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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

Swan, Liz, ed. Origins of Mind. Berlin: Springer, 2013. Philosopher and psychologist Elizabeth Stillwaggon Swan relates that in 2010 she sent out a call for papers for an anthology to explore innate sources in physical nature and evolutionary development of organic mindfulness. It turned out that a project to trace the vital roots of ascending informed awareness is of wide interest but with scant treatment, so a copious response ensued. This Volume 8 in Springer’s Biosemiotics series offers select chapters that broach how our human linguistic consciousness must and does have an integral continuity with the phenomenal essences of a lively cosmos. For flavor, chapters include Organic Codes and the Natural History of Mind by Marcello Barbieri, Evolving Consciousness: The Very Idea! by James Fetzer, and Concept Combination and the Origins of Complex Cognition by Liane Gabora and Kirsty Kitto (search). With many good papers, Liz Swan went on, joined by Andy Winters, to edit a special 2013 issue of Biosemiotics (6/3) with the same title, also reviewed herein.

Tarlaci, Sultan, ed. NeuroQuantology: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Neuroscience and Quantum Physics. www.neuroquantology.com. There is another universe next door if we could just imagine and find its key. Our perennial, historic wisdom is founded upon a mirror refraction between microcosmic human and a numinous macrocosm. A recent contribution may be such papers as published this European journal, accessible in full at this site, which try to express and qualify such an accord in terms of nascent scientific frontiers. For a good example, see Francisco Di Biase above. But a need remains to explain its unfamiliar terms, like the journal title, to move beyond the particle physics paradigm, (see Brian Josephson’s attempt) and to be able to communicate these enlightenments to a wider audience.

Welcome to the "NeuroQuantology", a new journal designed to bring to you a critical analysis of the best of the world neuroscience and quantum physics literature, written by neuroscientist and physicist. NeuroQuantology is a journal dedicated to supporting the interdisciplinary exploration of the nature of quantum physics and its relation to the nervous system. NeuroQuantology publishes material relevant to that exploration from the perspectives afforded by the disciplines of cognitive science, philosophy, psychology, quantum physics, neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

Taube, Mieczyslaw and Klaus Leenders. The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence. Singapore: World Scientific, 1998. An exploration of cosmic to human evolution in terms of the ascent of cognitive qualities and their knowledge content. In its emergent course, the universe creates life, which breeds biotic information processing and cerebral ramification leading on to a global sentience potentially able to care for and protect the planet from which it has arisen.

Tegmark, Max. Consciousness as a State of Matter. arXiv:1401.1219. The MIT polyphysicist author of Our Mathematical Universe (2014) condenses many themes from that opus to muse that sentient self-awareness in and of a scintillating cosmos ought to be appreciated as a further state of matter. As the Abstract cites, by way of compounding information and its coherent integration, life proceeds to quicken, and awaken. To the five principles mentioned is then added an Autonomy claim: A conscious system has substantial dynamics and independence. A popular version is Solid, Liquid, Consciousness in the New Scientist, April 12, 2014.

We examine the hypothesis that consciousness can be understood as a state of matter, "perceptronium", with distinctive information processing abilities. We explore five basic principles that may distinguish conscious matter from other physical systems such as solids, liquids and gases: the information, integration, independence, dynamics and utility principles. If such principles can identify conscious entities, then they can help solve the quantum factorization problem: why do conscious observers like us perceive the particular Hilbert space factorization corresponding to classical space (rather than Fourier space, say), and more generally, why do we perceive the world around us as a dynamic hierarchy of objects that are strongly integrated and relatively independent? Tensor factorization of matrices is found to play a central role, and our technical results include a theorem about Hamiltonian separability (defined using Hilbert-Schmidt superoperators) being maximized in the energy eigenbasis. Our approach generalizes Giulio Tononi's integrated information framework for neural-network-based consciousness to arbitrary quantum systems, and we find interesting links to error-correcting codes, condensed matter criticality, and the Quantum Darwinism program, as well as an interesting connection between the emergence of consciousness and the emergence of time. (arXiv)

Theise, Neil and Menas Kafatos. Sentience Everywhere: Complexity Theory, Panpsychism & the Role of Sentience in Self-Organization of the Universe. Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research. 4/4, 2013. Veteran visionaries Theise, an Albert Einstein College of Medicine physician and Kafatos, a Chapman University systems physicist, (search both) contend, if to think about it, that mindfulness ought to possess a primordial cosmic source, from which aware, knowledgable qualities can arise from atom to human. A prime reason is the presence of autopoietic systems everywhere, whose self-making processes are ultimately cognitive in kind.

