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Epistemontological View of Reality
Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq.

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Table of Contents.
1. Introduction.
2. Understanding the Consciousness Literature.
3. An Epistemontological Argument.
4. The Possible Quantum Interface and the Hybrid Nature of Reality.
5. Exploring the Possible Quantum Interface.
6. A Brief Analysis of Beliefs.
7. Notes on the Possible Structure of a Belief Proposition.
8. Is the brain a probabilistic or a logical calculating machine?
9. A Fishing Expedition Inside Hilbert’s Space.
10. Being and Becoming in Brain Dynamics.
11. Neurodynamics of Causation., More on Being and Becoming.
12. The Neurodynamics of Probabilistic Causation?
13. Dynamic Synthesis of Levels of Consciousness. An Epistemontological View.
14. Between Random Impossibility and Illusory Certainty, The Survival of Free Will. From Chaos to Probable Outcome.
15. Axiology in Post Modern JudeoChrIslamic Monotheism.
End of Table of Contents.
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The Genesis of Thought in the BPS Model


     This journey of the mind ends the same way it all started, a horizon in sight, a strategy to get there and still as many conceptual obstacles and hurdles to climb. At the end of the road there is always a new gate that opens. For those insatiable spirits who'd rather travel than get there, the journey becomes the destination when you search for the meaning of life and consciousness.

     The role natural language plays in the conformation and functioning of the all encompassing global consciousness, that we hoped would be our biggest contribution to the study of consciousness, has turned out to generate more questions and abstractions than we had hoped to answer and bargain for. As we discussed in chapters 12, 21, 22 above and many other places, we had hoped to give a complete ambitious description of the amygdaloid complex as a natural candidate for the seat of consciousness based primarily, among other things, on its well documented participation (with the hippocampal formation) in coordinating the avoidance reflex responses when humans were confronted with natural life-threatening environmental stimuli. As it turns out the stimulating natural object / event in this case is meaning-neutral, the semantic tag being provided by inherited life-preserving amygdaloidal audio-visual codelets as modified by experience. We will expand further on below.

     Pursuant to the analysis we have developed we have designated the ‘shores’ surrounding the Sylvian fissure (perisylvian area) inter-connecting all sensory inputs into Heschl-Wernicke’s-angular gyrus region and relaying it into Broca’s area pre-frontal executive cortex, the ‘proto-linguistic organ’ (plo). We labored hard to weave together a meta-linguistic distributed network headquartered at ‘plo’ and modeled to integrate nativist considerations on syntax, semantics, referentials, phonology, truth values, pragmatics, vector space network theory and DNA encoded language inputs. We even thought we had found the 4-d coordinates for Chomsky’s generative grammar as the same locus for a regenerative semantics, all embodied by the ‘plo’. There we could combine both elements (universal grammar & proto-semantics) and bring to life a comprehensive theory of ‘meaning’ linking linguistic elements such as figures, signs, noises, marks and body movements as different manifestations of a communication urge, most reducible in principle to ‘propositional attitudes’ configured in syntax structure and semantics. We hoped it would represent the beginnings of a veritable truth-conditional theory of meaning of high coherence value. We laid the foundations, based on a reinterpretation of Fodor’s ‘mentalese’ and Piaget’s theory on language acquisition by the newborn as discussed in chapter 5 and elsewhere. We have scattered many seeds on fertile grounds to germinate and flourish but still have not found the magic fertilizer concept to make them sprout into a luxuriant independent existence.

     In our opinion, the focus of any such search for a marketable algorithm should start first on revaluating the role played by nature’s non-intentional sounds and signs as they get incorporated into heritable proto-semantic ‘mentalese’ ‘atomic’ codelets and second on analyzing the relative priority assignment of verbal (and non-verbal) language in either thought ‘formation’ and / or ‘transmission’. The priority choices get narrowed down to the alternatives of considering language as either causally efficient in producing thought or dependant on it. Both alternatives either co-exist independently or are mutually dependent on each other.

     The inescapable (and expected) first big hurdle is clearly seen when considering causality relations between two different domains, the physical language (or its symbolic representation thereof) and the non-physical ‘thought’. Fortunately, for starters, the choice approach should narrow down to an manageable epistemological argumentation, trying to avoid the constraints of wearing an elusive ontological straight jacket fitting an ephemeral ‘thought entity’. The chosen strategy is driven by pragmatic considerations if one can appreciate that it is more reliable to analyze language as the basis of thought than the opposite approach requiring more speculative activity when analyzing what ‘content’ of thought is causing language generation. Besides, the only known way we can be sure about subject A’s thought content is by way of subject A’s first person account, a language narrative. Analytically speaking, the choices are clear: either we get more tangible results concentrating on analyzing linguistic syntacto-semantics structure as being causal to thought or get lost analyzing the elusive vagaries about the ‘intentionality’ content of thought or mental states as causally efficient in producing the logic structure of language. The latter approach, besides being counter-intuitive, would have to depend considerably more on self-referential accounts of language users about the beliefs and intentional mental states allegedly preceding the corresponding language formulation on the basis of an equally questionable co-variation of thought and language, or teleological wishful thinking or an unconscious self-serving functional scheme of neo-behaviorists as discussed below.

     However, a re-interpretation of both Grice and Fodor may well do the trick as we discuss below. Based on all things considered and their possible outcomes that we gambled and put our stock on the idea of a language precursor to thought, especially after having previously suggested the proto-linguistic organ ('plo') as the putative site for the assembling of language-dependent thoughts, an attractive connectionist / representationalist view of how the mind may operate. We also thought that our approach would give the clinician an additional logic tool to predict psychic etiologies of disease based on first person mental state narratives as an additional input.

     This places language development and ‘plo’ at center stage in our evolving ‘bps’ model of consciousness. We had reasoned early on that if an appropriate environmental life- threatening stimulus, e.g., a snake sound and a visual context of the scenery it came from, can trigger an adaptive inborn behavior in a newborn species by ‘plo’ then it can also be involved in related but more complex language elaboration. By integrating into its species-specific genetic memory the acquired memories of existence, the primeval sounds and sights danger cues get elaborated into a biopsychosocial (‘bpo’) survival strategy, including a communication tool. The role played by DNA, genetic archetypes, etc. in unleashing chemically-mediated adaptive responses when triggered by environmental stimuli (cues) has been discussed elsewhere in the text. This mechanism includes a consideration of mother’s ‘baby talk’ cooing and her facial expressions as effective primitive phonemes and cues to trigger appropriate modifier archetypes that add on to the genetic proto-semantic reservoir of inherited ‘meanings’. The role played by cortical ‘mirror neurons’ in imitating behavior is reasonably well established. Thus the inherited universal grammar links with a regenerative semantics clothed in phonology and mimicry to evolve the sentential logic structure (‘propositional attitudes’?). Species’ environmental survival tactics, clothed as nature’s ‘meaningful cues’ survive by getting coded into DNA, transmitted across generational gaps and translated in the newborn into a proto-semantics nested circuitry (codelets). These get then shaped into a regenerated environmental survival weapon de novo. Its presence is felt first by reflex adaptive patterns as described and then gets developmentally modified into a syntacto-semantic architecture. The inherited first stage gets modified in the newborn by mothers ‘cooings’ and facial expressions and posterior environmental sense inputs.

     This view of language generation places primeval semantics transfer at unconscious nativist levels ahead of syntactic arrangements by ‘plo’. This leaves volition and free will at ‘the proximate cause’ level of control as discussed elsewhere. "A man can surely do what he wants to do. But he can not determine what he wants.", Schopenhauer once said. It was at this conjectural point that we discovered Dr. Jerry Fodor and the ‘language of thought’ (LOT) hypothesis which has given impetus and corroboration to our model, save for some minor and major disagreements as will note below.

     Where we have hopelessly stumbled big time has been in providing a marketable account of how our ‘plo’ processing module mediates the transition from an on-line sense-phenomenal (or conceptual off-line) brain codelet input (I) to a corresponding syntactically-structured representational output (O) in a systematic one to one instantiation by this special basic input-output system (BIOS) of the ‘plo’ processor. We suspect that the inherited original ‘machine language’ genetic code input, when translated from the newborn DNA gets incorporated (and modified?) into the acquired phonemic and facial expressions input from the lactating mother via cortical mirror neurons as discussed briefly in various chapters. ‘Meaning’ to the newborn (proto-semantics) gets somehow structured into a proto-syntax in the ‘plo’ processor. The neuro-humoral reward-punishment system of Olds-Pribram (connecting nerve trunk midbrain and ‘plo’ with forebrain executive area via Medial Forebrain Bundle) may be intimately involved in the original and subsequent valence classification of environmental (internal & external) inputs. Somehow a systematic audio-visual (or other sensory) input facilitates the formation of ‘inferential’ codelet loops that, added to other relevant modular inputs (visceral brain, talking brain, non-dominant brain, etc) will configure the resultant of ‘all things considered’, a "thought". Whether this final event precedes a putative motor adaptive response or not (see Libet’s timing data) is open to debate and should not necessarily put into question the existence of a ‘free will’ for the reasons already discussed above.

     The big problem still remaining is, of course, how to explain what kind of ‘sentential’ logic structure guides the jazz pianist when improvising his music, or the artist when moving the brush over the canvas? We believe there is no conscious thought guiding that kind performance; we discuss this problem in some detail in chapter 19.

     How would one start laying out the groundwork for developing a model for a linguistic generation of mind? Following closely on the steps of British empiricist Locke, Columbia U. Dr. J.A. Fodor had taken a first step (see "The Language of Thought," 1975). Henceforth neuroscientists and philosophers alike abandoned ship on the search for explanations on the meanings of spoken words to concentrate instead on the ‘contents’ of mental representations in the hope that therein originated somehow the ‘meanings’ of words (see Grice’s essay "Meaning Revisited,"1982).

     Within the scope of the ‘bps’ model the family is the structural / functional unit of viable human existence (see Eric From’s "Man for Himself", 1947) and consequently it is not far-fetched to speculate that language may have evolved in order to ease and synchronize the correspondence in mental states between parents, siblings and one another. For the reasons already stated above we have to both agree and disagree with Dummet when he stated "..that ‘the fundamental axiom of analytical philosophy’ is that "the only route to the analysis of thought goes through the analysis of language." Agree because it is easier to infer from a well established language syntax structure encoding semantics than the opposite view requiring an elusive structure of mind to infer from. Yet, as we will argue, language structure is intrinsically semantics neutral, its meaning to be discovered in the mental state / representation of both speaker and listener that animate it. In so doing we must resist the temptation to confuse the map with the territory it represents, the cognition of ‘how’ with the cognition of ‘that’, the epistemology with the ontology. The worst possible scenario will be, anyway, that the resulting analysis will only translate our current grammatical description of ‘mind’ into a richer theoretical system without substantially improving on the older explanations and remaining at square one as Wittgenstein has mocked about the analytical philosophy effort. We have tried all along to identify those other fundamental concepts the diad language-->mind is necessarily related to and establishing the connections thereto.

     This analytical strategy, as described, already supposes a commitment to two important aspects of cognitive science: the content of ‘mental states’ (beliefs, desires and other intentional states) can be represented (brain-encoded) as functional isomorphs (symbolic representations) such that reasoning becomes a formal (logic) manipulation (computer processing) of such representations (symbols) according to a set of non-semantic rules (e.g., program). The credibility of such approach rests on the premise that any logic operations applicable to syntax can be either duplicated or emulated by a computer (after Turing). Implied here is that ‘mental representations’, as described, carry both syntactic and semantic properties (see below for more on properties). The important conclusion is that thereby syntax structure programming becomes causally efficient in both the computer and the brain as long as the relevant functions can be formalized (programmed). This makes logical ‘inferences’ possible, the hallmark of reasoned thinking. This way a "Language of Thought" (LOT) or ‘mentalese’ is modeled by Fodor as discussed elsewhere in the text. It is clear that this model requires linear input sequential processing, can not explain what it is like to have a feeling (e.g., qualia) and does not explicitly spell out whether language communicates thought or participates in the formation of thought (as discussed in a previous chapter where Fodor defends a ‘nativist’ idea using a combinatorial argument successfully). Furthermore, the ‘Mentalese’ model of Fodor supposes , like ours, that language precedes the formation of thought but, unlike ours, that the meaning of an assertion (its semantics) is encoded in the syntax arrangement according to a ‘propositional attitude’ structural representation. For example, if I have a thought that refers to George W. Bush and the WMD, it is because that thought is a relation to a coded mental representation that refers to the US President. If I think "Bush invaded Iraq in 2003" it is because I am in a particular functional relation (characteristic of belief) that has the content: "Bush Invaded Iraq to destroy the WMD in 2003" (e.g., Tarskian semantics).

     As we enunciated above we differ in non-trivial aspects of this interpretation and believe that an in-house proto-semantic archetype precede and dictate syntax and its subsequent development according to a layering build-up of the inherited by the external influence of acquired language parameters derived initially from the mother, siblings and others. But this is just an informed intuition in its embryonic stage as will expose below. We hold that inherited proto-semantics precede syntax which is acquired from mother & environment.

     Propositional attitude states, that is, states that occur at some specific moment in a person's mental life, have the sort of content that might be expressed by a propositional phrase proper to the subjects natural language. This variation still conceptualizes mental states as either tokened mental representations at the sub-personal nativist level (Fodor) or images them from natural language at the personal level (Carruthers). What is important is that it considers much more significant how the mental encoding came into being where genetic memory (implicit and unconscious as opposed to the global conscious or the Freud-Jung subconscious) levels of processing are controlling in behalf of ‘bps’ survival imperatives. Our BPS model view may seem counterintuitive at first sight but, observing how computers carry out programmed instructions, it is easier to visualize a language generation of thought as operations performed over the mental representations in a given language than it is to extract a ‘meaning’ based on a particular structure of syntax.

     Is the syntax universal for all human languages? We think not. The inherited proto-semantics IS, and it will be fashioned into the future syntactic structure depending on the natural language acquired and other mental development influences. This post-natal external stage of language development only partially reivindicates the pre-Chomskian behaviorist (classical and Skinnerian operant conditioning) understanding of language learning and consolidation. Cognitive science alone was able to explain the linguistic competence already observed in a year-old toddler with little or no experience, i.e., through internal brain mechanisms. It was the observed ability of toddlers to understand the difference between "the cat chased the mouse" and "the mouse chased the cat" or their equivalents formed by changing the position of the actors or their relationship (i.e., systematicity) and the toddler’s natural ability to generate an unlimited number of sentences / thoughts from a limited set of lexical primitives proper of the age (i.e., productivity) evidenced an innate presence of an universal grammar enabling them to –in a primitive way- formulate and confirm hypothesis. In the BPS model this is evidence of an inherited inner primeval language we call ‘genetic memory’ which we have argued before as to its brain location in the perisylvian geography we call the ‘proto-linguistic organ’ (plo). These generalizations may not apply to other aspects of communications like sign, sound (music) or body language.

     Communication for ‘bps’ survival is predicated upon an efficient and reliable reciprocal sharing of ‘mental states’ between a language producer and a receiver and includes linguistic and extralinguistic modes of conveyance of intentionalities, a true ‘Theory of Mind’. As we said earlier, a system of information-carrying linguistic symbols as such, in either mode, are in principle neutral in meaning content until decoded by a receiver, regardless of whether that was the intention of the producer. It may just as well had been unspecific. The semantic content is not intrinsic to the arrangement of symbols except for an intended or un-intended receiver who must extract its meaning if able to synchronize her mental state with the producer.

     We may extrapolate further and say that DNA composition, regardless of species, carries equivalent unit ‘symbols’ (sugar, base, phosphate) and when assembled and transmitted by inheritance will not carry intrinsic information as such except for the species it was intended for who must extract it via archetype activation. In this case we have to assume that, other than the unlikely heritable somatic mutations (?), the information coded into the germinal DNA was the result of a just as unlikely Lamarckian-like encoding of environmental survival information which gets transmitted by inheritance and then activated in the newborn when triggered by an equivalent relevant stimulus in the new generation. This way newly hatched chicks will react violently to a proyector slide showing a hawk in flight and not when showing a duck (by reversing the direction of same slide). This is a species-specific inherited response. A similar argument holds for the avoidance response triggered when we see (for the first time) a spider or a snake moving our way. The species-specific survival kit of multi-modal (e.g., audio-visual) code for environmental specific information constitute a genetic memory of sorts, to be activated should the same danger cue be present in the new environment. These are solid experimental facts, regardless of their mode of inherited transmission. This is reminiscent of Grice’s ‘natural meaning’ that requires no intentionality other than that present in the mental state of the receiver. If present, following a presentation of the ‘neutral’ stimulus, a chain of reactions will ensue providing a meaningful adaptive response. The environmental stimulus is also affective neutral but adaptive responses will have an affective positive, negative or alert valence. There is not such thing as a neutral affective response. This fact can be equated with our pain-pleasure affective system (see Olds, Pribram and others) associated with peri-acqueductal grey (PAG), medial forebrain bundle (MFB), hypothalamus and cingulate cortex. It is a common experience to classify sensory, body proper or dreams input according to this primitive affective state which we choose to postulate as a primitive ‘affective meaning’ tag associated with phenomenal, conceptual, qualic or motor experience. We are not now able to precise whether the input information is tagged at the receptor, afferent pathways to intermediate association neurons or at the amygdaloid complex as discussed in other chapters, but it has the salutary protective effect of screening and classifying all information input into the central brain. As we also discussed elsewhere, the amygdaloidal complex controls the relay switch that immediately activates a neuro-humoral Cannon-type response when confronted with a life-threatening stimulus or an endorphin-type euphoric response when the environmental information valence is positive. When in doubt (alert status), the organism will ‘freeze’ and wait until more contextual information arrives from the hippocampus social memory as explained elsewhere.

     The proto-linguistic organ (plo) associates combo, coupling amygdala, hippocampus and cingulate cortex develop embriologically early on in preparation for a more delayed myelinization of primary and secondary sensory pathways converging into angular gyrus and a more complete cephalization of functions requiring communication (Wernicke-Broca maturation) in coordination with an executive and adaptive-dispositive forebrain. This is the type of intrinsic brain universal grammar anlage that is posited in the newborn serving as a foundation for future linguistic development as sensory input and social interactivity gets more sophisticated inside the context of the particular natural language adopted from the parents. This way the natural language syntax structure will be learned and layered on the inherited proto-semantic structure that guides and colors its subsequent evolutionary profile. This summarizes the first stage.

