The Ultimate Nature of Reality

a theory that answers these questions:

Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?; Is There a God?; and What is the Solution to the “Hard Problem” of Consciousness and the “Mind-Body Problem”?
(This is an excerpt, Chapter 18, of my manuscript. Prerequisites for fully appreciating the argument: it might help to have some familiarity with what is called the “global broadcast” or “global workspace” theory of consciousness, which is described in Chapter 16. And the bit towards the end about suffering, love and wisdom is understandable but unfounded without the arguments in Chapters 12,16, and 17.)


Lets start out by considering the biases of perspective that make these questions difficult to approach. There is bias, for example, in the way emotional experiences can shape belief without our realizing it. From life experiences there grow deep formulated and unconscious value-laden produce generalizations, and from these emotional beliefs there grow consciously convictions, which arguments on their own behalf. One may feel one has been swayed by the rationality of one’s arguments when in fact it was the emotional conviction that gave rise to the arguments, and not vice versa. If the underlying emotion should change, the reasoning doesn’t always seem so clear-cut anymore. Reasoning may seem to be what backs one’s values, one’s beliefs regarding human nature, the meaning of life, or the ultimate nature of reality. But there are always assumptions underlying any argument. Such assumptions will seem small and insignificant, or at least born of sensible intuition, in the case of one’s own beliefs; large and glaring, born of obvious bias, in the case of others’ beliefs. Most beliefs are implicit or unconscious. It would not be possible to keep conscious track of all of one's beliefs, if only because there are so many of them. beliefs are context-specific. And many of these When to apply an aspect of

context can be a complex matter, and is often decided unconsciously. So it is possible to get tricked in this regard. A question that has been designed to trick you into accepting an invalid context is a type of a riddle. example: For “What's black and white and read all over?” is,

(when spoken), such a riddle, because once you've been put firmly into a context of color interpretation by the words 'black' and 'white' you won't think to question the continued appropriateness of that context when it comes to interpreting the meaning of the spoken form of 'read'. Habits of thought make you vulnerable to being tricked; sometimes you cannot think to notice and uproot an inappropriate context of assumption because you so rarely leave the context to which it applies. this be? For example: My birthday is in the spring, but I (Answer: I currently reside in the northern was not born in the spring, I was born in the fall. How can hemisphere, but was born in the southern hemisphere.) To think about an object requires a large, unconscious set of assumptions about the object and about the world or the outer context in which the object exists. Even when such beliefs are not conscious, they may still be active in shaping one’s conscious thoughts about the object. Though one needs to tap into a huge set of beliefs in order to think about anything, it would be extremely inconvenient if this required that all of these beliefs become conscious. One would have great difficulty understanding anything were it not possible to consider one thing at time, while assuming that everything else can be at least temporarily held constant, taken for granted as part of the unconscious context. Though necessary to frame and define an object, the relevant beliefs and assumptions, the context, surroundings, or background can largely be ignored at the conscious level.


The mind evolved to seek practical knowledge about specifics, not to delve into the ultimate nature of reality. It is not natural for the mind to consider the whole of reality at once; it can only focus on specific aspects while taking for granted a larger context within which those specifics must exist. If one tries to focus on reality as a whole, one will find oneself imagining the whole as though it were just one more object within a larger context—which means that one is stuck with inappropriate assumptions. The nature of reality in its totality cannot be expected to turn out to conform to one’s common sense intuitions regarding what an object can be like, since these intuitions have been abstracted from experience at dealing with specifics. dropped. But the habitual mind set cannot be so easily So it seems that the relevant question regarding

the ultimate nature of reality is the same as that for phenomena within that reality—the question of what caused reality, or the universe, to come into existence. There must have been a cause for the universe. Yet, since every cause must itself have a cause, how could there ever be any final answer to this question, a first cause? This is like the question, “What holds up the world?” which was the natural question to ask before the law of gravity replaced the implicit assumption that everything, including the earth, must fall in a downward direction. Perhaps the world is held up by a muscular fellow named Atlas. But then what’s he standing on? The back of a turtle? Maybe, but then what’s the turtle standing on? An

infinite column of turtles? Perhaps a similar infinite regress of causes produced the universe. If that seems unlikely, why not a first cause, Here’s one theory: In the something itself uncaused?

