Any culture could be compared to a huge machine that converts the typical modes of activity into the inner organization of the (individual or collective) subject, and then the subjective hierarchies into objectively present ideas, and then the common ideas into the products of reflexive activity, which influence the development of consciousness, self-consciousness and reason, enhancing the range of available activities and thus starting a new spiral of the same process. Philosophical categories occupy an important place in this cultural mechanism, representing the most general modes of behavior. Though the same content can be expressed in many other ways, it is only philosophy that is concerned with its explicit presentation revealing a universal core in all kinds of special activities.
Historically, categories were first understood as the forms of thought, and the analysis of language remained their primary source for a long time. The philosophical offspring of logical positivism are yet cherishing the vain hope to discover the sense of any text in its formal features, reducing all kinds of knowledge to verbal exercise. Today, we know that philosophical categories reflect the universal attitudes of the conscious subject to the objective world (nature) and its reproduction in the culture. Human thought can be reflected in philosophical categories as a special case of conscious activity, but there all the other aspects of culture will necessarily find their categorical expression as well. Categories mainly apply to what we do, rather than what we think, and to our thought as a kind of action.
Every category represents some mode of universal mediation, and hence an aspect of the world in general. That is, each category contains the whole of philosophy, and any category can be "derived" from any other. Philosophical categories are equally universal regardless of their origin. This implies that a category can never be reduced to a scientific notion, however wide, or expressed by means of art, however abstract. In particular, any association of a category with a single word can only be superficial and optional, so that the same category equally goes under different names. There is no such thing as philosophical terminology. Philosophy has to borrow forms from science, art, language, or common life, and reinterpret them in the context of a philosophical study, restricting and widening their usage in the same time.
This task can be approached in different ways. Some philosophers suggested extensive categorical systems (Aristotle, Hegel); some others preferred to avoid explicit formulations and promote their teachings in an allegoric manner, through tales and parables (Socrates, Nietzsche). There were also those who demonstrated their philosophy in practical decisions and acts, in the very style of life (Diogenes, Tolstoy). It is only in Marxism that the practical character of any philosophy has been explicitly declared, and the formation of philosophical categories has been universally linked to people's life and activity. Philosophical categories are essentially concrete, and no philosophy can be developed as an abstract phrase or personal opinion. That is, every instance of philosophy comes from and is shaped in accordance with an urgent cultural necessity; any universal content of a philosophical category is a reflection of the cultural universality. Philosophy cannot be invented, it is always born to serve the objective trends of economic and social development.
The subject as universal mediation can interconnect any aspects of the world and all kinds of things. In particular, any two philosophical categories can be compared to each other, transformed into each other and integrated in a categorical scheme. However, this synthesis is far from mere positioning side by side, to immediately observe their distinction or superficially group them be contiguity. The task of philosophy is to explicate the objective commonality already present, or just possible in the culture. In other words, the unity of any two categories implies yet another philosophical category. Any categorical scheme can be unfolded in many dimensions, and the integrity of the world ensures that this hierarchical structure will eventually contain any category at all. Though the same hierarchy can be represented by different hierarchical structures, unfolding is never arbitrary, it must agree with the nature of things, so that any structural link corresponds to our ability to practically connect things in our activity. The flexibility of categorical schemes is therefore an expression of objective diversity.
Though every category belongs to the same hierarchy, one can never pretend to collect a complete set of philosophical categories. The practical character of philosophy implies that, in each individual case, a philosopher will use just a few interrelated categories, avoiding too extensive hierarchical structures but assuming a background of other categories hidden (folded) in the explicitly introduced subset. Ideally, a philosophical treatment of a practical issue will develop a single category appropriate for the case (the topmost element of hierarchy), all the rest playing an explanatory role. This also means that a categorical scheme is normally used in one of the possible positions accentuating the primary categories; one does not need to refer to its aspects irrelevant for the area of interest.
Any scheme is a hierarchy of the possible interpretations, from mere metaphor to a detailed systemic description and developmental approach. This circumstance simplifies scheme transfer from one area to another, and the same scheme can convey different ideas in different philosophies. For instance, a scheme can be interpreted in a structural, systemic, or hierarchical way; the elements of a scheme can be differently ordered; and, of course, the real content of each element depends on the cultural context.
