by richard singer
(314) 931-5862 or (314) 721-2779


First Edition: 6/74
Current Edition: 6/99

This workfile a personal tool, written to help me better understand both my attitudes and my nets. While I am pleased with what I have been able to achieve in this regard, I am still not pleased with this workfile as a tool for communication. Thus while I doubt that there are many others who might find this workfile useful, I am again willing to share it with anyone who is interested.

A net is a network of concepts and conceptual relationships. Some concepts lie submerged, implicitly supporting other concepts. These are subcepts for the net. By conceptual philosophy I mean the study of our deepest nets with a focus on their subcepts and the other concepts these subcepts most directly support. Conceptual philosophy also refers to the nets that result from such study. MNP is my net for philosophy. MNP includes 3 main subnets MNR, MNU, MND. This workfile focuses on the core the most intertwined subceptual strands of these nets. It is the first in a partially ordered set of files on MNP. An outline of these files is given in the appendix. These files are personal rather than scholarly, and while I have clearly drawn on the ideas of other persons, I seldom give reference. MNP is also closely related to the 3 public nets indicated below.





My Most Fundamental Experiential Dichotomy
The Significance of My Net For Philosophy
Origin Claim
My Origin Quest
Subcepts & Cocepts
Understanding a Conceptual Net
Personal & Public Nets
The Concept of Conceptual Philosophy
The Significance of Conceptual Philosophy
The Current Status Of MNP
A Claim To Competence


Partitions of Reality
My Will
My Persona
My Beyond
The Subcept of a Will
The Subcept of a Beyond
The Persona Subcept
Non-Cartesian Dualism
Intertwined Subcepts
The Person Subcept
Intentional Action
The U Parameter
The C Parameter
Deliberate Action
Ontology vs Ontics
The Personal
Major Reality Concepts
Summary Of Key Reality Subcepts -
Further Reflections of My Deepest Subcepts


Epistemics vs Epistemology
Understanding and Cognitive Competence
Conceptual Study and Conceptual Nets
Realms of Interest
Master Nets and Ordinary Nets
Understanding Concepts
Subcepts vs Cocepts
Conceptual vs Paraceptual
Analytic vs Synthetic
Purposes of Conceptual Study
My Origin Quest
Unusual Features of MNU
Pure and Mixed Conceptual Study
Observational Knowledge



My Net For Doing
Behavior Roles
The Experience of Personal Causation
The Concept of Personal Causation
Behavior Perspectives
Value Concepts
Concept of an Ideal
The Subcept of Transcendent Action
Radical Origins
Enhancing Originship
My Origin Ideal
A Broad Paradigm Shift
Sustaining This Resolution


Cosmic Versions
The Problem
Type of Cosmic Myths
Monotheistic Myths
Natural Evolutionary Myths
The Impact of These Myths
My Personal Paradox


A Behavioral Attitude Toward Origin Acts
My Sentiment Of Rationality
My Vague Notion of Determinism
Intelligence and Determinism
The Appeal of Determinism
My Resistance To Indeterminism



My Most Fundamental Experiential Dichotomy On Monday I placed a dozen eggs in the refrigerator. Tuesday I used one egg to make pancakes. Later I open the refrigerator and see 11 eggs. The next afternoon there are only 5 eggs. I remember that Charmayne baked cookies and assume that she used 6 eggs. I do not consider alternatives such as the refrigerator decided to hide eggs from me, or that eggs disappear at random. I think of my ordinary surroundings as stable, as usually changing in an orderly manner, and I tend to think about these changes as having causes. At times what is happening may seem strange or even chaotic, but I usually feel this is due to my lack of understanding, rather than to factors which might introduce singularities in the causal flow.

My focal awareness is often directed outward, but even at such times I am also implicitly aware of me, and I sense that the attitude I am taking toward me is radically different from the attitude I often take towards my surroundings. I feel that I can influence my surroundings by my choices and that my choices originate partially in me. Most of the time this feeling is rather ordinary, and I do not articulate it explicitly, even in my thoughts. At other times it is more pronounced. I seem to be a source of power, a creative disturbance in a largely stable environment, a potential of unlimited options, a singularity where the causal function is only partial. I feel that I have real options and that because of me the locality around me can become what it might not have become, that I can deliberately act in some ways as a causal origin.

The contrast between my feelings about me and my feelings about my surroundings is a ubiquitous feature of my experience. When engaged in activity, or when absorbed in thinking about my surroundings, this contrast is muted. Even when I deliberate on specific choices this contrast usually stays in the background. It is when I reflect on the fact that I choose, or when I severely question my choices at a deeper level, that I recognize this as the most basic theme running thru my experience. When I think of me, I think of will, choice, doing, thinking, understanding, ideals, purposes, options. This is not the theme when I think of my surroundings. In order to live more effectively I want a deeper perspective on this dichotomy in my attitude. The purpose of my net for philosophy is to provide the most basic conceptual tools for thinking about this dichotomy.

The Significance of My Net For Philosophy While I can think about and do many thing without having conceptual tools for thinking about this dichotomy, I cannot gain a broader perspective on such matters without them. Thus I need a net for philosophy in order to organize my thinking about what I am doing and to make what I am doing part of a quest to live effectively.

Origin Claim Above I expressed a feeling that I sometimes transcend causality, but the only claims made were about my feelings and my attitudes. I now make a competence claim. I claim to know that to some extent I can act as a causal origin. Long ago I wanted to give a philosophical grounding for such a claim, and I found myself plunged into the traditional determinism versus free will debate. I now find this debate a largely irrelevant exercise, remote from the concepts which permeate my ordinary active experience. There is simply no deterministic paradigm that I can coherently use to think deeply about my actions. Knowing that I sometimes act as an origin is ordinary and manifest rather than philosophical. To engage in deliberate action I must at least implicitly act as if I am competent to know what I am doing in relations to some real options. My origin claim is merely part of the ordinary implicit understanding that any person implicitly has about being a person. The most that philosophical analysis can do is to help me use and understand this claim. The grounding of this claim is extremely personal. It is rooted in my decision to trust my competence to interpret the most fundamental theme of my experience.

My Origin Quest I began this workfile in 1974 as a tool in support of my quest to become a more effective origin, and to support others who chose a similar quest. Even then, when I was experiencing power and joy, I had doubts about whether I could sustain this quest if I was ever plagued with physical pain. In !989 I feel from my roof and crushed a vertebrae in my back. After several months there was no apparent physical problem with my back, but I begin to have an enormous amount of physical tension. Since then I have been plagued by a state of spiritual pathology, and thru most of 1989 and 1990 I renounced my origin quest. During 1991 it emerged again, but I did not have the strength to sustain it, and I spent most of 1992 in a state of extreme spiritual pathology. In 1993 this pathological state became less severe, and in 1994 I returned to my origin quest, but only by focusing on my quest of acting as a resource for others. In 1995 I tried to expand this quest, but found that a portion of a pathological state remains, and still severely restricted my ability to engage in the kind of deliberate action that might help me become a more effective origin. Until early 1997 this was aggravated by a hip pain that made walking difficult. While walking is no longer difficult this pain still persists. However I have at least maintained a limited version of my origin quest. The future of my origin quest remains uncertain, but perhaps this is inherent in such a quest.


MNP Deciding to know that I can transcend causality was not easy to implement. Philosophical debates about determinism had entangled me in nets that did not allow me to think coherently about being a deliberate causal origin. This was something I knew about me, but it did not mesh with the way I thought about what happens. I had to make a radical shift in my most basic subcepts and design my own conceptual net for philosophy. The main purpose of MNP is to help me think about how to act as an origin. Deciding to create MNP involved a substantial increase in confidence in my own personal competence. The problem was my reluctance to consider a personal grounding for knowing as adequate. I think this was primarily because I was nurtured in a philosophical climate that demanded a different grounding. I reject such demands, simply and without debate. I make no attempt to justify my origin claim. My personal grounding for this claim feels appropriate and adequate. MNP will not be relevant to those who cannot look within and make a similar decision.

Subcepts & Cocepts In a net some concepts may be so basic that they provide a substrate implicitly supporting each other and all the other concepts in the net. These are its subcepts. Concepts other than subcepts are called cocepts. For example in our ordinary net for motion the concept of time and position are subceptual. Further examples are given in Section 1. Velocity can be explained in terms of time and position, so the concept of velocity is coceptual.

Like hot and cold, the terms subceptual and coceptual have no sharp dividing line, and even the approximate position of a division between subcepts and cocepts is a matter of conceptual utility for the purpose at hand. Still in any well developed conceptual net there will be clear cases of concepts that should be classified as subcepts and ones that should be classified as cocepts.

A person acquires an understanding of subcepts by practice and experience in the using them. This is also the case with cocepts, however for a cocept this process can augmented by the intellectual process of explaining the cocept in terms of more basic concepts. To explain a subcept in terms of more basics concepts I can sometimes go to a more basic net, however my only net that is more basic than MNP is my net for ordinary matters, and the basic subcepts of MNP are also subcepts in this net. For these subcepts, my only way to share them is by using them, by indicating relationships between them and the concepts they support, and by indicating criteria for their use. Thus for much of this workfile I use the subcepts of MNP, indicate relationships between them, relate them to some of the cocepts of MNP, contrast them with subcepts in traditional nets for philosophy. However I cannot explain them in terms of more basic concepts.

Understanding a Conceptual Net Understanding is often conceptualize as if it was primarily a matter intellect, and while I often focus on the intellectual component of understanding, this is usually because it is the one I was trained to discuss. However in saying the purpose I envision for conceptual philosophy is to enhance our understanding, the subcept of understanding that I use is extremely broad. Understanding can come in a variety of levels. In teaching we recognize that abilities, knowledge, values, attitudes, interests all affect learning. I conceptualize understanding in such a way that such powers and dispositions can be part of what it means to understand, and a deep level of understanding involves most of these dispositions and powers, with the non-intellectual components often the key to the deepest type of understanding. Bo knows how to derive the quadratic formula by completing the square, and give a correct derivation on an exam, even citing at the correct place that a¹ 0, but thinks of the derivation of the quadratic formula as just one more thing to remember. Jo is excited about the formula, realizing that completing the square solves all quadratic equations. However in deriving the formula on an exam she forgets to specify her knowledge of where the derivation uses a¹ 0. Clearly Jo has a deeper understanding than Bo.

Personal & Public Nets The net my wife uses for football has some features in common with my football net, but it is clearly a different net. Any person who has played football will have a personal football net, however it is convenient to imagine some public net that they people are using. I conceptualize our public football net as a state for the group of football fans and my own personal football net as copy of this which is adequate enough for my purposes. A net is not an object which can be directly transferred from one person to another. I had to build my nets for mathematics while trying to understand those being used by other persons. In doing this it is useful to think of some public net for mathematics. PNCM can be thought of as a public net for mathematicians and mature students of mathematics. The status of such a public net is discussed in MNU2. For now I merely consider a public net as a state whose components include a multitude of personal nets that are interrelated in a variety of ways. A mature public net for a particular group G is conceptualized as one in which the main shared components are similar for members of G, and in which as members add more components, these tend to be similar to comparable components already acquired by other members of the group. Since the concept of an personal net is more manifest and less vague to me than that of a public net, unless otherwise indicated, the word net refers to some personal net of some person P.


The Concept of Conceptual Philosophy Conceptual philosophy is the conceptual study of the nets for our deepest subcepts with a focus on the concepts these subcepts most directly support. This involves presenting-clarifying-refining concepts and relations between concepts. In conceptual study, only conceptual claims are made within the net being studied. Other types of study make paraceptual claims, i.e. claims that apply the net to some state of affairs other than the net. In conceptual study we also make paraceptual statements about matters that help us to better understand the net, but these are not claims within the net. For example the claim that any subcept in my ordinary net cannot be explained in terms of other concepts is a purely conceptual claim arising from the way I have conceptualized MNP. On the other hand my origin claim is not a claim within MNP. It is a paraceptual claim that helps explain my attitude towards originship, and hence to deepen my understanding of this concept. I am convinced it is a correct informal observation claim, but if not, this would affect the utility of MNP rather than its conceptual soundness. Since a conceptual philosophy cannot make paraceptual claims, the only way it makes incorrect claims is due to conceptual errors. I would like to see a coherent public net for contemporary philosophy emerge whose goal would be to shape purely conceptual nets for the deepest subcepts that persons have found important, and most of all to find ways to enhance our understanding of these nets.

The Significance of Conceptual Philosophy Mathematicians use a public net for contemporary mathematics that I call PNCM. PNCM enables mathematicians to communicate with others having similar interests. It give us a legitimate confidence that their work is conceptually sound, allowing mathematics to evolve progressively from the work of persons with a variety of interests. PNCM enables mathematicians who are not familiar with a particular area of mathematics to quickly become familiar with its basic ideas and to see if that area might be of interest. Furthermore PNCM provide a net that has found wide application in science and technology, as well as in many ordinary matters.

