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Continuum of Perceptual Access

April 7, 2018 1 comment

This post is intended to bring more clarity to the philosophical view that I have named Multisense Realism. I have criticized popular contemporary views such as computationalism and physicalism because of their dependence on a primitive of information or matter that is independent of all experience. In both physicalism and computationalism, we are called upon to accept the premise that the universe is composed solely of concrete, tangible structures and/or abstract, intangible computations. Phenomena such as flavors and feelings, which are presented as neither completely tangible nor completely intangible are dismissed as illusions or emergent properties of the more fundamental dual principles. The tangible/intangible duality, while suffering precisely from the same interaction problems as substance dualism, adds the insult of preferring a relatively new and hypothetical kind of intangibility which enjoys all of our mental capacities of logic and symbolism, but which exists independently of all mental experience. When we try to pin down our notions of what information really is, the result is inevitably a circular definition which assumes phenomena can be ‘sent’ and ‘received’ from physics alone, despite the dependence of such phenomena on a preferred frame of reference and perception. When one looks at a system of mechanical operations that are deemed to cause information processing, we might ask the question “What is it that is being informed?” Is it an entity? Is there an experience or not? Are information and matter the same thing, and if so, which of them make the other appear opposite to the other? Which one makes anything ‘appear’ at all?

The answers I’ve heard and imagined seem to necessarily imply some sort info-homunculus that we call ‘the program’ or ‘the system’ to which mental experience can either be denied or assumed in an arbitrary way. This should be a warning to us that by using such an ambiguously conscious agent to explain how and why experience exists, we are committing a grave logical fallacy. To begin with, a principle that can be considered experiential or non-experiential to explain experience is like beginning with ‘moisture’ to explain the existence of water. Information theory is certainly useful to us as members of a modern civilization, however, that utility does not help us with our questions about whether experience can be generated by information or information is a quality of some categories of experience. It does not help us with the question of how the tangible and intangible interact. In our human experience, programs and systems are terms arising within the world of our thinking and understanding. In the absence of such a mental experience context, it is not clear what these terms truly refer to. Without that clarity, information processing agents are allowed them to exist in an unscientific fog as entities composed of an intangible pseudo-substance, but also with an unspecified capacity to control the behavior of tangible substances. The example often given to support this view is our everyday understanding of the difference between hardware and software. This distinction does not survive the test of anthropocentrism. Hardware is a concrete structure. Its behavior is defined in physical terms such as motion, location, and shape, or tendencies to change those properties. Software is an idea of how to design and manipulate those physical behaviors, and how the manipulation will result in our ability to perceive and interpret them as we intend. There is no physical manifestation of software, and indeed, no physical device that we use for computation has any logical entailment to experience anything remotely computational about its activities, as they are presumed to be driven by force rather than meaning. Again, we are left with an implausible dualism where the tangible and intangible are bound together by vague assumptions of unconscious intelligibility rather than by scientific explanation.

Panpsychism offers a possible a path to redemption for this crypto-dualistic worldview. It proposes that some degree of consciousness is pervasive in some or all things, however, the Combination Problem challenges us to explain how exactly micro-experiences on the molecular level build up to full-blown human consciousness. Constitutive panpsychism is the view that:

“facts about human and animal consciousness are not fundamental, but are grounded in/realized by/constituted of facts about more fundamental kinds of consciousness, e.g., facts about micro-level consciousness.”

Exactly how micro-phenomenal experiences are bound or fused together to form a larger, presumably richer macro-experience is a question that has been addressed by Hedda Hassel Mørch, who proposes that:

“mental combination can be construed as kind causal process culminating in a fusion, and show how this avoids the main difficulties with accounting for mental combination.”

In her presentation at the 2018 Science of Consciousness conference, Mørch described how Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) might shed some light on why this fusion occurs. IIT offers the value Φ to quantify the degree of integration of information in a physical system such as a brain. IIT is a panpsychist model that predicts that any sufficiently integrated information system can or will attain consciousness. The advantage of IIT is that consciousness is allowed to develop regardless of any particular substrate it is instantiated through, but we should not overlook the fact that the physical states seem to be at least as important. We can’t build machines out of uncontained gas. There would need to be some sort of solidity property to persist in a way that could be written to, read from, and addressed reliably. In IIT, digital computers or other inorganic machines are thought to be incapable of hosting fully conscious experience, although some minimal awareness may be present.

The theory vindicates some panpsychist intuitions – consciousness is an intrinsic, fundamental property, is graded, is common among biological organisms, and even some very simple systems have some. However, unlike panpsychism, IIT implies that not everything is conscious, for example group of individuals or feed forward networks. In sharp contrast with widespread functionalist beliefs, IIT implies that digital computers, even if their behavior were to be functionally equivalent to ours, and even if they were to run faithful simulations of the human brain, would experience next to nothing.” – Consciousness: Here, There but Not Everywhere

As I understand Mørch’s thesis, fusion occurs in a biological context when the number of causal relationships in the parts of a system that relate to the whole exceed the number of causal relationships which relate to the disconnected parts.

I think that this approach is an appropriate next step for philosophy of mind and may be useful in developing technology for AI. Information integration may be an ideal way to quantify degrees of consciousness for medical and legal purposes. It may give us ethical guidance in how synthetic and natural organisms should be treated, although I agree with some critics of IIT that the Φ value itself may be flawed. It is possible that IIT is on the right track in this instrumental sense, but that a better quantitative variable can be discovered. It is also possible that none of these approaches will help us understand what consciousness truly is, and will only confuse us further about the nature of the relation between the tangible, the intangible, and what I call the trans-tangible realm of direct perception.

What I propose here is that rather than considering a constitutive fusion of microphenomenal units into a macrophenomenal unit in which local causes and effects are consolidated into a larger locality, we should try viewing these micro and macro appearances as different orders of magnitude along a continuum of “causal lensing” or “access lensing“. Rather than physical causes of phenomenal effects, the lensing view begins with phenomenal properties as identical to existence itself.  Perceptions are more like apertures which modulate access and unity between phenomenal contexts rather than mathematical processes where perceptions are manufactured by merging their isolation. To shift from a natural world of mechanical forms and forces to one of perceptual access is a serious undertaking, with far-ranging consequences that require committed attention for an extended time. Personally, it took me several years of intensive consideration and debate to complete the transition. It is a metaphysical upheaval that requires a much more objective view of both objectivity and subjectivity.  Following this re-orientation, the terms ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ themselves are suggested to be left behind, adopting instead the simpler, clearer terms such as tangible, intangible, and trans-tangible. Using this platform of phenomenal universality as the sole universal primitive, I suggest a spectrum-like continuum where ranges of phenomenal magnitude map to physical scale, qualitative intensity, and to the degree of permeability between them.

For example, on the micro/bottom scale, we would place the briefest, most disconnected sensations and impulses which can be felt, and marry them to the smallest and largest structures available in the physical universe. This connection between subatomic and cosmological scales may seem counterintuitive to our physics-bound framework, but here we can notice the aesthetic similarities between particles in a void and stars in a void. The idea here is not to suggest that the astrophysical and microphysical are identical, but that the similarity of their appearances reflects our common perceptual limitation to those largest and smallest scales of experience.  These appearances may reflect a perception of objective facts, or they may be defined to some degree by particular perceptual envelope propagates reports about its own limits within itself. In the case of a star or an atom, we are looking at a report about the relationship between our own anthropocentric envelope of experience and the most distant scales of experience and finding that the overlap is similarly simple. What we see as a star or an atom may be our way of illustrating that our interaction is limited to very simple sensory-motor qualities such as ‘hold-release’ which corresponds to electromagnetic and gravitational properties of ‘push-pull’. If this view were correct, we should expect that to the extent that human lifetimes have an appearance from the astro or micro perspective, that appearance would be similarly limited to a simple, ‘points in a void’ kind of description. This is not to say that stars or atoms see us as stars or atoms, but that we should expect some analogous minimization of access across any sufficiently distant frame of perception.

Toward the middle of the spectrum, where medium-sized things like vertebrate bodies exist, I would expect that this similarity is gradually replaced by an increasing dimorphism. The difference between structures and feelings reaches its apex in the center of the spectrum for any given frame of perception. In that center, I suspect that sense presentations are maximally polarized, achieving the familiar Cartesian dualism of waking consciousness as is has been conditioned by Western society. In our case, the middle/macro level presentation is typically of an ‘interior’ which is intangible interacting with a tangible ‘exterior’ world, governed by linear causality. There are many people throughout history, however, who have reported other experiences in which time, space and subjectivity are considerably altered.

While the Western view dismisses non-ordinary states of consciousness as fraud or failures of human consciousness to report reality, I suggest that the entire category of transpersonal psychology can be understood as a logical expectation for the access continuum as it approaches the top end of the spectrum. Rather than reflecting a disabled capacity to distinguish fact from fiction, I propose that fact and fiction are, in some sense, objectively inseparable. As human beings, our body’s survival is very important to us, so such that phenomena relating to it directly would naturally occupy an important place in our personal experience. This should not be presumed to be the case for nature as a whole. Transpersonal experience may reflect a fairly accurate rendering of any given perceptual frame of reference which attains a sufficiently high level of sensitivity. With an access continuum model, high sensitivity corresponds to dilated apertures of perception (a la Huxley), and consequently allows more permeability across perceptual contexts, as well as permitting access to more distant scales of perceptual phenomena.

The Jungian concept of archetypes and collective unconscious should be considered useful intuitions here, as the recurring, cross-cultural nature of myth and dreams suggest access to phenomena which seem to blur or reveal common themes across many separate times and places. If our personal experience is dominated by a time-bound subject in a space-bound world, transpersonal experience seems to play with those boundaries in surreal ways. If personal experiences of time are measured with a clock, transpersonal time might be symbolized by Dali’s melting clocks. If our ordinary personal experience of strictly segregated facts and fictions occupies the robust center of the perceptual continuum, the higher degrees of access corresponds to a dissolving of those separations and the introduction of more animated and spontaneous appearances. As the mid-spectrum ‘proximate’ range gives way to an increasingly ‘ultimate’ top range, the experience of merging of times, places, subjects, objects, facts, and fiction may not so much be a hallucination as a profound insight into the limits of any given frame of perception. To perceive in the transpersonal band is to experience the bending and breaking of the personal envelope of perception so that its own limits are revealed. Where the West sees psychological confusion, the East sees cosmic fusion. In the access continuum view, both Eastern and Western view refer to the same thing. The transpersonal opportunity is identical to the personal crisis.

This may sound like “word salad” to some, or God to others, but what I am trying to describe is a departure from both Western and Eastern metaphysical models. It seems necessary to introduce new terms to define these new concepts. To describe how causality itself changes under different scales or magnitudes of perception, I use the term causal lensing. By this I mean to say that the way things happen in nature changes according to the magnitude of “perceptual access”. With the term ‘perceptual access’, I hope to break from the Western view of phenomenal experience as illusory or emergent, as well as breaking from the Eastern view of physical realism as illusory. Both the tangible and the intangible phenomena of nature are defined here as appearances within the larger continuum of perceptual access…a continuum in which all qualitative extremes are united and divided.

In order to unite and transcend both the bottom-up and top-down causality frameworks, I draw on some concepts from special relativity. The first idea that I borrow is the notion of an absolute maximum velocity, which I suggest is a sign that light’s constancy of speed is only one symptom of the deeper role of c.  Understanding ‘light speed’ as an oversimplification of how perception across multiple scales of access works, c becomes a perceptual constant instead of just a velocity. When we measure the speed of light, we may be measuring not only the distance traveled by a particle while a clock ticks, but also the latency associated with translating one scale of perception into another.

The second idea borrowed from relativity is the Lorentz transformation. In the same way that the special relativity links acceleration to time dilation and length contraction, the proposed causal lensing schema transforms along causality itself along a continuum. This continuum ranges from what I want to call ultimate causes (with highest saturation of phenomenal intensity and access), to proximate causes (something like the macrophenomenal units), to ‘approximate causes’. When we perceive in terms of proximate causality, space and time are graphed as perpendicular axes and c is the massless constant linking the space axis to the time axis. When we look for light in distant frames of perception, I suggest that times and spaces break down (√c ) or fuse together ().  In this way, access to realism and richness of experience can be calibrated as degrees of access rather than particles or waves in spacetime. What we have called particles on the microphysical scale should not be conceived necessarily as microphenomenal units, but more like phenomenal fragments or disunities that anticipate integration from a higher level of perception. In other words, the ‘quantum world’ has no existence of its own, but rather supplies ingredients for a higher level, macrophenomenal sense experience. The bottom level of any given frame of perception would be characterized by these properties of anticipatory disunity or macrophenomenal pre-coherence. The middle level of perception features whole, coherent Units of experience. The top or meta level of perception features Super-Unifying themes and synchronistic, poetic causality.

To be clear, what I propose here is that perceptual access is existence. This is an updated form of Berkeley’s “Esse est percipi” doctrine, where “to be is to be perceived” which does not presume perception to be a verb. In the access continuum view, aesthetic phenomena precede all distinctions and boundaries, so that even the assumption of a perceiving subject is discarded. Instead of requiring a divine perceiver, a super-subject becomes an appearance arising from the relation between ultimate and proximate ranges of perception. Subjectivity and objectivity are conceived of as mutually arising qualities within the highly dimorphic mid-range of the perceptual spectrum. This spectrum model, while honoring the intuitions of Idealists such as Berkeley, is intended to provide the beginnings of a plausible perception-based cosmology, with natural support from both Western Science and Eastern Philosophy.

Some examples of the perceptual spectrum:

In the case of vision, whether we lack visual acuity or sufficient light, the experience of not being able to see well can be characterized as a presentation of disconnected features. The all-but-blind seer is forced to approximate a larger, more meaningful percept from bits and pieces, so that a proximate percept (stuff happening here and now that a living organism cares about) can be substituted. Someone who is completely blind may use a cane to touch and feel objects in their path. This does not yield a visible image but it does fill in some gaps between the approximate level of perceptual access to the proximate level. This process, I suggest, is roughly what we are seeing in the crossing over from quantum mechanics to classical mechanics. Beneath the classical limit there is approximating causality based on probabilistic computation. Beyond the classical limit causality takes on deterministic causality appearances in the ‘Morphic‘ externalization and will-centered causality appearances in the ‘Phoric‘ interiorization.

access

In other words, I am suggesting a reinterpretation of quantum mechanics so that it is understood to be an appearance which reflects the way that a limited part of nature guesses about the nature of its own limitation.

In this least-accessible (Sempahoric, approximate) range of consciousness, awareness is so impoverished that even a single experience is fragmented into ephemeral signals which require additional perception to fully ‘exist’. What we see as the confounding nature of QM may be an accurate presentation of the conditions of mystery which are required to manifest multiple meaningful experiences in many different frames of perception. Further, this different interpretation of QM re-assigns the world of particle physics so that it no longer is presumed to be the fabric of the universe, but is instead seen as equivalent to the ‘infra-red’ end of a universal perceptual spectrum, no more or less real than waking life or a mystical vision. Beginning with a perceptual spectrum as our metaphysical and physical absolute, light becomes inseparable from sight, and invisible ranges of electromagnetism are perceptual modes which human beings have no direct access to. If this view is on the right track, seeing light as literally composed of photons would be category error that mistakes an appearance of approximation and disunity for ‘proximated’ or formal units. It seems possible that this mistake is to blame for contradictory entities in quantum theory such as ‘particle-waves’. I am suggesting that the reality of illumination is closer to what an artist does in a painting to suggest light – that is, using lighter colors of paint to show a brightening of a part of the visual field. The expectation of photons composing beams of light in space is, on this view, a useful but misguided confusion. There may be no free-standing stream of pseudo-particles in space, but instead, there is an intrinsically perceptual relation which is defined by the modality and magnitude of its access. I suggest that the photon, as well as the electromagnetic field, are more inventions than discoveries, and may ultimately be replaced with an access modulation theory. Special relativity was on the right track, but it didn’t go far enough as to identify light as an example of how perception defines the the proximate layer of the universe through optical-visibile spatiotemporalization.

Again, I understand the danger here of ‘word salad’ accusations and the over-use of neologisms, but please bear in mind that my intention here is to push the envelope of understanding to the limit, not to assert an academic certainty. This is not a theory or hypothesis, this is an informal conjecture which seems promising to me as a path for others to explore and discover. With that, let us return to the example of poor sight to illustrate the “approximate”, bottom range of the perceptual continuum. In visual terms, disconnected features such as brightness, contrast, color, and saturation should be understood to be of a wholly different order than a fully realized image. There is no ’emergence’ in the access continuum model. Looking at this screen, we are not seeing a fusion of color pixels, but rater we are seeing through the pixel level.  The fully realized visual experience (proximate level) does not reduce to fragments but has images as its irreducible units. Like the blind person using a cane, an algorithm can match invisible statistical clues about the images we see to names that have been provided, but there is no spontaneous visual experience being generated. Access to images through pixels is only possible from the higher magnitude of visual perception. From the higher level, the criticality between the low level visible pixels and images is perhaps driven by a bottom-up (Mørchian) fusion, but only because there are also top-down, center-out, and periphery-in modes of access available. Without those non-local contexts and information sources, there is no fusion. Rather than images emerging from information, they are made available through a removal of resistance to their access. There may be a hint of this in the fact that when we open our eyes in the light, one type of neurochemical activity known as ‘dark current’ ceases. In effect, sight begins with unseeing darkness.

 

Part 2: The Proximate Range of the Access Continuum

At the risk of injecting even more abstruse content (why stop now?), I want to discuss the tripartite spectrum model (approximate, proximate, and ultimate) and the operators √c, c, and c²*. In those previous articles, I offered a way of thinking about causality in which binary themes such as position|momentum, and contextuality|entanglement on the quantum level may be symptoms of perceptual limitation rather than legitimate features of a microphysical world. The first part of this article introduces √c as the perceptual constant on the approximate (low level) of the spectrum. I suggest that while photons, which would be the √c level fragments of universal visibility, require additional information to provide image-like pattern recognition, the actual perception of the image gestalt seems to be an irreducibly c (proximate, mid-level) phenomenon. By this, I mean that judging from the disparity between natural image perception and artificial image recognition, as revealed by adversarial images that are nearly imperceptible to humans, we cannot assume a parsimonious emergence of images from computed statistics. There seems to be no mechanical entailment for the information relating bits of information to one another that would level up to an aesthetically unified visible image. This is part of what I try to point out in my TSC 2018 presentation, The Hard Problem of Signaling.

Becuase different ranges of the perceptual spectrum are levels of access rather than states of a constitutive panpsychism, there is no reason to be afraid of Dualism as a legitimate underlying theme for the middle range. With the understanding that the middle range is only the most robust type of perceptual access and not an assertion of naive realism, we are free to redeem some aspects of the Cartesian intuition. The duality seen by Descartes, Galileo, and Locke, should not be dismissed as naive misunderstandings from a pre-scientific era, but as the literal ‘common-sense’ scope of our anthropic frame of perception. This naive scope, while unfashionable after the 19th century, is no less real than the competing ranges of sense. Just because we are no longer impressed by the appearance of res cogitans and res extensa does not mean that they are not impressive. Thinking about a cogitans-like and extensa-like duality as diametrically filtered versions of a ‘res aesthetica’ continuum works for me. The fact that we can detect phenomena that defy this duality does not make the duality false, it only means that duality isn’t the whole story. Because mid-level perception has a sample rate that is slower than the bottom range, we have been seduced into privileging that bottom range as more real. This to me is not a scientific conclusion, but a sentimental fascination with transcending the limits of our direct experience. It is exciting to think that the universe we see is ‘really’ composed of exotic Planck scale phenomena, but it makes more sense in my view to see the different scales of perception as parallel modes of access. Because time itself is being created and lensed within every scale of perception, it would be more scientific avoid assigning preference frame to the bottom scale. The Access Continuum model restores some features Dualism to what seems to me to be its proper place: as a simple and sensible map of the typical waking experience. A sober, sane, adult human being in the Western conditioned mindset experiences nature as a set of immaterial thoughts and feelings inside a world of bodies in motion. When we say that appearances of Dualism are illusion, we impose an unscientific prejudice against our own native epistemology. We are so anxious to leave the pre-scientific world behind that we would cheat at our own game. To chase the dream of perfect control and knowledge, we have relegated ourselves to a causally irrelevant epiphenomenon.

To sum up, so far in this view, I have proposed

  1. a universe of intrinsically perceptual phenomena in which some frames of perception are more localized, that is, more spatially, temporally, and perceptually impermeable, than others.
  2. Those frames of perception which are more isolated are more aesthetically impoverished so that in the most impermeable modes, realism itself is cleaved into unreal conjugate pairs.
  3. This unreality of disunited probabilities is what we see in poor perceptual conditions and in quantum theory. I call these pairs semaphores, and the degree of perceptual magnitude they embody I call the semaphoric or approximate range of the spectrum.
  4. The distance between semaphores is proposed to be characterized by uncertainty and incompleteness. In a semaphoric frame of visible perception, possibilities of pixels and possible connections between them do not appear as images, but to a seer of images, they hint at the location of an image which can be accessed.
  5. This idea of sensitivity and presentation as doors of experience rather sense data to be fused into a phenomenal illusion is the most important piece of the whole model. I think that it provides a much-needed bridge between relativity, quantum mechanics, and the entire canon of Western and Eastern philosophy.
  6. The distinction between reality and illusion, or sanity and insanity is itself only relevant and available within a particular (proximate) range of awareness. In the approximate and ultimate frames of perception, such distinctions may not be appropriate. Reality is not subjective or relative, but it is limited to the mid-range scope of the total continuum of access. All perceptions are ultimately ‘real’ in the top level, trans-local sense and ‘illusion’ in the approximate, pre-local sense.
  7. It is in the proximate, middle range of perception where the vertical continuum of access stretches out horizontally so that perception is lensed into a duality between mechanical-tangible-object realism and phenomenal-intangible-subject realism. It is through the lensing that the extreme vantage points perceive each other as unreal, naive, or insane. Whether we are born to personally identify with the realism of the tangible or intangible seems to also hang in the balance between pre-determined fate and voluntary participation. Choosing our existential anchoring is like confronting the ‘blue dress’ or ‘duck-rabbit’ ambiguous image. Once we attach to the sense of a particular orientation, the competing orientation becomes nonsense.

Part 3: The Ultimate Range of the Access Continuum

Once the reader feels that they have a good grasp of the above ideas of quantum and classical mechanics as approximate and proximate ranges of a universal perceptual continuum, this next section can be a guide to the other half of the conjecture. I say it can be a guide because I suspect that it is up to the reader to collaborate directly with the process. Unlike a mathematical proof, understanding of the upper half of the continuum is not confined to the intellect. For those who are anchored strongly in our inherited worldviews, the ideas presented here will be received as an attack on science or religion. In my view, I am not here to convince anyone or prove anything, I am here to share a ‘big picture’ understanding that may only be possible to glimpse for some people at some times. For those who cannot or will not be able to access to this understanding at this time, I apologize sincerely. As someone who grew up with the consensus scientific view as a given fact, I understand that this writing and the writer appear either ridiculously ignorant or insane. I would try to explain that this appearance too is actually supportive of the perceptual lensing model that I’m laying out, but this would only add to feelings of distrust and anger. For those who have the patience and the interest, we can proceed to the final part of the access continuum conjecture.

I have so far described the bottom end of the access continuum as being characterized by disconnected fragments and probabilistic guessing, and the middle range as a dualistic juxtaposition of morphic forms and ‘phoric’ experiences. In the higher range of the continuum perceptual apertures are opened to the presence of supersaturated aesthetics which transcend and transform the ordinary. Phenomena in this range seem to freely pass across the subject-object barrier. If c is the perceptual constant in which public space and private time are diametrically opposed, then the transpersonal constant which corresponds to the fusion of multiple places and times can be thought of as . We can construct physical clocks out of objects, but these actually only give us samples of how objects change in public space. The sense of time must be inferred by our reasoning so that a dimension of linear time is imagined as connecting those public changes. This may seem solipsistic – that I am suggesting that time isn’t objectively real. This would be true if we assumed, as Berkeley did, that perception necessarily implies a perceiver. Because the view I’m proposing assumes that perception is absolute, the association of time with privacy and space with publicity does not threaten realism. Think of it like depth perception. In one sense we see a fusion of two separate two-dimensional images. In another sense, we use a single binocular set of optical sensors to give us access to three-dimensional vision. Applied to time, we perceive an exteriorized world in which is relatively static and we perceive an interiorized world-less-ness in which all remembered experiences are collected. It is by attaching our personal sense of narrative causality to the snapshots of experience that we can access publicly that a sense of public time is accessed. In the high level range of the continuum, time can progress in circular or ambiguous ways against a backdrop of eternity rather than the recent past. In this super-proximate apprehension of nature, archetypal themes from the ancient past or alien future can coexist.  Either of these can take on extraordinarily benevolent or terrifying qualities.

Like it or not, no description of the universe can possibly be considered complete if it denies the appearance of surrealities. Whether it is chemically induced or natural, the human experience has always included features which we call mystical, psychotic, paranormal, or religious. While we dream, we typically do not suspect that we are in a dreamed world until we awake into another experience which may or may not also be a dream. It is a difficult task to fairly consider these types of phenomena as they are politically charged in a way which is both powerful and invisible to us. Like the fish who spends its life swimming in a nameless plenum, it is only those who jump or are thrown out of it who can perceive the thing we call water. Sanity cannot be understood without having access to an extra-normal perspective where its surfaces are exposed. If a lack of information is the bridge between the approximate and the proximate ranges of the access continuum, then transcendental experience is the bridge between the proximate and the ultimate range of the continuum. The highest magnitudes of perception break the fourth wall, and in an involuted/Ouroboran way, provide access to the surfaces of our own access capacities.

Going back to the previous example of vision, the ultimate range of perception can be added to the list:

  • √c  – Feeling your way around in a dark room where a few features are visible.
  •  Seeing three-dimensional forms in a well lit, real world.
  • – Intuiting that rays, reflections, and rainbows reveal unseen facts about light.

It is important to get that the “²” symbolizes a meta- relation rather than a quantity (although the quantitative value may be useful as well). The idea is that seeing a rainbow is “visibility squared” because it is a visible presence which gives access to deeper levels of appreciating and understanding visibility. Seeing light as spectral, translucent images, bright reflections, shining or glowing radiance, is a category of sight that gives insight into sight. That self-transcending recursiveness is what is meant by : In the case of seeing, visible access to the nature of visibility. If we look carefully, every channel of perception includes its own self-transcendent clues. Where the camera betrays itself as a lens flare, the cable television broadcast shows its underpinnings as freezing and pixellating. Our altered states of consciousness similarly tell us personally about what it is like for consciousness to transcend personhood. This is how nature bootstraps itself, encoding keys to decode itself in every appearance.

Other sense modalities follow the same pattern as sight. The more extreme our experiences of hearing, the more we can understand about how sound and ears work. It is a curious evolutionary maladaptation that rather than having the sense organ protect itself from excessive sensation, it remains vulnerable to permanent damage. It would be strange to have a computer that would run a program to simulates something so intensely that it permanently damages its own capacity to simulate. What would be the evolutionary advantage of a map which causes deafness and blindness? This question is another example of why it makes sense to understand perception as a direct method of access rather than a side effect of information processing. We are not a program, we are an i/o port. What we call consciousness is a collection of perceptions under an umbrella of perception that is all-but imperceptible to us normally. Seeing our conscious experience from the access continuum perspective means defining ourselves on three different levels at once – as a  partition of experience within an eternal and absolute experience, as a c level ghost in a biochemical machine, and as a √c level emergence from subconscious computation:

  • √c (Semaphoric-Approximate)  – Probabilistic Pre-causality
  •  (Phoric|Morphic-Proximate) – Dualistic Free Will and Classical Causality
  • (Metaphoric-Ultimate) – Idealistic or Theistic Post-Causality

Notice that the approximate range and ultimate ranges both share a sense of uncertainty, however, where low level awareness seeks information about the immediate environment to piece together, high level awareness allows itself to be informed by that what is beyond its directly experienced environments. Between the pre-causal level of recombinatory randomness and the supernatural level of synchronistic post-causality is the dualistic level, where personal will struggles against impersonal and social forces.  From this Phoric perspective, the metaphoric super-will seems superstitious and the semaphoric un-will seems recklessly apathetic. This is another example of how perceptual lensing defines nature. From a more objective and scientific perspective, all of these appearances are equally real in their own frame of reference and equally unreal from outside of that context.

Just as high volume of sound reveals the limits of the ear, and the brightness of light exposes the limits of the eye, the limits of the human psyche at any given phase of development are discovered through psychologically intense experiences. A level of stimulation that is safe for an adult may not be tolerable for a child or baby. Alternatively, it could be true that some experiences which we could access in the early stages of our life would be too disruptive to integrate into our worldview as adults. Perhaps as we mature collectively as a species, we are acquiring more tolerance and sensitivity to the increased level of access that is becoming available to us. We should understand the dangers as well as the benefits that come with an increasingly porous frame of perception, both from access to the “supernatural” metaphoric and “unnatural”, semaphoric ranges of the continuum. Increased tolerance means that fearful reactions to both can be softened so that what was supernatural can become merely surreal and what was unnatural can be accepted as non-repulsively uncanny. Whether it is a super-mind without a physical body or a super-machine with a simulated mind, we can begin to see both as points along the universal perceptual continuum.

Craig Weinberg, Tucson 4/7/2018

Latest revision 4/18/2018

*Special Diffractivity: c², c, and √c, Multisense Diagram w/ CausalityMSR Schema 3.3Three-Phase Model of Will

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About Naive Realism and the Limitation of Models

April 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Nature is not what it naively seems to us to be only to the extent that we are a limited part of nature. Nature as a whole is exactly what it seems, and also, in its most essential sense, nature is seeming, or sense itself.

In the process of enlightening civilization, the scientific worldview has had some casualties, one of which is the authority of our naive sense of reality. Many people feel entirely justified in thinking that all human intuition and instinct is grounded only in evolved fictions that must be overcome in order to understand the truth of anything. This now extends to understanding phenomena such as consciousness and free will, so that even the Cartesian cogito is to be taken with a grain of salt. “I think therefore I am.” no longer is persuasive to the modern cybernetic intellect, which might instead say “You’re programmed to think that you think and that you are, but really there is only organic chemistry playing itself out in your brain.”

Part of what Multisense Realism is about is to reclaim the validity of introspection and understanding, so as to avoid the extremism of either the pre-scientific worldview of anthropomorphic solipsism, or the current reductionist worldview of mechanemorphic nilipsism*. The MSR view is that our naive perspective is not an illusion, it is that our variation on reality exists within a much larger context of interacting variations on reality. The weight of the aggregate of all of these other perspectives are honored within our own sanity as a sense of realism. The depth of scientific knowledge serves to disillusion our naive worldview, but what I propose is that this disillusionment is not an indication of an objective reality of nature, only a hint that the expectation of objectivity is quality of relationship within subjectivity. Realism is a kind of perceptual gravity, anchoring and orienting as well as crushing possibilities into dust. It is a filter on consciousness, and the more public or universal an experience is to be, the more constrained it is to the accumulated history of public facing experience.

Altered states of consciousness can show us that like Neanderthals and other extinct branches of our evolutionary tree, our contemporary state of mind is only one of many which have achieved some stability over time. Ken Wilber’s spectrum of consciousness gets into the different modes of human awareness, linking individual development stages to the stages of anthropological development. Leary’s 8-Circuit Model and the many models of Eastern mysticism echo this idea of stable chakras or umwelt levels within an accelerating gyre of consciousness improving itself. We may be able to achieve spectacular results individually or in small groups, but find that the resistance of the outside world is overwhelming. In the cold light of day, the most moving insights flatten out into goofy platitudes.

Speaking of flattening things out, it is interesting to note that when we try to flatten a sphere, such as when we want a map the Earth onto a page, we have to use projections that approximate the relations on the sphere. There are clever ways of doing it which minimize the distortion, but it occurs to me that traveling around the surface of the world in a complete circle remains the best way I can think of retaining both the flatness and the roundness of the world. Our first person perspective remains the most elegant way of harmonizing opposing perspectives. Flying or sailing around the world gives us an apprehension of that harmony that doesn’t carry over to a model. The scale of the Earth, likewise, is presented in a more impressive, realistic way than any model could also.

The physical model which we have inherited contributes to the nilipsistic worldview mentioned above. If I’m being uncharitable, I might characterize this contemporary phase of cosmology as ‘vacuum worship’. I’m referring to quantum mechanical models through which we infer “A Universe From Nothing”, where “nothing” is a superposition of quantum wavefunctions…statistical tendencies to oscillate into existence for longer than no time at all. Here I suggest a cure for this useful, but fundamentally inverted worldview: Put the vacuum into the vacuum. Get rid of the idea of ‘nothing’ altogether.

Instead of a universe of particles or potential particles in a void, I propose turning it inside out, so that spacetime is an illusion of separation. Quantum events are not grounded in non-locality so much as they are semaphores – signs which define the sense of locality itself. Entanglement should be thought of as ‘pinging locality’ rather than a non-local connection between two real ‘particles’.

*neologisms

Triad Models

May 12, 2014 Leave a comment

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Trial Epilogue on MSR

May 10, 2014 2 comments

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

Privilege and Privacy

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

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

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

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

polargraph

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

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

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

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

Oppositivism

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

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

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

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

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

IIT

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Orch OR, Penrose, and Fermat’s Last Theorem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Global Workspace Theory

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

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

 

What’s Next?

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

 

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

0IIIIII8 Cosmogony

March 7, 2014 Leave a comment

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What is Time?

March 5, 2014 17 comments

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How would you define it?

I propose a new way of describing time, which I find clearer and more explanatory than others.

Time is an abstraction which refers to a general property of experiences which are remembered or recorded as having occurred in a either an irreversible linear sequence, or a repeating sequence (cycle). In my view, time is inherently phenomenal (private, experiential) rather than physical (public, structural), not just because of time dilation under Relativity, but for the more axiomatic reason that time requires memory. Without memory, there can logically be only one eternal moment. It could be repeating forever or be following a pattern or have no pattern and nothing could tell the difference. Time…is experience, or a quality of experience through which private memory can map to public structure. I suggest that time can be understood as taking on three different modal scopes:

I. Micro-phenomenal: This is clock time. Physics. Looking at the development of time keeping, we can see that early devices exploited natural processes which were either continuous and invariant, such as the flow of water or sand into a container, or which cycled reliably, such as a shadow on a sundial. Mechanical clocks offered a marriage of the two, whereby an underlying linear or oscillating effect such as an unwinding spring’s tension or a pendulum’s swing would advance the teeth of a system of gears, one by one.

Each tick/tock is an precisely measured event which is, as much as possible, uniform and generic. As technology has improved, we have refined the clock to a pinnacle of pure abstraction. Both the indivisible and divisible power of nature has been abstracted electronically. A perpetual electrical current drives generic switches to compute a digitally coded readout. Satellite networks deliver synchronized atomic time. Each microsecond like the last, and even though global adjustments to clock or calendar can be made arbitrarily by central authorities, we feel that this kind of time is the ‘real time’.

II. Phenomenal Time: This is natural time. Idioms like ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ or ‘it was the longest night of my life’ reflect that our ordinary sense of time also dilates and contracts through emotional states. Significant events and experiences seem to stand out in our autobiographical memory as not only more timely, but more timeless as well. We claim them, intentionally or unintentionally, as our own. This kind of time is narrative. “I woke up, I ate breakfast, I went to the store”, etc.. There is a story which has a shape – beginnings, middles and ends. It is not just generic oscillation or monotonous duration or arrow of increasing entropy, but a proprietary sequence of participation. This is the kind of time that we might say ‘seems like’ it is real.

If you think of how a story works, the more of the story is told, the more the information entropy decreases. By the middle of the story, we know the characters, the setting, the plot, etc. The number of possible ways the story can continue is relatively limited (even if it is still potentially unlimited in an absolute sense). The significance, however, of the remaining bit of the story is increasingly augmented. If the story is good, you want to hear the end of it, even if you are pretty sure that you know how it will turn out.

After the story ends, it would seem that there is no entropy left. The story has been told in its entirety. In reality, however, the meta-story has just begun. The memory of it survives, creating new opportunities to be applied figuratively in one’s life, as well as sharing it socially and seeing it retold, dramatized, and celebrated in culture as myth.

III. Metaphenomenal Time: Carl Jung famously wrote about the Collective Unconscious, and synchronicity. Experiences which some consider delusional or paranormal. Meaningful coincidences, prophetic dreams, a symbolic language of recurring characters and sagas called archetypes. This is eternal time. Time wound around itself in such a way that some essential, iconic reduction of all that has happened or might happen is in some sense ‘always still here’ and in another sense ‘never really anywhere’.

This is not mystical babbling to me, it is literally the physical reality of what the universe is and what (or who) it does. We have no trouble thinking of eternity in the Platonic sense, as ideal geometric forms or mathematical relations, but because we ourselves are immersed in human phenomena we do not see ourselves as being composed of similarly eternal recurrences.

Because there is no hard line between I, II, and III, all time is actually nested within all three contexts. This can help explain how intuition could work to allow people to sometimes pick up on feelings from a larger scope of time. Events that have great significance especially could theoretically cast a shadow from the III range to the II, so that from the II perspective, it is precognitive.

John Weldon’s “To Be”

February 22, 2014 Leave a comment

If you say yes to the scientist, you are saying that originality is an illusion and simulation is absolute. Arithmetic can do so many things, but it can’t do something that can only be done once. Think of consciousness as not only that which can’t be done more than once, it is that which cannot even be fully completed one time. It doesn’t begin or end, and it is neither finite nor infinite, progressing or static, but instead it is the fundamental ability for beginnings and endings to seem to exist and to relate to each other sensibly. Consciousness is orthogonal to all process and form, but it reflects itself in different sensible ways through every appreciation of form.

The not-even-done-onceness of consciousness and the done-over-and-overness of its self reflection can be made to seem equivalent from any local perspective, since the very act of looking through a local perspective requires a comparison with prior perspectives, and therefore attention to the done-over-and-overness – the rigorously measured and recorded. In this way, the diagonalization of originality is preserved, but always behind our back. Paradoxically, it is only when we suspend our rigid attention and unexamine the forms presented within consciousness and the world that we can become the understanding that we expect.

MSR Schema

February 13, 2014 Leave a comment

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Robot and Wizard

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

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Annotated Tree

January 19, 2014 Leave a comment

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