For better or for worse, America was founded on Liberalism and has since been defined by it. The subject of Liberalism is the Individual, thus, to be an American is to be, first and foremost, an individual. Or at least, this has been the ideal. Today, Liberalism has exhausted itself into self-parody: transgenderism, transhumanism and transracialism all signal the fulfillment of Liberalism’s logical end, freedom from any collective or biological identity.
In response, the 20th century’s other two political theories have made a resurgence, at least online. Fascism made a comeback in 2016 when it managed to take over the more radical elements of the AltRight and through a non-White ethnonationalism exemplified by the cult of “Woke” and Black Lives Matter.
Marxism has also reasserted itself as the amorphous golem called “democratic socialism”. Rather than create a viable Fourth political theory, which for America doesn’t appear to be on the horizon, perhaps the best course of action is to aim for a revitalization and reorientation of Liberalism, albeit in an Archeofuturist direction.
To do this, a new metaphysics needs to be developed, one that rejects materialism while preserving individualism. Why? Because metaphysics precedes epistemology and epistemology precedes what can be known about anything, including the political.
In Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism, Alexander Dugin makes a passing attempt at exploring something like an American metaphysics, in the form of an “American theology”:
We are coming to a very important conclusion: there is a premise for a very special American form of theology, an inverted individualist Platonism that discovers the transcendence of God by creating it for himself. American theology is comparable to rain — each drop is the American soul created by the American rain, which is a rain of spirit. Such a theology is individually monotheistic, socially polytheistic (there are many drops of rain), and normatively secular or atheistic. Each person can discover his or her personal god or spirit. Such an occasion is pragmatically necessary for everyone. But it cannot be imposed from the outside. It should be sought and found starting from the inside.
Dugin’s rain analogy is emphasized by the following observation that this spiritual rain is falling up rather than downwards. This is where our analysis begins and our agreement with Dugin ends, for, I believe, there is another way to create an American metaphysics without being, as he says, “individually monotheistic, socially polytheistic and normatively secular or atheistic.” ¹
To do this, we need to describe this metaphorical spiritual rain as one which falls before it ascends. To do this, I will be citing the philosophy of George Holmes Howison and the scientific research of Donald Hoffman. Howison developed a system of metaphysics which he called Personal Idealism and Hoffman has likewise developed a metaphysical paradigm called Conscious Realism, which is complimentary with Howison’s view but has the added benefit of being a scientific theory.
Personal Idealism says that the Unmoved Mover of classical metaphysics is not a position reserved for God alone, but one that is shared in a community of eternal intelligences to which every human being, along with God, belongs.
Howison insists that the only things that really exist are minds and “the objects and order of their experience.” Space-time and all that it contains, owe their existence to the “correlation and coexistence of minds.” ² This scheme is nothing less than a pluralistic idealism where all minds are self existent, independent and eternal; unlike in Monistic Idealism where there is only the one eternal Mind, with all other minds being mere aspects or manifestations of the One Mind.
This community of eternal minds constitutes “the City of God” à la Augustine, and is the ultimate ontic reality upon which all epistemic reality rests and owes it’s existence. The eternal minds, including God, are uncreated and co-eternal. Since none owes it’s existence to anything outside of itself, they are truly free, unique, independent moral agents. They are real persons and not derivatives or creations of the Person. The eternal minds exist “in and through their mutual thought correlation” ³ and sociality is what defines them to be in relationship with other intelligences. Far from being subject to the laws of nature, the eternal minds, of which God Himself is the greatest, are the authors of nature’s laws and they together constitute the First Cause.
The key to understanding Howison’s American metaphysics is that while Pantheists, Platonists and Dualists take turns exalting material, formal and efficient causality, Howison places God in the position of final cause. As Final Cause, God is the “eternally-realized Ideal” against which all other minds see themselves and by which the law of Evolution drives life onward. ⁴ In this paradigm, efficient causality exists solely in the realm of nature. ⁵ God reigns but doesn’t rule, He leads but does not control. He is what all other intelligence’s subconsciously desire to be. Personal Idealism also solves the problem of evil by absolving God of responsibility for the world’s fallen condition. Instead, the blame goes to the lesser intelligence’s of the “eternal city”, which includes every human being.
Personal Idealism also elevates human beings to the station of being truly free and moral agents, of change and creation, in the world. From the perspective of Tradition, this finds its analogy in the “you are That” of Vedanta, the “God became man, so that men can become gods” of the Church Fathers and the “I am the Truth” of Sufism. However, many modern men, especially those the True Right seeks to win over, won’t accept any metaphysical claim unless it can be backed up by science. Is there a scientific basis for Howison’s forgotten philosophy and, if so, does it offer a causal explanation for the world and our experience of it? Yes, and this is where the work of Donald Hoffman comes in.
Donald Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at UC Irvine, has developed a paradigm called conscious realism. Conscious realism holds that consciousness is the fundamental driving force of “reality” and not the mere epiphenomena of brains. It says that the physical world of space, time, matter and energy is the functional equivalent of a user interface on your cell phone. This is to say that it is not an ontic reality, but an epistemic reality attuned to fitness, not veracity.
Hoffman starts with a simple but profound insight: that natural selection selects for fitness payoffs in the form of reproductive success. Successful reproduction reflects a species’ success in adapting to it’s environment, thus organisms evolve to perceive existence in ways that increase their reproductive success and all that goes with it such as attracting a mate, being able to hunt prey and defending oneself from being preyed upon.