By PNCP I mean a clear unified public net for contemporary philosophy, a net allowing us to agree on conceptual claims about reality-understanding-doing and providing common access to the facts affecting our paraceptual applications of this net. I think that such a net could allow us the kind of progressive evolution of our knowledge about our all our concerns that PNCM has enabled us to obtain in areas that are susceptible to mathematical modeling. The only net of this type that I have seen is PNDP, but this net is still in an early stage of development and is not widely adopted. Furthermore persons using this net do not classify it as a net for contemporary philosophy.

Unlike PNCM, PNCP is not a clear unified net. Instead we have a number of competing subnets for philosophy, all of which I find extremely vague. In none of these am I able to distinguish between conceptual and paraceptual claims. Why do we not have a clear unified public net for philosophy? Perhaps the interests various person have in philosophy is too divergent. Perhaps too many philosophers are more interested in convincing than in clarifying. Perhaps the notion of pure conceptual study has too narrow an appeal. Even physics, which draws heavily on mathematics, has done little to develop a net that does not mix conceptual and paraceptual considerations.

MNP and PNCP When I work in mathematics I can draw heavily on PNCM, placing the nets I shape in this broader public net. While I seldom totally adopt a subnet of PNCM, all my mathematical nets involve fairly slight modifications of them. For example, I have used my net for Galois Theory with one student, and since he found it easier to understand than the standard net, I suspect that this could be a useful net for teaching Galois Theory. However there is a major difference in the nets I develop for various part of mathematics and MNP. I share a common interest with other mathematician, but I do not seem to have much interest in many of the concepts that seem important to most philosophers. The problem I have with most philosophy is that conceptual and paraceptual considerations are so often intertwined that I can seldom tell which types of claims are being made. Furthermore I find the questions that philosopher treat as paraceptual extremely vague. I do not see why we cannot develop a common conceptual philosophy that is broad enough to be used by anyone interested in any philosophical considerations.

Even if an interest in developing PNCP were to arise, I do not know if MNP has a potential utility as part of a PNCP. MNP is still so primitive and only a few other persons have shown any interest in my initial attempt to formulate it. I do not know if I will ever find anyone to work with in developing a net like MNP. Perhaps I am primarily an explorer, and the maps I am making are mostly for my own purposes. Thus my work on MNP may have little utility beyond what it has for me. However I do hope that it can at least suggest what some components of a public net for conceptual philosophy might contain.

The Current Status Of MNP MNP is in a primitive state of development and my understanding of it is limited. I know that there are key subcepts that I still find unsatisfactory, and I may not always use the concepts in a consistent manner. MNP may even have some conceptual errors, however I have invested a large amount of effort on its most basic parts, so I suspect any conceptual errors are confined to the parts that I have not frequently examined. The claim of conceptual soundness I make for MNP is similar to one I would make for my net for Galois Theory, although this net can be more easily checked because the concepts are more precise. Furthermore my Galois Theory net is fairly close to the PNCM net and has been examined by several other persons. Still it is clearly possible that there could be an error in one of my proofs, although I have reviewed them often enough to be sure that this is unlikely. Thus I make two main claims about MNP, namely the conceptual claim that MNP is fundamentally sound and the paraceptual claim that MNP serves my purposes better than any other net for philosophy that I have been able to understand.

A Claim To Competence It has often been said that anything we do is based on presuppositions. The only fundamental presupposition for MNP or any conceptual net for philosophy is a minimal claim of personal competence. This involves both a claim for the utility of various ordinary nets and the competence of persons in using them. I also make similar claims about more remote nets, such as PNCM and PNDP, which will be discussed later. Such claims are minimal, allowing for considerable incompetence. They are also fairly extensive. I take it for granted that any person P has some competence in living, and hence in wanting, choosing, knowing, understanding, doing, achieving, feeling, etc. I take it for granted that P often has broader competence as critic and observer of P as actor than other people have, although there are exceptions. However unless there are reasons to believe otherwise, I assume that P is competent in judging P92s competence, interpreting P92s experience, determining P92s purposes and interests, determining what P finds plausible, etc. My main epistemic decision is to take understanding and competence as a more fundamental concepts than knowledge. Since I am shaping a net, this is a conceptual choice rather than a claim, although I would not have made such a choice had I not been willing to make paraceptual claims about the utility of understanding and competence.

When I showed the 1974 edition of this workfile to a number of people, it at seemed have some impact on a few of them, but I could not communicate its most radical features. They always interpreted my language in terms of nets that I was no longer willing to use for thinking about such matters. I couldn92t find anyone to work with me on this communication problem, so I decided that MNP was primarily suited to concerns that were alien to the concerns of most other persons. I used MNP for thinking, and normal ones when trying to communicate. This proved to be awkward, and when I stopped writing, MNP begin to erode. In 1991 I found that I was no longer on a plateau, but involved with a dynamic and growing net. All my conceptual philosophy workfiles are personal tools, and written in order for me to better understand both my attitudes and my nets. While I am pleased with what I have been able to achieve in this regard, I am still not pleased with these files as a tools for communication. Thus while I doubt that there are many others who might find these workfiles useful, I am again willing to share them with anyone who might find them of some interest.

Overview Although I have already introduced a few key concepts for MNP, Section 0 is primarily a prelude to my net for philosophy. So far I have noted that the main reason I have chosen to create MNP is help me think about the dichotomy between my attitude towards persons as potential origins and my attitude towards everything else. Appendix 1 discusses this reason in term of cosmic myths. Sections 1 thru 3 develop concepts and conceptual relations for MNP, but since my acquisition of understanding a net is not primarily an intellectual process, I also further indicate some of the reasons I find these concepts useful, and in fact this workfile focuses more on my attitudes toward MNP and merely indicates a small portion of its intellectual content. As indicated on the cover page, MNP has 3 main subnets. MNR is the least developed of these subnets, so almost all of my current version of it is presented in Section 1.

Other Workfiles Sections 2 presents only the most basic concepts in my net for understanding. Section 3 does the same for my net for doing. MNU and MND are further developed in several other workfiles, and this present workfile is primarily a prelude to these more extensive workfiles. MNP constitutes a fairly radical break with what I had earlier learned to regard as important in philosophy. Perhaps I should merely remark on this fact, and ignore my previous concerns, however I still feel a need to clear away some of the debris remaining from them. So parts of Sections 1 thru 3 also involve a purging some of attitudes that interfere with the creation of MNP. Appendix 2 is devoted entirely to this purpose, and perhaps should be examined before reading these other sections.


Concluding Remarks I conclude this present section with some remarks which summarize some of the attitudes scattered thru various sections of this paper.

Remark 1 I endorse the fact that I have and use a multitude of remote concepts which are not analytic. Some of these permeate almost everything I do or think. Even when I am not aware of them, these subcepts provide submerged support for doing and thinking. My most ubiquitous subcept is my concept of me.

Remark 2 My ontic and epistemic attitudes have influence my design of MNP. In particular I have adopted the attitude that I need subcepts of existence and understanding which are broad enough to allow for most of the ordinary things I do. This does not commit me to any philosophical theories or presuppositions. It does commit me to a decision, namely to act as the authority for judging what I know and understand. I have confidence that I can act with some degree of competence and that I have some knowledge of what I am doing. MNP is organizational rather than propositional. It makes no paraceptual claims, although I make many conceptual claims within it. MNP is neither correct or incorrect. I judge it by asking how well I can make it work.

Remark 3 I am most comfortable with a net which starts with the local and personal features of my experience, and is extremely tentative in adopting more global perspectives. I find cosmic perspectives extremely uncomfortable, except for heuristic purposes. I try to avoid serious commitments about the natures of reality or the nature of knowledge or to general principles of any type. This is hard to do because I was conditioned to take such matters seriously, but then my tendency to lapse into cosmic vagueness on occasions is not that bothersome anymore.

Remark 4 My concepts of subjective and objective are supplementary rather than contrary. This is the case with a number of other concept pairs that I once learned to regard as contrary, such as mind and body, individual and social.

Remark 5 I used to want to avoid error at all cost, at least in relation to anything really important. Reading William James made me aware of this tendency, and I learned to view it with amusement. Many of my ordinary beliefs, are fairly useful, at least as long as I obtain sufficient feedback to modify them. I prefer to have as few beliefs as possible that are immune to feedback, whether they are right or wrong, although this is not something I feel is currently a serious concern. I have cultivated a tendency emphasize the vagueness of such beliefs and to regard this with amusement.

Remark 6 Knowing how is more important to me than knowing that, since both understanding and competence involves much more than mere information. Knowing with, and thus being intimate, is more important to me than either knowing that or knowing how, although all 3 forms of knowing are related.

Remark 7 Much of what seems to play a significant role in the lives of others plays a minor role in mine. I have undermined my previous capacity for guilt and shame to the extent that I have difficulty understanding such feelings. I have lost all capacity to feel moral indignation, except at a very superficial level which dissipates rapidly.

Remark 8 I have an unusually high tolerance for personal failure, but I expect that in order to become a more effective origin I must cultivate an even higher tolerance. In fact I need a well balanced attitude toward personal failure which accepts as it happens, but which is also appropriately corrective.


Partitions of Reality I often think in terms of me and everything else. The problem with this bipartition of reality is my vague use of the word me. Privately, I think of a very immediate me, a subcept rooted in my most intimate personal awareness of me as being me. In public discourse I use an extended subcept of me, one related to an awareness of my interaction with everything else. This extended subcept includes what other persons consider as me, along with the immediate me. The extended me includes a slowly evolving complex of characteristics. My immediate me seems simple in comparison to this extended me. The vagueness in my use of the word me gives rise to a vagueness in my concept of everything else.

Although I still tend to bipartition reality in this vague way, this does not provide the fundamental subcepts I need for thinking about what I am doing. Instead I prefer a tripartition, using the subcepts of my will, my persona, my beyond. My will is what I experience as the immediate me. My persona is that part of the extended me which does not include the immediate me. He is the rest of me. In contrast to these, I have a subcept of a more remote other, which includes everything beyond the extended me, and which I call my beyond. My persona is an intermediate reality between my will and my beyond. As noted on the cover, submerged concepts that implicitly support other concepts in a net are called subcepts. My tripartition of reality provides these three most fundamental and ubiquitous subcepts in MNR, which also have this status in my net for ordinary matters, and which thus permeate all my nets.

This tripartition is a way to organize the core of MNR. Thus using it is a conceptual decision rather than a claim about the nature of reality. This tripartition is by function rather than by substance. It provides two convenient bipartions. I can think in terms of me as contrasted to my other, where 91me92 refers to the immediate me and 91my other92 refers to the rest of me and my beyond. When I think about how to become a more effective origin, this is the bipartition I find most useful. From this perspective I use the term 91me92 to refer to the immediate me. Sometimes it is useful to contrast the beyond me to the extended me. I tend to use this bipartition when acting as an origin with my attention directed toward the beyond. From this perspective I often use 91me92 in a vague manner, ranging between the immediate and extended me.

My Will For as long as I can remember, my concept of the immediate me has been my deepest and least remote subcept. It is a stubbornly persistent subcept, remaining intact thru a multitude of changes in my nets. It has been a prerequisite for any net I can use, one of the few subcepts I cannot imagine doing without, since it provides the essential reference point I need for a sense of orientation. All my nets are ultimately supported by this subcept. I cannot even pretend to imagine the existence for my nets without me. I can pretend to take an objective orientation, but when I examine my thinking I find me as a reference. When I try to imagine the world without me, say before I was born, or perhaps at sometime in the future if I cease to exist, I am still aware of me trying to imagine this world. I once was impressed with Descartes92 proof of the existence of this immediate me. It now seems like a recognition of the central nature of my immediate me subcept rather than a proof that I exist. Knowing that I exist is nothing more than an ordinary observation, an observation even more manifest than the observation that I sometimes act as a causal origin. I feel no need to prove my existence, nor can I imagine what such a proof might entail.

What are the main features of my immediate me subcept, and what role does it play in my thinking? It provides an orientation, a point of special identity in the real world, a source of action and understanding. I think of me as a single point of will maintaining identity thru time while changing what I am. I think of me as deliberately acting to shape various state of affairs that I encounter. Using the term 91me92 to refer to both the immediate and extended me can be ambiguous, so I often use the term 91my will92 to refer to the immediate me. I chose this term because I think of the immediate me as a will, in the sense that this describes the most significant thing I do, namely when I willingly act. Will is functional subcept, so saying that I am a will is an observation about what I do, rather than an ontological claim. It is like saying that I am a logician, except that being a logician is a much less significant part of what I do.

