Trial Epilogue on MSR

In the course of writing about Multisense Realism, I have had the unusual experience of discovering what my influences have been without having ever been directly influenced by them. As a whole, MSR seems to unintentionally brings together concepts common to Relativity, Semiotics, Depth Psychology and Hermetic Philosophy and applying them to the problems of consciousness. In these ideas I have found breadcrumb trails leading back to Whitehead, Leibniz, Deleuze, and Spinoza among many others all the way back to the Axial age. I have been accused of being Aristotelian, Hegelian, postmodernist, Creationist, solipsist, Chalmers-ite, and a Chopran, but in truth, my view can find strong agreement and strong disagreement with almost every slant on physics, philosophy, and phenomenology.  MSR points to a tessellated monism of relative absolutes and relative relatives. Here then is an attempt to encapsulate a more objective view of this view and how it fits in to the larger perspective of current models.

Privilege and Privacy

The concept of ‘frames of reference’ is used in Relativity for making objective predictions about the physical universe, but it hinges on the assumption of perspectives which, as far as I can imagine, are possible only when defined by subjective awareness of some kind. How can there be a perspective without some experience in which that perspective is presented?

In physics, the observer is a one dimensional vector, whose only function is as a fixed-point receiver of various coordinated conditions. The Berkeleyan in me calls a foul on that, since we have no evidence that any such abstract receiver can exist without some form of perception – some mode of sensory relation is assumed for the observer but it is not acknowledged. The mode of observation itself is unrecognized and overlooked except for a generic, and typically pseudo-optical fact of a means of relating factual data from a distance. What has been proposed here is that without some specific modality of concrete aesthetic experience, the notion of relativity quickly becomes incoherent. Contemporary physics assume properties and positions, but overlooks the necessity for a method of detection and comparison in the absence of sensory awareness. The question is how, if not through some form of conscious appreciation, some multiple of ‘sense’, can a frame of reference come to privilege itself as ‘here’ rather than ‘there’ or ‘now’ rather than ‘then’? What, in physical or functional terms, accounts for ‘privilege’, and it’s more familiar human expression ‘privacy’?

To answer that question, one approach that I have stumbled upon is to conceptually reverse existing models. Instead of particles in a void, think of dynamic bubbles in a plenum, or ‘whorlicles’. Instead of a literal plenum or field, think of a range of sensory acquaintance – a figurative anti-field in which the entropy of spacetime disentanglement is collapsed..

Applying this inside-out cosmology to mathematics, the number zero can only be a local temporary condition which can only exist between disconnection from and reconnection with the whole. Zero is the idea that something has about the absence of everything. If that’s true, then the underlying default-state of all nature that is not ‘nothingness’ a centering self-attraction. The Cartesian grid of spacetime becomes a polar graph which dissolves substance dualism.


From this trick of turning math and physics assumptions on their head, a primordial identity which I call ‘pansensitivity’ can be imagined. Pansensitivity is neither a physical form nor mathematical function, not an immaterial process, but a capacity through which forms and functions are aesthetically appreciated. It is the foundational possibility for sanity as a sole reality through which all other continuations can possibly arise.

Both physics and math overlook the role of aesthetics/participation. If we ask why, it could be because they are about answering questions within the world or beyond the world, rather than questioning worldliness itself. Math-physics begins with the axioms given that there simply must be a such thing as a force or quantities. It is never seriously asked whether these givens can exist independently of some context of sensitivity.

This perspective is not wrong, and is entirely sensible given the purpose of math and physics to bring certainty and order to our understanding and control of the world. ‘Shut up and calculate’ works for physics because it never has to deal with conditions that are outside of sense. If we can’t get ever get away from consciousness, then consciousness is zeroed out. It is only when we want to question what it is that we can’t get away from that the axioms of objectivity must be challenged. Also we must consider that if it were possible that computations and physical interactions could occur entirely as objects, without awareness of any kind, then it begs the question of why it would ever be the case that awareness would or could arise at all.

While the human intellect presents an aesthetic context which feels Platonically ‘pure’ to us in the forms of logic and language, there is nevertheless an experience of what it is like to think and figure out calculations. Despite our enthusiasm for the transparency of the medium of scientific thought, we can understand that this purity is ultimately an illusion as well. If our consciousness is nothing but deterministic physical activity being shaped by evolutionary selection, then our scientific axioms can be no better. Either we have to admit that our scientific objectivity is predicated on our sense capacity and those of the instruments which we employ, or we have to admit that our sense capacity has some access to a world which genuine and not a solipsistic simulation.


Pivoting from logical positivism to aesthetic ‘oppositivism’ may seem absurd, but it is not without precedent. The appeal of opposites and symmetry, especially in association with consciousness and cosmos is widespread.

