A Second Scientific Revolution
Psychologists, philosophers and physicists have long struggled to
explain the nature of consciousness and its relation to the world of
energy and matter, time and space. Theologians and theosophists have long
sought to explain the relation of soul and body, spirit and matter,
subjective and objective dimensions of reality. But the questions they
have asked and the answers they have found have all failed to acknowledge
a single fundamental reality. This is the reality that what we call the
'soul' or 'psyche' exists as an independent body in its own right; that
subjectivity or awareness has its own intrinsic 'bodily' qualities of
shape and substantiality, as well as 'elemental' qualities of solidity and
fluidity (earth and water), airiness and warmth (air and fire). It also
has intrinsic qualities of spatiality and temporality, tone and colour,
light and darkness, gravity and density, motion and acceleration, tension
and polarity - qualities that we normally only associate with extrinsic
properties of matter or energy.
No more important question can be asked if we wish to understand the true nature of the soul or psyche, and with it, the true nature of bodyhood as such. No more important question can be asked if we wish the 'science' of psychology to live up to its name. Today the very term 'psychology' has become a contradiction in terms. For this supposedly 'scientific' psychology is a 'psychology' which, paradoxically, has absolutely no place for the soul or psyche - which it either identifies with a disembodied 'mind' or reduces to a by-product of the brain and body functions. It will require a revolution in human thinking to shed the myth, still endlessly recycled in new forms, that awareness is simply a by-product of our brains, an instrument by which we perceive other bodies, or the medium through which we become conscious of our own bodies. The Qualia Revolution is that long overdue revolution in human thinking, a revolution which allows us to understand the soul as an independent body of awareness composed not of matter or energetic quanta but of 'qualia' - sensual qualities of awareness that are distinct in principle from any sensory qualities we are aware of. For awareness itself is not a void or vacuum that demands to be filled with sensations and perceptions, feelings and thoughts. Instead it has intrinsic sensual qualities of its own, an intrinsic substantiality of its own, and an intrinsic bodily shape of its own.
The most fundamental scientific 'fact' is not the existence of the physical universe, but our awareness of that universe. Not even the most advanced physics, physiology or psychology, however, can explain even the most elementary qualities of our sensory awareness of that universe - qualities such as 'redness' for example. 'Qualia' used to be defined as sensory qualities such as colour and tone. But what if awareness has its own intrinsic sensual qualities - of the sort we experience as the sensed 'colour' or 'tone' of our mood, the sensed 'heaviness' or 'lightness' of our bodies, or the sensed feelings of 'warmth' or 'coolness', 'closeness' or 'distance' we feel towards other beings? What if such sensual qualities of awareness are intrinsically meaningful - being the felt essence of meaning or sense? What if it is not energetic 'quanta' but qualia in this sense - sensed and sensual qualities of awareness - that are the basic stuff of which the universe is composed. What if our own inwardly sensed bodies are composed of such qualia - being the fleshly shape and substantiality, tone and texture of our self-awareness? What if all the outwardly perceived sensory physical qualities of phenomena, macrocosmic and microcosmic, are a manifestation of psychical qualia? Our understanding of the cosmos would then be radically different - uniting physics and philosophy, psychology and physiology, in a cosmic qualia science.
Cosmic qualia science is founded on a fundamental distinction between inner qualities of awareness on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the outward qualities of any phenomena that we may be aware of. In the 'spiritual science' of Rudolf Steiner this distinction is hinted at through a contrast between inner "soul warmth" for example, and measurable, outwardly perceptible warmth. Until now the universality of this distinction and its scientific implications have never been fully explicated or explored. In doing so, cosmic qualia science offers a new scientific framework for understanding many esoteric disciplines and practices previously dismissed as 'unscientific' - including those of the alchemist and astrologer, shaman and sorcerer. Whereas Jung and other psychoanalysts understood the symbolism of these practices purely as expressions of human subjectivity, cosmic qualia science acknowledges a larger reality behind their symbols. Notions of cosmic 'elements', 'nature spirits' and 'gods' for example, acknowledge the supernatural and suprasensible reality of qualia as trans-physical and trans-human field-qualities of subjectivity. Cosmic qualia science has its roots in the field-phenomenology of Michael Kosok. Field-phenomenology is distinguished by its recognition that subjectivity or awareness is not the property of a localised subject or 'ego', but has a non-local or field character. Cosmic qualia science defines qualia as basic field-qualities of awareness that are at the same time fundamental qualitative units of awareness - the qualitative counterpart of energetic quanta. At the core of each such unit is a unique field-intensity of awareness with its own qualitative tonality. Just as musical tones have sensed qualities of warmth and coolness, light and darkness, colour and texture, so do these qualitative tonalities of awareness. The individual 'soul' or 'psyche' is a grouping or 'gestalt' of qualia with its own dynamic field-patterns of inner tonality - its own inner music. All physical bodies, from atoms and molecules to cells and living organisms are understood as the outwardly perceived form taken by such psychic qualia gestalts - patterned tonalities and qualities of atomic, molecular and cellular awareness. We ourselves are such qualia gestalts. But since our own soul qualities are the expression of basic 'soul tones' or tonalities of awareness, they are also what allow us to resonate with other beings. The fundamental relation of qualia and the phenomenal qualities of things and people is one of resonation. In resonating with the soundless undertones of song, speech or music for example, we gain a silent, felt sense of the soul tones they communicate. Similarly, by resonating with the unique tonality of particular perceptual qualities - this object's look of 'redness' or that person's look of 'sadness' - we experience it as the phenomenal expression of a quale, a tonal field-quality of awareness. Resonation is the principle medium of field-phenomenological research in cosmic qualia science.
The inauguration of a field-phenomenological science of qualia is the most radical revolution in scientific thinking and research methodology ever to take place - not a 'quantum leap' but a Qualia Revolution. It will revolutionise our understanding, not only of the natural sciences but of every sphere of human life from economics and education to medicine and psychiatry, politics and psychotherapy. It challenges the foundations not only of modern science as we know it, but of New Age pseudo-science with its talk of 'subtle energies', 'energy fields' and 'energy medicine'. Not only modern 'scientific' medicine but traditional Eastern medicine, New Age 'energy medicine', complementary 'bodywork' therapies, and even 'body-oriented' forms of psychotherapy all understand the human body itself as something made up either of biological 'matter' or of 'energy' in some form. The ideologies of geneticism and energeticism have replaced both old-fashioned materialism and vitalism. They have also replaced old-fashioned spiritualism with its esoteric notions of a 'mental', 'astral' or 'etheric' body - though we must remember that these bodies were generally understood in a quite mechanical and materialistic way - seen as separate bodies composed of 'subtler' or 'finer' grades of matter.
As the Japanese philosopher Sato Tsuji pointed out "It is the great error of Western philosophers that they always regard the human body intellectually, from the outside, as though it were not indissolubly a part of the active self." Regarded from the outside, a book is a material body in three-dimensional space. It can be understood also as a vibrating energetic structure. But its three-dimensional form also conceals a multi-dimensional inner world of meaning. We cannot enter this world by researching the fabric of space and time, matter and energy. We can only enter it by reading the book - letting our awareness flow into the space of meaning that opens up within it, and allows us to inhabit as readers the unique sphere of awareness belonging to another human being. What is true of the book as a material body is true of the human body too - understood not as a construction of genes or of 'subtle energies' but as the living speech of the inner human being. Just as the written word and speech are the perceived outwardness of language, so is sensible matter the perceived outwardness of energy in all its forms. Conversely, just as meaning or sense is the inwardness of language so is it the very inwardness of energy in all its forms. What is called 'subtle energy' is in reality our sense of a 'subtle language' concealing subtle senses. These subtle senses or meanings consist of sensual qualities of awareness which are intrinsically meaningful - the very 'meaning of meaning'. Meaning or sense is never something that can be exhausted through its signification in words but is what communicates silently through the word (dia-logos).
The sense of a word is not its reference to some 'thing' we are aware of. The meaning of both words and things themselves lies in their resonance with qualia - the way they give resonant expression to sensual tones and textures, shadings and shapings of awareness as such. The inner anatomy of the human body, like that of any body, is like that of a book. Its essence does not lie in measurable flows of energy along meridians or between different energy centres or 'chakras', but rather in meaningful flows of awareness between different centres of awareness. These are located not in an 'energy body' or in the organs of our physical body but in what Deleuze has called "the body without organs" - the inner soul space that constitutes our soul body or body of awareness. As the Daoist sages recognised, what we perceive as the emptiness of outer space or the sensed inner space of our bodies, is already permeated by meaningful flows and figurations of awareness, arising from an unbounded primordial field of awareness that I term the qualia continuum.
The Qualia Revolution is a revolution not only in human and natural science but in human awareness and in human relations. This revolution is necessary, as the German philosopher Martin Heidegger was aware, to subvert the foundations of a purely calculative mode of thinking and a purely quantitative science of nature and mankind - one that is becoming little more than an ideological and technological tool of global capitalism. It is also necessary to demolish the scientific pretensions of both orthodox medicine and the nostrums offered by alternative New Age 'healing' technologies.
The age-old distortions of inner knowing or gnosis, which have permeated spiritual and scientific traditions of both West and East for centuries, now find expression in the muddled medley of modern science and 'ancient' spiritual traditions that presents itself as New Age philosophy. Drawing on the dialectical field-phenomenology of physicist Michael Kosok, the SETH books of Jane Roberts and Eugene Gendlin's philosophy of directly felt meaning or 'sense', The Qualia Revolution rearticulates Rudolf Steiner's vision of a "spiritual-science" of nature and man. At the same time, it reaffirms Karl Marx's vision of a "natural science of man" that is also a "human science of nature". Through cosmic qualia science it offers a comprehensive new 'exoteric' framework for the scientific explication and application of 'esoteric' knowledge.
Cosmic qualia science is the only framework of scientific thought in which God not only might but must have a place. Qualia theosophy allows us to recognise that God does not indeed exist as any actual being or entity that we can be aware of, but is no less real for that - being that primordial field of potentiality that is the power behind all actualities. Potentialities, by their very nature, have reality only in awareness. What we call God is 'gnosis' - a knowing awareness of potentiality that is the source of knowable actualities. What we call 'energy' is nothing but the 'formative activity' (energein) by which this knowing awareness of potentiality is constantly actualised in the form of sensual qualities and perceptual patterns of awareness. Neither action nor awareness is the function of a pre-given agent, ego or 'subject' of consciousness. Instead action is the autonomous self-actualisation of potentialities belonging to a divine and primordial source field of awareness. In itself, this dao field appears empty - lacking all form and qualitative determination. It is no-thing. And yet, like the dao, it is the source of every-thing, for it is a plenum of infinite formative potentials and qualities of awareness.
"Warm cools. Moistness parches." (Heraclitus). As 'units' of awareness,
qualia are not pre-given entities, comparable to units or quanta of
matter-energy. On the contrary, as sensual qualities of awareness they
are, like sensory qualities such as warmth and coolness, the very essence
of action as qualitative transformation. Cosmic qualia science adds a
qualitative dimension to the understanding of Being as formative and