Symbiotic Existential

Cosmology

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Chris King

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0  doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.32891.23846
Part 2 Conscious Cosmos
Update 5-8-2021 1-2023

 

dhushara.com

 

Contents Summary - Contents in Full

 

Dedication

The Core

Symbiotic Existential Cosmology:

            Scientific OverviewDiscovery and Philosophy

Biocrisis, Resplendence and Planetary Reflowering

The Conscious Brain, Natural Sacraments and Cosmological Symbiosis

The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness in the Quantum Universe

Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind, Therapy and Quantum ChangeThe Devil's Keyboard

Fractal, Panpsychic and Symbiotic Cosmologies

Cosmological Symbiosis

The Evolutionary Landscape of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Evolutionary Origins of Conscious Experience

Science, Religion and Gene Culture Co-evolution

Animistic, Eastern and Western Traditions and Entheogenic Use

Natty Dread and Planetary Redemption

Yeshua’s Tragic Mission, Revelation and Cosmic Annihilation

Ecocrisis, Sexual Reunion and the Entheogenic Traditions

Song cycleVideo 

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

The Vision Quest to Discover Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

The Evolution of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Resplendence

A Moksha Epiphany

   Epilogue   

            References

  Appendix:Primal Foundations of Subjectivity, 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!

 

 

 

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

The Central Enigma: What IS the Conscious Mind?

Biocrisis and Resplendence: Planetary Reflowering

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

Natural Sacraments and Cosmological Symbiosis

The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness

The Physical Viewpoint

The Neuroscience Perspective

Neural Nets v Biological Brains

Cartesian Theatres and Virtual Machines

Global Neuronal Workspace, Epiphenomenalism & Free Will

Consciousness and Surviving in the Wild

Consciousness as Integrated Information

Is Consciousness just Free Energy on Markov Landscapes?

Can Teleological Thermodynamics Solve the Hard Problem?

Panpsychism and its Critics

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

Life After Death

Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind

Therapy and Quantum Change: The Results from Scientific Studies

The Devil's Keyboard

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

Entasis and Ecstasis: Complementarity between Shamanistic and Meditative Approaches to Illumination

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

The Vision Quest to Discover Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

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

Evolution of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Crisis and Resplendence

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

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

The Manifestation Test, Clarifying Cosmic Karma

References

Appendix Primal Foundations of Subjectivity, Varieties of Panpsychic Philosophy

 

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 Fractal Biocosmology, Darwinian Cosmological Panpsychism, Cosmological Symbiosis

 

Abstract:

 

This article resolves the central enigma of existential cosmology – the nature and role of subjective experience – thus 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 extended to subjective conscious volition over the universe 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 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.

 

The Cosmological Axiom of Primal Subjectivity

 

We put this into precise formulation, taking into account that the existence of primary subjectivity is an undecidable proposition, from the physical point of view,  in the sense of Godel, but is empirically certain from the experiential point of view, we come to the following:

 

(1) We start on home ground, i.e. with human conscious volition, where we can clearly confirm both aspects of reality – subjectively experiential and objectively physical.

(2) We then affirm as empirical experience, that we have efficacy of subjective conscious volition over the physical universe, manifest in every intentional act we make, as is necessary for our behavioural survival – as evidenced by my consciously typing this passage, and that this is in manifest conflict with pure physicalism asserting the contrary.

(3) We now apply Occam's razor, not just on parsimony, but categorical inability of pure materialism, using only physical processes, which can only be empirically observed, to deal with subjective consciousness, because this can only be empirically experienced and is private to observation. This leads to intractability of the hard problem of consciousness. Extended to the physicalist blanket denial of conscious physical volition, which we perceive veridically in our conscious perception of our enacted intent, this becomes the extended hard problem. Classical neuroscience accepts consciousness only as an epiphenomenon – an internal model of reality constructed by the brain, but denies volition, as a delusion perpetrated by evolution to evoke the spectre of intentional behaviour.

(4) We then scrutinise the physical aspect and realise we cannot empirically confirm classical causal closure the universe in brain dynamics because: (a) the dynamics is fractal to the quantum-molecular level so non-IID processes don't necessarily converge to the classical and (b) experimental verification is impossible because we would need essentially to trace the neurodynamics of every neuron, or a very good statistical sample, when the relevant dynamics is at the unstable edge of chaos and so is quantum sensitive. Neither can we prove consciousness causes brain states leading to volition, because consciousness can only be experienced and not observed, so it’s a genuine undecidable proposition physically.

(5) This sets up the status of: “Does subjective conscious volition have efficacy over the universe? ” to be an empirically undecidable cosmological proposition from the physical perspective, in the sense of Godel. From the experiential perspective however, it is an empirical certainty.

(6) We therefore add a single minimal cosmological axiom, to state the affirmative proposition – “Subjective conscious volition has efficacy over the physical universe”. We also need to bear in mind that a physicalist could make the counter proposition that it doesn’t, and both could in principle be explored, like the continuum hypothesis in mathematics – that there is no infinite cardinality between those of the countable rationals and uncountable reals [1].

(7) We now need to scale this axiom all the way down to the quantum level, because it is a cosmological axiom that means that the universe has some form of primal subjective volition, so we need to investigate its possible forms. The only way we can do this, as we do with one another about human consciousness, where we can’t directly experience one another’s consciousness, is to make deductions from the physical effects of volition – in humans, organisms, amoebo-flagellates, prokaryotes, biogenesis, butterfly effect systems and quanta.

(8) We immediately find that quantum reality has two complementary processes:

(a) The wild wave function which contains both past and future implicit “information” under special relativity, corresponding to the quantum-physical experiential interface of primal subjectivity.

(b) Collapse of the wave function, which violates causality and in which the normalised wave power space leaves the quantum total free will where to be measured, which is the quantum-physical volitional interface of primal subjectivity.

(9) Two potentially valid cosmologies from the physical perspective, but only one from the experiential perspective:

As with any undecidable proposition, from the objective perspective, pure physicalists can, on the one hand, continue to contend that the quantum has no consciousness or free will and that uncertainty is “random” and cite lack of an obvious bias violating the Born interpretation, and develop that approach, thus claiming volition is a self-fulfilling delusion of our internal model of reality.  But Symbiotic Existential Cosmology can validly argue that uncertainty could be due to a complex quasi-random process, e.g. a special relativistic transactional collapse process, which by default, the quantum, by virtue of its wave function context does have “conscious” free will over, allowing us and the diversity of life to also be subjectively conscious and affect the world around us, unlike the pure materialist model.

 

An Accolade to Cathy Reason

 

The first part of the answer to the continuum hypothesis CH – that there is no infinite cardinal between the rationals and reals – was due to Kurt Gödel. In 1938 Gödel proved that it is impossible to disprove CH using the usual axioms for set theory. So CH could be true, or it could be unprovable.

 

In 1963 Paul Cohen finally showed that it was in fact unprovable.

 

The first part of the answer to the cosmological axiom CA – that subjective consciousness is a cosmological complement to the physical universe – was due to Cathy Reason. In 2016 she proved that it is impossible to establish certainty of consciousness through a physical process. So CA could be false, or it could be unprovable. In 2019, and 2021, with Kushal Shah, she proved the no-supervenience theorem – that the operation of self-certainty of consciousness is inconsistent with the properties possible in any meaningful definition of a physical system – effectively showing CA is certain experientially.

 

In 2023 in Symbiotic Existential Cosmology, Chris King finally showed that CA, in the form of conscious volition, is in fact unprovable physically, although it is certain experientially.

 

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. The fermionic quantum structures are small, discrete and divisible, so the material world can be analysed in great detail. 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 functionality (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. Henry Stapp (2009) in "Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics" has an overview of the more standard theories.

 

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.

 

In some situations, two or more particles can be prepared within the same wave function. For example, in a laser, an existing wave function can capture more and more photons in phase with a standing wave between two mirrors by stimulated emission from the excited medium. In other experiments pairs of particles can be generated inside a single wave function. For example an excited Calcium atom with two outer electrons can emit a blue and a yellow photon with complementary polarisations in a spin-0 to spin-0 transition, as shown in fig 24(8). In this situation when we sample the polarisation of one photon, the other instantaneously has the complementary polarisation even when the two detections take place without there being time for any information to pass between the detectors at the speed of light. John Bell (1964) proved that the results predicted by standard quantum mechanics when the two detectors were set at varying angles violated the constraints defined by local Einsteinian causality, implying quantum non-locality, the “spooky action at a distance” decried by Einstein, Rosen and Podolsky. The experimental verification was confirmed by Alain Aspect and others (1982).

 

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. But these just correspond to further entanglements, not collapse. Recoherence (Bouchard et al. 2015) can reverse decoherence, 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.

 

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. But these just correspond to further entanglements, not collapse. Recoherence (Bouchard et al. 2015) can reverse decoherence, 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.

 

Penrose's objective-collapse theory, 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" (Penrose 1989)  he associated with conscious human reasoning.

 

Spontaneous random collapse models GRW (Ghirardi, Rimini, & Weber 1986) include an extra factor complementing the Schrödinger equation forcing random collapse over a finite time. Both Penrose’s gravitationally induced collapse and the variants of GRW theories such as continuous spontaneous localisation (CSL) involving gradual, continuous collapse rather than a sudden jump have recently been partially eliminated by experiments derived from neutrino research which have failed to detect the very faint x-ray signals the local jitter of physical collapse models imply.

 

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.

 

David Albert (1992), in "Quantum Mechanics and Experience", cites objections to virtually all descriptions of collapse of the wave function. In terms of von Neumann's original definition, which allowed for collapse to take place any point from the initial event to the conscious observation of it, what he concluded was that there must be two fundamental laws about how the states of quantum-mechanical systems evolve:

 

Without measurements all physical systems invariably evolve in accordance with the dynamical equations of motion, but when there are measurements going on, the states of the measured systems evolve in accordance with the postulate of collapse. What these laws actually amount to will depend on the precise meaning of the word measurement. And it happens that the word measurement simply doesn't have any absolutely precise meaning in ordinary language; and it happens (moreover) that von Neumann didn't make any attempt to cook up a meaning for it, either.

 

However, if collapse always occurs at the last possible moment, as in Wigner's (1961) view:

 

All physical objects almost always evolve in strict accordance with the dynamical equations of motion. But every now and then, in the course of some such dynamical evolutions, the brain of a sentient being may enter a state wherein states connected with various different conscious experiences are superposed; and at such moments, the mind connected with that brain  opens its inner eye, and gazes on that brain, and that causes the entire system (brain, measuring instrument, measured system, everything) to collapse, with the usual quantum-mechanical probabilities, onto one or another of those states; and then the eye closes, and everything proceeds again in accordance with the dynamical equations of motion.

 

We thus end up with either purely physical systems, which evolve in accordance with the dynamical equations of motion or conscious systems which do contain sentient observers. These systems evolve in accordance with the more complicated rules described above. ... So in order to know precisely how things physically behave, we need to know precisely what is conscious and what isn't. What this "theory" predicts will hinge on the precise meaning of the word conscious; and that word simply doesn't have any absolutely precise meaning in ordinary language; and Wigner didn't make any attempt to make up a meaning for it; and so all this doesn't end up amounting to a genuine physical theory either.

 

But he also discounts related theories relating to macroscopic processes:

 

All physical objects almost always evolve in strict accordance with the dynamical equations of motion. But every now and then, in the course of some such dynamical evolutions (in the course of measurements, for example), it comes to pass that two macroscopically different conditions of a certain system (two different orientations of a pointer, say) get superposed, and at that point, as a matter of fundamental physical law, the state of the entire system collapses, with the usual quantum-mechanical probabilities, onto one or another of those macroscopically different states.  But then we again have two sorts of systems microscopic and macroscopic and again we don't precisely know what macroscopic is.

 

He even goes to the trouble of showing that no obvious empirical test can distinguish between such variations, including decoherence e.g. from air molecules, and with the GRW theory, where other problems arise about the nature and consequences of collapse on future evolution.

 

Tipler (2012, 2014), using quantum operators, shows that, in the many worlds interpretation, quantum non-locality ceases to exist because the first measurement of an entangled pair, e.g. spin up or down, splits the multiverse into two deterministic branches, in each of which the state of the the second particle is determined to be complementary in each multiverse branch, so no nonlocal "spooky action a a distance" needs, or can take place.

 

This also leads to a fully-deterministic multiverse:

 

Like the electrons, and like the measuring apparatus, we are also split when we read the result of the measurement, and once again our own split follows the initial electron entanglement. Thus quantum nonlocality does not exist. It is only an illusion caused by a refusal to apply quantum mechanics to the macroworld, in particular to ourselves.

 

Many-Worlds quantum mechanics, like classical mechanics is completely deterministic. So the observers have only the illusion of being free to chose the direction of spin measurement. However, we know my experience that there are universes of the mutilverse in which the spins are measured in the orthogonal directions, and indeed universes in which the pair of directions are at angles θ at many values between 0 and π/2 radians. To obtain the Bell Theorem quantum prediction in this more general case, where there will be a certain fraction with spin in one direction, and the remaining fraction in the other, requires using Everett’s assumption that the square of the modulus of the wave function measures the density of universes in the multiverse.

 

There is a fundamental problem with Tipler’s explanation. The observer is split into one that observes the cat alive and the other observes it dead. So everything is split. Nelson did and didn’t win the battle of Copenhagen by turning his blind eye, so Nelson is also both a live and dead Schrödinger cat. The same for every idiosyncratic conscious decision we make, so history never gets made. Free will ceases to exist and quantum measurement does not collapse the wave function. So we have a multiverse of multiverses with no history at all. Hence no future either.

 

This simply isn’t in any way how the real universe manifests. The cat IS alive or dead. The universe is superficially classical because so many wave functions have collapsed or are about to collapse that the quantum universe is in a dynamical state of creating superpositions and collapsing nearly all of them, as the course of history gets made. This edge of chaos dynamic between collapse and wave superposition allows free will to exist within the cubic centimetre of quantum uncertainty.  We are alive. Subjective conscious experience is alive and history is being unfolded as I type.

 

Nevertheless the implications of the argument are quite profound in that both a fully quantum multiverse and a classical universe are causally deterministic systems, showing that the capacity of subjectively conscious free-will to throw a spanner in the works comes from the interface we experience between these two deterministic extremes.

 

Another key interpretation which extends the Feynman description to real particle exchanges is the transactional interpretation TI (Cramer 1986, King 1989, Kastner 2012, Cramer & Mead 2020) 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, Feynman 1965), 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 (Cramer 1983). (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 (Aspect et al. 1982). 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 send information at the speed of light 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.

 

The only non-paradoxical way entanglement and its collapse can be realised physically, especially in the case of space-like separated detectors, as in fig 24(8) is this:

 

(A) The closer detector, say  No. 1 destructively collapses the entanglement at (1) sending a non-entangled advanced confirmation wave back in time to the source.

(B) The arrival of the advanced wave at the source collapses the wave right at source, so that the retarded wave from the source is no longer entangled although it was prepared as entangled by the experimenter. This IS instantaneous but entirely local.

(C) The retarded offer wave from the Bell experiment is no longer actually entangled and is sent at light speed to detector 2 where if it is detected it immediately has complementary polarisation to 1.

(D) If detector 1 does not record a photon at the given angle no confirmation wave is sent back to the source, so no coincidence measurement can be made.

(E) The emitted retarded wave will remain entangled unless photon 1 is or has been absorbed by another atom but then no coincidence counts will be made either.

(F) The process is relativistically covariant. In an experimenter frame if relative motion results in detector 2 sampling first, the roles of 1 and 2 become exchanged and the same explanation follows.

 

Every detection at (2) either collapses the entangled wave, or the already partially collapsed single particle wave function as in (B): If no detection has happened at 1, or anywhere else, the retarded source wave is still entangled, and detector 2 may sample it and collapse the entanglement. If a detection of photon 1 has happened elsewhere or at detector 1 the retarded source wave is no longer entangled, as in B above and then detector 2, if it samples photon 2, also collapses this non-entangled single particle wave function.

 

So there is no light-speed violating paradox but there is a deeper paradox about advanced and retarded waves in space time in the transactional principle. This as far as I can see gives the complete true real time account of how the universe actually deals with entanglement, not the fully collapsed statistical result the experimenter sees, and figures the case is already closed.

 

The standard account of the Bell theorem experiment, as in Fig 24(8) cannot explain how the universe actually does it, only that the statistical correlation agrees with the sinusoidal angular dependence of quantum reality and violates the Bell inequality. The experimenter is in a privileged position to overview the total data and can conclude this with no understanding of how an entangled wave function they prepared can arrive at detector 2 unentangled when photon 1 has already been absorbed.

 

Richard Feynman's (1965) Nobel Lecture "The Development of the Space-Time View of Quantum Electrodynamics" opened the whole transactional idea of advanced and retarded waves twenty years before Cramer (1983) did. It enshrines the very principle before QED got completed as the most accurate theory ever.

 

The same applies to single particle wave functions, where collapse of the wave function on absorption has to paradoxicially result in a sudden collapse of the wave function to zero even at space-like intervals from the emission and absorption loci, but the advanced and retarded confirmation and offer waves.

 

As just noted, the process of wave function collapse has generally been considered to violate Lorenz relativistic invariance (Barrett  1999 p44-45):

 

The standard collapse theory, at least, really is incompatible with the theory of relativity in a perfectly straightforward way: the collapse dynamics is not Lorentz- covariant. When one finds an electron, for example, its wave function instantaneously goes to zero everywhere except where one found it. If this did not happen, then there would be a nonzero probability of finding the electron in two places at the same time in the measurement frame. The problem is that we cannot describe this process of the wave function going to zero almost everywhere simultaneously in a way that is compatible with relativity. In relativity there is a different standard of simultaneity for each inertial frame, but if one chooses a particular inertial frame in order to describe the collapse of the wave function, then one violates the requirement that all physical processes must be described in a frame-independent way.  

 

Ruth Kastner  (2021a,b) elucidates the relativistic transactional interpretation, which claims to resolve this through causal sets (Sorkin 2003) invoking a special-relativistic theory encompassing both real particle exchange and collapse:

 

In formal terms, a causal set C is a finite, partially ordered set whose elements are subject to a binary relation that can be understood as precedence; the element on the left precedes that on the right. It has the following properties:

 

(i) transitivity: (x, y, z C)(x y z x z)
(ii) irreflexivity: (x C)(x ~ x)
(iii) local finiteness: (x, z C) (cardinality { y C | x y z } < ∞)

 

Properties (i) and (ii) assure that the set is acyclic, while (iii) assures that the set is discrete. These properties yield a directed structure that corresponds well to temporal becoming, which Sorkin describes as follows:

 

In Sorkin’s construct, one can then have a totally ordered subset of connected links (as defined above), constituting a chain. In the transactional process, we naturally get a parent/child relationship with every transaction, which defines a link. Each actualized transaction establishes three things: the emission event E, the absorption event A, and the invariant interval I(E,A) between them, which is defined by the transferred photon. Thus, the interval I(E,A) corresponds to a link. Since it is a photon that is transferred, every actualized transaction establishes a null interval, i.e., ds2 = c2t2 − r2 = 0 . The emission event E is the parent of the absorption event A (and A is the child of E).

 

A major advantage of the causal set approach as proposed by Sorkin and collaborators … is that it provides a fully covariant model of a growing spacetime. It is thus a counterexample to the usual claim (mentioned in the previous section) that a growing spacetime must violate Lorentz covariance. Specifically, Sorkin shows that if the events are added in a Poissonian manner, then no preferred frame emerges, and covariance is preserved (Sorkin 2003, p. 9).  In RTI, events are naturally added in a Poissonian manner, because transactions are fundamentally governed by decay rates (Kastner and Cramer, 2018).

 

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 relativistic transactional interpretation or 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.

 

Kastner 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.

 

The transactional interpretation presents a  unique view of cosmology,  involving an implicit space-time anticipation in which a real exchange, e.g. a photon emitted by a light bulb and absorbed on a photographic plate or elsewhere, or a Bell type entanglement experiment with two detectors, is split into an offer wave from the emitter and retro-causal confirmation waves from the prospective absorbers that, after the transaction is completed, interfere to form the real photon confined between the emission and absorption vertices. We also  experience these retro-causal effects in weak quantum measurement, and delayed choice experiments.

 

To get a full picture of this process, we need to consider the electromagnetic field as a whole, in which these same absorbers are also receiving offer waves form other emitters, so we get a network of  virtual emitter-absorber pairs.

 

There is a fundamental symmetry between creation and annihilation, but there is a sting in the measurement tail. When we do an interference experiment, with real positive energy photons, we know each photon came from the small region within the light source, but the locations of the potential absorbers affected by the wave function are spread across the world at large. The photon could be absorbed anywhere on the photographic plate, or before it, if it hits dust in the apparatus, or after if it goes right through the plate and out of the apparatus altogether, just as radioactive particles escape the exponential potential barrier of the nucleus. The problem concerning wave function collapse is which absorber?

 

In all these cases once a potential absorber becomes real, all the other potential absorbers have zero probability of absorption, so the change occurs instantaneously across space-time to other prospective absorbers, relative to the successful one. This is the root problem of quantum measurement. Special relativistic quantum field theory is time symmetric, so solving wave function collapse is thus most closely realised in the transactional interpretation, where the real wave function is neither the emitter's spreading linear retarded wave, nor any of the prospective absorbers’ linear advanced waves, but the results of a phase transition, in which all these hypothetical offer and confirmation waves resolve into one or more real wave functions linking creation and annihilation vertices. It is the nature of this phase transition and its non-linearity which holds the keys to life the universe and everything and potentially the nature of time itself.

 

Fig 24b: A transaction modelled by a phase transition from a virtual plasma to a real interactive solid spanning space-time, in which the wave functions have now become like the harmonic phonons of solid state physics.

 

I remain intrigued by the transactional principle because I am convinced that subjective consciousness is a successful form of quantum prediction in space-time that has enabled single-celled eucaryotes to conquer the biosphere before there were brains, which have evolved based on intimately-coupled societies of such cells (neurons and neuroglia) now forming the neural networks neuroscience tries to understand in classical causal terms.

 

The eucaryote endo-symbiosis in this view marks a unique discrete topological transformation of the membrane to unfold attentive sentient consciousness invoking the second stage of cosmological becoming that ends up being us wondering what the hell is going on here? This is the foundation of emergence as quantum cosmology and it explains why we have the confounding existential dilemma we do have and why it all comes back to biospheric symbiosis being the centre of the cyclone of survival for us as a climax species.

