The problem is not "totalization" or "closure" -- the problem is TIME.  Or rather it is the traditional metaphysics of Time.  We do not normally think of metaphysics through a time/space lens but perhaps we should.

What I will call spatial metaphysics is concerned with beings that appear to exist in the present moment.  It addresses issues related what things ARE.  When we make the gesture of "There 'it' is!" we are dealing primarily with entities @ locations.  This holds true when we assert a horizon of meaning or a formal system which presumes to incorporate and define everything that is in existence.  Interesting it also holds true when we critique such a horizon or system.

Temporal metaphysics deals with how we hold becomings -- not beings.  Instead of asking ourselves about the manner in which we currently hold the ontology of beings, we instead inquire about the way we assume the arising of patterns.  Here our postmetaphysics shifts.  It becomes a "process postmetaphysics".  A postmetaphysics of the event.  


When we are examining the relationship between epistemology & ontology (between our means of access to things & our presumption of the ultimate status of things) we are dealing mostly with spatial metaphysics.  We imagine the universe of "things".  Then we act as if we know them (MOSP) or as if we know that they are more than what we know of them (MOA).  They are present.  They are given.  

Perhaps we think they are given perfectly by great entities who are also given.  Perhaps we think they are given imperfectly by the structure of reality.  In either case we are affirming or critiquing a certain type of metaphysics which reaches out spatially to enfold beings within the background of our worldspace. 

There is an uncanny similarity between the ISness of the "it is what I think it is" and  "surely it is more than just what I think it is".  In fact it is precisely this continuity that justifies a phrase like the Metaphysics of Adjacency to describe postmetaphysics.  It continues to operate metaphysically... albeit in a distinctly pluralist & postpluralist sense.

But okay. Let there be a continuity between the affirmation of total access to beings and non-total access to beings.  Perhaps this continuity informs us that the problems we are feeling about totalized metaphysics may not have to do specifically with the metaphysical or totalizing elements.  There is another approach.  In this other approach we forgo "staring at beings" and worrying about whether they are, or are not, what they appear to be.  That appearing is contextualized a bit like Space.  What if it was instead contextualized a bit like Time?

In a temporal approach we are not concerned with the potentially misleading status of what is -- or with the potentially exaggerated systems and horizons which enable a particular interpretation of beings.  Instead we turn becomings.  We take beings only as the output of the process.  The metaphysics that must be overcome is not an assertion about beings but rather an assumption about becomings.


Many things are becoming what IS.  The unknown is pouring into the appearance. We may take the appearance as "is only" or "is more" or "is also" -- reality is still mysteriously already poured in from past patterns.  The identity is not fixed and circumscribed by a spatial enclosure but by a cut that is assumed in the flux of histories.  

In exaggerated metaphysics this cut stands out clearly.  The retroactive doubling of an authorizing origin gives us a finite thing which stands under the sway of an historical power.


Traditional metaphysics reveals this clearly.  They even assert and depend upon it.  The potency of their horizon is not experienced by them as evenly distributed.  It has a privileged moment of potency.  They locate it as the officializing primordial moment.  We should take this seriously.  In the dogmatic opposition to evolution the argument takes roughly this form:

If it is accepted that intelligence and design in nature are not the result of a planner's plan then there is no owner-custodian of the metaphysical universe and it "apocalyptically" ceases to apply.

To pull the plant up by the root we must seek the root.

These traditional metaphysics, and their perpetuation in modern conceptual systems (and in the critique of modern conceptual systems!) are not failing to be open-ended, available to mystery, available to creativity.  All these indetermining factors are present in every worldview.  Thesy are not added by metatheoretical worldspaces.  The shift lies in the assumed prior placement of the mysterious creativity.  It is either "pre-given" or not. 

Imagine that an all-knowing mythic God appeared today -- or even last Thursday.  This appearance is curious.  We will have to see what happens.  His existence and his status are not insults to our intelligence.  But... if He existed BEFORE or AT the VERY BEGINNING then there is no room for intelligence. His stamp of fixity haunts the future. Bible and Korans are of interest in the degree to which they are present texts flowing into becoming from past sources.  They are temporally closed if we retroactively presume the "anticipatory and authorial perfection" of their initial instant.


In a spatial metaphysics we always think that what "is" includes unknowns.  Every worldview, every person, accepts unknowns within the existing present context of their reality.  It is no surprise to get surprised.  To specify a world in which unknowns may appear is no great shift.  

Every system and horizon of meaning has to contend with finding things out.  But there is this question of whether we anticipate that what we discover has to fit within a system we remember.  This is a particularly temporal consideration. 

From an MOA viewpoint, or even just a rational viewpoint, we see that patterns are not uniquely sourced in an exemplary past moment.  Rather what is given in the exemplary past moment is precisely the MOSP-like inertia of patterns.  


