The Science of Consciousness - Integrated Information Theory (IIT)


FOTCM Member
Very interesting points, Sasa and obyvatel. I found myself nodding in agreement about the hazards issue. It jogged my memory. I had written a book review for Bennets Hazard many years ago. I reread the G's 5 Being Strivings post and you've really laid out the essence of why hazard MUST be part of the fabric of existence.

Here's the book review I wrote:,11829.msg84489.html#msg84489

SeekinTruth said:
Hazard: The Risk of Realization by J.G. Bennett

I recently read this book and found it fascinating and full of insight. It is part of The Dramatic Universe Series and is compiled by A.G.E. Blake from Bennett’s unpublished writings and talks.

Originally published in 1976, the edition I read was published in 1991 with added material: The Prologue and Forewords, Appendix 4, the bibliography of J.G. Bennett, and the Index.


Editor’s Prologue
First Foreword by A.G.E. Blake
Second Foreword by A.G.E. Blake

1. Beliefs: Ancient and Modern
2. The Moment of Choice
3. The Uncertainty of Virtue
4. Living Toward the Center
5. Risk into History
6. The Universe and God
Part 1. Objective Reality
Part 2 Subjective Reality
Part 3 Divine Reality

1. Existence
2. Will
3. Transformation
4. Uncertainty in Scientific Thought

Bibliography of J.G. Bennett

Quote before First Foreword:
"If man is not a pawn in the hands of an omnipotent and omniscient chess player, then he may be something much more significant: a being upon whom rests real responsibility for taking his own part in the universal task." ~ J.G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe Vol. 1, The Foundation of Natural Philosophy : p. 20.

First Foreword: (I’ll include it because it’s so short and a good summary)
This is a book about the risk of realization. It does not tell you how to succeed but encourages you to see that the chance of failure is what makes things real. Whether you are playing a game or trying to improve yourself, the risk involved is the sacrifice you make to be "in the game." It is in conditions of hazard that you can become intelligent. All the things we claim to value, such as friendship, beauty, and love, are impossible without hazard.

This is so because the universe is so. It is no mere human aberration, and there is no perfect state that becomes free of this interplay of uncertainty and will. It is God who takes the greatest risks.

The idea does not require much explanation because everyone understands that it is true. It is very strange, therefore, that hardly anyone has noticed this. J.G. Bennett did notice it and spent a great deal of his life pointing it out to people.

Here are some of the things that he said about hazard. We have put in a long Foreword for those who like a lot of references and tie-ins with other thinkers. Those who do not like that sort of thing can skip it and go straight to the first chapter.

The thing about hazard is that it is so obvious, you will kick yourself. ~ A.G.E. Blake

Quote before Second Foreword:
"A situation is dramatic when there is a need accompanied by the uncertainty as to whether it will be satisfied. The greater the need and the more impressive the scale on which it is experienced, the greater is the dramatic content. When we contemplate the destiny of the galaxy, we find a dramatic situation upon so vast a scale that we can scarcely feel its significance. We may picture to ourselves an ant heap disturbed when the Cross was planted upon the field of Calvary and ask if the ants could understand the drama of the Crucifixion. The relationship of the ant to the Crucifixion is many million times closer in the scale of magnitude than our place in the destiny of the galaxy. Nevertheless, the role of individual being is such that we are given the possibility of contemplating not only the galaxy but the whole of existence in which it is but an atom. We must either turn aside from this contemplation with no hope of understanding the universe or believe that we are not alone.

"Though immeasurably removed in scale and in cosmic significance, man and the galaxy are joined by the bond of suffering and compassion." ~ J.G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe [Unpublished version, 1952]: From Chapter 23, "The Role of Individuality."

Quote before Chapter 1:
"No one who has observed human affairs and human history can doubt that uncertainty and hazard are as real as order and completeness. No account of man and his world would be worth much that did not give full weight to the reality of uncertainty, and show the way beyond it." ~ J.G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe. Vol. 3, Man and His Nature: p. 64.

