Symbiotic Existential

Cosmology

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Chris King

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0  doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.32891.23846
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Update 5-8-2021 11-2022

 

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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 Change

Fractal, Panpsychic and Symbiotic Cosmologies

Cosmological Symbiosis

The Evolutionary Landscape of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Evolutionary Origins of Conscious Experience

Animistic, Eastern and Western Traditions and Entheogenic Use

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

Biocrisis, ,

The Vision Quest to Discover Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

The Evolution of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

Resplendence

A Moksha Epiphany

   Epilogue   

            References

  Appendix: Varieties of Panpsychic Philosophy

 

 

Consciousness is eternal, life is immortal.

Incarnate existence is Paradise on the Cosmic equator

in space-time the living consummation of all worlds.

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

 

 

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

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

Conscious Mind, Resonant Brain

Cartesian Theatres and Virtual Machines

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

Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind

Therapy and Quantum Change: The Results from Scientific Studies

Biocosmology, Panpsychism and Symbiotic Cosmology

Fractal Biocosmology

Darwinian Cosmological Panpsychism

Cosmological Symbiosis

Symbiosis and its Cosmological Significance

The Evolutionary Landscape of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

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

The Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

The Evolving Human Genotype: Developmental Evolution and Viral Symbiosis

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

Gene Culture Coevolution

The Emergence of Language

Niche Construction, Habitat Destruction and the Anthropocene

Democratic Capitalism, Commerce and Company Law

Science, Religion and Gene-Culture Coevolution

The Noosphere, Symbiosis and the Omega Point

Animism, Religion, Sacrament and Cosmology

Is Polyphasic Consciousness Necessary for Global Survival?

The Grim Ecological Reckoning of History

Anthropological Assumptions and Coexistential Realities

Shipibo: Split Creations and World Trees

Meso-American Animism and the Huichol

The Kami of Japanese Shinto

Maori Maatauranga

Pygmy Cultures and Animistic Forest Symbiosis

San Bushmen as Founding Animists

The Key to Our Future Buried in the Past

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

References
Appendix: Varieties of Panpsychic Philosophy

 

 

Dedication


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

The core cosmology has three principles

(1) Biogenic: Conscious life is the complexity climax of the cosmological structural pathway.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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


The Core of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

For Elinor, Albert and Isaac

 

Saving the Diversity of Life from Mass Extinction

 

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

 

The Conscious Universe

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Humanity and the Biosphere

 

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

 

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

 

Complementary Conscious Cosmology

 

If we start with the physical  brain and try to understand subjectivity, we end up with the hard problem of consciousnessthe explanatory gap, that no brain process manifests the subjective aspect of conscious experience, that is universal to our awareness of ourselves and the world around us. This appears to be an irreducible problem constituting a category error objective properties and processes cant of themselves manifest conscious subjectivity.

 

If we reverse the logic we get the following matter has a subjective complement. So the brain as a whole has subjectivity. But then it's a physical property, not just a biological product of complexity, so its universal, or more accurately cosmological.

 

That means all quanta have to have subjectivity and volition. But thats exactly what we see when we examine quanta:

 

(1) Quantum Consciousness: Any wave function in the wild is a history and future of real or potential entanglements, forming a type of consciousnessof the quantums world, past and future i.e. a global representation of the entire relationship.

(2) Quantum Volition: For a single quantum e.g. in a two slit interference experiment, the outcome is uncertain it can end anywhere on the photographic plate without causal conflict. The only constraint is that, on repeated outcomes, the probability of where a particle ends up is normalised by the power of the wave function at that point. But probabilities don't determine any individual path, so each quantum has free will to end up anywhere and clearly makes a choice.

 

Primitive Cosmological Subjectivity: This form of subjectivity is co-eval co-originating with the Big Bang. Because it's subjective, we can't see its manifestations directly but they help explain why the world looks semi-classical because quanta can then also act as observers. So we end up with a dynamic quantum universe in a partial state of collapse of its wave functions with new superpositions emerging all the time. This means quantum and unstable quantum sensitive phenomena can exhibit this subjectivity and free wille.g.  in tornadoes, hurricanes, biogenesis and simpler prokaryote life forms.

 

Discrete Conscious Emergence: The eucaryote endo-symbiosis, in which a species of archaea incorporated respiring bacteria to become our mitochondria, resulted in a completely new phenomenon attentive sentient consciousness when the cell membrane became freed from respiratory electron transport, enabling it to become a sensitively dependent sentient excitation at the edge of chaos with neurotransmitters also enabling social signalling. This emergent aspect of consciousness as we know it, occurred in a discrete topological transformation of the nature of the cell, and in turn, it utilises primitive subjectivity to manifest consciousness in a vastly more coordinated form in our personal experience.

 

Organismic Consciousness: Complex mammalian brains, including our own, consist of intimately coupled societies of amoebo-flagellate cells communicating via the same social signalling molecules they used to ensure the survival of the collective single-celled organism. The brain thus acts as an integrally coupled form of cellular consciousness through edge of chaos phase coupled neurodynamics forming a contextual boundary condition, shaping primitive subjectivity to evoke the environmental context essential to the organism's survival. Primitive subjectivity is thus shaped into the conscious experiences we have through the constraints imposed by the brain as filter.

 

Moksha: When the brain is cycling in a state of sensory withdrawal in neutralin deep meditative and/or entheogenic states, subjectivity can approach a cosmological form in its own right which we experience as  ultimate reality, or Brahman by any other name. Our individual conscious experiences are thus encapsulated forms of cosmic, or ultimate consciousness in which we become the ultimate manifest form of primitive subjectivity.

 

This means that the physical universe and subjective consciousness are two complementary aspects of cosmological reality, just like the wave and particle aspects of quanta. Mind can't make matter and matter can't make mind they are complementary manifestations, like Shiva and Shakti, that make cosmology as we know it possible.

 


Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – A Scientific Overview

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

 

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

and Charles Darwin for the evolutionary diversity of free will.

 

Abstract:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Introduction:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 (Kristan 2016).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

Joachim Keppler (2018, 2021) presents an analysis drawing conscious experiences into the orbit of stochastic electrodynamics (SED) a semi-classical form of quantum field theory. The SED is based on the conception that the universe is imbued with an all-pervasive electromagnetic background field, the zero-point field (ZPF), which, in its original form, is a homogeneous, isotropic, scale-invariant and maximally disordered ocean of energy with completely uncorrelated field modes and a unique power spectral density. This is basically a simplification of the uncertainty associated with the quantum vacuum in depictions such as the Feynman approach to quantum electrodynamics (fig 4). This does not of itself solve the hard problem of subjectivity, because it is a purely physical model but does provide a basis to discuss the brain dynamics accompanying conscious states in terms of two hypotheses concerning the ZPF:

 

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

 

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

 

However Keppler claims to make this question clear as well:

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

  

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

  

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

 

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

 

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Symbiotic Existential Cosmology – Discovery and Philosophy

 

Contents:

 

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

The Weltanshauung of Immortality

Paradoxical Asymmetric Complementarity

 

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

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

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

 

The Existential Condition and the Physical Universe

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fig 14: The social evolution of

sociocracy models of society.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Turning Copernicus Inside Out

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

(Erwin Schrödinger 1944).

 


Conversation with Deepak Chopra

 

Discovering Life, the Universe and Everything

 

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

 

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

 

Fig 18: Pupil dilated by psilocybin.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

10 Biocrisis and Resplendence: Planetary Reflowering

 

The rape of Gaia – Mother Earth” – by the patriarchal imperatives of dominion over nature and business-as-usual exploitation is a suicidal insanity running through our cultural mind set, which humanity currently lacks the collective will to alleviate. Intervention for the common good is urgently necessary. For the mind at large to awaken even for a moment and become acutely aware of the carnage wrought upon the planet through the relentless exploitative impact of a single species Homo sapiens, it is obvious that, by its very compassion for the mortal coil it will impart to the beholder urgent tenacity to protect the living planet. This is precisely what I experienced in being galvanised to write these articles after a quantum change experience on sacred mushrooms after a seven year karmic drought, because of closed angle glaucoma. It is critical for our own survival and that of the living diversity of life as a whole.

 

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

 

Fig 181: (1) World population is predicted to continue to rise through to 2100 (Gerland et al. 2014), with the majority of the increase in sub-Saharan Africa (inset). This will increase the world population to 10 billion, with immense pressure on the African continents carrying capacity and pressure of migration on all continents. (2) Predicted long term effects of climate change (Burke et al. 2018) could lead to a catastrophic cumulative heating over millennia, taking the planet back to the previous hot period 50 million years ago, placing many of the plant and animal species on which we depend well out of their evolved climate zone, potentially leading to human extinction because of our continuing dependence on highly evolved plant and animal species (Burke et al. 2018). (3) Human intrusion into all available habitats causing wholesale natural habitat destruction means that the biomass of livestock is over 14 times that of all wild animals and the biomass of humans is over 8.5 times that of all wild animals (Bar-On et al. 2018). (4) This situation is unsustainable and leads directly to mass extinctions of biodiversity, which would take up to 50 million years to be addressed by subsequent evolution, as exemplified by previous mass extinctions. (5) Species losses of a variety of animal and plant phyla. The incipient sixth mass extinction that started in the Late Pleistocene has already put over a quarter of mammal species under acute risk of extinction (Leakey & Lewin 1995, Kolbert 2014, 2021, Davis et al. 2018, Dawson 2016).  Detailed calculations of mammalian species indicate a time frame of millions of years to recover from the current mass extinctions, by evolving new life forms, but those lost will never be recovered. Insects are also suffering catastrophic population decline due to habitat destruction. (7) Protected areas are manifestly insufficient to protect biological and genetic diversity. International agreement is urgently needed to extend these areas. (8) Scorched-earth clear felling for palm oil plantations has felled a third of Borneo’s forest almost overnight. Such wholesale habitat destruction is even worse than burning the rainforest because all living diversity is eradicated in favour of one monoclonal species. (8) Coral bleaching shows how climate change can lead to wholesale mass extinction of species in some of the most intense oceanic biodiversity hotspots, leading to a barren ocean.

 

The universe as we know it has been in existence for some 13 billion years, but for over around a quarter of this cosmic lifetime, around 3.6 billion years, life and its diversity and complexity has continued to evolve to the point of human emergence amid climax diversity, which has taken around 66 million years to recover from the mass extinction caused by the Chicxulub asteroid that extinguished the dinosaurs. Our impact is rapidly becoming worse and setting us for a warming taking us back 50 million and yet we remain unable to give the priority to correct it due to our own folly. More troubling, it runs the risk of a Permian type extinction, the most catastrophic mass extinction of multicellular life ever, which like our own climate crisis, was caused by extreme global warming.

 

 

 

Fig 181b: (a) The five mass extinctions dominated by the Permian, in which up to 95% of marine fauna expired. ( b) The Permian was not caused by an incoming asteroid but a huge peak in atmospheric CO2, precipitated by massive eruptions which resulted in the Siberian Traps. The eruptions continued for roughly two million years and spanned the PermianTriassic boundary, around 251.9 million years ago. (b, c) Historic temperatures and atmospheric CO2 since the Cambrian, 500 million years ago both show a massive peak at the boundary (marked * in (c) and (d)) (Mulhern 2021). This resulted in the oceans becoming depleted in oxygen, making them oceans uninhabitable particularly to more temperate species, likely exacerbated by lethal H2S contamination. (e) A 1.5-foot slab of rock from southern China shows the Permian-Triassic boundary. The bottom section is pre-extinction limestone. The upper section is microbial limestone deposited after the extinction. Three species that became extinct. (f) A fossilised spiralling shark tooth from Helicoprion, an extinct Permian shark species. (g) Diademaproetus, one of the trilobites that were plentiful in the world’s oceans but went extinct at the end of the Permian. (h) Paramblypterus, a species of fish that became extinct during the Permian.

 

During the end-Permian (P-T) extinction, 95 percent of all species on Earth became extinct, compared to only 75 percent during the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction, when a large asteroid impact, possibly exacerbated by ensuing volcanic activity, caused the dinosaurs to disappear. The impact of Homo sapiens on our planet is a striking example of how life can evolve to evoke existential crisis on a planetary scale, threatening both a mass extinction of living diversity by habitat destruction, runaway global heating from fossil fuel consumption and a possible nuclear holocaust, but there are others. Severe global heating can lead to the oceans becoming anoxic, resulting in oceanic bacteria using sulphate to poison the oceans and atmosphere with hydrogen sulphide.

 

We are used to the idea of the Gaia Hypothesis – that life is an integral part of a self-correcting global biochemical and geochemical process that keeps Earth conducive and habitable for life provided critical tipping points are not transgressed, to push this system beyond a point of no return. But what happens if things go too far? There is a known counterpoint to Gaia, and that is the Medea Hypothesis (Ward 2008) that under certain circumstances, living systems can also precipitate biochemical and geochemical feedback process that can bring about the mass extinction of life, like a mother killing her children.

 

The central cause of the Permian extinction is temperature-dependent hypoxia (Penn et al. 2018):

 

The conventional wisdom in the paleontological community has been that the Permian extinction was especially severe in tropical waters.Yet the model shows the hardest hit were organisms most sensitive to oxygen found far from the tropics. Many species that lived in the tropics also went extinct in the model, but it predicts that high-latitude species, especially those with high oxygen demands, were nearly completely wiped out ( study co-author Jonathan Payne).

 

Since tropical organismsmetabolisms were already adapted to fairly warm, lower-oxygen conditions, they could move away from the tropics and find the same conditions somewhere else,Deutsch said. But if an organism was adapted for a cold, oxygen-rich environment, then those conditions ceased to exist in the shallow oceans (study co-author Curtis Deutsch).

 

The huge igneous layers of the Siberian Traps (about 7 million km2 (3 million sq mi) of basaltic rock, with a volume of around 4 million km3 (1 million cu mi)) were formed by flood basalt volcanism from mantle plume, as in Iceland and Hawaii which rose until it impacted against the bottom of the Earth's crust pouring from great cracks in the land itself. As the magma rushed out into the air from its deep Earth origin, it carried enormous volumes of volcanic gas into the atmosphere, including hydrogen sulphide, methane and particularly carbon dioxide. If flood basalts are combined on a global scale with the more explosive volcanism that in addition, throws great quantities of ash and volcanic dust into the atmosphere, one might expect major effects on animals and plants.

 

Although the global heating caused by the erupted CO2 would not necessarily be enough on its own to cause a mass extinction of this scale, it could have set off a diabolical series of events that led to mass extinction. The Warner the tropical oceans the more the animal oxygen consumption. Normally, the deep ocean gets its oxygen from the atmosphere at the poles. Cold water there soaks up oxygen from the air and because cold water is dense, it sinks and slowly moves equator-ward, taking oxygen with it. The warmer the water, the less oxygen can dissolve and the slower the water sinks and moves toward the equator. The resulting atmospheric warming would in turn, warm surface ocean water enough to cause oceanic oxygen starvation by disrupting this conveyor belt flow, thus bringing less oxygen into the deep oceans. Once the oxygen is gone, the oceans become the realm of oceanic bacteria that obtain their oxygen stripping oxygen from sulphur oxide compounds such as sulphate, producing hydrogen sulphide, which kills aerobic organisms, as well as destroying the ozone layer protecting terrestrial plants. Methane produced in the ample swamps of this time period then has little to destroy it, so the atmosphere becomes laden with hydrogen sulphide, methane and ultra-violet radiation (Ward 2007, 2008). This scenario has been applied both to the Permian and succeeding Triassic-Jurassic (T-J) extinction (Kump, Pavlov & Arthur 2005, Richoz et al. (2012).

 

CO2 levels are determined by the imbalance between carbon sequestration (burial in sediments, capture by plants), and carbon emissions (decomposition and volcanic activity). Imbalances in this system created a downward trend in CO2 levels, leading to a glaciation period around 300 million years ago. This was followed by a period of intense volcanic activity, doubling CO2 concentration to about 1000 ppm. Levels then dropped until they reached todays concentrations during the [peak Eocene to] Oligocene era, 33 to 23 million years ago, when temperatures were still 4 to 6 degrees C higher than today. It can be said that history was shaped by CO2 levels, and the types of climates they would allow. Looking back at the 2 extra degrees of warmth last time CO2 levels were this high (Pliocene era, 3 million years ago), should be enough of a call to action, considering the damage two more degrees would cause today. (Mulhern 2021). 

 

Under a business-as-usual emissions scenarios, by 2100 warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of warming in the late Permian, and by the year 2300 it will reach between 35 and 50 percent. This study (Penn et al. 2018) highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change (Justin Penn).

 

The minimum land area requiring conservation attention to safeguard biodiversity

 

Fig 181c: Minimum land area for conserving terrestrial biodiversity. Components include PAs (light blue), KBAs (purple), and ecologically intact areas (dark blue). Where they overlap, PAs are shown above KBAs, which are shown above ecologically intact areas. New conservation priorities are in green. The Venn diagram shows the proportional overlap between features.

 

Ambitious conservation efforts are needed to stop the global biodiversity crisis (Allan et al. 2022). We estimate the minimum land area to secure important biodiversity areas, ecologically intact areas, and optimal locations for representation of species ranges and ecoregions. At least 64 million square kilometers (44% of terrestrial area) would require conservation attention (ranging from protected areas to land-use policies) to meet this goal.

 

Fig 181d: Gap analyses of species and ecoregion coverage within areas above. (A) Percentage of the distribution of each species (in different taxonomic groups; freshwater includes crabs, shrimp, and crayfish) and ecoregion area that overlaps. Boxplots show the median and 25th and 75th percentiles. (B) Percentage of species and ecoregions with an adequate proportion of their distribution overlapping existing conservation areas to meet specific coverage targets for species or ecoregions (orange).

 

More than 1.8 billion people live on these lands, so responses that promote autonomy, self-determination, equity, and sustainable management for safeguarding biodiversity are essential. Spatially explicit land-use scenarios suggest that 1.3 million square kilometers of this land is at risk of being converted for intensive human land uses by 2030, which requires immediate attention. However, a sevenfold difference exists between the amount of habitat converted in optimistic and pessimistic land-use scenarios, highlighting an opportunity to avert this crisis. Appropriate targets in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to encourage conservation of the identified land would contribute substantially to safeguarding biodiversity.

 

Fig 181e: National-level land area for conservation and projected habitat loss. Estimated proportion of each country requiring effective conservation attention to safeguard biodiversity that is projected to suffer habitat conversion by 2030 (orange) and 2050 (red) or that is projected not to be converted (blue), according to SSP3 (a worst-case scenario). Gray areas are outside the land identified for conservation. We excluded 85 countries with a land area <10,000 km2  from the figure.

 

 

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Fig 182: Evolutionary tree of life (King
2021c), with entheogenic molecules. Preserving the diversity of life and of conscious life in evolutionary time scales
is the prime responsibility of our sentient incarnation. Background: Amazon burning.

 

Fig 183:  Scenario maps Half Earth Project show (1) protected areas, (2) protected+community, (3) human pressures (4) biodiversity priority, (5) biodiversity richness and (6) biodiversity rarity. These show the difficulty of planning for a half-Earth scenario because some countries have high value habitats which urgently need conserving while others lack any significant protected areas. Furthermore protected areas are not identical with the biodiversity priorities. Habitats involving priority species and rare species are quite distinct from areas with the greatest richness (Rinnan & Jetz 2020). This means that protecting half Earth is going to require massive funding of some developing countries and wide scale consent and economic motivation on the part of developed countries  to resolve these questions. The science is critical to make the process as effective as possible but this is also going to take a huge change in the human world view to upgrade its urgency sufficiently.

 

If you look at the Amazon Basin it looks as though there is little overlap between biodiversity richness and human pressure, but we know that's not true because the Amazon is being ravaged by fire, mining and agriculture. Moreover The priorities for biodiversity also lie, prominently lie along the Andes, with high overlap with human impact.

 

Turn now to Africa and you will see a big conflict between human pressure and biodiversity priorities in the North East Congo and south to the Cape of Good Hope.  This means that stopping a serious mass extinction is going to have to involve a new kind of global planning and financing to compensate affected parties and to ensure consistent standards of protection and mitigation. Predictions of biodiversity at 2100 remain contradictory depending on how the driving factors interact (Sala et al. 2000). Wilderness areas halve the extinction risk of terrestrial biodiversity (Di Marco 2019).

 

Fig 184: Top left: Predicted loss of mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I haplotypes for nine montane aquatic insect species in Europe under business as usual IPCC 2080 CO2 emission scenario (Bálint et al. 2011).  Top right: Comparison of recent and distant past extinction rates with rates at which species are committed to extinctionduring the 21st century (Pereira et al. 2010). Bottom left: Map of expected change in biodiversity for the year 2100 under antagonistic interaction between drivers such as climate and habitat loss when the total biodiversity change equals the change resulting from the driver that is expected to have the largest effect and is calculated as the maximum of the effects of all the drivers (Sala et al. 2000).  All of the key tropical rainforest would be seriously affected. Bottom right: Estimated recent and future global biodiversity trends resulting from land-use change, with and without coordinated efforts to reverse trends (Leclère et al. 2020).  Habitat effects on their own contribute up to 20% loss in diversity (grey) unless adequate measures are taken (ochre). Mean extinction probability across studies making predictions of the future effects of climate change suggest a mean extinction probability of 10% across taxa and regions, whereas empirical evidence gave a mean probability of 14% (MacLean et al. 2011).


Davis et al. (2018) note that the incipient sixth mass extinction that started in the Late Pleistocene has already erased over 300 mammal species and, with them, more than 2.5 billion y of unique evolutionary history. At the global scale, this lost phylogenetic diversity (PD) can only be restored with time as lineages evolve and create new evolutionary history. Given the increasing rate of extinctions however, can mammals evolve fast enough to recover their lost PD on a human time scale? We use a birthdeath tree framework to show that even if extinction rates slow to pre-anthropogenic background levels, recovery of lost PD will likely take millions of years.

 

This is going to take a paradigm shift in world views to get anywhere in time. It needs to convey an urgency and a sense of cosmological meaning to support the undertaking both scientifically and religiously to actually get there. There has to be some sheer inspiration and conviction to do this.

 

Human impact is causing a mass extinction of biodiversity on a time scale that is almost as acute in terms of the adaption of life as the Dinosaur extinction and is rapidly approaching a series of tipping points that could throw the entire planet into a far less hospitable state, not just for the diversity of life but for our own survival. As the Earth heats due to CO2 and methane emissions, the albedo [73] of the white, light-reflecting poles shrinks, so that it absorbs more light increasing the heating. Destabilising the methane hydrates on the ocean floor can lead to a world-wide eruption of CH4 which is 20 times more active in solar heating than CO2. At the same time the entire forested areas of the planet that fix carbon are being replaced by pasture and agriculture, compounded by massive fires both lit intentionally to clear forest and arising naturally from lightning strikes due to increased heat and the drying out of forest areas.

 

 


Fig 185: Left: Summary of major environmental-change categories expressed as a percentage change relative to the baseline given in the text. Red indicates the percentage of the category that is damaged, lost, or otherwise affected, whereas blue indicates the percentage that is intact, remaining, or otherwise unaffected (Bradshaw et al. 2021). Right: Loss of evolutionary history is variable across mammalian orders. The heights of the bars show the amount of unique evolutionary history attributable to each mammal order at a preanthropogenic baseline (130,000 y ago). The right-hand y axis shows this same value as a percentage of global mammal PD at this baseline. The heights of the colored bars show the contribution to global PD projected to remain after 50 y of status quo conservation. Warm colors represent proportional contributions that are high for an order
s SR; cool colors show the reverse. The orders Didelphimorpha to Microbiotheria are shown at standard (A) and enlarged (B) scales (Davis et al. 2018).

 

As I was completing this work on on Boxing Day 2021, E O Wilson regarded as Darwin’s heir passed away. Here are three statements he made about Biodiversity in interview about his book “The Meaning of Human Existence”:

 

We are by instinct related closely to the survival of our distant ancestors by a driving need to strike nature as hard as we could, and to draw as much as we could from it. And we havent lost that at all. And now we come to a higher-level recognition that we struck too hard, and too far, and we are threatening the world that we first entered so aggressively and successfully in Africa. And we somehow have got to pull back our instincts to exploit and subordinate and convert to our immediate welfare—because if we take too much more of the Earths biodiversity we render the biosphere unstable. And we could, in the worst of circumstances, reach a tipping point in which the whole thing collapses—and we with it.

 

The living world the biosphere is a razor thin layer of organisms that have evolved over billions of years to create close to exactly the right combination of species and their interactions to maintain the conditions that they live in. Our minds and our bodies are particularly well designed by natural selection to live in those exact conditions and if we change it in any significant way, we die quickly, and so we should keep in mind that, when we destroy the living world by allowing species to go extinct, you're weakening the biosphere and eventually, you may reach a tipping point in which the whole thing starts to unravel, and when that happens pfuttt the end of everything.

 

Part of our problem is that we're a species that is narcissistic. We're intensely social and intensely interested in other people and that's how we keep our groups united and well coordinated. The result is that we're geniuses at social intelligence and really stupid when it comes to understanding how to manage the environment. We are a  badly adapted species right now. We have created civilisations in which we lead and live on parts of the planet on our own. And we haven't gotten over our emphasis on forming groups and having groups compete with each other. IT's easy for us to think that the world was made for us and we don't really need to know about the 8 million or so species on this planet, even when we're told that keeping them intact and making sure they continue to live is probably necessary for our long-term existence.

 


Fig 186: Phylogenetic distribution of hidden diversity estimated from consensus of delimitation results. Each silhouette represents a mammalian order with its shadow reflecting the ratio of predicted species to recognised species. Striped silhouettes represent orders with conflicting delimitation results that were not included in the predictive analysis (Parsons et al. 2022). The uncertainties may be much larger in other groups e.g. arthropods.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us a world which cannot realistically modify business as usual exploitation to address the human impact on the biosphere that precipitated the pandemic through trafficking and exploitation of wild animals. This inability risks a  potentially irreversible planetary tipping point. The fact that we can even temporarily be stopped in our tracks by a mere virus underscores the vulnerability of the human population to misadventure and the fragility of technological civilisation. By comparison with dealing with a pandemic, the cumulative problems of human impact are far more deleterious to both future quality of life and to the worlds economic viability, and could result in the mortality of billions of people. The problems are made all the more intractable because action requires international cooperation to transform our energy and consumption economies, but this is mired by national and political interests and resolute will can be unravelled all too easily by a single populist defector in a position of power, disrupting the capacity of the world to act cogently and scientifically.

 

Underlying the climate crisis is a much more serious and potentially devastating one for humanitys future quality of life, economic future and survival as a species, and that is the mass extinction (Leakey & Lewin 1996) of biodiversity, driven both by whiplash climate change and wholesale habitat destruction further exacerbated by deforestation and the burning of both the tropical rainforests and temperate forests of Earth, as well as the conversion of vast wilderness areas to monoculture. Whole geographical regions of the planet, both at cooler poles where temperatures changes are magnified and in the hotter drier tropics are likely to devastate their plant and animal diversity. The issues of biocrisis (King 2006-2020) and mass extinction are more serious than climate change or human induced pandemics and require a combined strategy of mitigation of habitat destruction, replanting of wilderness areas, conversion of food production and consumption to less polluting and carbon-intensive practices and collecting as much genetic diversity as possible in gene banks to conserve plant, bacterial, and fungal diversity. The fate of insects and other small multi-celled animals is also highly important for overall planetary fertility, as exemplified from honey bees to humming birds.

 

(a) Half Earth The biosphere needs immediate protection from human impact over a full half its surface and restoration by a clear dedicated program (Wilson 2016, Le Page 2018, Baillie & Zhang 2018, Dinerstein et al. 2019, Lambert 2020, Convention on Biological Diversity), and assisting diversity to replenish in the wilderness is essential for the long-term robustness of the biosphere’s diversity and of human species over evolutionary time scales. Although we are stripping the biosphere, we are very small on the face of the planet and dependent on stable food supplies. Planetary changes crossing tipping points, would have a much more serious long term impact on the viability of human species, let alone the economy, than by adopting the precautionary principle. Climate change remains a serious long term risk to biodiversity and the human population. Changes in the ocean level, once initiated will continue for up to 1000 years due to changes in the planetary albedo as the white polar caps melt. They could render vast land areas uninhabitable to humans and for food production reducing the economic carrying capacity of the planet for human life for millennia to come, with increasing destertification in some areas and flooding in others all impacting on biodiversity. Pollution, from estrogenic chemicals to ocean plastics, also needs urgent containment.

 

Fig 187: Left: Current state of world nuclear weapon stockpiles. Right: Tsar bomba 50 megatons video. Black rose video.

 

(b) Nuclear Holocaust  We remain in a situation of mutually-assured destruction due to a massive overkill of nuclear destructive power, which could also lead to a human and biodiversity genocide. This remains a key challenge and a dark comment on the patriarchal male-combat winner-take-all death-risking reproductive strategy, extrapolated to utopian proportions, which urgently needs to be addressed for the safety of the human species and the biosphere. This is human maleficence being appropriated to create a hair-trigger potential for mass destruction, rather than using this technology to avoid astronomical threats to biospheric survival.

 

The Federation of American Scientists notes: “Despite progress in reducing Cold War nuclear arsenals, the worlds combined inventory of nuclear warheads remains at a very high level: roughly 13,100 warheads as of early-2021. Of these, nearly 9,600 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which some 3,800 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which up to 2,000 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice. … All the nuclear weapon states continue to modernise their remaining nuclear forces, adding new types, increasing the role they serve, and appear committed to retaining nuclear weapons for the indefinite future”.

 

(c) Population and Patriarchy Population also remains a critical issue. This article presents a perspective in which consciousness is not just a human faculty but is shared widely by the biota, conveying at its heart, a reverence for the continuity and sacredness of conscious life. Patriarchal religions and cultures claim to represent the sanctity of life, but have abused it, both by suppressing female reproductive choice to ensure male paternity certainty and by encouraging unrestrained reproduction of their adherents as a means to social and world dominance, accompanied by dire penalties, from stoning for adultery, through enforced female veiling, chaperoning by male relatives, female genital mutilation, limitations on female education, careers and freedom of the female race to associate, and choose their/our own futures and sexual partners.

 

Fig 188: Recent and future population growth of world religions (Pew Research 2017, Wikipedia).

 

As noted in Sexual Paradox: Complementarity, Reproductive Conflict and Human Emergence (Fielder & King 2017) this frustrates the evolutionary process towards higher intelligence we have experienced in our XY-chromosomal evolutionary emergence.

 

Christianity and Islam together comprise a majority of the world population with religious believers constituting 84.5% of people. Heaven and Hell cosmology, discarding the living planet and natural diversity, in favour of a reliance on the after life, is in frank contradiction to, and conflict with, ensuring a sustainable and  immortal Paradise on Earth. This is not just a crime against nature, it is a crime against humanity and reality itself. Therefore the main thrust of Symbiotic Existential Cosmology is to change the religious weltanshauung, to that of the living immortality of life as a whole because transforming the religious paradigm is precisely the point of highest remedial capacity.

 

As can be seen from fig 181(3) the combined biomass of humanity and livestock is already 22.5 times that of all wild mammals an unsustainable ratio in evolutionary terms.  From fig 181(1) although population growth rates have begun to ease, the world population will still rise to 2100 putting severe pressure on sub-Saharan Africa and unsustainable pressure on biodiversity worldwide.

 

Both contraception and abortion have been opposed as violating God’s invocation to go forth and multiply, playing a central role in driving the population explosion and hence planetary destabilisation. Muslim and secondly Christian birth rates are the highest on the planet. Abortion is opposed as a heinous sin, but the sanctity of life is not just for a single offspring but the viability of our species in a finite enclosed biosphere. Therefore upholding the sanctity of life depends on respecting the ability of the females of the species, who bear responsibility for the ongoing immortal continuity of human life, to make reproductive choices and choices whether to sustain a pregnancy in terms of their bodies, and their future responsibilities, as mothers of children they need to support. At the same time, beginnings of a severe downturn in reproduction rates insufficient to maintain the population are in some developed countries turning into a flood that is also going to cause a population bust and seriously ageing populations, so both rampant opposition to abortion and the employment and career pressures on women in developed countries need to be removed, so that  human population dynamics can become culturally and biologically sustainable.

 

A revolutionary female-inspired economic antidote to the paradigm of the GDP and exponentiating growth imperatives, comes from Kate Raworth (2012), in her discussion paper  “A safe and just space for humanity” , forming an interactive template for regenerating a fair, sustainable social dynamics in the closing circle of the natural planetary ecosystem and environment, originally prepared under the auspices of Oxfam in the run-up to Rio+20. This is built on “A safe operating space for humanity” in which Johan Rockström et al. (2009)  propose numerical boundaries for seven parameters: climate change, ozone depletion, ocean acidification, biodiversity, freshwater use, the global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, and change in land use. The authors argue that we must stay within all of these boundaries in order to avoid catastrophic environmental change.

 

Fig 189: (Left) Beyond the boundary: The inner green shading represents the proposed safe operating space for nine planetary systems. The red wedges represent an estimate of the current position for each variable. The boundaries in three systems (rate of biodiversity loss, climate change and human interference with the nitrogen cycle), have already been exceeded. (Right) The Doughnut Economics model forming a closing circle balancing the outer limits of the sustainable biosphere with the inner shortfalls of human society spanning health, education, energy, food gender equality and social equity.

 

In Kate Raworth’s words [74]:

 

The goal of the doughnut is to meet the needs of all people within the means of the planet. Sometimes when I present the idea of Doughnut Economics, people say. "Is this capitalism? Or is this communism? Or is it socialism?" And you think 'Really Are these the only choices we have?' The -isms of the last century? Can we not come up with some ideas of our own and create new names for them and see new patterns?

 

Governments in every country are almost addicted to citing GDP figures as if this was proof of success and yet it's so clearly not. Because we have climate breakdown and Covid lockdown and financial meltdown, we have to pursue something far richer to move from this pursuit of endless growth, which we can now see is hitting us with crisis after crisis, moving too a goal of thriving. And the doughnut is possible to turn not into a single number, but into a dashboard. We can hold policy makers to account and say every year you need to talk about how you are making progress on these different dimensions of the Doughnut.

 

The outside of the doughnut is created by leading Earth system scientists just a decade ago. These are the nine life-supporting systems of planet Earth. To have a stable climate, healthy oceans, recharging fresh water. And they drew these and called them the planetary boundaries.  But I thought if we go to the centre of the circle where we use hardly any of the Earth's resources, that's not thriving, that is actually death and destitution for billions of people. We need to convert Earth's lands for food, for water, for housing for energy. So I drew this inner circle and so just as there is an outer limit of humanity's pressure on the planet so too there must be an inner limit. o the hold in the middle is a place where people are left falling short on the essentials of life. It's where people don't have the food, water, energy, healthcare, housing, education, political voice that every person has a claim to meeting. We want to leave nobody in this hole. Get everybody into the green ring of the Doughnut itself.

 

And I think smart policy makers realised that they don't need a solution to financial crisis and a different one to climate crisis and a different one to health emergencies. They need a paradigm that no longer pushes for endless growth, but instead focuses on thriving, on resilience and on well-being within communities.

 

We began with downscaling in rich cities, in high-income nations because they are the ones that have the greatest obligation to transform, to come back within the planetary boundaries. But I believe the framework that we've created can absolutely be adapted and used in low income countries and cities.

 

Since 2012, there have been initiatives to downscale the Doughnut Economy, so it can apply to individual countries and cities, starting with developed economies where there is an impending need to face these realities, with projects in Amsterdam and “Regenerate Costa Rica” and the spinoff DASH project where researchers have applied the Doughnut to the needs of 150 countries.

 

In short: (1) Give half the Earth back to re-wilding the wilderness, so there is enough species diversity for the biosphere to evolve. (2) Transition immediately to renewable energy. (3) Decentralise the food supply chains to protect humanity.      (4) Ensure the genetic diversity of our food and medicinal species. (5) Eliminate nukes and consider how best to avoid a massive asteroid Earth strike and protection from a nearby supernova. (6) Teach people how to live in symbiotic urban culture. (7) Use technology for the benefit of life as a whole, not for humanity alone, or an artificial intelligence takeover (Werthner 2022). (8) Celebrate the perennial wonder of existence throughout our generations forever Amen.

