5. Life & Matter: Interacting Realms of Existence?



Theory of Attention: Universe consists of 3 Interacting Realms, not just one

Synopsis: According to our theory, Attention belongs to a realm of existence that is on a par with the Material Realms, i.e. Atomic and Subatomic. The justification is straightforwayd. Each realm has its own unique mathematical system that is tied to empirical data. The mathematics reveals the underlying structure of reality in each realm. The 3 realities are mutually exclusive. For instance, space and time are continuous in the Atomic Realm, quantized in the Subatomic Realm, and elastic in the Realm of Attention. Due to these extreme differences, it is more useful to view the Realm of Attention as distinct from the Material Realms, rather than a function of Matter.

Article Intent: Justify Position

The intent of this article is to justify the hypothesis that Attention belongs to a mathematically based realm of existence that is on a par with the Material Realms. One reason for this position: the mathematical laws of the Realm of Attention provide the rationale for many features of living behavior that are unaccounted for by the laws of Matter.

Building Block Metaphor & Emergence to explain the Diversity

Those that believe that the Universe consists of a single Material Realm typically understand the overwhelming diversity through the building block metaphor. Atoms, the undisputed building blocks of Matter, are added together to create molecules, which in turn are combined to create Cells, the undisputed building blocks of Life. Just as a building has emergent features that the individual blocks do not have, molecules have emergent features that individual atoms do not have. By extension, the unique characteristics that make living systems so special are simply emergent features of the body’s organic molecules. Emergence implies that there are no added ingredients.

Attention: Extra Ingredient for Living Systems

But are building blocks accompanied by the notion of emergence really the best metaphor for understanding the complexity? We suggest not. According to our theory, Attention is an ingredient that is exclusive to the living systems. To encompass this extra component, we introduce a new metaphor for understanding the totality – interacting realms of existence.

Importance of Metaphor? Understand Reality through Abstractions based in Metaphor

Why debate which metaphor is the best fit? There is a nearly universal consensus among cognitive scientists that humans understand their world through abstractions. These abstractions are almost entirely based upon conceptual metaphors. We utilize metaphors as maps of reality. A map’s usefulness is based upon how well it reflects the territory.

Article focus: Comparing & Contrasting 2 metaphors

The question becomes: Which metaphor, i.e. ‘building block’ or ‘interacting realms’, provides the best map of the territory, in this case all phenomena, material and living? To pose an answer to this question, we will compare and contrast the two metaphors. We will see that the building block metaphor is entirely appropriate for certain subsets of existence, while the interacting realms metaphor is more appropriate for the meta-level of existence. Exploring and refining the use of these metaphors enables a more all-encompassing and less limiting view of existence

Justification: 3 Different Mathematical Systems -> 3 Realities -> 3 Interacting Realms

What is the justification for our conclusions? Each Realm of Existence has a unique mathematical system. Although bound by the common architecture of Newtonian dynamics, each system has its own focus, laws and forms. These mathematical metaphors reveal the underlying structure of each realm’s reality. Each of these realities is mutually exclusive. Building blocks’ emergence doesn’t account for these extreme differences. The interacting realms metaphor provides a far better map of the territory.

3 Different Mathematical Systems -> 3 Realities -> 3 Interacting Realms

We suggest that the interaction of the Subatomic and Atomic Realms generates the Material Realm and that the interation between the Material and Attention Realms generates the Living Realm.



Section Headings


Attention: an Emergent Feature of Matter?

Attention Theory provides Math for Common Sense re Choice

Our common sense tells us that we regularly make mental choices that exert an effect upon our physical reality. For instance, most of us believe that our mind directs our hand to grasp the apple and bring it to our mouth. Yum! Our Theory of Attention provides a mathematical framework for this common sense attitude that pervades our day-to-day existence.

Life & Matter: Differing relationships with Info

If the underlying assumptions of our theory are true in any way, then Life and Matter have an entirely different relationship with Information. Life has a monitor-adjust relationship that entails Choice and Meaning-making. The decision-making process has several essential components: Intention, Attention and Feeling. In contrast, Matter has an action-reaction relationship with Information that does not include Choice or Meaning, and by extension any of the essential components.

Qualitative Differences: Hard to view Life as emergent feature of Matter.

The prevalent Materialist Paradigm holds that the Universe consists of a single Material Realm. All phenomena including Life are simply emergent features of the synergy between Matter and Energy. Due to the qualitative differences regarding Information, it is hard, under these circumstances, to view Life as merely an emergent feature of Matter.

Could Life’s Attention synergy be an extra ingredient?

How then do we conceptualize the relationship between these fundamental features of existence? If Life is not an emergent feature of our physical universe, then what is it? Is it possible that the cosmos has a component that is not encompassed by Einstein’s e = mc2, i.e. the synergy of matter and energy? Could that component be associated with Information, more specifically Life’s special ability to impart Meaning to Information? And how does Life interact with Information but through Attention? It seems that this Attention synergy that includes Information and Meaning is unique to living systems.

Better Metaphor for Universe: 3 Realms, rather than single Material Realm

To encompass Attention as an essential component of existence along with Matter and Energy, it is necessary to expand beyond a monistic view of existence. Rather than a single Material Realm, we suggest that it is more useful to conceptualize the Universe as consisting of three interacting realms of existence: the Atomic Realm, the Subatomic Realm and the Realm of Attention.

