Foreword to the foreword
The following pages contain the introductory remarks to this site, and outline some of the basic tenets of my thought and reveal something of the perspective and context this thought is situated in. I describe what appears to be the common or standard experience and understanding of life, and present some of the ways in which this differs from my own. Ultimately, this perspective implies and leads to a radical assertion concerning the fundamental nature of being, life, experience and reality. From the position this perspective allows, I intend to discuss or analyse certain aspects of human life, activity, development and the situation in which it finds itself, for whatever benefit may thereby be derived.
This text (about 28,000 words) is also available as a free, short eBook in PDF format, by downloading it from the files page here.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Standard Perspective
Part 2.1: Individual Realities
Part 2.2: Group Realities
Part 2.3: Social Realities
Part 2.4: Intellectual & Other Realities
Part 3: My Own Perspective
Part 4: World & Self
Part 5: The Situation of Humanity
Part 6: Perspectives Revisited and Myself
We all have our unique perspectives on the world we live in and ourselves. They are complex, as we are complex. Understanding them, the world, ourselves and each other is not easy. Yet, we have made, and continue to make, efforts in accordance with our abilities and desires.
Throughout our lives we acquire experience. All the things we do, say, feel and think; all the things we learn, discover, enquire into, theorize, are confounded by; all the impressions, sensations, intakes of breath; all the events we participate in, are invited to or excluded from; all our hopes, dreams, imaginings, ideas; nightmares, joys and sufferings; these and many other things constitute our experience. What is beyond our experience is also beyond our imagination and does not, cannot, exist for us. The totality of our experience represents its limit.
Our perspectives are formed out of this experience. They are, like us, entirely unique. However, because of one thing and another, our perspectives may or not be entirely in accordance with the totality of our experience. What is more, they may be more or less complete, coherent, accurate etc. in various ways relative to that of others. Yet, whatever their “shape” and content, they reflect our current knowledge and understanding, from which we operate in our living of life and the pursuit of knowledge about it.
This perspective is not a mere concept. It is something every living individual must have, for it constitutes the same individual’s response to the world. It contains some part of the answer to the question “who and what are you?” A perspective is the effect of which experience is the cause. In another way, a perspective is another aspect of experience.
Whatever our thoughts about it, our experience-perspective impacts on all our activity in life. It constitutes a real factor in the decisions we make, the relations we form, the ideas we have, the things we do, say or not say. All our acquisitions of knowledge are influenced by the directions our perspectives lead us; all our former and current beliefs are founded upon a perspective we cannot but have. However they are formed, whatever we may think about them, whatever is our awareness of them or our own, they shape our life and experience.
We are not alone in the world. We live with other beings, and other human beings, who have their own entirely unique perspectives. However, though any perspective is formally, absolutely unique (for no two beings can occupy the same space and time; no two beings can have exactly the same sequence of experience etc. and remain two distinct beings), there are many ways in which beings share their perspectives or aspects of them with others. Perspectives may indeed be quite similar in many regards to those of others.
The factors and dynamics involved in an individual acquiring a perspective are complex and various. Similarly, the factors and dynamics at play in groups of individuals are also complex. As individuals do form groups, and as groups do form communities of one or another kind, including those identifiably national or supranational entities, there are complex formations of perspectives and interactions between them; community perspectives, company perspectives, national perspectives, supranational perspectives, universal perspectives and so on. The particular complex and dynamic of perspectives at play within an individual or group at any one time can be difficult to determine and understand.
When observations are made it can be determined, yet only to a certain degree, what might be the form and content of a particular perspective within a group. It can also be determined what the relative scope and dominance of perspectives is. Again, many factors enter into what makes one perspective or part thereof dominant amongst a group. By “dominant perspective” I mean the principal and standard form or manner of orientation amongst a group, which would be determined by its values, beliefs, sense of history, knowledge and understanding etc., and demonstrated in and through its codes and activities. As individuals form groups, individual perspectives are influenced by these standard perspectives in various ways, and they may share in them, wholly or partly, or not at all.
The experience of life is complex. The complex processes and realities by and through which experience is acquired, the dynamics of cause and effect, the processes by which perspectives are formed, and their complex interactions amongst groups of individuals; all these things, and how they are embodied in perspectives and influence what is believed, known and understood, and thus how behaviours and activities out there in the world are affected, may not at all be understood or appreciated to any significant degree by one or another individual or community.
Let us suppose then that we wanted to know more about actual perspectives, and particularly, “What is the current general or standard perspective humanity has of itself?” or, “What is most people’s belief and knowledge about, and understanding of, their own and all existence?”
If we were to really hope to answer the question, an awful lot of work would have to be done. It may not actually be possible to ask very many at all of the six billion or so people now living, as any researcher would confirm. So instead, let us suppose that the work had been done: that every living individual had now provided our researcher with a full account of their experience-perspective, and outlined the totality of their knowledge and understanding of themselves, life and existence. Let us suppose also that all the billions of accounts had now been collated and analysed as regards their similarities and differences. Now we have a great range of data, which must represent the total knowledge and understanding of the current world. And now, through analysis, we have discovered what the majority hold to be true and valid, and the ways in which others’ views differ from what appears to be the standard perspective. We have also discovered what are the dominant trends of thought, position and orientation. What does our imagined research exercise tell us about what modern humanity holds to be Truth?
Perhaps it is to carry the supposition too far to now suggest an outline of that perspective. However, even if it may not be scientifically or academically rigorous, it may still be worthwhile, even entertaining, to attempt it …
The Individual’s Body
Wherever one begins, perhaps the fertilization of the human egg and the creation of the zygote is a good a place. Here, according to the standard perspective, is the beginning of the human individual that will grow up to become a member of a community of individuals that was constituted, as it will come to know or assume, in the same way. Before this happening, the individual was not. Yes, the standard story of life could easily start here.
With the creation of the zygote there commences a whole cycle of life, as it is ordinarily termed, which may be described as consisting of two distinct phases: namely, prenatal and postnatal development. During prenatal development, the simple single cell transforms into what becomes the easily identifiable human body.
During prenatal development, the entire fundamental structure and functioning of the human body is formed. The zygote becomes a blastocyst, and at some point the blastocyst becomes the foetus. Its various bodily parts, tissues, organs, and systems, which are themselves made up of other structures, will eventually coordinate and function together to either allow or disallow the continued development of life towards its end; much depends on the correct unfolding of this prenatal phase. Usually in that special cavity in the developed body of the female human being, the individual develops and acquires some of the characteristics which will, as may be understood by it much later, influence its experience of life and its understanding and knowledge about itself. Some would think that almost everything concerning the individual’s future life is already determined during this phase, whilst others would put less emphasis on it. Whatever its importance, the individual will, at birth, consist of its bodily form which, relative to that of others, may be considered as more or less normal and healthy. In many ways, the standard view asserts that this form is the self, the whole self.
It is in accordance with current knowledge that during the phase of prenatal development there can occur certain irregularities, the result of which can lead to one or another form of prenatal disease or dysfunction, which may, or not, to some degree affect the development and life experience of the individual after birth. Already, before the individual is born, its eventual perspective is being shaped by factors beyond its control. The nature, state and functioning of the body which, from before birth, can proceed and develop to allow or disallow an existence that is considered to be relatively free from defect and limitation, is widely accepted (to a greater or lesser technical awareness) to have a significant place in affecting the outcomes of the person’s life and whatever they may come to experience as a part of it.
During postnatal development there are further transformations, or “growth’, into what is termed adulthood. If the development of the human being continues, the individual can reach a certain maturity. For many, developing past adulthood towards an elderly age is a proper lifespan, and anything less than this is usually considered to be an unfortunate occurrence. The achievement, security and maintenance of a relatively long lifespan may be considered as an important concern of individuals and societies, and life experience.
The various bodily factors that enter into the completion or continuation of this process of growth and development are often the objects and subjects of the many various studies into human life that have developed. Concerning the knowledge about the development of the individual’s bodily organism, which in this current perspective is the result of such studies, it consists of a great range of knowledge of the biophysical and biochemical structure and functioning of the body’s constituent parts, as well as knowledge concerning the effects of behaviour and experience upon the success or failure of the organism’s survival (to which we will turn shortly). The various investigations into the nature of cells have brought knowledge of such things as deoxyribonucleic acid, cell growth and reproduction, to the common understanding, as has knowledge of genes and genetic inheritance.
The current view might in some ways be said to be biologically-deterministic. Not merely the physical organism but all that is derived from it in terms of human identity and behaviour has its basis in the physical matter of cells and genes, in human biology, which can only respond according to pre-programming from which it may not necessarily be able to escape (except within the limits afforded by the programming). How the more complex realities of human life are determined by genetic programming are not yet entirely understood, but in the standard view the physical body is determined by the information in the genetic code, and so must that which in wider human life has a physical origin be to some degree. Of course, it must be pointed out that this view is not at all shared by all, which is also the case for other views.
Particularly as it pertains to the individual’s experience of life, their identity and their perspective, the physical structure and functioning of the brain, and the results from the modern examinations of it, lead many to consider that the mind itself arises out of the functioning of the brain. At least, in the standard view we are casually outlining, the clear evidence that damage to the brain affects things such as perception and emotions, identity and cognition supports that certain aspects of mind are affected by the physical brain. But what mind is, if it is anything, and how it relates to the brain, is still an issue; though the secure hope is that through scientific investigation the relation between the phenomena may be discovered. Many others, on the other hand, consider that the mind is separate to the brain, and to the body, and various proposals of a more or less serious nature are put forward.
Regarding the individual’s life cycle, at any point during it a certain process can occur, which is usually called dying. Dying is followed always by death (otherwise it is not dying but something else), whereupon the development of the human being now consists only of the processes of the decomposition of the now inanimate body. For all observation, and according to the general understanding, “life’, which begins at fertilization, ceases at death. Yet, while it sometimes happens that one or another biological structure, on one or another level, functions in such a way that the process of dying occurs sooner relative to its occurrence for other individuals in a population – as in the case of illness or death by accident etc. – at some point it must happen for the organism cannot continue indefinitely. Thus, life is dependent upon and determined by the functioning of the body, as is its death, whatever the cause.
Of course, many are aware of the many various ideas about what life is, and all the various beliefs about what happens at and after death and so on, but generally the standard view is that whatever happens after death requires what is ordinarily understood as death to occur, which is the usual end of life. Besides, these other ideas about life occurring after death are usually attributed to, for example, psychological or cultural causes, which causes probably have their basis in physical phenomena, but which ideas have no physical or actual reality. Indeed, it might be expected that one day the physical basis, perhaps even the gene, for this or that idea concerning life after death or people’s belief of it would be discovered.
At an early stage of the development of the human being, it is realized to a certain degree that the survival of the organism depends upon certain other factors. Later, it is understood to a greater degree to what extent the organism depends upon the acquisition of what might be called essentials to survival, namely those things that must be obtained from the environment and not from within oneself: air, water and food. The normal and healthy functioning of the body is dependent on the obtainment of these essentials from without. Depending on the degree of deprivation, if the individual does not obtain all these essentials then the process of dying will occur. Notwithstanding these limitations, at some point the coordination and function of the organism will still proceed to dying and death in spite of provision of air, water and food, and this is termed “natural” death, and is inevitable.
During the early development of the human being, these essential needs must be provided for, as the individual is not able to independently acquire them. At some point in the individual’s development, where provision has continued, the individual may develop the capacities to allow it to provide for its own sustenance (depending, of course, on availability of access to resources, which also constitutes a factor in the survival of all other beings). In this way, development can also be considered to consist of a phase of dependency, and a phase of independency. During the life of an individual, it may at any one time, depending on a number of causes and factors, be in a state of dependence or independence as regards one or another of its essential needs, but whatever its subsequent state human beings must start life as dependent.
The experience of life, then, necessarily involves activities and processes pertaining to the immediate and ongoing acquisition of essential needs, and providing them for others if, indeed, life is to persist at all; as well as maintaining the healthy functioning of the bodily organism. However, according to this current perspective, while this is indeed the case for all human beings, life involves or can involve many other processes and activities. Specifically, the provision for certain other needs, such as shelter, warmth etc. is also deemed to be essential in certain conditions, and their lack can seriously affect the health and survival of the individual.
In many ways, “life” is primarily about the survival of the body, for on it all existence and experience depends, which ends upon its destruction at death. Not only this, but many other considerations, reasons and knowledge from other areas of and enquiries into life reveal that life, generally, involves and is, perhaps fundamentally, about avoiding death, and much of our experience, enquiry, activity and behaviour comes back to this inevitability. Since the individual is their body, their body’s end is their death, it may be asserted that much about human behaviour, and humanity’s ideas about life, can be explained by the awareness or fear of death.
Behaviour & Experience
The human being at least has, and perhaps is nothing more than, a physical organism, built up of tissues and organs that function in various systems, regulated and controlled by a brain and nervous system. There has never been a human being who has not had a body of flesh and blood! Yet, the human being also has what is normally called a mind, and has experience of its physical organism and the environment it is found in in various complex ways.
At some point during the zygote’s development towards a more developed state and stage, there occur the beginnings of the individual’s self-awareness or “consciousness”. In fact, this awareness usually occurs during its post-natal infancy. At first this self-awareness is not at all as complex as it might become further along the development, but the acquisition of it begins to constitute a real factor in the life of the individual. It constitutes a factor in the being’s ability to shift from dependency to independency, and to influence to a certain degree the perpetuation of its own existence according to its own activity.
At the current time, it is not quite known what is the true nature of consciousness, if it is considered to be anything at all, and how it relates to mind, or brain, or even what is meant by the term. However, according to this perspective, notwithstanding the disagreements and controversies, it most probably can be explained according to the principles of one or another of the physical sciences; consciousness most probably arises as a result of the biophysical and biochemical processes of the body, perhaps the brain. Whatever the case, in the standard view, it is known that the body can exist without consciousness but not that consciousness can exist without the body. As far as the common man is concerned, consciousness can and will, if not now then at some point, be understood using the methods of science, which will ascertain its physical nature. The ability to see the brain’s activity and functioning while an individual is actively conscious or asleep has allowed some to understand the ways in which consciousness is dependent upon the functioning of the brain. Yet, others come to understand that the matter is not at all as clear as all that, and while the physical origin of consciousness may not be entirely discounted, the idea that consciousness emerges from the physical brain is problematic. Of course, others have many other ideas concerning its nature.