 

The full picture of a transaction process is a population of real, or potential emitters in excited states and potential ground state absorbers, with their offer and confirmation wave functions extending throughout space time, as in the Feynman representation. As the transaction proceeds, this network undergoes a phase transition from a “virtual plasma” state to a “real solid”, in which the excited emitters are all paired with actual absorbers in the emitters’ future at later points in space-time. This phase transition occurs across space-time, covering both space-like and time-like intervals. It has many properties of a phase transition from plasma to solid, with a difference – the strongest interactions don’t win, except with a probability determined by the relative power of the emitter’s wave amplitudes at the prospective absorption event. This guarantees the transaction conforms to the emitter’s probability distribution and the absorber's one as well.   If a prospective absorber has already interacted with another emitter, it will not appear in the transaction network at this space-time point, so ceases to be part of the collective transaction. Once this is the case, all other prospective absorbers of a given emitter scattered throughout space-time, both in the absorber’s past and future, immediately have zero probability of absorption from any of the emitters and no causal conflict, or time loop arises.

 

Here is the problem. The transition is laterally across the whole of space-time, not along the arrow of time in either direction, so cannot exist within space-time and really needs a dual time parameter. This is why my 1989 paper was entitled “dual-time super-causality”.

 

Now this doesn’t mean a transaction is just a random process. Rather, it is a kind of super-selection theory, in which the probability of absorption at an absorber conforms to the wave probability but the decision making process is spread between all the prospective absorbers distributed across space-time, not just an emitter-based random wave power normalised probability. The process is implicitly retro-causal in the same way weak quantum measurement and Wheeler’s delayed choice experiments are.

 

The fact that in the cat paradox experiment, we see only a live or dead cat and not a superposition doesn’t mean however, that conscious observers witness only a classical world view. There are plenty of real phenomena in which we do observe quantum superpositions, including quantum erasure and quantum recoherence, where entangled particles can be distinguished collapsing the entanglement, and then re-entangled. A laser consists of excited atoms above the ground state which can be triggered to coherently emit photons indistinguishably entangled in a superposition of in-phase states stimulated by a standing wave in the laser caught between pairs of reflecting mirrors, so we see the bright laser light and know it is a massive superimposed set of entangled photons.

 

In all forms of quantum entanglement experiment, when the state of one of the pair is detected, the informational outcome is “transmitted” instantaneously to the other detector so that the other particle’s state is definitively complementary, although the detectors can be separated by space-like as well as time-like intervals, although this transmission cannot be used to relay classical information. This again is explained by the transactional interpretation, because the confirmation wave of the first detector of the pair is transmitted retro-causally back to the source event where the splitting occurred and then causally out to the second detector where it now has obligately complementary spin or polarisation when detection occurs.

 

What the transactional interpretation does provide is a real collapse process in which the universe is neither stranded in an Everett probability multiverse, nor in a fully collapsed classical state, but can be anywhere in between, depending on which agents are dong the measuring in a given theory. Nor is collapse necessarily random and thus meaningless, but is a space-time spanning non-linear phase transition, involving bidirectional hand-shaking between past and future. The absorbers are all in an emitter’s 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 can’t 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 only requirement is that individual observations are asymptotic to the Born probability interpretation modulated by the wave function power  φ.φ*, but this could arise from a variety of complex trans-deterministic quasi-random processes, where multiple entanglements generate effective statistical noise, while having a basis in an explicit  hidden variable theory. The reason for the Born asymptote could thus be simply that the non-linear phase transition of the transaction, like the cosmic wave function of the universe, potentially involves everything there is – the ultimate pseudo-random optimisation process concealing a predictive hidden variable theory.

 

It is also one in which subjective conscious volition and meaning can become manifest in cosmic evolution, in which the universe is in a state of dynamic ramification and collapse of quantum superpositions. The key point here is that subjective conscious volition needs to have an anticipatory property in its own right, independent of brain mechanisms like attention processes, 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.

 

It is one thing to have free will and its another to use free will for survival on the basis of (conscious) prediction, or anticipation. Our conscious brains are striving to be predictive to the extent that we are subject to flash-lag perceptual illusions where perceptual processes attempt, sometimes incorrectly, to predict the path of rapidly moving objects (Eagleman & Sejnowski 2000), so the question is pivotal. Anticipating future threats and opportunities is key to how we evolved as conscious organisms, and this is pivotal over short immediate time scales, like the snake’s or tiger’s strike which 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, subjective 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 processes with no subjectivity?

 

Here is where the correspondence between sensitive dynamic instability at tipping points and quantum uncertainty comes into the picture. We know biology and particularly brain function is a dynamically unstable process, with sensitive instabilities that are fractal down to the quantum level of ion channels, enzyme molecules whose active sites are enhanced by quantum tunnelling and the quantum parallelism of molecular folding and interactive dynamics. We also know that the brain dynamics operating close to the edge of chaos is convergent to dynamic crisis during critical decision-making uncertainties that do not have an obvious computational, cognitive, or reasoned disposition. We also know at these points that the very processes of sensitivity on existing conditions and other proesses, such as stochastic resonance, can allow effects at the micro level approaching quanta to affect the outcome of global brain states.

 

And those with any rational insight can see that, for both theoretical and experimental reasons, classical causal closure of the universe in the context of brain dynamics is an unachievable quest. Notwithstanding Libet’s attempt, there is no technological way to experimentally achieve verification that the brain is causally closed and it flies in the face of the fractal molecular nature of biological processes at the quantum level.

 

Nevertheless we can understand that subjective conscious volition cannot enter into causal conflict with brain processes which have already established an effective computational outcome, as we do when we reach a prevailing reasoned conclusion, so free will is effectively restricted to situations where the environmental circumstances are uncertain, or not effectively computable, or perceived consciously to be anything but certain.

 

This in turn means that the key role of free will is not applying it to rationally or emotionally foregone conclusions but to environmental and strategic uncertainties, especially involving other conscious agents whose outcomes become part of quantum uncertainty itself.

 

The natural conclusion is that conscious free will has been conserved by evolution because it provides an evolutionary advantage at anticipating root uncertainties in the quantum universe and only these. This seems almost repugnantly counter-intuitive, because we tend to associate quantum uncertainty and the vagaries of fate with randomness, but this is no more scientifically established than causal closure of the universe in the context of brain function. All the major events of history that are not foregone conclusions, result from conscious free will applied to uncertainty, such as Nelson turning his bind eye to the telescope, in the eventually successful Battle of Copenhagen.

 

So the question remains that when we turn to the role of subjective consciousness volition in quantum uncertainty, this comes down to not just opening the box of Schrödinger’s cat, but to anticipating uncertain events more often than random chance would predict in real life situations.

 

That is where the transactional approach comes into its own, because, while the future at the time of casting the emission die is an indeterminate set of potential absorbers, the retro-causal information contained in the transaction is implicitly revealing which future absorbers are actually able to absorb the real emitted quantum and hence information about the real state of the future universe, not just its probabilities at emission. Therefore the transaction is carrying additional implicit “encoded” information about the actual future state of the universe and what its possibilities are that can be critical for survival in natural selection.

 

Although, like the “transmission” of a detection to the other detector in an entanglement experiment cannot be used to transfer classical information, the same will apply to quantum transactions, but this doesn’t mean they are random or have no anticipatory value, but just that they cannot be used for classical causal deduction.

 

Because the “holistic” nature of conscious awareness is an extension of the global unstable excitatory dynamics of individual eucaryote cells to brain dynamics, a key aspect of subjective consciousness may be that it becomes sensitive to the wave properties of quantum transactions with the natural environment in the process of cellular quantum sentience, involving sensitivity to quantum modes, including photons, phonons and molecular orbital effects constituting cellular vision, audition and olfaction. Expanded into brain dynamics, this then becomes integral to the binding of consciousness into a coherent whole.

 

 

Cramer (2022) notes a possible verifiable source of advanced waves:

 

In the 1940s, young Richard Feynman and his PhD supervisor John Wheeler decided to take the advanced solution seriously and to use it to formulate a new electromagnetism, now called Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory (WF).  WF assumes that an oscillating electric charge produces advanced and retarded waves with equal strengths. However, when the retarded wave is subsequently absorbed (in the future), a cancellation occurs that erases all traces of the advanced waves and their time-backward “advanced effects.” WF gives results and predictions identical to those of conventional electromagnetic theory. However, if future retarded-wave absorption is somehow incomplete, WF suggests that this absorption deficiency might produce experimentally observable advanced effects.

 

When Bajlo (2017) measurements on cold, clear, dry days, he made the observations as the Earth rotated and the antenna axis swept across the galactic center, where wave-absorption variations might occur, in a number of these measurements, he observed strong advanced signals (6.94 to 26.5 standard deviations above noise) that arrived at the downstream antenna a time 2D/c before the main transmitted pulse signal. Variations in the advanced-signal amplitude as the antenna axis swept across the galactic center were also observed. The amplitude was reduced up to 50% of off-center maximum when pointed directly at the galactic center (where more absorption is expected.) These results constitute a credible observation of advanced waves.

 

There is another interpretation of quantum reality called super-determinism (Hossenfelder & Palmer 2020), which has an intriguing relationship with retro-causality and still can admit free will, despite the seeming contradiction in the title. Bell's theorem assumes that the measurements performed at each detector can be chosen independently of each other and of the hidden variables that determine the measurement outcome: ρ(λ(a,b))=ρ(λ).

 

Fig 24a: 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.

 

In a super-deterministic theory, this relation is not fulfilled ρ(λ(a,b))≠ρ(λ) because the hidden variables are correlated with the measurement settings. Since the choice of measurements and the hidden variable are predetermined, the results at one detector can depend on which measurement is done at the other without any need for information to travel faster than the speed of light. The assumption of statistical independence is sometimes referred to as the free choice or free will assumption, since its negation implies that human experimentalists are not free to choose which measurement to perform. But this is incorrect. What it depends on are the actual measurements made. For every possible pair of measurements a, b there is a predefined trajectory determined both by the particle emission and the measurement at the time absorption takes place. Thus in general the experimenter still has the free will to choose a, b or even to change the detector set up, as in the Wheeler delayed choice experiment in fig 24a, and science proceeds as usual, but the outcome depends of the actual measurements made. In principle, super-determinism is untestable, as the correlations can be postulated to exist since the Big Bang, making the loophole impossible to eliminate. However this has an intimate relationship with the transactional interpretation and its implicit retro-causality, because it includes the absorbing conditions in the transaction, so the two are actually compatible.

 

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). Mossbridge et al. (2014)  in a meta analysis have also cited an organic unconscious anticipatory response to potential existential crises they term predictive anticipatory activity which is similar to conscious quantum anticipation, citing anticipative entanglement swapping experiments such as Ma et al. (2002) as a basis.

 

Fig 24b: (Above) Delayed choice entanglement swapping, in which Victor is able to decide whether Alice's and Bob's photons are entangled or not after they have already been measured. (Ma et al. 2002). (Below) A photon is entangled with a photon that has already died (been sampled) even though they never coexisted at any point in time (Megidish2012).

 

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 behaviour 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).

 

Their approach is described as follows:

 

In this respect, one important consequence of the correspondence principle is the concept of macroscopic locality (ML): Coarse-grained quantum correlations become local (in the sense of Bell) in the  macroscopic limit. ML has been challenged in different circumstances, both theoretically and experimentally. However, as far as we know, nonlocality fades away under coarse graining when the number of particles N in the system goes to infinity.  In a bipartite Bell-type experiment where the parties measure intensities with a resolution of the order of N1/2 or, equivalently, O(N1/2)  coarse graining. Then, under the premise that particles are entangled only by independent and identically distributed pairs, Navascués & Wunderlich (2010) prove ML for quantum theory.

 

Fig 24d: Macroscopic Bell-Type experiment.

 

We generalize the concept of ML to any level of coarse graining α [0, 1], meaning that the intensities are measured with a resolution of the order of Nα. We drop the IID assumption, and we investigate the existence of a boundary between quantum (nonlocal) and classical (local) physics, identified by the minimum level of coarse graining α required to restore locality. To do this, we introduce the concept of macroscopic quantum behavior (MQB), demanding that the Hilbert space structure, such as the superposition principle, is preserved in the thermodynamic limit.

 

Conclusion: We have introduced a generalized concept of macroscopic locality at any level of coarse graining α [0, 1]. We have investigated the existence of a critical value that marks the quantum-to-classical transition. We have introduced the concept of MQB at level α of coarse graining, which implies that the Hilbert space structure of quantum mechanics is preserved in the thermodynamic limit. This facilitates the study of macroscopic quantum correlations. By means of a particular MQB at α = 1/2, , we show that αc ≥ 1/2, as opposed to the IID case, for which αIID ≤ 1/2. An upper bound on αc is, however, lacking in the general case. The possibility that no such transition exists remains open, and perhaps there exist systems for which ML is violated at α = 1.

 

This means for example, that in (a) neural system processing, where the quantum unstable context is continually evolving as a result of edge-of-chaos processing, and so repeated IID measurements are not made and (b) biological evolution, where a sequence of unique mutations become sequentially fixed by natural and sexual selection, which is also 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.

 

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 the universe in the context 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, 2021, James et al. 2022) 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)). The ZPF is thus the multiple manifestations of uncertainty in the quantum vacuum involving virtual photons, electrons and positrons, as well as quarks and gluons, implicit in the muon's anomalous magnetic moment (Borsanyi et al. 2021).

 

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 does not of itself solve the hard problem as such, because, at face value it is a purely physical manifestation of quantum uncertainty with no subjective manifestation, however Keppler claims to make 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.

 

Articulating a theory heavily dependent on this highly flawed notion, Budson et al. (2022) claim all the brain’s decision-making procedures are unconscious, but followed half a second later by conscious experience that is just a memory-based constructive representation of future outcomes. According to the researchers, this theory is important because it explains that all our decisions and actions are actually made unconsciously, although we fool ourselves into believing that we consciously made them:

 

In a nutshell, our theory is that consciousness developed as a memory system that is used by our unconscious brain to help us flexibly and creatively imagine the future and plan accordingly. What is completely new about this theory is that it suggests we don’t perceive the world, make decisions, or perform actions directly. Instead, we do all these things unconsciously and then—about half a second later—consciously remember doing them. We knew that conscious processes were simply too slow to be actively involved in music, sports, and other activities where split-second reflexes are required. But if consciousness is not involved in such processes, then a better explanation of what consciousness does was needed.

 

But this notion is itself a delusion. The conscious brain has evolved to be able to co-opt very fast subconscious processes to orchestrate in real time, highly accurate, innovative conscious responses, which the agent is fully aware of exercising in real time. The evidence is that conscious control of subconscious fast processing, e.g. via insular von-Economo neurons, and basal ganglia, occurs in parallel in real time. Tennis could not be played if the players' conscious reactions were half a second behind the ball. They could not represent, or accurately respond to the actual dynamics.

 

Libet’s claim 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.”

 

More recently the actual basis coordinating a decision to act has been found to reside in slowly evolving dopamine modulation. When you reach out to perform an action, seconds before you voluntarily extend your arm, thousands of neurons in the motor regions of your brain erupt in a pattern of electrical activity that travels to the spinal cord and then to the muscles that power the reach. But just prior to this massively synchronised activity, the motor regions in your brain are relatively quiet. For such self-driven movements, a key piece of the “go” signal that tells the neurons precisely when to act has been revealed in the form of slow ramping up of dopamine in a region deep below the cortex which closely predicted the moment that mice would begin a movement — seconds into the future (Hamilos et al. 2021).

 

The authors imaged mesostriatal dopamine signals as mice decided when, after a cue, to retrieve water from a spout. Ramps in dopamine activity predicted the timing of licks. Fast ramps preceded early retrievals, slow ones preceded late ones. Surprisingly, dopaminergic signals ramped-up over seconds between the start-timing cue and the self-timed movement, with variable dynamics that predicted the movement/reward time on single trials. Steeply rising signals preceded early lick-initiation, whereas slowly rising signals preceded later initiation. Higher baseline signals also predicted earlier self-timed movements. Consistent with this view, the dynamics of the slowly evolving endogenous dopaminergic signals quantitatively predicted the moment-by-moment probability of movement initiation on single trials. The authors propose that ramping dopaminergic signals, likely encoding dynamic reward expectation, can modulate the decision of when to move.

 

Slowly varying neuromodulatory signals could allow the brain to adapt to its environment. Such flexibility wouldn’t be afforded by a signal that always led to movement at the exact same time. Allison Hamilos notes: “The animal is always uncertain, to some extent, about what the true state of the world is. You don’t want to do things the same way every single time — that could be potentially disadvantageous.”

 

This introduces further complexity into the entire pursuit of Libet's readiness potential, which is clearly not itself the defining event, which rather is at first call concealed in a slowly varying dopamine modulation, which in itself does not determine the timing of the event except on a probabilistic basis. Furthermore the striatum itself is a gatekeeper in the basal ganglia for coordinating the underlying conscious decision to act and not the conscious decision itself.

 

Catherine Reason (2016), drawing on Caplain (1996, 2000) and Luna (2016), 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):

 

An omega function is any phi-type function which can be performed, to within a quantified level of accuracy, by some

conscious system. A phi-type function is any mappng which associates the state of some system with the truth value of some proposition.  This significance of this is that it can be shown that no purely physical system can perform any phi-type function to within any quantified level of accuracy, if that physical system is required to be capable of humanlike reasoning.

 

The proof is as follows:  Let us define a physical process as some process whose existence is not dependent on some observation of that process.  Now let X be the set of all physical processes necessary to perform any phi-type function.   Since the existence of X is not dependent on any given observation of X,  it is impossible to be sure empirically of the existence of X.  If it is impossible to be sure of the existence of X, then it is impossible to be sure of the accuracy of X.  If it is impossible to be sure of the accuracy of X, then it is impossible to be sure that X correctly performs the phi-type function it is supposed to perform.  Since any system capable of humanlike reasoning can deduce this, it follows that no physical system capable of humanlike reasoning can perform any phi-type function without becoming inconsistent.

 

Counterintuitively, this implies that human consciousness is associated with a violation of energy conservation. It also provides 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 universe in the context 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.

 

Neural Nets v Biological Brains

 

Steven Grossberg is recognised for his contribution to ideas using nonlinear systems of differential equations such as laminar computing, where the layered cortical structures of mammalian brains provide selective advantages, and for complementary computing, which concerns the idea that pairs of parallel cortical processing streams compute complementary properties in the brain, each stream having complementary computational strengths and weaknesses, analogous to physical complementarity in the uncertainty principle. Each can possess multiple processing stages realising a hierarchical resolution of “uncertainty”, which here means that computing one set of properties at a given stage prevents computation of a complementary set of properties at that stage.

 

“Conscious Mind, Resonant Brain” (Grossberg 2021) provides a panoramic model of the brain, from neural networks to network representations of conscious brain states. In so doing, he presents a view based on resonant non-linear systems, which he calls adaptive resonance theory (ART), in which a subset of “resonant” brain states are associated with conscious experiences. While I applaud his use of non-linear dynamics, ART is a structural abstract neural network model and not what I as a mathematical dynamicist conceive of as "resonance", compared with the more realistic GNW, or global neuronal workspace model.

 

The primary intuition behind the ART model is that object identification and recognition generally occur as a result of the interaction of 'top-down' observer expectations with 'bottom-up' sensory information. The model postulates that 'top-down' expectations take the form of a memory template or prototype that is then compared with the actual features of an object as detected by the senses. This comparison gives rise to a measure of category belongingness. As long as this difference between sensation and expectation does not exceed a set threshold called the 'vigilance parameter', the sensed object will be considered a member of the expected class. The system thus offers a solution to the 'plasticity/stability' problem, i.e. the problem of acquiring new knowledge without disrupting existing knowledge that is also called incremental learning.

 

The basic ART structure.

 

The work shows in detail how and why multiple processing stages are needed before the brain can construct a complete and stable enough representation of the information in the world with which to predict environmental challenges and thus control effective behaviours. Complementary computing and hierarchical resolution of uncertainty overcome these problems until perceptual representations that are sufficiently complete, context-sensitive, and stable can be formed. The brain regions where these representations are completed are different for seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing.

 

His proposed answer is that a resonant state is generated that selectively lights upthese representations and thereby renders them conscious. These conscious representations can then be used to trigger effective behaviours:

 

My proposed answer is: A resonant state is generated that selectively lights upthese representations and thereby renders them conscious. These conscious representations can then be used to trigger effective behaviors. Consciousness hereby enables our brains to prevent the noisy and ambiguous information that is computed at earlier processing stages from triggering actions that could lead to disastrous consequences. Conscious states thus provide an extra degree of freedom whereby the brain ensures that its interactions with the environment, whether external or internal, are as effective as possible, given the information at hand.

 

He addresses the hard problem of consciousness in its varying aspects:

 

As Chalmers (1995) has noted: The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. ... Even after we have explained the functional, dynamical, and structural properties of the conscious mind, we can still meaningfully ask the question, Why is it conscious? There seems to be an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the physical world and consciousness. All these factors make the hard problem hard. … Philosophers vary passionately in their views between the claim that no Hard Problem remains once it is explained how the brain generates experience, as in the writings of Daniel Dennett, to the claim that it cannot in principle be solved by the scientific method, as in the writings of David Chalmers. See the above reference for a good summary of these opinions.

 

Grossberg demonstrates that, over and above information processing, our brains sometimes go into a context-sensitive resonant state that can involve multiple brain regions. He explores experimental evidence that all conscious states are resonant states but not vice versa. Showing that, since not all brain dynamics are resonant, consciousness is not just a whir of information-processing:

 

When does a resonant state embody a conscious experience? Why is it conscious? And how do different resonant states support different kinds of conscious qualia? The other side of the coin is equally important: When does a resonant state fail to embody a conscious experience? Advanced brains have evolved in response to various evolutionary challenges in order to adapt to changing environments in real time. ART explains how consciousness enables such brains to better adapt to the worlds changing demands.

 

Grossberg is realistic about the limits on a scientific explanation of the hard problem:

 

It is important to ask: How far can any scientific theory go towards solving the Hard Problem? Let us suppose that a theory exists whose neural mechanisms interact to generate dynamical states with properties that mimic the parametric properties of the individual qualia that we consciously experience, notably the spatio-temporal patterning and dynamics of the resonant neural representations that represent these qualia. Suppose that these resonant dynamical states, in addition to mirroring properties of subjective reports of these qualia, predict properties of these experiences that are confirmed by psychological and noninvasive neurobiological experiments on humans, and are consistent with psychological, multiple-electrode neurophysiological data, and other types of neurobiological data that are collected from monkeys who experience the same stimulus conditions.

