This doc was catalyzed by my reading an essay on consciousness as a quantum phenomenon by Stuart Hameroff, followed by a few hours of meditation. I attended most of the CoC meetings cited and my friend, Albert Lundquist has been trying to inform me about the Hameroff and Penrose “Orch OR” hypothesis, without success of my comprehension, for a very long time. This doc provided a partial clarification.
Are qualia abstract constructs in the fundamental circularity of reality?
While “consciousness” (many meanings) and the “hard problem” are vital topics, the very nature of the queries is convoluted and confusing. What keeps me from deeply engaging in this exploration is my deep belief that humankind is no where near competent to comprehend the “answer/truth”. It is premature to battle over hypotheses. Yet, to query is our nature; if only we weren’t so insistent achieving absolute truth, now.
To me, we have yet to adequately outline the taxonomic phenomenology of so-called “conscious experience” and the great diversity that exists within humankind (and other life). “Consciousness”, as a phenomenon beyond “experience”, even as a proposed “dimension of reality” beyond the “physical”, carries us well beyond science. Ancients are often cited with expertise, as well as moderns.
I describe my waking “conscious experience” as an integrated mix of experientials, thoughts, affections, and meanings – with an occasional grok. Experientials may have “qualia“, which I limit to hypothesized “sensory related”. “Meanings” are related to language, but not always explicitly in the experience.
For me, the whole conscious experience, the striking experientals, the powerful emotions, the illusions of ego & agency; are all artifacts of a “process/phenomenon” associated with neural-molecular, biological systems, but not necessarily produced by these systems..
Whether brain activity produces consciousness or consciousness produces brain activity, is a useless chicken/egg debate. The musical analogies with “Orch OR” resonates with my own musical analogy for brain (orchestra) and mind (composition performed). Compositions performed by musical orchestras are not embedded within the instruments. “Mind”, in my modeling, is the field of integrated potentials for patterns of brain/body activity. However, the bio-molecular brain is always active at some level (even at microtubules) and thus there is always a process THAT IS MORE THAN THE STRUCTURE. Some aspect of mind may be “permanent” in continuing process and not physically stored within the material brain. That is, although material parts of the brain may be associated with a process, examining those parts would never reveal the pattern of the process except by making it “play”. Furthermore, the process can change (from within the process, not “from the brain”) and the process can affect change in the brain structure. Brain and Mind mutually resonate and change each other.
This relates to the “debate” between substance/classical/existential and process/change/becoming philosophies/ontologies. My take is to use them as perspectives in complementarity – until we know more.
I, Larry, label my mind, “nuet”. Larry doesn’t experience nuet. In my model, in analogy, nuet “outputs” so-called “conscious experience” (and behavior). Each conscious “pulse” (or specious present) is like the collapse of a potential, complex field (analogous to a quantum probability field). One function of this is feedback to the whole brain as to the result of the collapse – that new momentary state of the brain. Sequences of such events, organized by the whole mind/brain, can give the mind/brain creative agency over itself.
This quantum-like model need not couple with the quantum processes of the microworld, or the microtubule systems as proposed in “Orch Or”. Probability potential mathematical models can be applied to many distinct phenomena. It is a human creation (in part determined by the whole “nature of humans”), as a way for us to organize our recorded experiences (sems). How the quantum, micro, perceptual, macro, cosmic realities relate is for humankind yet to discover – in the distant future.
I speculated on this quantum-like model as part of my 2nd PhD thesis, in 1970, at the University of Minnesota: “On Understanding Laws of Invariance“. The “quantum collapse of mind” is of a whole complex system, not simple systems such as in physics. Physical systems can interact in quantum collapse, but these are many orders of magnitude less complex than whole “quantum mind collapse”. The process may not scale, it may not relate only to Planck’s constant.
I find the “meaning” part of conscious experience more important than the experientials, as they are an interpretation of the experientials in context with my whole. The experience of meaning is not verbal, although verbal-like thought can accompany. My groks are experienced as “pointers” to a process in my larger mind, but not experienced. I grok when nuet is undergoing massive accommodations. Each insight has an associated grok. Piaget’s equilibration = assimilation/accommodation is a good first approximation of this.
Consciousness isn’t about an external, objective reality. It is the mind/brain telling itself a summary of its interpretation of recent (hypothesized) input in the context of how the whole mind/brain (my “nuet”) has created my “world”, my “reality”. Inter-subjective influenced experiences confirm individual, personal experiences can often differ from the inter-subjective (are “inaccurate”).
In using the terms sub-conscious, un-conscious, and non-conscious we attempt to base everything on consciousness. I use the analog of mental consciousness = leaf, with other parts of the mind/tree being sub-leaf, un-leaf, and non-leaf ) for branch, trunk and roots; to illustrate the fallacy of this approach.
As a lifelong student of time and space-time, I am aware that the physics of space-time isn’t all inclusive of “temporarily”; and I don’t believe that we have yet witnessed all the “scientific revolutions” related to “time”. I speculate on the different “durations” of specious presents among persons. How do top composers experience their music? Some report temporally extensive experiences in brief physical durations. I have explored conceptualizations of multi-dimensional time and temporal texture.
I don’t believe in a God or an afterlife. But, I speculate on what I have come to label an “eSoul”. Speculate that each “conscious experience” is “recorded” in a “spiritual spacetime”. For a given organism, these are linked, as they live, from conception to death. At death, they “continue” in this “spiritual spacetime”. This is a passive record, not a living system, not the person in an afterlife. I call these eSouls. However, “information” from these eSouls can sometimes be accessed by living beings. Experiences by very young children of recently deceased relatives, interpreted as evidence of reincarnation, may result from this phenomenon. Sheldrake‘s speculations about morphogenetic fields and causative formation, and The Presence of the Past, may be related to this.
My speculations about “feedpast bootstrapping” would have implications for conscious experience, and may even be related to its material correlates. In feedpast bootstrapping, information may move back & forth “in time” within short durations in living systems (only). It is difficult to imagine this in a framework of conventional space-time and events. It may relate to the mind patterns being spread over durations in a “temporal resonance”. This might be related to the bio/psychological phenomenon called “temporal integration” (visual and auditory). Linear sequential momentary states model may be replaced by overlapping duration entity (strings?) model. The latter reducing to the former under special conditions, as Einstein mechanics reduces to Newtonian mechanics when v<<c.
I am concerned about the emotional, religious, and ideological importance given to everyday conscious experience. This excessive focus severely warps, in my analysis, our progress towards better comprehending “reality” and our future survival/thrival.