Systems-bound and Systems-independent Consciousness
Complex Inter-phase in between: From Narrative to Science
*A K Mukhopadhyay
Professor and Head, Laboratory Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
Submission: July 22, 2016; Published: September 25, 2016
*Corresponding author: A K Mukhopadhyay, Professor and Head, Laboratory Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India, Tel:9999400332; Emailmukhoak1953@gmail.com
How to cite this article: A K Mukhopadhyay. Systems-bound and Systems-independent Consciousness Complex Inter-phase in between: From Narrative to Science. Psychol Behav Sci Int J. 2016 1(3). DOI: 10.19080/PBSIJ.2016.01.555562
Consciousness is at the core of behavior of live-systems. Since consciousness is described to be both inside and outside systems, a model of the inter-phase required for communication between systems-bound consciousness and systems-independent consciousness has been created identifying its constituents, their operations and interactive processes. The paper also shows the way by which mind, ‘life’, self and consciousness could be brought within the umbrella of systems science. The time frame for transformation of the narrative to science has also been discussed.
Keywords: Hard problem; Systems-bound and Systems-independent consciousness; Inter-phase
Abbreviations: CEO: Chief Executive Officer; BOB: Bucket of Bugs; IIT: Integrated Information Theory; OR: Orchestrated Reduction
Consciousness is at the core of behavior and psychology. However, the idea and concept of consciousness is so variable across the cultures that it is difficult to bring consciousness within the purview of science. For the East, consciousness is homogenous, universal and present both within and outside the systems. In the context of systems-independent consciousness, there is use of terms like cosmic consciousness, nature-consciousness, universal consciousness, trans-universal consciousness, non-dual consciousness etc. For the western science, consciousness is heterogeneous, granular and confined to the live-systems like biological cell (c.f., cellular cognition) and all multicellular organisms including us. Consciousness not confined to any systems is difficult to study in science. Two systems, which can be studied in the context of consciousness, are biological cell and systems brain. Systems biology is said to consist of metabolome, proteome, genome and epigenome. In the live systems, biochemistry, biophysics and bioinformatics have been brought within the ambit of systems science but not the psychology and consciousness. One of the objectives of this paper is to bring consciousness and psychology within the purview of systems science in systematic connection with systems bioinformatics. Having accepted both eastern and western view on consciousness it becomes imperative to describe the
inter-phase, which is juxtaposed between systems-bound and systems-independent consciousness. This is second objective of this conceptual theoretical paper. In this paper we are on the way to construct a model, which would accomplish both the stated objectives.
Even the behavioral response of any unicellular systems reflects closely the response of consciousness. Cell’s response is ideology-neutral, solution-centric and holistic. It has intelligence, it works on options and involving all sub cellular parts in the decision-making process in a holistic manner chooses the best. The aim of response is to find out a solution for the problem it is in. The behavior from a brain-confined consciousness is more complex. In the context of the human being, consciousness has been “concentrated” within and around the organ brain. The brain is not merely a form of matter! It is a live-matter! The brain consists of hundred billion neurons and almost similar number of glial cells. Neurons and glial cells individually are conscious live systems and therefore, constitute the subsystems of the brain. The brain is more like a bucket of bugs (BOB) than a signal circuitry of a computer.
According to the most revered eastern spiritual text
(Upanishad), however, the primal essence (read consciousness),
which drives 1011 neurons and almost similar number of
glial cells within the brain, is also the driver of 1011 stars in a
galaxy and 1011 galaxies of the universe. Consciousness within
the systems operates from three positions; as systems-bound
ground consciousness, as ‘self’, the chief executive officer (CEO)
for the systems, and as consciousness distributed over its subsystems
as informational molecules at the level of the classical
physics, or as “be-able” sub-atomic quantum particles at the
level of the quantum physics. Quantum potential, said to be an
information reservoir , which is everywhere, undiminished
with distance and guides particles what trajectory to follow
might also be representative of distributed consciousness at
microscopic physical level both within and outside the confined
systems. Consciousness as ground should not be considered
merely a metaphor since such a start will make the science of/
for consciousness a pseudoscience. Consciousness acts as the
ground without any background. It is not an inert ground but a
participating ground. On its foreground there are operators and
operations. Some are non-observable; others are observable at
the macroscopic physical sensory plane.
