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The following paper explores a model of ethics that is stratified based on several factors.  There are many reasons why it is necessary to approach ethics in such a hierarchical fashion.  Many of the justifications of these reasons will be presented in an effort to show the importance of bringing this topic to greater awareness.

THE UNITED PARTY OF VIRTUE

Benjamin Franklin recounts in his autobiography his efforts at achieving moral perfection.  Is this something that is achievable?  Well, Ben certainly made a valiant effort at attaining such a lofty goal.  His method of undertaking such a task was rather simple.  He began by ranking thirteen virtues in an order, which by achieving the first would facilitate achieving the next.  Next, he created a diary for recording his progress.  Then, it was a matter of self-awareness.  Ben made progress through his course, and soon he began to become quite the virtuous man.

There was, however, an unexpected result from his morally perfect lifestyle – people didn’t like him as much.  The fact of the matter is that people tend to resent those that are too good.  This is not to say that Ben didn’t find great benefit it his efforts.  On the contrary, he continued throughout his life to be more self-aware of these virtues in himself and others.  He also commented that when times were busy for him in business, travel, or government, that he was more distracted from his self-awareness and tended to let his diary entries slip.  He was not being any less virtuous; he was just less cognizant of it.

But, really, Ben’s reason for undertaking such a project – his motivation – is what I want to talk about.  Virtues and vices can be listed in numerous ways and in numerous moral codes, but they are useless without a motivation to practice them.  Let’s look at Ben’s motivation.  His grander project was to construct what he called “The United Party of Virtue”.  Here is an outline of his logic for this:

  1. Historically, parties affect the greatest change in the world.
  2. The view of any party is its current general interest.
  3. The different views of all of the parties give rise to confusion.
  4. Even though the party is united under a common interest, the individual members of the party each have their own, private interests.
  5. Once a party achieves its overall goal, each member becomes intent on achieving their own, private interest. This causes more confusion and the party breaks up into divisions, factions, and maybe even another party is formed.
  6. Very few of the members of a party place the interests of their party or of their country higher in importance than their own, personal interest. It just so happens that in many circumstances the interests of the members happens to serve similar interests of the party or of their country.
  7. Even fewer place the interests of mankind higher.
  8. By forming the virtuous and good people of all nations into a United Party of Virtue that is governed by suitable good and wise rules, the interests of mankind will be served. The members of such a party are much more likely to follow the rules set forth than the average person is likely to follow common laws.
  9. Any attempt to create a United Party of Virtue can’t fail if executed in the right manner.

It would seem that Ben had already created a forerunner of Rule Utilitarianism!  If you’re not familiar with this form of ethics then that’s O.K., I’m going to explain it in more detail later on.  The point is that Benjamin Franklin, in 1731, was already trying to create a grassroots movement that would be sort of like the United Nations, but its focus would be more on ensuring that the nations of the world serve the interests of mankind in an ethical way.

One objection to this might be that this party would be an elitist group.  It might seem like this on the surface but there is one major thing to consider.  The focus of the party is on the interests of mankind.  The party’s interest is to the benefit of everyone’s interests.

We talked about Ben’s motivation to become a virtuous man, but let’s go now into what motivates people to do…well, anything and everything.

MASLOW’S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS

Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs over 50 years ago and it is still an often cited and well-accepted model of human motivation.  The Hierarchy is commonly depicted as a pyramid with the more basic, important, and immediately satisfiable needs being at the base of the pyramid.  The levels of needs from the bottom (most basic) to the top are:

  1. Physiological Needs – hunger, thirst, homeostasis
  2. Safety Needs – security, shelter, health
  3. Love Needs – affection, belongingness, group involvement
  4. Esteem Needs – self-respect, achievement, prestige
  5. Self-Actualization – self-fulfillment, life’s passion, achieving one’s potential

My aim is not to go into detail about each level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but to address some common misunderstandings of the hierarchy as well as discuss an extension of the hierarchy.

It is strange to me that many who are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy criticize it for reasons that Maslow himself addressed in his paper A Theory of Human Motivation.  One such criticism is that needs don’t necessarily have to be met 100% before the next higher need becomes a motivator for satiation.  Maslow addressed this by stating that needs don’t have to be met in a “step-wise, all-or-none” fashion.  So it is not like all physiological needs have to be met to 100% capacity and then, suddenly, all behavior focuses on safety needs.  Higher needs emerge gradually as a relatively high degree of need satisfaction occurs at the lower level.

Motivations can be traced back to needs even when the motivation may be viewed as a want or desire.  Let’s say you are hungry.  You need to satisfy your hunger but you want to eat at a restaurant with a health rating of 95 or better.  This is really a safety need because you understand that eating at restaurants with low health ratings means an increased risk of eating food that can cause illness.

Maslow’s theory has also been criticized for being too egocentric.  Much of human motivation is concerned with our interpersonal relationships.  This is one of the main areas I would like to focus on in regards to ethics.  For now, let me just say that it is quite easy to apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to other people.  We are not only concerned with our own needs satisfaction but also with the satisfaction of others’ needs.

VROOM’S EXPECTANCY THEORY

In his book entitled Work and Motivation, Victor Vroom put forth his formula of expectancy.  This formula basically states that a person is motivated to act on the satisfaction of a need only if, in the end, it will result it a pay-off to the person.  And although Vroom was referring to work environments, we can apply the formula to any goal-oriented motivation.  Here is the formula:

Motivation = Expectancy x Instrumentality x Valence

Expectancy refers to the individual’s perceived probability that the need will be successfully met.  Instrumentality refers to the reward gained should the goal be met.  And, finally, Valence refers to how the reward will be of value to the person.

This formula is good because it introduces a probability factor into goal achievement.  I would also like to draw attention to the last element – valence.  This concept of value or what is of interest to the individual is what I would like to address in regards to ethics.

CATEGORIZING MOTIVATION

When we use the term “motivation”, what exactly do we mean?  And are needs the only motivators in humans?  Motivation is a state or condition that activates behavior.  Sources for motivation can either be external to the person or internal to the person.  Usually we refer to motivation causing goal-directed behavior, but this isn’t always the case.  There also exist expressive and autonomous behaviors that aren’t goal-directed.  These behaviors aren’t mutually exclusive, however.  A single behavior may have elements of all three.  But, for our purposes, we want to address the goal-oriented motivations. Motivations can be further categorized into physical, mental, and spiritual motivators.  And we can also assign classifications of whether the motivation is positive or negative.

Needs and motivations are really just means to an end though.  Now we must ask ourselves, what is the end(s) that they are a means to?  What is the state that we need to achieve or are motivated to achieve?  To answer this adequately, we must dive into the subject of ethics.  For it is the merger of Motivation Theory with Ethics that we gain a better understanding of how a moral code should be constructed.  The reason why this is so is because it just so happens that the things we tend to call virtues, unalienable rights, and proper social conduct are also the things which facilitate need satisfaction.   Once again I turn to Maslow’s A Theory of Human Motivation.  Maslow list such conditions as freedom of speech, freedom to act so long as others are not harmed, freedom of expression, freedom to seek information, freedom to defend one’s self, justice, fairness, honesty, and orderliness in the group as facilitators of the satisfaction of our needs.

THE ARGUMENT FOR UTILITARIANSIM

The basic doctrine of Utilitarianism as formed by Jeremy Bentham is more or less Hedonistic in scope.  It is John Stuart Mills who took this version of Bentham’s and created the modern formulation.  In his work entitled Utilitarianism Mills states the famous Utilitarian maxim:

Actions are right to the degree that they tend to promote the greatest good for the greatest number.

