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Understanding The Metaverse

It is a mistake to think of the Metaverse as a thing or even a different world. Don't ask What? Whether? questions: "What is Metaverse?" "Which is the real world?" "Are Virtual Reality headsets essential for it?" "Were Secondlife, MUDs and 'video games' 'real' metaverses?"

Instead, ask Why? How? Should? questions. Think of the Metaverse as multi-aspectual functioning - the modes in which it functions and has repercussions. Think of it as part of Reality along with the 'real' world that we take for granted. All Reality - whether Metaverses or 'real world' - functions in quantitative, spatial, kinematic aspects, in physical, biotic aspects, in psychological and logical aspects, in technical and lingual aspects, in social and economic aspects, in aesthetic aspect of fun, leisure and harmony, in juridical aspect of right and wrong, in ethical aspect of goodness, even in faith aspects like believing, assuming, committing, even worshipping. These are Aspects of Reality.

Aspect of Reality are various ways in which things can be meaningful and good (or bad) and they all work together in all things. They define basic kinds of law by which reality operates, basic kinds of properties, of possibility, of rationality, of good and evil. They are modes of being, modes of functioning. They govern, and make possible, both the 'real' world and any Metaverse or even fictional world. There is still something we would think of as justice, or space, or beauty, or faithfulness, or sociality, or ... in both Metaverse and 'real' world, even though precisely what is just or unjust, beautiful or ugly, etc. might differ. Example: Biodiversity loss might not be an issue in games, but in the real world it is, but loss does retains its negative connotations in both.

Fruitless and Fruitful Understanding

The What? and Whether? have unfortunately dominated our debate about the Metaverse, but they are fruitless and never get genuinely resolved. This is because they concern types of things - and types of things are never fixed and precise, but allow for individuality in all aspects. All types of thing are defined according to profiles of aspects called "structures of individuality".

To understand things, it is better to directly back to the aspects that make them possible, and which also enable us at the same time to think of "Ought" as well as "Is". That is the meaning-based way of understanding the Metaverse and 'real' world, in which we see everything as a harmony of multi-aspectual functioning. It automatically helps us understand not only the things that are or are in the Metaverse or 'real' world, but how things function in every aspect, what possibilities there might be in both worlds, and what is fundamentally meaningful and desirable in both. That is why Why?, How? and Should? questions are more fruitful.

Similarities and Differences

In the meaning-based way, we understand the Metaverse as part of reality overall, along with the 'real world'. Our functioning in Metaverse and in 'real world' are similar. Examples: Take the quantitative aspect: in both 2 + 2 = 4. Take the biotic aspect; in both there is life. Take the technical (formative) aspect: in both there is technology and also planning and achieving. Take the faith aspect: in both, there is believing (including misbelieving!), assuming, committing, courage or cowerdice. Take the social aspect: in both there is the possibility of relating to others. And the lingual aspect: in both there is communication. And so on.

Where they differ, usually, is in the detail of each aspect. For example, in the real world stealing might be wrong, whereas in a computer game, stealing might be right. But in both there is right and wrong, even though what is right and wrong in each might be different. What is right and wrong in the Metaverse or computer game or any virtual reality is determined by its algorithms.

Let us take me having two 'beings,' in the real and metaverse, called R and M. R might avoid stealing; M might steal as much as possible. Now, what is the relationship between R and M? R 'plays' M, but M also affects R in some ways.

R plays M; for example take the aesthetic aspect of fun. In both worlds, it is R that experiences fun and harmony, even of what M is doing.

Now, how is it that people can argue whether the Metaverse or 'real world' is the 'really real' one? Most existence-based attempts to argue why the 'real world' is more real ultimately fail. But the meaning-based view sees both as real; the question is nullified - it cuts directly through the Gordian Knot of that question.

The Metaverse is R functioning in certain aspects in certain ways. The central one is the lingual aspect, in that engagement with and in Metaverse is almost all via information, whereas in the 'real world' it is more directly via all aspects.

Important implication: For the Metaverse that is not to be a computer game or fiction, check out carefully what the algorithms see as good and evil / bad in each aspect. Example: Do we really want selfishness (ethical aspect) to reign, or should self-giving love be encouraged? What do the algorithms encourage and discourage - even today in the adverts they choose? Be careful!

That's just a start. More to be come.

This page, "", is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments are welcome.

Written on the Amiga and Protext in the style of classic HTML.

You may use this material subject to conditions. Compiled by Andrew Basden.

Created: 19 April 2022. Last updated: