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Civilization and Beyond
A Metaconscious Mosaic Outline

 


Metaconsciousness*


The idea of metaconsciousness is presented as a myth, not a theory. What we call consciousness, intelligence, and creativity are humanly recognizable manifestations of a spontaneous property of complex systems of all kinds which manifest along a wide spectrum which, like the electromagnetic spectrum, is mostly invisible to human perception. In this view, the humanly recognizable qualities, consciousness, intelligence, and creativity, are a narrow subset of a much broader phenomenon associated with interactive systems of all kinds, and of varying complexity. I have coined the term metaconsciousness as a label for this mythical phenomenon, which is constant in kind, variable in degree, and manifests to human perceptions within the narrow band we call consciousness, intelligence, and / or creativity.

Examples of metaconsciousness in Nature are adaptive behavior of all kinds: i.e. living organisms encountering unanticipated novel circumstances, and accommodating them with appropriate, effective, and novel responses. The ability to learn from experience is termed emergent behavior in human-engineered complex systems – meaning it was not explicitly programmed in advance. Emergent behavior and learning from experience are manifestations of what I am calling metaconsciousness. Thus the entire process of evolution by means of natural selection may be cited as a manifestation of metaconsciousness, inasmuch as it involves the dynamic response of the entire biosphere to constantly changing circumstances, and arriving at solutions that work in response to the challenges posed by such changes.

A more specific example of metaconsciousness would be the behavior of orb-spinning spiders.1 Those speaking from a strictly human perspective often assirt that the tension structures of web-spinning spiders are entirely "instinctual," or "programmed," and do not imply consciousness, intelligence, or creativity on the part of their arachnid engineers. Responding from a strictly human perspective, I would substantially agree; yet actually observing a spider weaving her web, I cannot help but marvel at her capacity to adapt a complex suite of general design principles to the uniquely specific circumstances in which she sites her construction. She is obviously capable of evaluating circumstances and making choices and design decisions in the process of siting and constructing her web.

Further, although her building strategies, methods, and patterns may not be the unique innovations of that particular spider, they are highly effective, economical, and metaconsciously derived patterns that work quite well for the purpose of providing the spider a viable livelihood, and the wherewithall necessary to reproduce her kind. A human building contractor similarly follows blueprints and construction strategies developed and refined by others besides himself – which implies little or nothing about his own consciousness, intelligence, or creativity, or those of the architect, or the building inspector, or the legislators of building codes.

Bottom line, whether implemented by humans, or spiders, or the entire biosphere, highly effective design innovations are developed and put in place in "real world physical reality" by a widespread phenomenon called consciousness, intelligence, and / or creativity, when applied to humans, and which I am calling metaconsciousness when applied to any complex system, including human beings and human social structures.

This speculative myth accounts for the presence of metaconsciousness (including, but not limited to humanly recognizable consciousness, intelligence, and creativity) by suggsting that these are spontaneously associated with complex, dynamically interactive systems of all kinds, and that the more complex a dynamic system is, the more metaconscious it tends to become over the course of time. Thus what we mean in this discussion when we speak of "the gods," or "living in the hands of the gods," is the universal metaconsciousness spontaneously inherent to all complex systems – naturally including "All That Is," the most dynamically complex system there is, or can ever be. "Living in the hands of the gods" means making the deliberate choice of living in harmony and accord with That.


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* Source: The Gods & the Law of Life. Note that the concept of metaconsciousness has been subsequently expanded here.

1. See Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable, W.W Norton & Company, New York, London, 1996, Chapter 2, Silken Fetters, p. 38, ff. for a fascinating description of various spider behaviors, adaptations, and innovations.


Civilization and Beyond copyright 2004, 2005 by J. Harmon Grahn. Copying and redistribution, in whole or in part, are permitted in any medium provided this notice is included.



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Civilization and Beyond
A Metaconscious Mosaic Outline