mbd_map 19: A Dedication homepage homepage forum lectures 1: A Word of Encouragement 2: Dar al-Hikma 3: Proclus' Elements 4: Reversion in the Corporeal 5: Mathematical Recursion 6: Episodic Memory 7: Mortality 7 Supplement: Classical Mortality Arguments 8: Personal Identity 9: Existential Passage 10: Precedent at Dar al-Hikma 10 Supplement: Images of Dar al-Hikma 11: Passage Types 12: A Metaphysical Grammar 13: Merger Probability 14: Ex Nihilo Probability 15: Noetic Reduction 16: Summary of Mathematical Results 17: Application to Other Species 18: Potential Benefits 19: A Dedication appendices works cited

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A Word of Encouragement


Dar al-Hikma


Proclus' Elements


Reversion in the Corporeal


Mathematical Recursion


Episodic Memory




Classical Mortality Arguments


Personal Identity
1   2   3   4  


Existential Passage
1   2   3  


Precedent at Dar al-Hikma


Images of Dar al-Hikma


Passage Types


A Metaphysical Grammar


Merger Probability


Ex Nihilo Probability


Noetic Reduction


Summary of Mathematical Results


Application to Other Species
1   2   3   4  


Potential Benefits


A Dedication


Works Cited

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The following text was presented in conference before Catholic philosophers and representatives of the Magisterium at Metaphysics for the Third Millennium on September 5, 2000, at the Assumption Conference Center, Rome:

[transcript begins]

I'm Wayne Stewart, author of Metaphysics by Default.

The statue in this image is a representation of an ancient personage.  How many of you know Her classical name?  Please raise your hand if you do.  Thank you.  It's Athena.

This particular image is a modern composition.  We see Athena, here at home within tender foliage.  This is a new Athena.  How many of you know Her new name?  Again, please raise your hand.  Thank you.  This is Athena Gegenetes, meaning, "Athena, Earth-born."  She is our icon of Mind at peace with Nature.  Her image serves as a talisman for my work.

I should summarize the philosophy's primary deductions:

- Personal identity is corporeal.

Each criterion of personal identity corresponds with a distinct structure of the living body.  As a consequence, personal identity is fully corporeal.

- Man is completely mortal.

Our knowledge of personal identity validates this ancient hypothesis.

- These natural truths unlock existential passage.

Existential passage is a novel, and natural, mechanism of transmigration.  It is purely subjective in its operation.  It requires no magic.  None whatsoever.

- Several passage types are possible.

Many of their distributions have now been quantified through probability calculus.


- Ethical corollaries benefit the naturalist and the ecologist.

Each has much to gain from this philosophy.

The thesis itself is online, at mbdefault.org.  I've brought an extract:  a thirty-minute presentation which introduces the argument for existential passage.  We can walk through the argument at our leisure, later.

But this philosophy may seem most unorthodox.  So, a few Catholic points.

First, the ethics:

Ethical concerns fall into two broad categories:  reciprocating and non-reciprocating.  The teachings of Christ fit within the former category.  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  That's a prime example of a moral command in the realm of reciprocating ethics — ethics for communities which can reciprocate our actions.

Non-reciprocating ethics are those addressing communities which cannot reciprocate our actions.  Future generations, and non-human species, are in this sense non-reciprocating communities.  And it is just these communities with which Metaphysics by Default is concerned.  It operates in an ethical realm quite distinct from that which is the prerogative of the Church.

- This philosophy informs non-reciprocating ethics.

Next, the anathema on reincarnation philosophy:

As you know, the Fifth Ecumenical Council formally banned Origen's teachings on the pre-existence of the soul.  This has widely been interpreted as the penultimate Catholic injunction against reincarnation.

That injunction does not apply to Metaphysics by Default.  This new transmigration philosophy does not posit the pre-existence of the soul.  It works within the parameters of non-reductive physicalism.  Man is completely mortal:  this deduction leaves no room for pre-existence.  As a result, Catholic philosophers may entertain this particular transmigration philosophy without fear of the Fifth Ecumenical Council's anathema pronouncement.

- This philosophy is not anathema.

These two points establish a dialogue between Catholic doctrine and Metaphysics by Default.  Pope John Paul II goes farther.  In Fides et Ratio he sets down three requirements which a philosophy must satisfy if it is to be consonant with the word of God.


- "To be consonant with the word of God, philosophy needs first of all to recover its sapiential dimension as a search for the ultimate and overarching meaning of life." - Section 81.

Metaphysics by Default provides a reasoned hope of future life.  Such a forward-looking vision is vital to our search for life's meaning.  Life gains meaning when we participate in the future.

- "This prompts a second requirement:  that philosophy verify the human capacity to know the truth, to come to a knowledge which can reach objective truth..." - Section 82.

Metaphysics by Default is based upon objective truth, and it has attained what I judge a greater objective truth.

- "The two requirements already stipulated imply a third:  the need for a philosophy of genuinely metaphysical range, capable, that is, of transcending empirical data in order to attain something absolute, ultimate and foundational in its search for truth." - Section 83.

Metaphysics by Default is indeed a metaphysical philosophy; not merely in name, but in actuality.  The primary subject matter of this philosophy is our ontological relation to other lives.  This is a foundational concern.

Pope John Paul II has set down three requirements.  Metaphysics by Default satisfies all three.  By Pope John Paul II's authoritative standard, Metaphysics by Default is consonant with the word of God.

The Magisterium is duty-bound to promote such work.  Each bishop must perform his required duty.

But now I have done all that is required of me.  By God's grace — and Athena's — I have performed my duty to the Catholic Church, and to the greater Christian faith.

[transcript ends]

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Wayne Stewart
Last update 4/19/11