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A Proposal Against Light as Energy

September 18, 2020 Leave a comment

We don’t need to think of energy or mass as identical to light. I propose that there is no ‘light’ as a noun but ‘illumination’ as an event with properties that are likely actually primarily visible but also cross over into the tactile-tangible.

When we use a tangible apparatus as an instrument, we are not necessarily measuring the most important or defining aspect of illumination, but rather we are overlooking it completely. By limiting our inquiry to how physical objects behave when illuminated, we make a misguided assumption based on another presumption of the supremacy of tangibility. When we use something like a photomultiplier, we get a tangible effect that is really only a small part of the story, and not the important part.

“Energy” and “mass” are entirely reducible to a geometry of motion of tangible objects. Energy and mass are abstract theoretical entities of measurement that we use to explain why objects move and change their motion/shape/state in the way that they do. These geometric-tangible properties are posited from a hypothetical experience of sightless space and time, again, overlooking completely what illumination is to us and likely to all other organisms with eyes… which is a completely intangible aesthetic of color and image.

Notice that sound is not completely intangible. We can feel body parts vibrating from sound. Light has some tactile qualities – the light can ‘hurt your eyes’, but you can’t feel waves or particles colliding with anything. This might be just because the scale of light is so much smaller, but remember, studies have shown that people can detect single photons.

All this to say that I propose the possibility that there never were any literal light waves or particles – no massless photons literally traveling through empty vacuum, only a misguided inference based on prioritizing the sense of touch rather than the experience of sight. I think that sight should be explored as a direct receptivity of conscious experience across distance rather than some abstract confabulation of brain tissue in the dark. What is particulate or waving about physical ‘light’ is the behavior of tangible instruments when illuminated (electromagnetically stimulated), not illumination itself.


The Haptic Universe

September 5, 2020 Leave a comment

If I’m on the right track in thinking of existence as an irreducibly sensing phenomenon, then the idea of particles can be replaced with the idea of coordinated sense happenings, or haptics. Haptics, not atoms or quarks or data, form the skeleton of realism, uniting the sense of touch and tangibility with the sense of causality, proprioception and any other aesthetic sense modalities that are available. 

Loris Cecchini | Wallwave vibration (yours symmetric relation), 2012

Whether we are dreaming or awake, the properties of realism are conserved. Rupert Sheldrake’s idea of Morphic Resonance can be modified as Haptic Resonance. Possibly electromagnetism can be reinterpreted as electrohaptic and magnetohaptic properties – which are properties of haptics rather than of disembodied force-field perturbations of vacuum spacetime. The universe is not an empty container within which matter and energy happen, the universe is an eternal multisense happening with material and energetic sense qualities.

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.

safety-match
(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.)

33yamugs

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.

Relativistic, Classical, Quantum

August 24, 2019 Leave a comment

On the largest scales, space and time define each other relativistically.

On the middle scale, space and time are perpendicular.

On the smallest scales, space and time do not exist together and can only be measured as one or the other.

That space and time are radically different on different scales is more important and more revealing than anything we can derive by making any one of the three the ‘real’ space/time.

Each of the three levels tell us about all of the levels. All experiences are probabilistic-automatic, dualistic-participatory, and synchronistic-teleological, depending on how we invest our attention, and how attention is invested in us.

MSR Quick Start

August 21, 2019 Leave a comment

msrHOLOGRAPHIC

(cannibalized from a Trinity Academy image)

Light and Sight 08-20-2019

August 20, 2019 Leave a comment

EM – “I had the thought this morning that light doesn’t travel.”

I agree.

EM – “Light is the medium that waves of different frequencies travel through.”

Yes, but I would combine light and sight into the same sensory-motive phenomenon (tangible visibility). Light to sight is the received affect (intangible visibility) and sight to light is the projected effect (tangible visibility).

Light is visibility made tangible, quantized, temporalized and spatialized. Sight is what is seen as color or brightness (even in a dream or our visual imagination). Sight can exist without light but light cannot exist without an experienced quality of photosensitivity.

The affect (sight) is the medium. The effect (light) is the change in the intensity of the medium, which is more like a window to the totality of seeing rather than a single property. Sight is access. What is waving is, IMO, permeability and permittivity of the tangible-ized visibility.

Holosense Model

February 6, 2019 Leave a comment

2holosensemodel

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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