15 April 2012

Where be your quiddities now?

This is the heart of phenomenal experience: any one conscious experience is both highly differentiated from any other one but also unitary, holistic. The larger the phi, the richer the conscious experience of that system. Furthermore, the theory assigns any state of any network of causally interacting parts (these neurons are firing, those ones are quiet) to a shape in a high-dimensional space. The shape (think of it as a crystal in a fantastically high-dimensional space) accounts for the peculiar feel of any one conscious experience. If the network switches into a different state - you fantasise about sex rather than listen to a droning speaker - the crystalline shape changes as well.

This crystal is the system viewed from within. It is the voice in the head, the light inside the skull. It is everything you will ever know of the world. It is your only reality. It is the quiddity of experience. The dream of the lotus-eater, the mindfulness of the meditating monk, the agony of the cancer patient, all feel as they do because of the shape of the distinct crystals in a space of a trillion dimensions.
-- Christof Koch

Landscape of The Moon's Last Phase 1943 by Paul Nash

P.S. But is it the case that consciousness always only exists ultimately in relation to an external object? As Riccardo Manzotti tells Tim Parks, 'consciousness is spread between sunlight, raindrops, and visual cortex, creating a unique, transitory new whole, the rainbow experience.'

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