Threesology Research Journal: Trichotomization

Three Philosopher Types

(Approximationist- Proximationist- Oximationist)

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Progressive Thinkers as of 1/16/2023

Every Subject has three types of philosophers, despite all the kinds of names (labels) one might think to apply to a given perspective of thinking, with or without an application of such thoughts, like those who prefer to engage solely in thought experiments and no actual ones to test their thoughts, because they prefer to engage in conversational tasks like those of the Peripatetic past (utilizing Aristotle's kind of thinking), or those of the later Peripatetic Lyceum clan (utilizing Theophrastus's inquiry style), as opposed to developing a New Peripatetic Model. Take for example:

However, with respect to Aristotle and his three kinds of sciences, we see a fore-runner of the ideas incorporated into the three philosopher types being presented here. Aristotle's Productive - Practical - Theoretical division of sciences (if one allows for differences in intellectual eras with respect to his and the present one, whereby the terms and definitions are not meant to explicate a literal distinction of applicability), we can get a sense of an Approximationist, Proximationist, and Oximationist orientations:

  1. The productive sciences, naturally enough, are those that have a product. They include not only engineering and architecture, which have products like bridges and houses, but also disciplines such as strategy and rhetoric, where the product is something less concrete, such as victory on the battlefield or in the courts.
  2. The practical sciences, most notably ethics and politics, are those that guide behaviour.
  3. The theoretical sciences—physics, mathematics, and theology—are those that have no product and no practical goal but in which information and understanding are sought for their own sake.

(In Aristotle's era, Physic's was hardly developed to a state of testability. No less, the minds of Mathematicians had not matured enough to deal appropriately with theoretical propositions in their arithmetic and geometry. However, while he was wrong about Religion being a science per se, he was right about it being theo-retical. (Or "God- Rhetorical")):


(Wordweb dictionary)
  1. Using language effectively to please or persuade
  2. High-flown style; excessive use of verbal ornamentation
  3. Study of the technique and rules for using language effectively (especially in public speaking)
  4. Insincere or vague talk with empty promises etc. that is supposed to impress

Very often the word "types" and "kinds" are used interchangeably, just as one apply the words religion mathematics, science, business, philosophy, art, music, sport, gaming, etc. to different subjects, so long as one makes an allowance for permitting a wide latitude of metaphor to be indulged in, if not for an attempted sophistication then some personally applied jocularity. Since all of us use approximations, it shouldn't surprise someone to encounter the notion of it being applied to Philosophy or any other subject, even those thought to be completely serious topics. No less, the idea that some thinkers invest a great deal of time into a given perspective in search of accuracy or truthfulness should not also be of any surprise. In addition, it should likewise not be any surprise to find those who seek to go beyond some defined perception of truth and accuracy, to find an even greater level thereof, whether one exists or not. Hence, my three categories are not necessarily a ground-breaking new insight into looking at human mental activity, but it allows us to have a more definitive explanation of what is taking place overall.

Three types of philsophical persepctives applied to a general perspective

The three words I use are Approximation, Proximation, Oximation. While the second word used two less letters than the first, and the third word used three less letters less than the second to suggest a retrograde development, the three are actually being used to describe what appears to be a developmental trend towards a more definitive and higher model of thinking. Some definitions may be helpful:


(Wordweb dictionary)
  1. An approximate calculation of quantity, degree or worth
  2. The quality of coming near to identity (especially close in quantity)
  3. An imprecise or incomplete account


  1. next; nearest; immediately before or after in order, place, occurrence, etc.
  2. close; very near.
  3. approximate; fairly accurate.
  4. forthcoming; imminent.


  1. (There is no current existing definition with respect to its present usage on this page. In fact, emphasizing it as a reference to "oxygen" is a misnomer if you are familiar with the word "oxime" as it is used in Chemistry, but as will be seen later, it can be used when it is understood as a reference to the role oxygen played in evolution. The following definition from a Chemistry perspective (about "oximes") should nonetheless be presented as will a further representation later on in the discussion:
  2. Oximes are the most common and widely acclaimed nitrogen containing biological motifs, with diverse biological and pharmacological applications. These hydroxy-imine derivatives are regarded for their antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer activities. Oximes have gained wide popularity due to their potency to act as antidotes against nerve agents. This is achieved by their ability to reactivate the enzyme—acetyl-cholinesterase (AChE). Organophosphates (OPs) are the compounds commonly used as pesticides, insecticides, medications and as nerve agents in chemical weapons. These compounds are extremely toxic and OP poisoning symptoms can vary from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and confusion, and can lead to fatality in a few minutes to days, depending on the toxicity of the agent. Although the first OP insecticide was engineered in the mid-1800s, it only came to light after World War II. (FDA-Approved Oximes and Their Significance in Medicinal Chemistry, by Jyothi Dhuguru, Eugene Zviagin, and Rachid Skouta, [Marialuigia Fantacuzzi, Academic Editor].
  3. The most important therapies are atropine, oximes and anticonvulsants. —Ellen Barry, New York Times, 29 May 2018 (Merriam Oxime)

[It is interesting to make note that the author of the "proximate" definition resorted to using the word "approximate". They went to a lower level view in an attempt to advance a higher 'proximate' view.]