Every traditional statement of Great Order of Everything (to which we may want to add "or so it seems to us") affirms nature as a perfection of fixed roles.  But these roles are not assumed as eternal.  They are fixed at some point.  

Evolution is fine with traditions in the sense that Nature changes and struggles.  What they need to be metaphysical is a plan, a planner, a beginning at which the patterning is sourced.  Primordial origination turns the obviousness of intelligent design into the cunning of those who would assert an intelligent designer.  

The buck stops with the First One.  

The Fist One conceived, intended & initiated the current situation in which patterns are discovered.  The metaphysical horizon is not fixed by the scope and presence of the Great Orderly System but rather by the primordial temporal placement of its guarantor.

In a traditional sense, I can shoot you on my own land. The legal signing or the moment of inheritance provides me with the authority to impose finite, lop-sided rules for which I am ultimately responsible.  Likewise one person should represent a political region! These traditional metaphysics operate the same principles as their, to me, heretical notion of God -- imagined as the legally, writing-entitled, owner-operator and responsible party whose firstness is the classical theological argument for obedience to the role-and-membership society of trans-tribal dogma assertions.  

The horizon of the universe is locked at a retroactive point in the past.  It is not necessarily locked by any degree of totalization in the present.  A PLAN is a pre-established intelligent design.  It is not just "an" intelligent design.  


Infinity is an ambivalent concept.  It is perfectly thinkable as non-ending processes (like the regress of numbers in "pi").  It is not thinkable as an already completed quantity.  You can observe an indefinite sequence.  You cannot throw your arms around infinity.  Or your mind.  

The operations are different depending on whether we use a spatial or temporal lens.  Every spatialized concept is finite.  That we can add something to it only amounts to affirming the temporal extension... the active time of making an addition.  

Everything can be stated, totalized, affirmed, relative to a space-like metaphysics.  There is only so much of it.  But we cannot totalize a temporal process. To do adds a false note which is the very thing from which metaphysical conceptions suffer.


If we are interested in preserving the terminology of totalization/closure we can just as easy posit two "types" as we can posit an alternative.  I favor the latter for some very simple reasons.  I wish to root out certain spatial metaphors.  Closure, like containment, is originally a spatialized concept. 

However when it applies to space it is appropriate rather than problematic.  Articulations in physics such as "finite but unbounded" point to the functional closure of spatiality.  Space is not open-ended.  In order to indefinitely extend our imaginary vision of space we have to temporalize it.  Infinity is a valid temporal concept but not valid spatial concept.  Therefore we must be open to embrace spatial finitude, closure, totalization.


Compare the following two notions:

(a) THE PRESENT ASSUMPTION OF ALL. This is a totalized statement applicable to the domain which exists in the current reality, the space-like domain.  An example of such a statement is: Reality consists of only and all real things.  That is currently a totalized closure - the onlyness -- of beings.  It is non-problematic.

(b) THE PRE-TEMPORALIZED NON-ALL.  This is a statement which connects a non-totalized reality to a metaphysically presumed extra-temporal authorization.  Example: The Non-All Universe appeared from an original Nothing.


Time is necessarily open-ended (at both ends). So NEXT is the position which makes adjacency viable.  The "next" is always a potential discover following the apparent presence.

But this is frequently not invoked by discussions of totalization which, as often as not, revolve around the presumed insufficiency of omni-concepts and logical assertions.  For example, the position that Integral Theory (or anything else) ought to be cautious about giving rise to the impression that it incorporates, includes, contains, everything is a critique of the insufficiency of space-like containment.  Yet it is not terribly relevant.  Any theory can accurately include an All.  The word "everything" is a micro-theory which totally includes all things.  Nothing in the present falls outside of everything.

Yet the meaning of that everything can change.  This change is temporal.  If we presumed that the theory was temporally closed (the reciprocal of pre-temporally authorized) then we would make a grievous error. 

The lion's share of the problems associated with "totality" and "closure" and "all" (which are spatially suggestive terms) exist via implied temporal metaphysics.  They are not very problematic when applied to spatial metaphysics.


So what are some examples of problematic temporal metaphysics?

  • Time began from a Timeless Condition before Time
  • An Authorizing Being set the patterns of reality at the Very Beginning
  • The Universe was created when we started writing History (only several thousand years ago)
  • Time started at the Big Bang
  • The Early Universe was Perfectly Balanced -- we have since deviated.
  • We originally lived in a pure state but fell from Grace
  • Events have single causes
  • Timelessness exists "somewhere next to" Time
  • The Future & Past still exist "somewhere"
  • Time is only a dimension of spatial geometry
  • Time is only a condition of the human mind
  • A designer or decider added "purpose" to the universe at the beginning
  • Subtle, Causal & Nondual bodies "appear" when we evolved foward enough.
  • New emergence happens at the "leading edge" of the forward moving Time
  • Time is a line, road, arrow path or stream (come from somewhere).
  • Ancient metaphysics necessarily are still true
  • Today's best models will continue to be the best models
  • what else?

