STEPHEN GROSSMAN & DANIEL TSCHAEN
(c) 1985 NEW BEDFORD, MA 02719, USA
We would appreciate any comments on this essay. Among other things, our radically systematic approach, setting a radically
new direction for metaphysics, can help to better understand the axioms of Objectivism. This is done by, among other things,
identifying the limits of systems and the limits of axioms. These intellectually startling essays must be read slowly, carefully,
and beyond conventional limits. We consider everything that is conventionally considered philosophy, including Rand and Kant,
Aristotle and Plato, reason and mysticism, and then consider more. However, since Objectivism is the only philosophical denial
of metaphysical opposition, this essay should help to transcend the Godelian completeness-consistency limit, a possible objection
to Objectivism. The essay can easily be misread and trivialized despite its use in solving problems caused by axioms, systems,
internal conditions, and even byproblems. Please ignore the trivial inconsistency between the concern, in the introduction,
to be existence and to avoid essences and the concern, in the body of the essay, to protect Objectivism. We eagerly seek active
minds, so characteristic of classical Greek philosophy, in our concern to understand problems in conventional philosophy and
in expressing ourradical metaphysics. The Presocratics, within limits, may be considered an introduction to our concerns.
We can infinitely modify our approach to any value, such as a completely metaphysical understanding of induction which will
enable one to know when it is and is not a problem. The understanding of science in our "Philosophy of Science"
is another introduction to existence, clearly linking different philosophies to different problems and answers. We are also
expanding this essay into a book. Copies may be distributed. Please let us hear from you.
Philosophy is exhausted, nothing works, and we are drifting to the future. Some claim that philosophy is kibbutzing or
daydreaming. Is this all there is? This admitted confusion and triviality is the necessary development of the history of
philosophy as limited by the Platonic-Aristotelian view of the Presocratics. The stress on the epistemological concerns of
method, logic, language, metaphor and usage,exists within the limit of the Presocratic concern with opposition, essence,
and cause. This limit is so poorly reccognized that even those philosophers who want to return to the Presocratic concern
with existence do so within the limit of the Platonic- Aristotelian view of the Presocratics. The use of or the attempt to
transcend the Platonic-Aristotelian limit is foolishly understood to imply an unlimited relativism, skepticism, mysticism,
and/or nihilism. But these are limited. The failure to recognize the limit of one's understanding of existence has led to
the ignorance of the virtues and vices, the problems and answers of each limit. Philosophers despair but do not recognize
the limit of despair. Philosophers seek metaphysical and epistemological privilege without recognizing the limit of privilege,
and then become nihilist without recognizing the limit of nihilism. The historical concern with opposites has led to a search
for an epistemology
to unite opposites. However, opposites are limited to epistemology and pose no metaphysical problem. Philosophy needs
a new epistemology which can transcend epistemology and a new, metaphysical logic which transcends the epistemological logic
of Aristotle. He limited his logic to the Presocratic concern with opposition, cause, and essence. Another logic is possibleand
necessary. This logic would be a recognition of existence and limits so that one wouldn't unknowingly transcend one's limits
and end in unwanted confusion. This logic would be a completeness theorem. It would permit us to recognize that Wittgenstein
limited himself by pulling up the ladder and that Husserl limited himself with a phenomenological return to the things themselves.
A logic which includes itself is possible within a metaphysics in which everything exists and exists equally (including inequality
and this statement). This logic would be a recognition of our values and their limits. This logic is a recognition of the
limits of knowledge, nihilism, and mysticism.
INTRODUCTION TO EXISTENCE
This introduction to existence is really no introduction at all. Anything you recognize, including recognition itself,
exists. However, within the limits of the history of philosophy, it is indeed an introduction to an entirely new concern or
direction for philosophy. Historically, philosophies (except Objectivism) have been based, implicitly or explicitly, upon
their own particular dichotomies. They have been concerned with basics. These basics can be the ground for reality, knowledge,
nature, or other limits. And, since dichotomies are at the heart of, are the bases for, these philosophies,methods for relating
the poles of the dichotomy have
always been necessary and thus also a matter of concern for philosophy.
We avoid all these unsolvable, trivial problems by giving "philosophy" a
whole new direction. Forget "basics." Forget pet dichotomies which yield
such ideas as "ideas," "reality," "theory," "truth," "fact," "substance,"
"accident," "essence," "trivia," "mind," "body," "matter,"
"form," "actuality," "potentiality," "one," "many, "quantity," "quality,"
"thing," "relation," "stasis," "change," "process," "reason,"
"imagination," "sight," "conceptualization," "perception," etc, etc.
