Not to be confused with a theory of the mechanics of human perception, this model is presented as an anecdotal conceptualization of awareness itself as a principle in the universe. As opposed to a detailed outline of how our familiar psychological states, sensations, emotions, and thoughts might have evolved or are produced biologically, this project seeks only to organize the uncontroversial facts common to all subjective experience in such a way as to smoothly integrate with contemporary physical models.
First principle: Private and Public
It should be safe to assume that the experience of perception renders to us a presentation which is uniformly partitioned, in a very general and fundamentally apparent way, between private phenomenology (one’s own thoughts and feelings, memories, intentions, etc) and what I would call public realism. Even in dreams and other nonordinary states of consciousness, selfhood seems to be bound up in an interpenetration of a feeling subject juxtaposed against a worldly matrix of localized forms and events. The persistence of locality, I would argue, is the sine qua non symptom of public realism, making possible all systems of shared co-ordinates. Physics, it would seem, is a science of positions, and by extension, of certainties. By contrast, all attempts to localize psychology seem destined to be forever mired in fanciful guesses in the dark at the competing drives and capacities which define the psyche. As pristine and Apollonian as the world of classical mechanics has been revealed to be, theories probing the deep nature of psychological interiority are profoundly unclear, typically alternating between Chthonic or Dionysian themes, rich with metaphor and super-significance, and logic-based models which seek reduction to a-signifying, sub-personal functions.
Second principle: Significance
The term significance is used here in the ordinary sense of a quality of meaningfulness or importance, as well as a more technical information-theoretic sense of associative promiscuity, and finally as a proposed sense of a physicalized conjugate of thermodynamics. Significance is to awareness what mass is to matter - a charge-like accumulation which distorts perception and participation parameters and leading to increasingly significant developments, including a deepening of teleology and voluntary preference or ‘free will’.
Significance is modeled here as ‘how important something seems’, yet this is intended as a generalized notion of all physical systems, not an anthropomorphic conceit. For Carbon, perhaps Oxygen ‘seems important’. For a star, perhaps the center of the galaxy seems important. This extension into the non-human world however, is not likely to be viewed as non-controversial (even though such a sharp division between human atoms and non-human atoms seems difficult to defend) so for now this can be set aside. What can be said with confidence here is that as human beings we generally experience a profound distinction between our perceptions, attributing qualities to them which are dramatically motivating. Our popular entertainment is filled with such dramatizations of heroic triumphs, often culminating with an ecstasy of peer-approval applause. Wealth, beauty, strength, dexterity, etc are held in what might be called ‘high esteem’ or superlative quality. A casual look at any mythological tradition reveals that things have not changed much since ancient celebrity took divine forms as gods and goddesses. These symbols are aspirational and inspirational in nature. They refer to over-personal significance, to culture and collective dreams, to anthropology.
On the other extreme of the scale of significance, an under-signifying or sub-personal sensibility has been employed successfully to reign in metaphysical impulses. By de-emphasizing the super-signifying themes of the psyche, skeptical reasoning has freed humanity from superstition and produced a cornucopia of Earthly knowledge. Ironically, by forsaking the ancient gods and focusing on empirical logic, human beings have collectively embodied the extended powers and understanding formerly attributed to them.
It is proposed that rather than being an unexplainable magical specialness or inevitable arithmetic residue, significance is the derivative of experience through time. This is not as simple as it sounds, as experience itself presents simple qualities which seem to sum up fantastically complex, nested realities, but it is hoped that the general aspect of this axis of significance, from mechanistic to animistic, deterministic to libertarian, can be understood in relation to concepts of entropy in physics and information theory.
Briefly, it is proposed that the significance axis is a qualitative measure which runs orthogonal to the quantitative measures of both thermodynamic entropy (as a tendency toward energetic equilibrium) and information-theoretic entropy (as a ratio of discernibility). Missing in both the physical and computational notions of entropy are 1) the source of initial negentropy or signal in the cosmos, and 2) the role of perception or sensitivity in defining access to signal. It is hoped that it can be seen that the concept of significance bridges these gaps, providing a context for non-trivial, direct participation by sensorimotive subjects in the universe as well as pointing to a radically new cosmological constant based on signal or sense as the sole primordial superlative, i.e. a unified non-field within which all field and force ontologies persist.
Third Principle: Length and Cycle
The next step beyond affirming the private-public dyad is to flesh out that dyad in a deeper, and profoundly provocative way. Rather than spacetime or space and time, it is proposed instead that public views of the cosmos are local to matter. Besides being public and not private, the specific quality on which realism relies has to do with spatial extension or length. Length is position multiplied, but simultaneous. We know from special relativity that length plays a role in defining the changes in objects as they approach light speed, becoming narrower and more massive as they approach the absolute limit. Indeed, at the absolute limit, length would be come zero, and mass would be converted from a local characteristic to a global energy increase (radiating from the local event outward to surrounding matter).
This can be conceived of conventionally with a release of photons or E (energy), but one of the more challenging provocations of this model to conventional physics is that the model of photons themselves, as particulate structures (or wave forms) in space, is not literally true, even though modeling it that way is certainly useful. Instead, energy is seen purely as ‘what matter does’ or seems to do in the experience of matter. This implies a universe which is fundamentally not only a place filled with things, but a time filled with stories on many levels, including the purely material. All matter both is some thing and is about different things at different times in different perceptual contexts.
From there, the distinction between what is real and what sense can make up about it serves as the basis for the significance axis and many opportunities for transformation between literal and figurative, spatial and temporal. As spatial extension by length is to public realism, sensorimotive intension by cycle or sequence is to private experience. The repetition of experiences, from sub-personal neural stimulation to grand historical epochs, the notion of time, not as a Cartesian or Einsteinian co-ordinate ‘t’ but as an experiential recollection, more like ‘time and time again’. This is yet another idea which is upsetting to the existing order, yet it should not be construed as contradicting any experiments or observations of physics. Indeed, the point is to accurately describe the relation of subjective experience as it actually seems to us with objective facts as we actually measure them.
The proposed model suggests space and time not as a physical plenum or rigid reference body of abstraction, but as sequences of private perceptual discernments and the emergent range limits of their consequential public relations. Time, strictly speaking, is personal. It only becomes public through inferred correlations and normalizations among reliably repeating physical changes in objects. In our native experience of time, we have only to ‘re-view’ some experience of our lives directly through our sensorimotive intent, extending ‘within’ as it were, figuratively and non-spatially to some experiential gestalt. Our experience of the public world is precisely opposite, requiring our bodily transport to a spatiotemporal co-ordinate, where objects and places are presented in logical perspective and rigidly ordered perceptual correspondences. What we think of as time, as in clocks and calendars, is really a halfway point between public space and the nested cyclic narratives of subjectivity. Clocks and calendars, like the wavy lines in comics denoting motion, allow us to infer a collective time, where in reality none objectively exists. What exists publicly is astrophysical orientations or vibrating quartz crystals or cesium atoms. No time. These planetary aspects and physical oscillations are changes in position in the public world of lengths, not of the semi-world of our mental record and playback.
Why not quantum?
If this Multisense Realism model is on the right track, quantum mechanics might need to be reinterpreted completely to be absolutely truthful. As it stands now, even with the Observer Principle as the holy grail of Quantum Mysticism, the introduction of these three principles eliminate the need for any metaphysical construct which collapse wave forms. Consciousness is not a field, not a force, but rather the ground of being which is experienced directly. Under this model, quantum may be the cycles of detection and participation within matter, i.e. including the matter that makes up the instruments used to experiment on matter, and the entire subatomic world may turn out to be more of a ‘confirmation bias common to matter’ than an objectively real microcosm of particle-waves and energy filled vacuum.