IPhoto by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Truth and Reality…

Integrating the Eternal with the Temporal

Richard Schutte
11 min readDec 13, 2023


“An error does not become a truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it”…

— Mahatma Gandhi

“Truth is the recognition of reality; reason, man’s only means of knowledge, is his only standard of truth”…

— Ayn Rand

“Truth is exact correspondence with reality”…

— Paramahansa Yogananda

As explored in Reality and Existence, 13th and 14th Century Scottish Catholic priest and Franciscan friar, philosopher, theologian, and university professor — John Duns Scotus — was able to stand on the shoulders of the giants of Western Civilisation’s intellectual tradition in an attempt to synthesise the foundations of Judeo-Christianity theology and Greek philosophy.

The integration of the philosophical ideas relating to the nature of being of Plato & Aristotle with eternal Christian Truths.

The development of a metaphysical framework (study of being and existence) that combined the transcendental (beyond the sensory experience) with the immanent (something sensed — our embodiment in the physical world).

A Conceptual Moderate Realism that provided a philosophical pathway between Plato’s Radical Realism & William of Occam’s Nominalism, and one which was informed by an overarching Judeo-Christian theological worldview.

“ “Real” is a word invented in the thirteenth century to signify having Properties, i.e. characters sufficing to identify their subject, and possessing these whether they be anywise attributed to it by any single man or group of men, or not”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

For Scotus, universals are not pre-existing entities in the external world ( in contrast to Saint Thomas Aquinas) but are rather mental concepts formed by abstraction from individual things.

It was an idea anchored in the Univocity of Being and a resultant question:

“How can the “ concept of being” be univocal without there being a nature common to God and to creatures?” …

The Essence of Western Civilisation Philosophical Thought — Integrating the Eternal with the Temporal

“There is an eternal and unchangeable order of truths and values, which we can come into contact with using intellectual intuition”…

— Augusto del Noce

“European civilisation rose on the principle of a world of universal and eternal truths, in which all men participate — on the principle of the Logos, in other words”…

— Augusto del Noce

“It is modern times that need eternal ideas, not the other way around”…

— Augusto del Noce

Civitas Hominis and Civitate Dei (City of Man and City of God) highlighted how the arrival of Modernity and Post-Modernity radically changed the nature of Western Civilisation which began decoupling the integration that had been underway by the Scholastics that had culminated in the ideas of Scotus ( refer above ).

For over two millennia, the relationship between Man (created) and God (creator) had been at the heart of the Western Civilisation enlightenment project.

The nexus between the Spiritual (God), Mental ( Consciousness Self) and Physical World (Material).

From the Judeo-Christian Triadic relationship of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) of the Christian faith grew an ever-expanding tree of knowledge branching into the domains of theology, philosophy, civics, science and education that reflected the Unity of Divine and a Trinity.

These included inter alia:

Western Civilisations intellectual tradition was a reflection of the relationship between the:

  • Temporal: City of Man (civitas hominis), created, and immanent; and
  • Eternal City of God (civitate dei), creator and transcendent.

“His knowledge is not like ours, which has three tenses: present, past, and future. God’s knowledge has no change or variation”…

― Augustine of Hippo

Judeo-Christian theology was centred on God (the creator — the eternal) and Man & the Natural World (the created — the temporal).

Ancient Greek philosophy of Aristotle and Plato was grounded in the notions of the metaphysical (forms — the eternal) and physical (matter — the temporal).

Medieval Scholasticism culminated in the ideas of theologians and philosophers such as Duns Scotus (refer to Reality and Existence) attempting to mould the doctrines of Aristotle into harmonising metaphysics with Christian Truth.

“For what is it for a thing to be Real? [ — ] To say that a thing is Real is merely to say that such predicates as are true of it, or some of them, are true of it regardless of whatever any actual person or persons might think concerning that truth. Unconditionality in that single respect constitutes what we call Reality”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

The core foundations of Western Civilisation had been built on a deep-seated belief that reality could only be revealed through a combination of faith and reason seeking eternal transcendent truths in a temporal ever-changing physical world

Modernity and Post-Modernity: Metaphysics shifts from the Vertical & Transcendent to the Horizontal & Immanent

“Modern science… started in the 1600s when the search for “vertical causality” (from physics to metaphysics) was replaced by the one for “horizontal causality”, in the sense of searching for laws that express constant relationship between phenomena”…

— Augusto Del Noce

Before the emergence of Modernity, the idea of realism, universals and an objective eternal reality independent of our thoughts was a commonly held belief.

