Archive for the ‘phenomenology’ Category

Us, the Virus, and Multisense Metaphysics

April 3, 2020 Leave a comment

In my view, there are three distinct, contrasting layers of causality:

1. Subpersonal (mechanical, generic, repetitive, statistical, meaningless)

2. Personal (dualistic, intentional, autobiographical, semi-meaningful)

3. Transpersonal (transcendental, synchronistic, archetypal, super-meaningful)

For most individuals, I suspect that we are here primarily to participate in a personal experience.  This consists of a human lifetime which combines both elements that are tailor-made for us as conscious subjects, and elements that are arbitrary from a subjective perspective and are instead brought about statistically by relatively objective and inevitable conditions. We are the union of the intentional and the unintentional. One of the consequences of that union is that our ability to participate consciously tilts the balance toward the intentional, even if only in the fact that intention is conceivable. I think that playing this role of person necessarily requires us to act as a gatekeeper between the levels above and below our own personal range of experience. The person is like a transistor, modulating the flow of cause and effect between the subpersonal (bottom-up, unintentional) and transpersonal (top-down, super-intentional), as well as initiating their own unique causes on a personal and interpersonal level. We are choosing, little by little, whether to support broadly inclusive, sensible qualities of experience (what I call Significance) or to support less-significant, ‘lower’ agendas that are purely selfish and insignificant. We have the privilege to decide whether to emphasize the ‘better angels of our nature’, or to indulge in ego glorification, or to descend further into dehumanization (the subpersonal/impersonal).

In the context of my Multisense Realism metaphysics, I use the term significance in a formal, and somewhat neologistic way. The idea is that since the universe is made of conscious aesthetic (feelings, sensations, qualities) experiences rather than something like information or physical mechanisms (anesthetic forms, functions, numbers), there are some interpretations of physical law that need to be updated. If my view is on the right track, then what we understand through the Second Law of Thermodynamics is only addressing the lowest, subpersonal/impersonal layer of nature. When we run scientifically controlled experiments using tangible objects as instruments to exert and record tangible influences over other tangibly measurable phenomena, then by design we are going to exclude the personal and transpersonal layers of causality to a large extent. The very methods we are using to inspect nature are specifically suppressing the influence of higher consciousness in the service of science, however, without higher consciousness, what remains of science is, like the phenomena that are being studied, ultimately entropic and meaningless. The point of science is to assist higher consciousness, and where it fails to do that, it is a net loss for civilization. Optimizing financial profit is not a feature of higher consciousness, it is an agenda within personal and interpersonal consciousness.

With Multisense Realism I have attempted (in a somewhat lazy and half-assed way) to propose ideas for rehabilitating our worldview on a philosophical level with a model of nature in which mechanism, personal participation, and transpersonal phenomena are integrated as parts of a single ‘aesthetic’ spectrum. It now appears to be time to take a shot at applying this philosophical project more to real life, and perhaps specifically toward strategies related to coping with the ‘long emergency’ that humanity is currently entering.

What then might the MSR philosophy suggest that we can do personally during this time?

1. Be a good gatekeeper. It is our personal responsibility to negotiate between our body and emotional needs (subpersonal and intrapersonal levels of experience) and our higher guidance of interpersonal and transpersonal awareness (thinking, informing ourselves, intuition, empathy, inspiration, divinity). Being a good gatekeeper means being a good leader to your body and a good citizen to society and the cosmos. It means asserting the significance of higher agendas over lower ones, however, there is also a danger in allowing raw transpersonal impulses to fill us with false hopes, superstitions, myth and drama. Sanity is the mid-range between the overly autistic and overly artistic. The place in between is the best place for most of us to build our psychological house-of-bricks. The key to being a good gatekeeper, IMO is to get into the habit of addressing sensations and impulses, emotions and thoughts in an intelligent way: To sort out which experiences are caused by automatic mechanisms that can be ignored or adjusted, and which rise to the attention of our personal and participation. We should ask ourselves, how does sanity work? This becomes more important in a time of mass crisis and prolonged isolation.

2. I think that we are here because there are some things that can only be experienced directly from the perspective of being a particular, unique person. It is important that to ‘be yourself’ to a greater extent during these times and resist the pressure to degenerate into stereotypical roles and behaviors that fill the vacuum during a low-level crisis such as a war or pandemic. The virus event is forcing us to choose, with our actions, whether to dehumanize or rehumanize.

3. Understand and practice self-healing. This gets into some potentially dangerous speculation. I am not a qualified expert by any means, and I would never suggest that anyone ignore medical realities. What I offer here is an interpretation of the placebo effect which gives us mental license to intervene on our own behalf and potentially on behalf of others. I think that the ‘placebo’ interpretation of medically inert intervention is based on the mechanistic, sub-personal worldview described in the first paragraph. If my view is on the right track, this is a biased misinterpretation that effectively cuts off our access to half of the available resources for wellness and healing. Without getting too far into the weeds, I will just say that while we must collectively focus on mechanical, functional solutions to public health and social crises, we can also personally stretch our sensitivity into the transpersonal levels of intuition and synchronicity to discover new paths of healing and support. Again, ungated access to the transpersonal can and will by default lead us into magical thinking and superstition, so it’s important not to abandon our post with uncritical thinking. What I am suggesting is that what we think and feel are powerful, reality-altering influences, which we can also have power over to some degree.

Ok, now I’ll get into the weeds. Feel free to ignore the rest of this.

A more technical justification for how personal consciousness can alter subpersonal realities comes from the idea that ’emergent properties’ are a negentropic influence on physical phenomena. That is, conscious perception and attention have the effect of simplifying complex physical phenomena and consolidating fine-grained details. Even from a materialistic perspective, that is the function of consciousness – to winnow ‘sense data’ down into a manageable stream.

My thinking is that because the details being eliminated and summarized by perception are microphysical, they are skewed toward disorderly, entropic tendencies. The second law of thermodynamics applies to physics, but not to perception, and not to physics that is under the influence of intention.

When we look at a video screen, for example, we don’t see an ocean of photoelectric and biochemical effects, we see an orderly visible image, with legible words and sentences. We are using the sub-personal ocean of meaningless-but-tangible events as a medium through which higher level, less tangible perceptions and understandings can take place. Our participation is having an effect on the balance of entropy and negentropy as well as in the selection of which negentropic resolutions are emphasized. When we look at an optical illusion such as the duck-rabbit ambiguous image, we can, through our attention, choose whether to see the duck, the rabbit, or neither. (Negentropic resolution 1, Negentropic resolution 2, or unresolved Entropic state). We may be able to even create novel, proprietary perceptual gestalts (Negentropic resolution X).

