“The Metaphysical ‘Onion Layers’ of Existential Reality, a Critical Analysis of its Ectodermal, Mesodermal and Endodermal Layers Derivatives. Between Ontological Nominalism and Epistemological Transcendentalism.”
It has been known from the time of Cicero that human behavior has been associated with the his/her biological nature. As Protagoras observed, the human is the measure of all things, those that ‘are’ sense-phenomenal (ontological) and those that ‘are not’ self-evident (epistemological). We were not limiting ourselves to Heidegger’s duality ‘being/essence’ but aimed instead to a transcendental dialectic pair ‘absolutism/relativism’ which in this author’s experience, better describes the uniqueness of self-consciousness in the human species. Thus we systematically correlated the trichotomy body-mind-society followed by the identification of systems, structures and genetic patrimony constants in humans that characterize his human personality being. Finally, we reinterpreted all uniquely human activities such as memory, learning, emotions, reasoning and motivation trying to keep up with the recent technological information explosion on brain dynamics that inexorably ontologically describe and/or epistemologically/conceptually explain the ontological brain’s causal reciprocal link to the epistemological mind. We need to integrate the best of the emotional, nominalist, sense phenomenal, perceptual ontology with the best of the rational, transcendental, conceptual, idealistic epistemology.
Whereas ontological nominalism stresses the measurable/observable aspects of perceptual reality as narrated in a given adopted language, epistemological transcendentalism -on the other hand- stresses the mathematical logic probability aspects of conceptual, universal idealism. The latter, long under the influence of romanticism, sociology, feminism, etc. can now properly consider divinity and other theosophies.
Consequently, our own ‘epistemontological’ approach to biopsychosocial (BPS) phenomena generated our brain dynamics BPS model of existential reality, essentially a compromise between extreme nominalism and transcendentalism; as collected in refereed discussions in 7 volumes: “Treatise on the Neurophilosophy of Consciousness”, Penguin Books/Trafford Publications, Inc.
- Specific. The preceding historical background synopsis allows us now to introduce the role played by the reflex neuro-hormones control of emotions and the self-conscious control of rationality, i.e., interplay of mind states (joy, sorrow, fear, love, hate, etc.) with cognitive, volitional states of self-consciousness as determinants of real time existential behavior. We examine the epistemontological contributions made by inherited and learned influences in a constantly evolving environment, including moral and related aspects. We then discover that the whole of existential reality cannot be the sum of its constitutive emotional, rational or moral parts? We discuss this conundrum by identifying absolutism as an epistemological Universal Holism and relativism as an ontological Individualized Reductionism of reality. Perhaps now it should be easier to understand why real-time existence may be compared to the metaphysical metaphor of onion layers with each deeper layer containing more complete information than the more superficial ones until a receding absolute noumenal truth certainty is approached but never attained because of the intrinsic epistemontological/cognitive limitations of the exclusive historical narrator of reality, the human observer.
Universal Holism and Individualized Reductionism.
When a Whole Cannot be the Sum of its Parts.
See Plato, Kant, Nietzsche evolving views on complex dynamic existential reality.
It is almost impossible for a normal healthy human being to have an opinion without an implied theorizing. Regardless of his/her real intentions it implies premises contained in a subconsciously adopted frame of reference. But, as pointed out in another publication, the frame of reference may either be consciously free willed or acted by subconsciously controlling the opinion as expressed in the language report. Either way the propositioned opinion about an object or event occurrence is reported and its credibility depends on the probable truth content of the opinion. If the report is based on the sensory perceptual, described verification of the individualized occurrence(s) by all witnesses, at all times, anywhere in mesoscopic space, then it is likely to be accepted by many as true without further considerations. “Seeing is believing” will guide the choice.
But when the occurrence escapes sense-phenomenal perceptual or ontological verification/resolution then we must rely -by epistemological inferences- on the less credible certainty of the visible consequences of the occurrence, as linguistically reported by an observer or recorded by an instrumental measurement.
What if the individualized occurrence resist being framed/reduced into any symbolic or sentential formalism to be linguistically reported? Fortunately, we need not worry much about objects or events projecting infinitely into cosmological space ‘n’ or infinitesimally into sub Planckian micro space at either extreme of the ontologically descriptive spectrum? Either way, logically absent the possibility of a reductionist effort of receding infinities, the information content cannot become directly available. The practical/empirical solution is to eliminate infinities and to settle for approximations to a truthful reliable content by positing the reality of an abstract transfinite space ‘n-1’. This way, the absolute, reliable truthful certainty of anecdotal sensory evidence is sacrificed as we depart from the individualized reductionism into the speculative uncertainty domain of an indirect universal holism based on intuitions and the recent benefits of both new updated recorded history and a global explosion of other information as we map today the probable territory of tomorrow while we look into the past for orientation. We can now benefit from the joint merits of a ‘universal holism’ and an ‘individualized reductionism’ synthesis. Let us now examine the merits and drawbacks of this dialectic approach.
