Mind and Reality

The Integration of Reality, Mind, Epistemology, and Enlightenment

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....... Let me immediately point out this article presents a general theory of mind, that is it addresses the essential nature of all organismic minds from the simplest to the most complex, not just the mind of humans. All organismic minds function in an essentially similar manner in facilitating the function of organisms in their worlds even though there is quite obviously a huge range of variation in individual types of mind. This is quite clear simply from the physiology and development of the brain and nervous system which bears many commonalities, and it is clear as well in the function of mind as we shall see. By stepping back and considering the most general case we are able to shed valuable light on the essential nature of all minds.

....... Also in my usage Mind includes all the informational aspects of any organism. That is it includes all of the nervous and hormonal and other signaling and homeostatic processes of whatever nature that occur within living organisms at all levels in addition to purely brain functions. It makes sense to consider these as a whole since their functional operation is always tightly integrated into a unified information and processing network which can be thought of as 'operating' the organism.

....... It is clear that this usage must include the signaling and feedback systems of all organisms including those of single celled organisms, viruses and plants, and by extension even applies to inorganic feedback systems as well such as those of natural evolutionary selection and those cycles which stabilize the planetary climate and biosphere. The point is to understand that the brain associated minds of more complex organisms are a natural outgrowth of these simpler systems all of which express a pervasive flow of information in nature which in turn mediates the production of causally related information. The universe can be seen as essentially a continual flow of information with many feedback loops. Brain associated minds are a highly developed special case of this universal phenomena.

....... It is unfortunate that the term 'theory of mind' is currently misused in cognitive studies to refer to how one mind conceives of other minds. This completely misses the fundamental question of what are minds and how do they represent reality. This fundamental question is what we will refer to as 'the real theory of mind' and is the subject of this page. Hopefully cognitive studies will eventually revert to this proper usage and address the fundamental question.

....... This is the question that is really at the heart of all questions. How do we know the world and how accurate is that knowledge? I'll outline a theory which is I think convincing, elegant and relatively complete, and is consistent with my other writings on consciousness, cosmology, Zen, enlightenment and the nature of illusion, and quantum reality. The beauty of this theory is that is provides a single elegant framework in which natural philosophy (the study of the nature of reality), cognitive studies, information theory, epistemology and even the nature of enlightenment are all seen as natural and integral aspects of a single theory.

....... Though the theory I present here is written in English, one could argue that the best theory of mind would be a working computational model, or better many such models in general purpose autonomous robotic organisms, each encoding a different variety of mind. The success of any such organism within its environment would clearly prove the correctness of the theory of mind encoded into it. Functionally it would constitute an incontrovertibly successful theory of mind, whether or not it shared common lower order structure with the minds of biological organisms. I've done considerable coding of such minds in virtual environments and this theory incorporates a number of insights from that work.

....... Let me point out at the outset that this article does not pretend to be a full theory of mind that explains everything about this very complex subject. That will take years if it can ever be fully accomplished. What it attempts to do is cut to the heart of what mind is and how it relates to reality and epistemology. To that end I address primarily those topics most salient to that discussion.

....... This article should be read in the context of my earlier work on the nature of consciousness http://EdgarLOwen.com/HardProblem.pdf which addressed the so called Hard Problem of consciousness, how conscious arises from a 'physical' world. This paper by contrast addresses the Easy Problems of consciousness, that is how the mind works and how it stands in relationship to reality and epistemology. It should be noted that what I called 'experience' in single quotes in that earlier paper is now referred to as simply xperience in this work.

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.......Minds are computational systems associated with living organisms which direct the behaviors of those organisms in their environments in response to inputs from that environment. Thus any organism which exhibits directed behavior in response to environmental inputs can be thought of as having a mind in this broad sense, that the organism as a whole directs its behavior within its environment in response to inputs from that environment. This includes essentially all organisms. The existence of a brain or even a CNS is not a requirement of mind in this sense. Obviously there is then an enormous spectrum of minds from simple organized biochemical systems directed towards specific ends of survival and reproduction (viruses and bacteria) to minds which also include large and complex brains such as those of humans.

....... The important unifying point in this perspective is that all varieties of mind serve essentially the same evolutionary function, that of survival and reproduction of the organism within its environment. Thus mind is seen as an evolutionary product. It survives and develops because it increases the survivability of organisms over purely random behavior which could never be survivable.

....... Now the profound implication of this is that for mind to increase survivability of organisms within environments mind must in fact be understood as creating an approximate model of the external reality, the organism's environment, within the organism itself, and that model must be a sufficiently accurate model of reality for processing of that model to facilitate the organism's survival in the actual external world that is modeled. This is the foundation of all epistemology, that if the organism's internal model of reality was not an accurate representation of external reality in some sense, that organism would not survive, thus the internal models of reality of all organisms, including humans, are in fact at least partially accurate representations of the real actual external physical reality.

....... On the other hand we know full well there are innumerable ways in which internal models of reality are not accurate representations of reality. All such reality models are clearly organism dependent as they are clearly structures of particular organisms and thus totally dependent on the various biological structures of particular organisms. Every organism's model of reality is a system of that organism and is thus organism dependent. Another way of stating this is that all world views, all world models, are observer dependent.

....... Thus it is clear that the world any organism believes it lives within is entirely a construct within its own mind. Every organism lives not in the real world, but in a mental world of its own making. However that mental world must share some correspondence with the real observerless external world. The crucial insight here is that what is shared is dynamic logical structure (in a sense to be clarified below) and dynamic logical structure alone. All the apparent qualities and substance of things is added by the observer's mind. They do not exist in the actual real external observerless world. All that we get from that external world is its dynamic logical structure, and even that is an observer dependent approximation based on sensory sampling of the minutest fraction of the richness of the actual reality. But yet, even so, that gross approximation does successfully perpetuate the day to day survival of organisms within a world they have only the slightest actual experience of.

....... Now what this implies is that the real physical observerless world is essentially only those dynamic logical forms, a time progression of inherent physical algorithms we refer to as 'the laws of nature'. All qualities and substance (other than the substance of being itself by virtue of existence within the present moment, what I call ontological energy) are added by individual observers according to the particularities of their own structures.

....... Thus, in the case of humans, there are human math and logic which are now seen as an approximation to the actual physical math and logic that exists as the laws of nature which are what physical reality is and in fact all that physical reality is. The dynamic laws of nature continually operating as clock time passes through the ontological reality of the present moment are precisely what observerless physical reality consists of, no more, no less.

....... Now every organism will have its own particular approximation of these laws incorporated into the logical structure of its own internal model of its world. But humans and other organisms alike, these are all organism dependent approximations of the actual physical laws of nature. Thus they will be more accurate or less accurate representations of reality.

....... However the crux of all such organismic systems is what I call 'the logic of things', that is the essential 'common sense' level logical and causal relationships that hold among 'things', and more importantly the logical rules that govern the logic of things. It is absolutely critical to understand to what extent these fundamental logical rules are common among all organisms and thus also must hold in the physical world as well. It seems to me there are no exceptions to the basic logic of the universe - that the same few basic rules seem to hold throughout, and thus that they are in fact a fundamental structure of the physical universe embedded in it at every point.

....... The 'things' that logic operates upon are without doubt defined, that is logically represented in terms of their properties, very differently by different organisms, but the logic that holds among things seems common and shared by all, or rather never contradicted by any as many simpler organisms no doubt have much simpler processing systems that lack some aspects of this common logical system.

....... In the remainder of this article I'll expand on these ideas, provide the reasoning behind them, and demonstrate how they all weave a unified consistent whole which successfully integrates theories of reality, mind and epistemology and leads to a new understanding of the nature of illusion and enlightenment.

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....... 1. Minds are intentional computational systems that construct and process an internal cognitive model of an organism's environment, both external and internal environments, so as to generate actions within the model which are in turn translated to actions within its environment. The world reality which every organism believes it lives within, including even the perceived reality of its own self, actually exists entirely within its internal mind model of that external reality.

....... 2. This cognitive world model is thus completely dependent on the organism's own biological and cognitive structure. It is an extremely sparse and highly approximated sample of the actual total reality of the local external world filtered and restructured by the biological and cognitive structures of the organism.

....... 3. The particular structure of every organism's mind model is the evolutionary result of selection for the generation of appropriate and generally successful actions for that type of organism within its environment, most notably actions which promote its survival and reproduction.

....... 4. This model applies to all organismic minds, of which human minds are just one particular though special case. By extension it also applies to all computational systems, most particularly those of robots which can be seen as functionally analogous in their deep structure in that they are designed to operate by a set of consistent logical rules on internal world models to generate a set of successful actions in their external environments. Each type of mind studied can help shed light on the others and enhance the general understanding of mind.

....... 5. Mind as we define it includes not just the functions we normally associate with the brain, but the entire computational and control system of the entire organism. It includes the entire informational structure of the organism as a whole including such things as the systems which control glucose levels and dilation of capillaries. This is crucial to bear in mind as the theory unfolds.

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....... Each mind, or mind type, must be analyzed as a self sufficient whole relative to how it interacts with the external reality of the environment in which it exists and with which it must interact so as to effectively function to optimize its survival. To accomplish this it must contain a number of functional structures. The functional structure of mind refers to the systems processing structure of the mind, its cognitive organizational structure, not its biological or neural organizational structure which is not addressed in this paper. It includes:

....... 1. Perceptual inputs which are the highly selective organism dependent extraction of a minute subset of signals from the external and internal worlds and their reformulation into meaningful relational structures which are input to and used to update the cognitive world model.

....... The immediate functional necessity for any new organism is to get an operative mind model up and running as soon as possible which is accurate enough to optimize its chances of surviving. This requires accurate perceptual input sampling of the important aspects of raw sensory input from the environment so that the process of building the cognitive model can begin. There is of course quite a lot of building of the cognitive model in the womb or egg but it really kicks into high gear when the baby is born.

....... We won't consider the many complexities of sensory input and perception, or sensory coordination and motor control here as it's a difficult subject being best addressed by robotics, and in any case the details are not important to our discussion. The important point is that sensory input and its filtering via perception does not produce and is not intended to produce an exhaustively complete view of external reality. What it is intended to do and does very well is to continually sample reality and specifically extract those very few aspects of reality which are most likely to be important to the organism's survival and functioning. Thus what we perceive is never anywhere like the totality of reality, but a minute sample consisting of just those aspects of reality mind judges are needed to be perceived at any particular moment. The vast totality of reality always escapes us.

....... The information we store in our cognitive model is, and can only be, the minutest fraction of what is actually occurring in our local environment. Thus it is the process that selects that minute sample, as opposed to all other possible samplings, that becomes overwhelmingly important.

....... Now the salient data structures that are preferentially extracted are those which will most likely affect our survival and reproduction. And our cognitive models are organized around effectively processing these aspects of input. E.g. all organisms are particularly good at extracting the identity of other organism types within certain appropriate size ranges from raw input and efficiently determining whether that organism has properties (size, coloration, behaviors, direction of attention, odors, vocalizations) that indicate it's probably a predator, prey or neither.

....... Likewise organisms are equally proficient at extracting thingness identities and properties from raw data that enable the recognition of mating opportunities and cues to stages in the instinctual mating routines of their species.

....... Another example is the essential ability to extract food source identities and conditions from property cues such as coloration, odor, taste, remembered location, remembered associations with rain or other seasonal or climatic conditions.

....... It is important to recognize that there are no things or properties or relationships in an organism's raw sensory data inputs. The actually reality of sensory input is a continuous raw ever changing flow of color, sound, odor and various types of feeling sensations. It is an enormously complex signal consisting of intermixed signals from all current sources. The signals as they fall in an undifferentiated complex on the entire exterior of the organism are the impingement of the actual external physical observerless reality onto an organism or observer. They are in fact the real observerless reality at the point where the observer is located. At this point they are a conjoined mass of undifferentiated signals and it is up to the organism as observer to make what sense it can or finds useful of them. There those that are picked up by the sense organs, including the internal feelings of mind and body, are translated into raw sensory data by the sense organ and passed to the perceptual system. The organism does that by extracting useful information from the signal. Though of course the entire signal is information in the sense that it represents aspects of the events which produced it, from the observer's point of view most of it is inessential noise from which the useful information must be extracted.

....... Now depending on what organism at what stage of development is located at that observer point singularity, what information is extracted and how it is incorporated into the mind model may be vastly different. Each organism at that identical point in time and space would have a vastly different perception of that moment's events determined by the point of view of its particular world model. Thus every bit of that interpretation is added by the observer. It is not in the real world itself which is simply the raw undifferentiated physical signal mix.

....... Though the qualia produced in particular organism by the identical input will be unique to the organism there are aspects which will be common. What is common is some subset of the logic of things. For example the extraction of things and characteristics of things by which things are identified. A bird or chipmunk will certainly extract a far different set of data from the same raw input than a human, and many might well not even overlap or be common, but the extraction of things must assumed to be a common characteristic of the minds of all three species.

....... For example the peanuts I feed my chipmunks are no doubt characterized by very different properties by me and the chipmunks, but we both clearly include the thingness of peanuts in our cognitive world models. The characteristics by which I extract the identity of a peanut include such things as it being taken from a peanut container at the supermarket, its small size, and many others including information I've read about peanuts. The chipmunk categorizes it as a medium sized object that can be taken from Edgar's fingers, and its odor is probably one of the most important properties of its peanutness. Whereas for me its physical form is probably relatively much more important. The actual qualia of the peanut will also probably be quite different as the olfactory and tactile and taste sensations, not to mention the mental emotional interpretation of such and its consumption, of the chipmunk are likely quite different than mine, even though we might assume some minimal commonalities just due to basic similarities of biology.

....... 2. The cognitive world model which is a complex dynamic gross approximation model of the organism's world, both external and internal. This model consists of a logico-mathematical-grammatical encoded model of all the things in the world along with their properties and relationships. It is the total dynamic systems structure of the world as it is modeled in the organism's mind. It is mind's continually updated long term memory and is functionally analogous to a database containing a model of the entire reality of that organism.

....... This is the entire stored complex of an organism's model of the world. It is the organism's continuously updated memory of the world, both past and present, and expected future states as well, which includes not just raw factual data, but all of their interconnected structural relationships as well. Essentially it is the organism's dynamic database which is continually processed by and according to the other functional components of mind.

....... The essential element of this memory structure is the discrimination of individual things, all of which are described in terms of relations with other things in a vast interlocking network of connections. These things can be thought of as different types organized in various types of structures. Basically these are things represented as categories of properties including space and time location categories. That is what emerges as an individual real world object is internally represented as a consistent association of properties which largely move together through space and time. That is a consistent grouping of colors, vocalizations of the same size (allowing for proximity and spatial orientation), odors, etc. is grouped and represented as an individual real world object. This basic information structure is then expanded to cover associations between these groupings which are representations of relationships between objects. I believe this basic structure, that of storing consistent associations of any type of element perceptually discriminated from sensory input is the key structure of how mind stores its world model.

....... Of course there are many levels of complexity here to be revealed and that is a whole study in itself which I won't go into in any detail here. One of which is then the higher level of extraction of commonalities between associations and the adding of the commonality associations to the memory structure. Examples would be the extraction of the commonality of zebra from instances of zebra, or the commonality of number from instances of number. Another higher level overlay is the the application of extracted commonalities to individual instances as is required for abstract logical thought. An example would be inferring the expected behavior of a new zebra from the behavioral commonality extracted from other zebra associations and then applying it to this new zebra. When one analyzes the complexity of structure required for say a lion to successfully predate zebras it is clear such higher level complexity is present in the mind of the lion, as well as an enormous volume of well organized and dynamically updated associative data.

....... There is also clearly a special area of associations that describes the mind's current representation of its environment in the present moment. This portion of memory is continually updated near instantaneously as the world view changes with every movement of the eyes or new sound or odor. This is where most of the real time processing takes place. However that processing is always informed by extraction of relevant associations from the stored memory where representations of past states and events are combined into a logical structure which records the imputed causal network between associations and association types. It is the continual extraction of such causal logic and its application to similar associations in the representation of the present that allows intelligent rational decision making to occur with respect to an organism's current real world situation.

....... Again it is easy to speculate on how this memory storage area is structured, but very likely the best way to really understand what is necessary to reproduce the behavior of real biological organisms such as the lion is to program simulations that really work. If this is done with sufficient attention to all the little details required we can be confident that the structure of our simulation model is functionally equivalent with that of the mind of the lion. The ability to accurately reproduce behavior in both its high and low level cognitive detail is the real test of the accuracy of any theory of mind.

....... 3. Consciousness and self consciousness. In at least some organisms, such as humans and most likely many more to varying degrees, this cognitive model includes another discrete functional complex concerned with representing a high level and necessarily highly abbreviated representation of the processing of other areas of the cognitive model including to some degree its own. This is what we call self consciousness, the awareness of what is going on in our mind as we think and experience, rather than just the awareness of what is going on in our mind as if it were going on in the external world. This self consciousness provides a sort of quality control to the actions generated by the more automatic processing in which a final review and OK of actions according to higher level criteria is performed before they are put into action.

....... Of course in all organisms most of the processing of the cognitive model is always below the level of consciousness and occurs automatically according to more basic though very logical rules. However there is in all more complex organisms a large area that is conscious, that is the organism has awareness of the world it is living within, if only of course as part of its cognitive model. This consciousness or awareness provides a higher level coordination and valuation of states and activities of the organism and thus adds considerably to its adaptability to its environment.

....... 4. The instinctual imperatives which provide the fundamental directives that guide all an organism's actions. These purposeful motivators form a loose but fairly consistent hierarchy with the fundamental imperatives of survival and reproduction at its base. These subroutines give the organism its purpose and motivate the direction of all its daily activities.

....... It is important to understand that this is not the old outmoded notion of instinct as some robotic director of every action of non-human beings that still pervades popular thinking and even much of science. It is a huge mistake to believe that all the actions of animals other than humans (with the possible exception of a few species such as the great apes) are entirely instinctual. Most animal behavior is not instinctual, it is learned and intelligent, and there is simply no way neural software of the complexity necessary to constantly adapt actions to ever changing extremely complex detailed environments could be encoded beforehand in the mind. Even if it were possible it would make it impossible to adapt to environmental changes and species would die out over time. Environmental variation is simply much too complex for that to be feasible or survivable. Thus almost all the fine details of animal behaviors must be learned from experience from interacting with actual specific local environments, and to produce the fine tuning of behavior to very specific environmental details animals must be intelligent and must use involved and abstract reasoning as that is the only possible way they could generate the minutely adaptive behavior we see all the time in both human and non-human organisms. A more detailed exposition appears in Appendix A: Animal Minds.

....... So the basic motivational directives of animal and human behavior such as survival and reproduction are instinctual, but the enormously complex manner in which individual organisms carry out such behavior is learned. What to do, the basic imperatives of life, such as finding food and eating when hungry, is instinctual, but how to do it in any given circumstance is learned and decided by intelligent abstract thought processes.

....... Thus the instincts are functionally equivalent to the basic motivational subroutines necessary in robotic software to give a robot direction to its actions so as to be purposeful and meaningful. They can be thought of as the functional equivalent of such fundamental control software in biological organisms. Understanding what would be necessary in a robotic organism to duplicate the behavior of a biological one is always an extremely useful methodology. However one must not make the mistake of them assuming that higher level functional similarity requires the actual circuitry, the 'hardware' implementation, to be similar.

....... These core instinctual programs stand in a rough hierarchy the most basic of which are the survival instinct and the mating instinct. The survival instinct tends to drive and override every other actionable intent. This of course depends on the accurate assessment of threats to survival which may not always be accurate. This instinct is the instinct that appears common to all organismic life, and it is clear that is true because any type of organism born without it would not tend to survive.

....... There are a number of slightly higher level associated instincts which help to facilitate the survival instinct. The instincts to find and ingest food and evade predators are the two most basic and are common to all species.

....... Then there are associated instincts which are specific to certain groups of organism types such as the instinct to breathe among animals with lungs. Breathing is an absolutely necessary instinctual behavior that can not be over ridden by the conscious mind though its expression can be consciously modified. But it is impossible to stop breathing to death consciously. The instinct to breathe is much stronger than its conscious modulation. In general this includes all the innate ongoing processes necessary for survival. In a sense then we could include all of the homeostatic control processes of the bodies of any organism in our definition of instincts. These would include the innate valuation of odors and tastes as a measure of the edibility of food. They would also include such necessary instincts as urination and defecation even though these are modulated by conscious control as many instincts are.

....... Prime examples are the class of survival facilitating instincts that kick in at birth. An example is the instinct to suckle that mammalian babies are born with which facilitates their survival prior to being able to eat other food. Another is the instinct to bond with the mother of new born mammals and new hatched baby birds which obviously facilitates survival by keeping them close to the protective mother. The instinct to find and ingest food also manifests in baby birds as pecking at bite sized things in the world to test if they taste good in which case they are sampled.

....... Another good example is the instinct to immediately stand and then run at the birth of many hoofed animals. As soon as birth takes place the baby begins the instinctual process of learning how to coordinate to actualize that instinct. The instinct is the behavioral directive, but obviously there is learning necessary to effectively and efficiently gain the coordination of limbs and eyes to successfully accomplish it.

....... Other examples are the instinct to escape the egg when the time is right, and the instinct to walk, run or fly, and the rush towards the sea of baby turtles, and the return of salmon to spawn, of land animals to drink water and so on. The examples are too numerous to list, but one must always be careful to clearly distinguish the intelligent learned behavior which almost always is necessary to facilitate instinctual directives from the instinctual directives themselves.

....... The other fundamental instinct is of course the instinct to mate when the cues are right. Sex is instinctual and babies must be born with an innate sexual instinct which isn't activated and doesn't kick in until puberty. Nevertheless the basic subroutines must be there ready to be activated. As before there are a number of associated instincts which facilitate this basic behavior.

....... 5. The system of 'feelings' of all types which are associated with various purely informational aspects of the model and which function to dynamically valuate the informational aspects of the logical structure. This must be clearly understood to be a very broad and inclusive concept which includes every type of feeling of which an organism is capable. It includes all the 'physical' feelings of pain and pleasure, heat and cold, all of the emotions of which organisms are capable, and it includes the concept of meaning, by which I mean here the 'feeling' of importance or non importance of all thoughts, occurrences, etc. Perhaps meaningfulness would be a better term. The English word meaning also has another purely informational usage which refers to either an equivalent logical structure a 'deeper' or more general informational content contained in or implied by a given informational content. However these two uses of the word are closely related in common usage as both ultimately tend to refer to the concept of meaningfulness.

....... Feeling in my usage clearly includes the perception of touch. What is perhaps more difficult to understand is that it also includes the non informational content of all other perceptions such as sight, hearing, taste and smell. All of these carry both an informational content to which some part of the cognitive model assigns a feeling content which serves to valuate the importance of the perception. This is largely done prior to conscious recognition of the perception so that the informational content and the feeling of it are usually already tightly coupled. Nevertheless they are separate as it is easily possible to experience the exact same perception as more or less meaningful, or pleasurable, or with less emotional content depending on the context of one's mental state.

....... Now it is the totality of all these feelings that give the purely informational content of the cognitive model its substance, the feeling that we are living in a real physical world of substance and meaningfulness which has emotional content for us. Without these feelings that the cognitive model itself adds, the world would be seen as a purely informational structure that it actually is. None of these feeling types can be said to exist in the external physical world. Everyone of them is added by the cognitive model to make appear meaningful and substantial (that is 'real').

....... The totality of all feelings is called the qualia, the apparent qualities of all the things of the world which each mind adds to its model of the world and which are thus intrinsically private to that mind. Now that we have defined qualia as these feelings we'll use both terms interchangeably.

....... Now the vitally important function of the qualia system is to give the purely informational structure of external reality as represented in the cognitive model meaningfulness to the organism. The qualia serve one function, to imbue all aspects of the world with meaningfulness by providing a complex system of effective valuations of the informational content of reality. This system of valuations is what guides the actions of the organism and makes its existence meaningful, that is which gives it meaning in either a positive or negative sense.

....... This valuation system is not a single scale, but consists of a number of different scales such as those of the various emotions, the various sensations of touch such as heat, cold, painfulness, and the scales associated with the importance or meaningfulness of thoughts and ideas. All of these valuations are continually weighed and compared to guide all activities of the cognitive model and its expression in the external world.

....... Clearly to a large extent, the particular valuations assigned are determined by the instinctual imperatives. For example, the survival instinct assigns burning pain a high valuation rather than a neutral valuation. This in turn gives it a high override priority to the organism's motive system which directs the hand to be instantly removed from the hot object. Clearly the pain does not exist in the external world but only in the cognitive model. The feeling of pain is clearly a quale (singular of qualia). The intensity of pain prioritizes the avoidance of the cause.

....... So the function of all the feelings (physical, somatic, emotional, meaningful, perceptual), or qualia, is valuation of informational content to assist in deciding among potential actions, both conscious decisions, and the myriad of unconscious decisions occurring every millisecond as the cognitive model is processed. This is true no matter what type of feeling it is. Meaning, the 'feeling' associated with a thought, serves to valuate thoughts and assist in deciding which are discarded, which stored, and to which attention is to be paid.

....... The qualia, the feelings, all need to be understood from their utility to the individual organism. All questions about the function of mind need to be understood first from the point of view of their utility to the dynamic function of the organism in its environment. There are at any given time many different processing routines jockeying for priority within the cognitive model to become actionable. The system of feeling is what sorts all this out and determines most of what actually occurs within the cognitive model. Thus the important insight here is that the feeling system is the mechanism by which the instinctual imperatives become operational, it is how the instinctual imperatives impose their valuation system on all processes of the cognitive model. The function of emotion and all the other feelings becomes very clear an simple, and is quite elegant when understood from this perspective. This system works quite well to effectively guide the actions of all organisms in the natural world, though in minds as complex as humans things can go very wrong. But that's another story....

....... Physical and somatic (the feelings of the state of the internal body, such as hunger, thirst or the well being of some part of the body) feelings and emotions are generally the most intense because they are involved in feedback loops with the physical body and it is the survival of the physical body which is the prime imperative of instinct. Physical and somatic touch interact directly with the physical body, while the emotions include cognitive assessments of interactions with the physical world and other organisms which can sometimes be intense as they are critical to survival and mating. They are strongly interlinked with the somatic body via the autonomic nervous system and the hormonal system. They are also precipitated by and correlated with particular thought representations of possible actions, and thus serve to prioritize and rank those possible actions for actualization in any given situation.

....... Emotions are not thoughts, but are often strongly associated with thoughts, which are discrete snippets of models of reality though this can including reporting the perceived reality of emotional states in a self reinforcing feedback loop. They are a separate cognitive mechanism and must be understood as such. They are a feedback and ranking mechanism to the thought manipulation process which assists organisms in their decision making process.

....... At the emotional level what other kind of motivation could there be if not the feeling (emotion) of wanting something or not wanting something? An organism's emotional correlates (fear, anger, lust etc. etc.) help assign values to potential actions in response to external world situations. The continual ebb and flow of the various emotions, no matter how subtle, serves to dynamically adjust the priorities of aspects of the cognitive model which often lead to actions.

....... That is how does emotion function among animals in the natural world in terms of their behavior. It is quite clear that it is a prime motivator of behavior. A male animal will fight another based on its anger level, the level of the emotion of anger decides whether the animal will fight or flee (if the emotion is fear instead depending on the level of fear). So emotion functions just as say hunger does to motivate feeding depending on the level of hunger.

....... Emotion and other feelings clearly functions to activate behavior among animals in the natural world. It is a prime motivator of behavior. A male animal will fight another based on its anger level, the relative levels of the emotion of anger or lust for a mate they are competing over versus the levels of fear of injury or pain decides whether the animal will fight or flee. Likewise the level of the feeling of hunger or thirst is what motivates feeding, drinking or the search for food or water. All feelings, of whatever type, interact so as to prioritize and activate behaviors depending on their relative levels of intensity and importance to the activity and the organism. Any organism without the capacity to experience fear would be at an enormous survival disadvantage. Any sexual organism without the capacity to experience sexual lust would be unlikely to reproduce and would die out.

....... The reason that emotions persist and have such intensity is that they are correlated with hormonal and other biochemical levels, and thus intensified by feedback from the somatic body. The persistence of any emotion depends on the persistence of such chemicals and to what level they are being replenished by stimuli - which by the way includes continually rethinking the original stimulus. There is no 'basic unit of emotion or any other feeling'. Emotions are produced by different levels and ratios of neurochemicals and hormones. Look there for the correlates. The classification of emotions is gross, not exact, and mixtures are possible. Just consider a set of n hormones each of which can have a different level, both somewhat independent and somewhat a function of the other levels. The specific named emotions will likely correspond to particular likely and easily discernible groupings of levels.

....... The function of love, for example, is easy to understand from this perspective. It simply up prioritizes supportive, cooperative or altruistic behavior towards specific loved individuals. The adaptive utility is clear as it improves survivability of the love bonded group and its offspring.

....... The frequent confusion over love is trying to understand it from the inside out rather than from the outside in. These are two very different perspectives on the issue of love that should not be confused. The adaptive function of love is explained quite well in the paragraph above. It becomes a mystery only in the sense that the 'self' is not what chooses when and when not to 'be' in love or with what intensity. The self experiences love or lack of love but does not control when that does or doesn't occur. So from the personal perspective of the self, love will always be something of a mystery since the self never will be quite sure when it comes and goes either in oneself or in the beloved. But the organismic function of love in the cognitive model is not a mystery.

....... 6. The active processor system which continually drives the dynamic processing of the computational routines of the mind in clock time. This processor system also contains a cache-like short term memory which holds the near infinitesimal duration of the physical Now open in the cognitive model long enough for relational processing to occur and real time comparisons to be made and contexts established and for consciousness to appear to exist in a present moment with duration. As far as I know this important insight is also original with me. Clearly the mental present has a short but apparent duration while the actual physical present has duration only perhaps on the Planck scale.

....... The processor system continually accepts perceptual input from the organism's sensory organs both external and internal and dynamically updates the cognitive world model, that is learning takes place as the cognitive model is continuously updated, as new memories are formed. This processing system is continually active, if only on the unconscious level, and is directed by (the organism is motivated by) the instinctual imperatives towards the survival and reproduction of the organism (the system).

....... The processor system consists of numerous multiple simultaneous processes operating at various levels of a loose hierarchy each of which processes subsets of the whole cognitive model and some of which pass potential 'feeling' weighted actions or responses up to higher levels for comparison and decision making, but all in general passe results onto to other processes. Out of this complex of processes emerge responses or actions in the the internal cognitive, somatic or in some cases are converted by control systems into organismic actions in the external world.

....... It is important to understand that in our usage Mind refers not just to computational processes local to the brain but to the entire interwoven system of all computational processes occurring throughout the organism. E.g. the homeostatic processes that regulate body temperature or capillary dilation or glucose levels are all included in this whole organism view of mind.

....... This is an important insight as it allows us to understand that all life forms consist of meaningful purposeful information processing and structure imposed on physical matter. This, with the ability to self replicate and seen as the result of evolutionary process is a good working definition of life.

....... 7. The logical rules which govern the organization and processing of the cognitive model. These include all the logical, mathematical and syntactical system rules that govern the operation of the processor system, it is the entirety of all the logical and relational rules that govern the processing and structure of all aspects of the organism's internal model of the world. We will have more to say on these in the section on epistemology.

....... 8. The processor clocks which emit regular synchronization pulses which set the basic processor rates at which cognitive processes run, and which also provide the sense of the relative clock time speed of the representations of all external processes. There is evidence that our human master clock rate slows somewhat as we age. Older people asked to count off seconds generally do so more slowly than children. There is also experimental evidence that in emergencies the master clock rate can suddenly jump resulting in the well known experience that time suddenly seems to slow to a crawl during emergencies. Subjects in the excitement of free fall during Bungee jumps were able to read extremely brief digital displays they couldn't read in normal circumstances. There is some evidence there may be multiple clocks associated with various internal processes.

* * *


....... The basic hardware structure of any organismic mind, the neural design of the brain and nervous system, and other chemical control systems, including both the sensory and specifically cognitive structures, are all clearly passed from parent to offspring and thus must be encoded and transmitted from parents to offspring in the DNA of that species. What is I believe original to my thinking is that in addition to this hardware the DNA must also encode a significant portion of the software of mind, specifically everything that is not learned from experience by the organism. That is an awfully lot, it is in fact most of the lower level cognitive structure of mind! When one thinks this through such a conclusion is obvious. Where else would all this software come from if not loaded into the hardware of the brain from instructions actually coded in the organism's DNA?

....... For example an organism's basic instinctual cognitive subroutines are clearly not learned, thus they simply must be encoded in the organism's DNA and passed from parents to offspring. There is no other way the new organism could acquire these basic programs that give its life purpose. That every organism's cognitive operating system and instinctual programs can only be stored and passed on in DNA is so self evidently obvious it is amazing that I'm the first person I'm aware of that has even proposed this idea and that it is not a well recognized tenant of microbiology as it clearly should be. Cognitive scientists and microbiologists should be falling over each other to understand how this software is encoded in the DNA. Instead they don't even seem to be aware of the possibility, much less to have understood how self evident it is! Somewhere in what is popularly labeled 'junk DNA' (DNA that doesn't code for the production of proteins, that is 'hardware') is the code for the basic software of our minds, and the minds of all organisms!

....... This insight is the key to resolving the nature versus nurture debate. One only needs to determine what software is passed via DNA and that will be nature, and what is clearly not so encoded will be learned or nurture. It is simply a matter of sorting this out.

....... Clearly all of the instinctual subroutines which fundamentally direct the activities of organisms described above are encoded in and transmitted via DNA where they are loaded and activated in the neural circuitry of the organism as it develops.

....... Also encoded and passed in DNA is what we may call the mind's operating system, the most basic software routines of mind, which manage and coordinate all the other active processes of the mind. Since it appears that processing capability in organismic minds may be distributed along with associated data, this operating system capacity may well also consist of multiple operating systems each managing a specific set of functions such as different types of sensory perception, muscular coordination, all likely coordinated by a central system located in the central 'primitive' brain.

....... All of this distributed software tightly coupled to somatic function must be largely if not entirely DNA encoded as well. For example the numerous homeostatic control mechanisms of the body all function under autonomic controls located in the center of the brain. And the sensory and perceptual control systems require computational control as does the coordination of motor function which seems to located in the cerebellum. All of these innate processing functions must somehow be encoded in DNA.

....... Another vital process clearly innate and thus DNA encoded is the software that initiates learning, dynamically modifying and adding extracted data elements to the memory to update the mind's cognitive world model. This complex process which makes the organism actively engage in and capable of learning from its environment and acting intelligently is clearly innate and thus must be passed according to the genetics of its kind. These routines actively judge and selects and stores salient perceptual input and also acts on the basis of that input to learn from such experience how to improve the organism's operation within its environment. These processes must necessarily include code that effectively generates new code, that continually improves or even replaces inadequate learned code routines with more effective ones based on evaluation of feedback from the environment as the effectiveness of previously executed routines, or the falsification of prior mind coded hypotheses about the world.

....... This DNA coded software also incorporates all the intrinsic logical structure of mind, the valid logical rules by which mind must operate to function in an external physical reality governed by similar rules of which the cognitive rules are an approximation. This includes logical and organizational structures according to which environmental perceptual input is extracted, categorized, organized, stored, and used to generate thoughts or actions. Thus this DNA software incorporates in its own code structure the basic structure of the logic of things, such elemental structures as discrete things, properties of things, time sequences, causality, logical operators such as NOT, AND, OR, basic number notions (the repeat instances of approximate equality), identity (a single thing is always one not multiples), locality (a thing can only be at one place at one time), and even measures of probability processing.

....... All in all this constitutes an amazing computational structure which is all somehow encoded in DNA and passed along from its parents having evolved down the tree of life from generation to generation and organism to organism and been evolutionarily selected based on the average aggregate survival advantages conferred to the individual systems (organisms) which carried them!

....... This basic mind structure begins developing in the embryonic stage and continues developing as the infant organism matures. This we see from the studies of Piaget and others that as cognitive structure matures, the logic of things matures along with it and the mind model fleshes out as more and more thing identities are extracted from raw input based on thing defining property sets as they too become identifiable as discrete characteristics, and are all gradually incorporated into a logical relational (including causal relations) framework from which in turn more general principles (those similar across related groups of relationships) can be extracted and reapplied.

* * *


....... Absolutely everyone seems to have missed the absolutely critical point about short term memory, that it is only short term memory that enables any intelligence or mental process of even the most trivial sort. This is because the actual physical present moment in which we live is vanishingly short, on the quantum time scale or less, and thus completely inaccessible to any biological mind. Without short term memory constructing an enormously expanded mental approximation of the present moment in which we have the time to be able to compare things and thus establish time sequences and relationships we would appear to live in a reality with zero continuity or meaning. Everything would happen and disappear far too quickly for any relationships between anything to be established and held in the mind and considered by consciousness. Sequential processes such as music would become totally meaningless, and the meaningfulness of all processes depends on their sequential nature. Of course the meaningfulness of music, as opposed to causal sequences in which each element carries information about the previous, is entirely added by mind. It is this and only this capacity to hold the Now open which enables the logical sequences by which the causal sequences of external reality are modeled in the mind, to be grasped as a whole and thus given meaning.

....... Thus it is only our brain's short term memory that holds time open long enough for comparisons of things to take place in what seems to be the present moment but which is actually a much expanded fiction, and only with such comparisons is any intelligent thought possible at all. Short term memory is what holds the present moment of time open long enough for us to live a meaningful existence within it. And in fact our entire existence actually takes place within our own short term memory's illusion of an expanded present moment. Without it there would just be one completely disconnected frame of film after another with no possible connection between them since there would never be any immediate memory of the preceding frames. There could be absolutely no knowledge or understanding of the world or ourselves.

....... Thus it is short term memory that is perhaps the most essential mental faculty of all for an intelligent meaningful life to exist. This is obviously a faculty that all organisms that act meaningfully in the world must share. However it is reasonable to assume the short term time sense, that is the experience of a present moment must vary greatly between species. Generally small species will have a much faster time sense than larger ones; house flies and mice will experience events in the world passing much more slowly than we humans do.

....... Our experience of the Now is in fact one of the best proofs that the world we think we live in exists only within our mind, is a cognitive model within Mind, for if we actually lived in the real physical world we simply could not and would not experience a Now, which we most certainly do.

....... Likewise Mind also holds space open by constructing a robust classical three dimensional world within the cognitive model which every organism experiences itself as existing within. Thus it gives dimensionality to events and provides room for the self to exist and things to happen. Absent that experience would only exist as a mass flood of confusing stimuli with no dimensional organization at all. This spatial opening of dimensionality is done by the section of mind that continually processes and keeps current the representation of the present moment world of the here-now in the cognitive model.

* * *


....... The world every organism believes it lives in, or rather experiences itself as living within, is actually a cognitive world model entirely within its own mind, and is entirely a product of its own particular biological and cognitive structure. Thus this mind world is not the actual external reality though it must share some structural similarity with it for an organism to function successfully in the external world on the basis of processing its internal model of that external world. Thus it is clear that the internal model need share only a minimal sufficient correspondence with the external world. What is required is only some minimal similarity of logical structure and that is in fact all that is shared. As we have seen above all of the 'feelings' and apparent substance of the world are added by mind.

....... Now to most people the notion that the reality of the physical world consists only of the laws of nature, of empty forms, is an astounding and non-intuitive one and we clearly need to provide a convincing reason to accept it. There are two very convincing aspects of a single reason. First that all we really have evidence for in the way of any external reality is its logical structure, since that is all that is clearly not added within the cognitive model of external reality itself. The basic principle of theory construction should be that we not ascribe reality to anything for which there is no evidence or convincing reason of consistency or completeness to add, and as we have seen the evidence is that all the apparent substance and qualities of an external world are in fact added by the cognitive model in the form of the the various 'feelings' or qualia. Thus we should stick to a model of external physical reality as consisting only of what we have reasonable evidence for, its logical structure, and refrain from projecting our subjective qualitative perception of the world onto its actual reality. That in my mind justifies the assertion that we should conceive of external reality as consisting only of empty logical forms, that is the laws of nature and the purely non substantive data states or forms they operate upon. On this basis we will develop this view and see where it leads us.

....... All of the qualia, the physical, emotional, perceptual and meaning 'feelings' are components only of the cognitive model and do not exist, have no correspondents, in the external world. They exist in the cognitive model to give meaning and valuation and a feeling of substance to the purely logical structure of reality. Mind adds the apparent substance or qualities of all things, the qualia, to the world model it constructs as these are all 'feelings' the mind generates about the world to assign meaning and value to components of the cognitive model to assist in processing the model in a way appropriate to its existence. These feelings include various degrees each of a complex array of different 'feeling' types which include physical feelings both internal and external, emotional feelings, and the 'feelings' called meanings. External reality itself contains none of any of these feelings about things.

....... However the external reality must contain some logical structure since the accurate approximation of such structure in the cognitive model is required for the organism to function in that external world on the basis of processing the internal. In general this logical structure need only share gross similarities, not identity, with the logical structure of a particular organism's cognitive world model. The actual intrinsic logical structure of the external world is the laws of nature, what can be called physical logic and mathematics, whereas the logical structures of the cognitive model are expressed as human mathematics, logic, grammar etc. and as all the varieties of the 'logic of things' by which particular organisms function. More about these in the Epistemology section.

....... Thus all we can actually know about the reality of the external world is that it consists only of the dynamic evolution of empty logical forms through clock time. That is the physical universe consists only of the laws of nature, which is the unfolding of empty logical or abstract forms according to intrinsic rules. Both the forms and the rules by which they unfold are the integral, and the only, components of physical reality. These dynamic abstract forms are empty of any specific self substance; that appearance of substance is entirely added by each mind to its cognitive model of the world. These empty forms can be said to contain only a single substance which I call Ontological Energy (OE) which is the energy of existence within the present moment which gives all things that exist therein their being and actuality. These forms are in fact forms within the otherwise formless sea of Being, of Ontological Energy or what has been called Tao.

....... Ontological energy or Tao, called Chi in an organism or other specific situation, is simply the single energy substance of which all forms of physical energy, including the energy processes of all living organisms, are different manifestations. That is why energy is conserved, because it is a single stuff! And that is in fact the only way it could be conserved between manifestations! It is the concept of energy itself, of which all forms of energy are manifestations. (It can be argued that this energy is relative motion pure and simple for reasons I'll explain in a forthcoming paper on quantum reality.) Thus OE depends always on both an observer and an observed in relative motion (even if just the vibration of strings) to the observer. When OE is still there is no relative motion and it is formless. Thus nothing can be observed for there is no observer and nothing to be observed. Likewise when there is no observer there is no sense in which it can be said to either exist or not exist.

....... When OE takes on form it moves because all form is motion, sometimes only in space but always through time. Thus all form is dynamic even when it seems still and remains the same over some time period. It is always something relative to something else. It always involves the 'experience' of something by something else.

....... Reality, as a putative external physical universe, is an ocean of empty dynamic continually causally interacting forms filled only with the single substance of OE which gives the forms their 'reality' and presence in the present moment. There is no substance to the physical universe other than the single substance of OE. The universe is dynamic empty forms of OE only, as any complexity of interacting water waves are themselves only the substance of the ocean in which they appear.

....... Since the external physical world is empty dynamic forms it actually consists only of the abstract laws of nature rather than substantive things in themselves. That is how the laws are incorporated into physical reality, because they, and only they, ARE THE PHYSICAL REALITY! E.g. it is widely understood that the apparent solidity of matter is an illusion added by mind to the cognitive representations of what is actually mostly empty space filled with quantum level energy fields. To use our ocean analogy, the forms of the waves are the laws of nature and they are intrinsically empty of all self substance other than the common substance of OE. And the waves are all that can be observed, thus reality consists only of the empty forms called the laws of nature.

....... Since the cognitive model is also only symbolic forms, no substance at all, it is also a logico-mathematical structure only, not anything 'physical', no matter how real it may seem. This may seem trivially obvious and not matter, but it actually very much does matter because now we see that the actual total reality of the world, which unifies the external physical world with mind both consist of the exact same thing, empty logical forms given Being by their presence in the sea of ontological energy that comprises the Now! This is the source of the Hindu and Buddhist insight that all is the nothingness of empty forms, that in this sense all the apparent substance of the world is illusory.

....... Reality then consists only of Ontological Energy which itself is intrinsically formless and non actual as without form it cannot be known. However it is not Nothingness in the ordinary sense of the complete absence of anything as it contains all possibility in its potential to take on all possible forms as a still pond has the potential to take on complex interacting ripples being limited only by the intrinsic limitations of its substance which correspond to the unactualized possibilities inherent in the substance of OE. The 'big bang' can be said to be the introduction of form into the formless sea of Ontological Energy and these forms have ever since been evolving according to the laws of nature which they contain, the rules which govern how forms evolve in the substance of OE. See my STC Theory for the cosmological theory.

....... The well established quantum cosmological concept of zero point energy (ZPE) is an example of how this works. The idea is that the vacuum of empty space is not nothingness but actually a sea of unobservable unactualized energy out of which virtual particles continually pop and return in time frames so short they cannot be measured, the so called 'quantum foam'. In certain conditions such particles can be actualized into observable reality over longer time scales, and in other conditions particles can vanish back into the vacuum out of actuality. Since all physical matter is quantum this notion potentially applies to everything in the universe and how it may have appeared out of nothingness at the big bang.

....... I essentially just extend this view slightly to note it must also then include even all classical level phenomena which must in some sense be contained unactualized in the universal vacuum in the sense that all classical level phenomena emerge out of quantum laws. (See the section on Convergent Emergence below for more. This is also mirrored in the quantum world in the way that all quantum phenomena exist in a sort of imaginary (in the mathematical sense) pre-decoherence state of quantum wavefunctions until they decohere to produce an event in the classical world of an observer.

....... Actual physical reality can be thought of as a myriad processor system in which each unit of reality consists of an operating processor running a common set of intrinsic code rules against the current purely informational data state of that reality unit. This is the granular pre-quantum level structure of reality which is the subject of a forthcoming paper. These physical laws of nature are much different than the cognitive rules of particular minds such as those of human common sense, the general organismic 'logic of things' or human mathematics, all of which are classical level approximations of the actual physically contained laws of nature. See the section on Emergence below for a little more detail on how classical level logic relates to the quantum laws of nature.

* * *


....... If our theory is valid then it is clear that it itself must be a part of the cognitive world model it seeks to describe, and thus by its own conclusions only an observer dependent approximation of reality. That is up until now we have assumed ab initio that mind and organisms are actual things in the world when the result of the analysis based on that assumption is that all theories are actually models within the mind that they seek to describe! Thus our theory is self referential in that it is part of what it seeks to describe. It is clear that we must incorporate the solution to this paradox within our theory.

....... The problem lies in the theory being derived as the natural extended implication of what our usual cognitive model based strongly on the notion of self and not self, internal and external realities, implies about its own structure. This view leads logically to its own negation. We need instead to anchor our theory directly in an analysis of the fundamental reality of direct experience which in the last analysis is clearly the only actual reality that can ever be known, as even the most abstract concepts exist ultimately only as direct experience.

....... To address this issue we must step back and understand the fundamental nature of all reality as it is directly perceived. Clearly by our own theory both mind and the external world are constructs within mind, but what reality actually consists of is direct experience antecedent to that distinction pure and simple, nothing more, nothing less. Whether that experience is subsequently categorized as that of an object in the external world, an internal 'feeling' state, or a higher level self referential model such as this theory is irrelevant to the fact that first and foremost it is pure experience prior to any distinction of experienced or experiencer. Everything knowable ultimately consists solely of direct experience, or more precisely everything is experience pure and simple, even if it the experience of knowing something. Experience is all that exists, all concepts are categorizations of experience which themselves are again only direct experience of themselves as categorizations. There is no way around this. We must begin with this and base all theory consistently upon it.

....... Experience itself is intrinsically fluid and in a sense formless, or better with the most minimal stage of discrimination, it is seen to vary, but originally there are no intrinsically well defined 'things' or thing boundaries. At the most fundamental level there is not yet an intellectual or logical structure imposed upon it by mind, there is originally no discrimination of things, relationships nor properties. These structures are all imposed on the fluid flow of experience by the discriminating, intellectualizing mind, or perhaps more accurately seem to appear of their own nature within mind. This is the state of original mind and it is only as mind develops that such structure is imposed on experience as it is becomes organized, or self organizes, into the cognitive model of a particular mind. Thus it is obvious that this imposed structure will be inherently different among different minds, and the different types of minds of different species, even though there will be logical similarities as they all share what is presumably a common physical reality whose laws must be accurately approximated to a degree sufficient to ensure the successful functioning of the organism. But again that is only the type of logical overlay imposed on reality by human type minds expressed in English.

....... The point here is that fundamentally mind and the external physical world are merely different organizational categories of the same single reality of direct experience. They are both organizational categories within a cognitive world model. The only knowledge or experience of the external physical reality possible is its representation in the cognitive model of some organism, some observer. Thus there is a very good sense in which the reality of the external physical world simply does not exist absent its representation in mind. And equally that mind does not exist prior to its appearance of a category of the discrimination of direct experience. Thus once again direct experience is the ultimate reality at the root of everything.

....... To carry it to its logical conclusion, the best model of reality is this. I, and presumably all other I's, exist as what we may call observer singularities. All that exists at the most fundamental level is the flow of experience, but this experience is antecedent to its categorization into self and not self, or mind and external world. This direct experience is the primal reality. All else, all the things of the world, all the structure of everything, exists as categories imposed upon experience to construct the world we believe we live in, the world of myself at the experiential center of an external reality. These are ultimately both fictions imposed on the actual reality of direct unmodified experience. But see the final section on Enlightenment where we become able to realize this in a new light.

....... Thus a better model of reality is this. Direct unmodified experience (including of course the direct unmodified experience of modified experience) is the only actual reality period. This is all that is and originally we can say nothing of an experiencer or something experienced. We can ultimately say nothing about any 'self' or not self, of any 'I' at all, neither our 'I' nor any other. At the most fundamental ongoing level, reality consists only of experience itself antecedent of any categories or structure of any kind. At a higher level, and as the development of the organism occurs, that direct unmodified experience spontaneously organizes into an overlaid structure of forms. Even though the reality of the direct unmodified experience still remains intact it becomes more and more the direct experience of the still intact primal direct experience experienced through its overlain structure.

....... My particular cognitive structure informs me that every organism, including myself, experiences experience as an observer singularity, as an I in the midst of an external world, though less complex organisms may not have the same self consciousness of an I experiencing, but merely experience through a less developed overlain cognitive structure.

....... Thus the reality of the postulated observerless external reality is an impossible fiction. The concept simply does not make sense. The only reality is experience, and experience must always self organize as from the point of view of some observer. Since experience is reality, without the involvement of some observer there is no experience, and thus no meaningful notion of an external physical world. But here again in the ultimate reality of direct experience that also is seen as just another imposed categorization of experience, no neither the acceptance or denial of an independent external reality, nor an independent mind is meaningful. Both the view that minds exist in the world, and the view that the world exists as a cognitive model are simply constructs that appear in the organization of experience - as is this explanation itself!

....... It is clearly difficult, perhaps impossible, to even formulate in a language like English, which is predicated on the incorporation of distinction in its very nature, a meaningful discussion which avoids contradiction. After all language is a symbolic structure for manipulating the cognitive model in its less self referential state. We can only circle this essentially wordless concept and point at it with our words hoping the words will not be confused with the thing itself. In a written work like this we are simply forced to continue with that approach. We just have to accept there are various levels of discrimination up from direct experience itself, and the perspective from each may seem contradictory with the others. It is clear we must continually shift our perspective to attempt to describe all aspects of the theory as best we can. What may originally seem to be inconsistencies are due to the different perspectives we must use in our descriptions to provide a more or less complete explication of the whole. Perhaps the reader can excuse the seemingly repetitive reiterations of this section on that basis? The vulture must always circle in the wind to reach its destination.

....... The only reality then, the totality of reality, is experience. For any observer 'his' experience, the experience associated with him as a mind, is the totality of that experience. Within that experience other minds are part of the operative cognitive model, and presumably the situation is the same for each of these other minds, that their world consists only of experience, in which I exist as a dynamic category in a cognitive model. So reality consists entirely only of interacting flows of experience, and external physical reality consists only of different models in the organization of these different experiential flows. It is clear then that we can say that the universe, that reality itself, is direct experience only. But this must be clearly understood to mean experience prior to the dualism of experiencer and experienced. This is the correct understanding of the Buddhist saying that 'All is consciousness only.' It must not be misunderstood as solipsism.

....... So returning to the higher level perspective on our theory it is clear that every mind views the direct experience of reality through a whole superstructure of different organizational layers that are imposed by, or spontaneously arise in mind. These are the 'veils of illusion', the organizational characteristics of our cognitive model which color or filter the way we as an organism view the world. They are precisely what Buddhist and Hindu philosophy tell us obscure the reality of the world and stand in the way of enlightenment. We will explore this idea further in the final chapter.

....... Lastly it is extremely important to understand that knowing the world is simply one's experiences of it does not mean it is somehow less real. Just the opposite, it is as real as it ever was, how they are interpreted does not change the facts of experience, in fact as we will see in the final chapter on enlightenment, this new understanding leads to the realization that reality is more intensely and absolutely real than we could ever have imagined it was! And that in fact it was our previous misinterpretations of reality that had previously kept us from experiencing that realness to the fullest.

* * *


....... To complete this theory so that it does not give the misleading impression that reality only exists if there are organismic observers, we must extend the concept of experience to include all 'xperiences' of anything by anything.

....... Theories in science can often be interpreted or understood in different ways without changing the underlying science in the slightest. The various competing interpretations of quantum mechanics are good examples of this. All accept quantum mechanics but each interprets it quite differently. Likewise science in general can be interpreted from the point of view of things and forces, of process, of interwoven causal networks, of spacetime 'events', or in my theory as consisting purely of what I call 'xperience', which I define from the current perspective of science as the effect of anything on anything, though from its own perspective it is fundamental and antecedent to any notion of any 'thing' either experienced or as experiencer. It is important to understand that none of these interpretations, including mine, alters the established science itself in any way. The equations do not change. However which interpretation we use can lead to profound revelations in our understanding of science and its relationship to the totality of reality. I believe my new interpretation leads to a fundamental advance in the understanding of the nature of reality.

....... Simply put I propose the interpretation of reality as consisting entirely of what I call 'xperience'. From the discriminated level of cognitive theory this refers to the effects of anything in the universe on anything else. The term xperience is used to distinguish it from the experiences of organisms, all of which are simply special cases of the universal phenomenon of xperience which applies both to organisms and inorganic interactions as well. In every case we can say that the xperience is the immediate effect on anything by anything else. But it is important to understand that it is the primal undualized and uninterpreted xperiences themselves which constitute reality, and the categorization into the triad of what is xperienced, the xperience, and the xperiencer is a secondary imposition of structure. This, I believe, is a revolutionary new way of viewing the world, one that we will see integrates all aspects of reality into a seamless and elegant whole.

....... Now obviously at the level of manipulation of a cognitive model any xperience can be understood as the effect of some impinging influence on some thing, as interpreted by that thing according to and dependent on its structure. Thus every thing, and every organism, will experience the world in a manner dependent on its own structure. Thus from a dualistic universal view reality might be said to consist solely of the present moment totality of all xperiences of all observers (either organismic or purely physical). Thus without the observer, without xperience, there is no sense in which an independent observerless reality can be considered to exist. This is in fact rather straightforward to understand if every thing in the universe is now thought of as an observer. Without the presence of any thing any notion of an extant universe is meaningless because the external universe exists only in its present moment representations or instantiations in xperiences. And since ever thing is potentially an observer in the sense of being an xperiencer, the absence of xperience indicates an absence of any thing which is consistently the absence of any meaningful notion of an extant universe. A universe without things is a universe without xperience and since things exist only as they are xperienced it all fits together consistently.

....... It should be noted how well this interpretation is consistent with the theory of quantum decoherence which has largely superseded the old interpretations of quantum mechanics. In this modern theory the interaction with (in our terms the xperience by) a wave function by other wave functions, both of which are themselves imaginary (in the mathematical sense and the ordinary sense by extension) entirely probabilistic entities with as yet no appearance into reality, is what results in an actual measurement, that is the momentary appearance into reality of a previously imaginary wave function in a measurement, that is an xperience. And likewise the theory of relativity supports our theory as it requires the presence of an observer for any measurement, any observation, any appearance of something into reality, to take place since an observer frame is required for every measurement, and a measurement is the only way a reality can be established. In the relativistic view all reality again consists only of measurements from some observer frame, that is xperiences, and its notion of a persistent dimensional universe of events is only an extrapolation of such measurements which attempts to predict what new measurements would be at other locations if they were taken. However as long as they are not taken it remains theory and cannot be actually considered reality (though of course many physicists still retain the older interpretation of dimensional spacetime as some perpetual framework or stage upon which events play out, a view that is not really supported by relativity theory.

