As we discussed earlier, Hoffman's Interface Theory of Perception assumes that everything around us is just icons constructed in our brains. But if I have my icons and you have your icons, why do we often agree? Hoffman answers that we interact with the same reality, whatever it might be, and deploy similar interfaces. Trying to test his bold predicts, Hoffman begins with Einstein's bewilderment with quantum theory. Einstein was worried about whether his quantum theory entails that "the moon only exists when I look at it." Although it contradicts the quantum theory, he believes in local realism, which means spacetime and objects exist when unobserved and have definite values of physical properties—such as position, momentum, spin, charge, and polarization. So he assumed that quantum theory must be an incomplete theory of reality. In 1964, physicist John Bell discovered that quantum theory predicts outcomes that contradict local realism. Bell's experiments have been performed in numerous variations, and quantum theory predictions have been confirmed each time. It proved that Einstein's local realism was empirically false. One experimental test of local realism was conducted at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, which measured the spins of entangled electrons. Entangled electrons must be described as one indivisible object, no matter how far they are from each other. No matter how far apart, they could be a billion light years. Still, if you measure the electron's spin near you, you instantly know what you would find if you measured the other electron a billion light years away. In the Delf experiment, two electrons separated by 1280 meters had their spins entangled. It takes the light just over four millionths of a second to travel this distance. And spins are measured simultaneously to ensure that one electron measurement cannot affect the other by any local process. As a result, the Delf experiment confirmed the predictions of quantum theory and rejected local realism. Moreover, the spin measurements of the two electrons were correlated in a way that would be impossible if local realism were true. As a result, either realism is false, and the electrons had no definite values of spin before they were measured, or locality is false, and the electrons influence each other faster than the speed of light. Or both realism and locality are false. Most of us believe in physical reality, consisting of objects in spacetime that existed before and independently of any observer. But Huffman thinks this belief cannot survive the implications of the quantum theory. Some physicists suppose that quantum theory entails that reality differs from one agent to another and urges a profoundly new view of the world. Hoffman discusses several experiments and theories in quantum and evolutionary biology and concludes that their outcomes agree with his interface theory of perception. Our perceptions of space and time and objects are interface, shaped by natural selection, in a personal fashion, not to show reality but to direct our actions in ways that improve our fitness. Personal fashion means that my fitness benefits me and may harm another. For example, a bar of chocolate could boost your energy can kill your cat. Natural selection shaped my perceptions to inform me about the consequences of my action upon the world. Hoffmann does not deny that there is a world out there even when we are not looking, but our perceptions, like observations in quantum theory, don't reveal that world. According to the physicist John Wheeler, we don't passively observe a preexisting objective reality. Instead, we actively participate in constructing reality through our acts of observation. Wheeler illustrates this with his delayed-choice experiment, a several thought experiments in quantum physic. The most well-known is the double-slit experiment, where a photon gun shoots one photon at a time toward a photographic plate, which records where each photon lands. And between the plate and the gun is a metal screen with two tiny slits through which the photon can pass. If just one slit is open, the photon lands on a portion of the photographic plate just behind the slit. So the locations on the plate that get lots of photons when just one slit is open will get fewer or none when both slits are open. It appears at first glance that each photon went through both slits at the same time. That is no problem for a wave, but a photon is a particle. So how does a particle do this? Does it split itself in half? If we try to observe the slit closely, we always see a photon go through one slit, never both. No one knows what a photon does when both slits are open. It remains a mystery in quantum physics. No one knows what's happening. Even though we can write down simple formulas involving linear combinations, physicists call a superposition of both slits that accurately model the results of experiments. In Wheeler's