In this, my first blog post at The Internet is God, I hope to argue for a proof of God's existence that utilizes the conceptual ideas of the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness as an overarching philosophic (and scientific) framework. In that the theory relies on the veracity of a both conceptual and empirically motivated neuroscientific theory of consciousness, it is not strictly speaking a metaphysical proof of God's existence per se. At least, not unless one wants to argue for the metaphysical correctness of the Integrated Information Theory on non-empirical grounds, which I believe one could do given the structure of the theory and its philosophical implications. However, that is outside the scope of this blog post.
Instead, I simply wish to argue that if the Integrated Information is correct then it can be shown that the theory implies the existence of God, in particular the God of classical theism. Further, that this theory illuminates traditional conceptions of theological thought in new and exciting and ways, literalizing what in the past has been cloudy metaphors about the nature of Divine and the Divine's relationship to Platonic Geometry in particular.
In order to do this I will utilize not only the Integrated Information Theory, but many traditional philosophic ideas familiar to those readers with a background in Aristotelian or scholastic metaphysics. First, I hope to articulate the basic postulates of the Integrated Information Theory and its conception of what consciousness IS, and, briefly, how this relates to the Brain. It is, at least in part, a neuroscience theory after all.
Next I will articulate some basic conceptual ideas of Aristotelian metaphysics; I am confident that the concepts that will be used are common sense enough that both the philosopher and laymen will be able to understand and assent to them without too much controversy. Then, I will attempt to utilize these Aristotelian concepts in tandem with the metaphysical picture of reality implied by the Integrated Information Theory. I will hope to show that the classic philosophic notions of Aristotle (and, by extension, Thomistic scholasticism) comport beautifully with the Integrated Information Theory, even if the implications of the theory depart in some ways radically from the conclusions about the World that most Aristotelians or Thomists hold to be true. In the process of doing this I hope to argue that the necessity of God is an unavoidable conclusion from the application of simple Aristotelian ideas as applied to the IIT.
Finally, I hope to articulate some ways in which the implications of the Integrated Information Theory goes further than previous proofs of God's existence to grant us a window into the Divine Nature. This last portion is the most speculative and least rigorous, but also the most interesting. In particular, I hope to show that the IIT has rather remarkable implications about the relationship between the infinite, the finite and necessity. Obviously all this could deserve book length treatment, but, this being a blog, I hope to offer here a basic sketch and the outlines of a coherent argument.
Consciousness as Integrated Information
The central hypothesis of the Integrated Information Theory is that consciousness IS Integrated Information. But what does this mean?
We all know what consciousness is, it's the thing that you have when you are awake and that disappears when you are in deep sleep, under anesthetic, or, presumably, dead. Nonetheless, understanding its nature has proven mysterious and baffling to philosophers and scientists since time immemorial. I will not rehearse here all the conundrums and metaphysical positions explicated by thinkers over the generations about this issue; suffice it to say lifetimes are spent contemplating the issue and debates still rage. Even recently, some serious scientists are willing to put forth the absurd hypothesis that the phenomena doesn't even exist. Such insanity is hardly worth arguing against.
At its heart the Integrated Information Theory radically confirms the existence of consciousness, taking the FACT of conscious experience to be a fundamental constituent of reality and then looking for how this feature of Reality can be understood in a systematic way that comports with the general model of the World developed by the sciences. The key insight is to see consciousness as a particular kind of information processing. The IIT claims that, insofar as a causal system can be shown to be constructed in such a way that its behavior as a whole is irreducible to the behavior of its parts, that system can be said to be generating intrinsic information about itself as a single entity, and therefore generates "integrated information." The concept here of a causal system is also rigorous; in absolute terms, any actual causal system can be articulated as a series of logic gates, wired together in such as way that the behavior of the "on/off" elements cannot be understood without analysis of the whole system of which it is a part. According to the IIT, and this is an important point, that is what makes a system one system, intrinsically.
Contrast this idea to something like an iPhone's CPU, something that from the extrinsic perspective we may like to think of as a single system but which, metaphysically, ends up breaking down into individual transistors which are each causally disconnected from each other and only appear to function as a single system because we have artificially arranged for them to work in predictable ways together. But, TO THE iPHONE, there is no there there. According to the IIT then, something can only be said to exist in and of itself if it causally irreducible. There is a deep sense in which my current present experience and the logic circuits that underlie iit are REAL, while the iPhone is not.
