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The "Concentric" Universal-Individual Axis

The Universal-Individual, or Universal-Atomistic Parameter is the easiest to understand, because it is the only hierarchy that Western secular consensus reality accepts. Atoms are made of subatomic particles, molocules of atoms, biological cells of molocules, and so on, upto the entire cosmos as a whole. Each higher level embraces and includes and serves as the environment or ecology of the lower, and each lower level is a subunit or subsystem or component of the one above it. This whole concept was nicely formalised at a biological and systems science level by Arthur Koestler, in his book Janus, a Summing Up. Each entity at each hierarchical level, each "holon" as Koestler termed them, is both a whole of the parts or entities of the level below, and a part of the whole above. More on this in the ontodynamics section. For now, this is one of the four hierarchies or dimensions or parameters of Being, the parameter of expanse or scale, or Universal-Atomistic. The following then is a suggested list of major scales of being:

As with the four hierarchies in general, each of these holarchic levels might be said to be the sphere of analysis or understanding of one or another field of study or experience. So, just looking at things purely on the outer physical level (we'll examine the other metaphysical axii shortly), the Universal might be said to correspond to the laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics, the Cosmic to astrophysics and astronomy, the Environmental to ecology, planetology, sociology, etc, the Individual to biology, psychology, and so on. Once again, these are only very crude generalisations, and should not be compiled into lists of rigid tables. Moroever, there are subjects like Astrology, which are discredited by both mainstream science and fundamentalist Christianity, but which are empirically valid (on the Cosmic and Environmental scales), sometimes astonishingly so (as someone who follows a scientific methodology I have been forced to accept the validity of astrology, despite my original scepticism).

This represents the Universal-Individual Axis on the Physical level. On the Psychic level it would be not science but esotericism and occultism that teaches these levels. But this is jumping ahead to the vertical axis; we will defer discussion regarding this a little first.

Ultimately, each end of the holarchy represents a particular polarity or aspect of the Absolute, and both the Universal and the "Paramanu" are united in the Transcendent, as shown below in the "quantitative scale":

These divisions seem - and are - pretty arbitary. Where does Environment/Collective end and Cosmic begin? And since an Individual may be a Part of a larger totality, isn't the distinction between these two superfluous? Wouldn't it be better to say atom - molocule - cell - tissue - organism - ecosystem - etc?

My reply is that what is important is not the details here, but the dynamic. A "cosmic" entity would function (manifest, be conscious, whatever...) in a completely different way to an individual entity. It would have a "distributed" rather than a "localised" existence. And even if and though a part of a larger whole, an individual entity would be an autonomous unit. So a person is an individual entity, a society is a distributed or collective entity. Or an ant is an individual entity, while the hive is a distributed or collective consciousness. The parts of an individual, on the other hand, are not autonomous. If you take a cell from your body, it won't survive on its own. Whereas a bacterium or a protozoan is an individual entity. Furthermore to have a spectrum like cell-organism, or individual-society, is anthropocentric, because what about worlds and regions of interstellar space. And obviously what is being discussed here is not simply (and usually not even) size, but complexity, organisation, and inclusiveness. Size in the sense of physical dimensions of length, width, and breadth, are qualities of the dense physical subplane of the vertical axis or ontocline, which is considered later in this essay.

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text content and original diagrams by M.Alan Kazlev
relocated from original Integral Paradigm / Metaphysics page; this page uploaded 4 September 2005