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Simultaneity of consciousness with physical reality: the key that unlocks the mind-matter problem

The problem of explaining the relationship between subjective experience and physical reality remains difficult and unresolved.

Simultaneity of consciousness with physical reality: the key that unlocks the mind-matter problem

In most explanations, consciousness is epiphenomenal, without causal power.

The most notable exception is Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which provides a causal explanation for consciousness. However, IIT relies on an identity between subjectivity and a particular type of physical structure, namely with an information structure that has intrinsic causal power greater than the sum of its parts. Any theory that relies on a psycho-phyiscal identity must eventually appeal to panpsychism, which undermines that theory’s claim to be fundamental. IIT has recently pivoted towards a strong version of causal emergence, but macroscopic structures cannot be stronger causally than their microphysical parts without some new physical law or governing principle.

The approach taken here is designed to uncover such a principle.

The decisive argument is entirely deductive from initial premises that are phenomenologically certain. If correct, the arguments prove that conscious experience is sufficient to create additional degrees of causal freedom independently of the content of experience, and in a manner that is unpredictable and unobservable by any temporally sequential means. This provides a fundamental principle about consciousness, and a conceptual bridge between it and the physics describing what is experienced.

The principle makes testable predictions about brain function, with notable differences from IIT, some of which are also empirically testable.

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