A ‘Holism’ perspective tacitly implies that everything in our entire universe is causally connected, entangled or otherwise existing as non-separable entities functioning as a unit whole. Whatever experienced occurrence that you cannot ontologically describe you can always explain so long as your epistemological explanatory model poem account is strictly derived from the same relevant ontological measurements or observations when statistically correlated and then linguistically expressed as a comprehensive new unit singularity comprising the best of both perceptual and conceptual constitutive elements. But ‘Holism’, as practiced by organized JudeoChrIslamic religions and other theosophies in our real existential reality, brings in new contemporary issues influencing our vital decision-making process. Which element should we rely more on to satisfy the bioppsychosocial (BPS) imperative for biological survival, the immediate nominalistic empirical experience or the transcendental conceptual abstraction thereof? To follow are some of the salient issues to focus on.
Is the whole more than the sum of its constitutive parts? Are the constitutive units static or are they dynamically interacting? If the latter, then it would be more appropriate to restate the concept of ‘Holism’ as one where the dynamically evolving state of the universal whole is more important than the dynamically evolving states of its relevant constituent parts. In hybridizing the new emergent Epistemontological singularity, which aspect should we rely more on, the nominalist ontological scientific methodology or the transcendental, epistemologically derived inferences there from? How do we reconcile the invariant constituent unit mass particles with the variable states of their aggregates as the controlling determinants of the overall state of the unit ‘holistic’ whole? Let us briefly consider the merits of both aspects.
As previously suggested above both aspects have their own intrinsic merits and to benefit from both we need to identify or invent a common denominator to both capable of satisfying at least their necessary requirements if not their isolated sufficiency status. If we agree on the premise of an ongoing dynamic evolution of complex existential reality, then a consideration of ‘variable states’ is more fitting than an ‘invariant statism’ for a critical analysis. This way we stay alive in the present by anticipating the probable future threats to species survival based on recurring, consistent past experiences and updated recorded historical facts, lest we are “condemned by repeating the “Lessons of History”” as author Will Durant warned us in his now famous book. But an Epistemontological new hybrid synthesis as a guiding singularity is a compromise between the relative certainty of the nominalist ontological scientific methodology sense-phenomenal tools and the current uncertainty of the transcendentalist epistemological tool resting on mathematical logical probabilities, a speculative approach. Something like a re-statement of the still raging debate on the merits of the classical ‘feet on earth’ Copenhagen classic school and the postmodern ‘flights of fancy’ school relying heavily on symbolic/sentential reductionism many a times irrelevant to sensory ongoing real time realities of existence, as if it could have an independent life divorced/isolated from falsifiable environmental circumstances. We find that quantum mechanical theory provides the current best bet to bring both extremes together as argued extensively in our other published books. Let’s us briefly examine critically the respective merits of the methodological tools behind transcendental epistemological ‘holism’ and nominal ontological ‘reductionism’ respectively.
Contrary to other commentators’ opinions on how best to compare or contrast both methodologies, this author believes that inferential abstractions are always necessarily derived from their corresponding preceding observables, measured or observed experiences. One cannot infer reliable absolute consequences from acts that have not happened yet. If all complex objects must have had an origin from an unit particulate object at the beginning, it cannot spontaneously and independently evolve into complex structures/arrangements without a previous intelligent plan and a source of energy to fuel the new geometrical 4-d arrangement in any space-time conceivable because, among other things, there is in principle no accessible memory of preceding occurrences. Then any reliable real time, updated analysis of both tools should start first with an examination of the general principles as they apply to the totality of the whole complex system or apply to the individualized structural/functioning of any of its reduced components. The proper reductionist activity is based on the totality of the environmental circumstances influencing the whole complex system considered as a unit and not on the sum of the applicable characteristics in the environmental idiosyncrasies of the isolated constituent parts. Likewise, an explanatory reductionism is metaphysical and not an observable ontic, pragmatic category, as some renowned particle physicists argue when ignoring the evolutionary aspects of complexity as viewed by the investigator within a valid frame of reference. See Weinberg’s 1992 justifications. This warning is particularly so when trying to understand the super complexity of dynamically interacting living systems at the micro or mesoscopic level of organization (molecular, cellular, histological, organismal, societal, etc.) where inherited and learned traits are continuously influencing each other in their environmental space-time milieu right here on our real time city hospitals or laboratories today where it is realistically meaningful as a first priority option. Within those priority option guidelines, we prefer to start from the general to the particular in all cases whether at the cosmological, sub-Planckian sub-atomic levels, mesoscopic or in between because ultimately it is all about human life and its exclusive self-consciousness capability to double up as actors/observers and narrators of the drama of existence, as extensively argued in our own BPS brain dynamics model. In our opinion, it constitutes an excessive act of self-indulgent behavior when claiming exclusive validation of either a transcendental/holistic or a nominalist/reductionist model as necessary and sufficient when obviously both are complementary and needed but not sufficient in themselves. We witness this unfortunate behavior often in physics where reductionists generalize about the resulting behavior of particulate matter when e.g., environmentally contrived component electrons, ions or molecules perform when condensed, frozen at sub-zero temperatures or otherwise unnatural environments on our vital earth biosphere environmental simulations, with the intent to market their ideas as applicable to real time ongoing existential conditions on our planet earth vital bio-system or elsewhere. Another problem we will not discuss now is the questionable probability distribution assigned to varying participating events. This is not meant to deny the potential transcendental value of simulations under justifiable environmental conditions to generate various probable formulations to explain the measured reports. The one formulation able to produce the most future confirmations of their predictions would be the winner. Sometimes it would be the hands-on experimentalist and materialist reductionist, other times the arm chair holistic philosopher with the same materialist frame of reference. The former looks at the immediate, empirical/nominalist ongoing now, the latter at the transcendental probable tomorrow scenario so valuable in anticipating and preparing actionable strategies for probable life survival threats in the future. Both approaches are necessary but not sufficient in themselves. Together, as a unit life survival kit Epistemontological singularity, it is the best choice as argued by this author in detail in many published volumes of arguments. We will briefly examine some of those arguments to follow.
For the reasons expressed above this author finds it unnecessary and confusing to dissect out further the metaphysical holism as an epistemological/transcendental category to distinguish alleged (but as yet unjustified) ontological property and nomological variations. The allegations that some physical objects carry nonphysical parts or the equivalent allegation that the whole may contain non-physical entities directly responsible for causally efficient properties in addition to those properly attributed to the physical particulate matter constituents; they call it ‘ontological holism’, is incomplete. This incompleteness may have well been the reason why Ontological Holism has been a stumbling block in explaining quantum mechanical interpretations because, e.g., if a physical particle is not detected as traveling with a de Broglie ‘wavicle’ it is assumed it is not there, being carried by the wave. For some it is more credible that a massless physical particle exists! Along the same lines ‘nomological holism’ stands for behavior that can only be attributed to a non-physical agency. These very special environmental circumstances attending these variations need more elaboration until they become experimentally testable or at least probable under a metaphysical logic scrutiny. However, it is fair to say that in the ideal world of Weinberg’s reductionism it is correct in insisting that it is the ontological particulate matter, visible or not, that ultimately decides the outcome of their reactive interaction and not the representational abstract formulation of interpreters that drives and controls the outcome. But in the real-time world scenario of fluctuating environmental idiosyncrasies the very same object or event under the same environmental conditions may well elicit different occurrence language accounts even by identical twins! So much for the importance of the renowned narrator in dictating trend setting norms for all to follow as truths regardless of the strict ontological correspondence to the real object in real existence. The very same object may elicit different conceptualizations in different qualified observers. I am reminded of Nobel Prize Niels Bohr remarks on what today we call ‘Ontological Holism’ as it applies to Quantum Theoretical considerations way back in 1934. While quantum mechanical phenomena can be described or explained in purely physical terms, obviously not all participating entities (e.g., physical particles, environmental conditions, etc.) can be characterized as physical material objects especially when independently characterized as to their isolate/individual structure/function and reactivity. Consequently, to characterize a ‘quantum’ object as an independently existing object is simplistic and unnecessary. Even Bohmian Mechanics’s relatively more recent inclusion of the corresponding fields created by the totality of physical particles of the undivided universe that guide their particle trajectories, besides the physical particles themselves, is incomplete, albeit being necessary… but not sufficient because it excludes, among other things, the human being species obvious brain limitations in the perceptual/conceptual evaluation and linguistic characterization of existential reality as this author had abundantly analyzed in other publications. Consequent to those limitations the human species’ existential reality has to choose between random transcendental impossibilities and an illusory nominalist physical certainty as we will examine below. . .
Between Random Impossibility and Illusory Physical Certainty, the Survival of Free . From Chaos to Probable Outcome.
“One can predict that the double reflecting surface of the mirror neuron will be the new area of neuro-philosophy research as we march slowly but unrelentingly along the reductionist asymptotic plank knowing that we have choices because free will survives.”
I could have entitled this portion “Between an Indeterministic and a Deterministic Reality.”, Reality as a Complex Probabilistic Chaos.” Or “The Physicalist Religion’s Horse Blinders, their Faith on Reductionism”. The common thread between these alternate titles is the falsifiable premise that the human has limited brain capacities for sensory resolution and combinatorial processing. If we accept those premises, then the easier solution seems to be just increase/extend the resolving power of the senses with the appropriate instruments and/or extend the human computational capacities with supercomputers. We have no doubt this has been largely responsible for the demise of the Skinnerian ‘behavioristic pessimism’ about the reality of a mind that pervaded the pre-Chomskian era. We have taken long strides in improving the quality and resolution of both instruments and computers. Yet we remain ever so far from ascertaining the ontology of consciousness, the limits of cosmos or the characterization of the Kantian reality ‘in se’, if anyone exists. Why do we keep trying? I suppose because humans always hunger for answers as to his origins and destiny. What alternatives remain, barring an unforeseen species mutation sometimes soon?
Let it be clear that our species limited resolution capacities notwithstanding, all of us modelling reality should be intellectually committed to a reductionist view of reality as an asymptotic goal by stretching to the limit the resolving power of our ontological descriptions and epistemological explanations. Humans remain the measure of all things, those that are and those that are not. Thus both aspects of existence are relevant and should be integrated into a functional hybrid, what we have termed an ‘epistemontological’ view of existential reality. All of which reminds me of Chris Langan’s efforts in synthesizing matter and information in his CTMU.
