Antrhopomorphism and Mechanemorphism

Antrhopomorphism and Mechanemorphism

1. What is meant by mechanemorphism?

Anthropomorphize = To attribute human form or personality to things not human
Mechanemorphize = To attribute machine form or impersonality to things not mechanical.

The Multisense Realism perspective is grounded in a philosophy of science which seeks to be more objective about objectivity itself. In Western models of consciousness, experience is generated by the objective mechanism, the forms and functions of the brain.  As a result, the subjective experience itself, which does not seem mechanically necessary, becomes orphaned. I have heard it referred to as an illusion, an emergent property, epiphenomena, or even a spandrel (evolutionary side effect which plays no role in further developments). These kinds of terms are necessary to overlook the dualism which mechanemoprhism creates. It is a way of silencing or explaining away the very phenomenon which give rise to the inquiry into consciousness in the first place. This phenomenon of human inquiry is very much the opposite of mechanism. It is a personal participation which arises from meaning and motive rather than blind energy. It is a ‘Why?’ as well as a ‘How’.

When we, as upstanding citizens of the Western scientific consensus, mechanemorphize ourselves it is because we are considering only the public facing aspects of {the total phenomenon that we are} and finding them mechanistic. The conjecture of MSR is that because consciousness is more likely to use mechanism for differentiation and extension than machines are to use consciousness for anything (why would they?), we should not assume the public presentation of our own mechanism is the fundamental phenomenon. MSR suggests that perceptual relativity itself, the sense of the contrast between private qualia and public quanta, is in fact the most likely universal primitive. While human perception may be local to this planet during a relatively short era, perceptual relativity as a phenomenon is larger, older, and more universal than physics. Mechanism must be learned. Feeling and being is innate.

If we examine the nature of mechanism carefully, we should see that the essence of mechanism is unconsciousness. What is an automaton? What does it mean to automate a process? It means that we squeeze out all requirements for our own participation. It is a function which happens without us.

Why is that important? Because a machine will serve whatever master that it is constructed to serve. It will do the same thing over and over until it breaks, because it can’t tell the difference and it can’t care. The machine itself {the totality of the phenomenon that is the machine} has no presence as a genuine whole which is independent of our expectations of it. Outside of our uses of it, it is only an assembly of unrelated parts.

Natural phenomena are not assembled unconsciously, they are spun off and broken out from larger wholes. They are conceived through fusion and fission of their own sense and motive. As a result, the awareness of something like a human being, which is self-elaborated to an almost perverse degree, has a footprint in many different levels of awareness and interaction. While the public effect of what we are seems mechanistic to us, the private affect of who we are does not seem that way. If we were to recreate the universe and we wanted to recreate it faithfully, we would have to include this non-mechanistic experience, as it is the primary experience of the universe for ourselves, and perhaps for all participants in the universe as well.

To say that someone is ‘robotic’, or ‘acting like a machine’ is to say that they are impersonal, cold, relentless, unfeeling. These meanings are not there by accident, they are universal intuitions. As impartial scientists, we should recognize that it is no more scientific to presume that the universe is fundamentally mechanistic than it would be to presume that it is fundamentally anthropomorphic. We have many indications in non-ordinary consciousness, the placebo effect, quantum mechanics, synchronicity, and the anthropopological universality of spiritual concepts that objectivity is not a matter of what “simply is” but may in fact be, on a more primitive level, the complex interplay of “what seems to be the case”. There is no evidence that this ‘seeming’ can be taken for granted in a physical or mathematical system. There is no argument that I know of which should persuade a neutral party why mechanemorphism deserves more consideration than anthropomorphism as a default ontological assumption. Instead, MSR argues that this contrast of extremes known as anthropomorphism and mechanemorphism are a clue as to the template of the underlying nature of nature – that it is in fact an aesthetic agenda from which human subjectivity is directly descended.

Sense is more than mathematics.

The argument that mathematics is the ultimate reality of the universe is a strong one that has been around for a long time. I would agree that mathematics is an irreplaceable tool for understanding the universe, and for understanding knowledge, but mathematics alone is not sufficient to derive the actual universe which we experience.

Implicit within Multisense Realism is the understanding that mathematics can only be an emergent property of representation and therefore ephiphenomenal. The underlying (and overarching) phenomena of presence or presentation is fundamentally aesthetic and consists of sensory-motor experiences. This is not a biocentric view as inorganic matter is also, by my understanding, a tokenization of aesthetic experiences. The universe can be said to be a significance-building machine, where significance is the temporal super-saturation and transcendence of sensory qualities.

