By Steve Minett, PhD
Having published, in 2019, a large (600+ page) book surveying the history and development of theories of consciousness within scientific culture, in this book Steve Minett presents his own, personal theory of consciousness. It focuses on the notion that energy ‘contains’ the ‘raw material’ of sentience. Minett suggest that in addition to being an information processor (via Turing’s ‘Tape Readers’), the brain is also an energy processor, via the brain’s unique ‘Tape Player’ (which is locate in the PAG structure in the brain stem). The PAG processes the ubiquitous ‘feeling energy’ of the universe into; sentience, qualia, affects, feelings and (consequently consciousness). This amounts to the primacy of energy over information in physics.The Tape Player generates consciousness by reacting to incoming sensory data with affective responses. Specifically these ‘affective responses’ are the seven ‘primordial emotions’ (or combinations thereof) identified by neuroscientist and psychobiologist Jaak Panksepp.
The brain’s ‘Tape Player’ works very differently from its many ‘Tape Readers’, which process algorithms, essentially in the same way as a digital computer. Rather than the Central Processing Unit of a digital computer, the ‘Tape Player’ is much more like a video devise, processing data from a tape or disc into affectively meaningful moving images, with sound and colour (as per Damasio’s metaphor of consciousness as the ‘movie in the head’). The ontology of contemporary science needs radical revision to accommodate all this; among much else, mathematics specifically needs to be seen as simply a description of energetic processes, not an explanation. The book consists mainly of amplifications of this brief outline and includes a new ontological synthesis for science, which can accommodate this theory.
Table of Contents
- Chapter One, Introduction: Our Dilemma over Consciousness
Consciousness: ‘The Final Frontier’
Opening the ‘Suitcase’ of Consciousness
The Computational Theory of the Mind
An Ontology to Challenge to the Realism of Modern Science?
Explaining Consciousness Via Ontology
Energy and the Brain’s ‘Tape Player’
- Chapter Two, Infomania: Consciousness as a Magical By-Product of Algorithmic Information Processing
Are Organisms and Affects Merely Algorithms?
Harari’s Summary of Algorithmic Theory
The Triumph of the ‘Algorithmic View’
‘Black and White Mary’
Severe Pain Instead of Colour
The Consequences of Rejecting the ‘Algorithmic View’
- Chapter Three, Whitehead’s Ontology
Whitehead’s Rejection of Passive ‘Dead’ Substance
Making Room for Mind: Pan-Experientialism, Not Panpsychism!
Escaping the ‘Dead’ Matter of Classical Physics
Whitehead’s Two Modes of Perception
The Role of Emotion in Whitehead’s Ontology
The Primacy of Affect
- Chapter Four, An Ontological Synthesis?
Energy and the Brain’s ‘Tape Player’
The Process Ontology Alternative
Comparing Humphrey and Whitehead’s Two Sensory Modes
The Watt governor and Non-Representational Prehension
Sensation in Single-Celled Creatures: An Example of Self-Organisation?
The ‘Obviousness’ of Consciousness
The Primacy of Affect in Consciousness
Panksepp, Homeostasis and Emotional ‘Tools for Living’
How The New Synthesis Can Escape the Ontological ‘Cul-de-Sac’ of Modern Science
- Chapter Five, The ‘Self’: The Conscious Self – The Brain’s Unique ‘Tape Player’ Amongst its Numerous Tape Readers
The Self as a ‘Centre of Feeling’: the Brain’s Unique ‘Tape Player’
Why Do We Have a Self?
Where in the Brain is the Self?
The Self as Affect-Based
Affect in The Developmental Self
Shaping The Self
Regulating Emotion for Self Organisation
Transcending the Self: The Bee-Hive Mentality and the Sense of Awe
The PAG/tape-player: The Seat of the Self
- Chapter Five, The Reality and Function of Qualia
Why Do We Need Two Sensory Modes?
Prehension Explains the Reality and Function of Qualia
Qualia Part of Mind, Not Consciousness
Neurones Become One with Life!
Qualia and Homeostasis
Qualia – Astride Mind and Self
Qualia: Where in the Brain?
Qualia: Deep in the Brain?
The Function of Qualia: Homeostasis and the Management of Novel Behaviour
- Chapter Seven, Consciousness as Feeling
Rehabilitating a ‘Scientific’ Mental Dimension
Consciousness and Non-Locality in ‘Veiled Reality’
Consciousness, Condensates and Evolution
Immediately Meaningful Qualia?
Qualia as Rewards and Punishments
Qualia – Neither Linguistic nor Cognitive!
A Survival Value for Qualia?
Energy and Information: Are Knowledge and Experience the Same?
The Function of Consciousness: Homeostatic Well-Being
The Good Beard and the Bad Beard
- Chapter Eight, Conclusion: Summary and Implications
An ‘Ontological’ Strategy
A New Synthesis of Scientific Ontology
Consciousness for Infant Mind Adaptation
Stretching Classical Ontology to breaking point
Spirituality, Empathy and Nature in the New Scientific Ontology
About the Author
Steve Minett was educated at the universities of; Sussex, Oxford, Minnesota and Stockholm. He holds five university degrees, including a PhD from Stockholm. He taught for four years at a study abroad program at the University of Stockholm. He later developed a career in international marketing, working for many multi-national companies, eventually setting up his own agency. He became financially independent in 2004 (at the age of 53) and has since devoted himself to the study of theories of consciousness: he taught the subject for several years at East London’s University of the Third Age and the North London Buddhist Centre. His website (below) contains 200+ audio-visual film clips, articles, book reviews, plus recordings from 100+ relevant books, all freely downloadable: