Let It Be

The notion of physical and also of psychological reality has become a fuzzier topic in the last few decades. Questions multiply concerning human consciousness and its relationship with reality....

Let It Be

How many pieces are there in a bit of reality?

by Jorge Aveleira

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.   

Philip K. Dick, sci-fi writer

The notion of reality has become a fuzzier topic in the last few decades. Questions multiply concerning human consciousness and its relationship with reality; challenges about what is real or not real progress without a prospect of neat solutions. The restoration of a steadfast and reassuring notion of reality should require a relatively simple representation that may be intuitively attractive, philosophically satisfactory and scientifically demonstrable. The application of an alternative modeling may present novel ways to conceive what the structures of reality and consciousness may look like. A few methods to develop knowledge on those subjects, based on Jungian and other philosophical approaches, are informally and briefly reviewed here. The construction of a comprehensive, speculative model extending from such approaches is also proposed, in a tentative however reasonable way, and an inspiring conjecture on prime numbers and the discernment of reality emerges at the conclusion.


1. Reality and models

Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.   

Vincent Van Gogh, painter

Currently unsolvable questions arise from the concurrent application of notions like the causality principle, relativity theory, quantum mechanics, Heisenberg's uncertainty, Bell's theorem, the Aspect experiment and others. Resulting unearthly philosophical implications, which are accessible even from a non-professional standpoint, challenge the notion of an intelligible reality. The current level of disagreement and astonishment is such that gave rise to admissible conjectures proposing that physical reality should be dependant of our expectations about it, or that the whole Universe may be a fabrication of our minds, or that any number of possible Universes are developing a huge amount of parallel possibilities, among others. There is even a great deal of consensus on the notion that material objects do not really exist, that particles, our bodies and everything else are just statistical manifestations of probability waves, or something. That may even be true, but how, wherefrom, do we get a satisfactory view that may accommodate that with the physical sensations that we perceive from our senses? A model of physical reality subject to cause-effect constraints, a reality made of objects and transfers of energy behaving methodically within relativistic space-time is not extensively valid anymore, and homo-sapiens shall keep feeling quite uneasy while an intelligible explanation for those incongruities does not become available.

Through science and philosophy, mankind has been rather successful in systematizing the knowledge we may gather, either by applying existing models to objects under study, or by perfecting models through the detection of patterns and logical systems underlying those objects. Through the study of mechanical systems Newton arrived to his model theory of universal gravitation; the study of various living systems and specimens yields models in physiology, biology and zoology; combined studies on philosophy, medicine and cases of mental disturb yielded models of the human psyche by James, Freud, Jung and others.

Models should furnish harmonic views of fragments of information, arranging them into structures that convey extended meanings. They allow to predict results and missing components in our experiments, the confirmation of those occurrences constituting evidence of the model's validity. When a model fails to predict something it oughts to, or when facts show in disagreement with the model's previews, that is an indication that the model may need some improvement, should have reexamined it's scope of validity or perhaps even be replaced completely. Incomplete or imperfect views supplied by obsolete models, provided that they are handled with restrictions, may still be useful following the successful conception of a new model. If we limit our scope to a few kilometers, the notion of a flat earth is still a functional view of our surroundings. Within the limits of a conventional laboratory, the traditional particle model of the atom is still useful for the study of chemical reactions. The notion of material objects subject to transfers of energy within relativistic space-time should probably remain effective within limitations, when and if we get once more to satisfactorily understand what is happening at the most extreme reaches of our current knowledge.

From what viewpoint, what platform, could we be able to apprehend a more comprehensive view of reality than that which we currently have? Each succeeding scientific model usually shows that a few absolute foundations of former models were relative to a more limited point of view. Maybe some absolute notions may be shown to be relative, in the sense that they may refer to dependent entities. Matter, energy and the relativistic four dimensional space-time may appear as dependent entities from some as of yet unknown viewpoint, why not? The following tentative approach to a philosophical and psychological modeling of reality may yield a workable framework to contemplate conjectures of that kind.

2. Separation

'Think simples' as my old master used to say - meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles.

Frank Lloyd Wright, architect

Models are composed from simpler pieces, identifiable by means of distinct characteristics and functions. The more detailed the model, more components it holds and more sophisticated or elaborated explanations it may supply for objects under study. However, too many components or too elaborate explanations may render unintelligible both the model and the object under study. Maybe particle physics may currently stand as an example of a model that has all but exhausted its possibilities of development through repeated application of a set of concepts, reaching a point where the explanations it supplies are possibly complex enough to render them impenetrable or unlikely.

Making things more intelligible by dividing them into components, into their constituent pieces, may be labeled as a technique of separation. Separation may stand as a measure of the segmentation that we are able to fathom in the working of a system. The process of separation should of course be systematic, organized, aimed to identify the function of each part in relation to other parts and to the whole.

The greater separation we apply, a greater number of components or system's functions we should be able to identify. We may for example say that we have mechanical, electrical and logical components inside a computation system; right and left hemispheres in a brain, yin and yang components in a frame of mind; biological, psychological and sociological components to build an individual's attitude. We may say that we notice outward and inward disposition in an individual; or forward and backward motion in a machine, or in parts of a machine. Separation may be applied to systems, to modules of a system, to single pieces, to materials or processes within single pieces, successively. The criteria of separation should of course have checked its applicability to each successive new or narrowed set of circumstances.