My understanding of my will is limited by an inability to experience me in greater depth and to understand much of my past and present experience of me. My emotional and intellectual powers seem better suited to understanding the rest of me and my beyond than to understanding how my will can act as a causal origin or even in knowing to what extent I am a causal link or origin in most of the events in which I participate. Perhaps this is because the kinds of characteristics that allow for human cognitive competence evolved as a tool for coping with the other. It seems there are two main ways I use to understand my will. One is a contemplative and non-structured listening to my goals and ideals. An essential aspect of my immediate me subcept is that I try to shape various states of affairs. Those I would most choose to shape is my will, but the main way I create my will is by interacting thru the rest of me with my beyond. Another way I understand me is to examine my actions from the perspective of my purposes.


My Persona While the term 91the rest of me92 has the connotation I want for this subcept, it is awkward, so I use the term 91my persona92 for this subcept. My persona is the totality of my psycho-physio characteristics, the collection of tools my will can most directly draw on as I act. He is my only known channel for reaching into my beyond and also the main channel thru which it impinges on my will. I used to think of my persona as part of me, bipartitioning reality into an what I now think of as an extended me consisting of the immediate me and my persona as contrasted with my beyond. In ordinary conversation I still refer to my persona as me, primarily because others tend to identify me with my persona. This is no longer my preferred way of thinking. In private, I am more likely to refer to my persona as he, and it is this mode of reference that I adopt in MNP. I want to emphasize the fact that I consider my persona to be more like my beyond than like me. I experience him as subject to the causal flow. His behavior seems to be mostly determined by what he is and the conditions he encounters out there, but also to some extent by the choices I make.

My Beyond This subcept is open and fluid pointing out of me to the known and further out toward the unknown. It has no specific reference, for it points toward much that is beyond my ken. It has been synthesized from all the situations I encounter and imagine. My immediate me subcept reminds me of my experience of personal power. All of the beyond is beyond the direct control of my will. This subcept is a reminder of my limited will, a call for humility. It reminds me to be skeptical about universal claims I might be tempted to make. I am a will to act and feel and understand. The beyond is a challenge, a playing field for my actions and a testing ground for my understanding.

The Subcept of a Will My general subcept of a will is an experiential extension of the subcept of my will. The distinguishing feature of a will is the capacity to act deliberately and creatively as a causal origin. While I can imagine random causal origins, the concept of will does not include them. My experience of me differs radically from my experience of other persons. I experience my will directly. I experience other persons primarily by observing what they do, with only occasional glimpses of their will. Thus the subcept of will is primarily an abstraction from the subcept of me. Usually I merely imagine the will of another person by trying to understand what they do. To forge a more powerful subcept of will I need to learn how to make deeper contact with other persons.

The Subcept of a Beyond My general subcept of a beyond for any will is also a extension of the concept of my beyond. While this subcept is not as directly experiential as the subcept of my beyond. The persons I have known closely all seem to feel that beyond them is that which they cannot directly control.

The Persona Subcept I experience my persona from the perspective of my will. However my general subcept of persona has been abstracted at least as much from my experience of other persons I have encountered as from my experience of my own persona. The persons I have know all appear to have a will and a persona. Will guides. Persona is a tool. A persona is that part of a person that can be observed in an ordinary manner by others.

Non-Cartisian Dualism My will and persona subcepts may seem like the traditional cartesian dualism, however the dualism of will-persona is in terms of function rather than substance. These subcepts were synthesized from experience, and involve no notions of either mind or matter. The main reason I do not use mind and matter as reality categories is that they are part of a net involving reality concepts that I find too vague to be useful. Furthermore the concepts of will and persona are independent. I can imagine a functioning will which has no persona, such as the traditional Christian God. I can also imagine a functioning persona which has no will, such as Julian Jaynes bicameral man. The cartesian dualism has been characterized as a ghost in a machine. I can think of better analogies for my dualism. Although all such analogies are of limited utility, they at least suggest differentiation and interaction.

A jockey on a race horse A president with the resources of the executive branch

Intertwined Subcepts Reality seems stable but not static. Features I encounter change. What I do now is influenced by past experience of change and by the potential for future changes. I think of me as a will because I do things to initiate and influence changes. I feel that I can cause things to change, and in the process I change my persona, and I even change my will. Intertwined with my three most basic subcepts are the subcepts of now, change, doing, causing, understanding. MNR also includes a number of other concepts that are intertwined with these main reality subcepts. The rest of this section describes a few main features of these concepts, but they are too broad to be adequately described. I understand them by living with them. The main way I communicate about them is to illustrate how I use them in relation to other concepts, and hope that other persons can imagine living with these or similar concepts. MNR uses variations of many concepts from Descriptive Psychology. The parts of PNDP that are most relevant include its behavior description concepts, its person and personal roles concepts, its reality concepts. My sketch of these is purely conceptual. This may not seem evident unless it is understood that these concepts are not being presented via analytic definitions, but in terms of their interrelationships. This aspect of their presentation is rather abbreviated and can be more fully appreciated only by learning more about PNDP than can be presented here. An extensive introduction to the PNDP version of these concepts can be found in Mary Shideler92s book "Persons, Behavior And The World".


The Person Subcept PNDP and MNR both conceptualize a person as an individual whose history is, paradigmatically, a history of deliberate action (page 92 Shideler). This should not be taken as a definition, but as a conceptual criteria for relating the person subcept to subceptual parameters that make up the subcept of action. This person subcept is synthesized mainly from my understanding of the extended me and a few intimate friends, although it has also been influenced by almost all of my experience involving others. My extended me is my most immediate example of a person.

All the adult human beings that I have known well seem to be persons. I also recall being a person when I was about 3 years old, and I have known humans at even younger ages who seem to be persons. For convenience I allow the concept of a person to include all human beings who seem to even have a potential for deliberate action. I have never encountered a person who was not human, yet the person concept is logically distinct from the concept of a human. The concept of a human is both biological and functional, while the concept of a person is purely functional. Many of the creatures from mythology have a history of deliberate action, so they would be classified as persons. The traditional Christian God would be classified as a person. It has been claimed that dolphins are persons, but whether or not this is true, there is no reason to exclude the possibility that some other life forms somewhere in the universe may have a history of deliberate action.

Intentional Action A behavior description is one using some or all of the parameters below. A behavior description that involves all of these parameters is called an intentional action description.

The U Parameter U can be divided into 4 sub-parameters: general understanding, knowing with, knowing how, knowing that. My parameters differs in minor ways from PNDP. Instead of a U parameter, PNDP uses the last knowing how and knowing that as separate parameters on a par with the other main ones. Furthermore PNDP does not use general understanding and knowing with as parameters. My decision subsume these 4as sub-parameters is merely a matter of taste, due to my way of using MNU as one of the main subnets of MNP.

The C Parameter PNDP organizes this parameter into 3 categories, each of which includes several types of characteristics. I use these concepts as discussed in Chapter 5 of Shideler.

  1. Dispositions: Traits, Attitudes, Interests, Styles
  2. Powers: Abilities, Knowledge, Values
  3. Derivatives: Embodiment, Capacities, States

Deliberate Action Deliberate Action is intentional action in which the actor knows two or more actions A1,...,An. Furthermore the individual has varying degrees of wants in relation to these actions. This concept also includes having the competence to engage in the various options and to distinguish between them. I introduce the concept of deliberate action as part of MNR because of its relation to the person concept. However the concept of deliberate action is also one of the most basic subcepts in MND.

Example 1 It is Jo92s turn in a game of Gin Rummy. Jo wants the face up card, but also wants to see if the card on top of the deck might be more useful. Jo knows that both are allowed in the game, and Jo is competent to act on the distinction between such actions. Which action Jo takes, for whatever reasons, will be an instance of deliberate action. This partially illustrates the W, U parameters. To even have the wants and understanding described, Jo must also understand an adequate conceptual net for Gin Rummy. The U parameter could be described in more detail, but for most purposes we merely presuppose these. The other behavior parameters can also be illustrated by this example. Suppose Jo draws a useless card from the deck. The I parameter is Jo. P is drawing a card from the deck. A is the negative achievement, of failing to enhance the hand to the extent the face up card would have done. One relevant instance of C is Jo92s trait of taking a chance on big gain rather than accepting a sure small gain. To see this as part of the behavior description, consider a person with the same value for all the other parameters, but taking the opposite attitude towards gains. Such a person might take the card that is face up. One aspect S parameter is that Jo is trying to significantly improve her hand.


Example 2 Consider an episode of Charmayne studying the intentional action concept. The P parameter includes our reading Shideler, followed by a discussion of these concepts. The I parameter is Charmayne. Part of W is to understand of this concept. U involves a variety of things which help make this an effective episode. She knows how to read, how to ask questions relating abstract concepts relate to specific examples. She knows distinctions suggested by the parameters, but she also knows that these ordinary concepts are not as precise as those being used in PNDP. A involves obtaining an initial understanding of the intentional action concept, as illustrated by her ability to use it to discussing a variety of situations. There is a large cluster of dispositions and powers that could be mentioned for C. One, is that she has a deep practical interest in understanding more about why people often persist in behavior they know is not in their own best interest. Observing this characteristic it is easy to understand that this study episode differs from a similar one involving me, since my interest is more conceptual. Charmayne knows that I am highly interested in PNDP, so part of her S parameter is having an interesting experience which we can share.

Ontology vs Ontics The fundamental question of traditional ontology is "What is there?" The discussion of this question often use concepts such as mind, matter, substance. I find these concepts and this question vague. However this question does suggest a query that helps me organize MNR, namely "What categories do I find are useful in thinking about reality?" I call the study of this question ontics. Unlike ontology, ontics is not concerned with beliefs about the nature of reality. Ontics is the purely conceptual study of reality concepts. Its emphasis is on function rather than on substance. Thus the use of a reality category is an ontic decision, not involving any ontological claims. Reality does not present itself to me divided into fixed categories, any more than space presents itself with a fixed coordinate system. Like a coordinate systems, reality categories are a matter of convenience. Reality may be such that some are more convenient than others, but this is something to discover by use, rather than by reasoning about the nature of reality.

Reality categories do not involve existential commitments, although their use often follows some existential claim or conjecture. Such categories provide convenient ways to organize our thinking about entities whose existence we accept for other reasons. They also provide categories for entities about whose existence we are skeptical, but at least willing to consider, or which we find useful to imagine for some purpose. The mathematical class of all sets considered as a platonistic realm, is an example a category that I find extremely illusive, and I doubt that it has ever been adequately imagined. Even though it may be merely a convenient fiction, it is a useful category for most mathematicians. I try to imagine this category primarily because it helps me understand an attitude that permeates contemporary mathematics.

I have no desire for a philosophy that reveals the ultimate nature of reality, whatever that might mean. I find all the concepts of ultimate reality that have been suggested to me extremely vague. I lack the sense that there is some more ultimate reality hidden deep beneath appearance. The subcept of reality has been synthesized from experience, so I think of reality as rather ordinary. I have confidence in my competence to understand this ordinary type of reality, at least well enough to feel oriented in many situations. My problem is to understand reality better in order to be more effective. Obtaining a more realistic understanding often seems difficult, but I feel that my this is due to its vastness and complexity, rather than to a basic inaccessibility. Perhaps I am supposed to feel that reality is inaccessible since I have not direct contact with the beyond, and thus all my information is based on mere signals. If so I fail to appreciate the supposed advantages of direct contact, whatever that may mean. I have rather direct contact with me, but I have as much trouble understanding me as I do in understanding many situations in my beyond.

Many philosophers seem to feel that we need to find a secure grounding for our competence in coping with reality. I lack this need. I adopt a naive attitude towards competence. I trust in a person92s ability to understand, except when it seems that something is going wrong. This allows me to use an evolving pluralistic net for reality, but this is not intended as a claim that reality is essentially a pluralism. I merely find all the forms of monism or dualism that I have encountered unsuitable for my purposes. I find that kind of thinking too restrictive. I prefer a net, perhaps having a surplus of categories, rather than one which austerely applies Occam92s razor. This naive attitude toward competence also influences my use of epistemics.

The Personal Persons help create other persons thru biological reproduction, but more significantly thru education and conditioning. Persons create chairs, hammers, computers. They create nations, governments, garbage, music, tables, languages, information, theories. They create concepts and nets. An ontic class is any class we use to organize our thinking about the real world. The ontic type called 91personal92 includes anything whose creation involves the deliberate action of persons. Any such thing may classified as more or less artificial, depending on the amount of personal involvement in its creation. For example my bicycle is more artificial than my garden, yet both are highly personal states of affairs. For the purpose of MNU, it is important to note that every net is a personally produced highly artificial state of affairs, whose components include imagined objects called concepts.


Main Reality Subcepts MNR uses the four main reality categories of PNDP. The concept of a state of affairs is inclusive in the sense that the others category or special cases of it, but this category also includes states of affairs that are not of any of those types. For compactness of expression, I have shortened the PNDP term 91state of affairs92 to 91state92.