Here we have the ends that motivations are a means to stated as “good”.  Other words that are sometimes equated with “good” in this context are “pleasure” and “happiness”.  Earlier I said that I wanted to take Vroom’s idea of valence and apply it to ethics.  This idea is of value or interest to an individual being the end that the means seeks.  Let’s see if we can equate “good” to “valuable” in order to determine if there is a correlation between Motivation Theory and Ethics here as well.  We can try and restate the Utilitarian maxim as:

Actions are right to the degree that they tend to promote the greatest value for the greatest number

We can define “value” by dividing it into two sets of two categories.  The first set is a distinction between qualitative and quantitative value.  The second set is a distinction between intrinsic and instrumental value.  Something can be instrumentally valuable in acquiring something else that has intrinsic value, e.g. money is instrumentally valuable in buying food.  But, is food intrinsically or instrumentally valuable?  We could say that food is instrumentally valuable in satisfying our hunger and that a satisfied need is what is intrinsically valuable.  Why?  Because when the need is satisfied we are content, happy, or simply no longer in need.

This tracing of value back to happiness or pleasure does have problems.  The Hedonistic view is that pleasure is what is intrinsically good.  But what if what makes one person happy has the effect of causing harm or pain to others?  So there is usually the caveat added onto the Hedonistic view that says “as long as it doesn’t cause others displeasure”.  But this undermines Hedonism.  Is it truly all about personal pleasure if you have to add caveats that could potentially lessen your pleasure?  No, it would seem that Hedonism is flawed.  Ultimately it is not all about pleasure – or even happiness.  The value equation makes a distinction between the quality and quantity of the pleasures.  Many quality pleasures can make you happy.  And many happy times can make a happy life.  A person tends to find value in many quality experiences that create a happy or good life.  So it is not just a fleeting pleasure which has intrinsic value, it is a happy life.

Aristotle called this state of having a well-lived, happy life eudaimonia.  A person who has eudaimonia is a person who is at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy.  Not only are they concerned with passing pleasures, but also they seek quality happiness, are concerned with the well being of their fellow men, and seek self-fulfillment as well as want to contribute to a better society.

It is at this point that the traditional dispute between the two schools of Consequentialism diverges.  Utilitarianism falls under the ethics of Consequentialism.  The focus of Consequentialism is on the consequences of an action.  The question of whether lying is wrong or not is answered by the Consequentialists as “it depends”.  In most situations lying is wrong but there are situations where lying will produce less problems than if you told the truth.  We’ll come back to this issue later, though.

The two main schools of Consequentialism are Egoism and Utilitarianism.  The Egoists would say that it is a person’s life that has intrinsic value and each person is encouraged to seek their own happiness.  The Utilitarianists would say that a person’s life is only instrumentally valuable as a means to a thriving society.  It is a healthy society that has intrinsic value.  If the Egoist view reeks of Hedonism to you then that is because you’re right.  But the Utilitarian view suffers from one major flaw itself.  That flaw is the problem of justice.

The problem of justice as it relates to Utilitarianism says that there could be situations when individual lives could be sacrificed for the greater good of multiple people’s eudaimonia.  To remedy this we would have to add a caveat similar to the one we added to Hedonism.  Wouldn’t this undermine Utilitarianism also?  Not really because Utilitarianism has a scope that is ever widening.  Egoism’s scope is restricted to only individuals.  You can’t condone a view that says to everyone to maximize your individual pleasure regardless of everyone else and then tack on the caveat about ignoring part of the original view.  Utilitarianism’s view states that other people’s eudaimonia is of value right off the bat.  I will address the rationale for the reformulated Utilitarian view next.

First I would like to address the ever-widening scope of Utilitarianism.  Where does the scope end?   Is a healthy and thriving society instrumentally good to a healthy and thriving ecosystem?  I would say that the scope of Utilitarianism goes all the way to universal proportions and ends at reality itself.  What has gone unsaid in our formulation of value is continued existence, or survival.  What is intrinsically valuable is a happy, healthy, continued existence.  Even the word “happy”, since it is such an emotionally charged word, could be replaced with “vibrant” or “positive”.

This is where the Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU) has quite a bit to say about the scope of the reality we all inhabit and how utility is at play across the entire spectrum of reality, from the quantum world to the upper limit of the unity of all things at the global level.

The CTMU specifies that reality self-creates in a discrete manner, from one micromoment in superposition with a vast array of the myriad other objects that reality has made manifest, with a utility function at play. We, as higher orders of telors, i.e.  inheritors of universal self-creative freedom, mirror both the global and quantum levels of reality in that meta-utility is preserved across all levels.

At the quantum level telic feedback is at play. This equates to the “collapse of the wave function” as reality models a multiplicity of potential future states and somehow selects the actual outcome as telors perceive and interpret their reality. The CTMU describes telic feedback as generalized utility in which reality selects from possible future states in order to maximize itself.

At the global level, telic feedback is brought together in Multiplex Unity (MU). This, again, describes reality in terms of utility and a connection that contains feedback. MU is the answer to the question of how come we all perceive the one reality out of so many observers? This question and the nature of MU has quite a bit of bearing on the ethics of numerous telors coexisting within a unitary reality.

It would seem that the CTMU subsumes Rule Utilitarianism by giving it a more comprehensive model within which to reside. It also explicates the relationship between people (in the most general sense) and the reality in which they infocognitively adhere. A reality that evolves coupled to utility.

In this regard, the CTMU has a meta-Darwinian component. The reality that we share in our “collective solipsism” evolves through self-replication and self-selection holologically. And, thus, we also must maximize utility for our shared existence.

One other thing that should be noted is that something can be both instrumentally and intrinsically valuable.  A person’s eudaimonia is intrinsically valuable to that person and instrumentally valuable to a vibrant society.  A vibrant society is intrinsically valuable to the human race and instrumentally valuable to the Earth’s ecosystem.

THE PROBLEM OF JUSTICE AND RULE UTILITARIANISM

Deontological Theories of Ethics are concerned with duty.  Usually these duties are formalized in rules or laws that, if followed, would create a better person or society.  The most famous advocate of this view was Immanuel Kant.  His Categorical Imperative states:

Act only on that maxim which you can will to become a universal law.

This sounds great on the surface but there are two major flaws.  The first flaw is in deciding who makes the laws and how do we know that the laws that are decided on truly are beneficial to everyone.  To answer this we have to justify the laws agreed upon by using the consequences of the actions.  This places Deontological arguments right back in the realm of Consequentialism.  The second problem was addressed earlier in regards to lying.  The outcome of one situation might yield a worse ethical problem than the original one.  Outcomes cannot be sacrificed.

The Categorical Imperative does solve Utilitarianism’s problem of justice though.  It does this because a society cannot be vibrant without guaranteeing the need facilitators we spoke of earlier by making them codes, laws, and rights.  This type of Utilitarianism is called Rule Utilitarianism.

Rule Utilitarianism isn’t just a caveat tacked onto Utilitarianism either.  It points out that what might at first appear as a contradiction to Utilitarianism is in fact a higher Utilitarian ideal.  If one individual’s right to life were sacrificed in order to save ten other people, it would appear like Utilitarian values were upheld.  But if we lived in a society where your right to life was in constant jeopardy of being sacrificed any time society deemed it necessary, it would have the effect of eroding society’s value of life.  The greater value is in having a society where the individual’s right to life is respected.

KOHLBERG’S STAGES OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT

Just as the satiation of needs follows a hierarchical framework, so does the progression in morality and ethics.  A person can’t immediately embrace Rule Utilitarianism if they are not at the appropriate level of development.  We now turn to the work of Lawrence Kohlberg and his stages of moral development as presented in Essays in Moral Development (Vol. 1).

Kohlberg’s basic premise is that people develop in their ethical outlook in stages.  This is very similar to the manner in which people progress in Maslow’s Hierarchy as needs are satisfied.  Kohlberg divided this progression into 3 levels with 2 stages in each level.  They are:

Level 1 – Pre-Conventional

  1. Obedience and Punishment
  2. Individualism, Instrumentalism, and Exchange

Level 2 – Conventional

  1. Interpersonal Concordance
  2. Law and Order

Level 3 – Post-Conventional

  1. Social Contract
  2. Universal Ethical Principles

Stage 1 corresponds to the “threat of punishment/promise of reward” application of motivation to comply with moral action.  Stage 2 is the stage where a person is concerned solely with actions that are in their own best interest – other people’s interests are completely disregarded unless the other’s interests help to serve one’s own interests.  At Level 2 we see the outlook of the majority of society represented.  Stage 3 is the stage where a person’s actions are largely aimed at acceptance and social norms.  At Stage 4 people understand that laws, rules, customs, and courtesies serve to create a just and equal society.  At Level 3 we see the Utilitarian traits emerge.  At Stage 5 people understand that laws, rules, and customs aren’t just to create an egalitarian society, but they serve the greater purpose of promoting the greatest good to the greatest number of people.  And finally, at Stage 6 we arrive at the view that Maslow’s need facilitators and the principles of the Utilitarian maxim of the greatest value for the greatest number should be regarded as a Categorical Imperative.

