Throughout history, natural phenomena have been ultimately mysterious. Some of these phenomena were explained by religious belief, others by philosophical analysis. Since the 17th century, the modern scientific approach has found that many phenomena in nature obey clearly describable physical laws. This success greatly widened the ambit of scientific inquiry beyond the physical into the realm of what previously had been considered metaphysical or nonmaterial. Today, the territory of scientific inquiry has expanded to include how matter leads to consciousness.
Most common and popular models of consciousness share the postulate that physical activity in the brain is prior to consciousness. No current theory, however, has been able to resolve the problem of how physical processes in the brain give rise to subjective experiences. Even quantum mechanical theories, while suggesting potential mechanisms that might create “unexplainable” phenomena, fall short of answering the fundamental questions about subjective experience. This gap—between the objective, material brain and the intimately known, private qualia of subjective experience, or “what it is like” to experience something—has so far not been bridged. Some thinkers have even rejected qualia out of hand, asserting that we have insufficient knowledge of the physical world to evaluate their existence.
Some believe that early Homo sapiens depended entirely on sensory experience as a reference for what does and does not exist, and that only as our understanding evolved did we come to challenge the evidence of our senses. Certainly, the discoveries of modern science changed the way we looked at the world. They gave us intellectual models of the universe that often seemed to contradict our sensory model, but which provided in fact more accurate pictures and were eventually confirmed by experimental observation.
Perhaps the most notable example is the shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric view of the cosmos as a result of the work of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo in the 16th and 17th centuries. More recently, inquiry into very small and very large time and distance scales in relativity theory, quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and cosmology has radically changed our beliefs about the nature of matter and physical phenomena as our senses perceive and our intellects apprehend them. We may ask, what actually exists for us? And we may agree that everything is continuously changing; we may even agree that whatever appears not to change is only one of an infinite number of simultaneously existing possibilities. For example, in some models a particle can be everywhere at once, and the fact that we find it here and now suggests either that we have collapsed the infinitude of its possibilities in a single act of conscious experience or that it continues to exist everywhere in an infinite number of universes parallel to the one in which we experience it.
In all this uncertainty, one fact seems undeniable: the fact of our own awareness. Without awareness, we can neither perceive nor apprehend, neither see nor think nor dream. Commonly, this awareness is called consciousness: the observer, the witness, the experiencer. If indeed this is the one undeniable fact, then it is timely that a scientific journal be dedicated to the study of consciousness as primary.
To be truly scientific requires that the journal obey rigorous methods of logic, research, and experimentation. At the same time, this requires that no a priori or unproven points of view stand in the way of new original postulates, previously explored theories revisited with new insights, or unconventional axioms.
The International Journal of Mathematics and Consciousness is founded in part to fulfill this need. The Journal opens the door to all mathematicians, scientists, and thinkers to present their theories of consciousness and the consequences thereof. With the requirement that such theories follow strict scientific, logical argumentation and respect proven facts and observations, articles can be submitted for review, without restriction to their proposed axioms and postulates. The Journal also welcomes carefully reasoned articles that challenge commonly held, but not fully established, theories and beliefs.
Consciousness and “Consciousness at work”
Abstract concepts and subjective experiences such as love, friendship, beauty, devotion, happiness, inspiration, pain, despair, and deception, are, in and by themselves, hard to study scientifically because of their innate, subjective, personal nature. Even more difficult to study is the more abstract consciousness that seems to be like a screen on which these emotions, notions, and sensations are projected and experienced.
Modern cognitive neuroscience identifies various neural correlates of these mental states. The discipline of psychology attracted great thinkers who proposed various theories and methods of investigation, mostly focusing on the manifestations, observable or subjectively reportable signs and symptoms, and causes and effects of such inner experiences. Physicists recently have attempted to bridge the gap between the physical world and conscious experience through various quantum mechanical models.
