Cadell Last on a Emergentist Mental Theory of Consciousness

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Cadell Last:

"We have attempted to build a cosmic evolutionary philosophy and situate within this philosophy the fundamental dynamics of ideational motion on the horizon of universal process. Now we will attempt to situate ideational motion within a higher order theory of consciousness that can approach totality. In this theory of consciousness, we place less emphasis on the physical instantiation of consciousness within a materialist foundation and instead place more emphasis on historically-engaged phenomenal understanding as it relates to a fundamental truth of unified reality. In other words, this analysis is less concerned with whether consciousness is produced by neuronal activity, or by the quantum level of being, or by some other unknown physical mechanism; and is more concerned with the phenomenal activity of psychosocial forces as they relate to the historical search for the truth of reality.

In building this theory of consciousness, our analysis will forward a different perspective then most reflections since it will offer an emergentist mental theory, as opposed to a scientific reductionist theory or philosophical transcendentalist theory, seeking to understand totality in terms of its relevance to the meaning of human existence. This approach to totality is different than most contemporary theories because, instead of explaining totality in terms of the mechanics of sub-atomic reality or the eternal absolute, we are explaining totality in terms of general ideational motion engaged in history (like in the analysis of the physics community). Thus, we are interested in a totality capable of helping us understand how frames of reference and their conceptual transformations will be generally effected by scientific epistemology (artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, quantum computation, etc.). In this way, we seek to emphasize the hard work of an emergent unity or integration via collective historical processes of human individuation. Consequently, this theory of consciousness aims to elucidate a central dynamical narrative and value structure of being that is both grounded in cosmic evolution as a universal process (as emphasized in Part 2) and future-oriented towards a meaningful synthetical higher order level of ideational order (as emphasized in Part 3).

The first step in constructing a theory of consciousness with relevance to universal history is to situate our understanding within proper historical context. In order to move in this direction, let us first consider the main metaphysical systems of thought that have structured the history of philosophy. These main metaphysical systems of thought will be broadly classified from the Western perspective as ancient, modern, and deconstructionist metaphysics. In this general classification, we can say that ancient metaphysics structured the development of civilization in its predominantly agricultural phase; modern metaphysics structured the development of civilization in its predominantly industrial phase; and deconstructionist metaphysics has structured the development of civilization in its predominantly informational phase. Thus, these metaphysics represent the logical ideational substructure of civilization at different moments in the collective becoming of self-consciousness in universal history.

In this analysis, we will pragmatically utilize the dynamical triadic structure of the imaginary-symbolic-real from Section 3 in order to situate our analysis of each major phase of Western civilizational metaphysics. Here, the imaginary as theoretical abstractions, the symbolic as enacted transformations and the real as concrete actualization in its general psychosocial manifestation are applied to different historical conceptions of unity. From all three phases, we can generalize the human mind as situated on the level of the symbolic order because self-consciousness is a narrative construct organized with a symbolic architecture capable of enacting historical transformations.

However, what is considered imaginary (i.e., a theoretical abstraction) and real (i.e., a concrete actualization) will fundamentally change in all three major movements of civilization from ancient to modern to deconstructionist:

□ The ancient metaphysical structure considers as ‘real’ the ‘eternal ideal’ or God, and considers as ‘imaginary’ the ‘physical world’ or nature. Consequently, in ancient metaphysics, we get philosophies built around the ideals of a transcendent supernature that is primary in constituting the physical world and primary in relation to the human mind. Thus, ancient metaphysical systems forward the hypothesis that human beings come from an eternal ideal superspace before birth, return to an ideal superspace after death and are structured-constrained by an ideal superspace during existential (sexual-personal-creative) development.

□ The modern metaphysical structure considers as ‘real’ the ‘physical world’ or nature, and considers as ‘imaginary’ the temporality of the ideal. Consequently, in modern metaphysics, we get philosophies built around the natural world governed by eternal physical laws and ideas that have no ‘transcendental’ reality outside of their constitution in history. Thus, modern metaphysical systems forward the hypothesis that human beings come from nature before birth, return to nature after death, and are structured-constrained by the laws of physics during existential (sexual-personal-creative) development.

□ The deconstructionist metaphysical structure considers as ‘real’ the ‘secular power’ structures of society, and considers as ‘imaginary’ the various possible interpretations of the ‘physical world’. Consequently, in deconstructionist metaphysics, we get philosophies built around the negation of social systems that seek to totalize human existence and distort our relation to the natural world. Thus, deconstructionist metaphysical systems forward the hypothesis that human beings come from social systems, return to social systems after death and are structured-constrained by social systems during existential (sexual-personal-creative) development.

This broad analysis of metaphysical totality structures aims to situate consciousness as something that is constituted by the symbolic order and constantly re-structuring its transformative state of being in relation to different notions of what is an imaginary theoretical abstraction and what is the most real concrete actualization throughout its collective development in universal history. In the ancient real, we can say that what consciousness developed in relation to was fundamentally the power of the theological and the transcendental. In the modern real, we can say that what consciousness developed in relation to was fundamentally the power of the scientific and the natural. In the deconstructionist real, we can say that what consciousness developed in relation to was fundamentally the power of the social and the self-analytic. Thus, in all systems, we get fundamentally different notions of totality as eternal unity: transcendental ideality, physical laws, or secular power.

In ancient metaphysics, totality is already closed and complete in the ideal real of supernature or God of religion; in modern metaphysics, totality is already closed and complete in the material real of natural laws of physics; and in deconstructionist metaphysics, totality is already closed and complete as a multiplicity of systems of social power (all of which represent different relativistic totalities). However, all of these metaphysical systems are unable to account for a totality where conscious reality is constituted by multiple observers becoming in asymmetrical temporal relation to ideal-real attractors independent of a transcendent superspace, physical laws or secular power. In other words, they fail to account for the general imaginary-symbolic-real triad in its own historical motion, which transcends the ancient, modern, and deconstructionist forms. Thus, for a conscious real on the level of universal history visions of totality related to a transcendental superspace, physical laws, or secular power all become a part of the same dynamical and general conscious real structuring the becoming of open and incomplete individuating observers searching for the truth of being in a unified eternal structure.

In this way, the most real, or the most concrete actualization, is an absence of ‘something’ that emerges because of and depending on symbolic observers’ enacted transformations in history. This brings us towards a potential to formulate a theory of consciousness that can approach the real in-itself as an absence of something that emerges internal to the realm of symbolic observers. This formulation will attempt to structure a transmodern metaphysics derived from the dynamical motion of the general imaginary-symbolic-real structures (Figure 12). In a transmodern metaphysics, we aim to both synthesize historical forms of totality and approach technological singularity from an individuated perspective as an emergent unity produced as a general consequence of subject-object division. This would potentially allow us to construct a central narrative and value structure of being for consciousness. Here, narrative architectures represent a symbolical temporalization of eternity (beginning to end); and value structures represent an attempt to stabilize an emergent unity as a perfect circle capable of completing and closing in on itself.


Towards Emergentist Transmodern Metaphysics

Cadell Last:

"In terms of the synthesis of historical forms of totality, the transmodern real conceives of all particular cultural reals as unified conscious visions necessary for the structure of historical becoming. For example, the vision of a transcendental superspace of eternal ideality structures the objective ancient becoming of religious and philosophical intersubjectivity; the vision of physical laws structures the objective modern becoming of scientific and naturalist intersubjectivity; and the vision of secular power structures the objective deconstructionist becoming of social and activist intersubjectivity. Thus, different forms of intersubjective objectivity emerged and became necessary in different phases of civilization from the agricultural level stabilized by the intersubjective objectivity of God and Imaginary Faith; the industrial level stabilized by the intersubjective objectivity of Science and Rational Empiricism; and the informational level stabilized by the intersubjective objectivity of the Social and Critical Deconstruction. Of course, these are not the only historical forms of eternal ideality that have appeared on the transcendental horizon, but they are a few of the major and general reals that have structured intersubjective objectivity.

Thus, in terms of a transmodern metaphysics approaching the technological singularity we must not conceive of totality in terms of an eternally unified field, but instead as an eternally divided field between subject-object. As discussed this field produces individuated observers asymmetrically imbalanced in a duality universally structuring a general internal desire for unity expressing itself as a pure multiplicity of conscious visions. Here we build on the aforementioned idea that totality on the side of the subject is order-dreams-goals-presences; and totality on the side of the object is chaos-obstacles-challenges-absences. In this dualistic relation unities like a transcendental superspace, physical laws, or secular power represent intersubjective reals as ‘points of impossibility’ unconsciously posited by self-consciousness to resolve the far-from-equilibrium imbalance of dualistic becoming. Such reconciliation of far-from-equilibrium imbalance follows such logics as ‘if we all believe in [faith, empiricism, deconstruction] we will be saved by [religion, science, society]’.

