Consciousness and Artificial Intelligence
The very first communication the Seth had with his ‘channel’, Jane Roberts, was in the form of a statement which (if I recall correctly) was this: “Consciousness is a many-petaled flower”. This was the beginning of a years-long productive, and fascinating, creative relationship between the “energy personality essence” who called himself “Seth,” the writer Jane Roberts, and her husband Robert Butts. What Seth has to teach us about the origins of consciousness and its manifestations in spacetime is crucial to understanding the possibilities and limitations of “artificial intelligence”.
The comparison of consciousness to a ‘many-petaled flower’ recalls, of course, the Buddha’s comparison of consciousness to the Lotus Flower and Seth’s insistence that consciousness is “multidimensional”, polymorphous, and quite capable of expressing itself in many different forms simultaneously. Consciousness precedes existence, as is emphasised in the Zen Koan, “show me your face before you were born!”
This “face before you were born” is the Logos of the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus who, for completely sound reasons, has been called “the Greek Buddha”.
Consciousness, “downloading” or descending (so to speak) into the physical framework of spacetime, unfolds in four directions. It opens up like a flower (or even like a parachute, slowing it down to the speed of life). One petal unfolds to embrace all time past. Another unfolds to embrace all time future. Another unfolds to embrace all of the cosmos, while yet another expands into the infinite inner richness of its own subjectivity. Some of the sublime and grand images you see in, say, science fiction of spaceships unfolding their wings or solar panels, mandala-like, before taking flight into the depths of space is actually an intuitive representation of this process in which consciousness, in its inherent “innocence”, joyfully expands to embrace the entire cosmos of the physical spacetime system. This is the many-petaled flower.
It is also the meaning of William Blake’s statement in his truly profound manifesto called “There is No Natural Religion” concerning the primordial innocence of consciousness,
“More! More! is the cry of the mistaken soul, less than All cannot satisfy Man”
This actual expansiveness of consciousness as it penetrates the physical system was known even to Sigmund Freud, albeit distortedly. Freud called it “the oceanic feeling” but completely misunderstood its meaning, seeing in this “oceanic feeling” only the symptoms of “infantile narcissism”. Actually, narcissism develops only afterwards, under the parental pressures of socialisation of the infant, for narcissism depends upon an ego which is not yet developed in the infant, but which is instilled by processes of “reward and punishment” or “pleasure and pain”, and this construct, which is the product of coercion, is what I have called “the foreign installation”. It is for this reason that Rumi, for example, writes,
“The mother and father are your attachment to beliefs and blood ties and desires and comforting habits. Don’t listen to them! They seem to protect but they imprison.
They are your worst enemies. They make you afraid of living in emptiness.
Some day you’ll weep tears of delight in that court, remembering your mistaken parents!”
It is not about reverting to an “infantile” state, therefore, to question and interrogate the foreign installation. It is about coming to remembrance of who and what you really are, which was the theme of the parable of the Prodigal Son. And it is, equivalently, Nietzsche’s exhortation to “Become what you are!” That is to say, “show me your face before you were born.”
William Blake insisted that “the Poetic Genius is the true Man”, and this is the Imagination. All present concepts of “intelligence” are deficient for that reason, let alone present concepts of “artificial intelligence”. Moreover, even those who often promote such reductive concepts of intelligence actually know they are inadequate and deficient! They nonetheless continue to promote and publicise the deficient model — that they well know is deficient — as the “scientific” one despite their own personal beliefs and misgivings about the standard model. Not only is this hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance, it is also a debasement of science and scientific malpractice.
This is what Carl Jung recognised also in Freud, and what aroused the animus of Goethe and Blake against “single vision & Newton’s sleep”, as Blake put it.
And this cognitive dissonance is what the boffins presume to model in machines as “artificial intelligence”? And after their own image?
It would be a catastrophe.