Once this is forgotten, methodsand problems with methodology will also be forgotten for they are of no use and are left
without a basis or reason for being. Logic, however defined, is included in this retraction of basis. Self-negations, infinite
regresses, and tautolgies, which have imposed severe limits upon philosophy since, at least, Plato, may no longer have any
merit. Philosophy has, for too long, been an acceptance of logical, rather than metaphysical, limits in its process. What
'essentially' happened is that logics based upon Platonic-Aristotelian metaphysics have imposed those specific metaphysics
upon any attempt at the formation of new metaphysical systems through the uncritical acceptance, for the new metaphysics,
of the given Platonic- Aristotelian logic. The result is a clash of metaphysics wherein the new metaphysics loses out because
inability to conform to the old standard. Metaphysics bases logic, not the
reverse. Metaphysics can and must be done without reference to method,
logic, evidence, goals, essences, basics, reason, knowledge, reality, etc.
How a particular metaphysics is developed, why it developed, what can be
hoped to be achieved with it, what evidence is available for it, the
relation of that metaphysics to other things, etc., are totally irrelevant
indoing metaphysics. For example, to have a goal is already to have a
metaphysics so no metaphysics is done once the goal is stated or used.
The metaphysics is already finished in the selection of a goal for
What various statements imply, and what their meaning is, also
introduces outside concerns if either implication or meaning are taken too
seriously. Meanings and implications are system-dependent.
Interpretations, implications, deductions, and consequences of a
metaphysical system are irrelevant to and in that system. Metaphysics is
bigger and more powerful than anyone realizes, and one must realize that
his metaphysics is complete before he even thinks of anything. This does
not mean nor imply that there are innate ideas, for metaphysics is not
essentially ideas, nor do meaning and implication mean anything to
metaphysics. Metaphysics implies and means everything.
To get a conceptual hold on metaphysics is impossible (not because of
skepticism) for this requires a previous metaphysics from which to
establish the value of conceptualization. The self-negation involved in
this last statement is irrelevant to what is being said. Metaphysics has no
need for epistemology. Historically, metaphysics and epistemology have
been assumed to be mutually dependent. This assumption was and is based upon what we consider a false definition of metaphysics:
the study of the fundamentals of existence. This definition makes sense only within
Aristotle's metaphysics and we have a much more ambitious definition, so
ambitious, in fact, as to ignore the need or desire to define metaphysics.
To define metaphysics is to ignore metaphysics. Under these circumstances, metaphysics is existence.
Fundamentality, as it relates to conventional metaphysics, refers to
what is fundamental to knowledge. Disregard knowledge, and you
disregard fundamentality. This is a wider statement of the Objectivist
insight that essences are epistemological, not metaphysical.
Given all this, can nothing be said? Only if logical implication is given
back its value is this the case. (The infinite regress, caused by the fact
that we are arguing and doing so within the limit of a particular logic, is
not a problem unless the reader is still doing epistemology) That is, by
implication from what has been said above, metaphysics is useless, can
have no content, yields no nformation, and has no relationship to the
metaphysician, to mankind, or to reality. However, implication per se has
no metaphysical basis itself, so what is implied by metaphysics (or
equivalently, existence) is irrelevant to metaphysics. No thing, including
implication, comes with its own justification. And, the fact that the
terms "basis" and "justification" are necessarily used above is only an
infinite regress and thus is only an epistemogical limit. Of course, this is
not to essentially devalue epistemology.
Mystics, who claim that what is most basic to reality or existence (or
whatever) cannot be stated have made the 'mistake' of valuing
epistemology over metaphysics or existence by remaining faithful to an
uncriticized logical standard in their metaphysics and are valuing what is
Also, philosophies with goals are totally irrelevant in terms of existence. How is a goal to be selected without here
being an already established philosophy? (Of course, this question is based upon an implicit
metaphysics wherein a question is considered as a possibility) Once a
goal is selected, no further thought is required. One now only needs to
relate explicitly what is already related implicitly. This, and this analysis of it, are trivial.
Metaphysics, existence, is open, wide, etc.
If one has to make sense of all that has been said above, although it
sholdn't be necessary if metaphysics is understood, one should consider
the existence of the argument forwarded to be more basic than the fact
that it is an argument. This will be a comfortable "existence over essence"
scheme, but one which has no metaphysical merit.
