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Visual Walkthrough of Multisense Realism Cosmology

Here is a step by step look at Multisense Realism cosmology. In contrast to physicalism or computationalism, which assume a cosmos where unconscious phenomena such as matter or information exist against a background of nothingness, MSR (Multi Sense Realism) assumes a cosmos where it is impossible for nothingness to exist. Physicalism and computationalism see nothingness as always being present beyond the boundaries of whatever thing exists. Outside of the event horizon of the big bang would be nothingness. If a universal machine breaks, it would remain inert forever.

MSR reasons that since there is no nothingness each and every given thing returns to the totality eventually. The whole idea of nothingness as a metaphysical default is replaced with an ‘everythingness’ of a particluar kind. The everythingness discussed here is not an exotic supernatural theory, but a logical extension of this premise: our local experience is a limitation imposed on a totality of experience rather than an addition to a universe or nothingness which precedes experience.

Under this view, there is no ‘nothing’, and there is no ‘being’ or ‘existence’, there are only greater and lesser degrees to which ‘everything’ is presented as these or those things, and all things are experiences. This ‘everything’ is not a static category containing fixed possibilities, but an irreducibly creative and participatory phenomenon.

The idea here is that we can use the self-transcendent properties of consciousness to understand that consciousness itself cannot be transcended. An individual may transcend their own individuality, just as the sense of sight can provide the functional loss of sight through the visible image of total blackness. By analogy, we can understand that the cosmos can present absolute chaos or nothingness as an experienced quality with itself, but the capacity to experience and present experiences cannot be founded in chaos or non-sense. The actuality of sense can only escaped in a qualified way, as a possibility which is suggested qualitatively through sense experiences that are limited by duration or location. Nature isn’t simply a realizer of possibilities or potentials, it is a creative performance of experiential what-hows, where-whens, and which-whys that are proprietary and unique as well as generic and repeating.

1. In the first image, Sight is shown in the context of other senses.

sight_in_context

Insight One: Note that blindness is shown outside of the circle of sight and that black and white are shown within the sight circle as the taijitu (yin yang) symbol. The intent here is to illustrate that while total darkness can stand in for blindness for all practical purposes, darkness is still a quality of seeing. Darkness is visible and requires the sense of visibility (sight) to exist. Absolute blindness* can be neither light nor dark. It is, like the view you have now through the back of your head, simply not accessible.

Consequence of Insight One: If only one sense were available, there would be no way to get outside of it, so it would not be conceivable as an entity. If we were born with only the sense of sight, and could not feel, think, move, know, etc, then for there would be no ‘us’, and there would only be visible things: images, colors, visible patterns and shapes. Sight can only be conceived of because we have other senses to compare it to, including access to a conceptual sense within which such a comparison can take place. The conceptual sense or thinking is a special sense-making or meta-sensory kind of sense which we have access to, but it not synonymous with ‘us’. We think, but we are more than thinkers. We feel, we experience, and we experience ourselves as a character in that experience. This meta-sensory kind of sense is, for us, synonymous with human subjectivity, however the MSR view is that it is ultimately no different than any other kind of sense experience in which other sense experiences are nested. The feeling of being ourselves is, regardless of being a feeling of “having” other feelings, is itself also only a ‘feeling’.

Another consequence of Insight One is to apply the relation of darkness, light, and sight as a direct analogy to the relation of personal unconsciousness, personal consciousness, and consciousness in general. By doing this, we can understand that personal unconsciousness is in only a conscious experience in which a loss of personal consciousness is inferred to have occurred in our past. That is not the same as the absence of all consciousness. Our death is not the same as the absence of all life, just the appearance of such an absence from within another life. MSR proposes that trans-personal experience is the sole underlying fact and fabric of nature, so that even the absence of all biological life would not be the absence of all experience. Life is a kind of experience, but experience is more fundamental than what we call ‘life’.

2. The next image should be used as a direct analogy to the first. The label “Our Life” refers not to our body or ourself-at-this-moment, but to the totality of our experience as individual human beings. “Our Life” is to Sight as the perceptions and events of our lives are to colors and visible shapes.

Sight -> Colors and visible patterns
Our Life -> Personal percpetual experiences

Our life includes various personal experiences, including experiences of gaining and losing degrees of access to that personal experience. It is like the how brightness and contrast use the degree of visibility as a visible quality. Our personal life does not, however, include any experience of its complete and eternal cessation, just as no picture can make blindness visible. This is good news: In order for death to be eternal, it cannot ever be experienced personally. If eternal death exists, it can only ever be inferred within life, and the closest we can ever come to that would be to feel that we are about to die. For death to truly exist in any personal way, it cannot be eternal. It can only exist as an experience in which transpersonal consciousness presents an end or transition out of personal consciousness.

life_in_context

Continuing with the analogy between the first and second diagrams “our death” is to “our life” as “blindness” is to “sight”. Instead of other senses beyond the central scope (circle) of sight, there are in the above second diagram other life experiences beyond the scope of our life. Awake and asleep take the place of black and white, where ‘asleep’ is an informal way of referring to our transpersonal experience-of-having-lost-experience, or personal experience of inferring a loss of personal experience (i.e. dreamless sleep, general anesthesia, coma, etc). Dreams perhaps can be seen like the white dot in the middle of the black yin region of asleep. A hint that even within our unconsciousness there is access to the totality of experience, albeit contracted and isolated. To extend that metaphor further, the black dot in the middle of the ‘awake’ yang region could be the awareness of the blind spots in our waking consciousness, from the Jungian shadow to the cognitive and perceptual gaps that scientific study reveals.

sight_in_context

life_in_context

3. Up until this point in the walk through, all that has been described is uncontroversial. Nothing new has been invented or proposed, except the particular graphic arrangement and explanation of how commonly understood phenomena relate to each other. In this third diagram, new, hypothetical elements have been added within the central circle of “Our Life”. These black ovals containing ‘cow’, ‘cell’, and ‘tree’ signify that the presence of things in our life which we can see and touch are only a surface of a larger experience which we cannot access directly. The green lines or rays are intended to suggest that the relation between what we experience as a cow is actually a perceptual reduction and inversion of some aspect of ‘cow life’ which is available to our life.

2life_in_context

We see and touch a cow. We assume that the cow we see and touch is experiencing a cow’s life. The proposition being considered here, is that this is not the case. From an MSR perspective, it is not the cow that we see and touch which is experiencing a life. What we see, hear, and touch is a walking, mooing, stinking cow shaped body that we call a cow. Just as our own walking, talking, stinking body is not what lives our personal life, we should flip our orientation on how we understand all bodies and objects if we want to be scientific about it. Rather than seeing an animal’s body as the source of its life and experience, we should see it body as a presentation of how one life experience overlaps and underlaps with another. The body is what is left when the two perceptual filters that share a common perceptual language of touch interfere with each other. It’s a mask that presents as a visible-tangible object or body within our visual and tactile perception, which is within our life.

This is a dramatic departure from other popular models of consciousness. Computationalist and physicalist models of consciousness consider directly experienced qualities emergent phantasms. They are thought to be somehow generated by the brain or function of certain kinds of hypercomputing machines, of which the brain is one. Eastern mysticism similarly conceives of the universe that we experience perceptually as maya, an ‘illusion’. The MSR approach considers another possibility, which is that realism and illusion themselves are only experiential qualities, not ontological facts. In other words, the naive perception that we have of the world is truly much smaller than the totality of all perception, but it is just as real as anything ever could be. There is no illusion, no dream, except in the context of a greater ‘dream’ in which the previous one is dis-illusioned. Every dream is reality until a greater dream promotes itself to reality by demoting the previous reality to a dream.

There may be an absolute final dream/reality, and that could be God, or the Universe, but if emergent/illusory views of qualia are true, we can have no access to it. Under physicalism or computationalism, any resemblence to ‘reality’ is taken on faith that some of our experienced illusion happens to correspond with what has never been and can never be experienced in any way. Even the existence of the brain itself, and matter, would have to be acknowledged to be mere phantasmal figments of representation. When pressed, it must be acknowledged that our faith in the intensely convincing realism of matter and the brain has no scientific basis. We can be and usually are equally convinced by the realism of dream worlds also. It is reasonble to conclude, I think, that if any part of our experience is unreal, and its unreality is untestable, then we have to doubt realism itself in order to be think about reality realistically. Since, however, we cannot doubt our own ability to doubt (as Descartes pointed out), we can open the door to all of our direct sense and sense-making experience as being genuine in their own context. Reality in the absolute sense is that realism is a byproduct of multiple, overlapping levels of sense and sense making experience.

To sum up the analogy out so far:

Thesis: Sights (colors, brightness, images, visible shapes)
Qualified antithesis: Darkness (the color of blackness that functions as blindness)
Absolute antithesis: Blindness (the invisible negation of all colors etc, including blackness)

Thesis: Our Life (personal perceptions, sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts, places, things)
Qualified antithesis: Personal unconsciousness (dreamless sleep, near death experience)
Absolute antithesis: Our death (the unexperienced cessation of our life)
When it comes to the big picture of all of existence, an antithesis can only follow a thesis, and if consciousness/awareness/sense/qualia exists, it can only be the thesis.

