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Introduction

I use the terms consciousness and immediate experience interchangeably. We project consciousness onto other people and often onto animals. How far this goes is a focus of this paper. The terms, as used here, are considered applicable to even the simplest possible experience such as a single isolated point in the visual field. It is such consciousness that even rocks may have or (closer to my position) be.

Over the last two centuries foundations research in mathematics and physics have moved from studying fundamental entities and their properties to studying abstract structures. In set theory, from which all widely accepted mathematics can be derived, the only fundamental entities are the empty set and the relationship of set membership. Mathematics no longer begins with points, lines or even numbers. There are no fundamental entities, not even the billiard ball like particles of Newtonian physics, in the Standard Model of particle physics. There are only a raft of `fundamental' constants and mathematical equations. This paper applies the approaches to fundamental theories from those fields to the problem of consciousness.

In `Realistic Monism'[26] and a follow up article[27] Galen Strawson argues that physicalism, the belief that everything that exists is physical, implies panpsychism. This paper argues that his conclusion is correct but can be made stronger: the totality of the existence of physical structure is immediate experience in some form. Stawson's approach relies on `self evident' philosophical assumptions which are inevitably contested [15]. This paper develops assumptions based on the principles that underlie the foundations of contemporary mathematics and physics. The resulting arguments are less dependent on intuition, which differs widely, and is circular when used in arguments about the ultimate nature of existence.

I start by describing the two principles that underlie foundations research in mathematics and physics. I explain how these principles lead to the removal of any intrinsic nature from a scientific or philosophical analysis. It exists only in conscious experience. From this and the two principles I argue for a strong form of panpsychism and develop some rules of consciousness. A brief detour to the foundations of mathematics describes the open ended nature of mathematical truth. This mathematics is used to derive boundary conditions for the ever expanding evolution of consciousness. These conditions are proposed as central to the development of an objective ethics based on the connection between physical structure and conscious experience.


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