Multisense Realism defines sense as what is required for either 'information' or matter to exist as a universe.
Sense can be further defined as:
The cumulative discernment of participatory experience.
It is proposed that without some form of experiential participation, there can be no coherence in mathematics, no difference between algebraic expression and geometric expression of the same function for example.
Without some form of cumulative discernment (perception of significance), there can be no motivation for material interaction or the development of qualities.
It is easy to see why math and matter would make sense (i.e. would contribute to a sense-based agenda), but there is no obvious possibility for sense to arise out of any consistent schema of airtight functionalism, either material, ideal, or information-theoretic. These three alternatives are what I would call semi-verses - fragments of the whole which, even added together, have no way to reconcile each other. Only experience itself, through participatory perception, unifies matter, mind, and media.
Following is a visual survey of popular consciousness theories to highlight the similarity and difference between multisense realism and established approaches.
Multisense Realism explores sense as a neutral monism, the Uni in Universe.
The two proposed primary verses (or juxtapositions; 'versus') are:
Qualitative presentation: Private sensory-perception and motive-participation
Like the ordinary awareness which we have as human beings, our afferent dispositions and their expression as efferent changes in position can be scaled out to the level of microcosm and astronomical macrocosm. All forces and field dynamics can be flipped around to an intersubjective orientation of tension and release rather than interobjective automatism.
Quantitative representation: Public bodies and objective perspectives solidify and mechanize experience. The need for realism arises as a kind of accounting schema or political stabilizer among experiences. Matter and energy are presentations within our sense experience, but ultimately they are representations of other sense experiences. Objectivity is a secondary verse but what it lacks in primordial authenticity it makes up for through the power of modulation by proximity: metered extension.
Multisense phenomenology and objective realism are not merely a dualism of separate or unrelated 'substances', they are the two opposite expressions of sense, and they are opposite in every conceivable way. What they share is their opposition to each other - their orthogonality, which reveals the sense that gives rise to their distinction, and to distinction itself.
It is proposed that human consciousness constitutes a specific range of sensitivities in a context of many possible perceptual sensitivities and participatory motivations associated with all physical phenomena. As human beings, our variation in culture, age, gender, individual physiological capacities, etc prevents us from arriving at a comprehensive generalization of what human consciousness is and what it is not. We know from human history that cultural bias, in the form recurring of racism, intolerance, and persecution, blinds us even to identifying sentience within our own species, let alone the subjective experiences of other organisms. Recently, scientific support for non-human consciousness has been affirmed officially.
The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness: http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf
There is increasing confirmation of awareness in birds, ants, and plants as well:
We know that whatever subjectivity is, it seems that a key feature of it is that it is prejudiced in favor of its own proprietor and against what it doesn't 'like' or what seems to be unlike itself. But what is 'itself'? What is 'like?' How do the two relate...what is 'like itself' (or "like", itself)?
These questions are at the heart of what sense is. Multisense realism is a kind of panexperientialism in that it views the capacity to detect and be detected is the fundamental and defining principle of 'realism'. The relation between the two is what the entire cosmos, from atom to galaxy, is 'made of'. The only difference is in the way these relations are bundled together. As a subject, the relation of world to self is a perceptual experience through time. The relation of the self to the world is as a material body in a place. It is critical to understand the importance of the symmetry, that in fact, all material bodies are in places on the 'outside' and have experience (not like a human experience, but a detection-participation of some kind) on the 'inside'.
Our history of being able to appreciate the consciousness of other people and species is so consistently abysmal that it should not come as a surprise that we attribute false presence consciousness where there is none as well as denying sentience where it is not absent. We treat cartoons and stuffed animals like they are our intimate friends and people who live down the street like they are irrelevant shadows. We are not a good source for vetting the possibilities of agency. This makes sense though. We are not universal detectors of agency, we are human organisms who exist in a particular niche of intersecting phenomena of a particular range of scales and velocities. Our direct experience has a range of only about 0.1Hz to 0.3 nHz, a tiny fraction of a moment in terms of geological time or an ocean of near eternities on a subatomic chronological scale.
What does time really mean though? What is a scale? It is proposed here that both are ordering principles, the former which models experiences or events sequentially, and the latter which models the relations of relations as in topographic parallel. Our perception of time is affected by the quality of our consciousness. 'Time flies when we are having fun', but also when we are asleep, unconscious, etc. The fundamental unit of subjective time is not the tick of a clock, but the significance of experience. Suspense is a good example of how felt content shapes our temporal orientation. A narrative can build a sense of significance which generates an anticipation of resolution. Through storytelling we can figuratively condense or expand any length of time into a hours/minutes scaled text, be it a biography, a history, or an entire cosmology. It is suggested that this process of analogy and iconography is what cognition, semiotics, and perception is all about. Making sense of ourselves and our universe by capturing what is significant for us and using a likeness of it to build more significance through it.
Sensation, sensemaking, and sense 'in the sense of' (categorization or text-context transformations) allows us as people to participate as an entity 'in the world' as well as to remain separate as an idealized voyeur that seems detached from the world. Although our perceptions often function to represent to us an objective reality, they are not limited by that functions, and it is proposed that they (qualia) are presentations in their own right. Sensorimotive experiences are as much the referents of neurological conditions as neurological conditions are referents of subjective experiences. Neither supervenes on each other but rather are bi-directionally integrated aspects of a larger whole. Blindsight and synesthesia show us that fixed qualia are not necessary for representation, and that representation can occur without any qualia at all.
John Searle's Chinese Room example and Gottfried Leibniz mill argument illustrate the absurdity of materialism when applied to subjectivity. They make the point that qualia is superfluous for any functionalist definition of computation and that we must be especially vigilant not to confuse the 'map with the territory'. These words, for example, are not literally speaking English. They are not really even words until they are interpreted as such. This understanding of representation goes back to Berkeleyan style idealism (if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?) and Platonic questioning of epistemology (allegory of the cave).
What multisense realism proposes is that rather than a separate force of physics, consciousness is a layered juxtaposition of sense experience: perception of perception, feeling of feeling, and detection of detection. Each level constitutes a qualitative scale, or inertial frame of perceptual-relativity. Cutting across those frames vertically could be called a subjects 'world' or umwelt.
The nature of the range is such that the closer a particular object, person, or place is to the subject (both literally close in terms of distance and physical scale, and figuratively close in semantic terms of being 'like' or 'liked by' the subject') the more the realism of the object is couched in personal associations. A building that we live in 'seems like' home, whereas an unfamiliar building seems like it 'simply is' a building.
Ultimately all of our senses of reality are our own, so that even the 'simply is' levels of chemical and physical realities are only our instrumentally-extended experiences of certain aspects of the universe. Our view of matter arises from the density of our bodies, their solidity and consequential relations to the other solid, liquid, and gaseous presences surrounding it and permeating it. Our models of matter fail completely from the perspective of something like a neutrino or photon, in which solid rock could be imagined as nothing but a faint tint on empty space. Likewise a photomultiplier's model of photons fails completely to address our human optical presentation of light.
To understand perception, we must recognize that the dualism of subject and object is an extrapolation of symmetry itself. Perception is the manifestation of reflective meta-juxtaposition in which any particular thing or event is just like itself and exactly not like itself.
Through this framework of juxtaposition multiple senses of realism have evolved; one literal and unambiguously exclusive, and another figurative and inclusive of everything except the literal and exclusive. In one sense the self defines itself in terms of what the world is not: private, signifying, orienting, etc. In another sense the self defines the world in terms of what the self is not: public, a-signifying, generic, etc. These senses have historically blended so that spiritual traditions apply signifying qualities to the universe and materialist or infocentric views challenge subjective animism by projecting object sensibilities internally. Both of these approaches have yielded valuable knowledge and wisdom, but there is a tendency in each approach to overstate its benefits and deny its faults, thereby progressing into an egotistical pathology of denial and projection and enormous misunderstanding.
Multisense realism seeks to reconcile these misunderstandings by adding to our existing objective knowledge and subjective wisdom in a way which address the fact that they are both real in some sense, unreal in some sense, both real and and unreal in some sense, and neither real nor unreal in some sense. Realism arises from and through the sense and symmetry between these conditions. Too much subjective reference can degenerate into magical thinking and delusional mania. Too much objective reference tends to degenerate into reactionary pseudoskepticism and mechanistic absurdity. Both extremes disqualify their opposing ontology into a metaphysical never never land of irrelevant epiphenomenon of either teleological superlatives (God, Spirit) or mechanical universals (evolution, randomness). The cosmology of multisense realism locates causality itself as a category of conditions within the cosmos rather than a condition which the cosmos or experience supervenes on. It is proposed that sense is ultimately more primitive than either objects or subjects.
More on Multisense Realism at http://multisenserealism.com