Against Monism and Omnipotence

So there is this concept in Neo-Platonic thought called Monism. In a nutshell, this guy Plotinus had this concept of “the One” which was like an everything god or more properly THE everything god. In a sense it is like the softest of soft polytheism, so soft that all the gods and really everything everywhere gets boiled down to the One. This is really at issue in some polytheist philosophy today in that there is a disagreement on the nature of omnipotence because Monism would have an omnipotent force because it is all of everything and therefore omnipotent. I am here to give an argument against Monism and thereby once more against omnipotence.

I would contend that Monism is inconsistent with something that appears to be evident through experience, namely, that there is a plurality of things. I see rocks and not all rocks are the same and certainly trees are not rocks and people are not trees. There is a plurality of things that are observable. We shall assume that a plurality of material things exists, and so barring radical skepticism about both perception and observation, there seems to be strong observable evidence for existence pluralism.

It is obvious through perception and observation that there is a plurality of concrete objects. It is intuitively obvious that since there is a plurality of concrete objects, then there is good evidence based reasoning to believe that there is a plurality of insubstantial objects. Let me be clear in this, if I ask you to imagine the idea of a chair that idea would be different from the idea of a frog and the idea of the frog from the idea of a cup. Even though I have asked you to imagine these things and they did not exist in the concrete world but instead were the mere idea of these things, your mind reached out and grasped the idea of these things in a way that shows that there is a plurality of insubstantial objects as well. So even in the insubstantial realm we can see that we can observe evidence of a plurality of insubstantial objects.

Even in science there is a plurality of things. The element Hydrogen is not the element Selenium is not the element Tungsten. They behave entirely different. If we go further and say they are built of the same things, we can know quite well that the proton is not the same as the neutron is not the same as the electron. And even further our scientific knowledge tells us that dark matter exists and it is fundamentally different from matter. These things differ, even in the scientific world there is a great plurality of things.

If we see such overwhelming evidence of the plurality of things in both the concrete and insubstantial realms of observation, how can we argue for the one-ness of everything? Monism is thereby contradicted by and should be found to be completely and totally inconsistent with observation and with perception.

To tackle it from another direction, let me bring up Plato himself. Plato held the idea of the existence of a multi-part soul, itself not unique to Plato but being an offshoot of a general belief in the multiplicity of the soul. However Socrates in Plato’s Republic Book IV rationalized it and provided the logic for proving a multi-part soul could and should exist. The rationale was essentially that if something is at one with itself it is not in conflict and that if conflict does indeed exist in the thing it is indeed not one thing. This goes into the law of non-contradiction.

In a sense, a person can be in conflict with themselves and that provides the rationale for the soul being multi-part, because if it were not multi-part then we would be of one nature and could not be in conflict with ourselves.

Furthermore, on divinity we utilize the stories about divinity as well as our own experiences of divinity to shed light on the nature of the gods. In even this we see conflict, and where there is conflict there is not one thing but many because to be one would mean to be in a state where conflict did not exist. Furthermore, seeing as how divinity presents itself as multitudinous, why would we consider it otherwise? That seems to me to be hubris – that we in this way think so highly of ourselves we think we know better than the gods. If a divine entity is throughout time appearing as an individual in and of themselves, who are we to argue with that entity’s expression of self?

There is conflict within the universe around us, it is readily visible and observable; how does monism overcome this most basic thing? Monism would need to completely disregard the extremely apparent conflict in the nature of the observable universe and indeed the conflicting nature of all things in order to rationalize that away into one-ness. I am sure that someone will try, but if to hold a philosophy one must contort the very nature of the universe and everything inside of it to do so then it is an unnatural thing twisted and contrived and not one inspired by observation and perception.

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