After accepting that awareness and objects are fundamental to existence how can there be differences and similarities between objects? Why is there a multiplicity of objects instead of a unity? How is one object differentiated from another object? What is the mechanism of differentiation?
As AW:object = object is factually true, then the mechanism of differentiation between two objects must be the same for the awareness of the object, and the object itself.
We know that objects are different, we also know that they differentiate through changes. Multiple objects and change are features of experience. Some changes appear to be external. How do external changes effect changes in awareness? What is the mechanism that causes a change in awareness when an object changes?
If I watch an egg hatch into a chick how do I explain this transformation of awareness? This change is something that happens both on the external or object side of the awareness function - there is a physical transformation, and on the awareness side of the function, is there some physical transformation too? Symbolically, egg -> chick and AW:egg -> chick
Most forms of idealism breakdown right here. There is one explanation, a physical one, for the transformation of an egg into a chick, or an alligator, or an omelet, and there is another different explanation for how the awareness changes from an egg into a chick, an alligator, or an omelet. And this is where we get the dualist distinction between a mental space or mind and physical space or external objects. Because the changes taking place in the external world are not the same as taking place in the mental space of awareness.
This is the basic flaw of idealism. It does not model change, differentiation, or similarity without resorting to dualism.
But if awareness and objects are fundamental to existence, then differentiation and similarity and change all have to be modeled the same way. There cannot be one kind of change for objects and a completely different kind of change for the awareness of objects. Otherwise the awareness of an object would not be identical to an object.
For the awareness of an object to be identical to an object, requires that any changes to an object be exactly the same changes to the awareness of the object. Otherwise objects and awareness of objects would only appear to be an identity, but not be one in fact. If an object changes, the changes must be seen concurrently in the awareness of the object. And the form of the change must be the same for the object itself, and for the awareness of the object.
The reverse is also true. If the awareness of an object changes, how does the object change? The change process must be the same in objects of awareness and for objects themselves. Otherwise AW:X = X is not an identity but only appears that way when things are "static".
This is the problem for materialism. Because it must show how changes in objects correlate to changes in awareness, and how changes in awareness correlate to changes in objects. For instance, how does the presence of a crowd evoke anxiety? Or how do we go from having fingers and toes to having five fingers and five toes, where is the materialist five? Or how is our mother the same person over time? This is one reason why materialism will always fail to account for features that are extent in awareness but not correlate to physical properties or substances in an external world.
So before addressing the deeper issue of change I want to address the simpler problem of differences and similarities. How are objects different and how are objects the same?
Note: From this point forward, I will be writing with symbols as a shorthand and for clarity. Where I write AW:X, that is to be read as "Awareness of X." AW:X = X is to be read as, "Awareness of X equals X." or "Awareness of X is X" or "Awareness of X is identical to X."
We live in a universe where there are varieties of objects. We are aware of a variety of objects.
But why is that? Why isn't our awareness of the universe uniform? What would a universe look like if it was uniform, if it was only one object (X = universe)? Or the corollary question is, why isn't awareness itself uniform? Why should there be awareness of variety? Why isn't awareness a singularity?
Would awareness exist in this scenario at all?
In a world with only one object, X, we still could have awareness if awareness of objects is a feature of existence. As was shown earlier that awareness is a precondition for the argument against it. Let's assume that in a singular universe, awareness is a feature of existence as well.
In this scenario, would a singular universe be static or would it naturally differentiate and show change and variety?
For instance, could a singular universe of X give rise to variety? If it would, how would it give rise to variety?
By considering the contents of awareness it seems that a singular universe would it naturally give rise to a meta-awareness. An awareness of the awareness of that one object X? Perhaps this could be described in this way: AW:[AW:X]
Or if AW:[AW:X] = [AW:X] does this mean that AW:[AW:X] = [AW:X] = AW:X = X ? Would a meta awareness be identical to the direct awareness which is identical to the singular object itself?
When we think of (which is to be aware of) our own awareness of an object, is that a direct awareness of the object, or is it something different?
Is the awareness of the the word "penguin" the same as the word "penguin"? In that case it must be; otherwise, where is the word "penguin"? At the direct level, the awareness of an object and the object are irreducibly identical. But is the awareness of the awareness of the word "penguin" the same as the word "penguin"? And in this case we naturally apprehend that it is not.
This distinction between the word and the awareness of the awareness of the word as a thing itself seems to be different. This distinction is where objections to an identity between objects and objects of awareness arises. It is from this distinction that we conceive of a mental world (objects of awareness) and an external world (things themselves). But this is a distinction between the awareness of the awareness of an object and the object itself. That is, AW:[AW:X] ≠ X
To clarify this distinction we would say AW:[AW:X = X] = [AW:X =X]
And [AW:X = X] is not X. The two objects X and [AW:X = X] exist at different levels. They have different associations to each other. The awareness of an awareness of an object is a meta-awareness, or a meta-object of awareness. And it is experientially distinguishable from the object to which it refers. It is an object itself, different than the object X itself.
Importantly though the awareness of "the awareness of things" immediately changes the number and variety of objects in a singular world.
Awareness introduces variety in the simplest of worlds. Because the AW:[AW:X = X] introduces variety, it also introduces associations between these "new" objects of awareness. For instance, we could say that an object X is [AW:X = X] (a paradox) or where X is not [AW:X = X]. Or if there are two objects X and [AW:X = X] they form relationships as parts of sets (X, [AW:X = X] ) or (X) or ( [AW:X = X] ). and AW: (X, [AW:X = X] ) would be an instantiation of a new object. And once we have sets of objects, we could see redundancy of the same object (X, X, X) These ideas all seem to arise in a singular universe, whether they are true or not. And because they may arise where there is awareness present, it produces differentiation and the loss of singularity in that universe. This suggest that a universe of a singular unity dissolves into multiple things because it has awareness as a feature.
But what about a world where EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT? A world of pure unity or a world of absolute uniqueness, is either one possible? In a universe where awareness is a fundamental feature, It is impossible to have awareness where everything is the same but what about one where everything is absolutely different?
In a world of object uniqueness, similarities would arise immediately where awareness is a feature of that universe as well. Awareness of object difference gives rise to an awareness of their similarity as being unique. And that starts a chain of association making.
This seems like metaphysical speculation. But this speculation is important; because, when we begin to think about an artificial mind or an artificial intelligence (AI) we run into these very same problems. How does an AI differentiate or make similarities from it's own sensory or mental data? At the beginning of awareness, everything is the same or conversely, everything is unique. The AI has to construct and encounter differences and similarities from a single totality of inputs. Or from a seeming pure differentiation of data - everything being a sort of noise.
When we think about the origins of awareness, what do the contents of that awareness look like? Why should there be differentiation, and what is the mechanism that gives rise to similarity?
If we begin with a binary computer, the computer only has 0 or 1 as it's inputs and outputs. How does it differentiate or make associations with the whole of it's input or output data or it's internal processes? At the beginning it has an apparent uniform mass of binary data that must be broken apart and associated together. How does an AI develop 0's and 1's into images, thoughts, ideas, actions, etc? It must create similarities and differentiations in it's experience. The stream of it's experience must give rise to differences and similarities just as the stream of human experience gives rise to differences and similarities.
Ordinary approaches to this problem are solved by programmers. But for an awareness, every creature that is aware, must resolve those problems for itself. And while we are far removed from our pre-cognitive fetal origins we can still encounter this same problem. As our experience in anything expands, the differences expand, and simultaneously we make associations between what we originally considered different objects. That is we simultaneously associate varieties of experience and reduce the unity of experience.
We see this happen when learning about color. I'll suggest that colors appear to be learned. Colors appear to be the same for children. And at some point children start to differentiate as they interact with colors. Adults go through this same process of differentiation with colors too. The first time you go to pick out a white paint, the world opens up with variations on white. And the more attention you pay to whites, the greater varieties of whites you start to see. Suddenly, the whites of the world are more colorful. And nobody can have lived long on this earth to realize this happens as profoundly in the realm of ideas as it does in the realm of perceptions.
For instance, as I type this, my "white" apple keyboard actually looks like a very pale yellow. If I were to paint it, I would probably use a Naples Yellow Light. And when a person refers to white, what exactly are they referring too? Here I refer to two different colors (white and yellow). This association and differentiation making is what gives rise to the variety of experiences. If I were a synesthete I might be making associations between colors and sounds at the same time. And this sort of association making needs to be accounted for in the same way, or by the same process in all creatures which demonstrate awareness.
For instance, there is no reason not to create artificial intelligences that are synesthetes and have a very different sort of experience than the ordinary person would have. Or if we encountered an alien species, that species may be making vastly different kinds of associations and distinctions of it's experience than we do. The kind of association among and between modes of awareness is secondary to the process of awareness and association making.
This process of similarity making and differentiation is constantly occurring in us, and it must occur in any sort of creature we think of as "being aware" or of "having intelligence" or "having a mind". So what is that process that is happening?
Associations and differentiations are constantly "being made". In the example of whites we see white, ivory white, bright white as "differencing" out from the initial concept/experience of white. We associate various colors to and from whites. for example, buff whites start to look like almond colors and new associations are made with browns. This process is not merely one of words or concepts, but is one of perceptions.
Which brings us to an important point about awareness. There are objects which we are directly aware of. And then there are objects that we are aware of via differences or associations. For instance, seeing various whites, the sensory experience is something that we are directly aware of. And it is straightforward to see how the awareness of an object and the object seen are identical. To be specific we might say white IS the sensation of white ( white = AW:white).
Categorizing various shades of white is not something that is directly experienced but occurs as an association between different direct experiences. There is a level of relationship between the ideas or categories of white and our visual experience. Two kinds of white sensory experience get associated to each other and to an idea about "shades of white". There is an association to the idea of whites and the various sensory and perceptual experiences of "white".
These different categories of experience, direct and associative experience combine to produce richer and more varied experiences.
This variety of experience also shows how ideas become things we also experience directly. Sensory objects are not the only objects of direct experience. For example, we experience numbers directly. Numbers are associated to "quantities" of objects, but they are not sensory experiences, and we interact with them directly. That is, we can have a direct experience with ideas as well as with sensations or perceptions.
Direct experience follows the symbolic model AW:X = X where X is the direct experience. We cannot distinguish between the sensation of pain, and a pain itself. Although we do distinguish between our awareness of the sensation of pain, and the pain itself. AW:pain = pain, AW:[AW:pain] or explicitly AW:[AW:pain = pain] is not pain. Here we do make an association between these two different levels of experiences, or kinds of awareness. Just as we would make an association between objects X, Y and say X,Y are 2 objects.
But X, Y is not 2. X, Y is AW:X,Y and 2 is AW:2 AW:X,Y ≠ AW:2.
X,Y is associated to 2, it X,Y are in fact two objects. So how does that association occur?