J. Randall Murphy
I must agree with you wholeheartedly. We have been using the word "fundamental" as a convenience term, comparing it to the idea of the fundamental forces of nature in physics. Perhaps we should be using it more as a compass point than a requirement. I'm also going to backpedal on the analogy between gravitation and consciousness. While it works nicely for a passive system, e.g. someone just beholding the world around them, it doesn't explain our active role in creating experiences, such as visualizing a vivid memory. In those cases there is no external field we are wandering through. It is an internally generated experience that makes use of our brain's memory.Fundamental?
If we say that magnetism is fundamental we are saying what?... It cannot be reduced... it did not emerge...? I am not convinced that physicists would say either to be the case.
I find it improbable that at t=0 magnetism existed along with the other 'fundamental forces'. More likely that fundamental forces emerged from the primordial soup (a physicist might correct me). The point is, 'fundamental' as a concept is not helpful to philosophical discourse. And so arguing that consciousness is fundamental requires further qualification if it is to mean anything.
History also suggests that there is no such thing as a non-reductive thing. There are merely limits to our understanding.
Maybe if we return to the pile of bricks analogy we can find some other path forward:
- Let's assume a randomly organized number of bricks represents randomly organized quanta of consciousness
- Each quanta remains fundamental, but the situation has no noticeable effect.
- However an organized collection of bricks forms a building. So suddenly we have this "something extra" that wasn't there before.
- Let's say this "something extra" ( the building ) represents consciousness as we experience it.
- Then the structure remains fundamental in the sense that it is not reducible to something other than consciousness.
- But no matter haw closely we look at an individual brick, we will not see the building.