meditation 2: identifying the reality type of the experiencer
the thought experiments of the previous meditation revealed that common linguistic habits postulate two reality types possibly useful in defining the structure of the human individual. I2 then specified the useage of 'existence' and 'being' to eliminate ambiguity when talking about these reality types. in contrast to 'existence' and 'being', 'amness' does not attribute a reality type. when I2 say 'I2 am', I2 assert only that i am real; meaning, that I2 am a reality of some sort. I2 am deeply startled by this insight: knowing that I2 am real does not tell me what sort of reality I2 am.
am I2 a being or an existing thing? am I2 a phenomenon rather than a thing? if so, then, am I2 a phenomenon produced by I1 (my brain, an existing object) or by I3 (a mind or soul or being) or by the interaction of the two? am I2 something analogous to a virtual particle that which mediates the interaction between I1 and I3? am I2 something else entirely?
I2 resolve to identify the reality type, if any, that I2 may attribute to I2. as a first step, I2 will inventory the possibilities.
§1: what are the choices?
I2 am experiencing a mild temptation to attribute to I2 one of the reality types I2 have already defined; but, I2 must suspend that urge for the moment; for, while existence and being are defined as mutually exclusive, they may or may not be collectively exhaustive. I2 must consider the concepts that I2 have for additional reality types: virtual realities and phenomenological realities.
§1.1: virtual realities
physicists use the phrase 'virtual particle' in two ways. it can refer to particles that emerge spontaneously from the vaccuum of space but which persist for such a short period of time that they are not directly detectable. their reality can only be inferred from their effects on other particles. virtual particles don't have sufficient energy to acquire existence; but, are considered real because they have measurable effects on particles that do have existence.
physicists also resolve forces into particles at the smallest level. so, when it appears that particles are influencing each other thru one of the basic forces of nature, for example, the electromagnetic force, physicists say that the particles exchange the virtual particle that mediates the force involved in the interaction. in the case of the electromagnetic force it is the photon.
in any event, one can readily see how the language of virtual particles can be a rich source of metaphors that may be applied to the I2. the I2 might be described as a virtual reality because, in some theories, it emerges spontaneously from the I1 (the brain), persists for a time but is not directly detectable and then vanishes without a trace. possibly more fruitful is the second useage. one might describe the I2 as a virtual reality that mediates the interaction between the I1 and the I3. in either case it is not clear whether a literal description would be as the metaphor suggests.
in any event, the question at the moment is: do virtual particles constitute a separate reality type or are they existential realities? since virtual particles are required by mathematical theories of physics and since physicists can study them, it is difficult to say that they are not existential realities.1 however, classifying them as existential realities would mean that I2 would need to create sub-types within the existential reality type to acknowledge the difference between virtual and actual existential realities: actual existential realities can be detected whereas the presence of virtual existential realities can only be inferred from their effect on actual existential realities.
§1.2: phenomenonlogical realities
phenomenological realities would come in two subtypes:
experienced reality - that which is phenomenologically real irregardless of other considerations; that which is experienced by an experiencer.
experiencing reality - a reality that is capable of experiencing; an experiencer.
a vision of a unicorn, considered only as an experience, is a phenomenological reality, a real experience irregardless of its origin; irregardless of whether it has a cause or a meaning (or both or neither); irregardless of its relation to an entity of another reality type that is alleged to 'cause', 'create', 'generate' or otherwise 'account for' it; irregardless of whether it is a hallucination rather than a perception, an eruption of spiritual insight, a dream or whatever; irregardless of whether or not the experienced reality has a correlated reality of another reality type such as an existential reality (a living animal) or an ontological reality (a metaphenomenal being or an ideal Form) or whatever; and, so on.
suppose, for example, that an experiencer reports experiencing a conversation in which a unicorn told him that people should stop polluting the environment that we share with 'the last herd'. suppose further that an investigation reveals that the experiencer took a hallucinogenic drug shortly before experiencing this conversation. we can reasonably claim that the experienced conversation was a hallucinated conversation; yet, it would remain a real experience, an experience of a genuine hallucination.
in knowing that I2 am, I2 know that I2 am a reality of some sort. in experiencing knowing that I2 am a reality of some sort, I2 know that I2 am capable of experiencing and that I2 do experience. thus, I2 know that I2 am an experiencing reality. in experiencing an image or vision of a unicorn, I2 am an experiencing reality and it is an experienced reality.
§1.3: relations between reality types
it seems intuitively obvious that an experienced reality must have a correlated experiencing reality; and that an experienced reality may have, but need not have, an existential or ontological correlate.
suppose our hallucinating experiencer sees a unicorn driving a car to a phenomenology convention. even assuming that the experience was completely hallucinatory (ie that no car drove by the experiencer at the time of the hallucination), we could say that the experienced reality of the hallucinated car has an existential correlate --- automobiles can be perceived as well as hallucinated. thus, an experienced reality may have an existential or ontological correlate; but, since I2 might imagine any of the fantastic creatures of world mythology, an experienced reality need not have an existential or ontological correlate.
the relation between experienced realities and correlated existential realities is not fixed. 500 years ago, philosophers living in Europe might have imagined a black swan and concluded that this experiential reality had no existential correlate. Years later, explorers returned from Australia and reported having found black swans there. so, the black swan has an existential correlate after all --- at least for now. It might become extinct or evolve into something else. Some enterprising biologist might then recreate the black swan from DNA samples in long-term cold storage.
the relation between experienced realities and (allegedly) correlated ontological realities is controversial because the is profound and long-lasting disagreement over whether there are ontological entities at all. for example, the dispute over whether mathematical entities have a reality independent of the mathematician who experiences them has raged at least since Plato argued that they do.
the relation between experiencing realities and existential and/or ontological realities is more problematic; and, I2 must wonder:
is it ever possible to have an experiencing reality, an experiencer, that is not associated with at least one reality of another reality type?
as I2 imagine a herd of unicorns grazing in a sunny meadow, I2 realize full well that I2, the experiencing reality, am the origin of the experienced reality. but, what is the origin of I2, this experiencing reality? at this point in my meditations, I2 can not account for the origin of I2; although, I2 accept that I2 must have an origin.
§2: preview of next meditation
in the next meditation, I2 will consider the question of the origin of the I2.
: indeed, if we were to say that virtualities are not existential realities, we'd be in the peculiar position of saying that a virtuality spends its entire lifetime interacting with existential realities without ever acquiring existential reality on its own. [Back]