Philosophy, metaphysics, and spiritual and religious studies delve into ontological, epistemological, and other fundamental questions, using more or less formal logic or a wide variety of opinions and postulates. In contrast, art forms, such as music, painting, and fictional writing, are outer expressions of inner experiences and creative thinking.
All theories, concepts, and creative work, whether scientific, psychological, philosophical, artistic, or spiritual are the manifestations of “consciousness at work.” While it might be challenging to study “consciousness” as such, in and by itself, it may be easier to study “consciousness at work”—its dynamics and its manifestations.
The postulates that can be made about consciousness as an abstract phenomenon or epiphenomenon are most amenable to investigation by scientifically analyzing and studying “consciousness at work.” The International Journal of Mathematics and Consciousness invites analyses of consciousness at work from various perspectives with a particular emphasis on mathematics.
Mathematics studies abstract forms, patterns, relationships, and transformations in an exact, systematic, and logical way. Forms and shapes such as circles and triangles are the subject of geometry and topology. Patterns of numbers and operations lead to algebra. Relationships that change in time form the basis of calculus. Mathematics also includes the study of mathematics itself. The study of mathematical reasoning is undertaken by logic. Even questions about the limits of the mathematical method and the nature of mathematical knowledge can be addressed using the methodology of mathematics.
Using mathematical models of experimental observations of the physical world makes it possible to give a purely abstract formulation of real-life phenomena.
Subjective mathematical reasoning, which is nevertheless entirely rigorous, applied to these models leads to new descriptions and predictions about the world.
Mathematics is fundamentally a method that finds patterns of orderliness in the subjective field of human intelligence and thought. Based on sets of axioms and postulates that are accepted without proof, mathematics gives a structure to the way our minds and intellects operate. It systematizes how individual human awareness perceives, discriminates, organizes, and expresses its own patterns of functioning. In our opinion, mathematics is certainly one of the most useful and scientifically manageable methods of studying the interface between consciousness and physical phenomena.
Mathematics is, in essence, a subjective discipline that nevertheless allows us to organize and make sense of the physical universe in which we exist. Though subjective, it is precise and effective in objective scientific explorations. It is a fundamental and indispensable tool of all sciences, and at the same time, it is an expression of abstract human awareness and intellect.
Mathematics and Consciousness
The International Journal of Mathematics and Consciousness takes the position that methods of mathematics and mathematical modeling provide especially appropriate tools for studying the interface between consciousness and physical phenomena.
Mathematics is a fundamental and indispensable tool of all sciences, while at the same time it is an expression of abstract human awareness and intellect. It is, therefore, the most precise scientifically reliable tool in the exploration of the dynamics of consciousness. It can be seen as the precise abstract representation of consciousness at work.
The ways in which human beings explore and express the experience of consciousness are as varied as nature itself. The following list contains some of the relevant sciences and other forms of human inquiry:
- Physics and chemistry (physical/quantum mechanical theories of consciousness at work)
- Biology and cognitive neuroscience (biological/electro-chemical/neural correlates of consciousness at work)
- Mathematics (abstract representation of consciousness at work)
- Psychology and cognitive sciences (objectification of subjective experiences of consciousness at work)
- Economics, particularly behavioral economics (production, distribution, and consumption of resources in consciousness at work)
- Philosophy (discursive representation of consciousness at work)
- Arts (subjective creative representation of consciousness at work)
- Religion (individual/group belief in the origins and dynamics of consciousness and consciousness at work)
- Spirituality (personal and totally subjective experience of consciousness at work)
- Study of pure consciousness itself (the field or screen “phenomenon” on which or by which all aspects of consciousness at work take place)
The International Journal of Mathematics and Consciousness maintains the position that of all such pursuits, mathematics, because of its rigor, depth, and effectiveness, is the most suitable discipline to study the interface between consciousness and the physical world. This Journal is devoted to exploring this interface using the rigorous approach of mathematics. We invite all mathematicians, scientists, and thinkers to submit papers using a mathematical approach to consciousness and “consciousness at work” in all its aspects.
— Tony Nader MD, PhD, MARR
Founder and Editor-in-Chief