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Keyword: ‘superposition of the absolute’

Superposition of the Absolute

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Superposition of the Absolute – The concept of superposition has enjoyed wide acceptance on the microcosmic level of quantum physics, but the idea of the Totality of the universe having a kind of multistable nature has not yet been widely considered as far as I know. The superposition of a wavefunction is tolerated because it helps us justify what we have measured, but any escalation of this kind of merged possibility to the macrocosm is strictly forbidden. Under PIP, the entire cosmos can be understood to be perpetually in superposition, or perhaps meta-superposition. Any event can be meaningful or meaningless according to one’s interpretation, but some events are more insistent upon meaningful interpretations than others.

Coincidence and pattern invariably count as evidence of the Absolute, whether the Absolute is regarded as mechanical law, divine will, or existential indifference. In this way, the insistence or existence of pattern can be understood as the wavefunction collapse of eternity. This is hard to grasp since eternity is the opposite of instantaneous, so that the ‘collapse’ is occurring in some sense across all time, weaving through it as a mysterious thread that pulls every participant forward into their own knowledge and delusion. On the Absolute scale, every lifetime is a single moment that echoes forever, and the echo of the forever-now into nested subroutines of smaller and smaller ‘nows’.

On the super-personal level (super-private/transpersonal/collective), when coincidence seems to become something more (synchronicity, precognition, or destiny), the collapse can be understood as a collapse on multiple nested frames at once. “Then it all made sense”, Eureka!, I hit bottom. etc. The multiplicity of conflicting possibilities can, for a moment, pop into a single focus that will resonate for a lifetime.

On the quantum level, probability is used in a particular way to explain behaviors of phenomena to which we attribute no intentional choice. Einstein’s famous objection ‘God does not play dice’ perhaps echoes a deep intuition that people have always had about the way that nature reflects a partially hidden order. This expectation is perhaps the common thread of all three epistemological branches – the theological, the philosophical, and the scientific. The value of prediction is particularly powerful for both scientific and theocratic authority as evidence of positive connection with either natural law or divine will. Science demands theories predict successfully, while religion demands prophetic promise. Under the Superposition of the Absolute, the ultimate natural law can be seen to become more flexible and porous, and the localization of divine will can be seen to have limitations and natural constraints. If PIP is to make a prediction itself, it would be to suggest that all wavefunctions share the identical, nested, non-well-founded superposition, one which can be understood as sense or perceptual relativity itself.

Superpositioned Aion Hypothesis

August 3, 2013 2 comments

aionankh
Above, an ankh appropriated from here, superimposed on the MSR diagram. I have included Sense and Motive, reflecting the circuitous, super-personal nature of the Aion/Eternity (collective/Absolute sense) and the cross of what Bennett calls ‘Time’ (I call personal sensory awareness) vs what he calls Hyparxis (“an ableness-to-be”, aka motive participation).

“The English philosopher John G. Bennett posited a six-dimensional Universe with the usual three spatial dimensions and three time-like dimensions that he called time, eternity and hyparxis. Time is the sequential chronological time that we are familiar with. The hypertime dimensions called eternity and hyparxis are said to have distinctive properties of their own. Eternity could be considered cosmological time or timeless time. Hyparxis is supposed to be characterised as an ableness-to-be and may be more noticeable in the realm of quantum processes.” – source

 

  • Aion and Gaia with four children, perhaps the personified seasons, mosaic from a Roman villa in Sentinum, first half of the 3rd century BCE, (Munich Glyptothek, Inv. W504)

The word aeon, also spelled eon, originally means “life” or “being”, though it then tended to mean “age”, “forever” or “for eternity”. It is a Latin transliteration from the koine Greek word (ho aion), from the archaic (aiwon). In Homer it typically refers to life or lifespan. Its latest meaning is more or less similar to the Sanskrit word kalpa and Hebrew word olam. A cognate Latin word aevum or aeuum for “age” is present in words such as longevity and mediaeval. source

 

The universe seems to want to be understood both in two contradictory presentations:

1. As the timeless eternity within which experiences are rationed out in recombinations of irreducible elements.

2. As the creative flow of authentically novel experiences, whose recombination is impossible.

If we can swallow the idea of superposition on the microcosmic level, why not the astrophysical-cosmological level? Whether the universe seems to be gyrating in a direction that paints your life in a meaningful and integrated light, or it has you struggling to swim against a sea of chaotic scorns is as universal an oscillator of probabilities as any quantum wavefunction.

These fateful cyclings of our personal aion are reflected also in the micro and macro of the Aion at large . With the unintentional dice game of quantum mechanics flickering in and out of existence far beneath us, and fate’s private wheel of fortune seemingly spinning in and out of our favor intentionally just beyond us, the ultimate superposition is that of the eternal and the new.

How can the universe be a relativistic body in which all times and spaces are objectively present, and an expanding moment of being which not only perpetually imagines new universes, but imagines imagination as well? Why not apply superposition?

“In physics and systems theory, the superposition principle, also known as superposition property, states that, for all linear systems, the net response at a given place and time caused by two or more stimuli is the sum of the responses which would have been caused by each stimulus individually. So that if input A produces response X and input B produces response Y then input (A + B) produces response (X + Y).” source

The universe is generic and proprietary, eternally closed but momentarily open and eternally open but momentarily closed. It/we are always changing in some sense, but remaining the same in every other. Within the Aion, all opposites are superpositioned – bothness, neitherness, and only-one-and-not-the-other ness.

Critique of A Good Idea

July 18, 2022 Leave a comment

Here are my (unfortunately critical but well-intentioned) comments on “Electromagnetism’s Bridge Across the Explanatory Gap: How a Neuroscience/Physics Collaboration Delivers Explanation Into All Theories of Consciousness“, in response to some tweets.

I think that the paper does come up with good plans of action for experimentation, and I take no issue with those. I agree that we should make artificial neurons. I agree that we do experiments that will tease out the most primitive signs of electromagetism emerging from more fundamental physics, and I agree we should think of them as hints about how consciousness provides typical human modes of awareness. My disagreements are with the assumptions made in getting there.

I fully acknowledge that my disagreements are made from my own conjectures and I expect most audiences to consider those conjectures ‘crackpot’ ideas prior to even attempting to understand them fully. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest. My only hope is that there might be some trace left of my ideas on the internet in future decades that could help theorists close improve on or disprove my many hypotheses.

From the start, the issue of consciousness is framed in relation to both First Person qualities of experience and to the sense of their being “inside” of what is being observed as brain and body behaviors.

“Observational correlates are demonstrated to be intrinsically very unlikely to explain or lead to a fundamental principle underlying the strongly emergent 1st-person-perspective (1PP) invisibly stowed away inside them. “

I submit that this is already a rhetorically loaded framing that does not consider the possibility that the sense of privacy and interiority we commonly (but not always) experience is not any more fundamental than the sense of publicity and exteriority, even though those distinctions are widely reported to be transcended in certain states of consciousness.

Nobody has ever seen a first-person (1PP) experience ’emerge’ from a brain in any way. What we have observed is a correlation appearance between experiences with intangible or trans-tangible qualities and experiences of tangible appearances of changes in the brain.

I think that I should break that awkward sentence down further.

What we have observed (scientists, doctors, patients with brain injuries, etc)

is a correlation appearance (meaning we see a brain doing something and we hear reports of something else, but they appear to happen at the same time). There is no evidence of causation, no mechanism by which a brain activity transforms into another quality like color, flavor, or privacy. There is only a (veridical) appearance of temporal synchronization.

between experiences with intangible or trans-tangible qualities (I’m trying here to refer to the qualitative phenomena of nature that we tend to associate with and assume arise only within “1PP” privacy, but to explicitly avoid jumping to that logically unnecessary conclusion. I think the relevant thing about feelings, thoughts, flavors, etc is not that they are private but that they are NOT tangible. They are not touchable presences with geometric shape. They can be intangible concepts or phenomena that I call percepts (sensations, feelings, colors, etc) that are not completely intangible or conceptual but cannot be reduced non-destructively to geometric coordinates.)

and experiences of tangible appearances of changes in the brain. (I’m trying to emphasize here that regardless of how real and objective the brain appears, its appearance does depend on the modalities of sight and touch used to detect it. Those appearances cannot be said to be more fundamental than any other appearances that tend to appear to be ‘1PP’).

In consideration of that, I think that it is just as likely that the seemingly third person and seemingly first person qualities of experience ’emerge’, or perhaps better ‘diverge’ from a larger holarchy of conscious experience.

“The brain’s specialized complexity in EM field expression distinguishes it from other organs (such as the liver and the heart) that are also EM field entities from the atomic level up. The consequence is that there is only one natural, fundamental physics correlate of P-Consciousness: EM fields as “electromagnetic correlates of consciousness””

This seems to contradict itself. It is saying that it is the complexity of EM that makes the brain more special than, say the EM object that is the large intestine, or the body as a whole…but then the assertion points to EM fields rather than the specific property of complexity as being correlates of consciousness. I point to single-celled organisms that seem to be no less conscious than human bodies do, but which have no neurons. As the paper goes on to say:

 “…for all practical purposes in the science of P-Consciousness, we are electromagnetic field objects in our entirety. As is a car, a computer, lunch, a pile of dirt, a tree, your dog, steam, and the air we breathe.” 

So which is it? If everything is electromagnetism then is everything conscious to some degree (what I call promiscuous panpsychism)?, or is the brain conscious because it is so electromagnetically complex? If the latter then the EM aspect seems all but irrelevant.

“For example, atoms form molecules and they jointly aggregate to form cellular organelles. These jointly form whole cells, and so forth.”

Here again, the position of smallism is assumed and the top-down influence is disqualified without consideration. In reality, when we observe how organisms reproduce, they divide as whole cells. We can infer that the first cells were the result of molecules accidentally persisting in more complex collections that would lead to lipid membranes and prokaryotes but our efforts to synthesize cells from ‘scratch’ have thus far been somewhat suspiciously unsuccessful. Our inferences of small-to-large evolution by natural selection may be a huge mistake.

We have not even attempted to factor in the lensing effect of the bubble of our own perceptual limits, and its role in perpetuating an anthropocentric worldview. We have not attempted to estimate the possible consequences to our thinking of a universe in terms that assume our apprehension of human consciousness as the apex form of awareness or sole form of super-awareness. We have not factored in the possibility of timescale relativity and taken five minutes to imagine how much more conscious something like the atmosphere of a planet would assume if we viewed centuries of it in time lapse equivalent to an nMRI video.

In reality, the evolution of forms may proceed not from small to large and young to old, but may at the very minimum, progress from both top and bottom, past and “future”. We may be living in a Natural Containment Hierarchy that is not merely scaled by physical sizes of bodies, but by lensings of perceived causality, aka ‘time’. I have made some efforts to diagram this:

We should not assume that our typical, 21st century, Western conditioned, mid-life, waking consciousness is the universal authority on the ontology of time/causality. The smallest and largest scales of the hierarchy/holarchy may be more unified with each other than with the holons at the center of the hierarchy.

Our willingness to ignore our self-centering view of the containment hierarchy seems to suggest to me that the possibility of an intrinsic lensing property in the way that conscious experiences are diffracted from the totality. The sense of being in the center of the containment hierarchy may be like other types of relativistic frames of reference rather than an objective reflection of the cosmos as it is without our lensing of it, and of ourselves.

I propose that the anthropocentric positioning of ourselves in the containment hierarchy should be considered as a superposition of *both* the self-centered and the self-negating perspectives. In other words, we see ourselves and our lives as midway between Planck scales and cosmological scales both because it is actually true, and because it must always seem true.

By analogy, we find that both the geocentric/flat Earth perspective and the heliocentric round Earth perspective are equally significant to understanding human history, but neither could be predicted as emerging from the other. In the same kind of way, the uncanny similarity in the apparent size of the solar disc and lunar disk in the sky, combined with the happenstance of Earth having only one such natural satellite, makes for a rather fine-tuned condition that made millennia of religious worldviews possible and dominant still for some even in the face of the obvious evidence of the post-Copernican perspective.

What I see is a universe where such fine-tuned superpositions are themselves fine-tuned superpositions in between coincidence and teleology. The coincidences are both coincidental and more than coincidental, and picking one perspective or the other can seem to have cascading ‘choose your own adventure’ or ambiguous image flip consequences. The universe seems to support delusions and solipsism for an unreasonable number of people for an unreasonable amount of time. In my understanding, this property of the universe and consciousness is profoundly important, although that estimation of significance is itself tantamount to choosing the teleological-aesthetic (solipsistic at the extreme) side of the superposition of the absolute over the mechanistic-coincidental (“nilipsistic” at the extreme) side.

“If you deleted (in the sense of “de-organized”) any layer below M, for example, the entire hierarchy disappears from that layer upwards. For example, deleting all atomic particles deletes atoms, molecules, cells, and so forth, all the way to the containing environment. In these cases, none of the deletions eliminate the lower levels, including sub-atomic particles, space, and so forth. This fact reveals the existence of a powerful vertically acting system of constraints that is not within the ambit of any individual scientific discipline.”

Not necessarily. By analogy, if we deleted all characters used in written language, and all phonemes used in verbal language, that does not mean that all human thought and communication would be deleted. All that would happen is that humans would immediately begin inventing new language using those same two sense modalities or other sense modalities if they were also deleted. In our theories, I think that we should not be blinded by the bias known as “smallism” and “big” cosmopsychic theories should be considered equally viable.

“Contemporary philosophers tend to assume that fundamental things exist at the micro-level. Coleman (2006) calls this “smallism”: the view that facts about big things are grounded in facts about little things, e.g., the table exists and is the way it is because the particles making it up are related in certain extremely complicated ways. However, the work of Jonathan Schaffer (2010) has brought to prominence an alternative picture of reality. According to the view Schaffer calls “priority monism”, facts about little things are grounded in facts about big things. The table’s atoms exist and are the way they are because the table exists and is the way it is; and all things ultimately exist and are the way they are because of certain facts about the universe as a whole. For the priority monist there is one and only one fundamental thing: the universe.

If we combine priority monism with constitutive panpsychism we get:
Constitutive cosmopsychism—The view that all facts are grounded in/realized by/constituted of consciousness-involving facts at the cosmic-level.

We can also envisage non-constitutive forms of cosmopsychism. On a standard form of layered emergentism (discussed above), human and animal minds are causally dependent on consciousness-involving micro-level facts whilst being fundamental entities in their own right; on the cosmopsychist analogue, human and animal minds are causally dependent on the conscious cosmos whilst being fundamental entities in their own right.”

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/

continuing…

“Layer [M+1] is where the EM field system impressed on space by brain tissue acquires its fully detailed form, including all properties inherited by the constraints, drives, and properties of the deeper layers”

Here I propose that EM fields may not in fact be ‘impressed on space’ at all, and are not even ‘fields’ in an ontological sense. My understanding suggests that electromagnetic activity is irreducibly sensorimotive, and that the inference of fields is based on early methods of detection, measurement, and logical deduction which have become obsolete with the advent of Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and familiarity with psi and other exotic states of consciousness.

The universe may be a conscious experience ‘all the way down’ and all the way up, with experiences on any given timescale lensing experiences on distant timescales in objectivized (“nilipsistic“) terms (as fundamental forces, mathematical logic, and tangible topologies, for example). Having read some of Maxwell and Faraday’s original papers defining EM in terms of fields, I am struck with the distinct impression that the conclusions they made would not have been that way if they had access to QM observations like entanglement and contextuality. I think that the field metaphor was a 19th century heuristic that continues to be indispensable, but not because it is an ontological fact. 

We now note that the transition from strong to weak emergence is a fundamental feature of the process that science experienced when deconstructing the natural biosphere into the layered descriptions shown in Figure 2B. In Figure 2B this process has been labeled as “reduction.” Before the science was completed, every progression in scientific understanding started as a mystery: a question unanswered. Molecules were mysteriously related to atoms. Atoms were mysteriously emergent from what turned out to be their subatomic constituents. Higher up, we find the mystery of the strongly emergent flight of bumblebees, which turned out to be a weakly-emergent property of turbulence. 

I see this as a popular, but nonetheless dangerous and seductive fallacy. It may be true that the history of science can be seen to have repeatedly corralled seemingly strongly emergent phenomena and tamed them into weakly emergent complications, this cannot be presumed to extend from the tangible to the intangible or trans-tangible under that same logic.

This is due to the fact that atoms, molecules, bumblebee bodies, and turbulence are *uncontroversially tangible*. There was never any question but that these phenomena are observed as tangible forms moving in public space. There is in all cases an infinitely wide explanatory gap between all such tangible objects and any such intangible or trans-tangible phenomena as sensations, feelings, perceptions, awareness, colors, flavors, sounds, ideas, symbols, references, interpretations, themes, archetypes, caring, valuing, and on and on.

No amount of moving particles can ‘add up’ to anything other than other groupings or shapes of moving particles without appealing to strong emergence or promissory materialism. There is no comparable problem with particles adding up to shapes such as molecules, surfaces, cells, bodies, planets, etc. They are all 3d topological presences that can be comfortably assigned causal closure that is limited to other 3d topological phenomena (forces, fields, laws of geometry). Things like forces and fields, while superficially ‘intangible’ (and therefore must be imagined to be somehow “imprinted” on the vacuum of space or inevitable consequences of statistics on cosmological constants or standard model, etc) are nonetheless exhaustively describable in tangible terms. They are spatial regions within which some effect is observed to occur.

This kind of in silico empirical approach is simply missing from the science. No instances of in silico-equivalent EM field replication can be found. Artificial neurons created this way could help in understanding EM field expression by excitable cell tissue.

I agree with this. In order to proceed with understanding the Easy Problem of our own neurology, we should be creating artificial neurons.

As the science has unfolded, a single, dominant and promising theory of this kind has emerged. It is the “Information Integration Theory (IIT) of Consciousness” by Tononi (20042008)Balduzzi and Tononi (2008)Oizumi et al. (2014), and Tononi et al. (2016).

That may be true in the sense that there has not been a single competing theory that has been discussed as much in the media coverage of academic discussion in recent years, but I have not encountered many who see IIT as especially promising in reality. At best, some future descendant of IIT might provide some useful indications for determining whether someone is likely to come out of a coma or something, but even that utility may be completely misguided. There are many good critiques of IIT that can be found online:

“In summary, IIT fails to consistently assign consciousness to a system, because the definition is based on hypotheticals, which by definition are not instantiated by the system. Deep down, the troubles arise from the circularity of the definition of information as reduction of uncertainty. Uncertainty refers to a prior state of knowledge, but the notion of knowledge for the subject is never defined. In practice, the knowledge underlying the reduction of uncertainty is the knowledge of the observer who formalizes scenarios and quantifies probabilities of events that the system itself has never lived.”

 http://romainbrette.fr/notes-on-consciousness-ix-why-integrated-information-theory-fails

continuing…

From a C1 perspective, this position is rather hard to understand, because C1 tells us there is only one substrate that we know delivers P-Consciousness: EM fields organized in the form of a brain made of atoms.

By this reasoning, only our own personal brain is known to deliver P-Consciousness also. Because we know from our own conscious experience how limited our empathy and theory of mind can be even for members of our own species, there is no reason to assume that P-Consciousness has any more connection to humans or brains or electromagnetism than it does to ‘complexity’ in general, or to biology, or to certain scales of material accumulation.