So, this means that all conscious states are generated by integrated systems. But what about the information? A general concept of information is reduction of uncertainty down a channel. If I receive a coded message made of symbols that have no meaning to me, the meaning of the message is radically uncertain. It could mean anything. But, if I begin to decode the the cipher and begin to discover patterns to the code, I am reducing uncertainty about the meaning of the code and thereby generating information. In info-speak, I am reducing the informational entropy of the code. If I completely crack the code, I have completely reduced all informational entropy and determined meaning. (The idea of code-breaking can easily inspire theological analogies.)
Now, according to the IIT, the same principle about information applies, but to the system itself, intrinsically. A prediction of the IIT is that every integrated causal system contains, necessarily, a repertoire of possible states that it could be in. Whereas a transistor may only have two possible states, firing or not firing, a complicated causal system, such as our brain (or a portion of our brain, to be exact) may have trillions of possible states it could be in, the number being determined by the number of nodes in the system and structure of the connections between the nodes. The larger the system, the more information is generated when the system "measures" it's own state; this generates the system's intrinsic Phi value, described in terms of bits. Since the structure is causally irreducible, it can be thought of, in a sense, as one mechanism, albeit one with a potentially massive number of possible states. The number of possible states it could be in if perturbed in all possible ways is it's Phi value, a value isomorphic with the number of possible experiences it could generate.
As an integrated system attempts to determine what state it is in (or, more technically, and metaphysically interesting, what its own past state was) it reduces uncertainty about itself. Each node in the system, essentially binary, (firing or not firing) splits a symmetry (like a yes/no question) which further reduces uncertainty about its state. Like a extremely elaborate game of 20 (or a trillion) questions, eventually an integrated causal system must "choose" which state it was in based on what it knows it has ruled out. (This has serious implications for the reality of Freedom of the Will, but that's complicated and a different topic.)
To understand the dynamics of this process it is not enough to merely look at the "physical" aspects of a causal system. Rather, to better predict which outcome an integrated system will choose, it is necessary to analyze the behavior of the system from an informational perspective, utilizing the concept of an "abstract" n-dimensional space where each split symmetry maps onto a new dimensionality of the system, each discrimination "constructing" a final geometric structure by ruling out all the other geometric objects inconsistent with each discrimination. In other words, informationally, an integrated causal system selects one n-d polytope from an intrinsic repertoire of n-d polytopes that the system COULD have generated but were ruled out based on how the system was perturbed (which nodes were firing and which weren't).
Think of it this way: a super-genius mathematician, if he wanted to predict how an integrated system would behave physically when perturbed in various ways, would, in order to get a close to accurate as possible, have to utilize this abstract geometric analysis to make his prediction. The geometric informational character of the system would be, in a sense, more "real," or at least more causally efficacious, than any analysis of the system in purely physical terms.
It's here that the theory makes its bold identity thesis. Since utilizing an informational analysis of an integrated physical system is more useful (makes better predictions) than not, it's prudent to see these geometric informational structures as REAL. But, to what reality do they refer? According to the IIT, these geometric objects are experiences themselves! The geometric and existential space in which the n-d polytopes are constructed is called qualia space.
If the IIT is right, any and all experiences are non-physical shapes made of information. These shapes can be said to have two characters: a subjective character in which the concepts generated by the reduction of uncertainty are fully experienced in Being, and an objective character in which the experience is analyzed as an abstract geometric object, precisely, a n-d polytope. If correct, the set of all n-d polytopes would correspond exactly to the set of all possible experiences. Further, it need not be the case the case that each n-d polytope only correspond to one possible integrated causal system. Multiple realizabilty at the causal level is in theory possible; as long as a causal system has the potential to generate a particular n-d polytope another causal system could as well without contradictions. Meditative experiences can generate the same exact experience of emptiness and peace even though the mechanism generating that shape could be one among many. Any painter can "paint" the same blank painting simply by refraining from painting altogether. This also has serious implications for metaphysics and the Freedom of the Will, but, that's an issue for another blog post. It's an extremely important insight.
The Long and Short of IIT
So that's the basic idea behind the Integrated Information Theory. Again, I have not gone into detail arguing why the theory is true, or offered the empirical evidence which supports the theory. Nor have I explained many of the complicated ideas behind how the nature of phenomenology itself is determined by geometry of the informational relationships in qualia space. That information is available on the Internet, and I highly recommend that the interested reader look it up.