From the beginning of Chapter 1 – Beliefs: Ancient and Modern
Few people who have read my book, The Dramatic Universe, have seen that the suggestion that there is a fundamental uncertainty in the very existence of the universe, including ourselves, is entirely revolutionary and undermines beliefs that have been taken for granted equally by religious and scientific people. As the years go by, I become more and more convinced that the doctrine of universal hazard must, before long, replace our belief in absolutes of any kind. That is why I have decided to speak about this doctrine at this particular stage of my life. [In 1967, Bennett was 70 years old.]

I do not believe that the doctrine of hazard is entirely new; there is plenty of evidence that its importance was understood and grasped thousands of years ago. It has since been lost, and only now is it due to reenter human thought as a guiding principle in understanding what the world is all about. For this reason, I propose to start by going back about 4,700 years, that is, to about 2800 B.C., when the Sumerian culture was at its peak. This was an extraordinary period in human history. Some of you may have seen in the museum in Baghdad examples of the games that were played by the Sumerians at the height of the glory of Sumer and Akkad. One of the games they played will introduce my theme.

Why should we start with a game? Nowadays, games are devised in any old way just to amuse people or give them opportunities for trying their skills, but in ancient times, games had a quite different role: They were invented by specialists to express and preserve certain knowledge. These specialists knew that people would continue to play a good game – and, in fact subsequent history has proved how farsighted were those inventors of games in the remote past. Games that were invented in Sumerian times – and many of our modern games indeed have their origin as far back as that – have preserved certain insights that were subsequently lost.

The game that I am going to talk about is the game we call backgammon, which in the Middle East is called "tric-trac." This game consists of moving a number of disks of wood or ivory from a starting point to a goal and depends upon finding a hole into which it is possible to move. The player is not permitted to move at will into the available holes; this is left to the arbitration of the dice, which in Sumerian times stood for the chance that enters into every natural process. This game is really a representation of a cosmic doctrine that has been lost, rediscovered, and lost again. It was lost in the nineteenth century and is being rediscovered in the twentieth century. The principle of the game of backgammon is that one has a certain path to traverse, and one traverses this path by moving from available hole to available hole, however, one does so under the control of an uncertain factor introduced by the throw of dice.

The word "die" in the old Akkadian language was zar, which was retained, and appears in Arabic and Turkish with the prefix al, that is the definite article "the." It became azzar, which simply means "the die." When, during the Crusades, the French picked up this game (learning to play it during the siege of one of the cities of Syria), they called the game by the name the Saracens used, "azzar." Thus, the word became "azar" in the Spanish language; it came into our Enlgish language as the word "hazard." I have chosen the word "hazard" for my title partly for this historical reason and also as a reminder of the way in which this knowledge about the place of hazard in our lives has been handed down for thousands of years.

This fundamental knowledge disappears from time to time because there is something in man that is both terribly attracted by hazard and at the same time terrified of it. We are driven to seek ways of denying the reality of hazard and of looking beyond chance to something that is free from chance. Man has always tended to project onto his conceptions of God the notion of a being that is beyond hazard, a supreme power that is secure from the chance and the uncertainty that we see in this world. Conversely, when people have seen the evidence that there is nothing exempt from hazard, they have been led to deny the god who was to offer them a safe refuge from hazard. To identify God with safety, though, is not necessary for our religious sense, and this is one of the important ideas I will discuss. We need not say more about it at this point except to note that it is vital to realize that we have this ambiguous attitude toward hazard and we are very ready to run after anything that proclaims certainty – just as they ran in the nineteenth century after the certainty that appeared to be offered by the laws of nature. [...]

Quote before Chapter 2 The Moment of Choice:
"The Law of Hazard tells us that any process directed toward a definite aim is bound to be deflected by reactions it produces, and if these deflections are not compensated, the process will either come to a stop or change direction so completely as to 'become its own opposite.' It also tells us how the compensation can be achieved. This is basically by the cooperation of processes of independent origin.

