3. The Multidimensional World
of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
• Giles: You really have no idea what's going on,
do you? You think it's coincidence, your being
here? That boy was just the beginning.
Buffy: Oh, why can't you people just leave me
Giles: Because you are the Slayer. (comes
down the stairs) Into each generation a Slayer
is born, one girl in all the world, a Chosen
One, one born with the strength and skill to
hunt the vampires...
• Buffy: (interrupts and joins in) ...with the
strength and skill to hunt the vampires, to
stop the spread of their evil blah, blah, blah...
I've heard it, okay?
Giles: I really don't understand this attitude.
You, you've accepted your duty, you, you've
slain vampires before...
Buffy: Yeah, and I've both been there and
done that, and I'm moving on.
• Giles: A, a Slayer slays, a Watcher...
Giles: Yes. No! (sets down the books) He, he
trains her, he, he, he prepares her...
Buffy: Prepares me for what? For getting
kicked out of school? For losing all of my
friends? For having to spend all of my time
fighting for my life and never getting to tell
anyone because I might endanger
them? Go ahead! Prepare me.
• Begin with contradiction of Duty and Desire
• What is the nature of reality that this
experience implies or suggests?
• 1) “Duty” without desire: Angels
– Angels cannot be happy (including “Angel”)
• 2) Desire without duty: Vampires and demons
– Spike’s Christmas for Vampires
• 3) Duty and desire: Humans
– Buffy wants to renounce her duty, but changes her mind
– Implies a choice: free will
What are Vampires?
• Beings that live from the life-blood of human
• It’s the realization of a basic desire
– No sense of guilt, of a contrary duty to respect
– it’s their nature
• They are intelligent desiring beings
– Their minds are focused on satisfying their desires
– i.e., they are totally self-interested, pure egotists
Possibility of morality
• The “appearance” for science is deterministic
• but in reality we could be free, undetermined.
• Hence, morality is possible
• Science: about appearances
– Our human ways of experiencing reality
• Morality: connected to beliefs, thinking about
reality beyond appearances in connection
with acting in the world.
Postulate of freedom
• We cannot know that we are free.
• But we can believe it, without contradicting
• Kant “It is necessary to criticize knowledge in
order to make room for faith.”
• First postulate: freedom (free will)
– Other postulates: God and Immortality, but
understood in terms of inner experience of duty
Two problems that wake Kant from his
• 1) Problem for morality:
– If science is true, morality is impossible.
• 2) Problem for science
– If empiricism is true, science, as knowledge of
universal and necessary laws, is impossible.
Science and morality
• Morality presupposes free will
• Scientific knowledge is based on deterministic
– substance-accident (objects with properties)
– cause-effect (determinism)
• If this is objectively true of the way the world
is, morality is impossible
Hume’s empiricism: woke Kant from
his “dogmatic slumber”
• All empirical (synthetic) knowledge gives particular A
posteriori generalizations: Some swans are white
– All swans I/we have observed are white
– But there could be black swans
• No empirical knowledge is “universal and necessary”
• Only analytic truths are such: all bachelors are
unmarried men; 3 + 4 = 7. A priori truth
Universality and necessity of scientific
• But scientific laws should be universal
– Newton’s first law: “Every body continues in its
state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right line,
unless it is compelled to change that state by
forces impressed upon it.”
– Law of gravity: All objects attract each other in
direct proportion to their mass and in inverse
proportion to the square of their distance apart.
• However, such would be universal laws cannot be
justified by empiricist theory of knowledge
– As synthetic generalizations, they are like “all swans (that I
have seen) are white”
• “All triangles have three sides” = analytic
truth, a priori
– Definition of term
• “The square of the hypotenuse of a right
triangle = sum of squares of sides”
• Analytic or synthetic truth?
– Does it only apply to some right triangles, those I
have measured so far?
A priori synthetic truths
• It’s an empirical discovery that took thousands
of years—so synthetic truth, not a matter of
• But it is absurd to say that further empirical
investigation will uncover right triangles for
which it is untrue
• Hence: it is a universal and necessary
synthetic truth that is true “a priori”
– 1) analytic and synthetic
– 2) a priori and a posteriori
• 3) Kant: a priori synthetic knowledge
Kant’s Copernican Revolution in
• Previous (empiricist) epistemology based on
theory of reflection or abstraction from object
• Truth is the adequation of intellect to things.
• Hume shows that universal and necessary
scientific laws are impossible on this basis
• So let’s try reversing the approach
Traditional and empiricist theory of
Kant’s Copernican revolution in
Subject Object (Reality)
Copernicus and epistemology
• The sun goes around the earth
• Based on old epistemology: from object to
• But the subject is moving, and this motion
gives rise to the appearance of the sun going
around the earth.
• The object as perceived is relative to the
movement, activity or perspective of the
Experience is a combination
• Reality as it is in itself is grasped by us according
to our ways of perceiving and knowing.
• Perception: forms of time and space
• Knowledge: forms of substance-accident, cause-
• Experience of objects-for-us is the result of two
– reality as it is in itself
– and the a priori organizing forms/categories of the
Why we will never find triangles that don’t follow law
• Triangles are not natural objects. Are there
any pure triangles in nature?