I see these assertions of brains as critical to understanding consciousness as based on uncritical anthropocentrism. I expect that our own brain is especially suited to our own kind of conscious experience, but really the brain of any species would seem equally appropriate if we did not have the human brain as an example. The intestines or the immune system, cell nucleus, cytoskeleton, nucleic acids, and many other complicated structures and processes would seem equally hospitable.

GRT focuses on the Oscillatory Correlates of Consciousness (OCC), where the particular “oscillations” most relevant to P-Consciousness are those arising from the brain’s endogenous EM field system 

What we need to know though is what is doing the ‘correlating’? There might be all kinds of correlates of consciousness we can find – maybe high dimensional analysis of gross physiological indicators like skin resistance and blood pressure could be used to plot out some correlation too. Good stuff for the Easy Problem and medicine, but does nothing for the Hard Problem or disproving cosmopsychism.

The abovementioned EM account offered by JohnJoe McFadden is the wave-mechanical approach in his “Conscious Electromagnetic Information” (CEMI) field theory (McFadden, 2002a,b2006200720132020). “I therefore examine the proposition that the brain’s EM field is consciousness and that information held in distributed neurons is integrated into a single conscious EM field: the CEMI field” (McFadden, 2002a).

We have the same interaction problem here, with the theory that information can be somehow ‘held’ in physical topologies we call neurons begs the question of physicalism. As far as I can see, all physical effects can be explained as statistically inevitable recombinatory variations on geometric *formations* and require no such things as information, signals, signs, etc to do what they appear to do. The correlation is smuggled in retrospectively from conscious experience rather than arrived at prospectively from physics.

Our proposition is that the standard model’s scope of scientific deliverables, and the scientific behavior that produces them, is to be expanded to include (ii). We now know that EM field, as depicted by the particular (i) 3PP “laws of appearances”

Sure, I agree with that and have proposed the same kind of thing. EM should be understood to be a single Sensory-Motive-Electro-Magnetic phenomenon. That isn’t the whole story though, but it’s an important start. I have tried to diagram it early on in my Multisense Realism efforts:

let us assume that (ii) involves abstractions describing a universe made of a large collection of a single kind of primitive structural element, say X. This “X” could be perhaps regarded as an “event” or “information mote” or “energy quantum” or all these simultaneously. Its true identity is not our job to specify here. 

A seemingly pragmatic approach, but unfortunately I think that there is no way to work from X without understanding what X is in this case. I think that it is our primary job to specify it. In my view, I propose X as a scale-independent (equally micro-unit as cosmo-unity) holos of nested/diffracted aesthetic-participatory (sensory-motive) phenomena. I have elaborate diagrams and explications of how that goes.

The solution to the hard problem, we suggest, has been hard because it must be discovered (not invented) in a completely different realm of descriptions of nature of kind (ii). In effect, the very meaning of what it is that a scientist does to explain nature has itself had to change.

What scientific evidence do we have that it is possible or practical to describe the natural world U in (ii) form? When we look for it, we easily find that we have already been doing it (X descriptions) for decades, but in physics and outside the science of consciousness. They are familiar to all of us. Some examples: X = “string theory” e.g. (Sen, 1998), “loops” e.g. (Rovelli, 2006), “branes” e.g. (Ne’eman and Eizenberg, 1995), “dynamic hierarchies of structured noise” e.g. (Cahill and Klinger, 19982000Cahill, 20032005), “cellular automata” e.g. (Mitchell et al., 1994Hordijk et al., 1996Wolfram, 2002), and “quantum froth” e.g. (Swarup, 2006

This is hard to parse for me. Is it saying that things like branes, strings, loops, etc can just be considered identical to conscious experiences? 

The moment a (ii) collection of abstracted X can be found to express EM fields as an emergent behavior of the collection, the physicists involved, by directly comparing the (i) and (ii) depictions of the same nature, would then be able to see, within (ii), that part of the underlying structure of (i) that may be responsible for the 1PP. 

That sounds like a perfectly reasonable approach to me, as far as identifying some crucially important features of the origins of our own experience as human individuals, but I still see it as an Easy Problem path that assumes

1) consciousness = “1PP” and

2) 1PP is not closer the underlying phenomenon from which X arises than anything else we could imagine.

 It is based on the empirical fact that it is EM fields that ultimately deliver P-Consciousness.

I see this as a problem. First of all, the statement that EM fields deliver P-Consciousness is NOT an empirical fact. It could just as easily be the case that EM fields are P-Consciousness appearances of the nesting of P-Consciousness on particular timescales. Secondly, the paper has already committed to the *complexity* of the EM field complex-that-appears-to-itself-as-a-brain being more important than the ubiquitous presence of EM as every-appearance-in-the-universe.

The correlates of P-Consciousness paradigm must ultimately face the fundamental physics of EM fields if a fully explanatory account of P-Consciousness is to be constructed. 

That is an assumption also. A theory based on assuming smallism and anthropocentric identifications with consciousness. I am encouraged by the intentions and directions that are behind the paper, but I see it as still a step before Step One, and that in many ways, the true Step One can be arrived at by considering the diametric opposite of many of the ideas above that are assumed to be true.

Strawson on the Primacy of Panpsychism

March 1, 2015 Leave a comment

My apologies to Galen Strawson for this article, which is based on my thoughts on his 2015 essay “Mind and being: the primacy of panpsychism“. I am not so much critiquing his position as using it to launch my own variations of its principles. I am getting into conjectures that are intended to pick up where Strawson leaves off in this paper. Having the utmost respect for Strawson and his pioneering contribution to modern panpsychism, I would encourage anyone who is serious about this subject to take the time to understand his views first and not to leapfrog from physicalism to the pansensitive view that I’m proposing. It is critical to have a solid understanding of exactly why panpsychism is an improvement on physicalism before entertaining the question of how panpsychism can be improved.

In the paper, Strawson lays out some propositions in support of panpsychism:

  1. Matter is force or energy
  2. Being is becoming
  3. Being is quality
  4. Being is mind

These four points are explained in the paper in detail, and I agree with them…in a sense. I agree with them as a better alternative to the physicalist model, which might go something like this:

  1. Matter is physics
  2. Being is merely the function of physics
  3. Physics is quantity
  4. Physics is structure

If we put these two together, and then add to that total set the inversion of their difference, I think we get closer to my view (Multisense Realism or Aesthetic Foundationalism) in which matter, energy, spacetime, being, becoming, are all defined qualitatively. Being is quality, but mind and structure are also quality.

Proposition 1: Stoff ist Kraft (matter is energy)

Strawson begins by writing that ‘Leibniz, too, declared: “quod non agit, non existit”’ […] What doesn’t act doesn’t exist.” He equates force (Kraft in German) with Aristotelian energeia or energy and Matter (Stoff) with spacetime. He says “substance is that which acts: ‘activity … is of the essence of substance“, and supports it with the footnote “See also, strikingly, Faraday 1844: 140ff, Bohm 1957: §1.6; and many others. I’m inclined to include Plato, who holds that ‘being is nothing other than dunamis’, i.e. potency, power, force.” He’s making a case for action being the fabric of reality. But can action exist in the absence of some perception of action? Can there be movement without some capacity to detect spatial relations? Can movement be separated from a narrative sense of where X was and where X went, and how those positional states S and S’ are related?

The concept of energy is poorly understood, even within physics. Gravity is typically referred to as a fundamental force but not as an energy. A planet orbiting a star in circular motion doesn’t expend energy to do it, yet orbiting can be considered an action or force. Planets fall rather then force their way around the sun. If energy is the capacity to do work, then work would imply the generation of one force against another, such as the force of lifting an object up off of the ground against gravity. There’s potential energy as well as kinetic, so a boulder on top of a cliff or a drum of oil can be said to have energy of a sort without acting. The term energy could instead be used in a more informal sense which combines force and energy as a general ‘immaterial agent of material transformation’.

That which doesn’t act publicly may still feel or sense privately.

That matter is actually caused by immaterial agents makes a lot of sense and is held as undeniable by many people who have done a lot of thinking about it – and it made sense to me also – except when we factor in consciousness. Is receptivity an action? Is it a force? It would seem to make more sense that receptivity is the capacity required prior to force being presented or defined.  If we look at our most naive evidence of immaterial agents, we have to admit that all immaterial phenomena are inferred directly as sensations of our own body or indirectly as the changes we can detect in other bodies . We don’t experience energy per se, we experience feelings like warmth or motion, or we see or hear effects which are associated with excitation and change. An explosion, for example, is an event in which some object is violently dispersed across space. We see debris scattering, brightening both the surrounding objects and our own field of vision. A flash, for example is either air molecules becoming ionized, as a flame or spark, or it is an interior event which reflects a sudden change in the brain (stroke), eye (pressing on the eyeball until you see stars), or the retina (the reflection of a distant illumination source fills our field of vision, like a flash bulb). Our conscious experience does not consider these sources to make a difference in one sense, but there are aesthetic cues which can be used to gain some epistemological traction.

I have developed some tinnitus in one ear in recent years, probably from spending too much time working in large data centers where the whir of thousands of server fans and souped up air conditioning is all but deafening. The noise is white noise in that it is constant and hypnotic, but there are multiple layers in which some tones or screeches can be heard to oscillate in a wandering, unpredictable way. Well, that’s what my ringing ear sounds like now when it’s quiet and I’m trying to sleep. The thing is, I can pick out at least two distinct types of ringing going on simultaneously. The ring that I have been describing which oscillates irregularly seems to be coming from an outside source. I had to get up out of bed on several occasions to satisfy myself that it was actually in my head rather than a ventilation fan in the attic. It *really* sounds like a ‘real’ thing in the world which I’m hearing. I can contrast that with the other type of ringing which is very high pitched and ‘close’ feeling. That high whine that you may be familiar with after attending a loud concert. Even though I understand that both sounds are not coming from the outside world, the second sound feels unmistakably closer to me than the first sound.

All of that was to make the point that reality is a continuum which includes both subjective-seeming perceptions and objective-seeming perceptions, but that does not mean that any of them are perceptions of something else, such as matter in the physicalist sense; some ‘thing’ out ‘there’ which simply exists independently of all aesthetic quality. The physicalist foundation is built on trust in the stuffness of stuff, whereas I am proposing that the only true and absolute stuff is the not like the physical stuff at all, but rather is like Wheeler’s participatory stuff – a capacity to directly experience and to embody an experience (indirectly).

If the universe has an aesthetic foundation rather than a ‘stuffy’ physical one, the idea that matter is energy is not necessarily true in the most important sense. The capacity to discern an aesthetic difference between material qualities and energetic qualities would be the more fundamental pillar upon which realism is built. The unity of matter and energy is never seen by us directly as an experienced reality, it can only ever be inferred intellectually as an equation. Even as an equation, E=mc² refers to the equivalence of mass and energy, not matter, with its three dimensional lattice structures and four dimensional algebraic functions. Mass is not a material, it is a measure of resistance to change. It’s worthwhile to note also that most of the energy released by nuclear reactions is not from particles turning into energy, but rather particles being rent from their nuclear configurations. Fusion is small numbers of particles moving in together, while fission is large collectives of particles breaking into smaller groups. The change is a chain reaction of particles which is energetic because it does material work on other particles, not because protons and nucleons are being annihilated into pure workfulness.

There is something called the Law of Conservation of Nucleon Number which says that “In a nuclear reaction total number of nucleons before and after the reaction remains the same, i.e. nucleons cannot be created nor destroyed during a nuclear reacton” (Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics Mittal V. K., verma R. C., gupta S. C., 4.4.4). This means that a proton might become a neutron, but it doesn’t become energy. There may be a better case to say that energy is what matter does in space than to say that matter is energy. If we interpret matter as energy, we can better explain some of our reality, but we are doing it by invoking a model of the universe which is in a sense unreal/anti-real and inconceivable aesthetically. A bowling ball is conceivable, a balling of bowl is not. What makes the universe real is not that matter is energy are united, but that matter and energy seem aesthetically opposite. Without that asymmetry, I can only imagine a universe of hallucination or abstract magic. To take that asymmetry one final step further, I propose that we should see the foundation of realism in the way that matter and energy seem opposite and in the way that both matter and energy together seem opposite to ‘seeming’ itself – to sense.

Matter, energy, and sense.

Sense or what I call pansensitivity is not a stuff but rather the inter-stuff within which all appearances of stuff should be thought of as occlusions or bubbles. To talk about matter being bubbles is not literal here, because the medium that these bubbles exist in is not spatially extended. The medium is ordinary experience, but without the assumption of a necessary thing-which-is-experienced.  Like the Aboriginal dreamtime, perhaps, I conceive of sense like a primordial dreaming through which all dimensions and descriptions are conceived, encountered, hidden and appreciated. Beneath force, action or energy there is sensitivity to what is going on, and sensitivity need not act or react publicly as far as I know. Sensitivity defines all: What action is, what it is that acts and what action does to the actor. Please do not mistake this to refer only to human sensation, or sense organs, or even living organisms. This notion is about the ontology of sense itself as a concept, as a legitimate and final context within which all of physics and psychology (human or otherwise) exists. As Strawson points out brilliantly, panpsychism should not be considered a Neutral Monism, but a doubly committed, ‘Experiential-Hylal’ monism. Awareness does not stand aloof from material and abstract reality, it is what is reflected and embodied by material and abstract reality.

Must we say that this E-H monism is action though? If we want to say that what doesn’t act doesn’t exist, that can still be true, if we take existence literally as an external or public presence rather than the universal notion of existence as that-which-is-not-nothing. With an aesthetic foundation, it is the interior sense of excitement which would logically be the more fundamental resource of existence, the insistence which arises privately as an intention to exist publicly in spacetime. Action occurs so that its accomplishment can be admired in some sense. We write because we read, not because there is writing. Action then is always a reaction to some deeper quality of expectation – an affect that insists on an effect. Sense is not only being and becoming, subject and object, space and time, but the sensory-motive significance of participation. Sense is the aesthetic totality through which the ‘versing’ of the Universe continues.

Proposition 2: Wesen ist Werden (being is becoming)

Strawson writes “All concrete being is essentially timebeing—whatever exactly time is. Being is being.” I would counter that by saying that being is not only be-ing, but been, has been, and may be. All of the past-tense and future-tense influences on the now should not be pushed out into another category. As unreal as past and future may seem in some sense, the influence of past and future makes up a tremendous portion of the present. We are permeated by our past, we embody it, and that embodiment often seems to foreshadow possible futures. Being should be understood to extend beyond time, beyond stasis and beyond change. Stasis and change are qualities of perception, and relativistic ones at that. The faster we are, the slower our world appears. Speeding up or slowing down our rate of awareness reveals new phenomena that extend our world. Instead of saying everything is process, we might say ‘everything is project’. Not merely a doing and going but of placing and replacing.

Under this heading Strawson also writes

“To say this is not to ‘desubstantialize’ matter in any way, and it is most emphatically not to suggest that matter is really only what we can possibly observe (as per the fatal modern tendency to epistemologize metaphysics). It’s simply to express in a certain way the point that the nature of concrete being is energy”

To this I agree that matter should not be desubstantialized in any way. Rocks are as real as anything ever could be. It is only that what is a rock to our body may be more like a sponge or even a cloud to something which is faster, smaller, or less solid that we are. I would agree also that matter is not only what we can possibly observe,  however I would disagree with any implication that this means that matter can be anything other than that which can be perceived. The nature of concrete being may not be energy, but the sense which preserves unity and differences across all qualities, including suites of qualities that we call energy.

Proposition 3: Sein ist Sosein (being is quality)

Here I am in complete agreement with Strawson and Lewis, whom he quotes about concrete reality being ‘an arrangement of qualities. And that is all’. I would add that even arrangement is a quality. As he writes “In the case of any concrete entity, again, its Sosein (its being the way it is) is identical to its Sein (its being).” I am reminded of Kant’s understanding that Existence is an empty predicate. There is no quality of existing without some without some aesthetic qualities which can be appreciated through sensory-motive participation. In short, there is no input or output in the absence of some concrete experience. There is no such thing as ‘input’ in and of itself – no ‘sense data’ without sense itself.

This is of course a major complaint of mine against both eliminativism, and computational theory of mind/Strong AI – that the map is not only mistaken for the territory, but the territory…the concrete power of sensation is demoted to an emergent abstraction of epiphenomenal status. Because physics and computer science arise out of mathematical sensibilities that objectify and systemize, they are intrinsically biased against the opponent channels of awareness, namely empathy and intention. While there is great beauty in numbers in the Platonic-Pythagorean sense, the idea of a cosmos that is purely arithmetic and formal leaves us with a worldview of a computer which lacks a screen, keyboard, or user.

Proposition 4: Ansichsein ist Fürsichsein (being is mind)

In this passage, Strawson affirms the notion of Kant and William James that in order for something to exist, there must be ‘something it is like to be it, experientially’. I would challenge his assertion that ‘We can’t hope to prove that the notion of nonexperiential
(or inert) concrete being is incoherent’, by looking at the alternative. If there were a such thing as nonexperiential being, there would have to be some difference between it and nonexperiential nonbeing other than the empty predicate of being…so it’s a non sequitur. Even if it weren’t a logical impossibility, in practical terms a universe which is devoid of awareness or in which awareness is shared with non-awareness, the non-experiential has no capacity to define itself as existing. Indeed, the moment in which experience begins to exist is the only meaningful beginning of time. Whether there is timeless non-experience or not is only something which can be debated within experience.

Where I take issue is in presuming that experience is always an experience of being some thing. Just because human experience is dominated by that kind of individuality doesn’t necessarily mean that there are not more exotic kinds of mindless experience which is non-human, or even inorganic. If Strawson’s creed is an identity metaphysics, I might say that mine is a trans-identity meta-ontology. Even the most fundamental concepts of energy, process, quality, and mind are still concepts – still roots in the garden of sense. Sense should be understood to contain all of reality and sanity, but to extend far beyond both.

Moving on, I applaud his assertion against radical or brute emergence:

“it’s metaphysically far more extravagant and anti-naturalistic to reject the No Jumps thesis and postulate radical emergence of the experiential from the nonexperiential, than it is to postulate non-radical emergence of the human experiential from the non-human experiential—whatever difficulties the second idea may also seem to raise.”

My sentiments exactly. Applying emergence to consciousness is like applying the Pythagorean theorem to Pythagoras. Likewise I concur with his thoughts on naturalism and experience:

“experience is the most certainly known concretely existing general natural phenomenon, and is indeed the first thing any scientist encounters when they try to do science.”

He follows this by reclaiming, as I do, the sovereignty of materialism and naturalism from the forces of reduction to physical structure. Physics is silent on the non-structural, intrinsic nature of concrete reality, so it should not be allowed to frame the definition of nature and material in immaterial, structural terms.

After some discussion of the incoherence of Neutral Monism and the incompatibility of non-experience with experience, which I will leave to those who have not yet understood the superiority of ultra-strong panpsychism, I come to the section:

Experience entails an experiencer

He writes

“I’m aware that experience entails an experiencer so I’m going to have to allow that there are as many experiencers as there are genuinely ontologically distinct portions of experience—even though this may appear to make things more difficult for me as a fledgling panpsychist.”