....... From this perspective on our theory, reality consists only of measurements, of xperiences. Reality is not to be thought of as a continuous dimensional spacetime framework between measurements, nor is there any necessity of such a persistent continuous spacetime framework existing between measurements. Rather it is only the measurements themselves, the xperiences of anything by anything, each of which that establishes a tiny point of reality from a particular observer perspective or frame. Those points of reality are all of actual reality that is knowable with the certainty of xperience. The classical level cognitive model fills in the gaps between them into what appears to be a consistent framework of events occurring within the framework of a continuous dimensional spacetime.

....... And of course it immediately explains the fact that every observer, every organism, lives in a world of its own making according to its biological structure. Our theory simply generalizes this idea and extends it to all reality, and reinterprets all reality from this perspective without changing established science in the slightest. The actual mathematical equations of science do not change, however the interpretation of what those equations describe undergoes a profound change which unifies what was previously thought of as external physical reality, with mind, and as we will shortly see with epistemology as well.

....... See http://EdgarLOwen.com/HardProblem.pdf for more on this interpretation of the theory of relativity. ....... Finally let us make an important clarification of terminological usage and draw a clear distinction between our usage of the terms 'reality' and of 'external world', or 'external reality'. From now on we will try to use these terms according to the understanding that 'external world' or 'external reality' means an actual external world outside the cognitive model if it may be said to exist, while 'reality' will be used to mean the actual true nature of the universe which is simply xperience and which is antecedent to the dualism of self and not self, of cognitive model and an external world. That is reality refers to the unity of the cognitive model and external reality in xperience.

* * *


....... Emergence refers to the notion that there appear to be a whole hierarchy of laws of nature, or rather physical laws which 'emerge' out of different levels of the aggregate behavior of their components. For example the laws of chemistry 'emerge' out of the laws that govern the standard model of elementary particles, and the laws of biology emerge from or at least are constrained by the laws of chemistry. Likewise the statistical laws of thermodynamics emerge from the aggregate behavior of large complexes of particles which behave according to quantum law. While such laws almost always are traceable back to the underlying laws in that they are always consistent with them, they are often poorly predictable from those underlying laws.

....... In general it appears as if all classical level laws emerge solely out of the aggregate behaviors of an elementary set of quantum level laws called the standard model that govern the behavior of the elementary particles, with the possible exception of the laws of relativity. Even though the strictly deterministic laws of say relativity or Newtonian mechanics are presumably exact, though they may not actually be on the quantum level, it is difficult to imagine how anything can actually 'happen' at the classical level if in fact everything actually is happening at the quantum level in the interaction of elementary particles. That is we have an understandable mechanics for what 'happens' means at the quantum level in the exchange of particles carrying forces, a notion which is entirely absent at the classical level.

....... In the realm of organismic behavior also it is clear that all the complexities of individual behavior are evolutionarily selected from sets constrained by biological laws, and even the most complex of human social behaviors in turn emerge from laws which govern individual human psychology. There is no reason to believe this emergent hierarchy should not contain even higher levels governed by laws with which we are not yet familiar.

....... Now the problem is how are all these emergent laws actually contained in the physical world as they must be so as to actually govern its dynamics? As stated above it seems likely that physical reality consists entirely of elementary units each of which consists of a processor running a very simple set of rules on its current data state to alter that data state. This system is most likely the entirety of the laws of nature and thus is the entirety of physical reality. Physical reality in this view consists entirely of the evolutionary unfolding of the initial data state according to the quantum laws of nature, and since the data state is itself entirely information, empty forms in Ontological Energy, physical reality consists entirely of the laws of nature evolving according to their own presumably immutable rules.

....... In this view all the additional emergent laws operant at the level of aggregates are implicitly contained in the 'fine tuning' of the laws of nature which include a small set of precise values of about two dozen constants such as the speed of light and the value of the charge of the electron. These basic laws are tuned such as to allow the emergence of only a specified set of 'higher level' laws and to exclude all else. Within each such allowed space we can speak of a spectrum of possibilities. The space of possible laws of chemistry is more or less filled in that it is strongly determined by the set of basic laws, and atoms of all naturally stable elements are known to exist. The next step up, the molecular level of combinations of atoms, on the other hand is likely only very sparsely filled with many possible molecules nonexistent. Likewise the space of all possible biology though determined by the emergent laws of chemistry is even less filled as only a minute number of all possible biological organisms has ever existed.

....... What this means in practice is that there are selection processes which select which examples of all possible molecules, and all possible biology, are either actualized in the first place or survive in any particular environment. And those environments as well will also be selected by the whole interacting environment.

....... Nevertheless there are emergent biological laws which are likely very strongly determined, for example given the increased evolutionary success of intelligent species on average (assuming for the moment that intelligence need not inevitably destroy itself) it may well be that emergence almost inevitably converges on the production of intelligence. In fact I think it likely that emergence in general is convergent, that the part determined, part random evolutionary dynamics of the universe may well inevitably strongly converge on certain pre-ordained outcomes, rather than being completely random at the highest levels as is usually assumed. And that these convergences are 'pre-ordained' in the sense that they are the result of the original fine tuning of the laws of nature at the most elementary level. Thus every higher level law of nature including those operant at the highest levels of human social behavior are implicitly contained, or at least strongly constrained by, the fine tuning of the most elemental quantum laws. This fine tuning includes the particular probability constraints of all quantum processes which determine the effective bounds on the randomness of the world, such as the half lives of particular decay processes.

....... Now this theory of convergent emergence is certainly true to some degree, as in the laws of chemistry and physics which are strongly convergent in the sense that they could not be otherwise given the quantum laws. To what degree and what are its convergences is a matter for investigation, and a very interesting topic at that! Again, so far as I know, this theory of convergent emergence is original with me.

....... Now many of these emergent laws, such as the evolution of intelligent life forms, do not emerge until long after the fine tuning of the original laws which were operant at the beginning of the universe. We can clearly state these laws were pre-ordained by the original laws but is there any sense in which we can somehow imagine that the later emergence of the higher level laws somehow had anything to do with the original fine tuning? Is there any possibility of backward or downward causality here that the necessity or later existence of the emergent laws somehow determined the original fine tuning? Or is there any sense in which the original fine tuning occurred so that their far future convergence to human intelligence or other ends could occur?

....... This of course depends on the nature of causality which we normally think of as meaning that post time states in the network of causality are 'caused by' earlier states connected through the network. But 'causality' is a tricky notion. What does 'caused' actually mean other than occurring prior to? Certainly we can write equations about the behavior of something called forces, but what does a force actually mean other than something that occurs predictably prior to something else? Given a set of operant laws it is clear that later states are constrained by earlier states, but it is also equally clear that the earlier states are equally constrained by the later. The earlier states could not have been any different given the later states, just as the later ones could not have been any different given the earlier ones. The idea of earlier 'producing' or 'causing' later seems to be primarily an artifact of the way the human mind processes temporal relations. We could equally claim that the later states somehow 'pull' things as that earlier states somehow 'push' things. All we really know is that we can write equations that reliably specify both before and after states. In fact almost all of the laws of physics are equally valid run either time forward or backward. Most likely all of physical science could be reinterpreted as the present causing the past, and as future forces 'pulling' the past into existence.

....... This is not to deny that clock time passes through the present in the forward direction. In fact my STC theory makes a strong case for this and puts the forward arrow of time on a firm physical foundation. But that is not the same as assuming causality operates in only the forward time direction. In fact it begins to seem as if the whole notion of 'cause' is somehow suspect, something imposed on reality by the human way of looking at things. That is not to say we, or any organism, cannot 'cause' things to happen in the world in the usual sense; it just suggests we cannot be sure that our actions are not equally somehow 'pulled' by their future effects into existence. This can be true in a sense even if the future does not yet exist as it likely does not, as we could equally claim that the inevitable future convergence of the original fine tuning is what pulls our actions towards that convergence in the present just as we could in some sense claim that the inevitable convergent end state of the universe both determined and is determined by the original fine tuning of the laws of nature. I won't speculate about the end state being the other side of the start state and the two way causality being direct at that point but it's an interesting idea, and one with the mythological precedent of the uroboric serpent that bites its own tail.

....... Many of the emergent laws are probably observer dependent, that is they are only apparent from the perspective of particular organisms since every organism will necessarily view reality from its own different perspective and to some extent impose its own organizational rules on its approximations of reality within the cognitive model. E.g. many of the clearly supernatural explanations of natural phenomena which 'emerge' from the subject's interaction of the world are purely imposed rules. It is likely that many more of the rules than we dream are actually rules imposed by the organizational imperative of Mind rather than actually being part of the inherent logical structures of external reality, though given our theory, that is a rather tricky distinction to sort out! The test, of course, is whether any such rule provides accurate predictive results, the test of scientific method.

....... The upshot then is that ALL emergent laws, including even the statistical aggregates of quantum randomness such as half lives, seem to be contained in the fine tuning of a very small set of the most elemental laws, the actual operant laws of nature. These include both the rules which govern elementary particle interactions and the values of the elemental constants. See my forthcoming theory of the elemental (Quantum and pre-Quantum) world for a more detailed discussion.

....... The discussion of convergent emergence also brings up the question of the very obvious intelligence of design of a universe in which chemistry is just such that organic life could originate and evolve through the whole range of enormously complex and intelligent organisms including we humans as well. What do I mean by and how do we measure the intelligence of design? There is a very easy approach. All we have to do is consider what kind of intelligence a human being would require to design, and implement, all aspects of the universe that we currently understand, which is no doubt only the minutest fraction of the actuality. By this simple straightforward measure the intelligence contained in the design of the universe is so many orders of magnitude greater than human intelligence as to be incalculable.

....... I was careful to call this the intelligence of design, rather than intelligent design, so as not to imply the necessity of a designer. The fact that the universe embodies such enormous intelligence, that it manifests it, is not in itself evidence for a designer. Nor, of course is there any apparent evidence that there is not a designer since we have no convincing explanation for the universe's intelligence. Why after all should it be anything other than completely random with even every law of nature and mass of elementary particles changing wildly from moment to moment, or in fact anything existing at all? However it should be noted that those who postulate a designer definitely do not solve the problem of the universe. In fact they only add an additional layer of complexity which itself requires explanation, for the existence of a designer always raises the question of who or what created him and how. It solves nothing and we first should try looking to natural explanations for this riddle lest we be trapped in an unending stack of turtles. Barring the appearance of God himself, or the discovery of the creator's signature encoded in DNA, I fear the logical approach may be simply to accept that it may be meaningless to even ask the question of what is essentially beyond the bounds of the universe, and thus beyond the bounds of mind to even ask meaningful questions.

....... In my mind the existence of God is simply a matter of definition and almost all arguments about God simply are arguments over definitions of God. The simple and elegant solution, if one must have a God, is to simply define God as the intelligence and unfolding energy of the universe itself, or some variation on that. Given that definition there can be no dispute that God does exist and the only issues are what are the characteristics of the universe, which will then be the characteristics of God, and which then become valid subjects for scientific and rational investigation.

* * *


....... Since the organism's cognitive model of reality is necessarily much less than, and only a gross approximation of actual physical reality it is clear that there is potentially plenty of room in reality for logical structures unknown to the cognitive model. Thus it is impossible to rule out any type of paranormal or acausal events a priori. Nevertheless there is little evidence for them insofar as they introduce inconsistencies into our cognitive model. So if we are to look for acausal events we should first look for those consistent with science, even if we have to extend science a bit to accommodate them.

....... There is certainly plenty of evidence for paranormal events if only as psychological events with no correspondents in external reality, and at this point there is little accepted theory of how there could be. What is important to understand is that things can occur within the cognitive model whether or not they have any correspondents in external reality, that is whether or not an equivalent logical structure can be confirmed as consistent with that part of the cognitive model which clearly corresponds to the logical structure of the external world. What I mean by this is the only test of the reality of such events as they occur within the cognitive model is their logical consistency with the remaining preponderance of the model.

....... Thus an important insight, that it is the degree of consistency of the parts of the logical model which is the only possible determinant or measure of their reflection of an external world which we assume obeys largely consistent laws. We'll examine this idea more in the section on Epistemology below.

....... In the quantum world we can in fact make a strong case for calling events acausal. The time of decay of any particular radioactive nucleus is impossible to predict even though in aggregate they decay according to the half life of the particle type. There is no known causality or explanation of any kind for the decay of any particular particle at a particular time, and this acausality is in fact true of every quantum phenomenon to at least some degree, and presumably all classical level occurrences are the results of this acausal substrate. Thus all true randomness (as distinct from deterministic non-computability) at the classical level of human experience is presumably acausal in this sense.

....... Whether there is any hidden causality behind such events is uncertain but I see no reason to assume there might be. Most so called paranormal phenomena are most likely human pattern recognition among causally unconnected events and the projection of such meaningful patterns onto the cognitive model so they are imbued with the sense of being part of external reality. It is clear that this is incredibly easy to do since the entire world we believe we live in is actually a construct of our own mind and thus theoretically can be changed by the mind at will.

....... On the other hand there is always the possibility that what are called 'miracles' might occur. Given a set of seemingly random events that obey some statistical distribution could there be some hidden 'cause' for why event A happens at time T1 rather than event B at time T2 assuming both events preserve the statistical distribution? In other words is there some hidden cause that results in a particle decaying at one time instead of another while the half life of the whole aggregate is preserved? And more importantly are there any equivalent cases at the classical level where say one person decides at the last moment not to board a doomed flight while another just happens to book a vacation on it? Or are all such cases simply due to local causes? Can you think of any cases of true randomness at the classical level which might qualify? If so please let me know... If so randomness might be just a different kind of causality controlled by hidden variables of some sort perhaps being imposed by some sort of downward causality in accordance with veiled objectives. Interesting speculation but I know of no evidence for it. Much more likely that randomness is true at the quantum level because such effects occur prior to the dimensionalization of spacetime. See my forthcoming quantum theory for the explanation.

....... From another perspective though we can simply say that whatever does happen itself defines a measurable point of reality. In that sense every event is a miracle as it defines its own reality simply by occurring. This is a little difficult to explain as it involves a new and totally unfamiliar way of thinking about things. It is simply that in a sense everything is its own cause, that it happens for a reason precisely because its occurrence leads to a causal chain of events that is meaningful, and that this in itself is sufficient to establish the meaningfulness of any event. I suppose this is just the miracle that anything happens at all, whether obviously caused or apparently randomly, but I keep having a feeling there is an additional insight hidden here.

* * *


....... This theory can also be described from an information systems approach. If reality consists only of dynamically evolving forms then it consists entirely of information since every form is entirely information (information is simply form, usually dynamic, that can be carried by some medium), and that information will be about all the effects that produced it back to some distance along the causal network that produced it. Thus the entire physical universe can be understood as filled with a dynamic network of information evolving through clock time. This must include organisms as well which as all things are empty information forms filled with the ontological energy of Being in the Now.

....... Everything, every form state is the exact resultant effect of its entire prior causal network, including even the probabilistic level of the sequence of quantum events. And every form state IS THAT and nothing else. It is the resultant wavefunction of all prior wavefunctions.

....... Thus each form state is the resultant information mix of all its inputs and carries an agglomeration of often hidden knowledge of all prior states mixed together. Thus from using a proper set of filters which allow only the information about particular states through to an antenna tuned to that information we can extract some information about of at least some of the previous states in the network. The analysis of spectra to provide information about the chemistry that produced or light from some radiating object is a simple example.

....... A mind then can be thought of containing perceptual antennae tuned to receive only certain components of the universal information flow. That is it filters signals and retains only what it judges meaningful thus losing most of the available knowledge about the universe contained in its signals.

....... It is extremely important to note that the way concepts of things get built up in the cognitive model is by relating the aspects of many different signals as aspects of the internal concept of that thing. That is repeated observations of what is later categorized as a thing gradually builds up knowledge about the properties or characteristics of that thing and results in it becoming thought of as a thing in the cognitive model. What happens is that various signals contain repeated commonalities and those commonalities are spatially and temporally repeated and functionally as well and thus become perceived and stored as aspects of a single discriminated thing. The associated differences in each signal are all added to the concept as they occur as additional though variable characteristics of it. For example a person could be doing different things at different times but not lose its thingness as the same person. Likewise additional characteristics can be added to that thing concept via communication from the cognitive model of another organism when the similarities can first be established to ensure both cognitive models can confidently determine they are talking about the 'same' thing. Nevertheless two cognitive models will never share an exactly identical concept of even a single thing because there will always be characteristics differences and differences of context with the different cognitive models, even if they are as simple as viewing it from different angles.

....... From information theory we know that the particular signal that is extracted from the total ambient signal depends on the specific filter and antenna tuning that is used by the receiver. In biological systems this sensory perceptual system is organism specific and to a great degree even individual organism specific even with the many shared commonalities between organisms of the same species. Thus any particular organism can only extract input signals it can be tuned to receive. For example a human 'antenna' is not tuned to receive X-rays. However for any signal to be extracted it must of course be an actual component of the total ambient signal.

....... Even so, the extracted signal's subsequent representation within the cognitive world model is an additional step in which the extracted signal is 'cleaned' of 'noise' which does not seem to fit with its world model representation and then embedded in the context of the world model where it is most likely represented as an event specific instance of some more universal conceptual unit whose established properties and relationships provide context with other nodes within the network of the model. In this way the model provides putative information about the specific instance extracted from the representation of its general case even if it was absent from that instance of that extracted signal itself. For example a friendly appearing lion is tagged as potentially dangerous since the general category of lion it is correlated with has the attribute of being dangerous.

....... Importantly the resultant representation in the cognitive model is normally of what is imputed to have generated the signal rather than the signal itself. That is we don't say and our minds don't think 'I see a pattern of colored light impinging on my eye'. What we say and believe we see and the mind processes, is instead 'I see a man wearing a blue shirt'. So the extracted signal itself is not what is incorporated into the world model but what we interpret the signal as representing, as what our mind interprets as having produced the signal. This is what our mind extracts as a set of characteristics, which referred to similar instances stored within the cognitive model with a compendium of more complete set of characteristics sufficient to well define a thing such as a man and a shirt, that define the extracted signal as representing (being produced by), a known thing, that is a particular instance of a general set 'men' which shares properties of the men set but which is characterized by additional adjectival properties which identify this particular instance of the men set as to its peculiarities of time, space location and dress, properties which are not required men set properties, but which are allowed men set properties in the sense that an instance having these properties is not excluded from the set of men.

* * *


....... Epistemology is the study of the correspondence of the cognitive world model with the structure of actual physical reality; that is how do we know the world, and how well do we it. It is basically the study of the nature of I will call 'illusion', that is how any particular mind such as a human mind filters and reformulates reality in its own cognitive approximation of that reality, and how this distorts the actual reality of an external world to the extent it is even meaningful to speak of one.

....... Since every organism ultimately has experience only of its own inner cognitive model of reality, how can we possibly measure the accuracy of that inner model? What would it even mean to have accurate knowledge of the external world if all we ever know in any case is only our own inner world? After all even the finest epistemological theory is actually only itself another experience of that inner world. How can we ever really know we are not just deluding ourselves and living in a world entirely of our own making with either no necessary correspondence to any external world, or even the possibility that no such external world even need exist?

....... These are not easy questions and certainly in the ultimate sense may be unanswerable. Yet it is quite clear that at least our conscious mind has no power to change the reality of our cognitive model willy nilly. That quite obviously unfolds according to its own laws whether we will it or not, and even if the events of that unfolding are experienced as truly horrible. If the world was actually only the product of our own mind why would it often seem so apparently hostile to its model of ourselves as a discrete organism? From this it is clear that one way to define external reality is as that part of of cognitive model we have no control over changing not the details of say the placements of things, but the logical rules that underlie it.

....... Herein seems to lie the master key to epistemology. In some sense it is the internal logical consistency of the rules and data structures of the cognitive model. We may that we have knowledge of the world to the extent that our higher order conceptual structures about the world are consistent with the rules by which the representation of the world in our cognitive model actually unfolds. However this definition applies mainly to our human capacity to symbolically represent the elements of our cognitive model in language and thought. On the more primitive level of the logic of things, that is the rules by which our representation of the cognitive model itself unfolds, the criterion is ultimately simply that of internal logical consistency. To the extent an organism's cognitive model of reality is internally consistent we say it contains knowledge of reality, and by extension of the world represented in that model.

....... Let me explain how this works with a simple example. Say a logical processing sequence of the cognitive model is 'If I stick my hand in the fire I WON'T get burned. Then I experience in my cognitive model sticking my hand in the fire (my perception of actually doing so) and I feel the pain of being burned. There was a simple logical inconsistency in my cognitive model, therefore it did not express accurate knowledge of itself, there was an inaccuracy encoded in it. It is such inconsistencies which inform us when knowledge is lacking, is incorrect, something we can in fact never actually know, since everything we know including the computations above, all occurs solely within the cognitive model.

....... Take another example of reading an investigative report in a newspaper. The reading of it is a representation in our cognitive model, and what we read another, and then our remembrance of what it said is another representation. To the degree those last two are consistent our knowledge of the article (though not necessarily the facts reported by the article) are accurate. They are both representations in the cognitive model, one of which we can change and one of which, our remembrance, we may be able to change by rereading and better improving the consistency of the remembrance with the original. Here again knowledge appears to be only consistency between related parts of a cognitive model.

....... The underlying assumption or conclusion here is that the external world itself is consistent, or at least largely so, since the parts of the cognitive model we have no conscious control over appear to be consistent, that is logical causal like rules apply, and to the degree we make those over which we do have control consistent as well then that part of the cognitive model which models our ability to function in the world represents effective if not always optimal function. At least that is how the situation is represented in my cognitive model though I can't be sure if it is the same in yours, or even in the last analysis that you have one!

....... So primarily it is the consistency between those areas of the cognitive model which we believe represent objective reality, and those we believe represent our conceptions of that external reality, that are involved when we claim to have knowledge of the world. Though we actually know both are often equally subject to misrepresentations subsequently revealed by internal inconsistencies and presumably always subject to improvement.

....... Thus it is clear that improving our knowledge consists in adding to the cognitive model and improving it so that as many aspects as possible are tightly integrated into a logically consistent whole. Note that this whole discussion is predicated on the fact of the primacy of logic. This is one of the most important aspects of this theory and is perhaps the greatest informational understanding we can have about reality, that it is organized logically. There is a separate section on that below.

....... Thus an important insight, that it is the degree of consistency of the parts of the logical model which is the only possible determinant or measure of their reflection of an external world which we assume obeys largely consistent laws. So it is only the logical consistency of our cognitive model that we take as evidence we are in touch with an external reality, that there even is such an external reality. And we clearly are not in control of forcing that consistency by will power alone, it emerges of its own in our mind. Logic seems to rule all, whether we recognize it and accept it or not.

....... This is not to say that all representations of things and activities are highly integrated into a single consistent structure, or even should be. Very often they are not. There are always areas of the cognitive model which must incorporate uncertainties of several types, and it is necessary this be so so they may be held in the cognitive model and evaluated until their place within the model gradually becomes clearer. This is the only way it is possible to learn by gradually reducing uncertainty about things and their properties and relationships. Also the parts of the cognitive model all tend to have fuzzy edges at their borders. The test of a good mind is not that these don't exist but that there is enough fair certainty such that there are strong and robust connections between most of the subareas of the cognitive model, especially among those that are critical to survival and general functioning.

....... Things can go wrong however. In many cases there are a number of important but unintegrated independent subprocesses which do not call relevant other processes for optimization or quality control. Thus we often find inconsistent actions originating from poorly connected subprocesses such as saying one thing while doing another, the phenomenon of hypocrisy in which there is a disconnect of the processes leading to actions from those formulating policy or expressing beliefs. These are all the results of computational processes of the mind, but in this case poorly integrated ones. More on this in Appendix B: Argumentation.

....... Human knowledge of the world is intrinsically limited. It is certainly true that a minute part of the universe, a human mind, can not ever be expected to understand the whole universe of which it is only a part; at best it will be able to understand an infinitesimal fraction of all facts and likely only a few of the general laws of nature the universe operates by. What is knowable is completely limited by the structural organization and small size of the human brain. The best that can be expected is for it to understand a little bit of its local environment through direct experience and some general principles which govern the whole.


....... It is interesting that human language doesn't even have a good term for the unified logico mathematical grammatical structure of human reason that encompasses all levels from the simplest common sense to the highest realms of mathematics and physical science, for the computational processing that includes picking up objects, manipulation of emotional decisions, and the solving of highly abstract mathematical theorems. This lacuna certainly indicates the concept itself is broadly lacking in our thinking. However all these computational modes are part and parcel of the single computational capacity of the mind. I'll provisionally refer to this entire structure as the LMGS (logico mathematical grammatical structure), and it is this LMGS that encompasses the whole logical structure of the human understanding of the way reality works including the self's place in the mind's model of the world. It is the entire logical and relational structure of the cognitive model.

....... We now take a new look at some of the terminology of epistemology. Our goal here is to cleanly define some of the terminology so that it encompasses the whole notion of epistemology and within that each term precisely expresses one main aspect of what knowledge is and how it is obtained, manipulated and tested in terms of our theory. For improved clarity and effectiveness of analysis the standard terminology of epistemology needs to be redefine from the novel perspective of our theory in a manner that is elegant, simple and complete. By doing so we wed epistemology to cognitive science and our theory of reality.

....... Knowledge is the accurate structural correspondence of some portion of the cognitive world model with the logical structure of that aspect of reality it represents and approximates. To the extent that a model has logico-mathematical correspondence with the actual physical laws that govern external reality a mind is said to have knowledge of the external world. To the extent that our internal model is accurate we say we 'know' something about the real world.

....... Understanding is similar to knowledge but with emphasis on underlying dynamic logical structure as opposed to knowledge of the states of things. The ability to predict events in the real world is the measure of understanding within the portion of the cognitive model that maps those events. Since understanding describes knowledge of how things work it requires such a functional definition to be meaningful. If one understands something that means one should be able to make accurate predictions about its future states. One's degree of understanding is measured by this ability.

....... Truth is an accurate reporting of some aspect of a cognitive model, an accurate mapping of one aspect of the cognitive model by another representing 'knowledge' of the first.

....... Intelligence is the ability of a mind to effectively solve real world problems within its environment by correctly processing its cognitive world model's representation of that environment. It is measured by the success of the individual organism within its environment in any particular situation ceteris equibus. Any situation that requires a mind to make a decision is effectively an intelligence test. It emphasizes facility with effective manipulation of the logical structure of the cognitive model. That environment need not include a self construct for the organism to exhibit intelligence.

....... There are many very intelligent people who have little wisdom or rationality. Intelligence is the ability to reach sound logical conclusions from premises by manipulating the details of an organism's cognitive world model. In humans this includes grammatical logic in addition to simple logic but among all organisms it is primarily the ability to accurately apply the logic of things which we will have more to say about below.

....... Rationality is the effective use of intelligence on accurate representations of reality, of valid reasoning from true premises, and importantly of ensuring that all premises are explicitly recognized and tested. Rationality is the addition of sound premises to intelligence. Many so called intelligent people may be quite adept at logical manipulation and still reach poor conclusions because they start with unsound premises, many of which are part of their unrecognized cognitive programming. So rationality is the incorporation of sound premises with intelligent deductions. Rationality also includes methodologies to develop and test the soundness of premises.

....... Wisdom is rationality based on broad experience and learning. It refers to the degree of completeness of the cognitive model's accurate representation of the environment processed with superior intelligence. Wisdom is the additional incorporation of a broad range of experience into the cognitive computational process so that the intelligence can operate on the broadest possible set of soundly established relevant premises.

....... Abstract thought is first simply the processing of a cognitive model. In our model all organismic thought must be abstract thought as all processing is of abstract components of an internal cognitive model rather than of actual world 'things'. Thus all organisms think abstractly as they always manipulate representations in their cognitive models rather than actual things in the world. In fact the absence of abstract thought is an oxymoron since it would require the mind to somehow manipulate actual things in the world rather than cognitive representations of things. It's an impossibility and it is amazing this has not been recognized. There is of course a higher level recursive notion of abstract thought, that of the manipulation of representations of an internal model of another part of the cognitive model identified with external reality in the cognitive model. That is purposefully manipulating thoughts about the real world as it is represented in mind. Nevertheless absent the recursion the mechanism is the same, the processing of representations at whatever level in the cognitive model.

....... Consciousness is simply the experience of an organism of the processing and state of its own cognitive model. All organisms are conscious by this definition as they are all aware of the external world in its representation in their cognitive model. See http://EdgarLOwen.com/HardProblem.pdf for the complete theory of consciousness.

....... Self Consciousness is the experience of an organism of a subsystem of its cognitive model that itself models portions of the cognitive model. It is the experience of experiencing one's cognitive model.

