Symbiotic Existential

Cosmology

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Chris King

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0  doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.32891.23846
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1.258 Update 5-8-2021 CE

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Contents Summary - Contents in Full

 

Dedication

The Core

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology:

            Scientific OverviewDiscovery and Philosophy

Introduction

1 Natural Sacraments and Cosmological Symbiosis

The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness

Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind, Therapy and Quantum Change

Fractal, Panpsychic and Symbiotic Cosmologies

Cosmological Symbiosis

The Evolutionary Landscape of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Evolutionary Origins of Conscious Experience

Animistic, Eastern and Western Traditions and Entheogenic Use

2 Natty Dread and Planetary Redemption

Yeshua’s Tragic Mission, Revelation and Cosmic Annihilation

Ecocrisis, Sexual Reunion and the Entheogenic Traditions

Song cycleVideo 

3 Biocrisis, Resplendence and Planetary Reflowering

Communique to the World To save the diversity of life from mass extinction

Affirmations: How to Reflower the Diversity of Life for our own Survival

Biocrisis, Resplendence, A Moksha Epiphany

   Epilogue   

            References

  Appendix: Varieties of Panpsychic Philosophy

 

 

Consciousness is eternal, life is immortal.

Incarnate existence is Paradise on the Cosmic equator

in space-time the living consummation of all worlds.

But mortally coiled! As transient as the winds of fate!

 

 

 

 

Dedication


The accompanying articles 1 and 2, generated out of a single quantum change experience on psychedelic mushrooms, breaking a seven year fast, contain the fabled key to life, the universe and everything – the symbiotic cosmology of perennial conscious existence.

 

All of us go through life wondering what it’s all about, why we are here, and what the meaning and purpose of conscious existence actually is. This is the question always lurking in the backs of our minds, driving our mortal anxiety, from which we try to escape, in futile diversions of power, fame and entertainment until our last moments on our death beds, realising all these things were distractions to avoid the inevitable.

 

Our current world views are suspended between three contradictory and equally devastating scenarios.

 

1: The materialistic scientific view regards us as merely a collection of atoms and molecules held together by physical, chemical and biological processes. That we are simply our brains and that our decisions are based on our genes and material circumstances over which we have negligible control, because our subjective conscious experiences are simply a model of reality generated by the computational brain, and that free will and personal autonomy are effectively illusions. That there is really no rhyme or reason to existence, and that life is simply an accidental by-product of a universe driven by blind and overwhelming  forces, which will eventually annihilate the solar system and all life within it, whether we live a good life, or exploit the others around us and the life of the planet, to our own selfish advantage.

 

2: The theistic religious view claims the universe is a moral test by God; that we do have free will, but are all accursed as sinners by the original sin of Eve, for hearkening unto the serpent. That we endemically fail to heed God’s will and that a Day of Judgment will ensue, when the Lord returns to consign us, either to eternal life in Heaven, or a diabolical fate in Hell Fire, forsaking the late planet Earth and the diversity of God’s creation in the process. Complementing this is a view of humanity having dominion over nature, to exploit living systems as we see fit, compounded by business-as-usual attitudes, which seek to assimilate all resources and sources of profitability before others take advantage, leading to planetary Armageddon. Likewise Eastern traditions lead to the degradation of the Kali yuga , Samvartakalpa or Eon of dissolution – the decline from enlightenment into ignorance.

 

3: The living planetary view: Both materialistic science and theistic religious views are incorrect and dangerously destructive. We are all becoming acutely aware that neither of these scenarios are viable, that the planet is in a worsening state of crisis induced by human misadventure, exploiting the non-renewable resources and living diversity of the planet, resulting in a climate and habitat crisis, causing a mass extinction of the diversity of evolving life, which risks making the world a literal Hell on Earth for future generations, if not precipitating the extinction of our species, risking serious damage to the health and economic viability of ongoing human life.

 

We now unite 1 with 3 and 2 with 3 in two articles: 1, 2, overviewed in three introductions: 1, 2, 3. These together show how our conscious autonomy and volitional will can be retrieved, how our lives can be fulfilled, what the actual meaning and purpose of life actually is and how the generations of humanity can come to fulfil ourselves in the flowering of conscious existence on evolutionary and cosmological time scales, returning the Earth to the paradisiacal verdancy it harbours in abundance, before it is irretrievably damaged  for millions of years to come.

 

1: –> 3: The first article scientifically elucidates the symbiotic cosmology of the sentient conscious universe, in which conscious life is the climax manifestation. The meaning and purpose of life is then manifest in the immortal flowering of conscious living existence over evolutionary time scales, realising Heaven on Earth, through our integration with the conscious mind-at-large of the universe. The core cosmology has three principles (1) Biogenic: Conscious life is the complexity climax of the cosmological structural pathway.

(2) Panpsychic: Subjective conscious volition over the physical universe means that the subjective mind is universal.

(3) Symbiotic: Life reaches immortal complexity climax through symbiosis, not dominance of one cultural species.

 

All eucaryote higher organisms are an endosymbiosis between complementary bacterial and archaeal life forms. Survival under natural selection is how all species maintain perennial symbiosis with the biosphere. Symbiosis is essential for human survival. Symbiosis with entheogenic species, expands spiritual approaches to consciousness, realising the consummation of conscious existence, at the edge of chaos as visionary sexual organisms. Through psychic symbiosis, we can achieve moksha, which in the Eastern traditions signals the escape from the cycle of birth and death, and in the monotheistic traditions constitutes the mystical God-consciousness that has inspired all the founding religious visionaries from Yeshua, through Buddha, to countless shamans and sadhus who have known and appreciated the same secret oracle of existence. Realising cosmological symbiosis.

 

2: –> 3: The second article and the evolution of religion, section shows the monotheistic eschatological world view leads to an Armageddon destruction of the diversity of life and why Christianity has been, since Yeshua’s death, acting in contradiction to his actual vision, perpetuating a false religion based on the dying Son of God, whose flesh and blood we must eat, reappearing as avenging Lord in the Revelation – impeding a paradigm shift from unfulfilled apocalypse to the planetary resplendence of the Tree of Life  –  evolving Paradise on Earth, the abundant heritage that is our creative destiny, as guardians of the flowering of conscious existence in the universe at large.

 

 

           
Ganges 1976  ◊ Ucayali 1999  ◊ Gethsemane Epiphany 2000  ◊  Aotearoa 2017


The Core of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

 

Saving the Diversity of Life from Mass Extinction

 

The central purpose of symbiotic existential cosmology is not just to reveal the cosmology of the universe in which we consciously exist, but to save the diversity of life on Earth from a human-induced mass extinction (Leakey & Lewin 1995, Kolbert 2014, Dawson 2016). It sets out a cosmology which shows humanity that our central and sacred purpose in existence is protecting and unfolding the diversity of conscious life.

 

The Conscious Universe

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology transcends both materialism and theism because it complements quantum cosmology with conscious volition. It has three core cosmological principles, biogenic, panpsychic and symbiotic. Life exists in the universe because the laws of nature arising from cosmic symmetry-breaking are fractal, giving rise to living systems as an interactive climax. It is consistent with empirical neuroscience but says that subjectively conscious physical volition is real, and this implies some matter our brains have physically efficacious subjectivity and hence all matter, because brains obey the same laws and forces as other normal matter. Primitive subjectivity thus occurs in quanta and butterfly effect systems which amplify quanta, like storms, and in bacteria and archaea. But a discrete emergent transition occurs with the eucaryote endosymbiosis between archaea and bacteria, with the sequestering of respiration in the mitochondria freeing up the cell membrane for excitable sentience and social signalling, when consciousness arises in the first single-celled amoebo-flagellates, forming societies communicating by neurotransmitter molecules such as serotonin. This evolved into our conscious brains as societies of 1010 tightly coupled amoeboid cells communicating by the same processes.

 

The inclusion of subjectivity opens up the spectres of panpsychism, animism and the spiritual/religious impulse in the physical universe, because these are all cosmological views, in which conscious volition is fundamental. But life is symbiotic, because natural selection occurs in the biosphere and all species depend on it for survival, so it’s a case of survival of the fittest biospheric symbionts, not species dominance. Instead of going to hell in a basket towards a human extinction, as we are now as a dominant species violating biospheric symbiosis, by regaining symbiosis over evolutionary time scales, humanity ends up inheriting its true cosmological meaning and purpose to protect life immortal, to ensure our own evolutionary survival, regaining the perennially immortal future of our 3.5 billion year tenure in the universe.

 

This is the Weltanshauung of Immortality, which flips the Copernican principle of science, because the privileged view of the universe is conscious life in paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time, not the Sun-centred cosmos. But it also flips religion inside out because the sacred purpose of existence is to protect the diversity of life throughout our generations forever, so that conscious life can flower to the point where the universe becomes fully conscious of its own existence through the living biota that form its interactive climax.

 

Humanity and the Biosphere

 

Humans evolved to be an environmentally destructive dominant species, because of our evolving Machiavellian social intelligence, after a long period of increasingly rich evolution to climax diversity following the Tertiary-Cretaceous extinction. This shaped our minds to be strongly egotistical to succeed against one-another. In the gatherer-hunter phase, this tendency was moderated by two factors: (1) the mating mindastute female reproductive choice for smart resourceful entertaining and protective males who can do good sex to demonstrate genuine indicators of fitness and sensitivity and (2) original virtue  – the evolution of verifiable trust through long-term personal judgment of good character. However, with the growth of large urban societies,  this became overthrown by the imposition of patriarchal domination of woman and nature. Humanity is thus still a dominant species wrecking the biosphere through egotistical tragedy of the commons. Moreover gene-culture coevolution, with the emergence of language, religion, commerce and science hasn't resolved this, because cultural evolution is even more rapid than genetic evolution and has produced no stabilising factors. Only a cosmology in which gene-culture-biosphere co-evolution is embraced can resolve this.

 

Enter the biospheric response. The same climax period gave rise to plant and fungal species 'salting' the Earth with variants of neurotransmitter molecules which tweak key pathways modulating human mood and survival. In particular, the serotonin analogues called psychedelics – “psyche-revealing”  – paradoxically cause (1) a sensory flood, in which the brain begins to develop an internal model of its own processing and (2) quantum change experiences in which the default mode goes silent, resulting in ego loss and the experience of either God or "ultimate reality", leading to alleviation of mortal angst in terminal illness and a deep sense of integration with life and nature in the healthy. Hence these are critical to planetary survival, along with other forms of nature meditation and conservation activism.


Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – A Scientific Overview

 http://dx.doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.10995.66082
CC BY-NC 4.0  Chris King [3] 27-9-21

 

To Erwin Schrödinger for the unitary singularity of the conscious mind,

and Charles Darwin for the evolutionary diversity of free will.

 

Abstract:

 

This overview summarises the quantum and cosmological physics, evolutionary biology and neuroscience involved in the work  “Symbiotic Existential Cosmology” King (2021), conceived during a quantum change experience on psychedelic mushrooms.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology retains the core features of physical quantum cosmology, while augmenting it to  restore the role of conscious purposive life in a biodiverse universe into its correct position in the scheme of quantum cosmology.  It is thus the actual cosmology of the universe in which we consciously exist, inverting the Copernican principle that conscious life does not have a privileged view of the universe. Its symbiotic basis forms a central protection  for the future of the diversity of life on Earth.

 

It advances an interlocking set of three cosmological descriptions with incontrovertible evidence, significant consequences and cosmological conclusions:

 

 

(a)   Biogenic: Life exists cosmologically as a fractal consequence of the symmetry-breaking of the forces of nature reaching interactive climax. This gives a correct portrayal of the cosmological structural pathway leading from cosmic symmetry breaking to the fractal structure of living matter:

 

Incontrovertible evidence: Life exists on Earth because the four core forces of nature are non-linear, leading to 100+ chemical elements and fractal molecular structures, from atoms through molecules, molecular complexes such as the ribosome, cell organelles, such as the membrane, cells, tissues, organs, organisms and biospheres, also supported by detailed research in biogenesis (King 2020).

Consequences: Life exists in the epoch of paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time, as the climax manifestation of the structural interaction pathway after first generation stars have made the chemical elements and multicellular evolution has passed the threshold of symbiosis between archaea and bacteria, to eucaryotes and conscious multi-celled animals.

Conclusions: Life has a key cosmological role, enabling the universe to manifest itself, through the subjective consciousness emergent in the biota.

 

(b)  Panpsychic: Subjectively conscious volitional will has efficacy over the physical universe (the ability to produce a desired or intended result). This forms a minimal augmentation of quantum cosmology to include conscious volition acting on the physical universe, consistent with Erwin Schrödinger's position: "the number of minds in the universe is one" and Charles Darwin's statement on the existence of free will down to the "polype".

 

Incontrovertible evidence: Live conscious human beings experience volitional intent and its consequences in human decision-making acts and behaviour affecting the physical world. A veridical affirmation of this between conscious human beings leads directly to the conclusion that at least some states of matter, (our brains) are complemented by a subjective aspect having a physical effect (the conscious volitional mind).

Consequences: Affirmation of human subjectively conscious physical agency and legal responsibility. Occam's razor is reversed, eliminating pure materialism, as inconsistent with conscious physical volition. Brain dynamics is not causally closed due to quantum uncertainty, enabling subjective consciousness to seamlessly participate in the uncertain instabilities of coherent processing without resulting in neurodynamic inconsistency.

Conclusions: Because brains are normal matter, obeying the four core quantum forces of nature, even if they display additional properties such as quasi-particle states, the subjective aspect of reality is a property of physics, complementary to the universe as a whole, extending wave-particle complementarity. Primitive subjectivity thus exists in quanta, unstable edge of chaos quantum systems, biogenesis and prokaryotes. States of conscious sentient volition then arise in eucaryotes in a discrete transition.

 

(c)  Symbiotic: The planetary biosphere survives and achieves climax diversity through ecosystemic symbiosis, upon which human survival is dependent. This details how edge of chaos quantum dynamics results in organismic, biospheric and psychic symbiosis as a biodiverse consummative climax:

 

Incontrovertible evidence: Humans and all eucaryotes are multiply symbiotic organisms by (i) mitochondrial endosymbiosis between the root archaeal and bacterial lineages, (ii) sexually antagonistic genetic coevolution, (iii) nuclear-transposable element genetic symbiosis, and (iv) symbiosis with our co-dependent food, and medicinal co-species, in biospheric symbiosis, which humanity is now breaching in a mass extinction of life.

Consequences: First person visionary experience in psychic symbiosis with our psychedelic co-species.

Conclusion: The universe becomes able to manifest, know and realise itself consciously, in cosmological symbiosis, through entheogenic experiences complemented by meditative practices.

 

(d) Survival Necessity: Biospheric symbiosis is essential for human survival. Homo sapiens can survive on evolutionary time-scales only by being evolutionarily successful as a biospheric symbiont. Currently it is not. This is the motivating necessity to act now imbued by the mushroom experience and is manifestly true.

 

Introduction:

 

The Symbiotic Cosmology of Perennial Conscious Existence solves (a) the hard problem of consciousness – how and why we have subjective conscious experiences, (b) the problem of volitional will – how conscious intentionality can have real effect in the physical world and (c) the central enigma of existential cosmology – the cosmological role of life and conscious experience in the universe.

 

In pure materialistic physical cosmology, consciousness is a passive epiphenomenon of material brain function, as a biological computational mechanism. Volitional will is thus an illusion in a putatively causally-closed objective universe. In theistic cosmology, people possess free will, but the universe is created by God as a moral test of “sin” with divine punishments, in which the ‘real’ life is in eternal Heaven or diabolical Hell, discarding the “late planet Earth”.

 

Although we are fully aware of the existence of the physical universe and are obliged to accept the laws of nature and their impacts on our biological bodies and lives to survive, the entirety of our access to the world comes sine qua non through our subjective conscious experience, both consensually in our shared everyday experiences of the physical world around us and individually through dreams, memories, reflections and visions. Moreover absolutely critical is the fact that subjectively conscious agency is expressed in conscious volitional will affecting the world around us through our actions, via our physical brain. To be valid, cosmology must successfully explain both the objective and subjective aspects of experiential reality.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology makes a minimal augmentation to the standard model of quantum cosmology to fully incorporate subjective decision-making to form a concise, complete and consistent description of existential reality consistent with quantum reality, biological evolution and neuroscience.

 

Because it is centrally based on a universe in which the structural interaction pathway leads to edge of chaos climax , it has very significant implications for the biodiverse future of planet Earth in a time of climate and biodiversity crisis involving am immanent human-caused mass extinction of life (Leakey & Lewin 1995, Kolbert 2014, 2021), which could seriously compromise or even extinguish the future of the human species.

 

It also has very significant implications for society as whole because it supplants both a purely materialistic scientific cosmology and the monotheistic, religious model, in favour of a fully biodiverse cosmology critical to planetary survival. Its validity is established veridically by conscious observers, by Occam’s razor, to be the only class of cosmology consistent with subjective decision-making autonomy

 

The cosmology has three interlocking components: (1) biogenic (2) panpsychic and (3) symbiotic.

 

1. Fractal Biocosmology: This constitutes an indisputable empirical fact of cosmological evolution.

 

Fig 1: Top row: The cosmological energy pathway runs from the inflationary phase, to the cosmic web, galaxies and black holes, gaseous nebulae, stars and planets to an eventual big rip, crunch or heat death. Lower rows: By contrast the structural pathway to complete interaction of the four forces of nature induced by cosmic symmetry-breaking involves quarks, hadrons, atomic nuclei, fractal molecules, molecular complexes, organelles, cells, tissues, organs such as the brain, organisms and biospheres.

 

 

While the energetic pathway of the cosmological process leads to galaxies, stars and solar systems driven by the most powerful of the four forces, leading eventually to a big crunch, cosmic bounce or expanding heat death, the structural interaction pathway of the four quantum forces together in full integration on the negentropic planetary surface, leads to fractal molecular structures, organelles, cells, multicellular tissues and organs such as the brain, organisms and the evolving biosphere. This sequence is the pathway to quantum complexity induced by the cosmic symmetry breaking of the forces of nature, complementing the energy pathway – paradise on the cosmic equator (fig 2 right).

 

Research has also revealed natural pathways to biogenesis, fully discussed in King (2020). Fig 2 illustrates three features of this research ongoing worldwide, illustrating the diversity of organics found in primitive syntheses and carbonaceous chondrites whose elementary components are also evidenced in the HCN and HCHO clouds in fig 1, the lost city vents which demonstrate a far-from equilibrium process on the ocean floor capable of supporting molecular biogenesis and concentrating the ingredients 1000 fold to biological concentrations and an example one-pot reaction producing a complementary suite of nucleosides.

 

Fig 2: (King 2020) Components of the link from organics in the universe to the origin of life on Earth. Left: Murchison carbonaceous chondrite (inset), major amino acids and sugar components, the sheer diversity of organic products. Centre left: Lost city vents formed by a chemical garden reaction between basic olivine and acidic sea water with dissolved CO2 . Resulting H2 and CO can drive the formation of organics including C1-4 hydrocarbons. Organics can be concentrated to biological levels (lower). Centre right: A one-pot synthesis leading to both ribo-pyrimidine nucleosides (U, C) and deoxyribo-purine nucleosides (A, I) (Xu et al. 2020). Far right: While the cosmological energy pathway leads from α to Ω  the heat death or big rip, crunch or bounce, the structural interaction pathway leads from α to Ω,partly because of anthropic constraints on the time for first generation stars to form the chemical elements plus the time for the evolution of life on Earth (Carter 1974, Barrow & Tipler 1988, Lemley 2000).

This means that life is a central cosmological phenomenon and not irrelevant to physical cosmology.

 

2. Darwinian Panpsychic Cosmology is a minimal revision of physical cosmology consistent with quantum mechanics, in which the subjective aspect of reality is complementary to the universe as a whole.

 

Fig 3: Overview of classification of graduated subjective aspects of existential cosmology.

 

In this picture (a) all wave-particle quanta, (b) highly unstable quantum processes, including edge of chaos, self-organised criticality, and biogenesis (c) prokaryote archaean and bacterial excitable cells, (d) eucaryote cells with signalling membranes capable of sentience (e) living organisms with excitable neurodynamics and (f) evolution, where each mutation is a quantum instance, all inherit subjective aspects and (g) the universe does also through the biota as the most complex physical manifestations of the four forces acting together with conscious edge of chaos coherence [5]. In philosophical terms, primitive phenomenal consciousness (a) – (c) is universally panpsychic but the transitive structure of sentient consciousness (d) – (e) is emergent. This form of panpsychism involves only root subjectivity, with brain dynamics as a boundary condition moulding how this is shaped into subjective qualia we experience, so it does not require the detailed analysis of how qualia are composed subjectively that arise in pan-protopsychist theories.

 

It is named after Charles Darwin because it is an evolutionary classification pivoting on the eucaryote endosymbiosis, which is consistent with Darwin’s own view of free will:

 

"To see a puppy playing [one] cannot doubt that they have free-will"  and if "all animals, then an oyster has and a polype.” (Darwin)

 

It is the only class of cosmology in which subjective experience and volitional will are fully included and correctly represented. Once we accept subjective autonomy and volitional will into the description, the fact that subjective mind interacts with the objective brain to realise decisions means that the subjective mind acts upon the physics of the universe. But the brain also obeys the core model of the four quantum forces of physics, so subjectivity becomes a feature of the universe as a whole. Thus personal conscious autonomy implies panpsychism. This implies the complementary subjective aspect – the mind at large – is a single entity, complementary to the universe in the multiple encapsulations we experience as organismic consciousness having volitional will to affect the world around us, consistent with a Tantric – mind complementing matter – origin.

 

There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses.
Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind. ... 
I should say: The overall number of minds is just one” (Erwin Schrödinger).

 

In a single quantum, panpsychism arises from the wave function implicitly encoding the well of quantum entanglement of the quantum’s past and future under special relativistic quantum mechanics and quantum will is the uncertain idiosyncrasy of a single quantum instance, as illustrated by Schrödinger’s cat. 

 

Fig 4: (1) The Feynman description of quantum field theory (QFT) involves all possible interactions of particles via a wave-theoretic propagator function, in which the force field is mediated by all conceivable virtual particles appearing and disappearing within uncertainty. This is also special relativistic, so involves both past and future information, so that as shown below electron deflection, if time reversed becomes electron-positron creation and annihilation. (2) The quantum stadium illustrates suppression of chaos in closed quantum systems. Top: Experimental realisation of scarring of the wave function around wave eigenfunctions, biasing the probabilities around unstable classical repelling orbits. Mid: Cellular automata simulation (King 2013). Bottom: Classical chaotic ergodic trajectory. (3) While the classical kicked top (above) shows similar regions of chaos to (1) in the Poincare map sections (top), the quantum kicked top (middle and bottom) shows chaos inducing entanglement with nuclear spin (Chaudhury et al. 2012). Entanglement between the electron and nuclear spins is quantified (bottom) by the linear entropy, of the electron reduced density operator. (4) Experiment confirming the existence of surreal Bohmian trajectories (Mahler et al. 2016). Conceptual diagram of the result of reading out the which-way measurement (WWM) in a double-slit apparatus in the near field (A) and in the midfield (B). Colour indicates the slit of origin of a Bohmian trajectory, and vertical position indicates the result of the WWM. This surreal behaviour is the flip side of the demonstrated nonlocality,  due to the entanglement of the photons, which, in Bohmian mechanics, makes their evolution inseparable even when the photons themselves are separated. Because entanglement is necessary for the delayed measurement scenario, this nonlocal behaviour is to be expected and is the reason for the surreal behaviour.

 

Because quanta may be also able to act under certain circumstances as interactive panpsychic “observers”, the universe is able to collapse its own wave functions with human observer collapse just being a special case acting on unstable brain states, the multiverse becomes a real universe with an ongoing history as we perceive it. This picture is one in which new branches are being created in the wave function in a similar manner to fractal cosmic inflation while others are being collapsed by conscious measurement, resulting in dynamic evolution of the cosmic wave function. Special relativity, the most classical part of quantum reality, is implicitly retrocausal as well as causal, as in Feynman diagrams, so quantum reality is implicitly anticipatory, involving transactional collapse across relativistic space-time in which a network of potential transactions become one or a set of real emitter-absorber interactions.

 

In the pilot wave interpretation (Bohm 1952), the wave guides the particle, which is in an arbitrary but definite extant position. In standard quantum mechanics the position of the particle is uncertain and the amplitude of the wave function determines the probability of the particle being in any position. In the panpsychic description, uncertainty is not irreducible randomness but is a measure of deep quantum entanglement, complemented by the subjective aspect.  This determines the position in the pilot wave model and defines “collapse” of the wave function in standard quantum mechanics and is thus consistent with both.

 

Fig 4 illustrates two experiments pertinent to this point of view. While closed quantum systems whose classical variants, such as the stadium billiard, are chaotic with ergodic unstable orbits, the quantum version shows suppression of chaos in the wave function probability distribution clumping around unstable periodic orbits. However when the quantum system is able to interact with other modes, as in the kicked top, the chaotic regime results in entanglement with additional factors, in this case nuclear spin, showing that quantum chaos induces entanglement. This shows us that all forms of decoherence due to interaction with other wave-particles at non-zero temperatures simply generate further forms of quantum entanglement.

 

In the second experiment, surrealistic Bohmian trajectories under weak quantum measurement where the delay to the retrodictive (time backwards) observation is varied, show that there is no inconsistency between the Bohm interpretation and standard QM because the surreal orbits in Bohm’s interpretation correspond to entangled states in QM. This provides a basis for the panpsychic interpretation to be consistent with both.

 

Coherently unstable edge-of-chaos quantum systems, biogenesis and the dynamics of excitable archaea and bacteria inherit coherent forms of quantum panpsychism in a primitive form of subjectivity, prior to attentive consciousness, coherent with the description of Hunt & Schooler J (2019).  Many natural phenomena, take the form of edge-of-chaos processes, such as wind, waterfalls, thunder and lightning storms, from turbulent mountain summits to the ocean, which from the point of view of symbiotic panpsychism are strong candidates for primitive coherent subjectivity, consistent with animistic views.

 

These systems and the ensuing ones in single-celled eucaryotes and multicelled animals all inherit the capacity to avoid approach to the classical, macroscopic limit as they are processes which are not IID systems generated by independent and identically distributed measurements (Gallego & Dakić (2021). Similarly, in the approach of stochastic electrodynamics (SED) (de la Peña et al. 2020), in which the stochastic aspect corresponds to the effects of the collapse process towards the classical limit [6], consciousness has been proposed to be is represented by the zero point field (ZPF) (Keppler 2018, 2021).

 

Subjective consciousness is emergent in a single discrete transition, occurring as a result of eucaryote endosymbiosis, when respiratory energy was sequestered in the mitochondria (Wan & Jékely 2021) , and the excitable cell membrane became available for signalling and perception of quantum modes, including vision (photons), hearing (phonons), smell (chemical orbital perturbations) and touch (physical torsion). This became preserved and elaborated by evolution because it anticipated threats to survival, in an excitable organism lacking a computational nervous system.

 

This process is illustrated in detail in fig 5, where the free-living excavate Naegleria gruberi, regarded as a candidate organism close to the eucaryote root, demonstrates the presence of excitability, adaptive behavioural modes, including amoeboid and flagellate habits, key signalling processes including G-protein-linked receptors, kinases and second messengers characteristic of higher animal nervous systems, cryptic sexuality, actin and microtubule activity. 

 

This process takes another quantum leap at the interface between social single-celled social eucaryotes and multicellularity, where membrane excitability, neurotransmitters, action potentials and synaptic genes arose in single celled eucaryotes in parallel by the time of the transition from choanoflagellates to metazoa, with the action potential arising as a response to existential crisis, shared by flagellar eucaryotes spanning all branches of the eucaryote tree along with synaptic genes involved in membrane binding in colony formation in choanoflagellates and related protists (Burkhardt & Sprecher 2017). Each of these cells can release transmitters that act on receptors in nearby cells to produce movements of the whole colony. A similar response in sponges causes release of GABA and nitric oxide (NO),

 (Kristan 2016).

 

Fig 5 (a) Life cycle and (b) complement of signalling systems found in Naegleria gruberi (Fritz-Laylin et al. 2010), a free-living single celled bikont amoebo-flagellate, belonging to the excavata, which include some of the most primitive eucaryotes such as Giardia and Trichomonads. Nevertheless it is capable of both oxidative respiration and anaerobic metabolism and can switch between amoeboid and flagellated modes of behaviour, regenerating complete centrioles and flagellae de novo (Fritz-Laylin & Cande 2010). The Naegleria genome sequence contains actin and microtubule cytoskeletons, mitotic and meiotic machinery, suggesting cryptic sex, several transcription factors and a rich repertoire of signalling molecules, including G-protein coupled receptors, histidine kinases and second messengers including cAMP. One strain analysed is a composite of two distinct haplotypes, indicating hybridization. Although sexual mating has not been observed in Naegleria, the heterozygosity found in its genome is typical of a sexual organism, with perhaps infrequent matings. Additionally, identification of the core RNAi machinery indicates that Naegleria may use this mechanism. (c) Individual foraging behaviour of Dictyostellium discoideum with bacterium about to be eaten. (d) Motile worm stage involving coordinated excitable organismic behaviour of around 1000 amoebae together to find a good location to form a fruiting body. Right Dictyostellium discoideum fruiting body. Inset: Sexual synctium with multiple nuclei, pink (Bloomfield et al. 2019). The two modes of activity show this organism has both an individual mode of sentient behaviour and an organismic mode in which activity results in coordinated excitable motion, for the collective benefit of the society of individuals to the sacrifice of the non-sporulating individual’s forming the fruiting body stalk. These forms of sentient behaviour arose in single-celled eucaryotes a good billion years before computationally capable brains evolved in metazoa.

 

The major neurotransmitters, such as serotonin arose as social signalling molecules in single celled excitable eucaryotes tuned for collective survival of the social organism, rather than individual cellular survival.  Serotonin, in particular has both a developmental and a signalling role, conserved all the way from cellular slime moulds to humans. In myxamoebic  Dictylostellium, serotonin and MAOa form the organiser of aggregated fruiting buds and in humans serotonin is involved in organismic brain development, from the neural groove all the way to ascending 5HT1b serotonin pathways, providing the signals that determine the correct five layers of the cortex for neuronal migration (Lauder 1993, Witteveen 2013). The brain has evolved as a closely-coupled society of amoebae communicating by the same social signalling molecules we find in single celled eucaryotes, such as serotonin, glutamate and GABA the latter two of which are cosmologically abundant, as noted in fig 2.

 

In multicellular animals, subjective consciousness was retained because of its anticipatory capacity to avoid primary risks of death by anticipating predatory attacks and became seamlessly incorporated into edge-of-chaos nervous system processing, in which brains effectively became closely coupled societies of excitable cells communicating by the same social signalling molecules found in single celled eucaryotes. This enables subjective consciousness to be modulated by the physical forms of brain processing invoking the subjective model of reality and the the differing quantum sense modes such as visual (photonic) and auditory (phononic) and olfactory (orbital), thus resolving the forms of qualia as a product of the seamless integration of the subjective aspect modulated by neurodynamical processes, with volition intervening in uncertain unstable dynamical states at the edge of chaos.

 

Objective and Subjective Empiricism The physical universe is easily interrogated on all fractal scales thanks to Galileo’s telescope, the microscope and their technological variations. This makes objective validation facile. The subjective realm can only be interrogated subjectively and we don't even know one another are actually conscious. So we have two direct avenues and several indirect ones. We can interrogate (1) ordinary human subjective states of organismic consciousness and (2) wild states of moksha claimed by experiencers to be cosmic consciousness. Our conscious volitional will is also evident in our capacity to put conscious intent into physical decision-making activity, and we can exchange recognition of this with one another as a foundational veridical transaction affirming this in ourselves and one another. We also use “theory of mind” to impute that other humans are conscious and by extrapolation other mammals, and volitional will is evident behaviourally. We can also sense the awareness of more diverse species, for example in crickets singing in the long grass and coordinated flashing of fireflies. Darwin said free will goes down to the “polypes” and the symbiotic cosmology says attentive consciousness goes to the eucaryote endosymbiosis. When we watch individual Dictyostellium amoebae they act purposefully just like our neutrophil phagocytes and have individual EEG-like excitations. Pivotally they make a transition point because they have two excitation modes, one individual and the other coherently organismic at the motile worm stage, so they demonstrate that subjectivity is a function of the coherent physical phenomenon encapsulating the process.

 

Although it is very difficult for us to see or understand the “consciousness” in single-celled species, they do have purposive behaviour and the active excitable behaviour of single-celled eucaryotes and their biological homology with our own brain excitations and synaptic neurotransmitters indicates the same physical processes are operating.

 

Fig 6:  (Centre) The pivotal role of subjective consciousness lies in avoiding lethal attack in prey and starvation in predators, leading to a Red Queen race between conscious organisms similar to the peacock’s tail effects of sexual selection. Getting to the water hole either in the savannah or jungle are dependent on immediate intuition of the environmental milieu and are notoriously intractable computationally because the prevailing circumstances of the occasion are undetermined. Left and right: Courtship (peacock spider carefully seducing a female to avoid being eaten) and parenting behaviour (cichlid fish holding offspring to transport to a safer location) across the range of higher animals is also indicative of conscious intent. Although, like birds, these fish can be fooled by cuckoo catfish their careful strategic behaviour to ferry offspring to safer sites shows purposive volitional intentionality.


This means that the foundations of subjective consciousness are cosmological and that the universe is conscious as a whole, manifest in and through the biota. This solves the hard problem, because the subjective aspect is integral to coherent excitable brain processes. The easy objective problems of consciousness thus do not solve the hard problem, which is neither confined to neuroscience, nor philosophy, but requires a cosmological paradigm shift.

 

Uncertainty and mind: The action of mind on brain necessarily arises from modulating the "random" aspect of quantum uncertainty in edge of chaos brain processing. This enables volitional will to intervene in the brain without disrupting the partial causal closure in brain processing in the uncertain quantum universe. In this sense, classical causality is replaced by quantum consciousness. It provides plenty of room to affect the computationally-intractable uncertain outcomes in evolutionary survival, using both subjective anticipation inherited from single celled eucaryotes a billion years before neural systems evolved and historical experience generated by cognitive processes.

Darwinian panpsychism thus has similarity to Tononi et al.’s (2015) integrated information theory (IIT) by widening the scope of subjectivity to all systems having coherent forms of quantum instability, along with attentive consciousness in all eucaryotes. However it differs from IIT in that it is not seeking simply an abstract formulation of consciousness as an integrated informational system, which on its own has no subjective aspect, but uses dynamical criteria of coherent instability that interface smoothly with quantum reality, introducing a genuine subjective aspect. It also has similarities to  Graziano’s (2016, 2017, Webb & Graziano 2015) attention schema theory (AST), particularly in regard to the key role of conscious attention being to anticipate threats to survival. It naturally acknowledges the strength of Graziano’s argument that a model of attention itself as a form of self-consciousness is central to this process, but as a vehicle to anticipative conscious volition, not a mechanistic contrivance that fools us into thinking we have conscious volition when it exists in AST only as an AI capable algorithm.

 

Fig 7 illustrates some of the neurophysiological processes perceived to underlie conscious processing. Walter Freeman’s model of olfaction consists of an electroencephalogram (EEG) dynamic oscillating via excitatory glutamate and inhibitory GABA neurons entering higher energy chaos as the animal sniffs. This then falls into one or another attracting basin, as the energy engaged by attention is reduced, thus identifying the odour. In the case of a new stimulus, learning alters the potential energy landscape to produce a new attractor. This type of process, involving an edge of chaos transition to a more ordered state, can be generalised to decision-making situations where the global brain dynamic has an instability between possible outcomes, in which a transition from higher energy chaos leads to the decision/solution.  Because edge of chaos dynamics invoke the butterfly effect, this raises the spectre of an unstable global state becoming sensitive to instabilities on descending scales of neural assembly to a single neuron and potentially the quantum level of the ion channel in a neuron crossing its sigmoidal threshold. The concept of stochastic resonance has also been demonstrated to promote such hand-shaking fractal scale transitions in the energetics. This is simply a descriptive overview of possible processes involved, in the face of the failure of promissory materialistic neuroscience (Popper & Eccles 1984) to demonstrate physical causal closure of brain function, so Occam’s razor cuts in a direction which avoids conflict with empirical experience of conscious volitional efficacy over the physical universe.

 

 

Fig 7: (1) Edge of chaos transitions model of olfaction (Freeman 1991). (2) Joachim Keppler's (2018) view of conscious neural processing uses the framework of stochastic electrodynamics (SED), a branch of physics that affords a look behind the uncertainty of quantum field theory (QFT), to derive an explanation of the neural correlates of consciousness, based on the notion that all conceivable shades of phenomenal awareness are woven into the frequency spectrum of a universal background field, called zero-point field (ZPF), implying that the fundamental mechanism underlying conscious systems rests upon the access to information available in the ZPF. This gives an effective interface description of how dynamical brain states correspond to subjective conscious experiences, but like the other dynamical descriptions, does not solve the hard problem itself of why the zero point field becomes subjective. (3) Stochastic resonance as a hand-shaking process between the ion channel and whole brain states (Liljenström & Svedin 2005). (4) Illustration of micro-electrode recordings of local wave phase precession (LFP) enabling correct spatial and temporal encoding via discrete action potentials in the hippocampus (Qasim et al. 2021).

 

This is complemented by a second process earlier noted by Karl Pribram (1975, 1993), in which centrally attended (conscious) processes are distinguished from background noise of peripheral processing by the phase coherence of their excitations rising and falling together. Decoherent oscillations are relegated to the periphery of attention while coherent excitations are central. This is again consistent with competing peripheral excitations vying for central attention in an evolutionary process of natural selection favoured by several neuroscience ideas. This process of phase coherence has striking similarities to quantum uncertainty, where a measurement of energy requires a non zero time interval defined by Planck’s constant h to count the wave beats against a reference wave. This model became clearer experimentally, in that the discrete action potentials of single neurons were found to be statistically modulated by the phase precession of the overall voltage wave associated with the EEG (Qasim et al. 2021), thus bringing in a discrete cellular response to the continuous local wave potential, also characteristic of quantum phenomena in the probability interpretation of the particle’s position within the wave.

Joachim Keppler (2018, 2021) presents an analysis drawing conscious experiences into the orbit of stochastic electrodynamics (SED) a form of quantum field theory. The SED is based on the conception that the universe is imbued with an all-pervasive electromagnetic background field, the zero-point field (ZPF), which, in its original form, is a homogeneous, isotropic, scale-invariant and maximally disordered ocean of energy with completely uncorrelated field modes and a unique power spectral density. This is basically a simplification of the uncertainty associated with the quantum vacuum in depictions such as the Feynman approach to quantum electrodynamics (fig 4). This provides a basis to discuss the brain dynamics accompanying conscious states in terms of two hypotheses concerning the zero-point field (ZPF):

 

“The aforementioned characteristics and unique properties of the ZPF make one realize that this field has the potential to provide the universal basis for consciousness from which conscious systems acquire their phenomenal qualities. On this basis, I posit that all conceivable shades of phenomenal awareness are woven into the fabric of the background field. Accordingly, due to its disordered ground state, the ZPF can be looked upon as a formless sea of consciousness that carries an enormous range of potentially available phenomenal nuances. Proceeding from this postulate, the mechanism underlying quantum systems has all the makings of a truly fundamental mechanism behind conscious systems, leading to the assumption that conscious systems extract their phenomenal qualities from the phenomenal color palette immanent in the ZPF.”

 

Although Symbiotic Existential Cosmology doesn't directly utilise any particular quantum interpretation as its basis, the ZPF description is broadly confluent with a quantum interface between brain dynamics and subjective consciousness, and with the dissipative quantum model of brain dynamics (Freeman & Vitielo 2007, Sabbadini & Vitielo 2019). It demonstrates the kind of boundary conditions in brain dynamics likely to correspond to subjective states and thus provides a good insight into the stochastic uncertainties of brain dynamics of conscious states that would correspond to the subjective aspect, and it even claims to envelop all possible modes of qualitative subjectivity in the features of the ZPF underlying uncertainty, But it would remain to be established that the ZPF can accomodate all the qualitative variations spanning the senses of sight, sound and smell, which may rather correspond to the external quantum nature of these senses. Also the ZPF as a physical manifestation does not itself solve the hard problem as such.