As a simple explanation using a topic many people are aware of, let us look at the concept of god, and how the three philosopher types might be used by those advocating some measure of believability... from their perspective:

  • Approximationists: God is a supposition, a conjecture. Generalities purporting to be representative of (a) god are theory.
  • Proximationists: God is a reasonable assumption. Others say that they mostly believe such theologians but since they are human they can make errors and therefore a few items need clarification.
  • Oximationists: God is a fact. Some theologians believe they are absolutely correct, yet offer no definitive proof other than to take their word that what they offer as proof should be viewed as a definitively obvious proof of the greatest excellence existence has to offer.

I've been thinking about this page for a few days and have decided to start because of the repetition which the ideas have been forming and fomenting, as well as the realization that I have been unable to find an already written essay on the topic of Trichotomization in Philosophy which actually attempts to analyse the presence of Trichotomic thinking alongside other recurring patterns such as "Oneness", Duality (Non-duality), and the Many, which might be labeled as a Plurality, Polytomy, Multiplicity, or other-wise denoting an encapsulated wholeness or W-holism. As an initial reference to the idea one might try here: Trichotomy (philosophy), because it at least provides multiple examples of trichotomies from different authors perspectives. And for those with an interest in dualities, you might try here for a start: List of Dualities, yet for the case of Pluralities, I couldn't come across a site that was in any way measurably similar to the trichotomies and dichotomies, though one might well begin one:

List of Plurality suggestions

(An A to Z "grab-bag" assortment, suggesting a multiplicity.)
  • All, Any, Apocalypse
  • Behemoth, Bacteria
  • Catalog, Cells, Community
  • Department store
  • Everything, Evolution
  • Freedom, Field
  • God (God viewed both as the Many and the One, or One-Many)
  • Happiness, heap
  • Infinity
  • Jail
  • Kelp
  • Life, List, Large
  • More than 1, more than 2, more than 3
  • Numerous, Numbers, Nothing
  • Ocean
  • Publicly
  • Questions
  • Revolution
  • Swiss Army Knife, set of tools
  • Time
  • Universe
  • Vacuum, Viruses
  • Winds
  • Xenophobia
  • Yesterdays
  • Zoo

Yet, I must be fair in saying that the intent of the article appears to be an overview of the idea about trichotomization and not an actual effort to discuss it in a larger philosophical sense. However, once the survey was over with, I came to the realization that they involved ideas which were approximations of truth... or an attempt to provide some measurable step to uncovered some realization that may be singularly applied or an attempt to provide some notion of having a Universal application. Nonetheless, from where I am sitting they are very subjective and do not customarily provide any real proof except that which is based either on the reputation of an author or the author's ability to be persuasive in getting others to believe what they are saying is true.

The table of Trichotomic ideas found on the Wikipedia page have been reassembled into a fashion which prefaces the recurrence of "3s". I have left the information alone for the most part, but added a few items here and there. The following is a smaller image of the contents, while here is a pdf: Chart of philosophical Trichotomies

Small image view of ideas referenced as trichotomies

Such approximations of truth as displayed in the foregoing list, necessarily forces me to reference the authors as "Approximationist Philosophers", whereas a counter-part, whose trichotomies are based on a greater substantiality of fact can be termed "Proximationist Philosophers". This is not to say that such ideas are absolute in truth, but they are thought to have less subjectivity attached to them. A Third category of Philosopher advancing an attempted greater level of substantiation of proof might well be termed an "Oximationist Philosopher", if I may be allowed to coin a term based on the notion of oxidation where there is an increase in oxygen out of which has occurred a more complex life forms (biologically speaking). And with this complex life development has arisen a sentient being called humans, with a sometimes passionate (intentional), sometime picnic (non-intentional) and at other times a past-time (Hobbyist) approach to acquiring a higher consciousness. Hence, I have chosen the term "oximationist" as the third type of Philosophical orientation, giving us the three-part sequence of: Approximationist Philosophers → Proximationist Philosophers → Oximationist Philosophers, though the inclination of a given reader might prefer to accommodate their sensibilities with some other developmentally progressive trio.

The situation reminds me of the shell game used to describe energy levels where reaching a higher energy state that is not sustainable because it is unstable, and ultimately requires the need for positioning at a lower level. If we view the three types of philosophy situation here-in described, then the "oximation" being sought for as a stable realization is short-lived most often, because the philosophy attached thereto is incorrect for either a given person or a given situation. Like a person being a genius or having talent, and yet in the wrong environment or having the wrong elements at their disposal to work with. For example, a person being a gifted musician but having been brought up win a Rock and Roll environment though their genius is better equipped for a classical music disposition of application. Or a mathematician in the wrong branch of mathematic, or someone who is with the wrong person as a couple, thus keeping them from being able to adequately explore the necessary dimension(s) of experience to achieve their greatest potential within the limits of the era in which they live. No doubt the reader might well offer their own examples by seeing such a situation in their own life, or the life of someone they have observed and would like to have a means to assist them.