Like the sense of an action is a characteristic of its place within an embedding activity, the sense of a philosophical category depends on its position in a categorical scheme. In a more detailed scheme, categories become more specific, folding their universal content in favor of applied connotations. That is why scheme transfer between different philosophies has nothing to do with mere borrowing or projection; all the elements of the scheme are to be reinterpreted in the new cultural sphere, adapted to the new context. The hierarchy of all the special positions of a category becomes its inner hierarchy, which opens new aspects in the earlier applications; old philosophies cannot be revived in our days without a drastic change in their ideological load, and any local cultures will need to find a common cultural framework to allow borrowing philosophical categories from each other.
A philosophical category is defined in (at least) three complementary ways. Primarily, it refers to a universal aspect of activity, and the conscious effort in organizing life in accordance with a certain ideal will serve as a practical definition. On the other hand, one could collect the different partial explications and reinterpret them as the manifestations of the same; in this approach, the category is much like an object of study, and hence the history of philosophy can be used to develop existential definitions. Finally, within the current discussion, the category can be explained through its dependence on the other categories, that is, using a number of categorical schemes. Such a formal definition can sometimes be a good start, but it is never sufficient. The readers of a philosophical treatise will have to develop their own idea of what is really meant, which is impossible without rediscovering the same universal order in one's practical domain. Categories cannot be simply learnt, they must be lived through.
Though all kinds of schemes can be used in formal definitions, philosophy does not favor highly detailed constructions more appropriate in science, or entirely metaphorical sketches characteristic of the arts. In philosophy, categorical schemes are also treated as categories, so that different categories of schemes apply to the corresponding spheres of practical activity. A monad is the simplest scheme reflexively relating a category to itself. A dyad is a scheme of two complementary categories, the opposites thus formally defined as the negation of each other. A triad is the minimal extension of dyad introducing yet another category, the synthesis of the opposites; the opposition is said to be lifted (Hegel: aufgehoben) in the synthesis, so to say, both annihilated and retained as an inner necessity. Triads are absolutely reflexive, so that any category in a triad can be understood as the synthesis of the other two, the character of their interrelations and the way of their mutual transformations. In this sense, the links between the categories in a triad are the members of the same triad.
In reflexive activity, a monad corresponds to the very presence of something in the culture; we need to feel the existence of a problem before we can try to formulate it and suggest the solution. This is basically what art does. On the analytical level, in science, we do our best to demarcate the boundaries, to tell what something is and what it is not. In other words, science is essentially dyadic, it grows from dichotomy. To restore the integrity of the world, we need to indicate how the opposites depend on each other and penetrate each other; that is, philosophy needs triads to express the unity of the world.
To lift the unity in the uniqueness of the world as inner diversity, a tetradic scheme could be used. However, the practical need for tetrads will come when the triadic logic becomes as common as the traditional dichotomic approach (which requires a different social system free of class antagonisms). Though schemes of four elements can be found in some teachings from the most ancient times, they are not true tetrads, but rather eclectic combinations of lower-order schemes, like the apparently complex tone systems of traditional music are often mere superposition of elementary intonations based on a simple scale (trichord, tetrachord, pentatonic).
Due to inherent reflexivity, more complex categorical schemes are virtually equivalent to tetrads, or triads. Any real necessity of higher-order schemes would drive us from philosophy to a higher level of reflection. Also there is no need to specially consider any kinds of free-form schemes, since monads, dyads, triads and tetrads combine discreteness and continuity as the two complementary aspects of any activity at all.
A categorical triad could be pictured as a diagram
which can be represented by the "inline" (sequential) forms like A → B → C, or C ⇒ B ⇒ A. The first sequence is called primary; the second is the reflected (or inverted) form of the triad. Recalling that C represents the link between A and B, we observe that the secondary form can be regarded as the triad of links. In formal reasoning, the two forms are entirely interchangeable; one needs to get engaged in a practical activity to objectively distinguish the primary sequence from the secondary. Such sequential representations of the triad are mere projections, the special ways of unfolding the hierarchy; using such simplified schemes we must always keep in mind the whole, including the structural, systemic and hierarchical interpretation of the elements and links, including their convertibility and the cyclic character of reproduction.