3. Connection

The order and connection of ideas is the same as the order and connection of things.         

B. Spinoza, philosopher

Connection is also a characteristic of sound models. When scrutinizing a system to determine its components and their characteristics to build a model, it makes good practice to keep into view their functional connections. How does the pieces of a system are linked together, which are their relationships, common purposes and shared meanings? Identifying components of a system discloses separation; recognizing common grounds and relationships linking its components exposes connections that warrant its existence as an entity.

An object, a system or a model binds its components within its domain of existence. Separation endows specialized features, while connections set the ability of the pieces to perform in association. Connections imply that the pieces are not independent, that each one is contingent somehow of the actuality of the system and its other components. It should be demonstrable that varied characteristics of both connection and separation are necessary for a system to exist, to evolve, to protect itself when under attack and to recompose when damaged.

4. One

The emotion which accompanies the clear recognition of unity in a complex seems so similar in art and in science that it is difficult not to suppose that they are psychologically the same.

Roger Fry, painter

The concept of one, or unity, finds a place in various philosophical systems, like Leibniz's doctrine of monads and his conception of the vinculum substantiale, the principle of unity from Indian Upanishads and others. The structure of unitary philosophical systems usually shows a set of cooperating fundamentals in flawless orchestration. Studies aimed at the gathering and measuring of facts present unitary structures as long as the collected data does not show significant contradictions.

The actuality of Unity may perhaps be conceived as an aggregate of the connections present in a system. When we speak of a generic noun, or of a system, we are addressing its unity, the set of logical and functional connections that allows its existence, making it feasible and effective. The discernment of a system's unity may be achieved through comprehension of that primary concept: bird, car, payroll, budget, clan, biosphere, computer, planet. When we say bird, for example, we are implying a set of characteristics: beak, feathers, claws, warm blood, eggs, etc., the connected accomplishment of those concepts giving birth to a generic name that identifies a biological system that we agreed to call bird.

The recognizance of a component in a system brings the need to identify its connections to the unity. We may hold several views of a system, from several viewpoints, some more detailed, some more succinct, some even in conflict. Each view should present connections linking its components, to allow contemplating the unity that places the system into existence. Fair knowledge on a system may be arrived at when we are able to methodically apply notions like separation and connection, and envision in some detail the coordinated functioning of its components. It shall be attempted in this essay to maintain present a necessary notion of unity at each subsequent attempt to schematic ways to appraise both reality and consciousness.

5. Two

The beginning, middle, and end of the birth, growth, and perfection of whatever we behold is from contraries, by contraries, and to contraries.

Giordano Bruno, philosopher

Systems of thought based on two opposing and also complementary components may be labeled as dual systems, or models based on duality. It is in that sense that the terms dual and dualism shall be employed in this text. Dilemmas are an ancient philosophical construction assembled from two opposing components; they were widely employed in classical Greek theater as an element of tension, mostly in dramatic and tragic plays. A dilemma consists in a pair of desired or undesired, concurrent, opposing and inescapable choices, as for example: should somebody let his/her child go hiking in the woods with the rest of the classroom? If the child goes some concerns about her safety shall arise. If the child does not go, an opportunity for development and comradeship shall be lost. The two options disclose the occurrence of separation and even conflict between safety and development. They also show connection in the fact that they both stand within the ground of loving care for the child. We may say that we have here a safety-development dilemma. Sometimes a considerable trade-off between safety and development may be possible, sometimes very little. Should I eat ice-cream or stick to diet? Here the satisfaction with myself is at stake, by means of colliding options. An so on... A choice in a dilemma situation excludes the other choice, sometimes partially, sometimes totally. When confronted with a dilemma, we are always left with a feeling that we cannot have everything.

To make things clear within a dualistic approach, when a component stands for some properties, the other component should represent the properties in distinct opposition to those. In order to separate dualistic components as accurately as possible, we should reflect on their opposing, antithetical properties, to differentiate them as clearly as possible. Besides the separation in two opposing components, the philosophical dilemma and the dualistic approach attempted here should consider concurrently the system's unity. The care for the child in the former example adequately represents the unifying ground underlying the opposition in the safety-development dilemma. It is proposed here that the development of whole systems and situations may depict concurrently both unity and duality, and that the design of the dilemma may be a suitable philosophical construction to investigate that.

Oriental Taoism is an ancient and respected school of philosophy that applies a special interpretation of duality as a universal means to appraise reality and change. A mainstay of Taoist philosophy is the yin-yang principle, which conducts to a doctrine of two opposing, complementary and interchanging fundamentals or polarities that should be observed in everything. The Taoist yin-yang polarity is briefly characterized as follows: yin is feminine, delicate, dark, passive, bargaining and gentle; yang is masculine, strong, bright, active, imposing and determined. The meaning of a yin or yang characteristic may be properly grasped only when it is contrasted with its counterpart, under the context of their underlying common basis. The contrast of dark and bright is understood through awareness of the bounding notion of light, hot and cold from the notion of temperature, the contrast of active and passive from the connecting concept of attitude, and so on. Yin and yang aspects, besides being mutually opposing, also attract and transform into each other, maintaining the unity of things and a process of universal change. The yin-yang principle may be likened in several respects to the occidental notion of dilemma, and it shall be employed as such through the argument that follows. The philosophical inadequacy that may be incurred is estimated as much less significant than the clarity and directness that that proceeding may offer.

