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Epstein, K.J. (1994). Origins of Consciousness. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:1273-1275.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:1273-1275

Origins of Consciousness

Kenneth J. Epstein

Dear Sir:

The co-existence of symmetric and asymmetric logic in Matte-Blanco's theory of bi-logic (Priel, 1994) suggests that consciousness may arise from symmetry breaking in the unconscious. A mechanism for such symmetry breaking can be found in the fact that the classic example of asymmetric logic—'If John is Peter's father then Peter is not John's father, and if Peter is John's son then John is not Peter's son'—is not necessarily true.

An exception to this rule occurs when one-celled organisms divide, since either of the resulting cells can be regarded as the parent or the child of the other. Symmetric logic applies at this level. The ambiguity of such a relationship raises doubt about whether either cell can properly be regarded as the parent or the child of the other, thereby introducing an even more symmetric logic (a supersymmetric logic), according to which both implies neither, i.e. in a situation where two contradictory hypotheses both seem to be correct, neither is really correct.

It is possible that asymmetric logic—the hallmark of consciousness—was introduced at the stage of evolution where it became necessary to distinguish parent from child. At this stage a spontaneous symmetry breaking occurred in the parent—child relation, entailing the advent of asymmetric logic to comprehend the new relation.

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