....... Sentience is awareness like consciousness, though it normally emphasizes more the awareness of feelings. Again this is something that all organisms possess.

....... Meaning is a particular 'quality' of feeling associated with informational content in the cognitive model. The intensity of this quality determines the 'meaningfulness' of the associated data structure.

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.......As we have seen above the universe can be understood as information only, dynamically unfolding according to its intrinsic laws. In this view all events stand in an immense loosely quantum connected network of quasi causal events and each such event can be interpreted as an xperience. It is these xperiences which are the fundamental elements of reality but the comparison of multiple events results in the emergence of the structural network of quasi causally connected events. Thus every sensory input to any organismic system, can if properly analyzed, be seen to carry information about the events which output that signal. Thus every input can be 'read', its signal processed to extract information which can be analyzed to produce a cognitive model of the event(s) which produced the signals. From this perspective the entire universe consists of the transmission of information, as the universe consists of forms and forms always carry information about the events which generated them.

....... Now in the most basic sense the information content of the universe is a language, the language of the universe, which carries all possible information about the universe and unfolds according to the laws of nature which can be thought of as the grammar of this language! Language in the absolutely broadest possible sense I use it here includes all information of any type expressed in whatever medium. Organismic languages are simple special cases of this most general phenomenon, which is the universe itself. In this view the universe consists entirely of linguistic descriptions of itself expressed in the statements called xperiences in the language of the universe according to the grammatical rules of the laws of nature. The universe in its entirety is an open book waiting to be read!

....... Now of course all organisms are part of the universe, and like all other parts, they too continually express their existence in every quasi causal information chain that emanates from them. In this sense every external effect of every organism is an expression in the language of the universe about changes in its state. Thus every discernible action of any type any organism produces in the world carries information about its internal states and is in fact a language of sorts.

....... The reading, the decipherment of such signals in the context of the recipients cognitive world model, of all such actions by other organisms according to their interests constitutes an extraordinarily rich language by which enormous amounts of relevant information are communicated. For example, every minute variation in delivery of a 'standard' bird song expresses many subtle details about the state of the singer, its emotive state, its state of health, its location both current and original expressed in dialect, its status, and so on. All such vocalizations and subtleties of movement, actions and odors and so on, all tend to be 'read' quite well in great subtlety by other organisms for their relevant information content which can be quite rich in meaning. These languages of all creatures are all read quite fluently by other pre-linguistic (re human type languages) organisms for whom meaning is primarily carried by vocal subtlety and carriage and movement. E.g. the wolf easily reads the state of its prey by the way it moves since the way it moves is a language expressing its condition, age, edibility and so forth. In the broadest sense this includes all externally apparent actions by all organisms as all such actions contain information as they are expressions of information.

....... Humans too still retain a large capacity for such pre-linguistic communication much of which functions at the pre-conscious level such as the reading of body language, though many of the subtleties are relatively untrained compared to other animals. Specifically human languages on the other hand, largely replace, or perhaps augment, the direct reading of body language by symbolic languages in which one symbol or phonemic set stands one to one for a well defined specific information component such as a particular thing, an action, a property or a relationship, or any named thing, concept, action, property or relationship. Though a much greater wealth of detailed information can be expressed in such symbolic languages, their adaptation has tended to leave untrained the natural sensitivity of pre-linguistic communication that other organisms retain and excel in.

....... Now since most organisms are pre-linguistic and yet are able to effectively and rationally compute on their cognitive world models we must ask what is the structure of the data representation and the logical rules that allow such computation if they are not linguistic in the sense of representing things, properties of things and relationships between things? It is difficult to imagine any workable logical system in non-human animals that did not operate upon such well defined elemental units. On the other hand raw experience itself consists only in fluctuations of qualia which are not things so much as a continuous flow of types of 'feelings' in our extended sense. It is clear since Piaget that the notion of things, properties and relationships etc. as units only emerges as mind develops and the flow of experience feelings is cognitively organized. Thus it seems reasonable to assume that this process occurs generally within the minds of organisms to greater or lesser degrees relevant to the environmental life of the organism.

....... So I think it is safe to assume that all more complex organismic minds incorporate cognitive structures built of the same basic elemental things, properties, relationships and so on even though formatted differently by each species and to some extent even each individual organism. In that case the reason that pre-linguistic organisms do not speak symbolic languages is that are not able to generally achieve a one to one correlation of sounds or symbols to those elemental units of their cognitive structure. The fact that some species can be taught to do so to some degree certainly indicates those elements are present in their cognitive structure. Perhaps what is required is a higher order recognition of such units as cognitive units rather than just experiencing them without noting they are being experienced as a separate self referential additive unit within the cognitive model. In other words the pre-linguistic organism's mind contains and computes upon such units but does not generally contain other units noting the existence of the first units. Thus it can experience and manipulate such units, but not generally experience that it is experiencing and manipulating these units.

....... So all organisms, all their cognitive models themselves by their activities produce information carrying effects within the shared local external reality. These effects are all added to the network of information bearing signals used by other organisms as perceptual inputs. Each organism reads this language according to its own nature and abilities. All such information signals carry information about their source, in this case the organism that produced them and thus in many cases about the mind, the cognitive model, of the generating organism. In more complex organisms there is also the higher order production of one to one symbolic signals that function to convey more precisely a one to one mapping of their cognitive world model and thus much more specifically accurate information about how the organism's mind structures its cognitive model of the world. This reaches its most complex form in the language of humans.

....... The cognitive model maps selected information from the environment to produce a dynamic computational world model of the changing reality of that environment. Human symbolic languages add to that a logico-grammatical structure which symbolically maps the organism's cognitive model in its symbolic and logico-grammatical structure, at least to a useful approximation of some of it. This enables the production of precise commonly understandable information structures in a form which can be shared among other organisms which are language capable in that particular symbology. This is the function of human languages such as English in which this article is written.

....... It is important to understand that all languages encode mappings of internal realities, of mind models which they describe rather than direct mappings onto a real physical observerless external reality. Nevertheless language using organisms tend to believe language describes the external reality since they devoutly believe that the world they live in is an external reality rather than the internal cognitive world model it actually is. The struggle to understand the reality of an external world and to cut through the observer dependent illusion of the internal cognitive model will be discussed in the sections on Enlightenment and the Nature of illusion below.

....... What we are trying to get at in this section is how information is stored in the cognitive model. What is the basic logical organizational and processing structure shared by all organisms in their own way. Is it stored linguistically or pre-linguistically? Our conclusion is that the grammar of human languages and logic reveals a very similar pre-linguistic organizational structure as the organizational structure of all organismic minds. I think only if that were true would organisms of all types be able to perform the intelligent processing of their cognitive models evidenced by their effective behaviors in the world. I call this basic organizational structure common to all organisms, and thus apparently by extension the external world, the logic of things.

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....... The logic of things refers to the basic common sense logic of process and things in the physical world which must be pretty much common to all organisms as it is required for successful existence in their environments which all being part of the same physical world as modeled in my cognitive model must all follow the same laws of nature that govern that common external world. This logic of things defines the logical structure of the cognitive world model of all organisms and it is valid logical processing on these cognitive structures that enables organisms to succeed in their actual physical environments. Essentially this is just the application of common sense logic and elementary physics to the daily life level of interaction of organisms with their environments, but in fact it is the codification of this logic of things and the extraction of commonalities and underlying principles that has led to the insights of formal logic and elementary physics.

....... Though these are the operational rules that govern all organismic activities in the world there is surprisingly, so far as I know, no recognition of it as a scientific study in its own right and its basic rules have not been rigorously specified though of course every robot that functions in the world must be programmed with at least a subset of these logical rules. Here I'll present a very cursory overview of what I mean by the logic of things to indicate what I'm talking about. The logic of things is simply the rules by which all organismic minds represent and process their cognitive models of reality and we can only hope someone will soon give us a rigorous statement of the totality of all these rules.

....... Central is the concept of discriminated individual things, which are defined by sets of properties also of different types, such as colors, vocalizations, speed of motion, and so on. Things move through space and time as units and they move continuously in the sense they don't disappear here and appear there. They continue to move as units through space and time until their thingness breaks down. Property sets which do not move through space and time together are not things but temporary juxtapositions of properties.

....... Central also is the notion of relationships among things. For example the prey type fish is found in the water thing. The lion thing is likely to stalk and kill the zebra thing but only when it has the property of hunger. The zebra thing is only catchable when it is within a certain distance, unless other properties or relationships apply.

....... There are a whole slew of such elementary rules such as that two material things can't be in the same place at the same time, that in general events have causes even if some are unknown and thus ascribed to supernatural or religious causes, that larger things tend to be more massive, and thus that larger moving things are potentially more dangerous, that running into a solid object causes pain and the risk of injury. Also fundamental is the common sense view of space and time as continuous stages within which events occur, which leads to other rules such as if there is space behind something something else could be hiding there, and the notion of negation or negativity such as if there is not space for something it cannot be there. Another is that fire hurts and injures.

....... The rule of the continuous persistence of a material object through space and time absent some cause of its destruction is the root of the notion and rules of number. That is every such material object is one thing and cannot suddenly become duplicated or vanish without cause. From this applied to multiple objects the notion of numbers of things, and general purpose notions such as several things or many things arises and is extracted. The application of the persistence of things when there are multiple instances leads then to the notion of basic mathematics of things, for example that if there are two instances of things that cannot causelessly become one thing or three, and therefore that to get 1 or 3 from 2 one instance, one number, must be removed or added.

....... Also central is the notion of absence of something, of negation or non being. This is used in logic such as understanding that something can only be used once, or that if it goes away it can't be used. This also leads to the numerical concept of zero which must be present in some form or other to facilitate the logic of things.

....... Key also are the simple logical rules associated with signs of things, like the scent of a mouse indicating the presence of a mouse along its scent trail to a pursuing snake, or the sound of an injured animal indicating a likely easy meal. Even the sight of anything is of course basically only such a sign of the thing and not the thing itself.

....... There are also all of the comparison rules, such as an animal being able to accurately compare and evaluate whether its athletic ability is capable of performing some task of running, jumping, swimming, or killing.

....... Also important for social animals are the basic rules governing interactions of group members such as submissiveness defuses aggression and aggressive towards weaker members defuses aggression from them. There are a whole host of such rules that have been individually revealed animal researchers but so far as I know not codified into an unified logical system of the type necessary to simulate the behavior of an entire social group.

....... Though many of the basic rules are simple and common sensical the actual computational process an organism uses to process all of them as it plans and conducts its activity are enormously complex and the way they are inter applied highly situation dependent.

....... Other examples are storm clouds and thunder and lightening likely signify rain in that direction, and water and fresh grass will likely be found there. Many such rules are species specific and relate particular aspects of the world such as relevant food sources, mating opportunities and so one, while the basic set of rules will be common to all material organisms. Some of this logic of things is hardwired into the structure of the brain which is designed to accommodate and encode it, but much is extracted from each individual organism's experience with events in the physical world especially those revealed by experiencing the interactions of a parent animal with it.

....... In the logic of things we can recognize a number of element types such as categories and instances. Things are recognized as separate things but also as instances of categories of things. This gnu is an instance of the type gnu and can be expected to behave within the bounds that the type gnus are known to behave. And the type gnu is defined by extracting instances of gnu things and aggregating their common properties.

....... It is quite clear that this logic of things which governs the actions of non-human animals also governs the ordinary daily actions of humans. Thus it is really vital to develop a complete understanding of these rules which define the basic logical structure of the cognitive model of all organisms. As we pointed out above this is strong evidence that the cognitive models of all organisms contain this type of structure based on discriminated things, properties, relationships and so as to be amenable to logical manipulation. It is also then clear that the expression of such structure in human language and logic closely maps the basic memory structure of all organisms at least in overview.

....... Language however in its one to one mapping of words with things is a very convenient over simplification that makes simply logical manipulation and understanding easier but misses much of the subtlety of the actual logic of things whose boundaries are intrinsically fuzzy since they are continually being updated by perception. In the cognitive model the 'definition' of a thing is continually being dynamically updated and cobbled together from associated snippets of perception and reference to similar stored things in memory. In language however there will be one particular word for that thing even though its cognitive representation will be continually fluctuating at least in its non core defining properties. In language we can of course express at least some of this by qualifying a thing with denotations of its salient momentary properties, but there is some disparity here.

....... To some extent this introduces problems in language as well. One problem is that most definitions of daily use words are essentially arbitrary, conventional and supported by some degree of utility in common speak rather than being precise in any scientific or logical sense. One can always find, or construct for example in the case of furniture, examples of objects which are transitional between say chairs and sofas, so all such definitions will always remain fuzzy at the boundaries. One can think of the situation as as n-dimensional Venn diagram where each dimension corresponds to a relevant to the definition property, e.g. upholstered or not, can you sit in it or not, etc. When one tries to draw boundaries around the distributions of all categorizable objects on such a Venn diagram so as to form a set corresponding to 'sofa' or 'chair' one will find in the general case objects which are strictly non-classifiable as their properties overlap or even contradict. Nevertheless most classifiable objects will fit neatly into such bounded sets so the definitions work, they just must be recognized as fuzzy at their boundaries so that policy and decision making based on such definitions must also have some leeway if it is to accommodate actual reality.

....... Of course the logic of thing is also what we humans use nearly every second to successfully carry out all our daily activities. The elementary logical reasoning that governs if we drop something it falls down, and if it's on the floor we must bend over and pick it up to place it back on the table, or remembering our daily commutes, or that we must stick our key in our ignition to start our car, are all simple logical sequences without which we simply could not function. Though high level examples such as these are easy to state and understand, the actual carrying out of even relatively simple daily actions requires an enormous interlocking network of such simple sequences each of which inputs or outputs into the others. It actually requires a very sophisticated logical computational sequence as is clearly demonstrated by the enormous complexity of robotic control systems able only to perform rather simple tasks. Both humans and other animals alike share this efficient and effective use of the logic of things to function successfully in very complex environments. The actual elements that the logic operates on will vary considerably depending on the organism and its environment, but the underlying causal logic must be extraordinarily similar for all species to effectively function in the same physical world.

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....... So far as I know there are absolutely no cases in which reality does not obey the rules of standard logic, both at the level of logic of things as well as the application of rigorous logic to such things as mathematical proofs. This small set of rather simple rules seem to be absolutely universal so far as anyone can tell in their application to cognitive models of all types to describe correct representations of the external physical world and all cognitive processing. Thus this small set of logical rules must be part of the actual physical laws of nature, that is part of actual physical reality. Scientific method explicitly recognizes this and any physical or mathematical theorem is judged on the validity of its logic, in the case of mathematical theorems entirely so. Thus it is clear that simple logic is itself the most direct experience of actual physical reality that we know as all other notions of reality are judged by it first and foremost.

....... All cases in which valid logical arguments have led to conclusions falsified by evidence have always on review been based on some unsubstantiated premise rather than being failures of logic itself. Even in seemingly paradoxical descriptions of the quantum world it is not logic that is at fault but the apparent falsity of some of our long standing assumptions about the laws of nature such as that of locality. No matter how paradoxical the quantum world may seem no quantum physicist would dream of writing a paper that did not strictly follow the rules of standard logic.

....... Nor does Godel's theorem invalidate the primacy and validity of logic. It merely proves the incompleteness of mathematical systems of certain complexity in that all possible true theorems within such a system may not be provable from the axioms of that system. And how does Godel prove this? He of course uses logic! His proof would never have been accepted had he not used it and used it rigorously.

....... However it must be noted that the primacy of logic is totally dependent on the discrimination of things. Without well defined things, properties and relationships that do not change their essential thingness logic loses its applicability to reality. One cannot reason that 'if A then B, and if B then C, then if A then C' if A, B or C keep changing their thingness. But in fact thingness is always changing at all but the most elemental level. Thus logic itself is valid but we must always be careful how we apply it to things which for the most part are inherently fuzzy and mutable. Logic seems secure, but our discrimination of discrete things from the continuous flow of xperience is tenuous at best.

....... Logic and math themselves seem immutably valid. A reader gave the counter example of objects which when combined do not form two objects - one ice cream + one ice cream = one gooey mess, not two ice creams. The problem with this example is the valid application of math and logic depends on the continuity of the 'thingness' of the things to which they are applied during the duration of the application. In this example the thingness of the ice cream cones failed. Math didn't fail, only the thingness of what it was being applied to changed, therefore the application to those things was invalid.

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....... The first step in analyzing what we call the self, is to recognize that it means at least two different things. One is the notion of what I call 'the watcher decider' or the 'self consciousness' which functions as a higher level monitor of the activities of the organism. A great many people identify with this notion of the self rather than their whole organism. However the necessary corollary of that view is that all the rest of the organism, including almost all of its computational processes are then somehow not one's self. This is clearly a faulty view as it denies our identity with ourselves as a complete organism. So we need to keep this distinction in mind and ensure that we do not accept the delusion that 'we' are only our self consciousness rather than our entire being. That should be obvious.

....... In a sense all that any organism experiences is in fact its self since the totality of its experience is that of its own cognitive model which is an aspect of its self. However in more complex organisms that cognitive model contains a developed representation of the organism as a thing among other things. Thus the self is itself a cognitive construct and part of the cognitive world model. We say such organisms are 'self' conscious. This model of oneself within the cognitive model can be called the 'objective self', it is the notion of all the various parts of one's organism considered objectively from a focus of mind outside then rather than being experienced from the inside as the watcher is. Thus we have the paradox of the watcher self watching its objective self, and also even watching its watcher self, that is being aware of itself watching. We also have an analogous situation in being able to feel any touch as either the thing being touched or the feeling of the touch elicited in the skin, and we can even compound this conundrum by touching ourselves!

....... The watcher decider or subjective self is strongly developed in humans at least as a self aware conscious focus which selectively scans ongoing mental processes and has the power to oversee decisions. We human minds tend to strongly identify with this focus as our self, rather than identifying with our whole mind, our cognitive model, or our whole organism, even to the point of denying consciousness to those organisms we believe don't share it.

....... That however is a delusion since much of the time we are simply directly aware of experience without even remembering our self experiencing. In emergencies we instantly act with heightened experience with no notion of self. We simply directly act with full experience. Only later do we begin thinking of ourself having that experience. This clearly shows that self consciousness is only intermittent and not at all required to experience or be conscious. This self consciousness largely serves as an as needed intermittent high level quality control that monitors and gives final approval to tentative actions.

....... So just what is this unique experience of the watcher, or the self aware focus of attention, which we tend to identify with so strongly as our 'real self'? It is a rather unique subroutine in the mind which is aware of mental processes as mental processes rather than most of our awareness which is of mental processes experienced as aspects of the external world. It is not really our 'true self' as it isn't even present much of the time when we just experience the cognitive model as the world directly without remembering it is 'we' who are doing the experiencing. This is especially true in the heightened consciousness of emergency responses when everything is brilliantly clear but we are not aware of ourselves making decisions and actions that just seem to make themselves. It is the 'in the groove' effect when the self aware watcher self effectively vanishes and the intensity of the reality of being is directly experienced.

....... The watcher is a subsystem that is the experience of experiencing rather than just a subroutine engaged in experience itself. It is normally experienced as a conscious, that is aware, focus on the experience it is experiencing, often the unique awareness of itself watching and focusing, though it is possible to defocus it and experience the entire field of experience more or less simultaneously. In general it flits from point to point within the ongoing complex of experience where it can merely observe, or itself initiate additional subroutines that may judge or alter ongoing experiential processes. This quality control or overview function indicates it either contains some computational capability or the ability to call other subroutines that do. Nevertheless it must be clearly understood that almost all of the computational subroutines of mind are largely unconscious until brought into the focus of the watcher self, and many are beyond the range of its focus.

....... It is this self which seems to provide the illusion that 'we' dwell within our physical body most often in the brain, though in some cultures the location of this self seems to have been in the heart. In fact, with practice, one can move the center of that focus through the body. In its production of a sense of location of our self it is what keeps us feeling located in our physical, or rather our energy body (see my page on Chi) which can be experienced as a feeling of some tension or resistance to sudden dislocation. This is clearly felt in abrupt, unexpected motions or disorientations, or free fall when one clearly feels the panic of the watcher self temporarily loosing its orientation within the body. It can also be experienced in so called out of body experiences (OBEs). The most important insight from OBEs is not to understand how our location could be experienced as outside our body, but to understand why it is normally experienced located inside our body! After all this experience of location of self is simply another artifact of how our cognitive model represents reality to our mind. It is obviously just one of the many 'feelings' or qualia complexes completely added by our minds.

....... In fact this strong feeling of rigid position of the self within the body represents a kind of 'blockage' of chi energy. It is beneficial to the free flow and refreshment of chi energy to be able to release this which may be one of the perceived benefits of bungee jumping, skydiving and similar extreme sports which involve free falling. A useful mediation technique to achieve this is meditate in front of a waterfall concentrating on the falling water that constantly falls while the waterfall remains in its place. When one's mind suddenly falls freely with the waterfall while remaining still and centered one has achieved the release of the blockage of the grip of the location of self and one experiences this location for the illusion that it is.

....... The very fact that the system which assigns 'feelings' or qualia to informational sequences in such as way that some of them produce feelings perceivable by the watcher decider self such as emotions and physical feelings like pain and pleasure is proof positive that these are inputs to a decision making subsystem at the level of the watcher decider. If the watcher decider did not actually make decisions what would be the adaptive function of having it be aware of such feelings on which to evaluate and motivate its decisions and actions? It would easily be possible to prioritize the various action subroutines via some mechanism that did not involve perceptual feedback but only rational importance ranking. However this clearly would not in general be as adaptive as getting the physical body's emotional and feeling evaluation of prospective actions as it is the physical body that is the main priority to ensure the survival of. This implies the necessity of a watcher decider 'self' which makes decisions at least partially on the basis of feeling prioritized rankings.

....... So my point here is that if prioritization is done (at least partially) in terms of emotions and feelings then there absolutely MUST be a 'feeler' that does the choosing based on such feelings. That that feeler-decider is at least one aspect of the 'self'. It certainly requires some concept of 'self' as active high level decider and indicates though many decisions may be made prior to consciousness by lower level computational processes, at least some are made by the watcher decider self.

....... So the concept of 'self' is a little tricky and refers to a couple different aspects of the cognitive model. One of its primary functions that of quality control over feeling weighted actions that bubble up spontaneously from the whole being. By evaluating such spontaneous actions on the basis of both emotional correlates and rationality the self can either allow, quash or modify such actions. If this function is weak we say that person has 'poor impulse control' which leads to problems in a social structure where impulse control is one of the primary requirements. Of course this quality control function can also be too strong and that also leads to problems such as less spontaneous enjoyment of life. (See my page on Chi for more on that.)

....... So, to sum up, the fact that emotional feelings serve as action subroutine prioritization does imply that that a separate dynamic which 'feels' these emotions is what is doing the choosing among them. We can agree that whatever the 'self' may be that would be one aspect of it. The evolutionary function and genesis of the watcher decider self is to provide a higher level quality control on potential actions that bubble up from more directly instinctual sources. It is an absolute requirement to exercising the self control necessary to maintain stable social order and thus for civilization to exist.

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....... In our theory all other minds are simply seen as parts of our own cognitive model, yet we quite frequently have the experience of getting inside another's mind, of sharing minds to some extent, especially with those we are especially close to, as if it were somehow possible to partially escape the bounds of the physical self and merge cognitive models. Basically it's the experience of other minds as other selves rather than simply intelligent objects.

....... Each mind is a observer singularity at the center of its external world. We experience ourself as essentially different than all other beings in our cognitive model. How then do we imbue some other minds the characteristics of living intelligent emotional loving and caring beings we directly experience only within ourselves? Or can we in fact directly experience this aspect of other mind's cognitive models as well some how?

....... In essence this experience is no more surprising than our pervasive imbuing of the physical world with all types of 'feelings' such as hardness or coldness that do not actually exist in the physical world but which make it seem so real to us and thus enable us to evaluate our interaction with that world and imbue it with meaning. This is not to imply that either type of experience is less real than we experience it. Its sense of reality comes precisely from our experience of its reality via the feelings we imbue our cognitive model with. That must not be taken as diminishing the feelings or their validity in any way.

....... In fact it is possible to experience the totality of ones cognitive model, including the representation of an external physical world, in this same intimate manner. One understands how this is possible by recalling that both exists equally and entirely in one's own mind and thus the distinction between self and all instances of not self are just categories within mind that can be bridged.

....... This experience of loving intimacy and union with the world is explicitly described in religious teachings in a variety of terms such as 'opening oneself to the universe' or the Zen aphorism 'Awaken the mind while dwelling nowhere' and it is also exemplified in the poetry of Walt Whitman who constantly writes from the perspective of lover and beloved of everything in existence. Essentially this is just the attitude one takes towards his own inner world which properly understood contains the experience of the entire external world. Certainly the easiest way to achieve and practice this is in complete surrender to a human lover so that the cognitive representation of the lover is completely re-categorized as in barrier-less union with the cognitive representation of one's own being. With practice one can then extend this experience to all things.

....... Of course normally the evolutionary reason this experience is not the usual one is to establish a wary psychological distance from potentially harmful or adversarial other beings or dangerous environments. For example the cognitive representation of a stranger or any potential harmful object will be associated with some feelings of distrust, wariness, separation, or even fear. This feeling weighting will remind the processing system to act with some wariness in generating actions when it processes that representation, and thus survival will be effectively enhanced. Thus we see it as part of the system of feeling types by which mind valuates the logical structures of its contents. Nevertheless the ability to selectively achieve the experience of being in love with the world and loved by the world, and at least temporarily setting aside such barriers of feeling, provide a greatly enhanced sense of sharing the energy of love with the world, and can be very useful progress towards enlightenment and of understanding and feeling at home and at ease in the world. When one does that one often finds many such barriers are unnecessary. See my page on Chi for more on this and how Chi is affected by the organization of one's cognitive model.

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....... The best Theory of Mind will not be just words as this one is, but will in addition include an entire range of actual artificial minds able to effectively function in the world. Only when we can reproduce what we are theorizing about will we really understand it. Thus the convincing Theory of Mind will be the systems design for actual autonomous minds in a organism simulating robots that effectively pass the Turing Test for that species. That of course includes those that are either indistinguishable from or vastly superior to human beings. There is no reason to believe such robots are not possible and we already see their forerunners in operation today.

Artificial Organismic Intelligence (AOI) consists of three main tasks:

1. Design and implementation of cognitive world models based on well defined objects and their relationships that effectively map the relevant aspects of the organism's environment sufficient for it to function effectively.
2. Implementation of sensory input processing resulting in the real time identification and discrimination of well defined objects and relationships in the environment.
3. Action generating routines based on the results of computational processing of the world model as it is continually updated by perceptual input and its translation to actual purposeful and effective actions within the environment.

....... There have been huge advances in robotics but number 2. above especially has been very difficult to crack and is still at only a rudimentary level. Progress on 1. has been largely hampered by trying to duplicate human linguistic type mental structures which are inherently only loosely logical rather than basing the cognitive world models on a strict logical structure implementing the logic of things which is the most efficient approach and which requires a new strictly logical language expressing such a structure with none of the inconsistencies of idiom or grammatical irregularity. There has been much progress in 3. which is evident in the many advances in special purpose robotics.

....... The basic problem is solving 2., and then using a strictly logical mental and linguistic structure for 1. rather than trying to duplicate the fuzzy and often illogical ways that humans think and express themselves with human logic. Humans might even be able to improve their ability to reason by communicating with purely rational artificial beings that spoke only a precise logical subset of English and who acted entirely rationally.

....... Can robots be considered conscious? If consciousness is simply awareness then there is no reason to believe that artificial organisms should not be considered conscious in the usual sense that humans and other animals are. This consciousness will of course be only of what they are in fact aware of. They can certainly be programmed to be aware of aspects of their environment given adequate sensory instruments and this capability already exists with sensory abilities far beyond that of humans in specific areas. And they can certainly be programmed to report on their internal states and even their processing which certainly meets the requirement for self consciousness that some insist on for an organism to be considered conscious. Theoretically artificial organisms could become much better at being conscious than humans are.

....... The real question of course is whether artificial organisms will ever actually 'feel' things, or actually ever really be aware of themselves as a real living breathing entity as humans do? The answer to that is not entirely clear at first but becomes so with a little analysis. Clearly such feelings in humans, as well as other organisms I might add, are the result of an enormous network of active neurochemical processes that continually funnel a myriad of information inputs from all parts of the body and the sense organs into the brain where in aggregate they result in the totality of 'feelings' or qualia I've described above. See my Chi page for another perspective on this from the point of view of the energy body or Chi body.

