UNIVERSALISM - TEXT BY DICK JONES
(NOTE - This is a copy of writing by Dick Jones - this name may be a pen name and not the real name of the author. By way of an introduction, I had much correspondence with Mr. Jones from about 1998 through the mid-2000's and hosted an email list server for him.
Sadly, myself and others who had subscribed to the list have not received any emails from Dick since sometime in the early 20-teen years.
I suspect he has passed away. I first came across this person on an email list discussing Biblical Inerrancy where he would often mock some of the ways people would discuss the subject, but also provided value to others.
As I have read some of the essays by John Locke, I was familiar with Dick Jones' philosophy on semantics.
Presently, you can view his brief but important I think, text on his idea of Universalism on https://universalism.tripod.com/ - but I fear that maybe some day it will disappear so am making a copy of it. Archive.org has the first page archived but for some reason, does not seem able to archive the rest of the pages).
An intuitionist philosophy...
Words, concepts, and things are not the same. This simple observation is the basis of semantics, the preservation and communication of human knowledge. Nearly all arguments and many of the puzzles and perplexities of ordinary philosophy are created by a misunderstanding of the fundamental nature of word meanings and by an improper linking together of words in sentences. Words are merely labels on concepts, but some people sometimes confuse words with things or believe that words are somehow directly related to things. They think if they know the word, they know the thing itself.
Other observations in semantics ares that words always have more than one meaning (with the exception of proper names) and definitions of words can continue indefinitely.
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Knowledge ranges from absolute falseness to absolute truth. There exist probability logics for dealing with this infinite range of truth-values. In ascending order, these sources of human knowledge (of varying degrees of truthfulness) are imagination, supposition, reason, faith, experience, and intuition.
Imagination possesses the lowest degree of truth-value, mere fantasy. But anything that can be conceived by a human being is possible. Fantasy has the lowest likelihood of any human thought of being true. (Falsehood has no likelihood of being true.)
Suppositions or guesses are a step up from fantasy. Perhaps because subconscious thought processes based on other knowledge are involved in guesswork, guesses are more likely to be true than mere fantasy. They are also better statistically, i.e., more likely to be true, than random choices. If you're lost and come to a fork in the road, you have a greater probability of determining the right direction by guessing than by flipping a coin.
Reason is using deductive logic to reach conclusions (although many use it less precisely to mean noncontradictory thinking or include induction, a totally different method). It is a mathematical and linguistic word game. It is no more likely to be true than a guess or supposition. The 'reason' it is no better as a source of knowledge is because it too is based on initial guesses (called axioms or premises) and because all its basic rules (identity, excluded middle, and non-contradiction) are nothing but symbol manipulation.
Faith or beliefs are guesses that a person freely and voluntarily chooses to think are true. A true belief is always held without evidence. If evidence exists, or is available, then a true belief cannot exist. The nature of belief is such that all beliefs are infallible, but this does not imply unchanging or eternal. Beliefs can be changed at will. Any belief held contrary to available evidence is a false belief (delusion). Delusions are a serious error in thinking, but true beliefs have a high truth-value.
Experience or observations are things or events that are sensed, either directly by a human body or with the aid of mechanical sensory devices, such as telescopes or microscopes, or eyeglasses or hearing aids. While the senses are not completely valid (i.e., they occasionally detect and report erroneous or distorted data to the brain), they are usually valid and can be trusted if there is no evidence to distrust them in particular instances. This source of knowledge also includes the physiological process of induction (sometimes called inductive reasoning), which is determining that there are highly probable relationships between particular aspects of reality. Except in rare cases (when all specimens of particular objects in the universe have been observed) induction is not absolutely certain, but it often surpasses 99.999...% certainty. It is normally the best source of knowledge available to a human being. Unfortunately in the English language, reason also often means the much less truthful and more error prone process of deductive thinking, as well as other methods of guessing.
Intuition or insight is the direct perception of reality without the use of the senses. It is absolutely and eternally infallible truth since it is "seeing" or "observing" ultimate reality itself. Intuition is the absolute knowledge founded on the identity of the mind knowing with the object known (Plotinus). (A few term this similarization.) Some scientists think that intuition is that the brain is detecting quantum fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime itself. Human senses are capable of detection at the quantum level obviously since photons are quanta. Some scientists think the brain has more than one quantum detector or at least the one it has is used for various purposes, such as decision making or free will (which would seem to be its original evolutionary purpose). Free will would otherwise be prohibited in a universe where causality is true. This is not to be confused with the more usual use of the word intuition to mean psychological subconscious reasoning, which is a different matter altogether being the probable foundation of guessing, which is where it lies in truth-value.
Metaphysics or ontology is the study of the nature of reality. Reality exists independently of human thought, but it is becoming more clear through scientific research that human observers can and do influence the physical manifestations of matter/energy (reality) on the quantum level. Metaphysics means only "beyond physics" and it can be and must be just as scientific as any other fact if it is to have a high level of truth-value. Metaphysics, epistemology, and semantics are tightly interwoven. Semantics is needed to communicate any knowledge, metaphysics to know what there is to know, and epistemology to know how to know.
Reality is objective being or existence. Reality is composed only of matter/energy. There is only one kind of reality, one kind of being, but with many forms. There is no supernatural or spiritual existence or being beyond matter/energy. Being is existence (a redundant trivially true phrase for emphasis).
All living things exhibit volition or free will. Free will seems to be based on the uncertainty of the state of existence at the quantum level. The human mind must have a randomizer available to it in the brain to enable truly non-deterministic choices. (Sir John Eccles has written of this, as have others. Roger Carpenter of Cambridge University, in September of 2001 at the British Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in Glasgow announced an alternative theory about how the brain randomizes.)
Theology is the study of God. God exists since God is all existence itself. God can be verified empirically, since God is all reality, including the ultimate single conscious mind of that total reality.
Aesthetics is the study of beauty. Beauty is harmony. Like any part of reality beauty can be observed and known for a fact. Beauty is the pattern of reality, the true chaotic pattern and not the orderly pattern often imagined or seen by men. Beauty can be known just as anything else can be known: through the imagination, or by guess, or with reasoning, or by faith, or simple observation, or through intuition.
Ethics is the study of proper behavior, while morality prescribes that behavior. Morality is relative. Morality is the customs and habits of a given culture at a given time. Morals arise from the whims of the individuals making up a society. There is no universal pattern, no meaning behind morality. There is no absolute morality. Morality is what is observed just like all other reality, in this case human behavior.
Ethics has also been placed on a scientific footing. It is known which of them many systems devised by man bring the greatest likelihood of success. Some, such as ethical egoism, are self-destructive. Some, such as the rule of Moses, an eye for an eye, bring about perpetual human conflict. One has been demonstrated to be superior -- the rule of Confucius, replay kindness with kindess but evil with justice (also called tit-for-tat).
Political philosophy indicates government is most efficient with maximum individual freedom. All that is required of any government is protection of persons and goods. The outer shell of a government, republic, democracy, monarchy or dictatorship, is unimportant. A voluntarily financed government based on the common law of judges and juries is one simple way to have good government. A dictatorship such as that of Julius Caesar under the Senate of Rome is another example of an efficient government.
Article Revised November 9, 2001.