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A Review
Chapter III
William James'
Some Problems of Philosophy
by Doug Renselle
Doug's Pre-review Commentary
Start of Review

ISM Extremes

Dedication Introduction Note


Move to any Chapter of William James' Some Problems of Philosophy,
or to beginning of its review via this set of links
says, "You are here!")

Chapter III............The Problem of Being


(Most quotes verbatim William James, some paraphrased.)

(Relevant to Pirsig, William James Sidis, and Quantonics Thinking Modes.)


"How comes the world to be here at all instead of the nonentity which might be imagined in its place? Schopenhauer's remarks on this question may be considered classical. 'Apart from man,' he says, ' no being wonders at its own existence...made Aristotle say that men now and always seek to philosophize because of wonder The lower a man stands in intellectual respects the less of a riddle does existence seem to him...but, the clearer his consciousness becomes the more the problem grasps him in its greatness. In fact the unrest which keeps the never stopping clock of metaphysics going is the thought that the non-existence of this world is just as possible as its"

(Our bold and color emphasis.)

Note an implicit classical either/or (via 'instead') assumption here of either entity or nonentity. Philosophy, metaphysics, and ontology (being) take on a whole new brilliance when one kens a quantum epiphany of:


an included-middle both/and of entity and its vast, apparently vacuous, complement which we in Quantonics call 'isoflux.'

A Planck-rate quantal clock of metaphysics!


"existence. Nay more, we soon conceive the world as something the non-existence of which not only is conceivable but would indeed be preferable to its existence; so that our wonder passes easily into a brooding over that fatality which nevertheless could call such a world into being, and mislead the immense force that could produce and preserve it into an activity so hostile to its own interests. The philosophic wonder thus becomes a sad astonishment, and like the overture to Don Giovanni, philosophy begins with a minor chord.'

"One need only shut oneself in a closet and begin to think of the fact of one's being there, of one's queer bodily shape in the darkness (a thing to make children scream at, as Stevenson says), of one's fantastic character and all, to have the wonder steal over the detail as much as over the general fact of being, and to see that it is only familiarity that blunts it. Not only that anything should be, but that this very thing should be, is mysterious!"

James infers either/or, and here we see Schopenhauer does too. (Our bold emphasis.)

Note how Schopenhauer partially 'gets it.' He elicits metaphysics' great import in its unending insistence on both existence and non-existence. Yet he grasps not a both/and alternative to either/or, and he appears not to intuit a potential for an included-middle both/and.

Reader, I suggest to you that Schopenhauer's 'fatalism,' and his philosophical 'minor chord,' is detritus of an Aristotelian philosophy which insists on substance only as that which uniquely 'exists.' "That which is not substantial," Aristotle tells us, "non-exists." SOM is implicitly negative, oppositional, versus, pugilistic, contradictory, etc., in its foundational denial of 'nonactuality.' PDR 23MAR2000.

Being is comfortable only in its familiarity. Here we see foundation for resistance to change. An almost informed prejudice in favor of absolute stasis. Is this where it arose? Or is/was it in our biformal nature?


"Philosophy stares, but brings no reasoned solution, for from nothing to being there is no logical bridge."

Reviewer, here paraphrases James' more lengthy discussion:

Some classical philosophers invent paradox in what we call, 'single alpha-omega duration centrism.' (Centricity is a kind of SOM dichotomy, a dichon.) As an example, you probably know folk who are 'one life centric.' They intuit life has one beginning and one end. They think all of us get one go at life and, "That's all there is my friend. Let's just keep dancing...We'll break out some booze and have a ball, if that's all..." But, that isn't all!

Quantum reality, simply, denies this one duration centrism. Quantum reality is a never-ending loop of scaled, fractal transitions twixt existence and nonexistence, actuality and nonactuality. PDR.

This single sentence may be our most important discovery in James work which we are reviewing here, Some Problems of Philosophy.

Recall our remarks from previous two pages, pages 38-9.

Now we know there is a logical bridge! There is a reasoned solution! They are called Quantonic logic (coquecigrues) and QTMs. Based on a more realistic quantum existence/nonexistence complement, they provide James' missing bridge.

(Remember Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, asking, "Where's the bridge, where's the bridge?" Now we know where it is; Acceber, now we know! We found a new quantum, Zeppelin Bridge!)

Philosophy could not find the bridge because its tools of logic and reason were/are inadequate!


On alpha and omega, "In other words, since we now witness its end, some past moment must have witnessed its beginning. If, however, it had a beginning, when was that, and why?

"You are up against the previous nothing, and do not see how it ever passed into being. This dilemma, of having to choose between a regress which, although called infinite, has nevertheless come to a termination, and an absolute first, has played a great part in philosophy's history.

"Other attempts still are made at exorcising the question. Non-being is not, said Parmenides and Zeno; only being is. Hence what is, is necessarily being being, in short, is necessary. Others, calling the idea of nonentity no real idea, have said that on the absence of an idea can no genuine problem be founded. More curtly still, the whole ontological wonder has been called diseased, a case of Grübelsucht like asking, 'Why am I myself?' or 'Why is a triangle a triangle?'"

Here again, an alpha-omega dichon. Classical implication: a beginning is required. SOM's great schismatic knife of thought imposes an ontological requirement for a beginning/end dichotomy. All SOM 'things' must have a beginning and an end.

So classicists ask, "But if there was nothing prior, then from whence a thing?"

(Our bold color emphasis.)

Parmenides and Zeno were substantially incapable of perceiving an included-middle both/and of being and its complement. In short, they implicitly deny any possibility of a quantum reality. Reader, please note that Parmenides is the sentient (?) source of most of our philosophical problems today. His insistence on an unchanging, substantial reality was adopted by Plato, temporarily by Socrates under pressure from Plato, and finally by Aristotle from which was born SOM and all its plethoric ills.


"Rationalistic minds [i.e., SOM minds] here and there have sought to reduce [analytically] the mystery. Some forms of being have been deemed more natural, so to say, or more inevitable and necessary than others. Empiricists of the evolutionary type Herbert Spencer seems a good example have assumed that whatever had the least of reality, was weakest, faintest, most imperceptible, most nascent, might come easiest first, and be the earliest successor to nonentity. Little by little the fuller grades of being might have added themselves in the same gradual way until the whole universe grew up.

"To others not the minimum, but the maximum of being has seemed the earliest First for the intellect to accept. 'The perfection of a thing does not keep it from existing,' Spinoza said, 'on the contrary, it founds its existence.' It is mere prejudice to assume that it is harder for the great than for the little to be, and that easiest of all it is to be nothing. What makes things difficult in any line is the alien obstructions that are met with, and the smaller and weaker the thing the more powerful over it these become."

Our railing against either/or SOMthink continues. Here we see two either/or views of First being as either minimum or maximum.

Quantum reality shows us both. We see entire universes and galaxies becoming in massively parallel fashion, but too, we see tiny micro-organisms and even our subatomic quantum constituents becoming. When one sees all as flux, we can imagine all ranges and scales of flux becoming/latching/arising.

Key here is our presumption of reality's intrinsic co-awareness in proemial quantum isoflux and at all levels of latched quantum flux. See our Quantonic descriptions of these terms:

  1. Emersible
  2. Isodiffract
  3. Isoflux
  4. Coobsfect

We assume reality's intrinsic co-awareness at all scales of flux is a key enabling, philosophical presumption which solves classical becomings' problems. To test this for yourself ask, "Are photons co-aware? Electrons?"


Leading into this page James talks about how both Kant and Hegel attempt rude unifications of being's incommensurability with nonbeing. Kant's approach is somewhat daft in his claim that a dollar does not contain one cent more than an imaginary dollar. To wit, we ask, "Mr. Kant, then you believe that Canadian and US dollars are commensurable?" Kant apparently fell into SOM's One Global Context and Truth church of reason.

Page 43 ends, "At the beginning of his logic Hegel seeks another way to mediate nonentity and being."

Top of page 44, James says Hegel ['logically'] implies, "Since 'being' in the abstract, mere being, means nothing in particular, it is indistinguishable from 'nothing;' and he seems dimly to think that this constitutes an identity between the two notions, of which some use may be made in getting from one to the other. Other still queerer attempts show well the rationalist temper. Mathematically you can deduce [one] from [zero] by the following process: 0/0 = (1-1)/(1-1) = 1. Or physically if all being has (as it seems to have) a 'polar' [we say 'bipolar'] construction, so that every positive part of it has its negative, we get the simple equation +1-1=0, plus and minus being signs of polarity in physics.

"It is not probable that the reader will be satisfied with any of these solutions, and contemporary philosophers, even rationalistically minded ones, have on the whole agreed that no one has intelligibly banished the mystery of fact. Whether the original nothing burst into God and vanished, as night vanishes in day, while God thereupon became the creative principle of all lesser beings; or whether all things have foisted or shaped themselves imperceptibly into existence, the same amount of existence has in the end to be assumed and begged by the philosopher."

Acknowledging both Kant and Hegel's lack of quantum science learning, and their almost total immersion in a classical metaphysics, one may explain their confusion over commensurability or incommensurability of reality's complementary stuff.

A good analogy of complementarity here which fits James' discussion is heteronyms. Heteronyms complement multiple semantics. Kant's use of 'dollar' here is almost a heteronym.

Quantum reality's local islands of truth appear, from a classical perspective as incommensurable (coquecigrues). Why? Classical metaphysics denies quantum reality's nonactual complement! It conceives only reality's actual complement and wrongly claims that as whole reality! Both Hegel and Kant recite that classical scholastic rote with fidelity here. When it fails, they attempt a meager unification of them which elicits mathematical, divide-by-zero paradice and paralogisms. Again, our quantum/Quantonic solution is to admit reality's never-ending flux of both its actual and nonactual complements. Our solution fits and supersedes James' own brand of pluralism.