Let us briefly review what neuroscientists and mind philosophers have accomplished in these respects and speculate on why a quantum theoretical probabilistic approach may be the best compromise in explaining ‘consciousness’ where conscious, free decision-making or “free will” consent survives the perfectly deterministic, physicalist world faith/dream of reductionism.
First things first, for the sake of an efficient and productive time communication, I will use the term nominalist ontology when exclusively referring to sense-phenomenal/instrumental descriptions of observable/measurable beings in empirical reality, leaving any explanations of structure or function of an object/event beyond our species sensory phenomenal resolution to be transcendentally inferred epistemologically with the aid of sentential or symbolic logic tools. Thus, terms like correlation between mind ‘m’ and brain ‘b’ describes their relation when there is empirical evidence to back up the claim and ideally there is logical supervenience between them. But in most cases we have to rely on a natural ‘supervenience’, as when e.g., there is a consistent reproducible correlation between an increased glucose and oxygen consumption (increased blood circulation) and an activated brain area. We need not then worry about intermediate causal factors as long as they remain stable and invisible to our detection. If we claim instead a causal relationship between ‘m’ & ‘b’ we are expected to theoretically explain the correlation. E.g., if we posit that the conscious mind free consent can cause the actualization of a previously selected (subconsciously) and activated cortical attractor, the claim must be backed up by relevant, reproducible, falsifiable empirical correlations (EEG, MEG pattern description, brain potential, etc.) and ideally explained by one or more fundamental types of causal interaction between ‘m’ & ‘b’ (weak, strong, gravitational or EM forces).
If all attempts at precision fail, we can always ascribe and explain consciousness as having a Russellian type of primordial existence or as ‘emerging’ from a special brain material complexity, both of which are metaphysical constructs to embellish our ignorance about matters immaterial. So one often wonders about conceptual ego trips into the invisible when others, with their feet on solid grounds, are trying to resuscitate and bring ‘behaviorism’ through the back door with the Don Quijote’s Sancho Panza reality test, e.g., the psychophysical archetypal order approach of Chalmers, Jung, Bohm, Primas, etc. Our own biopsychosocial (BPS) model implicitly, albeit reluctantly, gives in into it…for now at least.
I will also assign jurisdictional frames to specify the particular mental state being referred to, thus I will use the term unconscious when referring to that mental state where the agent is totally unaware of those inherited reflex neuronal networks programs charged with the preservation of biological integrity for the species and whose conscious access is denied during normal functioning, like the access to ‘machine language’ programs running a computer registry or BIOS. The term subconscious I will reserve for the mental state of conditioned awareness, those network processes containing both inherited (genetic) and acquired (memetic) components that, when needed, can subconsciously access higher mental faculties to extract conscious meanings from the changes monitored/detected in the ongoing/online contingencies, e.g., by accessing mirror neurons complex or the language faculty.
In this last respect we have argued that at that time, the adopted language processing and accompanying thought (or conscious activity) are recursively co-generated (see below). We admit that these distinctions are a controversial premise because we do not always realize that, unless there is a significant change in the ongoing familiar scenery (external or body internal), the customary on goings and familiar perceptual/conceptual inputs are not reportable nor generate ‘inner language’. This is a kind of neurophysiological habituation like the one experienced when using a cell phone down a familiar but dangerous road when the driving is set to subconscious ‘pilot control’ mode and our attention is focused on the conversation. Likewise, we may have someone playing music in front of me while I focus my attention on a conversation with another person without being oblivious to the music or the source, as opposed to what would happen if the musician is now pointing a cocked gun at me instead! It should be mentioned that there is new evidence (continuous flash suppression/filtering) that we still register and respond behaviorally to perceptual stimuli we are not paying any conscious attention to while focused on some other activity. Another forced short cut that may bias this discussion is worth pointing out. In a previously published paper we found it easier to assume that language generates thought rather than the reverse account based on the relative completeness of language data (as opposed to the ambiguous foundation of thought processes). As a compromise we arbitrarily opted for tentatively positing a recursive cycling co-generation of both thought and language.
Furthermore, I will assume the troublesome position that the non-physical mind that is involved in conscious choices/intentions of humans, can influence the activities of his physical brain (as suggested by Stapp 1999, 153), a most controversial stance attributing the non-physical mind causal efficacy in driving the physical brain, but see below (quantum theoretical reasoning and other intuitions, mirror neurons, etc.) how, ultimately, the unit particulate material of the physical brain is in control.
