Consciousness In Unity, Irreducibility, Indivisibility, And In Being
To begin, the following is an excerpt out of David Bentley Hart’s “The Experience of God”.
In the mechanical view of nature, the physical realm is devoid of simple unities, at least at the level of continuously subsistent things; nature consists in composites, with extension in space and time. Nonetheless — and despite the claims of many materialist philosophers to the contrary — consciousness is, in its subjectivity, one and indivisible. This is not to say that brain states cannot be altered, or that the mind cannot be confused, or that either the operations of the brain or the actions of the mind cannot be multiple. But in order for there to be such a thing as representation, or reason, or conceptual connections, or coherent experience, or subjectivity, or even the experience of confusion, there must be a single unified presence of consciousness to itself, a single point of perspective that is, so to speak, a vanishing point, without extension or parts, subsisting in its own simplicity….
….It is unimportant here, however, whether one wants to speak of this unity as the *nous that abides within and beyond our ordinary psychic operations, or as the *atman within and beyond the finite mind wandering in *maya, or as the transcendental apperception that is distinct from the ego’s empirical apperception, or in altogether different terms. However one describes it, it is that luminous continuity and singleness of consciousness that underlies all the variety of perception, knowledge, memory, or even personal identity. It is in and by this unity that the incalculable diversity of the brain’s processes, as well as the plurality and complexity of the world perceived, are converted into the fused awareness of a single subject; but this unity cannot have arisen from that diversity….
….I am talking here only about the transcendental condition of consciousness, a simple and perhaps anonymous singularity of vantage, which makes subjective awareness and mental activity possible. It is present even when the ego’s psychological or cognitive operations have been disoriented, clouded, or shattered. It is the failure to make this distinction — between, on the one hand the unity of this transcendental perspective within the mind and, on the other, the integrity of personal mental states — that occasionally leads to assertions of the divisibility and hence materiality of consciousness….
….Only the “vanishing point” of a subjective perspective allows the diversity of reality to appear to the mind as a unified phenomenon, to which consciousness can attend. This, and not just the psychological integrity of the “empirical ego,” is the unity of consciousness — the “I think” that underlies any mental representation of reality as a coherent phenomenon — that seems irreconcilable with a purely mechanical picture of the mind, even one that allows for a physiological convergence of the disparate faculties of the brain in some privileged panopticon located at some executive hub of the brain’s neurology. However modular the structure of the brain may or may not be, the attempt to discover the unity of consciousness in a final supervisory cerebral module suffers from a number of simple logical difficulties. For one thing, as a physical reality that organizing module would itself be a composite thing whose power to unify experience could not arise from its various parts and functions, but would have to precede them and organize them into a single point of view also. Even if every part of that faculty were in some sense partially aware, there would still have to be a simple awareness of the whole ensemble of impressions organizing them, a prior intention and capacity to view that whole as one. Neuroscientists tend not to believe in a central locus of thought within the brain in any event; but even if there were such a thing it could unify the disparate forms of knowledge drawn from the various parts of the brain and nervous system only by synthesizing them through its own faculties; and these too would have to be unified by some other central faculty, which itself would have to be unified, and so on without end.
Any physical thing that might be able to integrate experience into a conscious unity would somehow already have to possess a unified “knowledge” of the diverse realities that it is supposed to gather into a totality, a transcendental grasp of the empirical data as a consonant totality, toward which it would be intentionally inclined; and so it would already have to be informed by a unity of perspective logically prior to its own physiological complexity. It would have to be dependent upon, and hence could not be the source of, the principle of unity; and, apart from that principle and its perfect simplicity, all the diverse faculties of perception, in all their splendid richness and variety, would never be combined in a coherent act of knowledge. Any attempt to arrive at the unity of thought from the complexity of material structures leads to an infinite regress, an infinite multiplication of pleonastic insufficiencies.
End Excerpt ((…from David Bentley Hart’s “The Experience of God”, bold added…))
Notice the observation of the extension in space and time. In his book “Something Deeply Hidden” S. Carroll asks,
“In the present context, how is an immaterial mind, lacking extent in space and time, supposed to cause wave functions to collapse?….”
The topic here is not the veracity of that model per se ((…regarding whether or not wave functions actually do collapse and if so what that is mapping…)) but rather the unavoidable intersection we find with Space-Time vis-à-vis Material/Immaterial. Carroll observes that extension into time and space may be ((or not)) merely a useful description of one particular slice of “the” much larger terminus/ultimate that is [The Quantum Wave Function] and/or of [Many Worlds]. Second, regarding extension into Space (Space-Time) as it relates to Mind, all of that converges with the following four comments. They are taken from near the end of a discussion in which that very question presents a problem for this or that attempt at [QM-Full-Stop] by any Non-Theism/Non-Theistic map of Consciousness. The four comments are copy/pasted in full below but for reference they are as follows:
Here’s excerpt 1 of 4:
You are absolutely right. This is about a perception, not a mere representation (which here we call an “image”). The problem is that as long as what is experiencing the whole is claimed to be purely physical, the logic of the problem remains — for the same reason even you said that interacting physical parts cannot “perceive anything.” Making the perceiver do what no physical thing can do is the problem. Of course, there is a perceiver — but it cannot be physical, for the same reasoning I have given multiple times.