The philosophical systems of the past have been concerns to make
sense, but our metaphysics asks, for one thing, why make sense
exclusively? Now, we are not advocating struggle toward answers, or the
process aspect of existence. We don't adocate anything. However, we are
not nihilistic, for we advocate every thing and there is every thing.
Of course, claims of truth, falsity, importance, relevance, consistency,
completeness, etc., and claims itself, have no relevance to metaphysics.
Given no purpose, means, content or object, standards for truth or
progress, nor hierarchy of values, then, is metaphysics impossible? Again,
only if one follows this by implicitly valuing logical implication does this
The entire 'theory' posited here is of no essential worth, for it is just
one more existent. But it is inessential only if one applies the principle
posited here to a particular concrete example, thus requiring a
principle-concrete dichotomy. We do not argue for or against dichotomies
or logic or anything. We are not concerned with argument, proof, truth,
knowledge, or existence at all. No thing prevents us, however, from
changing these things with which we are not concerned, into things of
ultimate value. Metaphysics is wide open. Everything is possible and
actual. Everything said here is 'only' one idea and it may or may not have
implications. There are implications, logical standards, truth, values,
goals, differentiations, etc.
One possible implication is that traditional arguments in philosophy will be considered much more powerful and important
than they have in the past, while at the same time being seen to be much more value-dependent. Or, philosophy may be considered
to be trivial.
Looking for the context of what is being said, for its validity, meaning, origin, cause, or results, may be important
or non-essential. For example, there is a much that could have been said but wasn't. Things and
situations will change such that this has no meaning. For example, I will
sleep later such that existence, meaning, etc, mean nothing, etc. Values
also change, and, values can be irrelevant.
Nothing, everything, and some things are prescribed. Prescription is a
result. Nothing, everything, and something are all results. Things are
already results. Facts, givens, goals, evidence as a whole, existence,
knowledge, reality, essence, meaning or meanings are all results. Results
are a result, but who cares?
Philosophy has dwelled on the cute and clever for too long. One
philosopher makes a system, (always ultimately and necessarily based on
some dichotomy), which, by virtue of its being a system, has a set of
axioms and a specific logic relating the axioms to each other and to their
implications for the secondary, dependent principles or concretes (or
whatever). The next philosopher points out the Godelian imit of the
previous system. He, then, either replaces the criticized system with
another, which necessarily has the same limit, or adopts a cynical,
skeptical, or nihilist limit. And this skeptical, etc. limit is assumed to be
superior to any metaphysics because of its greater width or depth But,
both Godel and skeptics, etc. do not avoid the same limits, i.e., they are
only epistemologies. All criticism, even the one we used above, is
It must be noted that this is not an ordinary philosphical essay. It does
not have a specific point to make and does not possess an argument for or against anything. The quotes used are not examples
of some idea that we are trying to substantiate nor should one infer from an analysis of all the
quotes what we are doing. All that is being done in the body of this essay
is attempting to move philosophy out of its epistemologically limited
concerns and past even concerns. This is being done by quoting people
with highly diverse epistemologies and by showing the power and thus the
limits of each. That is, the power of epistemology has tended to lend more
credibility to epistemology than it deserves. In this essay the statements
which would be classified as metaphysics by every philosopher since
Aristotle are considered by us to fall far short of what we call metaphysics.
Every thing exists, be it earth, air, fire, and water, or mud, hair, and
dirt. The objects of myth, common sense, science, and philosophy exist.
Aphrodite, rocks, electrons, and causes exist. "...It is..." recognized
Parmenides.(1) "..[E]xistence exists....[E]xistence...[is] every entity,
attribute, action, event, or phenomenon (including consciousness)....The
metaphysically given cannot be true or false, it simply is," understood
Rand.(2,3,4) "Existence is...self-sufficient....It is not the product of a
supernatural dimension, or of anything else. There is nothing antecedent
to existence, nothing apart from it, and no alternative to it. Existence
exists-and only existence exists. Its existence and its nature are
irreducible and unalterable," recognized Peikoff.(5)
The epistemological terminology used in the above quotes from Rand
and Peikoff should be, at least temporarily, ignored. Rand's reference to
the "given" and to the "true or false", and Peikoff's terms, "product,"
"antecedent," "alternative," "irreducible," and "unalterable" should not
prevent the reader from understanding the point being made. The selection of terms used was determined by the present
state of affairs in
philosophy and is not essential.
