Sense, Essence, and Existence – SEE Executive Summary

SEE Executive Summary

“Quality is the matter of spirit, Quantity is the spirit of matter.”

Here’s my attempt at condensing my S.E.E. T.O.E. (Sense, Essence, Existence Theory Of Everything) into an E.S.O. (Executive Summary Outline). Consider it a first draft of a work in progress. (Updated 2/14/2011)

I. What is everything?

  A. Everything can be reduced to patterns.
      1. All objects can be described in terms of patterns, but not all patterns can be understood as objects.
          a. some patters, like ‘pain’, or ‘blue’ must be subjectively experienced to be understood.
          b. even though the production of pain has a mechanical ‘shadow’ in neurology, such a description, without a corresponding first hand experience of it is not adequate.
      2. Objects are a second-hand experience.
          a. our minds can only detect objects which are tangible to the physical senses of our body (and the extension of those senses through physical instruments).
          b. the universe we experience is OUR extended human universe  – it has never been THE universe.
  B. Pattern Recognition, or Sense is universal and fundamental.
      1. We cannot make sense out of a cosmos which doesn’t already make some sense.
          a. the idea that the 13.7+ billion year old universe is utterly unaware of it’s own existence except for the fluke of homo sapiens on Earth is an artifact of inverted religiosity.
          b. Molecules, cells, atoms, all need to ‘know’ what they are doing in some sense to continue to be what they are. They need to function in their own context, and therefore have some capacity to detect and respond to aspects of their world – even if those processes are automatic.
     2. The evolution of pattern recognition is difficult to examine.
          a. since experience takes place interior to organisms, there are no fossils of it. We can see behavior but we have no access to any direct experience except our own.
          b. we can have indirect or inferred experience with a limited range of organisms through social contact.
          c. Subjective qualities are esoteric and of inscrutable origin – we have no idea where we get ‘red’ from. There’s nothing about any frequency of electromagnetism or cellular behavior that should or could seem ‘red’…yet, to us, red is red.
      3. There could be a subjective dimension to everything.
          a. we know that we have limited ability to detect subjectivity outside of ourselves. Viewed from space, Earth appears to host no particular subjective content – neither does an atom.
          b. I’m not suggesting that atoms have humanlike consciousness – just the opposite, humans have the consciousness of trillions of specialized cells which essentialize, integrate and communicate molecular-atomic ‘awareness’.
          c. Our experience exists as part of the universe, therefore the part of the universe that we are does in fact experience subjectively. The only question is at what level does that subjectivity begin and end?
          d. there is a phenomena in biology called quorum sensing, which demonstrates that bacteria routinely make collective decisions. So we have reason to believe that subjectivity and society exists at least on the single-cell level. What is a cell but an organized community of molecules bound together by electromagnetic behaviors?
   C. Is electromagnetism a shared subjective experience of matter?
      1. What if matter is electromagnetic on the outside, sensorimotor in the inside?
          a. Does energy exist independently of matter? Even if it did, we couldn’t prove it because all of our instruments and scientists brains are made of matter.
          b. Is the speed of light (c) really a speed? I think of it as more ‘the opposite of stillness’. It is the point at which locality breaks down and light simultaneously happens at both target and source (but not necessarily anywhere in between).
      2. Electromagnetism makes more sense modeled as being grounded in the essential being of matter and not the existential emptiness timespace.
          a. we would have to see the entire Standard Model of particle physics and Quantum Mechanics as a useful fiction – (which is exactly what it seems like to me…photons as massless, intangible particle-waves that collapse when measured…just the kind of description I would expect if I tried to make a subjective phenomenon make sense in a purely objective model)
          b. we would have an ontological basis for consciousness as electromagnetic patterns in the brain. Consciousness can only be those patterns if those patterns have the potential to carry interior feeling and sense.
  D. The cosmos can be understood from two different perspectives grounded in opposite ideas of fundamental being.
      1. From an objective perspective:
          a. You are only a temporarily animated cadaver who thinks it’s alive because it’s programmed to. Your friends are habitual strangers, your possessions are junk lying around, and your dog is just spare meat.
          b. You are staring at nothing but an array of thousands of meaningless electrically illuminated dots right now. The internet is a digital processing system for binary data which you hallucinate into your own private psychological content. Sharing is an illusion since every pattern is different.
          c. your entire life exists only within the neurochemistry of the tissue of your brain. That wall behind you is a figment of your own solipsistic perceptual theater, constructed purely of sensorimotor ‘inputs’ and memory.
          d. You are utterly separate and alone – the consequence of an unfathomably vast series of blind coincidences and evolutionary events. You are extraordinarily privileged to be aware of your existence itself, as well as the exquisite mechanical detail of the universe. You are but a speck on a speck revolving around a nuclear furnace, all of which face certain annihilation. In a fraction of a second of geological time, everything you’ve every known of your life will be wiped away and forgotten forever.
      2. From a subjective perspective:
          a. We are having a kind of a conversation over the internet. It has a physical layer – technological, biological, linguistic, but those are external containers. The real conversation is taking place at the level of who we are and why we care. This cannot be meaningfully reduced to whats and hows of biochemistry, that model cannot capture the sense of what this, or any conversation is.
          b. Our lives exist within each others awareness, in contexts which are psychological, social, cultural, anthropological, zoological, and biological.
          c. Our feelings and sensations, ideas and understandings cannot be reduced to ionic bonds and electrical current. They contain intimations of paradise and oblivion – horrors and ecstasies which transcend our physical sphere of engagement.
          d. The universe within is not a uniform Cartesian grid, it’s a dynamic fugue of image, meaning, choice, and unfolding reason where influences and experiences commingle playfully and violently wrestle. Our identities are layered depths of remembered shame and pride projected through indescribably rich dramatizations which shift and change and ring out as they are revisited again and again. Our lives intersect with each others and with collective identities – mythic times and places which emerge and orient us to our larger sense of the world.
  E. Both perspectives contain useful truths, but neither can adequately describe the other.
      1. The two ends of the SEE spectrum reflect a model of the cosmos which is rooted, on the right side, in what could be called an essential (‘top down’ or ‘I out’) ground of being, while on the left side, we see a view of the cosmos which reads from the hypothetically observerless perspective grounded in existential (‘bottom up’ or ‘I-agnostic’) being.
          a. The spectrum can be compared to a palindrome which seems increasingly like a non-palindrome the further you get to either end.
          b. To the far-ultra existentialist, spirituality is simply superstition on top of fear and ignorance. All phenomena can and will eventually be explained by reducing them to their constituent processes and correct evaluation of empirical evidence through scientific peer-review. Only through rigorous skepticism can the truth be extracted from the seduction of coincidence, bias, and jumping to conclusions.
          c. To the far-infra essentialist, physicality is simply appearances which decorate our journey towards our spiritual destination. All mysteries can and will eventually be understood through first hand revelation. Miracles happen.. what could be more miraculous than life? beauty? love? There are no coincidences, everything happens for a reason. You cannot expect the universe to present you with it’s deepest secrets inside of a petri dish – some truths require the participation of your whole being. You have to choose to take a leap of faith in spite of the possibility of mistakes and the danger of disillusionment.
      2. Extremism leads to greatness and catastrophe.
          a. We need extremists. Great scientists are often eccentric characters whose grossly imbalanced lives are a reflection of the demands of their genius. Charismatic leaders are also often eccentric in their cult of personality stylings which generate both voluntary adulation and genocidal sociopathy.
          b. We don’t need that many extremists. Unless you are born to do science or lead a cult, you really don’t need to pick a side. You can choose to see the validity of both sides and see that it’s not necessary to get carried away. I call it ‘epistemological fascism’ – flattening every experience to a meaningless instrumentalism or every reality to a religious prop. It doesn’t have to be like that.
          c. At the moment, we find ourselves on the far extreme of the existentialist end of the pendulum swing. This doesn’t mean that we need less science, but that we need to recalibrate and re-enlighten our worldview to honor the holistic, subjective sense as well as objectified analysis. We have inherited a way of thinking born of classical natural philosophers and 17th century alchemists which has been so successful that we have lost our way. Instead of uncovering the basic truths about who we are and why we’re here, we have wound up mechanizing ourselves into a meaningless quantum universe where nothing ‘really’ exists. Many find this way of looking at things intolerable, which may result in going to the opposite extreme in the form of radicalized fundamentalism.

