Exective Summary


Executive Summary

In the history of attempts to understand consciousness there has been much debate over what is conscious, what is not, and what the relation is between the two categories. In simplistic terms, idealism conceives of matter as a phenomenon derived from consciousness while materialists conceive of consciousness as emerging from unconscious functions of matter. Dualism conceives of matter and consciousness as two fundamentally different categories of phenomena. Neutral Monism conceives of both mental and material phenomena as derived from a more fundamental property.

Multisense Realism begins with the Neutral Monism view in which there is a meta-property from which all other discernments and relations are derived. Rather than a metaphysical field or invisible realm, the MR conjecture is that this root property could be meaningfully described as ordinary ‘sense’. There are more descriptive terms to be applied, but the gist of them is very close to all of the ordinary things that we mean by sense. Consciousness is what we use to make sense of an experience which already makes sense.

The first question that MR asks is, can we make sense of a universe which does not make sense already? At this point rigid definitions of what sense is should be avoided – not to obscure but to discourage jumping to conclusions. Intolerance and impatience are perhaps the two most formidable obstacles to to understanding this new approach. This is not Creationism, Dualism, Idealism, Theism or any brand of anti-scientific ideology. There is nothing being sold here. The intention of MR is to open a door to a revolutionary synthesis of all empirically real phenomena. This new view, while shocking in some ways, promises to reconcile both the Western and Eastern frameworks for explaining consciousness and physics. This reconciliation is accomplished by dissolving both mind and body in a continuum of common sense. What can we say about sense?

  1. Sensation links our awareness with our body with the outside world. What we see, touch, hear, taste, etc of the world is all aesthetic experience of our various human sensitivities. Sensation provides us with experiences which inform us about our world through their ‘likeness’ – likeness between presences and representations, likenesses between relationships of likenesses. Sensation also informs us about ourselves by presenting us with what we like and what is like us. It is through sensation that we discern the self-evident contrast between public and private contexts.
  2. When we say that something ‘makes sense‘ or makes ‘perfect sense‘, we imply agreement with a universality of semantic coherence. This coherence, in turn, is itself a figurative lattice of agreement.
  3. When we say that something ‘makes sense to me‘, we imply a local semantic coherence – a harmonious integration with existing perceptions, experiences, and understandings with no contradiction.
  4. When we say ‘in the sense of‘, we refer to categories and contexts. Sense functions here to disambiguate ‘which’ of the possible contexts we might possibly intend to make relevant is the context you actually intend.
  5. Intuition is sometimes referred to as a ‘sixth sense‘. Experiences which appear to defy the constraints of time and space, or to convey extraordinary insights which cannot be explained by conventional logic point to a transcendent potential of sense. Psychic sensitivity, while arguably ruled out by contemporary science is, in some form, an anthropological universal. Every culture has a concept of spirits, of mediumship or shamanic vision, so that it cannot be discarded in any through investigation of consciousness.

These different usages of the word sense can be seen to hint at a common thread within subjectivity as well as the inflection point between subjectivity and objectivity, between private experience and public things. Language gives us a lot to explore in terms of how we bridge the gap between the private and public aspects of our experience. It is through language and etymology that we can begin to understand what the intuitive impressions of that relation have been, and by paying attention to the naming of words, derive some guidance in how to meet science half-way. Language teaches us about consciousness from the inside out, science teaches us about consciousness from the outside in.

Sense seems to have a lot to do with certain underlying themes. Connection between divided parts. Symmetry and opposition. Cycles and comparison. So many cultures in human history have found a cosmological anchor in designs and diagrams which feature these themes prominently. From the basic maze pattern to ornate mandalas, to alchemical diagrams, the representation of nature as an orderly juxtaposition of opposites has been overwhelmingly popular. In Western traditions in particular, such as those studied by the founders of scientific thought in the 16th and 17th centuries, the interplay between human experience and the physical world was imagined as a kind of geographical hierarchy radiating out from God. Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes, along with GW Leibniz, Francis Bacon, Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo are credited with freeing the world from this classical-archaic model inherited from philosophers like Aristotle and Plato and ushering in an age of Enlightenment. Nature, freed from the baggage of religion, could begin to be defined in its own terms, which turned out to be fantastically orderly and reliable.

It is not the purpose of MR to propose that we return to a pre-Copernican worldview, nor is it to call for a repeal of any methods of science. To the contrary, MR seeks to add new tools for science to approach subjectivity on its own terms, doing for private physics in the 21st century what the Enlightenment did for public physics in the 17th century. Where the scientific revolution tapped into the power of quantitative analysis, the next revolution must add to that an appreciation of qualitative identities. This is not as easy as it sounds. It may well require a radical shift, an ontological pivot from an expectation of complexity built up from nothingness to an expectation of simplicity isolated within ‘everythingness’.

