My view is following:

Nothing exists on its own, existence is the property of interaction. But since every interaction is different, I conclude that existence itself is subjective. But then, what can we call objective? Objective develops from subjective, the more interactive experience there is, the more objective is our awareness about it. Thus, if we want to acknowledge something, we should consult different people about it, use different devices and methods. And more... more of them. Only then we can say what something is. Because "is" develops through interaction.

I don't see this is idealism, because it applies not only to mind, but to everything. Even particles exist for each other differently.

If there is a set view in philosophy, then how is it called?

  • See Monadology : "things in themselves (besides monads) do not exists and multiplies them in different points of view. Monads are perpetual living mirrors of the universe.” May 11, 2018 at 9:06
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA, well, my philosophy does not necessarily involve soul or reject it. It is independent, in fact, and moreover, existence of mind is not necessary for my philosophy to hold.
    – rus9384
    May 11, 2018 at 10:29
  • 2
    Linked to process ontology, though not necessarily identical. Some varieties may be.
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 11, 2018 at 11:44
  • @PhilipKlöcking Is this plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy related to Carnap's Aufbau "Logical Structure of the World" link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-009-9761-5_42 (where he more-or-less emphasizes broadly-defined "relations" which could be interpreted to include "process")? I see (from that page) it's related to Whitehead's en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Process_and_Reality which I kind of always read as more-or-less related with Carnap (same forest, different-but-nearby/same-species trees).
    – user19423
    May 13, 2018 at 7:10
  • 1
    @JohnForkosh: I am not sure I am in a position to agree, although I tend towards doing so from the things I do know about them. Carnapp is not mentioned nor sourced in the article, but hermeneutics and related streams in philosophy tend to result in process ontologies if expressing metaphysical positions at all, or so it seems. Volker Schürmann is arguing for such an interpretation of Helmuth Plessner's philosophical hermeneutics, for example.
    – Philip Klöcking
    May 13, 2018 at 13:14

5 Answers 5


There may be other names for it but for Buddhists this is the doctrine of 'dependent existence' or 'dependent origination'. This states that everything that exists (or seems to) does so in dependence on other existents thus does so only relatively. Thus existence is not fundamental but emergent.

It is a common view. The principle is famously proved by Nagarjuna in his Fundamental Verses on the Middle Way, also by Bradley in his Appearance and Reality and by GS Brown in Laws of Form.

It is not a subjective as opposed to objective view but takes us beyond the subjective/objective distinction.

It would be the reason why one thing alone cannot exist. At least two things would have to exist for one thing to exist and these two need an environment, which is three things. Monism fails where it implies that the world reduces to one existing substance or thing. It succeeds where it reduces existence to a phenomenon beyond substances, things, number and quantity thus beyond form.

It is the idea of dependent existence that makes sense of the mystical or non-dualist claim that nothing really exists. Where it does exist it would be only dependently or relatively, thus nothing exists independently or fundamentally.

The generic name for this philosophy would be 'non-dualism'. It may also appear as monism of a subtle kind. 'Advaita' (not-two) is a well-used name that conveys the idea. It may also be called 'mysticism' or the 'Perennial' philosophy. It is the only view that does not run into conceptual problems with piles of turtles or eternally-existing atoms.

It may also be called 'relative phenomenalism'. This phrase seems to have come into use with an article for the Journal of Consciousness Studies by Edward Barkin. Here's an extract.

"The idea behind modern phenomenalism would be that neither the transcendental object or subject exists in any concrete sense. Instead, one would postulate various possible combinations of phenomenal objects, the most coherent, complex and structured of which could be viewable as constituting emergent conceptual minds such as our own. In this case, the universe could be seen as fundamentally rooted in phenomena or mind.

As a result, there would be a tendency to reify mental phenomena, as in Berkeleian objective substance monism. However, I would argue that to do so would be as much of a mistake as to reify physical entities, since even the most basic mental properties can be shown to have a conceptual, and hence relative, non-objective aspect. In this idea’s original context, mainstream Buddhist philosophy, one would say that the reason to avoid endowing anything, including a qualitative state or a self, with the property of intrinsic, independent reality is that no object can be logically established without implicit or explicit reference to the causes and conditions which enable it to exist - including its parts and attributes and the very fact that a consciousness is required to mentally designate it a distinct entity in the first place. This principle is known as ‘dependent origination’ or ‘the interdependent nature of reality’. “

Edward Barkin ‘Relative Phenomenalism’ JCS Vol 10 No. 8 (2003)


Absolutism as defined and developed by F.H. Bradley in Appearance and Reality recognises universal interdependence through his doctrine of internal relations.

