An illustration of the finer points of multisense realism. The combination of monochrome, spectral color, multiple scales of halftone, and the nested lensing of scales suggest the primacy of sense.
For the materialist, dreams are nonsense. While the body rests, the brain performs housekeeping tasks which have the side effect of giving us hallucinations, and that’s it. If we want to know about consciousness, the materialist will say, we should study biology and evolution, not dreams.
The materialist’s view of consciousness is that is a marvelously complex way for an animal’s body to adapt its behavior and control its environment. Consciousness is about what we do to the world and what it does to us. Things like optical illusions and the placebo effect tell us that the brain’s mental products are flawed since they fail to render reality as it is, but often wished or feared to be. To understand anything about nature as it really is, we can only use empirical, formal, consensus-building methods to tease out golden flecks of truth from the raw ore of our personal guesses and opinions.
For the idealist* consciousness need not inhere to a context of physical survival. Consciousness is not only about what we’re trying to do in the world, but is instead the very fabric of all possible worlds. I personally suspect that this means that consciousness of all sorts is not only pervasive in the universe, but that the universe is actually nothing but the collection of all conscious experiences. If there is anything beyond all forms of conscious experience, it is by definition, indistinguishable from nothing at all (since awareness of some kind is required to make and appreciate distinctions).
In this view, consciousness is not only about the survival of certain special animals, but is the necessary feature of nature to present itself and to participate in that presentation. Just as we do not expect a dead body to have experiences, neither should we expect physics to be able to define itself or function in the absence of all experience.
In idealism, dreams present at least the possibility of a purer sample of human awareness than waking consciousness. Because the psyche is free from contamination of the outside world, dreams would be a kind of control for our thought experiments about consciousness. For the idealist, dreaming should be the true North of consciousness. As Freud and then Jung found, dreams are overflowing with deep symbols and information which transcend personal experience.
In practice, dreams may have contamination of their own, and materialists may be appalled at the idea of treating consciousness most useless and bizarre extremities as the foundation for understanding, but the idealist understands that facts are facts, and the fact is that when we close our eyes and relax, consciousness reveals itself as a spontaneous world-maker, and that is an important fact to begin with. When we withdraw from the physical world, the psyche does not just disappear, it also creates new worlds, and it seems to create them on the fly, instantaneously, without optical illusions or placebo effects.
From here, in the dreamworld, we can see that color need not be wavelengths, and images need not be representations of something physical in the world. In the context of the dream, idealism is the physical reality. Qualia is matter. Any argument about this is a misunderstanding about what the word qualia means (which is common for materialists who may not be able to conceive of images and sounds independently of neurology and physics). If you never wake up from the dream, you will never encounter any part of your own brain or body as it exists in physical reality.
Once we accept that, as Bernardo Kastrup has said, “Materialism is baloney.”, we can move on to the deeper questions of what the universe of qualia is really all about, and whether our own place in it as humans is central or not. This is actually the more interesting level of metaphysics than the perennial argument at the gate between materialists and idealists. I’m using the terms subjective idealist and transcendental idealist here, but there may already be philosophical terms that are used academically.
As a transcendental idealist (aka multisense realist), I’m pretty much on my own. The materialists hate my view because they see it as vile woo, and the traditional idealists think I’m confused because I don’t accept the primacy of subjectivity in generating qualia as a necessary truth (although it may be an empirical fact). The picture that I’m looking at is a scientific one, but larger than science. It is a quasi-theistic or ambi-theistic one, but larger than theism. I do not see this as strictly philosophy, but a potentially actionable view of nature, complete with applications for the future of technology and for the rehabilitation of (what remains of) society.
*and here I’m presenting my own view as the example, not necessarily the most common views…likewise, the materialism column applies to non-material reductionism like computational mind theories.
This article from Psychology Today, Hyper-Mentalism, Hyper-Empathizing, and Supernatural Belief, talks about the diametric model’s explanation of the psychotic end of the autistic-psychotic spectrum.
“To use an analogy, the diametric model implies that we live in parallel mentalistic and mechanistic universes, with mental causality ruling the first and physical causality the second. Religious, superstitious, and magical thinking clearly represent an encroachment of the mental world on the real one in the form of belief in divine creation, miracles, the power of prayers and spells, and so on. Indeed, as I pointed out in an earlier post, you could see traditional religion and superstition as the result of a primeval mentalistic inflation which hyper-mentalized the real world, in part because mechanistic understanding of it in the form of modern science, medicine, and technology had not had time to develop. Furthermore, you could also see this as the paradigmatic historical case of a “combination of strong mentalizing coupled with poor understanding of the physical world.”
