Transpersonal Theory & the Astrological Mandala: An Evolutionary Model by Gerry Goddard
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ReVisioning the Mind-Body 'Problem'


Addressing the Mind-Body "Problem":
A Critique of Wilber’s Left and Right Quadrants with Reference to the Mind/Matter Relation:
Holonic logic: A Critique of Panpsychism: Consciousness and Energy: Summary



Beyond providing a map of the deep structures of consciousness informing individual and collective development, any adequate new paradigm model of the nature of consciousness must be able to offer a coherent account of the ontological relation of the natural cosmos with consciousness. In terms of the model presented in Chapter 19, at the noospheric level we may speak—or get away with speaking—simply of the development of consciousness as mind (i.e. the dialectical interplay of consciousness and unconsciousness). But this already assumes the sensing, feeling, reacting animal body and the neurological hardwiring of the homosapien brain, which at the outset of the noospheric level possesses the potentials for advanced language and self-reflexivity. In using the term consciousness on its own we are employing a sort of shorthand since the term includes, or at least rests upon, some sort of concept of cosmos such as energy/bio-matter as well as assuming the relativistic time-space situated subject/object and self/other relations from the cellular level upward. Even though we may recognize biological developments as driven by a creative self-transcending elan vital a la Bergson or drawn by the telos of increasing consciousness a la Teilhard, level B cannot be explained simply as a development of consciousness. Rather, it must be explained as the self-organizing complexification of the bio-physical structures of the nervous system, and at stage-level B2, the brain; that is, as the whole dimension of physical and instinctual organism-environment relations which includes the growth of sensation, drive and emotion, and ultimately (by 12/6 level B2) the emergence of simple thought. But at foundational level C, though driven by some creative impulse yet in disagreement with the docrine of panpsychism or panexperientialism1, I maintain that we simply cannot speak of consciousness at all, not even of unconsciousness, for consciousness and unconsciousness are, like the ebb and flow of the tides, logically entwined at the same level.

Although a realist model (i.e. the conviction of a dimension which, rather than a pure construct of mind, exists ontologically prior to animal and human minds), the model presented in chapter 19 is, nevertheless, a non-materialist model. It recognizes that the cosmos, constituted (from the point of view of physics which stands in a developed subject/object relationship with level C) by elementary particles, atoms, galaxies, stars and planets, has been around temporally prior to the advent of biological life and anything we are generally prepared to call prototypical experience. Yet in being precisely what it is in its essential time-space dimensionality and in precisely the way it unfolds, level C, as a fundamental evolutionary stage-structure, provides the original (and continuing) necessary, but not sufficient, foundation for organic life and consciousness. As implied by astrology, it is at level C that the motions of the planets are in place in accordance with the archetypal dynamics which constitute the ontological parameters of the subsequent evolution of organic life and mind—the anthropic principle understood in both a quantitative and qualitative sense. From the transpersonal perspective, and especially from the astrological perspective, the scientific account of level C legitimately captures one facet of its full ontology as revealed through the subject/object relation of level N to level C. A realistic paradigm holds that the existence of Level C is not a function of our awareness but a fundamental real condition for that awareness in the first place. But within such a realistic paradigm, to begin to express the full nature of level C, we cannot be satisfied with a strictly quantitative and inevitably partial description. We require other epistemic and interpretive modes of relating to level C.

In formulating our overarching model of consciousness, one fundamental holonic polarity has remained implicit and undifferentiated in our account. Through his four-quadrant model Wilber makes the claim that the traditionally problematic mind/brain relationship and the traditional difference between experience and the ‘things’or situations that are being experienced can be properly mapped, not as consciousness or experience arising from the material brain at higher biospheric levels as in materialist conceptions, or apparently emerging beyond it as in our model, but in terms of the same bi-polar or Janus-faced holonic logic that maps the relation of individual and collective. The ontological nature of the mind-matter relation logically implied by Wilber's four-quadrant holonic model (for readers unfamiliar with the elements of Wilber's 4-Quadrant model, see FIGURE 1 ) is that of panpsychism or panexperientialism in which subjectivity or experience along with objectivity goes 'all the way down' to the Big Bang. Mind, in some prototypical shadowy form, is seen as constitutive of the very cosmic particulate foundations, a metaphysical view extensively articulated by Alfred North Whitehead and further developed by Charles Hartshorne, David Ray Griffin, Ken Wilber and Christian DeQuincey. I question this view insofar as its seeks to drive experience down beyond living cells to atoms and subatomic particles. Instead, I will offer what I feel is a more adequate view suggested by the astrological infrastructure. But before critiquing Wilber's modelling of the subjectivity/objectivity distinction, I want to touch on the traditional mind-body problem so we can better see how, in comparison with the astro-transpersonal model, Wilber's holonic logic addresses the issue in terms of a transpersonal conception of 'cosmos and psyche'.

Addressing the Mind-Body "Problem"

As it is currently framed, the mind-body problem exists as a problem rather than as an ongoing metaphysical challenge. It is indeed a problem to those who are convinced that science, successful enough at the level of physics, offers us a description of the world that is, if only in principle, ontologically complete. The commitment to science as providing the fundamental ontology of the universe (a universe which includes living forms) is evident not only among materialist eliminativists and reductionists (those who blatantly deny that consciousness exists at all, or who in effect deny its existence by reducing it to what it is not) such as Daniel Dennett and the Churchlands, but also among those who recognize that consciousness is a real and essentially nonreducible feature of the universe—among them, David Chalmers, John Searle, Thomas Nagel, Colin McGinn and Galen Strawson. The implicit and unquestioned assumption in all these emphatically naturalistic positions is that in science's historical account of the universe, since consciousness arose after the original and non-conscious 'stuff', consciousness must therefore be derivative of the stuffi.e. ontologically secondary to the stuff. This a priori assumption is not only that the fundamental ontology of the universe (i.e. our level C) is material or physical, but that it must provide both the necessary and sufficient conditions for the later generation of consciousness (at our sensory-image level B and conceptual-linguistic level N).

But can science in itself be said to be even logically capable of providing us with an ontology adequate to account for human experience? Are we compelled by the available scientific evidence to accept a materialist ontology? Actually there is no ontology imbedded in science which is actually a methodology (largely successful within its own parameters) without a clear philosophical foundation (and from the 6/12 perspective, unlikely to find one). There is no ontology, justified by the application of objective methodological processes for acquiring evidence constituting science, that compels us to accept science’s metaphysical assumptions. In fact, if the materialist ontology is argued to be the logical implication of the nature of things as revealed by science, then science is being implicitly assumed to be the only valid mode of 'knowledge' directly arising from human experience. But such a claim contains an implicit judgment concerning the logical structure of human epistemology; one which I believe, is logically untenable; I am referring here to the first/third person epistemological structure.

There is a fundamental logic that both relates and distingushes the third person and the first person perspective: the third person—observing the object; the first person—the observing subject. We cannot logically separate one from the other. But the epistemology which underlies science privileges, not only the subject/object epistemology (see chapter 21 on pluralistic epistemology) but specifically, the third person perspective. Ordinary consciousness is always consciousness of something. Science is concerned with the investigation of the 'something', the object. The means of the investigation of the something is the 'consciousness' part—the first person perspective. In choosing the third person perspective as the more veridical, science or physicalist philosophy logically presupposes (without taking account of it) the first person perspective. But this is a self-undermining position. If the 'something' which is being investigated is taken to be the most veridical and ontologically prior part (i.e. the physical pre-living cosmos) , it must be the case that 'consciousness' is taken as a reliable and authoritative mode of knowing. In that case we cannot argue that the first person consciousness is a secondary mode which is contaminated, limited, or constrained by its being merely a derivative and causally ineffectual epiphenomenon. To try to explain 'consciousness' strictly in terms of the 'something'—the object being investigated—is then to undercut and devalue the very means by which one unmistakably decided on the veridical nature of the 'something' in the first place. Implied here is that the objectifying scientific approach is logically incomplete; it engages only one pole of the fundamental bi-polar logic of the human subject/object epistemology. Science approaches the world from the third person objectifying perspective, using the first person as a tool, but it does not incorporate the first person perspective into its account. This is not to criticize science as a valid way of knowing certain aspects of the universe; in fact it is the only way of knowing time-space dynamic structure at level C. Nevertheless, science does begin to betray its explanatory and descriptive limitations through biological level B, becoming woefully inadequate through psycho-social level N. The problem is not with science, but rather arises with scientistic philosophy as it seeks to explain the whole which lies beyond the purview of the scientific method per se.

Basically, current formulations of the mind-body problem are betraying the impossibility of deriving one logical pole from the other pole. This is not merely difficult, in the sense of Chalmer’s 'hard problem', it is logically incoherent. Hence, in its essential logical shape, physicalism’s conception of 'prior' reality is confined to an abstracted third-person world—abstracting the third person from the epistemological and logical pair, the integral first/third person perspective. It is specifically at the level of quantum space where the scientist comes up against the scientific path's inevitable constriction to the objective epistemology. Here the holonic paradox is revealed through the wave/particle nature of light and the observer's participation in the collapse of the quantum wave function. The observer must be mapped back into the system because the observer is the system, yet at the same time something more than the domain s/he is examining.

Basic to the materialist hypothesis are two dogmas:

(1) The claim that the level identified by physics is simply and radically not-mind, containing not a hair of what might be termed consciousness, the seed of consciousness or anything smacking of a formative cosmic intelligence or final causes.

(2) The claim that this material and objective ontology (currently understood as physical energy fields 'in' relativistic time-space) is the sole explanatory principle of all that is and ever may come to be.

Having already excluded sensory qualities from the one explanatory domain, the sudden appearance, not simply of new quantitative and objective patterns, but of a new ontology—a qualitative or subjective ontology—is impossible; that is to say, it is logically impossible. The 'hard problem' is more like a reductio ad absurdum (i.e. following the premises leads to an absurdity) which demonstrates that at least one of these dogmas is untrue. What I am saying here is that we are compelled to either posit some proto-mental factor in direct answer to dogma (1) as in panpsychism or panexperientialism; or failing that, admit in answer to dogma (2), that the universe is such that we do not have to explain everything, even an emergent and new ontology (i.e. consciousness), in terms of what is so at the level of physics.

Now since the ‘problem’ of how nonreducible consciousness (and mind) is generated by the strictly material brain is nonsensical, we are not called to come up with something that solves the problem. We are not compelled to come up with a solution to a pseudo problem. But we are still compelled to analyze and articulate the conditions which gave rise to the problem in the first place. We are also obliged to make our alternative epistemological and ontological accounts of the nature of things coherent, free of logical contradiction, criticized by peers etc. The mind-body 'problem' is a problem to those cited authors because they are trying to derive mind or experience from a scientifically conceived cosmos which has no mind at the beginning, a beginning which must contain, at least in potential, the seed of any later emergent property, such as experience. These thinkers are united in the a priori rejection of views which smack of dualism, idealism, or transcendental concepts. These philosopher's are bound to naturalistic physicalism, but in good faith cannot deny the fact that something exists that is constituted by a subjective ontology. Despite Searle who simply asserts that experience is just another natural emergent property and who thereby believes (but falsely) that he has offered a solution to the mind/body problem, there seems no way to derive a subjective ontology from a purely objective and physicalist ontology—no way of even understanding, in fact, what that really means.

Dogma 2 of the naturalistic position is that what comes after must necessarily be explained in terms of what is identifiably (by science) present at the beginning. According to these dogmas everything which eventually emerges must be implicit or potential within the original condition defined solely in terms of quantitative insentient space-time. But while the ground (time-space physics) is a necessary condition for conscious forms, there is nothing which dictates a priori that that which is temporally first and even holarchically foundational must provide a sufficient condition for that which appears later. In a developmental model of evolution, nobody will say that the mature butterfly is any less real than, or simply an epiphenomenon of the caterpiller. The building of a basement constrains the general size and overall shape of the superstructure, but it does little to tell us anything of the exact nature of the superstructure. Metaphorically speaking, naturalism and physicalism look to the basement and seek to understand the superstructure as a property of the basement rather than to the general plans which precede it. The implicit assumption is that mind must be a property of matter/energy. First the substance is established; then the properties that characterize that substance emerge.

A Critique of Wilber’s Left and Right Quadrants with Reference to the Mind/Matter Relation

The 'Four-Quadrant model' situates experience on the Left and correlative observable structures on the Right such as organismic structure, brain states and behaviour. Apparently, Wilber draws objective stuff and publically observable processes on the Right all the way down to atoms and elementary 'particles', and subjective experience on the Left all the way down: objective exteriors on the Right all the way down, subjective interiors on the Left all the way down. In fact, Wilber’s model looks most inelegant and even illogical if we continue the right hand “stuff” or energy quadrants (the Right interpreted to denote the real object) down to the Big Bang, yet chop the left hand quadrants off at Gaia.

If indeed this is what Wilber is saying—experience on the Left, stuff on the Right—then he adopts (actually in contradiction with his overarching Neoplatonic and Idealist/Emanation cosmology), a particular realist and essentially naturalistic even though non-materialist account of the mind/body or mind/matter relation called panpsychism or panexperientialism. Without the Left quadrants going all the way down, the whole experience/matter or mind/brain question would be unanswered by this model. Hence his Left/Right mapping logically demands a panpsychist account of the mind/matter relation. Panexperientialism, most adequately articulated by Whitehead and Hartshorne, and contemporarily by Griffin and De Quincey, was developed as an alternative to both materialist and idealist accounts of the mind/matter relation and was meant to answer the problem as to how a thoroughly spatial/physical cosmos could have ever given arise to consciousness, that is, even though new properties of matter such as liquidity emerge through higher levels of complexity. But how can an entirely different ontology, a subjective ontology, emerge from a strictly objective ontology? In answer, panexperientialism asserts that even atoms and subatomic 'particles' possess an elemental spark of experience, that some elemental feeling tone is somehow inherent at the foundations of things, at the very beginning of things where 'things' are not yet things and minds are not yet minds.

But the mind/body 'problem' to which the panexperiental map is a response, arises out of a strictly scientific, naturalistic, and materialistic account of the nature of things which rests on the paradigm that the universe (fundamentally our Level C) is causa sui; namely, that there can be nothing ontologically prior to it. Of course, if the universe is seen as arising in some way from an Implicate order or an Ultimate Ground as it does in terms of our present transpersonal and astrological paradigm, then some sort of Spirit or Cosmic Intelligence (archetypal pattern and telos) is indeed inherent at all levels. But it may not make sense, nor be necessary, to posit that atoms (taking them to be on a lower level of the linear vertical 'individual' category) possess a shadow of experience and intentionality, albeit unconscious (Whitehead's unconscious experience or prehension). Instead, we need a coherent account or story of a teleological universe which includes or interfaces with the transpersonal dimensions as well as accounting for the phenomenon of astrological synchrony. And, to criticize Wilber's formulation in particular, I believe that the panexperientialist account is not consistent with either pure Idealism or Neoplatonic emanation.

Christian DeQuincey has spoken explicitly of an inner/outer relation where the interior of any processive entity is experience while the exterior is energy all the way down. In terms of Wilber's Four-Quadrant model, this would put the spatial or energy-field infrastructure on the Right side of the holonic divide and perception on the Left side all the way up and down. Thus, what we call mind or experience and what we call matter or energy are, allegedly, both equally real all the way up and down. So if indeed Wilber's mapping of Left and Right quadrants shows experience on the Left and the objective stuff/process that is being experienced on the Right, then the question arises, 'Does this give us a special purchase on the nature of the relation of any experience to its correlative brain state or are we simply being given a map showing the correlations of experiences on the one hand with brain states, proto-sensations and cellular activities on the other?' We already know that mental activity and brain activity are correlated—the question is, how? How does Wilber's mapping answer the old philosophical problem as to the nature of the real object—i.e. body, brain etc—in relation to the nature of our experience of the object? In other words, is Wilber’s Right intended to signify the real object—a scientific realist assumption—or is it perhaps intended to signify only the experience of the object (third person)? If the Right is meant to denote the real object, then Wilber's model assumes a naïve realism where things are taken as objectively existing just as they are experienced, which is clearly unsatisfactory. Interpreting Wilber's Right in this way does not get us beyond the ordinary Cartesian subject/object relation with its accompanying philosophical problems. But on the other hand, if the Right is meant to signify the experience of the object, then experience actually lies on both sides of the Left/Right holonic divide. That is, this holonic relation would show only the bifurcation in the private and public facets of any one person’s experience and would, of itself, fail to give us a purchase on either the mind-brain relation or the experience/object relation; it would only map the distinction between experience of the so-called 'public world' and experience of the so-called 'private world', the domain of experience of any particular person.

Further to this, it seems that Wilber requires his objectivity on the Right to do double duty—to signify both the brain state correlative with a particular experiential event and the perceivable object world as a whole. It is true that the brain state is one aspect of that general object world but it is a special and essential aspect of it in terms of its spatial perspectivally constitutive relationship to the experience attributed to the ‘possessor’ of said brain. On the one hand, the right-hand objective world apparently signifies how a person A’s experience shows up as a correlative brain state of A. On the other hand, it is called to signify the objective world of which A is aware of just like every other holon. The relationship of perceiver to perceived, subject to object, must be a different sort of thing to the relationship of a person's experience to the brain state with which it is correlated. Wilber’s Left and Right quadrants cannot at once signify the first and third person perspectives of any one holon or person and at the same time map the experience/brain relationship. In other words, we cannot evoke the same logic to describe the epistemic relation of observer and observed as is being evoked to describe the relationship of thought and its correlative brain state. This is a serious incoherency in Wilber’s model if we interpret it in this way. There are indeed some logical difficulties with Wilber’s model, but I believe that we can iron out some of the incoherences to present a more adequate account of the mind/body relation from an holonic perspective which is consistent with the astrological mandala. But to make holonic sense of this we need to unpack the implicit assumption built into Wilber’s map, an assumption which he has not adequately articulated. His account implicitly assumes but does not map the epistemic relation which comes to constitute the phenomenal field which reveals the private and public domains.

Holonic Logic

At this point, it is necessary to clarify what a holon is; that is, to clarify the nature of holonic logic. A holon is not an objective real something which can be characterized as possessing an inside and an outside. Rather, any holonic entity is an inside/outside solely by virtue of its epistemic relation to another holonic entity or experiencer (at its own level or a higher level structure which includes that level). A holon may be defined as that peculiar Janus-faced or bi-polar tendency of any 'thing' or 'entity' to show up one way when viewed from one point of view and in a complementary way when 'viewed' from a polar opposite point of view? This bi-polar logic certainly applies to the part/whole vertical strata of the hierarchical structure and to the individual/social quadrant relation; but how does this same logic apply to Wilber’s Left and Right quadrant relation, as it should if the two bi-poles are to be cross-related? We know that Wilber's Upper and Lower quadrants (individual and social) and the different structure levels (atoms in molecules in cells etc.) are both articulated through the third person perspective, simply as the different and bi-polar ways that any (and every) one of us looks at things. But Left and Right signify a polarity which is more complex. Subjectivity and objectivity—that which Wilber terms the I and the it—is a product of both the first and third person perspectives. But this cannot refer to the first and third person perspectives of any one organism or human alone in perceptual relation to any object. For example, I am looking out of my window at the garden, trees and birds. I can frame this as a picture of the world which any sighted person can similarly perceive if they seat themselves down in my spot at this time. Alternately, I can frame this garden picture as my experience, that is, it is as much my experience as is the pain in my knee or the thoughts in my mind which do not disclose a public world. But if these two ways of understanding the experience of any one person or organism were what Wilber means by his Left and Right, then his Left and Right would tell us nothing about the experience-brain relation of any one person since it only references the two ways we tend (in the modern world) to think of experience—what it is “in itself” and the real world it allegedly discloses. If Left and Right is going to tell us something about the mind-brain relation (as Wilber himself claims that it does) then to the Left we would naturally need to assign my experience of the garden (whether or not I am interpreting it as disclosing an objective garden or as my experience) and on the Right we would assign the inevitably correlative processes going on in my brain—my brain process being precisely how I 'show up' to the 'other' who is observing me (that is, observing my brain) as an object.

When we encounter an organism or a person, we are directly aware of his or her objectivity (body, brain, behaviour) but we are not aware in the same way of his or her subjectivity. We cannot just flip the coin the way we do when we look at people as individuals qua individuals, and then at those same individuals as a group—the Upper/Lower, individual/social quadrant relation. But as we look at another holon (person)—necessarily as an object (although there is also a human subject/subject relation)—we take the third person perspective. Then we become aware of ourselves as having an experience of the other where phenomenologically our experience of the other and the existence of the other as object are the same thing as seen from the bi-polar holonic first-third person perspective. Objectness is a particular relationship and not an independent thing-in-itself.

In order to preserve a holonic character and avoid Cartesianism, both Wilber’s Left and Right must signify the domain of experience disclosing the public world on the one hand, and the domain of experiencing signifying the private world on the other. But this distinction between two domains of experience, a bifurcation in the manifold of experience disclosing public and private ’worlds’, a bifurcation which historically and mistakenly gave rise to the Cartesian subject/object split in the first place, is not holonic (i.e. bi-polar). Nevertheless, we can still map the true holonic relation as follows: On one side of the holonic divide we situate the full domain of experience which includes both ‘private’ and ‘public’ modes of experience—‘thought trees’ and ‘looking at real trees’. We will call this our LEFT. On the other side we situate the correlative body/brain/behaviour state of the perceiving personwe will call this our RIGHT. But for this to make sense, this division must be mapped in terms of a mutual perceptual interactivity of persons, for the RIGHT does not exist except as the object of the other’s perception, and similarly, the LEFT cannot exist in the absence of the other. But this does not collapse back into Berkeley’s hyper subjective esse est percipi.

Relevant here is a quote from Max Velmans from "The Relation of Consciousness to the Material World". Velmans describes a situation where person E, through an experimental arrangement, observes the brain of a subject S focusing his attention on a cat:

While the subject focuses on the cat his phenomenal world includes the cat. It is fashionable (at present) to think of E's 'observations' (of the subject's brain) as public and objective. S's 'experiences' of the cat, by contrast, are private and subjective. Indeed this radical difference in the status of E and S is enshrined in the different terminology applied to what they perceive; that is, E makes 'observations', whereas S merely has 'subjective experiences'. But suppose they turn their heads, so that E switches his attention to the cat, while S switches his attention to what is going on in E's brain. Now E is the 'subject' and S is the 'experimenter'. Following the same convention, S would now be entitled to think of his observations (of E's brain) as public and objective and to regard E's observations of the cat as private and subjective. But this would be absurd — as nothing has changed in the character of the observations of E and S other than the focus of attention. (p11)

Now, if we combine the Velmans observation above with the holonic perspective we get: Holon A's experience mapped as our LEFT is holonically bi-polar with the way that Holon A shows up necessarily in the public experiential domain of Holons B, C etc. The object shows up as the public domain of experience of the other holon—as the body/brain/behaviour of holon A. This new mapping of LEFT and RIGHT rests on an epistemic intersubjective relation not explicit in Wilber's model. In terms of holonic logic, experience is not holonically bi-polar with a real concrete object. See FIG 12


Wilber's Left and Right categories need to be modelled as a phenomenological map, a map of experience in epistemic relation involving two (or more) holons—not a map of consciousness/world with experience on the Left and world/stuff on the Right. It is the relationship of the two holons in two fundamental modes according to the foundational principles of agency and communion that will provide the complementary holonic or bi-polar categories that can properly be mapped orthogonally with the collective/individual polarity. But before we can map this feature we need to explain the epistemic relationship that constitutes the nature and difference between interiority and exteriority, mind and brain.

Wilber’s model is a bird's eye view abstraction which sets, in a correlative fashion, the language of the objective world simply alongside the language of experience. But this mapping does not give an answer to the mind/brain and mind/world relation except to note (though inadequately as said above) the obvious non-reductive correlation of experience and brain state. In our revised LEFT/RIGHT model, a person is not a mind, not a brain, not both a mind and brain, but a holonic mind/brain or mind/body by virtue of the epistemic relation to another holonic mind/body. What we have here is actually a map based on the mutual perceptual relationship of two holons (be it animals or persons). Each holon is mapped as a LEFT/RIGHT Janus-faced relation. The RIGHT is the objective experience from the perspective of the other which belongs on this other's LEFT—that is, on the Right hand facet of the LEFT(see diagram)! That which distinguishes RIGHT from LEFT is precisely, and nothing more than, the self/other relation. That which distinguishes the so-called realm of 'mind' from the so-called realm of 'world' is that A shows up as B's world and B shows up as A's world. The objective form of A is revealed as the subjective experience of B and vice versa.

Hence, it follows that the fundamental logical condition underlying experience is the relationship, not of a Cartesian subject to a Cartesian object, but of a holonic subject/object to a holonic subject/object where, in mutual subject/object epistemic relation, the objective form of the one is in some sense equivalent to the subjective form of the other. (But there is also a subject/subject relation which we will take into account.) No entity can be said to be a subject or an object in itself independent of relationship. In this view, subject and object, mind and matter can be seen to spring into existence in each moment of perceiving and being perceived. In terms of our multileveled model such perception is taking place, in different phenomenological ways, through biospheric and noospheric deep structures. In the human being, body-based sensation, my direct sensing of you, your body, your brain, refers most immediately to level B while my perceptual understanding of you, your behaviour, the complex processes of your brain is taking place at level N. The structural unity of body-environment perception (RIGHT) and 'internal' experience (LEFT), is a world of relationship without which experience and its worlds could not show up. Wilber's account of fundamental holonic structure necessarily implies that subjectivity/objectivity, interiority/exteriority, goes all the way down. While our co-enacted epistemic formulation appears also to do the same, I believe we are actually not compelled to drive experience down beyond the advent of life. In fact, the posit of a mutual epistemic interface at levels B and N necessarily implies a pre-epistemic reality of spatio-temporal field relations, precisely level C. But we are not compelled in this mapping to posit the experiential phenomena constituting levels B and N as simply epiphenomena supervenient on the primary qualities of the universe at level C.

It is necessary to understand Fig 12 as signifying the human level, and only in terms of the subject/object epistemology. The Division on our LEFT between the thought experience and sensory experience is not bi-polar or holonic since the sensory experience can and does exist before the thought experience—the left of the LEFT comes into existence only at level N, but the right of the LEFT comes into existence at level B. The epistemic sensory perceptual relation depicted in the diagram is really a diagram of level B dynamics through the subject/object mode of perception.

Wilber's Four quadrant model is not only a static picture which fails to show the complex developmental dynamics and processes, but more problematically, it mixes two different logical categories, thus presenting a false four-fold picture of holonic structure. As said, interior/exterior (or subjectivity/objectivity) as depicted by Wilber cannot stand in the same sort of bi-polar holonic relation as does individual and social. The dimension of sensory awareness which arises at level B cannot be depicted holonically on one side of a divide with the biophysical on the other. Fundamental to holonic logic is the observation that anything is both what it is in itself and what it is in relation to an other or others. More precisely, nothing exists apart from something else, so the thing, even when seen in its own terms, in its own structure, stands in relation to the other, to what it is not. So fundamentally and holonically, if we are going to map something like a four-quadrant model, we need to map on one side, the holonic relationship as distinct (call it EAST--i.e. the left-hand or Eastern hemisphere of the astrological mandala) while on the other side of the holonic divide, we need to map the relationship as connected pattern (call it WEST). Just as the Individual and Social categories are mapped all the way down—Individual/Social at level N; Organism/Environment at level B; Micro/Macro at level C—so too will these bi-polar factors necessarily go all the way down. Hence, at N we have the holonic relation as distinct (EAST) and the holonic relation as connected (WEST). So at level N on one side, EAST, we have the subject/object epistemology while on the other, WEST, we have the subject/subject epistemology. At level B, we have particular organismic sensory perception, EAST; species or group mind/instinct, WEST. At level C, we have differentiation, EAST and Integration/field, WEST.

There can be no epistemic categories at all without at least two holons standing in relation to one another. They stand in relation to each other in two fundamental and simultaneous ways that form an holonic relation (this is different from Whitehead/Griffin where the subject/object nature of any occasion occurs through time and is not simultaneous). In the first case they stand in relationship as two distinct individuals constituted by the mutual subject/object epistemic relation as above—an epistemic relation which favours agency over communion. At the same time they stand in relationship as two aspects of a single field, not a vertically higher level, for society or group mind does not stand higher than individual mind (as Wilber maintains)—this is the connective, resonant and immediate subject/subject relation. The fundamental holonic relation that can be mapped in the same logical sense as individual and social (that is, orthogonally) is precisely the subject/object distinctive relation on one side, EAST, and the subject/subject mutuality on the other, WEST. This logic is precisely the deep structure of the astro-transpersonal model.

Consequently, different epistemic categories which differentiate between inner and outer, mind and matter, subjectivity and objectivity are functions of these relations and are not fundamental to the holonic structure all the way down. As said, Wilber's model is forced to accept panexperientialism and drive mind all the way down to subatomic particles. Our model is not compelled to do so since epistemic categories are higher level functions of the holonic infrastructure, emerging through levels B and N. But this revised four-fold structure must not be seen in the same static structuralist sense as Wilber's model. The categories as stated here are to be taken up into the more processive and developmental astro-transpersonal model which pictures the cyclic rise and fall of agency and communion, subject/object and subject/subject—fundamental holonic principles applied to both individual and collective holons in dialectical interactivity through the evolutionary trajectory. But if I am willing to acknowledge a primal form of experience, a Whiteheadian prehensive ‘taking-into-account’, but only as far down as the advent of life, it remains to explain how experience, the conscious/unonscious manifold, emerges through levels B and N without being epiphenomenal and without reverting to Cartesianism. Before I can do that I want to offer certain reasons that mitigate against accepting the panexperientialist thesis all the way down to the subatomic realm.

A Critique of Panpsychism

In light of the problem as to how a subjective ontology can emerge from a radically objective ontology, panexperientialism suggests that the original prima materia must be something more than purely material and objective. It must be constituted not only by an objective but also by a subjective ontology the qualities of which must be present in some primordial form at the original cosmic level. There is in this view the contention that there is something wrong with projecting objectness, but not subjectness, all the way down, a contention in agreement with my argument concerning the epistemologically self-undermining stance of scientistic objectivism as it falsely separates the first and third person experiential perspective. Panexperientialism, particularly in its Whiteheadian formulation, recognizes that our concept of the object is formed through sensory experience, a mode of experience held by empiricists to be basic yet which is actually

a complex higher level mode of experience derivative of more primitive modes of experience. In this view our concept of the object is actually a high level abstraction projected downward, shaping and falsifying our understanding of the nature of fundamental particles as concrete entities having 'simple location'—Whitehead’s “fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” Further, because of our false conviction that the sensory mode is the fundamental mode of experience, we tend to dismiss the possibility of more primordial experiential forms such as Whitehead’s ‘perception in the mode of causal efficacy’, or unconscious prehension. Yet the panexperientialist move involves an inadvertent acceptance of the second dogma of materialism; namely, that everything that arises in development must be explained solely in terms of the original ontology and therefore must be embedded in some prototypical form in the original conditions. Rather than questioning the second dogma (with its radical reductionism), panexperientialism appears to accept it, feeling compelled to answer something which is actually unnecessary to answer.

Since transpersonalists such as Wilber and de Quincey are not constrained by naturalistic dogma 2, why do they feel obliged to counter dogma 1 with a counter-intuitive hypothesis of "slightly conscious or slightly intentional atoms"? (Actually, Wilber waffles on the idea of driving some sort of prototypical prehension all the way down but finally decides for it—"exteriors imply interiors"—and incorporates the panexperientialist view into his Four-Quadrant model. If he didn't drive his Left all the way down, his logically tight model would not only look peculiarly lopsided but would actually violate the very principle of holonic logic. Also, we would still be left with the problem of how to derive experience from original energy-matter). If dogma 2 is rejected, then at the very least it is logically possible that the initial appearance of the universe—the manifest level described mathematically by physics—is not the sufficient cause of all that arises later. Dogma 2 claims that what comes after must necessarily be explainable strictly and solely in terms of what is present at the temporal beginning, which in the case of an 'unfolding' universe may or may not be true. For example, even a naturalistic universe may be unfolding according to information (see Chalmers) such that the forms and material ontological substance at the beginning is only the first manifest phase of its development.

While the original manifest ground—the level of time-space physics—is a necessary condition, there is nothing which dictates a priori that that which is foundational must provide a sufficient condition for that which comes later or higher. Why do we believe a priori that only physics and only the basement is going to tell us the nature of the universe which is so more than the basement? Panexperientialists seem to want to explain the superstructure by locating the plans in the basement rather than, alternatively, seeing the plans as Source, giving rise first to the basement (as the necessary foundation without which there can be no superstructure), and then later on, to the superstructure. Once, we drop dogma 2, we are no longer forced to describe the original or primal level as providing both the necessary and sufficient conditions for that which occurs at higher and later levels as the panexperientialist hypothesis feels obliged to do. When we say the Universe unfolds (i.e. evolves) to reveal all domains and levels, the referent of 'Universe' cannot be the lowest level, some of the levels, or even all the levels since higher levels may yet arise. If the referent of 'the universe' is not restricted to the lowest level, then the lowest level does not have to contain all the potentials that later reveal themselves as actualities.

There is, then, no need to characterize this first level as 'subjective' as well as 'objective' since to call it objective in the first place is to abstract one pole from a logically inseparable polarity. The issue of whether experience, as unconscious prehension, can be applied to level C becomes a matter of sheer speculation, rather than being driven by a need to explain the emergence of experience. Transpersonal research itself discloses direct evidence against dogma 2; for example, OOBE'S, NDE's, and the Stevenson evidence for reincarnation all point to the conclusion that at death, as the compound body/brain decays back into its prebiotic level C constitutents, an essential component of consciousness apparently continues to exist in some form that is not reducible to the unconscious proto experience of subatomic particles. In light of this evidence, panexperientialism per se is entirely inadequate to explain the nature and origin of consciousness, and if we recognize the evidence above cited it becomes an overdetermined answer to the question. Nevertheless, my argument does not prove that there could not be some formulation that might be compelling; the dynamic and evolving cosmos of level C is certainly not a material and mechanistic universe but a creative one whose purpose is to play an essential role in bringing forth life and consciousness. For Whitehead, the nature of the energy of the cosmos recognized by science (our level C) is more deeply seen as creativity, and I am in agreement with this general description. Nevertheless, if we are going to posit anything that can be meaningfully referred to as experience at level C, surely the interior/exterior or experience/object (experience as prehension) would need to be distributed across both micro and macro domains rather than located in the individual line, solely in the prehensive occasion. To seat experience solely in the individual is to ontologically reduce the macro to the micro treating the macro incorrectly as either a compound (which would be vertical) or as a heap which it clearly is not (see chapter 19). Primordial mind would need to be located in both particle and field, in both micro and macro. Whitehead's particular account would need a radical revision.

A further criticism of panexperientialism concerns the issue of whether the posit of elementary experience at level C is adequate to explain the evolution of higher forms of experience and in particular whether it can adequately account for transcendent consciousness surviving the death of the body. If we ascribe to individuals at the bottom (e.g. Whitehead's 'occasions') a prototypical experience paralleling the sequence from atoms to molecules to cells in order to explain the existence of conscious experience in humans, we are positing consciousness as consisting of a certain level of complexity of the basic elements—an amplification process. But conceptual self-reflexivity is more than an amplification of simple sensation; so are values and meanings more than amplifications of simple instinctual drives. Each level is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the next higher level. While we can explain later phases of level B in terms of its earlier phases, and similarly with level N, we can no more explain level N as simply a complexification of biological sensation at level B, than we can explain cosmic consciousness (level T) as simply a complexification and amplification of level N. Positing proto-individual experience in level C cannot explain experience at levels B and N, let alone at T. Panexperientialism wants to posit a single ontological thread of experience throughout. If each of these properties indeed constitutes something ontologically more than simply a result of a process of amplification, then why cannot even the simplest mode of prehension be new at some level (i.e. cellular level)—that is, if the nature of the universe is not constrained by its first levels to an objective ontology?

Consciousness and Energy

The nature of cosmos has been generally understood by projecting down the spatial systems of the body/brain rather than the mind (object appearance rather than subject appearance). Consequently, we tend to think of the cosmic foundations as physical—that is, physical as distinct from mental. Yet both the ‘physical’ (objects, things) and the ‘mental’ (experiences) are phenomenal—belonging to the same manifold, but perspectivally different. The original manifestation of the universe is pre-phenomenal, its ontological substance undergirding the multiplicity of epistemically interactive holonic centres. Space-energy is neither physical nor mental; it is a necessary yet not sufficient condition of both. To think of its ontological substance as more like the brain than the mind is simply a bias committed by physicalists and dualists alike. To articulate the epistemic relation a la Velmans, or holonic logic as I have here explicated it, actually presupposes the prior reality of spatial-energy relations, a relativistic situatedness and ontologically prior dynamic structure or archetypal pattern. In order to meaningfully speak of two holons—whether distinct from one another or intimately connected—we have to situate them in relation to one another in some sort of time-space and dynamic archetypally patterned matrix. This situatedness necessarily precedes their epistemic mutuality and consequent subject/object, experience/brain polarity. As the necessary precondition for high level experience, panexperientialism posits a prototypical form of shadowy experience. While prototypical experience indeed evolves before higher level experience, it cannot refer to the necessary foundation for experience itself. In contrast, as the necessary precondition for any experience, holonic logic presupposes the condition of spatio-temporal relations, a dynamic patterning that is precisely level C. This condition preceeds even the meaningful act of being able to refer to a particular event or ‘occasion’ prior to its characerization as experiential, objective or both. It is illogical to try to explain this prior condition, namely spatio-temporal relations, by means of an experiential reality which necessarily presupposes it.

The energy fields or structures (or in different terms, the direct dynamic creative manifestation of Godhead) constituting level C cannot be placed on Wilber’s Right as distinct from his Left. Two subject/object holons in epistemic relationship (both distinct and connected) defined by the time-space-energy infrastructure together form the world, thus constituting the field of experience—not experience on one side and stuff on the other. But, as said, this epistemic relation rests on the necessary condition of spatio-temporal relations. The subject/object epistemology rests upon a spatio-temporal infastructure which must undergird the epistemology and make it possible—a situated relation of points. Some language of space-time and energy must already be present. The physiosphere is that pure language of space prior to phenomenology—a hierarchic ordering of atomic spaces to form a molecular space which come together to form a macromolecular space.

Here I have been describing Level C in a scientific and hence, ontologically partial manner. Subatomic physics, rather than a fully adequate description of the ontology of level C as it is in itself (and as it was prior to the advent of life forms with their modes of experiencing), is actually a complex relation of level N and level C through the subject/object mode of knowing. If we are to complement, holonically, that way of knowing level C, then we need to enter into a subject/subject relation with level C (this will not expand our scientific knowledge even though it might inspire a physicist‘s creative intellectual process). The subject/subject mode of knowing does not presuppose that there exist experiencing individuals (albeit unconscious ones), at level C since subject/subject connective knowing, being a polar complement, does not derive from the prior differentiation of subject and object. Since level N operates primarily in the subject/object mode of knowing, then a direct connective relationship to the fundaments of nature can be achieved only by contacting level B predifferentiated awareness (a bodily immediacy) while opening into level T, precisely stages 7/1 and 8/2. From this perspective the panentheistic presence of manifest God as Nature becomes a reality.