 

However Keppler makes this question clear as well:

 

A detailed comparison between the findings of SED and the insights of Eastern philosophy reveals not only a striking congruence as far as the basic principles behind matter are concerned. It also gives us the important hint that the ZPF is a promising candidate for the carrier of consciousness, suggesting that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, that the ZPF is the substrate of consciousness and that our individual consciousness is the result of a dynamic interaction process that causes the realization of ZPF information states. … In that it is ubiquitous and equipped with unique properties, the ZPF has the potential to define a universally standardized substratum for our conscious minds, giving rise to the conjecture that the brain is a complex instrument that filters the varied shades of sensations and emotions selectively out of the all-pervasive field of consciousness, the ZPF. (Keppler, 2013).

 

This picture is consistent overall with neural processing being a causally incomplete dynamical system, interfacing with quantum reality at points of environmental, and dynamical instability amid tipping points, making it possible for the subjective aspect associated with conscious volition to interact with the physical brain by forms of internal quantum measurement, without disrupting the extent to which neurodynamical processing is causally determined by the brain.

3. Symbiotic Cosmology arises because symbiotic systems achieve optimal complexity and evolutionary persistence and diversification.

 

Fig 8: Multiple forms of symbiosis involve the symbiosis between Asgard archaea and proteobacteria to form the eucaryotes (top centre), sexual complementarity, where two of more strains enter into a prisoners’ dilemma of sexually-antagonistic co-evolution promoted by symmetry-breaking between ovum and sperms and their differing reproductive investments (top left), Cell–virus/TE symbiosis in which 52% of the human genome consists of transposable element (TE) sequences, biospheric symbiosis in which natural and sexual selection under mutational variation leads to the survival of the fittest biospheric symbionts, whether parasite, host, predators or prey and psychic symbiosis in which plant and fungal species modify the experiential brain dynamics in humans and other species. Human TE evolutionary history, including LINEs (yellow), SINES (light and dark blue), retrovirus-like LTR (long-terminal repeat) elements (green/cyan) and DNA transposons (red). This history extends back over the entire mammalian evolutionary epoch, with around 8% and 4.5% divergence respectively every 25 million years, indicating the very ancient basis of this relationship, which extends 105 million years to the eutherian radiation (International Human Genome Consortium 2001).

  

This climax of biological evolution arises in eucaryotes as a result of:

(a) The eucaryote endosymbiosis between the two founding branches of life, archaea and bacteria, resulting in a complexity catastrophe leading to cell organelles and informational excitable membranes communicating through social signalling molecules, with fundamental energy processes sequestered internally in the mitochondria. This results in cellular sentience through interaction with external quantum modes forming the senses.

(b) At the same time asymmetric sexuality evolved as a genetic symbiosis between complementary strains, enabling indexed recombination of large genomes.

(c)  In parallel, cell-virus/TE symbiosis occupying up to 46% of the human genome, although some members are astill actively reproducing in the germ line they have also given rise to modular gene expression. In terms of the selfish gene (Dawkins 1976), transposable elements not withstanding, organism genomes are one huge genetic symbiosis, through organismic survival  and selection.

 

Organismic symbiosis is then realised in biospheric symbiosis of each species within the biosphere as a whole, in which natural and sexual selection is a measure of survival of the most successfully symbiotic species within the biosphere, whether parasites, prey, predators or hosts.

 

Ultimately, society and culture are also examples of symbiotic survival, however human emergence has been fraught with species-focused selection, leading to egotistical consciousness, tribal and civil warfare, as well as sexual wars of dominance between the male and female sexes, in which patriarchy has compromised the sexual prisoners’ dilemma, inhibiting female reproductive choice essential for XY-based evolution and breaching human equilibrium with the biosphere, in exponentiating devastation of the natural habitats of the planet, climate crisis and resource crisis. The prosocial effects of psilocybe species have also been proposed to have played a role in the emergence of human culture (Rodríguez Arce & Winkelman 2021). The natural correction to this scenario comes from the complex sensitivity of conscious existence not being the exclusive dominant possession of a single species Homo sapiens, but is achieved in psychic symbiosis.

 

A critical feature of the cosmology is that it was discovered by a mathematician with a research interest in biocosmology, neurodynamics and chaotic quantum processes, as a result of an experience on psychedelic mushrooms, which brings us to the final stage of psychic and cosmological symbiosis.

 

Fig 9: (a) Reductions in alpha (8-15 Hz) and delta (1-4 Hz) MEG power for psilocybin (Muthukumaraswamy et al. 2013), consistent with greater signal desynchronisation on psilocybin. (b) BOLD Variance time courses (obtained over a 1 min. sliding window) for the psilocybin and the placebo infusion (Tagliazucchi et al. 2014) showing greater variance on psilocybin. (c) Increased functional connectivity between the default mode network (DMN0 and r-fronto-parietal cortex after psilocybin (Carhart-Harris et al. 2013), consistent with the “unconstrained mind” (Lifshitz et al. 2018). (d) Decreased low frequency power (LF) and power spectrum scaling exponent α  after psilocybin infusion (Tagliazucchi et al. 2014). (e) Persistence homological scaffolds for placebo (left) and psilocybin (right) showing greater inter-connective persistence on psilocybin (Petri et al). (f) Reduced BOLD activity after psilocybin in areas related to the DMN (f) A recording during the 12 minutes after intravenous administration of psilocybin 2mg (~15 mg orally), which shows reduced activity in medial frontal cortex  (mPFC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and other areas (Carhart-Harris et al 2012). (g) Two indicators of beneficial spiritual and social effects of psilocybin at 6-months after the experience Griffiths et al. (2018).

 

Psychic symbiosis. The end result of this process is that biospheric evolution has led to certain species, such as several cacti, mushroom species, and a variety of plant species producing neurotransmitter analogues which act as paradoxical agonists, currently having the umbrella name of classic psychedelics. These send the dynamical processes evoking subjective consciousness, perceptual processes and particularly the default mode and associated networks supporting individual ego dynamics for organismic survival, in organismic consciousness into a deeper form of primary consciousness, in which these dynamics revert more closely back towards collective survival, or even deeper into a form of abstract consciousness, which the experiencer identifies with “ultimate reality”, expressed by Aldous Huxley as the mind at large, associated with the merging of personal identity with the compassionate totality of existence. Individual consciousness is then an encapsulation of the mind at large filtered through the coherent brain activations associated with organismic consciousness.  Thus while more elementary levels of subjectivity are not perceivable to human observers, organismic and primary consciousness are, making the cosmology verifiable. Multiple papers by the Johns Hopkins team (Griffiths et al. 2006, 2007, 2011, 2018) and others, attest to a building statistical validation.

 

This type of deep psychedelic experience [7] has deep parallels with the mystical states of moksha, satori, epiphany, immanence and enlightenment spanning both Eastern and Western spiritual and religious traditions and planet-wide traditions of shamanism. In reductionistic science, where consciousness is regarded merely as an epiphenomenon, this is regarded as hallucination, or psychosis, of no external significance. In religious traditions it is regarded as either negative possession or positive emanation of holy spirit. In the Upanishads it is accepted as the ultimate reality in the union of Brahman with the atman, or inner self, in the manifestation of cosmic consciousness.

 

This is an almost unattainable objective for most people, leading to wishful reincarnation, where enlightenment is delayed to a future lifetime. Symbiotic cosmology is also the realisation of the tantric origin of Shakti-Shiva as mind and world, and of the Yin/Yang of the Tao. The key that psychedelics provide is that, among their diverse phenomena, there is a portal called the nierika by the Huichol, which leads to a state of deep cosmic consciousness sometimes described as the “spirit world”. It is also reflected in Yeshua’s saying:

 

It is I who am the All. From me did the All come forth, and unto me did the All extend”.

 

The common elements of peak psychedelic experience are of a consistently mystical quality, established in recent scientific research, invoking the experiencing of “ultimate reality” and the consistently transformative effect on peoples lives suggest they do have a common aetiology, consistent with cosmic consciousness and that this process is real. This provides evidential data, in the form of veridical reports having statistical significance in the same way that objective scientific measurements do. This places psychedelics as the subjective complement of the LHC in physics.

 

The symbiotic cosmology provides a completely different solution from both a purely materialistic cosmology, in which the universe is described as a causal process, in which consciousness life is passive, meaningless and irrelevant; and a theistic cosmology in which life on Earth is a disposable moral trial created by a non-evidential external third party called God for a future life of eternal bliss or hellish punishment. Both these cosmologies devalue the role of the evolving diversity of conscious life perennial in the universe, leaving us with a wasteland of apocalypse and Armageddon. The symbiotic cosmology invokes immortal paradise, so long as Earth shall live and beyond Earth to the stars, if we can learn to survive in evolutionary time. It is the real cosmology of the living universe while religious and materialistic cosmologies are tragic fallacies of the imagination.

 

Cosmological symbiosis: In symbiotic cosmology the purpose of the cosmological process is so that the universe can reach edge of chaos climax and manifest, experience and know itself, through the structural cosmological pathway leading to fractal complexity, life and consciousness, in which the biota, and Homo sapiens as a climax species, comes to experience forms of awareness, realising and manifesting cosmological self-consciousness.

 

This is a scientific cosmology, which imparts an even greater responsibility and urgency on humanity than religious cosmologies – to act as conscious guardians of the biosphere, to cherish and protect the living universe as sentient cosmological manifestations of it. This also has profound spiritually fulfilling implication, in which conscious beings become both immanent and transcendent guardians of the diversity of conscious life – i.e. becoming as Gods in terms of Genesis, regaining the mythical Tree of Life hidden since the foundation of the world:

 

Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of

the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:22).

 

This in turn imparts to us a “galvanising” responsibility, as cosmological manifestations of sentience to use our lives fruitfully to preserve and ensure the passage of the generations of conscious life in overflowing abundance. To protect the planet from mass extinctions, while experiencing the full deep abyss of conscious awareness, so that the evolving manifestation of consciousness is able to unfold. We are the agents of transformation and the decisions we make will shape the universe around us, making a paradisiacal, purgatorial or hellish history as we speak. Our lives are then truly connected to the immortal web, through intimate conscious identification with the flow of life as a whole, solving the dilemma of organismic mortality in the physical world. This again is why psychedelics are therapeutic for people in depression and terminal illness (Carhart-Harris R et al. 2016, 2017, Griffiths R. et al. 2016 ) and why they are also conducive to increased nature-relatedness (Lyons & Carhart-Harris 2018).

  

Symbiosis and Human Survival: Put very simply, a biosphere cannot survive in evolutionary time if there is a dominant species whose emergence remains tribal in basis. But that is the natural condition for any emerging dominant species like Homo sapiens. So the fully evolved expression is not species dominance, but biospheric symbiosis. So called classic psychedelics provide a core pathway to achieve this, because their affects on ego, particularly in a state of meditative withdrawal, or trance fixation, can undergo a transition to the ‘abstract’ state of consciousness that Aldous Huxley denoted “the mind at large”. Cosmological symbiosis is consistent with a fully technological civilisation, in which science and vision can both flourish, because it engenders a symbiotic civilisation, which can survive on cosmological time scales. A dominant species-driven technological civilisation is not sustainable because it is self-destructive through biospheric exploitation and collapse. Religious cultures are likewise prone to self-destruct through lethal theistic misadventure.

 

Fig 10: Physical cosmology and the cosmology of mental states illustrated by lead ion collisions in the LHC and “Curandero” Luke Brown's illustration of psychedelic experience. Natural psychedelics in traditional use.

 

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Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – Discovery and Philosophy

 

Contents:

 

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

The Weltanshauung of Immortality

Paradoxical Asymmetric Complementarity

 

Fig 11: Cosmology is a paradoxical complement of two manifestations – quantum reality and subjective consciousness.

The classical world around us arises from consciousness collapsing the overlapping parallel worlds of quantum reality,

to evoke the historical process via our intentional will.  We are thus personally responsible for the fate of existence.

 

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

 

The human existential condition consists of a complementary paradox. To survive in the world at large, we have to accept the external reality of the physical universe, that we bleed if cut and may become unconscious or die if hit on the head, but we gain our entire knowledge of the very existence of the physical universe through our conscious experiences, which are entirely subjective and are complemented by other experiences in dreams and visions which also sometimes have the genuine reality value we describe as veridical [8]. The universe is thus in a fundamental sense a description of our consensual subjective experiences of it, experienced from birth to death, entirely and only through the relentless unfolding spectre of subjective conscious existence.  Thus although we scientifically associate subjective consciousness with integrated dynamical brain states, the physical universe manifests through conscious experience. Materialists attempt to defer this by saying that this is just the way it appears to a biological organism imprisoned in their own internal model of reality, which will seem like this, but is only a feature of their subjectively confined point of view. This is incorrect because it then leads to the hard problem of consciousness and the failure to recognise volition.

 

We are thus subjectively conscious beings possessing volitional will over a physical universe we know only through our conscious experience of it, and our creation myths and scientific descriptions attempt to make sense of our predicament. The universe in turn becomes manifest only through its conscious sentient beings, the biota, so the meaning of existence is created through our journey of discovery as conscious agents transforming the universe by our insights and actions. We thus in turn inherit a foundational responsibility for our actions cosmologically.

 

When we confine our discourse to dealing with the properties of external physical reality, we end up with what has become the exceedingly complex scientific description of the natural universe. This appears on macroscopic scales to be a giant causal mechanism made of atoms and molecules, leading to our complex brains and the way brain processing leads to the decisions we make in the physical world. This in turn leads to the notion that our subjective conscious minds are just an internal model of reality created by the computational brain to sum up the outstanding features of the world around us and that our personal sense of volition and subjective agency the experienced ability to make decisions affecting the world around us – is a delusion, because it is the causal processes in our brains that did this, not our conscious volition.

 

The trouble with this point of view is the hard problem of consciousness – the fact that there is no conceivable way any physically objective brain process or a set of easier functional problems about integrative properties of brain function can explain something as intrinsically subjective as conscious experience. As Jerry Fodor said: “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious. This is the dilemma that the easy problems of consciousness cannot be contrived into an objective structural description that solves the hard problem. At best, we end up with pure informational models identifying human consciousness with integrated biological forms of artificial computational intelligence.

 

Fig 12: Constructing our description of reality based on the external physical world since Copernicus carries incredible explanatory power because nature is complex and provides a detailed physical and biological description, but in terms of subjective experience and conscious existence, relying exclusively on the external objective details paints us into a corner where we cannot solve the hard problem of consciousness, because the external objective description is categorically incapable of modelling or manifesting intrinsic subjectivity.

 

There is also a fatal flaw in the dependence of physical neuroscience on classical notions of casual closure as a mechanism. The discovery of quantum reality at the beginning of the 20th century has shown us that the universe is not causally closed and that quantum uncertainty and its spooky features of quantum entanglement can intervene throughout. The reason for the incredible technological success of science is thus not the assumption of macroscopic causality at all, but the fact that the quantum particles come in two kinds. The integral spin particles, like photons, called bosons, can all cohere together, as in a laser and thus make forces and radiation, but the half-integer spin particles called fermions, like protons and electrons, which can only congregate in pairs of complementary spin, form matter, inducing a universal fractal complexity, via the non-linearity of the electromagnetic force. Given the quantum universe and the fact that brain processes are highly uncertain, given changing contexts and unstable tipping points at the edge of chaos, objective science has no real basis to claim the brain is causally closed and thus falsely conclude that we therefore have no agency to apply our subjective and consciousness to affect the physical world around us.

 

So what if we reverse the cosmological argument and begin with the foundations of conscious existence, in the form of subjective consciousness affecting the physical world around us through our veridical experience of our conscious intent – our volitional will affecting the world around us, as we witness in everything we do behaviourally in the world? By veridical, I mean we are telling the actual truth about our conscious experience and our consciously experienced volitional intent to make decisions and execute physical actions.  I use the term veridical because when we do anything physical we have an unswerving conscious impression that we have genuinely intended something and executed a physical action whose consequences we are responsible for as active agents. We are consciously aware that we are intending a physical action we are undertaking. This is the veridical perception of our intention that materialistic neuroscience is denying when the conscious mind is treated as an epiphenomenon  having no physical affect.

Organismic perception of the real world is described as “veridical perception” [9], because it is designed to give an accurate portrayal of the world, realer than the incoming sensory data, in our case in binocular 3-D, with size preservation, conducive to an accurate detailed view, ensuring evolutionary survival in the wild. The key aspect of consciousness us that we are aware that we are aware. Materialistic neuroscience denies that our perception of our volition is veridical, contradicting the fact that this is as necessary to survival as our veridical perception of the world.

 

Existential cosmology has the opposite effect from reducing consciousness to mere information, by contrast imbuing at least some forms of matter, such as brains, with an extra complementary subjective aspect that we witness and execute as conscious experience and volitional intent. Although this is counter-intuitive to pure materialism, it is a vastly more plausible and realistic approach than denying human agency by a fatal reductio ad absurdum of existence. Rather than ghosting us as walking AI machines lacking free will, it introduces profoundly exciting new properties into the physical universe, explaining conscious existence in the material realm!

 

Enter existential cosmology, which starts from the conscious level as we all do, and develops our cosmological world view as a transaction between subjectively conscious live human beings, to discover and deduce the cosmological conditions of the world around us as living conscious agents affecting the natural world. This leads to a very different conclusion from materialistic physical cosmology, although it is entirely consistent with both quantum cosmology and empirical neuroscience – while materialism denies conscious volition, veridical experience implies matter has psyche.

 

Fig 13: A: Objective physical verification proceeds by two agents or groups recording consistent outcomes from independent empirical experiments or one group verifying the theoretical prediction of another.  B: Subjective conscious veridical affirmation: Two conscious agents confirm a common truth through affirmation by empirical experience. e.g. in sworn testimony, political agreements and entrusted relationships. C: Belief through prescriptive faith in religious doctrine involves conviction of a doctrinal truth without actual knowledge or experiential or objective evidence of the proposal or phenomenon.  Symbiotic existential cosmology utilises A objectively and B subjectively. It also encompasses visionary experiences consistent with C but only if they satisfy B, alleviating the explanatory gap of “soul” being equated with belief (Freeman 2008).

 

Existential cosmology is thus verified as a conscious transaction of volitional agency between live human beings, in a veridical affirmation:  As you read this passage, you are becoming consciously aware that I have, as a live human being, consciously and intentionally committed this communication to physical electronic form, thus affirming that my subjective conscious volition has had a physical effect on the universe.

 

Normally this would be a mutual affirmation between two conscious agents in one another’s presence of their  veridical efficacy over the world. It is almost absurd to have to make this claim explicitly because it Is assumed in all our interactions! Some less materialistic people may wonder why this needs to be stated, but the scientific era has brought it into question and it is pivotal to establishing the conscious volitional paradigm.

 

By consciously comprehending the truth of your self-evident affirmation of my volition above on receipt of this, you are empirically, by your own experience confirming the core thesis of existential cosmology, which asserts that subjective conscious volition is physically realisable. This also implies that  at least some physical matter, including the brain, has a complementary subjective aspect, but the brain is ordinary matter subject to the four core quantum forces, so this means the physical universe has a complementary subjective aspect, from which the evolutionary implications of Darwinian panpsychism  and Symbiotic cosmology as a whole follow. Existential cosmology is thus a subjectively verifiable discovery, in the creative commons, which can be affirmed empirically by experience [10].

 

By veridically affirming the author’s volitional agency and noting this fact physically, you are also affirming your own volitional agency over the physical world. Therefore, on receipt of this communication, we each become consciously responsible and fully accountable for the discovery's consequences, as conscious human beings whose volition affects the world. This is not a moral responsibility but a responsibility, as a conscious agent, to the veridical truth of what you have experienced and its implications about your own volition upon the world as a conscious human being.

 

No unverifiable claim that awareness of volition is correlation, not causation, and my physical brain wrote this passage, or developed the entire cosmology on its own, without my conscious volition affecting the physical universe, and at the same time fooled my conscious experience into believing I had done it consciously, as a passive epiphenomenon will suffice as an avoidance of your duty of care as a conscious human being, to affirm its experienced veridical truth.

 

You are free to transmit this work to others in intact form, to critique it, or to communicate a critical flaw to the author, but you cannot escape the duty of care to be honest about the veridical truth of the transaction and its thesis and to communicate it honestly to others. In a sense this is not asking anything more from the reader than the simple cognisance that I have subjectively applied my conscious volitional will to commit this consciously discovered thesis to physical form, as all live consciously active human beings do every day, by their actions. However the responsibilities are acute and pivotal to the capacity of the cosmology to ensure human survival over evolutionary time scales.

 

The process of mutual affirmation also has profound social implications because it leads to a social paradigm where decisions are made by autonomous mutual agreement, rather than hierarchical structures and institutions. It leads to new social models of fractal ecosystemic democracy, or lateral democracies by mutual consent such as holacracy and sociocracy.

 

Fig 14: The social evolution of

sociocracy models of society.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology, as explained in the scientific overview, consists of three interlocking realities:

(1) Biogenic: Life exists cosmologically as a fractal consequence of the symmetry-breaking of the forces of nature reaching interactive climax.

(2) Panpsychic: Subjectively conscious volitional will has efficacy [11] over the physical universe.

(3) Symbiotic: The planetary biosphere survives and evolves through ecosystemic symbiosis, upon which human survival is dependent. Biospheric symbiosis is thus essential for human survival.

 

The cosmology arose as a result of an experience on psychedelic mushrooms, but the significance of the cosmology itself extends far beyond entheogenic visions. It is in fact the actual cosmology of the universe in which we consciously exist. It is fully consistent with both quantum cosmology and with empirical neuroscience, and it has truly extraordinary implications that are in no way dependent on psychedelics themselves:

 

1.  It restores human conscious volitional agency, currently denied by materialistic neuroscience and morally bound by religious belief, and returns ethical and legal responsibility for our actions back to the human species, and does it in the cosmological context, revealing the key role of life in the universe, as shown at  in fig 15, thus imbuing humanity with a clear responsibility to protect and unfold conscious life over evolutionary time scales.

2.  It has the direct capacity to save the biosphere and humanity from mass extinction. Its symbiotic implications form a central remedy to avoid a climate and biodiversity crisis which could cause a mass extinction of the diversity of life, setting humanity back 50 million years and very likely causing the extinction of Homo sapiens, due to a failure to live symbiotically with the biosphere upon which we co-depend for our survival.

3.  It realises the existential quest of human meaning and purpose in the universe, as a cosmological climax phenomenon, enabling the physical universe to manifest and know itself, while giving each and every one of us the capacity to experience states of cosmological symbiosis in reunion with the conscious universe as a whole.

4.  It transcends both the scientific and theistic world views:

(a) It transcends scientific cosmology because it completes the scientific description of nature by fully incorporating subjective consciousness and the ability of volitional will to affect the physical universe.

(b) It transcends religious cosmology by transferring cosmological agency directly back to humanity and natural life verified by conscious affirmation of our volitional agency, rather than being dependent on supplicant beliefs.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology can be empirically verified in five principal ways:

 

1. The key role of life in the universe is incontrovertibly manifest in the biosphere as a climax edge-of-chaos dynamical system resulting from the four non-linear quantum forces of nature, mid way through the universe in space-time.

2. Existential cosmology as an interaction between subjective consciousness and physical reality, is verified through affirmation by empirical experience between conscious human volitional agents, in the same manner that legal transactions, such as sworn evidence, fiduciary duties of care and terms of trust  are veridically affirmed. This is necessary for applying Occam's razor to eliminate materialistic cosmologies failing the volitional efficacy test fundamental to human decision-making autonomy and personal responsibility for our actions upon the world.

3. The extent of subjective volitional consciousness across the evolutionary tree can be verified through empirical observation of volitional purposiveness in eucaryotes.

4. Organismic and biospheric symbiosis are irrevocably manifest properties of all eucaryote species and the biosphere as a whole as a climax system. Psychic symbiosis has become a cultural practice of diverse human societies.

5. Cosmological symbiosis is verified by statistical evaluation of quantum change experiences of “ultimate reality”, in psychedelic and meditational states, as demonstrated in studies by the Johns Hopkins team and others.

 

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

 

The current human weltanshauung, since an exilic writer wrote the sabbatical Genesis 1, started out as a flat Earth with beaten domes (firmaments) in which the plants were created before the sun and moon. Until Copernicus, this was an anthropocentric view of God's creation. Copernicus then flipped it to the heliocentric objective universe, causing our thinking to turn inside out and become obsessed with describing everything, including our most subjective realities, in objective mechanical terms, until quantum reality intervened.

 


Fig 15: ’Elhoistic Flat Earth Sabbatical Eden and Copernican Classical Heliocentrism, in Symbiotic Existential Cosmology become
Conscious Paradise on the Cosmic Equator Σ
 in Space-time, between the big-bang origin α  and the final crunch, or heat death Ω.

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology doubly inverts the Copernican principle: That humanity does not have a privileged view of the universe. SEC does a double flip on this as well. Firstly the universe is NOT heliocentric. The structural interaction pathway goes through two cycles. Firstly younger hotter stars generate the chemical elements from hydrogen and helium and supernova them into galactic gas clouds which are then swept up into smaller longer lived sun-like stars with solar accretion discs, where a second long period of biogenesis and then biological evolution ensues. Thus we end up at picture three on the right, paradise on the cosmic equator in space time. We are not 4.5 billion years old but our stuff is much older, say 10 billion out of the universe's 13 billion year lifetime, so the cosmic equator is now about half way through in space-time, with a good 5 billion to go before we red giant. But there is the second flip. Due to the eucaryote endosymbiosis between archaea and bacteria, life became complex conscious organismic life and the cosmic equator has become conscious flipping the privileged view of the universe right back to consciousness itself, so we are nearly back to square one, the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 and 3, except that we are in dire straights from human misadventure!  That's precisely what the Brahmanic quantum change experience I had on mushrooms was saying! What a hell of a fix! So we really do need to act to avoid the extinction!

 

This in turn resulted in the rise of classical materialism defined by Newton’s laws of motion, after watching the apple fall under gravity, despite Newton himself being a devout Arian Christian who used scripture to predict the apocalypse.

 

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the

counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. ... This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all;

and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called "Lord God" παντοκρατωρ [pantokratōr], or "Universal Ruler". ...

The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, [and] absolutely perfect (Issac Newton).

 

Nevertheless the classically causal Newtonian world view, and Pierre Simon Laplace’s view of mathematical determinism “that if the current state of the world were known with precision, it could be computed for any time in the future or the past”, came to define the universe as a classical mechanism in the ensuing waves of scientific discovery in classical physics, chemistry and molecular biology, climaxing with the decoding of the human genome. By contrast with Newton, it is said that when Napoleon asked Laplace, who was called the weathercockfor his political survival skills, why he had never even mentioned its Creator in his work, he answered bluntly, Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là – “I had no need of that hypothesis”.

 

This classical causal view has extended to a view in neuroscience that our subjective conscious experiences, which are the sole avenue we have to experience the physical universe are simply an internal model of reality generated by the brain, viewed as a causally closed physical mechanism preventing volitional will having any efficacy. This view still pertains, despite the discovery of quantum reality at the beginning of the 20th century, in which causality is overshadowed by quantum uncertainty and its effects, on the basis that these do not apply to a warm wet brain. Howecer, this claim is empirically unprovable and is likely to remain so. The end result is that the central arena of our subjective experience and our volitional agency over the physical world have been treated by neuroscience as null and void, leaving neuroscience with no way to elucidate how the objective brain can generate something intrinsically subjective by any causal mechanism conceivable – otherwise called “the hard problem of consciousness”. This leaves our conscious existence in an orphan status and our sense of agency and living meaning and purpose in the universe non existent.

 

Fig 16. Symbiotic Existential Cosmology stands centrally between two degenerate descriptions of nature, fully confirming the autonomy of human conscious volitional will to affect the universe and for human beings to have full responsibility over our physical actions. Monotheism, left invokes free-will but binds it to eternal punishment by a super-conscious agent. Physical materialism, right lacks any conscious human agency, regarding subjective conscious experience as simply an internal model of reality generated by the physical brain as a passive epiphenomenon, lacking any capacity of conscious volitional will to affect the physical universe. Physical Materialism and Monotheism are both fated to lead to a mass extinction of the diversity of life and eventual human extinction, due to apocalyptic destruction in favour of an imagined Heaven/Hell bifurcation on the religious side and, on the materialist side, the complete failure to accept conscious life has a cosmological role in the universe which humans, as conscious volitional agents affecting the world have become responsible for, by our impact on Earth’s climate, habitats and biodiversity. Only by affirming symbiotic existential cosmology does the human species have a consistent cosmological basis and a good chance of long-term survival in the biosphere over evolutionary time scales.

 

In figure 16, symbiotic existential cosmology occupies the central place between theistic cosmology, dominated by a superconscious agent creating the universe and physical materialism in which the universe is described as a giant causal mechanism, although it has been more recently been found to be also subject to quantum uncertainty on  the scale of wave-particles and their ensuing “spooky” properties in quantum entanglement. Both the theistic and pure materialistic descriptions are degenerate in complementary ways.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology corrects this fatal flaw in the scientific model elegantly, by starting from our conscious ability to apply volitional will to affect the universe and making a minimal augmentation of quantum cosmology to include the subjective aspect. This immediately inverts the Copernican principle, because it deduces that subjective consciousness in the advanced biota and hence humanity is the climax phenomenon of the biogenic interactive pathway, giving us not only a privileged view but the central experiential view of the universe, as a manifestation of a consciously purposive cosmos. Copernicus is turned inside out because the world outside regains its complement, the mind-at-large inside, through which the universe can perceive and manifest itself.

 

Symbiotic cosmology is absolutely pivotal to the human species regaining volitional autonomy and the ability to take responsibility of ensuring our species learns to respect our symbiotic relationship with the biosphere essential for our long-term survival. Without this, the prospect of a mass extinction event setting us back 50 million years and possibly causing our own extinction is almost inevitable.

 

Pure physically materialistic cosmology leads to a meaningless universe, in which life is an ineffectual by product, the brain is a biochemical machine, consciousness is a functionless epiphenomenon, volitional will is a delusion, and society is reduced to abstract information systems, with no ethical reason to preserve conscious life, or the diversity of natural life, predisposing to biospheric collapse, ultimately subject to AI catastrophe due to a failure to distinguish conscious life from mere information.

 

Fig 17: Physical materialists who, by their expressed position, are religiously unaffiliated, count only a diminishing 16% diminishing to 12.5% of the world population by 2060 (Pew Research 2017). This means that unproven assumptions that life lacks conscious volition and is just a causal computational mechanism in the brain have no credible chance of success in advancing the scientific description of nature to the human population at large in the coming century.

 

Patriarchal theistic cosmology by contrast, discards the late planet Earth in envy of Heaven and fear of Hell, in an apocalyptic tumult of life’s destruction, and of the universe itself, as God’s disposable creation, or in the Eastern mind-sky view a degenerating Kali [12] yuga again leading to human extinction. Figure 17 shows that, despite the incredible nature of theistic cosmology in the natural universe, far more people adhere to a religious view than are unaffiliated, partly because it does provide a realistic although moralistic view of human consciousness and free-will. This means that the scientific world view and particularly materialistic neuroscience, in the absence of an acceptance of the central place of conscious existence and volitional will has no hope of gaining widespread acceptance this century.

 

Symbiotic existential  cosmology, transcends both these corrupt descriptions. The unfolding diversity of conscious life is central to the cosmic process, also realising the visionary core of spiritual traditions through first-person transcendent consciousness, superseding both naive belief in a creator deity, for which no conceivable evidence actually exists and a physical universe lacking meaning,  purpose, and awareness of its own existence.

 

The world is a construction of our sensations, perceptions, memories. It is convenient to regard it as existing objectively on its own. But it certainly does not become manifest by its mere existence” … “The reason why our sentient, percipient and thinking ego is met nowhere within our scientific world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: Because it is itself that world picture

(Erwin Schrödinger 1944).

 


Conversation with Deepak Chopra

 

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

 

I have experienced every type of hallucinogenic agent known to science and communed with sacred mushrooms for half a century and have faithfully kept my visionary covenant with them both before and since since the key event I now describe. Last June, after a seven-year break, due to nearly being blinded by acute closed angle glaucoma, exacerbated by dilating my pupils on psychedelics, recently cured by total lens replacement, I took another plunge, using a mild dose suitable for a healthy 76 year old, in an activity-enhancing mushroom lemon tea. At the peak, I sank into deep meditation, framing the ultimate question: What is the answer to life, the universe and everything? I fell deep down into the entheogenic abyss, which opened out into the moksha epiphany of being, of transfiguring intensity, utterly compassionate of the mortal coil. This comes by many names, the mind-at-large to Aldous Huxley, Brahman-atman to the Upanishads, and the All in Yeshuas words, in the Gospel of Thomas. I emerged, galvanised and invigorated by a seemingly impossible task literally saving the diversity of conscious life of the entire universe, not to neglect, in passing, the lost sheep of Israel!  Here’s how it can be done!

 

As a researcher in quantum chaos and neuroscience, I struggled to reassemble the scattered shards of my physical worldview. Over weeks, this metamorphosed into The Symbiotic Cosmology of Perennial Conscious Existence”, a creative commons monograph on Research Gate – augmenting physical cosmology with its universal complement in conscious existence, in three interlocking components, biogenic, panpsychic and symbiotic.

 

Fig 18: Pupil dilated by psilocybin.

 

This cosmology is fully consistent with quantum physics and neuroscience but resolves the three central paradoxes of conscious existence: (1) The hard problem of consciousness (why subjective experience exists); (2) the physical efficacy of conscious volitional will (can our subjective experience of purposive intent, that we depend on to do anything, actually affect the world around us) and (3) the cosmological role of conscious life in the universe.

 

This discovery is of critical importance for humanity’s survival, although it may seem paradoxical, given its source, because the diversity of conscious life becomes the consummating climax of cosmic evolution in an all-encompassing biological, psychic and cosmological symbiosis.  And this comes with the same urgent galvanising responsibility, amid an acute planetary crisis of climate, habitat and biodiversity, to save the diversity of life from an impending human-caused mass extinction, which could well precipitate our own demise, through failing to live symbiotically within the biosphere on which we depend. Species need to not just survive, but survive in sufficient genetic diversity, to prosper and evolve. Humanity’s survival over evolutionary time scales as a fit species, in the biosphere, requires returning half the Earth’s natural habitats to the several million species with which we co-depend. As noted on the cover, it also requires ending the mutually assured destruction of the nuclear arsenal which leaves the Earth on a hair trigger instability of accidental annihilation.

 

The discovery is also about hard real world reality, because it gives us back conscious volitional autonomy over the world – our integral sense of personal “agency” that materialistic science stole from us in the Copernican revolution, enshrined in Newton’s laws of motion, now relentlessly entangled in the teeming uncertainty of the quantum universe. Making our scientific description consistent with our conscious autonomy also makes it consistent with civil and criminal law, in which intent, as intelligent volition, is pivotal to accountability for our actions. Incorporating conscious volition into cosmology also gives empirical science back its ethical and existential validity over prescriptive religious belief, in the true pursuit of knowledge. 

 

The key role of life in the universe is clearly expressed in the first component – fractal biogenic cosmology. We know by our very existence that life is capable of emerging and existing in the physical universe, but there is an underlying reason. The four forces of nature, emergent from cosmological symmetry-breaking, give rise to interactive chain reactions which compound quarks, into baryons, atomic nuclei and fractal molecular structures, because of non-linearities associated with nuclear and chemical bonding. While the energetics of biology is dwarfed to insignificance by the strongest cosmological forces, resulting in galaxies, black holes and stars, the quantum structural pathway to full interaction of the four forces leads to atoms, fractal biomolecules, organelles, cells, tissues and the conscious brain – paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time, once a first generation of stars have made the chemical elements and evolution has had time to result in conscious organisms.

 

Living in the quantum universe, we have no idea whether complex unstable phenomena, such as  brain processes, are causally closed. We cant assume mechanism rules when uncertainty enters into the equation and processes at the edge of chaos can amplify it. This applies particularly to unstable brain processes, which are assumed, without real evidence, to be causally closed. Pure materialism, particularly  in neuroscience, has become an unscientific doctrinal “publish or perish” belief system, having little more evidential credibility than religious fundamentalism.

Conscious experience is our sole avenue to know and understand the physical universe. Although we have to respect the fundamental nature of physical existence, to survive in the world, the totality of our knowledge of the physical reality of the world around us is established exclusively through our subjective consciousness, as a consensual experience of conscious participants, complementing our individual dreams and visions.

 

Since we all believe and act on the basis that  we have autonomous conscious volition, we need to determine what type of cosmology is consistent with conscious decision-making in the universe we inhabit. It must be one in which the subjective conscious mind can affect the objective physical brain, so by Occam’s razor, we eliminate all cosmologies which fail this veridical test, and out the window goes pure materialism! The brain may have some low energy quantum physics going on to support conscious processing, but it is just some ordinary organic matter that clearly obeys the four quantum forces colour, weak, electromagnetic and gravity, so we immediately have a situation where, in at least some forms of matter – (a) physical causality is not closed and (b) the physics has a complementary subjective aspect. Conscious volitional autonomy thus implies natural panpsychism!

 

This is already a panpsychic cosmology, because subjectivity has become a fundamental property of nature. This is why the hard problem is cosmological, not just a neuroscience problem and this is not a form of dualism! Just as the wave and particle aspects of physics are complementary rather than distinct, so are the physical universe and subjective mind. Gilbert Ryle’s Cartesian “ghost in the machine” thus does not apply!

 

In the second component, Darwinian panpsychism – which I coined from Charles Darwin’s comment that free will could run all the way from the “puppy” to the “polypes”, the subjective aspect becomes complementary to the universe as a whole, encapsulated in the many and various forms we experience as organismic consciousness, echoing Erwin Schrödinger’s statement: “The number of minds in the universe is one”.

 

The quantum universe is a causal process punctuated by quantum uncertainty. To enable subjective consciousness to influence brain function without disrupting causal closure, means subjective consciousness applies to situations where uncertainty is key – for example at unstable global tipping points in brain dynamics, where ion channel thresholds are crossed at the quantum level in a way the brain becomes sensitive to, through edge of chaos dynamics and stochastic resonance. This is precisely what is required to make sometimes split-second intuitive decisions, in exactly the situations where consciousness is key – avoiding uncertain threats to our survival, through environmental crises that can be irreducibly intractable to compute.

 

What then is quantum subjectivity? Each particle is “latently conscious” – probabilistically moulded by its wave function, expressing its entangled quantum history and future under special relativity. Each single quantum instance is also a single idiosyncratic event, in which the particle is randomly expressed within the wave function amplitude. This idiosyncrasy corresponds to its free will. Unstable quantum processes, including edge-of-chaos, biogenesis and excitable prokaryote cells, likewise inherit this latent complementary subjective aspect.

 

What about the emergence of consciousness? In the eucaryote endosymbiosis, when an archaean species engulfed respiring bacteria to form our energetic mitochondria, there was a discrete transition to cellular sentience, because the cell membrane became freed from energy transduction and became available for sensitivity to quantum “sense” modes and social signalling, with coordinated excitability functioning as a consciousorganiser using the same cellular processes and receptors as in neurons. Subjective consciousness thus predates nervous system computation by a good billion years. Informational models of consciousness, such as IIT integrated information theory and AST attention schema theory, thus incorrectly have the cart before the horse. The ensuing story, from the amoeba to humanity, is bridged by the social amoeba Dictyostellium, which has both individual cellular and coordinated organismic modes. The brain later evolves as a massively parallel organ, processing experience, operating as a tightly-coupled society of social amoebae communicating seamlessly with pre-existing sentient consciousness via a coordinated form of organismic edge-of-chaos excitability, using the same social signalling molecules that evolved in single celled species.

 

Existential cosmology is empirically verifiable. Objective empiricism has become technologically facile, on all scales, from the quantum to the universe. By contrast, subjective empiricism comes from subjective experiential reports of both everyday mental states and deeper transformative experiences, as well as volitional will evident in behaviour. All three are well established and as old as human culture, complemented by our awareness of purposive sentient activity in animal behaviour, indicating volition down as far as founding single celled eucaryotes. The success of psychedelics in alleviating depressive and terminal illness and documented genuine spiritual experiences, described as either religious, or of “ultimate reality” by the subject, attests to their validity and statistical significance as empirical scientific findings.

