Attending TSC this year and in 2012 has played a critical role, and continues to play a role in inspiring me to develop Multisense Realism. David Chalmers work in particular, with his elucidation of the various forms of panpsychism in his recent papers Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism and The Combination Problem for Panpsychism has been invaluable.
From the former paper :
“Panpsychism is sometimes dismissed as a crazy view, but this reaction on its own is not a serious objection. While the view is counterintuitive to some, there is good reason to think that any view of consciousness must embrace some counterintuitive conclusions. Furthermore, intuitions about panpsychism seem to vary heavily with culture and with historical period. The view has a long history in both Eastern and Western philosophy, and many of the greatest philosophers have taken it seriously. It is true that we do not have much direct evidence for panpsychism, but we also do not have much direct evidence against it, given the difficulties of detecting the presence or absence of consciousness in other systems. And there are indirect reasons, of a broadly theoretical character, for taking the view seriously.”
In the latter paper, Chalmers offers a rigorous account of The Combination Problem. Multisense Realism begins as a proposed solution to the Combination Problem in which the explanatory gap between physical and phenomenal states are bridged by a continuum/spectrum of relativistic qualities of sensitivity.
From the macro to the micro, physical to phenomenal, under MSR, every perspective contributes its own frame of reference to what could be considered a totality of reference. Through this super-monad, not only are physics and phenomenology reconciled, but ontology itself. ‘Isness’ and ‘Aboutness’ are reconsidered as ‘Seems’ and ‘Seems like’.
It is the aim of MSR to begin to characterize and document this spectrum of meta-ontology, in which definition itself is created, preserved, and dissolved…even while, in another sense, not creating, preserving, or dissolving anything. Amidst all of this relativism and paraconsistent logic, it is proposed that within every frame of reference there is also the potential to access unambiguous clarity, simplicity, and wholeness. At the center of every center, there is a default experience – a reflection of the totality; home, safe, within or ‘in here’. This anchoring should not be presumed to be the exclusive province of human consciousness or even zoology or biology. All of physics and mathematics contains implicit vantage points from which objects are defined. In this way at least, sense should be seen to pre-figure all figures and forms, all objects and subjects.
What PIP suggests is that even relativity is relative. There “is” an Absolute frame of reference, consisting of the capacity to orient sensibly. From that foundation, it becomes possible to ‘make sense’. Existence is suggested, not as a facile axiom, but as a concrete presentation of here and now that is a‘living’ coordination of aesthetic encounters. This view of the cosmos is one in which divergence and disentanglement of privacies precedes an emergence of spacetime, nucleated in the now.
The work of Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose have also inspired my thinking as well. MSR introduces a kind of perceptual relativity at every level of scale (named Eigenmorphism), and a Lorentz-style complementarity to the Orchestrated Objective Reduction called Subjective Inflation (i.e. Orch OR+SI). The publicity of quantum mechanics finds a kind of twin realization in the privacy of qualitative gestalts. Wave-function collapse is reflected as a figurative bolt of lightning from the totality into locality.
Like a lightning bolt, a uniquely jagged path traces its route from vector to vector, describing not only a generic/recombinatory state change, but a proprietary and unrepeatable address. This path can be imagined to strike through what might be described as an ‘improbability space’ – a top-down complement to the bottom-up view of quantum theory.
Through this influx of novelty, the present moment of here and now is inflated to superlative significance which recapitulates the inflation as well, so that eternity is reflected in each moment. This idea owes a lot to Eastern concepts such as the Net of Indra and Akashic Records. The idea is that each moment’s route to the present from the Absolute is preserved within it. This is quite an abstruse concept, and requires much deeper consideration than can be expressed here, but let this be at least a premonition of the potential for a productive if not testable form of ‘private physics’.
I have very much appreciated the contributions of Deepak Chopra, Giulio Tononi, and Donald Hoffman as well, each of whom present important pieces to the puzzle. Where I diverge from their views is only in particular details that arise from my premises. I do not see the world as a simulation or illusion, but rather, in any given frame of reference, the exterior world is as real as anything could possibly be…more ‘real’ in a way, than individual subjectivity. In my view, it is only from the Absolute frame of reference that matter is ‘unreal’ and subjective-like phenomena are the firmament. I see our subjective experience as both more-than-real and less-than-real, but not as the only arbiter of realism. MSR is not solipsism, but perhaps more of a holopsism.
Where Tononi’s IIT models a topological qualia space, I imagine a stratified but contiguous medium of sedimented experience from which qualia is carved out subtractively. There is simply no space in the universe that is not qualia already, nowhere to build it up from scratch. Instead, qualia is etched out of the local surface to the depths toward its source in the Absolute frame (beneath and beyond).
The flavor of strawberries for example, under MSR, is a kind of gestalt which traces a likeness of all the experience of animals eating fruit, of all fruit bearing plants, etc going back to indefinitely. Qualia is *not* a simple translation from molecular code to phenomenal effect. As humans, we are highly elaborated, so our divided senses can conflict, but this does not mean, in my view, that it is evidence of a faulty and solipsistic simulation. Illusions and misperceptions reveal more, not less, about the full reality of objective and subjective relation, even if the content is incompatible with the local frame of reference. The flavor of strawberries really is the flavor of the actual fruit, not simply a computation of indirectly generated data. One does not cause the other, they reflect different perceptual frame of reference. For this reason I reject all contemporary Strong AI approaches as implausible, since producing a mechanism capable of simulating expected outputs from a given input would be doing so based on mathematical contingencies rather than the kind of hyper-physics of sedimented experience that I suggest.
Donald Hoffman’s Conscious Realism seems to overlap with MSR very closely however here too I propose that even the idea of conscious agents are figments of the interface. If we drop the requirement of ‘agents’ to consciousness, the notion of panpsychism becomes more palatable, and the Combination Problem is eased if not completely transcended. If we see self-ness as the ‘king of qualia’ rather than the price of entry to consciousness, then we open the door to a profoundly interesting universe of ‘dark qualia’ which would, (as it contains the content of both past and future relative to any nested frame) dwarf the scale of dark energy. It seems possible that dark energy is the local footprint of this eternal continuity of experience.
Thanks also to my ideological adversaries in this as well. Susan Blackmore’s no-nonsense approach and commitment to empirical evidence is a welcome influence, as well as Daniel Dennett’s humor and uncompromising cynicism. In many ways, my own view is informed by turning the tables on doubt so that in addition to being skeptical of our interior experience, in favor of exterior scientific evidence, I would add that we must introduce a new skepticism of the presumption of the universality and completeness of even those scientific descriptions. What is true on one level may not be true on another, and each level has its own fundamental truth independent of every other.
Thanks to Jody Weiss and everyone else that I have met here at the conference too, who have also contributed to this ongoing development, both directly and indirectly.
Yours in Consciousness,
Craig Weinberg, @s33light
Abstract Title: Multisense Realism: Ultimate Topics In Consciousness
Primary Topic Area: [01.02]……..Ontology of consciousness
Secondary Topic Area: [01.07]……..The ‘hard problem’ and the explanatory gap
Abstract: Multisense Realism (MSR) is intended to pick up where panpsychism leaves off. Consisting of an informal framework of core concepts developed from diverse influences such as semiotics, neuroscience, and anthropology, MSR proposes a united continuum of physics and phenomenology. MSR addresses five problems (The Hard Problem of Consciousness, The Explanatory Gap, The Combination or Binding Problem, The Symbol Grounding Problem, and the Mind Body Symmetry Problem) as a single Presentation Problem, while exposing fundamental flaws in popular competing approaches. MSR aspires to be a universal meta-theory which reconciles the plausible and the absurd under the umbrella of a single irreducible synthetic a priori, and in the process reinterprets the number one, the Big Bang, and the ontology of light.
Key words: consciousness;philosophy;philosophy of mind;physics;metaphysics;cosmology;qualia;panpsychism;theory of everything
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.
In comparing popular worldviews and philosophies of mind, a distinct polarizing pattern arises which I call ACME (Anything Can Mean Everything) and OMMM (Only Material Mechanisms Matter). While each side has compelling reasoning, best intentions, and powerful claims to authority, it is the symmetry and ferocity of their opposition to each other which I think proves enlightening.
What I am attempting to show here is how extremism in either camp stereotypes the other camp, making itself an unreasonable caricature of reason in the process. To begin with, the two camps disagree on basic definitions:
universe = absolutely spiritual universe = absolutely material
subjective imagination rules objective empiricism rules
Tarot, I Ching, Prayer Quantum Mechanics, Economics
charismatic love cause and effect
‘top down’ meaning and order ‘bottom up’ probability
superstition, mania, pareidolia, woo cynicism, depression, reactionary
naive, simplistic jaded, dismissive
identification with the divine will identification with inanimate logic
life=spirit-ghosts, matter=illusion life=zombie-robots, matter=fact
objective world is a dream, maya subjective world irrelevant
time = synchronicity, zeitgeist time = uniform duration; t
I AM THAT I AM i = square root of negative one
How OMMM sees ACME:
Like the ubiquitous manufacturer of cartoon products, ACME is Cargo Cult optimism. A naive belief, rooted in pareidolia/apophenia that the cosmos exists to provide one with whatever one wants, (so long as the recipient is worthy of said blessings).