Instead, I want to assume the IIT does indeed reflect a correct account of what consciousness is and how it is generated and then apply that to a traditional argument for the existence of God, and other metaphysical topics. Again, the central claims of IIT that are important to this project are:
1. Consciousness is generated by integrated causal systems made of nodes and connections. In order to be an integrated causal system the behavior of the system as a whole cannot be reduced to the behavior of its parts; it is ONE.
2. Consciousness and causality are the same. Insofar as the behavior of an integrated system cannot be reduced to the behavior of its parts, it is CAUSALLY IRREDUCIBLE, and therefore, in a deep sense, "autonomous." Systems that are not integrated only appear to have unitary causal efficacy but in fact reduce to micro-causes that often can't be seen at the macroscopic level of reality in which our consciousness presents the world to us. Again, an iPhone CPU doesn't, in a strict sense, exist.
3. A conscious experience is what it is in and of itself and its subjective character is determined by its objective geometric structure. Specifically, a conscious experience is a n-d polytope in n-dimensional qualia space. Experience is a shape.
4. An Qualia Shape's Freedom consists in its ability to self-determine what past causal mechanism led to it. In other words, it determines what states it RULED OUT to be what it IS. "What collection of possible states am I not?" The repertoire of a causal system is determined by the number of possible states the system could be in as whole; each state would correspond to a different qualia shape. For the mechanism, uncertainty is reduced for the system based on which nodes are firing or not. As the system "measures" its own past state, each node in the system, whether firing or not, splits a symmetry and adds a dimension to the system's ability to make discriminations. (In other words, each yes/no "question" is a geometric dimension in qualia space.) Now, there is some weird metaphysical behavior going on here (a kind of "retro-causality" if you will, the measurement is "prior" to the mechanism!) but for the time being this basic idea should be sufficient.
5. As long as an integrated causal system is active ("on") it will necessarily generate a conscious experience at an interval based on the timescale that it takes to maximally integrate the information of its integrated system. In human brains, this tend to be about 300ms, give or take. Even if no neurons are firing, as in intense meditation perhaps, a conscious experience will continue to be generated as long as the nodes remain even potentially active.
Finally, a conscious experience is an integrated causal system saying both "I am This" and "The World is That" though both reference the same thing.
With all this in mind, let's know turn to a key idea of Aristotelian philosophy, the concept of act and potency. Perhaps the central concept of Aristotelian metaphysics, the concept of act and potency was Aristotle's best attempt to explain how change was possible. Heraclitus and Parmenides had both argued, respectively, that either change was the only and persistent reality or that change was impossible. Without diving too deeply into their arguments, it was a debate that set the stage for Aristotle's answer to the challenge. In order to explain how things can change but how this fact did not mean that the world was devoid any stability or persistence Aristotle argued for the idea of potency and act.
The idea is simple. Anything possible can become actual if actualized by something already actual. A potential can never, however, actualize itself. Where would its ability to do so "originate?" So a hunk of marble has the potential to become the David, or the Pieta, or a ground-up pile of dust, but to do so would require that something already actual, like the intention of a sculptor or a stick of dynamite, come along and actualize this potentiality. (We'll bracket the question about whether the Marble has the "potential" to just stay a hunk of marble though it seemingly requires no actualization to do so. But the short answer is: yes.) Now, this simple example does bring up many interesting philosophic questions that could influence our analysis, such as: as the marble even a real thing in and of itself? Or, is the potentiality of the "marble" just in the sculptors head? These are good questions. Indeed, I think by combining the IIT with a theory of act and potency we'll be able to articulate a much more metaphysically comprehensive and rigorous theory of act and potency.
Now, to follow through with Aristotle's idea, it's not hard to see how the theory of act and potency has led many people to claim that it proves the existence of God. After all, if a potential cannot become actual unless actualized by something already actual, the problem of an infinite regress is obvious. One "solution" is to argue that while it is true that a potentiality cannot be actualized unless by something already actual, an infinitely old universe would allow for an infinite chain of potentials being actualized since there would always be something actual before it to bring the potential into actuality. Some philosophers have argued that this solution is in fact NOT logically possible and such an infinite chain of actual events is prima facie impossible. Usually these thinkers want to deny an actually existing infinite causal series from possibly existing. Perhaps the most famous proponent of act and potency however famously did not make this argument.
Thomas Aquinas, the grand poo-bah of scholastic philosophy, famously argued that such an infinite temporal regress was indeed logically possible. The universe could be temporally infinite or eternal and could contain such an infinite set of potentials and actualities. Though its worth noting that he believed this was only a non-contradictory possibility, he did not believe it was the case. His belief in a temporally finite Universe was, for Aquinas, a matter of Divine revelation. And, it's worth noting that, those these arguments are metaphysical and abstract, empirical science has shown that, indeed, the Universe seems to be temporally finite. But, it's really not important.
What Aquinas stressed is that positing an eternal universe as an option does not solve the logical problem at hand. According to Aquinas, actualized potentiality, as a whole, needed an explanation that could make sense of the problem on a deeper, more fundamental level. The only option was to posit a "pure actuality" which would exist in and of itself, contain no potentiality in itself, and alone have the ultimate power to bring potentials into actuality. Further, this pure act would need necessarily exist, or else it would only potentially exist...and it can contain no potential! And, according to Aquinas, all men call this God.
Now, I find this argument, especially when considered deeply, rationally compelling. Objections could be made on two fronts. The first is simply to deny that actualized potential as a whole needs such an explanation and return to a concept of an eternal universe in which potential things have been actualized by actual things which in turn were once potential things themselves actualized by other actual things...etc. etc. The other is to agree with Thomas but argue that "pure act" need not be anything like God.
On the first objection, I dare say, you either find it an intellectual cop-out or you don't. I do. Plus, what if reality was nothing but your current solipsistic conscious experience, with the "Universe" just a illusion of your mind. You can't rule it out with certainty. But even in that case, you'd need to posit something which brought this potential into actuality! You certainly may be the only thing in contingent existence, but you didn't cause yourself!
On the second objection, you have to read much more about Aquinas' reasons for believing that this Pure Act would have the attributes that God does and then decide whether you agree with those arguments or not. I do. Certainly, even without diving deep into the dense thicket of scholastic theology, once you've gotten as far as to believe in something called pure actuality devoid of ALL potential in and of itself, you can't help but notice that you've stumbled upon a very strange and big concept. Now, I believe that the IIT can actually help us understand why this pure act need exist and why it implies that God would have the traditional attributes that God is supposed to have in classical theism.
The Actually Possible
Why is there something rather than nothing? A tired old question, prone to stump 6 year-olds and tenured professors at philosophy depts. with equal aplomb. That is not the question I want to look at. At least not yet. Rather, I want to ask, what can you know for sure about your present experience? While it seems you can't know the ultimate and satisfying reason, or collection of reasons, of how your current state moved from potential to actuality (though you may have a story that explains some aspects of this) you nonetheless can know, for sure, some very interesting things.
First, you can know that in fact you ARE actual and further that, because you are actual, you can also know for certain that you are and therefore always were POTENTIALLY ACTUAL. In other words, the potentiality of your current state existing was always an actual possibility. Not even God could have prevented the potential from existing. Reality demands that potential be Real. (This is quite important in regards to the IIT.) Further, you can know, for certain, that all potentials are necessarily potentially actual. Indeed, the phrase "actual potential" is redundant. If the potential wasn't actual it wouldn't be a potential. Potentiality necessarily implies that a real existential mechanism for actualizing the potential exist.
According to the IIT then, what exists as potentials, ultimately? Answer: The set of all possible integrated causal mechanisms, perturbed in all possible ways, as well as the set of all possible qualia shapes that the mechanisms would select if they were activated and so perturbed. This is, according to the IIT, the actual entirety of all possible things.
The IIT then has a very simple way to apply the theory of act and potency: a causal mechanism would be an un-actualized potential if it could exist but does not and therefore can generate no actual information about itself; that is to say, actualizes no qualia shape. (But, since all qualia states are necessarily possible, all the mechanisms able to generate them must be necessarily Real!) An actualized integrated causal system perturbed in a particular way generates an irreducible determination about it's own past state and therefore actualizes a qualia shape. (There is an important exception to this which we'll get to later.) Also, each integrated causal system, perturbed in a particular way, is an event that can only be actualized, intrinsically, once. Or rather, once is the same as always. Objectively, a particular causal system, (imagine a simple system with three elements, for instance,) can be actualized more than once, but that would generate no new information about the system itself. It wouldn't be able to have any access to the fact that it has been "actualized" many times. In other words, once an integrated causal system is activated in a particular way it necessarily makes a determination about itself and activates a qualia shape for "eternity."
