Proto-phenomenality, conscious representation and smearing

Assuming proto-phenomenality is biology’s proxy for neurally unresolvable spatiotemporally fine representations, it falls out that proto-phenomenal expression per-se (referents? phenomenality’s simples?) should be uncommunicable and immune to modification by brain’s computational functionality.

If one accepts the rationale that favours information conserving iconic representation in brains then it becomes apparent (as well as consistent with philosophical analyses) that the minimal manifestation of proto-phenomenality may coincide with the proto-phenomenal relata that are associated by computationally process-able spatiotemporal patterning relations. Analytically, using any spatiotemporal mapping of the represented pattern, a minimal proto-phenomenal manifestation may be assigned spatiotemporal coordinate values (relative to other proto-phenomenal relata expressed in the represented pattern).

While the computational machinery may control the activation of some proto-phenomenal end-points, and the patterned dynamics binding them, the proto-phenomenal manifest-quality potential of these “end points” in-and-of-itself would be immutable, indivisible – opaque and impenetrable, beyond the computational capacity of the relating brain. Therefore – untextured. If some combination of these surrogates were to form the essence of qualitative experience, then what can be said here is that each and every minimal manifestation of phenomenality should be just that – a glimmer of some qualitative awareness; without experience of patterning, and devoid of intrinsic awareness of bounds (perhaps akin to Strawson’s notion of SESMETs, or Chalmer’s ontological simples; Apologies for the superfluous rephrasing, the point is central to the theory).

Consider next an iconic representation of some pattern: It implies the existence of some invariant, featureless, compressed form that owes it’s characterising features to the enactment of relations associating the proto-phenomenal relata alluded to above. Yet the representation’s handle may be not just the entry point to the pattern, a trigger for playing out the pattern; the compressed form should stably, invariantly, exist “alongside” the qualitative features of it’s represented content, as if it were a spatiotemporal virtual focal point.

Thus if we look at such representation as a dynamical system, we may expect to find that manifestation of proto-phenomenal “end-points” conforms to the represented pattern:
Given expression of proto-phenomenality at some “end-point”, one may assume expression of proto-phenomenality in related end-points within the represented pattern, separated by appropriate spatiotemporal intervals. Metaphorically – A spatiotemporal “scaffold” populated by proto-phenomenal “loci”. Furthermore the conscious perception of any relation is in itself an effectively-continuous expression of protophenomenality permeating some spatiotemporal trajectory segment (as it is or would be projected upon the subject’s sensory interface).

It may be that a closed kernel of awareness arises whenever wherever a pattern is traced across proto-phenomenal expression points, yet such manifestations might be self-contained and passing in real time. For composite awareness involving a differentiated subject to arise, activity through a set of relations between patterned sensory end points is required, that also traverses through a tonically active, qualitatively feature poor invariant core, that is correlated through (and/)or generated by the computational facet of the aware system.

Crucially, a trivial coherent or stochastically expressive “blob” will not conform as it discards the patterning – conserving the relata but not the relations. What could be a solution to this conundrum?

Through phenomenal introspection we can infer the following: For proto-phenomenality to manifest as awareness – as an experiential episode – a degree of reverberation that brings about an overlay of recent upon further past sensation seems to be required, a phenomenal “melding” combination likely involving computational cross modulation. In every sensory experience the most intense component of the blurred overlay of protension, immediate-past and the further past (the over-time tail of experience, an ebbing-away “echo”) seems to be the just-recent interval – the most immediate yet already perceived past, cast into mostly unconsciously computed patterns (seemingly in agreement with predictive, generative cognition ideas). Yet when we imagine or conceive of some object or concept, or scene, a multitude of paler large scale fragments of unabstracted experience seem to form awareness, both concurrently and serially. These seem to be independent, spatiotemporally segregated and non-overlaid parts of the overarching target of conjured experience charted over the experiential episode’s duration. Alongside these there is a sense of directed attention and a faint, yet definite, experience of conjuring up the object, concept or scene – of the promoting bias, or “handle” to the structured content.
An episode of experience concludes when no awareness of the episode remains. A shift of attention can lead to abrupt termination of awareness of some content. Conversely for awareness of some content to manifest, interplay between the various phases of that content and the feature poor invariant handle to the content, mediated by directed attention, must be maintained.

What can we make of these different perspectival accounts? Iconic representation necessitates smearing as well as coarser grained arbitrarily frequent concurrence (replay) of multiple sub-patterns. In the 1st person perspective experience appears to be an affair involving fine grained interplay between spatiotemporally extended and overlaid qualia and the sensations accompanying directed attention.  Imagined experience presents in segregated relation-preserving sub-patterns of it’s content.

Alternative ways of describing the necessity of a form of spatiotemporal smearing in the production of consciousness may appeal to the need to maintain a tending to isotropic virtual focal point in relation to patterned sensory stimuli – The virtual focal point is generated by an active population of units over time.

There may be various ways to realize composite models of awareness that would be consistent with the above. Here are some ideas regarding plausible design and implementation principles:

  • Paths of connectivity and pace of conduction define patterned relations.
  • Proto-phenomenality may arise anywhere in activity trajectories (i.e. metaphorically: It does not matter where “directly, in and along the line”, or even “indirectly, off the line” proto-phenomenality arises, so long as the appropriate relational constraints that are mandated among phenomenal binding effectors of the awareness manifesting process are maintained).
  • Relations define spatiotemporal patterns of phenomenality.
  • System mapped phenomenal sensory end points are set, but dynamical patterned structures involving such end points may be cast computationally.
  • Proto-phenomenal sources of awareness carry the potential to manifest “singular and unitary” phenomenal qualities, upon activation (or instantiation).
  • The “coalescence” of subjective awareness from proto-phenomenal activity is dependent on iconic representation involving a feature poor handle
  • The “coalescence” of subjective awareness from proto-phenomenal activity involves spatiotemporal smearing.
  • Spatiotemporal smearing implies induction of an effectively continuous function.
  • Assuming an “Atomism” orientated perspective with regards to the effector(s) of proto-phenomenality (just for the following postulated argument, with no commitment), then at the finest grain level an effectively continuous function may be instantiated by some sufficiently dense population activity spanning discrete loci, given the (natural) physics of transients (i.e. atomism cannot be binary absolute).
  • Sensations of attentional/intentional activity are feature poor.
  • Sensations of attentional/intentional activity may consist of diffuse (relatively – wide ranging in the population, slow, unpatterned) sensory contributions.
  • Sensations of attentional/intentional activity make up a raw self (the experiencing subject)
  • Conservation of pattern relations with smearing, through oscillation across phase transitions (and in particular across absolute phase inversions), occurring across a spatiotemporal spectrum (e.g. cross “stitching” of center/surround, off/on units).
  • Combination (interplay) of
    • isotropic population activity – serving attentional bias and maintaining the representational handle (correlated with active relations or relation constraining activity), and sensed as an invariant feature-poor phenomenal intention, with
    • patterned phenomenality (sensory relata).
  • Scale free power law spectral distribution; Stochastic (information poor) activity in a network of embedded relations (conserved information).
  • A relatively constraining prediction based cast contains a relatively constrained actual sensation related activation that drives it.

Correlation of phenomenal manifestation with “density” of activity in the appropriate effector medium (applying relevant measures).

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