Previous Version of Thesis
I. Human consciousness is defined informally as multiple nesting of awareness of awareness. This is not as trivial or tautological a statement as it may sound. Awareness can exist in a non-nested, direct form, as very simple affects such as pain and relief, however the elaborations of such sensations into perceptions, emotions, instincts, and thoughts are what give human consciousness its distinct character. Because terms such as feeling, emotion, and sensation can overlap or be used interchangeably, some ambiguity can be avoided reserving the term consciousness for only the personal umbrella level of awareness within which particular sub-personal and super-personal nested awarenesses are brought to relevance.
If consciousness is a personal level of meta-awareness, the subordinate kinds of awareness will seem to reflect progressively ‘flatter’ and more universal qualities. While this flattening leads to an aesthetically impoverished, impersonal awareness, the applicability of such awareness improves logically. Likewise the super-ordinate kinds of awareness will seem to reflect ever ‘higher’ proprietary qualities. The ‘tall’, ‘thin’ qualia of dream states or other surreal, ecstatic, visionary states are aesthetically opulent but tend toward ineffability and become indiscernible from fantasy. More details on the dynamic scope of human psychology in this post: Public Space, Private Time, and the Aperture of Consciousness
Consciousness as nested awareness is a key concept in multisense realism. Rather than consciousness itself emerging spontaneously from physiological mechanisms, it is suggested that physiology serves to constrain the awareness which is already present. Experiments such as this recent study on psilocybin, the 1995 Crick & Koch study showing that the visual cortex doesn’t contain visual experience, and now this study on neuroimaging trance states are part of a body of evidence suggesting that activity in the brain is not correlated with what we might expect. Complex, aesthetic experiences like a psychedelic trip or composing a complex message seem to coincide with lower activity in the relevant areas of the brain rather than higher levels. A study on color vision revealed that visual experience itself, rather than retinal physiology, determines our calibration of color.
This neuroscientific evidence seems to support Aldous Huxley’s conjecture that the brain acts as a reducing valve. The brain serves as the vehicle of personal attention within a human body, as well as many sub-personal functions, but the brain is an identity within human experience to a much greater extent than our personhood is an identity within the brain. The brain is the right place to look to understand the particulars of human and animal experience, but experience itself, the feeling and being of all participants in nature, cannot be derived from the doing and knowing of bio-computational systems. Without a theory of sense, there is nothing being computed except generic ‘activity’ and the problem of the explanatory gap is merely shifted down a level from that of mind-brain to activity-neuron or information-computation. This is, as critics of Daniel Dennett’s book might say, ‘Consciousness explained away’ instead of explained.
The proposed model of nested awareness is a panexperiential view which asserts that human experience can only realistically be understood to emerge from more primitive experiential phenomena rather than sophisticated biochemical interactions. The biochemistry is understood to be the footprint of the entire evolution of the human experience since the dawn of life, a public tokenization of what has always been a privately manifested show.
- Nested awareness counters the assumption of perception as a physiological mechanism in which sense data  is transduced from physical forms  through neurological signaling. Awareness evolves from simpler awareness as well as drawing intuitively from higher scopes of awareness. Awareness cannot appear as a consequence of unconscious forms or functions, rather forms and functions reflect sensible experiential content.
- Nested awareness posits a sensory-motive collaboration in which human perceptions are condensed and elided from experiences through other (sub-personal, super-personal, micro and macro impersonal) perceptual inertial frames .
- Inertial frames are presented externally as literal scale-nested bodies which presumably correspond to panexperiential correlates.
- The experiential correlates can be mapped to a loose spectrum of sensory-motive phenomenology; an experiential participation at all levels of the microcosm and macrocosm with varying degrees of richness and scopes of experiential recapitulation.
For example, human consciousness typically includes a visual awareness.
Visual awareness is defined as our private, psychological awareness of visual perceptions, conditioned by our expectations and conscious attention.
Visual perception is access to a sense of color, shape, images, etc. It is the subconsciously resolved layer of coherence which, for instance, allows these words to appear to the reader as language rather than meaningless arrangements of meaningless characters.
Visual sensation is the unconscious access to optical phenomena experienced by the microorganisms known as rod and cone cells in the retina.
While cellular sensitivity to visible light is unconscious to us as human beings, the event of detection itself is theorized under nested awareness as an experience of the retinal cells – a feeling, which is shared, condensed, and augmented through the collective experiences of optic nerve and visual cortex. The aforementioned retinal cells are all living eukaryotic organisms bearing a relationship to their subordinate molecules which is roughly analogous (although presumably less perceptually rich) to our relationship with our own organs and tissues. This means that atoms and molecules are defined as having a private sensorimotive charge or proto-experiential quality as well.