But let me make it clear that each of the three at some time or another play the came of trade (like trading baseball cards), overlap (ganging up on some idea thought to be a bully), and the solitary figure some come to view as a stroke of genius, originality, stubbornness, etc... I say this because in the forthcoming list you may say that one or another item could or should be referenced in one, two or all three columns. Whereas in some cases a particular author will say one thing and then in some other context say something that appears to contradict what they said earlier, this may not be the case, if the author is using the same words to be interpreted differently in different contexts. The old adage that "one picture is worth a thousand words" is respectively altered to read "one word is worth a thousand pictures", depending on the level of creativity a given person comes to be identified with. Whereas they are using the same colors and scene, the brush strokes of meaning are altered by a change of labels or emphasis being pointed out with the same words. However, all to often such creative thinkers fail to inform the reader what vantage point is required to best view the scene that has not itself changed in words, but you are expected to automatically adjust your vantage point in order to appreciate the scene now being displayed with a different title... if a different title is indeed changed.

More succinctly put, a philosopher... or any writer, mathematician, singer, actor/actress, dancer, mechanic, chef, baker, teacher, field researcher, race car driver, police detective, etc., can at one time sound the Approximationist, and then another a Proximationist, and then at still another time be an Oximationist in their thinking and/or behaviour, whether or not they personally describe themselves as having a preferentially particular orientation. Nonetheless, the idea about three different types of philosophers placed under the three presented headings can be more easily understood as a means of describing a progressive development in thinking. And whether or not you believe in the idea of a "higher consciousness", the notion of a progressive consciousness can be understood in developmental terms. If the human type of consciousness is the highest model to develop, then humans will necessarily chose one or more qualities which define that which is above, beyond... more than the norm.

An oximationist views the Approximationist's position as mere conversational and the Proximationist's position as a directed (mis-directed?) attempt to create a means to test the validity of the conversationalist's content. While an Oximationist wonder's if that being discussed and that being tested are little more than socially influenced distractions from more important criteria.

(Such is the making of a new Psychological theory to be an applied Therapy, though at present the idea is in its fledgling stages and remains rather crude, if not cryptic and unintelligible to those who are deeply invested in other approaches counseling. Simplistically put, a person being counseled needs to be directed along a course of perception which helps them get their head out of the game they are playing, and may have a firmly established position in which they are perched and create problems for themselves and perhaps others. Their's is an old game that has been discontinued due to a lack of interest, funding, and territorial occupancy in which the game can be played. It is the tactic already in use in different forms and formulas by businesses, governments and religions. Metaphorically speaking, persons being counseled need to be led to a new watering hole. The old adage of being able to lead a horse to water but not being able to make them drink is only part of the view which needs to be enlarged to include that if the horse isn't thirsty then and there, it will eventually be... by its own natural course... whereby it will imbibe, so long as there are no apparent dangers or immoral comprises to make.)

Present Phenomenology has gotten itself caught up in too many intellectual parlour games reminiscent of the old 19th and early 20th century distractions involving exploited séance-guided Spiritualism, use of Nitrous oxide, tincture of alcohol/opium, two-mirrored kaleidoscope; out of which an industry of nonsense has emerged and providing some with a wardrobe of ideas never to be worn, but enabling some to pull them out of a hat closet as a rebuttal to any perceived inclementing social weather pattern in which they may play a part as some pseudo-thunder god; which is a god most prominent in many ancient religions.

As an analogy to the present state of overall Philosophy: If a priest walks into someone's home and says they bless the occupants and the house, and then a Witch doctor arrives afterwards and says they curse the occupants and the dwelling; the historically-related presence of an ongoing receptive inclination-towards-superstition in the mind of many people might well place more influence on the Witch doctor than the Priest, or give them equal bidding and thus create the idea of a "competing battle-ground"

... Many people can be easily desensitized from giving a representative from any so-called "good" religion (or "good" philosophy with its presently enculterated notions of good, rational and logical), and thus give more power to a presumed evil (or bad, irrational, illogical) belief.) The safeguards used in present the present society of overall humanity has resulted in the development of multiple institutional types of responses against medical, mental, social issues... resulting in a presumed rational and logical Proximationist State of Being as the foremost authority, with few instances of an Oximationist's position ever being realized... much less practiced. One reason for this is the ongoing incremental deterioration of the planet which humans and all other life forms are intimately attached to, and thus, like a vulnerable infant attached with an umbilical cord, are connected the Earth's changing expenditures, wastes and losses in resources (none of which are truly renewable... and some are actually irreversibly mortalized... or otherwise there would be no need of any form of Conservation); and let us not forget oxygen pollutants, soil contaminants, energy swings, electro-magnetic fluctuations, misunderstood vibrational currencies and undercurrents, changes in rotation rate, lunar recession, solar irradiation perturbations, galactic ripples of time and space, etc... And even though most people are not even wistfully aware of such, they are nonetheless being affected and can cause external undulations themselves.

