IN SEARCH OF A HOLISTIC PHILOSOPHY

THE WORLD AND HOW I SEE IT
In recent years, the search for fundamental truths and their underlying principles has led more and more thinkers and practitioners to combine theories from a wide variety of disciplines, compelling many to seek truth between the boundaries of rigidly separated disciplines—the “void.” Rather than accepting the boundaries between the sciences and humanities, openness to seeking unifying approaches has increased and represents a path to an alternate future. For example, more and more physicists are presently embracing theories that combine transcendental meditation and ancient Indian practices with modern (quantum) physics. In the quest to achieve a science of (human) consciousness, philosophic, spiritual, and “natural” experiences meet science to seek new ways of knowing. However, this phenomenon can also be observed where followers of Eastern philosophical concepts find inspiration for further investigation through advances in modern physics and/or quantum theory. Whether such theories are now to be called voodoo science or represent a kind of unifying basic theory, I couldn’t yet say.

What is clear is that various disciplines are searching for new questions and answers that lie in the world of subatomic particles made up of neutrinos and quarks, gluons and so on, where the “laws of the physical world” come apart at the seams and dissolve into nothingness. This underlying structure of our perceived reality and our metaphysical foundation is considered a void or a perfect union of “what is not” where, potentially, a scientific theory of everything could be found.

At this point, no one can reliably or seriously explain how the world is connected. But at least in the last decade, as these issues have captured public interest, there seems to be a sense of progress and general drive to debunk some of our current worldviews while possibly unifying everything. There are theories about (energy) fields and a fundamental consciousness in which everything is connected. Other approaches assume that there are attributes or variables that haven’t yet been discovered. Needless to say, there are still many questions, and fascinating views are in no short supply. When physicists search for a unifying theory of everything that describes the relationship between Einstein’s general relativity and modern physical quantum theory, it’s just that: searching for a fundamental component, a simplified theory, or something “mystical” that unifies what we have already discovered. And since we are still very much in the dark, we should be open to anyone taking a thoughtful and serious approach to contributing something to this journey. From a philosophical point of view, it seems that we are moving toward liberation from absolute self-evident truths. Maybe now is the time to even move beyond space and time with a reductionist approach to what we perceive as reality. One might even argue that it isn’t an explanation but creation—the re-creation—of our perceived reality that defines mankind’s scientific quest.

A PHILOSOPHICAL DEFINITION

When I began combining philosophy and economy more than a decade ago, I was focused on building bridges and trying to integrate traditional philosophical concepts that had been slightly amended to better jibe with the twenty-first century. It all sprung from questions that naturally occurred to me—my curiosity about the wonders of life. Looking back, it was a matter of practical applied philosophy, and I can still very much relate today to what physicist Richard Feynman once said: "If I can't build it, I can't understand it." Applied to philosophy, this means that, today, it is fundamentally important not only to take a theoretical and academic approach but also to bring philosophy to life. Philosophy is something we do, something we can apply to truly improve our lives by sensing the essentials and reaching new plateaus of understanding. It is also the path to taking action based on reason.

I have great respect for the path of science and academic philosophers who deal with existential questions. These thoughts serve as an inspiration and provide a theoretical framework for dealing with all aspects of life itself once technology penetrates fundamental parts of being human. It is the task of philosophy to keep pace with advances in science and technology. Philosophy must (again) become dangerous. To the extent that, in an enlightenment role, it tears down precisely those intellectual, economic, and even technocratic towers that today keep us trapped in our self-evident truths.

"It is not knowledge that makes a man, but a better understanding of what we know today".

If we try to explain the world in absolute terms, we end up in an “infinite cul-de-sac” or what philosopher Hans Albert referred to as the “Munchausen trilemma”—named after the literary legend Baron von Munchausen. According to the tale, the latter pulled himself out of the swamp by his own hair. Albert postulates that any attempt to get at the First Principles—the ultimate reasoning—leads into the Munchausen Trilemma, where the logic always leads to one of three outcomes:

  • An infinite regress in which there is always a new hypothesis about the justification (because . . . ad infinitum),
  • Circular reasoning in which the proven premise requires the same premise for the conclusion (Why A? Because B. Why B? because A),
  • or The escape into a dogmatic worldview (e.g., “God did it” or “This is a simulation”).

Even if the world cannot be fully explained, it shouldn’t prevent us from trying to better understand it by way of holistic philosophy. It’s “the art of being wrong”—philosophical contemplation—combined with the push for sounder explanations—the way to positive progress—that gives us support and frees us from the prison of human absolutes.

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