That seems straightforward enough…but wait. Is being aware that experience entails an experiencer really a solid assumption. Sure, *our* experience entails an experiencer, but we are a very specific kind of thing – an evolved experience which encounters itself as a living body in a world of other bodies, living and otherwise. Our experience of being an experiencer may be local to zoology or biology – an artifact of being enveloped in skin yet able to move around using our intention. If we are serious about existence being aesthetic, then the unbounded aesthetic which transcends even ontology would dissolve even is-ness in a continuum of seems-ness. Seeming is not less than being, it is more. On the absolute level, fact is a type of fiction and fiction or pretending is the ultimate tendency.

This is a controversial concept to entertain, especially as it could be construed as an attack on theism. If we say that an experiencer is a kind of experience of experiences, and not ontologically primitive, then do we do away with God as a kind of giant experiencer in a realm where no experiencer logically needs to define itself that way.

On the other hand, tying our own subjectivity to the morphology of our body may be a Just-so story, and the dichotomy of experiencer and experience may simply be how it is. In that case, monotheism is a natural enough way to frame the totality of experiencers – as a super-experiencer.

A third option is what I call ambi-theism, or a superposition of the absolute, in which both experiencer and non-experiencer qualities are merely colors on the palette of sense. The grand movie contains dramas with characters and plots as well as austere documentaries with only the pristine admiration of nature for itself as an it.

Neurosupremacy

Next I find an issue where I do disagree:

“We know the experiential is real and we also know—about as well as we know anything in science—that it’s literally located in the brain: human experience is neural activity. This is by now far beyond reasonable doubt.

I’m a little surprised at this, given that Strawson is sincere about the primacy of consciousness. Maybe I’ve just been arguing with others about this issue for so long that I now assume that people who are focused on consciousness are aware that there are studies of NDE’s, embodied cognition, and many other exotic issues which do provide doubt of complete mind-brain identity. Whether that doubt is ‘reasonable’ is debatable to some, but given what we’ve already discussed about matter being energy and energy being mind, it seems regressive to me to then turn around and say that human experience *is* neural activity. No, human experience is irreducible, and neural activity is (an admittedly important and directly correlative) part of that experience.

In his point about fungibility, “all physical stuff is fungible in the sense that any form of it can in principle be transformed into any other—so that if for example one broke hydrogen down into leptons and quarks one could reassemble it as gold” I would agree, however I would not agree that all experience is physical in that sense. We cannot reassemble World War II. Not only because of thermodynamic irreversibility/entropy/the arrow of time, but because consciousness is not an isolated ‘now’ but rather the view from within a bubble of eternity. The view cannot be copied or assembled from simpler forms, it has to be a unique and in some sense unrepeatable part of the totality. In my view, the fungibility of physics, or public-spatial physics is an inversion of the deeper anti-fungibility of awareness. That which is perceived to happen over and over, or to be put together from parts is witnessed by that which has never happened and will never happen again, and which is irreducible to parts.

I agree with his points about consciousness not being a mystery at all, but would add that because consciousness is absolute, it is at once the most mysterious and least mysterious phenomenon. If you don’t think that consciousness is mysterious at all, talk to some people who have ingested Ayahuasca. There is discussion of the combination problem, which is a serious issue for panpsychism, or it would seem to until you commit to absolute panpsychism or pansensitivity as I propose. After that, mereological worries of sums and parts disappear as the multiplicity of conscious states which define reality are nested in ways that we may not even be able to imagine. States of ‘mind’ in which all of history is a single moment, spatialized perhaps from a God’s eye view. The premise of multisense realism and aesthetic foundationalism opens the door to a whole other hemisphere, at least, of the universe.

Finally Strawson ties it all up in a world knot:

“The notion of being self-sprung is metaphorical. But I think that something about it smells right—the idea that the ‘self-sprungness’ or ‘self-intimation’ of experience is the fundamental form or self-sustaining structure of the energy which is concrete reality. Self-sprungness makes—constitutes—force, and Stoff ist Kraft. Matter—more generally, the physical, all concrete being—is force or activity or power or energy. Matter-force is essentially dynamic, being is essentially becoming: Wesen ist Werden. We travel smoothly down the chain of terms which—it now appears—forms a circle: a panpsychist circle.

I think he’s on the right track, and the metaphor of the circle and Schopenhauer’s world-knot (mind-body problem) that he mentions relate to a more literal twisting of the continuum of sense, which I have named ‘Ouroboran Monism’ after Ouroboros. Even as mind and body confront itself as opposite ends of the snake in one sense, like the inflection point of head eating tail, they are also mere points in a circuit which gradually evolves through mind-like and body-like coils, spiraling around and within itself. A non-orientable surface like a Klein bottle or Mobius strip is a good metaphor of how these aesthetic extremes can be reconciled, but of course, these are only metaphors. The continuum of sense is not a structure or manifold, but the phenomenon of feeling, of drama and coherence.

Orosnake

My reworking of the paper’s propositions then are:

  1. Mind is the sensible relation of aesthetic qualities.
  2. Sense is the intervention of becoming upon what has become.
  3. Sense is a continuum of ‘minding’ and relatively mindless perspectives.
  4. Sense precedes being, existence, or matter.

Law of Conservation of Mystery

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Law of Conservation of Mystery – Refers to the weird tendency for profound and fundamental issues to resist final resolution. Because the multisense continuum wraps around at both the very small and very large ends, many properties and qualities which we think of as opposite are unified, such as chance and choice. In one sense, our personal awareness might act as a lens, bending universal awareness around us into an impersonal bubble, and in another sense, the personal bubble may project an illusion of impersonality outwardly. Both of these can be thought of not as illusions or distortions, but of mutual relation between foreground and background (as in tessellation).

Both the sub-personal quirkiness of QM and the super-personal spookiness of divination (such as the I Ching or Tarot cards) exemplify that the perception of both spiritual and mechanical absolutes is elusive and relates to the choice between belief and belief in disbelief. In both quantum mechanics and divination, a participant is responsible for the interpretation – the individual is the prism which splits the beam of their interpretation between chance and choice…or the individual is responsible for remaining skeptical and resisting pseudoscientific claims.

If we choose to allow choice on the cosmological level, even there, the continuum between luck which is intentionally or unintentionally fateful, and karma which is divinely mechanistic reflects a difference in degree of universal favor. The Law of Conservation of Mystery is particularly applicable to paranormal phenomena. Everything from UFOs to NDEs have passionately devoted supporters who are either seen as deluded fools stuck in a prescientific past or prophets of enlightenment ahead of their time.*

*What preserves that bifocal antagonism is technically eigenmorphism – it’s how different perceptual frames maintain their character, but this special case of conservation of myster is on us. It keeps us guessing and pushing further, but it also keeps us blind and stuck in our assumptions. See also Superposition of the Absolute.

Law of Conservation of Mystery

October 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Law of Conservation of Mystery – Refers to the weird tendency for profound and fundamental issues to resist final resolution.  Under eigenmorphism, both the microcosmic and cosmic frames (the infinitesimal and the great) relate to the fusion of chance and choice. It is as if the personal, macrocosmic range of awareness might act as a lens, bending the impersonality of the universe into a personal bubble, and in another sense, the personal bubble may project an illusion of impersonality outwardly. Both of these can be thought of not as illusions or distortions, but of mutual relation between foreground and background which constitutes a tessellated synergy.

Both the sub-personal quirkiness of QM and the super-personal spookiness of divination (such as the I Ching or Tarot cards) exemplify that the perception of spiritual or mechanical absolutes is elusive and bound to the choice between belief and belief in disbelief. In both quantum mechanics and divination, the human participant is responsible for the interpretation – the individual is the prism which splits the beam of their interpretation between chance and choice…or the individual is responsible for remaining skeptical and resisting pseudoscientific claims. If we choose to allow choice on the cosmological level, even there, the continuum between luck which is intentionally or unintentionally fateful and karma which is divinely mechanistic reflects a difference in degree of universal approbation. The Law of Conservation of Mystery is particularly applicable to paranormal phenomena. Everything from UFOs to NDEs have passionately devoted supporters who are either seen as deluded fools stuck in a prescientific past or prophets of enlightenment ahead of their time. What preserves that bifocal antagonism is technically eigenmorphism – it’s how different perceptual inertial frames maintain their character, but this special case of perceptual relativity is on us. It keeps us guessing and pushing further, but it also keeps us blind and stuck in our assumptions.

Superposition of the Absolute – The concept of superposition has enjoyed wide acceptance on the microcosmic level of quantum physics, but the idea of the Totality of the universe having a kind of multistable nature has not yet been widely considered as far as I know. The superposition of a wavefunction is tolerated because it helps us justify what we have measured, but any escalation of this kind of merged possibility to the macrocosm is strictly forbidden. Under PIP, the entire cosmos can be understood to be perpetually in superposition, or perhaps meta-superposition. Any event can be meaningful or meaningless according to one’s interpretation, but some events are more insistent upon meaningful interpretations than others.

Coincidence and pattern invariably count as evidence of the Absolute, whether the Absolute is regarded as mechanical law, divine will, or existential indifference. In this way, the insistence or existence of pattern can be understood as the wavefunction collapse of eternity. This is hard to grasp since eternity is the opposite of instantaneous, so that the ‘collapse’ is occurring in some sense across all time, weaving through it as a mysterious thread that pulls every participant forward into their own knowledge and delusion. On the Absolute scale, every lifetime is a single moment that echoes forever, and the echo of the forever-now into nested subroutines of smaller and smaller ‘nows’.

On the super-personal level (super-private/transpersonal/collective), when coincidence seems to become something more (synchronicity, precognition, or destiny), the collapse can be understood as a collapse on multiple nested frames at once. “Then it all made sense”, Eureka!, I hit bottom. etc. The multiplicity of conflicting possibilities can, for a moment, pop into a single focus that will resonate for a lifetime.

On the quantum level, probability is used in a particular way to explain behaviors of phenomena to which we attribute no intentional choice. Einstein’s famous objection ‘God does not play dice’ perhaps echoes a deep intuition that people have always had about the way that nature reflects a partially hidden order. This expectation is perhaps the common thread of all three epistemological branches – the theological, the philosophical, and the scientific. The value of prediction is particularly powerful for both scientific and theocratic authority as evidence of positive connection with either natural law or divine will. Science demands theories predict successfully, while religion demands prophetic promise. Under the Superposition of the Absolute, the ultimate natural law can be seen to become more flexible and porous, and the localization of divine will can be seen to have limitations and natural constraints. If PIP is to make a prediction itself, it would be to suggest that all wavefunctions share the identical, nested, non-well-founded superposition, one which can be understood as sense or perceptual relativity itself.

Many Words Interpreted: A Glossary of MSR Terms

October 1, 2013 12 comments

Many Words Interpreted: A Glossary of MSR Terms

By request, a list of neologisms and special uses of common terms within Multisense Realism.

First edition.

Absolute – In many philosophical schools and mystical traditions, there is a concept of the Absolute. Often it is associated with God or nothingness, and there are many terms such as Om, Tao, Ein Sof, Totality, Being, Brahman, Zero Point Field which function as Transcendental Signifiers. In MSR, the Absolute has a more specific definition. Since sense is supposed to be more primitive than either physics or ontology, the Absolute is understood to be the ‘largest’ (most inclusive) inertial frame, which is also the greatest (most exclusive) perceptual frame. This concept of the Absolute can be described as ‘eternity with all of the space and time sucked out’, or ‘instantaneous eternity’, as the unity of all perceptions and experiences would have no sink or eraser to separate itself into multiple ‘nows’.  The Absolute is not necessarily a ‘real’ thing, as reality itself is, under MSR, a confluence of sensory correspondences with and against the Absolute. While we are here in spacetime, bodies are real and the Absolute is make-believe. From the Absolute perspective, all phenomena, including bodies would be equally real and unreal. See also: Sole Entropy Well.

ACME-OMMM – Stands for Anything Can Mean Everything and Only Material Matters Matter. These represent the two proposed extremes of philosophical bias. In MSR, the ACME pole is always mapped on the right hand side (for Eastern or Oriental) of the continuum as the absolutist defense of naive idealism. In contemporary terms, this would include all purely spiritual conceptions of the universe in which physics is fictionalized or subsumed as thought-energy. The left hand or Western side of the continuum is the OMMM end, where all feeling and awareness is mechanized as accidental consequence of physical or mathematical law.

Aesthetic – Within MSR, the term aesthetic takes on a greater meaning than ordinary usage assumes. Just as general anesthesia is equivalent to unconsciousness and a local anesthetic is used to numb tactile sensation, and synesthesia describes the mixing of sensory modalities, the term aesthetic should be taken to mean the common quality which all direct awareness shares. All experiences are fundamentally aesthetic presentations or presences, within which anesthetic representations can be added (through symbolic logic, mathematics, intellectual modeling, etc)

Aesthetic presence or aesthetic presentation refers to a concrete experience marked by sensory qualities or qualia, such as a visible shape, tangible feel, flavor, color, sound, etc. It would not include abstract mathematical entities, forces, fields, statistics, computations, etc which could only be presumed to have an anesthetic, de-presentational influence, or else represent an aesthetic presence beyond our detection. Under MSR, only those experiences which have an aesthetic presence are genuinely ‘real’, while all other information-theoretic constructs are considered figures or representations within some aesthetic presentation. These words are only figures on a screen, and through the experience of seeing their shape, we are able to ‘hear a voice’ in our mind. If we were not present to read this text, they would have no pattern at all. The electronic states of the screen and computer would have no more significance than sand on a beach cycling through days and nights.

Aion, Psyche, Nous, Hyparxis – These are referred to in a this cosmogonic diagram in which the Classical Greek terms are paired with suggested modern equivalents. Under MSR, space is a localizing consequence of entropy (the attenuation of sense) and time is the expression of significance (limits on the saturation of sense). The combined plenum of space-entropy/time-significance can be thought of as Aion, meaning age but also the totality of self. The polar opposite of Aion in this view is Hyparxis, which has to do with being and subsistence and on the diagram is paired with mass, but it is intended here as the sense of mass as felt embodiment. Psyche and Nous correspond to qualia and quanta here, also with quanta also including a logical attitude.

Altruistic Monad – The Altruistic Monad has precedent in some mystical traditions such as Kabbalah. In MSR, the idea is that in some sense the Absolute is eternity ‘holding its breath’. Another metaphor is a clock that is so slow that after the end of forever it would still not have completed a single tick. In the mean time, the diffraction of the Monad (Totality of experience) into localized experiences within experiences continues on in a diffracting, self-diagonalizing manner. As the outermost and innermost inertial frame of all experience, the Absolute is in a sense sacrificing itself for the common good of the universe. See also Sole Entropy Well.

Anesthetic Representation – To understand the symbol grounding problem, it may be helpful to focus on the fact that computer program does not require a screen to run. In fact, a computer does not need to use graphic displays or even geometry to operate ‘as if’ those forms were present. This need not get into any esoteric philosophical discussion about consciousness, it is simply a fact that Turing emulations of geometric forms are not themselves geometric, they are shapeless configurations of binary code which can be expressed as musical notes or electrical signals just as easily as they can be screen drawings of shapes. If that were not the case, there would be no need for screens or sound cards as we could directly tap into the inherent aesthetic qualities of the data. The anesthetic property of data is, of course, the great strength  of digital computation. This universal code, under Church-Turing thesis, allows any measurable data to be computed in the same (anesthetic, generic, universal) way. This anesthetic property is also the greatest weakness of digital, as it strips out all proprietary anchoring, and we will forever be chasing more secure authentication and control over intellectual property. Because only aesthetic presence can be ‘real’, all representations must borrow from an existing aesthetic modality (like sight or sound) to be presented. Representations are, therefore, not independent entities or experiences, they figures of common sense. Binary representations are figures of Absolutely common sense.

Anomalous Symmetry – Describes the relation between the physical and experiential as being symmetric (as electric and magnetic fields) but ontologically perpendicular or orthogonal at the macroscopic level. Experiential qualities are seen as primary and fundamental in an absolute sense (reversing Locke’s model of primary and secondary qualities), but through the ingression of entropy (as spacetime through the Big Diffraction), they diverge into eigenmorphism. In MSR jargon, the meta-phoric Absolute diffracts itself endophorically and exometrically to derive exomorphic representations at the bottom of the stack,

Aperture of Consciousness – Applied to states of human consciousness, particularly with the scope of human awareness. Using a camera metaphor, increased sensitivity (as in childhood or under a similarly vulnerable psychological state) is associated with short range sensory interest. The moment expands to an arbitrarily long duration, and emotions can feed back on themselves until the point of euphoria or panic. When the proposed (metaphorical) aperture of awareness is more contracted (as a sober and serious adult), the depth of field has a longer range, making the thought process more quantitative than qualitative – circumspect, strategic, logical, etc, but relatively cold, distant, and uncreative.

Apocatastatic Gestalt or Transrational Algebra – Taken from apocatastasis, meaning “reconstitution, restitution, or restoration to the original or primordial condition” and algebra, “al-jabr “restoration”, MSR posits that the nature of subjective experience is one in which gaps in sense (entropy, spacetime) are removed or elided. This is contrary to the conventional view that experience is assembled only from the bottom up, by neurochemical processes to arrive at an illusory whole. Instead, the perceptual event is a process which restores a distant or decomposed aesthetic to a sensible whole within the local frame of experience. It is transrational as the process is not driven only by logical algebras or topological manifolds, but by semantic content which is not necessarily spatiotemporally bound. This is more of an Ur-Algebra, from which algebras and geometries are produced, but the multiplexed nature of felt significance goes far beyond localized logic.

Arithmetic supremacy – The conviction that epistemology is limited to quantitative measurement, and that such measurements are objectively and universally true. This would be considered a monosense unrealism in MSR terms; a schema which de-presents realism as an emergent property of a fundamental representational code.

Authenticity vs Automaticity – The theme of orthogonality finds yet another expression in the contrast between that which is grounded in a unique and unrepeatable history and that which is mechanically generated. A forgery or paint by numbers painting for example, are inauthentic because they are produced by imitation of an existing pattern – there is no original pattern being generated. Automation relies on copying, but has no appreciation of the difference between an original and a copy. All computation is a simulation – a figurative index of generic symbols without proprietary or iconic transfer. To automate is to reduce an experience to a skeletal abstraction, a recording of a function to be repeated unconsciously or in a deterministically regulated way. From the human personal perspective, human consciousness relies on a lot of automatic sub-personal functions, however there is no reason to assume that like our own personhood, our sub-personhood is not also rooted in a fundamental authenticity. Our personal awareness seems notoriously unique in some sense. Identity appears to gain appeal through proprietary achievement rather than automatic operation.

Big Diffraction – Thinking of the Big Bang realistically, it would not be possible for a phenomenon which gives rise to space and time to begin from a location in space or time. Having no space from which to observe it from, and no moment to experience it in, the BB cannot be considered to have occurred as an event, nor can it have an exterior view. We are therefore still within the Big Bang, and it is an event which is always happening, or never happening – more the axis in the center of a spiral of time than a terminal point along a time line. Because of this, the BB cannot be an explosion into an evacuated space (which does not yet exist), so that it is more rational to suppose a kind of shattering or falling apart into time. Because the original Monad is beyond time, it is not shattered itself, but rather the sense of separation would be added on top of the essential unity, thus producing a diffraction pattern of variations on top of variations linking Absolute unity with the promise of Absolute dissolution.

Cardinal position, ordinal disposition – Contrasting cardinality and ordinality from mathematics and pairing them with spatiotemporal terms of position and disposition, a concise description of certain aspects of private and public realism can be arrived at. Cardinality gives us a pool of a particular size, in which each member is a generic but unique part. Pairing that with position gives an idea of bodies in space. Using a chess board as an example, the number of pieces and positions on the board would be the cardinal position. The moves that any given piece can make at any time would be the ordinal position. The Cardinal disposition would be the value of a piece by virtue of its rarity – so a pawn would have a lower cardinal disposition than bishop just because of the number available. In ordinal disposition, rank is formalized intentionally rather than statistically. The king has more value than a bishop, even if there is only one bishop left. This concept comes into play in the consideration of awareness and life originating in primordial improbability rather than the anthropic principle.

Chameleon brain – (or p-Zelig instead of a p-zombie), an artificial intelligence which would impersonate behaviors of whatever environment it was placed into. Unlike a philosophical zombie, (which would have no personal qualia but seem like it does from the outside), the chameleon brain would explicitly forbid having any particular qualia, since its entire processing would be devoted to computing cross-modal generalities. It is intentionally not trying to be a person, it is only trying to mirror anything – clouds, wolves, dandelions, whatever, according to the measurements it takes using a large variety of peripheral detectors. The point of this is to expose the leaky p-vacuum which assumes qualia as a inherent within information/computation.

Cosmoscopic – To round out traditional levels of description by scale as macroscopic and microscopic, cosmoscopic refers to phenomena which seem to us as laws of physics or mathematical truths. The cosmoscopic scale is the scale at which scale does not matter, as the vast overlap between nuclear physics and astrophysics suggests.

De-Presentation – In his book “Aping Mankind”, Raymond Tallis argues that the over reaching of neuroscience and evolution (he calls Neuromania and Darwinitis) has lead to a failure to consider humanity in its own terms. Taking that concept further, and making it more literal, de-presentation is the idea that reducing human consciousness to the intersection of neurochemical and evolutionary mechanisms effectively denies any worldly presentation of human experience. All that we have ever known or will ever know is de-presented as statistical fluctuations in a void.

Depth of field – See aperture of consciousness.

Disimmediation – What optical illusions, lens flares, continuity errors, breaking character, and winking at the camera have in common. A medium is a channel of communication or sensory experience in which other, non-presented experiences are inferred and represented. Because our human psychology is highly suggestible, we can readily ‘immediate‘, or suspend disbelief of a media source, allowing us to modulate how much we want to pretend that something which pretends to be real is real. There is something more, however, than just playing along with illusions or being disillusioned with a glitch in a technology. If we pay attention to the aesthetic particulars of the glitch – the scratches on the record, the pixelation of a digitally compressed video, we can see that they contain clues as to the mechanisms behind the media. Disimmediation is a window into other PIFs, to optics or computation, analog or digital recording, screenwriting and theatrical production, etc.

Eigenmorphism – A general term to describe a set of possible ways in which a phenomena can be transposed. In particular, pansensitivity makes use of eigenmorphism to describe how physical and phenomenal properties might be isomorphic on the micro level, but contra-morphic on the macro-level, and multivalent on the absolute level. If we think of an atom as having a microphenomenal experience, we tend to assume that the experience would have to be very primitive and relate directly to the physical forces acting upon the atom. That could be part of the bias expected under perceptual relativity, but if not, that would reflect a very different psychophysical translation than we see at the macro level, where the literal activity within a human brain has little to do with the experiential content of thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This dramatic difference is the basis to propose that between the macro, micro, and cosmological scales, there is an envelope of eigenstate like increments through which scale of form and content is modulated. Size can be measured not just by comparison of physical dimension, but also by the angle or gap between aesthetic depth and quantitative complexity. Simple structures have shallow experience, but deep experiences not only have complex structures but they have orders of magnitude more degrees of freedom from that structure. They have increased potential for imagination and privacy.

Emergence and Divergence – The concept of emergence and emergentism supposes that consciousness is an emergent property of physical or mathematical law. It is a popular concept, as everyone can understand how something like tool use could emerge from an opposable thumb. There are problems when applying this to consciousness however, since, unlike a hand holding a stone, there is no physical basis to expect a potential for “experience” to appear if it were not already present. Indeed, invisibility or teleportation would be a more plausible trait for an organism to evolve out of thin air. Divergence, then, is the consideration of primordial identity pansensitivity, in which the universe that we experience outside of our bodies is a subset of the totality of experience (Absolute), so that nothing can emerge ‘from nothing’ but rather it is reduced, diffracted, and divergent from everything.

Entropic frames / Holotrophic frames – The view of private and public phenomena which emphasizes layers of novelty-producing feeling juxtaposed with structured routines.

Entropy-Significance – The word entropy is used in different ways for different purposes. In MSR, entropy is used in a broad sense, encompassing thermodynamic, information, and aesthetic sensitivity. MSR posits that entropy is a consequence of significance, which also is used in a broad sense of meaning, aesthetic dynamism, and signal coherence. Loschmidt’s Paradox brings up the question of how the universe could perpetually be in a state of increasing entropy without an initial low entropy to start with. The Sole Entropy Well hypothesis offered here reverses the assumption of entropy as an increasing value so that it is significance which is absolute, and entropy which constitutes a local masking of it, The mask is what is expanding relative to the significance of the totality, but the totality is always gaining back what is lost through perception. Significance is the chunking up of experience made possible by the deprivations and isolations of spacetime diffraction. When we observe the public universe unraveling into entropy, it is our own appreciation of our position in the universe which contributes to the other side of the balance sheet. Entropy and significance are background and foreground, partners in Aion.

Everythingness – Through the hypothesis of Primodial Identity Pansensitivity and the Sole Entropy Well, the notion of a Universe From Nothing is turned on its head. All such notions arise from a leaky assumption of nothingness in which many sensible conditions are already present and taken for  granted, such as oscillation, repetition, probability, multiplicity, etc. A true nothingness could contain no sense, no possibilities, no connection to anything at all, lest the nothingness would become contaminated with not-nothing. By flipping the assumption of nothingness, PIP begins with an Absolute totality that subdivides itself into multiple channels or diffractions, giving space and time as modulations of sense capacity. This Big Diffraction cosmology coincides with pre-scientific thought in Western Mysticism and Eastern Philosophy.

Exomorphic, Exometric, Endophoric, Phoric, Solitrophic – In some diagrams, these terms are used to specify the proposed symmetry through which primordial pansenitivity, with its ‘phoric’ sensibilities (phor, as in metaphor, semaphor, and euphoria has to do with carrying, as in carrying meaning) divides itself into three variations. Endophoric is the first diffraction, using rhythmic repetition to scale and separate experiences into more ‘interior’ feelings. This is the content of perception or qualia. If the Endophoric diffraction carries the phoric inward, what is left out is polarized from the perspective of qualia, making a second diffraction to the exomorphic (thermodynamic bodies/matter-energy) and the exometric (mathematical functions/space). Solitrophic is used to describe the production of individuation.

Experiential Entropy – Related to Entropy-Significance, experiential entropy describes the effect that distance, both literal and figurative, has on significance and personal identification. The incorporation of sensation into cosmology as a physical component which recovers diffracted significance by eliding space and time metaphorically is a huge undertaking, but this at least points to one way of approaching it.

Form-function – Adapted from interpretations of the Stone duality in which topologies are dual to logical algebras, form-function is used to refer to public phenomena. All that can be measured must have either a form with a position, or a function which can be inferred from the disposition of a form. In MSR, form-functions are seen as special cases within phoric pansensitivity, so that they do not exist in isolation but rather always as experiences to be appreciated aesthetically and participated in directly.

Fourth Wall – Breaking the fourth wall is a theatrical term that refers to an instance where a performer does something to indicate the unreality of the performance, such as wink at the audience or look directly into the camera and speak to the viewers. MSR seeks to break the fourth wall of philosophy of mind by addressing subjective experience directly, bypassing the omniscient voyeur with an improved philosophical vacuum.

Genius Palette – The inexplicable aspect of a sensory palette, such as the transition from red to yellow within the spectrum. The transition from blue to indigo is readily understandable by comparison, and corresponds to what we might expect from a smooth continuum of graduated wavelengths, however, the comparatively jarring shift from red to yellow is more difficult to justify. This unjustifiable quality could become understandable, perhaps under a more complete conscious state than human beings are ordinarily privy to, or perhaps this is an example pure creativity beyond all reason. At root, every sensory palette has a genius palette which separates it from all other sensory modalities. Synesthesia is fascinating as it shows that these palettes are permeable to each other, and that human consciousness can smoothly integrate words, numbers, and concepts with flavors, colors, sounds, and images.

Gepetto complex – A term to denote a confirmation bias toward Strong AI. The prominent divide between machines and living organisms is minimized or denied as the enthusiasm for computational theory is emphasized over all potential objections.

Holographic Celebrity – The etymology of the word celebrate contains the meaning “to frequent in great numbers” as well as “to publish; sing praises of; practice often”, and “kept solemn”. Thus there is a potential basis to connect popularity, frequency and fidelity.  Whether an event is solemn of joyful, we say that the occasion is celebrated. Any event which is celebrated, or person who is a celebrity automatically implicates the ensemble of fictions and facts associated with it. Every time Martin Luther King day is celebrated, the issues of civil rights, race, and freedom, as well as the 1960s civil rights movement and his role in it, are, like a hologram, or perhaps a ceremonial candle, re-illuminated.

hypostition – A counter-logic to superstition in which a robotic, overly literal approach is applied to nature. Reductionism and pseudoskepticism combine for an overall cynical extremism in epistemology which effectively rules out all possibility but existentialism at best and nihilism at worst. Where the supersitious mind anthropomorphizes, the hypostitious mind mechanemorphizes. Everything that could be considered miraculous or special in some way is compulsively stripped of importance and dismissed as illusion, error, or trickery.

Immediation – The fusing or eliding of difference among perceptual inertial frames. Accepting a given sense channel as whole or true. This applies to our own consciousness as well, since under MSR, personal awareness is a high level sense channel (high level in that it includes or immediates many sense modalities). As a single sense modality, the cues of its disimmediation include dizziness, confusion, delirium, and ‘blacking out’. Our consciousness includes signs to represent its own absence.

Immediacracy

1. A state of idealized interaction between individuals and the culture as a whole, which utilizes continuous and ubiquitous network availability and is unburdened by barriers to usability. A completely transparent, universal, participatory, and immersive communication medium.2. A principle by which information is prioritized to favor and to demand rapidity, convenience, and heightened naturalism. The rise of reality television and social networking can be said to have displaced more traditional forms of media with its immediacratic appeal.3. A process of artificial selection wherein decisions are based solely on the criteria of expedience. A broad social condition of evolutionary outcomes driven by short-term or petty consideration.

Immereology – Mereology is the study of the relation between wholes and parts (is a handle part of a mug or is it a thing of its own?). The idea of immereology is that private experience contains not only forms and functions which can be understood in terms of parts and wholes, but they can also contain the opposite types of phenomena. Deeply subjective experiences in particular seem to be fugues of feelings and expectations which are neither part, whole, nor non-part or whole.

Imposter – Discussed in this post, there is an expectation of authenticity which is not presented in quantitative function. The uncanny valley effect is an example of how artificial or mechanical imitations compare unfavorably with originals, and what that reveals about life and death, zombies, fame, and semiotics.

Information – Used in a new way within MSR. Breaking it down as in-form-ation, the ‘in’ and the ‘form’ correspond to the phoric and morphic respectively, while ‘ation’ corresponds to the metric. The purpose is to correct the impression that information is a commodity which can exist independently of perception. The contemporary usage of ‘information’ which leaves out awareness and interiority is actually a mislabeling of ‘formation’. Data, without being grounded in an aesthetic experience, is understood within MSR to be a figurative abstraction.

IPT, EPT, IPS, EPSThis diagram attempts to map consciousness from the individual’s perspective. Here, privacy is defined in terms of Interior and Exterior facing time, and the public body is defined in spatial terms of Internal and External exposure. The purpose of the diagram is to show how time exists as multiple wheel-like contexts of varying scale according to the frequency of repeating experiences. It is proposed that part of what individual consciousness does is to fracture space from time so that they are perceptually offset – a fugue of times funnel down to a conditional ‘now’, at which point the sense of ‘here’ becomes a nexus of intersecting ‘there’s,

Istence – As “Qua” is to qualia and quanta, “Istence” is a term proposed to describe a common umbrella above existence and insistence. In MSR, existence is generally reserved to describe public existence as a body or particle in space as seen from a private perspective, while insistence is a private experience which can be influence some public effect. Both insistence and existence are understood to diverge or diffract from istence, which unites and divides the two poles through sensory discernment and Ouroboran monism.

Light – Is light made of photons, optics, or visual experiences? MSR uses the term light to describe the sensible continuum which includes all three, as well as propose a new post-particle, post-velocity model of light in which photons themselves may be figurative experiences rather than literal physical form-functions.

Likeness – Etymologically, the word ‘like’ was used in the reverse order that we now use. “That dress likes you.” would mean that the dress looks good on you – it flatters you. Herein lies a hint about the connection between euphoric feelings that we ‘like’, and similarity across patterns. Two kinds of likeness share a common sense which refers to mutual reflection; symmetry, harmony, rhyme, and reason. Sense is what makes black and white like each other in one way and maximally unlike each other in another way. Likeness also figures into philosophical primitives such as difference and repetition. Likeness can be the opposite of both difference and repetition, as well as the opposite of indifference. It is a rediscovery of the primary unity which precedes difference, yet remains undiscoverable prior to differentiation. Likeness is the echo of the unrepeatable – a copy of originality which is also original.

Literal / Figurative – Generally used to further qualify the difference between public bodies and private experiences. The word ‘literal’ implies a discrete, factual presence, while ‘figurative’ emphasizes that a leap of intuition is required to fully appreciate some loose grouping of concepts or sensations. It is worth nothing that the ‘literal’ meaning of literal refers to reading and the literal meaning for figurative refers to concrete figures or shapes. Thus, the meaning on the etymological level is reversed on the contemporary semantic level.

Logic / Sense – Logic includes all indirect modes of sense making, where representations stand in for actual experiences. Sense includes logic (as it includes everything) but logic is the particular subset of sense reserved for the unfelt and impersonal. Logic is seen as the essence of objectivity, and as such, it has inherently reductionist mechanisms which filter out all references to direct awareness. Because logic is designed to be insulated from sense, any map of the world or of consciousness is bound to place intellectual rules, forms, and functions above feelings and aesthetics.

Mechanemorphism – Conceived as the polar opposite to anthropomorphism. A common criticism from the Western view of the world is that all other views are anthropomorphic, and thus naive and backwards. With mechanemorphism, there is a recognition that the opposite of bad can also be bad. Abandoning the view of a cosmic creator should not scientifically entail embracing a view of a clockwork cosmos, but it appears that by default most people will tend toward that without considering the possibility of confirmation bias and reactive reasoning.

Mediation Boundary – Closed captioning of music is an example of the failure of any particular medium to represent every kind of experience. Another example is the inability to portray subjective states such as drunkenness. An actor can behave as if they were drunk, or the image can be blurred or drift to suggest dizziness, but these are mere suggestions of heavy intoxication. There is no way to visually portray altered states of consciousness in their full dimension, unlike public places and people which can be rendered on film with high immediation.

Monosense Unrealism – The polar opposite of MSR, in the sense that it characterizes a philosophy of reductionism to a single aesthetic type (material, ideal, or information, usually). The result is a de-presentation of naive realism, such that it can only exist in as an unacknowledged and unreal dual to the favored monosense. Of eliminative materialism, for example, we might ask what is it that is being eliminated? In spiritual conception of the world as illusion (maya), we might ask what makes it different from the non-illusion which generates it?

Motive – If sense describes a fundamental receptivity which precedes being or feeling, motive describes the antithesis: doing, responding, opposing, negating, projecting, moving, etc. If sense is affect, then motive is effect. If sense is the head, then motive is the flagellum (or tail or body). Because human experience is so convoluted with layers of molecules, cells, organs, and bodies, our motive participation can be limited to private intentions, or it can be stepped down through the body as motor activity. Were we simpler organisms, or perhaps inorganic molecules, our motive might be more isomorphic to our motion. On that more primitive level, the gap between intention and unintention may be closed, and subjectivity and objectivity becomes, at least from our perspective, indiscernible. Whether that closing of the gap is a prejudice of perceptual relativity, or an ontological reality, or a mixture of the two remains an open question under eigenmorphism.

Multisense Continuum – Initially linked to a graphic mural, the proposed continuum is a spectrum to contain every category of phenomena in a sensible order. Ideally, the mural would be projected as a sphere, as the far Eastern and far Western edges meet (called the Profound Edge), as would the top and bottom (Polar Divide).

Multisense Realism (MSR) – Not a postulate of multiple realities or even multiple senses of ‘real’, MSR proposes that realism is derived as a secondary condition of overlapping sense channels (PIFs), which have been diffracted. Like a musical chord or the continuity of the visible spectrum, the wholeness which underlies realism arises from the reuniting of locally broken absolutes into stereomorphs (solid forms) . Reuniting is accomplished by successful disimmediation, stripping out (eliding) spacetime entropy through validation aesthetics (understanding, completeness, perfection, knowledge, mutual correspondence, etc).

Myth of Primordial Objectivity – The philosophical cliche which begins “If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around to hear it…” probably stems from an oversimplification of George Berkeley’s idealism in which he questions the assumption for objects as we imagine them to stand on their own without our imagining. In some ways, his view presaged (or perhaps contributed to) the Copenhagen interpretation of early quantum mechanics in which the Observer Principle was defined to account for Heisenberg’s Uncertainty. Unfortunately, views which include experiential and aesthetic dynamics are often trivialized in physics and mathematics, where, it can be argued, objectivity is a fundamental assumption. In math and physics, conditions ‘simply are’ whether or not they ‘seem to be’ in any particular experience. MSR seeks to rehabilitate the full force of Berkeleyan idealism by removing the constraint of human or even biological exceptionalism and arriving at a primordial identity pansensitivity.

Negative Aleph (-ℵ) – A symbol to represent sense used in diagrams. Mathematics uses Aleph numbers represent infinite cardinality. To translate the quantifiable aspects of sense into mathematical terms, the idea of negative cardinality has some appeal. Since cardinality conceives of such a primitive function of numbers (the sense of shapeless, yet precisely ordered “size” that we afford to pure quantities), in order to accurately place sense beneath measure and numbers, we might speak in terms of sense having incardinality, i.e. infinite pre-cardinality and infinite post-cardinality. Sense bleeds through quantitative partitions, as a spectrum bleeds across a diffraction grating or a melody bleeds across individual notes. No particular note is an indispensable part of a song, and any song can have many different renditions, each carrying some sense of style, intention, and character of the musician.  In this way, the mathematically viable aspects of sense can be understood as ”the transmeasurable context of experience from which numbers (and all measurement of measurables) can arise”.

