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In Three D: Data, Drama and Deity

November 21, 2013 3 comments

The words semaphore and metaphor are interesting to look at in the context of defining information and significance. Semaphore refers to a ‘bearer of signs’ (like a naval signaling flag), and also in programming to control access to shared resources. In both cases, the sense is of information which is not only an encoded text, but one in which the message pertains to a live event in real time. The semaphore is used to solicit attention to receive information as well as to inform.

I’m tempted to connect the prefix sema- with the etymologically unrelated semi-, as signs can, in some sense, be thought of as ‘half’ of a feeling. The signal provides a functioning form (ordered process of publicly available presence), while the interpretation of the signal provides a private experience of sensory significance.

In the pursuit of Strong AI, computer science has generally assumed that intelligence is, or can only be, a kind of entanglement of semaphores. Concepts are built from the bottom up as bits of data being stepped through a formal process of computation. The theoretical continuity between this ‘semaphoric reckoning’ with human intelligence hinges on the presumption that ‘complexity’ is a quality which is objective and autopoietic. Personally. I do not think that we can presume that, as the nature of any pattern is contingent upon pattern recognition. If we see a strand of DNA as a collection of individual atoms repeating in meaningless sequence, it need not be considered ‘complex’. If we see it instead as a single molecule, or as a recipe book for all life forms, then it would be very complex. I see it as a major problem, in light of the fact that the two phenomena are completely different depending on how we scope our attention to them, to assume that in the absence of any pattern recognition at all there would be or could be a difference between simplicity and complexity. If there is some principle of general aesthetic coherence which makes that determination, then we should name it and make it a requirement in order to have a completed physics.

On the other end of the spectrum that I am laying out, is what can be called metaphor. Where semaphores essentialize the literal and initiate unambiguous communication, metaphors essentialize the figurative and invite the interpreter to use the symbols to unlock their own experience. The semaphore points to the instrument of communication and the location of the transmission in space and time while the metaphor points through the instrument, deriving experiential significance non-locally through time. Semaphoric communication is scientific and mathematical, pulling attention into the public physic, while metaphoric communication is artistic and poetic, loosening attention into the private psyche. The significance of metaphor cannot be located within the text of a communication because it is drawn from common experience. The same fairy tale has a different set of meanings when it is read by a young child versus an English professor.

Taking this comparison to the ultimate extreme, the top-down metaphor can, in addition to seeing through the literal words that constitute it, implicate awareness itself. In contrast to this, the bottom-up semaphore, implicates automaticity – the mindless permutation function of repeating quantic forms. Data refers only to the literal process of ferrying and storing positive logic – additions superimposed on top of a void. Poetry, by overheating signs with subjective entropy, invites a promiscuity of association that, in its resonance and circularity, conjures meta-experience. It revers to ourselves, and to human experience in general. The poem is illogical negativism – it cuts meaning out of a layer cake of a priori human sympathies.

This ties back into another of my favorite dichotomies; that of superstition versus what I am calling substitution (or hypostition). The superstitious mind sees through the text of the world to see the face of God or the Devil behind every mundane coincidence. The psyche is too animated and profuse so that all of nature is read as supernatural and the low end is lost all together. Logic becomes confused and self-fulfilling. Fear and joy dominate reason. Every publicly extended signal becomes a privately intended message and the credibility of the source of the message collapses into naive acceptance or reactionary denial. Pathological denial and acceptance plays into the opposite mental extreme as well. The substitutious mind reduces all message content to the mere functioning of messaging devices. The mind which is attuned to this sub-natural level sees in all experience only the logical expression of simple facts. Even consciousness itself is deconstructed as an entanglement of semaphores. From this view, the poetic and aesthetic truths of the universe are unavailable, and a rigid formalism of reason dominates personal feelings.

It would seem that these two poles are evenly matched – the substitutious semaphore and the superstitious metaphor could be equally valuable and costly. Further consideration reveals that they are not completely symmetric, however. The difference between the poetic and the digital are only visible from the poetic facing side. The digital is effective because it can substitute – it emulates from the bottom of a particular substitution level of granularity. Even Planck scale is a scale that bottoms out with the minimum bit depth for measurement of public physics, rather than experiential privacy which cannot be measured reliably. I submit that it cannot be measured reliably because experience cannot be substituted. Like the top-down metaphor (which I now use as meta-metaphor), consciousness extends from the absolute in a way which is unrepeatable and unprecedented, even as it repeats over and over again.

Between the bookends of sub-phor and super-phor is the phoric range of ordinary experience. Many people do not spend much time contemplating the mysteries of information science or phenomenology, and so live in the more down-to-earth realm of the ordinary. Ironically, rather than cancelling out the mythic and mathematical extremes, the mid-range of awareness is perhaps the more fertile range. Games and sports take on fantastic import, and ordinary communications become soap opera-dramatic. The wide open marketplace of diurnal experience is spiced with both art and science, but the main products are significant in a completely different way. Rather than seeking the infinitessimal/instantaneous or the ultimate/eternal, the presentation of ordinary life seeks fortune and fulfillment personal choice. It contains vast opportunity and vast limitation which make us feel our lives to be both incredibly important and a complete waste of time all at once.

Prime Spiral

November 2, 2013 Leave a comment

workman:

visualizingmath:

The Ulam Spiral

The prime spiral, also known as Ulam’s spiral, is a plot in which the positive integers are arranged in a spiral with primes indicated in some way along the spiral. Unexpected patterns of diagonal lines are apparent in such a plot. This construction was first made by Polish-American mathematician Stanislaw Ulam (1909-1986) in 1963 while doodling during a boring talk at a scientific meeting. While drawing a grid of lines, he decided to number the intersections according to a spiral pattern, and then began circling the numbers in the spiral that were primes. Surprisingly, the circled primes appeared to fall along a number of diagonal straight lines or, in Ulam’s slightly more formal prose, it “appears to exhibit a strongly nonrandom appearance”

In the above variation of the Ulam spiral, red squares represent prime numbers and white squares represent non-primesImage source.

I can’t decide if I care about prime numbers. On the one hand, the idea of indivisibility is interesting as it relates to consciousness. In some sense, I think that the universe, and each experience of it, is a one-hit-wonder. All appearances of repetition are local to some frame of reference. If someone is color blind, they may see alternating red and green dots as a repeating grey dot. If you listen to someone speaking a language that you can’t understand, it can seem, on some level, that they are saying the same kinds of sounds over and over again.

I wondered if any random constraint would appear to contain pattern when mapped as a spiral like that. This one above is yellow hex if the number spelled out contains the letter i. Writing these out I noticed how the language we use to name the numbers is isomorphic above ten. A trivial observation, I know, but I think that this logical version of onomatopoeia reveals some insights about recursive enumeration, and its foundation in an expectation of the absolutely generic.

To someone who is fascinated by prime numbers (often in a hypnotic, compulsive kind of way, as these spirals suggest), part of the appeal may be that the patterns that they seem to make defy this expectation of generic, interchangeability as the basis of counting. Three isn’t really supposed to be different from two or one, it’s just “the next one after two”. Finding these cosmic Easter eggs by poring over mathematics is, as the movie Pi dramatized, a weird kind of quasi-religious calling. Seeking to sleuth out a hidden intelligence where neither intelligence nor secrecy would seem possible. Numbers are supposed to be universal; publicly accessible. There shouldn’t be any proprietary codes lurking in there.

Maybe there aren’t? Without mapping primes into these spirals to look at with our eyes, the interesting sequences and ratios in mathematics would not be so interesting. Mathematics may provide the most neutral and bland medium possible for the projection of patterns. Like a supernatural oracle or Rorschach inkblot, an ideal medium for pareidolia and conjuring of simulacra from the subconscious.

Math is haunted alright, but by pattern recognition – sense making, rather than Platonic essences. Because math is an ideal conductor and insulator for sense, it does end up reflecting sense in a clear and concise way, however I think it is mainly a reflection. Math is not the heart of the universe, not the whole, but the hole in the whole – a divider which shaves off differences with the power of indifference.

Wittgenstein, Physics, and Free Will

October 14, 2013 1 comment

JE: My experience from talking to philosophers is that WIttgenstein’s view is certainly contentious. There seem to be two camps. There are those seduced by his writing who accept his account and there are others who, like me, feel that Wittgenstein expressed certain fairly trivial insights about perception and language that most people should have worked out for themselves and then proceeded to draw inappropriate conclusions and screw up the progress of contemporary philosophy for fifty years. This latter would be the standard view amongst philosophers working on biological problems in language as far as I can see.

Wittgenstein is right to say that words have different meanings in different situations – that should be obvious. He is right to say that contemporary philosophers waste their time using words inappropriately – any one from outside sees that straight away. But his solution – to say that the meaning of words is just how they are normally used, is no solution – it turns out to be a smoke screen to allow him to indulge his own prejudices and not engage in productive explanation of how language actually works inside brains.

The problem is a weaseling going on that, as I indicated before, leads to Wittgenstein encouraging the very crime he thought he was clever to identify. The meaning of a word may ‘lie in how it is used’ in the sense that the occurrences of words in talk is functionally connected to the roles words play in internal brain processes and relate to other brain processes but this is trivial. To say that meaning is use is, as I said, clearly a route to the W crime itself. If I ask how do you know meaning means use you will reply that a famous philosopher said so. Maybe he did but he also said that words do not have unique meanings defined by philosophers – they are used in all sorts of ways and there are all sorts of meanings of meaning that are not ‘use’, as anyone who has read Grice or Chomsky will have come to realise. Two meanings of a word may be incompatible yet it may be well nigh impossible to detect this from use – the situation I think we have here. The incompatibility only becomes clear if we rigorously explore what these meanings are. Wittgenstein is about as much help as a label on a packet of pills that says ‘to be taken as directed’.

But let’s be Wittgensteinian and play a language game of ordinary use, based on the family resemblance thesis. What does choose mean? One meaning might be to raise in the hearer the thought of having a sense of choosing. So a referent of ‘choose’ is an idea or experience that seems to be real and I think must be. But we were discussing what we think that sense of choosing relates to in terms of physics. We want to use ‘choose’ to indicate some sort of causal relation or an aspect of causation, or if we are a bit worried about physics still having causes we could frame it in terms of dynamics or maybe even just connections in a spacetime manifold. If Wheeler thinks choice is relevant to physics he must think that ‘choose’ can be used to describe something of this sort, as well as the sense of choosing.

So, as I indicated, we need to pin down what that dynamic role might be. And I identified the fact that the common presumption about this is wrong. It is commonly thought that choosing is being in a situation with several possible outcomes. However, we have no reason to think that. The brain may well not be purely deterministic in operation. Quantum indeterminacy may amplify up to the level of significant indeterminacy in such a complex system with so powerful amplification systems at work. However, this is far from established and anyway it would have nothing to do with our idea of choosing if it was just a level of random noise. So I think we should probably work on the basis that the brain is in fact as tightly deterministic as matters here. This implies that in the situation where we feel we are choosing THERE IS ONLY ONE POSSIBLE OUTCOME.

The problem, as I indicated is that there seem to be multiple possible outcomes to us because we do not know how are brain is going to respond. Because this lack of knowledge is a standard feature of our experience our idea of ‘a situation’ is better thought of as ‘an example of an ensemble of situations that are indistinguishable in terms of outcome’. If I say when I get to the main road I can turn right or left I am really saying that I predict an instance of an ensemble of situations which are indistinguishable in terms of whether I go right or left. This ensemble issue of course is central to QM and maybe we should not be so surprised about that – operationally we live in a world of ensembles, not of specific situations.

So this has nothing to do with ‘metaphysical connotations’ which is Wittgenstein’s way of blocking out any arguments that upset him – where did we bring metaphysics in here? We have two meanings of choose. 1. Being in a situation that may be reported as being one of feeling one has choice (to be purely behaviourist) and 2. A dynamic account of that situation that turns out not to agree with what 99.9% of the population assume it is when they feel they are choosing. People use choose in a discussion of dynamics as if it meant what it feels like in 1 but the reality is that this use is useless. It is a bit like making burnt offerings to the Gods. That may be a use for goats but not a very productive one. It turns out that the ‘family resemblance’ is a fake. Cousin Susan who has pitched up to claim her inheritance is an impostor. That is why I say that although to ‘feel I am choosing’ is unproblematic the word ‘choice’ has no useful meaning in physics. It is based on the same sort of error as thinking a wavefunction describes a ‘particle’ rather than an ensemble of particles. The problem with Wittgenstein is that he never thought through where his idea of use takes you if you take a careful scientific approach. Basically I think he was lazy. The common reason why philosophers get tied in knots with words is this one – that a word has several meanings that do not in fact have the ‘family relations’ we assume they have – this is true for knowledge, perceiving, self, mind, consciousness – all the big words in this field. Wittgenstein’s solution of going back to using words the way they are ‘usually’ used is nothing more than an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

So would you not agree that in Wheeler’s experiments the experimenter does not have a choice in the sense that she probably feels she has? She is not able to perform two alternative manoeuvres on the measuring set up. She will perform a manoeuvre, and she may not yet know which, but there are no alternatives possible in this particular instance of the situation ensemble. She is no different from a computer programmed to set the experiment up a particular way before particle went through the slits, contingent on a meteorite not shaking the apparatus after it went through the slits (causality is just as much an issue of what did not happen as what did). So if we think this sort of choosing tells us something important about physics we have misunderstood physics, I beleive.

Nice response. I agree almost down the line.

As far as the meaning of words go, I think that no word can have only one meaning because meaning, like all sense, is not assembled from fragments in isolation, but rather isolated temporarily from the totality of experience. Every word is a metaphor, and metaphor can be dialed in and out of context as dictated by the preference of the interpreter. Even when we are looking at something which has been written, we can argue over whether a chapter means this or that, whether or not the author intended to mean it. We accept that some meanings arise unintentionally within metaphor, and when creating art or writing a book, it is not uncommon to glimpse and develop meanings which were not planned.

To choose has a lower limit, between the personal and the sub-personal which deals with the difference between accidents and ‘on purpose’ where accidents are assumed to demand correction, and there is an upper limit on choice between the personal and the super-personal in which we can calibrate our tolerance toward accidents, possibly choosing to let them be defined as artistic or intuitive and even pursuing them to be developed.

I think that this lensing of choice into upper and lower limits, is, like red and blue shift, a property of physics – of private physics. All experiences, feelings, words, etc can explode into associations if examined closely. All matter can appear as fluctuations of energy, and all energy can appear as changes in the behavior of matter. Reversing the figure-ground relation is a subjective preference. So too is reversing the figure-ground relation of choice and determinism a subjective preference. If we say that our choices are determined, then we must explain why there is a such thing as having a feeling that we choose. Why would there be a difference, for example, in the way that we breathe and the way that we intentionally control our breathing? Why would different areas of the brain be involved in voluntary control, and why would voluntary muscle tissue be different from smooth muscle tissue if there were no role for choice in physics? We have misunderstood physics in that we have misinterpreted the role of our involvement in that understanding.

We see physics as a collection of rules from which experiences follow, but I think that it can only be the other way around. Rules follow from experiences. Physics lags behind awareness. In the case of humans, our personal awareness lags behind our sub-personal awareness (as shown by Libet, etc) but that does not mean that our sub-personal awareness follows microphysical measurables. If you are going to look at the personal level of physics, you only have to recognize that you can intend to stand up before you stand up, or that you can create an opinion intentionally which is a compromise between select personal preferences and the expectations of a social group.

