The Presentation Problem


The Presentation Problem view looks at the core issue behind five major problems in philosophy and cognitive science as a single underlying issue:

1. Hard Problem = Why is X presented as an experience?

(X = “information”, logical or physical functions, calcium waves, action potentials, Bayesian integrations, etc.)

2. Explanatory Gap = How and where is presentation accomplished with respect to X?

3. Binding Problem = How are presented experiences segregated and combined with each other? How do presentations cohere?

4. Symbol Grounding = How are experiences associated with each other on multiple levels of presentation? How do presentations adhere?

5. Mind Body Problem = Why do public facing presences and private facing presences seem ontologically exclusive and aesthetically opposite to each other?

My argument in a nutshell:

  • Sense is not an emergent property of information or matter.
  • Matter is a persistence of sense through time which we perceive as volume-densities in space.
  • To be informed is to recover significance through sense.
  • Significance is the inherent property of private experience to seek its own sensory saturation.
  • Sense is primordial, concrete, visceral, and physically real.
  • Terms like “information” or sense data are misleading in that they imply a substance-like phenomenon – which is, in my understanding, precisely the opposite of the the physical reality.
  • A worldview based on the premature assumption of sense as dependent upon functions and forms (which are actually aesthetic categories within sensory experience) is a worldview in which sense is an accidental product of non-sense, effectively undermining the intellectual authority which produces it.

In my view, theses are all the same issue which can only be resolved one way – and that is that presentation itself is the purpose of the universe. Once we assign absolute priority to presence, and understand presence as  identical to sensory-motor participation (again this has nothing to do with *human* consciousness, I am talking about physics here), then all of the above conundrums tie up without much effort.

1. Why is X presented? Because all there can ever “be” is presentation, and presence and being are the same thing. Participatory perception (sense) is fundamental, X is derived. We have the Hard Problem upside down because we are taking our own experience too literally on one hand, seeing the universe as fundamentally X, and too figuratively on the other, seeing ourselves as a de-facto metaphysical ‘illusion’. What we miss, in the modern Western mode of thought, is that of course we are not going to perceive our own perceptual capacity as being as ‘real’ as X, because the whole point of being human is to perceive the universe as a human quality edition of X.

Looking backward into the camera lens to find the photographer doesn’t work. Looking into the movie to find the director doesn’t work. All that we can do is deduce and infer our own realism by virtue of the fact that our unrealism cannot ultimately make sense on any level unless we buy into the presumption that X is more ‘real’ than the experience of X. As long as the quality of realism is attributed to X rather than the experience of X, then we cannot  honestly address the Ouroboran nature of the universal relation.

The universal relation, I submit, is the same as our own human subject-object dichotomy, and that all X is the public tip of a private iceberg – though the nature of that privacy may not be anything like what we would expect. All that we see as carbon atoms in the universe could be part of a unified experience in which a single instant is both a million years and a Planck time in duration simultaneously (i.e. our own lifetime is simultaneously decades long but the active window is ~0.1 seconds)

2. Explanatory Gap = How and where is presentation accomplished with respect to X?

This one’s easy. There is no how or where with respect to presentation since it is the universal ground of being already. It is not presentation which needs to be explained, because experience itself is the only possible explanation of experience. “You had to be there” is not just a figure of speech – explanation of presence requires us literally to to a priori possess presence. It cannot be ex-‘plained’ in any way since it is what is already only ‘that which is plain’.

What we are looking at in neuroscience is not about how and where this presumed simulation is being generated, but the public correlates of human privacy. A human being is a single, self-replicating event which appears as a single organism on one level, and as organs, tissues, cells, and molecules on other levels. Each structure on each level has its own history which dates back to the beginning of matter, and together they all have potentials which extend beyond our lifetime.

Rather than diminishing the importance of neuroscience, I think it enhances it. Our mission is not to replace the brain, but to practically realize benefits for the quality of human life.

3 & 4 = How does presentation cohere and adhere?