Non-Well-Founded Identity Principle – Using the theory of non-well-founded sets (groups in which the group is a member within itself), a number based concept is proposed to replace the standard A=A principle of identity. This is to reflect the extra care that is necessary to avoid assuming isolation and nothingness, which, under MSR, can only exist as a representation. See also Likeness and Sole Entropy Well.

Occam’s Catastrophe – Occam’s Razor is a popular rule of thumb in considering possible theories. The principle of parsimony – that simple explanations are most often the truest explanations would seem to be thrown out the window under MWI. It seems that Multi-Worlds Interpretations of QM would have an entire universe be conjured out of nowhere for every interaction of every crumb on a dust mite’s back…all to avoid the possibility that the universe could include intentional causes as well as probabilistic ones.

Omniscient voyeur – “The View From Nowhere” is the title of one of Thomas Nagel’s book. It references the ability of humans to view the world in a detached way, a view from ‘nowhere in particular’.  While the capacity to objectify has been crucial for human intelligence and the development of science, it is not without a cost, particularly when approaching fundamentals such as the origin of consciousness and existence. Assuming objects without subjects can be understood to constitute a leaky philosophical vacuum, which may allow qualities that belong exclusively to awareness to be smuggled in where it does not belong and become prematurely naturalized in our minds.  See also, the Myth of Primordial Objectivity.

Oriental vs Western – The accidental convention of using the right side for subjective phenomena and the left side for objective phenomena in mapping the multisense continuum turned out to have some interesting etymological and anthropological significance. The use of the term Western to relate to pragmatic, scientific, and commercial outlooks contrasts with stereotypically mysterious ‘Eastern” philosophy gives an unexpected cultural context to Philosophy of Mind. There is a cognitive connection which relates East to the sunrise and to orientation as well. By using Orient vs Western instead of Oriental vs Occidental, the intention is to amplify the split between traditional and modern. The story of modernism has been a Westward migration geographically, and metaphorically to the ‘Left”, toward objectified physics and deconstruction of the self.

Ouroboran monism – Uses the self-consuming metaphor of Ouroboros to describe how materialism, idealism, and dualism are all part of a single twisting or involuted continuum (like a Klein Bottle of Mobius loop). The result is a monism which is not only singular in its inclusiveness of all phenomena, it is also singular in its coherence on one level in spite of diffracting into multiplicities of self reflection/negation on another.

Over and under signification – Within materialism, subjectivity could be said to be under-signified. Within idealism, objectivity is treated in a similar way. Both extremes over-signify their own perspective at the expense of the other, however, this relation can be seen as just another face of perceptual relativity. Is it wrong to see the duck or is it wrong to see the rabbit? MSR attempts to bring this reconciliation within philosophy of mind by producing an ontological model based on the continuum of sense in which duck and rabbit are only two possibilities along a universal spectrum.

p-vacuum – see philosophical vacuum

p-Zelig – An alternative to philosophical zombie (p-zombie) , borrowing the name from the title of the Woody Allen about a character who takes on the physical traits of those around him. See chameleon brain.

Pansensitivity and Panmechanism – Taking a cue from panpsychism, panmechanism and pansensitivity are two new variations to represent the role of awareness in the universe. Pansensitivity specifies a primitive aspect of nature which is felt or detected in some way, but not necessarily as a ‘mental’ phenomenon or human-like experience. Panmechanism would assert the opposite primitive, that all phenomena is fundamentally unconscious. In spite of the popularity of panmechanistic views, the evidence of our own experience makes them difficult to take seriously unless some plausible link could be found to bridge the Explanatory Gap. MSR takes pansensitivity further, to Primordial Identity Pansensitivity.

Perceptual Inertia – MSR considers perception, including inner perceptions, to be the universal underpinning of physics. As such, it is proposed that experiences themselves accumulate a kind of aesthetic momentum. Local intentions, over time, acquire associations from other experiential frames. The weaving together of multiple perceptual histories is known in MSR as perceptual inertial frames, and the weaving itself is known as soltrophy.

Perceptual Inertial Frame (PIF) – In practice, this concept is similar to other philosophical concepts such as lebenswelt, umwelt, or niche in that it refers to the world as it is experienced by some subject. The perceptual inertial frame of a child is different from that of an adult, as would any age or social position have its own set of stereotypical qualities. Eigenmorphism describes how dissimilarity by scale, morphology, or history is a determining factor in how any given PIF presents every other PIF. This is roughly analogous to how optics can predict the anamorphic reflection of a reflective cylinder or the distortion of a fisheye lens. Tying in occasions of perception to the physics concept of inertial frames, the PIF model provides a framework for connecting universal and physical ontology to local experiential scope and quality, and it provides a possible scientific basis to investigate that connection further. See also eigenmorphism, solitrophy.

Perceptual Relativity – Perception is profoundly relativistic. Certain optical illusions can be used to help us understand concepts like opponent processing and multistable perception. What looks like dark grey next to white will look like light grey next to black, and indications of shadow and naturalistic form contribute also to perception. General and Special Relativity, in a very different way, assume perception-like definitions of physics.  What is relativity if not some sensible relation? The main difference between the concept of inertial frames and multistable perception is that perception is private and presumed limited to living organisms, while physical groupings are public and considered universal to all material bodies. If that is true, it would make sense that both materialism and idealism (whether spiritual or information-theoretic) would mythologize presentation into fictional terms. Both material and ideal monisms, through their absolutist de-presentation of naive realism, subscribe to unacknowledged dualisms. Materialism and idealism do not explain each other, they only label each other illusions or emergent properties. Philosophy of Mind it seems, is itself a feature of perceptual relativity.

Perceptual Stack – Refers to the stack of perceptual inertial frames (PIFs) which constitute an experience or modality of consciousness. For example, what you are reading is a stack of perceptions ranging from the sub-personal (pixels > loops and lines) to the personal (letters > words > sentences > meaning) to the super-personal (coincidence and timing, metaphorical insights). See also Entropic frames / Holotrophic frames.

Philosophical Vacuum (p-vacuum) – It is said that Descartes formulated his famous cogito ergo sum (je pense, donc je suis: I think therefore I am) by methodically questioning every bit of reality that he could. Pretending that an evil demon was supplying him with “a complete illusion of an external world, including other minds”, Descartes found that he could doubt everything with the exception of his own thought.  In modern contexts, philosophical approaches such as computationalism and eliminativism challenge the supremacy of the solipsistic approach, citing neurological or informational phenomena as underpinning conscious personal awareness. MSR seeks to empty the field of assumptions even farther, to the point of absolute incoherence – to the point at which sense itself cannot be questioned by virtue of the inherent sensibility of questions and doubt. The perfect philosophical vacuum can include only the minimum ingredient required to provide for itself. Called sense in MSR, this ingredient is suggested to be a primordial capacity to receive and appreciate affect and to participate or project effect. Information and physics are seen to require sense as a precursor, so that while Descartes may have been premature in assuming personal cognition as primordial, modern mechanism may be equally premature in assuming automation. As a cosmological foundation, sense is not limited to human experience or biological experience. To the contrary, all phenomena are deemed to extend from some experienced perspective on some level, since there can be no difference between that which can never be experienced and that which does not exist.

Post-Particle Physics, aka Quorum Mechanics – A reinterpretation of quantum mechanical phenomena as fundamental feelings through which private presentations and public representations are metabolized. By pansensitivity, measurable phenomena are presumed not to emerge from nothingness (or nothingness-like-fluctuations) but rather they diverge from everythingness through self-convoluting insensitivity. What is measured by physics is not reality, it is the body’s measurement of the interactions of other bodies and instruments, themselves already fixed and frozen as facades within a stack of perceiver-specific inertial frames. This inverts the assumptions of both materialism and computationalism, such that all realized forms and functions, all particles and waves, are, from the Absolute perspective, the expressed antithesis of the primordial identity (pansensitivity).

Presentation Problem – Since even before Descartes substance dualism, Philosophy of Mind has been preoccupied with the gap between nature and mankind. Many different thinkers have posed questions which relate to self and world, mind and body, or mind and brain. MSR posits an essential theme which runs across the most important philosophical problems in that they all are really asking how we can account for the presentation of experience as aesthetic phenomena. MSR posits a solution to this problem, which includes the Hard Problem of Consicousness, the Explanatory Gap, the Symbol Grounding Problem, and the Binding or Combination Problem whereby aesthetic sensory experience is actually the fundamental metaphysical agenda.
Totality

Primordial Identity Pansensitivity (PIP) – Asserts that pansensitivity is not only a pervasive physical force, it is the sole ontological primitive, from which all forces, fields, energies, and dimensions diverge. Under PIP, ontology itself supervenes on sense. Striving for the perfect philosophical vacuum, no premise of rationality or sanity is taken for granted, it must be constructed within a ‘bare metal operating system’ of sensory participation.

Primordial improbability – A strange idea which relates awareness to coincidence, mutation, and statistical probability. By inverting the assumption of probability as inevitable (which is really only a naive intuition as far as I can tell, and could relate to local conditions rather than Absolute conditions), improbability emerges as a kind of fixed immeasurability from which all measure and rational expectation emerges. The rational diverges from the trans-rational. In any statistical analysis, the probability that what is being analyzed is sentient is the least rational possibility. A technical analysis of a stock market, for example, could have exotic statistical causes ascribed to trading patterns, but could any proposed cause of a statistical pattern be more exotic than if the pattern itself reflects some kind of intentional awareness. Surely it would be insane to suggest that the stock market had a mind of its own and made decisions according to its mood, yet that is precisely the cause that we must accept to explain the coordination and coincidence of processes within our brain and body. Even if we go with an eliminative materialist explanation of mind, and call it an epiphenomenon, it would be no less strange and miraculous to have guessed that the stock market would be possessed of any similar epiphenomenology. The premise that order, life, and consciousness are somehow related to a vastness of improbability is intuitively appealing and scientifically supported already, but taking that to an extreme may yield an altogether revolutionary insight. Statistical relation, as the mechanism behind teleonomy (the machine of the machine, or the automation of automation) fits well as the the polar opposite against teleology. To sense and will intentionally is to initiate a proprietary and local break from the generic and universal, and this it’s manual control is the antithesis of automaticity by probability.

Private physics – Physicalism is not without its charms. Certainly the correlation of brain activity with subjective experience is strong enough to warrant a respect for physics in the realm of subjectivity. Even so, the vast differences between our private experience and what can be measured publicly combined with the undesirability of resorting to metaphysical influences provides ample justification for redefining all phenomena in the universe in terms of their privacy or publicity, while retaining the underlying concrete realism implied by the term ‘physics’. What we experience psychologically can only be physics, but physics, on some level of description, can only be psychological.

Profound Edge and Pedestrian Fold – Two conceptual meridians within the multisense continuum which are opposing midway points between subjectivity and objectivity. The pedestrian fold is what occurs ‘in front of our face’ as perceptions in a world of social human interaction. The profound fold is what might occur ‘behind our backs’ during extraordinary states of consciousness where personal experience seems fused with the Absoute, either directly as a mystical experience, or indirectly through understanding of complex mathematics. The contrast of ‘edge’ and ‘fold’ is intentional, as the former connotes a twilight or occult transition from private to public, while the latter is presented as a matter of fact.

Qua – The conceptual root of both quanta and qualia. Synonymous with the Absolute, sense, and pansensitivity, qua proposes that private feeling and public measurement diverge from a common sense, rather than emerge from a senseless process.

Quanta and qualia – Quanta is used here to mean quantum mechanical entities, numbers, and measurement in general. Qualia, means the ‘raw feels’ of sensation (i.e. the experience of the redness of red, as distinct from any information processing or biochemistry associated with producing that effect). Within MSR, qualia is distinct from sense only in that it has been diffracted one step so that it allows private intention. Quanta is the common residue of all diffraction – the public answer to the private question.

Qui – (who?) would be the hypothetical ‘other half’ of the quantum wavefunction, and can be represented (obnoxiously, but memorably) by the sideways letter psi. This signifies that aesthetic presence and qualitative appreciation (being and feeling) is orthogonal to the doing and knowing of quantum mechanics. Qui is not the measurement but the context of orientation from which measurement is experienced. It is explicitly neither wave, particle, form, or function, but neither is it non-wavelike, non-particle-like, formless, or unrelated to function. Qui is exactly what being alive is to us as human beings, except on a much more primitive level. It is the capacity to participate as an oscillating source of both animistic and mechanistic qualities.

Quorum mechanics  – See post-particle physics

Range and scope – Reminds us to use sense metaphors rather than abstractions such as ‘force’, ‘field’, and ‘law’. MSR suggests that all behaviors that we can observe are, on some level, a comparison of sensitivities and motivations. A radio receiver does not receive an electromagnetic field through its antenna, rather the radio is a device to exploit the natural harmonic affinity between all materials (which makes it easy to carry, for example, the vibrations of vocal chords, to microphones, to electric circuits, to broadcast towers, receivers, headphones, eardrums, and neurochemical circuits).

Sensorimotive Electromagnetism – The conjecture that magnetic and electric fields are felt directly through matter as sensory affect (magnetism) and motive effect (electricity). It may be more correct to correlate sense and motive to the interior dynamics of particle and wave, since quantum level effects can be more fundamental than electromagnetic effects, however with PIP and Post-Particle Physics, electromagnetism could be the last ‘real’ level of physics, before we begin sinking into a misinterpretation of the common sense of matter for material presences themselves. The main point is to draw the parallels between sensory-motive receiving-projecting and the binary vs analog sensibilities of electromagnetism. This view reasons that since electromagnetic changes in the brain are so closely associated with changes in consciousness, electromagnetism itself may be a primitive form of awareness. It is only our indirect measurement of electromagnetism which misleads us into assuming that EM is non-sensory.

Sensory-Motive – In biology, afferent and efferent are terms used to distinguish the nerves which receive sensory input from the motor neurons which effect a response from muscle cells. The human brain stem, likewise, has an upper and lower region. When the former is damaged, it produces a vegetative coma state (no sense). When the lower region is damaged, it produces paralysis of the body but no interruption to consciousness. Seeing this part of a universal pattern, sensory-motive phenomena is proposed as the most local description of sense. There are many morphological analogs within biology – head and tail, flower and stem, tree and trunk, etc as well as elementary particle analogs of charge and spin. Because animals are convoluted on many levels between the elementary and the zoological scales, we can distinguish between inner control of attention (motive effect) and outer influence over the body in the public world of bodies (motor effect).

Sole Entropy Well – The MSR alternative interpretation of the Big Bang is knows as the Big Diffraction. The Sole Entropy Well model assumes the Big Diffraction interpretation of boundaryless transmultiplicity rather than a pointillist singularity, and adds a solution to Loschmidt’s paradox. The paradox notes the contradiction of a universe in which total entropy is perpetually increasing, and an initial condition in which low entropy appears out of nowhere. Boltzmann’s entropy curve suggests a statistical fluctuation in low entropy conditions, which, like the metastable vacuum flux and Many Worlds Interpretation cosmologies, produce a kind sleight of hand. Instead of failing to explain one universe, they presume to show how the creation of this universe could simply be the consequence of the existence of many universes (which also cannot be explained). Bypassing this false satisfaction, the Sole Entropy Well model proposes that entropy can only arise from a single source of all significance, and that source is the capacity for sense itself. If we are talking in information theory terms, we can use ‘signal’ instead of sense, such that the capacity to send and receive signals is the always the maximally significant signifier. The highest entropy would be the loss of the capacity to connect with anything in any sense – which would be annihilation. The universe, therefore is a continuum of sense (significance production) which expands into its own modulated insensitivity (entropy diffraction, aka spacetime). See also altruistic monad.

Solitrope – A local attractor which represents, in some sense, the Absolute. Home would be the solitrope for a family. Profit for a business. Water for a living organism. The promise of solace, salvation, safety. Take Leibniz’ Monadology and add a dollop of Process Philosophy and we get something like an advertisement for the Supreme Monad – a local oasis, perfectly appealing in its opposition to ‘the whips and scorns of time’.

Solitrophy (Solitropy) – If solitropy is the tendency to want to ‘pass Go and collect $200′, then solitrophy is the desire to do more and have more each time the cycle is complete. Solitrophy is used in some esoteric diagrams to imply the weaver of worlds from the thread of entropy and significance. Solitrophy is the unacknowledged aesthetic aspect of evolution – the proliferation of richer simplicities which belie the purely statistical emergence of complexity.

sub-personal, super-personal – A more general approach to integrating what has been called the Subconscious or Id and Superego or Collective Unconscious. See Sub-private.

Sub-private, private, super-private – Terms designed to weave together math, physics, and phenomenology because they focus on privacy as an ontological feature. If we want to look at awareness from a functional perspective (disclaimer: don’t do this unless you already understand that function must rely on the aesthetic qualities of sense to generate significance), we find that privacy is a plausible justification for the difference between physical and phenomenal aesthetics. See private physics.

Superposition of the Absolute – While the concept of superposition has enjoyed wide acceptance on the microcosmic level of quantum physics, the idea of the Totality of the universe being a kind of multistable perception has not been considered. The superposition of a wavefunction is tolerated because it helps us justify what we have measured of particles once they have decohered, but under PIP, the entire cosmos can be understood to be perpetually in superposition, or perhaps meta-superposition in which fully half of the universe is in superposition and subject to private interpretation (perceptual relativity), while the other half is an accumulation of measurable histories (bodies in space). If this were true, it invites the possibility that all wavefunctions share the identical, nested, non-well-founded superposition, one which can be understood as sense or perceptual relativity itself.

Super-Signifier – Stems from the hypothesis that gods or archetypes are figures which represent superlative qualities. This can be derived from an evolutionary psychology perspective, in which stories circulating about the qualities of people and places are exaggerated into a successively fictionalized hyperbole hierarchy. To amplify the significance of good and bad into super-significance, composites of personalities are condensed as heroes and villains, divine and evil, and finally absolute divinity. From a teleological perspective, mythology, which reigns even in modern contexts as celebrity and commercial branding, is a guiding, mandala like fetish that permeates our local privacy from what could be called super-privacy or eternal privacy (aka Jung’s Collective Unconscious, the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, etc).

Syzygy – The word syzygy can refer to either a literal alignment of three bodies, such as the Sun, Earth, and Moon during an eclipse, or figuratively as the yoking together of opposites, as in Jung’s animus and anima. Because the two meanings are opposites in the sense that the first is expressly physical and the second is psychological, the word syzygy is itself a syzygy in the second sense. The overlapping sense of mandala, monad, and syzygy is a strong theme in MSR, and many diagrams follow this pattern.

Transmeasurable or Transmultiplicity – The idea that measurability itself is only one sensible context among many, so that even infinite computation is dwarfed by finite experiential (aesthetic) qualities. .  Mathematically this translates into the suggestion that all infinite sets are actually smaller than the Absolute set (which is aesthetic under PIP) , which is technically finite but transmeasurable. The primary colors for example, Red, Green, and Blue (or Red. Yellow, and Blue) contain or reflect vastly more ‘values’ than could any quantitative description of wavelength/frequency, even when that description is divided infinitely (or into virtual sub-Planck units). Because each part of the visible spectrum represents its own location within the continuum literally as well as all color combinations figuratively, the sense of finite primary and secondary hues evokes more value than could computable wavelengths alone, even though they are potentially infinite.

Unlikelihood – See Primordial Improbability

UPP Hypothesis – A variety of pansensitive alternatives to PIP.