What is understood to some degree is the degree to which consciousness is affected, perhaps determined, by various factors. Not least, the current health, performance and state of the physical organism have various impacts on the conscious experience. Certain kinds of prenatal and postnatal development have their effect too. The functioning of the senses, or the sensory organs, has their effects. Furthermore, not only consciousness but behaviour is affected by a variety of internal, bodily states, of an emotional or mental kind, which are physical. It is very much the case that the physical state and function of the body, as is by now relatively well understood, has an important influence on the individual’s awareness, and their experience of life.
Concerning the individual’s own self-view, whatever the state of its knowledge, it may still discover that at times the nature of its own experience of living is entirely comprehensible and explicable to it, and at others not. What is more, as experience is perceived to be acquired over time, experience itself is variable, and appears to be influenced by a number of factors and conditions which may or not be under the control of its own will but which, specifically, it may attribute to a cause that is not a cause in fact, depending on its knowledge. The reliability of the individual’s own assessment of the nature, state and functioning of its own consciousness is perhaps less reliable than that offered by the currently available methods and analyses, as many would propose. Yet, the individual’s own experience and knowledge about it, whether it accords with that held by others or not, constitutes a factor in the individual’s subsequent experience, and thus their activity and behaviour.
It is at least known by many, if not experienced by all, that various states of experience may be experienced, in various phases and degrees of wakefulness. During the life of a human individual, it may have experience consisting of numerous forms of attentiveness, state, sensation and perception; whatever the being comes to learn or believe or know about its own experience, these things will form a part of its experience of itself and the life it is living. For the great majority, however, in terms of consciousness, life consists either of being awake and doing things or being sleepy or asleep. During sleep, one may or not experience dreaming, which one may or not remember during wakefulness. Of all the states of consciousness, it is the ordinary, waking state which is the only one that matters. However, during sleep, the body is able to rest and the brain is able to process the events of the day or the current concerns the individual has during their waking life.
Some individuals talk about different states of consciousness, or supposed higher states, which can be attained through taking certain drugs or kinds of hypnosis and so on, but generally most people have no such experience, and science hypothesizes their experience has physiological or psychological in origins. There may be some value to dreams, and they have some biological purpose, but they are rather a curiosity, to which some individuals ascribe importance. However, the fundamental importance of sleep and rest, in that it can affect the quality and efficiency of waking life, where the individual must have a certain clarity and energy if it is to perform its many duties and activities successfully, makes dreams somewhat irrelevant if they hinder that rest, for in waking life the great majority have their fundamental experience and purpose of life.
The being’s growing self-awareness of the nature and functioning and states of its own organism, its effects upon the environments it finds itself in, the processes and “events” that occur within it in the form of sensations, emotions and thoughts, informs and has an influence on its activity in the world, not only with reference to those essential needs, but with reference to the self-awareness itself, and the other aspects of the activity of the organism and its relation to the environment. The individual itself may have some knowledge of this, especially if their own life has revolved around the acquisition of such knowledge through one or another discipline of study and research. Nevertheless, in the current age, there is a suspicion about the reliability of the subjective experience and knowledge, which can be so easily corrupted and led astray by any number of disorders of the body and brain, or the cognitive processes; a suspicion which has a long and varied history, and which is traced through humanity’s struggle to obtain objective truth and reality. The validations that occur without the self-awareness, amongst the community of beings, provide the individual and community with a safer, surer method of establishing what is the right thing to think and know.
A being may not have a full understanding of, or a theory about, the cause of its experience. Yet, in many ways, “life” as it is ordinarily conceived begins for the individual upon the acquisition of this awareness; a life that necessarily includes but does not entirely consist of the perpetuation of bodily survival; a life of thoughts, ideas and feelings, which perhaps hardly touch upon the matters considered here, where life is primarily motivated or inspired by entirely different concerns. In any case, this “life” begins at a different stage and form of existence to the zygote and it is this life, this experience of life, which, irrespective of its own theories about it, will continue now until the process of dying occurs.
The various kinds of experiences of human individuals have been studied to one degree or another and various theories have been proposed to account for them and for experience in general. However, as experience is so changeable, and dependable upon many factors, and as objective reality is not, it might be seen as being somewhat less valuable or important in the human endeavour to understand itself and the world it lives in. At most, some may say, the value and importance of experience is limited to certain fields of enquiry, such as philosophy or psychology, and have little or no part to play in the really valuable searches for meaning, as through natural science. Yet, many others would say that experience is fundamental to all endeavours, for it is the means by which all endeavours are undertaken, and the filter through which all knowledge, including objective knowledge, is passed. The debates are ancient, and perhaps they will continue. Nevertheless, the business of life is about much more than enquiries into the nature and importance of experience.
Besides, the contemporary sciences seem to suggest that not only the behaviour of humans but also animals is determined in important ways by physical laws and phenomena arising out of and in accordance with them. In many ways, experience is a curious thing like dreams, a strange side effect of physical existence. Yet, behaviour is seen perhaps as having more relevance to the living of life, and certainly it can be studied in terms of biology. Particularly from what has resulted from studies of animal behaviour, about whose experience of life we are not sure, and about whose consciousness we are less sure, as our own, it is perhaps behaviour rather than conscious experience that is considered to be the paramount concern. However, it is recognized to some degree that people have their own views about what determines behaviour and experience, and there are many ideas that are being explored across a range of investigatory disciplines.
During life, an individual can acquire a certain amount and degree of knowledge and understanding about what kind of being it is, what is within it, and without. However, as the current understanding reveals, the social nature of human beings means that in certain ways it cannot but be affected in profound ways by its interactions with other human beings; others who may, like it, be wondering about its existence and trying to survive. The effect of interacting with others upon the individual’s knowledge and understanding of self and world, and thus upon their perspective, if not always their biology, must not be neglected its consideration, as this perspective would hold. The kinds of groups individuals form, and why, have significant effects upon the course and outcome of their lives, including their end.
Family & Groups
Though it is not always the case, and though there may be different ideas concerning why it is so, it is most common for a human being to experience being a part of a group of other human beings during most of their lifetimes. It is most common to have, at least, a family, which most often but does not always consist of the individual’s biological parents and relations. Whatever the form of the group, or the relations between its members, during the first stage of dependency growing human beings experience this form of “society”.
For many, life in such a family constitutes a considerable part of what many would consider to be a being’s fundamental experience of life. Only after and due to subsequent stages of earlier development may an individual acquire the ability and opportunity to understand the experiences and development of the former, and thus the influence of earlier life upon the latter is considered an important area of enquiry for those attempting to understand their current experience.
The relations and experience of family may continue throughout the life of the individual, and may have a very complex nature, and may be variously positive or negative in one regard or another. And, at some point, an individual may enter into and create familial relations of one sort or another of its own, and participate in the creation of new individuals. For human beings, the formation, participation, care and provision concerning family involves a significant part of life. Furthermore, it may be through family that an individual commonly acquires its principal experiences of the various “stages” or phases of life, and which thus constitutes its principal knowledge and understanding of the processes it is also subject to, such as ageing, dying and death.
As individuals may observe, not all individuals have, for one reason or another, a family; in certain cases, individuals may not have at one time or another any experience of social relations. However, at the present time, the majority of individuals form part of larger groups of individuals, related in various ways and which provide for social interaction in a number of ways, and which further provides a stimulation and end towards which the life and activities of communities and nations are turned.
Other-than-”family” kinds of relations also form between individuals. They may consist of those social realities which have terms like friendship, partnership, marriage and so on, or may be formed around different kinds of relating to others, through care, employment, statutory duty or even enmity etc. Through these relationships, individuals come to experience a variety of states, emotions and thoughts, which shape their perspectives in important ways. Through these relationships, life can be affected to lesser or greater degree, yet it does occur that the whole remaining course of an individual’s life experience can be altered or initiated on account of the fact of some of these relations, and individuals may or not be aware of some of the ways their experience of life may have been different, which awareness may also have its effect upon them.
An individual may belong to many different kinds of groups at the same time, constituted by a wide variety of relations, and they may be familial, niche, general or societal etc. It may belong to or participate in one or another group according to an election through its own will or not. Such group formations commonly constitute one or other forms of community and society. Such groups may be identified as having geographical, political, or other kinds of boundaries within which the group has its identity. Again, such identities may be promoted from within the group, or from without. At any one time an individual usually identifies itself, or is identified by others, as belonging to some kind of social group, community, state or nation.
Belonging to one or another group can result in a wide variety of experiences for the individual, which may be relatively positive or negative. For example, groups associated with criminal or subversive activities, or activities that promote the harm and degradation of individuals within it or without, might be quite generally accepted to promote negative experiences, even by the participants themselves, while groups that are associated with legal or socially acceptable activities, which may promote health and well-being for individuals within the group and without, might be more positively regarded.
Belonging to the “right” group is considered to be an important concern, not only as it affects one’s ability to achieve and maintain independence, and provision of needs, but to ensure a long, healthy and happy lifespan. Thus, much in the social life of the community and world of nations revolves around the support of positive groupings and the removal of support for the negative.
There is much to say about it: the pursuit of wealth, the search for the right group, the advancement of self and family; such things may or not be achieved through one’s identification with or membership of a certain group. Then again, as individuals belong to groups variously, and in various ways and degrees of membership, some part of life is spent in changing groups, seeking new ones, or returning to former. Even the possibility of changing groups may depend upon the grouping one is in, or born in, or elects as one’s own.
The nature and effect of these formations and identifications upon individuals and the groups themselves is, understandably, complex, but that they do have an effect is accepted, and there are some attempts to understand how much of the experience and understanding of life is affected, although the focus of study varies. Yet, as with all aspects of life and nature, the ways in which the various parts relate to others are also considered as worthy subjects for study, and thus there are ways by which these relations and others are understood to have their impact, as articulated by various disciplines and the results of their enquiries, where the impact of education on groupings is studied, physical health and so on.
Even according to an unsophisticated understanding, belonging to groups adds complexity to the experience of life. However they are constituted, groups may be different and these differences may function and cause individuals to function and relate to one another in a great variety of ways. Various differences between individuals and groups of individuals may have a greater or lesser impact on experience; differences of physicality, such as bodily sex, skin colour, age; differences pertaining to and based on aspects of inner life, such as one’s thoughts or emotions, or personality; differences based on group interests, wealth, history; or a number of other differences, which can only be in accordance with the variety of life itself. The ways different groups relate to one another, and can influence one another, have a certain effect on the lives of individuals, which may be more or less positive.
A group of individuals may have its own customs, ideas of kinship and the formation of family, behaviours concerning sexual or other kinds of relations, quite peculiar to it. It may have ways to determine and organize social status, to enforce or validate a particular culture or ideology; and it may have modes of communication which are particular to it. The ways in which the differences within and between groups affect the social structures that form in them, which can determine or have an impact upon who gets access to resources, privilege or power, are many. Various classes can form, directly and indirectly, and operate visibly or invisibly and affect a greater or lesser degree of control upon the individual members. And, difference can form the basis of a greater or lesser social equality.
The many manifestations of difference and the social realities which form from them can affect and regulate human behaviour, can assist with or prevent individual and social change, movement, or development, and may or not be understood or appreciated to a significant degree by the members of the group. Group dynamics may lead to positive experiences for the individual, as well as a negative ones, and these facts and factors form the awareness of the standard perspective to certain degree, where individuals use their relative knowledge to improve their experience of life, through marriage or career and so on, and the groups they may or may not allow one to enter into. How these groups are constituted, due to various biological or physical factors, or various social forces and realities, is complex and difficult to understand.
Populations & Peoples
As an individual grows, it may acquire a wider perspective on how many other individuals there currently are in the world, and how they live and form communities, and how beings like itself form populations, which move and change and relate to one another in a variety of complex modes, and have their own group identities, and cultures, and civilizations; which grow and shrink, and become concentrated in certain areas such that over the surface of the planet there is a varied density of people, where people may be found in small numbers relative to the land, or great; populations counted in the millions, leading to many, many varied interactions between people and experiences of life, which may or not directly influence one’s own.
With the current view before us, the individual becomes aware that, in some ways, it is primarily a world of people that it has entered into, and that it has either a smaller or larger connection to them; those peoples of the northern regions, the southern regions, and the regions between them; the peoples of the cities, or the rural areas; they are people who were also born into families, and were provided for, and began to attain an awareness and experience of life: of this world population of people, with its variations of concentration, its growth, and its development as it pertains to the essential needs of the individuals and families at their root. There may also be some awareness of the complex effects and interactions that the whole world itself, through its activity and formation, and as regards the distribution of peoples over the surface and the totality of needs, may have on the future survival of any part of it, and of the role the individual has.
Yet, who are one’s own people? Are they of the Americas? The Arctic region? Asia? Oceania? Europe? Africa? With whom does one identify, and feel affinity, and in what ways? The people one feels one belongs to, no matter where they are located on the globe, or in time, is often felt to have its effect on the kind of life one will lead, as well as the opportunities one will be presented with.
And yet, whether one feels one belongs to one people or another, this may be represented or not by the kind of state or country one is born in, which determines one’s citizenship, and where our “people” may not be recognized by the authorities. It may be the case that from the standard perspective the question of national identity is not at all complicated: the most developed societies have by now established their national identities and such issues remain only at a community level. Nevertheless, this perspective may contain within it an awareness of the ways in which citizenship may not reflect personal or national identity, or group identity at the largest level.
What is more, the realities and impacts of cultural identity may transcend geographical, political or temporal boundaries. However culture is defined by an individual, its perspective will be formed in part by the content and institutions it is constituted of, and what an individual may learn or come to understand, or consider itself to be, may be cast in the light of this culture, or its shadow.
Thus, in the standard perspective we are supposing exists, there is some general awareness of how perspectives are formed and influenced by social groupings, and how life itself is affected or not by the groups one is born in or becomes a part of.
Yet, those groupings that are nation states are important however they are defined or identified, perhaps even in themselves. We even speak of the life of a nation, and to many individuals this means something.
Nations are created according to complex processes and developments over long periods of time, though they may be young in themselves, being born out of the disintegration of older communities or according to other recent phenomena. These processes and particular histories affect how the state is itself currently constituted, how it relates to other states, and how it relates to individuals, and all of this plays a role in the procession of life, whether one feels one belongs to them or not. Depending on the various ideologies, cultures, theories and concepts that may be more or less dominant within a country, or in other countries that relate to it, individuals will come to have different rights and opportunities which will begin to affect them before or as soon as they are born, as they may have affected their families and those others who have gone before them. These super-groups exert their influence in ways which individuals may or not fully understand.
The activity of these social and political entities, and the degree and kind of issues that are current in them, have their part to play in the quality and content of experience that the individual will have, through the other groupings of family, community, and so on. The nature, organization and functioning of any group’s institutions and government, and the processes by which they come into being and exercise and execute various powers, whether directly or indirectly, has consequences for the life of the individual and the state itself. Not least, in the current age, it is the activity of governments and institutions that determines to a certain significant degree the life of the nation, through its control or not of resources, its management of relations with other states, and its decisions and intentions regarding conflict with them, to all of which we will turn shortly.
In the current age, and especially in that which is commonly termed the “developed world”, the most common kinds of government in operation within states or their supranational organization are forms of republicanism, whereby the principal power of the state is managed by some kind of representation of and from the population, which forms the nation’s political society. These republics may, generally speaking, be more democratic or less so relative to one another, and may organize their executive entities, or heads of state, in various ways. Furthermore, in each of these republics certain ideologies may be more or less prominent, and this has various effects on the way the state operates, both theoretically and practically, and on how individuals are able or not to live and work.
While generally it is individuals that constitute communities, and communities that constitute states, whatever taxonomy is used in one’s analysis, the complex hierarchies of relation and the distributions of power and accountability etc. mean that the activities of the one do not always entirely correspond with those of the other, such that individuals and communities and states can in certain ways be at odds with each other, while they can also, of course, be in harmony. At the current time, from the perspective we have taken, the life of the individual is bound up in complex ways with that of the state, such that the activities, behaviours and experiences of the one are in some ways limited and bound, or enabled and liberated, by the other.
States, groups, communities, networks, families, organizations, companies: all these groups are constituted originally by individuals, individuals who are bodies, who are born and die, while it is the case that communities and states die also, in a certain way. The bodies of the states and communities are not of flesh and blood, but of buildings and institutions, codes and ways of life. These bodies are subject to the same fate as all others.
Life as an individual in the current age means that, in order to provide for one’s essential needs of air, water and food, and one’s primary or secondary needs of shelter, warmth and clothing etc., one must relate to other individuals, communities and the state itself in certain ways. It is seldom, if ever, the case, in one of these modern societies, that one spends any significant part of one’s existence providing for one’s needs through the direct interaction with nature. In most cases, if not all, it is through society and social realities, in the form of employment, laws, taxation and so on, that one obtains the means to continue one’s survival, and of this fact one must and does become aware early on.
Yet, life in the current age is not only about the provision for essential needs. Indeed, many would perhaps consider that this has not quite been the case for some time. These days, life is about much more than this. The experience of many people in the most complex societies would only consist in part of the provision of essential needs, with the remainder of the time spent “living life”, which is to say, obtaining wider experience of reality, aside from surviving, through exercising choice etc. Yet, what “living life” means is very different from individual to individual, and it entails the whole variety and forms of experiences that individuals obtain. To account for all these details would be a hard task indeed, however, notwithstanding the practical limitations and challenges, and the many issues or facets of knowledge or belief that underpin every large or small aspect of individual and social life, a view of life does open up to enquiry. Continuing with this hypothetical standard perspective, it is a view of life based on those realities of individual life and life in and as a part of society including the realities pertaining to the physical body, to the emotions, the intellect, the subjective experience of life, behaviour and activity; and the relative degree of the health of these things, in whole or part, which is enjoyed; and those realities of social life, such as: the state, government, politics, law, economics, culture, education, family; with the many, many interactions between them all. The richness and complexity of even a single aspect of life means that it is not possible to include all that enters into what follows, for life is adding material to its awareness, history and development on a daily basis. Nor can all the varieties of pathways through experience open up before us (as they cannot to individuals themselves); nor can we address here all the ideas that pertain to them or their arising, Yet, through this casual perspective we may come to some idea of them, however limited it may be.
Here, then, will be the most basic kind of overview of what the experience of life is for our hypothesized contemporary individuals. It is now that our attention is firmly upon the landscape of life in modern society. During youth, individuals have already acquired a great range of experiences of aspects of modern life, under the protection and guidance of various groupings and authorities. But now the individual enters, in a state of relative independence, upon a kind of path through life towards death, which will bring the individual the experiences (it may be hoped) that it would like, and help it avoid those experiences it would not.
The interrelations between aspects of life are also hard to contain. Each experience of reality, as it is now understood, which must therefore enter into the modern perspective, involves a seemingly endless array of constituents which are either, or both, the cause and effect of the other constituents. This complex interplay of the self and the world as it now is can only in these days be understood to any significant level, putting former understandings in the shade. Every aspect of our social and individual experience is affected by every other aspect, in ways which the modern studies of society hope to inform.
We have already said a little about the political realities with which the individual and society are in contact. Amongst the most prominent forms of political reality in the awareness of the individual and society are those entities known as the departments and representatives of the government of the state.
The executive body, usually consisting of individuals who share and execute certain forms of state power, is usually held to some account by other individuals within the government itself, or in society through various organizations, or through some other means according to custom or tradition etc. These executive bodies and powers may be in the form of hereditary monarchies or elected officials, and their powers may be greater or lesser; whatever their form, they are people like all others, born into flesh and blood, and subject to the fate of death by one means or another.
The exercise of power by any one individual, or group, or department, is usually limited, through agreements which are difficult to ignore, in scope or time. Those individuals whose experience of life leads them to positions within the executive branch or government of society have, to a certain extent, an awareness of how their activity affects the experience of life of the members of society. Similarly, individual members of society may also have degrees of awareness, through their education, employment, or other engagement with political realities.
Through the activities of government, and the various departments under its control which are enabled to execute and administer the decisions made on behalf of society, various changes are made that affect the way society operates; alternatively, measures are implemented that seek to prevent certain changes from occurring. These activities have varying degrees of success relative to the intention, and in this way governments are seen either as effective administrators of society, and as able to implement desirable and beneficial change on behalf of the whole or a section of the population, or as ineffective in some way.
The structure of government is complex, and many thousands of individuals compose it, usually according to some hierarchy based on accountability, responsibility and authority. The life of a government involves the creation and attempted implementation of some kind of political programme, which seeks to achieve, generally, the fulfilment of the wishes of the people whom they represent. However, what actually becomes implemented through the term of the government may differ to what was intended, not only because of the nature of political reality itself, but because of the effects of other realities of individual and social life.
Governments, through their activity, attempt to implement change, or prevent change, by gaining access to the power through which change can be made. This access is usually gained in accordance with agreed methods, and within certain bounds, that are already in place, and usually access becomes available to those individuals or entities that obtain the right of access, which is usually according to some kind of majority consent. Much effort is spent trying to obtain this majority, in the forms that have been legitimatized in accordance with the wishes of the state hitherto, or, sometimes, in ways that are less legitimate.
Debates, campaigns, research, propositions, votes; through institutions of a national or local nature, such as councils, bureaus and chambers of commerce, or parliaments and senates; many forms of activity are undertaken by individuals and groups of individuals to gain access to the means by which change can be implemented. When the access is obtained, the process of change then begins, through the instruments of the state and the departments and agencies that are enabled to use them. Such changes can occur quite rapidly, or may take many terms of governments. Then again, some changes may not be implemented at all, because of some error of understanding of the nature of the activity to be changed, because of the political process, or because of some other of a number of reasons.
The kinds of changes that governments can implement can affect the behaviours, freedoms and qualities of life of individuals and communities in various ways. Since access to certain key resources and the necessities of modern life is to some degree regulated by the state, either directly or indirectly, the activity of the state can affect the length, quality and kind of experience individuals will have as regards their basic needs. What is more, those social realities of economics, education, law, technology, art, culture etc., to which one will come momentarily, are in part affected and controlled by the government and politics of the state, which is also affected in turn by the said realities.
In the current age, the state is not entirely independent. It too exists in and forms a community, a society, of states. This international community, being composed of individuals in the form of states, also constitutes a factor that can limit or enable the activities of states or individuals. Transnational organizations, of varying sizes and with various abilities and powers, can exert a degree of effectiveness on the outcomes of disagreements and conflicts, or agreements, concerning the movement of people and goods, access to resources, or fail to. Through international relations, states can cooperate in mutual endeavour, or engage each other through various kinds of obstruction and war, which can bring individuals and families to a wide range of experiences, from loss through war to profit from business and so on.
The political realities that face an individual depend, in part, on the existence of certain legal realities. These realities, in the forms of the law and institutions and codes through which it is expressed, often are directly instituted to govern the behaviour of individuals and groups of them, or the entities they create in the forms of companies and other organizations. The law is, in some ways, the medium through which configurations of state and individual interact. Yet, the law also impacts upon the ways individuals relate to one another, as well as states and transnational organizations.
The contemporary individual is born into a time where there already exists a complex system of rules and levels of enforcement that will govern and limits its activities. If it is to change or avoid any rules or enforcement in any legitimate way, it must proceed through the channels by which the ability to change the laws is legitimately acquired, which is to say, to gain access to power. If it is to act in such a way that is not in accordance with the system of law it is subject to, it may encounter certain other realities of life which are in accordance with that occurrence, namely, the execution of what is called justice, which usually results in some form of punishment through the temporary or prolonged loss or deprivation of rights, properties and freedoms, or life itself.
The law is codified and articulated in various ways in communities and states, and one part may relate to another in a complex manner. What the law is in one aspect of life or activity or another may not be entirely clear, and there exists a variety of institutions, organizations and professions that record, administer, execute and uphold the law, or not, in the form of police, solicitors, judges and the judiciary and so on.
Certain societies have laws or codes on which all other laws and codes depend, in the forms of constitutions and statutes, or customs. These articulate to some degree what are the fundamental rights, obligations and duties of the individuals and society as a whole, including the governments which shall administer them. In other regards, the law is something less fixed, and in the act of living what is determined to be right or wrong and in accordance with the law is decided according to certain regulated processes, by the individuals and institutions enabled to follow them.
In areas of private life, such as the family, the health of the individual, and even the inner experience; in areas of public life, at work, in the community, in government; the laws of the state of which one is a subject or a citizen have their impact. They can stipulate what it is acceptable and allowable to do, or even say, and what shall happen if this shall not be the case, and this, along with many other factors, constitutes a factor that determines what is said and done, whether the law is followed by an individual or a state or not.
The extent to which the law does, can and should control the individual, and the state, or the world of states, is another aspect of man’s enquiries into legal reality and the ideas that flow through it. That individuals and states do not always follow the law is often interpreted according to one or another of the other enquiries into life, such as the biological or social sciences, and from the perspective of the individual, the community, or some other reality. However, the very fact of the sometimes unavoidable interaction with the system of law, in those areas that fall within its scope, and whether this interaction will bring a favourable outcome or not, does constitute a factor in the determination of the subsequent or forthcoming activity of life.
Yet, it is not only the law which provides the limits of what can or cannot be done. Economic realities, on the small or large scale, now touch most aspects of individual and social life, and also affect the degree to which the law can be made, and upheld.
One of these economic realities that constitute a now important aspect of life is money. Whatever its complicated history and development, as must be the case with all the other aspects of life, the acquisition and exchange of money, and the respective ability or inability that these activities allow for the production and exchange of goods and services, whether they be essential to survival or not, is both a cause and an effect of human behaviour, and constitutes a part of its experience to some degree, and its perspective on life.
At the scale of the individual, the relationship between experience and money begins to be understood to some degree early on. It is already a fact of life in youth, where the experience of its lack or abundance has an impact on the way it relates to its own needs, the needs of others, and the objects and phenomena of life and the world. Where the experience of a relative abundance is most common, the behaviour and perception of the individual relative to the provision of it essential needs, and the degree and quality of its dependency, may be such that the individual experiences no difficulties in fulfilling them, while the converse may be true where an individual experiences a lack of money or wealth of one kind or another. Already in early youth, along with other factors, monetary realities begin to shape their current activities and so also their future ones.
As the individual acquires more experience and perception of reality, the pursuit of one or another means of acquiring money may constitute a principal or primary, even if indirect, motivation in life, where perhaps the real object may not be the money itself but the experiences, or supposed experiences, that having the money will bring. It is thus that, while an individual is born into an economic reality, as it is a political and legal reality, at some point an individual or community enters into this reality in a more fundamental way as it reaches maturity and becomes independent.
The social realities of employment, of consumption, of the ownership of property and so on, are in certain ways economic realities, especially where they form a part of those activities of production and exchange. Upon adulthood, the individual acquires a greater or lesser grasp of the ways its experience of life is affected by economic realities, whether its experience includes a great deal of attention to them or not. Thereupon, the choices it will make, and will have the opportunity to make, will be influenced by the kind and particular composition of economics in its environment. The realities of choosing employment or a career, of following specific education and training, or participating in the employment market, now become apparent to it. The experiences of actual work, of its own satisfaction or otherwise with it, of its relations to others as colleagues or customers; and of events such as recruitment or dismissal, and the consequences of them; all these things now form a part of its perspective on life, which is to say, of itself as an economic element within a world of economics. The individual’s future, it is perceived, is now, in part determined by the economics that relate to it, either at the transnational level or at the level of its own activities; will it continue to have shelter, to provide for its essential needs and those of others? Will it continue to have time for leisure and other experiences? Will it attain some kind of economic liberty, and be able to do what it wants? For some, such questions need not be asked at all.
The realities of shops, businesses, industry, trade and so on have been so for some time and have already had their effect upon humanity; and the newer realities of the modern economy, with the various financial instruments available to individuals and companies for trade or speculation, and the realities of modern forms of fiscal policy and intergovernmental borrowing and lending, all shape in complex ways, and limit, the activities and behaviours of humanity, and thus any perspective it may have on it. The impacts of economic realities on human behaviour, and likewise the impacts or even economics of human behaviour on economics, is another aspect of reality with which communities must become familiar, where their activities are enabled or limited by economic concerns, or consequences.
The awareness of these realities, and the actual role they play in the daily or general life of any individual, varies such that for some they constitute a greater part, others a lesser. Accordingly, then, the degree to which economic or other social realities form a part of one’s perspective on life must also vary.
The individual of the current age is faced with a certain degree of complexity as regards the kinds of realities it must face. According to its own abilities, within the limitations of its being, it must learn how to navigate this complexity to ensure and continue its own survival on the one hand, and a rich and fulfilling experience of life during it on the other, if that is its hope. Life affords this education in its own way to all individuals, by presenting them with the realities and their effects in their daily life. Yet, almost universally, humanity itself has created various means of providing a more complete education of those realities, which may allow the individual and society as a whole to meet them and face the challenges they provide.
From an early age, education as a social reality can begin within the school of family. The individual acquires the answers to its simple questions about itself and the world through its interaction with adults and other young individuals who may themselves have had one or another form of education. The quality of this education is variable, and already begins to have its effect on the life that is led.
However, it is through the formal arrangements that communities and states have created for educational provision that constitutes another important aspect of the individual’s initial learning about self and other. Through various institutions and departments, at all levels of organization, according to various methods and ideologies, theories and practices, education is provided to the individual in progressive levels of complexity from youth. Yet, while it soon becomes the case that the family no longer remains the source of a certain kind of education and knowledge acquisition, the family does remain the provider of education of another kind, as society does itself, and all kinds of group experiences. Whether it is through the family or through other groups generally, or through formal education, educational realities constitute the means by which the knowledge and understanding of those groups is transmitted to the individual.
Usually, the content and organization of the educational programme is determined according to certain principles by the representatives of the state, representatives who have also, usually, received an education fashioned in a similar manner. In this way, with the limits of time and resources, the individual progresses through various kinds of subject matter, and whether the institution to which they belong offers a more specialized content of education, or one more in common with the remainder of the population, the individual develops a certain set of skills and competencies, and acquires a certain amount and degree of knowledge and understanding, relative to other individuals in society.
There is usually a period of compulsory education in the most complex societies, and usually it provides opportunities to learn about the many social and individual realities that exist in society at the time. In this way, a great majority of the population receives a similar kind and content of education, and even where there is specialization there is also standardization. Nevertheless, though in accordance with numerous limiting factors, not least of which are, again, time and other resources, individuals can still obtain opportunities to follow and shape their own educational needs and wants.
Through various schools, individuals travel towards the completion of their programme of education, which may be continued beyond that which is compulsory or not. The successful completion of this course may lead to a form of employment that has been long desired, which may bring with it the long suspected rewards of its attainment.
Whatever action is taken, whether it is in the form of life’s own education, or according to a programme of study in the context of an institution or other framework, the learning of the individual continues in one form or another, and this learning continues to inform and influence their behaviour, their evolving knowledge and understanding, and their activity in the world.
This learning may also become a profession, and individuals may use their education to discover and improve upon the knowledge and understanding of humanity. The various areas of investigation and their results, which form into whole fields or disciplines of study, in the forms of scientific and analytical enquiry etc., which are related to one another in various complex ways, and which are undertaken in institutions of education and research, can bring new knowledge and understanding to the individual and society which thus informs and helps shape its orientation. Thus, the ways in which education and the results of learning affect all the other social realities, and the perspectives of the individuals and societies that constitute them, are not inconsiderable, even if they may not be entirely measurable; yet, through observation and analysis, the dependency upon and presupposition of education in all the other areas of individual and social life may be accounted for to some degree. Then again, it cannot be said so easily that one or another aspect of life, one or another reality, is more fundamental than the other, without encountering another individual who would disagree.
Through various kinds of educational realities, not all of which occur within the confines of the institutions of school and university, the individual becomes informed about many aspects of itself and the life it is leading; what is more, it may acquire the opportunities to develop its interests and abilities, which will allow it to acquire more experiences, and become better informed about life. Through the development of skills and competencies, its life is altered, and its access to certain groups is made possible or impossible because of them.
In the context of contemporary society, and the fundamental necessities of humanity, given that the individual arrives into a world of complexity, it may be said, though nobody with this standard perspective (should they exist) would suggest it is the whole story, that one important effect of education is that it enables the individual and thus society to create, access and use various technologies that will directly and indirectly affect its survival, and will either enhance or degrade the quality and content of its experience.
Even a cursory glance around oneself will reveal the extent to which these technologies affect life. The chair one sits on, the computer screen one reads from, the electricity with which it is powered, not to mention the technologies of our clothing and footwear, provide an immediate and tangible awareness of the fact of technology. And what of the technologies on which they depend? Or the workshops and factories full of technologies, in the forms of machines, programs and tools, which allow individuals or machines to make these technologies, or the technologies that can make technologies?
Looking around one’s environment, at the numerous created artefacts, with their long histories of development, and their dependency on the prior innovations of other human beings, provide a certain testimony of the advancement of human knowledge and technical mastery. Technologies that pertain to one’s personal self, to the family, and to the community, in the form of housing, streets, transportation, lighting, electricity, are well established and taken for granted now; the newer technologies of computers, communication and entertainment devices soon will be. And in the life of the state, technology on a larger scale exists: factories build aircraft and spacecraft, ships and particle accelerators, which allow individual, physical beings to reach the limits of their observation and knowledge.
Whether it is by the perfection of older technologies, which allow for the provision of essential and secondary or tertiary needs and desires, or the creation of new ones, which may even create new needs and desires, or fulfil existing ones; in aspects of human life such as communication, sensory perception, health; through the application of its knowledge and understanding, the individual and society as a whole can create and influence the kinds of educational, economic and other realities that pertain to it, and thus affect its partial or whole perspective on life. Whether it is the factor of access, ownership, competence of use, or any other factor pertaining to the individual’s relationship to a technology or group of them, the way it is enabled or not to interact with other human beings, with the state or with itself, has a certain significance for it.
Of course, the creation, use and development of technology has its respective effect upon the life of the state too, as upon the results of scientific or even analytical enquiry, and upon the economic and legal realities of human existence. At the level of the individual and the state, and at the level of the whole of humanity in certain regards, the development and acquisition of technology can radically affect its chances of survival, its opportunity to continue its existence. Even as regards the provision of its essential needs of air and water, without which the human individual cannot survive for any significant amount of time, whether it is in the context of medical provision and ill health and the intended preservation of life, or in the context of warfare and the intentional destruction of life, technology has its role in determining the capabilities and limitations of humanity’s activities.
For many with the standard perspective, it is technological change which signifies the progress towards modernity. Instantaneous communication, high fidelity entertainment, powerful and efficient computing, are all now standard expectations in modern life, and people look towards the next development. Developments in technology drive its scientific and educational objectives and endeavours, and inspire certain individuals to envision future society in great detail. Technology is intended to improve the condition of humanity, and in this, it in no small way embodies and directs its hopes for itself. Yet, technological realities are mitigated by other realities, especially economical ones, and the complex relations between design, intention and actuality are encountered by those individuals and groups who would seek to harness the power of technology for achieving their ends.
Humanity’s ability to create objects has allowed it to live life in ever different ways. Yet it is perhaps its creations of another kind that have affected its experience of life and of itself in other ways, ways which some would assert were more subtle and more profound: art.
In various ways, individuals and groups of individuals may manipulate available materials and technologies, create new ones, or use their own bodies etc. to produce from themselves those manifestations that are known or recognized as art. Whatever form this art may take, and whatever art may be for the individual or society in question; whether it is in the form of static, visual imagery or language, imagery in motion, or sound or the many other configurations of light, motion, sign and so on; art may provide those individuals and societies with some of its highest, most sublime forms of the experience of life, and can add dimensions of complexity and profundity to its perspective in ways that may not be so easily identifiable or communicable, just as it may not at all produce any discernible impression.
Aside from the interrelations between these artistic realities and the social realities of economics, politics, technology, education and so on, and the effects these things may have upon the kind and forms of art that manifests from time to time, or that art may have upon them, in the current age art is usually considered as valuable in itself in one way or another, both by the individuals that produce them and those that experience them. This value may be more or less aesthetic, economic, political and so on, and depending on the interplay between individual and social perspectives, certain kinds of art, or certain works, may appear to be more valuable than others at various times and in various ways.
Whatever value or meaning art or an object or production of art may have, and whether artistic realities form a greater or lesser part of the individual’s experience of life, as is the case with any other reality, the fact and presence of art can constitute a factor in life’s experience by virtue of the current or former influence, existence and nature which contacts and connects with the individual or society. In the standard perspective, those pieces of art or artistic movements which appear to have had a profound if unquantifiable effect upon the life and experience of humanity, in the form of literature, music and visual art etc., may be more highly valued, and may become objects of study and veneration, as might the lives of the individuals and societies which created them. However, there are also many lesser-known productions, which may be personally or collectively venerated, valued or appreciated in any number of ways.
Through artistic expressions and productions, not only those who created them but other individuals and societies may come to certain understandings concerning their own culture and civilization and that of others that they may not have acquired by other means. While value may be relative, the value ascribed to a society’s art by the individuals that constitute it impacts in certain ways upon its sense of identity. In some ways, as some with this perspective may hold, it is at the limits of a civilization’s artistic vision that the limits of humanity itself are found, beyond which its experience does not and cannot pass. Through art, this vision is communicated to other individuals, and thus some idea or apprehension may be acquired about aspects of human behaviour, society or reality, which were hidden hitherto, for one reason or another. Thus, through art there have been various challenges to what has ordinarily been considered to be beautiful or ugly, right or wrong, important or insignificant, and in certain ways that are different from that which technology has afforded, humanity’s horizons, and ideas of itself, have been expanded. Yet, many others would not at all consider that art is indeed so valuable or important.
Yet, others may hold that such horizons and limits, if they do exist, are not reached through art, but are set and reached by, and regulated by the limits of, another aspect of human reality, namely, language. As some may ask, “What art, technology, education, law, government, or even experience of self, could occur without the pre-existence of some form of language?”
As with other aspects of life, linguistic realities enter as real factors that contribute to one’s experience and perspective of life. As is generally understood, the individual begins to acquire language through natural processes of development, which are conditioned by the inherited potential of the physical organism. Through social interaction, primarily at first with the family, and then with society more generally through contact with educators and the processes of education, the linguistic abilities are developed such that the individual enters into certain linguistic realities. These realities consist of the outer realities of signs and texts, and as speaking or reading and writing abilities, through which the realities of politics and economics etc. manifest. These realities also consist of inner realities, in the form of interpretation, understanding and expression, which allow for the complex interaction between the self and the world, and determine the course of activity or behaviour which the individual or social grouping will or will not follow.
Individuals have different linguistic abilities, which may or not be brought out by education or other factors. Nevertheless, the possession of a certain ability to use language in communicative and introspective contexts affects one’s experience of life and partly determines it. The use to which this ability is put by individuals and societies, as they face, create and are affected by life’s experiences, can lead to a great variety and form of experience. From the kind of language that is used in the initiation of a new relationship of a personal or romantic kind, or of a national or international kind, in the form of a transnational agreement; to the kind used in the persuasion or relative control of the behaviour of another individual, for a positive or negative effect; a certain ability of language use is presupposed, though the actual effect may be other to that intended.
At the current time, not least with and because of the social and technological realities around us, language of one form or another is ubiquitous, and individuals usually experience a great amount of communication. Yet, it is perhaps the content of the communication that shapes or distorts, enables or limits experience.
The modern technologies of communication, in which language is formed as books, advertising, journalistic media and so on, bring individuals more and more into contact with the inner and outer lives of other individuals, groups and societies. Through communication, information and knowledge is compiled, disseminated and shared, or distorted. It is a part of the standard perspective that the powers of language as they manifest through various political, commercial, educational, legal realities etc., and through such channels as the media, the state, and particular groups in support or opposition of a certain idea or value and so on, are highly significant in the life of humanity, though much depends on the content of the communication, and the ways in which it is understood.
We are born with and into a set of conditions that determine and limit to varying degrees the kind of life experience, the kind of existence, we will have. It will be an existence characterized by growing up in some kind of family, in some community. There will be our early physical and mental development, our acquisition of language, which will be provided by life itself in our family, through the relations and experiences we will have, and by our early education. Here, we will learn about the basics of life; we will learn to communicate with others, learn and perfect certain skills, and become more and more independent. From our earliest years through our adolescence, our awareness will grow such that by the end of that adolescence we will be quite different not only from other people within and beyond our families, but also from our former selves. Upon entry into adulthood, the greater part of our development is complete and we can now deal chiefly with the living of life, which will be influenced greatly by the life we have lived thus far, and may variously bring us into contact with the harsh and the mundane, or the sublime.
The entry into adulthood is also an entry into a set of conditions, which may have altered since the time of birth in some ways, and in others not. In the modern age, there is already a degree of complexity with regard to certain realities, which our educations will have to a certain extent prepared us and made us more aware. Even our essential needs can only be met indirectly: in order to obtain food, water, and even air, we must perform a complex dance and ritual of training, employment and execution of duties to the community we find ourselves in. Long histories of development in various fields mean that it is not possible, really, to build oneself a clay hut, hunt for food, and drink from the river from youth to old age, living life outside of society. Various others own the land, own the clay, control the water and the means of producing food or providing clean air. Instead, one must find and maintain an income, and with it rent or purchase property in accordance with certain processes and policies; one must pay for essential services like water and heating, and obtain food through payment to various kinds of merchants who provide it. Even to ensure a most basic existence, one depends upon the modern society of which one forms a part.
Some in society do have a relatively basic existence, and in other countries communities are known to exist in ways that were perhaps more the norm thousands of years ago; but largely life now involves a myriad of other experiences and concerns. It is perhaps now that, according to this perspective, one can see how people live a kind or type of life, with a rough and general set of experiences and events and realities more or less typical or normal to it, and that there are many of these kinds of life, which, colloquially, one might identify as manifesting along certain “pathways”. With one’s kind of life, one will have a certain lifestyle, experience certain aspects of life or not, and will be involved with certain kinds of people and society or not. And whether life is considered to be rich and full, or poor and empty, there will be, set by nature and by time, a definite limit as to what kind of life one can have, and what one can experience within it, no matter how like or unlike one’s eventual life is to that of others.
Nevertheless, whatever kind of life one has, from this perspective at least, we are all still living the same life essentially, and there is a basic reality that is the same for everyone, both fundamentally and apparently. There is a basic shared pattern of experiences and events, involving variations of family life and relationships, work, education and leisure, and births, deaths, marriages, and periods of better or worse health. Of course, we have our quota of personal experiences; all the things we read, and see, and the places we visit, the music we listen to; these things make our lives unique in certain ways, but the realities of the individual and society, realities of a technological, cultural, economic, political nature, or realities of a biological, medical, biochemical, or psychological nature, and so on, mean that life is generally, fundamentally, the same for all human beings.
There are some human beings who enquire into such things more thoroughly, and they may work in institutes of learning and science, and the results of their work inform the world of the ways in which it is different or limited or not, and what has an effect and to what degree it does. The various issues that pertain to such work, and such results, are also studied with a certain thoroughness, and where our ideas about our lives differ, there are ways to account for why this may be so, and what really is going in terms of the individual’s experience of the life of itself; and its place in society can be articulated, to a certain degree, as can the limits of this articulation. Thus, whatever our experience of life, various observations and analyses hold true for all individuals. The actual content of one’s perspective may differ considerably to those of others, and yet, one may wonder, because of the nature of the realities to which the individual is subjected, whatever kind of difference may be encountered, the fundamental nature of the reality created by them must be the same, and must also be, in fact, inescapable.
All this, all these realities: life may indeed be seen to consist of them, but there is much, much more to life than this. This rather poor survey of certain social and individual realities and experiences of life can in no way account for life as it is actually led. As any further enquiry into one or another aspect will reveal, there exists, upon inspection, whole lifetimes of study and history of enquiry; intricate complexity which exists not only within the aspect enquired into itself, but through layers and hierarchies of relation to other aspects, which have their own long histories and studies. In the form of communications, over time, as documents, books and articles, individuals and societies have, within their own perspectives, looked at the ways in which certain aspects of life are revealed in ever greater detail; the results of which form part of our own perspectives in various ways and degrees.
It is through various intellectual, religious and analytical realities that humanity has come to various degrees of belief, knowledge and certainty concerning the nature, functioning and development of the individual and society, or its own knowledge and beliefs about them.
With the gradual development and perfection of historical analysis, enabled through various technological, educational and scientific developments, humanity has been able to write and rewrite its history with ever-greater accuracy and detail. Now, there unfolds behind the individual the history of peoples and nations and their ideas. Going back through recorded time, the histories of individuals and communities bring new awareness and understanding of what happened, and perhaps also why. The pathway of development may be traced to one or another level of detail, and through productions, artefacts, testimonies and other forms of evidence, the movement of humanity to its current position may be seen through the millennia, and, perhaps, with this comes some idea of its future course.
The universal or particular behaviour of humanity, and what is typical or unique about it, may be understood through the careful examination of the past, which is preserved in various levels of quality. With this understanding, humanity may know itself, and may determine with greater accuracy what is true or false about it. Through the modern discipline and method of history, divesting reality from myth, and truth from lies, has helped reshaped humanity’s vision of itself repeatedly. The questions of “what really happened?” may be answered with greater accuracy, and intelligence.
And beyond recorded time, in the artefacts that time has not eroded, and even through the very arrangements of the remnants of the bodies of human beings who lived their lives and felt the sun on their bodies, thousands and thousands of years ago; of communities and cultures that existed long before our own, inhabited by beings who, as modern research reveals, created technologies and gave expression to their experience of life tens of thousands of years ago; of beings not unlike modern humans, who also walked upon the surface of the planet with two legs, millions of years ago, with bodies of flesh and blood, with brains of a certain size but of an unknown configuration; historical analysis reveals the mysteries of humanity’s origins as from the animal kingdom, with whom the people of the current day share a common ancestry.
Developments in the enquiry into enquiry itself have also had their effect on the modern perspective. We have already touched upon some of what has resulted from the contemporary enquiries into the nature of humanity, which form and shape the standard perspective. Yet, those enquires are also the subject of vigorous enquiry, and form a part of the various intellectual realities through which the reality and the integrity of humanity’s perspective is tested, such that it may honestly know what it knows. Various enquiries into the nature of enquiry, into the nature of beings that enquire, or being itself, into the challenges and the issues, the solutions and the problems, result in new developments in various fields. What humanity can be certain of, or not, is examined through various studies, in institutions and outside of them, and in part determined. And, with a growing confidence of discernment as regards what is true or false, humanity proceeds at a certain pace towards a more complete understanding of all life, the universe and everything.
Yet, others would not quite exhibit such confidence. Various developments which bring many to understand the ways in which it is not possible to understand, either with physical observations or with the cognitive and analytical faculties, brings a certain number of people to articulate the limits of contemporary enquiries to bring knowledge and understanding. Various intellectual approaches and perspectives have developed in the last centuries that inform the modern orientation of humanity, and lead many to become more critical of the many assumptions and interpretations about life that come from its exploration. Various kinds of modern philosophical schools, associations and trends, with their chief proponents and central concepts, inform the mind of the enquirers into nature about the errors they may encounter, and the limits.
What has come to be known in modern times concerning the origin of humanity, and which has its history in the development of knowledge and thought about it, has also been influenced to a certain degree by religious realities, which, in the form of religious institutions, traditions, authorities and writings, amongst other things, provided certain responses to questions such as the origin of humanity, but which now, in the modern standard view, no longer take part in the mainstream intellectual approach concerning the behaviour or origin of the individual; the role of religion in modern society has in many ways been reduced and replaced by scientific enquiry. The ceremonial, traditional, historical or symbolic realities of the various extant religions are those aspects with which many are primarily familiar, though it is still known and accepted that many, many others practise religion, in various degrees and ways, in communities and society generally.
Many would now assert it is a fact that many older ideas and theories, and ways of interpreting and understanding the world, have fallen by the way, which were once embodied and promoted through the religious tradition, and which can now be understood somewhat more completely in a new light. In many ways, this is because it is felt that modern scientific investigation has revealed the true nature of the universe, which hundreds of years ago had been interpreted or formulated very differently. Many of the former understandings of the origin of the universe, its progress and functioning, as represented by various myths and stories of creation by deities, no longer appeal to the general population as a reliable means through which reality may be known, and which seem primitive. For many, coming to knowledge of the world through religious texts and propositions no longer has value, and in this way empirical scientific method and mathematical formulation has overcome the authority of the once sacred texts. Yet, many still turn towards this or that system of belief, or to reflection upon the ideas that have originated from them, even if they may not consider themselves adherents or practitioners.
However, many would say that religion is by no means entirely divorced from the intellectual life of humanity. Not only through theology, but through religious leaders, officials and congregations, the various contemporary developments of humanity have been interpreted in their own way, interpretations that inform those communities and traditions to which they refer and from which they derive. There are still frequent and intense debates between the scientific and religious communities, concerning this or that point of contention and interpretation as to what is right or wrong, truth or falsity; however, the standard understanding of the life of humanity is to a great extent no longer informed by the religious systems, as those who have this particular understand would assert. Much in life, they might say, is not accounted for by religious ideas, and many questions are answered by modern enquiry. Religion, religious practices, traditions, and communities, have come to be reinterpreted by the various intellectual and scientific enquiries, and to a certain extent, this reinterpretation has had its impact.
Yet, religious communities have themselves likewise reinterpreted these reinterpretations, and have come to establish their own understandings as to what is the reality in which humanity finds itself, in spite of its advancement and the plethora of truths which science may be said to quote in defence of an explicit or implicit atheistic or agnostic position. Religious communities and traditions do remain in the modern society, and in certain parts of the modern world those traditions flourish; and while they have also developed and become subjected to change, such that their role and presence has altered, still many individuals and families, communities and societies affirm their belief in certain principles, ideas or teachings. Still others make religious practices a more fundamental part of their daily experience, while for others their encounter with religious life and practice is mainly through the inherited social or cultural tradition, such as funerals, marriages and religious holidays. Of course, the standard perspective so far presented has rather left out the views of reality from the religious traditions and organizations, and the experiences of individuals of a religious nature, views and experiences which must and do constitute a somewhat different standard perspective for millions of people living in modern societies and who even perhaps still pursue knowledge through modern, scientific disciplines. However, this presentation was not meant to be complete.
With this standard perspective, in so far as it may be atheistic and agnostic, relative to one proposition or statement or another, many would perhaps assert that religious belief, systems of belief, and experiences themselves, can by now be entirely accounted for by the modern studies into the psychology and behaviour of humanity, and by its physicality as understood by biology and neuroscience which are, in turn, subject to unalterable, physical and impersonal laws which govern all phenomena. In spite of the individual’s subjective experience and beliefs, religious belief and experience may be viewed as fanciful, naïve and primitive, as something belonging to a former age, as something to be slightly embarrassed about, and something that can be easily undermined or understood through an appeal to the presentation of the facts of science.
In this perspective, religious realities are only interior ones and have no objective or verifiable value, and they must be accounted for as all other things. The subjective experience can be accounted for as the result of complex processes, which are ultimately reducible to physical realities. Were an individual’s perspective to be such that it was not in accordance with the methods, theories, knowledge and understanding that is by now accepted as being true and real, as those perspectives that are considered to be religious appear to be, not only would it be wrong in some way, but its faults could be entirely and comprehensibly accounted for by the very methods, theories and facts of knowledge that it may eschew. Nevertheless, others would not be so strong in their assertions, and would perhaps come to various understandings regarding the religious perspective, as well as about what religion is, why it is, and what is becoming of it. Indeed, individuals must be variously more or less sympathetic in their view and valuation of religion, as is the case with all other things.
The long and complex development of the religious, intellectual and analytical traditions has then now made it possible, within certain limits, and admitting certain limitations, to be surer, to know what it knows and to know what it cannot know. This development has preceded modern science by thousands of years already, and yet, as many would assert, it has now been superseded by the latter. This does not at all mean that life has been solved! No, the various disciplines and enquirers within them are well aware of the problems that their studies face. The many unsolved problems of physics, mathematics and the social sciences; the many unknown aspects of human physiology, and cognitive life, consciousness: these are some of the real challenges that must be faced. The contemporary focus for the pursuit of knowledge, and the central point around which humanity orientates, is no longer primarily influenced by religious tradition and authority, but by secular and scientific authority, and the many other realities with which humanity is in direct contact.
Microscopic & Cosmological Realities
Individual, social and intellectual or religious realities touch the individual and society in different ways and at different times, depending on how life has turned out. Yet, even this is not the whole story. Life is observed and understood to consist of and even depend upon those realities of the wider world and, beyond that, the universe itself, a fact of which the awareness can bring both comfort and deep unease. Indeed, as is more commonly understood, the foregoing realities of the individual and society are immensely small compared to the realities of the universe, in which they may have their true meaning and context.
Even compared to the reality of the planet we live on, these human realities seem quite insignificant from a certain point of view. Not least, the human reality is but one part of the reality of life in existence on the planet as a whole. Other living beings, in the forms of animals and plants, are found everywhere, and their presence informs us about our own.
In the current age, large amounts of knowledge of life on earth comes primarily through dedicated studies, and yet a certain knowledge of it comes to individuals by direct contact with individual life forms, which knowledge also constitutes an individual’s first kind of knowledge. The first encounter with plants and animals brings an awareness of life’s diversity, which may develop into something more profound later on. The existence of other animated beings, which also go through cycles of life similar to humans, is a fact not easily disputed by even the smallest youth. But it is perhaps the acquisition of a more comprehensive series of facts, through scientific enquiry, that forms the basis of that more profound understanding of the relation between humanity and other life on earth, and which thus informs and shapes its perspective of itself today, and which tells humanity that it is a rather complex animal or biophysical machine.
In many ways, in the current age, many individuals with this standard perspective cannot but understand and know themselves to be, fundamentally, an advanced animal species. They are special animals, and their relative superiority to ordinary animals, as their relative inferiority in other regards such as strength or hearing ability, is the result of a long, complex but entirely comprehensible sequences of events according to various processes and principles on which all life is based, and which may be more or less accidental. For many, the idea that human beings are more than animals is appealing, but the experience of being an animal, though very advanced, seems more fundamental to them. Still, many others cannot quite agree at all that they are animals. Certainly, their bodies may share certain characteristics of animals, but their minds and their culture mean that they cannot rightly be classed with the animals in any true manner.
The comprehension of evolutionary principles and processes which governs and accounts for the development of all life that has already occurred, and that will occur, is by now commonplace. In the most advanced societies, it is perhaps no longer an issue of whether development occurs in this manner, but how. Indeed, not only the previous and recent history of humanity’s development, but its future development also, will depend on deepening this understanding, that will, it is hoped, give rise to the final answers concerning humanity’s origins.
The interaction with life on earth, which may take various forms throughout an individual’s existence, of course takes place within the context of a life lived on the earth, which now includes all the planetary realities which affect the experience of the human being, individually and socially; which affect all living beings in profound ways.
The realities of the surface of the earth, such as land, seas and oceans, mountains etc., have had their impact on the formation of society and civilizations, and humanity is still dependent upon the nature, functioning and state of the surface of the planet. Furthermore, realities that affect and alter the structure of that surface, in the form of volcanoes and earthquakes, constitute factors of existence that may seem remote and inconsiderable, until their effects upon the individual’s reality are felt. These movements of the earth, even if comprehensible, are not subject to the will and power of humanity such that its survival is entirely guaranteed after their occurrence. The developments of its technology are not yet capable of bringing the physicality of the earth under its control, though, for some, such possibilities are envisioned.
In certain ways, humanity has adapted to planetary realities and developed technologies to meet them. The weather and the changing seasons constitute real factors of daily and annual existence, but humanity has adapted to persist in spite of atmospheric changes, through its technologies of housing and clothing, allowing it to inhabit many regions on the planet; and the current perspective is shaped by an awareness of the ways in which the atmosphere can limit or enable its activities or survival.
Furthermore, not only the individual but also humanity as whole now has some degree of an awareness of how the survival and existence of the individual is related to the existence of these planetary realities. These connections and interrelations are complex, but perhaps never before has humanity’s perspective been informed by such knowledge of its relation to the planet, and the way in which they affect one another and all life on it.
The whole realm of existence on Earth comes into the perspective of the modern individual, to a greater or lesser degree of complexity, through its education and interaction with other social realities, through its direct relation to the various manifestations of planetary life, and through the nature of its own being and inner experience.
Yet, this perspective extends still further. For how long has humanity considered not only the Earth as part of its experience, but the existence of those realities it sees beyond it in the sky? However long it has considered the nature and movement of the universe itself, it is perhaps only now that the extent of its knowledge and understanding forms a fundamental part of its perspective on its own nature and origin.