Under Taoist philosophy, the principle of duality should be adaptable to any instance of reality. So, it should be possible to apply it to a situation and following, to each of the two resulting components or opposing faces of that situation. Usually it is not very easy to accomplish that, however it has been done with revealing results. C. G. Jung, for example, working from a philosophical basis independent of Taoist considerations, attained in his studies to split the functioning of the psychological ego in two groups of rational and non-rational functions. The rational group of functions opposes the non-rational group; each group by its turn is composed of two also opposing functions. The rational functions of the ego are Thinking and Feeling, while the non-rational ones are Perception and Intuition. That set of four functions is sometimes referred as the Jungian quaternium of consciousness orienting psychic functions. Follows a schematic representation of that two by two opposition and a brief definition of each function.

·          Rational: Thinking opposes Feeling.

·          Non-rational: Perception opposes Intuition.

·          Rational opposes Non-rational: Thinking-Feeling opposes Perception-Intuition.

Rational functions

·         Thinking: The capacity to understand and perform through the use of the intellect, of the logical, analytical and assertive mind. Reasoning.

·         Feeling: The capacity to understand and perform sympathetically. The ability to constantly evaluate, choose, assimilate, accomplish and relate, according to one's own inclination or nature. Empathy. The Jungian meaning for the Feeling function is frequently at odds with the common meaning of the term feeling.

Non-rational functions

·         Perception: The discernment and creative ability that arises through the physical, bodily, sensorial, or near-sensorial awareness. Sensation.

·         Intuition: The capacity of directly tuning a hidden and intrinsic discernment, understanding or prognosis, that may be 'floating in the air', instantaneously and beyond what could be explained through the use of Thinking or Feeling. Premonition. (Aveleira, 2002)

The combination of those four functions with the Jungian introverted and extroverted dispositions yields an arrangement of 8, that is 2x2x2 psychological types, and that collection was further developed by Myers-Briggs into a personality classification system displaying up to 16, or 2^4 psychological types. Models showing 2^n where n>0, components are customarily obtained from a n-repeated application of the principle of duality.

A model structure similar to the Jungian quaternium may be found in a book on business management (Low, 1977). There, the philosophical basis for the building of a system aimed at information and control is outlined by means of two contrasting pairs of dilemmas, that is, four concepts in a similar two by two opposition. Those concepts may be roughly described as a rendering of four desirable however opposing qualities or attributes. In an extended interpretation, they may also be recognized as essential attributes to be pursued in the building of any system, logical, physical or biological, that may be intended to show a considerable degree of coordinated functioning. Some years after reading that book, I conjectured that those attributes exhibit also strong correspondences with the elements of the Jungian quaternium and even with components of physical reality. The study of those attributes and correspondences within an unified process of evolution gave rise to most of the argument presented in this essay. Making use of a grammatical concession, to replace nouns by their corresponding adjectives, for the sake of clarity and simplicity, those attributes are

Working, active attributes:

·         Complete: The competence of a system to become ample, to accomplish, to reach all possibilities and be able to succeed in each and every situation. To contain devices to deal with everything that may show up. To be fully able within its domain of existence. Complete is said here to show yang polarity, because of its yang-like characteristics. Full.

The requirement that a system should become complete tends to be counter-weighted by a requirement that it presents simultaneously an opposite and also desired attribute, that is to be concise.

·         Concise: The ability to be evenhanded, equitable, to save, to make the best use of limited resources. To be no greater than required and carry the really necessary features, but not a cumbersome or excessive number of them. To aim at the core of issues and nothing else. Concise is yin. Fair.

How could one possibly tell which features or how much resources a system shall need in order to be well succeeded in every situation that it may encounter? The two former attributes are found in unsolvable opposition. Being concise implies to considerable extent in giving up being complete; a balanced compromise is required. A healthy and evolving system shall grow in its attributes of both completeness and conciseness, following an ongoing predicament to be full and fair at the same time. Complete and concise may possibly be appraised as yang-yin components of a complete-concise dilemma, bound within the common ground of the working capabilities of a system.

Following, a system should also present two other contrasting attributes in an adequate level. The two former attributes are related to the ability of a system to accomplish something, to impose itself, to being, to have applied its concepts upon situations, to be able to achieve things in its way. The two next ones are related to the ability of a system to conform, to not-being, to adapt and harmonize with the needs and abilities of its users and with characteristics of problems and situations that it may encounter. The attributes of the not-being side of a system tend to be more difficult to fathom and to attain, when one is working from objective, analytical standpoints. That is due to the essential nature of objective and analytical standpoints themselves, which belongs to the being side of reality.

Adaptive, reactive attributes:

·         Versatile: The ability to offer options, to be pliable to multiple uses, to show flexibility and creative concern in its design. Being versatile may sometimes be inaccurately equated to being complete. However, complete aims to achievement through pure power and size, while versatile is gentle, not imposing, allowing to accomplish instead from clever, resourceful design, from ability to create possibilities, show adaptable features and have them applied to new issues and situations. Versatile and complete may sometimes even show in a compensatory conflict, as a system may be compelled to become smaller, less cumbersome and less complete due to versatility requirements, that shall also offer possibilities to maintain its overall ability. Versatile may then compensate for restrictions on complete, and it tends to work hand in hand with concise. Versatile is yang. Flexible.

·         Simple: The ability to establish and maintain itself in operation as straightforwardly and understandably as possible, to derive capability from an obvious structure and design. Simple may perhaps be said to hold a degree of compatibility with the concise component from the working former set of attributes. However, while concise is related to the system's ability to being, to apply resources economically and express itself and its objectives, simple is related to the ability of the system to not-being, but instead to be fast and easily grasped in any situation and operated by any users. Simple and concise may even appear in conflict, when to keep a system simple may require making it a little redundant, counter-efficient and less concise. Conversely, being concise may sometimes mean to follow elaborate, complex ways to achieve economy. Computer programming tasks and biological systems both present situations where it pays off to be a little redundant, less concise, efficacious however less efficient, in favor to be simpler. Simple characteristics may compensate then for a lack of conciseness, in order to keep the system viable and understandable. Simple is yin. Plain.

Versatile and simple are the yang-yin components of a versatile-simple dilemma, which bounds the adaptive abilities of a system. The simpler we attempt to make a system, the duller, single-task and less versatile it becomes. Conversely, the more versatile, feature-laden and adaptable a tool or a system is, the more complicated, or less simple, it tends to be. A compromise is again required, and lasting systems shall evolve also by maintaining an acceptable balance between its simple and versatile characteristics.

It may be appropriate to elaborate here a little on an important distinction. The dilemma complete-concise belongs to the working, active, being side of a system; the dilemma versatile-simple belongs to the adaptive, reactive, not-being side of a system. The participation in a system of complete-concise as a whole shows a yang, active polarity, while versatile-simple appears as a yin, reactive component. Under the context of that argument, contentions that may sometimes appear between complete and versatile or between concise and simple, are due to their being-not being opposition. Work-adaptation, action-reaction, being-not being, constitute the earliest yang-yin dilemma applicable to the development of a system.

·        Working, active attributes: Complete opposes Concise

·        Adaptive, reactive attributes: Versatile opposes Simple

·        Working opposes adaptive, action opposes reaction: Complete-Concise opposes Versatile-Simple

Each term attendant in this essay as a model component was carefully chosen, placed and recognized for a common however actual and precise meaning. The reader is kindly requested, however, to forgive the lack of more extensive discussion on a few concepts already presented and their seeming informal, even arbitrary placement into structures that shall unfold according to the backbone notions of unity, duality, etc. It should be possible to clarify doubts concerning the intended meanings and relationships of those concepts by means of comparison between corresponding or opposing terms and also through some additional elucidation and pictures that shall follow. Some structures proposed here may perhaps be regarded as groundless or excessive by readers that had patience and benevolence to read the text until this point. The author is persuaded, however, that such structures are fairly sensible and conforming enough, and that the prospects that they yield are well worth the effort that may be required to identify and evaluate them.

Table 1 follows below, presenting dilemmas in three groups in parallel, that is, showing components arranged comparably according to their correspondence in yin-yang polarity. Each group of dilemmas is aimed to represent a whole domain, which is labeled by an overall unifying concept: physical reality, consciousness, generic system. The left column contains two concepts for each domain, obtained from the splitting of that unifying concept in two opposing classes or natures, for example: the concept of physical reality was split in the opposing classes concrete and abstract. For their turn, each class from the left column appears split in two concepts at the middle and right columns, for example: the non-rational class of consciousness functions is split in the two opposing functions perception and intuition. In short, Table 1 is aimed to illustrate a recurrent 2x2 application of the Taoist principle of duality upon three unities or domains: physical reality, consciousness and generic systems.

Domains / 2 Classes Yang Yin
Physical reality    
Concrete, yang Energy Matter
Abstract, yin Space Time
Rational ego, yang Thinking Feeling
Non-ration. ego, yin Perception Intuition
Generic system    
Action, yang Complete Concise
Reaction, yin Versatile Simple

Table 1 - Reality through dilemmas

Therefore, it is proposed via the table above that an opposing compromise exists between:

·        Energy and Matter, as well as between

·        Space and Time and

·        Thinking-Feeling

·        Perception-Intuition

·        Complete-Concise

·        Versatile-Simple.

It is also proposed that:

·        the concrete set of components of physical reality opposes the abstract set, so Energy-Matter opposes Space-Time.

·        rational opposes non-rational, then Thinking-Feeling opposes Perception-Intuition.

·        action opposes reaction, then Complete-Concise opposes Versatile-Simple.

Furthermore, it is also proposed that a strong correspondence, an analogy, exists between:

·        Energy, Thinking and Complete

·        Matter, Feeling and Concise

·        Space, Perception and Versatile

·        Time, Intuition and Simple.

6. Three

If words are not things, or maps are not the actual territory, then, obviously, the only possible link between the objective world and the linguistic world is found in structure, and structure alone.

