The ontology of the whole

"Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences."
Wikipedia: https://goo.gl/9QQZVs

This project is guided by an emerging global vision of Oneness, which we see arising around us in the spirit and ideas of many people from many different cultural groups, who sense the possibilities of broadly inclusive community organized around wholeness and unity.

In this Weaving Unity network, we follow this idea and propose a classical model of "the whole" -- a universal container of the universe and all things in it.

We interpret this idea in modern mathematical terms, suggesting a a multi-level ontology, with something like "The One" of Plotinus at the top and containing all concepts as this One is divided by the the psychological forces of "duality" into concepts.

In simple mathematical terms, we are seeing the One as an "unbounded interval" that is "isomorphic" ("self-similar", or identical in form) to all levels below it, into which it is partitioned (divided).

Much of the Weaving Unity projects centers on this process of differentiating the primary undifferentiated unity, into all possible categories and concepts. We are suggesting that a precise understanding of this process can be significantly helpful in in the task the world community reweave a sense of primal unity in all facets of culture and spiritual life.

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  • We are aligned with an ancient and highly-documented philosophic tradition
  • We are developing a modern interpretation of this tradition grounded in science, engineering and mathematics
  • We are building a broadly inclusive framework that brings together many ideas and traditions and cultures through this common framework

Through this model

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology

Plotinus and the One
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Plotinus was a major Greek-speaking philosopher of the ancient world. In his philosophy, described in the Enneads, there are three principles: the One, the Intellect, and the Soul.

His teacher was Ammonius Saccas and he is of the Platonic tradition. Historians of the 19th century invented the term Neoplatonism and applied it to him and his philosophy which was influential in Late Antiquity.

Much of the biographical information about Plotinus comes from Porphyry's preface to his edition of Plotinus' Enneads. His metaphysical writings have inspired centuries of Pagan, Islamic, Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic metaphysicians and mystics.

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Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity, or distinction; beyond all categories of being and non-being. His "One" "cannot be any existing thing", nor is it merely the sum of all things (compare the Stoic doctrine of disbelief in non-material existence), but "is prior to all existents". Plotinus identified his "One" with the concept of 'Good' and the principle of 'Beauty'. (I.6.9)

His "One" concept encompassed thinker and object. Even the self-contemplating intelligence (the noesis of the nous) must contain duality. "Once you have uttered 'The Good,' add no further thought: by any addition, and in proportion to that addition, you introduce a deficiency." (III.8.11) Plotinus denies sentience, self-awareness or any other action (ergon) to the One (to En; V.6.6). Rather, if we insist on describing it further, we must call the One a sheer potentiality (dynamis) or without which nothing could exist. (III.8.10) As Plotinus explains in both places and elsewhere (e.g. V.6.3), it is impossible for the One to be Being or a self-aware Creator God. At (V.6.4), Plotinus compared the One to "light", the Divine Intellect/Nous (Nous; first will towards Good) to the "Sun", and lastly the Soul (Psyche) to the "Moon" whose light is merely a "derivative conglomeration of light from the 'Sun'". The first light could exist without any celestial body.

The One, being beyond all attributes including being and non-being, is the source of the world—but not through any act of creation, willful or otherwise, since activity cannot be ascribed to the unchangeable, immutable One. Plotinus argues instead that the multiple cannot exist without the simple. The "less perfect" must, of necessity, "emanate", or issue forth, from the "perfect" or "more perfect". Thus, all of "creation" emanates from the One in succeeding stages of lesser and lesser perfection. These stages are not temporally isolated, but occur throughout time as a constant process.

The One is not just an intellectual concept but something that can be experienced, an experience where one goes beyond all multiplicity. Plotinus writes, "We ought not even to say that he will see, but he will be that which he sees, if indeed it is possible any longer to distinguish between seer and seen, and not boldly to affirm that the two are one."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plotinus

Interpretation of Plotinus
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The Weaving Unity project is built on the foundation of Oneness or One, in ways intended to be consistent with the translated statement found on the Wikipedia Plotinus page.

We think this statement can seen as consistent with

  • A universal cosmology as developed by physicists and astrophysicists
  • A general theory of conceptual structure and form as developed by cognitive scientists
  • An algebraic foundation for mathematics and set theory as developed by mathematicians
  • A universal interfaith/interspiritual philosophy of religion and theology describing God and Godhead, as known and defined in innumerable ways by various religious and spiritual traditions

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent "One", containing no division, multiplicity, or distinction; beyond all categories of being and non-being.

We understand this idea as the"master container" for all possible conceptualization and ideas. It is the master concept, the "concept of all concepts", and the concept from which all other concepts are derived through a process of drawing distinctions.

His "One" "cannot be any existing thing", nor is it merely the sum of all things (compare the Stoic doctrine of disbelief in non-material existence), but "is prior to all existents". Plotinus identified his "One" with the concept of 'Good' and the principle of 'Beauty'. (I.6.9)

  • The one is not an existing thing or "a thing". It is a "pure abstraction", a "pure idea", and its only existence is as an idea.
  • Is it a fountain-head, a cornucopia, the source from which all things spring? Perhaps yes, when see from that perspective, as a infinitesimal center-point, the unknowable and unnameable source from which all things emanate (see Plotinus on emanationism)
  • It is not "the sum of all things" -- but is instead the fountainhead or universal framework from which all conceptual form and all that exists is manifested -- and all "categories of things" emerge
  • It is "prior to all existents" -- which may mean "previous in time", or simply of higher precedence in the order of things -- it comes first in the descending cascade of all that exists
  • In the context of taxonomy or the child's game Twenty Questions ("Is it plant, animal or mineral?), the top level of the container of all options, the container of all mystery, from which all specificity emerges

His "One" concept encompassed thinker and object. Even the self-contemplating intelligence (the noesis of the nous) must contain duality. "Once you have uttered 'The Good,' add no further thought: by any addition, and in proportion to that addition, you introduce a deficiency." (III.8.11) Plotinus denies sentience, self-awareness or any other action (ergon) to the One (to En; V.6.6). Rather, if we insist on describing it further, we must call the One a sheer potentiality (dynamis) or without which nothing could exist. (III.8.10)

This One is "the level in the ontology above duality -- prior to all distinctions, to all cuts, to all categories. It is like the top level in Twenty Questions, where all possibilities exist, but none is specified. In this sense, it is "pure uncertainty", entirely undefined or "under-specified" (as some professional semantic ontologists might say).

As Plotinus explains in both places and elsewhere (e.g. V.6.3), it is impossible for the One to be Being or a self-aware Creator God. At (V.6.4), Plotinus compared the One to "light", the Divine Intellect/Nous (Nous; first will towards Good) to the "Sun", and lastly the Soul (Psyche) to the "Moon" whose light is merely a "derivative conglomeration of light from the 'Sun'". The first light could exist without any celestial body.

This One is held in a kind of unknowable contemplative awareness, held in the mind of an incarnated person, perhaps as the top-level container of all thoughts that can arise within that person, the ultimate framework for their world-view and perspective on reality, the container of all categories they might use to describe the particulars of experience.

Pure abstraction is "beyond measurement". Measurement categorizes distinction, by which similarities and differences are cataloged and things are gathered together by their similarities. The top level is "the pure similarity of all things" -- which also might be described as "the pure oneness of all things" -- the continuum of reality beyond all distinction"

The top level has no attributes, no properties.

The One, being beyond all attributes including being and non-being, is the source of the world—but not through any act of creation, willful or otherwise, since activity cannot be ascribed to the unchangeable, immutable One. Plotinus argues instead that the multiple cannot exist without the simple. The "less perfect" must, of necessity, "emanate", or issue forth, from the "perfect" or "more perfect". Thus, all of "creation" emanates from the One in succeeding stages of lesser and lesser perfection. These stages are not temporally isolated, but occur throughout time as a constant process.