....... For an artificial organism to have similar feelings and sense of consciousness to a biological one it would likely need a very similar construction from the micro level on up. But again that is simple to imagine in principle. All one has to do in theory is construct an artificial organism from the ground up out of inorganic chemicals to DNA type specifications! The result would be a purely artificial organism which would be an exact replica of a human being indistinguishable from a 'real' person! One might actually accomplish this process by simply creating an artificial human egg from scratch to human DNA specifications and implanting it a woman's womb. There are already efforts underway to create the first stages of such artificial life.

....... Now I don't think there is any reason at all to believe that such an artificial human would not be fully identical to real humans. I don't think there is any evidence at all that the real one would be somehow magically imbued in some mysterious way with some soul or life spark that the artificial one lacked. Therefore it becomes clear that the issue of whether artificial organisms can be considered alive or conscious, or to have feelings is purely one of differences in the type of life, consciousness and feelings that they have. Every artificial organism can be considered to have some form of life, consciousness and feelings by the same general standards we apply to biological organisms. It is simply a matter of recognizing what the life, feelings and consciousness are, not whether they have them or not. Of course one can insist there must be some minimal level of awareness of particular types to qualify, but that simply introduces unnecessary confusion. The conclusion is simple and straightforward. If an artificial organism is programmed to have feelings it does have the feelings it is programmed to have. It's as simple as that. It's the same criterion we apply to other biological organisms, both human and non-human. If they evidence feelings then they have them. Whatever they are aware of they are conscious of to the degree they are aware of it.

....... We must of course be aware that artificial organisms can be programmed to lie, just as humans can lie about their feelings. So we cannot just take all evidence at face value but must carefully analyze what is really happening.

....... Organismic minds are computational devices just as computers are, and especially as the computers that control robots are. While it is quite obvious that the hardware structure of brains and electronic computers are vastly different their basic functions are the same, that is to successfully control the actions of the organism in its environment based on inputs from that environment, whatever that salient set of actions may be. In the case of biological organisms those actions are those which enable the survival and reproduction of the organism within its environment, and a host of associated actions in support. For an artificial organism it is simply what it is programmed to do, just as organisms are programmed to act towards survival and reproduction.

....... Thus the essential structural logic of both humans and a general purpose robot capable of reproducing human like behavior must be near identical to reproduce such behavior. This means we can effectively model the human cognitive model as highly informed by the high level functionality of robotic analogues, of what would be required to reproduce human behaviors. This does not require that the hardware, nor even the software be identical, but it does show that the underlying logical structures will be. It is those fundamental structures which are important for our discussion.

* * *


....... Every organism, in fact any bounded volume of the universe, has free will in the sense that its actions are not completely determined by its external world. This is because all reality is at base quantum, and the quantum world is one of constrained randomness, that is it is probabilistic within well defined bounds.

....... As long as we recognize that 'we' are our total organism, rather than just our self consciousness as some assume, then it is clear that 'we', our organism as a whole, has free will in that it generates responses to its environment that are not completely determined by that environment.

....... Most people speak of 'random occurrences at the classical level', but in fact there are NO random occurrences at the classical level. The equations of all classical level laws are entirely deterministic therefore all randomness seen at the classical level simply must come from amplification of quantum randomness. Classical level statistical laws describe average classical level behaviors generated by aggregate quantum level effects.

....... Thus absolutely ALL of the actual randomness at the classical level world is due to the amplification of quantum random effects. Of course much of the apparent non-predictability is due to computational limitations, but when that effect is accounted for the remainder is entirely due to quantum level effects percolating up to the classical level. As far as I am aware this insight is original to me.

....... Some types of system amplify such very small random effects and some don't, they average them out. This depends entirely on the particular dynamics of the system. In general systems composed of smaller structures closer to quantum dimensions tend to amplify quantum effects more than systems composed of large homogeneous structures such as a uniform gas in a closed room.

....... For my complete article on Free Will and how quantum randomness is amplified at the classical level see http://EdgarLOwen.com/EdgarsBlog/freewill.html.

* * *


....... We are now nearing the end of our study of mind and its relationship to reality and epistemology and need to address the practical implications of what we have learned. We have seen that rather than living in the world of reality we actually all live in our own minds in a cognitive model of that reality highly distorted by our organismic structure. The clear implication is that if we wish to know the actual nature of reality we must first understand the many ways our cognitive model distorts that reality. If we define the word enlightenment to mean experiencing reality as it actually is, or as close to it as we can, which is consistent with the traditional definition, and we define illusion as whatever prevents us from experiencing reality as it actually is, then the study of illusion must be our main preparation for enlightenment. Thus we must now address the nature of illusion, the various ways in which our cognitive model obscures reality from us.

....... Right at the outset we must grapple with a very difficult question. If every organism's view of the real world is actually in its own mind in what sense can we then speak of a 'real' world at all? Is there actually a real world independent of observers? And if not why then do we have such a convincing illusion? Is there even any meaningful sense in which we can speak of a 'real' world independent of any observer? What would that even mean?

....... We know that if a real observerless world actually exists, it looks nothing like the world we see. And it is a mistake to think it actually looks like anything without an eye to see it, and how it looks will always be dependent on the structure of that eye and the mind it's connected to. Every organism's view of the world must be only a minute sample of the totality, and completely dependent on that organism's structure. This is true both of perception and of the cognitive world model in the mind of that organism. Both are totally dependent on the structure of senses and brain. We will explore some of the ways in which this is true below and find that this approach leads us to some profound insights into the nature of reality and the problem of directly experiencing it. It is impossible to detail all the illusions here as that would require many volumes and a lifetime of effort and much still remains unknown. We will concentrate on the most fundamental illusions first and then examine a number of representative types of more specific illusions.

....... Thus to attempt to understand the true nature of reality we must first understand something of how our particular human structure filters, organizes and represents that reality. This is a perennial problem of philosophy that has been recognized since ancient times and perhaps first recognized by ancient Indian thinkers who referred to it as 'maya' or the veils of illusion. Zen goes further and tells us that the veils of illusion themselves are in fact what is real, but only when they are recognized as illusion. What Zen is saying here is that we experience directly only the veils of illusion, they are in fact the only view we can have of reality as humans. Even modern science has also come to recognize the necessity of including an 'observer' in its description of reality, that reality is knowable only from the view or 'frame' of particular observers, most especially in relativity and quantum mechanics.

....... Though in a sense everything we experience must be illusion, since everything we experience is within our cognitive model rather than being part of any external reality. Nevertheless there are many different layers, or veils, of illusion each of which adds an obscuring effect. Unfortunately since the veils of illusion are simply the layers of the cognitive model, if they all vanish there is simply nothing left. We come into direct contact with the formless nothingness itself. But of course that cannot be experienced so there is no longer any experience so in that ultimate sense we can never truly and completely experience reality until we are dead and no longer have experience in which case we aren't experiencing it either. So it seems like a hopeless proposition! What we must do is start to recognize, understand, and peel away the successive veils of illusion until we get down as far as we can and then see where we stand. We will find things are not so hopeless as we imagined!

....... It may seem to the reader that while the things we point out below are perhaps true, none of it is really important to knowing what reality really is. But knowing about in the sense of having a theoretical view of something is not the same as directly experiencing which is what we are concerned with here since we already 'know' (!) that all theoretical knowledge exists only as cognitive structures in our minds. The very fact that we normally tend to ignore or be blind to insights about the illusory nature of our sensory perception and structures of our cognitive model only shows how deeply we are immersed within them, and thus how separated we actually are from the actual experience of the real.

....... For complex organisms such as humans the veils form a hierarchical process with many levels, each of which in turn filters and organizes inputs from others and passes it along to the next higher level in the pyramid until finally at the top level we as an organism seem to experience what we normally refer to as our consciousness of the world we believe we live in.

....... Thus in our quest to understand reality and experience it directly it is imperative to understand something of how the various levels of these veils operate. Only when we can understand how our own structure interacts with that of the world can we begin to understand what is real and what is an artifact of our own particular biological and cognitive structures.

....... Many of the veils of illusion are the domain of the biological and cognitive sciences which seek to understand the workings of the mind and the senses. Whole books have been written on many aspects of this subject, yet due to its complexity it is only beginning to be understood. We will summarize some of the more relevant results to our investigation but will take a much more general view of the veils, one that is less recognized but rather more important to understanding the actual nature of reality. It should be noted that these are what Chalmers has called 'the easy problems' of consciousness as opposed to 'the hard problem'.


....... The very fact that we exist in organismic form as a single observer means we exist at an experiential singularity in space and time and intrinsically makes it impossible for us to know the totality of reality as it actually is. Every point in space and time introduces a single unique perspective on the universe, and every observer exists at and as such a point. But a true absolute knowledge of reality could not be limited to a single perspective. This concept is so important not just to our study of illusion, but to the nature of reality itself, mind and epistemology, that we may call it the Principle of Observer Dependence, that every xperience of reality always requires an observer and is always entirely from the viewpoint or frame of, and in terms of the structure of, that observer.

....... It is crucial to understand that the real world simply has no intrinsic position or orientation in space. That is entirely something that we as observers add to the physical world by virtue of our relative position and orientation to other things. It is impossible for us to imagine space from every perspective and orientation at once, and time and space from every scale at once. Thus if an actual physical world independent of any observer could be said to exist it cannot include scale, position or orientation. The real physical world experience of an observer can only include relative notions of these attributes, but relative notions are precisely the definition of observer dependence so by assuming an observer independent physical world we must conclude that the physical world cannot be observer independent! Therefore there is no meaningful sense in which we can speak of an observer independent physical world, or if there is it will be an exceedingly strange world indeed. It will not look like anything we can possibly imagine since any physical world or thing we can imagine is always from some position, orientation and scale.

....... Our view of space and time scales are completely observer dependent rather than being a real aspect of the universe. That is as we read these words we think they are actually the size we seem to see them, but that is an illusion added by our cognitive model. In fact they have no absolute size, only a relative size which in this case is relative to the size of our bodies, especially our eyes and hands, which we have socially standardized as size relative to our standard yardsticks. But real things in the real world have no intrinsic size, only a relative size, so it is a complete mistake to think of things in the real physical world as having any particular size. They don't. To an elephant things that look large to us look much smaller, and vice versa. To an ant a small pebble is experienced as immense. One cannot say any of these contradictory views is preferentially true. Reality simply has NO size!

....... Likewise the scale of clock time seems to flow at a particular speed to us, but that speed is only a speed relative to the time speed of our cognitive processes and our internal brain clock. The speed of clock time has no intrinsic scale, it is entirely relative to the time speed of other processes. To a fly or a small bird time, or more accurately the time speed of other processes, seems to flow much slower than it does to us because their internal clocks run considerably faster. The fly's reaction time is much superior to ours and to the fly we humans seem to move in slow motion. Reality itself has NO intrinsic speed at which clocks tick or things happen. Things may happen but they don't happen at any absolute rate. There is no such absolute rate of clocktime.


....... In spite of their apparent effectiveness, our mind and perception are actually quite limited in their focus and resolution. At any moment our perceptual system operates so as to isolate only the few most salient aspects of our environment, and our mind holds only one or at most a few thoughts in our head. Due to the limitations of our intrinsic human structure we are able to pay attention to only a few things at a time at most.

....... But reality itself presumably consists of uncountable things going on at once, many orders of magnitude more than our minds can possibly encompass. All around us in every second there are literally billions upon billions upon billions of events occurring at every scale, and then extend that to the entire universe! That is the actuality of reality our cognitive model suggests but which it cannot possibly begin to comprehend. To believe we accurately see the totality of reality, even that in our local vicinity, at our own local scale, is simply ludicrous. Only an omniscient God could know the totality of reality existing in the present moment. This seems to be a veil impossible to penetrate completely though by dropping the focus of attention on particular things we can directly perceive the entirety of everything that impinges our senses within the limits of the resolution of our senses. Thus not focusing on particular things is one technique in the direct experience of reality, but even then it must be realized that this is but a minute sliver of the actual reality.

....... Even if all the knowledge of reality our cognitive models suggest is out there was potentially knowable to us we could never know it simply because our human brains are far to small to store it, and even if we could store data about every event that ever happened we could not begin to comprehend their relationships since we can be conscious of only a few things at a time. So experiencing reality as it actually is always remains relative to our existence in human form and thus inevitably will be in terms of our enormous human limitations.

....... In an important sense the only thing that can actually know everything at once is everything at once. If everything is xperience, the totality of the universe is simply the total myriad of xperiences; knowledge of the universe in the most general sense of knowing. In this sense only the universe of xperience itself can know the total reality of itself. All the xperiences in the universe are in fact all the xperiences possible in that moment. Any knowing that we may have will be a minute portion of that according to our own human ways of xperiencing, that is experiencing or knowing, aspects of the universe.


....... We experience our consciousness in an present moment which persists as clock time continually flows through it. Our reality exists only in that present moment which seems to be vaguely a second or two wide, but as we saw previously this is an illusion constructed by our short term memory. But what is the actual physical clock time duration of the present moment, if in fact it has duration at all? I won't get into the details here which I'll discuss in another paper on Quantum Reality but there is good reason to believe that the dimensionalization of space and time occurs at the quantum level and is associated with decoherence, and thus on aggregate the duration of the actual physical present moment is vanishingly short on the quantum scale far below the limits of human resolution.

....... So in human terms the actual physical present moment is thinner than a razor's edge. It is so thin it is hard for humans to understand the nature of its existence, and impossible to experience it. It is merely that infinitesimal instant where the future becomes the past, where events come into being and instantly vanish into the past. But somehow our short term memory opens up this instant and seems to give it a few seconds of clock time duration in which we can exist. It does this by continually extracting and holding trace characteristics of passing reality in comparison with previous ones in a way that it is the comparison and its meaning that becomes the content of the instantaneous present rather than any actual physical event itself. The astounding insight here is that the duration of the Now and thus the most fundamental experience of our existence, is simply an illusion generated by our cognitive model!

....... Thus all discriminated things must be artifacts constructed in short term memory. E.g. a bird's song does not exist in the present moment, only the current instantaneous sample of its wavefront. It is the mind that holds the previous representations in short term memory as an impression, compares and relates selected points of that sound to the others and then continuously combines them into an impression of a bird song in short term memory. The actual bird song is gone long before it even existed. It is the single continually developing impression that is the actual content short term memory holds in the Now. Likewise the discrimination of things in continuous motion through space is actually a current comparative impression of short term memory snippets of position melded into the notion of a single moving thing rather than the actual presence of any direct perception of those previous positions.

....... One can confirm this directly by meditating on the razor's edge of time as it continually comes into being. The best way to do this is to intently listen to slow simple melodic music or a single low tone with one's eyes closed. One empties the mind of any thoughts or anything else at all except the flow of the sound. One then meditates with the sharpest mental focus possible on the flow of sound just as it enters being from non being into the present moment. Don't let the mind's focus be carried along with the music, and don't try to experience the music as music, but sharply focus more and more precisely upstream on that exact precise moment where it emerges into reality. As the focus becomes ever sharper and sharper the duration of the time in which the sound actually exists before vanishing again becomes ever shorter and shorter till one can actually tune into the individual vibrations of at least the lower tones themselves. There is a point where the musical quality of the sound vanishes and all that is left is a strange nameless phenomenon of timelessness devoid of any contextual meaning in which the actual present moment has contracted to almost nothing, to a veritable infinitesimal existence. And one realizes that is all that actually exists and is the entirety of reality! It then becomes clear by direct observation that it is only the short term memory which holds open the illusion of a present moment with duration sufficient for things to seem to happen in context and thus acquire the relationships and meanings they seem to carry.


....... Quantum mechanics posits that the actual physical world consists entirely of wave packets which are minute localizations of the probability of something or other occurring over a fuzzy area of space and time. Even worse these wavefunctions are not actually 'things' in any familiar sense as they don't even describe elementary particles, but only the probabilities of getting particular answers to particular questions that can be asked about particles. The theory of decoherence further informs us that these 'questions' are not just asked by physicists, but are 'asked' by other wavefunctions as well. As wavefunctions interact sufficiently they 'decohere', that is when enough probabilities interact they temporarily actualize as the appearance of real, that is measurable, events in space and time. This decoherence is then the genesis of all actual (in the sense of observable) reality, though properly speaking wavefunctions must also be considered an unobservable part of reality.

....... So in a very important sense here too reality is observer dependent since in effect every interaction of wavefunctions is a measurement or 'observation' of one wavefunction by another, in our terminology the xperience of one wavefunction by others, and it is only when this occurs that quantum probability becomes actualized and a localized real event seems to occur. Thus without the 'observation' of one wavefunction by another nothing would ever actually 'happen' and so again there is no notion of an actualized world independent of 'xperience' of something by something else.

....... There are many levels to physical reality between this and the world of human experience. E.g. science tells us that all matter is almost entirely 'empty', that elementary particles are essentially points, or at best sub-quantum vibrating strings, and that all matter consists of atoms and molecules which are composed of points orbiting points with vast amounts of empty space between.

....... Nevertheless, in spite of the exhaustive experimental confirmation of quantum theory, we humans believe we live in what is called the 'classical world', that is the macro world of everyday things and everyday physics, the logic of things, but if we accept quantum mechanics it is clear that this entire classical world must be entirely a construct of our own minds, a construct entirely different than the actual reality of a world which is essentially quantum filled with wavefunctions which are not even real in any ordinary since of the world until they interact sufficiently. So here again we face another fundamental illusion, and must accept that the world we believe we live in is not at all the 'real' world we imagine it to be. Here again it is another illusion of our cognitive model which keeps us from experiencing the world as it actually seems to be at the quantum scale.

....... Yet from another perspective, quantum mechanics is simply another abstract human created theory that imposes it's particular organization upon part of our cognitive model, so perhaps we should not abandon the search to directly experience reality quite yet.


....... We experience the world through our five senses, but why not through a hundred or a thousand? How is it possible to imagine that any particular number of perceptual inputs would be sufficient to accurately experience every aspect of reality? The fact that there are no senses which directly perceive the mathematical structure of reality, or quantum wavefunctions, or the past causal network of events, or the hidden motives of other humans is proof pure and simple that direct experience of the totality of reality is forever beyond our grasp. Our existence as individual organisms with limited sensory structures guarantees that. Even the very fact that any experience of reality necessarily requires some sensory mechanism of an observer indicates that reality itself can never be directly knowable as it is in itself. It seems simply impossible.

....... When we consider the vast range of information carrying signals actually present in our environment and how few we are sensitive too, we begin to understand how intrinsically limited and thus inaccurate our cognitive experience of reality is. The world we experience ourselves as living within is simply nothing at all like the totality of that actual world. We know these signals we cannot perceive are there precisely because of their effects on other objects, so they are in that sense continually being known to other organisms or our scientific instruments and do affect other things of the universe, even though they are not directly detectible by us. Our scientific instruments extend our perception of reality but only artificially, as we must use the actual senses we have to read them, they simply translate from some signal we cannot sense to another we can.

....... All our perceptive capabilities impose a sensory interpretation that is absent from reality itself. For example, whatever the frequency, there is no innate 'sound' associated with sound waves. The sound that the brain associates with particular sound waves is entirely a construct of the brain. Our science tells us that the physical reality is energy oscillations in a physical medium such as our atmosphere or water or material objects. This is also true of all our other senses of smell, taste, touch and vision, none of which are actual components of reality but all cognitive interpretations of signals in that reality. They are all examples of the 'feelings' our cognitive model dynamically associates with the purely informational input from reality.

....... For example there is an enormous range of sound waves around us, many of which are undetectable to the human sense of hearing, though other animals such as whales and elephants and possibly migrating birds are sensitive to lower frequencies than humans, and many smaller creatures including bats and many insects are very sensitive to ultrasound frequencies much higher than humans can hear.

....... This is true as well for the olfactory sense, and certainly the sense of taste, both of which could theoretically taste every possible type of chemical but can't. It is well known that the human sense of smell is quite poor relative to that of many other animals. And very many creatures are able to sense other chemical compounds such as pheromones, and no doubt many other molecules of use in locating food, which are undetectable to humans. So there are not just differences in sensitivity, but in the range of molecules detected, in both olfaction and taste, between species.

....... Though the human tactile sense is rather well developed compared to many species, at least partly due to our thin and hairless skins, we can certainly recognize the possibility of much greater tactile sensitivity. As in the case of every sense, our consciousness of reality is both limited by our sensory organs, and constructed by our corresponding sensory cortex areas.

....... Vision is our most important sense, as due to the nature and ubiquity of electromagnetic radiation, we humans derive most of our perceptual knowledge of the world from it. There are particular aspects of electromagnetic radiation which make this so. First of all, it is ubiquitous, in that it pervades essentially all space, and so carries a vast array of information about the world. Second, it is spectral in nature, so that the particular combinations of its frequencies carry an enormous amount of information about the processes that produced them, and those various events it encountered on its journey to the observer's eye. Third, its ability to travel enormous distances in minimal times, ensures that it not only carries information from the far reaches of the universe, but also that the information it carries about nearby events is nearly instantaneous, enabling near immediate reactions on the part of the receiving organism. And lastly, its ability to be imaged by transparent lens structures of rather simple geometry that can be effectively produced by biological processes. This is because a electromagnetic frequency range only a little greater than that of human visible light is capable of being focused by transparent lenses such as the cornea of our eyes and those of other creatures. Other types of electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays and radio waves are not used because biological structures able to extract the information that they carry have not evolved since that seems to be beyond the effective capabilities of flesh.

....... Note that while the perceivable ranges of both sound and vision are continuous over a fairly wide range, they are perceived quite differently. Sound we hear as a single continuous range from lowest to highest frequency, but light we see as mixtures of what appear to be entirely different colors. There is no intrinsic reason that this should be true of light, nor that it should not also be true of sound. If we saw light like we hear sound everything would be different shades of grey. The point here is that our perceptions of these senses are different because they are both entirely constructs of our own biology, including the particular structures of the receptors we have for them. Thus both are quite obviously constructs of our own particular cognitive structure rather than being actual components of reality.

....... So there is no actual color to reality in the sense that we perceive. These 'colors' first correspond to the excitement of particular combinations of cones in the retina, and then the experience of a particular color is added by the brain. We could just as well see green as purple, or red as blue. The experience of the color corresponding to a wavelength is entirely added by the brain, and we really have no good way of knowing whether other life forms who can see red experience it as we do or not. Think about how a robot sensitive to red light could be said to experience it as the 'color' red. Ultimately it would have to be simply a matter of definition in terms of electromagnetic frequency.

....... The ability to focus light means that the light reflected from a particular point on a world surface all ends up at the same spot on the retina. It is only because of this fortuitous fact that we are able to 'see' images of the world. If this were not true, we would see only a blurry field of light with some general directions being slightly brighter or darker, slightly more this or that 'color'. This is in fact what many simpler organisms with primitive light receptors experience in the way of vision, and it is important to understand this is closer to the true reality of the external world. The actual physical world is in reality non-focused! In any case our ability to tap into this ability of light to be easily focused is crucial to our development as conscious beings, to our construction of our world view as consisting of objects located in space, and our ability to understand the world as well as we do. Nevertheless, as we will see, there is much more in our visual perception of the world that does not accurately reflect the reality it pretends to reveal, and it is essential to properly understand this if we wish to understand the true nature of reality.

....... So there are no images of things out there in 'reality' beyond ourselves. Visual things in the world simply do not exist! There is nothing out there in the real world that actually has a visual image associated with it! Reality is in fact invisible. This is a profound insight, things in reality itself do not exist as visual images of themselves even though that is how we invariably imagine them! Nor, if we think of it, can the thing exist in any sensory form, such as how it feels with one's eyes closed, or how it smells or tastes, or how sound bounces off it. All of these views of things are added by an observer, and different species of observers will obviously have widely divergent sensory impressions and images of them. But the thing itself has none of any of these. Independent of some observer it seems to have little to define it at all except perhaps a purely mathematical description of its mass, form and chemical constitution, which of course will always be an idealized approximation. The concept of 'real' things themselves becomes much more difficult to pin down.

....... In contrast to light, the way we hear sound is essentially non focused, though there is some directional focusing due to the shape of the ears and a some directional information is extracted from sound due to the stereoscopic advantage of having ears on opposite sides of the head and by repositioning the ears relative to each other as many species such as deer can. Many species also extract dimensional locational information from their senses of smell and taste. The most obvious example being the forked tongue of snakes. And the near universal method of mapping variations in odors against wind direction, especially as the animal itself moves, provides a great deal of information about the sources of odors.

....... There is an enormous spread across the electromagnetic spectrum from the most energetic gamma rays to the lowest frequency radio waves. Though much of our experience of reality comes to us in the form of the perception of a narrow band of electromagnetic radiation this is not actually an accurate view of reality at all. All that other radiation also carries important information about reality to which we are blind, though we do have various scientific instruments, most notably in astronomy, which can detect it. Many other organisms are able to see in extended electromagnetic frequencies into the ultraviolet and infrared. Insects which see flowers in ultraviolet and pit vipers which see in infrared with their pit organs are examples.

....... And of course we have very poor ability to see in low light conditions that a great many other mammals, owls and moths are able to see in quite clearly. This is because we essentially traded our night vision for more color receptors. As a general rule animals which see color well have poor low light vision and are mainly diurnal, there being only limited space for rods and cones in the retina. Thus though many organisms are able to perceive visual aspects of reality we cannot, all are able to see only a very small range of the total electromagnetic reality.

....... In the context of this discussion it is interesting to understand that the intense esthetic experience of beauty that we may derive from say the arrangements of form and color in nature or of art, must be understood as entirely an esthetic view of constructs within the cognitive model. That the brain does this for us is a great and perhaps undeserved joy. A great gift of our being the way we are. Certainly it would be difficult to conceive of art existing in the mass of raw electromagnetic radiation frequencies reflected from the surface of a Van Gogh. What actually exists is more like a colorless flux of energy, which only is known by its effects within our cognitive model. An observerless reality can have no beauty, nor ugliness in any human sense. The observer is always inextricably linked to the very existence of reality.

....... This leads us to another aspect of our vision of the world, the limit to its resolution. As we look to a smaller and smaller area on our retinas there is always a limit to the amount of detail we are able to resolve. In contrast, eagles and hawks have especially fine visual resolution, believed to be at least several times better than humans. And of course the tremendous resolution achieved by astronomical and other instruments shows us how lacking our vision really is in this respect. In our daily lives we see only a minute aspect of what there is to be seen, and our view of this is almost cartoon like compared to the detail we know actually exists.

....... You will note also that you have no eyes or head like other people do. Well maybe the hint of lips, eyebrows and a transparent nose that seems to move all over the place and often splits into two disjoint halves, but certainly not eyes or a face, or any semblance of the rest of a head. If you are like me, instead of a head I just seem to have a sort of glowing energy with a watcher at the center where my head should be. The eye simply cannot see itself. It can only sometimes have direct perception of a second hand image of itself in a mirror or photograph. The reality is that we cannot visually directly experience our eyes or face or even our backs. The reality of the completeness of our physical body seems to be cobbled together from pieces of second hand experience. This is another way in which each observer is an experiential singularity different from all other beings in its own experience. The actual physical reality of ourselves as a visual physical body in a physical world like other humans is an illusion, clearly only another cognitive construct.

....... In actuality our only direct experience of our body is not our physical body but what we call our energy body which is simply the directly experienced feelings of all parts of our body considered as a single connected whole. This includes both those feelings which are later discriminated into internal feelings such as the feeling of hunger, and external feelings such as touched objects. More on the energy body in the next chapter.

....... Another important consideration is that the world we think we live in is actually upside down and a mirror image of itself, it is upside down and backwards! The very process of focusing light projects an image of the world on our retinas which is upside down and mirror reversed from what it actually is. This is a well understood principle of optics and we are usually told that the brain 'rights the image' in the visual cortex, as if this somehow makes the problem go away. This is certainly one way to understand it, but we could just as well say that the brain turns us upside down and mirror reverses us so as to accommodate us to the actual image. So in a rather real sense from this perspective, it is we who live in an upside down and mirror reversed world! In other words we must assume that the real world anterior to our visual perception is upside down and reversed from how we perceive it. And that must include all the parts of our own bodies that we can see as well.

....... Not only that but there is only one world instead of two. Not two of them which is what we actually see with our two eyes, and that one world does not 'really' exist as viewed from any particular location or perspective, contrary to what we see with our two slightly spatially separated eyes. The apparent spatial dimensionality is entirely added by the mind as it combines the images from the eyes. The real actual world does not appear like that, in fact it has no appearance at all. The only appearance it can have is its reception and filtration through some particular sensory perceptual system. The real world simply does not exist in any meaningful sense except in an observer's cognitive model.

