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Primacy of Sense: Absorption and Emission

July 19, 2016 4 comments

Another clue revealing the primacy of sense in the universe:

Absorption/emission lines

image

The point that I want to make here is that when examining physical phenomena at the largest and smallest sales, the spectrum is reveals itself as a fundamental context. Matter defines itself as specific obstructions or gaps within the complete continuum, or as a specific slices or fragments which can rejoin with other emissions to complete the spectrum.

Our current understanding of radiation, light, energy, and fields assumes a foreground of an emission against a void. Photons are presumed to to exist as object-like presences which are distinct from a background which is a vacuum that is somehow full of ‘energy’. The physicalist view is a bit contradictory, seeing one layer of quantum foam or zero point energy as an ultimate ground to the universe which is ‘always on’ and then an classical level of description of space as a vacuum that is always ‘off’ except when interrupted by forces.

I think that it makes more sense to throw out both the idea of the vacuum full of energy and the objects in empty space and see that entire model of the universe as half of the larger picture…a half which is ultimately an inversion or antithesis of the true trans-physical foundation.

If the conception of the universe as a spacetime void which contains various kinds of mass-energy ‘stuffs’ is turned inside out, what we get is a universe where light is ultimately neither emitted nor absorbed, but instead is a pervasive condition of sensitivity which is blinded or obstructed spatially and temporarily. We use the terms permittivity and permeability to measure the effect that matter has on electric and magnetic fields respectively.

If we turn the electromagnetic model right side up, we lose the idea of electric and magnetic fields entirely and see permittivity and permeability as the localizing constraints on the underlying unity of sense experience. EM fields would not permeate matter or be permitted to propagate across it, but rather matter is actually nothing but the im-permeablity and un-permittivity of the underlying sense condition. When the underlying sense multiplies and divides itself, it makes sense to expect that the result might be persistent material structures in 3d+1 space/time (not relativistic space-time, but classical space ⊥ time).

What is being emitted and absorbed then, in my view, is not light, but the obstruction of light. Matter is a kind of one-sided blindness, like a one way mirror which which inverts the totality of experiences in a fisheye lens way. This converts the non-dual context of Absolute sense to bubbles of dualistic contexts: subject/objects, proto-subjects/proto-object (sensory impulse), and trans-subject, trans-subject/object (synchronicity-archetype)

The whole picture would look something like this:

Sense (timed experience or subjective qualia (placed experience or objectively quantized qualia) signified or re-capitulated sense) Sense.

So Sense (Time/Subject (Object) Distance (Object) Significance)

From the “Distance” view, the universe is a classical place filled with objects, but this is only an appearance which is projected from within subjectivity as it makes sense of its relation to other scales and frames of experience. The external world is actually external-to-the-world, as it is a mirror reflection cast by two or more surfaces of sense impermeability, like this:

Interior>Exterior)(Exterior<Interior

It is the )( relation which gives realism to objects. There are no objects ‘out there’, just different levels of ‘out there’ which are ‘in here as objects’.

*which can also be expressed as a metric tensor…a tension superimposed within sense which allows regulating contexts such as space, time, and causality to persist.

What’s the Biological Use of Consciousness?

June 25, 2016 4 comments

My answer to a Quora question.

This question sounds reasonable only when we have first assumed that consciousness evolved from biology. I would argue that while it certainly seems that consciousness has become richer and more complex through biological forms and functions, there can be no biological use for consciousness itself.

Consider the practical function of the human body. What does it need to do that other bodies don’t? Everything from a mosquito to a mountain lion has similar biological imperatives and evolutionary pressures to contend with. For that matter, every one celled organism or even DNA molecule functions in the same way – it survives and reproduces. Whether these structures feel like they are trying to survive and reproduce is irrelevant. I’ll say that again, because it is that important:

It cannot matter biologically whether a given structure feels, thinks, senses, or has any experience at all, and to assume it does would be a logical fallacy:

petitio principii, which actually translates as ‘assuming the initial point’”.

The initial point here is the existence of consciousness itself. When we assume that it exists, we are compelled to fill in our explanation with a “Just-so story”; an ad hoc, unfalsifiable hypothesis which will give rationalize a connection between our initial assumptions of biology without consciousness and consciousness arising out of utility to biology.

We might speculate that consciousness was bestowed upon Homo sapiens (gradually of course) as a cause or effect of the success of the species in adapting to more ecological niches than others. We might say that there was a feedback loop between consciousness, self-awareness, intelligence and the accumulation of knowledge and technology to better ensure survival in almost any climate and against almost any predator. This is a good story, and it makes sense if we make the mistake of equating intelligence with consciousness. It is easy to make that mistake, since we are conscious and find it difficult to separate our experience of knowing and surviving from the actual behaviors which our body is performing to accomplish that.

This logical error was articulated very nicely by Dr. Raymond Tallis, in his book Aping Mankind. He talks about the difference between the ‘retrospective’ view of consciousness, which I was just describing, where we assume that consciousness exists and then try to justify its origin in pre-conscious phenomena and the correct ‘prospective’ view of consciousness which requires us to adhere to our hypothesis of pre-consciousness from the start. Without the appearances that we are accustomed from our own consciousness, we find the universe which physics and biology give to us is devoid of any appearance at all. Blind mechanisms are literally that – chain reactions of cause and effect which occur by physical law and statistical probability: Nothing more.

From here, we are compelled to negate our previous story which links intelligence with consciousness and see that the whole notion of ‘intelligence’ is a conceit of consciousness, and that any intelligence which hypothetically developed in the absence of consciousness would be just another sophisticated-looking chain reaction of nature. The appearance of sophistication is, again, purely subjective and dependent upon some conscious framing of the appearance. To us, a large organic molecule seems impressive, but since physics can have no preferred frame of reference, there is no appearance of a molecule, only one generic atom and then another one, and another. Each one unaware of anything, and nothing aware of an overall ‘grouping’ of atoms.

As long as we begin from any structure which functions in the total absence of sensory experience, there can be no logical justification for the possibility of sensory experience as a physical function. If a human zygote can already build a living brain, not to mention an immune system, digestive system, circulatory system, etc, all without any conscious experience at all, then what sense does it make to expect that ordinary tasks of animal survival and reproduction should benefit functionally from the addition of some kind of unexplainable metaphysical hallucination?

This is not an argument for Creationism*. Far from it. To me the idea of a single conscious creator has the same problem that Materialism has, only seen from the other way around. God has to be conscious, and God cannot create his own consciousness, so unless consciousness automatically comes with the sense of self, it seems more plausible to me that God, gods, people, and things are all dependent on a phenomenal substrate which transcends all others – beyond space and time, beyond order and entropy, beyond probability or improbability there must be sense experience…a phenomenon in which all phenomena perceive and participate directly.

It may not seem that way to us, from our limited scope of human consciousness, because our lifetimes are so short and our instants of perception are so long relative to biology and physics, but I think that it is the case that on some frame of reference, all phenomena is purely experiential. Consciousness is using biology, not the other way around. Biology is like physics squared, with each living organism its own recapitulation of the big bang, standing in absolute contrast to its inorganic origins, connected to the totality of experience by food, water, light, and each other. This is not to say that “a rock is conscious” but rather that we perceive a rock from a biased set of reports from our human body. We are seeing a fragment of mineral residue from what would be, on a geological or astrophysical scale of time and space, a musical fireworks show of stellar-planetary animation. It’s all about frames of reference, but taken in a new way which sees reference and relativity not as framed by mathematical relations, but of perceptual gymnastics on a scale which extends well beyond biology or even ‘reality’.

*If people do prefer to think of Consciousness as intrinsically God-like, I can’t rule it out. Maybe consciousness-with-self-hood simply is the empirical fact, like the color red, without precedent or logic. That could just be the way that it is in all possible universes, that consciousness is personality who thinks and acts.

Relying on logic instead, my conclusion would be that while God or gods could be real to human experience (by way of higher consciousness that is more deeply connected with the cosmological scales of time, using metaphor to communicate with its time-spliced version of itself), they are more likely to have evolved as a reflection of zoology. In a universe made of conscious experience, the experience of the organism which moves itself around the world of other organisms and non-organisms would have a good reason to conceive of itself as a self, and of its deepest connection to eternal experience as a super-self, hero, polytheistic god or monotheistic God.

For those who prefer to think of nature as Godless, the sense-first view can be understood to introduce a third cosmological form of expression, a fundamental one from which the other two cosmological platforms of physical forms and logical functions diverge as experienced time, rather than emerge in a pre-existing context of space-time. It’s a flipping over of the foundations of our cosmology, so that quantum theory and relativity, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology all represent incomplete views of nature that we have developed out of fragmentation of our understanding into extremely specialized sciences.

The one common denominator of all of our modern approaches is that they share the same blind spot for our own native human frame of awareness. We have stenciled an outline of our own image out of the conspicuous absence of it in the stars, the neurons, and the laws of information and physics. In my view, the way forward is to perform a Copernican inversion on our worldview…not returning to a pre-scientific anthropomorphism, but to explain both anthropomorphism and its now dominant opposite (I call it mechanemorphism) in a deeper context of sense and sense-making. Once we engage in this symmetry objectively, i.e., to see the intrinsic subjectivity in objectivity and objectivity in subjectivity, then a lot of things fall into place, including this perilously transformative time in human history.

Multisense Diagram w/ Causality

May 29, 2016 3 comments

Gold_Dragon9

Another shot at an improved diagram of the multisense continuum. Terms intercausal and intracausal are introduced to differentiate between the proto-phenomenal view *within* causality (i.e. intentionality/will is the active principle, determinism/probability is the diffracted reflection).

The Postcausal-Synchronistic | Metaphoric-Metaphenomenal level of description are adhesive and diffracted from absolute unity from the top down. They correspond to the metric as experience is presented in fugue-conditions which transcend space, time, and causality.

The Physical-Causal | Phoric-Phenomenal level of description are adhesive and cohesive (Cartesian Dualism). They correspond to the metric c as experience is presented as the juxtaposition of an exterior context which is cohesively spaced, timed, and deterministic (adhesive) and interior contents which are adhesive-contextual (subjective).

The Thermodynamic-Intercausal | Perceptual-Emotive
and Electromagnetic | Sensorimotive-Intracausal labels refer to translations between public manifestations of energy and private manifestations of effort or will. Any metric which relates velocity, frequency or wavelength as a fraction of c can be used here.

The Quantum-Probabilistic | Semaphoric-Sub-personal level of description refers to phenomena which are presented as either cohesive-entangled or adhesive-contextualized. An example of a cohesive-entangled appearance is a static ‘sense-of particles or objects in positions’, while an example of adhesive-contextualized appearance could be a sense of ‘dynamic waves of change in sensation itself’. The former appears as a thing which is made visible while the latter appears as an artifact of visibility itself (such as rays of light). Because the quantum level is paradoxical or bi-cohesive, the metric √c can be used to conceptualize the breakdown of natural, macroscopic conditions into quantized proto-conditions.

Nesting Spinor

July 5, 2015 Leave a comment

msr_spinor

“A spinor visualized as a vector pointing along the Möbius band, exhibiting a sign inversion when the circle (the “physical system”) is rotated through a full turn of 360°” – Wiki

Here is an adaptation of a spinor topology to show the relations within aesthetic phenomena that give rise to realism. Note the adjacent red and blue arrows in opposite directions make an ideal place for the sensory-motive locus, where input/output is experienced directly. The opposite side of the band is the ‘object’ side, where inertia and determinism present a united front against the subjective perspective.

If we set consciousness aside for a moment, this view of the spinor can be used to conceptualize electromagnetism as the source of spacetime rather than an effect occurring within spacetime:

EM-spinor

The conventional understanding frequency and wavelength are here inverted, so that we are thinking about them from the inside rather than as objects of study. A wave is an outsider’s view of an occurrence which is only metaphorically wave-like: a surge of changing phenomenal quality.

Light Speed, Space and Time

April 11, 2015 Leave a comment

I think that the speed of light is constant not because that is the nature of light, but because that is the nature of velocity itself. Velocity isn’t a simple, open ended quantity, it is a range between stillness and c…between absolute spacetime locality and absolute non-locality.

Light is nowhere and everywhere until it hits something…wavefunctions are in non-local ‘superposition’ until they ‘collapse’.

My view is that this is almost true, but inside out. Light is within awareness which reflects awareness. Light is the event horizon between the public and the private aesthetics. Light is only ‘here’ and ‘there’, never in between…never moving in space.

We don’t know anything about space, because we can’t use space to measure itself. All measurements are done with instruments made of matter. All measurements occur within conscious awareness, and all measurements of space occur by the extension of conscious awareness through matter. Space is the absence of matter(as detected by consciousness of matter). The math doesn’t change, only the interpretation gets post-Copernicanized.

“The body is to space what consciousness is to time. The world is to the body what the unconscious is to consciousness.“ – JS

Space = geometry, time = algebra…but then space/geometry is to time/algebra what measurement (quanta) is to the trans-measurable (qualia).

 

About Naive Realism and the Limitation of Models

April 7, 2015 Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*neologisms

Strawson on the Primacy of Panpsychism

March 1, 2015 Leave a comment

My apologies to Galen Strawson for this article, which is based on my thoughts on his 2015 essay “Mind and being: the primacy of panpsychism“. I am not so much critiquing his position as using it to launch my own variations of its principles. I am getting into conjectures that are intended to pick up where Strawson leaves off in this paper. Having the utmost respect for Strawson and his pioneering contribution to modern panpsychism, I would encourage anyone who is serious about this subject to take the time to understand his views first and not to leapfrog from physicalism to the pansensitive view that I’m proposing. It is critical to have a solid understanding of exactly why panpsychism is an improvement on physicalism before entertaining the question of how panpsychism can be improved.

In the paper, Strawson lays out some propositions in support of panpsychism:

  1. Matter is force or energy
  2. Being is becoming
  3. Being is quality
  4. Being is mind

These four points are explained in the paper in detail, and I agree with them…in a sense. I agree with them as a better alternative to the physicalist model, which might go something like this:

  1. Matter is physics
  2. Being is merely the function of physics
  3. Physics is quantity
  4. Physics is structure

If we put these two together, and then add to that total set the inversion of their difference, I think we get closer to my view (Multisense Realism or Aesthetic Foundationalism) in which matter, energy, spacetime, being, becoming, are all defined qualitatively. Being is quality, but mind and structure are also quality.

Proposition 1: Stoff ist Kraft (matter is energy)

Strawson begins by writing that ‘Leibniz, too, declared: “quod non agit, non existit”’ […] What doesn’t act doesn’t exist.” He equates force (Kraft in German) with Aristotelian energeia or energy and Matter (Stoff) with spacetime. He says “substance is that which acts: ‘activity … is of the essence of substance“, and supports it with the footnote “See also, strikingly, Faraday 1844: 140ff, Bohm 1957: §1.6; and many others. I’m inclined to include Plato, who holds that ‘being is nothing other than dunamis’, i.e. potency, power, force.” He’s making a case for action being the fabric of reality. But can action exist in the absence of some perception of action? Can there be movement without some capacity to detect spatial relations? Can movement be separated from a narrative sense of where X was and where X went, and how those positional states S and S’ are related?

The concept of energy is poorly understood, even within physics. Gravity is typically referred to as a fundamental force but not as an energy. A planet orbiting a star in circular motion doesn’t expend energy to do it, yet orbiting can be considered an action or force. Planets fall rather then force their way around the sun. If energy is the capacity to do work, then work would imply the generation of one force against another, such as the force of lifting an object up off of the ground against gravity. There’s potential energy as well as kinetic, so a boulder on top of a cliff or a drum of oil can be said to have energy of a sort without acting. The term energy could instead be used in a more informal sense which combines force and energy as a general ‘immaterial agent of material transformation’.

That which doesn’t act publicly may still feel or sense privately.

That matter is actually caused by immaterial agents makes a lot of sense and is held as undeniable by many people who have done a lot of thinking about it – and it made sense to me also – except when we factor in consciousness. Is receptivity an action? Is it a force? It would seem to make more sense that receptivity is the capacity required prior to force being presented or defined.  If we look at our most naive evidence of immaterial agents, we have to admit that all immaterial phenomena are inferred directly as sensations of our own body or indirectly as the changes we can detect in other bodies . We don’t experience energy per se, we experience feelings like warmth or motion, or we see or hear effects which are associated with excitation and change. An explosion, for example, is an event in which some object is violently dispersed across space. We see debris scattering, brightening both the surrounding objects and our own field of vision. A flash, for example is either air molecules becoming ionized, as a flame or spark, or it is an interior event which reflects a sudden change in the brain (stroke), eye (pressing on the eyeball until you see stars), or the retina (the reflection of a distant illumination source fills our field of vision, like a flash bulb). Our conscious experience does not consider these sources to make a difference in one sense, but there are aesthetic cues which can be used to gain some epistemological traction.

I have developed some tinnitus in one ear in recent years, probably from spending too much time working in large data centers where the whir of thousands of server fans and souped up air conditioning is all but deafening. The noise is white noise in that it is constant and hypnotic, but there are multiple layers in which some tones or screeches can be heard to oscillate in a wandering, unpredictable way. Well, that’s what my ringing ear sounds like now when it’s quiet and I’m trying to sleep. The thing is, I can pick out at least two distinct types of ringing going on simultaneously. The ring that I have been describing which oscillates irregularly seems to be coming from an outside source. I had to get up out of bed on several occasions to satisfy myself that it was actually in my head rather than a ventilation fan in the attic. It *really* sounds like a ‘real’ thing in the world which I’m hearing. I can contrast that with the other type of ringing which is very high pitched and ‘close’ feeling. That high whine that you may be familiar with after attending a loud concert. Even though I understand that both sounds are not coming from the outside world, the second sound feels unmistakably closer to me than the first sound.

All of that was to make the point that reality is a continuum which includes both subjective-seeming perceptions and objective-seeming perceptions, but that does not mean that any of them are perceptions of something else, such as matter in the physicalist sense; some ‘thing’ out ‘there’ which simply exists independently of all aesthetic quality. The physicalist foundation is built on trust in the stuffness of stuff, whereas I am proposing that the only true and absolute stuff is the not like the physical stuff at all, but rather is like Wheeler’s participatory stuff – a capacity to directly experience and to embody an experience (indirectly).

If the universe has an aesthetic foundation rather than a ‘stuffy’ physical one, the idea that matter is energy is not necessarily true in the most important sense. The capacity to discern an aesthetic difference between material qualities and energetic qualities would be the more fundamental pillar upon which realism is built. The unity of matter and energy is never seen by us directly as an experienced reality, it can only ever be inferred intellectually as an equation. Even as an equation, E=mc² refers to the equivalence of mass and energy, not matter, with its three dimensional lattice structures and four dimensional algebraic functions. Mass is not a material, it is a measure of resistance to change. It’s worthwhile to note also that most of the energy released by nuclear reactions is not from particles turning into energy, but rather particles being rent from their nuclear configurations. Fusion is small numbers of particles moving in together, while fission is large collectives of particles breaking into smaller groups. The change is a chain reaction of particles which is energetic because it does material work on other particles, not because protons and nucleons are being annihilated into pure workfulness.

There is something called the Law of Conservation of Nucleon Number which says that “In a nuclear reaction total number of nucleons before and after the reaction remains the same, i.e. nucleons cannot be created nor destroyed during a nuclear reacton” (Introduction to Nuclear and Particle Physics Mittal V. K., verma R. C., gupta S. C., 4.4.4). This means that a proton might become a neutron, but it doesn’t become energy. There may be a better case to say that energy is what matter does in space than to say that matter is energy. If we interpret matter as energy, we can better explain some of our reality, but we are doing it by invoking a model of the universe which is in a sense unreal/anti-real and inconceivable aesthetically. A bowling ball is conceivable, a balling of bowl is not. What makes the universe real is not that matter is energy are united, but that matter and energy seem aesthetically opposite. Without that asymmetry, I can only imagine a universe of hallucination or abstract magic. To take that asymmetry one final step further, I propose that we should see the foundation of realism in the way that matter and energy seem opposite and in the way that both matter and energy together seem opposite to ‘seeming’ itself – to sense.