In his 2015 TedTalk ⁶, Hoffman uses the example of the Australian Jewel Beetle. This bug almost went extinct after an Australian beer company produced a bottle which appeared to have the same amber color of the Jewel Beetle. The males of the species stopped mating with the females because they wanted to mate with the bottles. Of course, the males didn’t understand what was happening. The male jewel beetles didn’t evolve to perceive female jewel beetles as such. Rather, the process of evolution provided them with a short cut, “if it’s shiny and amber then mate with it; the bigger the better.”
This observation should be obvious from a phenomenological perspective. Different organisms appear to have different hardware for seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling and processing information. Using cameras, microphones and computers as an analogy, the different sense organs and nervous systems of different organisms will create different worlds, like the different worlds revealed through radar, infrared, cellphone cameras, MRIs and X-rays. None of these devices show us the world as it really is but as how we need to perceive it to perform specific tasks.
Similarly, no organism perceives the world as it really is but only as it needs to be perceived, in order to eat, fight, flee and sexually reproduce as effectively as possible. This includes human beings. We, likewise, evolved not to perceive the world as it is but according to our need to sexually reproduce as successfully as possible. Hoffman uses the analogy of a desktop user interface on a computer.
As I type this piece on my tablet PC, there are a myriad of electrical processes happening within the hardware of my tablet PC that are too complicated and tedious for me to understand and directly interact with. It is for this reason that my tablet has a user interface that allows me to manipulate the computer for certain ends.
The “trash” icon on the screen isn’t a real trash can. Nor is the “mail” icon a real mailbox. These are short cuts which represent a deeper reality that I can’t navigate without the help of the user interface. This is because I’m unable to understand what’s really happening “behind the scenes” or act effectively even if I did. Because evolution is a mathematically precise theory, Hoffman and his colleagues have been able to run hundreds of thousands of evolutionary game simulations in random worlds with creatures that compete for “fitness payoffs.”
Some of the organisms see all of the reality, others see just part of the reality, and some see none of the reality, only fitness. Who wins? ⁷
Hoffman and his colleagues found that the simulated organisms attuned to not see any reality, only fitness payoffs, ultimately win the game of life. In other words, perceiving reality as it really is doesn’t make a species more fit, it actually makes it less fit. Only perceptions attuned to acquiring fitness payoffs assure a species’ survival. The implications of this observation are profound.
This means that space, time, matter and energy are not ontic realities; they’re epistemic icons in our shared user interface. However, unlike Howison, Hoffman isn’t a philosopher, he’s a scientist. Hoffman has a mathematically precise definition for what a conscious agent is:
A conscious agent, C, is a seven tuple C = (X, G, W, P, D, A, T), where X, G, and W are measurable spaces, P: W × X → X, D: X × G → G, and A: G × W → W are Markovian kernels, and T is a totally ordered set. ⁸
P is perception, D is decision and A is action. What’s more, Hoffman’s theory is truly scientific in that it’s falsifiable.
Conscious realism makes a bold claim: consciousness, not spacetime and its objects, is fundamental reality and is properly described as a network of conscious agents. To earn its keep, conscious realism must do serious work ahead. It must ground a theory of quantum gravity, explain the emergence of our spacetime interface and its objects, explain the appearance of Darwinian evolution within that interface, and explain the evolutionary emergence of human psychology. ⁹
In other words, if we can’t derive current physics, or solve riddles like “quantum gravity”, from the interaction of conscious agents then we can be sure that Hoffman’s hypothesis is false. However, he’s already replicated the formalism for the wave function of a free particle by mathematically describing the interaction of two conscious agents, so I’d say he’s off to a good start. ¹⁰
A simple synthesis of personal realism and conscious realism is possible by saying the following: All Minds are independent, free and moral agents which together create the world of space, time, matter and energy through perception. There are several benefits that this kind of American metaphysics might provide:
1). Man is back in the driver seat of his own destiny. If history really is cyclical then it’s only because we have allowed it to be. As co-creators of the world, we have a moral obligation to make it better, and we can make it better.
2). It gives a stronger metaphysical grounding for weltanschauung. We don’t just create world views, we create the world from our view.
3). Individuality, with it’s attendant rights, is grounded in a deeper metaphysical reality. It is innate and was never given to us by anyone, which is why it can never be taken away from us.
4). The possibility of having a scientific theology. If the definition of God is that of an infinite conscious agent, something like G = ((X, G, W, P, D, A, T)∞), then we might finally abandon the Cartesian divide between science and religion, returning us to a holistic picture of reality which is a characteristic of Tradition.
5). It gives us a metaphysical justification and explanation for hierarchy. In classical Liberalism, the purpose of government is to preserve the God-given freedoms of equals.
However, in a revitalized Liberalism, supported by a metaphysics of eternal conscious agents (some more intelligent than others), a republican form of government exists to both protect free, moral and creative agency and to amplify the same.
In this sense, the polis should be the visible representation of what already exists in a metaphysical plane; and exists to help us on our way to imitating God and doing His work, creation.
1). Alexander Dugin, Eurasian Mission: An Introduction to Neo-Eurasianism; Arktos London 2020, pg 112.
2). George Holmes Howison, “Personal Idealism”, George Holmes Howison Philosopher and Teacher: A selection from his writings with a biographical sketch; 1934, pg 128(Link
3). Ibid, 129.
4). Ibid, pg. 139.
5). Ibid, pg. 140.
6). Donald Hoffman, “Do we see reality as it is?”; TED2015(Link
), 7:08 min.
7). Ibid, 10:18 min.
8). Donald Hoffman, The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes; W.W. Norton and Company, 2019, pg. 225.
9). Ibid, pg. 220.
10). Hoffman, Donald & Prakash, Chetan. (2014). Objects of consciousness. Frontiers in psychology. 5. 577. 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00577(Link