The Living Mirror Theory of Consciousness

Journal of Consciousness Studies 27 (9-10):127-147 (2020)
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Abstract

An explanatory gap exists between physics and experience, raising the hard problem of consciousness: why are certain physical systems associated with an experience of an external world from an internal perspective? The living mirror theory holds that consciousness can be understood as arising from the computational interaction between a living system and its environment that is required for the organism's existence and survival. Maintaining a boundary that protects the system against destructive forces requires an interaction between the organism and its outside world that can be cast in terms of Bayesian inference. The living mirror theory holds that this computational interaction results in statistical properties of the material world that are, in the absence of life, only implicit, becoming explicit in informational terms. This is held to give rise to the beliefs in qualities that constitute consciousness. Consciousness is therefore a necessary feature of all living systems as, in a world governed by the second law of thermodynamics, survival depends on the construction of beliefs regarding the potentially destructive forces in the outside world. From this perspective, consciousness is shown to be not a property of the brain in particular but instead to be a necessary feature of the life process itself.

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