beginning, before there was a universe or anything else, there was one very large jar of Kraft Marshmallow Creme. It just happened to exist, for no reason; it needed no cause because it was itself the first cause. Then, due to the special physics of a jar of marshmallow, when it exists all by itself outside of a universe, this jar imploded into a black hole, then exploded in the Big Bang, creating the universe. If this theory doesn’t sound plausible, try another one: In the beginning, before there was a universe, there was a being, sort of like a person, except that this was a super being, a being you could even call magical because it was infinite, all powerful, and all knowing. And the universe came into existence because this being willed it into existence. From within the context of our assumptions about the requirements of adequate cause, these two theories share the same credibility problem. Think of all the causation that is required for a jar of marshmallow to come into existence—it seems there would have to be a universe first, and intelligent creatures must evolve into existence that have a sweet-tooth. Then marshmallow syrup must be invented, and there must be companies with factories and workers to make the syrup, the jars, and the labels. It just doesn’t make sense to think that something that we cannot imagine existing except as the result of so complex and special a process as existing, for no

reason, before everything else. Similarly in the case of the being, being-hood as we know it seems to be a product of complex evolutionary causes. If the first cause is going to be something complex, then why not just accept that the universe itself is its own first cause—why resort to some other ungrounded complexity to give ground to this one? It seems like complexity is something that grows out of simplicity, so maybe the first cause was something insignificant, something that, if it had required a cause of its own, wouldn’t have needed a very big or complex cause. If the first cause is infinitesimally small, then it is an infinitesimal flaw in the structure of reality. This is the reasoning of a mind that normally focuses on objects within the context of a larger physical world wherein relationships among parts can be conceptualized as causal. Within our world, something complex always has to come out of something else—simpler components must come together in just the right way. nothing. emotional Anything that exists always has to come out of something else. You can’t get something out of This is a rational belief, and it is also a deep belief, born of one’s emotionally relevant

experiences. No matter how thirsty you are, you can’t expect a glass of iced tea to appear out of nowhere. You are less likely to die of thirst if you can ignore your wishful thinking about any mirage you see to concentrate on choosing the most rational course of action. You must accept that the You are always universe is hard, cold, and impersonal.

dissatisfied to some degree, because there is always a

shortage of adequate cause. If you are going to keep an open mind about whether God exists, why not stay open to the possibility that a glass of iced tea is going to appear before you for no reason? When it comes to the ultimate nature of reality, however, cause is not the right concept. Cause is not the right question to ask regarding the mystery as to what is the nature of reality, why does it have that nature, and why does it exist at all. Then what is? The reason reality exists, the only reason it could have for existing, is that it is the greatest possibility in terms of selfconsistency. What is required for reality to exist is that it be consistent with itself. To put this into terms we are used to, (as if it were a matter of distinct components interacting causally within time and space—but this is only an analogy), it is as though the essential attributes of reality mutually “cause” or “pull” each other into existence, by virtue of their mutual compatibility. This compatibility, or self-consistency, is all that is needed. And reality will be the greatest possibility in this regard because there is no reason for it not to be; there is no reason for the greatest possibility not to exist. Unless there are reasons why an attribute cannot exist as an attribute of ultimate reality, then it should so exist. There is no reason for reality not to be infinite, no reason for it not to be conscious, or even infinitely conscious, or to have infinite degrees of infinite consciousness—unless it would be logically impossible. Unless it would be inconsistent, then it

must be.

This is very different from how we are used to

thinking in our world with its stinginess of causation. At the ultimate level, everything comes for free. At the metaphysical level, there are not yet any physical laws to deem anything to be too extravagant to exist—the only laws are those defining what is logically possible. For an object or attribute to exist within the universe, it must be caused; its existence must be produced by the larger system in which it exists. And for the defining attributes of the larger, ultimate system itself to exist, they too must be defined or constrained by the system—but here it is a matter of the attributes being consistent with each other rather than with a higher system. Reality as a whole cannot be caused by something outside of itself. That reality is allencompassing means that its reasons for existing must be contained within itself; there is no “outside”. It is selfcreated; it exists because it shapes itself, and because it defines its own existence as real relative to itself--not because it is shaped by, allowed, authorized, or somehow zapped into existence by, something other than itself--if that were the case, it would be just a part of something else larger than itself. There can be no authority outside of reality to tell it whether it can or does exist, or what it has to do to exist. Before there is a universe, there is only logical possibility, which is all there is to determine what exists and why and how. The greatest possible reality exists—just because there is no reason for it not to exist. In other words, reality only has

to exist relative to itself--this greatest possibility--in order to exist; it doesn’t have to meet the criteria of some larger exterior context in order to really exist, the way everything within the universe must. That “reality” is not, like most objects, just one more piece of the universe means that it does not need to be “caused”, and it does not need to comply with some limiting set of laws from above itself such as those of entropy and thermodynamics. not a “cause” from outside Instead, because reality but instead, selfonly has to exist relative to itself, what it needs to do this is itself, consistency. Then it is only for anything within reality that the right question to ask is, “Why?” For reality itself, the right It is deeply habitual to question to ask is, “Why not?”

assume that “Why?” is always the right question to ask when it comes to the structure of nature. So it can be hard to get used to the idea that in this one case, “Why not?” is more appropriate. In this one case, and only this one case, logical possibility is enough to determine what is. The intuition some have that it would be more natural for nothing to exist than something is just another form of the need to find adequate cause. The belief runs deep that the restrictive nature of physical causation is a universal principle. However, at the highest level, the metaphysical level, it does not apply. So there is an alternative to causation for understanding what determines the existence of, and the essential nature of, reality. This alternative concept of self-consistency was

discovered by putting consciousness (as described by the global broadcast theory) to analogy with reality. Reality as a whole and consciousness have in common a unity aspect, as well as the difficulty of imagining how they could possibly have an explanation in terms of cause. The unity aspect may be the source of the difficulty of imagining an explanation in both cases. The mind was designed to understand by taking apart and reducing to pieces, achieving a finite approximation of understanding of events by selectively ignoring ways in which events are interconnected, not by appreciating infinities of interconnectedness. That all the aspects of reality are

cooperating to exist together and play by the same rules, that nothing could make sense otherwise, is so obvious as to be trite, yet so taken for granted as to be forgotten and ignored. One is not inclined to think of it that way, but reality in its entirety has to be a unity. And any theory of consciousness that is at all credible attributes to consciousness some kind of integrating function. By the global broadcast theory, consciousness can be described as an integrating process, or a medium by which compatible components recruit each other into integrated activity. This is what suggested the idea that reality might similarly consist of what could be thought of as “compatible components” that exist because they “recruit” each other into existence--in other words, that self-consistency rather than cause may be what is necessary and sufficient to explain the existence of, and nature of, ultimate reality.

To make the analogy between consciousness and reality in the first place is to consider that consciousness might be fundamental to the nature of reality. So the possible answer to the question as to why reality exists was discovered by entertaining the possibility that consciousness is the answer to the question of what is the ultimate nature of reality. Now, to apply what was found by this analogy back to consciousness. Dennett and Chalmers show how stark are the possibilities for defining consciousness, pointing out the problems if it is not to be defined in terms of function. Dennett accepts the illusory nature of the qualities of consciousness, “qualia”, as the logical consequence of functionalism, whereas Chalmers, in order to preserve qualia, is forced to retreat into dualism. It would appear that either qualia must involve something mysteriously nonmaterial, or else there is nothing to qualia except the physical functioning of the brain. And if consciousness can be reduced to brain function, it would seem to follow, as Dennett tries to show, that it is not as special as it seems, something that largely falls apart and dissolves when you analyze what it is made of. The dualism that Chalmers suggests, though it may seem unsatisfying, may also seem necessary, until it occurs to you that even if dualism is correct, there is still the question--what could the mysterious something be that would account for qualia? What could there possibly be that could somehow give rise to the possibility of color, define the range of possible colors,

and determine why yellow is so yellow?