Even generally, human beings have a certain kind of knowledge and awareness about the origin of the universe, the universe’s expansion, black holes and all kinds of complex theories pertaining to the fundamental nature of the universe. The deeper understanding of the universe, formulated in the language of mathematics, has revealed the secrets of the mysteries of time and space, the forces and manifestations of energy, and the nature of matter and light. Through the continued exploration and investigation into the actual constituents of nature, not only in terms of what, essentially, the physical organism of man is composed of, and not only all known forms of life, but all matter and forces, visible and invisible, of which the planets, stars and the universe itself is composed; humanity’s perspective includes a great knowledge and appreciation of the material or physical basis of all things. While there are great debates and controversies, the reality of the physical universe as it is now understood cannot be avoided.
At the smallest scales, all existence depends upon the relations and interactions of realities of, admittedly, a strange and not entirely comprehensible kind, though at other scales the natures of these realities are in accordance with general human understanding, such that it is able to create and develop new technologies and ways of living, and enlarge and evolve its perspective and experience of life, through this knowledge of matter. The ways in which fundamental particles form atoms, atoms molecules, and molecules substances, out of which human life and experience emerges, is not entirely understood, nor are the ways in which the realities of particles determine or affect the physical body of the human being, or their experience of it. Nevertheless, the world “down there” at the smallest scales is mapped out in great detail and with conviction, and in these days it is hard to dispute the existence of non-physical things.
And, at the largest scales, the view of the universe itself, as an almost incomprehensibly vast physical reality, forms the true upper limit of humanity’s understanding and experience: truly, physically, beyond this, there is nothing. While the physical body has not ventured so far from the earth, the mind of humanity has now reached the end of the universe, and it has traversed it using equations and observations made possible with technology and instruments of incredible complexity.
Individuals now know that the origin of humanity lies ultimately in the origin of the universe, which perhaps simply came into existence and was in those earliest moments extremely small. The universe expanded and stars and planets formed, which resulted also in our sun and Earth many billions of years ago. Perhaps as a result of a certain combination of events, simple forms of life emerged on the surface of the planet. Through processes of evolution, more complex forms of life emerged over immense periods. Relatively recently, the species of animal that we recognize as ourselves also emerged, and thousands of years ago began to wonder and communicate the fact of this realization. From a primitive state of life, complexity in our social organization emerged, and early forms of society developed into early civilization. The development of humanity over a relatively short period of perhaps five thousand years is responsible for the current state of its knowledge, understanding and awareness of itself and all that exists.
Between our creation and development from the zygote through to the dying process and death, this vast, non-living emptiness contains our own brief perception of it, and what knowledge and understanding we have managed to secure of it: the understanding that, essentially, the long history of the universe created conditions in which, during one brief moment, it has, through the creation of the life of the individual human being, become aware of all this, somewhat imperfectly, before fading again into the obscurity of an everlasting death and nothingness.
Beyond humanity’s current knowledge and understanding, there is not much more to know. Everything now will be in the details. In the language of mathematics, not symbolism, objective reality is almost entirely understood. Issues may remain, but they are mere differences of opinion; differences that may also be accounted for according to one or another more or less complete theory. Now that nature and humanity has been truly accounted for, it is time to turn attention to the important matters of life: improving the health of the body, securing wealth, peace and prosperity for all, and extending the power of our control over all the life on earth, the planet, and perhaps even the universe itself. What more than this, the sum of all progress, can possibly remain?
Closing Remarks on the Standard Perspective
Here, this casual walk through a somewhat modern perspective ends. We imagined that we wanted to know more about humanity’s perspective, more about what was humanity’s general experience of life and understanding of it. Certainly, it has not at all been achieved through this small endeavour. This account can in no way account for any individual’s actual perspective, and certainly it is not intended to amount to a claim that any individual has this particular perspective for, not least, so very much is missing from it, and it has not at all been inclusive. Furthermore, in many ways the views of life’s realities presented here are already old fashioned for certain individuals, while for certain others, who are perhaps specialists in various fields, the picture is far more complex. No, it has been merely an exercise.
Yet, it may not have been entirely in vain. Through this exercise, one may be reminded of the ways in which one’s own perspective is formed, one’s own experiences are shaped and delimited, one’s own knowledge and understanding of the world is acquired.
Then again, the casual approach cannot quite touch upon the real complexities or value of understanding perspectives. Without the fuller investigation into their nature and function, their composition and evolution, from one perspective or another, an individual may not be able to appreciate the more complex and fundamental ways in which their perspective constitutes their reality. Also, the real ways in which it affects their knowing, and their considerations of what is true or false, and what effect this has upon their own experience and behaviour, and that of others and the world around them and which they inherited, may be quite indiscernible to them.
Yet, what might individuals actually benefit from examining their own perspective? Perhaps the individual may begin to understand more particularly the dynamics of such things as cause and effect as it pertains to their own present position, or how they came to be aware or sure of the things which they are aware and sure about, or how they came to know the things they know, or think they know, and how their beliefs about this or that aspect of life or experience formed, and thus on what their current position is based and relative to. They may obtain, also, a clearer sight of what is the true nature and content of their knowledge as it is distinct from belief.
Furthermore, an individual may become more aware of what are the real determining factors behind their will, which is to say, what are the principal factors within the individual’s own experience that determine what the individual will or can believe, accept, know or have an interest for, or not. In addition, something about the nature of the difference between other people’s perspectives and experiences of life may be also understood from this vantage point. For example, the individual, by examining the particular relations on which their own perspective depends, may come to understand that others” perspectives must also result from a long chain of experiences and factors and that, therefore, others can really only have the perspectives they have just as the individual themselves cannot but have their own unique perspective. It may be understood that, perhaps, other people may or not be aware of how their own perspectives have been constructed to any significant degree.
What will actually result from the individual’s own enquiry into their own experience the individual alone can know, as indeed whether it is a worthwhile undertaking. However, individuals themselves must come to their own conclusions, according to their own studies, regarding whether or not their perspectives constitute a significant factor in the, or their own, experience of life.
For my part, I have come to realize more fully some of the ways in which my own perspective, particularly as regards the fundamental nature of being, life and experience, differs from that of others. However, it is only very recently, at the beginning of this year, that I have considered sharing something of this perspective. As a result of that consideration, I decided that it would be most suitable to publish a series of short articles, through this website, in no particular order, that, along with these introductory remarks, will reveal something of this perspective and, in part, account for it and the reasons for sharing it.
Almost immediately, it would seem sensible to state that it is not at all an intention of mine to attack or undermine the perspective of any other individual or community; nor the perspective outlined hitherto. Not only is such a thing entirely inconsistent with my own understanding of the nature of perspectives, amongst other things, but such a thing would also be quite contradictory and hypocritical, not least to say foolish and naïve, as may be understood from the forthcoming content. Nor is it my intention to outline any kind of doctrine, or formulation of what I consider to be the “right” perspective to have for, again, such a thing would be naïve and erroneous from my own point of view.
Yet, it is entirely consistent with my perspective to speak of what is truthful according to it, and in the way that is truthful to it.
It is merely hoped that interested individuals and communities may derive some profit from this sharing, whether it is smaller or larger, whatever it may be. With this in mind, I hope to be as clear as possible about what is essentially very, very complex.
All things come down to the facts of world and self.
“Self” has a curious relation with “world”: without world there would be no self, for self comes from world, and world exists before it; world is a prior fact. Yet, for a self, world only becomes a fact after the fact of themselves, when it then becomes known, to a certain extent, that world has been the fact that made them a fact: so in a certain way, without self there would be no world.
What is more, the world itself (the world that is known by the self) is not quite the same after the self: the self becomes a cause of effects in the world, which makes the world anew, and makes it a different world, which, in turn, affects the self. Whenever a self starts knowing and being in the world, one way or another, it is in many ways a world that has not existed before.
What we come to know of world depends on what world reveals or presents or discloses of itself in the form of the many objects of knowledge that we can know; this I term simply world disclosure. We are also world, and other people and beings also constitute world for us; others and we are a factor in and element of this disclosure, as are all things that are.
What we can know of world (or, all that is) is determined by world (which includes ourselves and other beings): the forms and limitations of our bodies and minds, and their capacities, and worldly realities such as those of a social, technological nature etc., are all in and of the “world” and they all affect and determine to one degree or another what we can and do come to know. Through the relating between self and world, self comes to know the world, which includes itself, to a certain degree. This coming to knowledge, and this knowing, depends on what I term here the world process, which is and includes all the realities and processes in and of the world by and through which the world discloses itself; being thus the activity of the disclosure. Thus, all the realities and processes of nature; all the activity and process of the capacities and functions which the self has, which allows it to know; all the apprehending of the objects of knowledge, and which includes the world process itself, and all the aforementioned social, intellectual realities etc. earlier in the introduction (which we may come to have knowledge of or not); and also all the things which we do not yet know: these are all a part of the world process through the world discloses itself, and by which we come to knowledge and understanding etc.
So, the world discloses itself to the individual through and in accordance with the means the individual obtains from the world, (whatever “world” comes to mean to them subsequently through their capacities, faculties etc.). Through this disclosure, and through the world process, individuals come to different knowledge and experience. They come to different understandings of what is “world” and “self”, what are the relations between them, the processes that operate in them, and so on, being in different places, times etc. And, with their different knowledge of themselves and the world, they act in the world differently and in certain ways become different agents in the world process to different degrees.
As far as the individual human being is concerned, the world’s disclosure is not complete, absolute; it is only partial. It occurs in only a limited way, as individuals come variously to know. Yet, even this knowledge, and knowledge of the nature and scale of this incompleteness and limitation, like all knowledge, is acquired only through the world’s disclosure, from being in the world, and thus according to the world process. Many things lie outside of the individual’s knowledge and awareness simply because they have not been disclosed to it; but as all knowledge results from disclosure, even the knowledge of the limitations of knowledge, or what is disclosable, depends on former disclosure. What is more, as the individual does not know them (the disclosable things), it does not know how it might know them, or whether it can; it does not know that it does not know them, for such things do not form a part of its current experience.
This vast darkness of the unknown lies not merely beyond what the individual knows, but beyond all that it can imagine, infer, suppose and believe, all of which has originated from what has been disclosed to it through its being in the world. In other words, what the individual comes to know about what is knowable, and thus what it can know, as well as what it can know about what can be disclosed (what is disclosable), depends on what the world has disclosed to it through the world process.
“World” has ever been disclosing to individuals and to humanity, one way or another, what it is and what they are. Of this constant disclosure of the world, individuals, via their own beings as part of the world, in their position relative to it, come to a certain state of awareness and knowledge of the world process and their own being, and according to them.
What is more, humanity as a whole has acquired a certain kind of awareness and knowledge of “world” and “self”. There is what might be called a general, standard knowledge and awareness, which is commonly held and acquired by all human beings. All this might also be called natural knowledge and awareness. It is the kind of knowledge that individuals and humanity as a whole acquires through its natural being without any effort (i.e. knowledge of the colour of objects), or through the effort and use of the faculties and capacities it ordinarily becomes aware of (i.e. knowledge of the area of a circle). Individuals, again, vary greatly in their acquisition of even natural knowledge, for this acquisition also depends on the world process and disclosure, which includes the natural and social processes it has come to be aware of. Thus, individuals come to different knowledge and awareness about their own bodies, about the environment and world around them, and their own capacities of knowing etc. Nevertheless, many generally attain to a certain standard awareness of self and world through sensory capacities, general education and living of life etc., and apprehend that the world is both as it is and as others see it, and that in other ways it is actually quite different to how it appears. Then again, because of either a loss of capacity or lack of development, or lack of opportunity or some other reason or world process, individuals may not come to this standard awareness (i.e. the perception of light through blindness in terms of capacity, or awareness of swimming through opportunity) through the means by which others come to theirs, and yet they may acquire something of it indirectly.
However, certain other individuals and communities, at various times and places, have ascertained and apprehended that this standard disclosure does not at all constitute the entirety of the world’s disclosure, and accordingly there has been acquired a non-standard knowledge and awareness disclosed by the world of a wider, larger reality and aspect of itself, wherein the fundamental nature of being, life and experience is quite different from that understood according to the standard disclosure. This is because world itself has been disclosing these other aspects. The apprehension has been formulated in various ways, and to various degrees of completion and complexity, in many different times and places, and constitutes what might be called simply the non-standard disclosure. These kinds of disclosures have always been met with varying degrees of belief by those to whom the same disclosures have not been made directly, for where an individual does not directly apprehend this or that disclosure, it can only remain in a position of relative belief regarding it, unless and until it comes also to have a direct apprehension. Thus, there is a position of denial regarding the possibility or actuality of non-standard disclosure.
“World process”, “world disclosure”, relations between self and world; what “self” and “world” are, and what is the fundamental nature of being, experience and life; in one way, these things are all very complex. I will certainly attempt to expand on certain aspects of these things as required, but it is not at all my intention to attempt to outline a theory or model of the fundamental nature of world and self. It will suffice for the moment with the above to have drawn a very basic and general attention to certain aspects of being in the world according to my own perspective.
What is more, whilst these and many other things related to them have been something that many individuals have found curious, and which have become objects of enquiry in what might be understood as the various religious, scientific and analytical traditions, they are curious not only in an intellectual or abstract way, but in a practical way also for “self” and “world” are not only concepts, they are realities on which things like concepts depend. It is some of these practical aspects of being here in the world, even right now, which I do intend to address, aspects which may have a certain relevance for the individual who is existing now (specifically, “you”) and who is thus currently interacting with the world.
The Facts from Disclosure
All living beings have a certain capacity to apprehend what the world discloses to it. As mentioned, and which is worth reiterating, what a being comes to have by way of capacity, and to know of its capacity, depends upon further disclosures and the world process.
When disclosure occurs, and it is apprehended, it becomes a “fact” for the being. There cannot be an apprehension without there also being a disclosure; but there can be a disclosure without there being an apprehension.
There are a great amount and range of facts that are apprehended by human beings in the course of their existence, because there are many disclosures according to their varied capacities. These facts are real and true in various ways. All the facts acquired through life constitute the individual’s apprehension of “world”, which is, to it, what “world” has disclosed. There is much to say about it, particularly as regards what is true and false, how and why this may be so, and how facts contribute to the constitution of reality; perhaps I will obtain the opportunity to say something about it in the course of the delivery of the forthcoming content.
What the world disclose through the ordinary and naturally developed sensory, perceptual and cognitive faculties, and thus what the individual apprehends of the world through them, constitutes what I am calling the standard disclosure. All that is observed, heard, read, felt, thought, understood, inferred, imagined etc. through these faculties forms a part of it. (Naturally, this must include all that is heard, read, inferred etc. about what I am calling non-standard disclosure, through books, films, and other communications, and which thus constitutes the standard disclosure of non-standard disclosure and non-standard realities.) Similarly, for other individuals, their apprehension of the world also consists of apprehending something (neither the standard nor the non-standard disclosure can ever be entirely complete or absolute, because of the limitations of being) of the non-standard disclosure itself.