 

The third component is symbiosis  – genetic, cellular, organismic, biospheric, psychic and cosmological. Complex life evolved through a complementary endosymbiosis between the two prokaryote kingdoms – archaea and bacteria. Eucaryote endosymbiosis is necessary for complex life to exist, demonstrating that symbiosis, as an edge-of-chaos climax, transcends living systems lacking such complementation. Sexuality, foundational to eucaryotes, is also a form of genetic symbiosis, in which two or more strains are locked into a symbiotic role, asymmetric in sperm-ovum fertilisation in animals, also called sexually antagonistic co-evolution, due to differing male and female reproductive strategies, as in the human sex wars of patriarchal domination. The human genome is also in functional genetic symbiosis, with 46% being endogenous viral and transposable elements which, although selfish, have become key to coordinated gene regulation and evolution. Symbiosis is also biospheric. Life is not just a competitive capitalistic struggle of tooth and claw, but survival of  the most effective biospheric symbionts, in which predator, prey, parasite and host, moderate boom and bust dynamics, in edge-of-chaos biodiversity climax.

 

Founding gatherer-hunter cultures responsible for human emergence, from the San Bushmen to the Pygmies of the Congo have achieved biospheric symbiosis through an animistic [13] view of nature as interconnected relationships, in which animals and natural forces are conceived as having agency and personhood. Panpsychist existential cosmology shares these symbiotic features of animism which also underlies the later emergence of religious systems. Both materialistic science, and its technological development and religions asserting dominion over nature and a direct prisoners' dilemma tragedy of the commons (Hardin 1968) have brought about the impending human-induced mass extinction of life, so the interconnectedness with nature of the animistic/panpsychic world view becomes pivotal to our future survival, as a cultural expression of symbiosis between natural diversity and human culture.

 

Symbiosis is also psychic and cosmological. The natural correction to human induced mass extinction of life due to our tribally-based species dominance is conscious existence reaching edge-of-chaos climax, in which planetary guardianship is not the exclusive possession of a single dominant species Homo sapiens, but is achieved in psychic symbiosis with entheogenic species, which have evolved in such a way as to return egotistical consciousness to the primary consciousness noted in research studies. By opening the doors of perception to the deeper cosmic reality subjective consciousness contains, psychedelics manifest psyche, thus constituting the subjective complement to the LHC in cosmological physics, also enabling the universe to come alive and know itself in us, in cosmological symbiosis. It remains categorically unclear that the universe is able to manifest its existence in the absence our conscious experience of it. 

 

The lesson from the prisoners’ dilemma and evolutionary game theory is that, to advance this theory in adequate time to mitigate and alleviate a mass extinction of life, I cant afford to adopt a simple polite cooperative stance. Human motivation is not going to simply accept a veridical theory of symbiotic existence that comes out of deep left field.  This is going to take a lionesses claws to succeed in time to have any chance of a soft landing for the diversity of life on our planet. I will thus try to be firm but fair, but invoking tit-for-tat as a fall-back response, in the face of consistent defection, against protecting the diversity of life from mass extinction.

 

 

 

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – Contents in Full

 

Dedication

The Core

A Scientific Overview

Biogenic

Panpsychic

Symbiotic

Discovery and Philosophy

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

Introduction

The Three Faces of Cosmology

Taking the Planetary Pulse

Planetary Reflowering

Scepticism, Belief and Consciousness

Psychedelics The Edge of Chaos Climax of Consciousness

Discovering Cosmological Symbiosis

A Visionary Journey

Natural Sacraments and Cosmological Symbiosis

The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness

The Physical Viewpoint

The Neuroscience Perspective

Cartesian Theatres and Virtual Machines

Consciousness and Surviving in the Wild

Panpsychism and its Critics

Consciousness as Integrated Information

Is Consciousness just Free Energy on Markov Landscapes?

Can Teleological Thermodynamics Solve the Hard Problem?

The Crack between Subjective Consciousness and Objective Brain Function

A Cosmological Comparison with ChalmersConscious Mind

Minimalist Physicalism and Scale Free Consciousness

Defence of the real world from the Case Against Reality

Consciousness and the Quantum: Putting it all Back Together

How the Mind and Brain Influence One Another

The Diverse States of Subjective Consciousness

Consciousness as a Quantum Climax

TOEs, Space-time, Timelessness and Conscious Agency

Psychedelics and the Fermi Paradox

Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind

Therapy and Quantum Change: The Results from Scientific Studies

Biocosmology, Panpsychism and Symbiotic Cosmology

Fractal Biocosmology

Darwinian Cosmological Panpsychism

Cosmological Symbiosis

Symbiosis and its Cosmological Significance

The Evolutionary Landscape of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Evolutionary Origins of Neuronal Excitability, Neurotransmitters, Brains and Conscious Experience

The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

The Evolving Human Genotype: Developmental Evolution and Viral Symbiosis

The Evolving Human Phenotype: Sexual and Brain Evolution, the Heritage of Sexual Love and Patriarchal Dominion

Gene Culture Coevolution

The Emergence of Language

Niche Construction, Habitat Destruction and the Anthropocene

Democratic Capitalism, Commerce and Company Law

Science, Religion and Gene-Culture Coevolution

The Noosphere, Symbiosis and the Omega Point

Animism, Religion, Sacrament and Cosmology

Is Polyphasic Consciousness Necessary for Global Survival?

The Grim Ecological Reckoning of History

Anthropological Assumptions and Coexistential Realities

Shipibo: Split Creations and World Trees

Meso-American Animism and the Huichol

The Kami of Japanese Shinto

Maori Maatauranga

Pygmy Cultures and Animistic Forest Symbiosis

San Bushmen as Founding Animists

The Key to Our Future Buried in the Past

Eastern Spiritual Cosmologies and Psychotropic Use

Psychedelic Agents in Indigenous American Cultures

Natty Dread and Planetary Redemption

The Scope of the Crisis

A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Forcing the Kingdom of God

The Messiah of Light and Dark

The Dionysian Heritage

The Women of Galilee and the Daughters of Jerusalem

Whom do Men say that I Am?

Descent into Hades and Harrowing Hell

Balaam the Lame: Talmudic Entries

Soma and Sangre: No Redemption without Blood

The False Dawn of the Prophesied Kingdom

Transcending the Bacchae: Revelation and Cosmic Annihilation

The Human Messianic Tradition

Ecocrisis, Sexual Reunion and the Tree of Life

Biocrisis and the Patriarchal Imperative

The Origins and Redemption of Religion in the Weltanshauung

A Millennial World Vigil for the Tree of Life

Redemption of Soma and Sangre in the Sap and the Dew

Maria Sabinas Holy Table and Gordon Wassons Pentecost

The Man in the Buckskin Suit

Santo Daime and the Union Vegetale

The Society of Friends and Non-sacramental Mystical Experience

Communique on Preserving the Diversity of Life on Earth for our Survival as a Species

Affirmations: How to Reflower the Diversity of Life for our own Survival

Biocrisis and Resplendence: Planetary Reflowering

The Full Scope: Climate Crisis, Mass Extinction. Population and Nuclear Holocaust

Evolution of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Crisis and Resplendence

Entheogenic Conclusion

A Moksha Epiphany

Epilogue

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is Pandora's Pithos Reopened and Shekhinah's Sparks Returning

The Weltanshauung of Immortality

Paradoxical Asymmetric Complementarity

Empiricism, the Scientific Method, Spirituality and the Subjective Pursuit of Knowledge

References
Appendix: Varieties of Panpsychic Philosophy

 

Introduction to the Monograph   

  

So what is this key to life, the universe and everything about? I’m going to explain all this, but first we need to take stock of the actual situation we are all facing in raw acute terms of planetary survival.

 

Although a visionary, I am first and foremost a scientist, who has spent my life lecturing in mathematics, with a research speciality in quantum cosmology, chaos theory, fractal processes, neuroscience and biocosmology. This means that my entheogenic journey, the bubbling Dionysian spring I am going to intoxicate you with, is founded on a real, verifiable, scientific cosmology, not just some kind of spiritual pipe dream, but this cosmology is putting consciousness, and our free will to affect the world around us, right back into the driving seat, and that is going to upend the Copernican principle that humanity does not have a privileged view of the universe at large.

 

The Three Faces of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

 

The symbiotic cosmology solves (1) the hard problemwhy subjective consciousness exists, (2) the problem of conscious intenthow volitional will acts on the world, and (3) the central enigma of existential cosmology the role of conscious life in the universe. It does this simply and directly, without invoking any spooky features of panpsychism, by applying objective physical and biological criteria to define complementary subjective modes, by the coherent forms of instability involved, so it uses objective science to qualitatively classify subjective phenomena.

 

(1) Fractal biocosmology: The fact that life is a consequence of quantum cosmology is blindingly obvious! Just look around you! Life exists! It does so because it is an interactive manifestation of the laws of nature. While the cosmological energy pathway leads to the cosmic web, galaxies, black holes and stars; the structural pathway of the four symmetry-broken forces of nature leads to a fractal universe – quarks, composite baryons, atomic nuclei, atoms, fractal molecules, molecular complexes, cell organelles, cells, tissues, organs, the conscious brain, organisms and biospheres.

 

(2) Darwinian panpsychism: This is again irrefutable that we all as subjective conscious agents, are consciously aware that we have volitional will over the physical universe in our decision-making and actions. But this means matter including brains have a hidden subjective aspect. This implies panpsychism. There thus follows a spectrum of graduated manifestations of subjectivity, from quantum to edge-of-chaos to cell to organism and biosphere, based on the biological and physical criteria giving rise to these systems. It is faithful to Darwins own statement that free-will extends to the cnidaria, further extending it to all eucaryotes.

 

A. Primitive subjectivity: The ability of the subjective mind to affect the physical brain means the natural world has to have a primitive subjective aspect – autonomous volitional will thus implies natural panpsychism. Individual quanta, quantum-sensitive “butterfly effect” systems and prokaryote cells thus each inherit a primitive subjective aspect, although not attentive consciousness as such.

B. Sentient consciousness arose in a discrete transition in single-celled eucaryotes, accompanying the endosymbiosis between archaea and bacteria, when respiration became internalised in the mitochondria, leaving the cell membrane free for sensory functions through edge-of-chaos membrane excitation and social signalling via primal neurotransmitters such as serotonin, to anticipate threats and aid survival. This experiential anticipationpredated multi-cellular nervous systems by a billion years.

C. Organismic consciousness emerged in multi-celled animals using the same edge-of-chaos excitability and social signalling molecules as in single-celled species as neurotransmitters. This explains why animals continue to be subjectively conscious through natural selection for survival, with nervous system phase coherent parallel processing seamlessly incorporated much later, but never replacing experiential anticipation.

D. Uncertainty and mind: The action of mind on brain necessarily arises from modulating the "random" aspect of quantum uncertainty in edge of chaos brain processing. This enables volitional will to intervene in the brain without disrupting the partial causal closure in computational brain processing. This provides plenty of room to affect the uncertain outcomes in evolutionary survival using both subjective anticipation and historical experience.

E. Biosphere and universe, in turn, inherit an indirect form of consciousness through the conscious biota that exist within them, as the most complex interconnected climax manifestations of sentient consciousness in the universe.  

 

(8) Symbiotic Cosmology: The universe is symbiotic biologically, psychically, and cosmologically, throughout.

A. Organismic: All higher (eucaryote) organisms are multiply symbiotic species, , by archeal-bacterial endosymbiosis, sexual symbiosis, and viral/TE symbiosis.

B.Biospheric: Survival of the fittest is survival of the fittest biospheric symbiont, not the most dominant species, or the fastest reproducer. All species, including humans, whether parasites, hosts, predators or prey, evolve to symbiotic climax and inherit their cosmological role in conscious existence through symbiosis with the diversity of life over evolutionary time scales, rather than exploiting it, causing a mass extinction, as humans are currently doing. . Lions are predators but they kill the herbivore stragglers ensuring the herbivores dont go to boom and bust. Species which fail the test like humans  become extinct.

C.Psychic: Psychedelics play a critical role in this symbiotic evolutionary process. Huxley’s "mind at large", perceived through psychedelics play a critical role in this symbiotic evolutionary process, as the perceptual mind of the unconstrained brain reflecting the psychic symbiosis of inner cosmological climax edge-of-chaos dynamics, transcending tribal egotism, in what the Upanishads call moksha. This enables the individual to experience from the cosmic viewpoint and the universe to become self-aware. Humans thus inherit an existential responsibility, as climax manifestations of fractal biogenesis, to sustain the evolutionary diversity of life over the cosmological time scales we have inherited and need to preserve and unfold.

D. Cosmological: The climax of cosmology – conscious paradise on the cosmic equator in space-time arises not from the dominance of one conscious species, but at the edge of chaos, in symbiosis.

 

Given the fact that it is consistent with the views of both Charles Darwin, the founder of biological evolution and Erwin Schrödinger the discoverer of the quantum wave function equation determining the structure of quantum chemistry, it behoves us to take their advice and take this cosmology seriously:

 

 There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousnesses. Their multiplicity is only apparent, in truth there is only one mind. ...  I should say: The overall number of minds is just one” (Schrödinger).

 

"To see a puppy playing [one] cannot doubt that they have free-will"

and if "all animals, then an oyster has and a polype.” (Darwin)

 

Panpsychism also makes it possible for quanta to “observe” and hence collapse superpositions of other quanta, so the universe is how we perceive it to be, not a shadow multiverse, with ghostly cats flung all over it, this picture is one in which new branches are being created in the wave function in a similar manner to fractal cosmic inflation while others are being collapsed by conscious measurement, resulting in dynamic evolution of the cosmic wave function. Special relativity, the most classical part of quantum reality, is implicitly retrocausal as well as causal, as in Feynman diagrams, so quantum reality is implicitly anticipatory, involving transactional collapse across relativistic space-time in which a network of potential transactions become one or a set of real emitter-absorber interactions.

 

Consciousness thus exists to anticipate existential threats, as Graziano's AST – attention schema theory highlights, although incorrectly thinking free will is a delusion. Darwinian panpsychism is also very like Tononi and Koch’s IIT –integrated information theory, except it's based on edge-of-chaos dynamics, which fits with the quantum world, through the butterfly effect, while IIT is a classical computational theory about Markov processes, so phi doesn't capture the root phenomenon, of subjective awareness since sentient consciousness preceded computation, not the reverse.

 

Taking the Planetary Pulse

 

First we need to take the therapeutic pulse of the world condition. Although we conceive of ourselves as living in a world of scientific, social and medical sophistication, in which technology is enabling us to reach for the stars, the majority of people on the planet adhere to fixed beliefs in archaic religions which are cosmological fallacies in frank and violent conflict with the natural world. In 2020 56% of the population of Earth belonged to one of the monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All of these religions have belief systems focussing on the natural world and entire physical universe we exist in being merely a temporary moral test for a tumultuous end-of-days Armageddon apocalypse. In the resulting day of judgment, all of humanity will be consigned either to eternal life in Heaven, or an endless diabolical torment in Hell, shedding the verdant Earth and its billions of years of evolving diversity as a kind of skin to be sloughed off, in what Christians call the Rapture. This is compounded by a literalistic belief in creationism, or intelligent design by God, assigning evolution and the diversity of life to being disposable assets. Rather than make the world a better place, this cosmological fallacy abets the worst in human instincts for business-as-usual to exploit the living and non-renewable resources of the planet, in a patriarchal regime of dominion over nature that leads to an accelerating impact on the habitats of all the other species, and pushes the natural environment to potentially irreversible tipping points.

 

Compounding this is an even more ancient crisis that happened to humanity during the transition from gatherer-hunter coexistence with nature to civilisations based on agriculture and animal husbandry that is confessed in the Fall from Eden. The male fear of paternity uncertainty caused mankind to condemn the female sex to subservience, in an assertion of patriarchal dominance, reinforced by the monotheistic religions, although widely shared across all cultures sealed into our genome from around 10,000 years ago. This is clearly laid out in Genesis, in Eve being cursed for seeking the wisdom of the Tree of Life, being accused instead of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, destroying their paradisiacal innocence, sexually declared to God by the fig leaf. Humanity was cursed and driven out of Paradise by God, with the Tree of Life hidden behind a flaming sword. Man and woman alike were doomed to the mortal coil of sexual existence. Women were cursed as the “devil’s gateway”, to be obedient to their husbands and suffer the pains of travail childbirth, with mankind condemned to a life of struggle against nature to survive against the thorns, to till the ground in human dominion over nature, delineating the transition from gatherer-hunter paradise to the lost innocence of agricultural civilisation.

 

This in turn has led to a world in which major religions use the patriarchal imperative to increase their populations to achieve social dominance, leading to population explosion, suppressing female reproductive choice under dire penalties, from stoning for adultery, to female genital mutilation, veiling, chaperoning and denying jobs and education and escalating human impact on nature through the invocation to dominion over nature, in denial of Earthly Paradise.

 

I am a child of nuclear apocalypse. On Christmas Day 1944 the first radiated plutonium slugs began to roll out of Hanford, signalling the real beginning of the apocalyptic age of Planet Earth. My birth was 12 days later on the Epiphany 1945. Los Alamos received its first plutonium from Hanford on February 2. Consecrating this patriarchal apocalypse, the Trinity explosion of this plutonium occurred on July 16. The uranium Hiroshima bomb was named little boyand the plutonium Nagasaki bomb dropped on August 9 from the same Hanford material was “fat man”.

 

Michael Ortiz Hill in “Dreaming the End of the World: Apocalypse as a rite of Passage” describes the first words following the Trinity test:

 

It is striking that, following Oppenheimer's lead of naming the site of the first nuclear test "Trinity," Weisskopf and William Laurence - both Jews - saw in the Bomb the glory of Christ. In the Jewish tradition, the character of the Messiah has distinctly human dimensions, a "Son of Man" rather than the "Son of God" of Christian eschatology, while the Christ metaphor speaks to an experience that dwarfs the human realm. Ferenc Szasz notes, "Others whispered, more in reverence than otherwise: 'Jesus Christ' ". Known to be something of a mystic, I. I. Rabi described Trinity by the overwhelming light that engulfed him: "Suddenly, there was an enormous flash of light, the brightest light I have ever seen or that I think anyone has ever seen. It blasted; it pounced; it bored its way right through you. It was a vision which was seen with more than the eye. It was seen to last forever. You would wish it would stop; altogether it lasted about two seconds…. Oppenheimer said, "We waited until the blast had passed, walked out of the shelter and then it was extremely solemn. We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most were silent" He recalled the terrible and ecstatic eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, where the warrior Arjuna requests that Vishnu display the nakedness of his transcendental form. Arjuna is cowed in holy terror as the god visits upon him "the radiance of a thousand suns" "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" Oppenheimer quoted the Gita. "I suppose we all felt that, one way or another," he continued. Three weeks later, the pilot of Enola Gay, Paul Tibbets, requested God's blessing upon the Bomb that would initiate the citizens of Hiroshima into the darkest consequences of this ecstatic presence. "Be with those who brave the heights of Thy heaven intoned the chaplain, "and carry the battle to our enemies”.

 

Another striking theme that repeats again and again in the "dreaming up" of the Bomb is that of birth and paternity. On the mythic level, it is clear that the Bomb was not invented as much as "born." Some people recognized the godlike epiphany of light and fire - so long anticipated - as the birthing of something or "someone" new. We can discern a specifically paternal pride and even hints of tenderness toward the Bomb. William Laurence called the rumblings of the Trinity explosion the "first cry of a newborn world”.

 

However, our true apocalyptic disaster, more tumultuously destructive, over time than any fantasy that Revelation can throw at us, is planetary biocrisis – our impending biodiversity and climate crises, driven by a patriarchal culture of dominion over nature and woman alike, that seeks to exploit the Earth and its living natural diversity rather than sustain it as the immortal living Paradise that has sustained us for three billion years of evolutionary emergence, in an unbroken line of inheritance to our own existence. A survey conducted in several countries as I write (Hickman et al. 2021)  has found that 56% of young people believe “humanity is doomed”, because of climate and biodiversity crisis [14]. Current evidence indicates that the climate crisis alone could send our planet back 50 million years to the Eocene maximum, shortly after the dinosaur extinction. The damage caused by a mass extinction of biodiversity can never be recovered, but in raw terms would take another 50 million years to recover from in purely quantitative terms.

 

Planetary Reflowering

 

We urgently need to learn to let life overflow in abundance again, and give space on the planet for life to do so and rapidly correct the climate crisis we are causing that also lays waste to natural habitats, so that we shall survive as a species. This is the key to our living future. It’s as simple as that. I am a scientist dedicated to preserving the biodiversity of planet Earth from the almost unstoppable human stupidity of causing a mass extinction of life which could cause the end of humanity as we know it, if we don’t come rapidly to our senses and achieve three active priorities to protect the living dharma [15] of the sentient cosmos:

 

(1)   Biodiversity and Climate:
(a) Dedicate half the Earth and its habitats to natural wilderness so that the millions of other species we co-depend with can survive and flourish (Wilson E O 2016) . Half the planet has to be enough for one species Homo sapiens alone among 3.8 million others to entertain and fulfil ourselves. This is literally the only way evolution can flourish and humanity can survive, because we need genetic diversity for species survival. If we don’t do this, our probability of long term survival is bleak and, while we might repair climate, biodiversity remains in mortal danger.
(b) Fix the climate crisis as quickly as possible by converting to renewable energy before the climate ‘fixes’ us.
This is fully achievable and inevitable. No further financial investment, or subsidies in CO2 emitting energy sources.

(2)   Nuclear/Mass Destruction: Cease production of nuclear weapons and weapons for biological warfare for military use. Devote the technology to protecting the Earth from astronomical impacts that could cause a mass extinction.

(3)   Patriarchy and Population: End the Epoch of patriarchal dominion over woman and nature that has lasted for the last 4000 years and profoundly exacerbated the population crisis, in the reunion of woman and man in reproductive freedom, i.e. the Sacred Reunion, or Hieros Gamos [16] the fertile foundation of human cultural emergence and super-intelligence in sexual paradox (Fielder & King 2004).

 

Scepticism, Belief and Consciousness

 

The sceptical approach of objective science, which has revealed all the confounding detail of the physical universe and natural world we live in, is founded on the opposite of affirmative belief, that nothing we imagine to be true can be established to be so, unless every empirical test we make in the universe is replicable and contradicts the sceptical assumption that the idea is false. Thus the doubling of the bending of light around the Sun due to the Suns gravitational field, confirmed Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

 

But science, for all its inscrutable and meticulous care and veracity, has one terrible shortcoming, the elephant in the room of subjective consciousness itself. Key to my journey of visionary discovery has been the realisation that subjective consciousness has a central role in cosmology and that the entire universe is not just a physical nightmare of unrestrained forces of nature creating galaxies and black holes, populated by mindless atoms and molecules and biological organisms that are simply chemical machines and that the sun is doomed to eventually destroy the Earth and eventually the entire universe will destroy itself in a heat death, cosmic rip, or big crunch.  Bertrand Russel’s overwhelming pessimism sums this tragic fallacy in precise words of doom.

 

In this materialistic scientific view, consciousness comes to be identified as a mere epiphenomenon of brain activity, which is at best a potentially unreliable, internal model of the reality of the world around us, which has no ability to effect any causal change on the physical circumstances of the universe. Thus conscious existence is deemed to be a mirage, and free will is an illusion, possibly evolved so as to convince us to continue to act as if we have the will to continue, because all human decisions are just a consequence of brain functions determined by our genes and the specific circumstances of the decision we are striving to make at the time. This classical world  denial of free will leaves us with the status of automatons deluding ourselves into believing we have choice, leaving all questions of ethical or moral responsibility in the dust. But the quantum universe teaches otherwise, as I shall come to explain.

 

Religious believers of virtually every kind find this world view completely unsatisfying for very good reasons. While traditional religious cosmologies are archaic and wildly inconsistent with the reality of the universe as we now know it to be, they exist in a conscious condition of projected fantasy, where Heaven and Hell are conceived as all-too-real experiential realms, in which a sentient being can either live an eternal life in heavenly bliss, or suffer in the endless horrors of damnation. They also go half way to allowing free will as long as we use it to obey the will of God. A scientific view, even if it has experimental verification, that claims consciousness and free will are self-fulfilling delusions holds no candle to a myth that places this real Earthly life to be a mere temporary forerunner to a moral judgment for all eternity.

 

This means that we, the world and its living future, are living trapped in a schizophrenic existence, in which we treat the practical details, as if we are living in the physical universe with its physical laws and material boundaries, but underlying it, for most of us, is a contradictory belief that the real world is just a delusion, or a temporary place to undergo a moral trial by God, and the true realities that solve life, the universe and everything lie in the afterlife. This is the existential crisis that we are going to heal in this discussion to unveil and reflower the Tree of Life.

 

The full scope of this contradiction becomes apparent if we examine our living experience of the world around us. We are all forced to concede the existence of a shared physical reality, that the table I am writing on is solid, and if I crack my knuckles on it, they will hurt, if I get hit on the head, I may pass out and lose consciousness, or if I eat a poisonous plant or catch a disease I may get sick, and if I am hit by a vehicle in the street, or shot, I may die, so we are forced to concede the existence of the objective world around us and know that it is part of a physical universe of galaxies, stars and planets, composed of particles, including atoms and molecules that also make up biology and ourselves.

 

But on the other hand, 100% of everything we experience, including our experience of the physical world, of our dreams and of our visions, including those on mind-altering substances, occur through and only through our subjective conscious experiences. So the world, as we see it, is actually a consensus view of subjective conscious experiences between people, which we are confident is shared with other conscious beings around us, from their lively engaging demeanour, although we don’t generally have any direct access to anyone else’s subjective experience.

 

We also have a basic belief in our personal autonomy – to make subjective decisions that affect the world arounds us, many as simple as getting a cup of coffee, or going to the toilet, but also critical decisions that may seriously impact on our lives, or the world at large. The sanctity of the legal system depends on the notion that we are accountable for our actions as conscious sentient beings and do have conscious intent. This is what we call ‘free will’ although we know all our decisions are partially determined by their circumstances and can be influenced to a certain extent by our genes.

 

In Galileo’s error, the panpsychic philosopher Philip Goff (2019) notes that what has subtly happened is that the scientific method, from Galileo [17] through Newton, converted the perceivable universe into a set of dispositions codified in mathematical equations, demoting the qualitative aspect of reality to irrelevance. This is fundamentally a patriarchal scheme of dispositional dominion over nature, reducing the phenomenal world to a set of equations. Gather-hunter societies arose from the women classifying plants and defining culture through language, while the men hunted, often silently. Thus males generally have good mental rotation and tend to navigate by vector dispositions as hunters exploring alien terrain “take the first left and then second on the right” rather than the qualitative features used by females from their careful classificatory gathering “it’s opposite the pay centre after the gas station”.

 

In the Newtonian universe, the patriarchal approach of analytic quantification came to dominate the description of nature, just as the patriarchal religious description dominated nature and woman alike to humanity’s detriment. The end result has been that the entire subjective descriptive aspect of reality has been eliminated from the scientific world view, resulting in an inability of science to understand what subjective consciousness is and does although it is everything we experience. Patriarchal science has literally lost the subject of the case.

 

Belief in materialism, because of its adroit use of the sceptical principle, to correct naive assumptions and elucidate properties of the natural universe that were at first sight very counter-intuitive, has since become a belief system exactly like a religion, so that researchers cannot afford to take any other position in peril of being shunned by the dominant scientific community and losing recognition altogether. This has grown to counterproductive proportions where the very researchers showing the benefits of psychedelics scientifically are bound to declare that psychedelics have no demonstrable value in solving the central problems of conscious experience, when it is obvious they are sine qua non the most consistent modulators of the depths of conscious experience available to science.

 

Psychedelics – The Edge of Chaos Climax of Consciousness

 

This is where psychedelics and their apotheosis, in the term enthoegens, when used for spiritual purposes, come centrally into the arena. Psychoactive substances have always had a formative role in the emergence of spiritual and religious viewpoints. Cannabis, which plays a central role in Shiva worship, has been consumed in ritual spiritual practices for several millennia. Hindu religion owes a portion of its Upanishadic cosmology of the atman and Brahman as the cosmic mind to cannabis and the Rig Veda to the mythical soma of the Aryans. Traces of cannabis used for ritual purposes have been found at an ancient Judaic temple (700-900 BCE) in Arad Israel (Arie, Rosen & Namdar 2020) and also in China (500 BC). Opium likewise has an ancient medicinal and spiritual use.

 

However long term spiritual use of the most significant of the psychoactive species, those bearing the classic psychedelics, have largely been confined to the pre-Colombian cultures of America, where there is evidence of spiritual use of mushrooms from the Mayan culture (1000 BCE) , the use of peyote among the Zapotec (500 BCE) and long term use of ayahuasca and tryptamine snuffs in South America. These substances have much more profound affects on consciousness which lead directly to a vortical abyss of visionary states renowned for their intensity and transcendence. But their relative absence from existing historical traditions outside he Americas means their significance has been bypassed by the classical world, with the possible exception of Greek mystery cults.

 

The discovery of LSD and the later discovery of the continuing sacred use of psilocybe mushrooms in Mexico in the mid twentieth century brought the use of hallucinogenic visionary substances back into the focus of Western culture. Although peyote use had continued by the Huichol since Columbus and had been re-established in the Native American Church at the end of the 19th century, and ayahuasca had been consumed as a sacrament in the Amazon, these had remained marginal to mainstream Western awareness. But the advent of LSD as a recreational drug supported by prominent proponents in the US, from Timothy Leary in the East Coast to the Merry Pranksters and Grateful Dead in California, advancing a counter-cultural agenda, supported by devoted chemists who were prepared to synthesise vast numbers of doses of LSD at little or no charge, conceived in the “public good”, set the stage for a cultural confrontation. Accompanied by disquieting media awareness that psychedelics were laying siege to consumer culture and values, amid some troubling incidents with their use, a campaign of frank misinformation ensued from the authorities. The result was that the US and then the world introduced a total clampdown on their use that initiated the unending war on drugs, and stopped all human scientific research in its tracks.

 

Given the long history of sacred use of entheogens , this constitutes the most benighted quasi-religious piece of authoritarian counter-reaction in Western culture since the Inquisition and Witch Hunts, in a complete mockery of the scientific age of discovery. Penalties for psychedelic use rose to schedule 1 sentences similar to murder, reflecting the perception that this was regarded as a deadly sin rather than any scientific evidence of significant harm, but a threat to the very consumption society that is driving the planet into ecological and climatic crisis. It is only now around fifty years later that the very tentative reopening of scientific research into these substances detailed in section 1 has been able to begin to set the record straight, while still largely confining them to therapeutic use in terminal and psychiatric conditions, while their recreational use has continued, although hidden from the mainstream and somewhat trivialised as a merely a recreational rather than a deeply formative spiritual experience, as their historical use attests.

 

What the psychedelics provide is a negotiable transcendental experience in the vortical abyss of conscious existence comparable with and potentially more profound than the peaks of meditative and contemplative experiences in mystical and meditative traditions. They constitute a/the central vehicle for us to explore and discover the innermost nature of the subjective mind. They differ from meditation, in that they have pronounced visionary qualities that challenge existing conceptions, rather than enabling a relatively featureless repose, from renunciation and careful top down mindfulness, that is reflected in the formless void of Buddhist thinking, outside the more spontaneous satori of Zen. Likewise they transcend contemplative mysticism, which tends to reinforce preconceived theistic beliefs. They also provide a more consciously explorable complementary condition to lucid states of dreaming associated with REM sleep because these are difficult, or impossible to maintain physiologically.

 

Discovering Cosmological Symbiosis

 

This is where we come to the symbiotic cosmology that solves life, the universe and everything summarised here. The existential role of consciousness in the universe is the central enigma of existential cosmology, as we have seen. That's the key thing that everyday existence, no matter how meditative we may be, or whatever preconceived beliefs we may hold, misses out on the true enormity of, so that we will go through life in a state of  distraction trying to fill it with habitual purpose until it's too late and we are gone.

 

Around the beginning of June just over two months ago, I summoned up the will to take a sacred mushroom trip after a seven year fast due to closed angle glaucoma, recently corrected by lens replacement. In the midst on the peak, I settled into meditating on the silent question of the  central enigma and let go. As I descended deep into the abyss, at a certain point, everything opened out into what I noted later that evening to be “the epiphany of being in the existential centre of the cyclone, where everything comes into focus in the transfixing presence of complete transfiguration”. “Not an event, but a state of knowing, as we always have known, from time immemorial, as if we have always been conscious of this knowing, forever compassionate of the mortal coil . I have experienced this many times before on mushrooms but not in this iconic way. The result was “a sheer calm, unmitigated experiential awakening, as if the Big Bang of the universe is discovering itself in this very moment of illumination and is realising with irresistible intensity, the urgency and vitality of this state of knowing, which, the moment one experiences it, means saving the precious universe, the biosphere and the diversity of life within it from mortal risk to its survival”. This being true, despite the overwhelming reassurance of overflowing compassion for the mortal coil emanating from the apotheosis.

 

Psychedelic trips can be plagued by all manner of sensory and visionary experiences, from the sublime to the ridiculous or even alarming, but there is a name for this. The Huichol call it the Nierika, the visionary portal to the non-ordinary reality of the spirit world and the ancestors.

 

There is a doorway within our minds that usually remains hidden and secret until the time of death.

The Huichol word for it is nierika – a cosmic portway or interface between so-called ordinary and non-ordinary realities.

It s a passageway and at the same time a barrier between the worlds(Halifax 242).

 

Emerging renewed and revitalised from this experience, accompanied as I moved and breathed by the lingering shadow of the apotheosis compassionately caring for me and encouraging me to put this whole illumination together into an account for the world, I began feverishly assembling this work.

 

What the experience brought home to me, above all was the veridical [18] reality of the cosmic mind, even though it was evoked in a human brain on sensory withdrawal under a hallucinogenic experience. This is a turning point from many past experiences, where I have witnessed the same compassion for the mortal coil as a visionary impression of the other – transforming it from perception into reality – the actuality of Brahma-atman unification in the form extolled in the Upanishads (Purohit & Yeats 1937).

 

This brings us back to the hard problem of consciousness research. The advent of neuroscience has provided us with genuine insights into how the brain processes information, including sensory and cognitive tasks associated with conscious attention and resting, or meditative states. We can then associate a variety of conscious states with activity, either by electroencephalographic portraits of brain waves, by functional magnetic resonance images of blood flow to specific regions, or by positron emission tomography of radioactive glucose, and even by invasive studies of actual neurons and connections in animals. Various researchers can then attempt to deduce how these excitations give rise to the conscious experience, e.g. by the activities of certain frequency bands, such as gamma from 30-100 Hz.

 

The classical deterministic view of brain function, denying a role for subjective consciousness and making free will impossible, is undermined by two additional factors in the physics of brain function. The first is edge-of-chaos dynamics, which at tipping point instabilities associated with critical decision-making watersheds can enable a fractal handshaking between instabilities at the quantum level of the ion channel and changes in overall brain state. The second is the intrinsic uncertainty of quantum events and their entanglement, which is closely paralleled by phase coherence in wave processing associated with coherent conscious states – that brain states which rise and fall together in synch rise to consciousness while others constitute the unconscious ground of neurodynamic processing.

 

The trouble with the entire sweep of the objective description of brain dynamics is that no objective state, no matter how the brain does it, even if by edge-of-chaos instability and quantum entanglement, is anything other than objective, so it never solves the question of how subjective states actually arise. This is the so-called ‘hard problem of consciousness’ coined by David Chalmers (1995). Essentially, there is no way to get a ghost out of the objective biological machine of the brain by combining non-conscious components, whether molecules, neuronal excitations, edge of chaos dynamics, quantum phenomena or brain states, if none of these components have any subjective status.

 

The sceptical basis of the scientific description depends on Occam’s razor, the idea that, given two views describing the same phenomenon, the simplest, most concise one is likely to be correct. Materialists thus try to claim that any reference to consciousness and volitional will is extraneous in a supposedly classical macroscopic world where causal decision making processes defined by brain function can in principle have a detailed mechanistic basis without reference to fuzzy vitalistic [19] notions like mind, consciousness or will. They will then claim the hard problem is a distraction to be finessed away in steps, as more discoveries of how the physical brain processes information become revealed. However the materialist case is not established and it isn’t necessarily fulfilling Occam’s razor at all. What has happened is that materialists have restricted the domain of evidence to be circumstantial physical fact, ignoring veridical truths stated by conscious observers and actors as mere personal opinions or beliefs, in fundamental conflict with legal situations, where sworn subjective testimony is evidential in the absence of contrivance.

 

For example Erwin Schrödinger’s statement “the overall number of minds is just one”, which coincides with the conclusions of this monograph, is discounted as just being his idiosyncratic belief in Advaita Vedanta, despite that fact that we depend on his wave equation to understand quantum chemistry, and his devising of the cat paradox to understand quantum observation. Taken at face value, this is a veridical teaching by a founder of quantum mechanics.

 

So we need to take a big step back and reassess the way Occam’s razor best cuts a real swathe through existence. When confronted by a description of reality which denies our subjective consciousness is anything more than an epiphenomenon, and insists that our volitional will to make any sort of autonomous decision at all is a delusion contrived by evolution to ensure we survive and replicate, that debilitates any sense of personal autonomy, responsibility and confidence to act in the real world, we need to make a succinct determination. Should we just accept this is a scientifically proven fact, when the evidence doesn’t exist that the brain is a causally-closed deterministic machine and looks increasingly to be a complex, messy claim that may never be confirmed? Or should we take the much simpler concise volitional choice to allow Occam’s razor to cut the Gordian knot of this contrived belief that we are helpless automata, and assert that it contradicts our decision-making autonomy, and rule out of hand this fatalistic myth-making? How can we resolve this existential impasse?

 

The answer is both ridiculously simple and counter-intuitive – to move the elephant in the room – consciousness itself – into a new place on the cosmological chessboard, that of complementing the entire physical universe. This is a direct consequence of affirming volitional will [20], because will implies the conscious mind affects the physical universe physically in terms of the forces of nature. This may be in the way the brain processes unstable tipping points, and may  involve quantum phenomena akin to solid state physics, but it is still a physical process following the forces of nature under the core model of physics. But this means the physics of the universe itself is sensitive to mind and that mind plays an essential role in intentionality [21] in the universe, manifest in the biosphere as a whole and in the universe at large. This is then a form of pan-psychic cosmology.  Panpsychism is thus the clean veridical Occam’s razor cut.

 

Consciousness, as an expression of a more generalised pan-psychism, then has a role in quantum uncertainty and in collapsing the wave functions of the multiverse, as we see in Schrödinger’s cat paradox, which we know appears to be specifically associated with conscious measurement of the wave function. This gives us back  both subjective consciousness and its ability to autonomously apply free will in the same process determining the course of history in the universal wave function. This solves the dilemma of science denying free conscious choice and gives us full freedom as sentient beings, unlike the bondage of moral religions, where we are given free will only to find that if we use it autonomously on our own best judgment, we would be likely to end up in hell. Instead of moral compulsion, giving us back autonomy also gives us subjective divinity in our union with the cosmic mind.

 

This solves the moral problem another way by showing us that our mortal existence is part of the immortal web of life and that there is no future in selfish activity because when we come to the end of our lives, any activities other than giving our all to life as a whole is futile. It also solves the problem for divinity i.e. the mind at large, because now it has a sentiently intelligent vehicle for conscious manifestation.

 

Since we are universally subjectively sentient conscious beings and have no knowledge of the physical world except through subjective consciousness, the only valid conclusion is that the subjective aspect is a cosmological property complementing the objective physical universe. This means a form of panpsychism, in which all quantum phenomena also have a complementary aspect. This seems counterintuitive, because we seem to be replacing a succinct objective description with something elusive and fuzzy, but that is because we aren’t making the right test. The test of objective cosmology is empirical investigation. The test of subjective cosmology is veridical affirmation in which each conscious observer affirms verification.