II. It is suggested that atoms and molecules employ a kind of molecular quorum sensing or quorum mechanics which presents electromagnetic interactions and properties as internal rhythms and qualities. This is how the work of physics actually gets done, through feeling and doing, not from unconscious execution of ‘laws of physics’. The abstractions of forces and fields are accurate from a third person perspective and essential for doing science and making predicitons, but the notion of quorum mechanics seeks to round out that engineering knowledge with a new sense of tangible realism. Something is actually going on on that level of material interaction which does not require human measurement to exist but is also the ultimate source of human sense and measurement. If consciousness is merely electromagnetic patterns, then electromagnetic patterns must by definition be feelings. If this is the case, then atoms are not mere ideal electromagnetic spheres, but sense-motive transistors – collector/emitter/signifiers which input, output, and integrate condensed experiential frames and sequences.
- The term quorum mechanics is intended to distinguish the signifying intersubjective experience from the proposition of quantum entanglement, which excludes any experiential dimension. Quantum descriptions are entirely public, objective, and conducted across space while quorum mechanical descriptions are private, intersubjective, and induced through sequence (time).
- The implications of this, when applied to light for example, are that rather than discrete photons traveling independently through space as a logically absurd particle~wave pseudosubstance and colliding into our passive rod and cone cells, we might model the dynamic as follows:
Microbiological retinal tissues host photosensitive organic molecules which actively make sense of the visible electromagnetic (optical) conditions of their environment as a service to the cell as a whole. The cell and all single cells may have some degree of photosensitivity on their own, but a multicellular organism is about specialization and concentration of tissues to serve the organism as a whole.
Top level visual sense of color, image, and perspective already is the same thing as the low level cellular detections, no interpretive mechanism or homunculus is required to translate photons into seeing – what we see is a condensed, top level, figurative induction of what ‘we’ as our own retinal cells are ‘seeing’. The neurological signalling through the optic nerve and visual cortex represent photosemantic changes rather than optical -> visual translations.
What is not understood currently by science, and what will likely remain misunderstood for the near future is that our concept of photons is an obstacle to understanding light. Photons are a measure of change in the context of molecular perception, not literal structures in space. Our own sensitivity to light is literally the condensed optical sensitivity of the molecules of our retina, as presented in the rich geometric-chromatic qualia of our visually entrained (sensitive to the sensitivities of the retina as a whole) brain cells.
We are sensitive to our visual cortex perceptions, our cortical neurons are sensitive to retinal feelings, which are sensitive to rod and cone sensations, which are sensitive to photosensitive molecule detections. Note that this chain of sensitivity is bidirectional, so that our top level expectations directly influence our low level sensitivities. When we read text, our eyes are being directed to actively look at the characters and fulfill our expectations of how written words make sense. Cumulative entanglement works through time as well as across cells and molecules, producing perceptual literacy (but at the expense of raw perceptual vitality, which is attenuated through entrainment and conditioning of sense expectations).
When an organism delegates functions to specialized tissues and organs, other cells are unburdened of those molecular functions which have been offloaded, so that they can develop hypertrophied senses within. The central nervous system is such a structure, privileged by total biochemical isolation and osteo-somatic protection, has developed enormous sensorimotive integration capacities. The brain is an massively parallel antenna array for qualia as well as a multi-threaded serial computer.
The extension of telesemantic entanglement through time extends beyond the individual organism as well, so that not only does the path of human visual sense encompass the molecular, biological, and neurological inertial frames but recapitulates the evolution of those frames as well. The saline bathed interior of the eyeball is a precambrian marine microcosm, preserving the experiences of life on Earth in the first billion years of passive photosynthesis. Sight is an expression of pure procaryotic bliss as warm translucent oceans filled with algae that thrived in the light and our common ancestors as their protozoan predators. With light as their source of life, each variation of sunlight and moonlight, every circadian and seasonal angle experienced in rhythmic tones of collective appreciation.
Similarly our ears recapitulate larger, multicellular era histories – the Cambrian explosion with it’s profusion of soft and hard body parts. The contrast of sensitive and insensitive structures in a mobilized marine ecosystem makes acoustic sensation on the level of physical morphology and density which penetrates beyond light reflective surfaces.
Our olfactory qualia may go back to this era as well, but seems like it may have flourished during the more recent periods of land dwelling animals. These are all conjecture of course, but the principle is plausible as a means of explaining the origin of qualia, not as an evolutionary adaptation but as the iconic living tokens of evolution itself.
