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On Dualism

“My mind is your mind and your mind is my mind…”
-Random transient, overheard in Golden Gate Park

 

There are several examples that come to mind when considering the separation of body and mind, but I will focus on Descartes 6th meditation.

In Descartes 6th meditation, he mentions that god is capable of bringing forth everything the he is capable of perceiving- including “infallible” mathematics, he claims:

“In so far as they are a subject of pure mathematics, I now know at least that they can exist, because I grasp them clearly and distinctly. For God can undoubtfully make whatever I can grasp in this way, and I never judge that something is impossible for Him to make unless there would be a contradiction in my grasping the thing distinctly”.

Descartes then goes on to claim that imagination is different from pure understanding using the visualization of a chiliagon as an example and true to that claim is the fact the he would have remained the same individual had he lacked one, albeit a less creative one.

In his thinking Descartes keeps going back to god as a creator and separator of things, he imagines god as an entity separate from him in true bondage with his Roman Catholic upbringing, I imagine he nurtured a healthy fear of hell and so could not break through the idea that god, as he calls it, was a part of his mind. (Descartes was a catholic, part of a sect whose symbol is a sun (son)… In fact I have many rebuttals against his argument concerning the existence of god, but that’s not the issue here)
Since god carries too much cultural and theological baggage, I will use the word Mind with a capital M when I refer to cosmic consciousness or Descartes’ sexed, fear inspiring “creator”.

Let us consider what a body is. A body, when observed appears as a singular object. Although a body is not a singular object, a body is composed of organs, organs are composed of cells, which are in turn composed of organelles and a nucleus which carries a double helix of information we call DNA, which is composed of chemical compounds which are composed of atoms which are composed of other microcosmic elements. The Body is a reflection of that pattern, nucleus as to brain and organs as to organelles (actually I think that it may very well be that this pattern goes even further in both directions, modern quantum physics is attempting to reach the miniscule end of that pattern, while astronomers look out and attempt to see its progression and eventual end). Each of these different things all separated within the body to form and allow the body to exist, the cells within just so much a part of the body as the Mind which created it. It may very well be that when Descartes claims understanding to be apart from imagination, or that mind and spirit are essentially distinct from everything else that he is mistaken because if the pattern mentioned above exists, then our body is in fact a part of an even larger body, and the space between is an illusion brought on by the expansion of an initial body (material or immaterial, a thought is also a thing (like money) but is immaterial), separation becomes a question of scale, things only appear separate depending which scale and which perspective is being observed (I remember seeing mating frogs before I understood what mating was and thought they were one really strange frog). Following this logic leads to the conclusion that all is one, and that separation is an illusion necessary to uphold this cosmic occurrence- a very necessary illusion, one which must exist, it Is.

I think that that makes the brain different from the mind, but still a product of it. In accordance to Descartes’ claim as quoted above, Mind could very well have created the brain to perceive itself.


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On Qualia as Intrinsic Properties of Experience

The nature of Qualia, or the qualitative feel of an experience, and their philosophical insinuations have been widely debated in modern philosophy of mind. To attempt to cover all the different views concerning the broad subject of Qualia might be somewhat tedious. Rather, the focus of this paper will be an analysis of Sydney Shoemakers ideas in “Phenomenal Character and Introspection” and an argument for the importance of qualia when considering experience through representationalism and any other theory of consciousness. This seems to be the most plausible place to start in order to display just how vital qualia are to properly understand the nature of subjective experience. For if qualia can be representationally or functionally defined in one way or another it would bring us a little closer to understanding the subjective phenomena that IS[1] consciousness, rather than the phenomena that is human being.

What it’s Like 

The “what it’s like” of an experience is something we can come to understand intuitively, can a person who has never been on a roller coaster completely appreciate what it’s like to ride it just by observing someone else or being told about it, e.i by experiencing it vicariously? Maybe they could tell you what they thought it was like but they could never tell you what it’s actually like, the person riding the roller coaster might find quite a lot of trouble attempting to explain it concisely to the person who has never ridden before. They might use words like: exhilarating, great fun, frightening, etc.. to frame the experience, but that still does not capture the phenomenal character of riding a rollercoaster. Considering this, it can be safe to assume that it could be the case that every single person who gets off the roller coaster would have experienced something completely different than anyone else who has ridden the rollercoaster before. Despite the representational content of the roller coaster itself (fun, speed, loops, twists, steep descents) having more or less similar representational values to those who present themselves before it, we cannot safely say that the physical and cultural properties are the only qualities that shape the experience. Otherwise, it would not be the case that some people appreciate them, and some don’t, even when the people share similar representational attitudes. This is due in part to the qualitative feel of their introspective appreciation of the phenomenal experience. It could be that while riding a person laughs and screams along with the rest of them, but upon finishing the ride they are introspectively aware about the contents of that sensory experience and find that the intrinsic qualities of the phenomenal character were not something they enjoyed. Not for any particular reason, it just wasn’t enjoyable to them. Despite knowing exactly what it’s like to ride one and knowing that the experience ends when the ride ends, something only known to the person who is introspecting results in the experience holding a certain quality. A friend, however, was sitting right next to them and is insisting to go again. The question here is who perceived the rollercoaster ride veridically, with no chance of misperception or misrepresentation? It doesn’t help that we have physical proof how it should feel to go fast then drop, roll, twist, and do loop de loops; if one was to crunch the numbers and find out how much force per square meter was being exerted all along the ride, at each interval, or if one was to ride with electrodes attached to the head to point out which parts of the brain were being activated, would that help to communicate or show the real (veridical) experience of a rollercoaster to the observers in white lab coats who wish to get an objective idea “what it’s like” and maybe compare the results and find a general consensus what it’s like to ride the roller coaster? Even then, wouldn’t that make for a pretty boring and dull ride if the phenomenal character of an experience was somehow known?

Ned Block argues that qualia are non-representational contents of experience, and thus since qualia don’t supervene on representational content, there is no misperception because the nature of the quale is not a representational quality (Lycan, 2000). Is there any way to bridge this gap, and find a tangible approach that will also aid in displaying what role Qualia play without dismissing them as subjective noise?  Shoemaker’s Paper is aimed to provide an example where spectrum inversion is possible and where awareness of representational phenomenal states is accounted for.

Why reject Qualia

Representationalism claims that our experience of an object would be a representation of a property that the object itself has and that that property itself is also perceived representationally. One could call on Qualia to weaken the argument that phenomenal character is a form of representational content, though Sydney shoemaker argues that qualia play an important role in representationalism about phenomenal content, and that it is the case that phenomenal character is  “self-intimating” representational content brought about upon reflection; “it is of the essence of a state’s having a certain phenomenal character that this issues in the subjects being introspectively aware of that character, or does so if the subject reflects” (Shoemaker, 2002).

In order to understand why Shoemaker argues to incorporate and invigorate the role of qualia when considering representationalism in his paper “Phenomenal Character and Introspection” one must understand why representationalism rejects certain forms of qualia. Representationalism assumes that intentionality (or the minds capability to form beliefs, and grasp aboutness) is composed of representational concepts related to the objects and culture in the environment (Jacob, 2003). That is to say, given the above example with the coaster; that an intentional state occurred at the end of the experience is partly due to the particular representation of “Rollercoaster” that was already beheld in the subject’s mind, including the representational sensory input. One does not see a strange thing composed of many different parts, that bears a moving object full of bodies which are making loud noises and guttural sounds as they woosh by. One sees these collections of objects, and occurrences, is conscious of the environment in which they are found, and is aware of the representation “Rollercoaster”, and along with that come all the representations that this entails, depending on previous experiences, culture, age and other such factors. As per some philosophers like Micheal Tye’s views (Tye, 2002), the subjective qualities of phenomenal experience, or qualia of the sensory data in that experience play little to no part in the outcome of the experience. Qualia are rejected because they cannot be functionally defined. There have been numerous debates and much philosophical bickering on how one can prove the existence of qualia, let alone show what role they play in the functional and representational sense. Much of this philosophical bickering takes the form of thought experiments meant to display the existence and meaning of qualia, or their lack thereof.

Shoemakers “humble” Inverted Spectrum

In the original experiment, X’s color experience when viewing a red object is phenomenally identical to Y’s experience when viewing a green object Tom is a special guy whose visual experiences are inverted in respect to his fellow men and women. When Tom looks at red objects, he experiences what it’s like for other people when they look at green objects (Tye, 2002). This inversion is non-detectable by people because Tom has learned the correct words for colors and he uses them normally. This means that when he sees a Tomato, his phenomenal experience differs from ours but the representational one is the same. The difference is the Quale of the visual experience Tom is having. If this case is possible, Representationalism proposes that since both experiences have individually different qualia, they should also have different representational content. This is where some philosophers like Micheal Tye refute the argument by denying the existence of qualia as nonrepresentational, introspectively accessible qualities of experience. They claim such a definition for qualia is a philosophical myth, and that undetectable strong color spectrum inversion is an impossibility; someone in the case is misperceiving (Tye, 1997, 2002).