Since any two hierarchies are organized in the same way, the very arrangement of three categories in a triad suggests many associations with other categorical triads. Such formal parallelism often hints to some objective similarity, providing a kind of metaphorical definition. Further development can establish real dependencies, bringing metaphors to the level of analogy, or even the kinship of the parallel schemes. In any case, comparison of triads is a fundamental mechanism of scheme transfer, a powerful tool of reconstructing the universal features of some cultural sphere on the basis of the hierarchies discovered in other areas.
The practical character of philosophy does not allow any abstract categories, regardless of a particular application area. Conversely, all philosophical categories (from any domain) are equally universal and universally applicable. For instance, one could take philosophy as a kind of reflexive activity for the practical definition of the relevant categories. Alternatively, we study the history of philosophy in order to determine the categorical core of the present culture. Finally, one could choose some categorical scheme for an organizing principle and sort out the categories by the formal criteria. In the rest of this section a few "traditional" categories will be introduced in an informal way; however, we limit ourselves to a kind of "ontological" approach; thus, any esthetical, logical and ethical aspects are to be considered elsewhere. The basically historical approach combined with the triadic arrangement of categories will stress the demand of integrity as the principal concern of any philosophy at all, and the philosophy of unism in particular.
Matter, reflection, substance
Historically, these categories were discussed independently of each other, possibly compared with other categories like spirit, object, consciousness, existence etc. The category of matter is one of the oldest in philosophy; though it was often confused with other categories, the fundamental idea of something prior to any distinctions lived through millennia. In unism, this category is closely related to the uniqueness of the world as the first (syncretic) level of its integrity. There is the only world, and nothing else. The words like "outside", or "beyond", are inapplicable to the world as a whole. In particular, all kinds of subjectivity belong to the same world, and any tales about the independent existence of abstract ideas, mental constructions, or deities are out of question.
With the development of science, this monadic approach was felt insufficient, giving birth to the problem of the source of the observable diversity, the cause of universal motion. The category of substance was introduced to express the self-sufficiency of the world (or any of its parts as a miniature replica of the whole), eliminating the very necessity of any external cause. However, the difference between the categories of matter and substance remained rather vague, and these categories were often treated as basically equivalent. Still, the very formation of a new category reflected an important cultural achievement. It was yet another step away from the early anthropocentrism and beyond the anthropomorphic character of the natural language. Nature was thus ascribed the capacity of acting "in a subjective manner", to be its own cause, with no conscious intervention required. This laid the foundation for the subsequent emancipation and triumph of science. On the other hand, the presence of the subjective element in substance was yet to be explained, which could not be done until the introduction of the category of universal reflection as the first attribute of matter (Lenin).
Anything in the world is a kind of self-reflection. Individual things represent the different modes of reflection, the "projections" of the world into itself. Any change is the inner transformation of the same world, an instance of self-reflection. As a sequence of distinct acts, reflection results in a hierarchical organization of the world, a number of hierarchical structures that can be folded and unfolded in a different direction, thus producing the inner diversity of the world, its universality. The category of substance then restores the integrity of the world comprehended as the unity of all the partial manifestations and all the aspects; this is what we express with the triad matter → reflection → substance, assuming that substance is the unity of matter and reflection.
Individual, particular, general
These are traditionally considered as logical categories introduced yet by Aristotle and mostly used as modifiers of any the other categories suggesting the possible frameworks for discussion. Alternatively, this triad refers to the fundamental stages in any philosophical development. That is, any aspect of the world is first taken on itself, as isolated and self-contained; then we discover numerous similarities and come to considering any individual as a carrier of some common feature (and hence its representative); finally, any particularity is understood as a manifestation of a universal principle, which is used to bring all the partial aspects of a thing together, under the same integrative idea. Obviously, this is yet another reformulation of first principle of any philosophy, the integrity of the world assuming its uniqueness, universality, and unity. The world in general gets reflected in itself in many particular aspects, which results in an infinity of individual worlds (things).