What I am suggesting is that part of what is going on in the placebo effect is that when we participate in an intervention from higher levels of consciousness onto lower levels, we are changing the momentum of entropy and negentropy in our own experience, which includes our body. Just as the Safety Match meme illustrates how social distancing can interrupt the domino effect of the exponential spread of disease, so too can our conscious interventions interrupt or accelerate automatic body processes.

(image by Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre)

We can see more and do more with our body than our body can without us. As spectacular and complex as the human body is, it is by itself, just programmed to grow, reproduce, and die. It is our personal consciousness, and its power to channel transpersonal genius into the world which makes the difference. All that we have to do is to channel wisely. We have to choose when and how to choose.

Qualia Basics

January 7, 2020 4 comments

A quick way to clarify what qualia is for those who are opposed to the term on the grounds that it doesn’t mean anything.

Top mug: Blue qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 490 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Center mug: Red Qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 690 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Bottom mug: Multicolored Qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 780 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

What you see is qualia, not electromagnetic radiation. You can see red qualia in your dreams or visual imagination, but you couldn’t see electromagnetic radiation in the visible range there because it doesn’t physically exist in your brain. Electromagnetism is invisible and is a property transmitted by tangible, mechanical, photoelectric effects on matter in public space.

Visible light is qualia which can be *stimulated to appear* through tangible, mechanical photo-electric effects on matter in public space, but the qualia itself is not that stimulation. The qualia itself is a visible, aesthetic-participatory phenomenon that depends on your ability to access an intangible palette of visible hues, the extent of which is unknowable (there are at least three primary colors, but there may be many more, or infinitely many more, or new ones all the time…we don’t know.)


Dr. Neil Theise Interview

December 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Great Stuff from Dr. Theise and Sean Webb (The Walrus) Starting from about halfway through, I suggest that the low level randomness of the body is a symptom of greater penetration of consciousness into the physicalized vocabulary either in an absolute sense or relative sense or both, rather than a cause of emergence by something like entropy modulation. In the relative sense, I mean that it may be the case that on a slow enough and large enough scale, even the lowest levels of randomness take on life-like appearances, so that living organisms appear to have more low level randomness to us because we are alive and therefore more sensitive to our own class of ‘likeness’. I propose that like experiences have more access and more nuanced renderings of each other, so that any experiences of a sufficiently similar perceptual sampling rate will be experienced as ‘alive’, or more alive to each other than dissimilarly timescaled experiences.

I also think that the appearance of emergent symptoms in artificial systems need not be an indication of a rich, multi-sensory experience, i.e. that a simulation has begun for the bits or avatar collection of bits, but rather reflects the ‘autistic’ ghost-limb type residuation of the isolated band of intellectualized-game theoretic sense which has put the bit-nursing technology together in the first place. The bits aren’t having an experience, we are using matter as a resonator/reflector to conjure an image of one surface or bounded slice of the continuum of universal perception. Computers mirror an image of intelligence back to that intelligence (such as ours) but are not themselves hosting intelligence. By contrast, the brain is an image (our image shared by macro scale animal experiences) of sub-personal experience that is actually bridging the gap between personal and impersonal (astrophysical) scales of experience. Brain has computational properties but is not computing anything. A computer has low level experiential properties but those are not accumulating a higher order of experience via constitutive, many-to-one emergence. I think that all experiences are a top-down divergence riding on a bottom up pseudo-emergence, as well as a center-out/in expansion. In other words, we are part beast, part angel, and part unique/unprecedented person. The beast part is, in its own context part micro-beast (cell), part sub-person  or sub-self (impulses, urges, id), and part person (its ‘God’/superego/trans-subself…how the animal’s body is influenced by its unseen master…our personal will influences our body from the top down via voluntary control over efferent nervous impulses > muscle tissue).

As far as self-organization goes, I would add that while I think all phenomena are conscious experience in some sense and scale, the way that organization emerges or is implemented may not be visible to the experiences whose ‘body’/exterior facing rendering is being organized. It may not be strictly correct to say that unintelligent agents ‘self-organize’, or that the appearance of spontaneous organization is a symptom of the micro-intelligence of what is being organized. We may be observing a teleonomy based, ad hoc statistical organization rather than a teleologically based intent to organize. There may be teleology, but not on the same level as the body appearance of organization.

A nit picky thing, Dr. Theise was talking about mass emerging from fundamental energy, i.e. particles appearing randomly in the primordial quantum context. It seems to me that this connects to what he was saying about figure/ground switching in an ambiguous image (like this famous face-vase one:

Isn’t the difference between mass and energy a figure-ground relation based on frame of reference? So I’m thinking that while from any given perspective/perceptual frame massive particles appear and disappear in a given local scope of perception, those events are reflections of overlap between one part of the scope and another which are appearing and disappearing…freckles of self-impermeability…a sense of self-spatiotemporalizing insensitivities which serve to spatialize and temporalize (objectify and subjectify) the sense of tangibility from tactile sense qualia. Maybe that was sort of implied though.

In the second half, the conversation goes into a direction that really meshes perfectly with what I suggest in MSR:


The main difference is that I’m trying to replace all references to emergence of one level of consciousness from many agents on another level to a model of a kind of parallel divergence into different levels of unity and “unit-y” (disunity). This is not to say that I don’t believe our bodies evolved from biology, or that biology didn’t evolve from chemistry in a sense, but that since I think that the universe is primarily driven by the teleological saturation/signficance-seeking nature of consciousness into richer and richer subjectivity (sensation > perception > consciousness ‘phorologies‘*), the evolution of tangible objects and structures (physical > chemical > biological morphologies) is only an unintended/teleonomical consequence of the separation of otherwise united experience-lines. The ants are causing the ant hill, but the ant hill may or may not be a symptom of ant hill-scale subjectivity. The ant is building the ant hill, but if the ant hill has a conscious experience associated with it, I would expect it to be as much biosphere consciousness from the top down as it is ant consciousness from the bottom up. Yes, at the bottom and the top of the stack (quantum and cosmological scales) there is a dissolving or transcending of the subject-object dualism, but again that appearance and disappearance of dualism is itself perspective-dependent. If I change my perspective, my frequency-scale of permeability-impermeability to the Totality of consciousness, then what I can see as duality and non-duality changes. In a psychologically contracted/focused state, I see diametrically opposed subject-object (phoric-morphic) duality. In a deep trance, psychedelic state, etc, “I” don’t exist except as a metaphor for a particular expression/diffraction of human archetype. Under general anesthetic “I” don’t exist except as a particular sequence of genetic semaphores repeating within a community of cells.


