Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why the Megaverse is a Unified Entity

To continue the discussion from the last post, I sketch below some reasons why the metaphysical “megaverse” – the sum of all actual and possible events – should be considered a unified whole rather than a “mere” collection.

First, while I realize the field of mereology has been contentious for ages, I have always favored arguments that a whole is more than the sum of is parts (composition is not identity). I have several posts dealing with this in the context of trope theory: it appears that tropes cannot be bundled without an external unifier (I discussed Bill Vallicella’s arguments on this topic here and in the second half of this post). What could unify objects? The best answer IMO comes in terms of a theory which approaches composition via causation (see the paper discussed here for why this is a promising approach).

Moving specifically to my preferred event ontology, I think that participation in a larger causal pattern serves to unify constituent events into higher-level units (event complexes). Gregg Rosenberg’s theory on causation and natural individuals serves as an example of this approach (discussed here and here). To extrapolate, we can picture a hierarchy of causal patterns culminating in the largest one of all – the megaverse.

Further, because individual micro-level events in this model are actualizations drawn from a set of possible events, they simply cannot exist in isolation. The existence of an actual event presupposes a space of possibilities. I believe quantum physics provides a posteriori evidence for this feature of reality.

There are other possible arguments for the unity of the megaverse. For instance, the megaverse serves to ground necessary truths (such as those of arithmetic and basic logic). These truths extend throughout the megaverse, providing a unifying “shape” to events.

Also, the megaverse supports consciousness. In my preferred theory of mind, causation is inherently experiential, and the unification of constituent experiences is a defining characteristic of consciousness.

Much more can and should be said, but I think the case is good for considering the necessary existent to be a unified entity.


Justin said...

Hi Steve

Very Interesting (though I'm not familiar with all the terminology).

If the megaverse is a unified entity, do you think that a good argument could be made that:

"we can picture a hierarchy of causal patterns culminating in the largest one of all – the megaverse."


"causation is inherently experiential"

entails that the megaverse is a unified experiential subject?

Steve said...

Hi Justin:
Thanks for reading through this stuff, which was in messy stream-of-consciousness mode.

The tentative answer to your question is yes, and you've spurred me to try to clarify my thinking.

... because my comment is getting long, I'm going to go ahead and "elevate" it into a post shortly.