 

There are alongside its foundational subjectivity a number of features of our conscious experience which ‘colour’ the nature of experience and are features or ‘qualia’ of our consciousness rather than its existential status. For example vision and hearing, smell and touch all differ qualitatively. These differences are partly due to the quantum modes of the senses and partly to do with the neuroreceptors and cerebral excitations eliciting conscious states. So we need to factor these out when addressing panpsychism and the ground roots of subjectivity.

 

However there are some features in the conscious brain that are clearly universal and hold the key to understanding what consciousness is and how it arises. While individual details of brain structure and dynamics are shared extensively with other mammals, leading to our empathy with our pets, the differences between us and arthropods and molluscs such as cephalopods are much more exotic and somewhat alien.

 

The fundamental basis of consciousness arises in coordinated edge-of-chaos membrane excitability  in prokaryote cells, dating back to the first cells of our last universal common ancestor LUCA. However a key transition point to sentient consciousness arose in our last eucaryote common ancestor LECA, the founding single celled eucaryote. Here is the transition point where symbiotic cosmology really begins to kick in. This was a hugely significant event in the form of a deep symbiosis between the two existing procaryote kingdoms some 2 billion years ago, in which an Asgard archaean and a proteobacterium, similar to our intestinal bacterium Escherichia coli, became symbiotically interdependent. This freed the cell membrane from core energy processing, which was now handled by the bacterial mitochondrial respiration and made the new cell membrane able to become focussed on information processing. This meant that the eucaryote cell became sentient life form responding to quantum modes – sight, sound, chemical and electrical, in its environment sensitively due to the edge-of-chaos dynamics of its excitable membrane. At the same time these cells, across the board use the same molecules as the key repertoire of our neurotransmitters to facilitate the social signalling essential for survival of the collective single celled organism.

 

This is the point where panpsychism becomes consciousness as we know it and the entire rest of the story is simply elaborating on this theme, so the human brain ends up being a very ornately and closely coupled collection of amoebae communicating through these same social signalling molecules in their synapses to produce the highly coordinated form of cellular consciousness that we experience as subjective reality.

 

This turns what might seem to be specious vitalism into a clear-cut biological theory in which the development of subjective consciousness has a clear evolutionary trace from the punctuated equilibrium of eucaryote symbiosis, consistent with the physiology of chaotically excitable cells in a quantum entangled universe. Because this subjective product of excitability enhanced survival by avoiding lethal outcomes, it has been selected by evolution throughout. This in turn attests to the effectuality of conscious will on the physical universe

 

One can then find evidential support for this conclusion. A key point of transition is that from single celled eucaryotes to the metazoa – multicelled animals.  A highly-studied example is the myxamoeban  slime-mould Dictyostelium discoideum. This is a free-living single-celled amoeba that having eaten out its local bacterial habitat, aggregates, forming an excitable slug and then a sporulating fruiting body, to spread it to new habitats. It does this by using a combination of the same molecules that we use as neurotransmitters and second-signalling molecules – cyclic AMP, glutamate, GABA and serotonin pivotal to psychedelic activity and human mood. It turns out that an interplay between serotonin and its catabolic enzyme MAOa is key to maintaining development of the spore-forming tip of the fruiting body. In the same way, serotonin plays a key role not just in neurotransmission in the mature brain but evoking stages of brain development in the human embryo, for the neural groove at one extreme, to coordinating the correct formation of the layers of other neurons in the cerebral cortex, through serotonin-secreting fibres ascending from the basal brain that are later used in the moderating mood in the mature brain, to mediate organismic social survival.

 

Several of these molecules are primal in their simplicity and cosmological in their origin. Both glutamate and GABA both of which are key neurotransmitters are prominent components of comets and carbonaceous chondrites. Others are the amines of biological amino acids. Serotonin is 5-hydroxy-tryptamine, derived from tryptophan.

 

This goes a good way toward providing an immediate explanation of how psychedelics can cause a retreat from egotistical attentive consciousness into a primary consciousness, in which ego loss occurs, consistent with an underlying dynamic to secure collective survival, rather than personal survival of the individual, when the psychedelic state dissolves the distinction between self and other in a peak experience.

 

But the eucaryote symbiosis is not the only manifestation of symbiosis in Homo sapiens. As far as we know, all existing eucaryotes are sexual, or at least capable of intermittent (cryptic) sexuality. Dyadic sex is one of the most altruistic genetic acts an organism can commit to, by giving only half its genes, along with half the partners genes to make what is essentially a new life form never before conceived. All sexual species thus consist of two sexes each with their own genetic history (or more – Dictyostelium has three and some fungi fertilising by conjugation lots more).

Sexual symbiosis in animals is highly asymmetric with the female contributing all the cytoplasm, ostensibly to avoid a mitochondrial genetic war, and the males contributing essentially only their DNA in the sperm, giving rise to sexually antagonistic co-evolution i.e. the sex wars of reproductive investment.

 

Humans are also extensively symbiotic with their endogenous transposable elements, which constitute over half of the human chromosomal genome, that arose originally as selfish genes, co-travellers that run back to the first multicelled animals and retroviruses related to HIV that became incorporated into our germ lines. These can cause mutations but also have key roles in coordinated gene expression and chromosomal processing.

 

Finally all species are co-dependent with the other species populating their ecological niches in biospheric symbiosis. This is what we capitalistically call survival of the fittest by natural selection, but really it is symbiotic co-evolution with the biosphere as a whole, even though individual species, including Homo sapiens have evolved to maintain strategic survival in their own right, leading to the egotistical expression of human character.

 

In the context of humanity, we are manifestly symbiotic with our food and medicinal species and likewise with our entheogenic species. The plant components of ayahuasca, the opium poppy, cannabis, coca and the herb of the shepherdess, Salvia divinorum have all been symbiotic with the human species for millennia, as has the yeast Sacchromyces cerevesiae responsible for bread, but also alcohol. Peyote and sacred mushrooms have been collected from the wild for millennia but some species of Psilocybe mushrooms are the most easily cultivated entheogens, now in symbiotic use.

 

This brings us to the final component of the symbiotic universe, symbiosis with the mind at large. Humans consider ourselves to be the species that invented culture. We tend to define ourselves as reaching to the stars themselves, as a dominant species that stoops to no other, as the highest form of consciousness, apart form God himself and thus free to determine the destiny of all living species on Earth. This is a tragic fallacy in conflict with all the evidence.

 

Human attempts to seek moksha – escape from the egotistical and mortal round of birth and death are singularly rare enough that the Eastern traditions of both Buddhism and Vedanta have arrived at a fallacious notion of enlightenment through many reincarnations, essentially because the experience of cosmic reunion is so rare as to be essentially unattainable. The monotheistic faiths have abandoned any hint of such achievement. Christianity considers human nature fatally flawed by original sin and hence the only hope is faith in God, prayer and fear of the punishments of Hell in the day of judgment, while mystical experiences are rare and generally contemplative, rather than illuminative. Any idea that a person can manifest actual identity with God is blasphemous across all monotheistic paths. Islam regards it as a death penalty, just as Yeshua was condemned to death by the High Priests for blasphemy.

 

This leads to the conclusion that human consciousness is not the cosmological pinnacle of conscious existence, but we are a/the key active vehicle for cosmological symbiosis incarnate, and that the entheogenic state, by virtue of the very symbiosis induced by the entheogenic relationship takes us closer to the union with the mind at large that is the consummating manifestation of the cosmos in self-awareness. The biota are the only entities we know of in the universe that possess consciousness. They are thus the central candidates for the interactive emergence of cosmological consciousness from the Big Bang. This experience of union is also the only phenomenon we know of that comes anywhere close to the actual realisation of deity.

 

This finally solves the dilemma of God as a third agent outside the physical universe. The missing component explaining the creation of the observable universe is not God but consciousness itself. It is the missing piece in the puzzle and the manifestation of deity is thus realised in the subjective, not in a miraculous third party.

 

And although it seems counterintuitive to think that consuming entheogenic species is a/the key to saving the planet, there is a symbiotic truth in this because, the entheogenic relationship in Maria Sabina’s words a way of “the sap and the dew” heightens our deep sense of inter-connecteness with nature and deep solace in our relationship with life as a whole, rather than delusory and damaging supremacy over it that leaves us in mortal isolation, so in the longer evolutionary time scale, given the current biospheric dominance of Homo sapiens, this is cosmologically pivotal.

 

A Visionary Journey

 

The other side of the coin of this transmission is that I am what I would call a true visionary. That is, I am transparent and simply give you the keys to resolve the existential enigma to use for yourself. I have no doctrine about what other people need to do spiritually, or should do to gain illumination and I am true to the pursuit of the vision quest. I don’t follow any religion and don’t ask anyone to believe in me, but I encourage you to find out for yourselves with an open mind.  And to ensure everyone has love and support to keep the process tranquil. The reason is that the cure for the mortal condition is moksha not moral punishment and moksha heals and informs the ego. The true realities that matter to the meaning of sentient existence in the mortal coil are not found in the material world, but in accepting our transience within the eternal entanglement and realising that the only meaningful acts we can perform are to ensure the passage of the living generations continues to flourish. Therefore true enlightenment redeems the mortal condition. I have sourced my vital inspiration and literally navigated my life course through first person visionary experiences on entheogenic species that have propelled my life and its urgency and activism.

 

The intensity of these experiences could have consumed me and driven the most stalwart to the brink of messianic insanity, were it not for my intent to be true to nature and the universe at large, as well as my loved ones.  I may have no religious or spiritual assumptions, or doctrine, but I do have one clear natural priority sine qua non and that is a mandate to save the living planet, its biodiversity and its largely beneficent, nurturing climate from a hard landing, irreversible tipping points, a mass extinction of life which would place our living future and the future of all life in serious jeopardy.

 

I was born on 6th Jan – the Epiphany of the advent, appearance and miraculous dread of Dionysus, who became Dhushara  of the Nabateans in Yeshuas time. This event later became usurped by Hellenistic-Jewish gospel writers as Yeshua’s Triple Epiphany: (1) of his visitation by the Magi, (2) in his baptism by John and (3) in his turning water into wine at Cana at the request of his mother, in an all-too Dionysian display of the god of wine and altered states.

 

Fig 19: Left: Dionysus mask Centre left: Dionysus mosiac Dion 300 BCE – 300 CE. Centre: Quetzalcoatl in human form. Centre right Teotihuacan 150-200 CE, Olmec la Venta 900 BCE. Quetzalcoatl is the god of wisdom, whose feathers represent the flight of visionary consciousness, while the serpentine body slithers among the plants and animals, entangled in natural existence.

 

The “feathery part” of my vision quest is summed up in “The Plumed Serpent” (Lawrence 1974):


"I am lord of two ways. I am master of up and down.

I am as a man who is a new man, with new limbs and life,

and the light of the Morning Star in his eyes.

Lo! I am I! The lord of both ways.

Thou wert lord of the one way.

Now it leads thee to the sleep. Farewell!

So Jesus went on towards the sleep.

 

And Mary the Mother of Sorrows lay down

on the bed of the white moon,

weary beyond any more tears.

 

"And I, I am on the threshold.

I am stepping across the border.

I am Quetzalcoatl lord of both ways,

star between day and the dark."


 

I was christened Christopher Cyril King, but I don’t answer to Christopher and I am not a cross-bearer. I won’t carry a cross for anyone, or stand in anyone’s shadow, least of all a dying and resurrecting saviour, who I admire as a brilliant innovator, but also lament for his self-destructive heritage of violence. We each come from a three billion year line of evolution, that has honed us to be conscious beings taking responsibility for our own lives and futures, so I have honed my vision quest as a journey – the trip of a lifetime – the trip of all trips together, till death us do part!

 

For those of us seeking psychic phenomena from visionary experiences, I’ve had these too, although, while they do affect my world view, I neither take any of these for granted and consider them deeply natural rather than supernatural.

 

I have had repeated precognitive dreams and precognitive creative experiences. When I was living on a canal boat we built in England, I read J W Dunne’s (1934) “An Experiment with Time”. According to Dunne, our wakeful attention prevents us from seeing beyond the present moment, whilst when dreaming that attention fades and we gain the ability to recall more of our timeline. This allows fragments of our future to appear in pre-cognitive dreams, mixed in with fragments or memories of our past. Other consequences include the phenomenon known as deja vu and life after death. At the time of its publication, not to have read him became a "mark of singularity" in society.

 

Fig 20: The Taniwha (Maori spirit of the rivers and swamps), the canal boat we built from a wreck submerged since the 19th century where the dream took place.

 

Shortly after this I had a double nightmare that I was being hideously stung by a spider, repeated in the second dream because I had failed to brush it off when it had removed its fangs. I continued to sleep in after Hallie, my young wife, got up to feed our first child, a newborn baby girl, opening the bedroom window in the process. I woke long enough to tell her “I had a terrible double nightmare” and then fell asleep again. About an hour later, I was stung wide awake by a wasp that had flown in after she opened the window. Going through all the same feverish motions under the intense pain I had experienced in the dream, blowing it off to find it was a large wasp. I have had many such dreams during my life most often anticipating things that unexpectedly happen early the next day. What it has taught me is that the universe is an entangled handshaking in which past, present and future are intertwined, and that the role of conscious existence is partly to anticipate future threats and challenges through direct perception of the space-time continuum.

 

I have also had lucid dreams combined with out of the body experiences. After practicing looking at the backs of my hands in dreams as outlined in and after having many dreams in which I saw them but failed to respond, I suddenly realised in my first lucid dreaming encounter that I was aware and all hell broke loose. Firstly, I was being thrust up faster and faster like a rocket ship, in the manner of levitating and flying dreams. But I was also standing in the dream on an exceedingly bright promenade by the sea. A gust of wind blew some sea spray at my light muslin India shirt. I was in a super-sensory state. I could simultaneously sense every one of the droplets separately touching my skin like the stars in the sky. But that didn’t concern me. I looked up at the azure sky and the stratospheric clouds passing over and realised I was trapped in another world. I saw a woman standing gazing at me with dark eyes and rushed towards her, grabbing her by the shoulders staring deeply down into her eyes framing the silent urgent question where is the way back to Ixtalan echoing Carlos Casteneda’s (1972) allegories [22] of the sorcerer Don Juan. She just looked at me and smiled knowingly and shook her head. But at the same time, I was out of my body floating just by the ceiling looking down at myself lying on the bed, totally reassured that it was all okay “You are just down there sleeping”. I thus awoke with these three parallel streams of consciousness re-entwining together. Again, I have had many lucid dreams but none so graphic as this first experience.

 

The difficulty with lucid dreaming is that the very act of becoming lucid rapidly tends to cause one to awaken because the triggers in the base of the brain flip towards wakefulness the moment we become lucid because neurotransmitters for vigilance such as nor-epinephrine kick in and flip the orexin neurons to wake the brain up. This is different from the visionary experiences induced by entheogenic species where a waking person can descend into a deep visionary abyss where other realities quite distinct from dreaming can occur, although returning from the depths of these other states can leave on in a similar situation of trying to recall the ineffable that has now receded, as Don Hose Matsuwa the Huichol shaman makes clear.

 

This brings us to psychedelics, or entheogens as the natural species are called, that possess psychedelic substances and are used, and have been used for millennia as visionary sacraments for healing, sorcery and spiritual realisation.

 

My relationship with psychedelic agents began as soon as I arrived in the UK to take a graduate mathematics degree in topology, with my first somewhat devastating experiences on LSD, still decanted with a dropper onto whole sugar cubes. The first trip was really awesome, but a week later a double dose of two cubes left me with the absolute certainty I had literally died (the most extreme form of ego death) and left me with shimmering after effects for weeks. At the same time, orchestrated by the US drug authorities, contrived reports were circulated that LSD split your chromosomes, which left me with five years of anxiety before I would take my next trip.

 

After that began a regular round of recreational tripping to try to get to the bottom of what these agents were showing us. I have always been devoted to my family which has now become a loving and caring extended whanau as relationships between partners have evolved and changed. For several years we held court, hosting a free-love establishment in the city, in which I ended up in three double partnerships in open ‘marriages’, spanning decades. Attesting to my consistency, I have lived with my current partner, Christine for over 50 years, despite times apart on world journeys, and all my offspring and grand children are nearby, so I must be doing something right, in spite of all.

 

On my first academic sabbatical, I split my efforts between a scientific investigation in the West to get first hand knowledge of what some of the famous scientists, including Nobel prize winners, made of the role of life in the universe. I spent the rest of my time imbibing the Eastern spiritual traditions, wandering India as a sadhu and taking Tibetan Buddhist initiations with Yeshe Dorje the Ningmapa exorcist who kept the rain off the Dalai Lama when he walked and Rangjung Rigpe Dorje the 16th Karmapa the head of the Karma Kagyu lineage, at the same time exploring sources of the world’s power plants, from the poppy fields of the Golden Triangle, through the Ganga fields of India and Afghanistan, eventually to take peyote with the Native American Church in New Mexico, where I also encountered my first sacred mushroom experience.

 

On my return to Aotearoa, I began a symbiotic relationship with sacred mushrooms, both because of their genetic purity, by comparison with synthetic drugs and because, although not as overpowering as LSD, they provide, in my view, a more deeply spiritual experience, which is also a deep expression of conscious symbiosis, without some of the transient casualties of LSD trips that occurred among our friends. This doesn’t mean taking mushrooms all the time. In fact I will sometimes go for years simply making sure they survive. Symbiosis means being faithful to their preservation. Their spores will live for decades if correctly stored at 5% humidity in a cool place and they can be cultivated in a chilly bin, with careful sterile techniques.  I also brought species recognition to psilocybe aucklandii, and conserve a collection of species spanning each of the classic enthenogens, to safeguard the visionary heritage for humanity, as a symbiotic duty of care.

 

Fig 21: A panorama of Opuhi, our wilderness land in Aotearoa. The meeting house is just visible on the right up the path.

 

In 1970 we had established a windswept coastal wilderness conservation community, which provided endless opportunities to hold mushroom veladas in the moonlight, listening to the crickets and moreporks and the distant ocean below, either alone, in “solitario”, which I prefer, or together in the meeting house, which has since become a heritage building. These experiences have become pivotal to my life's work.

 

Other waking experiences, both on sacred mushrooms and during creative experiences have assumed a prophetic quality that can be alarming or even devastating. On one particular velada in the 1980s I suddenly became aware that the mushroom was telling me that if the world failed to show adequate signs of arresting the human impact causing a mass extinction of living diversity, I would need to make a vision quest to the Amazon, as our figurative Garden of Eden paradise and to Yerushalayim as the nexus of the religious impulse to undertake a rite of passage to make a transition to the immortal epoch of the Tree of Life, hidden since the foundation of the world in Eden by a flaming sword.

Around the same time on another trip, I had a horrific vision that my eldest daughter would have an obstruction to her fertility, as some twisted kind if sacrificial outcome of my undertaking this mission. Some years later she became pregnant and her first of three sons was born with Down syndrome. He is great, but the episode was very disturbing, and a triple chromosome 21 is a genetic obstruction to fertility, affirming the vision’s veridical, or prophetic character.

 

In 1980 I made a second journey on unpaid leave to research the chemical origins of life in the US, later returning to Mexico and collecting and consuming peyote from the high desert below Wirikuta, the sacred mountain of the Huichol and then travelling to Yarinacohcha lagoon at Pucallpa in Peru, where I took a powerful and formative ayahusaca trip with Snr. Trinico, a leprous curandero living at the extreme end of the slums around the lagoon.  In 1992 I again returned on sabbatical and took peyote with the Native American Church in Taos with Tellus Goodmorning, my original roadman who was 92 and had lost one eye, but was still in fighting form chanting all night in the teepee.

 

In the two years spanning the millennium I made another sabbatical journey to the Amazon to document one of the worst burning seasons on record and returned to Yarinacocha for a second ayahuasca session with Trinico who was elderly, but now in good health. 

 

Following this, with my sabbatical partner Jane King, we completed our Millennial vigil to Jerusalem, pronouncing as Bride and Bridegroom the rite of passage of the of the immortal Tree of Life of living diversity in the Gaia anointing of the Jubilee passage of Isaiah 61, completed on the Epiphany by declaring the Gates of Mercy open at the Eastern wall and celebrating the Sacred Reunion of woman and man in the Song of Songs  at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

 

This served two key purposes to address foundation issues in the collective unconscious, manifest in the Weltanschauung [23] , the archaic formative world view driving patriarchal monotheism expressed in the Yahwistic Genesis, firstly in Eve being cursed for heeding the serpent, to be obedient to her husband under pain of childbirth, appeasing male paternity uncertainty, confessing an archaic conflict with the matriliny and female reproductive integrity and secondly with dominion over nature, in the Tree of Life in Paradise hidden from humanity behind a flaming sword, dooming us to conflict with the thorns of the wilderness sweat of human dominance.

 

In 2015 I had a near-death experience when involved in a cycle accident which knocked me unconscious and left me with temporary amnesia from ensuing concussion. This made me acutely aware of the risks I was taking not fulfilling the pact with the mushroom, by kicking the bucket before my time had come. This resulted in the notion of planetary resplendence transcending religion as a way of life protecting the biosphere in perpetuity. Resurrection Revelation

Finally after a seven year hiatus, I took the mushroom trip that became this entire work.

 

On 19-7-2001, a month before 9-11, I published the lyrics of a song I had composed – Big Brother  – The Song of the Biospherevideo. A key line invoked jihad: 'When it comes to the final struggle, jihad of the biosphere, there's only one true rogue nation - the great American shaitan’, because George H W Bush had refused to sign the 1992 Rio Convention on Biodiversity. (As of 2016, the convention has 196 parties. All UN member states – with the exception of the United States – have ratified the treaty. The US still only has observer status as I write this in 2021, 29 years later!). The lyrics continue with a lament for the dark canyons of lower Manhattan among the fallen towers: 'walking in the twilight, down in the valley of shadows', and then the plane: 'We'll fly so high well pass right to the other side and never fall in flames again’.

 

Just under two months later, at one in the morning on a continuous BBC news broadcast, I watched in horror, as firstly one and then two planes crashed through the twin towers of the World Trade Center in flames and the towers fell, turning the streets of lower Manhattan into a literal vale of the shadow of death.

 Fig 22: A: Extracts from the lyrics posting of 20th July 2001 (http://dhushara.com/nino/19julyjihad.jpg). B: Passenger plane collides with one of the twin towers. C: Rudi Giuliani Mayor of New York the number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear (http://youtu.be/xhBYWDy4m9M). For the complete song video containing the 9-11 documentary footage, see: (http://youtu.be/g-giqTW4_YQ).

 

The lyrics contain an uncanny ‘prophetic’ reverse echo of the event a month before it occurred:

 

First we have the jihad of against the U.S., but now it is not of the biosphere, but Islamic fundamentalism on 9-11:

 

you told us global warming was a litany of lies
factory chimneys were the prize

when it comes to the final struggle - jihad of the biosphere

there's only one true rogue nation - the great American shaitan

 

Next we have an echo of the streets of New York amid the smoke and haze of fallen masonry amid a deadly massacre.

 

walking in the twilight, down in the valley of shadows

when will you comprehend - the damage you have wrought in your indiscretion?

 

 

Then the amazing, outstanding, caring efforts of those on the ground, to begin the process of recovery.

 

can we undo - the death trance you have set in motion?

will you discover -  the fabric of love that ignites us?

 

We have the two planes flying through the towers in flames.

 

can we fly so high we'll pass right to the other side

and never fall in flames? will we ever be the same again?

 

To become the shining goal in the beginning and end of life - reminiscent of a martyr seeking the face of God.

 

we'll become the living soul, the primal source, the shining goal

the beginning and the end of life, the happiness and the pain

 

can we bear it all again?

 

So finally, a shadow of Rudy Giuliani’s statement as Mayor: The “casualties will be more than any of us can bear”.

 

I apologise to all Americans for comparing your country to the Shaitan, but  saving biodiversity is saving ourselves. Refusing to sign the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity is counter to the entire planetary future, so it was/is satanic, just as Donald Trump’s pulling out of the Paris accord was satanic. These are not the acts of a responsible superpower.

 

So what are we supposed to make of this? It’s just a coincidence isn’t it? There is more to this tale caught up in the quantum entanglement of past, present and future.  Its a completely non-replicable non-IID event. Is it a coincidence?  Whats the probability of that? My father used to marvel at coincidence, repeatedly astounded.

 

How come, a month or more before 9-11 did I get it into my head to write these lines? Yes it's the same life-protecting motive that brought the SEC into existence. But no one remotely conceived this was going to happen. The lyrics are an allegory not conceived to be literal future fact, just poetry, but they are nevertheless written from an apocalyptic viewpoint. But they are also a stream of consciousness account of everybody and everything that happened. The minds of the martyrs thinking they'll fly so high they'll pass right to the other side and  it's also the consciousness of the people who went in to deal with the destruction in the smoke and dust of Manhattan's dark corridors and the spirit of those who came to light their candles for life and the uncanny "can we bear it all again?" whose words Giuliani echoed on TV.

 

What does this all mean about consciousness?

 

In Plato’s allegory of the cave, our state of knowledge is like that of prisoners chained together in a cave watching an illusory drama. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners are people carrying puppets or other objects, casting shadows on the cave wall. The prisoners watch these shadows, believing them to be real. One prisoner finally sees the fire and realises the shadows are fake. This prisoner escapes from the cave and discovers there is a whole new world outside that they were previously unaware of, but he becomes blinded because his eyes are not accustomed to actual sunlight, so when he returns to free them, his fellows do not trust his new knowledge.

 

Ruth Kastner has coined the analogy that quantum land hiding in the transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics, connecting all the potential absorbers to the emitter determining how quantum reality manifests, is the real reality and that physical reality we see in space-time is just the false image on the wall of Plato's cave. I have a different view of this which I'll describe, but Ruth's view has true reality value in suggesting that the foundations of consciousness lie outside physical space-time in the quantum land of incipient possibilities she calls potentiae. In a fundamental sense, this gives a true account of consciousness as the primary reality underlying the necessity of the physical universe, as the consensual illusion that binds together our conscious experiences of the world at large.

 

My view of this goes as follows:

Firstly 100% of people are subjectively conscious human beings, all of whose understanding of the physical universe has come from their conscious experiences, while only a subset believe in physical causality.

Secondly our experience of conscious volition is that we have autonomous intent and can perceive this intent veridically being manifest in our intentional actions. Therefore the physicalist description which sees consciousness as a mere internal model and volition as non-existent is empirically false.

Thirdly  our conscious experience of volition is not like Plato's cave, because we are not passively watching a movie allegory, we are participating in it. The intervention of conscious volition is what actually causes history to emerge from the multiverse, so we are right there by the fire manipulating the images cast on the cave wall. To do this effectively we have to do it predictively.

 

One of the most central aspects of consciousness is that it is an extended space-time representation of our dynamical relationship with existence on an uncertain trajectory from the immediate past into the uncertain future. This looks convincingly like an entangled quantum representation of the now, i.e. the absolute instant of the present expanded into both the immediate past and immediate future i.e. the uncertain quantum of the present. When this becomes extended as in the above example of 9-11 which is a strongly felt apocalypse in my vision that is going to become a world apocalypse in everyone's experience the two get caught in a Faustian space-time pact.

 

To a certain extent our relationship with time is a little like Plato's cave in the sense that the future is herder to see and we are stuck with the past in all our memories, dreams and reflections as Jung said. But this isn't the whole story. The brain-mind is a dynamical predictor as flash-lag illusions show it doing creating space-time artefacts. We experience this facing forwards into the unknown using consciousness as our cubic centimetre of chance to address uncertainty, so my bet is that consciousness is space-time transactionally predictive and has to be for evolution to retain it over a purely physical computational brain.

 

For consciousness to have any affect on physical outcomes that is useful to evolution, it has to be able to anticipate reality. The mind can do this logically or intuitively. But for conscious intuition to do it, it has to be in a sense precognitive.

 

What about life immortality and the eternal? is the ground" of consciousness a universal subjective phenomenon? If so, is it itself in any way connected to the death of the brain. The answer to this is probably yes, because the brain, at the very least is an immensely complex defining condition on the way human organismic consciousness manifests subjectively. This is where a scientist’s comment the the brain makesconsciousness is largely correct, even if the brain is not causally closed, so that conscious volition is efficacious physically.

 

But subjective conscious ground of being as a universal phenomenon is then something that is not confined to a mortal organisms lifetime. In fact it is not even confined to biological evolutionary immortality, so it stands as a principal candidate for being eternal or existing outside space-time, as space-time is an entirely physical construct.

 

So where does this leave us?

 

Well, religious people, Psi people and reincarnation people and mediums all have to reconsider all monolithic assumptions about the afterlife. At the same time scientific materialists need to recognise consciousness is cosmological and stop insisting our conscious volition is just a product of the computational brain.

 

Frankly I think biological mortality is the key to conscious existence sine qua non, because it’s the only way complex conscious existence can become physically manifest in sexual evolution. This is the incarnate focal point of conscious existence. I want to be effectual in my biological existence. I can already experience the immortality of evolving life  and the eternal nature of the ground of conscious being and the so called spirit world of disembodied consciousness.

 

My take on this other world is entirely different from any other description of it I have seen in scripture, mediumistic accounts although is an extension of NDEs rather as an integral transform of the entire conscious experience of the universe aware of itself, both as the mind at large and as the disembodied entities that constitute it, not some winged angels in “heaven” dancing on the head of a pin and not the tormented in eternal suffering in “hell”.

 

‘Elohim

We are whispering ... across the heavens

and all the creatures ... they echo in reply.

We are the very blood ... of the tree of life.

We are the void and the shining light.

 

We are the eternal gypsy spirits of the universe.

We have been here since it all began.

We will outlast its final passing.

We are here to free the heart of man.

 

Adding further assumptions, in my not-so-humble opinion, leads to all manner of egotistical traps, as serious in the subjective world, as the human desire for cyborg immortality does in the physical universe.

 

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in despair at the death of his queen, casts the whole of life as a tale told by an idiot:

 

Out, out, brief candle.

Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

 

This is not the outcome we seek for the living planet, so please listen to the sound and fury of a hallucinogen-consuming voice from the wilderness. It is not me, but the direction human life is taking, and all of us with it, that is idiotic beyond comprehension. That is a tale full of apocalyptic sound and fury, both religious and biospheric which, far from signifying nothing, might kill us all if we don’t accept the three priorities for reflowering the planet above.

 

To quote Yeshua from the Gospel of Thomas (70):

 

"That which you have will save you if you bring it forth from yourselves.

That which you do not have within you [will] kill you if you do not have it within you.”


Natural Sacraments and Cosmological Symbiosis [24]

Solving  the Central Enigma of Existential Cosmology

Chris King – 21-6-2021

In memory of Maria Sabina and Gordon Wasson

 

 

Contents

 

1 The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness

2 Psychedelic Agents in Indigenous American Cultures

3 Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind

4 Therapy and Quantum Change: Scientific Results

5 Evolutionary Origins of Excitability, Neurotransmitters and Conscious Experience

6 The Evolutionary Landscape of  Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

7 Fractal Biocosmology, Darwinian Cosmological Panpsychism and Symbiotic Cosmology

8 Animistic, Eastern and Western Traditions and Entheogenic Use

9 Natty Dread and Planetary Redemption

10 Biocrisis and Resplendence: Planetary Reflowering,  A Moksha Epiphany

 

Abstract:

 

This article resolves the central enigma of existential cosmologythe nature and role of subjective experiencethus providing a direct solution to the "hard problem of consciousness". This solves, in a single coherent cosmological description, the core existential questions surrounding the role of the biota in the universe, the underlying process supporting subjective consciousness and the meaning and purpose of conscious existence. This process has pivotal importance for avoiding humanity causing a mass extinction of biodiversity and possibly our own demise, instead becoming able to fulfil our responsibilities as guardians of the unfolding of sentient consciousness on evolutionary and cosmological time scales.

 

The article overviews cultural traditions and current research into psychedelics [25] and formulates a panpsychic cosmology, in which the mind at large complements the physical universe, resolving the hard problem of consciousness and the central enigmas of existential cosmology, and eschatology, in a symbiotic cosmological model. The symbiotic cosmology is driven by the fractal non-linearities of the symmetry-broken quantum forces of nature, subsequently turned into a massively parallel quantum computer by biological evolution (Darwin 1859, 1889). Like Darwin’s insights, this triple cosmological description (pp 50-64) is qualitative rather than quantitative, but nevertheless accurate. Proceeding from fractal biocosmology and panpsychic cosmology , through edge of chaos dynamical instability, the excitable cell and then the eucaryote symbiosis create a two-stage process, in which the biota capture a coherent encapsulated form of panpsychism, which is selected for, because it aids survival. This becomes sentient in eucaryotes due to excitable membrane sensitivity to quantum modes and eucaryote adaptive complexity. Founding single-celled eucaryotes already possessed the genetic ingredients of excitable neurodynamics, including G-protein linked receptors and a diverse array of neurotransmitters, as social signalling molecules ensuring survival of the collective organism. The brain conserves these survival modes, so that it becomes an intimately-coupled society of neurons communicating synaptically via the same neurotransmitters, modulating key survival dynamics of the multicellular organism, and forming the most complex, coherent dynamical structures in the physical universe.

 

This results in consciousness as we know it, shaped by evolution for the genetic survival of the organism. In our brains, this becomes the existential dilemma of ego in a tribally-evolved human society, evoked in core resting state networks, such as the default mode network, also described in the research as "secondary consciousness", in turn precipitating the biodiversity and climate crises. However, because the key neurotransmitters are simple, modified amino acids, the biosphere will inevitably produce molecules modifying the conscious dynamics, exemplified in the biospheric entheogens,  in such a way as to decouple the ego and enable existential return to the "primary consciousness" of the mind at large, placing the entheogens as conscious equivalents of the LHC in physics. Thus a biological symbiosis between Homo sapiens and the entheogenic species enables a cosmological symbiosis between the physical universe and the mind at large,  resolving the climate and biodiversity crises long term in both a biological and a psychic symbiosis, ensuring planetary survival.

 

1 The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness

 

The human existential condition consists of a complementary paradox. To survive in the world at large, we have to accept the external reality of the physical universe, but we gain our entire knowledge of the very existence of the physical universe through our conscious experiences, which are entirely subjective and are complemented by other experiences in dreams and visions which also sometimes have the genuine reality value we describe as veridical. The universe is thus in a fundamental sense a description of our consensual subjective experiences of it, experienced from birth to death, entirely and only through the relentless unfolding spectre of subjective consciousness.

  


Fig 23: (a) Cosmic evolution of the universe (WMAP King 2020b). Life has existed on Earth for a third of the universe’s 13.7 b ya lifetime. (b) Symmetry-breaking of a unified superforce  into the four wave-particle forces of nature, colour, weak, electromagnetic and gravity with the first three forming the standard model and with the weak-field limit of general relativity (Wilczek 2015) comprising the core model. (c) quantum uncertainty defined through wave coherence beats, (d) Schrödinger cat experiment. Schrödinger famously said The total number of minds in the universe is one”, preconceiving Huxley’s notion of the  mind at large used as this monograph’s basis for cosmological symbiosis. Quantum theory says the cat is in both live and dead states with probability 1/2 but the observer finds the cat alive or dead, suggesting the conscious observer collapses the superimposed wave function. (e) Feynman diagrams in special relativistic quantum field theories involve both retarded (usual) and advanced (time backwards) solutions because the Lorenz energy transformations ensuring the atom bomb works have positive and negative energy solutions . Thus electron scattering (iv) is the same as positron creation-annihilation [26].  (f) Double slit interference shows a photon emitted as a particle passes through both slits as a wave before being absorbed on the photographic plate as a particle. The trajectory for an individual particle is quantum uncertain but the statistical distribution confirms the particles have passed through the slits as waves. (g) Cosmology of conscious mental states (King 2021a). Kitten’s Cradle a love song.

 

The Physical Viewpoint

 

The religious anthropocentric view of the universe was overthrown, when Copernicus, in 1543 deduced that the Earth instead of being in the centre of the cosmos instead, along with the  other solar system planets, rotated in orbits around the Sun. Galileo defended heliocentrism based on his astronomical observations of 1609. By 1615, Galileo's writings on heliocentrism had been submitted to the Roman Inquisition which concluded that heliocentrism was foolish, absurd, and heretical since it contradicted Holy Scripture. He was tried by the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspect of heresy", and forced to recant. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

 

The Copernican revolution in turn resulted in the rise of classical materialism defined by Isaac Newton’s laws of motion (1642 – 1726), after watching the apple fall under gravity, despite Newton himself being a devout Arian Christian who used scripture to predict the apocalypse. The classically causal Newtonian world view, and Pierre Simon Laplace’s (1749 – 1827) view of mathematical determinism that if the current state of the world were known with precision, it could be computed for any time in the future or the past, came to define the universe as a classical mechanism in the ensuing waves of scientific discovery in classical physics, chemistry and molecular biology, climaxing with the decoding of the human genome, validating the much more ancient atomic theory of Democritus (c. 460 – c.370 BC). The classically causal universe of Newton and Laplace has since been fundamentally compromised by the discovery of quantum uncertainty and its spooky" features of quantum entanglement. 

 

In counterposition to materialism, George Berkeley (1685 – 1753) is famous for his philosophical position of "immaterialism", which denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are ideas perceived by our minds and, as a result, cannot exist without being perceived. Berkeley argued against Isaac Newton's doctrine of absolute space, time and motion in a precursor to the views of Mach and Einstein. Interest in Berkeley's work increased after 1945 because he had tackled many of the issues of paramount interest to 20th century philosophy, such as perception and language.

 

The core reason for the incredible technological success of science is not the assumption of macroscopic causality, but the fact that the quantum particles come in two kinds. The integral spin particles, called bosons, such as photons, can all cohere together, as in a laser and thus make forces and radiation, but the half-integer spin particles, called fermions, such as protons and electrons, which can only congregate in pairs of complementary spin, are incompressible and thus form matter, inducing a universal fractal complexity, via the non-linearity of the electromagnetic and other quantum forces. Given the quantum universe and the fact that brain processes are highly uncertain, given changing contexts and unstable tipping points at the edge of chaos, objective science has no evidential basis to claim the brain is causally closed and thus falsely conclude that we therefore have no agency to apply our subjective and consciousness to affect the physical world around us. By agency here I mean full subjective conscious volition, not just objective causal functional agency (Brizio & Tirassa 2016, Moreno Mossio 2015), or even autopoiesis (Maturana & Varela 1972).

 

The nature of conscious experience remains the most challenging enigma in the scientific description of reality, to the extent that we not only do not have a credible theory of how this comes about but we don’t even have an idea of what shape or form such a theory might take. While physical cosmology is an objective quest, leading to theories of grand unification, in which symmetry-breaking of a common super-force led to the four forces of nature in a big-bang origin of the universe, accompanied by an inflationary beginning, the nature of conscious experience is entirely subjective, so the foundations of objective replication do not apply. Yet for every person alive today, subjective conscious experiences constitute the totality of all our experience of reality, and physical reality of the world around us is established through subjective consciousness, as a consensual experience of conscious participants.

 

The hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers 1995) is the problem of explaining why and how we have phenomenal first-person subjective experiences sometimes called “qualia” that feel "like something”, and more than this, evoke the entire panoply of all our experiences of the world around us. Chalmers comments (201) Why should physical processing give rise to a rich inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.”

By comparison, we assume there are no such experiences for inanimate things such as a computer, or a sophisticated form of artificial intelligence.

 

Although there have been significant strides in both electrodynamic (EEG and MEG), chemodynamic (fMRI) and connectome imaging of active conscious brain states, we still have no idea of how such collective brain states evoke the subjective experience of consciousness to form the internal model of reality we call the conscious mind, or for that matter volitional will. In Jerry Fodor’s words: “Nobody has the slightest idea how anything material could be conscious. Nobody even knows what it would be like to have the slightest idea about how anything material could be conscious.”