Wholes through holes (Subtractive coherence or Transrational Gestalt Algebras) – The property of perception to present a simple but rich sensation rather than a complex data set. Unlike a symbol, where representational meaning is specified artificially, raw perceptions are instead understood to cohere on their own level in a bi-directional fashion. We can see this as we project images and meanings on what we see due to our personal awareness and cultural influences. The Rorschach effect is more indicative of private physics than Bayesian processes – the bottom up selection means nothing without a top down expectation of simplicity and wholeness.

Yellow Light – Used as a metaphor in describing how free will can be compatible with determinism and incompatible at the same time. In a traffic light, the red and green signals are taken to issue an unambiguously deterministic command. The yellow light points to the driver to use their own awareness and judgment. The yellow light is really a meta-signal that relates to the status of the what the signal is going to do. In the same way, our will allows us to try to inject more freedom to reinterpret signals and create unprecedented intentional effects.

“Is Consciousness a Controlled Hallucination?”

August 27, 2021 7 comments

In this new video from 8/25/2021, philosophers Philip Goff and Keith Frankish discuss consciousness with neuroscientist Anil Seth, whose new book is Being You: A New Science of Consciousness (which I have not read yet). Following are my comments on the first half of the video:

Jumping right in from the first few minutes, I have some questions, criticisms and insights that are worth mentioning. My apologies for the long winded, irritatingly constructed sentences that probably detract from what I’m trying to say more than clarify, but it’s important to me that I communicate the nuances in excruciating detail. Maybe someone or some AI internet archive spider will find it interesting in fifty years.

8:45 (Anil Seth) “Everything that we perceive is an active construction. It’s generated by the brain.”

Has this been tested and found to be conclusively true, or is it an assumption + confirmation bias? How do we know that what we perceive is not an active filtration or modulation of access to other contexts of consciousness (transpersonal, subpersonal, etc)? How do we know it is active construction rather than participatory collaboration?
What is the physical mechanism by which “the brain” (the whole organ? neurons? molecular changes within neurons?) “generates” (Explanatory Gap/Hard Problem goes here) these “constructions” (sights, sounds, flavors, thoughts…call them qualia)?

Note: *Importantly, anything we refer to as a brain is also only known as qualia, by qualia, for qualia. A brain is an object rendered in our sense of touch, an image rendered in our sense of sight, an idea rendered in our sense of understanding. We have no valid reason to presume objects to be anything other than shared or universal qualia. To the contrary, even the physicalist/eliminative position demands that everything that we experience and can ever experience, including all physical phenomena, can only ever be a representation of conditions inside of a (literally meta-physical) program or biochemical virtual “function space”. If physicalism is right, we can never contact physics in any way and are forever trapped in some kind of Platonic cave of computations that only seem physical, or only seem like computations, or only seem to seem…or something.

9:28 (AS) “My perceptions have the characteristic phenomenology – they appear the way they appear because that’s useful for my overall survival as an organism.”

My argument against this is that it is clearly a “Just So story”, that is, a post-hoc justification of appearances without being based on any plausible a priori possibility of a capacity to generate appearances physically, let alone for any such thing to provide a possibility of survival advantage over the ordinary complex physical activities of other body systems that we presume do not generate appearances and would not improve as a result of them. 1

Indeed, it seems quite implausible that of all phenomena that have come to exist in the universe, only these certain groups of cells in certain organic bodies have this unexplained physical power to generate non-physical appearances…to themselves…that bear some isomorphic relation to everything else in the universe…that actually has no appearance at all.

The entire physical universe is, under the contemporary neuroscientific view that Seth advocates, without appearance – an invisible, intangible, unexperienced void that spontaneously acquires a monumentally grand variety of distinct, multisensory appearances when certain very specific kinds of biochemical events occur in certain sequences. But how? And Why?

Given the staggeringly effective abilities of a simple periodic table of atoms generated by simple stars to physically generate and maintain every organism, every immune system, every brain structure and function without any such thing as appearance, why would this virtual dashboard “appearance”, within which a hallucinated “user” of such hallucinated dashboards also virtually “appears”, offer any improved chance of survival to a reproducing body of cells? There are neurons in the gut too. What is our theory for how and why these systems of cells would not benefit by creating hallucinated ‘constructions’ for…their mission critical activities (or is it for their constructed ‘selves’)?

9:40 (AS) “Redness is not objectively out there in the world. There’s just wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation”

The problem here is that our expectation of electromagnetic radiation, and of a world, and of objectivity would also have to be constructions. Our sense of a physical reality that has no appearance and can never be contacted in any way, must also be a construction. No matter how much science we do, and how objectively we think we are being, we can only ever validate our sense constructions by more constructed appearances of relation between theories (intellectual constructions) about observations (meta-perceptual constructions derived from multiple similar perceptual constructions). You can’t have it both ways. If consciousness is constructed, then every sense of correspondence between constructions is also constructed. We can’t put ourselves in a hallucinatory box without that box also being hallucinatory.

10:19 (AS) “In some conditons, like under psychedelic drugs or in psychosis, whatever, your perceptions become less controlled by the relevant sensory data.”

Is it always less controlled, or do altered states of consciousness sometimes appear to open access to sensory data that is controlled by different, but no less controlling features of reality beyond physical appearance constructions? Some of that data may be in conflict to some extent with our default conditioning, and even physical causality, but not always. Psychedelics and psychosis are sometimes tied to genius insights and unusually high performance (Doc Ellis’s LSD No-Hitter as an example). Transpersonal/psychedelic appearances may defy ordinary personal and subpersonal control, but that does not mean that the defiance is not simply another, perhaps higher2 context of control. There may be conflict and chaos between modes and scales of awareness, and that is fairly described as ‘uncontrolled’, but it need not imply that what is bleeding through personal awareness is not also a form of highly developed awareness. By analogy, two strong, clear radio station signals may be received by one receiver as a garbled confusion of two signals and static. In addition, examples like Doc Ellis’ psychedelic no-hitter present a counterfactual data point to the hypothesis that it is always adaptive for hallucinations to tend to resemble physical conditions and causes.

11:51 AS makes an important point about prediction not always being about predicting the future, but rather we might also refer to perceptual fill-in of missing data ‘prediction’. What needs more attention, IMO is the wholeness or gestalt of the appearance. A simulacra such as a face appearing in a cloud does not appear to be filling in something as a computer would try many different possible solutions, rather one solution or another appears in its entirety at any given moment. While the neuroscientific view focuses on the information processing function of suppressing ambiguity, the more interesting issue to me to focus on is what that ambiguity is replaced with – seemingly complete and aesthetically rich presentations that are revealed in a finished form rather than constructed over time, as if being pulled from some eternal Akashic gallery of archetypes. It seems to make no difference whether the gestalt is from memory or novel as far as the level of detail of its completeness or the speed in which it is accessed. When I see the Mona Lisa in the image below, it is ephemeral yet persistent, and neither fuzzy nor focused.

uncredited image from the internet

In the case of novel gestalts (such as a weird, non-famous face in slice of toast), the fill-in would appear to have no value or a negative value to abductive reasoning (~13:12). The simulacra toast face does not lead us to an explanation of a physical cause of that sensation. Note that our early advances in artificial image recognition do not produce these kinds of prefabricated gestalts, but rather just the opposite.

See my writings here for more information.

In fact, without the side by side comparison, the digitized output of Bayesian-like backpropagation does not really resemble an image. It is an anti-simulacra…a source of potential recognition strategies, but what is being recognized is not a visible image, but invisible statistics. Why, if Anil Seth’s view is on the right track, do our guesses and predictions look like they are coming from ‘somewhere’, rather than from nowhere?

The conversation continues into describing the role of prediction for both biology and consciousness. There is no question that human personal consciousness uses Bayesian-like probabilistic methods of accessing what I would call subpersonal data, but whether that data is simply another layer of conscious experience or an unexperienced biochemical process remains untouched by neuroscientific inquiry. Yes, our perception certainly can model to predict something evolutionarily functional (red octagon = Stop sign) but that does not explain what the appearance of color or shape actually is, how it appears, or why. Retrospectively, once we have qualia/appearances, then sure, we have every reason to benefit against natural selection pressures by using them, but we would have the same reason to benefit from any power that transcends ordinary physics. Omniscience would come in handy, and it’s just as likely to emerge spontaneously from physics as any sort of qualia.

The retrospective benefit of prediction does not in any way prospectively justify the existence of qualia or its value for prediction over and above biochemistry. Everything that Anil is saying is important to the easy problem of consciousness, and it gives us a plausible connection between evolved Bayesian prediction mechanisms and evolutionary biology, but it doesn’t give us any insight into how either of those mechanical-anesthetic functions could relate to phenomenological (aesthetic-participatory) presentations, or the possibility of their being generated physically or mathematically. Philip makes this point later on, around ~21:00, that the predictive features of consciousness are neutral as far as dualism v materialism is concerned.

Although Anil goes on to say that his materialism is pragmatic rather than an absolute philosophical conviction, he does not really seem to support that. Instead his defense of pragmatic materialism seems more tied to a preference for working with brain function rather than metaphysical speculation. I don’t disagree, but it’s not an argument that defends materialism objectively. It is of course more pragmatic professionally to know about the brain than it is to know about the big picture of life, the universe, and everything, but that doesn’t make it more true. As he continues around ~28:00, it seems clear to me that his rejection of Dualism (which I reject as well, but for the opposite reason3) is itself a kind of naive rejection of a straw man of Dualism, it’s history and popular association with the harmful behaviors of religious groups, etc. It’s a pedantic, and overused disqualification of all things non-material on general grounds of being ‘unhelpful’ and silly seeming. I think that there are good evolutionary reasons for that bias toward matter and by extension survival of the material body, but it is an unscientific bias nonetheless.

Around 33:45, Keith asks Anil about realism and privacy. His response includes “Buses have qualities, properties such as solidity and velocity that do not rely on a mind to exist.”

Here I would say that we only know that those physical properties do not require our mind to exist, but we do not know that such properties are anything other than other properties of consciousness. Perhaps there are impersonal qualities of conscious experience that are common to certain contexts and modalities of sense that have become nearly universal. If our sense of physicality is derived from our haptic-tactile sensitivity and perceptual processing, then it makes sense evolutionarily that the appearance of our body and it’s existence in a world of bodies/objects/matter is rendered with robust realism. That physical universe that our bodies exist within may be the sole common context that binds all experiences together, however that universe may in turn be dependent on a larger context of a universal haptic-tactile sense capacity that prefigures biology, and which may be dependent on a still larger context of an irreducibly aesthetic Totality or Holos.

The discussion goes on to mention Donald Hoffman’s Interface theory, where Anil comments that he parts ways at the point where Hoffman’s view suggests conscious agents everywhere. I call this ‘promiscuous panpsychism’ and agree that it seems unparsimonious – however – I see agency itself as irreducibly qualitative, so that it need not be a prerequisite for qualia. I propose that the universe may exist as an experiential phenomenon prior to a robust sense of agency, and that qualities like redness, or visibility itself may exist as modes of awareness independent of any container of multiple other types of awareness. Something like subjectivity may develop from more primitive sensory-motive qualities, which we may have mistakenly conceived of in non-participatory terms such as electromagnetism. In other words, the sense of being a participant may evolve from pre-agent experiential-aesthetic phenomena of “motive” or “participation”. It may be that agency is nothing more than a sense experience of persistent separation from of multiple other sense experiences.

I think that Anil is wise in stating at ~43:22 that his view does not insist that qualia must be reduced exclusively to behaviors, dispositions, and functions. He goes on to say that he thinks that the self is not a separate entity as in Dualism, but is just another controlled hallucination. I agree with that, however, if we follow the reasoning to its logical conclusion, Seth is saying that it is the brain that is hallucinating itself as a self, rather than as a brain appearance. This to me is arbitrary and inconsistent. If the self is a phenomenological model of something, then so must the brain be also – and physics. Whatever it is that hallucinates both physics, brains, and selves cannot be meaningfully described as physical, and the whole notion of hallucination begins to unravel itself. Neither self nor brain has any reason to hallucinate, and if hallucination is more primitive than either of those, there is no reason to diminish it in hallucinatory terms. If my suggestion of universal qualia is on the right track, that would be the more fundamental reality, or even more fundamental than reality as it encompasses fact, fiction, nonsense and qualia in which all three can comingle as well as transcended.

More that I agree with after the 50:00 mark, Anil talks about the brain being fundamentally an organ concerned with keeping the body alive. The problem is that view doesn’t offer any explanation of how that function would be so different from that of any other body organ or system that it would allow its predictive, homeostatic strategies to be anything other than the biochemical gears and timers that we observe them to physically be. What makes the homeostasis of a body any more worthy of non-physical aesthetic seemings and hallucinations than any other system within a body? The immune system has to record and strategize against pathogens, shouldn’t it also have evolved feelings, thoughts, sounds, etc to model its games and meta-games?

After the 57:00, Philip brings up Free Will and the extreme positions of Determinism vs Libertarian Free Will. Here again, Anil’s response is a fall back to cliched arguments from incredulity; “Not even wrong”, “Not the kind of argument that warrants…” These aren’t valid objections. They might be true, but you have to provide a reason why. How you feel about it isn’t relevant. “What could that possibly mean?” he asks at 58:39…”Without invoking some sort of thing that has causal agency…” “I have no need for that hypothesis”.

Except that you do need some kind of hypothesis for how you can purport to have authority to decide what hypotheses you need in the first place. What is this “you” that the brain puppet on the screen speaks of? How can it have opinions or change them?

I understand Anil’s line of objection as I used to think of free will in the same way for many years. I reasoned that we have no choice but to make the ‘best’ choice we are aware is possible. After flipping my physicalist worldview many years ago however, I see the limitations of that assumption. While I completely agree with determinists and neuroscientists who point to our shockingly bad estimation of the independence of our will from subconscious influences, I no longer see that as a valid reason to eliminate some measure of direct personal agency as a legitimate influence on its own.

For example, sure, I can connect up a device to someone’s brain and zap them into making their arm move. If I zap it just right, they will think that they have made it move, but if we follow the causal chain back from the zap, it is my personal agency that is clicking the button to override their personal agency. In addition to chronically overestimating our own sense of free will, I see that we also chronically underestimate it, and that human beings routinely demonstrate remarkably unprecendented acts of creativity – inventing their own new choices rather than simply following the nudgings of their default brain states.

This gets into a much deeper discussion into the fabric of causality, which in my view can be understood in a radically new way. To use a metaphor of a traffic light, where Anil Seth’s view might reduce a Yellow (“Caution”) traffic signal to a slightly more complicated flow chart of Red and Green deterministic calculations (How fast am I going? How long has the light been Yellow? etc) and other more subtle calculations (“That car on the right looks like it’s going too fast to clear the intersection”, “I can’t be late for this appointment”, etc), we have to ask why those computations would require some sort of experience of seeming to wield authority over the final edit of decision and the rather Promethean-seeming power of motor execution. Why wouldn’t the choice just happen without an “us”? Why would it be a choice rather than simply an arbitrarily next step in a series of generic computations? What feels proprietary about the final execution choice, and why? What feels responsible and endeavors to make others act responsibly?

I propose a different view of causality as a spectrum of overlapping interdependencies of influence. In the absolute sense, it is not will that is the illusion, but determinism and randomness. Will may be the authentic primordial phenomenon while mechanism and chaos are artifacts of interface entropy/insensitivity. What we see in the behavior of quantum phenomena for example may not be anything other than deeply microphenomenal will, or the distant ancestor of will. Not random, and not the Green Light / Red Light of determinism. Instead of reducing the Yellow Light to a flow chart of Green and Red dichotomies, I flip the assumption and see Green and Red dichotomies as the approximated appearances – collapsed states of Yellow light experiences of will that are not directly accessible to our interface. I’m not suggesting a kind of panpsychism where every electron is agonizing over their destiny like Hamlet, but rather that what we see as an electron is itself only a reflection of many contexts of experience that are ultimately united in superposition of both ‘to be’ and ‘not to be’…the eternal and the eternally ephemeral.

I observe that the strong nature of the objections to taking personal will as ontologically distinct from other influences as, ironically, a reflection of the particular modes of sense and sense-making that we have learned to use and cherish from legacy of scientific Enlightenment thinking. Ironic because we are using our free will to choose to deny free will. Could anything else even have the power to deny itself sincerely? Once we drop the anthropocentric and biocentric bias from our understanding of sense, we no longer have a reason to assume that the haptic-tactile sense of a physical world is the sole authoritative context within which reality is defined. That sense, as well as visibility, may only be specialized modalities of objectifying and separating, so that it would be a category error to look to them to find evidence of will. Will is at the opposite end of the continuum of sense – the most intimate and least objectified influence on reality. You won’t find it in a microscope or photomultiplier. What we do find in our experiments with photomultipliers, however, defy any reasonable expectation of randomness or determinism, proving again and again to be more than either…more like the Yellow Light than either the Red/Green of determinism or the arbitrary blinking of both. It appears to be “uncertainty” all the way down, so how is that not will? If it is will or proto-will, why should we be the sole phenomenon in the universe who posses only an illusion of it?

I’ll stop here at the 1:00:00 mark for now. Will continue watching the second half and post my comments soon. Or I won’t! Depends on what I decide, and what reasons I choose, of the many that influence me from the subpersonal, personal, and transpersonal levels of my awareness to place above other influences. No matter how few degrees of freedom I really have, just the sense that I exist at all, and that will is even conceivable objectively contain more degrees of freedom than a universe in which those experiences/phenomena do not exist.

Part 2 of this is here.

1 See Raymond Tallis excellent book “Aping Mankind“, chapter “The Disappearance of Appearance”. I have also lifted the terms prospective and retrospective from his writing on this topic.

2 More aesthetically rich, seemingly more meaningful, multivalent, synchronistic, and often seemingly more teleologically driven.

3 In my understanding, Dualism is insufficient not because of any ties to superstition or fantasy, but because it doesn’t go far enough, and because I think that Locke and Galileo made a mistake in giving objectified qualia Primary status, relegating trans-tangible and intangible qualia Secondary status for centuries to come. Unlike physical or mathematical law, aesthetic qualia are conserved across all context of realism and surrealism. Even under synesthesia, a word or number may have a color, but the color and the word are merely bound together, not indistinguishable. Red is red whether we are dreaming, hallucinating, or wide awake. Whether visible wavelength photons are present or not. Most qualia is conserved across states of consciousness but many physical laws are not. I may dream of a physical world where gravitational laws are unstable or anti-realistic, but I cannot dream of a world where the color red has no visible appearance.

Commentary on The Ouroboros Code

October 17, 2019 4 comments

The Ouroboros Code

Reality’s Digital Alchemy Self-Simulation
Bridging Science and Spirituality

 

I just finished reading the new book by my friend Antonin Tuynman called The Ouroboros Code. In addition to being a great read, the book devotes an entire chapter to Multisense Realism (Exciting!). I highly recommend the book, as it really covers the issue of consciousness in its current 2019 state while avoiding the pitfalls of so many other books. Tuynman explores the most interesting frontiers of consciousness via philosophy, neuroscience, and information theory to arrive at a thesis that is surprisingly similar to my own. I really enjoy both his style of writing and his thorough, yet concise approach and look forward to his future publications.

