Posts Tagged ‘subjectivity’

Merely Mortal

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Merely Mortal: Qualia and Nonformation, Part I

Ever since being introduced to mereology by my friend and philosophical co-presenter/mentor, Stephen P. King, (you can hear one of those introductions in our recent radio chat), I have thought in the back of my mind that there is either something promising or distracting about it. Is it a piece to the puzzle, or a piece that doesn’t belong? This itself is something of a mereological question.

Underlap Uxy =dfz(Pxz ∧ Pyz)
Overlap Oxy =dfz(Pzx ∧ Pzy)
Proper Parthood PPxy =df Pxy ∧ ¬ Pyx
Equality EQxy =df Pxy ∧ Pyx
Proper Parthood PPxy =df Pxy ∧ ¬ Pyx
Proper Extension PExy =df ¬Pxy ∧ Pyx

Reflexivity Pxx
Transitivity(Pxy ∧ Pyz) → Pxz
(Pxy ∧ Pyx) → x=y

Mortality and mereology seem like an unlikely pairing at first glance. Mortality is such a powerfully real and ubiquitous influence on living beings and this philosophical study of parthood relations is so abstract and obscure, but what is it death except a cessation of wholeness? A bullet hole will perforate and fragment, a heart attack will stop the circulatory support for the brain, old age will chip away at all of the systems until one part fails to prop up the whole. Death, decay, and disintegration are closely related.

With Stephen’s knowledge of mathematics and philosophy, we have long been trying to put our finger on the precise nature of the subject-object dualism. While my mind favors word pairings rooted in direct experience, like literal-figurative, sensorimotive-electromagnetic, perceptual-relativity, and significance-entropy, his intellectual territory covers more formal models of analytical mathematical truth, the Stone duality, The Pontryagin duality, Bisimulation, Non-wellfounded Set Theory, etc.

Stone Duality relates algebra to geometry:

Putting Stone’s programme in categorical language, let A be some category of “algebras” and S one of “spaces”, the exact nature of which we leave open. Then by a Stone duality we mean an adjunction

in which TX is the algebra (maybe of open subspaces) associated with a geometrical object X, and PA is the space of primes of an algebra A.

What is Abstract Stone Duality?

It is a revolutionary theory of topological spaces and continuous functions that treats them directly, just as traditional geometry was about lines and circles, without smashing the continuum into dust. ASD provides a natural language for real analysis that describes the solution-space of an equation continuously in its parameters, even across singularities. Since it is presented syntactically, in a way that generalises ordinary algebraic notation, it is inherently computable. It was inpired by Marshall Stone’s study of the categorical duality between topology and algebra, taking his slogan “always topologize” seriously by topologising the topology. It also exploits the analogy between continuous and computable functions, on which Dana Scott built the theory of denotational semantics of programming languages.

Pontryagin duality (file under ‘how can anyone understand this):

The 2-adic integers, with selected corresponding characters on their Pontryagin dual group
the Prüfer p-group or the p-quasicyclic group or p-group, Z(p), for a prime numberp is the unique p-group in which every element has ppth roots

Non-wellfounded sets and Bisimulation:

From the trusty SEP:

“The term non-wellfounded set refers to sets which contain themselves as members, and more generally which are part of an infinite sequence of sets each term of which is an element of the preceding set.

…The topic of bisimulation is one of the earliest goals in a treatment of non-wellfounded sets.

Let (G,→) be a graph. A relation R on G is a bisimulation if the following holds: whenever xRy,

  1. If xx′, then there is some yy′ such that x′ Ry′.
  2. If yy′, then there is some xx′ such that x′ Ry′.

These are sometimes called by the suggestive names zig and zag.


The Stone duality in particular has come up early and often as a natural fit for what I see as the ACME-OMMM continuum (is it too pretentious to call it the אΩc?). Stephen has suggested that my conception of the אΩc maps to the Stone duality; that the relation between subjecthood and objecthood is equivalent to the equivalence between topological spaces and logical algebras.

I agree that topological spaces are a good match for the ‘Occidental/West’ OMMM side, but I’m not sure that logical algebras could define the subjective picture completely because logic does not persuade us in our poetic modes. Algebra might offer something, given the etymology of the word:

Algebra (from Arabic al-jebr* meaning “reunion of broken parts”)

This is important because it fits with my idea of qualia as subtractive gestalts. By subtractive I mean that our experience of making sense is of recovering gestalt wholeness through eliding or subtracting out the gaps. In this sense, qualia can be described as the ur-algebra, from which all algebra follows.

In the Stone duality too, algebra is distinguished from geometry especially because of its ability to represent a continuous process rather than a static grouping of vectors. This continuous nature of algebraic process fits with my understanding that ‘time’ is not a natural primitive but an artificial derivative of experienced qualities like sequence, symmetry, and repetition.

Repetition requires at minimum that something can identify that something seems:

  • identifiable as different from everything or anything
  • identical in some way, even though it is instantiated separately
  • identical to an instantiation that is remembered as a previous instantiation

Here I am trying to get under the floorboards of the Church-Turing and question what mathematics takes for granted: Pattern, pattern recognition, sense-making. Symbol grounding and realism will come later as a consequence of multiple sense channels.

The word algebra then has two important pieces to the ACME side – the idea of subtractive gestalts and continuous process. So far so good. The problem I have is with the mathematical constraint. Logic, binary or otherwise, is the life’s blood of all of mathematics and while life is filled with logics, I am convinced that we cannot get to feelings and participation from number operations alone.

With the poetic heights and psychotic depths of far ACME (‘Oriental/East’) phenomenology, it must be recognized that there is a reason that logic seems to fail us. Logic gives us ideal truth values of 1 or 0, but not experiential-particpatory values of good or bad. Our sense of ‘awesome’ or ‘horrifying’ is not simply doubleplus true/untrue. I think it is more accurate to say that our qualities of experience cast shadows that can be quantified, but it is not possible to reconstruct the experience from only those shadows.

If someone had to recreate our universe from scratch using only our descriptions of it, there is no way they could wind up with anything like what we experience using only a logical, rational framework. We need something beyond forms and scripted processes, beyond parts and wholes, something like Trans-Rational Algebras and Immereology.

Merely Mortal: Symmetry and The Self, Part II

In part I, I looked at applying (my limited understanding of) the Stone Duality to the multisense continuum. The idea of logical algebras vs topologies makes sense in many ways to describe how subjectivity contrasts with objectivity, especially if we treat the topology side literally and the algebra side figuratively.

Algebra is interesting because it distills the representational power out of numbers and uses it against them. The idea of “x=” is a spectacular bit of basic intellectual gymnastics, and I would say the foundation of all higher math and science. One of the reasons why it is so important is that it represents a discovery of something about how we think in the real world. Put these together and algebraic transformations give us the power to mechanize real world processes. A formula is a kind of template of formed sense, an idea of a set of ideas which are crystallized or fixed like a mold through which we can conduct a customized yet auto-matic process. Automatic: Self-willing. It does the work for us.

To accomplish this automation of logical function, algebra relies on certain active ingredients besides ‘x=’, such as symmetry. Symmetry is so fundamental that it is difficult to explain what it is beyond simply pointing to an example of it. The Wiki on symmetry defines it with a familiar dualism:

Symmetry (from Greek συμμετρεῖν symmetría “measure together”) generally conveys two primary meanings. The first is an imprecise sense of harmonious or aesthetically pleasing proportionality and balance; such that it reflects beauty or perfection. The second meaning is a precise and well-defined concept of balance or “patterned self-similarity” that can be demonstrated or proved according to the rules of a formal system: by geometry, through physics or otherwise.

Although the meanings are distinguishable in some contexts, both meanings of “symmetry” are related and discussed in parallel.

That parallel is also the same parallel of ACME-OMMM. Symmetry is a both a subjective aesthetic experience and it is a deferred experience of calculation also. Symmetry imparts both a feeling of significance and it can be computed as an arithmetic relation. How does it do this? Understanding symmetry seems to hold the key to understanding sense itself.

To experience symmetry, first there has to be pattern recognition to separate and define something as distinct from everything. You need a form of attention that not only allows attention to forms, but qualitatively appreciates form in general. This would seem to transcend the assumptions of theories of qualia based on representation alone, as symmetry detection evaluates not only what a particular form means but the degree to which it fulfills an expectation of completeness. Symmetry is part of that completeness, and but it is a part which has a special twinkle. It amplifies significance, so that the more nested levels of symmetry you add, the more of an impression (for better or worse) it makes.

