The Meta-Dynamic Nature of Consciousness

Entropy 22 (2020)
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How, if at all, consciousness can be part of the physical universe remains a baffling problem. This article outlines a new, developing philosophical theory of how it could do so, and offers a preliminary mathematical formulation of a physical grounding for key aspects of the theory. Because the philosophical side has radical elements, so does the physical-theory side. The philosophical side is radical, first, in proposing that the productivity or dynamism in the universe that many believe to be responsible for its systematic regularities is actually itself a physical constituent of the universe, along with more familiar entities. Indeed, it proposes that instances of dynamism can themselves take part in physical interactions with other entities, this interaction then being “meta-dynamism” (a type of meta-causation). Secondly, the theory is radical, and unique, in arguing that consciousness is necessarily partly constituted of meta-dynamic auto-sensitivity, in other words it must react via meta-dynamism to its own dynamism, and also in conjecturing that some specific form of this sensitivity is sufficient for and indeed constitutive of consciousness. The article proposes a way for physical laws to be modified to accommodate meta-dynamism, via the radical step of including elements that explicitly refer to dynamism itself. Additionally, laws become, explicitly, temporally non-local in referring directly to quantity values holding at times prior to a given instant of application of the law. The approach therefore implicitly brings in considerations about what information determines states. Because of the temporal non-locality, and also because of the deep connections between dynamism and time-flow, the approach also implicitly connects to the topic of entropy insofar as this is related to time.

Author's Profile

John A Barnden
University of Birmingham


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