As I said, the model can’t be applied holistically; the implementation must be sequential: that is, each component is implemented to address specific issues as they arise, be they metaphysical, spiritual or ethical. The components don’t fit together organically because we live in a post-synthetic age[1], where our thinking about life is informed more by empirical knowledge than by pure, internally consistent, reasoning. This is certainly the basis of my approach which (as I indicated in the personal anecdotes) has been shaped by the loss of my younger self’s religion-based world view and by subsequent attempts to understand life by examining the facts of my existence.

One of the characteristics of the post-synthetic era is a sense of flux and fragmentation

This is probably a good point to acknowledge one of the (no doubt many) shortcomings of my approach. It is, at its core, emotional rather than rational because it’s a response to a specific event—an existential crisis in my youth. No, I’m not playing the victim card; it’s a fact and I need to put it out there as a matter of full disclosure.

That said, I’m hardly alone. One of the characteristics of the post-synthetic era is a sense of flux and fragmentation. That has a basis in historical and cultural fact: it’s there in the modernist movement (think T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land”, Joyce’s “Ulysses”, Woolf’s stream of consciousness etc.) and in our own post-modernist, post-fact, post-truth, post-West, culturally relativist era. The coherence in the pluralistic model lies, perhaps paradoxically, in acknowledging its incoherence, arguing that the incoherence is consistent with the flavour of contemporary life, understanding the implications, and applying that understanding systematically in the way we think.


Under the brown fog of a winter dawn….

The way I do this is through the “Rule of Three”, which is my way of rationalising the incoherence of daily life into something manageable. It’s based on the idea that experience breaks down into three categories—change, continuity and crisis—and that the idea applies as much to general history as it does to individual lives. The model is consistent with this, as follows: change corresponds to the active, socially conscientious lives lived by my father’s side of the family, which I wish to emulate (ethics); continuity corresponds to the cultural affiliation to religion and tradition (“spiritual epistemology”) and crisis corresponds to the alienation that I’m trying to escape or overcome. For ease of reference, I commonly refer to change in this triad as “alpha”, continuity as “beta” and crisis (or disruption) as “gamma”.

There is of course a fourth element which is something of a special case—the metaphysical solution or Esse. This is associated with continuity or stability but, because of its theoretical pre-eminence, I assign it the unique status of “super-beta”.

At some stage, I’ll share some examples with you of how the Rule of Three works in practice but, for now, trust me, it does….



[1] I’m thinking of Hans Reisenbach here, in “The Rise of Scientific Philosophy”. But I often wonder about the biggest project in physics today, the attempt to reconcile the general theory of relativity and quantum theory. Isn’t that a form of synthesis?

Pic source here