You will notice that in both Maslow’s model and Kohlberg’s model there is a progression from a very egocentric, selfish view that evolves into an awareness of, and need to “fit-in-with”, others.  Eventually one would expect a person who is at the Self-Actualization level of needs satisfaction to adopt a Post-Conventional moral outlook.  Once this happens there is a larger degree of altruism rather than a larger degree of egoism, which is displayed lower in the hierarchy.  And it is this altruistic concern that is characterized in Utilitarianism.  The degree to which this concern manifests in a person depends on many factors.  Next I would like to present the CTMU formulation of how this concern for other people’s interests exists in Hierarchical Ethics.

THE DISTRIBUTED SELF

Because the CTMU explicates our relationship to both lower and higher orders of a mutual existence, a person has a stronger alliance with those who share their interests and less of a concern with those who don’t share similar interests with them. Abstractly, we can all pretty much agree that global thriving is a necessary interest if we are to continue to exist ourselves. In this way, our “self” is connected in many ways to many things and we might understand this connection in numerous expressions and at numerous levels of comprehension.

When I use the term “interests” I am referring to the connotations explained earlier in Maslow’s “needs”, Vroom’s “valence”, and Utilitarian’s “value”.  And depending on the individual’s current level of moral development and needs satisfaction, their interests can run the entire gamut of the hierarchical spectrum.

The term “alliance” refers to the relationship in which people’s interests are in alliance, or related by common ground.  People will tend to have a greater concern for others if they share an alliance of interests.  People will also have a greater concern for another person’s needs, even if their interests aren’t necessarily in alliance, if they share a close relationship.  This relationship can manifest itself in ever expanding relationships, e.g. immediate family, extended family, friends, neighbors, community, city, county, state, region, country, etc. (of course my example is based on the United States of America’s terminology.  Even though terms may change, the concept doesn’t.).  Thus, people aren’t only concerned with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as it applies to them, but also how it applies to others.

This might seem like common sense but it really needs to be stated in these terms and in this model of Hierarchical Ethics because it is very important to understand that, ultimately, all of our interests converge.  This convergence isn’t frequently respected because the majority of people are stifled in their eudaimonia at lower levels in the hierarchy in trying to satisfy lower needs and exhibiting lower stages of moral development.  But it is worth noting that at the upper levels of the hierarchy, a self-actualized person would be expected to think about global issues affecting the entire planet and on outward to the limits of the real universe.  Issues such as Global Warming, world poverty, world hunger, environmental conservation, global energy consumption, overpopulation, wild life conservation, etc. are issues that concern not only a self-actualized person, but a flourishing society of self-actualized people.

VIRTUE ETHICS

Since we have discussed Deontological Ethics and Consequentialism, we should round out our discussion with the third school of ethics – Value Ethics.  Deontological Ethics is concerned with the actions of people.  Consequentialism is concerned with the outcomes or goals of those actions.  Virtue Ethics is concerned with adopting certain virtuous behaviors and the motivation (as we have already discussed) to adopt virtues that society deems as valuable.  Many philosophers of ethics will quibble over which is the better ethical school to adopt, but it’s actually better to understand that all three are intertwined and must be merged into a hierarchical framework with ethical motives driving virtuous behavior with the goal to be a vibrant outcome that respects the individual and benefits society and ultimately reality at large.

CONCLUSION

Based on this synthesis of ideas, a hierarchical approach to ethics emerges based on the motivating factors of the individual, their level of moral development, and their relationship to other individual’s interests and needs.  From this we can determine that it is unrealistic to expect all people to understand, much less adopt, a higher ethical value if they are trying to meet lower level needs or not of the appropriate moral maturity.

Another and far more important conclusion to be drawn from available models of motivation and ethics is that this hierarchical approach does point the way to the highest ideal of ethics, morality, and virtue.  Namely, it is that the values of Rule Utilitarianism as understood within the CTMU – embodied in a vibrant, healthy existence that contribute to the self-actualization of reality and all of its constituent parts – should be treated as sacred and as inviolate as the laws of nature itself.  Since value should be maximized to the fullest possible extent, there is implied a respect and caring for, not only of other people, but also of other creatures, the environment, and ultimately the world.

Just how many of us are self-actualized enough to be at the upper tier of the hierarchy?  Kohlberg noted himself that very few of our species resides in the Post-Conventional level.  And this brings us full circle to Ben Franklin’s ideal of a United Party of Virtue.  We cannot expect those who wield the power of controlling the future of mankind – our world leaders – to go on without answering to the highest of moral virtues and expect our planet to emerge unscathed.  For this very reason we can imagine the great benefits to our planet and all its inhabitants if the world governments adopted a council of moral elders as envisioned by Benjamin Franklin with a comprehensive understanding of the correct model of reality as envisioned by Christopher Langan.  For such a party to hold any real power it would have to either be an extension of the government with appropriate balancing functionality (such as veto power) or be composed of a sufficiently representative body of powerful officials (but this runs the risk of letting personal interests interfere in public interests).

For such a thing to be instituted on a global scale might be a pipe dream.  A realistic approach is a grassroots movement conducted, not by emotional zealots, but by rational, freethinking, intelligent people.  There are many ideal candidates that fit the bill.   Let’s just hope, for the sake of mankind, that we will meet Ben Franklin’s challenge and eventually create a United Party of Virtue before it is too late.

SOURCES

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
  • A Theory of Human Motivation, Abraham Maslow
  • Work and Motivation, Victor Vroom
  • Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mills
  • Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle
  • The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A New Kind of Reality Theory, Christopher Langan
  • Essays in Moral Development (Vol. 1), Lawrence Kohlberg

Abstract: In the CTMU free will is stratified across a Trialic Metaformal Language of reality: 1) Globally (at the universal level) the universe self-generates and self-configures preserving its internal logic in a self-deterministic evolution, 2) Fundamentally (sub-atomically) the universe self-selects from ontic potential in an act of ongoing actualization, and 3) Systemically (above the sub-atomic level) the universe generates perceiving entities that have volition and may choose to advance the utility of existence or to thwart global utility.

The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU) stands as the most comprehensive achievement of reality modeling in the history of logic. What the theory yields in terms of the nature of the reality we are embedded within spans numerous domains such as Science, Philosophy, Mathematics, Psychology, and Religion, just to name some of the larger fields of human epistemology.[1]

It’s instructive to see what the CTMU says with regards to the issue of free will, but what exactly is meant by the term free will? The definition presented by Peter van Inwagen in his paper “How to Think about the Problem of Free Will” presents free will as defined in two temporal directions of past and future as:

“The free-will thesis is the thesis that we are sometimes in the following position with respect to a contemplated future act: we simultaneously have both the following abilities: the ability to perform that act and the ability to refrain from performing that act. (This entails that we have been in the following position: for something we did do, we were at some point prior to our doing it able to refrain from doing it, able not to do it.)”[2]

This follows the putative definition. Another, less philosophically-laden term, is volition – the faculty or power to freely choose using one’s will.

In discussing human volition, a dichotomy has somehow overshadowed the discussion and has chronically persisted until the CTMU came along and shattered the old edifice of Determinism/Indeterminism. Determinism represents the idea that the universe’s future, and thus also inheritable to humans, is fully determined and predictable given sufficient knowledge of any current state. If every particle were fully described as to state, position, and trajectory coupled with a full understanding of the laws of nature, then, like billiard balls careening about a pool table, we could know the full future of the system. Because human cognition is, conveniently in this case, also a part of reality, humans would lack free will in a deterministic universe.