In the context of systems-bound consciousness of the brain we
describe it as contents of consciousness, states of consciousness,
levels of consciousness, developmental lines of consciousness
and planes of consciousness . Examples of contents of
consciousness are memory, thoughts etc., which bring granularity
in consciousness. There are three basic states of consciousness
such as wakefulness, dream sleep and dreamless sleep, which
every animal go through. There are various pathological states
of the consciousness such as coma, vegetative state, minimally
conscious state etc. There are psychedelically altered states of
consciousness induced by LSD and marijuana etc. The levels
of being-consciousness could be described as brainstem being,
limbic being and cortical being etc. Three developmental lines
of consciousness follow cognitive, psychomotor and affective
aspects of consciousness. Besides, there are various planes of
consciousness; subconscious, conscious and super-conscious,
which could be ‘higher’ or spiritual.
Inside the brain there is specific segregation of neurons
as various nuclei are disposed vertically and horizontally. P. D.
MacLean  described the triune character of the brain where
consciousness has behaviorally surfaced in the reptilian brain as
brain stem consciousness, in paleo-mammalian brain as limbic
system consciousness and in neo-mammalian brain as cortical
consciousness. We can ask what is next in evolution after cortical
Consciousness within the systems like unicellular organism
or within a brain is separated from and connected with systems systemsindependent
consciousness by an interface, which is layered.
The two communicate through a complex inter-phasing system,
which is sandwiched in between. The phase-transition from
systems-independent consciousness to systems-confined
consciousness and vice-versa occur through this inter-phasing
The interface between brain-bound consciousness and
the systems-independent consciousness has been named
“supracortical consciousness . This was done on the basis
of three enduring queries by the author. When almost all
of the dendrites of cerebral cortex gather information from
infracortical location of neuraxis why the apical dendrites of
the pyramidal neurons in the cerebral cortex are seen to go
upwards? The dendrites look up to receive what? What are
the functions of numerous non-synaptic spines on such apical
dendrites? What is the function of dentritic matting at the top
of the cerebral cortex? Does it serve as antennae for the brain to
receive information/signal from the supracortical domain? The
question how the brain-confined consciousness and the brainindependent
consciousness execute their phase transition in
either way leads us for investigating this inter-phasing system,
which works beyond the measurable realm of physical science.
There are efforts in science to construct this inter-phase but
it is being done excluding mind and life. Most of the recently
developed theories on consciousness take direct vertical leap
from matter to information and next from information to
consciousness. as if nothing exists in between information and
consciousness Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT)
, Tegmark’s perceptronium, where consciousness is a state
of matter and Chalmer’s non-reductive information in hard
problem  do not consider any operation of mind, or ‘life’
in the intervening terrain, although Tegmark invokes ‘self’-
like properties in his conceptual leap from computronium
to Perceptronium. Perceptronium has distinct information
processing abilities. Penrose and Hameroff’s Orchestrated
Reduction (OR) reduces consciousness directly into space and
time, into space-time geometry, into frequency of vibration of
micro tubular proteins . Space per unit Time, i.e., frequency
or vibration is observable in the sensory domain. The theory
thus misses the terrain between sensation and consciousness.
Thus, the effort of inter-phasing in all such theories remains
incomplete, often lop-sided and without any path-breaking
The inter-phasing system, as proposed in this paper, is not
‘simple’. It is not made up of any known energy, force, fields or
signals. It appears complex because of several operators and
operations within it, which are not observable, not visible in
MRI or PET scan, although realizable by experience. We need
equipments such as mind-scanner, ‘life’-scanner and ‘Self’
-scanner for any such recording !
In this paper, at this stage we would make a narrative by a
series of coherent statements (i) on the irreducible constituents
of the inter-phase; (ii) on specific characteristics of the operation
as required for their identification and understanding; (iii) on
the sensitivity of various operations. Having done this we would
construct a model of this inter-phasing system. Finally, we
would make focused research hypotheses on the representatives
of these operations at the molecular level of a cell or at the
neurotransmitter level of the brain.
Two constituents of this interface are easy to identify. One
is consciousness itself and the other is information. The organ
of communication between two conscious systems is mind, the
third constituent of the inter-phase. Inter-phasing has been
happening within live-systems. Therefore, somehow, somewhere
sometime during inter-phasing process, ‘life’ would come into
the scenario. It is natural that the CEO of the system, the self,
would be seriously involved in this inter-phasing process.
Information, mind, life, self and consciousness are therefore five
irreducible constituents of these inter-phase systems. There is
organization by mind, organization by self, organization by ‘life’
and organization by consciousness in the inter-phasing systems
It is difficult to identify all operators as ontological entity.
However, it is easier to characterize the specifics of operation(s).
Operation of mind could be specified by conversion of signal
into information and information into signal. There are three
interrelated properties, which characterize operation of ‘life’.