Alfred Korzybski, philosopher

The structure of the philosophical dilemma does not yield solutions for its inherent conflict. Taoist dualism, where yin and yang polarities continuously breed into each other, offers an arrangement for the actuality of movement and change; however, yin-yang polarities keep in dynamic conflict forever. The german philosopher G.W.F. Hegel developed a philosophical construction that may be applied to the development of solutions for questions posed by dilemmas and contribute for the evolution of ideas; that construction is known as the Hegelian triad, and its application is called Hegelian dialetics. In applying Hegelian dialetics, a starting concept which we are attempting to verify is labeled thesis; its study should be followed by an opposite and also viable concept, the antithesis. As far as this point, we have components and relationships similar to those of a dilemma. Following, Hegel proposes that the work to solve the conflict between thesis and antithesis shall produce a higher concept, the synthesis, that should transcend them both, as for example in being, not-being, becoming; or in objective, subjective, absolute; or in win, lose, make-it-count. The synthesis may later become the thesis of a new round of investigation, as perhaps in make-it-count, don't-get-hurt, and a final, insolvable, zen-buddhistic let-it-be. The Hegelian triad is the next philosophical instrument that we shall attempt to make fair use of, while keeping adherent to the former notions of unity and duality.

In interpreting Table 2 below, the reader is invited to notice the opposition between the components of the Thesis and Antithesis columns; the philosophical solutions that are offered in the third column, the Synthesis; and, last but as much important, the resemblance, the analogy, the compatibility that one can guess across the lines, between the terms in each column.

Thesis Antithesis Synthesis
being not-being becoming
concrete abstract subtle
rational non-rational inspiring
working adaptation evolution
action reaction transcend

Table 2 - Triads

·        Thesis, being, concrete, rational, working and action are operative, hard, driving concepts

·        Antithesis, not-being, abstract, non-rational, adaptation and reaction are receptive, soft, pliable concepts.

·        Synthesis, becoming, subtle, inspiring, evolution and transcend are enlightening, refreshing, blooming concepts

Endeavoring now to offer synthesis and solutions to issues of reality and consciousness likewise Hegelian triads, the groups of two dilemmas presented in the former section shall be extended in Table 3 below by the addition of a third dilemma to each domain. The whole ensemble is supposed to reflect the notions of unity within each domain by means of its internal connections and unifying concept, and across domains by means of corresponding polarities; Taoist duality by way of the dilemmas existent in each class; and Hegelian triadic dialectics through the three classes of dilemmas in each domain. The best appraisal of that ensemble should occur when one may feel at ease with the similarities linking corresponding terms across domains and begins to reflect simultaneously on their relationships of unity, opposing duality and from now on also of triadic evolution.

Domains Yang Yin
Physical Reality    
concrete, thesis, yang energy matter
abstract, antithesis, yin space time
subtle, synthesis, new-yang electricity magnetism
rational, thesis, yang thinking feeling
non-rational, antithesis, yin perception intuition
inspiring, synthesis, new-yang confidence reflection
Generic system    
action, thesis, yang complete concise
reaction, antithesis, yin versatile simple
transcend, synthesis, new-yang dynamic stable

Table 3 - Reality through triads of dilemmas

The notion that a generic system should somehow develop dynamic-stable attributes was reached following extensive work on systems analysis for computer applications, done with the assistance of a philosophical model which explores the double dilemma structure of complete-concise and versatile-simple discussed in the former section.

Following a straightforward way of reasoning, one may presume for example that a continued effort to develop complete-concise characteristics in a system shall conduct, persuade, even coerce, into the development of simple-versatile characteristics. For a system to grow in completeness, simplicity shall be required to keep it manageable; being concise brings also a need to become versatile, in order to be able to keep concisely accomplishing; then, complete-concise => simple-versatile. As in any dilemma, those two opposing pairs depend on each other for evolving and maintaining their actuality. Following the accomplishment of a sizeable amount of complete-concise and simple-versatile development, a system should attain a new stable-dynamic eminence and may endeavor then to a new cycle of development, that is, to start a new cycle of complete-concise growth. Reasoning of that kind led to the formulation of a general pattern of transmutation, showing similar paths of development between the components of the three domains.

Confidence and reflection were proposed above to furnish the role of inspiring consciousness orienting psychic functions. Those functions are not recognized or identified in Jungian psychology, which supplied earlier the notion of four consciousness functions playing opposing roles. The actuality of confidence and reflection as such was suggested by their usually accredited attributes, by the overall structure of the model that is being arrived at, as well as by an intended resemblance with the placement of electricity-magnetism as components of a subtle physical reality. For their turn, electricity-magnetism were likened in the domain of physical reality to the role of dynamic-stable in the generic system.

An assumption was made, endorsed by Taoist tradition, regarding the components of reality as depicted in Table 3: yang transmutes into yin, which by its turn shall transmute into yang. Some lines of reasoning present that same notion through a similar statement: yang breeds yin, which shall breed new-yang, that is, yang => yin => new-yang. That second interpretation was adopted, and some may recognize there some degree of correspondence with Hegelian dialectics, as in thesis => antithesis => synthesis (new thesis). An agreement seems to exist in that the third element shares something of the nature of the first element, does not show a conflict with it but precisely a mutation, and becomes a starting basis for another round of transmutation and evolution. Naturally, a similar reasoning based on yin =>yang =>new yin premises could be of equal value.

