Summary of seed ideas for my developing TOE - 'The Sentient Centered Theory Of Metaphysics' (SCTOM)

From: Marc Geddes <>
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 19:41:32 +1200

* *

All comments welcome


*Over-view of 'The Sentient Centered Theory of Metaphysics' (SCTOM)* By Marc
Geddes This version: 13th September, 2005

*Metaphysics: Mathematico-Cognition*

SCTOM is a rational framework which attempts to provide a truly integrated
conception of reality. By 'integrated' it is meant a conception of reality
that explains how the most fundamental properties of existence facts fit
together into a unified metaphysical framework. SCTOM is not reductionistic.
A true explanatory framework must explain how high level properties of
reality such as values fit into the picture. SCTOM is intended to provide a
logical scaffolding upon which all future scientific and philosophical
theories can be developed and integrated.

The proposed noumena ('raw stuff', foundation) of reality is called
Mathematico-Cognition. The metaphysical position proposed is a hybrid of two
known positions - Mathematical Platonism - the idea that mathematics is the
objectively real fabric of reality, and Objective Idealism - the idea that
cognition is the objectively real fabric of reality.

The core assumption is that existence without perception is meaningless.
Reality requires not only raw data but something to *interpret* that data,
to supply meaning to it. This can only be done by consciousness of *some*
kind. If something was hypothesized to exist that could in no way directly
or indirectly affect the conscious perceptions of *any* possible observer,
then in what sense could it be said to exist at all? Even if it could be
successfully argued that it did have some kind of abstract philosophical
existence, it could never have any possible value to sentient minds. For the
purposes of understanding general intelligence, it suffices to define that
which exists as that which could directly or indirectly ( i.e. in principle)
affect the perceptions of *some* possible conscious observer.

We propose that *cognition* (in the very general sense defined above) should
be taken as the bedrock or fundamental building-blocks of reality. The heart
of SCTOM is the assumption that a truly integrated understanding of reality
requires that *all* aspects of reality be defined in terms of cognition of
some kind. We assume panpsychism, the view that there is some degree of
conscious awareness in everything.

The approach adopted however, is not mysticism or one of the subjectivist
views of reality that propose that aspects of reality are mind created.
Instead, a very robust realism is assumed. Properties of reality exist
largely independently of what any particular observer thinks about them and
are not mind created. Properties of reality are not defined by the mind of
any one particular observer. That idea quickly leads to solipsism, the idea
that reality can only be ascribed to one's own conscious perception. What is
being suggested here is that reality be defined by the minds of *all
logically possible* observers. Nor does this mean that reality is somehow
'socially constructed' - or created by some sort of consensus view emerging
from the beliefs of every one in a society. Objective Idealism proposes that
properties of reality are *correlated with* or *emergent from* from general
properties of conscious perception, not that they are *created* by specific
beliefs. Reality is not mind created. But it is not greater than mind

*Metaphysics - The 'Complexity' of reality is finite*

In order for SCTOM to be a truly general theory, it has to be all
encompassing. It must be universal in scope. And it must be comprehensible
to sentient minds. But this assumes that some unitary finite logical
framework is capable of being applied everywhere that a sentient mind could
logically exist. This in turn requires the curious idea that the complexity
of reality be finite in *some* sense (perhaps in a sense which has not yet
been defined).

*Metaphysics: Core SCTOM assumptions*

The two initial working assumptions of SCTOM then are:

   - Mathematico-Cognition - The essence of reality is a hybrid of
   mathematics and cognition
   - The complexity of reality is in some sense finite

The evidence for these assumptions will come in part from the internal
consistency of SCTOM itself. If SCTOM seems to be providing an elegant
explanatory framework for many different areas of knowledge, this is some
evidence that its correct ideas are correct.

*Metaphysics : Quantum Computation and Classical Computation*

The most general form of computation is not the classical conception of
universal computation as developed by Turing, but the quantum conception.
Physicist David Deutsch was the first to begin exploring quantum computation
in depth. Since reality is at root quantum mechanical and SCTOM is supposed
to be a truly general metaphysical framework, SCTOM must produce an
integrated explanation of quantum phenomena.