The One is not just an intellectual concept but something that can be experienced, an experience where one goes beyond all multiplicity. Plotinus writes, "We ought not even to say that he will see, but he will be that which he sees, if indeed it is possible any longer to distinguish between seer and seen, and not boldly to affirm that the two are one."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plotinus

Mathematical interpretation of Plotinus
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We interpret the Plotinus concept of The One in terms of the mathematics of "intervals". So we say "The One is an unbounded interval".

A multi-level ontology of the whole
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We are proposing a cascade of "levels of wholeness" expressed within a single ontological framework, such that all levels of human social organization can understood within this cascade across levels of scale. It is this framework that interconnects us all into one common wholeness and unity, and aligns our thinking into one common framework of Oneness.

Any taxonomy is a multi-level ontology of the domain for which it is relevant. We can make a taxonomy of locations on the planet.

  • Top -- upper ontology -- Plotinus-like level of of Wholeness and Oneness -- the absolute container of all things -- everything, every person, every level of social organization
  • Global -- everybody
  • National
  • Regional, state, local
  • City, neighborhood
  • Family, household
  • Individual human being

Ontology - information science
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In computer science and information science, an ontology encompasses a representation, formal naming, and definition of the categories, properties, and relations between the concepts, data, and entities that substantiate one, many, or all domains.

Every field creates ontologies to limit complexity and organize information into data and knowledge. As new ontologies are made, their use hopefully improves problem solving within that domain. Translating research papers within every field is a problem made easier when experts from different countries maintain a controlled vocabulary of jargon between each of their languages.

Since Google started an initiative called Knowledge Graph, a substantial amount of research has gone on using the phrase knowledge graph as a generalized term. Although there is no clear definition for the term knowledge graph, it is sometimes used as synonym for ontology. One common interpretation is that a knowledge graph represents a collection of interlinked descriptions of entities – real-world objects, events, situations or abstract concepts. Unlike ontologies, knowledge graphs, such as Google's Knowledge Graph, often contain large volumes of factual information with less formal semantics. In some contexts, the term knowledge graph is used to refer to any knowledge base that is represented as a graph.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology_(information_science)

Upper ontologies
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In information science, an upper ontology (also known as a top-level ontology or foundation ontology) is an ontology (in the sense used in information science) which consists of very general terms (such as "object", "property", "relation") that are common across all domains. An important function of an upper ontology is to support broad semantic interoperability among a large number of domain-specific ontologies by providing a common starting point for the formulation of definitions. Terms in the domain ontology are ranked "under" the terms in the upper ontology, and the former stand to the latter in subclass relations.

A number of upper ontologies have been proposed, each with its own proponents. Each upper ontology can be considered as a computational implementation of natural philosophy, which itself is a more empirical method for investigating the topics within the philosophical discipline of physical ontology.

Library classification systems predate upper ontology systems. Though library classifications organize and categorize knowledge using general concepts that are the same across all knowledge domains, neither system is a replacement for the other.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_ontology

Domain ontology
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Domain ontology

A domain ontology (or domain-specific ontology) represents concepts which belong to a part of the world, such as biology or politics. Each domain ontology typically models domain specific definitions of terms. For example, the word card has many different meanings. An ontology about the domain of poker would model the "playing card" meaning of the word, while an ontology about the domain of computer hardware would model the "punched card" and "video card" meanings.

Since domain ontologies are written by different people, they represent concepts in very specific and unique ways, and are often incompatible within the same project. As systems that rely on domain ontologies expand, they often need to merge domain ontologies by hand-tuning each entity or using a combination of software merging and hand-tuning. This presents a challenge to the ontology designer. Different ontologies in the same domain arise due to different languages, different intended usage of the ontologies, and different perceptions of the domain (based on cultural background, education, ideology, etc.).