Matter, energy, and sense.

Sense or what I call pansensitivity is not a stuff but rather the inter-stuff within which all appearances of stuff should be thought of as occlusions or bubbles. To talk about matter being bubbles is not literal here, because the medium that these bubbles exist in is not spatially extended. The medium is ordinary experience, but without the assumption of a necessary thing-which-is-experienced.  Like the Aboriginal dreamtime, perhaps, I conceive of sense like a primordial dreaming through which all dimensions and descriptions are conceived, encountered, hidden and appreciated. Beneath force, action or energy there is sensitivity to what is going on, and sensitivity need not act or react publicly as far as I know. Sensitivity defines all: What action is, what it is that acts and what action does to the actor. Please do not mistake this to refer only to human sensation, or sense organs, or even living organisms. This notion is about the ontology of sense itself as a concept, as a legitimate and final context within which all of physics and psychology (human or otherwise) exists. As Strawson points out brilliantly, panpsychism should not be considered a Neutral Monism, but a doubly committed, ‘Experiential-Hylal’ monism. Awareness does not stand aloof from material and abstract reality, it is what is reflected and embodied by material and abstract reality.

Must we say that this E-H monism is action though? If we want to say that what doesn’t act doesn’t exist, that can still be true, if we take existence literally as an external or public presence rather than the universal notion of existence as that-which-is-not-nothing. With an aesthetic foundation, it is the interior sense of excitement which would logically be the more fundamental resource of existence, the insistence which arises privately as an intention to exist publicly in spacetime. Action occurs so that its accomplishment can be admired in some sense. We write because we read, not because there is writing. Action then is always a reaction to some deeper quality of expectation – an affect that insists on an effect. Sense is not only being and becoming, subject and object, space and time, but the sensory-motive significance of participation. Sense is the aesthetic totality through which the ‘versing’ of the Universe continues.

Proposition 2: Wesen ist Werden (being is becoming)

Strawson writes “All concrete being is essentially timebeing—whatever exactly time is. Being is being.” I would counter that by saying that being is not only be-ing, but been, has been, and may be. All of the past-tense and future-tense influences on the now should not be pushed out into another category. As unreal as past and future may seem in some sense, the influence of past and future makes up a tremendous portion of the present. We are permeated by our past, we embody it, and that embodiment often seems to foreshadow possible futures. Being should be understood to extend beyond time, beyond stasis and beyond change. Stasis and change are qualities of perception, and relativistic ones at that. The faster we are, the slower our world appears. Speeding up or slowing down our rate of awareness reveals new phenomena that extend our world. Instead of saying everything is process, we might say ‘everything is project’. Not merely a doing and going but of placing and replacing.

Under this heading Strawson also writes

“To say this is not to ‘desubstantialize’ matter in any way, and it is most emphatically not to suggest that matter is really only what we can possibly observe (as per the fatal modern tendency to epistemologize metaphysics). It’s simply to express in a certain way the point that the nature of concrete being is energy”

To this I agree that matter should not be desubstantialized in any way. Rocks are as real as anything ever could be. It is only that what is a rock to our body may be more like a sponge or even a cloud to something which is faster, smaller, or less solid that we are. I would agree also that matter is not only what we can possibly observe,  however I would disagree with any implication that this means that matter can be anything other than that which can be perceived. The nature of concrete being may not be energy, but the sense which preserves unity and differences across all qualities, including suites of qualities that we call energy.

Proposition 3: Sein ist Sosein (being is quality)

Here I am in complete agreement with Strawson and Lewis, whom he quotes about concrete reality being ‘an arrangement of qualities. And that is all’. I would add that even arrangement is a quality. As he writes “In the case of any concrete entity, again, its Sosein (its being the way it is) is identical to its Sein (its being).” I am reminded of Kant’s understanding that Existence is an empty predicate. There is no quality of existing without some without some aesthetic qualities which can be appreciated through sensory-motive participation. In short, there is no input or output in the absence of some concrete experience. There is no such thing as ‘input’ in and of itself – no ‘sense data’ without sense itself.

This is of course a major complaint of mine against both eliminativism, and computational theory of mind/Strong AI – that the map is not only mistaken for the territory, but the territory…the concrete power of sensation is demoted to an emergent abstraction of epiphenomenal status. Because physics and computer science arise out of mathematical sensibilities that objectify and systemize, they are intrinsically biased against the opponent channels of awareness, namely empathy and intention. While there is great beauty in numbers in the Platonic-Pythagorean sense, the idea of a cosmos that is purely arithmetic and formal leaves us with a worldview of a computer which lacks a screen, keyboard, or user.

Proposition 4: Ansichsein ist Fürsichsein (being is mind)

In this passage, Strawson affirms the notion of Kant and William James that in order for something to exist, there must be ‘something it is like to be it, experientially’. I would challenge his assertion that ‘We can’t hope to prove that the notion of nonexperiential
(or inert) concrete being is incoherent’, by looking at the alternative. If there were a such thing as nonexperiential being, there would have to be some difference between it and nonexperiential nonbeing other than the empty predicate of being…so it’s a non sequitur. Even if it weren’t a logical impossibility, in practical terms a universe which is devoid of awareness or in which awareness is shared with non-awareness, the non-experiential has no capacity to define itself as existing. Indeed, the moment in which experience begins to exist is the only meaningful beginning of time. Whether there is timeless non-experience or not is only something which can be debated within experience.

Where I take issue is in presuming that experience is always an experience of being some thing. Just because human experience is dominated by that kind of individuality doesn’t necessarily mean that there are not more exotic kinds of mindless experience which is non-human, or even inorganic. If Strawson’s creed is an identity metaphysics, I might say that mine is a trans-identity meta-ontology. Even the most fundamental concepts of energy, process, quality, and mind are still concepts – still roots in the garden of sense. Sense should be understood to contain all of reality and sanity, but to extend far beyond both.

Moving on, I applaud his assertion against radical or brute emergence:

“it’s metaphysically far more extravagant and anti-naturalistic to reject the No Jumps thesis and postulate radical emergence of the experiential from the nonexperiential, than it is to postulate non-radical emergence of the human experiential from the non-human experiential—whatever difficulties the second idea may also seem to raise.”

My sentiments exactly. Applying emergence to consciousness is like applying the Pythagorean theorem to Pythagoras. Likewise I concur with his thoughts on naturalism and experience:

“experience is the most certainly known concretely existing general natural phenomenon, and is indeed the first thing any scientist encounters when they try to do science.”

He follows this by reclaiming, as I do, the sovereignty of materialism and naturalism from the forces of reduction to physical structure. Physics is silent on the non-structural, intrinsic nature of concrete reality, so it should not be allowed to frame the definition of nature and material in immaterial, structural terms.

After some discussion of the incoherence of Neutral Monism and the incompatibility of non-experience with experience, which I will leave to those who have not yet understood the superiority of ultra-strong panpsychism, I come to the section:

Experience entails an experiencer

He writes

“I’m aware that experience entails an experiencer so I’m going to have to allow that there are as many experiencers as there are genuinely ontologically distinct portions of experience—even though this may appear to make things more difficult for me as a fledgling panpsychist.”

That seems straightforward enough…but wait. Is being aware that experience entails an experiencer really a solid assumption. Sure, *our* experience entails an experiencer, but we are a very specific kind of thing – an evolved experience which encounters itself as a living body in a world of other bodies, living and otherwise. Our experience of being an experiencer may be local to zoology or biology – an artifact of being enveloped in skin yet able to move around using our intention. If we are serious about existence being aesthetic, then the unbounded aesthetic which transcends even ontology would dissolve even is-ness in a continuum of seems-ness. Seeming is not less than being, it is more. On the absolute level, fact is a type of fiction and fiction or pretending is the ultimate tendency.

This is a controversial concept to entertain, especially as it could be construed as an attack on theism. If we say that an experiencer is a kind of experience of experiences, and not ontologically primitive, then do we do away with God as a kind of giant experiencer in a realm where no experiencer logically needs to define itself that way.

On the other hand, tying our own subjectivity to the morphology of our body may be a Just-so story, and the dichotomy of experiencer and experience may simply be how it is. In that case, monotheism is a natural enough way to frame the totality of experiencers – as a super-experiencer.

A third option is what I call ambi-theism, or a superposition of the absolute, in which both experiencer and non-experiencer qualities are merely colors on the palette of sense. The grand movie contains dramas with characters and plots as well as austere documentaries with only the pristine admiration of nature for itself as an it.

Neurosupremacy

Next I find an issue where I do disagree:

“We know the experiential is real and we also know—about as well as we know anything in science—that it’s literally located in the brain: human experience is neural activity. This is by now far beyond reasonable doubt.

I’m a little surprised at this, given that Strawson is sincere about the primacy of consciousness. Maybe I’ve just been arguing with others about this issue for so long that I now assume that people who are focused on consciousness are aware that there are studies of NDE’s, embodied cognition, and many other exotic issues which do provide doubt of complete mind-brain identity. Whether that doubt is ‘reasonable’ is debatable to some, but given what we’ve already discussed about matter being energy and energy being mind, it seems regressive to me to then turn around and say that human experience *is* neural activity. No, human experience is irreducible, and neural activity is (an admittedly important and directly correlative) part of that experience.

In his point about fungibility, “all physical stuff is fungible in the sense that any form of it can in principle be transformed into any other—so that if for example one broke hydrogen down into leptons and quarks one could reassemble it as gold” I would agree, however I would not agree that all experience is physical in that sense. We cannot reassemble World War II. Not only because of thermodynamic irreversibility/entropy/the arrow of time, but because consciousness is not an isolated ‘now’ but rather the view from within a bubble of eternity. The view cannot be copied or assembled from simpler forms, it has to be a unique and in some sense unrepeatable part of the totality. In my view, the fungibility of physics, or public-spatial physics is an inversion of the deeper anti-fungibility of awareness. That which is perceived to happen over and over, or to be put together from parts is witnessed by that which has never happened and will never happen again, and which is irreducible to parts.

I agree with his points about consciousness not being a mystery at all, but would add that because consciousness is absolute, it is at once the most mysterious and least mysterious phenomenon. If you don’t think that consciousness is mysterious at all, talk to some people who have ingested Ayahuasca. There is discussion of the combination problem, which is a serious issue for panpsychism, or it would seem to until you commit to absolute panpsychism or pansensitivity as I propose. After that, mereological worries of sums and parts disappear as the multiplicity of conscious states which define reality are nested in ways that we may not even be able to imagine. States of ‘mind’ in which all of history is a single moment, spatialized perhaps from a God’s eye view. The premise of multisense realism and aesthetic foundationalism opens the door to a whole other hemisphere, at least, of the universe.

Finally Strawson ties it all up in a world knot:

“The notion of being self-sprung is metaphorical. But I think that something about it smells right—the idea that the ‘self-sprungness’ or ‘self-intimation’ of experience is the fundamental form or self-sustaining structure of the energy which is concrete reality. Self-sprungness makes—constitutes—force, and Stoff ist Kraft. Matter—more generally, the physical, all concrete being—is force or activity or power or energy. Matter-force is essentially dynamic, being is essentially becoming: Wesen ist Werden. We travel smoothly down the chain of terms which—it now appears—forms a circle: a panpsychist circle.

I think he’s on the right track, and the metaphor of the circle and Schopenhauer’s world-knot (mind-body problem) that he mentions relate to a more literal twisting of the continuum of sense, which I have named ‘Ouroboran Monism’ after Ouroboros. Even as mind and body confront itself as opposite ends of the snake in one sense, like the inflection point of head eating tail, they are also mere points in a circuit which gradually evolves through mind-like and body-like coils, spiraling around and within itself. A non-orientable surface like a Klein bottle or Mobius strip is a good metaphor of how these aesthetic extremes can be reconciled, but of course, these are only metaphors. The continuum of sense is not a structure or manifold, but the phenomenon of feeling, of drama and coherence.

Orosnake

My reworking of the paper’s propositions then are:

  1. Mind is the sensible relation of aesthetic qualities.
  2. Sense is the intervention of becoming upon what has become.
  3. Sense is a continuum of ‘minding’ and relatively mindless perspectives.
  4. Sense precedes being, existence, or matter.
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