 Elaborating now from a little more formal philosophical basis, the yang => yin and yin => yang compromise and transmutation that should occur between components within the same class or nature, for example between the system's action attributes complete-concise, should occur also between components from adjacent classes, by virtue of the relative yin-yang polarity existent between the classes in each domain. Then, complete-concise => versatile-simple that is, action => reaction, yang =>yin. Following, we should have: versatile-simple => dynamic-stable, that is: reaction => transcend, yin => new-yang. A difference appears here in relation to some views of the yin-yang pattern, in that the process of transmutation brings novelty in its results: yang => yin => new-yang.

It was formerly proposed that a correspondence, a kindred similarity, even a metaphysical identity, exists between the structures outlined here to represent physical reality, consciousness or psychological reality and generic systems. That conjecture was based on: 1-the parallelism observed in the process of construction of each structure; 2-the resulting engaging similarity and correlation that may be noticed in corresponding components across domains; 3-comparable contrasting relationships between the components of each domain. For example: the contrast between thinking-feeling is perceived as comparable to the contrast between complete-concise or between energy-matter. An evolutionary process of transmutation is now being proposed to occur similarly between the components of those three domains. A schematic representation of the components in Table 3 and that process is shown in Picture 1 below.


The meaning of some Jungian consciousness functions and also of terms related to a philosophical approach to generic systems were discussed to some extent in the former section. To assist in establishing the proposed parallelism between physical reality, consciousness and systems, follows below a list of selected entries from the American Heritage and Webster's dictionaries and a few supplementary illustrative phrases. That list may be beneficial in disclosing acknowledged, befitting and intended meanings for the components of each domain, and assist in detecting a pervading consistency as regards resemblance and contrasts, instead of a scrutiny of specific terms in particular circumstances.

Energy, thinking and complete are vigorous and imposing. They are related to advance & expand.

·        Energy: The capacity of a physical system to do work. Exertion of vigor or power.

·        Thinking: To exercise the power of reason, as by conceiving ideas, drawing inferences, and using judgment.

·        Complete: Absolute; total. To make whole, with all necessary elements or parts. Full.

Matter, feeling and concise are temperate and complacent. They are related to evaluate & assimilate.

·        Matter: Something that has mass and exists as a solid, liquid, gas, or plasma. Something that occupies space and can be perceived by one or more senses; a physical body, a physical substance, [...].

·        Feeling: To be conscious of a specified kind or quality of physical, mental, or emotional state. To test or explore with caution.

·        Concise: Expressing much in few [...]; clear and succinct. Terse, brief and to the point. Fair.

Space, perception and versatile are artistic and have inventive value. They are related to build & reveal.

·        Space: The infinite extension of the three-dimensional region in which all matter exists. Sufficient freedom from external pressure to develop or explore one's needs, interests, and individuality.

·        Perception: Recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli [...]. The quality, state, or capability, of being affected by something external; sensation; sensibility.

·        Versatile: Having varied uses or serving many functions. Turning with ease from one thing to another; readily applied to a new task, or to various subjects; many-sided. Flexible.

Time, intuition and simple are artless and unyielding. They are related to conceive & regenerate.

·        Time: A non-spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future.

·        Intuition: A sense of something not evident or deducible; an impression. The act or faculty of knowing [...]without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition.

·        Simple: Being without additions or modifications; [...]. Having little or no ornamentation; not embellished or adorned. Having or composed of only one thing, element, or part. Plain.

Magnetism, reflection and stable are profound and permeating. They are related to organize & reconcile.

·        Magnetism: The class of phenomena exhibited by a magnetic field. Unusual power to attract, fascinate, or influence.

·        Reflection: (To apply) mental concentration, careful consideration.

·        Stable: Not subject to sudden or extreme change or fluctuation. Consistently dependable; steadfast of purpose.

Electricity, confidence and dynamic are proactive and stimulating. They are related to animate & activate.

·        Electricity: The physical phenomena arising from the behavior of electrons and protons that is caused by the attraction of particles with opposite charges and the repulsion of particles with the same charge. Intense, contagious emotional excitement.

·        Confidence: A feeling of assurance, especially of self-assurance. [...] a firm belief in one's powers, abilities, or capacities.

·        Dynamic: Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress.

7. And beyond

There is no practical question on which anything more than an approximate solution can be had.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher

In any composed attempt to properly explain or justify the former constructions and assumptions, whole books would have to be written, by authors better learned than myself. Nevertheless, this essay is going ahead following its seeming reckless style, to suggest an even further extended structure for the appraisal of reality. Less definitions or attempts to explanation are offered in this section. The broader structure outlined here, the discretional election of additional components, their placement and relationships, should appear more or less acceptable or imaginable to the reader in an equivalent measure as the former structures may have also have been found imaginable.

The structure of physical reality as implied until now still lacks two fundamental components, the weak and the strong nuclear forces. Some recognizable consciousness actualities are also missing, like emotions and instinct. Could we attempt to sketch further? Beyond triads, which kind of structure could we look for in an attempt to disclose further detail in reality? Perhaps quadratic ones, portraying four components? If we keep following the routine adopted until now, our process of modeling should comply concurrently with unitary, dualistic and triadic analysis. Then, any tetrad or quadratic actuality outlined following the former steps should appear as decomposable in two dual structures opposing each other. A tetrad would then not bring new structural properties to our model. Decomposable, divisible, may be a synonym for factorable. Hmm... An structure portraying five components is not factorable into the former structures and could perhaps offer new perspectives... An structure portraying six components should be factorable into a 1x2x3 structure, and so on. The notion of not factorable into former structures is a crucial one in a broad conjecture that shall be presented at the conclusion.