However, by the 17th Century, this idea was beginning to be questioned and challenged as Western Society re-orientated towards Cartesianism, Nominalism, Empiricism and Materialism.

A gravitational pull towards the individual, the conscious self, ego, phenomenology and the world experienced.

Reality was increasingly being shaped and constructed through receiving inputs from an external World as experienced through our five senses.

A psychology of sensationalism where whatever is sensed is caused by something without the mind.

A Rousseau liberal view of reality illuminated through our feelings.

Consciousness and identity of one-self being driven through ones feelings and morals being shaped by a state of nature and general will.

“To exist is to feel; our feeling is undoubtedly earlier than our intelligence, and we had feelings before we had ideas”…

– Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Sir Francis Bacon the father of inductive reasoning that shaped the scientific method was critical of the prevailing orthodoxy anchored in deductive reasoning, Aristotelean term logic and the Medieval scholastic metaphysics approach, which he believed had become increasingly dogmatic, rigid, abstracted and ultimately, inhibited humanity’s progress towards revealing new knowledge.

He recognised that such reasoning could be grounded in false assumptions (axioms) that perpetuated pre-existing beliefs and dogmatic truth claims.

Idols of the Mind and abstract principles lead to distorted perceptions and flawed conclusions.

Instead, he advocated for a new method in his work the Novum Organum where scientific inquiry should be based on a systematic and organised approach of observing, experimenting, and collecting data from the natural world.

“Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy; for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay it up in the memory whole, as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding altered and digested”…

― Francis Bacon

Bacon’s approach highlighted the importance of empirical evidence and inductive reasoning, where general conclusions are drawn from specific observations and experiences.

It was a recognition of our embodiment and entanglement in the World.

“Physics is where nature checks your maths”…

— Martin Bauer

Modernity and Post-Modernity — The Philosophy of Nominalism — The Temporal without the Eternal

“In short, there was a tidal wave of nominalism. Descartes was a nominalist. Locke and all his following, Berkley, Hartley, Hume, and even Reid, were nominalists. Leibniz was an extreme nominalist, and Remusat who has lately made an attempt to repair the edifice of Liebnizian monadology, does so by cutting away every part which leans at all towards realism. Kant was a nominalist; although his philosophy would have rendered compacter, more consistent, and stronger if its author had taken up realism, as he certainly would have done if he read Scotus. Hegel was a nominalist of realistic yearnings; I might continue the list much further, Thus, in one word, all modern philosophy of every sect has been nominalistic”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

The shift from metaphysics anchored in vertical causality (God, creation, transcendent, eternal) to horizontal causality (phenomenological patterns, natural laws, immanent, temporal ) was a radical and profound hard fork in the history of Western Civilisation's theological and philosophical thought.

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”…

Friedrich Nietzsche

Temples of Prayer were replaced with Temples of Reason and a Cult of Reason.

Logos ( refer to John 1:14) was no longer anchored in faith, love, spiritual contemplation, grace, illumination and discovery of man’s relationship with God that recognised the human gift of reason.

The human capacity to create and shape the world as desired.

Knowledge was power and could be industrialised codified, owned, controlled, communicated and readily re-applied.

Realism (the notion of universals and abstract entities that exist in themselves) was being replaced by Nominalism in which only individual things exist, and general categories or abstract entities are considered mere names or mental constructs that simplify complexity without any representation of an independent reality.

“Nominalism, however, appears in psychology as sensationalism; for nominalism arises from taking the view of reality which regards whatever is in thought as caused by something in sense, and whatever is in sense as caused by something without the mind”…

— Charles Sanders Peirce

It reflected a materialistic source of illumination of the conscious self to how reality was perceived.