However, any logical category can borrowed by any other branch of philosophy, and become ontological, esthetical, ethical, and so on. Historically, the same categories were often independently introduced in different contexts, under different names.
The qualitative difference between the levels of individuality, particularity and generality has always been a difficult problem in science, a source of paradoxes and contradictions. For instance, in mathematics, the difference between a set and an element, or the difference between extensive and intensive properties, is essentially incompatible with the traditional notion of scientific rigor, and there were attempts to abandon the discussion of the qualitatively different scopes and entirely eliminate the individual or general notions. Indeed, distinctions like that do not belong to the realm of science, but philosophical considerations have always been a source of sharp turns in scientific thought.
As a logical form, any categorical scheme can be taken in the individual, particular and general sense. Thus, the fundamental hierarchy of world, matter → reflection → substance, can be reinterpreted as the hierarchy of the basic aspects of anything definite:
material → ideal → real.
Everything in the world has its material side, being somehow related to matter. In the same way, everything becomes ideal when considered as a kind of reflection. However, real things combine both the material and the ideal, thus representing their relatedness to the world as substance. The same triad taken in the singular sense distinguishes the three aspects of any individual thing:
material → form → content.
Roughly, the material of a thing is what this thing is made of; the form of the thing refers to how its material is organized to produce that very thing; the content of the thing is the unity of material and form determined by the thing's place in the world.
Of course, philosophy cannot blindly trust such formal exercises. Categories represent the universal features of practical activity, and the formal possibility of something does not make any sense but in the appropriate cultural context. That is why, it may be different to indicate a category for a vacant position in a scheme; this means that the corresponding cultural phenomenon has not yet developed to the degree of reflexive activity. Suggesting a new philosophical category to complete a categorical scheme is the same as to suggest a new direction of economic and social development.
Essence, appearance, actuality
Though this Aristotle's triad has long since become a standard instrument of philosophical study, there is no general consent as to what its components should really mean, and thence numerous terminological experiments and misconceptions.
In our context, this triad could be roughly identified with the triad material → ideal → real, with the qualities of things treated as things. This formal trick explains the common association of existence with materiality, and form with appearance; but such parallels can be misleading unless they are practically justified. In general, one could say that the triad essence → appearance → actuality refers to the outer presence of a thing, to its reflection in the rest of the world (or in other things), thus being a complement of the triad material → form → content as a characteristic of the thing's inner organization.
Essence of a thing is the unity of its materiality, ideality and reality; it is the expression of the thing's being in the world. On the contrary, the category of appearance reflects the particular way of unfolding the essence into something for the world (a phenomenon). In the philosophical context, the categories of essence and appearance reflect the ontogeny and phenomenology of the thing, respectively. Actuality as the synthesis of essence and appearance is to express the idea that no appearance is possible which would not be implied by the thing's essence, and nothing in the essence is hidden from appearance; all the latent features have to become (or be made) actual.
The essence of a thing refers to the possible manifestations, representing its potential existence. The actual existence is a definite entity, as distinct from similar and different entities. However, the essence of an individual thing is never expressed in any individual manifestation; it can only be revealed as the common core of many different phenomena. On the other hand, any appearance can be comprehended as an inherent ability of the thing to get actualized in this particular way. In this sense, appearance is a part of the thing's essence. In the hierarchical approach, essence and appearance are mutually reflected, and actuality is the mechanism of their development through each other.
Individual representatives of essence are known in philosophy as entities. Any specific appearance of something is referred to as one of its aspects. The unity of an entity and its aspect is the unit of actuality, a thing. Conversely, an entity is the common core behind all its possible aspects of a thing, and an aspect of a thing is a manifestation of some entity. Since the same hierarchy can be unfolded in many ways, the same thing can represent different entities taken in their corresponding aspects.
Quality, quantity, measure
Though all the three categories are among the most ancient, quality and quantity have been put forth by the newly born science, while the category of measure stayed in the dark, treated as an esthetical or ethical notion. Though Hegel tried to revive the idea of measure as a necessary complement to quality and quantity, this attempt was obviously premature in the epoch of the aggressive self-determination of science. Later, when the categories of quality, quantity and measure have been highly praised by Marxism as a cornerstone of dialectical logic, this triad fell into disgrace for political reasons.