What “non-standard disclosure” or reality is, each individual would interpret in their own way, as with all other things. Yet, in order to help achieve some kind of clarity on such matters, by non-standard disclosure I mean that which is disclosed by and of “world” which is not ordinarily disclosed, and where I must also mean and imply non-standard apprehension, which must also necessitate a non-standard capacity and faculty of apprehension.
Now, what non-standard capacities and faculties are, and whether they are real, are presented in very many ways by, and meets with various responses in, individuals and communities. For some, their actuality does not at all cohere with or constitute a part of their systems of knowledge and belief: they are denied as non-existent, as are non-standard disclosures themselves, and their presentation is reinterpreted through the system of knowledge or belief that the individual has acquired. Or, some others may affirm them as being existent, as they affirm non-standard disclosures, though only in ways that are conditional and dependent upon the system of belief to which they adhere, resulting in many various ideas about them and their acquisition, which may be authorized within a community or not. Similarly, there are others who accept the actuality of non-standard human capacity as a fact in a direct way through their own experience and manifested capacity, through which they apprehend something of non-standard disclosure. Of these, some may actually have the capacity of apprehension of non-standard disclosure, to one degree or another, and some may not. With both standard and non-standard disclosures, individuals may be deceived in their apprehensions as their awareness, knowledge and understanding of their own capacities and faculties may not be complete; and with both disclosures individuals may think they know something when in fact they do not. Indeed, ignorance, deception and error are not at all limited to non-standard disclosure.
It would seem to some that everything regarding non-standard disclosure depends on the actuality or not of these capacities, but this appearance is really quite superficial and distorts, for much more enters into it, not least the entire world process in all its manifest and hidden complexity, and world disclosure itself.
I must state more of what is not my intention here, which is to provide a proof for the actuality of non-standard disclosure and the human apprehension of it. The world has already disclosed very much pertaining to such matters, along with information as to why such actualities are not so for all individuals. The history is long, and varied, as are the debates, and it is written in many languages and traditions, both modern and ancient. Even with ordinary understanding and enquiry it possible to acquire an extensive account of what has been said about such things.
To acquire for oneself the sensory, perceptual or cognitive apprehension of the world’s wider, non-standard disclosure is a question of the world process, and of the development of the capacities that can only occur through it, as with and for all other and ordinary capacities. Thus, awareness, knowledge and understanding cannot at all come through the apprehension of a presentation of any proof.
We are all subject to the exactly the same disclosure and exactly the same world process. The disclosure is constant, and all of reality is being disclosed to all beings all of the time. Yet, it affects us all differently. As limited individuals, through our existence we acquire only a certain amount of facts, a certain array of apprehensions, according to our capacities, which are also differentiated.
So I too, being subject to the very same disclosure and the same world process, can only apprehend the world according to what it has disclosed through the world process I have been subjected to, like every other being in the world. Thus, as is exactly the case with them, my own acquisition of the array of facts through apprehension must in various ways be similar or different to those acquired by others, an array which contributes to the constitution of my reality, which must also be in some ways similar and in others different.
The Nature of Reality
Insofar as such things may be expressed with language, and with respect to and in accordance with the foregoing, this reality confirms: beings are multidimensional entities, whose manifested existence, as apprehended through the standard disclosure, is but one aspect of a being’s existence and pertains to one zone or dimension of the total manifested reality. Being, life, experience and reality are fundamentally multidimensional in its nature and functioning. This nature and functioning, as well as the structure of the being, is essentially eternal and unmanifest, but is also superficially temporal and manifest. The eternal essence of being is nonsubstantial and unmanifest, and is superdimensional and transcendent. That which is manifested of the being is the being’s multidimensional aspect, which is an emanation of eternal essence.
The Being of all being is likewise eternal, nonsubstantial and unmanifest. The eternal essences of all beings are co-eternal, co-unmanifest and co-nonsubstantial with the Being of all being, but they are not the Being of all being. The Being of all being is the ultimate, eternal, absolute, transcendent, unmanifest source of all being. In its manifested aspect, it is the eternally multidimensional all that is. Eternal, universal principles, emanating from the Being of all being, manifest and maintain manifestation as a super-dimensional providence.
Beings are eternally related to one another and to the Being of all being through co-eternal co-unmanifest essence. Through manifestation, these relations are both “lateral” and “hierarchical”: lateral relation confirms the absolute essential equality of the being of all beings, and their co-identity as eternal unmanifest essences and multidimensional manifestations; hierarchical relation confirms the absolute essential interdependence of the being of all beings. There is no manifestation that is not laterally and hierarchically related to other manifestations. The manifestation of the Being of all being, being all that is, contains all the lateral and hierarchical relations.
A being’s capacity for self-awareness as a multidimensional, eternal essence, along with all the other capacities of the being, is originally an unmanifest potential inherent in the being’s eternal essence. In accordance with universal principles, beings manifest their potential through their multidimensional manifestation. In a certain way, this multidimensional manifestation is also in accordance with and tantamount to the being’s actually manifested potential. In accordance with the same principles, which manifest, for example, as and through the world process, beings come to manifest differently and come to manifest different capacities, all of which affects what is disclosed to them through the wider manifestation they become aware of through their own.
Human beings naturally manifest some of their inherent capacity of self-awareness. Most human beings develop the capacities to become self-aware of certain aspects of their multidimensional nature i.e. their physical aspect, or, at least, those who grow to a certain stage or state of development do. Human beings are beings who, relative to others existing on the planet at present, develop relatively more of their inherent capacities for self-awareness and knowledge, but some other human beings come to develop more of their inherent capacities than other humans, and thus come to a greater awareness of their multidimensional nature and eternal essence.
The New Disclosure
World is constantly disclosing itself to self. One’s current experiencing is testimony to it. Yet, the disclosure or the revealing of world is not always the same to the individual. At different times and places through the life of the self, there are different kinds and qualities of disclosure that are apprehended. Some are mundane and unremarkable, and others are less so. And, at times, there occurs within the life of the self major disclosures of one sort or another. Individuals would have different ideas and views about what they are, and how such things might be expressed or considered, but perhaps many would agree that disclosures such as self-awareness, the self’s awareness of its mortality, or the self’s moments of deep understanding and realization concerning its relations to world, constitute for it major disclosures.
In the life of humanity also there are many minor and some major standard disclosures. Again, different views are to be expected, but perhaps many would agree that humanity’s ubiquitous experience of gravity constitutes a relatively minor disclosure about an aspect of the world, while perhaps the discovery of equations relating to it constitutes a major disclosure; and that major social, technological or scientific developments and discoveries, which arise out of humanity’s capacities and abilities, constitute major disclosures that alter humanity’s relation to the world in some way, and constitute a sort of “turning point” and instigate major changes to some aspect of life, and understanding of and relating to the world.
As regards non-standard disclosures, it can also be seen, such as through history, how there have been relatively minor and relatively major disclosures, although much could be said about the world process that made them so, as with standard disclosures. These disclosures, through various individuals and communities, have further disclosed to others something of the wider nature of reality which is not ordinarily apprehended or experienced, and which individuals and communities have either then come to apprehend for themselves the same wider reality, or believed or disbelieved that it was true.
Minor and major disclosures are usually only appreciated as such in retrospect, according to the methods and values and capacities of the being or society. Yet, with keen observation, individuals and communities may apprehend some of the signs of change in their contemporaneous setting, understanding something of nature of disclosure (in both its standard and non-standard manifestations), where they may then ascertain, to a greater or lesser degree of accuracy and completeness, that something new and significant is occurring or has recently occurred.
My own perspective leads me to support that there is currently what amounts to a new major non-standard world disclosure to beings in the world, which is beginning to be generally apprehended. It is “new” in the way it manifests to beings, although of course what is disclosed of world can only reveal the same world that has always been, so that it is fairer to say there is a new, generalized non-standard apprehension of the world.
Being new, what is disclosed or apprehended cannot manifest in the way of past disclosures and cannot be articulated according to them, although it can only be subject to the same world process. This new disclosure is beginning to give beings in the world a new apprehension of the wider reality not ordinarily or naturally disclosed, according to their abilities, through their normal as well as their nascent and developing capacities; and to bring to them a new understanding of themselves as multidimensional beings and as eternal essences. Naturally, this new disclosure can only largely be interpreted and reinterpreted through the individual’s current awareness, and therefore through all the recent and former disclosures that have been made to it through the world process. Nevertheless, a certain vague but direct awareness of its fundamental nature and difference may still be apprehended and thus become manifest in their experience of life.
It must be said that because this awareness is only vague and somewhat primitive at present, there can only be much speculation and imagination that enters into the apprehension of what is disclosed. In this way, it can only become quite bound up with the form and content of previous standard and non-standard disclosures, and be interpreted according to and through them, where it can therefore only be generally manifested through and by individuals and communities as a rather fragmented confusion of former non-standard disclosures, according to differing levels of awareness. However, certain other individuals may acquire a clearer awareness and apprehension of the said disclosure, in accordance with their developed capacities and manifestation, and perceive something of it as it is in itself.
Certain genuine aspects of the manifestation of the new disclosure may be discerned as consisting of: a fundamental and general revaluation of current values; a change in and growth of individual and social awareness; a reinvigoration, revaluation and new appreciation of religious tradition and practice; a fundamental shift in scientific and technological arenas, bringing awareness and knowledge of multidimensional aspects of manifestation in those arenas; a fundamental shift in social, political and economic organization; a wider, if still generalized, proliferation of the apprehension of non-standard disclosures and thus the wider nature of being, life, reality and experience; and a fundamental shift of focus away from individuals as objects of disclosure towards the Higher Itself as the object of disclosure, through the world process, universal principles, and eternal essence, and through Which the entirety of life will be uplifted. But as the genuine aspects of a disclosure can only really be appreciated through direct apprehension, it must be clear that the same cannot be discerned through ordinary intellectuality, where it can only be met with suspicion, incredulity, and a great deal of imagination as regards its actuality, and bound up with realities from disclosures which are already accepted by the intellect as genuine, and which are familiar to it.
Furthermore, the temporal profile of the new disclosure in the current zone of being can only extend over periods consisting of hundreds or thousands of years, as with other major disclosures. This means further that ordinary, temporal observation will not be able to perceive the new disclosure in its entirety except in retrospect, and will not allow the individual to be able to acquire a genuine perspective of it. However, over time, the new disclosure will become less and less bound up with the form and content of previous disclosures, and will become therefore more distinct to both the general and widespread standard and non-standard apprehension. It may be pointed out here that it is not at all the case that the new disclosure will replace former disclosures; however, further discussion of the world process may clarify certain aspects of the relation between the new disclosure and former disclosures.
Because the new disclosure is not necessarily going to be bound to any single individual, community, event, movement or intellectual current etc., there is no definite “beginning” or centrifugal point that may be ascertained; although it would be accurate to say that this “beginning” began in earnest in what is commonly termed the twentieth century, which in many ways brought the evolution of humanity of the past three millennia to a culmination, and which is continuing to “begin” in the current century and will continue to begin in the coming centuries, which will also lay the foundation for the evolution of humanity over the coming millennia.
Through the world process, through all the realities it consists of which I apprehend, I, like many, many others, have come to understand that the nature of humanity and life is not as it appears. Furthermore, I have also come to understand that the situation of humanity, with all the challenges and problems it is facing and must face in the future, is also not as it appears, and thus its solutions cannot hope, ultimately, to resolve them. Not least, the world process itself consists of many more realities of which humanity is either not ordinarily or significantly aware or denies the existence, which denial or lack of awareness constitutes a significant factor affecting its living of life, development and experience. Enquiry into the nature of reality has brought humanity into closer contact with knowledge and understanding about it, allowing humanity to empower its will and secure for itself a relative degree of peace, happiness and freedom, in accordance with its deepest hopes and longings. However, unless humanity moves forward to bring into its awareness a wider knowledge and understanding of not only of its own nature and place in the universe of being but the laws and principles which govern it, even its relative peace, happiness and freedom cannot endure, and it will continue to be subject to forces, manifestations and experiences which will undermine its endeavours, hopes, and evolution.
It is certain aspects of this situation of humanity, from this perspective, which I intend to address and present through the content of this website in the forthcoming period, for reasons that may also become apparent. Principally, I would hope to address something of the following aspects as they affect or relate to the situation of humanity: humanity’s understanding of and relation to one of the universal principles which I call the evolutionary principle, both as it pertains to self and world; the nature, understanding and practical aspects of the experience of self, and its fundamental relation to the evolutionary principle; certain aspects of reality, the world process and universal principles through and by which self comes to be and experience self and world; the Being of all being. However, I may also obtain the opportunity to address other aspects of the situation of humanity, or its nature and being, or other issues.
The Evolutionary Principle
Regarding the evolutionary principle, humanity has now more generally attained a level of awareness as regards certain forms of its manifestation. In the current age, certain aspects of the principle have never before been so thoroughly articulated or understood, which is to say, as regards what it understands by the various identifiable biological evolutionary processes. Many would assert that this kind of evolution, which pertains primarily to the evolution of the human being’s physical organism, and currently formulated as and through a synthesis of various ideas and theories derived in accordance with certain methods which are themselves in accordance with humanity’s standard intellectual capacities; is the only kind of evolutionary process that actually exists or can be confirmed as so, and that the evolutionary principle must be a relatively recent discovery in the history of humanity.
However, all throughout history, individuals and communities have long understood, through non-standard disclosure, the wider and deeper nature of the evolutionary principle as it relates to the multidimensional nature of the being’s manifestation and its eternal essential existence. Thus, through the great variety of historical discourse resulting from non-standard disclosures, the evolutionary principle manifests through various formulations of “transformation”, “change”, and “development” etc. as regards those eternal aspects of human beings which have found various expressions in various languages, according to the capacities of those beings; which may also be considered to pertain to the greater, more significant part of the being, of which its temporal and physical aspect can only, in truth, represent a relatively insignificant aspect when placed in the context of the being’s apprehended fundamental eternity. In the communities and traditions that have resulted from various historical minor and major non-standard disclosures, the evolutionary principle has been understood to pertain not only to humanity as a whole, wherein it moves from one stage or state of development and being to another, but also to the individual itself who moves likewise from one form or stage of development or being to another.