Yet, for the moment, let me describe the differences I view as being related to the three types of philosophical positions by using a common, everyday example no doubt some readers have themselves encountered:

  1. Approximationists: Armchair/Porch-swing philosophers (Observationist's commentary)
    1. Example statement: I'm going to buy a new car.
  2. Proximationists: Laboratory/Research chair philosophers (Theoretician's response to commentary)
    1. Example response to statement: I would like to see that!
  3. Oximationists: Peripatetic philosophers (Beyond Observational, Theoretical, and present Testing models of commentary)
    1. Example overview of statement and response: Do you have enough money, or are you borrowing it, or getting a loan?
      • (Is the commentary valid? Is the test valid? Can the overall situation be improved or should it be dismissed because of invalidity?)

Similarly, we see an attempted version of this in the application of therapeutic psycho-dynamics referred to as the Child- Parent- Adult situations. In other words, Philosophy itself has not been subjected to the type of analysis needed to fully establish it as a stand-alone science; though previous attempts by those advocating a Phenomenology always say they will create one but never achieve a full fruition thereof. In a sense, Phenomenologists, like so many other types of philosophers, have been and remain Approximationists, with a few venturing into the domain of trying to be a Proximationist. Whereas some have even expressed the insight of an Oximationist, nothing has become of their views to the extent of inciting the development of a needed Renaissance in Phenomenology, though its initial idea presented humanity with the promise of such an occurrence will take place, but has remained as being little more than a myth, a legend, a fairytale... albeit recited by those with honest and sincere intentions.

All previous attempts have fallen short of the task, and in some instances has been taken over by very persuasive individuals whose views are more of a distraction than an assistance; such as for example those who pair the words "Phenomenology" and "Transcendence" which are a sincere attempt to create a better Phenomenology and enhanced idea of Transcendence by developing a partnership... a collaboration that is presumed to be more useful but still remains mostly in an Approximationist's camp- and play-grounds; because the present tools (ancient sextants, sundials, and compasses) of philosophical exploration beyond these two sandboxes will get them lost. While many of those who cling to the old perspectives of philosophy will have their excuses, argumentative rationalizations and tenured distrust of anything new, this 3rd sandbox awaits a new generation of philosophers wanting to blaze a new trail into a very promising territory of exploration. It is the call of the wild, the beat of a distant drum, the allure of a faintly wafted scent which so deeply captures the imagination a true blazer of trails can not resist it... because it touches deep within the core of those whose name is being called to meet the challenge of beginning a New Age in Philosophy from which no other subject will go unmeasured by and be fitted with a new set of garments suitable for their tasks to be... the further advanced.

The following are an intended wide range of examples, some of which the reader may reject and prefer some other perspective, but the purpose is served if you begin thinking in such basic distinctions:

Approximationist Philosophers (.) Proximationist Philosophers (!) Oximationist Philosophers (?)
(Pursuing verification of Transcendence)
  1. This statement is true.
  2. This statement is false.
  3. This statement is both true and false.
  1. Empiricism (observation). -
  2. Rationalism (reason and theory). -
  3. Phenomenology (thought experimentation to define actual truth).
  1. Public conversation in a crowd.
  2. Public conversation in a classroom.
  3. Public conversation in an elevator.
  1. The basic statement is a verification of itself!
  2. The basic statement can be proved incorrect!
  3. The basic statement can be proved correct and incorrect!
  1. Hypothesis! -
  2. Experiment! -
  3. Fact!
  1. Public conversation privately discussed!
  2. Private conversation with a confidante!
  3. Confidential conversation (such as in a laboratory)!
    1. Statement made, statement verified, where to now? More of the same?
    2. Statement made, statement verified, where to now? More of the same?
    3. Statement made, statement verified, where to now? More of the same?
    1. We have many PhDs with a Bachelor's mentality -
    2. A few PhDs with a Masters mentality -
    3. Yet no PhDs with a PhD mentality?
    1. Are you talking just to talk?
    2. Are you talking to analyze a topic?
    3. Are you talking to describe all analysis?
  1. Ideas are arranged singularly. (and/or) dualistically. (and/or) trichotomously.
  2. Witches and Witchcraft are real and evil.
  3. We provide 2 or 3 options of what to learn.
  4. We place 2 or 3 bets at the beginning of a race.
  5. We purchase the occasional lottery ticket.
  6. We are believers, we therefore pay tithing.
  7. The Earth is Mother.
  8. The mentally playful child.
  9. The Id or subconsciousness.
  10. The basic or Reptilian orientation.
  11. She loves me, She loves me not.
  12. Lower class - Middle class- Upper class
  13. The suggestive sentence with a period.
  14. Author - Title - Subject.
  15. Major premise- Minor premise- Conclusion
  16. The One - The two - The Many.
  17. Body - Mind - Spirit.
  1. Ideas are to be arranged rationally! realistically! logically!
  2. If an accused person survives the dunking test, they are guilty!
  3. We encourage you to take our suggestions!
  4. We want to insure our bets pay off!
  5. We write the Algorithm for the lottery!
  6. The Church determines the tithing standard!
  7. The Earth is a planet!
  8. The mentally serious parent!
  9. The Ego or consciousness!
  10. The higher or Mammalian orientation!
  11. Love is a state of physiology and mind.
  12. Communism - Democracy - Socialism!
  13. The definitive sentence with an exclamation!
  14. Fantasy books - Religious books - Books with facts!
  15. Earth is the 3rd planet!
  16. Atoms have Protons - Neutrons - Electrons!
  17. DNA has (an almost universal) triplet code!
  1. Ideas are arranged to serve environmentally influenced physiological dispositions?
  2. Irrationality serves to justify itself by its own logic.
  3. Have you even learned how to decide?
  4. So, winning and losing are most important, but how you play the game doesn't matter?
  5. The lottery is rigged to serve those running and supporting it?
  6. Like taxes, tithing hurts most those who have less to give?
  7. Let us cut the umbilical cord to Earth?
  8. The open-minded adult?
  9. The Super-ego or "Other"-consciousness?
  10. The hoped for orientation being sought after?
  11. So where to now in your relationship?
  12. What lays beyond all social theories?
  13. The eliciting sentence with a question?
  14. Books for fun - Books for profit- Books for development?
  15. Learning has bred more knowledge?
  16. Diligence has produced bad, good, great results?
  17. All Religions & Philosophies falsify claims of "the" path...?
  1. Sub-consciousness -
  2. Consciousness -
  3. Higher consciousness.
  1. Philosophy is our sub-Consciousness! -
  2. Science is our Consciousness! -
  3. Mathematics is our Higher consciousness!
  1. How do we identify a Higher Consciousness?
  2. How do we identify a Higher, Superior Consciousness?
  3. How do we identify a Higher, Superior, Ultra- Consciousness?
  1. Sub-human - Human- God.
  2. Dumb - Smart - Genius.
  3. Genius "flow": Challenge - Timelessness - Oneness.
  4. Many are talented, Too few are gifted, One true genius is rare.
  5. Nature worship → King/Queen worship → One-god worship.
  1. I had a Religious Experience.
  2. I had an out-of-body Experience.
  3. I had a higher consciousness Experience.
  1. Animals - Hominids - Universe (presumptive)!
  2. Einstein, Davinci, were Geniuses.
  3. Genius "pond": Champion - Centeredness - Accomplishment!
  4. Chemistry - Physiology - Psychology!
  5. Mathematics is Queen. Philosophy is Queen. Science is Queen!
  1. Let us give you a physical and mental competency test!
  2. We must rule out the obvious distortions!
  3. Your must be tested for its validity!
  1. As human limitations are reached, what then?
  2. Human genius is a stepping stone to that we seek beyond?
  3. Genius "Ocean": Is humanity a beginning, middle or end?
  4. Earth's deteriorating environment is causing too many false ideas?
  5. Royalty without humility is arrogance?
  1. And what have you learned from your Experience?
  2. Can you go beyond it?
  3. Is the Experience real or due to a vivid imagination?

Note that the Oximationist must rely upon the views of the other two in an attempt to reach a higher state of being.

Interesting, while looking up the Great Oxygen Event scenario, I came across the referencing of "three atmospheres":

nasa image of nebula

First Atmosphere: Totally Nebular

  • Hydrogen (H2)
  • Helium (He)

Immediately following Earth's formation, its atmospheric gases probably mirrored which elements are most abundant in the universe. Hydrogen, followed by helium, are by far the most common elements in the universe—and they're also the smallest. Helium and hydrogen are very light and they move rapidly when heated; powered by solar winds and perhaps the primordial Earth's own searing heat, hydrogen and helium escaped Earth's gravity. Much of it ended up at the edges of our solar system, gathered in Gas Giants like Jupiter.


earth's magneto-shpere illustrated by NASA

Earth's metallic liquid outer core spins around its metallic solid inner core, generating an immense magnetic field that envelops the Earth and shields it from deadly solar winds. The magneto-sphere is made possible by Earth's differentiation—that is, its distinct layers; immediately after the early formed 4.5 billion years ago, the layers were poorly developed and so the magnetosphere was extremely weak. The fledgling magneto-sphere allowed solar winds to strip away the hydrogen and helium. Even after Earth had existed for a billion years (3.5 bya), the magneto-sphere was still only half as strong as it is today.

Earth's robust magneto-sphere is crucial to preserving our modern atmosphere. Without its heroic efforts, our precious oxygen would probably be blasted away—and as for us, we would be left to bake under a constant barrage of brutal solar winds.