The diametric model deserves more attention, in my view, however I think that the assumptions behind the model are themselves biased toward the systemizing/mechanistic end of the spectrum. Note the language in the quote above: “Religious, superstitious, and magical thinking clearly represent an encroachment of the mental world on the real one“. Highly subjective states are identified as being intrinsically unreal rather than being an extension of nature and reality. The end of that quote shows another good example of the mechanistic worldview, associating superstition with “poor understanding of the physical world.” I would not deny that there are many people who do suffer from a poor understanding of the physical world and compensate for that to some extent with magical thinking, however, that correlation does not always hold true. Many people, such as myself, embrace the physical world and have an excellent understanding of it, yet see that behind and beyond mechanistic appearances are also more subtle natural phenomena. It is not that the psychotic is poorly equipped for reality, it is more like reality poorly equipped to contain psychotic hyper-sensitivities. This is not to say that paranoid schizophrenics are right about the content of their delusions, only that the form of paranoid delusions reflect (in a distorted way) the transpersonal territory of the psyche.
In the short article linked above, the author makes the distinction between his diametric model and “Simon Baron-Cohen’s rival scheme, which has systemizing versus empathizing instead of the diametric model’s mechanistic versus mentalistic cognitive dualism”. Here again, the distinction between empathizing and mentalistic is itself a mechanizing/systemizing distinction. Both the diametric model and empathizing-systemizing model label the ‘feminine’ side in terms of a personal function. The former sees empathy as a cognitive skill, while the latter seems to suggest that it is overdeveloped empathy which interferes with the correct application of cognitive skills. In both cases, the bias of contemporary academic science shows through: Extraordinary awareness which conflicts with consensus reality is a defect.
This bias is not surprising, nor is it even a negative if we are trying to get a handle on human psychology for purposes of treatment. The problem that I see, is that it closes the door on the deeper dimensions of psyche and fails to take seriously the implications of consciousness transcending classical physics. Once we do take a scientifically objective look at these implications, I think that we wind up with a theory of order and participation in the universe which is not limited to human psychology but extends beyond physics, information science, philosophy, and religion: A new scientific cosmology based on sense phenomena.
Are Space and Time an Illusion? Considered in this video:
- 1. Give up your intuitions of how space and time work.
- 2. Facts about observers (particles are considered observers):
- a. observers disagree on how much time passes between events.
- b. observers disagree on how much space there is between things at any given moment.
- c. observers don’t fully agree on the chronological order of events.
- d. observations are consistent so that no observer can be ‘wrong’.
- 3. Spacetime is emergent from a deeper objective reality of causality.
- a. all observers agree on spacetime interval
- b. Spacetime intervals tell us about which causes influence which effects.
- c. Causality is more objectively real than spacetime.
- d. Spacetime is a tenseless, Non-Euclidean 4D mathematical Minkowski space.
- e. Our intuitions of space and time are arbitrary and abstract.
- f. We are real, however, if we think of our entire lives as a fixed geometric object in spacetime rather than a moving window on the line segment of our life:
- a. all observers agree on spacetime interval
He begins to sum up at 6:03
“Imagine we’re all reading a flip book made of graph paper. We agree on the events of the story, but we don’t agree where they happen on the page, on how many pages there are between events, or even on the order of some of those events, and yet we’re all reading the same book…only there’s no graph on the paper, there are no pages, and there is no book. All of that is just an imposition our brains make in order to perceive whatever it is. So why do we perceive reality in such a vividly spatial and temporal way? Good question, No one really knows.”
At this point is where I jump up and raise my hand. I think that I might know the answer to that question:
The mistake being made in our sophisticated rewrite of naive intuition about space and time is that the constancy of the spacetime interval is due to an objective ‘same book’ (or bookless book or whatever we are supposed all be reading.) To go to the next step into multisense realism, we must not only give up our intuitions about space and time being different, but we must give up our counter-intuitions about spacetime being literal.
If we consider instead that there is no final Minkowski block time universe out there, no ‘same book’, or even same language out there, but rather a shared capacity to read/write, in here, then both the naive intuition and sophisticated counter-intuition makes sense as perspectives within a larger context. Not just in human experience, or even within particles or probability laws, but deeper than that.
In this new schema all is read/written beyond spacetime but still ‘within’. Within us as well as ‘within’ every kind of non-human experience. This pervasive context ‘within all awareness’ would be an absolute context which is pervasive and devoid of any formal sense of distance or time. An anti-void. This absolute frame of reference can be understood as sense itself (something like “ference” rather than reference): Direct participation of perceptual qualities that need not be realistic, but also extend to phenomena which we are familiar with as fiction, imagination, myth, etc.