Physical things are extended in space and thus must “assign” different functions to different parts. But to perceive a whole all at once is precisely what a material entity cannot do, since the different functions, exactly as different and separate, defy unification by purely physical means. Think of the water example above.
But perception does occur. Therefore it is not just a matter that we cannot conceive how it does it. We can conceive precisely how a physical thing works — with different parts doing different things. But the logic I gave above shows that the one thing a physical thing cannot do is to unify the whole.
There is no “reasoning of the gaps here.” Physical things simply cannot do what is entailed in sense experience, namely the unifying of the whole.
You are finally grasping that perception is not an image, but what you understandably are resisting is the realization that perceiving is radically different than a physical image, since in its immateriality it can do what no physical thing extended in space can do, namely, embrace its wholeness at the same moment it is merely a bunch of distinct and separate parts in space. This is the same reason that materialists cannot see that some immaterial principle of unity must make them one being, when a total purely physical analysis of our being would indicate that all we are is a bunch of discrete atomic parts.
Although materialists resist it, the much more reasonable position is to accept that the macroscopic things of the world around us do exist as independent, whole beings, and that they are unified by some real, non-material, principle which is not explained by the atoms alone.
And, if that it true, it is far more reasonable to believe that some central principle of the same type, or some aspect of that central principle, enables us to perceive the world around us in an immaterial way — since it is evident that perception is radically difficult to understand if you insist it is merely some function of a bunch of material parts. In a word, materialism is not only metaphysically impossible, but it is also unlikely.
Here’s Excerpt 2 of 4:
I think we are hung up on the following point of yours where you say: “Again, I see that as a call to intuition. The perception is of a unified whole, that does not imply that the whole itself had to actually be unified in a singularity-type way for being perceived as such….”
It is not the whole itself is actually unified, since the whole — say, an image of a triangle or an actual triangle — is NOT unified, precisely because as an object under the conditions of matter, it is itself extended in space, and hence, has parts outside of parts. (The angles are exterior to each other.) What is unified is the act of perception itself, NOT what is perceived. That is the entire point of the insight. Were not the perception itself unified, we could never perceive the whole that is being perceived as a whole. Solely by apprehending all the parts of the whole at once can we know them both as distinct parts in themselves and as parts of a whole. Thus, the unification is in the act of perception, NOT in the whole which is being perceived. This is not an intuition in the sense of a guess about reality. It is rather a careful description of what we are experiencing, which is the proper role of epistemology.
Here’s Excerpt 3 of 4:
The problem is not avoided. A unified set of particles is still extended in space-time and either its parts do something toward “representing” the apprehended whole, or they do not. If they do, then you have the same problem I have described many times, with discrete parts representing discrete parts of the whole, but with nothing representing the whole in a single act — or else, you have a single part on which all the data converges altogether, producing unintelligibility. I think you are thinking that somehow material reality MUST be able to do precisely what a close analysis of the facts reveals it cannot do.
Here’s Excerpt 4 of 4:
You have to decide whether a perception, then, can be extended in space. If it is, then it falls victim to the same objection that a representation does. My whole point is that an act of perception does what it does precisely because it is NOT extended in space. Saying that an extended representation somehow produces a perception, and then, that the rules of extension do not apply to that perception is to grant that the perception is NOT extended in space, which is exactly my point.
As to whether an extended in space representation (or neural pattern) can generate a perception that is not extended in space is a distinct question. The answer to that is “no,” for the simple reason that the perception is doing something that no physical thing can do (as per the argument), and hence, does not have the quality of “existence without extension” needed to give it to the perception. This pertains to a secondary issue, known as emergent materialism. That is, can material bodies make things that do not have physical characteristics. But, by definition, things that lack physical characteristics do not belong in the space-time continuum, and hence, materialism is defeated again.
End 4/Four Excerpts.
Those four are all from Dennis Bonnette PhD and he has an essay which overlaps some of that (in part) at the following: How Metaphysical Certitudes Anchor Proofs for God at https://www.hprweb.com/2021/09/how-metaphysical-certitudes-anchor-proofs-for-god
There is also overlapping (in part) content in the following: Genesis, Quantum Worlds, Allegory, Metaphor, Divine Communique, Transposition, And The Heavy-Meta-Bible at https://metachristianity.com/genesis-quantum-worlds-allegory-metaphor-divine-communique-transposition/
Regarding the Simplicity/Indivisibility of Mind/Person/Consciousness:
Many ask HOW can there be such a Singularity as the Hard Stop regarding the I-AM||i-am and, so, here is the (somewhat) short version:
The Simplicity/Unity of the Contingent Mind vis-à-vis i-am ((…the Adamic…)) is fully funded in and by the Simplicity/Unity of Absolute Consciousness vis-à-vis I-AM through and by the Principle of Proportionate Causality which fully and seamlessly funds the convertibility of all Necessary Transcendentals as the Unity of Mind is the Unity of Being even as the Irreducibility of Mind is the Irreducibility of Being — https://metachristianity.com/the-unity-of-mind-is-the-unity-of-being-even-as-the-irreducibility-of-mind-is-the-irreducibility-of-being-by-david-bentley-hart/
The (somewhat) longer version: To begin with there is E. Feser’s description of the Principle of Proportionate Causality ((…and notice that there is a “causality” in play…not “no-thing”// “no-cause” and so on…)) which is from A First Without A Second at https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-without-second.html as per the following:
“Now that which creates out of nothing is not limited by any such external factors, precisely because it is not modifying anything that already exists outside of it. But neither can it be limited by any internal potentialities analogous to the limits on a sculptor’s skill. For it is not *merely causing *a being of this or that sort to exist (though it is doing that too) – modifying preexisting materials would suffice to cause that – but also making it the case that *any *being *at *all *exists. And only that which is not *a being among others but rather *unlimited being – that which is pure actuality – can do that. The idea is perhaps best stated in Platonic terms of the sort Aquinas uses (in an Aristotelianized form) in the Fourth Way. *To *be *a *tree or *to *be *a *stone is merely to participate in “treeness” or “stoneness.” But *to *be *at *all – which is the characteristic effect of an act of creation out of nothing – is to participate in Being Itself. Now the principle of proportionate causality tells us that whatever is in an effect must be in some way in its cause. And only that which just *is Being Itself can, in this case, be a cause proportionate to the effect, since the effect is not merely *to *be *a *tree or *to *be *a *stone, but *to *be *at *all. So only God – who just is pure actuality or Being Itself rather than a being among others – can cause a thing to exist *ex *nihilo”.
That holds firm even/especially within the semantic intent behind all First-Person Experience vis-à-vis “I-AM” || “i-am” and not only that but again the Christian is afforded the intellectual right to counter objections with the following: Mind Body Interaction Problem? What Interaction Problem? There cannot be any such “problem” given “Being’s Superseding Ontic Over Both Material and Non-Being”. Being’s Ontic Weight supersedes the Ontic Weight of both Material and Non-Being just as the Ontic Ordering of Being||Material||Non-Being finds Being necessarily Ordered Ahead-Of/Logically-Prior-To ((which is distinct from chronologically prior to)) both Material and Non-Being.
In a key sense we can say that ‘Dualism’ is ultimately ‘Monism’ ((…in a sense…)) because *Being*Itself* is the Root||Wellspring of the whole show — hence Seamlessness — hence “Seamless Singularity”. And, again, lest we forget our steps, how that unfolds is seen in key parts through the Principle of Proportionate Causality described earlier and, also, therein, it is worth pointing out that the relevant transcendentals retain lucidity as we move from Being/Creator to Contingent/Created and thereby amid any/all “interactions”. Another helpful approach is found when we recover the proper ‘Hierarchy of Being‘ which brings us to the following:
(A) Recovering The Hierarchy Of Being ~ by David Oderberg https://metachristianity.com/recovering-hierarchy-of-being-by-david-oderberg-transcript
(B) Creation Ex Nihilo, The Principle of Proportionate Causality, Seamelessness In Being From Pure Act To The Contingent And From I AM to Imago Dei https://metachristianity.com/creation-ex-nihilo-the-principle-of-proportionate-causality-seamelessness-in-being-from-pure-act-to-the-contingent-and-from-i-am-to-imago-dei/
(C) Being’s Superseding Ontic Over Both Material and Non-Being https://metachristianity.com/beings-superseding-ontic-over-both-material-and-non-being
For context the following are a few excerpts from the third in that list which is Being’s Superseding Ontic Over Both Material and Non-Being as follows:
We ask “What Interaction Problem?” but the Non-Theist never realizes that BOTH the landscape of Creation Ex Nihilo AND the landscape of the Mind-Body Interaction converge at [Being’s] superseding ontic over both [Material] and [Non-Being]. The SAME Superseding Ontic which forces BOTH the Finite Universe AND any Timed/Tensed Eternal Universe into the Ground of Being Itself and into the Unmoved Will is the SAME Ontic of God’s Relationship to the world AND our own relationship to it. Pure Act vis Being Itself and all of those SAME reasons why [Miracle] does not ((and in fact *cannot*)) “Violate-Physics” are the SAME reasons we find in the “Relationship-And-Interaction” of the “Divine-Mind-And-Contingent-Mind” with ALL ontological vectors of [Material-Full-Stop].
The exclusive ontic real estate of [A] proportionate causality ((…defined further down…)) and [B] concurrentism and [C] the aforementioned “Being’s Superseding Ontic over both Material and Non-Being” reveal the Map and Topography of the Ground of all Ontic-Possibility vis Pure-Act||Being-Itself as all such contours seamlessly converge within that which [Informs] and that which is [Informed].
Because of the unique ontological real estate in the aforementioned Collection ((…Proportionate Causality & Superseding Ontic & Concurrentism & Absolute Consciousness & so on..)) we find the SAME content in  WHY God’s [Miracle] does not ((…and in fact cannot…)) “Violate” Physics AND in the “Content” of [Relation] vis-a-vis [Interaction] vis-à-vis Causal-Closure. Another way of saying it is that because of the aforementioned Collection we find  The ((supposed)) “problem” of the Divine Mind moving into [B] Interaction with  The World and when we unpack THOSE three items we discover that there never was a “problem” at all —and — then — from there we find  the SAME misunderstandings leading into  the SAME ((supposed)) “problem” of ((in the contingent being/mind)) vis-à-vis  the ((supposed problem)) of Mind||Body Interaction. As before, when we unpack THOSE three items we discover that there never was a “problem” at all and for all of the SAME reasons.
The only question is this: Can *God* create in this or that created being the ontologically irreducible Will Itself just as He creates in that same sense and in that same created being that which is the ontologically irreducible “Existence Itself“? Given *God* Who is reality’s eternal wellspring with respect to the principle of proportionate causality, the answer is obvious: of course He can.
Causality, Pantheism, And Deism at https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/12/causality-pantheism-and-deism.html
The Metaphysical Middle Man at https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/01/metaphysical-middle-man.html
Consciousness? First Person Experience? I-AM//i-am? The Non-Theist must show how stacking up billions of layers of reality’s fundamental nature ((non-intentional/non-mind)) yields the fundamental nature of intentionality/mind and of course the key is that AT SOME POINT he faces a Death by 10K Equivocations as he moves FROM “[A]” over TO “[Non-A]” regarding ANY claim/s about “the fundamental nature of X” and so on, All the Non-Theist, Theist, Christian, you/we/anyone has/haves are “metaphysical equivalents” vis-à-vis the SAME “Principal of Proportionate Causality” as it were, and, so Non-Theism gets “Emergence” as he moves from [A] to [Non-A] and that is why, at some point, all brands of Emergence force the Eliminative Maps akin to Churchland, Rosenberg, Dennett, and so on. Nature can’t break free of Nature just as Nature cannot beget fundamentally different Natures other than Nature.
MAP 1 ~ Non-Theism: Four-Fundamental-Forces ((or whatever)) are on stage and give ((…beget/create/pour…)) their Four-Fundamental-Forces ((or whatever)) in/through the same concept of “the Principal of Proportionate Causality” and land within Emergence as we move from [A] to [Non-A] and that is why ((again)) at some point, all brands of Emergence force a Death by 10K Equivocations in and of the Eliminative Maps akin to Churchland, Rosenberg, Dennett, and so on. Nature can’t break free of Nature just as Nature cannot beget fundamentally different Natures other than Nature. The First-Person Experience of Self / Intentionality / “i-am” falls into Non-Theism’s illusory ends of — not Being — but of Non-Being ((See Churchland, Rosenberg, Carroll, Etc., Etc.)).
MAP 2 ~ Christianity: Being||Existence || I-AM begetting/creating/pouring Being||Existence || I-AM seamlessly traverses Non-Being vis-à-vis the Principal of Proportionate Causality and finds I-AM//i-am irreducibly and seamlessly intact. All logical//ontological possibility is found because it starts with Pure Act and proceeds in what is necessarily a Downhill Ontic in/by Creation Ex Nihilo. The result is immediately apparent: The First-Person Experience of Self / Intentionality / “i-am” / and all such semantic intent lands in Being Itself as Absolute Consciousness Itself as Irreducible Mind Itself as Reason Itself as The Great I-AM that I-AM. In short the Simplicity/Unity of the Contingent Mind ((…the Adamic in our case etc…)) is fully funded in and by the Simplicity/Unity of Absolute Consciousness || Necessary Being.
See the following: Consciousness, Emergence, Intentionality, Searle, Reason Atop The Irrational, And Naturalism’s Egregious Deficiency at https://metachristianity.com/consciousness-emergence-intentionality-searle-reason-atop-the-irrational