....... But it gets much worse of course, for in fact visually speaking we live inside our eyes, not the real world. we view only what I call the 'retinal sky', which is the interior hemispherical surface of our eyes, at best a very imperfect mirror of reality. The visual field or horizon, the retinal sky, is two two dimensional representation on the two retinas which the mind compares and interprets as a three dimensional space with ourselves as observers at the center of that space. The real world of experience at the most fundamental level has no such dimensionality. It is simply the impinging signals on the singularity we call ourselves as observer, a hologram if you will, that our cognitive model projects into a complete 3 dimensional space full of things with locations. If we could actually look upon the real external physical world as it is it would not be in color, have no 3 dimensionality, and have no images of things but rather only blurs of grey in various directions. Every illusion we strip away leaves reality looking poorer and poorer! We begin to see that it is precisely the gift of our cognitive illusions that endows reality with all its apparent richness. But that also means that that apparent reality could be very very different and no doubt is for other creatures.

....... What do we actually see when we look at the world? We see an immensely human dependent approximation of the 'real' world. And we actually see only images on our own retinas. So let's reverse this view and look out at the sky apparently so far away. That sky is your own retina you are looking at as are all the birds, the clouds and the people walking to and fro and perhaps turning their eyes also to look at you. So in reality the whole visual surface is two two dimensional single layers of retinal imagery, and the apparent objective existence of a single three dimensional external world is in that sense an illusion constructed in the cognitive model.

....... So if in fact the sky we see as out there is actually a cognitive construct, a retinal film of moving images, then it is like the surface of a mirror. A backward mirror of reality. If so and there is a brain behind the retina that is ours, then what is behind the sky out there we see that is actually the surface of our retina? The mind of god, or our own cognitive model? The dusty fates weaving reality on the loom of time, or a great fat spider on her web?

....... Our visual world recognized as a retinal sky, at first glance seems a sort of mirror which merges images both of external world and internal realities. But this is a mirror without a mirror, for the reality is that what we actually see is an experience prior to the distinction between external and internal worlds, as they are both the results of subsequent cognitive processes of discrimination. Even some Zen monks have made the mistake of conceptualizing reality as the reflection of itself in the mirror of the mind as in this poem by Shen Hsiu,

.......The body is the wisdom (Bodhi) tree,
.......The mind is a bright mirror in a stand;
.......Take care to wipe it all the time,
.......And allow no dust to cling.

....... However as Hui Neng points out in his response to this poem,

.......There is no Bodhi tree,
.......There is no mirror bright.
.......There is only brightness,
.......And even the dust is dustless. 3

....... That is there is no world and no mind that reflects it, there is only the direct experience antecedent to both. That experience is the fundamental reality.

....... That the visual world we think we live in is not reality itself is easily understood when we consider the visual world of dreams. In dreams we often see moving visual scenes of apparent equal reality to that of the waking world, yet we know very well there is no actual reality to what we are seeing. Thus it is abundantly clear that the mind itself is quite capable of constructing our visual reality, and it does just that. The visual reality of the waking world we live in is in fact merely a consistent dream, kept consistent by continual pinning its logic back to that of the laws of nature. Everything that we think we see in some actual external world is in fact a construct of that same facility of our mind that also constructs our visual dream world. The only difference is in its apparent consistency. The implication is that our waking dream world while equally illusory in substance, is continually kept consistent by repeated references to actual sensory inputs, which though they are just raw retinal input in no way similar to our visual world of moving objects, is sufficient to continually 'pin' that world to logical consistency with the raw inputs. By maintaining an illusion consistent with the laws of nature we are able to survive within the logical consistency which we call reality.

....... So the visual world which is so important to us, is in no way the 'real' appearance of the world but only a convenient illusion constructed by our visual organs and the perceptual centers of our brains, constructed for the evolutionary purpose of assisting us in organizing salient information and functioning effectively in what is actually a largely unknowable reality.


....... There are two main classes of illusion: those which are intrinsic to our existence in human form as observers which are either impossible or difficult to penetrate and escape, and those which are higher level interpretations of the cognitive model over which we have a great deal of control, at least in theory. The first class has been discussed above, we will now address the second class which covers the illusions Buddhist philosophy tells stand in the way of enlightenment and over which we have great control if we first understand them for what they are. The pervasive notion that we exist as an individual self in the midst of a physical world is perhaps the most important of all these illusions. We will see this is not to be understood as metaphysical gobbledygook, but is based soundly in good science.

....... The problem is the very nature of 'self'. As we noted above there are two meanings of self, the subjective conscious watcher which seems largely or completely free of characteristics, and the self as an object among a world of other not-self objects which is loaded with characteristics. All our experiences from early childhood fairly quickly become organized into a cognitive model of a world consisting of things with properties and relationships. Objective self and the not-self is the fundamental distinction among these things. Our primal instinctual evolutionary software tells us we must act so as to preserve this objective self from potentially harmful aspects of the not-self and as a result the cognitive model erects psychological barriers to the free flow of energy, that is causal influence, from the not-self to the self. We grow up believing these barriers are between an 'external world' and ourself, but in fact they are simply barriers between different areas of our cognitive model of reality, and thus all are parts of our own mind. As a result we are psychologically armored against the not-self world and are always acting to assess potential threats from it to our objective self concept.

....... However because all experience actually takes place within our own mind, our 'true self' includes all experience, all consciousness, even that of what we conceptualize as the 'external' world. Properly understood the external world is just a specific area of our own consciousness, it is all part of our own true self which includes all experience. Thus our objective self armor is actually one part of our mind armored against the others. The supposed threat is from one part of our mind against another. If one understands this intellectually one can then actually learn how to drop all the often debilitating psychological component of that threat vigilance and still function intelligently in the world. In fact the illuminations of the greatest martial artists such as for example Ueshiba Tohei, the founder of Aikido, is that by doing so one becomes much more effective in self defense because the psychological armor actually inhibits the true immediate perception and understanding of force flows in the world. When one drops the blockages to actually directly experiencing those forces one is then able to move in concert with them and redirect them. By opening oneself to the forces of the world one may freely dance with them, among them and around them, and more effectively avoid the potential harmful energy of direct opposition to superior forces.

....... But we will leave the martial arts discussion for a forthcoming paper on the Chi page. What we are concerned with here is that by dropping the conflict between the self and not-self aspects of the cognitive model, we realize directly that everything we experience is in our mind, or rather that our cognitive model and the external world are simply different ways of speaking about the exact same thing, of experience. Thus all the reality of experience is filled with the exact same Ontological Energy of Being, and both all of the objective self and all of the not-self are simply various forms of that energy. Our cognitive model is the world, including both the supposedly internal and external portions of it. Thus there can be no separation between our true self and the entirety of the world. Of course this is the entirety of the world of our direct experience, but then we must remember that every aspect of the world without exception ultimately exists only as direct experience, not 'our' direct experience, but direct experience itself.

....... So the illusion is that 'we' are our objective self, as opposed to all the objective not self things and categories of mind, and that we need to 'protect' that particular objective self category of mind at all costs. This is an illusion and one of the worst. In fact many organisms seem to have very little of such an objective self category and still function quite effectively in their environments. In fact a very large portion of that objective self category often consists of very personal and dysfunctional attributes which because they are associated with the objective self construct result in actions to preserve and perpetuate them at all costs from supposed outside attacks. That is the objective self becomes to include not just one's physical body, but also one's sense of ethnicity or 'self respect' or manliness etc. to mention just a few of the innumerable attached attributes to the objective self that direct often self harmful and irrational actions and which obscure the understanding of the real causal logic underlying processes in the world. We will get to a discussion of these more superficial attachments and illusions as soon as we cover a few more basic ones.

....... Now perhaps you will protest that my argument here begins by assuming what it then denies, that there is a real self independent of an external world in which the model of that external world is constructed, so one could not then correctly conclude that because that a human organism's total experience of the world is within its own self that there is no objective self since we had originally assumed it was in that objective self's mind that the cognitive model appeared. And yes, this logic is correct and the words in which my argument were couched were inconsistent, though necessary to lead the reader the first step of the way.

....... Now that we know the conclusion and the inconsistency in the previous argument, the accurate way to express the argument is without initially mentioning self as object at all. What is really going on is this: consciousness exists in the present moment, in fact they are identical. The fundamental experience is that of consciousness in the present moment, in which things and events and feelings appear and disappear as clock time passes, these are the contents of consciousness. This is all that exists at the most fundamental level of direct experience. About this there can be no dispute as even all such disputing it is itself merely the direct experience of the dispute. Initially the contents of consciousness pass in a continuous undifferentiated flow as they can still be experienced thus in meditation, but at some point and to various degrees a new type of content of consciousness begins to arise which is the discrimination and categorization of previous contents. This is a complex stepwise process which begins to discriminate particular aspects and categories of the more fundamental content flow into 'things' and properties of things, and relationships between things. And as we have seen the most significant of these things for our discussion is the self, which in essence is simply an association of certain types of discriminated experience that bear a consistent repetitive relationship through clock time. Beginning first as a association of feelings into a represented category, the self concept is gradually embellished within the cognitive model to become an objective material being with a body and mind which the subjective consciousness mistakenly identifies with its self, as its objective self defined in terms of the characteristics which led to its self organization and initial discrimination from the flow of experience. But as we have seen when pursued to their ultimate conclusions, at some point the implications of such a model begin to become apparent and it is realized (again as another content of consciousness) that if such a being existed its biological structure would be such that its model of the external world would exist entirely within its own consciousness as a cognitive construct! The initial common sense scientific conception of world versus mind when followed to its logical conclusion leads to its own negation in the unity of experience.

....... And so either way we necessarily arrive again at our same original conclusion, but now freed of the problem of starting with self as object, that both self and not-self are cognitive constructs within conscious experience which is the fundamental reality. But this time these constructs are not within the mind of an objective self, but rather that all that exists is the contents of consciousness in the present moment and this is antecedent to any division between self and not-self; that is any conception of either self or an 'external' world are simply contents of a more fundamental consciousness, which is the one single reality, the existence of being in the present moment.

....... So the living reality of this realization is that all experience, all consciousness, (and by extension the xperience of all beings and things) is neither in or outside our self, but rather consciousness itself is fundamental in the last analysis of direct experience. That simply put, experience is experience, and that is ultimately what reality is, and that our objective self and the universe are both simply different flavors or categories of experience, and by extension both are coterminous and identical, simply separate aspects of the same consciousness which simply exists of itself prior to any notion of mind or self or organism it could be thought of existing in. This is what is expressed by Hui Neng's admonition to “Awaken the mind while dwelling nowhere.[2.]” It means to awaken consciousness to the fact of itself, and realize that there is no particular location within that consciousness where 'you' are, but that you are conterminous with the whole of consciousness, or better that there is no 'you', there is only consciousness, and that consciousness may or may not in the moment exhibit contents of consciousness which contain areas cognitively divided between constructs associated with the self category and the not-self categories. Your true self is the totality of all your experience, not just that small piece of it normally categorized as the 'me' as opposed to the rest of the world.

....... Thus the consciousness of the far horizon, and of what may be the farthest galaxy visible in the universe, is inseparable from the consciousness of the feeling of fingernail, or of a thought, or of hunger, or of any creature at all. These are all contents of the same field of consciousness. If the galaxy seen is 13 billion light years away back in time, your 'true' self is that as well as the fingernail and all the other beings which exist as their representations in consciousness. In this usage true self is the entirety of what is consciousness in the present moment. It includes both the individual 'self' and all of the not-self as well.

....... Now it is true that the contents of consciousness clearly organize into consistent structures which are not under conscious control, and it is true that is natural that my ordinary daily consciousness is that of myself in a logically consistent external world, and that within that world there are other beings with whom I am able to communicate in terms of what seems to be an at least partially consistent view based on a similarity of our hypothetical cognitive models of reality. That is certainly the usual view and it is one that has enabled humans as individuals and as a species to survive in the midst of apparent threats from the not-self. But we are not talking about evolutionary adaptation here but the fundamental nature of reality. In the fundamental sense the self as an object in an external physical world of not-self things is an illusion in the sense that it is a discriminated category of experience that may or may not exist within consciousness at any particular clocktime instant within the present moment. But consciousness always exists when it exists. It defines its own existence a priori and thus cannot be negated within itself, since when it does not exist it does not experience that it does not exist, thus it always exists when it does exist. Consciousness can only be said not to exist when considered as an objective thing in another being we may observe apparently losing consciousness, or in a cognitive model of our objective self in a non-Now state of unconsciousness. But we never experience that loss of consciousness ourselves. Consciousness cannot experience its own loss of consciousness, its loss of itself. Therefore it is the fundamental reality.

....... So one's real or true self is not the objective self but simply consciousness itself, which is the totality of all experience, and in that there is no essential distinction at the most fundamental level between what may be categorized as not-self objects and the object called self. All such experience is simply varying content forms within the sea of consciousness.

....... This Being sometimes has the illusion of having a center in the focus of the watcher, but this is an illusion as well due to some of the contents of consciousness being organized in the context of a cognitively imposed dimensional spatial world. In reality the contents of consciousness exhibit no such dimensional location. Where is a thought located in space? It may be referred to a location in the mind's dimensional map of the world but if one observes it closely, it like all contents of consciousness first just appears, and then may be categorized and placed where appropriate within the cognitive world model in the form of other contents appearing within consciousness. In this sense there is no center of consciousness, consciousness is its own center. It is like asking where is the center of the universe from which the big bang exploded. There is no such center, because the center was all space and that has simply expanded. Likewise consciousness too has no center, it simply is what it is. It's center is all encompassing. It has no characteristics. It is formless and yet contains all form. Thus it is the objective self that is an illusion, and one of the most fundamental of the illusions from which consciousness is able to escape.

....... Thus in the most fundamental sense when one looks out at the world everything one sees or experiences is part of oneself, in one's own mind which has now expanded to encompass the entire world, and the corollary is that oneself is thus part of everything that exists as well. It all is consciousness only. No matter how materialistic any theory of the external physical world may be formulated it too ultimately exists only as conscious experience. But this not diminish the familiar material aspects of the world one whit, instead it enhances their reality by adding consciousness to them!

....... It needs to be noted in passing that properly understanding the nature of the subjective self is often tricky, because the subjective self, the focus of consciousness, is also frequently represented objectively and self referentially as part of the objective self. This is always the case when it is discussed or thought about or represented in any way. This tends to introduce a serious difficulty to understanding the true nature of the subjective self, since whenever it is analyzed it is always an objective representation of itself rather than it itself which is being considered. To paraphrase the Tao Te Ching, the consciousness that can be named is not consciousness itself, the reality which can be named is not reality itself.


....... Since there is no self, at least in the usual sense of the objective self, it is reasonable to also suspect that death may be equally illusory, since death is usually understood as the death of the self. An analysis indicates that this is indeed true at the level of direct experience.

....... Perhaps mankind's greatest fear is death, the ultimate annihilation of his personal existence. Early in life we learn that things die and we begin to imagine our own death and the worry over death may plague us all our lives. As a result almost all religions promise us some sort of existence after our death. It is difficult for even humanity's pervasive religious delusions to deny the most obvious observable death of the body as it decays, so in response religions tell us that we are not our material body that dies, but that we are our soul or consciousness which lives on after the death of the body, and this is one of the primary rationales for the belief in a soul or consciousness separate from the material body.

....... But as we have seen, this dualism is false, or rather mischaracterized, as all that exists is experience in the present moment, and both the material body and the self, whether that be thought of as soul or whatever, are aspects of a single cognitive world model, that is contents of consciousness illusory in the sense that they are not actually in the world in the usual understanding of an external objective world independent of the mind of any observer.

....... Since all that exists is consciousness there can be no death, because there can be no consciousness or experience of death since death requires the absence of consciousness. Since it is impossible to be conscious of the absence of consciousness, there is no more sense in worrying about death than there is worrying about the loss of consciousness in sleep, or the absence of consciousness before you were born, or the absence of your consciousness from every other observer in the universe besides yourself, or the absence of your consciousness from every possible location and scale and orientation in the universe. In essence worrying about death is just as ludicrous as worrying because you are not an eternal and omniscient God!

....... All that is real is the present moment in which you by virtue of reading this are conscious. Thus you are not dead in the present moment and the present moment is all that is real. Thus your death is unreal by virtue of its absence from the present moment which is all that is real.

....... Death is an illusory fear which should be abandoned. All that exists to anyone is life, and the living reality of conscious being. Though the beings we model as objective contents of our cognitive world model surely live and die, there is no life and death of consciousness itself, there is only life, there is only consciousness. It can never be aware of its absence, thus the concept of its absence is only an objective concept and never a reality of experience. Thus there is only life, the amazing privilege of being alive and conscious in the incredible absolute realness of the present here and now!

....... In the world of reality it is only the individual contents of consciousness which can die, never consciousness itself. And as the concept of the self is one of the contents of consciousness, it too can die, but in the death of the concept of self is the birth of enlightenment – the true self which is not the objective self but which encompasses all that exists. Consciousness is not either present or not. Consciousness can only be present, because if it were not there would be no consciousness of its non-consciousness. There cannot be non-consciousness of consciousness, nor consciousness of non-consciousness. All is consciousness only. All is experience only. That is all we can say. Of course that changes nothing about the objective being cognitive constructs that exist in experience as contents of our consciousness. They clearly live and die, but these are contents of consciousness, not consciousness itself. They are experiences of objective constructs in our cognitive model, not experience itself which is the real reality.

....... Thus an observer can never 'be' dead, he can only be alive. He can exist or not exist (be dead) only to another observer, never to himself as observer. Thus the observer can only have being, can only exist. 'I' can never be dead from my point of view because 'I' am not there to possibly experience this lack of my being there. So in the reality of 'my' experience, other things can die, but never myself.

....... Thus it makes no sense to worry about one's nonexistence. One exists only in the present, and the present is eternal as time passes through it from the non-being of the future into being and thence into the nonbeing of the past. But as past and future have no being, they are only concepts in the cognitive model. There is at last only the being of the present, and that is eternal, not in the sense that it necessarily endures forever in clock time, but in the sense that there is no experienced time it is not in existence, and thus it is ever present.

....... Life is. There is no death, there is only life! Death is an illusion in this sense. One can not experience the death of consciousness, but one can certainly experience suffering.


....... In contrast to death however, pain and suffering can be experienced, as these can be the contents of an extant consciousness. We distinguish between pain as physical discomfort associated with the material body and suffering as an unpleasant mental state often in response to events or thoughts. While pain may be inescapable, suffering is not. The elimination of suffering is simply a matter of changing one's mind and choosing not to suffer but thinking aware the cognitive structures responsible for suffering. One needs only to understand the genesis of suffering to see why this is true.

....... But even the power of pain can often be reduced by simply accepting pain as a content of consciousness and not mentally associating it with the self. Though pain may exist, one is never one's pain because even if the pain were not present the concept of self would still exist. More properly one must not center one's focus in the pain and view the world through that pain, but rather identify with consciousness itself, in which the pain is but one of many contents of consciousness, of which many others may well be more interesting and worthy of focusing and concentrating on. This is one secret to living with pain, though it is requires practice.

....... There is another secret, and that is understanding that all contents of consciousness are simply different forms of ontological energy, that is dynamic forms that are given being by being imbued with the reality of the present moment. Pain is simply a particular 'feeling' form that the ontological energy can assume, but what is ultimately real is the ontological energy, not the form that it takes. There is thus the possibility of changing the pain form to another form or diverting energy from it into another form thus freeing the underlying energy from the form of pain. There are techniques to do this which will be addressed elsewhere.

....... Suffering is much easier to deal with. No matter how serious the suffering, suffering is clearly always illusion and can be eliminated simply by letting go of it, if one chooses to do so. The root of suffering is desire and attachments, the desire that things be other than they are, and the attachment to things lest they change. In some cases we can actually change how things are and so eliminate a cause of suffering simply by satisfying it, but our powers to arbitrarily alter the real world section of the cognitive model are very limited and this method will eliminate but a small portion of most suffering.

....... But why do we think things should be other than they are? Certainly the basic mechanism is hardwired into our instinctual software as a means of assessing the current state of our environment in terms of a set of imagined or postulated goals and needs we believe will improve our evolutionary success. And to some extent such discrepancies between actual and ideal give us purpose and guide our actions. It is only when unattainable desires continually flood our consciousness that suffering becomes unbearable and an impediment to experiencing reality as it is. This is especially true of humans due to the immense complexity of their cognitive models which very often results in all sorts of extraneous and unnecessary desires and attachments. In contrast other animals tend to suffer only from very basic attachments and desires such as the loss of young or a mother.

....... The secret to freeing oneself from suffering is obvious and simple. We must simply give up unreasonable desires and accept reality as it actually is rather than as we desire it to be. That is not to say that we must never act with purpose, but only that we must accept reality as it is rather than as we desire it to be. There is absolutely no restriction on actively working to change that reality as energetically as we wish, it is only a matter of accepting it as it is whether we manage to change it or not.

....... Remember too that the very idea of the 'we' or objective self is illusory. There is no little s-elf that lives within consciousness that must somehow have its way as to how all the other contents of consciousness should be. There need be no identification with that demanding little elf. Consciousness itself in which the self is merely a content is what is real. All desires and attachments can vanish instantly and consciousness still remains unaltered brighter than ever. There is no loss of true self.

....... Thus all suffering no matter how intense is illusion and will vanish if we but let go of the the thought that sustains it, of the desire or attachment that it contradicts. Even the suffering at the death of a dearly beloved is caused by the contradiction between the beloved's non-existence and our desire that his or her existence continue. Though such suffering is natural it is illusory, as it is caused by our non-acceptance of reality. We must choose to accept reality or to suffer, and enlightenment is accepting reality as it is.

....... Even clearer is the suffering engendered by the obsessive desire for a love object, or material possessions or a better station in life. There is no requirement that life should be 'fair' in the sense that reality should conform to our desires. Of course we may struggle to achieve our desires. We may make this the purpose and goal of our actions, and as long as we accept reality as it currently is we will minimize any suffering, but in the long run the attainment of all such worldly goals is likely to be empty and unsatisfying.

....... There is no doubt that there are very real physiological components of psychological suffering such as imbalances in neurotransmitters. Suffering generally involves a feedback loop between dysfunctional thoughts and biochemistry that is often self perpetuating. Thus we can mitigate such feedback loops at either level. By far the healthiest long term approach is to replace the thoughts that perpetuate the syndrome with positive thoughts, though in the short term a pharmacological approach may be useful in extreme cases.


....... The highest general layer of illusion and the most amenable to change is what we may call our personal programming, or personal myth. This is broadly speaking how we view the world as a result of our being brought up by our particular parents in a particular religion, particular society and as members of a particular ethnic group, and our continued immersion in its popular culture. It also includes all of the resultant personal self images, prejudices, desires and attachments that color the way we see the world and how we relate to it. It is for almost everyone a very complex web of largely externally imposed cognitive structures over which most people exercise little personal control and through which, in terms of which, they see their world.

....... A very significant and pervasive aspect of this personal programming is the enormous overload of pop culture and the media that is imposed on the minds of nearly everyone living in modern western societies. This is addressed in more detail in the section on Pop Culture and we merely note its extreme importance here to the programming of illusion in people's minds.

....... In most people there is also a heavy overlay of personal programming onto the cognitive model at the personal psychological level in the form of personal self image, attachments and desires all of which color the way we interpret reality. With proper understanding this personal overlay can be successfully modified or released which brings us a significant step closer to directly experiencing reality.

....... Both of these levels constitute an enormous overload of cognitive programming from our personal histories, parents, cultures and any and all ideologies we have embraced all of which have produced a deep and largely unrecognized layer of hidden assumptions, judgments, often invalid logic and dysfunctional categorizations and emotional responses which manifest as our desires and attachments. These are all subject to modification and release. On the other hand the illusions we discussed above deriving from our intrinsic biological and cognitive structures as humans, and our existence as an observer singularity simply cannot be released, they can only be understood, at least most of them.

....... The nature of this personal programming is easy to understand from an example. Take a Taliban newborn and a Jewish Orthodox newborn and switch them at birth and both will with near certainly grow up holding the extreme views of the people and culture in which they were raised rather than that of their birth. It is clear then that such high level world views are largely the product of one's raising and environment rather than one's birth or for most people any objective analysis of the actual reality of the world around them. Of course their will be many variations in the resulting world views but the basic memes will likely occupy an influential place.

....... This is true of everyone to some degree, that their world views depend on the environments in which they were raised, but a few manage to understand this and begin to rise above it and replace such myth with clear rational thought. Essentially there are two kinds of people in the world, those who understand that they are programmed and who try to understand and escape their programming, and the great majority who believe they are their programming. One recalls the words of Socrates here, 'Know thyself,' and a reading of the Socratic dialogues reveals the importance which he placed on this process of self discovery, and sadly Socrates' death reminds us how virulent the defense of people's programming can be and how resistant societies can be to the process of exposing it. This is due to the fact that cultures, religions and ethnic identities consist largely of such programming perpetuated from generation to generation to preserve their illusions of themselves.

....... However it is clear that all such programming is an impediment to the direct experience of reality as it actually is. The idea that any one ethnicity, religion, or people is better than another is a dangerous illusion which prevents people from objectively analyzing both their own positive attributes and shortcomings as well as those of others. In fact it is such internecine programming that has been the root cause of most wars and conflicts throughout history.

....... This dynamic plays out within societies as well in the constant irrational conflicts between left and right in the US and nearly every other country. Rather than objectively analyzing each issue on its merits, it is much more common to categorize and judge everything by superficially associating it with some political or social group or other, or even pejorative buzz words.

....... On a more personal level the individual experiences of every person and how they react to them results in a complex of personal attachments, desires, and emotional attitudes, and personal self image that varies widely across societies and even among family members. These personal veils are generally the most variable and many even change from day to day or minute to minute in their specific desires and emotional evaluations of ongoing aspects of their cognitive world models.

....... Ultimately this whole complex of illusion constitutes one's personal myth, the way an individual interprets the nature and events of his world at all levels including those of himself within that world. Not only does such personal myth obscure the true knowledge and experience of reality but it can often be highly dysfunctional to the well being of the individual. The genuine (as opposed to socially abnormative) psychological disorders are the most extreme examples of dysfunctional personal myth, but all one's irrational personal desires, self images, and misplaced attachments can be personally harmful to the individual at a variety of levels.

....... Now the advantage of conceptualizing this as personal myth is that it makes clear that since it is in fact myth rather than an intrinsic aspect of reality it is intrinsically subject to replacement or modification with a superior myth or may even be cast aside altogether. It makes it clear that losing this myth is not in fact a loss at all, and in fact it will by definition be a gain if one can replace dysfunctional personal myth with a more functional one.

....... In reformulating one's personal myth there is one very simple criterion and that is to ensure that it doesn't conflict with the logical consistencies of reality, and that it enhances one's being, and most importantly that to the extent there is not clear positive evidence for it that it is recognized as myth rather than reality. Any aspects of one's personal myth which are not consistent with the consistency of the logic of reality are intrinsically dysfunctional and potentially harmful as they may lead to actions inconsistent with the logic of reality. Since the forms of personal myth are illusion and observer dependent we as observers are free to construct new forms as we wish so long as they don't contradict the logic of things. This potentially gives us an enormous ability to reconfigure how we see ourselves and our world.

....... What is not falsifiable by science or clearly thought out personal experience one is free to invent as personal myth. One is free to invent whatever personal myth is optimal so long as it is not falsifiable by science and is recognized as myth, that is as an interpretation of reality and how one chooses to relate to reality, rather than as a necessarily true new belief system not subject to falsification by new evidence. That, after all, was what got us into trouble with the old myth. Most importantly one must not blindly accept the programmed myths of the past as reality, but choose a personal myth which is optimal for one's existence and one's enlightenment.

....... Some of the approaches are obvious and one can read them widely in the many self help and positive psychology suggestions. Concentrating on positives rather than negatives, seeing the glass half full instead of half empty are simple examples and useful so long as one merely counts one's actual blessings instead of inventing imaginary ones, and refusing to recognize real problems.

....... Most people have a whole range of desires, things they want but don't have, but in almost all cases these desires are for things which are not really necessary for their existence, and often require more effort and resources to achieve than the benefit of possessing them bestows. Americans especially are continuously and intensively programmed to excess consumerism. Not only is this largely unnecessary but the production of these enormous volumes of unnecessary consumer goods is one of the main stressors of the planet's unsustainable resources.