Reality Categories: Objects, Events, Processes, States

In order to for these categories to be useful we need another main reality subcept, namely that of a relationship. Since it is often convenient to focus on unary relations I use the term attribute to refer to such relationships, reserving the term relationship for those with more than one argument. Thus in saying my shirt is red I classify this as asserting an attribute for my shirt rather than as saying my shirt bears the relation ship of belonging to the set of all red objects. This is merely a matter of taste on my part, and nothing significant is at stake.

Reality concepts are intended to enable us to talk about our experience in a way that we find coherent. To partially explain these main reality subcept, I quote from Shideler page 136-137. I sketch the transition rules and the special cases from pages 137-142 for these concepts, as well as those in Appendix 3. These rules specify relationships between concepts and involve no paraceptual claims. For a fuller account of these concept see "What Actually Happens" by Peter Ossorio.

We are observing objects when we see a desk, hear a doorbell, touch the keys of a typewriter, smell an orange, taste its flavor, and feel its texture as we peel it. We are observing processes when we see a person walking across the room, hear the playing of a song, and feel the movement of our fingers on the typewriter keys. We are observing events when we see the light go on, hear the pen hit the floor when it falls off the desk, begin to taste the orange. We are observing states when we note that the desk has four drawers, hear that the telephone is ringing, taste that the orange is sweet, feel that there is a draft across our ankles. And we are observing relationships when we note that we are sitting at the desk with pen in hand, and writing on the paper that lies on the desk (i.e., ourselves being related to desk and pen, and they to each other).

Rule 1. A state is a totality of related states.

Rule 2. A state is a state which is a constituent of some other state.

Rule 3. An object is a state having other related objects as immediate constituents.

Rule 4. A process is a sequential change from one state to another.

Rule 5. A process is a state having other, related processes as immediate constituents. (A process divides into related sequential or parallel smaller processes.)

Rule 6. An event is a direct change from one state to another.

Rule 7. An event is a state having the two states before and after as constituents.

Rule 8. That a given state has a given relationship (e.g., succession, incompatibility, inclusion, common constituents, etc.) to a second state is a state.

Rule 8a. That a given state has a given relationship to another state is a state.

Rule 9. That a given object, process, event, or state is of a given kind is a state.

Rule 10. That an object or process begins is an event and that it ends is a different event.

Rule 10a. That an object or process occurs (begins and ends) is a state having three states ("before, " "during," and "after") as constituents.

Special Case I: The state which includes all other states (i.e. the real world).

Special Case II: A type of object that has no constituents (an ultimate object or a basic building block).

Special Case III: A type of process that has no constituents, hence no beginning that is distinct from its end, hence no beginning that is distinct from its end, hence is the effective equivalent of an event).

Special Case IV: A type of process that is the same thing as a state, but has no process constituents (i.e., is the effective equivalent of an object during a period in which the object undergoes no change- cf. molecular processes at absolute zero temperature).

Special Case V: A type of state that has no state constituents (e.g., Black is different from white. "Black" and "white" are not states, so there can be no decomposition of either into objects, processes, events, or other states.

Remark While Special Case II and Rule 3 contradictory , I take this rule as implicitly applying to all objects except those indicated in this special case. Likewise Rule 1 applies to all states except those indicated by saying except in Special Case V, and Rule 2 applies to all states except Special Case I.

All the state indicated in the quote from page 136 of Shideler are somewhat physical states. However Ossorio also allows for states that we do not think of in primarily physical terms, as indicated in the quote below.

One of the principal ways of formulating the claim that Z92s are real is to say that they are a certain kind of object (e.g. a mental object, a mathematical object, an invisible physical object) or a certain kind of process (e.g. a mental process, a submicroscopic process, a learning process) etc.

From the perspective of MNR, using a terms like 91mental object92 and 91physical object92 does not involve any ontological commitment beyond a commitment to the existence of the real world. It merely indicated a way of focusing attention on what we are thinking about. Calling an object mental or physical or mathematical indicate the kind of role or function it has as we are currently using it. Almost all the objects we think of as physical are also thought about from a perspective which is not primarily physical.

Example The sentences below indicate two states involving my bicycle. While motion take place in the physical world, to recognize it as transportation, rather than mere motion, involves the idea of achieving a purpose. Likewise thinking of it as inexpensive is not something which I regard as a physical attribute. The state indicted by (2) is even less related to anything I think of in physical terms, although some aspect of my enjoyment involve the feel of the wind on my face.

My St Louis bicycle is an inexpensive mode of transportation.
My St Louis bicycle is an object that I enjoy.

Observable States On page 16 of "What Actually Happens" Ossorio says that what we observe is the real world. He also says that to observe something on a given occasion is to find out something about it without on that occasion having to find out something else first (observation contrasts with inference). In this sense the states illustrated in the quote from Shideler are observable.

Types of States In order to organize our thinking we can classify states into various type. Types can be more or less comprehensive. Objects and events and processes are extremely comprehensive types of states. The bicycle I ride in St Louis is my bicycle. So is the bicycle I ride In Jefferson County. The type of state 91my bicycle92 is a narrow type of object. It is, included in the broader type bicycle, which is included in the broader type objects with wheels, etc.

I find it useful to classify the types used to think about states as objects. Thus not only is the bicycle that I ride in St Louis an object, but the type bicycle is an object. It is not a physical object, however any object of this type is physical. The object type bicycle is not observable in the sense described by Ossorio, however any object of this type is observable. In general state types are imagined states rather than actualized ones, and for the most part imagined states are not observable.

Imagined and Actualized States A state is actualized to the extent of its direct involvement in what actually happened. The walk I did not take last Monday is an event which was not actualized. It is an imagined event in the sense that its place is in my imagination. My imagination while thinking about this event is a personal state which has been actualized. This personal state is directly connected to my choice to take a made to take a long walk last Tuesday. When talking about this imagined event to some other person P, I expect P can also imagine such an event, and thus have such an event will have a place in P92s imagination. It is convenient to assign a public status to this imagined event, so that I can say P and I (and anyone else we might communicate with) are thinking about the same event. The MNR concept of a personal imagined state is fairly manifest. The concept of a public imagined state while less manifest seems close enough to our ordinary experience to used in a fairly coherent fashion. While I feel like I understand the status of imagined states, I do have a problem with in compactly expressing this status. It seems misleading to say merely say that reality includes imagined states without indicating the way in which they are included. However in saying that the real world includes imagined states need not involve any special existential commitment, such as having some shadow existence in some kind possible world. It merely means we can think about such states. We may have some difficulties expressing the way we have conceptualized imagined states, but this does not seem to prevent a coherent use of such terms in ordinary discourse.

Fictional States The highly public imagined physical object called the Starship Enterprise belongs to a realm of interest for a number of persons, and the imagined status of states within this realm is not problematic in any significant sense. To omit such states from the real world would render a great deal to some fairly artificial status or perhaps even to nonsense.


Reality of Types While types are imagined states, they differ from fictional states in the way they relate to actualized states. For example the type bicycle is directly related to a multitude of actualized objects in a way that directly involves what happens to those objects. The Starships in Startrek are not so related. MNP classifies types as real and actualized to the extent that the real world is structured in a way that makes such types useful. To think of an object as a bicycle is useful for many purposes in dealing with them. Suppose I describe a type T by listing a miscellaneous collection of states. My imagination of T would be a real actualized state, but I would not expect T to be a real or actualized state.

Remote vs Manifest States A state is manifest to the extent it is related to ordinary experiences. In addition to imagined physical states or types of physical states, which are fairly manifest, there are a multitude of other types of imagined state that are much less manifest. One such type that I find highly interesting includes states that are at least more than one step removed from highly manifest ones. Any two specific apples is an actual manifest object, when thought of as a pair. Two apples is a type of object a little less manifest that a specific pair. The type two objects is some what less manifest. The ordinary public concept of 2 is even less manifest. The PNCM concept of 2 is related to a concept of the PCMN concept of the set of all natural numbers, a set far enough removed from manifest states to be classified as a remote state. The set of real numbers as conceptualized in PNCM is another one example of an object I would classified as a remote imagined object. It is so remote that it includes more objects that there are finite names of objects. The way in which this an other remote imagined states might be conceptualized as real is beyond the scope of this paper. This will be discussed in Chapter 1 of MNU.

Summary Of Key Reality Subcepts My reality subcepts include ontic categories and other subcepts used to think about these categories. The summary below give a major feature of each of my most basic reality subcepts, but my understanding of them involve much more. It involves understanding how they relate each other and how they relate to the higher level concepts that they help support. My understanding of the subcepts of MNP has both intellectual and non-intellectual components, but it is the latter are more significant. For me to understand any subcept is appreciate it both as a tool and as a vital part of some net. Earlier subcepts in the list below are those that seem more immediate. This list also includes some of the cocepts most closely related to these subcepts.

Further Reflections of My Deepest Subcepts The subcept of me in the now is immediate and experiential and clear enough for many of my purposes. However the subcept of me transcends the now in ways that I find extremely fuzzy. It applies to at least one instance of me when I was 3 years old. It does not clearly apply to anything before this time. I do not even know if applies to anything having a continuous existence in the recent past. I seem to wax and wane as an active origin, and I sometimes wonder if in some of those instances I have ceased to exist. Perhaps it is only my sentiment of rationality that demands the continuity of my existence. Thinking about my experience still leaves me uncertain about such matters. Anyone with a more analytic bent might advise me to discard the subcept of me because it is too fuzzy to be meaningful. I do not find this to be the case. My difficulties with this subcept are minor in comparison to its personal utility.


Epistemics vs Epistemology Traditional epistemology focuses on knowing, with the primary emphasis on knowledge as know-that rather than on know-how. This is too narrow for my purposes. Knowledge without know-how does little to enhance effective living, and both know-that and know-how are only a small part of my concept of understanding. Furthermore traditional epistemology tries to answer questions about the nature of knowledge that are not purely conceptual. I am no longer interested in traditional epistemology. Instead I am interested in shaping my net for understanding. Since this has some overlap with epistemology I use the term epistemics for the purely conceptual study of understanding. The main task of MNU is to help me think about various aspects of conceptual nets. Thus the epistemics I use interacts with all my nets. MNU is crucial to MNP since the core of MNU is both part MNP a tool for shaping MNP.

Understanding and Cognitive Competence Epistemics helps me think about an important feature running thru all my experience, the feature of cognitive competence and understanding. Cognitive competence involves the totality of emotional and intellectual resources I can use to represent and interact with the states I confront or imagine. Central to cognitive competence is my ability to learn, i.e. my skills in knowing, appreciating, comprehension, analyzing, synthesizing, judging. This can involve all the PNDP characteristic types. The subcept of understanding involves a functional mastery of any result from any of the processes associated with cognitive competence.

My epistemics is bottom up rather than top down. I usually think of the more general as a tentative extension of the more specific. I seldom think of the general as more fundamental than the specific. The concept of Washington University and other universities I have known does more to shape my general concept of a university than this general concept does to shape the concepts of specific universities. The concept of me shapes the concept of an origin more than the concept of an origin shapes the concept of me. I understand most states I encounter in terms of what I find most manifest, rather than in terms of remote concepts considered fundamental from some theoretic perspective. Opting for a bottom up epistemics is not a claim about the nature of understanding. I only claim that this approach to understanding is currently useful to me. MNU is only intended to provide a net to help me think about understanding. It should not be allowed to prescribe how I must understand, nor should it make any claims about the relationship between understanding and reality. My claim that I can understand how to make my understanding truer to reality is an observational claim, a component of my origin claim. This claim is not a result of epistemics, but a prerequisite for it. It has strongly influenced the epistemics which I am currently evolving.

Conceptual Study and Conceptual Nets Study can be conceptualized as a type of intentional action in which P wants to enhance P92s understanding of something and in which P92s performance is guided by that want. This concept differs from the common concept of study, since students are often said to be studying even when not guided by a desire to learn or understand. Conceptual study (CS) is guided by a want to understand some portion of a net, where a net is a set of concepts and conceptual relations that can be used to think and communicate about some realm of interest. Pure CS involves conceptual study of some realm which is a net. Since conceptual nets are crucial for so many aspect of personal competence, CS is one of the main concepts of MNU.

Realms of Interest The concept of a realm of interest is broad, including anything that any person might be interested in thinking about. Some realms may be considered of little significance by many persons, while others may considered to be extremely significant by many persons. Examples of realms include your parents, my bicycle, last nights card game, the perfect number problem, dogs, bicycles, gin rummy, eggs, trigonometry, kinematics, card games, rain, human transportation systems, the Roman empire, empires, war, shadows, mathematics, ghosts, mathematical platonism, heaven, history, etc.

Master Nets and Ordinary Nets For any person P we can consider P92s total collection of nets as a single master net for P. A person92s master net is not likely to form a single coherent net. It is more likely to be a loose conglomerate, with some parts closely interrelated and others at most tenuously related. Of central importance in P92s master net is P92s ordinary net, that is the net P uses to think about any ordinary realm of interest. For example, Gin Rummy is a realm of interest for me, so my ordinary net will include a subnet for Gin Rummy. Any net P uses must contain or draw on some parts of P92s ordinary net.