Opposed to this idea is the concept of Indeterminism, which equates to either an unknowable or, more accurately, a random unfolding of the universe unbeholden to laws. This view has been the bane of scientific progress and was what Einstein had in mind when he famously quipped that “God does not play dice with the universe”.

As it turns out, the CTMU gives us a third option that fully explains our reality and that is Self-Determinism. But how does the universe achieve this seemingly intractable problem of being neither Deterministic nor Indeterministic?

The answer lies in the CTMU’s Trialic Metaformal Language. This defines the three levels of identity of the universe. Residing at the primary or macroscopic level is the Global Operator Descriptor (G.O.D.). This is the most general, global level of reality. At this level the G.O.D. self-generates from pure potential the actualized information of reality. This process is an evolutionary process using its inner defined teleology wherein all parts of the whole are in informational contact with every level of reality.

The secondary or mesoscopic level are telors. For our purposes, these are human beings. Telors are the inheritors of global teleology and provide a key role in conveying meaning to the G.O.D. level coupled with the ability to perceptively bring into actualization the universe.

Finally, the tertiary or microscopic level is the realm of the quantum. While Quantum Mechanics (QM) is plagued with ontological problems concerning the nature of determinacy, indeterminacy, and the nature of perception upon reality, the CTMU’s Quantum Metamechanics (QMM) achieves a resolution unparalleled.[3]

Macroscopic: 1) Globally (at the universal level) the universe self-generates and self-configures preserving its internal logic in a self-deterministic evolution.

In order for an agent to have a free choice the universe must also be open-ended and free. In a fully determined, Laplacian universe there is only one unique future that may occur. If determinism held, then nothing could be said to ever have real freedom because only one future is realizable. There have been many futile attempts to salvage free will in a fully deterministic universe. One example is Compatibilism. One of the most common arguments for Compatibilism is that God’s knowledge of the future doesn’t interfere with what free choices a person makes at the time of choice. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t stand up to logic. Either God’s knowledge isn’t complete if a person could choose differently, or our supposedly free choices must conform to God’s certain knowledge. For this reason Compatibilists cannot justify free will when ontological determinism presents no chance of freedom by positing only one, single future.

In positing an open-ended and free future, the CTMU doesn’t posit randomness or indeterminacy, but a state of pure potential called Unbound Telesis (UBT). UBT is a primordial realm of potential that is free of informational constraint. It is pure, free potential from which the universe actualizes by constraining the existence parameters of the language of reality to include the reflexive grammar by which it writes and reads itself. Reality accomplishes this feat by generating a Self-Configuring Self-Processing Language (SCSPL) that is a reflexive, intrinsic language that generates infocognition. The nature of infocognition is a dual aspect monism, which means that it is a monic medium that gives rise to a duality of cognizable information. Essentially, this means that reality not only is self-generating and self-transducing, but also self-recognizing.

So it would seem that God doesn’t know or perceive a unique future thus stripping away freedom before its constituent telors even have a chance to make a free choice. Instead, God uses a utility function to freely evolve from ontic potential.

To illustrate how perception alone can remove freedom, let’s begin with a thought experiment:

Suppose you were to create a simple mechanism that required a mobile object (such as a wind-up toy) to navigate from one side of a container to the other side. There are a series of paths and each time the mobile object arrived at a fork in the path, a “random” choice was made (e.g. a dice roll) as to which path to take. The result is that the mobile object can arrive at any number of exits from the container, which is “freely” chosen (in the sense that you aren’t dictating the choices to the mobile object).

Simple enough, right? Now let’s add an interesting twist to the scenario. Let’s suppose you are able to start the process, then jump in a time machine and go forward in time to see where the object will exit, and then return back in time to watch as the object goes about “randomly” choosing the course that leads to the outcome you now know it will take. Does the object still freely choose? Does your knowledge of the outcome affect anything?

It would seem that the act of observing a system actualizes its history and thus strips the freedom from it by destroying its potential or freedom. Molinists, for example, fail to see how the very act of God observing the future of the system strips it of its freedom. This is just another way of shifting ontological determinism from the universe to God’s mind. How does freedom remain intact if we are never allowed to deviate from the one unique determined universe in God’s mind. Another way to look at it is to say that before I ever had a chance to act or refrain from acting God knew what I would choose and I have no choice but to conform to God’s knowledge. The same holds for an atheistic view of a fully determined universe. If the laws of nature “know” what the future evolution of the universe will produce (meaning only one unique future) then how can we have any true freedom to deviate?

One might ask why is it necessary for reality to confer free will upon its internal telors? Another way of asking this is why does God need to generate perceiving beings with volition? One reason is to provide meaning. Since reality is a self-contained entity where anything outside of itself is by definition unreal, it would be an unperceived, and thus meaningless, entity if it couldn’t somehow generate its own meaning internally. To do this, reality must self-generate telors who can be classified as “self-excited circuits” participating in the universe’s observation of itself.

Another reason is that perception by telors provides generativity to reality itself at the quantum level by facilitating the actualization process. We’ll return to just how this happens in part 2.

To summarize, reality at the G.O.D. level possess free will by generating SCSPL content from UBT through global self-determinism.

Microscopic: 2) Fundamentally (sub-atomically) the universe self-selects from ontic potential in an act of ongoing actualization.

There are numerous schools of interpretation of QM. Many physicists and philosophers refuse to believe that the universe is fundamentally indeterminate and thus hold out hope that we will eventually fill in the holes of QM and find the missing mechanisms that return our universe to a fully deterministic, clockwork universe. As discussed earlier, this erroneous dichotomy means that this just hasn’t happened yet. The most widely held model since the dawn of QM is the Copenhagen Interpretation. Anton Zeilinger succinctly states:

When investigating various interpretations of quantum mechanics one notices that each interpretation contains an element which escapes a complete and full description. This element is always associated with the stochasticity of the individual event in the quantum measurement process. It appears that the implications of this limit to any description of the world has not been sufficiently appreciated with notable exceptions of, for example, Heisenberg, Pauli and Wheeler. If we assume that a deeper foundation of quantum mechanics is possible, the question arises which features such a philosophical foundation might have. It is suggested that the objective randomness of the individual quantum event is a necessity of a description of the world in view of the significant influence the observer in quantum mechanics has. It is also suggested that the austerity of the Copenhagen interpretation should serve as a guiding principle in a search for deeper understanding.“[4]

Unfortunately, the Copenhagen Interpretation essentially posits that the most that can be said for reality at the quantum level is that it is unknowable until it is observed or measured. There are numerous problems plaguing the field of Quantum Mechanics and they all relate to the ontological nature of reality at the quantum level and the futile attempt to fully describe it divorced from cognition.

Briefly, these problems are the Measurement Problem, Wave/Particle Duality, Complementarity, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. While the brunt of the scientific community frustratingly attempts to keep the abstract, mental realm of reality divorced from the physical world, they vainly grope towards a model of reality that can never be realized.

In the CTMU the modeling of the quantum world is accomplished by describing causality as self-deterministic and the process of self-creation as being logically sound and teleological. The process is called Telic Recursion and it generatively selects maximal utility from free potential (UBT). In the CTMU the “collapse of the wave function” is explained as reality self-generating the requisite laws themselves. But laws do not exist in isolation. They are defined in relation to the objects and attributes on which they act. In like manner, objects and attributes don’t exist in isolation, either. They are defined on the logic of their structures and transformations to which they are beholden. When speaking of quantum action, where this information is primordial, or pre-informational, the infocognitive objects of reality are generated from Telesis through the process of Telic Recursion.

Telic Recursion occurs at the global and local levels of reality. In the primary stage, universal laws are refined given the distribution of matter and energy. The secondary or local stage is where agent-level telors cognitively participate in the process of telic recursion by providing a meaningful actualization of reality. Because the two processes occur simultaneously, it can be said that local telors create reality from global utility.

Agent-level telors inherit from the G.O.D. global level of reality the ontological freedom to create reality. Thus, free will is distributed from the global level to the local level via the quantum process of Telic Recursion. This, together with other CTMU properties yields the Telic Principle which states that the universe self-configures from undifferentiated ontological potential (Telesis).