Metaphors for Existence: Building Blocks vs. Interacting Realms

Information: Life ‘monitor-adjust’ vs. Matter ‘action-reaction’

According to our Theory of Attention, Life and Matter have an entirely different relationship with Information. Living systems have a monitor-adjust relationship with internal and external environmental data. After monitoring incoming data, Life requires a small increment of time to adjust – to make a choice. In contrast, exclusively material systems (Matter) have an action-reaction relationship with Information. Matter reacts mechanistically to external actions – no possibility of choice.

Making sense of Differences?

How do we make sense of this crucial difference between Life and Matter?

Building block metaphor to understand Reality: Emergence

The exclusively Material Perspective holds that Life is simply an emergent feature of Matter, or more specifically Cells are an emergent feature of Atoms. In this context, emergence means that there are no extra ingredients. Many employ the building block metaphor to conceptualize emergence. One block is piled upon another to create a structure that has emergent features, e.g. interior space, that the single block does not have. Nothing is added.

Subatomics building blocks of Atoms building blocks of Life

Under this metaphor, subatomic entities, e.g. muons and gluons, are piled upon each other to inevitably create larger subatomic entities, e.g. electrons, photons, neutrons and protons. In turn, these subatomic building blocks are heaped together to create atoms. Atoms are then joined together in larger groups creating molecules, the foundation of our atomic world. Groups of atoms and molecules are then joined together in intriguingly complicated ways to generate cells – the undisputed building blocks of Life. In such a way, everything in our entire Universe generated – from subatomic ‘particles’ to atom-based particles to cells.

Life’s special features are emergent properties of Matter

The building block metaphor is probably the most common way of understanding the Materialist Perspective. Not merely a perspective, this mental construct is actually a prevalent paradigm for understanding reality. Under this paradigm, Life’s seemingly strange and mysterious features are simply emergent properties of their building blocks – atoms and molecules.

Material Explanation for All Phenomena

Subatomics combine to generate Atoms, which in turn combine to create Cells. There is a material explanation for all phenomena. Body acts upon Mind, but not vice versa – Body à Mind.

How does emergence explain Life’s special features? Need Fresh Metaphor: Interacting Realms of Existence

But is the building block metaphor really the best way to understand the mutually exclusive differences between Life and Matter, e.g. regarding their relationship to Information? How does emergence explain Life’s special features, for instance Attention? We suggest that it is more fruitful to understand the Universe in terms of three interacting realms of existence.

Article focus: Comparing & Contrasting 2 metaphors

The remainder of this article is devoted to justifying this fresh metaphor for reality. To this end, we will compare and contrast the two metaphors – building blocks and interacting realms. We will see that the building block metaphor is entirely appropriate for certain subsets of existence, while the interacting realms metaphor is more appropriate for the meta-level of existence. Exploring and refining the use of these metaphors enables a more all-encompassing and less limiting view of existence.

Cognitive Science: Conceptual Metaphor Trumps Facts

Why explore metaphor?

Why devote an entire article to exploring two competing metaphors for reality? Why not just focus upon reality and skip the metaphor? What relevance do cognitive models have to hard-core numbers and facts? How can perceptions possibly change reality?

Metaphor, source of abstraction, becomes Reality Filter

Cognitive science has discovered that humans develop conceptual frames or metaphors to understand their world. It seems that our human capability for abstraction is based upon these conceptual metaphors. We understand our world through these abstractions. Then due to an innate cognitive process deemed conflation, we attribute a sense of reality to these metaphors. In the scientific realm, this reality becomes a paradigm – the filter through which a majority of scientists perceive and organize the world.

Hang facts in Metaphorical Frame or they bounce off

We hang facts and experiences in these metaphorical frames. If the facts don’t fit into the frame, they tend to bounce off or are rejected out of hand. In other words, we don’t assimilate any information that doesn’t fit into these conceptual structures. We only remember the facts that fit into the cognitive frames that we have constructed to make sense of our world.

Quote: Frames are ideational & neurological

In his bestselling book, don't think of an elephant, noted cognitive scientist Dr. George Lakoff states:

"One of the fundamental findings of cognitive science is that people think in terms of frames and metaphors – conceptual structures … . The frames are in the synapses of our brains, physically present in the form of neural circuitry. When the facts don't fit the frames, the frames are kept and the facts are ignored." (Lakoff, p.73)

Must deconstruct building block metaphor before introducing a new one

It seems that our abstractions have both an ideational and actual physical reality. We understand our world through these neural structures and tend to reject facts that don’t fit in. Due to the supremacy of metaphorical frame over facts, we must first deconstruct the current building block metaphor before introducing a new one.

Internal logic of metaphor? Which features of reality does it match and not?

To achieve this end, we must answer a few questions. What are the essential features, i.e. the internal logic of the building block metaphor? Which features of reality match the logic behind the building block metaphor? Which features of reality do not have this same inferential logic and why?

A crack to introduce new metaphor

In such a fashion, we will expose the inadequacies of the building block metaphor to characterize certain meta-features of reality. Hopefully this will open a hole, or even just a tiny crack, in the current conceptual frame. With a crack in the façade, there is a possibility that someone might at least entertain the notion that we need a fresh metaphor to encompass a larger reality. It is only at this point that we can actually introduce a new metaphor – the logic of interacting realms. Then at last we can show that its internal logic is a far better fit for existence.