 

Nevertheless opinions about the hard problem and whether consciousness has any role in either perception or decision-making remain controversial and unresolved. The hard problem is contrasted with easy, functionally definable problems, such as explaining how the brain integrates information, categorises and discriminates environmental stimuli, or focuses attention. Subjective experience does not seem to fit this explanatory model. Reductionist materialists, who are common in the brain sciences, particularly in the light of the purely computational world views induced by artificial intelligence, see consciousness and the hard problem as issues to be eliminated by solving the easy problems. Daniel Dennett (2005) for example argues that, on reflection, consciousness is functionally definable and hence can be corralled into the objective description. Arguments against the reductionist position often cite that there is an explanatory gap (Levine 1983) between the physical and the phenomenal. This is also linked to the conceivability argument, whether one can conceive of a micro-physical “zombie” version of a human that is identical except that it lacks conscious experiences. This, according to most philosophers (Howell & Alter 2009), indicates that physicalism, which holds that consciousness is itself a physical phenomenon with solely physical properties, is false.

 

David Chalmers (1995), speaking in terms of the hard problem, comments: “The only form of interactionist dualism that has seemed even remotely tenable in the contemporary picture is one that exploits certain properties of quantum mechanics.” He then goes on to cite (a) David Eccles’ (1986) citing of consciousness providing the extra information required to deal with quantum uncertainty thus not interrupting causally deterministic processes, if they occur, in brain processing and (b) the possible involvement of consciousness in “collapse of the wave function” in quantum measurement.  We next discuss both of these loopholes in the causal deterministic description.

 

Two threads in our cosmological description indicate how the complementary subjective and objective perspectives on reality might be unified. Firstly, the measurement problem in the quantum universe, appears to involve interaction with a conscious observer. While the quantum description involves an overlapping superposition of wave functions, the Schrödinger cat paradox, fig 23(d), shows that when we submit a cat in a box to a quantum measurement, leading to a 50% probability of a particle detection smashing a flask of cyanide, killing the cat, when the conscious observer opens the box, they do not find a superposition of live and dead cats, but one cat, either stone dead or very alive. This leads to the idea that subjective consciousness plays a critical role in collapsing the superimposed wave functions into a single component, as noted by John von Neumann, who stated that collapse could occur at any point between the precipitating quantum event and the conscious observer, and others (Greenstein 1988, Stapp 1995, 2007).

 

Wigner & Margenau (1967) used a variant of the cat paradox to argue for conscious involvement. In this version, we have a box containing a conscious friend who reports the result later, leading to a paradox about when the collapse occurs – i.e when the friend observes it or when Wigner does. Wigner discounted the observer being in a superposition themselves as this would be preceded by being in a state of effective “suspended animation”. As this paradox does not occur if the friend is a non-conscious mechanistic computer, it suggests consciousness is pivotal.

 

While systems as large as 2000 atoms (Fein et al. 2019) that of gramicidin A1, a linear antibiotic polypeptide composed of 15 amino acids (Shayeghi et al. 2020), and even a deep-frozen tardigrade (Lee at al. 2021) have been found in a superposition of states resulting in interference fringes, indicating that the human body or brain could be represented as a quantum superposition, it is unclear that subjective experience can. More recent experiments involving two interconnected Wigners’ friend laboratories also suggest the quantum description "cannot consistently describe the use of itself” (Frauchiger & Renner 2018). An experimental realisation (Proietti et al. 2019) implies that there is no such thing as objective reality, as quantum mechanics allows two observers to experience different, conflicting realities. These paradoxes underly the veridical fact that conscious observers make and experience a single course of history, while the physical universe of quantum mechanics is a multiverse of probability worlds, as in Everett’s many worlds description, if collapse does not occur. This postulates split observers, each unaware of the existence of the other, but what kind of universe they are then looking at seems inexorably split into multiverses, which we do not experience.

 

In this context Barrett (1999) presents a variety of possible solutions involving many worlds and many or one mind and in the words of Saunders (2001) in review has resonance with existential cosmology:

 

Barretts tentatively favoured solution [is] the one also developed by Squires (1990). It is a one-world dualistic theory, with the usual double-standard of all the mentalistic approaches: whilst the physics is precisely described in mathematical terms, although it concerns nothing that we ever actually observe, the mental in the Squires-Barrett case a single collective mentality is imprecisely described in non-mathematical terms, despite the fact that it contains everything under empirical control.

 

Other notions of collapse  (see King 2020b for details) involve interaction with third-party quanta and the world on classical scales. All forms of quantum entanglement (Aspect et al. 1982), or its broader phase generalisation, quantum discord (Ollivier & Zurek 2002) involve decoherence (Zurek 1991, 2003), because the system has become coupled to other wave-particles. However recoherence (Bouchard et al. 2015) can reverse the entanglements, supporting the notion that all non-conscious physical structures can exist in superpositions. Another notion is quantum darwinism (Zurek 2009), in which some states survive because they are especially robust in the face of decoherence. Spontaneous collapse (Ghirardi, Rimini, & Weber 1986) has a similar artificiality to Zurek’s original decoherence model, in that both include an extra factor in the Schrödinger equations forcing collapse. In the approach of SED (de la Peña et al. 2020), the stochastic aspect corresponds to the effects of the collapse process into the classical limit, but here consciousness can be represented by the zero point field (ZPF) (Keppler 2018). Finally we have pilot waves [27] (Bohm 1952), which identify particles as having real positions, thus not requiring wave function collapse, but have problems with handling creation of new particles.

 

Another key interpretation which extends the Feynman description to real particle exchanges is the transactional interpretation TI (Cramer 1986, King 1989, Kastner 2012) where real quanta are also described as a hand-shaking between retarded (usual time direction) and advanced (retrocausal) waves from the absorber, called “offer” and “confirmation” waves.  TI arose from the Wheeler-Feynman (WF) time-symmetric theory of classical electrodynamics (Wheeler and Feynman 1945, 1949), which proposed that radiation is a time-symmetric process, in which a charge emits a field in the form of half-retarded, half-advanced solutions to the wave equation, and the response of absorbers combines with that primary field to create a radiative process that transfers energy from an emitter to an absorber.

 


Fig 24: (1) In TI a transaction is established by crossed phase advanced and retarded waves. (2) The superposition of these between the emitter and absorber results in a real quantum exchanged between emitter P and future absorber Q. (3) The origin of the positive energy arrow of time envisaged as a phase reflecting boundary at the cosmic origin. (4) Pair splitting entanglement can be explained by transactional handshaking at the common emitter. (5) The treatment of the quantum field in PTI is explained by assigning a different status to the internal virtual particle transactions (Kastner 2012). (6) A real energy emission in which time has broken symmetry involves multiple transactions between the emitter and many potential absorbers with collapse modelled as a symmetry breaking, in which the physical weight functions as the probability of that particular process as it competeswith other possible processes (Kastner 2014). (7) Space time emerging from a transaction (Kastner 2021a). (8) Entanglement experiment with time varying analysers. A calcium atom emits two entangled photons with complementary polarisation each of which travels to one of two detectors oscillating so rapidly there is no time to travel between the two detector pairs. (9) The blue and yellow photon transitions. (10) The quantum correlations blue exceed Bell’s limits of communication between the two at the speed of light. The experiment is referred to as EPR after Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen who first suggested the problem of spooky action at a distance.

 

Ruth Kastner comments in private communication in relation to her development of the transactional interpretation:

 

The main problem with the standard formulation of QM is that consciousness is brought in as a kind of 'band-aid' that does not really work to resolve the Schrodinger's Cat and Wigner's Friend of paradoxes. The transactional picture, by way of its natural non-unitarity (collapse under well-quantified circumstances), resolves this problem and allows room for consciousness to play a role as the acausal/volitional influence that corresponds to efficacy (Kastner 2016). My version of TI, however, is ontologically different from Cramer’s and it also is fully relativistic (Kastner 2021a,b). For specifics on why many recent antirealist claims about the world as alleged implications of Wigner's Friend are not sustainable, see Kastner (2021c). In particular, standard decoherence does not yield measurement outcomes, so one really needs real non-unitarity in order to have correspondence with experience. I have also shown that the standard QM formulation, lacking real non-unitarity, is subject to fatal inconsistencies (Kastner 2019, 2021d). These inconsistencies appear to infect Everettian approaches as well.

 

Kastner (2011) explains the arrow of time as a foundational quantum symmetry-breaking:

 

Since the direction of positive energy transfer dictates the direction of change (the emitter loses energy and the absorber gains energy), and time is precisely the domain of change (or at least the construct we use to record our experience of change), it is the broken symmetry with respect to energy propagation that establishes the directionality or anisotropy of time. The reason for the arrow of timeis that the symmetry of physical law must be broken: the actual breaks the symmetry of the potential. It is often viewed as a mystery that there are irreversible physical processes and that radiation diverges toward the future. The view presented herein is that, on the contrary, it would be more surprising if physical processes were reversible, because along with that reversibility we would have time-symmetric (isotropic) processes, which would fail to transfer energy, preclude change, and therefore render the whole notion of time meaningless.

 

Kastner (2012, 2014b) sets out the basis for extending the possibilist transactional interpretation or PTI, to the relativistic domain in RTI.
 
This modified version proposes that offer and confirmation waves (OW and CW) exist in a sub-empirical, pre-spacetime realm (PST) of possibilities, and that it is actualised transactions which establish empirical spatiotemporal events. PTI proposes a growing universe picture, in which actualised transactions are the processes by which spacetime events are created from a substratum of quantum possibilities. The latter are taken as the entities described by quantum states (and their advanced confirmations); and, at a subtler relativistic level, the virtual quanta. PTI proposes a growing universe picture, in which actualised transactions are the processes by which spacetime events are created from a substratum of quantum possibilities.

 

The basic idea is that offers and confirmations are spontaneously elevated forms of virtual quanta, where the probability of elevation is given by the decay rate for the process in question. In the direct action picture of PTI, an excited atom decays because one of the virtual photon exchanges ongoing between the excited electron and an external absorber (e.g. electron in a ground state atom) is spontaneously transformed into a photon offer wave that generates a confirming response. The probability for this occurrence is the product of the QED coupling constant α and the associated transition probability. In quantum field theory terms, the offer wave corresponds to a free photonor excited state of the field, instantiating a Fock space state (Kastner 2014b).

 

In contrast, with standard QFT where the amplitudes over all interactions are added and then squared under the Born rule, according to PTI , the absorption of the offer wave generates a confirmation (the response of the absorber), an advanced field. This field can be consistently reinterpreted as a retarded field from the vantage point of an observercomposed of positive energy and experiencing events in a forward temporal direction. The product of the offer (represented by the amplitude) and the confirmation (represented by the amplitudes complex conjugate) corresponds to the Born Rule.

 

Kastner (2014a, 2021c,d) deconstructs decoherence as well as quantum Darwinism, refuting claims that the emergence of classicality proceeds in an observer-independent manner in a unitary-only dynamics, noting that quantum Darwinism holds that the emergence of classicality is not dependent on any inputs from observers, but that it is the classical experiences of those observers that the decoherence program seeks to explain from first principles:

 

“in the Everettian picture, everything is always coherently entangled, so pure states must be viewed as a fiction -- but that means that it is also fiction that the putative 'environmental systems' are all randomly phased. In helping themselves to this phase randomness, Everettian decoherentists have effectively assumed what they are trying to prove: macroscopic classicality only emergesin this picture because a classical, non-quantum-correlated environment was illegitimately put in by hand from the beginning. Without that unjustified presupposition, there would be no vanishing of the off-diagonal terms”

 

She extends this to an uncanny observation concerning the Everett view:

 

"That is, MWI does not explain why Schrodingers Cat is to be viewed as ‘alive’ in one world and deadin another, as opposed to alive + deadin one world and alive deadin the other.”

 

Kastner (2016a) notes that the symmetry-breaking of the advanced waves provides an alternative explanation to von Neumann’s citing of the consciousness of the observer in quantum measurement:

 

Von Neumann noted that this Process 1 transformation is acausal, nonunitary, and irreversible, yet he was unable to explain it in physical terms. He himself spoke of this transition as dependent on an observing consciousness. However, one need not view the measurement process as observer-dependent. … The process of collapse precipitated in this way by incipient transactions [competing probability projection operator weightings of the] absorber response(s) can be understood as a form of spontaneous symmetry breaking.

 

Kastner & Cramer (2018) confirm this picture:

 

And since not all competing possibilities can be actualized, symmetry must be broken at the spacetime level of actualized events. The latter is the physical correlate of non-unitary quantum state reduction.

 

However, in Kastner (2016b), Ruth considers observer participation as integral, rejecting two specific critiques of libertarian, agent-causal free will: (i) that it must be anomic or antiscientific; and (ii) that it must be causally detached from the choosing agent. She asserts that notwithstanding the Born rule, quantum theory may constitute precisely the sort of theory required for a nomic grounding of libertarian free will.

 

Ruth cites Freeman Dyson’s comment rejecting epiphenomenalism:

 

I think our consciousness is not just a passive epiphenomenon carried along by the chemical events in our brains, but is an active agent forcing the molecular complexes to make choices between one quantum state and another. In other words, mind is already inherent in every electron, and the processes of human consciousness differ only in degree but not in kind from the processes of choice between quantum states which we call chancewhen they are made by electrons.

 

Kastner then proposes, not just a panpsychic quantum reality but a pan-volitional basis for it:

 

Considering the elementary constituents of matter as imbued with even the minutest propensity for volition would, at least in principle, allow the possibility of a natural emergence of increasingly efficacious agent volition as the organisms composed by them became more complex, culminating in a human being. And allowing for volitional causal agency to enter, in principle, at the quantum level would resolve a very puzzling aspect of the indeterminacy of the quantum lawsthe seeming violation of Curies Principle in which an outcome occurs for no reason at all. This suggests that, rather than bearing against free will, the quantum laws could be the ideal nomic setting for agent-causal free will.

 

Kastner, Kauffman & Epperson (2018) formalise the relationship between potentialities and actualities into a modification of Descartes res cogitans (purely mental substance) and res extensa (material substance) to res potentiae and res extensa comprising the potential and actual aspects of ontological reality. Unlike Cartesian dualism these are not separable or distinct but are manifest in all situations where the potential becomes actual, particularly in the process of quantum measurement in PTI,  citing (McMullin 1984) on the limits of imagination of the res potentiae:

 

… imaginability must not be made the test for ontology. The realist claim is that the scientist is discovering the structures of the world; it is not required in addition that these structures be imaginable in the categories of the macroworld.

 

They justify this by noting that human evolutionary survival has depended on dealing with the actual, so the potential may not be imaginable in our conscious frame of reference, however one can note that the strong current of animism in human cultural history suggests a strong degree of focus on the potential, and its capacity to become actual in hidden unpredictable sources of accident or misfortune. In addition to just such unexpected real world examples, they they note the applicability of this to a multiplicity of quantum phenomena:

 

Thus, we propose that quantum mechanics evinces a reality that entails both actualities (res extensa) and potentia (res potentia), wherein the latter are as ontologically significant as the former, and not merely an epistemic abstraction as in classical mechanics. On this proposal, quantum mechanics IS about what exists in the world; but what exists comprises both possibles and actuals. Thus, while John Bells insistence on beablesas opposed to just observablesconstituted a laudable return to realism about quantum theory in the face of growing instrumentalism, he too fell into the default actualism assumption; i.e., he assumed that to ‘be’ meant to be actual,so that his beableswere assumed to be actual but unknown hidden variables.

 

What the EPR experiments reveal is that while there is, indeed, no measurable nonlocal, efficient causal influence between A and B, there is a measurable, nonlocal probability conditionalization between A and B that always takes the form of an asymmetrical internal relation. For example, given the outcome at A, the outcome at B is internally related to that outcome. This is manifest as a probability conditionalization of the potential outcomes at B by the actual outcome at A.

 

Nonlocal correlations such as those of the EPR entanglement experiment below can thus be understood as a natural, mutually constrained relationship between the kinds of spacetime actualities that can result from a given possibility – which itself is not a spacetime entity. She quotes Anton Zellinger (2016):

 

..it appears that on the level of measurements of properties of members of an entangled ensemble, quantum physics is oblivious to space and time .  

 

Kastner (2021b), considers how the spacetime manifold emerges from a quantum substratum through the transactional process (fig 24(6)), in which spacetime events and their connections are established. The usual notion of a background spacetime is replaced by the quantum substratum, comprising quantum systems with non-vanishing rest mass, corresponding to internal periodicities that function as internal clocks defining proper times and in turn, inertial frames that are not themselves aspects of the spacetime manifold.

 

Three years after John Cramer published the transactional interpretation, I wrote a highly speculative paper, “Dual-time Supercausality (King 1989), based on John’s description which says many of the same things emergent in Ruth Kastner’s far more comprehensive development. Summing up the main conclusions we have:

 

(1) Symmetric-Time: This mode of action of time involves a mutual space-time relationship between emitter and absorber. Symmetric-time determines which, out of the ensemble of possibilities predicted by the probability interpretation of quantum mechanics is the actual one chosen. Such a description forms a type of hidden-variable theory explaining the selection of unique reduction events from the probability distribution. We will call this bi-directional causality transcausality.

(2) Directed-time: Real quantum interaction is dominated by retarded-time, positive-energy particles. The selection of temporal direction is a consequence of symmetry-breaking, resulting from energy polarization, rather than time being an independent parameter. The causal effects of multi-particle ensembles result from this dominance of retarded radiation, as an aspect of symmetry-breaking.

 

Dual-time is thus a theory of the interaction of two temporal modes, one time-symmetric which selects unique events from ensembles, and the other time-directed which governs the consistent retarded action of the ensembles. These are not contradictory. Each on their own form an incomplete description. Temporal causality is the macroscopic approximation of this dual theory under the correspondence principle. The probability interpretation governs the incompleteness of directed-causality to specify unique evolution in terms of initial conditions.

 

Quantum-consciousness has two complementary attributes, sentience and intent:

(a) Sentience represents the capacity to utilise the information in the advanced absorber waves and is implicitly transcausal in its basis. Because the advanced components of symmetric-time cannot be causally defined in terms of directed-time, sentience is complementary to physically-defined constraints.

(b) Intent represents the capacity to determine a unique outcome from the collection of such absorber waves, and represents the selection of one of many potential histories. Intent addresses the two issues of free-will and the principle of choice in one answer – free-will necessarily involves the capacity to select one out of many contingent histories and the principle of choice manifests the essential nature of free-will at the physical level.

 

A key point here is that subjective conscious volition needs to have an anticipatory property, or it will be neutral to natural selection, even if we do have free will, and would not have been selected for, all the way from founding eucaryotes to Homo sapiens. The transactional interpretation, by involving future absorbers in the collapse process, provides just such an anticipatory feature, except that we still don’t have a complete model of how the potentiae of all handshaking emitter-absorber pairs can collapse into a single real exchange.

 

There are two parts to this question (1) How does a symmetry breaking go from all absorbers to one e.g. in a one emitter context? and (2) How does it guarantee to conform to the Born asymptote?

 

It is one thing to have free will and its another to use free will on the basis of (conscious) quantum prediction, or anticipation which is what absorbers are providing in their confirmation waves. Our consciousness is striving to be predictive to the extent that it is subject to flash-lag illusions (Eagleman & Sejnowski 2000), so the question is pivotal. Predicting the future is key to how we evolved as conscious organisms, and its pivotal over short immediate time scales, like the snake’s or tiger’s strike we survive. Anticipating reality in the present is precisely what subjective consciousness is here to do.

 

The hardest problem of consciousness is thus that, to be conserved by natural selection, consciousness (a) has to be volitional i.e. affect the world physically to result in natural selection and (b) it has to be predictive as well. Free-will without predictivity is neutral to evolution, just like random behaviour and it will not be selected for. If we are dealing with classical reality, we could claim this is merely a computational requirement, but why then do we have subjective experience at all? Why not just recursive predictive attention schemas with no subjectivity?

 

When we turn to the role of consciousness in quantum uncertainty, this comes back to not just opening the box of Schrödinger’s cat, but to predicting, or anticipating the uncertain cat’s fate more often than not in real life situations. Thats where the transactional approach comes in, because the absorbers are all in an emitters future so there is a musical chairs dance happening in the future. And those candidates may also be absorbers of other emitters and so on, so one cant determine the ultimate boundary conditions of this problem. Somehow the collapse, which we admit violates retarded causality, results in one future choice. This means that there is no prohibition on this being resolved by the future affecting the outcome because the actual choice has no relation to classical causality. The reason for the Born asymptote could be that the symmetry-breaking transaction, like entanglement, involves everything there is – the ultimate pseudo-random optimisation process concealing a predictive hidden variable theory!

 

Schreiber (1995) sums up the case for consciousness collapsing the wave function as follows:

 

“The rules of quantum mechanics are correct but there is only one system which may be treated with quantum mechanics, namely the entire material world. There exist external observers which cannot be treated within quantum mechanics, namely human (and perhaps animal) minds, which perform measurements on the brain causing wave function collapse.”

 

Henry Stapp’s (2001) comment is very pertinent to the cosmology I am propounding, because it implies the place where collapse occurs lies in the brain making quantum measurements of its own internal states:

 

From the point of view of the mathematics of quantum theory it makes no sense to treat a measuring device as intrinsically different from the collection of atomic constituents that make it up. A device is just another part of the physical universe... Moreover, the conscious thoughts of a human observer ought to be causally connected most directly and immediately to what is happening in his brain, not to what is happening out at some measuring device... Our bodies and brains thus become ... parts of the quantum mechanically described physical universe. Treating the entire physical universe in this unified way provides a conceptually simple and logically coherent theoretical foundation...

 

Quantum entanglement is another area where consciousness may have a critical role. Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen (1935) proposed a locally causal limitation on any hidden variable theories describing the situation when two particles were entangled coherently in a single wave function. For example an excited  calcium atom, because of the two electrons in its outer shell, can emit two (yellow and blue) photons of complementary spin in a single transition from zero to zero spin outer shells. Bell’s (1966) theorem demonstrated a discrepancy between locally-causal theories, in which information between hidden sub-quantum variables could not be transferred faster than light. However, multiple experiments using Bell’s theorem have found the polarisations, or other quantum states of the particles, such as spin, are correlated in ways violating local causality which are not limited by the velocity of light (Aspect et al. 1982). This “spooky action at a distance” which Einstein disliked shows that the state of either particle remains indeterminate until we measure one of them, when the other’s state is the instantaneously determined to be complementary. This cannot however be used to send logical classical information faster than light, or backwards in time, but it indicates that the quantum universe is a highly entangled system in which potentially all particles in existence are involved.

 

In an experiment to test the influence of conscious perception on quantum entanglement (Radin, Bancel  & Delorme 2021), explored psychophysical (mind-matter) interactions with quantum entangled photons. Entanglement correlation strength measured in real-time was presented via a graph or dynamic images displayed on a computer monitor or web browser. Participants were tasked with mentally influencing that metric, with particularly strong results observed in three studies conducted at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (p < 0.0002).

 

Summing up the position of physicists in a survey of participants in a foundations of quantum mechanics gathering, Schlosshauer et al. (2013) found that, while only 6% of physicists present believed consciousness plays a distinguished physical role, a majority believed it has a fundamental, although not distinguished role in the application of the formalism. They noted in particular that “It is remarkable that more than 60% of respondents appear to believe that the observer is not a complex quantum system.” Indeed on all counts queried there were wide differences of opinion, including which version of quantum mechanics they supported. Since all of the approaches are currently consistent with the predictions of quantum mechanics, these ambiguous figures are not entirely surprising.

 

The tendency towards an implicitly classical view of causality is similar to that among neuroscientists, with an added belief in the irreducible nature of randomness, as opposed to a need for hidden variables supporting quantum entanglement, rejecting Einstein’s disclaimer God does not play dice with the universe.” Belief in irreducible randomness means that the principal evidence for subjectivity in quanta – the idiosyncratic unpredictable nature of individual particle trajectories – is washed out in the bath water of irreducible randomness, converging to the wave amplitude on repetition, consistent with the correspondence principle, that the behaviour of systems described by the theory of quantum mechanics reproduces classical physics in the limit of large quantum numbers.

 

In Born’s (1920) correspondence principle, systems described by quantum mechanics are believed to reproduce classical physics in the limit of large quantum numbers – if measurements performed on macroscopic systems have limited resolution and cannot resolve individual microscopic particles, then the results behave classically – the coarse-graining principle (Kofler & Brukner 2007).  Subsequently Navascués & Wunderlich (2010) proved that in situations covered by IID (independent and identically distributed measurements) in which each run of an experiment must be repeated under exactly the same conditions and independently of other runs, we arrive at macroscopic locality. Similarly, temporal quantum correlations reduce to classical correlations and quantum contextuality reduces to macroscopic non-contextuality (Henson & Sainz 2015).

 

However Gallego & Dakić (2021) have shown that, surprisingly, quantum correlations survive in the macroscopic limit if correlations are not IID distributed at the level of microscopic constituents and that the entire mathematical structure of quantum theory, including the superposition principle is preserved in the limit. This macroscopic quantum behavior allows them to show that Bell nonlocality is visible in the macroscopic limit.

 

The IID assumption is not natural when dealing with a large number of microscopic systems. Small quantum particles interact strongly and quantum correlations and entanglement are distributed everywhere. Given such a scenario, we revised existing calculations and were able to find complete quantum behavior at the macroscopic scale. This is completely against the correspondence principle, and the transition to classicality does not take place” (Borivoje Dakić).

 

It is amazing to have quantum rules at the macroscopic scale. We just have to measure fluctuations, deviations from expected values, and we will see quantum phenomena in macroscopic systems. I believe this opens the door to new experiments and applications” (Miguel Gallego).

 

This means that in (a) neural system processing, where the quantum unstable context is continually evolving as a result of edge-of-chaos processing, and so no repeated measurements are made and (b) biological evolution, where a sequence of unique mutations become sequentially fixed by natural and sexual selection, which is consciously mediated in eucaryote organisms, both inherit implicit quantum non-locality in their evolution.

 

Hameroff and Penrose (2014) have also proposed a controversial theory that consciousness originates at the quantum level inside neurons, rather than the conventional view that it is a product of connections between neurons, coupling orchestrated objective reduction (OOR) to hypothetical quantum cellular automata in the microtubules of neurons. The theory is regarded as implausible by critics, both physicists and neuroscientists who consider it to be a poor model of brain physiology on multiple grounds.

 

Orchestration refers to the hypothetical process by which microtubule-associated proteins, influence or orchestrate qubit state reduction by modifying the spacetime-separation of their superimposed states. The latter is based on Penrose's objective-collapse theory for interpreting quantum mechanics, which postulates the existence of an objective threshold governing the collapse of quantum-states, related to the difference of the spacetime curvature of these states in the universe's fine-scale structure. He suggested that at the Planck scale, curved spacetime is not continuous, but discrete and that each separated quantum superposition has its own piece of spacetime curvature, a blister in spacetime. Penrose suggests that gravity exerts a force on these spacetime blisters, which become unstable above the Planck scale of and collapse to just one of the possible states. Atomic-level superpositions would require 10 million years to reach OR threshold, while an isolated 1 kilogram object would reach OR threshold in 10−37s. Objects somewhere between these two scales could collapse on a timescale relevant to neural processing. An essential feature of Penrose's theory is that the choice of states when objective reduction occurs is selected neither randomly, nor algorithmically. Rather, states are selected by a "non-computable" influence embedded in the Planck scale of spacetime geometry, which in "The Emperor's New Mind" he associated with conscious human reasoning.

 

The tubulin protein dimers of the microtubules have hydrophobic pockets that may contain delocalised π electrons. Hameroff claims that this is close enough for the tubulin π electrons to become quantum entangled. This would leave these quantum computations isolated inside neurons. Hameroff then proposed, although this idea was rejected by Reimers (2009),  that coherent Frolich condensates in microtubules in one neuron can link with microtubule condensates in other neurons and glial cells via the gap junctions of electrical synapses claiming these are sufficiently small for quantum tunnelling across, allowing them to extend across a large area of the brain. He further postulated that the action of this large-scale quantum activity is the source of 40 Hz gamma waves, building upon the theory that gap junctions are related to the gamma oscillation.

 

However none of these processes have been empirically verified and the complex tunnelling invoked is far from being a plausible neurophysiological process. Two experiments (Lewton 2022, Tangerman 2022), presented at The Tucson Science of Consciousness conference merely showed that anaesthetics hastened delayed luminescence and that under laser excitation prolonged excitation diffused through microtubules further than expected when not under anaesthetics. There is no direct evidence for the cellular automata proposed and microtubules are critically involved in neuronal architecture, and are also involved in molecular transport, so functional conflict would result from adding another competing function.

 

Fig 25: An axon terminal releases neurotransmitters through a synapse and
are received by microtubules in a neuron's dendritic spine.

 

OOR would force collapse, but it remains unestablished how conscious volition is invoked, because collapse is occurring objectively in terms of Penrose’s notion of space-time blisters. It remains unclear how these hypothetical objective or “platonic” entities, as Penrose puts it, relate to subjective consciousness or volition. Hameroff (2012) in “How quantum brain biology can rescue conscious free will” attempts an explanation, but this simply comes down to objective OOR control:

 

Orch OR directly addresses conscious causal agency. Each reduction/conscious moment selects particular microtubule

states which regulate neuronal firings, and thus control conscious behavior. Regarding consciousness occurring too late,quantum state reductions seem to involve temporal non-locality, able to refer quantum information both forward and backward in what we perceive as time, enabling real-time conscious causal action. Quantum brain biology and Orch OR can thus rescue free will.

 

For this reason Symbiotic Existential Cosmology remains agnostic about such attempts to invoke unestablished, exotic quantum effects, and instead points to the non-IID nature of brain processes generally, meaning that neurodynamics is a fractal quantum process not required to be adiabatically isolated as decoherence limits of technological quantum computing suggest.

 

Earlier John Eccles proposed a brain mind identity theory involving psychon quasi-particles mediating uncertainty of  synaptic transmission to complementary dendrons cylindrical bundles of neurons arranged vertically in the six outer layers or laminae of the cortex. Eccles proposed that each of the 40 million dendrons is linked with a mental unit, or "psychon", representing a unitary conscious experience. In willed actions and thought, psychons act on dendrons and, for a moment, increase the probability of the firing of selected neurons through quantum tunnelling effect in synaptic exocytosis, while in perception the reverse process takes place. This model has been elaborated by a number of researchers (Eccles 1990, 1994, Beck & Eccles 1992, Georgiev 2002, Hari 2008). The difficulty with the theory is that the psychons are then physical quasi-particles with integrative mental properties. So it’s a contradictory description that doesn’t manifest subjectivity except by its integrative physical properties.

 

The Neuroscience Perspective

 

Complementing this description of the quantum world at large is the actual physics of how the brain processes information. By contrast with a digital computer, the brain uses both pulse coded action potentials and continuous gradients in an adaptive parallel network. Conscious states tend to be distinguished from subconscious processing by virtue of coherent phase fronts of the brain’s wave excitations. Phase coherence of beats between wave functions fig 23(c), is also the basis of quantum uncertainty.

 

In addition, the brain uses edge-of-chaos dynamics, involving the butterfly effect arbitrary sensitivity to small fluctuations in bounding conditions – and the creation of strange attractors to modulate wave processing, so that the dynamics doesn’t become locked into a given ordered state and can thus explore the phase space of possibilities, before making a transition to a more ordered state representing the perceived solution. Self-organised criticality is also a feature, as is neuronal threshold tuning. Feedback between the phase of brain waves on the cortex and the discrete action potentials of individual pyramidal calls, in which the phase is used to determine the timing of action potentials, creates a feedback between the continuous and discrete aspects of neuronal excitation. These processes, in combination, may effectively invoke a state where the brain is operating as an edge-of-chaos quantum computer by making internal quantum measurements of its own unstable dynamical evolution, as cortical wave excitons, complemented by discrete action potentials at the axonal level.

 

Chaotic sensitivity, combined with related phenomena such as stochastic resonance, mean that fractal scale-traversing handshaking can occur between critically poised global brain states, neurons at threshold, ion-channels and the quantum scale, in which quantum entanglement of excitons can occur (King 2014). At the same time these processes underpin why there is ample room in physical brain processing for quantum uncertainty to become a significant factor in unstable brain dynamics, fulfilling Eccles (1986) notion that this can explain a role for consciousness, without violating any classically causal processes.

 

This means that brain function is an edge-of-chaos quantum dynamical system which, unlike a digital computer, is far from being a causally deterministic process which would physically lock out any role for conscious decision-making, but leaves open a wide scope for quantum uncertainty, consistent with a role for consciousness in tipping critical states. The key to the brain is thus its quantum physics, not just its chemistry and biology. This forms a descriptive overview of possible processes involved rather than an empirical proof, in the face of the failure of promissory materialistic neuroscience (Popper & Eccles 1984) to demonstrate physical causal closure of brain function, so Occams razor cuts in the direction which avoids conflict with empirical experience of conscious volitional efficacy over the physical universe.

 

 

Fig 26: (1) Edge of chaos transitions model of olfaction (Freeman 1991). (2) Stochastic resonance as a hand-shaking process between the ion channel and whole brain states (Liljenström & Svedin 2005). (3) Hippocampal place maps (erdiklab.technion.ac.il). Hippocampal cells have also been shown to activate in response to desired locations in an animals anticipated future they have observed but not visited (Olafsdottir et al. 2015). (4) Illustration of micro-electrode recordings of local wave phase precession (LFP) enabling correct spatial and temporal encoding via discrete action potentials in the hippocampus (Qasim et al. 2021). (5) Living systems are dynamical systems. They show ensembles of eigenbehaviors, which can be seen as unstable dynamical tendencies in the trajectory of the system. Fransisco Varela’s neurophenomenology (Varela 1996, Rudrauf et al. (2003) is a valid attempt to bridge the hard and easy problems, through a biophysics of being, by developing a complementary subjective account of processes corresponding to objective brain processing.  While these efforts help to elucidate the way brain states correspond to subjective experiences, using an understanding of resonant interlocking dynamical systems, they do not of themselves solve the subjective nature of the hard problem. (6) Joachim Keppler's (2018) view of conscious neural processing uses the framework of stochastic electrodynamics (SED), a branch of physics that affords a look behind the uncertainty of quantum field theory (QFT), to derive an explanation of the neural correlates of consciousness, based on the notion that all conceivable shades of phenomenal awareness are woven into the frequency spectrum of a universal background field, called zero-point field (ZPF), implying that the fundamental mechanism underlying conscious systems rests upon the access to information available in the ZPF. This gives an effective interface description of how dynamical brain states correspond to subjective conscious experiences, but like the other dynamical descriptions, does not solve the hard problem itself of why the zero point field becomes subjective.

 

Joachim Keppler (2018, 2021) presents an analysis drawing conscious experiences into the orbit of stochastic electrodynamics (SED) a form of quantum field theory. The SED is based on the conception that the universe is imbued with an all-pervasive electromagnetic background field, the zero-point field (ZPF), which, in its original form, is a homogeneous, isotropic, scale-invariant and maximally disordered ocean of energy with completely uncorrelated field modes and a unique power spectral density. This is basically a stochastic treatment of the uncertainty associated with the quantum vacuum in depictions such as the Feynman approach to quantum electrodynamics (fig 23(e)). In the approach of SED (de la Peña et al. 2020), in which the stochastic aspect corresponds to the effects of the collapse process into the classical limit [28], consciousness is represented by the zero point field (ZPF) (Keppler 2018). This provides a basis to discuss the brain dynamics accompanying conscious states in terms of two hypotheses concerning the zero-point field (ZPF):

 

“The aforementioned characteristics and unique properties of the ZPF make one realize that this field has the potential to provide the universal basis for consciousness from which conscious systems acquire their phenomenal qualities. On this basis, I posit that all conceivable shades of phenomenal awareness are woven into the fabric of the background field. Accordingly, due to its disordered ground state, the ZPF can be looked upon as a formless sea of consciousness that carries an enormous range of potentially available phenomenal nuances. Proceeding from this postulate, the mechanism underlying quantum systems has all the makings of a truly fundamental mechanism behind conscious systems, leading to the assumption that conscious systems extract their phenomenal qualities from the phenomenal color palette immanent in the ZPF. ”

 

His description demonstrates the kind of boundary conditions in brain dynamics likely to correspond to subjective states and thus provides a good insight into the stochastic uncertainties of brain dynamics of conscious states that would correspond to the subjective aspect, and it even claims to envelop all possible modes of qualitative subjectivity in the features of the ZPF underlying uncertainty, But it would remain to be established that the ZPF can accomodate all the qualitative variations spanning the senses of sight, sound and smell, which may rather correspond to the external quantum nature of these senses.

 

The ZPF as a physical manifestation does not itself solve the hard problem as such, however Keppler makes this link clear as well:  A detailed comparison between the findings of SED and the insights of Eastern philosophy reveals not only a striking congruence as far as the basic principles behind matter are concerned. It also gives us the important hint that the ZPF is a promising candidate for the carrier of consciousness, suggesting that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe, that the ZPF is the substrate of consciousness and that our individual consciousness is the result of a dynamic interaction process that causes the realization of ZPF information states. …In that it is ubiquitous and equipped with unique properties, the ZPF has the potential to define a universally standardized substratum for our conscious minds, giving rise to the conjecture that the brain is a complex instrument that filters the varied shades of sensations and emotions selectively out of the all-pervasive field of consciousness, the ZPF (Keppler, 2013).

 

This provides a basis confluent with the description invoked in this article, as does the dissipative quantum model of brain dynamics (Freeman & Vitielo 2007, Sabbadini & Vitielo 2019), which uses the infinite number of ground states in quantum field theory, as opposed to quantum mechanics to thermodynamically model memory states.

 

Johnjoe Mcfadden (2020) likewise has a theory of consciousness associated with the electromagnetic wave properties of the brain's EM field interacting with the matter properties of "unconscious" neuronal processing. In his own words he summarises his theory as follows:

 

I describe the conscious electromagnetic information (cemi) field theory which has proposed that consciousness is physically integrated, and causally active, information encoded in the brain's global electromagnetic (EM) field. I here extend the theory to argue that consciousness implements algorithms in space, rather than time, within the brain's EM field. I describe how the cemi field theory accounts for most observed features of consciousness and describe recent experimental support for the theory. … The cemi field theory differs from some other field theories of consciousness in that it proposes that consciousness — as the brain's EM field — has outputs as well as inputs. In the theory, the brain's endogenous EM field influences brain activity in a feedback loop (note that, despite its 'free' adjective, the cemi field's proposed influence is entirely causal acting on voltage-gated ion channels in neuronal membranes to trigger neural firing.

 

The lack of correlation between complexity of information integration and conscious thought is also apparent in the common-place observation that tasks that must surely require a massive degree of information integration, such as the locomotory actions needed to run across a rugged terrain, may be performed without awareness but simple sensory inputs, such as stubbing your toe, will over-ride your conscious thoughts. The cemi field theory proposes that the non-conscious neural processing involves temporal (computational) integration whereas operations, such as natural language comprehension, require the simultaneous spatial integration provided by the cemi field. … Dehaene (2014) has recently described four key signatures of consciousness: (i) a sudden ignition of parietal and prefrontal circuits; (ii) a slow P3 wave in EEG; (iii) a late and sudden burst of high-frequency oscillations; and (iv) exchange of bidirectional and synchronized messages over long distances in the cortex. It is notable that the only feature common to each of these signatures—aspects of what Dehaene calls a 'global ignition' or 'avalanche'—is large endogenous EM field perturbations in the brain, entirely consistent with the cemi field theory.

 

Summarising the state of play, we have two manifestations of consciousness at the interface with objective physical description, (a) the hard problem of consciousness and (b) the problem of quantum measurement, both of which are in continual debate. Together these provide complementary windows on the abyss in the scientific description and a complete solution of existential cosmology that we shall explore in this article.

 

Challenging the decision-making role of consciousness, Libet (1983, 1989) asked volunteers to flex a finger or wrist. When they did, the movements were preceded by a dip in the brain signals being recorded, called the "readiness potential". He interpreted this RP a few tenths of a second before the volunteers said they had decided to move, as the brain preparing for movement. Libet concluded that unconscious neural processes determine our actions before we are ever aware of making a decision. Since then, others have quoted the experiment as evidence that free will is an illusion.

 

This assumption has been undermined by more recent studies. Instead of letting volunteers decide when to move, Trevena and Miller (2010) asked them to wait for an audio tone before deciding whether to tap a key. If Libet's interpretation were correct, the RP should be greater after the tone when a person chose to tap the key. While there was an RP before volunteers made their decision to move, the signal was the same whether or not they elected to tap. Miller concludes that the RP may merely be a sign that the brain is paying attention and does not indicate that a decision has been made. They also failed to find evidence of subconscious decision-making in a second experiment. This time they asked volunteers to press a key after the tone, but to decide on the spot whether to use their left or right hand. As movement in the right limb is related to the brain signals in the left hemisphere and vice versa, they reasoned that if an unconscious process is driving this decision, where it occurs in the brain should depend on which hand is chosen, but they found no such correlation.

 

Schurger and colleagues (2012) have a key explanation. Previous studies have shown that, when we have to make a decision based on sensory input, assemblies of neurons start accumulating evidence in favour of the various possible outcomes. The team reasoned that a decision is triggered when the evidence favouring one particular outcome becomes strong enough to tip the dynamics – i.e. when the neural noise generated by random or chaotic activity accumulates sufficiently so that its associated assembly of neurons crosses a threshold tipping point. The team repeated Libet's experiment, but this time if, while waiting to act spontaneously, the volunteers heard a click they had to act immediately. The researchers predicted that the fastest response to the click would be seen in those in whom the accumulation of neural noise had neared the threshold - something that would show up in their EEG as a readiness potential. In those with slower responses to the click, the readiness potential was indeed absent in the EEG recordings. "We argue that what looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all. It only looks that way because of the nature of spontaneous brain activity.” Schurger and Uithol (2015) specifically note the evidence of a sensitively dependent butterfly effect (London et al. 2010) as a reason why nervous systems vary their responses on identical stimuli as an explanation for why it could be impossible to set out a deterministic decision making path from contributory systems to a conscious decision, supporting their stochastic accumulator model. Hans Liljenström (2021) using stochastic modelling concludes that if decisions have to be made fast, emotional processes and aspects dominate, while rational processes are more time consuming and may result in a delayed decision.

 

Alexander et al. (2016) establish the lack of linkage of the RP to motor activity:

 

“The results reveal that robust RPs occured in the absence of movement and that motor-related processes did not significantly modulate the RP. This suggests that the RP measured here is unlikely to reflect preconscious motor planning or preparation of an ensuing movement, and instead may reflect decision-related or anticipatory processes that are non-motoric in nature.”

 

Catherine Reason (2016), who presents an intriguing logical proof that computing machines, and by extension physical systems, can never be certain if they possess conscious awareness, undermining the principal of computational equivalence (Wolfram 2002, 2021) and counterintuitively, that this implies that human consciousness is associated with a violation of energy conservation, has another objection to Libet:

 

“even if the readiness potential can be regarded as a predictor of the subjects decision in a classical system, it cannot necessarily be regarded as such in a quantum system. The reason is that the neurological properties underlying the readiness potential may not actually have determinate values until the subject becomes consciously aware of their decision”.

 

In subsequent papers (Reason 2019, Reason & Shah 2021) she expands this argument:

 

I identify a specific operation which is a necessary property of all healthy human conscious individuals — specifically the operation of self-certainty, or the capacity of healthy conscious humans to “know” with certainty that they are conscious. This operation is shown to be inconsistent with the properties possible in any meaningful definition of a physical system.

 

In an earlier paper, using a no-go theorem, it was shown that conscious states cannot be comprised of processes that are physical in nature (Reason, 2019). Combining this result with another unrelated work on causal emergence in physical systems (Hoel, Albantakis and Tononi, 2013), we show in this paper that conscious macrostates are not emergent from physical systems and they also do not supervene on physical microstates.

 

In a counterpoint to this Travers et al. (2020) suggest the RP is associated with learning and thus reflects motor planning or temporal expectation, but neither planning nor expectation inform about the timing of a decision to act:

 

“Participants learned through trial and error when to make a simple action. As participants grew more certain about when to act, and became less variable and stochastic in the timing of their actions, the readiness potential prior to their actions became larger in amplitude. This is consistent with the proposal that the RP reflects motor planning or temporal expectation. … If the RP reflects freedom from external constraint, its amplitude should be greater early in learning, when participants do not yet know the best time to act. Conversely, if the RP reflects planning, it should be greater later on, when participants have learned, and know in advance, the time of action. We found that RP amplitudes grew with learning, suggesting that this neural activity reflects planning and anticipation for the forthcoming action, rather than freedom from external constraint.”

 

Fifel (2018) reviewing the state of the current research described the following picture:

 

Results from Emmons et al. (2017) suggest that such ramping activity en- codes self-monitored time intervals. This hypothesis is particularly pertinent given that self-monitoring of the passing of time by the experimental subjects is intrinsic to the Libet et al. (1983) experiment. Alternatively, although not mutually exclusive, RP might reflect general anticipation (i.e., the conscious experience that an event will soon occur) (Alexander et al., 2016) or simply background neuronal noise (Schurger et al., 2016). Future studies are needed to test these alternatives. … Consequently, we might conclude that: Neuroscience may in no way interfere with our first-person experience of the will, it can in the end only describe it ... it leaves everything as it is.

 

The difficulty of the hard problem, which remains unresolved 26 years later, is also tied to the likewise unresolved problem of assumed causal closure of the brain at the basis of pure materialistic neuroscience. Until it is empirically confirmed it remains simply a matter of opinion that has grown into a belief system academically prejudiced against hypotheses not compliant with the physical materialistic weltanshauung.

 

While some neuroscientists (Johnson 2020) imply the hard problem is not even a scientific question, the neuroscience concept of causal closure (Chalmers 2015) based on classical causality, or quantum correspondence to it, not only remains empirically unverified in the light of Libet, Schurger and others, but it is unclear that a convincing empirical demonstration is even possible, or could be, given the fact that neuronal feedback processes span all scales from the organism to the quantum uncertain realm and the self-organised criticality of brain dynamics. Finally, it is in manifest conflict with all empirical experience of subjective conscious volitional intent universal to sane human beings.

 

As Barnard Baars commented in conversation:

 

I don't think science needs to, or CAN prove causal closure, because what kind of evidence will prove that? We don't know if physics is "causally closed," and at various times distinguished physicists think they know the answer, but then it breaks down. The Bertrand Russell story broke down, and the Hilbert program in math, and ODEs, and the record is not hopeful on final solutions showing a metaphysically closed system .

 

The status of the neuroscience perspective of causal closure has led to an ongoing debate about the efficacy of human volition and the status of free will (Nahamias 2008, Mele, 2014), however Joshua Shepherd (2017) points out, that the neuroscientific threat to free will has not been causally established, particularly in the light of Schurger et al. (2015).

 

For this reason, in treating the hard problem and volitional intent, I will place the onus on proof on materialism to demonstrate itself and in defence of volition have simply outlined notable features of central nervous processing, consistent with an in principle capacity to operate in a quantum-open state of seamless partial causal closure involving subjectively conscious efficacy of volitional will physically in decision-making (in the brain) and behaviour (in the world). From this point of view, efficacy of volition is itself a validated empirical experience which is near universal to sane conscious humans, thus negating causal closure by veridical affirmation in the framework of symbiotic existential cosmology, where empirical experience has equally valid cosmological status to empirical observation.

 

Libet’s experiment purported to demonstrate an inconsistency, by implying the brain had already made a decision before the conscious experience of it, but Trevena and Miller and Schurger’s team have deprecated this imputation.

 

Cartesian Theatres and Virtual Machines

 

Reductionistic descriptions attempting to explain subjective experience objectively frequently display similar pitfalls to creationist descriptions of nature, and those in Biblical Genesis, which project easy, familiar concepts, such as human manufacture breath, or verbal command onto the natural universe. In his reductionist account in “Consciousness Explained” Daniel Dennett (1991) cites his “multiple drafts” model of brain processing, as a case of evolutionary competition among competing neural assemblies, lacking overall coherence, thus bypassing the need for subjective consciousness. This exposes a serious problem of conceptual inadequacy with reductionism. Daniel is here writing his book using the same metaphors as the very activities he happens to be using – the message is thus the medium. He can do this as a subjectively conscious being only by suppressing the significance of virtually every form of coherent conscious experience around him, subjugating virtually all features of his conscious existence operating for 100% of his conscious life, in favour of a sequence of verbal constructs having little more explanatory value than a tautology. This is what I call the psychosis of reductionistic materialism, which is shared by many AI researchers and cognitive scientists.

 

Despite describing the mind as a virtual machine, Dennett & KInsbourne (1995) do concede a conscious mind exists at least as an observer:

 

Wherever there is a conscious mind, there is a point of view. A conscious mind is an observer, who takes in the information that is available at a particular (roughly) continuous sequence of times and places in the universe. ... It is now quite clear that there is no single point in the brain where all information funnels in, and this fact has some far from obvious consequences.

 

But neuroscience has long ceased talking about a single point or single brain locus responsible for consciousness, which is associated with coherent “in phase” activity as a whole. Nevertheless Dennett attempts to mount a lethal attack on any coherent manifestation of subjectivity, asserting there is no single, constitutive "stream of consciousness”:

 

“The alternative, Multiple Drafts model holds that whereas the brain events that discriminate various perceptual contents are distributed in both space and time in the brain, and whereas the temporal properties of these various events are determinate, none of these temporal properties determine subjective order, since there is no single, constitutive "stream of consciousness" but rather a parallel stream of conflicting and continuously revised contents” (Dennett & KInsbourne (1995).

 

“There is no single, definitive "stream of consciousness," because there is no central Headquarters, no Cartesian Theatre where "it all comes together" for the perusal of a Central Meaner. Instead of such a single stream (however wide), there are multiple channels in which specialist circuits try, in parallel pandemoniums, to do their various things, creating Multiple Drafts as they go. Most of these fragmentary drafts of "narrative" play short-lived roles in the modulation of current activity but some get promoted to further functional roles, in swift succession, by the activity of a virtual machine in the brain. The seriality of this machine (its "von Neumannesque" character) is not a "hard-wired" design feature, but rather the upshot of a succession of coalitions of these specialists.” (Dennett 1991)

 

However we know and shall discuss in the context of the default mode network in the context of psychedelics, the balance between top-down processes of control and integration, against just such a flood of competing regional bottom-up excitations, which become more able to enter consciousness, because of lowered barriers under the drug. 

 

Yet the ghost Dennett claims to have crushed just keeps coming back to haunt him:

 

“Cartesian materialism is the view that there is a crucial finish line or boundary somewhere in the brain, marking a place where the order of arrival equals the order of "presentation" in experience because what happens there is what you are conscious of. ... Many theorists would insist that they have explicitly rejected such an obviously bad idea. But ... the persuasive imagery of the Cartesian Theater keeps coming back to haunt us—laypeople and scientists alike—even after its ghostly dualism has been denounced and exorcized.”

 

Fig 27: Baars’ (1997) view of the Cartesian theatre of consciousness has genuine explanatory power about the easy problem of the relation between peripheral unconscious processing and integrated coherent states associated with consciousness.

 

Bernard Baars(1997) global workspace theory, in the form of the actors in the Cartesian theatre of consciousness, is creatively provocative of the psyche, and concedes a central role for consciousness. His approach suggests that consciousness is associated with the whole brain, in integrated coherent activity and is thus a property of the brain as a whole functioning entity, in relation to global workspace, rather than arising from specific subsystems.

 

Furthermore, the approach rather neatly identifies the distinction between unconscious processing and conscious experience, in the spotlight of attention, accepts conscious experience as a central arena consistent with whether a given dynamic is confined to asynchronous regional activity or is part of a coherent global response. But again this description is an imaginative representation of Descarteshomunculus in the guise of a Dionysian dramatic production, so it is also a projection onto subjective consciousness, albeit a more engaging one.

 

Another discovery pertinent here (Fernandino et al. (2022) is that a careful neuroscientific study has found that lexical semantic information can be reliably decoded from a wide range of heteromodal cortical areas in the frontal, parietal, and temporal cortex, but that in most of these areas, they found a striking advantage for experience-based representational structures (i.e., encoding information about sensory-motor, affective, and other features of phenomenal experience), with little evidence for independent taxonomic or distributional organisation. This shows that experience is the foundational basis for conceptual and cognitive thought, giving it a primary status over rational or verbal thought.

 

The traditional view of subjective consciousness stemming from Thomas Huxley is that of epiphenomenalism –  the view that mental events are caused by physical events in the brain, but have no effects upon any physical events. Huxley (1874) held the view, comparing mental events to a steam whistle that contributes nothing to the work of a locomotive. William James (1879), rejected this view, characterising epiphenomenalistsmental events as not affecting the brain activity that produces them any more than a shadow reacts upon the steps of the traveller whom it accompanies – thus turning subjective consciousness from active agency to being a mere passenger. Besides containing the analogy of the steam-whistle Huxley’s essay compares consciousness to the sound of the bell of a clock that has no role in keeping the time, and treats volition simply as a symbol in consciousness of the brain-state cause of an action. Nonefficacious mental events are referred to in this essay as collateral productsof their physical causes.

 

Free will is the notion that we can make real choices which are partially or completely independent of antecedent conditions. Determinism denies this and maintains that causation is operative in all human affairs. Increasingly, scientists argue that their discoveries challenge the existence of free will. Studies indicate that informing people about such discoveries can change the degree to which they believe in free will and subtly alter their behaviour, leading to a social erosion of human agency, personal and ethical responsibility.

 

Philosophical analysis of free will divides into two opposing responses. Incompatibilists claim that free will and determinism cannot coexist. Among incompatibilists, metaphysical libertarians, who number among them Descartes, Bishop Berkeley and Kant, argue that humans have free will, and hence deny the truth of determinism. Libertarianism holds onto a concept of free will that requires the agent to be able to take more than one possible course of action under a given set of circumstances, some arguing that indeterminism helps secure free will, others arguing that free will requires a special causal power, agent-causation. Instead, compatibilists argue that free and responsible agency requires the capacities involved in self-reflection and practical deliberation; free will is the ability to make choices based on reasons, along with the opportunity to exercise this ability without undue constraints (Nadelhoffer et al. 2014). This can make rational acts or decisions compatible with determinism.

 

Our concern here is thus not with responsible agency, which may or may not be compatible with determinism, but affirming the existence of agency not causally determined by physical processes in the brain. Epiphenomenalists accept that subjective consciousness exists, as an internal model of reality constructed by the brain to give a global description of the coherent brain processes involved in perception attention and cognition, but deny the volitional will over our actions that is central to both reasoned and creative physical actions. This invokes a serious doubt that materialistic neuroscience can be in any way consistent with any form of consciously conceived ethics, because invoking moral or ethical reasoning is reduced to forms of aversive conditioning, consistent with behaviouralism, and Pavlov’s dogs, subjectively rationalised by the subject as a reason. This places volition as being a delusion driven by evolutionary compensation to mask the futility of any subjective belief in organismic agency over the world.

 

Defending subjective volitional agency thus depends centrally on the innovative ability of the subjective conscious agent to generate actions which lie outside the constraints of determined antecedents, placing a key emphasis on creativity and idiosyncracy, amid physical uncertainty, rather than cognitive rationality, as reasons are themselves subject to antecedents.

 

Reductionist approaches are epitomised by Gilbert Ryle’s (1949) claim in “The Concept of Mind” that "mind" is "a philosophical illusion hailing from René Descartes, and sustained by logical errors and 'category mistakes' which have become habitual. Ryle rejects Descartes' theory of the relation between mind and body, on the grounds that it approaches the investigation of mental processes as if they could be isolated from physical processes. The rationalist theory that there is a transformation into physical acts of some purely mental faculty of "Will" or "Volition" is therefore a misconception because it mistakenly assumes that a mental act could be and is distinct from a physical act, or even that a mental world could be and is distinct from the physical world. This theory of the separability of mind and body is described by Ryle as "the dogma of the ghost in the machine.”

 

Fig 28: Diagram from Descartes' Treatise of Man (1664), showing the formation of inverted retinal images in the eyes, and the transmission of these images, via the nerves so as to form a single, re-inverted image (an idea) on the surface of the pineal gland.

 

Ironically, as a young man, Descartes had had a mystical experience in a sauna on the Danube: three dreams, which he interpreted as a message telling him to come up with a theory of everything and on the strength of this, dedicated his life to philosophy, leading to his iconic quote – Cogito ergo sum “I think therefore I am” – leading to Cartesian dualism, immortalised in the homunculus. This means that, in a sense, the Cartesian heritage of dualism is a genuine visionary attempt on Descartes’ part, to come to terms with his own conscious experience in terms of his cognition, in distinction from the world around him. Once the separation invoked by the term dualism is replaced by complementarity, we arrive at Darwinian panpsychism:

 

Experior, ergo sum, experimur, ergo sumus.

I experience therefore I am, we experience therefore we are!

 

Symbiotic cosmology based on complementary, unlike a dualist one, is coherent. This coherence – forming a complete whole without discrete distinction – is manifestly true in that we can engage either a subjective discourse on our experiences or an objective account of their material circumstances in every situation in waking life, just as the wave and particle aspects of quanta are coherent and cannot be separated, as complementary manifestations. We thus find that the human discourse on our existential condition has two complementary modes, the one fixed in the objective physical description of the world around us using logical and causal operations and the other describing our subjective conscious experiences, as intelligent sensual beings, which are throughout our lives, our sole source of personal knowledge of the physical word around us, without which we would have no access to the universe at large, let alone to our dreams, memories and reflections (Jung 1963), all of which are conscious in nature, and often ascribed to be veridical, rather than imaginary, in the case of dreams and visionary states.

 

In Erwin Schrödinger’s words (1944):  “The world is a construction of our sensations, perceptions, memories. It is convenient to regard it as existing objectively on its own. But it certainly does not become manifest by its mere existence” … “The reason why our sentient, percipient and thinking ego is met nowhere within our scientific world picture can easily be indicated in seven words: Because it is itself that world picture”.

 

A central problem faced by detractors of the role of consciousness in both the contexts of the brain and the quantum universe is that many of the materialist arguments depend on an incorrectly classical view of causality, or causal closure, in the context of brain dynamics, which are fundamentally inconsistent with quantum reality. In the brain context, this is purported to eliminate an adaptive role for consciousness in human and animal survival, reducing it to a form of epiphenomenalism, in which volitional will would be a self-serving delusion. This follows lines of thinking derived from computational ideas that interfering with a computational process would hinder its efficiency.

 

In relation to volitional will, Chalmers & McQueen (2021) note: “There are many aspects to the problem of consciousness, including the core problem of why physical processes should give rise to consciousness at all.  One central aspect of the problem is the consciousness-causation problem: It seems obvious that consciousness plays a causal role, but it is surprisingly hard to make sense of what this role is and how it can be played.

 

The problem with the idea of objective brain processing being causally closed is fivefold. Firstly the key challenges to organismic survival are computationally intractable, open environment problems which may be better served by edge of chaos dynamics than classical computation. Secondly, many problems of survival are not causally closed at all because both evolution and organismic behaviour are creative processes, in which there are many viable outcomes, not just a single logically defined, or optimal one. Thirdly, quantum uncertainty and its deeper manifestations in entanglement, are universal, both in the brain and the environment, so there are copious ways for consciousness to intervene, without disrupting causally deterministic processes, and this appears to be its central cosmological role. Fourthly, the notion runs headlong into contradiction with our everyday experience of volition in which we are consciously aware of our volitional intent and of its affects both in our purposive decision-making and acts affecting the world around us. For causal closure to be true, all our purposive decision upon which we depend for our survival would be a perceptual delusion, contradicting the manifest nature of veridical perception generally.  Fifthly, the work of Libet through to Schurger et al. demonstrates causal closure is unproven and is unlikely to remain so given the edge-of-chaos instability of critical brain processes in decision-making in the quantum universe.

 

Consciousness and Surviving in the Wild

 

Real world survival problems in the open environment don’t necessarily have a causally-closed or even a computationally tractable solution, thus requiring sensitive dependence on the butterfly effect and intuitive choices. Which route should the antelope take to reach the water hole when it comes to the fork in the trail? The shady path where a tiger might lurk, or the savannah where there could be a lion in the long grass? All the agents are conscious sentient beings using innovation and stealth and so the subtlest sensory hints of crisis amid split-second timing is also pivotal. There is thus no tractable solution. Integrated anticipatory intuition, combined with a historical knowledge of the terrain, appears to be the critical survival advantage of sentient consciousness in the prisoners’ dilemma of survival, just as sexuality is, in the Red Queen race (Ridley 1996) between hosts and parasites. This coherent anticipation appears to be the evolutionary basis for the emergence and persistence of subjective consciousness as a quantum-derived form of anticipation of adventitious risks to survival, not the higher cognitive processes of verbal discourse.

 

Michael Graziano’s attention schema theory, or AST, self-described as a mechanistic account of subjective awareness (2016, 2017, Webb & Graziano 2015), which emerged in parallel with my own work (King 2014), gives an account of the evolutionary developments of the animal brain, taking account of the adaptive processes essential for survival to arrive at the kind of brains and conscious awareness we experience:  “We propose that the topdown control of attention is improved when the brain has access to a simplified model of attention itself. The brain therefore constructs a schematic model of the process of attention, the attention schema,in much the same way that it constructs a schematic model of the body, the body schema.The content of this internal model leads a brain to conclude that it has a subjective experiencea non-physical, subjective awareness and assigns a high degree of certainty to that extraordinary claim”.

 

Fig 29: Which route should the antelope take to reach the water hole when it comes to the fork in the trail? The shady path where a tiger might lurk, or the savannah where there could be a lion in the long grass? Real world survival problems require intuitive multi-option decisions, creativity and and often split-second timing requiring anticipatory consciousness. Thus modelling the existence of subjective consciousness or otherwise based only on causal concepts and verbal reasoning processes gives a false evolutionary and cosmological view. Here is where the difference between a conscious organism and an AI robot attempting to functionally emulate it is excruciatingly laid bare in tooth and claw.

 

However, this presents the idea that subjective consciousness and volitional will are a self-fulfilling evolutionary delusion which the author believes could in principle be extended to a machine: “Such a machine would believeit is conscious and act like it is conscious, in the same sense that the human machine believes and acts.  However it remains unclear that a digital computer, or AI process can achieve this with given architectures.  Ricci et al. (2021) note in concluding remarks towards one of the most fundamental and elementary tasks, abstract same-different discrimination: "The aforementioned attention and memory network models are stepping stones towards the flexible relational reasoning that so epitomizes biological intelligence. However, current work falls short of the — in our view, correct — standards for biological intelligence set by experimentalists like Delius (1994) or theorists like Fodor (1988).

 

AST is also a type of filter theory similar to Huxley’s ideas: “Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence.

 

The overall idea of a purely physical internal model of reality representing its own attention process, thus enabling it to observe itself, is an astute necessary condition for the sort of subjective consciousness we find in the spread of metazoa, but it is in no way sufficient to solve the hard problem or address any more than one of the easy problems. However its description, of fundamental changes in overall brain architecture summarised in Graziano (2016) highlights the actual evolutionary forces shaping the development of the conscious mind lie in the paranoia of survival the jungle as noted in fig 29, rather than the verbal contortions of philosophical discourse:

 

 “If the wind rustles the grass and you misinterpret it as a lion, no harm done.
But if you fail to detect an actual lion, youre taken out of the gene pool” (Michael Graziano 2016).

 

However Graziano (2020), in claiming why AST “has to be right”, commits to desubjectifying  consciousness in favour of an AI analysis of recursive attention systems. In relation to the reality of consciousness in his words, the claim that: I have a subjective, conscious experience. Its real; its the feeling that goes along with my brains processing of at least some things. I say I have it and I think I have it because, simply, I do have it. Let us accept its existence and stop quibbling about illusions”, he attempts a structural finesse based on recursive attention:

 

Suppose the brain has a real consciousness. Logically, the reason why we intuit and think and say we have consciousness is not because we actually have it, but must be because of something else; it is because the brain contains information that describes us having it. Moreover, given the limitations on the brains ability to model anything in perfect detail, one must accept that the consciousness we intuit and think and say we have is going to be different from the consciousness that we actually have. . … I will make the strong claim here that this statement the consciousness we think we have is different from, simpler than, and more schematic than, the consciousness we actually have is necessarily correct. Any rational, scientific approach must accept that conclusion. The bane of consciousness theorizing is the naïve, mistaken conflation of what we actually have with what we think we have. The attention schema theory systematically unpacks the difference between what we actually have and what we think we have. In AST, we really do have a base reality to consciousness: we have attention the ability to focus on external stimuli and on internal constructs, and by focusing, process information in depth and enable a coordinated reaction. We have an ability to grasp something with the power of our biological processor. Attention is physically real. Its a real process in the brain, made out of the interactions of billions of neurons. The brain not only uses attention, but also constructs information about attention a model of attention. The central hypothesis of AST is that, by the time that information about attention reaches the output end of the pathway … , were claim-ing to have a semi-magical essence inside of us conscious awareness. The brain describes attention as a semi-magical essence because the mechanistic details of attention have been stripped out of the description.

 

This is a huge fudge of lateral conspiracy theories that are simply opinions of a hidden underlying information structure, confusing conscious experience itself with the recursive attention structures that any realistic description has to entail to bring physical brain processing into any kind of concordance with experiential reality. His inability to distinguish organismic consciousness from AI is evidenced in Graziano (2017)  where he sets our AST as a basis for biologically realisable artificial intelligence systems.

 

In "Homo Prospectus" (Seligman et al. 2016), which believes that the unrivalled human ability to be guided by imagining alternatives stretching into the future – “prospection” – uniquely describes Homo sapiens, addresses the question of how ordinary conscious experience might relate to the prospective processes that by contrast psychology’s 120-year obsession with memory (the past) and perception (the present) and its absence of serious work on such constructs as expectation, anticipation, and will. Peter Railton cites:

 

Intuition: The moment-to-moment guidance of thought and action is typically intuitive rather than deliberative. Intuitions often come unbidden, and we can seldom explain just where they came from or what their basis might be. They seem to come prior to judgment, and although they often inform judgment, they can also stubbornly refuse to line up with our considered opinions.

Affect: According to the prospection hypothesis, our emotional or affective system is constantly active because we are constantly in the business of evaluating alternatives and selecting among them.

Information: A system of prospective guidance is information-intensive, calling for individuals to attend to many variables and to update their values continuously in response to experience.

 

They also see deliberative cognitive processes as intertwined with and integrated by intuitive processes:

 

One view, which we call the separate processors view, says intuition and deliberation are separate, distinct modes of thought. An opposing view says intuition and deliberation are thoroughly intertwined; deliberation is constructed with intuition as a main ingredient.  On this second view, there aren’t two independent processors. Rather, deliberation depends fundamentally on intuitive affective evaluations.

 

They associate imagination with the wandering mind, which we shall see is identifiable with the default mode network critical in ego dissolution and central to rehearsing survival strategies:

 

Think about what goes consciously through your mind during idle moments. This is mind-wandering, and it is deeply puzzling to theorists. The biggest puzzle is why we do so much of it. One study, which used experience sampling methods with 2,250 adults, found mind-wandering occurred in a remarkable 46.9% of the time points sampled.

 

On free will, the authors dodge the core philosophical debate, assuming that philosophers of all bents do embrace a form of free will, but instead pragmatically introduce the multiple-options question that plagues all environmental survival decisions:

 

We will argue that the distinctive mark of human freedom is latitude. Latitude refers to what agents have when the “size” of their option set is large. For now, we can say an agent has more latitude when the number of distinct options in the option set is larger. A bit later, we will provide a more refined account of how to understand the “size” of an option set.

 

Some anticipatory aspects of our conscious experience of the world make it possible for the brain to sometimes construct a present that has never actually occurred. In the "flash-lag" illusion, a screen displays a rotating disc with an arrow on it, pointing outwards. Next to the disc is a spot of light that is programmed to flash at the exact moment the spinning arrow passes it. Instead, to our experience, the flash lags behind, apparently occurring after the arrow has passed (Westerhoff 2013). One explanation is that our brain extrapolates into the future, making up for visual processing time by predicting where the arrow will be, however, rather than extrapolating into the future, our brain is actually interpolating events in the past, assembling a story of what happened retrospectively, as was shown by a subtle variant of the illusion (Eagleman and Sejnowski 2000).

 

Given the complementary roles of conscious quantum measurement and edge-of-chaos coherence dynamics, far from being an ephemeral state of a biological organisms brain dynamics that is irrelevant to the universe at large, the symbiotic cosmology asserts that consciousness has a foundational role in existential cosmology, complementary to the entire phenomenon of the physical universe. The conscious brain may also literally be a/the most complex functional system in the universe, so manifests emergent properties undeveloped in other physical processes. This is not dualistic, but an extension of quantum wave-particle complementarity to a larger complementarity, in which mind is complementary to the universe as a whole. It is thus non-local in a more complete way than the quantum wave aspect is in complementation to the localised particle aspect.

 

Panpsychism and its Critics

 

This perspective naturally leads towards panpsychism, the idea that the fundamental constituents of the universe –i.e. quanta – have both a subjective existence and objective behaviour, just as they have both a wave and particle aspect physically. We can't see this subjective existence or "isness" directly, just as we have difficulty seeing one another's consciousness directly, so objective behaviour becomes the default core description. However we know that the quantum wave function shapes where each particle ends up in a way which remains unpredictable for a single quantum and only becomes determined in the average, in terms of the probability (amplitude squared) of the wave function.  This individual idiosyncrasy of a single quantum, when viewed as a particle within its wave function could be interpreted as its free will, as its location in the probability space modulated by the wave function amplitude is completely arbitrary and unbiased, just as it is able to have a determined position in the pilot wave theory if the Feynman implications of particle creation and annihilation are ignored. Likewise one could interpret its consciousness as its integrated “awareness” of the universal quantum entanglement through its wave function. One could thus conclude that the consciousness of the observer is apperceptive of the free-will of the quantum particle, since we are not asserting that the observer is applying their will to determine that Schrödinger's cat is alive or dead, but simply that our subjective consciousness is perceiving it to be in one of the two states. In either case we are dealing with what appears to be subjectively conscious observation of a quantum displaying psychic behaviour exerting an equivalent of volitional will masked by irreducible randomness.

 

Panpsychism doesn’t just apply to any physical object such as a spoon (Goff 2019, Seth 2021a), where there is no manifest form of active behaviour one can associate with the object. It can be associated with single quanta, where idiosyncratic quantum uncertain behaviour is manifest. Panpsychism might also be associated with other adventitious quantum events such as evolutionary mutation, and might also become manifest in edge of chaos quantum processes in the open environment where chaos can lead to further entanglements (Chaudhury et al. 2009, Steck 2009), which are not subject to the suppression of chaos noted in closed quantum systems. Evolution is particularly sensitive because adventitious mutations form a chain of idiosyncratic single collapses in sequence, in which no convergence to the probability interpretation actually takes place.

 

To generate a succinct account of the emergence of subjective consciousness from quantum panpsychism, we thus have a sequence, individual quanta, edge-of-chaos and self-organised criticality with quantum sensitivity due to the butterfly effect, biogenesis, prokaryotes,  and eucaryote cells and organisms. I shall associate consciousness as such only with a discrete transition to coherent excitability of single cells with the eucaryote endosymbiosis and the evolution of this into the coordinated excitability of organismic nervous systems, in a clear-cut biological model of subjective consciousness. This dispatches Seth’s “combination problem” – how to combine small conscious entities such as quanta into larger ones, mischaracterised as a problem of panpsychism’s own making, because the types of coordination are a product of physical dynamical processes with respect to which the subjective conscious aspect is complementary.

 

Anil Seth, in “Being You” (2021b) provides a provocative account of the “exhilarating new science of consciousness”.

 

When asked if we will ever fully understand consciousness, and if we do what will that mean for our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world, he says:

 

 “It’s a very good question, but it’s a hypothetical situation. The reason I am hesitating is that some people who are new to the idea of scientifically explaining conscious feel threatened by it. … This attitude is especially true when you come to topics such as free will. People say “But no, I decided what I want to do”, thus claiming this is a residue of the age-old belief in human exceptionalism that we are at the centre of the universe and distinct from all the other creatures. “Having got rid of those exceptionalist ideas, I think that the picture of the universe is infinitely richer, more beautiful, more rewarding. ” (Dixon 2022).

 

However this is incorrect, as  Darwin’s view was that free will spanned the metazoans “down to the polype”. There is thus simply no connection between human exceptionalism and free will and it leads to an incorrect claim that a true understanding of consciousness suggests that free will is an illusion. He nevertheless has an insightful view of the evolutionary basis of consciousness within nature with which I agree:

 

We're going through this transition where we will begin to understand consciousness as part of the wider tapestry of nature. "Now that is threatening if you're still hanging on to your experience of being you as something apart from nature, separate from it. But I. think that's exactly the way Copernicus and Darwin were ultimately incredibly enriching. It will be and it already is incredibly enriching to understand consciousness within the wider patterns of the universe and the natural world (Dixon 2022).

 

But Copernicus is here conflated with Darwin when the extended view of subjective consciousness as a privileged view appears to be cosmologically accurate as a climax conscious phenomenon providing precisely this privileged view and what he is saying is that the analytical view of objective science has revealed nature’s true and confounding detail to the exclusion of subjective experience. While it may be true of religious cosmologies such as the Sabbatical Creation and Heaven and Hell, this view of the exclusive primacy of objective empiricism is fundamentally incorrect.

 

Seth cites Thomas Nagel as a basis for his naturalistic materialism, who in "What's it like to be a Bat" (1974) contended that while humans could never experience what a bat experiences, there would nevertheless be something it was like for the bat to be a bat, thus invoking subjective phenomenology as part of the discourse on consciousness.

 

However in this he cites the brain as a “complex prediction machine rather than a mere computer”. This is insightful because it recognises the key function of consciousness shared by all animals to predict existential threats and sources of opportunistic hunting, feeding and sex through environmental prediction which is an established neurophysiological fact. But it is still exploring animal conscious as an implicitly mechanistic phenomenon, which he extends to three key areas: Levels of consciousness, the content of consciousness and the self.

 

This then tallies with his research approach, to set aside the hard problem of why subjective consciousness exists at all, if a prediction machine can do it well or better, to the easier problems relating brain functionality to states of mind through experimental neuroscience. According to his “real problem of consciousness” the primary goals of consciousness science are to explain, predict and control the phenomenological properties of conscious experience. In short, addressing the real problem requires explaining why why a particular pattern of brain activity, or other physical process, maps to a particular kind of conscious experience, not merely establishing that it does.

 

This is something well established in neuroscience, as much of the research on psychedelic states reviewed in this work attests for one of the most complex and difficult of these states to assess. However, correspondence between brain states and conscious states do not explain whether the brain states cause the conscious states and in particular do not come anywhere close to empirically concluding that conscious volition, or free will, are merely subjective delusions of causal function of a prediction machine.

 

This approach leads to a series of mantras such as “I predict therefore I am”, implying that conscious mental states are just controlled hallucinations to predict circumstances and are thus not real and that the self is just a construct having no intrinsic of even volitional meaning or value. Yes we know conscious experience is also an internal model of reality constructed by the brain to make sense of the world, but it is although an evolved model, a superbly veridical model enhancing reality, which outside is an indecipherable flux of photons, atoms, electrons and other quanta having no phenomenal characteristics apart from mass, wavelength and/or position and energy and/or time.

 

These hallucinogenic conclusions simply don’t follow and stylistically devalue veridical experience and create a mystique of consciousness research as successfully unravelling the subjective foundations of our existential condition in favour of an occluded, albeit sophisticated mechanism. In the absence of solving the hard problem, this is a dangerous appeal to  promissory materialism which diminishes and invalidates the human experience of natural reality, we depend on to survive as a species.

 

Seth (2021a), in critiquing panpsychism, advances the case that the success of materialistic science is based on explanation, prediction, and control (EPC), the criteria by which many scientific enterprises are assessed, thus reducing biological 'vitalism' in a demystifying dissolution into molecular biology. Goff  has countered that some scientific advances such as Darwin's theory of evolution “emerged from a dramatic insight, rather than incremental dissolution”. But the objection to EPC is fundamental, because, at the very climax of biology, neuroscience has currently no idea of how to solve the hard problem or how the easy problems might be combined to evoke consciousness either. Goff argues that quantitative science does not capture qualitative properties characteristic of subjective qualia. The intrinsic difficulty with Seth’s "real" problem of consciousness – how to distinguish different types of qualia e.g. red and blue sneakers, is that it completely fails to address the root question of subjectivity, which is by nature entirely different from the localisable, analysable, distinguishable and separable properties of objective reality and arises in both quantum observation in physics and the hard problem in neuroscience in complementary ways.

 

But Seth’s final criticism is that “Worst of all for panpsychism is that it is not itself testable, and that it does not lead to testable predictions”. The problem is not about testability as such but how to make a test in a subjective regime that is by definition not objectively observable by others except by their demeanour and behaviour. This claim shows an inability to determine appropriate criteria for subjective testability. Legal decisions do not just depend on circumstantial (physical) evidence, but on sworn conscious testimony of a veridical nature. While this may be difficult for a single photon because it can only report from its behavioural trajectory, it is certainly possible and accepted scientifically at the high end of the scale in human subjective reports, each of which counts as a statistically verifiable data point. However the details of just what the ultimate nature of conscious experience is in the cosmology of mental states illustrated in fig 39 is as yet uncharacterised, not least due to legislation against psychedelics.

 

This problem is significant. Albert (1992 82-3) in the context of quantum measurement, cites the objection to consciousness collapsing the wave function from imprecision about what consciousness actually is:How the physical state of a certain system evolves (on this proposal) depends on whether or not that system is conscious; and so in order to know precisely how things physically behave, we need to know precisely what is conscious and what isn’t.

 

Fig 30: Wheeler (1983) delayed choice experiment shows that different forms of measurement after light from a distant quasar has been gravitationally lensed around an intervening galaxy can be determined to have passed one or the other way around it or a superposition of both, depending on whether detection of one or other particle, or an interference is made when it reaches Earth.

 

We have also discovered that quantum entanglement between particles is both critical and universal to how the universe works.  In special relativistic quantum theories, wave functions are coupled in both directions in time, with advanced and retarded solutions providing handshaking between future absorbers and past emitters (King 1989). This is evidenced in the Wheeler delayed choice experiment, confirmed by communication between satellites in Earth orbit (Vedovato et al. 2017). Multi-particle entanglement is just the tip of the iceberg, because even in a one quantum wave function, the particle can be detected only once in its wave function whether it occurs at earlier or later times, so collapse of the wave function has to occur simultaneously throughout past and future space-time.

 

In a trend that indicates just how inscrutable the “well” of quantum entanglement between two quantum systems can be, a paper on quantum complexity theory (Ji et al. 2020) shows that it is impossible to calculate the amount of correlation that two quantum systems can display across space when entangled (Castelvecchi 2020). The work concerns a game-theory problem, with a team of two players who are able to coordinate their actions through quantum entanglement, even though they are not allowed to talk to each other. This allows both players to ‘win’ much more often than they would without quantum entanglement. But the paper concludes that it is intrinsically impossible for the two players to calculate an optimal strategy. This implies that it is impossible to calculate how much coordination they could theoretically achieve. Thus there is no algorithm that is going to tell you what is the maximal violation you can get in quantum mechanics.

 

Consciousness as Integrated Information

 

Fig 31: variations in recursive connectivity result in varying Φ.

 

Tonioni and Koch’s (2015, Tononi et al. 2016) integrated information theory IIT, suggests a similar classification to the dynamical classification above running through states of limited human consciousness such as ketamine anaesthesia down to cephalopods and then Siri, thus invoking AI as putatively conscious if it has the right integrative algorithms. IIT constructs its model by starting from experience itself, establishing its classification via five phenomenological axioms: intrinsic existence, composition, information, integration and exclusion. It predicts that consciousness is graded, is common among biological organisms and can occur in some very simple systems. It will thus discount purely computational AI systems as non-conscious and makes a similar set of distinctions to those in the symbiotic cosmology. However, despite being based on characteristics of conscious behaviour, IIT becomes an abstract study of discrete probabilistic Markov systems, rather than subjectivity itself.

 

However the ground of the theory is probabilistic information, as indicated by its axiomatic definitions: Mechanism – Any subset of elements within a system that has causeeffect power on it (that is, that constrains its causeeffect space). Causeeffect repertoire – The probability distribution of potential past and future states of a system that is specified by a mechanism in its current state. Causeeffect space – A space with each axis representing the probability of each possible past and future state of a system. Causeeffect structure – The set of causeeffect repertoires specified by all the mechanisms of a system in its current state. Integrated information (Φ): Information that is specified by a system that is irreducible to that specified by its parts. It is calculated as the distance between the conceptual structure specified by the intact system and that specified by its minimum information partition.