"Timing is critical. The impact of the world must not come too soon or too late and it must not be too weak or too strong. The rightly timed impact is what Gurdjieff called a 'shock,' and he formulated the Law of Hazard in terms of a musical octave that goes by tones and semitones from do to do. The semitones at mi-fa and si-do correspond to the points at which other processes must make their impact. Gurdjieff went so far as to call this the 'first primordial cosmic law.'" ~ J.G. Bennett, Transformation: pp. 87-88.

Quote before Chapter 3 The Uncertainty of Virtue:
"I have seen again and again how close people have been to a wonderful step forward and have missed their chance. Often these very people have been convinced that they were ready to make any 'reasonable sacrifice' to make a real step forward and yet could not see that what was required of them was not only reasonable but obviously necessary for their own good." ~ J.G. Bennett, Transformation: pp. 123-124.

Quote before Chapter 4 Living Toward the Center:
"Our ordinary 'understanding' takes hazard as something to be avoided by care and foresight. In reality, it is overcome only by taking more risks. Help seldom consists in making things easier but rather in creating what seem to be gratuitous and even absurd difficulties.
... Only the interaction of conflicting processes can break the vicious circle of repeating what is no longer serving any purpose. At the fourth stage, everything is new and unrehearsed and the 'creation of conditions' is a special art which no one can master without the help of a very high energy." ~ J.G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe. Vol. 4, History: p. 59.

Quote before Chapter 5 Risk into History:
"We are coming to know a world that is neither a clockwork mechanism wound up ab initio to work out a predetermined program nor a blind, meaningless chaos that, by sheer chance happens to have thrown up complex physicochemical structures with capacity for thought and feeling. It is a world that is through and through dramatic, and therefore through and through interesting. There can have been few moments on this earth more dramatic and interesting than the offering of Pandora’s gift of creativity." ~ J.G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe. Vol. 4, History: p. 259.

Quote before Chapter 6 The Universe and God:
"The true place where we can begin to be aware of the presence of God is in the center of the self-hood. The realization of one’s own nothingness, makes possible [a grace] that is experienced as a state of beatitude in which tensions of existence are, for the moment, transformed into the realization of essence.

"It is probably true that without hazard there could be no experience of the presence of God – for faith is the work of the reconciling impulse in the core of man’s three-fold nature that enables the impossible to become possible. Since existence is spiritualized by faith, hazard must be accepted as a fundamental necessity of existence – as the very condition of [the transformation of existence.] Hazard is the condition of faith and, when we apprehend it rightly, this makes it also the precursor of freedom. It is through hazard that death and resurrection are made possible. The self-hood, by accepting the hazards of the essence, permits the birth in its own center of [an independent and complete will.]" ~ J.G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe, Vol. 2, The Foundations of Moral Philosophy: p. 329.

From the Back Cover:
Hazard and the Art of Living
"All opening is a hazard. You arrive at a crossroad. If you can see which way, if it is clearly labeled, that the road on the left is the one that leads to your destination, then choosing that way is not an opportunity. If the way is not labeled at this crossroad – and in life our ways are not labeled – then when we come to the crossroad, there is an uncertainty and a suspense and, with that, an opportunity. How to recognize it? This is really the art of living." ~ J.G. Bennett

"Bennett’s aim in talks like these is to create an image in the mind, in the light of which we can learn to understand our experience. He is concerned with understanding, and not just with being right. It is in this spirit that these talks should be read." ~ P.H. Bortoft Author of Goethe’s Scientific Consciousness

All in all it was a very interesting read. It’s only 112 pages including Notes to the (Second) Foreword and Editor’s Notes to Appendix 4 (and excluding the bibliography and index), so it is also very concise. It is full of fascinating insights into the way Creation works. He touches with real power and compactness on the nature of a Free Will Universe and how there must be a definite additional "dimension" through which Choice is effected. Bennett is very well versed with scientific and mathematical concepts, and past and (at that time) present prevailing scientific thought and problems. (From the Notes to the Second Foreword: Note 7. Bennett, who was related to and an admirer of the mathematician Arthur Cayley, produced [in 1918] a "calculus of imaginary rotations" that was encouragingly received by Professor Hobson at Cambridge University in England. This was developed years later, with the help of the physicists Thring and Brown, into a scheme for a five dimensional metric of space, time and "eternity" and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in the 1950’s. At present, on of Bennett’s pupils, K.W. Pledge, is working on this geometry and its extension into six dimensions.)