Understanding Concepts To understand a concept is to understand it in relation to other concepts within some net. Understanding tends to vary over time, so concepts and conceptual nets are dynamic rather than static. As remarked earlier, a person acquires an understanding of concepts by experience in the using them. This can happen in various ways. One deliberate way is thru conceptual study. To help a person P study the standard function concept from PNCM, I need to encourage P to correctly use this concept over an extended period of time in appropriate situations. To initially present the function concept I might merely state the abstract definition of a function, and perhaps give some examples. The most useful examples are those which illustrate the main features of the concept. We call any such an example a paradigm case of a function. Presentation of concepts, by definition and by paradigm case is discussed the MNU workfile.


Subcepts vs Cocepts As remarked earlier, in any net some of the concepts lie submerged, implicitly supporting other concepts in the net. These are its subcepts. To be a subcept is to be a subcept in relation to some net. Concepts in a net that are not subcepts are called cocepts for that net.

Example In the Axiomatic Peano net for the natural numbers the concept of a successor is taken a primitive and hence subceptual. The concept of addition may also be taken as primitive, by giving axioms that govern its relation to the successor concept, in which case it is also subceptual. However the concept of addition can be defined recursively from the successor concept, in which case it is coceptual, while the concept of recursion is subceptual. On the other hand both the successor and addition concepts are coceptual when defined within our standard net for set theory.

Remark The above example give a very limited version of the conceptual complexities involved in the {subcept,cocept} pair, since an axiomatic net for number theory can only be understood when embedded in a larger net containing intuitive concepts of successor and addition that they are intended to model. A discussion of these complexities involves a more detailed development of MNU and is reserved for my workfile on my net for mathematics.

Conceptual vs Paraceptual That first cousins share a pair of grandparents is information about the relationship between concepts used in our public net for ordinary family relationships. Such information is conceptual, since it is independent of any state in the realm of families. Information such as 91Bill and Jane are first cousins92 uses this net, but tells about a state beyond the net. Such information is paraceptual in relation to this net.

The {conceptual,paraceptual} subcept is one of the most basic subcept pairs in MNP and is of course central to MNU. The game of Gin Rummy provides a simple illustration of the conceptual and paraceptual distinction. To play Gin Rummy P must understand concepts like suit, rank, value, color of a suit, same rank. Conceptually, the jack of clubs is a club with the rank of Jack and with a value of 10, while a set is at least 3 cards of the same rank. Easy analysis reveals the conceptual fact that any set must contain at least one red card. This correct even if there were no decks of cards in the world and nobody played Gin Rummy. Conceptual analysis within a net for Gin Rummy cannot demonstrate that it is poor strategy to keep large cards too long. This is a paraceptual claim, rather than a conceptual one. It could be a conceptual claim in a more complex net involving mathematical probabilities, but even using such a net, the claim that this net is a good model for actual play against a particular opponent would be paraceptual. To use a conceptual claim always involve certain paraceptual beliefs, however in doing conceptual philosophy we can keep these as ordinary and manifest as possible.

Analytic vs Synthetic The {conceptual,paraceptual} concept was suggested by the Kantian {analytic,synthetic} concept, and even more by Quine92s paper "The Two Dogmas of Empiricism". However I find this Kantian concept unsuitable for my purposes, perhaps because even after reading Quine I am not sure whether being analytic or synthetic is an attribute of a statement or a relation between a statement and a net. Whether or not this is the case, I have decided that the Kantian terminology carries too much baggage, so I prefer to make a fresh that does not have any philosophical history. I need concepts that are relations rather than attributes. So I want to stress any claim is made using some net, and that to classify a claim as either conceptual or paraceptual one must know which net is being used. I sketch one further example of this, but the complexities involved are beyond the scope of this paper, and are developed in the workfile MNM.

Example Let N be a net consisting intuitive number theory and a standard first order theory T whose intended interpretation is this intuitive number theory, along with mathematical logic excluding set theory . The conjecture that T is consistent cannot be proved within N, and I would classify this conjecture as paraceptual in N. However since we can prove the consistency of T using ZF set theory, the claim that T is consistent is conceptual in relation to PNCM. If ZF is a consistent axiomatic formulation of our net for set theory and if this set theory is applicable to considerations about N then the conjecture that T is consistent is a correct paraceptual claim in N.

Purposes of Conceptual Study A person P sometimes engages in CS in order to shape a net that will be useful, either for ethical or prudential reasons. A better net for understanding could help make CS more effective, both in acting for the good of others or in acting in P92s self-interest. In addition to these prudential and ethical reasons for developing CS concepts , I can imagine both hedonic and artistic reasons. P may enjoy such work and appreciate the elegance emerging from it. Mathematicians and descriptive psychologists engage extensively in pure CS. This may be part of a significant epistemic paradigm shift which is spilling over to many other areas of study. Most other academic study mix conceptual and other concerns so intimately that little effort has been made to isolate a pure net. Because of this, the distinction between concept and theory has often been hard to sort out. This both limits the sophistication of available nets and makes it difficult to study alternative ones.


My Origin Quest My deepest reason for doing studying nets is a personal ideal, which I refer to my origin quest. This quest involves the creation of more supportive environments for persons who are enhancing their characteristics in ways that enhance their competence and allow them more options. A significant factor in enhancing this quest would be a general public awareness of the distinction between conceptual and paraceptual claims. Many arguments about ordinary matters are said to hinge on semantic differences. In most cases it would be more accurate to say that the participants are bogged down in ordinary nets using a multitude of vague concepts, which they lack the power to clarify. This is often complicated by strong emotional interests, so the participants behave as if winning was more important than negotiation. Where better to begin to become sensitive to the role of our concepts than thru some elementary CS.

Unusual Features of MNU The concepts of truth and knowledge are given a reduced role. There is a stronger role for utility and competence. Emphasis is conceptual rather than linguistic. The personal is taken as more basic than the impersonal, and ordinary know-how more basic than scientific knowledge. As a result the person concept is more fundamental than more general ontic or epistemic concepts. Claims are usually considered as more or less plausible, rather than true or false and plausibility is considered as a changeable personal or cultural relation to claims rather than as an attribute of claims. All of this is a matter of choice related to utility in regards to purposes, rather than a claim about the way things are.

Pure and Mixed Conceptual Study I can imagine at least three specialized types of systematic study which differ from CS, by focusing on something other than nets. They are theoretic studies, experimental studies, applied studies. While MNU provides a perspective on all of these, a consideration of these types of study is not part of its most basic subcepts, and so in this present file I make only a passing comment on them. In particular I note that, while these four types of activity may be done concurrently they are conceptually distinct, and may be done in a variety of mixtures, often with one as the primary type. We do mixed CS when this involves other types of study in a secondary way. Note that the classification of conceptual, theoretic, experimental, applied refers to a type of activity rather than a subject matter. Thus one could be doing any combination of these four activities in any realm of interest.

Observation Much of contemporary philosophy talks as if all observation could be reduced to sense data about the physical aspects of some state of affairs. However ordinary observational language is more functional than sensory. It is hard for me to imagine many situations when it would be useful to try to reduce such observations to sense data, and I suspect that given a pure sense data description for almost any ordinary observation, I would probably not be recognize what was being observed. This is why I conceptualize observation as basically a personal process, as something a person does as they think about their environment primarily from a functional perspective. Noting that her car is going faster than his is an observation. The concept of a car is functional rather than sensory, although sensory input clearly helps us recognize an object as being a car. To the extent that sense data is relevant to some personal interest they are part of the observation.

Example A statement like 91The chair is broken92 is functional, because the ordinary concepts of chair and broken are functional rather than sensory. This does not mean that something which functions as a chair can be realized by something which is not a physical object. It merely means that we classify something as a broken chair because we cannot sit on it rather than on the basis of it physical characteristics. Of course it is the observation of some aspects of these characteristics that led us to recognize that the chair was broken. Still the focus of this observation is functional.

Observational Knowledge Since I have decided for some time to focus my life on the expansion of my options, I need a subceptual net which can help me think about originship. The way I articulate my knowledge, even highly observational knowledge, is dependent on this net. Furthermore the net I use may expand or contract my observational power. However observational knowledge always transcends any net. Analysis which appears to be incompatible with knowing forces me to question the coherence of my nets. The only effect such analysis has on my observational knowledge is to change the way I talk or think about it, except on the rare occasions when it helps me achieve some insight which expands my knowledge. Knowing that I can act as an origin arises from repeated functional observations and no amount of analysis prevents me from thinking and acting as an origin. I can err in judging originship in particular situations, but then I also err in making other observations. My observational powers are fallible, for they are all rooted in my ability to interpret my experience. To live, I must trust that my ability to observe is adequate for many purposes. My experience of originship is deeply personal and repeatedly reinforced. The only way I can effectively doubt maybe an origin claim is by losing confidence in my cognitive competence. It is only self-doubt and apathy which prevents me from thinking and acting as an origin.

Analogies I know that things can move. This is observational knowledge whose core remains unchanged by Zeno92s Paradoxes or any other form of analysis. Such analysis may motivate me to alter or refine the concepts for thinking about space and time, or it may convince me that the language I use to discuss such matters is fuzzy, however it is not going to convince me not to avoid speeding automobiles. Only my occasional indifference to my fate might make me slow to avoid such a collision.


Thru formal education I acquired an attitude that places a greater emphasis on knowledge than on other aspects of understanding. I consider this a major weakness in MNU, but I still focus on knowledge, if for no other reason than to clear out some of the debris from my previous epistemological conditioning. Furthermore, knowledge seems like the simplest aspect of understanding to discuss, so I can partially excuse this emphasis by saying it is a prelude to understanding the more significant aspects of MNU. Knowing is a highly personal process which provides me with fairly reliable knowledge, but my personal knowledge has always been a mixture of true and false components. Thru thinking and experiencing I try to expand my knowledge, to make it truer, to purge it of the falsities I can recognize. I trust my knowledge because I have found that it is often true enough for many of my purposes. Such a living trust is more important to me than any theoretic certification. Thus for me the question 91How do you know92 usually calls for a descriptive rather than a normative answer.

The greatest barrier in constructing MNU is my desire for an external grounding for my understanding of reality. This desire is fading, but I still feel its demands. It seems to arise from deep needs which made him highly susceptible to that portion of his educational conditioning involving science and philosophy of science. When I reflect on how long it took to relax my demands for a grounding of my knowledge that was independent of me, I am amused. The only other grounding I once thought I was willing to trust was some rationalistic notion of pure reason, which I naively thought I could recognize without reliance on my own subjective judgement. I recall a dialogue from Shaw92s play "Saint Joan", in which Joan is being accused of pride and of not heeding the advice of those who are wiser than she. Her response expresses my attitude about the grounding of my knowledge.

With what other judgement can I judge, but with my own?

I have come to feel a deep distrust of my previous attitude that my knowledge could be safely grounded outside of me. It is partially grounded inter-subjectively, but I have no direct access to the knowledge of others. The knowledge I have is personal knowledge, and in spite of its apparent inter-subjective grounding, I must still judge to what extent this knowledge is similar to the knowledge of someone else. Both my interpretation and decision to integrate elements from public knowledge into my own cognitive resources is ultimately grounded in me. This is even true of my mathematical knowledge. I am willing to make fairly strong claims about the extent to which my personal mathematical knowledge is similar the knowledge of other mathematicians, but even this is a matter of my personal judgement.

I was conditioned to think of our public scientific knowledge as objective and independent of any personal grounding. Yet I know that such knowledge has evolved thru personal effort and is ultimately rooted in personal judgement. Its objectivity is probably due to the type of personal grounding rather than the lack of it, namely because it is repeatedly tested thru feedback in a variety of relevant situations. The interpretation of such feedback still relies on personal judgments. Furthermore my own scientific knowledge is only a feeble shadow of public scientific knowledge, and it is only this personal scientific knowledge that I can effectively use. I can hardly regard the objectivity of such knowledge as independent of me.

Much of my knowledge has been acquired deliberately in the pursuit of my own purposes. Almost none has been acquired by with scientific detachment. It has been influenced by my attitudes and feelings. I no longer feel that this is makes it unreliable. My concern is how to judge it as trustworthy, not how it was acquired nor what motivates it. I feel I must trust my most basic purposes, not naively, but only after careful testing by a process which I cannot fully describe and obviously can never ground with any finality.