My suspicion is that the boundaries of any conscious experience will be rendered as being driven by quasi-random (bottom facing coincidence) or quasi-fateful (top facing synchronicities). The random/fated appearance is just our own scope’s bias, its ‘red shift’ toward the bottom of its stack or its blue-violet shift toward the top of the stack. In terms of causality, within any given experience, it is the bottom end of the stack that can be controlled by tangible means, technology and instruments which extend the exterior, body-world facing senses of touch-move while the top end of the stack controls us by intangible means…serendipities and synchronicities which open our intuitive sense modalities to be ‘touched’ and ‘moved’ by the transcendent ‘spirit’ world. There is a meta thing I’m doing there also in contrasting the literal and metaphorical sense of touch and move (see diagram above…metaphorical = high end of the stack, ‘semaphorical’ = low end of the stack).


*phorologies = neologism for aesthetic elaborations of direct feeling and sensation, as diametrically opposed to ‘morphologies’, which would be morphological-topological renderings of indirect feeling/sensation.

Top = Transpersonal = Metaphoric
Center = Personal = Phoric
Bottom = Subpersonal = Semaphoric

Top = Cosmological scale spacetime = Metamorphic
Center = Meso-scale objects & subjects = Morphic-Phoric
Bottom = Quantum-scale particle-wave = Semaphoric

Commentary on The Ouroboros Code

October 17, 2019 4 comments

The Ouroboros Code

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


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

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

Michael Shermer with Dr. Donald Hoffman — The Case Against Reality (SCIENCE SALON # 78)

September 8, 2019 Leave a comment

Let me begin by saying that in my view Donald Hoffman’s model is the best that there is in the field at this time. I agree with Hoffman’s view that our sense of realism is an evolved Homo sapien UI, and I suggest that part of the evolutionary sculpting of this UI (and probably for all species of animal consciousness), tangibility as a sense modality is over-emphasized and taken ultra-literally.  I propose this because I reason that there would be a strong evolutionary advantage to being ultra-serious about tangible renderings of public-facing events for an animal that has self-locomotion to be able to navigate its movements. Once we correct for that over-literal weighting, tangibility can be understood as just another modality of sense experience, not necessarily as the primary modality of the universe. In other words, our experience has a body experience but there may be many experiences that do not. This opens the door to disembodied contexts of consciousness and perhaps even conscious experiences which do not include a robust sense of agent-hood.

Around 1:20:00 he talks about the human UI as a portal to another’s consciousness, i.e., even though a smile doesn’t resemble happiness, when we see another person smile, we can infer an experience of happiness because we also have one. He goes on to say how it makes sense that our portal/interface is optimized for other humans and it gives up more and more as you get further from human to human interaction (human-cat is worse, human-ant is even worse, by the time we get to protons and electrons, our interface has completely given up.) Michael Shermer mentions an associated concept of ‘Middling’ from Richard Dawkins. I have proposed a more elaborate hypothesis of this same idea and call it eigenmorphism.

There are a few assumptions in Hoffman’s thinking that I question:

  1. The UI is ‘created on the fly’ rather than accessed on the fly.I am not convinced that our UI experience is spontaneously confabulated, so much as it is bent and refracted in different ways. Where Hoffman assumes objective reality, I propose a reality which is objective of any particular UI scope, but not objective of the Grand Interface, within which even ‘Users’ or agents are icons of a deeper, trans-agent reality. Our dream is not reality, but that doesn’t mean that reality is anything other than the absolute total of all dreaming.
  2. That anything can ‘exist’ without a receptive capability.In my understanding, one of the deepest flaws of the Western scientific worldview stems from the disqualification and disparagement of ‘feminine’ capacities for sensitivity and receptivity. Under the ‘masculine’-dominant paradigm of our scientific legacy, ‘existence’ is reduced to an ontological state of ‘being’ rather than one of ‘feeling’. I think this is a grave mistake, and that all forms of being are necessarily some experiential context in which foregrounded and backgrounded qualities form dynamic partnerships. This mutual arising of definitions is what I think is glimpsed in both Relativity and Quantum theory. The only “is” is experience itself, all other experiences are relativistic instances of “which is”.
  3. That evolution of the UI justifies evolutionary creation of a UI in the first place.I agree that evolutionary mechanisms shape aspects of the UI, however, that does not explain why the UI is felt, seen, heard, tasted, etc. We still have to have a universe made of true, direct aesthetic phenomena before those phenomena can diverge and be compared as more or less ‘real’ than each other.

I propose then that we take Hoffman’s proposal as true (excepting my three proposed corrections above) for the purpose of taking it even further. In a sense, I am proposing that even though the User Interface model is the best I’ve seen, it is still missing half of the big picture. To get that other half, let us begin by assuming that his view of the UI as selecting against genuine truths about reality, but then consider that these divergences from exterior reality also converge to a set of genuine truths about the other side of reality. In the center of this ‘other side’ of reality is a perpendicular truth attractor (call it Sense or pansensitivity) which is not evolved but accumulated outside of spacetime as a common, transpersonal, nonlocal pool of all experiences.

I suggest that we may understand some of the nature of this attractor to some extent by simply applying our imagination to inverting the qualities of our public-facing experience such that are diametrically opposite. If the unexperienced reality beyond our public facing human UI is generic, mechanical, game-theoretic, and spaced-timed, a-signifying, interchangeable, recursive, teleonomic-stochastic, then the unexperienced reality beyond our private facing UI is proprietary, animistic, spontaneously vital, creative and rule-averse,  authentic…intimate, aesthetically saturated, proprietary, teleological, super-signifying, radically unique, etc.

Our UI doesn’t tell us the truth of the universe, but its very fabric may be a tool kit that leads back to truth of the universe in a round-about way.  I propose that universe itself may be a self-nesting, self-bootstrapping aesthetic-participatory phenomenon which not only builds labyrinths of anesthetic-automatic appearances to trap itself in temporarily but also gives itself the keys to find its way back out. The universe is a significance building dream factory that inflates and reduces parts of itself in increasingly complex ways – sort of an inhaling of negentropic limitations and exhaling of evanescing entropies.

Let’s talk about what I think the real fabric of nature is; nested sensory-motive presentation.

To begin with, a simple proposal: As mass is to energy, space is to time, and sense is to motive.

The Mass/Space/Motive end is projective. Consciousness ‘inhaling’ extends ‘out’ into quantized graphed ‘particle’ appearances (Nod to Descartes Res Extensa). The opposite, Energy/Time/Sense end is receptive (Consciousness exhales and returns into newly re-qualified, de-graphed ‘holos’ or gestalt appearances).

