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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Mitsuru Masuda: "I graduated the department of science of Tokyo Metropolitan University at 1980. After a few years working as high school physics teacher I reentered TMU for studying philosophy and got MA at 1992. Then I restarted life of high school teacher. Around 2000, I came across Ken Wilber’s book, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. The thought of that book made strong impression on me. To know his thought more, I became a member of Samgraha Institute which studies Buddhism, therapeutic psychology etc. and the representative of the institute, Moriya Okano was the editor of the Japanese translated book of SES. Recently I have become to have rather critical thinking toward Wilber’s thought. That is the reason why I had been affected by the essays in Integral World and I myself have written some critical essays about Wilber’s thought for bulletins of Samgraha Institute. Now I already have retired teacher."
Decoupling of sensation, emotion and thought from consciousness
Harari's view about consciousness
Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow (Yuval Noah Harari, Vintage, 2017) describes a history and a possible future of humankind like his former article Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind (Yuval Noah Harari, Harper, 2014). However, in Homo Deus, he pays more attention on the prediction than Sapiens.
One of the scenarios he described as a possible future of humankind is that the AI which excels humans largely in intelligence will emerge and most people become almost useless for running our society. After reading this prediction, I felt some emptiness and meaninglessness toward the past efforts of humankind in history. But he also says, “If you don't like some of these possibilities you are welcome to think and behave in new ways that will prevent these particular possibilities from materializing.” (Homo Deus p.461) Then in the end of his book, he suggests that readers should investigate next questions.
The first question is whether living things including humans are merely physiological systems which can be completely explained as algorithms for solving problems. If the answer is affirmative, the electric systems which have the same algorithms as humans do would be able to substitute humans in almost all works in society and most humans might become useless and, eventually, they might even be extinct.
However, he believes that no matter how similarly robots behave like humans or no matter how AI excels humans in intelligence, they would not be able to have consciousness. Then, regarding the second question, he argues that you should think more deeply about the consciousness itself which AI and robots will never be able to have. And concerning the third question, he says that if you conclude that consciousness has some irreplaceable values, you should think deeply about the appropriate society before you accept the society which treats humans as useless.
Then in the form of replying to his suggestion, I shall investigate consciousness in this article. First, I would make a view about consciousness referring to the ideas described in Homo Deus. Then, to make the view clear, I would compare it with some other views about consciousness by famous thinkers - David J Chalmers, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Ken Wilber. Finally, based on that consideration, I would explore the future again.
By the way, the most impressive topic for me in Homo Deus is the decoupling of intelligence from consciousness. Here's Harari's thought. If unconscious AI can advance intelligences which is being considered only conscious humans can have, then the consciousness and intelligence would be dealt separately. I thought that the topic could be developed into the idea of decoupling of sensation, emotion, and thought from consciousness because I think that intelligence can be seen as a part of thought. So I've made the title of this article 'Decoupling of sensation, emotion and thought from consciousness'.
Creating a view of consciousness referring to what Harari says in Homo Deus
My consciousness certainly exists and mind is a flow of consciousness or subjective experiences
The mind isn't some mystical eternal entity. Nor is it an organ such as the eye or the brain. Rather, the mind is a flow of subjective experiences, such as pain, pleasure, anger, and love. These mental experiences are made of interlinked sensations, emotions and thoughts, which flash for a brief moment, and immediately disappear. Then other experiences flicker and vanish, arising for an instant and passing away. (When reflecting on it, we often try to sort the experiences into distinct categories such as sensations, emotions and thoughts, but in actuality they are all mingled together.) This frenzied collection of experiences constitutes the stream of consciousness. (ibid. p.123)
As in the referred sentences, Harari thinks that mind is a flow of consciousness or subjective experiences and the contents of mind are sensations, emotions and thoughts. Then he argues that a flow of consciousness is a concrete reality which we witness directly, and he says about the flow “you cannot doubt its existence.” (ibid. p.123)
We cannot be certain of others' consciousness
On the other hand, Harari says about other's consciousness as follows;
Indeed, even in the case of other humans, we just assume they have consciousness—we cannot know that for certain. Perhaps I am the only being in the entire universe who feels anything, and all other humans and animals are just mindless robots? (ibid. p.139)
None of our scientific breakthroughs has managed to overcome this notorious Problem of Other Minds. (ibid. p.151)
He thinks that he cannot declare the existence of others' consciousness. Even when I doubt my own consciousness, I surely have a real feeling of consciousness just by doubting. But regarding others' consciousness, I can never have such real feelings. For example, no matter how eagerly Harari insists on the existence of his own consciousness, I cannot be certain of his consciousness because I'm not he and thus I cannot feel his feeling as mine. On the contrary, I think others can never be certain of my consciousness. As far as being the person in question (having a real feeling as the person in question) is one of the necessary conditions for being certain of subjective experiences, any argument about the existence of consciousness will result in this same conclusion.
Harari is certain of the intersubjective realm
Harari points out that most people see the world through the dichotomy between the subjective and the objective as follows;
Most people presume that reality is either objective or subjective, and that there is no third option. Hence once they satisfy themselves that something isn't just their own subjective feeling, they jump to the conclusion it must be objective. (ibid. p.168)
Around the time I was born, maybe I had almost no discretion. I might have had no recognition of distinction between the interior and the exterior. But with growth, I have come to be aware of the distinction between my own body and other things from the experiences as below.
Somewhere around 4 months, the infant will begin to differentiate between physical sensations in its body and those in the environment. The infant bites a blanket and it does not hurt; bites its thumb and it does. There is difference, it learns, between blanket and thumb. (Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, Second Edition, Shambhala, 2000 p.147 This example was written based on Piaget's developmental psychology.)
My body and other things are similarly in front of me, but biting brings different effects on each of them. In my body there emerges pain—my sensation, but in other things there doesn't emerge a pain. By accumulating such experiences, finally I might have come to the standpoint to separate my interior subjective feeling and other objective things including my body. Then I might have begun to use dichotomy that classify anything into subjective or objective. But Harari argues that there's also the intersubjective domain which cannot be classified into either subjective or objective.
However, there is a third level of reality: the intersubjective level. Intersubjective entities depend on communication among many humans rather than on the beliefs and feelings of individual humans. Many of the most important agents in history are intersubjective. Money, for example, has no objective value. You cannot eat, drink or wear a dollar bill. Yet as long as billions of people believe in its value, you can use it to buy food, beverages and clothing. (Homo Deus p.168)
And he named the occurrence that humans acquired the vast intersubjective realm “Cognitive Revolution”. Then he states about the enormous influences of that revolution as follows;
Seventy thousand years ago the Cognitive Revolution transformed the Sapiens mind, thereby turning an insignificant African ape into the ruler of the world. The improved Sapiens minds suddenly had access to the vast intersubjective realm, which enabled them to create gods and corporations, to build cities and empires, to invent writing and money, and eventually to split the atom and reach the moon. (ibid. p.410)
Harari thinks that religions, sciences, systems of societies and so on are largely based on a kind of fictions which humans have created through accumulated communications between them. Almost everything humans have created so far are the productions based on this intersubjective realm.
Generally, scientific results are thought as objective and not fictional. But if scientific results are truly objective, they should be pre-given and independent from human thoughts. If once acquired, they would never be undermined. However, in the history of science, there were occurrences that the theories which had been considered never to be undermined were overturned. For example, the notion of absolute space-time and the view that material phenomena are made by the behaviors of particles and waves—they are assumed to work in Newtonian dynamics which had been thought as great scientific theory - were respectively overturned by Einstein's Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.
Generally, scientific theories are said to be objective because they are based on objective observations. But the modern philosophy of science asserts that there are no pure objective observations. For example, Norwood Russell Hanson wrote as follows in his book;
There is a sense, then, in which seeing is a 'theory-laden' undertaking. Observation of x is shaped by prior knowledge of x. Another influence on observations rests in the language or notation used to express what we know, and without which there would be little we could recognize as knowledge. (Norwood Russell Hanson, Patterns of Discovery, Cambridge University Press, 1958, Re-issued 2010, p.19)
To sum up, even in the natural science, there are no purely objective observations. Scientific theories have been verified only on the intersubjective premises authorized/accepted by the community of scientists. And if there emerges outcomes which contradict the premises, scientists will change the intersubjective domain by creating new concepts or theories, or by improving existing concepts or theories. Therefore, no matter how much further scientific thoughts are developed, the acquired results must be largely intersubjective and will never be beyond relativistic hypotheses. If that's the case even with natural science, there can be no completely objective thoughts in any academic field and any kind of thoughts must premise some values.
On the other hand, the contents of religious beliefs are generally seen extremely private and subjective, but they are based on religious instructions which are acquired through the communication with religious people. Hence, they also are largely influenced by the intersubjective domain. For example, the belief in reincarnation, which each member of some groups of Buddhists has, originally comes from learnings under monks or studying books of Buddhism. And the contents of learning or studying are parts of the intersubjective worldviews which have been held by some communities of Buddhists.
In this way, it must be true that we have formed almost all of our various private subjective beliefs and seemingly objective knowledges about various objects through the intersubjective domains. All our knowledge of subjective or objective phenomena is nothing but what we come to have by differentiating through the intersubjective realm. Harari calls this intersubjective realm “a third level of reality.” But it seems to me that this realm must be the central background of recognition. Maybe we should say that our common framework itself that differentiate everything into subjective or objective is also one of the intersubjective worldviews which have been worked out through the communication between humans or between humans and nonhumans.
However, if we admit the existence of the intersubjective realm in this way, we will never be able to doubt the existence of consciousness (subjective experiences) of others, who have worked out our intersubjective realm together and have continued to jointly possess it. That's because in order to make the intersubjective realm humans need to be able to communicate their subjective experiences with one another, and therefore others also have to have their own consciousness. Thus, inevitably, we have to admit the existence of subjective experiences or the consciousness of others. And it contradicts the doubt toward the existence of others' consciousness, which I have thought quite proper.
Are there two aspects in mind?
Although Harari mentions notorious Problem of Other Minds and confesses his doubt of the existence of consciousness (subjective experience) of others, he also regards the existence of the intersubjective realm important. And if he admits the existence of the intersubjective realm, it inevitably leads him to the admittance of the existence of others' consciousness. Here's an inconsistent situation Harari falls into. He doubts the existence of consciousness of others, while he is certain of the existence of consciousness of others. But the story is not so simple. In Homo Deus, he does not continue to see mind as a flow of consciousness but thinks that sensations, emotions, thoughts are the proper contents of consciousness. He takes that idea one step further to thinking that there is the possibility that sensations and emotions exists without consciousness. Please read the following quotations.
the life sciences currently argue that all mammals and birds, and at least some reptiles and fish, have sensations and emotions. However, the most up-to-date theories also maintain that sensations and emotions are biochemical data-processing algorithms. Since we know that robots and computers process data without having any subjective experiences, maybe it works the same with animals? Indeed, we know that even in humans many sensory and emotional brain circuits can process data and initiate actions completely unconsciously. So perhaps behind all the sensations and emotions we ascribe to animals - hunger, fear, love and loyalty - lurk only unconscious algorithms rather than subjective experiences? (Homo Deus p.124)
The achievements of current life science and computer technology are almost denying the necessity of the bond between 'consciousness' and 'sensations and emotions'. Thus, sensation and emotion are going to be decoupled from consciousness. Further, he says that high intelligence too is going to be decoupled from consciousness.
Until today high intelligence always went hand in hand with a developed consciousness. Only conscious beings could perform tasks that required a lot of intelligence, such as playing chess, driving cars, diagnosing diseases or identifying terrorists. However, we are now developing new types of non-conscious intelligence that can perform such tasks far better than humans. For all these tasks are based on pattern recognition, and non-conscious algorithms may soon excel human consciousness in recognizing patterns. (ibid. pp.361-362)
In the past there were many things only humans could do. But now robots and computers are catching up and may soon outperform humans in most tasks. ………… As far as we know, computers in 2016 are no more conscious than their prototypes in the 1950s. However, we are on the brink of a momentous revolution. Humans are in danger of losing their economic value, because intelligence is decoupling from consciousness. (ibid. p.361)
In these quotations Harari argues that decoupling of intelligence from consciousness will happen because unconscious robots and computers are going to have intelligence equivalent or better than that of humans. And decoupling of intelligence from consciousness would be the same as decoupling of intellectual thinking from consciousness. Now, in the artistic field, especially in composition, it is said that AI is going to get the results which excels those of humans. Thus, it seems to me that not only intellectual thinking but also overall thinking function including creative thinking is being decoupled from consciousness.
In this way, if sensation, emotion, and even thought, which have been taken as functions of conscious mind, are some kinds of data-processing algorithms and these algorithms can be downloaded to the electric systems of robots and computers, then it seems to me that there must be two aspects in mind which can be separated, namely the aspect of consciousness (subjective experience) and the aspect of sensation, emotion and thought. If so, without contradiction, I can doubt the existence of consciousness of others while being convinced of the existence of sensation, emotion, and thought of others at same time. Of course, I am convinced of both my consciousness and the functions of my mind—sensation, emotion and thought.
Besides the idea of two aspects of mind, there is another idea important for me in Homo Deus, that is, the development and evolution of consciousness.
Consciousness develops or evolves by the cycle of experiences and sensitivity
By looking back on his/her own life, everyone could know that his/her own mind has changed and in the process of the changes there has been the aspect of growth or development. Harari thinks that the changes of mind (including development) are realized through the cycle of subjective experiences and sensitivity.
Experiences and sensitivity build up one another in a never-ending cycle. I cannot experience anything if I have no sensitivity, and I cannot develop sensitivity unless I undergo a variety of experiences. (ibid. p.278)
You cannot experience something if you don't have the necessary sensitivity, and you cannot develop your sensitivity except by undergoing a long string of experiences. (ibid. p.279)
Perhaps, sensitivity is like a pool of knowledge which individuals have cultivated with their own past subjective experiences under the large influences from the intersubjective realm. For example, by touching variety of artistic works and by hearing someone's explanation about those works, one would acquire more delicate aesthetic sensitivity than he/she had before. Or, by accumulation of experiences of solving various problems of mathematics, one could make sharp sensitivity for solving new problems and it might bring the time when he/she begins to be able to solve the problems of obviously higher levels. In the changes of mind by the cycle of sensitivity and subjective experiences, there emerges not only capability of having more delicate experiences, but also the development of experiencing in higher levels. For example, in Jan Piaget's developmental psychology, the faculty of cognition develops from preoperational to concrete operational to formal operational in the way of involving and transcending the former levels.
While there is a progress of subjective experiences in every individual by the cycle of experiences and sensitivity, Harari also says “For millions of years organic evolution has been slowly sailing along the conscious route” (ibid p.362). Therefore, he seems to widen his view of development of consciousness into the genealogical evolution accompanying the life's evolution. And he thinks there are many mental states which emerged accompanying such development and evolution. He even says, “the spectrum of possible mental states may be infinite” (ibid p.412). Electromagnetic wave has an infinite line which goes gradually from long wavelength to short wavelength, such as from radio waves to infrared rays, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X-rays, etc., and scientists call the line spectrum. Harari thinks that consciousness of life also has such a line - spectrum - made by its evolution and development. And he argues that there are even spiritual levels which transcend the ordinary levels of consciousness. He says about the way to such higher levels of consciousness as follows;
They (spiritual journeys) usually take people in mysterious ways towards unknown destinations. The quest usually begins with some big question, such as who am I? What is the meaning of life? What is good? (ibid. p.215)
He thinks that the modern western culture has neglected the investigation into such special mental states, and also says as follows;
The humanist revolution caused modern Western culture to lose faith and interest in superior mental states, and to sanctify the mundane experiences of the average Joe. Modern Western culture is therefore unique in lacking a specialized class of people who seek to experience extraordinary mental state. (ibid. p.414)
Facing such a situation of Western culture, he thinks that there can be such a way for humans to advance into a mystic state of consciousness and this state transcends individual abilities—intellectual, aesthetic and so on. Hence he thinks that evolution of life has the aspect of evolution of consciousness, and humans could reach the spiritual levels.
I think, in terms of the levels of consciousness, he set the spiritual levels higher than ordinary levels and set the levels common with animals or the levels lower than ordinary levels, which deep psychologies - such as Freud's, Yung's, and Yuishiki (vijnapti-matrata, consciousness only) of Buddhism - have studied. And maybe the problem of separation of consciousness and the function of mind would happen through all mental levels.
Summary of Harari's view about consciousness—shifting to the intersubjective realm centered thought
Harari is convinced that his own consciousness and subjective experiences exist, but he isn't convinced of the existence of consciousness and subjective experiences of others. I think such a thought of his is very reasonable. Here is why I think it's reasonable. One of necessary conditions to know subjective experiences is that the knower is the very subject of the experiences in question, and I cannot be others, and thus I cannot know subjective experiences of others and I cannot be certain of the existence of consciousness and subjective experiences of others.
But on the other hand, Harari thinks there is a vast intersubjective realm of humankind which has been created based on innumerable communications, so, as a matter of fact, he must admit that others also have consciousness and subjective experiences because, without subjective experiences, we cannot share the contents of those. I agree to this idea of his. But if so, that idea seems to contradict the idea that we cannot be convinced of the existence of others' consciousness. However, in his book, there is an idea that dissolves this contradiction. The idea which connects to the decoupling of sensation, emotion, thought—they have been taken as contents of consciousness - from consciousness.
By the development of life science and computer technology, sensation, emotion and thought are almost taken as data processing algorithm and unconscious robots with AI which can carry out that algorithm are almost emerging. If so, almost all things which have been taken as the contents of consciousness like sensations, emotions, thoughts might be separated from consciousness. In my mind, there might be both the part of consciousness which others cannot know and the part of sensation, emotion, and thought which can be decoupled from consciousness and can be shared with others. If so, I am convinced of the existence of both my consciousness (subjective experience) and the contents of my subjective experiences, and on the other hand I can doubt the existence of other's consciousness while being convinced of the existence of other's sensation, emotion and thought with an intersubjective realm. I would say that there are two aspects in experience—conscious experience and unconscious experience of sensation, emotion, thought.
Harari also thinks that both the part of consciousness and the part of sensation, emotion and thought evolve and develop. It is particularly worth noting that he seems to think consciousness can evolve or develop to the mystic or spiritual or transpersonal level. I could not find a clue in his book whether he infers decoupling of consciousness from the contents of mind can be valid even at such higher levels or not. But I think that he would have some kind of view of it as he has practiced meditation for many years. He also says that the evolution of life happened along the way of consciousness, so he seems to add in the line of development of consciousness - like sensation, emotion, thought—even primitive sensations which are assumed to emerge at the birth of life. although such primitive sensations are not in general taken to be a part of consciousness.
What stated above is my interpretation of the Harari's view about consciousness based on Homo Deus. In the followings, I would like to contrast this view with the views about consciousness by famous thinkers—David J Chalmers, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Ken Wilber. Then I try to make Harari's view clearer, and if there are useful parts in their views, I will unify them with Harari's view.
The thought of Chalmers—there are two aspects in mind
I stated as a possible view of Harari about consciousness that in mind there are both a part of consciousness the existence of which can be convinced only by the possessor him/herself and a part of the contents of subjective experiences such as sensations, emotions and thoughts which can be communicated with others through the intersubjective realm. David J Chalmers also has the idea that there are two aspects in mind. First, I will introduce Chalmers' thought, and then I will compare Harari's view with Chalmers' view.
Two Kinds of Properties concerning Mental State
When someone acts, there seems to have been some kinds of his/her interior state which caused the action. For example, when someone eats a banana, it seems that his/her hunger, or his/her wish of quickly finishing a meal, or his/her image of banana's having good nutrition and so on, have caused or motivated that action. Such hunger, or wish, or image seem to have been his/her interior state, which others can't see, although others can see the action caused by them. I think most people would agree that their behaviors in general are causally connected to their interior state.
In this essay, I shall use “mind” in the sense of the interior of a person, which includes senses, desires, emotions, images, thoughts, and so on. I also call those interior states mental states, and it appears that those states have an ability to cause the exterior acts of a person. Following David J. Chalmers, I shall call this ability of causality psychological property.
By the way, any mental states seem to appear in some kinds of experiences, and there seem to be some kinds of feels which are known only by the agent who is the subject of that experience. To name a few, the feel of being angry or being hungry or solving University's entrance exams of physics, etc., those feels are unique and distinguishable by the subject of the experiences. About such feels, Chalmers says as follows;
When we perceive, think, and act, there is a whir of causation and information processing, but this processing does not usually go on in the dark. There is also an internal aspect; there is something it feels like to be a cognitive agent. This internal aspect is conscious experience. Conscious experiences range from vivid color sensations to experiences of the faintest background aromas; from hard-edged pains to the elusive experience of thoughts on the tip of one's tongue; from mundane sounds and smells to the encompassing grandeur of musical experience; from the triviality of a nagging itch to the weight of a deep existential angst; from the specificity of the taste of peppermint to the generality of one's experience of selfhood. All these have a distinct experienced quality. All are prominent parts of the inner life of the mind.
We can say that a being is conscious if there is something it is like to be that being, to use a phrase made famous by Thomas Nagel. Similarly, a mental state is conscious if there is something it is like to be in that mental state. To put it another way, we can say that a mental state is conscious if it has a qualitative feel - an associated quality of experience. These qualitative feels are also known as phenomenal qualities, or qualia for short. The problem of explaining these phenomenal qualities is just the problem of explaining consciousness. This is the really hard part of the mind-body problem. (David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press, 1996 p.4)
I've already said that Chalmers named the aspect of the mental state, which causes external acts and relates to information processing, psychological property, and in the lastly quoted sentences he named the internal quality of this mental state which one has with a feel of cognitive agent phenomenal quality or phenomenal property. From now on, I will use those terminologies. After all, Chalmers argues that there are two kinds of concepts concerning mind as follows;
At the root of all this lie two quite distinct concepts of mind. The first is the phenomenal concept of mind. This is the concept of mind as conscious experience, and of a mental state as a consciously experienced mental state. This is the most perplexing aspect of mind and the aspect on which I will concentrate, but it does not exhaust the mental. The second is the psychological concept of mind. This is the concept of mind as the causal or explanatory basis for behavior. A state is mental in this sense if it plays the right sort of causal role in the production of behavior. According to the psychological concept, it matters little whether a mental state has a conscious quality or not. What matters is the role it plays in a cognitive economy. (The Conscious Mind, p.11)
I'd like to summarize what I've told this far. We assume that anyone has an internal aspect called mind, which is generally hidden from others, and we name this state of the mind mental state. It seems that mental state has two aspects or properties. One is the aspect of playing a causal role in the process of doing something. We call this aspect psychological aspect or psychological property. The other one is the aspect of an internal qualitative feel of experiences. This qualitative feel is always accompanied by the feel of being a cognitive agent. We call this aspect phenomenal aspect or phenomenal property.
Mind has two aspects. One is a psychological aspect which can be indicated by the psychological concept and has publicity or objectivity as playing a role in the causal chain of behavior production. Another is a phenomenal aspect or conscious aspect which is truly hidden from others and is always accompanied with the feel of being a cognitive agent or subject of experience.
Do Others' Phenomenal Properties Exist or Not?
It seems that phenomenal property and psychological property always emerge together, as Chalmers says in the following quotation;
It is a fact about the human mind that whenever a phenomenal property is instantiated, a corresponding psychological property is instantiated. Conscious experience does not occur in a vacuum. It is always tied to cognitive processing, and it is likely that in some sense it arises from that processing. Whenever one has a sensation, for example, there is some information processing going on: a corresponding perception, if you like. Similarly, whenever one has the conscious experience of happiness, the functional role associated with happiness is generally being played by some internal state. Perhaps it is logically possible one could have the experience without the causation, but it seems to be an empirical fact that they go together. (The Conscious Mind, p.22)
When the light goes into the eyes, some stimulus emerges at the retina, and a weak electric current would go along the nervous system, and the signals would arrive at brain's synaptic systems and the brain's response and reaction would newly make signals and send them back to the eyes and make his/her eyes close or open wide. This is a just rough picture of how our biological mechanism goes on, but anyway, in this picture, a brain or its synaptic system is taking a causal role for behavior production. When a brain is being activated as stated above, at the same time mind as well is considered taking a causal role for behavior production. Mental state is at that time accompanying some psychological property and some subjective phenomenal property. If we admit such co-occurrence of brain's synaptic systems' activation and psychological property and phenomenal property, it seems that there are some links between them. Related to such links, Chalmers intermediately concludes as follows;
The hardest part of the mind-body problem is the question: how could a physical system give rise to conscious experience? We might factor the link between the physical and the psychological, and the link between the psychological and the phenomenal. As we saw above, we now have a pretty good idea of how a physical system can have psychological properties: the psychological mind-body problem has been dissolved. What remains is the question of why and how these psychological properties are accompanied by phenomenal properties: why all the stimulation and reaction associated with pain is accompanied by the experience of pain, for instance. (The Conscious Mind p.25)
Psychological property's main feature is a causal role in behavior production. But it has been scientifically found that brain's synaptic activation is taking such a role. Therefore, the psychological mind-body problem can be said to have been dissolved and it seems that psychological properties can be reduced to exterior physical systems' state. So, what remains is the explanation of the link between psychological property (causal role in behavior production) and phenomenal property. And now whether the internality of mind exists or not seems to depend on the existence of phenomenal property. And in this quotation, he seems to state that there are three kinds of experiences, namely physical, psychological and phenomenal ones. Generally, a subjective experience has been taken as a conscious experience, but Chalmers differentiates mental state into psychological and phenomenal ones, and simultaneously he also differentiates subjective experiences into psychological and phenomenal ones.
It seems that everyone can inform the occurrence and existence of his/her internal phenomenal property indirectly to others by referring to psychological property which is co-occurring with phenomenal property, although no one except the experiencer him/herself can directly know that phenomenal quality. Thus, phenomenal properties can be known by others only by indirect reference. However, it seems that one of phenomenal properties' necessary conditions is a direct feel by the experiencer him/herself. Thus, after that's been said, it also seems that we cannot be sure of the existence of phenomenal property of others. For example, Chalmers analyzes a situation that someone sees green things, and it goes as follows;
Even with a term like “green sensation,” reference is effectively pinned down in extrinsic terms. When we learn the term “green sensation,” it is effectively by ostension -we learn to apply it to the sort of experience caused by grass, trees, and so on. Generally, insofar as we have communicable phenomenal categories at all, they are defined with respect either to their typical external associations or to an associated kind of psychological state. For instance, when one speaks of the phenomenal quality of happiness, the reference of the term “happiness” is implicitly fixed via some causal role - the state where one judges all to be good, jumps for joy, and so on. Perhaps this is one interpretation of Wittgenstein's famous remark, “An inner process stands in need of outward criteria.”
This dependence of phenomenal concepts on causal criteria has led some (including Wittgenstein and Ryle, in some of their moods) to suggest that there is nothing to the meaning of our mental concepts beyond the associated causal criteria. (The Conscious Mind, pp.22-23)
If only indirectly can we refer to the phenomenal property of others' interior, it seems to be meaningless after all to discuss the existence of phenomenal property of others because the peculiarity of the phenomenal property is its directness, as I've already mentioned. Therefore, it also seems that we should speak only about the psychological aspect of mental state and we should not speak about the existence of the internal aspect. Chalmers wrote about the concept of 'zombie' in his book. This zombie is a complete duplicate of a human being except for the phenomenal property. Chalmers seems to think that there is the logical possibility of others' being zombies because we can never know the phenomenal property of others.
However, Chalmers does not claim the actuality of others' lacking phenomenal property. On the contrary, convinced of the presence of others' phenomenal property, he says as follows;
Eliminativism about conscious experience is an unreasonable position only because of our own acquaintance with it. If it were not for this direct knowledge, consciousness could go the way of the vital spirit. To put it another way, there is an epistemic asymmetry in our knowledge of consciousness that is not present in our knowledge of other phenomena. Our knowledge that conscious experience exists derives primarily from our own case, with external evidence playing at best a secondary role. (The Conscious Mind p.102)
In this quotation about conscious experiences, Chalmers says that there is “our own acquaintance with it,” not that there is “my own acquaintance with it”. This suggests that he takes it for granted that others also have their own interior or consciousness because of his direct knowledge of his own interior or phenomenal properties. Therefore, although he admits the logical possibility of others' being zombies, in fact, he has no question about the presence of others' interior or consciousness or phenomenal property. For me, it seems very natural that he has no question about the existence of his own interior phenomenal property, but I wonder why he had no question about the existence of others' phenomenal properties. I surely know that there are phenomenal properties concerning me, but I can never be others, and others can never be me, which leads to the realization that I can never know others' interior like my own interior and I can never expect others to be convinced of the existence of my own interior. It seems to me that the phenomenal quality can be known only directly by the experiencer him/herself and that directness is the necessary element of phenomenal property and thus it also seems that the knowledge of phenomenal quality is entirely different from the knowledge of any objective things. Consequently, I have doubt about the existence of others' interior, contrary to Chalmers.
Comparison between Chalmers' view and Harari's view
In the case of Chalmers, mind is explained by both the phenomenal property which can be the true interior and the psychological property which plays the causal role in behavior. And he says, the work (activation) of physical brain's system always accompanies the psychological property. On the other hand, in the case of Harari, mind is explained by the consciousness (subjective experience) and the stuff of consciousness (sensation, emotion, and thought) which is related to the intersubjective realms. Sensation, emotion and thought carry out the causal role and are also explained as life-scientifically reducible to data-processing algorithm of physiological system of brain.
Comparing both views as stated above, it seems that phenomenal property and psychological property in Chalmers view respectively correspond to consciousness and the stuff of subjective experience (sensation, emotion and thought) in Harari's view. From now on, in principle I regard that phenomenal property and psychological property in Chalmers view and consciousness and the stuff of subjective experience in Harari's view as the same things. And I consider there are two aspects in subjective experiences—phenomenal experiences and psychological experiences. Phenomenal experiences are conscious experiences, which are very private, and one cannot be certain of the existence of other's phenomenal experiences. Psychological experiences can be expressive in concepts in the intersubjective realm. I am certain of the existence of both my own phenomenal experience and my own psychological experience. However, regarding those of others, I am certain only of the existence of psychological experiences.
Harari and Chalmers are in agreement that mind has two aspects. But, as already clarified, there is an important difference between their views. It seems to me that Chalmers is one of those who, as Harari points out, tend to see the world through the dichotomy of subjective and objective and his view lacks the intersubjective realm. Therefore, he seems to be troubled in dealing with psychological property, which is placed between extremely subjective phenomenal property and entirely objective brain's system. From the point of view of dichotomy of seeing things as either subjective or objective, psychological property which has links to both subjective phenomenal property and objective brain's system should be reduced to one of them. Then he took psychological property reducible to the activation of objective physiological brain system for a moment because both carry out the same causal role in behavior processing. But, on the other hand, he cannot deny the psychological property's connection to consciousness because psychological property is one of the two aspects of mind. The other aspect of mind is phenomenal property. In Harari's framework, we can explain differently about psychological property by putting the vast intersubjective realm in the central place between subjective and objective.
The directness of consciousness or phenomenal properties is extremely private and personal, so intersubjective-wise we cannot use them as the materials for communication. But psychological properties or sensations, emotions, and thoughts are important materials for communication, which have to do with the whole intersubjective realm. Therefore, psychological properties are not at all vague but important enough to occupy the central position for us to recognize each other. We should rather think that the notions of subjective and objective themselves were developed in the intersubjective realm, while my consciousness was taken subjective, and the others supplementally taken as objective. In other words, we are designing the world through the view comprising the framework of subjective and objective, which was developed in the intersubjective realm. Then it seems to me that Harari's setting is superior to that of simple dichotomy of subjective and objective, in terms of being able to include the intersubjective realm in which dichotomy itself had been developed. Looking back on the deterministic role of the intersubjective realm in my life, the thought that brings us awareness of the importance of the intersubjective realm seems quite sound.
In the case of Chalmers' model, psychological property and phenomenal property are differentiated but taken as a unity, which doesn't lead to the idea of decoupling. This differs from Harari's thought that AI without consciousness is almost going to have psychological property—sensations, emotions, thoughts -, and psychological property and phenomenal property are able to be decoupled. If psychological property and phenomenal property could be separated, then there would emerge the possibility that the relation between those is just contingent. Hence, we wouldn't need to take into consideration the necessity of the relation between phenomenal property and psychological property and we wouldn't need to think that others must have phenomenal consciousness.
As mentioned above, I have compared Chalmers' view and Harari's view. Then, I decide to introduce two ideas from Chalmers view to Harari's view. One is the technical words—psychological property and phenomenal property. Another is the thought of differentiating subjective experiences into psychological experiences and phenomenal experiences. In the next chapter, I'd like to present what Wittgenstein states about the interior. In his individualistic view, logically, there is no point in judging whether others have their own interior or not.
The thought of Wittgenstein - the logic which explains the impossibility of convincing about the existence of others' interior
Wittgenstein says about the knowledge of one's interior as follows;
That what someone else says to himself is hidden from me is part of the concept 'saying inwardly'. Only “hidden” is the wrong word here; for if it is hidden from me, it ought to be apparent to him, he would have to know it. But he does not 'know' it; only, the doubt which exists for me does not exist for him. (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations second edition, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe, Blackwell publishers, 1997 pp.220-221)
Please pay attention to the part “he would have to know it. But he does not 'know' it”. From the phrase 'saying inwardly', it is apparent that “it” in this part is an interior aspect. And Wittgenstein argues that “he would have to know” his interior, but that “he does not 'know' ” his interior. At first glance, these quoted sentences seem to include an apparent contradiction, but this seemingly apparent contradiction shall be dissolved by interpreting them as follows;
Others' interior is hidden from me and my interior is hidden from others, but his/her own interior isn't hidden from him/herself. And the way his/her interior is not hidden from him/herself is different from the way things which are remote from him/her is not hidden from him/her. Remote things can be hidden by putting an obstacle or something like a curtain between those things and him/her, but, by nature, his/her own interior can never be hidden from him/herself. For example, I can't avoid or doubt knowing my own interior. Hence, if we interpret “he would have to know it” as “he knows his interior because it is something which is impossible to be hidden from himself”, and if we interpret “he does not 'know' it” as “he does not know his interior as something which is possible to be hidden from him”, then what Wittgenstein says would no longer be a contradiction.
I think that Wittgenstein argues that there are two types of knowing. One is carried out when a person recognizes his own interior and he can't avoid that recognition. The other is carried out when a person recognizes objective things which can be known by indicating them physically or referring to them by using symbols or words and those things can be hidden from that person. Judging by this difference of two types of knowing, the interior that Wittgenstein referred to is not an object, and what is not an object is a subject, and thus that interior is subjective.
Comparing Wittgenstein's thought with Harari's view
Wittgenstein took the interior as recognizable by the possessor him/herself in the way of not being able of being hidden. I think that is equivalent to the conscious aspect of mind in Harari's view, namely the aspect—the phenomenal aspect in Chalmers' thought - decoupled from the stuff of subjective experiences - sensations, emotions and thoughts or the psychological aspect in Chalmers' thought.
As already stated, the psychological aspect—sensations, emotions and thoughts—is the aspect about which people can talk with each other based on the intersubjective realm. However, the intersubjective realm is vast, so the part each person can recognize is just small. So, it is reasonable to say that almost all of the intersubjective realm is hidden from each one and the part recognized by him/her had been originally hidden from him/her and has become recognized by him/her only through removing cognitive obstacles. Therefore, it seems natural to think that we came to know various sensations, emotions and thoughts through some parts of the intersubjective realm, which were originally hidden and afterward recognized by overcoming obstacles. Therefore, it seems to me that the psychological aspect is known not by the way of not being able to be hidden but known by the way of eliminating obstacles, and don't correspond to the interior in Wittgenstein's thought but is classified as objective in the view of dichotomy of subjective and objective.
I think this logic of the interior by Wittgenstein is an excellent method for explaining the uncertainty of the existence of others' consciousness. I'd like to add his logic to Harari's view. Unlike Chalmers, Wittgenstein didn't easily ignore the idea that we cannot be certain of the existence of others' consciousness. As long as we connect consciousness to each individual, consciousness cannot be known to anyone except the possessor him/herself and there's no point in talking about the existence of others' consciousness. If you did feel the existence of other's consciousness (phenomenal property), you should look back the logic of Wittgenstein's and ask yourself if you are transcending the individuality or not—getting in the transpersonal situation or not- , then you should judge the credibility of that situation.
Wilber's thought - a summary of Wilber's cosmology
Next, I'd like to compare the thought of Ken Wilber in 90's—what I call Wilber Cosmology - with Harari's view. In order to do that, in the first place, I shall summarize Wilber Cosmology in my own way in the order of next 6 heads.
1. Individual aspect and collective aspect of humans
In Oxford Dictionary of English (Oxford University Press 2003), the philosophical meaning of this concept is written as follows;
An abstract idea an idea or mental image which corresponds to some distinct entity or class of entities, or to its essential features, or determines the application of a term (especially a predicate), and thus plays a part in the use of reason or language
For instance, following the concept “human”, there are some differences between individual humans like the difference of body size, the number of head's hairs, and so on, but at the same time there are some common features between humans. For the concept “human” to realize in the concrete world, there must be plural respective individuals, who have some common humanity, because commonness can be actualized only when there are plural individuals. The concept “human” can be actualized only when human exist as both individual and collective.
Perhaps through such a thinking process, Wilber considered both individual and collective are the elementary aspects of a real human. He says as follows;
the individual and social are not two different coins, one being of a higher currency than the other, but rather the heads and tails of the same coin at every currency. They are two aspects of the same thing, not two fundamentally different things (or levels). (Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, second edition, Shambhala, 2000, p.90)
Just like front and back, right and left, top and bottom, and so on, when something has those pairs, each pair emerges necessarily as pair, as two aspects of one thing. I shall call the relation between such aspects complementary. Wilber thinks that, human's two aspects, individual aspect and collective aspect, are in the complementary relation. In Figure 1, the regular square expresses the whole human aspects, and a horizontal line is drawn to divide into the upper half as the individual aspect of human and the lower part as the collective aspect.
In actuality, each individual has his/her independent wholeness, but they cannot exist alone. First, no one can be born from no one. And no one can grow up without his/her parents' or some others' care. And those parents or those others themselves cannot have grown up without their own parents and the society which they belong to. Therefore, for human beings, individuality and society (collectiveness) cannot be separated, and it seems quite reasonable to think that there are complementary two aspects, namely the individual aspect and the collective aspect.
2. he Interior and the exterior of humans
Probably I can say I am a concrete example of a human being. Now I am thinking how I would explain “the interior and the exterior” while feeling a little heavy about the taste of this garlic potato chips in my mouth. By the way, those thinking and feeling of mine are not objective things that can be looked with eyes or touched by hands but something that only I can subjectively experience, and they seem to emerge in my interior, which is called my mind or my consciousness. And, in this sense, the statement of Descartes, “I think therefore I am”, seems right to me.
However, on the other hand, I don't think I can think or feel without my body either. When I feel physical sensation of something or taste something or look at something or listen to something, I experience through my skin or tongue or eyes or ears. When I have a cold or stomachache, I cannot think clearly. Scientists say that human beings can think because there are complex neuro-systems in their brains. If so, it seems that this body is just the source of my existence rather than feeling or thinking.
I've proposed my mind and my body as the source of my own existence. Then, for now, I assume that there are two aspects in me, one is the aspect as mind or consciousness which others cannot see or touch, and another is the aspect as body which others can see or touch, and these two aspects are in a close relationship. In actuality, when I feel something (for example, pain), in my body there emerge some physical response (for example, activation of nerve system) to some physical stimulation (for example, an insertion of hypodermic needle under the skin). Wilber names the aspect of mind or consciousness as interior or subjective, and the aspect of body as exterior or objective.
Just to make sure, I would like to state that this interior is not supposed to exist anywhere inside my body. I have my internal organs or my brain inside of me, which can be dissected and others can see or touch them, but no matter how deep you dig into them, my thinking or feeling cannot be found. That's because the interior (named as mind or consciousness) is supposed to have no physical form. To put it another way, the interior is supposed to have no spatial position which can be exposed.
I have stated about my own subjective aspect (interior) and objective aspect (exterior). Can I apply the same thing to others, for example my family or my colleagues also have their own interior and exterior like me? Surely, they have their own body (exterior) which can be seen or touched, but how about their interior which is supposed to be impossible for others to see? Although I cannot look into others' mind physically, but they can share their mind with me with words, and I can communicate with them using my language, and a language is a tool of thought, and a thought is stuff in mind. Therefore, it seems as a matter of course that others also have their interior. So, it seems to be natural for Wilber to think that anyone has two aspects, namely the interior and the exterior, and those are complimentary.
By the way, in the former paragraph I stated that I was not born or didn't grow up if there had not been the society (the collective aspect of humans) which my parents and I have belonged to. And the various states of society such as the social system, the architectures, and so on are the exterior which anyone can see. Therefore, it is apparent that there is the exterior aspect in the collective aspect of humans. How about the existence of the interior aspect in the collective aspect of humans?
Various sensations, impulses, emotions emerge in my interior, or my mind, but, above all in my mind, especially because of conceptions, I am able of think. At a glance, it seems that my thought is my own and very private and there is no relation to the collective aspect of humans. However, that is entirely wrong. Now I am writing about the thought of Wilber, and the various conceptions in the sentences have not been originally created by me. I have learned almost all my conceptions from my parents, my teachers, mass media, and the communities I have belonged to. Therefore, almost all conceptions in my interior came from the collective aspect of humans. This suggests that the collective aspect of humans also has its interior aspect.
How about one's sense of values, which also seems to be his/her interior aspect? If you have grown up in a rational culture, you would come to naturally have a sense of values which respects fundamental human rights. But if you have grown up in a culture based on a traditional paternalism, you would come to naturally have a sense of male chauvinism, which would be judged as sex discrimination in a rational culture. In this way, one's sense of values is cultivated based on the culture of community. Therefore, culture also can be taken as an example of the interior of the collective aspect of humans.
Concepts and a sense of values are in each individuals' mind (interior), but the source of those are in the collective aspect of humans. Therefore, it seems that the collective aspect of humans also has its interior aspect as a system of concepts or culture. Maybe the interior of collective could be realized as the fundamental world view which the members of the collective share to communicate with one another. After all, it seems a valid thought that humans have the interior and the exterior in both of the individual aspect and the collective aspect and the interior and the exterior are also in a complimentary relation of humans. In Figure 2, the whole square expresses the whole human, and in the middle of it a vertical line is drawn to divide into the left half as the interior aspect of humans and the right half as the exterior aspect of humans.
3. Four aspects of humans
Shown in Figure 1, humans have complimentary aspects of individual and collective, and in figure 2, humans have complimentary aspects of the interior and the exterior. Let's get Figure 1 and Figure 2 together. Then we get four aspects, namely interior-individual, exterior-individual, interior-collective, and exterior-collective, as shown in Figure 3. We might call those aspects as subjective-individual, objective-individual, subjective-collective (intersubjective, cultural), objective-collective (inter-objective, social). Wilber also regard those two lines running at right angles to one another inside the whole square as coordinate axis and call these four aspects four quadrants.
4. Process of the evolution from the origin of the universe to the human body in the exterior-individual aspect
Darwin theorized the evolution of life and modern physics theorized the process of the evolution of the universe from Big Bang to the present. By integrating these ideas, Wilber thought we could know the process of the evolution to our human body in the material universe as follows;
A little bit after the Big Bang, there emerged elementary particles like quarks, or leptons. Next, composed of those elementary particles, protons and neutrons emerged. Next, composed of protons, neutrons and electrons, atoms emerged. And Wilber says that in the same way of involving and transcending, molecules, macromolecules, prokaryotes, eukaryotes, neuronal organisms, organisms with neural codes, reptilian brain stem (reptiles), limbic system (mammals), neocortex (higher mammals), complex neocortex (humankind) have been emerged by turns.
Wilber sees this series as the process of the evolution which reaches the exterior-individual aspect of humans (human body). Wilber wrote the series in the upper-right quadrant of Figure 3, namely four quadrants of humans. Then, we can get Figure 4 (SF is an abbreviation of Structure Function).
Then, by taking atoms, molecules, prokaryotes, ……and so on as individuals each of which has the wholeness of itself, the series in the upper-right quadrant comes to express the series of objective individual beings which emerged by turns in the evolution of this universe.
5. phylogenetic map of cosmos by overlaying the process of the evolution on the four quadrants
Wilber thinks humans has complementary four quadrants so there shall be also the processes of the evolution in the other three quadrants corresponding to the upper-right quadrant. Then, he investigated enormous amount of researches in natural science, social science, psychology, and so on. And he showed the development of consciousness (development of interior-individual), the development of culture (development of interior-collective), the development of social system (development of exterior-collective) in each quadrant. Then he showed the process of the evolution up to humans in all four quadrants as Figure 5.
6. Introduction of the thought that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny
In Wikipedia, there is a following explanation about Recapitulation theory.
The theory of recapitulation, also called the biogenetic law or embryological parallelism -often expressed using Ernst Haeckel's phrase "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" - is a historical hypothesis that the development of the embryo of an animal, from fertilization to gestation or hatching (ontogeny), goes through stages resembling or representing successive adult stages in the evolution of the animal's remote ancestors (phylogeny). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recapitulation_theory)
For example, I was born after passing through the series - ichthyic, reptilian, primitive mammalian and so on - in my mother's womb. Wilber extensionally took in this thought of Haeckel. He thinks a human being is born after passing through the stages of the evolution of the universe in the way of involving and transcending. Then, Figure 5 expresses both phylogeny and ontogeny of the universe.
Therefore, the series of development described in the upper-right quadrant of Figure 5 express the exterior evolution of the individual existence in the universe (phylogeny) and the stages of development of an individual of the highest kind—humankind (ontogeny). Of course, it also expresses the levels of development, to one of which the developmental level of any present individual of any kind applies. For example, the limbic system of level 8 expresses primitive mammals which first emerged among mammals in the universe (animals alike mice which are our ancestors) and the most primitive mammals existing now (living mice) which has horizontally evolved, namely phylogeny. But level 8 also expresses the stage of development at which human individuals or other mammalian individuals form limbic system, namely ontogeny. And in the other quadrants of Figure 5, the corresponding situations of evolution or development are described.
Generally speaking, the universe means the whole of the material or objective world. The right part of Figure 5 expresses the exterior of individuals and collective which have emerged in the evolution of the universe. Therefore, we can say the right part of Figure 5 expresses the history of the universe. However, the whole of Figure 5 (both right and left parts) expresses all including both the exterior and the interior. Then, Wilber decided to call the whole including both the exterior and the interior Kosmos for discriminating from the whole of the exterior, or the universe. I would not use the word Kosmos, and instead I would call this worldview expressed by Figure 5 Wilber Cosmology.
Let's examine Figure 5 in more detail. In the point of view of phylogeny the origin expresses the beginning of cosmos including all four quadrants (physically, it is Big Bang), but in the point of view of ontogeny it expresses the birth of individuals. Soon after this origin, atom emerges as the individual-objective existence in the series of phylogeny (upper-right). In this four quadrants theory, it is assumed that every individual has his/her interior, and thus atom has its corresponding interior no matter how primitive it is. In Figure 5, it is called prehension in the upper-left quadrant. With the birth of individual existences, the collective of those also emerges. At the level of atom, the state of collective is a galaxy in the lower-right quadrant. Primitive galaxies would have been different from the present galaxies, but basic properties had emerged at that time. The collective also has its interior complimentary to its exterior, so in Figure 5 the word “material” is written as designating the interior of our galaxy.
The level of molecule in all four quadrants emerged in the way of involving and transcending atom's level in all four quadrants. In such a way of involving and transcending the former level, the next new levels emerged one after another in cosmos. In the sequence, the numerical amount of former level's individuals is larger than the amount of next level's individuals. For instance, because all molecules have atoms as their composition, atoms are necessarily more than molecules. Every mammal involves brain stem which is the essential part of reptilians, and then reptilians are more than mammals (atoms in molecules are counted as atom, similarly the brain stems in mammals are also counted as reptilians in Wilber Cosmology. Therefore, I as a human being am also counted as a mammal and reptilian in Wilber cosmology.)
Next, I'd like to see the level 10, where human beings emerged firstly. In level 10 in the upper-right quadrant which expresses the individual-exterior aspect, the word “complex neocortex” is written. Complex neocortex is a part of a brain which appeared with the emergence of human beings. In the same level 10 in the upper-left quadrant which expresses the individual-interior aspect, the word “concept” is written. The study of Piaget tells us that modern human beings' consciousness ordinally reaches the level of being able to have concept around age 6. The correspondence between the right quadrant and the left quadrant expresses that ordinarily complex neocortex begins to function at the age of 6 when a human being begins to have concepts. In the same level 10 in the lower-left quadrant which expresses the collective-interior aspect, the word “magic” is written. This expresses that the culture of society in which leaders are using concepts as the main tool of recognition is magical. That means people belonged to the culture in which incantations and curses were vividly alive. Maybe such a culture first emerged more than 10000 years ago, but still now there are groups which have a culture at the same level (For example, groups of people who believe in voodoo), and cultural elements at such a level are incorporated in higher cultures in the way of involving and transcending (let's say various unscientific behaviors such as fortune-telling are incorporated in a rational society in the way of including and transcending). In level 10 in the lower-right quadrant which expresses the collective-exterior aspect, the words “horticultural and tribal/village” are written. This means that institutes of political economy of the society in which people belong to a magical culture are horticultural and tribal/village.
In the modern world, at least in so-called advanced countries, the adults who have key roles in the society reach the stage 12, which is the rational level (using formal operation as the main tool of recognition) in the upper-left quadrant. Then, a rational culture is realized in the lower-left quadrant and there is a nation state in the lower-right quadrant. And people at the stage 12 have involved and transcended all the levels below stage 12, so they are members of nation state as rational humans, members of ecological system as animals, members of Gaia as cells, members of our galaxy as atoms, which means the members of the collective at all levels. Saying about the interior aspect, they share a rational culture with others in the higher level and the material intersubjective interior with atoms in the lowest level. If the sequence of phylogeny reaching the human level is a sequence of the evolution of both interior and exterior cosmos, Figure 5 would be said to describe the map of the whole cosmos or a theory of everything.
Comparing Harari's view with Wilber Cosmology
Comparing with four quadrants theory
In Wilber Cosmology, the interior or mind is expressed through the upper-left quadrant in Figure 5. There are the series of sensation, perception, impulse, emotion, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational. This expresses the development of individual's ability of cognition and corresponds to the psychological properties—sensations, emotions and thoughts - in Harari's view. Wilber does not differentiate psychological property and phenomenal property. In Wilber Cosmology, subjective experience (both psychological experience and phenomenal experience) is thought to be gone through by everyone and Wilber does not doubt the existence of the interior involving phenomenal property of others.
The upper-right quadrant expresses individual's body, especially brain's synaptic system which corresponds to its psychological state in the upper-left quadrant. Aside the treatment of phenomenal property, the relation between psychological property and brain's synaptic system in the view of Harari or Chalmers applies to the relation between the upper-left quadrant and the upper-right quadrant in Wilber Cosmology.
The lower-left quadrant is the intersubjective aspect that is the interior people share, roughly speaking, people's common worldview. For example, modern Japanese people's general worldview is rational and the element of the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism and Confucianism have been almost included and transcended. Things like this correspond to the intersubjective realm in Harari's view.
An observable society which has been constructed based on the collective worldview is applied to the lower-right quadrant. Regarding the modern Japanese society, there are institutions of rational political economy and the structure of city, town, and village are constructed corresponding to such institutions.
As shown above, I've briefly reviewed the four quadrants of Wilber Cosmology, and what I pay special attention to is the difference between the lower-left quadrant in Wilber Cosmology - which is also called as intersubjective or culture by Wilber - and the intersubjective realm in Harari's view. Harari's intersubjective realm includes all of the worldviews created through vast amount of communications between people. Therefore, it also includes religion and science. Almost all that can be known to people are seen and expressed thorough this intersubjective realm. Therefore, Wilber Cosmology itself is also a consequence of seeing and expressing the world thorough the intersubjective realm. Then, if I describe Harari's view modeling after Wilber's four quadrants figure, the result
would be like Figure 6. I shall keep the upper-left quadrant intact as individual subjective aspect and in the place of the upper-right I put the objective aspect which unifies both individual and collective and I shall place the vast intersubjective realm at the lower as to hold the two upper aspects. The reason for changing the four quadrants form into such a three-region form is to show that both stuff of subjective mind and stuff of the objective world which involve both individual and collective are acknowledged through the intersubjective realm.
In Figure 6, there remains a problem about how to deal with phenomenal property. If both my consciousness - the existence of which I am convinced of - and others' consciousness - the existence of which I cannot be convinced of - do not have any influence over the passage of the world, it could be one way for us to decide never to be concerned about consciousness or phenomenal property. If we decide so, there would be no special problem about the emergence of the world in which robots are playing leading roles instead of humans. Of course, those robots have psychological properties superior to those of humans, but knowing Wilber's view that consciousness can develop to the transpersonal level or Harari's view that consciousness might develop into the spiritual level, I wouldn't like to make such a decision easily.
Comparison as to the evolution of consciousness
The upper-left quadrant in Figure 5 (Wilber Cosmology) expresses the development of both phenomenal property and psychological property in unity, using terminologies which are used to express the developmental stages of humans' cognitive ability and its highest stage is vision logic (level 13). Wilber states that vision logic is an integral cognitive ability in the dialectic rationality. He states that if the interior aspect of individuals developed beyond vision logic, the developmental stage reaches to the transpersonal level which transcends individual consciousness. Evolution and development are assumed to happen while including and transcending its former stage. Therefore, it is said that there are transpersonal levels of consciousness which transcend individuality but involve the differentiation into individuals. I think it is provable that Wilber had already reached the transpersonal level and he got convinced about the existence of others' consciousness, and he thought, without deep consideration, that everyone has both phenomenal property and psychological property as unity. He also seems to think that not only ordinary self-aware consciousness but also subconscious mental state or deep psyche are parts of consciousness. For Wilber, non-self-aware interior which humans share with animals or a deep psychological level which Floyd or Yung investigated or the levels of deep psyche called manas-vijnana (defiled mental consciousness) and alaya-vijnana (store consciousness) in vijnapti-matrata (a theory that all existence is subjective and nothing exists outside of the mind) of Buddhism are parts of consciousness. He considers that the upper-left quadrant is the interior that includes also both the higher and the lower level of consciousness besides ordinary self-aware consciousness, and he assumes that even molecules and atoms are also individuals and have some kinds of primitive consciousness.
Harari also states about the development of consciousness. He says that there are levels called spiritual which transcends the ordinary level of consciousness. He writes as follows in Homo Deus (I once referred to in this essay);
They (spiritual journeys) usually take people in mysterious ways towards unknown destinations. The quest usually begins with some big question, such as who am I? What is the meaning of life? What is good? (Homo Deus p.215)
He argues that, especially in modern western culture, the investigation into such a special state of consciousness has been neglected. Just like Wilber, he recognizes the way that humans advance to the mystic unordinary state of consciousness.
However, what I'm concerned about in Wilber's thought is that he clearly states that the evolution and development of the interior aspect is psychological properties, especially cognitive ability. Regarding psychological properties (sensation, emotion, thought and so on), they are acknowledged largely through the intersubjective realm, so it is a matter of course that people can talk about them beyond individuals. But if we realize consciousness (phenomenal property) as extremely personal and separable from psychological property, like Harari states, there emerges a possibility that what evolves or develops might be only psychological properties and consciousness might have no relation with the evolution and development. Not only possibility of others' having no consciousness is there, but there is also possibility that consciousness has only the function to sense psychological experiences phenomenally. Or, apart from psychological property which largely relates to the intersubjective realm, the development or evolution of consciousness to the transpersonal level might be recognized.
The view that I constructed by combining what Harari states in Homo Deus about the interior or mind is as follows;
In mind there can be the aspect of phenomenal property and the aspect of psychological property, using the terminologies in Chalmers' thought. Now, while writing this sentence I am actually feeling my thinking process. This undoubtable feeling is phenomenal property. This aspect of mind is, if it exists, the aspect which the experiencer him/herself necessarily comes to know and others never be able to know. I can declare the existence of my phenomenal property, but I cannot be others, so I cannot know others' phenomenal properties nor declare the existence of them. Generally, those phenomenal properties are called consciousness.
Psychological properties are sensation, emotion, thought and so on, so they can be seen as functions of mind. People acknowledge and investigate them and communicate his/her own psychological properties with each other through the intersubjective realm such as concepts or languages. Psychological property is the aspect the existence of which people can recognize each other by communication and is different from phenomenal property which is persistently individual and personal. Maybe we can say psychological properties are the aspect which is beyond individuality.
The idea, especially which I paid attention to in Homo Deus, is decoupling of psychological properties from consciousness. Because of the development of life science and computer science, sensation, emotion, and intelligence are seen as data processing algorithm. By extending this view a little further, it is possible to recognize ordinary functions of mind—sensation, emotion and thought—as algorithms. Therefore, when there emerge robots which are loaded with those algorithms, they would behave entirely the same way as humans. The robots might have more than enough psychological property as humans. And If robots are just machines and there is no possibility that they come to have phenomenal aspect (consciousness) as Harari says, it would be merely contingent that I have both phenomenal aspect and psychological aspect of mind and there would be no necessary relation between both aspects. If so, it is easier for us to accept the possibility that others don't have phenomenal properties or consciousness although they have psychological properties.
Decoupling of psychological properties from phenomenal properties make us think of some possibilities. Just like Wilber, Harari seems to admit the evolution or development of mind and to accept the developmental series of psychological functions such as cognitive ability, desire and so on. It is apparent that the achievement of psychology applies to psychological properties, but if we introduce decoupling of psychological property from phenomenal property, we should think very well about whether both psychological properties and phenomenal properties develop concurrently or not. Phenomenal property which I am feeling now may have no relation to the development, and it may have continued to play the role of merely feeling psychological property since my birth. This idea brings about a tremendously nihilistic possibility.
Phenomenal property (consciousness) - which I feel real more than anything - contingently began to exist at some time after my birth. And there is no relation between my phenomenal property and others' phenomenal properties—the existence of which I cannot know. And there is also no relation between phenomenal property and the evolution and development of psychological property. And my phenomenal property will completely vanish when I die.
Exaggeratedly thinking of such a nihilistic possibility and the possibility of emergence of android which largely excels humans in psychological property (especially intelligence and morality), it seems natural to me that our human-centered history will be followed by the android-centered history and the process of extinct of useless humans will be a trivial episode.
However, as psychological property strongly relates to the vast intersubjective realm beyond individuality, consciousness may independently develop to the transpersonal level. And if others also have phenomenal property, people might come to be able to feel each other's phenomenal property—in other words, people come to be able to be others - by reaching the transpersonal level and recognize irreplaceable values in consciousness, which psychological properties do not have.
Big success of modern western culture tends to conceal the possibility of such developmental way of consciousness and produced the trend to think the ordinary personal level of consciousness would be good enough. But, actually, there are some people who are said to be spiritual, and there are records of such people like buddha, Jesus and so on. Therefore, I strongly assert that, before the future comes when humans become entirely useless, we shall thoroughly confirm the possibility of our general level of consciousness reaching the spiritual or transpersonal level.
Today we live in times when robots which are superior to humans in psychological properties are about to emerge. Thus, I think it is also the times when more and more people should start spiritual practices to examine the existence of others' consciousness and to answer questions whether consciousness can reach the transpersonal level or not, whether consciousness are worth considering in groping for our future or not. It's just an idea, but how about practicing rokuharamitsu - the six virtues (perfections) Buddha elected as practices including meditation to attain supreme enlightenment - in ordinary life, not only for improving efficiency of work or weakening mental stress but also for reaching the higher level of consciousness?
Socrates in ancient Greek or Galileo in renaissance were accused of their rational suggestions in the mythological age. In the mythological age, rational suggestions are often doubted and hated. Entering the modern age, rational suggestions became predominant and people came to look down mythological or magical suggestions because of their lacking rationality. But nowadays, practice of meditation is getting more and more popular among people who are thought as progressive. Possibly, now is the time of a transition period from rational to trans-rational. Now we're in the middle of the period in which an investigation into the transpersonal consciousness is going to be common.
Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, A Brief History of Tomorrow, Vintage, 2017
Norwood Russell Hanson, Patterns of Discovery, Cambridge University Press, 1958, Re-issued 2010
David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press, 1996
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations second edition, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe, Blackwell publishers, 1997 (first published 1953, second edition 1958)
Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Second Edition, Shambhala, 2000 (first published 1995)
Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, Second Edition, Shambhala, 2000 (first published 1996)
Recapitulation theory, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recapitulation_theory
Here, I express my acknowledgement to Mr. Fuyuo Sato, the representative of A WAY HOME.
About a year ago, he helped me on improving the English of my former article, “Consideration on the Upper-left Quadrant of Wilber's Four Quadrants Theory”. This time he helped me again to improve the English of “Decoupling of sense, emotion and thought from consciousness”.
Of course all the consideration explained in this article mine, therefore I have responsibility for all of this.