In a nutshell, we are saying that the psychological experience of being in a conscious state with ‘inner language’ faculties is the result of an actualization of one of several co-existing potential conscious states. We are not going to develop here the technical notions of quantum theory (wave functions, eigenvalues, state vectors, etc.) that we have adopted to equate the coming into a conscious mental state to the actualization of a Hilbert space state vector by giving our conscious consent to one of several coexisting alternatives (entangled, super positioned, embodied in Hilbert space), the one subconsciously isolated and consciously chosen by consent (collapse of its wave function) on the basis of its biopsychosocial (BPS) survival value, in response to an important perceptual/conceptual change detected in the environment. A particular cortical attractor constitutes the state vector being the focus of the directed attention/awareness. We can assign to any physical subsystem (e.g., a brain) a singular state represented by a vector in its own Hilbert space, as discussed elsewhere. At this moment we prefer to disclaim any correlational continuity between our local selection to bring into a conscious mental state and a cosmic scale Hilbert vector space. We further disagree with the current interpretation of von Neumann’s projection postulate suggesting that the mind becomes conscious after the collapse of the wave function as it happens during an instrumental measurement analogy. In our model, the initial online perceptual/conceptual input triggers an introspective subconscious evaluation of alternative solutions (cortical attractor’s probable future outcome) present in the ‘flow of sub consciousness’, an arguable pre-conscious state. The most compatible/adaptive solution is consciously consented to and a ‘collapse of the wave function’ follows, in that order. Contrary to what happens in quantum mechanical instrumental measurements, our mind’s (microscopic M?) conscious consent represents the measuring instrument of the brain’s (macroscopic B) cortical attractor isolated alternative. They form a single quantum theoretical state vector (wave function ΨM ± B) which arguably can in turn be the object of an empathy ‘measurement’ by another observer’s mirror neuron system (Theory of Mind). Consequent to a significant perceptual/conceptual, input-induced change in the quantum field wave (represented by the wave function) of the cortical attractors, a wave function collapses onto the cortical attractor option with the highest probability of success in resolving the contingency posited by the novel input, all BPS consequences being considered in the process.
Besides the theoretical formalities barely mentioned above, we prefer the intuitive premises based instead on analogies to well established neurophysiological facts (see Sherrington’s neurophysiology) regarding the unconscious reflex coordination of the best musculo-skeletal dynamic body posture (controlled by reflex networks in subcortical basal ganglia, cerebellum, olives, etc.) in executing complex adaptive movements, like we see in the Olympic gymnasts where the biological integrity of the subject is genetically guaranteed; in such cases we need not be conscious of every possible moto-neuronal synaptic connectivity to guide the many individual muscle fiber contractions resulting in the gross, balanced, integrated and coordinated adaptive movement needed. Based on the various relevant inputs (from muscle spindles, stretch receptors, Golgi tendon receptor organs, mirror neurons and other relevant inputs) the genetically programmed appropriate reflex arc just needs to be unconsciously ‘isolated’ and mobilized into actuality by the simple conscious consent (yes or no) to the chosen reflex arc by the unconscious activity of the performer. Please notice that, for lack of a more precise word now, we are making a subtle distinction between choice and consent, suggesting that only the latter is exclusively a conscious event.
By analogy to the conscious consent to the ‘choice’ of a particular gross movement from several unconsciously organized probable motor responses just described, we are suggesting, for analytical purposes, that a conscious consent/choice is the functional equivalent of an instrumental measurement in quantum mechanics, as discussed above. This conclusion is based on our modification of Dr. Freeman’s seminal work on the cortical attractor basin for the olfactory system of rabbits and also on von Neumann’s projection postulate, (1955, Ch. V.1) describing a quantum mechanical instrumental measurement as causally efficient in producing the transition of a quantum state a to an eigen state of the observed event with a certain probability of occurrence, what we called above the ‘collapse’ of the wave function (opposing the expected normal, continuous evolution of the Schrodinger equation). Arguably, then, when we subconsciously ponder/measure on probable courses of action during a flow of sub consciousness and make a choice by consent to the subconscious isolation of a given attractor from available future outcomes alternatives in the cortical attractor basins (based on their probability of adaptive success), we are just passing review before giving our conscious consent (yes or no) to a previously isolation and choice of an alternative among many available which caused the activation/collapse of the free willed/chosen alternative. We have tried to develop an algorithm incorporating vector spaces (Hilbert) reasoning to explain this in more detail but have achieved limited success thus far.
In this respect, it should also be noted how the significant perceptual/conceptual environmental change experienced (e.g., purposive, goal-directed movement by another person or animal) captures our attention focus and shifts it (e.g., visual-motor relays) to relevant ‘cortical mirror neurons’ situated at the premotor , insular and parietal cortex loci (see Rizzolati, G, 2002 “Hearing sounds, understanding actions representation in mirror neurons.”), (See Science 297, 846-848) the same general location where related prior events were registered in specific cortical attractors based on the related content of the perceptual/conceptual change, as we speculate based on Dr. Freeman’s results. This environmental change input triggers a transition from a chaos of environmental sensations -à stochastic/chaotic probability in the attractor basin -à self-consciousness and certainty of the chosen attractor solution, a veritable spontaneous but negentropic activity.