The category of quality conveys the idea of a thing as it is, as that very thing, and not another. In unism, similar ideas are expressed by the categories of content and essence; the former could be characterized as the inner (intrinsic) quality, while the latter refers to extrinsic quality, the place of the thing among other things. The unity of these two aspects of quality constitutes the thing's identity.
The philosophical category of quantity cannot be reduced to mere numerical estimate, as well as numbers do not necessarily denote quantity. Quantity is related to the form of the thing, its appearance, to its value in the broadest sense, including subjective value and cultural value. Quantity describes any structural aspects, systemic behavior, or other external manifestations of inner complexity; this is how things of the same quality differ from each other. In other words, the category of quantity says that different things are not isolated from each other, they are always comparable in some respects, on some levels of the world's hierarchy. This is how things stick together.
Formally, the category of measure is the unity of quality and quantity, the necessity of the both. Though many people find it difficult to comprehend, they use it all the time in their everyday life. For instance, if one has a couple of friends, this already connects some quantity (couple) to some quality (friends). Getting a hundred dollars is not the same as getting one dollar or a hundred roses, though such equations are quite possible in a different cultural context (for instance, in a currency exchange office, or in a flower market). One thing can be made the measure of another thing; this is one of the first gains of human cognition. However, the power of the category of measure goes beyond mere measurement; it states that quality and quantity cannot be treated as independent of each other but in a very limited area; in a wider context they need to be considered together, as the two mutually reflected aspects of the same. On the syncretic level, we find that the available units of measurement are not equally convenient in different situations. Thus, we can, in principle, measure the distance between Moscow and New York in microns; but miles and kilometers are much more appropriate here, while astronomic units, light years and megaparsecs provide a natural hierarchy of measure in the outer space.
Everybody knows that most things can be slightly modified without ceasing to be the same things. Such changes, irrelevant to the quality of the thing, are called quantitative. However, small changes can gradually accumulate to produce something qualitatively different from the original thing, which is always perceived as a kind of leap. Thus a child suddenly becomes adult, comfortable warmth grows into ruthless heat, and low income may accidentally turn into poverty. In such cases we say that the quantitative changes have gone beyond measure and become qualitative.
On the other hand, the quality of the thing determines its possible manifestations, establishing a range of possible variations. The very distinction form other things implies the possibility of comparison, and hence evaluation. Even unique things are measurable, at least by their uniqueness. This mutual determination of quality and quantity is reflected in the category of measure.
It is important that qualitative changes do not produce anything from nothing, they transform the already existing things, but never annihilate them. A change in quality is still a change, which implies the retention of something that undergoes the change. Conversely, subtle quantitative change could be considered as highly significant in a different context: one dollar difference might seem negligible compared to the totals of about $1000; however, if something costs $1000, and you have only $999, you cannot afford it, and you will have to decide on whether you are going to abandon the idea of purchase, or to raise additional funds. Measure is hierarchical, and the distinction of quality and quantity depends on the level of hierarchy.
Possibility, necessity, universality
Traditional philosophy has been discussing the problem of necessity since the first glimpses of reflexive thought. However, this idea lacks clarity up to now. Paradoxically, the very ubiquity of necessity in the culture has hindered the formation of a category incorporating all the special cases, and the idea of necessity still remains restricted to a number of applications, with the universal core of necessity illustrated by oppositions of a local character like "regular—random", "slavery—freedom", "logical—arbitrary", and others. Philosophers feel that there is something to complement the category of necessity, but they are not sure about what it should be. The traditional adherence to dichotomies adds to the confusion, since there are two opposite complements of necessity, one merely breaking the links and connecting things in a chaotic manner, and the other retaining regularity and order, but adding many alternative kinds of necessity more likely to actualize under certain conditions, that is a kind of higher-order necessity. These two poles are close to what Ancient Greeks pictured as Chaos and Cosmos. Of course, the transition from mythological consciousness to analytical reflection was not easy, and different philosophers differently treated these ideas on the different stage of social development. However, one could take the sum of individual interpretations to outline the scope of the corresponding categories. The resulting "cosmogonic" triad
Chaos → Order → Cosmos
closely resembles the fundamental triad of the aspects of the world's integrity,
matter → reflection → substance,
which, for an individual thing, can be rewritten as
material → form → content.
