Matt Gemmell

My new book CHANGER is out now!

An action-adventure novel — book 1 in the KESTREL series.

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Metaphysics

Personal 3 min read

Vinay posted some thoughts on the nature of metaphysical phenomena. Here are some of my own thoughts in response.

He said:

... while many of us subscribe to the purely physical interpretation of the world, there are incedents[sic] that cannot necessarily be explained away by it. The original discussion talked about uncharacteristically experiencing a person's death, when that person is no-where near to you, or even when the death is unexpected.

I understand that this is very common. It’s certainly fully accepted by my own family. Whenever any of us believed we’d caught a a fleeting glimpse of someone known to us, in a place where they couldn’t possibly be, we’d always immediately take steps to check up on that person, mostly to make sure they were alright (and indeed still alive).

This was always seen as clearly the sensible thing to do; there was no embarrassment or rationalisation involved.

Could it be possible that our unconscious minds are processing things like magnetic fields and interference of that sort? Could it be possible that after spending such a long time with said person, we can distinguish their "field" over someone else's, or even out of noise? If this were the case, then since magnetic fields have theoretically infinite range it is possible that our minds notice when something changes about that field, or it ceases to exist.

Hmm. As good a theory as any, which doesn’t say much. The primary thought summoned up by reading the above is that it’s just another example of using the supposedly established principles and building-blocks of mainstream science to explain everything. Why does the explanation for something we cannot currently understand have to be in terms of principles with which we’re already familiar? This is the grand folly of science throughout the ages.

When it all comes down to it, nothing but supreme arrogance could bring about this mostly-unspoken but almost universally-held belief that we’ve reached some kind of plateau of discovery, where we’ve uncovered all the rudiments of reality, and now need only work out all the ways in which they can be combined and observed. I can’t help but think of the elaborate explanations posited for the observed circumpolar constellations before it was accepted that the Earth was not flat.

Meta-physical phenomena can, in my humble opinion, can mostly be explained in the physical world by areas of research we haven't explored or explored deeply enough yet.

What does that mean, though? I subscribe to the view that everything is understandable, and thus, after a fashion, can be “explained” in some way - in the sense that the gained understanding can be passed to another. That isn’t saying a great deal, though. My working definition of “understandable” is also very different from that of mainstream science.

I don’t believe that everything can be quantified and formalised, and expressed in terms of equations. Not because the universe isn’t inherently mathematical - it certainly seems to be - but rather because of burgeoning interdependency and interconnectedness. Nor do I really know what “the physical world” is in this context (or at all). If it’s the accepted 3-dimensions-plus-time continuum popularised by mainstream science, then I think both that (1) humanity is ingenious enough to retrofit just about any theory to any newly-discovered phenomenon anyway, and (2) that that assumption once again commits the grand folly of science.

Surely, when theorising about the very nature of reality - true metaphysical speculation - to assert that the ultimate answer will be explainable in terms of current models is to invalidate the debate?

We often as a society (western in general) try to explain away these phenomenon into the physical world, a physical world of our understanding. What is to say that this physical world is the right view of the world? Every time that men (not to be male chauvinist or anything) have though that the physical world has been completely understood, they end up finding something that destroys a significant portion of their understanding of the universe.

Well exactly. So what are you on about? :)

Aleister Crowley (“of all people!”, I can hear you say), once said this:

The universe is a projection of ourselves; an image as unreal as that of our faces in a mirror... We cannot affirm any quality in an object as being independent of our sensorium, or as being in itself that which it seems to us. Nor can we assume that what we cognize is more than a partial phantom of its cause.

Of course, the ultimate nature and grand truth of the universe - that which explains all, from physics, chemistry and biology, to ESP, near-death experiences and flying saucers; from quantum phenomena and black holes to bad luck, coincidence and magic - can be fully explained very easily indeed. In English, for example, the explanation is just two words.

Nor is it new knowledge, by any means. Adepts, philosophers and scholars of all types through the ages have periodically stumbled upon it. Not so much a Grand Theory of Everything as a Grand Fact of Everything.

What those two words are, as has always been the case throughout history, is left as an exercise for the reader.