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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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III. Ecosmos: A Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet Lifescape

D. Natural Econsciousness and Ecognition

Busemeyer, Jerome, et al. Applying Quantum Principles to Psychology. arXiv:1405.6427. Busemeyer, Indiana University, with Zheng Wang, Ohio State University, and Andrei Khrennikov and Irina Basieva, Linnaeus University, Sweden, continue to survey the actual presence of subatomic processes in our cerebral and behavioral activities. See also a special issue of the Journal of Mathematical Psychology (53/5, 2013) on Quantum Cognition with papers by Diederik Aerts, Liane Gabora, Kirsty Kitto, and Emmanuel Haven.

This article starts out with a detailed example illustrating the utility of applying quantum probability to psychology. Then it describes several alternative mathematical methods for mapping fundamental quantum concepts (such as state preparation, measurement, state evolution) to fundamental psychological concepts (such as stimulus, response, information processing). For state preparation, we consider both pure states and densities with mixtures. For measurement, we consider projective measurements and positive operator valued measurements. The advantages and disadvantages of each method with respect to applications in psychology are discussed. (Abstract)

Butler, Ann. Hallmarks of Consciousness. Lopez-Larrea, Carlos, ed. Sensing in Nature. Dordrecht: Springer, 2012. The George Mason University neuroscientist contributes to waxing affirmations of a stratified ascent of this premium evolutionary faculty. A continuum of consciousness, as long intimated, does indeed arise and flow from a universal essence to observant, reflective peoples. By the “seemingly less complex behaviors of reptiles and amphibians, complex behavior of birds, behavioral abilities of teleost fishes,” unto later mammals, primates, hominids and homo sapiens, regnant life elaborates its cerebral anatomy, physiology, and cognitive, informed awareness. These are “Behavioral and Information Hallmarks,” by way of the Tononi/Koch theory of a “somatosensory” vector toward reflective self identity.

Consciousness, ranging from the primary, or perceptual, level to high levels that include a sense of self, can be identified in various organisms by a set of hallmarks that include behavioral, neural and phenomenal and/or informational. Behavioral hallmarks include those that indicate high cognitive abilities, such behavioral flexibility, verbal abilities, episodic memories, theory of mind, object constancy, transitive inference and multistability, all of which have been demonstrated in birds as well as in primates. Neural hallmarks include the thalamocortical model for mammals and similar circuitry in some nonmammalian taxa. Informational hallmarks include sensorimotor awareness, as provided by somatosensory and/or lateral line systems, which may form the basis for the sense of self and distinguishing self from nonself, as well as other sensory information, such as the richness and quantity of color and form information obtained by the visual system. The comparative method reveals a correlation of these different types of hallmarks with each other in their degree of development, which thus may be indicative of the level of consciousness present in a particular species. (Abstract)

Campbell, John O. The Knowing Universe. Victoria, BC: Independent Publisher, 2021. The Canadian scholar (search Universal Evolution) provides new insights about a how cosmic to cerebral process seems to quicken and learn by way of inferential Bayesian iterations. A main basis is Karl Friston’s collegial work, who consulted with the author on this volume. In regard, Thus a “self-evidencing,” autopoietic, cocreation is implied, as if some manner (so it seems) of self-making individuation. We add that similar perceptions are lately gaining popular notice, e.g. Roli, Andrea, et al. How Organisms Come to Know the World by Andrea Roli, et al (Nov. 2021) and The Evolution of Agency by Michael Tomasello (2022).

A largely unheralded scientific revolution is sweeping through the research community. One aspect are the many publications centered on Karl Friston's notions (search KF) of a Bayesian Brain and a Free Energy Principle. In regard, Bayesian inferences about relationships between hypotheses and evidence, is the brain's way of solving problems and living forward. Here I seek to extend Friston's collegial theories beyond brains and onto societies, biology and informational physics. Friston's wider claim is indeed that all reality follows a remarkably similar path. Cosmic to cultural existence is an inferential process in which the knowledge gain of entities, aka agents, as they achieve and sustain themselves, accumulates in repositories. (Excerpt)

Inferential systems are a two-step process underwriting existence which unite generalized genotypes with generalized phenotypes. Its first step entails a generative state for accumulating relative knowledge. For example, a biological genome encodes a constructive model or strategy for bringing phenotypes into heritable existence. We may typify the first phase as “existing is knowing.” (17)

Carter, Rita. Exploring Consciousness. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. A comprehensive book with comments by leading theorists that explores the scientific study of the rise and properties of sentience.

If consciousness is information, the more there is of it, the more conscious we should be. However, the amount of information in a system is not just dependent on the amount of activity in it – it also depends on the way it is ordered. (122) Brains have a fractal composition in that its major specialized processing ‘modules’…are made up of hundreds of even more finely specialized mini-modules, which in turn are made up of yet more specialized neurons….Going up the scale, it is recognized that many individual brains create behavior that is like one giant brain….In turn these group minds may be part of some greater consciousness – a universal mind. (123) Descartes’ res cogitans, the indivisible, infinite stuff of mind, may turn out to be, not just part of the natural world, but the very basis of it. (307)

Chittka, Lars and Catherine Wilson. Expanding Consciousness. American Scientist. November-December, 2019. As current realizations proceed apace that a universal sentience indeed graces by degree all evolutionary creatures and further afield, a Queen Mary University London behaviorial ecologist and a CCNY philosopher weigh in that even social insects (bees) have complex member and hive behaviors which implies they must be aware of what they are doing. See also Consciousness as a Biological Phenomenon by CW in the Harvard Review of Philosophy (Vol. 25, 2019).

If, as we have argued, consciousness is an evolutionary invention—akin to wings or lungs—that is useful to us, it is most likely useful to other organisms with traits deeply homologous to ours. They share with us the difficulties of moving, probing the environment, remembering, predicting the future, and coping with unforeseen challenges. If the same behavioral and cognitive criteria are applied as to much larger-brained vertebrates, then some insects qualify as conscious agents, with no less certainty than dogs or cats. (369)

Cornelissen, Matthijs. The Evolution of Consciousness in Sri Aurobindo’s Cosmopsychology. Wautischer, Helmut, ed. Ontology of Consciousness: Percipient Action. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008. A survey for this volume of venerable Vedantic wisdom whereby mind, not matter, is the primary creative essence which engenders and suffuses a vast hierarchical manifestation. This ancient perception has been given its most dynamic evolutionary cast by the Indian\British philosopher Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950) whereof human persons are a transitional phase of a spiritually oriented emergence. By this vista, a genesis cosmos grows in learned, numinous sentience to which human persons, individually and collectively, can contribute.

Di Biase, Francisco. Quantum-Holographic Informational Consciousness. NeuroQuantology. 7/4, 2009. A paper kindly received from the Albert Schweitzer University neuroscientist of his latest, astute considerations of an intrinsic congruence and rapport between a creative quantum universe and our phenomenal human sapience. Dr. Di Biase draws on the work of psychologist Karl Pribram, physicist David Bohm, field theorist Hiroomi Umezawa, the Nobel neuroscientist John Eccles, as the quotes sample, and numerous other sources to theorize an ascendant reflective awareness that arises from a deep, neural-like source. In such regard, these implicate and explicate realms seem akin to a hologram whereof each shard contains a modicum of the whole image (see e.g., Erik Verlinde). It is somewhat hard to do justice because many terminologies, which also hold through the journal (see below), although closer to truth than an insensate collider scheme, remain in much need of translation.

I propose a dynamic concept of consciousness seen as a holoinformational flux interconnecting the holonomic informational quantum brain dynamics, with the quantum informational holographic nature of the universe. This self-organizing flux is generated by the holographic mode of treatment of neuronal information and can be optimized through practices of deep meditation, prayer, and others states of higher consciousness that underlie the coherence of cerebral waves.

This highly coherent brain state generates the non-local holographic informational cortical field of consciousness that interconnect the human brain and the holographic cosmos. The comprehension of this holonomic quantum informational nature of brain-consciousness-universe interconnectedness allows us to solve the old mind-matter cartesian hard problem, unifying science, philosophy, and spiritual traditions in a more transdisciplinary, holistic, integrated paradigm.

Donald, Merlin. A Mind So Rare. New York: Norton, 2001. The Canadian psychologist defends consciousness as real, active, informed quality and the central phenomenon of an emergent evolution. The human brain is uniquely capable due to interpersonal discourse within an ever thickening web of culture. As first told in his 1989 book cited in Part II, Mindkind, these insights go on to consider a social cognizance as an embryonic collective mind and knowledge.

Indeed, humanity might be defined as the only species on earth that combines individual with collective cognitive processes and in which the individual can identify with, and become part of a group process. (xiii) Although purpose is anchored in consciousness, it can never be truly attributed to a single conscious mind, in isolation. It is the conscious mind in culture that constitutes the source of teleology in the affairs of the human world. (323-324)

Downing, Keith. Intelligence Emerging: Adaptivity and Search in Evolving Neural Systems. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2015. As the publisher’s summary advises, a Norwegian University of Science and Technology professor of neuroscience and artificial intelligence explains a self-organizing, complex adaptive system natural genesis in terms of an evolutionary algorithmic search, represent, reiterate, optimize learning process.

In this book, Keith Downing undertakes a systematic investigation of the widespread claim that intelligence is an emergent phenomenon. Downing focuses on neural networks, both natural and artificial, and how their adaptability in three time frames -- phylogenetic (evolutionary), ontogenetic (developmental), and epigenetic (lifetime learning) -- underlie the emergence of cognition. Integrating the perspectives of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, Downing provides a series of concrete examples of neurocognitive emergence. Doing so, he offers a new motivation for the expanded use of bio-inspired concepts in artificial intelligence (AI), in the subfield known as Bio-AI.

