A First Stab at Some Eurycosmic Principles

aka "Principia Eurycosmica" ;-) ...

In this chapter I will enumerate some core principles that I believe have value for understanding the core nature of the cosmos we exist in. The treatment will be abstract, somewhat sketchy and mostly rather dry. Subsequent chapters will elaborate and extend various of these points, in some cases in a more colorful and exciting way.

In this initial chapter I have opted to sacrifice superficial excitingness for simplicity and clarity, but make no mistake – on a conceptual level this is rather bloody thrilling stuff! I mean – what is being undertaken here is nothing less than a rational, formal model of the broader universe, broad enough to encompass not only conventional physics and psychology but also altered states of consciousness, reincarnation, life after death, beings from other dimensions, psychic phenomena and lots of other funky stuff human beings haven't imagined yet! In this chapter it will all seem stiff and a bit quasi-mathematical, but in subsequent chapters as the book unfolds, we will explore more of the intuitive richness of the various phenomena this framework is able to model.

Principle 0: In dealing with subtle matters like the nature of mind and reality, it is best to avoid absolutist attitudes, and to consider concepts and entities as they appear in the perspective of some particular observer or some particular class of observers.

This is both a meta-principle for discussion and cognition, and a statement about the nature of the universe. While this subjectivist/relativist approach has a long history in philosophy, it has also arisen recently within quantum physics, in the form of the “relational interpretation” of quantum mechanics. In the relational interpretation of QM, one can only only sensibly talk about the state of some system after specifying the observer with respect to which the state is considered as relative. This seems to me the best approach to take, not only in the context of QM but more broadly.

As another meta-principle too obvious to give a number, I would like to emphasize that even though I have chosen the fancy word “principle” in the enumeration of my core ideas here, I could just as well have used “hypothesis” or “semi-educated guess.” I am probing here into aspects of the universe that none of us humans, myself included, really understand very well. This is all quite uncertain, and I expect that in future once we (or our descendants or creations) understand this stuff better, these writings will read like a messy mix of insight and confusion. That's OK – it's great to see one's ideas obsoleted via incorporation into a deeper understanding.

Without further ado, then, here are some ideas I have come to suspect are key for understanding the cosmos we live in. To some they will seem radical, to others almost obvious (although oddly put).

Principle 1: The physical spacetime continuum in which we perceive ourselves as living, while in our normal waking state of consciousness, is best viewed as a subset of a larger realm.

For lack of a better name, I will call this larger realm “the eurycosm.” The use of a singular “the” for “the eurycosm” is not intended to be philosophically loaded; the eurycosm as I understand it has a great deal of multiplicity to it, and could just as well be viewed as “the field of eurycosms” or similar.

I tend to think of the eurycosm as “the world beyond our physical universe.” On the other hand, someone might claim that if the eurycosm has any valid form of existence, it must be “physical.” To me this is an uninteresting kind of semantic dickering. When I think about eurycosm as “trans-physical”, what I mean is that:

  • there seems no reason to assume that the eurycosm has a dimensional structure like our physical reality does, nor to assume that it obeys basic tenets like the conservation of energy (nor even that physical “energy” is a useful concept in a eurycosmic context)
  • there seems no reason to assume that the eurycosm has even the limited, approximate variety of “objectivity” (observer-independence) that our everyday physical world often appears to have
  • the extent to which the eurycosm can be understood by methods of repeatable experimentation and rational analysis is unclear

Of course, quantum mechanics portrays the microworld as “trans-(everyday folk physics)”; and other radical physics brainstorms like Wheeler's pregeometry or even something as mainstream as string theory, also go far beyond everyday physical reality. So it wouldn't be an insanely large stretch to consider the eurycosm as I describe it here to be a somewhat vaguely stated, a bit more out-there than usual speculative physics theory. That is not, however, how I think about it. Intuitively, I think of the eurycosm as being cognitive as much as physical, but as significantly transcending the pattern-complexes we normally associate with either cognitive or physical dynamics. Thinking of eurycosmic structures and dynamics as a kind of extended physics may be helpful for some purposes, but may also be misleading.

It is certainly possible that eurycosmic modeling as I'm pursuing here may be useful in the search for new “grand unified” physics theories. My strong guess, however, is that even a much more refined version of the eurycosmic model presented here will end up actually BEING a grand unified physics theory in any currently recognized sense. I think the eurycosm is just a fair bit slipperier than our physical universe, and isn't going to be modelable with the precision and completeness we want from a physics theory.

There seems more potential in the exploration of models that live, in a sense, between current physics and eurycosmic modeling. Could one replace string theory, loop quantum gravity and so forth with some sort of higher-dimensional physics theory that reflects key aspects of the eurycosmic model presented here, but also gives rise to observed physical data in a precisely calculable (whether analytically or via simulation, or some combination thereof) way? I tend to think so, and my speculations about causal webs could be interpreted along these lines. But there is a lot of work to be done to turn those speculations into something that could be tested against empirical data or even used to do calculations (and I don't seem to be finding time to do that particular work, given everything else on my plate). Perhaps causal web theory will get fleshed out to fill the niche between current physics and eurycosmic modeling, or perhaps something new and different will emerge and play this role in a manner not now envisioned.

Principle 2: “Consciousness”, in the sense of raw awareness, is best understood as a quality that can be an aspect of any entity in the eurycosm.

This is a form of “panpsychism” extending beyond our spacetime continuum into the proposed broader realm. The word “consciousness” is problematic, and some might want to call this kind of raw awareness by the term “proto-consciousness” instead. The structured, deliberatively self-aware consciousness of human minds has many aspects that are not intrinsic to basic, raw consciousness. However, I will use the word “consciousness” to include both basic raw consciousness AND more complexly structured forms of consciousness such as human consciousness.

Principle 3: The eurycosm can usefully be viewed as displaying various forms of mathematical structure, e.g. topology, geometry, order relations.

This is not to say that such mathematical notions can fully capture or explain the nature of the eurycosm. It doesn't seem logically impossible that they can do so, but it also would seem folly to commit to such an Principle at this time. In fact the nature of the eurycosm appears sufficiently rich to elude any such complete capture, i.e.

Principle 4: With respect to any mathematical, scientific, verbal or other model one may construct, the eurycosm will always have some substantial “remainder” that eludes this model.

The very likely incomplete nature of any effort at modeling the eurycosm, however, does not imply the futility of such initiatives. Rather, the construction of mathematical, scientific and conceptual models is an important strategy for coming to grips with the universe we live in and navigating its mysteries.

Principle 5: Entities within the eurycosm may sometimes be construed as existing in a relationship of containment to each other. That is, we may consider composite entities in the eurycosm, which contain other entities within them.

Without getting all formal about it, this means we can talk about sets and groupings of entities in the eurycosm as being parts of the eurycosm themselves.

Next, we need to start talking a bit about observations.

The notion of an “observer” is subtle at the foundational level we are addressing here, since observers themselves are generally best viewed as complex dynamical systems – e.g. I, Ben Goertzel, am a different observer right now (sitting in a taxi to the Shenzhen airport, a bit blurry from an insufficient night's sleep, typing the first version of this text) than I was ten seconds ago, 15 minutes ago (when I was somewhat wrapped up with being annoyed at an intransigent Chinese border control official), 2 hours ago (when I was peacefully sleeping next to my wife), or 40 years ago (when I was more ambivalent between a scientific materialist view and the kind of perspective presented here).

In view of this sort of complexity, it is better to start with observations and with the simplest possible sorts of “observers”, and then build up to more complex observers and types of observation.

Principle 6: An “observation” can be understood as construing: some set of entities in the eurycosm (being treated as the “observer”), and some (possibly different) set of entities in the eurycosm (being treated as the “observed”). An observation has a certain directedness to it, which is implicit in the distinction between the observer and the observed (which is a meaningful distinction even in cases where the observer and the observed are the same set).

For some purposes we can think of an observation as an “arrow.” Note also that the “set of entities” referred to in Principle 6 could be a single entity.

Like everything else in the eurycosm, an observation has a certain aspect of consciousness associated with it.

Observations thus construed are about as “atomic” as one can get without tying oneself in conceptual knots. They have a basic aspect not possessed by “observers” like, say, “Ben Goertzel” or “the modern scientific community” or a particular laboratory instrument as considered over the lifespan of a complex experiment. Sometimes we may also want to think about more complex sorts of observers. But when things get confusing, it's often better to bring the discuss back to the foundation of individual observations.

Still we have to confront the complexity within observations:

Principle 7: Many observations have hierarchical internal structure, in the sense that they contain other observations.

