This document presents a philosophy constructed on the theory that consciousness is at the center of the universe we experience. It builds a perception of the world that does not oppose existing religions but rather can be seen as a complement. Its thinking is constructed from the ground up, by starting from a tabula rasa that ties back to philosophical skepticism. It establishes a definition of the self, based on empirical information, joins it with the theory of thermodynamics and the metaphysics of Quality.

Introduction

There is an endless number of religions and philosophies around the world. There are, however, a couple principles that tend to make every religion similar to one another. For one, they unite the faithful around one view of the world, typically coming with the core notion of what is right, and what is wrong. They define one identity of “us”. But because they do, they also tend to define a definition of who is “them”. The others. Those others have had many names in the course of history. This dichotomy is the drive of many dramatic events in history. It reminds us that, in religion just as much as in national identity, lies forces able to move mountains and create wonder – but also tremendous pain and terror.

What Zyiixism is at its core is “not yet” another religion or philosophy. It tries to touch core principles on how consciousness exists, and what it entails. But it does not try to give back meaning, or justification, nor identity – things that have long been sought by those who join the ranks of any movement – religious, social, or otherwise. It attempts to transcend these.

This document presents, in each chapter, a building block of Zyiixism, in order to demonstrate the logic behind the idea that consciousness is at the center of it all.

Radical Skepticism

For centuries, consciousness has been an intriguing question in the field of philosophy. The perception of being self-aware is the only thing that remains for the philosophical skeptic when the certainty of knowledge is put under scrutiny. What proof do I have that my knowledge is real? That my senses give me an accurate representation of the world? The answers may vary.

For skeptic hard-liners themselves, there is no answer. This leads them to the denial of all possibility of provable, valid knowledge and to the suspension of judgment.

On the other hand, for Descartes, the truth relies in God. The famous “I think therefore I am” (“Cogito, ergo sum”) is not itself sufficient to prove the world – it only proves the self. To build upon it, Descartes argues that the world we live in is far too complex to not be real, and as such needs to be created by a supreme being. While this might have resonated with many scholars of that time, it falls short from rational argumentation from a pure Cartesian perspective.

Moreover, Descartes is overstepping a very important point in his thinking: that the self, the “I” in “I think therefore I am”, is in itself hardly definable. This “I” is the construct of my memory, my mental capacities. However, there is no ground proof at any given time that those memories are mine and that my capacities are intangible. Thus, the self itself falls within the realm of philosophical skepticism and the reality of its existence and its continuity through time and space can be put back in question. There are thus no guarantees that “I” actually exists. Thus, Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” should be simplified into “think therefore am” – where the “I”, the self, unprovable, is left out.

What remains when skepticism is entirely restored is thus a notion of awareness that is not necessarily self-aware as not tied to the notion of a provable self.

Theorem 1. Consciousness’s proof of existence is “think, therefore am”.

Self-Awareness and Awareness

We have demonstrated that consciousness does not necessarily tie with the notion of a provable “self”. This has interesting implications about the distinction we make about awareness and self-awareness.

Being aware of something usually is based on my present perception of that thing (an object as defined by my analytical mind, mental or physical), as presented to my consciousness through my senses (whatever they are since I cannot soundly define them). As such, it does not require me to maintain a notion of timeline (past and future), since the object does not need these to impose itself to me. The capacity to remember is thus out of scope for awareness.

However, being self-aware is different. Being self-aware ties back to the capacity I (the self) have to reflect on and define myself. In this moment, “I” is nothing without past and future projection. If you were to erase all my memories right now and never allow me to remember the past again, even in the instant, and to live forever in the present, I would never be able to build a sense of self-awareness, simply because every time I discover something about myself, I would forget it instantly [1].

This distinction between awareness and self-awareness is important and means two main things. First, that there is a potential tangible world (even if I have no proof of its true nature) outside of the self. Secondly, that my “self” is not definable without the power of reflection, which I can do only through memories. However, as previously discussed, we showed that the self itself is not something I can have any tangible proof about. I cannot define myself in the instant because I cannot see myself (the point of view of the observer – or metaphorically: the eye cannot see itself).

As such, this draws a clear line: I can be aware without being self-aware. Awareness relates to everything that imposes itself to consciousness. This encompasses everything in the physical world that I can perceive through my senses. It defines a primitive world upon which all of us build. Self-awareness brings the power of reflection, first upon the self, and then upon our relationship with the awareness we gain from our surrounding world.

There are thus two clear side of the consciousness: the “self” and the universe the self perceives. As such, consciousness is thus an exchange between those two sides. Any mental construct then derives from this self-awareness principle in what we call the Observer’s Paradox.

Theorem 2. Consciousness is an exchange.

The Observer’s Paradox

The Observer’s Paradox refers to a situation in which a phenomenon is influenced by the presence of the observer. This is an important paradox in the field of empirical studies, and it is at the core of the concept of consciousness as define by the line between the universe around us and the self.

The reason behind the unwanted influence of the observer ties back to the fact that the observer is unable to see itself as part of the experiment, and thus influences it unwittingly. The observer is solely able to understand itself through self-awareness because it cannot see itself directly. As the self is also the ones to draw conclusion from experimentation, this usually mean that the observer influences any experiment from its setup to its interpretation. Even without speaking of the influence of the observer on the results themselves, the influence of the “self” changes the balance of the equation in the very core of the experimentation root.

This has interesting consequences on our definition of consciousness. First, without being self-aware, any read on the world around us is possibly tangibly influenced by us in its very perception, since we have no way to understand how we are interacting with it. We cannot really call such a consciousness an observer then, but only an actor, influencing the world it sees and acts on. Secondly, with the capacity of being self-aware (even if that self is undefinable and, based on philosophical skepticism, cannot be warranted as real), we have the capacity of correcting the influence we have on our own vision of the world by understanding how we play a role into it. Note, however, that this is a double-edged sword, depending on how accurate our reflection of ourselves is. If the way we influence the experiment – or the world we see – is far off from what our self-understanding makes us believe, then the correction we would apply to our understanding is unlikely to be itself correct.

We can say that the awareness flux of consciousness is thus directional. We can see the world through our senses, but our definition of the self is only achieved through reflection.

Theorem 3. Conscious awareness is directional.

Uncertainty Principle

There is a first interesting parallel to do here between our construct of consciousness and some principle drawn from quantum mechanics. In 1927, Eisenberg introduced the uncertainty principle. The principle states that it is impossible to observe or predict conjugate properties of a particle with the highest precision simultaneously. For instance, knowing both the speed and the position of a given particle at any given time simultaneously is an impossibility. Either the position has to be imprecise, or the speed. Put into vulgarized terms, you could imagine this as taking a picture of a fast-moving ball at a specific time. If the exposition time is instantaneous, then only the position of the ball is known. If the exposition time is longer, then the ball will be blurry as it moved during the capture time. This will allow us to get an understanding of the particle’s speed but will prevent us from knowing the exact position of the particle at any given time during the captured frame. In other words, both position and speed are estimated, but imprecise, for a specific particle at a specific time.

The camera in our vulgarized example above can be seen as our consciousness in the observer’s paradox. Applying the uncertainly principle to this parallel stipulates that awareness or self-awareness will never be absolute, because it would not be able to overcome the uncertainty principle itself. Note that, however, those two things are entirely different, as the uncertainly principle exists regardless of the presence of the observer. Rather, the uncertainty principle states the fact that any observer, even with a fully understood impact on any experiment, will still hit a limit in its measurements.

One more interesting note is in regard to free will. It has been suggested in past work that the uncertainty principle could be an indication of free will. However, we should not forget that our brain, our notion of the self and of the world around us is done at a level of abstraction way above quantum mechanics, and thus that the laws of its physics are unlikely to apply. Regardless of those critics, the uncertainty principle stipulates that there is no absolute knowledge at the quantum level – and, in fact, physical states can thus be superposed form an observer point of view. This is one of the bases of quantum theory. It is best illustrated by the Schrodinger cat experiment. In that experiment, a cat is put in a cage and connected to random subatomic events. If those events occur, the cat dies. Otherwise, it lives. Based on the experiment’s argumentation, the cat, linked as such to the subatomic events that may or may not happen and that we cannot observe directly, is both dead and alive at the same time until we open the box. This is often designated as a paradox, but in reality, is an illustration of what we can observe and quantify at the quantum level rather than a real statement of the cat being alive or dead. However, it raises interesting questions regarding the position of the observer.

One of the main consequences of Eisenberg’s uncertainty principle is thus not that free will exists or not, nor that the Schrodinger’s cat is alive or dead, but that any conscious observer will never be able to get a full, “god-like” grasp of experiments as missing subatomic levels of certainty.

From there, we can derive that absolute knowledge does not exist, and that awareness is thus limited.

Theorem 4. Consciousness is not absolute.

Chaos And Thermodynamics

A more macroscopic definition that also relates to unpredictability is chaos theory. Chaos theory focuses on systems that appear random because they are unpredictable based on some initial conditions and after a given time period. This time period varies and is known as the Lyapunov time. For instance, weather is a chaotic system. It is hard to impossible to predict accurately weather after a few days from original conditions. There are many chaotic systems, and it has been proven that chaos theory can be applied to a broad set of topics.

Note that, on the contrary of Eisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the appearance of uncertainty in chaos theory is directly tight to the theory itself, while the uncertainty principle is axiomatic of quantum mechanics.