II. What is space?

  A. Space is a logical system of distance relation.

      1. Spaces are conditions arising from the spatial logic and sense shared by the exterior side of matter. We infer space by the relations we observe between events and objects.
          a. space and time are non-essential.
          b. space and time have no independent existence.
     2. Imagine you are a ball floating in a completely empty universe. Without any exterior frame of reference, there is no space other than ‘here’. There is no possibility of movement or sense of exteriority. There is no space without other objects.
  B. Space is the sequential order of position.
      1. As a number line represents a sequence as a simultaneous text, existential conditions emphasize object persistence rather than temporal experience.
      2. We subjectively experience time as cycles within cycles – rhythms; but space is experienced objectively as distance, scale, and perspective. Things which are closer to us are larger and more relevant, while things which are far  away are smaller or undetectable. There is a natural hierarchy of ontological significance placing the here and now ahead of the there and then.

III. What is time?

  A. Time is memory.
      1. Whether it’s our personal memory or the memory of the cosmos as defined by evidence of sequential repeating processes, time has no meaning without a subjective experience of memory.
      2. Memory is a persistent quality of experienced change. All kinds of interesting things happen with information and meaning inside of existence. The conditions of the essence end of the cosmos are such that subjects are semiotically compressed, amplified, distorted, reverberated, hidden, obscured, symbolized, iconicized, miniaturized, etc. It’s only possible for sense to occur if it has some capacity to recapitulate and encapsulate itself. It’s sort of knows itself through it’s own reflection – like a holographic net of mirrored logic, constantly shifting.
   B. Time is repeating sequence
         1. All clocks and calendars are based upon repeating mathematical patterns. Time is an inferred dimension which is only necessary for the application of purpose.
          2. Teleology leverages novelty against a background of inevitable reoccurring entropy to change and recombine patterns, to reprioritize the natural order and modify the chain of causality with choice or will.
          3. Without change, there is no sense of time. Without memory there is no sense of change.