That is: an “arrow” of observation can contain multiple sub-arrows.

And we have to confront the complexity of associating multiple observations with larger entities:

Principle 8: A “complex observer” O, like a person or machine or social group, is a collection of entities S, together with a set of observations O1 in which subsets of S serve as the “observer” portion

According to this broad notion of a complex observer, pretty much any collection of entities can be a complex observer. But in most cases, there is no use to consider a random collection of stuff as a complex observer. To distinguish the meaningful complex observers from the meaningless ones, we need some notion of “coherence.” But to build up to that we need some more preliminaries.

First we need to associate some basic qualities with entities in the eurycosm:

Principle 9: From the perspective of a given observer, within a given composite act of observation, some entities in the eurycosm iare going to appear “simpler” , more “surprising”, or more “intense” (i.e. more the subject of focus) than others.

In mathematical language, this implies that we can identify simplicity, surprisingness and intensity as three different (observer-dependent) partial orderings on the eurycosm.

The term “intensity” is introduced here as a way of talking about attention. Intensity is the degree to which something appears as the focus of attention within a certain observation. Since intensity is a degree rather than a binary variable, we can then think about “distributions of intensity” across the elements of an observation.

One can also think about the distribution of intensity across all the elements of all the observations associated with a complex observer. Note that the observations associated with a certain complex observer may form a complex network of overlaps, and that for instance x might be more intense than y within O1, whereas y might be more intense than x within O2, even though both O1 and O2 exist within the same complex observer. This is not necessarily problematic; the notion of a complex observer does not imply any sort of logical consistency. Although there are notions of coherence that are useful to consider in the context of complex observers, which we will discuss below.

Principle 10: One entity A can be thought of as a “representation” of another entity B (from the view of complex observer O) if intensity of B probabilistically implies intensity of A, across multiple observations associated with O.

Basically, this says: A represents B if when B is intense, A is also intense … at least to some degree. This is a very primitive notion of representation – basically just association. But it is proposed as the foundation of more complex forms of representation, much as a simple sort of observation is proposed as the founcation of more complex observers.

Principle 11: P is a pattern in S, from the perspective of O, if P represents S (to O) and P is simpler than S (to O). That is, “a pattern is a representation as something simpler.”

A pattern may be associated with a quality of “notability”, basically gauging how much simpler P is than S, and how strongly P represents S. This quality has been called “pattern intensity” in some of my previous writings, but here I am using “intensity” to mean something else, so I'm introducing the term “notability.”

Notablity will often lead to intensity, but this isn't exclusively the case.

Principle 12: The surprisingness of an observation, is positively related to the notability of the patterns contained with the observation.

I am not defining surprisingness as some sort of formulaic combination of pattern notabilities, because I think that experientially surprisingness and notability are a little different. Maybe this is splitting hairs too thinly, but I'm trying to be careful here.

Having built up our model of the eurycosm to the point where we have a concept of pattern, a lot of other concepts now come along for the ride. I have put a lot of work into developing a theory of mind founded on the concept of pattern. In my previous writings, e.g. “The HiddenPattern” (free PDF version here), we find concepts like mind, intelligence, emergence, creativity and so forth conceptualized in terms of webs of pattern. Some of the discussion there, if interpreted word for word, is implicitly founded on materialist assumptions and doesn't port immediately in exact detail to a eurycosmic context. However, the core ideas given there are not tied to materialism at all, and can all be ported to a eurycosmic context just fine, with just a little bit of creativity.

For instance, “emergence” is construed in pattern-theoretic terms as collective pattern. A pattern P is emergent between S1 and S2, if it is a much more notable pattern in the set {S1, S2} than in the individual entities S1 and S2 considered separately. This concept can be captured by some quite basic mathematics.

To appreciate the sorts of issues involved with porting a pattern-theoretic concept away from materialist assumptions, consider the concept of intelligence. Among other aspects, it assumes a notion of time. But in a eurycosmic perspective, one doesn't assume any particular time axis as a foundation. Rather, one has to view intelligence as existing relative to a certain bundle of local time axes (a concept to be introduced just below).

So let us deal with this little matter of time....

Principle 13: When an observation contains two overlapping sub-observations, it is sometimes the case that one of these is more surprising than the other. This difference can be viewed as a kind of gradient of surprisingness.

A surprisingness gradient between sub-observations is a kind of “surprisingness arrow”, different in nature from the “observation arrows” introduced in Principle 6.