The physical without the spiritual and phenomena without noumena.

The temporal without the eternal.

“The reality of a thing consists in its retaining its own characters quite independently of whatever opinion or fancy you or I or any man or generation of men may entertain about it. Reality has its grades. Any object which maintains its characters with sufficient steadiness to make one proposition false and another true has sufficient reality for the purposes of the mathematician”…

Charles Sanders Peirce, 1903 [c.]

Adrift: Reality and Truth was now unmoored — Science 3.0 and the Disruption of Nominalism

“The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism”…

— Albert Camus

As outlined in Adrift, the re-orientation towards a Primacy of Human Consciousness Conscious Self Ego, coupled with the almost universal embracement of Nominalism, the dismissal of Transcendental Metaphysics and the shift from vertical to horizontal causality, and decoupling in the Semiotic Triadic resulted in Western Civilisation becoming increasingly unmoored from reality.

The Modern Mind was now in a complete state of disarray — adrift — as the objectivity sought from Modernism had collided with the subjectivity of Post-Modernism.

A growing cognitive dissonance where the sole source of illumination was the interplay between the Conscious Self Ego and human sensations in a dynamic complex changing world.

Nominalism and the collapse of a Double Consciousness (Peirce: Altersense) into a Single ConsciousnessTemporal without the Eternal

[ Altersense — Double Consciousness]

The meta crisis was a crisis of metaphysics that was about to be further amplified by a scientific research paper released on 6 June 2023.

The ramifications of which were only beginning to be understood.

The paper released by Professor Stuart Kauffman and Assistant Professor Andrea Roli was titled A third transition in science?

The whole edifice of Modernity had been built on the Cartesian World View where the Natural World, Mind and Body were viewed as mechanical Newtonian machines.

An idea that had taken a foothold in the Academy where through the combination (i.e. STEM) of:

  • Discovery: the scientific method and revealing phenomenological patterns of reductionism and abstraction (heuristics); and
  • Creation: prediction, manipulation, engineering and technology

where humanity could apparently now master and transform the nature of reality.

By the early part of the 21st Century, transhumanism, the singularity, artificial general intelligence, genetic engineering, bioengineering, and geoengineering had become the new vernacular of the technocracy.

The paper completely undermines this contemporary worldview and the very notion that reality could be solely shaped by the Primacy of Human Consciousness Conscious Self — Ego.

For over two thousand years before the emergence of Modernity reality was a symbiotic relationship between the Creator (God) and the Created (Natural World, Humanity ).

A quote:

“The evolving biosphere advances into the adjacent possibles it creates, but we cannot deduce what is ‘in’ that adjacent possible. Therefore, we do not know the sample space of the process, hence can neither define a probability measure, nor define ‘random’. We truly have no well-founded expectations. This contrasts sharply with the common Kolmogorov axioms of probability where the sample space must be known.

The implications are very large. If we can write and solve no equations for the diachronic evolution of our or any biosphere and our evolving universe has at least one evolving biosphere, there can be no theory of everything that entails what comes to exist in the evolving universe. The famous equation destined for the T-shirt, it now seems, does not exist”…

A new framework of reality was urgently required given that emergence in complex dynamic systems was not engineering.

The ideas of Modernity and Post-Modernity were now being exposed for what they were.

A focus on the City of Man without a City of God.

A focus on an ego-centric version of reality (Hegel’s Second Nature & Nominalism) rather than a reality where human agency is guided by both the eternal and temporal.

It was time once again to reinvigorate and continue the unfinished enlightenment project that for over two millennia had culminated in the work of Duns Scotus and other medieval Scholastics.

Revisiting the Scholastic project to integrate the philosophical doctrines of Aristotle, Plato Duns Scotus and Peirce on the nature of being and harmonising these principles with eternal theological Christian Truths.

A compatibilism that recognised the inherent nature of the human condition including boundary constraints of human agency and free will such as natural & eternal laws and divine providence.

“To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law”…

— Martin Luther King Jr




Richard Schutte

Innovation, Intrapreneurship, Entrepreneurship, Complexity, Leadership & Community Twitter: @complexityvoid