delayed-choice experiment, we wait until the photon passes the metal screen and decide what to measure. What we choose to measure determines how the photon behaves before we measure it. In the delayed-choice experiment, the past depends on our choice in the present. Wheeler's experiments later expanded to a cosmic scale. For example, consider using the James telescope to capture photons from the big bang almost 14 billion years ago. In this case, we can choose to measure which path through the gravitational lens a photon takes, or we can choose to measure a superposition. If we decide to measure its path and discover it, then for 14 billion years, the photon was on that path because of a choice we made now. On the other hand, if we decided to measure its superposition, the photon would have a different history for the last 14 billion years. Our choice today determines billions of years of history. Hoffman says that quantum theory smashed our intuitions about objects by denying that they have definite values of physical properties independent from the observer. Even space and time do not survive the quantum hammer. In the last century, Einstein showed that different observers moving at different speeds disagree in their measurements of time and distance. But according to Einstein, they agree about the speed of light and intervals in spacetime. Einstein came up with the concept of spacetime in 1915, A union of space and time into a single entity in which space and time can trade off. It raised hope that spacetime is an objective reality, even if space and time are not. But, as Hoffmann says, Wheeler's delayed-choice experiment leveled Einstein's hope. Wheeler proposed the principle of "It from bit": information, not matter, is fundamental. In short, the matter arises from the information. Indeed Wheeler's assumption is counterintuitive. To our intuition, spacetime should exist before the bits of information. But could our intuition be wrong? Physicists Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking showed that the amount of information you can cram into a region of space is proportional to the area of the surface surrounding that space. They first discovered this rule for black holes but then realized it holds from any region of spacetime, not just the region containing black holes. This rule is called the "holographic principle." The holographic principle asserts that we can describe everything inside a region of space by bits of information restricted to the boundary. Observers only have access to bits of information written on the boundary surrounding space, not to "objects" in space. In this chapter, Hoffman started by predicting that spacetime and objects do not exist unperceived. Then, he tries to examine his prediction through a tour of physics, particularly quantum theory. He brings Einstein, Wheeler, Hawking, and others and doesn't disguise that he ignores a few physicists' interpretations of quantum theory that claim to grant reality to objects and spacetime. Hoffman begins with the widespread belief among physicists that spacetime is doomed. But, if spacetime is doomed, so do its objects, which is his main proposal. I will not be covering all physics theories and principles in this chapter, where Hoffman discusses black holes, quantum information, Hawking cosmology, Hawking radiation, black complementarity, and quantum entanglement. And his purpose in this brief on Physics is to show the growing confidence among the physics society that spacetime is doomed. And according to Hoffman, if spacetime is doomed, its objects are also doomed.
After discussing the physical theories that assume spacetime is not a fundamental reality in chapter six, Hoffman, in chapter seven, talks about the current views of visual perceptions He begins with the news from physics that spacetime is doomed didn't change the typical theories of visual perceptions, which assume that objects in space and time are fundamental in physical reality. According to this understanding, visual perception usually perceives the actual properties of these preexisting objects. Hoffman discusses these standard theories of perception and then suggests a new standpoint; He claims that spacetime and objects are a code our senses use to report fitness. Hoffman's new perspective on our perception of space and time is motivated by his ITP theory and the holographic principle discussed in the previous chapter. The holographic principle tells us that the amount of data you can store in a region of space depends on the area surrounding that region, not its volume. In ITP theory, our perceptions have evolved to encode fitness payoffs and to guide adoptive behavior. And Hoffman proposes that perceptions do it partly by data compression. Suppose you want to upload a profile photo on a website or an online resume. But you can't because the image is too large. In this case, you will use some program to compress the photo, then ensure that it's not compressed to the point that it becomes vague, and at the same time, you get the size that goes with the server requirements. It's a happy trade-off. Although fitness-payoff functions can vary in hundreds of dimensions, human vision, shaped by millions of years of natural selection, is compressed into three dimensions of space and one dimension of time and objects with shapes and colors. We, as a species, can't bear hundreds of dimensions, while other species may. No doubt, this compression omits some information, but we see enough information to survive and rear offspring. Hoffmann's assumption is we live and move in data structure with a format of spacetime and objects, which evolved in Homo sapiens to represent fitness payoffs. Our perceptions are encoded in this data structure, but we wrongly believe spacetime is an objective reality. So why does the compression of fitness lead us to have different models of perception- vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch? Hoffman says distances in space perhaps encode the costs of reaching resources. For instance, Apples on a tree that costs a few calories to acquire may appear just a meter away, while another apple tree that costs far more calories may appear much farther away. And one recent experiment supports Hoffman's idea; the experiment found that people given a drink containing glucose make shorter estimates of distance than those given an artificially sweetened drink. Likewise, people who are more aerobically fit estimate a distance to be shorter than those who are less fit. Then Hoffman moves to discuss the mechanism of error correction. For example, we use encryption to prevent our valuable information from being hacked or stolen online. But another problem when we bank or buy online is the noise; consider purchasing a product online for 10$, and when you finish, you find that instead of paying 10$, you have paid 1000$. What happened is that the noise on the net slipped two decimals, and you spent 1000$ instead of 10$. It is a very costly mistake. And if such a mistake occurs often, online commerce will be impossible. And to prevent these mistakes, the data is formatted in an error-correcting code before being sent. (Redundancy, in general, is when we use more than one word together that means the same thing, but in engineering, it is the intentional duplication of a system's critical components or functions to increase system reliability and improve actual system performance.) Relying on the discovery of Bekenstein and Hawking, Hoffman predicts that natural selection has built redundancy into our perceptual interface and shaped our interface of spacetime and icons of physical objects to be redundant codes for fitness payoffs that enable detection and correct errors. Jacob Bekenstein and Stephen Hawking discovered that spacetime is redundant, and two dimensions contain all the information in any 3D space. It is counterintuitive to think of the 3D world of objects as mere senses reconstruction. But, according to Hoffman, if our senses have evolved to report fitness, they require redundancy. Such as the extra space dimension ensures that their reports are not confused by the noise. The chapter contains many illustrations of visual illusions to let the reader discover themselves in the act of correcting errors. Then he uses these insights to play with clothing; he shows how we can manipulate the visual codes to make men and women look better in their clothes. Most vision scientists will disagree with Hoffman and assume that vision is veridical. Although they admit that perceptions can distort reality, they suppose that perception's goal is to reveal objective reality. One of the arguments used by vision scientists is symmetries in our perceptions of objects corresponding to symmetries in the objective world. Hoffman refutes this claim that symmetries in our perceptions entail nothing about the structure of objective reality. Instead, he sees symmetries as simple programs we use to compress data and correct errors. For example, consider looking at a coffee cup at your desk. How will it look if you move a little to the right or a little to the left? You can answer that using symmetry rather than storing millions of numbers per view. Another counterintuitive claim Hoffman makes is about causality; he assumes that the appearance of causal interactions between physical objects in spacetime is helpful fiction, but fiction nonetheless. Again, Hoffman also uses an analog from the computer; If I move an icon, or a file, on my desktop to the trashbin, indeed, it is beneficial, but I will be mistaken if I think that the movement of the file to the trashcan literally caused the file to be deleted. Hoffman assumes physics does not contradict his prediction that physical causality is fiction since physicists now say that spacetime is doomed and its physical objects and their apparent causality.