Principle 14: Chaining together multiple surprisingness arrows, contained within various acts of observation, results in what may be thought of as a “local time axis”.

Given the potentially complex internal structure of observations, sometimes one local time axis may branch off into multiple axes, leading to a kind of branching tree (or rather, directed acyclic graph) of local time axes. A subset of such a branching dag may be considered as a “local time bundle.”

Given a local time bundle T, one can group elements of the observations related to T into sets. For instance, my dog Pumpkin, as I conceive her, begins as a large set of entities involved in a large set of different observations made at different locations along a time axis or bundle that exists relative to me as a complex observer. Pumpkin has a certain coherence as a set of entities, which can be partially captured by noting that there are many notable patterns in this set of entities – these patterns comprise her “Pumpkin-ness” as a set of regularities in my stream of observations.

So we can say:

Principle 15: A persistent entity S, relative to a local time bundle T, may be conceived as a set S of entities within observations associated with T, so that there are highly notable patterns emergent in S

We can then look at relationships of “elementary causality” between persistent entities. A persistent entity, within each observation that it intersects, is associated with a certain intensity distribution. One can then ask: along the time-bundle T, is there a pattern that changes in S1 tend to slightly precede changes in S2? Or vice versa? If the former, we may say there is an elementary causal relation between S1 and S2. We can draw a “pre-causal arrow” between S1 and S2.

Then we can ask -- from the perspective of the observer O, is there any other S so that there is a pre-causal arrow from S1 to S, and another pre-causal arrow from S2 to S? Can the pre-causal arros from S1 to S2 be explained in terms of chains of pre-causal arrows leading from S1 to S2 through other entities? If not, then from O's perspective, we can draw a causal arrow (not just pre-causal) from S1 to S2.

A persistent entity can be viewed as a series of time-chunked sub-entities. For instance, if one chunks time by days, one obtains a Ben Goertzel on 23/03/16, a Ben Goertzel on 24/03/16, etc. One can create time-chunked sub-entities based on eurycosmic time-bundles, and one can draw causal arrows between these time-chunked sub-entities. In doing so one gets an (observer-dependent, as always) causal web.

Principle 16: The network of causal arrows between time-chunked sub-entities of persistent entities, plays a significant role in the eurycosm. This network is the elemental form underlying what we think of as “space”; we may consider it as “proto-space” in the same sense that local time-bundles are a kind of proto-time.

The physical space modeled in current physics has a lot of structure beyond this kind of network structure. But what is proposed is that this is the essential structure underlying space: two time-chunked persistent entities S1 and S2 are “adjacent to” each other in proto-space if changes in S1 appear to cause changes in S2 directly, without intervening factors. And proto-space consists of the network of adjacencies between time-chunked persistent entities.

Principle 17: The patterns that we observe in our physical spacetime-based reality, correspond to analogout patterns in portions of the eurycosm outside our physical spacetime. In these analogous patterns, we have local time bundles in place of a physical time axis, and proto-space in place of a physical dimensional space. Furthermore, there is a correlation between The similarity between the patterns in our spacetime and analogous patterns in other portions of the eurycosm, is itself a significant pattern in the eurycosm.

With this Principle, we have now gotten beyond abstract quasi-mathematical metaphysical philosophy and started saying something concrete about the eurycosm. Namely: the stuff we see around us in this world, is in some ways reflected in other parts of the eurycosm.

But the dynamics of the eurycosm are not restricted to the dynamics that physicists and other scientists have identified in our physical universe. The eurycosm seems to display other sorts of dynamics as welin l. A key example, I suggest, is what Charles Peirce called “the tendency to take habits” and Rupert Sheldrake has called “morphic resonance”:

Principle 18: A characteristic of the eurycosm, or at least of large portions of the eurycosm within which humans have tended to exist, is that the distribution of pattern notability tends to be more peaked than one would expect from naïve assumptions of probabilistic independence among different entities. That is, once one observes a certain pattern P in one part of a set S that is part of the eurycosm, this surprisingly-much increases the probability of observing that pattern P in some other part of S. Further, this phenomenon seems to occur for sets S that are defined as spatiotemporal regions (though not only for such sets S). Generally, one seems to have a certain set of patterns that occur a bit more than one would expect, and the others that occur less.