Even if this

mysterious something is free to be as nonphysical or as magical as it needs to be, doesn’t it still have to make some kind of sense? If not by some kind of making sense, then how could yellow possibly exist and be yellow? If, after reading Dennett and Chalmers, it occurs to you to ask this question, if you are like me, you will be convinced that there could not conceivably be any way to explain qualia except by making some kind of sense of something—where the ‘something’ most likely consists of what is going on in the brain. In other words, qualia must be explainable in terms of what could, (under a loose enough definition), be called functionality. So now we are trapped, squeezed into a corner tight enough to force out the answer that might otherwise be too simple to notice. Functionalism, though it easily seems to, does not automatically imply either reductionism or materialism. And, what we have learned from the analogy between consciousness and reality gives us a new angle from which to consider functionality. The functionality by which qualia make sense is a matter of what the system is doing in terms of a logic of information processing, or meaning--not in terms of the physics of cause and effect. The function that determines consciousness is not a causal type of system but a logical type. In a brain or a computer the logic of the function is represented by, and constructed out of, a physical causal structure; cause is used to represent logic. Physical forces can shape a physical

structure in ways that are parallel to the ways logic can shape meaning. If one believes that different physical structures that are in some sense functionally equivalent will produce the same consciousness, this means one is a functionalist, but this does not actually mean one is a materialist. If there could potentially be some other way of manifesting the same logical function of consciousness than by the creation of a physical causal structure, then there is a sense in which consciousness is not material—even if it does depend, in this universe, on a physical causal structure. To define consciousness in terms of function is actually to give it a metaphysical and essentially nonmaterial definition. The logic of meaning may seem to reduce to nothing but the physics of causation, but we now have a new respect for logic, having found that the need for self-consistency, which is the same as the need for logical consistency, is prior to physical cause in determining reality. functionalism is materialism contains The belief that the erroneous

assumption that the laws of physics are prior to logic, (or natural necessity is prior to logical necessity). The opposite is true. The possibilities of logic must be greater than of the physical, not less. A requirement for self-consistency is the ultimate determinant of the nature of reality, something above cause, and the metaphysical analog of cause. The requirement of reality as a whole, or a system, for selfconsistency or global integration is a special type of logic, what could be termed a global logic. A brain could be thought of as a physical structure that

becomes organized so that it will be controlled by the dictates of a certain type of logic of meaning. Not logic as opposed to causation, but logic by way of a causal process that parallels that logic. A conscious brain is dictated by a requirement for self-consistency that arises at the systems level and is, in one sense, something in addition to the requirement for consistency with the laws of physics or causation, though in another sense, is not additional since it manifests by way of such causation. Though physical embodiment requires that consciousness be shaped by whatever physical causes produce it, the systems-level logic of conscious meaning can still exist without being “reduced to” or negated by its coincidence with, the corresponding physical causation. It is not that consciousness reduces to the physical, or that consciousness carries a causal force that exceeds the physical, it is that a one type of logical functioning determines consciousness, and another type determines the physical, and in the case of a conscious brain the two coincide. The logic of meaning must conform to the physical, and so too the physical brain must (to the degree that it is conscious) conform, without error, to the global logic of meaning that arises at the systems level. For example, when it is fully conscious, understanding, that 2 + 3 = 5 is genuine and cannot be in error. Consciousness (unlike a computer) really does have power to verify that 2 + 3 = 5, which means that the very fact that 2 + 3 = 5 has causal power over the brain; it is not merely the output of a circuit

in the same way that it is in a computer. Just as global logic is the analog of cause at the metaphysical level, so too cause can be seen as a type of logic. That is, natural necessity can be looked upon as a type of logical necessity that is secondary to the need for conformity to physics. So the logic of brain consciousness can be based on its need to conform to the physical system. That natural necessity can be taken as a type of logic, and logical necessity, as a type of cause, is the solution to the problem of dualism regarding how consciousness and the physical interact. The logic of some type of functionality must be what determines qualia; there isn’t anything else that could, and there’s no reason why this logic shouldn’t. The logic of qualia coincides with, but does not reduce to, the physical cause and effect of brain functioning. To explain a quale in terms of the logic of global function is to give it a metaphysical, not a reductionist, definition. The types and ranges of qualia that could potentially exist are determined by what is logically possible in this regard, analogously as the possibilities for forms in space or physical dimensionality are determined by logic. exist; what could cause it? It seems like a big deal for But the shape of space is something like space to exist—why should space be able to determined by the matter that is in it; it requires no special cause of its own. Nothing extra is necessary in order to add a spatial mode of layout to the relationships of the physical.