For students of Quantonics, our fact is many contexts with their many local truths. Our fact is many quantum islands of local flux isocoherence, coherence and decoherence commingling, more or less, all of actuality and nonactuality.


"To comminute [i.e., pulverize] the difficulty is not to quench it. If you are a rationalist you beg a kilogram of being at once, we will say; if you are an empiricist you beg a thousand successive grams; but you beg the same amount in each case, and you are the same beggar whatever you may pretend. You leave the logical riddle untouched, of how the coming of whatever is, came it all at once, or came it piecemeal, can be intellectually understood."

James note: "In more technical language, one may say that fact or being is 'contingent,' or matter of 'chance,' so far as our intellect is concerned. The conditions of its appearance are uncertain, unforeseeable, when future, and when past, elusive."

"If being gradually grew, its quantity was of course not always the same, and may not be the same hereafter. To most philosophers this view has seemed absurd, neither God, nor primordial matter, nor energy being supposed to admit of increase or decrease."

James' "same amount" here is quantum naïve. Poincaré, et al., argue effectively that this is a classical SOM presumption of unchanging reality. Aristotle's A=A tautology arose from this assumption. Poincaré, et al., have shown us no 'thing' is 'same' from Planck moment to Planck moment. Thus we, as students of Quantonics, say, beingquanton(DQ,SQ). Equivalently, we may say, being, where blue dashed Tao represents DQ commingling both solid and blue dashed Tao represents SQ.

In James' note we see SOM's knife cutting its homogeneous time into a trichotomy of past, now, future. And too, here, we see SOMese' source of linguistic 'tense.'

Classicists uniformly belie themselves in their incessant uses of "absurd, unreasonable, impossible."

"The orthodox opinion is that the quantity of reality must at all costs be conserved, and the waxing and waning of our phenomenal experiences must be treated as surface appearances which leave the deeps untouched.

"Nevertheless, within experience, phenomena come and go. There are novelties; there are losses. The world seems, on the concrete and proximate level at least, really to grow. So the question[s] recur[]:

  1. How do our finite experiences come into being from moment to moment?
  2. By inertia?
  3. By perpetual creation?
  4. Do the new ones come at the call of the old ones?
  5. Why do not they all go out like a candle?

"Who can tell off-hand? The question of being is the darkest in all philosophy. All of us are beggars here, and no school can speak disdainfully of another or give itself superior airs. For all of us alike, Fact forms a datum, gift, or Vorgefundenes, which we cannot burrow under, explain or get behind. It makes itself somehow, and our business is far more with its What than with its Whence or Why."

Again, 'conservation' is a classical concept which arises from SOM's innate dichotomy. Quantum reality uncloaks Casimir's plenum of ~unbounded isotropic energy. We use ~ on 'unbounded' to illustrate our lack of knowledge as to how unbounded isotropic energy is.

As measured by quantum physicists in Millennium III, its approximate density is great enough to replicate 1041 of our entire universes in one cubic centimeter of physical space! For most practical purposes that is ~unbounded!

  1. Incremental and novel latching of flux.
  2. No. Inertia is a classical concept.
  3. Yes, by a quantal Planck rate reality recursion.
  4. Next increment Values prior preconditions.
  5. All may return to isoflux under select conditions.

Even with new quantum knowledge, we still have two great insoluble problems:

  • Reality interpretation Problem (See our fix!)
  • Reality Measurement Problem (See our fix!)

We are still "beggars." But classical thought, in our opinion, deserves disdain for its abuse of quantum sophism.

Return to Chapter Index

To contact Quantonics write to or call:

Doug Renselle
Quantonics, Inc.
Suite 18 #368 1950 East Greyhound Pass
Carmel, INdiana 46033-7730

©Quantonics, Inc., 2000-2011 Rev. 5May2009  PDR Created: 7Apr2000  PDR
(28Jun2000 rev - Correct typos.)
(27Jul2000 rev - Change 'student' to 'students' in our comments on page 45. In red.)
(9Sep2000 rev - Change 'prefers' to 'Values' in page 46 comments, item #4.)
(5Feb2001 rev - Add links to our recent solutions to quantum measurement and interpretation 'problems.')
(10Dec2001 rev - Add top of page frame-breaker.)
(15Apr2002 rev - Add p. 44 anchor to James quote of "Zero is One.")
(9Jan2003 rev - Add Zenos_Paradice link under page 41 comments.)
(7Apr2003 rev - Typos.)
(19Jan2004 rev - Add link to p. 44 comments 'fact.')
(11Jan2005 rev - Add P40, P44 anchors. Alter Pp. 40, 44, 45 slightly with links, bold, etc.)
(1Oct2005 rev - Release page constraints.)
(4Sep2007 rev - Reformat page. Massive respell.)
(5May2009 rev - Make page current.)

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