I would suggest letting all of that sink in before bothering to go further into my elaborations and speculations. For those who do want to go down the full Multisense Realism rabbit hole, my conjecture is that this sensory exhale, motive inhale dynamic is repeated across many parallel levels and cycles of cycles. Our human experience is obscenely well developed on both the inhale and exhale ends, such that we have a signifying interiority of multiplexed sensory nestings (sensations<perceptions<figurations<emotion<awareness>self awareness>thought>intuition>”consciousness”) that interfaces with an a-signifying exteriority of motive scales (physical ( chemical (organic (biological (zoological (anthropological) ) ) ) ) ).

Here then is my arcane formula for the totality of consciousness and nature:

ॐ ⊇ ש {((-ℵ↔Ω)↓ºt)⊥(ωª↑(H←d))}

The explanation on that link is probably hard to follow, so I’ll take a shot at a more concise explanation:

There is an Absolute foundation to all of nature, which I call Pansensitivity or the Aesthetic Holos . It is the superset of its diffracted or graphed parts ש. These parts are unified along two perpendicular axes. {(( the horizontal continuum extends between two extremes of consciousness.  The first extreme is rendered in our UI as the absolute transpersonal significance of selfhood in a theological/spiritual/artistic sense. I use the symbol -ℵ as a way to suggest a boundaryless infinity of superlative aesthetic qualities and capacities, i.e. Godlike omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. There is a subtle reference here to the Aleph numbers and infinite cardinality, such that by using ‘negative Aleph’ I am suggesting an infinite creativity which transcends unity and multiplicity…a super-everythingness from which all thingness arises. This -ℵ point of maximally expanded Self consciousness also includes dimetric opposite but equally florid qualities of identification with abject terror or super-personalization of omni-malignant Chthonic deities. -ℵ is a Heaven & Hell super-saturation of aesthetic qualities where relief and suffering extend beyond all limits of imagination.

The opposite end of the -ℵ  continuum is rendered in our UI as the absolute impersonal insignificance of selfhood in the atheistic/objectifying/scientistic sense. I use the symbol Ω for various reasons, but suffice it to say this Omega point is the sense of profound insignificance of the self. This is Carl Sagan’s ‘billions and billions’ sense of the vastness of the public-facing, spaced-timed universe, with its fantastic formulas that reveal quantifiable simplicities within all appearances of complexity.

This (-ℵ↔Ω) ‘horizontal’ continuum is further conjectured to be organized in hierarchical scales of time such that the longer periods of time that are available, the richer and broader the extension of the spectrum becomes. This saturation of awareness and intelligence is characterized in the term (↓ºt). For example, the longer human history lasts, the more geniuses contribute to a greater and greater pool of art and science, which then potentially becomes more and more integrated and distributed to all members of the community or network. Each person can become more and more like all of the great geniuses of history who have come before them and have an increasingly profound worldview because of it.

Perpendicular ⊥ to this Easternizing/Subjectifying-Westernizing/Objectifying spectrum (-ℵ↔Ω) of enrichment of significance (↓ºt) is the contra spectrum of contraction and entropy that is denoted as (ωª↑(H←d)). If the former spectrum describes an inhaling of more and more inner and outer significance from the top down (), this second spectrum describes an exhaling into an increasing pool of bottom-up entropy and negentropy. Instead of an intentional striving for more and more aesthetically saturated and profound experiences, this continuum is about the dissipation of aesthetic significance and sensitivity into automatism. The ω variable denotes the minimum fragment of experience – sort of the ‘spiritless spirit of points in a void’ – a quantum-Brownian static-dynamism of absolute entropy-negentropy. Recursiveness and replication. Randomness and accident. The addition of the feminine ordinal superscript ωª is supposed to connote an opposite sense of hierarchy from the masculine ºt of the primary continuum. In the primary continuum, causality flows downward ↓ from Holos to spacetime (graphos) in a successive watering down from the kind of profound ‘Golden Age’ omniscient surrealism to an ‘Iron Age’, prosaic realism. In this secondary continuum, computable complexity builds from the bottom up . If the –ℵ↔Ω continuum expands significance by breaking gestalt, multivalent, metaphorically layered concepts into mytho-poetic utterances, the ωª↑ continuum builds alphabets and dictionaries out of nearly meaningless semaphores. The language is the servant of the speaker-thinker, but the language can draw out potentials from the speaker-thinker as well.

The final (H←d) element of the formula describes the relation between entropy and distance. This describes what Hoffman was getting at with the breakdown of the UI as it is pushed beyond its intended specs. As a human, the more distant in scale and familiarity from the human world, the less empathy and relation we can have with what is ‘behind the face’ of the icon that our UI presents. The ant’s experience is insignificant relative to our own, so the ant is rendered as a small, generic insect. We don’t much care to know what it is like to be an ant because it is not an evolutionary advantage to do so. I used the rather than the symbol in the secondary continuum to suggest an existential gravity, what our UI presents as the second law of thermodynamics and the promise of cosmological heat death. In the primary continuum, by contrast, the ‘now’ moment accumulates more and more significance into each ‘lifetime’ experience that it is represented in our UI as the idea of the Singularity or eternal, transcendental now in which all of space and time can be accessed simultaneously.

MSR Quick Start

August 21, 2019 Leave a comment


(cannibalized from a Trinity Academy image)

A Multisense Realist Critique of “Human and Machine Consciousness as a Boundary Effect in the Concept Analysis Mechanism”

August 1, 2019 4 comments


Let me begin by saying first that my criticism of the thoughts, ideas, and assumptions behind this hypothesis on the Hard Problem (and of all such hypotheses) does not in any way constitute a challenge to the expertise or intelligence of its authors. I have the utmost respect for anyone who takes the time to thoughtfully formulate an opinion on the matter of consciousness, and I do not in any way place myself on the same intellectual level as those who have spent their career achieving a level of skill and knowledge of mathematics and technology that is well beyond my grasp.

I do have a lifelong interest in the subject of consciousness, and most of a lifetime of experience with computer technology, however, that experience is much more limited in scope and depth than that of full-time, professional developers and engineers. Having said that, without inviting accusations of succumbing to the Dunning-Kruger effect, I dare to wonder if abundant expertise in computer science may impair our perception in this area as well, and I would desperately like to see studies performed to evaluate the cognitive bias of those scientists and philosophers who see the Hard Problem of Consciousness as a pseudo-issue that can be easily dismissed by reframing the question.