Second Atmosphere: Volcanoes' Breath

  • Water vapor (H2O)
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
illustrated idea of what the early earth may have looked like

After most of the hydrogen and helium blew away, what took over? Based on igneous and metamorphic deposits and reconstructions of Earth's internal temperature, we know that the early Earth was very hot and volcanically active, much more than today. Early Earth was so hot because of accretional heating; it had just formed from thousands of asteroids colliding together, and their kinetic energy transformed into heat. We also know from studying modern eruptions that volcanoes release a lot of gases (a process called volcanic outgassing), mostly likely the same kinds that ancient volcanoes expelled.

Volcanoes release different gases depending on the type of volcano (hot spot vs. subduction, for example) and the eruption temperature. However, almost without fail, the dominant gases, in order, are water, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Small amounts of other gases, like carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen (N2), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen chloride (HCl),and methane (CH4) also make regular appearances. With this information, we can use gases from modern volcanoes to infer what the early Earth looked like; with a haze of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide and with no free oxygen, it didn't look too friendly for mammals.

Although it makes intuitive sense to modern volcanic gases to reconstruct the ancient atmosphere, we can further confirm the approach's validity by calculating mass balances of volatiles. Atmospheric gases interact with the environment, so we can:

  1. Calculate the amounts of volcanic gases that are dissolved into modern surface reservoir.
  2. Calculate the pressures that these oxides would exert in gas form.
  3. Calculate what percent of the total pressure each oxide represents.
  4. Compare the calculated percents with the composition of gases released by volcanoes.

table referencing various gas compositions

As you can see, the composition of modern volcanic gases matches nicely with our calculations for of ancient atmosphere.

The Fate of Volcanic Gases

formation of oceans by volcanic outgassing of water

How do we go from an ancient atmosphere of mostly water and carbon dioxide to a modern atmosphere that has little of each? How did nitrogen, which amounts to less than one percent of volcanic gas, come to constitute a majority of our atmosphere?

The Losers

  • As the Earth cooled, H2O vapor condensed into liquid, developing oceans.
  • As oceans developed, CO2 and HCl dissolved into the ocean (and still do).
  • NH3 was (and is) broken down by sunlight into N2 and H2.
  • SO2 was (and is) recycled into the mantle.

The Winners: Nitrogen

  • N2 stayed in the atmosphere!

Nitrogen prefers to stay in gas form, does not react with common Earth materials, and is stable in the presence of solar radiation, so nitrogen gas accumulated until it became the most abundant gas in the atmosphere.

Third Atmosphere: The Great Oxygenation Event

the present day atmosphere of earth

Modern Atmosphere

  • Nitrogen (N2): 78%
  • Oxygen (O2): 21%
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): 0.04%
  • Water vapor (H2O): 0-4%

Between 2.3-2.5 billion years ago, the Great Oxygenation Event saw atmospheric levels of oxygen rise dramatically. Photosynthesis and tectonics had colluded to make conditions just right for the production and accumulation of free oxygen.

By the Phanerozoic (542 million years ago), oxygen reached modern levels with the help of a new evolutionary invention—land plants. Over the past 500 million years, oxygen levels have fluctuated up and down, hitting a high of 35% in the Carboniferous; today they stand at 21%.


The earliest photosynthetic organisms we know of are the cyanobacteria that left behind stromatolites as monuments to their planet-changing work. The oldest discovered stromatolites are 3.5 billion years old. Cyanobacteria build stromatolites by sticking sediments together to create a protective mat. Cyanobacteria need sunlight in order to photosynthesize, so when the overlying mat gets too thick, they move to the top and the cycle repeats, generating layered structures as the mats stack on top of each other. Stromatolites are still forming today in shallow, calm waters in Yucatan, the Bahamas, and Australia.

Stromatolite formation and fossilization

Whereas those who preference an interest in "threes" may welcome the foregoing script of the Great Oxygen Event, they should not overlook that with many reports advancing a presumed Science theme, what they encounter sometimes is a "best or educated guesstimation". In other words, it is an Approximation. Mixed with facts are approximations... and is a routine that Creationists or Intelligent design aficionados typically use.

The reason for pointing out the presence in different types of formative philosophies is that while a person may view themselves (or be viewed by others as) a Trichotomist philosopher, irrespective of the term they may prefer (triadist, triuneist, etc...), as a means of distinguishing themselves for those referencing themselves as a dualist, dichotomize, etc., is to reference how very many serious undertaking in philosophy amount to little more than the work of an Approximatist Philosopher, that we might further reference as a guesser... with some guessing better than others. And this includes those who think of themselves as pragmatists or rationalists or someone who thinks of themselves as dealing with what they assign as common sense. All of them are engaging in different measures or Approximation... again with some being able to guess better than others.

No less, let us take for example those who stress the importance of assuring themselves of the truth by a standard of research based on some value of empirical (testing) propriety. Because it is widely understood that test taking and test administering can be rigged to acquire a certain outcome, much in the manner of a casino fixing games or system of lottery to ensure it wins most of the time; not to mention the fashioning of laws and beliefs so that those in authority can maintain a large measure of control or subsistence reward. Science, like religion, business, government and Academic standing, are all high stakes games, whether a given individual wants to name them a game or not.