     Thus far there has been no overt intention to exchange information between two cognitive agents, only an unconscious, stereotypical, species-specific adaptive response to environmental cues whose information content / meaning is extracted internally based on an activation of the genetic memory archetypes controlling and unleashing appropriate physiological effectors (glands, smooth and skeletal musculature).

     The second stage of linguistic development in the newborn is based on re-enforcing the proto-semantic data base by adding new elements from mother’s facial expressions, cooing sounds, baby talk and surroundings and classifying them into subsets of the three primitive affects as they become effective in reducing hunger, pain and general comfort. All this activity goes on at unconscious and subconscious levels and limited to expressing degrees of pain / pleasure affective equivalents reciprocally. The most important brain mediator in these developments are the cortical ‘mirror neurons’ discussed elsewhere in the text. Thus true communication starts by extracting meaningful information from an environmental cue in the first stage and in addition from mimicry, both from mother’s sounds (phonemes) and facial musculature expressions (as analyzed at oculomotor center) as visual, auditive, tactile and kinesthesic resolution develop further. As discussed elsewhere in the text, a primitive first order awareness, mostly sense-phenomenal consciousness, will develop as soon as the newborn realizes she is different from the doll, the crib, the mother, etc. and not an extension thereof (see Piaget’s "The Development of Thought", 1977). At this stage (first year of life) Broca’s ‘talking brain’ connecting pathways are not developed sufficiently to entertain propositional arrangements of mother son communications, a requirement to share beliefs, a sine qua non for effective reciprocal communication and a true ‘Theory of Mind’.

     To illustrate, it has been demonstrated (Kaplan, 1989) how primitive indexicals (context-sensitive expressions) become modified by linguistic maturation of speaker as well as from extra-linguistic context experience which varies (in content and meaning) with time, location and intentions. It is important to keep in mind that indexicals are ‘sui generis’ in that their content in context A is derived from (refers to) an object in that context and not a description of A.

     Only when the toddler believes (mental state) ‘that p’ (e.g., baby is hungry) and overtly communicates ‘that p’ (body language) such that mother extracts that meaningful information from the baby’s cue and incorporates it by identities (both genetic and social memory) into her own meaning of the ocurrence, has a belief being shared. At that point they have shared beliefs sans much elaboration of linguistic proficiency. The shared information, the semantics of it all, reflects an internal state of the mind NOT an external state of the world.

     This view carries important consequences. My view of existential reality, e.g., my belief system, primitively inherited as argued, may have been influenced originally from information extracted from environmental cues but ultimately will be a ‘view’ of the internal state of my own mind, always hoping that it corresponds one to one with external reality, but NOT necessarily so! The eventual linguistic competence achieved will be the result of the contribution made by both genetic and social memories in creating a mental state -in harmony with the adopted natural language- (initially via mimicry mediated by mirror neurons) from the internal, semantically-coached combinatorial syntax architecture. Consequently, commonly shared natural language does not validate the truth value of literal linguistic meaning, even among identical twins! Identical world state is no guarantee of identical internal mental states among niche dwellers. Vive la difference!

     It is clear to us that any model of consciousness conceiving language as its genesis or exclusive conveyance must insert in its development, besides the classical neuroscientific level of explanation, cognitive (representational theory of mind, RTM), connectionist and quantum mechanical algorithms to fill in the gaps left by the other’s explananda. There are important conceptual areas of basic disagreements that must be negotiated, e.g., meaning, property, relations, etc. If the complexity of the challenge is overviewed under a BPS human survival optics then the relevant areas of investigation / analysis become clearly framed into one or more of the 5 classical aspects of a super-complex reflex arc: receptor, sensory circuits, interneuronal integrating circuits, motor circuits and effector. Only the retinal receptor and its associated afferent pathways to occipital V1 cortex and intermediate collateral branches to mesencephalon and diencephalon is very well documented. Likewise, the efferent arm of the arc has only been pretty well studied in the oculo-vestibular reflex analysis of Llinas and Pellionisz involving the cerebellum and neck musculature. Most elegant theoretical renditions have sprung from such approaches, e.g., Crick’s cortico-thalamic 40Hz binding theory and Churchland’s vector phase transformation theory, respectively. We do not anticipate a significant improvement on the level of research sophistication when directed at these two arms of the complex reflex arc. This leaves the interneuronal complex of integration as the natural and eventual focus of attention. The brain wetware can be considered as a compacted interneuronal phase transformational complex where sensory input gets massively transformed into motor adaptive output during normal functioning (see Glynn’s "Anatomy of Thought",1999 and Feinberg’s "Altered Egos", 2001).

     Once the visual (or any other receptor) deconstructs the seeming continuity of the environmental sensory scenario into digitized, discontinuous events reaching the interneuronal compact, there is a vector phase transformation and different algorithms continue the deconstruction into codelet (Kantian?) categories. The totality of the sensory codelets gets classified, partitioned and allocated different virtual or real macro-locations in the not-so-hard disk of the wetware, whether in modules or in a recurrent distributed network fashion. It becomes the task of the interneuronal compact to reconstruct the ‘original’ or equivalent representational scenario when called for (the binding problem). The resulting integral may not be necessarily provide an adaptive solution in neuropathology but will always reflect the dynamic equilibrium state of the constitutive modular elements charged with ‘bps’ survival strategies. Passed this test the ‘solution’ needs the intervention of an executive implementation to coordinate the best fitting adaptive response of the effectors at the motor end of the reflex arc. This view is the typical functionalist picture.

     Bridging the sensorimotor divide we find a theorist trying to identify a suitable algorithm appropriate to the computational task of the neurological wetware and capable to deliver an implementation task to the effectors. This is no easy task because the algorithm must satisfy isomorphic requirements of the input-output divide, a transducer of sorts. It would help if our theorist would precise the best symbol representation of the massively parallel information flow to ease the transduction from input to output. Our mind is the algorithmic symbol processor in the interneuronal compact. Let’s see how the argument may likely develop at the analytical philosophy level and the unavoidable constraints and paradoxes it generates in the process. But consciousness research can’t stop at the test tube and oscilloscope lab, at the tip of the iceberg’s view.

     Now comes the qualitative jump of Fodor (1981) when he proposed the view that mental states are ‘relations’ to symbolic representations. If the implied ‘meaning’ adscribed to a logic propositional construction ‘relates’ to a ‘mental state’ in se, the latter will come to inherit the semantic value and intentionality (meaning) of the construction where the syntactic arrangement determines the semantic ‘meaning’. E.g., the President (subject S) believes (attitude a) there are WMD inside Irak (proposition p) or <Sa that p> in modal logic. A mathematical purist may argue that a strict canonical interpretation of set theory requires that an interpretation of semantics must map the relevant terms exclusively into mathematical objects, an obvious impossibility here, which argues for the inadequacy of syntax to determine semantics. A complete demonstration is beyond the scope of this essay but we can see at least that the meaning of proposition p is not identical with the meaning of its representation p*, the identity p=p* is untenable because it implies that there exists a 2 place relation between an inscription and its semantic value and further assumes the possibility of an inexistent correspondence (thought sharing) of meaning between a language producer and the receiver, unless mediated by a linguistic convention, something we argue can only be found in a genetic memory mediating interface. It may be further added that there exist many mental processes not reducible to algorithmic manipulations, especially when the argument is drawing from outside the defined problem domain and is thereby not purely inductive or processable by rule-based techniques. In the best possible scenario, that model does not provide for an ‘understanding’ of the computations and, while it may be suitable to explain a first order type of ‘awareness’, it would be useless for higher order conceptual and introspective consciousness as argued many times before. The same argument would still apply if a concatenative linear symbolic processing is substituted by a non-serial, sub-symbolic distributed type (see McClelland’s "Parallel Distributed Processing"). Smolensky’s tensor space brings in interesting possibilities when coupled with n-dimensional space accomodation of quantum mechanical interpretations of consciousness.

     If we focus on the transition p-->p* = what-->how we realize that for p* symbols to become a ‘mark of the mental’ their ‘content’ must have the ‘property’ of being about something else (in the Brentano sense), i.e., it must have ‘intentional’ states (e.g., desires, beliefs, hopes, etc.). One may ask, how does arranging the symbols into propositional statements animate the symbols with linguistically derived intentions, as in a computer? The program representations may have content-laden states but no independent intentionality.  Why not reverse the causality vector and posit that an intrinsic, inherited, original intentionality ‘in potency’ may realize that semantic potential via the acquired natural language tool and / or in response to appropriate environmental triggers, as we propose? Fodor’s Psychosemantics is a variation of the ‘bps’ internalist approach when it holds that the interactive causal connections of the representation with the external environmental reality it stands for provides a sort of derived ‘meaning’ that fuels the represented symbols to influence the behavior of the rest of the system! This clever explanation is in sharp contrast with that of analytical philosophers of the same ‘internalist’ persuasion who argue that intentionality need not be independently present in the physical state of a given symbolic representation, that it builds its semantic content from causal connections with other co-existing physical states (nodes) of the system (program). Both of these positions still imply that any supercomputer could have meaningful states without being necessary its being introspectively aware of its own states. These models may explain sense-phenomenal consciousness (awareness) but never a higher order type of introspective consciousness. Apparently Dennet, contrary to Searle, does not think that the introspective consciousness (self-awareness of intentionality) supersedes in importance the information-bearing, behavior-driving functionality of derived intentionality. This robotic animation with computer-derived, other directed intentions is counterintuitive to say the least. An unconscious patient (still a better computer than any built!) can not generate intentions simply because it can not attain self-consciousness, an absolute sine qua non. As Chalmers suggested, you can substitute every neuron with a silicon chip and the resulting robot, like the unconscious man, can not have qualia or generate intentions independently. Searle expressed the same concern with his now famous thought experiment, the "Chinese Room".

     But advocates of functionalism, surviving branch of logical positivism, adopt a neo-behaviorist stance when defending that a mental state is ‘what it does’, its functionality being based on its causal efficiency in producing a measurable result. Thus p = p* = p** where the result p** = neither a structural or functional isomorph of p, leaving many intermediate black boxes between the real life intention p and the observed behavior p**. This myopia of course implies that a simulation = a duplication if only the result is considered. Pain or pleasure qualia being, in this interpretation, just mental states known to be experienced by activation of their corresponding neural centers. Only in theory can we possibly isolate an independent property that depends exclusively on the way the underlying system is organized, an example of Chalmer’s principle of organizational invariance. It has been demonstrated (Siegelman, 1994) that some massively parallel connectionist distributed networks, as we would expect to find in the CNS, can not even be simulated in supercomputers. If some conclude: a. that a super computer is able to use environmental information creatively, b. that it understands and even have a conscience, and c. that evolutionary selection is predicated on overt behavior, then we can safely bet that they will selected by evolution to succeed humans. Any takers among functionalists? :-)

     Many readers would ask, what difference does it make whether the brain bears the mind or causes the mind state? After all, their argument goes, the semantic content in representations can only be judged by the measured effects it is able to produce, it need not be of a denotational character. The computer does not rely exclusively on its manipulation of structure-sensitive language symbols, it also connects to the external world by analog transducers and correlates interactively with hard-wired chip connections and other aspects of the program. Besides, they continue to argue, do humans always understand? The truth is that humans have been largely hard-wired by nature, both internally and externally, to react, to parse and create associations between linguistic elements and their denotations, like machines do. This all may be true in part but no computer has ever been animated like Stravinsky’s Pulcinella doll and remain so independently!

     We may want to fancy splitting hairs with Fodor’s dictum that: "mental states are ‘relations’ to symbolic representations." and ask further if one can consider the undeniable physiological correlates characterizing the experience of a ‘mental state’ (e.g., anger) as a ‘property’ of an appropriate symbolic representation. The symbols must be able to instantiate their property content (e.g., anger) or at least derive it from other measurable properties that can be instantiated by appropriate manipulation of logical operations. One can code ‘is angry’ any number of ways and provide examples of its instantiation in sport figures, etc. as exemplified by measurable correlates, themselves codifiable in any number of logically quantified relations to other symbol representations (pulse, heart rate, pressure, etc.). Still the code does not have an independent life of its own and depends on an interpreter (receiver) for the instantiation to take effect. This is the easy example, what if the linguistic predicative expression is ‘sui generis’ and can not be instantiated, e.g., ‘he is an angel’, or a ‘square circle’, a ‘round square’ or a ‘virgin’? How do you define the properties of un-instantiables? Do they exist empirically or inside any space-time dimension, can they be exemplified, are they necessary or contingent, can they be individuated? We must remember from previous discussions that ‘being’ is very different from ‘existing’. Can a symbolic representation catch all of these nuances? Can they instantiate these properties minimally, with or without their affective component or qualia? If you are a neo-behaviorist or a scientist all you may care about is that, no matter how different their intrinsic properties, two or more properties are the same if they cause the same nomological or functional effect in their instances. This way a brachial plexus chemical block by injection is identical to cutting the same nerves connection to the arm you are trying to anesthesize!! Not all objects can have exemplifiable properties accurately constituted (encoded) as specified by axioms, like circles or squares where identities can be established as long as the abstract specifications in the geometry theory are met. We say that properties that necessarily have the same encoding extensions are identical, but properties that necessarily have the same exemplification extensions may be distinct, like the exemplification of the property of being ‘round’ in different objects, e.g., round squares = round circles. Empirical properties (low order logic) are handled differently from the ‘many placed’ (high order logic) 'properties' of metaphysical entities. As long as there may be a demonstrable causal effect empirical properties may be assigned higher order status.

     The antecedent arguments clear the way for a better understanding that the ‘relation’ between an object and its symbol representation may be properly considered as a property itself. Relations have orders or levels also, from the two place relation (e.g., <Republicans believe the President> or <the contender is taller than the incumbent>) to the ‘many argument places’ relationship that arguably give credence to symbolic representations of meanings in a computer program where the symbols are also related to other programs, hard-wired chips, transducers, sensors, monitors, etc. When the relation is to non-instantiable properties, including math constructs, metaphysical logic conclusions, etc., then the resulting conclusion or model will depreciate in credibility even when it may describe the truthful reality account. The same thing holds for propositions when considered as limiting cases of properties. Instantiations may not qualify as properties because they become their object, i.e., there are no intermediaries and they are no longer related causally. The Transubstantiation religious ritual instantiates the body of Christ in the ‘Host’ in a symbolic, non-empirical way, which truth becomes validated in those with that belief (faith).

     This preceding elaboration brings us finally to the reason why our ‘bps’ model position that an inherited proto-semantics that precedes formal syntax structure in the generation of language and thought is more tenable than the classical causation view that reverses the vector of causation syntax--> semantics. ‘Meanings’ (‘that p’, e.g, beliefs) should be considered in all cases as complex predicates in the propositional attitude equation <Sa that p>. A syntactic structure of a complex predicate is not meant to exhibit the internal structure nuances of a complex property; but rather to evidence in a general way that property's position in the logical network of properties. An eminently structured specification like linguistic syntax should aim at becoming a natural device for singling out a specific member among a structured realm of possible entities, by identifying it by its place (its logical location) in that domain. The ‘bps’ model makes it possible for language syntax to become that kind of device when nourished and fashioned by a genetic memory input and early environmental influences within the context of an adopted natural language. It is our belief that, unduly influenced by the successful use of complex hyperstructured predicates and structured metaphores to denote empirical, structured specifications (measurable properties) in Artificial Intelligence (AI), have driven some of the best analytical minds into the nave faith belief that ALL properties are literally structured. We have provided examples to illustrate how even the definition of what a property is, is put into question! For all we know, the complex mental ‘properties’ themselves may not even have a tangible structure to get hold off and translate into symbols.

Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq.

Deltona, Florida Winter 2003

Hope you enjoyed it!

Additional References

Ameriks, K. 1983. Kant's Theory of Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Baars, B. 1997. In the Theatre of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Bennett, J. 1966. Kant's Analytic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bennett, J. 1974. Kant's Dialectic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Block, N. 1995. On a confusion about a function of consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18: 227-47.

Brook, A. 1994. Kant and the Mind. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Butler, J. 1736. Dissertation I: Of Personal Identity. In his Analogy of Religion. London: Dent, 1906.

Castaeda, Hector-N. 1966. ‘He’: A study in the logic of self-consciousness. Ratio 8, pp.130-57.

Chalmers, D. 1996. The Conscious Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Churchland, P. M. 1995. The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul. MIT Press/A Bradford Book

Churchland, P. S. 1983. Consciousness: the transmutation of a concept. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 64: 80-95.

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Dawson, M. 1998. Understanding Cognitive Science. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

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Dennett, D. 1991. Consciousness Explained. New York: Little, Brown.

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Guyer, P. 1987. Kant and the Claims of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Hardcastle, V. 1998. The binding problem. In A Companion to Cognitive Science, Wm. Bechtel and G. Graham, eds. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Hardcastle, V. In progress. Attention versus consciousness: a distinction with a difference.

Hill, C. 1991. Sensations: A Defense of Type Materialism. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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James, W. 1890. Principles of Psychology, two volumes. London: Macmillan.

Kant, I. 1781/87. Critique of Pure Reason. P. Guyer and A. Wood, trans. and eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (cited as Axxx for the first edition of 1781and Bxxx for the second of 1787).

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Perry, J. 1979. The problem of the essential indexical. Nos 13: 3-21.

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Shoemaker, S. 1984. Commentary: Self-consciousness and Synthesis. In A. Wood, ed. Self and Nature in Kant's Philosophy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, pp. 148-155.

Shoemaker, S. 1996. Unity of consciousness and consciousness of unity. In The First-Person Perspective and Other Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Strawson, P. F. 1966. The Bounds of Sense. London: Methuen Ltd.

Tye, M. 1995. Ten Problems of Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/A Bradford Book.

White, S. 1990. The Unity of the Self. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/A Bradford Book.


Neurophilosophy of Consciousness

Epistemolontological Aspects of Existential Reality


The Possible Quantal Interface and the Hybrid Nature of Reality.Part I

Fractal Tori

"It is difficult for the matter-of-fact physicist to accept the view that the substratum of everything is of mental character." Sir Arthur Eddington


Perhaps many good scientists, sworn to uphold the tenets and defend the rigor of scientific methodology, do not realize that quantum mechanic/field theory -far from being the direct, exclusive result of an experimental scientific enquiry- is the most fundamental theory of matter that is currently available where metaphysical logic and mathematics played a decisive role in its coming into being. Consequently it may be worthwhile to briefly scrutinize its structure  and determine whether quantum theory can help us to understand the complexities of life and consciousness. The perfectly deterministic world of a Newtonian / relativistic cosmos has been now complemented by the fresh notions of a ‘quantum randomness’ thereby reopening the possibility that conscious free decisions or ‘free will’ becomes again the centerpiece of intellectual scrutiny and bring man back to his deserved central position in the cosmos, a “new Copernican revolution”.

