Entangling Conscious Agents, Donald Hoffman

Donald Hoffman is a cognitive psychologist who argues for a formal theory of consciousness—the theory of “conscious agents”—that takes consciousness to be fundamental, rather than derivative from objects in space-time. This lecture begins by establishing that evolution for human perception lead to usefulness rather than for verification of absolute truths. Just as the perceptually “truthful” concepts of flat earth or geocentric universe were revealed to be fiction, the notion that consciousness arise from materialistic interaction (such as the synapses in the brain) is argued to be false. Instead, Hoffman argues that consciousness comes before biological interaction. This method of thinking tackles the issue of combinatory consciousness as a form of an entanglement in the quantum physic sense (the finding that certain particles behave as a single unified system even when they’re separated by such immense distances suggests the universe functions as a fundamental whole rather than a collection of discrete parts). To further explain entanglement of consciousness, Hoffman shows how a visual paradox of a necker cube is a digram for a basic form of entanglement that only exists due to our own “faulty” perceptual and visual interface. Hoffman provides mathematically explained panpsychist proofs for how consciousness agents interact with each other through interface.

If we see that architecture (both built and in images) is a form of consciousness interface, the act of making it “correct” in terms of styles or materials is revealed to be as fruitless as arguing that the earth is flat. Architecture, once cognizant of panpsychist concepts can become a new interface by proposing novel ways in which space and time interact with individualized consciousness. This absence of a single truth is a better expression of reality than a materialist world view. One way of doing this would be to examine the entanglement issue (such as a simultaneous duality of a necker cube) as a formal basis in which individualized perception of a form/space can have multiplicities of meaning and emotional effects that can be different, or even contradictory. If architecture were designed this way, it becomes a conscious agent in which panpsychist truth is revealed by making entanglement visible to the subjects through interface. It could be argued that unbuilt images of a project have the same agency as would a built project if the goal is to communicate universal complexity through visual means.