I suggest that experiential subjectivity and objectivity are the fundamental conditions which structure the second and third levels of the hierarchy (B & N) but they do not extend meaningfully (or by explanatory necessity) to the lowest level C or to the transcendent level T. What we mean by brain and what we mean by mind are both constructs within the experiential field. But this field is not within one person’s field itself but constitutes a mutual cross interface of fields (see Velmans and my holonic epistemic diagram). Science infers the structural dynamic geometry which makes this experiential field (i.e. interfacing fields) possible—the infrastructure without which there would be no experiential field (even though the infrastructure does not cause experience to be). Our reframing moves the terms of the experience/brain relationship away and beyond the terms of the Cartesian subject/object relation and also beyond the purely epistemic holonic subject/object to subject/object relation. We do not perceive space/energy; certainly, it is not an object of ordinary sensory awareness. Rather, we infer it as an immediate intuition, as an inferential posit. Yet scientific realism is based on this posit. Similarly we do not perceive or know pure consciousness; rather perception occurs through the relation of Consciousness and Energy. If we can posit the temporal priority of pure spatial energy fields even though we cannot perceive them directly, then we are equally entitled to posit the existence of pure Consciousness. We must infer both pure Energy and pure Consciousness which come together through a mysterious metaphysical marriage to give rise to our worlds both 'inner' and 'outer', both minds and bodies. Peter Russell (2003) has pointed out that we do not see light; rather, "the light we see is a quality appearing in consciousness". “Lying beyond and prior to space and time, light bears striking resemblance to the "light of consciousness". "Do physical reality and the reality of the mind share the common ground—a ground whose essence is light?" (pp70,71). In this sense we might say that we are consciousness/space-time or that we exist and unfold in consciousness/space-time. But most importantly, just as energy/space cannot properly be mapped as one side of the holonic divide, consciousness cannot be mapped as the other holonic face.

When we speak of the given and indisputable interface of Consciousness and Energy which occurs first through and as the biosphere, we must not confuse these terms (as did Descartes and both physicalist and idealist philosophers since) with the first/third person, subject/object or holonic subject/object to subject/object interrelational logic of human epistemology (and prototypically animal prehensive and sensory awareness). It is when we posit consciousness as subject and energy as object, or when we posit consciousness as Wilber’s Left and energy structures as Wilber’s Right, that we get into trouble. Brain and mind, subjectivity and objectivity, arise through the interface of 'Consciousness' (involving from the 'top' of our cylinder) and 'Energy fields' (evolving from the bottom) at successive levels of evolution (I refer the reader to the Torus model in chapters 19 & 23). Seen in this way, mind is no less physical than brain: brain is no more physical than mind. Having claimed such a monism of mind and brain, I am not tacitly sneaking in the idea that this 'physicality' is actually more like mind than matter. They are both constituted by energy-fields, event-patterns occurring in time-space. It is significant that we cannot say that the brain is more like the physical energy stuff in the basement than is the mind. Nor, as in idealism, can we say the opposite. Neither brain nor mind is simply in space, simply energy-field. Both are the product of the interface of Consciousness and Energy. Is this Cartesian dualism? I would say not, since dualism tends to identify consciousness with subject and energy with object where subjects perceive objects. Substance dualism (i.e. the contention that mind and matter are two different ontological substances) has been problematic because it is always conceived through an illogical conflation with the Cartesian subject/object (Left/Right) and mind/body distinction (level N/level B). Since the interface of what we are calling energy and consciousness is ontologically prior to the manifest world of minds and bodies, subjects and objects, it can be 'understood' only metaphysically.

As these energy-field forms or structures become more complex through levels B and N they are more and more bathed in the light of Consciousness In fact if they weren’t so bathed, then life would not have developed beyond level C. This is not like watching a process, but rather being a process of becoming at ever higher levels of systemic ordering. Epiphenomenalism (mind as a mere bi-product of material processes) is false because upward development in terms of complexifying conscious energy structures is driven by the Consciousness/Energy interface and not solely by energic interactions at the level of physics (cosmic rays and DNA molecules etc.).

At biospheric and noospheric levels, consciousness is not all-pervading; it does not illuminate, as one manifold, the thought and the correlative brain state which constitutes an individual. Prior to the mystical level of cosmic consciousness, Consciousness situates itself, or illuminates in a partial and spatially situated manner from the spatial perspective of a particular organism. The conscious illumination of spatio-temporal pattern (experience) occurs relative to the organismic centre (the concentration of higher emergic complexity, i.e. the brain). Consequently, Consciousness manifests as a manifold or spectrum of consciousness and unconsciousness. Humans are compounds, but that which makes them uniquely human is their personhood which ontologically consists of high subtle energy-fields—as brain states and as thoughts.

So, rather than an epiphenomenal biproduct of energy fields, Consciousness is a gradually intensifying illumination like the light of the Sun penetrating down into the ocean's depths allowing the profusion of life forms before it fades out into the dark depths, a process which alters the interplay of the interactive parts of the field. That is, consciousness at each stage-level signifies the organization of a set of parts into a systemic order which is more than the sum of the parts, no longer constrained by the factors at their own level (e.g. efficient causes) and now operating together in new and more conscious and spontaneous orders (the greater 'freedom' of each level in relation to the previous level1). In psychology, neurotic loops and patterns, when appropriately exposed to the 'light-space' of a new and higher consciousness can re-order themselves and come to operate as a more creative and expressive whole. In terms of upward development, the energic field structures constituting the brain/mind/world are ever more bathed in consciousness as they establish themselves at ever higher levels of order.

This form of dualism is indeed a metaphysical claim—but no more a metaphysical claim than physicalist monism. And it is a dualism which does not deny the 'physicality' of the mind along with the brain and does not get entangled in the horns of the mind/brain and subject/object distinction nor, through an inadequate explication of holonic logic, get explained in terms of a holonic polarity which implies a questionable panexperientialism. Also, the positing of a Ground for this universe which accounts for the two overarching poles, energy and consciousness (evoking, but in modified form, the idea of Prakriti and Purusha in Samkya doctrine and perhaps the Taoist Yin and Yang), does not fall prey to the error of seeking the source through an infinite regression. This is because there is no need to find, or logical sense in looking for, a source which is time-prior to this universe because this universe is time. Time is grounded in the timeless, the finite in the infinite.

So consciousness cannot be identified with mind as distinct from matter. Consciousness is not an observer observing an object. Rather, the interface of Consciousness with higher level energy fields produces the phenomenal manifold which includes the so-called inner and outer worlds—minds and bodies. Consciousness (capital C) is like a tidal flow coming in as consciousness, flowing out as unconsciousness (not to be confused with nonconsciousness—the entire absence of Consciousness—which is the pre-biotic energy field structures). Phenomenology, as the interface of spirit and the patterns of matter-energy, is the given. It brings two immediate and indisputable intuitions which are integral with human phenomenology: (1) the intuition of the reality of relative situatedness and spatialized structure, and (2) the knowledge of Consciousness (more precisely, the ebb and flow of consciousness/unconsciousness). These are the givens. It is when we arrange these givens according to a certain troublesome logic that the mind-body problem arises. As already said, the logical error is precisely the identification of consciousness with the observing subject and the identification of space-energy with the observed object. When we normally speak of consciousness as consciousness of something we are actually identifying consciousness with the subjective pole of the phenomenal experiential field. But Consciousness is ontologically prior to the field of experience just as is spatialization. The subject/object relationship signifies the logical structure of human phenomenology whereas the interplay of cosmic/quantum space/energy and consciousness (neither of which constitutes the data actually observed) is the fundamental ontology which makes experience possible in the first place (i.e. experience whether understood as a simple subject/object relation, or holonically as an epistemic interrelation of subject/object holons). Experience is the interface of Consciousness and Cosmic Energy. The main problem of Cartesian duality is how to explain the obvious interactivity of mind and body, subject and object, but this is only because consciousness has been identified with mind while space-energy has been identified with body. Mind and body are not separate or distinct ontologies.