At present, merging ontologies that are not developed from a common upper ontology is a largely manual process and therefore time-consuming and expensive. Domain ontologies that use the same upper ontology to provide a set of basic elements with which to specify the meanings of the domain ontology entities can be merged with less effort. There are studies on generalized techniques for merging ontologies, but this area of research is still ongoing, and it's a recent event to see the issue sidestepped by having multiple domain ontologies using the same upper ontology like the OBO Foundry.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontology_(information_science)#Domain_ontology

Project for global semantic ontology
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We are conceiving and imagining and beginning to build and activate a global-scale project for negotiating a common understanding of fundamental shared elements and ideas.

This task is the basic job of a professional semantic ontologist, working in a specific domain, such as the medical or pharmaceutical industries, where terminology must be clearly understood among diverse professionals working in the field.

In this Weaving Unity context, we are imagining the emergence of a range of global networks where specializations agree to negotiate common solutions to problems associated with ontology.

We are looking for a common foundation across the entire range of human experience and civilization. Of course hit is a huge objective and unprecedented, and perhaps unrealistic, and possibly even undesirable, since we do not fully foresee the consequences of pursing this agenda.

But it seems helpful and a step in the right direction. Can we begin to establish industry standards on some of these critical questions that are so critical to human collaboration in a context of high diversity?

The beginningless universe
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Buddhist cosmology, Dalai Lama, the universe in a single atom, beyond time, consistency with Plotinus

  • Linearly recursive form across all levels, from the infinite to the infinitesimal
  • Contains all (specific, concrete, particular) forms in an orderly way

Nous
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Nous, sometimes equated to intellect or intelligence, is a term from classical philosophy for the faculty of the human mind necessary for understanding what is true or real. English words such as "understanding" are sometimes used, but three commonly used philosophical terms come directly from classical languages: (? (from Ancient Greek), intellectus and intellegentia (from Latin). To describe the activity of this faculty, the word "intellection" is sometimes used in philosophical contexts, as well as the Greek words noesis and noeîn . This activity is understood in a similar way (at least in some contexts) to the modern concept of intuition.

In philosophy, common English translations include "understanding" and "mind"; or sometimes "thought" or "reason" (in the sense of that which reasons, not the activity of reasoning). It is also often described as something equivalent to perception except that it works within the mind ("the mind's eye"). It has been suggested that the basic meaning is something like "awareness". In colloquial British English, nous also denotes "good sense", which is close to one everyday meaning it had in Ancient Greece.

This diagram shows the medieval understanding of spheres of the cosmos, derived from Aristotle, and as per the standard explanation by Ptolemy. It came to be understood that at least the outermost sphere (marked "Primu Mobile") has its own intellect, intelligence or nous - a cosmic equivalent to the human mind.

In Aristotle's influential works, the term was carefully distinguished from sense perception, imagination, and reason, although these terms are closely inter-related. The term was apparently already singled out by earlier philosophers such as Parmenides, whose works are largely lost. In post-Aristotelian discussions, the exact boundaries between perception, understanding of perception, and reasoning have not always agreed with the definitions of Aristotle, even though his terminology remains influential.

In the Aristotelian scheme, nous is the basic understanding or awareness that allows human beings to think rationally. For Aristotle, this was distinct from the processing of sensory perception, including the use of imagination and memory, which other animals can do. This therefore connects discussion of nous to discussion of how the human mind sets definitions in a consistent and communicable way, and whether people must be born with some innate potential to understand the same universal categories in the same logical ways. Deriving from this it was also sometimes argued, especially in classical and medieval philosophy, that the individual nous must require help of a spiritual and divine type. By this type of account, it came to be argued that the human understanding (nous) somehow stems from this cosmic nous, which is however not just a recipient of order, but a creator of it. Such explanations were influential in the development of medieval accounts of God, the immortality of the soul, and even the motions of the stars, in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, amongst both eclectic philosophers and authors representing all the major faiths of their times.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nous