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Ontology

Panexperientialism, as it has been presented here, leads to a hierarchical structure of minds exhibiting a three-level ontology consisting of:

  •  the natural world in which distinct objects of experience enter into relation with each other via the conceived “forces of nature”
  •  the all-in-all entailed by the mutual immanence of the objects of experience
  •  the wholeness implied by that mutual immanence

Note that the wholeness would not admit of this division into levels and so must somehow encompass the entirety of this ontological scheme. This raises the question of how the mode of dividedness and the mode of undividedness can be reconciled, but this can only be a problem in the mode of dividedness since the distinction between dividedness and undividedness is itself an aspect of dividedness. Consequently, from the human perspective, this presents a problem that is insurmountable even in principle - i.e. this is a case of recreational metaphysics. But it would be remiss of me to omit the fact that just such an idea of ineffable wholeness is at the core of many of the world’s spiritual systems. Indeed this three-level ontology is strikingly reminiscent of that of Plotinus. Every instantiation of consciousness manifests as a perspective from the centre of the objective world inhabited by its associated object, so panexperientialism would entail a cosmology in which it could be said (paraphrasing Plotinus) that “the centre is everywhere and the outermost boundaries are nowhere”. The entire all-in-all is in constant flux and conceptually divides into distinct processes, some moving in an “upward” or “radially inward” direction (growth) and others in a “downward” or “radially outward” direction (decay), somewhat analogous to convection cells in a heated fluid. Plotinus similarly describes the dynamics of the all-in-all as “procession from the One” and “return to the One”, and he goes on to describe the all-in-all quite strikingly as “boiling with life”. Additionally the idea of just such an all-in-all is the defining feature of the Chinese Huayan school of Buddhism (Japanese Kegon school), which finds its way into Hinduism as the bejewelled “Net of Indra”. 

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