The purpose of this paper is to combine in thought the intellectual development of man, particularly with respect to philosophy and religion, with the findings of the theory of evolution. In doing so, the idea that man’s capability of reason is, from a functional viewpoint, a result of evolution, will be taken seriously, and the particular stages of this development will be made apparent. The proposal is: metaphysic arises out of an enhanced selection on neural basis in the transition from understanding to reason.
If metaphysic is a product of reason, then what has to be clarified first is what reason is and how it arrives at bringing forth something like metaphysic. Therefore, a model of the human mind has to be established that will show the connection between the activities of the human brain on neural basis and the history of cultural development. When we consider life from an evolutionary and from a phylogenetic viewpoint, we will, above all, discover quality-enhancing major brain mutations that we can observe with respect to the brain’s transfer capacity in the ‘chain’ of instinct, emotion, understanding and reason, and, in a more externally visible chain such as that of the categories of insects, reptiles, mammals and man. The essence of all of these quality-enhancing major brain mutations lies in the possibility of – by means of each respective newly developed capability and its mode of interpretation – entering into a qualitatively new way of communicating with the world. All possibility of communication and interpretation is only possible due to the fact that, first of all, differences exist, and that that which is identical repeats itself in that which is different. If all that exists would only consist of identical concepts, then that which is alike would not be repeated in that which is different; there would never have existed any development. And thus even still our own human capabilities such as feeling, ‘plain understanding/common sense’ and reason are based on this fact of the repetition of that which is alike in that which is different. In this development in the quality enhancement of the human (brain) capabilities, the comparative processes become increasingly abstract and synthetic.
‘Plain understanding/common sense’ is a means of blocking ‘emotion’, just as ‘emotion’ is a means of blocking instinct; in this transition, human feelings develop in the form of ‘emotion’ that is transformed into ‘plain understanding/common sense’. What is new in understanding is its method of storing (of information or data): while the ‘emotional memory’ works by conditioning itself on the basis of the sensory data of one sense and a genetically and individually conditioned set of values, understanding/ combines the ‘pictographic’ structure of sensory data of various sensory organs (or: means of sensory perception) and connects them with a language/audio component. It only stores a value on the basis of this combination of ‘manifold pictogram’ and sound, and thus ‘things’ become apparent to consciousness. Thus, understanding is developed in the independent vertical conditioning of various sensory/sensual representation(s) together with a language representation, as an independent development of the brain: out of it arises ‘the concept’. Language, grammar and understanding are formed as an inseparable entity, for, as understanding, grammar is the ‘conquering of the world’ by means of language. With this, for humans, the world is separated into the understanding subject and the understood object.
Reason uses the old methods, just one step more synthetically, for it, in turn, takes note for itself of that which is alike in that which is different. However, its original or raw material is the data of ‘plain understanding/common sense’, just as ‘plain understanding/common sense’ developed out of the ‘data of emotion’. By immediately combining sensory data, understanding can always only see the individual thing; it finds its satisfaction in the quantitative use on the basis or the moral of the own group (the ‘will to have’). Reason is different: it conditions for itself the pictogram of understanding by separating it from the sensory/sensual differences as essence under one concept, guided by its unique and own evaluation that is qualitatively different from understanding’s evaluation, namely as ethics, with a view to all of humanity (the ‘will to be/to exist’) – and precisely at this point, metaphysic emerges.
This rather accidentally or incidentally established term from the text arrangement of Aristotle’s work proves itself, however, surprisingly fitting, for, when reason deals with the data of understanding it actually works ‘after’, ‘besides’ and ‘above’ the ‘physically real’, in essence, it does not exist in nature, rather, it makes use of the pictogram which is based on the recognition capacity of understanding.
The pre-Socratean thinkers applied this process of ‘searching for essence’ to nature and thus traced existence back to one basic principle each, such as, for example, water, fire, earth or air. The sophistic thinkers drew conclusions from the view of the essence of human society and, based on each pre-supposed point-of-departure, they arrived at entirely diverging views. Socrates, in taking the ‘Delphic oracle’, ‘gnoti se auton’, seriously, took the next step with which he sent man on his way to becoming ‘civilized western man’. This meant nothing less than that he asked for the essence of man. In order to really understand what I know and that I want, I first have to learn to understand what and how I can know and want. On this basis, Socrates was still justified in saying that realization equals virtue and that knowledge equals ‘wanting’. However, Socrates’ dialectics are not yet able to take this step directly; rather, he was regulated purely negatively in a searching/tentative manner by the voice of reason, which meant that this voice always advised him n o t to proceed rather than to proceed. The reason for this is that, as one can see in his ‘Aporias’, the transition of the brain’s transfer capacity from understanding to reason has not yet been successfully implemented, from an evolutionary-neural point-of-view; this path was only opened by Plato and Aristotle. ‘Phylogenetically speaking’, reason’s brain transfer capacity was established with Plato – in his words: Philosophers shall be Kings. From this ‘punctum saliens’ on, he turned dialectics into ‘Dihairese’ (1): The indvidiual (concept) has to be arrived at/determined in a view of the essence of the general (concept), the ‘idea of the good, beautiful and true’ appeared as the ‘summum bonum’ of reason, out of which then emerged ethics, actual philsophy, and, finally, the highest forms of religion (2).
In Aristotle’s words, "everywhere where there is something better, there is also something that is the most perfect. Since amongst that which exists, one is better than the other, there must, consequently, be something that is the most perfect and this is the divine (3). It was also Aristotle who, as ‘form’, transferred or transposed the platonic ‘idea’ from transcendence into immanence, "If we imagine for ourselves a human being or a pedestrian, we imagine for ourselves a ‘concept of being’ and not an individual (representative of that ‘concept of being’). For, even if individual things (representatives of concepts) die/go asunder, the concept of them remains. Thus it is clear that, next to sensually perceptible individual ‘things’ there exists something that we imagine, irregardless of whether those things exist or not; for, in imagining those concepts, were are not imagining something that does not exist: that is the form and the idea" (4). Here, Aristotle described the abstraction of the capacity of reason ‘in nuce’, which separates the ‘forms’ that are provided by understanding and its individual perception and merely takes notice for itself of those pictograms as to their essence and which then exclusively deals with the ‘essence’ – and with this, metaphysic begins. However, the term ‘essence’ is today and thus also here, as opposed to Plato’s and Aristotle’s ‘ousia’, not used as a term that is burdened with meaning as an ontological term, but rather as a ‘functional’ term.
When we, at the turn of the year 2000, speak of an ‘end of metaphysic’, then, in retrospective, the path from its beginning with the pre-Socratean thinkers to us, can be considered the arc of metaphysic. This arc was filled, in the reception and reflection of reason, by the teachings of philosophy, for ‘ratio’, and, by the highest forms of religion, for existentiality. Its zenith and that what we, today, term as the ‘turning point of time’ had, naturally, arrived for metaphysic, at the moment of transition of the brain’s transfer capacity to reason, thus with the truly event-shaping ‘Greek troika’ and with the highest forms of religion such as Buddhism and Christianity. With this, reason’s view of the essence of the world became historically effective, and the viewpoints of understanding were turned upside down: in the self-active transition of the brain transfer capacity to reason which now ‘takes over’, the ‘summum bonum’ takes on its own life.
What is, then, metaphysic? Metaphysic is when reason, in its reception and reflection, transfers ‘essence’ into existence, thus ‘ideas’ and ‘eternal forms’, which it, through the perception of understanding’s recognition of isolated patterns, elevates to the open level of reason, as ‘essence’. Therefore, truth in the ancient Greek language is called ‘a-letheir’ – in this word formation, it is significant to observe that the ancient Greeks did not experience the ‘essential truth’ of reason as a ‘reflecting abstraction’, but rather as a ‘receiving/receptive abolition of the concealment of true existence’, identical with Plato’s ‘re-remembering’ and to the stepping-stones of realization in the so-called ‘cave parable’ (5) and in the ‘Symposium’ (6). Reason conditions the thus gained understanding of ‘essence’ for itself under its own terms and, with this, enhances the sensory-bound existence that is perceptive to understanding, in its elevation to the ‘essence of being’ in reason, ethically, ideally and in new religiosity, with its own intensity. This enhancement has to be separated into:
1. correct, qualitative enhancements of inter-relations by reason in the communication of existence, in referring back to the data of understanding and in thus uncovering ‘essential terms’;
2. fantastic idealizations, be it with respect to religion, be it with respect to ‘mind’, when reason, without any basis, loses itself in unsupported speculations in the data of understanding.