Philosophical understandings of consciousness divide into emergentist positions (when the universe is sufficiently organized and complex it gives rise to consciousness) vs. panpsychism (consciousness pervades the universe). A leading emergentist position derives from autopoietic theory of Maturana and Varela: to be alive is to have cognition, one component of which is sentience. Here, reflecting autopoietic theory, we define sentience as: sensing of the surrounding environment, complex processing of information that has been sensed, (i.e. processing mechanisms defined by characteristics of a complex system), and generation of a response. Further, complexity theory, points to all aspects of the universe comprising “systems of systems.” Bringing these themes together, we find that sentience is not limited to the living, but present throughout existence. Thus, a complexity approach shifts autopoietic theory from an emergentist to a panpsychist position and shows that sentience must be inherent in all structures of existence across all levels of scale. (Abstract)

Figure 1: The universe as self-organizing, complex “systems of systems” in which sentience is identifiable at all levels of scale from the quantum foam up through living (autopoietic) beings. (384) Finally, we may also ask and perhaps answer the question: what are the minimal criteria for the smallest entities emerging from the quantum foam to be able to self-organize into to the larger scale universe? Interactivity would be a baseline necessity, without which self-organization could not take place. We may, therefore, further specify that this quantum-level “sentience” is simply another way to describe the inescapable interactivity at these minimum levels of scale, without which self-organization would not follow. It is thus sentience itself – partly defined by interactivity and quenched disorder –that is the minimal criterion for self-assembly of the universe into larger scale structures, including those which are functionally adaptive (i.e. “alive”), capable of sense making and perhaps, ultimately, of being consciously self aware. (387)

Tibika, Francoise. Molecular Consciousness: Why the Universe is Aware of Our Presence. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 2013. This worldwide sourcesite attempts to offer an inclusive spectrum of suitable contributions beyond the mainstream. This present volume could represent an alternative woman’s wisdom of an animate, sensate cosmos which the olden male machine cannot allow. The author has stellar credentials with a doctorate in chemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she now is a researcher at its Institute of Chemistry. Francoise is also steeped in the Kabbalist wisdom of the Israeli seer Colette Aboulker-Muscat (1908-2003). By these clear lights, biochemical and microbial realms are suffused with their own relative sentience, ever engaged in conversations. While standard science eschews such anthropomorphism, in nature’s perennial reality one can not project enough from our own lives for this is the great secret and correspondence of a Human Universe.

The molecules of living organisms are in constant communication, storing and transmitting information both at the intracellular level as well as across vast distances. Revealing the intimate connections between mind and matter, Françoise Tibika explains that conscious communication exists all the way down to the very molecules of which we--and the universe--are made. Using the fundamental laws of thermodynamics to support her argument, as well as modern scientific research in quantum physics and molecular biology, Tibika explores how each imperishable atom of the universe is intrinsically linked with all other atoms through their memories and the information they carry. She shows not only how each atom of your being is part of the greater whole of the universe but also how your thoughts, feelings, and state of mind are profoundly related to the activity of each of your molecules. Exploring the concrete manifestations of this molecular consciousness, such as intuition, Tibika reveals how, through effecting conscious change at the molecular level, our actions have far-reaching significance in a universe that is not blind to our presence. (Publisher)

Tononi, Giulio. Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul. New York: Pantheon, 2012. Due in August, the University of Wisconsin neuropsychologist and founder of the “integrated information theory” of knowing sentience offers an allegorical entry to the these deeper sources of our aware vision.

We would have to go back to Gödel, Escher, Bach to find even the hint of a precedent for this innovative, genre-bending book in which we accompany an elderly scientist, Galileo, on a journey in search of consciousness. His journey has three parts, each with a different guide. In the first part, accompanied by a scientist who resembles Francis Crick, he learns why certain parts of the brain are important and not others, and why consciousness fades with sleep. In the second part, when his companion seems to be named Alturi (Galileo is hard of hearing; his companion's name is actually Alan Turing), he sees how what we know about consciousness might coalesce into a theory of consciousness. In the third part, accompanied by a bearded man who can only be Charles Darwin, he meditates on how consciousness is an evolving, developing, ever-deepening awareness of ourselves in history and culture. (Publisher)

Tononi, Giulio and Christof Koch. Consciousness: Here, There but Not Everywhere. arXiv:1405.7089. After a decade of thought and research, the University of Wisconsin and Allen Institute for Brain Science neuroscientists post a summary statement on this phenomenal occurrence for both its cerebral and evolutionary aspects. As the Abstract details, our aware sentience can now be understood to arise from and be supported by a relative knowledge content. Furthermore, as animal studies aver, gradated degrees of informed cognition and sensory acumen can be traced through life’s procession from the nematodes. By this synthesis, the long materialist or physicalist phase whereof mindful subjectivity is ephemeral can at last be set aside. While not a panpsychism, by this theory “consciousness is an intrinsic, fundamental property of reality.” This 21st century conclusion, aided by global collaborations, is seen to resolve and affirm intuitions from Plato to Teilhard.

The science of consciousness has made great strides by focusing on the behavioral and neuronal correlates of experience. However, correlates are not enough if we are to understand even basic neurological fact; nor are they of much help in cases where we would like to know if consciousness is present: patients with a few remaining islands of functioning cortex, pre-term infants, non-mammalian species, and machines that are rapidly outperforming people at driving, recognizing faces and objects, and answering difficult questions. To address these issues, we need a theory of consciousness that specifies what experience is and what type of physical systems can have it. Integrated Information Theory (IIT) does so by starting from conscious experience via five phenomenological axioms of existence, composition, information, integration, and exclusion. From these it derives five postulates about the properties required of physical mechanisms to support consciousness.

The theory provides a principled account of both the quantity and the quality of an individual experience, and a calculus to evaluate whether or not a particular system of mechanisms is conscious and of what. IIT explains a range of clinical and laboratory findings, makes testable predictions, and extrapolates to unusual conditions. The theory vindicates some panpsychist intuitions - consciousness is an intrinsic, fundamental property, is graded, is common among biological organisms, and even some very simple systems have some. However, unlike panpsychism, IIT implies that not everything is conscious, for example group of individuals or feed forward networks. In sharp contrast with widespread functionalist beliefs, IIT implies that digital computers, even if their behavior were to be functionally equivalent to ours, and even if they were to run faithful simulations of the human brain, would experience next to nothing. (Abstract)

Torey, Zoltan. The Crucible of Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. A theory of primal mind rising through evolution to embodied self-awareness so that it may intentionally guide its further development.

In Chapter 10, ‘Between the quantum and the cosmos,’ all the earlier insights are drawn together into a meaningful perspective. In this perspective the conscious mind is an indispensable component of cosmic unfolding, an important constituent for the explication of the universe on the micro- and macro-scale. (21)

Toward, a Science of Consciousness 2006. www.consciousness.arizona.edu/tucson2006. . This biannual convocation in the Southwest springtime covers the wide gamut of personal and cosmic sentience. All the abstracts are conveniently posted on this site. Our brief sample gives some idea of their reach and essence.

Davies, Paul. Life and Consciousness as Emergent Phenomena. Advances in cosmology suggest a link between information, complexity and the age of the universe. This development could remove a fundamental obstacle to strong emergence in nature. The claim that life and consciousness are emergent phenomena exhibiting novel properties and principles is often criticized for being in conflict with causal closure at the microscopic level. I argue that advances in cosmological theory suggesting an upper bound on the information processing capacity of the universe may resolve this conflict for systems exceeding a certain threshold of complexity. A numerical estimate of the threshold for life places it at the level of a small protein. The calculation supports the contention that life is an emergent phenomenon.

Tononi, Giulio. An Information Integration Theory of Consciousness.
Clinical observations have established that certain parts of the brain are essential for consciousness whereas other parts are not. For example, different areas of the cerebral cortex contribute different modalities and submodalities of consciousness, whereas the cerebellum does not, despite having even more neurons. It is also well established that consciousness depends on the way the brain is functioning. For example, consciousness is much reduced during slow wave sleep and generalized seizures, even though the levels of neural activity are comparable or higher than in wakefulness. To understand why this is so, empirical observations on the neural correlates of consciousness need to be complemented by a principled theoretical approach. A principled approach is provided by the information integration theory of consciousness. The theory claims that consciousness corresponds to a system's capacity to integrate information, and proposes a way to measure such capacity.

Trewavas, Anthony and Frantisek Baluska. The Ubiquity of Consciousness. EMBO Reports. 12/12, 2011. As reported across this site, for example Microbial Colonies and Animal Awareness, much recent research finds intelligent cognitive and communicative abilities to grace life’s flora and fauna kingdoms from mammalian to bacteria, insects, plants, and even RNA networks (Attwater). Based upon this support, in a journal where many commentaries stress the need to (re)unite physics and biology (Danchin) senior University of Edinburgh and University of Bonn botanists make a case for an essential inclusion of mindful sentience. See also Baluska with Gunther Witzany (Online October 2012) about the need to discard old machine models for vital organisms.

Tuszynski, Jack, ed. The Emerging Physics of Consciousness. Berlin: Springer, 2006. This eclectic collection offers theories and speculations about aware, knowing, proactive mind, especially as it might spring manifestly and sequentially from a conducive quantum source. Typical chapters are Consciousness and Logic in a Quantum-Computing Universe by astrophysicist Paolo Zizzi, Quantum Cosmology and the Hard Problem of the Conscious Brain by Chris King which links particle/wave and gender complementarity, and Life, Catalysis, and Excitable Media as founded on an autopoietic self-similarity per Christopher Davia, along with papers by Alwyn Scott, Stuart Hameroff, Henry Stapp, Nancy Woolf, and others. A pyrotechnic entry to an alternative, vibrantly sentient awakening cosmos in contrast to an inorganic, insensate morbidity.

Then we conjecture that the early universe and our mind share the same organization, encompass the same quantum information, and undergo similar conscious experiences. In other words, consciousness might have a cosmic origin, with roots in the preconsciousness ingrained directly from the Planck time. (459, Paolo Zizzi)

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