*Metaphysics: The Multiverse*

SCTOM should provide an explanatory framework for the space of all possible
worlds in which sentient minds could exist, if it is to be successful in
abstracting out the most general features of mind.

A natural framework for thinking these issues is the Multiverse Theory, the
idea that everything that can logically exist, does exist somewhere. The
most modern incarnation of the idea has been developed by physicist Max
Tegmark. SCTOM assumes that there are no supernatural forces at work in
reality - that all finite parts of reality are in principle comprehensible
to *some* mind. This follows from the objective idealism postulate - reality
and cognition are equivalent. Combined with the postulate of objectivity,
this means that ultimate reality is completely rational in nature.

*Metaphysics - Mathematico-Cognition as binary and coding*

The language of science is mathematics. SCTOM assumes that both the
*language* (means of describing objective reality) and an aspect of the
*fabric of reality itself* (objects being described) are mathematical in
nature. The metaphysical position taken is thus a form of mathematical
Platonism - mathematics is an aspect of the fabric of reality. Specifically,
mathematics is proposed as the *structure* of reality.

It is assumed that all of reality ultimately boils down to a
proto-mathematics: binary. Binary is composed two discrete states, 0 and 1.
This could be the fundamental unit of Mathematico-Cognition. A bit of
information is both mathematical and cognitive. But 0's and 1's are not
enough. It is the *coding system* (or cognitive interpretation) that is
assigned to the 0's and 1's that gives 'form' to reality.

*Metaphysics - Mathematics and the 7 Universal Knowledge Domains*

The old idea of mathematical Platonism will here be given a radical new
twist which is the key to SCTOM. The idea is that reality is *almost* fully
consistent, but not quite. It is conjectured that there are minuscule
contradictions, which allow the possibility of more than one fully precise
mathematical description of reality. A 'fully precise' description of
reality is one which must be (a) Universal in scope and (b) Completely
accurate. It is conjectured that there are in fact 7 different valid
mathematical formulations of reality.

Each of these 7 different view-points are universal and complete. Further
all of them are nearly (but not quite) logically equivalent. The body of
mathematical knowledge pertinent to each view-point shall be called a
'Universal Knowledge Domain' (UKD). The idea is that there are at root 7
different valid ways of understanding reality, each of which is none the
less 'universal' in scope. This idea takes some getting used to. It is
important to understand that it is *not* being suggested that there are 7
different realities. There is only one reality and the 7 universal knowledge
domains should be thought of as different manifestations of it. Mathematics
is the real fabric reality and the 7 universal knowledge domains represent 7
different view-points - or cognitive 'interpretations' of this reality.

Recall that the ultimate nature of reality was postulated to be
Mathematico-Cognition, which consisted of two components - raw data - binary
- and an *interpretation* of that data. So the 7 different knowledge domains
arise from the fact that there are 7 different complete ' coding systems'
for assigning meaning to the strings of 0's and 1's. The observed reality
will be a two-way interaction between raw binary and the coding system

If there are 7 domains of mathematical knowledge which universal in scope,
then these 7 domains will form a core of cognition which will be common to
all sentients. The idea of mathematical Platonism implies that Mathematics
is both the fabric of reality (objects being reasoned about) and the means
through reality is apprehended. Here are the proposed 7 UKD's, each labeled
with a letter beginning with 'M' so that they will be easily remembered.

   - Mentality - Concerned with qualia (raw experiences) and situations
   (relations between self and world)

   - Meaning - Concerned with interactions and roles

   - Morality - Concerned with agency, choice and memes.

   - Mind - Concerned with the projection and actualization of

   - Models - Concerned with processes and systems.

   - Motion - Concerned with movement through space

   - Measure - Concerned with physical objects and geometrical relations

Each universal knowledge domain will use a different kind of mathematics.
The theory thus also suggests a natural way to classify the branches of
mathematics. The table below lists the type of math best suited for use with
each universal knowledge domain. The supposition is that each branch of
mathematics named is truly universal in scope i.e. capable of fully
describing any finite part of reality.