Since the transition of reception to the reflection of reason through the ‘triumvirate’ of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the value of existence is being/existence as partaking in the ‘summum bonum’. Values are no longer identical with the purposes of understanding that have been idolized in the myths; rather, they are elevated above these as ideals. In myths, man has idolized himself and the world as it appeared to him from the viewpoint of his understanding; in the metaphysic of reason, man idolizes his own ‘ideal image’ of himself and ‘the essence of the world’, as it is shown in reason. The first expression of this movement was classical Greek art, in which humanity and the ideal ‘appear’ to be unified. The second step was the sole reliance on the ‘introspective’, caused by the movement and inner experience of the transition of the brain transfer capacity to reason; this finds its expression, from a phylogenetic viewpoint, as an entirely new and different outlook as opposed to the outlook of understanding. Did not Socrates and Jesus appear like madmen to their contemporaries? Based on the absolute concept of the ‘view of essence’ that has been brought about by the transition to the brain transfer capacity to reason, through Plato, the ‘Stoa’, Christianity and ‘Neo-Plantonism’, reason (as capacity) boughs down before the ‘summum bonum’ in the highest forms of religion: the viewed absolute concept of ‘God’ and the real salvation are ‘beyond’ this world, ‘sanctity’ is spiritualized from the more outer common religious rituals for the Gods of understanding to the individual standing before and the spiritualized relationship to One God.
Classical Greek thinking still goes out from the assumption of a participation in the absolute in the ‘here and now’, be it as assimilation in the participation in the idea (Plato), be it as realization of the ‘form’ as ‘entelechia’ (Aristotle) – in ‘levels of participation’, man rises to the level of divine contemplation. With the break-through of the spiritualization as the process of reaon’s becoming ‘self-conscious’, these ‘levels’ of ‘worldly assimilation’ are transformed into an unbridgeable gap between the ‘other-worldly’ ‘summum bonum’ and man. Psychologically, this can be explained from the fact that man cannot attribute this break-through of the ‘self-consciousness of reason’ to himself – thus even Plato already spoke of the ‘burning of a divine spark’; also here belong the descriptions of the mystics with respect to ‘unio mystica’ (7). The individual break-through of the transition to the brain transfer capacity of reason in the ‘experiencing’ individual ‘appears’ to be caused by a ‘superior’ ‘outer-worldly’ force, which also Aristotle describes explicitly as the ‘divine’. The ‘here and now’ of this world is, from such a viewpoint that was already established in Sophism and with Plato, de-valued as a limitation of the existing that is wanting in existence, as baseless illusion. With Buddha, Jesus and with Neo-Platonism, this view becomes the ruling spiritual view. For the world that has thus been deprived of its ‘value’, there remains only ‘compassion’, because, from this viewpoint, all existence finds itself in the same baseless, undignified situation. The ‘true value’ of life, as it refers to this world, is transferred to a ‘beyond’.
Therefore, this presented theory is uncovering the fantastic-unreal contents of metaphysic and its origin to, on the other hand, add to the phylogenetic process of development, its results, as far as they stem from a legitimate application of reason. Reason, brings in the values it notes for itself on the basis of the data of understanding into existence and into its tradition, and with this ‘being brought in’, these values receive just as much reality as the utilitarian emotional values of understanding once received. Even today, the latter are still, a priori, experienced as ‘true’ and ‘alive’, that the emotional prejudices of understanding all-too-often outweigh judgment based on reason. As an important proof of this categorical perception and differentiation between understanding should be mentioned the appearance of ‘conscience’. Demokrit’s ‘syneidesis’, thus the ‘combined awareness’, delineates the presence of two different ‘voices’, which, in light of a certain set of facts, come to two different forms of judgement: it is reason in its view of the ‘essence’ which ‘reports in’ as the newer and higher capacity, and which thus overshadows the desires of ‘emotion’ for lust respective the desires of understanding for power and use and which subjugates these to its own set of values, thus to ethics or to the requirements of the highest forms of religion. In this, the ethical values are to be considered ‘steadfast’ and ‘irremovable’, for they are values of reason that have been derived from the ‘equal’ ‘essence’ of all human beings, as much as our ‘emotional values’ are to be considered ‘steadfast’, which are values of understanding. The ‘good’ is that which, in reason, on the basis of this ‘equal’ ‘essence’ appears as ‘right.
Above all, a ‘theory of metaphysic’ has to show what metaphysic represents in the system of the human mind, and that it is a necessary activity of this mind: it is the arc, how, in each state of reception and reflection of reason the ‘condition of being/existence’ as a whole and the open questions that arise out of man’s unawareness of reason, becomes apparent, and it is thus a parallel to the myths of understanding. Myths have the same function for understanding as metaphysic for reason: searchingly and-projecting, to close the open arc. The receptive opening-up of the new (brain) capability makes this arc apparent with nature philosophy and dialectics and fills it up. In the transition of the brain transfer capability to reason which can be historically and functionally addressed as ‘dihairese’ with Plato and Aristotle as well as existentially with the highest forms of religion and the ‘turn of our times’, metaphysic of reason experiences itself as independent center, which subsequently unloaded itself in the reflective philosophy since Descartes in the reflection on its capability (cogito, ergu sum). In this process, reason gives birth, as a counter-movement to this ‘unloading, emptying out of existential spirituality’ and in its relying on itself as ‘capacity of reason’ constantly new false forms of metaphysic, as, for example, German idealism and its equation of human mind and ‘reaon of the world’, the ‘superhuman’ of Nietzsche in the ‘eternal recurrence of the similar’, or the special relationship of the ‘German mind’ to ‘existence as such’ as with Fichte and Heidegger.
Metaphyic as ‘uncovering of the essence’ is, above all, also an ‘establishment of the realm of reason’, as the ‘realm of understanding is that of utility and use. It (metaphysic) is thus particularly identical with the ‘mysterious realm’ (8) of eternal truth of objective nature, of truths that are not bound to a subject but are always in effect. The objective existence (of these truth) is based on the ‘similarity’ of pictographic abstraction, in which reason cleanses the ‘similar essence’ of the individualities of understanding and in which it conditions this essence for itself under its own terms: that which is right is that which is good.
With questions as to ‘existence’ and as to ‘meaning’, however, it is different: the first question asks for the ‘real’ existence of being – what thus would be ‘essential existence’ of all that exists, including man, above and beyond the empirical view of understanding and above and beyond the ‘essential view’ of reason. The question as to ‘existence’ is asked with the awareness that ‘existence’ is more than our limited capabilities in the ‘normal communication of existence’ show. The ‘existence of capabilities’ is always an ‘equal existence’, the existence of living spirituality is always communication in the form of ‘release and dismissal’. Therefore, the first form of existence is always ‘predicative’, since every capability of existence consists of stating equality, similarity or inequality of perception and conditioning. The existence of living spirituality is the ex-sistence: the active and passive process of being released into the communication of the existing, which utilizes the predicative ‘equal existence’ of the capabilities (of existence).
And thus the question as to the ‘meaning’ of existence points towards man and through his communication with the world also to all that exists: for what end it exists. Therefore, the questions as to the ‘meaning’ of existence will, ‘a priori’, always be a metaphysical question, because the ‘meaning’ of existence, for the limited capabilities of that which exists – and only in this form does that which exists exist – can never be finally evaluated. The answer to the question as to the ‘meaning’ of existence is always a hypothetical risk, an ‘existential’ reliance on it, thus, a ‘belief’. The question as to the ‘meaning’ of existence has to be separated into two areas:
- For what purpose is that which is found in existence present, and how can that which is found in existence, according to the questioning capability, ‘best’ be arranged? Insofar, this deals with ethics in the communication of the various capabilities of being/existence.
- For what purpose is that which exists in existence in the first place, what is the ‘reason for being’? ‘Reason’ is meant here in a double-meaning of ‘origin’ and ‘goal’, as ‘alpha’ and ‘omega’. Insofar, the questions as to the ‘meaning’ of existence belongs to the existential communication of man who refers to this ‘numinous basis’ of that which exists.