Let me begin now in good faith to mount an exhaustive and relentless attack on the assumptions and conclusions presented in the following:  “Chapter 15: Human and Machine Consciousness as a Boundary Effect in the Concept Analysis Mechanism” by Richard Loosemore (PDF link), from the book Theoretical Foundations of Artificial General Intelligence, Editors: Wang, Pei, Goertzel, Ben (Eds.)  I hope that this attack is not so annoying, exhausting, or offensive that it prevents readers from engaging with it and from considering the negation/inversion of the fundamental premises that it relies upon.

From the very top of the first page…

“To solve the hard problem of consciousness we observe that any cognitive system of sufficient power must get into difficulty when it tries to analyze consciousness concepts, because the mechanism that does the analysis will “bottom out” in such a way as to make the system declare these concepts to be both real and ineffable.”


1: The phenomenon of consciousness (as distinct from the concept of consciousness) is the only possible container for qualities such as “real” or “ineffable”. It is a mistake to expect the phenomenon itself to be subject to the categories and qualities which are produced only within consciousness.

2: Neither my analysis of the concept or phenomenon of consciousness ‘bottoms out’ in the way described. I would say that consciousness is both real, more than real, less than real, effable, semi-effable, and trans-effable, but not necessarily ineffable. Consciousness is the aesthetic-participatory nesting of sensory-motive phenomena from which all other phenomena are dreived and maintained, including anesthetic, non-participatory, non-sensory, and non-motivated appearances such as those of simple matter and machines.

“This implies that science must concede that there are some aspects of the world that deserve to be called “real”, but which are beyond explanation.”

Here my understanding is that attempting to explain (ex-plain) certain aspects of consciousness is redundant since they are already ‘plain’. Blue is presented directly as blue. It is a visible phenomenon which is plain to all those who can see it and unexplainable to all those who cannot. There is nothing to explain about the phenomenon itself, as any such effort would only make the assumption that blue can be decomposed into other phenomena which are not blue. There is an implicit bias or double standard in such assumptions that any of the other phenomena which we might try to use to account for the existence of blue would also require explanations to decompose them further as well. How do we know that we are even reading words that mean what they mean to another person? As long as a sense of coherence is present, even the most surreal dream experiences can be validated within the dream as perfectly rational and real.

Even the qualifier “real” is also meaningless outside of consciousness. There can be no physical or logical phenomenon which is unreal or can ‘seem’ other than it is without consciousness to provide the seeming. The entire expectation of seeming is an artifact of some limitation on a scope of perception, not of physical or logical fact.

“Finally, behind all of these questions there is the problem of whether we can explain any of the features of consciousness in an objective way, without stepping outside the domain of consensus-based scientific enquiry and becoming lost in a wilderness of subjective opinion.”

This seems to impose a doomed constraint on to any explanations in advance, since the distinction between subjective and objective can only exist within consciousness, consciousness cannot presume to transcend itself by limiting its scope to only those qualities which consciousness itself deems ‘objective’. There is no objective arbiter of objectivity, and presuming such a standard is equivalent to or available through our scientific legacy of consensus is especially biased in consideration of the intentional reliance on instruments and methods in that scientific tradition which are designed to exclude all association with subjectivity.* To ask that an explanation of consciousness be limited to consensus science is akin to asking “Can we explain life without referring to anything beyond the fossil record?” In my understanding, science itself must expand radically to approach the phenomenon of consciousness, rather than consciousness having to be reduced to fit into our cumulative expectations about nature.

“One of the most troublesome aspects of the literature on the problem of consciousness is the widespread confusion about what exactly the word “consciousness” denotes.”

I see this as a sophist objection (ironically, I would also say that this all-too-common observation is one of the most troublesome aspects of materialistic arguments against the hard problem). Personally, I have no confusion whatsoever about what the common sense term ‘consciousness’ refers to, and neither does anyone else when it comes to the actual prospect of losing consciousness. When someone is said to have lost consciousness forever, what is lost? The totality of experience. Everything would be lost for the person whose consciousness is truly and completely lost forever. All that remains of that person would be the bodily appearances and memories in the conscious experiences of others (doctors, family members, cats, dust mites, etc). If all conscious experience were to terminate forever, what remained would be impossible to distingish from nothing at all. Indeed there would be no remaining capacity to ‘distinguish’ either.

I will skip over the four bullet points from Chalmers work in 15.1.1 (The ability to introspect or report mental states…etc), as I see them as distractions arising from specific use cases of language and the complex specifics of human psychology rather than from the simple/essential nature of consciousness as a phenomenon.

Moving on to what I see as the meat of the discussion – qualia. In this next section, much is made about the problems of communicating with others about specific phenomenal properties. I see this as another distraction and if we interrogate this definition of qualia as that which “we cannot describe to a creature that does not claim to
experience them”, we will find that it is a condition which everything in the universe fits just as well.

We cannot describe numbers, or gravity, or matter to a creature that does not claim to experience them either. Ultimately the only difference between qualia and non-qualia is that non-qualia only exist hypothetically. Things which are presumed to exist independently of subjectivity, such as matter, energy, time, space, and information are themselves concepts derived from intersubjective consensus. Just as the Flatlander experiences a sphere only as a circle of changing size, our entire view of objective facts and their objectiveness is objectively limited to those modalities of sense and sense-making which we have access to. There is no universe which is real that we could not also experience as the content of a (subjective) dream and no way to escape the constraints that a dream imposes even on logic, realism, and sanity themselves. A complete theory of consciousness cannot merely address the narrow kind of sanity that we are familiar with as thinking adults conditioned by the accumulative influence of Western society, but also of non-ordinary experiences, mystical states of consciousness, infancy, acquired savant syndrome, veridical NDEs and reincarnation accounts, and on and on.

a philosophical zombie— would behave as if it did have its own phenomenology (indeed its behavior, ex hypothesi, would be absolutely identical to its normal twin) but it would not experience any of the subjective sensations that we experience when we use our minds

As much as I revere David Chalmers brilliant insights into the Hard Problem which he named, I see the notion of a philosophical zombie as flawed from the start. While we can imagine that two biological organisms are physically identical with and without subjective experience, there is no reason to insist that they must be.