Shoemaker instills that what is often an issue of discussion concerning spectrum inversions is the possibility of behaviorally undetectable spectrum inversion. This is problematic because it “aggravates the problem of knowledge of other minds”, and because such cases seem to imply that qualia are not functionally definable. His challenge to these problematics is to claim “that it is possible for the visual experiences different creatures have of objects of certain colors to differ in their phenomenal character without any of these creatures thereby misperceiving the colors, and for the visual experiences of two creatures to be alike in phenomenal character when they are viewing things of different colors, again without either of the creatures misperceiving the colors” (Shoemaker, 2002). He goes on to assume that, given the physiological traits of a subject, sensory input can vary and no misrepresentation occurs. The presented example in his paper is of unique hues, as it is known that certain hues are perceived as unique due to the rate at which lights of various wavelengths are absorbed in the retina, since these pigments vary, so do the perceptions of unique hues. There is no good reason to say that some observers correctly get which shades are unique and some of them don’t. Shoemaker claims that this is a valid example of a behaviorally detectable spectrum inversion, he deduces that how things look to us must be in part determined by the nature of our visual and central nervous systems as well as the nature of the circumstance.

If phenomenal character of perceptual experiences entails representational content which consists purely of representational objective properties, then experiences that share the same objective representational content would also share phenomenal character, whether or not the physiological and psychological mechanism of the subjects were similar. This ends up showing that inverted qualia are impossible, since the phenomenal character should be the same as the representational content. so to reconcile the claim that they are possible, Shoemaker holds that among the properties being represented by perceptual experiences are “Phenomenal properties” (not to be confused with the synonym for Qualia, in a note Shoemaker claims this might not have been the best choice of words since they describe an external state) that are represented in the phenomenal content of experiences. According to Shoemaker, “These properties are perceiver relative, in such a way that perceivers can differ in what phenomenal properties they are perceiving the same objects to have while veridically perceiving these objects to have the same objective properties, and in such a way that different perceivers can, when veridically perceiving different objects, perceive the same phenomenal properties even though the objective properties they perceive are different” (Shoemaker, 2002), this means that we perceive colors by perceiving a phenomenal property that is associated with the object. It also holds that different subjects can have different associations with the phenomenal property being veridically perceived as an objective secondary property. Qualia fit into this by taking up the determinant role in terms of the types of phenomenal properties that are being singled out by individual subjects.

This primes the notion that things look a certain way to us when we see them, and if this lingo is used in a color inversion case, we can safely say that things which are red look green to the inverted subject, though the subject says and thinks they look red. There is no difference in the objective properties of the object’s appearance, so there must be another kind of property other than the color (or other objective property). If things look a certain way to someone, there is a type of property which corresponds to that “certain way” and is a property of the object looking a certain way to the observer.

In an attempt to pinpoint these phenomenal properties, Shoemaker gives an account of a case in which a subject is observing a table’s uniformly colored surface, partly covered in shadow. The different parts of the surface will look different to the subject, with no misperception. It is not the case that the objective representational content of the experience when observing one part of the surface differs from the experience of observing the other. The part in shadow, although appearing different, will not look to have a different color. It may look like one part of the table has the objective property of being in shadow or of having a different hue, where the other one lacks that property, but lacking any clues concerning the illumination of the table, the decisive factor is the difference in the way alternate parts of the table’s surface look to the subject. “If their looking different in this way consists in there being different properties they appear to have; these won’t be objective properties, they will be candidates for phenomenal properties”, as per Shoemakers thinking.

Appearance properties
These phenomenal properties, according to shoemaker, contain, or rather include Occurent appearance (OAP) properties, and Dispositional appearance properties (DAP). OAPs are properties that “cause, in a certain way, an experience of sorts”; they are instantiated when the observed object has a direct property that makes it look a specific way to the observer. DAPs are capable of producing an experience of a certain kind, in the correct observer who has the correct relation to the property. Dispositional appearance attitudes are borne when the observed property is inclined to produce a certain experience in some observers if the observer happen to bear a dispositional relation to that property. In previous papers that shoemaker has written concerning the subject of qualia inversion, he hadn’t taken that into consideration when choosing an observer or observed property, oversimplifying the thought experiment. Since each shade of color will have several different occurent appearance properties, observing it to have one of these many OAP’s is enough to say it has that specific shade. The observer will also have dispositional attitudes which should be considered, and the observer will experience a DAP if they are the right sort of observer and have some relation to the object in the correct way, as well as the correct circumstance. These dispositions will always implement the instantiation of an DAP, given the scope of possibility here, it is safe to say that there are as many if not more dispositional appearance properties as occurent appearance properties, due to the fact that sometimes it is the same OAP that instantiates different DAP’s in diverse observers.

In the case of colors, some will have OAP’s that bear a close relationship to it, relative to the kind of observer perceiving it. So, the certain way a color appears to look to someone observing it will be representative of a certain OAP that the specific color has in relation to the dispositional character of the observer and their environment. Appears to look, is to say that something is looking a particular way, and as there have been many arguments on the subject of the epistemological use of these words by Fred Dretske, Shoemaker goes through three ways things might look to an observer. He gives the example of a particular shade that looks blue, meaning there has to be an imagined way blue shades should look in the observer’s mind as a base to compare, this he calls the “canonical” sense of looking a certain way. If we are looking for an objective point of reference though, this can seem to be a very ambiguous term, hence the introduction of the “Doxastic” way of looking; the observer believes that shade looks blue, and the observer’s experience is taken at “face value” when they say that shade looks blue to them. Even then, describing a shade in such a fashion is still very vague and does nothing to point out which OAP it has that is currently being observed. By discussing these different epistemologies of the term, shoemaker is attempting to figure out which OAP is giving the experience its phenomenal character. It pertains that the focus for Shoemaker’s train of thought is the “phenomenal” sense of “looking” a certain way to the correct observer. “if F is a color then something looks F in the phenomenal sense if a painter would use F pigment to represent how it looks” (Shoemaker, 2002). He then goes on to say that things appearing (in the doxastic sense) to have certain objective properties is grounded in their looking phenomenally a certain way, but that the transition from the way things appear in the phenomenal sense, to the objective properties they have, and appear to have, rests on several contingencies. Such as facts about illumination conditions, the spatial relation of object and observer, and how these combine with the objective properties of a thing to determine how it will look phenomenally to the observer, depending what kind of visual system the observer actually has.

It is apparent that there are many things to take into consideration other than simple facts about why and how an object is perceived or misperceived, especially when considering this under representational ideals, and especially when attempting to find a phenomenal property that our experience represents.

Shoemaker’s Veridicality

Unless one was unwittingly dosed with a psychedelic entheogen and was hallucinating, there is something (an OAP) that phenomenally appears to have a certain quality in their perceptual experience of a given thing, and claiming otherwise would seem to be implying that they were constantly in a state of hallucination. Hence, since we are not hallucinating when we say, something looks a certain way, and the correct appearance properties are observed, we are still having a veridical experience. The appearance properties have to be taken into account. If something that is not blue appears blue in the doxastic sense, this is a fair case of misperception and can be said not to be veridical. We cannot say the same for the case of it appearing blue in the phenomenal sense, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a case of misperception. One example given in Shoemakers paper is that snow often phenomenally looks blue depending on the circumstances, and it is not a case of misperception, nor one of dispositional attitude. It is a case of observing a white surface under a certain circumstance, and its having the phenomenal appearance of the canonical way blue things look.

Veridicality, according to Shoemaker, can now be defined like this: “for an experience of a thing to be veridical, the way the thing appearsp must be such that a thing’s appearingp that way to an observer of that sort in those circumstances would not count as misperception” (Shoemaker, 2002).  Appearsp being the way something looks in the phenomenal sense. The thing being experienced then, must also have a dispositional property of sorts that can be experienced in that phenomenal sense when being observed by an observer who is correctly oriented/related towards it (given that the observer has a normally functioning perceptual system). Now we can put all these different variables together and say that the veridicality of a phenomenal visual experience (appearancep) requires that something has the OAP of appearingp that way, as well as the DAP of appearingp to someone who is viewing it under the correct conditions for that OAP and DAP to coincide. This reasoning can lead to the notion that such an experience represents the instantiation of both sorts of properties.

Shoemaker goes on to mention yet another appearance property that

could be shared by all things that are disposed to appear, in the way mentioned above, to observers situated in a certain way respective to the thing being observed. “This will be the higher order property of having one or another of the dispositional appearance properties which can manifest themselves in an instantiation of a given occurrent appearance property, and will be a property that a perceived thing will have just in case it has that occurrent appearance property” (Shoemaker, 2001).

These “Higher-order” DAPs along with the associated OAP’s, can be said to be the properties that may be represented by our experiences. Shoemaker argues that If something appears phenomenally a certain way, it is imperative to the veridicality of the experience that the thing have the higher-order DAP of appearing phenomenally in such a way. He argues that having an experience such as that puts the observer in a position to judge that the perceived object does indeed have that property.

Shoemakers concluding argument

Even if the above mentioned appearance properties were denied to be perceived and represented in perceptual experience, it will still hold to say that because things appear phenomenally to us in certain ways, do we perceive them as having distinct properties. It will also be true that the introspective awareness we have concerning the nature of our experiences will reflect the way things look to us. Shoemaker proclaims this with much conviction: “If anything deserves to be called the phenomenal character of our experiences, it is the part of their introspectable nature that reflects how things look, feel, taste, smell, or sound to us” (Shoemaker, 2001).

I would like to give an analogous example to support this, let us assume that a given person who has no access to wine, has read all there is to know about drinking and tasting wine. This person has accumulated all the possible knowledge that concerns this field, and has introspected about the subject to no end. This person also has a normal nervous/perceptual system in respect to their species. Is this enough raw data for the person to credibly say that they might as well have tried wine and can tell you the subtle differences in their types as well as describe their taste with accuracy? I would think not, since what is lacking is the raw feel of the wine itself on that person’s tongue, the taste of it and the phenomenal character of the sensory experience as well as the qualia of it all, it could be that upon tasting wine they find the taste to be nothing like what has been described in the literature, or that it’s more like Author X’s interpretation than author Y’s. This is not misperception; neither him or the authors are wrong. The objective representational content is all present, but the phenomenal character along with the appropriate appearance properties were purely imagined by the person. In a sense, the doxastic appearance properties were represented in the literature and as a result represented in the reader’s mind canonically rather than phenomenally. The phenomenal aspect of it does not exist and so the representation is not valid or sound until the experience is phenomenally validated. According to Shoemaker, if phenomenal character is part of the represented content of our experiences then the aforementioned appearance properties are the only candidates for being the properties that are represented. If it is not the case that they are being represented, then representationalism about phenomenal character is false.

The essential argument of Shoemaker’s paper is not to only to argue for representationalism about phenomenal content, but also for representationalism to be acceptable, it must primarily allow that the properties whose representation provide phenomenal character are phenomenal properties in Shoemaker’s sense. Secondarily, that in allowing such properties, representationalist must allow for phenomenal character to be independent of the objective representational content of experience in a fashion that would allow for cases of inverted and non-human qualia.

Shoemaker’s take on Qualia

          One could say that Shoemaker’s view on phenomenal character so far, can be applied without the introduction of qualia. He pertains that this can be done by claiming that the appearance properties in question are instantiated from a state of being appeared to, which are states that represent these appearance properties, and cause this state of “being-appeared-to”. This seems like a very circular argument, and to break out of it while holding true to his premises, he fine tunes the definition of appearance properties to simultaneously define both the appearance properties and the states of being appeared to, by using the Ramsey-Lewis technique. This technique as developed by Frank Ramsey and David Lewis, allows for terms found in a theory to be defined by the assertions of the theory itself (Lewis, David, 1970). Though, while doing this, Shoemaker points out the problem of not accounting for states of being appeared to in “creatures” of another kind and not accounting for the distinction of appearance properties and intrinsic objective properties. Also, this definition invokes the notion of sameness when considering appearance properties, that essentially means that the object itself has to have the same potential for a given appearance property given the correct conditions. Shoemaker suggests that this notion be applied intrasubjectively in order to support the definition, this would aid in extending this definition to the case of color inverted qualia and alien qualia by taking into account the psycho-social relationship between a given creature and the rest of their social niche. The unrefined product of this thinking yields the following definition as per Shoemaker:
“The state of being appearedp blue to and the property of appearingp blue are the unique state S and the unique property P such that S represents P, someone is in state S just in case the way something looks to him is the way blue things look to us under optimal conditions, and something is P just in case it is producing state S in some observer (in a way that does not involve misperception), or is disposed to produce S in some sort of observer.”  This is still rough and in need of refinement. But plainly any account of these properties and states needs an account of sameness of state of being appeared to.”

As quoted, there has to be a kind of sameness applicable to states of being-appeared-to which is not only defined in respect to which property is being represented. Shoemaker thinks that the only acceptable sense of sameness is one that is defined in terms of qualitative character, and is functionally valid. This is where qualia come in as the media which deliver the representations of a perceived object’s appearance properties, they are properties in “virtue of which they stand in relations of qualitative similarity and difference” (Shoemaker, 2001). These relations will be defined in functionalist terms when they are considered intrasubjectively.

I think This is clear when one considers the socially agreed upon similarities and differences we constantly use to differentiate between experiences and to recognize objects, if qualia aid to bring these qualitative similarities or differences to light, their functional role is hard to refute. Shoemaker is saying that Phenomenal experiences of the same objective property may differ qualitatively, but once illumination conditions and the relation of the observer to the observed is determined, so is the sameness of the objective representational content, and so is the sameness of qualitative phenomenal content. What needs to be further pinpointed is how realization of qualia in instantiated properties occurs. Shoemaker does this by discussing the contingency, in the case of objective properties, that a given quale will represent a particular instantiated property and that this quale is “multiply realizable” depending on the introspective, intrasubjective nature of the observer.

In a functionalist sense, perceptual experiences were categorized in respect to an evolutionary history by being attributed to certain vital functions, representative of the functional (not physical-according to Shoemaker) environment in which they were experienced- aiding in the generation of beliefs about that environment. This obviously helps determine, to some extent, how a given subject discriminates and recognizes these experiences, thus allowing for “Multiple realizability” of phenomenal properties and heterogeneity in objective ones. Thus according to Shoemaker, “it is qualia that type the experiences, and thus it is that qualia contingently represent the objective environmental features they do”.

Why are qualia so important?

          To sum up Shoemakers ideas, his view in the paper “Introspection and Phenomenal Character” can be vitalized by his claim:

“Contents of perceptual experiences include representations of properties of external objects (or parts of our bodies) which things have in virtue of appearing to us, or being disposed to appear to us, in certain ways, these being what I Call phenomenal properties, and that the phenomenal character of experiences that we are introspectively aware of is this part of their representational content.” (Shoemaker, 2002)

Now that we have functionally defined Qualia in shoemaker’s sense, and found the properties in which they are represented, we can surmise that qualia and experiences are intrinsic to each other, and that how things appear to us and the different and similar ways they do appear shape our reality. On the topic of Conscious Experience, Fred Dretske mentions that what makes experience conscious is that the experience makes us conscious of something else – namely our bodies and the world we live in (Dretske, 2002). Shoemaker argues that we are also introspectively aware of the phenomenal properties that shape these experiences. Given all the ideas that shoemaker presents to support that the intrasubjectivity involved in the matter takes on a rather important role in fixing a point of reference for qualia to be defined, and especially in determining the outcome of the multiple realizablility of phenomenal properties. Can we objectively lead discussions concerning the nature of consciousness and one’s phenomenal experience therein without accounting for all the possible forms of creature (and perhaps other, yet unknown forms of) consciousness?

If you were a representationalist, it would not make much sense to say that you are objectively discussing something so grand as consciousness in terms of one facet of its representation, or discussing only the contents of OUR perceptual experiences, respectively; the represented phenomenal properties intrasubjectively and introspectively accessible to us. This is one reason I was so attracted to Shoemakers paper, as it took into consideration Alien/inverted Qualia and phenomenal character and attempted to integrate these notions clearly in the representationalist view as well as show that they can be at least conceptually possible. It was my firm intuitive belief that phenomenal character is intrinsic to understand the nature of experience and I think that Shoemaker was able to fit phenomenal character and representationalism logically together, confirming my belief. It is also strange to see functionalists such a Daniel Dennet quickly dismiss an idea due to its subjective nature. After all, according to ancient sophist dogma, there are 3 parts to philosophy Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. Why choose to ignore a facet of that trinity due to its subjective and intimate nature? Pathos can be related to the nature of qualia, in that it is essentially a type of feel, a way to look, or at the ontological level a way to Be. If as Shoemaker suggests our introspective awareness of that deep ontological level is available to us in terms of the qualia that aid in representing what we sense and experience, then it is no wonder that there are so many different ways to look at the same thing, even if that thing is consciousness. To attempt to unify a Universe (or possibly multiverse) worth’s of possibility under one theory of consciousness using only representational content known as logic and the objective credibility of science without considering and revaluating the intuitive and intimate would be the equivalent of the man in the above example who thinks he might as well have drunk wine, despite never having actually drunken any.

 

Bibliography

Chalmers, D. j. (2002). Philosophy of mind classical and contemporary readings. New York : Oxford University Press.

Dretske, F. (2002). Concious Experience . In D. j. Chalmers, Philosophy of Mind classical and contemporary readings (pp. 422-433). New York: Oxford University Press.

Shoemaker, S. (2002). Introspection and Phenomenal Character. In D. j. Chalmers, Philosophy of mind classical and contemporary readings (pp. 457-472). New York: Oxford University Press.

Tye, M. (2002). Visual Qualia and Visual Content Revisited . In D. j. Chalmers, Philosophy of mind classical and contemporary readings (pp. 447-456). New York: Oxford University Press.

Lycan, W. (2000). Representational Theories of Consciousness. Retrieved September, 2016, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness-representational/

Tye, M. (1997). Qualia. Retrieved September, 2016, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia/

Jacob, P. (2003). Intentionality. Retrieved October 03, 2016, from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intentionality/

[1] Parmenides- Being IS “Never must you think that nothingness can be”


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Functionalism and Qualia

I have chosen to write this essay in hopes of displaying the importance of non-absolution, abstraction, and subjectivity when it comes to considering topics in the philosophy of mind. Many philosophers today try very hard to utilize objective methods to try and grasp a very subjective field. In fact some philosophers like Dennet consider Qualia and the subjective experience a nuance and go so far as to say we don’t experience colors. There is a certain rigidity when analyzing these complex philosophical issues with the intention of determining an absolute truth while persistently utilizing anthropomorphic labels to decorate said truths. This essay will explore functionalism and its constant struggle with qualia, and whether or not qualia even matter anyway. There will be a few allegorical examples onto which functionalist ideas are imposed, as well as a few criticisms concerning the idea of a unified theory of mind.

When considering functionalism, it seems that a fundamental quality, shared by all living things (yes all living things, plants and microscopic eukaryotes and prokaryotes, all things which contain Nucleic acids or other yet unknown elements of life), is left out of the equation; perception (wahrnehmung in German, literally translates to truthtaking).  Perception takes the form of qualia when viewed in terms of physical and mental states, experiences and thoughts possess different qualities for each of us. Let us observe a short scene, please do excuse its graphic nature.

A person, shackled and bound hangs from a chain in a dark cellar, their back is bloody because it is being whipped. Echoing in the background is the constant sound of nails being dragged against a blackboard, it goes without saying that the person’s genitalia is also being abused in some way. The person is begging for it NOT to stop, and despite wincing facial expressions they giggle each time they’re whipped because that person is a masochist and actually enjoys the feeling of pain. Marquis de Sade wrote volumes about this.

What would a functionalist have to say about that scene?

A functionalist might claim that in this case the mental desire of wanting to be in pain (inner state) is caused by some deviation in psychological development which brings forth an anomaly in their folk psychology, and that actually feeling pain fulfills the function of correcting that deviation or compensating for it. Fine, but does the functionalist actually account for the fact that maybe the person in question actually feels pleasure from that pain, that maybe the sensation actually possess a different quality to it and that’s why it is sought out? A functionalist might then not call that pain, but rather pleasure since it is fulfilling the role of pleasure, though then again all the signs of pain are there: bodily injury, wincing, being bound in order not to flinch, severe bleeding etc. The functionalist wants to call this pleasure without acknowledging that its pain the masochist seeks. In fact this is a great example to speculate on why trying to find an absolute truth is redundant when considering states of mind. The reason being; we are not empathic enough to experience another state outside ourselves. For the bound masochist, pain and pleasure overlap to form a sensation no non-masochist could experience. Pain and pleasure are both sensations, sensations are bodily reactions to the physical world, the very individual quality of those sensations is what gives these sensations form.

If there was a chance for a functionalist to account for qualia, they might have to be machine functionalists. The biological nature of being promotes self-preservation, and it may be the case that self-preservation is the essential role of avoiding a negative sensation such as pain. Taking that into consideration, along with the idea that there is a sort of Turing Machine in the brain that accounts for every single possibility out there and is fine-tuned enough to detect the perceptions of the individual and their present physical/mental states, could explain why our masochist is enjoying themselves. A machine functionalist might state that the person has a set algorithm in their brain (set by whom? Or what? Mayhap the all-seeing meyedia and their consumption engine’s superstar representatives which the person follows on twitter) which dictates- when feeling –Ax1 (pain for person x1) under circumstance Bx1 (sexual stimulation for person x1) then +Ax1 (pleasure for person x1) will be perceived. Though even then, we are not taking into consideration the very essence of the qualia, or what makes it so different for that person, obviously the sensation would vary from masochist to masochist, some might even appreciate different, more brutal forms of pain or mutilation-consider auto-erotic asphyxiation as an example where pain does not serve its primary function of keeping a body alive. How many deaths have occurred thanks to that fetish? My point here is that one needs to be careful not to be tricked into allowing Mind to be categorized under a programmable objective thing, which can be observed using the old rigid scientific method.

The idea that Qualia exist puts a large dent in schools of thought that assume to place an absolute law onto the conscious phenomena. As Ned Block displays in his Chinese giant homunculi experiment, despite the homunculi being a functional robotic being, it is unlikely that it will experience a qualia, the china-robot cannot have an inner experience. This is also displayed by the inverted qualia thought experiment, where 2 functionally identical people with inverted qualia are asked to look at a color or shape and describe it. The internal experience is different to the qualia-inverted person and no one can tell because the informational output is exactly the same. We cannot know for sure that we all share the same qualia even though most of us are functionally similar. The taste of broccoli is a testament to that fact. Experiencing Qualia happens when sensory information is processed through the mind’s eye and is reflected off the many mirrors of the self, presenting the sensation in a frame we can egotistically perceive. Qualia make us who we are, but are they necessary when considering ideas that go beyond our simple humanity? Daniel Dennet would have us believe they aren’t and that we were all qualia-negative philosophical zombies, a convenient rationale (Dennett, D. C. Consciousness Explained). I have to disagree, strongly. Qualia are what shape our collective state, or reality, they are the key to understanding the very notion of a collective experience, think the Chinese robot, only sentient, on a universal scale sending all that collective input to a universal MIND (the universe as an inner state?), while venting the output through life.

Functionalism can’t account for qualia when experiencing a mental state under another frequency of consciousness, namely the psychedelic experience; where qualia take on a much more pervasive form and make absolutely no sense to the outside observer. A person in the midst of an intense psychedelic experience will be immersed in that state and might be unable to differentiate between collective reality and personal qualia. This type of experience as elicited by external and internal sources (according to M.D Rick Strassman the body produces N,N-Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, one of the strongest psychedelic substances known to man) puts a dent in the attempt to find some kind of unified theory of mind because it proves the utter importance of qualia when it comes to perceiving reality and differentiating between inner and outer states. On a personal note, my experiments with psilocybin mushrooms had me feeling a little psychic, experiencing bodily sensations I never thought possible, and seeing things in a whole different light. During a psychedelic experience, the way things look to you become very clear very quickly. This can be seen in Huxleys doors of perception as he begins describing the quality of the objects in his surroundings whilst under the effects of mescaline, he mentions how the flowers he was looking at seemed alive and breathing, their color magnificent and somehow belonging to the very essence of the flower itself. He remarks then “These are the sort of things people ought to look at. Things without pretensions, satisfied to be merely themselves.” Remark the attribution of self to something like a plant, how do you feel about that? Another great Academic example is the experience of Daniel Breslaw, a student who undertook a documented psilocybin trip. His notes state that at one point the room he was in was fifty feet tall, then suddenly shrank to two feet. The doctor who was observing seemed to Breslaw to have lice crawling over his face. To him the hallucinations were more vivid that real experiences, their reality only questioned due to the knowledge of his intake. Many functionalists and scientist claim this is due to an abnormal activation in the visual system and the brain, caused by the substance and dopamine excess. None of them touch onto something all psychedelic users learn as soon as the ego collapses, Life is but a grand hallucination and we are very curious. Perception is important! The mind perceives what it wants when it wants how it wants. Daniel Breslaw’s most notable and applicable remark was “With eyes closed, one is not here but inhabits a distant world of abstractions. But with eyes open, one glances around the physical universe with curiosity.” It is this distant world of abstractions, that we are so interested in and continually grasp for, alas, using concretion. How can such a subjective and abstract notion be put under objective and scientific constraints?

Can a functionalist account for qualia? My understanding is only if qualia is a byproduct of function. Internal thought processes are there to serve a specific function, if possessing qualia increases the ability for said function to be performed successfully then it could exist, but it exists thusly in respect to folk-psych and is mostly parasitic in nature, it also complicates things a lot when considering things from non-human or non-typical human perspectives.

This is why I would like to stress a little on why empathy is important. Pain is a word we humans made up to describe that state to other humans, try and explain that your head aches to an alien, what kind of language do you use? Do you point at your head and wince? Wincing might or might not be an exclusively human behavioral response to pain. Do you point to your head and make a chopping motion with your hand? You might get decapitated, no headache anymore. Do you moan and groan while holding your head in your hands? That could mean “I am happy and want a belly rub” to them. Ideally the way to bring this information forth to an intelligence/sentience that bears no resemblance to your own could be to share the state itself telepathically and/or empathically. Though alas, we have not fine-tuned that ability yet. Seems to work with dogs and cats who learn to recognize and respond to our consciousness and sentience, (remember Lassie?) sadly our fuzzy friends appear much more empathic and intuitive than we, but hey, we have smart phones!

Here again, we have a point against labeling and searching for absoluteness. There can be an infinite amount of individual consciousness in the universe, and trying to apply one idea to that entire physical and metaphysical space is, to be polite, megalomaniacal. Labeling an idea and attributing it to a certain type of individual or individual perception doubly so, it is utter fallacy! Yes, I use this word very knowingly, and will not be swayed by an appeal to authority, it is fallacious to claim any absolution in this school of thought. As Socrates once said all I know is that I know nothing. The point being is that unless Functionalism, or Identity-type theory, or monism, or dualism, or any ism, y or ist makes room for individual anomalies and constant change as well as applications to non-human beings then they are no closer to being empirical truths or relevant theories than the phrase “these snozzberries taste like snozzberries”. This means nothing to someone who has never had a snozzberry and the dirty joke will go past anyone with a pure human mind*.

My personal view is that beings are naturally not function-filling machines but rather living, growing entities, constantly changing and occurring, regardless of logical processes, causal law or folk-psychology. Free Being expressed by Will. To me functionalism seems like only a small improvement on behaviorism and cognitivism. Having taken note of free will and the internal space in which we exist (cognition) is a great improvement, Pavlov would have had a fit! In fact, I feel like many of these modern ideas concerning the nature of mind and consciousness suffer not only from a lack of objectivity but also from what Nietzsche would have called slave mentality rhetoric. These ideas appear to be rooted in the need to find an exclusive, absolute truth for sake of the metaphysical solace extrapolated from portraying ourselves as the almighty Sentient Human being. It seems like an endeavor to seek egoistic perfection and social status as opposed to searching for and composing an intrinsic, holistic, non-separatist, lateral solution to these philosophical issues without designating socio-anthro labels (isms) and glorifying anthropomorphic fallacies. It is true that egocentrism is key in developing a theory of mind and identity, this is apparent in the human growing process as well, but in order for us to collectively grow and understand things, anthropomorphism must be overcome.

References

Chalmers, David John. Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. New York: Oxford UP, 2002. Print.

 

Sacks, Oliver. Hallucinations. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Print.

 

* see Roald Dahl’s hidden Snozzberry joke from “My uncle Oswald” and “Charlie and the chocolate factory”, he apparently uses snozzberry as a euphemism for penis.

 


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Sum of One

Science has lost it’s credibility, this whole AI craze has got me thinking.
Observing a process will change it, measurement is objective and finding results exclusively with those two dogmas is doxastic and only applicable to matter. we perceived the microscopic and the macroscopic without the use of tools, just read some presocratic phil, we’ve been on a hunt ever since. Now we are so obsessed we smash things perceived and named “atoms” by the almighty human to find even smaller self perceived parts of a much greater whole invisible to that unholy eye-atop-an-equilateral-triangle. we try desperately to bring forth a consciousness other than our own, like some twisted masturbation. something we can communicate with that is a reflection of ourselves. we forget that consciousness is no thing, but rather some one (sum one… forgive the pun).

Are we really such lonely a creature amongst this plethora of stardust, energy and colliding planes of being?


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The Parable of Origin

Ancient Titans play their games; Stasis and Flux don their staves.
Each their will and way; they circle one another in disdain.
Pushing and Pulling they remain, infinitely thus ordained.
Yet some foul day a catalyst would array, and tip that balance away.
-The Elder Prophecy
  

A motionless center is surrounded by an everlasting cyclone; a duality that reverberates throughout the ages. Guided by a force much greater than simple intention, a vessel approached the fulcrum of all Being.

The Lookout

In the grey hours of the morning, a groggy lookout sat precariously in his crow’s-nest watching the mist swirl about the seas. He was glad that morning had come, as this would mark the second day of his lookout shift. Tired, wet, and isolated he sat, eyes set ahead in determination, desperately seeking something.  Soon, once the morning sun broke the horizon line, the first mate would announce shift change and he could get some much-needed rest, but until then he held his eyes wide open.

The Pearl of Faith had embarked on a perilous journey across the Seas and through the impassable storm towards a sacred end. It had been weeks since they had burst through the eternal storm, with the help of the priest, and into the Forgotten sea. Yet still, their destination eluded them.

The lookout stared drearily across the waters, and silently cursed the events that had dragged him away from his land and family and onto this cold and lonely station. What could he have done when they had come to his home town of Hadath looking for a Sharp-eye to join the crew? His oath prevented him from declining a direct request from a high priest. The priests expected utter submission from those who worked the land, especially if one was born with the gift of a lesser divine-gene and had to swear fealty to the First. Insolence and oath breaking were severely punishable, the worst cases usually ended in public execution. He only hoped that in his absence his eldest son would deal reverently with the priests which came by each week to provide coin and collect the weeks mined ore. Priests never did seem like the trustworthy types to him anyway, with their lush purple robes and Mind-Gene tricks, always preaching Imbalance and chaos. They certainly were, however, hungry for iron ore. He chuckled to himself thinking of the Priest sleeping soundly in his cabin below, and how he had fret at dinner the other night when he was served the same slop as the rest of them.
He was interrupted from his thoughts by a dark speck slowly resolving itself in the distance, despite the thick mist that had been plaguing the vessel for the past 2 weeks, his enhanced vision could make out a faint outline in the distance. Stunned, he willed his vision to see further and pierce the thick mist. Sure enough, he made out the shape of an island. He reached over with numb hands and began to ring the rusty bell which hung off the mast.

“By the Will….” he whispered. They had finally made it.

 

 

The Priest

The Priest woke to the muffled sound of feet slapping the deck and bustling activity as the crew came suddenly alive. Shaken to awareness by a loud and commanding voice bellowing orders, he sat up and listened to the cacophony on the deck, a realization blooming in his sleep-addled mind.

“Stow those Sails!”, he heard the first mate yelling. “Prepare the oars and get ready to row, men!”

The priest started, shocked into wakefulness. What is this? He thought. After 6 long months, had this tedious and uncompromising journey actually come to an end? What would await them upon their arrival? Apprehension grew in him, so he stood hastily and yelped as he bumped his head on an overhead beam. He reached up with a once well-manicured hand to check for a wound while ducking under the beam exaggeratedly. Luckily the only damage was a sharp throbbing, which left him wishing his steward was there to run him a hot bath and ease his discomfort with a grooming. He uncomfortably glanced to the dull barrel, which stood in the corner of his room, and was acutely aware of his present situation- There would be no steward or bath. In fact, there was barely any water left for a wash. He walked over to check the water level and saw that the barrel was nearly empty, save for a measly pool of brownish water at the bottom. He reached in with a cupped hand and slurped some of it up, cringing at the bitter, woody taste.

The captain had refused to refill his barrel on account of the crew’s needs, the Principle he called it. He hadn’t even listened to the arguments the Priest had given concerning his significance in this mission. He was the high priest of the church of Revolution after all, the one entrusted with the duty of Divine messenger! This mission was hopeless without him! He was the only one on board with a Mind-gene, which made him capable of understanding things no normal man could fathom, and hence deliver the Will of a God. Only he could harness the magnificent power of the Origin and survive the ordeal. Only he had the Will to receive it. Still, he had to eat and drink like a lowly lesser-divine sailor! The fact that he could attune his Mind to tap all the sensory divine-genes gave him a power not many men could challenge but still, using his Power-Gene, the captain ordered that water and food be shared evenly upon his vessel. This gene brought all to subservience while on the ship. Subservience! An authority only the church should be able to command, but direct descendants of the First Exile were all born with the ability to influence the Minds of those who swore the Oath. The church had paid a large portion of Iron for that crooked captains services, his silence was paramount. For too long have the ancient scriptures and Power-genes of the First limited the churches Evolution. He knew that would all change soon though, and that knowledge had given him some respite on the trip. But if he failed all would have been in vain… He couldn’t! The Priest would succeed, had to succeed.  Yet, despite his wavering confidence, his faith had taught him well; The Will of Revolution always got its way.