Polychromy Mutations of an Interface
In chapter eight, Hoffman brings us on a journey to learn about colors, and we discover how color is a code used by many species to compress and correct data for fitness. Color can trigger our emotions and memories and guide our actions, and like any of our perceptions, it is a window to fitness and, at the same time, a prison. For example, nothing will happen if we try to imagine a color I have never seen, although may another person or a member from another specie sees that I have not. The human eye only sees the light with wavelengths between about four hundred and seven hundred nanometers. So it is a very tiny fraction of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Even though we don't see microwaves and ultraviolet rays, they still can burn or even sometimes kill us. The human eye has 7 million cones and 120 million rods, each carrying compressed information. The eye circuitry will cut it down to 1 million signals and deliver it to the brain, which has to correct errors and decode actionable messages about fitness. And most of us are familiar with correcting errors and injecting color into optical illusions. Hoffman uses several examples, like the Olympic Rings and neon-squares illusions, to explain how color is a code to compress information much as compressing that profile photo. However, our visual system's sophisticated logic for correcting errors and decoding colors is still mysterious, and vision scientists work to understand it. In the relationship between colors and emotions, Hoffman discusses how the Millions of years of evolution shaped our senses to encode fitness payoffs in a language of experience, including experiencing emotions such as anger, hate, love, joy, and fear. There is a possibility that specific colors may trigger particular emotions, and the science of color psychology is now studying this. Preliminary results indicate the existence of such links; for instance, red is associated with lust, power, hunger, or excitement; yellow with jealousy or happiness; green with envy, harmony, or good taste. The emotion evoked by color depends on its specific shade and visual context. Moreover, some scientific experiments indicate that people prefer colors they associate with objects they like, such as the blue of the sky or freshwater. Contrarily, they dislike colors that they associate with unsavory things, such as the brown of feces. The associations between colors and objects are shaped over time by evolution, culture, and personal experience. Furthermore, there are combinations of color and texture called "chromatures." Color is crucial in branding, and companies invest much time and money in marketing. There are countless examples, from McDonald's golden arch to the Twitter bluebird. Regarding colors and chromatures, Hoffman discusses the dispute between the two telecom giants, T-Mobile and AT&T; T-Mobile spent considerable time and money branding specific magenta for their logo. Then AT&T decided to use a plum color for marketing its subsidiary, Aio Wireless, which competes with T-Mobile. But, the plum was similar to T-Mobile magenta, which prompted T-Mobile to sue Aio. Still, Aio defended that the difference between the plum and magenta is about twenty times greater than the human threshold to discriminate between two colors placed side by side. To replay to the Aio defense, T-Mobile hired Hoffman as an expert, and he pointed out that customer rarely sees the two colors side by side but instead must use memory to distinguish them. But, our ability to differentiate from memory is poor, and differentiating plum from magenta is at the limit of our ability. The court agreed with Hoffman's point that the similarity between the two colors confuses the customers to think that T-Mobile is associated with Aio. In 2014, the court issued a fine against Aio. The example shows how color can become an intellectual property, but the combination of color and texture, chromatures, is even more informative than color; they can be crafted to target specific emotions or to be harmonious with a particular product or brand. Hoffman talks about chromatures and shows, relying on several experiments, that if you understand chromatures, you can manipulate the related emotional reaction. According to Hoffman, when we grasp that our perceptions are a user interface evolved to navigate our actions and keep us alive enough to raise offspring, we can understand how it codes fitness information and guides our actions. Then use this knowledge to deal with a particular problem, such as creating chromature that evokes a specific emotion. One of the mean reasons that make us believe that we see reality as it is and not as an interface is that we're sure others see things the way we do. Let's go back to the red tomato on the table; If I say to you that "red tomato looks ripe and ready to eat," and you agree, I naturally assume that your perceptions are the same as mine, and we both see objective reality. Otherwise, why do we agree that the tomato is red and ready to eat? Even if we agree in the conversation about the red tomato, we may profoundly disagree in perception. To clarify this point, Hoffman brings up the neural condition called synesthesia. In which information meant to trigger one of our perceptions activates several instead. Four percent of humans are synesthetes; a synesthete person lives in a perceptual world foreign to ours. There are various kinds of synesthesia, where music, printed letters, emotions, and even tastes can trigger colors and chromatures. For example, we usually hear the sound of speech, but some synesthetes will also see each sound as a specific color. In this context, Hoffmann uses the case of Michael Watson. In Michael's condition, each taste has an associated shape in three dimensions that Michael can feel with his hands. For instance, the taste of spearmint for Michael combined with a cold soft round shape like glass or stone, and some bitter taste feels like oily leaves on a short vine. The synesthetes enjoy distinctive perceptions that guide adaptive behavior and are as vivid, complex, nuanced, and dynamic as our own. And what Hoffman wants from a brief tour of synesthesia is to make us reexamine our belief that we see reality as it is. Hoffman argues that what Michael and other synesthetes feel is neither veridical perception nor illusion. But simply a helpful data structure for representing properties of tastes. Moreover, the synesthete experience is not an imagination or weak conceptualization. Instead, it is immediate and consistent over time. In the grapheme-color synesthete, for example, the individual who experiences a specific color for each letter will always report the exact color. We have no grounds to claim that our perception is veridical and Whatson's perception is an illusion. However, an evolutionary mutation gave Micheal an upgraded interface, richer and more adaptive than our own. And in the future, if our survival requires such an interface, may natural selection favor Micheal's kind of synesthesia? Of course, we don't have an ideal perception; we have an inherited interface with formats of smells, tastes, colors, shapes, sounds, touch, and emotions. But other organisms depend on countless modes of perception, which we can't even imagine correctly more than guessing the color we never experienced. For example, what is it like to be a bat hunting moths using echolocation? or to be a beetle on a bottle? Or a shrimp with twelve kinds of photoreceptors, six for ultraviolet? The answer we don't know.
Scrutiny You got what you need in both life and business
In chapter nine, Hoffman explores how limited the vision we see is. We are all familiar with the quizzes about the differences between two pictures. And for most of us, it takes a considerable time to find them. This phenomenon is known as "change blindness." We scan the two pictures in vain until we catch the difference; after that, we cannot help but see it. So how could it happen that we missed the difference from the beginning? The eye receives billions of bits of information each second, but it takes a lot of time and energy to read them all for the visual system. So instead, it deletes most of them immediately. It will select only forty to read. And the reason is that natural selection shaped our visual attention to be a competent foragers. What does that mean? Let's say I had to review a book of eighty thousand words. So naturally, I must ensure that the brief of six thousand words is compelling. But imagine the visual system which cuts billions of messages to only forty. It Should be ruthless about deletion but still follows stringent and simple rules. Those who work in marketing and product design know how essential these rules are in the battle for customers' attention. Hoffman saves large room in this chapter to talk about applying these rules in the marketing and commercial design field, and I will not go into it in this review. The entrance in the vision filter work is the positioning of its photoreceptors. Unlike the camera, where all sensor's pixels are equally placed, the eye retina deploys more photoreceptors in the center of the vision and fewer toward the periphery. Distributing photoreceptors in this way suits a vital strategy for foraging for fitness. The wide field of vision with low resolution is crucial in searching for possible fitness messages. For example, a flicker on the left might be the twitch of a tiger tail, and the sparkle on the right might be water. These possibilities are ranked for importance; a better check for a tiger before looking for the water. Then the eye will look directly at each item to see in high resolution and analyze it to decide what to do next. If it turns out that the flicker over there on the left is the rustle of tree leaves, not a tiger, it is time to move on and check for the water. Hoffman argues that because we forage for fitness, it is hard to see the differences between the pictures. We search in our visual field for signals about fitness worth the energy and time to explore in detail. Most messages aren't worth the effort, and we ignore them. If we ignore them, we are blind to their changes. The change blindness is not malfunctioning in seeing the objective reality. It is a strategy to dismiss messages unlikely to benefit our fitness. External cues yank our attention, but internal goals can bridle it. For example, all yellow things become more salient if you search for a lemon. Our brain's neural activity reduces the salient of the more common