A striking feature of language is that it is modality-independent. Should an impaired child be prevented from hearing or producing sound, its innate capacity to master a language may equally find expression in signing […]
This feature is extraordinary. Animal communication systems routinely combine visible with audible properties and effects, but not one is modality independent. No vocally impaired whale, dolphin or songbird, for example, could express its song repertoire equally in visual display. “
This would be hard to explain if consciousness were due to information processing, as we would expect all communication to share a common logical basis. The fact that only human language is modality invariant suggests that communication, as an expression of consciousness is local to aesthetic textures rather than information-theoretic configurations.
Since only humans have evolved to create an abstraction layer that cuts across aesthetic modalities, it would appear that between aesthetic modality and information content, aesthetic modality is the more fundamental and natural phenomenon. Information is derived from conscious presentation, not the other way around.
Here is an example to help illustrate what I think is the relationship between information and qualia that makes the most sense.
Here I am using the delta (Δ) to denote “difference”, n to mean “numbers” or information, kappa for aesthetic “kind” or qualia, and delta n degree (Δn°) for “difference in degree”.
The formula on top means “The difference between numbers and aesthetic qualities is not a difference in degree. This means that there is no known method by which a functional output of a computation can acquire an aesthetic quality, such as a color, flavor, or feeling.
Reversing the order in the bottom formula, I am asserting that the difference between qualia and numbers actually is only a difference in degree, not a difference in kind. That means that we can make numbers out of qualia, by counting them, but numbers can’t make qualia no matter what we do with them. This is to say also that subjects can reduce each other to objects, but objects cannot become subjects.
Let’s use playing cards as an example.
Each card has a quantitative value, A-K. The four suits, their colors and shapes, the portraits on the royal cards…none of them add anything at all to the functionality of the game. Every card game ever conceived can be played just as well with only four sets of 13 number values.
The view which is generally offered by scientific or mathematical accounts, would be that the nature of hearts, clubs, diamonds, kings, etc can differ only in degree from the numbers, and not in kind. Our thinking about the nature of consciousness puts the brain ahead of subjective experience, so that all feelings and qualities of experience are presumed to be representations of more complicated microphysical functions. This is mind-brain identity theory. The mind is the functioning of the brain, so that the pictures and colors on the cards would, by extension, be representations of the purely logical values.
To me, that’s obviously bending over backward to accommodate a prejudice toward the quantitative. The functionalist view prefers to preserve the gap between numbers and suits and fill it with faith, rather than consider the alternative that now seems obvious to me: You can turn the suit qualities into numbers easily – just enumerate them. The four suits can be reduced to 00,01,10, and 11. A King can be #0D, an Ace can be 01, etc. There is no problem with this, and indeed it is the natural way that all counting has developed: The minimalist characterization of things which are actually experienced qualitatively.
The functionalist view requires the opposite transformation, that the existence of hearts and clubs, red and black, is only possible through a hypothetical brute emergence by which computations suddenly appear heart shaped or wearing a crown, because… well because of complexity, or because we can’t prove that it isn’t happening. The logical fallacy being invoked is Affirming the Consequent:
If Bill Gates owns Fort Knox, then he is rich.
Bill Gates is rich.
Therefore, Bill Gates owns Fort Knox.
If the brain is physical, then it can be reduced to a computation.
We are associated with the activity of a brain.
Therefore, we can be reduced to a computation.
To correct this, we should invert our assumption, and look to a model of the universe in which differences in kind can be quantified, but differences in degree cannot be qualified. Qualia reduce to quanta (by degree), but quanta does not enrich to qualia (at all).
To take this to the limit, I would add the players of the card game to the pictures, suits, and colors of the cards, as well as their intention and enthusiasm for winning the game. The qualia of the cards is more “like them” and helps bridge the gap to the quanta of the cards, which is more like the cards themselves – digital units in a spatio-temporal mosaic.
To derive the formula for qualia or sensory affect, solve the Hard Problem of Consciousness, and bridge the Explanatory gap, I suggest that we try converting the mass-energy equivalence E=mc² from the public orientation and transpose it inward to the private orientation.
Energy (E) becomes w² which is “was and will be” (w = was or will be)
The Speed of light (c) becomes t = time = (still or never) = now or realism
Light* (c²) becomes t² “still and never again” or “stereo realism of now”
Mass (M) becomes æ = qualia = “like it”
Qualia = “like it was and will be, still and never again” =
Qualia = “Eternally signifies its past and future now”
This is about what Milan Kundera called The Unbearable Lightness of Being. That our experience of the universe is either perpetually suspended above the paradox of an existence which is both perpetually vanishing forever in some sense and repeating forever in another. If c is the still ‘speed’ of here and now, then c² is the acceleration of here and now, the enrichment of the local now through the collective presence and absence of eternity
- Motive effect or will:
To derive will or motive:
If qualia is “like it”, then square root of æ is what joins and divides the ‘like’ and the ‘it’. It is the dipole charge of ‘liking’ and ‘it-ing’ which we call desire or preference. The greater the liking, the more significance is projected onto the object, which is the imagined realization of a goal in time. Intention projects into the future, builds, and guides qualia.
Will = “(Maybe, or maybe not)(now or never)” = w = √æ t
Turning the private translation outward to Public/Western psychology so that interiority is undersignified as emergent epiphenomena, we get:
= Experience is simply what may and may not be happening for some time.
= Choosing = Right or wrong this time
The public-facing view of privacy reduces it to information processing. To those who have a private-facing view this is a flat and inadequate characterization. The former view is optimized for realizing spatial intelligence while the latter is optimized for appreciating timeless wisdom.
- Quality and Equality
Since qualia is about likeness and local equivalents, it can be said that qualia equals the differential between equality and all inequalities... æ = ‘d=’.
The kicker is that since equality is itself a quale (the spelling of e-quality is a clue), we can conceive of ‘=’ as quality which is externalized**, i.e. the differential is collapsed and the entire range of what it “is like” is interpreted as what “it actually is”. The Western-facing mind naturally prefers that which only tells it ‘like it is‘, so that public physics and information science will filter out as noise all that tries to tell ‘what it is like‘ (paging Ludwig Wittgenstein…). This commercialization of residential qualities has had many benefits, but it is a philosophy which has blinded itself, and intimidated many into ignoring the true nature of consciousness. It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s how private physics works. It’s how sense is made.
*The speed of light is c, but c², if taken literally, can be understood as light itself, reality, or making sense: producing stereo (solid) realism.
**Physically publicized, cropped, framed, stereotyped, commercialized, hardened to endure against the changing feelings that make up private time.
Chroma key compositing typically uses a green or blue screen to key a particular color to be recorded as transparent. In the example above, I have placed green keys on a cosmic (astrophysical + microphysical) background to give an idea of how to conceive of the relation between publicized and privatized experience.
The green of the keys represents the intrinsically singular sensitivity which is ‘behind’ the key silhouettes, just as wearing a green shirt on camera in front of a green screen chroma key will, in a sense, portray your shirt as a ‘receiver’ of the composite image.
This metaphor is closer to what I propose for psychophysical unity – not so much a Receiver theory of consciousness where the brain acts as an antenna for metaphysical signals, or an Emergent theory of consciousness where brain functions accumulate as a representation of signals, but as a Divergent theory in which sensitivity is whole within its private frame of reference, but fragmented across what appears to be space and time from the perspective of a similarly keyed sensitivity*.
Consider that if you are far enough away from a mosaic, it looks like an image, but if you are very close, you see only colored tiles. The difference in spatial ratios on our visual sense influences whether we see the artist private-personal intentions to express the picture’s content, or their public-impersonal technique in placing tiles. If instead of a static mosaic tiles, we think of it as a dynamic television screen of pixels, the metaphor can be extended through narrative time. The pixels do not tell a story, but the image does…over time…to a human audience.
The pixels are not “producing” the story, nor are they “receiving” it, although there is both receiving and projecting of electromagnetic sensations on the public-impersonal level. The complexity of the sequence of patterns on the screen also does not produce the story either, and no amount of complication within the hardware will cause stories to be experienced, just as no degree in the complication of a plot will cause the story itself to become sensitive. Patterns are representations within experience, not experiences themselves. Consciousness is not the green of the key, it is the transparent sensitivity that the green represents. If there is receiving or emerging, it is sensitivity receiving sensitivity, and sensitivity emerging from sensitivity.
*Sensitivity here could mean ‘person’ or ‘observer’ but I want to make it clear that what I propose does not depend on human like experience. I see all forms of observation as participation, and I want to break the automatic association that we have between experience and Homo sapiens personal subjectivity. For pansensitivity to replace energy or information as the primordial identity, it must be understood that all objects, forms, and physical conditions diverge from the totality of sense (not just primitive sub-personal sense, but the whole band of sub-personal, personal, super-personal, and impersonal sense).