Views: 746

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

MOA: metaphysics of adjacency. Basically anything that tries to tie together all fields of human knowledge into some kind of grand narrative i.e. integral theory. Considered the mode of 2nd tier understanding and inquiry. 

MOSP: metaphysics of simple presence. Basically all first tier modes of awareness which span the developmental spectrum. 

Basically these ideas point to the idea that ___ is a verb; or process. One of my spiritual ideas is non dogmatic evolutionary panentheism. It's definitely a type of process theology but my view is not quite as naturalistic , as say, Matthew Segal's ideas on the same topic. 

Anyway: LUABF I'll let you guess at that one:)


> it is the overt subjective/inter-subjective insertion into the conversation that takes metaphysics to postmetaphysics?

When we add subjective/intersubjective insertions, we invoke an "also".  Something more is present.  Our metaphysics have to be expanded beyond our previous notion of things.  It is that movement which takes metaphysics to the next level (MOA / postmetaphysics).  However this insertion of subjective/intersubjective is only one example of this process.  Really it is the "also" which is necessary.  An ontological threshold is crossed and included.  The previous sense of anything and everything was only an approximation.  It is next to itself.  It is next to something else.  Next to, almost & not quite are revealed as essential aspects of reality... rather than as alternatives to perfect knowledge.

And there is a conversation about how we need to be wary of perfect knowledge, we need to always remind ourselves about Adjacency in order to avoid the trap of limited metaphysics.  I think that feeling might be a bit misguided.  I think the shift to MOA is natural but the problem it is reacting to may well be this issue of TIME.

Thank you Andrew!  LUABF = Let Us All Be Friends.

Hmmm, interesting: light up a big fatty. This typically leads to your interpretation. Cheers!

Hey Layman, the UL part of me within the deepest part of sleep seems to be timeless. This experience --or non-experience-- doesn't seem to have any significant impact on life in the other quads ( we strive ceaselessly regardless of the timelessness of deep sleep). 

In my panentheism the non-dual is something beyond the time/space continuum yet interpenetrates all existence. This 'otherness' is to me paradoxically akin to the idea of the deists; yet completely immanent through the processes which I've experienced as a type of panpsychism. So, completely within yet some unqualifiable beyond. Is it fair to say that the 'ocean' of all things is timeless?

I suspect you may say that the 'ocean' is the causal space-time continuum; therefore NOT timeless, so then, how do YOU solve the problem of TIME? Or is it unresolvable in your ontology?

Yes, death, certainly seems to solve the problem of TIME!


Einstein would point out that motionlessness is what occurs when you are moving "with" something.  I stand still on the Earth because I am rotating along with it.  If we are moving along with the most basic form of Time then our experience will be "as if" Timeless.  The UL will experience the phenomenon of Timelessness.  However that does not require us to philosophically accept an objective timeless dimension. 

All-pervasive Time perceives itself as Timeless. This is a nicely non-dual notion since it treats Time & Timelessness as the "same thing".  

Ah, so TIME is not a problem after all ? I can safely say the bigger problem here is my mind! lol 

I think we're all struggling to get our minds around the ways in which Time is & isn't a problem.

a little fun with time: 

Here is a link that is positing a 'natural' other that could fit modern panentheistic theories:

I'd agree that these ideas are based on traditional notions of the 4 ontological domains. 

And what would a cyclical notion of time mean for IT? Would IT's theories need to be altered?

There are two senses to a cyclical nature of Time.  The first simply means that the "big bang" was one of many periodic events which produce material universes.  The second, more Nietzschean, is that because Time is necessarily infinite but energy is finite, all possible permutations of reality have been (and will be) tried an endless number of times.  To work with either of these, Integral Theory has to make a minor shift in its usual articulation of Novelty.  It is a two part shift:

1. Novelty does not mean something utterly new.  It means a certain kind of appearance of one of the endlessly repeating patterns.

2. Emergence does not occur at the "open front end" but rather at all the inbetween places.  In a circle of Time we imagine the "levels" as already being laid out.  So new growth does not happen by installing an extra one on the end, but rather by enriching them at their mutual edges.

Regardless, we must be wary of the temporal metaphysics problems raised in this thread.  They are, primarily, the issue of "no beginning of time" and "timeless and time are one" and "intelligent and desirable design is not sourced to a primordial fact".

Reply to Discussion


What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2024   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service