IV. What is gravity?

  A. In one sense, it’s the opposite of the electromagnetic principle.
     1. Electomagnetism carries light, life, information, and experience. Gravity is the automatic, unconscious tendency for for density to accumulate and crush things which physically exist.
      2. Electromagnetism represents syntropy or negentropy, propping up forms with whirling, burning activity that leads to the ingression of novelty. Gravity is pure entropy, physical thanatos, extinguishing even light itself as in a black hole.
   B. Gravity provides structure.
     1. On Earth, gravity provides a dimension of physical consequence. The heaviness we feel here is the burden of existence as well as the weight that provides us with a sense of value. Gravity makes matter matter.
      2. Gravity keeps things simple. We orient ourselves towards an up/down world where things stay where you put them. It acts as a basis for the organization of physical action. It shows how powerful a simple rule can be in changing the entire game.
   C. What about String Theory?
     1. Despite appearances to the contrary, I have no pretensions toward considering myself a physicist. My cursory understanding of Strings or branes still do not provide for the underpinnings for interiority and experience.
     2. If some or all Strings were actually antennae, conducting and sharing qualitative sense then I’d be open to that kind of explanation. Playing the music on the cosmos on the vibrating fibers of transphysical hyperobjects is all well and good, but you still need a place for the audience to sit.

V. What is consciousness?

   A. Consciousness is awareness of awareness.

     1. Human consciousness provides us with an experience of what seems to us to be an objective world as well as an ongoing experience of internal subjectivity.
           a. our internal sense is characterized by the nature of our attention and it’s capacity to identify patterns and complete them with our own sense of meaning.
           b. our sense of the ‘outside world’ is shaped by our inherent capabilities and influences (‘nature’) as well as conditioned and learned by our environment (‘nurture’).
           c. the two sets of influences are intertwined so that they dynamically and progressively modify and recharacterize each other.
      2. Patterns can be interpreted more superficially and literally or more metaphorically and deeply depending on the level of self-participation involved.
           a. the more the self identifies with the experience, the more it reads as personally significant – a teleological sign rather than a neutral semiotic text.
           b. undue attribution of sign over text is superstition or delusion (ideas of reference)
           c. the modulation of the sensitivity threshold can be modeled as a ‘psychic aperture of sensory perception’, or third eye. Dilation permits wider gaps in pattern continuity, to more easily ‘connect the dots’ or jump to conclusions.
      3. The active side of subjective experience corresponds to motor and motive functions of the psyche.
            a. will, will power, power, free will are names for the outbound action of the psyche. Intention, volition, and choice arise through a kind of inductive coupling through the nervous system to the body.
            b. we decide to do or not to do things, to restrain or allow our unbidden impulses from being acted out. This could be called the physic aperture of impulse control and represents the other primary gate of human consciousness.
           c. possibly both the psychic and physic apertures are aspects of the same complex so that intuitive sensitivity and motor skill are somewhat inversely proportionate.
           d. in this case the contraction of the aperture, like a camera’s f-stop, determines increases the depth of field and the amount of light required so that the consequences of one’s actions can be telegraphed into the future and tightly coordinated.

   B. Consciousness is the inflection point between essence and existence.

      1. The inflection point is the site of conscious Input/Output of two distinct sensory and motor channels, analogous to the noun and verb parts of speech.
          a. on the left (public) side of the psychic aperture there is sensation (Input/Reading) of a public realm – patterns of sensation, which we can detect or recognize (nouns, things).
          b. On the right (private) side, there is perception (post-sensory interpretation) and memory (post perceptual Output/writes) of private images and essential meanings (what things are), which we can choose to prioritize and invest with belief.
          c. It is up to us to associate which perceptions with which beliefs, and which texts to signify and which to disqualify.
      2. the other, verb-like channel of the inflection point functions to modulate motor and motive I/O.
          a. originating from the other private (right) to public (right) direction now, the physic aperture functions as a gate for essential desires and purposes of the self.
          b. the intra-subjective content of the self issues from the unconscious archetypal nature of the psyche, sort of a swirling, spiraling chaos which competes for representation through the ordered intentions and actions of the self.
          c. the force of these motivations must be contained by a dense shield of restraint and control, which is conceived on the inside as an ego or self image of ‘Me’ and ‘mine’ and on the outside as a super-ego and persona of social navigation.
          d. the left (public) side of the physical aperture is exterior of the personal shield, can be said to magnetize (by the sub/unconscious essences of the self) synchronicity, luck, etc.
          e. This magnetic-like flux is the involuntary counterpart of and consequence from the self-containment (or lack thereof) of voluntary will. Something like a karmic principle of action and reaction.

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