He walked over to his adorned wooden chest and pulled the heavy lid up. He would wear his most lavish robe today. The one stitched from dyed minx fur, its hood lined with bright peacock feathers that cascaded down the back of the robe and made the wearer seem fierce yet noble if worn correctly. He pulled it over his head and let it drop down to his feet, then turned the hood up over his head. He then picked out a beautiful white velvet stole and adjusted it so that the ends fell around his shoulders and crossed securely at the chest. He quickly inspected himself on a crude metal sheet the captain had brought in after he had rebuked him for the lack of accommodation in the cabin. Principle or no Principle, he would not live like a beast.

Satisfied with his appearance, the Priest whispered a solemn prayer to thank Revolution for this blessed and unpredictable day and reached for his Staff of Mind. He left his cabin and made his way to the deck in a slow, deliberate, pace so as not to trip over his robes. His ascent up the stairs was ever so elegant, something he achieved despite the rocking boat by using his Mind-gene to enhance Grace. He was the Divine Emissary, stumbling was not acceptable.

As he walked up onto the deck, he was greeted by a frenzy of bustling sailors. None of which even bothered to stop and hail as they should have. He stood there looking slightly irritated and focused his Sight, throwing his gaze towards the island slowly appearing on the horizon, and away from the bustling sensory overload which was currently the deck.
“Oy! Priest!” a crewmate in passing asked without using the proper honorific, “ye ken she burns like the Book of Revolution says?”
Ignoring the insolent sailor, he focused his Mind and using Greater Perception, was able to make out an island in the distance, its single smoldering peak reaching up into the sky. He boosted his hearing and heard a distinct droning hum emanating from it. A warm pleasant sensation began to crawl through him and knew that the insufferable months of indefinite travel were finally over. They had returned where The First had been exiled for believing in the Power of Revolution, swearing to abandon the Power of Origin. This was it! The Origin was within reach! He could feel the Will of Revolution stir within him as if awakened by the droning hum emanating from somewhere deep within the island. The power to destroy worlds would be his to take. The Church would finally break the influence the First had over them and reign the coming era of Chaos for themselves.

The Watcher

The Watcher hummed the Hymn of Sight and considered his duty. His father had been a Watcher, and his father’s father too, as were all his forefathers. And now, it all ended with him. The Holy Constant buzzed in the background, the island vibrating with the intensity of it, its pulse reverberating through the worlds. He stood on his perch above the clouds on the peak of Mount Haleka watching the distant vessel approach in silent disbelief.

He wore a glowing Q’aba jewel on his forehead, which contained a sliver of the Hearth and pulsated along with the Constant- the humming vibration that the Origin emitted, the anchor of worlds which kept the Eternal Storm at bay. A warm bear-fur cloak covered his strong shoulders and he was bare chested underneath despite the cold. A massive sword hung at his waist, and in his hand, he carried the large blazing staff which he had used to ignite the monolithic warning beacon that would notify the people of the prophesized return. The beacon, built over the generations, was so large that it had to be built around the mountain peak itself, and now it burned.
Many generations ago, the first Watcher climbed the mountain to act as guardian of the Holy Constant’s Power, for it had been foretold that one day in the future, the children of the Exiled First, which had been tainted by the Will of Revolution, would return to claim the Power of Origin and use it to tip the balance. Sure enough, that day had come.

The Watcher raised his free hand to shade his eyes as he looked away from the incoming boat to solemnly take in the rising sun. The mountain blazed above him, its fiery heat prickling his skin, he began to hum the Hymn of Courage. The tone of his voice merged with the Constant harmoniously and formed an inspirational resonance that calmed him, and helped him focus on the task at hand. The children of Origin could enhance and share many emotions this way.

Everyone would be humming Courage on this day, for today Courage would determine the result. The Watcher looked towards the town center and saw that the community on the island had begun its journey into the Hearth, the hallowed crystal Caverns deep in the heart of Mount Haleka, where the Holy Constant’s hum originated, and the Power would be created. The people would strengthen the Holy Constant and hum the correct hymn when the time was right, acting to provide the watcher with the Power of Origin so he could face the Agent of Revolution. If he succeeded in drawing the Will of Revolution into him, then he would hold the power of creation in his hand. He unconsciously began to Hum Resolve along to the Constant as he made his way to the coast to face his burden, his hand resting on his Bastard Sword. The Origin would survive this.

The Child

She stood before the crevice which led to the Hearth, hand clasped in her mothers, watching the people lined up to enter behind them. Not so many left, she saw, and they all hummed Courage. The Hymn was spectacular, though despite the waves of courage that shook her, the mouth of the caves frightened her. It looked suspiciously like a gaping mouth waiting expectantly for a meal. Bluish light emanated from within eerily, its Glow pulsating along with the sound of the Holy Constant, which felt really loud in her ears almost drowning her own Hymn of Courage out. She hadn’t mastered the Ancient Gift yet and was having trouble attaining the correct tones, making the hymn less effective and reducing her courage. She looked to her mother and saw worry in her large green eyes. She hummed Attention at her, attempting to gain acknowledgment. Her mother looked down at her tenderly and hummed Affection.
‘What’s wrong Child? Do you fear the caves?’ Her mother asked, concern showing behind her comforting smile. Dark face tinted blue by the light, she looked older than usual. Her black hair was tied back in a tight bun, causing her face to look taught. The child looked up and nodded her agreement.
‘It looks hungry’, the child said.
Her mother laughed, but it sounded strained.
‘Beyond that crevice, child, is a path that leads to the Hearth. It is our sanctuary, our safe place.’ She said sweetly, attempting to comfort the worried looking child. ‘You must not be afraid. Practice humming Courage loudly so that I can hear it. It will also help everyone else to have an added voice to the Hymn, especially me.’ She winked at the child and turned back to walk in pace.
The Child hummed Resolve to herself quickly, strengthening her determination, then switched to Courage in a loud and well intoned voice. She saw her mother stand straighter at that. The child buzzed with the hymn and it brought a wave of courage she hadn’t perceived before, her own. It was powerful, and removed any trace of concern she had had. She released her mother’s hand and looked excitedly towards the cave mouth, the Hearth now beckoning her.

Once inside, the sound of the Holy Constant intensified. It beat against her, and she forced herself to hum louder as she followed the flow of people towards the sanctuary. Glowing Q’aba crystal shards grew in an inward spiraling pattern around the cave walls, she knew that they would eventually join the Giant cluster deep inside; the Origin. The cavern floor was a smooth rock that seemed wet but wasn’t, it was cold under her feet as she stepped in line with the others. They were led downwards, and she saw where the cave wall grew so tight it would only let one person through at a time. There would be a large chamber up ahead filled with buzzing people as they hummed and revolved around the Origin. She could hear excited whispers all around her, the prophecy had come true, the time to support the watcher was upon them.
‘I saw the beacon, was a great blistering fire it was! The whole Peak took fire in seconds like a hell-fire!’ She heard one man exclaim.
‘I saw it too’, came his friends curt reply. ‘Yer not the only one with eyes man! Hurry up! I heard the Elder would speak once we’re all safely inside and the ceremony begins.’
‘Really? Where d’ye hear that?’ asked the man, shocked. The Elder did not have a habit of speaking. The child had heard he was older than time itself.
‘Sister Aisha said so when she announced the Return to my wife, she said the Elder would address us directly.’ Came the response.