This is not to say that human imagination could necessarily describe the entire continuum of sense, but like the visible spectrum is to electromagnetism, it defines a range which is a thin slice of the whole, but much more than merely one color. The one ‘color’, call it white, would correspond to the single combined sense of timeless, spaceless realism that is studied under math and physics, but is nevertheless bereft of aesthetic qualities such as emotion, flavor, or (other) colors.
All that has ever been experienced can be seen, in this absolute frame of reference to be ‘right here and right now’, but for our local inhibitory conditions of human limitation. From our human perspective there is a cost in making awareness so immense that it embraces all other partitions; it becomes unreal or fictional, delusional, supernatural, absurd, or accidental*. The ‘heavens’ are not only causally closed at one level of awareness, but on another, they open up to non-linear, surreal mythscapes with no temporal rooting but deep symbolic meaning.
Jung spoke of the collective unconscious, Australian aborigines refer to a primordial Dreamtime, and many a psychedelic explorer have reported such aesthetically saturated realms. Anthropologists find that it is very common for cultures to assume that children are born into this world from a dreamier, more divine kind of world. These shamanistic-psychotic surrealities need not be considered ‘real’, however neither can their surreality and flirtation with prophetic intuitions be dismissed as mere accident. Even as a kind of placebo effect, the transcendental levels of experience must be accounted for in any would-be-complete view of the universe.
There is a lot to understand about our own spectrum of consciousness before we can even begin to approach the totality of awareness, which may be an unbounded, or self-binding rather than a fixed continuum. Non-human states of awareness might be both ‘larger’ and ‘smaller’, faster and slower than we can conceive of. This conception of the totality of experience as beyond causality turns causality into a kind of ‘nozzle’ of spacetime. Causality focuses the ocean of creativity; interiorizing some and exteriorizing others into relative degrees (the ancestor of our ‘five senses’ in which, for example, feeling seems ‘closer to us’ than seeing).
The pieces of this puzzle of human consciousness can, in my estimation, reveal a kind of ‘red shift’ and ‘blue shift’ which can be thought of in human terms as the stereotypically** autistic and psychotic extremes of human consciousness.
To return to the video, the multisense realism view would add:
- 4. Nonlocal spacetime and “space ⊥ time” as (space and time in their naive, perpendicular local appearance) both emerge from a deeper common sense, which is trans-local.
- a. this common sense can be thought of as the capacity for sense itself, or rather, for the particular kind of worldly sense of causality and agreement, which we might call realism.
- b. realism is a common, but not exclusively common sense but is the reflection of an even more fundamental sense, which is novel and unprecedented rather than probabilistic or determined by laws.
- c. the common sense of realism divides experience mechanistically and unintentionally
- d. the uncommon sense beyond realism multiplies intentionally, seeking and building significance.
- e. what we call causality is itself caused. Our distanced observations of realism is a kind of low-res substitute or icon that carries some semblance of the totality, but in an aesthetically neutralized, minimalistic form.
- f. by using the built in, self-organizing clues of nature, we can begin to see how the holographic universe must be extended to include our own ‘visible spectrum’.
- 5. The agreement of the Spacetime Interval is not evidence of a rigid body of 4D absolute reality, but rather evidence of the potential for agreement itself, i.e. the revelation of underlying local sensory unity with distant sensory conditions.
- a. this is what the constancy of light speed and gravity are ‘really about’: not photons or forces, but ordinary sensory experience in self-diffraction.
- b. light is not a particle or a wave, it is a local sensation on the cusp of spacetime emergence. Light is local sensation, and sensation is a boundary condition within sense.
- c. this means that sensation is more of a temporary subtraction from the eternal than an isolated piece of information.
- d. the extremes of human consciousness should be seen as a richer, more significant version of a guiding theme in all of sense: that of psychotic-unpredictable-figurative entropy and autistic-static-literal information.
- e. the phenomenon of seeing can be used metaphorically to begin to understand these extremes, as well as ordinary experiences of common sense, by working with the idea of language as a gravitational lensing in which the light of sense is bent by local accumulations of significance (mass).
- 6. Paradoxically, what all observers agree on is their potential for agreement and fact of their own disagreement.
- a. We can reclaim our naive intuitions about space and time being different, as this perpendicular aesthetic is an accurate reflection of our own subjective tunnel through eternity.
- b. We can claim the Minkowski counter-intuition as a brilliant, and useful creation myth which is derived from common insensitivity, rather than common sense.
This is way too much to take in all at once (even for me), and I have no doubt that it sounds crazy to most people (that too is part of the Lorentz-like contractions and dilatations of sense-making). This is only the very tip of the iceberg…just something to get down in writing…for now.
