By David M. Petersen
The great philosopher Plato theorized that there were forms or perfect ideas that have their own existence, and that these perfect forms or ideas were reflected in our reality. The theory of forms was Plato's response to what is now called the problem of universals, or roughly, any ideas denoted with words ending in "ness," "ity" or "hood," such as kindness, humanity, or manhood, for example (this generates an incomplete list; the word courage, for example.) Plato believed in the "form of the good," from which all other forms followed. Over the centuries this theory has been embraced, ridiculed, criticized, modified, etc. There are many takes on the problem of universals and I believe that Plato's is actually mostly right, but that it is too general and there needs to be distinctions made between entities that I believe really can be called forms and others that cannot, such as supposedly perfect forms of cats or dogs or men, or other universals that are simply descriptive etc., such as blue-ness, for example. I think the distinction becomes clear when you take the universals or properties in question and ask whether or not they are advanced, ACTIVE conscious states. Or in other words, a conscious state that must be reached for; again, courage is a good example, but boredom is not. One must make a difficult concerted effort to be courageous, and as we all know, it frequently pays off. So, I believe there are actual forms for certain advanced active conscious states but not inactive ones, but not for what should be classified as lesser properties, such as beauty, green-ness, the chair-ness of a chair, etc. I will proceed to define how I believe these forms exist.
If you've read my previous work you know that I believe that our phenomenon of consciousness is a new form of energy that is vastly more complex than the system that came before in evolution, namely the brain, and that consciousness exists completely separate from the brain (but resonates from it), and that consciousness also exists completely inside of our interconnected universe and is just another form of energy interconnected inside it. Now you may also be familiar with my previous work where I have tried to show that the universe is evolving into perfect consciousness (called the Super Conscious Unity), and that it is also a four dimensional sphere that is both simultaneously a series of events and an eternal entity. Another belief I hold is that the only force that can go both backward or forward in time inside this universal system is consciousness, and that the Super Conscious Unity ahead of us in time can connect with you consciously (through what is frequently called the mystical experience),and visa versa, even though you are earlier in time in the evolution of the four dimensional sphere. This four dimensional sphere that is our universe is simultaneously both an interactive series of events AND a static eternal entity, much like the duality generated inside the science of quantum mechanics; namely, whether a quantum system is either a particle or a wave. I believe that It is essentially BOTH, we just have to work to grasp it better (using the "right side" of your brain.) And so, consequently, I believe that the forms are physical entities or ideas inside the system of our consciousness that resonate with actual conscious forms inside the Super Conscious Unity system of consciousness ahead of us in time, all of which are just higher evolved energy structures completely inside and integrated with the entire universe. This view of forms is mostly in line with what it appears that Plato believed, although leaving out what should be classified as lesser properties.
For me, there are only four main forms. They are honor, responsibility, discipline, and humility. Reaching for these forms as individuals MUST be done because not only is it good for the individual, but I believe it is actually intrinsically necessary for our survival as a species. There surely are more forms, but I believe that there are not many, and they can be difficult to identify. For example, love is NOT one, because you don't reach for it, it just happens. In any case, honor is the clearly the most important form. I believe in honor to the bitter end; honor above all (especially money), and I believe honorable behavior in general will save us as a species.
So how do these forms or active conscious states really exist? First we have to get a picture of how consciousness itself exists. To sum up, consciousness is a new form of energy being generated into existence by the brain, that has its own physical structure that is separate from the brain. Now, I believe that a very fundamental characteristic of our universe is that it is completely continuous. In other words, there is nothing truly discrete in our universe, only interconnected energy systems. So, since everything is continuous and interconnected in our universe, so are our minds. Consequently, This physical structure of the mind is completely interwoven into the continuous fabric of the universe; it is just so complex that we cannot measure it at this time. When this is grasped, it is then possible to conceive of an idea or form as an incredibly complex interwoven structure of energy that is inside this overall energy structure of the mind. Therefore, ideas (and experiences) are continuous structures that are integrated together just like every other structure in the universe. This I believe is the actual definition of a Quale.
So what about the lesser properties then? I think that they are physical energy patterns that function as characteristics interwoven into an overall idea, which of course is also a physical entity, which of course is continuous in nature as stated above. So for example the property of green-ness plus the property of chair-ness are continuously interwoven into your mental image of a green chair. You can learn the color green from this chair, and when you see something else green you will remember, and the property of green-ness will be smoothly integrated into your mental picture of the other thing you are looking at that is green. Actually it is probably likely that your understanding of the new green chair is integrated with your first experience of green and your first experience of a chair, and this is of course an actual physical energy integration. Properties then are complex interwoven parts of ideas which themselves are integrated energy representations of external reality. So I believe Plato was essentially right about the lesser forms having actual existence as well.
Now, I believe that the way that one accesses an active conscious state form like responsibility is through a building up of awareness (is awareness a form? You decide!) Now I want to make a distinction here between what I would call smart, and awareness itself. Smart is analytical. It sees the solution to tight logical problems and straightens them out. It's penetrating. Awareness however is different. Awareness is wide. It's also empathetic and creative, but what it truly does is handle a lot of information and synthesize it into a cohesive operationally useful mental picture. A good illustration of awareness is perhaps the CEO of a company verses one of his employees. The employee sees one small part of the company; the CEO sees the whole thing. An individual reaching a form is quite literally an energy transaction between the individual and the Super Conscious Unity, and it is a very powerful feeling; It is a feeling that is often called the transcendental experience. Incidentally, there are no negative forms. There is not a form for evil. Evil is the ABSENCE of a form. Bad behavior is really just a lack of access to higher forms. Also, machines will never reach the forms. In order of complexity you have machines, biology, than the human brain, and then the human mind. The differences between the levels of complexity of these four things are orders of magnitude from each other. It is clear to me that the higher level forms are extremely complex. That is why awareness is so important; more awareness to handle more complexity, and to therefore reach the higher forms.
Another interesting aspect of reaching one of these forms is that it organizes the world around you. Remember everything in this universe is completely interconnected, that includes your mind and everything else that exists. I believe acting with honor will have positive ramifications ahead of you in time that you can't even imagine. Whereas acting with dishonor creates waves of chaos around you that can wreck you.
An interesting ramification of this arrangement of forms would be that any conscious entity evolving in the universe on any planet anywhere will have access to (or they can be reached for) these same forms, again such as honor, discipline, honesty, and responsibility, that we do. This ties in with my belief that life is scattered evenly throughout the universe and is at the same stage of development as we are, and that they as well are slowly evolving enough awareness to reach these forms, because the entire system is evolving into perfect consciousness (the Super Conscious Unity.) Therefore, these forms really are UNIVERSALS in the actual sense of the word!
Frankly, relative to the problem of universals, I see what I always see when I see philosophers attacking a problem with nothing but logic. Logic is discrete, but reality is continuous. As you may also have understood from my previous work, I believe reality is also half order and half chaos on every level. Anyway, We are going to see errors and problems in our grasp of reality if we only use logic to try and comprehend it! There will be no progress in philosophy until this fundamental concept is grasped. It is clear to me that Plato's concept of the form of the good from which all forms follow is still useful as a rougher view of what is really going on (Plato was one very aware man!) So, to sum up, I believe there are actual forms for certain advanced active conscious states but not inactive ones, but not for what should be classified as lesser properties, and that these forms (and lesser properties as well) have an actual physical existence, and hopefully I've done a good job of illustrating this. I believe we as a people (the ENTIRE human race) MUST reach for the forms; our survival depends on it.
The 21st century needs its own philosophy; here it is: