Christian Relaunch


On the diagram, each arrow points to a dependent realm from its root. (Intermodal dependency is explained in the "Ontology" page.)

In the table, each realm's name links to a page that explores it in more detail. Some of these are mere stubs; sufficient for present purposes, but I hope at some point to fill in more detail.

Realm Modality Study Subject Verb Standard Criterion
Occurrence Physical Physics Particle Move (n/a) (n/a)
Life Biotic Biology Cell Live (n/a) (n/a)
Growth Organic Organics Organism Grow (n/a) (n/a)
Behaviour Ethoic Ethology Psyche Behave (n/a) (n/a)
Knowledge Epistemic Epistemics Mind Know Accurate Truth
Action Pragmatic Praxeology Agent Act Efficacious Achievement
Expression Semiotic Semiotics Personality Express Clear Communication
Respect Timeic Timeics Respecter Respect Just Justice
Conversation Sunomilic Sunomilics Interlocutor Converse Genial Accord
Altruism Agapeic Agapeics Donor Help Generous Benefit
Commitment Epangelic Epangelics Liege Promise Loyal Fealty
Decoration Cosmetic Cosmetics Decorator Decorate Stylish Beauty
Reverence Reveric Reverics Reverer Revere Sublime Transcendentality

The following topics concern the realms as a whole.

Names. For some modalities, no traditional adjective seems suitable, so I have constructed one from Greek. Traditional practice would append "-al" to these, as in the old "cosmetical", but now "cosmetic" serves as both noun and adjective, and my new words follow this practice.

Cosmology. When physicists mention "cosmology" they usually mean physical cosmology, the physics of the cosmos as a whole. This abbreviation is harmful, for it tends (and is sometimes intended) to reinforce the view that ultimate reality is physical, and that for the truest picture of the world we should think big instead of thinking deep.

The shape of the nexus. If, accepting the ontological meta-model but with no knowledge of actual realms, I were to speculate on what shape or pattern of realm-nexus God would create, I might expect either a simple linear arrangement (a "natural sequence"), in which each realm depends on the previous one (as in Dooyeweerd, to whom my debt is big, but to whose theory I have presumed to apply Occam's Razor in this respect), or a complex or symmetrical arrangement of branchings and mergings. Reality seems to differ from any of these. Maybe there is some underlying principle that I am overlooking, though if so it would probably enable us to deduce the actual modalities themselves a priori, a project I suspect is not feasible, as explained in my Ontology.

Observing intermodal influences. The more modalities an influence spans, the harder it is to observe. For instance, no doubt the equilibrium underlying a human organism, manifest especially in the brain, contains patterns reflecting formal influences from various realms, but experimental observation of these is still in its infancy. And the material influences on higher occasions from organic habits, as expressed for instance in sayings like "He is a miser because his digestion is bad", are notoriously difficult to pin down, let alone the even more remote material influences from merely physical action.

Each of the following topics concerns a specific group of realms.

Art originally denoted technique or craft (Latin ars), as in "artisan", and this sense is preserved in the term "fine art", which distinguishes its object from mere craft ("coarse art") while conveying their commonality. But in recent centuries it has increasingly denoted expression, initially combined with technique but more recently relaxed to the point that wholly craftless expressions may be designated "art". Expression has plenty of words (being self-sufficient in this, you might say), and I see no reason why it should be given this one. However, to avoid ambiguity I never use it without clarification.

Beauty is sometimes used as a general term of approbation; probably that is mere metaphor, and certainly it is too broad for my purposes. More tangled is the conflation of decoration with certain forms of expression. The production of objets d'art combining these is a fine thing, but applause for such hybrids should not blind us to the basic forms. I reserve "beauty" for the cosmetic, and "clarity" for the semiotic; when folk use words carefully I think this is what they usually mean.

The good, the true and the beautiful. (The "truth" here is troth rather than accuracy.) Altruism, commitment and decoration share a certain ultimacy in that only reverence depends on them. Only generosity, loyalty and style are practised "for their own sake" relative to any other standard but transcendence. While agreeing with Paul of Tarsus that "knowledge puffs up but agape builds up", I would add that epangelia and diakosmesis also build up; Paul might accept the former under the heading of "agape" but would, I fear, regard the latter as inferior, and I differ with him on this. Aestheticists and Romantics, contrariwise, regard only beauty as of ultimate value: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty; this is all ye know on Earth, and all ye need to know" (Keats, Ode on a Nightingale). My analysis suggests otherwise. (That is all I say on this, and all I need to say.)

Number, space and movement. In Dooyeweerd's theory these are the first three modalities, peculiar in being more "abstract" than other modalities. I think this a needless anomaly, and have deprived them of their modality status. Instead, they emerge naturally as part of the theory of occasions, without reference to specific modalities.

Animals. Whether to class protozoa as animals is a biologic question. I suppose Dooyeweerd mistakes the freedom inherent in every occasion, but specifically the freedom of living occasions, for the ethoically-specific behaviour characteristic of sentience. But although probably not all animals are psyches, I think all psyches are animals, so calling them "higher animals" may be fair.

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