Attending TSC this year and in 2012 has played a critical role, and continues to play a role in inspiring me to develop Multisense Realism. David Chalmers work in particular, with his elucidation of the various forms of panpsychism in his recent papers Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism and The Combination Problem for Panpsychism has been invaluable.
From the former paper :
“Panpsychism is sometimes dismissed as a crazy view, but this reaction on its own is not a serious objection. While the view is counterintuitive to some, there is good reason to think that any view of consciousness must embrace some counterintuitive conclusions. Furthermore, intuitions about panpsychism seem to vary heavily with culture and with historical period. The view has a long history in both Eastern and Western philosophy, and many of the greatest philosophers have taken it seriously. It is true that we do not have much direct evidence for panpsychism, but we also do not have much direct evidence against it, given the difficulties of detecting the presence or absence of consciousness in other systems. And there are indirect reasons, of a broadly theoretical character, for taking the view seriously.”
In the latter paper, Chalmers offers a rigorous account of The Combination Problem. Multisense Realism begins as a proposed solution to the Combination Problem in which the explanatory gap between physical and phenomenal states are bridged by a continuum/spectrum of relativistic qualities of sensitivity.
From the macro to the micro, physical to phenomenal, under MSR, every perspective contributes its own frame of reference to what could be considered a totality of reference. Through this super-monad, not only are physics and phenomenology reconciled, but ontology itself. ‘Isness’ and ‘Aboutness’ are reconsidered as ‘Seems’ and ‘Seems like’.
It is the aim of MSR to begin to characterize and document this spectrum of meta-ontology, in which definition itself is created, preserved, and dissolved…even while, in another sense, not creating, preserving, or dissolving anything. Amidst all of this relativism and paraconsistent logic, it is proposed that within every frame of reference there is also the potential to access unambiguous clarity, simplicity, and wholeness. At the center of every center, there is a default experience – a reflection of the totality; home, safe, within or ‘in here’. This anchoring should not be presumed to be the exclusive province of human consciousness or even zoology or biology. All of physics and mathematics contains implicit vantage points from which objects are defined. In this way at least, sense should be seen to pre-figure all figures and forms, all objects and subjects.
What PIP suggests is that even relativity is relative. There “is” an Absolute frame of reference, consisting of the capacity to orient sensibly. From that foundation, it becomes possible to ‘make sense’. Existence is suggested, not as a facile axiom, but as a concrete presentation of here and now that is a‘living’ coordination of aesthetic encounters. This view of the cosmos is one in which divergence and disentanglement of privacies precedes an emergence of spacetime, nucleated in the now.
The work of Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose have also inspired my thinking as well. MSR introduces a kind of perceptual relativity at every level of scale (named Eigenmorphism), and a Lorentz-style complementarity to the Orchestrated Objective Reduction called Subjective Inflation (i.e. Orch OR+SI). The publicity of quantum mechanics finds a kind of twin realization in the privacy of qualitative gestalts. Wave-function collapse is reflected as a figurative bolt of lightning from the totality into locality.
Like a lightning bolt, a uniquely jagged path traces its route from vector to vector, describing not only a generic/recombinatory state change, but a proprietary and unrepeatable address. This path can be imagined to strike through what might be described as an ‘improbability space’ – a top-down complement to the bottom-up view of quantum theory.
Through this influx of novelty, the present moment of here and now is inflated to superlative significance which recapitulates the inflation as well, so that eternity is reflected in each moment. This idea owes a lot to Eastern concepts such as the Net of Indra and Akashic Records. The idea is that each moment’s route to the present from the Absolute is preserved within it. This is quite an abstruse concept, and requires much deeper consideration than can be expressed here, but let this be at least a premonition of the potential for a productive if not testable form of ‘private physics’.
I have very much appreciated the contributions of Deepak Chopra, Giulio Tononi, and Donald Hoffman as well, each of whom present important pieces to the puzzle. Where I diverge from their views is only in particular details that arise from my premises. I do not see the world as a simulation or illusion, but rather, in any given frame of reference, the exterior world is as real as anything could possibly be…more ‘real’ in a way, than individual subjectivity. In my view, it is only from the Absolute frame of reference that matter is ‘unreal’ and subjective-like phenomena are the firmament. I see our subjective experience as both more-than-real and less-than-real, but not as the only arbiter of realism. MSR is not solipsism, but perhaps more of a holopsism.
Where Tononi’s IIT models a topological qualia space, I imagine a stratified but contiguous medium of sedimented experience from which qualia is carved out subtractively. There is simply no space in the universe that is not qualia already, nowhere to build it up from scratch. Instead, qualia is etched out of the local surface to the depths toward its source in the Absolute frame (beneath and beyond).
The flavor of strawberries for example, under MSR, is a kind of gestalt which traces a likeness of all the experience of animals eating fruit, of all fruit bearing plants, etc going back to indefinitely. Qualia is *not* a simple translation from molecular code to phenomenal effect. As humans, we are highly elaborated, so our divided senses can conflict, but this does not mean, in my view, that it is evidence of a faulty and solipsistic simulation. Illusions and misperceptions reveal more, not less, about the full reality of objective and subjective relation, even if the content is incompatible with the local frame of reference. The flavor of strawberries really is the flavor of the actual fruit, not simply a computation of indirectly generated data. One does not cause the other, they reflect different perceptual frame of reference. For this reason I reject all contemporary Strong AI approaches as implausible, since producing a mechanism capable of simulating expected outputs from a given input would be doing so based on mathematical contingencies rather than the kind of hyper-physics of sedimented experience that I suggest.
Donald Hoffman’s Conscious Realism seems to overlap with MSR very closely however here too I propose that even the idea of conscious agents are figments of the interface. If we drop the requirement of ‘agents’ to consciousness, the notion of panpsychism becomes more palatable, and the Combination Problem is eased if not completely transcended. If we see self-ness as the ‘king of qualia’ rather than the price of entry to consciousness, then we open the door to a profoundly interesting universe of ‘dark qualia’ which would, (as it contains the content of both past and future relative to any nested frame) dwarf the scale of dark energy. It seems possible that dark energy is the local footprint of this eternal continuity of experience.
Thanks also to my ideological adversaries in this as well. Susan Blackmore’s no-nonsense approach and commitment to empirical evidence is a welcome influence, as well as Daniel Dennett’s humor and uncompromising cynicism. In many ways, my own view is informed by turning the tables on doubt so that in addition to being skeptical of our interior experience, in favor of exterior scientific evidence, I would add that we must introduce a new skepticism of the presumption of the universality and completeness of even those scientific descriptions. What is true on one level may not be true on another, and each level has its own fundamental truth independent of every other.
Thanks to Jody Weiss and everyone else that I have met here at the conference too, who have also contributed to this ongoing development, both directly and indirectly.
Yours in Consciousness,
Craig Weinberg, @s33light