For the purpose of this manifesto, we are interested into relating chaos theory and the laws of thermodynamics, and to its relation to consciousness. The laws of thermodynamics stipulate that energy is preserved in a system (systems producing work without a source of energy are impossible) and that the measure of entropy of a closed system always increases. In other words, as units of work are produced in a close system, the overall entropy, which is a measure of disorder, always increases. One good analogy is a warm glass of water left on a table. Originally, the order is great: the water is hot, and the air is cold. But as time passes, the water heats up the air, even slightly, and the water gets colder. If this were to occur in an entirely close system, the total energy in the system would remain the same – as it has no way to escape – but the entropy will increase as the water cools down and the air warms up to an equilibrium. Once the equilibrium is reach, there is nothing that can be done to remove the heat from the air and put it back into the water without bringing in more work – namely more energy – from an external source. Adding energy to the system – for instance by connecting a water boiler and an air cooler – will diminish entropy but let the overall energy of the system remain the same: we bring energy to warm up the water, and bring energy to cool down the air, which extracted heat is then a byproduct that we need to remove to the system if we want to bring it back to its original condition. The electricity brought into the system to boil the water and cool the air will be equivalent to the heat removed from the air itself, bringing energy equivalence – but removing entropy. But that means energy was used outside of the system itself – and the system is not closed.

In some circumstances, chaos theory can argue that, in an entropic system such as the one above, predictability increases as entropy decreases. Namely that a system’s evolution can be more adequately predicted from original settings if the entropy, the measure of disorder, is low. As entropy increases, the system becomes more and more disordered and, for complex systems – much more complicated than our water glass above – this yield unpredictable chaos.

Here, we are interested of the implications of chaos theory and thermodynamics on our definition of consciousness, where we end up having the self – indirectly definable only – looking at the universe around it as we perceive it – both unprovable as being real based on skepticism. In such a setting, the complex entropic system we are looking at is defined by the whole set of experience we may have and every object in it. It is also encompassing everything that changes that perception – namely our self itself – which can be complex as well.

In such settings, one could argue that consciousness is working as a special chaotic system. Change original condition for the self to exists and it will be affected by it in unpredictable way. The reserve is also true – change me, and the world around me is likely to be changed in unpredictable ways as well.

This comes from our own conditioning and the way we behave. For instance, there is some level of predictability, of course, on how education changes people – for the best or the worse – in predictable manners. But there are many little traits in life that sets us on courses that are even so slightly different from what we could have expected. From a global perspective, the trend may or may not seem to be set, but all is in the nuances. What creates the nuances? A myriad of experiences that affected us in the course of our life, all of them happening in ways that are in themselves consequences of other myriads. As such, the system on which consciousness operates is all-encompassing.

In other words, each of us represent a complex chaotic system operating at planet scale [2], where consciousness plays a specific catalytic role into the way we behave and the way we evolve.

Consciousness in itself – and the world around it – is thus a source of chaos. This chaos is shaped by our self to produce new forms that may or may not appear random but are drawn from this gigantism. One could argue that this could be a way to define inspiration, whenever this one is artistic or scientific. Our self directs the chaos our consciousness produces and gives us the ability to create.

Theorem 5. Consciousness is a chaotic system.

Theorem 6. The self is consciousness’s creative catalyst.

Breaking the Cartesian Cricle

It is important to circle back to our original tabula rasa as done by the skeptics. The only established truth we could actually prove was the original think therefore am. There is nothing more that we can argue actually exists. We took it one step further by removing Descartes’ “I”, and then took the time to study exactly what the “am” meant. From this original sentence, we were able to derive a theory of consciousness that does not stipulate on the notion of what this “I” is but is able to give us clues on how the “am” behave. However, by doing so, we reached out from our skepticism position to get derivative theories from the laws of physics.

This bridge we built may seem, in itself, contradictory with our original skeptic position. What proof do we have that the uncertainty principle, or the theories of chaos and thermodynamics are real? They derive from our own observations of a universe we barely comprehend. There is also nothing fixed about those theories as we might very well be able to find better, more suitable models in the coming future.

What is interesting, however, is not the source of the models. The Earth may very well die with the sun. We might very well find better theories to understand energy preservation or overcome most of our issues with chaotic systems thanks to yet to be invented quantum supercomputer. What matters, however, is that these fits what we know about the process of consciousness. As any other theory, what we can currently understand of the scaffolding of consciousness is limited by the logic we can apply to it. And what we know is that consciousness is an exchange, it is directional (from the self to the senses), is not absolute, and it falls within the realm of chaos theory in the sense that it is almost impossible to predict its outcome (aka “what it will do”) from original settings, as the whole history of the universe plays a role and the system that represents consciousness is far from a close one.

This is an important distinction to make as opposed to Descartes’ proof of God, also known as the cartesian circle. Descartes argued that the world we perceive cannot possibly be wrong or an illusion due to its perfection, and that thus there must be a god, a prime force, a creator that added order into it. As such, the complexity of the world proves God. He later on reversed the train, stipulating that the only proof he had that his knowledge of the world was certain only came from his knowledge of God’s existence [3].

In our approach, we did not prove nor disprove the existence of the laws of thermodynamic by doing our tabula rasa. We stipulated, on the contrary, that the model did apply to what we can derive from the “Think therefore am” of our conclusion while we were focusing on the “am”. We cannot take those laws as certain – a model is only as good as its fit to the data – but we can argue that they are sufficient to relate to our study of the “am” and thus enable us to build subsequent philosophical claims.

Metaphysics of Quality

The Metaphysics of Quality revolve around the fact that “Quality” cannot be defined by an object’s properties alone. A metal bar might be impossible to bend, which is a quality in one setting, but bad in another one, where a malleable bar is better suited. The bar itself does not define its own Quality – rather, the Quality is only defined for an intent.  Being able to best measure this Quality is what Robert M. Pirsig calls Gumption. The best our perception of Quality is, the best we can serve our intent.

Measuring fixed qualities does not tie to consciousness. An automated process – an intelligent one – could perfectly match intent and the property of metal bars as discussed above, to identify one that would suit the current need better. Intelligent, non-conscious processes can perfectly measure qualities. However, defining the intent and thus how Quality needs to be measured raises a much trickier question around automation. Can intent be defined without being conscious? Can new goals be created, broken down into sub-objectives, and a best possible path forward matched to them to maximize quality? Current artificial intelligence algorithms are far from doing such things.

One could argue that creating new goals is a pure creative process [4] – and thus aligns perfectly with our definition of consciousness as directed chaos.

As such, Zyiixism aligns with the Metaphysics of Quality – consciousness is now what defines Quality (while an intelligent process can only measure it). Living in Gumption is thus the best we can do to maximize what we want our conscious efforts to do and who we want to be [5].

Theorem 7. Consciousness is what defines Quality.

Theorem 8. Maximizing Quality maximizes consciousness.

The Quest for Contrasts

In the chaotic system of consciousness, where unpredictability arises in bursts of creation in many forms, lies the true nature that defines Quality. Reading Quality is what brings us to mastering alignments between what we want and what we do. From there, it seems only natural that what we truly need to seek and improve is our capacity to read Quality itself. There are many ways of exercising Gumption, and all are valid. However, if Quality defines what we understand and chaos is the untamed source of what we create, getting higher Quality comes from the quest of contrasts – of higher entropy.

To search for a life full of differences, and making way through them using better judgment, is what maximizes our chance to a freer chaos, and a purer way to create. To have Gumption is not only to be able to understand the task at hand but welcome the quest for contrasts in our everyday life. Under more contrasts, more chaos, our ability to exercise Gumption can only grow.

Conclusion

Zyiixism, in its purest form, is seeking those contrasts without getting overwhelmed, it is walking this fine path on the border of one’s comfort zone and increase our ability to judge and understand, and thus increase our Gumption and the capacity we have to create more freely through a better understanding of Quality.


[1] There is an important distinction to do here between my physical self and my mental self. For this distinction here, the self only defines the capacity I have to define myself as a mental entity. The limits of my body being imposed to me through my senses,  I can be aware of my physical self without requiring self-awareness.

[2] In reality, even more than planet scale. The earth is not a closed thermodynamic system. The sun is a constant source of energy. If the sun were to stop burning here and right now, eight minute later, the surface of the Earth would start to cool to the point where life would not be possible. But in itself, the solar system can also not fully be seen as a closed system going towards reaching a thermodynamic equilibrium. There is a few billion years left in the sun to burn before it explodes into a red giant, swallowing everything, and eventually dying once all the energy has been transform and entropy reaches its stellar peak. However, other events, from outside the solar system itself, can also influence it.

[3] Even in current times, it is hard to think that there is not “higher” creative principle or entities behind the fabric of the world – a so-called god, or gods. Too many things had to be right for us to exists. However, we should not forget that us existing is not the cause of the right order that made us conscious. We often forget to consider the myriad of possible settings were the experiment of life failed to create consciousness as we know it. For those settings, the entities that then would have been able to think along the same line never existed. We are a consequence. However, our choice to believe in an intent (and thus a higher creating principle) solely depends on faith – and for some, statistics.

[4] One could argue that the creative process is solely being overtaken by conscient entities. For instance, music is an extremely mathematic art. From random settings, artificial intelligence could produce audio masterpieces that could equal the best composers. However, the intent of the algorithm – to produce music – is not defined by the machine itself – but by its creators. That is the true creating process behind-the-scenes here, not writing the masterpiece.

[5] It is important to underline here that this has nothing to do with maximizing efficiency as we commonly think in our everyday tasks. We are not trying to maximize production here, but quality time as we perceive it.