TSC 2024 Corrigan Presentation Narration

Please note that there are two levels being presented in my talk: Theory and practical application.


I had a software company for 30 years, starting back in the 80s. I retired at 47, went back to university, and then moved to the Southwest of France. I live in the Vezere Valley, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the many decorated prehistoric caves found there, and the fact that human beings survived the last ice age there (at least, that’s the marketing pitch). I mention this because of the profound understanding of human perception that our early modern-human ancestors had — which shows in the techniques that were used in their cave paintings and engravings to induce illusions or to represent motion of various kinds.

I have also been a lifelong meditator, starting at the age of 5, when I was introduced to a practice directed to the development of what are referred to as spiritual insights. I wondered why they were called spiritual, because one of the meditation insights that I have come to is that the concepts of  spiritual and material create a false dichotomy that limits our ability to make sense of the world and ourselves. 

These two then, the recognition of the profound understanding of human perception that our ancestors had, and the desire to break free of the mistaken worldview that has sundered our very being, came together in a different understanding, that has taken over two decades, perhaps my whole life, to arrive at. 

One of the features of this understanding has to do with how we perceive duration of our experiences, and our daily life, and surprisingly, how we experience the fluid motion of films and videos.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།


This is a teaser trailer for a novel theory which I call the Paradigm of Responsive Naturing. 

This theory repositions and redefines consciousness, while at the same time integrating it into a full-blown productive theory in which it is a necessary aspect of the naturing of the world and ourselves. 

I am presenting my work today because I am looking for others who may find this paradigm useful in their own work, with whom I can collaborate. My goal is to scientifically study this paradigm in various contexts, so that formal mathematical descriptions of it can be derived.

I have discovered that this paradigm’s rather simple productive structure — simple being a relative term — has immense explanatory power. 

This is a principle theory, not one constructed from underlying phenomena. Einstein spoke in his memoirs of his despair of ever being able to discover true laws by means of a constructive effort based on known facts. He became convinced that only the discovery of a universal formal principle would lead him to assured results. He explained what a principle theory is in an article published in 1919 in the London Times. He said:

Along with this most important class of constructive theories there exists a second, which I will call “principle-theories.” These employ the analytic, not the synthetic, method. The elements which form their basis and starting-point are not hypothetically constructed, but empirically discovered ones, general characteristics of natural processes, principles that give rise to mathematically formulated criteria which the separate processes or the theoretical representations of them have to satisfy.⁠1

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

How Did This Theory Come About?

The genesis of this idea originally arose in response to: First, a specific characteristic of the support that I use in my meditation practice. Second, by my discovery of the same specific character of my thoughts and reasoning. The specific nature of both these is that they are responsive to one’s attention and concentration.

I’ll explain:

I started meditating with inner spontaneous sounds at the age of 5. 

These sounds are always present, but are too subtle to hear except in the silence between thoughts — or their absence.

When one focuses their attention on these sounds they become louder (without blocking anything). 

So I was curious as to why and how my attention to them elicited that response.

Note: Widely occurring tinnitus has this same characteristic, thus training one’s attention to turn away from the tinnitus sound is an effective therapy to keep it from becoming overwhelming. Traditionally, however, this responsive nature of the tinnitus sound was recognized as an indication of the focus and concentration developed in preliminary meditation practices. It was a good thing.

Thoughts are like this in character also. If we engage a thought with a positive, neutral, or negative feeling, a following thought conforming in some way to our feeling about the prior will continue the line of reasoning. If we do not engage, the flow of related thoughts ends. This is universally understood in all meditative traditions which don’t fail to point out that your thoughts are not you.

I must point out that it is not possible that we think our own thoughts, for two reasons:

To initiate a thought would require that one knows what the thought will be before thinking it, which is an obvious paradox. 

As well, the logical structure of a reasoning process needed to decide what the next thought should be, leads to an infinite regress. 

And these two hold even if you push the production of thoughts down into some subconscious process in the brain.

My conclusion was all our thoughts are intuitions — we do not think them, they just arise in response to extant contextual conditions in that moment.

RESULT: The inner spontaneous sounds and my thoughts are natured in direct response to my animadversion upon them. “Animadversion,” in it original usage, means “turning the mind towards” with a sense of animating a response. Perfect!

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

How the Construction of Fluid Motion in Film Happens:

Again, one of the many insights that came from my lifelong meditation practice was a direct experience of the two phases that all perception passes through. The first, which I refer to as Imperience — that is, an immediate perception which entailed only a bare recognition of what was sensed, is then followed by Experience — that is, what I understood that bare recognition to be of. So, Recognition is followed by Definition. And I daresay this is the nature of mind.

In fact, once I had this notion in my mind, I started to find it mentioned everywhere — in Western philosophy going back millennia, in Eastern spiritual traditions and their philosophies, also for millennia. I even discovered that Nobel Prize-winning poet, T S  Eliot, shaped his poem, titled the Four Quartets, as a presentation of this understanding and how it relates to our ideas of immanence and transcendence — these four making up the four quartets of his poem. 

So why isn’t this well-known? Because, apparently no one has been able to integrate this understanding into a productive principle that explains why it occurs — and describing how is not explaining why. The needed productive principle, I submit, is that of responsive naturing. That is, for each event there is a coherent response — and that coherency necessitates a cognitive recognition of what is actual. This is not a conceptual definition — that can come later for those beings, like us, that are capable of conceptual thought.

So I want to use the phenomenon of the fluid motion that we perceive in film to illustrate what I am talking about. There are many theories about how this fluid motion occurs, the primary one being the idea that the movie frames blur together. I will show you a short, 24 frames-per-second, video that proves this isn’t the case. That there is something else going on.

WARNING: if you are susceptible to seizures caused by flashing lights, you may want to avoid looking at this video.

[START Video:] 


Note that it is best that you relax your eyes, holding them steady, because when your eyes move, it blocks the transfer of visual data, and your mind holds onto an image — this is called Persistence of Vision. If you repeatedly blink your eyes, the same effect will occur. What I want you to experience is that you see every single image — all 24 pictures per second — and you recognize what is in them — but not conceptually, because they are happening too fast. 

[STOP Video.]

In a 2014 paper Mary C. Potter and her team from MIT’s department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences reported that we can see video images that are presented for only 13 ms or 77 fps. But note, that was the limit of their projection equipment, so it is not the limit of what we can recognize.

So why don’t you see blurred images, or fluid motion, in this video? The images do not blur together in our vision, because there is no coherent continuity between the images — these are random images. So it is not just the speed that is required, it is a recognition of the coherent continuity of the content in film and video that is needed. In fact, I assert that the fluid motion that we perceive is not other than the recognized coherent continuity — and it is exactly this that also creates the felt duration of our experiences and, indeed, of our lives. The speed, in fact, is needed to cutoff the definition phase of this biphasic perception.

This raises the question: how is this coherent continuity between images recognized? There are two parts to this answer: In a strictly linear world, the first image should be as visible as the random images were, and only with the arrival of the second image would we begin to see fluid motion. That doesn’t happen. In truth, our eyes don’t see images, they see a continuous stream of light that gets encoded by the brain. And the patterns of neural activity of that encoding are recognized and that is used to construct not only the fluid motion, but the environmental scene around us, which is so stable, even though our body and eyes are constantly in motion. This is the cognizant aspect of responsive naturing, and it is here, that I locate what is normally referred to as consciousness.

There are other events that seem to evade the definition phase, not via speed, but something else that occurs — and this needs to be researched. To illustrate this, I want to read a quote from a friend, also a longterm traditional meditator. She wrote:

On the morning of November 17, upon waking up, for a second or two, I neither knew where I was nor who I was.

While I was in this blank yet oddly familiar and even pleasant state (labeling it as „pleasant“ only happened afterwards; the experience, while it lasted, was one of utter neutrality), sensory data was still „around“ and the awareness of being and of a „setting“ were perfectly clear, but the information wasn’t processed in any way. Despite a multitude of appearances – the room, objects in the room, light, sounds – , everything was the same, nothing held meaning, nothing had a name or a story. Awake awareness was the only quality present, and while what conventionally would be described as sensory data about objects or perception were also somehow contained within that awake experience, there was no differentiation between background and foreground or between space and objects within that space. There was no contrast, neither in terms of meaning nor substance.

I want to also read you an insightful quote from the British philosopher  F H Bradley:

It means for me, first, the general condition before distinctions and relations have been developed, and where as yet neither any subject nor object exists. And it means, in the second place, anything which is present at any stage of mental life, in so far as that is only present and simply is. In this latter sense we may say that everything actual, no matter what, must be felt; but we do not call it feeling except so far as we take it as failing to be more.

This Biphasic nature of Perception, and the intrinsic Recognition of the Coherent Continuity during its first phase, gives credible explanations — without reduction — for:
● Spontaneous Spiritual Awakenings.
● The felt duration of both our perceptual experiences and our daily life.
● Our visceral feelings of Truth, Beauty, and Divinity — such as that of a loving God — over a spectrum of ordinary and non-ordinary perceptions.
● Libet’s Delay.
● The experienced Fluid Motion in film and video.
● The phenomena of Binaural Beats, Flavor Synergies, and Haptic Texture Synergies.
● Deja-vu.
● The reason for the impossibility of accurately describing spiritual experiences.
● And I note: The coherent continuity of the fluid motion in films that are watched while using strong psychedelics, such as LSD, strongly suggest that the brain is not the mind, but only aids the mind.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

An Overview of the Paradigm’s Explanatory Power Beyond the Above:

This active principle of responsive naturing is cognizant of each response as it is informed — that is,  made actual. These are the actions that are recognized as they occur as a reconfiguration. Each reconfiguration is a response to current facts: latent coherent ontogenetic potential of the actual being, the existing contextual possibilities as potentiated by affective intents of the being — intention, attention, and desire — if any, depending upon the being’s intrinsic capabilities. 

Thus, the role of this cognizance is the recognition of the coherent continuity of the being which is necessary for the next reconfiguration. This means cognizance is the necessary condition for action. The coherent continuity that is recognized is not between two images, or two reconfigurations, as each actual is recognized as it is, and that includes the specific potentials,  possibilities, and affective response (the qualia) that this actual was the solution for. That is, each reconfiguration — that which is Now — is a vignette: the actual has a backstory. And this backstory is the entanglement between the actual and its prior. These are patterns that form the understanding, and inform the next reconfiguration. 

But remember this process is not deterministic — it is constrained to coherently continue the being, but the affective intents of the being are taken into account, so there is wiggle room. This is where the concern for each being is to be found, and I dare say, this is the source of our feeling of a loving presence, or grace, that adumbrates our path through life and is the response to our attention, intention, and desire — if any.

This paradigm has powerful explanatory power:

● It solves the Hard Problem of Consciousness because the cognizant recognition of each response is both foundational and necessary.

● It gives a credible explanation for both Quantum decoherence⁠2 and Wave Function collapse — via the actual and its responsive reconfiguration of quanta.

● It gives a credible explanation for the Arrow of Time and that of Coherent Histories.

● It gives a credible explanation for the development of new or modified traits in the evolution of species, without relying on “random mutations over very long periods of time,” as well as explaining:

● Homeostasis.

● Intelligent Design, by responding to contextual conditions, as constrained by the potential of each being, there is, in a sense, intelligence — that of also incorporating the affective intents of individuals.

● Natural Selection “For”: this is not a blind watchmaker, nor an entity at all. It is a responsive process.

● It gives a credible explanation for the spontaneous and responsive nature of thought and intuition (the two become one).

● It gives a credible explanation for the Basal Cognition⁠3 — all life engages in cognition, even those without brains.

● It overcomes Zeno’s Paradoxes via discrete reconfigurations

● It gives a credible explanation for what the Understanding is.

● It Solves the conflict over Free Will versus Determinism, by explaining how it is Free Choice that is possible.

● It Re-Enchants our lives and fills them with meaning and purpose.⁠4 

● It gives a credible explanation for the necessity for embodiment.

● It solves the issue of the religious problem of Evil versus Good.

● It explains how ontogenesis proceeds.

● It gives a credible answer to the Folding Problem of DNA protein expression.

● It gives a credible answer to how newly expressed proteins find their way to where they are needed.  And similarly for cells, even neurons, that find their way to where they are needed.

● It explains the purpose of the brain to be an analog signal processor, whose patterns of neural activity are recognized and responded to.

● It explains the benefit of stochastic signaling in the brain, and why it doesn’t affect results, but rather improves them.

● It gives a coherent explanation for how Bayesian Prediction processing can actually work in embodied beings.

● It gives science a firm foundation that is not interfered with by a supreme entity, while allowing a place for God as the creator of this responsive naturing — without prejudice either way.

And more…

One last point: this process is the same in all beings. A being is anything that has an ontogenetic lifespan, such as cells in my body, and even an electron. This entails Hylozoism — the view that matter is also alive — as is defined in this view. 

Our current view is limited, and the structural approach of mechanical materialism is not a full view.

There Is A Way Of Seeing The World Different.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།


1 Albert Einstein, “What is the Theory of Relativity?” published in The London Times, November 28, 1919 (emphasis added).

2 This is the so-called “measurement problem” of Quantum Theory: how quantum particles, which theoretically exist as an unknowable cloud of possible states, can give rise to the solid, well-defined world of earth, fields of grain, sky, forests, rivers, friends and loved ones, and everything else — including us.

3 Basal cognition, as an emerging field with a label, is very young. It was born 5 years ago under this name, in this form, at a workshop entitled “The Ground-floor of cognition: from microbes to plants and animals, and everything in between” (June 2018) at the Konrad Lorenz Institute (Klosterneuburg, Austria).Footnote 1 The idea was to put a diverse collection of scientists and philosophers from a range of disciplines and research areas in one room to see if there was common ground for a plausible research enterprise. The workshop participants included leading experts in their fields. The result was a special double issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, printed in March 2021.Footnote 2 The project was organized around a phrase that appeared in a short slide presentation at the workshop’s end by one of the organizers (PL) about possible steps forward.

4 The paradigm of Responsive Naturing reintegrates us as the beneficiaries of concerned Naturing — not intentional design, and not meaningless happenstance. This re-enchanting of our world also reintegrates us as an aspect of the wholeness of the world.  It undoes the decimation of the human spirit that has been a byproduct of the mechanical philosophy of science.

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