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Multisense Realism Overview

January 21, 2012 5 comments


Multisense Realism is intended to be a “Theory of Everything”, or more precisely, a conjecture about the ultimate nature of all of physical reality and subjective experience. The hope is that this set of ideas succeeds in some way where others have not in plumbing the mysteries of mind and matter. Whether it does succeed in that seems to depend in some part on the willingness and natural orientation of the audience to entertain metaphysical ideas and new ideas in general. This is part of the theory: Everyone gets the Multisense Realism that they deserve. Those who approach this chaotic collection of essays and diagrams with the idea of proving that every idiot on the internet has a metaphysical theory will likely find what they are looking for. Others may find something more interesting…an oddly sensible way of examining the full spectrum of experience, from the mechanical to the mystical.

The name Multisense Realism is intended to convey the idea there is a single unifying principle which reconciles all phenomena. It is to say that reality is reducible to qualities of realism which are sensed and made sense of, and it is also to say that all phenomena are real in some sense. MSR is a proposal for a foundation of the cosmos that is generated and preserved as overlapping channels sense experience, as opposed to purely concrete structures or abstract computations.

  • Physicalism
    existence = concrete mass/energetic material forms
    Consciousness is emergent from complex biological forms.
  • Computationalism
    existence = abstract information/processing logical functions
    Physical appearance is emergent from complex evolutionary programs.
  • Multisense Realism
    existence = participatory sensory/motive aesthetic phenomena
    Physical and abstract properties diverge as qualitative endpoints of a transpersonal experiential spectrum.

To describe this in the terms of a sort of bent dialectic, MSR proposes a thesis and synthesis which is aesthetic, with two antitheses of immaterial logic and material structure, which are themselves antithetical to each other. This is a progression in many ways from ideas touched on by philosophers and physicists alike. Many have considered forms of neutral monism, panpsychism and process theory to fill the so-called ‘explanatory gap’ between conscious experience and physical structure but without considering sense experience independently from its usual sense of subjective agency. Often the explanatory gap is never actually closed, but only miniaturized in physical scale to the point that it can be overlooked.

What MSR attempts to do is to expound on some of those ideas and to make some minor changes that have important consequences so that the dualism of mind and body is not repeated again and again on smaller levels, but is truly bridged in a way beyond both monism and dualism. In short, MSR posits that the capacity to modulate between monism and dualism is part of the ontology of the absolute. Symmetry or ‘likeness’, imitation and novel variation are some of the themes of sense which echo across time and throughout the self-clustering architectures of matter.

The name multisense realism also connotes a philosophy that is neither a fixed set of truths, nor a relativistic blob of postmodernism, but a participation in many overlapping forms of sense and sense-making experience, which are themselves dynamically interacting, revealing, and concealing each other. When we use the word sense, sometimes we mean a sensation of a world outside of ourselves, and other times we mean a clarity of mental understanding and sanity. Sometimes we mean an intuition which has an ineffable quality. The word sense is also used to describe a belonging to a category or context (“in a sense”). That sense of the word sense gives us a connection to semiotic process. All of these can be seen as clues to an underlying continuum of sense, from the physiologically based impulses of sense organs to the crystallizing effect of intellect, to the emotional and spiritual influences which can seem to guide us from beyond our personal control.

Unlike computation or information, where inputs and outputs are merely boundaries of initiation and termination of a data processing event, the MSR treatment of sense recognizes input and output as the very inflection point of the explanatory gap – the event horizon of ‘signaling’ where our expectations of automatic physical chain reactions blur into our familiarity with sense experience. Unlike functionalist accounts which treat signaling as a means for transmitting information between physical locations, MSR identifies the appreciation of i/o for its own sake as a central cosmological feature. Sense is an experience in which perceptual inputs are not only received and evaluated as sense-datum, but appreciated for the supra-unique significance of experiential qualities themselves. Where the Western approach objectifies nature from an aloof, third-person view and the Eastern approach subjectifies nature to a first-person, or zeroth-person, or trans-personal view, the MSR approach sees both sides as emerging from the deeper nature of ‘view’ itself. By taking this meta-view, the role of consciousness and aesthetic quality can be revealed honestly, without being caricatured as mechanism or anthropomorphism, and a new scientific focus on the fundamental properties of sense becomes possible. Not only can the extremes of eliminativism and solipsism be sidestepped, but they can be recruited naturally as the multisensory-continuum’s version of ‘red-shift’ and ‘blue-shift’.

If we look at matter objectively, what can we really say about it? One common definition of matter is “any substance which has mass and occupies space. All physical objects are composed of matter, in the form of atoms, which are in turn composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons.” When we dream realistically, however, “matter” need not be presented as being composed of particles. Matter in a dream as well as in waking life is that ‘stuff that feels like something when we touch it’ or which is seen to act like a solid, liquid, or gas. This is not to say that what we encounter in dreams is matter but that there is no perception of matter required to be perceived as matter. Matter seems to tangibly embody certain sensibilities and to be the sensibility of tangible embodiment.

All phenomena are similarly presented to us as self-evident in some respects but hidden in others. Blue simply looks blue, and pain simply hurts. Regardless of any biochemical processes that might be associated with them, the aesthetic qualities are conserved. Sugar and aspartame may be chemically very different, but they both taste sweet to us. This seems to put aesthetic qualities at least on an equal footing to information. Mathematical properties are conserved across different kinds of things that can be counted, but aesthetic qualities are conserved even independently of understanding. It is not necessary to learn how to feel pain, nor could any such learning help us discover pain if we could not feel it to begin with. This presence of self-evident qualities is the key to understanding why well-intentioned solutions from both philosophy and science have failed to decipher the deeper nature of awareness and sense. Sense is literally im-mediate. Even though we can measure neurological changes on microscopic scales beyond our direct perception, experience itself is irreducible, if not instantaneous in any given frame of perception. As soon as we feel pain it is painful. With mechanistic solutions that assume representation, the native moment of detection is discounted and replaced by unacknowledged moments of detection among billions of neurons.

We shall seek to construct a metaphysics of matter which shall make the gulf between physics and perception as small, and the inferences involved in the causal theory of perception as little dubious, as possible. We do not want the percept to appear mysteriously at the end of a causal chain composed of events of a totally different nature; if we can construct a theory of the physical world which makes its events continuous with perception, we have improved the metaphysical status of physics, even if we cannot prove more than that our theory is possible. (Russell 1927a, 275)

Rather than sweeping the question of consciousness under a neurological carpet, or dissolving it in the ocean of evolutionary statistics, we can consider that the brain’s activity may be not be due entirely to the brain’s structure, but rather to (what we see as) the ‘unconscious’ activity of the brain. Each neuron may be more of a symptom or token of cellular-scale awareness, and cellular awareness is a child of biochemical awareness, which is the child of low level physical awareness. It could be experiential all the way down. If it weren’t, then it should logically be non-experiential all the way up. We would have to explain why a system which can routinely construct a human nervous system, immune system, digestive tract etc (projects which dwarf any measly achievement of human civilization) suddenly needs ‘consciousness’ to help hominids locate food and shelter…something which any single celled eukaryote does. Raymond Tallis’ book Aping Mankind does a great job of addressing the shortcomings of the current scientific approach. I agree with his criticism of the abandonment of humanity as a phenomenon in its own right in favor of overconfidence in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, which he dubs Neuromania and Darwinitis. In MSR, the notion of sub-personal and super-personal ranges of awareness is discussed, which fits nicely with Tallis’ argument. Simply put, because of the success of the approach that science has taken thus far in considering phenomena ‘objectively’ and impersonally, we are naturally compelled to explain all personal phenomena in terms which are either beneath us (neuroscience), or beyond us (physical anthropology and evolutionary biology). This externalizing approach, while enormously useful and practical, may be exactly the wrong approach to take in understanding consciousness as it is rather than as we would like it to be to fit into our scientific legacy. Consciousness is, if nothing else, about the physics of privacy and interiority, and a physics which is based on the interactions of public exteriors cannot conceptualize privacy as anything other than a mistake or illusion.

The assumption that all consciousness is the product of the brain relies on the deeper assumption that human consciousness can faithfully model itself logically, and that reflection is the only true reflection possible or the only reflection that matters to science. Given what we already know about how flawed our perception is, why would it be absolutely accurate in this one way? Why is this product of the brain that calls itself ‘consciousness’ able to do nothing but bathe in locally manufactured illusions, except when it comes to assessing its own shortcomings and insignificance with ‘logic’? In that respect, it seems, the scientific expectation of fallibility of subjectivity is turned on its head, and the scientific mind does not hesitate to make a special pleading rationalization for its own particular kind of reasoning about nature as ‘it’ rather than ‘we’. From that vantage point, all of human thought and feeling are reduced to mere predetermined chemical reactions, except, somehow for the enlightening thoughts and feelings which are associated with science. These scientific products of the brain are exempt from the limitations of blind natural selection and rise to the level of clear intent to document universal truth.

No formal equation can be solved in a way that feels like something.

Arithmetic functions, while making a certain kind of sense, do not sense anything themselves. They are figurative expressions, symbols. To turn them into computation they must be embodied by some kind of material system which interacts reliably and whose mathematics are technologically accessible. Symbols are not what they symbolize. A stop sign does not mean STOP, in the sense that there is nothing about the shape of the letters S, T, O, and P, or the reflectivity of the paint, or anything having to do with the construction of the physical sign, rather the meaning of the sign is in the intention to communicate and the ability to understand communication.

There is nothing that can be done to a symbol which will cause it to create conscious qualities. No formula causes a color change as a result. This may seem like begging the question to some who would like to deflate the Hard Problem of consciousness, because technically we can’t prove that some formula couldn’t have magical powers, to turn blue, to taste like chicken, or to cast a spell, but I think the more reasonable position is to ask whether we really need to prove these kinds of sophistic arguments. Beyond the fact that human history seems to have come down on the side against incantations being effective, there seems to be a natural intuition about sensory phenomena, similar to our geometric intuitions about circles not being square: Numbers and the concepts represented through numbers, are not a plausible basis for generating phenomena such as sensation and emotion. I would argue that numbers cannot, in and of themselves, even conjure up geometry on their own, but even that impossibility seems much more plausible than the idea that mathematics could somehow manage to create geometry than that either math or geometry could create sensation. This is not an argument from incredulity but a prophylactic against arguments from pseudo-credulity which see no essential difference between the map of symbols and the territory of sensation.

The hypothesis then, in MSR, is that all ideal or symbolic forms and functions as well as all substances and forces are inert without the a priori fact of sense. Sense is needed to ground symbols in experienced meaning, and parse the world of structures into relevant scales and perspectives. Instead of looking for a way to squeeze the blood of sense out of the stone of math or physics, we should begin with the aspect that we can explain the least, sense, and assume that is the larger container of possibility and authenticity.

There are some popular thought experiments within philosophy of mind, such as Leibniz Mill, or Searle’s Chinese Room which can help us ask what the relationship of consciousness to objective mechanisms, but personally I find the simple question of what the universe would be like without the appearance of Homo sapiens,  or any biological organism on planet Earth to be even more useful. In order to dig beneath our preconceptions and biases about consciousness being a human phenomenon, or something limited to living beings, we should continuously challenge ourselves to clarify what we expect the universe to be like without any consciousness at all. Would there be only intangible invisibility? An unconscious void for billions of un-experienced years until suddenly the first sensation is invented in some obscure undersea lava vent? Or would the universe still contain aesthetic phenomena of some kind no matter what?

It’s not necessary to speculate on non-human awareness, but suffice it to say that cannot logically support the idea of a universe which operates in abject senselessness for billions of years but then suddenly sparks sense by accident. Even pure chaos requires a sensible perspective to discern chaos from order and to define that distinction. Simply put, nothing which existed before the invention of sense could be considered part of the universe that we experience. Once sense exists, all non-sense before it would collapse into infinite insignificance. The universe must, it seems, make sense before we can make sense of it.

The universe must make sense before we can make sense of it.

gameIMAG0011However vast the variety of phenomena in the universe, the one thing that they all have in common is that they can be detected through sense or inferred through ‘sense-making’. This is not to say that all phenomena must be sensed by human beings, or even living creatures, but I think that to understand nature, we must begin by agreeing that nothing can be real if it can never be detected or inferred in any way by anything. That which cannot be sensed in any way or make sense any way, and never will be, cannot be considered to ‘exist’. Such a hypothetical non-sense could not even have any connection to anything that does exist, otherwise it would become a thing which is sensed in some indirect way.

Sense cannot arise from non-nonsense, just as order cannot arise from dis-chaos. This is not an assertion that this must be true because the words we use suggest it, but rather because the words corroborate the undeniable truth; that chaos which produces order and sense, was never truly chaos because it must have always contained the possibility of order. Possibility itself implies order and experience. What is ‘possible’ is grounded in expectations of time and events, of actuality and non-actuality, of the causality, etc.

The primacy of sense also can be reasoned by our own experience – sense needs no additional introduction, it introduces itself – it is the very channel through which introductions are presented. Even if we think that our perception is only a product of neurochemistry, all that we have done is to push the mystery down to the levels of cellular and molecular bodies rather than animal bodies.  We still have not explained how detection and reaction work, only given ‘complexity’ the benefit of the doubt for turning the unintentional and automatic into full blown human psychology. This perspective is a denial of microcosmic consciousness purely on the grounds of unfamiliarity. We are led to the materialism because we think that science has shown that our naive view of the world is biased, but we have not yet asked whether the objectified view of subjectivity isn’t an even more biased and distant view. What we have gained with materialism is not an explanation of awareness, but excuses as to why we need not trouble ourselves with trying to understand it more than the sub-human functions which we have arbitrarily defined as being devoid of awareness. It is circular reasoning. We don’t know how it is that we see, so we shut our eyes and decide that seeing is an illusion, and verify it by producing a number of experiments where people who have their eyes closed bump into walls.

The advice offered here is that we must not only embrace the reality of sense and awareness, but to consider what the big picture looks like if we allow that all phenomena in the universe are different kinds of sense experience – experience which makes sense and makes sense of sense-making. It is not natural for us to see sense itself as a phenomena in its own right. Sense is in the background of all thoughts and feelings, even those feelings of subjectivity. It could be said that sense is ‘existence’, but I agree with Kant that existence is an ’empty predicate’. There is no difference between a feeling and a feeling that ‘exists’, so that existence is really a part of speech rather than ontology. Existence is a way to specify that a phenomenon is being considered, like the word ‘the’. There is no difference between feeling happy and ‘the feeling of happiness’, except that with ‘the feeling’, the speaker is foregrounding ‘feeling’ more explicitly by adding the article ‘the’. Sense does not reduce to a generic non-property like that as it specifiers not just the ‘is-ness’ of ‘Being’, but that is-ness can be understood scientifically as a sensory-motive meta-ontology. It’s not just the fact of ‘stuff being there’, it is the possibility of seeming like stuff in the first place, which together with the possibilities of distinctions like here and there, was and was not, etc which give rise to our expectations of facts and ontology.

In our local experience, or perceptual frame of reference, we experience being a person in a physical body, in a physical world, all of which appear to be bound by nothingness. Nothingness becomes the physical absolute, and we have seen ‘nothing’ become a popular subject in pop-science interpretations of astrophysics. Vacuums, vacuum flux, zero point energy fields, etc have the transcendental objects of our age. This is perfectly consistent with a society which has taken the Western exploration of structure and externality to its ultimate conclusion…which is what I call nilipsism: A doctrine of the absence of self and the promotion of absence to the level of cosmological absolute. We began Western science by questioning the assumption of teleology in nature, and casting religion as supernatural, and we have now come full circle in elevating that absence of teleology into a supreme external-non-entity. We have actually come to believe that emptiness is a thing and that it might be all knowing and all powerful, just in an impersonal, mechanistic way rather than an intentional way.

In multisense realism, nothingness is not an option, since nothingness can only be an idea of something which can consider the absence of everything. Nothingness cannot conceive of any thing, let alone no-thing. If it could conceive of things, then it would not be nothing.We begin instead from an aesthetic foundation. A way to feel or sense, without even necessarily an expectation of a feeler or sensor, since being one-who-feels is ultimately a feeling or sensation, just as matter or numbers would be. It is very strange to think of feelings without any ‘thing’ feeling them, and perhaps there is something about feeling which is inescapably proprietary, even in the absence of any logical way to define universal proprietorship, but for now, it seems premature to insist upon it.

What seems more plausible to me is a universal absolute which is perpetually fluctuating between God-like/self-like pretending and machine-like/automatic pretending. The pretending and the pretender are the same thing, but ultimately I think that the pretender is part of the pretending more than the other way around. God cannot be unconscious and God cannot create his own consciousness, so that logically leaves us with a universe which was consciousness already before there could be any ‘thing’ to sense ‘itself’ as conscious. Awareness precedes ‘self’-awareness, and a self is a form of awareness. This doesn’t mean that human life doesn’t refer to God or gods in some way, that our ‘higher nature’ doesn’t call to us, perhaps backward from the future of our human potential, through intuitive channels. These channels may be ‘real’, and they may also be ‘more than real’ and ‘less than real’, as the aesthetics of the sacred and divine are well known to mix freely with both genius and madness.

When talking about an ‘Absolute frame of reference’, I’m not positing any special metaphysical thing. To the contrary, I am considering a scope of nature that I want to include only all natural phenomena (as opposed to all possibilities). From such a perspective, time and space are irrelevant, as we are taking inventory of the contents of the totality of experience ‘all at once’. Scale and duration are meaningless without being anchored in comparison to some particular scope of ‘here’ and ‘now’, so that to consider something like the Earth in its own frame of reference, we would have to naturalize it in geological scales of time rather than human time. From the absolute perspective, we must begin with the assumption not of a universe from the augmentation of nothingness, but a universe of everythingness, and from there go about re-orienting our worldview from a physics of particles in a void into one of partitions of participation. Rather than emergence from nothing, the future of cosmology should assume a divergence from a particular storytelling capacity nested within itself. Before we get to quantum mechanical ‘tendencies to exist’, we have a qualitative ‘diffraction’ from continuum, like the visible spectrum of light, where clear ‘light’ of seeing becomes beams of brightness through illumination, and reveals itself as colorful through spatial fragmentation.

