What’s Actual?

download-2The metaphysical status of pure actuality is interesting to me. Before me, I regard the physical as the actual. That’s an easy intuition to hold onto. Butter is one of only a few ingredients right now capable of being a bonding agent in baking. It’s unfolding in experience; I see the cupcakes rise in the oven. I take them out. I cut into one of them, and see the ingredients becoming whole. Now, those of you who read me know of my commitments to phenomenology and the ongoing experienced phenomena know that I do not divide nature and reality into what’s subjective and what’s objective. Like Whitehead and James, there’s no bifurcation of nature. Following this phenomenological commitment, pure actuality refers to both what’s going on in each of the act-side and object-side.

Even if we are phenomenologists, it’s easy to identify the actual with simply the nonreductive content that’s immanent in the field of pure experience. In phenomenology, we might even reify the nonreductive as what is only capable of being actual in the same way that we wrongly associate the actual with the physical.

Pure actuality is what is experienced in immediate flux. One could easily be a neutral monist to what is considered actual.

The more difficult thought is to think that what’s actual does not track the potentiality of growth and the overwhelming openness of both conscious acts and the objective side. A pragmatic phenomenology would sustain a vision to the growth and becoming of how ideas and habits guide our limited, but by no means exhaustive, experience of nonreductive contents. Just as much as every snowflake (as seen in the picture) is so unique, the possible configuration of how reality becomes is unique into every event that arises, and also of the position of experiencer in relation to that event. The very ground of phenomena isn’t settled; it’s in the process of becoming. We experience experiencing. Every experienced phenomena is an experiencing. What’s actual now is, then, only possible because all actualities are possible (or so I am thinking). Simply because something is not appearing, or something is not taken as physical doesn’t imply that actualities don’t exist independently of their instantiation in the field of experience. In fact, we might posit that all actualities exist universally until their instantiation in the growth and process of reality itself.

The strange thing is that there’s no knockdown argument for this speculation as there is for any metaphysical description. The sole criterion is how we experience the world and if that description coheres with those facts of experience.

All actualities are universally possible.

All possibilities we know are actualized.

Simply because we know some actualities doesn’t mean that other configurations of reality are not possible and could not like a tree limb grow towards what’s possible in a way yet to be experienced.




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