The opposite of a great truth is also true – Niels Bohr

That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing – Isaac Newton’s translation of the Tabula Smaragdina.

It would seem an unlikely coincidence that so many foundational concepts have to do with opposites. From the periodic table (proton v electron) to parts of speech (nouns v verbs), we see the same expression of aesthetic contrast. It is no surprise that within Philosophy of Mind too there is a core opposition that the idealist has against the materialist and vice versa. Taking my cue from Bohr, I sought to turn the dichotomy of subject and object inside out. Instead of a seeing either an illusory subject in an objective world or a transcendental subject in an illusory world, I propose a Multisense Continuum in which subjectivity and objectivity are co-variant qualities which rise, fall, and find elaboration in nested frequencies of participatory sense. I found that there are simple relations between scale and speed that point to a possible way of scientifically accessing top-down diffraction as well as bottom-up combination.

The technique of aesthetic reversal is shown here being applied to some current science-based theories about consciousness:


Giulio Tononi’s IIT (Integrated Information Theory) posits consciousness as integrated information. Flipping that to the opposite, we can come up with something like Disintegrated Qualia, assuming my definition of information as the antithesis of qualia. I see ‘information’ as the interqualitative protocols which pansensitivity has developed to separate and reunite itself.

At first, the notion of disintegrated qualia might seem incoherent, however, when we look to the experience of how consciousness is instantiated, there does seem to be something interestingl. Waking up, or being startled into attention is an arresting begins by breaking off of a previous state of awareness (or unawareness). Before we can receive new information about what has captured our attention, the capturing itself occurs as an incoherent encounter; a brief reduction of sanity and control. Integration may be an accurate description of how consciousness functions from an outside perspective, but the subjective experience of disintegrating or dissolving qualia is an interesting way to describe the other half of the story – the subjective half. When we meditate we try to minimize the amount of information and qualia, and we feel intuitively that this is what opens us up to be *more* conscious rather than less.

Infancy and dementia are characterized by delirious qualia which do not merely lack the power to inform truthfully, but take on an otherworldly aesthetic. Insanity is feared not only for the consequences of rational malfunction, but for the fear of losing the sense of self and the world upon which all value depends. Psychosis is a profound dislocation of the frame of reference, but rather than dismissing the fact of mental illness as off-limits to a rational inquiry into consciousness, we should see the extreme alteration of consciousness as the supercollider or telescope of phenomenology.

The disintegration of qualia describes what it is like to experience the beginning and ending of awareness, where a frame of reference is raised to become privileged. Part of the privilege of private consciousness is to control this raising to some extent, or at least to participate in developing that control. As a complex organism, we have multiple levels of privacy and publicity. The human envelope of awareness extends from irresistible urges to relatively free-form imagination, with a whole spectrum in between. There is indeed an integration of information going on, but it can also be seen as the breakdown of a gestalt sense experience into multiple dimensions and modalities.

The measure used by IIT for the quality of consciousness is Φ (phi), which is a measure of qualia space in which probabilities of system states can be mapped as positions. Turning that upside down could add an anti-phi () in which qualia is conceived of as improbable or unprecedented dispositions…gestalt phenomena which are both novel and irreducible. Rather than qualities which are emergent from local connections and system states, the anti-phi qualities are divergent from the interference pattern between that which is eternal and that which is unrepeatable.

A song is both an integration of notes, and a reflection of the zeitgeist or collective experience.  Where phi is measured in the context of qualia space, anti-phi measures qualia as a spaceless, timeless ‘pinching’ of the totality into a focal presence. The anti-phi is a measure of the degree of aesthetic prestige and significance for the sake of its own appreciation.  It is through this aspect of qualia, this ‘dark math’ value which the non-local can be encountered and re-encountered in some likeable likeness. Instead of being built up from scratch, the anti-phi of qualia is diffracted or sculpted out of disintegrated/unbound pansensitivity. Spacetime serves to freeze the dreamtime of the totality, make it real, and use it to build richer qualia upon.


Orch OR, Penrose, and Fermat’s Last Theorem

Adding the reversal technique onto Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose’s Orchestrated Objective Reduction can yield similarly interesting results. The opposite of an Orch OR could be described as a “Subjective Inflation” which is “de-orchestrated”. What the hell does that mean? I’ll tell you. A subjective inflation can be thought of as the stretching of the fabric of the sense of the universe so that there can exist a difference between ‘here and there’, and ‘now and then’, a difference which physics does not seem to be able to locate. What happens during a wave-function collapse is, in addition to being felt as a Bing! of awareness, can also be described from the subjective end as a dilation of privilege which is aesthetic and qualitative. De-ORchestration can be thought of as free will – the individuation of proprietary time against a backdrop frame of generic-universal spacetime. The Orch OR explains what role subjectivity plays in the world from an outside perspective, but the De-Orch SI explains what role the creation of realism plays for the interior perspective.

