Abstract submitted to The Language of Ontology, Dublin, Ireland, September 8-10.
Divisions of Everything
Defining the Most Basic Definitions
How can we define the most basic definitions in terms of which all other definitions might be defined? We argue that "divisions of everything" are a nonverbal language of mental activities which evoke sets of perspectives that define fundamental philosophical issues, including definition itself.
We rely on the following types of evidence:
We look for the most basic definitions by thinking most abstractly. If we remove all of the particulars of whatever we are thinking, then what is left? What is left are the relationships between the possible perspectives which we might take. We rely on the fact that our imagination is extremely limited, at least as regards abstract thinking.
For example, in thinking about existence, we need at least two points of view. On the one hand, we need to be able to consider the question of existence: Maybe a chair exists and maybe not. On the other hand, we need to be able to assert an answer: If it exists, then it exists, and if not, then not. In general, we have one point of view where opposites coexist, as in free will, and another point of view, as in fate, where all things are the same. We note that our mind easily slips from a perspective of free will into a perspective of fate, but not the other way around.
We have collected such frameworks. Curiously, there are very few of them. And so we can speak of divisions of everything into two or three or four perspectives. Many philosophers appeal to a three-cycle by which we take a stand, follow through and reflect, as with the scientific method. This is the framework which arises in contemplating issues of participation.
Our mind has four perspectives by which we consider issues of knowledge: Whether, What, How, Why. We experience a cup as a sensory image, What, but also as a mental blueprint, How. But we may also imagine Whether the cup is in a cupboard even when nobody sees it. And when we imagine Why there is a cup, then we suppose that we must know its relationships with absolutely everything.
Our mind is severely limited in how we contemplate such a framework, the division of everything into four perspectives. Materialists consider it in terms of answers about the observed, and so they accept Whether! as most material and reject Why! as unreal. Idealists consider the observer's question, and so they accept Why? as most idealistic and reject Whether? as unreal. Here we see that the foursome, the division of everything into four perspectives, has two representations, which are organized by the twosome, the division of everything into two perspectives.
Similarly, the twosome has four representations. Our minds experience the two perspectives "opposites coexist" and "all things are the same" by making that more concrete as free will vs. fate, outside vs. inside, theory vs. practice, or same vs. different.
Everything itself can be defined in terms of its four properties:
These four properties may be considered the four representations of the onesome, the division of everything into one perspective.
We may also consider God as the division of everything into no perspectives. This nullsome has four representations: significant, constant, direct, true. They are negations of the four levels of knowledge, for example, true is that which can't be hidden, that which negates Whether. And they trigger "mind games" which define distinct circumstances. For example, if we search for constancy, then either we find One example, or All is constantly unconstant. And in searching, what we select is what we judge, which is to say, they are Multiply constant. Such "mind games" define four representations of the threesome: Necessary, Actual, Possible; Object, Process, Subject; One, All, Many; Being, Doing, Thinking.
We have documented eight divisions of everything which may be thought of as the conceptual frameworks for basic philosophical issues: Nullsome for God, onesome for order, twosome for existence, threesome for participation, foursome for knowledge, fivesome for decision-making, sixsome for morality, and sevensome for a self-standing system. Each such division of everything is a set of perspectives that flesh out the relevant issue. We conceive of a division as a whole by appealing to one of six representations: question and answer; everything, anything, something, nothing. And we conceive of a particular perspective of a division through one of twelve circumstances.
The sevensome is a logical square which includes a possibility "there exists what is and there exists what is not" which defines a divided perspective and thus the activity of division and, indeed, definition. An eightsome would include the possibility "all are and all are not", in which case the system is empty, and we have the Nullsome. At the heart of our minds is a closed, finite system by which we experience life as a cycle of eight divisions of everything.