This is Santa Claus, pure and simple. The universe is your vending machine, with all the universe’s comforts and satisfactions available to you simply for the asking. A prayer, a sacrificial offering, some mumbo jumbo, and a bit of humble narcissism is the only coin required to nudge the supreme creator of existence into doing your bidding. God is your parent, partner, confessor, forgiver, and servant. He loves you even though you mainly talk to him when you think you might want something from him. He’s omniscient, but really he can’t see through your transparent pretense of needy, fear-based petty egotism. He really favors you only because you’re more deserving – you’re special, you’re saved. Your accidents happen for a reason. There are no coincidences. ACME provides everything for free in a universe devoid of respect for real world circumstance.
How ACME views OMMM.
Like a mantra of determinism, OMMM is so Western that it has become Eastern without knowing it. Meaningless and repetitive, the worldview of physical facts and figures literally leaves nothing to the imagination. We are the universe’s powerless prisoner. Rooted in the strong teleology that the universe is devoid of strong teleology, OMMM is blind faith in the power of transcending blind faith.
The human subject is conceived of as a solipsistic blob of deluded protoplasm which nonetheless is the sole source of rich perception in an unconscious universal machine. Human consciousness is seen as an impressive but unexceptional function of a machine; a statistically inevitable consequence of complexity and simple physical-arithmetic laws.
OMMM takes the role of a voyeur, detached from the cosmos as a medium of pure skeptical logic, yet its fundamental terms are a rich tongue-in-cheek mythology of dark matter, black holes, anti-particles (that are also anti-waves?), indivisible quark trinities, etc. What we don’t find is any sign of ourselves or our lives.
Instead the pinnacle of human development seems to be to function as an empty vessel of observation, a pristine and empirical anti-guru who has shed all human identity and mortality to bestow upon the foolish masses the crystal clarity and unflinchingly defiant message of enlightenment. Its Anti-Cogito: ‘There is no proof of consciousness – you just think that you think, therefore you aren’t.’ You have ‘become none’ with the epistemological supremacy of the Youniverse. Dissolved into the bliss of science. OMMM.
Having experienced being a supporter of each side of ACME-OMMM battlefield, I now see them as natural extremes which human consciousness is prone to. That the theme of subjectivity and objectivity is embodied directly in these extremes should be a clue to us that they are only at war on one level but are essentially the same impulse on a deeper level. I feel like I have benefited over the years from exploring both sides, but that ultimately I find the extremes to be crutches to help us lean on one side of reality or the other without having to embrace full spectrum realism. We get comfortable in our familiar psychological territory and we reinforce that tunnel reality, selectively ignoring, distorting, and denying those aspects of the continuum outside of our comfort zone.
The Cosmos is a word for order, and that’s what it is and that’s what it does. It makes sense, it builds private pockets of significance through experience and it kicks out entropy in the form of dissolving forms across public space. Some order is subjective, pulling us toward meaning and the self, some is objective, falling meaninglessly into habit and evanescence. When we contemplate a universe in which either the objective and subjective sense monopolizes the other completely, I think that what we get is a monosense unrealism. What I suggest, is that we incorporate even those extreme specializations in the opposite ontology: A Multisense Realism, in which every nonsense makes is a kind of sense from some perspective, and every sense is nonsense from some perspective.
In between the two ACME/OMMM poles, we may find a spectrum of worldview which honors the empirical realities without sacrificing the enchantment of the Cosmos and the Self. No Santa Claus, no Frankenstein, but fully real people, real worlds, real characters and destinies, with all their dream filled, deluded dramas and scientific revolutions.
Ultimately the neurological processes that produce our human consciousness are no different from those of the rest of the Cosmos. If there is meaning in here, there is at least the capacity support meaning out there. The idea of a Cosmos that manages to evolve a trillion cell organism which is positively dripping with layers of meaning, order, and purpose without getting even a speck of it on itself is a little far fetched. By the same token, the existence of those trillion cells, their molecules and atoms, seems a little elaborate for a universe that could get by on abracadabra if it wanted to. I suggest that it is the symmetry of fact and fiction, knowledge and mystery which is the primordial firmament. If I had to build a universe from scratch, that is how I would begin the recipe.