The Noumenal Realm
A relational, eschatological bootstrap -- that's us
The existence of phenomena is indubitable. The existence of noumena is nearly so. Infants are sometimes alleged to exist in a purely phenomenal realm of completely uninterpreted experience. The rest of us live in a world encumbered with language and innumerable constructs of the intellect. Those constructs purport to describe and explain a reality that lies behind our immediate experience. Those constructs are not accessible to direct experience. That is the noumenal realm.
A particular designated table is an object that allegedly is capable of indirectly causing me to have particular sorts of experiences in particular situations, but I cannot directly experience the causes of my experiences. And once we venture beyond the realm of particular objects, we quickly find an array of opinions concerning the nature of reality. Thus we enter the noumenal realm of metaphysics. As participants in society, all of us are de facto metaphysicians. It is a life and death responsibility that few of us, however, are willing to acknowledge.
Among the myriad possibilities for the noumenal realm, two stand out - the material and the immaterial versions of metaphysics. The past several centuries have witnessed the ascendancy of materialism, but many observers are now questioning the validity of that hegemony. I will not reiterate the controversy here, instead I will plunge into an exposition of an immaterial noumenal realm.
A problem that is usually just implicit in any form of immaterialism is the frame or ground problem. This has also become a problem for the materialists, at least since the advent of relativity and quantum theory. The frame of physics used to be just ordinary space and time, but in this century the taken-for-granted status of space and time has devolved into complexities that boggle the most sophisticated minds in the world.
With that note of caution, let us consider the frame problem for immaterialism. Starting with the phenomenal realm, one has to posit some sort of ego as the frame for personal experience. Extrapolating from ego experience to a world of experience most observers postulate some sort of cosmic mind-like entity as a non-physical substitute for whatever is currently fashionable for the physical manifold of space-time. The frame is the ground of being, whether material or not.
Extrapolating from my mind to the mind of God is reasonable, but begs many questions. There is another path. This path invokes internal relations. Internal relations are the converse of the external relations that comprise materialism. The only relations considered basic for the materialist are those accidental proximities of space and time. The doctrine of internal relations, on the other hand, takes the notion of relativity to an extreme. Something can exist only in a context.
Language is an example of an internally related system. Any word can only be defined with reference to an indefinitely large set of other words. Consider the problem of an infant learning to speak. The associational nature of our thoughts is another example, and so is the hypertext structure of the cyberspace. Like the materialists, the immaterialists find that it is very difficult to separate being from its frame or ground. Internal relations turn this problem into a doctrine.
The problem of internal relations is most acute when taken in the context of origins. We cannot just ask why there is something instead of nothing. An arbitrary something cannot simply exist, it can only exist in the context of an indefinitely large world. Immaterialists need something nearly as audacious as the Big Bang, when it comes to origins.
A relational metaphysics put us in the awkward position of having to demand all or nothing from our cosmology. There is only a partial fix for this genetic discontinuity, and that is to resort to recursion by demanding scalability between the micro and macrocosm. It is precisely this scalability that has so impressed the mystics down through the ages, and which has gotten them into so much hot water with the purveyors of orthodoxy.
Each ego is a proxy for the cosmic mind. Each of us is necessarily created in the image of the creator. Each of us is the demiurge. We are frustrated gods, and that makes us restless. Only in the eschaton can that recursive loop be closed and the genetic discontinuity be transcended.
It is in the deployment of the microcosms that that the cosmos is able to recycle itself without generating a cosmic discontinuity. We are individually the fulcrums of the cosmic inversion, or, more technically, the stationary points in the inversion mapping. Our psyches will bear the brunt of the eschaton. That is our spiritual destiny.