DESIGN FOR A TRANSCENDENTAL BRIDGE
The Linkage Of Universal And Particular
"The Bridge Across Consciousness" is based on a design taken from
epistemology and the philosophy of mind. The fundamental concept is
large-scale, and quite simple.
In essence, it is proposed that all human cognitive activity -- all
thoughts, all ideas, all concepts -- can be understood as distributed or
organized within one single "transcendent and integral" framework, which
takes a hierarchical form, linking "universals" (general principles or
concepts) to "particulars" (specific facts or concrete objects), across a
series of "descending levels of abstraction".
This linkage across levels of abstraction can be diagrammed as follows:
"THE BRIDGE ACROSS CONSCIOUSNESS"
"Highest level" "Lowest level"
Levels of Abstraction
Across this single distribution of levels, this design organizes all
branches of cognitive activity, including all types of academic
disciplines. In rough and approximate terms, we can generally position
subjects like philosophy and religion near the left pole of this spectrum,
and topics like physics and other empirical sciences near the right.
Other subjects, such as history or anthropology or sociology, can be
understood as occupying positions somewhere in the middle of this array.
In general, the concepts of the various disciplines are assembled from,
and defined in terms of, concepts at lower levels of abstraction.
Thus, the concepts of a physical science like chemistry are defined
in terms of physics, a science defined at a lower level of abstraction.
A science like biology can be understood in terms of the concepts of chemistry.
Seen this way, there is a clear "hierarchy of concepts" that links the
relationship between various academic and scientific disciplines.
This hierarchy of abstraction illustrates the relationship between
holism and reductionism -- as well as between abstraction and empiricism,
and synthesis and analysis.
Given this framework, many of the most challenging problems in philosophy
can be understood as involving the linkage across these levels. The
problem of "grounding" abstract concepts, and assigning them a precise and
unambiguous meaning -- a process that is essential to the scientific method
-- can be seen as a "mapping" from high-level abstractions, on the left
of this chart, to specific facts or lowest-level empirical particulars
on the right. Since many of the concepts of religion and metaphysics
involve highly inclusive and holistic abstractions, discussions concerned
with "the relationship of science and religion" can be approached
through this structure. And psychological models concerned with
"the right-brain/left-brain relationship" can be described in these
The Universal Hierarchy of Abstraction is a
complex and ambitious general theory of cognitive structure, defined in
terms of the mathematical concepts of dimensionality. Through this
integrated framework, it is possible to define a determinate algebraic
linkage between "empirical measurements" defined near the right pole of
this spectrum, and "qualitative abstractions", defined near the left pole.
This linkage is defined in terms of "ad hoc top-down decomposition", and
is consistent with classical theories of abstraction and measurement.
The Bridge Across Consciousness is thus defined in terms of algebraic
connections across levels of abstraction.
This logical principle can be diagrammed in somewhat more detail as
"THE BRIDGE ACROSS CONSCIOUSNESS"
infinite <--many dimensions | few dimensions--> zero
<-Highest level of abstraction | Lowest level of abstraction->
Levels: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
|<------Main Index of Levels------->|
|-->"top down" "bottom up"<--|
Abstract | | Concrete
|-->deduction induction<--| Actual Object X
For a more complete explanation, see the essays on
Universal Hierarchy of Abstraction and