In Picture 2 below, two classes of reality and a few additional concepts were added to the constructions already reviewed in former sections. Pic. 2 exhibits a flat diagram containing 1x2x5 blocks or groups of philosophical concepts in stable-dynamic connection and interchange. The upper row shows five connected blocks that stand for five natures or classes of reality. The pairs of linked blocks below stand for observable dilemmas within each class. The arrows between the blocks of the diagram indicate a continued attraction, interchange and transmutation that should take place between the actualities of the concepts under consideration, subject to notions of evolution in accordance with Hegelian dialectics and /or Taoist transmutation.


If we were to follow rigorously the routine adopted until now, the diagram in Pic. 2 should be capable of depicting simultaneously the structures of unity, duality, triad and pentad. However, to present a diagram showing 1x2x3x5 = 30 groups of concepts in dynamic relationship and exchange falls beyond the imaginative and expressive ability of the author. Still and all, adherence to the starting prospect to comprehensively contemplate the preceding structures simultaneously at each step was not lost or abandoned. As well as the notion of unity was proposed as being manifest in duality and the dynamics of duality was estimated as being observable in triads, those 1x2x5 blocks of concepts should be apt to represent simultaneously the notions of unit, duality, triad and pentad. Some relationships connecting components of that hypothetical structure containing something like five axis at right angles were probably reduced or left out, however, as simple diagrams as the one in Pic. 2 may be fully suitable only for displaying the connections in a three-axis system, likewise Pic.1 if represented on a plane.

The rationale that has been followed in this essay assumes that each and every component of reality should be pliable to the concurrent application of the basic structures of unity, duality, triad, etc. Pairs of concepts at the bottom of several boxes in Pic. 2 supply an illustration of the application of duality upon presumably elementary components of the model. For example, the pair of actions organize-reconcile is displayed as an affiliated dilemma in the box titled Magnetism, below the kindred terms reflection, tolerance and stable. Organize and reconcile are proposed as being similar to the components of that box. However, while organize is related to being, is yang and active, the term reconcile is related to not-being, is yin and appeasing. Further developing, a Hegelian triadic approach to that dilemma could result in organize-reconcile-harmonize, where harmonize brings a become-ing solution to the dualistic opposition in organize-reconcile. And so on... However, the terms of language tend to become imprecise, inadequate or even contradictory when attempting to express such refined, second or third order relationships.

It is proposed then that underlying common essences or dispositions exist connecting the concepts in each box in Pic. 2, what might perhaps be better acknowledged when we for example reason as follows with the concepts in the box titled Magnetism: "The exercise of reflection and tolerance should bring understanding, order and peace to unspecified sets of components. Those are basic attributes of stable situations, that may be arrived at through the paired actions organize-reconcile. Magnetism is the concept from Physics that best adapts to those particulars, and it is often used as a metaphor in situations and developments where they have a significant role." A similar reasoning performed in each one of the other boxes and a comparison between the overall effect that should emanate from each, may bring a sense of the suitability of the whole arrangement.

In the same manner, appraising of the pertinence of terms in each box in Pic. 2 should be conducted preferably by comparison with the correlated terms in each box; next, with opposing terms in opposed boxes; next, with terms in preceding or succeeding boxes, attempting to detect relationships of kinship, opposition or evolution, according to the organization of the diagram. As for example: Time, integrity and simplicity seem to work in attachment; bursts of energy are averse to conciseness; perception, build and reveal stray away from simplicity; confidence and ideal bring hope; reflection and tolerance should yield faith; and other.

Tentative conjectures shall now follow, dealing on solved and unsolved issues regarding aspects of reality. Those conjectures rely on the intended suitability of Pic. 2 to harmonize with physical reality and consciousness, and may serve either to establish to some degree the soundness of that diagram or to suggest imaginable paths of inquiry into disputed issues.

·        Consciousness may perhaps be defined as the ability to syntonize, to tap into the structure of reality. Everything that exists may be said then to exhibit some level of consciousness. Specimens of reality that attain a better, richer and more complex implementation of that single process are likely to appear more conscious than others. That may include specimens from the mineral, vegetal and animal kingdoms.

·        Reality is One. From viewpoints aimed to the absolute, components of reality should not be regarded in a detached way. Given enough detail, connections binding and changing the contents of any supposedly independent component should appear in evidence. Reality is one, and is also a stable-dynamic evolving structure of dualities, triads, pentads, etc., and also any combination of those, at any instance that we may venture to approach it.

·        Reality is a fractal hologram. When examined from a suitable perspective, every actuality should exhibit the same structure and evolutionary process. Each part of every actuality also exhibits a congruous structure. From psychology and consciousness to physics and conjectured or planned systems, everything may well be following paths essentially alike.