in the field of view and enriches the salient of the rare. So if my endogenous goal is to find a lemon, this will alter the salience map of the lemon by enhancing the related neural activity. And if you check for a tiger in the branches, your target has a variety of colors, and choosing the wrong color can mean life or death. The yellow on the tiger matches the yellow on the branches, and it is hard to distinguish the tiger from the brush. So instead, you enhance the oranges of the tiger. Our perceptions, Hoffman claims, don't portray objective reality more than the magnifying-glass icon in the photo editing app portrays the actual shape and location inside my computer or phone. When I click on the magnifying icon, the photo enlarges, and If I wonder what happens, I may conclude that the icon is the cause. I would be wrong. The causal relation between the magnifying icon and the enlarging of the picture is fiction but helpful fiction as long as I use it to edit the photo. But if I want to build my magnifying app, I need to understand the deeper level of cause and effect within the computer. Likewise, the applications that suppose neural activity in the brain causes my thoughts and actions are practical but still fiction. Suppose we want to understand the fundamental relationship between neural activity and conscious experience. Then, according to Hoffman, we must comprehend the deeper cause and effect level hidden by my sensory interface's spacetime format. So, if we want to summarise the book's argument: our perceptions can't know the thing itself because a cloud of fitness payoffs hides it. And the explanation is that evolution directed the perceptions to search for fitness payoffs, not the thing-in-itself. So my perceptual experience doesn't describe the sun-in-itself or its objective reality. Many would find Hoffmann's argument too radical. But the eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant argued long before Hoffman that objects are not mind-independent. They exist entirely in our perceptions. The different point of Hoffman's argument is that Hoffman thinks his theory enables a science of objective reality. While Kant believes we can't know the thing in itself.
Community: The network of conscious agents
Hoffman doesn't claim that he knows the objective reality hidden behind the interface of perceptions. Still, it's not necessary to be beyond the reach of science forever. In chapter 10, the last, he proposes and discusses that our conscious experiences may be fundamental. He started the chapter titled "community: the network of conscious agents" with a quote from Jalaluddin Rumi, "silence is the language of god, all else is poor translation." We often seek the delight of mystery in the black holes or the possibilities of parallel universes, but how about the mystery of conscious experience? How does it emerge from the brain? Unfortunately, no magical brain scan or breakthroughs in neuroscience answers how the brain produces the taste of coffee, the bubbling stream sound, or the smell of summer night. . Throughout the book, Hoffman tries to prove that we are misled by believing that consciousness emerges from the brain's neural activities. And for much of the book, he attempts to explain how evolution shaped our perceptions to guide adaptive behavior and hide the truth. Evolution by natural selection grants us an interface consisting of objects in spacetime and enables us to reason about the cause and effect within the interface. So if you eat poisoned food or jump in front of a vehicle on a highway, that can mean life or death. We have to take it seriously, still not less fictional, and it does not give us insight into the operations of objective reality more than grasping the cause and effect in a video game. But what is the objective reality? Indeed, There has yet to be an agreement on that. Perhaps, as the philosopher Nick Bostrom points out, our world is a computer simulation, and we are avatars haunting it. And famous figures have taken this possibility seriously, but how can conscious experience emerge from a computer simulation? The hypothesis stumbles on a convincing answer to how conscious experience could pup up from unconscious ingredients. The book suggests that consciousness is a fundamental reality. Where conscious agents, not objects in spacetime, are fundamental. And Hoffman uses the term "conscious realism," where the world entirely consists of conscious agents. And to turn conscious realism into science, he believes we need a mathematical theory relying on a generalization of quantum theory and general relativity. And this mathematical theory must be precise about conscious experience, conscious agents, their networks, and their dynamics. Hoffmann's argument that consciousness, not physical objects, is the fundamental reality contradicts physicalism, which, in short, is the belief that everything in the universe is made of matter. But it does not mean Hoffman presents pseudoscience because his theory deviates from physicalism ontology. Instead, he argues that science presumes no ontology. Each theory, like each species, must compete to endure. A theory that today boasts a long reign may tomorrow suffer a sudden extinction. Today physicalism does not have a solid ground in some new science territories, such as quantum gravity and the relation of biology to consciousness. Some misinterpret conscious realism to regard it as panpsychism, which claims that physical objects, such as electrons, may have consciousness; rock may not be conscious, even if it consists of conscious particles. However, Hoffman thinks conscious realism can be understood by looking in a mirror. I see my familiar face, but I don't see the world of my conscious experiences, which is equally familiar but far richer and includes my dreams, aspiration, love, joy and sorrow, and body sensations. The face is a portal into the world of conscious experience and gives us partial access to the conscious world of another person. We know what's going on when we see a human face making a genuine smile, frown, feeling of disgust, or surprise. But, when we turn our look from a human to a monkey or a cat, we find that the icon of each tells us far less about the conscious world hidden behind it. And if we shift our gaze from a cat to a mouse, an ant, a bacterium, a virus, a rock, or an atom, each subsequent icon will tell us less and less about the conscious world behind it. The icon of the ant tells us so little, but with rocks and particles, we are confident there is no conscious world. Hoffman argues that our decline of insight as we shift our look from human to ant to quark is a decline in our interface, not in the unconscious objective reality. We have finite capacities of perception and memory, but we are embedded in an infinite network of conscious agents whose complexity exceeds our finite capacities. The rock is not conscious, but as the face, it is an icon pointing to a living world of conscious experiences not less vibrant than my own. In chapter one of the book, we discussed split-brain surgery. I said what interested Hoffman and others in the procedure wasn't the division of a unified brain into two hemispheres but the consequences on consciousness after the surgery. Hoffman says according to conscious realism, the scalpel divides a conscious agent into two agents, and according to his interface theory, the brain is an icon that offers primal insight into conscious agents and their combination. If we dig deep into each hemisphere, we see a network of billions of neurons. If then move further into each neuron and its chemistry and physics, the crude insight setbacks into none. Some might object that conscious realism has nothing to say about our extensive unconscious mental process. But Hoffman refutes this objection, and He says if I talk with a friend, and even though I have no direct access to her consciousness, I believe my friend is conscious. Similarly, because I am not conscious of part of my mental process, that does not mean these processes are unconscious. What I suppose is unconscious could be conscious by other agents in my instantiation. As Hoffman describes it, a conscious agent enjoys a repertoire of experiences. And because it networks with many other agents in its instantiation, which have a tremendous variety of disparate repertoires, the simple agent lacks the resources to experience all the experiences of all agents in its instantiation. An agent, at best, employs its repertoire of experiences to paint a crude portrayal of its instantiation. According to Hoffman's conscious realism, our conscious agents, as humans, paint a body, brain, neurons, chemicals, and particles on the canvas of spacetime. And when we step back and marvel at our creation, we conclude that there is nothing conscious to see. Hoffman says this simple mistake fosters physicalism and turns the problem of consciousness into a mystery. What conscious realism claims are fundamental is not just conscious experiences but conscious agents decide and act. But, the agent's actions are distinct from its experiences; it has two separate "boxes," one for actions and one for experiences. Yet, a conscious agent does not necessarily have to be self-aware. To be aware of itself, the agent has to devote some experience to representing some of its own decisions and actions. Hence, its interface must have icons representing the agent's decisions and actions. And if it sees itself at all, it sees through its interface. But no conscious agent can explain itself incompletely, no matter how extensive its repertoire of experience is. As I mentioned earlier, Hoffman's general argument has been introduced previously by philosophers such as Kant. And the key ideas of conscious realism are seeded in the philosophy of Parmenides, Pythagoras, Plato, Leibniz, Berkeley, and Hegel. It is also represented in eastern philosophies and religions such as Buddhism and the mystical traditions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. But Hoffman's contribution is assembling the old ideas in a theory of consciousness; Hoffman insists on being scientific and argues that opposing physicalism does not mean contradicting science. I do not need to agree with Hoffman on every idea, but what he proposes is worth considering. And since no theory gives a precise answer to the question of consciousness, Hoffman and others have the right to assume, philosophize, and inquire since philosophy, for the most part, is provoking questions.
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