Here is a passage which, I'm afraid is less than totally clear, but in which you will catch clear echoes of your view :

There is but one Reality, and its being consists in experience.... And reality in the end belongs to nothing but the single Real. For take anything, no matter what it is, which is less than the Absolute, and the inner discrepancy at once proclaims that what you have taken is appearance. The alleged reality divides itself and falls apart into two jarring factors. The "what" and the "that" are plainly two sides which turn out not to be the same, and this difference inherent in every finite fact entails its disruption. As long as the content stands for something other than its own intent and meaning, as long as the existence actually is less or more than what it essentially must imply, so long we are concerned with mere appearance, and not with genuine reality. And we have found in every region that this discrepancy of aspects prevails. The internal being of everything finite depends on that which is beyond it. Hence everywhere, insisting on a so-called fact, we have found ourselves led by its inner character into something outside itself. And this self-contradiction, this unrest and ideality of all things existing is a clear proof that, though such things are, their being is but appearance. ( 'Herbert Francis Bradley, Appearance and Reality (2d ed.; London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., 1897), pp. 403-404.)

A more accessible statement of this kind of view is :

T. L. S. Sprigge, 'Intrinsic Connectedness', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 88 (1987 - 1988), pp. 129-145.

  • According to this view, is reality somewhat creating itself right now, and willcontinue to create itself, through interaction?
    – rus9384
    May 11, 2018 at 13:12
  • Interesting point. I think Bradley would say that reality as a whole doesn't change; he doesn't hold Hegel's developmental view of the Absolute. Nothing is really separable from anything else and what we see as interrelated things can't finally be identified as interrelated because their interconnectedness really makes them a single whole. But I can delete the answer if it prompts more questions than it answers. Let me know if you'd like it removed.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    May 11, 2018 at 13:26
  • I don't think I have more questions about this point. I understand what it means. But I would say, this point is much closer to Kantian view on things in themselves and that we can't ackowledge them right as they are.
    – rus9384
    May 11, 2018 at 13:32
  • Okay yes, that's a good point. Except that Kantianly we don't know that there are things in themselves as distinct from one thing in itself. Thanks for reply. Best - Geoff
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    May 11, 2018 at 13:44

This sounds like Hinayana (Theravedic) Buddhism. Chandradhar Sharma in his book A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Chapter V, section VI, says (available here - https://archive.org/details/IndianPhilosophyACriticalSurvey):



Let us give the main tenets of the Sarvastivada or the Vaibhasika school which the Sautrantikas also admit. Sarvastivada denies outright the existence of God whose place is taken by the Buddha and the theory of Karma. The so-called soul is reduced to a series of fleeting ideas. The so-called matter is nothing more than a series of momentary atoms of earth, water, fire and air. Everything is momentary. Change is the rule of the universe. Liberation is the extinction of all desires and passions.

The most important doctrine of this school is Ksanabhangavada, i.e., the theory of Momentariness. Sometimes it is also called Santanavada or the theory of Flux or Ceaseless Flow. It is applicable to mind and matter alike for both are momentary. Sometimes it is also referred to as Sarighatavada or the theory of Aggregates which means that the so-called ‘soul’ is only an aggregate of the five fleeting Skandhas, and the so-called ‘matter’ is only an aggregate of the momentary atoms. The denial of an eternal substance, spiritual as well as material, is called Pudgala-nairatmya.

Everything is momentary. Nothing is permanent. Body, sensation, perception, disposition, consciousness, all these are impermanent and sorrowful. There is neither being nor not-being, but only becoming. Reality is a stream of becoming. Life is a series of manifestations of becoming. There is no ‘thing’ which changes; only ceaseless change goes on. Everything is merely a link in the chain, a spoke in the wheel, a transitory phase in the series. Everything is conditional, dependent, relative, pratltyasamutpanna. Everything is subject to birth and death, to production and destruction, to creation and decay. There is nothing, human or divine, that is permanent. To quote the excellent words of Shelley:

‘Worlds on worlds are rolling ever, From creation to decay, Like the bubbles on a river, Sparkling, bursting, borne away.’

‘Everything is sorrow (sarvam duhkham); everything is devoid of self (sarvam anatma); everything is momentary (sarvam ksanikam)’ is said to be the roaring of the Sugata-Lion (saugata simhanada). Two classical similes are given to illustrate the doctrine of universal momentariness, that of the stream of a river and that of the flame of a lamp. Heraclitus said: ‘You cannot bathe twice into the same river.’ Hume said: ‘I never can catch "myself". Whenever I try, I stumble on this or that perception.’ William James said: ‘The passing thought itself is the thinker.* Bergson said: ‘Everything is a manifestation of the flow of E'lan Vital.' A river is not the same river the next moment. The water in which you have once taken your dip has flown away and has been replaced by another water. A river is only a continuous flow of different waters. Similarly a flame is not one and the same flame. It is a series of different flames. One volume of water or one flame continually succeeds another volume of water or another flame. The rapidity of succession preserves continuity which is not broken. Similarity is mistaken as identity or sameness. The so-called ‘same flame’ is only a succession of so many similar flames, each flame lasting for a moment. The fact that a flame is a series of so many similar flames can be easily noticed when in a hurricane lantern, due to some defect, the succession of flames is obstructed and one flame succeeds another after a slight interval. Identity, therefore, is nothing but continuity of becoming. The seed becomes the tree through different stages. The child becomes the old man through different stages. Rapidity of succession gives rise to the illusion of unity or identity or permanence. ‘Just as a chariot wheel in rolling rolls only at one point of the tyre, and in resting rests only at one point; in exactly the same way the life of a living being lasts only for the period of one thought. As soon as that thought has ceased the living being is said to have ceased.’ 1 ‘The wheel of the cosmic order goes on without maker, without beginning.’ 2

and a few pages later he writes:

In upholding all these doctrines, the Vaibhasika and the Sautrantika are in agreement. They differ in the following:

(1) The Vaibhasika attaches supreme importance to the commentaries called Mahavibhasa and Vibhasa on an Abhidharma treatise called Abhidharma-jnana-prasthana, while the Sautrantika attaches supreme importance to the Sutrantas or Sutras of the Sutrapitaka. Hence their names.

(2) The Vaibhasika, like Descartes and some modern neo-realists, believes in direct realism and may be called a presentationist, while the Sautrantika, like Locke and some modern critical realists, believes in the ‘copy theory of ideas’ and may be called a representation. According to the Vaibhasika, external objects are directly known in perception. He believes in Bahya-pratyaksa-vada. The Sautrantika, on the other hand, believes in Bahyanumcyavada because, according to him, external objects are not directly perceived, but only indirectly inferred. We do not know the thing-in-itself or the svalaksana. We know only ideas which are copies or mental pictures of reality and from these copies we infer the existence of the originals. The criticism of the Vaibhasika against this view is that if we do not know the originals, we cannot even say that our ideas are the copies of the things-in-themselves.

(3) The Vaibhasika accepts seventy-five dharmas, the ultimate momentary elements of existence; the Sautrantika cuts their number down to forty-three and treats the rest as a result of mental construction.

(4) The Sautrantika is more critical and like Kant emphasizes the a priori element of thought-construction (kalpana or vikalpa) in knowledge and paves the way for Vijnanavada.

These are the predominant schools of Hinayana (Theravedic) Buddhism. The schools of Mahayana Buddhism are entirely different and do not uphold the metaphysics above. The above is only the Hinayana school.

  • I agree re: Mahayana Buddhism. It is more concerned with epistemology, I think, rather than metaphysics.
    – simpatico
    May 11, 2018 at 11:43
  • Interesting, but different in fact: 1) I don't accept momentarism, instead, I first extend the notion of point mass to function mass (that changes throughout time, but still is the same function (whereas it has different pararameters in different moments of time). 2) I am not in agreement that external objects really are acknowledged: I go further and claim they are defined and not merely acknowledged.
    – rus9384
    May 11, 2018 at 12:29
  • Mahayana Buddhism has a sound and well-described metaphysical scheme. Hinayana does not. Nagarjuna is your man. He explains the whole thing. He demonstrates that there is only one metaphysical view that is in accord with logic and thus massively simplifies the discipline.
    – user20253
    May 12, 2018 at 11:25
  • @PeterJ I understand what you're saying and agree with you. Hinayana trips over itself in its metaphysics. However you have to distinguish between relative 'is' and absolute 'is'. Nagarjuna posits a positive absolute is, whereas Hinayana posits a negative absolute is. My own reading of the question is that it is asking about the absolute is and not the relative is. As such I think Hinayana approaches his opinion more than Mahayana. May 22, 2018 at 5:23
  • @SwamiVishwananda - I must not abuse the comments section so will just say I see your point.
    – user20253
    May 22, 2018 at 13:28

Sounds similar to Empiricism.

In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience.

Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that "knowledge is based on experience" and that "knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification." Empirical research, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides the scientific method.

George Berkeley took it to its logical extreme. His argument went something like this: If something happens outside of direct observation, it still happens, but since it must be observed to exist, there must be an omnipotent and all-seeing God that observes all reality, thus keeping it in existence.

  • Knowledge and existence are different things. And omnipotent God is unnecessary, since we are creating existence throigh interaction (not only we - we are unnecessary for this).
    – rus9384
    May 11, 2018 at 18:04
  • Keep going down that line and you will end up like Berkeley. ie what happens when there is no "interaction"? May 11, 2018 at 18:23
  • Nothing happens. That's obvious. There is no existence without interaction.
    – rus9384
    May 11, 2018 at 18:49

This question appears to be one about value and observation

An object only has value if there is someone to observe it and value it. Value is intrinsic to observation. Without the ability to be aware and observe then it does not matter what exists and what does not.

Because our whole lives involve observation and interaction we take it for granted. But rather than idealism it is a fundamental observation of our existence.

Idealism comes from the world of observation and valuing systems. But it is the sorting out of values that creates idealism, not the fact one is observing things and putting labels on objects. Anyone can label stuff, it is what you do as a result that defines idealism or stupidity.

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