Beyond Theism and Nihilism
Ch. 1. Renewing Atheism
Much contemporary atheism is stuck in Plato's cave. This is also Nietzsche's cave, which is filled with the shadows of God. And while twilight atheists don't believe in God, they still believe in his shadows. They are cultural theists who endorse theistic if-then chains which bind valuable things to God. Twilight atheists agree with theists that if there is no God, then: there is no objective meaning to life; there is no objective morality; there is no cosmic meaning or purpose; there is no modal or mathematical objectivity; there is no life after death; and there are no deities and no things with any divine attributes. Twilight atheism is nihilism. Atheistic Platonists seek to overcome both theism and twilight atheism. We aim to construct new cultures which depend neither on theism nor on its nihilistic negation.
Ch. 2. Starting at the Bottom
Platonic metaphysics aims to provide an ultimate account of the entire structure of being. This account cannot begin with any existing thing, but instead begins with the Platonic Zero, which is non-being. But non-being is pure negativity. Following Peirce and Heidegger, atheoplatonists say that non-being negates itself. By negating itself, the Zero generates the One, which is being-itself. Acting through the existential quantifier, the One is pure giving -- it gives existence to all the beings. In the beginning is the One, and the One is the earth, and the One is in the earth. Buried in the earth, the One is the hidden root of the tree of beings. From the earth, all things emerge. Ancient Platonists and modern pagans build altars, and the One is the power in every altar. The One eliminates all logical negativities and maximizes all logical positivities. By maximizing logical positivity, it defines an unsurpassable structure of beings.
Ch. 3. The One Emanates the Forms
As the self-negation of non-being, the One is also the self-affirmation of being. It therefore generates an unsurpassable system of beings. Just as the One emerged from the emptiness of the abyss, so objects emerge from the One. These objects are structured by the simplest generative relation, namely, membership. Since the objects that participate in membership are classes, the One emanates rank after rank of ever more complex classes. The surpassable classes are the sets, and atheistic Platonists say the forms are set-theoretic structures. Acting through the quantifiers in that class theory than which none greater is logically possible, the One generates an unsurpassable totality of classes. Atheistic Platonists modify the Anselmian ontological argument for God to produce an ontological argument for this unsurpassable totality.
Ch. 4. The Cosmic Forms
The One generates the forms, which are set-theoretic structures. Some of these satisfy the requirements for physicality. These are abstract universes, they are cosmic forms. The concept of a cosmic form is illustrated with five cosmic forms, running from simple to more complex. These are an empty universe, a linear universe, a simple computational universe, the cellular automaton game of life, and our universe. All possible universes have cosmic forms, and the class of cosmic forms is the modal library. Every cosmic form has some degree of physical detail. Detail stratifies the modal library into floors: cosmic forms with greater detail go on higher floors. But cosmic forms can also be ranked by value. Some forms are improvements of others, and the treasury is the collection of all cosmic forms which are generated entirely by improvement.
Ch. 5. The World Tree
When any abstract form is animated by the One, it manifests a concrete image of itself. Every animated cosmic form manifests a concrete universe. Atheistic Platonism provides a new and non-dualistic way of thinking about the relation between the abstract and the concrete. Abstract cosmic forms are substrates on which concrete universes supervene. This supervenience involves adding a concrete relation, but no concrete things. Every cosmic form in the treasury manifests a concrete universe. The class of concrete universes is the great world tree. By affirming a plurality of concrete universes, atheistic Platonism supports a version of modal realism. For every class of cosmic forms, there exists some proposition which affirms their animation. The proposition which affirms the animation of the best class of cosmic forms is the Good. By orienting the power of the One towards the best, the Good is selectively responsible for the concreteness of all the universes in the world tree.
Ch. 6. The Emergence of Value
The transition from the Zero to the One points in the direction of increasing value. The One is the self-negation of non-being, and the negative of the negative is the positive. This positivity generates objective norms and standards, starting with the laws of logic. It generates an objective concept of intrinsic value: intrinsic value is distance from the One; but this distance is greater complexity. Intrinsic complexity is the amount of computational work needed to simulate an object. Every linear path through the world tree is a lineage, and value increases along all lineages. One of these lineages rises to include our universe. As the universes in this lineage increase in intrinsic value, they become internally organized by richer systems of axiological principles.
Ch. 7. The Emergence of Life
Our sample lineage in the world tree rises from the empty universe to our universe. Along the way, universes emerge in which simpler parts self-organize into more complex wholes. Universes emerge in which self-organization is driven by thermodynamic principles. Self-regenerating systems emerge which contain parts with functional roles. Normativity emerges along with these roles: parts are obligated to perform their functions and prohibited from violating them. Self-regenerating systems evolve into living cells. Later universes contain increasingly complex forms of life which strive to obey increasingly sophisticated axiological laws. These laws are objective and necessary. Beyond our universe, this lineage rises infinitely towards the Good.
Ch. 8. Platonism as a Way of Life
The Platonic way of life aims at transforming you into a deity. And while ancient Platonists recommended many contemplative practices for self-deification, they also recommended ascetic ways of life. Ancient Platonists pursued the he telestike techne, the craft of self-surpassing. Further, they recommended theurgical procedures for raising your self to the heights of the deities. But the old Platonic dream of self-deification evolved into the dreams of the modern transhumanists, and the ancient craft of self-surpassing evolved into practical transhumanism. Practical transhumanists apply the experimental method to the self. They update the craft of self-surpassing into the hacker methodology. The Platonic way of life is the way of self-hacking.
Ch. 9. Multiverse Rebirth
Ancient Platonists believed in reincarnation, along with karmic laws that transformed past lives into future lives. Since reincarnation involves natural laws rather than any deities, it can be further developed in an atheistic context. However, ancient reincarnation theories are both false and immoral. They need modification. Atheistic Platonists say our universe will be surpassed by many better universes. You will be reborn into your better counterparts in those better universes. While the ancient Platonists endorsed retributive karma, atheoplatonists embrace progressive karma. Your future bodies will rise through all the ranks of superhuman animals.
Ch. 10. To Call the World Tree
Just as ancient Platonism was a kind of ancient paganism, so atheistic Platonism is a kind of atheistic paganism. To illustrate the spiritual richness of atheoplatonism, it will be helpful to display its pagan aspects. We therefore cast a circle of reasoning into which we call the participants of a pagan atheology. We use Platonic concepts to make these calls. We invite these participants through sacrificial offerings of arguments. Our intention in ritual is to call into circle the Platonic world tree, a tree which has counterparts in many paganisms. Since the cardinal elements play basic roles in many paganisms, we call first to them. We call water, earth, air, light, and fire. From these elements, we call the world tree. From this world tree, we call holy sexed powers.
Ch. 11. Atheistic Mysticism
Eleven detailed cases of atheistic mystical experience are examined. Five themes emerge from these cases: structural insight, wholeness, extremity, ego dissolution, and valuable connection. I will use atheistic Platonism to interpret these five themes. Structural insight and wholeness correspond to that singular relational power which binds all things together into the wholeness of nature. This power is membership, and nature is the entire iterative hierarchy of classes. Mystical extremity is explained by the fact that the wholeness of nature is transcendental -- it has the absolute infinity of a proper class. During ego dissolution, the mystic brain drops all its ontic encodings. It encodes only the existential quantifier in its orientation towards the Good. Valuable connection reveals that the singular relational power points from the One to the Good. Aligning with this orientation, the body of the atheistic mystic bears perfect witness to the Good.
|24 July 2022|