The Presocratic philosophers studied everything and by every method:
myth, folk wisdom, common sense, and philosophy. "Men who love wisdom must be inquirers into very many things indeed,"
said Heraclitus.(6) But methods are limited. One can use reason, rationalism, empiricism,
linguistics, mysticism or any other method, but there is more, there is
always more. Methods cause understanding within some limit, while
necessarly ignoring other limits. One might make sense or accept
nonsense, be logical or illogical. There is structure, consistency, and
integration as well as structurelessness, contradiction and disintegration. There are many essences and no essences, limits
and the unlimited, methods and the lack of method. Here, it must be noted that this essay is philosophical and yet transcends
philosophy. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy", said Hamlet.(7)
"Philosophy cannot and should not give faith, but should understand itself and know what it has to offer and take nothing
away, and least of all fool people out of something as if it were nothing," said Kierkegaard.(8) Philosophy is a concern
with fundamentals but one may value non-fundamentals. Philosophy is a method of answering questions or solving problems, but
"...[a] question can only arise if a presupposition permits it", as Kekes said.(9) Here, Kekes points out the
pervasiveness and power of philosophy but doesn't see the limits of power, nor of the philosophy that permits power, nor the
limits of permission or of limit, etc. Everything exists equally, be it acorns and oak trees, reality and consciousness,
monism and dualism, substance and accident, matter and form, one and many, change and permanence, concretes and universals,
truth and falsity, good and evil, knowledge and faith, values and nihilism, this moment and eternity, the whole of existence
and a pebble. Inequality exists as much as equality.
Does inequality exist as much as equality? If the reader still cannot
ignore the 'logical' limitations of this statement, we can appeal to an
Hegelian logic for help. To do so, we will simply substitute our equality-
inequality scheme for Hegel's identity-difference scheme in the quote
"We must be careful, when we say that the ground is the unity of
identity and difference, not to understand by this unity an abstract
identity. Otherwise we only change the name, while we still think the
identity....To avoid this misconception we may say that the ground,
besides being the unity, is also the difference of identity and difference."(10)
This type of logic makes the epistemological limits of our "inequality
exists as much as equaliity" statement more tolerable but the logic is
still, by definition, epistemological. Epistemology, i.e, making sense,
tolerance, understanding, etc., are metaphysically insignificant, or,
rather, asignificant. All logics are equally justified in existence, i.e., none
are justified. No logic or method in general, is necessary in metaphysics.
Logics and methods exist. Now, do not limit your understanding of this
line of 'thought' to the categorization of existence as the incorporation of
thought, method, logic, tolerence, significance, etc. What incorporates
what is a philosophical question and has nothing to do with metaphysics.
(Of course, what relates to what is also a philosophical question, and the
definition of "philosophy" is also a philosophical question, etc.)
Returning now to a much more conventional philosophy and
philosophical style, we will now attempt to give the reader a foothold
from which to start. The specific starting point is not important and
Objectivism has been selected.
Existence is not split, dichotomized, contradictory, nor opposed to
itself. There are no modes nor categories of existence, since modes and
categories also exist. Existence is full, a Parmenidean plenum. There is
"Nor is Being divisible, since it is all alike. Nor is there anything [here
or] there which would prevent it from holding together, nor any lesser
thing, but all is full of Being....Observe [nevertheless] how things absent
are securely present to the mind; for it will not sever Being from its
connection with Being, whether it is scattered everywhere throughout
the universe or whether it is collected together," said Parmenides.(11)
"Naught exists as much as Aught," said Democritus.(12 ) "For the
fuller's screw, the way, straight and crooked, is one and the same....(13)
They do not understand how that which differs with itself is in
agreement....(14) The way up and down is one and the same....(15) In the
same river we both step and do not step, we are and we are not", said
Heraclitus.(16) [I]t is the same thing to think and to be," understood
Parmenides.(17) "Metaphysically, an entity is: all of the things which it
is. Each of its characteristics has the same metaphysical status: each
constitutes a part of the entity's identity" recognized Peikoff.(18)
"[E]xistence is identity....[E]xistence and identity are not attributes of
existents; they are the existents," understood Rand.(19)
Historically, the occasional Presocratic concern with opposition
became the prime concern of philosophy through the influence of Socrates,
Plato, and Aristotle. Socrates profoundly changed the history of
philosophy with his focus upon the definition-nondefinition (or,
equivalently, the essence-nonessence dichotomy). Plato sought
definitions with an existence "formally" divided into idea and reality.