Previous Wittgenstein post here.

If You See Wittgenstein on the Road… (you know what to do)

October 10, 2013 1 comment

Me butting into a language based argument about free will:

> I don’t see anything particularly contentious about Wittgenstein’s claim that the meaning of a word lies in how it is used.

Can something (a sound or a spelling) be used as a word if it has no meaning in the first place though?

>After all, language is just an activity in which humans engage in order to influence (and to be influenced by) the behaviour of other humans.

Not necessarily. I imagine that the origin of language has more to do with imitation of natural sounds and gestures. Onomatopoeia, for example. Clang, crunch, crash… these are not arbitrary signs which derive their meaning from usage alone. C. S. Pierce was on the right track with discerning between symbols (arbitrary signs whose meaning is attached by use alone), icons (signs which are isomorphic to their referent), and index (signs which refer by inevitable association as smoke is an index of fire). Words would not develop out of what they feel like to say and to hear, and the relation of that feeling to what is meant.

>I’m inclined to regard his analysis of language in the same light as I regard Hume’s analysis of the philosophical notion of ‘substance’ (and you will be aware that I side with process over substance) – i.e. there is no essential essence to a word. Any particular word plays a role in a variety of different language games, and those various roles are not related by some kind of underlying essence but by what Wittgenstein referred to as a family resemblance. The only pertinent question becomes that of what role a word can be seen to play in a particular language game (i.e. what behavioural influences it has), and this is an empirical question – i.e. it does not necessarily have any metaphysical connotations.

While Wittgenstein’s view is justifiably influential, I think that it belongs to the perspective of modernism’s transition to postmodernity. As such, it is bound by the tenets of existentialism, in which isolation, rather than totality is assumed. I question the validity of isolation when it comes to subjectivity (what I call private physics) since I think that subjectivity makes more sense as a temporary partition, or diffraction within the totality of experience rather than a product of isolated mechanisms. Just as a prism does not produce the visible spectrum by reinventing it mechanically – colors are instead revealed through the diffraction of white light. Much of what goes on in communication is indeed language games, and I agree that words do not have an isolated essence, but that does not mean that the meaning of words is not rooted in a multiplicity of sensible contexts. The pieces that are used to play the language game are not tokens, they are more like colored lights that change colors when they are put together next to each other. Lights which can be used to infer meaning on many levels simultaneously, because all meaning is multivalent/holographic.

> So if I wish to know the meaning of a word, e.g. ‘choice’, I have to LOOK at how the word is USED rather than THINK about what kind of metaphysical scheme might lie behind the word (Philosophical Investigations section 66 and again in section 340).

That’s a good method for learning about some aspects of words, but not others. In some case, as in onomatopoeia, that is the worst way of learning anything about it and you will wind up thinking that Pow! is some kind of commentary about humorous violence and has nothing to do with the *sound* of bodies colliding and it’s emotional impact. It’s like the anthropologist who gets the completely wrong idea about what people are doing because they are reverse engineering what they observe back to other ethnographers interpretations rather than to the people’s experienced history together.

> So, for instance, when Jane asks me “How should I choose my next car?” I understand her perfectly well to be asking about the criteria she should be employing in making her decision. Similarly with the word ‘free’ – I understand perfectly well what it means for a convict to be set free. And so to the term ‘free will’; As Hume pointed out, there is a perfectly sensible way to use the term – i.e. when I say “I did it of my own free will”, all I mean is that I was not coerced into doing it, and I’m conferring no metaphysical significance upon my actions (the compatibilist notion of free will in contrast to the metaphysical notion of free will).

Why would that phrase ‘free will’ be used at all though? Why not just say “I was not coerced” or nothing at all, since without metaphysical (or private physical) free will, there would be no important difference between being coerced by causes within your body or beyond your body. Under determinism, there is no such thing as not being coerced.

> The word ‘will’ is again used in a variety of language games, and the family resemblance would appear to imply something about the future (e.g. “I will get that paper finished today”). When used in the free will language game, it shares a significant overlap with the choice language game. But when we lift a word out of its common speech uses and confer metaphysical connotations upon it, Wittgenstein tells us that language has ceased doing useful work (as he puts it in the PI section 38, “philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday”).

We should not presume that work is useful without first assuming free will. Useful, like will, is a quality of attention, an aesthetic experience of participation which may be far more important than all of the work in the universe put together. It is not will that must find a useful function, it is function that acquires use only through the feeling of will.

> And, of course, the word ‘meaning’ is itself employed in a variety of different language games – I can say that I had a “meaningful experience” without coming into conflict with Wittgenstein’s claim that the meaning of a word lies in its use.

Use is only one part of meaning. Wittgenstein was looking at a toy model of language that ties only to verbal intellect itself, not to the sensory-motor foundations of pre-communicated experience. It was a brilliant abstraction, important for understanding a lot about language, but ultimately I think that it takes the wrong things too seriously. All that is important about awareness and language would, under the Private Language argument, be passed over in silence.

> Regarding Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment, the experimenter clearly has a choice as to whether she will deploy a detector that ignores the paths by which the light reaches it, or a detector that takes the paths into account. In Wheeler’s scenario that choice is delayed until the light has already passed through (one or both of) the slits. I really can’t take issue with the word ‘choice’ as it is being used here.

I think that QM also will eventually be explained by dropping the assumption of isolation. Light is visual sense. It is how matter sees and looks. Different levels of description present themselves differently from different perspectives, so that if you put matter in the tiniest box you can get, you give it no choice but to reflect back the nature of the limitation of that specific measurement, and measurement in general.

Wittgenstein in Wonderland, Einstein under Glass

October 3, 2013 3 comments

If I understand the idea correctly – that is, if there is enough of the idea which is not private to Ludwig Wittgenstein that it can be understood by anyone in general or myself in particular, then I think that he may have mistaken the concrete nature of experienced privacy for an abstract concept of isolation. From Philosophical Investigations:

The words of this language are to refer to what can be known only to the speaker; to his immediate, private, sensations. So another cannot understand the language. – http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/private-language/

To begin with, craniopagus (brain conjoined) twins, do actually share sensations that we would consider private.

The results of the test did not surprise the family, who had long suspected that even when one girl’s vision was angled away from the television, she was laughing at the images flashing in front of her sister’s eyes. The sensory exchange, they believe, extends to the girls’ taste buds: Krista likes ketchup, and Tatiana does not, something the family discovered when Tatiana tried to scrape the condiment off her own tongue, even when she was not eating it.

There should be no reason that it would not be technologically feasible to eventually export the connectivity which craniopagus twins experience through some kind of neural implant or neuroelectric multiplier. There are already computers that can be controlled directly through the brain.

Brain-computer interfaces that monitor brainwaves through EEG have already made their way to the market. NeuroSky’s headset uses EEG readings as well as electromyography to pick up signals about a person’s level of concentration to control toys and games (see “Next-Generation Toys Read Brain Waves, May Help Kids Focus”). Emotiv Systems sells a headset that reads EEG and facial expression to enhance the experience of gaming (see “Mind-Reading Game Controller”).

All that would be required in principle would be to reverse the technology to make them run in the receiving direction (computer>brain) and then imitate the kinds of neural connections which brain conjoined twins have that allow them to share sensations. The neural connections themselves would not be aware of anything on a human level, so it would not need to be public in the sense that sensations would be available without the benefit of a living human brain, only that the awareness could, to some extent, incite a version of itself in an experientially merged environment.

