The Stage of No Consciousness

Here the very first stage of The Cosmic Fugue, no consciousness, will be examined in more detail.

I am not going to outline in detail the chemical processes which lead from non-life to life, and from life to consciousness. Simply put, such is beyond my expertise, and I leave those details to persons far more knowledgeable than myself in chemical and evolutionary sciences.

It is my goal to outline in brief terms how this stage places the foundation upon which the consciousness of the cosmos can come to exist.

Getting to Life: Teleology and Evolution

When no life is present, there can be no consciousness and thus The Cosmic Fugue has no ground to proceed. So, in order for us to get life, the natural laws in a given universe have to allow for it (See: Anthropic Principle).

Once that is covered, life as we know it is more than mere self-replication. It requires evolutionary change. The forms we see and experience in our daily lives are only possible because of millions of successive generations of creatures, trying to ply their way through the world. In order to get life and evolution what we need is:

1) A means of self-replication.

There can be no life without the taking material to build itself, and also to repair itself. Reproduction is the best means of accomplishing this, and also gets access to more material to use. Reproduction also reduces the possibility of simply being destroyed. Reproduction of your body’s cells is constant, and sexual reproduction is how more complex creatures have reproduced themselves.

2) Imperfect self-replication (mutation).

Mutation of reproduction introduces change which can add negative or positive effects on the reproduction process, as well as added or subtracted complexity of different parts. A change may, or may not, result in better opportunities to self-replicate.

3) A selection process.

Things which cannot reproduce well enough are selected out. Gone. This adds risk to reproduction itself. Mutations bring either doom or fortune.

In the beginning these are the things we need in order to have life and evolution, which are necessary for any consciousness. Why is this?

All three of these things introduce the possibility for teleology to exist in the universe. Teleology is end-directed purpose, or the quality of working towards an end. The three necessities mentioned above, in combination, introduce this. They introduce elements of survival and reproduction in a scarce environment, leading to the evolution of strategies, and the possibility of choices. Not mere mindless copying, but also intent. These are inherently end-directed processes which are a inseparable part of life. Thus evolution and by extension, life, are teleological things.

To be teleological does not imply the existence of a mind, at least not yet. Nor does being teleological imply a finished end state that exists in the future and which is guaranteed to come about deterministicly. All that is implied by teleology is is the aspect of working or falling towards an end, although that end may not be crisply defined. Life’s incessant need to survive and reproduce, and at later more advanced stages, its need to feel emotional satisfaction, show the existence of absences which “need to be filled”. In a physical universe some work, or extra effort, must be done to overcome entropy and thus fill the absences. The efforts of life in our cosmos are directed towards this although it is not clearly defined and it is only later in evolution that it becomes clearer. This is teleology as it manifests in the cosmos.

The introduction of (or perhaps, allowance of) teleological processes in the universe is the #1 starting point for The Cosmic Fugue and by extension, all life and all consciousness. But it must be remembered that even though natural selection is needed at the beginning, it not needed forever. The transition from scientific-technical consciousness to cosmic consciousness absolutely removes any last remaining shreds of evolution by natural selection, to be replaced by revolution by choice. But that is to be treated in another post.

For now suffice it to say, the natural selection process is an integral part of the development of teleology in the cosmos. But need not remain so, as the existence of forward-thinking minds plainly demonstrate.

Making our Way to Instinctual Consciousness

Consciousness as we are familiar with it requires the existence “I” and “other”. Before this there is no basis around which instinct, the first stage of consciousness and the second stage of The Cosmic Fugue, can exist. The “I”, at least in our own example, requires:

1) A barrier.

2) A process of self-regulation.

3) A means of sensing, and reacting to, events outside the barrier.

4) A means of sensing, and reacting to, events inside the barrier.

1) The barrier. The evolution of the first simple microbes required a barrier to protect vital chemical contents from useless chemical reactions, preserving them for those places and times where they would be useful to the reproduction process. Without the barrier there is no way that natural forces can be constrained in a body in such a way as to produce an individual organism, and possibly an individual mind.

2) Once a good barrier is established then self-regulation of needed chemical components is possible. With this, the development of the complexity of internal parts is possible. Only once a barrier capable of maintaining good “diet” exists will, over successive generations, the complexity for complex organs and self-evaluation be possible.

3) Survival in an increasingly complex environment means a timely avoidance of dangers or a timely acquisition of resources (or, later, mates).

4) All consciousness comes first from the recognition of self. “I think therefore I am” is not possible unless an “I” can be recognized. Near the beginning of life’s development no “I” in any human sense is possible, but the precursor to this exists in systems of self-regulation within an organism which react to problems inside the barrier.

Once these elements are in place evolution by natural selection will gradually add complexity into the mix. Only by successive layers of chemical reactions in internal and external events is consciousness as we know it, exemplified by instinctual consciousness, possible.

Instinct is a natural force that compels a creature to act in a certain way, or perhaps in a certain time or manner. Instinct can come from genetics, or be based purely in the form of the body one takes (after all, a fish is going to behave differently from a bird for obvious reasons). Instinct can come from the manner cells divide in the body, or, alternatively, how the body acts with this or that stimuli. Instinct is just natural forces constrained through bodily action. With instinct, there is no question of free will. Free will is a matter of reflection which comes with distinct (in the human context, social) consciousness. Before this, there is no reflection and thus no free will.

Instinctual consciousness is consciousness in its first form, undivided from nature, and the second stage of The Cosmic Fugue. Once a primitive “I” and “Other” exists in nature, instinctual consciousness is not, relatively speaking, far behind.

The reason “I” and “Other” are needed for instinctual consciousness is that when nature is constrained in a body, it must also be constrained in such a way as to produce consciousness. “I” and “Other” provide that framework. The end-directness (teleology) of life can only become the end-directness of consciousness once it has a subject of meaning, purpose, and value, i.e. “I”.

“I” will become progressively expanded as The Cosmic Fugue develops. “I” will incorporate a greater extent of the cosmos as we progress from instinct to cosmic consciousness. That is another story.

Skipping over the Stage of No Consciousness

History and the development of life and consciousness is always uneven. More primitive elements can cause more advanced elements to regress, and vice versa.

In the case of simulations of a more advanced intelligence, The Cosmic Fugue does not need to go through a process where first natural selection, then “I” come to exist. It may be skipped over, since the creating intelligence has already surpassed that process in some way and can bestow any form of consciousness upon the simulation it is capable of… provided the simulation is not simply fabricated and then left alone for whatever reason.

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