It’s just a matter of logical possibility; if it makes sense for space to exist there’s no reason why it can’t. Space could be considered as just the context of logical possibility for the existence of the physical. possibility that exist And so too consciousness for regarding not only physical qualia. Logical possibility is what determines the ranges of dimensionality and physical universes, but more primarily also, mental realms, the ranges of possibility regarding experience or qualia. The physical universe is an instantiation of what is physically possible, and experiences of qualia are instantiations of what is mentally possible. There seems to be a natural analogy between consciousness and space. If the nature of space is determined only by the nature of the laws of physics, i.e., if there is a sense in which space is reducible to the relations that exist among the objects within it, then does it really exist or is its existence just an illusion? I would say that space exists; after all, there is no reason why it can't. And those relations among the objects within it do truly determine not just an illusion, but the existence of space; they are irreducibly spatial in nature. consciousness. The qualia of various types of sensory experience, such as vision, touch, smell, and hearing, could be considered dimensions of experience, analogous to dimensions of space. And the possibilities regarding the more specific sensory, perceptual, or intellectual contents of consciousness could be considered analogous to the specific forms and events

Likewise for

that are logically possible within a space. There is no reason why the brain should not be able to give rise to different dimensions of experience, i.e., it is logically possible for it to do so, just as it is logically possible for the various dimensions of space to exist. Analogy between the physical and the mental is appropriate because it is only possible to appreciate how logic shapes some of the physical possibilities; how logic shapes the “possibility space” for qualia is not something that the mind is designed to be able to consider directly. Chalmers suggests that the ineffability of qualia may owe to the fact that sensory information is processed into categories before it becomes available to consciousness, so that the differences among the categories can be appreciated, without being fully explicable, at the conscious level. Then qualia, such as colors, smells, sounds, seem inexplicable because we aren’t given the information necessary to fully understand them. The categories are aspects of the context of consciousness rather than content, making qualia more subjective experience than objective knowledge. To be able to understand qualia as logical possibilities might require adding plasticity to one’s brain. The more instinctive type of qualia are the most mysterious, because these are innately set regarding which aspects are context and which become content, whereas it is the nature of the more intellectual types of material to be more plastic and interchangeable in their role, going back and forth from context to content. Adding to the more instinctive qualia a

type of plasticity that would allow the instinctive aspects of context to be varied, or even become content might be what could cause qualia to shed their mystery. Maybe with such plasticity, “Mary the color scientist who has never seen colors” would be like someone who has never conceived of the number seven. She wouldn’t have to see red to discover it as a conceptual possibility. If the logic that determines meaning is always embedded in the physical, and secondary to it, then this logic appears to reduce to the physical, rather than standing out as metaphysically distinct. One does not exactly recognize the possibility of divorcing the two, at least in the sense of using this as the dividing line of dualism that translates between the mental and the physical. (Though some, such as Edelman and Searle, seem to promote essentially this same idea as the solution to the “hard problem” of consciousness, without calling it dualism. And there is the closely related idea that the concept of information can bridge the gap between consciousness and physics, as Chalmers and Baars both suggest.) There does not appear to be any special dividing line of dualism between the logic of the functionality of consciousness, and the physicality of the brain, if this line appears to be the same unconscious computer one that divides in terms of what an does, information

processing, from what it does in terms of physical circuitry. However, the logic of functionality of consciousness is a special type—it is a global logic; a logic of global integration;

the logic of a system that is integrated by its own logic of meaning; the logic of a system that is in a sense complete, or self-contained. One sense in which a conscious mind is a complete system is that it contains the context by which its functioning is defined, whereas computer functioning is not meaningful except relative to the context of a human mind. The conscious understanding of, e.g., 2 + 3 = 5 differs from the computation by computer in that the logical consistency involved is not just in a single, mechanical match that a machine can make between 2 + 3 and 5, but also in and among the multitude of ways in which this statement is meaningful and consistent relative to everything else within this mind. The conscious logic of meaning occurs when the statement recruits the context that is able to understand it, use it, produce it, and produce, use and understand its implications, formulations in language, associated ideas and memories, etc, and when this all occurs appropriately integrated within the context of personal and behavioral agendas and story lines regarding what the individual is doing and why. There is so much overlap and integration of underlying processes when this functioning is fully conscious that error is not possible. For some types of conscious operation, it is possible to say that error implies a partial failure of consciousness, and no failure of consciousness implies no error. The character of a conscious system involves global