Unlike quantum theory that selects from probable random natural events (during an instrumental measurement), in our case the conscious free consent to a preceding subconscious selection is equivalent to choosing from complexly organized stochastic/chaotic synaptic architecture, represented as symbolic or sentential modal logic syllogisms and mapped as neuronal networks. Far from being random, they just happen to be complexly ordered dynamic solutions to events in potency. But they cannot be considered inexorably deterministic events either, to the extent that we can consciously consent to a subconscious selection even when those alternatives isolate the least adaptive solution as witnessed in heroic or pathological acts ‘contra natura’. The quantum theoretical interpretation introduces, like in the previous case above, the conscious consent to the antecedent subconscious selection (all things considered) of a probable future outcome alternative and does away with the physicalist deterministic model of reality and brings a new unexplored domain between the deterministic and the indeterministic extremes resolved by a conscious free will consent to a previous subconscious selection based on biopsychosocial equilibrium considerations.
Somehow we get the intuition that nature’s randomness only exists when an event so behaving is considered isolated (for cognitive pedagogic convenience), out of its normal natural/holistic ecological environment, e.g., radioactive decay from an unstable atom. When so considered, this reality ‘in se’ is non-linear, asymmetric, indeterministic, atemporal and acausal, and as such, unintelligible to human cognition because of our natural inherited linear/sequential way of processing information so aptly simulated by computers. Thus, the human species had to bring symmetry by temporalizing empirical reality and linearizing the sensory receptors input in harmony with an inherited sequential language processing by inventing the concepts of time and space to explain change. Independently related events can now be processed statistically or linguistically when linearly coupled on the basis of their complementarity and entanglement potential.
This is a most controversial and dark grey area indeed where it has to be demonstrated how significant receptor inputs (movement, sounds/phonemes, etc.) are eventually represented/encoded and readied to be parsed and processed in the language mill. Humans process information in serial sequences with the aid of innate language processors (see S. Pinker). For humans to extract the meaning of the quotidian Kantian ‘chaos of sensations’ we may have inherited the ability to represent crucial environmental events as linked with individualized phonemic and visual content tags attributing primitive survival meanings when compared to an inherited gallery of audiovisual/movement representations, what we have called the proto-linguistic organ (plo) in the amygdaloid complex. We have not developed equivalent explanations for other sensory input variations, but the ‘freeze response’ to pressure, tactile and other nociceptive receptors can now be easily demonstrated.
What has remained a mystery is an explanation of how the sensory information travels and relates to mirror neurons strategically located in pre-motor, insular, parietal and Broca’s cortical areas where we speculate they may generate the emotional qualia as consciousness awakens. We don’t know yet how mirror neurons connect with cortical attractors, if at all. By using the technique of ‘flash suppression’ (what magicians use to distract the public so you don’t see things while looking at them) it has been demonstrated how unconscious stimulation by objects invisible to the subject can control behavior.
We speculate that soon after birth, the newborn has to activate the inherited archetype allowing us to linearize the sense-phenomenal environmental receptor input and couple it to the processing of the adopted language. This way we integrate the inherited proto-semantic, amygdaloidal unconscious processing of sense-phenomenal input with the hippocampus subconscious, contextual analysis of the sensory input and the insular mirror neuron input. The amygdalar and insular components are charged with the preservation of the species biological integrity and the visceral brain’s neuro-humoral homeostasis respectively. The hippocampus/executive cortex axis is involved in the preservation of psychosocial equilibrium. As long as there is no significant/purposive environmental change threatening the biological homeostasis and the psychosocial equilibrium we remain in a state of subconscious awareness, like a sophisticated robotic monitor. As soon as a significant perceptual/conceptual change ensues we either continue updating the attractor basins with perceptual/conceptual memory based inputs or adaptively respond to the environmental contingency. We can reflexly respond stereotypically at the unconscious proto-semantic level by a temporary inhibition of any response (‘freeze response’) pending a contextual analysis by the hippocampus at the subconscious level. If the contextual analysis is semantically positive and the sensory stimulus represent a biological survival threat, the amygdala is disinhibited and a Cannon ‘fight or flight’ response is unleashed. Otherwise, when the change carries the potential for a psychosocial disequilibrium then the higher mental faculties are accessed to extract meaningful information, e.g., a language sequential linear processor to parse the inherited/acquired audiovisual representations data and generate the corresponding syntax structure to express the proper symbolic and/or sentential premises preceding the appropriate logical conclusions (propositional attitude?) and generate the corresponding thought/consciousness in the process. Brain lesions to angular gyrus and Broca’s area interfere with this processing. A flow of subconsciousness is thereby triggered from which the most probable and best adapted cortical attractor solution is subconsciously isolated and freely chosen by consent from the probable future outcomes, as discussed above.
A cortical attractor (including the corresponding mirror neurons components) represents the unit behavioral complex attending the solution to a novel contingency. It comprises a complex behavioral strategy integrating the phenomenal and attitudinal/emotional aspects and their associated perceptual/conceptual qualia. Once more we emphasize that perceptual and conceptual qualia are semantically neutral and find their existential meaning within the context of an individual BPS equilibrium context requiring the language faculty to generate the appropriate symbolic/sentential representations for recursive parsing and syntax elaboration in the adopted language.
It has been most difficult to integrate the participation of the mirror neurons in this unit behavioral complex because of our paucity of relevant anatomico-physiological data. Their presence, in association with Broca’s area, insular cortex and parieto-temporal angular gyrus, is an indication of their likely involvement in the semantic, emotional and multimodal assembly of the unit behavioral entity, not to mention their possible role in the emergence of self-consciousness as we reverse the mirror neurons focus into the agent/observer. As we published elsewhere, just like a newborn baby can watch her lactating mother’s facial/body movements and listen to her baby talk cooing until she eventually discovers the difference between the self and that of mother’s; reciprocally the mother can anticipate the newborn’s needs, an empathy state only possible with the help of mirror neurons. We see no reason why the same ‘mirror neuron’ mechanism cannot be directed inwards to auscultate the self as both the actor and observer! We can demonstrate using fMRI techniques the complex coordination of the left somatotopic premotor cortex with auditory and left parietal cortex which lightens up when we either move a hand while making a sound or watching someone else do it! If the observer can empathize with the external subjects making those sounds or movements via motor neurons systems, especially the likely emotions attending such behavior (as suggested by the activity of the insular mirror neuron system), we don’t see any serious problem about turning that empathy faculty on ourselves and achieving self-consciousness in the process, a veritable reciprocal ‘theory of mind’! This area needs more development because both phenomenal and conceptual qualia in our BPS model requires the language faculty to be accessed for interpretation as to what it existentially really means to me whereas in an ordinary ‘introspection’ a semantic analysis may be waived, like when we are just mind reading someone else. I can predict that the dual reflecting surface of the mirror neurons will be the new area of neuro-philosophy research as we march slowly but unrelentingly along the reductionist asymptotic plank knowing that we have choices because free will survives.
Summary and Conclusions.
The simplest way to phenomenologically describe and/or inferentially explain the causally driven simplest possible system S with two or more participating components, say a, b, c, is to assume the unit-size particulate matter components may interact under clearly stated standard temperature and pressure (STP) environmental conditions and coordinates in space time. This would be an idealist representation of a Newtonian spatiotemporal kinematic behavior of a, b, c, ..n particles responding to finite forces f=ma as each particle projects forward along its trajectory. In anticipation of having to describe/explain some unexpected experimental results or observations, we then incorporate a quantum theoretical mathematical logic such that this system is now more adequately characterized by a tensor-product state-vector factorizing into a vector in the Hilbert space of each individual participant thus: Ψa, b, c, …, n ≠ Ψa ⊗ Ψb ⊗ Ψc….. Ψn. In the real time human and earth spatio-temporal biosystem world of hands-on experimentalists and arm-chair theorists of language reporters of the observables results, the tensor products of the equation do not factorize out as shown in the previous equation. No wonder the participating elements are said to be all entangled if we imply an unreal statism instead of a real-time complex evolving before the scratching heads of the human practitioners and the speculators whose access to absolute reality is denied to their physical brain processing capabilities in both the perceptual and/or conceptual domain of discourse! No wonder we have to settle for convenient approximations and propositional brainstorm model poems to see it their corresponding predictions are verified in future measurements and/or observations….. and even then it will undoubtedly change eventually with the passage of time, not to mention the unjustifiable excesses attributable to either the materialist physics scientific methodology ontological claims or the philosophical methodology epistemological claims when excluding each other as the only valid assessment of human existential reality. That is the reason why only in the ideal world the total is not necessarily and sufficiently expressed as the sum of its constitutive parts. This way both the nominal/ontological and transcendental/epistemological views, albeit necessary, become extreme views because of their insufficient status when taken separately. Why not integrate the best of both into a new unit singularity, a dynamic hybrid Epistemontological synthesis like our own biopsychosocial BPS model of brain dynamics? This conceptualization, as spelled out in seven published volumes, a blog, a treatise and various other publications, is still in development as several issues remain unsolved as pointed out in our arguments above.
There is no doubt that most of the HiQ neuroscience commentators are naturally intelligent either because of inherited genes or because of a stimulating environment at an early age, especially in grammatical/semantic expressions (see Jean Piaget’s “Development of Thought” and Noam Chomsky’s “New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind.” I say this because some participants deliberately avoid facing an ever present existential reality, that our human species is the exclusive historical narrator and interpreter of both the sense-phenomenal perceptual world and the abstract probable reality as conceptually represented by symbolic/sentential mathematical logic (see Wittgenstein). Consequently, we must take into account our obvious nominal ontological/perceptual and transcendental epistemological/conceptual limitations when transmitting our experiences. Yet, contrary to the case of the most advanced social primates, we humans are able to abandon the animalistic cage and evolve the sophisticated civilization we all witness. The social primates remain prisoners of their subconscious reflex life as triggered by neuro-hormonal control of cortical premotor stimulation directed to their reproductive activity. In humans these equivalent areas have access to both neural networks encoding memories of emotions (e.g., amygdala, hippocampus) and rational algorithms (e.g., Broca’s area). You will have noticed how some analysts capitalize on either one of these two extremes. Notwithstanding the unavoidable perceptual/conceptual cognitive limitations aforementioned, the behaviorists will limit the scope of their analysis to observable/ontological action while the physical theorists bet heavily on metaphysical/conceptualized/epistemological representations of physical measurements with the tools of mathematical logic probabilities. All things considered, a moderate approach needs to consider the falsifiable evidence from both extremes, an epistemontological hybrid approach. Thus, the biological, psychological and social (BPS) aspects of life become an all-encompassing and unifying synthesis of life and consciousness in real-time space as evidenced by brain dynamics data.