 

Yaden et al. (2021) point out some of the problems with this kind of model in the context of psychedelics: “Although it would be interesting to investigate how psychedelic states relate to Φ, it is not clear how this would improve our understanding of the hard problem of consciousness.”  They note, for example, that relatively simple digital logic gates (e.g., XOR gate), which intuitively seem non-conscious, can generate large amounts of Φ (Cerullo, 2015) stating “It is also not clear that the assertion of complexity itself being a measure of consciousness is tenable.” This is a natural critique of the IIT model in that despite being an attempt to reason in the subjective sole basis being stochastic information cannot solve the hard problem.

 

Fig 32: IIT sets out five axioms attempting to produce the principles of how an informational system needs to operate to model what we know of organismic conscious experience. This does make a structural analysis consistent with prominent features of conscious experience as an integrated phenomenon. It is tolerant for example of octopus consciousness. However it’s analysis is based on abstract causal systems which are required to be composed of hierarchies of interacting subsets in a cause-effect repertoire. This effectively creates the same combinations problem associated with attempts to structure panpsychism in the abstract form of Markov systems. This makes such abstract systems subject to the same criticism that the hard problem has with all objective descriptions being categorically incapable of subjectivity.

 

Bayne and Carter (2018) also critique the model, in dealing with whether conscious states can be assigned levels, exemplified by the idea that psychedelics induce a “higher” state of consciousness. “Advocates of IIT are explicitly committed to the unidimensional view of conscious states, for they equate a creatures conscious state with its level of consciousness, and degrees of consciousness, according to IIT, are in turn understood in terms of the amount of integrated information Φ. The considerations advanced in this paper raise questions about the plausibility of this view, for we have seen that global states cannot be ordered along a single dimension.

 

The only dominant theory we have of consciousness says that it is associated with complexity — with a systems ability to act upon its own state and determine its own fate. Theory states that it could go down to very simple systems. In principle, some purely physical systems that are not biological or organic may also be conscious” (Chris Koch).

 

Is Consciousness just Free Energy on Markov Landscapes?

 

Solms and Friston (2018) have proposed a model of consciousness, again based on abstract stochastic processes. A Markov blanket (Kirchov et al. 2018) defines the boundaries of a system (e.g. a cell or a multi-cellular organism) in a statistical sense in a way that can be used to define homeostatic and adaptive processes and can be recursive as in a multicellular organism. It is a statistical partitioning of a system into internal states and external states, where the blanket itself consists of the states that separate the two, constituting a statistical boundary that sets something apart from that which it is not. This shows that internal and external states are conditionally independent, as they can only influence one another via active and sensory states. The states that constitute the Markov blanket can be further partitioned into active and sensory states.

 

They use both subjectiveand objectiveto refer to observational perspectives, so subjective is not really subjective, but internal observation. The subjective perspective “upon” the organism realises the “being” of the organism which they call interoceptive. The objective perspective realises the “body” of the organism they call exteroceptive’. They take an admittedly metaphysical position that neither of these observable realisations can be explained away by the other, which is fine. In other words, data about an organism that is derived from both interoceptive and exteroceptive perspectives must be reducible to one and the same set of explanations. This places each in their own parallel causal train except that an assumption is made of an underlying unity from which these both derive:

 

The starting point of my argument raises an interesting philosophical question. If body and mind are two appearances (aspects) of the same underlying thing, then what stuff is the underlying thing made of? In other words, using the analogy of thunder and lightning, what is the metapsychological equivalent of electricity(i.e., the thing that gives rise to thunder and lightning, both)?

 

We come to the devastating abstract crunch – “Therefore, biological explanations (as opposed to descriptions) are best formulated in neither interoceptive nor exteroceptive phenomenal terms, but rather as abstractions.  This is converting the central complementarity of subjective consciousness and objective brain into other complementarities of a different sort interoceptive v exteroceptive observation or perception and ascending neural pathways v cortical connections, neither of which are consistent with the original and fundamental subject-object complementarity at the heart of cosmology.

 

Fig 33: Solms-Friston model and Markov blankets. Predictive coding formulates free energy or surprise in terms of precision weighted prediction errors. A prediction error (e) here is the difference between a sensation (φ) produced by some action (M) and the sensation predicted by a generative model ψ(Q). Here, Q stands for internal expectations about or representations of hidden external states and Ψ(Q) is the prediction of sensory inputs that would have been encountered given those external states, under the generative model. Under some simplifying assumptions, we can now associate free energy (F) with the amount of prediction error weighted by its precision (ω). Precision corresponds to the reliability, or inverse variance, of sensory fluctuations (in various modalities) and is an important aspect of inference; namely, the representation of uncertainty.

 

Their central claim is that their combined insights invoking this entirely abstract stochastic process yields a straightforward response to Chalmersquestionwhy is there something it is like to be an organism, for the organism, and how does this something-it-is-like-ness come about? “. These two insights are: (1) that the primary function of consciousness is not to register states of the external world but rather to register the internal states of the experiencing subject and (2) concerns minimal conditions – a fundamental property of living things (i.e., biological self-organising systems) is their tendency to resist the second law of thermodynamics and that this functional property

emerges naturally within any ergodic random dynamical system that possesses a Markov blanket.

 

The first is not based in philosophy but on anatomical and physiological evidence, which suggests that consciousness is “quintessentially” interoceptive. Their argument goes as follows: conscious qualia arise primarily not from exteroceptive perception (i.e., vision, hearing, somatic sensation, taste and smell), and still less from reflective awareness of such representations, but rather from the endogenous arousal processes that activate them.

Exteroceptive representations are intrinsically unconscious – they do not inherently possess something-it-is-like-ness. They only acquire conscious quality when they are, in Chalmers words, “entertainedby the subject; i.e., when they are selectively activated by a more fundamental form of consciousness. In short, mental images can only be experienced by a conscious subject and they are in fact states of the conscious subject. The arousal processes that produce what is conventionally called wakefulness, in our view, therefore, constitute the experiencing subject they are consciousness itself – explicitly the arousal functions of the centrencephalic structures that sustain wakefulness and behavioural responsivity which in turn supply the conscious character of some higher cortical functions. The latter perceptual and cognitive functions (which are otherwise typically unconscious) derive their consciousness absolutely from the centrencephalic region.

 

This is fine as a description of the relationship between ascending pathways such as the reticular activating system, and underscores the relationship between thalamic circuits as drivers of activity and cortical circuits as responsive constraints, however identifying consciousness itself with the ascending pathways is not accurate physiologically in terms of active CNS dynamics, as exemplified in the EEG, where we see cortical states active as a whole associated with conscious experiences, with the ascending pathways just providing as in their thermodynamic model a free-energy substrate.

 

In the Solms-Friston model, autonomous systems, including nervous systems are modelled in terms of predictive coding, which formulates free energy or surprise in terms of precision weighted prediction errors. Hey state specifically that the model although claiming to solve the hard problem is following the  “Helmholtz school of medicine, whose members swore an oath in 1842 to the effect that no forces other than the common physical chemical ones are at work in the organism. In the model, precision corresponds to the reliability, or inverse variance, of sensory fluctuations and is an important aspect of inference in the representation of uncertainty. Precision is the confidence placed in the (predicted) consequences of an action or in a source of sensory evidence. In the ideal adaptive state of the organism where negentropic demand is met by optimal predictions – Nirvana – there are no prediction errors and the expected free energy is absolutely minimised homeostasis with no uncertainty or entropy and infinite precision. They claim this scheme, with recurrent exchanges of (ascending) prediction errors and (descending) predictions closely resembles empirical message passing in cortical and subcortical hierarchies.  In this context, action reduces to proprioceptive (motor) and interoceptive (autonomic) reflexes that are driven by descending predictions from the brains (hierarchical) generative model. Precision controls the influence of prediction errors on action and perception.

 

They then note that physiologically, precision is usually associated with the postsynaptic gain of cortical neuronal populations reporting prediction errors, associated through free energy minimisation with selective arousal or attentional selection. They then claim it is precisely this neuromodulatory synaptic mechanism that is targeted by psychotropic and psychedelic drugs on the basis of Nour and Carhart-Harris (2017).

 

The picture is actually much more complicated. Both psychedelics and other agents, from dissociatives to stimulants such as amphetamines, have differing and varied affects on attention. While psychedelics are associated with both a drop in the default mode network and sensory overload from upwelling activity, this isn’t easily analysed as simply prediction errors, nor an overall change in thermodynamic free energy minimisation. It is also manifestly inconsistent to associate surprise and uncertainty only with its suppression. Cultural expressions from music to scientific discoveries are all intimately associated with both uncertainty and surprise.

 

The approach of minimising surprise, while it does tally with avoidance of primary existential threats is not solved by homeostasis, but by self organised criticality at the edge of chaos, and there is no empirical basis to define neural processes as stochastic Baysean networks per se. Hence like IIT, this model is analogical and not causal.

 

Solms (2019) makes his homeostatic direction explicitly clear, citing personal experience dealing with subjects who have severe hydrocephalus and little cortical tissue, although some with seemingly empty cortices have small regions of cortical tissue having far more intense activity than normal:

 

I first expressed the view in 1997 that the problem of consciousness will only be solved if we reduce its psychological and physiological manifestations to a single underlying abstraction. It took me many years to realize that this abstraction revolves around the dynamics of free energy and uncertainty. Free energy minimization is the basic function of homeostasis, a function that is performed by the same brainstem nuclei that I was led to infer – like others, on independent (clinico-anatomical) grounds – were centrally implicated in the generation of consciousness. In other words, the functions of homeostasis and consciousness are realized physiologically in the very same part of the brain. This insight led to the collaborative work that enabled Friston and me to expand the variational free energy formulation of the mechanism of homeostasis to explain the mainspring of consciousness itself.

 

This viewpoint focuses on feeling, which is then identified with consciousness as a whole:

 

The function of experience cannot be inferred from perception and memory, but it can be inferred from feeling. There is not necessarily something it is liketo perceive and to learn, but who ever heard of an unconscious feeling—a feeling that you cannot feel?

This opens up a discussion of the fact that the reticular activating system coupled with the limbic system which is para-cortical in curcuiting through the amygdala, hippocampus and cingulate is the seat of consciousness as volitional affect (emotion):

 

Consciousness persists in the absence of cerebral cortex, as does volitional behaviour. As Damasio and Carvalho (2013) put it:

 

Decorticated mammals exhibit a remarkable persistence of coherent, goal-oriented behavior that is consistent with feelings and consciousness. Consciousness is obliterated by focal lesions of the brainstem core – in a region conventionally described as the extended reticulothalamic activating system (ERTAS). … If core brainstem consciousness is the primary type, then consciousness is fundamentally affective. The arousal processes that produce what is conventionally called wakefulnessconstitute the experiencing subject. In other words, the experiencing subject is constituted by affect. … Although many cognitive scientists still must be weaned of the view that the cerebral cortex is the seat of consciousness the weight of evidence for the alternative view that the arousal processes generated in the upper brainstem and limbic system feel like something in and of themselves, is now overwhelming.

 

While these physiological details are important and correct, there are two critical flaws:

(1) Although the cortex may be electro-dynamically passive on its own and the mid-brain may have strategically excitable properties consistent with intentional awareness, to claim consciousness is only root brain stem afferent activation trivialises its nature and complexity, when all the elaborate details of the conscious experiences we have are clearly derived through the modulation of the cortex under the active excitation of the thalamo-cortical loop.

(2) David Chalmers’ philosophical description of subjectivity, as a fully conscious intact human would experience it “feel like something in themselves” is a misconstruction. Chalmers is carefully stating what is is like to actually experience consciousness subjectively, not what observation of afferent pathways is associated with, in terms of anatomical dissection of function.

 

This equating of feeling with consciousness runs into all sorts of problems by disabling some key aspects of conscious experience in favour of others, not just in waking life but also in alternative mental states. Someone driving a car may or may not be centred on their feelings some of the time, or be experiencing intense emotions likely to cause an accident, but for most people, driving is a conscious sensory-motor experience. One of the most outstanding features of psychedelic visions is kaleidoscopic imagery, which one both experiences as real veridical perceptions “out there” and a suppression of egotistical emotions leading to quiescent feelings amid overwhelming perceptual, sounds, scenes and geometrical patterns, which the person intimately experiences as consciousness expansion. The same thing with dreaming states which are often profoundly visual and in which emotions may reach crisis point in perceived existential crises, but in no way is feeling as such ‘felt’ to be the sine qua non of conscious experience. There is also a fundamental basis to the notion that all forms of perception both sensory and  somatosensory are part of the envelope of conscious experience as is volition and the perception of intent. To thus identify the raw free energy of reticular activation as consciousness itself is a sever mischaracterisation.

 

Solms notes that this view is not shared by a long history involving the NCC or neural correlate of consciousness:

 

This assignment that the NCC does not lie in the brain stem, continues to this day. Cricks closest collaborator, Christof Koch, says of the deep brainstem nuclei that they are enablers [of consciousness] but not content- providers”.

 

Markov blankets are then conflated with two central properties accompanying conscious volition – selfhood and intentionality:

 

Readers may have noticed already that the dynamics of a Markov blanket generate two fundamental properties of minds— namely (elemental forms of) selfhood and intentionality. It is true that these dynamics also generate elemental properties of bodies—namely an insulating membrane (the ectoderm of complex organisms, from which the neural plate derives) and adaptive behavior. This is a remarkable fact. It underpins dual-aspect monism.

 

One can understand that selfhood and intentionality are fundamental properties of all autonomous life forms from the first prokaryotes to Homo sapiens, but this doesn’t mean they constitute experiential conscious volition as we know it, or that the neural plate substrates of early development define consciousness although I have shon that serotonin does provide such aa role. However claiming that this stochastic description of (sensory) input and (motor) output solves the hard problem in terms of conscious volition is the most tissue thin analogy conceivable. The critical point remains that a pure abstract system is categorically inconsistent with actual subjectivity, just as objective physical processes are.

 

Can Teleological Thermodynamics Solve the Hard Problem?

 

Terrence Deacon in Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter  sets out a descriptive teleological thermodynamics, which is an extension of Ilya Prigogine's (1984) concept of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics in a three-layered structure of homeo-, morpho- and teleo-dynamics. These three categories actually coincide with (1) inanimate matter, (2) far-from-equilibrium stability structures such as in chemical biogenesis, and (3) living organisms. We are already intimately familiar with each of these, except for some uncertainties about the precise route of biogenesis, so the description is simply a thermodynamic recasting, which is insightful, but not empirically demonstrated in any proof-of-principle examples.

 

Fig 34: Left Nested hierarchy of three emergent levels of dynamics and their emergence from subvenient physical processes. Right Three nested conceptions of information. Shannon information is the most minimal and the most basic. Referential information is emergent (e) from Shannon information, and significant—or useful—information is emergent from referential information.

 

We already know that biological systems consist of fractal layers of organisation arising from the symmetry-breaking of the quantum forces as a consequence of non-linear charge energetics to interactively produce: quarks, hadrons, atomic nuclei, atoms, molecules with increasingly fractal cooperative weak-bonding structures, supra-molecular complexes such as the ribosome, organelles such as the membrane and Golgi apparatus, cells, tissues, organs such as the brain organisms and the biosphere.

 

Teleodynamic work is the production of contragrade teleodynamic processes, that work in opposition to the usual orthograde direction, that in homeo-dynamic systems leads to increasing entropy at equilibrium. An orthograde teleodynamic processes is an end-directed process that will tend to occur spontaneously. By contrast, contragrade change is described as the natural consequence of one orthograde process influencing a different orthograde process — for example, via some intervening medium. This implies that in one sense, all change ultimately originates from spontaneous thermodynamic processes controlled passively by constraints.

 

Yes biogenesis and biological evolution is teleologically directed towards diversity and yes evolution is a process by which adventitious mutation is sequestered in the genome and becomes available as significantly useful information by natural and sexual selection. In this sense “Incomplete Nature” is a self-confessed description of biogenesis, evolution and the constraints on organismic development, rather than mind or consciousness and here it does have descriptive insightfulness. However it is subtly similar in its cognitive respect to Daniel Dennett's multiple evolutionary drafts model now finessed by Terrence into a more concordant and appealing wrapping. In this respect Bernard Baars' description of the Cartesian Theatre of working memory, is surely the most animistic description in neuroscience, has a more appealing rationale because it is so richly populated with conceptual actors having the personae of living agents.

 

Deacon then applies this directly to conscious intentional actions. For illustration, reading exemplifies the logic of teleodynamic work. A passive source of cognitive constraints is potentially provided by the words on a page. A literate person structures their sensory and cognitive habits to reorganise the neural activities constituting thinking. This enables them to do teleodynamic work to shift mental tendencies away from those that are spontaneous (such as daydreaming) to those that are constrained by the text:

 

Although teleodynamic processes are incredibly complex, and an explanation of the structure of teleodynamic work is by far the most elaborate—since it is constituted by special relationships between forms of morphodynamic work—it is also the most familiar. So it may be helpful to first consider the human side of teleodynamic work before delving into the underlying dynamical structure of this process. Teleodynamic work is what we must engage in when trying to make sense of an unclear explanation, or trying to produce an explanation that is unambiguous.

 

In cognitive terms, orthograde teleodynamic processes may be expressed as goal-directed innate adaptive behaviors, spontaneous emotional tendencies, learned unconscious patterns of behavior, stream-of-consciousness word associations, and so forth. In social terms, orthograde teleodynamic processes may be expressed as common cultural narratives for explaining events, habits of communication developed between different groups or classes of individuals, conventionalized patterns of exchange, and so on.

 

Here is where there is a literally scorpion-like sting in the tail of Terrence's very entertaining story round the camp fire, which is the very insight of the utility of the zeros that he astutely notes arise from the hard problem of consciousness and other manifestations of subjectivity, which are rather like Carlos Casteneda's 'holes between the sounds" in "The Teachings of Don Juan", in that they don't appear to arise from the reductionistic physical description.

 

This revolves around his notion of entention:

 

I propose that we use the term ententional as a generic adjective to describe all phenomena that are intrinsically incomplete in the sense of being in relationship to, constituted by, or organized to achieve something non-intrinsic. By combining the prefix en- (for “in” or “within) with the adjectival form meaning something like inclined toward,I hope to signal this deep and typically ignored commonality that exists in all the various phenomena that include within them a fundamental relationship to something absent.

 

Terrence’s story starts out with great hope for conscious existence, invoking the possibility of causal openness:

 

"This opens the door to an emergent capacity to generate ever more complex, unprecedented forms of work, at progressively higher-order levels of dynamics, thereby introducing an essentially open-ended possibility of producing causal consequences that wouldnt tend to arise spontaneously. That is, we can begin to discern a basis for a form of causal openness in the universe."

 

However, by adding in his dynamic interaction between his teleological constraints and physical causality, he introduces a second level of objective causal closure defined by his thermodynamics. Notice that he admits this is a belief, not an empirical fact:

 

"By reframing the problem in these dynamical terms, I believe we will discover that rather than being the ultimate hard problemof philosophy and neuroscience, the subjective features of neural dynamics are the expected consequences of this emergent hierarchy. The so-called mystery of consciousness may thus turn out to be a false dilemma, created by our failure to understand the causal efficacy of emergent constraints."

 

In his closing passages, again stating this is belief rather than an empirical fact, he attempts to nail the coffin of the zero or “absence” of the hard problem to it's ultimate RIP:

 

"I believe that human subjectivity has turned out not to be the ultimate hard problemof science. Or rather, it turns out to have been hard for unexpected reasons. It was not hard because we lacked sufficiently complex research instruments, nor because the details of the process were so many and so intricately entangled with one another that our analytic tools could not cope, nor because our brains were inadequate to the task for evolutionary reasons, nor even because the problem is inaccessible using the scientific method. It was hard because it was counterintuitive, and because we have stubbornly insisted on looking for it where it could not be, in the stuff of the world. When viewed through the perspective of the special circular logic of constraint generation that we have called teleodynamics, this problem simply dissolves."

 

He then plays to the darkly shaded tune of these absences, holes or zeros as you prefer:

 

"The subjectivity is not located in what is there, but emerges quite precisely from what is not there. Sentience is negatively embodiedin the constraints emerging from teleodynamic processes, irrespective of their physical embodiment, and therefore does not directly correlate with any of the material substrates constituting those processes. Intrinsically emergent constraints are neither material nor dynamical—they are something missing—and yet as we have seen, they are not mere descriptive attributions of material processes, either. The intentional properties that we attribute to conscious experience are generated by the emergence of these constraints—constraints that emerge from constraints, absences that arise from, and create, new absences. "

 

and in closing states full circle that we are back to a purely objective causality, lacking any need for subjective existence:

 

"But this negative existence, so to speak, of the conscious self doesnt mean that consciousness is in any way ineffable or non-empirical. Indeed, if the account given here is in any way correct, it suggests that consciousness may even be precisely quantifiable and comparable, for example, between states of awareness, between species, and even possibly in non-organic processes, as in social processes or in some future sentient artifact. This is because teleodynamic processes, which provide the locus for sentience in any of its forms, are precisely analyzable processes, with definite measurable properties, in whatever substrates they arise."

 

Here is where the Wikipedia editor’s comment was right:

 

The book expands upon the classical conceptions of work and information in order to give an account of ententionality that is consistent with eliminative materialism and yet does not seek to explain away or pass off as epiphenominal the non-physical properties of life.

 

The difficulty here is that it is both consistent with eliminative materialism and the only sense in which mind is now “not epiphenomenal” is that it has been completely explained away as simply as case of objective thermodynamic teleo-dynamics. This use of entention as a purely mechanical generalisation of intent opens up the floodgates both to any form of AI that adopts the raw form of teleo-dynamics and  directly to the dread of eliminative materialism, by supervening the entire scope of the subjective realm to annihilation in a thermodynamic teleology that in no way captures the true nature of diversity, surprise, creativity or insight, except in the evolutionary model of random accumulation of adventitious and hence "useful" teleological information. Furthermore no such purely thermodynamic reality can in any way manifest itself subjectively, so it is simply a model thought in the mind of the reader, not an actuality manifesting the subjectivity of every conscious living agent, although the teleological thermodynamics of life may be a valid description in statistical mechanics. Deacon’s description thus can be a partial comfort only to dedicated believers in pure materialism.

 

Hence it in no way solves the hard problem any more than any model of brain dynamics does by discovering processes which physically do approach the sorts of unstable sensitivity or other characteristics that do form an objective description confluent with subjectively conscious mental states. In this respect “Incomplete Nature” is simply addressing some of the easy problems around abstract functionality of brain states, in thermodynamic terms, not the hard problem itself.

 

Deacon has claimed that this teleology is so causally complete that it has automatically, in a purely descriptive account, rendered quantum reality irrelevant:

 

"It didnt even require us to invoke any superficially strange and poorly understood quantum effects in our macroscopic explanations in order to account for what prior physical intuition seemed unable to explain about meaning, purpose, or consciousness. ...  More important, the scale at which we do unambiguously recognize ententional properties is vastly larger than the scale of quantum events, and in between there are only thermodynamic and chemical processes.

 

But this claim is self-fulfilling, as it stands precisely alongside the obvious fractal structure of brain tissue that likewise runs dynamically in a hand-shaking interaction between global wave states, cellular action potentials, and ion channels at the quantum level, modulated by edge-of-chaos transitions, and stochastic resonance at the unstable global tipping points when make-or-break situations where survival decisions are made, amid wave coherence sampling which is itself homologous with quantum measurement in the uncertainty principle. This is where we come full circle and have to recognise that, while Terrence did claim that teleological thermodynamics overlays quantum reality, he has in no way established that it has overruled it. Hence we come back to square one. In the evolutionary model, each adventitious mutation is an example of a single unrepeated quantum instance. His very own analogy between evolution and neurodynamics implies that adventitious thought may arise likewise from a single quantum instability induced by an unstable neurodynamical tipping point and we know from recent research that the quantum world approaches the classical only under conditions of IID (independent and identically distributed measurements) as Gallego & Dakić (2021) have shown, which neither evolution nor neurodynamics conform to.

 

In his conclusion, Deacon sets out to claim this gives humanity hope of meaning in existence:

 

“Perhaps the most tragic feature of our age is that just when we have developed a truly universal perspective from which to appreciate the vastness of the cosmos, the causal complexity of material processes, and the chemical machinery of life, we have at the same time conceived the realm of value as radically alienated from this seemingly complete understanding of the fabric of existence. In the natural sciences there appears to be no place for right/wrong, meaningful/meaningless, beauty/ugliness, good/evil, love/hate, and so forth. The success of contemporary science appears to have dethroned the gods and left no foundation upon which unimpeachable values can rest. … As I lamented in the opening chapter of this book, the cost of obtaining this dominance over material nature has had repercussions worldwide. Indeed, I don't think that it is too crazy to imagine that the current crisis of faith and the rise in fundamentalism that seems to be gripping the modern world is in large part a reaction to the unignorable pragmatic success of a vision of reality that has no place for subjectivity or value. The specter of nihilism is, to many, more threatening than death. By rethinking the frame of the natural sciences in a way that has the metaphysical sophistication to integrate the realm of absential phenomena as we experience them, I believe that we can chart an alternative route out of the current existential crisis of the age—a route that neither requires believing in magic nor engaging in the subterfuge of ultimate self-doubt. … If quantum physicists can learn to become comfortable with the material causal consequences of the superposition of alternate, as-yet-unrealized states of matter, it shouldn't be too great a leap to begin to get comfortable with the superposition of the present and the absent in our functions, meanings, experiences, and values.”

 

Fig 35: Title image to “Incomplete Nature” – the complete ablation of the

subjectively conscious volitional mind in favour of thermodynamic abstraction.

My physically casual brain made me do it becomes teleological thermodynamics made me do it.

 

But what Deacon has actually done is to screw down the death grip of true subjectivity even tighter. We end up with the opposite eliminative materialism rejecting the notion of mind and consciousness altogether as an archaic misconception, as Ryle has done, becoming nothing but a gap in the description of reality itself, substituted for by a regime of objective thermodynamics complementing physical materialism.

 

The Crack between Subjective Consciousness and Objective Brain Function

 

In this respect, it is pertinent to quote  Popper and Eccles (1984 96) coining of the phrase “promissory materialism”:

 

the new promissory materialism accepts that, at the present time, materialism is not tenable. But it offers us the promise of a better world, a world in which mental terms will have disappeared from our language, and in which materialism will be victorious. The victory is to come about as follows. With the progress of brain research, the language of the physiologists is likely to penetrate more and more into ordinary language and to change our picture of the universe, including that of common sense. So we shall be talking less and less about experiences, perceptions, thoughts, beliefs, purposes and aims; and more and more about brain processes, about dispositions to behave, and about overt behaviour. In this way, mentalist language will go out of fashion and be used only in historical reports, or metaphorically, or ironically. When this stage has been reached, mentalism will be stone dead, and the problem of mind and its relation to the body will have solved itself.

 

We thus take the obvious foundational realities of existence consciousness & volition upon which we depend for our sanity and survival and turn our empirical experience into a vacuum, ablated in the contrivance that a combination of biological constraints and mechanistic physical laws, which together can be the natural complement of existential consciousness, and instead unravel all the actuality of existence, as a descriptive illusion. We thus tell ourselves an arcane story that existence itself is a just thermodynamic constraint, neutralising our very agency to do anything meaningful, spontaneously imaginative, creatively transformative or merely good as in Bertrand Russell’s dire warning.

 

Conscious: Etym Latin conscius ‘knowing with others or in oneself(from conscire ‘be privy to’) + -ous

 

When we turn to the actual definition of consciousness e.g. in Merriam-Webster we find that essentially ALL the definitions of consciousness are dealing with subjective experience!

 

Definition of consciousness

1a : The quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself.

1b : The state or fact of being conscious of an external object, state, or fact

1c : Awareness especially : concern for some social or political cause:

                  "The organization aims to raise the political consciousness of teenagers."

2 : The state of being characterized by sensation, emotion, volition, and thought : mind.

3 : The totality of conscious states of an individual.

4 : The normal state of conscious life.    “he regained consciousness”.

5 : The upper level of mental life of which the person is aware as contrasted with unconscious processes.

 

Francis Crick and Christof Koch acknowledge in Crick’s words that "Consciousness is the major unsolved problem in biology”, in his foreword to Koch’s (2004) "The Quest for Consciousness”. Koch (2018) in “What Is Consciousness?”, makes clear in his first sentence that: “Consciousness is everything you experience” thus acknowledging that it is the sum total of subjective experience. Koch makes clear in his discussion that their strategy is rather to define the NCC or neural correlates of consciousness, equivalent to the various easy functional problems of consciousness, deferring the hard problem of exactly what subjective consciousness is until these problems are solved, in the hope they will address the elephant in the room. But correlation is NOT causation, so an NCC doesn’t imply the brain is causally closed.

 

Chris Koch (2020) unveils another defence tactic in discussing the status of near death experiences, admitting physical materialism is just an assumption, but claiming it has a-priori evidential weight requiring “extraordinary, compelling objective evidence to the contrary to overrule it based purely on its past successes in science and technology:

 

“I accept the reality of these intensely felt experiences. They are as authentic as any other subjective feeling or perception. As a scientist, however, I operate under the hypothesis that all our thoughts, memories, percepts and experiences are an ineluctable consequence of the natural causal powers of our brain rather than of any supernatural ones. That premise has served science and its handmaiden, technology, extremely well over the past few centuries. Unless there is extraordinary, compelling, objective evidence to the contrary, I see no reason to abandon this assumption.

 

For all Chris’s charming romantic approach to reductionism (Koch 2012) this hypothesis underscores the dishonesty of neuroscientific materialism, that he should feel the need to adopt this position, because it places an illegitimate test on reality. We HAVE to assume causal closure of brain function, because of the historical success of classical deterministic science in other simpler areas, or a completely unestablished admitted assumptionis arbitrarily declared to be true under an impossible burden of proof, to establish the contrary – a specific causal violation, which we know to be concealed in the edge of chaos dynamics correlated with the subjectively conscious condition.

 

How then does neuroscience turn the tables on this central signature of subjective existence, to claim it is exclusively a functional aspect of brain processing, however plausible it might seem, knowing we are biological beings with brains?

 

Gamez (2014) in “The measurement of consciousness: a framework for the scientific study of consciousness” makes this process clear by defining a set of interlocking definitions which a-priori define it to be so:

 

D1. A platinum standard system is a physical system that is assumed to be associated with consciousness some or all of the time.

A1. The normally functioning adult human brain is a platinum standard system.

A2. The consciousness associated with a platinum standard system nomologically supervenes on the platinum standard system. In our current universe physically identical platinum standard systems are associated with identical consciousness.  (X is said to supervene on Y if and only if some difference in Y is necessary for any difference in X to be possible. )

A3. During an experiment on the correlates of consciousness, the consciousness associated with a platinum standard system is functionally connected to its c-reports about consciousness. (subjective reports)

L1. There is a functional connection between consciousness and the [neural]correlates of consciousness.

 

This series of claims is simply defining consciousness to BE integrated brain function by philosophical supervenience, using the easy problems of consciousness based on simple functionality, as shown in fig 36, where the experimental subject has simply become their functional brain!!

 

Fig 36: The subjectively conscious individual is reduced to a set of functional interactions monitored by calibrated instruments (Gamez 2014), in which the case report “I am conscious of a red hat” is reduced to an objective sentence thereby side-stepping the entire subjective nature of consciousness, in this case a-priori, without even citing any kind of brain process to support it.

 

If the brain were simply controlling the process and consciousness was just a marionette being pulled by our brain strings we would experience this as being passive travellers in the passenger seat of intentionality. This is clearly NOT the case, so we need to distinguish brain influence e.g. as a boundary condition shaping, but not fully determining outcomes, from the brain determining conscious states entirely. We need to acknowledge subjective consciousness is the puppet master of edge-of-chaos instability and certainly not conclude that the brain drives the boat of subjective consciousness in a causally determined manner.  This is consistent with the view of the brain as a functional filter on consciousness that is participatory with subjective awareness in shaping the nature of conscious experience.

Note that, by citing psychedelics, I am also invoking a paradoxical objective biochemical role for inducing UNCONSTRAINED subjectivity, so this is a deep cosmological paradox we all need to take careful account of.

 

A Cosmological Comparison with Chalmers’ Conscious Mind

 

In espousing his philosophical view of naturalistic dualism David Chalmers’ central points in “The Conscious Mind” (1996) are as follows:

1. In our world, there are conscious experiences [which are irreducible to physical descriptions because subjectivity is categorically irreducible to any combination of functional inferences about the objective physical universe and/or the brain].

2. There is a logically possible [zombie] world physically identical to ours, in which the positive facts about consciousness in our world do not hold.

3. Therefore, facts about consciousness are further facts about our world, over and above the physical facts.

4. So materialism is false.

Rather than a philosophical view based on astute argument, I will take a complementary view of reality, embracing empirical observation for the objective physical aspect and empirical experience for the subjectively conscious volitional aspect. This means that empiricism carries direct evidential weight over logical discourse while preserving the empirical and theoretical basis of scientific inquiry and the veridical nature of existential experience.

 

In regard to the above, support 1, 4 and 3 (for other reasons), but remain unconvinced about 2. This is because “logically possible” is a philosophical conclusion that lacks an empirical basis in nature. Given a broad acceptance of 1 on the basis that the subjective phenomena are categorically different from any possible explanation in objective terms it remains unclear that a universe without conscious experience can become manifest as all our knowledge of the physical universe is gained through conscious experience of it. Nor is it empirically evident that such a “zombie” universe could display identical properties with living ecosystems if it did, since such a condition is unachievable.

 

David then takes a very cautious view, retreating to the very brink of materialism by asserting that consciousness is naturally supervenient to the physical, although not logically so, noting that this does not invoke Cartesian dualism:

 

So it remains plausible that consciousness supervenes naturally on the physical. It is this view — natural supervenience without logical supervenience — that I will develop.  … The arguments do not lead us to a dualism such as that of Descartes, with a separate realm of mental substance that exerts its own influence on physical processes.

 

David then effectively asserts, and later explicitly assumes causal closure of the physical universe as a justification, on grounds of personal opinion rather than empirical evidence:

 

The best evidence of contemporary science tells us that the physical world is more or less causally closed: for every physical event, there is a physical sufficient cause. If so, there is no room for a mental "ghost in the machine" to do any extra causal work. A small loophole may be opened by the existence of quantum indeterminacy, but I argue later that this probably cannot be exploited to yield a causal role for a nonphysical mind.

 

I reject this point of view, based on the fact that: (1) quantum reality  consists of causal process punctuated by quantum uncertainty and entanglement. (2) This is exacerbated by open system quantum chaos, inducing further entanglements because the kind of edge of chaos phase-coherence processing used by the brain becomes subject to butterfly effect sensitivity at tipping points in conscious processing where critical insights and decisions over uncertain outcomes are resolved. This has also invoked a reappraisal of the exclusiveness of sufficient, rather than final causes, because resolving quantum field problems, e.g. in the Feynman formalism involves implicit information from the future absorbers. Therefore the classical view of efficient causality central to the notion of classical causal closure remains unproven. To wager such a position in advance of scientific verification is a belief not a description of nature.

 

Chalmers describes his position as a form of property dualism:

 

The dualism implied here is instead a kind of property dualism: conscious experience involves properties of an individual that are not entailed by the physical properties of that individual, although they may depend lawfully on those properties. Consciousness is a feature of the world over and above the physical features of the world.

 

The position I am advancing, involving a complementarity between the subjective mind at large and the physical universe could also be described as a form of property dualism, but working in the scientific-existential paradigm, I describe it as asymmetric complementarity, following wave-particle, boson-fermion, and other biological complementarities, such as sperm and ovum. These are not considered to be “property dualistic”, as the complementarity is integral to the natural condition, or cosmological “design” as a whole in the case of cosmological symmetry-breaking.

 

For a design example, the four core quantum forces of nature display a particular type of broken symmetry (fig 23 lower left), which introduces a fractal design into the universe resulting in biological tissues and brains as climax structural outcomes, without assuming any form of teleology – theistic or anthropic.

 

Chalmers then advances the “plausibility” of consciousness nevertheless having an [entirely] physical basis, generated by contingent laws of nature such as the biological functionality of brain processing:

 

It remains plausible, however, that consciousness arises from a physical basis, even though it is not entailed by that basis. The position we are left with is that consciousness arises from a physical substrate in virtue of certain contingent laws of nature, which are not themselves implied by physical laws. This position is implicitly held by many people who think of themselves as materialists. … Some people will think that the view should count as a version of materialism rather than dualism, because it posits such a strong lawful dependence of the phenomenal facts on the physical facts, and because the physical domain remains autonomous.

 

I shall reject this view both on multiple grounds: (1) It remains unestablished that  quantum cosmology is physically autonomous as a whole or that the universe can become manifest without conscious observers. (2) Volitional autonomy is evidential to the conscious subject but no causal physical process such as a machine displays autonomy as such. (3) It results in a contradictory treatment of the subjective realm where Chalmers asserts that consciousness is irreducible but later, as we shall see, claims the phenomenal can be subtracted from volitional causality over the physical, when volition is manifest consciously as well as in behaviour and Chalmers’ arguments fractures the two, rendering the conscious awareness of volition to be a delusion and the physical manifestation in consciously motivated behaviour to have no causal basis. This is the classical materialist trap!

 

On the one hand we have the zombie establishing consciousness phenomena are categorically  independent of the physical and on the other we have a similar argument making them subtractable from the causal, thus invoking a philosophical Catch 22.

 

Chalmers then indicates he will explore new fundamental properties and laws of consciousness, detailed in a major section of his work. Symbiotic existential cosmology solves this problem differently by associating subjective phenomena as complementary manifestations of physically dynamic properties of brain processing rather than parallel laws in their own right. I reserve my position on this claim because it invokes a type of analysis successful in the exploration of the physical world, because fermionic matter is granular because of the Pauli exclusion principle, leading to the fractal material complexity of matter and hence biology. It is unclear such a “subjectively reductionistic” approach can be successful in the subjective realm, as subjectivity is not clearly subdividable in the same way, as is expressed as a noted feature of Eastern philosophy:

 

To bring consciousness within the scope of a fundamental theory, we need to introduce new fundamental properties and laws.

 

Chalmers cites physicist Steven Weinberg looking towards an explanatory chain from fundamental laws:

 

In his book Dreams of a Final Theory (1992), physicist Steven Weinberg notes that what makes a fundamental theory in physics special is that it leads to an explanatory chain all the way up, ultimately explaining everything. But he is forced to concede that such a theory may not explain consciousness. At best, he says, we can explain the "objective correlates" of consciousness. "That may not be an explanation of consciousness, but it will be pretty close"

 

Chalmers then cites two possible outcomes, citing proto-phenomenal properties in passing as a possible option:

 

There are two ways this might go. Perhaps we might take experience itself as a fundamental feature of the world, alongside space-time, spin, charge, and the like. That is, certain phenomenal properties will have to be taken as basic properties. Alternatively, perhaps there is some other class of novel fundamental properties from which phenomenal properties are derived. Previous arguments have shown that these cannot be physical properties, but perhaps they are nonphysical properties of a new variety, on which phenomenal properties are logically supervenient. We could call these properties protophenomenal Most of the time, however, I will speak as if the fundamental properties are themselves phenomenal.

 

This leads to seeking a parallel with the elegance of physical laws. I would question this approach, as the subjective is so fundamentally different from the objective that modelling subjective phenomena on the success of physical laws  invokes a subjective reductionism even if not through proto-phenomenal or proto-panpsychic means:

 

The case of physics tells us that fundamental laws are typically simple and elegant; we should expect the same of the fundamental laws in a theory of consciousness. … To capture the spirit of the view I advocate, I call it naturalistic dualism. It is naturalistic because it posits that everything is a consequence of a network of basic properties and laws, and because it is compatible with all the results of contemporary science.

