ANS52(2)86-95 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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Activitas Nervosa Superior 2010; 52 :1,86-95 86 I MPLICATIONS OF A F UNDAMENTAL C ONSCIOUSNESS Copthorne Macdonald* Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, C1A 8C5 Canada Received June 22, 2010; accepted June 27, 2010 Abstract The author postulates a universe in which mentality is as fundamental as physicality, explores the implications of that, and presents hypotheses concerning the evolution and functioning of human cognitive systems in such an environment. Of the several interpretations of reality which consider the physical and the mental to be equally real and equally funda- mental, two compatible interpretations are discussed in detail. These are Ervin Laszlo's biperspectival system theory, and an elaboration of the perennial philosophy view which incorporates the concepts of algorithm, information, informational modulation, and evolution. In this latter view, reality comprises an enduring protophysical, protomental medium mod- ulated by transient informational patterns. Chance-and-necessity evolution, guided by intrinsic "laws-of-nature" algo- rithms, produces systems that may be non-functional, physically functional, or physically and mentally functional. Given such a reality, the author concludes that human mentality evolved in bottom-up fashion, with mind-associated neuronal systems not so much creating mind as organizing a pre-existing propensity for awareness into useful, functional aware- ness, and providing for its modulation by useful information. The author hypothesizes that discrete, localized occurrences of awareness accompany the functioning of relatively simple neuronal systems within the columnar structure of the brain's sensory cortex, and that each of these systems information- ally modulates its associated awareness to create an elemental quale. Together, the awareness elements of a given sensory modality constitute a subjective field which, through brain activity not yet fully understood, becomes topologically re- lated to the body image. The several superposed fields simulate a unified, multi-modal consciousness and constitute a global workspace. Selective attention to the qualia in these superposed fields activates neural correlates which facilitate situation evaluation and decision making. Key words: Brain; Consciousness; Physics; Qualia INTRODUCTION As we assess progress on solving the "hard problem" in consciousness studies, certain contributions of David Chalmers and Bernard Baars seem particularly signifi- cant. In his recent writings, Chalmers has resurrected the call of earlier writers (e.g., Russell, 1921; Laszlo, 1972a) to break with the physicalist view of reality. Chalmers (1995a) proposed "that conscious experience be considered a fundamental feature, irreducible to any- thing more basic," and suggested (1996) that perhaps some form of constrained double-aspect theory is ap- propriate. Baars' contribution (1988, 1997a, b) is a comprehensive "global workspace" model of cognitive functioning based on observed psychological and neuro-
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ANS52(2)86-95 - ACTIVITAS NERVOSA SUPERIOR Activitas...

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