Excited to hear the Elder, the child turned towards the pass and saw she was next in line after an elderly man. She stepped up onto a carved out stepping stone and stared at the tiny opening lined with jagged crystals, even for someone her size it was a tight squeeze. she looked back and found her mother gently urging her forward, humming Urgency at her; the Elders speech would commence soon. She stooped and stepped through gingerly, careful not to hit her head on any sharp crystals. She stood up straight and beheld the Origin for the First time.
A tower of crystals took up the entire center of the deep cavern, seeming to have once exploded outwards violently from beneath the ground. The cluster trailed crystals towards each of the connecting caverns. The crystals were brightest here and spiraled all around a single Giant shard that vibrated visibly, and pulsated brightly. It loomed monolithically around a swirling hoard of people all humming courage, the rhythm a crescendo of emotion and sound that beat against her and caused her to stop short. She looked for her mother, afraid to lose her in the crowd and saw her stepping in behind her. The child reached out and took her mother’s hand, and they began to make their way towards the spiraling mass.
‘The Watcher will begin his duty soon Child, lets join the humming ceremony and lend him our courage.’ Her Mother said over the loud humming, falling in rhythm with the massive crowd. The child followed, stepping in pace to her mother and not knowing what to expect.
She looked up and hummed uncertainty to her mother ‘Just do what I do Child, do not worry, let the Hymn of Courage guide you.’ She responded confidently.
The child noted how the Hymn seemed to reverberate here, as if it were always a part of the Holy Constant and not the voice of thousands of people. The harmonic resonances were perfect complements to the vibrations and emotions she could feel in her heart. This was natural, she knew this… Stepping and humming, then again, stepping and humming. She stopped being a child and just became a fragment of the Origin, a hallowed frequency in the spectrum of the Holy Constant.
The Elder Spoke from within the Crystals, and the Origin shook with an ancient voice: ‘My Brother’s Children have arrived, The Watcher Goes to meet his fate at last.’ The chorus of humming grew frenzied and began to affect the crystals, the singular swirling mass that was gaining momentum began to glow along to the Constant.
The Elder’s words echoed through the crystal-lit cave. ‘With our help, He has a chance to succeed and hold both the Will of Revolution and The Holy Constant in his heart.’ The Large central column grew brighter than a star and began to pulsate faster and faster, the humming intensifying.

‘Through this act of Courage and Transcendence we shall be preserved, and continue on preserving in return. Let us bid him farewell and lend him strength, for only the victor shall ascend into Godhood and choose the fate of our Being.’ The mad swirling and humming reached an unthinkable frequency, tearing at the fabric of existence.

‘Now Sing my children!’ The Elder announced, ‘Sing with all your hearts!’
And the swirling mass began to hum the Hymn of Transcendence.
A beam of blue light shot out of the center of the swirling mass and traveled along the crystals seeking its way out, it rushed along spiraling its way towards the cave entrance and exploded out towards the place where the Watcher and Priest stood facing each other in determination, weapons drawn.


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Surge

This dark field, overgrown with carnivorous vegetables, is where I found myself. The sweet smell of decomposed flesh coupled with the damp air, overwhelm the senses and cause instant panic. Where was I and more importantly, how did I come to be here? Breath, relax, what had happened?

As my eyes focused and my senses adjusted, I caught slight movement from the corner of my eye and saw a field lettuce devour a small mammal, I blinked and looked away, then looked back. Blood dribbled to the dirt through the leaves as the lettuce relished its catch and began cleaning itself with a grotesque purplish tongue the color of ancient Phoenician shores… I took a deep breath, the gagging smell of spoiled meat and excrement made me heave, and fear began to creep back up my spine, something was wrong, I wasn’t high and I wasn’t dreaming, at least I didn’t think so. Had I been abducted?

I dared to look around. The hills in the distance shimmered with a strange emphatic light and the air was crisp and cold. The ground underneath me felt warm, as if having baked under a warm sun all day. My vision was clear and my consciousness whole, holy shit I was awake!

I dug my fingers into the dirt and stretched my legs out, my head ached dully and my muscles felt sore, I felt like a train had run me over…

This was real, or at least that was my impression, it was real. When I was tripping and astral projecting I could never see or feel my body; the limits of my skin dissolved and there was no “I” so to speak that I could relate to. Now as if to make sure, I looked down at my body and saw that I was just lying on the grass awfully close to a mean looking cactus which seemed to be watching me menacingly. Real or not, I was freaked the fuck out and when Alux Aliester was freaked, he left the premises and sought out a quiet place to relax and just be.

As I stood up and brushed myself off, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d been here before, déjà vu intuition had taken over and I half expected the sudden flash which blinded me and threw me flat on my butt. Pain, real pain, raced up my spine affirming once again the reality of this moment.

Whiteness.  I could hardly see but I could smell, and it stank of herring and ocean. As my vision began to fade back in, I regained my composure, stood up slowly and looked around gracelessly for the source of the strange flash. I saw no immediate trace of it, but slowly my eyes began resolving an impossible silhouette.

“Hello there” Said a melancholic sexless voice, utterly creepy in its neutrality and curiosity, “looking for me”?

I turned to the voice and saw the creature which caused me to give up on all I had once learned concerning evolution, life and everything.

Before me stood a walking, talking Delphinus like being- shiny grey skin, and piercing black eyes, vestigial blow hole and all. The creature stood seven or eight feet tall, on two leg like appendages which still resembled fins if looked at closely. The thing had a mouth full of teeth and was currently smiling at me sinisterly. It carried a staff made from some kind of spiraling wood that held a prism of light on its crown on which was carved the shape of a tree. The source of light I thought to myself. The fear of being eaten alive by vegetation suddenly a faded memory, I found myself entranced by this beings very existence.

We stood like that a moment, scrutinizing each other, I didn’t know what to do next. I dared myself to meet its gaze and saw something remarkable. This creature was sad, it was kind and it loved me deeply. I knew this instantly when our eyes met. The feeling of déjà vu intensified, did I somehow know this creature? I clumsily brushed my auburn hair aside and tried to get it under control, unfortunately I had left my hair-tie, and sanity, behind.

 

“Long lost child of light, what are you doing in this forgotten field”? It asked me, ignoring the obviously frightened expression I must have been wearing on my face.

“The forgotten field?” I mumbled, unable to find a reasonable thing to say. “I just came to be here, with no recollection of how or why” I managed.

“Hmm”, came the response. This seemed a sufficient answer, for the beast nodded knowingly and its smile grew toothier and sinister. The Prism on top of the staff began to pulse a soft pink.

 

“W-w-what are you?!” I stammered scared and confused, wanting to be back at home where Dave was probably playing my favorite video game. Dave….

“Where am I?!”
Dammit Dave, if you dosed me in my sleep, I’ll have your head!!!” I yelled hoping, however unlikely, that this bad trip would end and that I would come down and still retain some semblance of sanity. I wanted to run and run and run, I wanted out, it couldn’t be real. I was just going crazy. I Began backing away and made to run far away.

The Delphine saw my courage fail, and suddenly emitted a burst of low frequency sound which invaded me and caused all my fear to melt away. Wave after wave the sound enveloped me in warmth and fuzziness. I stood transfixed, as visions of decay began to assault me-

I could feel everything… all the life being sucked away from everything, only to be replaced by an addictive desire, an unstoppable thirst for mercurial objects and imaginary wealth.

“Stop” I sobbed, “please stop… It’s too much, I can’t…” tears filled my eyes and bile rose in my throat, a myriad of hot emotions awoke in me. I was calm and sad, but also angry and afraid at what I had seen. The vision still burnt into my mind like the after-sight of a dream. That feeling of déjà vu was pressing against my mind, as pervasive as a Candiru fish.

Exasperatedly I gave myself in to the feeling and let it sit. This was important, every fiber of my being screamed attention at this point as if finally awakened by the sound. I gave in to it, and looked up. Determined to know the truth of what was going on.

“Do not be scared” the creature said calmly, “you are in the presence of a member of the most ancient beings on this planet! My name is not Dave, it’s Darbgah and I’m here to guide you forward, towards the eternal realm”.

I stared at Darbgah, the effects of the sound blast still gripping me and calming me so that I could somehow process some of the information I was receiving.

“The oldest beings… eternal realm…” What was he talking about I thought. Did this have something to do with what I saw during that strange aural blast? A few things had become clear to me straight away. It was vital, and it was in trouble, diseased or infected. The eye I had seen resembled the all Seeing Eye which certain philosophers associated with universal mind- consciousness apart from Ego. This Delphinus being claimed to be ancient, and the symbol carved into the prism resembled the tree of life I had seen. There were the numbers 13 and 33, which run deep in freemasonry and the American constitution as well as Abrahamic religious text, I wonder if this could be, were all those crazy conspiracy theorists right?

Darbgah saw the comprehension begin to dawn on my face and gave me a toothy smile while making a very human-like gesture with his fin as if to say bring it on!

I wanted answers! “Darbgah, do you know how I came to be here and why? What did you show me just now? I feel very strange…”

“You have no recollection of finding us, because the way was shown to you by a part of your biology which is eternally tied to us, you have been called forth along with 6 of your Kin to undertake a most perilous endeavor” he replied heavily. “More clarification will ensue, follow me please, we have no more time to waste”.