I would pose it differently and ask ‘Can a doll be created that would seem to behave in every respect like a human being, but still be only a doll?” To that question I would respond that there is no logical reason to deny that possibility, however, we cannot deny also the possibility that there are some people who at some time might not be able to feel an ‘uncanny’ sense about such a doll, even if they are not consciously able to notice that sense. The world is filled with examples of people who can pretend and act as if they are experiencing subjective states that they are not. Professional actors and sociopaths, for example, are famously able to simulate deep sentiment and emotion, summoning tears on command, etc. I would ask of the AI dev community, what if we wanted to build an AGI simulator which did not have any qualia? Suppose we wanted to study the effects of torture, could we not hope to engineer a device or program which would allow us to understand some of the effects without having to actually subject a conscious device to excruciating pain? If so, then we cannot presume qualia to emerge automatically from structure or function. We have to have a better understanding of why and how qualia exist in the first place. That is the hard problem of consciousness.

Similarly, if we know that wires from a red color-detection module are active, this tells us the cognitive level fact that the machine is detecting red, but it does not tell us if the machine is experiencing a sensation of redness, in anything like the way that we experience redness.

Here I suggest that in fact the machine is not detecting red at all, but it is detecting some physical condition that corresponds to some of our experiences of seeing red, i.e. the open-eye presence of red which correlates to 680nm wavelength electromagnetic stimulation of retinal cells. Since many people can dream and imagine red in the absence of such ophthalmological stimulation**, we cannot equate that detection with red at all.

Further, I would not even allow myself to assume that what a retinal cell or any physical instrument does in response to illumination automatically constitutes ‘detection’. Making such leaps is, in my understanding, precisely how our thinking about the hard problem of consciousness slips into circular reasoning. To see any physical device as a sensor or sense organ is to presume a phenomenological affect on a micro scale, as well as a mechanical effect described by physical force/field mathematics. If we define forces and fields purely as mechanical facts with no sensory-motive entailment, then it follows logically that no complex arrangement of such force-field mechanisms would necessarily result in any addition or emergence of such an entailment. If shining a light on a molecule changes the shape or electrical state of that molecule, every subsequent chain of physical changes effected by that cause will occur with or without any experience of redness. Any behavior that a human body or any species of body can evolve to perform could just as easily have evolved to be performed without anything but unexperienced physical chain reactions of force and field.

The trouble is that when we try to say what we mean by the hard problem, we inevitably end up by saying that something is missing from other explanations. We do not say “Here is a thing to be explained,” we say “We have the feeling that there is something that is not being addressed, in any psychological or physical account of what happens when humans (or machines) are sentient.”

To me, this is a false assumption that arises from an overly linguistic approach to the issue. I do in fact say “Here is a thing to be explained”. In fact, I could use that very same word “here” as an example of that thing. What is the physical explanation for the referent of the term “here”. What gives a physical event the distinction of being ‘here’ versus ‘there’?

The presence of something like excruciating pain can’t be dismissed on account of a compulsion to assume that ‘Ouch!’ needs to be deconstructed into nociception terminology. I would turn this entire description of ‘The trouble” around to ask the author why they feel that there is something about pain that is not communicated to anyone who experiences it directly, and how anything meaningful about that experience could be addressed by other, non-painful accounts.

On to the dialectic between skeptic and phenomenologist:

“The difficulty we have in supplying an objective definition should not be taken as grounds for dismissing the problem—rather, this lack of objective definition IS the problem!”

I’m not sure why a phenomenologist would say that. To me, the hard problem of consciousness has nothing at all to do with language. We have no problem communicating “Ouch!” any more than we have in communicating ”  “. The only problem is in the expectation that all terms should translate into all languages. There is no problem with reducing a subjective quality of phenomenal experience into a word or gesture – the hard problem is why and how there should be any inflation of non-phenomenal properties to ‘experience’ in the first place. I don’t find it hard to articulate, though many people do seem to have a hard time accepting that it makes sense.

“In effect, there are certain concepts that, when analyzed, throw a monkey wrench into the analysis mechanism”

I would reconstruct that observation this way: “In effect, there are certain concepts that, when analyzed, point to facts beyond the analysis mechanism, and further beyond mechanism and analysis. These are the facts of qualia from which the experiences of analysis and mechanical appearance are derived.”

“All facets of consciousness have one thing in common: they involve some particular
types of introspection, because we “look inside” at our subjective experience of the world”

Not at all. Introspection is clearly dependent on consciousness, but so are all forms of experience. Introspection does not define consciousness, it is only a conscious experience of trying to make intellectual sense of one’s own conscious experience. Looking outside requires as much consciousness as looking inside and unconscious phenomena don’t ‘look’.

From that point in the chapter, there is a description of some perfectly plausible ideas about how to design a mechanism which would appear to us to simulate the behaviors of an intelligent thinker, but I see no connection between such a simulation and the hard problem of consciousness. The premise underestimates consciousness to begin with and then goes on to speculate on how to approximate that disqualified version of qualia production, consistently mistaking qualia for ‘concepts’ that cannot be described.

Pain is not a concept, it is a percept. Every function of the machine described could just as easily be presented as hexadecimal code, words, binary electronic states, etc. A machine could put together words that we recognize as having to do with pain, but that sense need not be available to the machine. In the mechanistic account of consciousness, sensory-motive properties are taken for granted and aesthetic-participatory elaborations of those properties that we would call human consciousness are misattributed to the elaborations of mechanical process. That “blue” cannot be communicated to someone who cannot see it does not define what blue is. Building a machine that cannot explain what is happening beyond its own mechanism doesn’t mean that qualia will automatically appear to stand in for that failure. Representation requires presentation, but presentation does not require representation. Qualia are presentations, including the presentation of representational qualities between presentations.

“Yes, but why would that short circuit in my psychological mechanism cause this particular feeling in my phenomenology?”

Yes, exactly, but that’s still not the hard problem. The hard problem is “Why would a short circuit in any mechanism cause any feeling or phenomenology in the first place? Why would feeling even be a possibility?

“The analysis mechanism inside the mind of the philosopher who raises this objection will then come back with the verdict that the proposed explanation fails to describe the nature of conscious experience, just as other attempts to explain consciousness have failed. The proposed explanation, then, can only be internally consistent with itself if the philosopher finds the explanation wanting. There is something wickedly recursive about this situation.”

Yes, it is wickedly recursive in the same exact way that any blind faith/Emperor’s New Clothes persuasion is wickedly recursive. What is proposed here can be used to claim that any false theory about consciousness which predicts that it will be perceived as false is evidence of its (mystical, unexplained) essential truth. It is the technique of religious dogma in which doubt is defined as evidence of the unworthiness of the doubter to deserve to understand why it isn’t false.

“I am not aware of any objection to the explanation proposed in this chapter that does not rely for its force on that final step, when the philosophical objection deploys the analysis mechanism, and thereby concludes that the proposal does not work because the analysis mechanism in the head of the philosopher returned a null result.”

