Someone asked what I call my general philosophy, and as usual there are several answers. Politically, I am conservative, meaning that I believe in preserving and pursuing what worked best in the past; this is a quest for virtue and realism joined.
At a metaphysical level, I am a parallelist, or one who believes there are not dual worlds, only one continuity of experience of which we can sample only part. Parallelism states that parallel structures imply an underlying reality which is not immediately tangible or visible.
On the level of personality, I am one of those people who aims for the holy grail of realism united with a desire for gradual improvement, meaning that instead of being reactively realist, or one who looks at the world and figures it never can change nor should be changed, I am actively realist, or in search of ways to improve reality that are consistent with its underlying pattern order.
But at the core of it all might be something we could call continuity, around which I designed the Continuity Movement back in 2005 or so. The point of this was to look at the world from outside of the human being, and to apply a futurist-style optimistic enthusiasm toward nature and our possibilities within it.
Continuity, as a philosophy, recognizes the simple truth of life: like good heavy metal, it is riff-based, or constructed of cycles; each riff represents a motion that affirms a central point by moving away from it, and then implying a return. These cycles exist in a concentric structure of cycles within cycles. Within those, there are epicycles or internal cycles that produce a seemingly retrograde motion to the overall cycle, forming a type of internal opposition that gradually harmonizes with its context.
Cycles link cause and effect. The event that triggers other events, known as a cause, creates its effects. Those in turn become causes for other events. Frequently, since the effect is a response by the external world to a cause, the cause and effect are mirrors of each other, such as how human attempts to keep foxes out of the hen house merely produce more capable foxes.
We can see two general types of cycles. The first involve feedback loops, where two or more objects intensify their behavior in response to each other, like birds moving their nests each time a snake finds their location. The second are more like signals, and involve a cycle running its course and resulting in a symbolic act, which prompts reactions that do not interact with it but something else.
Humans are more responsive to the second type because our brains work by signals, where the world works mostly by feedback, since it is not like us driven by the higher-intensity sensation of the symbolic language of the brain versus the ambiguous, fuzzy and nebulous perceptions we have of the world outside of our thoughts.
If we have an eternal failing, it consists of mistaking feedback for a signal. We interact with something, and it responds, so we see this as a response to us, when in fact it is simply a logical continuation of the cycle. This causes us to forget that the cycle is still ongoing, and to take a temporary response as a permanent condition, while assuming that it is focused on us. This creates a paranoid solipsism that is the hallmark of all poor human decision-making.
Our inner selves, which are unregulated by social concerns, have the ability to engage in a feedback with reality because unlike the ego, they do not work through symbols, but through bundles of sensations expressed on a spectrum, from which we derive a general gut instinct about the pattern. “This feels like it will work,” we say, bypassing reason for the power of the subconscious mind. But even those sensations can be forged by the ego, which filters out anything which does not fit the model it wishes to enforce, leaving only the opposite of what is true.
In our search for symbols in the world, we then become oblivious to the world. All human problems originate from this type of tunnel vision, where we see a moment in a process and assume that it is the whole, thus keep acting on the the theory that it explains the situation even when contrary data arises.
As always, our tendency is to argue from the self as opposed to from the world, which causes a condition of solipsism which is mated with a narcissism in order to justify our lack of knowledge about what is outside of our minds. Tom Wolfe describes a variant of this condition in the “fiction-absolute”:
Even before I left graduate school I had come to the conclusion that virtually all people live by what I think of as a “fiction-absolute.” Each individual adopts a set of values which, if truly absolute in the world–so ordained by some almighty force–would make not that individual but his group . . . the best of all possible groups, the best of all inner circles. Politicians, the rich, the celebrated, become mere types. Does this apply to “the intellectuals” also? Oh, yes. . . perfectly, all too perfectly.
Every human rationalizes his own condition as the best possible result, therefore is oblivious to the possibility of better results, which is why conservatism aims at conserving the best of human conditions at a civilizational level; it opposes the solipsism toward which most humans are prone. Continuity one-ups that by installing a sense of time consciousness in the individual.
Much of our success and failure is determined by whether or not our behavior is efficient, and to what degree. Efficiency is the management of energy over time so that results are produced with the least amount of energy, freeing it up to be applied elsewhere, such as in the higher functions of civilization. A society which spends all of its time and energy on subsistence farming cannot produce institutions or the order of law; as a result, the function of individuals is localized to themselves, since they have no intermediate to facilitate interaction with others, especially distant others.
Continuity, as a philosophy of cycles, looks toward energy not as a static resource but something which flows through a system depending on its efficiency. The greater the efficiency, the more energy can be dedicated to that which improves life, including at the existential level where we try to decide if we like who we are, how to self-actualize ourselves, and what is meaningful and important in life.
The cyclic view stops us from trying to seize things that already exist, but remind us that our actions now are really actions in the next part of the cycle. We plant in spring to harvest in fall. We are, ultimately, our children and their degree of ability to interact successfully with the world. This contrasts the human tendency to seize on the tangible as we see it as useful to us, and to elevate that to a perceived “universality” which is shared through socializing.
This tendency toward projection of an instant to cover the entire cycle can be called the authoritarianism of the ego, which demands that what it sees be seen by others and validated, and leads to control, which is the method of using social — including political and economic — forces to demand that others view the world in a way that does not violate the narrative of the individual. For example, if someone fails at raising cattle, he will blame bad luck and resent anyone who suggests otherwise, unless their explanation also vindicates him.
Human smugness, passive-aggression and most of all addiction to unnatural power over the world comes from control. We want to stop the cycle at one point where we master it, and to compel others to see it the same way, so that we are not at risk of being “wrong” because our mental model was incorrect. We rebel against Darwinism by insisting that there are no failures, only choices, and that therefore, we cannot be seen as less important simply because we incorrectly understood the world.
By removing the belief in the single instant, which resembles a symbol in how our brains treat it, as the sum of the whole, continuity demands that we look at the cycle as a whole and place the instant within it. This allows other people to be “right” but only in the context of one part of the cycle, and has us looking for what comes next as a way to ascertain the effect of the cause that is that one part of the cycle.
Continuity by its very nature emphasizes the order outside the human being, not just nature but civilization and potentially, the metaphysical.
It fits with parallelism, the philosophy that all things exist in parallel, or in many forms which are simultaneously competing and strengthening one another, like different species and individuals in an ecosystem. Parallelism, like continuity, removes our thinking from the linear and personal and channels it toward the complex instead of the universal, which is an offshoot of solipsism that projects our own thinking onto others on the basis that they, like us, think in symbols and can be controlled through social forces.
Parallelism has a few key tenets of note:
- Wholeness. For an idea to be true, it must be true in all relevant areas; we cannot define true-ness by selecting some areas where something is true, and allowing those to stand for the whole. In other words, we argue from impact within context instead of the object considered without context.
- Independence. We cannot force change by demanding what we want, but only by setting up the conditions that produce it, and selecting for those things that exhibit the traits we desire. In this way, parallelism emphasizes Darwinism and treats the world like an ecosystem, where opportunity creates options and those options which are parallel — true in all ways — can be chosen over others.
- Centrality. All things that are true converge on a center point, reality, because this is the nexus where they are joined. We can speak of an idea as true in abstraction, but that does not include all parallel elements, as since we are operating within reality, it must be consistent with reality.
- Causality. Perhaps the most striking idea of parallelism is that causality is not linear, but as in Platonic forms, mathematical or informational; patterns occur, and from those other patterns result, in a cause/effect that resembles a cycle more than a linearity.
- Monism. If all things are parallel, then there is no separate order or “second world” of dualism, in which the true pattern of reality is manifest. Instead, the underlying pattern order is never directly revealed, but is manifest in all levels of our world, including the metaphysical, which will play by the same set of informational rules including thermodynamics that our physical world does.
- Localism. Parallels are created in response to new events or opportunities; as a result, each one of these must be independent from the others, for the most part, and survive or die based on its own merits. In this sense, there is no “collective,” only groups of individuals and sub-groups who can work together where they share a goal. Ideology and universalism are meaningless.
Control remains the greatest threat to humanity because it limits our understanding and forces us into compliance with human, rather than parallel-spanning realistic, concerns. Control is dominance of human fear over the world by denial of vital information, which only distances us from the realization because nature is a mathematical order within all that we do, and not simply a material thing that we can mold.
The problem with control, as it emerges, is not just that it denies reality, but that it leads to an inefficient distribution of energy. When an illusion is enforced, this requires work, and the inversion of knowledge that comes along with enforcing control also eliminates necessary methods. The more centralized the control, the more energy is spent on control, and the less on task and thus, improved efficiency.
Paradoxically for most, especially for those who have not yet wrapped their heads around how collectivism is individualism, control includes the oldest human illusion, which is that of method over goal. Method over goal postulates that if we limit bad methods, it does not matter what our goals are, so “everybody do whatever they want” and “everyone just get along” apply through the timeless method of compromise, which is also known as goal negation because you can no longer have a whole plan or system with compromise; parts are negotiated away, and it becomes something else. That is acceptable for fungible quantities, but not for patterns, architectures, designs, structures, systems or ecosystems. The compromise obliterates the distinctive aspects of the plan.
Control in fact includes anarchy, because anarchy requires that people impose “freedom” on one another, so that each individual has minimal constraints, while also requiring some form of authority in order to maintain productivity. Anarchist communities without that order, even if informal and social, have failed very rapidly, where all the other ones have taken slightly longer to fail.
In fact, realism remains alone as the type of mental approach to escape control. By pointing to an external reality, and not a human source, and admitting that people will not universally or equally perceive this, realism gets out of the business of changing minds in order to enforce a reality. Instead, it lets reality be reality.
When these notions become aired, it makes humans uncomfortable. We must admit, at some level, that all of the evils that we fear in fact dwell within us, and that our natural instincts are to create a social order that will self-destruct. We have no one to blame but ourselves, and our declarations that our leaders misled us were in fact lies; we, as a herd, indulged in fantasy-as-reality, and misled ourselves.
All of those are the opposite of continuity. It does not aim to seize a moment and make it into a rule; it seeks to open up our thinking beyond the moment, and into the chains of cause-effect events. It hopes to show us that every act has parallel options and secondary effects. It desires to expand our world, not contract it for the purpose of manipulating us to validate the pretense of a small group.
Continuity is more than a political philosophy, however. It is an approach to life that both negates the self and recognizes its importance. It sees the necessity of nature and the human inner self. It aspires to make us more than we have been, but to awaken the sleeping potential in us. And most of all, it seeks an order of mathematical and informational balance, in which clarity and efficiency reign.