In comparing mathematics to computation, mathematics seems to be a broader category which would embrace ideas which computation cannot, such as irrational numbers and geometric forms. While computation can be used to drive a sensory experience in which geometric forms are inscribed visually or sculpted tangibly, those outputs are irrelevant to the computation itself and are desirable to us purely for aesthetic reasons.

Computation is, however, closer to empirical realism than other kinds of mathematics, since it is rooted in digital interactions which can be reproduced and re-presented in any solid-body/persistent-position form-function. If there is no discrete fundamental unit which is subject to reliable inspection (which is an experiential and aesthetic property that is generally overlooked ) then computation cannot be initiated or preserved. I get into this a bit here.

Mathematics requires both something like a mind and a something like a brain while computation requires only the brain-like machine. By this I mean that the mechanism of computation is a low level sensory-motor interaction (binary switching or lock-stepping) through which higher level interactions can be transported (but not interpreted) from one location to another. This transportation offers the opportunity for reconstruction only if the receiver has the appropriate frame of reference to imitate the sender’s intents. We use a computer to listen to music or watch a video, but in the absence of human receivers, there would only product would be disconnected instants of acoustic or optical activity.

Mathematics similarly owes its universality to its exploitation of a low level ‘common sense’ which depends on similarly overlooked assumptions of the validity of purely conceptual realism. Beyond the isolated axioms upon which Turing computationalism depends, mathematics also depends on a logical, intellectual sense. It presumes an aesthetic minimalism, but does espouse a sense of elegance in spite of its austerity and formalism.  Where computation can be more clearly seen to depend on concrete mechanisms of read/write/erase, storage, pattern recognition, loops, etc., mathematics seeks a loftier and more anesthetic representation – as Baudrillard might have said, a simulacra: A representation without any presentation. In my understanding, mathematics can be thought of as an ultimate reality only in the sense that all of our intellectual models of reality can be rendered in mathematical ways.

Unfortunately, most people conflate the idea of reality with the reality of experience, and have developed a misplaced authority for “information” as the progenitor of physics and awareness. This is, in my view, almost correct, but actually upside down as information can only ride on top of an exchange of aesthetic experiences, which involves public to private extractions of significance and private to public export of entropy. Information, by itself, has never done anything. No byte of data will ever feel anything, be anything, want anything, go anywhere, etc. Mathematics deals in figures, which have no form or function but represent forms and functions. What figures cannot represent is presence itself. There is no substitute for experience, and that is why it is experience which is the ultimate reality – the absolute and authentic substrate of the universe is a unique agenda of aesthetics, not a generic consequence of configured figures.

The conjecture of Multisense Realism is that this unique agenda or agenda of aesthetic uniqueness can be understood as ordinary sense. Sense as in sensation, sense as in cognitive coherence, sense as in intuition, and sense in order and categorization (in which sense?). The word sense is just a word, so it is not absolutely accurate in circumscribing the Totality of all phenomena, but the ‘sense’ which is conveyed through the language of all of those ‘senses’ gives a good hint of what is behind it. The capacity to feel and to do; to discern a difference and to make a difference. That fundamental physical capacity is beneath all form, all function – it is being itself; perception and participation. Without perception (afference) there can be no possibility of participation (efference), and therefore no matter, energy, or time.

In contemporary culture, largely because of the success of computers, it is very popular to believe that information (‘data’) is the underlying reality behind physics. As mentioned above, part of the aim of Multisense Realism is to explain why this belief is almost true, and therefore compelling, but in the case of universal fundamentals, being almost true means being exactly false. Data is not sense, it is not presentation, not aesthetic nor participatory. To the contrary, information without the presence of a sensory-motor experience is anesthetic, theoretical, and re-presentational only. Information is a conceptual entity which we derive by projecting our own experience of being informed onto disembodied functions.

Math can be understood to be sense’s self-negating orthogonal reflection. Where sense is proprietary and signifying, math is universal and generic. Sense takes place ‘here’ and ‘now’, while math can only be used to address ‘then’ and ‘there, there, and there’. Math is position without disposition – a skeletal inference abstracted from logical vectors. It is this minimalistic universality which makes it so powerful for science, and so disastrous for understanding consciousness. Computation is the essence of mechanism, of impersonality – pure extension with no intention. It is nature’s perfect imposter.

The main advantage of Multisense Realism over competing approaches is the recognition that any successful approach to understanding consciousness will have to meet consciousness halfway. This means not just looking for forms and functions which yield some kind of experiential product, but understanding that all forms and functions themselves are products of some level of sensory-motor participation. If thought and feeling are generated by cells and molecules, then cells and molecules must also think and feel in some sense, otherwise we are talking about metaphysical magic in never-never land.

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  1. August 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm

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