My hypothesis is that these issues of cognitive science can be clarified by the addition of the sensory-motor foundation. Coherence and adherence are accomplished inherently through the foundation of sense – not because sense is magic, but because as the sole physical principle in the universe, all experiences are derived as second order consequences. Any way that you slice the universe, it makes sense with respect to everything else. All conflicts are temporary from an absolute perspective…although temporary can seem to be an infinite duration from any given local perspective.

It probably sounds too crazy and obscure, but there are a lot of concepts which have touched on this nature of the Totality in mathematics and mysticism alike. I have called it the Big Diffraction, Sole Entropy Well, or Negentropic Monopoly, but others have used words like Tao, Tsimtsum, the Absolute. I can see similar themes in the cardinality of aleph-null and ordinality of omega, the Cantor set. Perhaps the Big Diagonalization is more understandable to the STEM crowd? (Just don’t forget that what is being diagonalized is not arithmetic quantities but experienced qualities). I think that the current QM model’s version of this is the quantum vacuum zero point energy, but that is a misinterpretation in my opinion, as it posits a ‘universe from nothing (which is really oscillations of potential anythings)’ whereas the Sole Entropy Well is a Singularity of Everything within which coherent microcosms are diffracted or insulated temporarily from the Whole. The fabric of the universe is not just the big fish in the small pond, but the big pond in the small fish.

5. Mind-Body Problem

It seems to me that the cleanest way to understand the perplexing nature of our own human experience is to avoid the temptation to buy into substance dualism. Within our subjectivity, it seems that mind and body are not distinct. Deprived of external stimulation, we are quickly subsumed into a fugue of interior experiences. In lucid dreams we seem to be able to directly influence our dream world and all of the contents of the psyche are free to combine polymorphously. It is only through our body’s interaction with other bodies in public space that our attention is captured by a distinctly exterior world of overwhelmingly convincing realism in relation to our own privacy. Simply put, we don’t know that privacy can exist until we are presented with public experiences, primarily through the visual and tactile senses. Combined with the cognitive sense of logic, we participate as a body in a world of other, seemingly stable, macrocosmic bodies.

Without getting into Descartes, Locke, and Kant, I think that the mistake in Western philosophy thus far as been to assume that the realism of the outer world is the ground of being simply because our experience suggests that it is very very important that we take it seriously. That is not in question – of course we should take realism seriously from the perspective of our own human survival… we are mortal, we should avoid flying bullets even if it means cutting our meditation retreat short. The trouble with Idealism was that it came too early. Berkeley and others understanding of the supervenience of all forms of realism on perception was taken to mean *human perception*, which, at the time, was the only thing which anyone cared to consider.

In the intervening years, science has, by extending what we can see and touch into the microcosm, given us every reason to believe that non-human social interaction is commonplace. Even on the bacterial level, group communication and decision making suggests that perception and participation could easily be embedded in the fabric of existence on every level. Indeed, the mind-body problem is no less difficult on any level. Whether it is a neuron, molecule, bacterial, or entire nervous system, the conceptually unbridgeable gap which is nonetheless bridged functionally at all times is identical. It is no easier to explain how we see the world than how we see a neurochemical model of the world, and no easier to explain how a neuron mistakes cell membranes for a hallucinatory fragment of a remembered moment.

My solution, then, can be said to rehabilitate both Berkeleyan idealism, panpsychism, and substance dualism to arrive at a multivalent, multi-level, Ouroboran symmetry from which private experience and public realism emerge. Metaphysical arguments are retired and the whole of private and public phenomena are united in a single involuted continuum or spectrum. This so-called multisense continuum is a range of experiential aesthetic qualities which degrade as increasingly quantified, anesthetic conditions. Private time is a fugue of feeling saturated narratives seeking self-augmentation and resolution. Public space is the opposite – a plenum of body relations and relativistic perspectives.

Despite accusations to the contrary, my views are not the result of any political agenda or fervent wish to believe in any particular view of the universe. I arrive at my conjectures from simple-minded interest in the totality of nature and how to reconcile all that I can of it into a picture that makes as much sense as possible. The advantage of my view is nothing other than that it seems to honor everything that can be honored and leaves out only what truly won’t be missed.

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