The Hard Problem of consciousness asks why there is a gap between our
explanation of matter, or biology, or neurology, and our experience in the
first place. What is it there which even suggests to us that there should
be a gap, and why should there be a such thing as experience to stand apart
from the functions of that which we can explain.
*Materialism only miniaturizes the gap* and relies on a machina ex deus
(intentionally reversed deus ex machina) of ‘complexity’ to save the day.
An interesting question would be, why does dualism seem to be easier to
overlook when we are imagining the body of a neuron, or a collection of
molecules? I submit that it is because miniaturization and complexity
challenge the limitations of our cognitive ability, we find it easy to
conflate that sort of quantitative incomprehensibility with the other
incomprehensibility being considered, namely aesthetic* awareness. What
consciousness does with phenomena which pertain to a distantly scaled
perceptual frame is to under-signify it. It becomes less important, less
real, less worthy of attention.
*Idealism only fictionalizes the gap*. I argue that idealism makes more
sense on its face than materialism for addressing the Hard Problem, since
material would have no plausible excuse for becoming aware or being
entitled to access an unacknowledged a priori possibility of awareness.
Idealism however, fails at commanding the respect of a sophisticated
perspective since it relies on naive denial of objectivity. Why so many
molecules? Why so many terrible and tragic experiences? Why so much
enduring of suffering and injustice? The thought of an afterlife is too
seductive of a way to wish this all away. The concept of maya, that the
world is a veil of illusion is too facile to satisfy our scientific
*Dualism multiplies the gap*. Acknowledging the gap is a good first step,
but without a bridge, the gap is diagonalized and stuck in infinite
regress. In order for experience to connect in some way with physics, some
kind of homunculus is invoked, some third force or function interceding on
behalf of the two incommensurable substances. The third force requires a
fourth and fifth force on either side, and so forth, as in a Zeno paradox.
Each homunculus has its own Explanatory Gap.
*Dual Aspect Monism retreats from the gap*. The concept of material and
experience being two aspects of a continuous whole is the best one so far –
getting very close. The only problem is that it does not explain what this
monism is, or where the aspects come from. It rightfully honors the
importance of opposites and duality, but it does not question what they
actually are. Laws? Information?
*Panpsychism toys with the gap*.Depending on what kind of panpsychism is
employed, it can miniaturize, multiply, or retreat from the gap. At least
it is committing to closing the gap in a way which does not take human
exceptionalism for granted, but it still does not attempt to integrate
qualia itself with quanta in a detailed way. Tononi’s IIT might be an
exception in that it is detailed, but only from the quantitative end. The
hard problem, which involves justifying the reason for integrated
information being associated with a private ‘experience’ is still only
picked at from a distance.
*Primordial Identity Pansensitivity,* my candidate for nomination, uses a
different approach than the above. PIP solves the hard problem by putting
the entire universe inside the gap. Consciousness *is* the Explanatory Gap.
Naturally, it follows serendipitously that consciousness is also itself *
explanatory*. The role of consciousness is to make plain – to bring into
aesthetic evidence that which can be made evident. How is that different
from what physics does? What does the universe do other than generate
aesthetic textures and narrative fragments? It is not awareness which must
fit into our physics or our science, our religion or philosophy, it is the
totality of eternity which must gain meaning and evidence through sensory
*Is awareness ‘aesthetic’? That we call a substance which causes the loss
of consciousness a *general anesthetic* might be a serendipitous clue. If
so, the term local anesthetic as an agent which deadens sensation is
another hint about our intuitive correlation between discrete sensations
and overall capacity to be ‘awake’. Between sensations (I would call
sub-private) and personal awareness (privacy) would be a spectrum of nested
channels of awareness.
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