....... Likewise most people invest enormous resources to maintaining their personal image from a psychological perspective. Things like their perceived status, their manliness or femininity, their ethnicity, religious and national affiliations, even their clearly imaginary affiliations with various sports teams are often so important to them they are willing to engage in violence to maintain them. These of course are all simply illusions, and have nothing at all to do with the integrity of one's being. Strip them all away in an instant and one still exists as before if one's identity is properly oriented with one's consciousness rather than one's image of oneself. The objective self is simply an association of characteristics within the self area of the cognitive model. It can be altered at will and the true self, the consciousness remains intact.

....... So the entire vast complex of one's personal programming, all of one's desires and attachments, whether to self image or things, constitutes the primary illusion that everyone interested in realizing enlightenment needs to attend to. With proper understanding and training almost all of these impediments may be dissolved. I'll discuss some of the techniques for doing this in my section on Chi, but in the context of this discussion what is important is to first acknowledge the existence of, and then understand the nature and extent of this personal myth which so distorts our view of reality, and that its dissolution brings us closer to understanding the true nature of reality, and directly experiencing that reality.


.......Every experience is always in the frame of an observer and in terms of that observer's own structure. Without an observer there is no experience and thus no meaningful notion of reality.

.......If an observerless reality can be said to exist then as a few of many examples:

.......If things exist they have no size.
.......If things exist they have no scale.
.......If things exist they have no orientation.
.......If things exist they have no position.
.......It doesn't look like anything since there is no eye.
.......It doesn't sound like anything since there is no ear.
.......It doesn't feel like anything since there is no touch.

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.......So finally we in a position to ask, what is real, what is reality? And how may we become enlightened so as to directly experience reality?

....... In our study of the illusions of observer dependence which inevitably distort the way any observer perceives and conceptualizes the world we have discovered that reality is a very slippery subject indeed. The closer we tried to get to an observerless external reality by removal of layers of illusion, the less and less there seems to be left of it until when we strip the last vestiges of the observer away there is nothing left! On the other hand when we take reality as the view of some observer of external reality we find that any notion of the true reality is inextricably distorted by the nature of the observer itself. We begin to wonder if there is any meaningful notion of reality at all!

....... The only out seems simply to define reality as exists, whether or not that includes illusion. In fact since we know we experience only observer dependent illusions we must finally accept that it is the illusions that are reality!

....... But what we have learned does indicate that some illusions are more illusory than others in that many unnecessarily introduce known distortions into the seemingly self consistent structure of the forms of reality. Thus it makes sense to eliminate this layer of illusion so as to better reveal the consistency structure of the cognitive model which our theory indicates may be in fact a fundamental reality. So even if the remaining illusions are illusions they are at least consistent illusions, they consistently seem to obey causal rules we call the laws of nature.


....... Reality is by definition what actually is and has being, and since all that exists exists in the present moment, reality is all that exists in the Now. There is nothing that does not exist in the Now, thus there is nothing that is not reality. Reality is necessarily absolute and complete in the present moment. There can be and is nothing missing from reality. But the existence of a thing in the present moment, even though it is necessarily part of reality, may be other than it appears. Thus its actual reality may be other than it appears. Anything such as a prediction or memory about something that exists either in the past or will exist in the future, or a theory of what might exist unobserved elsewhere unobserved in the present moment, has a real existence only as a prediction or memory or theory in the Now, but what it refers to has no current reality in experience and thus no reality in the present moment. Even if the memory or theory or prediction is accurate the reality of its accuracy can only be confirmed by a subsequent experience in the present moment at another clock time. Until then its only reality is as a theory, memory or prediction.

....... This is one difference between reality and illusion, that reality is only what is actually experienced in the Now. Theories or suppositions about what might be experienced at some other clock time in the Now are have reality only as theories or suppositions, whereas what they theorize about or suppose can not be currently said to be real absent a direct experience of it. Normally in daily life as in science we suppose that such referents have reality even absent direct experience of that reality, but that is illusion, though obviously a very useful illusion to the degree such suppositions turn out to be accurate.

....... However even direct experience is also illusory according the Principle of Observer Dependence, that everything an observer experiences is actually an experience of its own cognitive model, and thus dependent on and distorted by observer structure. We had originally attempted to reveal a putative observer independent reality by revealing and stripping away all these observer dependent layers of illusion. But with each layer of observer illusion we stripped away less and less of any such external reality was left, till in the end when we eliminated the last vestiges of the observer altogether nothing at all remained, no reality was possible to experience. As a result of this exercise we were forced to accept that any meaningful notion of reality must include an observer, that reality only exists in the experience of some observer, or in the general case in the present moment xperience of any extant thing in the universe.

....... But since the reality of both things and observers are also themselves just experience, by extension we were forced to conclude that it is xperience itself which constitutes reality, but that xperience is prior to any dualism of xperienced and xperiencer. Restating this in terms of human consciousness, reality consists entirely of conscious experience in the Now antecedent to the dualistic distinction of either a human observer or that which is observed. Thus consciously experienced reality simply is what is, it consists of the totality of conscious experience in the Now. By its existence as experience in the Now it constitutes reality, and what does not exist as experience in the Now can not be said to be part of reality.

....... Thus we need not say something stops existing in theory when it is not experienced, only that the notion of its existence is not a meaningful question from the perspective of direct experience of a particular observer. Certainly a consistent theory may predict it will again exist when again experienced, and thus it may be hypothesized under certain reasonable dualistic assumptions that it existed during the interim, but that reality can only be confirmed in the experience of it's confirmation which does not currently exist so in effect it can never be confirmed. So the experience of such a theory only as an extant experienced theory may be taken as reality but not the reality of what the theory presumes exists outside of experience and thus not a current constituent of reality.

....... It is important to understand that existence, reality and being have only a positive sense, never a negative one. That is when an experience occurs it exists and has reality. However there is no direct experiential sense in which non existence, non reality or non Being 'exists'. Non existence cannot exist. Therefore there is no meaningful sense in which non existence, non reality or non Being can be considered 'real' or actual other than as a theoretical concept in a dualistic system. These concepts can have no experiential existence or reality even if they may have abstract meaning in a dualistic conceptual system. If a thing is not experienced we cannot claim it necessarily does not exist or that it does exist. We can say only that it is not experienced and thus is not currently part of reality. So the question of its existence is a matter of theory not of reality, and the most consistent theory tells us there is no meaningful notion to non-Being, non-reality, or non-existence, just as we discovered that death in the subjective sense is also an illusion.

....... Thus reality is absolute and complete in itself. Reality consists only of itself. One cannot even say there is nothing outside reality as that can never be experientially confirmed, and ultimately it is experience that is reality. At the ultimate level there is no meaningful sense in which anything can be said about anything other than reality in the present moment. Reality is reality and reality exists in the Now. That is all that can ever be experienced.

....... Thus reality is rather more tricky than we had originally assumed. We can come up with very reasonable and consistent theories about the existence of an observerless physical reality shared by all observers according to their cognitive models but ultimately any such theory itself exists only as it is experienced by a single observer, or more accurately it exists only as an experience. One could say there is only one observer frame subjectively operative at a time. Subjective observer frames are subjectively non sharable though a subjective observer frame will almost certainly contain other observer frames as objects of its subjective experience. All experience occurs only in a single observer frame, or rather it defines a single subjective observer frame. However the experience of that frame may reasonably predict the existence of multiple similar simultaneous observer frames but the reality of that theory is as an experience of a theory within a single observer frame not as the supposition the theory states. The reality of the theory is as a reasonable theory about reality, not as its non experienced predictions. Thus at another level of theory the true reality is not an observerless reality but all xperiences occurring in the Now as experienced by an observer. And recursively the reality of this too is as the experience of it as a theory, not reality itself. Thus the entire theory stated in this article, though to this observer eminently reasonable and logically consistent, is reality only to the extent it is experienced! Out of mind, out of reality!

....... Thus our notion of reality may seem self contradictory when viewed from different levels of theory and experience, but is not. It states that only experience is reality, and that experience is always in a single observer frame. It does not deny the reasonableness of a theory which states by extension the existence of a multitude of observer frames in the universe each of which maps to some single frame observer experience. But it states that for any observer reality consists only of present moment extant experience in that observer's frame. Thus there are a myriad multiple observer frames possible, for each of which reality consists only of its own experience, and in fact that is what reality is, since absent an observer there is no reality. So reality exists only from the perspective of some observer. There is no universal shared reality in reality, though there are theories which posit that which have reality as theories in some observer frames. However such theories prove only the reality of their existence as theories, not the reality of what they propose.

....... And it gets even trickier since experience is not properly the experience of something by something, but fundamentally is prior to any such dualism of observer and something observed. So reality is experience pure and simple. To the extent experience is discriminated into things such as self and not-self the reality of those is as the raw direct experience of the discrimination of a direct experience. So at base reality is always raw undiscriminated experience of something, even if that raw undiscriminated something is itself the discrimination of a raw undiscriminated experience.

....... In this observer's experience there exists the reasonable and seemingly consistent theory that reality consists not of a single observerless reality but of as many realities as there are xperiencers. That every xperience is a sort of flashbulb snapshot in the darkness which brings one tiny xperience into being and reality. And that reality consists entirely of such snapshots in the darkness, which when cobbled together lead to the direct experience of a consistent external underlying structure of which the snapshots are snapshots which bring to light little individual glimpses of the whole existing in darkness. As a result some of these snapshots consist of present moment views of higher order organization discrimination of the structure of earlier ones which leads to others which suggest a unified logically self-consistent formal structure beyond in the darkness tiny pieces of which are being revealed by the continuing series of snapshots. In fact the snapshots normally proceed at such a continuous pace as to provide the illusion of a continuous bright consistent world of forms in which we as an observer exist and act. Nevertheless in the end it all boils down to direct experience in the Now, at whatever level that experience seems to be.

....... So in the end all we can say is that fundamentally reality is raw direct undiscriminated experience, even if that is of more complex discriminated structures. All notion of observer and observed, and in turn single versus multiple observer frames is all just another raw experience of the discrimination of raw experience.


....... Since experience is antecedent to the dualism of observer and observed, and our true or subjective self is simply experience, experience is never 'our' experience but only experience itself, nothing more, nothing less. And since experience is reality and the totality of reality is experience, our true self exists directly in reality, as the experience of reality which is reality, and thus since we always experience only reality we are already enlightened!

....... There is and can be nothing missing from reality. Reality is complete and absolute. Experience itself is reality and since our consciousness self (as opposed to our self consciousness of an objective self which includes our subjective self as an object) is that experience, our true self is enlightened. Thus to the extent we identify with our true pure subjective self of experience rather than our objective self, 'we' are enlightened and always have been. Or more accurately enlightenment exists in the Now since experience exists in the Now and experience is enlightenment since experience is reality. Enlightenment is reality and reality is enlightenment. The Now is intrinsically enlightened, and our true subjective self of conscious experience necessarily participates in the enlightenment of the Now, rather is the totality of the enlightenment of the present moment.

....... Thus it is impossible to escape enlightenment or not be enlightened. So in the most fundamental sense one is already enlightened and it is just a matter of realizing that and admitting it to oneself and accepting it both intellectually and with one's whole being. Since we and everything is 'Buddha nature' (used to mean the enlightenment nature of reality) already it is just a matter of understanding and accepting that we are all already enlightened. We are all already enlightened, it is just a matter of realizing it and admitting it to ourselves and seeing reality and the world from this perspective. It is impossible to not be enlightened since we live in reality and reality only and thus experience reality and reality only, and enlightenment is the experience of reality, pure and simple.

....... This realization must be understood intellectually but it must also be realized and accepted with one's whole being. That is we must understand and discard all our natural evolutionary defenses to this realization and our whole being's acceptance of it and alter our mode of relating to the world. That requires looking at all our desires and attachments and illusions most especially the self not-self distinction with new eyes. It requires seeing and experiencing the illusion of reality, and the reality of illusion.


....... Now if we live in reality only, and experience reality only then why do we believe we are not enlightened when we actually are? The key is that we take the reality of illusion as reality rather than illusion. That is we take the reality of the forms of illusion not as forms of illusion, but as an unexperienced and thus unreal reality of the illusions they suppose exist in an observer independent external world. We mistakenly believe that the illusions of reality are actual reality rather than illusions whose reality is that they are real illusions. Thus enlightenment is the realization that the reality of experience is illusion, rather than that the experience of illusion is reality. Illusion experienced as illusion is reality.

....... So reality is what is; it is all experience in the present moment. However our study of the discrimination of experience concluded that all experience is also illusion, that it is the inextricable imposition of observer structure onto raw experience. So the final conclusion we must draw is that reality consists entirely of illusion, and illusion is the totality of reality! That is no matter what the content of experience, it is by definition both reality and illusion, since there cannot seem to be any experiencible reality other than illusion. That is experience is simultaneously both reality and illusion.


....... The above discussion approached the problem from an intellectual and rational perspective. But from a direct experiential approach we gain an important additional insight. In an earlier paper HardProblem.pdf we discussed the experience of deep meditation and reported that as the forms diminish they become clearly experienced as contents of consciousness. An imperfect but very useful analogy is the forms of experience are experienced rather like ripples in a sea of formless consciousness which itself is experienced as only the pervading presence of what we call the Ontological Energy of Being, that is the presence of consciousness reality in the present moment.

....... From the perspective of such a deep meditative consciousness all the experiential forms, both thought and 'thing' forms, are seen as contents of consciousness in a sea of consciousness itself. An crucially no longer is the center consciousness located within particular forms looking out of their distortions onto the world, but rather viewing all forms as objective contents of consciousness passing through the formless sea of consciousness itself. That is we no longer see the world through the illusions, but see the illusions as things passing through reality itself. In this way we clearly see the form illusions and illusions rather than seeing reality from the center of and thus in terms of the illusions as they pass. This later perspective is the normal mode of humanity trapped within the illusions and thus seeing the illusions are reality, rather than the meditative view of seeing the passing form illusions as illusions. In the meditative mode the view is not distorted by looking out at the world from within the forms, but seeing the forms from the center of consciousness itself as transient contents of consciousness. Even though in the ultimate sense of the absence of an observer there would be no experience at all, we now see that it is possible to circumvent the veils of illusion in deep mediation when the appear for what they are and more importantly the sea of consciousness itself is thus revealed as the experience of the pure formless Ontological Energy in which all forms arise.

....... The forms which arise as transient contents of conscious experience include all discernible things in the world, including thoughts, things, feelings and their properties and relationships between them and theories of them. There is nothing that is not a form other than the formless sea of Being in which they arise like complex interacting ripples and eddies. At the level of direct raw fundamental experience there is no difference between a thought or a thing, they are all simple direct raw experience which can be in turn directly rawly experienced as discriminated into such categories as mental thoughts and objective physical things.


....... Meditation then provides the key to understanding the apparent paradox of illusion being reality, and reality being illusion, but we must also deal with our daily lives and how then are we to bring the enlightenment of meditation back into daily life? Obviously the sensory deprivation of temporarily removing oneself from the usual constant entanglements of the world and sitting comfortably and motionless aids in diminishing the experience of forms to the level where they can be individually recognized as contents of consciousness in the sea of consciousness itself. Thus the simplification of daily life to the bare minimum will be an aid to maintaining the meditative perspective throughout the day. We won't go into particular techniques here some of which can be found in the page on Chi but the important point is that this perspective needs to be properly strengthened and maintained in daily life so that enlightenment can be continually realized.

....... In meditation one was non active. In daily life one is active, so the key is to bring one's action into alignment with the perspective of meditation. To do that one acts directly from the source of being, the Ontological Energy, but in continuous alignment with the forms it takes in the moment. One experiences and accepts the forms as forms, as the motion of the continuous flows of the Ontological Energy through forms and one aligns one's being with those flows and lets them move one's being according to their natural progression like the meeting an interaction of two unconstrained waves. Rather than being rigid and full of oneself like a rock in the stream and expecting all external form flows to be deflected, one empties oneself of one's objective self armor and lets the flows flow through one's being and be completed by one's being and then redirected back into the world. This is the method for example of Aikido in dealing with the approaching form flows of an attacker, by using one's emptiness to redirect the attacker's own motion harmlessly around one's center and away. What is suggested is the applicability of this same approach not just to self defense but to all interactions with reality on all levels. One dances with the flows of reality rather than rigidly opposing them. Of course there are many nuances to this method and certainly much depends on the type and strength of the forces involved.

....... Traditionally such form flows of Ontological Energy are called flows of Chi or Tao and we'll use those terms somewhat interchangeably to expand our context. But these terms must not be misunderstood to imply anything metaphysical or supernatural, but simply the directly experienced flows of Ontological Energetic forms. So from this perspective the key to living and acting in the world of forms is to insightfully recognize the complex of flowing forms and simply allow one's own forms to act in accordance with them. One becomes aware of the underlying flowing forms of the Tao as they develop rather than being misled by the surface illusions. One facilitates this by releasing all the many personal levels of objective self forms, the desires and attachments and ignorance which stand in the way of this recognition, especially when not recognized as such. This frees the Chi energy trapped in such forms to become part of the underlying flow of Ontological Energy forms and facilitates the recognition of those forms.


....... We have noted before that, at least in the experience of this observer, the underlying forms seem to emerge in as a remarkably self consistent unified structure, that the logic of the forms seems absolute and incontrovertible without apparent exception, and that when apparent exceptions arise they are always self consistently resolvable within some expansion or deeper understanding of the logic of forms. It is of course this quality of forms that allows organisms to exist and function in their cognitive models of reality, and for science to exist as a view of physical reality which is both self consistent and consistent with experiential evidence. This led us to propose one theoretical perspective that the closest one could come to an observer free reality would be that it consisted entirely of the evolution of an enormous complex of self consistent forms according to their own self incorporated formal logic, and that these forms are empty of any self substance other than the shared sea of Ontological Energy. That is the long sought observer independent physical reality would be simply the laws of nature themselves evolving according to their own intrinsic causal and quantum laws.

....... This I think is as good an observer free theory as we can come up with, however we must still recognize that its reality is as an excellent elegant self consistent theory not a reality of direct experience. As we have seen these two views are not actually inconsistent so long as the theory is recognized as a useful theory rather than a direct reality.

....... So the bring enlightenment into daily life and intellectual life the key is to purify the forms of the cognitive model down to its self consistent core and drop all those forms which are inconsistent or distracting. The criterion of self consistency can be used to distinguish the more real forms from the more illusory. Bear in mind here that self consistency means both self consistency within theory and with the experience of objective evidence from that portion of the cognitive model which is categorized as the external physical world. After all it is the apparent self consistency of the the external physical world portion of the cognitive model to which theory must be made consistent since it is the origin of self consistency, not the the other way around.

....... This process must occur both at the intellectual level and the level of the whole being. The more one pares away inconsistencies and distracting irrelevancies, the more one purifies the cognitive model and reveals the apparent self consistency of the underlying dynamic flows of forms. This is the key to experiencing, living and acting in the world of forms as a conscious enlightened being. Even as illusion the forms are a self consistent illusion as they are able to express only the reality of the underlying Ontological Energy of which they are forms. When they are understood as the reality of real extant illusions, rather than misunderstood as simply the reality they masquerade as, then all becomes clear. When one sees the forms as forms rather than as reality, one concentrates on the form and can dance with the Tao, directly experiencing the flows of the Ontological Energy of reality as the complex dynamic development of a single musical theme, the music of the Uni-Verse.

....... From this perspective the entire form content of the universe is simply the present moment slice of an unending forever intertwining river of forms evolving according to their own intrinsic causal and quantum laws. We as observers, by purifying our cognitive model representation approximation of this dynamic network of forms down to the self consistent consistent basic kernel become best able to swim with the flows of this enormous riverine flow within the underlying formless sea of Ontological Energy.


....... From this perspective the entire bright world of consciousness we see around us is simply the present moment time slice of the evolving self consistent forms. Everything in the world to the last grain or sand, or sparkle of light on a blade of grass is purely the resultant of all the multitude of forms that interacted to produce it. Everything is simply the experience of the current result of all its previous network of classically constrained quantum random causes. And this present moment slice of the evolving form network river is reality because it is given Being by the Ontological Energy of present moment, and consciousness enlightenment by the existence of true self as observer and experiencer. The Now, reality, experience, consciousness, enlightenment, Ontological Energy, Tao, Being, they are all simply names given from differing perspectives to the single Reality, outside of which nothing can be even said not to exist.

....... Through this present moment flows the river of purified self consistent forms and one dances to the music of this flow and so one's own forms are purified as well. All is accepted as reality in the Now is all there is or can be. One's true self is the entirety of this reality. There is nothing the true self is not. One directly experiences the incredible awesome absolute unmediated realness of reality in the peace of release of all the illusions of objective self, death, desires and attachments, and the ignorance of inconsistent illusions, and illusions mistaken for reality.

....... When the entirety of reality is realized as true self, and the entirety of reality is recognized as consisting of simply empty forms of the most precious substance of Being real, then there arises a natural compassion for all of creation and for all sentient beings, and for all reality down to the very last speck of it. One naturally recognizes the trials and suffering of one's own faithfully loyal body beast, one's forever struggling mind through whatever trials, and one turns to them and looks them in the eye and weeps with one's neglect and mistreatment and from thenceforth vows to treat them with the utmost compassion, care and respect, to nurture them and alleviate all their suffering to the extent possible. And one sees all other humans, animals and creatures of the earth from these same compassionate eyes, recognizes the experience of them is part of one's own true self and vows to alleviate their suffering and ignorance wherever possible. One treasures even every last inorganic thing in the world as the most precious jewel which incorporates in itself the entire history of the process of being from the very beginning. One watches the light kiss the stone on which the lichen grows and it is enough.

....... One realizes the enormous privilege of being alive in this incredibly wonderful world in the awesome realness of its reality. No matter what the circumstances the enlightened consciousness of reality in the present moment is enough.

....... In the final analysis self consistent forms continually enter conscious experience in the present moment. Where they come from and that they exist at all, and that they exhibit the seemingly consistent forms they do is the most incredibly wonderful mystery. It is a mystery that I suspect will remain eternally a mystery. I doubt the solution to this mystery is even frameable within the cognitive model of the human mind. What does seem comprehensible is that the question itself is ultimately meaningless from the perspective of direct experience, and thus can never be part of the reality in which we find our existence.

....... As stated above all the apparent 'feelings' and substance of the world are added by the observer in his cognitive model to the purely formal structure of discriminated experience. The part over which one has control is one's personal myth which is the highest level component of illusion. Thus we must discard this personal myth to understand the pure forms as manifestations of Ontological Energy. However, since our personal myth is potentially under our personal control we are free to compose our own personal myth with two caveats without it re-imposing a layer of illusion that obscures reality. First, it can be anything we wish to the extent it is not inconsistent with the self consistency of the forms, and second, it is always recognized as useful myth rather than reality. Thus it may stand recognized as an observer interpretation of reality rather than necessarily being reality as the previous personal myth was assumed to be. It must be subject to falsification when confronted with the self consistency structure of forms. Such a personal myth is of course directly experienced so it does have reality as myth.

....... There is often a natural joy and peace and intense bright consciousness associated with the dropping away of the personal myth which was the cause of suffering and ignorance of the intense and immediate presence of reality. Thus the intense reality of pure boundless Ontological Energy is often experienced as pure love, divinity, and the ever refreshing flow of the life force or in similar terms. One often experiences a pure intense love with all of reality, with trees, flowers, animals, the sky, the rain, and even people, and one directly experiences the Buddha nature of all things and thus feels their love in return. All the unnecessary boundaries dissolve and the pure love chi energy flows freely between all things refreshing and renewing their being. This is the quintessential mystical experience, and it is a beautiful thing. One recalls the poems of Whitman in which he celebrates his love for all of creation. But one must always remember the reality of this experience is in its experience not as a theory of reality.

....... As the reader will no doubt notice I am still struggling to express some of these insights clearly in English. Much of the problem is simply the limited ability of English or any symbolic language to express ideas that inherently transcend grammatical and logical structure. This of course has been recognized at least since Lao Tsu who proclaimed 'The Tao that can be named is not the Tao'. In any case I've done the best I could for the time being and hopefully will be continuing to improve the exposition. Remember, as Zen continually reminds us, that none of the words above can really encompass or describe what can only actually be experienced by direct experience. All these words have been circling the moon pointing fingers from every direction that made sense to me, and the fact that the fingers often point from and thus in different directions and so often entail logical contradictions when compared with each other should not distract from the reality of the moon they all point at. Ultimately one must stop looking at the fingers and experience the moon itself in all its glory! Hopefully I''ll continue my effort to express these ideas more clearly and eventually more insights will emerge, seemingly of their own accord, from the eternal mystery that is reality.

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1. This aphorism occurs in many variants in Ch'an and Zen literature, but is first attributed to Master Qingyuan in the COMPENDIUM OF THE FIVE LAMPS (Wudeng Huiyuan), 1252): App (1994), pp. 111-2, fn. 2.

2. Though often quoted by Hui Neng, he originally became enlightened overhearing it as a child in a reading of the Diamond Sutra. The Diamond Sutra, Chapter 10 - The Adornment of Pure Lands: “Therefore, SubhĆti, the Bodhisattva, Mahąsattva, should thus produce a pure heart. He should produce that heart without dwelling in forms. He should produce that heart without dwelling in sounds, smells, tastes, tangible objects, or dharmas. He should produce that heart without dwelling anywhere." (Heart in Chinese is roughly equivalent to the English word mind.) It is of note that The Diamond Sutra is the world's oldest known printed book as there is a copy dated 868 AD, centuries before Gutenberg.

3. My retranslation of the version given in Suzuki, Daisetz. Zen Buddhism. Doubleday, 1956.

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....... This section provides a cursory examination of the minds of animals, that is of non human organisms, and corrects a number of popular misconceptions about animals. In many cases important ethical and policy decisions are based on such misinformation. In general the nature of these misconceptions often reveal more about the humans who believe them than the animals themselves! Even today even many researchers in animal behavior are still wedded to an unrealistic quasi-religious view that human minds are intrinsically different and superior to the minds of other animals. Here we explore some of these prejudices and attempt to present a more balanced and complete approach.

....... Knowledge of the minds of other creatures than ourselves is always problematical, even those of other humans. In this appendix we explore some of the problems even scientists have in understanding that animals have the same general type of minds, intelligences and consciousness that we humans do. We explore why animals are often viewed as automata lacking free will. Much of the problem stems from the lack of a common language, or rather the failure of supposedly intelligent humans to master animal languages, that is animal communication methods. It is the use of a shared common symbolic language, even if it must be translated, that bridges this mind gap among humans and creates the illusion that other species which do not share human language are necessarily unintelligent. On the contrary they are quite intelligent, and must be in able to survive or even function effectively in the world, as we shall see.

....... How do we understand the minds of creatures other than ourselves? What is the proper methodology to apply? The answer to that is quite simple, we understand them in the same way that we know about the minds of other humans in most cases. Though perhaps ultimately we can really know only ourselves, if even that, we consistently claim to know much about other humans by observing them and intuiting the mental states that produce their interactions with the world and other organisms, and body language, their vocalizations etc. This type of knowledge about other humans is broadly accepted as accurate. And in many case it is straightforward to apply the same methodology to understanding the minds of other species. There is also of course considerable additional scientific corroboration such as the considerable physiological similarities between ourselves and other species and our common biological origins.

....... Thus the basic methodology must always be to apply the same criteria and methodologies to other species that we apply to humans. If an animal acts as if it is conscious, intelligent, and feels pain we can as confidently assume it does as we do with other humans who act as if they do.

....... Though even many scientists still reject the notion, the only way to properly understand animal behavior is to always apply the same criteria to human and non-human minds when we ask such questions. When we do that we invariably find that with notable differences related to writing and manipulation of complex tools, our minds operate nearly identically in most respects at a basic structural level. There are enormous differences in detail but the essential mechanisms are very similar, which is to be expected due to the great structural similarities.

....... There is another excellent methodology to understand the capabilities of animal minds even though it is completely ignored by scientists. That is rather than to test animal minds by how well the animals perform experiments devised by humans, it is rather to understand what mental capabilities humans would require to perform the tasks that animals do every day naturally in their environments. Why this self evidently obvious methodology of understanding animal minds is completely ignored is evidence of the profound lack of understand of animal minds by most human researchers. We will apply all of these methodologies to the questions below.


....... Yes, they clearly are since consciousness, properly understood is simply awareness, and not self consciousness as many suppose. One only needs to look at an animal to see they are keenly aware of their environments. There is no way they could not be, since if they were not they simply would be blind to and impossible to function within their environment. This is so self evident it is astounding it is not understood by all. Children clearly intuitively understand it, but even many scientists insist one must be self conscious to be conscious, a logical contradiction! See my paper on An Easy Solution To The Hard Problem for a detailed examination of what consciousness is.