In Penrose’s interpretations of Gödel’s incompleteness he says:

The inescapable conclusion seems to be: Mathematicians are not using a knowably sound calculation procedure in order to ascertain mathematical truth. We deduce that mathematical understanding – the means whereby mathematicians arrive at their conclusions with respect to mathematical truth – cannot be reduced to blind calculation!

This was echoed in the poster presentation at the TSC conference from James Tagg, in which he made the point of non-computability concrete by applying the spirit of Penrose’s conclusions to compose music based on Sir Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last theorem.  Because Hilbert’s 10th problem was answered negatively (by Yuri Matiyasevich in 1970), there is a discrepancy between the proof that no general algorithm can exist to solve Fermat’s last theorem and the fact that a human mathematician was in fact able to resolve it. To resolve that discrepancy, it seems reasonable to conclude that Wiles solved the theorem using methods that go beyond a general algorithm. To quote Tagg:

The existence of creativity within our Universe leads to important consequences for the structure of that Universe. To be creative we must process information within our brains using non-computable and therefore non-deterministic ‘software’. Such ‘software’ must run on non-deterministic ‘hardware’ through all the layers of abstraction, otherwise you could simply examine the more abstract model and determine what the lower layers are going to do. If humans run creative ‘software’ within their brains, the ‘hardware’ of the Universe must be non-deterministic.

Geoffery LaForte’s criticism of the Penrose-Lucas interpretation typifies the reaction against non-computational arguments. In his conclusion, he writes:

Theorems of the Gödel and Turing kind are not at odds with the computationalist vision, but with a kind of grandiose self-confidence that human thought has some kind of magical quality which resists rational description. The picture of the human mind sketched by the computationalist thesis accepts the limitations placed on us by Gödel, and predicts that human abilities are limited by computational restrictions of the kind that Penrose and others find so unacceptable.

I think that the language here exposes, ironically, an agenda in the service of impersonality in science which is highly emotional and personal (and unscientific). The essence of the objections found in LaForte’s paper are that we cannot prove our own consistency mathematically, so that somehow Penrose’s authority to affirm itself is more objectionable than his own authority to attack itself. What is mistaken for a ‘grandiose self-confidence’ is, in my view, no more than a minimum level of self-trust.

To say that all that resists rational description is magical is itself a petito principii fallacy, in which a foregone conclusion of universal determinism is itself used as the only support for a deterministic view of Gödel. What is overlooked is the fact that any argument against the consistency of human intuition is also an argument against that argument itself. It is to say, “I know with certainty that I cannot know anything with certainty”. That statement is a Gödel sentence whose absurdity oddly never occurs to LaForte as far as I can tell. What results is a straw man of the Penrose position in which human consciousness is reduced to a toy model.

In this toy model of determinsm-mechanism, the myriad of different aesthetic layers and modalities of human awareness are conflated into a single, unreliable process of computation rather than a fundamental creative context in which all notions of reliability are conceived in the first place. Daniel Dennett and others commit a similar mistake when they point out the limitations of perception (optical illusions, change blindness, etc) rather than the overwhelmingly consistent baseline of verdical perception from which we form such expectations. This rather aggressive approach forces line of demarcation such that all perceptions must be either true data from the outside world or solipsistic confabulations. My interpretation is precisely the opposite and can be understood through that opposition. MSR proposes the idea that consciousness and cosmos are a continuum of aesthetic presentation which range between high-amplitude metaphors (semi-local/semi-dual) and low-amplitude semaphores which have strictly contained meaning (thermodynamically irreversible, binary dualism, absolutely local or non-local axiomatic).

Early on in the paper, LaForte asks rhetorically “Now, why does this theorem seem so significant to anti-computationalists like Penrose and Lucas?” To insinuate that anti-computationalists have some kind of special fixation on this theorem is ironic, and representative of a whole class of similar accusations from the mechanistic camp. Mechanism asserts that human thought is reducible to computation, but it invariably carries a shadow assertion that some human thought is inherently corrupted by emotional rather than mathematical content. If we are all really machines, then Penrose is a machine, and if he finds incompleteness to be significant, then that can only mean that his mental process is determined to find it significant. The whole question of where error comes from in a mechanistic universe is recursive. If there is error, then mechanism is failing, and it therefore cannot be perfect. There must be a difference between the ideal of mechanism and the empirical fact of its expression…but how can that difference be generated by ideal mechanism?