From everythingness to universe, by diffraction.

While this idea of a foundation of absolute completeness which we see locally only in a shattered or fallen condition was not consciously modeled after any religion or philosophy, it does coincide with many traditional conceptions of the universe.  The visible spectrum example given above is not produced as a mechanical process, but as an aesthetic revelation of unity being displaced or deferred. Contrary to the idea of a Big Bang in which an explosive presence appears in null-spacetime to detonate as spacetime using mass as an accelerant, multisense realism begins from the opposite kind of pre-causality. From this vantage point, with no relativistic measure to make the first instants of the Big Bang seem any longer or shorter than all of the rest of history put together, the Big Bang becomes the Big Diffraction, an experiential masking and dividing of the absolute. The difference between the proposed MSR myth and traditional creation myths is that MSR presents an outline of how such a cosmology can be conceived of physically and mathematically, through the inclusion of sense as the absolute.

By connecting the dots between quantitative and qualitative principles, it is possible to begin to answer many of the grandest questions of science and philosophy, mainly by keeping track of patterns of symmetry and being willing to reverse our most fundamental assumptions. This approach as provided what I think are radical and promising insights into the nature of information, mathematics and energy as well as resolving the most stubborn mysteries of philosophy relating to consciousness, meaning, morality, and free will. Each of these requires a lot of explanation even to begin to get into, but in this introduction, I’ll offer these teasers:

1. The nature of information: Gregory Bateson famously said that information might be defined as ‘a difference that makes a difference’. This is a very useful kind of definition from an engineering standpoint, but there are questions lurking underneath. “Makes a difference to whom?” and “What makes a difference different?” Looking at word etymology can provide some interesting connections here. The root word ‘fer’ in difference is the same root found in terms like ‘infer’ and ‘refer’, but also the same as found in ‘metaphor’ and ‘euphoria’. Both the Greek pherein and Latin ferre can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root *bher, which means ‘bear’, take, or carry. Taken together, this notion of differences which make differences can be understood to mean ‘a comparison of what is taken in (perception, afferent stimulation) to other such perceptions and comparisons’.

By getting down to the root sense of ‘differ’ as ‘dis-phor’, we can clarify the nature of information as being a) entirely dependent upon sense and sense-making, rather than an independent entity which spawns simulations and conscious experience on its own, and b) a view of experiential content from the outside…not carrying meaning or feeling but facilitating the contrary un-feeling structures and functions which lie in between and beyond personal experience.

The root word ‘form’ or forma, is thought to have come from the Greek morphe, as in Morpheus (god of dreams), meaning appearances, figures, and shapes, so that information can be thought of as that which acts to shape inner appearances. This insistence on distinguishing information, which is impersonal and reducible to quantitative codes, from phenomenal consciousness, which is reducible only to qualities of personal or direct experience is, in my view, an important key to understanding how to resolve the hard problem of consciousness.

2. The nature of mathematics and AI: Mathematics refers to the common sense which relates to two distinctly different (opposite) things:

  1. A private sensory experience of imagined symbol-figures which accompany a sensible motive of quantitative, logical reasoning.
  2. A collection of public objects functioning in a way which is logically inevitable due to the relation of their forms, without any private representations.

Because mathematics bridges the gap between 1 and 2 (private subjects and public objects) it is considered profound and absolute – and it is, but only in a one dimensional sense. Mathematics represents relations but cannot initiate or appreciate them. Math makes sense, but it has no sense itself. Numbers don’t think or feel, but it allows us to think about that which is external to feeling, and that which through which feeling is externalized (as objects). Because mathematics is grounded in the abstract rather than the concrete and the generic rather than proprietary, it is a rootless imposter compared to phenomenal consciousness – numbers are the antithesis of authenticity and feeling.

Human intuition thus far about machines and computers is that they seem cold, empty, and impersonal. There is the phenomenon of the ‘uncanny valley’, where people perceive realistic simulations of other people or living things as unnerving and creepy. When simulations are only loose approximations, like a cartoon or stuffed animal, they are seen as cute, but when they are almost real but not quite, like a prosthetic limb or a wax museum figure, there is a kind of icy shock…the presence of an absence of a presence which suggests unnatural or undead qualities.

While many strong AI enthusiasts will react with hostility to this idea, I think that it actually frees us from a future in which human beings either design machines as slaves, or are enslaved themselves by the superior machines they’ve created. In embracing the notion that the uncanny valley is an indication that in fact there is more to consciousness than articulating the right gears, we open the door to a future of services which extend our intelligence and serve our interests without being burdened with genuine awareness. The MSR view frees us from any ethical concern for laboratory abuses of accidentally sentient programs, as well as insures that no technology will ever learn how to want to take over the world.

3. The nature of energy. In perhaps the most crackpot-sounding conjecture offered here, I have proposed that with sense as the universal primitive, quirky effects which have been attributed to photons and other subatomic particles (wavicles?) may suggest that the view of energy as something which is independent of matter is false. Quantum mechanics can remain exactly as it is, but the interpretation can be turned around 180 degrees, so that rather than there being ‘waves of energy’ flying through a vacuum, photons, like ‘profits’ may not literally exist. Because MSR uses an aesthetic foundation, by default all phenomena are connected. It is only the localizing, contra-aesthetic effects of distance and scale which bind us perceptually to a particular frame of reference.

This is taking special relativity to its ultimate conclusion, only substituting the speed of sensation, or rather the speed of measurement/communication of sensation for the speed of ‘light’. Just as we see a friend smiling from across the street, the idea here is that sense experience ‘sees’ itself transposed aesthetically as matter by modulation of its own ‘photic’ qualities. Light is not a passive collision of dumb objects, but an active collaboration of sensitivity on multiple nested levels. Molecules are sensitive to each other in one range of frequency and scale, cells in another, bodies in another, etc. It isn’t just a bottom-up chain of causality, it is also top-down, center-out, and outside-in, all in semi-permeable parallel channels.

As perceptual experiments have shown, what we perceive visually is not composed out of optical pixels and then approximated into an image, but are filled in dynamically from our visual projections. We are actually seeing out of our eyes, not just receiving data through them. This inverts the entire model of phenomenal consciousness as a simulation or illusion, and opens the door to a truly new frontier in interpreting physics. With space and time redefined as the masking of fundamental sense or empathy, energy is a direct apprehension of changing conditions within a particular perceptual frame of reference, as translated into every other frame of reference. The spreading or waving of that perceptual, sensory-motive change is a participatory wave, such as a crowd in a stadium makes when they synch up throwing their hands in the air. To say that this spreading of the wave has a ‘speed’ is not exactly true. All that is happening is that we are judging events which are relatively instantaneous on an individual level as a collective event on another level, so that the difference between the scale of the individual and the collective seems like time passing to the individual. Time is the relation of significant sensations across multiple frames of reference. On some level, the entire history of the universe is no more than a single moment, and on another level, every instant is almost an eternity.

What light does in the microcosm does is the same kind of thing that it does for us – it illuminates public experiences; it is ‘the news’. Space is a pantomiming of perceptual gaps between public facing, temporally contracted but spatially extended ‘surfaces’ of sensation. Those gaps, while real in any given local perceptual frame, are absent in an absolute sense. From the perspective of the absolute (and of ‘light’), space has not yet been invented. The medium which oscillates the universe into being is feeling or sense…a non-dual, zeroth order dreamsource which plays thesis to a first order antithesis of private dreamtime and a second order synthesis of public spacetime.

In this new model, “energy” is not only about work, but about play as well. Just as we have private motivations which inspire us to act publicly, and do all energies reflect private-but-sharable states of aesthetic tension. I’m suggesting that it is through this modulation of aesthetic tension that a masking/polarization is achieved, which we refer to as space and time. This would mean that it is not electromagnetic waves which travel through space and time, but rather space and time which emerges from the interference pattern of experiential waving on every level. When we say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’, that is a physical effect in which the high level (large, slow) human experience is ‘accelerating’ relative to lower level (aesthetically shallow) clock-like experiences. This may be testable in some way.

I am not suggesting that human emotions can change clock-time, to the contrary, I am saying that clocks are a very crude, one-dimensional way to measure ‘time’, and that actually time is the sequential sense of experience itself, with different types of sensory ‘ticks’ corresponding to different qualities of felt significance. There is animal time, human time, personal time, geological time, etc. It is because of the masking of awareness by scale and frequency that both cosmological and microcosmic levels of description seem impersonal and involuntary to us here on the zoological-anthropological level.

In this new sense based metaphysics (really meta-ontology), voluntary and involuntary are seen as intrinsically relativistic terms – two sides to the same coin which flips between private and public perspectives, like electric fields and magnetic fields flip according to their frame of reference. Energy is conceived of not as an immaterial wave-substance propagating literally across a vacuum of space but as felt expressions of power relations from point to point underneath public interaction. I’m saying ‘underneath’ because energy which motivates physically is an urge or force which pushes and pulls from the static instant into an arrow of time, while energy which motivates intuitively or spiritually, ‘downward’ from the ‘wheel of eternity’.