4. If we now go back to the original diagram on sight and import the objects (cow, tree, cell) from the third diagram into it, we can see how sight, combined with cognitive sense, can be used to symbolize extra-visual sense experiences. Without the cognitive sense, it would be impossible to draw a picture of sound, or touch, or blindness. We can only draw pictures that are limited to what can be seen. In order for a picture to be perceived as a picture of something else, we have to have access to a mind-like sense making capacity where various separately siloed experiences can be associated semiotically. If we have heard sound through human ears, we can see an image and recognize it as a picture of a man holding his ears.

sight_of_other_senses

We make a semiotic connection between various types of experience that make up our life, but that connection is not revealed as such. Instead, the semiotic connection is presented, rather miraculously, as a united perceptual gestalt. These pixels for example are presented as irreducible gestalts called letters, and the letters are read as irreducible gestalts called words. The gestalts do not appear to be composed of their parts, and indeed the gestalts cannot be justified as functionally necessary, but rather all gestalts are either wholes or parts of whatever perceptual context is elevated at the moment.

5. Finally, in this fifth diagram of the walk through, we see that the lime green color used previously to connote the circle of a given scope of sense now fills the diagram completely.

totality_map

This is to suggest the Absolute Totality is not an emptiness that consciousness projects experiences onto, but rather the opposite – consciousness carves experiences out of itself by modulating its own scopes or degrees of sensitivity. The labels refer not to objects like stars, planets, or cells, but to experiences on the astrophysical, geological, or biological scale of time. Time and scale are understood to be divergent properties of this nesting and modulation of sensitivity. Each shell/sheath/holon is not a physical domain but a temporally formatted ‘gear’ which expands or contracts access to the totality. Within any given shell, other shells are presented as indirect experiences, such as static objects, or barely perceptible influences such as intuition or synchronicity. Each holon, like the Net of Indra, reflects its own limitations back to itself in the form of experiencing limited versions of the other holons. Our life does not last for billions of years, so we perceive experiences that do occur on such a slow scale as objects like planets, stars, and galaxies. Our perception is too slow to perceive experiences occurring on the subatomic level, so we have to imagine them according to mathematical patterns we infer from observing the behavior of instruments that we can see and touch directly.

What has been described here is not as complex as it may seem. It’s really a simple application of the common sense idea shown in the first diagram, that while darkness ‘rhymes’ with blindness, and is functionally identical to it, there is an aesthetic difference between blindness and the seeing absolute darkness which is more fundmental. All that we have to do to understand the MSR model is to carry this view of how sense can be transcended indirectly through another sense, but all sense can never be transcended absolutely. The rest of the MSR metaphysics fall out naturally from there.

A sense-based view of nature can accommodate experiences of the universe as both a unintentional mechanical process, and as an intentional creation of God, and as God him/itself. It can accommodate experiences of a life where one is certain that the universe is exclusively one of those three things and then one can also experience becoming certain that they were wrong. The only thing that the sense based, MSR view does not accommodate is eternally non-experiential phenomena such as ‘information’ or ‘physical matter’ that is independent of all experienced qualities. Those kinds of ideas refer to something that would truly be supernatural and impossible. They are, like the worlds drawn by M.C. Escher, based on importing suggestions and associations of tangible experiences into a less tangible sense modality – vision.

sight_in_context

life_in_context

totality_map

Experience is not a hologram, but worlds imagined through the conceptual lenses of theoretical physics or cognitive science are. By recognizing that the absence of direct experience is only an idea within a specialized, sense-making type of sense experience, we can find our way out of the mad labyrinth that has been set built through modern and ancient systems of impossible metaphysics. The scientific revolution gave us one piece to the puzzle, in showing us that the world we experience objectively can give us more truth than we can experience and imagine subjectively. Multisense Realism is an effort to provide another puzzle piece – a scientific skepticism of both objectivity and subjectivity which resolves the hard problem of consciousness by proposing that the totality necessarily includes and is greater than either category of experience, but cannot include the eternal absence of experience.

Craig Weinberg 6/22/2018

*absolute blindness may not correspond to actual human experiences of blindness which may or may not include some visible phenomena. Human blindness is an impairment, whereas absolute blindness would be the possible only in a universe in which sight had never become possible.

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