....... How do we know if animals are conscious? We know animals are conscious by applying exactly the same criteria as we do in deciding whether humans are conscious or not. 1). they act as if they are (they pass the animal Turing test one could say), and 2). because we can use logic to understand that if they were not conscious, intelligent, rational etc. that they would act randomly and not be able to survive. In the strict philosophical sense we cannot say there is any consciousness other than our own, but if we do judge other humans as conscious, we must use the same criteria for admitting animals are conscious as well.

....... An impediment to understanding this is that quite a few still define consciousness as 'the awareness of self-awareness', or the 'consciousness of being conscious'. A self contradiction if ever I heard one! That implies that you aren't conscious if you are conscious, but that you must be conscious of some particular thing to be conscious of anything. In actuality consciousness is plain and simple just awareness itself. The bug feels (is aware) of pain just as you and I. It must be able to experience pain to avoid injurious situations. That is the function of pain in all animals as a necessary input for the functioning of its instinctual imperatives.

....... The fundamental error here is the notion that an organism must be able to think of itself as a self to be conscious. The truth however is that the concept of 'self' is just one of many mental constructs that arises within consciousness. Consciousness doesn't arise only with the concept of self. The concept of self is something that arises within a pre-existing consciousness, and it is this pre-existing consciousness that all creatures share with humans though obviously the finer details will be dependent on the structure of the particular organism. This has been understood, or should have been understood, at least since the work of Piaget on the development of cognitive constructs in children.

....... It is clear that even in humans, one doesn't constantly think 'I am having this thought or this experience or this perception', one generally just has the thought, the experience or the perception. One's conscious does not suddenly disappear in such cases! One is just as conscious when one is thinking 'I am having this perception' as when one is just having the perception. It is crystal clear that consciousness is independent of any requirement for 'self' consciousness. There is no recursive requirement. Consciousness and awareness are one and the same.

....... And those who find it impossible to consider 'what is going on in the animal's mind', by definition cannot discuss whether an animal is conscious or not. They disqualify themselves from the discussion. Apply the same standard of the behaviorists to humans, and you must conclude humans are not conscious either, they are just neural electrical circuits that produce externally observable behaviors. If the mind is not a concept the behaviorist uses in scientific parlance, you have no standing to even discuss consciousness, since it is entirely a function of mind. There is no doubt that the cognitive structure of the mind arises from neural function, but consciousness can only be understood at the level of the mind, not the neural circuitry.

....... The fundamental prejudice seems to be that a priori the behaviorist begins by incorrectly denying the existence of animal minds. Therefore of course it would follow they have no consciousness, no intelligence and no reason, etc. etc. I suggest instead we recognize that since animals act as if they have minds, this is convincing evidence that they do have minds.


....... In a fundamental sense all processing of the cognitive model of any organism is abstract in the sense that it is elements of the cognitive model that are being manipulated rather than reality itself. It is the manipulation of mental representations of reality, not the actual elements of reality. There is simply no way around that self evident conclusion. To deny this is again more absurd specism on the part of ignorant humans which serves only to reveal defects in their own cognitive models of reality!

....... This is clearly understood when we consider the planning involved for example in a pride of lions establishing an ambush which could only be achieved by their imagining what will likely happen and how to act so as exploit the probable location and responses of prey over a particular terrain. There can be no doubt at all that this involves abstract thinking even in the usual interpretation which is simply imagining events and situations which are not actually currently happening. Attempting to explain away such activities as 'instinct' (in its usual meaning of being robotic rather than as we use it in this theory) explains nothing as it just a label with no content and serves only as a linguistic marker for human ignorance of the actual cognitive computational processes required to plan and execute any action that will occur even a moment into a future which does not yet currently exist. That absolutely requires manipulating a model of a non existent future, a requirement of abstract thought. Even insects and spiders can be seen evaluating alternative routes to a destination by successively testing an initial approach on each while keeping the desired destination in sight before proceeding along the path they judge best.


....... Yes of course, they clearly act so as to effectively solve problems within their environments which is the definition of rational intelligence. It is utter nonsense and says more about the lack of human intelligence than animal intelligence to deny this.

....... It is quite clear that non-human animals must be considered rational and intelligent as well as humans. They do certainly exhibit reason, in the same sense as humans, in that they intelligently solve problems in their daily lives, and to do that it is absolutely necessary to be able to imagine, evaluate and choose between abstract alternatives.

....... Imagine the difficulty you would have with equivalent minimal tools in finding food and otherwise surviving in the wild without an excellent memory of seasonal food sources, shelters, food storage methodologies, protection against predators etc. etc., and if you think this through or better yet try it for even a few days, you will begin to get a sense of the high level of intelligence required. By this measure most animals are at least as intelligent as humans.

....... Let's consider what actually must be happening when animals and humans make decisions. The essence of the standard argument against animal intelligence is that animals don't think symbolically but humans can. This is clearly incorrect precisely because to act effectively animals must be able to imagine states that do not yet exist, and condition their behavior on such imagined states. For example, the lion imagines the prey is likely to run in a certain direction, or to visit a certain water-hole to drink, and decides its behavior on that basis. The imagined state is a symbol of a possible, but not actual, real state, therefore the lion must be thinking symbolically since it is not currently aware of a state that does not yet exist. It is quite clear such symbolic thought is absolutely required to account for the obvious animal behavior of choosing between non-actual future alternatives. If animals did not think symbolically, we would only expect non-survivable near random behavior which clearly we don't see anywhere in nature. What we see in almost all animals to varying degrees is intelligent purposeful behavior directed towards future goals which are not yet actual and thus must be held and manipulated in the animal's mind as symbols.

....... I've had some criticism of my use of the word 'symbol' here instead of 'representation' as some insist that a symbol is a purely abstract form with no representational correspondence with the original thing it stands for. That is the letter 'G' is properly a symbol since it is a completely arbitrary sign for a sound, whereas a mental picture of a gazelle at a water hole is an actual representation of the original. In a sense I agree with this criticism that what is held in the animal's (and human's as well!) mind is probably a somewhat representational mental image rather than a completely abstract mental marker (symbol), but on the other hand no one really has any idea of how mental representations are actually stored. The essential point I want to make by using the world 'symbol' rather than 'representation' is that however it is stored it is logically manipulable in the animal's mind to obtain valid and logical conclusions. Normally logical manipulation is thought only to operate on symbols rather than representations like a painting. That's why I persist in using the world symbol to make sure that it is understood that whatever the representational form, it is amenable to abstract logical manipulation.

....... In simplified terms, as an example, the mental process is that the human imagines a place where he can get food and imagines where a particular restaurant is located and imagines how to get there. All these things are symbols of the reality they represent. The human is thinking symbolically to decide on a course of action, and it is this which results in his behavior as the output of a logic manipulation of those symbols. Since none of these things being considered are actual or present they can not be being experienced but must be being held and manipulated as abstract symbols in the mind. The human is thinking abstractly and intelligently to solve the problem of how to satisfy an instinctual imperative produced by its instinctual firmware routines.

....... Clearly other animals use exactly similar processes to solve real problems in their environments. Remember the rule is we must always apply the same criteria to analyze human and animal mentality. The lion's instinctual firmware receives a hunger input from its internal sensory system, the instinctual firmware produces an output that its hunger needs to be satisfied by making a kill. The lion then uses its abstract intelligence applied to its cognitive world model constructed from its learned experience and imagines that prey is likely to come to the water-hole at a particular time, so on the basis of that logical conclusion that its hunger can probably be satisfied if it moves to the water-hole, it then uses its learned representation of the terrain to navigate there in anticipation of finding food. On the way it continually uses enormously complex intelligent processes to adapt its movements to every variation in the terrain and any unexpected changes therein. To accomplish the lion must continually imagine alternatives which are not actual and obviously not its immediate sensory reality, therefore it must be continually manipulating multiple abstract symbols of its model of reality and not just its sensory inputs. Therefore the lion, like the human, is continually thinking symbolically and making rational intelligent decisions based on the manipulation of its cognitive symbology. There is absolutely no way around this conclusion.

....... Thus it is clear that animals do think abstractly, are intelligent and make reasoned, rational decisions based on experience stored in their memories. And that the basic directional imperatives to this behavior are provided by the instinctual firmware encoded in its DNA. This is true of both humans and non-human animals alike. The basic operation of both types of minds is identical. Both manufacture a species unique and individual unique cognitive model of their environment continually modified and improved from learned experience. This cognitive model is enormously complex and contains both representations of the immediate actually present environment as well as of the currently non-actual, non-present environment as it had been experienced in the past and representations of that environment as it is expected to be in the future. And by manipulating the abstract symbols of their cognitive models of their environments, both human and non-human animals generate rational and purposeful behavior that is directed towards fulfillment of their basic instinctual firmware imperatives.

....... This theory also has important implications for epistemology, for how we know things. It implies that the cognitive models of both humans and other animals must be reasonably accurate depictions of an actual real external world because by operating on them rationally we manage to survive in that real external world. If the models were fundamentally inaccurate the behaviors they generated would be dysfunctional and quickly non-survivable. Thus we have an evolutionary argument for the soundness of our epistemology, and an epistemological argument for our theory of both human and non-human minds.

....... This is an argument that Konrad Lorenz hinted at in his 'Behind the Mirror', in his belief that knowledge gained from our senses must be accurate, since if it were not we could not survive.

....... Behaviorists and others make the huge mistake of trying to understand all action from the outside without considering what goes on inside the minds that produce that behavior. They claim that the mind of others is not directly accessible to the scientist. This is of course true, but to truly understand one must consider what kind of mental processes and organization would be required to produce externally observable behaviors. One can certainly describe animal actions with algorithms with some success. But it is a great error to assume animals are simply robots blindly and unknowingly executing programmed behaviors. The question we are considering (and that most scientists do not address or assume is irrelevant) is what goes on within the animal's mind to produce that behavior. If the algorithms do not address what goes on within the mind, that does not imply there is nothing going on. This is easily shown to be true as the same algorithmic approach can equally describe similar human behaviors, such as when a human gets hungry it goes to a restaurant. This tells us nothing about the actual mental process that results in that behavior but we would never then erroneously conclude nothing goes on in the human mind. The algorithmic approach is useful as simply a statistical description of averages of gross behaviors, and completely misses the mental processes and intelligence necessary to produce environment appropriate individual actions in all their enormous complexity.


....... All animal species in which parents care for their young also teach their young in at least the sense that the young are able to learn by example from the parents. In higher animals this learning is reinforced by the parent both positively and negatively depending on the circumstance and the appropriateness of the young's involvement with it, as for example in the lion's swatting the cub to discourage bad behavior or the mother bear interfering with bad behavior by the cub to discourage it. FONT COLOR=F8E8D0>....... This passing down of accumulated knowledge from generation to generation is the definition of culture. In social animals the group also maintains a group cultural knowledge which is passed from generation to generation, and the group generally acts to a great extent to protect its members. This clearly constitutes culture, and includes such group knowledge as seasonal food sources, intimate knowledge of the territorial terrain and environment, migratory patterns established over the millennia, interactive social patterns etc. etc. Even social insects exhibit such cultures. FONT COLOR=F8E8D0>....... With all the recent reports of new discoveries in chimpanzee tool using abilities, group warfare etc. has anyone besides me wondered if chimps are suddenly undergoing an explosion of cultural evolution right before our eyes? That all these recently reported behaviors might actually be newly evolving ones rather than discovery of pre-existing ones? Are they suddenly learning from and copying human behaviors? Have they made a great intellectual leap and realized they can learn from and copy humans? Will they perhaps soon begin making clothes and houses and farming? I don't think these possibilities should be dismissed out of hand. Are researchers covertly teaching them new behaviors so they can be the ones to 'discover' and report them?


....... Certainly one of the most stupid of all human idiocies to believe otherwise. Such notions, whether actually believed or not, are often used by hunters and others to excuse truly vicious atrocities. Though recently even a group of Scandinavian scientists tried to convince us that lobsters don't feel pain!

....... Any reasonable person who understands the basic principles of biology understands that the ability to feel pain is an absolutely essential necessity for the evolutionary survival of a species. It is the basic mechanism which enables members of a species to sense and retreat from situations that would result in the injury or death of the individual. And to learn to attempt to avoid such situations in the future. Pain is a exemplary example of the function of all kinds of feelings to prioritize elements of the cognitive model so as to generate appropriate actions. Even some single celled organisms have a basic pain like mechanism by which they sense and retreat from negative stimuli.

....... Again the usual rationale behind contrary arguments is that because animals don't have self consciousness they may experience pain but they don't know they are experiencing pain! How anyone could seriously argue that direct physical pain is not actually pain unless there is some abstract mental process that tells itself that that pain is being experienced by itself seems totally delusional if one thinks it through.

....... The consciousness argument is often used to justify the arbitrary injuring or killing non-human animals. It pretends that animals can't feel pain because they don't have the notion of being a 'self' that is experiencing the pain. But this is obvious nonsense when analyzed. Even in human babies the experience of pain arises far earlier than the concept of self. Every organism has must have the experience of pain to ensure its survival and avoid harmful situations. As explained above experience and awareness and consciousness are identical in this sense. Perhaps the widespread irrational human blindness to this fact is a cognitive adaptation that made it easier for humans to reconcile themselves to killing animals for meat and for dealing with animal pests. I think this is evidenced by the fact that women and children are more likely to be aware of animal consciousness than men since they did less of the killing, especially of larger animals. That having been said, there are many traditional peoples including Native Americans, who do recognize animal consciousness and engage in rituals to apologize to and thank the souls of the animals they had to kill to be able to eat.

....... As for me I will continue to take bugs outside without harming them, and to rescue earthworms stranded on my drying driveway.


....... Certainly all animals have the functional equivalent of human emotions even though they may vary in quality and detail. Again if we understand our theory all minds must contain mechanisms we call feelings to valuate and prioritize elements of their cognitive models. Emotions are one of the main classes of such feelings. We can be almost certain that most more complex animals have a variety of emotional feelings that assist in determining action. All such complex animals such as invertebrates share basic structural similarities in their nervous systems, and the chemical messengers that provide two way feedback with the somatic system.

....... It is clear from they way they act by comparison to the way humans act that mammals and birds and to a reduced extent other species as one descends in complexity certainly have strong maternal love, affection for mates and siblings, even though in some cases like humans this can be overwhelmed by other emotions. May animals also experience fear, anger, sexual jealousy and envy over possessions such as food and all the other common emotions that humans have. This certainly also includes sadness and despair at loss of an offspring or the obvious depression after the loss of alpha status among defeated adult males.

....... The reason is simple biology. In all organisms it is such emotional responses to actions and events that enable the mind to judge and prioritize possible actions in any environmental situation. Such emotions are largely what drives the activities of all organisms.


....... In my own observations of nature I fairly often see both ants and predatory wasps will set a burden they are carrying down when faced with a significant obstacle. They will then scout out alternative routes before returning to pick up the burden and carry it along the chosen route. The only way this can happen is for the insect to engage in abstract intelligent processing of imagined alternatives, the evaluation of such alternatives according to which would be preferable according to specific criteria, the decision to select the best alternative, the remembering of the details of that alternative and where the burden was set down, and then the return to pick up the burden and carry it along the chosen route in fulfillment (duplication) of the stored decision produced and abstractly stored imagination of the retracement of the route carrying the burden. This is quite a complex mental process involving considerable abstract and intelligent thought when one thinks it through. Anyone who has attempted to program such behavior in computers or robots will certainly have a lot of respect for what is required.


....... Human observers often make the mistake of judging animal intelligence on the basis of what they think should make sense if they were the animal which is often misleading. For example I have a wooden cover over my outdoor well which I leave down during rainy periods and raise to dry out during sunny. This year every time it's been down a colony of ants appear with their eggs under it and then when I raise it immediately move elsewhere.

....... I had a neighbor comment that the ants weren't very smart to keep coming back over and over and then having to leave again. But that makes a number of unwarranted assumptions about how ants think about the world. First it makes the unwarranted assumption that it's not advantageous to the ants to better protect their eggs when they can under the cover, and that that advantage is more than worth the effort of frequently moving back and forth. It clearly might be in which case the behavior would be intelligent from the ants' perspective.

....... The second unwarranted assumption is that ants have the same sense of time that humans do. I'm quite sure that isn't true. To ants a day or so may seem like a year or so to humans in which case their evaluation that the threat had long ago passed and would not likely be repeated might be quite reasonable. After all humans rebuilt New Orleans, and nearly always move back where volcanoes or earthquakes destroyed towns. The intelligence of that depends on assessing the time frame of the threat. Ants could still be quite intelligent and still assess threats on vastly different time frames.

....... The point here is that animal intelligence should always be assessed on the basis of how they envision their world, not by how humans envision it. We can't validly just apply exclusively human criteria in assessing it.


....... The evidence for this is less clear though animals most certainly do understand many abstract, that is non actual, concepts. Certainly in a sense animals understand such abstract concepts as their own mortality and the death of others. Elephants for example are known to visit the bones of their relatives and pick them up and handle them tenderly and pensively. To explain why an animal flees or avoids a predator, or protects its young or herd-mates from a predator, one must postulate some sort of abstract conception in the animal's mind of what will happen if they do not flee, or do not protect. I am not arguing this concept is identical to to the way a human might conceive it, but there must be some such conception of the possibility of death for them to flee in the first place. Such a concept of mortality is clearly a required survival mechanism. Predators also are very aware of the death of their prey. There is absolutely no question that they understand the difference between living prey and dead prey.


....... Well, OK, maybe you've got me on this one! After all the evidence for even human souls is pretty shaky to say the least. After we figure out if humans have souls, then we can revisit this one. :-)

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....... One would think that it would be relatively easy for members of the same species which most likely share very similar cognitive and neural structures to reach agreement. Why is it so difficult to reach agreement, and why do people become so emotional about discussing important issues? One primary reason is that people argue from different and often unstated or even unrecognized assumptions. The challenge in such cases is to make such assumptions apparent and try to reconcile them. The second major reason is the use of invalid arguments. Another and more relevant reason is that in most cases probabilities and uncertainties are involved in any logic that tries to predict the future effects of current actions and it can be difficult to quantify and take these into consideration in an accurate manner.

....... This includes those many small minded people that just cannot comprehend that criticizing or pointing out any unflattering aspect of some group, such as say Jews or African Americans, necessarily implies a prejudiced hatred of that group. Such small minded people can't understand this because that is the way their minds work. Their cognitive models contain malformed logical models which tend to apply judgments of any characteristic of a class to the entire class. As a result, overly broad classes of objects populate and black white, good bad world where there are none of the shades of grey found in superior interactions with reality.

....... As with all reasoned discussions it is vitally important to clearly and precisely and explicitly define the concepts one is theorizing about. Most if not all intellectual arguments are simply over definitions, the attempts to place different logical structural frameworks over the same reality, to map divergent mind models of reality onto actual reality, and to then insist on viewing and conceptualizing that reality through the cells of those different intellectual networks and to argue over why the relationships between each view's cells are different! rather than to recognize and clarify their underlying conceptual frameworks and attempt to map them onto one another and determine which might be superior for mapping reality.

....... It is usually personal prejudices and desires and attachments, one's personal programing and agenda, that cloud the whole intellectual process by starting with a personal set of premises (often unrecognized) rather than the best ones to address the actual situation in hand.

....... People become upset and angry when they 'take it personally', that is when instead of considering the argument in itself to rationally come to the best conclusion, they invest themselves in defending a forgone conclusion, the defense of which they consider to be essential to some aspect of themselves. In spite of these obstacles, much can be done to reach agreement on reasonable actions to reach desired goals. In practice however it is rare to have a clear level-headed argument about almost anything at all, as most people have strongly held opinions about almost everything. This unfortunate attitude is a major impediment to reaching agreement on actions to optimize the future of the Earth.

....... Indeed, the question of why people have such huge emotional investment in abstract questions which often have no actual direct bearing on their lives is an interesting and important EP issue. My belief is that is because it challenges the foundations of their programmed world views which are constructed ideologically in such a way that the beliefs are strongly misconnected, so that it seems to them that if they were to admit the falsity of that one view their whole programmed view of the world would come tumbling down with it. This of course is a false world view in which the connections of their cognitive models of the world have been miswired. In fact the admission of such single falsehoods would have a salutary effect as it would eventually enable a more flexible realistic and thus more functional and successful cognitive model of the world.

....... This is the typical irrational response of the programmed mind that so strongly interlocks all of a person's programmed prejudices that they fear the fall of one threatens all others. It is impossible for such a mind to simply consider any particular issue objectively because in their mind it is inextricably linked to all other issues that form their core belief system.

....... One of the best current examples is the total rejection of the overwhelming evidence for human produced global warming because in the minds of the conservative right it is inextricably linked with Al Gore. Thus climate change skeptics unconsciously reject climate change because to accept it would to them mean they had also to accept Al Gore and liberal democracy which would be anathema and destroy their core beliefs.

....... This in fact is why it is so easy for the mindless US populace to be swayed by special interest propaganda. It needs only associate say health care reform with conservative red flag words like socialism or killing grandma or abortions to have them slavering and reaching for their guns. Doesn't matter what the actual facts are, it's all in the ideological associations. America is mired in irrationality and deserves what it gets!

....... Releasing one's attachments, one's cognitive programming, is a time honored method for spiritual progress. The facility to correct beliefs falsified by evidence is an essential step in this process.

....... Irrational thinking is often easy to spot by even the least trained mind. Whenever the irrational thinker is presented with facts that falsify their nonsense they often never even address them, preferring instead to launch a hateful adolescent attempt at a put down, as if that would make the facts go away.

....... Perhaps the most intractable form of logical fallacy is arguing from unsubstantiated assumptions. These often involve religious dogma, nationalist or ethnic prejudices or other programmed modes of thought. These must eventually be overcome by proper education, and re-education and deprogramming of adults. This often involves simply ignoring any contrary evidence.

....... Methods of improving logical conclusions. First and most important is to recognize that an accurate result is to be preferred rather than one that may be desired. Second is the clear recognition and statement of the the principles one is assuming. Third the consideration of all reasonable alternatives which are logically sound, efficient and effective. Efficient in the use of resources, and effective in producing the desired results.

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....... It must be understood that there is no essential distinction between science and the common organismic methodology of correctly understanding the world. They are both based on exactly the same logical methodology, it is only the fields of application that differ. So the analysis of how to understand reality applies to both and incorporates and unifies both.

....... A premise or hypothesis is a potential fact or theory subject to evaluation and testing as to its accuracy. When premises and hypotheses are confirmed to some degree they gradually gain credibility and are more and more accepted as fact and truth. Hopefully beliefs are the results though beliefs are often unestablished ideas accepted on the bases of conformity with early ideological programming.

....... Science consists of theories which must be verified by measurements. All measurements are inherently subject to some degree of imprecision. Thus all scientific theories, whether Newtonian or Einsteinian are only known to be true with some some degree of accuracy or other. Relativity is simple known to be accurate to a greater degree of precision than Newtonian physics. It is quite possible that relativity will be found inaccurate at say the quantum level where it cannot yet be measured with precision. The theories are completely different, it is only the results of Newtonian physical measurements of some variables which approximate Einstein's. It is the measurements as opposed to the theoretical framework. So one must say about any theory that it is known to be accurate to some x degree of precision since that is all we can verify.

....... There is a standard theory of significant digits that addresses all this. 100 mm is not properly taken as 100 with an infinite number of zeros after it. The proper meaning of 100 mm in scientific notation is 100 mm +- 0.5 mm. The number of significant digits indicates the degree of precision to which the measurement is reasonably certain. They must actually be written out to be significant.

....... It doesn't matter how any individual scientists consider it. The proper way is the way above. Individual scientists are often remarkably ignorant about the underlying logical structure of scientific method, which is more accurately addressed by the philosophy of science, which many working scientists denigrate to their own loss.

....... One single counter example would prove relativity wrong because relativity is a universal theory. That is because all masses behave the same relative to it. All electrons are exactly alike, therefore a single counter example to electron behavior theory would invalidate that theory.

....... On the other hand humans are not all exactly alike, the logical definition of a human is inherently fuzzy. Some human properties may be common to all members of the set of humans but many are not. One needs to distinguish clearly.

....... E.g. if one claims human infants have an instinctual fear of snakes, that smacks of an absolute universal since we naturally assume that the basic human instincts are what make us human and should be common to all, so one, or better a few, good counter examples will falsify that theory. On the other hand, humans are well known to be able to retain their essential humanness without arms or legs, so finding a human without a leg would not mean it wasn't human because we would not have been so foolish to claim all humans must have legs to be human in the first place. That universal is trivially disproved.

....... It's is just a matter of common sense and thinking things through. Physical theories are generally universal since they apply to precisely defined entities while social theories are at best probabilistic since they apply to set properties which are not often properties of every member of a set, and are often properties to different degrees. ....... A single counter example can prove a universal statement wrong, but the fact that nearly every member of a set has some characteristic enables us to validly state that most members of that set have that characteristic, or that that characteristic is common to the set. It is the difference between all some and most in logic. The standard universal and existential quantifiers in standard logic don't encompass these subtleties of probability.


* * *


....... Intelligence is best understood as functional intelligence, the ability of any organism to solve real world problems in its environment. The IQ test scale measures only a very specific and minimal aspect of what functional intelligence really is. The real scale not passing an IQ test but is evolutionary success after the influence of purely physical body design is controlled for. What is left is the ability of any species to solve real world problems in its environment. That is what intelligence actually is from an EP perspective and this perspective leads to a number of interesting corollaries.

....... For example it is quite clear that a Ph.D. who smokes and is obese is not actually very intelligent. Even though he may be intelligent in the sense of competently solving problems in his academic discipline he is not effectively solving even the simplest and most important problems in the real world. IQ obviously can have little to do with functional intelligence.

....... My father used to continually emphasize that intelligence was real world by sometimes telling me either I passed or flunked my intelligence test with reference to problems I encountered in daily life.

....... A very interesting question is what does the common belief actually mean that 'IQ tests reliably measure intelligence'? If IQ tests are in fact the only measure of intelligence, and there is no confirmatory measure, the statement seems circular and meaningless. The fact that IQ tests are somewhat repeatable within a considerable margin of error hardly suffices to make the case.

....... IQ tests certainly measure something and that something may be labeled intelligence by some but the connection to the kind of evolved intelligence of organisms to effectively function in their environments is very tenuous at best.

....... The truth is that all we can really say is that IQ tests measure one's ability to score on IQ tests. The whole process is circular and the test in fact simply defines what it purports to measure.....

....... I scored 149 on the last intelligence test I took but I know that was due primarily to having considerable experience with logical thinking and the meaning of words which is what IQ tests measure. The ability to survive in various harsh environments, the more important meaning of intelligence, I'd probably do less well at.

....... IQ and other aspects of intelligence can be practiced and improved along with other cognitive functions. It can also decline if it isn't kept up and one just watches soaps and advertisements night after night.

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....... Both crying and laughing are primarily human, though there are analogues in chimps especially of laughing. Thus we must assume they are related to the much greater importance that the concept of self plays in humans than it does in other animals and the human capacity to be much more aware of processes in its own mind as things taking place in the mind rather than in the world. It seems then that particular aspects of the processing of this higher order awareness of processing, such as sudden absurdities for laughing, and inescapable negative dead ends (even if temporary) for crying is the answer. These are not perceived as phenomena of thought but of phenomena of being in the world in most animals. Thus the response is unique to humans when it occurs at that level.

....... This explains the function. Why these mental phenomena express in the particular ways they do is I think more of a physiological question re how the brain connects to the body.

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....... Sleep obviously occurs so that rest and recuperation of bodily systems can take place, both somatic and mental. The intermittent loss of consciousness (it is present in REM) indicates that the neural system that which produces it also must rest and recuperate lest it burn itself out with overuse. I don't think there is anything particularly mysterious about that though what those actual neural systems are, how they lose function with extended use and how the recuperation takes place are obviously questions that require answers. This is very simply what our body tells us every time we get sleepy.

....... Humans and at least some animals seem to sleep very differently though it seems that all creatures must sleep. Cetaceans must rise continually to breathe and seem to sleep on one side of the brain at a time to facilitate that. I observe that my ducks sleep with an eye opening every few seconds to check for danger, while for humans this would be impossible. There is some evidence that some birds sleep on the wing, though this must be a partial sleep. Then again lions and dogs seem to sleep most of the time. A Cornish man claims he has broken the world record for sleep deprivation by staying awake for 11 days and nights.

....... So the initial question is to understand what sleep actually which is difficult as it appears to be quite different in different species. Clearly though it is the periodic deactivation of particular systems within the brain. The next question is why is it necessary and what function does it serve?

....... Then there is the question of dreams, what are they and what function to they serve?

....... Schizophrenia, which is categorized by imaginings that may be related to abnormal activation of a dreaming state.