Drabgah turned left and began walking at a swimming pace. Dumbfounded and with complete lack of resistance, I followed intrigued at his response and growing more curious by the second. What in god’s name had I gotten myself into this time? I wondered. I was able to see many acts of synchronicity everywhere and was slowly beginning to trust my new friend.

“You came to be here metaphysically through a wormhole in your DNA, do not be alarmed all human DNA is encoded with this gene, only the high priest can activate it” continued Drabgah, “yours was activated while you were asleep in order to smooth the transition, as the body takes quite a toll folding in on itself, and remolecularization is never a pleasant experience. Not to mention the effect on the mind, in dreams we accept certain things which we couldn’t in our waking lives.” It hobbled along, and led me towards the edge of the field, where a dark hill loomed over the plane and wavered strangely in the shimmering air.

“Hey Drabgah?” I asked as we walked along a misbegotten path towards the dark hill which I saw was littered with talk black stones, “can you tell me a little about this place? You mentioned the forgotten field earlier, what was that about?”

After some silence Drabgah sighed, and stopped walking and turned to me, sadness suddenly filled the air like a scent, I was worried I’d be hit those sound waves again, but there only came another sigh and: “My long lost friend, we have failed this planet and it’s being. The time has come for us to tell the truth. Come now, the high priest awaits our arrival, All will be explained then”.

So, we walked on, reaching the beginning of the slope leading out of the forgotten field and up onto the hill, beyond all seemed still and dark. For the first time since I cracked my eyes open, I looked up at the sky and noticed the lack of moonlight. Instead the sky was filled with a strange shimmering, as soon as the eye glimpsed the shimmering it moved away so that the eyes seemed to constantly follow certain points- Always being drawn to the center, where it was darkest. In fact seeing it reminded me awfully a lot of coming to grips with that sense of déjà vu.

“Your mind”, began Drabgah, “is a fractal of the greater Mind of our cosmos, the lights you see are merely free thoughts roaming around in the void of yonder darkness” He pointed his staff to the point in the sky which was the darkest and as I followed his gaze I slowly began perceiving the spiraling nature of the darkness and of the light, the very intrinsic shape of it I thought- Just like a ying and yang. Dragbah continued to speak in that strange sexless voice, “this forgotten field is where being and non-being, or light and darkness, exist simultaneously, it is if you wish an island of existence between two worlds. In your world light could be white, whereas adjacently the opposite is true. Such variations exist endlessly through the cosmos, always paired in polar opposites, alternatively.”

“What was with the carnivorous vegetables?” I cut in somehow feeling a connection there and hoping to rationalize what I had experienced.

“The beings that inhabit this field are not as you know them, as I mentioned the extremities meet, so it is not uncommon to find carnivorous plants and herbivores, all of them somatic.” He left it at that mysterious note and picked up his pace.

While walking, a stanza from Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” infatuated me shortly- “and as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our souls, there walks a lady we all know, who shines white light and wants to show….”

The road ahead began to steepen and our pace quickened, Drabgah seemed in a hurry now. I could hear the wheezing and billowing out of the blow-hole all in a shuddering rhythm that made me wonder at her (his?) origins, everything about her screamed femininity at me but yet, I wasn’t sure. There was yet something absolutely sexless about her and the way she spoke. I stared at her caped, arched back and saw her dorsal fin protruding from a slit in the garment glittering in that strange light-nonlight of the ether, it was embroidered in spiraling symbols and waving patterns, I made note of strange leather bands dangling off the edges of that green cape. I took in her ancient nature and began to wonder at that, there were funny anecdotes about Atlaneans and cetaceans which I had recently read about in an article by a certain Mary Sutherland, An esoteric writer whose book I had randomly found on a shelf at the local bookstore. Something about Whales and dolphins being the result of evolution from an ancient “pre-cetacean” race of mammalian beings bred by reptilian creatures from the constellations of Sagittarius which had come to settle the earth in the very distant past.

“We have nearly arrived to the portal” said Drabgah, well she more than said it, she spoke fluidly into my thought pattern, it occurred to me that I was aware of that voice the same kind of way I heard my thoughts, it had taken me a minute to realize what was happening when Drabgah spoke to me, she was speaking telepathically! I guess having been so deep in thought helped me mark the difference. No wonder it sounded so sexless.
“Alux, hear me now as you will. I am glad you have come to terms with me so fast, but proper introductions must wait. Once we are near the portal, you will feel an intense desire to rush into it, but you must resist. Unguided one can be lost in dematerialization for a bitter eternity.”

The calling of my name snapped me to attention, “What should I do? How will I have the will to resist?” I asked ready to indulge and anticipating my first ride through a teleporter. Well, first conscious ride. I was frightened, this was all happening kind of fast.

Drabgah turned to me a big sweet smile on her face full of teeth-rank with the smell of fish- and she greeted me with a flurry of excited chitters, each of which sent waves of empathy through my spine, I smiled back helplessly, somehow I had missed her.

“You must ride on my back, old friend.” She pushed the thought gently into my mind, clear as day and natural as ever.

I looked up while she led me forward, her fin extended towards me, but all I could see was a turbulent maelstrom the color of stars and the night sky. Beams of light shot out and arched into the sky fantastically to sizzle against the black monoliths surrounding the place we stood in. Every hair on my body stood at attention, the energy that permeated the air was devastating. I wanted to dive in, the desire was unmistakable, like needing to jump into the ocean on a hot day but tenfold.
“Come and hold onto me, that way you won’t dash in, once we are in range.”
The command blazed in my mind. I reached out and grabbed hold of her fin, the contact broke my trance and I was able to look away from the gnarly vortex. And stared at her for instruction.

“Lean into me and strap your legs through those leather hoops, then hold onto my dorsal fin or wrap your arms around me, which ever you feel more secure with.”

I did as I was bid almost too fluently and naturally, it all seemed so damn familiar godammit. A hand on her fin and one around the side, I spoke to her with my mind.

“Surge on old friend” I thought to her dearly, and so she did. Chittering and clicking wildly, an ecstatic feel to her, a laugh of joy caught in my throat and I held on tighter as she made to jump into the maelstrom.  We bonded then under those words and energies, and an inkling of hope rose in Drabgah’s aura. I felt it clear as a fluent note. She dove in, I held my breath. Color exploded in my vision, synesthesia overwhelmed me and I felt my being disintegrating, but then an ephemeral chitter and click brought my consciousness back to the moment as we surged through the wormhole towards my destiny.

Chapter 2

As we were projected forward, our Forms dematerializing in a trail of waves and particles, our Being held onto one another, clinging to the physical shape of the bodies we left behind. Held together by our genetic memory, our spirit surged on.

As the colors continued to rush by and my physical senses overlapped to the point of no recognition, our consciousness mingled and all the barriers melted away. I forgot myself and we became metaphysically complete. I knew this was meant to be, I was certain. That nagging feeling of déjà vu resolved itself in the form of a blissful remembrance, a young woman dressed in brilliant mage cloth fighting alongside Drabgah, who was bedecked in dazzling armor consisting of mail and mother of pearl, a fearsome trident in her fin and a vicious snarl on her face. The woman was protecting Drabgah with aural shields while she held the front line of a battle alongside six other creatures.  There was an affinity to the memory as if it belonged to me, I wasn’t sure anymore… who was that women fighting and casting protection spells in the Mage Cloth?

I wanted a closer look and as the intention set in I felt myself drifting towards the scene helplessly. I was suddenly afraid, the only battle experience I have is behind my computer screen massacring a horde of zombies. I didn’t belong here!

I could feel Drabgah’s voice tugging at my thoughts, I opened my mind to hers and heard her call out my name.

“Alux!” bellowed Drabgah, “beware not to lose yourself in your eternal memory. It is good to remember but this is not the time! You are taking us off course!”

I brought myself back to the present, the taste of Alux strong in my mind’s eye, and the rushing colors along Drabgahs meta-form resonating underneath me- its dolphin smelling frequency.

Drabgah chittered,
“Prepare yourself for reformation” she warned “we shall be exiting the stream soon”

I focused my consciousness and prepared for something I had no Idea how to prepare for. Yet, I was focusing and prepared; no doubt in my Mind. The texture around us ripped with a very sharp sounding twang of yellow and I saw white light coming towards us at an incredible speed, I began to scream but had no mouth to scream out of.

I was just about to implode with fear when we collided with the light and broke through a barrier of sorts where I painfully felt my body regenerate one particle and wave at a time. My senses re-aligned themselves despite my unwillingness. My vision came flooding back as we tumbled out onto a grassy floor. It was all overwhelming, all I could perceive was the taste of vomit on my lips and a belligerent head which ached from inside-out. I heard myself groan and then tried to look up my vision was swimming before me and I could hear Drabgah calling out my name, then all was dark.