In behalf of the worth of one of the extreme arguments, including religion or atheism, it is clear that the super complexity and order of sentient beings is beyond human analytical cognitive reach if we take into consideration the intrinsic perceptual/conceptual cognitive limitations of the human species, the entropic natural reality established by thermodynamic theory would never explain the clear negentropy aspects of life and self-consciousness. Only a hypothetical ‘intelligent designer’ entity could challenge natural law. In behalf of the other extreme interpretation is the undeniable pragmatic value of a nominal sense-phenomenal behavioral observation when solving immediate issues of no future theoretical impact. It is surprising how ‘behaviorists’ deny the relevance of theoretical conjectures about the invisible micro subatomic and/or the cosmological macro universe. I often wonder how they feel when a transcendental theoretical prediction is validated by falsifiable evidence? I also wonder why the physicalist atheism cannot appreciate the human survival imperative value of all organized religious congregations (JudeoChrIslamic)? After all, in a constitutionally elected democracy, why should anyone expect that only the rich, with degrees and power is deserving of being healthy, happy and socially recognized and/or protected? It is only when the mind soars into virtual domains of open-ended meditational abstractions that we realize that in a mesoscopic, real time existential reality, we need a synthetic, a-posteriori modus operandi because there is no need to identify a noumenally causal dynamics requiring an infinite resolution in sense perceptual capacity and an infinite brain capacity to represent and parse all relevant but invisible variables likely to be encountered. Absolute truth, albeit inferential, is a necessary but unreachable goal for the human species…., maybe for an ‘intelligent designer’ entity?
Finally, the best historical account on how to harmonize the transcendental and nominal biological strategies of human survival is illustrated by Kant’s magnum opus on existential reality in a mesoscopic transcendental survival context: “Critique of Pure Reason”, and on biological survival: “Critique on Practical Reason.” It is only fair to say that Kant did not have the advantage of the modern technological revolution, in vitro and in vivo, and could not appreciate life existential reality in a mesoscopic world. That is where we take over in our own ‘Epistemontological’ hybrid model of human brain dynamics. One can anticipate what any super specialized analyst may ask about ‘life and consciousness’, the what, when, where and why of the evolving objects and events of reality as experienced by all. The ‘What’ layer of our metaphysical onion refers to the outer measurable, observed, sense phenomenal, perceptual domain of discourse ‘When’ linguistically described by a narrator at a given time, ‘Where’ it happened under a given set of prevailing conditions (e.g., standard temperature & pressure) until the incompleteness of the ontological description makes us to intuitively reach for additional, albeit tentative, epistemological conceptual domain explanation about ‘Why’ it happened by using the tools of probable mathematical logic and/or theology. Some experts (behaviorists, materialists, etc.) prefer exclusivity of the nominalist perceptual/ontological critical analysis while others (philosopher, mathematical theorists, theologians, etc.) prefer the exclusivity of the transcendental conceptual/metaphysical model of reality in Kantian philosophy; i.e., being beyond the limits of all possible human experience and knowledge, the transcendental approach.
For Kant, the transcendental approach or epistemological domain was a conceptualized empirical argument of high causal probability value and ontological pretensions where its structural elements were anchored in both measurements/observations of objects or events and/or validated conjectures about their probable existence. Such accounts of existential reality we prefer to label as ‘epistemontological’. It was not necessary to invoke the God metaphor to explain the probability of a pre-determined harmony as Leibniz -along Plato’s reasoning- found necessary in his writings. It may be true that an object or occurrence/event may be judged as being evil, harmful, specific or universal only in the eyes of the beholder.
Sometimes we choose to be pragmatic and intentionally try to emphasize on reliable results derived from measurements and/or observations. In this case their meaning is driven by my intention or motive when analyzing the results. On the other hand we may wish to evaluate objects or events as to their general potential to do harm or good now or in a foreseeable future, not personally but transcending the immediate present.
Leibniz theodicy that “we live in the best of all possible worlds” is predicated on the obvious difference between the nominal, real spatiotemporal sense phenomenal physical reality as described and the ideal transcendental metaphysical reality as conceptually explained. This difference emphasizes the necessity of conceiving the presence of both a micro subatomic and a macro cosmological invisible reality beyond the resolution capacities of the human species. Thus the need and justification for rational models of reality where measurements/observations of environmental objects/events and their seemingly un-natural verifiable manifestations are reconciled. This way Leibniz was able to “vindicate the justice of God” in a rational way as complementary to (not in substitution of!) interpretations exclusively based on religious beliefs.
Reproduced in part and modified from “Treatise on the Neurophilosophy of Consciousness.” A Multidisciplinary Biopsychosocial (BPS) Model. Penguin Books/Trafford Publishing, Inc. Only Reference.
Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq.