Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe CorbettJoe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].



An integral theory of Kosmic Dynamics

Joe Corbett

In a recent (September, 2021) paper, a group of prominent scientific researchers including Lee Smolin and Jaron Lanier ask “whether there might be a mechanism woven into the fabric of the natural world, by means of which the universe could learn its laws”[1], thus solving the problem of why these laws, if not by random dumb luck, seem to be so fine-tuned for the emergence of complex things like life and ultimately consciousness to reflect on the nature and meaning of it all.

They explore several possible mechanisms by which the universe could have learned its laws into existence rather than simply having those laws given as they are from the outset, and they stipulate that “a system learns when it is able to alter its internal processes and actions in the world to better capture and exploit the flows of energy through or near it to further a goal, which is typically continued existence, but might become more than that” p.7, which is precisely what has occurred in the case of our universe, and particularly in the form of life and consciousness.

Yin Yang

Here at IW I have written a number of essays on this very topic of the universe as a dynamic system that manifests itself into existence, including in the essay 'States of Consciousness and the Structure of the Kosmos' (2017) and 'The Creative Kosmos, in a Nutshell' (2020). In these essays I propose a dynamic mechanism for how the universe comes into being through its own structural-processes by means of already well-known and postulated physics.

In my model of a self-organizing universe, which I have called Kosmic Dynamics, the interaction of Dark Energy (the quantum vacuum of virtual particles) with ordinary matter is recorded as an informational memory trace in Dark Matter in the fabric of space-time itself, in accordance with the holographic principle. This cosmic memory storehouse is accumulated and entangled with all the other memory traces before and after from moment-to-moment at the sub-quantum level, as a kind of invisible or dark hologram-in-motion on the surface area of space-time deep-down at or near the planck scale, and it approximates what David Bohm calls the super-implicate order, a vast sub-surface ocean of currents and overlapping waves that crest in the tiny surface interference patterns that we call matter. This dynamic memory storehouse, which serves as the stabilizing function of the Kosmic System, simultaneously interacts with the future possible forms of the wave function of matter-particles at a more surface (but still unmanifest) implicate level of quantum reality to create novel configurations of matter with itself as it continues to interact and manifest its forms within the system, at the explicate surface order of manifestation.

Mapping this dynamic in terms of the AQAL, the Dark Energy engine driving it all is the LR, the Witness of the Eyes-of-Spirit (the virtual particle-antiparticle pairs) that fluctuate in and out of existence from the vast emptiness of the void, mediating all regular particle interactions at the surface level of ordinary matter (the Body of the universe) in the UR. As information, and in conformity to the law of conservation of energy-matter-information, these interactions are enfolded deep into the informational storehouse of the LL, which is the collective repository of memory and the Soul of the cosmic community called Dark Matter or the Implicate Order. Finally, and perhaps most mysterious of all, is how the infinite potentials of the quantum fields of matter in the UL come to form the diversity of species and levels of consciousness that we take to be the signature of evolutionary processes and intelligent beings, which is the very essence of Kosmic Mind at work.

According to the hypothesis of the cosmos as a self-organizing creative adaptive learning process put forward by Smolin and his group, the mechanism of such a process would have to self-generate the laws by which the system operated, so that the fine-tuning that we see in the universe allowing forms of life and consciousness to emerge would have been generated in a similar way to how life and consciousness were themselves generated, by adaptation and learning how to survive and persist. Ergo, life and consciousness in the universe is possible, and the fine-tuning of the universe for life and consciousness is what it is, because those are the values the universe fundamentally needed (metaphorically speaking), or that optimally reflected the conditions necessary in those first few moments of the universe, for cosmic self-generation in its own struggle to survive and persist as a universe.

Likewise, according to the model of Kosmic Dynamics that I have outlined here and elsewhere, the cosmos is a creative adaptive learning system because it has an informationally based memory of the environment recorded in the fabric of space-time that is monitored and updated from moment-to-moment, while new possibilities and pathways in the future given by its quantum field potentialities are explored simultaneously with the storehouse of accumulated knowledge about the past. The universe uses past knowledge of itself to realize what future possible forms it can become, from moment-to-moment, and from eon to eon.[2] The first moments of the universe were obviously its most impressionable, setting down habits that would be long lasting and slow to change, but which would grow and evolve into more complex patterns of self-organization as time went on.

Indeed, the first “impulse” of the universe to maintain its existence, to record its first interactions and to “foresee” what the next potential moment might bring, would eventually become much much more than just that. For out of these first simple rules born of the Dark Energy interactions with matter recorded into Dark Matter and projected into the quantum potentials of the next moment, came the ten thousand things, and then came all of the universe, life, and consciousness we see today. Life, consciousness, and the socio-cultural systems in which we live are all self-similar fractal subsystems of the one grand system from which they come, which is the creative adaptive universe.


[1] The Autodidactic Universe, Stephon Alexander, William J. Cunningham, Jaron Lanier, Lee Smolin, Stefan Stanojevic, Michael W. Toomey, and Dave Wecker, PDF, p. 70, September, 2021.

[2] In terms of the AQAL, you might notice that the idea of cosmo-autopoeisis is a LR analysis of cosmic emergence that uses the entire AQAL as the system of inter-related parts. Spirit-in-action, the self-organization of wholes into larger wholes, is a phenomenon primarily of the LR, but it is also what the AQAL as whole does from moment-to-moment on different systemic levels, from the cosmic to the biological, psychological, and social levels of self-organization, which I also outline in 'Four Levels of the Informational Storehouse' (2019).

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