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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

Kleiner, Johannes. Models of Consciousness. arXiv:1907.03223. A Leibniz University of Hannover postdoc mathematical physicist provides a latest survey which builds on the work of David Chalmers and Thomas Nagel so as to course through integrated information theory, global workspace models, conscious agent networks, and more.

The study of consciousness has emerged as a response to novel developments in neuroscience, cognitive psychology and analytic philosophy. Its aim is to develop a scientific account, formulated by way of mathematical laws or regularities, of how conscious experience relates to the physical domain. Even though models of consciousness have been proposed in the literature, details of the underlying conceptual terminology and framework remain poorly understood. This paper proposes a scientific study of consciousness based on concise definitions along with several examples. (Abstract excerpt)

Koch, Christof. Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. A consummate statement by a leading neuroscientist reviewed more in Current Vistas.

Kurzweil, Ray. The Intelligent Universe. www.edge.org/3rd_culture/kurzweil02/kurzweil02_p2.html. The computer scientist, inventor and author conceives a progressive cosmic evolution which by its nature evolves into sentient beings so they can then take up and transform its future creation.

The universe has been set up exquisitely enough to have intelligence. There are intelligent entities like ourselves that can contemplate the universe and develop models about it, which is interesting. Intelligence is, in fact, a powerful force and we can see that its power is going to grow not linearly but exponentially, and will ultimately be powerful enough to change the destiny of the universe. (2)

Lanza, Robert. A New Theory of the Universe. American Scholar. 76/2, 2007. A cell biologist at Wake Forest University School of Medicine rightly argues that life and consciousness ought precede and thus distinguish a “biocentric” cosmos. Surely another sign of “a profound shift in worldview” but which takes 20th century quantum physics as its fundamental arbiter, not realizing that a universal self-generating organic physics, a revolution in our midst, is its true vital essence.

Linde, Andrei. Universe, Life, Consciousness. www.andrei-linde.com/articles/universe-life-consciousness-pdf. This is a talk by the Russian-American, Stanford University philosophical cosmologist given at a 2015 Science and Nonduality Conference in California. Long ago I was fortunate to attend his first public lecture in the USA in September 1983 at Harvard where he spoke about a novel inflationary origin and a fractal multiverse of bubbling cosmoses. In the years since this theory has become an accepted version (with objections) as global science advanced from overhead slides to streaming videos. But Linde has a visionary side and here evokes an “eternally existing self-reproducing inflationary universe” due to quantum wave fluctuations which leads to the unusually important role played by the concept of an observer in cosmology. A mid 2010s result is another inference of a self-observing, participant universe. By these lights, the presence of informed, personal awareness would seem to be a phenomenal imperative by which to bring a genesis cosmos into being.

Is it not possible that consciousness, like space-time, has its own intrinsic degrees of freedom, and that neglecting these will lead to a description of the universe that is fundamentally incomplete? What if our perceptions are more real than material objects? Is it possible to introduce a “space of elements of consciousness,” and investigate that consciousness may exist by itself, even in the absence of matter, just like gravitational waves, exist in the absence of protons and electrons? Will it not turn out, with the further development of science, that the study of the universe and the study of consciousness will be inseparably linked? After the development of a unified geometrical description of the weak, strong, electromagnetic, and gravitational interactions, will the next important step be the development of a unified approach include the world of consciousness? (12)

Lockley, Martin. The Evolutionary Dynamics of Consciousness: An Integration of Eastern and Western Holistic Paradigms. Journal of Consciousness Studies. 17/9-10, 2010. In this rare journal that provides space for alternative visions of a different organic, sentient, Romantic, awakening universe, a University of Colorado geologist expands his purview, in the vein of Johann Goethe and Jean Gebser (1905-1973), to envision once more an original mindfulness from which sequentially arises a personal, global, and cosmic self-recognition and realization. We also note Lockley and Ryo Morimoto’s new book How Humanity Came into Being: The Evolution of Consciousness (Floris Books, 2010), not yet seen.

These paradigms recognize the importance of recursive (fractal) organizing principles that structure the biosphere’s spatial dimensions and, in the temporal realm, structure long- and short-term evolutionary cycles. (66) The marriage of Gebserian cultural philosophies with Gothean biology, the science of complexity and eastern praxis traditions leads to a simple, elegant and remarkably broad appreciation of the fundamental role of consciousness as an essential property of dynamic living systems. (66-67)

Loocke, Philip van, ed. The Physical Nature of Consciousness. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing, 2000. By way of a merger of physics and psychology, conscious perception is understood as inherently built into a developing quantum universe. To neuroscientist Karl Pribram, human sentience is a micro-encapsulation of its essence:

It is conjectured that each organism, like a Leibnizian monad, re-presents the universe, and the universe reflects, in some manner, the organism that observes it. (117)

Manousakis, Efstratios. Founding Quantum Theory on the Basis of Consciousness. Foundations of Physics. 36/6, 2006. The Florida State University physicist reverses the prior suggestion that mental awareness is a quantum derivative to posit that such realms actually spring from a primordial sentience. By these coherent lights, streams of consciousness can be “extended to the notion of a Universal/Global stream of conscious flow of ordered events.”