Let's look at some definitions (and associated commentary) to give the reader a point of reference in case they have no previous introduction to such ideas, or have forgotten them from a previous encounter years ago:

Rationalism is the philosophical view that regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge. Holding that reality itself has an inherently logical structure, the rationalist asserts that a class of truths exists that the intellect can grasp directly. There are, according to the rationalists, certain rational principles—especially in logic and mathematics, and even in ethics and metaphysics—that are so fundamental that to deny them is to fall into contradiction. The rationalist's confidence in reason and proof tends, therefore, to detract from his respect for other ways of knowing.

Rationalism has long been the rival of empiricism, the doctrine that all knowledge comes from, and must be tested by, sense experience. As against this doctrine, rationalism holds reason to be a faculty that can lay hold of truths beyond the reach of sense perception, both in certainty and generality. In stressing the existence of a "natural light," rationalism has also been the rival of systems claiming esoteric knowledge, whether from mystical experience, revelation, or intuition, and has been opposed to various irrationalisms that tend to stress the biological, the emotional or volitional, the unconscious, or the existential at the expense of the rational.

One of the most formidable challenges to rationalism came in the 20th century from such logical positivists as the Oxford empiricist A.J. Ayer (1910–89) and Rudolf Carnap (1891–1970), who had been a central figure in the Vienna Circle, where this movement first arose. Unlike Mill, they accepted a priori knowledge as certain; but they laid down a new challenge—the denial of its philosophical importance. A priori propositions, they said, are (1) linguistic, (2) conventional, and (3) analytic: (1) They are statements primarily of how one proposes to use words; if one says that "a straight line is the shortest line between two points," this merely reports one's definition of "straight" and declares one's purpose to use it only of the shortest. (2) Being a definition, such a statement expresses a convention to which there are alternatives; it may be defined in terms of the paths of light rays if one chooses. (3) The statement is analytic in that it merely repeats in its predicate a part or the whole of the subject term and hence tells nothing new; it is not a statement about nature but about meanings only. And since rationalistic systems depend throughout upon statements of this kind, their importance is illusory.

To this clear challenge some leading rationalists have replied as follows: (1) positivists have confused real with verbal definition. A verbal definition does indeed state what a word means; but a real definition states what an object is, and the thought of a straight line is the thought of an object, not of words. (2) The positivists have confused conventions in thought with conventions in language. One is free to vary the language in which a proposition is expressed but not the proposition itself. Start with the concept of a straight line, and there is no alternative to accepting it as the shortest. (3) Some a priori statements are admittedly analytic, but many are not. In "whatever is coloured is extended," colour and extension are two different concepts of which the first entails the second but is not identical with it in whole or part. Contemporary rationalists therefore hold that the a priori has emerged victorious from the empiricists' efforts to discredit such knowledge and the positivists' attempts to trivialize it. (("rationalism." Encyclopædia Britannica, 2013.))

Empiricism, in philosophy, (is) the view that all concepts originate in experience, that all concepts are about or applicable to things that can be experienced, or that all rationally acceptable beliefs or propositions are justifiable or knowable only through experience. This broad definition accords with the derivation of the term empiricism from the ancient Greek word empeiria, "experience."

Concepts are said to be "a posteriori" (Latin: "from the latter") if they can be applied only on the basis of experience, and they are called "a priori" ("from the former") if they can be applied independently of experience. Beliefs or propositions are said to be a posteriori if they are knowable only on the basis of experience and a priori if they are knowable independently of experience. Thus, according to the second and third definitions of empiricism above, empiricism is the view that all concepts, or all rationally acceptable beliefs or propositions, are a posteriori rather than a priori. ("empiricism." Encyclopædia Britannica, 2013.)

Logical positivism and logical empiricism

A first generation of 20th-century Viennese positivists began its activities, strongly influenced by Mach, around 1907. Notable among them were a physicist, Philipp Frank, mathematicians Hans Hahn and Richard von Mises, and an economist and sociologist, Otto Neurath. This small group was also active during the 1920s in the Vienna Circle of logical positivists, a seminal discussion group of gifted scientists and philosophers that met regularly in Vienna, and in the related Berlin Society for Empirical Philosophy. These two schools of thought, destined to develop into an almost worldwide and controversial movement, were built on the empiricism of Hume, on the positivism of Comte, and on the philosophy of science of Mach. Equally important influences came from several eminent figures who were at the same time scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers—G.F. Bernhard Riemann, the author of a non-Euclidean geometry; Hermann von Helmholtz, a pioneer in a broad range of scientific studies; Heinrich Hertz, the first to produce electromagnetic waves in his laboratory; Ludwig Boltzmann, a researcher in statistical mechanics; Henri Poincaré, equally eminent in mathematics and philosophy of science; and David Hilbert, distinguished for his formalizing of mathematics. Most significant, however, was the impact of Einstein, as well as that of the three great mathematical logicians of the late-19th and early-20th centuries—the ground-breaking German Gottlob Frege and the authors of the monumental Principia Mathematica (1910–13), Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead.