The subcepts I point towards with the terms 91thinking92 and 91experiencing92 are fairly broad. I use both terms in an ordinary pluralistic sense. While I might attempt to analytically conceptualize certain kinds of thinking or experiencing, I have yet to find analytic concepts which come close to the richness of these subcepts. In particular I am unwilling to conceptualize thinking as some version of a scientific method, and I am unwilling to conceptualize experience as some concoction of sense data. The terms thinking and experience point towards features of my existence which I find immediate and pervasive. The terms 91scientific methods92 and 91sense data92 represent more remote abstraction which I have been unable to make as precise as others seem to find them.


My Net For Doing Socrates said "The unexamined life is not worth living". This places the emphasis somewhat on understanding. To place the emphasis clearly on doing, we might say "The unlived life is not worth examining".
MND is one of my most fundamental nets, because I use it in a feedback relationship with everything I do. It is the main net which provides the perspective that helps me understand and integrate my actions. The use and study and creation of this net is one component in the major quest that was once at the center of my life, namely my quest to become a more effective origin, and to support others who chose a similar quest.

The central subcept in MND is doing. The kind of doing on which I usually focus is behavior. The MND version of behavior was introduced in earlier, since it is part of all my subnets. The MND concept of behavior is broad, including everything P does with intent. Behavior is intentional action, even when P is not aware of these intentions. It does not include things done automatically like ordinary breathing, nor does it include things done accidentally like falling out of a tree. To further develop the concept of behavior I note that it is intertwined with concepts similar to those which PNDP calls behavior perspectives and behavior roles. However my purpose for these behavior concepts relates directly to my origin quest, so my organization and use of these differ somewhat from PNDP. I only briefly summarize the concepts like those from PNDP, since they are well developed in parts I and II of Shideler. I also introduce the basic subcepts of MND which will are developed in the MND workfile.

Behavior Roles We conceptualize 3 major roles an individual may take on in relation to behavior and various states: Actor, Describer, Appraiser. The job of the Actor is to do what he has reasons for doing, and in this he is spontaneous and creative, responding to and acting on whatever he finds relevant in his world. The job of the Describer is to note what is happening and the relevant states. The job of the Appraiser is decide how things are going and when appropriate to prescribe ways to make it go better.

The Experience of Personal Causation In "Personal Causation", Richard DeCharms suggests that we learn to think of causation thru personal experience rather thru than observation of events in which we are not directly involved. At a young age things are done to us and we feel their effects. We experience doing and are encouraged to do things. By doing things we learned to manipulate our surroundings. We learn about resistance, and we learn that we can overcome resistance in order to make things happen. We learn about the phenomena of personal causation. From this we learn to think of the world from causal perspective. I find this account highly plausible, but regardless of how I learned to think about causation, I know that the phenomena of personal causation has permeated my experience for as long as I can recall. First and foremost, I experience me as a source of personal causation.

The Concept of Personal Causation The essence of the concept of personal causation is simple. Persons try to influence the situations they encounter. They often do this order to obtain or prevent results of various kinds, and to the extent they are effective, what happens is partially a result of personal causation. Personal causation is the phenomena of persons effecting situations they encounter thru intentional action, even when the action is not deliberate.

Behavior Perspectives To further understand the personal causation concept, MND uses concepts like the PNDP behavior perspective concepts: hedonic, prudential, ethical, conventional, artistic, intellectual. These concepts correspond closely to ordinary usage. For more detail see Chapter 5 of Shideler. MND also use a behavior perspective concept pair {routine,idealistic} that is orthogonal to these 6 perspectives. To take an idealistic perspective on some action is to think of it in terms of its effect on some ideal. The concept of an idealistic perspective is based on the MND concept of an ideal which differs in some ways from the ordinary used concept of an ideal.

Value Concepts The concept which I call an ideal presupposes MND value concepts. To value a state is to assign a significant worth to it. A value for P values is any kind of state that P values. A value V is a power to the extent that P has the ability to use V in guiding and mobilizing P92s actions. Furthermore the extent to which P92s action achieve states that P values is a major factor that P uses in appraising that action.

Concept of an Ideal Because of my focus on origin concepts, the concept called an ideal is one of the most basic concepts of MND. An ideal is a personal state. It is a special kind of value V consisting primarily of a vision P has for shaping various states. To qualify as an ideal V must persist over time, be applicable to numerous states, be acknowledged as a high priority reason for action. If V is actually given high priority in P92s behavior, V said to be operational. This concept of an ideal is purely personal, and has no moral or ethical connotations, although a person may have ideals regarding anything, including morals or ethics. An ideal merely serves as a potential guide for actions. This differs in several ways from the concept most people have in mind when using the word ideal. This word has connotations of laudability, or even perfection; and ordinary language allows us to express ideals as if they were like beliefs. This is inappropriate for the concept I am using. My concept of an ideal is presented in more detail in the workfile MND.


Example When I started this workfile one of my ideals was to have enough assets so I would not need to be employed. This provided a perspective on certain actions that was both idealistic and prudential. For instance my decision to cultivate habits that allowed me to meet most of my transportation needs with a bicycle rather than an automobile was guided by these perspectives.

The Subcept of Transcendent Action A person has been conceptualized an individual whose history is characterized by deliberate action. Because of my origin ideal, I am interested in the extent that persons have a potential for a kind of deliberate action which I call transcendent action. Transcendent action is the form of deliberate action in which the achievement parameter is to bring about a state which differs from the state that would have emerged had if what had been done was a result of chance and/or the causal flow.

It is fairly easy to reflect on my behavior and recognize many instants of deliberate action. I merely ask myself whether at the time I knew of one or more options to the action I took. Since transcendent action also involves the achievement parameter, and in particular whether one has chosen an option different from what would have emerged from chance or from the causal flow, I am often unsure which instances of my own deliberate action are transcendent.

I find it even harder to judge when another person has engaged in transcendent action. A major concern of MND is to develop this concept of transcendent action by paradigm case analysis. Here I merely note that to engage in transcendent action I must transcend my persona, take extra initiative, be more proactive than reactive, attend more to creation than to maintenance; and most of all be guided by purposes and motives that I have deliberately ratified. Even with careful examination, it is always possible to imagine how an action that appears to have been transcendent may not have been. However the example below describes an action which I am certain would have been transcendent if I had chosen it.

Example One morning I considered making the first major activity of my day the creation of a minor net to help me think about some basic concepts of classical physics. I also considered editing MNP, working in the garden, taking a bicycle ride, moving rocks in the creek, just lying around indefinitely. My choice to lie around was clearly an instance of deliberate action, but I am fairly certain it was not a case of transcendent action. While I could find reasons for making alternative choices, I was feeling negative about everything and this was the choice that just emerged. If instead I it had been raining, I probably would have walked down to look at the creek, and I might have spent several hours moving rocks. Again this would have been deliberate action, but although the achievement parameter would have involved changing the water flow this action would probably not have been transcendent. Given my condition that morning, it is just what would have happened had it been raining. On the other hand I believe working on the net for classical physics was a live option, but not one that I could choose without transcending my reluctance to be proactive. Furthermore had I chosen to be proactive, the causal flow would have pushed me more strongly towards editing MNP, since I had been working on it in the recent past. Some day I may chose to work on the net for physics. The choice may be transcendent, but perhaps not. If anyone was strongly interested in seeing what I might create, this might supply the push that would get me started, and then inertia might favor working on it again.

Radical Origins An origin is a person with a history of transcendent action. Transcendent actions may vary from minor to major significance, so there are various ways to act as an origin. My personal origin quest is to become a more effective radical origin. By this I mean that I endorse the fact that the ultimate grounding of all my choices is in me. This includes my ideals and all the criteria I use to evaluate my actions.

Enhancing Originship In living and doing, I become an integral part of various situations, and I recreate me as I open myself to my beyond . As I create me, I shape the states I encounter, and I act as a resource for other persons. In this process I am guided by personal ideals, the most basic being my origin ideal. I am an origin to the extent that what I do is effectively directed towards what I would become and what I would have these states become. By originship I mean the art of acting as an effective origin. To explain the main aspects of enhancing originship, I use and develop MND.

My Origin Ideal I experience me as an effective origin in some situations. This interests me because much of my life has been an experiment in enhancing originship. My origin ideal is to become a more effective origin and to shape states that enhance resources for originship. Enhancing originship involves shaping stronger ideals, developing habits that integrate these ideals with my behavior, decreasing the influence of motives to react in ways that are not supportive of my ideals. It also involves having some extremely flexible nets. These nets must be neutral with respect to the competing ontological claims I can imagine, but broad enough to accommodate any of them. They must allow a constructive approach to epistemics, and not prescribe or limit the ways in which I can know or understand. I need nets which are open to an evolving perspective on what I am, what I do, how I create what I am, how I become co-actors with other persons, how I become more integrated into the world.


Writing concisely about my origin ideal is difficult, since my perspective on MND integrates everything in this workfile, and more. This perspective depends on a vast number of my characteristics, including my attitudes and interests, as well as my emotional and rational competencies. I often doubt that I can learn to communicate the most radical features of my perspective to another person, but I have yet to find anyone who I felt needed to understand them badly enough to work with me on this communication problem.

A Broad Paradigm Shift Prior to the 17th century the dominant paradigm used in western culture for thinking about human action was a theistic one, involving beliefs about and attitudes towards the supernatural. As the rise of science challenged this paradigm, some people adopted a more naturalistic paradigm. I suspect that both types paradigms have been breaking down during much of the 20th century. One major sign of this seems to be the growth of the kind of uneasy relativism with regard to values discussed in the MND workfile. For now I merely want to stress that I suspect that a radically new attitude towards transcendent action could emerge as part of a major paradigm shift affecting all aspects of a new world culture. Behavior linked to transcendent actions is the only way I can imagine transforming reality that is both purposeful and non-deterministic. I hope that a radically local-personal-tentative attitude towards doing will emerge. Persons can look beyond themselves to find criteria for judging what they do. They can also look within for these criteria, and choose not have any final or ultimate grounding for what they do. They can embrace an attitude that questions all ideas about how to evaluate their actions, an attitude that welcomes a radical incompleteness in the criteria for choosing what to do, what to become, what to create.

I want to embrace uncertainty and incompleteness, not only because of my limited knowledge and perspective, but because I entertain the conjecture that evolution may not proceed according to fixed laws or principles, because even these may evolve. For me this attitude is so fundamental that I feel I must cultivate it by a lifetime of actions. I try to feel as if I am a cutting edge of that part of reality that is close to me. Thus I resolved that one of my major lifelong goals is to shape portions of a net for doing that I can use in conjunction with such an attitude. I would like to also make at least a small contribution to the development of the most powerful and revolutionary net for doing ever created by humans, but I doubt that this is likely to happen.

The shift in my attitude toward doing begin to emerge in 1974, from a decision to make personal causation the central concept of my net for thinking about the actions of persons. This was a choice of an orientation, rather than a cognitive change. It did not even involve a change in belief. It involved a major shift in my attitude toward persons, a minor change in my attitude towards reality, and a deeper understanding of such attitudes. Prior to that time my most fundamental concern was to know why persons should ground their actions in ethical principles, and to prove that persons had free will and immortal souls. I felt defensive and insecure about my concern with free will, and even more defensive about my concern with immortality. Neither concern seemed respectable from the perspective of contemporary philosophy. I decided that the nets I was being conditioned to use were not suitable to my concerns and to rely on me to choose my concerns. In particular I made the following decisions.

The perspective and attitude I am cultivating has been synthesized from many situations, some only imagined, some actually occurring. I have been remiss in recording my thoughts about specific situations, being primarily content to distill an abstract version of my attitude. It is from my attitude towards doing and originship that the explicit formulation of my origin quest emerged.


The adoption of this quest was a tentative decision. It was more a decision about what to do than a decision about values. This quest was chosen at a level below considerations of right and wrong, both in an ethical and an epistemic sense. The tentative aspects of my origin quest is not due only to the tentativeness of my information, since even if I was omniscient, I do not see why this would be sufficient to determine my ideals. My origin ideal is tentative because I keep changing what I am. When pushed as far as I can go to decide how to shape me, I choose what I will do rather than ask what I ought to do. The question of what I ought to do, when asked at this level, has no meaning for me. Their are decisions about becoming that do not involve opinion or belief, since no informational component is decisive. My decision to enhance originship is such decision, although the strategies I use depend heavily on the information I can discover. When I first begin this workfile I formulated the resolution below as a way to keep this decision in focus.

Resolution I will focus what I do on shaping myself and the states I encounter according to my current ideals. I will use my ideals as a temporary criteria for doing; look to what I am currently doing as a criteria for my ideals; regard nothing beyond me as a necessary grounding for my actions or my ideals; remember that nothing beyond me would currently suffice. I will guide the evolution of my ideals by the decisions I make, endorse the personal-local-tentative aspects of these ideals, choose to reshape them by my most creative transcendent actions. I will cultivate my individuality in a way that integrates me into all that is beyond me. I will act in concert with other persons, both thru friendships and by listening to my cultural heritage, but I will also welcome an irreducible personal contribution from me in everything I do. I will forge the power to become the ultimate judge of my actions. Not only will I judge their effect and their worth, I will select or invent the criteria for this judgement. I will do this with a loving humility which listens to the ideals and values of others. In confrontation with actions or attitudes that threaten my most cherished ideals, I will cultivate an awareness that I may later endorse ideals that would guide me to act that way, but I will not let this awareness mute the strength of my current ideals to guide what I do.

Sustaining This Resolution Although I was experiencing power and joy in 1974 when I first formulated the above resolution, I had doubts about whether I could sustain it. I was strongly aware of my aversion to medical procedures. I was afraid that later in my life I might have some physical condition that would require treatment in a hospital, and that I would not have the personal powers to endure it. As part of my origin quest, I deconditioned myself from my fear of shots and blood tests. Such fears had been the major factor in my doubts about my ability to sustain this resolution, and in a sense I was waiting for some disaster that would test it. My fall from the roof in 1989 was a test of this resolution. For hours I was in extreme pain, but the resolution held. It broke in the cat scan. For three days I was sure that my origin quest was over, but then I was able to revitalize it, and for the rest of my stay in the hospital I could act as an origin. This sense continued thruout my physical recuperation. Then it collapsed. Since then my ability and desire to sustain this resolution has been considerably diminished. I cannot predict the role this resolution will have in my future.


Cosmic Versions By a cosmic version I mean a unified way of looking at the nature and origin of the universe and the way that persons fit into the general scheme of things. I am puzzled by the fact that the people I know and the authors I have read seem to have so little trouble in finding a plausible cosmic version which they do not consider vague. Does everyone but me have an implicit substantive preeminent cosmic version? By substantive I mean having a commitment to what there really is, as contrasted to a functional perspective on concepts used to think about the way things seem to work. By preeminent I mean that while other versions might be intellectually acknowledged, no other version is a live option. One reason that I have no cosmic version is that I find all such versions vague. Even more important, the evidence for and against all the versions I even vaguely understand seems overwhelming.

For many years I have had no cosmic version. All I have are some functional cosmic attitudes, which I call cosmic myths in order to stress the fact that they are vague, and that any attempt on my part to bring them into a sharper focus runs into the limitations of my ability to obtain a satisfactory intuitive grasp of anything of cosmic scope. While their vagueness makes knowledge relevant to their plausibility difficult to obtain, in principle this should not prevent me from obtaining some such knowledge. The major barrier is that my cosmic myths are remote from most of my ordinary experience, with almost no direct feedback which enables me to test them. Furthermore the vast amount of indirect evidence I encounter seems to point strongly in incompatible directions. I have such a limited understanding of what I am, so how can I have a cosmic version? With no cosmic version I need a conceptual philosophy, one that allows me to think about cosmic myths but does not presume any as fundamental.

The Problem Because I do not know whether I might be able to survive my biological death, I tend to slip into a grim attitude toward my life, to regard it as a struggle in which I am extremely competent, but in which I take no joy or satisfaction from anything I do. This is not literally true, but it states the essence of my attitude. More accurately, when I find satisfaction, it is accompanied by a feeling of emptiness or pain. My strategy for living in this grim fashion has been to accept it as inevitable, and then to develop the strength to endure and create. I told my persona that I must live this way because of my decision to experiment with radical originship, and because I do not know how to escape this quest. I told him that this quest is more important than being secure or happy, and that this quest makes this grim attitude necessary. I know this is not so. I know that I should be able to cultivate a balanced and reasonable attitude, to expect a balance between satisfaction and disappointment, between pain and joy. My origin quest should not have an unbalanced attitude toward living. This attitude is rooted in a multitude of experiences thru which I have learned to live as if some worst case scenario was almost inevitable. This is an inappropriate attitude, sapping my will to exist and contrary to my most basic ideals. It violates my ideal of effective living.

I often feel that it is my lack of a comic version that tends to give this grim attitude towards my own existence, but perhaps it is because my life has been influenced too strongly by cosmic myths which make various nightmare views of the universe feel too plausible. I have examined my attitudes towards these and several more positive cosmic myths. I try to give them plausibility rankings from a detached point of view. The nightmare views do not do as well in this ranking. Thus my attitude is totally at odds with this detached ranking.

While my grim attitude toward life and my cosmic nightmares grew together and reinforced each other, my basic experience is with ordinary living, so this is the main source of these linked attitudes. My cosmic nightmares are remote from most of my experience, with no direct feedback which enables me to test them. This make them resistant to change. However they were learned, largely thru early cultural conditioning, and my emotional attitudes towards them were learned in conjunction with ordinary experiences. My workfile Auto-Bio examines their roots and traces the development of these grim attitudes. In this present workfile I merely sketch some of my cosmic myths and my attitudes towards them. It is because each such myth seem somewhat plausible that I need a conceptual philosophy that make no cosmic commitments.

Type of Cosmic Myths My cosmic myths come under two main headings, namely theistic and atheistic. Both headings contains myths that vary from extremely negative to very positive. I discuss those that have had a significant emotional impact on my life, in particular various monotheistic and natural evolutionary myths. While there are other theistic and other atheistic myths, as well as some which fall under neither of these headings, I do not feel that these others have had much of an impact on me. For example, I do not consider any pantheistic myths.


Monotheistic Myths The dominant factor for this universe is a personal god, that is a god who engages in deliberate action. Under this heading comes both my worst nightmare and my most hopeful one. I refer to the myths below as calvinism, deism, personal theism.

God is calvinistic, and has predestined most persons to eternal damnation. I am predestined to damnation, not because I deserve this, but because I cannot like a god who would allow anyone to be eternally damned.

God created the particular universe in which we live. God is good and loving, but God plays no continuing role in human affairs. He merely created the universe in such a way that persons would evolve and have the potential to shape and create their own destiny in this universe. However life in this universe can be a process in which a person may be able to shape a will capable of surviving beyond this universe.

God is still creating the universe in which we live, but with other persons as junior partners in this task. God is good and loving. God plays a continuing role in human affairs, but does so primarily by acting as a source of spiritual power for persons. Ultimately, all persons who so choose will spend eternity with God, and for those who find the thought of eternity too dreadful, God will be merciful.

Calvinism has plagued me since I was about 15 year old. I recall reading Jefferson92s comment to the effect that if ever a man worshipped a demon it was Calvin. I found it easy to reject calvinism on an intellectual level, and often I have felt that I was emotionally liberated from this myth. By age 19 I thought I had replaced it by the positive deistic myth. In 1975 I was convinced that although I would never find a cosmic myth to believe, at least the calvinism was too implausible to ever return to haunt me. However it returned in force in 1989, and I have not been able to totally purge my persona of its emotional plausibility. Assuming theism, the main evidence for a calvinistic myth is the vast amount of personal suffering, which often seems a prelude to pathology rather than a prelude to growth.

During most of 1989 I tried, without success to replace my calvinistic fears with a positive monotheistic myth, much like the one used by most Quakers. I have a partial, but highly positive subcept of a personal God. I want the emotional barriers to a hope for such a God to fade, and I want small positive experiences that might make the reality of such a God seem plausible to me.

My main problem with any positive theistic myth is the problem of Evil. This is less of a problem with the deistic myth than with the personal theistic one. The main reason I could not hold onto deism is because its only support was rational. There is no strong cultural tradition supporting deism, and by its very nature there cannot be much personal experience supporting it. On the other hand personal theism has a long traditional support in our culture and has a potential to be supported by personal experience. However the few things in my personal experience that make this alternative plausible are more than countered by my emotional reaction to the problem of evil, especially natural evil. I cannot feel that any account of evil as resulting mostly from deliberate human action is plausible. I especially find a calvinistic account of evil as the result of rebellion against God highly implausible. My concept of rebellion involves deliberate action against an acknowledged authority. My own personal experience of human evil is that it results more from the lack of will than the exercise of will. Also humans spend so much of their life in a state of vulnerability, so even when evil results from deliberate action, this seems to be rooted in fears which humans do not have much ability to control.

Natural Evolutionary Myths Before any human like species evolved the physical universe was totally impersonal, but the emergence of humans introduced a personal element. A self-conscience forward looking intelligence emerged as a major survival trait in human evolution. With this there occurs an unbounded capacity for imagination. This opened the possibility of hopes and fears of vast scope. It also made persons extremely interdependent and vulnerable. I refer the myths below as physicalism, grim paranaturalism, hopeful paranaturalism.

To exist is to have a natural physical basis. Humans are purely natural, a product of evolutionary natural selection, and each person92s existence terminates with physical death.

Humans are paranatural persons resulting as an accidental product of evolutionary natural selection. We vary in terms of our ability to take a highly developed future orientation and in the extent to which this affects our daily existence. Many who have such an orientation are doomed to a grim existence, because capacity for fear ultimately outstrips capacity for courage. By accident I am one of those. Being paranatural, I may even survive physical death, and live on via reincarnation or in some other realm, without help from some higher spiritual power and without the courage to effectively confront these fears.


Humans are paranatural persons resulting as a product of evolutionary natural selection, and this emergence is not merely accidental. Instead persons are the cutting edge of reality within this universe. We are the source of transcendent action, and with love and courage and wisdom persons have an unlimited potential. Being paranatural, some of us may survive our physical death, bringing with us the useful person characteristics attained in this world.

The Impact of These Myths From 1965 until to 1989 natural evolutionary myths had a tendency to dominate my attitudes and myths, although I never adopted any such myth as a cosmic version, and although I was also still pulled toward theistic myths.

From 1965 to 1974 physicalism pulled me towards indifference, while calvinism pulled me towards despair. During this time the emotional power of my deistic myth slowly disintegrated. The power of deism came primarily from outside of me, from my exposure to the intellectual traditions beginning in the 18th century primarily as a reaction against harsh forms of monotheism. However my reaction against harsh forms of monotheism was a type of physicalism which looked on any form of theism or paranaturalism as pure superstition.

In 1975 I decided I was paranatural, and that this knowledge was too directly a part of my experience to deny, especially on the basis of a lot of abstract theorizing rooted in a need for some kind of deterministic certainty and conceptual closure. I decided that both physicalism and calvinism were too contrary to my personal experience to be plausible. In particular I decided that calvinism had plausibility primarily because I felt vulnerable and I had been raised in a tradition that felt an underlying need to placate a higher power. I also felt that there was no form of physicalism that I could even partially understand, since the versions I was expected to accept seemed dogmatic and vague and pretentious. Furthermore none of the other substantive cosmic versions I had studied seemed plausible. I decided to trust my own competence, so I formulated paranaturalism as another evolutionary myths. From 1975 to 1989 it was hopeful paranaturalism that had a tendency to dominate my attitudes, although I remained somewhat open to both deism and personal theism.

Since grim paranaturalism was a live option both intellectually and emotionally, and because of my phobias towards hospitals, its plausibility had a tendency to grow. March 10 1989 I crushed a vertebrae in my back. My initial reaction to the cat scan in the hospital totally undermined my cutting edge attitude, and the grim paranaturalism became emotionally preeminent. The third day in the hospital I experienced an intense sense of peace and joy. Suddenly I became emotionally open to the personal theism again. During all of 1989 I remained emotionally open to this myth at least some of the time each day. However, this begin to fade. By July I had again become susceptible to calvinism and grim paranaturalism. Which of these was preeminent depended on the level of despair I was feeling, or perhaps it determined this level.

My Personal Paradox I have a positive self image and am respected and admired by others. I am exceptionally competent at many things. I have a marriage filled with deep love, trust, respect. I have a warm supportive loving relationship with my family and with many friends. I am an outstanding parent and grandparent. I have cultivated my cognitive powers so I can deal effectively with both abstract concepts and ordinary situations, and some very bright people think I am highly creative. I have the strength of Achilles, but I also have his heel. I have had a positive impact on others, and I accomplished purposes that are beyond the resources of most people, but I took no real satisfaction from their love or what I achieved. Nor could I find much satisfaction in the minor day to day things that sustain other people. Sometimes this seems like a paradox, but often I feel that I know what is missing, namely a deep spiritual connection to other persons or to God, and without this I suspect I will always feel incomplete.


Overview This appendix consists of my reflections on some of the barriers I once encountered in learning to think about originship. It focuses on my attitudes and my understanding of some parts of the kind of nets I was conditioned to use. Thus this appendix is mostly paraceptual information that helps me in understanding MNP. It was first written in 1974 and represents a transitional stage in my attitudes. What follows is an edited 1991 version. The 1974 version would be difficult to understand out of its original context, most of which has been discarded. I almost discarded this portion as well, but perhaps it provides some additional perspective on my current net for philosophy. It may also be of use to anyone else who has encountered similar barriers. These barriers were primarily emotional, rather than intellectual.

