Consciousness and Liquid Crystals

Consciousness is probably related to the liquid crystalline physical state of animal brains.

Thermoaesthetics

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This is an abstract painting by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s called “Nova Aurigae.” It looks like a fluid mixture of colors with many swirls or spirals and there’s something that looks vaguely like a face emerging from the chaos.
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s “Nova Aurigae.” Photo from WikiArt. Public domain.

“In this scheme of things consciousness is an emergent property of the liquid crystal, which need be no more mysterious than the ‘wateryness’ of water or the ‘colour’ associated with a wavelength.”

— R. K. Mishra, “The ‘Mind’ — Brain Relation: A Physical Analogy” (1965)

Contents

States of Matter
Universality and Aesthetics
Excitement
Learning and Knowledge
Fluidity, Disorder, Dynamism and Learning in Idioms
Solidness, Order, Stasis and Knowledge in Idioms
Works Cited

States of Matter

The liquid crystallinity, ordered fluidity and dynamic stasis of living matter and especially brains is evident in the way other parts of the local universe exist exclusively in either fluid or frozen states and can therefore only freeze or melt, respectively, while life and brains can participate in both transitions. There’s a range of environmental temperatures at which we don’t melt into a dynamic, chaotic fluid or freeze into a motionless, geometric solid, and this goes for the brain more so than the body. Heating or stimulating a brain beyond some point must produce more molecular motion, disorder and overall fluidity than those at which it can operate, resulting in unconsciousness and then death. Cooling the brain must involve relative molecular stasis, order, overall solidness, unconsciousness and death again.

Another way to think about bodies and material states is to imagine taking bodies apart and laying out the pieces in a line according to how solid or fluid they are. On the far right, say, would be blood, tears, saliva, bone marrow, aqueous humor, spinal fluid and so on. On the far left would be bones, nails, scales, spines, horns, shells and teeth. Nonliving material, aside from that derived from life, is either more solid or more fluid than anything in the line and would fall at the left and right extremes.

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Thermoaesthetics

A concept of aesthetic complexity based on universal animal preferences for mixtures of simple, more and less exciting physical and psychological opposites.