again it depends on how people define themselves in their treatment of other people. If they deal with people according to judgments which consign people to hell just because they believe differently then I think it is quite like they make themselves susceptable to this. I am reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you." I certainly wouldn't want to be judged by whether I got everything right.

4. Buddhists, Hindus and others believe in reincarnation. This one is a bit more problematic because it is not just about something happening in some afterlife but about something happening to living things in the physical world as well. The metaphysics above makes this very difficult to belive in. In effect it is saying that the choices of a child doesn't count very much because they are not creating their own spirit but only adding to one that is already there. Instead of freely living their own life they are chained to the past. It is easier to believe that experiences of this sort are only examples of a close relationship and interaction between the child and a spirit or group of spirits of people in the past. But that makes it sounds more like a haunting or a possession, which puts a very different perspective on things. It is not necessarily a bad thing UNLESS they try to convince you that your life belongs to them, like with some teaching about reincarnation.

Re: Metaphysics of Spirit

PostPosted: June 27th, 2017, 4:23 am
by mitchellmckain
In any case, the above show why it is not very surprising that someone who believes in reincarnation would think the above metaphysical system "doesn't make sense." Despite the fact that the above makes excellent sense of the majority of religious claims in a way that is consistent with the findings of science, those who believe in reincarnation tend to think people have a spirit to start with -- making it natural for them to start with one that has already lived a previous life. Another reason people would prefer to believe in the given spirit idea is an uncompromising anti-abortionist sentiment, for such would prop up their claims that a zygote is still a person because it has one of these fully human spirits attached to it. We can observe that this doesn't require an enormous change. Number 5 needs to be altered and number 2 is just a bit less comfortable as I see it.

And this should explain where this all has in a sense come from. Instead of starting with religious beliefs and that being the filter through which I understand and accept the findings of science, I did things it the opposite manner. I started with science as my principle way of perceiving the world and that was my filter through which I judged whether I could find any value in the claims of religion -- simply discarding anything which didn't fit either with the findings of science or fit into a coherent worldview compatible with the ideals of a free society.

Caution! I am NOT saying that starting with science leads to the above metaphysics of spirit - NOT AT ALL! I certainly have no intention of implying that the road to my conclusions was any kind of one way street, but is rather a branching path filled with subjective choices concerning what I considered important. Case in point, quite a large number of people go on such a branching path and end up seeing no reason to see much value in any of the claims of religions. Thus I routinely defend this conclusion as a perfectly rational alternative.