This is at the heart of how sense makes sense; to present, to represent, and to infer the representation through the unpresented difference. We are compelled by what is absent to infer it ourselves. In this way we are personally woven into our experience of the world. Our participation is embedded in the presentation from the start through metaphorical feedback loops which continuously augment underlying expectations of wholeness, equality, fairness, etc. Symmetry. The degree of explicitness and robustness with which these expectations are fulfilled is the wave function of mood and the glue that holds the particles of logic. (Note the Stone duality of mood topology vs logic algebra)

To quote Intothecontinuum:

“Symmetry is merely an expression of how something stands in relation to itself.”

This strikes me as more profound even than it seems. So much so that I would excise the word ‘merely’. The idea of something standing in relation to itself is nothing short of a miracle. In order to relate to itself, something has to be able to, in some sense, also not be itself. This is how identity functions. To say A=A only works because the sameness of A and A is brought to our attention by presenting them grammatically in two separate instances. We mentally fill the gap between the two lines of the equals sign, which is the same gap between the two A’s. Through a presentation symmetry, we are invited to infer an unpresentable relation.

This happens through time as well, through tempo and rhythm. Wholes become parts by reflecting wholes. This is what vertically integrates the different levels (castes) of perception and structure. Each level recapitulates the others in a fisheye distortion of frequency and scale that presents its own inertial frame, with itself as the nucleus, as the maximally significant frame. The good news: sanity. We don’t have to be aware of the problems of every part of the cosmos. The bad news: isolation. To have richly qualitative subjective experience, you have to borrow the significance from somewhere.

Where experienced consciousness differs from anything that logical algebras can produce is in the way that problems are solved rather than savored. To solve (here we go again…solace, solar, soul) is to stand, to make still, but not to understand. It does accounting but no explaining. Our experience of self shaped not only by the need to solve (like gravity, to seek static unity) but to revolve:

(from L. revolvere “turn, roll back,” from re- “back, again” + volvere “to roll” (see vulva). Meaning “travel around a central point”)

Most everything we do is a circuit. It’s Monday, again. It’s summer, again. Time to do the laundry again, etc. Circuits within circuits, we revolve around a multi-symmetrical meta helix of nested perception.

I remain convinced that these purely mathematical approaches are too aloof from the kind of visceral substantiation that I am looking for. Logical algebras can solve parts into a whole*, but the whole is still an abstraction no different than the parts. There is no symbol grounding, no core authenticity to lend realism.

Add a new kind of mereology to this though, and maybe we can get somewhere. In the actual universe in which we live and breathe, perhaps we need to compare apples to pomegranates instead of apples to apples (this is opening up a whole other Middle Eastern synchronicity apparently).

The parthood that we see in mereology is one which turns logic toward understanding the computable aspects of parts and wholes from a topological perspective: a literal or conceptual compartmentalization.

(16) Everything is part of itself.
(17) Any part of any part of a thing is itself part of that thing.
(18) Two distinct things cannot be part of each other.

If we turn this around however, and focus on the orthogonal axis: time/subjectivity instead of space/objectivity, I think we can see a different picture. If our wholes and parts are subjects rather than objects, participatory ‘apartments’ rather than bounded compartments, then the idea of selfness and ‘itself-ness’ takes on an entirely different, opposite meaning. Note the difference; selfness is like Leibniz monad, solipsistic and divided while itself-ness includes defines sense of self as a sense of a sense of self. This relates to what I call solitropy.

  • Every ‘one’ is an awareness of the availability of the experience of being alone or apart, which has a quality of solitude.
  • Being apart can only be defined against a background of being unified or ‘together’. 
  • All experiences are a part of each other, but not identically so. For this to be possible, ‘likeness’ is how sense organizes and orients itself.

*Algebra (from Arabic al-jebr* meaning “reunion of broken parts”)

Merely Mortal Part III, Qualia and Language

Since we can use mereology to address topologies, and through the Stone duality we see how topologies and algebras are related, then what is required to understand subjectivity is a kind of anti-mereology. Unlike measurable forms and functions, every felt ‘thing’ (experience) is defined not only by being a part of any one thing, but instead reflects meaningful gestalts that potentially relate to all other experiences. The qualities or qualia that we experience seem to be part of an orderly palette which serves to bind us to an orderly life experience. The inexplicable perceptual notes and pigments make up this palette are exquisitely granular yet broadly inclusive, and through this, they bind us as caring participants to each moment of our life in the cosmos.

Qualia doesn’t stop there, though. Serving as the orientating principle of what is sane and real to us is just the beginning. The connection of self to umwelt (niche which reflects the expectations and requirements of ourselves>culture>species>physical form) is the basis of all significance, but we have elaborated these presentational bookends of I and it into a hyper-universe of dynamically self-enriching extensions. Re-presentations. Symbols. Quantitative models, maps, and metaphors. Words.

Human language utilizes multiple sets of qualia which ‘insist’ within various inertial frames or channels of perception. Within the cognitive channel of our understanding, these frames of perceptual relation can be seen to be like horizontal slices of a vertically stacked whole:

  • Meaning: Sensory-motive layer. The raw feels of our afferent perception and efferent participation as conscious living beings. It is this ground floor of qualia that is the direct presentation to which all layers of representation must ultimately resolve.
  • Showing: Gestural-emotive layer. Body expression and non-verbal communication. Steven Pinker has some interesting things to say on this, although I think focusing on linguistic formalism is not the way to understand consciousness itself – rather, language is a container or vehicle for consciousness.
  • Speaking: Laryngeal-acoustic layer. Humans are great at making and controlling sounds with our larynx and we are good at distinguishing them from other sounds. We have taken it to a whole other level, with precise mimicry and richly communicative vocal textures. Voice is not only for yelling and and whispering, but singing, orating, dramatizing, etc.
  • Writing: Optical-graphological layer. Our visual system is good for seeing and remembering shapes and our hands allow us to inscribe those shapes on whatever suitable objects we have available.
  • Communicating: Linguistic-symbolic layer. Speaking, writing, and expressing communication are  direct qualia in themselves, but they are multiplexed also. Our understanding begins where the limits of the physical acts associated with communication leave off. Our lives continue in the hyper-reality of symbolic extension, seamlessly blended with our perception of the outside world. We see and hear direct meaning through the semiotic forms that we have adopted.

Language has given us a new hyper-dimension of sense through an explosion of grammatical conventions and multi-layered semantic logics. It has opened a synthetic channel of verbal semiosis which bridges the gap between minds (as well as widening the chasm between them). In one sense, communication is a simulation of multiple separate instances, but in another sense it is a dissemination of a potentially unified common sense which is accessible from multiple locations or times. Language provides a truer isomorphism to interior experience than gross physical behaviors can provide. As in a dream, many hours or lifetimes can be condensed elliptically into a single story-time that is passed from person to person and group to group. The story itself evolves and takes on the qualities of different groups as it accumulates character specific to the times, places, and people who participate in the communication.

Communication allows us to elide the gaps among the elements of stories so that what can be expressed goes well beyond the limitations of the here and now, increasing our mental capacities immensely. The spread of communicated forms elides the distance between subjects themselves and weave an invitation to commune upon a common sense. Combining these two propensities to converge subjects and subjectivities, we make possible a recovery not just of an actual whole but of a potential whole; thesis, hypothesis, communicated ideas and ideas about improving communciation of ideas. A symmetry not only of parts across space but of participation through time that intentionally amplifies and consolidates intentionality. Human creativity is a revelation of novelty, a dis-covery of a future, not only a production of useful accessories.

This is not to say that all experiences exist as a priori complete facts somewhere and we are just reissuing them, but that experiences insist as potentials, and it is our participation and voluntary interest which brings them from fictional insistence into factual existence. Interest alone doesn’t magically cause things to exist, but interest motivates us to find opportunities which progress our efforts or convince us to give up. This experiential psychscape doesn’t make sense from a mechanistic perspective. Unlike conventional mereology, with subjectivity, every part of every experience is itself independent of that experience, and every distinction between experiences can only be made in the context of underlying unity between them.

The functionalist has no way to ground motive in anything purely qualitative. A musical masterpiece cannot be explained in terms of quantitative terms, where any composition with the same amount of harmony and variation would have to be equally esteemed. There is no appreciation for the semantics of language, the aesthetic dimension of poetic resonance not just of forms to forms, but content to content, content to form, and formed content to novelty and revelation of unified communal truths.

