The Principle of Inclusive Transcendence

The Principle of Inclusive Transcendence is the governing principle that the manifold diversity of experiences which constitute a given, shared reality come together and coalesce into a new occasion that integrates the preceding ones as part of its own internal constitution and which is brought about by a novel act of creative synthesis, only to be taken up again by the incessant unfolding of the process of coming-to-be-together or “concrescence”. The actual datum of the settled past is pulled into a creative present (thereby “including” the past in the present) while forming itself in anticipation of some novel future through select consideration of certain virtual possibilities (thereby “transcending” the terms upon which the past has been already settled). While the integral phases of concrescence describe the dynamics by which any given process unfolds, the principle of inclusive transcendence explains the logic (or dialogic) that determines why a given process takes on the characteristic forms that it does.

The dialogic of inclusive transcendence proceeds as follows in a tri-part manner:

In an initial moment, all perspectives of a given totality are understood as being necessarily partial (and hence abstract) in that they isolate and absolutize what are otherwise indivisible and relational moments of a concrete process. 

In order to succeed to a higher, more encompassing perspective from which all preceding, lower, partial perspectives can be comprehensively understood (and thus retrospectively validated as integral parts of a completer whole) there is required a creative act of synthesis by which the disjunctive diversity is brought into conjunctive unity. This is the intermediary moment.

The final moment is the unity of feelings characterizing the complete satisfaction of this process of concrescence or coming-to-be-together, where the result of the creative process discloses itself to itself as a condition for the possibility of additional experience.

The principle of inclusive transcendence is transcendental in the sense that it applies to every single possible domain of experience (which includes but is not exhausted by the ontological, epistemological, aesthetic, scientific, ethical, and soteriological) since it is their ultimate genetic point of origination.

It is also immanent in the sense that, beyond its exemplification by particular domains of experience, it has no independent existential reality of its own, being as it is the very end to which everything culminates.

As such, inclusive transcendence is an immanent transcendental—a condition included in, rather than excluded from, that which it conditions.

Contrast this to the views of “exclusive transcendence” and “radical immanence”:

For exclusive transcendence, there is a supreme transcendental (usually a deity) that is said to be beyond the purview of that which it conditions, being entirely unaffected by them. Such a unilateral transcendental signifies a ruling law and order to which it is its own exception, an exception that affords it and it alone the power to create itself while all other things are marked as being indebted to its own cause. 

For radical immanence, there are no real transcendentals to be found, only network effects guided by their own, irreducibly unique intensities which are conditional yet without condition. If there are any transcendentals left here to speak of it could only minimally admit of a transcendental that ensures the very absence of transcendentals.

Each view, whether exclusive transcendence or radical immanence, accounts for only a partial aspect of the process of inclusive transcendence except erroneously rendered absolute, and in so doing they obstruct the grounds for their own intelligibility and systematic coherence. 

Like inclusive transcendence, exclusive transcendence accounts for the fact that the transcendental applies to all of conditioned existence without exception, but unlike inclusive transcendence it makes a sole exception for itself. If the transcendental is the sole, real reason for all experience, then it begs the question as to how one could come to experiential knowledge of this transcendental if it is said to lie entirely outside of its own jurisdiction.

If the knowledge is given a priori, as in prior to experience, then the notion is circular, because the unconditioned condition of all conditions is assumed to exist only because the existence of conditions is said to point to an unconditioned condition underlying them. If on the other hand the knowledge is given a posteriori, as in proceeding from experience, then the notion suffers a vicious regress: how does knowledge of conditioned facts lead to knowledge about the unconditioned condition conditioning them without the mediation of other conditioned facts which themselves must be mediated, ad infinitum? Inclusive transcendence never falls prey to such circularity nor regress because its own transcendental is involved in or immanent to — not transcendent from — its conditions.

Like inclusive transcendence, radical immanence accounts for the fact that there are nothing “behind” conditions but other conditions because we can find nothing beyond networks of interacting conditions with their own unique propensities for development, but unlike inclusive transcendence it denies that there is an order that determines the manner by which such network interactions occur in the first place. In the absence of any regulating order, it begs the question as to how we can come to understand a procession of conditions as being without a pre-existing order if they did not already form the procession in the particular manner of “being without an order”. But the very notion of “being without an order” presupposes some other existing order against which the notion of “being without an order” can be contraposed, otherwise the concept alone by itself is rendered meaningless. Inclusive transcendence never displays such duplicity where what is explicitly denied is covertly assumed, since it is self-consistent with the fact that all conditions issue from a given order even if this order is not a final, ultimate order.   

The principle of inclusive transcendence is distinct not only from the views of exclusive transcendence or radical immanence in content but also in kind. While each view is a view or perspective precisely because of its absolutized rendering of a partial, one-sided moment of the total process of creative becoming, inclusive transcendence is not a view precisely because it is the very process by which all views come to be and that which all views are purported to be about, which is a process that includes but is not finally determined by any one or sum of its parts. Hence inclusive transcendence itself inclusively transcends all views, including the partial views of exclusive transcendence and radical immanence. This makes the principle a trans-categorical principle in that it itself inclusively transcends all possible binary conceptual contrast such as being and becoming, actual and potential, cause and effect, finite and infinite, absolute and relative, necessity and contingency, etc. — all of which are by nature partial views — and is thus irreducible to any individual term or their summation.

Since it is not itself a view but a dynamic process, inclusive transcendence in its very essence is the actual embodiment of the process of creative salvation, concretely realized through the continuum of lived experience.    


What will be termed the Principle of Open-Emptiness is another trans-categorical immanent transcendental that is just as involved, albeit implicitly, in the Principle of Inclusive Transcendence as the latter is involved in the former. Their difference is in their emphasis on one of two sides of any given reality, as either a fact that has-been or a value yet-to-be. Ultimate analysis of fact yields emptiness (that facts have no intrinsic existence outside networks of real abstractions or conventional truths) and speculative advance upon values yields becoming (that values emerge from a process of creative-destruction or becoming).

Neither side alone can count as the sole, eminent reality since they are just partial aspects of a greater whole. Neither can their sum, for the simple reason that the past and future are never simultaneously present. Neither is reality beyond these two principles of open-emptiness and inclusive-transcendence, since besides these two there is no other way that reality can be experienced.

Insofar as these two principles are seen in isolation, the real interrelation between them becomes obscured. Upon collapse of the distinction between center and periphery in one’s awareness, the basis of this real interrelation becomes gradually disclosed over time but never once is it being anything other than itself. Anyone who sees this process to its ultimate end can be considered a perfect being, for their own nature is now completely in sync with the ultimate nature of reality experienced as the paradoxical unity or coalescence of open-emptiness and inclusive transcendence wherein inclusive transcendence is inclusively transcending the contrast between itself and open-emptiness and open-emptiness is disclosing the open-emptiness of the relation between itself and inclusive transcendence — at once losing themselves and becoming more of themselves in the process.   

The Principle of Open-Emptiness will be elaborated upon in its own text on a later date.

This entry is dedicated to the late Peter Paul Kakol, to whom I am deeply grateful for his monumental contribution to global cross-cultural philosophical dialogue in particular and the Mahāyāna program in general: his posthumous magnum opus “Emptiness and Becoming” to which I owe a great deal for my own understanding of reality and myself.

Dear Peter, I have never met you personally, but you have been (and continue to be) one of my most profound teachers.  

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