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Calculating the Boundaries of Consciousness in General Resonance Theory

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When physical structures resonate in proximity to each other they will under certain circumstances 'sync up' in a shared resonance frequency. This is the phenomenon of spontaneous selforganization. General resonance theory (GRT), a theory of consciousness developed by Hunt and Schooler, suggests that consciousness is a product of various shared resonance frequencies at different physical scales. I suggest a heuristic for calculating the boundaries and resulting capacity for phenomenal consciousness in such resonating structures. Shared resonance results in phase transitions in the speed and bandwidth of information exchange and thus richer and more complex consciousness. This approach is a solution to the 'combination problem' and 'boundary problem' of consciousness. The proposed mathematical heuristic is a practical approach for identifying potential conscious structures and the spatial and temporal boundaries of such structures over time, and also for calculating the capacity for phenomenal consciousness of any putative conscious entity. The slowest-frequency shared resonance -- the 'slowest common denominator'-- is the limiting factor for the spatial extent of any macro-consciousness. Various synchrony indexes are discussed. I describe some limitations of the proposed framework, and how it compares to Tononi's integrated information theory. IIT's constellation- qualia characterization framework is compatible with GRT and may be a useful tool in conjunction with GRT's quantification framework.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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