Biology From The Inside

December 14, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

This gif is one of the set that has been going around, but it reminds me of the concept that I have of biological awareness (as opposed to primordial awareness which is embodied by physics and does not require biology). Whether the inorganic universe is four dimensional (3 + 1 time) or just seems that way from within a two dimensional hologram, it seems likely to me that the experience of biological organisms is best modeled along a fifth axis (aesthetic qualities as more than the sum of their conditional parts).

What I like about the repeating gif, besides the coincidental “5” relating to the fifth dimension, is that it suggests a kind of morphological respiration. Front to back, parts to whole, a seamless, self-metabolizing transformation. As a biological organism, my experience of the outside world is limited to that which can be modeled as objects – that is, through an aesthetically reduced feature set in which a bunch of five dimensional urges and responses are flattened into a four dimensional narrative on multiple levels.

In a previous post, I was looking at how sensitivity might be understood as being ‘key composited’ or perhaps ‘discomposed’ across multiple frames of reference. By this I mean that the apparent distribution of our psychological interface across the tissue of the brain can be compared to a flatland visualization:

If instead of the sphere, it were a hand passing through the flatland plane, it would appear to the omniscient flatlander that there were five separate circles appearing separately, yet somehow seeming coordinated in their action. The fingers are part of a single hand, but within the constraint of the two dimensional sensitivity, the unity of the hand is discomposed across space in the literal sense, but figuratively some kind of unity can be inferred through the synchronized coincidence of the movement.

Now imagine that instead of another graphable dimension, the fifth dimension is one which is as orthogonal to spacetime as the three dimensions of space are to the one dimension of time. Feeling, like pain and pleasure, are like a coloring, or keying which cuts across multiple layers of seemingly unrelated public events. Not only is feeling a different kind of thing as forms or functions but it is a dimension in which dimension itself is transcended. Feeling is not a model or a measure, but rather it is the primordial context from which all measure is derived and all modeling is made demonstrable.

From the discomposed perspective ‘out there’, we are a coincidence of coincidences. A mysteriously synchronized, dynamic orchestration of hundreds of billions of neurons, organelles, molecules, etc which corresponds to the behavior of an animal’s body.

The feelings which we experience are not located in the tissue of the brain, rather the brain itself is part of the wider landscape of the totality of experience. The brain as a whole is, like our body as a whole and all of the cells and molecules that make it up at any given time, a four dimensional reduction of a transdimensional privacy.

Under Eigenmorphism, the base of each pyramid of perception is made up of the apex of countless low level pyramids of perception. When we look at an fMRI or the brain, we are trying to look at the view from top of our own pyramid through the blind eyes of its own bottom. Feeling is stripped out (not to mention the higher dimensions of meta-feeling/emotion/cognition/intuition) and we are left with a four dimensional mechanical skeleton with no interiority.

Being so impressed with ourselves and what we have accomplished by questioning our naive introspection with science, we naturalize the discomposed view and epiphenomenalize the native, gestalt perspective. All of this makes perfect sense within the flatlanded context of topological physics, where spontaneous appearances and disappearances are assumed only to reflect each other, rather than private transdimensional presentations.

I suspect that the universe which is experienced in the absence of all living organisms is a much different thing that it would appear to us. What we see as a four or two dimensional manifold is only a snapshot of discomposed histories. It seems inanimate to us because we seem so animated to ourselves. The highest awareness of our own interior physics seems to us unreal and crazy…and it is, relative to the inertia of human awareness as a whole. Like the inverted image of our retina however, I think that because our disposition spans so many levels of life and physical experience, we tend to see the mechanical patterns which all of the layers have in common, rather than the coincidence which is also animating them from the top down.

Like the transformer car in the gif, the signature of our presence and intention coincides with the interplay of entropy and significance. The living cell, from our perspective looking through our eyes and a microscope’s lens, looks like a homeostatic emergence. Seemingly conjured, like Brownian motion, from the statistical collisions of countless microphysical conditions.

This is not completely untrue. The mechanical conditions of a cell can be disrupted mechanically. There is bottom up causality. What has not been properly investigated yet is the other perspective. The one responsible for the biological property of healing and global integrity. If we think of the flux between entropy and significance as a carrier tone for biological life, then it might be easier to conceptualize how the universe is as much a dynamic interaction of nested simplicities as it is a mechanical progression from simplicity to complexity. The image of the metabolic transformer stands in contrast to the stillness of the axis of its transformation.

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  1. December 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    “The brain as a whole is, like our body as a whole and all of the cells and molecules that make it up at any given time, a four dimensional reduction of a transdimensional privacy.”

    Do you believe that brain-in-a-vat scenarios are possible then?

    • December 18, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Not in the sense of ‘this reality may not be really real’, but maybe in the sense that our experience may be part of a larger experience which is very different than we might imagine.

  2. December 31, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Let me press you a bit then. What IS the brain-in-a-vat scenario to you? Where does it go wrong? What would happen if we did envat (is that the right word?) a brain and gave it proper inputs to generate a fantasy external reality, a la The Matrix? Or is that not possible for different reasons?

    • December 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      I don’t really have a problem with the brain-in-a-vat scenario given adequate technology. I mean that as a case of ‘in the future we could control the inputs of a brain and make the person experience whatever we want to’. As far as a philosophical ‘how do we know that we aren’t living in a simulation/brain in a vat’ I would say that it doesn’t matter one way or another, and that while the foundation of our reality could be hidden from us, reality itself can’t be founded on simulation since whatever that is would be the only possible fundamental reality.

      My only ‘not so fast’ critique is about Strong AI assuming that we can write a program or build an inorganism (machine) that feels on anything above the (+0) level. The Red Herring of the moment is that given enough complexity, +1, +2, and +3 level awareness will naturally arise (by brute emergence). I say that the + side scale can only increase through genuine direct experience (read ‘hundreds of millions of years of life’), and may only be possible starting from +2 beginnings. The best that we can hope for from non-biological components is -0 level emulations of the + side.

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