Executive Summary of the Wholeness of the World
philosophy is . . .
. . . a new way of doing philosophy. Philosophy aspires to knowledge that is more fundamental than ordinary ways of knowing (such as empirical science and practical reasoning). That requires a special foundation, and philosophers have traditionally used theories about the nature of reason derived from reflection. That is epistemological philosophy, which leads to skepticism. But there is an alternative. It is possible to use empirical ontology as the foundation. We can infer to the simplest set of basic substances that can explain all the most basic aspects of the world. This is what the Pre-Socratics tried to do, though without modern science, they could not make it work as a way of doing philosophy. Now, however, this approach can be used to show that certain propositions are ontologically necessary. That makes them prior to ordinary ways of knowing, not because they are self evident, but because they cannot be denied without giving up the best ontological explanation of the world. And combining them with modern science has profound, far reaching implications.
. . . a new way of doing science. Ontological philosophy is equally, therefore, a new way of doing science. To use empirical ontology as a philosophical foundation is tantamount to recognizing that ontology is a more basic branch of science than physics. Ontological-cause explanations are more basic than efficient-cause explanations, and with ontology using the empirical method, science is no less empirical. But empirical ontology leads to different beliefs about the basic substances constituting the world, since the ontology derived from realism about the basic laws in physics is not the best ontological explanation of the world. A better explanation of the basic aspects of the world is spatiomaterialism, or the belief that the world is constituted by both space and matter as substances enduring though time. Though that entails that space and time are absolute, it is not incompatible with contemporary physics, for spatiomaterialism can explain why all its basic laws are true, including both the special and general theories of relativity, as well as quantum mechanics. For science, one big payoff of explaining the truth of the basic laws of physics ontologically is being able to reduce the (true) theories accepted in all the other branches of science to this new ontologically explained physics. Ontological philosophy includes, therefore, what might be called “empirical ontological science.”
. . . a way of doing philosophy that works. While epistemological philosophy leads eventually to skepticism, ontological philosophy shows that certain propositions about the world hold necessarily. These ontologically necessary truth are falsifiable (because of their empirical foundation), but they are so complete in the end that ontological philosophy can still claim the certainty expected of Absolute Truth in traditional, epistemological philosophy.
A minimally adequate ontology must be able to account for everything in the world in the sense of showing that it is possible. But ontology can lead to new beliefs about the world by way of the ontologically necessary truths it entails. Indeed, this solves the so-called “hard problem” about consciousness by explaining the possibility of phenomenal properties. But apart from its implications for contemporary physics, spatiomaterialism by itself shows little more than the ontological necessity of beliefs that we already hold (such as mathematics and the principle of local action). However, since spatiomaterialism can explain the truth of the basic laws of physics, that is not the end of ontological philosophy. The combination of spatiomaterialism and contemporary physics entails truths that are ontologically necessary in the sense that they hold in every possible spatiomaterial world like our own. Not only do these implications solve Hume’s problem of induction (by explaining change as an aspect of substances enduring though time), but since space is one of the substances constituting the world, they also demonstrate the necessity of regularities that hold of change in entire regions of space. Such “global regularities” include the conservation of mass and energy, the second law of thermodynamics, the principles of mechanics, and evolutionary change in the direction of natural perfection. The latter, in addition to explaining the nature of goodness, implies that evolution proceeds through a series of inevitable stages of gradual evolution that lead, step by step, up to rational beings like us. The kinds of organisms that evolve at each stage turn out to be necessary beings, and the essential nature of rational beings includes a spiritual aspect which embodies yet further forms of evolution, including cultural evolution, social evolution (both with stages), and capitalist evolution. Most of these implications are not currently recognized as true, much less as necessary. Indeed, so many aspects of the world turn out to be ontologically necessary in a spatiomaterial world like ours that, in the end, the completeness of this ontological explanation of the world, rather than anything being self evident, is what justifies its claim to certainty.
. . . presented in a new way. The argument for these conclusions is presented at www.tWoW.net by using the medium of web pages. A dialogue (“The Inside-Out Encyclopedia”) introduces the “whole diagram,” with labels, which represent the argument of ontological philosophy. By clicking on its boxes, you are taken to sub-diagrams (also with labels) spelling out the relevant section in more detail. One (or two) more clicks brings you to a standard, linear text of the entire argument. The diagrams and labels enable you to grasp the argument as a whole without having to read the entire text, so that you can focus on the parts of the text that seem most crucial to you.
Our challenge Can you show why ontological philosophy does not work? You cannot simply dismiss it without explaining why it doesn’t work and still call yourself a philosopher, for that would be to give up the rational pursuit of truth in favor of relativism and sophistry. If you have objections to ontological philosophy, bring them to the the webmaster@tWoW.net or to the Listserv discussion at onto-phil, where we will explain why they are unfounded — or else show how they can be accommodated by minor modifications of ontological philosophy that do not affect how it does philosophy or where it leads in the end. (Join the discussion by sending an email to onto-phil-request@tWoW.net with the body text: subscribe.)