The Building Block Metaphor: Atoms -> Matter, Cells -> Life

Metaphors: Maps of Reality: Usefulness in Fit

First a little about metaphors. Metaphors are the maps through which we understand reality. The map is useful when its structure, i.e. its internal logic, fits the structure of reality. For instance, if the map of Los Angeles is accurate, we can use it to find our way around the town. Conversely, if it is inaccurate, we could easily become lost.

Maps not the Territory

It is important to always remember that the map is not the territory. It is impossible for any map to have every feature of the city of Los Angeles. Maps are only rough approximations. For instance an old map might have all the main streets, but could be missing some new routes. Even the most current map will not list every building.

Evaluating Metaphor: logical match, utility, & explanatory power

To evaluate the efficacy of a metaphor, we must ask some questions. How good is the logical match between the metaphor and reality? How much utility does out metaphorical map have? Does it have any explanatory power? Employing these criteria, the following discussion will attempt to evaluate how well our 2 metaphors fit different features of reality.

Building Block Metaphor

Due to the power of our cognitive frames, we must start our discussion with the prevalent building block metaphor. First what is the metaphor? Single building blocks are piled upon each other to create a structure.

4 Salient Features

This metaphor has 4 salient features.

Building Block Logic

1) The entire structure consists solely of the same building block.

2) The entire structure obeys the same rules as the individual blocks.

3) The structure has emergent features that the single building block does not have.

4) There is some type of common glue or mortar that binds the entire structure together.

Applying criterion to Egyptian Pyramid

The Egyptian pyramids provide an excellent example of the building block metaphor. It consists entirely of stone blocks. The pyramid obeys the same laws as the stone blocks. It has emergent properties, e.g. height and internal space, that the individual blocks do not have. Gravity is the mortar that binds the pyramid together.

Atoms are Building blocks of Matter

The building block metaphor is a great way of understanding the world we inhabit – the atomic world. It consists entirely of atoms. Atoms combine to make molecules, which combine to create everything else in our universe. There are universal laws that apply to every atom and every molecule. These molecule and combinations of molecules have emergent features that individual atoms do not have. Well-defined laws determine how atoms combine to create molecules. The metaphorical fit is so good that nearly everyone agrees that Atoms are the building blocks of Matter.

Cells are Building Blocks of Life

There is also a general consensus that Cells are the Building Blocks of Life. Every form of Life consists of Cells or collections of Cells. There is no such thing as non-cellular life. Each cell and collection of cells obeys the same laws. According to a prominent cognitive scientist, cells provide the blueprint for even the most complex multi-cellular organism. Organisms have emergent properties that individual cells do not have. Connective tissue is the glue that both binds individual cells and groups of cells together.

Atoms building blocks of Cells and Life?

Virtually everyone agrees that Atoms are the building blocks of Matter and that Cells are the building blocks of Life. If Cells only have a Material component, then it would seem that Atoms are the building blocks of Cells. Under this perspective, the special aspects of Cells are merely emergent features of Atoms and Molecules. Life is a subset of Matter.

Materialist Paradigm

This is the Materialist Paradigm. There is only Matter. This paradigm employs building blocks as a foundational metaphor for understanding reality.

Cells: A non-material component related to Attention?

What if Cells have a non-material component that is exclusive to Life? Is it possible that Atoms are only the building blocks of Life’s material component? But what else could there possibly be besides Matter? Could this other component be Life’s Attention synergy that imparts Meaning to Information?

Subatomics: Building Blocks of Atoms?

We mentioned that Atoms are the undisputed building blocks of Matter. How about Atoms? How are atoms constructed?

Atoms: Mini-solar systems?

Atoms were initially likened to a mini-solar system. They have a nucleus consisting of tiny neutrons and protons and even tinier electrons circle around this nucleus. In other words, atoms consist of unimaginably small subatomic particles. Under this perception, subatomics are the real building blocks of existence.

Atomic and Subatomic Realms entirely different

Yet, scientists were quick to distance themselves from the solar system metaphor due to experimental results combined with theoretical findings. They found that the subatomic world is entirely different from the atomic world.

Subatomics are mysterious entities, not particles

On the most basic level, subatomic particles don’t behave like any particle in the atomic realm. For instance, electrons and photons move in and out of existence. Photons simultaneously move in all directions, including forward and backward in time. Due to their non-particle like behavior, it is more accurate to view subatomics as some kind of mysterious entity.

Subatomics occupy a quantized space and time, have probabilistic mathematics

The difference between the atomic and subatomic realms extends to the essential nature of space and time. The Atomic realm is continuous, while the Subatomic realm is quantized. Further Atomic mathematics is definitive, while Subatomic mathematics is probabilistic.

Subatomics & Atomics do not have building block relationship

The extreme differences between the Subatomic and Atomic Realms indicate that they do not have a building block relationship. According to building block logic, the structure obeys the same laws and is of the same substance as the building blocks. Subatomics entities and atomic particles obey different laws, are of an entirely different substance, and even occupy a different type of space and time.