That is, the understanding of Cosmos as the unity of Chaos and Order, was one of the first expressions of the material integrity of the world. Of course, mythological consciousness is essentially syncretic, and the same scheme has an alternative interpretations, with Order mystically identified with the God's will, either in the act of creation, or in every instance of being (like in the so called philosophy of occasionalism). Modern physicists tend to consider order in the creationist way, as Big Bang, a primary act of unfolding the hidden dimensions of the Universe into what we currently know as the standard model. Unism admits the possibility of such a sudden transformation, with the only remark that this would lead to only one of the possible manifestations and, in view of the integrity of the world, it should be a normal instance of reflection rather than something exotic and rare; quite probably, such things happen every moment, but we cannot observe them from within a particular unfolding of the world's hierarchy, though, for the very same reason, nothing prevents us from developing the idea of higher order embracing our local universe, and we can even try to provoke a kind of big bang by our conscious activity, thus becoming gods. Again, it is quite probable that we already do things like that, on some scale, but do not notice them.
The two opposites of order correspond to its two complementary manifestations that could be conventionally called possibility and universality. The category of possibility brings in the idea that, in any case, at least something is bound to happen, to be, or to lie ahead. This is the realm of potential existence, the essence of things. On the contrary, universality says that if something is possible, it will happen, be and be in for. The common aspect of both possibility and universality is that connotation of something obligatory and inevitable. This is what we call necessity. And this gives us yet another triad:
possibility → necessity → universality,
which can serve as a formal definition of the three categories. This scheme is an obvious parallel to the triad
essence → appearance → actuality,
and one could consider essence as a kind of possibility, and universality as actualized possibility. This leads to a vast range of conclusions about the nature of necessity. On the other hand, the basic aspects of an individual thing form the triad
materiality → ideality → reality,
and we are free to conclude that universality is nothing but the reality of both possibility and necessity, and conversely, the possibility is to express the material aspect of things (everything that is possible is possibly because it is an aspect of the same world), while necessity is ideal, in a sense. This is how triad can form higher-order triads.
In this very general and all-comprehensive treatment, necessity is much wider than mere causality; it equally applies to the physical world, human culture, or the hierarchy of the spirit. Accordingly, the triad of order can be treated as ontological, logical, esthetical, or ethical law. In this way, it provides an integrative view to the history of the philosophical treatment of necessity.
Existence, life, activity
Traditionally, these categories were discussed separately; moreover, only the category of existence was generally considered as philosophical, while life and activity were often treated as applied notions. In unism, we define existence, life and conscious activity as the levels of reflection, and this triad is as fundamental as the triad matter → reflection → substance, though it may seem to be more special, referring to a specific way of unfolding the mediating component of the later scheme. One could come to the categories of matter, reflection and substance unfolding the category of existence; philosophical categories cannot be arranged in any standard order, they are equally universal.
In the triad existence → life → activity, we stress the qualitative difference between the inanimate and animate world, as well as between unconscious life and the world of reason. In unism, these traditional oppositions become the levels of the same hierarchy, representing the objective direction of development. But any triad also implies hierarchical conversion; the order of its elements depends on the context. Thus, though activity can be understood as a special form of life, or a special kind of existence, life and existence can sometimes be treated as derivatives of activity, which is reflected in the common word usage ("life of dignity", "purposeful existence"). As the whole world is gradually assimilated by the culture, inanimate existence and life in such cultural environment change their quality, absorbing the elements of conscious activity. The human brain can serve as an immediate illustration: as a mere collection of cells, it will never develop the form of functioning characteristic of social behavior; consciousness needs a brain, but the brain must be well-cultivated to support consciousness.
