Matter is the Ultimate Abstraction, Mind the Ultimate Concretion
Inside his cave, all is shadow and movement, but outside the cave are the pure and unchanging forms. These forms can be trusted because they are always the same, whereas the world keeps changing on us. Thus, in the Platonic view, science deals only with the circumstances of the cave, while philosophy addresses what goes on outside.
Now, what is metaphysics? At least in the Whitehead/Hartshorne tradition, it is the study of those principles that simply Cannot Not Be True. Therefore, everything we perceive and experience (for there is no a priori reason to place "matter" above "experience") will be a special case of these more general principles.
Some people believe it is possible to think coherently without metaphysics, but they are asses. They are so naive and lacking in self-awareness that there is no reason to waste a moment arguing with them. For in fact, any statement about reality betrays any number of hidden assumptions. Thus, to deny metaphysics is to affirm it.
I was thinking about this the other day in reading Ridley's Evolution of Everything. Here he is, at once insisting that free will is an illusion, and yet, trying to convince us that this is the case. So which is it: are we free to assent to truth, or not?
Although free will is self-evident -- for it reveals itself to be so in any meaningful communication -- it is also easy to prove (onto)logically. Yes, things have causes. However, there are so many causes that go into being human -- literally millions of them -- that this equates to being undetermined by them.
What I mean is that the causes are many -- even infinitely many, considering our billions (or is it trillions?) of neural interconnections, not to mention whatever is going on at the quantum level.
And yet we -- assuming we are healthy, AKA whole -- are one. Now, how does that even happen? In other words, how do the trillions of causes harmoniously resolve themselves into one effect, if that effect isn't its own (at least partial) cause of those effects?
I always remember something Whitehead wrote back in 1925, and I've never heard it refuted: that
"an electron within a living body is different from an electron outside it, by reason of the plan of the body. The electron blindly runs either within or without the body; but it runs within the body in accordance with its character within the body; that is to say, in accordance with the general plan of the body, and this plan includes its mental state" (emphasis mine).
Therefore, biology (or organism) by definition transcends physics: you can't get to the former solely by way of the latter.
A reductionist such as Ridley pretends that we are only a consequence of lower causes such as chemicals and genes and instincts, when there is actually a two-way causation, from the bottom up and top down. This ubiquitous dual causation is another cosmic complementarity.
But I ask you: of the two forms of causation, which must be primary? Is it even intellectually conceivable that those trillions of causes could result in the simplest and most unitary experience of them all, I AM? Indeed, without this latter, it is not even possible to entertain the idea of causality.
Ultimately, we would say that, just as being is an abstraction from becoming, part is an abstraction from whole, and material and efficient causation are abstractions from formal and final causation.
Indeed, matter itself is an abstraction from something that is always flowing and always interiorly related. There is no such thing as an unambiguous bit of exterior matter, right here and right now, unrelated to everything else.
This only highlights how any form of ideology -- whether political or religious or scientistic -- is really an idolatry, or an elevation of some abstraction to the concrete reality.
This is precisely the burden Obama's little mind labors under, such that he can no longer even perceive concrete reality. In other words, he is trapped inside an ideological abstraction that forces concrete facts to comport with it.
And people say the second commandment is irrelevant!
Again: matter itself is an abstraction. Therefore, what is actually concrete?
What is concrete and undeniable is organism. To paraphrase Whitehead, biology is the study of large organisms, while physics is the study of small ones. Indeed, thanks to relativity and quantum physics, we now understand that cosmology is the study of the largest organism (excluding God, i.e., the metacosmic organism of the Trinity).
Where were we?
I'll just close off with a relevant quote by Hartshorne:
[T]he stimuli moulding an experience are many.... but all this multiplicity of influences is to produce a single unitary experience, yours or mine right now, let us say.
The effect is one; the causes, however, are many, literally hundreds of thousands, billions even, considering the cells in our brains, for example. This vast multitude of factors must flow together to produce a single new entity, the experience of the moment.
I also wanted to say something about how the so-called quantum world below is actually outside us, while the starry expanse is inside, but maybe we'll get to that tomorrow, when I regather my many thoughts into another one post.