The only mild criticism I have is that he seems in certain questions (of the current limits of SCIENTIFIC understanding of the workings of the universe – especially in Chapter 6: The Universe and God and the Appendixes and the relationship of causality, ideas of determinism and free will, etc.) to limit the approach to a strictly conventional physical explanation of WHAT IS and thus falls short of the mark of getting a clearer picture of the dramatic and wonderful universe. This even though he was thoroughly familiar with Gurdjieff’s cosmic ecology concept and System of (7) Cosmoses (and its relation to the Rays of Creation) which I would have thought Bennett, in conjunction with his scientific knowledge, would have emphasized more to come much closer to having a clearer scientific picture of the universe. In my humble opinion (admittedly too ignorant for my own comfort) anything that will get us closer to a "Unified Field Theory" must take into account the 7 levels of density and consciousness / awareness explained by the C’s. It seems to me that there will never be a full theory of how the Universe works without this idea that we use here as our working hypothesis that there are 3 physical densities and 3 ethereal ones and an intermediate one that is a mixture of the two, physical and ethereal – variable physicality – a sort of transition point between the physical and the strictly ethereal; added to the 7 densities, the two paths of STS and STO and their interactions seems to be the key to a full picture of the Macro-Cosmos containing everything in existence, or so I think.

If you found some of what I included interesting you may want to read this book if you can fit it in.

I really like the example of backgammon in the book, as "the rolling of the dice" and being able to move only where possible really encapsulate what's being illustrated.


FOTCM Member
obyvatel said:
What I find intriguing is that though we seem to understand quite a bit about matter (1D) and its interactions in its aggregate form, we are quite in the dark about how smaller units of matter behave. Statistical physics can do a good job in explaining a lot of matter to matter interactions. However, its accurate predictions refer to an ensemble - a large number of particles/molecules etc. The fate of individual particles and molecules is not described by statistical physics. Enter quantum mechanics and uncertainty. Fundamentally, we do not know how one electron exists and interacts with its environment in all its details.

I've puzzling about the same aspects too. Quantum phenomena seem to be a limit to our experience of 1D reality from the viewpoint of 3D interpretation, which is theoretically deterministic and predictable if we limit ourselves to classical physics (in which there is no ontological limit for the extraction of information). In the quantum realm on the other hand, if we want to know exactly both the position and the momentum (say the velocity) of a given particle, we have either one or the other, not both. The information to the particle is limited, hence Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

However, if we consider that 1D, 2D, 3D and maybe 4D levels are linked within the "cosmic" information field (or some "subspace" of it), then it could be (maybe) imagined that the fuzziness of the 1D reality at the quantum scale is necessary for the progressive expression of non-deterministic phenomena at higher densities. That's why Penrose hypothesized that the brain functioning at the neural level must be quantum in nature, it allows for freewill to express through our bodies sensations and actions.

On a different note, it seems that Socrates' critic of Pythagoreans was mainly that they considered the physical world as part of the number/"ideal" world, instead of being separated according to the Platonic dualism: manifested world/ideas (archetypal?) world. If we allow ourselves to imagine that Pythagorians understanding of the numbers as this information field, not only it's very surprising in itself, but it also lead us to a slightly different image of the human consciousness-Cosmos interaction IMHO. Instead of relations of causality as in our 3D world, it is possible that this information field proceeds by association, like in our minds, between different objects, thoughts, emotions, concepts, both horizontally (within the same density) and vertically (between densities, or in other words, between different levels of complexity). Causality in our world (1D to 3D) would be a subset of these associations (or connections) within the timeless information field where a parameter "time" is kind of artificially involved, giving us a perception of continuity and interdependence that suits our level of consciousness/complexity. OSIT ATM


Jedi Council Member
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Sir Robert Penrose talks about consciousness on a Joe Rogen interview Consciousness: Sir Robert Penrose
from the background info for the video "Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science. He is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford. "
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