However, in terms of the transmodern real in-itself such unities as ‘points of impossibility’ are radically open to taking any form that an observer can maintain intersubjectively across its process of becoming as an objective reality. Furthermore, any externally imposed collectivist notion of an intersubjective objectivity will by necessity fail to approach the real of individuated becoming of a multiplicity of observers on the pathway to singularity. This is because the real as an impossibility emerges primordially in relation to divisions introduced by each subject’s transformations (as opposed to preceding the subject’s transformations). Thus, when we think of the real from the inside out (from the side of the subject) these points of impossibility structure a geometric curvature in a topographical state space. For example, a subject engaged in theological or philosophical transformations may conclude that the highest form of objective reality is a unified space of ideality (God); a subject engaged in scientific or naturalist transformations may conclude that the highest form of objective reality is a unified space of natural laws (Spacetime); a subject engaged in social or activist transformations may conclude that the highest form of objective reality is a unified space of secular power (State).

In all such social historical manifestations what is posited by self-consciousness is an objective real that exists before and after the subject’s transformations or interventions into the real as an absolute background dependence. Thus, the historical subject tends to reify an object that it believes existed before it, and believes will exist after it (i.e., God, Spacetime, State). However, what the transmodern metaphysics introduces is the generality of a dynamical and open background that is overdetermined by the subject’s own work motion. In this way the static-fixed background of transcendental ideality, physical laws, and secular power are conceived of as absolute only in relation to the subject’s self-positing. This means ultimately that the real in a transmodern sense does not exist before and after the subject’s own individuated becoming. As already emphasized the real in a transmodern sense is something that emerges and depends on the symbolic observers enacted transformations in history.

Thus, this transmodern metaphysics can approach technological singularity in an open and incomplete metaphysics to be determined by symbolic observers. In this approach it is posited that totality is nothing but a multiplicity of observers that circumambulate around an absent central unity appearing in an emergent intersubjective space constituted by individuated relations. In other words this is a real truth where each individuated unit of transformative identity is capable of producing an objectively recognized historical real as a pure difference or division via epistemological knowledge structures. These knowledge structures can retroactively change the nature of ontological being itself towards a higher connection or unity (as in the introduction of the symbolic forms of ancient, modern, and postmodern metaphysics throughout historical becoming). Consequently, on the approach to technological singularity, a transmodern metaphysics would predict the breakdown of historical visions of unified totality, and the consequent emergence of ever greater numbers of novel divisions that produce ever greater numbers of novel unities. The totality of divisions may represent the logical consequence of the becoming of the concept in universal history capable of producing a meta-level of unity inaccessible to any one consciousness but which is one consciousness in-itself.

To summarize the transmodern approach to both the historical synthesis of historical forms of totality and the individuated technological singularity let us consider this structure of totality in terms of divisions that introduce new unities. The ancient metaphysical system became a historical real through the pure division of religious and philosophical thinkers in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece which allowed for the formation of a higher unity of transcendental ideality that objectively structured the intersubjective becoming of early agricultural societies for millennia. The modern metaphysical system became a historical real through the pure division of scientific and naturalist thinkers in Europe which allowed for the formation of a higher unity of physical laws that objectively structured the intersubjective becoming of early industrial societies for centuries. The postmodern metaphysical system became a historical real through the pure division of social and philosophical thinkers in Europe and North America which allowed for the formation of a higher unity of deconstructing secular power that objectively structured the intersubjective becoming of early information age societies for decades. Now in the transmodern world in-itself this same force of pure division is predicted to be expressed in increasingly distributed forms (independent of transcendental superspace, physical laws, and secular power) allowing for, perhaps, a higher proliferation of unities than ever before in human history.

In order to connect this notion of metaphysical totality built around emergent subject-object division aiming for unity with cosmic evolutionary philosophy as representing one unified ordering force we may frame it as a potential ‘third path’ to quantum gravity. Here the nature of a division is a depths where the subject appears as a quantum mechanical entity; and the nature of a unity is a height where the object appears as a gravitationally relativistic entity. In this third path to quantum gravity the real as truth of being is structured by multiple observers each with an attractor dependent horizon that attempts to form an eternal unity in its becoming. Consequently, this path becomes structured by multiple observers inside the universe as opposed to taking a structure of multiple universes as understood by one mythical observer outside the universe, as in quantum multiverse speculations [104]. Thus, instead of attempting to explain the primordial unity of the universe with recourse to a multiverse of infinite physical universes, we need only include the virtual potentiality and actual tendencies of human observers (a multiverse of observers). In this way the primordial astrophysical singularity where all being is one unity could meet technological singularity by way of the demands for unity by an observational multiplicity. Here cosmic evolutionary philosophy as a universal dynamic ideational motion emerges requiring dialectical analysis gives the appearance of a totality structured by an open-incomplete 4-dimensional sphere aiming for closure-completion.