The basic ideas of logical positivism were roughly as follows: the genuine task of philosophy is to clarify the meanings of basic concepts and assertions (especially those of science)—and not to attempt to answer unanswerable questions such as those regarding the nature of ultimate reality or of the Absolute. Inasmuch as an extremely ambitious Hegelian type of metaphysics, idealistic and absolutist in orientation, was still prevalent in the German-speaking countries, there were many who believed that the antidote was urgently needed. Moreover, the logical positivists also had only contempt and ridicule for the ideas of the German existentialist Martin Heidegger, whose interminable torment regarding such questions as "Why is there anything at all?" and "Why is what there is, the way it is?" and especially his pronouncements about Nothingness seemed to them to be not only sterile but so confused as to be nonsensical. The logical positivists viewed metaphysics as a hopelessly futile way of trying to do what great art, and especially poetry and music, already do so effectively and successfully. These activities, they held, are expressions of visions, feelings, and emotions and, as such, are perfectly legitimate as long as they make no claims to genuine cognition or representation of reality. What logical positivism recommended positively, on the other hand, was a logic and methodology of the basic assumptions and of the validation procedures of knowledge and of evaluation.

An adequate understanding of the functions of language and of the various types of meaning is another of the fundamentally important contributions of the logical positivists. Communication and language serve many diverse purposes: one is the representation of facts, or of the regularities in nature and society; another is the conveying of imagery, the expression and arousal of emotions; a third is the triggering, guidance, or modification of actions. Thus, they distinguished cognitive-factual meaning from expressive and evocative (or emotive) significance in words and sentences. It was granted that, in most utterances of everyday life (and even of science), these two types of meaning are combined or fused. What the logical positivists insisted upon, however, was that the emotive type of expression and appeal should not be mistaken for one having genuinely cognitive meanings. In such expressions as moral imperatives, admonitions, and exhortations there is, of course, a factually significant core—viz., regarding the (likely) consequences of various actions. But the normative element—expressed by such words as "ought," "should," "right," and their negations (as in "Thou shalt not….")—is by itself not cognitively meaningful but has primarily emotional and motivative significance. ("positivism." Encyclopædia Britannica, 2013.)

If you're like me, you see flaws in all the assumptions about what amounts to is a "better philosophy". Like having to rummage though one's kitchen drawer, tool box, tackle (fishing box), toy box, closet, glove-box, salvage yard, etc, in order to find the correct items or useful substitute, that how I look at all subjects, including the different schools of philosophical thought. Quite often I find nothing but junk. It's not that I don't understand a given writer on a given topic, it's just that I understand the content better than then do. Experts are not always as smart as you expect them to be.

I have several religious friends who claim I just don't understand their spirituality. However instead of arguing with them, I simply agree even though I know all too well what they are describing. You simply have to have a certain frame of mind in order to blindly accept what they believe in but I can't. I simply say I don't understand and praise them for their (presumed) spirituality and that perhaps one day I will be able to be as blessed as they themselves are for their ability to receive their spirit. I do so because I fully understand why they feel what they do. Just like I understand the perspectives of Jesus, Mohammed, The Buddha, Laozi, Gandhi, and multiple other noted conveyors of a given truth... from their perspectives. But just because I think I understand them doesn't mean I want to be like them or join in those groups who praise them. I said I understand them, I don't necessarily agree with them. No less, it is quite simple to understand why people once believed desperately in the existence of witches and demons. And yet such understanding can make you look very strange to those who appreciations are singularly focused. If they don't dismiss you as some irrelevance, then they may attack you in one way or another if they feel you are a threat or view you as being vulnerable enough to make a name for yourself; which is adolescentally typical of those who want to beat someone down in an attempt to build themselves up.

Philosophy is easy to understand when you frame it as a method of guessing. And yet, in all the different types of guessing, regardless of subject, I find recurring patterns of thought... one of which is described as trichotomization. While some are quick to say there are other patterns, I will agree. Yet, there remains only a few basic patterns being used. Some of those patterns are generated by guesswork which may become an established belief, and others are the result of more intensified efforts of establishing their factuality to the extent they may later be viewed as a Natural law.

It is of need to ask whether the creation of threes (or other patterned) ideas is increasing simple due to a global population increase, or because of a change in human conceptualization which requires the need for such? Also, when then are some many patterns representative of guess-work and not experimentally verified? Do we simply prefer guesses or is this the overall standard functionality of human brain processing? In this sense, it matters not how many different examples of threes, or fours, or sevens, or ones, etc., I gather together, unless I am also cognizant of those which are factual and those that are mere part of a global guessing game; some of which are adopted as beliefs with millions of followers. Hence, I am moving away from the typical "Approximationist" model of philosopher into a "Proximationist" one, with no past or present day school of philosophy providing an adequate primer thereof.

Date of Origination: Monday, 16th January 2023... 6:11 AM
Date of Initial Posting:Thursday, 19th January 2023... 10:51 AM
Update Posting: Friday, 27th January 2023... 10:39 AM