MSR immodestly places itself at the end of the chain of advancing human worldviews:

Developmental Stage: transcendental voyeur (localizing motive) – what is observed/transcended

  • Archaic/shamanic: Natural spirits (magic) – alienates objectivity with direct animism
  • Classical/polytheistic: Named supernatural deities (prayer) – alienates physicality with empathetic identification
  • Post-Classical/monotheistic: Absolute supernatural deity (religious devotion) – alienates morality with indirect identification
  • Enlightenment/dualistic: Impersonal deity (reason) – alienates animism with mechanistic observation
  • Modern/scientific: Impersonal forces and laws* (engineering) – alienates subjectivity with abstract formulation
  • Post-modern/existential: Pure probability** (computation) – alienates subjective-objective dualism with quantum reconciliation
  • Integral/holistic: Re-enchanted information (signifying pattern) – alienates impersonal perspectives with quantized qualia.
  • Multisense/Ouroboran: Sensory perception (motive participation) – alienates alienation with qualia-quanta reconciliation.

*evacuated sense and motive
**evacuated physics

Each stage involves a stepping out of the previous system. The Integral/holistic stage steps out of all systems by considering them information. The Multisense/Ouroboran stage steps out of {the system of stepping out of systems} by considering system-making and system-breaking as the final and absolute reconciliation of private unity (time) and public multiplicity (space).

The pre-Enlightenment models of the universe revered the symmetry of the universe. The creedo ‘As above, so below’, as well as the Easter concept of yin and yang cite this kind of binary complementarity as fundamental. Even after this schema was abandoned by science, the fixation on binary complementarity remains inevitable. Electromagetism, Mass-energy, Space-time. Genetics has it’s interlocking set of bases. That’s only scratching the surface. The periodic table and quantum physics are overflowing with simple patterns, inversions, variations, sequences…only the aesthetic qualities are made irrelevant. Despite whimsical names for the ‘charm’ and ‘strange’ quarks, the sense of personality is intended ironically. The true nature of microcosmic phenomena is seen to be completely mathematical and devoid of personality – the symmetries arise purely from the expectation of simple rules rather than any vast eternal significance. The universe is assumed to be the ultimate machine, the ultimate parts of which are ultimately fragmented.

If we set that assumption aside for a moment, and instead apply the pre-scientific view to the view of the world which has been discovered by science, we can see that the old dialectics still reveal a compelling complementarity. Space is not just another kind of thing as time, it can be understood as the opposite of time as well. Matter is to space what energy is to time – a double orthogonal symmetry between matter-energy::space-time.

There are other dialectics as well, such as quanta::qualia, entropy::significance, relativity::perception which can be understood in surprisingly literal terms. MR suggests that relativity can be understood literally an aspect of universal perception and perception is a kind of local relativity. Quanta is a qualia which is least like qualia – counting is a flattened presentation used for representation. Space can be seen as a consequence of entropy, of the vanishing coherence of form. Significance is the inversion of entropy, using time as a medium for meaning to intensify and become enriched (think of how a joke or story builds meaning which is redeemed with a punchline or climax).

Besides dialectical symmetries, sense there is an important holographic character of perceptual relativity. The theme of having a vantage point from which we base our expectations (our thesis) shapes the view of the dialectical conjugate (the antithesis). The more intensely mechanistic a person’s worldview is, the more repulsed they are by the counter-mechanistic view (animism/solipsism/theism). While the totality of sense is conceived of as a unified continuum on one level, it is also understood to be loosely divided into these multiplicities of coordinated propensities. While the mechanistic-animistic is arguably the most prominent dialectic, with its curious Western-Eastern coincidence, there is a perpendicular thesis-antithesis as well: The profound and the pedestrian. The profound orientation tends to be rooted in Platonic ideals which apply to both physics and experience. There is little distinction between the two and the commonality is identified as pure ‘information’ or computation. The profound sensibility embraces the aloof abstraction of both art and science, but eschews the pragmatic, extroverted modes of production. The antithesis of this region, where self and world are most indiscernible from each other, is the pedestrian or mundane orientation, where subjective experience and physical objects are seen in their most pronounced presentation. All of the concerns of theoreticians are seen as equally irrelevant and human matters such as career and family are considered most important.

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