Systems, which can manage uncertainty, can harness dark energy
and has the ability for holistic symmetry sensing has been using
the operations of ‘life’. Uncertainty management by life-systems
indicates its access to new information. Access to mechanism
of harnessing dark energy explains life’s uncoupled action,
spontaneity in apparent absence of any known laws, negentropy
and the ability to transform information into knowledge. Holistic
symmetry sensing for the whole systems is a unique property of
‘life’ required for its very survival, development and fulfillment
within its porous boundary and available plasticity of logistic.
Self’s operation is identified by its offer to mind the program
for information processing and information formatting, and
by the operation that analyzes and judges the performance of
the subsystems, logic modules and the sensors. Operation of
consciousness is recognized by cognition, emotion (feelings)
and ‘will’. To will is the prerogative of consciousness and of no
one or nothing else. In the physical plane, Einstein’s constant
excludes the possibility of simultaneity of events, Planck’s
constant excludes the possibility of continuity of events and
entropy barrier excludes the possibility of identity of events.
The outcome of consciousness’s operation is observed in the
behavioral domain as simultaneity, continuity and identity of several events.
Operations could also be understood when the operators
become conspicuous by their absence. Where there is no mind,
there is no thought. In absence of self there is no experience for
the systems. No ‘life’ means a totally ineffective consciousness
for expression in the sensory domain! Without presence of a
functioning consciousness there is neither wisdom nor will!
The sensitivity of each of these operations is different but
definite. Mind is sensitive to information. Self is sensitive to
phenomenon. ‘Life’ is sensitive to alteration of holistic symmetry
of the systems. Consciousness is sensitive to, and responds only
when other constituent admits its inability to act or perform,
surrender its properties to consciousness and waits actively for
the final call from consciousness. When consciousness fails to
generate new ideas and infuse motivation to the surrendered
operator for the systems to continue, the system is no longer
On the canvas of the ground consciousness, operations of
mind, life and self run autonomously. They constitute the fabrics
on the canvas. What we see as signaling network is embroidery
over this fabrics. None of these operations could be reduced or
outsourced from the systems.
The operations have been offered autonomy since they
have achieved the desirable level of perfection and are in
harmony with, and never at cross with the ‘concern’, ‘intention’
and perfection of the systems. Although autonomous, there is
hierarchical system of reporting. Mind reports to and feeds back
self. Self feeds forwards mind. Self reports to and feeds back
systems-independent consciousness. Systems-independent
consciousness, in turn, feeds forward self. Life and self maintain
a tangled hierarchy and feed forward and feedback each other
instantaneously. ‘Life’ offers strength to mind. ‘Life’, because
of its access to new information, can alter the logic modules in
the global sensor of self. ‘Life’ does not report to self or mind.
Life directly reports to and feeds back the system-independent
consciousness. When ‘life’ finds any incorrigible note of
discordance on the ground, it switches on the programmed
systems death (apoptosis).
In the paragraph below, we present a model (Figure 1) of this
inter-phase accommodating almost all of what has been said. In
the model as shown in the figure, operators are shown within
the circles. A bowl at the top, which is open to endlessness,
represents consciousness. There are three important triangles.
Mind handles information. The source of any new information
is Life. Information, Mind and Life make a triangularly related
operational nugget out of which emerges the objective natural
‘world’. Mind, Memory and Self make another triangular
operational nugget, emerging out of which is Intelligence with
a subjective world of ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’. There is generation of owner ship and‘ego’-sense.
At the top, Self, Life and Consciousness are triangulated
operationally and the emergent property is awakening of the
systems from slumber and sleep, and development of awareness
of the contents of consciousness. The price of freedom is eternal
awakened state. The triangular relationship between operation
of Self, Life and Mind also exists (not shown in the Figure) and is
very important for their mutual integrated cooperation in running
the systems. Mind has a direct connection with consciousness.
Similarly, direct connection with consciousness is there for Life
and Self as well. None of Consciousness, Life and Self has direct
connection with matter. All three are connected with the matter
through Mind. Mind is the final common pathway for connecting
the non-observable operations with the observable phenomena
at the quantum and classical nests of nature where there are
vibrations, space, time, signals etc. The matter is represented
by the rectangle at the bottom. Informational molecules at the
classical physics level and ‘be-able’ quantum particles serve as
vehicle of distributed consciousness.
The inter-phase appears to be an ensemble of apparently
contradictory properties, but has been made possible because
of extraordinary relationship of its irreducible autonomous
constituents. The processes within this inter-phasing system are
multilayered, interlaced, labyrinthine, hierarchically nested. The
processes are non-linear and unstable but are happening on the
ground of absolutely stable consciousness.
