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A Foolish Guide to Ontology

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"Delusion is the human Superpower … The universe, or god, or whatever, is simply TOO vast to know, and TOO big to live in as IT is... we can go out and explore and wonder about IT during the daytime, but each of us MUST construct a much smaller bubble of comfortable delusion in which to go to sleep at night called Home”

- Upaya

Introduction

  The human mind, a marvel of imagination and storytelling, has long been a subject of fascination and intrigue. The ability to create narratives and beliefs enables us to navigate complex social structures, understand the world around us, and cooperate in unparalleled ways. However, this talent for storytelling also has the potential to lead us down a path of delusion, where we may lose sight of the distinction between fact and fiction. As we explore the relationship between sanity and delusion, it becomes apparent that these two concepts are not as mutually exclusive as they may first appear. Instead, they exist along a continuum, where the lines between them are often blurred.

 

 

 

 

Sanity is commonly defined as the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner, exhibiting sound mental health. Conversely, delusion refers to a belief that is maintained despite evidence to the contrary. While these definitions seem straightforward, the relationship between sanity and delusion is far more complex. The power of shared stories has been a driving force in human history, enabling us to cooperate on a large scale and leading to the development of complex societies and civilizations.

 

  At the same time, our collective belief in these narratives can be considered a form of delusion, as many of the stories we accept as truth are not grounded in objectivity. The widespread belief in the power of language to grasp reality contributes to the blurred line between sanity and insanity. Language can serve as a finger pointing towards the moon, guiding our understanding towards it. However, the finger is not the moon itself, and the moon, or reality, remains itself ineffable and mysterious. Recognizing the limitations of language and the potential for delusion in our collective narratives is essential for maintaining sanity. By acknowledging the subjective nature of our experiences and the limitations of language, we can strike a balance between delusion and sanity.

 

 

 

 

  The value of these shared stories, even when we admit their fictional nature, cannot be understated. They provide us with a framework for understanding ourselves, our place in the world, and the complexity of human existence. As we strive for personal growth and self-improvement, it is essential to recognize the role that these narratives play in shaping our lives.

"H2G2 30:127: “Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I think that the chances of finding out what's actually going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is say, "Hang the sense of it," and keep yourself occupied”  -Praised be Douglas Adams

Layers of Existence

  Existence is a complex interplay between layers that range a spectrum from the “Real” level of Nature, to the “Imagination” level of Human Nature. These five layers of existence provide a framework for understanding the world and our place within it, while also highlighting the significance of each layer in shaping our experiences and perceptions.

“Each of us is only half real and the other half is imaginary … but at the end of the day, it is the Imaginary stuff that we actually care about… …we can say oxygen is “real”, and the dollar is “imaginary”… But how many of you count your oxygen Atoms?” -Upaya

Nature (100% reality)

  This layer represents the reality that can be said to exist independently of human perception, encompassing natural phenomena such as gravity, oxygen, and the Earth’s ecosystems. Nature is the bedrock of existence, providing the foundation for all other layers. It is crucial to recognize that nature is the only layer that can be accurately described as “real,” as it exists beyond our perceptions and beliefs, without any human-imposed constructs.

Objective relationships (75% real, 25% imaginary)

 

  This layer consists of the connections and interactions between entities within the natural world. While these relationships are grounded in the reality of nature, our understanding of them is influenced by our subjective experiences and the imaginary units of measurement we employ. For example, scientific concepts like distance and time are based on phenomena found in nature but are ultimately human constructs, subject to interpretation and debate. Recognizing the interplay between the real and imaginary aspects of this layer is essential for understanding the complexity of existence.

Subjective experience (50% real, 50% imaginary)

  This layer is comprised of our individual perceptions, emotions, and thoughts, which are influenced by both reality and our imagination. for this reason it is also important to recognize that this is the layer of existence that all conscious agents are limited to epistemologically speaking. Our subjective experiences are shaped by our personal histories, beliefs, and values, and they can offer valuable insights into our understanding of the world. It is important to remember that while our subjective experiences are influenced by the reality of nature, they are also deeply intertwined with our imaginative constructs.

Intersubjective mythology (75% imaginary, 25% real)

  This layer encompasses the shared stories, beliefs, and cultural narratives that shape societies and communities. Although they may not be grounded in the reality of nature, they have a profound impact on our lives and actions. These shared mythologies enable us to cooperate and form complex social structures, as they provide a common framework for understanding the world. Recognizing the largely imaginary nature of this layer is essential for understanding the power of collective beliefs and their influence on human behavior.

"Human nature” (100% imagination)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  This layer is the realm of abstract concepts, ideas, and mental constructs that exist solely within our minds, such as ethics, justice, and beauty. While these constructs are entirely imaginative, they hold immense power in shaping our understanding of the world and guiding our actions. Acknowledging the imaginary nature of this layer allows us to explore the human capacity for creativity and the role of imagination in our lives.

  Each layer of existence offers unique insights into the complexities of human experience and the nature of reality. By understanding the distinctions between the layers and recognizing the interplay between real and imaginary aspects, we can develop a more nuanced understanding of existence and better navigate the complexities of life.

  Poetic naturalism, an approach to ontology, enables us to engage with different layers of existence by providing a framework for communication and understanding across them. Developed by physicist and philosopher Sean Carroll, poetic naturalism emphasizes the importance of using appropriate language and terms for each layer, recognizing the limitations and potential for miscommunication inherent in language.

 

 

 

 

  According to poetic naturalism, each layer of existence can be described using its own set of concepts and vocabulary, which may not be applicable or meaningful when applied to other layers. In order to effectively engage with the different layers of existence, it is essential to recognize that each layer has its own unique characteristics and requires a distinct mode of inquiry. By adopting the framework of poetic naturalism, we can navigate the complexities of existence with greater precision and nuance. As we move between layers, it is important to be mindful of the potential for miscommunication and misunderstandings. For example, the language used to describe the laws of physics in the layer of Nature may not be appropriate for discussing the subjective experiences or intersubjective mythologies that characterize the higher layers. Attempting to apply scientific terminology or methods to the exploration of subjective experiences or intersubjective mythologies may lead to confusion or reductionist thinking. Similarly, relying solely on emotional or subjective language when discussing objective relationships or natural phenomena may obscure the underlying principles at work.

  By adopting a flexible and adaptive poetic naturalist approach, we can effectively explore each layer of existence in its own right, while also fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of the world and our place within it. This holistic perspective enables us to recognize the value of both objective and subjective modes of inquiry, as well as the importance of shared stories and cultural narratives in shaping our understanding of the world. Moreover, understanding the role of intersubjective mythologies in shaping our collective identity can foster greater empathy and compassion, as well as an appreciation for the diverse range of beliefs, values, and perspectives that characterize the human experience. This awareness can, in turn, inspire us to engage more meaningfully with our own personal narratives, and begin to show us the wisdom of drawing upon archetypal stories like The Hero’s Journey to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of life. In this way, the implications of poetic naturalism extend beyond the realm of academic inquiry and philosophical debate, offering practical guidance for personal growth and self-improvement. By acknowledging the existence of multiple layers, we can cultivate a more balanced and integrated approach to life, embracing both the objective realities of the natural world and the subjective richness of our inner lives.

Personal Growth Through Embracing Delusion AND Honesty

 

“A fool who knows their own foolishness is wise at least so far”

-Dhammapada

 

  The pursuit of personal growth and self-improvement is an ongoing, dynamic process that necessitates engaging with the complexities of existence and confronting our delusions. Confronting our delusions head-on requires embracing the power of honesty in all aspects of our lives. By being honest with ourselves and others, we can begin to dismantle the delusions that hold us back and create more authentic and fulfilling narratives. employing "Radical Honesty" and understanding the role of mythologizing and demythologizing ourselves, we can explore the intricate relationship between delusion and sanity, using the power of imagination to our advantage.

 

  Radical honesty entails being transparent with ourselves and others, acknowledging the fluid nature of our beliefs and narratives. This process allows us to confront our delusions, evaluate our personal stories, and reshape them to foster growth and self-improvement. Continuous self-reflection and assessment of our narratives enable us to identify areas of potential growth and transformation. As we go deeper into our exploration of Radical Honesty we come to the cyclical process of “mythologizing and demythologizing ourselves”.. This involves constant evaluation of our beliefs and stories. Engaging in this practice helps us comprehend the role of delusion in our lives and recognize its capacity for both harm and growth. This awareness empowers us to utilize delusion in a balanced and constructive manner.

  Applying "the hero’s journey" to our lives helps us make sense of our experiences and transform our lives. As we embark on our adventures, face challenges, and return home transformed, we follow a path of growth and self-discovery. The hero’s journey, a universal narrative pattern found across cultures, serves as a guide for personal development. This framework consists of stages such as the call to adventure, the hero’s trials and tribulations, and their eventual return home, transformed. By understanding the hero’s journey, mythology, and spirituality, we gain practical tools for personal growth that aid us in navigating our own narratives, confronting our delusions, and harnessing the power of imagination for personal development through both adversity and triumph.