Because of the success and precision of science has extended our knowledge so far beyond our native instruments, sometimes contradicting them successfully, we tend to believe that the view that diagnostic technology provides is superior to, or serves as a replacement for our own awareness. While it is true that our own experience cannot reveal the same kinds of things that an fMRI or EEG can, I see that as a small detail compared to the wealth of value that our own awareness provides about the brain, the body, and the worlds we live in. Natural awareness is the ultimate diagnostic technology. Even though we can certainly benefit from a view outside of our own, there’s really no good reason to assume that what we feel, think, and experience isn’t a deeper level of insight into the nature of biochemical physics than we could possibly gain otherwise. We are evidence that physics does something besides collide particles in a void. Our experience is richer, smarter, and more empirically factual than what an instrument outside of our body can generate on its own. The problem is that our experience is so rich and so convoluted with private, proprietary knots, that we can’t share very much of it. We, and the universe, are made of private language. It is the public reduction of privacy which is temporary and localized…it’s just localized as a lowest common denominator.

While It is true that at this stage in our technical development, subjective experience can only be reported in a way which is limited by local social skills, there is no need to invoke a permanent ban on the future of communication and trans-private experience. Instead of trying to report on a subjective experience, it could be possible to share that experience through a neurological interface – or at least to exchange some empathic connection that would go farther than public communication.

If I had some psychedelic experience which allowed me to see a new primary color, I can’t communicate that publicly. If I can just put on a device that allows our brains to connect, then someone else might be able to share the memory of what that looked like.

It seems to me that Wittgenstein’s private language argument (sacrosanct as it seems to be among the philosophically inclined) assumes privacy as identical to isolation, rather than the primordial identity pansensitivty which I think it could be. If privacy is accomplished as I suggest, by the spatiotemporal ‘masking’ of eternity, than any experience that can be had is not a nonsense language to be ‘passed over in silence’, but rather a personally articulated fragment of the Totality. Language is only communication – intellectual measurement for sharing public-facing expressions. What we share privately is transmeasurable and inherently permeable to the Totality beneath the threshold of intellect.

Said another way, everything that we can experience is already shared by billions of neurons. Adding someone else’s neurons to that group should indeed be only a matter of building a synchronization technology. If, for instance, brain conjoined twins have some experience that nobody else has (like being the first brain conjoined twins to survive to age 40 or something), then they already share that experience, so it would no longer be a ‘private language’. The true future of AI may not be in simulating awareness as information, but in using information to share awareness. Certainly the success of social networking and MMPGs has shown us that what we really want out of computers is not for them to be us, but for us to be with each other in worlds we create.

I propose that rather than beginning from the position of awareness being a simulation to represent a reality that is senseless and unconscious, we should try assuming that awareness itself is the undoubtable absolute. I would guess that each kind of awareness already understands itself far better than we understand math or physics, it is only the vastness of human experience which prevents that understanding to be shared on all levels of itself, all of the time.

The way to understand consciousness would not be to reduce it to a public language of physics and math, since our understanding of our public experience is itself robotic and approximated by multiple filters of measurement. To get at the nature of qualia and quanta requires stripping down the whole of nature to Absolute fundamentals – beyond language and beyond measurement. We must question sense itself, and we must rehabilitate our worldview so that we ourselves can live inside of it. We should seek the transmeasurable nature of ourselves, not just the cells of our brain or the behavioral games that we have evolved as one particular species in the world. The toy model of consciousness provided by logical positivism and structural realism is, in my opinion, a good start, but in the wrong direction – a necessary detour which is uniquely (privately?) appropriate to a particular phase of modernism. To progress beyond that I think requires making the greatest cosmological 180 since Galileo. Einstein had it right, but he did not generalize relativity far enough. His view was so advanced in the spatialization of time and light that he reduced awareness to a one dimensional vector. What I think he missed, is that if we begin with sensitivity, then light becomes a capacity with which to modulate insensitivity – which is exactly what we see when we share light across more than one slit – a modulation of masked sensitivity shared by matter independently of spacetime.

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.

Why Computers Can’t Lie and Don’t Know Your Name

September 12, 2013 12 comments

What do the Hangman Paradox, Epimenides Paradox, and the Chinese Room Argument have in common?

The underlying Symbol Grounding Problem common to all three is that from a purely quantitative perspective, a logical truth can only satisfy some explicitly defined condition. The expectation of truth itself being implicitly true, (i.e. that it is possible to doubt what is given) is not a condition of truth, it is a boundary condition beyond truth*. All computer malfunctions, we presume, are due to problems with the physical substrate, or the programmer’s code, and not incompetence or malice.  The computer, its program, or binary logic in general cannot be blamed for trying to mislead anyone. Computation, therefore, has no truth quality, no expectation of validity or discernment between technical accuracy and the accuracy of its technique. The whole of logic is contained within the assumption that logic is valid automatically. It is an inverted mirror image of naive realism. Where a person can be childish in their truth evaluation, overextending their private world into the public domain, a computer is robotic in its truth evaluation, undersignifying privacy until it is altogether absent.

Because computers can only report a local fact (the position of a switch or token), they cannot lie intentionally. Lying involves extending a local fiction to be taken as a remote fact. When we lie, we know what a computer cannot guess – that information may not be ‘real’.

When we say that a computer makes an error, it is only because of a malfunction on the physical or programmatic level, therefore it is not false, but a true representation of the problem in the system which we receive as an error. It is only incorrect in some sense that is not local to the machine, but rather local to the user, who makes the mistake of believing that the output of the program is supposed to be grounded in their expectations for its function. It is the user who is mistaken.

It is for this same reason that computers cannot intend to tell the truth either. Telling the truth depends on an understanding of the possibility of fiction and the power to intentionally choose the extent to which the truth is revealed. The symbolic communication expressed is grounded strongly in the privacy of the subject as well as the public context, and only weakly grounded in the logic represented by the symbolic abstraction. With a computer, the hierarchy is inverted. A Turing Machine is independent of private intention and public physics, so it is grounded absolutely in its own simulacra. In Searle’s (much despised) Chinese Room Argument – the conceit of the decomposed translator exposes how the output of a program is only known to the program in its own narrow sensibility. The result of the mechanism is simply a true report of a local process of the machine which has no implicit connection to any presented truths beyond the machine…except for one: Arithmetic truth.

Arithmetic truth is not local to the machine, but it is local to all machines and all experiences of correct logical thought. This is an interesting symmetry, as the logic of mechanism is both absolutely local and instantaneous and absolutely universal and eternal, but nothing in between. Every computed result is unique to the particular instantiation of the machine or program, and universal as a Turing emulable template. What digital analogs are not is true or real any sense which relates expressly to real, experienced events in space time. This is the insight expressed in Korzybski’s famous maxim ‘The map is not the territory.’ and in the Use-Mention distinction, where using a word intentionally is understood to be distinct from merely mentioning the word as an object to be discussed. For a computer, there is no map-territory distinction. It’s all one invisible, intangible mapitory of disconnected digital events.

By contrast, a person has many ways to voluntarily discern territories and maps. They can be grouped together, such as when the acoustic territory of sound is mapped to the emotional-lyric territory of music, or the optical territory of light is mapped as the visual territory of color and image. They can be flipped so that the physics is mapped to the phenomenal as well, which is how we control the voluntary muscles of our body. For us, authenticity is important. We would rather win the lottery than just have a dream that we won the lottery. A computer does not know the difference. The dream and the reality are identical information.

Realism, then, is characterized by its opposition to the quantitative. Instead of being pegged to the polar austerity which is autonomous local + explicitly universal, consciousness ripens into the tropical fecundity of middle range. Physically real experience is in direct contrast to digital abstraction. It is semi-unique, semi-private, semi-spatiotemporal, semi-local, semi-specific, semi-universal. Arithmetic truth lacks any non-functional qualities, so that using arithmetic to falsify functionalism is inherently tautological. It is like asking an armless man to raise his hand if he thinks he has no arms.

Here’s some background stuff that relates:

The Hangman Paradox has been described as follows:

A judge tells a condemned prisoner that he will be hanged at noon on one weekday in the following week but that the execution will be a surprise to the prisoner. He will not know the day of the hanging until the executioner knocks on his cell door at noon that day.Having reflected on his sentence, the prisoner draws the conclusion that he will escape from the hanging. His reasoning is in several parts. He begins by concluding that the “surprise hanging” can’t be on Friday, as if he hasn’t been hanged by Thursday, there is only one day left – and so it won’t be a surprise if he’s hanged on Friday. Since the judge’s sentence stipulated that the hanging would be a surprise to him, he concludes it cannot occur on Friday.He then reasons that the surprise hanging cannot be on Thursday either, because Friday has already been eliminated and if he hasn’t been hanged by Wednesday night, the hanging must occur on Thursday, making a Thursday hanging not a surprise either. By similar reasoning he concludes that the hanging can also not occur on Wednesday, Tuesday or Monday. Joyfully he retires to his cell confident that the hanging will not occur at all.The next week, the executioner knocks on the prisoner’s door at noon on Wednesday — which, despite all the above, was an utter surprise to him. Everything the judge said came true.

Some thoughts on this:

1) The conclusion “I won’t be surprised to be hanged Friday if I am not hanged by Thursday” creates another proposition to be surprised about. By leaving the condition of ‘surprise’ open ended, it could include being surprised that the judge lied, or any number of other soft contingencies that could render an ‘unexpected’ outcome. The condition of expectation isn’t an objective phenomenon, it is a subjective inference. Objectively, there is no surprise since objects don’t anticipate anything.

2) If we want to close in tightly on the quantitative logic of whether deducibility can be deduced – given five coin flips and a certainty that one will be heads, each successive tails coin flip increases the odds that one the remaining flips will be heads. The fifth coin will either be 100% likely to be heads, or will prove that the certainty assumed was 100% wrong.

I think the paradox hinges on 1) the false inference of objectivity in the use of the word surprise and 2) the false assertion of omniscience by the judge. It’s like an Escher drawing. In real life, surprise cannot be predicted with certainty and the quality of unexpectedness it is not an objective thing, just as expectation is not an objective thing.

Connecting the dots, expectation, intention, realism, and truth are all rooted in the firmament of sensory-motive participation. To care about what happens cannot be divorced from our causally efficacious role in changing it. It’s not just a matter of being petulant or selfish. The ontological possibility of ‘caring’ requires letters that are not in the alphabet of determinism and computation. It is computation which acts as punctuation, spelling, and grammar, but not language itself. To a computer, every word or name is as generic as a number. They can store the string of characters that belong to what we call a name, but they have no way to really recognize who that name belongs to.

*I maintain that what is beyond truth is sense: direct phenomenological participation

Eigenmorphism: The Politics of Pansensitive Entanglement

September 7, 2013 6 comments

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Eigenmorphism is a neologism which refers to a hypothesis about fundamental laws of how natural phenomena persist in relation to each other. The thesis draws on some principles of General and Special Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and semiotics, to integrate phenomenal awareness and physics at a fundamental and ontological level. In philosophy of mind, the idea that awareness is something like a fundamental force coexisting with other forces of physics in some way is known as panpsychism, however, within Multisense Realism, the conjecture that is used is an even more radical one. For reasons explained later, MSR uses the term pansensitivity rather than panpsychism, and it conceives of forces of physics to be second order divergences from the fundamental and irreducible capacity which is assumed to act as the common parent of all action and all being, all feeling and all knowing. This is not to be confused with a creationist account or theism, as it does not assume a single being who is human like and feels all and does all, rather primordial identity pansensitivity (PIP) is a weaker assertion that claims only that it makes more sense to view the cosmos, or at least the sense that the cosmos makes to itself, as originating from an agenda which is aesthetic and participatory rather than one which is automatic and functionalist.

Eigenmorphism is used here to explain how phenomena in general are presented and translated and to each other at an ontological level, thus the “identity” of primordial identity pansensitivity is that the realism of nested sensory presentation is identical to existence. Eigenmorphism attempts to point out a single pattern of diffraction and calibration through which presentations and representations are privatized and generalized, both locally and universally. I have used David Chalmers paper, The Combination Problem of Panpsychism as a jumping off point for applying PIP to the problems of binding and combining of subjective experience. The linked article provides an excellent discussion of the issues surrounding panpsychism, and how it is that physical and phenomenal states might coexist at a fundamental level. The central focus of his paper is to clarify the various schools of thought on how microphysical and or microphenomenal states might combine and relate to so called macrophysical and macrophenomenal states. He writes:

“The combination problem for panpsychism is: how can microphenomenal properties combine to yield macrophenomenal properties? […] The combination problem can be broken down into at least three subproblems, […] These three aspects yield what we might call the subject combination problem , the quality combination problem, and the structure combination problem.

[…]The subject combination problem is roughly: how do microsubjects combine to yield macro-subjects? Here microsubjects are microphysical subjects of experience, and macrosubjects are macroscopic subjects of experience such as ourselves.  […] An especially pressing aspect of the subject combination problem is the subject-summing problem [in principle it seems that a macrosubject would not necessarily emerge from microsubjects].

[…]The quality combination problem is roughly: how do microqualities combine to yield macroqualities? Here macroqualities are specific phenomenal qualities such as phenomenal redness (what it is like to see red), phenomenal greenness, and so on. It is natural to suppose that microexperience involves microqualities, which might be primitive analogs of macroqualities. How do these combine? An especially pressing aspect of the quality combination problem is what we might call the palette problem [..] How can this limited palette of microqualities combine to yield the vast array of macroqualities?

[…]The structure combination problem is roughly: how does microexperiential structure (and microphysical structure) combine to yield macroexperiential structure? Our macroexperience has a rich structure, involving the complex spatial structure of visual and auditory fields, a division into many different modalities, and so on. How can the structure in microexperience and microstructure yield this rich structure? An especially pressing aspect of the structure combination problem is the structural mismatch problem. Microphysical structure (in the brain, say) seems entirely different from the macrophenomenal structure we experience. “

Panpsychism has already suffered from a somewhat dubious reputation in the past, perhaps because it is often conceived of in simplistic terms by those unfamiliar with it. In many minds, panpsychism is presumed to imply a cartoonish idea of nature which imbues every speck of dust or atom with a human-like mind. While there may be no philosophical justification to rule out such a view, I think that all of the common forms of panpsychism offer far more sophisticated ideas. I would consider any view which disregards the primitive nature of microphysical systems relative to macrophenomenal states to be more of an anthropomorphic panpsychism; what I call pananthropism,  There are weaker forms of panpsychism, such as panexperientialism or panprotoexperientialism which do honor the difference in complexity between micro and macro scale phenomena, but these forms also dilute the effectiveness in resolving the Hard Problem of Consciousness. If we say that microphenomenal states aren’t really phenomenal or subjective, then we still are faced with having to explain why and how they become that way on the macro, human scale.

In between the two extremes, I introduce the word ‘pansensitivity‘, which posits a universal minimal capacity for sense in naturally presented phenomena (not phenomenal representations). This sensitivity operates within its own scale and inertial frame of reference, and need not be very similar to human consciousness. Inertial frame is intended literally as well, as part of the hypothesis includes the idea that experiences themselves accumulate and take on a kind of gravitation-like tropism, similar to Rupert Sheldrake’s Morphic Resonance and David Bohm’s Implicate Order, which I refer to within MSR as Solitrophy, If solitrophy is the world builder, then significance (the nesting of representation within sensed presence) is its bricks and mortar.

