Abstract: I tie in consciousness, incompleteness, the mind as multiverse, logic incarnated by high dimensional neurocircuitry, and various states of consciousness as their architects. Among other things.
Consciousness is a major mystery, blatant to all. Much boring stuff has been said about it. That does not mean we can’t progress in our understanding. We will. Here is a sketch of some of my ideas, and, as there is much more to be said, I will call this “Consciousness I”.
Are we conscious when sleeping? What’s the connection between intelligence and consciousness? I was pondering those questions while more or less sleeping (for want of a better description). That struck me as entirely appropriate: thinking about what happened when sleeping, while sleeping. Obviously I was conscious, and obviously, there are many levels of consciousness. (And, with modern technology, modulo the injection of drugs, aliens can come to control our minds and spy on our brains!)
Consciousness is a little bit like the light of a lighthouse: what it illuminates is visible, but the rest is still there. Like a lighthouse, it can be seen from afar.
An illustrative dream came up to help further my meditation. I was swimming in a rather cold sea, next to the shore, and then what I vaguely feared happened: my daughter was swimming too, somewhat in the distance, among the ominous waves. As she is only three years old, that was something to worry about: she swims very well, but in warm swimming pools. Not in this very black, frigid, undulating ocean.
So what was the point of this dream? Obviously to warn me that, were a body of water to be present, any body of water, even when clearly dangerous, there was a possibility that she would launch herself as boldly as when she jumps in a swimming pool. So I was forewarned. New logical circuitry connecting to the great danger center had been vividly forged.
No doubt that, should a somewhat similar context possibly arise in the real world, I would pay more preventive attention to what my daughter was doing.
A way to look at Quantum Physics is that the world is made of probabilities. Experiencing, and managing, the world as if it were made of probabilities is fully compatible with the vision, and experience, of the world prehistoric man had. There was no way to be sure that there was no venomous snake ready to strike below that rock, so better poke it with a stick, or give it a precautionary wide berth.
Meditation is a most precious, most human state of consciousness. Whereas sentience is shared with many animals on this planet, obviously, not so with the capacity for meditation. meditation allows to shut down most (over-) used neuronal circuitry, and engage more strategically important parts of the brain.
Action without meditation is as slavedom without wisdom.
What does it mean to be conscious? Well, first, that we feel conscious. Clearly, in a sleep, quite often, we feel very much alive (“sentient” to put it in one word, meaning to have sensation, or sentiment), even though we can’t recall much of it when we wake up. This type of partial, but vivid, consciousness can happen under general anesthesia, as it did to me after an accident. I was waxing lyrical, doing poetry. I was told by the doctors, and even now, partly remember.
The key to logic, beyond what the Greeks understood, is the process of “meta”. It’s just the realization that, for all practical matters the world is uncountably infinite, whereas any language, hence traditional logic, is countable. This means that no logical process will exhaust the world.
That’s called logical incompleteness, and is associated to Gödel’s name. But the fundamental idea is very simple, I just uttered it. (Gödel went further than that, proving the logical process will get to a finite number of steps, where it will fail; related to this is my assertion that there is a largest number, the end-all, be-all of mathematics.)
If any logic is incomplete, how does one make do, and complete any logic? By adding dimensions, going meta.
We can’t go through the obstacle, so we jump over it. Consciousness is made to perform those meta jumps. How? By reconfiguring the inner mental universe in various states of. consciousness, and leaving memory traces of it.
I absolutely do not believe in the incredibly stupid interpretation of the Quantum according to the brainless “multiverse”. (Another case of human idiocy by types so arrogant that they do not understand how little they grasp.)
However, choosing an alternative or the other in a logic after a while, as Gödel says we have to do, is, basically, a choice of dimension. Here is the multiverse. But it’s neurobiological, not quantum.
Thus the capability to create multiverse within minds exists, it’s called consciousness in its various states. It’s between the two ears of a normally constituted human being. To go multiverse, various parts of the brains get more or less shut down as others are able to gain some ascendency. This is why getting drunk, and drugs in general are tied with some creativity (disclosure: I never used drugs because being arrogant, I think am a drug onto myself, and that I would best be trained by implementing the craziness myself!)
Notice that there are other ways to look at Quantum Physics (full of matrices for Heisenberg, full of waves in many ways for De Broglie, me, etc.). According to circumstances, the ways to look at things is more or less appropriate to the action at hand. Consciousness acts as a director, a decider choosing what ingredients one should throw in the reality our brain operates in.
Reality does not just depend upon what we perceive, but also upon what we decided to have perceived. Consciousness makes the decision to decide what’s the best reality one should operate in. and this goes all the way from the logical, to the factual, to the emotional.
One has to realize that, to start with, the brain is an extremely high dimensional object; each of the 50 known neurotransmitters or neurohormones can be viewed as a dimension. Different logical paths (neuronal paths, dendritic connections paths, etc.) can also be viewed as dimensions (I use the algebraic definition of dimension here: if each point of a space is determined by (x1, x2, x3,., xn), the dimension of that space is n).
In normal operations, we favor some of these paths. (Be it only because some peculiar neurons, always the same control which part of the brain receive fuel and oxygen, and when.) However, when we shut down some preferred areas (from sleep, meditation, physical exercise, highly excited hormonal states, alcohol, etc.), and in particular those gateway neurons, other circuits and organs are then free to offered their alternatives. Hebbian reinforcing can do the rest, and new dimensions of thought then appear in everyday life.