I don’t want to get too far into theological speculation, but suffice it to say that there are well known aesthetic themes within spirituality which emphasize quiet, harmonious receptivity – the still small voice, a whisper of conscience, etc. Intuition asks politely for a brief moment of our attention. Bodily functions demand our attention with drama and overwhelming intensity. This gets into what I call the multisense continuum, which I have tried to outline here in many different crazy looking diagrams and symbols. In the end, its all about representing this topology of sense, in which all experience can be reconciled non-reductively under the same schema. This is similar to what has been conceived of in many mystical and philosophical systems, but the difference is that this new synthesis attempts to correlate directly with modern scientific frameworks.

4. The Hard Problem of Consciousness: The multisense realist view of the hard problem is to recognize it as being one of several related problems, referred to collectively as the Presentation Problem:

  • Hard Problem = Why is X presented as an experience? (X = “information”, logical or physical functions, calcium waves, action potentials, information integration, etc.)
  • Explanatory Gap = How and where is presentation accomplished with respect to X?
  • Binding Problem = How are presented experiences segregated and combined with each other? How do presentations cohere?
  • Symbol Grounding = How are experiences associated with each other on multiple levels of presentation? How do presentations adhere?
  • Mind Body Problem = Why do mental and physical attributes appear aesthetically opposite to each other?

All of the above are aspects of the same issue, namely, what is a universe that is supposed to be made of intangible and deterministic forces and fields doing tricking itself into thinking that is a world of rich perception and voluntary participation? The multisense realist approach is to focus on this question of the origin of aesthetics as the real issue which modern cosmologies fail to address, rather than the red herrings of self awareness, strange loops, and the ineffability of qualia. The materialist or functionalist position typically begins by unknowingly begging the question of aesthetics, framing the debate in terms of how the role that sensations play in the life of an organism can be modeled rather than examining the phenomenal qualities of sensation themselves.

To quote David Chalmers:

  1. “In our world, there are conscious experiences.
  2. There is a logically possible world physically identical to ours, in which the positive facts about consciousness in our world do not hold.
  3. Therefore, facts about consciousness are further facts about our world, over and above the physical facts.
  4. So materialism is false.”

The facts about consciousness that he speaks of are not merely immaterial though, not just different from unconscious mechanisms, but seem remarkably like the direct antithesis of physical facts. Consciousness, the only ‘force’ in the universe which is capable of caring about anything cares not just about what things are, but about how things feel and how they seem. This is incompatible with a worldview of purely mechanical processes. If nature is limited to physical and mathematical interactions, then we marginalize our own direct experience, with its playful, pleasure seeking agendas as ‘supernatural’.

The problem with a universe which has no choice but to work the way that it does, is that there is no plausible justification for there to be any experience in it at all, let alone experiences of such a vivid and passionately real quality. Even if we allow that a physical structure which managed to reproduce itself would develop ad hoc strategies over generations to match the tests of its environment, such strategies would not be improved by the addition of metaphysical ’emergent properties’ that have no functional role or conceivable composition. The significance of the hard problem is that it points out the circular reasoning of materialistic arguments, which take the qualities of experience which motivate us to seek out or avoid material conditions as affirmation of those very qualities. Because pain hurts, we avoid conditions which cause damage to our body or species, but that does not begin to explain how experiencing pain to produce an adaptation would be useful to a biological machine which already is programmed to produce the exact same sorts of adaptations. The problem is not a technical problem, it is a problem of seeing that the big picture doesn’t make sense when we cannot account for the presentation of qualities within consciousness on their own terms. If we can’t meet our naive experience halfway, then we must start from where we are and meet science halfway instead.

5. Free Will: The presence of free will, even as an “illusion” is an even greater problem for deterministic views of nature than is even consciousness. The guiding principle of determinism is parsimony. The idea is that things just don’t happen willy-nilly, they are the consequences of strict physical or mathematical laws. Such a universe has no room for machines which present themselves with illusions of their own effectiveness. Certainly in the real world, our personal estimation of the our will’s effectiveness, and of our opportunities to exercise true freedom may not be all they are cracked up to be, however the only way that such an illusion could make sense is if believing it had real consequences.

If belief in our own free will does make a difference (and experimentally, it seems to) that can only mean that our feeling of participation is a cause of physical change as well as an effect. All arguments against free will are ultimately arguments against the possibility of participating in any kind of argument in the first place, since an argument presupposes that the participants or audience have the freedom to change their position based on the persuasiveness of reasoning. If the universe really were deterministic, debates would not exist. Instead, brains would synchronize and replicate their information based on the utility of it, with no sense of personal attachment at all.

What we actually do tend to see in debates about free will is a lot of personal attachment and strong beliefs about the meanings of words and concepts. This would be hard to explain for a bunch of brains merely rubber stamping the flow of biochemical code as it passes from synapse to synapse in the dark. People can get especially nasty in their support or denial of free will, asserting their personal opinion about it freely, and willfully, yet oblivious to the significant of the fact. This, again, would be surprising were our own opinions nothing more than conditioned reflexes taking up space in our neural network. Why should such reflexes care about whether they are characterized as voluntary or involuntary? How could such a difference even be conceptualized in a universe where the voluntary cannot be conceived other than as an epiphenomenon?

The multisense realism position on free will does away with all of the philosophical baggage of compatibilism and libertarian free will, choosing to focus not so much on the ‘freedom’, but the will of free will. Will is the thing that doesn’t make sense under determinism, and all will is free to some extent, or it is incoherent. We may be persuaded to make choices against our will, but that does not mean that there are not choices which we could make and possibilities which we could create if our circumstances allowed. I use the metaphor of the yellow light in a traffic signal to show how the determinism of red = stop and green = go, or the indeterminism of half and half are not the only options. The third option is the signal which points back to the driver directly, to awake from their automaton state of responding passively and actively seek their own counsel to determine whether to speed up, slow down, or remain at a constant speed. The yellow light means ‘caution’, and caution is another way of saying beware, or be-aware…use your public facing senses to make sense privately about the overall conditions on the road. No amount of fine tuning red and green signaling can generate the meaning of the yellow light, and in a deterministic universe of only red and green lights, a yellow light would be inconceivable, even as an ‘illusion’.

Ironically (or appropriately) multisense realism seems to require a voluntary commitment to entertain the ideas before they can make sense. It is like a Magic Eye 3D image in the sense that it is not for everyone. There is a Hermetic saying “The Lips of Wisdom Are Closed Except To The Ears of Understanding“, and this has proved true in my experience discussing these ideas. Some people get it very quickly and remark that they have been thinking along these lines all of their lives, while others will argue in circles for hours, missing every point that is made. The choice is yours, if you want use these ideas to expand your appreciation of nature in every sense, or if you want to see this as nonsense that has no purpose…both possibilities have their benefits.

Involuted Monism

I consider this model to be neither dualist nor monist, but an involuted monism in which ontology itself is seen to twist into opposites in one sense while remaining continuous in another. This means that physics is the participation in its own reflexive, “Ouroboran” relation to itself as other-than-self. The head of the ontolological snake is subjectivity, and the tail which it consumes is a range of experience, running the length of the snake from subjective to objective qualities. The involution (like a Klein bottle or Möbius strip) insures that every perspective is balanced out by what another perspective lacks, so that what private experience lacks in certainty, public experience makes up for, but at the expense of feeling and meaning. The who and they why are reflected in the snake’s tail as the what and the how.

The metaphor of light for consciousness is an ancient one, but which has enduring value. Multisense realism is the hypothesis that there is no ontological distinction between seeing, light, and the seen. A light can illuminate a room so that it appears as nothing but the surfaces of the objects that make up the room, or it can appear within that room as a concentrated source or beam of light. As a beam, white light goes from the very essence of transparency and revelation to a physical phantom of which can present itself anywhere along a continuum of transparency, from translucent, to opaque, to blinding. Splitting the beam against its own reflection reveals the visible spectrum – pure color in a sensible order of softly quantized hues. There is a linear continuum, a wheel, trinities and quadruplicities, octaves. It’s a great symbol for nature as a multisense realism since there is sensible structure as well as the direct aesthetic relation of color, vision, optics standing in for sense, multiplicity, and realism.

Other views:

How does multisense realism differ from other philosophies or theories of everything?