Matter intersection of Atomic & Subatomic Realms

If not the building block metaphor, what type of metaphor better conceptualizes their relationship? Due to the innate differences in their essential nature, we suggest that Atoms and Subatomics belong to 2 separate realms of existence. The interaction of these 2 realms seems to determine the behavior and properties of Matter. Following is a simple equation that represents this relationship.

Material Behavior = Subatomics x Atomics

Math-Data Synergy shapes conception of Reality

As mentioned, there are many differences between the Subatomic and Atomic realms of existence. For instance, the Atomic Realm consists of visible particles, while the Subatomic Realm consists of mysterious entities that can’t be seen in action. Their existence is only surmised by their effects, e.g. sound in an experimental setting. Space and time are continuous in the Atomic Realm and quantized in the Subatomic Realm.

How do we know scientific facts are true?

How do we know these 'scientific facts' are true? For instance, why are we fairly certain that space and time in our material world are continuous? 

Mathematical equations determine truth

The short reason is mathematics. Scientists have uncovered equations that fit empirical data. In fact they fit so well that engineers have been able to create a stable technological wonderland via these equations. The stability of technology, for instance our smart phones, erases any possible doubt regarding the ‘truth’ of the mathematics.

When Affirmed, Equations’ Hypothesis -> Theory -> Scientific Fact

 These mathematical equations are based upon many distinct hypotheses. The equations of atomic matter are based upon the hypothesis that space and time are continuous, while the equations of subatomic entities are based upon the hypothesis that space and time are quantized.

After scientists have tested these hypotheses countless times, the hypotheses become theories. After cross-validation in a variety of diverse circumstances these theories are taken as scientific fact.

Scientific Facts based upon Math/Data Synergy determines Reality

These scientific facts determine our conception of reality. As an example, one reason that nearly everyone believes in gravity is because many of our technological marvels are based upon the mathematics of gravity. For instance, scientists have placed men on the moon with equations that are based upon the gravity hypothesis. Because the gravity hypothesis is based upon the hypothesis that space and time are continuous, we also take this to be true. Electromagnetism is another common understanding that is mathematically based.

Sometimes an accumulation of scientific facts surrounds the synergy between mathematical formulas and empirical data. This Math/Data Synergy provides even greater validation to the network of surrounding theories and concepts.

Math/Data Synergy yields differing Realities

However, one Math/Data Synergy indicates that space and time are continuous in the Atomic Realm; another reveals that space and time are quantized in the Subatomic Realm. How do we reconcile these mutually exclusive views of space and time?

Is one reality more real than the others

Is one of these space-time conceptions more real than the others? Is this version the ‘real’ reality and the others imposters – mere virtual realities? Is the space-time continuum really an emergent feature of a virtual infinity of subatomic entities that inhabit a quantized space and time? What explanatory power does this position have?

Complementary Realities: One true inside Atom, other true outside the Atom

Scientists have generally taken the stance that the Subatomic and Atomic Realms are complementary. One set of truths holds in the Subatomic Realm and another set of truths holds in the Atomic Realm. Instead of a singular reality, there are two complementary realities. One holds for the interior of the Atom while the other holds for the exterior of the Atom. Although paradoxically contradictory, neither reality is more true than the other.

Only perceive effects of Subatomic in Atomic Realm – when they intersect

We can only perceive the effects of the Subatomic Realm in the Atomic Realm, the realm of existence that we live in – the one that is our reality. The mysterious Subatomic Realm only becomes real for us when it intersects with the Atomic Realm. Rather than a building block relationship, the Material Realm, our reality, is better thought of as an interaction between the Atomic and Subatomic Realms. Two disparate realities with different laws join to become our reality. What about the Realm of Attention?

Interacting Realms of Existence: Features

Building Block Logic works well with Atoms & Cells, not with Subatomics & Atoms

As mentioned, building block logic applies perfectly to both the Atoms/Matter relationship and the Cells/Life relationship. The building blocks and the structure are of the same substance and obey the same laws. However, this same logic falls short when it comes to the relationship between the Subatomic and Atomic Realms. Subatomics are not of the same substance and do not obey the same laws as Atoms. While perfect for Atoms and Cells, the building block metaphor is clearly an inadequate way of understanding the relationship between Subatomics and Atomics of existence.

Intersecting realms as a replacement

What is the replacement for the traditional building block metaphor? We suggest that it is more instructive to understand the relationship between Subatomics and Atomics as interacting realms of existence. How does this new metaphor fulfill the shortcomings of the building block metaphor?

Realm Logic?

Let’s start with the word ‘realm’? What are the salient features of this word? More appropriately, what type of logic is associated with a realm?

Realm: Political Territory

This word typically refers to some kind of political territory, perhaps a kingdom, country, or even empire. However a realm does not have to be political. It can also reference an idea or concept, for instance the realm of fantasy or even a realm of existence.

Political Realms: Laws consistent within; differ between; still interact

Let’s consider a political realm. Each type of political realm, whether kingdom or empire, has some type of laws that order the realm. The laws or rules are usually consistent within the boundaries of the realm. However, one political realm can have a different set of laws than another. Despite these differences, the two realms can still interact.

Same logic for Atomic, Subatomic and Information Realms

This same ‘realm’ logic applies to our two realms of existence. The laws of the Atomic and Subatomic Realms are consistent within the realm. Further the laws of each realm are distinctly different from each other. Yet the realms of existence still interact.

