Consciousness: A Triadic Process

Joseph Naimo, University of Notre Dame Australia

Consciousness: A Triadic Process Giuseppe (Joseph) Naimo BA (Hons.) Philosophy, Murdoch University Western Australia This thesis is submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Murdoch University, 2002


The disciplinary enterprises engaged in the study of consciousness now extend beyond their original paradigms. Any serious attempt at establishing a comprehensive theory of consciousness should facilitate the additional knowledge contributed by these enterprises toward an overall understanding of the fundamental meaning and scope of consciousness itself. This dissertation draws on the recent findings of several disciplines that share a common interest in consciousness studies. This transdisciplinary domain results from the syncretism of several approaches and brings about a new paradigm, one that might enable an advance beyond the stalemate reached in the particular disciplines. One of the central theses emerges from a radical reformulation of certain core concepts, e.g. Space, Time, Event and Motion (STEM), that transforms many ontological assumptions about the material basis for consciousness. The acronym STEM forms a new concept to capture the notion of simultaneous activity of physical processes at all levels. The background for this overarching enterprise draws from a variety of traditions. First from the work of Vasubandhu (2nd C. India), the principal exponent of the Yogacara School of Buddhism who further expanded the Skandha theory of mind (psychophysical person). Skandha theory presents an account of the psychophysical nature of human beings where the constitution of an individual is described in terms of consciousness-moment-energy-events. According to this view, the psychophysical person is an aggregate of such consciousness-events which themselves are reducible to the ultimate level of Nibbana. Second, the Buddhist theory has close parallels with certain features of the quantum-mechanical account in David Bohm’s theoretical work. An argument is made tying in the notion of consciousness-events with Bohm’s ideas about “active information”, “proto-intelligence”, and “non-locality”. This leads, third, to the adoption of Bohm’s thesis about the explicate and implicate orders of the Universe – the Expression order and the Impression order. On this view, the Universe is formed on an actual-physical level, the apparent properties of things, and a potential-physical level, a constant progress of becoming that exerts an influence on the present. And fourth, to the development of a triadic scheme, the Triangulate-Three Principle (TTP) – Consciousness, Body-of-Experience, and the Intellect-Reflective, a proposed universal principle of being formed by these triadic-conditions. Attention is paid to Marcer’s and Schempp’s model of Phase-Conjugate-Adaptive-Resonance (PCAR) which they have argued is a necessary condition to enable a living organism to perceive in three-dimensional reality. This notion, fifth, coheres to a physical-theoretical model called Signature-Energy-Frequency (SEF), well demonstrated in the atomic, chemical, and information fields (i.e. spectroscopy). The outcome of this research embraces a holistic and creative worldview based on a triadic model wherein consciousness itself is postulated as the most basic, primordial stratum. This primordial consciousness or proto-intelligence can be considered as either manifest or unmanifest. The unmanifest is primary, amorphous, and a zero-point field; the manifest is secondary, ordered, and energy-filled. However, both orders are constantly conjoined since the Impression order exists as potential energy of the quantum vacuum. The physical Expression order is formed by the proposed triadic-conditions of which one aspect emerges as lifelike properties. These triadic-conditions inhere in every particle and organism to which it guides its development, adaptation, and survival. The concept of individuated experience implicates perception, intelligence, motility, and other-recognition; reciprocity entails attraction and repulsion through exchange and patterned dominance. Intellect-Reflective, represents the inherent cognitive faculties shared by all living organisms to varying degrees. The triadic-conditions, however, at one end of the scale are exhibited at their most basic level as attractive, repulsive and neutral properties. At an increasing scale, they manifest as the self-organizing properties found in all living organisms moving up to the higher order cognitive processes of human beings, on to the level of Nature. The conscious being is thus a self-organizing system formed from the triadic-conditions in Expression order through STEM-interactions.