"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek"

-Joseph Campbell

  By navigating the layers of existence, from the purely real to the entirely imaginary, we can develop a more nuanced understanding of our experiences and the world around us. This understanding can guide our personal growth as we learn to engage with the complexities of existence constructively. Shared stories play a crucial role in shaping our understanding of the world and our place within it. Recognizing the importance of these narratives, and their inherent delusions, can help us approach life with a greater sense of balance and awareness. Embracing the process of mythologizing and demythologizing ourselves equips us with the tools to create more authentic and fulfilling lives, grounded in a recognition of the power and potential of delusion. By examining the relationship between delusion and sanity, we can identify opportunities for growth and transformation, both individually and collectively.

Alright, But what would Aristotle say?

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle

  In bringing our discussion to a comprehensive conclusion, it is essential to consider the works of Aristotle. Aristotle’s virtue ethics emphasizes the importance of cultivating virtuous character traits as the foundation for a morally good life. The Golden Mean, a key concept in virtue ethics, posits that the ideal moral virtue is a balance between two extremes: excess and deficiency. By pursuing this balance, individuals can achieve eudaimonia, a state of human flourishing characterized by a life well-lived, rich in meaningful experiences and guided by wisdom.

  The concept of eudaimonia has had a lasting impact on the field of psychology, particularly on the work of Abraham Maslow. Maslow’s exploration of “self-actualization,” the highest level of psychological development, was inspired by the idea of eudaimonia. In his book “Towards a Psychology of Being,” Maslow discusses how self-actualizers are able to strike a balance between taking themselves too seriously and being too silly, allowing them to live sincerely and authentically. This balance echoes the concept of the Golden Mean and underscores the importance of cultivating the most adaptive delusions or personal narratives that enable us to thrive as individuals and as a society.

 

 

 

  Recognizing the need for adaptive delusions and being compassionate towards ourselves when we discover our own delusions is vital for personal growth. Furthermore, reevaluating societal perceptions of sanity and insanity can have far-reaching implications for individuals struggling with mental health. By understanding that what is considered “sane” is simply the healthiest delusion found thus far, we can create a more empathetic and supportive environment for those experiencing clinical psychotic breaks or other mental health challenges. This shift in perspective can encourage individuals to seek help without fear of social repercussions. For example, a better understanding of the role of delusions in our lives can empower therapists to offer more effective social criticism, particularly in cases where an individual’s behavior is reasonable given the context, or when an individual holds beliefs contrary to the majority but may be more accurate in their understanding. This approach aligns with Maslow’s emphasis on fostering psychological health and self-actualization, ultimately promoting a more compassionate and supportive society.

  In conclusion, delusion can be a powerful force for personal growth when approached with awareness, balance, and a willingness to engage with the complexities of existence. By examining the relationship between delusion and sanity, recognizing the importance of shared stories, navigating the layers of existence, and embracing the process of mythologizing and demythologizing ourselves, we can create more authentic and fulfilling lives. Through the hero’s journey, mythology, and spirituality, we gain practical tools for personal growth, allowing us to harness the power of imagination and subjectivity for personal development and transformation. Aristotle’s ideas on virtue ethics, the Golden Mean, and eudaimonia also provide a valuable framework for understanding the importance of cultivating adaptive delusions and personal narratives. By integrating these ideas with Maslow’s work on self-actualization and balancing our needs, we can create a more empathetic and nuanced perspective on mental health and well-being. This approach can help individuals achieve personal growth and self-improvement, while also promoting a more compassionate society that recognizes the need for adaptive delusions and supports those experiencing mental health challenges.

 

  The five layers of existence, as viewed through the lens of poetic naturalism, provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the complexities of reality and our place within it. By engaging with each layer on its own terms and recognizing the interconnectedness between them, we can cultivate a more nuanced and integrated perspective on the world, ultimately enriching our lives and contributing to the continued evolution of our species.


“First Rule of Tao Club: One CANNOT talk about the Tao... Second Rule of Tao Club: There is no NEED to talk about the Tao

… The 0th Rule is of course: “ANY fool who has received a glimpse of the Tao cannot help but to TRY and talk about IT”

-Upaya

 

 

References:

Harari, Y. N. (2015). Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

 

Pirsig, R. M. (1974). Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values.

 

Carroll, S. (2016). The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself.

 

Blanton, B. (1996). Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth.

 

Campbell, J. (1949). The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Watts, A. (1966). The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

 

Aristotle. (c. 350 BCE). Nicomachean Ethics.

 

Maslow, A. (1962). Toward a Psychology of Being.

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