Aristotle then 'placed' rational system into these dichotomous
metaphysical conditions and advanced his own matter-form or
potentiality-actuality dichotomy. Opposititons (contradictions, splits,
modes, categories, dichotomies, etc.) are limited or contextual (and they
exist). An existence opposed to itself would not exist (which is not really
an argument against opposition). Existence exists. Each side of an
opposition exists as much as the other, although one side may be valued
more than another. Each opposition exists as much as any other
oppositiion, although one may be valued more than another. In fact, we
sometimes consider the history of philosophy to be just debates over the
relative values of various oppositions. To Plato, the matter-form
dichotomy is crucial, to Descartes it is thought-reality, to Hume it is
There are no gaps in existence as a whole, by considering the
definition of "whole." Gaps exist only once an oppositon is created and
under these circumstances, the gap(s) exist(s) as much as the poles of the
oppositon. The relation between the poles exists as much as the poles
themselves and as much as any thing else.Identity exists as much as
opposition. But, from within an opposition, it it impossible to relate the
poles of the opposition. Plato's "participation" is the paradigm example of
this impossibility. The poles of the opposition, however, can be related
from outside that specific opposition by relegating that original,
assumedly basic opposition to an inferior position within a new assumedly
basic opposition. This is the history of philosophy. A problematic
opposition is integrated using another problematic opposition. We realize,
with Godel, that dichotomization is necessary epistemologically and are
not concerned with that necessity. We are concerned here to identify the
'primarily' epistemological limit of the history of philosophy.
Gaps in (the whole of) existence do not exist. Its just another way of
claiming that existence does not exist. Existence exists. There is something
everywhere. Gaps exist, too. There is no hole at the heart of being, as Sartre thought. There are no kinds of being, since
kinds exist also. Kinds exist. Gaps exist. Hamburgers exist.
Gaps, kinds, hamburgers and God all exist. And all exist equally. Existence
exists everywhere, and everywhere equally, in all of existence. There is no
part of existence which lacks existence. There is no metaphysically absolute
lack of existence, since existence exists. You are literally making something
out of nothing but there is no metaphysical creation since existence exists.
And only existence exists. There is nothing behind, to the left of, in between,
or other than existence. Only existence exists. Absolute non-existence does
not exist. Existence exists. It is not the product of a supernatural dimension
(where hamburgers are always plump, juicy, and free) nor of social or
individual consciousness. Existence cannot be created since the identity of
existence is existence. And existence is identity since existence is itself,
ie, existence is existence.
There is no existence/gap gap. There is no split between existence and
split. Splits or gaps are one more thing, with no metaphysical privilege.
Splits are not essential to existence. Essences are not metaphysical, but
epistemological. Everything exists equally, without more or less existence
(since more and less exist also and exist as much as anything else). Splits
are not essential, not metaphysically important, but just exist. There is no
essence to these claims since there is more, there is always more. The
whole of existence exists just as much as a pebble. Causes and explanations
are not metaphysically essential. The lack of causes and explanations is
not metaphysically essential.
These insights have no metaphysical privilege (altho they do exist). Car
repair also exists. And, if your car fails, a mechanic is more important than a philosopher. And philosophy also exists.
1. _Ancilla to the Presocratic Philosophers_; Kathleen Freeman; Harvard
University Press, 1983 (1948). Parmenides, Fr. 2.
2. _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_; Ayn Rand; The
Objectivist, 1973. p.53.
3. Rand; p.53.
4. "The Metaphysical vs. the Man-Made;" Rand; _The Ayn Rand Letter_,
Mar.12, 1973. p.179.
5. "The Analytic-Synthetic Dichotomy;" Leonard Peikoff; _Introduction to
Objectivist Epistemology_, 2nd edition; Ayn Rand; NAL Books, NYC, 1990.
6. Freeman; (Heraclitus), Fr.35.
7. _Hamlet_; Shakespeare.
8. _Concluding Unscientific Postscript_; Kiekergaard; Princeton
University Press, 1974 (1941). p.144.
9. _A Justification of Rationality_; Kekes; State Universtity of New
York, 1976 p.232.
10. _The Phenomenology of Mind_; Hegel; Harper & Row Publishers, N.Y.,
11. Freeman; (Parmenides), Fr. 8 and Fr. 4.
12. Freeman; (Democritus) Fr. 156.
13. Freeman; (Heraclitus) Fr. 59
14. Freeman; (Heraclitus) Fr. 51.
15. Freeman; (Heraclitus) Fr. 60
16. Freeman; (Heraclitus) Fr. 49a.
17. Freeman; (Parmenides) Fr. 3.
18. Peikoff; p.10.
19. Rand; p.53; _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_.