 

He then develops a strategy to move beyond the notion of the neural correlate of consciousness (Crick & Koch 1990), claiming these states are actually the physical manifestation of the conscious state:

 

Given such detailed correspondences with experienced qualia and multiple types of data, it can be argued that these dynamical resonant states are not just neural correlates of consciousnessthat various authors have also discussed, notably David Chalmers and Christof Koch and their colleagues. Rather, they are mechanistic representations of the qualia that embody individual conscious experiences on the psychological level. If such a correspondence between detailed brain representations and detailed properties of conscious qualia occurs for a sufficiently large body of psychological data, then it would provide strong evidence that these brain representations create and support these conscious experiences. A theory of this kind would have provided a linking hypothesis between brain dynamics and the conscious mind. Such a linking hypothesis between brain and mind must be demonstrated before one can claim to have a theory of consciousness”.

 

However he then delineates the claim that this is the most compete scientific account of subjective experience possible, while conceding that it may point to a  cosmological problem akin those in relativity and quantum theory:

 

If, despite such a linking hypothesis, a philosopher or scientist claims that, unless one can see red” or “feel fearin a theory of the Hard Problem, then it does not contribute to solving that problem, then no scientific theory can ever hope to solve the Hard Problem. This is true because science as we know it cannot do more than to provide a mechanistic theoretical description of the dynamical events that occur when individual conscious qualia are experienced. However, as such a principled, albeit incrementally developing, theory of consciousness becomes available, including increasingly detailed psychological, neurobiological, and even biochemical processes in its explanations, it can dramatically shift the focus of discussions about consciousness, just as relativity theory transformed discussions of space and time, and quantum theory of how matter works. As in quantum theory, there are measurement limitations in understanding our brains.

 

Although he conceives of brain dynamics as being poised just above the level of quantum effects in vision and hearing, Grossberg sees brains as a new frontier of scientific discovery subject to the same principles of complementarity and uncertainty as arise in quantum physics:

 

Since brains form part of the physical world, and interact ceaselessly with it to adapt to environmental challenges, it is perhaps not surprising that brains also obey principles of complementarity and uncertainty. Indeed, each brain is a measurement device for recording and analyzing events in the physical world. In fact, the human brain can detect even small numbers of the photons that give rise to percepts of light, and is tuned just above the noise level of phonons that give rise to percepts of sound.

 

Complementarity and uncertainty principles also arise in physics, notably in quantum mechanics. Since brains form part of the physical world, and interact ceaselessly with it to adapt to environmental challenges, it is perhaps not surprising that brains also obey principles of complementarity and uncertainty. Indeed, each brain is a measurement device for recording and analyzing events in the physical world. In fact, the human brain can detect even small numbers of the photons that give rise to percepts of light, and is tuned just above the noise level of phonons that give rise to percepts of sound.

 

The Uncertainty Principle identified complementary variables, such as the position and momentum of a particle, that could not both be measured with perfect precision. In all of these theories, however, the measurer who was initiating and recording measurements remained out- side the measurement process. When we try to understand the brain, this is no longer possible. The brain is the measurement device, and the process of understanding mind and brain is the study of how brains measure the world. The measurement process is hereby brought into physical theory to an unprecedented degree.

 

Fig 26b: Brain centres involved in intentional behaviour and subjectively conscious physical volition: (a) The cortex overlaying the basal ganglia, thalamus and amygala and substantia nigra  involved in planned action, motivation and volition. (b) The interactive circuits in the cortex, striatum and thalamus facilitating intentional motor bahaviour. (c) The Motivator model clarifies how the basal ganglia and amygdala coordinate their complementary functions in the learning and performance of motivated acts. Brain areas can be divided into four regions that process information about conditioned stimuli (CSs) and unconditioned stimuli (USs). (a) Object Categories represent visual or gustatory inputs, in anterior inferotemporal (ITA) and rhinal (RHIN) cortices; (b) Value Categories represent the value of anticipated outcomes on the basis of hunger and satiety inputs, in amygdala (AMYG) and lateral hypothalamus (LH); (c) Object-Value Categories resolve the value of competing perceptual stimuli in medial (MORB) and lateral (ORB) orbitofrontal cortex; and (d) the Reward Expectation Filter in the basal ganglia detects the omission or delivery of rewards using a circuit that spans ventral striatum (VS), ventral pallidum (VP), striosomes of the striatum, the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPTN) and midbrain dopaminergic neurons of the SNc/VTA (substantia nigra pars compacta/ventral tegmental area). The network model connecting brain regions is consistent with both quantum and classical approaches and in no way eliminates subjective conscious volition from having an autonomous role. All it implies is that conscious volition arises from an evolved basis in these circuit relationships in mammals.

 

Grossberg sees the brain as presenting new issues for science as measurement devices confounding their separation between measured effect and the observer making a quantum measurement:

 

Since brains are also universal measurement devices, how do they differ from these more classical physical ideas? I believe that it is the brains ability to rapidly self-organize, through development and life-long learning, that sets it apart from previous physical theories. The brain thus represents a new frontier in measurement theory for the physical sciences, no less than the biological sciences. It remains to be seen how physical theories will develop to increasingly incorporate concepts about the self-organization of matter, and how these theories will be related to the special case of brain self-organization.

 

Experimental and theoretical evidence will be summarized in several chapters in support of the hypothesis that principles of complementarity and uncertainty that are realized within processing streams, better explain the brains functional organization than concepts about independent modules. Given this conclusion, we need to ask: If the brain and the physical world are both organized according to such principles, then in what way is the brain different from the types of physical theories that are already well-known? Why havent good theoretical physicists already solvedthe brain using known physical theories?

 

The brains universal measurement process can be expected to have a comparable impact on future science, once its implications are more broadly understood. Brain dynamics operate, however, above the quantum level, although they do so with remarkable efficiency, responding to just a few photons of light in the dark, and to faint sounds whose amplitude is just above the level of thermal noise in otherwise quiet spaces. Knowing more about how this exquisite tuning arose during evolution could provide important new information about the design of perceptual systems, no less than about how quantum processes interface with processes whose main interactions seem to be macroscopic.

 

In discussing the hierarchical feedback of the cortex and basal ganglia and the limbic system, Grossberg (2015) fluently cites both consciousness and volition as adaptive features of the brain as a self-organising system:

 

The basal ganglia control the gating of all phasic movements, including both eye movements and arm movements. Arm movements, unlike eye movements, can be made at variable speeds that are under volitional basal ganglia control. Arm movements realize the Three Ss of Movement Control; namely, Synergy, Synchrony, and Speed. … Many other brain processes can also be gated by the basal ganglia, whether automatically or through conscious volition. Several of these gating processes seem to regulate whether a top- down process subliminally primes or fully activates its target cells. As noted in Section 5.1, the ART Matching Rule enables the brain to dynamically stabilize learned memories using top-down attentional matching.

 

Such a volitionally-mediated shift enables top-down expectations, even in the absence of supportive bottom-up inputs, to cause conscious experiences of imagery and inner speech, and thereby to enable visual imagery, thinking, and planning activities to occur. Thus, the ability of volitional signals to convert the modulatory top-down priming signals into suprathreshold activations provides a great evolutionary advantage to those who possess it.

 

Such neurosystem models  provide key insights into how processes associated with intentional acts and the reinforcement of sensory experiences through complementary adaptive networks, model the neural correlate of conscious volitional acts and their smooth motor execution in the world at large. As they stand, these are still classical objective models that do not actually invoke conscious volition as experienced, but they do provide deep insight into the brain’s adaptive processes accompanying subjective conscious volition.

 

My critique, which this is clear and simple, is that these designs remove such a high proportion of the key physical principles involved in biological brain function that they can have no hope of modelling subjective consciousness or volition, despite the liberal use of these terms in the network designs, such as the basal ganglia as gateways. Any pure abstract neural net model, however much it adapts to “resonate" with biological systems is missing major fundamental formative physical principles of how brains actually work.

 

These include: 

(A)  The fact that biological neural networks are both biochemical and electrochemical in two ways (1) all electrochemical linkages, apart from gap junctions, work through the mediation of biochemical neurotransmitters and (2) the internal dynamics of individual neurons and glia are biochemical, not electrochemical. 

(B) The fact that the electrochemical signals are dynamic and involve sophisticated properties including both (1) unstable dynamics at the edge of chaos and (2) phase coherence tuning between continuous potential gradients and action potentials. 

(C) They involve both neurons and neuroglia working in complementary relationship. 

(D) They involve developmental processes of cell migration determining the global architecture of the brain including both differentiation by the influence of neurotransmitter type and chaotic excitation in early development.

(E) This neglects the fact that evolution of biological brains as neural networks is built on the excitatory neurotransmitter-driven social signalling and quantum sentience of single celled eucaryotes, forming an intimately coupled society of amoebo-flagellate cells communicating by the same neurotransmitters as in single-celled eucaryotes, so these underlying dynamics are fundamental and essential to biological neural net functionality.

 

Everything from simple molecules such as ATP acting as the energy currency of the cell, through protein folding, to enzymes involve quantum effects, such as tunnelling at active sites, and ion channels are at the same level.

 

It is only a step from there to recognising that such biological processes are actually fractal non-IID (not identically independently-distributed quantum processes, not converging to the classical, in the light of Gallego & Dakić (2021), because their defining contexts are continually evolving, to thus provide a causally open view of brain dynamics, in which the extra degree of freedom provided by consciousness, that complements objective physical computation, arises partly through quantum uncertainty itself, in conscious volition becoming subjectively manifest, and ensuring survival under uncertain environmental threats.

 

However, this is not just a rational or mechanistically causal process. We evolved from generation upon generation of organisms surviving existential threats in the wild, which were predominantly solved by lightning fast hunch and intuition, and never by rational thought alone, except recently and all too briefly in our cultural epoch.

 

The great existential crises have always been about surviving environmental threats which are not only computationally intractable due to exponentiating degrees of freedom, but computationally insoluble because they involve the interaction of live volitional agents, each consciously violating the rules of the game.

 

Conscious volition evolved to enable subjective living agents to make hunch-like predictions of their own survival in contexts where no algorithmic or deterministic process, including the nascent parallelism of the cortex, limbic system and basal ganglia that Steve Grossberg has drawn attention to, could suffice, other than to define boundary conditions on conscious choices of volitional action. Conscious intentional will, given these constraints, remained the critical factor, complementing computational predictivity generated through non-linear dynamics, best predicting survival of a living organism in the quantum universe, which is why we still possess it.

 

When we come to the enigma of subjective conscious anticipation and volition under survival threats, these are clearly, at the physiological level, the most ancient and most strongly conserved. Although the brains of vertebrates, arthropods and cephalopods show vast network differences, the underlying processes generating consciousness remain strongly conserved to the extent that baby spiders display clear REM features during sleep despite having no obvious neural net correspondence. While graded membrane excitation is universal to all eucaryotes and shared by human phagocytes and amoeba, including the genes for the poisons used to kill bacteria, the action potential appears to have evolved only in flagellate eucaryotes, as part of the flagellar escape response to existential threat, later exemplified by the group flagellation of our choano-flagellate ancestor colonies.

 

All brains are thus intimate societies of dynamically-coupled excitable cells (neurons and glia) communicating through these same molecular social signalling pathways that social single celled eucaryotes use. Both strategic intelligence and conscious volition as edge-of-chaos membrane excitation in global feedback thus arose long before brains and network designs emerged.

 

Just as circuit design models can have predictive value, so does subjective conscious volition of the excitable eucaryote cell have clear survival value in evolution and hence predictive power of survival under existential threat, both in terms of arbitrary sensitivity to external stimuli at the quantum level and neurotransmitter generated social decision-making of the collective organism. Thus the basis of what we conceive of as subjective conscious volition is much more ancient and longer and more strongly conserved than any individual network model of the vertebrate brain and underlies all attempts to form realistic network models.

 

Since our cultural emergence, Homo sapiens has been locked in a state of competitive survival against its own individuals, via Machiavellian intelligence, but broadly speaking, rationality – dependence on rational thought processes as a basis for adaption – just brings us closer to the machine learning of robots, rather than conscious volition. Steves representation of the mechanical aspects in the basal ganglia in Grossberg (2015) gives a good representation of how living neurosystems adaptively evolve to make the mechanical aspect of the neural correlate of conscious volition possible, but it says little about how we actually survive the tigers pounce, let alone the ultimate subtleties of human political intrigue, when the computational factor are ambiguous.. Likewise decision theory or prospect theory, as noted in Wikipedia, tells us only a relatively obvious asymmetric sigmoidal function describing how risk aversion helps us survive, essentially because being eaten rates more decisively in the cost stakes than any single square meal as a benefit.

 

Because proving physical causal closure of the universe in the context of brain dynamics is impossible to practically achieve in the quantum universe, physical materialism is itself not a scientific concept, so all attempts to model and understand conscious volition remain open and will continue to do so. The hard problem of consciousness is not a division between science and philosophy as Steve suggests in his (2021) book, but our very oracle of cosmological existence.

 

 

Hopeful Monster 1: Virtual Machines v Cartesian Theatres

 

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.

 

Lenore and Manuel Blum (2021) have developed a theoretical model of conscious awareness designed in relation to Baars' global workspace theory that applies as much to a computer as an organism:

 

Our view is that consciousness is a property of all properly organized computing systems, whether made of flesh and blood or metal and silicon. With this in mind, we give a simple abstract substrate-independent computational model of consciousness. We are not looking to model the brain nor to suggest neural correlates of consciousness, interesting as they are. We are looking to understand consciousness and its related phenomena.

 

Essentially the theory builds on the known feedbacks between peripheral unconscious processing and short term memory and the spotlight of conscious attention, paraphrasing these in purely computational terms, utilising a world model that is updated, notions corresponding to "feelings" and even "dream creation", in which a sleep processor alters the modality of informational chunking.

 

While it is possible to conceive of such analogous models it remains extremely unlikely that any such computational model can capture the true nature of subjective consciousness. By contrast with a Turing machine which operates discretely and serially on a single mechanistic scale, biological neurosystems operate continuously and discretely on fractal scales from the quantum level through molecular, subcellular dynamics up to global brains states, so it remains implausible in the extreme that such computational systems however complex in structural design can replicate organismic subjective consciousness. The same considerations apply to artificial neural net designs which lack the fractal edge of chaos dynamic of biological neurosystems.

 

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 universal status over rational or verbal thought.

 

Consciousness and Broad Integrated Processing: The Global Neuronal Workspace (GNW) model

 

Stanislas Dehaene and Jean-Pierre Changeux (2008, 2011) have combined experimental studies and theoretical models, including Baars' global workspace theory to address the challenge of establishing a causal link between subjective conscious experience and measurable neuronal activity in the form of the the Global Neuronal Workspace (GNW) model according to which conscious access occurs when incoming information is made globally available to multiple brain systems through a network of neurons with long-range axons densely distributed in prefrontal, parieto-temporal, and cingulate cortices.

 

Converging neuroimaging and neurophysiological data, acquired during minimal experimental contrasts between conscious and nonconscious processing, point to objective neural measures of conscious access: late amplification of relevant sensory activity, long-distance cortico-cortical synchronization at beta and gamma frequencies, and ‘ignition’ i.e. "lighting up" of a large-scale prefronto-parietal network. By contrast, as shown in fig 28, states of reduced consciousness have large areas of cortical metabolic deactivation.

 

Fig 27b: Both fMRI (1) and (2) EEG/MEG data, show broad activation across diverse linked cortical regions, when non-conscious processing rises to the conscious level. Likewise local feed forward propagation (3) leads to reverberating cortical connections. These influences are combined in the GRW model (4) in which Baars’ global workspace theatre becomes a more precisely defined model attempting to solve several of the easier problems of consciousness into a globally resonant network theory.

 

In conclusion, the authors look ahead to the quest of understanding the conscious brain and what it entails:

 

The present review was deliberately limited to conscious access. Several authors argue, however, for additional, higher-order concepts of consciousness. For Damasio and Meyer (2009), core consciousness of incoming sensory information requires integrating it with a sense of self (the specific subjective point of view of the perceiving organism) to form a representation of how the organism is modified by the information; extended consciousness occurs when this representation is additionally related to the memorized past and anticipated future (see also Edelman, 1989). For Rosenthal (2004), a higher-order thought, coding for the very fact that the organism is currently representing a piece of information, is needed for that information to be conscious. Indeed, metacognition, or the ability to reflect upon thoughts and draw judgements upon them is often proposed as a crucial ingredient of consciousness. In humans, as opposed to other animals, consciousness may also involve the construction of a verbal narrative of the reasons for our behavior (Gazzaniga et al., 1977).

 

Fig 28b: Top: Conscious brain states are commonly associated with phase correlated global cortical activity. Conscious brain activity in healthy controls is contrasted with diminished cortical connectivity of excitation in unaware and minimally conscious states (Demertzi et al. 2019).  Bottom: Reduced metabolism during loss of consciousness (Dehaene & Changeux J 2011).

 

In the future, as argued by Haynes (2009), the mapping of conscious experiences onto neural states will ultimately require not only a neural distinction between seen and not-seen trials, but also a proof that the proposed conscious neural state actually encodes all the details of the participant’s current subjective experience. Criteria for a genuine one-to-one mapping should include verifying that the proposed neural state has the same perceptual stability (for instance over successive eye movements) and suffers from the same occasional illusions as the subject’s own report.

 

However, decoding the more intermingled neural patterns expected from PFC and other associative cortices is clearly a challenge for future research. Another important question concerns the genetic mechanisms that, in the course of biological evolution, have led to the development of the GNW architecture, particularly the relative expansion of PFC, higher associative cortices, and their underlying long-distance white matter tracts in the course of hominization. Finally, now that measures of conscious processing have been identified in human adults, it should become possible to ask how they transpose to lower animal species and to human infants and fetuses.

 

In "A better way to crack the brain”, Mainen, Häusser & Pouget (2016) cite novel emerging technologies such as optogenetics as tools likely to eclipse the overriding emphasis on electrical networking data, but at the same time illustrate the enormity of the challenge of neuroscience attempting to address consciousness as a whole.

 

Some sceptics point to the teething problems of existing brain initiatives as evidence that neuroscience lacks well-defined objectives, unlike high-energy physics, mathematics, astronomy or genetics.

In our view, brain science, especially systems neuroscience (which tries to link the activity of sets of neurons to behaviour) does not want for bold, concrete goals. Yet large-scale initiatives have tended to set objectives that are too vague and not realistic, even on a ten-year timescale.

 

Fig 27c: Optogenetic images of pyramidal cells in a rodent cortex.

 

Several advances over the past decade have made it vastly more tractable to solve funda- mental problems such as how we recognize objects or make decisions. Researchers can now monitor and manipulate patterns of activity in large neuronal ensembles, thanks to new technologies in molecular engineering, micro-electronics and computing. For example, a combination of advanced optical imaging and optogenetics can now read and write patterns of activity into populations of neurons. It is also possible to relate firing patterns to the biology of the neurons being recorded, including their genetics and connectivity.

 

 

Several advances over the past decade have made it vastly more tractable to solve fundamental problems such as how we recognize objects or make decisions. Researchers can now monitor and manipulate patterns of activity in large neuronal ensembles, thanks to new technologies in molecular engineering, micro- electronics and computing. For example, a combination of advanced optical imaging and optogenetics can now read and write patterns of activity into populations of neurons . It is also possible to relate firing patterns to the biology of the neurons being recorded, including their genetics and connectivity.

 

However none of these are coming even close to stitching together a functional view of brain processing that comes anywhere near to solving the hard problem or even establishing causal closure of the universe in the context of brain function, given the extreme difficulty of verifying classical causality in every brain process and the quantum nature of all brain processes at the molecular level. Future prospects for solving the hard problem via the easy ones thus remain unestablished.

 

Epiphenomenalism, Conscious Volition and Free Will

 

Thomas Kuhn (19221996) is perhaps the most influential philosopher of science of the twentieth century. His book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (Kuhn 1962) is one of the most cited academic books of all time.  A particularly important part of Kuhns thesis focuses upon the consensus on exemplary instances of scientific research. These exemplars of good science are what Kuhn refers to when he uses the term paradigmin a narrower sense. He cites Aristotles analysis of motion, Ptolemys computations of plantery positions, Lavoisiers application of the balance, and Maxwells mathematization of the electromagnetic field as paradigms (ibid, 23). According to Kuhn the development of a science is not uniform but has alternating ‘normal’ and revolutionary(or extraordinary) phases in which paradigm shifts occur.

 

Rejecting a teleological view of science progressing towards the truth, Kuhn favours an evolutionary view of scientific progress (1962/1970a, 1703). The evolutionary development of an organism might be seen as its response to a challenge set by its environment. But that does not imply that there is some ideal form of the organism that it is evolving towards. Analogously, science improves by allowing its theories to evolve in response to puzzles and progress is measured by its success in solving those puzzles; it is not measured by its progress towards to an ideal true theory. While evolution does not lead towards ideal organisms, it does lead to greater diversity of kinds of organism. This is the basis of a Kuhnian account of specialisation in science in which the revolutionary new theory that succeeds in replacing another that is subject to crisis, may fail to satisfy all the needs of those working with the earlier theory. One response to this might be for the field to develop two theories, with domains restricted relative to the original theory (one might be the old theory or a version of it).

 

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.

 

Fig 28c: 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.

 

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!

 

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.

 

The way paradigm shifts can occur can be no more starkly illustrated than in the way in which epiphenomenalism, behaviourism and pure materialism, including reductionism came to dominate the scientific view of reality and the conscious mind.

 

Fig 28d: A decapitated frog uses its right foot to try to remove burning acid
but when it is cut off it uses its left, although having no brain.

 

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. Huxley’s essay likewise 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. Non-efficacious mental events are referred to in this essay as collateral productsof their physical causes.

 

Klein (2021), in continuing paragraphs, notes that the story begins with Eduard Pflüger’s 1853 experiments showing that some decapitated vertebrates exhibit behaviour it is tempting to call purposive. The results were controversial because purposive behaviour had long been regarded as a mark of consciousness. Those who continued to think it was such a mark had to count a pithed frog and presumably, a chicken running around with its head cut off as conscious. You can see such ideas echoing today in theories such as Solms and Friston's (2018) brain-stem based model of consciousness.

 

But this view opened the way for epiphenomenalism: just as pithed frogs seem to act with purpose even though their behaviour is not really guided by phenomenal consciousness, so intact human behaviours may seem purposive without really being guided by phenomenal consciousness.

 

Fig 28e: Representation of consciousness from the seventeenth
century by Robert Fludd, an English Paracelsian physician
.

 

Descartes had famously contended that living animals might be like machines in the sense of being non-conscious organisms all of whose behaviours are produced strictly mechanistically. Those in the seventeenth and eighteenth century who adopted a broadly Cartesian approach to animal physiology are often called mechanists, and their approach is typically contrasted with so-called animists. What separated the two groups was the issue of whether and to what extent the mechanical principles of Newton and Boyle could account for the functioning of living organisms.

 

Even for those more inclined towards mechanism, though, animistic tendencies still underlay much physiological thinking throughout the early modern period. For instance, Giovanni Borelli (16081679) had developed a mechanistic account of how the heart pumps blood. But even Borelli gave the soul a small but important role in this motion. Borelli contended that the unpleasant accumulation of blood in the heart of the preformed embryo would be perceived by the sentient faculty(facultas sensitiva) of the soul through the nerves, which would then prompt the ventricle to contract. Only after the process was thus initiated would the circulation continue mechanistically, as a kind of physical, acquired habit. But the ultimate cause of this motion was the soul.

 

Now, suppose one accepts purposive behaviour as a mark of consciousness (or sensation, or volition, or all of these). Then one arrives at a surprising result indeed that the brainless frog, properly prepared, remains a conscious agent. Of course, there is a lot riding on just what is meant by consciousness’, ‘sensation, and volition. Pflüger himself often wrote about the decapitated frogs supposed consciousness(Bewusstsein), but was rather loose and poetic in spelling out what that term was to mean. Still, his general thesis was clear enough: that in addition to the brain, the spinal cord is also an organ that independently produces consciousness. One controversial implication is that consciousness itself may be divisible (and so literally extended; see Huxley, 1870 5–6) – it may exist in various parts of the nervous system, even in a part of the spinal cord that has been divided from the brain (Fearing 1930 162–3).

 

Lotzes thought was that these behaviours seem purposive only because they are complex. If we allow that the nervous system can acquire complex, reflexive actions through bodily learning, then we can maintain that these behaviours are mechanically determined, and not guided or accompanied by any phenomenal consciousness. The difficulty with this response is that pithed frogs find ways to solve physical challenges they cannot be supposed to have faced before being pithed. For instance, suppose one places a pithed frog on its back, holds one leg straight up, perpendicular to the body, and irritates the leg with acid. The pithed frog will then raise the other leg to the same, odd position so as to be able to wipe away the irritant (Huxley 1870 3). Huxley also reports that a frog that is pithed above the medulla oblongata (but below the cerebellum) loses the ability to jump, even though the frog with the brain stem and cerebellum both intact is able to perform this action, at least in response to irritation. A frog pithed just below the cerebrum can see, swallow, jump, and swim, though still will typically move only if prompted by an outer stimulus (Huxley 1870 3–4).

 

Now what does Lewes mean by sensationand volition’?   

 

Do what we will, we cannot altogether divest Sensibility of its psychological con- notations, cannot help interpreting it in terms of Consciousness; so that even when treating of sensitive phenomena observed in molluscs and insects, we always imagine these more or less suffused with Feeling, as this is known in our own conscious states.  (Lewes 1877 188–9)

 

He saw that one must first settle an important issue before it is possible to interpret these experiments. He wrote, “we have no proof, rigorously speaking, that any animal feels; none that any human being feels; we conclude that men feel, from certain external manifestations, which resemble our own, under feeling; and we conclude that animals feel on similar grounds.”

 

Now, inasmuch as the actions of animals furnish us with our sole evidence for the belief in their feeling, and this evidence is universally considered as scientifically valid, it is clear that similar actions in decapitated animals will be equally valid; and when I speak of proof, it is in this sense. Spontaneity and choice are two signs which we all accept as conclusive of sensation and volition. (Lewes 1859 237–8).

  

Does Pflüger’s experiment prove that there is sensation or volition in the pithed frog? We cannot tell, Lewes suggests, until we first settle on some third-person-accessible mark of sensation and volition. And the marks Lewes proposes are spontaneity and choice.

 

For Lewes, every physiological change is in some sense sensory, and every physiological change thereby influences the stream of Consciousness, however slightly.

 

Thomas Huxley (1874) offered the most influential and provocative version of the conscious automaton theory in an address in Belfast. According to this view, consciousness, synonymous with Lewes’ ‘sensationaccompanies the body without acting on it, just as the steam-whistle which accompanies the work of a locomotive engine is without influence upon its machinery. Conscious states are continually being caused by brain states from moment to moment, on this view, but are themselves causally inert. In other words, although Huxley accepted the existence of sensation, he rejected the existence of volition(as Lewes had used that word). This is an early form of epiphenomenalism.

 

Pflüger and Lewes had indeed established the existence of purposive behaviour in pithed frogs, Huxley readily conceded (Huxley 1874 223). But since it is absurd (according to Huxley) to think the behaviour of brainless frogs is under conscious control, the correct lesson to draw from Pflüger and Lewesresults was that purposive actions are not sufficient to establish volition. In fact, Huxley evidently was unwilling to accept the existence of any behavioural mark of either sensation or volition.

 

It must indeed be admitted, that, if any one think fit to maintain that the spinal cord below the injury is conscious, but that it is cut off from any means of making its consciousness known to the other consciousness in the brain, there is no means of driving him from his position by logic. But assuredly there is no way of proving it, and in the matter of consciousness, if in anything, we may hold by the rule, De non apparentibus et de non existentibus eadem est ratio’ [‘what does not appear and what does not exist have the same evidence’].

(Huxley, 1874, 220)

 

The mechanist’s dilemma is the following ‘paradox’:

 

A: If one accepts any behavioural mark of sensation and volition, then the experimental data will force us to attribute sensation and volition to both decapitated and intact vertebrates alike.

B: If one rejects the existence of a behavioural mark, then one has no grounds for ascribing sensation or volition to either decapitated or intact vertebrates.

 

Huxleys pronouncement piggybacks on the position he took in the mechanist’s dilemma. His claim that spinal consciousness cannot be observed amounts to the claim that such a consciousness cannot be observed first-personally. But that is the crux of the mechanist’s dilemma.  

 

Huxley nevertheless was reverential of the contribution made by Rene Descartes in understanding the physiology of the brain and body:

 

The first proposition culled from the works of Descartes which I have to lay before you, is one which will sound very familiar. It is the view, which he was the first, so far as I know, to state, not only definitely, but upon sufficient grounds, that the brain is the organ of sensation, of thought, and of emotion-using the word "organ" in this sense, that certain changes which take place in the matter of the brain are the essential antecedents of those states of consciousness which we term sensation, thought and emotion. ... It remained down to the time of Bichat [150 years later] a question of whether the passions were or were not located in the abdominal viscera. In the second place, Descartes lays down the proposition that all movements of animal bodies are affected by a change in form. of a certain part of the matter of their bodies, to which he applies the general term of muscle.

 

The process of reasoning by which Descartes arrived at this startling conclusion is well shown in the following passage of the “Réponses:”– But as regards the souls of beasts, although this is not the place for considering them, and though, without a general exposition of physics, I can say no more on this subject than I have already said in the fifth part of my Treatise on Method; yet, I will further state, here, that it appears to me to be a very remarkable circumstance that no movement can take place, either in the bodies of beasts, or even in our own, if these bodies have not in themselves all the organs and instruments by means of which the very same movements would be accomplished in a machine. So that, even in us, the spirit, or the soul, does not directly move the limbs, but only determines the course of that very subtle liquid which is called the animal spirits, which, running continually from the heart by the brain into the muscles, is the cause of all the movements of our limbs, and often may cause many different motions, one as easily as the other.

 

Descartesline of argument is perfectly clear. He starts from reflex action in man, from the unquestionable fact that, in ourselves, co-ordinate, purposive, actions may take place, without the intervention of consciousness or volition, or even contrary to the latter. As actions of a certain degree of complexity are brought about by mere mechanism, why may not actions of still greater complexity be the result of a more refined mechanism? What proof is there that brutes are other than a superior race of marionettes, which eat without pleasure, cry without pain, desire nothing, know nothing, and only simulate intelligence as a bee simulates a mathematician? ... Suppose that only the anterior division of the brainso much of it as lies in front of the optic lobes” – is removed. If that operation is performed quickly and skilfully, the frog may be kept in a state of full bodily vigour for months, or it may be for years; but it will sit unmoved. It sees nothing: it hears nothing. It will starve sooner than feed itself, although food put into its mouth is swallowed. On irritation, it jumps or walks; if thrown into the water it swims.

 

Klein (2018) notes that he crux of the paradigm shift was the competing research by the opposing groups and the way in which their research successes at the time led to success:

 

But by the time of the Lewes contribution from 1877, the question was no longer whether this one subset of muscular action could be accounted for purely mechanistically. Now, the question had become whether the mechan- istic approach to reflex action might be expanded to cover all muscular action. Lewes wrote that the Reflex Theoryhad become a strategy where one attempted to specify the elementary parts involvedin every physiological function without ever appealing to Sensation and Volition(Lewes, Problems of Life and Mind, 354).24

 

That the majority of physiological opinion by the close of the century was in favor of the position of Pflüger’s opponents seems certain, Fearing writes. Mechanistic physiology and psychology was firmly seated in the saddle(Fearing, 1930, 185).

 

The concept of a mechanistic reflex arc came to dominate not just physiology, but psychology too. The behaviourist B. F. Skinner, for example, wrote his 1930 doctoral dissertation on how to expand the account of reflex action to cover all behaviour, even the behaviour of healthy organisms. Through the innovations of people like Skinner and, before him, Pavlov, behaviourism would establish itself as the dominant research paradigm.

 

Cannon (1911, 38) gave no real argument for why students should not regard purposive movement as a mark of genuine volition (beyond a quick gesture at Lotzes long-discredited retort to Pflüger). Without citing any actual experiments, Cannon simply reported, as settled scientific fact, that purposiveness does not entail intended action:

 

Purposive movements are not necessarily intended movements. It is probable that reaction directed with apparent purposefulness is in reality an automatic repetition of movements developed for certain effects in the previous experience of the intact animal. (ibid)

 

Enshrining the concept of pure behaviourism, and reductionism more generally Gilbert Ryle (1949) claimed 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 rejected 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. According to Ryle, the classical theory of mind, or "Cartesian rationalism," makes a basic category mistake (a new logical fallacy Ryle himself invented), as it attempts to analyze the relation between "mind" and "body" as if they were terms of the same logical category. 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.”  However Ryle was not regarded as a philosophical behaviourist and writes that the "general trend of this book will undoubtedly, and harmlessly, be stigmatised as ‘behaviourist’."

 

Cartesianism is "dead" in only one of its ontological aspects. Substance dualism may have been repudiated but property dualism still claims a number of contemporary defenders. Furthermore, although Descartes embraced a form of substance dualism, in the sense that the pineal acted in response to the soul by making small movements that initiated wider responses in the brain, the pineal is still a biological entity, so the category error is misconceived. His description is remarkably similar to instabilities in brain dynamics potentially inducing global changes in brain dynamics. Compounded with the inability of materialism to solve the hard problem, science is thus coming full circle.

 

But Ryle’s rejection of Cartesian dualism led to a second paradigm shift in which molecular biology, succeeding Watson and Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA, led to ever more effective ‘laying bare’ of all biological processes including the brain, accompanied by new technologies of multi-electrode EEG and MEG and functional fMRI imaging using magnetic resonance imaging. So that subjective consciousness became effectively ignored in the cascade of purely functionalist results of how human brain dynamics occurs.

 

Anil Seth (2018) notes:

 

The relationship between subjective conscious experience and its biophysical basis has always been a defining question for the mind and brain sciences. But, at various times since the beginnings of neuroscience as a discipline, the explicit study of consciousness has been either treated as fringe or excluded altogether. Looking back over the past 50 years, these extremes of attitude are well represented. Roger Sperry (1969, 532), pioneer of split-brain operations and of what can now be called consciousness sciencelamented in 1969 that most behavioral scientists today, and brain researchers in particular, have little use for consciousness. Presciently, in the same article he highlighted the need for new technologies able to record the pattern dynamics of brain activityin elucidating the neural basis of consciousness. Indeed, modern neuroimaging methods have had a transformative impact on consciousness science, as they have on cognitive neuroscience generally.

 

Informally, consciousness science over the last 50 years can be divided into two epochs. From the mid-1960s until around 1990 the fringe view held sway, though with several notable exceptions. Then, from the late 1980s and early 1990s, first a trickle and more recently a deluge of research into the brain basis of consciousness, a transition catalysed by among other things the activities of certain high-profile scientists (e.g. the Nobel laureates Francis Crick and Gerald Edelman) and by the maturation of modern neuroimaging methods, as anticipated by Sperry.

 

Symbiotic cosmology, based on complementary, unlike a strictly dualist description, 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 world 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 decisions 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.

 

Hopeful Monster 2: Consciousness and Surviving in the Wild v Attention Schema Theory

 

Real world survival problems in the open environment don’t necessarily have a causally-closed or even a computationally tractable solution, due to exponential runaway like the travelling salesman problem, 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  computations depending on reasoned memory are unreliable because the adversaries can also adapt their strategies and tactics to frustrate the calculations. 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 possessed by subjective consciousness 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 cognitive processes of verbal discourse.

 

Michael Graziano’s (2016, 2017, Webb & Graziano 2015), attention schema theory, or AST, self-described as a mechanistic account of subjective awareness 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 laid bare in tooth and claw.

 

However, this presents the idea that subjective consciousness and volitional will are a self-fulfilling evolutionary delusion so that the author believes AST as a purely mechanistic principle could in principle be extended to a machine without the presence of subjective consciousness: “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).

 

Yet AST is a type of filter theory similar to Huxley’s ideas about consciousness, so it invokes a principle of neural organisation that is consistent with and complementary to subjective consciousness: “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 the one easy problem it addresses, about recursive attention. 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 de-subjectifying  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.

 

These 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 environmental reality. His inability to distinguish organismic consciousness from AI is evidenced in Graziano (2017)  where he sets out AST as a basis for biologically realisable artificial intelligence systems.

 

The actual answer to this apparent paradox that leaves our confidence in our conscious volition in tatters, is that the two processes, neural net attention schemes and subjective consciousness have both been selected by evolution to ensure survival of the organism from existential threats and they have done so as complementary processes. Organismic brains evolved from the excitable sentience of single-celled eucaryotes and their social signalling molecules that became our neurotransmitters a billion yers after these same single-celled eucaryotes had to solve just these problems of growth and survival in the open environment. Brains are thus built as an intimately coupled society of eucaryote excitable cells communicating by both electrochemical and biochemical means via neurotransmitters, in such a way that the network process is an evolutionary elaboration of the underlying cellular process, both of which have been conserved by natural selection because both contribute to organismic survival by anticipating existential threats.

 

This is the only possible conclusion, because the presence of attention schemae does not require the manifestation of subjective consciousness to the conscious participant unless that too plays an integral role in survival of the organism.  Indeed an artificial neural net with recursive schemes would do just that and have no consciousness implied, as it would be superfluous to energy demands unless it had selective advantage.

 

In "Homo Prospectus" (Seligman et al. 2016), which asserts 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.

  

Hopeful Monster 3: Consciousness as Integrated Information

 

Fig 30: 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 in the cosmologyy 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 31: 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).

 

Hopeful Monster 4: 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 32: 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.

 

Hopeful Monsters 5: 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, so the description is simply a thermodynamic recasting, which is insightful, but not empirically demonstrated in any proof-of-principle examples.

 

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.

 

Fig 33: 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 34: 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.

 

In a recent development (Kourehpaz et al. 2022), the arrow of time and the Boltzman distribution associated with thermodynamic entropy, which doesn't exist in quantum systems, which are entirely time-reversible has been attributed to quantum chaos, thus meaning quantum reality and chaos are essential to the concept of thermodynamic time flow.

 

An interesting example of applying quantum processes to teleodynamic ideas is that of Roman Poznanski and coworkers (Poznanski et al. 2019a, b). Here they invoke a quantum process invoking a variety of speculative quasi-particle like phenomena:

 

Quantum chemistry underpins the so-called ‘quantum underground’ where consciousness originates. Due to inherent uncertainty in electron localization, the weakest type of Van der Waals force, the so-called London force, exhibit quantum effects and the resultant dipole oscillations (see Hameroff (2008) for a review). London forces are quantum level instantaneous, but weak, induced dipole-induced dipole couplings, due to charge separation resulting in attractive Coulomb forces occurring between nonpolar π-electron resonance clouds of two or more neutral atoms, molecules or macromolecules.  

 

We also assume that guidance waves and their resultant thermo-quantum fluctuations govern subtle internal energy leading to hierarchical thermodynamic transfer of information in the realm of preconscious. What is transferred from the macroquantum realm to the classical realm is information (theoretic) entropy as thermo-qubits containing information on the phase relations between molecular dipole-bound electron clouds of multiple systems.

 

Fig 35: Left:  (Top left) a neuronal branchlet studded with spines and (top right) shows a nonsynaptic spine shaft containing cytoskeletal molecular proteins bound to actin filament networks within the spine shaft of uniform length. The quantized subspace is where pilot-waves originate at picometer scale ( 0.1 nm) within apolar hydrophobic regions of actin-binding proteins shown (bottom left) form clathrate-like structures with water molecules. The electron clouds at 10 pico-meter scale (bottom right) is an order of magnitude smaller than most chemistry transformations and measurements and therefore below physical chemistry.  Right: There is a critical difference between identity theory (mind = brain) above and externalism (cosmic consciousness interacting with the brain) below. The brain only view if conscious space prevents any form of cosmic mind.

 

This process is illustrated in fig 34b, where a similar quantum process to Hameroff and Penrose, using the London force is invoked on the dendritic web. Specific exceptional quantum processes are thus invoked which may not prove to exist. The “classical realm” is cited, as if it is a separate physical realm, when the entire process of dynamics is quantum non-IID.  These do not couple to subjective consciousness, because they are just forms of hypothetical “information” in the brain dynamics acting as a cypher for consciousness, which is then considered irrelevant, in a form of “eliminativism” in favour of thermo-quantum teleology.

 

The information we are discussing is intrinsic in the sense that it remains ‘hidden’ from the operational explanations of cognitive capacities. It is neither quantum information nor integrated information, but interconnected ‘intrinsic’ information associated with the internal thermo-quantum fluctuations that arise due to guidance waves transferring thermo-quantum internal energy by means of the macro-quantum potential.

 

This becomes clear in (Poznanski et al. 2019c) where, in stating “against externalism” in the title, the teleodynamic process identifies itself with brain-mind identity theory against any cosmic mind description, even if consistent with dynamics of the default mode, drawn together in the name of dialectical materialism:

 

The difficulty in locating the mental states which are attributed to brain activity is explored in this paper through nonreductive physicalism, which claims that all mental phenomena can be explained by the functioning of their neurobiological correlates through information. That is, higher level of brain functioning with different properties with respect to their constituents emerges and influences causally brain activity. This is not emerging reductionism-unlike in philosophy of mind, we do not subscribe to different ontology from DiaMat (dialectical materialism), which claims that consciousness is not an immaterial spirit. How this happens is the notion of teleofunctional components with intrinsic information of the material component that includes activity in brain structure. This differs from externalism as shown in the figure through proto-consciousness or cosmic consciousness interacting with brain’s neural dynamics.

 

We are reduced to physical materialism, so the purpose and utility of the thermo-quantum extension is moot. I also find the definitions and concepts to be metaphorical descriptions rather than a verifiable scientific theory:

 

It is usual to note that teleofunctions are distinct from the causal-role functions involved in functionalism. For example, with ordinary function the elements are irrelevant, while in teleofunction they are relevant because the function concerns what something is for and the notion of what something was selected for counts. This is a “teleological” notion of function, which can be minimally defined as the activity of the structure. Moreover, teleofunctions carry a value judgment or ‘meaning’ (unlike ordinary function, which carry only action or resultant effect). There is meaning attached to the interconnectedness of intrinsic information content of mental states and their interrelationship during the unification process. … The integration of brain functions results in a new category because of the functionally-linked continuum that is referred to as teleosemantic hierarchy of intrinsic content of brain states. Since the quantum realm is characterized by indeterminism, i.e., non-causal effects, this is incongruent to nonreductive physicalism where quantum mechanisms must be acausal. The unification of mental states associated with the brain’s hierarchical organization allows quantum-like causality to take on a subtle role in the brain leading to teleofunctionality. The unification of mental states arises from the teleosemantic hierarchy of interconnected intrinsic information content of mental states.

 

In Poznanski & Brändas (2020) the authors provide a sweeping philosophical justification to support their thesis, now described as pan-experiential materialism. The use of experiential is a misnomer because the authors state that panexperiential materialism claims that the mental–immaterial realm, just like the physical world, can be derived from matter waves, in an attempt to explain preconscious activity by an unproven claim of certain kinds of activity in the brain attribute "meaning" through thermo-teleodynamics. This forecloses on experiential consciousness, by claiming it is a distorted superstructural perspective on a deeper pre-conscious dynamic arising from the quantum thermal milieu and pure information gaining "meaning", using a purely objective physicalist description to use the brain's ability to use subconscious processing that may rise to conscious attention of it is coherently relevant, to devalue the core role of subjective consciousness. It ends up claiming to solve the hard problem in a sleight of hand of quasiparticle-enhanced pure materialism.

 

Roman in personal communication 5 Jul 2022 specifically concedes these quasi-particles cannot be empirically validated, but are nevertheless in reality subjectively first person conscious :

 

The quasiparticles in the brain are not capable of being observed.
The complex nature of these signals makes them a theoretical petri dish but they are 1pp in reality .

 

In Poznanski & Brändas (2020) the authors provide a sweeping philosophical justification to support their thesis, now described as pan-experiential materialism. The use of experiential is a misnomer because the authors state that panexperiential materialism claims that the mental–immaterial realm, just like the physical world, can be derived from matter waves, in an attempt to explain preconscious activity by an unproven claim of certain kinds of activity in the brain attribute "meaning" through thermo-teleodynamics. This forecloses on experiential consciousness, by claiming it is a distorted superstructural perspective on a deeper pre-conscious dynamic arising from the quantum thermal milieu and pure information gaining "meaning", using a purely objective physicalist description to use the brain's ability to use subconscious processing that may rise to conscious attention of it is coherently relevant, to devalue the core role of subjective consciousness. It ends up claiming to solve the hard problem in a sleight of hand of quasiparticle-enhanced pure materialism.

 

The last publication, Poznanski et al. (2022) extends this description to give it more detailed theoretical support. I remain cautious to sceptical about the scientific verifiability of this overall construction. Many of the descriptions are speculative, unverified and circularly self-fulfilling. The authors cite Bohmian mechanics extended to molecules, but Bohmian mechanics is inconsistent with particle creation and annihilation which bond formation and breakage involves. I thus have issues about the verifiability of the sub-molecular thermo-teleoquantum description and its assuming of the role of 1pp experiencability, in a purely materialistic teleological form, which effectively denies subjective conscious volition over the physical universe and thus becomes a form of preconscious epiphenomenalism:

 

Experienceability is the capacity for an experience that occurs preconsciously and serves as an affective function that explains experience as a testament of consciousness. We base our model on the meaning of the feeling-as-information hypothesis suggesting that evanescent meaning arises from patterns of intrinsic information-carrying physical feelings. In other words, evanescent meaning as information gives form to feelings, meaning sentience as the capacity of feeling. Since the information is intrinsic, physical or raw feelings are hidden from phenomenal introspection. ... Preconscious experienceability is realized physical feelings with vast numbers of atomic microfeels formed as physical feelings (holons) in informational holarchies.

 

This is then identified with π-orbital electrons, but all heterocyclic molecules, from nucleic acid bases, through  tryptophan to the porphyrin ring have delocalised electrons. They are integral to all biological processes. To identify experiencability with π-orbital electrons in a specicalised brain dynamic is facile and confining to other processes:

 

The feeling-as-information hypothesis can be applied to nonpolar hydrophobic regions, which are non- electrolytic regions of fatty acids and intersect with lipophilic membrane proteins' domains of mainly partially holistic amino acid units. Here holistic is defined as the molecular wave function expressed over many delocalized electrons where parts of molecules are partially holistic with a specific internal energy that keeps it together by canceling the classical potential energy and, as shown in long-range order in a thermalized milieu must partially keep π-electrons phase differences in the self-organized molecular orbital only in the absence of classical potential energy.

 

The same problem occurs with the discussion of quantum entanglement:

 

Our theory posits that nonlocal holonomy results from negentropic entanglement of nonintegrated information through the ‘negentropic force’. Therefore, there can be no "spooky action," and nonlocal holonomy in brains is through negentropic entanglement. The nonintegrated information juxtaposes several mechanisms on the quantum / classical regime boundary.

 

The explanatory gap between subjective consciousness and neurodynamics is now explained through classical information:

 

We have proposed a solution to close the explanatory gap. Classical information theory measures the decrease in uncertainty, for example, when consciousness ends, and memory begins. The spontaneous potentialities are environmentally influenced. Intrinsic information is Fisher’s information that relies on uncertainty and, at the fundamental level, comprises negentropic influences that carry molecular-embedded microfeels of meanings that comprise semantic information at a large scale. This latter process involves the capacity of negentropically interconnected partially holistic molecules to mutually affect, i.e., in-form, each other. This is the basis of negentropic entanglement. Although we propose a molecular approach, there is a problem with coupled process structures, in-forming each other on all levels of a neural organization. A dual-aspect theory of information, where one is classical and non-classical, is a wedge to close the exploratory gap between the mind and the body.

 

Quantum models of consciousness are then incorrectly discarded in favour of “evanescent molecular micro-feels”:

 

Finally, quantum models of consciousness are unrealistic from a biological perspective because the brain is an open quantum system. As Tegmark criticized the Orch OR model, the wave function has rapid decoherence. Our model is based on dissipative phenomena and does not suffer the same problems as other quantum models. No informational field continuously and permanently gives off the "radiance of consciousness". What we postulated are molecular-embedded microfeels that are evanescent. Therefore, by our definition, consciousness represents quanta of information (i.e., the temporal waveform in phase-space) that in each moment actualizes into conscious experience certain selections of the unconscious molecular embedded microfeels that, for long periods, resting in potentiality, constitute the preconscious experienceability.

 

I provisionally accept that that living systems may exhibit a degree of short-term teleodynamics, particularly arising from their evolutionary context, but I see it as a limited necessary but insufficient condition for conscious existence. The authors may be speculating on plausible sub-molecular processes that underly normal brain functioning, consistent with an interface to, and potentially informative about, subjective consciousness, but whether these explain the hard problem or the existential nature of existence remains unestablished.

 

All such purely materialistic descriptions of consciousness fail the manifestation test. Subjective consciousness is primary and incontrovertibly manifest, while physical reality is inferred through it. Thus for an objective description to lay claim to sweep aside the manifest nature of subjective reality is an artifice. It illustrates why attempting to form models of consciousness without addressing the root cosmological status of consciousness itself can frustrate the discovery process. By attempting to form a model which lays claim to the properties of subjective consciousness while denying its existential status, a root fallacy is created. Yes it then does seem plausible to opt for a form of brain-mind identity over any seemingly implausible notion of externalism (cosmic consciousness interacting with the brain).

 

That is why I immediately in June last year came to the necessity of a cosmology, in which subjective and objective reality are complements within a single whole, exemplified by nature itself as a climax process and elaborate the description in full empirical detail from there. We all start from conscious experience as a universal reality and infer the physical universe and its physical descriptions from our consensus consciousness of it. Once we accept subjective consciousness as cosmological in ’nature', the very existence of the subjective mind IS cosmological in nature and assumes it’s natural place without physical contrivance.

 

We know that empiricism is established, both by verifiable empirical observation and by affirmative empirical experience and the semantic notion of empiricism arose this way, because it is naturally evoked in the human mind’s world view. Hence the proposition that subjective conscious volition has efficacy over the physical universe is a natural immediately verifiable statement of our existential condition, manifest as I consciously write this passage.

 

Fig 35b: Hippocampal non-rhythmic synchronisation and phase precession (Eliav et al. 2018),

see also (Qasim et al. 2021) fig 26(4).

 

I have an understanding of consciousness and sub- or un-conscious processing that arises from brain dynamics. This is not to put a physicalist gloss on it at all, since I accept subjective consciousness as primary and without it I don't think the universe can become manifest. Conscious brain states consist of global phase angle modulated excitations that are interacting with more diverse excitations that are phase decoherent to sufficient extent that these processes remain local and don't necessarily participate in the central "theatre" of conscious experience but remain a resource that is able to and will do so if either the global dynamic changes, or the local one becomes more coherent with the global. I see this view as productively useful, as it explains consciousness as a central arena having ready access to subconscious levels of processing. It allows edge-of-chaos dynamics to be phase tuned as well as harmonic oscillations as exemplified in the bat hippocampus (Eliav et al. 2018) and in cortical phase relationships in psychedelic studies (Muthukumaraswamy et al. 2013, Tagliazucchi et al. 2016, Toker et al. 2022).

 

We now come to the scientific description of the super-conscious state, there is obviously a physical dimension to it –  if I enter a meditative or entheogenic–contemplative moksha, I can happily understand and describe this neurophysiologically in terms of quietening of the default mode network, and the relinquishing of the subject-environment polarity in favour of a unified state of ego annihilation. I can see it as a natural biophysical state that has become sensitively dependent on the brain’s own inner dynamics, in a biologically natural way, by seeing the notion of the cosmic mind as a shared organismic state that emerges only in such dedicated conditions from the biota, meaning that the cosmic mind becomes manifest biologically. I don't need to articulate externalistic physical force fields to achieve this, because subjectivity is already built into the unified cosmology at the root and can fully utilise the known processes of cortical activity as a contextual boundary condition filter to realise qualia neurodynamically.

 

This kind of complementarity may be akin to a universal integral transform of the state of the entire quantum-entangled universe, or even the AdS/CFT correspondence, so that organismic consciousness is an encapsulated manifestation of the cosmic mind. Such a complementarity doesn't have to be conveyed by hypothetical externalistic constructs to support it, because it is cosmologically complementary to physical force fields.

 

We can then embark on the other half of the empirical discovery of reality with an open mind and discover for ourselves by mutual empirical experience the inner nature of cosmic reality, without placing outer restrictions upon a discovery process that we can all engage transformatively from within, because, in bringing forth what we have within us – i.e. foundational cosmic consciousness encapsulated in our mammalian biological brains – this can be experienced empirically in a discovery process without a priori theoretical or conceptual preconditions.

 

The approach of Poznanski and co-workers flushes the baby of subjective conscious volition over the physical universe we all experience in favour of the rule of a hidden teleology, no more convincing than Terry Deacon’s approach.

 

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.

 

A succinct account of the emergence of subjective consciousness from quantum panpsychism, consists of individual quanta, edge-of-chaos processes with quantum sensitivity due to the butterfly effect, biogenesis, and prokaryotes, becoming emergent 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 neuro-dynamical processes acting as boundary conditions upon the complementary subjective conscious aspect.

 

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. The cosmology deals with this by accepting root primitive subjectivity, then expanded into sentient attentive consciousness with the eucaryote endo-symbiosis, which then becomes a tightly-coupled society of neurons subjected to boundary filter conditions imposed by cerebral neurodynamics to provide adaptive context. Thus subjectivity is intrinsic, while the details of qualia are imposed by the boundary conditions described by empirical neuroscience.

 

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. And by the mutual affirmation test invoked by the cosmology. 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 not fully characterised, 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.

 

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, fig 24a, 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.

 

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 the universe in the context 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.

 

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.

 

In later interviews, Chalmers (2022) has a much more positive view of the potentiality for subjective consciousness to causally interact upon the physical brain, through collapse of the wave function:

 

The next radical conclusion is that consciousness is separate from the physical world but it also has an effect on the physical world a causal impact. We need to be cautious here, but  science hasn't taught us that physics is a closed system that the brain is a closed system.. There's one route there that I think might be worth pursuing. A hole that's left open for where consciousness can have some impact. In quantum physics, most of the time, the wave function follows the Schrödinger wave equation, but every once in a while a strange thing happens – it collapses – why does the wave function collapse? Quantum mechanics doesn't tell us – it just says it collapses when a measurement occurs. What's a measurement? No one knows. On the face of it what looks like a measurement is a measurement by a conscious observer. If you wanted to have consciousness to effect physics, it looks like physics could not be designed more perfectly.

 

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 φ.φ', 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.

 

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:

 

The classic argument is that those of our ancestors who saw more accurately had a competitive advantage over those who saw less accurately and thus were more likely to pass on their genes that coded for those more accurate perceptions, so after thousands of generations we can be quite confident that we’re the offspring of those who saw accurately, and so we see accurately. That sounds very plausible. But I think it is utterly false. It misunderstands the fundamental fact about evolution, which is that it’s about fitness functions—mathematical functions that describe how well a given strategy achieves the goals of survival and reproduction.

 

We’ve been shaped to have perceptions that keep us alive, so we have to take them seriously. If I see something that I think of as a snake, I don’t pick it up. If I see a train, I don’t step in front of it. I’ve evolved these symbols to keep me alive, so I have to take them seriously. But it’s a logical flaw to think that if we have to take it seriously, we also have to take it literally. ...Snakes and trains, like the particles of physics, have no objective, observer-independent features. The snake I see is a description created by my sensory system to inform me of the fitness consequences of my actions. Evolution shapes acceptable solutions, not optimal ones. A snake is an acceptable solution to the problem of telling me how to act in a situation. My snakes and trains are my mental representations; your snakes and trains are your mental representations.

 

Yes cat’s 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!

 

Hoffman’s perspective on existence is very confluent with this cosmology. He supports the primacy of the quantum description over the false classical description of “mainstream” neuroscience and advocates what he calls conscious realism. Here follow an excerpt from an Atlantic interview (Gefter 2016) via Quanta magazine:

 

My intuition was, there are conscious experiences. I have pains, tastes, smells, all my sensory experiences, moods, emotions and so forth. So I’m just going to say: One part of this consciousness structure is a set of all possible experiences. When I’m having an experience, based on that experience I may want to change what I’m doing. So I need to have a collection of possible actions I can take and a decision strategy that, given my experiences, allows me to change how I’m acting. That’s the basic idea of the whole thing. I have a space X of experiences, a space G of actions, and an algorithm D that lets me choose a new action given my experiences. Then I posited a W for a world, which is also a probability space. Somehow the world affects my perceptions, so there’s a perception map P from the world to my experiences, and when I act, I change the world, so there’s a map A from the space of actions to the world. That’s the entire structure. Six elements. The claim is: This is the structure of consciousness. I put that out there so people have something to shoot at.  … I call it conscious realism: Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view. Interestingly, I can take two conscious agents and have them interact, and the mathematical structure of that interaction also satisfies the definition of a conscious agent.

 

The idea that what we’re doing is measuring publicly accessible objects, the idea that objectivity results from the fact that you and I can measure the same object in the exact same situation and get the same results — it’s very clear from quantum mechanics that that idea has to go. Physics tells us that there are no public physical objects. So what’s going on? Here’s how I think about it. I can talk to you about my headache and believe that I am communicating effectively with you, because you’ve had your own headaches. The same thing is true as apples and the moon and the sun and the universe. Just like you have your own headache, you have your own moon. But I assume it’s relevantly similar to mine. That’s an assumption that could be false, but that’s the source of my communication, and that’s the best we can do in terms of public physical objects and objective science.

 

Not only are they [neuroscientists] ignoring the progress in fundamental physics, they are often explicit about it. They’ll say openly that quantum physics is not relevant to the aspects of brain function that are causally involved in consciousness. They are certain that it’s got to be classical properties of neural activity, which exist independent of any observers—spiking rates, connection strengths at synapses, perhaps dynamical properties as well. These are all very classical notions under Newtonian physics, where time is absolute and objects exist absolutely. And then [neuroscientists] are mystified as to why they don’t make progress. They don’t avail themselves of the incredible insights and breakthroughs that physics has made. Those insights are out there for us to use, and yet my field says, “We’ll stick with Newton, thank you. We’ll stay 300 years behind in our physics.”

 

The neuroscientists are saying, “We don’t need to invoke those kind of quantum processes, we don’t need quantum wave functions collapsing inside neurons, we can just use classical physics to describe processes in the brain.” I’m emphasizing the larger lesson of quantum mechanics: Neurons, brains, space … these are just symbols we use, they’re not real. It’s not that there’s a classical brain that does some quantum magic. It’s that there’s no brain! Quantum mechanics says that classical objects—including brains—don’t exist. So this is a far more radical claim about the nature of reality and does not involve the brain pulling off some tricky quantum computation.

 

The formal theory of conscious agents I’ve been developing is computationally universal—in that sense, it’s a machine theory. And it’s because the theory is computationally universal that I can get all of cognitive science and neural networks back out of it. Nevertheless, for now I don’t think we are machines—in part because I distinguish between the mathematical representation and the thing being represented. As a conscious realist, I am postulating conscious experiences as ontological primitives, the most basic ingredients of the world. I’m claiming that experiences are the real coin of the realm. The experiences of everyday life—my real feeling of a headache, my real taste of chocolate—that really is the ultimate nature of reality.

 

But there is another lesson lurking here! The case is not just 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.

 

I agree with the central point that our perception is a conscious construction and we need to understand it as such, because subjective consciousness IS primary, as Don says, but if the real world doesn’t in any sense stably exist then genes aren’t real. Natural selection is not either. The whole evolutionary ball game over billions of years depends on the stability of the real world quantum universe over these same time scales or we wouldn’t 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 impossible everything would be without the real world being real.

 

In interview, Hoffmann roundly dismisses the purely materialist idea that the hard problem can be solved by physicalist versions of the easy problems, and having gained tenure as an expert in perception, sets out to try to formulate a universal theory starting from from the subjective consciousness where the field is less crowded with similar unfruitful ideas:

 

What will happen if we start from the other direction as a purely scientific and rigorous approach. I'm not talking about mysticism or anything like that. I'm talking about can we get a mathematically precise model of consciousness on it's own terms? So then we have to put down mathematical structures, not because they're right but so that we're precise. So that we can then find out why we're precisely wrong. Now you start to make predictions you get. dynamics of consciousness. The test will be can you derive quantum physics from it? Can you get quantum field theory out of it? Because at least if you can you have a mathematically precise solution of the  mind -body problem starting in the other direction.

 

This is a very courageous and scientifically authentic position to take, but is it really possible to deduce quantum field theory from subjective consciousness, by taking the same objective mathematical modelling that has proven to work in objective systems?

 

QBism and the Conscious Consensus Quantum Reality

 

QBism (von Bayer 2016) is an acronym for "quantum Bayesianism" a founding idea from which it has since moved on. It is a version of quantum physics founded on the conscious expectations of each physicist and their relationships with other physicists. According to QBism, experimental measurements of quantum phenomena do not quantify some feature of an independently existing natural structure. Instead, they are actions that produce experiences in the person or people doing the measurement.

 

“When I take an action on the world, something genuinely new comes out.”

 

This is very similar to the way Symbiotic Existential Cosmology presents consciousness as primary in the sense that we all experience subjective consciousness and infer the real world through the consensus view between conscious observers of our experiences of what we come to call the physical world. So although we know the physical world is necessary for our biological survival – the universe is necessary, we derive our knowledge of it exclusively and only through our conscious experiences of it.

 

The focus is on how to gain knowledge in a probabilistic universe... In this probabilistic interpretation, collapse of the quantum wave function has little to do with the object observed/measured. Rather, the crux of the matter is change in the knowledge of the observer based on new information acquired through the process of observing. Klaus Fuchs explains: “When a quantum state collapses, it’s not because anything is happening physically, it’s simply because this little piece of the world called a person has come across some knowledge, and he updates his knowledge… So the quantum state that’s being changed is just the person’s knowledge of the world, it’s not something existent in the world in and of itself.”

 

QBism is agnostic about whether there is a world that is structured independently of human thinking. It doesn’t assume we are measuring pre-existing structures, but nor does it pretend that quantum formalism is just a tool. Each measurement is a new event that guides us in formulating more accurate rules for what we will experience in future events. These rules are not just subjective, for they are openly discussed, compared and evaluated by other physicists. QBism therefore sees physicists as permanently connected with the world they are investigating. Physics, to them, is an open-ended exploration that proceeds by generating ever new laboratory experiences that lead to ever more successful, but revisable, expectations of what will be encountered in the future.

 

In QBism the wave function is no longer an aspect of physical reality as such, but a feature of how the observer's expectations will be changed by an act of quantum measurement.

 

The principal thesis of QBism is simply this: quantum probabilities are numerical measures of personal degrees of belief. According to QBism, experimental measurements of quantum phenomena do not quantify some feature of an independently existing natural structure. Instead, they are actions that produce experiences in the person or people doing the measurement.

 

In the conventional version of quantum theory, the immediate cause of the collapse is left entirely unexplained, or "miraculous" although sometimes assumed to be essentially random. QBism solves the problem as follows. In any experiment the calculated wave function furnishes the prior probabilities for empirical observations that may be made later. Once an observation has been made new information becomes available to the agent performing the experiment. With this information the agent updates their probability and their wave function, instantaneously and without magic.

 

So in the Wigner's friend experiment, the friend reads the counter while Wigner, with his back turned to the apparatus, waits until he knows that the experiment is over. The friend learns that the wave function has collapsed to the up outcome. Wigner, on the other hand, knows that a measurement has taken place but doesn’t know its result. The wave function he assigns is a superposition of two possible outcomes, as before, but he now associates each with a definite reading of the counter and with his friend’s knowledge of that reading — a knowledge that Wigner does not share. For the QBist there is no problem: Wigner and his friend are both right. Each assigns a wave function reflecting the information available to them, and since their respective compilations of information differ, their wave functions differ too. As soon as Wigner looks at the counter himself or hears the result from his friend, he updates his wave function with the new information, and the two will agree once more—on a collapsed wave function.

 

According to the conventional interpretation of quantum mechanics, in the Schrödinger's cat experiment, the value of a superimposed wave function is a blend of two states, not one or the other. What is the state of the cat after one half-life of the atom, provided you have not opened the box? The fates of the cat and the atom are intimately entangled. An intact atom implies a living cat; a decayed atom implies a dead cat. It seems to follow that since the atom’s wave function is unquestionably in a superposition so is the cat: it is both alive and dead. As soon as you open the box, the paradox evaporates: the cat is either alive or dead. But while the box is still closed — what are we to make of the weird claim that the cat is dead and alive at the same time? According to QBism, the state of an unobserved atom, or a cat, has no value at all. It merely represents an abstract mathematical formula that gives the odds for a future observation: 0 or 1, intact or decayed, dead or alive. Claiming that the cat is dead and alive is as senseless as claiming that the outcome of a coin toss is both heads and tails while the coin is still tumbling through the air. Probability theory summarises the state of the spinning coin by assigning a probability of 1/2 that it will be heads. So QBism refuses to describe the cat’s condition before the box is opened and rescues it from being described as hovering in a limbo of living death.

 

If the wave-function, as QBism maintains, says nothing about an atom or any other quantum mechanical object except for the odds for future experimental outcomes, the unperformed experiment of looking in the box before it is opened has no result at all, not even a speculative one. The bottom line: According to the QBist interpretation, the entangled wave-function of the atom and the cat does not imply that the cat is alive and dead. Instead, it tells an agent what she can reasonably expect to find when they open the box.

 

This makes QBism compatible with phenomenologists, for whom experience is always “intentional” – i.e. directed towards something – and these intentionalities can be fulfilled or unfulfilled. Phenomenologists ask questions such as: what kind of experience is laboratory experience? How does laboratory experience – in which physicists are trained to see instruments and measurements in a certain way – differ from, say, emotional or social or physical experiences? And how do lab experiences allow us to formulate rules that anticipate future lab experiences?

 

Another overlap between QBism and phenomenology concerns the nature of experiments. Experiments are performances. They’re events that we conceive, arrange, produce, set in motion and witness, yet we can’t make them show us anything we wish. That doesn’t mean there is a deeper reality “out there” – just as, with Shakespeare, there is no “deep Hamlet” of which all other Hamlets we produce are imitations. In physics as in drama, the truth is in performance.

 

However, there is one caveat. We simply don't know whether consciousness itself can be associated only with collapsed probabilities or in some way is also steeped even as a complement in the spooky world of entanglement, so reducing the entirety of physics to collapsed probabilities may not convey the entire picture and the degree to which conscious experiences correspond to unstable brain states at the edge of chaos making phase coherence measurements akin to or homologous with quantum measurements may mean this picture is vastly more complicated than meets the eye.

 

Consciousness and the Quantum: Putting it all Back Together

 

In summary here is my tentative position about how subjective  consciousness 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, to decoherence where collapse results form many interactions. In any event, conscious observers experience Schrödinger's cat either alive or dead in the real word or so it seems, although we do witness superpostion in laser light. Napoleon didn't win Waterloo and we experience a line of history taking place partly as a result of our own actions, which I call historicity.

 

Symbiotic existential cosmology is agnostic about these QM differences, because it imputes primitive subjectivity to quanta, which could then also in principle act as 'observers', but leave this aside and back to the established physics.

 

When we do a simple two-slit interference experiment one photon at a time, as Feynman marvelled at, the individual photons can end up literally anywhere the wave function amplitude is non-zero throughout space-time. If we make a phase space in which the amplitude is normalised they can literally end up anywhere in this space with equal probability, just like a random variable. This is the “free-will of the individual quantum, which Conway & Kochen  (2009) used to imply conscious free will.

 

However, when we repeat the experiment multiple times we discover a pattern, that the photographic plate begins to have bands where the photons ended up, varying sinusoidally with the superimposed wave functions. This is an example of IID (independent and identically distributed measurements).

 

This is how the quantum process converges to the classical in the Born interpretation of large quantum numbers, but it is explicitly violated in both evolution, where each mutation that becomes fixed by selection induces a new context for a subsequent mutation, and in brain dynamics where any quantum event fixed by altering subsequent neuronal activity also changes the context. Again let's leave whether this is possible in the brain aside although I will claim that the butterfly effect, stochastic resonance and global tipping points at critical decisions are ideal ground for this.

 

Let's look at a single quantum 'instance' again. We have already seen that, in the phase space, the quantum can end up anywhere at all. This is the purest form of free-will we can possibly imagine, except that it is shaped by the wave function, so it has context just like our personal conscious decisions.

 

What's the flip side of this? It's that the whole process was being guided by the wave function. Now we get to entanglement. In the ideal interference experiment, we have prepared a pristine experiment in which we have defined the wave function simply and precisely by the macroscopic apparatus, but in the real world there are a multitude of third-party interactions, and in the absence of collapse, each of these introduce entanglements that modulate the wave function.

 

Indeed in the Everett interpretation all wave functions are part of the universal wave function forming an entangled history from alpha to Omega. So the flip side of quantum free will is the 'consciousness' the wave function possesses globally as a representation of potentially the entire history of reality encoded in the subtleties of the wave function. Thus we have a primitive model of quantum conscious free will.

 

Now to entanglement in detail. The results of Einstein, Rosen, Podolsky, Bell and Alain Aspect demonstrate that when two particles become entangled in a single wave function and we make independent measurements of both, we find that Bell's theorem is violated, ruling out local Einsteinian causality between the separated particles but consistent with quantum mechanics.

 

We can do this e.g. with an excited Calcium atom because it has two outer electrons so can transition to the ground state emitting a green and a yellow photon in opposite directions having net zero spin, thus having complementary polarisations. And Aspect did this with time varying analysers which showed that the correlations persisted over space-like intervals that appeared to require local travel between the detectors faster than the speed of light.

 

The conclusion of the Bell results is that: (a) The polarisation statistics of either photon appears individually random, (b) when we match them up whenever we measure one, the other instantaneously adopts complementary polarisation, but (c) this entangled relationship can't be used to send information between the separated particles.

 

There is another point here. Both the separate particles look like they are behaving randomly but there is a hidden process going on which is completely masked unless we sample the two together.

 

Now back to the supposedly causal universe. QM has two interposed processes in causal reality as we experience it:

(a) The Hamiltonian progression of the wave function under the Schrödinger equation.

(b) The apparently random projection of superpositions onto one of the eigenvectors  in collapse.

 

This is what I call 'punctuated' causality after 'punctuated equilibrium' in evolution. So we now have to ask what is the cosmological source of this randomness? We already know that lots of deterministic processes can end up with quasi-random distributions. Computers use these all the time to do random simulations and classical deterministic chaotic processes have the property of ergodicity, converging to a space-filling 'thermodynamic' trajectory characteristic of stochastic systems. So there are a huge swathe of complex processes that could underlie quantum uncertainty that could distribute in the limit to be quasi-random, masking any apparent 'hidden variable theory'.

 

Now let's go back to supposed causal closure of the universe in the context of the brain. In the quantum universe, notwithstanding the ebb and flow over Libet’s claim, and its later refutations, it is not possible to make any practical empirical experimental test to confirm clausal closure of the brain, so the onus on science to demonstrate it fails.

 

Causal closure in the brain might appear to make superficial sense because, unless it IS causally closed, we could have both mind and brain dynamics affecting future brain states, resulting in causal conflict. But if it is confined only to circumstances where the brain dynamics is critically poised in uncertainty, because it is representing an existential crisis where the causally-induced alternatives are finely balanced and the global brain state (in mutual phase coherence feedback with action potentials modulated by stochastic resonance) is at a sensitively dependent unstable tipping point, this corresponds quite closely to a quantum measurement of its own instability.

 

So we ask this question: "What if the only thing subjective consciousness has the capacity to do is to perform quantum measurements on its on brain's unstable brain states? Does this invoke any form of useful mind-matter interactionism or is it just futile randomness?

 

Here I think that it has a huge capacity to be exactly what we are all looking for, because the universe as we know it is paradoxically 'punctuated causality' literally only half causal and half uncertain in structural terms, so although we don't expect quantum measurement to force any outcomes to cause the cat to be alive rather than dead, it does have a profound effect on the evolution of the universe, turning it from a multiverse into one where Napoleon didn't win the battle of Waterloo, and where Nelson turned his blind eye on the Danish fleet in the Battle of Copenhagen.

 

Of course some of these events come down to hidden physically causal factors like the positioning of troops or the silly height of the Spanish ships in the Armada's defeat, but the key role of conscious experience, as Michael Graziano's attention schema theory points out, is split-second intuitive life or death decisions, when the shark strikes. We know the brain is also a predictive perceptual computer as shown in the "flash-lag" illusion where it sometimes makes predictive errors, but all this comes down in the end to an intensely conscious split-second real time decision which is going to alter the course of history in exactly the way a quantum measurement does.

 

Note also that this process emerged in pretty complete form with the founding universal eucaryote ancestor, complete with membrane action potentials, edge of chaos excitability on a global basis, the genes to enable synapse formation and the neurotransmitters as social signalling molecules, and as I noted, the brain is an intimately coupled society of such cells (King 1978, Edwards 2003) operating in essentially the same way.

 

Human neurons, and by extrapolation neuroglia, are extremely sophisticated human single-celled animals in their own right nurtured by their social environment. If you look at a pyramidal neuron spanning the cortical layers  (fig 79), they are modulated by all the principal neurotransmitters from GABA, through serotonin, nor-adrenaline and even dopamine and the inputs of interneurons as well as fast ionopore receptor fluctuations of NMDA and AMP. Their axonal output is thus an expression of multiple dynamic forces. They are not simply additive Mcculloch-Pitts units and that is why the cerebral neurodynamics is the edge-of-chaos phase tuned dynamic it is.

 

This means that the brain is conscious at the cellular level and the binding problem is all about how the neuronal and glial excitations are bound together in the overall brain dynamic, which is in phase-coupled feedback between graded cortical potentials in the local EEG and individual action potentials. So we come back to meaning and this means the meaning is in the purview of conscious experience each cell has in its neurosystem context. I see this as a true conscious meaning, but it is a wildly different meaning to the meaning we experience, because neurosystems meaning is a coherently bound dynamics of cellular meaning and the cellular meaning is how the conscious excitability of individual neurons interpret their intimately bound social environment.

 

This is a cellular version of Freeman dynamics and its very hard for us to make meaning out of it at our coherently bound neurosystems level, but in it lies the solution to the entire dilemma of what consciousness is, the binding problem, and how meaning arises in the multi-celled conscious organism.

 

Taken to a rather poetic conclusion, we are walking inflated quanta exercising our free will in just the way each individual photon does, except we are doing it in a supremely entangled way that brings the conscious moment into focus in every detail of our neurodynamic internal model of reality representing the mysterious quantum world around us and the extreme vagaries and computational intractability of the open environment problem, which is worse than the travelling salesman problem because there isn't necessarily only one outcome, but multiple threads, all or any of which may result in annihilation or ultimate survival.

 

You could even speculate that our entire incarnation, from birth to death, is a single quantum measurement, particularly when looked at sideways on in space-time, as the Feynman representation tends to do!

 

How the Mind and Brain Influence One Another

 

To summarise and complete, here is a short discussion with the psychophysicist Stanley Klein:

 

Stan: There has been a lot of evidence that mind is being done in the brain. There are indeed a number of folks that think that mind is separate from the brain. Of course the brain is getting input from neurons outside of the brain like from our eyes and ears, etc.  I look forward to hearing evidence that points to mind coming from outside of our brain.

 

Chris: To suggest that mind is outside the brain, if you are a physicalist, means you are asking for the subjective mind to physically exist somewhere outside the brain I.e. in the toes or round the corner somewhere. You know thats not how it works. Mind is inside and the brain is outside. Both are happening depending on how we choose the discourse i.e. to talk about our experiences, or the physical world we are perceiving.

 

And Stan, just what is the extensive evidence that mind is being done in the brain? There is no way of escaping that any brain research on a conscious individual mind, is happening when an experimental recording is made of brain dynamics e.g. Freeman dynamics.  But this isnt mind being done by the brain just accompanying brain states associated with conscious activities.

 

Stan Klein:  However, I don't fully understand what you said about the mind-brain connection. Could you provide more details of what you have in mind.

 

Chris: The trick is in how the brain uses dynamical instability computationally. Its attempting to form a causal model, but the open environment is computationally intractable and indeterminate. The single celled eucaryote learned to use edge of chaos membrane excitation for predictive sentience, by being sensitively dependent on external quantum modes to generate a physical awareness of its environment. As the amoebo-flagellates evolved, they became genetically adapted to take advantage of this predictively, gaining perpetual survival opportunities. I see this as being non-IID at the cellular level so its a genuine quantum process at the edge of chaos that aids survival because the membrane excitation feedback process under genetic control becomes predictive in ways that involve similar situations to weak quantum measurements and expand instantaneous time into a quantum of the present.

 

In a complex brain, each of the neurons are carrying out an exceedingly complex social version of this, that grew out of neurotransmitters as social signalling molecules, so the social signalling has become a wired form of synaptic signalling driven at high speed through axonic and dendritic connections. The result is a Freeman dynamics brain at the edge of chaos that seamlessly uses a combination of self-organised criticality to resolve uncertainties and making quantum measurements through wave phase coherence of neuronally networked populations. Because it evolved from adaptive unstable cellular consciousness it seamlessly integrates computational and quantum predictive dynamics. 

 

We experience this as "the present.  This is just a description on the fly of neurodynamics that passes far more sophistication onto the neurons themselves as highly evolved human cells with extreme delicate social connections simultaneously using all the social signalling molecules from glutamate through GABA serotonin and so on.  But the key to understanding it is not brain dynamics alone but brain development and the roles the neurons of each neurotransmitter type have in mutually organising the social network of synapses.

 

Stan:  Many thanks for your detailed discussion of many details of how the brain does its thing. You seem to be agreeing with me that the brain is where the action is for producing the mind.  As I've said many times, present science doesn't yet fully understand how the brain does it.  Do you agree with the above or do you think the brain isn't producing mind.?

 

Chris: No I don’t agree Stan!  The brain and mind are producing one another. The brain is not causally closed and the mind is transcausally volitional. By transcausal I mean the result is a product of a transactional process between past and future underlying quantum reality and wave function collapse.

 

The brain, as a developmentally and dynamically structured set of conscious neurons, is providing a partially open dynamical computational context in which the mind fills in the unstable parts of the quantum dynamic. This is being driven by tightly-coupled cellular sentience on the part of neurons and their complementary neuroglia. This means that, from the mind's point of view, the brain is a boundary condition acting as a filter on the way the mind can volitionally act. Thats why we look out at the conscious experiential world we perceive as individuals. By act I do not mean causally interact in the sense of interactional dualism where we can define functional mechanisms on both sides. Nor is it simply dual aspect monism because the complementary processes are very different, with the subjective able to be experienced bu neither observed objectively nor decomposed.

 

The nature of the mind is related to and complementary to the underlying “volitional” process that determines wave function collapse. This means again that mind is complementary to the universe as a whole. We appear to have our own mind, not because there are many minds, but because the many brains impose varying boundary constraints, as encapsulations on the subjective condition.

 

Stan: Chris, You said:  "By transcausal I mean the result is a product of a transactional process between past and future underlying quantum reality and wave function collapse." Why did you include "future"?.  Present science doesn't allow information to go backwards in time or faster than light. But strangely enough some influences can go faster than light. Wonderfully crazy.

 

Chris: The Feynman description and transactional interpretation both involve hand-shaking between past and future through the special relativistic wave propagator and offer and confirmation waves. All quantum processes are time reversible. Weak quantum measurement is an averaged out process which involves retrodiction post-hoc. Its still partly IID because of the repeated measurements to establish the 'Bohmiantrajectories. But cellular sentience is a feedback loop at the quantum level that isn't trying to make a classical prediction, just to exert anticipatory volition, escaping the snake strike, so it's basically an inflated version of context dependent wave function collapse, including advanced influences from absorbers. I’m not being too precise about this because SEC is agnostic as to quantum interpretations.

 

You are happy with entanglement involving instantaneous definition of the state of the remote particle, when the nearby one has its polarisation measured because this doesn't involve a classical signal exchanged faster than light. It simply reveals a hidden correlation that now has become determinate. But this actually occurs because the advanced waves from both detectors arrive at the source of the entangled photons and the changed result is referred back in the retarded wave to instantaneously define the remote particles orientation. So that is the way it all works.

 

Real positive energy determines the arrow of time and the direction of classical causality, but collapse of the wave function punctuates this. So if you are talking about real positive energy particles, forward causality is true, but if you are talking about collapse of the wave function it isnt. For example virtual particles don't conserve mass-energy and dont respect the arrow of time because they are not real positive energy so they interconnect past and future symmetrically in precisely determining the electromagnetic force in QED.

 

Because mind is complementary to quantum uncertainty, it is complementary to the transactional milieu. This doesn't mean it can send classical signals from the future to the past, but it means that its volition can and does reflect these virtualinfluences. Thats why we intuitively feel and perceive we have active agency over the universe and veridically perceive this to be the case and perceive that we are acting predictively by the conscious presence of mind, while also plotting out the next move, where possible cognitively. It may seem counter-intuitive that standing in for the apparent randomness of uncertainty is all there is to volition but thats enough to completely determine and to utterly change the course of history, as we know.

 

Stan: Chris you said: "As you know I also have a relationship with Psi. Its just a crazy knack that I seem to possess"

If you can demonstrate your ability to do Psi, you can get a Nobel prize! Can you give an example of your Psi ability?

 

If we cont own our own consciousness I dont think it right to say we possess Phi but we are responsive to it and share its innate capacity. I simply said it was a knack I possessed. That knack is open mindedness to uncanny correspondences in the flow of ongoing experience.

 

I am happy with Radin, Bancel & Delorme (2021) producing research supporting an influence of mind on entanglement and other Psi results that may have statistical significance. But these are attempts to produce verifiable results, indicating an effect under repeated instances, which make them statistically significant. This tends to be like an IID (independent identically distributed) quantum experiment that converges to the Born probability interpretation, but it depends on the exact nature of the experimental process undergone.

 

I really like the simple concise treatment of Gallego & Dakić (2021) showing that, in non-IID processes, the quantum description can prevail in macroscopic situations. So let me try to explain where I see what people call Psi is coming from. I am particularly interested in causality-violating conscious experiences that involve time and implicit anticipation, particularly under shifting contexts in real life where each event changes the context, so there is no IID. This is going to strike these all out of scientific proof because we cant apply statistical analysis to non IID events as they are adventitious, as we know with evolutionary mutation, but there is a reason why this is likely to be critical.

 

We accept that the brain has evolved to be a predictor of environmental crises of survival and opportunities for food and reproduction.  We know the perceptual brain has evolved to be a predictor of emerging situations, evidenced by anomalies such as flash-lag illusions and mainstream ideas such as Grazianos attention schema theory AST. This makes excellent evolutionary sense and explains why the brain has evolved to ensure the survival of the organism, through massively parallel computing that doesnt stall in an exponential runaway, like serial computers facing the travelling salesman problem, so like Anil Seth we can describe the brain as a kind of prediction machine, using consciousness efficiently do do its work in real time, even if this is a kind of hallucination for efficiencies sake.

 

Now we come to the hard part. Evolution has not only selected massively parallel real time predictive machines, but subjectively conscious ones. So the same argument has to apply to subjective consciousness.

 

So we have to address the question of why evolution has retained subjective consciousness all the way to mammals, primates and humanity, apparently universally across metazoa if subjective consciousness in itself has no predictive power over and above objective brain function.

 

The hard problem exists because (1) all our experience, including all knowledge of the objective physical universe is derived subjectively, (2) subjectivity is categorically inconsistent with pure objectivity and cannot be finessed into it by any Zenos paradox easy problem approach, and (3) edge of chaos brain dynamics, combined with phase coherence processing mean the physical brain is a self-critically unstable system, uncertainly poised in the very conscious states we are considering, making proof of causal closure impossible.

 

So subjective consciousness must have a critical predictive advantage for it to be universally retained as central to brain function sitting right in the centre of the cyclone of edge of chaos.

 

When we walk down the street we can consider that we are highly determined by our circumstances, going to the supermarket for example 50 m down our side street from here. We may be thinking some very obvious thoughts like worrying about Ukraine, but when we turn the corner just about anything can occur, including nearly getting run over.

 

So about half our active lives are spent dealing with defined causal aspects and the other half are accidental things that come in from left field. This is living in the conscious universe. The causal circumstances are the Schrödinger equation part and the accident waiting to happen is cat paradox collapse of the wave function. Because our brains transcend IID, both processes are playing out seamlessly together. Brain computational predictivity is there to deal with the Schrödinger part and subjective consciousness to deal with causality-violating quantum collapse part of daily existence.

 

To be able to be predictive, subjective consciousness needs to be reflected in the sort of interactions described in the transactional interpretation and special relativistic Feynman formulation, where tellingly, even the exactly determined values of the electron magnetic moment are found with stunning accuracy by integrating over both past and future components of the wave functions. The transactional approach which deals with real particle exchanges gives an intuitive picture of this implicit predictivity, but it all comes down to how a many-to-many transaction collapses into a single real particle exchange and whatever way we look at this it is a collapse from potential past and future states to a single set of pairs of these, so it’s not moving either direction in space-time but across it transversely. As I noted above, I don't have the final answer on this and suspect that no causal description is possible although I call it transcausality, because to do so would be to commit a causality violating space-time process to be causally explained, so it may forever be hidden in the entanglement which extends to the wave function of the universe as a whole (Hartle & Hawking 1983). However in this picture, we as subjectively conscious beings are INSIDE this entangled phenomenon and are thus intuitively conscious of it in our changing circumstances.

 

This means that our circumstances, which the Eastern Wisdom Tradition call karma (although with a more moral tone) are a product of cosmological entanglement the mysterious hidden variable problem. That's all well and good, but we know about Bayes theorem, so many people discount subjective reports of coincidence, or synchronicity as being false predictions resulting from selecting only the verifying cases and ignoring the contradicting ones. The trouble with this argument is essentially that it only works with IID processes which we know converge to the Born probability. When we are dealing with sheer idiosyncracy, we are dealing with non-IID quantum "science fiction", but subjective conscious volition is anything BUT science fiction. If anything neuroscience is fiction denying volition. But the key point here is that we can't use Bayes theorem estimates in singular on-IID events.

 

So what is the answer to your Nobel prize-winning question? Well it's this. If we allow ourselves to entertain the primacy of consciousness, we enable our minds (and brains) to enter into a heightened form of intuitive awareness, where some of our attentive, perceptual and cognitive efforts go into actually looking at, and entering into, the flux of experience. Put in a very clunky way by meditators, who are far too disciplined in their one-pointed focus to appreciate the full dimensions, unless they completely abandon themselves to the abyss, this is called mindfulness. That is allowing our mind to simply resonate with nature in its vast space-time ramifications arounds us, as animals do, to make sure they can actually hear the hiss of the snake strike over the swishing of the long grasses and the chirping cicadas.

 

So what about my Psi? Sometimes I have really striking qualitative experiences which have the character not just of everyday coincidence, but something else at the bottom of the billabong as the Australians say. Precognitive dreams that are registered and come veridically true are examples. I hated writing a song that later proved to have tragic precognitive echoes of specific details of 9-11 that can also be explained to some degree given the subject matter, but the qualitative details remain uncanny to this day (Bem et al. 2016).

 

But why would we spend time speculating on this? In the same way, subjective consciousness is transformative over the physical universe, through efficacy of volition, we don't have time to save the world from a perilous fate dwelling on magic tricks. We need to do the good thing for life as a whole, while we are here and time is short. But Brahman accompanies me as I labour and the great virtue of entheogens is that the whack they give under the right circumstances can last a lifetime, or at lest a seven year fast, because, when you fall outside the bubble of perception, you are never completely in the closed causality box any longer.

 

But there is more to this. The circumstances of the world may look like they are hugely deterministic laws of mass action, leaving us helpless. Empires rise and fall and their huge armies with them, in clashes of the titans as if everything is brute force, of tectonic fire and tsunamic flood, but consciousness and the human conscious world view are both transformative and critically unstable. When Nelson turned his blind eye to the telescope in the Battle of Copenhagen, an alternative history was created. Perceived realities are in flux. The Weltanshauung of Immortality is an infectious concept with a pandemic R0 very delicately poised at 1, just reproducing itself without extinction. One tiny shift and the entire flux of history can be transformed back to immortal Paradise. So the entire stakes are caught in a single cat paradox experiment that encompasses all of us.

 

Stan Klein: I’m pleased that we are in general agreement with standard science. One topic where there might be differences is on the topic of psychic phenomena. Do you think that telepathy might be possible, in violation of the presently known 18 wavicles?

 

My response is sheer speculation, off the cuff. If Bob tries to run a telepathy experiment and thinks a specific planned thought and sends' it to Alice and something enters Alices head out of the blue, this is very hard to distinguish from a quantum uncertain 'cat paradoxevent, and Alice's brain would have had to be in a highly uncertain dynamical state, because otherwise the causal circumstances of her brain function are forcing her brain to see Bobs thought. If that were the case it would take a strong wavicle interaction we could probably measure or falsify. But I don't think thats the case, even if Psi experimenters can get a sigma out of their experiments.

