Tackling the Hard Problem with a two-reality ansatz

poster 546 at TOKYO '99
``Toward a Science of Consciousness ­ Fundamental Approaches''
May 25-28, 1999, United Nations University
Tokyo, Japan

Axel G. Rossberg <axel@rossberg.net>


$x=\tt e,p$

e-real := experienced to be real (by you or by me)
p-real := being reducible to elementary physical objects and laws
x-object := an x-real object restricted to its x-real properties
x-reality := totality of all x-objects
x-fact := fact about x-objects
x-property := property given by an x-fact
x-other := a special instance of an x- object, property, or fact
relationrelation := property involving $\tt\ge 2$ objects
concrete := fully fleshed, as is, including possible ineffable aspects
abstract := x-objects and x-properties have "meaning" only by virtue of the network of x-facts


Thesis 1: There is nothing wrong about using (and meaning) ``e-real'' and ``p-real'' within the same discourse.

Thesis 2: The everyday notion ``real'' is a conflation of (at least) the two concepts ``e-real'' and ``p-real''. Scientific text can and should avoid ``real''.

In fact, most authors have either e-real or p-real in mind when saying ``real'' or stating facts about ``reality''. But sometimes the notions are mixed:

[...] note that even when we have explained the performance of all the p-cognitive and p-behavioral functions in the vicinity ond p-behavioral functions in the vicinity of e-experience -- p-(perceptual discrimination), p-categorization, p-(internal access), p-(verbal report) -- there may still remain a further unanswered question: Why is the p-(performance of all these functions) e/p?-accompanied by e-experience?
D. Chalmers, JCS 2 (3),1995 pp. 200-219
(my prefixes)
The question refers to a mixed experiential + physical ``fact''.


Thesis 3: There are no relations between concrete e-objects and p-objects. Not even between e-time and p-time.

To get this right, an e-star that I see must be something else then a p-star described by physical theory. The definitions have been set up this way.

Thesis 4: Concrete e-reality and p-reality are relationally closed.

This is not obvious but arguably true.

Thesis 5: The network of facts of an abstract x-reality requires some (possibly implicit) y-real representation (x,y=e,p).

Thesis 6: There are mappings from abstract e-objects and e-properties to abstract p-objects and p-properties that map a bunch of e-facts onto p-facts and vice versa. This entails relations ce versa. This entails relations between abstract e- and p-objects.

Mutual representation

Thesis 7: p-Reality contains a representation of my abstract e-reality (a brain). And my e-reality contains an implicit representation of the abstract p-reality. $\longrightarrow$ x-(y-reality)

\epsfig {file=containment.eps}

The relation of mutual representation is an important reason for giving both notions ``real'' the same ontological priority. This also:

Thesis 8: p-Actuality is indexical, i.e. only relative to some p-(e-reality).

Randomness and the choice of initial conditions and are not p-real, no matter what interpretation of QM -- only p-correlations.


Thesis 9: In contrast to p-facts, the set of all e-facts is not closed with respect to logico-mathematical implications.

It may be logically inconsistent and yet be (felt) e-consistent.

Thesis 10: If my e-reality contains a (causal) e-relation betweencontains a (causal) e-relation between e-objects and e-(p-objects), e-reality is logically inconsistent: I have the e-(mind-body problem).

Such an e-relation must also be a e-(p-relation). But e-(p-reality) is e-(relationally closed) (Thesis 4) and e-(logically consistent) (Thesis 9). Hence e-reality is logically inconsistent.

Thesis 11: This inconsistency can be fixed.

See figure below for a fix: There are two versions of ``physics''. (1) e-(Physical laws) describing properties of e-objects in the outside world. The outside world is a relationally (and causally) open subset of e-reality. (2) The relationally closed e-(p-reality) constructed from abstract versions of e-(physical laws).

Making e-reality more consistent

\epsfig {file=fix.eps}

Thesis 12: There is no need for e-relations between e-objects and e-(p-objects).

e-(p-Reality) serves basically as an e-object for e-facts corresponding to general propositions like Thesis' 4, 6, 7, 8, 9. The actual application of physical laws is a different story.


Thesis 13: Most e-facts about concrete e-experience are not e-supervenient on e-(p-facts), e-(physical laws) or e-objects in the outside world.

e-Thoughts are e-(largely independent) of all this.

Thesis 14: p-Experience (the physical correlate of e-experience, Thesis 6), and p-(e-experience) (Thesis 7) are p-supervenient on p-(first principle physics).

Unlike most dualistic theories, the two-reality ansatz (Thesis 1-12) avoids the dilemma between anti-physicalism and epiphenomenalism (Thesis 3). Since ``e-objects are not p-real'' and ``p-objects are not e-real'', it could even be seen a form of monism.

The interpretation of the two realities merely as two points of view seems too weak to me: this attitude implies identity between some e-objects and e-(p-objects) (Thesis 10).

The theory presented here does not explain what emergence (e.g. of brains) without an observer is. I think this is possible, though.


Axel G. Rossberg
Last modified: Wed Jun 23 17:02:16 JST 1999
:16 JST 1999