In the case of a set S defined as a spatiotemporal region, this notability distribution phenomenon takes the form of “morphic resonance” or “patterns tending to continue.”

Due to this kind of phenomenon, the impact of eurycosmic dynamics as perceived within the spacetime continuum may appear to be “nonlocal” in nature. The probability distribution of events at one spot in the spacetime continuum, may appear correlatively or causally related with the probability distribution of events at some far-distant spot in the spacetime continuum. This may seem counterintuitive from perspectives within the spacetime continuum, but yet within the eurycosm the dynamic relationships in question may be direct and straightforward. Pathways of eurycosmic causality may be quite short, even if they connect events that are classified within the spacetime continuum as occurring at very distant spots in spacetime.

Fairly similar logic underlies various models of psi theory in terms of higher-dimensional space, such as have been proposed since the middle of the last century. Once one gets used to higher dimensional thinking, it's easy to see how an ESP signal that appears in our spacetime continuum as “spooky long range information transmission”, could be a short hop through a higher-dimensional space. The eurycosmic model proposed here, however, provisionally models the eurycosm as a nondimensional space with a weaker sort of topology and geometry.

Of course, these “containing eurycosmic space” ideas are still very general and don't tell you much about exactly what kinds of phenomena we're going to see in the context of ordinary human life. It is clear, however, that they do open the door for classic psi phenomena such as ESP, precognition and certain types of psychokinesis; and also for variants of reincarnation, survival-after-death, and related phenomena. What we have here is not a detailed explanation of these “anomalous” phenomena – there is a long way from these ideas to any sort of detailed explanation. What we have is something more abstract but still, I think, at least somewhat worthwhile: a rational, systematic model of the broader universe (the eurycosm) in which phenomena like psi, survival and so forth can sensibly be expected to exist. In later chapters we will explore eurycosmic treatments of the specifics of various phenomena of this nature.

Getting back to the specific proposal of peaked notability distributions: It's worth noting that analogous peaked-distribution phenomena occur in human brains. For instance, similarities as assessed in the brain often get distorted this way – so that very similar entities get their similarity boosted, and moderately similar entities get their similarities decreased. In the brain this sort of phenomenon is often a consequence of so-called “on-center, off-surround” neural connectivity patterns – in which a neuron stimulates other neurons near it, and inhibits other neurons far away from it. There is a decent analogy between these neural-net phenomena and the much more abstract setting we are considering here. But in fact one doesn't need inhibition per se to get the needed dynamics – all one needs is a preference for spreading attention to nearby entities, and a fixed (or roughly fixed) amount of attention to go around.

Principle 19: When a notable pattern has high intensity according to some observer, it often occurs that other related notable patterns get high intensity too – and to a higher degree than would be implied if intensity were proportional to notability. This is one root of the peaked notability distribution which leads to “morphic” type dynamics.

Now we are getting at the particular peculiarities of the interplay between our physical universe and the enclosing eurycosm. The eurycosm has many dynamics occurring within its shifting emerging timelines, but one of the more significant ones is a morphic resonance type dynamics embodied in the statistics of pattern notability. Our physical universe has its own dynamics, embedded in but more specialized than the broader dynamics of the eurycosm.

From a eurycosmic point of view, our spacetime continuum and an individual human mind are two examples of the same phenomenon: an autopoietic, self-reinforcing, self-creating pattern system. That is: an interlocking system of observations, each one involving an observer within the system observing other observers within the system. The peaked distribution of pattern notability encourages the emergence and perpetuation of such systems.

Each autopoietic pattern system has its own particular dynamics, and these can be more significant in governing the evolution of a persistent entity within the system, than broader eurycosmic dynamics. But still the broader eurycosmic dynamics are there, ready to peek through and influence things.

Principle 20: When a phenomenon within an autopoietic pattern system is so complex with respect to a certain persistent-entity observer that strongly overlaps with that system, that the observer cannot possibly predict it (consistent with the patterns that characterize the observer as a persistent entity), then the outcomes regarding that phenomenon tend to be biased via the distribution of pattern notability in the eurycosm. In this way, the “morphic” distribution of eurycosmic pattern notabilities manifests itself within the autopoietic pattern system.

According to this principle, for instance, the morphic dynamics of the eurycosm generally stays out of the way of the different, more rigid dynamics that characterize our ordinary spacetime (considering our spacetime continuum as an example of an autopoietic pattern system existing within the eurycosm). But when a phenomenon is simply too complex or too well obscured to be observed by a certain complex observer, this is where the broader dynamics of the eurycosm “leak through.”

