From the physical properties of the mind, qualia, and consciousness and the available scientific evidence, it can be concluded that:
I. The mind coexists with the brain (Theorem I); it is the composite of all neural information-processing processes (Theorem II). Because neural information-processing processes inherently coexist with the brain, the mind is not a novel entity. Because information-processing processes have physical effects, the mind has physical effects.
II. Qualia are physical phenomena (Theorem III); they are the signaling patterns of neural processes (Theorem IV). Specifically, they are signaling patterns of a special kind—the special signaling patterns (SSPs)—which have information that means some things that manifest what they are like, such as an image of a house, a sound of a song, and an odor of a flower, to the consciousness neural process. When the SSPs are read by the consciousness neural process, they are interpreted as such, and some things that manifest what they are like, such as an image of a house, a sound of a song, and an odor of a flower, naturally and inevitably appear in the consciousness neural process and the brain. Because signaling patterns are inherent in neural processes, qualia are not novel entities. Further, because signaling patterns physically affect neural processes that read them, qualia have physical effects.
III. Consciousness is the signaling state of a neural process called “consciousness neural process” (Theorem V). Specifically, it is a signaling state of a special kind—the composite of all special signaling states (SSSs)—which has information that means awareness and experiences of what things are like, such as awareness and experiences of what an image of a house, a sound of a song, and an odor of a flower are like, to the consciousness neural process itself. When the composite is read by the consciousness neural process by reentrant signaling, it is interpreted as such, and awareness and experiences of what things like, such as awareness and experiences of what an image of a house, a sound of a song, and an odor of a flower are like, naturally and inevitably appear in the consciousness neural process and the brain. Because a signaling state is inherent in a neural process, consciousness is not a novel entity. Furthermore, because a signaling state physically affects its own neural process and connected neural processes, consciousness has physical effects.
IV. Based on Theorem II and Theorem IV, the following can be concluded:
• Similar neural processes have similar mental processes and similar qualia
• Different neural processes have different mental processes and different qualia
• Similar mental processes and similar qualia require similar neural processes
• Different mental processes and different qualia require different neural processes
V. From scientific evidence, it can be concluded that mental process interactions are physical interactions (Theorem X).
For the problem of qualia that can manifest themselves differently in different people, or variable qualia, such as color qualia that appear as red in the reader but as blue in the author and as other colors in other people, it can be shown that some types of them occur, but others do not. Ultimately, it does not matter whether the reader’s red is the author’s blue because, even if it is, the author’s blue will behave in all aspects as if it is red in the author’s mind, and vice versa for the reader. We will experience them virtually similarly and never encounter different effects from them.
For the problem of a p-zombie, because qualia and consciousness have physical effects, a being without qualia and consciousness cannot be physically identical to a being with them. Since a p-zombie is defined as “a being that is physically identical to a human but lacks qualia and consciousness” but since this definition is not physically possible, a p-zombie is a physically impossible entity and, although it can exist imaginarily, cannot exist physically. We exist physically; none of us are p-zombies.
For the main subject of this theory, from Theorems I, II, IV, and V, it can be concluded that the mind, qualia, and consciousness are informational entities that coexist with neural processes and the brain. Being informational entities, they are categorically different from conventional physical entities, such as mass, energy, and force, which are called mechanical entities in this theory.
It can also be concluded that there are two fundamentally different classes of entities in this universe: the mechanical class and the informational class. The former comprises elementary particles and their interactions, which combine to form mechanical entities—namely, all material things, energy, forces, and other complex mechanical entities, such as the brain, neural circuits, and electronic circuits. The latter comprises information and information processing, which combine to form informational entities—such as the mind, mental processes, qualia, consciousness, and electronic information-processing processes. The two classes are inherently and inseparably connected and function unitedly as one (Chapter 2 and Extra Chapter I: Information). They are the two sides, the mechanical and the informational sides, of the same thing and are counterparts of each other. It is the nature of this universe that there exists not one but two sides to everything.
Essentially, the mind, qualia, and consciousness exist in this universe because it is fundamental to its nature that these entities exist. Fundamentally, some kinds of physical processes—neural information-processing processes—can be the mind; some kinds of signaling patterns—special signaling patterns—can be qualia; lastly, some kinds of signaling states—special signaling states—can be consciousness. By these fundamentals, “we”—the mind, qualia, and consciousness—exist in this universe. It is a brute fact. This is the scientific answer to one of the most basic questions of our lives: How is it possible that “we” exist?
It can also be concluded that the mind, mental processes, qualia, and consciousness did not exist at the beginning of the universe or the beginning of life. Information in these primordial times was not advanced enough to be them. They began to appear when the universe evolved to the stage with complex structures capable of forming complex enough information. One such structure is the nervous system. Once there was a nervous system with neural information-processing processes, the mind began to appear. Once the nervous system evolved to the stage with neural processes that could form special signaling patterns and special signaling states, qualia and consciousness began to occur. The fact that the mind, qualia, and consciousness still exist today after appearing in this world hundreds of millions of years ago indicates that they have been preserved in the evolutionary process, implying that they yield some survival advantages to the species possessing them. Thus, they still exist because they somehow help increase the survival chances of the species that possess them. This is the scientific answer to one part of the hard question of qualia and consciousness and to another basic question of our lives: Why do “we”—the mind, qualia, and consciousness—exist?
It can thus be concluded that the mind, qualia, and consciousness did not emerge out of something or nothing. They are not emerging entities but evolved ones—they evolved from the already existing entity—information. Additionally, it can be concluded that the mind, qualia, or consciousness do not exist in everything but exist only in entities that have complex enough information—animals with a nervous system. Hence, the mind, qualia, and consciousness neither exist in everything nor always exist. On the other hand, one entity that exists in everything and always exists is information.
When viewed from the third-person point of view, the point of view we have when thinking about or investigating it, information meaning qualia or consciousness does not appear as qualia or consciousness because it is only looked at (mentally or physically), not read nor interpreted. However, when read from the first-person point of view, the natural point of view of functioning neural processes, it is interpreted according to its meaning, and qualia or consciousness naturally and inevitably appears in the reading neural processes. This scientifically answers the other part of the hard problem and the explanatory gap of how phenomenal qualia and consciousness can appear in the brain.
As remarked in the previous edition, this theory is a basic theory that deals with basic concepts of the nature of the mind as well as mental processes, qualia, and consciousness. It is merely one step in unraveling this great puzzle. There are still numerous problems to be solved to understand them completely. Some of them are as follows:
Technical problems: What are the exact characteristics of neural circuits and neural processes that can produce qualia and consciousness? What are the exact characteristics of the signaling patterns that are qualia and the signaling states that are consciousness? Which exact part of the signaling do qualia and consciousness exist—the synaptic junctions, the dendrites, the terminal axons, the soma, or the whole signaling process?
Fundamental problems: Can Theorems I and II be extended to cover minds in other groups, not just the group of animals with a nervous system? From the properties of signaling patterns and signaling states, can we predict the characteristics that make signaling patterns and states become qualia and consciousness, respectively? Can some forms of signaling in other systems, such as electronic systems, be qualia and consciousness?
Final problems: As information inherently exists in all physical entities and as all physical interactions fundamentally are information processing, information and information processing are intrinsic in all physical entities and interactions and have pervaded this universe entirely since the beginning of everything (Extra Chapter I: Information). However, since information is the pattern of its carrier, but a pattern depends on its boundaries, which are human-made concepts, is information considered isolated in each entity an arbitrary, human-made construct? Are we—our minds and consciousness—which are viewed as individual informational entities, artificial distinctions? Because no true boundaries exist, are we—our minds and consciousness—and all other things, including others’ minds and consciousness, connected all the time and basically part of one whole? Is the ancient concept of panpsychism scientifically and fundamentally correct? Is it only that what it refers to as omnipresent may not be the mind or consciousness but rather the deeper and the most fundamental entity: information? Can this concept be verified empirically?
Thus, as noted in the first edition, there are many questions that this theory does not address. However, the author hopes that this theory, even though incomplete and potentially flawed, can provide new concepts, offer new directions in investigating this great matter of our lives, and help lead to the complete theory of the mind.
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In the end,
it can be concluded that we—minds, qualia, and consciousness—are informational entities on the informational side of the universe.
We feel information … ourselves… phenomenally because we do not look at information from the outside but experience it from the inside.
We are here because it is basically possible to have us in this universe and because we help increase the survival chance of our species
… and ourselves.
You are here to help increase the survival chance of your species
… and yourself.
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