  • Eliminative Materialism: Eliminativism relies on an unacknowledged expectation of emergent phenomena while maintaining that these emergent phenomena still reduce to physics. This is understandable given that we are always looking through consciousness rather than at it, so it is tempting to construct a view where consciousness itself simply isn’t there. Matter which cannot be defined in any sensory modality whatsoever – which can never be touched or seen or known in any way can hardly be said to ‘exist’ in any meaningful way…and if it did, then we would not need any sense organs to detect that existence. A universe of eliminative materialism has nothing to feel or care about, so it is hard to justify caring about it.
  • Idealism: MSR can be considered an idealist philosophy, as far as it recognizes that a Neutral Monism is ultimately a way of making sense of matter as a sensible alternative to mind…which is a mental distinction to make. Because this hypothesis turns the tables on materialism from the start, and sees matter as a kind of universal, low level sensory experience, there is much common ground with idealism. Where MSR departs from idealism is in the solipsistic implications of a universe in which matter is not-really-real. Matter is as real as anything ever could be, but realism itself is a quality of dense sensory accumulation. While MSR does not rule out spiritual or mystical experiences which transcend the ordinary, it predicts that such experiences are proportional to their privacy, so that attempts to present them publicly will tend to be distorted so as to conserve the mystery (secrecy, privacy). There are implications for psychology here, and a mapping of psychotic and autistic states to locations on the multisense continuum.
  • Dual Aspect: Dual aspect is another close cousin of MSR. The idea of symmetry and duality is very much apparent in a lot of the diagrams and graphics that I’ve put together, however I do not see material and ideal qualities as a duality so much as a continuum which is, like the spectrum, light, and seeing, a much more nuanced relation which presents multiple aspects, and novel aspect creation.
  • Substance Dualism: Descartes theory of mind and body as separate realms ran into trouble when it came time to figure out how the two realms interact. MSR gets around this by doing away with ‘the mind’ and ‘the body’ in favor of a continuum of private aesthetic qualities and contra-aesthetic public qualities. Seeing color is more private than seeing an object that others can see. Feeling an emotion is more private than seeing a color (you can’t paint a house ‘angry’).
  • Property Dualism/Emergentism: More or less a hedge against the strong assertion of separate realms, property dualism can either run as an idealist or materialist view, but usually is seen as the latter, with matter playing the role of primary substance, and qualities of experience emerging as a property of its function. MSR really turns property dualism inside out, so that properties themselves are called into question and structure is understood to be the product of experiential qualities rather than the other way around. If nothing else, MSR is a strong statement against emergence, and property dualism relies on emergence.
  • Theism: There is quite a bit of overlap between MSR and many theistic traditions, such as Kabbalah, Neoplatonism, Sufi, Vedanta, and others. While I intentionally use terms like Aesthetic Foundation, or Primordial Identity Pansensitivity to avoid preconceptions associated with spiritual terms, I do not object to people thinking of it as God. Just as no theory could predict what blue would look like in a universe that had no blue, I can’t claim to know whether the Absolute frame of reference is more like a luminous being, or more like the Taiji, a “Supreme Ultimate” state of undifferentiated absolute and infinite potentiality.” All that I can say is that I don’t logically see a reason why the absolute would or should define itself as a self, or as anything other than the spectrum of total consciousness. For that reason, I consider MSR ‘ambi-theistic’, in that the personal, self like qualities of the totality and the impersonal-unbounded qualities of the totality may be tessellated as well. We may contribute to the teleology or mechanism of the universe as whole through our direct participation.
  • Computationalism/Simulation Theory: I have said of Computational Theory of Mind that it is almost 100% correct, but that makes it 180 degrees wrong on the most important issue. There’s a lot of debating that I have participated in on this subject, because I reject Strong AI on the grounds that exteriors cannot be assembled to generate interiors. CTM is, in my understanding, a very seductive oversight of the difference between map and territory, so that what is most authentic and proprietary is miscast as that which is most illusory and generic. Ultimately CTM is a case of the intellect chasing its tail, looking for the alchemical code for gold in the lead of recursive enumeration…which is the true imposter. The reason why the two greatest threats to computing worldwide are security and intellectual property rights stem from the same property that makes computation powerful: It is intrinsically generic. Like plastic or television, computation can present itself as an imitation of other things, but all that it ever is by itself is digital switches following a programmed pattern. The argument from CTM is that what we see of the brain looks much like a computer, however, it does not take into account the effect that seeing a brain from outside of itself, through a body’s eyes is not a neutral view. In my estimation, the brain is already a perceptual reduction…we are seeing only a momentary cross section of a human life, and seeing it as an animal sees it, like an organ. That may not be what human consciousness is at all, but rather the brain is more like a glove through which we encounter the universe as a human being’s life. The brain is an inflection point or event horizon of many levels of sensation, but it is only the outermost level which can be detected by physical instruments.

This is one of the first diagrams that I made to try to capture the overall picture of how all major features of the cosmos can smoothly fit together. The multisense continuum runs from the extremes of private sensation and public existence.


Multisense Realism departs from convention about spacetime as a physical or topological fabric. Instead of a curved four dimensional spacetime, the idea is that physical laws, space and time are localized by sensory modulations. Space and time are emergent from consciousness.

Space is the sense of how multiple bodies or forms are divided and united.

Time is the sense of how experiences seem to be divided on some levels while remaining united on others. Time is not position, not the coordinates of hands on a clock or calendar, but it can be inferred through the dispositions of the hands relative to each other. Time is both an ongoing duration (on and on) and an oscillation or repetition of similar experiences (again and again).

See also: Overview on Quora

TSC Science of Consciousness Retrospective

July 3, 2021 Leave a comment



40 The Elephant in Every Room: A Proposed Theory of Multisense Realism

Craig Weinberg

Multisense realism defines a new approach to bridge the Explanatory Gap between neurological observation and first hand conscious experience. This is a hypothesis of consciousness, elementary physics, and ultimately cosmology which requires no belief in non-ordinary reality yet which honors the full spectrum of the psyche and self. It consists of new interpretations of established scientific and common sense observations rather than a contradiction of them. It is proposed that consciousness, rather than being either a metaphysical epiphenomenon of matter, or a Cartesian dualism alongside matter, is more like a frequency range within a continuous spectrum which includes both subjective and objective phenomena. Rather than a simple graduated continuum like the electromagnetic spectrum, it should be conceived of as an ‘involuted continuum’ which twists into an interior and exterior topology like a Möbius strip. The common denominator (the strip) is the sense which arises from through symmetry, similarity, circuity, and divergence between the various nested perspectives on interiority and exteriority. Sense is the underlying primitive. That is what the cosmos, and we ourselves are “made of’”. Not mind or matter, but the capacity for the two to be both separate in one sense and the same thing in another. Sense is a universal dance of presentation and representation. Without either subject or object – there cannot be a sense of ‘reality’ or realism. Realism arises from this involuted continuum between opposite ontological expressions.


Slide Deck: The Elephant in Every Room



23 Consciousness: Intrinsic, Primordial, Multisense Realism

Craig Weinberg (, Durham, NC)

Multisense Realism (MSR) is philosophical hypothesis which is intended to pick up where panpsychism leaves off. Consisting of an informal framework of core concepts developed from diverse influences such as semiotics, information theory, and anthropology, MSR proposes a united continuum of physics and phenomenology which is fundamentally aesthetic. MSR addresses five problems (The Hard Problem of Consciousness, The Explanatory Gap, The Combination or Binding Problem, The Symbol Grounding Problem, and the Mind Body Symmetry Problem) as a single Presentation Problem, while exposing critical flaws in popular competing approaches. MSR aspires to be a reality theory which reconciles the plausible and the absurd under the umbrella of a single irreducible synthetic a priori, and in the process reinterprets the number one, the Big Bang, and the ontology of light.

I don’t have a digital copy of my poster for 2014, but I did get this cool souvenir poster signed by a lot of great people:



47 Diffractivity and Multisense Continuum

Craig Weinberg (, Durham, NC )

In the science of consciousness, one question that we must eventually ask is, What is the event horizon of consciousness? Where does the rubber hit the road? Are all sensations, feelings and thoughts derived from a common source? Many theories offer ways to correlate consciousness with formal systems such as neurology or information processing, but the accomplishment of correlation itself is taken for granted from the start. I think that this is a problem which turns out to be identical to the Hard Problem. Without an explanation of precisely what is doing the actual relating in Relativity or the actual integrating in IIT, we have not solved the problem, only hidden it from ourselves. The hypothesis of Diffractivity begins by rejecting emergence-based theories on the grounds that they provide no explanation for their own origin. Diffractivity inverts the assumption of an unconscious universe which produces consciousness so that it is the appearance of unconsciousness which is proportional to dissociation by insensitivity. Diffractivity is intended as a philosophical conjugate to Relativity, but it can be adapted to any theory which reduces to a formal system. In Hameroff and Penroses Orch OR, the Diffractivistic conjugate to the Objective Reduction would be a Subjective Inflation. In Tononi & Kochs IIT, Information Integration would be preceded an Aesthetic Disintegration. Bohms Implicate and Explicate Order would be diffracted from the order-transcending Multisense Continuum. Any system based on structures, including mathematics and logic, would find new roots beyond formality and extend to fusion with the Continuum. This is not intended as an appeal to supernatural metaphysics but a logical extension of the proposition of ordinary sense as fundamental. By grounding all substances and conditions into a foundation which is purely aesthetic, we gain insight into the philosophical and technological issues of the 21st century. The empirical observations of science and math remain the same, only their interpretation changes. Diffractivity proposes that objects, dreamed or real, are produced by the same filtering, but with a different scale of experiential density or significance. Time and space emerge as limits on awareness rather than axioms of existence. We can see and understand white light as a colorless brightness which reveals color through diffraction of light itself. Diffractivity proposes that all phenomena are fragments of a universal experience, and that the maximum degree of fragmentation within any given frame of perception constitutes its math and physics. Electromagnetic effects would be affects of effectiveness, in the same way that light is a seeing of seen-ness. What we experience as physics, chemistry, and biology is suggested to emerge from fundamental levels of diffraction. Our sense of subjectivity provides a limited unveiling, or re-acquaintance with that which has been alienated by time, space, and entropy, giving the brain a new identity as an aesthetic diffraction engine.

Diffractivity slide deck




68 The Hard Problem of Signaling.

Craig Weinberg (, Durham, NC )

As we struggle to understand consciousness scientifically, we should take care to avoid errors resulting from anthropomorphic projection and assumptions of bottom-up emergence. My presentation focuses on clarifying the differences between physical form, logical information, and sense experience. I propose that common terms such as ‘signaling’ and ‘sense data’ are deceiving approximations which rely on pan-semiotic, anthropomorphic biases that lead us away from understanding and toward an echo-chamber of fallacies and false presumptions. What is the difference between a physical chain reaction and a signal? What is the difference between sense experience and sense-making? What is the role of tangibility in differentiating between objects, concepts, and percepts, and what is the origin of tangibility? In light of the accelerated pace of AI development and the heightened intensity of debate about its implications, it is important to go back and re-examine the foundations of computation from a philosophical perspective. By doing this, at least some of us will see that science and technology have not solved the hard problem of consciousness, only miniaturized it to the point that it can be easily overlooked. In my view, recognizing this mistake and the gravity of its consequences is critical to any deep understanding of consciousness or simulated intelligence systems. Without such a deep understanding, I think that we will tend to assume human or superhuman sentience for any unfamiliar results, and to ultimately cede authority to systems which only reflect our own desires for certainty and leadership. C13

Hard Problem of Signaling slide deck

2019 Interlaken, Switzerland


  1. De-Simulating Natural Intelligence
    Craig Weinberg,
    In recent years, scientific and popular imagination has been captured by the idea that
    what we experience directly is a neuro-computational simulation. At the same time,
    there is a contradictory idea that some things that we experience, such as the existence
    of brains and computers, are real enough to allow us to create fully conscious and intelligent devices. This presentation will try to explain where this logic breaks down, why
    true intelligence may never be generated artificially, and why that is good news. Recent
    studies have suggested that human perception is not as limited as previously thought,
    and that while machines can do many things better than we can, becoming conscious
    may not be one of them. The approach taken here can be described as a Variable Aspect
    Monism or Multisense Realism, and it seeks to clarify the relationship between physical
    form, logical function, and aesthetic participation.



Abstract Submission

December 10, 2015 Leave a comment

For the Science of Consciousness Conference 2016

Abstract Title: Diffractivity and Multisense Continuum
Primary Topic Area: [01.03]……..Panpsychism, neutral monism, and idealism
Secondary Topic Area: [01.08]……..The “hard problem” and the explanatory gap
Abstract: In the science of consciousness, one question that we must eventually ask is, What is the event horizon of consciousness? Where does the rubber hit the road? Are all sensations, feelings and thoughts derived from a common source? Many theories offer ways to correlate consciousness with formal systems such as neurology or information processing, but the accomplishment of correlation itself is taken for granted from the start. I think that this is a problem which turns out to be identical to the Hard Problem. Without an explanation of precisely what is doing the actual relating in Relativity or the actual integrating in IIT, we have not solved the problem, only hidden it from ourselves. The hypothesis of Diffractivity begins by rejecting emergence-based theories on the grounds that they provide no explanation for their own origin. Diffractivity inverts the assumption of an unconscious universe which produces consciousness so that it is the appearance of unconsciousness which is proportional to dissociation by insensitivity. Diffractivity is intended as a philosophical conjugate to Relativity, but it can be adapted to any theory which reduces to a formal system. In Hameroff and Penrose’s Orch OR, the Diffractivistic conjugate to the Objective Reduction would be a Subjective Inflation. In Tononi & Koch’s IIT, Information Integration would be preceded an Aesthetic Disintegration. Bohm’s Implicate and Explicate Order would be diffracted from the order-transcending Multisense Continuum.

Any system based on structures, including mathematics and logic, would find new roots beyond formality and extend to fusion with the Continuum. This is not intended as an appeal to supernatural metaphysics but a logical extension of the proposition of ordinary sense as fundamental. By grounding all substances and conditions into a foundation which is purely aesthetic, we gain insight into the philosophical and technological issues of the 21st century. The empirical observations of science and math remain the same, only their interpretation changes. Diffractivity proposes that objects, dreamed or real, are produced by the same filtering, but with a different scale of experiential density or significance. Time and space emerge as limits on awareness rather than axioms of existence. We can see and understand white light as a colorless brightness which reveals color through diffraction of light itself. Diffractivity proposes that all phenomena are fragments of a universal experience, and that the maximum degree of fragmentation within any given frame of perception constitutes its math and physics. Electromagnetic effects would be affects of effectiveness, in the same way that light is a seeing of seen-ness. What we experience as physics, chemistry, and biology is suggested to emerge from fundamental levels of diffraction. Our sense of subjectivity provides a limited unveiling, or re-acquaintance with that which has been alienated by time, space, and entropy, giving the brain a new identity as an aesthetic diffraction engine.
Other Authors:
Key words: consciousness;metaphysics;panpsychism;philosophy of mind;semiotics;sensation;perception;qualia;hard problem;multisense realism;instrinsic consciousness
Publishing Organization:

Hyper-Mentalism and Supernatural Belief

May 24, 2015 2 comments

This article from Psychology Today, Hyper-Mentalism, Hyper-Empathizing, and Supernatural Belief, talks about the diametric model’s explanation of the psychotic end of the autistic-psychotic spectrum.

“To use an analogy, the diametric model implies that we live in parallel mentalistic and mechanistic universes, with mental causality ruling the first and physical causality the second. Religious, superstitious, and magical thinking clearly represent an encroachment of the mental world on the real one in the form of belief in divine creation, miracles, the power of prayers and spells, and so on. Indeed, as I pointed out in an earlier post, you could see traditional religion and superstition as the result of a primeval mentalistic inflation which hyper-mentalized the real world, in part because mechanistic understanding of it in the form of modern science, medicine, and technology had not had time to develop. Furthermore, you could also see this as the paradigmatic historical case of a “combination of strong mentalizing coupled with poor understanding of the physical world.”

In my view, this is very close to the hypothesis that has been developed under the Multisense Continuum or ACME/OMMM model.

The diametric model deserves more attention, in my view, however I think that the assumptions behind the model are themselves biased toward the systemizing/mechanistic end of the spectrum. Note the language in the quote above: “Religious, superstitious, and magical thinking clearly represent an encroachment of the mental world on the real one“. Highly subjective states are identified as being intrinsically unreal rather than being an extension of nature and reality. The end of that quote shows another good example of the mechanistic worldview, associating superstition with “poor understanding of the physical world.” I would not deny that there are many people who do suffer from a poor understanding of the physical world and compensate for that to some extent with magical thinking, however, that correlation does not always hold true. Many people, such as myself, embrace the physical world and have an excellent understanding of it, yet see that behind and beyond mechanistic appearances are also more subtle natural phenomena. It is not that the psychotic is poorly equipped for reality, it is more like reality poorly equipped to contain psychotic hyper-sensitivities. This is not to say that paranoid schizophrenics are right about the content of their delusions, only that the form of paranoid delusions reflect (in a distorted way) the transpersonal territory of the psyche.

In the short article linked above, the author makes the distinction between his diametric model and “Simon Baron-Cohen’s rival scheme, which has systemizing versus empathizing instead of the diametric model’s mechanistic versus mentalistic cognitive dualism”. Here again, the distinction between empathizing and mentalistic is itself a mechanizing/systemizing distinction. Both the diametric model and empathizing-systemizing model label the ‘feminine’ side in terms of a personal function. The former sees empathy as a cognitive skill, while the latter seems to suggest that it is overdeveloped empathy which interferes with the correct application of cognitive skills. In both cases, the bias of contemporary academic science shows through: Extraordinary awareness which conflicts with consensus reality is a defect.

This bias is not surprising, nor is it even a negative if we are trying to get a handle on human psychology for purposes of treatment. The problem that I see, is that it closes the door on the deeper dimensions of psyche and fails to take seriously the implications of consciousness transcending classical physics. Once we do take a scientifically objective look at these implications, I think that we wind up with a theory of order and participation in the universe which is not limited to human psychology but extends beyond physics, information science, philosophy, and religion: A new scientific cosmology based on sense phenomena.


The Holo-solo-meta-sema-graphic Principle

February 21, 2015 1 comment


Think of the multisense continuum as a clarification of the holographic principle. What people often mean by holographic when ascribing it to the universe as a whole is something like ‘The Universe is not really real, but is a Matrix-like projection in which the totality is reflected in each part.’ If we ignore that theory for a moment and examine the linguistic origins of the word holographic instead, there are some worthwhile tie-ins to Multisense Realism. MSR is a way of stretching out this concept of holography, so that the extent to which it seems holographic is part of the hologram. Realism is not a fixed, absolute foundation, but an aesthetic quality of orientation. Realism is not a neutral designation of that which is factual versus that which is not, but also has a set of qualities, almost a personality which opposes the fantastic qualities of imagination, dreams, and psychosis. Where the aesthetics of fantasy are typically saturated, vivid, or florid, realism is relatively bland or rigid. Realism supports rigorous logic and causality. A graph can be thought of as the essence of realism in a way – not reality itself, but the mapping of the mappable aspects of reality…a realistic approach to realism.

Notice that holos and graph are polarized. They aren’t simple opposites where graph = parts and holos = whole, although graphing does break wholes into regular parts, but there is also a sense of a graph is of a static mental resource; an object or so called rigid body which we use to index information. A graph is a chart.* By contrast, holos is the uncharted and boundless context which does not respect strict divisions.

Holos means whole, but if you look up the etymology of hologram there is something interesting:

hologram (n.)1949, coined by Hungarian-born British scientist Dennis Gabor (Gábor Dénes), 1971 Nobel prize winner in physics for his work in holography; from Greek holos “whole” (in sense of three-dimensional; see safe (adj.)) + -gram.”

So holos doubles as a term that has something to do with feeling ‘safe’:

safe (adj.) c.1300, “unscathed, unhurt, uninjured; free from danger or molestation, in safety, secure; saved spiritually, redeemed, not damned;” from Old French sauf “protected, watched-over; assured of salvation,” from Latin salvus “uninjured, in good health, safe,” related to salus “good health,” saluber “healthful,” all from PIE *solwos from root *sol- “whole” (cognates: Latin solidus “solid,” Sanskrit sarvah “uninjured, intact, whole,” Avestan haurva- “uninjured, intact,” Old Persian haruva-, Greek holos “whole”). “

This root sense of wholeness as safety, solidity, health, healing, etc is the natural anchor of anchors…the foundational aesthetic (of the aesthetic foundation). All experiences in all possible universes must begin from this un-locused locus. Un-locused because it precedes its own definition or observation. The baby at the boob has no frame of reference, no learning process to understand the importance of nutrition or survival – there is only to appreciate the experience of being re-connected to the womb’s holos in a new and disorienting context…What is this context?

-graph modern word-forming element meaning “instrument for recording; that which marks or describes; something written,” from Greek -graphos “-writing, -writer” (as in autographos “written with one’s own hand”), from graphe “writing, the art of writing, a writing,” from graphein “to write, express by written characters,” earlier “to draw, represent by lines drawn” (see -graphy). Adopted widely (Dutch -graaf, German -graph, French -graphe, Spanish -grafo). Related: -grapher; -graphic; -graphical.”

Compared with holos, -graph is a very different kind of term. Where holos is a rich and profound metaphor, -graph is a relatively prosaic and literal term about something in the real world…writing or recording. Holos is an appreciation of primordial safety; an orientation to a frame of reference which is absolute and beyond thought. Once someone is born into a human life or an animal’s life, this holos is buried in a cocoon of defenses which face the anti-holos of spacetime and physics and the sense that was formerly whole is averaged out as

“sole (adj.) “single, alone, having no husband or wife; one and only, singular, unique,” late 14c., from Old French soul “only, alone, just,” from Latin solus “alone, only, single, sole; forsaken; extraordinary,” of unknown origin, perhaps related to se “oneself,” from PIE reflexive root *swo- (see so).”

As a sole individual in a physical world, we have developed ways to re-connect with each other. Some of them are ways of reconnecting to our shared history as mammals and primates, and some, like writing are more recent human inventions. The idea of writing is to inscribe a thin stream of thought into physics, into spacetime so that others can recreate it in their local experience. It’s a bridge, a trans-fer or meta-phor, which means carrying over of feeling or meanings. What is the carrier?

semaphore (n.)”apparatus for signaling,” 1816, probably via French sémaphore, literally “a bearer of signals,” ultimately from Greek sema “sign, signal” (see semantic) + phoros “bearer,” from pherein “to carry” (see infer). Related: Semaphoric (1808).”

The sema- or sign is a recontextualized piece of the world. We use it to passively bear our sharing of communication, as an insulator would bear a conducting wire, or a conducting wire would bear an electromagnetic flux. There are layers of nesting which span the continuum from holos to solus to meta to sema to graph.

Wholeness to self to likeness to sign to signed. The distance between our human self and the ‘signed’ or ‘graphed’ physical world is what gives that physical world its gravitas…its grave realism. Mortality adds a layer of biological gravity…the signs which threaten the self of the experience of life. The closer that a given phenomenon is to the whole, the more it is metaphorical and self-referential.

Once we grasp this continuum, we can see how subjective and objective phenomena are an elaboration of a theme of awareness and degrees of alienation from the whole. We can go into more advanced areas of understanding the continuum and see that while the graph end of sense reflects in micro the holos itself, it is only a reflection and has no generative power of its own. Even though we locally experience a tension between the holos and graph which seem equal, or even overpowered by physics, that is only because of how deeply our human experience is nested within billions of sensations, feelings, and thoughts since the beginning of spacetime.

In the absolute frame of reference, all is consumed by, with, and for holos. The graph appearance, and even the holographic principle is the local view of the self’s experience of being alienated. It’s a compromise between Descartes’ substance dualism and Eastern/perennial philosophy’s holism, but it is still fixed in the Cartesian graph of spacetime and Newton’s mechanics of mass and energy. We imagine that each physical particle is a packet containing a ghost of the whole, but I think that it now makes more sense to say that it is the particle itself which is, in the absolute frame or reference, more like the ghost. It’s relativistic, but all relation traces back to the orientation of the absolute. There is no orientation derived purely from disorientation, which is why we cannot build a sign or a self or a holos from a machine (graph).

*Descartes, whose family name means ‘of the charts’, and also can be associated with the French word charteus, meaning pertaining to papyrus/paper has an interesting connection to the role of Rene Descartes in developing the digital view of space in terms of Cartesian coordinates. Cards, charts and papers refer to objects which carry meaning – blank vehicles to be used either as a container for metaphor, or as the medium of choice for a stream of digital semaphores. The critical place that Descartes holds in the development of the Early Modern Period, cannot be overstated. In his 1641 Meditations, Descartes divided the cosmos, for better or worse, into mind and matter (res cogitans and res extensa), paving the way for Newton, Leibniz and others to see physics as an expression of precise mathematical truths. The Enlightenment Era marks the Western world’s separation from perennial, Eastern philosophy and the discovery of a new, Cartesian world of purely mechanical objects. The card, or graph aspect of the cosmos is seen as the new orientation, a counter-aesthetic to one which assumes theistic holos. The Western counter-aesthetic of modernism questions the beliefs of the past, asserting instead that the natural world is innocent of religious enchantment until proven otherwise.

The Autistic-Psychotic Spectrum of Metaphysical Ontology

August 31, 2014 4 comments

My recent interest in the autism theories of Simon Baron-Cohen, Crespi and Badcock has given me a new way of describing what I call the Multisense Continuum. My interest in the autism work is not so much in the literal interpretation of these theories, but in the themes that the theories tie into. Whether or not autism is caused by high fetal testosterone or selection pressure for ‘maternal resources’ is not my interest personally, and my instinct is that these are ultimately regressive approaches that can be too easily politicized.

What I am interested in, however, is the continuum itself. The concept of autism, not as it really is; a complex set of possible traits related to social development, language, interests, etc, but as a stereotype. The themes of autism and the way those themes can be juxtaposed against the themes of psychosis diametrically are, in my view, the keys to understanding consciousness, and by extension, all of nature. This may sound like an idea which is both psychotic and autistic…and that would make perfect sense.

What I am saying is that the entire universe and the fabric of every part of the universe are fundamentally rooted in the same thematic spectrum as these theories. Physics is the autistic spectrum of the universe, and subjectivity is its psychotic spectrum.

Here are some other ways to look at it:

Unnatural > Natural < Supernatural

In this simple version, the left side would be the autistic side, called ‘unnatural’ to reflect the atomized, mechanical aesthetic of the cosmos. Repetition and isolation are highlighted. Each part a discrete object connected to other objects through highly systemized, literal links.

The right side (and I always put the subjective side on the right or “East” side as it is the “orienting” side) would be the psychotic side, called ‘supernatural’ to reflect the irrational, mystical, and divine connotations of delusional and psychedelic states. I think that people who have experienced bipolar shifts from mania to depression might agree that they correspond to a transition from personal identification with the divine to a divine disillusionment or abandonment. Psychedelic trips also famously follow this supernatural ‘Heaven and Hell’ amplification of what would ordinarily be the simple highs and lows of mood. Moods swing up and down, but they also swing left and right, from saturated, floridly supernatural hallucinations to flat, utilitarian execution on the left.
This is not to say that all supernatural experiences are ‘hallucinations’ or that all unnatural influences are devoid of empathy, only that this is what the universe is doing with itself…oscillating and tessellating through this spectrum, expanding it in ever more elaborate ways.

A semiotic way of expressing it might be:

Semaphoric > Morphic || Phoric < Metaphoric

On the left*, I am using a neologism “semaphoric” to make the connection with deflating the broad, poetic sensibility of loose metaphorical association to the precisely defined, mathematical sensibility of codes and logic. Semaphores are flags, like digits or cards** which are used for making compressing information and making it unambiguous. Semaphoric sensibility is bottom up, building complex communication from binary or quantized alphabets.

The center (Natural) section is bifurcated here into the Morphic and Phoric, referring to form and feeling respectively. Form could be geometric objects in space or functional steps in time while feeling would be the appreciation of and participation in sensory experience which may or may not be attached to logical objects/functions. The double pipe (“||”) emphasizes a fold in the continuum, since the inflection point at which the morphological counter-aesthetic of bodies in spacetime and the native, ‘phoric’ aesthetic of experiences-qualia within itself is one of diametric opposition. The flavor of apple pie is not only nothing like the structure of organic chemistry, it is the opposite ontological expression

On the right, ‘metaphoric’ refers to the sensibility which is anchored in the firmament of collective experience. Just as the semaphoric bumps up against a minimum limit of binary logic, the metaphoric branches out into a kind of unification of infinity…a maximum holism. Here, the logic of space and quantity breaks down entirely, as all of history is fused into pool of potential inspiration and meaning. Fantasy is intrinsic to all experience, including the fantasy of escaping fantasy entirely.

Autism > Systemizing || Empathizing < Psychosis

So yeah, this is the human personal version of the Multisense continuum in my view. The extremes of autism would map to my category of OMMM (Only Material Matters Matter) and ACME (Anything Can Mean Everything) would map to the Bipolar/Schizophrenia category. There are endless other ways of expressing this, and I did not even get into how the spectrum ‘wraps around’ so that left and right ends can be seen as the center, but that works also (instead of a diametric “||” there would be an evanescent …… linkage for the ‘Ouroboran’ wrap around).

My hunch is that this spectrum can be formalized for scientific purposes, and that the systemizing and empathizing functions can be understood in ontological terms. The pound sign # and the asterisk * can even be a clue, or perhaps 🙂  < *

* left is also Western-Occidental, counter to default orientation.

**Descartes, interestingly, was so named because of ‘cartes’, or charts that he used to explain his theories, theories which ushered in the Enlightenment era of Cartesian coordinates, through which space and time were digitally quantified.

Trial Epilogue on MSR

May 10, 2014 2 comments

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

Privilege and Privacy

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Orch OR, Penrose, and Fermat’s Last Theorem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Global Workspace Theory

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

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


What’s Next?

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


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

Is ‘consciousness’ merely another ‘spectrum’ we haven’t yet unraveled?

March 31, 2014 Leave a comment

I sometimes wonder if ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ or ‘enlightenment’ might be terms which relate to a “spectrum” similar to the light, sound, and other ‘spectrums’ we’re familiar with.

Perhaps our “level of understanding” can only attain to certain depths (or heights, depending how we perceive it) because of limitations we have not yet learned how to effectively overcome for purposes of studying and evaluating?

Perhaps there IS a ‘spirit world’ all around is…a ‘quantum-shifted-world’ that we’re just not ‘tuned into’ because our brains cannot yet deal with such things?

What do YOU think?

Yes, I do think that consciousness can be described in terms of a fundamental spectrum from which all other physical and functional phenomena are derived. I call it the multisense continuum and unlike other phenomena with fixed relation, the continuum of sense is interactively relativistic as well as relativistically absolute. This sounds confusing, but think of it like an ambiguous image:


While the image is absolute in the sense that it reliably offers the opportunity to encounter two mutually exclusive visual interpretations, but relativistic in that the viewer of the image is not merely an observer, but a participant on guiding their encounter. It is not a subjective confabulation, but rather a demonstration of how objectivity itself is not what it seems…or that subjectivity is not a reliable measurement of objects. In this way, the ambiguous image leads to an ambiguous interpretation, through which one can confirm their own expectations about either the permeability of reality to consciousness, the fallibility of perception, or both.

If we model the spectrum of consciousness, I would give this polarization of ambiguity in which either the inner or outer frame of reference is assumed to be the fundamental anchor and the opposing frame is assumed to be ‘illusory’ to some extent the role of ‘frequency’. To keep it simple, we could talk about the frequency as the X axis, so that high frequency is more ‘outer’, inclusive of more bodies in public space and the low frequency is more interior, describing amplitudes of private feeling and meaning. The high frequency range can be thought of as an Intelligence space (which I label as ‘Western’ public knowledge) and the low frequency range can be thought of as an orienting hierarchy of private wisdom (the ‘Oriental’ range).

I suggest that there is an inverse relation between the two ranges, so that the higher the frequency, the lower the amplitude. This means that the more distant two perspectives are, the more they are limited to a reduced, mechanized picture of each other. When we fly over a city, for example, we see people and cars from a more detached perspective. It seems possible to me that this relativity of perception through which personal identification is framed, is part of the deepest fabric of the universe, and is in fact responsible for the appearance of the difference between matter and ‘mind’ (subjectivity).

In this way, objectivity itself becomes a relativistic parameter, something like a Lorentz transformation. Adding distance to your perspective increases the frequency and lowers the amplitude of mutual perception so that consciousness is ‘objectified’. Matter is not created, but filtered from nested layers of perception. Within any local inertial frame, there is no matter or objects. We, as human beings, are a very elaborate case, in that our selfhood is a vast window of many frequency bands, so that we have tiered sensation. Visual imagination is more object-like than verbal-cognitive thought, and thought is more object like than emotions and intuition. In the core of our subjectivity however, is that which occupies no dimension, as it observes both spaces and times from a fixed inner ‘eye’.

This eye, having the lowest local frequency can be understood to be the proxy for the absolute lowest frequency, which would I would describe somewhat mystically as one in which eternity must pass before even a single wave cycle can by completed. I suggest that this low frequency range offers the highest amplitude possibilities. Amplitude can be used to distinguish the inner from the outer frequencies as well. On the Western side, high and low amplitude are embodied literally as cosmic and microcosmic scale ranges, and as directions of spin. Amplitude in this sense is associated with magnetic permeability and gravity. On the Oriental side, amplitude is associated with hierarchies of aesthetic prestige. By that I mean the difference between a pawn and a King, and between bad and good, better and best.

The low frequency amplitudes are ‘moving’ from the inside out. The model of chakras used in yogic practice is one of many tree-of-life models of what I am calling here the amplitude of human consciousness. With consciousness, we are talking about sensory-motive capacity, so that a high amplitude consciousness implies both a high quality of sensory affect and a highly effective motivation. Higher positive amplitudes motivate from acceptance and inspiration, while high negative amplitudes motivate from urgent compulsion. There is a connection here with mortality as well, as the highly ‘negative’ states are rooted in the desires of the body and of the selfish ego. The ‘positive’ states are supposed to be motivated by gentle, patient influences which waft upward toward the eternal.

Even though the kind of Lorentz frame relation that I described earlier makes it harder to know whether a snail’s awareness just seems low compared to ours because of our ‘distance’ from them, I prefer to think that there is also an absolute dimension to consciousness in addition to the relativistic effect which makes human life more aesthetically rich and significant than that of a snail. The alternative would be more radically anthropic, in which every species enjoys a universe that features them at center stage. That view could conceivably be possible, but it has implications that seem likely to be very dangerous.

If the high/low frequency divide determines whether phenomena are encountered directly as inner sensations or sensed through the body as separate bodies, the high/low amplitude divide determines whether phenomena are valued highly or rejected. For human beings, we tend to place ourselves above other species of animals, and animals above insects and plants. High end states of being are considered ‘high class’ or ‘high and mighty’; celebrities, heroes, monarchs, spiritual entities etc. Even the self (itself) transforms along with the amplitude which it conveys, so that low amplitude version is like an animal ‘eye’, the mid-range is a human ‘I’, and the high end is third eye or ‘aye’ – a connection with transcendent or divine states of awareness and acceptance.


This layout is just a rough speculation of course. I find parallels with electromagnetism here that make me think that a more formal connection with physics could be made. In that case, I would not insist that frequency or amplitude be applied literally – they could be reversed, or even set liminocentrically so that high-low frequencies or high-low amplitudes could serve as the contrast to mid-range frequency-amplitudes instead.

Profound Edge and Pedestrian Fold

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Profound Edge and Pedestrian Fold – Two conceptual meridians within the multisense continuum which are opposing midway points between subjectivity and objectivity. The pedestrian fold is what occurs ‘in front of our face’ as perceptions in a world of social human interaction. The profound fold is what might occur ‘behind our backs’ during extraordinary states of consciousness where personal experience seems fused with the Absoute, either directly as a mystical experience, or indirectly through understanding of complex mathematics. The contrast of ‘edge’ and ‘fold’ is intentional, as the former connotes a twilight or occult transition from private to public, while the latter is presented as a matter of fact.

Oriental vs Western

November 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Oriental vs Western – The accidental convention of using the right side for subjective phenomena and the left side for objective phenomena in mapping the multisense continuum turned out to have some interesting etymological and anthropological significance. The use of the term Western to relate to pragmatic, scientific, and commercial outlooks contrasts with stereotypically mysterious ‘Eastern” philosophy gives an unexpected cultural context to Philosophy of Mind. There is a cognitive connection which relates East to the sunrise and to orientation as well. By using Orient vs Western instead of Oriental vs Occidental, the intention is to amplify the split between traditional and modern. The story of modernism has been a Westward migration geographically, and metaphorically to the ‘Left”, toward objectified physics and deconstruction of the self.

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