Merely Mortal Part IV: Making Some Sense of Subjectivity

The multisense realism approach includes the following convictions and conjectures:

  • Something very important is missing from all of our current models of consciousness.
  • The missing piece is not an obscure and distant mechanism but rather is the plainly obvious coherence and qualitative significance of experience itself.
  • Instead of looking for this piece as a consequence of forms and functions in the world, we might also consider that forms and functions are symptoms of perception and participation. (Not necessarily human perception, of course).
  • Reality or realism arises through the recovery of agreement between multiply diffracted channels of perception and participation (aka ‘sense’ and ‘motive’ or afferent/inbound and efferent/outbound phenomenology)

The relation between forms and functions (geometric topologies and logical algebras) has been formalized through the Stone duality. For every geometric form there is a corresponding algebraic function. I have proposed a similar correspondence in what I consider to be a more authentic representation of the cosmos in the form of the ACME-OMMM continuum (אΩc). In the אΩc, the forms and functions covered by the Stone duality are only half of the big picture. The other half, the ‘Eastern’, ACME facing half can be understood as having qualities which are perpendicular or orthogonal to those conceived of by Stone, while at the same time having common themes.

Quantitative relations are rooted in the mereology of objectivity. Rules about set membership and well-foundedness present a schema of precise internal consistency. I suggest that the lack of such a schema of certainty and discrete mereology in subjectivity is not an accident, but actually is a clue as to the genuine and concretely real nature of phenomenology. Where algebra employs logical functions, aesthetics and emotion extend far beyond that to raw feeling and creative imagination. If anything, it seems more reasonable to see logic as a narrow subset within a much larger range of possible experiences – ‘transrational algebras’ which use ‘immereological’ leaps to recover gestalts from broken fragments.

Algebra is anabolic, building up complex sequential functions from simpler digits. Using meaningless variable names, it extends the power of numbers to allow for the ‘coining’ of fixed relations through which a continuous process of variable value can flow. Transrational algebras, in contrast, are experiential truths which are ‘chipped off the old block’.

The idea that there are a relatively small number of basic literary plots figures into this:

1 Plot:

“Foster-Harris claims that all plots stem from conflict.”

3 Plots:

  1. “’Type A, happy ending’”; Foster-Harris argues that the “Type A” pattern results when the central character (which he calls the “I-nitial” character) makes a sacrifice (a decision that seems logically “wrong”) for the sake of another.
  2. “’Type B, unhappy ending’”; this pattern follows when the “I-nitial” character does what seems logically “right” and thus fails to make the needed sacrifice.
  3. “’Type C,’ the literary plot, …does not hinge upon decision, but fate…

7 Plots

7 basic plots as remembered from second grade by IPL volunteer librarian Jessamyn West:

  1. [wo]man vs. nature
  2. [wo]man vs. [wo]man
  3. [wo]man vs. the environment
  4. [wo]man vs. machines/technology
  5. [wo]man vs. the supernatural
  6. [wo]man vs. self
  7. [wo]man vs. god/religion

20 Plots:

Tobias, Ronald B. 20 Master Plots.

  1. Quest
  2. Adventure
  3. Pursuit
  4. Rescue
  5. Escape
  6. Revenge
  7. The Riddle
  8. Rivalry
  9. Underdog
  10. Temptation
  11. Metamorphosis
  12. Transformation
  13. Maturation
  14. Love
  15. Forbidden Love
  16. Sacrifice
  17. Discovery
  18. Wretched Excess
  19. Ascension
  20. Descension.

36 Plots

Polti, Georges.

  1. Supplication (in which the Supplicant must beg something from Power in authority)
  2. Deliverance

Note that the three Plots are all explicitly contrary to logic. This is the story we never get tired of hearing: Don’t trust logic alone. Why should we tell this to ourselves and to our children, especially if it isn’t true? Why do we want to be told this?

Even the most cynical explanation for this assumes that there is an inherent draw toward fantasy. Something about consciousness prefers fiction to fact, despite all evidence to the contrary. We can say that magical thinking is simply wishful thinking and that wishful thinking is simply orphaned wants which stem from conflicting and unfulfillable biological agendas, but how does that explain how we clothe these wishes in an inexhaustible variety of textures?

It has been said for instance that Star Wars is really just a Western dressed up as science fiction. Indeed, all popular stories can be reduced to Westerns or myths, the basic plot, the Hero with A Thousand Faces, etc, but it isn’t just faces that have been randomly swapped or names that have been changed, it is a mythos, an entire world of compelling details which cohere together harmoniously, revealing an alternate realism to our own but which is added in some sense to our collective experience. Unlike logical algebra, the eidetic transrationality of fiction uses function as a skeleton on which to hang the meat of meaningful names and places. Trans-rational algebras emphasize aesthetic richness rather than computation or pragmatic function. This supports my assertion that quanta are flat qualia or even inside-out qualia.

We can learn a lot just by understanding the various dialectics of subjectivity and objectivity, the literal vs the figurative, private vs public, entopic vs eidetic, qualitative vs quantitative, etc, but we can go further if take those anomalous symmetries as an indication of a deeper unity of realism. I suggest that participation and perception are not ‘energies’ which are unlike forms, but that they are the sole presentation of tangibility, and as such are neither axiomatic nor non-axiomatic. Just as the yellow light on a traffic signal is neither ‘stop’, ‘go’, nor ‘do not stop or go’, the roots of subjectivity are ‘immereological’. Think of the red and green signals as the extremes of yellow, the deterministic periphery to which perception and participation are the quasi self-deterministic center. Our ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are not only built up of generic collections of true and false but are dynamic expressions of ourselves. Just as an image on the surface of a bubble reflects the entirety of its optical context, consciousness does not require assembly from basic elements – it already is everything, it only pretends to be something in particular.

The idea of ellipsis gives us a way of distinguishing how a computer assembles programmatic functions from how subjective experience is accessed. In a dream we are not aware when we have begun dreaming, or what the transition was like from sleep to dream. The ellipsis (…) in this case extends prior to the experience. Instead of elliptically referring to a pattern that continues predictably as might an arithmetic sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8…) the nature of subjectivity is such that we can derive an implicit sense of what is going on without having to be explicitly told – even if, as in a dream, what is going on may not make much rational sense. We find ourselves in a dream environment, with no introduction of characters or plot but without any sense of the absence of such an introduction. We are amnesiacs who may not even have the capacity to be aware of our amnesia. We arrive in our lives this way too, with a …”I must have previously joined my own life, already in progress”.

It is possible that our biology prepares for us a boot sequence with an elliptical quality like this to mask any jarring questions that compromise our chances for survival, but that seems unlikely to me owing to the universality of it. What would be the big deal if we booted up like a computer, a tabula rasa that requires drivers be loaded to know how to detect inputs and outputs? Why have an illusory pretense of false continuity? Maybe a survival machine would benefit from sensing the truth about its own mechanism? Instead, I think this elliptical quality of being able to broadly generalize both before and after the fact of experience exposes one of the fundamental difference between subjective experience and objective process. We care whether things make sense or not. A machine doesn’t.

With the Stone duality’s equivalence of geometry and algebra can help us understand some important aspects of subjectivity, but like all purely quantitative models, it lacks the immersion and exigency which underpins subjective realism. Although algebra can give us a key piece of the puzzle of consciousness in its etymological sense of recovery of a whole from broken parts, that recovery is generic and a-signifying. We need an algebra which begins as a division of everythingness instead of an assembly from nothingness – an elliptical transrationality which honors the many layers of perception and participation which contribute to experience.

We can use Boolean algebras and game theory to model some of functions of participation such as self modeling or self interest, but this alone does not and cannot evoke the visceral realities of subjective agency. The realism of pain and pleasure cannot be simulated mathematically. This is not begging the question, it is a self-evident truth: Daffy Duck does not feel pain when he is shot in the face with a shotgun. It doesn’t matter how many Daffy Ducks, or how sophisticated their rendering is, there is still no experience of what it is like to be Daffy Duck. Unlike Conway’s game of life, biological life seems to require that there are qualities associated with their experiences rather than just the fact of the significance of those experiences to the outcome of the game. The desirability of survival may seem like a given to us, but ultimately there is no formal correlation that follows. A scripted machine needs only the ability to process the script provided – experience or quality would not and could not logically enhance that process.

Talking about models and representations in the context of consciousness can get us lost so that we overlook the pool of sense from which all models are initiated and into which they all must be resolved. We make models so that we can better understand what we are modeling. To model modeling itself, we should not assume that this can be accomplished by treating the originating phenomenon the same way as we have treated the targets. I suggest that psyche is founded on the trans-rational presentations which are algebraic in the sense of recovering gestalts, but they are not limited to the logic and reason of numbers, nor does that make them imaginary or irrelevant.

Consciousness is natively loose, casual, and simple. It is elliptical in the sense of being not-too-fussy about filling in the details, but at the same time giving the impression that the details are there. It doesn’t write an algorithm to dream up a character or story, it captures a feeling and jumps to a conclusion. It guesses and hopes, it lies and schemes. It is trans-rational.


What started this whole series off was thinking about how causes of death, even from natural causes, is a mereological problem. Some piece is missing somewhere in the body which cascades into countless causes with a single irrevocable result. A bullet hole, a drowning, a cumulative unraveling of telomeres which stops cells from replacing themselves…its all about defective parts that break the integrity of the whole.

With consciousness, the whole is not a composite of parts, it is a multiplicity of nested temporal narratives in which we play parts. It is the who and why that anchors us into the weave of space-time existence. We are not only like, as some may sneer, ‘unique snowflakes’. We are much more than that. We are uniqueness itself, turned inside out into billions of microscopic meat-puzzles that we complete. To this collection of cells, we are like an escapement mechanism; an arrow of time leading inevitably from wholeness to corruption and death. For us, the body’s escapement is our encasement, our mortal coil of cycling causes and conditions. Each lifetime another meta-mythos of experience, giving time to timeless themes again and again.

Notes on Monadology

July 14, 2012 28 comments

I have noticed that people most often compare Multisense Realism to Leibniz’ Monadology. While I had not read much Leibniz before, two people have suggested that I do so in the same week, one of them taking the time to send me an annotated pdf. Since its relatively short as philosophical source materials go, I decided to reproduce it here with my own notes.

1. My topic here will be the monad, which is just a simple
substance. By calling it ‘simple’ I mean that it has no parts,
though it can be a part of something composite.

It is a bit confusing right off the bat. To say that a something is a substance in a colloquial sense implies already that is a ‘thing’ distinct from other things. What I am after is a much deeper simplicity. To me a true monad could only be a boundaryless unity. An everythingness-nothingness ‘carrier-tone’ of experiential readiness from which all experiences are diffracted (divided from within, as ‘chips off the old block’, so to speak). This is what I mean by the Big Diffraction. The monad itself has no parts, but its only nature is the possibility that it imparts. My version of monad does not ‘exist’ as a simple substance but rather it insists as the simplicity and essential wholeness of all experiences. It is sense.

2. There must be simple substances, because there are composites.
A composite thing is just a collection of simple ones
that happen to have come together.

This assumes a naive realism arrow of time. The true monad precedes causality and time, so that it is as much the end result as the beginning condition. Things grow and divide, fuse and multiply regardless of their simplicity or complexity.  This is important because I think it is one of the intellectual turns where the materialism of science is founded – in microcosmic simple causes rather than an interplay of causes and effects on all levels of the cosmos simultaneously.

3. Something that has no parts can’t be extended, can’t have
a shape, and can’t be split up. So monads are the true atoms
of Nature—the elements out of which everything is made.

Why can’t it be split up? If the monad is truly boundaryless, there is nothing to stop it from ‘becoming’ something else. If you are a boundaryless monad, the only way to become something else is to split yourself into parts. To invent boundaries. Of course, since these boundaries are invented, the underlying monad must precede them.

4. We don’t have to fear that a monad might fall to pieces;
there is no conceivable way it could •go out of existence

Yes, the monad would have nowhere to disappear to. Any pieces it ‘falls into’ are themselves unified in the plurality of solitude that the monad becomes when it divides/multiplies itself within itself. The monad is both the solitude, the solvent, and the tension of the apartness relation between an ‘I’ and an ‘it’

5. For the same reason, there is no way for a simple substance
to •come into existence naturally, for that would
involve its being put together, assembled, composed, and a
simple substance couldn’t be formed in that way because it
has no parts.

6. So we can say that the only way for monads to begin
or end—to come into existence or go out of existence—is
•instantaneously, being created or annihilated all at once.
Composite things, in contrast with that, can begin or end
•gradually, through the assembling or scattering of their

He is forgetting that the primacy of monad is what allows existence itself to occur. Any kind of existence supervenes upon this underlying sense of ontological fertility-fulfillment. Things come into or out of existence relative to the experience of an ‘I’ apartment within the monad. To the monad, nothing is lost or gained, only split into smaller and smaller fibers, tied into larger and larger knots of knots (metaphorically speaking – they are not literal strings, but figurative strings of sense-events making sense of each other in different ways). The key difference between Leibniz monad and my TSM (Totality-Singularity Monad) is that I assume that if there is only one thing, it can only be ‘everythingness’. There must be nothing that the monad is not, and it must resist all possible definitions and other than its own. In working with the TSM intellectually, we must proceed with finality from the outset – we must allow it first to escape all concepts and expectations at all costs. It must precede even sanity and causality, matter, entropy, etc. It is the base of bases…baseness itself.

7. It doesn’t make sense to suppose that a monad might
be altered or re-arranged internally by any other created
thing. Within a monad there’s nothing to re-arrange, and
there is no conceivable internal motion in it that could be
started, steered, sped up, or slowed down,

Speed is a sense relation. No sense = no speed and no time. The division/multiplication of the monad is what modulates different rhythms and scales of experience into motion-like temporal relations. Like an old fashioned (Freemason’s) compass, the span between the two points on paper hinges on the moving joint between them. It is there, at the joint, that we find the monad – dividing into ratios what is external to itself but extended through its projected ‘legs’.

as can happen in
a composite thing that has parts that can change in relation
to one another. ….[The passage from here to * is not by Leibniz. It
makes explicit what was presumably at work in his mind
when he made his remarkable jump.] That rules out every
sort of influence that one might think a created thing might
have on something else. (I stress ‘created’ because of course
I don’t rule out God’s affecting a monad.)

I do rule out God affecting a monad. The TSM is God – or that’s one name for it. I don’t like that name because of the implication that it is an anthropomorphic entity and because of all of the religious baggage, but if you have the TSM, you don’t need any other God.

Some philosophers
have held that one thing can affect another by sending an
‘accident’ across to it, understanding an accident to be an
instance of a property as distinct from the thing that has the
property. According to these philosophers, in addition to
the •universal property heat and the •particular thing this
poker there is a •particular property, an instance, an accident,
namely the heat of this poker; and they hold that when
the poker is plunged into cold water which then becomes
warmer, the poker sends an accident—some of its particular
heat—across to the water. Now, you might think that
although a created thing can’t cause re-arrangements in a
simple substance it might be able to affect it in a different
way by sending an accident across to it. And because you
might think this I should add that *….monads have no windows
through which anything could come in or go out! And
·anyway, quite apart from the imperviousness of monads to
them, these supposed migrating accidents are philosophical
rubbish·: accidents can’t detach themselves and stroll about
outside of substances!. . . . So neither substance nor accident
can come into a monad from outside.
8. Monads, ·although they have no parts·, must have some

Wouldn’t qualities be the parts of monads? Why not? The visible spectrum is like a monad (it may be the TSM itself expressed visually) When squeezed together, it’s colorful qualities are cancelled out and augmented as intensity of white. This diffraction-condensation of qualities is the monad and the monad is the experience of the relation of those qualities. This is what Einstein neglected – that light is also color and color is light – without any speed. Our experience of light exists within a qualitative inertial frame of visual perception; it is not a temporal experience, it is a personal orientation between subject and object relation. It is the joint end of the compass as well as the physical relativity between the two extended compass points on paper. Quality does not represent this condensation of objective extension into subjective experience – it presents it. Experience consists of qualia in its entirety.

There are two reasons why this must be so. (1)
If they didn’t have qualities they wouldn’t be real things at
all. (2) If they didn’t differ from one another in their qualities,
there would be no detectable changes in the world ·of
composite things·. Here is why. [Leibniz starts the next sentence
‘If monads had no qualities,’ but this is obviously a slip.] If monads
all had the same qualities, they would be indistinguishable
from one another (given that they don’t differ in any quantitative
way, e.g. in size). That would make all composite
things ·such as portions of matter· indistinguishable from
one another also, because whatever is the case about a composite
thing has to come from its simple ingredients. ·Even
if every portion of matter were exactly like every other, there
might still be variety in the material world through differences
in patterns of distribution of portions of matter in
empty space. I think there is no empty space—the extended
world is entirely full, a plenum·. So, assuming a plenum and
no qualitative variety, any moving around of matter would
only result in each place containing something exactly like
what it had contained previously, so that one state of things
would be indistinguishable from another.

I agree with the idea of the plenum and further suggest that we go further to say that spacetime is relations within the plenum and therefore not literally things, but relations through which concrete experiences are solved, dissolved, and resolved. The plenum therefore is pure sense when experienced directly, or, as experienced indirectly from the outside, matter. We are the plenum as it has evolved, revolved, and involved us teleologically (intentionally) and teleonomically (by accident).

9. ·That shows that some monads must be qualitatively unlike
some others; but now I go further·. Indeed, every monad
must be qualitatively unlike every other. That is because in
Nature no two things are perfectly alike; between any two
things a difference can be found that is internal—i.e. based
on what each is like in its own nature ·rather than merely on
how they relate to other things, e.g. where they are in space·.
10. I take it for granted that every created thing can change,
and thus that created monads can change. I hold in fact
that every monad changes continually.

Changes continually at what rate? Compared to what? It is only through the nesting of monadic recapitulations within the TSM that anything like change or rate can be conceived. The nesting isn’t a change, it is the sense that underlies change itself…identity, coherence, memory of a pre-change state and the capacity to compare and contrast intuitively against the post-change state.

11. From what I said in 7 it follows that natural changes in
a monad—·ones that don’t come from divine intervention·—
come from an internal force, since no external causes could
ever influence its interior.

Why not? I think this is an oversight by Leibniz. If the monad can be, why can’t it be influenced by other monads being as well? What is stopping it if one part of the plenum is really not primitively separated from any other part? On the TSM level at least, all the monads are really the same unity.

12. But in addition to this ·general· force for change ·that is
the same in all monads·,

There can’t be a general force for change that is the same in all monads unless the force for change is what monads are entirely (since he says that monads have no parts). What is change but an apartness derived from before and after causality? A force-for-change then, implies an intention to drive apart a before and after condition yet retain the memory of the before and appreciate the difference…hence: sense. The monad is that force+field+action+expectation, doing-being-sensing-sensemaking, isness-aboutness.

there must be the detailed nature of
the ·individual· changing simple substance, this being what
makes it belong to one species rather than another.

Think of it like a subnet. As the TSM multiplies itself, the schema of elaboration grows to accommodate new classes. The schema is only the form that the content providers use to organize the traffic, it does not generate or experience the content. By building out more diffraction (think fractal), the broad generality of the TSM can manifest its reflection in relentless granularity of form. An incoherence of coherence to complement precisely the coherence of pre-coherence that it its source.

13. This detailed nature must bring a •multiplicity within
the •unity of the simple substance. ·The latter’s detailed
nature is a ‘multiplicity’ in the sense that it has many components
that don’t stand or fall together·. That is because every
natural change happens by degrees, gradually, meaning that
something changes while something else stays the same.

Yes!! This is what it is all about. Something changes while something else stays the same. Except I reconcile this with the TSM by saying that everything changes in every way except one, and the monad stays the same in every way except one (its dream/desire of change…mood, tone).

although there are no •parts in a simple substance, there
must be a plurality of •states and of relationships.
14. The passing state that incorporates and represents a
multitude within a unity—i.e. within the simple substance—
is nothing but what we call •perception. This must be carefully
distinguished from •awareness or consciousness, as
will become clear in what follows. [‘Awareness’ here translates
aperception. French had no noun for that job (nor did English), so Leibniz
coined the aperception on the basis of the verb phrase s’apercevoir de,
which meant and still means ‘to be aware of’.] In that the Cartesians
failed badly, entirely discounting perceptions whose owners
were not aware of them. That made them think that the only
monads are minds, which led them to deny that animals have
souls ·because those would be simple substances below the
level of minds· . . . . Like the uneducated man in the street
they confused a long stupor with death, ·whereas really a
long period of unconsciousness is different from death· in
the strict sense. This led them further into the Aristotelians’
wrong belief in souls that are entirely separated ·from any
body·, as well as confirming misguided minds in the belief
that souls are mortal.

Speculating about the afterlife is like speculating about a color that nobody has seen. Our reasoning can never fill in the gap between our understanding of what might happen and the quality of the experience of what will happen.

15. The action of the internal force that brings about
change—brings the monad from one perception to another—
can be called •appetition. Appetite cannot always get the
whole way to the perception towards which it is tending, but
it always gets some of the way, and reaches new perceptions—
·that is, new temporary states of the monad·.
16. A simple substance that incorporates a multiplicity—
that’s something we experience in ourselves. ·We are simple
substances·, and we find that every perception we can be
aware of—right down to the least of them—involves variety
in its object; ·and a perception representing variety in the
object that it is of must itself be variegated in some way·.
Thus everyone who accepts that the soul is a simple substance
should accept this multiplicity in the monad, and
Bayle oughtn’t to have found any difficulty in it, as he did in
the article ‘Rorarius’ in his Dictionary.
17. It has to be acknowledged that •perception can’t be
explained by mechanical principles,

Yes! This must be one reason why people think I have been influenced by Leibniz.

that is by shapes and
motions, and thus that nothing that •depends on perception
can be explained in that way either. ·Suppose this were
wrong·. Imagine there were a machine whose structure produced
thought, feeling, and perception; we can conceive of
its being enlarged while maintaining the same relative proportions
·among its parts·, so that we could walk into it as
we can walk into a mill. Suppose we do walk into it; all
we would find there are cogs and levers and so on pushing
one another, and never anything to account for a perception.
So perception must be sought in simple substances, not in
composite things like machines.

Indeed, G.W.

And that is all that can
be found in a simple substance—•perceptions and •changes
in perceptions; and those changes are all that the internal
actions of simple substances can consist in.

If he had the benefit of General Relativity hindsight that I do, I think Leibniz would agree that what he is talking about with simple substances are really inertial frames. A clustering of common sense and motive channels that give rise to reasonable and coherent narratives of realism.

18. [The word ‘entelechy’, used in this section, is a Greek label that
Leibniz gives to monads, especially when he wants to emphasize the
monad’s role as a source of power, energy, or the like. He connects it
here with the monad’s ‘perfection’, apparently meaning this in the sense
of completeness, self-sufficiency, causal power. In 62 he will connect ‘entelechy’
with the monad’s central role in the life of a body of which it is
the soul.] We could give the name ‘entelechy’ to all simple substances
or created monads, because they have within them
a certain perfection. . . .; there is a kind of self-sufficiency
which makes them sources of their own internal actions—
makes them immaterial automata, as it were.
19. [In this section, the French word sentiment is left untranslated. It
could mean ‘feeling’ or ‘sensation’ or ‘belief’.] If we are willing to label
as a ‘soul’ anything that has perceptions and appetites in
the general sense that I have just explained, then all simple
substances—all created monads—could be called ‘souls’. But
as there is more to sentiment than mere perception, I think
that the general name ‘monad’ or ‘entelechy’ is adequate for
substances that have mere perception and nothing more,
and that we should reserve ‘soul’ for the ones with perceptions
that are more distinct and accompanied by memory.
·In this context I shall use the phrase ‘mere monad’ to mean
‘monad whose perceptions have nothing special about them,
are not distinct or accompanied by memory, are merely perceptions
with nothing more to be said about them·.
20. For we experience ourselves being a state in which we
remember nothing and have no distinct perception—for example
when we fall into a faint, or are overtaken by a deep
dreamless sleep. While our soul is in that state, there is
nothing to mark it off from a mere monad; but for our soul
that state doesn’t last—the soul recovers from it—which is
why it is a soul, something more than a mere monad.
21. But it doesn’t at all follow that a mere monad has no
perceptions at all. ·It not only doesn’t follow·; it couldn’t be
true, for a three-part reason that I have given: •a monad
can’t go out of existence, but •to stay in existence it has to
be in some state or other, and •its states are all perceptions.
But ·having perceptions is compatible with being in a very
confused state, as we know from our own experience·. When
we have a great many small perceptions none of which stand
out, we are dazed; for example when you spin around continually
in one direction for a time, you become dizzy, you can’t
distinguish anything, and you may faint. That is the state
animals are in, temporarily, when they meet their ·so-called·
22. And every momentary state of a simple substance is a
natural consequence of its ·immediately· preceding one, so
that the present is pregnant with the future.
23. When you recover from your dizzy spell and are aware
of having perceptions, you obviously must have been having
perceptions just before then, though you weren’t aware of
them. That is because, ·as I said in 22·, in the course of
Nature a perception can come only from another perception,
just as a motion can come only from another motion.
24. We can see from this that if none of our perceptions
stood out, if none were (so to speak) highly seasoned and
more strongly flavoured than the rest, we would be in a permanent
daze. And that is the state that bare monads—·what
I am here calling ‘mere monads’·—are in ·all the time·.

I agree with his intuitions here, and get into them in more depth in multisense realism. Without the divisions and multiplications of being a monad of monads within monads, there would only be the everythingness of the outermost monad. As these levels of monad-in-monad nestings accumulate, they present the nesting as meta-qualitative or super-signifying richness of experience. This is how the ‘soul’ or human self differs from other classes of selves (in our own eyes if nothing else) – through significance; exponential sense-on-sense properties which are recovered from the TSM’s promise-potential rather than emerging from nothingness.

25. Nature has given highly seasoned perceptions to animals.
We can see this in the care Nature has taken to provide
animals with sense-organs that bring together a number of
light-rays or air-waves, increasing their effectiveness by combining
them. Something like this ·also· happens with scent,
taste and touch, and perhaps with numerous other senses
that we don’t know about. ·That concentration of influence
on the •sense-organs is relevant to my present topic, which
is the occurrence of ‘highly flavoured’ perceptions in the
•soul·. I shall explain shortly how what happens in the •soul
represents what goes on in the •organs.
26. Memory provides souls with a kind of following from
which mimics reason but must be distinguished from it. It is
what we see in an animal that has a perception of something
striking of which it has previously had a similar perception;
the representations in its memory lead it to expect •this time
the same thing that happened •on the previous occasion,
and to have the same feelings •now as it had •then. For
example, when you show a stick to a dog, it remembers how
the stick hurt it ·on a previous occasion·, and it whines or
runs away.
27. The animal in this case is impressed and stirred up by
a powerful imagining; and its power comes either from •the
size [here = ‘strength’ or ‘intensity’] of the preceding perceptions
or from •there being many of them. ·Either would do the
job·; for the effect of •a long habituation, the repetition of
many mild perceptions, is often achieved in a moment by
•one powerful impression

Repetition of mild perceptions vs the impact of one powerful impression brings up the relation between interior quality and exterior quantity. Exterior realism is often characterized by the opposite principle, where small considerations can and do add up to gigantic chain-reactions.

28. In human beings, the perceptions often follow from other
perceptions under the influence of memory; as with empiric
physicians, who have elementary technique without theory.
[An ‘empiric’ is someone who cares about which generalizations hold up
in practice, but not about why.] We are all mere •empirics in three
quarters of what we do. For example, we are empirics in our
expectation that the sun will rise tomorrow because it has
always done so up to now. Only the •astronomer believes it
on the basis of reason. In this empiric aspect of their lives,
humans operate in the same way as the lower animals do.

The astronomer believes it intellectually, but she does not experience this belief as a visceral reality. Even astronomers see the sun setting and not the horizon lifting.

29. What distinguishes us from the lower animals is our
knowledge of necessary and eternal truths ·and, associated
with that, our having a kind of ‘following from’ that •involves
necessity and •depends on reason, rather than merely the
‘following from’ of the animals, which •is wholly contingent
and depends on memory·. This is what gives us reason and
science, raising us to the knowledge of ourselves and of God.
And it’s what is called ‘rational soul’ or ‘mind’ in us.
30. Our knowledge of necessary truths, and ·our grasp of·
the abstractions they involve, raise us to the level of acts
of reflection [= ‘looking in on oneself’], which make ·each of· us
aware of the thing that is called I, and lets us have thoughts
about this or that thing in us. And by thinking of ourselves
in this way we think of •being, of •substance, of •simples and
•composites, of •what is immaterial—and of •God himself,
through the thought that what is limited in us is limitless
in him. And so these acts of reflection provide the principal
objects of our reasonings.
31. Our reasonings are based on two great principles: •the
principle of contradiction, on the strength of which we judge
to be false anything that involves contradiction, and as true
whatever is opposed or contradictory to what is false.
32. And •the principle of sufficient reason, on the strength
of which we hold that no fact can ever be true or existent,
no statement correct, unless there is a sufficient reason why
things are as they are and not otherwise—even if in most
cases we can’t know what the reason is.
33. There are also two kinds of truth: those of reasoning
and those of fact.
•Truths of reasoning are necessary, and their opposite
is impossible.
•Truths of fact are contingent, and their opposite is

To me this is where he starts getting into the more antiquated philosophical notions of human exceptionalism, truth, perfection, and God. Passages like this:

41. From which it follows that God is absolutely perfect.
·Why?· Because a thing’s perfection is simply the total
amount of positive reality it contains, using ‘positive’ in its
precise sense,

make me lose interest as they seem (understandably) steeped in pre-Darwinian absolutism and Abrahamic faith. I feel like he sells the monad short, as when he says

43. Also, God is the source not only of existences but also
of essences insofar as they are real; that is, he is the source
of what reality there is among possibilities. This is because
God’s understanding is the realm of eternal truths, or the
realm of the ideas on which such truths depend. Without
God’s understanding there would be no reality among possibilities.
. . .

Where he uses ‘God’s understanding’, I substitute ‘sense’, or if you like ‘thense’ or ‘ence’… something to denote the primordial isness-aboutness which embodies the difference that makes a difference to itself. He has the monad already, all he needs is to really commit to its ultimate Totality and Singularity to realize that all seeming Godness or understandingness must also be divisible by and through the monad, the everthingness of self-division/self-recovery. It’s not the 1s and 0s of ‘information’, it is the expectation that forms can refer to other forms or experiences and the power to generate forms and actions.

Besides being an interesting example of diachronicity for me, with his use of both of the e-words, I feel like my mission is to help Leibniz finish what he started, to redeem and update his philosophies that work and maybe correct those that are no longer relevant.

In particular, this passage:

48. In God there is
(i) power, which is the source of everything, then
(ii) knowledge, which contains every single idea, and then
(iii) will, which produces changes in accordance with the
principle of what is best.
And these are what correspond, respectively, to what in
created monads constitute
(i) the subject, or base, ·or basic nature of the monad
(ii) the faculty of perception, and
(iii) the appetitive faculty.
But in God these attributes are absolutely infinite or perfect,
whereas in created monads. . . .they are only imitations ·of
the divine attributes·, imitations that are more or less close
depending on how much perfection they possess.

reminds me of my six-sided syzygy ideas. We both are focusing on the same principle that is embodied in a transistor – the base (i – I, subject, ground of being), collector (ii-perceptive/sensory/afferent), and emitter (iii -appetitive/motive/efferent). I see the qualitative distinctions he makes between God and monad as mere points on the continuum of qualitative richness but his intuition of 3 + 3 symmetry are matched by my own. The difference is that I see the power, knowledge, and will of God as being the supersignifiers which we project above us and his ‘basic nature, perception, and appetition’ as the sub-signifiers which we project upon ourselves from the outside – ie mechanemorphic elemental complements to our anthropomorphic cosmological superlatives.

For my own Big Six, I see an interchangeable multi-sense relation between three interiors (who, why, and when :: sense, motive, and timespace) and three exteriors (what, how, and where :: matter, energy, and spacetime). Later on, he gets into his universal harmony, which is very similar to what I call perceptual inertia. I think that we are both talking about the same thing, only that by inertial I am talking about what perception is while universal harmony refers to what it does. Perception binds us harmonically, orients us to the realism and meaning that our experience of the universe potentially holds for us. It is the stuff of self-revealing intuition juxtaposed with self-concealing gaps or lapsing of these nested inertial frames of sense and significance.

56. Now, this interconnection, or this adapting of all created
things to each one, and of each one to all the others, brings
it about that each simple substance has relational properties
that express all the others, so that each monad is a perpetual
living mirror of the universe.)

I think he was too hasty in saying that a monad is representative by nature. While his point is well taken that, as he says earlier “each monad is a perpetual living mirror of the universe”, I think that the other half of this profound truth is that each monad is also a non-perpetual presentation of nothing except itself.

60. Anyway, what I have just been saying yields reasons
why things couldn’t have gone otherwise. ·Here they are·.
In regulating the whole universe God had regard to each
part, and especially to each monad; ·so each monad has
features that are given to it in the light of the features of
every other monad—it won’t be restricted to having correspondences
with only a part of the universe·. And since a
monad is by nature representative, ·so that all its features
are representations·, nothing could restrict it to representing
only a part of the universe. ·I am not saying that each monad
is omniscient, or anything like that!· A created monad’s representation
of the details of the whole universe is confused;
it can be distinct only with respect to a small part of things,
namely things that are either closest or largest in relation
to it. Otherwise every monad would be divine! Monads are
limited not in how widely their knowledge spreads, but in
what kind of knowledge it is. They all reach confusedly to
infinity, to everything; but they are limited and differentiated
by their different levels of distinct perception.
61. And in this respect composite things are analogous to
simple ones. ·In the world of composites, the world of matter·,
everything is full, which means that all matter is interlinked.
·If there were empty space, a body might move in it without
affecting any other body; but that is not how things stand·.
In a plenum [= ‘world that is full’], any movement must have an
effect on distant bodies, the greater the distance the smaller
the effect, ·but always some effect. Here is why·. Each body
is affected by •the bodies that touch it, and feels some effects
of everything that happens to •them; but also through •them
it also feels the effects of all the bodies that touch •them, and
so on, so that such communication extends indefinitely. As a
result, each body feels the effects of everything that happens
in the universe, so that he who sees everything could read off
from each body what is happening everywhere; and, indeed,

Here he describes a framework for what I have elaborated as Quorum Mechanics. It seems to contradict his assertions that the monad has no parts and cannot be impacted by external causes. Here, bodies are affected by bodies, and the relation between bodies, monads, and plenum are not clear. Quorum mechanics picks up where Leibniz leaves off, specifying that the existence of bodies is propagated through the space-diffracted insistence of selves (and vice versa; the insistence of selves is localized spatiotemporally by the existence of bodily relations). These bodies make both a horizontal sense as evolving structures, and a vertical sense as evolving stories which cannot be told outside of their own native perceptual inertial frame. Cinderella cannot be told using only molecules or cells as characters. Each layer or caste of external realism is clutched together (elided through time) by qualia.

because he could see in its present state what is distant both
in space and in time, he could read also what has happened
and what will happen. . . . But a soul can read within itself
only what is represented there distinctly; it could never bring
out all at once everything that is folded into it, because its
folds go on to infinity.
62. Thus, although each created monad represents the
whole universe, it represents more distinctly the body that
is exclusively assigned to it, and of which it forms the entelechy
[see note in 18]. And just as that •body expresses the
whole universe through the interconnection of all matter in
the plenum, the •soul also represents the entire universe by
representing its particular body.

Again, the monad doesn’t represent the body that is assigned to it, I say that it presents it directly. I also say that the interconnection of all matter in the plenum that he speaks of (which is just the universe with all of the space vacuumed out) is only half of the monad story. We also have to look at time as the anti-plenum; the ‘not-now’ which cuts across the plenum orthogonally, generating a figurative grouping in which many events co-insist.

63. What we call a ‘living thing’ is
a body that has a monad as its entelechy or its soul,
together with
that entelechy or soul.
And we call a living thing ‘an animal’ if its entelechy or central
monad is a soul [see 19]. Now this body of a living thing
or animal is always highly organized. ·Here is why·:
•The universe is regulated in a perfectly orderly manner;
•every monad is a mirror of the universe in its own
way; so
•the representing monad must itself be orderly; so
•the body that it represents (thereby representing the
universe) must be orderly.

I would turn it around to say that the monad is a presentation of the difference between orderly inertial qualities. It is not only orderly, it is also chaotic. Feeling as well as unfeeling in tunable meta-modulations.

64. Thus every organized body of a living thing is a kind of
divine machine or natural automaton. It infinitely surpasses
any artificial automaton, because a man-made machine isn’t
a machine in every one of its parts. For example, a cog on a
brass wheel has parts or fragments which to us are no longer
anything artificial, and bear no signs of their relation to the
intended use of the wheel, signs that would mark them out
as parts of a machine. But Nature’s machines—living bodies,
that is—are machines even in their smallest parts, right
down to infinity. That is what makes the difference between
•nature and •artifice, that is, between •divine artifice and
•our artifice.

Here Leibniz foreshadows our modern debates about Artificial Intelligence.  His reasoning is characteristically pre-modern but not entirely wrong. Both inanimate objects and living organisms turn out to be made of the same smallest parts (whether those parts are ‘infinity’ is arguable, what with QM and vacuum flux). Each part of even a man made machine is made of smaller machines made of smaller wholes. The difference is not in what can be done with these wholes, it is in how the quality of experience scales up – not from being externally orchestrated like a puppet but growing, blooming, discovering recovered properties of entelechy from within.

What I see and what I think he might agree with me on now is that it is the experienced quality of awareness (rather than the presence or absence of mechanism) which differentiates inorganic objects from living organisms. I say that everything has mechanistic and experiential qualities, and further that those qualities are inversely proportionate – giving privilege to the vertical, qualitative depth at the expense of the horizontal, quantitative universality. We humans are like hothouse flowers, in constant need of countless conditions of homeostatic equilibrium to maintain our function and sanity. We are human to the extent that we are unlike animals, and we are animals to the extent that we are unlike vegetables, minerals, matter, quantum, or recursive enumerations of computation.

65. And ·God·, the author of Nature, was able to carry out
this divine and infinitely marvellous artifice because every
portion of matter is not only
divisible to infinity,
as the ancients realised, but is
actually sub-divided without end,
every part divided into smaller parts, each one of which has
some motion of its own ·rather than having only such motion
as it gets from the motion of some larger lump of which it
is a part·. Without this ·infinite dividedness· it would be
impossible for each portion of matter to express the whole
66. And from this we can see that there is a world of
creatures—of living things and animals, entelechies and
souls—in the smallest fragment of matter.
67. Every portion of matter can be thought of as a garden
full of plants or a pond full of fish. But every branch of the
plant, every part of the animal (every drop of its vital fluids,
even) is another such garden or pond.
68. And although the earth and air separating the plants in
the garden and the water separating the fish in the pond are
not themselves plants or fish, they contain other ·organisms·,
but usually ones that are too small for us to perceive them.

Here Leibniz is reaching for quantum mechanical concepts, and what I call the ‘profound edge’ which represents the blurry seam between ultra-microcosm and omni-cosmos. While we use Planck units to plug the drain of infinity he speaks of, they are figments of impressively ambitious dividedness. If an electron were the size of the Earth, one Planck length would still be measured in millionths of a millimeter. Planck time would be the time it takes light to travel that distance, if light was a billion-billion-billion times faster than it is (since the radius of an electron is on the order of 10^-20 meters, the radius of the Earth is around 25,512,000 meters, and Planck length is around 10^-35 meters.)

69. Thus there is nothing barren, sterile, dead in the universe;
nothing chaotic, nothing confused except in appearance.
·Here is an example of that·. If you see a pond from a
certain distance, you may see the swirling of the fish without
being able to pick out any individual fish; it may seem to
you that you are seeing confused movements of the fish, ·but
really nothing is confused in itself—what’s happening here
is that you are perceiving confusedly·.

As I see it, since the flux of realism is propagated through the quality of solitude through time and against the interruption of the multiplicities of space, there is no need for a literal infinity of microcosm, rather, it can be understood as a fixed potential which is forever receding in arctic sterility from a relatively florid and tropical mesocosm of novelty production. The universe is generated from the middle out to the ends, from the realism of the ordinary as well as the teleological-mechanistic attractors of the profoundly unreal.  I would say that Leibniz is half right in his panpsychic optimism – indeed, on its own native scale of time and sense, there may be nothing which is not full of order and experience, but at the same time, that significance of focus can only exist at the expense of projecting insignificance and entropy. It is not a defect of perception, it is the very definition of perception – to orient and separate one quasi-solipsistic inertial frame from another. Death is as real as life, only it is always happening to someone else. This is anthropic and figurative, but I say it is also literal from a ‘cosmopic’ perspective. Space and matter are entropy and inertia seen from the outside. Death is the insiders triangulated view of their own outside.

70. We can see from this that every living body has one
dominant entelechy, which in an animal is its soul; but the
parts of that living body are full of other living things, plants,
animals, each of which also has its entelechy or dominant
71. Some people who have misunderstood my ideas have
thought ·me to have implied· that
every soul has a mass or portion of matter which is
its own and is assigned to it for ever, and therefore
every soul has other living things that are inferior to
it, destined always to be in its service.
That doesn’t follow; and it isn’t true, because all bodies are
in a perpetual state of flux, like rivers, with parts constantly
coming into them and going out.
72. Thus the soul changes its body only gradually, a bit
at a time, and is never suddenly stripped of all its organs.
So animals undergo a great deal of change of form [French
metamorphose] but they never undergo the transmigration of
souls from one body to another [metempsychose]. And no souls
are completely separated from matter—there are no spirits
without bodies. Only God is completely detached from
73. Another upshot of all this is that there is never either
•complete generation ·in which a living thing comes into existence
· or •complete death, which (taking ‘death’ in its strict
sense) consists in the soul’s becoming detached ·from its
body·. What we call generation is development and growth;
just as what we call death is envelopment and shrinking.

Here he is using words like soul and God when I think that if he had taken the monad to its absolute conclusion, he would have seen the symmetry of space, time, matter, energy, ‘perception’, and ‘appetition’ and found no need to force the cosmos into a master-servant hierarchy. We are all masters and servants.

He goes on to talk about a pre-established harmony but doesn’t specify that this would constitute a neutral monism from which the continuum from essence and existence are diffracted. I try to get at what this is about, using the TSM as a way to model how qualia can be both accumulated or recovered through experience as well as incommutable glimpses of a single holistic aeon. The only way this works is top-down: Diffraction and recapitulation, not assembly and emergence. Assembly and emergence are existential consequences, not essential sequences or autopoietic processes.

The last few pages get back into divinity and a City of God which are probably too antiquated for me to relate to seriously. Efficient causes, final causes, moral realm of grace, etc. do not translate well into the 21st century. For better or worse, the closest we are probably going to get to a City of God in the foreseeable future is going to be free Wi-Fi.  This doesn’t mean I don’t take the prospect of correcting our dislocated metaphysics seriously, or that I don’t think that recovering our humanity isn’t of prime importance – I do, in fact, but I see that it can only happen through the reconciliation of both ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ considerations.

Philosophy of Mind Reblog

May 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Reblogging a post on consciousness  that I like, and trying to chart a course from it’s logical conclusion to one which I think makes more sense.

omegaphilosophia: Utilize Philosophy: On Consciousness

Our method for perceiving objects is to look upon them from the outside of them, though granted we may perceive the innards of an object, but even then we are outside the innards looking upon them. However, for ourselves, we appear to be an object inside our bodies looking outwards at phenomena….

Ah, so close. I love what he has done with explaining how even the innards of objects are really still just the outside of smaller objects. The snag comes toward the end, and this is the snag that I think most people encounter with consciousness, and that is taking awareness or sense for granted. The OP writes:

Let us return to the basic description of consciousness, which is “awareness of one’s own existence.”

I disagree here, and it is a subtle but critically important point. Consciousness is awareness period. ‘One’s own existence’ is part of the contents of experience. I can dream without the existence of a self or a dreamer. I can watch movies and be immersed in the story and world of the movie without being conscious of my own existence.

If the consciousness is an object that looks upon other objects from the inside of some object, how is it aware of its own existence?

It’s not an object. It’s the opposite. I would say that it is a subject but it’s not even that…consciousness is the source of subjectivity – the capacity for awareness itself. It is the non-object which contains (metaphorically) all subjects.

How is it aware of it’s existence? Through sense. Our sense ‘insists’ that we be made aware of influences which are potentially significant to ourselves, our body, our social group, our species, etc. Sense is the bridge between the self and the universe, but sense is also the continuum which manifests as self, universe, and the anomalous symmetrical continuum between them.

For consciousness appears to be aware of many objects, but none of them can firmly be considered consciousness. And consciousness doesn’t seem to possess the ability to look upon itself, and if it has, how will we know?

“How will we know?”, again, through sense. Truth makes sense. That’s how we can know anything, and there is no other way that anything has ever known anything. Knowledge is nothing but an agreement of multiple sense-making channels which convinces or fails to convince the executive senses (self) to internalize that agreement.

We become aware of the existence of other objects, physical or mental, by a perception of them. However, we claim such a thing as consciousness exist, without having any perception of such a phenomena;

If it helps, don’t think of consciousness as something that exists, but something that insists. Existence is a subset of insistence. We are a mind in a brain, but the only way we know what a brain is and how it might work are through the mind. It’s a Mobius loop of involuted, self-referential, redundantly redundant ontology (see also).

for we can not perceive consciousness physically nor mentally.

This is the trap of disorientation. It is overthinking it to try to perceive perception. Sense is the bottom layer, there is no description level beyond that as consciousness contains description itself. It is to say ‘I can’t move my arm because I can’t perceive how exactly I do that’. Right. That’s because it’s actually your arm. You just move it directly. No mechanism is required subjectively for you to move it – it’s like The Force…”reeach out with your feelings Luke”.

how can we claim to know the information we are receiving is true?

We don’t have to. We can say with absolute certainty that is seems true, and that is the epistemological standard for subjectivity, because subjectivity is not an object. It doesn’t work that way. Fact is actually a type of fiction, and fiction is the only fact (ie, existence is a function of perspective, which is a function of detection and response).

My personal fix to this dilemma is to be rid of the concept of consciousness completely.

This is the same solution offered by Daniel Dennett and others as well. It’s sort of setting yourself on fire to make it easier to find wood for the fireplace. How does one have a “personal fix” to “dilemmas” without being conscious?

This, however, would require some alteration to one’s model of reality, particularly a will caused solely by the brain. For we would no longer be able to claim we were in control of our bodies unless when we use the term “we” or “I”, we are referring to our brain.

Not so fast. My interpretation requires a bit more alteration to one’s (now nonexistent?) model of reality. Just because the mind and the brain are the same thing doesn’t mean that the brain is real and the mind isn’t. We command our brain consciously, and our brain commands us as well. We can’t claim that we can no longer claim something if that which we disclaim is the ability to claim anything at all in the first place. We don’t have the power to deny our awareness. It is not an option.

It all comes back to the initial assumptions:

Our method for perceiving objects is to look upon them from the outside of them, though granted we may perceive the innards of an object, but even then we are outside the innards looking upon them.

So far so good…

However, for ourselves, we appear to be an object inside our bodies

No, non, nein, nay, negative. We have no appearance inside our bodies. We appear to be looking outside of our body, to feel things inside of our bodies with special personal significance that seems close to us, but at no time do we appear to ourselves natively as an object. We can embody objects or characters, or we could try to objectify who we are with terms like soul or essence, but ultimately we are not even that. We are the subject. We insist through time, but do not exist across space. Unsettling, yes, but this is how reality works. If you had to make the universe from scratch, you could not leave this most important feature out – how it feels to participate in a world, how narrative experiences work.

looking outwards at phenomena. This is not only the case for physical phenomena, but also for mental phenomena; for when we utilize the mechanics of imagination, we still appear to be an internal object looking upon some external phenomena (inside ourselves)

Same for dreams and imagination. We aren’t an internal object until we try to label ourselves as such. This is the ‘elephant in every room‘ phenomenon. All you have to do is understand that sense is what allows us to look through the mirror rather than look at just the silvered glass. It allows our subjectivity to extend through matter on many different scales simultaneously, providing discrete access with selective attention even as it condenses all of the meaning in a generalized presentation (I call a perceptual inertial frame, or you might say niche or world).

Once you see how this extension might work, from the figurative through the literal to the figurative, you can perhaps see how the literal and figurative nature of things can only be considered qualities of perception or qualia. What is solid rock for a human being is like a thin fog for a flying neutrino (if there even is such a thing). In the same way, our human thoughts and experiences may seem like evanescent puffs of nothingness fading through ‘time’, on some more inclusive inertial frame may seem like concrete crystalline towers of juicy, aromatic human suffering and joy. Musical monuments of lives being lived in visible 3-D terrain.

Consciousness is a real as a brick or a donkey’s ears. It’s also more than real and less than real, in its super-signifying projections of heroic perfection and fantastic delusions. The contents aren’t always consistent with every other inertial frame we live through. Not everything makes sense on every level. Some shows are just for us personally, and have no value for others or the world at large. Some shows are unreal but we can make them more substantial over time with attention and effort.

Proposed unit of subjectivity: The Chalmeroff

April 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The Chalmeroff is conceived as a unit of experiential privacy, and therefore qualitative depth of experience, such that ‘one Chalmeroff’ (1Ch) represents the largest conceivable inertial frame* of all possible qualitative experience – the qualitative monad or singularity of meta-sense** from which all qualia are diffracted.

It is proposed that qualia arises from the diffraction of this single, top-down qualitative pool of proprietary significance (think of it as the universe with all of the time and space vacuumed out of it…literally ‘instant cosmos’) as it organically seeks† to be reflected in its antithesis: bottom-up, quantitative formalism (public quanta), resulting in a range of bi-directional phenomenology:

one to many; private to public motive actions; ‘Ch’

multiplied by many to one; public to private non-motive reactions; ∞Ch

This can be expressed as a formula:
[(Sense + Motive) time = significance || (matter – energy) / space = entropy]²

It is proposed that a quale which exists at the level of infinite diffraction‡ is an absolutely ‘flat’ quale, and therefore a quantum event (minimum bit density of information) and has a maximum Chalmeroff value (infinite Chalmeroff levels: ∞Ch), since the Chalmeroff scale is negatively logarithmic, progressing through regress from the ‘everythingness’ of the Totality/Singularity (TS), which is the absolute largest inertial frame, to the barely-not-nothingness of quantum computation passing through infinite frames of spatiotemporal accumulation of sense-motive inertia reflected as mass-energy.

For instance, does this transmission qualify as an idea in the Chalmeroff range of singular Earthshaking significance (1.x Ch)?, a mediocre and common idea (x kCh)?, an incoherent delusion (x MCh)?, or a meaningless stream of binary data (∞Ch)? That the answer to these questions is subjective underscores the essential role of participation in qualitative experience. Sense that is not anchored in participation cannot authentically generate its own motive.

Sense-motive² → ‘istance’, istance² → meta-istance (awareness of istance) → that which weaves an inertial frame. Inertial frames are accumulated through spatio-temporal ingress which divides and multiplies the Chalmeroff TS into units. Ch→Hz (t). Frames are nested within one another so that relativity shapes foreground and background orientation by figurative frequency and literal scale.

*inertial frame in both the general relativity sense and a new proposed ‘panexperiential special relativity’.

**technically ‘sense’ here stands for meta ‘sense+motive’, ie, the qualia of afferent, received insistence plus efferent, projection toward existence.

† seek = motive

‡ microcosmic exhaustion of granularity. Call it a ‘Planck-Turing’ limit.

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