One of Downing's central claims is that two key concepts from traditional AI, search and representation, are key to understanding emergent intelligence as well. He first offers introductory chapters on five core concepts: emergent phenomena, formal search processes, representational issues in Bio-AI, artificial neural networks (ANNs), and evolutionary algorithms (EAs). Intermediate chapters delve deeper into search, representation, and emergence in ANNs, EAs, and evolving brains. Finally, advanced chapters on evolving artificial neural networks and information-theoretic approaches to assessing emergence in neural systems synthesize earlier topics to provide some perspective, predictions, and pointers for the future of Bio-AI.

Edwards, Jonathan C. W. Are Our Spaces Made of Words? Journal of Consciousness Studies. 15/1, 2008. A professor of medicine at University College London expands on Bohr’s quantum complementarity to stress that seemingly ‘particulate’ entities (appearance) are actually the result of dynamic interactions (process). By these lights, cerebral pairs of neurons and axonal branches can be identified as they constantly convey and transmit information. A merger of modern biophysics and sentient experience then accrues whereof words may be the best exemplar of such inherent semiotic discourse.

If reality has the two aspects of process and appearance then the relationship between the two ought to be central to understanding consciousness. (68) In summary, it is proposed that there are two complementary aspects to reality: processes, and, at their interfaces, appearances. (81)

Elek, Oskar, et al.. Plyphorm: Structural Analysis of Cosmological Datasets via Interactive Physarum Polycephalum Visualization. arXiv:2009.02441. We cite this entry by UC Santa Cruz computer scientists and astrophysicists for its innovative application of the seemingly intelligent, goal-directed. optimizations used by this eukaryotic cellular aggregation as it searches for food. See also the PBS NOVA program Secret Mind of Slime, aired Sept. 16, 2020, for much more. And for a consideration, since this generic behavior is available across simple invertebrate and insect populations, along with its ready service to widely removed scientific studies, maybe it implies that the whole universal scenario which we peoples are coming upon might have an innate cerebral character, whence its natural cognitive methods can apply everywhere.

This paper introduces Polyphorm, an interactive model fitting tool that provides a novel approach to investigate cosmological datasets. Through a fast computational simulation method inspired by the behavior of Physarum polycephalum, an unicellular slime mold organism that efficiently forages for nutrients, astrophysicists are able to extrapolate from sparse data, such as Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxy maps and then use these them to analyze of a wide range of other results, such as spectroscopic observations by the Hubble Space Telescope. (Abstract excerpt)

Feinberg, Todd and Jon Mallatt. The Ancient Origins of Consciousness. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2016. Todd E. Feinberg (search) is Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Chief of the Yarmon Neurobehavior and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, and an international authority on how the neurobiology of the brain creates an individual's sense of identity. Jon Mallatt is an Associate Professor of Biology and Medical Sciences at the University of Washington. And they achieve still another 2016 volume that can reach robust conclusions after years of personal and collective studies. By this vantage, life’s long evolution from invertebrate rudiments to human acumen can be seen as a stratified emergence of corporeal and neural complexity and proactive sentience. A singular quickening, much as an embryonic gestation, is clearly revealed and quantitatively explained. Its recurrent, nested, developmental course is graced by isomorphic embodiments, self-organization, hierarchical scales, constraints, which altogether trace an oriented teleonomy. The integrated information view of Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch whence awareness rises in tandem with knowledge is seen as a companion theory. Akin to Barron & Klein above, a continuum of consciousness from warm ponds to our global genius can lately be affirmed.

How is consciousness created? When did it first appear on Earth, and how did it evolve? What constitutes consciousness, and which animals can be said to be sentient? In this book, Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt draw on recent scientific findings to answer these questions. After assembling a list of the biological and neurobiological features that seem responsible for consciousness, and considering the fossil record of evolution, Feinberg and Mallatt argue that consciousness appeared much earlier in evolutionary history than is commonly assumed. About 520 to 560 million years ago, they explain, the great "Cambrian explosion" of animal diversity produced the first complex brains, which were accompanied by the appearance of consciousness; simple reflexive behaviors evolved into a unified inner world of subjective experiences. From this they deduce that all vertebrates are and have always been conscious -- not just humans and other mammals, but every fish, reptile, amphibian, and bird. Considering invertebrates, they find that arthropods (insects and crustaceans) and cephalopods (octopus) meet many of the criteria for consciousness. Combining evolutionary, neurobiological, and philosophical approaches allows Feinberg and Mallatt to offer an original solution to the "hard problem" of consciousness. (Publisher)

What is essential here is that consciousness, like all known life, is physiologically an embodied process. Consciousness is part of what a living brain does. All the general features of biology we now consider, and all the special features of conscious brains, are functional features of particular embodiments. (21). Neurobiological Naturalism says that consciousness is consistent with generally accepted and known scientific laws, so no new “fundamental,” or quantum-level, or “mysterious” properties are required to explain it. Sensory consciousness across all animal species that possess it and in all its varieties results from several essential features that in combination distinguish it from anything else in nature. We can summarize them as follows: sensory consciousness is an emergent characteristic of a living, neural, and complexly hierarchical brain. (195)

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