Determinism The major barrier to the formation of MNP was my inability to liberate myself from the influences of determinism. While I could not imagine a coherent net for doing in which I could conceptualize determinism, it was not until about 1974 that I became secure enough to simply say this and ignore determinism. An account of the incoherence of determinism described by Peter Ossorio, in "What Actually Happens" describes my attitude better than anything I have ever written. He presents determinism as a failed degradation ceremony, one proclaiming that none of us is one of us. Since this is what I would have to proclaim if I were to try to be a determinist, there is no coherent way for me to be determinist. I suspect that most people who claim to be a determinist may be making such an incoherent claim, but perhaps they have no use for anything which resembles our person concept. Thus for them no degradation ceremony is possible.

A Behavioral Attitude Toward Origin Acts My experience of transcendent action confronts me with a dilemma. I have a strong tendency to think deterministically, yet the only authentic way I can interpret such experience is by affirming in determinism. This is an emotional rather than an conceptual dilemma. It is rooted in my desire for closure, for a kind of rationality which demands that in principle every state can be accounted for as a causal outcome of previous states. I cannot satisfy this sentiment of rationality and at the same time affirm my origin claim. Yet when I seriously doubt my creative power, my desire for rationality fades, the utility of my knowledge vanishes, and my idea of deliberate knowing looses meaning. A denial of originship leads me into a quiet chaos of ignorance and apathy. Yet its affirmation runs counter to my deep emotional need for rationality and opens the door into an active chaos of uncertainty.

In practice I can avoid both apathy and uncertainty because I have learned to adopt what seems to be a useful behavioral attitude toward my actions. I implicitly feel like an origin, but I do not focus on this in my conceptual images of the states I confront. Instead I ignore me and focus on an abstract substitute for me which I think of as a persona whose acts can be explained causally. I apply my analysis to this persona and abstract versions of states involving him. I often adopt a fairly deterministic mode of thinking in such matters. This may be simplistic, but it is convenient. It allows me to explain my behavior in a way that makes other people comfortable. It allows me to think about my past behavior without brooding over alternative choices which I could have made. It allows me the illusion of living in an environment where no uncontrollable factors can thwart my efforts. This behavioral attitude allows me to feel like an origin, while ignoring the insecurity and complexities deeper thought might bring.

Most of the time my behavioral attitude toward being an origin is useful. When doing something, thinking about being an origin is more likely to interfere with transcendent action than to assist it. However, there are times when ignoring my knowledge of being an origin causes trouble. It provides only a superficial explanation of my behavior, since it ignores the deepest personal reasons for it. I realize this when I turn my thoughts deeply inward. Although I am willing to explain much of my behavior in terms of a common sense deterministic net, I am not willing to use this net for thinking about the choices I experience as rooted in my actions as an origin. I am also unwilling to regard persons with whom I have had close contact only as organisms.

My Sentiment Of Rationality I was once impressed with the power of scientific thinking, and I unconsciously absorbed the attitude that the only trustworthy knowledge about the universe was scientific knowledge. I was naive enough to regard the concept of the universe as precise, and I felt that I was expected to regard the universe as a deterministic physical system. This disturbed me because it seemed to imply a total determinism. So I fought this portion of my educational conditioning. However my desire for explanatory power was strong, and my demand for total explanation slowly began to undermine my belief in free choice. I only had one major need calling for a belief in choice, my need to feel like an origin. Since the need for choice did not seem to rise at all when I focused on the impersonal, and since at the time I felt insignificant in comparison to the universe, deterministic thinking began to carry an aura of authority while my belief in choice seemed like a concession to a private purpose. I had difficulty resisting the argument that the success of physics was strong evidence that the universe was a deterministic system.


I articulate my previous attitudes toward determinism primarily to purge remnants that contaminate my current thinking. While still somewhat impressed with physics, I suspect its success may be due to its limited subject matter, rather than the ubiquitous power of its concepts. Physics depends on having fairly precise remote concepts, and whatever conceptual powers others possess, I my attempts to form a precise concept of the universe is hopelessly simplistic. My desire to have a precise concept of the universe is rooted in a strong emotional desire to feel closure, a part of the desire that William James called the sentiment of rationality. I first realized this when I understood Godel92s incompleteness theorem. The realization that mathematical intuition would always be able to take me beyond any such set of axioms came as a severe shock to my sentiment of rationality. Ideas from quantum theory also provided a challenge to my sentiment of rationality, but it was primarily my study of mathematics which convinced me that I must resist my emotional demands for closure.

I cannot adequately account for any transcendent action. I can merely explain the background which suggests the options, and without which the action could not have emerged. Thus will does not appear rational to me at its source, but it may appear extremely rational in its consequence, since after the choice has emerged, I can attempt a rational account of what follows. I do not need to explain the source of will. Instead I merely acknowledge will as a brute fact, something directly experienced, but not subject to reductionistic explanation. Thus when I acknowledge will I admit a limit beyond which explanation seems pointless. I cannot have total explanation. Given principles, I can always ask why these principles? Why not others? In the face of any mystery which is a fact that I cannot imagine explaining in a way that satisfies my sentiment of rationality, I usually see two options. I can reduce my sense of mystery by emphasizing experience and de-emphasizing interpretation, or I can make interpretations that push the mystery away from me. It is comforting to do the latter when the mystery, like my experience will, is very close. Yet my experience is stubborn. I cannot shove this mystery conveniently into the past or out into the mysterious cosmos. Instead will remains a mystery that lives with me always, close and very uncomfortable. I sense that in essence I am a will. To deny will, to decrease my options and to narrow the related inner resource, is to decrease my existence. So reluctantly I face the duality of my experience. I cannot deny that I engage in transcendent action. I struggle to believe that I have such power. I resist my desire for security and total explanation. I resist my feelings of inadequacy.

My Vague Notion of Determinism The realization that I cannot have closure, except for limited systems, has affected my ordinary thinking. I no longer pretend to find the notion of a deterministic universe comprehensible. Some years ago I felt I could at least formulated the conjecture that we live in a deterministic universe.

The total course of events, down to the most minute detail, is completely determined.

I can no longer conceive of what I might have meant by this. It is of such cosmic scope that it staggers my imagination. It seems to appeal to some absolute order transcending all potential experience. I do not see how such a conjecture can be precisely understood. Any attempt leads me to ask a multitude of questions. When was the total course of events determined, at the first instance of time or was it predetermined from negative infinity? Does it presuppose some absolute order? Where would this order exist, in nature itself, in some eternal realm outside of nature?

These are not intended as paraceptual queries, but as reminders of why I find the notion of universal determinism vague. Such questions are vague, because I am trying to come to grips with a conjecture which I find hopelessly vague. The best I can do in making sense of it is to say that it might point to a mystery beyond my comprehension, and that some people are more attuned to this mystery than I. They seem to have some feeling for the uniformity of nature that goes beyond what I can grasp. I expect regularity, and I expect surprises. The fact that most surprises can be accounted for after the fact may suggest even more uniformity than is immediately apparent, or it may suggest that we have a great talent for inventing order amid chaos. I also often discover that I am not as much an origin as I often think. Since I have limited trust in inference by mere enumeration, I do not find this compelling evidence for some inviolate uniformity of nature. When I try to think that way everything evaporates into nonsense. I cannot discuss this in a systematic fashion because I have difficulty being systematic as I approach nonsense. However I can illustrate what happens when I try by reflection on some quatrains from the Rubaiyat.

With Earth92s first Clay They did the Last Man knead
And there of the Last Harvest sowed the Seed:
And the first morning of Creation wrote
What the Last Dawn of Reckoning shall read.

Yesterday, this Days Madness did prepare;
Tomorrow92s silence, triumph, or despair;
Drink! for you know not whence you came nor why
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where!


The first six lines pose an absolute determinism. So why do the last two lines which read like advice? Is it not already predetermined whether you drink or not? Perhaps the advice is one of the factors which predetermines whether you drink. Is the advice predetermined? Is the poem itself predetermined? Are beliefs and attitudes, as well as arguments about such matters as determinism predetermined? Why should I trust any conclusion which it is predetermined that I will hold? Perhaps because it is predetermined that I will trust the conclusions that I trust, and that I will mistrust those I do not trust. But if I believed this, I would stop trusting those claims that I now trust. At this stage I know that I have slipped into an indeterministic mode of thinking.

I do not have the ability to think about persons from a strictly deterministic perspective, since many ordinary concepts I use would then be vacuous. What would I mean when I use such words as avoid, error, choose, possible, trust, hope, think, deliberate, advice, true, should, false, please, consider, want, alternative, care; and a host of others and still think deterministically. What a real determinist might be talking about when using such language is beyond my comprehension. I have no argument with determinists, for I do not know what they are proclaiming. This is especially the case when I focus my attention inward rather than outward. When I am aware of me as choosing either purposes or means to fulfill these purposes, I at least must pretend that not all is determined.

Intelligence and Determinism My main problem in obtaining a rational grasp of a deterministic perspective is that it makes intelligence irrelevant. If all is predetermined, what use is cognitive competence? Given a deterministic system what is the essential difference between instinctive behavior and intelligent behavior? The notion of predetermined intelligent behavior seems like a conceptual monstrosity. I must ignore my own concept of intelligence to even pretend to converse with anyone who uses such terminology.

The sense of irrationality that comes when I consider determinism also comes when I consider any other apparent alternative to my origin claim. It is not merely the non-existence of novelty that I find irrational, but the denial that novelty can originate from persons. My knowledge of novelty comes from a fairly direct interpretation of my experience. If something really can be decided here and now, as my experience leads to me think, then I sense that I introduce novelty in a way that is personal rather than arbitrary.

The alternative that we live in an indeterministic universe, but that novelty is only and always a matter of chance, also makes intelligence irrelevant. Thus both determinism and chance indeterminism give me a world in which I cannot actively participate. The same can be said of divine indeterminism or pantheistic indeterminism (only the gods are origins or only the cosmos is an origin). In any type of universe in which I am not an origin, I am powerless. There are times when I feel that way, but when I believe that I am essentially powerless I can make no sense of my experience. Furthermore doing verbal gymnastics in order to revise my ideas of power and intelligence does not allow me to escape from the essence of this experience. In a sense all I have to say about any universe which denies that I can act as an origin is that it violates the most fundamental core of my experience. I can best express this by a term taken from William James.

This life feels like a real fight.

The Appeal of Determinism I believe that the appeal of deterministic thinking is rooted primarily in my desire for simplicity and certainty. Deterministic thinking is useful when formulating theories. This is especially useful when the focus is on the natural systems and we want to eliminate any type of influence that would interfere with prediction. However there are physical states that seem to be extremely resistant to deterministic models. Prior to the kind of observations that gave rise to Quantum Theory, the use of deterministic theories made things easy to work with and since observation never fits theory exactly, it did not matter in application if reality is a bit indeterminate, since in practice we could always intervene to take care of minor uncertainties arising from a failure in prediction. However, as long as we concentrate on theories that emphasize total predictability, our thinking may have a bias towards determinism.

My Resistance To Indeterminism I can curb my desire for certainty in the external world, but still find that I have only been partially liberated from the pull of determinism. I can view the external world as indeterminate, but I still resist the reality of my transcendent acts. My desire for certainty is not restricted to the external world. I also want to be able to explain my own behavior. Part of this may be my desire to accommodate others. I was taught to explain my behavior. I suspect this is because other people want to be able to rely on it, and thus I learned to think of myself as reliable.


I also have personal reasons for believing my behavior is reliable. It is easier for me to cope with the more remote fact that things out there are uncertain than the immediate fact that things in here are uncertain. I am faced with the appalling feeling that if my behavior is not determined then I am a victim of chance. Rather than accept this, I prefer to explain away the uncertainties in my behavior. Since originship is only one factor in my behavior, and never an immediate one in past behavior, I can always appeal to other factors to explain it. These other factors, such as need, duty, feeling, external pressure, etc., are more comfortable to think about. They serve not only to explain, but also can themselves be rationally explained, unless I push the explanation to an infinite regress in time or back to some primal first cause, in which case the whole attempt at explanation appears irrational. Thus I can appease my desire for certainty in specific cases and give myself and others the comforting illusion that no insane impulse on my part might upset things. I can, at the same time, satisfy my passion for explanation.

Of course, all of this is merely a pretense. Underneath I maintain the attitude that I can act as an origin. This attitude emerges when the experience of choosing is vivid. When I look forward to choices, rather than reflect on past behavior, my feeling that I can act as an origin returns to haunt me. I can explain away every specific origin act from my past, but even though the present is fleeting and often involves behavior governed mostly be habit and external pressure, my personal will refuses to stay submerged. The only escape I have from feeling like an origin is by failing to choose, but when this happens my very being seems to shrink. I strike back, and I am faced with an experience too immediate to explain away. When this happens I know that my behavior is not determined nor a matter of chance. There may be a host of factors influencing me. My options may be restricted to narrow limits. The hand of the past may grip me tightly. But the significant factor in the present, if I will it, is my will.

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Bob Corbett