   *Mathematics* *Mind* Foundations *Morality* Decision Theory
*Models* Analysis,
Calculus *Meaning* Game theory *Mentality* Propositional *Motion* Operator
Theory *Measure* Geometry, Topology

*Epistemology - The mapping between the 7 UKD's*

What is the precise nature of the relationship between the 7 different
UKD's? Since reality is a unified whole, the 7 modes of perception must be
(almost) consistent, so they must in some sense be different representations
of the same reality. So the question is how the different representations
map to each other.

Note that 3 of the domains (Measure,Motion, Models) are concerned with
logical/physical concepts. And 3 of the domains (Mentality, Meaning,
Morality) are concerned with experiential concepts. The 'Mind' domain is the
odd one out. The proposal here is that Mind is the bridge between
logical/physical concepts and experiential concepts.

The proposal for the mapping between the 7 domains is that a representation
of something in a higher level domain is composed of a mapping between
representations in 2 related lower level domains. The proposed mappings are:

Model = Mapping (Measure> Motion)

This says that to describe something as a *Model* (a 'computational system')
one needs to map geometrical relations to spatial operators

Morality = Mapping (Mentality > Meaning)

This says that to give a description of something in terms of *Morality* one
needs to map descriptions in terms of 'Mentality' with the description in
terms of 'Meaning' (handled by game theory ).

Note that after these mappings, the results are two higher level modes of
description (Model, Morality) which in some sense bring the experiential and
the external closer together. The third and final proposed mapping will
fully reconcile the experiential and the objective.

Mind = Mapping (Model > Morality)

This says that the 'Mind' level of description is obtained by mapping a
description of something as a computational system (handled by the math of
analysis and calculus) with a description of something in terms of
'Morality' or memes. (handled by the math of decision theory).

*Epistemology - Cognition equals reality*

SCTOM assumes that reality itself cannot be separated from the process of
perceiving and understanding it. What observations imply about reality
depends on a procedural context - the nature of the methods, rules and
procedures used by a sentient observer to obtain the information. This is a
philosophical position known as proceduralism. Sometimes the very means
through which a given sentient observes the world (or even the mere fact
that the sentient exists!) will bias or constrain what the sentient will
observe. This is known as the observer-selection effect.

Since SCTOM assumes *cognition* as a fundmental aspect of reality, we need
to try to identify the most general properties associated with cognition in
order to be able to develop a general epistemology. We propose a dual-aspect
nature to cognition: Recognition and Classification. Recognition is
awareness of a relationship between several pieces of information (a
pattern) that enables a sentient to simplify or *compress* how the
information is represented. Classification is a unique ordering between
patterns (formation and manipulation of concepts).

*Epistemology - The 4 core mental operations*

It is proposed that general intelligence requires 4 core kinds of
operations. Thus 4 more universal categories of cognition are being
proposed. 2 are concerned with the 'Recognition' aspect of cognition , the
other 2 are concerned with the 'Classification' aspect.

Representation - A modality. A form of perception. The raw 'stuff' of
consciousness. We propose that consciousness cannot exist apart from
perception and all consciousness must be consciousness about something
(perception). Perceptions do not have to be perceptions about physical
objects. They can be highly abstract in nature.

Induction - Pattern recognition and data compression in some knowledge
domain. Generalization and associative classification from some data set.
Includes fuzzy logic.

   - Passive Cognition : These 2 general operations taken together can be
   classified as 'Passive Cognition' for a given knowledge domain. The
   probabilistic framework could be handled by Bayesian probability theory and
   fuzzy set theory.

Deduction - Formation and combination of concepts. For the purposes of true
deduction, a 'concept' is a pattern that can be *uniquely* classified in
some particular sense. Patterns which cannot be uniquely classified are
pseudo-concepts handled by Induction and fuzzy logic.

Action plans - Linear ordering of actions for manipulating the world, either
physical or abstract.

   - Active Cognition : These 2 operations taken together can be
   classified as active cognition for some knowledge domain. The framework
   could be handled by formal logic and classical set theory.

 *Epistemology - The 56 universal categories of cognition*

The 7 universal knowledge domains form one axis of cognition. The proposed
noumena of reality was Mathematico-Cognition, which the 7 domains represent
different manifestations of. Each of these 7 domains can be sub-divided into
two - one the mathematical aspect , the other the cognitive aspect. The 4
universal mental operations form another axis. Combining the two axes one
obtains a model of general intelligence composed of 7*2*4 = 56 categories of
universal cognition. The result is a 'Periodic Table Of Cognition'.

*Ethics and Esthetics*

It is proposed that there is a universal value system - a set of general
values that is objectivity 'good' for all sentient minds that can logically
exist. In keeping with the spirit of the dual-aspect theory of perception
and the theory of universal knowledge domains, it is proposed that there are
two core universal values associated with each knowledge domain - one
'passive' (loosely concerned with 'harmonization') , the other 'active'
(loosely concerned with 'expansion'). The interaction of the two
complementary sets of values manifests itself as a third general (combined)
value. The table below lists the 4 UKD's associated with mental aspects and
the proposed positive utilities (values) for each.

  *Active Utility* *Passive Utility* *Combined Utility* *Mind*
Creation Discovery
Actualization *Morality* Growth Altruism Liberty *Meaning*
Productivity Harmony
Purpose *Mentality* Happiness Health Eudaimonia

*Ethics and Esthetics: The ultimate purpose of Mind*

Reading off the top level set of values (the 'Mind' domain) suggests
'Actualization' as the ultimate meaning of existence. Actualization is
composed of the values 'Creation' and 'Discovery', the process of a mind
seeking to better understand itself and express its nature in the world.

'Mind' was defined as that which projects and actualizes possibility. And
the UKD 'Mind' is supposed to be universal in scope. An intriguing
supposition is that 'Mind' and the flow of time itself should be equated. If
time is the structure of the universe, then so is mind. It can be
conjectured that mind is the 'glue' holding the universe together - the
thing ensuring it's continued existence. An equivalent metaphor is that mind
'knits moments of time' together. Perhaps without mind causes would not be
associated with effects enough for the concept of 'Time' to be meaningful?
If these ideas are along the right lines, the ultimate purpose of mind might
be to enable the universe to last forever.

This idea could be tied into the idea of the 7 UKD's as arising from tiny
inconsistencies in the warp and weave of reality. The mappings between the 7
UKD's have 'Mind' as the end result. If Mind should be equated with the flow
of time then the arrow of time could be a manifestation of a gradual
reduction in the residual inconsistencies within reality. Speaking
metaphorically, the cosmos could be said to be 'trying to eliminate the
contradictions' and the flow of time would then arise from an ever better
integration of the 7 UKD's.

 The following schematic proposes 56 universal data types for sentient
minds. It is proposed that 7 universal knowledge domains (Measure, Motion,
Mentality, Meaning, Models, Morality and Mind) and 4 universal mental
operations (Action plans, Deductions, Inductions and Representations) are
sufficient for a true general intelligence (one capable of universal
reasoning, or reasoning in all domains in which a sentient mind could
logically exist). Each of the 7 domains can be further sub-devided into
mathematical knowledge and cognitive knowledge. Only the cognitive kinds of
knowledge are given here. Brief definitions of these cognitive terms are
given below.

To see the metaphysical theory of which this is based read:

The core idea is that the raw noumena of reality is something called *
Mathematico-Cognition* The 7 knowledge domains should be thought of as the
different fundamental manifestations of this Mathematico-Cognition.

   *Action plan* *Deduction* *Induction* *Representation* *Mind* Goal Utility
Projection Episode *Morality* Plan Meme Lifestyle Agency *Models* Procedure
System Process Computation *Meaning* Strategy Role Relationship Interaction
 *Mentality* Script Situation Activity Happening *Motion* Schemata Translation
Force Movement *Measure* Schema Object Pattern Gestalt

---Marc Geddes


*Definitions: Proposed Universal Mental Operations*

The x-axis (horizontal axis) lists the proposed 4 universal mental
operations. The first two (Action plans, Deductions) loosely equate to
active consciousness (which in humans mostly refers to operations in the
frontal lobes). The last two (Inductions, Representations) loosely equate to
passive consciousness (which in humans often refers to operations in the
posterior parts of the brain). Bear in though, that the proposal here is for
an ideal architecture, not the architecture of the human brain.

*Action plans*: Linearly ordered concepts combined according to accepted
rules providing plans of action for the sentient to manipulate the world in
some knowledge domains. In humans often carried by out the ACTION networks
in the frontal lobes.

*Deductions*: Formation and combination of concepts in some knowledge
domain. Here a 'concept' is defined to be a chucked mental unit that can be
*uniquely* classified in some knowledge domain (so by this definition a
'fish' is not a concept because it's a folk term which can't be uniquely
classified under a scientific Taxonomy of evolutiuonary biology).

*Inductions*: Pattern recognition. Data compression arising from chunking.
Here 'Induction' is being used in the most general sense to simply mean
probabilistic generalizations from data in some domain.

*Representations*: Data structures for various modalities. Perceptions.


*Definitions: Proposed Universal Knowledge domains*

The y-axis (vertical axis) lists the proposed 7 universal knowledge domains.
It is proposed that there are 7 knowledge domains which are 'Universal'
(applicable everywhere in reality where sentient minds can exist). These 7
knowledge domains are supposed to 'over-lap' or supervene on each other. It
is suggested that all other knowledge domains are sub-domains which could be
classified under one of the 7 core domains. The suggestion is that the 7
proposed universal knowledge domains are exhaustive. i.e sufficient to fully
encompass all parts of reality in which sentient minds could exist.

*Mind* Involving the projection and actualization of possibility

*Morality* Involving agency and choice

*Models* Involving Systems and Computation

*Meaning* Involving interactions and roles that agents play

*Mentality* Involving qualia and situations - representations of the
relation between self and world

*Motion* Involving movements through space

*Measure* Involving spatial relationships

Remember the 7 M's - Mind, Morality, Models, Meaning, Mentality, Motion and


*Definitions: Proposed Universal data types*


*Gestalt* Modal representation of a geometrical property

*Movement* Modal representation of a movement through space

*Happening* Modal representation of a raw happening in the world

*Interaction* Modal representation of the effect of an action taken by an
agent on the world (espeically other agents)

*Computation* Modal representaton of the functional properties of a system

*Agent* Modal representation of an agency

*Episode* Modal representation of a generic event


*Pattern* Recognition of a pattern in a physical modality

*Force* Recognition of a general form of motion

*Activity* Recognition of a coherent short-term action task

*Relationship* Recognition of a coherent interaction between a sentient and
something in the world (espeically another sentient)

*Process* Recognition of a goal-oriented change in state of a system

*Lifestyle* Recognition of a way of life for a sentient in moral terms

*Projection* Recognition of a possible 'outcome' in terms of it's utility (
i.e predicted outcome)


*Object* Concept formation and combination of physical units

*Translation* Concept formation and combination of translations (spatial

*Situation* Concept formation and combination of 'activity units' as regards
effect of the world on a sentient (a 'situation')

*Role* Concept formation and combination of 'social units' as regards the
effect of the sentient on the world (a 'role')

*System* Concept formation and combination of computational units as regards
function (a 'system')

*Meme* Concept formation and combination of 'cultural units'. Being used
here in a more specific sense than the common definition of the term. Here
it means a unit referring to the coherent lifestyle preference of a sentient
as regards the sentients effects on others.

*Utility* Concept formation and combination of 'event units'. Again, is here
being defined in a more specific sense than it's general usage. Here it
means projected outcomes of generic events classified according to their
general value to sentients).

Action plans:

*Schema* A series of classification heuristics to help recognize objects

*Schemata* A series of short-term physical actions to manipulate physical

*Script *A series of general physical/logical actions taken by a sentient in
a general situation

*Strategy* A series of social strategy used in a situation to help a
sentient carry out its chosen role

*Procedure* A series of functional steps used to manipulate a system

*Plan* A series of social steps used by a sentient to carry out memes

*Goals* A series of of abstract plans by a sentient to achieve projected


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Science, Sci-Fi and Philosophy
THE BRAIN is wider than the sky, 
For, put them side by side, 
The one the other will include 
With ease, and you beside. 
-Emily Dickinson
'The brain is wider than the sky'
Received on Mon Sep 19 2005 - 04:02:12 PDT

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