*Whether the out-of-range portions of the spectrum of sense appear to be insane, error, or divine depends upon the frame of reference from which they are experienced.
**not talking about real people who demonstrate autistic or psychotic symptoms, but the themes exposed by the stereotyping of those symptoms, some of which are being researched under Imprinted Brain Theory.
MSR’s Case Against Emergence
Within the MSR website, there are several entries talking about the inadequacy of the concept of emergence when applied to consciousness emerging from unconsciousness. Briefly, emergence only has any explanatory power when applied to two phenomena which have a logical similarity. We can understand that water molecules which are tightly packed would seem to us to have the emergent property of being ice, where molecules which are contacting each other but sliding around would have the emergent property of seeming to us like a liquid. What is meant when emergence is applied to consciousness however, is not like that at all. There is no arrangement of particles in a void that is isomorphic to a flavor, color, or feeling like dizziness. Emergence which cannot be anticipated by the behavior of the fundamental phenomenon is known as Strong or Brute Emergence, and under the best of circumstances can be dismissed as an argument from ignorance. In the circumstance of consciousness emerging from objects or information processes, we are smuggling in our own evidence of experience as the entire explanation of that experience. To claim emergence of consciousness is to answer the question of why molecules seem like flavors or emotions by shrugging it off as the way that molecules seem…as if seeming could exist in physics in the absence of consciousness.
Here’s a thought experiment to consider:
Let’s say that you have a two dimensional collection of six squares in a cross formation, like this:
Now we know that this could be folded into a cube, however, couldn’t we also have a program which treats the edges as if it were a cube, but use it as a graphic character in a 2d video game? In other words, can’t we show that just because the edges and corners of this figure behave in a way which is isomorphic to a 3d figure, no cube ’emerges’ necessarily? We could run this program in Flatland without folding it up as cube and all of the computational outcomes would be the same.
The emergentist position overlooks the difference between the squares and the cube, claiming the latter not to be anything additional added on top of the flat avatar. The idealist position is that there is a difference between a cube and the avatar, and that this difference is the most important and interesting thing…the whole point is that there doesn’t need to be a cube logically, but yet there is.
Intellectual fads come and go. Even long held scientific frameworks change over time to accommodate new knowledge. For centuries Ptolemaic astronomy was presumed accurate, so much so that when anomalies were found in the predictions of its deferent and epicycle model, the response was famously to ‘add epicycles’ to make finer tuned predictions rather than to suspect what Galileo and Copernicus later found. The heliocentric revolution changed our understanding of our position in the universe from one of divine center or paradise lost to a statistical fluke in a dying cosmos. For the 1200 years between 200 and 1400 AD, why did we stick to the geocentric model? Why was it more natural to think that the universe revolved around us?
Like the fish which has no name for water, or the Flatland square who has no way to conceive of flatness as a dimension which lacks volume, it was difficult for people to doubt those assumptions that they didn’t even know they were making. The Earth feels motionless – as stable and static as anything we can imagine. Who would guess that the very property of motion is a relative condition? Once we have that piece of information, we can find, as Einstein did, examples of it everywhere – on trains, when we can’t tell whether our seat is moving forward at a constant speed or whether the train out the window is moving past us and we are standing still. One favorite thought experiment of mine is to think of a universe in which only one object exists; a smooth, ideal sphere like a ping pong ball. In this universe, nothing can be seen to move. Without making ourselves an invisible voyeur who can look around into the void, there is no true sense of space or change. There is no difference between moving and standing still because there is no frame of reference from which to compare and see that a position has changed. Video games can help us conceptualize this also. The player who pilots a spaceship avatar has only the attitude of their ship to cue their sense of acceleration when traveling through empty space.
The shift that is proposed by MSR would twist our view of the universe, so that the universe itself becomes a kind of twisting or gyrating between different ways of experiencing.
Yeats, like Locke and Galileo before him, conceived of the worldly half of the universe as “Primary”, which is perfectly natural considering that when we are awake we find ourselves surrounded by a physical world which is so much larger and more durable than ourselves. MSR proposes not that we invert this relation into solipsism, where internal phenomena are primary and the external world is secondary, but to see our own subjectivity as just one tier in a continuum which is much more vast and durable than even physics. Under MSR, both the dualistic Western and non-dualistic Eastern views both exist within the total continuum of sense.
The Yeats system is multiplied so that it is realism which is emergent rather than subjectivity. The aesthetic objectives of Yeats are no longer the antithesis, but the thesis and meta-thesis.
Multisense realism = The elaboration of sense into layers and modes which objectify and subjectivity.
|multisenserealism on Light Has No Speed|
|Rodrigo on Light Has No Speed|
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