Pansensitivity need not have a subjective or self-like quality, only a univeral commonality of being and doing which is rooted in sensory-motor participation.  By emphasizing the primacy of perception and participation as the heart of all possible experience, pansensitivity lays the foundation for a full scale integration with physical conjugates such as mass-energy, space-time, electro-magnetism. Additional conjugates from information science and mathematics integrate smoothly as well, such as form-function, signal-noise, geometry-algebra, and ordinality-cardinality. The consequence of moving ‘down’ from panpsychism to pansensitivity would be the loss of the anthropomorphic baggage imposed on primitive phenomena, and the consequence of moving ‘up’ from panprotoexperientialism would be to un-ask the Hard Problem on the micro-level.

Primordial Pansensitivity

Starting from the hypothesis that all phenomena are sensed or sensing phenomena*, and that nothing can said to be exist beyond the scope of sense, the entire Combination Problem is turned on its head to become one of breaking apart rather than merging together. Because all distinctions of micro and macro, phenomenal and physical are subsumed within the absolute primordialism of pansensitivity, we must employ a different way of thinking about the Combination Problem entirely. This revision of thought extends to a re-imagining of some of the underpinnings of mathematics and cosmology. In all respects, where recent Western views assumes a universe from nothing, or an arithmetic beginning with zero, primordial pansensitivity supposes the opposite perspective; a multiplicity carved out of unity, a near infinity of quantities diffracted as ratios within the number one. Separation becomes the derived local condition, while singularity is the absolute fundamental condition. It is not ‘a singularity’, or ‘a universe’, it is The singularity, and The universe.

Because the orientation of this model flips the traditional ranking of physics and phenomenology, and awareness is the sole defining principle, Professor Chalmers three subproblems would have to be restated to assume divergence rather than emergence. Emergence would be the local appearance of diffraction of the single whole rather than combination of isolated parts. At this level, PIP can be considered a form of idealism, in that the head end of the Ouroboros is phenomenal presence and the tail end is diffracted by time (subjective self), space (objective matter), and sense itself (represented information), however the very categorization of sense as ‘ideal’ is a materialistic bias which draws on Platonic notions of information supremacy rather than the sensory supremacy envisioned by PIP/MSR. Sense is not an ideal, it is concrete. It moves bodies and births galaxies. The sense of the human intellect is idealizing. Our mental life is a special case as far as we know. The rest of the universe does not seem to strive for perfection, it simply presents itself as perfect or imperfect by default. The human mindscape, by contrast, is often fixated on perfecting forms and functions, removing entropy from signal.

The Genius of Palette

When we consider the relation of the colors of the visible spectrum to white light, we can get a sense of how singularity and multiplicity coexist qualitatively, and how that coexistence differs from quantitative-logical structures. The difference between projected light and reflected color is instructive. As we know, converging three spotlights of competing colors gets us closer to white in the overlap, while mixing three paints of different colors gets us closer to grey or black. Similar displays of order can be found in the other senses as well, with harmonic progressions and white noise within sound, and other symmetric patterns which circumscribe the palette of olfactory sense. The palette of the color wheel, however, is uniquely suited to modeling aspects of sense combination. We might as why that is. What makes vision seem more fully exposed to us than something like smell? How does the neurological emphasis on visual sensitivity translate into this ‘seeing is believing’ sense of trust?

In particular, the color wheel or visible spectrum presents two themes within palette formulation. The first I will call the prospectively sensible theme. If we had never seen color before, and were presented for the first time with green and blue paint, it seems plausible that we could imagine a color in between green and blue as being turquoise or cyan. If we were presented with red and green paint instead, it seems completely implausible that anyone could imagine the existence of the color yellow. Yellow is not ‘prospectively’ sensible. Once we see yellow however, and see the flow of the visible spectrum as it progresses smoothly from red to orange to yellow to green, the quality of yellow seems to fit in perfectly, so it is retrospectively sensible,  In this example, cyan has both prospective and retrospective sensibility, but yellow only has retrospective sensibility. This gives the origin of yellow an unprecedented quality. I call this idiopathic property, which is common to all sense palettes, the ‘genius’ of the palette. The genius provides tentpoles, primary differences in kind from which secondary and tertiary differences of kind blend seamlessly into a multiplicity of differences in degree. There is a view of the territory of the pansensitivity’s version of the Combination Problem (or primary Divergence Problem).

The problem of the origin of palette genius is still an issue, but it is an issue which is diffused somewhat by the totality and unity of primordial sense, and the inversion of our expectation of nothingness rather than primordial everythingness. These genius qualia are manifestations of sense which may be more primitive than spacetime itself, so that the ingression of spacetime leaves certain critical pieces to the puzzle missing. Simply stated, the whole idea of causality and origin depends on time and sequence, so that these primary colors and sensations are as fundamental as sequence itself, and as any question that we can ask about it. Questions themselves are presumably no more fundamental than these elemental experiences.

Combinatory Eigenmorphism

Once a palette of sense has diverged and multiplied into spacetime availibility, it is proposed that the role of subjective participants is to recover unity and simultaneity, completing a kind of sensory-semantic conservation cycle (which is also a palette of sense).  The hypothesis of combinatory eigenmorphism is that the relation between any and all phenomenal experiences, whether they are cognitive, perceptual, or physical, can be characterized by specific categorical differences which are themselves ordered in a sensible schema.

Borrowing the eigen- prefix, used in terms such as eigenstate and eigenvector, and the root ‘morph’ as it is used in isomorphism and homomorphism, eigenmorphism is intended to describe an ordered set of elementary mappings within a closed continuum of possible mappings. Comparing two compasses, for example, the closed continuum of possible mappings would be the 360 x 360 degree matrix of possible needle direction combinations. Only one type of combination (a group of 360 out of the total 129,600 combinations) would be isomorphic, with both needles facing the same direction. Another group of 360 would be anti-isomorphic (one compass needle points North and the other points South). In between these two poles would be various shades and angles of disagreement. The right angles would be in perpendicular disagreement to both the isomorphic and anti-isomorphic combinations.

eigenchart

The use of eigenmorphism here is not intended as a mathematical abstraction, however. There may be more precise terms within algebra or geometry to describe such a rotating cycle of polarization stages, but the point of using morphism here is not to limit the combinations to one dimensional differences. Unlike a geometric degree or radian, this usage of morphism must apply to every kind of difference between any phenomena, not just to differences in shapes or orientation.  This is potentially possible because of the holism of primordial pansensitivity. The divergence of every singularity into multiplicity can be described as tectonic – every diffracted palette and diffraction within a palette is like Pangea, breaking into continents which fit each other like puzzle pieces. Adages like ‘as above, so below’, and ‘opposites attract’ can be grounded in this foundational continuity.

Eigenmorphism must, therefore, apply not just to mathematical transformations, but to fully realized sense experiences, complete with personal participation and felt content. If we extend the compass metaphor and imagine that on the top of each compass is a tiny video screen which shows the other, and that the position of the needle determines the composition of that video image (not just brightness and contrast, but focus, size, realism, etc), we can begin to get a sense of what is meant by eigenmorphism. It is intended as a common schema to unite quality and quantity, or in Deleuzian-Bergsonian terms, differences in kind and differences in degree.

The full conjecture of eigenmorphism is that differences in kind are orthogonal to differences in degree, but that they are both part of the same cycle of sense which discerns all difference and through that experienced discernment, effects a reproduction of order which is expressed through all phenomena. To be clear, the scope of the juxtaposition of this schema is absolute. We are comparing poetry to baseballs, and deja vu to carbide steel. The goal is to recognize a subtle framework which weaves together all phenomena, whether physical, phenomenal, or semiotic, and on the scale of the microcosmic, macrocosmic, or cosmic. Eigenmorphism can help organize, in one conceptual framework, the relation between micro and macro scales or across physical and phenomenal lines, where similarities may be found only in the extremity of their incommensurable difference. Eigenmorphism is a response to Einstein’s famous quote “God does not play dice with the universe” in disbelief of Quantum Mechanical probability,  God plays dice, dice plays God but only sense can make a difference.

Eigenlinguistics

Language provides a good example of how physical objects and experience can coexist seamlessly within a single schema. Onomatopoetic words like bang! or pow! rely on high degree of isomorphism between 1) sounds that we hear, 2) sensible generalizations of those sounds, and 3) sounds that can be spoken. Such sound-alike words are more universal than other kinds of words, as they require no translation from language to language. People of all ages and backgrounds intuitively understand that these words refer directly to events associated with those sounds. It seems likely that language itself must have originated with this kind of imitative behavior – the recording and replaying of sounds and gestures. The combination of literal imitation (bottom-up) and figurative association (top-down) yielded more abstract metaphors with more eigenmorphic combinations. Complex communications extended the step of sensible generalization (2) and, perhaps surprisingly, made communication and representation more difficult to separate from that which is represented.

With each extension from the literal to the figurative, the poetic and the abstract, we effect certain translations, each of which stand on their own as sensible connections, and which take their own most sensible places in the universal context. Again, going back to the color wheel. Each hue and shade makes sense as its own unique individual experience, and as a mathematical vector within any number of sensible topologies (wheels, cylinders, cubes, parabolas, triangles, etc). It makes sense in many different ways, including the intuitively idiopathic sense of its palette genius.

Within language we find a vast context of meanings which have developed accidentally and intentionally, intuitively and counter-intuitively. Conventions of grammar and spelling reflect similar mixtures of logic, intuition, spontaneity, and inherited formalism. Beneath all of these is a semiotic foundation. To communicate is to represent, and to represent is to infer comparisons among subjects, objects, other subjects, and other comparisons. To discern differences between ‘things’ implies first a capacity to sense ‘things’, and to experience sensibility itself – an expectation of presence and participation.

Semiosis is a particular cognitive version of what I suggest is this fundamental sensibility; the capacity to mentally record and generalize or iconicize perceptions, and to record those essentialized perceptions to be abstracted further. If information is a perceived difference that makes a difference, then information itself depends on a more primitive capacity to discern difference from indifference, to care about that discernment, and the power to do something about it. The polarization of afferent sensory receptivity is the power of efferent motive projection; to participate intentionally in some way which promises to have an effect on what has been sensed. This, to me, is the ultimate firmament of all metaphysics. The universe is an eigenmorphic-relativistic singularity of all experience, and experience is a nested multiplicity of sensory-motives.

Eigenmorphism assumes this universal continuum of sense in which the degrees and kinds of nestings deform the context of perception itself. As mass deforms spacetime in General Relativity, experiential qualities warp experiential perspectives under Multisense Realism. Rather than assuming a one-to-one, isomorphic relation, in which, for instance, a particular neurotransmitter’s binding in the brain equals a particular particle of a subjective experience, there is a lattice of translation which shifts in direct proportion to the scale and nature of the pairing (micro to macro, private to public, familiar to foreign, etc). As macro scale entities, our human scope is dictated not only by size and frequency of our conscious frame-rate relative to other experiential entities, but by the character and history of our intentional participation. If we want to put a Buddhist twist on it, it could be said that karma is the gravity of consciousness, and eigenmorphism is the warping of consciousness that mirrors back its own warped condition as well as the phenomenal translation of all external conditions through that lensing.

From Relativity to Improbability

As Relativity uses the concept of inertial frames, eigenmorphism describes the holistic constitution of experience. As a prism can be seen to split a beam of white light or combine beams of colored light into one, our human experience unites the spectrum of zoological, biological, chemical, and physical experience. We can choose to see ourselves as animals, or meta-animals, or temporarily embarrassed deities.  Our personal experience is proprietary and unique not just to the fingerprint or genome, but to the irreducibly absolute. The primordial pansensitivity hypothesis predicts that every experience, while seemingly composed of reducible, recombinant elements, is actually its own solitary universe – a vector of sense which cannot be reproduced completely. It is proposed that appearances of generality and duplication are a local effect, an artifact of eigenmorphic translation from plurality to singlularity in which the discernment of differences is necessarily truncated at an appropriate level. We can see this, for example, in how we look at sand on the beach, and generalize the grains of sand in our mind. Under a microscope, we can see more of the unique character of each grain. Because we assume that sense is primordial, we can predict that the microscope too has its limit, beyond which discernment falls to zero and that which we are measuring becomes indiscernible from the instrument being used to measure.

The pansensitive conjecture equalizes unlikelihood and inevitability in the totality, since it is not within the entropic displacement of spacetime. Within spacetime, probability is a mechanistic absolute, but that conditionality is, under eigenmorphism, a local inversion of the larger conditions of non-probability. Like the yellow and the cyan, the expectation of predictable order is itself emergent from utter unpredictability. Probability is a palette genius. Because the assumption of the improbable is taken as an anthropic necessity of all possible universes, the unlikelihood of life in the universe is nullified. It is not certain physical conditions which give rise to life, it is life experience which is expressed through certain physical conditions. By analogy, Shakespeare did not arise from the combination of certain words, vast groups of words were employed by Shakespeare to express human stories.

Bodies and Experience, Scale and Frequencies

As a rule of thumb, the closer the scale of forms, the greater the range of possible eigenmorphic relations. Bodies which are of similar size and private experiences which share similar histories and qualities have more potential kinds of relations and more degrees of relation than phenomena of disparate scale or history.  From our perspective, it appears that entities which are on the extreme range of scale in the universe like subatomic particles and galactic superclusters seem equally unlikely to host any kind of awareness. It could be that this is objectively** true, even beyond the prejudiced relativity of our human scale eigenmorphism, but it is not clear that there can ever be a difference between human truth and objective truth as long as we are human. For us, even if stars are bits of the Gods as ancient astronomers imagined, their experience is on such a remote scale to ours that our phenomenal states are inaccessible to each other.

More likely it seems that the great and infinitesimal entities do have objectively limited palettes compared with our own, but that those limitations are exaggerated because the eigenmorphic range of our own extended human sensitivity projects its own envelope of significance. Try as we might, the significance of an ant’s life is not on par with a human life, and even if ants looked like human beings, their tiny size relative to our body would make it hard for us to take them seriously. This is all part of the natural intuitive ordering by scale in the universe. Eigenmorphism describes the character of that ordering.

There are many fanciful ways to imagine microphenomenal or astrophenomenal states. Maybe all such entities are one collective experience just as ours is a collective experience of neurons, maybe there is only one proton-star experience and only appears to replay within the stories of younger, more mid-sized entities. It’s just as likely that microphenomenal states are unknowable, alien, and not worth thinking about.

The Pathetic Constant and Pathetic Fallacy

The degree to which we feel that another entity is capable of feeling could be called its pathetic constant, as it remains constant according to form/scale.  The more familiar something is to us, the more we ‘like it’ and it is ‘like’ us, the higher the level of empathy we can sustain for it.  The pathetic constant which we have to ourselves, ironically may not be as high as that which we reserve for those we admire. That kind of super-significance is a whole other story, but for the purposes of this consideration, it can be said that the pathetic constant toward the idealized self would be the maximum. While bigotry may allow some humans to feel that other humans are less worthy than other members of human society, this prejudice manifests as hatred and fear rather than a low pathetic constant. A true low pathetic constant would be associated with impersonal insignificance rather than personal malice.

Human history points to instances in which certain animals or objects or bodies of dead nobility were revered with high pathetic values, but human societies in general tend to support a general pecking order of pathetic values which place humans before most animals, most animals before most insects, most insects before mold, and mold before minerals. We seem to have an idea about what is ‘like us’ which is relatively free of cultural variation, even if we choose to intentionally prefer one entity into a higher caste.

This may seem a trivial observation, or that this folk hierarchy is derived from mechanical measures of complexity and familiarity, and on one level that might be true, however it becomes necessary, when considering the sentience of technologies like artificial intelligence, to have a place to start. The pathetic fallacy is one where human experiential qualities are attributed to an inanimate object or machine, i.e. ‘the camera loves you’. Even the most ardent supporter of Strong AI must admit that at some level, say, the level of a trash can lid which flaps down to “say THANK YOU” every time a tray is removed, there is a gap between the appearance of the behavior to a human audience and the subjective intent behind that behavior. We can understand that the trash can lid is in fact motivated by tension of physical materials, not politeness. Since we assign to the trash can a pathetic constant which is absolutely minimal, we do not read into its behavior personally, and the eigenmorphic relation between any proposed internal state of the trash can and the polite behavior we might interpret is null; any attribution of meaning between what we experience and what the trash can experiences is purely one-sided and non-coincidental, or else super-signified as part of a manic or psychotic episode.

Should the polite words ‘Thank you!’ come from a human being instead, there is a much more rich field of eigenmorphic mappings to use for interpretation. The meaning of the exchange can range from the trivial and impersonal, as in the case of a consumer transaction with a public-facing employee of a corporation. or it could be heartfelt and genuine, even life changing under some circumstance. The aperture of possibilities is open where the pathetic constant is maximized, as it is those who you most resemble or would like to resemble can hurt you or heal you most.

Artificial Intelligence

In the case of the trash can lid, the intent is for the exchange not to be examined very deeply. For the operators of such restaurants,  superficial gestures of politeness support an impression of ‘good service’, particularly in a mechanized and personally impoverished environment of a fast food outlet which some might find unpleasant if the impersonality of the operation were fully disclosed. This ‘polite face’ is functionally similar to the GUI which modern computer systems employ, which dresses up a command line interface which the general public may find difficult. Of course, even the command lines are a polite face superimposed on the more mechanistic levels of hexadecimal or binary code, and finally microelectronic switch configurations. The phrase user-friendly refers to enhancements which are intended to increase the pathetic constant in public facing systems, promoting psychological ease, as well as more intuitive functionality. It’s interesting to note the role that scale and frequency plays in this.  A cell phone would not be very user-friendly if you could on use it the same distance away that your computer screen sits from your face.

The binary code is roughly isomorphic to microelectronic switch configurations, or any Turing machine’s configurations. So much so, that there is a branch of computing devoted to developing programs from languages based on bit geometry rather than conventional number representations. The future of nanocomputing or quantum computing may use code that looks very much like what it is and what it does. For now though, the relation between digital bits, and between binary 1’s and 0’s remains slightly more abstracted than the nearly absolute isomorphism of embodied computation. It is important to realize that on the microelectronic level, where the pathetic constant approaches zero for most of us, our commands and programs are not understood by the electronics (or gears or punch cards). Like vast collections of trash can lids, the physical components of any machine are involuntarily moved and changed intentionally, by us, from the outside. The hammer hits the bell, the bell jiggles the float, and so on in Rube Goldberg  fashions of mechanical interaction among objects in space.

What is the difference between outside-in  and inside-out interaction? Some have argued nothing. Philosophical arguments from Leibniz to Searle notwithstanding, the appearance of the brain as a physical machine is so persuasive and complete that for many, the prospect of empathy emerging from mechanical complexity alone seems to be the only possibility, and a possibility which, from their perspective, is undeniable. We see neurons firing, and it reminds us of a computer. We see software running and it reminds us of our mental experience. Case closed. The pathetic constant is pushed to the maximum, organic and inorganic process become identical, and all eigenmorphism is collapsed to isomorphism…the trash can lid becomes, at least to some small degree, polite. This is the kind of panpsychism that we should avoid. Not only for the sake of poor computer scientists who would automatically become guilty of  atrocities in developing experimental beings, and not for the sake of human supremacy, but for the sake of understanding the whole truth about presentation and representation.

Conclusion

Eigenmorphism is a difficult to conceive of properly without fully comprehending the implications of panpsychism, pansensitivity, primordial identity, and perceptual relativity. The idea that both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics both expose opposite poles of what is ultimately identical with ordinary perception can be used as a basis for modeling a translation lattice. This envelope or matrix of perception which unites the microcosmic and the astrophysical, acts as a lens through which all subjective and objective appearances are presented. Like the eigenstates of QM, the relation of experience to itself has selective positions, settled inertial frames which evolve and recapitulate their own evolution. Participatory sense provides a richer context than mathematical spaces, so that forms and functions are only the publicly measurable tip of an immeasurable iceberg of private appreciation and participation which is unbounded by spacetime.

*that there are no proto-phenomenal or non-experienced properties possible, since ontology itself is treated as supervening on sense.

**true objectivity would require that we discard eigenmorphism, as only the absolute frame of reference would be without relativistic distortion, but objectivity requires that some sensory translation is objectifying another sense experience. Having no other sense experience to translate, the absolute frame can only diagonalize its own diffraction within itself.

Determinism: Tricks of the Trade

August 16, 2013 2 comments

The objection that the terms ‘consciousness’ or ‘free will’ are used in too many different ways to be understandable is one of the most common arguments that I run into. I agree that it is a superficially valid objection, but on deeper consideration, it should be clear that it is a specious and ideologically driven detour.

The term free will is not as precise as a more scientific term might be (I tend to use motive, efferent participation, or private intention), but it isn’t nearly the problem that it is made to be in a debate. Any eight year old knows well enough what free will refers to. Nobody on Earth can fail to understand the difference between doing something by accident and intentionally, or between enslavement and freedom. The claim that these concepts are somehow esoteric doesn’t wash, unless you already have an expectation of a kind of verbal-logical supremacy in which nothing is allowed to exist until we can agree on a precise set of terms which give it existence. I think that this expectation is not a neutral or innocuous position, but actually contaminates the debate over free will, stacking the deck unintentionally in favor of the determinism.

It’s subtle, but ontologically, it is a bit like letting a burglar talk you into opening up the door to the house for them since breaking a window would only make a mess for you to clean up. Because the argument for hard determinism begins with an assumption that impartiality and objectivity are inherently desirable in all things, it asks that you put your king in check from the start. The argument doubles down on this leverage with the implication that subjective intuition is notoriously naive and flawed, so that not putting your king in check from the start is framed as a weak position. This is the James Randi kind of double-bind. If you don’t submit to his rules, then you are already guilty of fraud, and part of his rules is that you have no say in what his rules will be.

This is the sleight of hand which is also used by Daniel Dennett as well. What poses as a fair consideration of hard determinism is actually a stealth maneuver to create determinism – to demand that the subject submit to the forced disbelief system and become complicit in undermining their own authority. The irony is that it is only through a personal/social, political attack on subjectivity that the false perspective of objectivity can be introduced. It is accepted only by presentation pf an argument of personal insignificance so that the subject is shamed and bullied into imagining itself an object. Without knowing it, one person’s will has been voluntarily overpowered and confounded by another person’s free will into accepting that this state of affairs is not really happening. In presenting free will and consciousness as a kind of stage magic, the materialist magician performs a meta-magic trick on the audience.
Some questions for determinist thinkers:

  • Can we effectively doubt that we have free will?
    Or is the doubt a mental abstraction which denies the very capacity for intentional reasoning upon which the doubt itself is based?
  • How would an illusion of doubt be justified, either randomly or deterministically? What function would an illusion of doubt serve, even in the most blue-sky hypothetical way?
  • Why wouldn’t determinism itself be just as much of an illusion as free will or doubt under determinism?

Another common derailment is to conflate the position of recognizing the phenomenon of subjectivity as authentic with religious faith, naive realism, or soft-headed sentimentality. This also is ironic, as it is an attack on the ego of the subject, not on the legitimacy of the issue. There is no reason to presume any theistic belief is implied just because determinism can be challenged at its root rather than on technicalities.

Playing With Terms

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment

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