Sense, Essence, and Existence

A ManifesT.O.E. of the Over-Examined Life


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Why Computers Can’t Be Like Us (ever)

Everything that a computer does is present as matter in space, but our human history is not present in space - instead I propose that our history is a real and perpetual presence, and that it’s made of experience through time (or times through experiences, actually).

There may not necessarily be any safe level of substitution for synthetic brains: If your parents weren’t human, you can’t have human consciousness. It’s not a biological thing or a semantic thing or a functional thing, it is purely aesthetic thing - an unbroken chain of fully realized experiential content resonating figuratively* from the beginning of time and echoing through eternity.

No machine can ever become part of that living legacy, because it is part of a new tradition in which private experiences of humans are being extruded into space as technology. Technology is a completely different ontology from naturally developed organisms. It comes from nothing but our knowledge of objects in space and universal principles of their function. It is literally an ‘unnature’ - not in a bad sense, but in a neutral, but honest and accurate sense. Machines just exist in a monochrome universe of precise functions, while living creatures are windows to the interior of the universe and unbroken chain of felt significance.

*but literally “figuratively” - as figures, archetypes, myths, etc.

Reblogged from johnledgerart
Reblogged from stickydrosera
Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art. Claude Debussy (via stickydrosera)
The first is my claim that consciousness is a nonphysical feature of the world. I resisted this claim for a long time, before concluding that it is forced on one by a sound argument. The argument is complex, but the basic idea is simple: the physical structure of the world—the exact distribution of particles, fields, and forces in spacetime—is logically consistent with the absence of consciousness, so the presence of consciousness is a further fact about our world. David Chalmers

Spacing Out

Imagine something like ‘the internet’ as a complete thing in itself…all of the hardware, all of the data which is “in” the hardware and software, and all that can be derived from it. Think about how different levels of understanding and familiarity would act like an access pass to an alien who was discovering it. If the alien had eyes, then they might have a chance to understand what a .jpg is after years of trying. If they had no eyes, they could never understand what image files were.

If we take that kind of concept of the internet as an object containing data related to the object and selectively referring to this weird human world, and multiply it in unimaginable ways so that all objects in the universe, and all groups of objects, and groups of groups of groups of objects, all are filled with data about themselves and the worlds that they participate in. Then take that concept but instead of data “about” worlds, make it dynamically accumulating histories which are experienced directly and aesthetically.

The nesting can go on and on, with worlds which cut across many other worlds in different directions, not just literal directions but dimensionless contexts like metaphor and luck.

What I propose for the fabric of the universe is a primordial set of sensations or feelings which is more primitive than knowledge, truth, matter, forces, laws of nature, etc. Biology elaborates on this as a second layer of sensation which repackages the primary layer as a ‘body’ in a world of bodies and substances. In the absolute sense, however, the sensations of being a creature are themselves only experiences in which zoological and biological qualities of the totality of experience are made temporarily hyper-relevant (by spatializing them, i.e. adding distance and alienation to the primordial experience). This is not as exotic as it sounds, I’m only trying to make our ordinary experience of being alive explainable in precise terms.

In my view, there is no “I” except the experience of a human lifetime which is subject to a nesting within itself, like a window within a window…a spatio-temporal scope of ‘here and now’ within a larger scope. in waking life, our “now” is constrained to a particular scope of personal feelings, thoughts, and sensations. It is an experience which is composed of the tension between longer and shorter experiences that exists for us in a peripheral, super-personal sense (an entire lifetime, the history of life on Earth, eternity), and a medium ranged experience which is exponentially more lucid and direct.

This would mean that something like ‘knowing’ would be a very high level experience that required a third nesting of mental experiences; experiences “about” biological experiences which are “about” primordial experiences. Rather than assuming that consciousness is intrinsically mental or mind-like, I see intellect as an uncommon phenomenon of elaborated sense. The primordial experiences (which we, as biological creatures see as physics and feel as sensations) are direct aesthetic encounters, not linguistic or computational logic. Data is a figment of the intellect’s alienation rather than a literal substrate behind physics.

If there were a creature with very limited knowledge, the knowledge would probably be about physical comfort, but the experience could still be quire exotic. There could not, however, be a creature which only has top level logical sensibilities but no sensations of feeling and thinking. There is no ‘truth’ condition which is outside of an experience in which there is a mental sensitivity to evaluate truth. Truth is an invention of the expectations of elaborated sense. Primordial truth can only be an established habit or commitment made on a more primitive, distant, and universal level than the truth interpreter. What a computer renders is not truth, but universal habits of physics and mathematics which are eternal from our frame of reference as relatively short-lived organisms.

The primordial experience or pansensitivity would depend on the deepest and most superficial qualities of the totality. The sense beneath/beyond that which we see as math and physics can be thought of as being much faster/smaller than particles and much slower/larger than the cosmos as a whole. It could also be said that they are “faster than speed itself” and “slower than stillness”, as well as being both larger and smaller than “size”. The absolute is not just the ultimate frame, but the capacity for framing and frame dissolving itself.

Consciousness or awareness or sense is the concrete and direct aesthetic encounter which defines all possible phenomena. Data or information is an accumulation and communication of signs, which intellectually represent the facade of experiences that relate to the function of their significance to the experiencer.