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Epistemological Panic in the face of Nonduality


Epistemological Panic in the face of Nonduality
In quest of a "meta-model": engaging in a meta-modelling process?
Strategic engagement: higher orders of vigilance?
Transcending duality: epistemological panic of nonduality?

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Part 2 of Beyond the Standard Model of Universal Awareness: Being Not Even Wrong?

Does nothing matter: "mattering" of "nothingness"?

Conflict between systems: Arguably philosophers have engaged in noble efforts to clarify the context within which all-encompassing theories emerge and decline (Nicholas Rescher, The Strife of Systems: an essay on the grounds and implications of philosophical diversity, 1985). It is very challenging to engage cognitively with that context and the process, especially given the commitment to the next emerging theory and the exciting claims made for it. The process has been partially addressed in the debate over the contrasting perspectives of T. S. Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962) and Karl Popper (Conjectures and Refutations: the growth of scientific knowledge, 1963). Rescher (1985) concludes his study of such distinctly unintegrative conflict with the comment:

For centuries, most philosophers who have reflected on the matter have been intimidated by the strife of systems. But the time has come to put this behind us -- not the strife, that is, which is ineliminable, but the felt need to somehow end it rather than simply accept it and take it in stride. To reemphasize the salient point: it would be bizarre to think that philosophy is not of value because philosophical positions are bound to reflect the particular values we hold.

Astrophysicists and cosmologists are now (in desperation?) offering theories based on a contextual multiverse of which the current Universe is to be understood as one of myriad "pocket universes". Arguably many individuals feel themselves to be "pocket universes" in their own right -- if not "pocket individuals" within "pocket societies". Might this justify a Declaration of Universal Independence (2009)?

Despite such challenging contradictions, the sense of process and flow to which individuals potentially have access in their understanding of daily life has been explored, controversially, in terms of process thinking and flow psychology (Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, 1929; Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, Finding Flow: the psychology of engagement with everyday life, 1998).

Potential of nothing: Amazingly, of more fundamental significance in their response to the inadequacy of the Standard Model, is the "legitimacy" that astrophysicists now feel it appropriate to give to the energy inherent in "nothing" and "nothingness" (John D. Barrow, The Book of Nothing, 2000). The potential significance of nothing had of course been contemptuously deprecated by science, both as understood in some spiritual disciplines (as in Buddhism) and in earlier reflections on the ether (notably by Dmitri Mendeleev, discoverer of the Periodic Table). Nothingness has however now become fashionable -- and a focus of public funding -- however "fashionable" is to be understood as part of a psychosocial process of relevance to physicists in quest of a Theory of Everything.

This might be welcomed to the extent that new insights emerge from creative reflection on "nothingness" -- given the extent to which this is a problematic psychosocial experience for many people. Arguably there is a clear case for individuals to "re-cognize" their processes of waking up -- their daily cognitive big bang -- especially if it leads to insights on how to live sustainably on nothing. Of course the desirability of this quality of understanding has long been promoted in a variety of spiritual traditions.

It has even been proposed that the quest for a Theory of Everything be replaced by a quest for a Theory of Nothing (Russell K. Standish, Theory of Nothing, 2006). This could be especially appropriate in a period in which the optimistic individual quest for acquisition of "everything" is increasingly confronted by the economic reality of how to live with "nothing" -- whatever the funding levels of physics. The CERN Large Hadron Collider -- for pursuit of the hypothesized "God Particle" -- is but one example.

The challenging recognition by astrophysicists is that there is an energy associated with nothingness which is capable of engendering matter in some way as yet completely unexplained. A feature of the social process associated with such recognition is that no insights whatsoever are to be sought from other disciplines, which have long reflected on this process -- insights necessarily to be considered meaningless irrespective of their nature. effectively the essence of nothing? It might of course be fruitful to reflect on the distinction between meaningful and meaningless reflections on nothingness.

The cross-fertilization between such perspectives has been considered in much greater detail in an earlier paper (Import of Nothingness and Emptiness through Happening and Mattering, 2008).

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