What is the basic philosophical premise of Essentialism?
Essentialism is uniquely predicated on the concept of a sensible Essence that encompasses all as a "not-other" to itself. The metaphysics replaces Cartesian dualism with an undifferentiated Source whose negation of nothingness divides being (essent) from awareness (negate) to actualize the dichotomy being-aware. The negate may be regarded as a "microcosm" of Absolute Sensibility in that it is value-awareness. As the autonomous agent of value, the negate assumes organic identity to create the appearance of finitude. Psychically separated from Absolute Essence, the individual is born into a world of dynamic "beingness" that is largely of his own creation. This makes man a cognizant creature with limited understanding but capable of exquisite sensibility to the values experienced in an objective reality. Although he does not sense Essence directly, Value underlies all experience and represents man's hypostatic union with the Essential Source.
How can nothingness create anything?
Meister Eckhart in the 14th century taught that "To create is to give being out of nothing". Yet, the perfect sensibility of Essence contains no nothingness; Eckhart described it as "the fullness of being". The Platonist theologian Cusanus helped to resolve this paradox a century later by theorizing that "the world is not God but is not anything other than God". Cusa's 'first principle' is posited as "the coincidence of all opposition", which he called the not-other. Since Essence is absolute, it includes the potential to negate its antithetical nothingness (all that is not). This negation actualizes existence as a dichotomy in which the negate becomes the cognizant subject of a relational world whose objects are selectively delineated from Essence by its own intellect, while the cosmic design is intrinsic to Essence. The negate creates by negating otherness to become cognizant of finite being. The physical forms of being are universally communicable, while their relative values can only be sensed by the proprietary self.
Why do you say that the self is a "not-other" instead of "other"? Doesn't Essence create man as its other?
This reasoning seems logical until one realizes that the self can not possess Essence and be an autonomous agent. The "other" created by Essence is a not-other only to itself. In the actualized world the "not-" of that other is man's cognizant self—the negate of an existential dichotomy in which otherness is the object of his experience and the essential source of its beingness. This frees man to derive the value of Absolute Essence incrementally, through the life-experience.
What, then, becomes of man or the self at the end of that experience?
Although Value is man's essential reality, his sense of it is provisional, as a negate separated from its absolute Source. The experiential values realized by each individual in life are a manifestation of the Absolute Essence which is denied to existents. Every person freely identifies with a unique configuration of essent-values during his or her lifetime, and it is this value complement rather than the individuated self that is restored to its unconditional status upon the cessation of biological life. Thus, the human individual is an autonomous agent that affirms in otherness its denied value in Essence—not as a "part" of Essence but in the immutable Oneness of Essence.
Does this mean that the self is terminated by death?
Yes. Remember that the self is a negate—a non-being from the moment of creation, and its value-awareness is the source of its finitely intellectualized beingness. Conversely, Essence is uncreated; its Oneness transcends finitude as well as the differentiation of a physical world. Value plays a vital role as man's link to Essence, while man's conditional value-sense is the means by which Essence gains an "external perspective" of its Absolute Value.
How does the Essentialist regard the issue of Creationism vs. Evolution?
Darwin's theory of evolution is perfectly compatible with Essentialism's negational ontology in the space/time context, as is the notion of an Intelligent Designer. However, the Essentialist believes that time and space are intellectualized dimensions resulting from man's fragmented perspective, and that existence is anthropocentric, which means that the universe exists for man's benefit in the conditional sense and for the perfection of Essence in the absolute sense. Essentialists also acknowledge the inaccessibility of Absolute Truth to be consistent with the principle of Individual Freedom.
What kind of morality system is suggested by the Philosophy of Essence?
Like everything else in existence, morality is relative. Events and fortunes are not decisions of a "willful God". There is no "right" or "wrong" behavior, except as determined by the laws of Nature and the conventions of society. There are, however, higher and lower levels of value-sensibility which depend on the individual's exercise of free choice in self-development and in dealing with other human beings. Respect for all sentient life and the preservation of Individual Freedom are moral principles consistent with Essentialism. Insensibility to such values diminishes one's own value in Essence.
Other modern philosophies are founded on Quality or Value per se. Is the Philosophy of Essence such a belief system?
Philosophies that have developed in the postmodern era are typically oriented toward scientific materialism with certain beliefs in common. These include: the rejection of a primary source (considered "supernatural"), a material basis for reality (considered "scientific"), a humanistic (collectivist) ideology that regards consciousness or "intellect" as a byproduct of genetic and cultural evolution, and a non-transcendental (nihilistic) view of the universe. While Robert Pirsig's "Metaphysics of Quality" represents a novel departure from materialism, its moral hierarchy of values is incomprehensible to all but its most ardent followers, and the philosophy offers no essential meaning or purpose for man's existence.
Since "primary source" implies a Supernatural Creator, why do you avoid its obvious reference to God?
God traditionally evokes descriptions that do not apply to Essence. For example, many religious people understand God as an all-knowing anthropomorphic Being of masculine gender who exists somewhere beyond the earth and arbitrarily intercedes in human affairs. Essence is not an existent, hence is not limited by finitude or subject to the space/time locus of created things. Moreover, if Essence were to control the conduct of mankind or grant "special favors", there could be no such thing as Individual Freedom which is the core morality of Essentialism. Since Essence is immutable, it cannot logically be identified by, or reduced to, relational attributes such as Intellect, Goodness, Beauty, Power, or Contrariety.