• We actively draw triangles according to a rule.
• An implication of this rule: Pythagoras’
• Wherever we go, all triangles will follow this
rule because it is the rule by which we make
• “Synthetic a priori” truth
Reality for us
• So all objects that we perceive are in time and
space because that is our rule of perception.
• All objects that we know are
– Independent substances (objects) with properties
– in causal relations
• Because that is our rule for experiencing objects.
• But beings that perceive differently, that know
according to other rules are possible.
• E.g., dogs, Martians
Reality in itself
• We cannot know this
– because knowing implies organizing experience
according to a priori rules.
• Our knowledge is about appearances, not
reality in itself.
• We can’t know but we can think about the
world in itself.
• > It could be multidimensional
Thinking about Reality
• Traditional religious views of Christianity,
Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism …
– Heavens: realms of bodiless beings
– Earth: body and soul, desire and duty
– Hells: realms of soulless beings
• Morality requires multidimensionality
– Duty does not arise out of sensuous experience of
desires and interests, but contradicts these
– Where then does the sense of duty come from?
Kant’s early cosmology
• Begin with a gaseous cloud made of
fundamental elements of different densities
• Heaviest densities attract each other most
– Gravitational attraction > centers of gravitation,
heating up of elements, explosion outward of
• > Series of galaxies or universes from densest
Spirit side of body-mind relation
• Begin in mental darkness, ignorance
• Appropriate bodies: dense universes of heavy
• As spirit evolves from ignorance to knowledge
lighter bodies are required: rebirth in higher,
• Kant: perhaps Jupiter, a gaseous planet, will be
the home of the next level of evolution
– Compare Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001”
• Human is reborn on a moon of Jupiter
– (Why is The Matrix set in 1999?)
Humans in the middle
• We are not completely governed by instincts,
• But neither are we wholly governed by truth
and higher duty
• We are somewhere in the middle of the
spectrum – striving to raise ourselves to
higher levels of being (by the power of duty)
Separation of time and space
• Different universes are separate in time and
• 1) Temporal evolution of higher beings.
• 2) Continual generation of earlier, denser
• 3) At a time of late evolution there would be a
spectrum of beings from dark and heavy,
“demonic,” to light, “angelic.”
Argument for immortality of the soul
• 1) There is a great range of possibility of
knowledge from ignorance to highest science
• 2) This is correlated to a range of practical
– from instinctive, passionate, unreflective,
– to activity governed by the highest understanding,
moral and aesthetic intelligence.
• 3) The soul, consciousness, has all these
possibilities within it.
• 4) To reach the higher possibility the soul must
go through the lower ones
– Phylogeny: evolution suggests that consciousness
doesn’t begin at a middle or high level, but at the
• like babies (eating and peeing)
– Ontogeny repeats phylogeny
• 5) In one lifetime, the soul goes through a very
limited span of its inherent potential
– Most adults usual reach some point above the
• 6) To realize its potential, the soul, the inner
principle of consciousness, should be
– This is Plato’s theory of reincarnation brought into
relation to modern science of cosmic evolution
– This is Kant’s third postulate of morality
From precritical to critical standpoint
• Kant’s early cosmology: “precritical” or
speculative metaphysical argument
• Supposes the great power of pure reason to
generate objective truth
• Kant later gives his “critique of pure reason.”
• Possibilities of reason are limited by empirical
data (Hume’s empiricism)
Implicit problem within Kant’s early
• Kant’s cosmology is the viewpoint of a human
“in the middle.”
• It is therefore affected by the way humans
• How can Kant’s cosmology be objectively
– E.g., it supposes that the way we humans think of
time and space is objectively true
– and yet argues that our knowledge is relative to
our place in the spectrum of evolution
Implications for Kant’s early cosmology
• Time and space are our human, middle-world
ways of organizing experience.
• We are limited to this world of human
• But other universes could exist
– Not merely as spatially separate as in Kant’s
– but simultaneously with our own dimension, as in
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Current physics on multidimensionality
• Problem of the Grand Unified Theory
– 4 forces: Electromagnetic, Weak, Strong, and Gravitational
– Gravity is exceptionally weak by comparison
– A multidimensional theory of gravity would account for this
relative weakness: String theory of 10 or 11 dimensions
– Place of our universe in larger scheme?
• Mechanism of influence between universes
(or dimensions): Quantum Mechanical
– Portal in basement of Sunnydale High
Two approaches in theory and modern
• 1) (Early modern) Scientific approach > causal
necessity regarding appearances
• 2) Moral approach > free will is possible in
3) But quantum mechanics? (Giles, in episode
re invisible girl)
Girl who is scorned or ignored by others becomes invisible
And then she gets her revenge on the bullies and elites
Reality is shaped/created by …
• Xander: “What, she turned invisible because
no one noticed her?”
• Giles “Of course! I’ve been investigating the
mystical causes of invisibility when I should
have looked at the quantum mechanical!
Physics. It’s a rudimentary concept that reality
is shaped, even created, by our perception.”
– Recall Morpheus on “reality”