In some ways, the limits of what can be understood of the evolutionary principle through the standard disclosure and through the naturally developed capacity have now been reached. The world process, and not merely through the realities of historical, social, technological, religious and scientific development, has brought humanity to a more or less complete and general knowledge concerning certain aspects of the development that pertains to one zone or dimension of its being. However, it does not generally know to the same extent of the development of the other aspects of its manifestation; in fact, this knowledge is so primitive that it almost amounts to nothing relative to the knowledge it has of its physicality. In many ways, generally speaking, what humanity has by way of knowledge of its multidimensional nature consists largely of imaginings and abstractions.
But the story of humanity is written in the evolutionary principle, and likewise so will its future be. As the new disclosure is characterized by a more generalized proliferation of apprehension, and as the former world disclosures have through the world process brought humanity to a certain stage of development, where it may now more safely encounter the profounder aspects of its own nature, and where its consciousness, generally speaking, has also developed to a certain health and strength that will allow it to apprehend what is disclosed with a certain, relative maturity; humanity in general will now begin to deepen its knowledge and reasonable belief over time as regards its multidimensional nature and its evolution, such that such apprehension and disclosure will less and less remain an actuality for the few, on whom the mass of individuals and humanity will also depend less and less and come to knowledge and awareness more and more directly through the manifestation of the Being of all being and their own apprehension of It, yet on and in Whose power alone, and ultimately, this depends.
In order to evolve towards that greater knowledge, one significant aspect of the evolutionary principle, which has been the main aspect which has been disclosed through all previous non-standard disclosures, and what might be called the moral aspect, must be understood in all its significance, for there is no evolution without moral evolution, and likewise if there is no moral evolution, at the individual or the global level, there can be no further evolution of knowledge into that sphere of knowing. In many ways, only moral development constitutes development in fact; all other development consists of a mere change of form which, relative to one form or another, can only be more complex or less, and which can just as easily represent an actual degradation as a development, in spite of appearance. Therefore,, through the forthcoming presentation, it will be the moral aspects of the evolutionary principle that will primarily be presented, along with some of the ways in which the said aspects relate to and affect other aspects of the evolutionary principle.
The Aspect of Experience
The experience and the perspective of the individual, in as much as it is constituted by the former interaction between self and world, also constitutes a fundamental factor in the subsequent interaction and relation between self and world. The nature of the individual’s experience, the particular pattern of its unfolding, and the effect that previous experience has upon subsequent, through its influence upon the realities of its own behaviour and activity, is both directly related to, affected by and a factor in the individual’s previous and forthcoming evolution. This factor pertains not only to the evolution of that aspect of the self that manifests in one dimension, but also to that which manifests in all the dimensions of its being. This is to say that the experience of the individual is significant not only for their present reality and those aspects of it of which they are presently aware, but the totality of its reality, of which it may or not be entirely or actually aware.
Some may conjecture from what has been said that I mean to suggest the individual is entirely subjected to the world process and that what is articulated here is fatalism or determinism. This is not at all the case, for the world process consists of and leads to the development of beings’ capacities, through which they can manifest. Insofar as these capacities are developed and inasmuch as they allow, beings may manifest freely. Manifesting therefore in certain ways in which they must, and in certain ways in which they have a choice, the individual, in accordance with universal principles and processes, constitutes a factor in the outcome of their experience, to the degree which their capacities are developed, along with the degree of their awareness of them, and the degree of knowledge and understanding of and through them which may be or has been acquired.
In a very important way, the nature of the individual’s experience of life, and the kind and form of development it will attain, not only in one aspect or dimension of its current being but entirely and subsequently, depends in certain ways on the execution of its free will and the manifestations that result therefrom. There is so much that enters into this aspect of man’s situation, as indeed with all the many other aspects, that in this introductory section this relation between behaviour, experience and evolution may seem superficial and insignificant when in fact the contrary is the case. It may indeed be apparent and accepted that a being’s manifestation and experience of life is ultimately a consequence of its evolution, but by contrast, it may not at all be understood or accepted that evolution is itself ultimately a consequence of manifestation and experience.
Regarding “reality” and those aspects of it that pertain to the situation of humanity and the situation individuals of the current time find themselves in, so much could be said and still relatively nothing could be said about it.
Aside from the important issue concerning what constitutes reality, to which I will return briefly in the subsequent part of this introductory section, it will be necessary for me to concentrate more upon the practical aspects of dealing with realities rather than discuss in any detail or in any analytical fashion what reality is as per my own perspective. Yet, it is through the reality in which I have my experience and of which I have a certain perspective, just as is exactly the case with all other living beings, that these practical aspects will be informed, and thus there will be some necessity to articulate further what constitutes the nature of the said reality or realities.
Generally, this will consist of a certain articulation of those world processes and universal principles which practically impact upon the individual’s and humanity’s experience of life, and which thus also affects its onwards development, of which it may not generally be aware or accepting. It must also consist of some discussion of the capacities of the individual human being, both known and unknown, acknowledged and unacknowledged, as it is primarily these same capacities on which the individual depends in their own apprehension of what is disclosed and through which their verification of it as truth can alone be made. As this articulation can only be in accordance with the world disclosure, it can only be as accurate and limited as are the capacities through which the same is apprehended and through the medium it is articulated, namely language.
The Being of All Being
As mentioned, the discussion of reality could hardly be completed, not only because it is such a vast subject but also because it is very complex. However, nothing is comparable in vastness or complexity than the discussion of what is here termed the Being of all being which, in any case, cannot at all be discussed with any degree of accuracy in language, though the reality of the Being of all being contains all realities, reality itself, including linguistic ones.
Perhaps nothing in the history of humanity has been understood to so small a degree as the Being of all being. Nor has anything been the source of so much imagining and ignorance, which is also entirely comprehensible, necessary and thus expected. Yet, in spite of a certain impossibility of the ordinary capacity and intellect to understand the Being of all being, and in a certain way its other capacities entirely – for the being of humanity is just too small to attain to any significant degree of accuracy in its apprehension – still, while actual error of comprehension must follow, there are more erroneous errors and there are less.
As this failure of comprehension regarding the Being of all being is a fundamental and necessary consequence of the development of the being, only a further and more advanced evolution itself can bring to the being a more accurate and complete knowledge and comprehension, which means all human knowledge of and communication about the Being of all being must necessarily be relative.
Thus, what is communicated here about the Being of all being must also only be considered as relative to my own capacities and to the disclosure through the world process (which must be limited) for, as per my own understanding, the Being of all being is knowable by humanity only relatively. Thus, as is the case with all other beings, and all other things said or that may be said about It, what is found here can only be relatively more erroneous or less so. However, it must also be stated that while anything written about the Being of all being, and any understanding this gives rise to, can only constitute, in the final analysis, what the Being of all being is not, nevertheless it may still serve as an approximate means of comprehending what is necessary to comprehend for the purposes of articulating the aforementioned realities and issues pertaining to the situation of humanity, in a similar way that the drawing a child makes of the planet Earth may serve to represent, however imperfectly, the finer details of its geography and other features, and may still give some impression of the Earth according to its ability.
With this in view, regarding the apprehension and comprehension of the Being of all being, it may assist to consider the following: in any given field or area of enquiry, there is always, from the individual’s or humanity’s perspective, a certain amount or degree of things that are not known, or not yet known, compared with what is known. Through exploration and discovery, the same gradually comes to more knowledge, where that which was once unknown now becomes known. However, there still remains more that is unknown. In a similar way, the Being of all being is like knowledge: it is in a certain regard known, and in another unknown. In another way, the knowledge of the Being of all being is thus ever yet to come: it exists in that “part” which is not yet known. It is ever beyond the horizon of current knowing. Any encroachment into that area reveals a new horizon in the distance. Thus, the Being of all being is always farther than where one is currently, wherever or whatever one is; it is “somewhere” beyond one’s reach. With all that one has acquired thus far, the results of discovery and exploration, only ever give one a part of the picture, and in a certain limited respect only help one ascertain what is not yet known. In any event, there is always something more. Yet, through one’s exploration one has acquired “something”, and this something represents the relative knowledge the individual may have concerning the Being of all being, which represents in fact what has been disclosed, and which thus is now a manifestation.
In many respects, the Being of all being, being that which that is not, may be approximately understood, at least in terms of manifestation, as that which lies at the very next interval relative to one’s current position, in what is unknown. Thus, whatever it is, and wherever one is, the venture into what was formerly unknown is a venture into and towards the manifestation of the Being of all being. Of course, it may be the case that much, much lies beyond the very next interval, but that is less known than the unknown. Thus, it is better to stick to what lies just beyond, which is all that is not yet disclosed, and which is thus beyond all inference and imagination. For the human being, there is the Being of all being.
In this way, one must return to the very position and experience of life that one finds oneself in, for by this approximation that which is “higher” is relative to that position. This means that the Being of all being is anything and everything not yet disclosed to the individual, from the experience of a new object, the discovery of a new theory, or the latest non-standard world disclosure; the discovery of a new material, the discovery of a new star, the creation of a new artistic work, or the latest discovery the individual makes of themselves and their capacities: these are all a ventre into and towards the minute and mundane and infinite and extraordinary Being of all being, and the very same discovery of exactly what it is not. In this way, the Being of all being is always mysterious. Through the gradual encroachment into the unknown, the Being of all being ever reveals what it is and what it is not, but the same also implies a gradual evolution of knowledge, or degradation. Being always farther, subsequent, over “there”, for the sake of simplicity I shall refer to the Being of all being as the Higher.
In this way, it is therefore both possible and impossible to talk about the Higher.
Of course, I recognize and understand that to a number of individuals certain aspects, if not all, of this content must seem quite farfetched, erroneous and false, as occurring only in accordance with the imagination and having no actual relation to anything that is real or true, and in those cases, this must necessarily be the case. As mentioned previously, the question of what is reality is indeed a very important one for the individual, and for humanity in general, though I will not be attempting to outline in any real detail what reality is. Most importantly, it is not at all the intention to stimulate in the individual any desire to acquire this or any others’ model of reality (which is all that may be attained through language). Rather, it is entirely appropriate for the individual to continue to acquire their own, in accordance with their own capacities (which, in fact, they can only do).
Fundamentally, each unique perspective affords the individual the only picture of reality they can have. If they were to have another, they would have that one instead. It would be quite useless to insist that one individual’s reality is not “reality” and that another’s is. Each perspective is absolutely valuable, true and real in its own way, and thus essentially there is no contradiction between them. Nevertheless, for some beings, reality is more detailed than that of others, or it has different qualities, or features: the reality of the fish is not the same as the reality of the dog, nor is the reality of the infant of any species quite the same as the reality of the adult. And yet, they are all “in reality” and experiencing the same one reality, which is really the manifestation of the Higher that is disclosed to them.
Thus, while indeed it must be the case that what is understood, held to be and perceived as reality by individuals and communities is relative, and is influenced by the great dynamic of forces that come to be represented as the world process, it is still also real and true in a certain maximum way, until, that is, the world discloses to the individual in such a way as they may begin by themselves to determine that it may not necessarily be so, in accordance with their capacities and the world process (and which therefore forms a part of the individual’s growing awareness of what is true and real).
What is presented here in no way seeks to undermine or invalidate the perspective of any individual being or community. Such a thing is essentially inconsistent with my own understanding of the principles by which individuals acquire their perspectives. All that one may do, being but a small part of the whole community of humanity, is speak the truth that is the truth of one’s perspective, in the way that is truthful to it; which must therefore consist of apprehensions and articulations of both similarities and differences between one’s own and others’ perspectives. Individuals and communities must therefore only take of it what they will, or leave it.
I share my perspective primarily because through it I come to observe that at the heart of humanity’s perspective there does exist a profound, fundamental ignorance, which gives rise to all the forms of suffering that people experience, of which some is indeed unnecessary. Yet, it can only be individuals and communities themselves that observe the same within them. Through more sharing of perspectives, whatever they are and from whatever beings they are from, there does exist the real possibility of moving further away from suffering. As already stated, the Truth of my perspective is as truthful as the Truth of any other individual’s perspective. As to how accurate or erroneous it is, well, ultimately it is for the individual alone to determine, as has always been and will always be the case.
As regards my own perspective, it must be restated that it can only be acquired in exactly the same way as that of any other being, in accordance with the same processes and the same realities. Thus, there can in no way be anything fundamentally special or extraordinary about it or about myself, which view or sentiment is neither claimed nor promoted. Like many other human individuals my biography is quite ordinary, and like all I have an array of imperfections, with only a relative amount of knowledge and understanding, which is circumscribed by the same realities and processes to which all are subjected. Like others, my being consists of certain capacities, through which I apprehend the disclosure of the world to self.
Regarding all former and currently existing ideas, concepts, systems of knowledge and belief, which form a part of what I have called the standard disclosure and which, through the world process, is disclosed variously to all individuals with the capacity of apprehension, I must assert that I cannot and do not claim or propose any particular allegiance or affinity with any tradition, idea, figure or concept. What is more, though it is bound to occur that particular words and phrases I have used must appear to correspond with the usage of others’, I would only urge caution in arriving at conclusions concerning similarity or difference. Not least, my own poor ability of communication must mean that in some ways I do not quite express what I wish to express, or rather obscure my meaning and intention. With this unfortunate situation, I must simply refer individuals to other, better articulators of standard and non-standard disclosure, or better still to their own abilities of apprehension.
My fundamental valuation of the nature, productions and practices of all traditions and figures, whether they are technological, analytical, scientific, religious etc., and whether they appear to be in sympathy or antipathy with my own understanding and perspective, does not in any way make me bound to one or another. Furthermore, I can only assert that where there is truth, whatever form it may take, it can of course only confirm and cohere with what, if anything, is truth here. And yet, as every form and manifestation is equal and identical to the manifestation of the Higher, I must also assert simply that from a certain point of view everything is truth, and indeed it is found everywhere.
Essentially, I agree entirely with the perspective of every individual and the results therefrom, for the contradictions between them are only apparent. Thus, I entirely support, confirm and affirm every atheistic and theistic assertion, every fact and every fiction, every belief and disbelief, and so on, that comes out of the perspective of others. It is not at all an uncomfortable multiplicity, nor is it an escape into relativistic nothingness; it is the simple realization of the variable, multiple nature of truth and reality, and the myriad forms of the Higher.
Anton Jarrod, March 2012