Political Realm Logic that applies to Realms of Existence

1) Realms have laws.

2) Laws consistent within realm.

3) Laws can differ from realm to realm.

4) Realms can interact.

Building Block, only one set of rules

Building block logic falls short in this situation as it only encompasses one set of rules, not multiple sets. The laws can’t differ from realm to realm.

Intersecting Planes equivalent to Interacting Realms

How about ‘interacting realms’? What does it mean for realms to interact? Let us liken realms to planes in a metaphorical blend. Applying this metaphorical blend, the interaction between realms could be imagined as occurring at the intersection of two planes. In this regard, ‘interacting realms’ has a rough equivalence with ‘intersecting planes’.

Meta-Realms & Sub-realms

The internal logic of realms has other important features. A realm can be a meta-realm, belong to a meta-realm, and can also have a sub-realm. For instance, France and Germany are sub-realms of the meta-realm of Europe; California is a sub-realm of the United States meta-realm; the Earth is the meta-realm of the continents. In our schema, the Atomic and Subatomic Realms are sub-realms of the Realm of Existence.

Country not in realm of Empires

In order to belong to a common meta-realm, sub-realms must share certain features in common. As an example, let us consider the (meta) Realm of Empires. The Roman, Persian and Islamic political realms of the past were considered empires because they encompassed a huge territory and included a variety of cultures under one political system. In more current times, the British Empire fit into the same category. If it doesn’t encompass a vast territory and include a variety of cultures, a mere country like Cuba does not belong to the Realm of Empires.

Additional Realm Logic that applies to Realms of Existence

5) There can be realms, meta-realms and sub-realms.

6) Common sub-realms have commonality – share certain features.

Essential features of the Realm of Existence?

What are the essential features of the Realm of Existence? What features do our two sub-realms share in common? Put another way, what does it take to even be considered a realm of existence?

Material Realms: Powerful Mathematics with Elegant simplicity

Just as there are many political realms, there are many features of reality that could be realms of existence, for instance the artistic and musical realms. However, the Realms of Matter have some unique features that make them special to the scientific community. Both the Subatomic and Atomic Realms are defined by a mathematical system, albeit different, that provides explanatory power for a vast amount of empirical data. Further each type of mathematics possesses an elegant simplicity.

Attention Realm must have Powerful Mathematics with Elegant simplicity

To be considered in the same league as these Material Realms, a realm must also have a powerful and beautiful mathematics that indicates the internal laws of the realm. Neither art nor music possesses this type of mathematics. While they might be realms of existence, they do not belong to the same type as the Material Realms. How about the Realm of Attention?

Without Mathematical Basis, Realm of Attention is only an Idea

Common Sense, Literary References, Abundance Evidence for Decision-Making

Philosophically, it is reasonable to assert that there is a two-way interaction between the immaterial Mind and material Body. Experientially, each of us seems to make decisions on a daily level that exert an effect upon our material existence. Further, our language and literature is riddled with references to mental energy, consciousness, mind intent, attention, experience and choice. Decision-making seems to be a significant feature of being human.

Why the scientific resistance?

With all this circumstantial evidence, why do significant members of the scientific community stubbornly resist the notion that humans have the capacity for choice?

A lack of mathematics has stigmatized Life’s decision-making process. Scientists have developed elaborate, even fantastical, mathematical systems to characterize the material realms of existence, but have failed to make inroads on the decision-making process. This inability led many to question the very existence of choice. Others merely put choice in the same category as music or art – a feature of human existence that is currently beyond scientific understanding. 

Living Realm lacks Mathematical Foundation

Simply put, the Living Realm associated with decision-making currently lacks a cohesive underlying mathematical structure. To even be included in a common realm of existence with Matter, the Realm of Attention must have a comprehensive mathematical foundation, or at least a semblance or suggestion of one. This requirement is entirely reasonable, as mathematics almost completely defines the Realms of Matter, i.e. both Atomic and Subatomic.

Divine Prestige of Mathematics

Indeed the miraculous achievements of the material sciences provide tangible evidence that Nature is organized in a mathematical fashion. Further the mathematics that describes and predicts the natural world possesses an elegant simplicity. Indeed, suspicions arise when formulas are exceedingly complicated. Due to this ‘beautiful’ connection with Nature, mathematics has acquired an almost divine prestige.

Inability to Mathematize Decision-making leads to doubts

This incredible Math/Matter synergy leads to serious questions and then doubts about Life’s independence. If mathematics can describe matter so perfectly, why has decision-making lagged in this regard? Could it be that choice is an illusion?

Living Behavior resists Quantification

Living behavior has certainly resisted the quantification and equations associated with mathematics. Because Life has not had a mathematical structure of her own, scientists have tended to subordinate living phenomena such as decision-making to the predictable material realm. Under the circumstances, this subordination of Life to Matter makes a lot of sense.

Realm of Matter has Mathematics with Explanatory Power

What would it take to be considered a realm of existence along with the Realms of Matter? The requirements are daunting. Both Realms of Matter are defined by mathematical systems that are descriptive, predictive, provide explanatory power and have an elegant simplicity. For instance, Newton’s force equation identifies a permanent and simple relationship between force, acceleration and matter that always applies under all circumstances. No other aspect of existence has a mathematical system of this caliber. For instance, Psychology employs the mathematics of probability and statistics in both a predictive and descriptive mode, but it provides no explanatory power.