Among the complex systems to which these morphic dynamics apply are human beings:

Principle 21. Individual human minds existing in our spacetime continuum, have analogues outside our physical universe in the eurycosm. The dynamics of the eurycosm-analogue of a physical-universe human mind, sometimes leaks into the physical universe and affects the dynamics of the analogous human mind, or other associated human minds.

So in this perspective, individual human minds – like you and me – are to be viewed as having (metaphorically speaking) one food in this physical spacetime continuum, and one foot elsewhere in the eurycosm. Since raw consciousness is viewed as an ambient aspect of everything in the eurycosm, this means that an individual human consciousness is partly inside and partly outside our physical universe.

I have referred to “mind” above but of course, there is no rigid boundary between human mind and human body. From a physical spacetime perspective, the mind of a system like a human being is effectively viewed as the fuzzy set of patterns associated with that physical system, which includes patterns at varying levels of abstraction.

Exactly which patterns in our physical universe are reflected in the outside eurycosm to which degrees, is not at all clear to me at this point in time. We need a far better science (or trans-science of some sort) of the eurycosm to explore and explain such things definitively. But I will attempt to say some useful things on these topics in a later chapter.

It is worth reiterating the apparent relevance of morphic eurycosmic dynamics to human cognitive dynamics:

Principle 22. Human minds are often so complex with respect to themselves and each other, that morphic dynamics from the eurycosm play a significant role in guiding their dynamics, both within physical spacetime and outside it.

Finally, while human minds are of particular interest to us, since we are human, it doesn't follow that they are of especial importance in the overall eurycosm:

Principle 23: It seems there is a variety of different complex, self-organizing systems – and a variety of different systems usefully conceivable as “intelligent” – in the eurycosm. Some of these eurycosmic minds appear to be quite broad and diffuse in nature, spanning much larger regions of the eurycosm than something like an individual human mind. There may even be comprehensive self-organizing, autopoietic and “mind-like” dynamics across the eurycosm as a whole, but this is difficult for us to firmly know given our limited perspectives as humans.

Many individuals, in various “altered” states of consciousness, have encountered non-human minds evidently resident in some region of eurycosmic space. Many religious traditions posit the existence of vastly transhuman eurycosmic minds, including in some cases minds that span the entire eurycosm (a “Universal Mind”). My attitude is that each such hypothesis must be considered on its own merits. On the one hand, human individuals and groups are capable of all manner of delusions; on the other hand, our ignorance as mere humans is immense and the eurycosm is almost-doubtless brimming with all sorts of complex systems we are unable to appreciate, and some that we can just barely limn, or can perceive only in badly distorted ways due to our own limitations.

Humanity's lack of a central and unique role in the eurycosm does not imply that humans are irrelevant or useless in the grand eurycosmic scheme of things. Just as humans rely on bacteria and various other micro-organisms to survive and flourish, so may broader, in some senses “greater” intelligences in the eurycosm rely on “simpler,” more constrained beings like humans to nourish their own existence. From a very high level view, one might view constrained structures like our spacetime continuum (and the minds anchored therein, like our own) as particular types of “pattern generation engines” that, in addition to possessing their own intrinsic value, play a role of ongoingly generating new patterns and casting them out into the eurycosm, where they may combine with other patterns and play all sorts of roles beyond human imagination. This tantalizing though speculative theme will be taken up in a later chapter!

Before ranging too far afield into intriguing speculations, though, it will be better if I now conclude this first chapter, which contains my initial attempt to articulate some basic principles describing the eurycosm in which our physical universe and individual minds are embedded, and from which they have emerged.

I have presented these principles here without much justification, but they were not pulled out of thin air (nor pulled directly out of the eurycosm via “divine inspiration”!); they are grounded in a variety of theories and observations in disciplines including physics, parapsychology, biology, philosophy of mind, spiritual and psychedelic studies, and others. In subsequent chapters I will dig into some of these connections in more depth; in this chapter I have opted for a simpler statement of basic ideas, just to give the lay of the land.


  1. Some folks have asked me (via email etc.) about the testability of these ideas...

    As time permits I will post a rigorous mathematical formalization of the ideas in that blog post.... That's kind of easy, just a matter of taking the time to do it....

    The framework as outlined in that initial post is kinda too broad to have testable consequences. However, a mathematical formalization will allow one to make additional assumptions that will make the derivation of testable consequences easier.

    For instance, where we say

    the distribution of pattern notability tends to be more peaked than one would expect from naïve assumptions of probabilistic independence among different entities.

    this is not quite testable because it doesn't say how much more peaked. But it's not particularly hard to turn this into a testable hypothesis; I just need to think about the most "natural" way to do so...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Giulio said, before blogger ate it:
    "Re Principle 9 - "some entities in the eurycosm iare going to appear “simpler” , more “surprising”, or more “intense” (i.e. more the subject of focus) than others." - "simple," "surprising" and "intense" are three alternative names for the same thing, right? Is that Pirsig's Quality? Note the typo (iare)."

  4. I think that "Simpler" and "more surprising" can be considered synonymous in a sense. Surprising can be taken to mean "having more information", but if one uses some sort of Occam prior in measuring relative information, then this works out the same as simplicity really...

    "Intense" is a different notion, and the proportionality between intensity and simplicity/surprisingness is a metaphysical or transpersonal-psychological assertion rather than a mathematical assertion...

  5. Thanks Ben! But this is not The Post Blogger Ate - I deleted it because reading on I found that "simple," "surprising" and "intense" are different things. But it's good to see that they are related. To me, "more intense" and "more surprising" are related (if something has little information it can't be that intense).

    For some reasons Pirsig's Quality keeps coming to my mind reading about "simple," "surprising" and "intense."

    The rest of the eaten post was about parallels with Kant's Ding an Sich (The Thing Itself), Prigogine's idea that irreversible change (intensity?) is more fundamental than spacetime, and Abraham/Roy's book mentioned here:

    OK I like the sauce. Where is the beef?

  6. Hey man ... the Beef is coming when I get time ... I'm pretty busy with more practical stuff so writing this kind of thing only occurs in spare moments (as fun and, I think, ultimately valuable as these sorts of ideas are...)

    Maybe Pirsig's Quality is something like the Peircean Firstness of especially simple/surprising/intense entities/experiences...

  7. Hope you get more spare moments soon!

  8. One more comment in response to some discussion on Facebook -- actually this essay kinda began as an effort to articulate a suitably abstract setting in which to posit "
    Principle 18: A characteristic of the eurycosm, or at least of large portions of the eurycosm within which humans have tended to exist, is that the distribution of pattern notability tends to be more peaked than one would expect from naïve assumptions of probabilistic independence among different entities. " -- i.e. my abstracted form of Rupert Sheldrake 's morphic field hypothesis and Peirce's "tendency to take habits" ...

    I wanted to lift the morphic-field/tendency-to-take-habits hypothesis outside the spacetime continuum, so it could be used as part of the explanation for the emergence/existence of the spacetime continuum...

    If metaphysics scares you, think of it as euryphysics -- a kind of physics, but of a wider kind of universe than conventional physics deals with so far. Maybe euryphysics is to QM as QM is to classical physics ;)

  9. I called the wider kind of universe "The BIG Infinite Fractal Onion Universe":

    By the way Ben are you still writing the book about The Physics of Psi or are you going to merge with this?

  10. The edited book on the physics of psi will still exist, and probably I will write a euryphysics-oriented chapter for that book...

  11. Comparing to my own views, most of the differences that I have are in the first three (0, 1, and 2) principles. After that, I either agree or agree with the inverse of the principle because I am looking at physical appearances as a function of sensory gaps or inequalities within some perceptual frame. In my view, machines ride on the universality of the gaps in sense and present a reflection of sense from a perspectiveless ‘outside’ rather than containing authentic experiences of their own.

    //Principle 0: In dealing with subtle matters like the nature of mind and reality, it is best to avoid absolutist attitudes, and to consider concepts and entities as they appear in the perspective of some particular observer or some particular class of observers.//

    Agree with the exception of the status of sense itself. I consider it absolutely impossible for anything to ‘exist’ in any way which is neither sensed nor sensible. I don’t like the term ‘observers’ and favor ‘participants’ or ‘frame of perceptual-participation’ instead.

    //Principle 1: The physical spacetime continuum in which we perceive ourselves as living, while in our normal waking state of consciousness, is best viewed as a subset of a larger realm.//

    Agree. I see spacetime as an abstraction and inversion that should actually refer to natural phenomena which can be ‘spaced’ and timed, i.e. measured as having a position or causal context. This is an area which I think is ripe for discovery, with specific connections to time dilation/distance contraction, Electric permittivity and magnetic permeability (or rather their inverse, since a universal sensory-motor primitive would supply infinite permittivity and permeability, spaced-matter and timed mass-energy would be understood as the ‘metric tension’ of sense defining limited limitation on itself). Contextuality and non-locality properties of QM can similarly be used to define time and space as emergent properties of the context-selecting, locality-realizing pan-sense primitive. Quantum phenomena should be understood as literally ‘only partially real’, or the bridge between the contextualizing-realizing primitive and the spaced-timed context which has been publicly realized in Classical Cartesian-Newtonian terms.

    //Principle 2: “Consciousness”, in the sense of raw awareness, is best understood as a quality that can be an aspect of any entity in the eurycosm.//

    Here I would turn the tables on ‘entity’ and suggest that there can be no such thing outside of consciousness. Sense, as the sole and universal qualifier would be necessary to define any quality or set of qualities that constitute an entity.

    1. Hmmm... whether consciousness is an aspect of everything, or OTOH consciousness is the infrastructure/ground of everything, feels like more of a semantic distinction to me. I.e. as mathematical models these two perspectives are isomorphic, it would seem...

  12. The ambitious endeavor you have embarked on here is as unfathomably fascinating as its topic, Ben. Thank you for sharing it this way with other seekers.

    Whether through repeatable tests or otherwise, the proof of this pudding of puddings too will be in high quality verifications. For even though there can be great value and beauty in ideas that provide powerful emotional and intellectual satisfaction, we value even more whether what we suspect to be true is actually true or not. The potency of veracity cannot be overstated.

    Years ago during the discourse among the aspiring cosmic engineers of the fledgling 'Order of Cosmic Engineers' you testified to having had a few numinous experiences that deeply impressed you and which you could not explain through what we know so far of physics. You believe(d) these experiences to be tantalizing glimpses of what you presently coin the eurycosmos or perhaps encounters with (aspects of) eurycosmic, transnatural entities extant within it.

    In that discourse we —you and I— agreed as to the objective reality of the experiences you referenced. We disagreed as to whether your interpretation of their eurycosmic nature was accurate. I suggested that these undeniably real experiences might have been wholly and extremely local in the sense that they were produced by and contained in their entirety within your brain... without extending beyond —this word is certainly appropriate here— your meninges or skull.

    In other words, I questioned your interpretation of your experiences as actual observations of, manifestations of, encounters with, interactions with (aspects of) the eurycosmos or with transnatural entities / realities.

    Accordingly, I warmly encourage any and all attempts at thinking out of the box with regard to reasonably credible *verifications* —somehow someway— of hypotheses of manifestations of, encounters with, interactions with (aspects of) the eurycosmos or with eurycosmic, transnatural entities / realities.

    Skeptical doubting Thomases are real too. They will reasonably expect extraordinarily compelling and credible the verifications of extraordinary claim of the reality of the eurycosmos. They don't want to believe, they want to know, to find out, to experience it for themselves.

    I wish you the greatest of success in this endeavor too, Ben. I will be most interested in tracking your progress with this, and hope to be of some assistance as a sounding board, an occasional, constructive Devil's advocate, and otherwise.

    Interesting times ahead!

    1. Hi Phillipe, thanks for the comments! Actually, convincing or entertaining skeptical Doubting Thomas's is not particularly interesting or important to me. The reality of psi is IMO pretty well established, and the majority of the human race understands the real but slippery/odd nature of psi, so the fact that a certain percentage of the community maintains a skeptical attitude is a cultural-psychological peculiarity that is of peripheral interest to me.

      I am however, very interested personally in deriving dramatic practical, observable, experience-able implications from these ideas -- not just in spinning out abstract concepts. My hope is to go from concepts to mathematics to concrete predictions to compelling demonstrations. But whether these demonstrations convince hard-boiled skeptics -- who cares.... (As my dad always says, "science advances one funeral at a time" ;p .... Which may pose some difficulties as we cure mortality -- but I digress!)

  13. As comments here cannot be edited after publication, the sentence starting with "They will reasonably expect... " should have read: They will reasonably expect extraordinarily compelling and credible verifications of the extraordinary claim of the reality of the eurycosmos."