Are virtual photons the elementary carriers of consciousness?
Based on neurobiological data, modern concepts of self-organization and a careful rationale, the hypothesis is put forward that the fleeting, highly ordered patterns of electric and/or magnetic fields, generated by assemblies of dendritic trees of specialized neuronal networks, should be thought of as the end-product of chaotic, dynamically governed self-organization. Such patterns encode for subjective (conscious) experiences such as pain and pleasure, or perceiving colours. Because by quantum mechanical definition virtual photons are the theoretical constituents of electric and magnetic fields, the former hypothesis can be re-formulated as follows: it is the highly ordered patterns of virtual photons that encode for subjective (conscious) experiences. Arguments are then given that consciousness did not emerge during evolution only after neuronal networks had been formed able to generate electric and/or magnetic fields of sufficient complexity but, rather, that subjectivity already existed in a very elementary form as a fundamental property of the omnipresent virtual photons, i.e., of matter. The contribution of neuronal networks to consciousness was to generate highly ordered patterns of germs of subjectivity (virtual photons), so allowing complex subjective (conscious) experiences. Due to the omnipresence of virtual photons, it follows finally that the whole universe must be imbued with subjectivity. An experimental strategy is proposed to test the hypothesis.