Realm of Existence: Mathematics with Predictive & Explanatory Power

It is almost miraculous that mathematics can provide predictive and explanatory power for any realm of existence. But it does. As such, this is a strict prerequisite for being deemed a realm of existence along with the Realms of Matter. As is evident, joining the rarefied ‘realms of existence’ club in any capacity is quite an achievement.

Realm of Attention requires Powerful Mathematics to be included as Realm of Existence

Unless it has a mathematical system of this stature, the Realm of Attention is not in the same league with the Realms of Matter. Without a mathematical system, the Attention Realm is not even in the game. Further this mathematics must provide predictive and explanatory power for empirical data, as it does for the Material Realms. Plus it must possess an elegant simplicity. In other words, it doesn’t matter how logical or how much supporting evidence there is for the Realm of Attention. It needs a powerful and elegant mathematical system to join the club.

Realm of Information/Living behavior: Associational Studies

What is the current state of affairs regarding mathematics and living phenomena? While scientists have almost completely described and predicted the Realms of Matter with ‘regular’ set-based Equations, living behavior is another story. Many associational studies have accurately characterized significant features of the Living Realm, for instance Sleep and Attention.

Despite Evidence no Causality: Not Deductive of necessity

Despite an abundance of associational studies from a diversity of fields, no causality has been established. For instance, multiple experiments have exhibited that we need sleep, but not why. Scientists know that we have an attention span, but don’t know why. They know that infants require attention for positive development, but don’t know why. Researchers have yet to uncover a mathematical structure that reveals causality. Although they know what happens, they don’t know why it happens. While descriptive and even predictive, Material Mathematics provides no explanatory power regarding these topics.

Simple, Elegant Equations characterize Material Realm

Why is this a problem? Realms of Existence must have a mathematics that provides explanatory power. Scientists have uncovered relatively simple and elegant expressions that are associated with the relationships of atoms, molecules and subatomics in the Material Realm. A well-developed system of dynamics accurately characterizes and provides an understanding of the behavior of atomic matter. A complex system of probability accurately characterizes and provides explanatory power for the behavior of subatomics.

Realm of Information currently has no mathematics

Currently the Realm of Attention has no mathematics of its own. It lacks simple equations that determine the features of decision-making. As of yet, there is no underlying structure that unifies the diversity of findings regarding this realm that is unique to living systems.

Lacking Mathematics, Realm of Information remains a philosophy, a hope for the future

Lacking the comprehensive structure that mathematics provides, the Realm of Attention is fatally flawed in the sense that it remains a mere philosophy – a hope for the future. Mathematics provides validation. To be included as a realm of existence, the Attention Realm requires a coherent mathematical structure. Without an underlying mathematics, Choice remains a mysterious outsider that skeptics can dismiss as an illusion.

Choice Realm requires Mathematical structure for Validation

However, let us suppose that a mathematical system could describe and even predict the rhythms of Attention. Let us further suppose that this same mathematics of Attention that includes both a system of dynamics and a system of probability that provides explanatory power for the decision-making process. If these conditions are satisfied, then the Realm of Attention would at least be a candidate for the elite Realms of Existence Club.

Mathematics of Attention: Living Algorithm -> Data Stream Dynamics

According to our Theory of Attention, there is a mathematical system that fits this description – Data Stream Dynamics (DSD). Does DSD both possess an elegant simplicity and provide explanatory power?

One Simple & Elegant Algorithm

One simple algorithm, i.e. the Living Algorithm (LA), provides the foundation for DSD, i.e. the Mathematics of Attention. This elegant equation generates a system of both dynamics and probability. Living systems appear to take full advantage of these computational abilities to maximize the possibility of fulfilling potentials.

Evolutionary Forces taken advantage of Algorithm

The mathematical processes associated with this elegant algorithm generate some innate forms. Evolutionary processes seem to have taken advantage of these forms. Sleep, Posner's Attention Model , and Dement's Opponent Process Model are all examples of processes that take advantage of the mathematical forms of this simple algorithm. These processes engage many diverse features of human existence, e.g. neurological, hormonal and psychological.

Evidence-based Suppositions provide Explanatory Power

This amazing connection between evolution, biology and mathematical forms led to some suppositions. These suppositions provide explanatory power for a wide range of living experience. For instance, our mathematically based Theory of Attention provides plausible explanations for why we sleep, why we have an attention span, and why interruptions are so devastating to creative sessions. We develop these patterns of correspondence in other articles.

3 Realms: 3 Radically Different Mathematical Realities

Attention might have its own mathematical system. But does this pairing really justify the hypothesis that there is a Realm of Attention that is on a par with the Material Realms?

Traditional Mathematics has many subsets

After all, the traditional mathematics of Matter has many subsets, e.g. electronics, mechanics and fluid dynamics. Everyone agrees that these disciplines, despite their complexity, are part of the Material Realm. Is it possible that Data Stream Dynamics does not define a new realm of existence, but is instead merely a branch of traditional mathematics?