I will leave the real reviewing of the book to others, but suffice it to say, anyone who is interested in philosophy of mind, AI, theoretical physics, the brain, alchemy, and the metaphysics of the apocalypse will certainly be satisfied. On the vast majority of points that are covered in the book, I find myself in solid agreement, particularly with his stance on “free will” as part of the ground of existence rather than an illusion. What I wanted to do here is to lay out the few points on which our views seem to diverge, or where I have had some additional ideas.
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Joscha Bach: We need to understand the nature of AI to understand who we are – Part 2

December 17, 2018 1 comment

This is the second part of my comments on Nikola Danaylov’s interview of Joscha Bach: https://www.singularityweblog.com/joscha-bach/

My commentary on the first hour is here. Please watch or listen to the podcast as there is a lot that is omitted and paraphrased in this post. It’s a very fast paced, high-density conversation, and I would recommend listening to the interview in chunks and following along here for my comments if you’re interested.

JB_Part2

1:00:00 – 1:10:00

JB – Conscious attention in a sense is the ability to make indexed memories that I can later recall. I also store the expected result and the triggering condition. When do I expect the result to be visible? Later I have feedback about whether the decision was good or not. I compare result I expected with the result that I got and I can undo the decision that I made back then. I can change the model or reinforce it. I think that this is the primary mode of learning that we use, beyond just associative learning.

JB – 1:01:00 Consciousness means that you will remember what you had attended to. You have this protocol of ‘attention’. The memory of the binding state itself, the memory of being in that binding state where you have this observation that combines as many perceptual features as possible into a single function. The memory of that is phenomenal experience. The act of recalling this from the protocol is Access Consciousness. You need to train the attentional system so it knows where you store your backend cognitive architecture. This is recursive access to the attentional protocol, you remember when you make the recall. You don’t do this all the time, only when you want to train this. This is reflexive consciousness. It’s the memory of the access.

CW – By that definition, I would ask if consciousness couldn’t exist just as well without any phenomenal qualities at all. It is easy to justify consciousness as a function after the fact, but I think that this seduces us into thinking that something impossible can become possible just because it could provide some functionality. To say that phenomenal experience is a memory of a function that combines perceptual features is to presume that there would be some way for a computer program to access its RAM as perceptual features rather than as the (invisible, unperceived) states of the RAM hardware itself.

JB – Then there is another thing, the self. The self is a model of what it would be like to be a person. The brain is not a person. The brain cannot feel anything, it’s a physical system. Neurons cannot feel anything, they’re just little molecular machines with a Turing machine inside of them. They cannot even approximate arbitrary function, except by evolution, which takes a very long time. What do we do if you are a brain that figures out that it would be very useful to know what it is like to be a person? It makes one. It makes a simulation of a person, a simulacrum to be more clear. A simulation basically is isomorphic in the behavior of a person, and that thing is pretending to be a person, it’s a story about a person. You and me are persons, we are selves. We are stories in a movie that the brain is creating. We are characters in that movie. The movie is a complete simulation, a VR that is running in the neocortex.

You and me are characters in this VR. In that character, the brain writes our experiences, so we *feel* what it’s like to be exposed to the reward function. We feel what it’s like to be in our universe. We don’t feel that we are a story because that is not very useful knowledge to have. Some people figure it out and they depersonalize. They start identifying with the mind itself or lose all identification. That doesn’t seem to be a useful condition. The brain is normally set up so that the self thinks that its real, and gets access to the language center, and we can talk to each other, and here we are. The self is the thing that thinks that it remembers the contents of its attention. This is why we are conscious. Some people think that a simulation cannot be conscious, only a physical system can, but they’ve got it completely backwards. A physical system cannot be conscious, only a simulation can be conscious. Consciousness is a simulated property of a simulated self.

CW – To say “The self is a model of what it would be like to be a person” seems to be circular reasoning. The self is already what it is like to be a person. If it were a model, then it would be a model of what it’s like to be a computer program with recursively binding (binding) states. Then the question becomes, why would such a model have any “what it’s like to be” properties at all? Until we can explain exactly how and why a phenomenal property is an improvement over the absence of a phenomenal property for a machine, there’s a big problem with assuming the role of consciousness or self as ‘model’ for unconscious mechanisms and conditions. Biological machines don’t need to model, they just need to behave in the ways that tend toward survival and reproduction.

(JB) “The brain is not a person. The brain cannot feel anything, it’s a physical system. Neurons cannot feel anything, they’re just little molecular machines with a Turing machine inside of them”.

CW – I agree with this, to the extent that I agree that if there were any such thing as *purely* physical structures, they would not feel anything, and they would just be tangible geometric objects in public space. I think that rather than physical activity somehow leading to emergent non-physical ‘feelings’ it makes more sense to me that physics is made of “feelings” which are so distant and different from our own that they are rendered tangible geometric objects. It could be that physical structures appear in these limited modes of touch perception rather than in their own native spectrum of experience because that are much slower/faster and older than our own.

To say that neurons or brains feel would be, in my view, a category error since feeling is not something that a shape can logically do, just by Occam’s Razor, and if we are being literal, neurons and brains are nothing but three-dimensional shapes. The only powers that a shape could logically have are geometric powers. We know from analyzing our dreams that a feeling can be symbolized as a seemingly solid object or a place, but a purely geometric cell or organ would have no way to access symbols unless consciousness and symbols are assumed in the first place.

If a brain has the power to symbolize things, then we shouldn’t call it physical. The brain does a lot of physical things but if we can’t look into the tissue of the brain and see some physical site of translation from organic chemistry into something else, then we should not assume that such a transduction is physical. The same goes for computation. If we don’t find a logical function that changes algorithms into phenomenal presentations then we should not assume that such a transduction is computational.

(JB) “What do we do if you are a brain that figures out that it would be very useful to know what it is like to be a person? It makes one. It makes a simulation of a person, a simulacrum to be more clear.”

CW – Here also the reasoning seems circular. Useful to know what? “What it is like” doesn’t have to mean anything to a machine or program. To me this is like saying that a self-driving car would find it useful to create a dashboard and pretend that it is driven by a person using that dashboard rather than being driven directly by the algorithms that would be used to produce the dashboard.

(JB) “A simulation basically is isomorphic in the behavior of a person, and that thing is pretending to be a person, it’s a story about a person. You and me are persons, we are selves. We are stories in a movie that the brain is creating.”

CW – I have thought of it that way, but now I think that it makes more sense if we see both the brain and the person as parts of a movie that is branching off from a larger movie. I propose that timescale differentiation is the primary mechanism of this branching, although timescale differentiation is only one sort of perceptual lensing that allows experiences to include and exclude each other.

I think that we might be experiential fragments of an eternal experience, and a brain is a kind of icon that represents part of the story of that fragmentation. The brain is a process made of other processes, which are all experiences that have been perceptually lensed by the senses of touch and sight to appear as tangible and visible shapes.

The brain has no mechanical reason to make movies, it just has to control the behavior of a body in such a way that repeats behaviors which have happened to coincide with bodies surviving and reproducing. I can think of some good reasons why a universe which is an eternal experience would want to dream up bodies and brains, but once I plug up all of the philosophical leaks of circular reasoning and begging the question, I can think of no plausible reason why an unconscious body or brain would or could dream.

All of the reasons that I have ever heard arise as post hoc justifications that betray an unscientific bias toward mechanism. In a way, the idea of mechanism as omnipotent is even more bizarre than the idea of an omnipotent deity, since the whole point of a mechanistic view of nature is to replace undefined omnipotence with robustly defined, rationally explained parts and powers. If we are just going to say that emergent phenomenal magic happens once the number of shapes or data relations is so large that we don’t want to deny any power to it, we are really just reinventing religious faith in an inverted form. It is to say that sufficiently complex computations transcend computation for reasons that transcend computation.

(JB) “The movie is a complete simulation, a VR that is running in the neocortex.”

CW – We have the experience of playing computer games using a video screen, so we conflate a computer program with a video screen’s ability to render visible shapes. In fact, it is our perceptual relationship with a video screen that doing the most critical part of the simulating. The computer by itself, without any device that can produce visible color and contrast, would not fool anyone. There’s no parsimonious or plausible way to justify giving the physical states of a computing machine aesthetic qualities unless we are expecting aesthetic qualities from the start. In that case, there is no honest way to call them mere computers.

(JB) “In that character, the brain writes our experiences, so we *feel* what it’s like to be exposed to the reward function. We feel what it’s like to be in our universe.”

Computer programs don’t need desires or rewards though. Programs are simply executed by physical force. Algorithms don’t need to serve a purpose, nor do they need to be enticed to serve a purpose. There’s no plausible, parsimonious reason for the brain to write its predictive algorithms or meta-algorithms as anything like a ‘feeling’ or sensation. All that is needed for a brain is to store some algorithmically compressed copy of its own brain state history. It wouldn’t need to “feel” or feel “what it’s like”, or feel what it’s like to “be in a universe”. These are all concepts that we’re smuggling in, post hoc, from our personal experience of feeling what it’s like to be in a universe.

(JB)” We don’t feel that we are a story because that is not very useful knowledge to have. Some people figure it out and they depersonalize. They start identifying with the mind itself or lose all identification.”

It’s easy to say that it’s not very useful knowledge if it doesn’t fit our theory, but we need to test for that bias scientifically. It might just be that people depersonalize or have negative results to the idea that they don’t really exist because it is false, and false in a way that is profoundly important. We may be as real as anything ever could be, and there may be no ‘simulation’ except via the power of imagination to make believe.

(JB) “The self is the thing that thinks that it remembers the contents of its attention. This is why we are conscious.”

CW – I don’t see a logical need for that. Attention need not logically facilitate any phenomenal properties. Attention can just as easily be purely behavioral, as can ‘memory’, or ‘models’. A mechanism can be triggered by groups of mechanisms acting simultaneously without any kind of semantic link defining one mechanism as a model for something else. Think of it this way: What if we wanted to build an AI without ANY phenomenal experience? We could build a social chameleon machine, a sociopath with no model of self at all, but instead a set of reflex behaviors that mimic those of others which are deemed to be useful for a given social transaction.

(JB) “A physical system cannot be conscious, only a simulation can be conscious.”

CW – I agree this is an improvement over the idea that physical systems are conscious. What would it mean for a ‘simulation’ to exist in the absence of consciousness though? A simulation implies some conscious audience which participates in believing or suspending disbelief in the reality of what is being presented. How would it be possible for a program to simulate part of itself as something other than another (invisible, unconscious) program?

(JB) “Consciousness is a simulated property of a simulated self.”

I turn that around 180 degrees. Consciousness is the sole absolutely authentic property. It is the base level sanity and sense that is required for all sense-making to function on top of. The self is the ‘skin in the game’ – the amplification of consciousness via the almost-absolutely realistic presentation of mortality.

KD – So in a way, Daniel Dennett is correct?

JB – Yes,[…] but the problem is that the things that he says are not wrong, but they are also not non-obvious. It’s valuable because there are no good or bad ideas. It’s a good idea if you comprehend it and it elevates your current understanding. In a way, ideas come in tiers. The value of an idea for the audience is if it’s a half tier above the audience. You and me have an illusion that we find objectively good ideas, because we work at the edge of our own understanding, but we cannot really appreciate ideas that are a couple of tiers above our own ideas. One tier is a new audience, two tiers means that we don’t understand the relevance of these ideas because we don’t have the ideas that we need to appreciate the new ideas. An idea appears to be great to us when we can stand right in its foothills and look at it. It doesn’t look great anymore when we stand on the peak of another idea and look down and realize the previous idea was just the foothills to that idea.

KD – Discusses the problems with the commercialization of academia and the negative effects it has on philosophy.

JB – Most of us never learn what it really means to understand, largely because our teachers don’t. There are two types of learning. One is you generalize over past examples, and we call that stereotyping if we’re in a bad mood. The other tells us how to generalize, and this is indoctrination. The problem with indoctrination is that it might break the chain of trust. If someone doesn’t check the epistemology of the people that came before them, and take their word as authority, that’s a big difficulty.

CW – I like the ideas of tiers because it confirms my suspicion that my ideas are two or three tiers above everyone else’s. That’s why y’all don’t get my stuff…I’m too far ahead of where you’re coming from. 🙂

1:07:00 Discussion about Ray Kurzweil, the difficulty in predicting timeline for AI, confidence, evidence, outdated claims and beliefs etc.

1:19        JB – The first stage of AI: Finding things that require intelligence to do, like playing chess and then implementing it as an algorithm. Manually engineering strategies for being intelligent in different domains. Didn’t scale up to General Intelligence

We’re now in the second phase of AI, building algorithms to discover algorithms. We build learning systems that approximate functions. He thinks deep learning should be called compositional function approximation. Using networks of many functions instead of tuning single regressions.

There could be a third phase of AI where we build meta-learning algorithms. Maybe our brains are meta-learning machines, not just learning stuff but learning ways of discovering how to learn stuff (for a new domain). At some point there will be no more phases and science will effectively end because there will be a general theory for global optimization with finite resources and all science will use that algorithm.

CW – I think that the more experience we gain with AI, the more we will see that it is limited in ways that we have not anticipated, and also that it is powerful in ways that we have not anticipated. I think that we will learn that intelligence as we know it cannot be simulated, however, in trying to simulate it, we will have developed something powerful, new, and interesting in its impersonal orthogonality to personal consciousness. The revolution may not be about the rise of computers becoming like people but of a rise in appreciation for the quality and richness of personal conscious experience in contrast to the impersonal services and simulations that AI delivers.

1:23        KD – Where does ethics fit, or does it?

JB – Ethics is often misunderstood. It’s not about being good or emulating a good person. Ethics emerges when you conceptualize the world as different agents, and yourself as one of them, and you share purposes with the other agents but you have conflicts of interest. If you think that you don’t share purposes with the other agents, if you’re just a lone wolf, and the others are your prey, there’s no reason for ethics – you only look for the consequences of your actions for yourself with respect for your own reward functions. It’s not ethics though – not a shared system of negotiation because only you matter, because you don’t share a purpose with the others.

KD – It’s not shared but it’s your personal ethical framework, isn’t it?

JB – It has to be personal. I decided not to eat meat because I felt that I shared a purpose with animal; the avoidance of suffering. I also realized that it is not mutual. Cows don’t care about my suffering. They don’t think about it a lot. I had to think about the suffering of cows so I decided to stop eating meat. That was an ethical decision. It’s a decision about how to resolve conflicts of interest under conditions of shared purpose. I think this is what ethics is about. It’s a rational process in which you negotiate with yourself and with others, the resolution of conflicts of interest under contexts of shared purpose. I can make decisions about what purposes we share. Some of them are sustainable and others are not – they lead to different outcomes. In a sense, ethics requires that you conceptualize yourself as something above the organism; that you identify with the systems of meanings above yourself so that you can share a purpose. Love is the discovery of shared purpose. There needs to be somebody you can love that you can be ethical with. At some level you need to love them. You need to share a purpose with them. Then you negotiate, you don’t want them all to fail in all regards, and yourself. This is what ethics is about. It’s computational too. Machines can be ethical if they share a purpose with us.

KD – Other considerations: Perhaps ethics can be a framework within which two entities that do not share interests can negotiate in and peacefully coexist, while still not sharing interests.

JB – Not interests but purposes. If you don’t share purposes then you are defecting against your own interests when you don’t act on your own interest. It doesn’t have integrity. You don’t share a purpose with your food, other than that you want it to be nice and edible. You don’t fall in love with your food, it doesn’t end well.

CW – I see this as a kind of game-theoretic view of ethics…which I think is itself (unintentionally) unethical  I think it is true as far as it goes, but it makes assumptions about reality that are ultimately inaccurate as they begin by defining reality in the terms of a game. I think this automatically elevates the intellectual function and its objectivizing/controlling agendas at the expense of the aesthetic/empathetic priorities. What if reality is not a game? What if the goal is not to win by being a winner but to improve the quality of experience for everyone and to discover and create new ways of doing that?

Going back to JB’s initial comment that ethics are not about being good or emulating a good person, I’m not sure about that. I suspect that many people, especially children will be ethically shaped by encounters with someone, perhaps in the family or a character in a movie who appeals to them and who inspires imitation. Whether their appeal is as a saint or a sinner, something about their style, the way they communicate or demonstrate courage may align the personal consciousness with transpersonal ‘systems of meanings above’ themselves. It could be a negative example which someone encounters also. Someone that you hate who inspires you to embody the diametrically opposite aesthetics and ideals.

I don’t think that machines can be ethical or unethical, not because I think humans are special or better than machines, but out of simple parsimony. Machines don’t need ethics. They perform tasks, not for their own purposes, or for any purpose, but because we have used natural forces and properties to perform actions that satisfy our purposes. Try as we might (and I’m not even sure why we would want to try), I do not think that we will succeed in changing matter or computation into something which both can be controlled by us and which can generate its own purposes. I could be wrong, but I think this is a better reason to be skeptical of AI than any reason that computation gives us to be skeptical of consciousness. It also seems to me that the aesthetic power of a special person who exemplifies a particular set of ethics can be taken to be a symptom of a larger, absolute aesthetic power in divinity or in something like absolute truth. This doesn’t seem to fit the model of ethics as a game-theoretic strategy.

JB – Discussion about eating meat, offers example pro-argument that it could be said that a pasture raised cow could have a net positive life experience since they would not exist but for being raised as food. Their lives are good for them except for the last day, which is horrible, but usually horrible for everyone. Should we change ourselves or change cattle to make the situation more bearable? We don’t want to look at it because it is un-aesthetic. Ethics in a way is difficult.

KD – That’s the key point of ethics. It requires sometimes we make choices that are not in our own best interests perhaps.

JB – Depends what we define ourself. We could say that self is identical to the well being of the organism, but this is a very short-sighted perspective. I don’t actually identify all the way with my organism. There are other things – I identify with society, my kids, my relationships, my friends, their well being. I am all the things that I identify with and want to regulate in a particular way. My children are objectively more important than me. If I have to make a choice whether my kids survive or myself, my kids should survive. This is as it should be if nature has wired me up correctly. You can change the wiring, but this is also the weird thing about ethics. Ethics becomes very tricky to discuss once the reward function becomes mutable. When you are able to change what is important to you, what you care about, how do you define ethics?

CW – And yet, the reward function is mutable in many ways. Our experience in growing up seems to be marked by a changing appreciation for different kinds of things, even in deriving reward from controlling one’s own appetite for reward. The only constant that I see is in phenomenal experience itself. No matter how hedonistic or ascetic, how eternalist or existential, reward is defined by an expectation for a desired experience. If there is no experience that is promised, then there is no function for the concept of reward. Even in acts of self-sacrifice, we imagine that our action is justified by some improved experience for those who will survive after us.

KD – I think you can call it a code of conduct or a set of principles and rules that guide my behavior to accomplish certain kinds of outcomes.

JB – There are no beliefs without priors. What are the priors that you base your code of conduct on?

KD – The priors or axioms are things like diminishing suffering or taking an outside/universal view. When it comes to (me not eating meat), I take a view that is hopefully outside of me and the cows. I’m able to look at the suffering of eating a cow and their suffering of being eaten. If my prior is ‘minimize suffering’, because my test criteria of a sentient being is ‘can it suffer?’ , then minimizing suffering must be my guiding principle in how I relate to another entity. Basically, everything builds up from there.

