There are several conceivable ways of bridging the ExplanatoryGap?.

PanPsychism. Living force fields. Denial of awareness. (And so on, and so forth.)

This page describes an idea that LionKimbro is partial to, which he will call: “Observed by Selection.”

It can satisfy:

Note that:

(I know that Helmut rejects determinism, on different principles. Determinism is brought up here mainly to placate scientific culture, materialists, speaking at the level of physics; Not to make any arguments about politics or individual or system choice.)


The universe is all the world, the planets, the stars, the empty space, the past, the future, (the time track,) the Earth, the plants, the trees, all the people, all the animals, all the plants, all the minerals, the sun, the comet, the whole shebang.

Actors are parts of the universe that have body, heart, mind, emotion. The dream, make choices, move around, think thoughts, feel things, and so on. Actors act in the universe.

The whole picture so far is called a play. The play may or may not be entirely scripted; It may be improv, it may be pre-scripted; It is immaterial to this explanation.

Observers watch the play through the eyes of an actor, but are not themselves part of the play, in any way. They are wholely and entirely outside of the play.

The Veil

Actors are completely incapable of observing anything outside of the play.

Further, actors are robots, and act entirely automatically.

They are as automatic as the universe they exist in.


Some observers like to see plays where the actors speak of the observers, and about the observers, even though the actors cannot see the observers, or justifiably know of their existence.

(Motive? Perhaps observers feel that they learn something about themselves this way, or something. I don’t know. I suspect it’s not material to the relevance of the story, though I’m not sure if that’s true or not.)

Recall: The actors cannot justify the existence of the observers, because the actors are in the play, and the actors are incapable of observing outside of the play.

In Plain English

You are an observer, but “your” thoughts, emotions, plans, schemes, unconscious thoughts, dreams, wishes, feelings, hurts, glories, loves, fun, arms, legs, nose, right eye, hair, car, and so on, are your actor, and the shared body called “the universe.”

All that stuff is in “the play.”

The only part that is you, is the observer, patiently watching this all.


I do not assert that this is true.

It is merely what I find quite plausible, to me, after other possibilities are concerned.

What about…

  • PanPsychism..? – PanPsychism “feels good” to scientists, because it means that there’s nothing “weird” about Awareness. But if you think about it, you’re paying a very high price for that “un-weirdness.” I mean, you’re just shifting your weirdness around: Now you have to believe that gas particles have awareness! And if you think about it a bit more; Doesn’t that mean every possible subset arrangement of your neurons also has a distinct, and separate awareness? There’s got to be trillions of awarenesses, at least, floating around in your head right now! Majorly spooky weird. Not safe, to my mind.
  • Bio/Cogno-Fields..? – There’s some sort of biological field that arises from specially connected matter, or particular “fields of information exchange,” or what not. This is pretty creepy, too: Just what exactly does make the field? Does it do anything? If so, it’s magical, and should be detectible. That creeps out the scientists, because they haven’t seen any evidence of any such field. Out!
  • NoAwareness?..? – Nobody is actually aware! Well, it certainly makes our equations work easier.., since there’s no equation to balance! But… You just argued that I don’t exist. You lost all credibility with me, and all the other observers. (Though I’m sure that there are actors who will have no qualms with you.)

So, it seems to me that the observed-by-selection hypothesis is the best thing we have running.

The only plausibile rivals to it, in my mind, are:

  • DreamHypothesis? – The world is a dream. Not all that different than what I argued here, actually.
  • AbsoluteStrangeness? – The universe is far stranger than we can begin to imagine, and our existence is part of that deep strangeness.

I actually take the last quite seriously. I just haven’t imagined what it would be. I’ll bet PKD and Lovecraft had some ideas, though.

I wouldn’t go for the dream explanation, because a dream is something fairly specific and limited, and this universe would have to be a very special, different form of dream. Where science can discover truths about subatomic particles. It’s so different from what we usually call a “dream” that I think the name’s more confusing than useful.

“Observed by selection” and “Absolute strangeness” make sense, I won’t venture my own explanation.

One reason why I don’t like “bio/cogno fields” (whatever that is) and a lot of new age pseudosciency explanations of consciousness, of the supernatural, etc. (I’m painting with a wide brush here) is that often they end up describing something that would be testable by science - something that is a “materialist” explanation of the world (even if it talks about auras and energy vibrations and karma and I-don’t-know-what), only it’s a different materialist explanation from the one science usually uses.

So it would be:

Science: the observers don’t exist

Some new-agers: the observers not only exist, but they can actually influence the universe and be detected. But the evidence is being covered-up by close-minded scientists.

So while I see why you don’t like the first, I dislike the second one even more. But not because I want everything to be explainable by reducing it to matter, as I see that the “new ager” version is also materialist, and may well end up also saying that the observers don’t exist, only differently. After all, if the observers are robots too in a universe in an additional laywe, how is that different from the actors being just empty-shelled robots?

(This is a bit on a tangant, I’m not making a straw man argument, as I know very well that what I call the “new age version” is not Lion’s version)

On the whole, I agree!

Points of minor difference:

  • Dislike the second even more?

If I had to choose between “actually, Emile, you don’t exist,” and “Emile, there’s a global conspiracy of scientists,” it’s clear to me which I would choose- I’d choose the global conspiracy! (Which goes to show the contempt with which I hold the “NoAwareness?” position.)

  • DreamHypothesis? – maybe “Simulation Hypothesis?” But that collides witha nother fellow’s ideas about something similar but different. “Illusionary World Hypothesis?” “Fake world?”
  • “Is other-world material OK?”

Now, as for the question of how material in another world is different than the material here:

I think the argument is that the material in the other world is fundamentally conscious. We can imagine “particles of consciousness,” or something. The fundamental property is that it is (say) atomic, and conscious. Somehow, it can connect with a play, to watch the play.

This is altogether different than the material of this world. (Unless PanPsychism is true. Which is plausible to my mind, but definitely very strange.)

Incidentally, there are “field” people who are PanPsychists?. They believe that there are “fields” around particular configurations of matter, or, if they are computationalists, particular configurations of information exchange. The “field” does not necessarily (by all their worldviews) have an affect on the world. (That is, the field could be epiphenomenal.) But I have a problem with this: I now challenge them to explain how information about Awareness penetrated into the world. They need to explain how we’re even having a conversation about Awareness.

See Also

Define external redirect: PanPsychists ExplanatoryGap SignsOfAwareness NoAwareness AbsoluteStrangeness DreamHypothesis