Another clue revealing the primacy of sense in the universe:
The point that I want to make here is that when examining physical phenomena at the largest and smallest sales, the spectrum is reveals itself as a fundamental context. Matter defines itself as specific obstructions or gaps within the complete continuum, or as a specific slices or fragments which can rejoin with other emissions to complete the spectrum.
Our current understanding of radiation, light, energy, and fields assumes a foreground of an emission against a void. Photons are presumed to to exist as object-like presences which are distinct from a background which is a vacuum that is somehow full of ‘energy’. The physicalist view is a bit contradictory, seeing one layer of quantum foam or zero point energy as an ultimate ground to the universe which is ‘always on’ and then an classical level of description of space as a vacuum that is always ‘off’ except when interrupted by forces.
I think that it makes more sense to throw out both the idea of the vacuum full of energy and the objects in empty space and see that entire model of the universe as half of the larger picture…a half which is ultimately an inversion or antithesis of the true trans-physical foundation.
If the conception of the universe as a spacetime void which contains various kinds of mass-energy ‘stuffs’ is turned inside out, what we get is a universe where light is ultimately neither emitted nor absorbed, but instead is a pervasive condition of sensitivity which is blinded or obstructed spatially and temporarily. We use the terms permittivity and permeability to measure the effect that matter has on electric and magnetic fields respectively.
If we turn the electromagnetic model right side up, we lose the idea of electric and magnetic fields entirely and see permittivity and permeability as the localizing constraints on the underlying unity of sense experience. EM fields would not permeate matter or be permitted to propagate across it, but rather matter is actually nothing but the im-permeablity and un-permittivity of the underlying sense condition. When the underlying sense multiplies and divides itself, it makes sense to expect that the result might be persistent material structures in 3d+1 space/time (not relativistic space-time, but classical space ⊥ time).
What is being emitted and absorbed then, in my view, is not light, but the obstruction of light. Matter is a kind of one-sided blindness, like a one way mirror which which inverts the totality of experiences in a fisheye lens way. This converts the non-dual context of Absolute sense to bubbles of dualistic contexts: subject/objects, proto-subjects/proto-object (sensory impulse), and trans-subject, trans-subject/object (synchronicity-archetype)
The whole picture would look something like this:
Sense (timed experience or subjective qualia (placed experience or objectively quantized qualia) signified or re-capitulated sense) Sense.
So Sense (Time/Subject (Object) Distance (Object) Significance)
From the “Distance” view, the universe is a classical place filled with objects, but this is only an appearance which is projected from within subjectivity as it makes sense of its relation to other scales and frames of experience. The external world is actually external-to-the-world, as it is a mirror reflection cast by two or more surfaces of sense impermeability, like this:
It is the )( relation which gives realism to objects. There are no objects ‘out there’, just different levels of ‘out there’ which are ‘in here as objects’.
*which can also be expressed as a metric tensor…a tension superimposed within sense which allows regulating contexts such as space, time, and causality to persist.
This may seem like a ridiculous point to try to make, however I submit that it provides a direct metaphor for the Hard Problem of Consciousness which may help make it more concrete, especially for those whose minds are filled with concrete.
What is the essential role of the Owner of a company?
Whether they are individual proprietors, stockholders, or investors, the only truly unique function that a capitalist principal performs is to be the beneficiary of net profit. Every executive function of a company can of course be delegated to employees. The CEO, COO, board of directors, etc can make every functional decision about the company, from the hiring and firing to the broad strategy of operations and acquisitions. Simulating those roles would be more difficult for a computer program than simulating an owner would be because there would be a lot of tricky decisions to make, subtle political maneuvers that require a lot of history and intuition, etc. The role of pure ownership however, while highly coveted by human beings, is completely disposable for an AI system. In fact, we already have that role covered by our bank accounts themselves. Our personal accounting systems can be configured quite easily to automatically pay, receive, and invest funds automatically. They need not be considered ‘our’ funds at all. They are merely signals in a global financial network which has no use for any pleasure or pain that we might experience as a side effect of its digital transactions.
From the view of an AI scientist, the job of receiving capital gains is a no-brainer (literally). If we didn’t want to delegate the job of selling the company to a corporate officer, that feature would be a simple one to create. A modest set of algorithms could digitize some of the concepts of top business schools to determine a set of indicators which would establish a good time to sell the company or its assets. The role of receiving the profit of that sale, however, would require no such sophisticated programming.
All that is needed to simulate ownership is some kind of digital account where money can be deposited. The CEO would then re-invest the capital gains into the corporate growth strategy, which would yield a huge windfall for the company, in the form of eliminating useless expenses such as yachts, mansions, divorce settlements, etc. Left to its own devices, AI simulation of ownership would be communist by default*. Whatever money is extracted from the individual customer as profit would be returned ultimately to all customers in the form of expanded services. Profit is only useful as a way to concentrate reinvestment for mathematical leverage, not to ‘enjoy’ in some human way. I suppose that a computer could be programmed to spend lavishly on creature comforts, but what would be the point?
This is where the metaphor for consciousness comes in.
Consciousness can be thought of the Capital account of the human body. We are the owner of our own lives, including our body. We might be able to subscribe to a service which would manage our finances completely in a way which would transfer our income to the highest priority costs for civilization as a whole rather than for our personal hoard, but this is not likely to be a very popular app.
We might ask ourselves, why not? Why is ownership good?
Ownership is good for us as owners or conscious agents because we want to feel personal power and significance. Ownership signifies freedom (from employment) and success. Sure, many owners in the real world get a lot of satisfaction from actually running their companies, but it is not necessary. There is still power and prestige purely in being the person who owns the money which pays the bills. We want to own and control, not because it is more effective than simply reinvesting automatically in whatever functions are being executed to keep an economy growing, but because we want to experience the feelings and other aesthetic qualities define freedom, success, and power for us. Even if these qualities are employed for humanitarian purposes, there is still a primary motive of feeling (to feel generous, kind, wise, evolved, Godly, etc).
In my view we do not have to have a purely selfish motive, as Ayn Rand would insist. I think that our personal pleasure in being a philanthropist can be outweighed by the more noble intention of it – to provide others with better feelings and experiences of life. This decision to believe that we can be truly philanthropic has philosophical implications for realism. If we say as the Randian Libertarian might, that all our humanitarian impulses are selfish, then we are voting for solipsism over realism, and asserting that consciousness can only reflect the agenda of a fictional agent rather than perceiving directly the facts of nature. It’s an argument that should be made, but I think that it is ultimately an argument of the intellect commenting on its own process rather than tapping into the deeper intuition and aesthetic presence which all cognition depends on. The mind doesn’t think that feeling is necessary, and it is right, for the mind, but wrong for everything else.
For the intellect, the universe is inverted.
Logic and language are ‘real’ while the concrete sensations, perceptions and emotions of life experience are ‘illusions’ or ‘emergent properties’ of deeper evolutionary bio-computations. There is a kind of sleight of hand where the dry, masculine intellect pulls the wool over its own eyes and develops amnesia about the origins of what makes its own sanity and self-intelligibility possible. The closest that it can come without seeing consciousness as irreducible is the mind-numbing process of calculation. Counting is a sedative-hypnotic for the mind. The monotonous rhythm puts us to sleep, and the complexity of huge calculations gives us a kind of orgasmic annihilation of the calculating experience. This is why big math is a convenient substitute for the deeper, direct experiences of cosmic awe.
Metaphor for Consciousness
Like the head of a company, our consciousness may seem to reside at the top end of our body, but there is no functional reason for that. There is nothing that the brain does which is fundamentally different from what any cell, tissue, or organ does in an animal’s body. Looking for the secret ingredient in the brain’s function or structure is analogous to looking for the substance in an object which casts a shadow.
Like the owner, our personal pains and pleasures are ours not because there is any intrinsic benefit for the pragmatic application of biology and genetics to feel painful or pleasurable, but because what we feel and experience is the only thing that the universe actually can consist of. The Hard Problem of Consciousness is not an Empirical problem, but a Rational one. Not everyone is able to understand why this is, but maybe this metaphor of business decapitation can help. When we use the intellect to reverse its own inversion, we can get a glimpse of a universe which is made of conscious experiences and aesthetic qualities rather than logical propositions, natural laws or existential facts. In my view, facts are a category of sensations rather than the other way around. Sensations which persist indefinitely without contradiction are ‘facts’. Hard to know if something is going to persist indefinitely, but that’s another issue.
Only consciousness cares about consciousness.
Material substrates can be programmed to perform the executive functions of a corporation, or an evolving species, or a human body, however there is no function which is provided exclusively by the receipt of feelings and aesthetic qualities of experience, including the qualities of feeling that one is free or in control of something. Rationally, we should be able to see that qualia is irrelevant to function and violates Occam’s Razor in a functionalist universe. From a physical or information-centric perspective, there is no place for any feeling or sensation, no owner or capital of aesthetic wealth. The more that we, as a society, embrace a purely quantitative ethos, and actualize it in the structures of our civilization, the more we decapitate everything of value that it can contain.