 

He notes that this could rather be what one might rather call dual-aspect monism, citing matter and energy as alternatives, but not the complementary wave-particle aspects of quanta. This is problematic because matter and energy are not complementary but functionally equivalent, for example in terms of :

 

I should also note that although I call the view a variety of dualism, it is possible that it could turn out to be a kind of monism. Perhaps the physical and the phenomenal will turn out to be two different aspects of a single encompassing kind, in something like the way that matter and energy turn out to be two aspects of a single kind.

 

In dealing with possible objections to his approach, Chalmers cites emergence as a foil while still involving materialism, noting however that it has to exceed the usual limits, for example on biologically emergent properties. I agree with Chalmers on this:

 

Sometimes it is argued that consciousness might be an emergent property, in a sense that is still compatible with materialism. In recent work on complex systems and artificial life, it is often held that emergent properties are unpredictable from low-level properties, but that they are physical all the same. … If consciousness is an emergent property, it is emergent in a much stronger sense. There is a stronger notion of emergence, used by the British emergentists (e.g., Broad [1925]), according to which emergent properties are not even predictable from the entire ensemble of low-level physical facts. It is reasonable to say (as the British emergentists did) that conscious experience is emergent in this sense.

 

I agree with Chalmers rather than his description of Searle’s position although I admire Searle’s work:

 

Like me, Searle (1992) holds that consciousness is merely naturally supervenient on the physical. He allows that a zombie replica is logically possible, holding that consciousness is merely caused by states of the brain. But he denies that this is a variety of dualism, even property dualism. This might seem to be a mere terminological issue, but Searle insists that the ontological status of consciousness is the same as that of physical features such as liquidity, so the issue is not merely terminological.

 

We now come to the crux of the problem – the relationship between subjective conscious experience, volitional will and causal efficacy over the physical world:

 

A problem with the view I have advocated is that if consciousness is merely naturally supervenient on the physical, then it seems to lack causal efficacy. The physical world is more or less causally closed, in that for any given physical event, it seems that there is a physical explanation (modulo a small amount of quantum indeterminacy). This implies that there is no room for a nonphysical consciousness to do any independent causal work. It seems to be a mere epiphenomenon, hanging off the engine of physical causation, but making no difference in the physical world.

 

Chalmers notes two responses to Thomas Huxley’s (1874) coining of the term epiphenomenalism, after observing frogs with cranial ablations still managing to jump out of a pool of water: Huxley (1874) advocated such a view, but many people find it counterintuitive and repugnant.

 

Chalmers’ two grounds – counterintuitive and repugnant are pejorative of conscious experience and fail to invoke the full scope of the grounds for the invalidation of epiphenomenalism. The fact that something is counterintuitive or repugnant obviously doesn’t mean it is not true. Newton’s laws of motion were first seen to be counterintuitive, but are true nevertheless in their domain of application. Likewise disease and death are repugnant but universal realities of existence. But that’s because incorrect criteria are being used. Neither of them carry the force of veridical affirmation from empirical experience of our volitional actions and decisions which are the “critical point”. Epiphenomenalism is invalidated by empirical experience because it fails the mutual affirmation test of subjectively conscious volitional agents. An argument, however astute, doesn’t carry the water of conviction against empirical observation, or experience.

 

It may seem “counterintuitive” or even “pretentiously naive” to trade off mutual affirmation between conscious biological organisms against the assumed physical causality of the entire universe, but this is a valid cosmological position, given the fact that, as far as we know, the physical manifestation of the universe can only be verified by conscious perception of its existence. The alternative to conscious volition is experiential and cosmological catatonia.

 

Chalmers acknowledges the mysterious nature of causation in rejecting claims of a full formal epiphenomenalism citing the possibility of a breakdown in our classical notions of causality:

 

In responding to this, I will pursue a two-pronged strategy. First, it is not obvious that mere natural supervenience must imply epiphenomenalism in the strongest sense. It is clear that the picture it produces looks something like epiphenomenalism. Nevertheless, the very nature of causation itself is quite mysterious, and it is possible that when causation is better understood we will be in a position to understand a subtle way in which conscious experience may be causally relevant. … On the second prong, I will consider the reasons why epiphenomenalism might be found unpalatable, and analyze their force as arguments.

 

In questioning causality Chalmers first cites Humean causation, upon which all it is for A to cause B is for there to be a uniform regularity between events of type A and events of type B, or a slightly more restrictive form in which any nomic (or lawful) connection suffices. Chalmers see these as inadequate and demurs that many conscious individuals will attribute such correlations to be causes when they may not be. He also fairly rejects overdetermination – the notion that both subjective and objective causes can come to bear in parallel on the same effect or behaviour.

 

Chalmers acknowledges that there are two classes of facts that do not supervene logically on particular physical facts: facts about consciousness and facts about causation and that these two may be linked:

 

A third strategy rests with the very nature of causation itself. We saw in Chapter 2 that there are two classes of facts that do not supervene logically on particular physical facts: facts about consciousness and facts about causation. It is natural to speculate that these two failures might be intimately related, and that consciousness and causation have some deep metaphysical tie.

 

A proposal like this has been developed by Rosenberg (1996), who argues that many of the problems of consciousness are precisely paralleled by problems about causation. He argues that because of these parallels, it may be that experience realizes causation, or some aspects of causation, in the actual world. On this view, causation needs to be realized by something in order to support its many properties, and experience is a natural candidate. If this is so, it may be that it is the very existence of experience that allows for causal relations to exist. Of course, this proposal is extremely speculative, and faces some problems. For a start, it seems to lead to a version of panpsychism the view that everything is conscious, which many find counterintuitive.

 

This is an extremely important point because the only evidence we have for classical causality is through our conscious experience of the universe in the affairs of the world around us. The laws of physics, both classical and quantum, contain no arrow of time upon which sufficient causes can be based and our only theoretical evidence for it comes from the stochastically driven second law of thermodynamics, with quantum entanglement having the spooky implications of retrodiction also imputing final causes. It is thus true (1) that the only way the physical universe actually becomes manifest is through our conscious experience of it and (2) that the laws of quantum mechanics lead to superimposed quantum states and the potential for Schrödinger cat paradox multiverses, which our conscious experience may play a key part in resolving. But as Chalmers points out this leads to panpsychism:

 

There is of course the threat of panpsychism. I am not sure that this is such a bad prospect — if phenomenal properties are fundamental, it is natural to suppose that they might be widespread — but it is not a necessary consequence.  … An alternative is that the relevant properties are protophenomenal properties. Either way, this sort of intimate link suggests a kind of causal role for the phenomenal.

 

Nevertheless he concedes that his view of natural supervenience feels epiphenomenalistic. However, he then mounts an attempt to marginalise the consequences:

 

Some people … may be tempted by an interactionist variety of dualism, in which experience fills causal gaps in physical processes. Giving in to this temptation raises more problems than it solves, however. For a start, it requires a hefty bet on the future of physics, one that does not currently seem at all promising; physical events seem inexorably to be explained in terms of other physical events. It also requires a large wager on the future of cognitive science, as it suggests that the usual kinds of physical/functional models will be insufficient to explain behavior. But the deepest problem is that this view may be no better at getting around the problems with epiphenomenalism than the view with causal closure, for reasons I will discuss shortly  [the assumed ability to subtract the phenomenal from the causal].

 

He then mounts a critique of the ability of the quantum universe to alter the classical causality of brain states, on two key fronts (1) quantum uncertainty and (2) collapse of the wave function:

 

(1) The only form of interactionist dualism that has seemed even remotely tenable in the contemporary picture is one that exploits certain properties of quantum mechanics. There are two ways this might go. First, some have appealed to the existence of quantum indeterminacy a nonphysical consciousness might be responsible for filling the resultant causal gaps, determining which values some physical magnitudes might take within an apparently "probabilistic" distribution (e.g., Eccles 1986). Although these decisions would have only a tiny proximate effect, perhaps nonlinear dynamics could amplify these tiny fluctuations into significant macroscopic effects on behavior. … This is an audacious and interesting suggestion, but it has a number of problems. First, the theory contradicts the quantum-mechanical postulate that these microscopic "decisions" are entirely random, and in principle it implies that there should be some detectable pattern to them—a testable hypothesis. Second, in order that this theory allows that consciousness does any interesting causal work, it needs to be the case that the behavior produced by these microscopic decisions is somehow different in kind than that produced by most other sets of decisions that might have been made by a purely random process.

(2) A second way in which quantum mechanics bears on the issue of causal closure lies with the fact that in some interpretations of the quantum formalism, consciousness itself plays a vital causal role, being required to bring about the so-called "collapse of the wave-function." This collapse is supposed to occur upon any act of measurement; and in one interpretation, the only way to distinguish a measurement from a non-measurement is via the presence of consciousness. This theory is certainly not universally accepted (for a start, it presupposes that consciousness is not itself physical, surely contrary to the views of most physicists), and I do not accept it myself, but in any case it seems that the kind of causal work consciousness performs here is quite different from the kind required for consciousness to play a role in directing behavior. It is unclear how a collapse in external perceived objects allows consciousness to affect physical processing within the brain; such theories are usually silent on what happens to the brain during collapse. And even if consciousness somehow manages to collapse the brain state, then all the above remarks about apparently random processes and their connection with behavior still apply.

 

Both these questions are  extensively addressed in this chapter of the monograph. There is no empirical evidence that brain processes are causally closed. Shepherd (2017) points out, that the neuroscientific threat to free will has not been causally established, particularly in the light of Schurger et al. (2012, 2015), also discussed herein. It is illegitimate to assume that any connectedness between subjective and objective in quantum uncertainty would result in gross or even detectable variations from pseudo-randomness, particularly if the relationship is one complementary to the physical universe as a whole. We already know that, in the absence of wave function collapse third party quanta do invoke compounded entanglements. Many such complex interactions, particularly integral transforms, involving a convolution integral of multiple components are likely to induce pseudo-random statistics rather than distortions of the gross statistics. Indeed two entangled particles are able to display correlations violating Bell's inequality while the statistics of each appears random to an observer only measuring one.

 


Fig 37: (a) An illustration of the holographic principle in which physics on the 3D interior of a region, involving gravitational forces represented as strings, is determined by a 2D holographic representation on the boundary in terms of QFT physics of particle interactions. (b) Einstein's field equations can be represented on anti-de Sitter space, a space similar to hyperbolic geometry, where there is an infinite distance from any point to the boundary. Maldacena (1998) discovered a 1-1 correspondence between the gravitational tensor geometry in this space with a conformal quantum field theory like standard particle field theories on the boundary. (c) Entanglement plays a pivotal role because when the entanglement between two regions on the boundary is reduced to zero, the bulk space pinches off and separates into two regions. (d) In an application to cosmology, entanglement on the horizon of black holes may occur if and only if a wormhole in space-time connects their interiors. Einstein and Rosen addressed both worm-holes and the pair-splitting EPR experiment. Juan Maldacena sent colleague Leonard Susskind the cryptic message ER=EPR outlining the root idea that entanglement and worm-holes were different views of the same phenomenon (Maldacena and Susskind 2013). (e) Time may itself be an emergent property of quantum entanglement (Moreva et al. 2013). An external observer (1) sees a fixed correlated state, while an internal observer using one particle of a correlated pair as a clock (2) sees the quantum state evolving through two time measurements using polarization-rotating quartz plates and two beam splitters PBS1 and PBS2.

 

Another example of a many-to-many correspondence is the holographic principle in M-theory or AdS/CFT Correspondence (Maldacena 1998) which gives rise to a duality between a quantum field theory on the boundarysurface enclosing a region of spacetime, and spacetime geometry in the interior “bulk” anti-deSitter space.  This is precisely the duality we see in optical holograms, between the interference fringes on the 2-D hologram and the reconstitutable 3-D image it was derived from, by additive coherent light ray tracing. Attention has been drawn to this duality as an oracle to discuss the assumed “binding problem” of how brain processes generate the coherence of subjective experience (Elliot 2019). This has led to it being applied as an oracle for proposals e.g. about non-physicalist concepts such as panpsychism, involved in Chalmers’ meta problem of consciousness. However, because this is a bijective duality, these tend to be used to reinforce physicalist arguments.  In the author’s view the underlying complementarity supporting conscious subjectivity in the physical universe is not such a bijective duality, as it provides complementary roles for subjective consciousness to seamlessly resolve uncertainties in the unstable dynamics of edge-of-chaos processes in brain dynamics. These complementary inputs to the ongoing physical state through volition interleaving with brains states in the neural correlate of consciousness are not possible in a bijective duality. Also the AdS/CFT Correspondence is a purely objective physical theory that does not directly address the hard problem.

 

Moreover, in regard to the collapse of the wave function, the idiosyncrasy of single quantum instances displays unmitigated liberty, except in the context of repeated measurements of the same kind, in which the probability distribution is normalised by its asymptotic approach to the wave function real power , in which the empirical wave function is an integral representation of entanglement at large. In the biological context no such repeated measurements occur so there is a close correspondence between quantum idiosyncrasy, the unpredictability of brain states at unstable tipping points and the uncertain and unpredictable nature of open environment survival crises. As non-IID (independent and identically distributed measurement) quantum processes do not necessarily converge to the classical, the need to prove the case for subjective interaction is no stronger than the need for materialism to prove its case for causal closure, which remains non-evident empirically.

 

Chalmers then begins to explore the futility of invoking spooky quantum pseudo-particle states or subjective “psychons", as these don't in themselves demonstrate experiential properties:

 

Imagine (with Eccles) that "psychons" in the nonphysical mind push around physical processes in the brain, and that psychons are the seat of experience. We can tell a story about the causal relations between psychons and physical processes, and a story about the causal dynamics among psychons, without ever invoking the fact that psychons have phenomenal properties.

 

This brings us to the nub of Chalmers’ critique, with which I disagree on empirical grounds:

 

Any view that takes consciousness seriously will at least have to face up to a limited form of epiphenomenalism. The very fact that experience can be coherently subtracted from any causal account implies that experience is superfluous in the explanation of behavior, whether or not it has some subtle causal relevance.

 

I see this conclusion as the core of a dilemma all forms of philosophical causal reasoning apply to conscious volition in particular. It is evident that core physical theories defining the laws of nature, from Newton’s laws of motion to cosmological TOEs, or theories of everything, are not explicitly about causality, but the description of nature through symmetries, symmetry-breaking and equational relationships that successfully define characteristics of nature we can empirically observe and confirm, such as the doubling of the bending of light around the Sun due to the Suns gravitational field, confirming Einsteins theory of general relativity.

To make a claim on logical grounds that the subjective “phenomenal” aspect can be subtracted from the causal is not a valid comment about the status of subjective experience but the particular way the philosophical discourse is treating causality. Science is a product of theoretical predictions and confirming empirical observations. Neither is the theory a cause of the observations but a natural description of the circumstances predisposing to them. It is thus empirical observation that is the standard of validating natural science and it is the same standard of empirical experience that defines the natural investigation of the subjective domain. In this regard, the standard is and has to be veridical affirmation by empirical experience, not a logically astute argument to the contrary in defiance of subjective evidence.

 

Chalmers then repeats his mischaracterisation as the common objection:

 

The most common objection to epiphenomenalism is simply that it is counterintuitive or even "repugnant." Finding a conclusion counterintuitive or repugnant is not sufficient reason to reject the conclusion, however, especially if it is the conclusion of a strong argument.

 

In my view this is an incorrect portrayal of the central existentially experienced objection, which is that our conscious existential experience is centrally and unambiguously that of being an intentional agent acting in he physical world to further our physical survival and social success. We do this by a coherent integrated experience of responding to circumstances over which we have partial control, focusing our attention and volitional will of making decisions and carrying out ensuing physical actions with purposive intent, consciously aware of our intentions and the strength of our wilful determination, in exactly the same way we process and pay attention to our sensory experience.

 

We are thus aware and aware that we are aware, and aware that we intend and aware that we are aware that we intend and aware that we are aware that we act wilfully, intentionally and often decisively and tenaciously resist attempts by other agents and the vagaries of the world at large to impede our autonomy as conscious volitional living beings functioning as  physically causal agents. To characterise the inconsistency between this view of organismic conscious existential survival in the natural world as merely because the unverified claim of epiphenomenalism is counterintuitive on the one hand is to attribute it to a failure of astuteness and on the grounds of repugnance on the other hand to a failure of our wishful emotions to recognise the stark limitations of our sense of autonomous survival against the odds. This amounts to a philosophical misrepresentation of the realities.

 

Human perception is described as veridical because it evokes an experience of the world around us that is \ more true to reality than the incoming sensory information. Our perception of our volition is likewise veridical, to give us a truthful expression of the way our conscious attentive will is securing our survival in real time. To concede sensory perception is veridical and to deny it entirely for our perception of our volition is a contradiction – in Gilbert Ryle’s stark terminology – a category error. If epiphenomenalism were actually, in any qualitative, or even quantitative respect true, our veridical perception would inform us that we are mere passengers accompanying our action without any veridical sense of our volition.

 

Chalmers then goes into the counter-objections in detail:

 

More detailed objections to epiphenomenalism fall into three classes: those concerning the relationship of experience to ordinary behavior, those concerning the relationship of experience to judgments about experience, and those concerning the overall picture of the world that it gives rise to.

 

The first is an attempt at finesse. Chalmers demurs on veridical volition because he attributes it to mistaken regularity or an indirect nomic (lawful) connection, ultimately attempting to dispense with it as merely an intuition which cannot have the force of an astute philosophical argument:

 

We are much more directly aware of experience and of behavior than we are of an underlying brain state; upon exposure to systematic regularities between experience and behavior, it is natural that a strong causal connection should be inferred. Even if the connection were only an indirect nomic connection due to relations to the underlying brain state, we would still expect the inference to be made. So this intuition can be explained away. In any case, this sort of objection cannot be fatal to the view, as it is an intuition that does not extend directly into an argument. It is an instance of the merely counterintuitive.

 

The second however he concedes is both worrying and potentially fatal. My position is that it is manifestly fatal, because, Chalmers concedes it is incompatible with our knowledge of experience, as I have already discussed:

 

The second class of objections is more worrying. It seems very strange that our experiences should be irrelevant to the explanation of why we talk about experiences, for instance, or perhaps even to our internal judgments about experiences; this seems much stranger than the mere irrelevance of my pain to the explanation of my hand's withdrawal. … Some claim that this sort of problem is not merely counterintuitive but fatal. For example, it might be claimed that this is incompatible with our knowledge of experience, or with our ability to refer to experiences. I believe that when these arguments are spelled out they do not ultimately gain their conclusion, but these questions are certainly challenging.

 

As noted the basis of my objection is that Chalmers’ resort to the use of astute causal argument, while dismissing veridical awareness of volition in action as intuitive by comparison with robust philosophical argument is fatal because argument is a symbolic expression of a very narrow subset of subjective experience and can’t pretend to account for it as a whole. But the core objection is that this violates the principles of verification by empirical experience that are the foundation of the “scientific” exploration of the subjective.

 

Chalmers is  ever astute and acknowledges that some people, including myself will find his position to be a fatal flaw:

 

I do not describe my view as epiphenomenalism. The question of the causal relevance of experience remains open, and a more detailed theory of both causation and of experience will be required before the issue can be settled. But the view implies at least a weak form of epiphenomenalism.  Some will find that nevertheless the epiphenomenalist nature of this position is a fatal flaw. I have some sympathy with this position, which can be seen as an expression of the paradox of consciousness: when it comes to consciousness, it can seem that all the alternatives are bad. However, I think the problems with all other views are fatal in a much stronger way than the counterintuitiveness of this one.

 

Summarising his position he states his four key assumptions:

 

The argument for my view is an inference from roughly four premises:

1. Conscious experience exists.

2. Conscious experience is not logically supervenient on the physical.

3. If there are phenomena that are not logically supervenient on the physical facts, then materialism is false.

4. The physical domain is causally closed.

 

Chalmers finally states his naturalistic dualism succinctly:

 

Then there is my view, which accepts premises (1), (2), (3), and (4):  vii. Naturalistic dualism. Consciousness supervenes naturally on the physical, without supervening logically or "metaphysically."

 

My position is to deny (4) on the basis of the veridical nature of empirical experience, which is both inconsistent with causal closure of the physical and is the foundational principle of the pursuit of knowledge in the subjective, just as replication by empirical observation is pivotal to objective science. This is so because verification between subjectively conscious agents depends on mutual veridical affirmation of their common status as volitional conscious agents, which is what all sane human beings, not subverted by implicit belief in materialism assert, consistent, as previously noted, with conscious observation of the universe being necessary and integral to the ability to establish and hence manifest its existence.

 

To subsume veridical experience of volition to refutation by philosophical argument, on the basis that phenomena can be subtracted from causality and hence that volition can be discounted as merely “intuition” rather than empirical experience, is as fallacious as attempting to mount a philosophical argument that the the doubling of the bending of light around the Sun due to the Suns gravitational field does not mean that we should accept relativity because the general field equation  is simply a numerical expression describing a functional relationship and not a causal statement, especially having conceded that: “there are two classes of facts that do not supervene logically on particular physical facts:  facts about consciousness and facts about causation”.

 

Fig 38: One of Arthur Eddington's photographs of the 1919 solar eclipse experiment,
confirming relativity presented in his 1920 paper announcing its success
(Dyson, Eddington & Davidson 1920, Earman & Glymour 1980, Coles 2019).

 

And  he has one very astute final observation:

 

There is also an eighth common view, which is generally underspecified:  viii. Don't-have-a-clue materialism."I don't have a clue about consciousness. It seems utterly mysterious to me. But it must be physical, as materialism must be true." Such a view is held widely, but rarely in print (although see Fodor 1992).

 

Ultimately we come back to his persistent, and as detailed in my view, incorrect contention that the phenomenal component can be subtracted from the causal, when the issue is that volition is both experientially phenomenal and physically efficacious as we know experientially, and thus can’t validly be subtracted from the phenomenal aspect:

 

The deepest reason to reject options (iv) and (vi) is that they ultimately suffer from the same problem as a more standard physics: the phenomenal component can be coherently subtracted from the causal component.

 

It should be noted that Chalmers does seriously acknowledge the potential relevance of panpsychism as a possible solution, as I have:

 

Personally, I am much more confident of naturalistic dualism than I am of panpsychism. The latter issue seems to be very much open. But I hope to have said enough to show that we ought to take the possibility of some sort of panpsychism seriously; there seem to be no knockdown arguments against the view, and there are various positive reasons why one might embrace it.

 

In “The Meta Problem of Consciousness” Chalmers (2018) discusses the meta-problem of explaining why we think consciousness poses a hard problem, or in other terms, the problem of explaining why we think consciousness is hard to explain. IN this he addresses phenomenal reports: the things we say about consciousness (that is, about phenomenal consciousness). Problem reports are a fact of human behaviour. Because of this, the meta-problem of explaining them is strictly speaking one of the easy problems of consciousness. Chalmers contrasts illusionism: the view that consciousness is or involves a sort of introspective illusion, while realist think conscious experiences are real direct phenomena.  Chalmers notes that because illusionism is held by a minority, it makes sense to understand the problem as the meta-problem and focus on solving it.

 

This invokes a research program involving (i) experimental philosophy and psychology, linguistics, and anthropology studying subjectsjudgments about consciousness, (ii) work in psychology and neuroscience on the mechanisms that underlie our self-models and bring about problem reports and other phenomenal reports, (iii) work in artificial intelligence and computational cognitive science on computational models of phenomenal reports, yielding computational systems that produce reports like ours, and (iv) philosophical assessment of potential mechanisms, including how well they match up with and explain philosophical judgments about consciousness.

 

Chalmers is principally targeting a complementary problem to the hard problem which can help elucidate these dichotomies, but it applies more generally i the sense that it concedes the role of subjective reports and poses questions of how these can be rationalised in philosophy and particularly in neuroscience, where subjective experience and subjective reports tend to take second tier to hard physical data on brain states in so far as they can unambiguously be elucidated in conscious subjects.

 

Chalmers uses this approach to discuss theories of consciousness such as IIT Tonioni & Koch (2015) that integrated information is the basis of consciousness, noting that there is no obvious link between integration of information and these judgments. Since, according to IIT, for every system with high integrated information there will be a computationally isomorphic simulated system with zero integrated information. He applies the same challenge to global workspace theories (Baars, 1997), where the basis of consciousness is a global workspace that makes information available to other systems in the brain. How does the global workspace help to explain our judgments about consciousness? Again, it is not obvious how the workspace explains problem reports involving a sense that consciousness is puzzling.

 

Higher-order thought theories (Rosenthal, 2002) say that conscious states are those that are the objects of higher-order thoughts. But again it is not clear how mere higher-order thoughts explain why we report mental states as being conscious nor how higher-order thoughts explain why we report conscious states as puzzling.

 

He notes that it can apply to quantum theories (Hameroff and Penrose, 1996; Stapp, 1993) that say there is a strong tie between wave-function collapse and consciousness. Does wave-function collapse play a central role in explaining reports of consciousness? One might worry that the answer is no, since wave-function collapse only selects one of multiple branches of the wave function. If a subject says I am consciousin the selected branch, it is arguable that the subject also says I am conscious’ in many unselected branches. If so it looks as if there may be an explanation of the reports which is prior to wave-function collapse.

 

The challenge also applies to panpsychist theories which hold that human consciousness is some sort of combination of micro-consciousnesses in fundamental entities. The combination problem for panpsychism is to explain how micro-consciousnesses can combine to yield our consciousness, now extended to explain how these combination states play a central role in bringing about reports of consciousness.

 

In considering introspective models which attribute primitive relations to qualities and contents, Chalmers, notes that introspection is especially central to Graziano's (2013) AST model in whichawareness is a model of attentionand doubts attention is the right choice for the complex relation that is being modelled, suggesting instead that it is more generally a model of representation.

 

Chalmers’ own view with which I have  complete agreement is best quoted for its sheer lucidity:

 

My own tentative view is that the most promising solution to the meta-problem lies in primitive relation attribution and the sense of acquaintance: our experiences seem to primitively acquaint us with qualities in the environment, and these experiences are themselves objects of acquaintance. I favour a realist theory of consciousness where consciousness does in fact involve acquaintance in this way. This line tends to suggest a combination of a first-order representational view of consciousness (consciousness involves immediate awareness of worldly properties) with a self-representational view of consciousness (consciousness involves immediate awareness of itself).  I do not think this sort of awareness is reducible to brain mechanisms, but one might expect some sort of corresponding structure at the level of brain mechanisms.

 

Uziel Awret (private communication) notes the need to distinguish the ground of subjectivity from the properties:

 

“The intransitive properties of consciousness those common to all conscious states, systems and creatures like some rudimentary 'there is something it is like' to be such systems, or to be in such states, and are usually referred to as 'phenomenal character' (some would add privacy and intentionality).  The transitive properties of consciousness are those that distinguish between different conscious states like blue and red or a square and a triangle and referred to as 'representational content’. Conscious mental states have both structural and non-structural properties including aspects of the representational content that are more structural lending themselves to scientific investigation and non-structural aspects of phenomenal character that seem less accessible to scientific investigation.

 

The question - What is it about consciousness that is made necessary by the way the brain is?  Should be broken in two:

1)     What is it about the structural properties of consciousness that are necessitated by the way the brain is?

2)     What is it about phenomenal character that is necessitated by the way the brain is?

 

In symbiotic existential cosmology I am focusing only on phenomenal properties as intractable to the hard problem, the Darwinian panpsychism likewise refers only to primitive subjectivity in general with an evolutionary model, where consciousness as we know it, is an emergent property induced by the eucaryote endosymbiosis when the membrane became freed for informational excitability and social signalling via neurotransmitters. The transitive structural properties have to be seen in the context of how the brain operates neurodynamically.

 

Consistent with his view in “The Conscious Mind”, Chalmers and McQueen (2021) have philosophically explored a variety of scenarios in which consciousness could collapse the wave function in realistic circumstances, dealing specifically with the paradoxes arising from superposition of the observer as a quantum system. They explore various options including super-selection rules forcing the elimination of some components of the superimposed state and super-resistance models in which a threshold causes collapse. Chalmers and McQueen adopt IIT as a basis for their analysis, but this introduces abstractions, in which consciousness is associated with a discrete Markov formulation consistent with observed features of conscious existence but not possessing subjectivity as such. This leads to a description where we are really analysing features of consciousness in objective brain dynamics rather than subjective experience to establish causality.

 

Summarising the difference between Chalmers & McQueen’s approach and Symbiotic Existential Cosmology, we compare four philosophical objections they cited and addressed:

 

(a) What is a superposed state of consciousness?  Chalmers & McQueen are stating a functional IIT model of "consciousness", so they state such a situation is possible, in conflict with our veridical experiences. The symbiotic cosmology concurs with the veridical conclusions of subjective conscious, and with Wigner's position that this is “absurd”, although it doesn’t rule out bodies and brains being quantum objects.

(b) How do quantum effects make a difference to macroscopic brain processes? Chalmers & McQueen do not assume quantum sensitivity in the "warm" brain, stating that "we have treated brain states as superpositions of numerous decoherent eigenstates, which themselves may involve relatively classical processing in neurons". Symbiotic cosmology accepts the need for brain states to have at least some quantum sensitivity and presents evidence for this. Critically it does not require the kind of isolation that current quantum computing methods do, by either isolating themselves from any significant decoherence, or by adiabatic quantum computing at very low temperatures following a series of zero energy configurations. All it requires in symbiotic cosmology are critically poised cellular states that become sensitive to individual quantum fluctuations in critically poised ion channels, initially in individual eucaryote single celled organisms. Later this process can become coupled in animal brains, through critically-poised whole brain states as coherent “excitons” distinguishable from one another through phase coherence discrimination being sensitive to threshold transitions in single neurons and their ion channels.

(c) What about macroscopic superpositions? Chalmers & McQueen hedge their bets, firstly suggesting machines might also be conscious: "For a start, if a correct theory of consciousness associates these devices with some amount of consciousness (as may be the case for IIT), then the devices will collapse wave functions much as humans do." Then following it with a catch-all: "Even if these devices are not conscious, it is likely that typical measuring devices will be entangled with humans and other conscious systems, so that they will typically be in a collapsed state too."
 

(d) What about the first appearance of consciousness in the universe? This is a problem for their particular models. They seek to solve this with an approximate super-resistance model: "For eons, the universe can persist in a wholly unconscious superposed state without any collapses. At some point, a physical correlate of consciousness may emerge in some branch of the wave function, yielding a superposition of consciousness and unconsciousness (or their physical correlates) with low amplitude for consciousness”.

 

The symbiotic cosmological model is panpsychic so the subjective element is included from the cosmic origin. Indeed it would then be possible for the universe to be involved in collapse of its own wave functions and develop a course of history, without human observers, which is a key strength of the theory, but in the case of the experimental quantum measurements of the types we are dealing with in the cat paradox, there is a specific interaction between human organismic consciousness and the experiment, so collapse could be evoked by the human observer's consciousness. This may apply more to (a) situations in how the brain performs its own phase front coherence processing between wave voltages and discrete action potentials and (b) in unstable tipping points in prisoners’ dilemma paradoxes in open environment situations, in which there are real or potential threats to survival, as in fig 29.

 

Penrose (2014) suggested a similar process involving gravitationally induced collapse, in which a quantum state remains in superposition until the difference of space-time curvature attains a significant level. However all quantum entanglement experiments on Earth take place successfully in an environment where gravitation is present.

 

Chalmers also notes that their general view might prove causal closure of consciousness: “The same might apply to the connection between consciousness and non-conscious processes in the brain: when superposed non-conscious processes threaten to affect consciousness, there will be some sort of selection. In this way, there is a causal role for consciousness in the physical world (Chalmers 2003, pp.262-3). This is very close to Stapp’s proposal above and the approach adopted in this cosmology, and to neuroscience notions of peripheral rather than coherent conscious processing in the brain, but it is being applied to collapse of the brain as a quantum superimposed state, not the subjective mind.

 

While this is provocative of an attempt to confirm a causal basis for volitional will, the difficulty here is that quantum observation depends on the subjective experience of the observer, not just integrated brain states we might accept as being the objective correlates of subjectivity, so the explanation of the theory is led into dealing with potential paradoxes of physical collapse that are tied to objective brain states rather than subjective experience, which is the veridical reality generating the unique history of the universe, rather than superimposed multiverses. In the author’s view Albert’s critique is pivotal – human society remains impeded from exploring the actual nature of unconstrained conscious states and only with the full exploration of these and collecting veridical accounts of visionary states can we begin to assess the nature and cosmological status of subjectivity.

 

To coin an analogy from the mathematical world, integral transforms such as the Fourier transform convert localisable time-amplitude information into frequency information, creating a mapping from all states into a complementary configuration space. If the subjective basis of experience is a transform of the entire physical universe under the  encapsulated constraints of the organismic brain, it may have a form of predictive power without possessing any localisable or separable features of the objective universe. Effectively it would be sampling the entire scope of quantum entanglement throughout the universe and throughout space-time, and through the consciousness of other sentient organisms, echoing Huxley’s notion of organismic consciousness being a filter upon the “mind at large”. Brain processing already appears to use transforms as integral to its wave processing, so the analogy is highly pertinent.

 

Minimalist Physicalism and Scale Free Consciousness

 

Fields, Glazebrook & Levin (2021) take a very different approach from naturalistic dualism, they call Minimalist Physicalism MP, which bypasses classical physicalism and seeks to incorporate consciousness as a type of observer-world relationship based only on principles of quantum information that is claimed on empirical grounds to be scale-free and then regards basal systems which they describe as running all the way down the evolutionary tree not just to single-celled eucaryotes and Symbiotic Existential Cosmology does of consciousness proper, but to the first prokaryote and in principal to abstract quantum systems, thus equating with the primitive subjectivity of SEC.

 

Here, we provide a straightforward construction of fundamental, scale-free features of consciousness and cognition within a generic description of system-environment information exchange as bipartite physical interaction. We term this description minimal physicalism(MP) as it makes no assumptions about classical computational architecture, in particular, no assumptions about network architecture, and no physical assumptions beyond those of quantum information theory.

 

A well-established literature extends the concepts of consciousness — the capability of having phenomenal experiences, however basic or minimally structured—and cognition to phylogenetically basal systems, including free-living or facultatively communal unicells, whether pro- or eukaryotic, plants, and aneural or lower (than mammals, birds, or cephalopods) complexity neural metazoa, particularly flat- worms.

 

Like the extension of these concepts from humans to nonhuman mammals and then to big-brained non-mammals, this extension to more basal organisms was initially motivated by observations of communication, learning, and behavioral flexibility, and by functional similarities between the mechanisms supporting information processing and learning in basal systems and in more complex systems such as mammals. Both molecular and bioelectric mechanisms of cellular information processing, memory, communication, and error correction are, in particular, evolutionarily ancient and conserved across phylogeny.

 

Like the Solms-Friston model of the conscious brain, this utilises Markov blankets which from a statistical thermodynamic interface across the cell membrane:

 

As the locus of molecular, thermodynamic, and bioelectric exchange with the environment, the cell membrane implements a Markov Blanket (MB) that renders its interior conditionally independent of its exterior; this allows the cell to be described as a Bayesian active inference system. The utility of this Bayesian approach has been demonstrated in simulation models of cellcell communication driving morphoghenesis.

 

The information that transits the cell membrane, and is thereby encoded on the MB implemented by the membrane, is actionable or meaningful to the cell: it makes a differenceto what the cell does . When the cells interaction with its environment is represented as measurement, what renders the information meaningful becomes clear: meaning requires measurement with respect to some reference frame. Viewed abstractly, a reference frame is a value, or more generally a vector, from which deviation is detectable.

 

This notion of consciousness is an interactive “consciousness of” rather than subjective consciousness as a cosmological complement to the physical universe and in that sense claims to be able to pose the hard problem for example in single cellular prokaryotic systems where the feedback processes can all be identified. I have some reservations about whether this is actually testing the hard problem in its original sense or not. Prokaryote membranes are dominated by respiratory or photosynthetic free energy production, unlike eucaryote membranes which are available for perception and social signalling.

 

These cross-scale similarities motivate a hypothesis that consciousness and cognition are scale-free phenomena that characterize all living systems. If consciousness and cognition are scale-free phenomena, we can expect them to be supported by common, scalable mechanisms that can be investigated in whatever systems permit the most straightforward theoretical and experimental approaches. Phylogenetically basal organisms, in vitro preparations, and synthetic constructs provide obvious advantages of manipulability and environmental control. Studies of basal systems are, moreover, especially effective in overcoming the intuitions that give rise to the hard problem, as they allow the mechanisms via which single cells and relatively simple multicellular organisms navigate their environments— mechanisms that they share with most of our cells, and with us as organisms— to be investigated in detail.

 

I nevertheless think the approach is potentially powerful and deeply informative:

 

Our interest here has not been ontological, but rather empirical: to derive as much as possible from the simple assumption that consciousness involves information exchange subject to the constraints of quantum information theory. We have shown that the MP framework that follows from this assumption allows many of the key features of consciousness to be understood as simple, scale-independent consequences of thermodynamics.

 

It has led to  a description of neurons as hierarchies of quantum reference frames  (Fields, Glazebrook & Levin  2022).

 

And has also led to intriguing conclusions on the metabolic limits on classical information processing by biological cells, implying quantum processing in the cell interior (Fields & Levin 2021):

 

Biological information processing is generally assumed to be classical. Measured cellular energy budgets of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, however, fall orders of magnitude short of the power required to maintain classical states of protein conformation and localization at the A, fs scales predicted by single-molecule decoherence calculations and assumed by classical molecular dynamics models. We suggest that decoherence is limited to the immediate surroundings of the cell membrane and of inter-compartmental boundaries within the cell, and that bulk cellular biochemistry implements quantum information processing.

 

Defence of the real world from the Case Against Reality

 

I have said that while consciousness is primary, the universe is necessary. Thus we know the universe only through our conscious experiences of it, but its stability and structure is necessary for the existence of conscious life.

 

Don Hoffman  in The Case Against Reality(2020) makes the evolutionary case that perception is not veridical in the sense of optimally truthful, but evolved by natural selection. Yes cats eyes are designed to hunt, with low colour specificity and reflecting retinas to hunt at night with those almond shaped pupils, and insect vision may be even more prosaic but although human perception has evolved by natural selection, human selection has been evolving towards the most generalised adaptable attributes because the human niche is strategically omnivorous of reality. Human perception has thus been consciously naturally selected to be veridical. Visual reality out there is a chaotic jumble of photons that have no colour only wavelength and particulate energy. Human perception has evolved to give us the most socially and environmentally discerning visual theatre of 3-D, size-conserved, seamlessly integrated experience. Yes, consciousness is also a type of internal model of reality constructed by the brain through evolution, but it is a veridical masterpiece and it is not just a model, but an outstanding manifestation of the ground of conscious being in subjective cosmology. There is no better way of looking at so called “physical reality” that we can possibly imagine!!

 

But there is another lesson lurking here! The case is not against veridical perception itself, but the notion of a “real world” that is independent of our perceptions of it, rather than an elusive quantum reality, in which the universe is manifest through our evolved consciousness of it (Mark et al. 2010, Hofmann et al. 2015, Fields et al. 2017, Prakash et al. 2020). The interface theory of perception (ITP) is a filter theory like Huxley’s “Doors of Perception”, of how the brain constructs our internal model of reality. While I agree with the central point that our perception is a conscious construction and we need to understand it as such, if the real world doesn’t exist then genes arent real. Natural selection is not either. The evolutionary whole ball game over billions of years depends on the stability of the real world quantum universe over these same time scales or we wouldnt even have a fitness function to select naturally towards. When we are dreaming, things do change like that, so we can have some sort of understanding of the implications and how completely impossible everything would be without the real world being real.

 

Consciousness and the Quantum: Putting it all Back Together

 

In summary here is my tentative position about how free will interacts with the universe and causality in detail. This is a working hypothesis, not a proven conclusion but I think it has a counter-intuitive twist that may explain everything.

 

Firstly in quantum mechanics, we have two apparent processes:

(a) the evolution of the wave function

(b) the causality-violating collapse of the wave function on quantum measurement

 

There are various versions of QM, from the Everett interpretation where no collapse takes place (but this creates probability multiverses that we don't experience) to Wigner type interpretations where the conscious observer collapses the wave function. In any event, conscious observers experience Schrödinger's cat either alive or dead in the real word or so it seems. Napoleon didn't win Waterloo and we experience a line of history taking place partly as a result of