Preprint Article Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Meta-Dynamic Nature of Consciousness

Version 1 : Received: 10 March 2020 / Approved: 11 March 2020 / Online: 11 March 2020 (03:56:58 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 27 March 2020 / Approved: 29 March 2020 / Online: 29 March 2020 (11:56:10 CEST)
Version 3 : Received: 26 August 2020 / Approved: 27 August 2020 / Online: 27 August 2020 (08:27:28 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Barnden, J.A. The Meta-Dynamic Nature of Consciousness. Entropy 2020, 22, 1433. Barnden, J.A. The Meta-Dynamic Nature of Consciousness. Entropy 2020, 22, 1433.


How, if at all, consciousness can be part of the physical universe remains a baffling problem. This article outlines a new, developing philosophical theory of how it could do so, and offers a preliminary mathematical formulation of a physical grounding for key aspects of the theory. Because the philosophical side has radical elements, so does the physical-theory side. The philosophical side is radical, first, in proposing that the productivity or dynamism in the universe that many believe to be responsible for its systematic regularities is actually itself a physical constituent of the universe, along with more familiar entities. It also proposes that instances of dynamism can themselves take part in physical interactions with other entities, this interaction then being “meta-dynamism” (a type of metacausation). Secondly, the theory is radical, and unique, in arguing that consciousness is necessarily partly constituted of meta-dynamic auto-sensitivity, in other words it must react via meta-dynamism to its own dynamism, and also in conjecturing that some specific form of this sensitivity is sufficient for and indeed constitutive of consciousness. This leads to a proposal for how physical laws could be modified to accommodate meta-dynamism, via the radical step of including elements that explicitly refer to dynamism itself.


consciousness; pre-reflective self-consciousness; physicalism; dynamism; causal productivity; meta-causation


Physical Sciences, Other

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 29 March 2020
Commenter: John Barnden
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: In the Discussion section (section 5), the original subsections 5.5 and 5.6 have combined into one subsection, 5.5, and the remaining subsections reordered. In the new subsection 5.5, improved and additional detail is inlcuded.

Minor clarifications have been made at various other places in the paper.
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