The first questions as to meaning is thus directed towards immanence and ethics, the second towards transcendence and that, what used to be described as ‘the holy’, as ‘sanctity’. To transcend means to ‘step beyond’. ‘Stepping beyond’ is, physically speaking, a higher capability of transfer of function within immanence. What leads to this elevation will here, for the purpose of concrete explanation of the sphere of living spirituality, be called ‘elan vital (e.v.) (9), and the transcending transfer of the ‘transfer capability’ in the chain of predicative ‘capabilities’ also as e.v. migratio. Its latest product is, so far, metaphysic in all of its forms. Since, however, terms, all-too-easily, take on ‘a life of their own’, such as, for example, the term ‘soul’, and since one even searches for the ‘location’ of such materially misunderstood developments of ‘lives of their own’, here, elan vital and its migratio shall be presented by means of an image, since it can not be grasped just as the term ‘soul’ cannot be grasped. Rather is that, what is here called ‘elan vital’, always inseparably tied to ‘capabilities’. Each capability is a synthetic form of reaction and action of the ‘interior’ towards the ‘exterior’, whereby the ‘interior’ learns from the ‘exterior’, as the ‘exterior’ lends itself to the ‘interior’ for this learning process in its equal or similar repetition on the basis of these two factors. Since, however, the synthetic nature of communication increases from the ‘exterior’ towards the ‘interior’, and since the connection between the ‘exterior’ and the center of communication becomes ‘indirect’, the lively connection between the ‘exterior’ and the ‘interior’ has to be kept up. For this, a synthetic center on the basis of neuronal function is needed: the ‘one unit’ of being which is separated from other forms of being necessarily requires that the leading synthetic communication capability is ‘set inside’ with the ‘synthetic center’. The image of this being ‘set inside’ is the sphere or ball. What we, based on ‘scientific proof’, contend for galaxies, stars, planets and gravitation, that also holds true for ourselves: it is the nature of the sphere, to transmit into itself, within its environment, by means of its outer shell; its effect on its environment and the effects of its environment on it appear thus, ‘as if’ they come from the ‘inner center’ as the center of the sphere and ‘as if’ they have an effect on its center. Center and surface/outer shell are thus two components of the sphere, and yet, the sphere is one, one completely closed ‘unit’. Likewise, it is with the ‘capabilities of existence’ and with the ‘elan vital’. These layered capabilities, from instinct to reason, which connect each living being with the ‘exterior’ and which communicate with it, trans-mit to the center this ‘exterior’, in that these capabilities interpret the sensory data. The e.v.-center is nothing else but that center of activity of the sphere which, in man, we term as the ‘I/Ego’ of understanding, the ‘I/Ego’ of reason respectively, in double-reflection, ‘I/Ego- I/Ego’, to which the organism man, by means of his respectively operating capability, relates his experiences and actions. From the concentration of the ‘ego-center’ he gains his ‘strength’, and from it he works his deeds. This center is just as much an ‘as-if’, just as much function, as is the mass center of stars – and yet, both are, in their form, quite real: as centers of activity. All that is in this world, is, in a ‘transferred’ sense of such a shape of a ‘sphere’, and thus, of such ‘duality in unity’. This swaying between the two poles of the unit is, for example, already apparent in light, in that it behaves, on the one hand, as a wave (energy - elan vital), on the other hand, as corpuscle (mass-surface) – which, to this day, has not yet been reconciled in a ‘unified approach’ to it, but which can, thus far, only be understood in this ‘duality’.
Every type of human being can be understood from the interplay of his capabilities and of the seat of the ‘sphere’ of his ‘interior’. The epigenetic development of the human mind brings forth, according to inclination, environment and its tradition, individually quite different ‘interior networks’ of ‘layers of capabilities’ between emotion, ‘plain understanding’ and reason. This leads necessarily to a diverging centering of the ‘Ego’ and thus, humans follow either their instincts, their emotions, their utilitarian needs, their ideals, sanctity, or, in chameleon-like fashion, each of this category at the same time. That the majority of humans are, even today, still conditioned by ‘plain understanding/common sense’ rather than by reason, can already be seen alone in the fact that superstition, thus mythical concepts of understanding are far more spread out than metaphysical concepts of reason. This is also evident in all higher forms of religion that are based on reason, which were forced, in order to gain a broad footing, to absorb in themselves all forms of understanding type of superstitions and which they still incorporate today. However, it is the task of the individual to free himself, by reflection, from fantasizing forms of metaphysic of reason as well as from superstition of understanding, but also from the dependence of instinct. In view of the overall intellectual development of mankind and its tradition, this has already happened, although the overwhelming majority can not even observe this, yet. The existential metaphysic of reason, be it in form of religion or philosophy, has been ‘emptied out/unloaded’ my means of reason’s self-reflection and is stranded at nihilism: "God is dead" (10), naked utilitarianism rages around the ‘golden calf’ as global capitalism. For with the false dogmas, one has also abandoned the central truth of the metaphysic of Christianity, the ‘double commandment’ (Matthew, 22). What does the commandment to ‘love God’ want to teach us other than to ‘keep sacred’ the goal of our existence as the transcendence of being, above and beyond ourselves? And what it the commandment ‘to love our neighbors as we love ourselves’ other than the consequent adherence and ‘putting into action’ of the realization of reason that all human beings are ‘equal’? The double commandment of the New Testament can thus be interpreted as the ‘reasonable’ realization of the functional principle of evolution: the "Yes" to the enhancement the can be seen in all that is living, thus the transcendence of being, by means of mutation and selection on the basis of the ‘balance’ of the forces of nature. And, also from a neuronal point of view, metaphysic and the highest forms of religion are a result of evolution – the result of what, after all? For the capability to view the essential can be derived from the phylogeny and from the epigenetic development of the human brain; epigenetic development is the continuation of evolution in the single life form by means or neuronal selection. This means that the, in man, principally constantly progressing, increasing ‘brain network creation’ follows along those neuronal networks of the human brain that have proven themselves as ‘functionally viable’, while those networks that have proven ‘functionally not viable’, are being discarded. The reception and reflection levels of ‘plain understanding/common sense’ and of reason can be derived from the constantly increasing epigenetic development of ‘brain networking’ and to the transition of brain transfer capabilities through these neuronal networks. The categorical enhancement of the capabilities of the human mind and the increase of the neuronal networking of his brain are interrelated and inter-dependent. This interrelationship and inter-dependence is complemented by our capability to transform our functional and evaluating ‘terms’ to adapt them to each category: If that which is pleasant to emotion, and it that which is ‘useful’ to ‘plain understanding/common sense’, then, in parallel, this holds true for reason: that which is right is good. When, at first, the capability of reason in its receptions, dialectically determines the ‘right’ as the ‘good’, so, in turn, subsequent to such transfer and in reflection, it is the new center of the "ego’ which makes the good to the basis of the right: That which is equal in nature deserves of that which is equal to it. This basic principle of all justice – and with it of the ‘good’ of reason, stands in diametrical opposition to the right of ‘plain understanding/common sense’ and its ‘utility. The year 1789 marks, for western tradition, the break-through of this ‘reflective’ principle of the essence of reason: Liberty, equality, brotherhood. Today, this principle has been terminated in the reality of a utilitarian ‘neo-liberalism’, and reason is abused for the purposes of ‘plain understanding/common sense’, without adhering to the values of reason: the unreasonable end of metaphysic.
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( 1 ) ancient Greek: dihairein – to separate, to allocate, to interpret, to decide
( 2 ) To this subject, see also the work of the author in Aufklaerung & Kritik 1/1996 "Was ist Dialektik?" with extensive Quotations from the antique authors.
( 3 ) Aristotle, Fragmentum 16
( 4 ) Aristotle, Fragmentum 187
( 5 ) Plato, Politeia 514 a (and following)
( 6 ) Plato, Symposium 209 e 6 (and following)
( 7 ) see, above all, Master Eckehart; as sample should be mentioned his "Sonnengleichnis" (Sun Parable) in Sermon 26.
( 8 ) Peter Singer, Praktische Ethic, 2nd ed., 1994, p. 23
( 9 ) This term has been borrowed from Henri Bergson ("Die beiden Quellen der Moral und der Religion", Walter-Verlag, Olten 1980), does, however, as "Lebensschwung" (life force) not refer to anything mystical, but rather, in an evolutionary context, to the principle of life per se, which elevates itself in the various forms of existence of that which exists (from curds to life) and with the capabilities of living creatures.
( 10 ) Nietzsche, Die Froehliche Wissenschaft, 3rd volume, no. 125
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