Matter’s Regular Equations vs. Life’s Disobedient Equations

DSD is not a subset of traditional mathematics. Material Mathematics is based in regular equations that obey traditional set theory. In contrast, DSD is based upon the Living Algorithm, which is a recursive, i.e. reflexive, equation. We call these disobedient equations because they do not adhere to set theory. Another article illustrates why regular equations provide a better map of material behavior, while disobedient equations provide a better map of living behavior.

Mathematics the ultimate conceptual metaphor

As mentioned, all abstractions are based in conceptual metaphors. This includes mathematics. Due to its logical precision, mathematics is the ultimate conceptual metaphor. When empirical evidence supports the mathematical metaphor, it trumps any ideational metaphor, no matter how sound the reasoning. This notion is one of the foundations of Science.

Three Realms à Three Realities

It is evident that each Realm of Existence has its own unique mathematical system. Each of the systems has been refined with evidence. These mathematical metaphors provide a fairly accurate map for each realm. These mathematical maps reveal that the underlying structure of reality in each of the three realms is radically different. It would take an incredible leap of faith to employ emergence to explain away these mutually exclusive differences.

Let us flesh out these abstractions by examining the similarities and differences in the 3 mathematical systems.

Material Dynamics, Quantum Dynamics & Information Dynamics

Generally speaking, the traditional mathematics of the Atomic Realm specializes in the behavior of objects, i.e. particles, in the space-time continuum – Material Dynamics; Subatomic Mathematics specializes in the behavior of unimaginable entities, e.g. electrons and photons, in the quantized realm – Quantum Dynamics; and the Mathematics of Attention specializes in data streams – the Dynamics of Information and Attention as applied to living behavior.

Similar system of Dynamics: Mental Constructs & Relationships the same

While each mathematical system has a different specialty, they share a similar system of dynamics. As evidence, the basic mental constructs and their relationships are the same in each of system. These constructs include the typical rates of change: velocity, acceleration and the higher derivatives. Each type of mathematics also includes time, mass/density, momentum, power and energy – one as these constructs apply to particles, another to crazy subatomics and the other to information flow. Although bound by the common architecture of Newtonian dynamics, each mathematical system has its own laws and forms.

Mathematics of Attention: significant differences from Material Mathematics

Each mathematical system is based in a similar system of dynamics that employ the same constructs in the same relationships. However, the Mathematics of Attention has some significant and even extreme differences from the Mathematics of Matter. For instance, time and space are elastic in the Realm of Attention.

Subatomic & Atomic Mathematics equally different

These extreme differences regarding space and time might seem objectionable. For some it might even seem to be a fatal flaw. Yet the Material Realm consists of two planes of existence that are equally different – the Atomic and the Subatomic. The divergence between the two realms was so disturbing to Einstein, the winner of 2 Nobel prizes in Physics, that he spent decades in the unsuccessful attempt to prove that the two realms are the same. Currently, virtually everyone in the scientific community acknowledges that the 2 material realms are entirely different. Further this difference is qualitative, not just quantitative.

Different Mathematics in 3 Realms

To reinforce the notion that the 3 realms and their mathematics are unique, let us examine some of their differences. The Mathematics of the Atomic Realm is continuous, definitive and closed. The Mathematics of the Subatomic Realm is quantized, probabilistic and closed. The Mathematics of Choice is discretized, self-referential and open.

Fundamental Elements Unique

The fundamental elements of the 3 Realms are also unique. The Atomic Realm focuses upon particles such as atoms, molecules and objects. The Subatomic Realm focuses upon electrons and photons, whose behavior has no parallels in the Atomic Realm, e.g. moving forward and backward in time simultaneously. The Realm of Attention focuses upon Information Packets, i.e. the discrete bits of a data stream.

Space & Time are different

Further, the fundamental nature of space and time in the 3 systems is quite different. In the Atomic Realm, space and time are continuous. In the Subatomic Realm, space and time quantized. In the Realm of Attention, space and time are discretized. Due to the day/night cycle and the seasons, time has a circular feature in the Realm of Information and even a spiral feature in the Human Realm.

Energy differences

Energy also has significant differences in the three realms and their mathematics. Again energy is continuous in the Atomic Realm, and quantized in the Subatomic Realm. In both Material Realms, energy is conserved. In the Realm of Attention, energy comes in variable chunks and is not conserved.

Differing Nature of Prediction

The nature of prediction in the 3 realms of existence is also unique. In the Atomic Realm, predictions are definitive on both the individual and collective levels. In the Subatomic Realm, predictions are probabilistic on the individual level and definitive on the collective level. In the Realm of Attention, predictions are probabilistic on both the individual and collective levels.

Conceptualization Different

Finally, we even conceptualize the 3 realms in radically different ways. Our common sense enables us to conceptualize the Atomic Realm as particles moving through space and time. Nobody can really understand the crazy Subatomic Realm, even though mathematics provides an accurate map of its behavior. Again our common sense enables us to conceptualize the Realm of Attention as mental energy influencing the material world through Intention, Attention and Choice.

Table of Differences in the 3 Realms

Following is a table that summarizes the extreme differences between the 3 interacting realms of existence.