integration. And, if this idea of global integration, applied to reality, leads to the understanding that reality can be selfcaused, then maybe this implies something analogous about the nature of a conscious system. A conscious system may be (analogous to self-causing), self-defining. One implication of the self-defining nature of a conscious system is that it is a subjective reality, a reality that exists in addition to objective reality; a conscious system is somewhat like a mini reality. Such a system could be described as An aspect of this closed, or complete, in that its meanings exist relative to its own subjective frame of reference. subjectivity of existence is a relativity principle. To show, as Dennett does, that the subjective perspective does not contain complete knowledge of its own boundaries and limitations, or that it lacks objective information regarding the nature of its own subjectivity may seem to invalidate that perspective, but it is better interpreted as a matter of relativity of perspective. For example, Dennett says it is not true that consciousness is continuous—that, on the contrary, consciousness is very discontinuous. But this is a matter of relativity. There is no reason why consciousness cannot be truly continuous from its own frame of reference, while it is discontinuous from an outer perspective. For example, it could be true from an outer perspective that the objective world is continuous and a subject’s consciousness is turning on and off, while it could also be true from the subject’s perspective that consciousness is continuous, and the outer world is moving forward in discontinuous jumps.

That a relativity principle of consciousness can remove this type of gap that appears from the objective perspective means that it should also be able to solve a lot of apparent gaps in the way brain functioning, from the objective perspective, doesn’t somehow all converge to a single point in time and space. As Dennett says, the timing and spacing of a representing is not the same as the timing and spacing being represented. (But this difference can be very difficult to think about and keep track of conceptually.) From the outer perspective, it seems that there would have to be a time and place in the brain where the different aspects of the processing of the content of consciousness all come together in order for it to be truly integrated. But if everything is integrated in terms of meaning and function, relative to the subjective perspective, then it is integrated. And it does not matter whether there is an external perspective from which the integrated aspects appear apart in space or time, or in some way discontinuous. Consciousness can be full of all kinds of gaps from the objective perspective without making consciousness, or its continuity, or its qualia, an illusion. Another aspect of the self-defining character of consciousness is that it is self-verifying. Consciousness might be, in a sense, self-verification, or that which exists because it is valid to itself. It is the context that defines the existence of its own experience, which is real from the context of consciousness, and not from any other. Selfverification is the basis of both consciousness and reality. I

can verify that I exist; I am conscious, therefore something exists. By being conscious, I verify that there is at least one perspective--mine—from which it is meaningful to distinguish that something is real. Without consciousness

there can be no grounds for distinguishing that there is such a thing as “reality”. In an unreal world, the conscious beings don’t really live their lives; in real world, they do—that is the only difference. If there were no consciousness, there could be no grounds for distinguishing a world that really exists from one that exists only as a hypothetical possibility. Consciousness is the basis of reality, the necessary context of reality. It does not make sense for anything to exist outside of a defining context, and context is always, ultimately, consciousness. Within the physical universe, nothing can manifest except by way of the physical causal system. For reality itself, there does not appear to be any reason why a logically consistent system in the form of an infinite version of the functionality of consciousness cannot exist without any physical extension or physical causation. It is only for manifestation within the universe that physical cause is necessary. determines what is real. Unless there is some reason why it couldn’t be, a metaphysical basis of reality which is more than just the physical universe should exist. A global broadcast system, or some kind of connectionism, might be what the brain

Prior to the

universe, it is only the requirement of self-consistency that

needs to produce the capacity for global integration, because it is a way to shape a causal structure to conform to a globally consistent type of functional system. physical, this would not be needed. Without the Within the physical,