We will try to make a distinction between ‘quantum randomness’ and other types of blind, purposeless motions so problematic for the exercise of a free, conscious volition. Practicing scientists seldom have the time or inclination to ponder on the hybrid nature of reality, one, half of which is sense-phenomenal in its origin and the other containing the corresponding valid logical inferences about its meaning within the context of a biopsychosocial survival economy. The latter represents that other self-evident reality moiety escaping our sense or brain-computational detection resolution because of its supercomplexity in structure and function. In this brief overview we will be trying to smooth out an understanding of how the transition from the ontological sense-phenomenal to the epistemological metaphysical effort to make an existential sense of it, are inseparable and constitute a hybrid unit. By describing, correlating or explaining how that Kantian chaotic world of sensations out there in the existential empirical world gets transduced into adaptive efforts we will unavoidably enter into a discussion of our freedom (free will) to influence this transition can an empirical contingency generate single or multiple adaptive possible solutions from which to freely choose.

Since quantum events occur in the brain as elsewhere in the material world we will start from the premise that their presence is relevant for those aspects of brain activity that are correlated with mental activity, leaving aside the present controversy on whether these events are in any measurable way causally efficient. We wish to concentrate more on how quantum theory may adequately interface the deterministic physical world of sensations with the indeterministic world of possible theoretical, logically inferred, solutions to contingencies threatening human biopsychosocial equilibrium. This may be the equivalent of joining the temporal scale of human survival with the historical time frame beyond it or joining the actual instant with the possible future, perhaps joining the world of sensations with the world of ideas. But all such possibilities are premised upon the existence of human free will; can quantum theory help identifying such sine qua non? It is fairly plausible that conscious free decisions will no longer constitute a philosophical problem in a perfectly deterministic world thanks to a better understanding of the two aspects of quantum ‘randomness’ as we already see in stochastic / chaotic systems. In our opinion, quantum theory may turn out to be that successful interface joining both sides of the same coin of operational reality.


First let us agree on the rules of the communication game. We start with the premise that our human operational reality has two inseparable components, the sense-phenomenal matter of the empirical domain and the metaphysical mind that makes it intelligible for human adaptive purposes. How do we relate one to the other? When we co-relate matter and mind we can do it two ways: we can describe an invariant observable transition in the empirical domain from ab. The description does not commit the proponent with a particular causal agent because causation is an explanation that, while depending on the sense-phenomenal observation,  is to be understood as a linguistic term used to imply metaphysical abstractions attempting to make operational sense of the observed correlation. We should understand causation to be an irreversible sequence ab to accommodate the possibility of a future identification of a common but unknown cause giving rise to both a and b. 

In the physical domain the relevant causal relations (termed interactions) are either electromagnetic, weak, strong or gravitational, which are just metaphysical logic inferences to adequately explain or ‘make sense’ of the empirical correlations that are witnessed in the environment or the simulation laboratory. Those familiar with the relevant literature will have discovered that, unfortunately, the present knowledge about the interface bridging material and mental states are based exclusively on descriptions of empirical correlations shying away from any attempt to search for any causally conditioned sequence that would provide a needed theoretical understanding. The main reason is an ingrained scientific/intellectual bias about causality and exclusive closure in the ‘physical’ domain. Read observable, repeatable and falsifiable sense-phenomenal domain guided by scientific methodology). For the physicalist persuasion, if outside the reach of scientific methodology, it doesn’t exist!! Enter quantum dynamics…, is it science? And if not….then what? If not, theoreticians become expendable and, like the busy clinicians, our neuroscientists become satisfied with, e.g., the empirical correlations between active brain tissue and their increased glucose consumption (Pet Scans) or their increased circulatory content of haemoglobin (fMRI). So much for our natural curiosity to learn about our origins and destiny; a subversion of our inherited nature?

How may a non-deterministic quantum dynamics interface bridge mind and matter into a hybrid whole? Can a metaphysical mind be causally efficient to interact with the physical matter of the brain? Or more appropriately, is the sub-Planck dimensional domain of quantum dynamics theory or fact? We know, e.g., that a measurable quantum phenomena such as radioactive decay, photon emission and absorption or wave interference, etc. -while random in nature- carry the potential of being framed into a probabilistic description. Does that qualify QM as having ‘scientific’ predictive value?. If I can’t predict –as it happens- when a chunk of radioactive material will emit a sub-atomic particle by decay or how many particles will be produced in the next hours, if any, does that disqualify QM as a reliable theory of causality because it can only provide statistical probabilities of a decay to happen? Is there a ‘hidden variable’ in the QM formulation that will make it more acceptable? We believe that the conceptual chasm between the classical deterministic Newtonian / relativistic and the non-deterministic Planck manifolds can be successfully bridged by a QM theory phrased in an universal syntax. Otherwise the sense-phenomenal empirical world will remain ‘a matter of fact’ and the sub-Planck manifold of QM will ultimately turn into one of many mysterious metaphors so well suited for spinning in the public media by special interest groups and the uneducated. If we harmonize the facts of scientific methodology and the relevant metaphysical circumstances in which they play themselves out we will have an operational model, a true Theory of Everything (TOE) highlighting the hybrid nature of reality. Just as for the informed literati and the objective, dispassionate mind-frame there should not be any incompatibility between the rationally-inspired Darwinism and the psychosocially-inspired theology; we also claim the same consideration for a hybrid conception of reality. We will give below examples of the special hybrid nature of QM itself, indeterminate at the macrophysical empirical level but genuinely deterministic at the inferential Planck dimensional level.

Paradoxically as it may seem, it is not far-fetched to claim that QM is today the best candidate for a genuinely deterministic theory as required in the domain of the physical environment. We can appreciate this and other relevant facts better if we remove all theological/philosophical concepts from admixing with experimental/mathematical logic facts, an intellectual challenge indeed.

The evolution of a quantum mechanical (QM) wavefunction describing the complete story of a physical system under the Schrdinger equation is undoubtedly deterministic in nature. It should be remembered that the uncertainty occasionally experienced,  especially when an observation was made or a quantum measurement was performed, was explained  by invoking some elusive process of “collapse of the wavefunction” The collapse process itself is usually postulated to proceed in an indeterministic fashion, BUT with probabilities assigned for various possible future outcomes, via Born's rule, calculable on the basis of the system's wavefunction, means that, notwithstanding the unavoidable fact that the collapse quantum event introduced an element of randomness (realized at the ontological level and epistemological level). This way a special type of non-random determinism is born (see Stapp) as will be examined below. Is there room here for  the possibility that a willed conscious mental act can collapse the wave function and thus influence the course of any such seemingly random/chaotic as we see e.g., in brain behavior? Or is coherence and entanglement a previously required antecedent before collapse? One way to avoid a commitment to a QM free will possibility is to throw the towel and claim that conscious acts are open-ended fractal dynamic processes that cannot be computed. (See Penrose). A mental state collapse usually implies a metaphysical reduction of an entangled, coherent quantal configuration of infinite possibilities awaiting for a choice initiative. But, in a more global context, we would be more interested in incorporating in our tentative model of a hybrid reality the  entanglement-induced non-local correlations of quantum physics because  a mind-brain entanglement opens the door for a more comprehensive characterization of a mind-matter hybrid correlation phrased in an universal syntax without the need of a duality concept. But whatever attempts to associate these QM processes  with either neuronal synaptic events (Eccles) or microtubules (Penrose) may be premature until at least a ‘one electron at a time rectification’ process that can operate at body temperature is solidly established and put to empirical test.

Yet, perhaps the most promising approach should be one focusing on a lower level of organization like neuronal networks which today represent the only credible candidates to embed mental representations. This approach, quantum field theory, has the advantage of a possible cooperation with highly developed areas of investigation like tensor network theory (Llinas), neuropsychiatry (Jung) and Bohmian mechanics.

Finally one often wonders whether ‘chaotic’ behavior constitutes yet another aspect of reality governed by quantum field theory as well, as Bohmian mechanics suggest?  Our sense-phenomenal world seems governed by strictly deterministic natural laws but, at the Planck dimensional level chaotic indeterminism reigns?

A chaotic system can be deterministic in yet another way reminiscent of quantal systems: two systems with identical initial states will have radically divergent future developments, but only within a finite,  short timespan because if either system evolves over a longer period of time it becomes randomly indeterministic and lacking in predictability or computability! In private communications the undersigned has had with Dr. Chris King, a research professor from Australia, he claims, if I understood correctly, that such fractal dynamic system evolving over a long period of time represents a relevant universe of possible solutions in the future that become available for the human to choose from by exercising conscious free will. I personally would like to amend this attractive speculation by suggesting the intervening participation of the fast amygdaloidal and slower hippocampus system to assure that the choice harmonizes with a biopsychosocial survival imperative; if it does the final filter before the conscious choice becomes the pleasure/pain system involving the hypothalamus and cyngular gyrus. This amendment will bring Dr. King’s brilliant insight agreeably in line with the rest of our own BPS model of consciousness. If this informed speculation turns out to be true Chaos Theory will pre-empt quantum approaches in the neurosciences. We suspect they are intimately related in many significant aspects beyond the scope of the present overview. One interesting feature of this approach is that chaotic behavior comes in all hues, types, dimensions and structural organization, i.e., from Minkowsky to Hilbert space, quantal discrete or continuous, in wave or particle form and even fluid kinematic flow, all of which are features of human life manifestations. However diverse, they all share the common requirement that their behavior is strictly predicated, for their mathematical characterization, upon their initial conditions.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for some magic solution to harness the theoretical potential of either the deterministic or indeterministic aspect anytime soon because there exist processes which can equally well be fitted either inside the deterministic model of classical mechanics or the indeterministic semi-Markov model, regardless of the number of observations made.

Summary and Conclusions.

We discussed above how the disengagement of the concepts of causality from determinism was deemed appropriate. As we have seen, the notion of cause/effect was not so easily disengaged from much of what is relevant to a concept of a hybrid reality. The events in the physical domain are deemed determined if given specified initial conditions. Their forward sequential evolution are described by natural laws. In a deterministic world everything can be explained under the aegis of closure in the physical domain and the Leibnizian “Principle of Sufficient Reason”; any metaphysical/mathematical unfalsifiable explanations are deemed just metaphors or sophisticated poetry. More recently, a mathematical analysis of the probability of Darwinian evolution -a metaphysical construct in itself- to explain specified complexity, i.e., Intelligent Design (ID) was similarly labeled by un-informed nihilists.  Determinism is not always related to causality, predictability or a theological destiny, as I have explained.

In the un-relenting biological drive of the human species to understand his origins and destiny man has depended on recorded history to regard the present state of his ecosystem/universe as the invariant result/effect of its preceding  state and as the causally efficient agent of the state that will immediately follow. But a more careful historical scrutiny has also witnessed  conceptual ‘mutations’ usually ascribed to ‘advances in technological savoiz-faire’. During the vital life-span of the human species we witness changes in conceptual approaches to social contingencies but we always end up consolidating our support of the deterministic viewpoint when repeating the old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same.” The more evidence history accumulates the more facts add up to question blind determinism as the exclusive explanation for the occurrence of events as evidenced by the conceptual revolutions  attending, e.g., the transition from classical Newtonian Einstenian relativistic         Maxwellian quantum theories. Were these evolutionary paths obvious to their proponents? In our humble opinion QM now opens a new possibility of explaining how past, present and future may be causally connected in a deterministic way where man retains the option to choose, individually or by a collective consensus from a range of possible options with probable outcome. Man may now be able to predict the probabilities of non-immediate future scenarios within a historical time frame if a set of invariant initial conditions can be provided. Considering the invariant fact of our present human limitations to ascertain reality beyond the sensory and brain-computational capacity to resolve, we may have to be content with basing our predictions on recorded history and a Turing-styled recursive parsing among neuronal/silicon data bases, all accounting for known natural forces acting at given instances, or the temporal positions and directions of cosmological, sub-Planck and observable  objects/events. QM  will expand the scope of K. Popper’s range of determinism potential in terms of a predictability based on their statistical probability of realization. This way we also mitigate our fears about our own status as free causal agents in our existential world. David Bohm amended the classical QM by formulating the equivalent of Einstein ‘hidden variable’ equation claiming being able to determine, on the basis of the system's wavefunction and particles' initial positions and velocities, what their future positions and velocities should be. The un-articulated premise is that particulate matter has at all times a definite spatial position and direction profile. This development, if sustained, would bring stability and determinism to sub-Planck metaphysical reality.

We have argued for the idea that existential reality may seem like being constituted  by reflex adaptive response acts triggered into action by environmental contingencies that consciously or not are perceived as threats to the biological, psychic and social integrity of the human species in his ecological niche. During his average lifespan of 76 years there seems to be a constancy in the physical environment and the natural laws that control its slow evolution during this short period. Our world seems at times fixed and determined by external natural forces beyond our control to change even though intuitively one feels at other times as if in control of destiny by the exercise of a free will to choose among alternatives available in an indeterminate assortment of viable options. How can we be both determined and undetermined at the same time? This paradox may be resolved if we conceive reality as a hybrid unit characterized by the exigent circumstances of human biological/reproductive survival as a species and the chronic species imperative of searching  answers for the question of his origins and destiny impacting more on his psychic and social survival. We are dealing with two different time frames, lifetime and historic/geological. In so doing we need to reconcile the paradox of life time frame determinism with the indeterminism and uncertainties of the future beyond lifetime. We have developed arguments in this overview in defense of quantum and chaos theory as candidates for reconciliation providing that their mathematical analysis continues to yield alternatives compatible with the co-existence determinism with human free agency.

        Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Deltona Lakes, Florida. Winter 2005


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‘Consciousness’ Literature.
Understanding the ‘Consciousness’ Literature.
To know something supposes an act of the understanding, i.e., when we experience an object or event and then are able to distinguish it.



          The physical brain and the metaphysical mind are so inexorably intertwined one with the other in their functionality that they become an inseparable hybrid unit. What we know about the brain is the result of direct observations, simulations in the laboratory or metaphysical logic inferences therefrom, especially when dealing with relevant aspects beyond the materiality of the physical brain or when the complexity resides outside the limited resolution of the brain’s own sensory or computational capacities. Consequently, whatever perspective we wish to examine about the mind must always keep the brain, however indirectly, in proper focus lest we end up in a fantasy-land dissertation / explanation or a poetic exercise. All multidisciplinary narratives carry along the lingo typical of their individual discipline components. Consciousness is no exception.


From the very outset we should distinguish between the explanation of the philosopher and the description of the practicing scientist. It is much easier to make credible ‘descriptions’ of observables from a science-based knowledge of brain function than to ‘explain’ the brain from a philosophy-based analysis of the mind, especially so when the philosopher is unfamiliar with the brain. Both approaches are ultimately inference-based and the analyst needs to have some basic familiarity with the most complete and fundamental theory of matter that of course includes brain matter, i.e., quantum theory. As it turns out, theoretical physicists are in reality natural philosophers, less concerned –in consciousness studies- with descriptions than with explanations, for the obvious reasons attending any study of complexity. It is always preferable –because of credibility- to discuss the intangible mind from the perspective of empirical facts about the brain than the reverse; but it should be clear that this is only a pedagogical convenience and not an absolute necessity. That being the case, it behooves students of consciousness to familiarize themselves with the lingo of complexity studies, Wittgenstein’s warnings about language semantics and a working knowledge of quantum theory and logic. In the interest of brevity we will be selective in the choice of examples to illustrate the point.



          Even among prominent neuroscientists we often find a clear category confusion between an epistemological explanation and an ontological description, like we say “confusing the (epistemological) map with the (ontological) territory.”. This is especially so among practicing physicists and engineers whose formative training emphasized, as it should have, on the practical solution of problems with a focus on pragmatism (science philosophers in ‘akadummy’ retire early. J) What that kind of formal training didn’t emphasize was that ALL science is essentially, inherently subjective because WE humans are the observers of the “objective” reality and cannot dissociate one from the other, a direct consequence of the hybrid nature of existential reality. Consequently our observations and conclusions are as good as the resolution capacity of our sensory receptors and the resolution of our brain combinatorial capacity to permute, combine, sort, etc. brain representations of the observable data; very limited indeed when compared to sense resolution in other biological species and machine digital computation. To this species limitation we add our inborn curiosity about our origins and destiny that forces us to intuit that there IS a reality out there beyond those limits of resolution and we naturally extend our conclusions beyond the material reality of the observed empirical phenomenology; enter metaphysics as a sine qua non component of the physical structure of reality. Many practicing scientists, not so much in denial as not being properly educated, would even deny the relevance of metaphysics to their disciplines!


To make sense of the consciousness literature one must therefore be very attentive to the implied epistemological assumptions when taken as facts, the implied level of organization (conscious, subconscious, unconscious, etc.) and often the neuro-physiological level of description and/or explanation (cellular, molecular, atomic, etc.).


Once a consciousness student realizes that brain matter is subject to the same quantum influences as any matter anywhere else in the material world, the obvious focus would have to be, inevitably, ultimately to describe or explain how may that non-physical mind be causally efficient in driving the physical brain into adaptive motor responses, if at all. This constitutes the very basis for the claimed existence of a human ‘free will’ in what seems to be a perfectly deterministic world, even when the behavior of empirical macro objects and events are more often than not statistically determined. At the Planck level of organization (also called the microphysics level) the indeterminism of individual quantum events is likewise constrained by statistical laws. The new frontier in consciousness research unavoidably would have to focus on this level of organization when exploring how quantum field theory may mediate as a possible special ‘semantic glue’ bridging the physical world determinism we witness, the epistemic interpretations we offer to describe / explain them and conscious free will that participated (or not) in shaping it; as we have discussed in a previous paper on a hybrid concept of existential reality, see also Stapp. In this investigative effort we must be especially aware of the exclusive use of quantum theory interpretations of consciousness as pure metaphor by some proponents who spend no effort to define e.g., how the mental discernment that we experience (preceding the execution of ‘free will’) can be analyzed in terms of its quantum equivalent in entanglement, superposition, collapse or complementariness as it happens in other specific empirical situations, e.g., Froehlich’s non-linear coupling of biomolecular dipoles in the microwave region (see below for some other brief examples). It is also important to ascertain what resources (mathematical, experimental, first person narratives, etc.) do published accounts use to view any alleged quantum correlation –observed or inferred- between mind and brain.


Recent literature has speculated on how may quantum field theory be consistent with a human free will. Physical determinism and conscious free will -and their consequent existential implications therein generated- have important sociodynamic questions that remain un-answered. To follow this interesting debate we need to evaluate the resources offered to back up any claim about the alleged correlations between the empirical measurements and the deductive conclusions. For example we need to examine how close this mind-body relationship is, is it assumed, inferred, observed or measured with instruments? Is the brain considered identical with the mind(monism), similar or separate entities (dualism)? We say that there is a natural supervenience of the mind with the brain. Notice immediately that a supervenient correlation implies a dependence relation between the properties or facts about the mind and properties and facts about the brain, correlation being a descriptive term with empirical relevance. Notice also however that causation, so important in the empirical sciences, is simply a relationship between a cause and an effect (or result) whether an event, object or state. Sandwiched between the causal agent and the result there may be a third hidden entity that both share simultaneously without any causal interaction being involved. An explanation is only an epistemological / theoretical attempt to find meanings (practical or not) in the observed and described correlations. Causations are essentially unidirectional and not always reversible correlations (except in recursive cyclings) between two or more systems involved. To illustrate physical causation we usually speak of the four fundamental kinds of (electromagnetic, weak, strong and gravitational) interactions which just explain the empirical correlations that are observed in physical systems. Notice that even an accurate description of an observable object or event (an observed / measured ‘how’) is NOT necessarily conditioned to result from a direct causal relationship (usually an inferred explanation), not to mention the ‘why’ of the object/event presence (usually justified in the theological domain).


If and when we speak of a strong or absolute reduction of mind events, where claims are made that all conscious states and properties can be formally reduced to the material domain (materialism) and specifically to physics (physicalism), we mean we have approximated the dependence further with a resulting formula, symbol or algorithm, what is termed a ‘logical supervenience’, a rare situation indeed sometimes seen in e.g., geometry. Without such proof any claims of ‘reduction’ (horse blinder approach) means that knowledge of the brain alone is necessary and sufficient to understand the mental domain, e.g., cognition. When limits to a reduction are recognized we speak of ‘weaker’ reductions; like when describing the empirical fact that the visual cortex V1 increases its glucose uptake when some object is flashed into the retina of a subject -as indicated by a PET scan- This does not establish an unequivocal causal relationship and never explains the why. Physicists describe the ‘how’ while metaphysicists explain the ‘why’ as noted above. There may be natural, repeatable, falsifiable and observable facts in a correlation but this does NOT establish a logical supervenience. See Chalmer’s “The Conscious Mind”. Tree apples always fall to the ground and the mind may consistently ‘cause’ an observed brain response but that does not imply necessarily an interactivity that can be empirically measured and described, let alone logically explained, e.g., what is life, gravitation, the mind? Anyone thinking that DNA can explain life,..... better think about it again.. J The complexity of describing how a physical brain may interact with a non-physical mind brings into the scene the monistic approach, as we mentioned above, which considers the knowledge of the brain as necessary and sufficient to understand the mind states for them considered as ‘epiphenomena’. The eliminative materialism of the Churchlands is an extreme monistic approach that wouldn’t even consider the mind-brain correlations as existing.


          An epiphenomenal mental state is not to be confused with an emergent state in that the latter does not predicate its existence exclusively on that of the brain substrate and may have an independent origin (dualism). Contemporary dualism is a modified version of the classical Cartesianism that viewed reality as consisting of 2 disparate ‘parts’, a type of ‘substance’ dualism in the form of a thinking mind and extended matter. To escape the characterization of the mind as either a ‘part’, substance or ‘being’ some prefer to speak of a ‘functional’ dualism. In our own biopsychosocial (bps) model of consciousness we have adopted by reference the Kantian version of dualism as modified to accommodate a neutral ‘psychophysical’ interface where quantum theory may play a substantial role in explaining their natural supervenience in terms of a hybrid reality unit. In it we find empirical sense phenomena and the subsequent transcendental noumena which the brain elaborates when representing and understanding empirical phenomena. There are various types of dualism, e.g., in Chalmer’s psychophysical model where information plays a dominant role corresponding to our modified view of Kant’s model. The CTMU model of Langan banks heavily on a universal syntax information model. The hybrid model of reality gives birth to an interesting paradox for the ingrained physicalist who must swallow hard the fact that quantum theory is the most successful model of matter based mostly on axiom-based mathematical logic inferences (explicate, first person account domain) about our limited empirical observations (implicate, third person account domain)!


Is quantum theory science or philosophy?? Only the open-minded knows better than excluding the metaphysical domain from science and, at the same time accepts the fact about his sensory and brain-computational limitations. Metaphysics is NOT dead! This should never be construed as an exhortation to abandon the laboratory where science is born, just the opposite, to talk about consciousness requires being familiar with the physical brain substrate wherein ‘resides’ the elusive mind and the metaphysical logic to extend the comprehension of that being observed and / or computed.


To illustrate the possible practical importance of the preceding argument we will briefly consider a model that describes the transition from the continuously evolving Schrdinger wave function quantum state to a discontinuous ‘eigenstate’ b of the measured observable B, i.e., the reduction or ‘collapse’ of a reversible state (wave function) irreversible state (eigenstate) with defined probabilities (of future outcomes). This is an example of how an instant conscious volitional mental act (of choice) can be framed into the mathematical “projection postulate” of von Neumann when the brain mediates the position between the observer and the observed, i.e., between the sense-phenomenal event and the effector response formulation by the observer from available alternatives as we discussed in a previous paper. How these claims may be rooted on measured observables Stapp, Beck and Eccles elaborate on how the measurable macro level quantum uncertainties originating during pre-synaptic / post-synaptic information transfer at neuronal synapses (conformational macromolecular changes in ion channels, neurotransmitter exocytosis, etc.) can be amplified (phase, resonant, amplitude, spin coupling) to generate measurable entanglements of brain activity (EEG, MEG). The volitional conscious event is a post discernment choice among the probable alternatives. As discussed elsewhere, we believe that the complex act of integrating all relevant factors (biological, psychic and social) and their re-segregation into neuronal assemblies of possible alternatives of choice is done unconsciously, the conscious act been relegated to choosing for the alternative most compatible with a positive emotional qualia (happiness, relaxation, euphoria, etc.), i.e., each potential event has an associated qualia experience or intrinsic actuality that becomes its recognized label at the moment of choosing (actualizing a probable state co-generates the qualia experience); we called it ‘proximate causation’. This neuronal-based mental state arguably would qualify as ontological in nature which justifies the characterization of its reality as ‘hybrid’ in nature. It is this ‘intrinsic actuality’ that Stapp argues as ‘ontic’ as opposed to ‘epistemic’ in nature. This way the integration / synchronization of the neuronal synaptic events in the assemblies become the neural correlate of ‘unconscious’ events at the discernment stage prior to the conscious superposition that precedes the collapse of the associated wave function, as explained, where the probability of a potential act is now materialized. To the trained neurophysiologist there is no mystery in the common place observation of how both inherited and acquired bps factors influence the plasticity of neuronal networks connectivities at unconscious levels in the form of complex physiological reflexes triggered into conscious reality by just willing its occurrence...or inhibition (act against self preservation). Once a sense-phenomenal event activates a relevant neuronal assembly, the attending bio-molecular synaptic events, among other things, induce a symmetry breakdown and propagation over the brain of the bosonic modes thereby generated (mesons, photons). The dynamically ordered / correlated states produced in the neuronal networks represent the entanglement or coherent state that precedes the collapse (choice).


The unconscious integration of bps constitutive elements is guided by their survival value to the human species. This being said, is it still far-fetched to say that every conscious mental state has an associated physical counterpart in the form of the collapsed eigenstate. This idea may be too much for the physicalist mind set to stomach and we suspect that they fear that placing a hybrid entity / being between epistemology and ontology is mind-boggling, especially if reality ultimately should be reduced to a universal syntax, e.g., CTMU model. The alert reader will immediately notice the logical gymnastic effort to assign physicality to a mind / information entity to avoid the closure in the physical domain obstacle when describing its interaction with the physical brain.


A reciprocal, dynamic, causal and intentional interactivity between the physical brain and non-physical mind is more than anyone, except the intellectually daring, bargained for. In our opinion Freeman’s data on the olfactory system of rabbits –as discussed elsewhere- is convincing argumentation that quantum field theory and Beck’s stochastic resonance amplification can be literally applied to material brain states. By contrast, the Penrose-Hammerof model of consciousness is predicated upon a ‘postulated’ coherent entanglement of the ubiquitous tubulin molecule (changes in their conformational states in neuronal microtubules) caused to subsequently collapse under the influence of another ‘postulated’ gravitation-induced objective state reduction, the latter equated as a willed act of consciousness. This approach requires modifications of both quantum theory and general relativity to accommodate ‘quantum gravity’ and ignore the concept of time as we know it, and for now it won’t fly.


One very interesting leading-edge concept is slowly evolving about the role for the psycho-physical neutral interface as championed by Jung and Pauli. This approach gives ‘ontic’ physicality to information. However, it should be noted that this non-epistemological treatment of information is a significant departure from the familiar syntacto / semantic Shannon type information theory where recursive parsing among Chomskyan partition alternatives would become irrelevant.




Summary and Conclusions.




       Most practicing physicists and engineers approaching retirement age and whose formal training and current practice emphasized, as it should have, on the practical solution of problems with a focus on pragmatism experience conceptual difficulties in accepting the possibility that the ontic randomness of measured quantum events may well provide room for an analysis of mental causation, i.e., the possibility that conscious mental acts can influence brain behavior. They refuse to abandon the dogma of ‘closure in the physical domain’ notwithstanding the real challenge presented by a quantum theory operating at a Planck level of organization they can’t either see or measure directly a la Newton. Only mathematicians, ‘akadummys’ or HiQers have taken the painful task of being open-minded, revolutionary and willing to spend the time and effort to cross disciplines and learn their associated lingoes and other linguistic nuances, e.g., modal logic where a syllogism has three variations. It is not often that practicing scientists see a syllogism other than as an argument consisting of stated premises being followed of necessity by a conclusion that is different from the stated premises, if the premises (universal statements) are true (for all, some or one), the conclusion must also be true (categorical syllogism). But now, more often than not, in the hypothetical syllogism, both premises (wave or particle) and / or conclusions (probabilities) may be conditional, e.g., where Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle applies. More troublesome are the disjunctive syllogisms where the leading premise (e.g., behaves as a wave or a particle) may find the other premise denying one of the previous alternatives and the conclusion being the remaining alternative. Like it or not, the classical logic analysis based on Boolean Algebras has given way to quantum logic to accommodate mathematical representations of quantum mechanical, mind-boggling measurements (e.g., slit experiments) in the physics laboratory.


        Intoxicated by the symbolic celebration of the phenomenal successes of Newtonian mechanics where the classical dynamics of a particle position, momentum, energy, etc. nicely fit into a commutative type algebraic representation in Boolean algebra, the practicing physicists can’t easily conceive of a non-commutative, non-Boolean quantum logic to explain the elusive probabilistic behavior of particles in the atomic and subatomic Planck level of organization as manifested in the laboratory measurements of observables. As it turns out this approach is the best fit for explaining fundamental processes attending particle dynamics in the universe, notwithstanding the fact that this way the certainty becomes a probability and measurements seem uncertain and irreducible, like those complexities we find when analyzing life and consciousness, c’est la guerre about existential realism. The quantum analysis captures the ‘state’ during an instant measurement as represented by the time-dependent state function (state vector). The evolution of the ‘state’ as a function of time (based on observable measurements of position, momentum, energy, spin, etc., e.g., slit experiments) is described by the Schrdinger equation. For a given possible value of an observable, it can be calculated the probability of it becoming its true value if measured, see Born. As it happens, one can not simultaneously evaluate the linear acceleration of a particle in a given direction and also simultaneously ascertain its position in the same direction (Heisenberg uncertainty principle), thus we settle for characterizing the ‘state’ at an instant in time, an incomplete but realistic description of the real physical state ‘in se’. More uncanny has been the observation that two such systems can interact and then separate infinitely BUT remaining correlated (tangled, synchronized!), what we now call ‘non-locality’. This requires that alterations in one get transmitted to the next at speeds exceeding that of light itself!, just what we need to explain the speed of thought!!  This is another instance of our human species limitations to acquire knowledge about ‘things’ we can’t see or precise their location, especially as it moves at the speed of light or higher.


Our existential reality, at any level of human comprehension, is a ‘derivative reality’, one that is logically inferred from the ‘invisible original’ by a differential calculus of variations and also by deductive integration of their ‘invisible’ constitutive parts until both sensory and computational invisibilities acquire a ‘critical mass’ that makes their cognitive intuition at the conceptual and sense-phenomenal level possible. Thus there are things ‘in se’ (beyond our cognitive capacities) and things ‘derived’ both conceptually (by analysis) and empirically (by sense-phenomenal synthesis). Materialist scientists ignore these facts especially how human efforts to compensate for these inherited limitations have historically manifested in theologies. Rather than ignore the role they play in existential reality it would make sense to deal with something that just won’t go away, if history is a reliable witness. Like Will Durant said: “Those who ignore the lessons of history will be condemned to repeat it.”


This brief survey is an open invitation to studious scientists and materialist philosophers to seriously consider the possibility of naturalizing epistemology (see Quine) and considering existential reality as hybrid in nature…. Or should the foundations of quantum theory be reconsidered as no more than just information about the invisible reality ‘in se’?, (see Fuchs).




Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq. Deltona Lakes, Florida   Winter 2006








1. Beck, F. (2001). Quantum brain dynamics and consciousness. In The Physical Nature of Consciousness, ed. by P. van Locke, Benjamins, Amsterdam.




2. Beck, F., and Eccles, J. (1992). Quantum aspects of brain activity and the role of consciousness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.




 3. de la Sierra, A. (2006). The Possible Quantal Interface and the Hybrid Nature of Reality. Part I. Telicom Vol. XIX, No.1




3. de la Sierra, A. (2006). The Possible Quantal Interface and the Hybrid Nature of Reality. Part II. Exploring the Interface. In Press




4. Flohr, H. (2000). NMDA receptor-mediated computational processes and phenomenal consciousness. In Neural Correlates of Consciousness. Empirical and Conceptual Questions, ed. by T. Metzinger, MIT Press, Cambridge.




3. Frhlich, H. (1968). Long range coherence and energy storage in biological systems. International Journal of Quantum Chemistry.




4. Fuchs, C.A. (2002). Quantum mechanics as quantum information. In Quantum Theory: Reconsideration of Foundations, Vxj University Press, Vxj.




5. Grush, R., and Churchland, P.S. (1995). Gaps in Penrose's toilings. Journal of Consciousness Studies.




6. Hameroff, S.R., and Penrose, R. (1996). Conscious events as orchestrated spacetime selections. Journal of Consciousness Studies.




7. Jung, C.G., and Pauli, W. (1955). The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche. Pantheon, New York.




8. Neumann, J. von (1955). Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics. Princeton University Press, Princeton.




9. Penrose, R. (1994). Shadows of the Mind. Oxford University Press, Oxford.




10. Penrose, R., and Hameroff, S. (1995). Journal of Consciousness Studies.




11. Pessa, E., and Vitiello, G. (2003). Quantum noise, entanglement and chaos in the quantum field theory of mind/brain states. Mind and Matter.




12. Stapp, H.P. (1999). Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics. Journal of Consciousness Studies.





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Entry for February 25, 2006


The possible quantal interface and the hybrid nature of reality. Part II, Exploring the Interface.

Quantum Fields


“…. shaping  future history as a viable continuation of the past in harmony with natural law, all done at every fleeting instant we call the present..”



“No limits to my freedom can be found except freedom itself, or, if you prefer, we are not free to cease being free.” Sartre.



          In part I of this discussion we made an attempt to flesh out some of the complex issues contained in our previously published book “Neurophilosophy of Consciousness”. In it we encompassed all relevant multidisciplinary aspects of the consciousness debate to defend the thesis that self-consciousness is a biological, psychic and sociological (BPS) survival strategy for the human species when confronting the quotidian variations of contingencies in both the internal body physiological and external environmental milieu. We discussed the importance of free will & intentionality in getting a handle in the process of adaptation to novel situations fraught with all kinds of possible dangers to the species. For pedagogical purposes we viewed reality as the ontological and the epistemological layers joined together as a hybrid unit by a quantal interface. The ‘three-layered’ approach was hardly sufficient to distinguish between which human ‘choices’ are really unconscious/subconscious and which are the result of deliberate  and intentional volition. This time around we ‘solubilize’/disperse the layers and characterize quantum fields  as the ubiquitous continuous interface medium containing all ‘discontinuous’ elements of reality (internal body proper, external empirical and the brain in between) dynamically interacting in such colloidal-like solution. The transduction of the empirical information content (meanings) of the environment by exteroceptors now include also the input from visceral interoceptors and muscle/joint propioceptor  activity all of which initiate the kind of brain processing activity that will culminate in the generation of alternatives from which to select those with best adaptive value. Besides receptors, we now incorporate in the process the participation of neuroeffectors at both the autonomic visceral brain and somatic motor cortex, both of which are dynamically involved with the primary sensory cortex as we will outline below.

          We will, on an ad hoc basis, access relevant multidisciplinary arguments previously published to sustain this interpretation, as needed. An elementary familiarity with neuroscience, philosophy and biophysics will be helpful in following how the recursive flow of information (inherited or acquired meanings), from the Planck to the existential dimensional level…and back, i.e., the recursive dynamic transition from chaos to such probabilistic order scenario as would, arguably, make free choices possible.

          To have free will is to act with a conscious capacity for rational self-governance and being able to determine independently whether and how one exercises that capacity on any given occasion. To what extent we are free to generate a plurality of alternatives to choose from is open to scrutiny. Ultimately –as discussed- the spectrum of choices are fashioned according to a hierarchy of BPS survival strategies operating at unconscious levels where the inherited and the acquired meanings are balanced not so much to optimize the adaptive response of the species as to identify the viable individualized choice for a given contingency arising in the ecosystem niche.

          It is not self-evident how the truth of a natural determinism underlying a biopsychosocial survival strategy may not preclude free will. Hence, it would be proper to explore and identify experimentally the sort of residual indeterminism that survives and makes possible the survival of freedom of choice.  To act with free will requires that there exist somewhere a plurality of futures available to the agent causally connected with the preceding past and consistent with the laws of nature. Can quantum theory probabilities actually be considered ‘actual futures’ at the existential biopsychosocial level? We believe so and will ground the argumentation on laboratory data and the mathematical inferences derived therefrom, never losing sight of the philosophical implications.


          Experimental neurodynamic profile. We all have experienced a check-out transaction at the cashier’s counter in the local supermarket; it leaves no doubt that the brain is a poor digital processor with no working memory for more than the few digits of the ID password in the credit card, not to mention the limited ad hoc computational capacity to deduct the stamps discounts, etc. Consequently, any hope to reduce brain function to an exclusive Turing computer processor is a futile exercise. However, experimental data coming from intracellular or extracellular neuronal recordings, electroencephalograms (EEG), event related potentials (ERP), magnetoencephalograms (MEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission technology (PET) and neuropsychological observations of behavior, evidences the relevance and importance of unconscious analogical and quantum field computations based on other non-linear memory resources.

           But, can we always rely on what is being recorded in those tracings? Or is the solipsistic, first person account narrative of the experience felt (after the presentation of the stimulus) a reliable sign of the agent’s active control over the outcome of the response? A stereotaxic stimulation at a relevant brain neuronal locus would have elicited a similar recording where any active desire or volition from the agent is obviously absent. Then who or what, if anything, controls an intended result?

          On the deterministic side we have discussed elsewhere how the amygdaloidal complex initially responds to environmental stimuli it prejudges as potentially nociceptive to human species, i.e., a threat to biological survival. The ‘fast’ response circuitry is wired up genetically and results in a transient motor inhibition to act (freeze response) while a slower ongoing circuit (hippocampus) analyzes the environmental context surrounding the genesis of such particular stimulus. Meanwhile, pending the resolution of the ‘context’ analysis by the hippocampus, the amygdala organizes a Cannon (fight/flight) contingency plan to match the results from the hippocampus memory database. Should the sensory stimulus be judged to represent a survival threat, within the context of the particular surroundings, motor activity relay switch is released from inhibition and, based on the individual’s physical resources to respond, a prefrontal cortex decision is made from the alternatives of facing or retreating from the source of the stimulus. The particularities of the response involves various brain modules, not the least of which is the cingular cortex and hypothalamus as will expand later on. Many years back, on an experimental fishing expedition, we registered recordings from exploratory electrodes in the insular cortex representing the ‘visceral homunculus’ and were only able to obtain much noise, internal from the multiple neurohumoral synaptic events and external from the interface of the recording electrodes, the equipment, etc.; any valuable extracellular and scalp EEG tracings in rats were hidden behind the noise background notwithstanding our use of a computer of average transients (CAT) in an attempt to extract (add on) meaningful low amplitude signals above noise levels. With the miniaturization of electronics and modernization of computers we now recognize the necessity of such noise to augment the weak signals by resonance/phase coupling as will be expanded on below.   

           Likewise, the alpha, beta and gamma wave components of brain EEG tracings behave chaotically because of the ample distribution of extracellular interdendritic many many interconnectivity giving the wave transmission profile the characteristic fractal dynamics fingerprint aptly described in Pribram’s hologram model. The small individual output from all relevant neurons responding to a specific nociceptive stimulus cohered by becoming integrated (locked in phase) giving rise to the related ERP. The nonlinearity of so many inhibitory / stimulatory neuronal / humoral transmitters moving to and fro the neuronal membrane generates the consequent chaos dynamics reflected in the tracings. Needless to say that such information content is computationally intractable, as discussed elsewhere. Some of this chaotic activity could even be traced to central motor nuclei controlling effectors. What then is the need and justification for all this measured recursive cyclic activity between neuromuscular effectors and the receptors once the stimulus has passed, why the active involvement of cingular and hypothalamic cortices? Dr. Walter J. Freeman, of the University of Berkely  in California, has provided, in our opinion, the best model to explain the ‘chaos’ in his ‘attractor theory’ after careful mathematical analysis and computer simulations. His seminal studies on rabbit olfaction has convinced us that the  premotor and motor cortices along with the limbic system are continuosly involved in controlling central autonomic (hypothalamus) and neurosecretory activity in the body economy to support the postural and musculo-skeletal adjustments in the execution of chosen adaptive behaviors. What is the meaning of all this?

          Causal chains run from past to future, and not in the other direction. Our conscious deliberation causes our particular choice among available alternatives, which causes our actions. We need to get a feeling for the many parts of the brain active in the dynamic synthesis of a global state of cooperative synergy in the premotor cortex, in particular the particularities of the sensory system that initiated the action. We have discussed elsewhere the role of emotions in the harnessing and creation of the neuroendocrine millieu that will sustain effective motor-adaptive responses. The analysis of the sense receptor participation is a tad more complicated and may require a finer distinction between free will and intentionality, means and ends because we can either choose to activate the means resources that will obtain a specific end result or, lacking the resources, I can only form an intention to achieve such ends whenever resources (physiological, etc.) become available, i.e., it becomes a goal intended whenever a spectrum of alternatives become available to choose again from. This way intentional acts precede in time the execution of the viable effective strategy to achieve that goal. Meanwhile the perceptual sensory apparatus continues actively monitoring the changes in the environmental scenery as directed by the executive cortex acting as a central command parsing and sorting among the available alternatives to adaptively respond, based on the internal body state of physiological homeostasis (visceral brain, compartment 1) vis a vis its adequacy to meet the environmental contingency encountered. This requires a dynamic/continued self adjustment, self configuration sustained by an exhaustive parsing, sorting out and continuous recursive recycling between effectors and sensory receptors. Through the aegis of recursion, neuronal plasticity, Hebbian and neurohumoral bias control of synaptic gates, an evolving construction of adaptive alternatives is built up where genetic and acquired BPS survival strategies are represented in neuronal populations to choose from when needed, constituting thereby the possible future states, custom tailored for the particular individual in his ecological niche. In addition, the recursive cycling potential allows the agent to go back in time, as it were, not to change the past but to choose a better alternative that is a possible continuation of that same past and consistent with the laws of nature. This way the current brain representation the agent has of his internal body state (insular cortex?) and the external world at large (sensory cortex) will understandably have the highest probability to come up in a future search for alternatives. What is important is to keep in mind is how those internal and external mental states are kept continuosly updated (dynamic self configuration) by the active participation of exteroceptors, interoceptors and propioceptors which inform the effector network of relevant variations in state. These variations may generate new alternative scenarios to be chosen from if needed. In a previous publication we suggested the amygdaloidal complex and the hippocampus as the main data source about online sense-phenomenal and off-line memory data respectively that informs the executive cortex command center. Needless to say that, in the hierarchical prelation totem pole, the controlling neuronal assemblies genetically charged with assuring the biological viability and perpetuation of the species (amygdala) are at the top; they would reflexly override any other activity pattern contrary to this biological survival imperative. The fact that we can consciously neutralize its driving force in cases of altruism or heroism argues in favor of the survival of a free agency albeit possibly acting ‘contra natura’. These complex patterns of self-organizing recursive neuronal activity that functionally integrates a set of viable solutions under a given set of conditions and perspectives with an assigned probability of realization constitutes an ‘attractor’ alternative or brain state available to the agent to choose from. A search for viable alternatives involves ‘state transitions’ which are partially controlled by ‘de novo’ variations in the initial conditions (triggered by changes in the internal/external environment) when amplified to cause jumps from one brain state to another. Measurements are consistent with an initial reticular activating system (ras) in the brain stem inducing hippocampus theta waviform activity (4 Hz/sec.) via septal nuclei (see Freeman 1992).

          We disagree with Dr. Freeman’s assigned role to emotions as the driving force behind the generation of intentions. In our view they have a secondary subsidiary  role in providing the hypothalamic neurohumoral fuel that orients and drives the collective effort to structure an adaptive motor response by inducing the subjective affective qualic experience as a rallying background behind the collegiate effort. Neither do we consider the amygdala as either a functional or structural part of the cingular cortex. As we have repeatedly affirmed, based partially on LeDoux measurements, it is the strategically located amygdaloid complex, with its direct lateral connections with basal ganglia and ascending / descending motor pathways (lateral forebrain bundle, LFB) on the one hand and its direct medial connections with septal, hypothalamic and nucleus accumbens (medial forebrain bundle, MFB) on the other hand, that provides the best position in the loop to qualify as the organizer of the global response combining the lateral executive cortex foresight with the medial  cingular cortex insight preceding a choice of action; all of which Dr. Freeman conceptually encapsulates in his “generation of intentions” idea.

          In our BPS model the conscious deliberation on appropriate alternatives is no more than the anticipation of possible effective/affective scenarios likely to play out in the different alternatives available. Deliberation is a mental rehearsal play back of ‘attractor’ package candidates until a best fit (with the attending participation of pain/pleasure network filters) is identified and is consciously willed to be executed, what we have described as ‘proximate cause’ free will. In the context of this essay we’d like to stress the importance of these recursive, dynamic mental exploratory journeys into prospective futures -and failed pasts- that makes possible a better logistic control of past strategies to take into consideration new environmental scenarios as they dynamically play themselves out anew online at the biological, psychic and sociological level; the beginning of a new alternative or the modification (changes in Hebbian synaptic strenghts or connectivities, regional blood flows, etc.) of an old ‘future’ attractor basin to choose from. It is like shaping  future history as a viable continuation of the past in harmony with natural law, all done at every fleeting instant we call the present.

          One may wonder how may these different options in the attractor landscape co-exist without interactive annihilation, destructive interference or disuse atrophy? The clue to the answer is a paradox in itself, the shifting, asynchronous global spatio-temporal chaotic activity patterns we measure on the scalp electrodes of resting subjects arguably maintain ALL options open at random. Contrasting as they may be in terms of goals (intentions), possible outcomes (probabilities), viabilities, oxygen supply requirements, or neuro-motor execution strategies, they all get a chance to rehearse the changing script, no disuse atrophy is possible under these circumstances. Because of this seeming chaos, not in spite of it, a relevant and appropriate ordered alternative is possible to be selected, reminiscent of Edelman’s neo-Darwinian natural selection of neuronal populations. But how?

          In our view the receptor input, whether coming from an exteroceptor, interoceptor or propioceptor location, alerts (via reticular activating system) the relevant sensory cortex (EEG synchrony) as to the change monitored and readies the system to focus its resources on likely attractor candidates. The bracketing selection continues narrowing (shifting transitional states) by inferential processing (‘reductio ad absurdum’) in harmony with real time resources for adaptive solutions until a best fit attractor with the highest probability of success is ‘enslaved’. This cooperative evolution of order from chaos cannot be simply explained by the entrainment of coupled oscillators into recursive synchrony as classical neuroscience may have it. Baars’global entrainment model is insufficient unless it incorporates quantum/chaos dynamics in his description. This way we may move closer to a model that is capable of explaining how the internal generation of chaos (measured noise) paradoxically is required at different stages to entrain, constrain and enslave the global networks representing each and all attractors in the landscape maintaining in the process a dynamic self-generative recursive updating from which to choose when the proper environmental stimulus is monitored by sense receptors. Motor neuron feedback will adjust focus of sense receptors on new variations according to priorities established by previous similar experiences, all in defense of species survival and perpetuation according to the individualized BPS equilibrium, custom modeled for that individual in his ecological niche.

          Another way of conceiving a chosen ‘attractor’ is to view it as the most probable neuronal network complex to be triggered into action in a global landscape in response to a known characteristic contingency arising in the individual or his niche which was previously recorded in the primary sensory cortex as an amplitude modulated (AM) oscillating wave front (now hidden inside the chaotic interactivity). The latter results from the integration (phase coupling?) of the contributions of a multitude of relevant synapses recruited to participate. While the attractor was being structured (modified, reinforced, etc.) by the various internal/external receptor inputs to the primary sensory cortex, the latter became thereby the basin for the particular attractor, the same one that when accessed de novo triggers it into activity as identified by the phase transition and its macroscopic AM, a varying ‘fingerprint’. The variation corresponds to the arrival of the stimulus plus the resonant phase locking with attractor.

          In our opinion, there must also be present the input of ‘mirror neurons’ in the anterior cingulate gyrus and insular cortex, especially if they recognize the perceptual profile and became part of the attractor population of neurons.  The mirror neurons, it would seem, add another dimension to the choice process as they are able to distinguish between self (internal) and non-self (external environment). Soon after they were discovered in 1995 by Rizzolatti of the University of Parma we incorporated them into our BPS model to explain how the lactating newborn would be able to map mother’s baby talk phonemes (cooing) and facial movements onto frontal  motor cortex controlling such movements (via Cranial nerves VII,IX) so important in the vocalization stage of language development and the ability of viewing the environment as not an extension of self as discussed elsewhere. At that time of publication we excluded the participation of the primary sensory cortex based on a chronology of mielinization of talamo-cortical projections criteria which left the oculo-kinetic mesencephalic reflex as solely responsible for the newborn imitation responses; we may have to review that interpretation. We have no doubt that mirror neurons will provide a unifying view in any attractor modeling, especially after a very recent non-invasive study by Iacobini at UCLA describing how we can use our mirror neurons to figure out the intentions of others. A few days ago, January 2006, NY Times published an interesting review, (see "Cells That Read Minds"). The ability to bring to life goal-directed imitation rehearsals including the affective component. I also used that data in my book to underestimate the importance of the newborn maps in his un-myelinized, undeveloped premotor cortex (cingular gyrus?) that controls the muscles involved in the facial and laryngeal expression/phonation (Cranial nerves VII, IX). But we insisted on how, somehow, all sorts of facial movements and cooing baby talk sounds from his lactating mother form a vinculum between his genetic past and acquired present so important in the posterior post-natal evolution of language. That forms the basis of our previous claim that a ‘protosemantic’ data base precedes and guides the elaboration of syntax, contrary to the opposite dogma by Chomsky. I also charged these mirror neurons with participation in the emergence of that crucial moment in the development of self-consciousness when the infant can tell the external ‘other’ as not an extension of self. Furthermore, we considered the stereotaxic evidence fact that there is a poor homuncular representation of the vegetative system (explained also by the somatization of   ‘referred pain’) in the insular cortex and how they have developmentally been substituted mostly by mirror neurons. These are activated (fMRI data) during the qualic feeling of emotional states of anger, sadness, guilt, etc.- when elicited by either memory recalls or empathy when witnessing equivalent events as they occur in the ‘other’ person. This was additional evidence that mirror neurons constitute an essential component in the elaboration and accessing of relevant ‘attractors’.

          Our long held suspicion that a Lamarckian mode of inheritance made intuitive sense had now been given a good experimental footing with the discovery of mirror neurons notwithstanding our past failed experimental attempts to find evidence in the germinal cells DNA in trained rats to verify their  modification. Imitation learning, when goal directed, is essential in the incorporation of behavioral variations memes into the updating and reconfiguration of attractor content. The incorporation of acquired memes into the gene pool remains an unsolved puzzle and the answer may well reside in the activity of mirror neurons and ‘silent genes’ of the genome. It is not an exaggeration to predict that mirror neurons will change many dogmatic conceptions about Darwinian evolution as the exclusive explanation of existential reality. See the Conclusions below for additional arguments.

          Philosophical implications. If we are to consider the preceding arguments as ‘prima facie’ evidence in support of the survival of ‘free will’ notwithstanding the determinism imposed by nature’s laws governing the sense-phenomenal world, we still have to answer many questions, e.g., what kind of control may the agent have over his choices, is he/she really free?  We may distinguish analytically between guidance and regulatory aspects of such causal influence on the evolution of volition in the willing agent. When we are able to choose or not from available alternate scenarios we are talking about ‘regulation’. Once chosen we have to consider the ‘guidance’ control available to the agent of the particularities of his choice, can they be modified during the execution phase? From a legal viewpoint only the consequences ascribed to the ‘guidance’ control during the execution phase bear scrutiny and generate moral/legal responsibilities because it is assumed the agent could have chosen to act differently….., but could he? Is the guidance sequence different from the regulatory neuronal script which, in principle, generates no moral/legal responsibility?

          Before we give the obligatory and controversial answer we’d like to remind the reader about the supercomplexity of human decision making when reckoning with a myriad of conflicting facts and feelings and biomedical resource problems pressing on the agent. Even main frame supercomputers can crash land a NASA satellite! Considering the ever changing adjustments the physiological homeostatic  machinery must undergo to maintain the relative constancy of the agent’s internal milieu  and his/her psycho-social adjustments to maintain an interactive harmony with the changing external environment he/she didn’t choose to be born in, it is amazing that the agent’s  brain can still self-renew, reconfigure and self-generate in harmony with its survival & reproductive imperative as well as the social conviviality demands, as discussed. We may have relatively few crash landings but our jails are full of citizens that could have made different choices and fell through the cracks nonetheless. Limited as we are in our sense-phenomenal and brain-computational resolution abilities as a species, by and large we still can handle adequately such supercomplex processing which somehow was intelligently put together for our use and benefit as a chosen species. Can we conceive of a causally efficient but uncaused intrinsic intentionality? To live is to be constantly choosing but can we be unconscious of our choices as existentialist Sartre would have it in his contradiction. The Shakespearian choice “To be or not to be” is ultimately resolved as to “consciously choose to be or unconsciously not to be”. Even the choice of not choosing may be available when you’d rather vegetate like petunias do and let your life events be caused by substances or other external political agents! Notice that when we for example raise our hand to point out with our finger at a perpetrator the act is essentially different from when you raise your hand away from the hot oven, unless you want to ascribe the raising of the hand at the police station to an unconscious intrinsic intention to facilitate your conscious identification of the perpetrator before consciousness took over! Regardless of the extent of our conscious participation in the configuration of a future attractor, we still hold the key to release its content or not and  may even choose ‘contra natura’ against our own best BPS survival interests for the sake of higher lofty goals of our own choosing.

Summary and Conclusions.

          In our original BPS model published we suggested how a biopsychosocial equilibrium was maintained by a complex recursive system capable of updating at every instant the mental state of the agent to meet the demands of a changing internal/external environment. Having to reckon with the stochastic dynamics inferred from the role of the visceral brain (compartment 1) we found it necessary to account for a dynamic high dimensional system, its evolution, changes of state and sudden state transitions as registered experimentally. We had identified the amygdaloidal complex as the locus of this recursive differentiating/integrating activity where the visceral brain homeostasis (inner) and the complex environmental ongoings (outer) are monitored for their compatibility with bio-survival imperatives that take into consideration the inherited (amygdala) and the acquired (hippocampus) contributions to the mental state. As a result, the agent’s internal organization is adaptively modified to harmonize with the agent’s other external survival psychosocial imperatives.

          At the micro level we can measure how infinitesimal environmental variations are picked up by sensory receptors where the ensuing initial conditions produced are rapidly amplified, triggering a divergent flow of non-linear activity to attractor basins (much like noise would ordinarily behave in a chaotic system). Engineers are familiar with such behaviors in kinematic flows, crystal growth, synchrony of optical systems and neuronal systems. The long range challenge is to provide an epistemological interface explaining how the chaotic dynamic activity at the micro level interacts with the ongoing macro level activity in the sociological domain. Neuronal networks, besides their plasticity and Hebbian dynamics, may also exhibit non-local connectivities. Coupling makes possible that receptor noise induce phase transitions (resonance/stochastic coupling?). Interacting neuronal populations are organized via the traditional action potentials born at synaptic junctions and measured with microelectrodes inside the cells. In the extracellular milieu we cannot measure the field potentials they generate and depend on EEG tracings to reflect activity as an epi-phenomenon. It can be demonstrated that cortical neurons are independent and exquisitevely responsive to inputs coming from internal/external receptor sources to maintain a self-organizing readiness to respond to ad hoc variations in the environment as seen in space/time phase transitions. When you subsequently register similar recurring events at a broader scale of time-space you witness the imprint of a fractal dynamics system. For example, when sense-phenomenal data is transmitted by receptors to sensory cortex it becomes destabilized. Wave packets formation follows as information is being processed. For example, amplitude modulated (AM) waves in the gamma range (ca. 50 Hz) have been measured in rabbits when they respond (discriminate) to conditioned olfactory stimuli. The field potentials measured by EEG is generated by dendritic potentials when they cohere (entangle) as self organizing domains of neuronal processing (chaotic wave packets). One can follow the transition from the cortical AM activity to AM wave packets. The Katchalsky (K) model of Freeman (see Int’nal J. of Bifurcation & Chaos, 2003) describes how coupling of excitatory, inhibitory, positive,negative, lateral inhibition/excitatory as well as feedbacks of layered networks, can exhibit quasi periodic oscillations, attractors and chaos, all typical of dynamic systems. Freeman describes the dynamic interaction beginning at olfactory receptors periglomerular cells olfactory bulb anterior olfactory nucleus pre-pyriform cortex deep cortical pyramidal cells. During rest or inactivity the system is acting as an aperiodic (chaotic) global attractor with spatial coherence. During the duration of a stimulus it switches to coherent AM fluctuations becoming very sensitive to variations in the parameters. The input oscillations are seen at the gamma band 50 Hz AM pattern during a phase transition. Paradoxically, noise is now the outcome of an underlying deterministic process. There are many variables involved in the evolution of individual neurons into integrated cooperative populations operating far away from thermodynamic equilibrium. Stochastic chaos dynamics provides the basis for self organization based on the sensory cortex integration of non-linear neuronal inputs that makes it possible to create/amplify the minute perturbations into the global dynamic profile of chaotic systems. E.g., empirical objects/events are non-linear and their analog sensory inputs are initially transduced into complex  dynamic system of a stable chaotic profile. The complexity results from the synaptic interfaces and their non-linear membrane dynamics when bombarded by an assortment of contrasting (potentiating/inhibitory) asymmetric neurotransmitter molecules being transported to and fro across membrane ionic/lipid channels. The slower axonal events  transmitted seem more like convenient physical conveyances to coordinate chaotic activities with distant neuronal circuit modules distributed in parallel arrangements. How are decisions made possible in this chaotic system? It seems like the brain depends on its chaotic resonant excitations to amplify the initial conditions and generate a holographic wave processing. The apparent randomness of the chaotic behavior makes it possible to be selective in locking phase with an attractor. In Freeman’s experiment the olfactory cortex went into high energy excitation (after subject sniffed a known chemical) until a basin of low potential energy (attractor) is found that corresponds with the sniffed molecule. A novel chemical will cause a bifurcation and the formation of a new basin memory to become accessible in future encounters. Fractal neuronal dynamics is the common denominator to membrane’s macromolecular asymmetry channels and global instability. The transmission of the nerve action potential is the only linear activity, the rest shows the typical chaos bifurcation sink.

          At another level of analysis we intuitively experience two contradictory gut feelings, we are convinced that we can mentally deliberate to make actual what now only exists in potency as one of many futures and choose the one that really will make a difference in our future lives. But we also know that ultimately, it was based on how comfortable we felt with the choice, an affective consideration hopefully reflecting the truth value of our decision. We don’t know how  the influential pain-pleasure system interacted with the ongoing parsing among the propositional premises being considered, i.e., which aspect weighted more in our ‘choice’ from a spectrum of alternatives, each with differing probabilities. Consistent with the BPS model position on the language generation of thoughts issue we discussed elsewhere, we escape again from the infinite regressions/progressions philosophical trap by concluding that the affective qualia and the logically-inferred judgment co-generate recursively at unconscious levels of processing.

          We also discussed a possible quantal architecture of attractors following a lead from Walter Freeman’s experimental data. The model suggests how intimately the possible futures are linked with past experiences as the former continuosly self configures suggesting that we may never really ‘break with the past’ but we can modify the past strategy and use it more effectively in the future. The temporal direction of empirical causation runs from past to future except at the quantum directed microscopic level during a parsing search before a final selection from ‘possible’ futures in the landscape by recursive feed-back  reshapes the ‘future’. Yes, we can change the past from the possible-futures instant  present.

          At the sub-Planck level of organization we briefly reiterated how macroscopically insignificant perturbations in the initial conditions of the receptor field get reinforced/amplified by phase coupling with background internal/external noise until an attractor basin is targeted and a resonance-coupled, non-linear state transition is initiated. How may receptor or primary sensory cortical neurons give rise to such destabilized global state transitions is akin to asking, as Freeman suggested, how may few molecules of air and water create a hurricane? We mentioned how Edelman’s goal directed neuronal populations are entrained, constrained and enslaved by synaptic plasticity, weighted Hebbian synaptic configuration, neuro transmitter modulation, feedback recursion, memory inputs, interactions with other mini global dynamic networks, etc. This is not to be construed as an indication of having created a stable state of synchrony in the totality that will interfere with the intrinsic autonomy of the constitutive parts. In our view, a global state maintains its autonomy at subconscious (not unconscious!) levels as the result of a continuous receptor monitoring of objects/events in the internal/external milieu, the differential extraction of their features and their integration into a new brain configuration representing the object/event before  interacting reciprocally with amygdaloidal complex as discussed above. It remains questionable whether Crick’s recording of 40 Hz synchrony describes the brain representation or binding of the extracted of the sense-phenomenal features after achieving their initial phase/frequency synchronization. The global unit formed is stabilized by the downward constrainment of its participating neurons which maintain their self-configuring dynamics capable of the instantiation of ‘intentional’ goal-directed behavior that includes the affective and attention mental state in its implementation. Repeating, once a familiar or novel pattern is recognized in the environment it leaves a trademark readout in the amplitude-modulated tracing very easily distinguished from the uneventful resting state tracing containing the background basal state noise from receptor instability.

          The alert reader may have noticed that the preceding account smacks of a self-configuring, self-generating circular causality that eludes assigning responsibility for identifying the agent or entity designing this recursive strategy whose complexity far exceeds that of Dr. Behe’s macromolecular assemblies which prompted a mathematical analysis by Dr. Dembsky of the probability of such assemblies to self-configure as guided by Darwinian principles. Everybody knows how Darwinism fared when explaining such lesser specified complexities.

Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq. Jan 2006, Deltona Lakes, Florida





[1] Iacoboni M, Molnar-Szakacs I, Gallese V, Buccino G, Mazziotta JC, et al. (2005) Grasping the Intentions of Others with One's Own Mirror Neuron System. PLoS Biol 3(3): e79.

[2] Ramachandran, V.S., "Mirror Neurons and imitation learning as the driving force behind "the great leap forward" in human evolution", Edge, no. 69, May 29, 2000.

[3] Altschuler, E., Pineda, J., and Ramachandran, V.S.,Abstracts of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, 2000.

[4] WJ Freeman, LJ Rogers - International Journal of Bifurcation & Chaos, 2003 –

[5] WJ Freeman, R Kozma, PJ Werbos - BioSystems, 2000 –

[6] JC Principe, VG Tavares, JG Harris, WJ Freeman - Proceedings of the IEEE, 2001 –

[7] WJ Freeman - Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1999 –

[8] WJ Freeman – Behavioral and Brain Science, Berkely U. He discusses local and global interactivity and the role of  ‘mesoscopic’ elements in Stochastic Chaos dynamics.


(Artwork makes the fleeting immanent join hands with the eternal transcendental)






         A brand new 21st. century has, all of a sudden, dawned upon us. When we hopefully look back at the ledger in contemplation of our harvest for the past millennium we feel deceived that we put all our stock in the scientific methodology account, that we acted in utter disregard for centuries of accumulated experience regarding the limitations of rationality in solving the essential problems of existence. How can any objective thinker ignore the self-evident fact that non-rational forces lurk at the foundation of all creativity and of reality itself? The past 20th. century has been mired by the blinding spotlight of the pre-Socratic neo-Apollonian forces of logical order, as exemplified by the mind-boggling technological advances witnessed. Meanwhile, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and the existentialist warning caveats are faintly heard as a whisper coming from the far away desert of ‘oblivia’. But, almost three years into the new millennium, it is becoming increasingly evident that logic has turned the tables on man! The quest for knowledge, that noble human endeavor, is becoming justified only in so far as it serves the interests of that very life that made it possible, first things first! We certainly need not gyrate 180 degrees and turn our backs to the panoply of accumulated logical representations of existential reality, be they the linguistic, anthropocentric metaphors / metonyms of our models, systems or other ‘universal constants’. All we have to do is to always keep in mind two things: that their truth value is contingent upon the reliability and constancy of their source of origin and the general, higher life purpose they must serve to justify their presence. Once we apprehend, through deep introspection, and ponder about the hierarchical positions of life itself vis a vis the fruits of its living activity is that we can focus on the arbitrariness of human experience. Our ‘truths’ ultimately result in convenient self-serving conventions / strategies driven by an unconscious urge for biological-psychic-social (bps) survival in our environmental niche. Repose, security and consistency are optimized to guarantee perpetuation of the human species by reproductive activity as the ultimate principle of the universe. Fichte, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and many others keep reminding us, across centuries of experience, that bps activity is “..a mindless, aimless, non-rational urge at the foundation of all of our instinctual drives, and at the foundational being of everything there is..” in the physical world we are integral part of.


We need not and we know not, what guides human activity in its compulsive and inevitable search of strategies for its own perpetuation but we suspect the answer is hidden, perhaps irretrievably so, inside his ‘irrational’, non-logical world. We know that the continuation of universal life (see Insensible Life, Telicom 1999) beyond conception, whether comfortably floating inside the womb or as a newborn on your nursing mother’s lap, is all about multimodal sensations all about you. From then on the ascent of man is predicated on how successfully the genetic baggage he brings along copes with the changing dynamics of the ecological niche he did not choose to survive on. It all starts with an original encounter with that apparent labyrinth of sense phenomena in the external physical world of objects, their attributes and relational events. We have described how, with the help of his inherited endowment (amygdaloid complex), he starts –early on- to learn about his future cultural abode as translated by nursing mother’s baby talk and facial expressions. Soon thereafter his proto-linguistic organ (temporal cortex, amygdale, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex) become readied to transform the protective reflex life into a more sophisticated interactivity with the external chaotic world of sensations out there, beyond mother’s lap. Sense receptors become selective, only that portion of reality with survival value need accessing the brain. Then a small fraction of that reality converges into our sense receptors that transform the university of chaotic sensations first into monadic action potentials which are then funneled into the rest of the brain to be transformed, as time goes on, into richer quality perceptions which finally all emerge as part of a concept adapted to the circumstantial event of pertinence. The latter will thereafter guide the execution of adaptive survival strategies, a linguistic narrative or a memory thereof, not necessarily in that order. We have described these events in previous writings. Biological survival is getting a good footing on life which guarantees later on a viable reproductive transfer to succeeding generations. Is that all there is to human life? Except for the concept formation activity and its expression as a narrative language of communication, how is life different from that of other subhuman species?


What we really do not know is what happens with that portion of the outer world intuition (objective physical reality) that either the sense receptors excluded or, if not, could not find its way into a logical sequential narrative or a sequence of adaptive motor response activity? What happened to that portion not processed by the logical, ‘talking brain’ Turing machine? Is it there in the brain?, if so, how do we know it? Is that all there is to existence, the eternal changing of hats from homo-sapiens to homo faber? How does artwork fit into that dyadic view of existence?




         The transition sensation (object) perception concept we just described is by and large a unidirectional vector describing ‘a grosso modo’ how we form (and store) mental ideas (ideal objects) about physical objects in the environment in their absence. We have described how may sense-phenomenal consciousness work as a bio-psycho-sociological (bps) survival strategy ( ), and more recently, how free will may, when guided by the ‘talking brain’, may also become just another more sophisticated survival strategy ( ). This has been the ‘easy’ part in the development of the bps model because, in principle, their fundamental tenets can be arguably reduced eventually to sentential or symbolic language and translated into a complex artificial intelligence computer program sans qualia. What is not so easy is to understand, least to explain!, is the role and bps importance –if any- of the non-logical, non-linear, irrational part of the brain, the one we will attribute with the generation of aesthetic activity. We believe that the aesthetic object provides an insight into the workings of that irrational aspect of existence. Art expression, in its many manifestations as the traditional fine arts of music, architecture, sculpture, painting or poetry, becomes amenable to our analysis if we premise its justification as the result of an inevitable human urge to communicate universals, that which gets lost in the day to day, crisis to crisis logical business of adaptive survival in the ecological niche. Is art practical, common, does it have a bps survival value? If not, what is it then good for, pleasurable delight only? We don’t know and wish to learn more about this unique human activity.

We suspect the aesthetic object is intimately related to the important human subject physical object reciprocal temporal relation, now and always.  This intuition may result difficult to assimilate for a physicalist frame of mind whose parishioners may not have the required objectivity to see through and rise above the ordinary world of objects in the space-time domain. It is never easy to wear a scientific hat and simultaneously state that there is no reason in the world why existential reality should be exclusively translated into scientific, mechanical and causal terminology. Is that all there is to life? If that is the conclusion of the reader, he should stop here and continue reading elsewhere with his hard-science horse blinders because the worst blind wishes not to see! For there is yet another aspect about the truth of existence not present in the outer spatio-temporal domain construct and which requires for its efficient apprehension the kind of epistemological sensitivity to establish a communion with aesthetic, analogical, expressive and metaphorical entities for their proper discernment.


         Any good objective observer of human life in the metropolis is justifiably mesmerized by the recent advances in the biomedical and quantum mechanical fields of research endeavor. Not as obvious to the researcher is the discernment of a bps pattern seen as an inevitable human social behavior across history, one that finds man trying to conquer the secrets of his physical environment of his own internal environment the resources of other humans. According to philosopher Adorno, such consistent historical behavior is patognomonic of an irrational fear of the unknown as expressed in his assertion: “Enlightenment is mythical fear radicalized". We may know what we all carry in the genetic baggage of conception but we don’t know in what airport we are going to land at birth. "Humans believe themselves free of fear when there is no longer anything unknown.”, he continued. There are two ways to de-mythologize the content of our empirical, physical world of sensations, the logical approach of scientific methodology that brings order according to the resolution of our sense organs our combinatorial brain capacities to categorize and sort out the contents of our brain data-base; the other way reckons with the other world of sensations outside and their inside equivalents in our heads, those that remain un-expressed by the talking, logical brain processor? Is it because of their lack of survival adaptive value?  Is bps survival all that is important to the human species? What about spiritual survival? What is that?, the materialist would undoubtedly choreograph! The answer is an easy one, unless you are in denial about your extra-physical experiences, if you had none.., you don’t know what you are missing!


         Unfortunately for those lacking an open mind, not many people inside our global economy are able to enjoy the state of mind tranquility that propitiates the aesthetic perception in its full dimension, either because of the syndrome of cultural attention deficit disorder or that primitive urge for the vicarious enjoyment of the ubiquitous virtual violence in TV. In reality, it takes more abstract intellectual prowess to attain and maintain a state of pure aesthetic perception (not measurable in IQ tests!) to access and transform the universality of concepts into expressible art form. The artist processing sequence is the reverse vector of subject object relation found in the viewer. The artist transforms the spatio-temporal domain of the empirical world into the mind’s ideal object(s) domain guiding the execution of the motor transduction that creates the artwork object.

         For those bored physicalists that still remain reading this far, it is fitting to underline the fact that, in our opinion, the work of artist, while attempting to express an universal predicate quale (love, beauty, pain, etc.) embodied in his chosen object(s) his artwork also represents simultaneously an embodiment of the quintessence of his emotional life. We try real hard as scientists to describe and explain phenomenal consciousness (qualia), the artist does the next best, for those able to translate the message. The artistic inspiration describes a process by which the bps existential content undergoes a depuration, a de-individualization until what remains is no longer the artistic narrative of Joe Blow’s individual pathos, but that of the universality of men, an aesthetic phenomenal consciousness akin to the high order metaphysical abstraction attained by cosmologists during their contemplation of infinite progressions.

         The antecedent expresses the content of the most successful artistic expression, the pure form, the universal of all times in the context of real time, that belonging to the existential circumstances of the artist. As philosopher Ortega used to say, “man is both him and his circumstance”.

In the real world of galleries and symphony halls we can obviously distinguish also what we may call a ‘committed’ art where content undergoes only a partial purification and form takes second place to an intellectual content, usually political in nature. This in an obvious conflict between the Apollonian universal and the Dionysian now and here, the pre-Socratic logic and modern irrational, emotional mind sets, as exploited by Hegel and Marx, forcing art, in our opinion, to lose its autonomy forever. This fact of political history ties aesthetics to the social component (s) of the bps model in that it provides an empirical handle (emotions) to penetrate logically into the structure of ‘committed’ art. But, in addition, this historical turn of events brings serious problems to the classical view of art as a reservoir of universal truth-value contents. Whose truth, we now ask? We arbitrarily chose to call it an average truth in a moment in history, a delimited universal of sorts. In this respect, when comparing the spontaneous creation of a work of art to the deliberate act of studiously creating a mathematical or physical model, we consider the truth content in artistic expressions as more reliable accounts of cultural anthropology and history than the corresponding textual scientific literature accounts, however dialectical, discursive, graphical, acoustical or non-propositional the former may tend to be. The real challenge to the art critic or historian is never an easy one, he must be able to link the universality of the object (artwork) represented to the transient flux dynamics of the socio-historical context in which the artwork finds itself. Form and content have their independent dialectics. Bps equilibrium is the only invariant in this existential scenario. The net result will always be that aesthetics is out of phase with the ongoing social conventions yet, paradoxically, its most reliable hallmark and thus its magnetic appeal to the fine human intellect, like telling us “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. The eternal object and the transitory subject joining hands in one instant in time, always contrasting the existential “is” with the utopic “should be” and creating the illusion they can ever coincide. The essence of life and consciousness is change; the challenge of the artist is to identify the form the universal entity of interest must assume to harmonize with the ongoing position of the existential kaleidoscope.  A compromise way of finding an optimal relationship of the given genetic past at birth (b) with the social future (s) in the present psychic existence (p). The studious must not lose sight of the fact that artwork is epistemology’s representational way of providing transitory meaning  to the adaptive efforts universals (joy, sorrow, anger, frustration, etc.) display in expressing their content during various stages of history, ranging in form from the sketches inside primeval caverns to Andy Warhol’s decorated boxes in the middle of contemporary New York City. Art is choreographed consciousness! In a very special way, art is a metaphor expressing man’s inexorable search for his identity, origins and destiny, i.e., his essence in the context of his existence as Heidegger would put it (see also ).

         To the extent that aesthetics transcend the sensory experience to become amalgamated with the social context in which it presently exists, it becomes part and parcel of the Kantian transcendental aesthetics, a way of correlating the experience into the totality of knowledge of the artist initially and the viewer at the museum later on. As we outlined elsewhere (Concatenation of Different Levels of Cognitive Processing, Telicom 2002), the objects, their attributes and their dynamic interactions in the contextual background, as an integrated sum of sensations get coordinated from an external 4-d manifold into a perceptual brain analog isomorph. In a subsequent stage the percept evolves into a concept according to its match with other categories of thought. To differentiate this parallel, non-linear, non-propositional processing from the classical sequential Turing processing in the ‘talking brain’ module we’d like to call it ‘transcendental logic’. How this analog representation at the occipito-parietal cortex (V1 to V5) becomes accessed by other relevant consumer systems, e.g., limbic, amygdaloidal, hippocampal & prefrontal during the formation of the mental image is unknown and it is not clear at present whether it precedes and guides the elaboration of the adaptive motor response (basal ganglia, cerebellum, premotor, area 4) or is contemporaneous with the motor activity. Same tandem processing can be described for any of the sense modality sensations, whether taste, odor, sound, kinesthesia, temperature gradient or even a code-phenomenal memory initiating the transition percept concept inside the brain. This way the various elements of the blooming apple tree in the yard get grouped and integrated to the wet-ware apple tree analog isomorph inside the brain for identification purposes before new codelettes are added as the process advances into the form of a perception as we explained before. (Phenomenal Consciousness as a Survival Strategy, Telicom 2003). This description constitutes the transition phenomenology epistemology, what makes knowledge to happen. The net result is that nature’s chaos of sensations become transformed into a concept, ready to be articulated as a poem, a painting, a symphony or a performance, all with a thrust of intentionality, semantic content, purpose and action. It is now the role of the viewer at the museum to differentiate this marvel of unit integration creation presented to his senses. For the viewer artwork intuition is now subject to a reverse processing, one of association by contiguity in 4-d space-time, similarity, recency, frequency, intensity and above all, by the meaning the scene has as it individuates into the viewer. We believe that the artist unconsciously selects, from a universe of sense modalities present in the external object, those best suited to become integrated into the concept he has in mind to express. Out of a myriad of colors, shapes, animations, etc., only those fitting the mind mold get access to the perceptual or conceptual stage probably by selective inhibition of attention, as mediated by reticular activating system (ras). Surprisingly, the brain determines the content of physical reality! For the artist the external world intuition ends with the construction of the concept to be expressed; for the artwork viewer the process is reversed, a deconstruction. When both artist and viewer share the same culture, integration = differentiation. For viewers of dissimilar cultural backgrounds the challenge of the author is to preserve the universal content of the artwork unmasked by the variant elements of context, the form may change but not the its universal semantics.

         At this point it is important to realize how the logical brain imposes a-priori modes of perception to organize and provide meaning to sensations coming in from sense receptors. Reality is in the brain, not the scenery. Our brain activity has invented the concept of dimensionality to be able to catalogue all modes of sensations; they will now exist in time (a measure of the object’s  change in attributes) or in a volumetric space (location). Therefore we do not find an explicit demonstration of anything exceeding 4-d space; hyperspace remains a concept to be inferred as Kaluza-Klein work demonstrates. This way the brain controls the outer world content, as it molds the sensations originating therefrom into the universality of space-time structure. We have discussed in previous publications how a ‘proto-linguistic organ’ (plo) may incorporate audio-visual and other modality codelettes of communication into an integrated algorithm amenable to generate a concept, a thought or a memory readily accessible from a language consumer system. Unfortunately we have not developed the equivalent of a generative grammar to guide the transition sensation perception concept (art). This order and unity is neither to be found in the external object or its functional states, it is the human mind and intellect that imposes order and unity, something John Locke could not apprehend when he wrongly sentenced: “There is nothing in the intellect except what was first in the senses.” The modern equivalent would be to explain qualia exclusively on the basis of neurotransmitter activity, as suggested by recent observations on drug-induced hallucinatory states. It has even been suggested the co-existence of two qualitatively different conscious states from EEG data (Fred Travis, “Beyond Ordinary Consciousness”). We would be blind and deaf to audio-visual sensations unless there is in place beforehand a concept (algorithm) to assign them a semantic content. Things in nature cause the generation of conceptual thoughts  and the latter give meaning to the former. Science and metaphysics are thereby inseparable, something the staunch physicalist wishes not to admit, a myopia by adoption! The natural world of our experience is a mind manufactured article! We have a tendency to blame the poor resolution of our sense receptors for not being able to capture the totality of attributes of the ‘thing in itself’, the Kantian ‘noumena’. The artist’s mind compensates by making a representation in the form of a ‘meta noumena’ essence by preserving the universality negated to ordinary sense experience or to the logic mind processors, creating in the process a special transcendental dialectic.

Professionals of the hard sciences tend to look down upon artists, especially in HiQ societies. Perhaps they do not realize that, as scientists, they can never work hands on, directly, with the invisible, inaudible ‘things’ their rigged instrument transducers digitally or analogically represent. Their claim to have subdued and tamed nature by ‘their direct’ measurement and analysis is unwarranted. All too frequent, when they try to extend their grasp beyond the appearance of things, they free-fall in a vacuum of antinomies, as when trying to explain infinite regressions or progressions, the ontology of consciousness or first causes. The artist does not have such problems, for time and space do not exist out there in the natural world of his intuitions except as an unconsciously imposed structure by his brain to experience and extract the semantic value therein hidden. The ‘meta-noumenal’ essence is nothing less than the existential ontology of the object, another way of expressing its circumstantial semantic content, now and later on, a mind’s view of ‘objective’ reality.

When we try to apply the same analysis to theological intuitions or alleged revelations claimed by people of faith we come to the interesting conclusion that the absolute truth of theology, just like that of the constitution of matter in the hard sciences, can not ever be demonstrated by theoretical logic and paralogisms appear as frequent as antinomies when we stubbornly try. It could well be that, just like our minds imposes a logical structure on objective reality -as such or as represented in memory- we can make sense of its presence by linguistic sequential or artistic non-linear , non-propositional processing exclusively. When we filter the content of non-objective reality, as experienced in a revelation, there is no alternate known way of processing other than a logically mediated narrative or artwork. Another possibility is that, like the ‘noumena’ of the physical object,  the ontology of theological entities are not accessible to available brain logic filters for processing, we have not even identified the sense or non-sense receptor that initiates the process! A reasonable compromise might be to conclude that religion may rest safer on the foundations of the practical reason of the moral sense than the logic of the theoretical reason.



         Art has been equated with civilization’s storehouse of felt values. It is not an exaggeration to say that, of all human endeavors, art resists best the passage of time. Not a big surprise either because some elements of the human experience are invariant regardless of how cleverly its form may seem to change when finding its expression in the context of concomitant historical existence. When one takes a brief look at the salient moments of recorded western history, whether in Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment, Baroque, Classics, Romantics or post Modernists, there is one common denominator, man’s psychic world of reality as manifested in his observable and recorded behavior. Man has always felt desires (appetites, impulses, instincts), expressed emotions (ambition, spirit, courage) and cultivate knowledge (thought, intellect, reason) all by a combination of uncontrollable strategies that make him acquisitive, jealous, erotic or combative, as skillfully exploited in the narrative gems of Shakespeare, Goethe and Dante, among others. Man’s psychic like is the invariant, the universal as it finds a voice in an ever changing Heraclitean scenario of history. It would seem as if his sense of enjoyment of his inalienable right to be free tempers and determines the content of the psychic expression. Thus we can contrast, e.g., Platonic art exalting order, control at the expense of liberty, the very soul of art. Yet Plato is a dreamer with a goodly endowment of fervor, passion and ‘push genes’, the cultural revolutionary that gave birth to The Republic. Aristotle enjoyed the order that Plato, the Athenian hot blood, had to work for, and his Macedonian psychic calm gave him more leisure to ponder on aesthetics to realize it springs from a natural impulse and craving for an emotional expression of what the external social restraints and circumstances mean to man internally. But always stressing that those feelings, while providing the harmonies and sequences (form), was not enough, for it needed the intellect to guide the structure and development, the backbone unity of the finished work. Thus art is a sublimation of social energies of restraint, a form of purification by an intellectually guided catharsis. Yet we do not see yet in Aristoteles the clashes of  inner conflicts and personalities we see in the tragedies when the socio-political scenery was rapidly changing.


         It is of historical interest that France and England, both willing heirs of the Greek tradition produced pragmatism in England (Bacon, Hume, Locke, Berkeley) and,  in France, a period of Enlightenment lead by no other than the raucous 18th. century Voltaire, “a creature of air and flame!, the most excitable man that ever lived! The phlegmatic Hume would say of artwork: “If reason is against man, he will turn against reason.” Voltaire’s version of same would be: “Dialectic is the art of proving anything and believing nothing.” Rousseau would preach in exaltation of instinct and feeling above intellect and reason, “Education makes man clever, not good.” (La Nouvelle Heloise). These two examples show same cultural background inheritance as perceived by the Gallic and Anglo-Saxon perspective.


         Finally we will mention briefly one of the most prolific historical hiatuses in art expression, the relatively short Romantic period, and how it was impacted by the Germanic perspective by contrast. In plain 19th. century we seem to have returned to late Greece with Nietzsche and his disdain for the rational, pre-Socratic influence in art. (Thus Spake Zarathustra). Schopenhauer, Nietzsche’s mentor toed the same line. One could fill volumes talking about this period whose unquestionable leader was France who had the power and intellectual sensibilities to execute the virtual animation of the image the motionless effort of the Germans had perfectly conceived in their minds earlier.


In this author’s opinion, the prevailing western intellectual and artistic trend during the new 21st. century will have its roots in the emerging European Union while deeply influenced by Asian philosophies percolating in through the smaller Indo-European member republics. It all started before with Kant of Scottish and German descent who nicely balances the intellectual with the non-rational forces. His critique of pure and practical reason masterpieces have inspired this bps model; his life theme summarized his vision of all of reality which we willingly incorporate by adoption; he was committed to save religion from reason and the latter from skepticism.


If architecture is, as Goethe conceived it,  “frozen music” , plastic arts symmetry is static rhythm, dance is an animated eulogy to freedom, color is the beauty encasement of form, then aesthetics, in general, is the choreography of a liberated consciousness.


                            Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra

                                      Deltona Lakes, Florida Spring 2003






(Man finds himself trapped inside interacting genetic, psychological and social field forces beyond his effective control. As he drifts afloat inside an n-dimensional hyperspace bubble, existence becomes an ongoing effort to control such forces to gain freedom). Biopsychosociology 1987






         The brain is not about itself, as any un-biased neurologist will tell you after performing a skin pinprick test in a blindfolded patient. No patient has ever pointed to the brain as the site of pain sensation. The brain’s role is to guarantee the integrity of the body’s homeostatic equilibrium in a hyper-complex hierarchically ordered chaos, including the unity of self, as it confronts the ever-present contingencies of the ecological niche. We have discussed elsewhere the role of sense-phenomenal consciousness as a basically inherited strategy to defend against life-threatening situations. Now we address the question, once life-protected, “then what”? as part of our evolving bio-psycho-social (bps) model of consciousness. The answer is found in analyzing how the same brain maintains the unity of ‘self’ in the decision-making process. The obvious question is to ask how can a physical brain, whose responses are inexorably controlled by deterministic physical laws, can cope with novel contingencies where there is no genetic or social memory database available for referencing? Do we need to draw upon indeterminate mind resources to guide the stereotype responses of the physical brain machinery? If so, how do we exercise that ‘free will’? Is the mind an external, independent non-physical causal agent guiding the brain in the execution of adaptive responses? But how does the physical domain communicate with the non-physical, or are they both different states of the same domain, or is it better to give up any search for an answer? We take for granted that rational solutions are logical, conscious and adaptive. Our analysis shows that whereas our ‘talking brain’ Turing component may process sensory, body proper, emotional and memory input linearly, logically and rationally, the responses are not always conscious and adaptive, for the logic Turing machine is biased exclusively for bps survival strategies based on the maintenance of biological integrity, unity of self before the novelty environmental stimulus. Any bps premises lacking truth-value and fed into the ‘talking brain’ processor will be handled stereotypically. This deterministic imponderable cannot answer the special cases of heroism or altruism, deliberate intentional actions against self bps interest. Can the mind act independently, answering to a ‘higher’ call and override the brain computations? We will dissect, you take notes! J

The central problem of ‘free will’ is to ascertain whether humans truly act with freedom or are determined by genetic, psychic or social forces beyond their effective control. The answer has in addition important societal implications since responsible behavior guidelines can only be legally enforced on a premise of human free agency. This analysis can take us along a wide spectrum of relevant considerations ranging in scope from moral theology to quantum indeterminacy. Whatever the level of organization we examine we usually take for granted that all that happens is caused by antecedent events and circumstances, the past determines the future. Thus, should anytime in the future be thereby fixed and unique? Any degree of certainty will require that we trace a prime mover (if any) in an infinite regression or track an ultimate station in an infinite progression, not to mention keeping track of all intervening factors in the bi-directional vector. We can also continue walking through history along the circumference of an ever-widening circle, like oxen around the grinding millstone. Things like pre-destination, God or intelligent design immediately pops up in our minds. At the same time, we also take for granted that all human acts are ultimately rational events involving free choices and agency. But when the choices take into account intervening variables such as the higher values of moral responsibility, character traits, deeper self considerations, etc. we settle for a Kantian type of ‘practical freedom’. The latter is not to be confused with the metaphysical ‘incompatibilist’ libertarianism which naively assumes that humans are free and responsible and that the past may not determine the future, all in an effort to rationalize a subjacent, contingent existentialism (Epicureanism?) continuously referencing the emerging quantum theory indeterminism as a guiding north pole. In a cosmological scale, determinists view all events or global state of affairs as behaving according to Newtonian / Laplace laws and thus, for every event, there exists a sufficient cause and no chance events are possible, only our ability to cope with the resolution of the chance event measurement or the number of variables involved. The leading edge of this approach is represented by logical determinism, which bases historical order on the truth-value of all propositions about the future; see Chris Langan’s “The Art of Knowing”, Mega Press, 2002.

         The un-articulated premise of all hues of determinism is that free will is an illusion pertaining human choices and actions. This analysis is the subject of this presentation; the conclusions belong to the reader. Any possible conclusion will have to address the crucial question of how our beliefs, desires, and intentions are able to exercise its causally efficient powers in a world that is fundamentally physical? The possibility of a human agency evidently requires that our non-physical mental states can cause the physical brain to effect appropriate, timely and adaptive solutions when faced with an environmental milieu challenge. The apparent threat that determinism poses to free will is just one of the challenges to explain, how may physical non-physical domains become interactive is a different challenge altogether. Occam’s razor heuristic rule will guide our effort to explain what may not have an explanation but we must try to resist being carried away in our perambulations. In so doing we will try real hard not to confuse ontology with epistemology, the territory with the map, the thing with its representation, a real challenge at times if we consider that human knowledge presupposes a possibility of mental causation. Sense-phenomenal perception becomes code-phenomenal experience and knowledge. In a previous publication ( Phenomenal Consciousness) we analyzed the ‘phenomenal’ (quale) aspect of consciousness as a survival strategy to deal more with biological life-threatening contingencies and laid the foundations for an attempt to explain to ourselves the ‘intentional’ aspect of consciousness which inevitably must start with a discussion free will, the putative executor of intentionality, unless we may consider intentional consciousness as a passive by product devoid of causal efficiency, a serious consideration on its own. What follows may be considered an extension of those initial foundations.




         We would like to launch immediately into the arguments for or against human mental causation but, being the bio-medical and chemical sciences special subsets of the set of hard physical sciences, we must first establish the basic concepts of physical determinism. First, the entities under analysis must have well defined coordinates in space-time or hyperspace and a defined state plus a set of natural laws of universal application; together they define the deterministic domain where logical entailment becomes mathematically possible. This is the goal behind all ‘theories of everything’ (TOE). The assimilation of quantum mechanical theories and / or chaos theories into TOE’s is a questionable strategy until their assumed indeterminism is successfully challenged, see Bohmian quantum theories (configuration of a system of particles evolves via a deterministic motion associated with the wave function). Two ‘deterministic’ but chaotic systems with identical initial states will evolve over a long period of time into radically unpredictable random or stochastic process but will have, within a short time span, a sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Chaotic dynamic systems may have a sensitive dependence on initial conditions but may still behave in an unpredictable and non-computable fashion (Kolmogorov-randomnicity), making it difficult to evaluate if the chaotic system may be governed by underlying deterministic laws. A moment’s glimpse at the immediate post crash scenario at the Twin Towers in 9/11 and Grand Contrail Station in NY during peak rush hours show chaos, but only the latter event is governed by an underlying predictable pattern. This is a real ghost behind all quantum mechanical interpretations of human consciousness at the micro level where stochastic indeterminacy (so called Cauchy threshold) may rule out repeatability of measurements. What if there is no real causation at the microphysical level? (standard interpretation of quantum theory claims the existence of a-causal events, e.g. radioactive decay).

         One of the hot issues in mental causation, as we will see below, is the assumed asymmetry in causation. The impacting flying stone can cause the impacted glass to break (or the brain generate a thought) but not the other way around. This has the effect of fixing the past irreversibly. But since there is no known natural law conferring any past event a special ontology denied the present or future states, non-physical mental causal efficacy over the physical brain is still defended albeit using epistemological, non-ontological arguments as we will see discussed below under non-reductive supervenience, a most provocative analysis.


         Perhaps it is appropriate, at this juncture, to make a distinction of qualitative transitions between levels (domains), e.g., physical brain non-physical mind, and qualitative transitions between orders (states) inside same domain, e.g., chemical activation of neuro-transmitter in the physical brain (inactive active). This will become an important distinction later when arguing for a mental event as being arguably a manifestation of an order transition in ‘property dualism’.


         This brief preview of the mental causation debate notwithstanding, it is difficult to escape the intuitive attraction of physical determinism. After all, the natural objects and events we daily experience in their dynamic interaction (everything that’s out there) at a given time are governed by universal laws all of which are for the most part explainable and predictable and everything that is, is simultaneously the effect of an antecedent state and the cause of the state that follows. The psychological comfort that stems from knowing that within your ecological niche, subject to all known and unknown forces of nature, we can predict the position of macro and micro objects at any given instant with certainty once the relevant data is subjected to the rigor of well established laws of nature. This is the dream world of existence inside the grip and comfort of the natural sciences security blanket (Newton / Laplace space-time framework). However, for those able to fight the threat of the media-imposed attention deficit syndrome and escape into the reflexive crowd of solitude, we suspect there is more to it than meets the eye. Causation entails more than a logical cause effect relationship, some physical parameters under the laws of conservation of energy, momentum or other quantities. It may turn out that causation only applies to the microphysical domain, leaving higher-level, downward causation as a convenient heuristic abstraction removed from reality laden with questionable pedagogical value. There is no identity relation, realization is an asymmetrical relation, and the mental is an upward realization by the physical brain, not vice versa. The best compromise is to establish a relation of asymmetric deterministic dependence between the two domains; a pattern of systematic covariance between the two families of properties, a natural supervenience where every mental property has a physical base that guarantees its instantiation, and without such a physical base, a mental property cannot be instantiated. Perhaps supervenience is best seen as a phenomenological relation and not as a reductive, logical, metaphysical, causal relation. This would leave room to accommodate dualistic ontologies like epiphenomenalism. A further development of a sophisticated theory of supervenience may provide a suitable template to accommodate an explanation for any relation between higher-level properties and underlying lower-level properties down to the quantum level of organization, a mereological relation of sorts where the properties of wholes are determined by the underlying properties and relations of their constitutive parts, reviving Democritus via Bertrand Russell.

To understand the concept of ‘supervenience’ in the context of human free will, the latter has to be conceived as a proper instrument of a preceding ability to act or not; if denied, as when goal-directed activities are driven by underlying appetites or instincts, the inevitability of these agents denies the presence of free will. Implied here is their overwhelming effect of canceling out any consideration for the moral implications of the actions, any capacity to reflect on possible alternatives or their long-term negative consequences. The derived consequences for penal law would be devastating!

At this point we part company with the classical when, contrary to ongoing theories about the rationality of human actions, we find that these forces are rational, albeit unconsciously driven to preserve the biological integrity of the actor as a first order survival imperative. In this respect ‘free will’, thus conceived becomes a survival strategy. Judgments based on considered moral / ethical valuations are not as compelling and require either deliberate ethical training or divine inspiration, they do not become naturally endowed except in isolated cases of ‘helden leben’ as we see in the realization of heroic or altruistic acts. Consequently, the Thomistic ‘rational appetite’ of medieval times may be predicated on a misconception of the natural man, the same error Rousseau made when he defended his “Social Contract”. To us, it is self-evident that man, left to himself, in a state of primeval innocence, will not naturally be inclined to pursue social goals ordered to the most general goal of goodness. His inherited Turing logical brain has its survival priorities, self-preservation and reproduction. Deliberate ethical education and /or divine inspiration will hold the survival urge in check and channel his energies by sublimation. The biological survival imperative is controlled by the rational brain even at the expense of possible confabulations ‘contra natura’. See Feinberg’s “Altered Egos”, Oxford U. Press, 2001. It is the spiritual mind that saves man from himself and improves the social quality of the surviving species, ‘contra natura’! Perhaps true freedom of the will involves liberation from the unconscious rational tyranny of base desires and a deliberate acquisition of moral / ethical counterbalances for the Good of all, not for the natural pristine individual. Free choice thus becomes, in our view, an inspired activity involving both our inherited rational volitional capacities and an acquired counter-balancing concern for the common societal good. This way understood, it consists in both intellectual judgment above ‘survival rationality’ and an active commitment to the common good of all. Thus conceived, the ‘true intellect’ becomes the ultimate determinant of free choices.

The real intellectual effort involved in assigning new priorities above the primeval inherited hierarchy is not to deny the presence and demands of appetites and passions but to superimpose the greater good according to a new conception of nature resting on beliefs transcending the lower values of mere biological viability in favor of the higher value of social viability in harmony with the old natural, inherited demands for species survival. We need to develop further our capacities to reflect on our primitive appetites and new societal beliefs and be able to formulate new harmonizing judgments concerning them.

         The new neurological data on logical confabulation by the brain was not even suspected by Descartes in his defense of radical free will, when he sentenced that “it can never be constrained” or Sartre’s spirited defense of existential absolute freedom, both the product of ‘conscious’ choices where ‘reason’ moved the execution of the adaptive response in one direction. But Sartre’s existential stance already recognized the conflict between the implicit genetic memory and the acquired social memory when recognizing one's duty for long-term social interest compete with a strong desire for a short-term personal good. His views were inspired by his radical conception of human beings as lacking any kind of positive nature. The undeveloped Cartesian idea, matured by Sartre as expressed in his dictum that men “are not free to cease being free” are indications of the reflex nature of ‘free will’ was the rule not the exception. But if the exercise of free will is, by all claims, the quintessential manifestation of human rationality, then the new concept of freedom becomes the ability to counter or influence the site of that rational activity, the brain! Can the ethical / morally inspired non-physical mind control or influence the physical brain? How is any one to bridge the domain gap?

         Whoever accepts the challenge of bridging the ‘explanatory gap’ must reckon with at least four well-established physical principles: causal closure of the physical domain, causal exclusion, explanatory exclusion and macro-level causal sequence.

The argument for causal closure of the physical domain is a refutation of the Cartesian interactionist dualism, which places the lower level physical brain (B), and the higher-level nonphysical mind (M) events into a single, common causal chain. It is a restatement of the fact that every attempt to trace the causal antecedents or posterity of physical events you will always remain within the physical domain. Interestingly in this respect, most scientists hold the illusion that DNA instantiates the phenomenon of life into the physical domain, or phrased differently, life supervenes on the physical DNA. However, nobody has ever explained how! Besides the bio-medical sciences, we can think of examples in the other special science, chemistry, where causal closure becomes argumentative. The easy way out for the physicalists is to say that as long as the transition reactants products, one remains in the physical domain and the transition is from one ‘order’ to another, not from one ‘level’ to another. But life is much more than a predictable product of reactions involving the polydeoxy ribonucleotide polymer DNA!

The causal exclusion principle argues that all events have a single complete and independent cause. This assertion is predicated on the truth of the previous principle of causal closure in the physical domain, excluding ab initio Cartesian ‘dualism’ in its various manifestations as substance / property dualism or epiphenomenalism. The principle of explanatory exclusion is a small variation of causal exclusion and states that no event can be given more than one complete and independent explanation, about causality or other event, as long as it happens within the physical domain. Overdetermination is the term used to challenge the principle of causal exclusion when more than one cause can give the same effect, e.g., an analgesic baby delivery effect can be caused by a caudal nerve block or general anesthesia.

The argument for macro-level causal sequence was one of the strong pillars of the natural sciences allowing for logico-mathematical inductive / deductive analysis and conclusions about the natural world. Ever since quantum mechanical and chaos theory challenged relativity at the quantum micro level (Planck’s dimensions) the physical world has been turned upside down in the search for the elusive ontology of the ‘thing in itself’, deep inside particle physics where phenomena of non-locality, zero gravity virtual matter, hyperspace and tachyons are invoked as germane to the eventual elucidation of the riddle of consciousness.

Ever since mathematician turned philosopher Chalmers argued logically for the impossibility of ever explaining the mind using scientific physical language (“explanatory gap” across domains, see David Chalmers, Oxford Press, 1996) most neuro-philosophers have gone in denial about the existence of the mind. Chalmers found that, absent logical supervenience of the mind on the brain, one could live with some type of ‘natural supervenience’ essentially giving up on any possibility of a reduction of the non-physical mind into the structures of the physical world the brain wet-ware is part of. This because any scientific explanation of the higher-level mind must show how the lower-level brain facts logically entail that to be explained. It means that causal powers of mental properties can only be traced to those of their physical realizers, and there are no known new causal powers brought into the natural world by mental properties. As it applies to the problem under consideration, it is a mathematical logic hope to explain how a given domain M(ind) supervenes on another B(rain), a metaphysical thesis about an empirically verifiable existing dependency relation between the two domains. It is silent about the realizability of Nagel’s bi-conditional, inter-theoretic laws to explain the dependency relation or suggestions to enable us to formulate relevant explanations, reductions, or definitions. As we suggested in a previous publication, the self-organization model frontier may provide explanations for the emergence of novel properties and complex processes based on nonlinear dynamics, phase transitions, chaos theory, synergetics, etc., all consistent with the tenets of supervenience.


To escape the problem of the irreducibility of the mind to a physical construct, all kinds of models of consciousness have emerged, adopting natural ‘supervenience’ as a starting point, including our own. They all try, as well they should, to stay close to the physical principles enunciated above. Unfortunately, many confuse the ontological with the epistemological approach, the territory from the map representing or describing it. By definition, the problem of mental causation is a metaphysical problem, of showing HOW mental causation is possible, not whether it is possible. To illustrate, for biologist John Searle the causal overdetermination is just the result of a confusion about different levels of description; in so doing he abandoned the uncomfortable defense of ‘property dualism’ for the more popular physicalist stance by which mind becomes a chemically definable state (not level) of the physical brain but, not a word about the special chemistry, see his “Why I am not a Property Dualist”.

The leading edge in consciousness research is Korean Dr. Kim and his ‘non-reductive supervenience’, a physicalist middle ground compromise between two mutually exclusive propositions. He reasoned that both second-order properties and their first-order realizers are properties of the same entities and systems, i.e. are at the same level in the micro-macro hierarchy. Thus non-physical state of sleep or the quale of pain (or its relief) would qualify as second order properties of a first-order hypnotic chemical property and a first order analgesic property, respectively. Notice that the natural supervenience between the two orders remains in the physical domain, qualitatively different when applied to an inter-domain level transition.


         This clever conceptualization of the mental state (M) as a description of a second order state brings other problems with the tenets of physical determination. So conceived, M are multiple realizable by first order realizers and, arguably, they become causally heterogeneous. Multiple realizability of M properties imply that they are taken as functional properties, which can be effected (caused) by different first-order properties B, from neuronal action potentials, neurotransmitters, to AI computer discharges. Different procedures can produce the same analgesic quale end result in my arm, e.g., topical (nerve block), acupuncture or general anesthesia. This way, second-order mental properties M properties are generated over the first-order properties of B reacting to local Lidocaine or general ether or a needle puncture. These first order properties may be in turn caused by yet another set of properties, e.g., medicinal chemistry of Lidocaine, ether lipid solubility at blood-brain barrier, etc. At this point it would behoove us to notice that if we were to consider instead the first order properties of the natural brain analogues of these analgesics, e.g., endorphins and their metabolic congeners, their empirical and contingent properties and relations are controlled by well known kinetics (e.g., Michaelis-Menten), examples of causal / nomological relations qualitatively very different from those properties of the analgesic quale effect. Same holds for the hypnotic mental state properties in relation to the hypnotic agent or its congeners. Thus, the vector transition BM does not qualify for a reduction in any direction. We are not aware of either a logical or a nomological necessity; neither would Nagel’s bridge laws apply. M cannot be constructed or described as a second order functional property metaphysically contingent on its realizer B and thus is causally inert. Had functionalization of M properties been possible its success would be an epistemological issue of explanations, not a causally efficient ontological issue, for mental causation is an ontological, not an epistemological (explanatory) or pragmatic issue.


To fully grasp the significance of mind being interpreted as a second order property of a first level physical brain domain implies, in our view, accepting that both their causal efficacy being determined by the ‘intrinsic’, non-relational properties of both their inner states and syntax. This would leave their ‘extrinsic’, relational, causally-effective, semantic determinants to be non-existent or undefined, excluding in the process the relevance of the subject's social memory and ecological conditions. Under these conditions, both brain and mind would be severely limited as behavior producing inducers. In our bps model, it would effectively do away with linguistic determinism, according to which our cosmology would be tied up principally to the limited lexical or grammatical encoding allowed by a universal grammar divorced from relational ‘extrinsic’ influences. Things like categorization, memory, perception, cognition would not be possible at the human level. The semantical properties such individuals could instantiate, i.e. a reflection of the contents of their beliefs, desires or truth conditions of their logical sentences, etc. would be different, more animal like. In our biased bps approach, if it a’int linguistically coded, it a’int thinkable. Finally, if a mind state (e.g., sleep) is to be considered as a secondary property of the hypnotic drug then both physical and nonphysical events merge into a common causal chain and we are back at square one, Cartesian dualism!


Summary and Conclusions.


         Any successful physical, naturalistic interpretation of a free-willing mind requires the latter to be real for only that way it can have causal efficiency according to Alexander’s principle. Real means physical in all its ‘essence’ particulars, in accord with physical monism principles, because it must be nomologically and metaphysically co-extensive with the physical properties of the brain, an anti-reductionist stance. This position may harmonize with a property dualism but it sounds awkward any explanation as to how a physical brain B instantiates a mental (but physical!) property M when the latter supervene on the realization properties of the former. The heroic attempt of Kim to physicalize mental properties by declaring them second order properties of the same domain physical level of the brain are epistemological gymnastics facing the allegorical cave with ontological horse blinders.

         It is always easier to criticize than to offer viable alternatives consistent with common human self-evident experiences such as that presented to the senses or witnessed in laboratories or psychiatric wards. The easy way out is to go in denial about the existence of the mind as behaviorist would have it or declare (with mental anomalists) that mental laws do not exist because mental properties are totally fixed by physical properties of the brain and consequently have no causal role of their own. In addition, if you happen to have the intellectual brainpower of a Fodor, you may try the Olympic task of subverting the underlying ontology of the mind.

            For those of us non-philosophers, still groping to thread the thorny path of self-serving, ontologically-garbed, epistemological abstractions, we observe and wonder about simple things like, how come when you pick ANY physical event and trace back its causal ancestry or project into its future posterity, you will ALWAYS find yourself outside the physical domain? Or, a more concrete observation of patients, otherwise capable of the most sophisticated logical abstractions, manipulate data premises and consistently articulate a perfectly logical theory of reality predicated on assumed (not observable) data premises. The neurological literature is replete with cases of brain confabulation. All cases analyzed have a common denominator, the patient’s logical efforts are directed at preserving the unity of self and the integrity of body systems to cope with a ‘perceived’ state of affairs in his immediate environment, a survival strategy. However, one does not need to visit only the structured psychiatric wards to see a similar behavior varying only in degrees not on its qualitative aspects, something we euphemistically call “normal behavior”.

         But to conceive free will as so stereotyped is outright physical determinism, as explained, and that would leave out without explanation the exceptional cases of heroic acts and altruism, all contrary to bps survival. Somewhere along the bi-directional vector B M in space or hyperspace we can tentatively explain the need to postulate an intervening causal agency to override the physical force of our ‘logical’ brain and realize such uncommon acts. But an explanation does not resolve the logical issue and is difficult to articulate except by invoking the existence of additional laws of nature explaining the co-variation and reciprocal supervenience between B and M properties. Alternatively, do we settle by giving reciprocal supervenience vectors a metaphysical grounding? We do not need to invoke any ontological characterization of the interventor not to offend the physicalist parishioners but, if it is physical, where is it? Meanwhile, it makes a lot of sense to consider life and self-consciousness as driven by brute and fundamental forces beyond the explanation of known natural laws.

         This author has argued all along that life and consciousness are causally related and perhaps biology, and to some extent chemistry, may be considered as being special to the extent of being supervenient on the physical sciences with varying degrees, a type of non-reducible supervenience as discussed. The strength of the argument is predicated on the multiple realizationability of homogenous macro events by heterogeneous multiple realizers depending on the ensuing state of its accessibility to participate. Quantum mechanical states, like mental states, have not shown clearly their causal efficacy yet QM can adequately explain physical chemistry, can an equivalent theory be construed for the mind? In previous writings we have reached for the paradigm of self-organization as a promising approach to explain the emergence of novel properties and complex processes like the translation of DNA code into amygdaloidal neuronal archetype algorithms during the developmental stages of the newborn acquisition of language based on a varied assortment of current science-fictional inter-domain phase transitions, nonlinear dynamics, chaos theory or synergetics.

         Sense phenomenal quale or its equivalent memory recall seem to resist functionalization, a major obstacle to bring them into the fold of causal efficacy within a physicalist scheme and thereby to be considered in a real domain because causal power is a required criterion for distinguishing what is real from what is not (can events have causes and effects of their own?). Gradients between same qualia (e.g., color frequency variations) may, however, be subject to functionalization (see Llins 2001).


As a parting shot we like to stress that our concept of free will is very closely tied to the concept of moral responsibility, an exclusively human trait difficult to be conceive exclusively as a survival strategy in the context of bps model in so far as it may encourage actions against bps optimization. The main perceived threats to our freedom of will are various alleged determinisms: physical / causal, psychological, biological and theological. If one were tempted to bring moral theology into the causal picture it is important to consider that the freedom of God himself is questionable if His perfect goodness is to be an essential, not an acquired attribute. If He cannot be other than good, he is not free to decide and is not perfect, at least from the standpoint of the individual component of the group which he prefers to protect, even at his expense...


                                               Dr. Angell O. de la Sierra, Esq.

                                                Deltona Lakes, Florida 2003




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