Subjective Levels

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Somehow it occurred to me to connect the romantic clusters to the classical levels in the inverse order as Pirsig did. I ended up with a four-level system in which the bottom level is dialectic about deliberation. From that level emerges a conceptual level about higher needs, then a conceptual level about lower needs and finally a level about sense-data. The romantic clusters are upside down, and it occurred to me this kind of a hierarchy grasps a lot of the things I ever found interesting in idealism.

According to idealism only the mind exists. This is not much of a statement in and of itself, given the philosophical problem that manifests as Berkeley’s Master Argument. But on the other hand a variant of the Master Argument also applies to physicalism and materialism. If everything is matter, it makes little sense to speak of matter at all unless the intention is to differentiate the metaphysical context of physicalism from idealism. But if we are able to differentiate metaphysical contexts from each other, we are already operating in a metatheory of idealism and materialism and cannot ourselves subscribe to either theory so that the theory would be our ultimate way of perceiving reality. The metatheory is more ultimate, because its scope is larger. In this case such a metatheory should perhaps be called ”Cartesian dualism”, because it includes both idealism and materialism. But I don’t know what name should generally be used of a metatheory aiming to examine two different metaphysical systems within the same context. Meta-metaphysics?

Belief Level

Also known as US

I began to call the bottom level of my idealistic levels of static value patterns the belief level. The belief level contains some core beliefs which are characterised by the property that even though they could be questioned, they aren’t being questioned right now. They are taken for granted. At each moment, we take some beliefs for granted, not because they would be true or even justified, but because that’s how the mind works: unless you take some assumptions for granted, you cannot derive other thoughts from your assumptions. These assumptions are what we believe. They could include ideas like “Cheese is good”, “I’m good at math”, “Violence should be avoided” and so on.

Note that the content of the belief level is not properly examined by any objective method. Perhaps a very sophisticated brain scanner could produce an exact assessment of what kind of beliefs a person has at some given moment, but such brain scanners don’t exist right now. Furthermore, the assumption that the brain scanner even works would be based on objective evidence, unless we expect the brain scanner to operate by means of magic. The scanner would probably have been constructed after numerous empirical experiments. But beliefs are something you can observe in your head right now, and that’s the metaphysically proper way of observing them. Even if you were very skeptical and ended up believing you didn’t find any single thought you actually believe in, or that your beliefs change all the time, then that would be a belief.

Consideration Level

Also known as LOVE

From the belief level emerges a conceptual level of higher needs. I call this level the consideration level. Considerations are thoughts you use to adjust your beliefs so that they are relevant for satisfying your higher needs. The consideration level emerges from the belief level in the sense that considerations are beliefs about beliefs. More precisely, considerations are metatheoretic beliefs about what object-level beliefs of yours are useful or relevant.

When small babies learn to perceive the world around them, the first thing they usually can tell from all the rest is their mother. This difference is a quasi social consideration pattern that emerges very early in the development of a human being. The consideration level parallels the social level in the sense that they are about the same subject matter. Hence, we could call the consideration level and the social level a reciprocal pair. Similarly, the intellectual level and the belief level are reciprocals in the sense that both are about the subject matter I called deliberation.

Both the consideration level and the social level are about higher needs. For babies, higher needs come first. They don’t have to look after their survival that much – they don’t know how to do that. Their guardians do it for them. Before surviving by virtue of their own skill they must learn to tell the difference between themselves and other people. They learn to do this by way of consideration patterns.

For grown-ups consideration patterns are used not to conflict other people and to behave reasonably in a group. While patterns of social value tell what is there in the social domain of experience, they don’t tell how social affairs are actually managed. Patterns of social value are comprised of money, reputation, academic degrees and things like that, but they don’t include the subjective thoughts that occur to people while they actually manage social affairs. Such behavioral patterns do not exist in the social level, because they are not objective. Eveyone knows for themselves, subjectively, what they are going to do and how, but from a metaphysical point of view that kind of knowledge does not emerge from general theories regarding biological entities. People manage that kind of knowledge almost instinctively – the human is such a social animal. I’m saying “almost instinctively” because there is still some conceptual thinking involved with consideration. Even considerations are not exclusively direct experience, that is, romantic quality.

Calculating Level

Also known as HAPPY

To maintain group cohesion is a more immediate and more pressing need than to acquire food. People can survive without food for a relatively long time but if they cross each other and end up fighting and killing each other then no amount of food will remedy the damage done. That is why the higher needs of managing social affairs come in at such an early stage in the subjective levels of static value patterns. They need to be constantly kept in mind. In the subjective system of levels the lower needs of food and shelter emerge only after functional social processes have already been established. They form a level I call the calculative level. It is a reciprocal of the biological level. Calculations are personal, subjective rhetoric of hunger, thirst and sex. Like other idealistic, subjective patterns, they are not necessarily communicable to others. When expressed as language it might turn out words have a different subjective meaning to other people.

For example the consideration pattern “dad” refers to a different person for different people, and although they are able to work around this difference if they think about it, the actual pattern “dad” is still subjectively different. The workaround is an emulation of the other person’s subjective reality. Similarly, the calculative pattern “I am hungry” is not an objective scientific fact unless tested by experimentation. In everyday life people don’t bother with the experiments. They just eat. They eat for subjective reasons unless they actually stop and think about whether hunger implies they need to eat. Most people don’t remember to do so every time they eat, unless they’re on a diet.

Epiphanic Level

Also known as EUPHORIA

The last subjective level of static patterns to emerge is called the epiphanic level. It is the reciprocal of the inorganic level and connects to sense-data. But as it is not objective, it does not yet give rise to the idea of the existence of a physical world, in which there are objects, such as rocks and lakes, that are thought to be the same for all observers. Instead, it is an indiscriminate category for everything the senses can, or seem to, perceive. It does not distinguish between dreams and reality and cannot tell a hallucination from a non-hallucination. Also religious visions, such as the burning bush in the Book of Exodus, or the entire Quran as revealed letter by letter to the prophet Muhammad, belong to the epiphanic level.

On the inorganic level you may look at a rock with your friend, and speak of the rock as if you were speaking of the same thing. But if you are operating on the epipahinc level you may not yet do so, as your perceptions of the rock will differ due to you being in different locations while looking at the rock. If you are looking at the rock from one side and your friend from another, and you see a discoloration in the rock on your side and speak of it, your friend will not understand what you mean, if he operates only on the epiphanic level. Adults will have no trouble switching to the inorganic level and assuming that you see a different part of the rock than they do, but small children would have trouble.

For example, suppose John goes to a cabinet, puts an apple in the top drawer and leaves. Then Mary puts the apple into the bottom drawer instead. Small children will not understand why John, upon coming back, is searching for the apple in the top drawer. They do not understand what it means that John did not see Mary put the apple in another drawer – they think other people share their subjective epiphanic world in all its detail. With regards to the difference between the epiphanic level and the inorganic level, the Analytic Metaphysics of Quality is just a metaphysical interpretation of something that has been observed for a long time already.

See Also