Hyponoetics - Philosophy of Mind

This blog discusses ideas and concepts that I am currently thinking about for my book on Hyponoetics as an integral philosophy of mind and matter.

Why is there something rather than nothing?

This metaphysical question is one of the most fundamental questions in philosophy. It points to the ultimate reality or source that produces the plurality of physical and mental phenomena. The word 'existence' is applied to any singular entity that subsists in the time-space continuum of the universe. Existence is basically presence, being present to our experience, which furthermore means being an object of our mind, of our thinking. Things do not exist independently of our mind, but that does not mean that they are only objects or ideas of our mind. However, they become existent things (existants) for us through the objectifying activity of our mind. The mind actualizes existants out of an existant-less reality.

The word 'existence' is derived from the Latin term exsisto, meaning to come out of, to become, to raise, to appear, to come into being. Existence is not so much a state of being for things but more like an activity of our mind which ex-ists things or make things existent by actualizing them out of Hyponoesis.

This mechanism of cognitive actualization does still not explain why anything exists rather than not. Why do individual minds exist in the first place? One thing we can state is that if individual minds exist then things must exist too. The reason for that corollary is that a mind is only individual or can only become individuated through the complex interaction with other individual entities (other minds or particularities, such as physical things or mental objects).

This would, however, explain only the necessity of other individual minds, not the necessity of non-mental objects. This can be explained from the structure of our individual minds. Thinking can be thought of as a basic dualistic pattern, a subject-object dichotomy that needs objects as polarities to the thinking subject. If that antagonism would not be an intrinsic feature of our mind, our mind would not be individual and we would not be able to experience or be conscious at all. Without this dualistic pattern, mind would be universal and not individual, that is, mind would be universal mind, i.e. Hyponoesis.

We know why things must exist but not why individual minds must exist in the first place. So, the crucial question is then, why do individual minds exist rather than not? However, the even more fundamental question is, why are there any actualized forms at all, why is there actualization and not just pure potentiality, pure nothingness?

To explain the necessity of actualization I draw on an analogy that I used elsewhere: the definition of an ocean includes its surface. The surface is inseparably connected to the ocean, it is not just part of the ocean, but the ocean is defined by the surface like the sky is defined by the horizon. Neither the ocean by itself nor the surface by itself has any meaning outside of the context of their mutual interdependency and interaction. As there is always a surface with waves and water drops that represent the actualized forms of the water that itself is the ocean, so the actualized forms of Hyponoesis (mind, matter) are Hyponoesis in its actual and not in its potential aspect (cf. quantum physics: quantum foam, bubbling sea of energy). The surface or horizon or border and the ground constitute a whole, a totality. This totality is defined by the interaction between ground and surface, between potentiality and actuality. It is the classic metaphysical relationship between the finite and the infinite or one and the many.

What is the relationship between ground and surface? Surface is structure that is supervenient on the ground, which provides the essence for the structure. Surface is the in-forming, the positing of forms out of the ground that is form-less in itself. The ground manifests itself as the interplay of a plurality of transitory, temporal, 'superficial' forms.

This interactive process between ground and surface, or analogously, between Hyponoesis and the world of actualized forms, has no beginning in time and no end. It is an eternal cycle or process of interaction, and therefore, the world is not a creation or an emergent product (cf. emanationist philosophy) of Hyponoesis, but a continual actualization: the world is Hyponoesis as much as Hyponoesis is the world. The conceptual difference lies in the aspect under which we view Hyponoesis, either as actualized form or as formless potentiality.

The surface or horizon in contrast to the ground represents that which can be experienced or known (Kant's phenomenon), or that which exists or can be conceived to exist (realist view). The surface is that which is intrinsically limited, the appearance or phenomenon. The word 'surface' is derived from the Latin terms sur meaning above, on, upon, and facies meaning form, appearance. A literal translation would be: what that is above or upon something. In other words: the forms that appear out of the ground and are now 'above' the ground (in a non-spatial sense).

The original question of this essay is: why does anything exist rather than not? The tentative answer that Hyponoetics provides is: existence is the nature of reality, the essence of Hyponoesis. Non-Existence, however, is also the nature and essence of Hyponoesis, but under the aspect of potentiality (sub specie potentialitatis). Hyponoesis is both actuality and potentiality, in fact, both aspects are identical from an ultimate point of view. The actual is the potential and the potential is the actual. In other words, the reason why there is something rather than nothing is because the nature of the ultimate potential reality includes the actuality of all possible entities included in its potentiality