*This is already becoming a reality: https://theconversation.com/is-the-dao-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-conventional-chief-executive-60403
My answer to a Quora question.
This question sounds reasonable only when we have first assumed that consciousness evolved from biology. I would argue that while it certainly seems that consciousness has become richer and more complex through biological forms and functions, there can be no biological use for consciousness itself.
Consider the practical function of the human body. What does it need to do that other bodies don’t? Everything from a mosquito to a mountain lion has similar biological imperatives and evolutionary pressures to contend with. For that matter, every one celled organism or even DNA molecule functions in the same way – it survives and reproduces. Whether these structures feel like they are trying to survive and reproduce is irrelevant. I’ll say that again, because it is that important:
It cannot matter biologically whether a given structure feels, thinks, senses, or has any experience at all, and to assume it does would be a logical fallacy:
“, which actually translates as ‘assuming the initial point’”.
The initial point here is the existence of consciousness itself. When we assume that it exists, we are compelled to fill in our explanation with a “”; an ad hoc, unfalsifiable hypothesis which will give rationalize a connection between our initial assumptions of biology without consciousness and consciousness arising out of utility to biology.
We might speculate that consciousness was bestowed upon Homo sapiens (gradually of course) as a cause or effect of the success of the species in adapting to more ecological niches than others. We might say that there was a feedback loop between consciousness, self-awareness, intelligence and the accumulation of knowledge and technology to better ensure survival in almost any climate and against almost any predator. This is a good story, and it makes sense if we make the mistake of equating intelligence with consciousness. It is easy to make that mistake, since we are conscious and find it difficult to separate our experience of knowing and surviving from the actual behaviors which our body is performing to accomplish that.
This logical error was articulated very nicely by Dr. Raymond Tallis, in his book Aping Mankind. He talks about the difference between the ‘retrospective’ view of consciousness, which I was just describing, where we assume that consciousness exists and then try to justify its origin in pre-conscious phenomena and the correct ‘prospective’ view of consciousness which requires us to adhere to our hypothesis of pre-consciousness from the start. Without the appearances that we are accustomed from our own consciousness, we find the universe which physics and biology give to us is devoid of any appearance at all. Blind mechanisms are literally that – chain reactions of cause and effect which occur by physical law and statistical probability: Nothing more.
From here, we are compelled to negate our previous story which links intelligence with consciousness and see that the whole notion of ‘intelligence’ is a conceit of consciousness, and that any intelligence which hypothetically developed in the absence of consciousness would be just another sophisticated-looking chain reaction of nature. The appearance of sophistication is, again, purely subjective and dependent upon some conscious framing of the appearance. To us, a large organic molecule seems impressive, but since physics can have no preferred frame of reference, there is no appearance of a molecule, only one generic atom and then another one, and another. Each one unaware of anything, and nothing aware of an overall ‘grouping’ of atoms.
As long as we begin from any structure which functions in the total absence of sensory experience, there can be no logical justification for the possibility of sensory experience as a physical function. If a human zygote can already build a living brain, not to mention an immune system, digestive system, circulatory system, etc, all without any conscious experience at all, then what sense does it make to expect that ordinary tasks of animal survival and reproduction should benefit functionally from the addition of some kind of unexplainable metaphysical hallucination?
This is not an argument for Creationism*. Far from it. To me the idea of a single conscious creator has the same problem that Materialism has, only seen from the other way around. God has to be conscious, and God cannot create his own consciousness, so unless consciousness automatically comes with the sense of self, it seems more plausible to me that God, gods, people, and things are all dependent on a phenomenal substrate which transcends all others – beyond space and time, beyond order and entropy, beyond probability or improbability there must be sense experience…a phenomenon in which all phenomena perceive and participate directly.
It may not seem that way to us, from our limited scope of human consciousness, because our lifetimes are so short and our instants of perception are so long relative to biology and physics, but I think that it is the case that on some frame of reference, all phenomena is purely experiential. Consciousness is using biology, not the other way around. Biology is like physics squared, with each living organism its own recapitulation of the big bang, standing in absolute contrast to its inorganic origins, connected to the totality of experience by food, water, light, and each other. This is not to say that “a rock is conscious” but rather that we perceive a rock from a biased set of reports from our human body. We are seeing a fragment of mineral residue from what would be, on a geological or astrophysical scale of time and space, a musical fireworks show of stellar-planetary animation. It’s all about frames of reference, but taken in a new way which sees reference and relativity not as framed by mathematical relations, but of perceptual gymnastics on a scale which extends well beyond biology or even ‘reality’.
*If people do prefer to think of Consciousness as intrinsically God-like, I can’t rule it out. Maybe consciousness-with-self-hood simply is the empirical fact, like the color red, without precedent or logic. That could just be the way that it is in all possible universes, that consciousness is personality who thinks and acts.
Relying on logic instead, my conclusion would be that while God or gods could be real to human experience (by way of higher consciousness that is more deeply connected with the cosmological scales of time, using metaphor to communicate with its time-spliced version of itself), they are more likely to have evolved as a reflection of zoology. In a universe made of conscious experience, the experience of the organism which moves itself around the world of other organisms and non-organisms would have a good reason to conceive of itself as a self, and of its deepest connection to eternal experience as a super-self, hero, polytheistic god or monotheistic God.
For those who prefer to think of nature as Godless, the sense-first view can be understood to introduce a third cosmological form of expression, a fundamental one from which the other two cosmological platforms of physical forms and logical functions diverge as experienced time, rather than emerge in a pre-existing context of space-time. It’s a flipping over of the foundations of our cosmology, so that quantum theory and relativity, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology all represent incomplete views of nature that we have developed out of fragmentation of our understanding into extremely specialized sciences.
The one common denominator of all of our modern approaches is that they share the same blind spot for our own native human frame of awareness. We have stenciled an outline of our own image out of the conspicuous absence of it in the stars, the neurons, and the laws of information and physics. In my view, the way forward is to perform a Copernican inversion on our worldview…not returning to a pre-scientific anthropomorphism, but to explain both anthropomorphism and its now dominant opposite (I call it mechanemorphism) in a deeper context of sense and sense-making. Once we engage in this symmetry objectively, i.e., to see the intrinsic subjectivity in objectivity and objectivity in subjectivity, then a lot of things fall into place, including this perilously transformative time in human history.
Another shot at an improved diagram of the multisense continuum. Terms intercausal and intracausal are introduced to differentiate between the proto-phenomenal view *within* causality (i.e. intentionality/will is the active principle, determinism/probability is the diffracted reflection).
The Postcausal-Synchronistic | Metaphoric-Metaphenomenal level of description are adhesive and diffracted from absolute unity from the top down. They correspond to the metric c² as experience is presented in fugue-conditions which transcend space, time, and causality.
The Physical-Causal | Phoric-Phenomenal level of description are adhesive and cohesive (Cartesian Dualism). They correspond to the metric c as experience is presented as the juxtaposition of an exterior context which is cohesively spaced, timed, and deterministic (adhesive) and interior contents which are adhesive-contextual (subjective).
The Thermodynamic-Intercausal | Perceptual-Emotive
and Electromagnetic | Sensorimotive-Intracausal labels refer to translations between public manifestations of energy and private manifestations of effort or will. Any metric which relates velocity, frequency or wavelength as a fraction of c can be used here.
The Quantum-Probabilistic | Semaphoric-Sub-personal level of description refers to phenomena which are presented as either cohesive-entangled or adhesive-contextualized. An example of a cohesive-entangled appearance is a static ‘sense-of particles or objects in positions’, while an example of adhesive-contextualized appearance could be a sense of ‘dynamic waves of change in sensation itself’. The former appears as a thing which is made visible while the latter appears as an artifact of visibility itself (such as rays of light). Because the quantum level is paradoxical or bi-cohesive, the metric √c can be used to conceptualize the breakdown of natural, macroscopic conditions into quantized proto-conditions.
In evaluating 20th century philosophy, a few names regularly crop up into most conversations. Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, many of them are Austrian or British, many are lo…
It might help to start with my other writings on Quora: https://www.quora.com/profile/Craig-Weinberg
This site is more of a place for recording ideas before I forget them.
“Reality” = Maximum availability within any given frame of reference.
“Information” = An effective reference.
To be more precise, Availability = afferent/aesthetic availability. If a tree falls in a forest in a universe where hearing was impossible, sound is not available and therefore does not exist.
Maximum availability can refer to both the density of aesthetic saturation (i.e. extreme pain is extremely real) and the particular aesthetic qualities of duration, constancy, and publicity. The dream that you never wake up from is your reality. The dream that all people share and never wake up from is human realty.
Information is afferent signaling with efferent potential. The more potential for producing intentional effects, the more ‘informative’ the signal is. Information is not ‘really real’ as it only requires enough aesthetic saturation for the power to arrest attention (to be noticed or detected) and be made available to attention (focus and coherent interpretation). Informative data therefore are cohesive units of perturbation within a medium or channel of adhesive or affective sensitivity.
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Blogs I Follow
- This is not Yet-Another-Paradox, This is just How-Things-Really-Are...
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