 

But thats not how I think this works. I think the possibility is that conscious brains use quantum entanglement and can sometimes share entangled states. This again is off the cuff, but I would see brain states as dynamical quasi-particles corresponding to phase coupled global excitations. Now the actual more common context is not an experiment, but two people who know one another, say its me an my mum, because this happened a lot. Because we know one another (except shes gone) there are certain dynamical brain states that can become engrammed' in memory, like my sense of my mothers presence and her sense of me, her son, that form a kind of familial collective consciousness.

 

So then I suddenly get the idea to call my mum because I havent done so for a while and that's this quasi-exciton emerging in a non-IID way out of the ‘engram’ milieu, and I call her, and her phone rings and that sets of the other entangled part of her quasi-exciton that got entangled with mine last time we spoke, and of course a call from me is on the cards too, and times before that. So I say Hi and she says I was just thinking of you! This is also the Aboriginal dream time speaking. They (and twins) suddenly notice something is amiss in their psyche and realise their uncle, or sibling, has passed away somewhere far off.

 

Modern culture is very bad at this kind of thing because we either think flat stick in a mechanistic way or we meditate in a controlled mindful way and never really let the winds of uncertainty pass through our consciousness any more. So both spiritual practices and practical realities can block our sensibilities. The key point here is how are we going to disprove this using the standard model? Its just as bad as the hard problem. If quantum anticipation is possible and conscious volition is real, all these other possibilities are on the scientific table top of reality as Carlos Castaneda put it, at the far edge of brute certainty!

 

 

 

TOEs, Space-time, Timelessness and Conscious Agency

 

In "Out of Time", Baron et al. (2022) explore both the potentially non-existent status of time in current physical cosmology and the folk notions of time that human cultures consciously and socially invoke:

 

The idea that time does not exist is, for many, unthinkable: time must exist. Our goal is to make the absence of time thinkable. Time might not exist. This chapter lays the groundwork for our investigation. We begin by clarifying the central target of our investigation, the folk concept of time and then motivating the idea that it is this folk concept whose investigation matters.  … Our primary focus in this book is on the folk concept, or concepts, of time. … For now, we can think of the folk concept of time as something like the naïve view of time – the unreflective notion of time that individuals use in their everyday lives. … When we talk of the folk concept of time we don’t simply mean the way the folk think about, or conceive of time. We don’t simply mean what the folk think time is like. We mean something like what the folk think (almost certainly implicitly) it would take for there to be time in a world. … Why should we care about the folk concept of time? The short answer is that we should care about time in the folk sense, because it appears to be implicated in normative concepts and practices in which we are deeply invested; concepts and practices like moral and practical responsibility.

 

In the 20th century, two theoretical frameworks emerged for formulating the laws of physics. The first is Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, that explains the force of gravity and the structure of spacetime at the macro-level. The other is quantum mechanics, which uses wave-particle complementarity a Hamiltonian wave equation and probability principles to describe physical phenomena at the micro-level.

 

Quantum field theory is the application of quantum mechanics particles and forces such as the electromagnetic field, which are extended in space and time, modelled as excitations in the fundamental fields. One computes the probabilities of various physical events through perturbative quantum field theory using Feynman diagrams (fig 23e) depicting the paths of point-like particles and their interactions.

 

Einstein's general theory of relativity treats time as a dimension on par with the three spatial dimensions; in general relativity, space and time are not modelled as separate entities but are instead unified to four-dimensional spacetime. In this framework, the phenomenon of gravity is viewed as a consequence of the geometry of spacetime.

 

Baron et al. (2022) note a number of versions of TOEs (theories of everything) attempting to unify gravity and the standard model of physics:

 

A number of approaches to quantum gravity (QG) have been proposed. The best-known approach to QG is string theory, according to which the fundamental components of reality are tiny one-dimensional strings that vibrate in up to eleven dimensions. The chief alternative to string theory is Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG), according to which reality is fundamentally a lattice-like structure, constituted by discrete ‘chunks’ that are ‘woven’ together. Another approach to QG is the Canonical Quantum Gravity program (CQG), which applies standard quantisation techniques from quantum field theory to the gravitational field, in order to produce a quantum account of gravity (roughly in the mould of the standard model of particle physics).  Other approaches include causal set theory, the asymptotic safety approach, the causal triangulation approach and the emergent gravity program.

 

Canonical quantum gravity is the attempt to quantise the canonical formulation of general relativity (or canonical gravity) as a Hamiltonian formulation of Einstein's general theory of relativity. All canonical theories of general relativity have to deal with the problem of time. In quantum gravity, the problem of time is a conceptual conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics. In canonical general relativity, time is just another coordinate as a result of general covariance. In quantum field theories, especially in the Hamiltonian formulation, the formulation is split between three dimensions of space, and one dimension of time. Roughly speaking, the problem of time is that there is none in general relativity. This is because in general relativity the Hamiltonian is a constraint that must vanish. However, in any canonical theory, the Hamiltonian generates time translations. Therefore, we arrive at the conclusion that "nothing moves" ("there is no time") in general relativity. Since "there is no time", the usual interpretation of quantum mechanics measurements at given moments of time breaks down. This problem of time is the broad basis for all interpretational problems of the formalism.

 

Fig 42: Feynman diagram vertices become 2D string surfaces.

 

String theory is the idea that the point-like particles of quantum field theory can also be modelled as one-dimensional strings. The interaction of strings is defined by generalising the perturbation theory used in ordinary quantum field theory. At the level of Feynman diagrams, this means replacing the one-dimensional diagram representing the path of a point particle by a 2D-surface. Unlike in quantum field theory, string theory does not have a full non-perturbative definition, so many of the theoretical questions remain out of reach.

 

The original version of string theory was bosonic string theory, but this version described only bosons, a class of particles that transmit forces between the matter particles, or fermions. Bosonic string theory was eventually superseded by superstring theories which describe both bosons and fermions, using supersymmetry in which each boson has a counterpart fermion, and vice versa. A heterotic string is a closed string (or loop) which is a hybrid ('heterotic') of a superstring and a bosonic string. String theories require extra dimensions of spacetime for their mathematical consistency. In bosonic string theory, spacetime is 26-dimensional, while in superstring theory it is 10-dimensional, and in M-theory it's 11-dimensional. In compactification, some of the extra dimensions are assumed to "close up" on themselves to form circles. In the limit where these curled up dimensions become very small, one obtains a theory in which spacetime has effectively a lower number of dimensions and the compactified dimensions represent internal states such as colour, flavour and charge.

 

A brane generalises the notion of a point particle to higher dimensions. For instance, a point particle is a brane of dimension zero, while a string is a brane of dimension one. In string theory, D-branes are an important class of branes that arise when one considers open strings. As an open string propagates through spacetime, its endpoints are required to lie on a D-brane. The study of D-branes in string theory has led to important results such as the AdS/CFT correspondence (fig 42), which has shed light on many problems in quantum field theory.

 

Fig 43: Two papers (arXiv:1806.08362, 1806.09718) suggest the overwhelming majority of multiverses in this landscape are assigned to the swampland of unviable universes, where dark energy is unstable, also reviving the popularity of time-varying dark energy models such as quintessence. The Calabi-Yau manifold illustrated is just one compactification, which shows a local 2D cross-section of the real 6D manifold known in string theory as the Calabi-Yau quintic.

 

One popular way of deriving realistic physics from string theory is to start with the heterotic theory in ten dimensions and assume that the six extra dimensions of spacetime are shaped like a six-dimensional Calabi–Yau manifold. Such compactifications offer many ways of extracting realistic physics from string theory. Each of these different shapes corresponds to a different possible universe, or "vacuum state", with a different collection of particles and forces. String theory thus has an enormous number of vacuum states, typically estimated to be around 10500, sufficiently diverse to accommodate almost any phenomenon that might be observed at low energies.

 

Fig 44: Loop quantum gravity is an alternative to superstring theory. Right: Braided space-time gives an underlying basis for unifying the fundamental particles.

 

Loop quantum gravity (LQG) aims to merge quantum mechanics and general relativity, incorporating matter of the Standard Model into the framework established for the pure quantum gravity case. It is an attempt to develop a quantum theory of gravity based directly on Einstein's geometric formulation rather than the treatment of gravity as a force. The quantum states in the theory do not live inside the space-time. Rather they themselves define spacetime. As a theory LQG postulates that the structure of space and time is composed of finite loops woven into an extremely fine fabric called spin networks. The evolution of a spin network, or spin foam, has a scale above the order of a Planck length, approximately 10−35 meters, and smaller scales are meaningless. Consequently, not just matter, but space-time itself, adopts an atomic structure. A spin network represents a "quantum state" of the gravitational field on a 3-dimensional hyper-surface. A spin foam is a topological structure made out of two-dimensional faces that represent one of the configurations that must be summed to obtain a Feynman description of quantum gravity.

 

When the spin network is tied in a braid, it forms representation of a particle, which can have electric charge and handedness. Some of the different braids match known particles, where a complete twist corresponds to +1/3 or -1/3 unit of electric charge depending on the direction of the twist. Heavier particles are conceived as more complex braids in space-time. The configuration can be stabilised from space-time quantum fluctuations by considering each quantum of space as a bit of quantum information resulting in a kind of quantum computation. There are fundamental issues reconciling LQG with special relativity.

 

Each of these theories lead to serious questions and contradictions about the nature of time itself. String theory finesses space and time into a higher dimensional manifold which is then compactified, Canonical quantum gravity demonstrates that there is no time in general relativity, just stillness. Loop quantum gravity fragments space-time into a spin foam. Even special relativity by the Lorenz transformations, gives both advanced and retarded solutions leading to the hand-shaking between past and future of the transactional interpretation (fig 24).

 

We thus have to come to terms with the way our conscious experience interacts with the physical universe and whether agency can still have meaning in a timeless cosmos.

 

To break time down philosophically into more fundamental constituents as a single series we can think of three stages of abstraction. An A-series ordering orders times in terms of whether they are objectively past, present or future. It is a dynamic ordering constantly updating with the passage of time. A B-series ordering orders times or events in terms of the relations of earlier-than, later-than, and simultaneous-with, so is unchanging. C-series events by contrast, are temporally ordered, but there is no temporal direction within the series i.e. as a betweenness ordering. In a C-series ordering, by contrast, we say only that b is between a and c.

 

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.

 

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/

 

In philosophy, to say that a statement is truth-apt is to say that it could be uttered in some context and would then express a true or false proposition. Truth-apt sentences are capable of being true or false, unlike questions or commands. Whether paradoxical sentences, prescriptions (especially moral claims), or attitudes are truth-apt is debated. Temporal error theory is a view that is analogous to moral error theories, which deny the objective reality of moral facts, and, on the basis of this, deny that any moral claims are true. Temporal error theory, then, is the view that temporal thought and discourse is truth apt, and is false (or at least, is not true).

 

In "Out of Time", Baron et al. (2022) consider how our philosophical notion of agency can survive the sacrifice of time itself by using causality in a local sense to create the framework for reasoning agency.

 

In what follows we cannot hope to spell out a full-blown realist account of agency without time. That would be a massive undertaking. Instead, we will focus on showing how the realist can respond to the two arguments we mounted earlier: the conceptual and cognitive arguments.

 

Let us start with the conceptual argument. ... The concept of agency at issue is one that focuses on deliberation. As already discussed, we believe it is plausible that for one to be an agent, one must be able to impose a deliberative structure. We are also inclined to accept that in order to do that, one must believe that there is some supportive structure. We nonetheless think the conceptual argument fails. It’s not the case that there must be a C-series for there to be a supportive structure. Thus, one can reasonably believe that there is a supportive structure even if one accepts temporal error theory. There is thus no bar to the imposition of the kind of deliberative structure needed for agency.

 

Consider the idea that we need to take some things to be fixed, and unchangeable, and to be the things on the basis of which we deliberate. Consider also the idea that we take other things to be open, and malleable, and to be things about which we deliberate. Causal structure seems well suited to support both aspects of deliberative structure. There being a causal structure allows us to take as fixed, and unchangeable, those things that are causally prior to our location, and as open and malleable, only those things that are causally downstream from us. We cannot causally intervene on events that are causally prior to us, so they are excellent candidates to be held fixed and unchangeable.

 

This brings us to the cognitive argument. Recall the basic argument: some if not all of our agentive thoughts involve temporal thoughts. Those thoughts are therefore true only if the relevant temporal thoughts are true as well. If temporal error theory is true, then our temporal thoughts are false and so at least some agentive thoughts are false too. Our response to this argument is just to concede the conclusion: yes, some of our agentive thoughts are false. Be that as it may, the falsity of the relevant agentive thoughts does not undermine agency. The reason for this is that there are other nearby agentive thoughts that are true; thoughts that invoke only causal notions.

 

By contrast, and at least in principle, we can causally intervene in events that are causally downstream from us, so these are also excellent candidates to be held open and malleable. Indeed, with respect to those things that are causally downstream from us we can distinguish between those that we take ourselves to be able to causally affect, and those we take ourselves not to be able to causally affect. Only those in the former category are those about which we can deliberate. Those events that are causally prior to us, in the causal ordering, or those that are causally downstream from us, but which we take ourselves to be unable to causally affect, are those things about which we cannot deliberate. So, the presence of causal structure provides a supportive structure for at least these aspects of deliberative structure.

 

However, we have come to see that conscious experience has depths and heights that take it far beyond the confines of rational thought and mental cognition, including emotional states, transcendent mystical states and real world states of acute anticipation as a key feature of consciously surviving immediate existential threats. Baron et al. (2022) thus also make an attempt to discuss temporal non-cognitivism in this context:

 

Temporal non-cognitivism is the view according to which our temporal thought and talk does not involve truth-apt beliefs, but rather, involves some other kind of attitude. So, even if our folk concepts of time are not satisfied, it does not follow that such talk is false because a fortiori it is neither true nor false. … We find temporal non-cognitivism tantalising. We confess, though, that we are not sure how to spell out the view in a plausible manner. Given this, what we say about temporal non-cognitivism will be brief. Our aim is not to argue that there is no way to develop a version of temporal non-cognitivism. Rather, we will gesture towards what we take to be some powerful problems that the non-cognitivist must face if she is to develop such a view.

 

The central problem we see for temporal non-cognitivism is that it is difficult to see what our temporal thoughts might be, if not beliefs, and hence which mental states temporal talk might express, if they are not reporting beliefs. Indeed, we can only really see one way to develop this idea, and that is to take temporal thought and talk to express non-cognitive attitudes of some kind. Call such a view: temporal expressivism. The question then becomes which non-cognitive states the expressivist might identify with our temporal thoughts.

 

There are roughly two kinds of attitudes that one might appeal to: emotive attitudes such as regret, anticipation, nostalgia, fear, anxiety; or evaluative attitudes such as desire or preference. These are natural options to pursue, because they all display a ‘temporal’ asymmetry  and so bear some connection to time already. … Any plausible temporal non-cognitivism will need to provide felicity conditions for temporal thoughts such as ‘it rained yesterday’ and ‘it rained 5 minutes ago’. After all, even the non-cognitivist about temporal thought presumably doesn’t want to say that any temporal thought is as apt as any other. … Even if felicity conditions for some temporal attitudes can be provided along these lines, there is a deeper problem for temporal expressivism. The problem is a paucity of attitudes. Whichever attitudes one chooses—emotive or evaluative—there do not appear to be sufficiently many, or sufficiently fine- grained, non-cognitive attitudes to capture all of the different temporal thoughts we have.

 

In principle, one can have temporal thoughts that are extremely fine-grained, down to the scale of seconds, or nanoseconds. It is implausible, however, that we can place each such fine-grained temporal thought into a one-to-one correspondence with some similarly fine-grained attitude. The main problem is that we can’t differentiate degrees of anticipation to the same extent. Can one really have a greater degree of anticipation for an event in a second, as opposed to one in two seconds? What about nanoseconds? It seems doubtful. Attitudes are just not that finely structured.

 

This position states clear roles for both emotion and anticipation as non-cognitive modes of subjective conscious experience, but the conclusion that anticipation can only exist by degree and that it is too coarse grained to function is inconsistent with the exceedingly fine-grained role of anticipation in existential threats to survival which occur in the conscious moment without any assumptions of the overall nature of time as a global or cosmological entity having any relevance to the immediate survival threat.

 

In this sense, the conscious moment, in both acute existential crisis and in deep mystical states IS timeless and consciousness is itself more generally an ongoing quantum of the present, which does not itself change but rather local conditions change as they pass in and out of our experience. This leads potentially to a deep correspondence between conscious timelessness and cosmological timelessness as complements of one another.

 

Other theories of agency treat it rather as a systems theoretic complementation to the physical universe.

 

Karen Barad (2007) in “Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning”, describes agential realism as a theory in which the universe comprises phenomena which are "the ontological inseparability of intra-acting agencies". "Intra-action", coined by Barad expresses an important challenge to individualist metaphysics. Phenomena or objects do not precede their interaction, rather, 'objects' emerge through particular intra-actions. Thus, apparatuses, which produce phenomena, are not assemblages of humans and nonhumans (as in actor-network theory). Rather, they are the condition of possibility of 'humans' and 'non-humans', not merely as ideational concepts, but in their materiality.

 

Her publication brief expresses it thus:

 

Intra-activity is an inexhaustible dynamism that configures and reconfigures relations of space-time-matter. In explaining intra-activity, Barad reveals questions about how nature and culture interact and change over time to be fundamentally misguided. And she reframes understanding of the nature of scientific and political practices and their “interrelationship.” Thus she pays particular attention to the responsible practice of science, and she emphasizes changes in the understanding of political practices, critically reworking Judith Butler’s influential theory of performativity.

 

I am concerned that this is a philosophical/metaphysical argument which poses a complementarity between quantum physics as an interactive process and human social and political discourse, marginalising the individual subject as a systems cipher. What meaning is there to subjective consciousness as a complement to the objective universe, individual insight, enlightenment, moksha or the cosmic mind, if the complement is based on political discourse, rather than empirical experience?

 

A second work by Scott Kelso and David Engstrøm (2006) “The Complementary Nature” provides a complementary account of what they describe as “coordination dynamics” (Kelso 2013), within which complementarity is rooted.

 

The division of our world (natural and social) into distinct contraries or opposites has become almost universal practice in most fields of human endeavor and inquiry, including science. Undeniably, imposing such divisions on space and time, wave and particle, order and chaos, action and perception, or organism and environment have enabled significant progress in our scientific understanding of these separate domains. However, understanding based on separation or contraries is fundamentally limited, as is powerfully demonstrated by modern physics, biology and neuroscience. Coordination dynamics describes how coordinated patterns form and transform within and between parts of a given system. Core concepts, developed at length in the book, include self-organization, pattern dynamics, multifunctionality and functional equivalence, and information flow.

 

In the 1960’s, general systems theory sought the goal of a common pattern and process, consonant with Ilya Prigogine’s non-equilibrium thermodynamics of living systems, Hermann Haken’s synergetics about self-organized coherence,  Francisco Varela’s (1972) autopoiesis, and Stuart Kauffman’s (1986, 1993) autocatalysis. This means that coordination dynamics is attempting to treat physical, biological and even social systems on the same systems footing invoking a transformative continuity between processes which are isolated from one another and those in which coordinated interaction is derived from more generalised laws. However, in doing so, coordination dynamics remains an objective description of reality that does not seek to explain the hard problem of the fundamental nature of  subjective consciousness, just the interactive properties of neuronal self-organisation as functional information:

 

Neuronal connections in the brain are an effective medium that nature has provided through the mechanisms of self-organization and natural selection. But the important concept here, as these simple experiments on people reveal, is biologically relevant information. Such functional information can be conveyed by local connections and between distant areas, both by two-way interactions. In this capacity, local~global and integration~segregation are two of the key complementary pairs of coordination dynamics.

 

So how does coordination dynamics explain all these phenomena? And what are the implications of this different view of the brain for the complementary nature? The empirical data suggest that integration (pure coordination) and segregation (no coordination) in both brain and behavior may be viewed as polar, idealized extremes and that the key to understanding lies in the dynamical interplay of integration~segregation tendencies. As a candidate science of the complementary nature, coordination dynamics must minimally be able to explain both polarized complementary aspects and all that falls in between them.

 

The book cites a series of complements and a general relation:

 

Heterogeneity~Homogeneity, Oscillation~Rhythm and Coupling~Uncoupling and summarises them in a General process equation  , where the rate of change of the coordination variable, cv, is a function f of three basic factors: the momentary value of the coordination variable cv itself; one or more control parameters cp; and noisy fluctuations, F. Recall that coordination variables capture the functional nature of behavioral patterns. Such coordination variables can be quite abstract in that they can characterize coordination among the same and different kinds of elements and processes (homogeneous~heterogeneous).

 

Key here is the fact that these capture only the functional nature of behavioural patterns, not subjective consciousness. This approach is similar to that of autopoiesis (Maturana & Varela 1972) in that it provides a complementary objective description of physical and mental phenomena as complementary views of reality described by systems analysis without explaining the hard problem of subjective conscious experience.

 

Scott Kelso’s work has also become the basis of more wide ranging explorations. Brian Josephson (2019) in “The Physics of Mind and Thought” utilises biosemiotics to provide a possible explanation of the quantum measurement problem:

 

Regular physics is unsatisfactory in that it fails to take into consideration phenomena relating to mind and meaning, whereas on the other side of the cultural divide such constructs have been studied in detail. … On the other side of the cultural divide, there is the fundamental idea of a sign, the study of which originated in the semiotic concepts developed in the nineteenth century by Charles Sanders Peirce, more recently taken up by biologists, thereby founding the subject of biosemiotics (Hoffmeyer 2008 a, b). Semiotics emphasises the role of interpretation, a process connecting signs with corresponding objects, or more generally mediation, a process involving situations where a third entity influences the relationship between two others. Such mechanisms play a key role in biology, and one that is essential for effective biological function.

 

Sign use, as originally argued by Peirce and subsequently developed by Deacon (1998) and by Favareau (2015), is of three types, iconic, indexical, and symbolic. The first two types of sign involve entities in the immediate environment, but symbolic use, which use appears to be confined to human beings, can involve manipulations concerning entities absent from the immediate environment, which faculty is attributed by Deacon to a human ability to avoid being too involved in the current situation during mental activity. This can be understood in terms of memory mechanisms that can, as it were, hold on to signs so as to be able to act systematically with them, and thereby develop ‘games’ such as mathematics.

 

The basic problem with quantum mechanics is that a person’s decision as to what aspect of nature to observe can have real consequences, and it is unclear how such mental activity can be integrated with traditional physics; we cannot simply leave out the observer. A thesis in the above has been that semiotics (sign theory) will play a central role in such a future integrated physics, a basic task for such a future physics being that of bridging the gap between signs and the phenomena addressed by current physics, thereby arriving at an integrated point of view. A similar situation arises in conventional science, where a gap of this kind exists between fundamental physics and biology, one that can be bridged taking due account of a succession of levels, utilising a range of specialised approaches to deal with these.

 

Josephson (2019) in "The Physics of Mind and Thought" explores using biosemiotics to integrate physical cosmology with mind and meaning:

 

Regular physics is unsatisfactory in that it fails to take into consideration phenomena relating to mind and meaning, whereas on the other side of the cultural divide such constructs have been studied in detail. This paper discusses a possible synthesis of the two perspectives. Crucial is the way systems realising mental function can develop step by step on the basis of the scaffolding mechanisms of Hoffmeyer (2008 a, b), in a way that can be clarified by consideration of the phenomenon of language. Taking into account such constructs, aspects of which are apparent even with simple systems such as acoustically excited water, as with cymatics, potentially opens up a window into a world of mentality excluded from conventional physics as a result of the primary focus of the latter on the matter-like aspect of reality.

 

Josephson (2021) seeks to extend the complementation of quantum physics with socio-political systems of Barad, to invert the usual “theory of everything” approach to particle cosmology by treating it as an expression of goal seeking agents. He notes that both Bohm’s notion of the implicate order and mind-like processes have been invoked:

 

In the following a more explicit picture is proposed, based on the existence of parallels between spontaneously fluctuating equilibrium states and life processes. Focus on the processes of natural language suggests a picture involving an evolving ensemble of experts, each with its own goals but nevertheless acting in harmony with each other. The details of how such an ensemble might function and evolve can translate into aspects of the world of fundamental physics such as symmetry and symmetry breaking, and can be expected to be the source of explicit models. This picture differs from that of regular physics in that goal-directedness has an important role to play, contrasting with that of the conventional view which implies a meaningless universe.

 

Josephson & Majumdar (2021) extend this, invoking Wheeler’s notion that physical reality may be manifest through participating conscious observers through quantum measurement to use nonlinear dynamics, taking into account biological factors:

 

The constraint that structures that develop should have biological value is shown to be able to account naturally for many features of the quantum domain, thus providing an alternative paradigm to the conventional ‘theory of everything’ one, which has over time become problematic. For the future, detailed investigation of nonlinear dynamics along the lines discussed here is likely to be more fruitful in regard to the problem of understanding nature than continuing current attempts to tweak 'theories of everything' to fit. 

 

Majumdar & Josephson (2020) formulate physics using system dynamics of self-selected fluctuations and correlations in a fundamental field:

 

Instead of the traditional reductionist method of looking at phenomena in nature, we look at how the interplay of symmetry breaking and entanglement of subsystems within this unified field leads to entropic complexification – which appears as the fundamental interactions and particles. This complexification optimizes system configurations to facilitate energy dissipation. The fluctuations in the background field encode laws for phenomena based on the stability, recurrence and patterns of these fluctuations.

 

Chris Nunn:  Go down the timelessnessroute and you end up with some picture like Julian Barbours path. The answer to this paradox could perhaps be that temporal extension is (proto)consciousness,

 

Chris King: I have two complementary views of conscious experience that overlap, just like the relativistic and quantum descriptions.

 

One is temporal and is our reckless journey through the multiverse, looking through our blind eye, as Nelson did at the signal to retreat in the Battle of Copenhagen, creating history for good or ill as we speak. Thats the quantum consciousness IS uncertainty vision.

 

The other is eternal relativistic timelessness, in which everything that we have been and will be is laid out, looking from sideways on in space-time from alpha to Omega, as a thing already achievedas Maria Sabina said of her mushroom experiences. This doesn't mean everything is determined or teleological, but it's the view after all the transactional handshaking has taken place, of the great trip we and everyone took, so we can look on it from far off, perceiving as the compassionate, eternal consciousness we actually are. But Omega, as I have said is not the end point. The consummation of existence is not Omega but the interactive Sigma – Paradise on the cosmic equator in space time.

 

Chris Nunn:  But isn’t ‘consciousnessa correlate at least of what removes uncertainty. The two concepts seem to lie at opposite poles of the same truth and it looks like we need some happy mean. And an idea of temporo-spatial evolution can provide one – ‘threadsof consciousness-associated time getting woven into ever more elaborate forms.

 

Chris King: I do like your woven threads of consciousness a lot and yes interactive consciousness is just like that.  Consciousness is here to mitigate, mediate, or utilise uncertainty as the need may be. However uncertainty is not the opposite of consciousness, but an inside out view of the same thing.

 

It also depends on our frame of reference. If we are looking at brain states, if there is no uncertainty in our brain state then we are a zombie, or a robot. There is no role for subjective consciousness at all. So from the physical perspective the brain state needs to enter an uncertain state for subjective consciousness to be able to intervene and affect outcomes. From the subjective perspective this is the opposite, because we cease being zombies and become conscious agents, removing uncertainty from the world as we act by creating real history.

 

But again centrally the uncertain states that are seriously going to threaten our survival in the wild are things like a snake strike. This is all caught up in the uncertainty of the way circumstances play out. We can try to do "good huntingand take the path we think the snake is less likely to be on, but the snake is going to play likewise to hunt me and take the path that I would least expect. These environmental problems are (a) computationally intractable and (b) quantum idiosyncratic, motivated by live volition and sheer coincidence. The same is true in modern society with other humans and traffic and hurricanes and diseases all playing wildcard elements.

 

So there is a deep correspondence between quantum uncertainty on all scales and conscious anticipation. Nelson knew he was looking through his blind eye and that it would change the course of history. It did. But the terrible acid test is that this looks like consciousness is staring right into the quanglement and fishing for a collapse state by some kind of transactional hand-shaking between past and future to anticipate the cat remaining alive.

 

Yes there are situations where we execute a well designed plan and things go like clockwork, but even in these situations there are multiple sequential non-IID situations about just how we handle a process and the uncertainties that inevitably lead to uncertainty. The brain has worked out how to do this seamlessly because operating at the edge of chaos allows the uncertain regime and the determinate boundary conditions of consciousness to coexist in the dynamical system and for bifurcations into and out of uncertainty.

 

The real evolutionary victory of the conscious brain happened at the eucaryote endosymbiosis when the excitable membrane became a sensory and social communication dynamic in self-feedback. This is where we can look for the secret of this existential anticipation dynamic because the brain is just a very advanced society of social amoebo-flagellates locked in psychic" symbiosis through brain resonances, so to speak. The result is that we do not understand uncertainty or what its deep link to us is. We think of it as randomness but all randomness ultimately is a secondary product of quantum uncertainty and it's obvious that a multiplicity of entanglements lead to a vast network of correlations. The randomness only appears as we approach the classical Born rule situation by travelling down an IID sequence.  So the paradox becomes uncertainty = free will.

 

Chris Nunn:  There are two separate, albeit inter-related, issues here. One is neural deterministic chaos with its pseudo-random outcomes and unpredictability in anything other than the very short term, plus its capacity for harbouring strange attractors (usually termed memories!). The other is the huge question, albeit one thats often ignored, as to whether the entire quanglementrealm is similarly constituted. There are major empirical problems with supposing that quantum EM fields dont embody pseudo-randomness and associated universal structure, though ones constrained by the Higgs field may be more localised (the relevant experiments havent been done yet).

 

Chris King:  This is the absolute nub. We can argue about all the other details, but here is the jewel in the lotus. Tuneable chaotic neurodynamics as Freeman emphasised is not classical deterministic chaos because it's the dynamics of quantum structures, so the use of edge-of-chaos in neurodynamics is not deterministic dynamical chaos, as in a mathematical system like the logistic iteration or the Lorenz flow. These are classical ideals and are not realistic.

 

The key is the point you are making about whether, for example phase coherence in distinguishing conscious states from subconscious, that Pribram emphasised, is more than just an analogy with quantum measurement and is something fundamental about quantum measurement and entanglement. I think it is and it is because the superficial evidence is that the brain is deriving an anticipatory advantage in environmental uncertainty from using phase angle coherence sampling at the edge-of-dynamical chaos. The only way this makes sense is that its advantageous to survival as a form of quantum anticipation, despite trading off potentially noisy disruption of classical causality.

 

Neurodynamics is a non IID-quantum process whose contexts are continually changing, so no approach to the Born interpretation occurs, so the whole thing needs to be treated quantum theoretically, which is beyond the scope of current science. The neuroscience area is still stuck in the classical paradigm, so you refer to deterministic chaos but it isnt classical. We just simply haven't caught up conceptually with the entangled quantum universe we are consciously existing in. The fallacy lies in looking for isolated phenomena like the ion channel where we can be convinced we are at the quantum level and accepting only those as quantum effects and treating all other aspects of neurodynamics as classical by default.

 

My take is that Pribrams analogy is an actuality. This idea of quantum coherence measurement is reinforced by the fact that individual action potentials are phase correlated with the local continuous field potentials in a hand-shaking resonance, so the EEG is not just an artefact of acton potential averages, but a genuine wave function. Thus the brain can seriously be looked at as a massively parallel quantum measurement process, where EEG modes are analogous to, or actually are, quantum excitons”.

 

Chris Nunn:  I like to think that the conversion process can be viewed as the endowment of abstractions with temporal extension. You might object that one could equally well say spatial extensionbut I dont think that would be correct because spatial extension (i.e. position) is already present in the abstraction(i.e. the wave function), whereas temporal position isn’t.

 

Chris King: I agree about temporal extension, but I would add that the wave function, if you are referring to the quantum wave function, is both spatially and temporally extended, as in the Feynman and transactional descriptions, and vastly temporally extended into both the past and future to put it mildly.

 

Chris Nunn: Theres much confusion about free will. It may best be regarded as the capacity of volitional consciousness to influence behaviour and its own future content, leaving out questions about the determinants of volitional consciousness. I agree that it is not fully determined by purely neural constraints, though social constraints on it are very  significant. To a large extent true freedommay depend on an interplay between neural and social constraints, perhaps with some input from both (pseudo) randomness and universal quanglement’ structure.

 

Chris King: Absolutely!

 

Chris Nunn: I think of Freeman neurodynamics in terms of landscapesin classical dynamic state space. True Freeman (and Vitiello) tried to apply the maths of QFT to these but, so far as I know, this was mainly because of the need to cope with almost infinite dimensionality. The advantage of staying classical is that it provides a ready explanation of a wide range of properties, especially sleep which is all about smoothing out excessive landscape ruttingalong with fitting new attractors into existing landscapes.

 

Chris King: You are absolutely right here. This is the way he did it in great detail using differential equations modelling excitatory and inhibitory feedback, generating phenomena of classical chaos and it is beautifully informative of transitions from high energy chaos into existing, or even new attractors from learning.

 

The complications starts to set in when we go from the classical model to actual EEG potentials, where we are measuring a classical signal of discretely sampled voltages in a time series, which we conceive of as continuous potential variations in the scalp, or more deeply on the cortical surface. Qasim et al. (2021) have shown that action potentials are phase responsive to the local continuous field potential which people in turn believe is a tissue average of the effects of the same action potentials, so we have a particular kind of discrete-continuous feedback here which has the complementary characteristics we see in wave function reduction to the particle. Im not saying they are the same, but that they both have a discrete continuous complementarity based on phase which is exactly what the uncertainty principle says in terms of counting wave beats to determine time uncertainty of the energy.

 

And without saying ion channels are the only quantum process, individual action potentials are only a step of scale away from the ion channel because threshold tuning in the neuron is a form of self-organised criticality that in threshold can make the action potential sensitive to the ion channel.

 

Chris Nunn: Any influence of quantum coherence on these landscape features is likely to depend on structured modification of classical dynamic timings, according to this picture.

 

Chris King: So this is where I think the classical description you are advancing starts to break down. We don't actually have a classical picture, we have a classical model and a biological picture and the biological picture is a fractal process with scale handshaking. Moreover isolating the ion channel as the only plausible quantum level is wrong because the whole picture is one fractal reverberating process which is as far from IID-convergence to the classical as living thermodynamics is from equilibrium.

 

So the answer to the above is that it is wrong to think of the process on one level as classical in a way we can conceive of e.g. thinking of the neuron in terms of classical differential equations and then assume its classical and say any quantum effects are going to have to prove themselves and possibly complicate the classical process. The reality is the whole thing evolved as a reverberating quantum system and things on a larger scale that we think of as classical are actually inflatedquantum processes throughout, particularly given the butterfly effect, because the failure to converge to the classical means everything is not causally localised in the way we are anticipating.

 

This is a very hard call for experimental and theoretical science because, if non-IID processes do formally fail to converge to the classical overall, we haven't even started to embark on the scientific journey of how to make sense of this. This is why I think proving classical causal brain closure is scientifically impossible, so that the simple affirmation of subjective conscious physical volition carries far more analytical power and evidential weight and overturns physical materialism at the outset.

 

Chris Nunn: The way Id see this is that phase coherence, whether classical or quantum, mediates attachment of memory-dependent meaning to information. The meaning is represented in terms of ever evolving topological structures, ones that can usefully be thought of as woven tapestries, which become conscious if temporal looping allows memories of the occurrence of the meanings. Any anticipation’ (‘Bayesian brain’ manifestations) would usually be a function of indirect, long term classical loopings usually referred to as learning’. ‘Quantum anticipationswould have a secondary role, dependent on effects of entanglement structureon classical neural coherence timings, that could be responsible for a range of ‘psi’ phenomena.

 

Chris King: All these things may be true as well, but the difference with edge-of-chaos quantum dynamics is that all these processes you are describing are now boundary condition filters on root uncertainty, rather than root causalities, so depending on how robust they are in a given context they can dominate overall in some situations and are manifestly incomplete in others.

 

Chris Nunn: Agreed, though we do need to retain conceptual distinctions for many purposes. Like the weather out there, lots of neural dynamics are mainly classical. They may be a lot more sensitive than the weather to any influences of quanglement structure, but its still a limited influence.

 

Chris King: I think we need to replace mainly classicalwith formative classical boundary conditions on uncertainty”.

 

Chris Nunn: Agreed theres a lot to be said for musical analogies, but its a music that we experience synaesthetically - as Scriabin, for instance, saw shapes in sounds. Your view of EEG modes has a lot in common with Johnjoe McFadden’s ‘cemi-fieldtheory (McFadden 2020). I prefer to think of them as creating form in the structure of time – and time, of course, is a constraint on quantum particles – not itself a wave function derivable particle’.

 

Chris King: Thats very complicated. The way I enter the nierika on mushrooms is a synaesthesic resonance between rushing chirping sounds and the visual patterns before me and then as I’m “listeningto it all, it expands into vistas that I can see in the corner of my eye with exquisite observational detail, and then if I let go, I fall into the synaesthesia and then thats down the moksha rabbit hole until I come catapulting out at some later point and realise what the hell just happened to me?and recollect the full impact of the journey I have taken. While this IS a musical analogy it's also a cosmological reality, just like the particle trails in the LHC are. Whatever time is in this picture is still in the process of being elucidated, as the paradoxes of quantum gravity intimate.

 

Chris Nunn: Wouldnt it be more correct to say that wave functions dont own inherent spatio-temporal extension, except universally, and via incorporation of a potentiality for defining spatial localisations?

 

Chris King: This is really deep and complicated. I really wanted to finish with the transactional interpretation, so here it is. Both the Feynman description of virtual particle exchanges in QED and the transactional interpretation of real particle exchanges involve special relativistic hand-shaking between past emitters and future absorbers. Looked at from the transactional viewpoint, before we open the cats box there is a web of past-future handshaking transactions. Somehow, as we open the box, this web is decomposed in some kind of non-linear interaction and as we look inside, there is one emitter and one absorber and if the latter was in the geiger counter, the cat is no more. But this process doesnt go from past to present to future. It's transversal to elapsing time, which is why I called it trans-causalityin 1985 when I wrote Dual-time Supercausality”.

 

This is the jewel in the lotus that is yet to teach us where quasi-randomness and randomness both meet their match in the partially collapsing entanglement. The key point is it spans space-time as we know it and the process has paradoxical constraints. It has to look quasi-random in terms of the Born interpretation at one end, but it has to manifest precise correlations between each of the entangled components at the other. That is the second lesson after we sing the musical hymns to reality and take another long journey into the unknown!

 

Chris Nunn: Looks like a very nice concept resonance! The only additional point Id like to make is that  Qasim et als finding probably relates to the largest scale of a (pseudo) fractal structure of brain dynamics in which the smallest scales relate to neuronal contributions to dendritic plexi, intermediate scales to astrocytic domainsand largest scales to EEG fields generally.  Anyhow, I suppose next step is how to test all this in a way that has some chance of convincing neuropsychologists generally. The fate of Daryl Bem and others pre-sponse’ (‘pre-sentiment) findings shows this isnt easy. An example of something that might work better is that our ideas (along with John Jay Kineman’s ‘holonicconcept) would seem to predict something very like Rupert Sheldrakes formative causation, at least in relation to learning by brains and possibly generally. Shouldnt be too hard to convincingly test that if someone would provide the resources. What do you think? Any other suggestions?

 

Chris King: I have an issue with Sheldrake's formative causation. This to me is causally what RNA would be like if the polymerisation were exothermic i.e. it would become an irreversible clunker. I had a conversation with Rupert in the 1980s and tried to point out that the leading edge issue is creative insight, not morphic resonance. Its a space-time problem to which anticipation is key not just spatial replication. Its getting the first instance of an idea that is formative, not replication ad nauseam. The idea that this replicates afterwards is not explaining the creative source and it leads to a teleological fait accompli. Thus I think the notion is a hopeful evolutionary monster.

 

Chris Nunn: Thats one way of looking at it. Id see formative causationas analogous to neural learning but embodied in a quanglement landscape, not a neural dynamic state space one. Just as with neural learning, the relevant quanglement feature can be expected to deepenwith repetition. The assumption here is that there is feedback from classical dynamics to quantum field structurebut this is implicit in all our models Yours, Johns, mine and possibly Penrose’s).

 

Chris King: Thats a good insight! I agree basically. I spent the day going over Penrose and Hameroff which I do think is off the beam, so thats how I stated my summary, but it made me think again about Penrose's space-time blistering idea and yes he is also saying uncertainty is not random at least in his confined context to the microtubules so it does fit with a kind of quanglement learning process, in particular the idea that at least some forms of entanglement are non-random and might be connected to mind states.

 

The Diverse States of Subjective Consciousness

 

A key issue in this discussion, particularly in regard to the materialist emphasis of neuroscience, is the fact that there are diverse states of conscious experience that extend far beyond and deeper into our awareness than the states of everyday experience of the world around us. Those who spend virtually all their living existence only relating to the everyday waking state can easily slip into identifying subjective consciousness with merely being an internal model of physical reality around them and then succumb to mind-brain identity, or exclusively materialistic conceptions of subjective consciousness as a brain mechanism.

 

This belies the complexity and depth of the problem of consciousness because there are a variety of states of non-ordinary consciousness, which are neither imaginary, nor simply hallucinatory, nor are they just random uncoordinated phenomena, but are perceived as veridical experiences having the same, or qualitatively similar reality value, to our experiences of the world around us.

 

Fig 39: The sheer diversity of conscious mental states need exploration in their own right

without a priori assumptions.

 

These include:

 

(a) Dreams particularly the richer end of the REM spectrum of states, including lucid and prescient dreams.

 

(b) Psychedelic experiences, which ‘reveal’ internal realities, from kaleidoscopic geometric visions to whole scenes and encounters, generally of a radically different nature to those of dreams, meditation on its own and ordinary consciousness. These constitute the traditional sacramental routes to entheogenic realisation, or moksha.

 

(c)  Dissociative experiences such as induced in different ways by salvinorin-A and the anaesthetic ketamine, which differ from psychedelics in both their mechanism and their experiential character.

 

(d) Meditative and contemplative states of sensory withdrawal and ego loss. These are the traditional non-sacramental routes to mystical union, moksha and satori, which complement the sacramental routes in (b).

 

(e) Psychic and parapsychological experiences, including (1) precognition, (2)  prescience & deja vu, (3) uncanny unexplained coincidences, (4) telepathy, and (5) psychokinesis.

 

(f)  Near death experiences NDEs and out of body experiences OBEs.

 

Moksha [29] means release from the cycle of birth and death in this life  in the sense of experiencing and realising the conscious cosmic unity that transcends the physically mortal condition.

 

Dreaming states tend to be the most fully fledged experiences of non-ordinary reality human being expereince although ephemeral in that they can only be recalled during waking. They are also veridical sentient experiences that are highly unpredictable, creative, and although they may reflect recent experiences may also hint at future experiences that come true later, hinting a a deep time-spanning reality underlying existential consciousness. This appears to go far beyond the cited functional roles of REM and deep sleep in memory. Lucid dreaming states, although difficult to initiate and unstable either to immediate awakening by activating the reticular activating system or subject to a false awakening and reversion to the normal REM state, can enable the conscious observer to experience an often very exotic mental state in real time by recognising they are dreaming during the dream state.

 

Psychedelic and dissociative experiences are non-ordinary waking states that, by contrast with dreaming sleep, can be experienced and interrogated consciously.  We have already discussed psychedelic experiences extensively throughout this work. Psychedelic states have particularly striking attributes, especially when combined with meditative withdrawal, characterised by “ultimate reality” and types of abstract perceptual experience having intense reality value radically different form any other kinds of experience. These are not hallucinations and their nature needs a great deal of further subjective exploration to begin to fully fathom.

 

Meditative experiences, although more controlled and tending more to mindfulness and compassion likewise stand in the Eastern tradition as a central route to union with cosmic reality exemplified in the union of Brahman and the atman.

 

Parapsychological experiences, which are the orphans of materialistic science, are perceived as common place by many individuals and surveys indicate a degree of statistical support (Cardena 2018, Wardell 2019, Giroldini 1991). Some of these, such as (1) and (2)  may be associated with deep properties of the quantum universe, hinted at in the Feynman formalism, weak quantum measurement and the transactional interpretation.

 

These diverse forms of subjective experience present a deep and complex domain of sub