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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Logos in the Cabasa

A few years ago, I was reading a book called "A Universe of Consciousness: How Matter Becomes Imagination", which was a great book that explained a lot about the mechanisms of the brain, and how that leads to consciousness.

This got me wondering about whether or not similar physical structures could produce consciousness elsewhere. One thing to note is that there are different levels of consciousness, so all examples needn't be a person per se. But, given the presence of various complex systems throughout the universe, and the tendency of self emergent complex systems to form from our natural laws, it seems plausible at least that such structures might exist naturally, which carried some degree of consciousness, besides brains.

Investigation of these ideas lead me to the philosopher David Chalmers, whose work in consciousness intrigued me. I put the question to him and he was open to the concept. As I recall, it was he that made the point about levels of consciousness.

So, time passes and I move on to reading and writing about other concepts. I am eventually drawn to Stoicism and Taoism about the same time I'm learning about complex systems theory. Then this concept of complexity/Logos/Li from each of the three areas seems to be talking about the same thing.

After joining the International Stoics Forum, I enter into a conversation with a fellow poster, Nigel, who tells me that he believes the Stoic "Divine Fire" or Logos, to be a conscious entity with a will, rather than merely the universal laws of complexity and natural harmony I had been imagining. This is what he calls the "more spiritual" interpretation of Stoicism.

Suddenly I'm reminded of my thoughts on consciousness and the work of David Chalmers all that time ago. Perhaps it is possible that higher-order complex systems throughout the universe carry interacting data in sophisticated enough patterns to possess a consciousness to some degree? I asked the list who else thought that Logos was conscious. Robin gave a reasonable answer...

"I think all we can say on this subject is that if there is a Divine Fire, and it has a will and intellect, then its will and intellect would be so beyond our comprehension of such things as to be hardly worth using those terms at all."

I suspect, as well, that we would be so far removed from anything that consciousness recognized as to be nearly non-existent ourselves, but it doesn't make it any less fascinating.

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