Assume there is one mind that 'creates' the universe through imagining, and that all things are just imaginings of said being. How can you prove that a creator personal God is necessary in such a case?

Background: It seems that the cosmological arguments for God's existance can also be applied to the Brahman of the kevaladvaitins(advaita vedanta) or the type of Yogachara expounded by some Chinese buddhists,or the One monistic entity expounded by Walter Russel.

Remember there are no atoms in such a system, so you cannot respond with the paradox of the Brahma sutras to materialists that if atoms are self active there would be eternal creation, if they are self inactive there would be eternal dissolution and that only if they are neither would periodic creation and destruction be possible (only) through a ruling lord and prime mover, because everything is idea projections and not atoms.

  • Pantheism is not monism. Monism is not pantheism. A common error. The vishishtadvaita (qualified monism) is mostly comparable to pantheism. Yogachara (Vijnanavada) is not Advaita. Vijnanavada is pure idealism. As Chandradhar Sharma writes "Vijnanavada is idealism 'par excellence', ontological as well as epistemic. Absolutism advocates only transcendental or ontological idealism. Not only absolutism but any true idealism has to be ontological only. Empirical realism has to be admitted and it goes very well with ontological idealism." – Swami Vishwananda Mar 19 '20 at 5:51
  • this comment is a redherring and strawman.I never said anything of the sort.I asked how a theist would necessitate a creator God in a system where atoms dont exist but appearances are just ideas in mind. – johny man Mar 19 '20 at 8:00
  • Perhaps Swami's comment is not quite on target, but he does draw attention to some of the subtleties and possible ways of misunderstanding Advaita and Brahman. It would be unrigorous to state Brahman exists, just as in classical Christianity it would be unrigorous to state God exists. It would also be a mistake to equate Advaita and the doctrine of the Upanishads with Monism. Perhaps you could google 'non-dualism' to clarify this point. . . – user20253 Mar 19 '20 at 15:48
  • A theist would probably say that if all that is is the thoughts of god then the god hasn't created anything yet. – curiousdannii Mar 19 '20 at 23:58

This is a very old question --how is the religious concept of a personified God to be reconciled with the abstract philosophical concept of god as the unity of all perfections?

I think the most straightforward answer --in rough gloss --is this. We live in a universe with personality --it isn't generic or characterless. That has to come from somewhere. And since we've already specified a single source for all things, personhood must also have its root in God.

There are significant objections to this of course, but what philosophical argument comes w/o objections?


I don't see Yogacara, or any Buddhist thought, as subjective monist idealism. That would imply a 'true' state of affairs (transcendental unity) and a false state (various manifestations). Buddhist thought expresses non-duality between these, and other dichotomies, probably best illustrated by Indra's Net: all are in one, and one is in all. The idea of the Dharmakaya might seem to fit the idea of a transcendent unified subject, but it very definitely does not have subjectivity, and is 'non assertive'. I would look to the way Godel-Incompleteness shows that for actual minds there is always space for the previously inconceivable (part of the definition of the Dharmakaya), for self-transcendence not only of self, but of unity, of emptiness, of all concepts, and even beyond concepts, which are intrinsically limiting. This article gives an accessible description of how Nagarjuna expresses this, and of how we can relate it to 'mind-like' quality of open-ness we can call being a 'strange loop'.

I like subjective monistic idealism. But I would argue for it on a practical psychological basis, rather than a transcendental one. Looking at Wittgenstein's Private Language argument, we see how the self can only arise as tool, in communion with and reflection of others. We develop mirror neurons, which help us copy the movements of other bodies, and mentally project ourselves. We develop theory-of mind in relation to our social groups (defined by the Dunbar number, social group size strongly correlates to brain size), and our prefrontal cortex develops to enhance our ability to respond to that.

Then, consider Rawl's theory of justice. Why is this idea of universal body-swapping, a quite outlandish idea, so compelling that it seems to strongly correlate with our intuitions about justice? I would argue because mirror neurons and a more primitive concept of self founded in projection into the bodies of others, predate and are a precondition for our social self to develop. Projecting ourselves into the situation of others is an essential precursor to the development of language, and intelligence.

I'd go further, and contrast this mode of intelligence development in social animals, that fits the Dunbar number social-group to brain-size correlation, with the exceptions. Birds and squid/octopus seem to have developed intelligence more squarely focused on problem-solving. Octopuses are able to figure out complex problems like unlocking a box with a key, but seem to largely forget what they learn. They seem to have very flexible brains, but limited persistence of self - they are barely social at all. Birds seem to have more advanced independent tool use than any ape (although apes can mimic spear fishing and fire lighting). They can make logical inferences at least as well as apes can, and are perhaps capable of more complex mathematics (the only animal shown to do division calculations is a parrot). Some birds like ravens have done this despite small social groups or being nearly entirely solitary. I would say human intelligence is almost entirely reliant on tools developed for insight into the minds of others, and has a strong tendency to be able to best assemble information into 'characters' or 'identities', because that's what our brains evolved to do. There are indications the Australian aborigine 'dreamtime' stories may encode detailed accounts of volcanic eruptions many thousands of years ago - possibly among the oldest human records, and the Irish Tuatha Ne Danaan long thought of as just 'fairy stories' actually told the stories of the land and harvests, gathering information in a way that could be remembered (but took initiation to decode). Greek mythology seems to be a complex psychological map, as explored by Jung and others, which I would relate to their culture's focus on how to 'amp up' mythological stories for competative plays. It is again about giving 'identities' to principles, and lessons being stories of interactions, as though they were people.

From a physics perspective, it is interesting to note we have no access to information that hasn't been filtered through a subjective experience. We do a lot of comparing and contrasting, seeking consilience, to account for that. But consider, time may be a result of subjectivity. An emergent experience, out of everything being 'now', that allows us to make sense of a complex higher dimensional shape passing through the 4D 'plane' of our own experience. This would reconcile the arrow of time, which is what we experience, with time as a dimension (General Relativity) and the fundamental reversability of every law of physics (Quantum Field Theory). In this sense subjectivity may not be fundamental, but without it nearly everything we think we know about causality fails, or at least is revealed as a tiny part of a far grander and more complex picture.

The other tack that can be taken is as I mentioned earlier, that Godel-Incompleteness implies the universe has a mind-like 'strange loop' character. But, it doesn't imply any transcendental subjective unity though. Consider that our own sense that we are unified breaks down under analysis, split-brain observations, multi-agent mind models, and the work-space model of consciousness. So I would say this implies a kind of animism, the universe is thoughts, rather than pantheism, the world is the mind of god.

  • Is Indra's Net inconsistent with a type of monism? Consider the idea of structuralism in the philosophy of mathematics, that says each mathematical "object" is really a name for a place in a structure of relations to other "objects", and none have any meaning outside the structure/relations. If we adopt a similar view about all distinct-seeming elements of reality, we would have something a bit like Spinoza's philosophy where all seemingly distinct entities are "modes" of a single God or Absolute. – Hypnosifl Mar 19 '20 at 21:44
  • @Hypnosifl: I think the Buddhist stance would be to say there is subjectivity, as process, but no identity, as essence. The transcendental monism of advaita vedanta does seem to me to chime with Buddhist thought, and I fear the distinctions and details of definitions are quite subtle, maybe too much for me. But Nagarjuna says: "The victorious ones have said That emptiness is the relinquishing of all views. For whomever emptiness is a view, That one has accomplished nothing." I do not grasp this, I meditate on it. I only know he does not advocate any asserted view... – CriglCragl Mar 22 '20 at 6:49

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