The answer to that question is part of what the concept of subjective inflation might provide. De-Orchestrated Subjective Inflation (De-Orch SI*) amounts to the birth of privilege. The privilege to separate from the totality for some period to develop preferences and to care about those preferences. Subjectivity is a proprietary sense of dominion which allows the opportunity for extension – extension of feeling, knowing, doing, and being. This is felt as a kind of radius of involvement, or perhaps a tunnel of experiential inertia. For biological creatures, this inflation may be tied directly to cytoskeletal structure of microtubules. The tunnel is one of orientation and presence, like a cursor, which separates aesthetic dipoles such as here and there, now and then, self and other, etc. The greater the privilege, the more rich and intricate the appreciation of the contrasts can become. Each inflation builds on histories of previous inflations (which ties into a Morphic Resonance or Akashic Record kind of schema) as well as projecting inspirational images into the future.


Global Workspace Theory

Continuing with the theme of reversal, the complement to Bernard J. Baars Global Workspace Theory might be something like “Specialized Instrument Theory”. There is a lot of truth to the GWT idea of consciousness as a receiver/distributor for information, however there is an equal case to be made for consciousness as tool which is used to creatively shape itself into various images and ideas, and to impose those aesthetic forms outwardly. GWT conceives of consciousness as working memory and sensation appearing in an empty/dark theater, but I would extend the metaphor to see the theater also as a structure which protects the local awareness from the outside world. The theater of consciousness can only provide a movie if it first temporarily encloses the audience and screen in sensory isolation. Our phenomenal stream of consciousness connects the dots of sentience, but I suggest that the dots themselves are the tips of icebergs which float on an ocean of amnesia…an amnesia which hides the deeper connection of all dots to the universal history of experience. We have come full circle back to the ‘whorlicle’ model.

Unlike a theater, consciousness does not only lull us into a spectacular solipsism, but connects us directly to a potentially eternal realism and to the capacity to tell the difference. In addition to being a screen for interior simulation, the Mercurial screen of consciousness can be a mirror or a window onto truth. The truth can be fashioned through a pen or weapon, through an idea, image, or symbol. Consciousness is a meta-linguistic, meta-semiotic agency which reports on itself as well as its view of its ‘others’.


What’s Next?

It seems like this project is at a crossroads. It could be the end, or the end of Part I, but it feels like the stage of adding profusely to the MSR thesis is winding down, and in its wake, some clarity about how it might fit in with other theories. I have tried to give a few examples here of what makes MSR different from theories which focus on outside-in views of consciousness, and how they might be married with their opposites to provide a more complete and meaningful picture. I will consider it successful if everyone can find something in it to piss them off and if at least one person is inspired to re-evaluate the totality of existence in some tormented insomniac revelation. I apologize for the density and the high level of noise in what I have been writing, but at least its out here in some form. In the spirit of Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary, I say to my critics that I am even stupider and crazier than you think, and that you should spend your time elsewhere.  Everyone gets the Multisense Realism that they deserve!


*This sounds like I’m being satirical in calling it that, but I’m trying to show the syzygy.

  1. Eyvind
    August 24, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    That Hilbert’s 10th problem was answered negatively does not imply that “no general algorithm can exist to solve Fermat’s last theorem”, as stated above.

    Hilbert’s 10th problem asks whether there exists an algorithm that can take ANY Diophantine equation as input, and which replies “yes” if the equation has a solution and “no” if the equation does not have a solution. Matiyasevich showed that there is no such algorithm, but that does not mean that there cannot exist algorithms which for SOME SPECIFIC Diophantine equations correctly answer the question whether they have solutions or not.

    In some cases it is easy to see that such an algorithm exists. For example, there exists an algorithm which correctly decides whether a Diophantine equation of the form 2x – n = 0 has a solution: The algorithm simply has to check whether the parameter n is even or odd, and replies “yes” if n is even, and “no” if n is odd.

    When Andrew Wiles proved Fermat’s last theorem and showed that the Diophantine equations x^n + y^n = z^n do not have any solutions among the positive integers when the parameter n is greater than 2, he at the same time showed that there exists an algorithm which correctly answers the questions whether THOSE SPECIFIC Diophantine equations have solutions. But that algorithm does not work for ALL Diophantine equations, just like our algorithm above (which given n decides whether 2x – n = 0 has a solution).

    However, this of course does not mean that Wiles followed some algorithm when he proved Fermat’s last theorem. But that is equally true for almost any new mathematics.

    • August 25, 2015 at 2:11 am

      I think that the example is more of an ‘intuition pump’ (in the best sense of the term) that Tagg used to make the point that mathematicians don’t use math alone to solve problems. I understand what you’re saying, but I think that Tagg’s view has merit also, which I read as excluding the power to recognize a specific algorithm. In other words, part of what the mathematician can do that math can’t is to tell the difference between a specific equation in a class and the general class of equations to which it belongs. I could be wrong, but I think that all computationalist theories of consciousness ultimately fail by succumbing to the pathetic fallacy. It’s far too easy for computer scientists to project their own powers of common sense onto formal systems which have only the second-hand sense that has been recorded in them.

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