A circular question: What is sleeping philosophy?

I first asked the question about sleeping philosophy when I was evaluating the Diagram. Although I think my first quandaries about the nature of sleeping philosophy were significant, I now believe sleeping philosophy is much more complex than it earlier seemed. Besides meeting a sleeper in real life, I’ve also found important sleepers in literature and art that need to be discussed here. In particular I want to mention the philosophies of Philip K. Dick, a character from Roberts’s Shantaram, and Andrei Tarkovsky, a Russian movie director. These new comparisons and findings lead me to believe that sleeping philosophy is the (two-positional) idealism/realism missing from the context of other categories. Yet speculations about whether this means that in the future sleeping philosophy may become a new category or would remain asleep are inconclusive.

Earlier on the blog I claimed that sleeping philosophies can be idealist, like in Melville, or realist, like in Villeneuve. Today I want to show you that this is, in fact, a simplification that does not reflect the truly complex nature of sleeping philosophy. The main issue with sleeping philosophy is that it does not fit into the Model, that is, it doesn’t fit it vertically. Instead, we find that our view must change dramatically in order to understand the way sleeping philosophy operates. I show my theory about sleeping philosophy in the illustration below, but let us look at three cases before we can understand what the schematic means.


This is the circular way sleeping philosophy operates with idealism and realism being like two sides of the same coin.

Dick’s mad worlds

Probably the most important of the sleeping bunch is Philip K. Dick: a visionary science-fiction author and closet philosopher. In The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick (2011) we find some very interesting ideas of Dick that relate to a different way of viewing reality. Although Dick was not a professional philosopher, we may find that he was indeed onto something. For example, consider this passage about a Godlike entity Valis:

…the effects of Valis are felt before Valis exists, and these effects are to be regarded as acausal; they have no cause because their cause does not yet exist. (83:150)[1]

If we relate this to the subatomic level, then we find that particles are random only as long as the God-cause has not been attained, but that eventually it can be, making us later understand how all particles are caused. Interestingly, Valis is considered to exist wholly only when we fully discover him, but he can only exist partially at present by means of those material particles that we sense.

The conundrum becomes even more complicated when we learn about Dick’s ontology: “The part is the real whole” (49:1132, original italics). This mix-up of ontology and metaphysics resists the differentiation of part and whole, which is crucial to ontology being a field of study different from metaphysics. If part and whole are the same, then we lose the difference of scope between particles and cosmic entities. Ultimately, Dick describes thus his predicament:

So if you push essence far enough in terms of ascending levels, you find you have gone a full circle. (1:121)

Hence we can ascertain that his metaphysics descends from level 15 (of the Model), and then he connects it to level 1 in a full circle, making Dick’s scope maximal (like Rand’s), yet circular, rather than linear like in Rand. Because of the circular nature of his philosophy, he can descend as well as ascend the two bounding levels (1 and 15) with ease because they seem to him to be smoothly traversable. Nonetheless, Dick seems to become mad because his ideas are so disorganized. Consider these statements by him:

“I = God” (20:18), “So I am God, without realizing it” (1:262), and “I am a saint” (75:D-9). “And I state that, too: that I am mad” (ibid.).

Tripping with Roberts’s Khaderbhai

Another strange character, possibly a quasi-fictional one, can be found in Gregory David Roberts’s famous semi-autobiographical novel Shantaram (2003). Khaderbhai is a mafia don ambitious to help his people in other countries, and his philosophy, as you’ll see, is not more farfetched than Dick’s. Consider this first discussion by the character:

The truth is that we are all, every one of us, every atom, every galaxy, and every particle of matter in the universe, moving toward God. (Ch. 9)

This strange movement Khaderbhai calls scientific and objective, the movement from simplicity to complexity, as in “…the first moments after that great expansion, from the first fractions of attoseconds, the universe was like a rich soup made out of simple bits of things. Those bits were so simple that they were not even atoms yet. As the universe expanded and cooled down, these very tiny bits of things came together to make particles” (Ch. 23).

So we start with Hawking’s Big Bang singularity, which, if we follow Khaderbhai’s reasoning, precedes God. Then he connects this to light and things become more interesting and complex, relating life to his first statement about the truth:

Life, and all the other characteristics of all the things in the universe, such as consciousness, and free will, and the tendency toward complexity, and even love, was given to the universe by light, at the beginning of time as we know it. (Ch. 33)

However, Khaderbhai relates light not through the Big Bang to God, but in the following way:

I do not think that light is God. I think it is possible, and it is reasonable to say, that light is the language of God. Light may be the way that God speaks to the universe, and to us. (Ch. 34, emphasis in original)

This is interesting, considering that we’ve learned that light is everything, so everything must be simply language used by God who cannot be defined other than by an impossibility. So in the overall Khaderbhai’s thinking there is that sleeper loss of direction when he says we start from singularity and go toward complexity, but then he says that, while light is there at the beginning of the universe in the singularity, it is not primary but secondary to God, meaning he starts with God and then ends up in the seemingly chaotic and random quantum fluctuations that he would call language of God, which then ‘smoothly’ connect in reverse of his original statement[2]. Hence we see the same loss of direction in Khaderbhai’s thought as we do in Dick’s.

Tarkovsky’s meaning of life

So what does all this mean to a sleeper? Their meaning of life is lost in their circular complexities, in which they lean toward and work with materialism and idealism in equal measure, like we see in Andrei Tarkovsky’s work. Although Tarkovsky said in an interview that «жизнь никакого смысла, конечно, не имеет» (life, of course, has no meaning; quote), he specified this when he wrote:

Art is realistic when it strives to express an ethical ideal. Realism is striving for truth, and truth is always beautiful … Art symbolises [sic] the meaning of our existence. (quote)

So like other artists earlier reviewed we find sleepers to be so enamored with art that they can supersede individual philosophies while learning to find unique ways to express themselves through art. Like Denis Villeneuve, Tarkovsky also collaborated on his screenplays with materialists (Strugatsky brothers) and idealists (Andrei Konchalovsky) without succumbing to either view. Thus he created his classical and world-renowned films like Solaris (1972), Stalker (1979), and Andrei Rublev (1966).

The reason sleepers like Tarkovsky can work with materialists is that their realist position is the same as the mat8 position, but their direction, while going through all the materialist levels, actually reverts back to idealism, which itself can bend, pass beneath, and go toward realism[3]. Because this circular philosophy does not hold onto the axis of the Model (or the Diagram) but whirls around it with confusing vertical transgressions, the sleeping philosophy cannot be categorized. However, it is predicted by Complete Reality Hypothesis, in that we already have two two-positional idealisms, with only one, idealism/realism, lacking in the overall structure. This is the missing philosophy and still the only one we cannot put our finger on because realism by itself (without being integrated with mysticism) cannot avoid confusing manipulations of directions.

[1] I use the notation [folder]:[page] for those of us who use the electronic version of the book.

[2] That is, God as a ‘simple’ singularity moves toward light being expressed in people and the rest.

[3] Maybe this also explains why sleepers like Dick and Khaderbhai use Kantian ethics, in which God-as-a-postulate is sometimes confused with an actual idealist God. Perhaps ‘God’-believing materialists like Martin Scorsese and Terrence Malick are directed towards this seemingly God-natured ‘God.’ But we won’t ask whether sleepers know better.


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