Mesoscopic: 3) Systemically (above the sub-atomic level) the universe generates perceiving entities that have volition and may choose to advance the utility of existence or to thwart global utility.

Many philosophers who attempt to tackle the free will problem think it is necessary to incorporate indeterminism into the actual thought process of humans at some level. This is done as an opposite reaction to determinism’s damnation of universal freedom in the Laplacian sense. Bob Doyle, on his Information Philosopher website, states that “Chance exists. If our actions are caused by chance, we lack control. We cannot call that free will because we could not be held morally responsible for random actions.”[5] But at what level does indeterminism need to reside? What exactly is this randomness contributing to our free will? Doyle’s answer is that quantum foam causes noise, as in the Communication Theoretical sense, that gives rise to random thoughts. These random thoughts serve to break the causal chain. This is a weak argument and completely misses the mark in proving that free will exists. The reason is because we typically focus our thoughts on various approaches and outcomes to situations we are contemplating when trying to decide on a course of action. Rarely would we ascribe our rationale to choosing a course of action to random thoughts.

Physicists will readily tell you that at our macro level of reality, Newtonian physics is good enough for most every action we observe or propose to predict. In the non-CTMU view, the randomness of the QM world stabilizes and for all practical purposes, the universe at the macro level is deterministic. Many scientists and philosophers balk at the Fine-Tuning Argument because of its tautological nature, but the truth is that the universe does appear to operate within very narrow parameters that allow systems to stabilize and evolve along seemingly deterministic lines.

Systems (to include our brains) must operate in a practically determined fashion for there to be logical coherence to the universe. If randomness truly were to reside at the systemic level then we would be left with seemingly random causes operating throughout nature. So how is it then that humans can have free will in such a “seemingly deterministic” universe? The answer isn’t in random quantum foam causing micro-noise. The answer, once again, is in self-determinism.

Self-determinism is defined as “a doctrine that the actions of a self are determined by itself”.[6] Many thinkers on the topic of self-determinism seem to think that it is necessary to either explain how self-determinism breaks the causal chain or else initiates the causal chain altogether. Neither case is necessary for free will to exist in teleological agents. Instead, self-determinism is necessary for agents to form the necessary systems that lead to more sophisticated, self-referential brains.

The importance is in showing that the future of the universe is truly one of UBT and is thus freely open. Otherwise, determinism would hold completely and the universe would be a giant determined algorithm that is churning out set results. The end state would be front-loaded. Instead, we can say that the universe is truly evolving as it actualizes and there is always a degree of probability associated with the outcomes.

But first, let’s describe some of the features necessary to call an agent self-determined. When pinpointing just exactly the dividing line between an agent that possesses free will (such as a human) and an agent that is said to exhibit goal-seeking behavior but not possess volition (such as a thermostat or heat seeking missile) we soon realize that lines can be hard to demarcate. One area of research that is diligently trying to explicate these differences is the field of Artificial Intelligence. How does one go about programming a computer to simulate the human brain and break out of the Halting Problem?

In a very insightful paper by George Chadderdon entitled “Assessing Machine Volition: An Ordinal Scale for Rating Artificial and Natural Systems”[7] we find a list of attributes that serve to identify agents that possess free will: autonomous behavior, sensory organs, feedback and feedforward loops, memory, teleology (goals, intentions, & desires), motion (animacy), parallel-processing/distributed processing, and self-awareness/self-reflection.

Chadderdon goes on to present an ordinal scale similar to a Turing Test that helps to determine at what level does a natural or artificial system fall on the volitional scale. A synopsis of this scale follows:

Level 0 – Non-Volitional Systems

Level 0.0      Inanimate Object                      rocks, utensils, etc.

Level 0.1      Schizoid Automata                    clocks, wind-up dolls, etc.

Level 0.2      Reactive Automata                    vehicle engines, running motors, etc.

Level 1 – Instinct-Driven Automata

Level 1.0      Value-Driven Automata             thermostats, heat-seeking missiles

Level 1.1      Modal Value-Driven Automata  single-celled organisms, insects, etc.

Level 2 – Contained Self Organism

Level 2.0      Pavlovian Organisms                 simple reactive animals that can learn preferences

Level 2.1      Ideational Organisms                animals that can hold items in memory for task behaviors

Level 2.2      Recollective Organisms             animals that remember semantic relationships or gestalt events

Level 2.3      Deliberative Organisms             animals that navigate complex spaces

Level 3 – Extended Self Organisms

Level 3.0      Social Organisms                       rats, dogs, cats, horses, etc.

Level 3.1      Manipulative Organisms            monkeys and apes

Level 3.2      Symbolic Organisms                  primitive humans

Level 3.3      Cultural Organisms                    modern humans

We see that following an evolutionary progression along the scale gives more and more sophistication in regards to teleology and self-determinism. It’s at the Level 2 scale that we see free will beginning to emerge in self-contained systems. At the highest level we encounter what Charles Campbell argued in 1938 as being the truest form of free will: moral temptation. In a moral dilemma we find the Cultural Organism’s character grappling with the agent’s moral ideal.[8]

Many thinkers on the subject focus on just how an agent breaks the cause-effect chain. But how exactly is the causal chain broken so that humans can be said to possess free will? One attempt to explain this comes from Tim Manning, a Business Architect form the United Kingdom, who explains along these lines of thinking:

“When considering what causes a particular effect, we tend to generate a list of factors and weight these in terms of importance.  This has been referred to as laundry list thinking. This assumes a linear relationship between cause and effect, with each factor having a fixed relative importance.  If only life was that simple.  Unfortunately, causes are more often dynamic, rather than static.  The relative importance of any one factor may change over time, depending on the feedback loops that exist.  It is better to think in terms of influencing factors, rather than causes.  This is an important point to remember next time you find yourself using an Ishikawa or fishbone diagram, as part of a quality improvement initiative.”[9]

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to break the chain. It might confound the trail but one could trace the loops and segues back to prior causes outside of the feedback loop. Cause and effect are necessary to lead up to a decision point. The looping back causes interesting effects that we typically think of as emergent behavior that raises the explanatory power out of mere reductionist explanations. David Deutsch makes this argument by using a copper atom in the nose of a statue of Churchill. A reduction of explanation to mere physics doesn’t capture the higher levels of explanation necessary to explain how that particular atom came to be in the statue.[10] In order to fully explain its presence one would need to invoke explanations of metallurgy, human art, human veneration of famous people and how those venerated people are sometimes memorialized in bronze statues. Similarly, as we progress up Chadderdon’s ordinal scale we behold levels of complexity magnify as we gain the ability to store information in memory, think about our own thoughts, and model the future.

The causal chain doesn’t need to be broken, it just requires that intention be introduced into the process during the chain at some point. Volition then becomes a part of the causal chain – this can be unconscious volition or conscious volition in higher states of awareness. Many would discount unconscious volition as something other than free will but the unconscious mind can be primed by conscious intentions.

Another volitional feature is our attempt to model and predict the truly unknown future. One trait that captures the essence of this is the concept of feedforward. Feedforward is a method of learning that emphasizes future goals, behaviors, or success by envisioning or modeling a potential future. To return for a moment to future UBT, we are trying to predict the future and make decisions on how we think we can affect the actualization of the universe, even if it’s just our small sphere of influence.

The CTMU’s Reality Principle states: The real universe contains all and only that which is real. The supertautological grounding of the model means that it is the only model of reality that explicates a comprehensive causal model of self-determinism across the full Trialic domains from the quantum level to systemic internal telors and all the way up to global reality.

[1] Langan, C. M. (2002). The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A New Kind of Reality Theory. Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design.

[2] Van Inwagen, Peter: “How to Think about the Problem of Free Will”, Journal of Ethics 12:327-341.

[3] Langan, C. M. (2019). Introduction to Quantum Metamechanics. Mega Foundation Press.

[4] Zeilinger, Anton: “On the Interpretation and Philosophical Foundation of Quantum Mechanics”, Vastakohtien todellisuus, Helsinki Press, 1996.

[5] Doyle, Bob: “The Information Philosopher” website, http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/standard_argument.html, retrieved 28 Aug 2020.