Continuous, Definitive, Closed

Quantized, Probabilistic, Closed

Discretized, Iterative, Open


Atoms, Particles


Info Packets

Space & Time



Elastic, Discretized


Continuous, Conserved

Quantized, Conserved

Discretized, Mental,
Not Conserved

Prediction Single




Prediction General






Energy Exchange



Material World

No Parallels in our World

Mental World


Conclusions, Questions & Visualizations

3 Math -> 3 Realities -> 3 Realms

According to our Theory of Attention, Attention belongs to a Realm of Existence that is on a par with the Material Realms. What are the justifications for this bold statement? Each of the 3 realms, i.e. Atomic, Subatomic and Attention, has its own mathematical system. The mathematics reveals that the underlying structure of reality in each realm is radically different. It is virtually impossible to conceptualize these mutually exclusive differences simply as ‘emergent features’ of material building blocks, e.g. atoms or electrons.  The existence of 3 contradictory realities indicates that our Universe is better conceptualized as consisting of 3 interacting realms of existence, rather than as a single Material Realm.

3 Different Mathematical Systems -> 3 Realities -> 3 Interacting Realms

Evidence for Interaction? Technology and Life

How do we know that the realms interact? Much of modern technology is based upon the interaction between the Subatomic and Atomic Realms. Every time we employ Attention to direct our Material Body in any way, e.g. eating food, the Realm of Attention interacts with the Material Realm.

3 Realms: a circular, not linear, relationship

If there are really three realms of existence, what kind of relationship might they have with each other? The Materialist Perspective with its building block metaphor holds that the relationship is linear. Subatomics are added together to generate Atoms, which are added together to generate molecules and then ultimately Cells, hence Life.

Subatomics -> Atomics -> Life

Rather than linear, we suggest that the relationship between the three realms could be circular. We merely add one link to the materialist line to turn it into a living circle. Rather than an emergent structure of Matter, the Realm of Attention exerts an influence upon the Subatomic Realm, thereby completing the circle.

Subatomic Realm -> Atomic Realm -> Realm of Attention -> Subatomic Realm

Is this scenario at least plausible? Although there are some specific reasons justifying this position, they are beyond the scope of this article. Yet, the logic is merely speculative. Is this a problem? Not really. Despite their amazing predictions, scientists don’t even know how the Subatomic and Atomic Realms interact. The connection between the well-researched Atomic and Subatomic Realms remains a complete mystery despite nearly a century of research. The connections between the Realm of Attention and the Material Realm are equally enigmatic.

Conceptualizing the Interactions

How do we conceptualize the interactions between the 3 realms? The interaction between the Atomic and Subatomic Realms generates the Material Realm. The interaction between Material and Attention Realms generates the Living Realm.

Subatomic x Atomic = Material

Material x Attention = Living

3 Interacting Realms visualized as Intersecting Planes

We can visualize these interactions as the intersections of orthogonal planes (shown below).


Impossible paradox has mathematical parallel

It might seem paradoxical, even impossible, to characterize the Universe as three interacting realms that consist of contradictory realities. Yet this strange notion is not so impossible as it seems. In fact, there is a distinct mathematical parallel that is frequently employed as a commonplace problem-solving technique in science and technology. The technique is so simple that it is actually taught in high school.

Parallel: Engineering Solutions: Intersection of Imaginary & Real Numbers

Believe it or not, imaginary numbers are employed to solve many real-life engineering problems. Although these imaginary numbers are a logical impossibility, they combine with real numbers to generate the complex number plane. The intersection of the two mathematical planes, real and imaginary, determines the solution in our living world. In similar fashion, the Living Realm exists at the intersection of the real Material Realm and the imaginary mental Realm of Attention.

Flaw of Intersecting Planes: No Feedback Loops

The above visual metaphor has at least one major flaw. It represents the interactions as intersections between two planes. This does not capture the interactive feedback loops that are characteristic of the Realm of Attention in particular.

Feedback Loops of 3 Interacting Realms as Yin-Yang Diagrams

The following yin-yang diagrams capture this feature of our 3 realms. They represent the interactions as a dynamic process. The black and white dots indicate the mysterious connection between the realms – at least suggesting the interactive feedback loops.


Visual Metaphors neglect 3 Realities

Neither visual metaphor captures the extreme differences between the 3 realms. Intersecting planes typically suggest alternate dimensions that still obey the same laws. Our yin-yang diagrams indicate a polarity. In fact, the laws, forms, and even underlying reality of our realms of existence are mutually exclusive.

Multi-verse consisting of 3 intersecting Universes

How about another verbal metaphor to encompass this feature of our living reality? It might be suggestive of science fiction, but I think it does a better job of mapping the territory. We exist in a Multi-verse consisting of 3 intersecting Universes.

Does Realm of Attention get to join the Club?

This analysis has suggested many reasons why it would more fruitful to conceptualize our universe as consisting of three interacting realms of existence rather than a single material realm. Virtually the entire scientific community would agree that there are definitely two interacting realms of existence – the Subatomic and the Atomic. However, the Realm of Attention is an outsider, with a fan base of one. With all the reasoning presented in this article, will the Realm of Attention get to join the club with the Realms of Matter?

Scientific community must validate Math & supporting Evidence

Not quite. The preceding analysis is based upon sheer reason. We need more than a mere recommendation – from an amateur at that. The scientific community must validate both the supporting evidence and the mathematics before the Realm of Attention becomes a full-fledged member of this elite club.


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