We have seen that dualities can be understood more deeply as holonic polarities including the wave/particle nature of light. The question that might be raised in response to our formulation, namely, 'How can energy-fields and consciousness possibly interact and interpenetrate?" does not arise from any problematic empirical observation. The interactive problem which is the main objection to dualism does not arise in our conception because the intention and the movement of the arm are, as physicalists say, both 'physical'; they are both energy systems and not different ontologies. But we do not see or experience anything which seems to directly call into question the interpenetration of consciousness and energy. I do not witness consciousness somehow acting on matter in the way that I can witness (and question) how my own intention moves my arm (level B). Consciousness and matter (i.e. space-energy) do not interact in the sense that we witness how the one acts effectively on the other so as to legitimately call into question how one ontology can possibly act on a different one. When it comes to articulating this interface we have trouble, except to try to express it in terms borrowed from the experiential manifold and the metaphors the manifold provides. This is in the same sense that physics is hard put to explain the ultimate nature of space/energy/particle beyond human generated metaphors, models, and mathematical constructions.


The account I have here been working out can be characterized as a realist position but not a naturalistic one. The conviction of the duality of mind and body first arises from the clear vertical difference between levels B and N: sensory and bodily immediate concrete-in-the-worldness (B) and subjective interiority and privacy of mental life (N). At this Cartesian level of thought beyond pure sensation we first experience the sense of separation between me-in-here and you-out-there as well as the sense of the ‘ghost in the machine’ which is distinct from the body while apparently operating it through a complex system of 'levers' and 'wires'. But more subtly—as a train of thought that unfolded from Locke to Berkeley to Hume—philosophers came to see that the distinction between mind and matter cut deeper than this. The tree that you and I are both looking at right now is actually an image that appears to each of us separately. The question arises as to the nature of the 'real tree' behind the image and how we can establish whether it has an existence independent of our perception of it. So here arises the conflation of consciousness with the subjective perspective and matter with the objective perspective, so that, in effect, level C and the biophysical aspects of level B become the object world while level N and the sensory aspects of level B become the domain of the experiencing subject. To accept Berkeley’s esse est percipi would be to defy hard common sense just as it would be to accept Hume’s radically empirical subjective phenomenalism. As for Kant’s distinction between phenomenon and noumenon which has had such a profound affect on subsequent philosophical thought outside of science, the general operating framework for the scientific enterprise has reached back prior to Kant. Physical science rests on something like the old Galilean/Lockean distinction between primary and secondary qualities along with an epiphenomenalist account of mind.

While rejecting idealism, Kantianism, materialism and epiphenomenalism, I maintain in a realist spirit that physical science, while an ongoing human process of discovery and paradigmatic change, cannot be explained away as a purely human construct. It reveals the essential dynamic geometry of time-space which is the foundational condition of our embodiment as experiencing beings. Sensory images cannot be projected downward onto level C to validly capture the nature of level C. Mathematics is the only language that can capture the forms that constitute level C which is the immanent spatial infrastructure of our bodies and minds. As a level N subject/object way of knowing engaging its own concrete reality (something like primary qualities), what physics misses is the divine nature of this reality. Its ontology is the dynamic and unconscious expression of God, the telos inherent in its unfolding from Big Bang to Gaia, its interdependent existence along with other universes and its first level enaction of the archetypal structure of the unfolding universe. None of this negates the time-space structure that physics reveals which is the foundational infrastructure of all embodiment and experience.

We do not experience level C ‘objects’. Rather we experience sensorily in accordance with level C dynamic spatial patternings. But rather than passive epiphenomena totally determined by level C 'laws' (or habits), such experiencing is itself the emergence of a new dimensionality, namely, level B. 'Involving' Consciousness accords with (aligns with) level C patterning manifesting as sensory qualia/nervous system development (level B) but does so from a particular placement. For example, given an equilateral triangle with angles a, b & c, awareness of the triangle occurs from a particular angular point. Thus the level C arrangement becomes perceptively known from the vantage point of a, b, or c, the perceptive event occurring as the emergent level B. So the world at level C 'lights up,' so to speak, more and more through, and as, level B. The full sensory pageant supervenient on the framework of level C evolves into ever more complex structures, level B structures which could never unfold without the emergence of qualia, the elements of experience. It is the perspectival and situated nature of consciousness at level B in relation to the framework which gives rise to the difference between subject and object, nothing other than perspectival differences within the same structured field. Everything is real, we are the real existing cosmos. The world is not just experience, or some unknowable given standing behind experience.

We live in the concrete bodily certainty of a real world of which our body (known directly through proprioception) is one entity among others. By real world is meant, not naive realism, but a public world which is not solely an experiential construct. In and as our bodies, we are the world. We now know that the concreteness of the world is not fundamentally the solid object but spatial/energic patterning which exists ontologically prior to experience. Experiencing, when it arises, is not simply a state of passive watching but an active engaging of, and creative participating with the framework without violating the fundamental principles, the ‘laws’ of physics. Affirming Whitehead's concept of primordial experience as something closer to emotion than sensing, the consciousness factor. unfolding as level B, is dynamic, facilitating and partly directing the ‘random’ process of genetic mutation, survival, and successful growth of new functions all the way up to higher mammals. The ever more complex event-structure through level B manfests as ever more elaborate qualia and more complex nervous systems and brain structures.

The mind and the brain are equally physical and equally experiential. They are both experiential in the Velmans sense as products of the different perspectives of holon A in spatial relation with holon B. And in the precise shape and form of the complex event structure, both are physical in the sense of level C, or rather, the level C interface with the sensory awareness which constitutes level B, and with the symbolic conceptual awareness constituting level N. The relationship of the experience (qualia) to the physical form is not horizontal and bi-polar but is a vertical interface of the complexifying cosmic energy-form and the involution of spirit-consciousness which in their participatory moment gives rise to the process of upward unfolding we call the evolution of consciousness.


1. As real as are galaxies, suns, planets and biological organisms, so too are selves. Selves are born at level N while souls emerge at level T. Like any entity’s existence is relative, so too is an entity’s freedom. Biological behaviour is relatively freer than physics even though constrained by the laws of physics, and is freerer the more it complexifies. Selves at level N are relatively free of the instinctual habits which define level B. Souls at level N are free of much of the psycho-social conditioning of level N and at death are even free of levels C and B altogether (although this process is unknown).

Continue to Chapter 21