III. These experiential phenomena (quorum mechanics, sense, perception, awareness, consciousness) are different aspects of same thing: qualitative experience; participation in “now” events which orient a subject to its internal and external conditions.
- This phenomenology is neither metaphysical nor part of a substance dualism, but rather correlates to electromagnetic activity and general relativity in a specific symmetrical fashion. The symmetry is absolute, so that sensorimotive describes experience (pattern, change, and frequency) through time, and electromagnetism refers to the radiation of matter across space.
- Both electromagnetic and sense-motive phenomena are anomalous in that neither is an epiphenomenon of or supervenient upon the other. Both phenomenologies are causally efficacious and influence the behavior and experience of the entity as a whole.
- It’s bi-directional. We can produce epinephrine because we are excited by our experiences in the world or within our minds, or we can become excited because a stimulant substance is introduced into the bloodstream. We change our brain, body, and world with our intentions. Our world changes our body, brain, and ourselves.
- It’s cumulative. We learn to read our environment by retaining and condensing significant experiences which are present continuously thereafter in our perception.
- It is not ‘information’ or ‘emergent properties’. Those terms refer to abstract concepts which describe the function of the process rather than addressing the concrete nature of the phenomena. Sense is reality – the only reality, but it is difficult to conceive of since we cannot get outside of our own sensemaking to observe sense itself as an object. Our own sensemaking can only be inferred by comparing all of our direct experiences and indirect understanding, leaving nothing out.
- It is not a pseudosubstance. It is not ‘soul’ or anima, phlogiston, humours, or aether. There is no substance at all, it is the opposite of substance. It does not ex-ist, it literally and figuratively in-sists.
- It is not animism, antrhopomorphism, or pansychism. Multisense Realism is *not* the idea that ‘everything is alive or conscious, but it is a form of panexperientialism or perhaps perceptual monism…a worldly sense arising through perception as ontological primitive.
- It is private and has little capacity to identify the awareness outside of itself. The ability for one subject to identify with another is directly proportional to the degree of physical and semantic similarity between the two subjects.
- It is genuine and authentic. Sense-motive phenomena cannot be simulated. It is either experienced first hand or it is not. Color which is not seen is not color. Everything we can know about our own consciousness can be discovered by contemplating the full meaning of the word ‘I’, and nothing can be discovered about human consciousness without being able to understand the meaning of that word.
- It is teleological and signifying. Subjectivity exports entropy by eliding non-essential properties. Just as a visible spectrum is revealed by refracting white light, perception pulls ‘wholes’ through ‘holes’. A printed magazine page is composed of thousands of meaningless colored dots, which our visual system presents to us as a coherent image not by adding the dots together to make microconfetti, but by subtracting the gaps between the dots and pinching them closed to present a holistic image. The signals are extracted from the noise.
- It is (at least partially) non-mechanical. Neither a prism nor our eyes nor brain has to render each hue of the spectrum through any kind of graphic computation, it just exposes the optical sense that is already inherent in white light. In all likelihood, our brain has a richer sense of it than our eyes or the prism, but the semantic value is scaled up as an iconically analogous experience. The spectrum is to us what optical diffraction is to our eye and a prism. An experience of visual chromatic quality.
IV. Implications for physics.
- Under a sense primitive, the whole concept of energy is turned inside out so as to be conceived as a private (but shared) subjective experience. Sense itself would be described in sensorimotive terms such as symmetry, sequence, cumulative entanglement, ‘here and now’ and significance as well as electromagnetic or gravitational terms such as charge, power, waveform, frequency, range, attenuation, evanescence and event horizon.
- Spacetime is reinterpreted as a true void presented in two perpendicular hyper-topologies; space as the perception of gaps between physical objects, and time as the perception of gaps between energy events which mark the difference between ‘here and now’ and ‘there and then’. Time is a measure of ‘not now’, and space is a measure of ‘not here’.
- The Standard Model and Quantum Mechanics, while still valid for computation purposes, would be understood as an analysis of something akin to ‘atomic moods’ rather than literal packets of ‘energy’ physically traveling through space, making photons, neutrinos, and other microcosmic phenomena dubious as independent material forms.
- There would be a new understanding of motion, as c would be reinterpreted as a third state of material relation beside stillness and motion – c would be absolute motion; not a true velocity but a minimum latency between material relations in a vacuum; so not a speed limit, but a sense limit.
- General Relativity is preserved as the occidental set complement to Perception. Together they govern relations and coherence between inertial frames of sensorimotive-electromagnetic, signifying-entropic phenomenology. They give mass and gravity, both in the literal sense through quantitative measures such as
- range and proximity
and figuratively through devices such as
- belief and moral ‘gravity’