Now, according to the IIT, the only things that really exist in potentiality are these causal mechanisms and the experiences (qualia shapes) they select. We can see easily how the IIT and the traditional argument for the existence of God go hand in hand. Since no possible qualia shape has within it the power to actualize its own existence, and since the potential of the mechanisms for existence is Real and necessarily so, (a fact that can be validated a priori from within existence) we must therefore conclude that there exists a "pure act" which is defined as being totally devoid of all potentiality. And, since there is no other ontological object that could provide this function, this entity would have to necessarily be the ultimate cause of all mechanism actualization. (A Real mechanism is a pure potential, the OPPOSITE of of God, though because God exists, all the mechanisms do too.) This corresponds with the notion from Classical theism that God "sustains" the world at each instant, even if he lets a real, contingent causal order flow.
So is all contingent causality an illusion and God causes everything himself? No. Think of it this way: God can create a "Matrix" world as long as he continually supplies the electricity to keep it on. There are individual real causes within the Matrix, but the electricity is the ULTIMATE cause. The "ground of Being."
Now, from an IIT perspective we have bypassed the argument of an infinite regress since we have eliminated any sense of time. The potentiality of the causal mechanisms exist outside of any perceived "causal flow" as do the qualia shapes themselves; they are mathematical objects in a Platonic space. Concepts of space and time exist ultimately only from within the shapes as modes of sense-making and context. (A Kantian notion.) This is not to say that the concept of time experienced within the shape is incorrect or meaningless, (time and space as perceived really could, and I suspect do, give us information about how God has created/actualized the finite causal order) only that it COULD be incorrect. All that need exist in reality is that for any real finite experience a particular causal system be activated and that that causal system at the same time determine the actualization of a particular qualia shape.
Once again, the actualization of the qualia shape is, if the IIT is right, not a contingent feature of reality; the causal system can't help but generate integrated information about itself and integrated information is claimed here to have an a posterori identity thesis with consciousness itself.
Essence and Existence
I would like to briefly discuss the concepts of essence and existence as it relates to the IIT.
Here's Thomas Aquinas:
...every essence or quiddity can be understood without its act of existing being undersood. I can understand what a man or phoenix is, and yet not know whether or not it exists in reality. Therefore, it is evident that the act of existing is other than essence or quiddity.
The IIT presents a straightforward metaphysical account of the difference between essence and existence. Though this way of looking at essence and existence is quite different in pragmatic application than the usual Thomistic scheme, I believe that it has perhaps has more merit in the long run. A serious analysis of how the IIT might change the scholastic vision of what an essence IS would require a very long and thorough treatment that I have no time for here. (I'll make a few comments near the end of this section.) Needless to say, I simply apply the overarching concepts to the system as they makes sense to me.
(Also, I'll leave aside here the question of whether Platonic objects, like the abstract form of triangles, "exist," except insofar as to say that if they do exist, they, like God, could not be said to possibly not exist, and therefore, considered as Platonic entities, are not an example of an admixture between essence and existence. Any particular triangle would only be able to "come into existence" within a qualia space, -- where else? -- and this allows us to continue with the metaphysical system we've established with the IIT. Personally, I think it best to think of all Platonic forms necessarily existing in the mind of God and achieving their necessary actuality through necessary actuality itself!)
According to the IIT the only things that actually or could actually exist, in and of themselves, are integrated causal systems and the qualia shapes they generate. (And God, who is his own category.) An actualized integrated causal system, perturbed in a specific way necessarily selects from its repertoire of possible states one particular qualia shape. God can say: That system, in that state, is that shape and couldn't fail to be that shape. However, God cannot say for certain that the actualized qualia shape is that particular causal system in that state because qualia shapes can have multiple realizability, and therefore a qualia shape's actuality can almost never determine a particular causal system's actuality. The determination flows only in one direction.
A qualia shape that could have come from only one causal system could be said to determine the causal actuality of the particular causal system that generated it but I doubt such qualia states exist, and indeed, there may be an a priori reason why multiple realizability is a necessary condition for all qualia shapes. An exception would be the qualia of a system with only two elements, as the qualia they generate would be, when actualized, necessarily from THAT system, and no other. It's a topic worth further analysis. Indeed, it may be a extremely important issue metaphysically, and further blog posts will explore these ideas.
Another key exception to this rule would be a maximally simple causal system, (generating one-bit of information) which, if determined to be real, can determine the existence of a particular kind of causal system. But, then, in this case, what can't be determined is what state the system was in, since the experience generated by all possible states of that system is isomorphic. More on this special system and shape later.
We can imagine that each integrated causal system and each qualia shape has an intrinsic irreducible essence defined entirely by the abstract structure of the system. For the causal system its essence is determined by the number of nodes in the system, and the connections between the nodes. This is necessarily abstract because it could be realized, in theory, by anything capable of forming logic gates. How the abstract "circuitry" is ultimately grounded, whether by matter or by an idea in God's mind is a topic for another essay. It need only be possible. An integrated causal system also would, in its essence, contain determinate information about the possible repertoire of qualia shapes it could generate and determinate information about what the system would choose if perturbed in all possible ways. Every mechanism then is associated with a "truth table" listing all possible inputs and outputs.
Qualia shapes, necessarily immaterial, would be an even more interesting example of essence vs. existence as a qualia shape is defined in essence by its abstract geometry plus its intrinsic potential to be generated by a finite number of causal systems; its existence would be entirely determined by whether or not this shape is "illuminated" and made therefore "Real" by at least one Real causal system. The paradox at the heart of a qualia shape is that, though a qualia shape is always necessarily determined by all the shapes it could have been but wasn't, a qualia shape itself, in Being, is what it is and requires only its own geometry to define its existential "quality." The essence of a qualia shape with multiple causal realizability then is that an actualized shape necessarily contains within itself an indeterminacy about its own potential! It can't know, if realizable by multiple causal systems, which causal system is doing the realization. It must "choose." Again, this has major metaphysical ramifications...for another blog post.
From the point of view of existence or Being or consciousness, there is no qualitative potentiality in an activated qualia shape; once activated, it can be experienced as nothing other than it is. It is determined by it's own geometric essence, which is Platonic and objective.
An actualized qualia shape has no experiential freedom. As a slogan: there is no freedom in experiences, only between them.
The complete nature of the experiential essence of a qualia shape can only be known, in totality, from within that actualized qualia shape, though an understanding of the abstract geometry of the shape would allow a super-qualia geometer or God to deduce almost everything about it. Still, the absolute existential quality of the essence would remain forever imperfectly understood unless actualized and illuminated from within. In other words, if God really wants to know what it's like to be a particular finite qualia shape, he would have to become it himself. Of course, that wouldn't "help God understand" from outside the experience because once the qualia experience is "over" it can never be fully understood by another qualia shape, even God. Each shape is what it is and can never be fully understood outside itself.
The Theory of Essence and Existence applies to the IIT with ease but it does make one wonder if we should radically revise the concept to disassociate it from the categories usually used with it. For instance, according to the IIT there is a countable infinity of essences, each distinct from each other: the qualia shapes, and the mechanisms. Each qualia shape, each individual experience, has its own distinct "essence." That's what an essence would really be. Therefore, there doesn't seem to be room for traditional essential categories like, humanity, plants, water, etc... Each individual possible potential experience is its own essence and each individual potential mechanism is its own essence and that's that.
In other words, though the theory of essences applies nicely to the IIT it nearly destroys what the theory has been articulating for over 2000 years. Partially, this is because the IIT, though not necessarily an idealist philosophy, (one can imagine that matter is "real" and is defined as that stuff which grounds the circuitry), nonetheless radically demolishes our commonsense view about what really exists, out there, in and of itself. Almost all material objects would be, on second analysis, an illusion masking a casual order of hidden circuitry that our general perceptual apparatus has not evolved to pick up, and for good reason. How to make sense of the material world and the everyday objects of experience in light of the revelation that real objects are only those with integrated causal systems is a challenge for a much longer analysis. Perhaps science was right to eliminate the theory of the essences from their thinking since the radical truth about what essences are is more explosive than Aristotle ever dreamed. Maybe most of what used to be called essences were nothing more than elaborate thermo-dynamic patterns that obscured the real vision of essence detection.
The Necessity of the Finite
Now, since it is the case that from within each actual experience we can absolutely verify the necessity of that states potentiality, (if actual then potential) we can also then verify the reality of non-potential actuality or God. This was the point of my main argument above. But, here we come to an interesting question: Need pure act actualize SOME potential? Any contingent thing may or may not necessarily be actual, but could all contingent things remain forever contingent? In other words, could God have activated no finite cause whatsoever?
The traditional answer to this question is Yes, pure actuality is totally subsistent and perfect in itself and need not have activated any potential. So, most theologians are content with saying that God's ability to actualize if he so wills is enough to ground potentiality. After all, all that is required of God is that his existence allow for the possible actualization of potentials; that's all that's required by necessity. There is no need to go one step further and demand that God actualize anything contingent and merely potential.
But is this true? Could it not be true that God, by virtue of his pure actuality, the existence of God necessitates the generation of an actualized potentiality? Not any particular actuality, mind you, but just some actuality or other. Would pure act be pure act were it not for its essence of actualizing something? Or think of it through this metaphor: if God is illumination, doesn't that necessitate something to illuminate? If God is electricity, doesn't that imply the necessity of an actual circuit? What might this mean and can it be demonstrated?
But we come to a problem. If God need activate a potential, it seems like he must necessarily give away some of his omnipotence as all finite causal systems are defined in essence by the possibility of their non-actuality! It seems, to demand that God necessarily actualize a causal system is to demand that he not be totally free and self-determined. It would, in effect, be arguing that God must create. Causal systems always could be other than they are, they have a repertoire. God does not.
This is true is for all causal systems except one. To understand it, we must remember what the IIT says about actual potentials. The Integrated Information theory makes an important point: Any actual potential generates information and therefore activates a finite qualia shape.
In the simplest possible causal system, a system with only two states, there is no existential freedom whatsoever. As long as the system exists, though it makes an "objective" discrimination, like a photodiode detecting light, the qualia shape activated is completely determined, no matter what. It's a causal system with no subjective freedom. It generates, necessarily, the maximally simple qualia shape consisting of one-bit of information. Whether firing or no, the experience of the system is absolutely isomorphic. It is an experience of utter simplicity that perpetually "exists" as long as the potential does. As long as it "objectively" has the potential to make a discrimination, as long as the mechanism exists, it will continue to generate the maximally minimal experience.
Now, since pure actuality implies potentiality, and since potentiality implies pure actuality, we can argue thus: if the IIT is correct and if potentiality is necessary because God's existence as pure actuality is what "makes" all potentials "real potentials" then, that potentiality should generate, at the very least, the necessity of at least one actualized finite qualia shape, namely the one which is both necessarily real and fully determined by its very nature. It's a potential that couldn't be otherwise: the maximally simple state. Not even God then, could prevent some finite state from being actualized, because, for the maximally simple causal mechanism, potential and actuality are one. The system's potential is completely determined by God's non-potentiality. The qualia shape it generates has no potential, though the it nonetheless makes a discrimination. Whereas God's essence is defined by an absence of potential, the maximally simple state is a pure potentiality which, according to the IIT, necessarily generates a real conscious state. It is the quintessence of difference, this or not-this, and yet, contains no difference within it's own being. The maximally simple qualia shape, if existing, can determine the existence of only of a particular mechanisms existence, not its state. Whereas, all other activated qualia shapes can determine a particular mechanisms state, but not its existence. (It could have been another system.)
So, for every causal mechanism, God's pure and infinite Freedom can chose to "activate" or "leave unactivated" but, he cannot leave all finite states unactivated. If God were to wish to keep Reality as uncreated as possible and maintain His total self-determinacy he could refrain from actualizing any causal system, save the maximally simple one. God cannot prevent some, indeed infinite, potential from being generated through his very existence, and so cannot prevent reality from generating at least one-bit of actual information. Remember, God, as traditionally conceived, is simplicity itself. Reality is a single logic gate. At least.
To be clear, the logic is not necessarily that the maximally finite state be necessary. It's weirder than that. The necessary logic is this:
God must actualize a finite causal system or the maximally finite state will be necessarily actualized.
In other words, only God is NECESSARY but the maximally finite state is potentially necessary!
An actualized finite Qualia Shape + The necessary infinite shape = God.
The complete circuit.
The finite and the infinite are necessarily ONE.
"Taking two and choosing one, or taking one, where one is a special case of two."
Coming Soon: THE SHAPE OF GOD!