Unraveling Reality     (Table of Contents) {Notes}

Unraveling Reality introduces the Spokes series with a survey of the heavens and Earth, a look into life, and an explanation of the nature of reality. This brief synopsis brims with material that illuminates the perspectives which Spokes coveys.

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From the chapter on Knowledge:

Astute observers sense that there is more going on than first appearances convey. So there has been a restless search for general principles, and for the foundations underlying existence. This was the thrust of natural philosophy that was inadvertently abandoned by science in its embrace of material empiricism.

Therein sits an open secret. Science has provided ample evidence which may be drawn upon to understand Nature and its derivation. But refusal to step beyond the phenomenal blocks the way. Behind this obstinacy is the religious belief that actuality is reality. Ignorance is learned, and then insisted upon. Hence the myth of scientific materialism: that reality is ultimately physical. It is a naïve empiricism.

From the section on Unseen Forces (in the chapter on Physics):

To understand motion is to understand nature. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

As da Vinci intimated, the seminal mystery is not in what is, but in the endowment that makes movement – the motive for motion. Modern physics was forged from explaining fields and the forces that impel them; an invisible realm to us, with only effects to guide comprehension. This is the first lesson of physics: that what is apparent is either only partial or wholly deceptive.

From the section on The Mind:

The mind is an intangible instrument which constantly creates the impression of us having a window onto the world, and into oneself.

The dream state illustrates that the mind is a fabricator rather than straight-forward presenter of existence. While awake, what phenomenally appears before us is a phantasmagoric multimedia display, imaginatively sewn from disparate sensations into a consistent story.

We take for granted that what we perceive is reality. Belief in our senses is instead a fantastic cage we build for ourselves, and so bound our comprehension.

From the section on Vitalism in the chapter Life's Story:

Life defies physics. Science has no accounting for how life can exist. Quite simply, we accept what cannot be denied.

The principle of vitalism states that living organisms possess a fundamental force which distinguishes them from inanimate matter; what is sometimes called a soul.

The idea of vitalism is prehistoric. Ancient Egyptians wrote of vitalism. Second-century Greek anatomist Galen, the most accomplished medical researcher in antiquity, held that vital spirits were necessary for life.

In embracing the concept of souls, vitalism underlies most religions. For Christianity particularly, a focus of quixotic inquiry has been pinpointing the superiority of humans – elucidating qualities that make man unique, such as being the sole possessor of a soul, thus justifying man's dominion over the Earth.

From the mid-17th century, during the Age of Enlightenment, vitalism lost its vitality. The idea of a spark of life was abandoned; supplanted by a pseudo-scientific, religious belief in reductionist chemistry, wherein life was merely a peculiar molecular combination.

For well over a century, ambitious chemists have repeatedly tried to reproduce life's origination. All they ever got was organic muck.

From the chapter on Beyond Phenomena:

Though we know thought to be abstract, science insists that the brain conjures the mind. At issue here is the heart of all philosophic thought and scientific endeavor – the nature of existence, and by extension, the essence of reality. Three possibilities exist. Our everyday experience is dualism, with a distinct body and mind encountering an outside world. If, instead, reality is a unicity, the proximate illusion of duality flows from a singular source. The wellspring of existence may either be from matter (materialism), or otherwise involve a unified Consciousness (immaterialism). Materialism and immaterialism are diametric concepts. If existence emanates from a unity, it must exclusively be either material or ethereal.

The grand delusion of materialism comes in confusing correlation with causality. Physical intelligence system activities, such as brain waves and chemical reactions, may synchronously coincide with mentation. But it's not the brain telling the mind what to think.


Alas, Unraveling Reality has a few typos in the 1st printing, for which the author apologizes. Page 21 mistakenly identifies physicist Erwin Schrödinger as Danish, rather than Austrian (which the biographical section correctly indicates). Page 82 incorrectly mentions that animals arose during the Cryogenian period, 800 million years ago (mya). Instead, that correct time estimate (800 mya) was during the Tonian period. Corrections appear in the 2nd printing.

Spokes begins in earnest with Spokes 1: The Science of Existence.