Let me try to make the reader aware of one such objection then. I do not use an analysis mechanism, I use the opposite – an anti-mechanism of direct participation that seeks to discover greater qualities of sense and coherence for their own aesthetic saturation. That faculty of my consciousness does not return a null result, it has instead returned a rich cosmogony detailing the relationships between a totalistic spectrum of aesthetic-participatory nestings of sensory-motive phenomena, and its dialectic, diffracted altars; matter (concrete anesthetic appearances) and information (abstract anesthetic appearances).

“I am now going to make a case that all of the various subjective phenomena associated with consciousness should be considered just as “real” as any other phenomena in the universe, but that science and philosophy must concede that consciousness has the special status of being unanalyzable.”

I’m glad that qualia are at least given a ‘real’ status! I don’t see that it’s unanalyzable though. I analyze qualia all the time. I think the limitation is that the analysis doesn’t translate into math or geometry…which is exactly what I would expect because I understand the role of math and geometry to be precisely the qualia which are presented to represent the disqualification of alienated/out of bounds qualia. We don’t experience on a geological timescale, so our access to experiences on that scale is reduced to a primitive vocabulary of approximations. I suggest that when two conscious experiences of vastly disparate timescales engage with each other, there is a mutual rendering of each other as either inanimate or intangible…as matter/object or information/concept.

In the latter parts of this chapter, the focus is on working with the established hypothesis of qualia as bottomed-out mechanical analysis. The irony of this is that I can see clearly that it is math and physics, mechanism and analysis which are the qualia of bottomed out direct perception. The computationalist and physicalist both have got the big picture turned inside out, where the limitations of language and formalism are hallucinated into sources of infinite aesthetic creativity. Sight is imagined to emerge naturally from imperfect blindness. It’s an inversion of map and territory on the grandest possible scale.

“When we say that a concept is more real the more concrete and tangible it is, what we actually mean is that it gets more real the closer it gets to the most basic of all concepts. In a sense there is a hierarchy of realness among our concepts, with those concepts that are phenomenologically rich being the most immediate and real, and with a decrease in that richness and immediacy as we go toward more abstract concepts.”

To the contrary, when we say that a concept is more real the more concrete and tangible it is, what we actually mean is that it gets more real the further it gets from the most abstract of all qualia: concepts. No concepts are as phenomenologically rich, immediate, and real as literally everything that is not a concept.

“This seems to me a unique and unusual compromise between materialist and dualist conceptions of mind. Minds are a consequence of a certain kind of computation; but they also contain some mysteries that can never be explained in a conventional way.”

Here too, I see that the opposite clearly makes more sense. Computation is a consequence of certain kinds of reductive approximations within a specific band of consciousness. To compute or calculate is actually the special and (to us) mysterious back door to the universal dream which enables dreamers to control and objectify aspects of their shared experience.

I do love all of the experiments proposed toward the end, although it seems to me that all of the positive results could be simulated by a device that is designed to simulate the same behaviors without any qualia. Of all of the experiments, I think that the mind-meld is most promising as it could possibly expose our own consciousness to phenomena beyond our models and expectations. We may be able for example, to connect our brain to the brain of a fish and really be able to tell that we are feeling what the fish is feeling. Because my view of consciousness is that it is absolutely foundational, all conscious experience overlaps at that fundamental level in an ontological way rather than merely as a locally constructed model. In other words, while some aspects of empathy may consist only of modeling the emotions of another person (as a sociopath might do), I think that there is a possibility for genuine empathy to include a factual sharing of experience, even beyond assumed boundaries of space, time, matter, and energy.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I would not bother writing it if I didn’t think that it was important. The hard problem of consciousness may seem to some as an irrelevant, navel-gazing debate, but if I am on the right track in my hypothesis, it is critically important that we get this right before attempting to modify ourselves and our civilization based on a false assumption of qualia as information.

Respectfully and irreverently yours,

Craig Weinberg

*This point is addressed later on in the chapter: “it seems almost incoherent to propose a scientific (i.e. non-subjective) explanation for consciousness (which exists only in virtue of its pure subjectivity).”

**Not to mention the reports from people blind from birth of seeing colors during Near Death Experiences.



Multisense Realism Sight-Light Hypothesis

July 20, 2019 Leave a comment

• Transparency as the true center of the absolute visible spectrum, which is the spectrum of visibility itself.

• Colorless extremes (dark and light) as undersights and oversights. White and Black are the masking colors for sights outside of any given scope of vision.

• Color as sights.



Holosense Model

February 6, 2019 Leave a comment


3holosensemodel.jpgVersion 2 better or worse?

Can Qualia Be Simulated?

January 19, 2019 4 comments

My response to this Quora question:

The Integrated Information Theory claims, that a computer simulation of a brain would produce the same behaviour, but wouldn’t have any qualia. If qualia don’t make any difference, does it mean, they don’t exist? Is it a contradiction?

There are several considerations upon which the answer to this question hinges:

  • The nature of simulation and behavior.
    1. The term simulation is an informal one. I don’t place a high value on discussing the definition of words, but I think that it is essential that if we are talking about something that exists in the world, we have to understand what that thing is supposed to be. I would say that the contemporary sense of ‘simulation’ goes back to early applications of computer software, specifically Flight Simulator programs. We have since become accustomed to using video ‘simulations’ of everything from fighting on a battlefield to performing surgery. Does it make sense to ask whether a flight simulator is producing the same behavior as an airplane? If it did, would we say that the program had produced a flight from Rome to New York? If the flight simulator crashed, would we have to have a funeral for the simulated passengers? I would say no. Common sense would tell us that the simulation is just software…the airplane isn’t real. This takes us to the next consideration, what is real?
    2. The term real is an informal one as well. We talk about ‘reality’ but that can refer to some abstract truth that we seem to agree on or to a concrete world that we seem to share. To understand why there may be an important difference between a simulation and the ‘real thing’ that is being simulated, we should approach it in a more rigorous way. Flying a real airplane involves tons of physical matter, as well as countless causal links to the world/universe. The real airplane is the result of billions of years of accumulated change in the physical universe, as well as the evolution of numerous species and societies to engineer flight. There is a common comparison of the flight of an airplane to the flight of a bird or insect, where we are meant to think of both types of physical acts as ‘flying’, even though that flight is accomplished in quite different ways. I think that this comparison, however, is misleading. I would look to the famous quote by Alfred Korzybski, “The map is not the territory” instead when relating to simulating consciousness. Whether it is a literal geographical map or some other piece of graphic ‘art’ that ‘maps’ to a potentially real (in the concrete, worldly sense) place, the idea is that just because something appears visually similar to us does not mean that there is any other deep connection between the two. I’m not a photograph of my face. I’m not even a video of myself talking. This understanding is also expressed in the famous Magritte painting “The Treachery of Images”.
  • The nature of qualia.
    • Properly understood, what the term ‘qualia’ refers to exists by definition. It can get a little mystical if we rely on descriptions of qualia such as “what X is like” or “what it is like to feel X”, so I think it adds clarity if we look at it this way: Qualia is what is experienced. Information is a concept. Matter is a concept. Concepts are experienced also, but what the concept of matter refers to should/must be divided into the idea of matter as defined by the Standard Model (which has to do with exotic elementary “particles/waves” such as bosons and fermions which make up slightly less exotic atoms). Physical matter is made of atoms on the periodic table.
    • What we experience directly is not physical matter. What we experience are aesthetic presentations with tactile/tangible qualities such as shape, position, weight, texture, etc. We can dream of worlds filled with tangible objects, and we can interact with them as if they were physical matter, but these dream objects are not composed of the elements on the periodic table. The question of whether these objects are real depends on whether we are able to wake up from the dream. If we do not ever awaken from a dream, I don’t see any way of evaluating the realism of the contents of the dream. To the contrary, when we do awaken from a dream, we are often puzzled by our acceptance of dream conditions which seem clearly absurd and impossible.
    • That fact is very important in my view, as it tells us that either it is impossible to ever know whether anything we are experiencing is real, or it tells us that if we can know reality when we truly experience it, then experience must be anchored to reality in way that is deeper than the contents of what is experienced. In other words, if I can’t tell that I’m dreaming when the pink elephant offers me a cigarette, and if I can have dreams which include false awakenings, then I can’t logically ever know that I’m not dreaming. If, however, actual awakening is unmistakable as it seems, then there must be some capacity of our consciousness to know reality that extends beyond any sort of empirical symptom or logical deduction.
    • Qualia then, refers to the inarguably real experience of the color red, regardless of whether that experience is associated with the excitation of physical matter producing visible-wavelength electromagnetism in our physical eyeballs, or whether that experience is purely in our imagination. If we want to say that even imagination is surely the product of physical activity in the brain, we can make that assumption of physicalism, but now we have two completely different sources of ‘red’. They are so mechanically different, and the conversion of either one of the sources into ‘experienced red’ is so poorly understood, that all that physicalism can offer is that somehow there must be some mathematical similarity between the visible EM in the eyeball and the invisible neurochemistry scattered in many different regions of the brain which will eventually account for their apparent unity. We do not seem to be able to define a difference between red that is seen in a dream and red that is seen through our eyes, and we also are not able to define how either a brain or photon produces that quale of experienced red. The hard problem of consciousness is to imagine a reason why any such thing as experienced red exists at all, when all physical evidence points only to biochemical changes which are not red.
  • The nature of information, physical matter, and qualia.
    • Now that we have separated qualia (aesthetic-participatory presentations) from matter (scientific concept of concrete structures in public space), we can move on to understanding information. This is a very controversial subject, made more controversial by the fact that many people do not think it is controversial. There is a popular view that information is physically real, and will cite factual relationships with concepts of physical theory such as entropy. To make it more confusing, there is a separate concept of information entropy, based on the work of engineers like Claude Shannon who studied communication. Depending on how you look at it, information entropy and thermodynamic entropy can be equivalent or opposite.
    • In any case, the concept of entropy seems to blur together the behavior of physical structures and the perception of groups of structures and appearances into ‘systems’. This whole area is like intellectual quicksand, and getting ourselves out of it requires a very disciplined effort to separate different levels of sensation, perception, ‘figuration’ or identification, attention, and understanding. Because of my experience of having learned to read English as a child, I no longer have access to the raw sensation or perception level of English writing. I can’t look at these shapes on my screen and not see Latin characters and English words. Even upside down, I am still ‘informed’ by the training of my perception to read English. This would not be the case for someone who had never read English, however most adults on Earth would be able to identify the look of them as words in the English language, even though they can’t read or pronounce them. Anyone who does read English could at least try to phonetically sound out other European languages, but they may not be able to even attempt that for other languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet.
    • All of this to say that there may be no such thing as information ‘out there’. The degree to which we are ‘informed’ is limited by our capacities for both sensing and making sense. There may be no such thing as a ‘pattern’ which is separate from a conscious experience in which an aesthetic presentation is recognized as a pattern. This was a heavy revelation for me, and one which transformed my view of nature from an essentially computationalist/physicalist framework based on pattern to one based on an aesthetic-participatory framework in which nature is made of a kind of universal ‘qualia’.
    • If my view is on the right track, information does not produce qualia at all, rather information is one minimalist presentation of qualia which is perceived as having a quality of potentially ‘re-presenting’ another conscious experience. This too is a major revelation, since if true, it means that machines like computers don’t actually compute. They don’t actually input, output, or store numbers, they just serve as a physical mechanism which we use to modify our own conscious experience in a very precisely controlled way. If we unplug our monitors, nothing changes as far as the computer is concerned. If we are playing a game, the computer will continue to execute the program in total darkness. We could even plug in some kind of audio device instead of a video screen and now hear a cacophony of noises that doesn’t resemble a game at all. The information is the same from the computer’s point of view, but the change in the aesthetic presentation has made that information inaccessible to us. My hypothesis then is that perceptual access precedes information. If information is a “difference that makes a difference” then perception is the “afferent” phenomena which have to be available for an “efferent” act of comparison and recognition as “different”.
  • The assumption of emergent properties.
    • The idea that the integration of information produces qualia such as sights, sounds, and feelings depends on the idea of emergence. This idea is, in turn, is based our correlation between our conscious experience and the behavior of a brain. We have to be convinced that our conscious experience is generated by the physical matter of the brain. This alone provides us with the need to resort to a strong emergence theory of consciousness simply being a thing that brains do, or that biology does, or that complex, information integrating physical structures of any sort do (as in IIT).
    • Balanced against that is the increasing number of anomalies that suggest that the brain, while clearly having a role in how human and animal consciousness is made available, may not be a generator of consciousness. It may be the case that our particular sort of consciousness has conditioned us to prioritize the tangible, visible aspects of our experience as being the most real, but there is no logical, objective reason to assume that is true. It may be that physics and information ‘emerge’ from the way a complex conscious experience interacts with other concurrent experiences on vastly different scales. Trying to build a simulation of a brain and expecting a personal conscious experience to emerge from it may be as misguided as building a special boat to try to sail down an impossible canal in an Escher drawing.


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