·        Matter and energy should establish a continuum comparable to space-time. Conversion between matter and energy has already been ascertained and quantified; Heisenberg's uncertainty may perhaps be understood from an approach, where objects are not one hundred percent matter nor one hundred percent energy. Portions of matter in relative movement or at different temperatures should perhaps be regarded as a mixing, a continuum of matter and energy in varied proportions.

·        Entropy guarantees that the amount of energy available to accomplish work of any kind is an ever decreasing quantity. Available matter also decreases all the time, including by expansion into boundaries inaccessible from our universe. The amount of matter-energy is a continually decreasing quantity. Matter-energy is consumed into space-time growth.

·        The model of reality as displayed in Pic. 2 does not allow for time-reversible or counter-entropy events, which is a sensible benefit over current models. Eddington conjectured at the beginning of the previous century that energy may well be the arrow of time. In an extended fashion, matter-energy may well be the arrow of space-time.

·        From a relativistic perspective, one does not view space and time like independent entities, as space-time is a continuum. It seems implied in Pic. 2 that even space-time should not be held as an independent entity, as its contents appear as being continuously augmented by a flow of transmuted essence from the matter-energy realm. Relativistic time is affected by speed and gravity; from the diagram in Pic. 2 we may conclude also that warm clocks should run faster than cold ones. Would that conjecture be currently testable?

·        Matter-energy and space-time may be appraised as independent components of events only within limitations. Events inevitably involving the consumption of matter-energy shall alter space-time variables and interfere in the measurement of those quantities. The breaking of causality in quantum mechanics perhaps may find a line of investigation here.

·        Currents in traditional cosmology admitted that the expansion of the universe should slow down at some point under the effect of gravity and reverse into contraction. Recent research and discoveries indicate that space shall instead expand indefinitely. The existence of a "dark energy" is being hypothesized to account for that permanent expansion. However, there seems to exist no need of unknown forms of energy to explain that; space-time may be an ever growing quantity simply through the consumption of energy-matter. The universe shall expand and time shall roll on, until becoming empty.

·        The cosmic expanding space is bounded by gravitational fields. From the notion of a matter-energy continuum, one may conjecture that the space bounded by singled matter, that is, the space occupied by material bodies themselves, should expand as cosmic space does, however at a much lower rate. The relativistic conversion between matter and energy perhaps may furnish a proportion to associate those two occurrences? Space bounded by lighter matter should perhaps expand at a higher rate than space bounded by denser matter. Is it currently feasible to implement experiments for ascertaining or disproving that?

·        The consumption of matter-energy into space-time growth should yield electricity-magnetism. The occurrence of an electromagnetic pulse following a nuclear explosion might fall within that conjecture? Is there some way to make measurements for that effect in events of lesser magnitude?

·        A relationship was already established to exist between electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force by Weinberg-Salam, in their electro-weak theory. Correspondingly, Pic. 2 hints at the existence of a lively link between electromagnetism and the weak force; it hints also at the existence of another, symmetrical relationship, that one between the strong nuclear force and matter-energy.

One may detect multiple fitting coincidences in the former conjectures, linking the relationships depicted in Pic. 2 to actual issues in Physics and Psychology in an engaging fashion. The author was unable until the present moment to detect representations deriving from that structure that may show contradictory with current observations on those fields. That favorable situation showing many coincidences and no contradictions may encourage the scrutiny of the diagram in Pic. 2 as an instrument to aid in the investigation of general phenomena.

8. Conclusion

We are the universe, trying to understand itself.

Delenn, Babylon 5 character

From the former discussion and formulation of the diagram in Pic. 2, a thrilling and even more encompassing conjecture emerges. I was not yet able to grasp its reach and implications to a proper degree. However, it seems to summarize and to be so much in harmony with this tentative inspection into the structure and purpose of Being that perhaps it shall make a proper close to it:

The knowledge we may gather on issues of being, consciousness and reality, possibly is delineable by means of a single, universal, fractal-holographic and evolutionary process based on the unfolding and interaction of indeterminate prime numbers of identifiable classes, components and polarities.

Why prime? Because prime numbers are not factorable. In a quest for absolute models, one tends to look for comprehensive, essential concepts, and likely shall find them following structures which would not be reducible/factorable into others. Why fractal-holographic? Because the structure of absolute models of reality probably shall surface as a whole in every part, at every scope and instance of actuality. Why evolutionary? Because that process of change appears as purposeful, directional, aimed to growth and to the solution of conflicts. Why indeterminate? The ultimately detailed and all-encompassing structure of reality possibly contains any prime numbers of elements arranged in unfathomable nuance. Good, veritable representations may display 1 or 2 or 3, 2x2, 5, 2x3, 2x3x2, etc. classes or components and perhaps even further detail. Those representations may be valid and functional to remarkable extent. I believe, however, that the infinite complexity possibly extant in ultimate reality would not be touchable by minds subject to any degree of limitation.

Copyright Jorge Aveleira 2004.

Email: jav235_AT_yahoo_DOT_com


Aveleira, J. (2001). Consciousness and Reality: A stable-dynamic model based on Jungian psychology, The Jung Page. http://www.cgjungpage.org/content/view/175/

Low, A. (1977). Zen and creative management, USA. El zen y la direccion de empresas (pp. 179-195). Ed. Aura, Espana, 1977.