Individual existence is referred to a thing; the unit of life can be called an organism; every activity needs a conscious subject. As a sort of thing, an organism is an organic body; but living body is different from dead body, and this difference is called soul. This does not mean that souls exist as independent entities; a soul is only a specific way of the body's existence in a biological environment modifying the non-organic processes. A soul cannot be detached from the body without killing the organism and hence the elimination of the soul. Similarly, a subject is primarily an organism, but of a very special kind; its body can combine both organic and inorganic components involved in common collective behavior. The difference of the subject from mere organism is known as the spirit. Once again, no spirit can exist on itself, without any organism at all. However, since the subject's body is a hierarchy of organic and inorganic components, the spirit is no longer attached to an individual body, it can find a different carrier without violating the integrity of the subject. This feature of the spirit is known as immortality. To kill the spirit, one needs to destroy a hierarchy of cultural formations, so that its elements would no longer belong to any common integrity, serving the same range of activities. This is a difficult task, since the universality of the subject makes it highly adaptable to any cultural changes, and it is practically impossible to erase all the direct and indirect influences, the products of the subject's activity. Nevertheless, for a particular body, spiritual death is quite possible, meaning a change in the mode of the spirit's existence. The spirit can leave the body without physically or biologically destroying it; the body just stops to support spirituality. For instance, a person can continue to live, to exist as a biological organism, but this living body is no longer spiritually active, it does not produce anything culturally valuable. Since spirituality is hierarchical, including the universal hierarchy of consciousness, self-consciousness and reason, spiritual death can destroy some levels without touching the rest; that is why the lack of spiritually can be rather hard to detect.
Being, motion, development
The category of being always remained in the core of any philosophies at all, even those that openly denied the philosophical significance of ontology; for instance, the category of being could become a mere logical form. Ancient philosophers also tried to comprehend the universality of motion, and this tradition still lives in modern philosophizing, though the study of motion has largely been usurped by science, so that philosophical treatment gets often reduced to a kind of meta-scientific approach. The category of development did not attract much public attention in the old times, and today, it has not yet reached any definiteness, which is objectively related to the complexity if the idea, and, on the other hand, to cultural immaturity. This category seems to stay suspended somewhere in between science and philosophy, neither pretending to fully assimilate, nor discard it. Though modern science has long since become saturated with the idea of development, it still gets lost in coping with developmental issues, lacking due philosophical support.
In unism, the three categories are regarded as the universal levels of existence (and hence the forms of reflection). Any isolated consideration is incompatible with the principle of the integrity of the world. There is no development without being and motion, and no being without motion and development. Each element of the triad is the synthesis of the other two.
Amateur philosophizing tends to confuse being with existence. However, even the everyday word usage already suggests a broader treatment, since "to be" as "to exist" is not the same as "to be something", with yet another connotation of "to play the role of", or "to be regarded as". Logical positivism tried to reduce all kinds of being to mere predication, entirely excluding the category of existence from philosophy, which is obviously the same vulgar identification in the idealistic guise. Arbitrarily discarding a category does not eliminate the problem; other categories will absorb the missing logical links reproducing the same contradictions elsewhere.
In diathetical logic, it does make much difference, whether to consider being as a level of existence, or existence as an aspect of being; these are merely two hierarchical positions of the same tetrad:
In the latter case, existence can be readily reinterpreted as presence, which is one of the connotations of the German term Dasein denoting a definite kind of being, and especially being here and now. Obviously, this does not reflect the idea of existence in full, only representing one of its aspects.
The universal character of the category being in unism demands as universal ideas of motion and development. That is, the forms of motion go far beyond mere displacement, or a physical change, and we can justly talk about the motion of ideas, or the motion of the soul. Following the mechanical tradition, motion is often pictured as a trajectory in some configuration space, finite or infinite, continuous or discrete, of any dimensionality and probably non-trivial topology. This scientific metaphor may be helpful in philosophy, provided one does not forget about the limited character of any formal representation. The category of motion covers all kinds of comparison, transition, transfer, interaction, or interdependence; a dyad could be said to be its logical counterpart, and that is why the study of motion lies in the core of any science.
Similarly, unism comprehends development as a universal idea, the unity of being and motion, staying and change. Anything in the world is subject to development, changing in some respects while remaining essentially the same. The category of development is closely related to the ideas of complexity and integrity: a developing thing adds new components to those retained, and hence becomes more complex; alternatively, it must integrate new aspects and features in its current existence to remain the same thing. That is, each level of development assumes a certain measure, a kind of balance between the thing's quality and quantity; however, this balance inevitably gets broken to produce a new quality that did not exist before, so that the developing thing can no longer be considered as the same. The unity of the old and new quality determines a higher-level measure, so that there is still something definite to develop. In other words, development makes things hierarchical, and it can be formally pictured as the growth of a thing's hierarchy. From this perspective, being represents the static, structural aspect of existence, while motion accentuates system dynamics.
