Moving from a scientific psychology based on epistemological methods to one based on a coherent ontology of the mental.

Abstract

This blog outlines the current state of scientific psychology, and then explains how the Unified Theory of Knowledge gives rise to a new approach. Mainstream academic psychology currently consists of a marriage between an eclectic blend of overlapping but also incompatible schools of thought that are all coupled to an empirical epistemology, such that the result is an endless array of research programs that vaguely intersect in the ill-defined domain of “behavior and mental processes.” In contrast, the UTOK gives us an ontological approach that provides both a clear descriptive metaphysical vocabulary and a metatheoretical formulation for the “mental…


What is the relationship between the mental and the physical worlds? On the one hand, the distinction seems obvious. Consider, for example, the story of my daughter, Sydney, who, when she was 4, freaked out at the doctor’s office because she was terrified about getting a shot. The nurse came into our room, and proceeded to set up the materials for the shot, but she was then called away. Seeing the needles, Sydney became increasingly distraught. First, she whimpered, “I don’t want that. I want to go home.” She then brushed off our assurances and started crying loudly. She then…


Yesterday I put up the Tree, Coin, Garden blog and got this comment:

“This is the clearest explanation from first principles of your theory. I still struggle to understand how The Tree, The Garden and The Coin influence each other so an article focusing exclusively on that would be great. Thank you. My background is in finance and I am always looking for the high level elevator pitch (which is the most difficult to make) before going into details.”

I happened to see this note just prior to going on my daily walk. In looking for a podcast to listen…


The Unified Theory of Knowledge gives us a new way to think about human knowledge. As a theory of knowledge, the UTOK differentiates between science, self, and culture as three primary and separable contexts of justification. More specifically, these different domains can be framed in terms of (1) objective or scientific descriptions about what is the case based on quantifiable facts and behavioral patterns (i.e., the “It” of science); (2) subjective statements about truth grounded in phenomenology (i.e., the “I” of perspective and personal narrative); and (3) intersubjective statements about group identity grounded in the domain of cultural narratives (i.e…


This blog provides some narrative background that enables readers to situate the development of the Unified Theory of Knowledge. In particular, it highlights how and why it emerged in relationship to my being trained as an American clinical psychologist.

My friend, the philosopher Alexander Bard, sometimes chides me by saying that my philosophy is stuck somewhere between Newton and Kant (and thus I have have failed to appreciate thinkers like Hegel, Deleuze, Žižek and many others). In many ways, he is right. Mainstream American psychology can indeed be thought of as being wedged between the science of Isaac Newton and…


A core part of the Unified Theory of Knowledge is that it seeks to develop a coherent naturalistic ontology that includes the science of psychology. Central to this effort is UTOK’s first key idea, which is the Tree of Knowledge System. The ToK System is a descriptive metaphysical system that provides a new theory of reality and our scientific knowledge of it. This blog deconstructs this argument. We begin with defining our terms.

Defining Metaphysics, Ontology, and Epistemology

Metaphysics refers to the concepts and categories that one is using to map the world. We can divide metaphysics into three categories. Pure metaphysics refers to concepts…


Twenty years ago, I uncovered a way to unify scientific knowledge from the behavior of quantum particles studied by physicists to the behavior of cultures studied by anthropologists.

Note that this piece was authored 20 years ago (Feb 2001), that is why it has no recent links.

In his influential book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998), Edward O. Wilson offers the hypothesis that all knowledge, from quanta to culture, can be united into a single, coherent conceptual framework. Wilson readily acknowledged his grand proposal stood as a hypothesis and that consilient unity among the sciences, particularly between the natural and social sciences, has yet to be achieved. The Tree of Knowledge (ToK) System presented here offers a solution demonstrating the validity of Wilson’s consilient hypothesis. …


A Sincere Ironic Essay Justifying the Unified Theory

The Unified Theory of Knowledge is, in many ways, an “atypical” framework for understanding the human condition. One element that makes it atypical is how it functions as a metamodern sensibility. Metamodern means many things (see here and here), but one of the angles of it that I embrace is the sincere ironic attitude that pervades the metamodern way of seeing the world. To be explicit, irony generally conveys meaning by signifying its opposite. It also opens up the “negative” cognitive space of opposing views, metaphorical interpretations, critique, and uncertainty. In contrast, sincerity is about integrity and being deeply truthful…


When the first depiction of what would become the Tree of Knowledge System “fell out of my soul” in a moment of inspiration in 1997, my mind exploded and for months it seemed like I was seeing something new in the diagram every day.

These days it is pretty rare for me to see something new in the vision logic* of the ToK System itself. The standard ToK depiction is now just part of the automatic way in which I see reality and our scientific knowledge of it.


The Unified Theory Of Knowledge (UTOK) provides a way to organize human knowledge and serve as a transcendental beacon and guide toward the cultivation of wisdom energy in the 21st Century. Its fullest representation is in the form of a Garden that symbolizes it as a wisdom philosophy. The UTOK Garden Philosophy is framed here as a set of 10 core principles.

Principle 1: A Wisdom Ethic

Embodying wisdom in the real world is complex and contextual. However, wisdom does have an identifiable conceptual structure. It involves metacognitive reflection grounded in foundational values and oriented toward valued states of being…

Gregg Henriques

Professor Henriques is a scholar, clinician and theorist at James Madison University.

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