There’s more to be said about the Fink and Tomasello books. There are always more books to read and to talk about. But now I’m going to try to start laying out a systematic ktismatics – a theory and practice of creation. We’ll see how far I get, and whether it makes sense to those of you who feel like commenting – which I encourage you to do. I’m going to write it like a manifesto, with numbered points, revising them as appropriate based on discussion and subsequent elaboration. I’ll start with the idea of reality…
1. Things exist, but they have no intrinsic meaning – they just are.
2. Meaning is a mental scheme for making sense of things.
A universe can exist that has no intelligent beings in it. However, “universe” isn’t just all the stuff there is – it’s also a name for all the stuff, a way of categorizing and thinking about all the stuff. “Universe” means “all the stuff there is.” If the universe contains no intelligent beings who can think the idea of “universe,” then there can be no such thing as a universe. Bacteria and wolves live in environments, by instinct acting on and reacting to the stuff that’s around them, but they don’t have any idea of an environment.
3. Things embedded in a matrix of meaning constitute a reality.
The stuff that makes up the universe isn’t a universe. The idea “universe” isn’t a universe. The combination of the stuff and the idea is a universe.
4. There are many different ways to make sense of, or to ascribe meaning to, the same thing.
There’s an object in my pocket: it’s a thin disk, it weighs less than an ounce, it’s a piece of metal, it’s shiny and silver in color, it’s worth ten cents in U.S. currency, in a pinch it can be used as a screwdriver.
5. The same stuff participates in multiple realities.
The same object participates simultaneously in realities of shapes, of weights, of materials, of color and luminance, of economic exchange value, of tools.