JB – The most important part of becoming an adult is taking charge of your own emotions – realize that your emotions are generated by your own brain/organism, and that they are here to serve you. You’re not here to serve your emotions. They are here to help you do the things that you consider to be the right things. That means that you need to be able to control them, to have integrity. If you are just a victim of your emotions, and not do the things that you know are the right things, you don’t have integrity. What is suffering? Pain is the result of some part of your brain sending a teaching signal to another part of your brain to improve its performance. If the regulation is not correct, because you cannot actually regulate that particular thing, the pain signal will usually endure and increase until your brain figures it out and turns off the brain signaling center, because it’s not helping. In a sense suffering is a lack of integrity. The difficulty is only that many beings cannot get to the degree of integrity that they can control the application of learning signals in their brain…control the way that their reward function is computed and distributed.

CW – My criticism is the same as in the other examples. There’s no logical need for a program or machine to invent ‘pain’ or any other signal to train or teach. If there is a program to run an animal’s body, the program need only execute those functions which meet the criteria of the program. There’s no way for a machine to be punished or rewarded because there’s no reason for it to care about what it is doing. If anything, caring would impede optimal function. If a brain doesn’t need to feel to learn, then why would a brain’s simulation need to feel to learn?

KD – According to your view, suffering is a simulation or part of a simulation.

JB – Everything that we experience is a simulation. We are a simulation. To us it feels real. There is no getting around this. I have learned in my life that all of my suffering is a result of not being awake. Once I wake up, I realize what’s going on. I realize that I am a mind. The relevance of the signals that I perceive is completely up to the mind. The universe does not give me objectively good or bad things. The universe gives me a bunch of electrical impulses that manifest in my thalamus, and my brain makes sense of them by creating a simulated world. The valence in that simulated world is completely internal – it’s completely part of that world, it’s not objective…and I can control this.

KD – So you are saying suffering is subjective?
JB – Suffering is real to the self with respect to ethics, but it is not immutable. You can change the definition of your self, the things that you identify with. We don’t have to suffer about things, political situations for example, if we recognize them to be mechanical processes that happen regardless of how we feel about them.

CW – The problem with the idea of simulation is that we are picking and choosing which features of our experience are more isomorphic to what we assume is an unsimulated reality. Such an assumption is invariably a product of our biases. If we say that the world we experience is a simulation running on a brain, why not also say that the brain is also a simulation running on something else? Why not say that our experiences of success with manipulating our own experience of suffering is as much of a simulation as the original suffering was? At some point, something has to genuinely sense something. We should not assume that just because our perception can be manipulated we have used manipulation to escape from perception. We may perceive that we have escaped one level of perception, or objectified it, but this too must be presumed to be part of the simulation as well. Perception can only seem to have been escaped in another perception. The primacy of experience is always conserved.

I think that it is the intellect that is over-valuing the significance of ‘real’ because of its role in protecting the ego and the physical body from harm, but outside of this evolutionary warping, there is no reason to suspect that the universe distinguishes in an absolute sense between ‘real’ and ‘unreal’. There are presentations – sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings, objects, concepts, etc, but the realism of those presentations can only be made of the same types of perceptions. We see this in dreams, with false awakenings etc. Our dream has no problem with spontaneously confabulating experiences of waking up into ‘reality’. This is not to discount the authenticity of waking up in ‘actual reality’, only to say that if we can tell that it authentic, then it necessarily means that our experience is not detached from reality completely and is not meaningfully described as a simulation. There are some recent studies that suggest that our perception may be much closer to ‘reality’ than we thought, i.e. that we can train ourselves to perceive quantum level changes.

If that holds up, we need to re-think the idea that it would make sense for a bio-computer to model or simulate a phenomenal reality that is so isomorphic and redundant to the unperceived reality. There’s not much point in a 1 to 1 scale model. Why not just put the visible photons inside the visual cortex in exactly the field that we see? I think that something else is going on. There may not be a simulation, only a perceptual lensing between many different concurrent layers of experience – not a dualism or dual-aspect monism, but a variable aspect monism. We happen to be a very, very complex experience which includes the capacity to perceive aspects of its own perception in an indirect or involuted rendering.

KD – Stoic philosophy says that we suffer not from events or things that happen in our lives, but from the stories that we attach to them. If you change the story, you can change the way you feel about them and reduce suffering. Let go of things we can’t really control, body, health, etc. The only thing you can completely control is your thoughts. That’s where your freedom and power come to be. In that mind, in that simulation, you’re the God.

JB – This ability to make your thoughts more truthful, this is Western enlightenment in a way is aufklärung in German. There is also this other sense of enlightenment, erleuchtung that you have in a spiritual context. So aufklärung fixes your rationality and erleuchtung fixes your motivation. It fixes what’s relevant to you and your relationship between self and the universe.  Often they are seen as mutually exclusive, in the sense thataufklärung leads to nihilism, because you don’t give up your need for meaning, you just prove that it cannot be satisfied. God does not exist in any way that can set you free. In this other sense, you give up your understanding of how the world actually works so that you can be happy. You go down to a state where all people share the same cosmic consciousness, which is complete bullshit, right? But it’s something that removes the illusion of separation and the suffering that comes with the separation. It’s unsustainable.

CW – This duality of aufklärung and erleuchtung I see as another expression of the polarity of the universal continuum of consciousness. Consciousness vs machine, East vs West, Wisdom vs Intelligence. I see both extremes as having pathological tendencies. The Western extreme is cynical, nihilistic, and rigid. The Eastern extreme is naïve, impractical, and delusional. Cosmic consciousness or God does not have to be complete bullshit, but it can be a hint of ways to align ourselves and bring about more positive future experiences, both personally and or transpersonally.

Basically, I think that both the brain and the dreamer of the brain are themselves part of a larger dream that may or may not be like a dreamer. It may be that these possibilities are in participatory superposition, like an ambiguous image, so that what we choose to invest our attention in can actually bias experienced outcomes toward a teleological or non-teleological absolute. Maybe our efforts to could result in the opposite effect also, or some combination of the two. If the universe consists of dreams and dreamed dreamers, then it is possible for our personal experience to include a destiny where we believe one thing about the final dream and find out we were wrong, or right, or wrong then right then wrong again, etc. forever.

KD – Where does that leave us with respect to ethics though? Did you dismantle my ethics, the suffering test?

JB – Yeah, it’s not good. The ethic of eliminating suffering leads us to eliminating all life eventually. Anti-natalism – stop bringing organisms into the world to eliminate suffering, end the lives of those organisms that are already here as painlessly as possible, is this what you want?

KD – (No) So what’s your ethics?

JB – Existence is basically neutral. Why are there so few stoics around? It seems so obvious – only worry about things to the extent that worrying helps you change them…so why is almost nobody a Stoic?

KD – There are some Stoics and they are very inspirational.

JB – I suspect that Stoicism is maladaptive. Most cats I have known are Stoics. If you leave them alone, they’re fine. Their baseline state is ok, they are ok with themselves and their place in the universe, and they just stay in that place. If they are hungry or want to play, they will do the minimum that they have to do to get back into their equilibrium. Human beings are different. When they get up in the morning they’re not completely fine. They need to be busy during the day, but in the evening they feel fine. In the evening they have done enough to make peace with their existence again. They can have a beer and be with their friends and everything is good. Then there are some individuals which have so much discontent within themselves that they can’t take care of it in a single day. From an evolutionary perspective, you can see how this would be adaptive for a group oriented species. Cats are not group oriented. For them, it’s rational to be a Stoic. If you are a group animal, it makes sense for individuals to overextend themselves for the good of the group – to generate a surplus of resources for the group.

CW – I don’t know if we can generalize about humans that way. Some people are more like cats. I will say that I think it is possible to become attached to non-attachment. The stoic may learn to disassociate from the suffering of life, but this too can become a crutch or ‘spiritual bypass’.

 KD – But evolution also diversifies things. Evolution hedges its bets by creating diversity, so some individuals will be more adaptive to some situations than others.

JB – That may not be true. In larger habitats we don’t find more species in them. Competition is more fierce. We reduce the number of species dramatically. We are probably eventually going to look like a meteor as far as obliterating species on this planet.

KD – So what does that mean for ethics in technology? What’s the solution? Is there room for ethics in technology?

JB – Of course. It’s about discovering the long game. You have to look at the long term influences and you also have to question why you think it’s the right thing to do, what the results of that are, which gets tricky.

CW – I think that all that we can do is to experiment and be open to the possibilities that our experiments themselves may be right or wrong. There may be no way of letting ourselves off the hook here. We have to play the game as players with skin in the game, not as safe observers studying only those rules that we have invested in already.

KD – We can agree on that, but how do you define ethics yourself?

JB – There are some people in AI who think that ethics are a way for politically savvy people to get power over STEM people…and with considerable success. It’s largely a protection racket. Ethical studies are relatable and so make a big splash, but it would rarely happen that a self-driving car would have to make those decisions. My best answer of how I define ethics myself is that it is the principled negotiation of conflicts of interest under conditions of shared purpose. When I look at other people, I mostly imagine myself as being them in a different timeline. Everyone is in a way me on a different timeline, but in order to understand them I need to flip a number of bits. These bits are the conditions of negotiation that I have with you.

KD – Where to cows fit in? We don’t have a shared purpose with them. Can you have shared purpose with respect to the cows then?

JB – The shared purpose doesn’t objectively exist. You basically project a shared meaning above the level of the ego. The ego is the function that integrates expected rewards over the next fifty years.

KD – That’s what Peter Singer calls the Universe point of view, perhaps.

JB – If you can go to this Eternalist perspective where you integrate expected reward from here to infinity, most of that being outside of the universe, this leads to very weird things. Most of my friends are Eternalists. All these Romantic Russian Jews, they are like that, in a way. This Eastern European shape of the soul. It creates something like a conspiracy, it creates a tribe, and its very useful for corporations. Shared meaning is a very important thing for a corporation that is not transactional. But there is a certain kind of illusion in it. To me, meaning is like the Ring of Mordor.  If you drop the ring, you will lose the brotherhood of the ring and you will lose your mission. You have to carry it, but very lightly. If you put it on, you will get super powers but you get corrupted because there is no meaning. You get drawn into a cult that you create…and I don’t want to do that…because it’s going to shackle my mind in ways that I don’t want it to be bound.

CW – I agree it is important not to get drawn into a cult that we create, however, what I have found is that the drive to negate superstition tends toward its own cult of ‘substitution’. Rather than the universe being a divine conspiracy, the physical universe is completely innocent of any deception, except somehow for our conscious experience, which is completely deceptive, even to the point of pretending to exist. How can there be a thing which is so unreal that it is not even a thing, and yet come from a universe that is completely real and only does real things?

 KD – I really like that way of seeing but I’m trying to extrapolate from your definition of ethics a guide of how we can treat the cows and hopefully how the AIs can treat us.

JB – I think that some people have this idea that is similar to Asimov, that at some point the Roombas will become larger and more powerful so that we can make them washing machines, or let them do our shopping, or nursing…that we will still enslave them but negotiate conditions of co-existence. I think that what is going to happen instead is that corporations, which are already intelligent agents that just happen to borrow human intelligence, automate their decision making. At the moment, a human being can often outsmart a corporation, because the corporation has so much time in between updating its Excel spreadsheets and the next weekly meetings. Imagine it automates and weekly meetings take place every millisecond, and the thing becomes sentient and understands its role in the world, and the nature of physics and everything else. We will not be able to outsmart that anymore, and well will not live next to it, we will live inside of it. AI will come from top down on us. We will be its gut flora. The question is how we can negotiate that it doesn’t get the idea to use antibiotics, because we’re actually not good for anything.

KD – Exactly. And why wouldn’t they do that?

JB – I don’t see why.

CW – The other possibility is that AI will not develop its own agendas or true intelligence. That doesn’t mean our AI won’t be dangerous, I just suspect that the danger will come from our misinterpreting the authority of a simulated intelligence rather than from a genuine mechanical sentience.

KD – Is there an ethics that could guide them to treat us just like you decided to treat the cows when you decided not to eat meat?

JB – Probably no way to guarantee all AIs would treat us kindly. If we used the axiom of reducing suffering to build an AI that will be around for 10,000 years and keep us around too, it will probably kill 90% of the people painlessly and breed the rest into some kind of harmless yeast. This is not what you want, even though it would be consistent with your stated axioms. It would also open a Pandora’s Box to wake up as many people as possible so that they will be able to learn how to stop their suffering.

KD – Wrapping up

JB – Discusses book he’s writing about how AI has discovered ways of understanding the self and consciousness which we did not have 100 years ago. The nature of meaning, how we actually work, etc. The field of AI is largely misunderstood. It is different from the hype, largely is in a way, statistics on steroids. It’s identifying new functions to model reality. It’s largely experimental and has not gotten to the state where it can offer proofs of optimality.  It can do things in ways that are much better than the established rules of statisticians. There is also going to be a convergence between econometrics, causal dependency analysis, and AI, and statistics.  It’s all going to be the same in a particular way, because there’s only so many ways that you can make mathematics about reality. We confuse this with the idea of what a mind is. They’re closely related. I think that our brain contains an AI that is making a model of reality and a model of a person in reality, and this particular solution of what a particular AI can do in the modeling space is what we are. So in a way we need to understand the nature of AI, which I think is the nature of sufficiently general function approximation, maybe all the truth that can be found by an embedded observer, in particular kinds of universes that have the power to create it. This could be the question of what AI is about, how modeling works in general. For us the relevance of AI is how does it explain who we are. I don’t think there is anything else that can.

CW – I agree that AI development is the next necessary step to understanding ourselves, but I think that we will be surprised to find that General Intelligence cannot be simulated and that this will lead us to ask the deeper questions about authenticity and irreducibly aesthetic properties.

KD – So by creating AI, we can perhaps understand the AI that is already in our brain.

JB – We already do. Minsky and many others who have contributed to this field are already better ideas than anything that we had 200 years ago. We could only develop many of these ideas because we began to understand the nature of modeling – the status of reality.

The nature of our relationship to the outside world. We started out with this dualistic intuition in our culture, that there is a thinking substance (Res Cogitans) and an extended substance (Res Extensa)…stuff in space universe and a universe of ideas. We now realize that they both exist, but they both exist within the mind. We understand that everything perceptual gets mapped to a region in three space, but we also understand that physics is not a three space, it’s something else entirely. The three space exists only as a potential of electromagnetic interactions at a certain order of magnitude above the Planck length where we are entangled with the universe. This is what we model, and this looks three dimensional to us.

CW – I am sympathetic to this view, however, I suggest an entirely different possibility. Rather than invoking a dualism of existing in the universe and existing ‘in the mind’, I see that existence itself is an irreducibly perceptual-participatory phenomenon. Our sense of dualism may actually reveal more insights into our deeper reality than those insights which assume that tangible objects and information exist beyond all perception. The more we understand about things like quantum contextuality and relativity, I think the more we have to let go of the compulsion to label things that are inconvenient to explain as illusions. I see Res Cogitans and Res Extensa as opposite poles of a Res Aesthetica continuum which is absolute and eternal. It is through the modulation of aesthetic lensing that the continuum is diffracted into various modalities of sense experience. The cogitans of software and the extensa of hardware can never meet except through the mid-range spectrum of perception. It is from that fertile center, I suspect, that most of the novelty and richness of the universe is generated, not from sterile algorithms or game-theoretic statistics on the continuum’s lensed peripheries.

Everything else we come up with that cannot be mapped to three space is Res Cogitans. If we transfer this dualism into a single mind then we have the idealistic monism that we have in various spiritual teachings – this idea that there is no physical reality, that we live in a dream. We are characters dreamed by a mind on a higher plane of existence and that’s why miracles are possible. Then there is this Western perspective of a mechanical universe. It’s entirely mechanical, there’s no conspiracy going on. Now we understand that these things are not in opposition, they’re complements. We actually do live in a dream but the dream is generated by our neocortex. Our brain is not a machine that can give us access to reality as it is, because that’s not possible for a system that is only measuring a few bits at a systemic interface. There are no colors and sounds on Earth. We already know that.

CW – Why stop at colors and sounds though? How can we arbitrarily say that there is an Earth or a brain when we know that it is only a world simulated by some kind of code. If we unravel ourselves into evolution, why not keep going and unravel evolution as well? Maybe colors and sounds are a more insightful and true reflection of what nature is made of than the blind measurements that we take second hand through physical instruments? It seems clear to me that this is a bias which has not yet properly appreciated the hints of relativity and quantum contextuality. If we say that physics has no frame of reference, then we have to understand that we may be making up an artificial frame of reference that seems to us like no frame of reference. If we live in a dream, then so does the neocortex. Maybe they are different dreams, but there is no sound scientific reason to privilege every dream in the universe except our own as real.

The sounds and colors are generated as a dream inside your brain. The same circuits that make dreams during the night make dreams during the day. This is in a way our inner reality that’s being created on a brain. The mind on a higher plane of existence exists, it’s a brain of a primate that’s made of cells and lives in a mechanical physical universe. Magic is possible because you can edit your memories. You can make that simulation anything that you want it to be. Many of these changes are not sustainable, which is why the sages warn against using magic(k), because if down the line, if you change your reward function, bad things may happen. You cannot break the bank.

KD – To simplify all of this, we need to understand the nature of AI to understand ourselves.

JB – Yeah, well, I would say that AI is the field that took up the slack after psychology failed as a science. Psychology got terrified of overfitting, so it stopped making theories of the mind as a whole, it restricted itself to theories with very few free parameters so it could test them. Even those didn’t replicate, as we know now. After Piaget, psychology largely didn’t go anywhere, in my perspective. It might be too harsh because I see it from the outside, and outsiders of AI might argue that AI didn’t go very far, and as an insider I’m more partial here.

CW – It seems to me that psychology ran up against a barrier that is analogous to Gödel’s incompleteness. To go on trying to objectify subjectivity necessarily brings into question the tools of formalism themselves. I think that it may have been that transpersonal psychology had come too far too fast, and that there is still more to be done for the rest of our scientific establishment to catch up. Popular society is literally not yet sane enough to handle a deep understanding of sanity.

KD – I have this metaphor that I use every once in a while, saying that technology is a magnifying mirror. It doesn’t have an essence of its own but it reflects the essences that we put in it. It’s not a perfect image because it magnifies and amplifies things. That seems to go well with the idea that we have to understand the nature of AI to understand who we are.

JB – The practice of AI is 90% automation of statistics and making better statistics that run automatically on machines. It just so happens that this is largely co-extensional with what minds do. It also so happens that AI was founded by people like Minsky who had fundamental questions about reality.

KD – And what’s the last 10%?

JB – The rest is people come up with dreams about our relationship to reality, using our concepts that we develop in AI. We identify models that we can apply in other fields. It’s the deeper insights. It’s why we do it – to understand. It’s to make philosophy better. Society still needs a few of us to think about the deep questions, and we are still here, and the coffee is good.

CW – Thanks for taking the time to put out quality discussions like this. I agree that technology is a neutral reflector/magnifier of what we put into it, but I think that part of what we have to confront as individuals and as a society is that neutrality may not be enough. We may now have to decide whether we will make a stand for authentic feeling and significance or to rely on technology which does not feel or understand significance to make that decision for us.

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