Along with the general idea of being, one can consider an individual being as an entity, an aspect, or a thing. On the level of particularity, being is represented by the category of a state. That is, every particular occurrence of something, or any instance of being in general, corresponds to a definite state of the universe, or a thing correlation, as its representative. Accordingly, an elementary act of motion takes the form of transformation, transition or interaction, and we employ the category of change to express the idea of one state replacing another. Finally, individual development can be characterized as genesis, evolution, or formation, while the particular level of development is related to becoming.
Since existence is comprehended as a level of universal reflection (linking the world to itself), there is no need in the category of nothing, which was so much cherished by many philosophers of the idealistic ilk. In Germany, Hegel has even put this category (das Nichts) in the basis of his whole categorical system, producing being from nothing via becoming (das Werden). The principle of the integrity of the world states that any distinction is only possible within the same world, as one of its manifestations. That is, there is always something that makes any individual thing (its material), and all kinds of reflective phenomena (including consciousness and subjectivity) require a material basis. The category of nothing is philosophically void, it does not reflect anything universal.
However, the very presence of this idea indicates that there are certain aspects of the culture that could serve as its prototypes (even the idea of nothing does not come out of nothing!). And indeed, one can observe that the idea of nothing is related to the cultural recognition of integrity.
It is well known that the first conscious definition is negative: as soon as something takes root in the culture, we discover it as an object that is not like the others. For the next step, we try to find a measure of the new thing, that is, another object that would resemble the unknown and thus make it a little bit more tractable. Finally, after collecting the different aspects of the same, we can determine the place of the newcomer in the world, a kind of higher-order negation, opposing what the thing is and what it is not. This also makes the thing virtually identical to the rest of the world, since the two opposites are defined through each other.
Now, when it comes to the integrity of the world, the logic of negation fails, since there is nothing else, and there can be no comparison, nor measure. The negation of the whole is nothing. That is, it is identical to nothing. In other words, the category of nothing refers to the whole world taken in its syncretic integrity, as unique. Then this syncretic whole is reflected in itself to produce a universe of distinctions, individual things, which have to be brought to unity by the conscious subject. In this sense, Hegel was right to choose that very starting point for the development of the whole of philosophy; his only mistake was in the idealistic interpretation of the category, and naming it as "nothing" instead of "the world". With this shift of focus, Hegel's philosophy becomes identical to the philosophy of Marxism.
On the next level of integrity, when the world gets represented by the infinity of things and their mutual reflection, every part of the world can reproduce the world's integrity in its inner hierarchy, so that the idea of "nothing" will apply to such "mini-worlds" as well. However, local integrity can never be complete, and, in addition to the general sense of the presence of the integral whole, this category can take two complementary forms, of emptiness and vacancy. The whole world is always present; on the contrary, individual things can be or not be, and hence the idea of emptiness as the possibility of a thing that actually is not there. The integrity of the thing is still preserved, but this is a latent integrity, an entity. On the other hand, an actual thing can only unfold its content in a partial way, and hence it will never entirely correspond to its idea. This deficiency appears as vacancy, the lack of integrity, a kind of inner emptiness.
Of course, emptiness and vacancy are never absolute; these ideas are relative, they always refer to a particular level of hierarchy. The absence of one thing means the presence of another; lack of something means availability of something different. Thus, the empty space between the stars is filled with radiation, plasma and dust; elementary particles are immersed in (and existing as) a combination of fields; physical vacuum is far from being absolutely empty, it has a complex structure as a sea of virtual particle-antiparticle pairs. On the other hand, a vacancy in an atomic shell is really a collective phenomenon demonstrating particle-like behavior; it will interact with atomic electrons and external fields, and several vacancies may show a kind of collective behavior as well. This example illustrates the hierarchical organization of "nothingness" in the real world.