 

A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the 'Universe,a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself,

his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.

This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion

to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty” (Einstein)

 

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

 


Natural Sacraments and Cosmological Symbiosis [24]

Solving  the Central Enigma of Existential Cosmology

Chris King – 21-6-2021

In memory of Maria Sabina and Gordon Wasson

 

 

Contents

 

1 The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness

2 Psychedelic Agents in Indigenous American Cultures

3 Psychedelics in the Brain and Mind

4 Therapy and Quantum Change: Scientific Results

5 Evolutionary Origins of Excitability, Neurotransmitters and Conscious Experience

6 The Evolutionary Landscape of  Symbiotic Existential Cosmology

7 Fractal Biocosmology, Darwinian Cosmological Panpsychism and Symbiotic Cosmology

8 Animistic, Eastern and Western Traditions and Entheogenic Use

9 Natty Dread and Planetary Redemption

10 Biocrisis and Resplendence: Planetary Reflowering,  A Moksha Epiphany

 

Abstract:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

1 The Cosmological Problem of Consciousness

 

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

  


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

 

The Physical Viewpoint

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The core reason for the incredible technological success of science is not the assumption of macroscopic causality, but the fact that the quantum particles come in two kinds. The integral spin particles, called bosons, such as photons, can all cohere together, as in a laser and thus make forces and radiation, but the half-integer spin particles, called fermions, such as protons and electrons, which can only congregate in pairs of complementary spin, are incompressible and thus form matter, inducing a universal fractal complexity, via the non-linearity of the electromagnetic and other quantum forces. 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.

 

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Kastner (2012, 2014b) sets out the basis for extending the possibilist transactional interpretation or PTI, to the relativistic domain in 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.

 

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.  

 

However 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).

 

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 an entirely different view, from objective collapse to collapse and the Copenhagen approach which is purely epistemological, 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 retrocausal 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 retrocausal effects in weak quantum measurement, and delayed choice experiments.

 

Fig 24b: A transaction modelled by a phase transition
from plasma to solid throughout space-time.

 

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 poisitive energy photons, we know each photon came from the small region within the light source e.g. an LED chip, not quite determinate but in theory from the emitting source atom, but the location of the absorber is universally indeterminate. 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 is which absorber? In all these cases all the other potential absorbers have zero probability of absorption so the change occurs instantaneously across space-time to prospective absorbers both past and future, relative to the successful one. This IS the root problem of quantum measurement. Otherwise special relativistic quantum field theory is time symmetric. 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 non-linear phase transition in which all these hypothetical offer and confirmation waves turn into a real wave function linking creation and annihilation. It is the nature of this phase transition and its non-linearity which holds the keys to life the universe and everything and the nature of time itself.

 

So the full picture of a transaction is a population of real, or potential emitters in an excited state 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 a later point in space-time. This phase transition occurs across space-time covering both space-like and time-like intervals. It has many standard properties of a phase transition from plasma to solid, with a difference the strongest interactions dont win except with a probability determined by the relative power of the emitters wave amplitudes at the prospective absorption event. This guarantees the transaction conforms to the emitters 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 place-time point so ceases to be part of the transaction. Once this is the case, all other prospective absorbers of a given emitter scattered throughout space-time, both in the absorbers 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 across the whole of space-time, 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.

 

Note there is also no way of determining when or whether any stage of the overall transaction has been completed, because to test completion requires a detection (absorption) event, which by definition is no longer part of the overall transaction. In an interference experiment, we consider only those photons which have been emitted by the light source AND absorbed on the photographic plate or particle detector within the space-time frame of the experiment. All those that are absorbed anywhere else by definition escaped the transaction, as do all the other emitted photons which have already been absorbed on the plate.

 

Now this doesnt 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 spread across space-time not just an emitter based random amplitude-normalised probability. The process is implicitly retro-causal in the same way all forms of quantum entanglement experiment are, where the informational outcome is transmitted instantaneously to the other detector and the detectors can be separated by a space-like as well as a time-like interval.

 

What it does provide is a real collapse model in which the universe is neither stranded in an Everett probability multiverse, 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 in which conscious meaning is manifest in cosmic evolution and in which the universe is also in a state of dynamic collapse of quantum superpositions as we actually experience when we open Schrödinger’s cat box.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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 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.”

 

Catherine Reason (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 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.

 

Conscious Mind, Resonant Brain

 

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, much as in physical principles like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Each can possess multiple processing stages realising a hierarchical resolution of uncertainty. "Uncertainty" here means that computing one set of properties at a given stage prevents computation of a complementary set of properties at that stage.

 

His work "Conscious Mind, Resonant Brain" (2021) provides a panoramic view of the brain, from neural network theory all the way to conscious brains states, thus going far beyond the question of conscious experience alone. 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. The book 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 behaviors. 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 all its 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.

 

He 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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 always 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.

 

I think Steve’s representation of these mechanical aspects in the basal ganglia in Grossberg (2015) gives an 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 tiger’s 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 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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Experior, ergo sum, experimur, ergo sumus.

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

 

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

 

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

 

Fig 28b: 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).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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 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.