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  • Writer's pictureDan Thompson

The Holographic Principle: My Big ‘I’ Idea (after Thomas Campbell’s My Big TOE)

Every Theory of Everything (TOE), in the sense of unifying consciousness and matter, seems like the right one, until another, better one comes along. Just as every camera, car, television, weapon, tool seemed like the best one, until it was replaced by a more up to date version.

The question is, whether we are inventing these things (tools, ideas, theories), or merely discovering, or rediscovering them towards an ultimate version. The definitive (ideal) forms that evolved in a previous universe, what Roger Penrose refers to as aeons, becoming the fundamental or transcendental principles in the one after it.

Here I have just revealed the Big ‘I’ Idea behind my theory, but before I try to convince you of this, I’d like to discuss the theories and little ‘i’ ideas that led up to it.

Science cannot exist in exclusion to philosophy and philosophy cannot exist in exclusion to science. They are in fact the two halves (dualities) of what used to be called natural science, natural philosophy or simply philosophy. 

If phenomenology is the philosophical component of the Theory of Everything, then String theory and specifically the Holographic Principle is the physical model. I will also refer to Bohm’s holomovement, Thomas Campbell’s Big TOE, Kastrup’s dissociated consciousness and Penrose and Hameroff’s Orchestrated Objective Reduction (ORCH OR). 

To begin with, holomovement posits the unification of the micro and macro through a process of enfoldment and unfoldment of an undifferentiated source of information in the form of electrons and particles that emerge to make up all of the objects that we interact with and that get their form from the information encoded in this undifferentiated order called implicate.

Holography represents a whole made up of the sum of its parts that become differentiated when they reach a certain size or stage of development. In the past this process was driven entirely by evolution where plants and animals emerged out of simpler forms of life or chemical and elemental structures. Until, at a certain point those forms of life led to more intelligent forms (humans), capable of steering that process along certain evolutionary paths. However, humans did not do this alone. They had help from another kind of evolutionary process known as technology.

Technology being any process that builds upon older fundamental processes (information) towards a final form (idea), in this case the human species, leading to human civilization. It is always there, in the elements of which it is created, but requires humans, and human civilization, to bring it about.

The ideas depending as much on intelligence as intelligence does on ideas, which in turn leads to more ideas. As if technology had a teleology and a purpose of its own.

As a model, this implies that information is holographic, in fact all communication is holographic. Thought into language, pixels into images, radio waves into sound etc.

With all these conflicting theories, how do we know which one is correct? The most probable response to this is that they’re all right in their own way. The reason the holographic model is so resilient is because it is (the best way to store information). The information is stored both in its physical state and in its scrambled virtual state. If there is meaning and purpose in the universe, which the existence of thinking entities implies, then there must be a way of storing information and retrieving it.

Real world examples of Bohm’s Holographic Theory of Everything are expressed most commonly in mathematical formulas including the Madelbrot set, the golden ratio phi 1.618, and fractal geometry where each graduation is identical to the last, what Douglas Hofstadter calls a strange loop.

Bohm didn’t just use holography as a metaphor, but as a direct correlation to the transcendental/ mathematical forms. If ideas are more fundamental than words as is implied by the idealist philosophy, then all of our inventions, which are the expression of those ideas, are not really unique discoveries, but rather rediscoveries, or reimagining’s of fundamental things. Words then come to take possession of things in description resulting in a hermeneutic circle, where things grow into words, which therefore turn back into things. In this way words reprogram or re-imagine (constitute) the world, so the universe is not only a hologram, but a simulation based on quantum bits (it from bit) at the planck scale. Below this threshold there is only information, the self-correcting computer language in the formulas of string theory. The term self-correcting here being key, as we will see, because self-correcting implies fractal patterns and processes based on probabilities emerging organically out of what has happened and what is likely to happen.

When considering that the universe might be a hologram, people immediately make the assumption that it is like other holograms that they are familiar with, e.g. the R2D2 Princess Leia/ laser or ‘white light’ variety that are created artificially, in a lab. From this it is automatically assumed that the universe is also an artificial simulation, but this doesn’t have to be the case. All that is implied by the holographic theory of cosmology is that reality is a subset of a higher dimension; N dimensions in N-1 dimensions, where N is the superset of the 3-dimensional world (-1) that we know of. A 3-dimensional boundary of a 4-dimensional space. N (that is, any number in relation to another, in this case a superset) + 1. So 4 dimensional spacetime + 1 = five-dimensional spacetime. Any number plus one, is a superset of N. All observable phenomena occur on a boundary (see Chris fields) the interface where ‘classical’ information ‘appears’, because boundary at which classical information is defined. If the boundary is taken away, or taken out of context, the observer, I, becomes indistinguishable from the rest of everything else (entanglement). The boundary (separation between subject and object) is the only way classical information can be retrieved, which means without the boundary, there is no classical information and no measurement. Classical information (measurement) are just bits that appear at the imaginary boundary.

This is how holography is framed in cosmology and high-energy physics. Bits are stored on the boundary, but if the boundary is taken away what remains, fundamentally, is an undifferentiated mass of bits that aren’t observing anything, or doing anything because they have no way to tell themselves apart (including ourselves). Nothing ever happens, because everything is happening at once, except at the boundary, which is defined only by observers, and no observer is more special than any other.

(Holographic) information only exists in its potential state (in the superset) until it is projected onto the boundary—we’ll call it space for now, but as we have said, there is no space or time in the informational domain, it is both non-spatial and non-temporal, and it isn’t computational either, but a fractal process of probabilities emerging organically out of what has happened and what is likely to happen. In other words there is no ‘supercomputer’ generating this holographic universe, it is simply the informational basis that makes all possibilities probable here (an organic, evolutionary process i.e. self-organizational) where the projected universe is finite, consisting of matter, but the information generating it is infinite.

Objects, therefore, depend on space and time and space and time depend on objects.

By viewing holography through the cosmological frame above, we can see how the underlying holographic topology of the universe could have happened completely naturally. In fact, nothing is or has to be created by anything or anyone, rather what we think of as novel discoveries are simply rediscoveries. Even artificial intelligence is not artificial, it is simply intelligence. But intelligence is not equivalent to consciousness and there is no proof and no reason to assume that it ever will be (see fig. 1). The ability of the human mind to order and recapitulate information exceeds the current version of AI by orders of magnitude. What Godel, Penrose, Irwin et al call non-computability. Leading critics of strong AI to assert that it may be impossible to recreate consciousness at all, rather it might have emerged spontaneously or ‘objectively’ as Stuart Hameroff and Roger Penrose, of The Emperor’s New Mind fame, propose in their Orchestrated Objective Reduction model of consciousness.

As early as the 3nd century AD, the Neoplatonists had considered the idea of holography through an interpretation of Plato’s concept of forms, (correspondences, laws, signatures, resemblances) as ideas within the larger consciousness system, which remain probabilities until conditions in the physical world become suitable for them to take shape as the hypostasis of universal mind. The hypostasis being the physical representation of a higher-dimensional idea or consciousness (N D in N -1 D). In this way we can avoid the problem of where these ideas came from. They are merely the outcome of ‘evolutionary’ processes, hithertofore called ‘process fractals’ Campbell’s term, organized out of past forms that have already come into being. The assumption being that consciousness (or in the case of a holographic principle, information) is the ontological primitive of matter, so that material reality may very well be an emergent phenomenon. Information being the memory, and consciousness the ability to recall, organize and express that information.

The Chinese room, a thought experiment developed by John Searle, is an example of the difference between knowledge and understanding. An AI can easily translate information from one language to another, just as we can plagarize someone else’s work and call it our own, but what happens when you have to explain what it means? AI’s are good at computation, but are unable to understand what they have done. If intelligence did somehow emerge from the computation (formal rules for manipulating symbols) it would have to have originated from outside this system, because a computer cannot program itself from inside its own system, it requires humans to do this.

Therefore, if consciousness is administrated from outside the brain, it could not act like a computer, because human brains have constructed computers, so whatever human brains are, they must be administered by something outside the brain, what John Wheeler called Other. The N in the N-1 equation.

While all of this is very scientific and technical, my thinking on the matter of objective reduction is a lot like a poet’s, mostly because this where I stand as a researcher. The poet-observer, as an object themselves, capable of transmitting as well as receiving phenomenological information—from departments of the sensory to departments of the cognitive—and that objective reduction is what makes matter organize itself and appear real i.e. a reduction from existing in all places, such as a fuzzy cloud of electrons, to solid objects. This might explain the feeling of being stared at, and why matter, which is composed of mostly empty space, appears solid above a certain threshold (200 micrometers or so). If this is happening, then consciousness is reducing our own sensory apparatus to a transmitting/ receiving function depending on what we are observing. If it’s really weird (unheimlich), we may not even be able to see it, or put it in context.

This assumption is further backed up by the organization of our visual sensory apparatus. During his 2019 keynote address at the Krishnamurti Educational Center entitled Perception, Illusion and Truth, Donald Hoffman makes a ‘case against reality’, citing that about a third of the brain’s neurons and synapses are associated with vision, as if what we are seeing isn’t just a picture of what’s already there, but that we are actively constructing it as we go out of a probability distribution (see Copenhagen interpretation) “we don’t create objects by looking at them, we merely put them into context, from disorder into order” (Hoffman 2019). This is not to say that they disappear, or don’t exist when we’re not looking at them, but they exist in a chaotic, disordered, unfamiliar ‘fuzzy’ kind of way similar to how a particle behaves before and after it is observed.

This is an extreme example (nearly as extreme as Berkeley’s absolute idealism), so I prefer to temper it a little, not to change it fundamentally, but to massage it in order to make it more acceptable to you and I, because like the world, the theories and explanations of that world must remain within the parameters of what we can believe and experience, otherwise it is a theory of someone else’s world, not ours. It will affect no one. Even if it be factually true, no one will be able to relate it to their experience. Rather, a theory has to gradually evolve with the consciousness that tries to understand it. Quantum mechanics is still not intelligible, because the consciousness struggling to comprehend it has not caught up, and it’s 100 years old. We may be mostly there (hurry up already), but before we have even gotten that far, another thing comes along that’s even more amazing. That’s not to say that these theories aren’t true, they’re just not true for us yet. We have to live with them at the being level, rather than the intellectual, the same way that intelligence must comprehend information rather than just regurgitate it—a thing known only if everyone knows—and we can’t do that if all we know and experience are cars that run on the decomposition products of reptiles who died 65-million years ago.

One way to think of this is how molecules are constructed. Molecules, like single-celled organisms, build things out of themselves, DNA for instance. Gradually, these molecules become organisms and start to construct things out of other materials; ant hills out of dirt, termite farms out of wood (which also comes from dirt) etc. By the time it gets to us we have built structures not only out of wood, but out of huge blocks of stone (we still can’t figure out how that was done even after 6000 years), then smaller and smaller blocks of stone, concrete, glass and eventually nanotechnology. If it weren’t for us, the world would look much as it did 10 million years ago, with the only structures being those built by giant colonies of insects.

The Problem with Materialism

This brings us to materialism; humanity’s peculiar way of understanding the world.

The problem with materialism is that it requires constant maintenance, while consciousness is self-sustaining and entropy-free (at least it is on a path to lower entropy—entropy here meaning the organization of information). Considering it this way, consciousness as an ontological primitive seems more harmonious. It has less entropy, it’s faster (orders of magnitude faster) and requires much less work compared to materialism. When you’re thinking, you use energy, and you may or may not get a pay off in the form of an idea, but at least you aren’t wasting precious resources or throwing your back or your legs out. You get out pretty much what you put in. We may not always be able to accomplish what we set out to do, or imagine doing, but that is usually a problem in the manifest, material world, where our arms and legs can’t move fast enough to keep up, or where there are several other players (agents) vying for the same finite resources, or striving toward the same goals. Conflict (entropy) therefore begins at the micro scale (the scale of conscious agents) and only increases as the scale gets larger. The number of attempts that end in failure is insane. It is the definition of insane; attempting to perform the same tasks after every other attempt has failed. Effort < Failure. You don’t get out what you put in. It’s like moving Heaven and Earth from our little place on Earth.

So rather than looking at our situation from the position of the superset, top down, we’re looking at it from the subset, bottom up. Which is very hard; time moves fast and we are constantly on our guard for falling and breaking objects that often break faster than we can fix them, if we can fix them at all. The speed and volume with which we act and react allows for more error. Small mistakes adding up. These small mistakes and a feeling of not enough time leads to frustration which again, feeds back into the system we are working in, gradually accumulating more entropy, which results in more error.

Whereas if we use our intent to envision the outcome first, not merely trying to do something with our intellect, but knowing and being in the moment while doing it, we’ll get better results. Knowing is subjective, that which works for me, but it is also objective when it works so well that it could serve as a rule.

Another way that entropy sneaks into the system is through language, particularly irony and mis-information. Irony like a virus, replicates and insinuates itself into everyday speech imparting a sarcastic tinge to words and phrases that would otherwise have no other/ alternate meaning. We could say, also that this irony, now endemic in language, was put there or somehow established itself as a response to the increasingly artificial and meaningless way people are obliged to live. Without a link to the source of that meaning, a basis in something that does not change e.g. nature, people continue to confuse the unintended meaning with its intended meaning (and vice versa). Assuming as a first order logical assumption that words and intentions are coming from their unintended, ironic sense rather than their intended, authentic sense.

We combat the entropy with the knowledge that TOE and intuition gives us (from the perspective of heaven, the superset) rather than our position on the ground. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. This information is accessible to anyone, but it hasn’t been blessed, given the nod by The Powers That Be. It is still in the realm of theory. Whereas if it were widely acknowledged and accepted as Truth, that power would be spread out and everyone would have it.

We made it this far, now we just need to make it a little bit farther.

Objects in general, and matter in particular, is extremely stupid, to the point where it wouldn’t even exist without something, a subject, to establish a place for it in the world. Objects are unintelligible. Only intelligence can be primary. There is no way a random system can achieve order and equilibrium (i.e. to exist on its own). There must be an order, intelligence, as a transcendental condition. The reason anything exists is because we made it. Not the atoms from which things are made, but pretty much everything else. Matter requires mind, not the other way around. A simple example is everything you see, apart from plants, animals and rocks—even these contain the basic components of intelligence. But everything else is created, man-made and completely reliant on us, as their creators, to keep them in good working order.

We create the world through our descriptions, establishing an object permanence and adapt to the best way of ‘seeing’ things through consensus, with one or more of our senses. We build everything that isn’t already in nature and all that isn’t already in nature is work. Work not in the sense of the energy transferred to or from an object via the application of force, but the work we do again and again, each day, but still nothing seems to get done. It’s work that’s unnatural. From stone to buildings and back into stone (ruins). Artifacts out of place in a dry streambed. Man-made objects often follow the same concept or principle as the natural object (see Victor Schauberger) but without the natural object’s vital link to the world, what was called the elan vital. In comparison, the man-made object seems and feels different. Social construction assumes that we see things as they really are, but what we are doing is creating them where no such thing existed before outside of a dream or an idea of the thing. From no time into time; creating time or at least speeding it up. Acting with intent creates time, while dissipation destroys it, which is why it always seems like we are running out.

The world tries to turn life into work (a stone). To weigh existence down with events, obligations, responsibilities, at the expense of hopes, dreams, desires that more often than not, are left unfulfilled. We give up our lives for work, which supplies us only with a temporary existence. Provisional meaning in a fluctuating, unstable world. Forgetting the future, because the present is already too heavy.

What the larger consciousness system seems to be trying to demonstrate with this display is the futility of our continued reliance on an incomplete, fallacious model to describe how the universe works. The materialist doesn’t believe in purpose, therefore he is constantly contributing to a purposeless existence. Rather than giving us anything that we can grasp and hold onto from their experiments, they attempt the impossible, as if that were easier than simply living with purpose. This doesn’t mean that we stop trying to find out how the universe works, but science tends to do so by looking at the smallest possible scale, and acting surprised when they find an even smaller or subtler scale which, of course, is what the mystery philosophies and traditions have always said.

Materialism is the best explanation until it’s not. And it won’t be for much longer.

We are the creators of this world—of buildings, cars, plastic bottles and assembly plants—but we are only incidental, part of a gradual progression. It is familiar to us, but to the rest of nature it is just a bunch of noise and bad smells. We have not built the ultimate civilization yet, and while we’re a little farther ahead in our thinking, our ideas have outstripped our actual abilities to put those ideas into practice.

It is precisely these ideas, or potentials, that Hoffman et al are talking about when they say our world is made of information or that it is a virtual world populated with icons that stand in for what is behind them.

In a virtual reality like Campbell’s, the objects aren’t there in the form we recognise until they are ordered by our visual apparatus or by the agents around them, because observers aren’t special, anything can be an observer. There is something there, but it exists as information. Information that people have ordered into objects and the only reason they are real to us is because we know what to do with them, otherwise we wouldn’t need them and they wouldn’t exist in the first place. We only see what we recognize and we don’t recognize it until its significance becomes familiar and known to us, hence evolution. Each species develops only so far as it learns to use objects in its environment. The first objects were the first observers and the first observers were the first objects. Each subsequent object, or observer is more aware and more conscious than the last.

The reason things got along so well before we showed up is because they operated on what Campbell calls ‘process fractals’. These are real world, almost holographic, equivalents of the more fundamental mathematical fractals. The scale of these process fractals extend from the structure of water and mineral crystals, to flowers, seashells, trees and mountain ranges, to processes going on within other processes, such as waves and the flames of a fire. Process fractals are also expressed as hyper-objects, that is, objects that extend in space and time such as migrations, collaborations of individuals on projects, protests, demonstrations and even riots.

Life evolved out of these process fractals based on the successes and failures of the last. The complexity we see today in the growth of plants and even the layering of rocks are persistent residues of the most successful processes.

All the ideas that technology has discovered or rediscovered were first natural processes. In fact, all technology has ever done is borrow ideas from nature using science as a vehicle.

The first process being the awareness of self. This is the main assumption in the theory and may remain an assumption even though a solution is probably hidden somewhere in the discussion, but we have no way of knowing which theory is the right one.

Rather it is likely that each theory contributes a piece, while the whole (consisting of subset and superset, or manifest and unmanifest absolute) will always be more than the sum of its parts, just as the individual is more than the sum of its parts.

All we can do is discover our part and play that part to the best of our ability, thereby integrating our various parts, but never reduced to them.

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