greater connectivity allows greater integration. Connectivity is an artificial way of producing unity, a way of producing integration which otherwise could not exist. Brain consciousness may depend on connectivity, but perhaps there is no reason why the basis of reality cannot consist of the equivalent of infinite connectivity of infinite dimensionality, an infinite context of conscious possibility— but without the need to be built out of any actual structure or dimensionality. If consciousness exists prior to the physical universe, then there are possibilities as to its nature. negative qualia. The range of possibilities for this consciousness includes positive and It might be that meaning cannot exist except within a context of mattering, (or preference, or a good/bad valence to experience). In which case it might be necessary for consciousness to have a capacity for good/bad valence in order to exist. For this valence to exist, it might be necessary for pure consciousness itself (which in its greatest form might consist of the integration of, or totality of, all of reality) to define the positive extreme of the spectrum. So that the negative of the spectrum only occurs when it is possible for consciousness to fail to integrate—which can only occur if the consciousness is imperfect because it is secondary to a

substrate physical system. It is even possible that creation in which the negative occurs is necessary in order for God to exist. Perhaps a God who does not create, or differentiate into, creatures cannot exist, if it is necessary for the negative side of the spectrum to occur in order to define the positive as such, or if it is necessary in order to create meaning. And for God to exist outside of time might require that there also exist a perspective from which time exists. Unless logical necessity is enough to determine physical reality, which doesn’t seem likely, then God has freedom to create according to preference. What does God create for? God is in the business of creating bliss. We are the workers and shareholders of the company. If consciousness is the medium of integration, then creation may involve an apparent fracturing of this medium, thereby creating finite, limited, desiring minds. To create ego and suffering, then overcome and transcend, is to create and bring together the pieces of a much greater harmony. Smaller pieces, some of which are disharmonious alone, are what fit together to compose a greater harmony. With love, suffering becomes acceptable. God differentiates into suffering, then integrates back by learning love and wisdom. This process, occurring over and over in a multitude or infinity of universes, might be how God creates the greatest possible bliss, which is the nature of it all from the perspective of God, outside of time. There is the perspective from which it seems that

consciousness is just too incredible as a fundamental property of reality--or even, too incredible to exist at all. A physical reality can seem so neat and adequate, and consciousness, like that uncaused jar of marshmallow syrup, seems to be something extra, strange and unlikely, an observer perched to the side, gazing at it all. But of course, this is because the mind was designed to learn about the physical--not the nature of consciousness. Consciousness seems unlikely because the mind is not designed to understand it. your gaze. No matter how you turn your eyes to look, the backs of your eyeballs will always elude Similarly, when you analyze something to understand it or form a model of it, there is always much that is implicit underlying the model that you do not appreciate. For most practical purposes, this doesn’t matter. But when it comes to larger philosophical metaphysical issues involving the totality of everything, or the unity nature of consciousness, then it is no longer legitimate to ignore the implicit side of everything—although this is very hard; it is not clear what the alternative is to ignoring it, except considering some of the implicit aspects individually in turn, while temporarily ignoring others. Science, until it takes on consciousness, is used to remaining within the habits of practicality whereby the relevant is focused on, and the background remains background. Because people share so much context, language can be used to recruit or point out aspects of shared context. So information can be made standardized or

“objective” in meaning, as though the meaning of information did not depend on context. So context can be taken for granted, and it can be ignored that everything requires, and exists as a part of, something much larger. A totality can be analyzed, broken down into parts, but the parts do not contain the totality. Consciousness seems unlikely as the fundamental aspect of reality because it seems complex, so that it would seem to require lots of causation of the type that pushes against the laws of thermodynamics; the type that is, where we come from, in short supply. And we are used to assuming that it is always in short supply, and that to think otherwise is to believe in magic. But for reality as a whole, the greatest, and most complex, is what is most simple and natural to exist, and needs no cause. This is a difficult idea to get used to, it is so contrary to what applies within any other context. Consciousness exists, essentially, just because it is logically possible for it to exist. Consciousness does not reduce to physicality. It isn't constructed of something that is more real and essential than itself. The finite nature of a mind, a world, or a life is, from one angle, the result of subtracting from an infinite potential, rather than a building up from a collection of tinker toys. The ultimate nature of reality is to be found in how it all adds up, not in how it all boils down.


References Anderson, John R. The Architecture of Cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1983 Baars, Bernard J. A Cognitive Theory of Consciousness Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1988 Chalmers, David The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory New York: Oxford University Press 1996 Dennett, Daniel Consciousness Explained Boston: Little, Brown and Company 1991 Edelman, Gerald M. Wider than the Sky New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004 Searle, John R. the Mystery of Consciousness New York: New York Review of Books 1997


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