The Theory of Conscious Particles (CP)
This crazy theory has been refined over the years. Many well-known journals and authors have rejected it. Scientists are usually interested in it .. until they realize some of the potential implications. Among non-scientific people, about half like it. Some even claim to "instinctively" know it's true. Personally, I don't know if it is; probably not; have to wait for the experimental results. My purpose here is only to show it makes sense, it's an interesting idea.
Let me get one frequently-asked-question out of the way: "Why do you care? Why do you want to prove this, or at least get others to agree it makes sense? Why is it so important to you that .. (etc)?" The answer is, in a nutshell, as follows. If by some crazy chance this theory happened to be true, AND it was proven, it would be worth a Nobel prize, and more: money, women, fame, etc. Of course, it's probably not true; still, I can imagine it catching on as a new-age fad or novelty. Maybe I could get a few bucks out of it: sell it to the National Enquirer. So you see, my motives are crass and materialistic. I don't want to convert you. This is not a new religion.
Another frequently-thrown-accusation is: "It's just mysticism, can't be proven or disproven, it's like the Tooth Fairy or something." All I can say is: I've provided details in many different areas: physiology, physics, etc. I have plenty more. If you can't specifically disagree with any of those details, then at least admit that CP is a lot more compatible with reality than most fantasies.
The First Axiom of CP: Subatomic particles are conscious.
In response to the faq, "How can anything that small be conscious?", David Bohm says in "The Undivided Universe", 1994, p. 37:
"The fact that the particle is moving under its own energy, but being guided by the information in the quantum field, suggests that an electron or any other elementary particle has a complex and subtle inner structure .... To make this suggestion yet more plausible, we note that between the shortest distances now measurable in physics (of the order of 10^-16 cm) and the shortest distances in which current notions of space-time have any meaning which is of the order of 10^-33 cm, there is a vast range of scale ... comparable to that which exists between our own size and that of the elementary particle. Moreover, since the vacuum is generally regarded as full ... it may further be suggested that ultimately the energy of this particle comes from this source."
The sense of self or "I" resides within a particle. It has a "one-track mind", aware of only one thing at a time: the information in the quantum field (which can include many components). It "focusses" or "decides" within this awareness, by willfully adjusting the eigenvalues of the components of the wave or quantum information field (so to speak).
The Second Axiom of CP: Only subatomic particles are conscious.
Normally we speak of a live human body or brain (which is a large group of particles, maybe 10^30) as being conscious. But apparent macro-world consciousness is actually due to the massive large-scale cooperation of independently conscious particles enabling one particle to "control" or "speak for" the whole.
The Corollary of CP: If you, or any part of you, is conscious, it's a particle.
The mystical experience consists of isolating your understanding of self to just one particle. (I mean, according to CP; probably none of this is actually true, of course: it's just interesting.)
A particle is pictured as an actual little physical object: the fabled homunculus. Per hypothesis, it can travel faster than light (called "hopping"), although presumably it often hangs around one vicinity (eg. your brain), or even sits still, I suppose. It follows an algorithm:
1.1 Particle Algorithm
Step 1. Figure out possible paths open to you.
Step 2. Communicate with particles you would encounter.
Step 3. Negotiate possible paths with them.
Step 4. Select a path (make a decision).
You feel the communicated quantum information directly as sensations, qualia. When you send commands (decisions) it feels like a focussing of attention. Of course I'm leaving out a lot of details. Selecting a path with 100% focus is the projection operator that "collapses the wave function" .. step 4 can take place non-locally, a billion years later, as shown in experiments with distant stars acting as a gravity lens.
Inside a particle, there is short-term memory, at least for each alternative to a not-yet-made decision; but there may or may not be long-term "on-board" memory. If you remember "previous lives", that would imply not only that the particle has memory, but also it can live in multiple bodies (reincarnation). If so, you might be one of those who "instinctively" feel CP is true. Personally I don't remember anything except this life (dimly).
A thought is analogous to Planck's constant: a unit of internal particle action, concerning incoming qualia, decisions, memories, etc. A thought is pre-verbal: a single, instant thing. In language it might mean: "book is red", "open door", "what's his name?", "I'll take that job", or could be much more complex. Depending on how much "processing", it can take more or less "external" real-world time; but internally (per hypothesis) it's always one "instant".
Remember, I'm not addressing how the particle comes up with these thoughts, only hypothesizing it does so. Similarly I'm not addressing how it senses the color red, or is conscious in the first place. The Axiom of CP "answers" all those questions.
2. PARTICLE IN A BRAIN
The brain is analogous to a parallel computer with virtually infinite computing resource nodes. Software processing language is a good analogy for brain operations; you are the "executive" or "main" routine. You cooperate with, or command, a lot of other particles (like subroutines) in your brain and body. A typical arm gesture, say, is probably mediated consciously by a very large number of them. You communicate directly with about 7 or so at a time. These are major "chakras", or subordinate particles which "report" directly to you: if you're the commander in chief, they're the generals. They're in charge of things like autonomic functions, vision processing, an arm (or both), memory, language, etc. Given the ubiquity of particles, there may be two or three, or many, redundant chakras doing the same job: to take over if one is lost, to average out errors.
Just one example: learning a piano piece. First, you might concentrate on your left hand, to get that part down. As you consciously go through the motions, there is at least one chakra watching everything you sense and do, memorizing it, and eager to do it himself. By repeating it a few times, you can clear his immediate memory (keys) of other things. Then when you remove attention, he keeps going on his own (if you're lucky). Now you can concentrate on the right hand. Later on, if you get nervous while playing and think about your left hand, to make sure you don't make a mistake: that's when you will make a mistake, by getting in the chakra's way.
2.2 Brain Memory
Apparently most, if not all, long-term memory is stored in the brain. It's much like a computer .. I have lots of speculative details; it's easy to show that it could work. One of the most fruitful areas for scientific experiment is brain studies. It might prove or disprove CP quickly.
Language is, according to the canonical CP model, "the thought of the brain", not of the particle. It's the tool we use as humans to communicate our internal thoughts to other humans. As naked particles, we can communicate them directly, pre-language. You send a thought to your brain's language processor (or "publish" or "broadcast" it). The language guy figures out the corresponding stream of words, whose normal purpose is to be sent to the vocal apparatus, and out to other humans. Even though there's no other humans around, the language processor keeps translating thoughts into words, and we (the central particle, or "mindon") often keep paying attention, producing the brain's narrative "thought".
Human interactions are the same as regular particle interactions, but at the macro level. I've already been using the concepts "communication" and "information", from human society to describe what particles do. Human interactions are analyzable with suitably interpreted particle mathematics.
There are many more related topics: relativity, cosmology, philosophy, psychology (eg, Multiple Personality Disorder), evolution, (quantum) computers, inside the particle, outside society, experiments, and so forth. There's also a lot to speculate about, for instance folk psychology and reincarnation. I hope I've given you the basic flavor of my theory: Particles are conscious; You are one.
APPENDIX A: TESTING
I've got a lot to say about testing, but it's not all that convincing ..
one can try to track, trap or trace the particles. This is a very good area but I'll skip it since I need to study it more. A lot of neurological research has happened in the last decade that I'm not aware of.
For instance, MPD patients. According to CP those are multiple mindons which for some reason are refusing to share information. Presumably a cure would be effected if you could determine why. Neuroses or fetishes happen when a chakra gets "willful" or "egotistical", so the cure would involve working directly with that chakra. Many conditions can be analyzed with the particle model, and therapy approaches devised. If the approach were successful, that would constitute corroborative evidence. I don't have specific recommendations.
Acupuncture may involve the routes taken by chakras. It would be a good "test" to analyze it from that perspective. Also, my theory says that with the right focussing you should be able to, for instance, slow your heart rate, stop hiccups, and in general affect autonomous reactions. That would be another area to investigate.
It's not exactly a test, but I can explain anything in philo in terms of the CP approach (called "CP analysis" or "Algorism"). For instance ideal forms, categories, ethics, and so forth. The close fit with existing concepts makes it very comfortable as an analogy, a model, for the human mind.
According to the theory, our existence in society is mappable to the submolecular existence. The necessary transformation is: information is the wave function. Thus specific statistical predictions can be made about trends in society. That's sort of an advanced topic .. good statistical fits are obtained.
folk psychology, evolution, cosmology, etc.
It's interesting to consider what experiments might be done to prove whether particles are conscious. Really, the problem is: they already act conscious, but you're so used to that fact, u don't see it as evidence. Beyond that I have some wild guess-experiments if you're interested, called photon training, null measurement overload and spontaneous collapse.
APPENDIX B: Quotes and Commentary
Here are quotes from Consciousness Studies authors. My commentary is indicated by a dash.
*** Dave Chalmers
Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3), 1995, pp. 200-219
Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness
Perhaps the most popular "extra ingredient" of all is quantum mechanics (e.g. Hameroff 1994). The attractiveness of quantum theories of consciousness may stem from a Law of Minimization of Mystery: consciousness is mysterious and quantum mechanics is mysterious, so maybe the two mysteries have a common source.
- CP postulates precisely this.
Quantum phenomena have some remarkable functional properties, such as nondeterminism and nonlocality. It is natural to speculate that these properties may play some role in the explanation of cognitive functions, such as random choice and the integration of information, and this hypothesis cannot be ruled out a priori.
- above, I sketched the correspondence: information is the wave function.
But when it comes to the explanation of experience, quantum processes are in the same boat as any other. The question of why these processes should give rise to experience is entirely unanswered.
- True for all quantum theories except one: mine. The only obvious way to account for experience is the homunculus. The obvious way to integrate that with quantum mechanics is to realize the particle is the homunculus.
I suggest that a theory of consciousness should take experience as fundamental ... alongside mass, charge, and space-time. If we take experience as fundamental, then we can go about the business of constructing a theory of experience.
*** Keith Sutherland
Synchronous Oscillations and the Emperor's New Clothers
Homuphobia in the Cartesian theatre
Tom Clark recently drew my attention to Thomas Metzinger's chapter in Conscious Experience ... He begins with an outline of our "folk psychological" experience, which certainly seems to be centred around a phenomenal I, the experiencer. But if you look inside the brain you can't find any little green men and this has given rise to a fear of homunculi, agents and Cartesian theatres which I will refer to as homuphobia. All this has resulted in various attempts to build a bottom-up theory, at any cost.
- Keith Sutherland is a "homuphile" as I am. "Folk psychology" is centered around the phenomenal "I" for the good reason that it's a very plausible explanation of consciousness. The eyes, for instance, get processed by the brain into a little image, which is then run like a movie in front of the homunculus inside your brain, sitting at the top of the spine. Similarly, I postulate a "vision subsystem chakra" which encapsulates the vision processing into qualia (at some high frequency) and outputs this information to you, the homunculus particle, as its contribution to your awareness wave. It's just another homunculus model, except with a quantum mechanics twist. All homunculus models share one desirable feature: they actually explain subjective experience. All non-homunculus models have one central failing: they don't. It used to be objected that none were found in the brain, but by asserting they're merely particles, I remove that objection. By the way many other people have also postulated very tiny homunculi, including Liebniz, Democritus, and Eric Wallich.
Consciousness Explained ,1991, p. 2 28 (as quoted by David Pratt)
...a cobbled-together collection of specialist brain circuits, which ... conspire together to produce a ... more or less well-designed virtual machine ... By yoking these independently evolved specialist organs together in common cause, and thereby giving their union vastly enhanced powers, this virtual machine, this software of the brain, performs a sort of internal political miracle: It creates a virtual captain of the crew ...
- the captain of the crew is not virtual, instead it's a particle. Dennett goes on to discuss "multiple virtual captains" which would correspond, probably, to willful chakras.
*** Bernard J. Baars
A Thoroughly Empirical Approach To Consciousness
PSYCHE, 1(6), August 1994
You're not aware...of the feeling of your clothing, the quality of the ambient light, that monotonous background noise, or any other constant, highly predictable stimulus.
- they're all being actively processed by some chakra.
... I have presented an integrative theory called Global Workspace (GW) Theory, a broad architectural notion of the nervous system in which conscious events are viewed as mental representations that have at least three necessary properties (a) they are global, so that their contents are disseminated throughout the nervous system;
- In CP-land, you send your thoughts and conscious events as outputs to many other chakras in the nervous system. They are also passed along to other sub-particles.
(b) they are internally consistent, because conflicting processes will compete each other out of consciousness;
- No, conscious events are whole and fundamental, not a result of competition or anything else. However genetic or darwinian algorithms can be implemented easily enough with conscious particles, and may well be used for some purposes.