[6] Merriam-Webster; “definition of self-determinism”, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/self-determinism, retrieved 28 Aug 2020.

[7] Chadderdon, George; “Assessing Machine Volition: An Ordinal Scale for Rating Artificial and Natural Systems”, http://adb.sagepub.com/content/16/4/246.abstract?rss=1, retrieved 28 Aug 2020.

[8] Campbell, Charles; “In Defense of Free Will”, Inaugural Address, Glasgow University, 1938.

[9] Manning, Tim; “Design for Services”, http://design4services.com/concepts/systems-thinking/system-behaviour/, retrieved 28 Aug 2020.

[10] Deutsch, David; “The Fabric of Reality”, Penguin, 1997.

DISCLAIMER:  The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe was created and authored by Christopher Michael Langan.  What follows is my interpretation of his theory.

The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU) is what is called a Theory of Everything(TOE).  In the typical, scientific TOE, objective reality and observation are treated with priority while subjective reality and cognition are relegated to an inferior position.  But a true theory of everything should explain both the concrete and the abstract.  The CTMU is the first TOE that explains the relationship between the observer and what is observed.  The CTMU is not merely a theory but is an extension of how logic is employed to build models and theories.  In this sense, the CTMU is meta-logical because it explains how we construct theories through our cognition in order to explain objective reality.

In the field of Formal Logic a tautology is a statement whose truth-value is indisputable.  It is of the type:

1) A=A

or

2) All bachelors are single.

Because, by definition, a bachelor is a single man, statement 2 is necessarily true.  It is typically thought that a tautology lacks new information.  This is true so long as the scope that a tautology references is sufficiently small.  If a tautology’s scope is large enough, new and useful information can be gleaned from a tautological statement.  Good examples of this are the dictionary and the field of algebra whose usefulness goes without saying.

The CTMU uses the truth-value of a tautology and stretches the scope to the ultimate limit at the outset by making the foundation of the theory a tautological statement about reality itself. This tautological statement is called the Reality Principle and it says:

The real universe contains all and only that which is real.

So where is the new information?  Well, for starters, this makes any attempt at a theory of reality that incorporates external causation a logical dead-end.  In other words, the only logically valid explanation of our reality says that there is nothing outside of reality that can affect reality.  If there were anything external to reality that could affect reality then it would automatically become real and thus, be a part of reality.

This logical condition has far reaching ramifications for cosmogenesis.  In essence, it means that we can avoid an infinite regress of prior cause by positing that reality self-created and this would be the only logical explanation for cosmogenesis.

The CTMU goes on to show that any self-contained system or theory about said system must obey certain containment principles.  Namely, a self-contained TOE must meet the requirements that the theory is closed, comprehensive, and consistent.

The closure principle of the CTMU is called the Metaphysical Autology Principle (MAP).  In essence, MAP says that anything relevant to reality is generated by reality.  It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about explanations, descriptions, compositions, objects, laws, or cognitive categories – they all are created from within reality.

The Mind Equals Reality Principle (M=R) of the CTMU addresses the comprehensivity of reality.  In the traditional view of reality, mind and matter are separated by what has come to be known as Cartesian Dualism.  Unfortunately, much of the split between science and philosophy has arisen because of many years of Cartesian Dualism.  But both the subjective, mental world and the objective, material world are contained within reality.  The M=R Principle simply shows that the two sides of Cartesian Dualism reduce to a unitary relational medium.  In this way, reality is comprehensive enough to be both the abstract and concrete manifestations that mankind has divided into a dual aspect reality.

The principle in the CTMU that addresses consistency is called the Multiplex Unity Principle(MU).  The syntax of reality is ultimately a unitary informational medium that generates the multiple configurations that we experience.  The reason that we can reduce reality to a common medium is because of the coherence of reality to itself.  Anywhere that reality encounters reality, it recognizes itself.  The syntax of reality unifies in a topological and descriptive coincident existence.  From the topological perspective, syntax becomes state; and from the descriptive perspective, state becomes syntax.

The fact that a unitary relational medium gives rise to the various dual-natured aspects of reality means information can flow in both directions – from simplicity to complexity, and from complexity to simplicity (just as the unitary syntax of reality seemingly gives rise to Cartesian Dualism).  This type of feature of reality is called syndiffeonesis, which means a sameness relation expressed through difference.  An example would be short and tall, which are differences that are reducible to the sameness relation of height.  Another term that the CTMU uses to express this relationship is called dual-aspect monism.

By reducing reality to a common, syntactical medium it becomes quite obvious that reality behaves much like a language.  But, any language we look to within reality to express this is really a sub-language of the language of reality.  So, in essence, reality can be treated like a meta-language whose atomic make-up is cognizable information.  The CTMU calls this infocognition.  This meta-language possesses infocognition that form relations through nomological (both physical and logical laws) functions.  Since we have already established that reality is self-created and self-contained we can now introduce the next idea in the CTMU:  reality is a Self-Configuring, Self-Processing Language (SCSPL).

Since reality is an SCSPL that creates itself, writes itself, and reads itself along with the laws that govern its processing, the universe operates through self-determinacy.  This leaves the standard concepts of determinacy and indeterminacy as logical dead-ends when constructing a TOE.  Self-determinacy has far reaching consequences when it comes to teleology (the study of design or purpose in natural phenomena) and meaning.  Basically, the structure and meaning of reality are self-determined as it evolves.

The self-determinacy of reality suggests a feedback mechanism because reality must determine a new state-syntax transition by referencing other syntactical states.  This feedback mechanism is the teleological component of reality and it is called Telic Recursion.  In order to completely understand Telic Recursion it is very important to have a basic understanding of the quantum world.  I will not go into an explanation of quantum physics here; but I will say that Telic Recursion describes the quantum world in terms of reality actualizing through a self-selection of a utility function from many possible future states.  This process is what is happening when the quantum wave function collapses into an actualized observation of state.

The evolution of reality through Telic Recursion is logical in the sense that any state of reality that is actualized must have been selected through a logical pathway.  This logical pathway of actualization is called binding of logical constraints in Formal Logic.  If we were to remove the logical constraints of the binding of logic – reverse the telic evolution of reality – we would remove the actualized logical constraints of reality until we finally arrived at a point where there is a complete lack of logical bindings in reality.  What we are left with after conducting this thought experiment is what the CTMU calls Unbound Telesis (UBT).  Since reality actualizes from potential future states, UBT is pure potential rather than mere nothingness.

In cosmology there is a theory that says the universe came into existence from nothingness.  This is called cosmogenesis ex nihilo.  The CTMU replaces the nothingness of this model with UBT.  When logical binding occurs through Telic Recursion, that which is actualized becomes real and that which doesn’t meet the logical requirement of self-actualization becomes unreal.

This utility function of reality is how reality teleologically self-configures.  Much of our understanding of the quantum world is counterintuitive when looked at from the standard theories and models that try and explain reality.  These paradoxes disappear in the CTMU and are easily explained in terms of a reality that is in the process of self-actualization.

Another problem that the standard models have explaining is the expanding universe.  Given the Reality Principle we cannot logically propose that our universe is expanding into anything that doesn’t already qualify as a part of reality.  If there is nothing outside reality, then reality doesn’t exist in space.  On the contrary, space exists within reality.  There can be no metric for reality to be embedded in so it is illogical to suggest that our universe is expanding in any absolute sense.  This doesn’t deny the fact that our universe appears to be expanding from our internal perspective; but it is more logical to say that we are contracting within the universe.

Now, it must also be understood that our universe, actualizing through telic feedback, suggests that reality operates in an iterative fashion.  The continuity that we experience in our macro-world breaks down once we get below the Planck Length.  Causality and the continuity of space no longer hold in the micro-world.  The evolution of reality is broken and each new iteration is an actualization, through the feedback mechanism of Telic Recursion, of previous iterations.

When the concepts of the previous two paragraphs are combined into the CTMU’s model of cosmology we get a model that explains the universe, not as expanding, but a universe wherein the objects are, relatively speaking, contracting.  Both judgments are correct as far as appearances go, but logic prevents reality from expanding into an absolute metric not already implicated in reality.  In CTMU terms this is called conspansion and it is fully explained in the Universe as Self-Representational Entity (USRE) model of cosmology.

Basically, the universe evolves through a discrete re-scaling factor whose rate is distributed homogeneously throughout.  It is in the realm of quantum physics where this behavior appears discrete.  At the macroscopic level our world appears smooth and continuous.

Stating that reality’s utility function is aimed at self-actualization means that this utility is a generalized feature of reality.  Reality possesses this utility at both a global level and also at local levels.  Global utility is heritable by the localized entities of reality and becomes their local utility.  Telic Recursion is not only understood as an interplay of actualization and potential, but is also an interplay between constraint and freedom.  This is because potential is a lack of constraint and is therefore, freedom.

Reality configures itself in such a way that we are localized agents who have inherited this utility of telic freedom.  By granting us this freedom we have the ability to choose to either create positive utility or to create negative utility for the system we call reality.  This is the CTMU version of freewill.  Reality confers freewill to its localized agents who are in a position to use their freewill for positive or negative utility.

Sources:

The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe – A New Kind of Reality Theory, Christopher Michael Langan

Flash from Deep Space: Supernews on Supernovas, Christopher Michael Langan

Introduction to the CTMU, Christopher Michael Langan

On Absolute Truth and Knowledge, Christopher Michael Langan

Ymir’s Brain, Rain, and Logic

The Norse creation myth says that the world was created by Odin and his brothers from the slain body of the giant Ymir.  They used his blood for the lakes and oceans, his unbroken bones were used to form the mountains, his teeth and broken bones became the rocks and boulders, his hair became trees, his skull was hoisted by four dwarves and became the dome of the sky, and his brains became the clouds.

It may seem hard to believe that people actually accepted such a fanciful tale as truth but it was once the common belief among the Nordic race.  So, I thought up this little story on belief that revolves around the brains of Ymir as a little jumping off point to begin this article:

One day Ulfgar, Thorkil, and Snori were sitting on a hillside relaxing.  Thorkil said to Ulfgar and Snori, “I don’t believe that the clouds are really the brains of Ymir.  I think that the clouds are really water.”

With this, Ulfgar and Snori began laughing at Thorkil.  Snori said, “That’s impossible.  Water doesn’t float in the air.  If that were the case then the fjords would be in the sky.”

Thorkil continued, though, “The rain comes from the sky, so there must be water up there to begin with.”

Ulfgar and Snori thought about this and Ulfgar said, “Yes, but the rain doesn’t stay up there. It falls to the ground.  It never rises up there.”

Thorkil then explained further, “The other morning I was riding through the valley and it was foggy.  I noticed that the fog looked like a cloud from a distance but when I rode through it I could see about me a short way.”

Ulfgar snickered and retorted, “So?”

Thorkil continued, “Well, as I rode through the fog I became chilled because I got soaked to the bone by the time I emerged on the other side of the valley.”

Snori said, “Yes, everyone has experienced this but what does that have to do with the clouds?”

Thorkil said, “Let me finish. I began to think about where the fog goes when the sun comes up.  The fog seems to just sneak away but where does it really go?  So I sat on the hillside the rest of the morning and watched the fog.”

Snori was curious now.  He asked, “So, where did it sneak off to?”

Thorkil smiled and said, “It didn’t sneak off. It just slowly disappeared.  Don’t you see?  The fog goes into the sky so slow that you don’t even notice it.  The fog goes into the sky and becomes clouds.  When the clouds get thick with water they turn dark and then it rains back down.”

Ulfgar didn’t buy it, though.  “That is crap, Thorkil.  Snori, don’t believe his mad rantings.”

Thorkil replied, “I bet that going through a cloud would be just like going through the fog.”

Snori thought about all of what Thorkil had said and thought that Thorkil was right.  A couple of days later he asked Ulfgar when they were alone, “Why don’t you believe what Thorkil said about the clouds to be true?”

Ulfgar retorted, “Because everyone knows that the clouds are Ymir’s brains.”

Suppose that you held a belief that was so central to who you are that changing that belief would disrupt who you are.  And then suppose that someone presented you with a logical proof that destroyed your belief.  Keep in mind that their reasoning was completely logical to you.  Would you have any choice but to believe logic?  Such is the nature of truth.  When it’s logical there is no arguing about it.

Logic, Meaning, Belief, and the Psyche

Why does a person believe the things he or she does?  I would like to analyze this question in an effort to show that logic reigns supreme in the determining of what a person “should” believe.  I say “should believe” because people believe things not only through logic but also by other means.  I would like to use Jung’s map of the psyche in order to illustrate how different beliefs are formed.  Jung divides the psyche into a symmetrical object called an ogdoad.

Figure 1. shows four of the six components of the psyche according to Jung.  The top pyramid is considered to be the conscious portion of the psyche and the bottom pyramid is the unconsciousportion.  Jung’s use of the term unconscious refers to what might be better understood as the subconscious.  The two poles of the thinking and the feeling compose the rational axis of the psyche passing through both the conscious and the unconscious.  The axis that connects the sensation and the intuition are the irrational functions of the psyche.  The two poles, which are not labeled, are that of introversion and extroversion, which I shall address later.  The egoresides in the center of all of these poles and it should be noted that these poles are not fixed but are in a constant state of fluctuation in and around the ego.

The thinking portion of the psyche (the rational, conscious) evaluates and judges through cognition from the standpoint of “true-false”.  The feeling portion (the rational, unconscious) evaluates and judges through cognition from the standpoint of “pleasant-unpleasant”.  These are 2-valued logic (2VL) evaluation and judgment criteria.  Belief is a term that refers to a truth-value, however.  Ultimately, the unconscious rational 2VL must be brought into the conscious plane and evaluated on the 2VL of “true-false” in order to determine the truth of a belief formed based on the 2VL of the unconscious rational.  In other words, sometimes the truth hurts.

Nevertheless, people still do form beliefs based solely on feelings and the 2VL of “pleasant-unpleasant”.  It is inevitable for people to gravitate towards beliefs that make them feel comfortable or content; and people do this unconsciously.  If they are conscious of these beliefs then it is usually because they attempt to justify these beliefs on the grounds of faulty logic.  That is why it is important to realize this in the conscious field of the psyche and try and bring these beliefs into evaluation in the thinking field through the use of correct logic.

The two poles that comprise the irrational axis are sensation and intuition.  These functions operate on raw perceptions, which are not evaluated or interpreted.  Sensation perceives things as they are.  It is the functioning of pure sensory-neural stimuli.  It is the closest that a human comes to interacting with the environment without any mental interpretation.  Intuitionperceives things on a more internalized, unconscious level.  Jung describes intuition as the irrational perception, which is an inner or inherent potential of reality.  To intuitively perceive something is to have knowledge, or form a belief, outside of the rational realm of rationalization.  Obviously, it is necessary to once again bring these beliefs into the thinking realm in order to subject them to the 2VL of “true-false”.  There have been many amazing insights and discoveries made with intuitive leaps, however.  But, ultimately, it is the thinking function that determines the merit of these insights.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Volume IV gives a very comprehensive definition of intuition. “Intuition:  The broadest definition of the term ‘intuition’ is ‘immediate apprehension’.  ‘Apprehension’ is used to cover such disparate states as sensation, knowledge, and mystical rapport.  ‘Immediate’ has as many senses as there are kinds of mediation.  It may be used to signify:

  • The absence of inference
  • The absence of causes
  • The absence of the ability to define a term
  • The absence of justification
  • The absence of symbols
  • The absence of thought

The principle meanings of ‘intuition’:

  1. Intuition is unjustified true belief not preceded by inference (‘a hunch’)
  2. Intuition as immediate (not preceded by inference) knowledge of truth of a proposition
  3. Intuition as immediate knowledge of a concept (knowledge which does not entail the ability to define a concept)
  4. Intuition as non-propositional knowledge of an entity. This sense of intuition is exemplified by:
    1. Sense perceptions, considered as products of a cognitive faculty
    2. Distinct from the faculty of forming judgments concerning the entity sensed
    3. Intuitions of universals (as time and space) (intuitive knowledge of a prioritruths)
    4. Mystical or inexpressible intuitions (as Bergson’s duration, Fichte’s Transcendental Ego, the mystic’s intuition of God).”