Finally, this transmodern metaphysics as a theory of consciousness may allow us to approach the technological singularity in a novel way by understanding how epistemological constructs of general humanity become a fundamental part of ontological being. In terms of a human subject-oriented approach to technological singularity capable of reconciling our de-centered cosmic position we should emphasize that when we include the future actuality of artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and quantum computing, we open up a totally new possibility space for observationally constituted dynamical action. In other words, this theory of consciousness requires us to include the future real of knowledge as an activity into the ontology of being as opposed to continuing to focus on an imaginary knowledge that passively reflects the real ontology of being. The consequences of such a perspectival shift forces us to confront the fact that although meaning does exist outside of the symbolic order out in the cosmos, meaning does have a concrete materiality within the symbolic order signaling orientation to higher unity.

In order to work towards being able to think such a reality we should start with the philosophical foundation. The possibility of including the future real of human knowledge as an activity into the fundamental ontology of being was formally opened with modern philosophical idealism and the identification of the a priori conceptual frame as a horizon of being [105]. Towards understanding how this fuller understanding of the relation between human knowledge and natural being itself manifests today we may draw an analogy related to modern physics. In modern physics there is a fundamental shift that has been occurring in high theory from desiring to know ‘what the fundamental eternal laws of the physical universe are’ to desiring to know ‘why does the universe have the particular set of eternal physical laws that it does?’ [106]. In order to properly resolve this fundamental shift in ontological questioning we must be capable of a perspective shift within physics itself that appreciates the ontological meaning of quantum computer theory [107], and the consequences of future quantum computation [108]. Here we have a form of fundamental physics knowledge which suggests that observers inside the universe can make an object with their knowledge structures (i.e., supercomputer) that can simulate any physical process (i.e., a physical universe).

The radicality of such a possibility as it relates to technological singularity cannot be understated, but how can we make a division capable of motivating future research in this direction? Here I will make a conjecture that when we are thinking totality from the perspective of subject-object division aimed at unity we need to make sense of fundamental ontological problems related to historical forms of totality. To be specific there appears still unresolved problems in science and mathematics as to both the fundamental natures of mathematical ideality and physical law. From the perspective of ancient metaphysics mathematical ideality exists in a transcendental superspace from eternity; and from the perspective of modern metaphysics physical laws exist in a natural space from eternity. Of course, most contemporary theorists are skeptical of both conjectures, even if both assumptions structure much of science and mathematics. For example, consider that science is often embedded in space and time as universal organizing categories, and mathematics is often perceived to represent a universal knowledge independent of context and history. In the fundamentally emergentist transmodern totality we may be able to reconcile both problems by positing that mathematical ideality and physical law could be a part of an eternal loop or sphere where physical law emerge (astrophysical singularity; big bang) as a sensual background for observers to construct logical mathematical ideality; and observers constructing logical mathematical ideality emerge as a background capable of constituting sensual physical law (technological singularity). Indeed, is not a fundamental problem in quantum gravity the fact that ‘eternal’ physical laws of spacetime break down at the singularity of the big bang and the singularity of black holes? In this way, by including the multiplicity of individuating observers approaching technological singularity with their own loops of sense and logic, we may be able to reconcile the breakdown of laws and the constitution of new laws in one transmodern metaphysical system. From this perspective history is fundamentally structured by an observationally constituted expansion of freedom independent of spacetime coordinates that is predicted to result in an objectivity overdetermined by observers.

In this transmodern theory of consciousness, we must be capable of thinking how an individuated observer dividing being with a higher unity could possibly by responsible for the generation of physical law via the immanence of higher order technological possibility spaces constituted by ideational curvature . Perhaps this is a way to understand the meaning of quantum computation on the level of fundamental physics and universal history where the physical laws themselves can become radically other via ideal manipulations. Thus, what this division suggests for a higher unity is precisely that researchers interested in understanding totality must take seriously a conscious totality that is divided between subject-object. The reconciliation of such a division requires the emergence of a qualitative phase transition where observers can themselves actively constitute the object-in-question as opposed to merely reflecting given being. In this sense, the dialectical approach to technological singularity is concerned with the way in which historically engaged individuated observers become central to future theories of totality."