Padilla, Nelly and Hugo Lagercrantz. Making of the Mind. Acta Paediatrica. 109/6, 2020. Karolinska Institute, Woman’s and Children’s Health, Stockholm pediatric scholars provide a succinct review of 21st century studies by Lagercrantz (search) and many colleagues all about the dawning occasion of fetal, infant and child sensory awareness. By so doing, a wider perception of a natural source which imbues and informs a deep evolutionary emergence can be appreciated. As a result, a deep parallel between each human individual and life’s phylogenetic course becomes evident. If we may then situate within this website expanse, a relative ecosmic embryogenesis might also be implied as life arises, develops, and quickens to visionary persons and planets. Thus we choose a quote from the Abstract as appropriate our home page. See also Infant Brain Development: Formation of the Mind and the Emergence of Consciousness. (Springer, 2016) by Lagercrantz.

The essence of the mind is consciousness. It emerged early during evolution and ontogeny appears to follow the same process as phylogeny. Consciousness comes from multiple sources, including visual, auditory, sensorimotor and proprioceptive senses. These gradually combine during development to build a unified consciousness, due to the constant interactions between the brain, body, and environment. In the human the emergence of consciousness depends on the activation of the cortex by thalamocortical connections around 24 weeks after conception. Then, the human foetus can react to touch, smell and sound but is mainly asleep. In contrast, the newborn infant can be aware of its own self and others, express emotions and share feelings. The development of consciousness is a progressive, stepwise, structural and functional evolution of multiple intricate components. (Abstract excerpt)

Poznanski, Roman, et al, eds. Biophysics of Consciousness. Singapore: World Scientific, 2016. With co-editors Jack Tuszynski and Todd Feinberg (search each), the collection presses the frontiers of (re)rooting our human informed awareness into a conducive physical cosmos as it becomes increasingly life-minded. An opening chapter is Neurobiological Naturalism by Feinberg and Jon Mallett, followed by contributions from Michael Arbib, Poznanski, Huping Hu, Stuart Hameroff, and others. A main theme is to address David Chalmers’ (search) “hard problem” of consciousness which seems inexplicable in an insensate material cosmos, re second quote. An answer requires an encompassing universe suffused with original, intrinsic consciousness, which is lately gaining scientific credence. Chapters such as The Quantum Underground: Where Life and Consciousness Originate, and The Holoinformational Foundations of Consciousness attempt to scope out an intelligent spacescape.

The problem of how the brain produces consciousness, subjectivity and "something it is like to be" remains one of the greatest challenges to a complete science of the natural world. While various scientists and philosophers approach the problem from their own unique perspectives and in the terms of their own respective fields, Biophysics of Consciousness: A Foundational Approach attempts a consilience across disparate disciplines to explain how it is possible that an objective brain produces subjective experience. This volume unites the crème de la crème of physicists, neuroscientists, and psychiatrists in the attempt to understand consciousness through a foundational approach encompassing ontological, evolutionary, neurobiological, and Freudian interpretations with the focus on conscious phenomena occurring in the brain. By integrating the perspectives of these diverse disciplines with the latest research and theories on the biophysics of the brain, the book tries to explain how consciousness can be an adaptive and causal element in the natural world.

The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining how and why we have qualia or phenomenal experiences—how sensations acquire characteristics, such as colors and tastes. David Chalmers, who introduced the term "hard problem" of consciousness, contrasts this with the "easy problems" of explaining the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, etc. Easy problems are easy because all that is required for their solution is to specify a mechanism that can perform the function. That is, their proposed solutions, regardless of how complex or poorly understood they may be, can be entirely consistent with the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomena. Chalmers claims that the problem of experience is distinct from this set, and he argues that the problem of experience will "persist even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained". (Wikipedia)

Prentner, Robert. Consciousness: A Molecular Perspective. Philosophies. 2/4, 2017. In this MDPI online journal, the ETH Zurich scholar has dual 2013 doctorates in the “physical chemistry of quantum dynamics in molecular systems,” and in philosophy on “scientific approaches to consciousness.” The essay is a later 2010s update on the ancient, persistent sense that natural materiality must be suffused with mindful qualities, which then are a source for emergent personal awareness. Contemporary neuroscience, information processing, panpsychic themes, along with fertile matter are availed. See also his Chemistry, Context and Objects of Thought in Foundations of Chemistry (19/1, 2017).

This perspective examines the role of chemistry and molecular biology for a science of consciousness. Opposed to the consensus view, we argue that the molecular organization of biological systems is key to arrive at a thorough understanding of the dynamics correlated to the phenomenology of consciousness in complex organisms. This is indicated by the fact that the molecular sciences either provide one or more mechanisms directly related to phenomenology or otherwise describe the dynamics of the underlying substrate. In addition, we discuss substrate-independence in information-processing theories of consciousness and the issue of combination in panpsychist theories of consciousness, both from the angle of the molecular sciences. In any case, molecular details matter. (Abstract)

Rosenblum, Bruce and Fred Kuttner. Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. However might we comprehend the persistent, nagging indication that quantum realms in some way require human observation to bring them into existence.

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