However, like linear process, there is an end-point and that
is this consciousness. The processes are neither random nor
stochastic, although determined. There are wide fluctuations
and oscillations with critical feedback instability maintained
spontaneously by self-organization, which make those resemble
chaos but unlike chaotic process the outcome is predictable
once one knows the principles of the operations. The operations
are proposed to work within nature beyond Planck’s scale but
connected to nature within Planck’s scale.
Bottom-up, the model shows how signal at the physical
level is in connection with the domain of consciousness at
awakened state with contents and wisdom. Top-down, the model
shows how will of consciousness is brought down to classical Newtonian wheel. Thus, it accomplishes the first objective of
the paper to bring consciousness within the fold of systems
science. When we recognize this inter-phase itself as systems,
the model depicts how consciousness distributed within the
systems communicates with signals emanating from systemindependent
consciousness! Here we accomplish the second
objective of the paper.
The issues in science for consciousness could be summarized
in two interrogative sentences. Bottom-up, how can one link
signal with wisdom? Top-down, how free will of consciousness
get hold of Newtonian wheel at the classical sensory level? To
put it simply, signal to wisdom and wisdom to signal is one way
of addressing the issue. The other way of addressing the issue is
to investigate how mechanics of consciousness is translated into
Newtonian mechanics? With this model, a way has been shown
to solve the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness research!
How does one examine and investigate this inter-phase
further? Verification is possible within the cell systems. Research
hypothesis is easy to build up by focused understanding on the
molecular representation of the operations within the cell [9,10].
For example, there is a hypothesis that mind is represented at
the molecular level by protein of Ca++ ion channel. As supportive
evidence one can state, bacteria in a community communicate
with each other through ion channels  and resolve stress.
When an unconscious patient starts passing urine on the bed
his sphincter control (Ca++ ion channel) is lost. When a two or
three year old child develops sphincter control we say he has
developed his first mind control mechanism.
As extension of the above hypothesis, the self is represented
at molecular level by proteins of ion-pumps and MHC-I Molecules.
The whole immune system works on the basis of self/non-self
distinction, which is done through MHC-I molecules. Proteins
gluing microtubules with cell membrane is hypothesized to
represent ‘life’, and specific membrane potential protein of the
cell represents consciousness at the molecular level. In the case
of organ-brain, neurotransmitters could be classified on the
basis of their representation of operation of self, life, mind and
consciousness. Another model for exploration of the proposition
further could be the biohybrid robots with stem cells. This could
be a humble beginning for consciousness-centered development
of a new medical discipline.
To make this narrative a part of systems science is an
ambitious project. Generally, science takes a vertical leap every
hundred year. The first great leap is expected in this century
to unravel the mechanism of transformation of signal into
information and vice versa by the operation of mind or mind-like
structure and process in nature. As a byproduct, in horizontal
expansion of science we will get more into science of mind and information with a glimpse of dark matter and dark energy,
perhaps the fundamental ingredients of all known source of
energy. The second expected vertical leap would be on how
information is transformed into knowledge and vice versa. The
byproduct of this leap would be seen horizontally when we gain
access to dark energy, harness it and use it in the visible material
plane. This is expected to happen by unraveling the complex
relationship between ‘life’, gravity, dark matter and dark energy,
Higgs Boson and neutrinos. The leap may happen anytime in
the twenty second century. The third expected vertical leap, as
envisaged by the author is likely to be in twenty third century on
how knowledge is crystallized into wisdom–which presupposes
the development of a science of consciousness, with deciphering
the mechanism of how living systems can redefine, rediscover
and reinvent them?
The project is thus spanned over three centuries Present
twenty first century may see the transition of quantum
holography into information holography. The full-fledged
development of the science of ‘life’ is expected to happen in
twenty second century. It is twenty third century when the
science of consciousness is expected to percolate down into the
mass culture of humanity. In this sense we all, who have been
working today for developing a science for consciousness, are
really working for three centuries ahead.
My heartfelt thanks is for Mr. R. D Pandey for being with me
when I first conceived the idea and decided to write the first
draft of the manuscript. Dr. Millard Wohl, nuclear scientist, a
member of the Quantrek team of Late Edger Mitchell has done
pre-submission review of the paper. My gratitude flows for him.
The author has shared and discussed the contents of the articles with Dr. Sudhanshu Shekhar, MD and Dr. Samanyoya Gochhait
MD, senor resident doctors of the dept. I also acknowledge
the unknown reviewer for valuable suggestions on the paper
to make the concepts more clear and make the paper more
readable. Thanks to Pooja Taneja for secretarial assistance.