Ashvin, rather tread the same ground in debate, I thought I would share something I was reading which gives a slightly different perspective that may (or may not!) help reconcile at least some areas. It’s from the French philosopher Jean Borella, and unfortunately is in French. My French can just about order dinner, so metaphysics is hopeless. However my phone seems to do a reasonable job of translation.
The way he formulates things is to only consider them real when consciously observed, and apart from that as just potential. So I thought this may appeal to you
Nonetheless he is not saying that what is not observed does not exist, just defining “real” as that which has been ‘realised’.
I’ll post a link to the article, but a lot of it is the history of gnosis, and distinguishing Gnostic (bad) from gnosis (good). It’s obviously a complicated history because of the different ways it’s been used over time. But I will post a part of my translation (which is far from perfect), as it seems to me to have at least some common ground between our views.
You will note he uses some words differently to how we usually do, monism for example, and when he uses “idealism” it’s arguably closer to Berkley’s subjective idealism than what I at least mean by the term. You may of course disagree with all of it, which is fine
First, it could be considered that it is only terminology. Guénon proposes, in fact, to clarify the meaning of the word "real" as meaning what we have become effectively aware of, what we have "achieved", in the sense of English to realize. May we immediately understand that this proposal goes much further. Not only does it make it possible to envisage realization by knowledge in a new light, by inseparably considering it as the realization of the "object" as well as the "subject", but it is also based on what we will call a metaphysics of knowledge that, in a certain sense, replaces a metaphysics of being.
Regarding the first point, that is, the correlative "realization", through knowledge, of the knowing subject and the known object, we will say that it actualizes their primordial and underlying unity. The real is correlative of the consciousness we take of it, and, therefore, the degree of reality is correlative of the degree of consciousness. If, for us, reality is first and foremost the corporeal world, it is because our consciousness is first and foremost purely sensory, that is to say absorbed by the sensitive world. She thus "realizes" the bodily possibility, not in the sense that she would make it exist, where she would confer the being on it, but in the sense that we cannot intelligently speak of the sensitive world independently of its knowledge by the senses. Sensation, says Aristotle, is the common act of the sentient and the sensitive, and the sensitive is in action only in sensation. There is no idealism here, quite the contrary, since idealism always of the (psychological) idea, in other words of the thinking subject posed alone in its independent reality, and here subject and object are considered from the outset in the unity of their current relationship 107. Nor is objectivism that, as we said, contradictorily poses an object that would not be object for anyone. Finally, it is also not a monism, because the distinction between subject and object is not denied: it is even made possible in the unity of their common act. It follows from all this that, if we want to give the real a current meaning, we must consider it as the result of knowledge, that is to say, of the common act of the knower and the known, the intellect and the intelligible. Knowledge is realization and realization is knowledge. What is not currently known is therefore not currently "real", and therefore must be considered as possible. Again, this does not mean at all that what we do not have a current consciousness of is purely non-existent, nor that it would need us to access it, but only, in the strict term, there is necessarily some illusion to talk about the reality of something of which we do not have an effective consciousness. Illusion undoubtedly inevitable and whose meaning we will see in a moment, but which nevertheless remains an illusion, that of any ontological discourse, unaware of its own existential situation, and which, by dint of speaking of the Real alone, forgets that it must also be "realistic".
Therefore, anything that exceeds the degree of our current consciousness can be considered, having regard to the knowledge that we will have to take of it, as a possibility. And this is particularly true for everything that goes beyond the manifested world, since, in his ordinary state, fallen man cannot take effective knowledge of it. It is therefore in relation to man that everything that belongs to the divine metacosm "appears" as a set of possibilities that man will have to realize through knowledge. By speaking of the Non-Manifesto as the set of possibilities of non-manifestation, we avoid, as much as we can, the error of "chosistic" ontologism, which, insofar as it poses the absolute and infinite Reality as an object before it, precisely denies that It is absolute and infinite, since It is then necessarily relative to a subject that, being distinct from It, limits it by itself. And who will deny that he never fell into this illusion and that he never thought so of the Absolute, when all thought is inevitably objective? Moreover, it is not a question of questioning the validity of such a thought. It is also saving, in its own way, and on its own plane, since it communicates to us the knowledge of the transcendent Object, that is to say, of the Being who created us and who alone can save us. But we must now try to communicate the knowledge of what goes beyond Being. Can the thought of Being still be the thought of Over Being? Is it really the Non-Being that we think if we think of it in the same way as Being? This is why Guénon proposes to think of the Infinite as a universal Possibility, making it clear that this is the only way we can still conceive of it. It is not only what, in itself, can be any reality, it is also, and inseparably, what, for us, is universally possible. Whoever considers in spirit, with the greatest attention, the very notion of universal possibility, will see that we cannot dissociate, in it, what is the unlimited conceptual openness of the thinking subject and what belongs to the infinite Objectiveness under the effect of which intelligence opens. There are thus two intersecting senses of possibility. In the descending sense, from God to man, the possibilities of manifestation designate creatures in their prototypical and causal state, "before" their cosmic existence or realization. In the ascending sense, from man to God in his superessential Thearchy, it is the divine Metacosm, which from the point of view of our current consciousness, "appears" as a universal Possibility (with God everything is possible), insofar as we have to realize Him, by virtue of the very nature of our intellect. From this point of view, moreover, there are only possibilities of non-manifestation, since even the possibilities of demonstration are considered in their unmanifested state.