It is interesting to note that Jung uses the term “potential” in his description of human intuition.  In the stripping away of logical constraints we ultimately arrive at 2VL itself.  To go beyond this point is to venture into the realm where logical comparison is no longer possible.  The most that can be said about this state is that it is pre-logical.  So, it might be better to use the term pre-rational rather than irrational to describe the axis of the sensation/intuition – the point at which our cognition intersects with reality.

Jung called the other axis the extroversion/ introversion portions of the psyche.  These terms explain the psyche’s attitude towards the world.  I find Jung’s terms to be limited in their definitive scope and would replace the terms with external and internal.  This would broaden the scope of the psyche to be the union of the environment external to the human biological organism and the cognition taking place internal to the human body.  The concepts of extroversion and introversion would then be encapsulated within a broader and more explanatory concept.

Before moving on from the topic of Jung’s Ogdoad of the Psyche, I would like to point out an interesting comment by Jung about causation.  Jung mentions that the human psyche can’t be understood by causation alone, but we must also take into account the aims of the psyche.  This introduces finality, and not just causality, in the accounting of human cognition.  Essentially, Jung is saying that determinism is not adequate to explain our cognitive faculties.  We must also take into account self-determinism in order to understand the psyche.

Correlated and Non-Correlated Realities

 Ultimately, there is but one reality.  Yet, the human condition is such that there can be innumerable interpretations and beliefs about the nature of reality.  A person’s subjective view is often not in accord with objective reality.  When two people’s views are not in accord with each other or one person possesses knowledge that another does not possess then we can say that their views are non-correlated.  If, however, they agree with each other then their views are correlated.  We can further divide our subjective views of reality into external statements of reality and internal statements of reality.  For example, if I say that a picture is beautiful and you view the same picture and declare it to be ugly, we are both making true statements about the same picture.  We agree about the correlated external object because we both agree about which picture we are describing.  But we have an instance of non-correlated internal truths about reality.  Because we are describing individual taste, or aesthetics, it is acceptable for our realities to be non-correlated.  So, is there no hope for ultimate truth?  Fortunately, these differences are the root of many beliefs and interpretations of meaning, which make each of us unique.  But, when properly understood, it doesn’t jeopardize ultimate truth.  Remember the 2VL of the rational function of the psyche has two poles.  The unconscious portion is the feelingportion and it judges by the 2VL of pleasant/unpleasant.  Aesthetics, taste, and personal preference falls under the feeling function and it would be more accurate to say that “the picture is beautiful because I find it pleasant” rather than “the picture is beautiful because it is the ultimate truth”.  These views are shaped by our genetics and our experiences throughout our life.  They evolve unconsciously and to truly understand them is to raise them to the conscious portion of our psyche.  If we both rationalize why I find the picture beautiful and you find the picture ugly then we begin to have empathy and sympathy for each other’s views.  Then we begin to correlate our internal realities and understand each other.  I may then say, “I think the picture is beautiful but I can understand why you think it is ugly”.

This idea of correlating our beliefs amounts to a search for ultimate truth.  In order for a true correlation to occur there must be a Theory of Everything (TOE) established from which all derivative knowledge will flow.  The current quest for a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) can never fit this bill as long as the focus is so narrow.  If and when a GUT is realized, it will merely be a sub-theory, which must fall under a true TOE.  As long as science ignores its metaphysical mother it will never produce a true Theory of Everything.  But a true correlation of beliefs coupled with the proper TOE creates what is known as a world-view.  We each have our own world-view which shapes who we are.  Unfortunately, most people’s world-views are not grounded upon a logically valid TOE from which a healthy world-view would form.  At first it might sound like this correlation of world-views would produce an entire species of brainwashed humanoids having very little in the way of freewill.  Is there no escape from the quest for truth producing within us all a collective mind with no room for individuality?  Is science not headed down this path already?  Well, don’t panic just yet.  Your individuality and freewill are perfectly safe.  It just so happens that nature has just enough “wiggle” room to give us our truth with our freewill still intact.  We can all share a common understanding of the logical fabric of reality while still contributing our own, unique quality to the world.

Characteristics of a Correlated World-View

 The Belgian philosopher Leo Apostel foresaw the need for our species to embrace a correlated world-view.  In his short book entitled World-Views, From Fragmentation to Integration he spoke at length about some of the benefits of the human race realizing such a thing.  Leo’s little book set the challenge for humans to come together and collectively pool their knowledge in order to integrate and create a TOE from which we could prepare for the next stage of our development.  The human species has had a good run so far but let’s face it, we need a little direction.  Unless we can come together and start thinking about our future we may not get a second ride on the evolutionary-go-round.  But poor Leo underestimated the power of the human brain.  He predicted that a well-formulated world-view would have to be a massive project requiring the dissecting and dispersing of different areas to many humans.  Fortunately for us (and sadly for Leo), we have Christopher Michael Langan.

Chris has single handedly realized what Leo predicted to take many minds and much time.  The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU) not only is a TOE to be reckoned with, it is logical to the core.  But the CTMU is “more” than just a TOE, it is a world-view right after Leo’s own heart.  The CTMU not only explains reality to us, it also shows the reason why we need to get off of our haunches and start contributing to the utility of not only our species, but to reality itself.

Let’s take a look at the seven key components a world-view must address right out of Leo’s book and show how the CTMU fits the bill – and leaves a good tip too:

  1. What is the nature of our world? How is it structured and how does it function?

The CTMU shows that our reality is ultimately reduced to infocognitive state-syntax, which is cross-refined from Unbound Telesis (UBT) through a Self-Configuring, Self-Processing Language (SCSPL) via a process known as Telic Recursion.  The structure of our world is SCSPL created infocognition and it functions through telic feedback.

  1. Why is our world the way it is, and not different? Why are we the way we are, and not different?  What kind of global explanatory principles can we put forward?

Our world is the way it is because of the logical constraints which reality must adhere to. Through Telic Recursion reality selects the best possible future that will support its self-actualization and global utility function.  Since we are agent-level telors who are local expressions of the holistic medium of which we reside, we inherit the ability to either contribute to or take from the utility of reality.  As for global explanatory principles – here’s a few:  The Reality Principle, The Metaphysical Autology Principle, The Mind Equals Reality Principle, The Multiplex Unity Principle, and The Extended Superposition Principle.

  1. Why do we feel the way we feel in this world, and how do we assess global reality, and the role of our species in it?

Generally we feel the way we feel because of the level of understanding (or lack thereof) we have of our world in which we live, the amount of utility or worth we possess in relation to it, and the amount of freedom or control we have in our lives.  That is why the CTMU is not only the logical explanation of reality, but is also the basis of a new ethics for the future of mankind.

  1. How are we to act and to create in this world? How, in what different ways, can we influence the world and transform it?  What are the general principles by which we should organize our actions?

 The concept of each agent-level telor possessing a unique self that is stratified over reality leads to a vested interest in not only personal utility, but also group and global utility.  The CTMU suggests a globally and temporally extended version of the Golden Rule and Negative Golden Rule.  Contributing to the betterment of our species is the most basic method of transforming the world.

  1. What future is open to us and our species in this world?

 Our future is potentially infinite; but, for starters, a person can begin by deciding to make positive contributions within the means currently available to them.

  1. How are we to construct our image of this world in such a way that we can come up with answers to (1), (2), and (3)?

 Read A New Kind of Reality Theory. The answers are all there.

  1. What are some of the partial answers that we can propose to these questions?

 Why settle for partial answers when you can have the whole ball of yarn?  I’m telling you, it’s the cat’s meow!

RESOURCES:

Myths of the Norsemen – From the Eddas and Sagas, H. A. Guerber

The Psychology of C. G. Jung, Jolande Jacobi

World-Views, From Fragmentation to Integration, Leo Apostel

The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe – A New Kind of Reality Theory, Christopher Michael Langan