But we must not lose sight of the metaphysical identity of the possible and the real. It is here that we approach, in conclusion, what we have called a metaphysics of knowledge replacing a metaphysics of being. This metaphysical identity is another way of designating the supreme Identity, since, if only what has been achieved through knowledge is real, then we can speak of the identity of the Possible as such in the Real only on the condition that knowledge has become absolutely total, or, more precisely, that it has always been, that is to say, that it is realized in its permanent actuality. Only in this way is it legitimate to speak now of That that surpasses our individual consciousness, because It is the totalization of all possible knowledge. The point of view of "realization" is thus "carrier" of a metaphysics as broad, if not more so, than that of "doctrine". However, it is not enough to consider universal metaphysical principles as the "realization", accomplished from eternity, of total knowledge, which indeed allows us to speak of what we have not yet taken an effective and immediate knowledge of. It is also necessary to account for the possibility of this "event" that is the very realization of an act of knowledge. If everything is accomplished, why are there achievements? 108
We have previously seen the difficulty presented by the discourse on Being, on the side of the human subject. But the difficulty is no less on the side of the Known Object, that is to say, of Being himself. What does it mean for this being known, the fact that an act of knowledge can happen for the One who cannot undergo any change? The question may surprise us because we spontaneously imagine knowledge as the event of Being "from the outside", of an inconceivable "nowhere". But if knowledge is "outside" Being, then it does not exist. And if it is part of Being, it cannot happen, Being being immutable. In either case, it cannot take place, it is impossible. This is why we are forced, here too, to account for the act of knowledge, to go beyond Being, where the Identity of Self to Self is no longer that of immutability of nature, but transcends the opposition of the changing and the immutable and contains them supereminately, because It is pure of any determined nature or essence. Knowledge, thus envisaged in its main possibility, is then, as Guénon says, an "aspect of the Infinite" 109. It corresponds very exactly to what the Catholic Tradition calls "Immaculate Conception", since it is, ultimately, the Immaculate Conception (pure of all determination, even essential) that the Absolute takes of Himself. Analogy all the more obvious since there is a deep kinship, and even a metaphysical identity, between the Universal Possibility as Shakti of the Supreme Brahma and Mary, Bride and Mother of God declaring to Saint Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception" 110. The event of knowledge is therefore eternal. It takes place in the permanent and universal actuality of the supreme (superontological) "Intellect" or Active Perfection, which embraces in it the countless relativity of particular awareness, insofar as they are included in Passive Perfection. This is God's self-revelation to Himself, the "hidden treasure" that God was and for whose knowledge He created the world. For God desires to be known and the myriad intellects that open up to His mystery are, in reality, countless ways in which He becomes aware of Himself. In this countless participation of created intellects in the Knowledge of Self (Atmâbhoda), the infinite identity of active Perfection and passive Perfection is realized, not for Him, the Supreme, who is this Identity even eternally accomplished, but for the myriads of intellectual mirrors in which It finally becomes reality. And it is because She is eternally accomplished that She can be realized at any moment in every intelligence that opens up to her permanent irradiation. The same goes for the human intellect as opaque spheres that suddenly open to the Ocean of Light in which they have always been immersed. In a flash they "become" what they were, crystalline spheres, sparkling stars, lights in the Light. Whenever thus a starry intelligence is born within divine Knowledge, whenever a "gnostic event" thus occurs, which is nothing more than a possibility of the Infinite Himself, each time the Supreme Thearchy realizes the mystery of her new and eternal birth to Herself, each time the Father begets his only and beloved Word and Son in the unity of her Spirit.